Chapter 307: Thunder and Rain (Part 1/3)
Xue Lei held amazing valor when faced with such an aberrant situation, but his human instincts still made his scalp go numb. He couldn't stop the cold shiver that ran down his spine. "What sort of monster is this?"
Luo Nan didn't respond. Instead, Black Beetle's body leaned over a few degrees to face the two directly. The throat continued to reverberate. "...Pashasha. What Ouka means is sorry."
A few of the words were pronounced very articulately by Black Beetle. If one were to close their eyes, they would probably not hear much of a difference between the prior and later parts…. Even if one were to blink, one could confirm that a person was talking as long as they ignored the uncomfortable details.
Right now, Black Beetle had a restrained, polite expression that was uncharacteristic of him. His pair of hands were clasped together, stiffly protecting his lower abdomen. His head sagged slightly, and he truly had an appearance of apology.
"An early move has caused several connections to be missing. A transformation process still needs to be undertaken. Please forgive me."
Were it not for the unnatural twitching of facial muscles…. Were it not for the pointed insect limbs poking out of his nose, mouth, and ears, the current Black Beetle's expression would simply be like that of a trained and experienced ceremonial officer.
The comparison of before and after. The comparison of internal and external. These comparisons made one's mind shiver with a haunting alienation.
Xue Lei realized what had happened by integrating Zhang Yingying's previous reminder with the situation. He adjusted his positioning, protecting Luo Nan behind his broad shoulders. He directly faced that human-yet-not-human, insect-yet-not-insect thing, and shouted,
"Before the transformation can be completed, I will need to deal with you two. However, just as someone said before, I hope to have some useful exchanges with Lord Luo within this small period of time."
Before them was Black Beetle externally, and a mutated demon bug internally, but its will was Snake Tongue's in a strange existence. This could be surmised from the calm, courteous behavior in speech. At the same time, the stiff body had leaned forward a bit, and it had adapted to speaking. It soon straightened back up, and then performed a deep bow with a look of extreme respect.
"Lord Luo's theory has opened my eyes, breaking through obstacles that plagued me for several years. I have benefitted from the lecture."
For an instant, Xue Lei, who was standing between the two, felt like he was the third wheel.
This was true in a way. Snake Tongue borrowed Black Beetle's mouth to speak and move. This was just a form. Its thoughts viewed Xue Lei as nothing. It looked only at Luo Nan.
"I believe that Lord Luo should also have his own set of gears. Lord Luo is also engaging in a marvelous application of coupling—the power that can see through living beings completely. However, the operation isn't very smooth, correct?"
As Black Beetle's body spoke, his cheeks revealed convulsions completely out of tune with his tone. A beat later, his two eyes noiselessly disintegrated. Blood splattered, and mossy green appendages of an insect protruded out of the eye sockets, then withdrew again.
In this eye-spasming scene, a smile was revealed on Black Beetle's face. Between the pitch-black teeth engraved with lines expelled an inhuman and deathly air. "Your gear is extraordinary, but your body is frail. The more complicated and profound the coupling, the greater the pressure that is brought to you. Lord Luo, how long can you endure it?"
Luo Nan stood behind Xue Lei. His face felt a bit uncomfortable. It was because of the blood that flowed down from his eye sockets; it was about to dry up. Luo Nan used the white cuffs of his white coat to wipe his face with two strokes. Such a small action affected the nerves of his face, bringing him pain. It was as if he were being scraped by a knife.
He exhaled, did his best to maintain the tranquility with his face, and softly said, "Did you simply kill Black Beetle to reduce the complexity of coupling, thereby gaining greater control?"
"Each time Lord Luo speaks, the meaning is clear, and the essence is there."
Snake Tongue responded through Black Beetle's riddled body. At that moment, she was on the same train of logic as Luo Nan. She could hold a two-way communication with him. "Allow me to express my objection. Lord Luo's assertion of Black Beetle being dead is rather imprudent. I merely made altercations to his way of existence. According to what Lord Luo explained, I just took the central gear and transformed it into another shape."
Black Beetle's body spasmed violently as the words were released. His entire body shrunk into a ball, and he knelt to the ground, shivering from head to toe.
Xue Lei subconsciously pushed across with his arm, bringing Luo Nan further behind him. He feared that the enemy might spawn something like a demonic moth. A faint yet fine chant came out from Black Beetle right when Xue Lei moved. The chant merged with the frigid wind atop the viewing platform to blow in all directions.
Xue Lei didn't know if it was an illusion, but he felt the strength of the wind weaken. Then a beat later, little sounds of explosions rang from various areas atop the viewing platform.
Xue Lei's ears twitched. He spun his gaze in a circle, accurately capturing every point of explosion. He just saw light green vapor rise up and diffuse in all these locations.
"Twenty-seven of them. They should be the bugs controlled by Black Beetle. They all exploded."
"It’s Insect Explosion. Be careful of the nerve gas inside. If the gas has been made more effective through special techniques, its corrosive nature can be quite strong." Zhang Yingying already knew that Snake Tongue had arrived, thanks to her wristband communications. She was even more worried and anxious now, but she feigned calmness in order to prevent the two rookies from panicking. It should be quite exhausting to keep acting like this.
Xue Lei's eyelid twitched. "The volume doesn't appear to be big, but what are her intentions by gathering the gas all together from all sides?"
Zhang Yingying's mind went blank. "Gather?"
Luo Nan inserted himself into the conversation. "Snake Tongue is controlling the airflow atop the platform. Leister, can you take the stairs while carrying me?"
"No problem!" In any case, Xue Lei would have to put up with it even if there were problems.
"Then let's.... Forget it. We're a bit too late."
Luo Nan's voice grew hoarser. His body was indeed under enormous pressure. He was becoming weaker and weaker, but his mind was glowing brighter and brighter.
Things were just as Snake Tongue guessed. Luo Nan had achieved a coupling relationship between his gears under his roughly formed order frame. The coupling might not have been smooth, but it was enough to give birth to a divine light capable of illuminating the inside and the outside, reaching everywhere and giving Luo Nan amazing foresight.
Unfortunately, the difference between the enemy's experience and Luo Nan's experience was great. When facing the mage Snake Tongue and her treacherous and mysterious mind, Luo Nan's reactions were slower by a thread.
Right then, the frigid air current atop the platform was under the control of a fine spell chant. The winds were tamed and acquiescent. The winds whirled, gathering the scattered green poison clouds over, one after another. The layers of pressure headed toward Luo Nan and Xue Lei. They looked like rolls of fine cotton at first glance. They floated, not dispersing, and converged into screens, surrounding them at all sides. The way out of the platform was blocked off, sealing Luo Nan and Xue Lei inside.
Xue Lei looked around in a circle, the veins of his forehead throbbing. He had the mind to use a fist of gale to break through these layers of poison mist screens. However, he thought about how masterful Snake Tongue's wind-control spell was, and he hesitated from acting against evil so as to prevent harm to innocents.
He had reached the realm of obtaining his sign. He might not have to fear the poison mist, but what about Luo Nan? It was impossible for Luo Nan endure this torment with his body.
Snake Tongue's method of playing things down had stabbed a lethal point of weakness into them.
What should they do now? Wait for the poison to vaporize? Disregarding the fact that the platform was constructed in a half-open style, Snake Tongue had made this space no different than a completely sealed room.
And this wasn't the end of things.
Xue Lei's eyelids twitched, and he saw Black Beetle, who had fallen to the ground with spasms, slowly crawl up from the ground. Black Beetle's body was still a bit rocky, and his bloody cavities-for-eyes endlessly spewed blood. His face was skewered with several holes by sharp insect limbs, but he still revealed a courteous smile.
"The transformation has been complete. I've made Lord Luo see a joke."
Before the final syllable ended, Black Beetle's mask-like smile shattered into pieces. In its place was a hatred and madness warped to the extreme. The two bloody cavities upon his face spun toward Luo Nan's location. He spoke through gnashing teeth, "Little bastard who hides beneath a woman's skirt. GO DIE! AHHHHHHHH!"
The sudden change in aura made Xue Lei's scalp explode. The scene before Xue Lei's eyes blossomed. Black Beetle was charging over with a roar. He directly rushed through the green poison screen and punched straight out.
The charge pushed the poison screen into a chaotic eddy, and Xue Lei could smell the acridity. He thought about Luo Nan behind him, and Xue Lei flew into a rage. He made a sharp shout, and his powerful body actually expanded by a factor. His body was akin to a giant’s as he unleashed heavy blows.
A bang exploded out, and Black Beetle was knocked back at a speed even faster than his approach. The bone of his right arm was smashed into three sections by Xue Lei. He was again suppressed by heavy fists. The fists warped and collapsed his forehead inward, smashing a depression into his skull.
But in the instant Black Beetle was bombarded back, Black Beetle ripped off his tie with his left hand and swung it in one stroke. It slashed silently across Xue Lei's chest, and it was as if Xue Lei's clothes were cut by a sharp blade. They instantly split, and a white line appeared on his chest. The line rapidly turned red as it filled with blood. A dark color even shown through right on the eve of breaking through.
Xue Lei gritted his teeth, uttering not a sound. He just looked unwaveringly at Black Beetle.
If this was a normal situation, the exchange of blows would have led to Black Beetle's brain exploding to mush. Xue Lei would have won already. However, the fellow before his eyes, with his twisted expression and cracked skull, did not have brains come out, but part of the shell of an ugly demonic bug.
Black Beetle even grinned with laughter. "Ohhhh, the open wind feels so good…. Why have I never discovered this before?"
Xue Lei's mind shuddered with aversion. He didn't know if it was Black Beetle speaking or the demonic bug.
What the hell was this guy now?
Before Xue Lei could finish this thought, Black Beetle's expression went through another change. His lips and teeth opened, and he conveyed Snake Tongue's will, "Lord Luo, is Black Beetle dead or alive like this?"
Behind Xue Lei, Luo Nan spoke in a low yet steady voice, "It is merely a damaged soul that's been molded by you into a wraith-like monster...."
"That's one interpretation."
Snake Tongue didn't deny it. "The scale between life and death is fuzzy from the perspectives of you and I. You say he's dead. I say he's living. We each have our own criterion. However, I want to ask. If Lord Luo becomes like this, will you have the same thoughts then?"
"Of course, I certainly won't treat you as roughly as I have Black Beetle. I will use the most meticulous of techniques to slowly mold you. I'll have Lord Luo's soul become the most precious of my collection."
Under Snake Tongue's control, Black Beetle faced Luo Nan and Xue Lei with another bow. Green beetles substituted the brain within the split skull. They squirmed a bit. "When that happens, I will remold a more suitable body for Lord Luo to house your dazzling soul. If fortune would have it, we can even converse about research. I want the thoughts of a genius. Thoughts on perfecting order frames and the like. This is my plan….
"What do you think, Lord Luo?"