Chapter 3: Change
“Betwixt life and death, the terrible pain will destroy a person’s will to survive. When you are faced with such a crossroad, you may wish to induce a deep trance of self hypnosis and numb the nerves that transmit pain; to focus your mind; to think within the shortest possible time…”
Those were the words Genya had said to Cillin, but Cillin had never truly used it before, because he was never as completely helpless as he was right now.
His entire body was convulsing. After drawing in a difficult breath, Cillin then closed his eyes.
Watching the spike that had elevated yet another level on the screen, the old man’s hand gave a shiver as he took off his goggles and pressed his face closer to the screen. His sunken eyes were completely glued to the screen as if he was trying to distinguish whether this was real.
The knob had already turned two hundred and seventy degrees. Seventy five percent of the chip had been activated.
He wasn’t looking at Cillin on top of the experiment bench. The old man was laughing a somewhat distorted laugh. Since the life indicator lines were still beating fairly strong, it meant that he could raise it some more!
Two hundred and eighty degrees…
Two hundred and ninety degrees…
Three hundred degrees…
The instruments were beginning to screech out a warning. The crimson red warning sign and ear-piercing siren did not deter the old man in the least.
Right now, his eyes were completely filled with madness.
There were nearly a thousand test subjects in the past, and none of them had managed to hold on until three hundred degrees. But today…
“Heh… hehehe… I, the one they call Horay… shall appear within ‘Glory’ and ‘Code’!”
Cillin did not have any energy to pay attention to the old man’s words right now, or he would have thought that the old man was a complete madman! How dare he dreamed of appearing inside ‘Glory’ and ‘Code’ with only these resources!?
‘Glory’ and ‘Code’ were the two most famous electronic magazines in the interstellar network. They were hailed as the ‘historical records’ of GAL (Galactic Alliance). With these two electronic magazines at the forefront, every other electronic publications in GAL were relegated into the background. They were also the only publications to have scored over ninety contribution points out of the hundred point electronic publication system set by GAL. That was to say, the achievements of personages or inventions research findings published in these two electronic magazines scored at the very least ninety contribution points.
Any one of the personages, deeds, research and more that appeared in ‘Glory’ and ‘Code’ was enough to shake the entire GAL. ‘Glory’ featured mostly generals and politicians, whereas ‘Code’ featured academics and technicians.
It didn’t matter whether the records inside the two gigantic magazines were man or deeds; they were all built on top of countless manpower, resources, wealth and time. The Brown Earth Planet Cillin was in had news that reached at best twenty or so contribution points, and they could only be recorded in magazines with small influences. In truth, any news that exceeded ten contribution points would be broadcasted continuously for tens of days by the planet’s TV station, much less one that was above ninety contribution points.
Therefore, any normal person would have thought that the old man’s words were but a delusion.
The old man turned the knob once more.
Three hundred and ten degrees…
Three hundred and twenty degrees…
Di – di – di –
The alarm grew more and more urgent, and the fluctuation of Cillin’s life line was starting to grow erratic. A few instruments were beginning to smoke and shudder with many bangs. A few buttons had also exploded, and it was looking to grow worse and worse. Even the tubes trapping Cillin were beginning to shake as if unable to handle the load.
A finger lock trapping one of Cillin’s fingers ricocheted off from high load.
That was another one.
The old man no longer had time to care for Cillin as all of his attention was absorbed by the data on the screen. His fingers clutched the knob, and he could not wait to see the final numbers.
Buttons were flying off the instruments everywhere.
There’s no time. Cillin knew where his limits lay.
His two released fingers had caught hold of a button from a button that ricocheted off some unknown instrument. It was the response of a single trace of sanity left after he had hypnotized himself under intense pain. It was also Cillin’s last chance.
It was only a single trace of sanity, and yet its calculation was surprisingly accurate – unprecedentedly accurate; just like the control and error analysis conducted by a sophisticated instrument. In less than a second Cillin fired out the button in his hands.
The flying button rebounded three times across the floor, the wall and the baffle plate of an instrument before it shot through the old man’s left eye into the central nervous system of the brain, cutting off his neural network circuit and killing him instantly. It was the same instant the madman’s fingers on the knob were ready to make the final adjustments, and the numbers on the knob were already pointing towards three hundred and fifty degrees, so it would not be an exaggeration to say that it was literally in the nick of time. If the knob really was turned to three hundred and sixty degrees, then Cillin would not have lived as well.
Thank god that the old man was an actual human being, and thank god the old man hadn’t made crazy modifications to his entire body. The old man who was dead in an instant laid beside the instrument.
The moment the old man died, all of the tubes that bounded Cillin were retracted. A warning popped up on top of the instrument, and an electronically synthesized voice resounded, “The host is dead. Begin program deletion.”
Cillin could not afford to attend to his still somewhat paralyzed body as he turned around and fell down from the bench. He could not stand up. He could only lift his head and watch the images and data flashing instantaneously across those screens.
Every information that was about to be deleted would flash once across the screen. It was unimaginable that the old man would set up such a strange deletion pattern.
There was no telling if a rank B, or even an rank A genotype human would be able to capture all those images and data, and even if they did they might not necessarily be able to memorize it, and this assumption was limited to just a single screen. But Cillin was able to memorize all the information from the tens of screens into his head. In the past this would’ve been absolutely impossible. Although he had a pretty good memory before this, there was no way his capture speed could have kept up, let alone memorizing tens of screens at once!
His body was adjusting quickly. Cillin’s eyes appeared to be out of focus, but he was in fact etching all the information on the screen into his brain. The thing the old man had injected him with was like a unknown bomb – if he could not decipher these information then he might not even know how he died.
Five minutes later the programs had been deleted completely, and all information relating to the experiment – including the information of the old man Horay Hanson – were memorized inside Cillin’s head as long as they had flashed across the screen.
“Program deletion complete. Self-destruction program to be executed in five minutes. Countdown to desertification in…”
Cillin cursed. He moved a little his body that had recovered some senses, lifted himself up with difficulty and staggered towards the exit.
Every door beneath the underground laboratory was open. Those other rooms were used for storage such as the ‘specimens’, food, equipment, medicine and so on. The true core of the lab was this room that Cillin had stayed in, so he had neither the thought nor the time to check out the items in other rooms. Rely on his memories, retraced his way back through the path he was brought in.
All the doors were opened, and he was not obstructed along the entire way. It was if everything had been premeditated. It was exactly five minutes.
The desertification program had activated when Cillin reached the vents at the edge of the laboratory. A quicksand-like depression appeared at the center of the lab, and it extended outwards and turned the floor, the lab instruments and the dead old man all into quick sand. The area of desertification began to spread. When Cillin climbed out of the vent and returned to the building from before, the desertification had just reached the vents.
Cillin had no time to rest. He knew that the old man’ so-called ‘self-destruction program’ would definitely not be just desertification. In order to make sure that his researching findings were not compromised, he had even bound his own life to every program in the place. If he could be this ruthless, then he would definitely ensure a more thorough destruction.
Thankfully the sun wasn’t up yet, and there were no people on the streets. Under the cover of darkness, Cillin moved while sticking close to paths beneath the shacks and eaves. If he was discovered by the ‘Sky Eye’ then it would be all for naught.
Sure enough, not too long after Cillin had left, the huge sound of an explosion woke up every men from their sleep. There was a mushroom cloud billowed into the sky. Dazzling flames. A deep and wide chasm on the ground. The buildings that were affected by the blast wave and collapsed were left with broken walls and a state of ruination. The kids who were woken up were crying and screaming; the adults were cursing non-stop.
Before any curious personnel could approach the blast site, a white light descended from the sky to cover the entire blast zone in a prison of white light and isolate it from the outside world. The ‘Sky Eye’ had made its response; it wouldn’t be long before the patrols of the police force would come over and check out the situation.
But they were none of Cillin’s concerns. When he slipped back to his small ten square meters wide room at the poverty area, his nerves finally and gradually lost their high tension as he fell into a deep slumber.