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Chapter 93: Jungle Hazard
Although the probes and the six small teams scattered at every location did not find anything resembling a machine civilization, everyone still armed themselves to their teeths. Sometimes, the native plants and animals were even more difficult to deal with than machines.
Cillin’s group was led by Dias as they walked into the woods. The reason this planet looked green was because it had a lot of jungles. Its trees were lush and plenty, and there were a lot of new breeds that had never been seen before. The collection and analysis of the plant species would be completed by the probes, whereas Cillin’s group would gather data on the animals in accordance with the situation. Even if it was just data, as long as the species was new and special, their data would be worth a lot of money.
The results of their sensors’ work would be displayed onto their masks. The surrounding humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure etc would all be displayed.
Birds flew across the sky above the jungles. Their speed was very quick, and through instant image capture they could see that these birds were similar to eagles with some minor differences. Moreover, their cries were occasionally high or low-pitched, sharp or deep, long or short.
While stepping on a thick floor of leaves, the group carefully proceeded forwards.
Cillin loosened the mask on his face and inhaled once the air around him, identifying the scent mixed within the air.
The tree species in this jungle was a kind of tree with recognisable trunks that had never been seen before. Dias chopped down one of these trees that grew better than the others and found that its hardness was pretty impressive. They should be pretty suitable for certain manufacturing industry. From its exposed stump, they could see its rings and determine its age, which were densely packed with not much space in between each ring. Dias sent a picture of the tree rings of the exposed stump to the aircraft, which was then sent again by the people of the aircraft to the starship outside the planet. There would be professionals who would collect, sort and analyse these data.
“Yo, the flower on that tree sure is pretty.” Someone said.
Not far away there was a tree that wasn’t too tall, but was pretty thick. Its diameter was around five meters, but its trunk was about one meter wide. It had plenty of branches that were spread on two sides like stretched wings. Its leaves were very thick, and there were rows of dark brown spots that were aligned vertically on its main trunk.
What’s strange was that there were some vine-like plants above the trunk. One end of these vines were connected to the tree, whereas the other end was connected to a large number of colorful red and white flowers.
The red and white petals were arranged in a way that looked like a layer of thin scales. The sporadic rays of light scattered by the thickets fell onto the flowers and were reflected by these scales, twinkling like the brilliant starlights of the universe. A person would feel the impulse to pluck them just from their appearance alone.
While sniffing the air, Cillin sensed that there was also an enticing, slightly sweet scent in the air. Without a mask, a normal person would have failed to resist against this temptation and walked up to those flowers.
Although the flowers were pretty, not a single person in the group went closer a better look. Although the flower was breathtaking from the moment they set eyes on it, their experiences also taught them that the prettier a flower was, the more likely it contained a hidden threat.
Cary cut off a new section of the plant Dias had chopped down earlier and tossed it at the tree. Almost the instant after the broken tree trunk touched one of the flowers, the surrounding, wing-like branches immediately folded together like lightning to trap its ‘prey’ within. At the same time, everyone saw rows of sharp thorns piercing through that tree trunk amidst a series of whooshing sounds.
These sharp thorns were the dark brown spots that they had seen on the trunk earlier, and from this string of reactions it was obvious that the setup was a literal nature-grown trap!
Everyone in the group shivered a little at the sight. The tree trunk Cary threw just now was pretty strong, but those sharp thorns had pierced right through it about as it was made from tofu. It showed exactly how hard they were those thorns were.
Dias waved his hand, and the group continued to move forwards.
The more they walked, the stranger the group felt. The jungle was actually relatively safe other than the small amount of deadly plants they encountered earlier, and there weren’t much poisonous plants around either. However, other than some small insects they ran into, wasn’t this place a little too quiet? By quiet, they did not mean the audible kind, since there were the occasional sounds of insects beating their wings, and invisible birds flying across the sky as the greenery above the group grew thicker and thicker. What they meant was that after walking through the jungle for such a long time, they did not encounter a single animal even the size of a wee at all!
Rabbits, monkeys, boars, mice, nothing! The group searched some holes and caves that might hide an animal or two using their past experiences, but still, they found nothing at all!
Could there really be no animals at all in such a good environment? Of course not. Earlier in the ship, they had seen some ferocious, large-sized animals from pictures captured by the probes in space. While it could be said that there was no machine civilisation on this planet, its species should have evolved to a pretty high level.
Dias’ heart was clouded with doubt. He felt a strange sense of crisis that he could not make head to toes with. He had always trusted his instincts, and his instincts were telling him that the situation they’re in right now was very bad. They were now deep within the jungle, and the deeper they went, the more he felt like there was a huge jaw at the end of their journey, waiting to swallow them whole.
While the group was pondering, their sensors sent out an warning. Through the information relayed by their masks about the surrounding scanned area, the group discovered that there were many unknowns heading towards their direction. The unknowns numbered around thirty and were three times their group’s number. Moreover, they moved fast.
Dias didn’t need to say anything. The group automatically fell into formation and readied their weapons.
The things were close. They could hear them running and letting out pitapat low growls even without the scanners.
Bang, bang, bang, bang!
The group opened fire before those thing completely reached into their sight range. If they opened fire only after they saw them, it would already be too late.
Everyone in the group were experienced fighters, and even new members like Cillin, Ba Dao and Xiao Shang had plenty of experiences themselves. Therefore, the men felt no panic, wielded their guns steadily, and shot pretty accurately in the face of this situation. With the target lock of their masks, they could boast a ninety nine percent shot accuracy even if a hundred wasn’t possible. The heat signature display enabled them to hit their enemies whenever they left the cover of the thickets.
Conserving ammo was a habit they had cultivated through many years of experience, but this time they could not afford to do so. This was because those things did not die even after they were shot once. There would be a momentary pause, but it did not affect their zeal at all as they charged towards the group like they wouldn’t stop unto their last breath.
Dias mentally calculated and found that he needed around five bullets to kill those things. He was sure that his bullets struck the thing’s head every time, and yet they just wouldn’t die. It was only until the fourth or fifth bullet that those things would finally come to a stop. Perhaps they were truly dead then. Dias couldn’t be sure.
Looking at their speed, the time gap between every four or five bullets was definitely enough for them to cover a lot of ground. Moreover, they were only twelve people, and not everyone could kill three of those things before they charged over.
Cillin had already killed two of those things. His firing frequency was so rapid that the others suspected that he was wasting bullets.
In reality, through the heat signature display of his mask, Cillin would open fire and hit a beast if it slipped out of cover for even an instant. He even calculated both the bullet’s speed and the thing’s running speed so that he could achieve near perfect precision. Moreover, Cillin targeted three of those things at once, so when the others had just killed off their first target, he was already in the process of taking down the third.
Finally, the first thing leaped out of the thicket, and it was shot at nearly at the same time by both Cillin and Xiao Shang. Perhaps it was shot earlier, which was why it collapsed after taking two more shots only.
Dias did not have the time to give it a close examination, and so simply gave it a hurried glance. He immediately realize the reason behind the thing’s durability.