Star Rank Hunter Chapter 283
The local fauna started crawling out of their hideouts after the weather had cleared up. When Cillin first arrived, things were still pretty quiet. But now, it was pretty common for the surveillance system to pick up some roars and cries of pain from somewhere. The role of the predator and prey were always changing. In the past, the wild animals were one of the hegemons of the forest, but they were nothing but prey in front of the white mice.
Cillin’s group had cleaned out almost all the white mice who were lurking in the forest, but more had moved in after the snowstorm had passed. The noises had attracted their attention, not to mention that the forest was a good source of nutrients.
Gu Xin, Tu Ba and Erty had just returned from a trip to the forest. They had taken out three white mice and a couple of bio-soldiers during their journey, and they had brought back two dead animals as today’s food. Every time anyone came back from outside, they were required to go through a sterilization procedure. Neo’s mysophobia wasn’t completely unfounded, however. There were plenty of harmful bacteria outside, and no one could tell how many new ones had appeared after snowfall. The mutation rate was so high that they couldn’t afford to let down their guard.
Cillin and Neo worked together in the lab to create several types of composite antiserums. Everyone was injected with a shot of each antiserum to prevent infection, with emphasis given to Ah Shou and Hei Dou. They were the ones who had the lowest chance of survival if they caught a heavy infection because they had the weakest constitution out of all of them.
Every day, Wheeze looked at its claws and counted the remaining days until their return.
“How are things today?” Cillin asked the trio who just came back from outside.
Gu Xin, Tu Ba and Erty walked in after they were sterilized in the new sterilization room. They were scanned for bacteria first before sterilization. If any new bacteria were found on their person, a sample would be taken so that Cillin and Neo could refresh their database and create new antiserums.
“Things are going relatively well. We’re used to dealing with the white mice now, and it doesn’t take too long to kill them. There are more and more of those black bugs as of late though,” Gu Xin said while wiping his face.
Ever since the weather had cleared up, a lot of black bugs had popped out of nowhere. Their heads were flat and round, and they had no eyes. Instead, they relied on sensory cells that looked like eyes to perceive their surroundings. They had no individual limbs, and they moved like snakes. Their speed was very impressive.
Although these black bugs were only as big as a human palm, they had thin, sharp teeth that looked like the barbs on a feline’s tongue. These special teeth gave them the ability to rasp the meat from the body of their prey. The most important to take note of was their impressive numbers, however.
Cillin’s choice of weapon against these bugs was a cold beam weapon because they were strong against heat, but weak against cold. Of course, that didn’t mean it was a bad idea to throw a firebomb into a group of black insects. They’re heat resistant, not fire resistant.
“These things normally hide underground. They probably came out because most of the low-lying lands are currently flooded by water,” Erty said. He had killed plenty of black bugs today.
“The important thing is to not let them bite you. They may be tiny, but a single bite would still put a hole in your body.” Tu Ba had performed a test to check their bite force, and he discovered that it could crush a piece of wood into bits like a saw. It wouldn’t be a fun experience on the human body.
Cillin wasn’t really paying attention to the black bugs, however. He had a feeling that this was just the calm before the storm. He shot a glance at Ah Shou and found the girl hugging a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice and drinking to her heart’s content. Judging from her lack of reaction, the “storm” was probably not a natural disaster.
Wheeze was rolling across the table idly when its ears suddenly moved. Seemingly unsure, it jumped to the floor and circled around the living hall once before looking at Cillin, “An earthquake is coming!”
Ah Shou choked on her fruit juice and coughed for a moment. Then, she stared at the gray cat doubtfully and asked, “Are you sure? I haven’t sensed anything.”
“It’s an artificial earthquake, not a natural one,” Wheeze said with confidence. It had sensed a bunch of machines operating underground.
Cillin told Wheeze to come closer before opening a local map.
“Roughly speaking, which area do you think will be affected?” Cillin asked before putting the light screen in front of Wheeze.
The rest of the group had gathered around with curiosity as well, and Neo in particular was staring at Wheeze with suspicion in his eyes. He would be performing his own analyses to confirm Wheeze’s conclusion after it had pointed out the affected areas.
Wheeze raised its paw and pointed at a couple of spots. The good news was that their base was nowhere close to the center of these earthquakes, just the fringes. This meant that they would be feeling some tremors, but that would be the worst of it.
When Neo was done calculating, he let out a sigh of relief and said, “If what this cat is saying is true, then the base will not be harmed by the earthquakes. It’s tough enough to withstand the tremors.”
“But, isn’t that Monde’s place?” Hei Dou said while pointing at a spot near one of the epicenters.
“Monde? You mean that nutcase? I don’t know him.” Neo clarified so quickly it was as if the very notion of knowing Monde would lower his intelligence.
Neo and Monde always addressed each other as “that nutcase”.
Everyone shot Neo an odd look. Neo was obviously the most neurotic person in their group, so they couldn’t help but be curious about the person whom Neo called a nutcase.
“Monde is a person who knows animal language. He can understand their cries and read their facial and body language,” Hua Li explained.
“No, that’s incorrect!” Neo immediately corrected Hua Li, “That nutcase doesn’t understand animal language at all. It’s all just an underhanded trick, get it? Don’t you know that he always fails his language class? That’s the undeniable fact!”
Hua Li ignored him and continued on her brief explanation of the person named Monde. She was just finished speaking when Hei Dou’s bracelet suddenly lit up.
Feeling no need to find a private space to take the call, Hei Dou tapped a button on her bracelet immediately. A light screen popped open, and a young boy with a flattop haircut (broom head).
“My dear Hei Dou, I need your he… who’s that behind you? What is that nutcase doing at your place?!” Monde said with a look of disgust.
Neo pushed Hei Dou’s face away with glee before wagging his finger, saying, “There are two mistakes in your sentence. One, I’m not at Hei Dou’s place, Hei Dou’s at my place. Two, the ‘nutcase’ is your eternal, inseparable tag, not mine.”
Monde’s eyes twitched before he forced himself to look at Hei Dou, saying, “Dear, can you tell this nutcase to get out of my face? I want to talk with your alone. It’s urgent!”
Hei Dou glanced around her before mouthing an apology. Then, she picked up the light screen and ran toward her own lab.
“Is Monde calling because he discovered that his base is near an epicenter?” Hua Li asked with a frown.
“Impossible. There’s no way he would know about that.” Neo absolutely refused to believe that Monde possessed that level of intelligence.
But Hei Dou walked out soon after and informed everyone that Monde was aware of an upcoming earthquake in his area. His original plan was to hide at Hei Dou’s place, but he didn’t know that Hei Dou had moved to Neo’s base. Unfortunately for Monde, Hei Dou was the only he knew around the area, and he would rather die than beg for Neo’s help.
“How did that broom head know that an earthquake is going to hit his place?” Gu Xin asked.
Cillin pointed at at a black bug specimen on Neo’s lab shelf and said, “It’s probably through that. These insects live underground all the time, so they should be more sensitive to underground changes.”
“You mean that broom head really can understand their language?” Erty asked while touching his chin. How on earth did he manage that? It was so weird.
“He only figured it out because of an underhanded trick and a statistical analysis on the species. Nothing more, nothing less!” Neo maintained his stance.
Cillin ignored Neo’s rant. He had other things to consider.
“The earthquakes won’t affect us because we’re at the edge of the epicenters, but we’re almost certainly going to have to face hordes of escaping creatures.”
“That’s true.” Tu Ba voiced his agreement, “I believe we’ll be quite busy when that happens.”
The group were discussing countermeasures when Hei Dou’s bracelet lit up again.
“Er… Please give me a minute!” Hei Dou ran into her lab again in embarrassment.
It didn’t take long for Hei Dou to return to the living hall, but this time her bracelet wasn’t turned off. On the screen, Monde stared at them like he was having a constipation.
Knowing that Monde was too embarrassed to make his request, Hei Dou spoke up timidly, “Monde and his friends want to come over…”
“Rejected!” Neo turned down the request immediately.
The veins on Monde’s forehead bulged a bit, but he forced himself to stay quiet and stared at Hei Dou instead. Unwilling to turn Monde away just like that, she turned to look at Cillin instead. Out of all the new friends she had made, Cillin was the one she trusted the most, not to mention that he was the only one who could speak with Neo about those high level stuff that were completely incomprehensible to her. Plus, Neo would listen to him.
Monde had obviously noticed Hei Dou’s gaze too, but he couldn’t see who she was looking at due to the angle of the screen. But whoever she was looking at, it definitely wasn’t that nutcase Neo.
“Friends?” Cillin asked.
“Mm. Monde has three people with him just like you guys,” Hei Dou explained.
“Don’t worry, they’re all good people. They saved my life before!” Afraid that Cillin would turn him down, Monde hurriedly clarified for his friends. Understandably, no one wanted to accept a stranger into their midst in an environment like this unless the circumstances were exceptional. Although he couldn’t see Cillin from his end, he understood that this person must have some level of authority at Neo’s place.
“Oh, no! That nutcase has a bunch of liabilities too!” Neo yelled.
All three people standing not far away from Monde heard his comment and felt their facial muscles spasm. Liability? You’re the liability! Your entire family’s a liability! Also, that’s not how you use the word “liability”!
“That nutcase has a huge base, so I’m sure he can accommodate us. In return, we promise to take care of some of your troubles,” Monde continued while pointedly ignoring Neo’s refusal.
“That’s unacceptable. Who knows if you’ll become invaders?”
“Are you questioning my integrity?”
“Integrity? Do you even have such a thing?”
Seeing that Neo and Monde were about to get into an argument again, Cillin tapped Neo’s shoulder before pointing at the lab, saying, “Your molecular map is done.”
The need to deal with his molecular map immediately took priority over his argument with Monde as Neo rushed into his lab. The place was much quieter without him.
“Let’s continue with our conversation. There’s a total of four of you, right? I’d like to see your three companions,” Cillin said.
Hei Dou shifted her light screen slightly so that it’d display Cillin. She kept Gu Xin and the others out of the picture, however.
Cillin raised an eyebrow when Monde’s companions had appeared on the screen. One of them was the “Orville” Hua Li had encountered, and Gu Xin and Erty had spoken of.
“Please give us a minute,” Cillin left to speak with his group and confirm if Orville was trustworthy or not.
“Orville?” Tu Ba twirled his blade and said, “That boy isn’t a good person, but I do trust his ability to read the situation and act as appropriate.”
Cillin looked at Gu Xin and Erty and got nods of agreement in return. Orville was definitely not a good person—he was even infamous in a certain circle—but for all his flaws he wasn’t a man without principles.
Finally, Cillin checked with Hua Li to see if she could accept Orville. If they couldn’t bear each other, then keeping him around would be like keeping a time bomb that’s waiting to explode.
Surprisingly, Hua Li didn’t object to Orville. Neither of them were hurt in the fight, and the past was in the past.
Cillin went back to Hei Dou and was greeted with a look of expectation from Monde. He allowed both groups to meet each other, and it looked like everyone seemed to know each other to a certain extent (besides Cillin).
Cillin went to Neo after obtaining the Monde’s promises, and it took quite a bit of effort to finally convince him into accepting four new guests into his base. The fact was, Neo just wanted to see Monde acting meek after he arrived. He was certain that it would be a very pleasant experience. As for the rest of Monde’s group, Neo didn’t care about them at all. They weren’t even close to being as attractive as the experiments he was conducting.
As for how Monde and his companions were going to make their way over, that was their own business. The most Cillin’s group was going to do was send someone to escort them after they had reached the perimeter. Right now, Cillin and Hei Dou were busy inspecting their systems and reinforcing some defenses.
Everyone had their own things to work with, and no one was paying attention to the gray cat lying on top of the table. Wheeze was closing its eyes like it was asleep, and its tail was perfectly still, meaning that it wasn’t plotting something devious as usual. Its ears were vibrating at a frequency that was almost indistinguishable unless someone was paying close attention to it, and Cillin decided not to bother it while he was passing through the living hall and shooting it a glance.
Wheeze probably discovered “that” already.
It didn’t take long before the forest started growing noisy. It almost sounded like the animals were arguing with each other as some animals from other regions joined the battle and made an even bigger commotion.
“They’re here!” Hei Dou said looking at the screen.
Gu Xin, Erty and Tu Ba grabbed their guns and went out of the base without a word. For the past few days they’d been incredibly bored, and there was nothing they could do to help with Hei Dou and Cillin’s work, much less Neo’s. They were incredibly uncomfortable with the fact that they were almost useless besides the usual hunting. Was this what Neo meant when he said “liability”?
Hua Li chose to stay inside the base. By now, She knew that she was as fragile as an egg compared to the fighters of the group, but she didn’t grow depressed because of it. They simply had different areas of expertise. The person who really astonished Hua Li was Cillin. Up until this point, he had helped Neo to refresh their bacterium database, create antiserums and antidotes for several types of plant and animal toxin; modified his own weapons and bullets; cooperated with Hei Dou to reinforce the bases’ defenses and created hidden surveillance devices with limited resources. Combat wise, Cillin was at least as good as the fighters, and his constitution was out of the world. She had never seen him getting sick or poisoned so far.
Just who was Cillin? People like him were rare even inside the Black Viper, and he was obviously not one of them.
Man… If only I can dissect him and take a look!
Hua Li’s dissection fetish was piqued for one rare moment, causing Cillin to feel a chill behind his back and shiver while he was setting up their defenses outside.
Some time later, Gu Xin, Erty and Tu Ba returned with Monde’s group. One of them had been scratched by a flying beast, and their wound was already growing infected. In fact, it looked like a superinfection. Monde only looked a little pale, and the other two people only suffered minor injuries. The fact that they all made it here safely was proof that they were no weaklings.
“The journey would’ve been much harder if we were slow to depart,” Monde said while gulping down a glass of water, his breathing still heavy.
He was right. The forest had been noisy when they departed from the base, but it wasn’t too bad. But now, it sounded like a war was going on inside the forest. Most of their injuries had been inflicted during the latter half of their journey, and the guy who took a swipe was hurt during the last twenty minutes.
Everyone went through the sterilization procedure after they came in, and the group was surprised to find six new types of bacteria in Monde’s group. No wonder the scratch had deteriorated as quickly as it did, Orville and his companions thought to themselves.
After Monde had regained himself, his curiosity was piqued by the gray cat lying on top of the table. He liked animals, and he often interacted with them to read their thoughts.
Wheeze got impatient after it was poked repeatedly by Monde, so it taught him a lesson and scratched him on the back of his palm, bleeding the boy who hadn’t taken a single injury during the journey here. When Wheeze opened its eyes and stared at Monde, the boy gulped and meekly sprayed his wound with the recovery spray Ah Shou passed him. He had read the meaning and emotion in Wheeze’s eyes in a glance: touch me again, and your hands aren’t the only thing that’s going to be hurt.
The earthquake finally began.
The screen showed everyone what was happening outside in real time. The surface of the ground near the epicenter was already starting to fall apart. Although this was no natural earthquake, no one would think that it was artificial if Wheeze hadn’t discovered this.
A lot of animals were starting to run their way, the black bugs being the most numerous of them all. They hadn’t seen many white mice or predators yet, however. It would probably take a while for them to show up.
Cillin took out a box and split the guns and ammos he had modified to the fighters. There were cold beam weapons and a couple of fire bombs that would burn up to several thousand degrees Celsius.