Li Qingzhao’s mark could be changed up to three times in a labyrinth.
Xiao Lou had just changed the location of the mark and followed the fake Chu Huaying to the trap room. Lu Jiuchuan pushed the clone into the trap and he sent his teammates back collectively to the marked point.
The practice of using the clones to play a ‘minesweeping’ game was very dangerous but it was the best way to distinguish between the real and fake laboratories.
The size of this labyrinth was beyond Xiao Lou’s imagination. If they looked for it step by step, they might not necessarily be able to find the real one. The emergence of the clones was equivalent to a multiple choice question in an exam. It gave them the opportunity to use the ‘exclusion method’.
It was all thanks to Chu Huaying’s crucial escape. This forced the hunters to send out clones to confuse them.
Xiao Lou carefully recalled the routes they had just taken.
The first clone took them to the west while the second reversed the direction to the east. There were too many forked roads so Xiao Lou decided to try true north next.
After passing through a section of the passage, another Chu Huaying appeared in the corridor. She was leaning against the wall to rest.
This time, Chu Huaying’s entire body was soaked in blue nutrient solution and her hair was covered with blue mucus. It was just like when everyone first found Liu Qiao in the merpeople labyrinth.
Ye Qi thought, ‘This time it should be the real one, right?’
She might be soaked in nutrients but she still looked as cold and proud as in his memory.
Chu Huaying walked quickly to Lu Jiuchuan and nodded. “Everyone, let’s get out of here first before talking.”
It was simple and easy, just like her personality.
Ye Qi just wanted to sigh with relief when Lu Jiuchuan looked back at Yu Hanjiang and gave his brother a ‘you understand’ look.
Ye Qi, “……”
Another fake? How on earth did Brother Jiu tell the difference?
Xiao Lou stepped forward and spoke in a low voice, “Please take us back. We have to destroy the cloning laboratory.”
Chu Huaying raised an eyebrow. She didn’t ask any further questions and turned to guide the way for everyone.
They walked for a while before finding a door to the north. Chu Huaying said, “This is the experiment…” Before she could finish, Lu Jiuchuan took out the Cold Ice Sword and directly slashed her body, freezing the clone into an ice sculpture!
Lu Jiuchuan turned back. “Withdraw!”
The mood of the people who returned to the starting point was complicated.
Ye Qi helplessly complained, “Why is this also a fake? I really don’t know Sister Huaying!”
Xiao Lou comforted him. “We just cleared another mine. There is no laboratory to the north either.”
East, west and north were all wrong. They hadn’t searched the south so Xiao Lou immediately turned around. “Go to the south!”
Everyone sped back along the path they had just followed. The labyrinth might curve around but they had walked all the paths they encountered. They returned to the original path much faster than when they explored the path in the beginning.
They followed the unmarked paths straight to the south.
Lu Jiuchuan took the lead with the Night Pearl while the others followed. They walked through more than a dozen forks in a row according to the markings.
They had just reached a three-way path when Lu Jiuchuan suddenly felt a strong wind against his ear. The speed was as fast as lightning! Lu Jiuchuan hurriedly paused and leaned back, dodging the opponent’s attack. The next moment, a pair of slender and pale hands like eagle claws attacked his face!
Lu Jiuchuan grabbed the opponent’s wrist but the person flashed behind Lu Jiuchuan like a flexibly snake. She swept her legs forward and almost tripped Lu Jiuchuan.
Fortunately, Lu Jiuchuan reacted quickly enough. He grabbed the wall next to him and swiftly turned sideways to avoid it.
In the narrow passage, it was difficult for the two people to exchange blows. They tried several tricks in succession but no one got the advantage. This person specifically attacked Lu Jiuchuan’s blind spot while Lu Jiuchuan couldn’t even see the other side’s face.
Under the illumination of the Night Pearl, Ye Qi quickly saw the shadow of the person fighting with Lu Jiuchuan on the wall. It was a woman with a long ponytail.
Ye Qi thought, ‘Quietly hiding and attacking as soon as we meet. This is definitely a fake!’
The next second, Lu Jiuchuan lowered his voice. “Huaying, it’s me.”
The other person immediately stopped. Everyone felt a gust of wind blowing around them before Chu Huaying’s solemn and indifferent face appeared in front of them. “Sorry, I needed to test you to see if you are real.”
Lu Jiuchuan’s lips raised in a smile as he looked at Yu Hanjiang. “This is Huaying.”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang, “…….”
The one who fought as soon as they met was the real one?
Ye Qi looked at Brother Jiu in a daze, not quite understanding his logic.
Lu Jiuchuan explained, “Huaying’s physical qualities have been enhanced by the cards, including her hearing, smell, vision, strength, speed, etc. She can sense strangers from far away. It is impossible for her to make obvious footsteps when escaping, nor would she happen to bump into people. The spider goddess is the most ghostly existence. She can only find us. We can’t find her.”
Everyone suddenly realized.
The sound of high-heeled footsteps when escaping was really stupid. The first Chu Huaying not only made obvious footsteps but also pretended to be injured. Lu Jiuchuan wanted to help and she didn’t respond. If it was the real Chu Huaying, she would push Lu Jiuchuan and refuse his help even if she was injured.
The second and third ones weren’t agile enough and they also took the initiative to pretend it was a ‘chance encounter’. Chu Huaying wouldn’t meet anyone. She could sense strangers and avoid them long before she was noticed by them.
Therefore, Lu Jiuchuan’s method of distinguishing between the real and fake Huaying was actually very simple.
The clone could copy Chu Huaying’s genes but they couldn’t copy her abilities that had been strengthened by the cards!
Looking into Chu Huaying’s calm eyes, Xiao Lou was finally relieved. He stepped forward and asked, “How did you escape?”
Chu Huaying answered, “I just heard your conversation. You are looking for the laboratory? I’ll take you there and explain as we walk.”
Xiao Lou nodded and followed her with the teammates.
Chu Huaying held down the voice earpiece. This was what Xiao Lou left to her the first time on the starship. Since the Voice Headset card was in Xiao Lou’s hand, the hunters only took Chu Huaying’s card pack. They didn’t find the miniature earpiece plugged deep into her ear.
The moment she pressed the button, her voice entered everyone’s ears at the same time. “Uncle Qin added drugs to the water I drank. He didn’t know I’m sensitive to smell. I smelled it and pretended to be unconscious to see what he wanted to do.”
Her expression was a bit ugly as she walked forward quickly while explaining to her teammates. “He took me to the bug planet and locked me in the underground labyrinth. Leaving only a few star thieves to guard me. My hearing is strengthened by the cards so if I listen carefully, I can hear any sounds within five kilometers.”
“I heard a strange man talking to the bug queen. He said, ‘I’ve set the procedure. They will die without a burial.’ Then the queen said, ‘Okay, I will trust you once more.’ I didn’t know what their conversation meant. After midnight, I put on my invisibility cloak and went out looking for clues, only to almost get lost in the labyrinth.”
“During this period, I would go out at midnight and use the 30 minutes of invisibility cloak to move through the labyrinth and familiarize myself with it as much as possible. This labyrinth is very similar to a cobweb structure. There are a total of four laboratories, three of which I haven’t been in. They should be fake. The remaining one should be real. Last night, I saw a blond man enter the laboratory. I didn’t dare follow him inside but I heard strange things from outside…”
Chu Huaying paused and took a deep breath before continuing, “They are mass-producing clones and have also implanted smart chips in the brains of the clones. With those smart chips they can not only control the action of the clones but also the language they’re using. Those clones are called version 3.0.”
A chill went down Xiao Lou’s spine when he heard this. “Sure enough, this lunatic is transforming the clones!”
Version 1.0 was the integration of humans and bugs but they only had the ability to heal themselves. Version 2.0 was the integration of humans, bugs and deep sea merpeople. Not only did they have the ability to heal themselves but they could grow tails and survive in the sea.
What were the improvements in version 3.0?
Ye Qi speculated, “Could it be that version 3.0 has the jumping and climbing abilities of the bugs? In addition, there is a smart chip implanted in their brains so they will completely listen to the commands of their master. They can self-heal, aren’t afraid of water and their jumping and climbing ability are equally excellent. Aren’t they human-shaped weapons?”
Chu Huaying nodded. “That’s right. This bug base has a large underground factory that is producing clones on an assembly line. All clones receive a craniotomy as soon as they are taken out of the petri dish… strictly speaking, it isn’t surgery. The clones can heal themselves so they let the bugs directly implant the smart chips into the clones’ brains. The self-healing ability of the clones will automatically repair the brain tissue. These chips grow firmly in the brain and can’t be taken out using medical means.”
Xiao Lou couldn’t believe it. “A streamlined production and using chips to control all the clones? Who will control them?”
Chu Huaying had a serious expression. “This time, they aren’t in the control of the bug queen. The brain terminal for the chips is in the hands of that man. I heard Uncle Qin call him Captain. He is probably the previous captain of the star thieves who was captured in the past!”
Xiao Lou, “……”
As expected, they shouldn’t look down on Chu Huaying. She wasn’t actually captured by Uncle Qin but just pretended to be caught. After taking this risk, she came to the secret base of the bugs and found a very crucial clue.
During the days when everyone was investigating the merpeople on Azure Planet, Chu Huaying used the 30 minute duration of the invisibility cloak to investigate every night after midnight. She relied on her strong flexibility and enhanced senses to overhear a lot of conversations. Thus, she analyzed that there was a clone laboratory in the cave.
Xiao Lou asked worriedly, “Where is the captain?”
“He left not long ago. He took a group of clones with him and I don’t know where he has gone. He left the underground factory for the bug queen to supervise. I just escaped because I found there were samples of me among the produced clones. I was afraid you would be deceived.”
Just then, Chu Huaying’s expression changed. “No, the bugs have found us!”
The south was the real laboratory and there were many high level bugs stationed there.
Chu Huaying used the invisibility cloak to hide from the bugs when she escaped. Now 30 minutes had passed and the invisibility cloak had lost its effect. In addition, she brought a group of people with her. The high level bugs quickly found them with their keen sense of smell.
Xiao Lou hurriedly ordered, “Xiao Ye, be ready to control the field!”
Ye Qi immediately took out the guitar and played a song on the guitar.
A large number of bugs heard the sound of the guitar as soon as they turned the corner and they fell asleep at the same time.
Xiao Lou exclaimed, “Huaying, seize this time and quickly take us to the laboratory!”
Chu Huaying nodded and walked forward quickly. Lu Jiuchuan used Senior Gui’s brush to draw a wind path at their feet. The speed of the group simultaneously increased and they came to the edge of Ye Qi’s control range in an instant.
There were countless bugs crawling around outside the range!
Ye Qi felt numb when he saw this scene. He immediately took out the guzheng and used ‘Autumn Moon Over Han Palace’!
The bugs in this area were affected by the gentle guzheng music. They weren’t allowed to attack and could only crawl on the walls anxiously. Shao Qingge hugged Ye Qi’s waist as he moved forward. Ye Qi played the guzheng while struggling to pass through the passage filled with bugs.
Fortunately, the passages in the south were relatively spacious. Otherwise, they might not be able to make it through once it was filled with bugs.
After reaching the edge of the control range, Ye Qi took out the suona.
This time, none of the teammates had any opinion about the suona.
Ye Qi took a deep breath and blew a loud sound.
The king of musical instruments was really extraordinary. The moment the sound of the suona came out, it plunged the surrounding bugs into chaos. Xiao Lou and the others were also dizzy from the noise and wanted to cover their ears.
Ye Qi’s lung capacity was quite large. The control time was related to the suona playing time. He blew for half a minute with one breath until his face turned red. Ye Qi hadn’t specifically learned how to play the suona so the sound was particularly harsh. Everyone felt like they were attending a funeral. Xiao Lou and the others accelerated their speed like they were being chased by wolves…
Some of it could probably be credited to Ye Qi’s suona.
Shao Qingge watched Ye Qi work hard to control the field and tightened his arms, lest Ye Qi fell behind and got overwhelmed by bugs.
There were more and more bugs around them but the bugs couldn’t get close with Ye Qi controlling the field.
Xiao Lou saw that all the instrument card skills were about to enter the cooldown and hurriedly asked, “Huaying, how far?”
“We’re almost there!”
Ye Qi felt like he was about to collapse. After playing the suona non-stop for half a minute, he took out the piano.
The group of bugs aimed their claws at Ye Qi but Ye Qi started to play the piano with a grim expression.
This piano had a feature. All enemies within 100 meters couldn’t move while all teammates could move but they couldn’t use cards.
Ye Qi played the piano surrounded by bugs and confined a large number of them within 100 meters, just to buy time for his teammates to escape the danger.
He ordered, “Everyone, go!”
100 meters for 10 minutes. This was all he could do.
Xiao Lou looked at Ye Qi surrounded by bugs and decisively said, “Xiao Ye, hold on. I will pull you to the Peach Blossom Spring later!”
The team members disappeared quickly but Shao Qingge stayed.
Ye Qi looked at the man beside him in a stunned manner. “Why didn’t you go?”
Shao Qingge smiled as he stood beside Ye Qi. He gently held Ye Qi’s shoulder and said softly, “How boring is it to play the piano for a bunch of bugs? I’ll stay with you. Ye Qi, close your eyes and just play for me.”
Ye Qi was actually very panicked about being surrounded by a bunch of bugs staring at him with blood-red eyes.
If his piano playing was interrupted or he played the wrong note, he would instantly be submerged in a sea of bugs!
Now that he heard Shao Qingge’s words, Ye Qi suddenly calmed down.
He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. He devoted himself to the music he was playing. This was his favorite piano piece and he had already memorized the score. Slender fingers pressed the keys and his fingers played a soft melody. He seemed to see the blue sky, white clouds and the sea. He played the piano on the beach. His audience was only one person, Shao Qingge.
Seeing Ye Qi start to play in a focused manner, Shao Qingge smiled slightly but he didn’t remove his hand from the young man’s shoulder.
The surrounding bugs, “?????”
All the bugs first experienced the guitar and guqin. Then they were confused by the piercing suona. Now they couldn’t move collectively. They could only stay still and watch as Ye Qi played the piano with his eyes closed in an intoxicated manner.
The bugs were collectively stunned.
This person, did you come to our bug planet to play a concert?
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality