Doomsday Wonderland Chapter 533
When the beam from the torchlight shone into the first floor, the light above diminished, and the entire concourse dimmed. The hall was large, and there were only a few pillars that could hide their presence. Hiding behind one of those pillars, Lin Sanjiu closed her eyes and let out a sigh.
By all means, she couldn't fall into Bohemia's hand.
The reason Bohemia dragged her into the Astral Plane was to get her Potential Growth Value back. Right now, they were in the same game, but the roles they played were opposing. Lin Sanjiu was the prisoner while Bohemia was the warden. Wasn't this the best chance for Bohemia to catch her?
If Bohemia did get her Potential Growth Value back, the consequence was that the chances of them clearing the game would become even lower, and Lin Sanjiu believed that Bohemia would not be so kind as to bring her out of the Astral Plane. She was worried sick. If she couldn't pull this off, perhaps Salvation of God might be the graveyard for both her and her grand prize.
Hence, she had to avoid Bohemia at all cost. If anything went sideways, and she had no choice but to clash with Bohemia, J7 would have to release its hand. Looking at the miniature automaton who dangled around her waist, Lin Sanjiu was clueless how to articulate the situation in words.
Deep silence reigned in the large space, and there weren't any other sounds other than the occasional conversation between the two wardens. The buzz of electricity was absent. Every time they talked, their voices would travel far and long, creating an echo that reverberated throughout the entire concourse. In such a situation, Lin Sanjiu had to keep extremely quiet because the slightest noise would expose her to her pursuers.
Nevertheless, that wasn't the thing she worried about the most. What had her heart trembling in fear was that the concourse was too vast and too empty. It wouldn't take much time for the two wardens to finish searching it, and they were now very close to the pillar which she hid behind. Her fear of getting discovered drove her into a frantic search over a new hiding spot, but her attempt was fruitless. She could not find any place, and the closest pillar to her were hundreds of miles away.
Similar to the hallway above, there weren't any windows on the first floor. The only exit was the metal gate behind the wardens. Even if J7 could easily blast the gate open, they could not get closer to the door now, never mind that J7 was in no shape to do so right now. What made the matter worse was that the tall and bulky player had released his "corresponding condition" in the center of the door.
It was a row of creepy-looking shell-like green plants that occasionally swayed with the wind. The side of the plant was fringed with small zigzags, while the center was a bright pinkish color. Its appearance was incredibly unnatural. It didn't even look like a plant. Growing out from the concrete, the line of plants blocked the entire door without leaving any space.
"Come over here," Bohemia called out to the tall and bulky man, shattering the silence. She pointed to the pillar where Lin Sanjiu hid and said, "Stop looking around like a headless chicken. Follow my lead."
The man wasn't happy with Bohemia's attitude, but he still followed her orders after giving out a small grumble. When they were a couple of steps away from the pillar, Bohemia frowned, as if she had heard something. She stopped and gestured to the man behind him.
The tall and bulky man opened his two small eyes wide, surveying the area. Then, he nodded in assent.
Their movements were cautious and quiet, like two leopards hunting for pray. They did not go around the pillar, and after exchanging glances, they released their attacks respectively. A few vines shot out from the concrete behind the pillar, casting swaying shadows on the wall. Unlike the tall and bulky bloke, Bohemia's corresponding condition was quiet and stealthy and did not stir up anything in the air. A door suddenly slid open from the shadow on the wall.
"Nope, nothing is there," the tall and bulky man grumbled. He threw an accusing glance at Bohemia as if criticizing Bohemia for being overly sensitive, but he did not have the guts to verbalize his criticism. He urged, "Let's keep searching."
A lock of blond hair fell from Bohemia's face as her brows creased in a confused frown. She walked forward to the pillar while carefully avoiding the shell-like vine. After she found there weren't any people behind the pillar, she returned to the man, her brows still creasing in the middle of her forehead, "That's weird. I'm pretty sure I heard a sound coming from over here."
"What kind of sound was it?" The stocky man chimed in with a question, "Could it be the sounds from the prisoners? I saw that there are a lot of prison cells up there."
"You might be right."
As they talked, they moved to the other side of the hall. After going around the tables and chairs that were scattered all around the room, they took the search a few floors upward. Perhaps it was too troublesome to search through every level, they soon returned to the gate to wait for the announcement of the next breach.
After they had dispelled their corresponding condition, Bohemia yanked the metal gate open. The chunk of heavy metal grated across the ground, sending a jarring note through the concourse.
As the discomforting noise spread across the concourse, Lin Sanjiu heaved a sigh and jabbed at J7.
J7 now was all but an automaton. Its body had opened up, shaping into a few long lines of mechanic components with claws that hooked them firmly on the ceiling. The only thing that remained was its stapler-like head.
J7 still clung tightly to Lin Sanjiu's waist using its arm. Using the mechanical arm as her only support, Lin Sanjiu spread opened her four—no, three limbs and positioned herself in the narrow space between the pillar and the ceiling. She remained so completely still as she feared that the gravity might pull her down.
When Bohemia was searching for them below, she only needed to lift her head to look at the ceiling, and she would have found both of them.
J7 began to reconstruct its body again after receiving the nudge from Lin Sanjiu. Although it was now the size of a domestic feline, it was still strong enough to retract each of its mechanical parts back to their original spots, all the while sustaining the weight of an adult female with its arm. After that, they skidded down the pillar and landed quietly on the ground.
"Once again, you saved the day," Lin Sanjiu complimented J7.
It was no doubt that J7 was more useful than a human as it could adapt its body according to the surroundings. If it wasn't because of the game rules which required both of them to maintain physical contact, she believed that J7 could quickly clear the game and escaped the prison single-handedly.
"Yeah, thanks to me," J7 assented.
"So, now what?" Lin Sanjiu had gotten used to the way it talked. She asked, "Should we go around and see if there any other exit besides from the metal gate?"
"I don't see any windows here."
"What about the ventilation pipes?"
"You don't need to breathe when you're in your Higher Consciousness form. The huff and puff you're feeling right now is merely your subconscious habit."
Lin Sanjiu began to feel worried again. The building was completely sealed up like a huge metal bucket, and they couldn't force their way out through the main entrance.
When she was going to consult J7 for some advice, she saw its "stapler," which was a lot smaller than the original size, turn 180 degrees around, pointing straight behind her.
A heavy thump burst out from the metal gate. The ringing clash reverberated clearly in the concourse. Lin Sanjiu's heart skipped a beat. Then, Bohemia's muffled curse, full of rage and resentment, wafted from the metal gate behind, "Bula, you son of a bitch! I swear to God I'm gonna kick your ass! Just you wait!"
The Bula Bohemia spoke of was the tall and bulky man. Right now, he was standing behind Lin Sanjiu and J7.
He shrugged off Bohemia's expletive with a sarcastic smile. He said, "The news of you losing half of your Potential Growth Value was an after-dinner conversation for the people in Astral Plane. Do you think you're still the same as before? Don't be so absurd!"
Lin Sanjiu recoiled two steps back as understanding dawned upon her. The hearsay of Bohemia losing her Potential Growth Value must have gone so wrong that her comrade believed she was fragile now, so he turned his coat.
"Why didn't you come in with her?" Lin Sanjiu had no idea whether or not she should feel relieved at the sudden turn of the events. She stared Bula vigilantly and asked, "Isn't it safer to work together with her to catch us?"
"Well, I don't know the rules for you prisoners," Bula offered Lin Sanjiu a grin, "For us warden, whoever succeeded in catching the two prisoners first gets all the rewards. Otherwise, why do you think I would go so far as to trick her back into the metal gate?"
"So he knew we were there all along—"
"Rewards? What kind of rewards?" Lin Sanjiu tried to stall him as long as possible until she had an idea how to drive the attacker away, "And how did you find out—"
But Bula wasn't going to give her the chance. His glance fell onto Lin Sanjiu's vanished hand as he giggled, sending his baritone voice which didn't go very well with his tall and portly figure into Lin Sanjiu's ears, "I wonder how much Higher Consciousness you have lost to this game. I hope it wasn't too less; otherwise, all my efforts would be in vain."
Before allowing the words to sink in, Bula had charged in. Lin Sanjiu tried to avoid the attack, but she stopped when her second-sight kicked in and turned to the side, throwing herself on the ground. She looked up from the ground to see that there was a weird plant—the one similar to the plants that blocked the door earlier on—growing out from the ground behind the spot she previously stood. The shell-like part was wide open lunging headlong at her.
She rolled along the ground, running over J7 in her wake and earning herself a grunt from the automaton. But the guttural voice was instantly blotted out by Bohemia's curse as she beat desperately at the door.
"Don't turn the tag game into a battle," Bula's countenance sank after missed Lin Sanjiu by a hair width a couple of times, "Stay where you are and let me catch you. You won't get hurt. The worst-case scenario is you will be sent back to your cell."
"I think he has a point," J7 commented after it had once again been thrown onto the ground.
Lin Sanjiu put her hand over the automaton's arm as she feared J7 would suddenly release its grip. Countless weird plants were slithering around her legs as if she was in a serpent's lair. Their shell-parts were opened wide, trying to strike Lin Sanjiu. As she zigzagged around to dodge their ambush, she explained to J7, "No, we cannot afford to be sent back to the prison cell. If this guy fails to catch us, he will be kicked out of the game. Bohemia doesn't know I'm here, so I'm certain she will go after him. In that way, I'll be safe!"
"I don't understand. And who is Bohemia?" J7 quickly replied.
Only then Lin Sanjiu realized that she hadn't told J7 about those feuds she had with Bohemia. Since they were in a pinch and it wasn't a good time to tell the automaton the story, Lin Sanjiu just briefly said, "It's a long story. Anyway, we cannot go back to the cell!"
Right after that, she rolled over the ground and escaped an attack. The moment she stopped spinning, the ground beneath her suddenly broke open, and a wisp of green appeared from the crack.
Even if it just grazed her skin, she wouldn't be able to do anything aside from getting thrown back to the prison cell, but she was already too late. In a blink of an eye, the plant had emerged entirely from the ground and had her inside its jaws.
Bula let out a satisfied laugh. He walked forward, and his smile froze on his face.
The plant indeed had Lin Sanjiu inside its jaw, but the woman wasn't sent back to her cell, and there was no announcement from the prison saying that the escapee had been contained. Bula's countenance changed. He darted forward, but it was already too late.
Ashen-faced, Lin Sanjiu twisted her body around and the front part of her body fell from the jaws of the plant. The bottom portion of her was still trapped inside the plant's pocket. It looked as if she had been severed from the top of her head. This was the way J7 showed her earlier on.
Had she wasn't in her Higher Consciousness form now, it would be a gruesome scene too bloody to be seen.
Even J7 was so shocked by the scene that it reaped the automaton away of its ability to talk. Lin Sanjiu held it in her hand, and after she had been severed in half, the robot almost fell into the lobes. When it realized that it was still on the first floor, the bulb on top of the automaton's stapler-like head blinked several times in quick succession as if it finally understood what "mixed feelings" meant.
Right now, she only had half of her body left, and it was a new experience even for a veteran such as Lin Sanjiu. She couldn't get accustomed to the new sensation of her limbs, which were now only half of their original size, and fell to the ground. If she were a second later and did not split her body before the plant caught her, she would have been back in the prison cell already.
Bula's chubby face was scarlet with anger. Seeing that Lin Sanjiu couldn't stand up, he sauntered his way to her.
"I don't understand why you had to complicate things. Just give up already. You're wasting my time." As he said, he subconsciously looked at the metal door.
Although Bohemia had ceased to scold or curse Bula, she never stopped banging on the metal gate. The constant thumping sound irritated Bula so much that the vein on his forehead bulged. He looked at Lin Sanjiu and sneered, "All that hard work, yet you still got caught by me in the end. After I sent you back to your cell, I'll go look for another prisoner—"
He did not finish his sentence and threw a punch at Lin Sanjiu.
"The other prisoner?"
All of a sudden, there was a light in Lin Sanjiu's mind. She yelled at J7, "Shoot his head!" as Bula's shadow loomed over her.
Before he could retaliate, J7 had its gun pointed at his face. The next thing he knew was a barrage of bullets that showered directly into his face. After two rounds of firing, J7's size became only as large as a peanut.
But it had done its job, and that was more than enough.
Bula tried to protect his face with his hand, but the bullet was able to penetrate his hand. The parts of Higher Consciousness form that had been blasted away were floating in the air, while the major portion was gradually vanishing.
Bula had never expected that the second prisoner was this robotic doll right before his eyes. He let down his guard when he saw that Lin Sanjiu was immobilized. He could have never imagined that the moment he went closer to them, he would be rewarded with a barrage of bullets at point-blank range. And even though his Higher Consciousness form was far sturdier than J7's, he still lost his chance.
"Warden One has failed in capturing the escapees. Transmitting Warden One out from the game."
The announcement came so sudden that it startled both Lin Sanjiu and J7. Her heart pumped wild like a caged lion. There wasn't any announcement the last time they killed a prisoner. It appeared to them that the prison would only broadcast whenever a player was defeated.
"I suppose these are our prizes?" Perhaps J7 was too eager to return to its usual form, its synthetic sound was full of hopes, "Hurry up. Let's get up and try if we can absorb—"
Before it could finish its sentence, the door was kicked open.
Next, Bohemia's whoops drifted into Lin Sanjiu's ears, sounding like a nightmare to her.
"Hah, serve you right! This is what you get for being greedy and tried to get the prizes on your own!" She wiped her face as a cold smile appeared on her face. She walked a few steps forward into the concourse and looked around. Very soon, she found the place where the battle ensued. Since it was pretty far from the metal gate, she jumped a few times before landing in front of Lin Sanjiu and J7.
"Oh, this is great! It's all mine now!" As she giggled, she extended her hand to grab Lin Sanjiu. Then, her gaze fell on Lin Sanjiu's face.
For a moment, despair overtook Lin Sanjiu's mind.
Bohemia's grin froze on her face.
In the next second, Bohemia retracted her hand, much to Lin Sanjiu surprise. The former covered her face and squatted down. Gone was the usual bewitching and charming mien. Drowned in a storm of anger, helplessness, and aggrieved, Bohemia let out a throaty groan.
"What the hell is going on?" She yelled out loud as if she was letting off steam, "Prisoners are players too? And of all people, why do I have to go up against her?"
Stunned, Lin Sanjiu looked at Bohemia. The scales fell from her eyes. She suddenly realized that she might have judged the situation wrong.