Chapter 344: Drag ‘Em In
A small breeze mixed the faint, sweet scent of fruit from inside the base and Shusag’s alcohol stench together. It was bizarre. Something about this base felt completely different from all the hunter bases they used to be in.
Shusag jiggled the last droplets of alcohol in his bottle before gulping it all. When he was done, he tossed the bottle to a corner of the defense wall before looking back at the five people. “Are you the ones sent by the higher-ups to join us?”
“Yes. There were more of us, but most of them flew back to the headquarters and are probably applying for a transfer right now, so…” Mogas shrugged. “The five of us are all you’re going to get.”
“Oh, I see. I guess they just aren’t destined to be with us. A shame.”
Again, he said that, but his expression and tone were anything but that. “Anyway, our commander ordered us to keep you guys from walking into the base, so that’s what we’re going to do. Understand? Not a single one of you are walking into our base.”
The five hunters frowned. Most B Squads would be happy to accept anyone from the A squad, especially one who that in the development stage like the Eleventh Squad. However, the reception they received was very different from what they thought it would be. Were they rejecting them? No, there wouldn’t even be a reception if that was the case. Was it a test then?
While they were trying to puzzle out the Eleventh Squad’s intentions, Czedow closed his book, put it away and jumped down to the ground. Then, he and Shusag moved to one side the base entrance each and stood there like they were guards.
Czedow and Shusag’s behavior made the group of five even more certain of their conjecture. This has to be a test!
A look of realization passing through Mogas’ expression, he tossed his backpack a short distance away from himself before performing some warm-up exercises. He even did some unsightly boxing that was almost certainly something he came up on the spot.
The other four hunters also set down their bags, but without putting on a show like Mogas did. Pango, the young man with the nickname “Panda Eyes” even moved to the back as if he didn’t want to get involved in the fight.
“Alright, let’s go!” shouted Mogas while facing toward Shusag and Czedow with an incredibly exaggerated pose.
Shusag raised his chin to indicate that they could begin whenever they wanted to.
Suddenly, the wind direction changed without warning. Previously, it was blowing from Shusag’s direction toward the five hunters. Now, it was the opposite. The sand on the ground formed a small vortex before moving a couple of inches away from its original location and scattering.
A serious-looking Mogas lifted his toes slightly and bent backward. Then, he pushed out his palm toward Shusag and Czedow with a mighty shout!
Five small, tralucent marbles flew out of his hand and drew a surprisingly pitiful parabola across the air. They landed on the ground and rolled for a bit before stopping about a meter away from Shusag and Czedow.
At the surveillance room, Cary and the other spectators also felt a twitch in their eyes.
The other four hunters did nothing when Mogas was throwing his marbles. After the marbles came to a complete stop, Mao and Kong Lujia ran toward Czedow and Shusag. Their run wasn’t particularly quick, but the closer they got, the faster they became.
Just when Cezdow and Shusag were about to engage the two hunters, something unexpected happened.
Bang bang bang bang bang—
The five small marbles exploded into smithereens, but the explosions weren’t nearly big enough to cause any physical damage whatsoever. At first glance it looked like the explosions were completely harmless, but Czedow said softly, “Neurotoxin?”
The neurotoxin was a paralytic neurotoxin. It wasn’t anything deadly—in fact, Mogas often used it to play pranks on his fellow hunters—and only had a half-life of half an hour. If Czedow and Shusag were unprepared for it, this would turn out to be a very short fight.
Also, the change in wind direction meant they didn’t need to worry about catching the neurotoxin themselves.
Right after the marbles exploded, Mao engaged Czedow, and Kong Lujia Shusag in melee combat. Mao’s fighting style was a balance between strength and gentleness. Sometimes his moves were slow and gentle. Sometimes they were fast and unrelenting. Regardless of the change in rhythm though, every move was solid and capable of doing some damage to his opponent, if not defeating them outright.
For example, when a normal person attempts to block an attack from Mao with their arms, the veins in those area would stretch unnaturally for an instant. A different type of attack would cause of a different level of stretching. Over time, as the defender received more and more attacks, the unnatural stretching would lead to unnatural blood circulation, which would then lead to numbness, pain, and even loss of control in the affected areas. It was how Mao was able to make his opponent play to his tune.
Kong Lujia wore a pair of punching gloves that enveloped most of her palm except the fingertips. However, not only were her joints visible through the gloves, Shusag could tell that a single blow from these joints could break several bones in a normal person’s body in one go. He felt it with his own body after all.
The soles of Kong Lujia’s shoes were also slightly different from before. It helped her to grip the ground better and adjust her position quickly.
The girl had a gentle appearance, but the way she punched and the strength behind them were anything but that. In fact, Shusag felt like he was a fighting a burly seven-foot giant and not a girl who looked a late bloomer!
Her moves contained a terrific amount of killing intent behind them. It was almost as if she was trying to manifest her killing intent into a physical blade and carve up her prey with it. Even the spectators in the surveillance room could sense them through the screen. That wasn’t the most impressive thing though. Kong Lujia’s killing intent climbed to peak level only when her fists and legs were about to make contact with Shusag. Otherwise, it was barely noticeable.
“As expected, the A Squads’ hunters are pretty excellent,” commented Dias.
Mao wasn’t the only opponent Czedow had to fight. Phoebe was lashing her nine-section whip at him from a distance. Occasionally, the whip crackled with electricity as well. She was like a venomous snake searching for an opportunity to sink her fangs and venom into her target.
Some distance away, Mogas was moving from place to place at high speed and throwing all kinds of hidden weapons at Shusag at high speed. It was to buy space for Kong Lujia and allow her to unleash a more effective attack against her opponent because Shusag had been able to block all of her attacks in a skillful manner so far.
The four hunters had form two pairs of melee-and-ranged duo without exchanging a single word. It was almost as if they had discussed what kind of pairing would make the most sense among them beforehand, except they hadn’t.
Pango was the only one who still hadn’t joined the fight until now. After pacing back and forth rather aimlessly and scratching his head lazily a couple of times, he drooped his head almost as if he was about to doze off again.
As time passed, Mao noticed more and more that something wasn’t right. Logically speaking, his opponent should be suffering from the effects of his style even if the neurotoxin weren’t effective against them. However, Czedow continued fighting as if he wasn’t affected in the slightest. Also, his arms felt like solid blocks of steel for some reason.
There were few fights where Mao wasn’t able to seize the battle rhythm in his hand. However, he didn’t know that Czedow had learned to deal with this style a long time ago. It was a style Cillin used to use.
At first, Mao was the one who had control of the battle rhythm. Over time though, not only was Czedow able to sync up to his movements almost perfectly—moving fast when Mao was fast, and moving slow when Mao was slow—the hunter soon discovered that he was losing control of the battle rhythm.
The reason Xi Kai was so enamored with the Origin Robots was precisely because their ability to learn was unparalleled among its other kind. Figuratively speaking, they could even learn three new things when they were taught only one. For example, Czedow had learned how to seize control of the battle rhythm during his fight against Mao. Even if he hadn’t, Mao’s style was completely ineffective against Czedow anyway. He wasn’t a human after all.
Equally, Czedow was completely unafraid of the high voltage electricity on Phoebe’s whip. If he wanted to, he could even transform his entire body into an insulator. Neither Phoebe nor Mao knew that Czedow could change the nature of his body as he pleased, or they would never have fought him the way they did.
On the other side, Mogas was feeling pretty depressed as well. So far, all the hidden weapons he threw at Shusag were either dodged or parried, so he decided to try something different. He leaped a few steps away from Shusag and spread his fingers in front of himself. He was holding a bunch of hidden weapons with threads connected to them between his fingers. The hidden weapons were almost the same color as the ground, and the threads were thin and translucent. It took a keen eye to notice that they were even there at all.
Of course, Shusag was a man with a keen eye. He thought that they functioned the same as Sha Rou’s metallic threads, but when he blocked the hidden weapons he discovered that that was not the case. The threads were as light as air, more invisible than a spider’s thread, and incredibly sticky. Shusag tried shaking it off his clothes, but it only caused the threads to stick harder.
Mogas made a hand gesture at Kong Lujia, and the girl fell back after Shusag blocked a hit from her. At the same time, the threads suddenly caught on fire.
Kong Lujia and Mogas waited for the moment Shusag shook his jacket off to launch their next attack, but it never came. Shusag simply stood where he was casually and shot Mogas a smile. It was only now they noticed that some sort of film was covering the man’s body. Ripples appeared where the fire burned until it eventually extinguished on its own.
While the duo were baffled by the strange phenomenon, Shusag was thinking to himself: This would’ve been unpleasant if I haven’t put on the new armor. What a troublesome boy.
“Anything else you would like to show me?” asked Shusag while waving his hand. He was indirectly saying that he was going to go all out if they didn’t.
“Of course we do! Eat this!”
A hundred threads suddenly spilled out of Mogas’ fingers and stuck to the wall behind Shusag, trapping the latter. His fingers shook a little, and flames suddenly traveled along the threads and engulfed Shusag in flames. Each thread was a thick pillar of flame of their own.
Not far away, Phoebe’s nine-section whip suddenly grew another three sections and formed a web. The electricity crackling across the whip formed a powerful electromagnetic field that trapped Czedow in place.
While both Czedow and Shusag were incapitated, Mao and Kong Lujia had moved to Pango’s side and raised their legs. Then, they kicked the sleepy boy at the exact same time.
Pango’s body bent in an unbelievable angle. From a certain angle, one could even see that his stomach had crumpled inward, and his back had a protrusion on it. It was almost like his body was made of rubber. Had Pango been a weaker person, his bones would’ve broken, and there would be two leg-sized holes in his body already. Strangely though, not only was there no such sound, the boy actually flew like a cannonball straight toward the base.
In fact, it looked like he was going to fly right over the defense walls.
Shusag realized too late that whatever plan they had come up with without exchanging even a single word in the process was a five-man plan, not a four.
“Not a single one of you are walking into our base.”
They all remembered what Shusag said at the start.
Shusag and Czedow’s mission was to keep them out of the base, and according to the hunter’s rules, they would fail if even a single one of them managed to get inside. That was why they had plotted this plan B from the start in case their plan A, a.k.a beating the crap out of the door blockers didn’t work. If they couldn’t get in, then they would deliver Pango in. Pango wasn’t really dozing off while they were fighting their asses off, he was preparing his body to receive a kick from two certain motherfuckers whose dictionary absolutely didn’t contain the word “gentle” at all.
There was a loud bang that sounded like a giant rock slamming against the ground. It froze the smiles on the four A Squad hunters’ faces immediately.
An unknown gray object—it was unknown to them at least—had appeared out of nowhere and stopped Pango’s flight dead in its track. Shusag couldn’t help but smile a little at the… melodious noise. Ah, that poor boy. Of all the things he could slam into, it just had to be that fatty.
The gray “wall” that stopped Pango slowly turned around to reveal a cat’s face and a bag of snacks. Before the boy could react, Wheeze smacked him with his wings and sent him flying from where he came.
At the surveillance room, Xiao Shang asked no one in particular, “That poor, poor boy. Do you think he’s knocked out?”
“Of course he’s knocked out. It’s a hit from the almighty sir cat himself!” Cary answered with deep sympathy in his tone. The sympathy extended to the other four kids who were about to fall unconscious very soon as well.
A fat, white head rose from behind the defense wall while the four hunters were still in shock. It was Snowball. After it flipped over the ten-meter tall wall with agility that didn’t match its body shape in the slightest at all, it scratched its butt once, let out a chuckle at the unconscious Pango, and rolled toward him like a ball.
After Snowball reached Pango, it gave the boy a push or two before shouting to the base, “It’s not an act, he’s totally unconscious! He’s not bleeding though!”
Then, it grabbed one of Pango’s leg and started dragging him toward the base.
The four hunters stared at the fat polar bear and poor Pango. Now they understood what Shusag really mean when he said, “Not a single one of you are walking into our base.” The key here wasn’t the entering the base part, but the method.
He was telling them that the only way they were getting in, was to get their daylights knocked out of them and dragged inside!
After Snowball dragged Pango into the base, Shusag wiped away the threads of fire still covering his body and asked, “So? Do you still want to join the Eleventh Squad? If you want to leave it’s totally fine, it’s not shameful at all. You hold the right to choose to join us, just like we hold to right to choose to accept or reject you, and in the first case how you’re joining us of course.”
The four hunters didn’t say anything. They simply rushed Shusag and Czedow again.
They were starting to understand why the Eleventh Squad was established. The latter was far stronger and well hidden than they could possibly imagine. Just how many more secrets were they hiding behind their doors?
Time passed slowly, but it passed nonetheless. Finally, the general meeting had come to an end.
After enjoying the dinner served by the A Squad, Cillin and Shawton walked out of the meeting hall together and headed toward the landing zone. Cillin wanted to speak with Songba Leruo, but the meeting between the higher-ups was still ongoing. He would have to find another time.
“Keep it up, Cillin. This may be as far as I go, but I’m sure you’ll do better than me and lead everyone to greater heights,” Shawton said smilingly.
While the two of them were walking toward their spaceplanes, a man who just came out of the meeting hall slow-jogged his way past Cillin and Shawton. He was speaking to someone through his communicator.
After arriving at the landing zone, Shawton and Cillin boarded their respective spaceplanes and left.
After Cillin was gone, inside a spaceplane that just took to the air, the same man stared at the screen showing him running past Cillin.
“Did he make any decryption movements at all?” someone behind him asked.
They slowed down the video and zoomed in closer to Cillin’s folders, but they were disappointed to find that Cillin hadn’t done what they thought he would do.
“This isn’t right. If he really is the same Cillin, he should’ve reacted to the code somewhat. At least that’s what the profile we received says.”
“Maybe I ran past him too quickly for him to react?” the guy in front of the screen sked.
“No, that’s not it. Everyone who knows this type of code would subconsciously try to grasp the contents of the code in the shortest amount of time possible and move their fingers to decipher it. However, Cillin—assuming that he is Cillin—didn’t react to it at all, and his expression seems pretty natural too.”
“It’s too bad we can’t capture his eyes. It’s easier to identify weakness through a person’s eyes.”
The video they captured only showed Cillin’s side and back. The side view was even blocked by Shawton, so it was impossible to confirm through the eyes if this Cillin was the Cillin they were looking for.