Yu Hanjiang’s words stunned his teammates and a chill rose in their hearts at the same time.
The clone was no different from them in appearance.
The card pack could be handed over to others. For example, Xiao Lou had previously given his card pack to his teammates for safekeeping. What if after the 5th clone controlled Liu Qiao, he placed her card pack on a clone’s body?
The card pack alone couldn’t determine the person’s identity.
In order to determine if Liu Qiao was the original or not, they would have to check some secrets that they knew that couldn’t be discovered by the hunters. However, now Liu Qiao was unconscious and it was impossible to determine if she was the original one or not.
Yu Hanjiang asked, “Where did you find her?”
Gui Yuanzhang recalled his experience in the merpeople palace just now and frowned. “The rescue of Liu Qiao went relatively smoothly. We first went to Liu Qiao’s residence. We didn’t find her so we speculated that the clone might’ve taken her to his own residence. We went to Prince Xiao Lou’s residence and found the unconscious Liu Qiao in the fifth side hall.”
Old Mo added, “At that time, ‘Xiao Lou’ happened to come back from outside. We heard him talking to the guard at the door. We were pressed for time so I didn’t think too much. I directly placed Liu Qiao on my back and we fled the palace.”
The entire process was thrilling but the two men didn’t encounter any obstacles.
Yu Hanjiang asked, “Senior Gui and Chief Shao are connected to each other. You said that the clone went to your residence to find you. After he knocked ‘you’ unconscious, he took you away?”
He nodded. “Yes, he took away the dummy I drew with the Magic Pen Ma Liang skill.”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang exchanged looks. They always felt there was a problem. Why did the 5th clone want to take Liu Qiao to his residence? Was this Liu Qiao actually a long-made clone that had been left in his residence?
Nothing could be concluded until Liu Qiao woke up.
Xiao Lou suggested, “We should be cautious and control Xiao Liu first. That way if she is a clone or a hunter, we can prevent anything from happening in the middle of the night while everyone is asleep.”
Shao Qingge suggested, “In 8 of Spades when I was infected by the bugs, didn’t you turn me thumb-sized and place me in a bottle of mineral water? I think this method can be used. First make Liu Qiao smaller and place her in the bottle. Once she wakes up, we can check her memory before releasing her. For us, this is relatively safe and Xiao Liu should understand.”
After he was infected in 8 of Spades, everyone was worried that he would attack them. Thus, they made him smaller and placed him in a bottle. The current situation was similar. If Liu Qiao was a clone or a hunter then she was likely to hurt the team members behind the scenes.
If turned into the size of a thumb, she would have no attack power. This was safer for her and her teammates.
Gui Yuanzhang took out the Thumbelina card from Liu Qiao’s card pack and shrank her. Thus, the mermaid princess on the rock became a thumb-sized fish.
Ye Qi took out the supplies card and poured out the water in a bottle of mineral water. Then he poured sea water into the bottle and placed Liu Qiao in it.
Liu Qiao was unconscious and soon sank to the bottom of the mineral water bottle.
The group looked at the little fish in the bottle in a complicated manner.
The identities of the others had been checked so Xiao Lou found a rock to sit down on. He placed his blue tail next to him and said, “We should think about the next plan. Senior Gui, can you show me Liu Qiao’s cards?”
Gui Yuanzhang handed Liu Qiao’s card pack to Xiao Lou. Xiao Lou found that the duration of this Mermaid Princess skill had changed from the initial two hours to eight hours. He said, “Xiao Liu must’ve used this mermaid card several times during her free time. It has reached full level and can last as long as eight hours.”
Ye Qi wondered, “When did she use it? I haven’t seen her change into a mermaid.”
Old Mo said, “This girl Liu Qiao is very careful. She probably found that the duration of the card is too short so she used it a few times to make it full level. We haven’t seen her use it because the last few instances didn’t need the card. My guess is that she probably did experiments in the bathtub…”
Ye Qi thought about how Liu Qiao had changed into a shark during the cruise ship World Weekly and felt that this possibility was very high. Liu Qiao was an adventurous girl. Changing into a mermaid when she was bored was quite in line with her personality.
It was precisely due to this that her full level card provided great convenience to everyone. Otherwise, if the card was still in its initial state and the transformation only lasted two hours, this time was too short to sneak into the palace to investigate.
Xiao Lou thought about it. “Every transformation lasts eight hours. We can sneak into the palace every night to investigate and leave before dawn?”
Gui Yuanzhang shook his head. “The merpeople are active after dark and sleep during the day. It should be the other way round.”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Then wait until dawn before diving into the deep sea. Senior Gui, Old Mo, please explain the situation of the merpeople to us.”
Gui Yuanzhang sat next to him and spoke in a low voice, “The system of the merpeople is very simple. Some small matters are determined by the king while major matters must be agreed upon by the elders at a meeting. If you add me, there are currently seven elders among the merpeople. Since the merpeople live in the deep sea and don’t interact with other races, we generally live in harmony like a large family. If I carefully calculate it, there are many close relatives among the merpeople. All of the merpeople are related to each other.”
Mo Xuemin added, “The merpeople’s palace is actually a large labyrinth. In the past few days, I have only explored half the area. A large area in the east hasn’t been explored yet. Still, judging from the appearance, there are several very large palaces. Perhaps there’s also a clone laboratory?”
Gui Yuanzhang asked, “Is the key to this secret room the clones?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Yes, we fled from the Capital Star of the Locke Empire to the Azure Empire. After investigating it step by step, the root of all of this is the Noah’s Ark project 20 years ago. Judging from the clues, we can only clear the instance if the cloning program is completely terminated.”
Old Mo looked at Xiao Lou with a complicated expression. “The merman Xiao Lou is quite strong. In the past few days, he has taken people to investigate the shipwreck and his analysis is very accurate. He is exactly the same as you…”
Yu Hanjiang inquired, “Where is the shipwreck? We have to go and take a look.”
Old Mo answered, “It is very close to the palace. The shipwreck has 10 human skeletons, eight men and two women. The oldest is 50 years old while the youngest is a five year old girl.”
“Five years old?” Xiao Lou was stunned. “20 years ago was when that group of clones was aged to five years old. Are you sure it was a five year old girl who died?”
Gui Yuanzhang nodded. “The clone Xiao Lou said that according to the pelvis and bone age, he judged it was a five year old girl. I also examined the child’s bones. Judging from the height, it indeed seemed like a girl around five years old.”
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou looked at each other and came up with a name. “Lin Yan?”
Ye Qi’s eyes widened. “Professor Xiao’s fiancee?”
Shao Qingge narrowed his eyes. “Don’t forget that Lin Yan’s mother, Zhang Shaohua also participated in the Noah’s Ark project. It is normal for Lin Yan to be cloned. The group that fled Capital Star that year took away Lin Yan’s clone. Or is it possible that they took Lin Yan herself and the one left on Capital Star is actually the clone?”
Xiao Lou’s face turned pale. “If the Lin Yan who stayed on Capital Star is a clone, it explains why the emperor didn’t let me attend the engagement banquet and instead had the 2nd Xiao Lou attend. No one knows what will happen if two clones get married and have children. Perhaps the emperor wants to bring two clones together for another experiment?”
Ye Qi got goosebumps. “Will there be a version 3.0 and 4.0?!”
Old Mo was confused hearing this. “What is version 3.0?”
Ye Qi simply explained, “The clone version 1.0 is the first generation where human genes are fused with bug genes. Version 2.0 is based on 1.0 and has the additional merpeople genes fused. Versions 3.0 and 4.0 haven’t appeared yet!”
Old Mo had a headache. “Is this treating the study of human genes as code modification? Researching different system versions? Does the organization that studies the clones have the technology to destroy them?”
Tang Ci nodded gravely. “Just like a system company has system bugs and antivirus software, there must be a special way if we want to destroy the clones.”
Lu Jiuchuan touched his chin and came to a conclusion. “There are many clones in this world. We must find all the clones and completely terminate the Noah’s Ark project. Xiao Lou is the prince and should inherit the throne of the Locke Empire. On the merpeople’s side, the prince is a clone as well so we should support Liu Qiao, the mermaid princess, to rise to the throne. It is only in this way that the world will go back on track?”
Everyone thought about it carefully and felt that Brother Jiu’s idea was quite correct. Eliminating the clones was their clearance goal.
Yu Hanjiang said, “Since we are here, we must first solve the problem of the merpeople. We have to find the clone laboratory in the deep sea and the person who has been studying the clones behind the scenes for all these years.”
Xiao Lou suggested, “Let’s take a rest first. At dawn, we will go to the palace.”
The group of people sat on the reef by the sea, their tails neatly draped next to them. The moonlight was like water and everyone’s tails emitted a soft glow.
Yu Hanjiang looked at Xiao Lou’s beautiful blue tail and then at his black tail. He wondered, “The tail colors are different. Is there any special meaning?”
Gui Yuanzhang explained, “The different tail colors signify the merpeople clans. Silver is the symbol of royal blood while blue, green and black come from the three clans.”
Xiao Lou opened his mouth. “The symbol of the different clans is the tail. How is the relationship between the three clans?”
Gui Yuanzhang answered, “The current king is very prestigious. Based on what I remember, there hasn’t been a war among the merpeople in the past few decades.”
Just then, Liu Qiao in the bottle opened her eyes.
She looked around and swam in the bottle. She found she couldn’t get out and had to ask, “Professor Xiao? Why did you lock me up?”
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality