Doomsday Wonderland - Chapter 99
The same utterance escaped Lin Sanjiu’s lips a few minutes later.
After running like mad for her life, she realized that something was amiss after some time. Unable to overcome her curiosity, she turned behind, looking in the direction where Puppeteer stood. Soon, she couldn’t control her laughter. She laughed as she ran, "We’re so dead. He must be so pissed… Hahaha!"
An expressionless female mannequin was chasing her. The moment the mannequin got close to her side, Lin Sanjiu slapped the mannequin's arm, and [A Twinkle in the Sky] was immediately activated. The female mannequin shot up to the sky with the same lifeless face and soon vanished into a twinkle in the sky.
"36th!" Lin Sanjiu grinned jovially as she shouted to the puppets chasing her, "Run faster! Come on! Your master can’t move right now, so it’s up to you guys!"
Lin Sanjiu was right. At that moment, Puppeteer really wasn’t moving.
But, this wasn’t entirely right either. Although Puppeteer looked exasperated, he was running at quite a quick pace. Compared to his previously indolent attitude, he seemed serious. However, no matter how hard he ran, he couldn’t move even one step forward, much less even a meter. It was as if he were a hamster on a hamster wheel, he found himself stuck in the same spot.
"So that ‘rad mail’ referred to that!" Lin Sanjiu exclaimed.
Hai Tianqing’s ability [The glory of a personal trainer: Treadmill]
"Description: After activation, one square meter of ground under the target’s feet will be converted into an operational treadmill. This treadmill is set to the highest speed and incline, so no matter how hard the target runs, they will remain stuck in the spot…"
After sending another two mannequins flying one after the other, Lin Sanjiu jumped to a higher ground to get a better vantage point. She saw the black dot representing Puppeteer suddenly stopping before it moved backward at a rapid speed. He seemed to have figured out what was happening, so he gave up running forward and instead waited so that he would be pushed off the "treadmill".
Puppeteer was indeed pushed off, but surprisingly, even someone of his level actually fell over stomach first! To make things worse, while he sprawled on the ground, his body was still moving backward, and he almost reached near the edge of the dried up ocean...
"...Note: Personal trainers do not like lazy students. If a target decides to stay still, he will fall down, and a new treadmill will appear on the spot where he falls. This will continue until the target properly finishes a 10-min jog. The treadmill will only disappear then.
"PS: Don’t try jumping to the sides, you will bang your ribs against the handles."
Lin Sanjiu couldn’t help feel an incredible sense of satisfaction humiliating such a dangerous character.
She ran even faster. She could hear the whooshing wind as the scenery around her quickly receded. She only slowed down when she realized that her surroundings became quiet.
After some faking and a few sharp turns, Lin Sanjiu managed to successfully get away from the mannequins chasing her. Now, the silence around her made her feel as if she were the only one left on Earth.
"What’s this place?" She gasped for air as she looked around, feeling some uncertainty.
She couldn’t even spot a single remnant of a human civilization near her.
She was standing in the middle of an open terrain which was sloping downward. There were all sorts of oddly-shaped rocks, sand, and patches of marshy ground. In the far horizon behind her, a blood red sun was slowly descending. Hearing only the howling wind which blew across this otherworldly landscape, it was as if the ruins of the city and the devastation at the pier were just part of her dream.
Lin Sanjiu looked down at the paper-like, dried seaweed under her boots. She noticed the partially eroded seashells on the ground and the jet-black rocks covered with cracks… "I’m at the bottom of the ocean?"
While she ran maniacally for her life, she had somehow run to the dried-up ocean.
For now, she knew that she could not return to the land.
[There must be an army of puppets waiting on the coast.]
She turned behind and looked at the trail of footprints she had left on the sandy ground before she took out her [cat litter] card and reverted it back to its original form.
A 5kg bag of cat litter appeared out of nowhere, and Lin Sanjiu nearly missed holding on to it.
"Description: Animals from the feline family cover their excretion with soil to hide their scent and whereabouts. Even though the color (bright orange) of this Cat Litter doesn’t look like it can camouflage into any sort of environment, it can mysteriously conceal the user’s tracks.
"Instructions: Sprinkle a thin layer of cat litter over the place where you’ve walked passed or stayed, and with that, even super-elite hunters will not be able to find you."
"Does this really work?" Lin Sanjiu continued walking forward as she sprinkled a handful of cat litter behind her. The cat litter took on a life of its own and started covering Lin Sanjiu’s tracks. With that, her footprints were covered, but the bright orange cat litter stood out as its color clearly wouldn’t blend with that of the seabed. She couldn’t help wondering if it would create the opposite effect.
After covering up her tracks, she observed her surroundings a little more carefully.
Even though the seabed was dry, one could still sense an eerie difference between this place and the "normal" land. The rocks were covered with the blooms of dried anemones which retained their gorgeous colors. Opened clam shells, the size of a human head, laid half buried in the sandy ground. The terrain was also covered by the skeletal remains of bleached coral reefs, sadly, fishes will never swim here again.
The carcasses of many dead sea creatures did not turn to ashes but were instead somewhat preserved by the thick layer of salt left behind after the seawater had been evaporated.
Lin Sanjiu poked one of the dead fishes on the ground, experimentally. She didn’t expect that her finger would pierce through the rotten flesh without much resistance. She immediately felt a squishy mud-like sensation, and a putrid stench rushed out from the hole she had made.
"And it’s inedible…" she rubbed her finger over the salt on the ground with some revulsion and felt a little worried. There was food at the pier, but the Puppeteer had already occupied that territory so she definitely couldn’t go back. The only way out was for her to walk even deeper into the ocean, but there was no food or clean water...
Luckily, Lin Sanjiu stored a crate of chocolates and a crate of coffee as cards just for emergencies when she was packing the goods back then. They could probably sustain her for some time.
Unfortunately, she did not know what had happened to B.Rabbit and the others and wondered how they would survive without food or if they were caught by Puppeteer.
When she thought of Puppeteer, she clenched her teeth and continued deeper into the ocean.
After Lin Sanjiu’s figure disappeared from the shallower terrains of the ocean, a carcass of a decomposing whale, which had been rotting on the sand since who-knows-when, and whose stomach had almost become a pile of sludge, began to move.
"Squelch." Someone cut open a hole in the whale’s mushy, rotting head. Two people squeezed out of the hole, one was taller than the other. They were both covered with a thick layer of black rotting whale "sludge", and the smell on them was revolting. They looked around cautiously, and when they noticed that Lin Sanjiu was already very far away, the shorter person quickly wiped his face. He subsequently shook off the black sludge all over his body.
"Brother Tie Dao, was this really necessary?" He looked very unconvinced as he continued to grumble, "That woman isn’t some kind of monster. I think we’ll be fine if we go over and greet her, did we really have to hide in that whale’s stomach?"
While he said this, he shook his leg. A pile of black sludge plopped on the ground, revealing the teenager’s uniform.
"What do you know!" Tie Dao was a little provoked by the teenager’s words. "Do you think she is just an ordinary woman? You’re obviously still a kid… Let me tell you what happened. I first met her about two months after the apocalypse."
"Then?" the teenager still sounded a little disinterested.
Tie Dao sighed. He found a large piece of seaweed and wiped his body as he said, "At that time, I was living in a human base camp called ‘Oasis’. It was huge. There were at least 1000 people. I met her there. Did you see that rabbit and that gigantic man? They were all Executives from Oasis. I wonder how they even end up together in a team… Sigh... back to the main topic. Before this woman arrived, everything was operating fine at Oasis. The population was getting larger, and we were thriving. But two weeks after she arrived, Oasis was destroyed. There wasn’t even a single brick left. I’m not exaggerating."
"What happened?" the teenager was startled.
Tie Dao summarized what happened in Oasis, from how the duoluozhongs slaughtered them and how Lin Sanjiu pulverized the entire place with a silver net. Seeing the teenager’s astounded face, he gave him a "you can’t go wrong listening to me" expression and concluded, "When I saw her at the pier, I nearly fainted because I knew that something bad was bound to happen. My premonition was right! My mother once told me that certain women are natural harbingers of trouble, and you’ll die if you get involved with them…"
The teenager’s expression suddenly turned despondent, perhaps remembering his sister who he had failed to save. Tie Dao looked at him and patted his shoulders, sighing, "Let bygones be bygones. Anyway, if you see that Lin Sanjiu again, you must avoid her…"
While both men chatted and walked towards the land, they didn’t notice that there was a human buried under the layer of salt on the seabed.
The term "human" wasn’t quite accurate because the exposed face had a pair of soulless, lackluster eyes and red lips which were curled into a stiff smile.
The moon made no discrimination between the now non-existent ocean and the lands which were once occupied by humans, shining down and flooding both with its faint silver light.
Thirty minutes later…
"So, that Growth-type’s name is Lin Sanjiu? Coincidentally, you landed there after you were kicked by her?" Puppeteer asked softly as he massaged his temples.
"Yes, father," a mannequin, still covered in sand and salt, replied. There were a hundred other mannequins of the same model standing silently behind Puppeteer. They all had the same vacant stare.
Puppeteer eyed it for a second and suddenly laughed, "Well, why did you continue to hide?"
"Lin Sanjiu is very powerful/I saw her destroying the other puppets. I have no chance of winning/I thought that by hiding/I might get more information from the two other people," the plastic mannequin explained without pausing.
"That sounds reasonable." Puppeteer made a weird gesture in the air as if he was playing a formless instrument. "By the way, humans speak with inflections and pauses. Come, why don’t you try?"
The mannequin opened its mouth, and its voice came out awkwardly. This was its first time trying to speak in this manner, and it even looked a little challenged by the feat: "Yes fa… Father."
Puppeteer’s eyes beamed as he placed a hand on the mannequin’s head, "Wow! This is your first try, but you were able to break up your words! If this continues, you will become even more intelligent and even more like a real human."
"Thank...you. Father…" it replied with a slight hint of emotion.
The head of the mannequin was crushed by Puppeteer the very next second. Fragments of its head fall from its neck and shoulders to the ground, exposing its inner stuffing. The headless mannequin fell motionless to the ground under the view of all the other mannequins vacant stares.
"What a pity. I don’t need a real human. I need a puppet. If you had acted like a normal puppet who isn’t afraid of death and attacked her, I would have been able to get her location even if you had been wrecked…" Puppeteer took out a white handkerchief and clean the broken fragments and dust between his fingers. "When we return to Twelve Worlds Centrum, get someone to check the Consular Officer Database, see if there is the name ‘Lin Sanjiu’. Inform me once it appears," Puppeteer ordered without turning behind.
Once she had entered the vast ocean, Puppeteer did not have any easy way of finding Lin Sanjiu. But if she doesn’t die and finds a Consular Officer, her name will be registered into the Consular Officer Database once she requests a visa. If that happens, it will be extremely easy for Puppeteer to find her.
"Yes," a tall, muscular bloke replied, his skin was rough, and there was a long knife scar across his face. He was definitely not a mannequin, but his eyes were equally vacant.
"If she’s smart, dying of starvation in the depths of the ocean would be a far better choice for her." Puppeteer laughed, wrinkling half his face. "Otherwise, she will regret this. No one will die painlessly after humiliating me, Puppeteer."