Doomsday Wonderland - LightNovelsOnl.com
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A shapeless shadow fell from Lin Sanjiu's hand. When it hit the ground, the empty four limbs flailed in mid-air with a curvature before landing on top of its own torso. A slit on the back of Redhead Ol' Jack's empty sack of skin tore open and was exposed under the fluorescent light.
The split second it touched the ground, a tiny shadow suddenly rushed out of the meat nest and toward the corpse. With a sharp shriek, it quickly dove into the slit.
Lin Sanjiu watched silently as the corpse started bloating. The thing which dove into the corpse wasn't that big yet it gradually filled the torso of the body. It started looking like a real person but this change did not last for long. When "Redhead Ol' Jack" stood up, compared to his companions, he looked like a completely different species.
Half of his head was like an empty sack which drooped down to his chin as if someone had stuffed a fist in his face. His chin was like a rotten peach. His empty arms dangled by the side of his body and whatever it was that filled the body stopped at the corpse's thigh. Both the man's calves were like two sacks stuffed beneath his thighs. At first sight, it looked as if the man was in the mid-process of melting into the ground.
The thing opened his mouth with much effort but couldn't make a single sound.
However, this was enough. Lin Sanjiu was secretly astonished that her most far-fetched guess was actually true.
AYU looked at the semi-formed body of Redhead Ol' Jack and then at Lin Sanjiu. She pursed her lips. Among the four lifeforms, she was the closest to a real person.
"Was she the first person to eat humans from the inside and wear them?" Lin Sanjiu inferred silently.
"There isn't any flesh and bones for consumption in that body you brought along. Even if a 'soul' entered, it cannot develop like us." When AYU spoke again, her calm expression disappeared from her face for a moment, but she returned to her usual composure after her voice wavered for a second.
"This human pouch is our handicraft—who are you? Why doesn't our hallucination work on you?"
"I thought you don't need my answer," Lin Sanjiu retorted and flashed her white teeth at the woman. There were a few pieces of translucent flesh squeaking like mice near her feet. They had escaped from their nest and dirtied the floor with the sticky fluid on their bodies. With a blink of an eye, they were all pierced by bones of Lin Sanjiu's wings. The pieces of flesh fell limp, twitched and died.
Each time a piece of flesh died, AYU and her two companions turned graver.
"Did you give birth to these things?" Lin Sanjiu said with almost cruel expression. She pinched the final piece of living flesh that was still struggling. Revulsion and sarcasm dripped from her voice. "I feel apologetic… killing a child in front of its mother."
"I already told you that I'm not—" Before AYU could finish her sentence, Lin Sanjiu squeezed her fingers together and AYU immediately raised her voice, "Wait! Wait!"
A pair of amber eyes turned to her. When Lin Sanjiu stopped applying pressure to that piece of flesh, it let out a sharp shrill.
"Okay. Okay," AYU raised her remaining hand as if to show that she was surrendering, "What do you want? We won't touch you. We'll go our own ways, alright?"
Lin Sanjiu smiled. Her wings loomed slightly above her as her lips curled. Her opponent's reaction wasn't unantic.i.p.ated.
The previous confrontation with them had already proven that these creatures weren't good at fighting. When Lin Sanjiu ground up half the nest, AYU and her companions tried their best to make her hallucinate. Lin Sanjiu saw some illusions once or twice, but her higher consciousness allowed her to quickly see through them.
As their best techniques were useless, AYU and her companion could only guard themselves, standing not far from Lin Sanjiu. They didn't even dare to rush over to save the flesh ma.s.ses that Lin Sanjiu had slaughtered. They were very certain that if they were to fight physically with Lin Sanjiu, they would be killed many times over.
"There is one problem. You guys have already provoked me. More than once." Lin Sanjiu felt the disgusting, slippery texture of the flesh between her fingers. She un-carded a tube of chips she got from Kisaragi Station. She emptied the chips and squeezed the piece of flesh into the cylindrical tube. "Right. I should start with this question. What are you guys?"
AYU looked as if someone had stuffed a mouthful of mud in her mouth. She eyed the Pringles tube and replied, "Souls. We are Souls."
"Oh yeah, you're telling me that souls look like you guys?"
"No. No. Souls is the name of our species." AYU was unusually cooperative and Lin Sanjiu was not sure if it was because she had a hostage. "We had used this name even back in our home world… I have no idea who named us. But it is apt, don't you think? All organisms are just skin pouches to us. We are the ones who are in full control. Just like what humans described as souls."
"Where are you guys from? Why did you come here?"
"Have you ever heard of a world called Living Dead? That's our home world," AYU stared at Lin Sanjiu with her dark black eyes. The two "Souls" which had consumed and now possessed two bodies, stood behind AYU with the same expressionless faces. "When the apocalypse arrived in that world, our species was born."
Lin Sanjiu felt a chill down her spine, "You… you are the cause of their doomsday scenario?"
AYU nodded her head slowly.
"In other words, they were just like the high temperatures in Hypothermal h.e.l.l, the frigid cold in Whiteout Blizzard, the radiation in Garden of Eden… things along those lines."
Lin Sanjiu could never imagine that the cause of an apocalyptic world could actually… travel as a group.
"No, this isn't right," she suddenly remembered something. "This world already had their doomsday scenario. It was created by those foreign red nautili—"
Lin Sanjiu swallowed the second half of her sentence.
AYU looked at her and smiled, "What do you think was inside those red nautili? It's us. Red Nautilus is already the third world we explored apart from our home world. In the previous world, we found a powerful and large creature… We took off our previous skins and entered the red nautili. We received some abilities from that creature… This is also why I can speak and move like a human. In a similar manner, we ate the red nautili from the inside and we could control their mucus glands and tentacles. We came to this world controlling those large sh.e.l.ls."
The fingers Lin Sanjiu had around the tube of chips were already turning white. It took quite some time before she finally understood AYU's words.
"Are your species transported to another world every 14 months as well?"
"Well, no." AYU shook her head. "Some humans in other worlds are already capable of interstellar travel. Some creatures in some places are also like the red nautili. After we ate them from the inside, we could travel through s.p.a.ce. As they have already been emptied, they did not need oxygen or food. Before we came to this world, we had already drifted in darkness for almost close to a hundred years."
"Close to a hundred years." Lin Sanjiu was shocked. "These apocalyptic worlds already existed a hundred years ago?" However, she had second thoughts. If this "Souls" species can travel beyond a certain speed, they could have broken through the interdimensional barriers. If that was the case, time might not apply in that sense… As this involved Physics she did not understand, Lin Sanjiu did not think too deeply about it.
Lin Sanjiu knew that it was a little odd that AYU was answering all her question cooperatively, however, she couldn't resist asking more questions, "Why does your species aim to travel continuously to another new world?"
"Why do goats eat gra.s.s? Why do fishes swim? Why do humans struggle to survive the apocalypse? This goes down to the need for reproduction coded into our genes. Just like you humans, we want to reproduce. To look for the proper skin which would allow us to reproduce, we need to continue trying. Besides, if we don't die, each time we change our skins, it is equivalent to a reincarnation."
"You mean, your species can't reproduce?"
AYU's expression darkened as her gaze landed on the chips tube. "That's right. Each of the Souls you have seen came from our home world, Living Dead. I'm just a carrier. Over time, our numbers have dwindled. We never had any new births. You kill five Souls today, there will be five less of us. This is why I'm having this discussion with you. We don't have any great animosity between us. There is no reason for us to fight and hurt each other."
"Oh? Then, what do you suggest?"
"You still have friends in Area R, right? Our chemical hormones can cause serious damage to their brains if they're stuck in that comatose state… I think it is worthwhile exchanging their lives for a single Soul and a peace of mind. Don't you think so?" AYU even added jokingly, "Other than our skins, we have nothing, so we can't compensate you for the injuries we inflicted."
Meanwhile, the two people behind her and that half-melted Redhead Ol' Jack did not say a word. They seemed to trust AYU to handle matters.
Lin Sanjiu felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of information that she had just received. It even made it a little hard for her to contemplate. Finally, she nodded her head. They were only a few hours from the estimated arrival time. In any case, her priority was to rescue the people in Area R from the hands of this Souls. She had time to slowly consider this issue in the future.
AYU was true to her words. After a few hours, as the airs.h.i.+p slowly started to descend, she got the two men to wake the remaining pa.s.sengers.
Though Lin Sanjiu had her misgivings, she couldn't help feeling a little relieved when she saw Walter standing up while he rubbed his eyes and Jade leaping up when she woke up and saw the two men. The other pa.s.sengers were ignorant of the fact that they had just escaped being eviscerated. They were even grumbling that their sleep was uncomfortable.
"Okay, you should hand that Soul to us now."
After most of the pa.s.sengers left, AYU said smiling at Lin Sanjiu. Walter and Jade Zhang stood beside Lin Sanjiu as if to protect her. They followed her closely and stared at AYU and her comrades with guarded expressions. Even though they couldn't see the meat nest and Redhead Ol' Jack, they apparently found it weird that once they were woken up the airs.h.i.+p was already descending.
To be honest, Lin Sanjiu wasn't sure what she should do.
She wasn't willing to just hand over the Soul to them. It was proof of the Souls' existence. However, she didn't want to get involved with their species either. After all, once they wore and adapt to their skins, they would look no different from other real humans. Even if she wasn't afraid that the Souls would send their people to hara.s.s and ambush her, she had to be considerate of her friends.
Lin Sanjiu was about to hand over the tube with some reluctance. But when AYU reached out for it, she suddenly pulled her hand back and narrowed her eyes.
"You said too much just now. I forgot to ask you one more thing," Lin Sanjiu eyed AYU as her fingers grew cold. "Why did you make the pa.s.sengers in Area R unconscious?"
AYU's mouth opened and then closed. She didn't make a single sound.
"After you gave birth to the first batch of souls, Jade discovered that you were pregnant once again," Lin Sanjiu hoped that she had made a mistake, however, the hairs on her back were standing. "This means you didn't just bring nine Souls with you… Before you looked for me in the nest, you made the other pa.s.sengers in Area R unconscious."
A person behind Lin Sanjiu moved a little. Before anything happened, Lin Sanjiu's wings suddenly spread open and defended its owner like a beast.
"There are Souls and then, there are ready-to-use skin pouches," Lin Sanjiu's eyes and throat were uncomfortably dry. "Those people in Area R have already been eviscerated, right?"
After she said that, she felt someone knocking her wings gently from behind. Lin Sanjiu turned her body slowly. Jade Zhang looked at her expressionlessly. Her usually comical hair curls were now sticking tightly to her head. It made her look unnatural.
Walter was different. The teenager with dark blonde hair acted just as lively as before. His expression and movements were almost similar to his real person.
"We were buying time so that they could act more naturally with their new skins," Walter—or rather the creature wearing Walter's skin—said with a smile, "But, you found out anyway."
Lin Sanjiu felt a little nauseated.
She did not know how the Souls removed the innards of the humans they inhabited, but it must be rare for one of them to adapt and maneuver their new body so quickly.
"Walter" extended one of his hands to her and smiled once again, "Hi, I'm the queen of my species. It is nice to wear you today."