Star Rank Hunter - Chapter 356.2
Chapter 356: Who Are They [Part 2]
Cillin blended in with the crowd so he wouldn’t stand out. The few captives closest to the entrance were arguing with each other over the best way to open the door. It would’ve devolved into a brawl if the door hadn’t slid open on its own without warning, prompting everyone to race out of it like rats. They had no idea where they were going, but they were incapable of accepting any suggestion from their fellow inmates. Right now, all they cared about was to run so hard that the labcoats and fully-armed strange men could never catch them again.
The captives were injured, so of course their stamina and speed suffered. This wasn’t the case for Cillin, so he quickly vanished from everyone’s senses in no time. However, instead of running toward the exit, the hunter returned to the fork he passed through when he was first escorted to his prison room, took a turn, and made his way toward another room that seemed to be holding captives as well. Suddenly, before he even got close to the room, the sluice gate and the cages holding countless genetically modified test subjects were unlocked.
Cillin had no doubt that it was the handiwork of the mysterious group that had freed him and the captives just now.
He took out a gun from his leaf ring, aimed at the awakening modified test subjects and squeezed the trigger repeatedly. The gun carried special bullets that scattered into a dozen or so pellets upon firing. Each pellet contained several vectors that he had extracted from the medicine-feeding flies of that Sector E planet, key enzymes and buffers.
The modified test subjects’ metabolic activities should break down the pellets quickly. The goal was to make their biology resistant to most drugs.
Generally speaking, the test subjects of a genetic modification research were kept subdued or unconscious via certain drugs. It was because the experiments made them—especially the failed ones—unstable to the point where they were physically incapable of suppressing their own emotions. More accurately, their original ego had been artificially wiped out by the modification process, so anyone who was a failed subject was more or less stuck in a permanent state of frenzy.
A large majority of the successful ones were incorporated into Miracle’s private army. They were the heavily armed strange men that had escorted the prisoners on the ship and the research base. Miracle wasn’t yet satisfied with their abilities, however. They wanted to perform a second enhancement on top of the foundation they had already built, and the modified test subjects Cillin was shooting at was exactly that.
Of course, these modified test subjects weren’t immune to viruses. However, they lacked the mind or emotion to panic over the possibility of death. Like brainwashed people, they would do anything they were commanded to do until they were physically could not anymore.
Cillin fully expected the base’s guards to show up very soon, and he didn’t believe that his in-mates for several hours were capable of fending them off. That was why he was unleashing these failed test subjects against the successful ones. Miracle certainly deserved to have a taste of their own medicine, not to mention that it would allow him to continue operating within the base unhindered.
He could already sense some strange men making their way toward him, so he quickened his movement. He was able to fire the last bullet in his chamber right as the first awakened test subject swung its fist at him. He dodged the attack and ran down the other end of the passage.
The awakening test subjects were going to give chase when a chorus of footsteps rang from the opposite direction. It wasn’t long before they decided to deal with the louder, much more agitating source of stimuli instead.
Who was the stronger between the two groups, the stable test subjects who were only enhanced one time, or the unstable test subjects who were enhanced two twice? Whatever the result might be, Cillin didn’t care enough to stay behind to watch the show. The only reason he stopped by the room was to pit the failed test subjects against the base’s armed force and buy himself more time.
There were a couple more rooms where failed test subjects were held, but it was unlikely Cillin could get them all in one go. He might wake them if he happened to pass by one such room, but he wasn’t going to go out of his way to seek them out.
The chaos brewing inside the base steadily worsened. The virus outbreak already brought a lot of panic, and the sudden release of the captives and the modified test subjects made things even worse. It was to the point no one could bother to deal with the inciter himself.
Inside a warehouse on the other side of the base, a woman with a bob haircut and delicate features was tapping away on her device on top of a box. She was the one who had unlocked all the cages within the research base.
Some time later, the man with metallic skin and indistinguishable facial features from before stepped through a rippling wall and into the warehouse.
“Finally! I’ve gathered all the data, so let’s get out of this place already!” The woman urged immediately.
“What rotten luck,” the metallic man complained as soon as he appeared to his companion.
It was as he said. If the virus outbreak hadn’t happened, they would’ve been able to stay longer, gather more data and even make some trouble for Miracle here and there. Unfortunately, they had to cut their mission short due to something that should only happen only once in a blue moon.
“What do we do if we were infected too, Silver? Should we spread it to everyone else in the organization?” The woman packed her things and jumped down the box. “Maybe we should shoot them a message now and get them to prepare our funeral… or not. I refuse to die together with you!”
“… go fuck yourself.”
“That is not how you speak to a lady! By the way, I did well this mission, right? I opened the cages pretty quick, right? How do I compare to my brother? And stop walking so fast, dammit!”
Silver didn’t slow down or even look back in the slightest despite the woman’s protest. One foot already inside the wall, he said, “You’re not even close to being as good as your brother. Juno would’ve taken half the time you took to complete everything.”
“Impossible! There’s no way the gap between our skill is that huge!”
“I don’t care what you think! Now get moving! Stola is waiting for us!” Silver raised his voice.
After they exited the warehouse, they soundlessly bypassed a restaurant and arrived at an employee’s hostel. Inside the lounge, there was a drugged researcher who was snoring away like thunder, and a youngster sitting cross-legged on top of a bed and thinking about god-knows-what.
“Not the time to think, Stola. Pack your stuff and let’s go!” Silver kicked the guy out of his daydream as soon as he reached him.
Stola stretched his back and worked his leg a bit after he came to. Then, he said, “You’re so slow, Judy.”
Silver immediately shot Judy a “I told you so” look. Judy merely humphed at the response, turned around and started toward the exit. When the first heard about the virus outbreak, they had immediately injected themselves with a drug that increased their resistance. Theoretically speaking, it should help them resist the unknown virus to a certain degree, but it was impossible to say for certain until they had returned to their organization. That was why they needed to leave as soon as possible.
“This way’s empty. I’ve checked the cameras.” Judy pointed down one passage when they arrived at a fork.
The trio quickened their footsteps down the passage. However, they encountered two people immediately after they rounded a corner.
Although Silver and Stola often made fun of Judy, they really trusted her abilities quite deeply. The organization wouldn’t entrust such an important mission to her if she wasn’t good at her job after all. However, the two people standing not far away from them proved that Judy had failed at her task. Whoever the duo were, they were capable of avoiding Judy’s detection, and they were exceptionally good at concealing themselves. Otherwise, they would’ve noticed them long before they even rounded the corner.
The duo was none other than Czedow and Shusag. They were still wearing their disguises, so they weren’t afraid to be recorded by the unknown trio.
Shusag was quite curious about the trio. According to Czedow, someone had altered the security cameras of this corridor and even did their task for them. He wasn’t expecting to run into the mysterious group so soon, however.
The stand-off lasted less than five seconds before Silver fired a bunch of metallic nails at Shusag and Czedow. At the same time, he dashed right into the wall next to him.
Shusag stretched out his hand, but didn’t use his special nail bones. A pair of gloves that looked like some sort of metallic claw covered his hands, and he used one claw to knock away the nails and the other to catch the long spike that had suddenly jutted out of the wall next to him. On the other end of the sharp spike was Silver’s palm.
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Judy backed out of range the second Silver threw out his nails. She had worked with the duo long enough to know that her presence would only limit Silver and Stola’s ability to fight.
Stola acted while Shusag was handling Silver, and Czedow was dodging the nails. Compared to his metallic companion, Stola was much “gentler” in the sense that all he did was raise his hand.
A single bullet flew toward the space where Czedow was dodging to. Czedow raised his hand in front of his forehead, but the bullet passed right through his palm and struck him squarely in the glabella. That wasn’t all. Six other spots on Czedow’s body including the heart were shot as well.
The man had fired seven bullets in one motion, and each bullet was enough to claim a person’s life.
That wasn’t the end of his offense yet. There wasn’t much distance between the duo to begin with, so he appeared in front of Czedow in a flash and thrust his arm forward. From behind, it would look like Czedow had been turned into a porcupine by countless blades.
Originally, Stola was planning to back away upon landing his shots on Czedow. He was pretty confident in his shooting skills. However, he suddenly had a sense that something wasn’t quite right, but he couldn’t explain why he was feeling this way. That was why he had dealt the extra blow.
After Stola had backed away from his victim, his expression abruptly turned stiff and grim. It was because he saw no change in Czedow’s expression whatsoever. Not only that, not a single drop of blood could be seen anywhere, and the seven gunshot wounds and the puncture wound on the robot’s torso were closing at an incredible rate!
It was Czedow’s turn to charge, and his speed proved to be as fast as Stola’s. The latter immediately expanded a semicircular wall of blades in front of himself.
Crack crack crack crack—
The sound of metal breaking resonated crisply inside the passage. If Stola’s attempt to skewer Czedow had ended in failure, then Czedow’s attempt to claw through the wall of blades with his bare hands was one of resounding success. He was about to reach the man hiding behind it when suddenly, he paused in mid-movement and retreated back to Shusag’s side. He said, “Let’s go!”
Shusag obeyed his companion without hesitation. He pulled aside the spike jutting his way and ran away with Czedow.
Earlier, Czedow had received a message from Cillin saying to speed up the operation. That was why he withdrew and left with Shusag after he finished capturing all the data he could capture regarding the trio.
After Czedow left, Stola took a closer look at his blade wall and noted that the claw-shaped depression—or rather protrusion from his point of view—was only a dozen or so centimeters away from him. He was going to activate his life-saving shield when his opponent suddenly canceled his attack.
“Who are they? Are they Grim Reaper, or?” Judy asked.
Judy, Silver and Stola were members of Merciless, so they knew that the duo couldn’t belong to their sworn enemy, Mist. However, they didn’t look like they belonged in the military either, especially the guy who almost injured Stola. The only organization Judy could think of that matched the guy’s profile of strength and mystery was Grim Reaper.
Stola shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“Let’s get out of this place. We can speak theories after we’re safe,” Silver walked out of the wall and said to Stola and Judy.
“Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go.” Judy recollected herself and caught up to Silver.
After the trio had left, another person appeared from the far end of another corridor. He was none other than Yue Lou. Yue Lou was currently staring at the now empty corridor and scratching his head curiously. He heard enough to know that the trio belonged to Merciless, but he still knew nothing about the duo who opposed them.
Yue Lou recognized their appearance of course, but he was one hundred percent certain that they weren’t Sward and his adjutant. Sward didn’t fight like that, and his adjutant definitely wasn’t a monster who could survive being shot or skewered like a porcupine.
The shooter then glanced at the brown spots on his hand and sighed: man, what an unlucky year this has been!
The appearance of more and more infected kept fueling the panic. Although the guards had successfully quelled the riots via brute force, they couldn’t suppress the growing panic in everyone’s heart. Of all the bad news they had received thus far, the most despairing one was without a doubt the news that cases had appeared throughout all nine big research bases. Despite their best attempts, they weren’t able to prevent the virus from slipping past their defenses.
The rumors grew abundant after that. Some said that their patients had lost their consciousness. Some said their base had had their first deaths. Some said…
The brown spots were like the grim reaper’s mark. They thought it was scary, but they had no idea that the panic was just beginning for the half of the planet that had just begun their night cycle.