Chapter 2: Guinea Pig
Cillin’s nose was very sensitive. He could differentiate and analyze mixed smells, and that was exactly why he found it surprising.
The person who used these few reagents; were they bored out of their wits, conducting a hobby research or for a different reason entirely?
These smell did not come from the rain outside. From the other smells mixed within the wind direction and air flow he could determine that this particular smell came from inside the building. But who would use such an ancient reagent inside such an abandoned building?
Tracing the smell, Cillin found a pipe about the width of a thumb amidst a pile of rubbish. Cillin didn’t walk too far along the pipeline before he found out that the rest of it was hidden inside the wall.
It was hidden pretty well alright.
Turning on his thumb-sized, closed-ranged projector flashlight, a light blue light was shone onto the wall, illuminating the pipeline buried behind the wall clearly. After some investigation, Cillin grew more and more curious.
In addition to this pipeline, Cillin had found several more, and they were all very well concealed.
Cillin grew more and more cautious. Although the best course of action wuould be to leave right away, for some reason Cillin had a strange feeling that urged his desire to discover the truth.
Following the pipeline downwards, he walked through many crooked paths; some of them even requiring Cillin to climb through some ancient vents. Arriving at the first floor of the building, Cillin opened a hidden cover and walked down the narrow staircase beneath it and headed deeper inside.
The surroundings were very quiet, but it wasn’t exactly a complete silence. After a moment of careful sensing, Cillin felt that there shouldn’t be anyone in his vicinity and proceeded to take out his flashlight and continued deeper inside.
As the number of pipelines grew more and more numerous, Cillin understood that he was getting closer and closer to his target. He took a deep breath and turned off his flashlight. Although he hadn’t sensed anyone in front of him, his instincts told him that the path before him would not a smooth one. Although the energy flux of a flashlight was at most ten meters, to be safe Cillin still turned it off decisively.
It was dark everywhere. Cillin relied on the minuscule airflow to decide his direction and avoid obstacles. About half an hour later the space around him gradually grew larger, and a number of electronic lights the size of a nail were also starting to appear. With the lights he could see that this place had existed for quite a while, and there were also a layer of dust on top of those electronic light panels. Although it wasn’t really thick, no one had come through here for at least a month.
Watching the light spots on the walls, Cillin grew more and more uneasy.
Something is wrong, something is really wrong! This place looks just like a… trap! A trap!
An intense sense of crisis assaulted him, and without another thought Cillin turned around and ran immediately. His Hunter’s instincts were telling him that he could not the danger that might appear in the next moment.
But the thick special steel plates that cut off his retreat path was even faster.
With the turn of a palm a metallic dagger appeared in Cillin’s hand. He could cut open the steel plate with a laser dagger, but one it would waste a huge amount of time, and two the laser’s dagger powerful energy flux would expose his position constantly.
With his back against the steel plate, Cillin quietly watched towards the front. He knew that there must be someone there.
Ta, ta, ta…
The footsteps closed leisurely towards him without the slightest intent of concealment at all. In fact, they carried within them a fearless attitude.
A beam of light turned on, and the passageway instantly lit up.
Cillin narrowed his eyes and swiftly recovered from the discomfort induced by the sudden exposure to strong light in a weak lighting environment. But the person standing opposite to him did not seem to be in a hurry as he waited for Cillin to recover.
He was an old man who looked like an F rank genotype human approaching his first hundred, which was to say it felt like he would die at any moment. The old man’s skin was brownish-yellow. He had a shriveled body, and his exposed arm showed clear signs of muscle atrophy. Cillin could not see the old man’s eyes clearly because he was wearing a goggles. But it was this shriveled old man who had made every hair on Cillin’s body shudder.
The old man walked slowly towards Cillin; as leisurely as taking a walk in the park.
He who strikes first gains the advantage!
Cillin flew into action in a flash without leaving even an afterimage behind. From this one might notice his incredible speed, so much that it was comparable even to a D genotype human.
The shrill voice of metal rang.
Beside the old man’s carotid artery, a twig-like hand had caught tightly of the tip of his dagger as easily as he would pinch a tree branch.
The energy flux of either a plasma dagger or a laser dagger were simply too huge, and with Cillin’s current constitution the chances that he would expose himself was also bigger, which was why Cillin was a lot more willing to use a cold weapon and commit murder without a trace. But even with his special alloy dagger his attack was blocked – not, pinched – all too easily by this deathly old man!
Three years of life and death experience as a Hunter left Cillin with no time to think. This was not an enemy that he could face. Run!
But before Cillin could make a move, his body was suddenly tied up firmly by what seemed like wires of liquid metal. When Cillin searched for the thing’s origin, he was shocked to discover that they came from the five fingers of the old man’s other hand. More accurately speaking, it was the extension of the old man’s finger!
Is he a human? A machine? A mutant? Or an unknown type?
It was an icy cold touch. Cillin could smell the breath of death. Every one of his pores were exuding coldness.
The alloy dagger that had taken god-knows-how-many wanted men’s lives was crushed. Strangling his throat with skinny fingers the old man lifted Cillin off the ground like a chick.
All four of his limbs were bound, and even the blood vessels on his neck was almost blocked from the sheer pressure.
“Hehe, you came at just the right time.” Listening to his tone, it appeared that the old man was very happy, even a little impatient for what comes next.
If the one being crushed was a normal person, they would’ve rolled their eyes a long time ago. But Cillin still had the willpower and energy to think of a way out of his predicament.
The old man stared at Cillin and looked even more pleased.
Door after door opened, and door after door closed. Cillin’s shock grew bigger and bigger. To think that such a place was hidden beneath this poor town!
This secret chamber could not have existed for less than thirty or fifty years old, and it was far more complex than Cillin had first imagined. Both its defense and its concealment were done exceptionally well, or it would not have remained hidden for so many years without anyone realizing it. Or perhaps the ones who did discover this place were all dead.
Cillin looked sidelong at an open room, and there were numerous men put in liquid tanks like preserved specimens inside it. The twisted looks on their faces chilled Cillin to the bones. He could see that these people had suffered unbearable torment prior to their deaths.
Perhaps Cillin would become one of them in the next moment.
The old man did not intend to kill Cillin immediately. His control over the strength of his hands was extremely well. Not only did he give Cillin no chance to escape, he also made sure that he would not impair his body functions as well.
As for why the old man had said that Cillin came at just the right time, this was because Cillin had walked right into his doorsteps just as the guinea pig before him expired and was placed inside a liquid tank.
Cillin was carried into a room filled with all sizes of tools and instruments. The table at a corner of the room were filled with all sorts of jars and bottles. He had already identified some of the gases exhausted from the pipeline, and they were reagents used to purify DNA.
At this age and time, almost no one but the old pedants would know such a primitive method to purify DNA. Cillin had done similar experiments before, but it was simply out of curiosity and he did not research it in-depth.
With current technology, a palm-sized apparatus was all that’s needed to perform DNA purification. It was swift, precise and could even perform functional analysis on genomes. But no matter the kind of purifying and analyzing apparatus, they all needed to be registered and verified under a real name. Every apparatus had a registration number, binding chip and data connection.
Since the old man had chosen to perform a manual purification – and from the looks of it he was purifying by the bulk – it meant that he was engaged in the kind of illegal research that would make him a wanted man. But no matter how Cillin wracked his brain he could not find any most wanted information relating to the man before him. The planet’s most wanted list was open to everyone regardless of their risk level. There were only two pieces of information on top of the arrest warrant: one was their photo, and the other their bounty.
Because this laboratory was underground, and it was even covered with a rare layer of isotope barrier, hence it was not discovered by the ‘Sky Eye’. The data of these instruments should also be disconnected from the outside world, and so it escaped some other ways of investigation.
What exactly is this old man planning to do?
Placing Cillin on top of a floating white table, the old man pressed a button on an instrument. Cillin’s wrists and four limbs were cuffed by the manacles that appeared on the table. Many thin wires appeared on the table, slipped through his clothing and entered his body. In an instant Cillin was turned into a guinea pig studded with countless tubes. On one side he was filled with thin red tubes, and the other thin blue tubes. The numbers on a nearby display jumped continuously.
Since Cillin was already bound by on top of the table – not even his fingers were spared – the old man then retracted his hand and returned his fingers to its original twig-like form. After injecting a sticky and ice cold liquid into Cillin’s body, he tapped swiftly the buttons on the instrument to combine and analyze the data from the other tens of instruments.
Pain. Terrible pain that seeped right into the bones. His fingers were shaking, every blood in his body was flowing erratically, every second was challenging the limits of his nerves and his mind was nearly destroyed instantly. But after a short blank period, with difficulty Cillin was finally able to refocus his thoughts little by little. Otherwise, it wouldn’t take long before Cillin himself would become a member of those specimens.
Those sticky liquid-like substance were actually many tiny special biochips. Some of its characteristics were very similar to vectors, and it could be integrated into the chromosome of a human body and undergo synchronous replication and division.
The red tubes’s main function was induction. It provided sustenance at the same time it induced the subject’s metabolism to accelerate cell division. On the other hand the blue tubes controlled apoptosis. It killed off the cells that could not keep up.
The old man watched the elevated spike on the screen and let out a few chuckles. He then turned a knob in his hand ten degrees clockwise, and for every ten degrees the rate of induction would rise to a new level, and the chip’s activation rate would also increase.
The cerebrum’s hippocampus region, the DMRs in the chromosome, the frequency of intercellular communication and more were presented in data form on the repeatedly flashing display. They all made the old man incredibly excited.
Cillin’s nerves were assaulted once again by an even bigger wave of pain, and then arduously gathered his mind together again.
“Not bad. Not bat at all. To think that a mere F rank genotype can come this far!” The old man began talking to himself as he watched the knob that had been turned over a hundred and eighty degrees, but his words betrayed his clear excitement.
The figure a hundred and eighty degrees meant that fifty percent of the chips had been activated, and yet this man was somehow still alive. The numbers flashing on the screen even cause a tremor in the old man’s speaking voice. In the past, the guinea pigs that were able to endure beyond a hundred and eighty degrees did not even reach half the total number, and it meant that the physical endurance of this mere F rank genotype human was comparable to that of a D rank’s.
But how long could he last? Every time he lasted another ten degrees there would be an extra set of data that excited the old man beyond belief, but he didn’t care at all about Cillin’s survival.
Cillin continued to look for a chance to escape amidst the assaulting waves of pain.