Cui Zuojing tried a few times but failed to start. He said, “This won’t do. This dagger is too thick, making it very easy to cut the protective fabric. Does anyone have anything thinner?”
Everyone looked around on their bodies. Cui Zuojing was accustomed to carrying some blank paper on him, which made for small, convenient weapons. However, he’d accompanied Dong Zheng into the box through the prisoner’s space. When he entered, he could take nothing else except for his clothes. Even the Tang Sword had to be brought in by Dong Zheng.
Cui Zuojing frowned and looked at the spider silk. Suddenly, he had an idea. “Que’er, give me a strand of your hair.”
Wang Que was surprised. She took off her helmet, loosened her hairband, and pulled out a strand of hair.
“I took a shower before I came.”
Cui Zuojing said, “No big deal.”
The top of the strand of hair was newly grown black while the slightly curled lower half was dyed a flaxen color. Cui Zuojing folded it in half and twisted it the two strands together, making it sturdier so that it would not break as soon as force was applied.
He tugged at both ends of the hair, found a good angle, pressed down on the surface of Allen’s glove, and began to cut.
Everyone watched attentively, not daring to make a sound, for fear that it would affect Cui Zuojing’s performance. Dong Zheng thought for a moment. In the center of the kernel, he touched Arabidopsis’ leaves, trying to lend him some of his abilities as he’d done when he was fighting against Ziz.
Ten seconds later, the young man’s tense body suddenly relaxed. He slapped Allen’s hand and the spider silk with the metal part attached to it fell to the ground with a thin layer of protective fabric glued to it.
As the hair turned into powder, Cui Zuojing sighed in relief. He said, a bit exhausted, “Not bad.”
This kind of delicate work was something that he was never very good at. This required a great deal of focus even as he stretched Slayer’s power to the extreme.
It was very tiring.
Allen was finally free. He hurriedly stepped away from the spider silk on the ground. Meanwhile, Cui Zuojing blew off the hair powder on his hand, put his gloves back on, and said, “I thinned the sticky area. This protective fabric is made out of special material. I don’t know what the consequences will be after thinning it. But, it should definitely be easier to damage than other places. You need to pay attention to it so that it doesn’t break open.”
Allen repeatedly agreed.
Now that they’d gotten rid of their troubles to an extent, they no longer wasted time and quickly moved on.
This underground drainage system connected the entire city. Because it was surrounded by thick, frozen soil and ice caps, it was difficult for insects to enter and exit. As a result, there were almost no insects in the sewer. The sewage that was once stored in the drainage pipe had long frozen over and had turned into an extremely hard gray-black ground.
The scarce plant environment and underground storage of 3000 years had made the oxygen content within the drainage system so low that it was almost non-existent. Everyone kept their helmet firmly on. There were more than 60 hours left before the end of the box. However, their oxygen system could only sustain them for 44 hours. It was unknown when they could find more and so, in order to save oxygen, no one spoke unless necessary.
The urban drainage system in 2472 was more complicated and systematic than what Dong Zheng and the others were familiar with. The pipes were five to six meters wide, making it quite easy for sports cars to drive through.
The severe cold had frozen the pipelines and the surrounding land into a single body, meaning that ice caps tens of meters thick also blocked off the original entrance and exit. Along the way, they found countless manhole covers and sewer openings, all of which were frozen solid.
The most serious problem they faced at present was how to get out of here. The information the terminal from the master control room had given them also included the city’s underground drainage system. Because of their “If there’s information, why note it down” mentality, Dong Zheng and Lin Hangahi both also spent a little bit of time studying it.
Dong Zheng said, “We’re now walking towards the city center.”
Cui Zuojing said, “That direction is good. The surface should be safer there. It’s just that, once we get there, we’ll need to figure out how to get out.”
Lin Hangzhi said, “Once we get there, we’ll find a way. The box gave us a safe house. It’s impossible for it to use this to pit us.”
Cui Zuojing smiled and said, “That’s hard to say.”
Along the way, Cui Zuojing saw the corpses of many small insects. Most of them must have hid in the drainage system at the beginning of the ice age. As the temperature gradually dropped, they froze to death inside and, due to the low temperature, could not rot. As a result, they were memorialized in ice, forming a peculiar shape the color of amber.
As they approached the city’s center, the drainage system became more complicated. There were many upward pipelines connected to the main water pipe. They walked a few kilometers until Dong Zheng was certain that the top of their heads was the former urban city.
Dong Zheng said, “Let’s find a way out.”
Wang Que watched as everyone spread out and began to search. She took a deep breath and tried to sense the voice of the insects through the Fungus Bell.
There were almost no live insects in the drainage system, allowing Wang Que’s mind to temporarily quiet down. She followed the direction of the pipe all the way forward. Through the thick ice and frozen soil, few insects could communicate with her.
She went further and further and suddenly felt a faint touch.
Surprised, she immediately ran forward until the sensation became clearer and clearer, as if the creature that was interacting with her was getting closer and closer.
Dong Linhai noticed that Wang Que had suddenly ran away. He stretched out his hand, wanting to stop her. He looked back at Cui Zuojing and others, all of whom were still searching, and finally ran after her.
Wang Que ran for more than 300 meters, then she made a turn and slowly came to a stop.
The ground was very slippery. Dong Linhai cautiously followed after her and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“It should be possible to go out from this cover.” Wang Que pointed to a vertical passage above her head. A vertical ladder was installed on the wall along the shaft, leading directly to the top cover.
Dong Linhai looked up and the searchlight on his helmet illuminated the situation above. At this time, Cui Zuojing’s voice came from their earphones, “Where are you guys?”
Dong Linhai said, “Qui’er said she might have found a place to go out.”
Wang Que added, “I’m not sure, but insect voices were clearest here. It is very likely that there’s only a small amount of snow and ice on top of it.”
Soon, everyone came over. Dong Zheng said, “Let’s go up and take a look.”
The shaft was about six meters long. Cui Zuojing tried to climb down the ladder. Maybe it was because it had been exposed to water before, but the ladder was knotted with a thick layer of ice for who knew how long. It was extremely sturdy. “I’ll go up and see.”
Cui Zuojing climbed to the top of the vertical ladder, took out the Tang Sword and jabbed it along the vertical seam of the drainage cover. The strengthened Tang Sword was slowly inserted about 40 to 50 centimeters into the ice layer. The resistance against his hand loosened as the Tang Sword pierced through the ice.
“It’s okay. It’s pretty thin.” Cui Zuojing threw the sword down to Dong Zheng and reached out his hand to Dong Linhai. “Give me the flamethrower. I’ll melt the ice.”
Dong Linhai handed the flamethrower to him. Cui Zuojing found a good position and adjusted the temperature of the flamethrower to the lowest level. He had to make sure that, while melting the layer of ice around the drainage cover, the temperature wouldn’t also melt the ice keeping the vertical ladder in place. Otherwise, even if they were able to successfully open a passage, they wouldn’t be able to climb up.
As the flames burst out, the burning ice sheet made a crackling sound and began to melt into water, raining down on the people below.
After melting through the layer of ice that had sealed the cover close, Cui Zuojing broke off the cover that had become extremely fragile due to being tempered with heat and cold. The temperature wasn’t set high so it had taken nearly five minutes to completely melt through the ice layer.
Faint light penetrated in.
Cui Zuojing breathed a sigh of relief, wiped away the melted water on his helmet, and crawled out first.
His gloves pressed on the ground and immediately caused a group of bugs that had gathered there to crawl away in panic.
The residual warmth had made the vertical ladder a little loose. Allen, who was the heaviest, barely managed to climb up with Dong Zheng’s help. The moment he stood on the ground, he forgot to pay attention and ended trampling some bugs underfoot, leaving a pool of dark green mucus stuck to the soles of his shoes.
Cui Zuojing looked around for a while. This seemed to be a warehouse inside a building. There was a small, broken gap in the corner of the roof, where a small amount of wind and snow drifted in and accumulated over time into a thin layer of ice.
There were many containers in the warehouse. There was probably nothing in them, or they were stocked with survival materials that might be needed once the ice age finally ended.
Cui Zuojing didn’t open the containers to see; there was no need to waste time.
There were small insects of various shapes hiding in the corner. The warehouse’s metal gate was firmly closed, and Dong Linhai had to spray it with the flamethrower. After years of freezing under low temperature, it was suddenly washed with heat, causing it to easily open with just a kick.
Dong Linhai walked out of the warehouse and found himself in a corridor with the windows covered by a thick layer of ice. Nothing could be seen from outside.
Dong Zheng walked out behind him and said, “This should be a large building.”
They turned around, walked out of the corridor, and entered a supermarket. The rows upon rows of shelves were empty. They’d been cleared out after the chosen people had migrated to the outside galaxy. Understanding that the end was coming and knowing that even if they entered the hibernation pods, they might not wake up once the ice age ended, the law and order of society began to collapse in the few days they had left.
They did many things that they never dared to do because of the morality of society and celebrated one last carnival before the end.
Lin Hangzhi couldn’t help but lament, “They didn’t even leave us a bit of supplies, ah. Is this really a three stars box?”
The boxes that they’d entered the past few days were all three to four stars in terms of general difficulties. Dong Zheng frowned slightly and shook his head. “It doesn’t look like it.”
“There’s no use worrying about this now. It’s better to think about how to clear customs.” Cui Zuojing poked Dong Zheng and asked, “How much time is left?”
Dong Zheng glanced at the upper left corner. “60 hours. Right now, we should be in the city center, which is already halfway through our journey. Everyone can take a break now.”
Dong Linhai and Allen left together to see if they could find any remaining good. Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing took Wang Que along and went to the door of the supermarket.
Cui Zuojing lifted the vending machine on the side and used it to smash open the frozen glass door.
The outside world was suddenly exposed to their eyes.
The windy snowfall had stopped, and even though the sun had sunk below the horizon, the scenery in front of them was not dark at all. There were little bits of light emitting from the tail of the bugs that covered a large majority of the building walls and ground, illuminating them. Huge bubble-shaped creatures hung suspended in the air, tentacles waving. Strangely shaped creatures clung the wreckage of tall buildings, and hundred-meters-long insects crawled along the snow.
This once-human city had now become a Zerg world.