325 Tidal Pools

    The Problematic Team was split into two lifeboats. Some members were tasked with defence while others were responsible to row towards their destination. Gu Jun was one of the latter. Without any training, Gu Jun only knew how to apply brute force to the paddle. His muscle soon felt sore. Staring at the swamps by the shoreline, he wondered if Jack Wales had experienced the very same thing...

    Xue Ba, Lou Xiaoning and Malachite worked beside him. Wu Siyu, Uncle Dan and Peacock guarded the horizon with their guns. Deng Ximei sat silently in the middle of the group. Around them, more than 10 lifeboats proceeded to their destination in this prehistoric manner. The Shearwater Team strived to lead ahead. The male members threw everything into the rowing exercise. It was clear that they wanted to be the first team to land.

    "Let them be." Lou Xiaoning glared with her left eye. She groused, "That way they'll clear away the traps for us." Getting first was pointless in this kind of mission. The Problematic Team decided to bow out from the competition. Gu Jun was too troubled by his own problems to be distracted by it. For an instant, the other lifeboats and his team members faded away. The waves rocked the boat. The lines between dimensions blurred... The headache worsened and that brought with it an affirmation...

    "Everyone, be careful." He said hoarsely, "This is not a simple mission."

    "I feel... a mounting headache." Deng Ximei added. "There's the presence of supernatural power."

    That snapped the team into focus. Xue Ba communicated with the command central on the destroyer and shared the warning with the other teams. Despite their own goals, the other countries knew about Phecda's capability so they too raised their guard. Even the Shearwater's boat had slowed down.

    The destroyer responded with a report that the radar and satellite found nothing suspicious. The weather was perfectly fine and there was no sign of a storm. The Problematic Team knew that did not mean anything. If there was a dimensional rift, all logic could be thrown out the window. Some of the lifeboats soon stranded on the swamps. The members disembarked and moved forward on the exposed rocks. In actuality, Isla Salas y Gomez was a volcanic island comprised of two seismic rocks, one was 4 hectors to the west and the other 11 hectors to the east. Most of the teams landed on the eastern side because it was closer to the island's tallest cliff.

    Gu Jun's team stranded inside a tidal pool. They stopped rowing and prepared to land. Just as Gu Jun stepped out from the boat and his feet landed on the greyish-black stone, images flashed before his eyes. Staring into the tidal pool, he saw the brackish swamp filled with fish and animal bodies described in Jack Wales' files... The Maoi statues from Easter Island flashed before his eyes too... Dead bodies, the statues composed of dead bodies... It was some sort of ritual...

    The tidal pool, the horrid swamp, the statues, the carcasses, the two illusions overlapping over each other. Gu Jun pressed against his head.

    "This is strange..." He said darkly, "Shouldn't there be plenty of birds around this island?" Once Gu Jun pointed that out, a blind spot in his teammates' mind cleared. When they were rowing on the lifeboat earlier, they saw many birds circling above the island.

    "This island is also known as the sanctuary for Christmas Shearwaters." Xue Ba recited, "Because this place has the largest population of that particular species in the world. At its height, there will be more than 5000 of them here. The island is also inhabited by other species like the blue-faced booby and noddy tern...'

    "Captain Xue, that's not the point." Uncle Dan had to interrupt Xue Ba. "The point is where are all those birds now?"

    "Perhaps... we've already arrived at our destination." Gu Jun turned to Deng Ximei. "Ah Mei, what do you think?"

    "The dimension has shifted." Deng Ximei said, "Perhaps we're seeing illusion, or we're illusions ourselves."

    The other teams soon noted the anomalies too. Not only the birds, even the signal on their communicative devices weakened tremendously. There was serious signal blockage. With the weak signal, they only managed to maintain a flickering connection with the destroyer.

    The destroyer reported that they could still see the birds from the ship!

    They already encountered something so strange the moment they landed. Despite the varied membership of the group, the main decision maker was still Phecda and FBM. The leader of Shearwater, Bell Gant informed Gu Jun, "We'll request for the ship to send in more backup through helicopters."

    "No." Gu Jun frowned once he heard that. He denied it. "Our method of arrival has opened up the door. If the helicopters intervene, then the whole process will be disrupted. Suppose our enemy has the ability to freely open and close the door, then we won't have this chance ever again." Gu Jun did not want to argue with Bell Grant so he switched directly to communicate with the command central. Now was not the time for politics. "From now on, only people on the island can leave but people outside mustn't come in!"

    Wales did eventually escape from the island so departure should be possible but leaving the island meant ending everything and re-entering might not present them with the same opportunity again.

    Therefore, Gu Jun's suggestion was, "A part of us should evacuate when we still have the opening!"

    Did the enemy expect their arrival? Was this an accident or a trap? Gu Jun had no idea but he knew that any loss of the 172 elites would be a great blow to their respective country and overall global safety. Against the threat of supernatural forces, the resistance they could mount was small. They should not put all of their eggs in one basket. If all 172 of them perished, the world would be defenceless. However, Gu Jun's advice was not taken so seriously. It was viewed as a political manoeuvring to preserve the spoils of the mission for China.

    "Dirty-minded Jun." Wu Siyu patted Gu Jun's shoulder. She did not say anything but she didn't need to.

    "Listen to me!" Gu Jun shouted at the top of his voice and in English, "I do not wish to participate in meaningless argument and competition, what we need now is to unite. You can stay if you want to but please stick close to each other. Because the storm can come at any moment without warning. I've personally experienced it myself."

    His warning was somewhat taken. The leaders warned their members to stay in line. The command central took Gu Jun's advice and rescinded the order to deploy reinforcement. But they urged them to hurry because it would soon be time for high tide.

    The tallest cliff on the island was about 50 metres away from where they landed. To Gu Jun's knowledge, height figured greatly in performance of ritual so the leaders of the many teams, Gu Jun included, made that their destination. They moved carefully.


    Read about the latest state of this project here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/47226334
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