Chapter 1: Shadow Hunter
As the small shop’s door slid open, the gentle voice of a woman resounded.
At the same time, a beautiful face appeared on both sides of the door. She had big wavy blonde curls, bright red lips, a sparkling smile and assertive sweetness.
But the person who pushed open the door did not look twice at her beautiful face. In fact he frowned and yelled at the direction of the counter, “Cillin, get that old man Devon to change out a new face already; it’s been so many years!”
The young man behind the counter busying himself with a bottle of wine shrugged, “No can do. The boss loves it.”
“Give it up, it’ll be easier to make him quit gambling than change out the display.” Some of the patrons in the bar stirred and answered loudly with a laugh.
As the dream lover of the entire male population on the planet thirty years ago, the face on the door had definitely sunk many hearts in the past. Time is the most cruel killer of them all and beauty is one fragile gift. However, before this killer could act out this beautiful singer and televised sweetheart had passed away first due to a failed gene transformation. During the first ten years there were still many people who still kept this beautiful singer’s holographic images and electronic posters in their room, but after all, it had been thirty years. The tide rises, and the tide ebbs. Everything is as transient as the fleeting cloud. A new beauty would submerge the old star into oblivion, and there weren’t many people who were willing to look back at a long dead illusion.
But of course, the owner of this bar was in fact a faithful man. Even though it had been thirty years, he still kept the beautiful singer’s image on the welcome screen. Thirty years and beyond, and it never changed. It was also one of the topics the patrons who frequented here often talked about.
The newcomer curled his lips as if he disapproved of the owner’s practice. He did not bother to comment on it further and walked to an empty spot on a table and sat down. There were familiar faces everywhere, and he quickly inserted himself into a conversation. He did not make an order.
Cillin, that is the young man who stood by the counter took down a bottle named, ‘The Smile Under The Sun’ from the wine cabinet and put it down on the visitor’s table. He opened the cap, then left to serve drinks to the other patrons.
Without wasting anymore words, while he was still chatting with his companions around him, the newcomer had already grabbed the wine bottle in his hands and took a swig.
“Hah, in the end this is still the most enjoyable drink. It’s spicy enough and packs a punch!”
Cillin gave him a smile and returned to the counter. He then logged the account into the tablet.
This was a very normal bar, and the city it was in was also very normal. They were almost all citizens at the bottom level, and to borrow the words of the people from the center city they would be known as the ‘lower class’, or in uglier terms, ‘the rabble’.
The rabble have their own happiness. They loved to sit in a bar where a human served them instead of a high-grade robot; drink cheap but strong alcohol; sit down with familiar drinking buddies and talk about everything in a day plus complain about their cruel bosses along the way; and gossip about someone else’s gossip. It was a simple but happy life.
The ‘high class’ people from downtown area did not understand the happiness of the poor. It was like a smartly dressed successful person walking on the path of gold and authority, and when they passed by a wreckage on occasion looking down on an excited stray cat leaping at a fly. They would think to themselves: Just how bored are these people to be doing such a thing; no wonder they were known as a lowly lifeform.
What is lowly? And what is noble?
The seven forms of genetic ranks; A, B, C, D, E, F, G were the lines to differentiate them all. Those with lowly genetics would be considered lowly people, and those with advanced genetics would be considered noble people. That was all.
Including Cillin, everyone in the bar had F rank genotypes, and on this planet they could be categorized as the lowly poor. Those with E rank genotypes would be given the chance to work at the downtown area, and only those who were D rank and above would be able to gain a foothold at the downtown area.
As for those with G rank genotypes. These were the saddest kind of people of them all. Because their natural genetics were inferior and defective, the sicknesses that came along with them could not be saved through simple treatments. Some examples would be severe deformity, progeria and other congenital diseases. Cillin’s little ex-girlfriend Hena was a G rank genotype. The cute girl never managed to walk past the best time of youth due to a factor of progeria, another congenital disease and poverty.
The descendants of those with high genetic quality and high quality genotype would not be lacking. In fact, they would only get better. On the other hand low genetic quality and low quality genotype was the complete opposite, and social polarization was also turning more and more serious. Therefore there were a lot more people of low quality genotype who tried to undergo genetic transformation. However, those who succeeded were far and few, and even disregarding the huge amount of capital expenses, the chances of a successful genetic transformation was incredibly low in the first place. The higher one tried to improve their genotype, the harder it became, and this was exactly the source of pride of those with higher genotypes. The heartbreaker from thirty years also had turned into history exactly because she failed the genetic transformation.
Man is fated not to be equals the moment he was born. It is just that familiarity breeds indifference.
“Ah, Cillin, old Devon hasn’t shown up for many days already, has he? He still hasn’t come back from his blind date?” Someone yelled.
“Yeah, his chances should be pretty big this time.” Cillin replied with a smile.
“Ceh -” No one looked convinced as they began chattering about old Devon’s history of blind dates.
Cillin simply listened with a smile and did not offer an opinion. He did not tell them that actually, old Devon had struck jackpot and became rich overnight. Thus he went on to realize his dreams.
Old Devon’s dream – to find a E rank genotype, neither too young nor too old lady and take out the sperm he had saved inside the sperm bank. The best case scenario would be to give birth of an E rank baby, open a small shop at the city area and lead a stable life. As long as he had money, it would not be a problem to find a woman of E rank genotype, even if old Devon was a rank lower; an F rank genotype.
The annual water, land and sky competition was something the entire planet paid close attention about, and it was also the most anticipated event for gamblers. This was because that the prize was large enough that, even if the bets weren’t completely accurate, as long as one achieved a particular standard it would still turn a poor into the rich overnight. It was exactly because Old Devon had struck jackpot that he was able to depart from his status of poverty.
Of course, the reason old Devon managed to win the prize was mostly thanks to Cillin. Every time Old Devon makes a bet he would first ask for Cillin’s opinion; and only then he would dare to wager.
Old Devon might be a miser, but he did treat Cillin very well, otherwise Cillin would not have helped him in the first place. Moreover, this time Old Devon had sent Cillin the dividends of his prize on the same day.
The night gradually deepened, and the patrons slowly left.
Cillin took a bath and changed his clothes; sprayed a special kind of chemical to eliminate the smells before locking up the shop’s door. He glanced towards the black sky, and there were blinking tiny dots that were like finely crushed starlight.
The weather forecast said that starting from 0000 hour there would be an hour of continuous rain, and now it was still forty minutes away from 0000 hour.
Forty minutes… it is enough.
Thirty minutes later, behind the cover of some jutted eaves and shacks Cillin arrived at an industrial zone. Dextrously and skillfully dodging the outside scans, he took out a magnetic card that he had prepared in advance and silently sneaked into a staff quarter beside the warehouse. After all this wasn’t the central city region, and the security system in this small place was neither advanced nor complicated.
The person lying on the bed seemed to notice something, but before they (no mention of gender) could act they lost consciousness and seemed to have sunk into deep sleep once more. But at a certain area behind the person’s ears and neck hidden beneath the hair, three thin black needles were stuck soundlessly behind it.
Cillin’s hands gently swept the needles back into his possession, and after making sure that he had left no other traces behind, left the same way he slipped in the first place; behind the cover of eaves and shacks.
There was the ‘Sky Eye’ in the sky, and firearms would be detected by the local detection network. The only way to resolve a case silently and without anyone noticing was to do it the primitive way, because there were no energy fluctuations to be detected.
As a Hunter, Cillin could be said to have walked a difficult path. Due to his age and genotype, he could not become an honest Hunter. More accurately speaking Cillin was a Shadow Hunter, and a so-called Shadow Hunter was the generic term of people who worked together with a Hunter but remained in the dark due to the sensitivity of their identities and so on.
Since he was 14 years old until now, Cillin had been working as a Shadow Hunter for almost three years. His choice to become a Hunter was initially due to Hena’s sickness, and after Hena passed away Cillin continued to presevere at this job because he needed a large amount of money to leave this planet safely.
Five minutes after Cillin left, another shadow slipped into the room and carried away the person Cillin had taken out, in order to exchange them for bounty and split the loot later.
They had worked together for almost three years, but the Hunter never knew the true identity of the ‘Shadow’. Of course, the Hunter didn’t mind it as long as they could capture their prey smoothly and exchange them for bounty. The rest did not matter. Cillin also believed that the Hunter he had chosen would never bother to spend a tremendous amount of effort tracking down his ‘Shadow’s’ identity, because long before he picked his choice of partner Cillin had already did a lot of homework analyzing a variety of potential scenarios from all angles.
For some Hunters who weren’t really qualified to do their jobs, without a ‘Shadow’ they could never have completed their assignment and earn the bounty, and would instead lose their lives. And so to a certain degree, these Hunters and Shadows shared a symbiotic relationship. As for the top level Hunters, they did not need a Shadow at all. Of course, barring a Hunter corp, those people were a special kind of existence of their own.
Also, the Hunter would not have realized that the shadow who worked with him, a D rank genotype, would only be at F rank. No one would have believed it even if he told the truth.
It was midnight, 0000 hour, and rainfall resounded. Cillin sat inside a deserted building as he watched the droplets grew larger and larger. The rain would wash away any smell or subtle traces Cillin left behind, which was also one of the reasons why he had picked this time to act.
How did a natural rain look like; Cillin didn’t know. He had only seen one on television, and there was no natural rain on this planet at all. There were only the precisely controlled weathers by a weather station. The precise intensity of the sun, and the simulated thunderstorm; they were all artificial.
A breeze blew over through the open cracks of the wall, and Cillin sniffed the smell of cement and slag. In addition, it was also mixed with an unexpectedly familiar smell…
Cillin’s eyebrows jumped as he carefully identified that particular smell in the wind. After confirming his suspicions he wore a strange expression. He didn’t think that there would still be people using that at this age and time.
Hey guys, it’s Craxuan. Currently I’m translating Single Player Only, Spirit Realm and now Star Rank Hunter. The reason I picked this up was because there are a lot of Wuxia Xianxia translated stories out there, but not nearly enough in other genres like horror, sci-fi, slice of life etc. I aim to change this slowly, starting with Star Rank Hunter. I sure hope y’all will enjoy this!