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260 Unpleasant Memories

    "You are wasting your time on these unnecessary tasks while Princess Scarlet Leila De Rose is suffering cruel torture," Kiba said in a high voice. His tone and expression were filled with anger, frustration, and disbelief at the 'betrayal' of the old snake.

    In the sky, the snake was shocked out of wits. Even though its present body was just a projection, and that too intangible and incomplete due to limitations of Count Viper, the snake started sweating heavily.

    A bone-numbing chill passed throughout its real body in the core region of the forest. Its breathing turned rugged while its eyes almost popped out of the sockets.

    This human truly knows about the master!

    The snake was terrified. Earlier, it was not sure but now the human has spoken the Empreyean's name.

    Does that mean she is alive?!

    Wait.

    She is suffering torture?!

    How is that even possible?!

    The snake knew very well the true strength of her master. Just her one gaze could destroy the foundation of this blue planet.

    But the words of the human shouldn't be false, right? His aura contains the power of Cosmic and he is also infected by Genesis. Not to mention his attitude from the start to now. He has been outspoken and rash with an arrogance that knew no bound.

    So he has to be speaking the truth!

    When the snake thought of this, its pupils turned cold. Who dares torture the esteemed master?!

    Its body could not leave the core region of Desolate Blood Forest but it swore to do everything within its power to free her master and punish those who dared harm her.

    Kiba continued to maintain the angry expression but in his heart, he was chuckling. Only he and Claudia knew the master of the snake was safe and resting below his house.

    As for someone torturing her... That was impossible. He knew it better than anyone. Even he didn't dare visit the shrine -Section IV - he has built for her without enough preparations. Just the nonexistent aura from her coffin has made the shrine a land of death.

    Months ago, during his conflict with Akshobhya, he has thought of using Section IV to destroy that monk. Of course, his plans changed and he defeated Akshobhya on his own, but just the fact that he had such confidence on Section IV could tell how powerful Scarlet Leila De Rose was.

    Then there were the recent events where Cosmic Emperor visited the shrine. Claudia was frightened by the possibility of opening the shrine for a long time. She knew if her aura leaked outside the house, then the entire city might be exterminated.

    In this entire world, the only person Kiba truly feared was her. The only point of relief for him was that she was in an eternal slumber.

    "Who dares harm my master?!" The snake loudly asked. Its voice thundered in the forest and resulted in strong winds that swept out giant trees from their roots.

    On the ground, Viper was shocked. Why is the esteemed being wasting time in a discussion instead of killing Kiba?!

    He was already on the verge of collapse due to exhaustion. He was afraid he wouldn't be able to continue playing flute if this goes on for any longer.

    "Why do you pretend to care now?" Kiba angrily continued without waiting for a reply. "What were you doing when the world government started performing cruel experiments on her?!"

    The snake became furious by the words.

    The master was being used as a guinea pig by the humans?!

    "Even now, those insane scientists in Holy City extract her blood every day for research under the orders of World Council," Kiba's eyes were red as he continued. "But what are you doing?! Involving in other business instead of helping your master! Shame on you!"

    Kiba's angry voice roared in the sky night. His expression was filled with righteous fury as he questioned the snake.

    Usually, his award-worthy acting skills were used to seduce women but from time to time, they benefitted him in some miscellaneous tasks as well.

    From the enormous space gate, the mouth of the snake continued to stretch out. It was silent for it didn't know how to counter the allegations of the human.

    Even the snake felt angry on itself for being so ignorant. Sure it was confined to the core region but it knew about the happenings in the world. Every two years, when the core region opened up, hundreds of humans would enter. From them, it has learned about the world.

    Obviously, the snake knew those humans wouldn't know or even share the true secrets of the human race.

    But this was no justification.

    The snake then thought of Holy City. From what it knew, the city was located in the State of Avalon and it served as the capital of the territory ruled by World Government. The state of Avalon was the power center of the world and it wouldn't be wrong to say it was the strongest habitat of the human race.

    "People from the nine families would be entering the core region when it opens up," The snake thought. "They would suffer the wrath for the actions of their lords."

    The snake lowered its head and gazed at Kiba.

    "I was not truly aware of the events you mentioned," The snake said in a low voice. "But how do you know about her and my role as her slave?"

    "Well, it's a long story," Kiba answered honestly, his voice filled with bitterness. "Something I would rather not recall."

    He didn't want to, but unconsciously some unpleasant memories resurfaced.

    *-*-*-*-*

    Around 4.5 years ago:

    Delta City.

    The BSE79 Meteorite was located in the easternmost point of the city. It spanned for a little over 50 sq. miles.

    The outer surface of the meteorite was as dark as ink, filled with occasional holes from which fumes emitted out. Decades ago, the government extracted every mineral resources in the meteorite. After confirmation by experts, the government reached a conclusion that the meteorite has no more importance. From then on, it started serving as a tourist spot, bringing people from far and near.

    Every year, thousands of tourists would explore the meteorite, marveling at the wonder from a world beyond their own.

    What the masses or even the government didn't know was that this meteorite was far too special. The part they explored could not even be described as 1% even though they strangely felt they have explored every corner of the meteorite.

    Inside the vital zone.

    Zed was sitting against a glass wall. The wall showed no sign of beginning or an end, covered with decorative runes.

    The floor was white but it was stained with thick blood paste. Mechanical hands were lying on the floor, drenched in blood.

    Zed was clad in an advanced hazmat suit. The suit was such that it could even survive against a nuclear blast but currently, it was shredded in pieces.

    His face was pale while his eyes were filled with terror. He wiped the cold sweat from his face before looking at his surrounding.

    "Huff."

    He regretted his decision instantly as he threw up what little lunch he was served with other slum dwellers.

    "Slum insect, stand up." A cold, disdainful voice called out from some hundred meters ahead. "Unlike you worthless bunch, my time is precious."

    Zed took a deep breath before raising his head and looking ahead. The owner of the voice was covered in a transparent liquid-like substance.

    He has shoulder length white hair, his face filled with wrinkles. He was wearing thick glasses which showed his cold, brown eyes.

    This man was none other than Castor Damon.

    Suddenly, behind him, a giant robot appeared out of nowhere. The robot punched out, destructive ripples cascading outwards like a volcano.

    With lightning speed, he evaded by stepping towards the right. He twisted his body and retaliated by sending a palm crashing down on the back of the robot.

    Substance-like waves erupted from his palm. With a shrill keening sound, the waves penetrated the body of the robot and it started malfunctioning, emitting a buzzing sound.

    Castor Damon then adjusted his glasses before shaking his hand. He was a rank 9 scientist from the world government.

    His influence and authority were no less than a councilman from the world council.  After all, in the age of evolution, genetic research was the most explored field. Science was the only way by which one can not only get stronger but also seek everlasting youth and even immortality.

    On Earth, there was no one who could match Castor Damon when it came to genetics or the meteorites from the foreign world. He has spent his entire life dedicated to research on these two fields. After years of studying and understanding an alien language, he reached a conclusion that BSE79 was far too special.

    He didn't share his foundings with others in the government. He was afraid the old fools in the council would steal the fruits of his hard work so he schemed to extract the treasures himself. To further boost his chances, he collaborated with the revolutionaries before arriving in Delta City.

    Of course, for successful exploration of such a dangerous meteorite, he knew he needed lives he could throw without batting an eye. With his influence, he could easily gather an army of volunteers but he didn't dare. After all, the government spies were observing his activities. To avoid suspicion, he decided to use slum dwellers. Unlike the cities, the slums were rather forsaken by the government. No one cared what truly happened to those who lived in the slums. They have no biometric identities or such so there was no danger involved.

    After five long days, Castor Damon has reached this part of the meteorite. Hundreds have died and as of now, only two remained: Him and Zed.

    Castor Damon was actually surprised by Zed's performance. He was a few months short of 18 and his powers could at best be described as Level I. Yet he survived when those stronger and older than him died in painful ways.

    Castor Damon has observed Zed so he understood how he actually lived. He was not strong so he actually relied on wits. He schemed and sometimes he even played dead by taking advantage of others corpses.

    Regardless, Castor Damon didn't care. Slyness was useless in front of absolute strength.

    "Yes, sir." Zed rose to his feet with great efforts. In his life so far, he has learned one thing - The weak and poor don't get right to complain. They can only survive by lowering their heads and following the orders of those above them.

    This was not a life anyone wanted to live but that was what they had. There were times when Zed wanted to escape this life by taking the coward's way out.

    Whenever such thoughts occupied his mind, he would remember what Veronica taught him years ago.

    "To dream is to hope."

    He muttered the words she spoke to give him a reason to live.

    He recalled he still has not eaten any ice cream from Misty Ice Cream House so how could he give up yet?

    He wanted to survive, build a home in the city and live a life where he didn't have to worry about daily needs. And if it was possible, fulfill his dream of robbing the men of their most treasured possession:  women.

    If living for such a time meant respecting a man like Castor Damon, he didn't mind. After all, only a fool would take stupid actions when chances are not in favor.

    So Zed continued to bid his time. Just like the slums, he considered the meteorite as another part of the world where strong fed on the weak.

    He would do whatever it takes to survive, no matter what others taught of his action. Besides, he knew he has no reason to feel bad. At least he was still living and has skin on his bones, unlike the poor skeletons in graves.

    "Let's go."

    Castor Damon commanded as he proceeded ahead. Zed nodded and followed from behind. In the five days, his horizons have expanded. In the slums, there were no formal education much less lessons on basic science.

    Before arriving here, he didn't even know what was a planet. Now, he knew things which even the educated masses didn't.

    He followed a pearl of simple wisdom to expand his knowledge:  The fool chatters while the wise man listens.

    As for how he survived, Castor Damon was only partially right on his guess. The true reason was his other ability - his sixth sense by which he could sense danger ahead.

    His body was tickling with a numbing sensation from the last five days but after arriving in the vital region, his skin was crawling.

    Zed shook his head to clear his thoughts. He knew it better than anyone he couldn't afford to be distracted.

    Just then, his face turned yellowish pale and he staggered. Castor Damon noticed his movement so he turned around and flicked a blue pill to him.

    Zed grasped the pill and hurriedly consumed it. In no time, his face regained its color.

    "Phew~" Zed breath out in relief. Just now, he suffered from the poison he and others consumed before they were brought to BSE79.

    If they didn't take the antidote pill from time to time, then they would die in a tragic manner. This served as enough motivation for everyone to do their best and have no thoughts of betrayal.

    Zed and Castor Damon continued their journey. After an hour of walking, they arrived in a corridor filled with heavy wirings and doors.

    The ventilation system along with the oxygen in the area made Castor Damon believe this part of the meteorite was actually a spaceship.

    "Wonderful."

    Castor Damon marveled at the futuristic design of the control panels. They were far more advanced than the current tech of humanity.

    If others were here, then they would have no idea on how to operate the control panels. After all, they were in a language unknown to humanity. But Castor Damon was a rare exception since he has done detailed research on the communication aspect of the alien world.

    Soon, a large door opened up, letting out white gas.

    As soon as the door opened up, Zed started trembling, his senses warning him of a crisis far dangerous than he has faced ever before.

    He gulped down and followed Castor Damon inside after which the door closed up.

    The room was actually an enormous hall filled with hundreds of hypersleep chambers. The chambers were made of glass so those resting in them were visible.

    Zed could not identify a single race. Some people in the chambers had an octopus-like body while some had humanoid structure but grotesque. There were even a few which were in gel-like form.

    Castor Damon's eyes flashed brightly at the sight. For a scientist like him, the hypersleep chambers were no less than a lottery.

    He controlled his emotions and stepped ahead of a virtual console system. He started studying the information on the console.

    Zed, in the meantime, looked around carefully. He wanted to see if there was a way out in case of emergencies.

    His entire body was numbing and he knew there was some danger here. He didn't think even Castor Damon could handle it much less him.

    He slowly checked each hypersleep chamber and their structure. He observed the tubes, the wires, the crystalline liquid... he checked everything. He wanted to know anything that could help him in whatever the upcoming danger was.

    Just then, Zed noticed a hole behind a hyper chamber. After confirming Castor Damon's attention was still on the console, he stepped to check the hole on the floor. The diameter of the hole was enough for his thin body to enter but not for a healthy adult.

    He most likely thought the hole was leading to some duct or to another sector.  He didn't know much, but he was sure that his sense of danger faded after he arrived near the hole.

    Zed then continued checking the hall to know more details. After all, he just couldn't leave just because he wanted to.

    "Wait! Castor Damon knows how to operate this area so there should be no real crisis...yet my sense of danger is tingling."

    His eyes flickered with understanding.

    Crisis could be created! Even an insect could be actually responsible for a famine that could kill thousands!

    "Slum insect... Never thought this insult would give me such a good idea."

    Zed suppressed a smile before looking at Castor Damon.

    "Be careful whose toes you step on today because they might be connected to the foot that kicks your ass tomorrow."
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