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Chapter 30

Plague Doctor
     Chapter 30: Hard Skin

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    "Is this a human specimen?"

    "Surely not, which part of it looks like human skin?"

    Ten groups of students discussed animatedly with each other. The contents of the ten anatomical table refrigerators were almost the same thing. A large rectangular piece that seems like a part of a creature's torso, but the exposed skin was dark and slightly rotten. Even the pungent smell of formalin could not conceal the distinctly foul odour it carried.

    "Tycoon Jun, what do you think?" Cai Zixuan asked again.

    Gu Jun stared at the thing on the anatomical table. The more he looked at it, the more he was struck by a sense of familiarity.

    "I think this is the chest area of some sort of creature," he said to Cai Zixuan and Wang Ruoxiang. "Look here and here." He pointed to the four cross-sections of the foreign body part which was situated at the top and bottom, as well as the left and right. "I imagine that these cross-sections were originally connected to the neck, upper limbs, and abdomen. "

    "That seems to be the case." Wang Ruoxiang visualised the complete torso while frowning. "So this is a humanoid creature?"

    

    Cai Zixuan was surprised. "Could it be a malformed body caused by another sort of disease?"

    Other students had this idea as well. Sun Yuheng and Yang Ming of the Qingyun University team felt this way. It seems that the situation was really very serious.

    "It may be or it may be a variant of the same disease," Gu Jun said. His right hand was slightly probing the chest. It was definitely the chest with the worst texture he had ever felt.

    1

    The epidermis could be said to be the skin, but it felt more like a thick layer of hyperplastic keratin. If you pressed it harder, you can feel a strong sense of resistance. It is a bone; a large piece of bone on the chest. A flat bone?

    Gu Jun thought and opened the incomplete anatomical reference in his mind. Comparing the two, they seem to be the same creature.

    "So how do we start?" Wang Ruoxiang asked. She was the first assistant. Cai Zixuan was the second assistant, and Gu Jun was the chief surgeon.

    Ever since Gu Jun showed his skills back in the laboratory, he was the one taking charge.

    "I'll think about it first." Gu Jun was still looking at the chest, designing an anatomical plan.

    Other contestants were looking at it at the same time. The professors and students in the audience were staring as well.

    The first step of dissection is to make an incision and to separate the layers of tissues, organs, and structures step by step.

    If you directly stab a scalpel in to make an incision, it was not dissection but dismemberment.

    Only through proper dissection can the diseased organs and its component structures be studied. What were the differences in size, shape, structure, texture and other characteristics compared with its normal state, this was the only way one could understand the related pathology.

    Through dissection of the malformity, it was thus possible to clearly understand its physiological structure and find out what kind of creature it was.

    These were the real purpose of studying anatomy in the medical world.

    If the chest was part of human anatomy, the students were apparent on what to do. The mid-chest incision, the upper chest incision, the lower chest incision, the oblique chest incision... Now they could only stare in confusion. They could only fully appreciate what those pioneers of human anatomy felt when they first held their knives.

    They could only deliberate while undergoing the dissection, and they had to prevent dismembering the corpse as well. This was the real difficulty of this round of assessment.

    "Students, please freely exhibit your skills," Professor Qin spoke again. "Oh. I forgot to mention, but please complete this dissection within two hours."

    Some of the student contestants immediately grew anxious. There were only two hours? This was an hour shorter than the usual routine anatomical dissection.

    The judges were not surprised towards the crowd's adverse reaction. This was not the first time such an assessment was carried out. Basically, the students would end up dismembering the corpses in the end. It just depends on who was more creative while doing so and who exhibited more skills.

    Their eyes wandered around. Even if they knew that Gu Jun was fool's gold, they still wanted to see what else this kid would do. At that moment, when they saw that Gu Jun was standing still at the dissection table, the several judges could not help but whisper to each other.

    "The kid is dumbfounded."

    "I reckon that he hasn't properly grasped the knowledge of human anatomy. How can he not be dumbfounded?"

    "Let's see if he has any talents in surgery. Perhaps, we can still teach him later. After all, his willpower is excellent."

    Soon after Professor Qin urged, there was a group of students who started first. The four of them were a bunch of miscellaneous soldiers from different schools. They were unfamiliar with each other's names. Their strategy was straightforward, just follow the anatomical operation of the human chest. The shape of the two looks similar anyway.

    Conventionally, the surgeons would find the upper edge of the Manubrium sterni or the xiphoid to find the correct position. Alas, the nominees could not locate either of the 2. However, they still dutifully estimated and made a midline marking on the specimen based on gut feeling. Thereafter, they picked up the scalpel and stabbed into the skin.

    Immediately, they froze in astonishment. They were unable to cut through.

    The texture of this black and smelly layer of "skin" was very hard. Once the scalpel was stabbed in, it seemed to be stuck there like a pedestrian who fell into a pool of concrete.

    2

    At the same time, other students who had attempted to dissect the skin first also encountered a similar problem.

    Some students chose to start from the cross-sections, such as Sun Yuheng from Qingyun University. However, they immediately encountered another problem. Let's not talk about how stiff the flesh was that it couldn't be cut, but there were bones if one cut deeper. They were obstructed by bones everywhere. It was impossible to know where to break off.

    These bones were like boulders blocking the passageway; you can't enter the thoracic walls and chest cavity without moving them away.

    But how do we move them?

    Among the ten groups of students, only Gu Jun's group has yet to make a move. Gu Jun merely asked Wang Ruoxiang and Cai Zixuan to swap the chest's position a few times, before finally returning it back to the supine position. He can basically be sure that this was what is in the map of the incomplete anatomical reference.

    "The outer layer is all hard keratin and has no tissues or organs."

    Gu Jun picked up a large scalpel, held it irregularly, and cut out a piece of keratin from the cortex of the specimen.

    The judges at his side saw him in this abnormal posture. Does he really want to dismember the body?

    "Indeed, it's lacking in tissues and organs." Wang Ruoxiang took it and examined it. She really couldn't see the superficial fascia, blood vessels, etc. It was a mass of dead skin.

    "This is not a human being," Cai Zixuan suddenly said. "It doesn't seem to be a mammal? Is there even such a thing?"

    "Let's leave it aside for now," said Gu Jun. The blood vessels were not clear, but it seemed that this thing still has "nerves" which he knew the location of. "I think the outermost layer is its protective film. It is composed of skin and muscle. It even has components of bones inside."

    He drew a better boundary line on the specimen according to the incomplete anatomical reference and said to the other two, "Remove all the cortex in these positions. You don't need to be gentle. Use all your strength and dig out everything cleanly. Only bare bones should be left."

    "Huh?" Cai Zixuan didn't quite understand, but still nodded. "I'll listen to you."

    "Okay." Wang Ruoxiang also didn't understand. This kind of instruction is more suitable for the pork butcher in a vegetable market.

    However, the two still obeyed Gu Jun. They were now frantically cutting, digging, peeling, and picking using a large scalpel. The dissection table suddenly descended into a disorganised mess.

    What are they trying to do? The surrounding contestants around them saw their crazed actions and were all puzzled. The onlooking professors and students in the stadium couldn't understand it as well. Isn't this disrespecting the principle of anatomy?

    "Hmm?" The judges however revealed expressions of surprise. Professor Qin's eyebrows jumped. This Tycoon Jun seemed to have some sort of plan.