Liu Qiao’s voice was blocked by the mineral bottle water. It sounded very weak but Xiao Lou noticed the movement in the bottle. He took the mineral water bottle from Ye Qi and spoke quietly, “Xiao Liu, you woke up?”
Liu Qiao swam around the bottle and found that Xiao Lou in front of her seemed to be magnified dozens of times in her field of view. His face looked like a wall to her. She finally reacted and said, “Why did you turn me thumb-sized and lock me up in the bottle? Is it the same as with Chief Shao in 8 of Spades?”
Shao Qingge asked, “Do you remember 8 of Spades?”
Liu Qiao answered, “Of course. Chief Shao was infected when saving Xiao Ye from the bugs. We were afraid he would hurt the team members so we used my Thumbelina card to lock you in the bottle…” She suddenly realized. “I understand. You made me smaller and locked me in the bottle because you are afraid I will hurt everyone? Do you suspect I am a clone?”
Xiao Lou heard this and his suspicion of her reduced a lot. After all, only the team members knew that Shao Qingge had been infected by the bugs in order to save Ye Qi. Liu Qiao accurately said this so her credibility had greatly increased.
Yu Hanjiang spoke softly, “Do you remember where we first met?”
“The mountain temple in Liuxi Village. I turned into Little Red Riding Hood and used the sky lantern to guide you over. This allowed you to find the human bone pit behind the mountain temple.”
Yu Hanjiang continued to ask, “In the Beacon in Troubled Times secret room, what were our identities?”
Liu Qiao seriously replied, “Group Leader Yu was the newly appointed prefectural magistrate, Professor Xiao was your wife, Chief Shao came from a rich family, Old Mo was an expert, Long Sen was a royal guard, Sister Qu was the princess’ close maid, I was a medical girl and Ye Qi… “ She looked at Xiao Ye. “The number one girl in the brothel.”
Ye Qi couldn’t help holding his forehead. “Can you not mention that dark history… Group Leader Yu, can you change the level for the question?”
Yu Hanjiang immediately changed the question. “What diseases did we all have in the 10th level?”
“Professor Xiao was the chief resident of general surgery, Group Leader Yu was shot and sent to the emergency department, Xiao Ye was in the pediatrics department with pneumonia, Chief Shao had a heart disease and had stent surgery, Long Sen broke his leg and had orthopaedic surgery, Old Mo had an intestinal obstruction and was sent for surgery, I had a blood disease and Sister Qu was pregnant and had lupus erythematosus…”
Lu Jiuchuan touched his nose. “It sounds like you were all sick in the 10th level.”
Ye Qi said, “The combination of old, weak, sick, disabled and pregnant was really miserable. Only Professor Xiao was in a normal condition… However, I think this level is more troublesome. In level 10, it was just that everyone’s mobility was limited. The clues were very clear. Meanwhile, here we don’t even know how many clones there are.”
Yu Hanjiang continued, “What was the plot of 9 of Hearts?”
“An entertainment circle murder case. The first murderer was psychologically distorted and killed the judge who gave her a red light in a singing contest. The second was a plastic surgery stand-in who killed her close female friend.”
Xiao Lou heard Liu Qiao’s answers about the past instances and was finally relieved. For the sake of insurance, he continued to ask, “Xiao Liu, do you remember the library of the medical school. On the 23rd floor, there is information on Chinese medicine.”
Liu Qiao thought about it. “Yes, I often go to the 23rd floor to borrow books to read.”
Xiao Lou was silent for a moment before looking at Yu Hanjiang. “There are no problems. This should be Liu Qiao.”
Everyone was relieved to hear it.
Liu Qiao opened her mouth. “The snacks that ‘Xiao Lou’ brought to me should be mixed with some drugs. I fainted after eating it. If it hadn’t been for Professor Xiao suddenly using Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings, I wouldn’t have doubted his identity at all. He was too much like Professor Xiao.”
Xiao Lou helplessly said, “It is hard to tell the difference in appearance because the genes of the clones are 99% similar. It is like identical twins. What you saw was the number 5 Xiao Lou who has the genes of humans, bugs and merpeople. In addition, he is a hunter and is hard to deal with because he knows everything about our team.”
Liu Qiao wondered, “Hunters? Why would a clone become a hunter?”
Xiao Lou said, “My guess is that hunters, like challengers, can travel through different secret room worlds. We can come to this world and be assigned different identities. Naturally, hunters can also be assigned identities. The more important the identity of the hunter, the more difficult it is for us to clear the instance.”
Shao Qingge was thoughtful. “For example, my adoptive mother in the 10th level was a hunter.”
Ye Qi remembered the scene of that rainy night and couldn’t help being frightened. “If I hadn’t reacted quickly enough with Chief Shao, his mother would’ve killed us at the last minute!”
Xiao Lou glanced at his teammates and spoke meaningfully, “Therefore, the hunter being assigned the identity of the ‘Xiao Lou clone’ will greatly increase the difficulty of us clearing this level. If we aren’t alert enough, we might fall into his trap.”
Yu Hanjiang suggested, “We can avoid him first and check the shipwreck.”
Xiao Lou agreed. “Yes, we will dive into the deep sea as soon as it is dawn.”
Liu Qiao swam around the bottle and asked, “Can you let me out? I am the princess of the merpeople so I’m familiar with the layout of the palace. Perhaps I can help.”
Xiao Lou looked at Yu Hanjiang. Yu Hanjiang nodded, went over and opened the lid of the bottle. He poured out the little mermaid using his fingers. At the same time, Gui Yuanzhang cancelled the effect of the Thumbelina card and Liu Qiao returned to her original size.
Her tail was the longest of all of them. It was more than two meters long and was silver-white. It glowed in the moonlight and was more beautiful than the heroine of the mermaid movie.
Lu Jiuchuan glanced at her tail. “Is this the tail of a merperson with royal blood?”
Gui Yuanzhang nodded. “The sign of royal blood is very obvious. The tail is silver. Moreover, the pure merpeople lineage is dwindling. The merpeople believe in the concept of species and believe that the silver tail is the noblest. Those who can inherit the throne must be a pure blood descendant with a silver tail.”
Xiao Lou thought for a moment. “The current merman prince is artificially raised with genetic technology. As long as the gene fragment that determines the color of the tail is extracted and fused with the cells of the 4th Xiao Lou, the grown 5th Xiao Lou will automatically have a silver tail symbolizing royal blood?”
Yu Hanjiang agreed. “Then find an excuse such as an ‘illegitimate son living outside’. The merpeople won’t doubt the identity of the prince. After all, he has the pure blood’s silver tail.”
Ye Qi looked at Xiao Lou. “Can we distinguish Professor Xiao from the clone using the color of the tail?”
Xiao Lou smiled. “My tail is the blue of ordinary people while his is the silver of royal blood. It can be distinguished. It is just that in the palace, the merpeople walk on legs and don’t reveal their tails. On the surface, it is still difficult to distinguish. Try not to separate when we act tomorrow, lest we be tricked by the clones.”
Gui Yuanzhang said cautiously, “If we get rid of the clones, we can naturally let Liu Qiao be the new ruler of the merpeople.”
Liu Qiao was stunned. “Me? A ruler?”
Ye Qi patted her on the shoulder. “Isn’t it a lot of pressure? Professor Xiao also has to inherit the throne. Both of you have very special identities in this level.”
Liu Qiao thought about it and seriously nodded. “Okay, I will cooperate with you.”
The time was 4:30 a.m. Xiao Lou said, “We will rest and depart at dawn.”
They had stayed up late until now and were really tired. Everyone lay on the reef and slept for a while.
Xiao Lou didn’t fall asleep. He lowered his head like he was thinking about something. After a long time, he secretly held Yu Hanjiang’s hand and wrote a few words on Yu Hanjiang’s palm. Yu Hanjiang raised an eyebrow and gave Xiao Lou a look that said ‘I understand’. He said warmly, “Take a rest.”
Xiao Lou closed his eyes and napped for half an hour.
Before long, a faint light appeared on the sea to the east. It was already dawn when Xiao Lou woke everyone up. “Get ready to act. There are still five hours left on the merpeople transformation time.”
The merpeople’s habit was to sleep during the day and go out at night. It was safer to act at dawn.
In order to facilitate underwater communication, Xiao Lou opened the Voice Headset card and gave everyone a headset. He pressed the bump of the earpiece and said, “Xiao Liu, please lead the way. I will be in the back with Group Leader Yu.”
Liu Qiao nodded and plunged into the sea. Her silver fishtail drew a beautiful arc in the air.
Gui Yuanzhang and Old Mo followed closely. Next, Chief Shao, Xiao Ye, Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci jumped into the sea one after another.
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou followed at the end. The group swam quickly toward the location of the sunken ship.
Once they adapted to the ‘legs into tail’ setting, they swam faster through the sea.
Ye Qi had been a landlubber for over 10 years. He was terrified every time he went into the water. He never thought that one day, he would be able to swim freely in the depths of the sea and even see the colorful fish there.
The deeper they dove into the sea, the more beautiful the scenery.
A magnificent picture of the seabed slowly unfolded in front of everyone. Coral of various colors were like a large flower bed on the seafloor, covering the entire sea area. Schools of fish moved through the coral. The colorful deep sea fish opened the door to another world.
This was the mysterious, quiet but dangerous sea floor.
There were cute little fish as well as ferocious giant whales. The sea was a place that had always followed the rule of ‘survival of the fittest’. Large fish ate small fish while small fish ate shrimp. The weak simply didn’t have the right to exist.
It was no wonder the merpeople would be interested in the Noah’s Ark project. If the merpeople genes were truly fused with human and bug genes, the merpeople would have the rare chance to become the overlord of the entire sea.
Liu Qiao said, “The sunken ship is just ahead.”
The group followed her. It didn’t take long before a military starship came into view.
The starship had good workmanship and was very high quality. Even if it was old, the metal shell of the starship had no obvious signs of rust. Lu Jiuchuan swung his tail to quickly move forward. He grabbed the hatch and took the lead in entering the cabin.
The others followed quickly.
Lu Jiuchuan walked into the control room. He looked at the bird-like mark on the console and spoke softly, “This starship should be the ‘Egret’ that was retired 25 years ago in the southern war zone. This bird-like insignia represents the egret.”
Tang Ci was slightly startled. He walked beside Lu Jiuchuan and looked at the complicated control console. “It is indeed the control mode from over 20 years ago. If I remember correctly, the Egret is…”
Lu Jiuchuan stated, “It is General Lin’s starship.”
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality