Star Rank Hunter Chapter 284
Chapter 284: Underground Web
When the earthquake struck, Hordes of animals escaped the source of the epicenter in panic. Some didn’t bother to linger and ran to the other side of the hills. Some moved closer towards Neo’s base when they noticed that something wasn’t right with the cliff. The price of their curiosity and bloodthirst was a lifetaking bullet by Gu Xin and the others.
The chaotic environment covered up the fighters’ tracks pretty well, and the sniped beasts didn’t attract too many attention. Right now, the greatest threat in their minds were the earthquake, not the hidden snipers.
The fighters used different bullets to kill different creatures. For example, the white mice were treated with the improved explosive bullets, the wild animals with a different kind of bullet, and the bio-soldiers with the toxin bullets. The modified rifles also had multiple modes that could be switched into, resembling a simplistic version of multifunction gun. Although it was inferior to the guns they had used in the past, it was impressive how much improvement was made with the limited amount of resources in hand. This was why everyone was impressed with Cillin.
In their eyes, Cillin was a walking puzzle. He seemed capable of holding a conversation with anyone, and he even had in-depth discussion regarding dissections with Hua Li.
Could he be a member of the RAS?
The thought had passed everyone’s minds. They were the only ones besides Black Viper who had delved deep into all academic fields.
Erty had tried asking Cillin about this, but the latter neither agreed nor denied his guess.
Since the group had made sufficient preparation before the earthquake hit, they were able to deal with the white mice, animals or bio-soldier with varying degrees of calm. If someone grew tired, someone would take their place while they returned to the base to catch a breather.
The panicking animals were more violent than usual, and their escape path was complete chaos. The fact that Gu Xin and the other were able to hit their weak spots consistently and conserve ammo despite all the disruptive elements proved that they were much stronger than your average fighter.
Sometimes, climbers or flyers would show up around or below the cliff. Those animals and bugs that could climb especially often burst out of the forest area and attacked them with a ferocity that was unmatched by other creatures. However, their numbers were few, and the bird Mercury made sure to take out any bugs that attempted to climb their way into the base from the cliff walls. Ah Shou and Hua Li also helped by shooting at larger animals that Mercury couldn’t take out easily from the windows.
Right now, Mercury was clinging to the wall and flapping its wings at a large group of little bugs, throwing them back down to the ground. Sometimes, these bugs could be more threatening to the base than the bigger animals. Mercury used its sharp beak to take out any bugs that didn’t fall off after its flap.
A sudden noise cause Mercury by surprise, and when it turned around to look every feather on its body had puffed up in reaction.
Orville in his transformed state was clinging to the wall not far away from Mercury. He was clinging to the wall with his sharp talons like Mercury, but unlike Mercury he was able to fire the feathers behind his wings like bullets at the larger bugs.
Of course, Mercury didn’t like Orville one bit. Their first meeting had gone pretty badly after all. But they were now cooperating with each other, and Hua Li had talked to it about this already. it would controlled itself no matter how much it disliked him, and it definitely wasn’t because it was jealous of Orville’s ability to fire his feathers like bullets.
Hei Dou and Neo were responsible for watching the base’s defense network. Their job was to inform the others about any anomalies so that the “invaders” were taken out as soon as possible.
But what about Cillin?
Cillin wasn’t shooting the animals or watching the defense network. He wasn’t even with the group right now. Instead, he had gone underground with Wheeze.
He had to admit that Wheeze’s digging skills had improved by a lot. Practice makes perfect, and Wheeze had had a lot of practice.
Somewhere on a planet not far away from the location Guan Feng had led Cillin to, there was a low building mostly filled with robots. Specifically, it was filled with advanced robots who looked no different from humans on the outside.
The few humans in this building all had great authority in Black Viper. Guan Feng was there, and Gu Changan had shown up with Qiu Xu as well.
Right now, they were gathered in a wide, circular meeting room on the third floor. There was a light screen in the middle of the meeting room displaying a rotating planet. There were a lot of red and blue dots on this planet, and all of them represented a person. The red dots represented outsiders who were brought to the planet for a test like Cillin. The blue dots represented the Black Viper locals.
On the first day, the red dots and blue dots were scattered all across the planet. Over time, the dots started to interact, mix, and finally ally with each other. Of course, some of the dots underwent different changes. For example, the two red dots representing the people Cillin and Tu Ba had killed had turned black in color.
The leader of the group sighed as he stared at the conglomerating regions and said, “I wasn’t expecting to reach this stage in just half time.”
There were three spots on the rotating planet with the highest amount of dots gathered. One of them was Cillin’s location. All three spots were quite far apart from each other, each having to face different geographical and weather challenges. Cillin’s spot was set in mountains and forests, whereas the other two spots were set in a desert and a plain.
Neither spots shared similar ways of conflict, or even reasons to group up as one. But if a comparison were to be made, then the way the people had come together at Cillin’s spot was the most peaceful of them all, also the way Guan Feng liked the most. This meant that Guan Feng was very satisfied with Cillin’s performance. He wondered if he should just obtain internal acknowledgement for Cillin and allow him to bypass his exams at AF1 directly.
“A guy who can make Neo give up his place willingly does deserve to take over your seat,” the leader said again while looking at Guan Feng meaningfully.
“But of course! Did you forget who his teacher is? That being said, the person you recommended isn’t bad either, Ah Lang,” Guan Feng said while shaking his legs on a chair. It looked like both his recommendation were a success.
The man Guan Feng called “Ah Lang” was one of the three person-in-charge of Black Viper, Kristi.Lang.
Gu Changan let out a chuckle and said, “There are a lot of people who can compete the other two candidates, but this Cillin can’t be replaced nearly as easily. His brain’s computational ability is comparable to that of a robot’s.”
“Xi Kai, this Cillin may be able to help you complete that ‘Original’ vision of yours,” Kristi.Lang said.
A man sitting on a row of tables near the exit slowly looked up and stared at the light dots and rotating planet on the light screen. He asked in a doubtful tone, “Really?”
“Perhaps he’s right.” Guan Feng suddenly thought of something and turned around to look Xi Kai. “Hey, do you think that the robots you stored underground would all be annihilated?”
Xi Kai frowned a little before replying, “Is that possible? They’re the latest advanced robots we have. It’s true they weren’t installed with a pseudo-Original artificial brain, but their offensive power is still nothing to be scoffed at.”
“We’ll see.” Kristi.Lang tapped at the light screen once and brought up a dot-filled map.
Xi Kai stared at the new picture and said, “I’m more curious about the reasoning behind his decision to go underground. Is it only because he knows that something’s triggering the earthquake artificially? Is it because he wants to stop the earthquake?”
No one had a clue why Cillin had a gone underground either. In fact, the many mysteries surrounding Cillin was the main reason why they were paying far more attention to Cillin than the other two spots.
Meanwhile, Cillin trailed behind Wheeze into the underground.
The deeper he went, the clearer the machines’ activities became.
The object that was creating the earthquakes were further away, but Cillin had arrived at an underground passage. This passage was several hundred meters beneath the ground surface, and surprisingly not even Neo and Hei Dou’s scanners were able to detect it.
On the surface, it had felt like a natural passage, but the deeper they went, the more he could feel something artificial and mechanical beneath it. There were also a lot of mechanical traces all over the place.
Wheeze scanned their surroundings after they had entered a section of the passage. The scan returned a web-like underground network.
Once Cillin was done memorizing the scan results, he and Wheeze walked towards the center of the “spider web”.
The spider web was completely silent. It was as if a silent predator was waiting for its prey to fall into its trap.
Cillin didn’t believe that he was a prey, but it was true that there were a lot of things that were waiting for him inside. For example, there were a bunch of robots near the center area of the web.
The robots around the heart of the underground network were moving towards him from every direction. He would have to break through their “wall” in order to go to the center.
Cillin unsheathed his blade and charged.
Wheeze’s eyes flashed green for a second before it charged forwards in excitement too.
These robots immediately went into attack mode the second Cillin and Wheeze had entered their vision. Their speed was fast, and their movements were smooth as water. They had sawblades around their arms and legs, but none of them were equipped with excitation weaponry. It was probably to avoid causing great damage to the structure.
Still, these robots were pretty strong despite not having any excitation or laser weapons.
Cillin dashed swiftly through the robots, every swing of his blade cleaving a robot in half. Headless robots could still function properly, and they were capable of delayed movement even after their heads were destroyed.
These were not the robots Cillin was looking for. These had no self-conscious to speak of compared to the ones he had to fight some time ago. Their weapons were pretty good, but without a consciousness they were no different from a blade or a gun. They were all “dead”.
He stamped his foot on a robot’s head and pushed it against the wall, flattening it like a pie in an instant. His hands weren’t idle either. After plunging his blade into the robot, he used some sort of imperceptible vibration technique to dig a large hole in its torso.
Meanwhile, Wheeze was smacking the robots left and right with every swipe of the paw. It had zero qualms fighting robots like them, not to mention that their armblades couldn’t do more than a scratch on its body, a scratch that healed almost immediately no less.
About three hundred robots had attacked the duo, and they crushed them all like a pair of walking meat grinders.
Inside the meeting room, the people watched as the number of signals on the screen decreased rapidly. Guan Feng stared at the expressionless Xi Kai as a wordless smile crossed his lips.
Anyone who knew Guan Feng would know there was nothing more he loved than smile silently when pleased. It was an infuriating look.
All three hundred signals on the screen had vanished in less than half an hour’s time. If the robots were human, they would be all dead already.
Guan Feng shook his leg and tapped the armrest of his chair rhythmically. It looked like he was tapping to a tune; in fact he would be singing out loud already if he was anywhere else. The scholarly and gentlemanly persona Guan Feng normally assumed when he was away from Black Viper was completely missing.
Back to the underground. After Cillin and Wheeze had taken care of the robot guards, they continued to approach the heart of the underground web. He didn’t encounter any other robots on the way until he reached the very center of the area. It was a robot that looked just like the robots they took out earlier, but its expression looked nothing like the lifelessness of its peers. It even had eyes that expressed emotions.
A person could show what they were thinking through their eyes. It was one way to express one’s emotions. This concept could be applied to this robot just like the few other robots Cillin had encountered before. They all had their own independent consciousness.
Upon closer inspection however, Cillin discovered that this robot was more “conscious” than all of the robots they had encountered earlier. Every look in its eyes gave off the illusion that it was “alive”. This sensation was so familiar to Cillin and Wheeze that they could hardly suppress their excitement.
This robot was the reason why Cillin and Wheeze had spent all that energy to reach the underground. Finding the source of the earthquake was just a side mission.
Neither Cillin nor Wheeze tried to lift a finger against the robot, and the robot didn’t try to attack them either. It simply stared at Cillin and Wheeze without anger or surprise, looking like an old man whose emotions had been completely drained away by the passage of time.
Cillin slowly walked towards the robot. There was a round desk beside the robot, and it was the reason behind the unnatural earthquake. Some of the buttons on the desk allowed adjustments to the epicenter and the magnitude.
The robots didn’t react to Cillin’s approach. It seemed to know what Cillin was planning, and it moved out of the way so that Cillin could interact with the round desk.
After look over the round desk for a bit, Cillin pressed a couple of buttons. The earthquake started to subside after the operation, and the escaping animals gradually calmed down over time.
“Did it stop?” Erty asked Gu Xin.
“I think so. Let’s wait a moment and see if it resumes.”
The end of the earthquake helped alleviate much pressure from the fighters. Although they could deal with the animals and bugs, it wasn’t like it was easy. If Cillin hadn’t modified their weapons and ammos beforehand, the white mice alone could’ve driven them off already.
Back to the underground. Cillin looked at the robot standing not far away from him after the earthquake was stopped.
No, this wasn’t it. This robot wasn’t as “sentient” as Sigma. Although he was more “conscious” than all the robots he had encountered in the past, it was obvious it was a tad inferior to Sigma. Even if its appearance was closer to that of a humans, even if it had facial expressions and lifelike eyes, it still wasn’t as “sentient” as Sigma, a robot with a primitive exterior.
Why was there so little progress even though a millennium had passed?
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