Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 506
– היי, אני לא נלחם רק הולך בסדר תודה אני לא נלחם רק. (Adras No. 1818 manufactured in the Concretus Calander year 77,282,228, confirmed / Katomizer Operational Authorization No. 218, confirmation complete)
A dry mechanical sound reverberated from the device.
A ‘number’ panel rose out of the joint-less trapezoidal protrusion.
“Humans say ‘What a relief!’ in situations like this, right?”
Kamdoong sighed in relief while recalling the Eastern Swordsman’s memories. On the very last day of the age of twilight, Adras No. 1818 – Kamdoong – was scheduled to be presented to the research district’s Head of Research as their new body.
An Adras received various modifications before the soul of a Concretus was implanted in it. The authorization number 218 sealed into Kamdoong was the necessary authority to use the Katomizer.
Rumbling sounds signaled something breaking apart.
Eventually, the ceiling gave way and began coming down. The height of the Hollow Earth’s ceiling was between four to six kilometers high. The kinetic energy generated by objects weighing millions of tons falling from so high up rivaled that of a nuke.
A loud boom resounded.
The heavens were crumbling while the earth overturned. That was not a hyperbole, but an actual calamitous event of world-ending proportions.
Fragmented matter dozens of tons heavy rained down at the speed of sound while the bedrock undulated like waves.
The nuclear fusion reactor followed the autonomous defense protocol and increased the level of its output. The external barrier defending the Katomizer became one level tougher.
Boulders ranging in from the size of sand grains to a handball stadium began pounding on the barrier’s surface. It withstood all the impact forces while undulating like the surface of the ocean.
A human would have become a nervous wreck in this urgent situation, but Kamdoong was an Adras, not a human. It did not know the emotion of fear. All the emotions it had acquired were based on Mu Ssang’s consciousness. And that man did not hold any emotion called fear.
Whether the world was flipping upside down or not, Kamdoong did not care and solely focused itself on entering the data necessary to teleport through space.
Even though Kamdoong did not understand the principles behind the Katomizer’s operation, it still knew that following the instructions included in the danger response manual would do the trick. Kind of like how Miss Kim, a lethal weapon on the roads, could still drive around without issue despite not knowing anything about how a car operates.
Kamdoong finished entering various vector data such as the coordinates and the teleportation speed.
The moment it tapped a button equivalent to the ‘Enter’ key, the massive stereobate began rumbling loudly. The secondary nuclear fusion reactor had come online as well.
A ‘circle’ began vigorously spinning diagonally as well as horizontally and vertically.
An undulating energy tunnel began pushing out of the spinning circle.
“Oh, what an amazing device this is!” Kamdoong praised it while raising its front paw. To think that a system buried deep underground for the past 150 million years would still be operational!
The fruit of the scientific know-how left behind by the Concretus people was indeed amazing. Even if the underground environment was not exactly prone to weather-induced decay or corrosion, 150 millions years was still a long-enough time to turn sand into rock and rock into a diamond.
Since Kamdoong was a rational creature, it naturally became awestruck by this revelation.
“It’s time to leave! Mister Eastern Swordsman, I’m coming!”
Kamdoong double-checked the coordinates it entered then stepped inside the energy tunnel.
Rumbling sounds surrounded it.
The nuclear fusion reactor’s output increased even higher.
The Hollow Earth was bathed in the rainbow of light right afterwards.
Kamdoong vanished from the spot.
A single streak of pure-yellow light shot up from the bottom of Lake Maydanki where all the water had evaporated. This streak of light quickly shot south at fifty times the speed of sound.
The steak of light was supposed to revert back to solid matter somewhere in the Rub’ al Khali desert, but it continued to travel south.
A loud “boom” resounded as the pillar supporting the underground cavity’s ceiling finally gave way and crashed. The underground space became distorted and twisted. It looked similar to a twisted heap of washed clothes after water is wrung out of it. A stratum several kilometers thick caved in completely. The Katomizer, with its defensive barrier now destroyed, was mercilessly crushed to oblivion.
The Hollow Earth that had withstood the test of time vanished in the blink of history’s eyes. Even the rich diamond vein Mu Ssang was itching for a chance to mine disappeared without a single trace.
The streak of light flying at Mach 50 crashed straight into a frozen mountain peak standing tall at an altitude of over 3,000 meters. This mountain was located in the eastern part of the Antarctic.
The light managed to tunnel through a shockingly deep cavern in the frozen ice as tough as hardened boulder. A rainbow of colors madly swirled about at the end of the cavern.
The vortex of light spat out a black panther before vanishing without a trace.
Something had gone terribly wrong here. The coordinates were set at the skies of the Rub’ al Khali desert, so why did it change to somewhere near the South Pole? It all boiled down to Kamdoong failing to enter the correct values.
Humans had a saying – a decade is enough to change any landscape. Even to a Concretus capable of living for 700 to 1000 years, 150 million years was unfathomably long. The Katomizer correctly did its job, but the landscape had changed far, far too much in the ensuing years.
Earth experienced several cataclysmic changes during its lengthy history. Its magnetic fields had changed greatly, which altered the coordinates by a substantial amount too.
The moment Kamdoong’s plasma-fied body was reconstituted back to solid matter, it let out a cry quite unfitting of its usual forceful aura. It did not need a lot of time to figure out that something had gone wrong somewhere.
A cracking sound caught its attention.
The prokaryotes forming Kamdoong’s exterior instantly froze up. It released some energy to shake off the ice covering its body. Almost right away, a harsh chill attacked the creature.
“What the heck is this?”
Greatly flustered, Kamdoong tried to activate a short-distance teleport.
Kamdoong’s figure became blurrier before reappearing about ten kilometers away from its original landing zone.
Even before Kamdoong could regain its balance, a powerful blizzard viciously blowing over the frozen landscape pounced on it. Smashed around by the assault of snow blowing at 70m/s, Kamdoong was punted away like a soccer ball.
“Ouch! Bloody hell!”
Curses flew out of its lips. Its body minimization system kicked in. It shrunk down to one-tenth of its original size, while its external shape transformed to resemble a rugby ball. An oval was the most optimal shape to minimize external impact after all.
Kamdoong softly landed back on the ground. Now that its head and legs had submerged inside its torso, the creature looked like a turtle in a defense mode. In this transformed state, it managed to find some leeway to analyze its new environment.
Its scouter activated. A set of data came out, which would read like this in modern language: [Current location: 78° 28′ 34″ southern latitude, 106° 49′ 25″ east latitude// Altitude: 3,488 meters// Current temperature: -79℃// Wind speed: 71m/s// No lifeform found within the range of 4,000// Unsuitable operational range for Adras, urgent escape recommended]
“Kkeeeeuhk?! What the heck is this?” Kamdoong’s jaw dropped.
It could barely believe the scouter’s analyzed data. A frozen landscape, murderously cold storm winds, merciless cold that instantly froze the cells – was there a location like this on Earth, to begin with?
Even after scanning every nook and cranny of its memories, Kamdoong could not find any data on such a horrifying location. Honestly, it would be easier to believe that an error occurred during the Katomizer’s operation and its passenger had been thrown into another planet altogether.
Kamdoong did not want to admit it, but the scouter was functioning perfectly. The warp’s landing coordinates was a frozen field at an altitude of 3,488m near the Soviet Union’s Vostok Station.
In other words, it had teleported into the absolute worst location imaginable. Teleporting into a power station’s gas turbine would have been a better outcome than this for Kamdoong.
‘Damn Concretus! That damn Katomizer!’
The panther’s face distorted in displeasure like a human’s. Kamdoong’s prokaryotes were frozen solid, while the activity level of its eukaryotes fell off a cliff. It wanted to hurl curses at its creator, but its mouth had frozen solid too. Only twenty minutes had passed since Kamdoong praised the normally-functioning Katomizer, but now…
It seemed that fickle mindedness was a condition prevalent in all lifeforms, regardless of whether one was a human, an Epidium, or an Adras.
The coldest place on Earth during the Concretus civilization’s heyday was above-zero temperatures. The operational range for a general-purpose Adras designed by the Concretus was between -20℃ and 500℃. Of course, Adras designed for special purposes had a much wider operational range, but truth be told, even the specs of a general-purpose Adras allowed it to operate without issues in most parts of the planet.
The current temperature as measured by the scouter was -79℃. It had surpassed the limits that an Adras could withstand by quite a steep margin. That was why Kamdoong had to allocate most of its energy to maintain its body temperature.
The blizzard angrily pummeled Kamdoong as it waddled forward ungainly.
When Kamdoong crashed into a wall of ice, its frozen front limb cracked and snapped apart.
‘Krrrrng! What a humiliating sight!’
Kamdoong stared at its severed front leg with a pair of dismayed eyes. Never in a million years did it ever imagine such a wretched thing happening to it.
The internal power generator was activated with a whirring sound. The flow of electrons sped up and Kamdoong’s figure heated up into a deep red hue. The surrounding ice and its severed limb began melting down to goo.
With a sucking sound, the liquefied front limb was absorbed back into the main body and a new front leg jutted out. That certainly was an unbelievable sight to witness, but then again, Kamdoong was created with the ability to control its cells however it wanted. This performance looked as natural as a human putting a band-aid on a scratch.
Although Kamdoong had displayed the peak of limb regenerative ability, that was about it, really. Its situation had not improved at all. The melted ice froze up in an instant.
Kamdoong used the scouter to check the level of energy remaining within itself. Around two million zeon remained; 68% of the remaining charge would be enough for three more teleportation attempts.
A single teleport covering the maximum distance of 100km would consume around 400,000 zeon. So, three attempts would equate to around 1.2 million zeon. 30% of the remaining energy was meant for its survival and absolutely could not be used in teleportation attempts.
Kamdoong’s emotionless eyes glared deeply into the frozen wasteland blanketed by the raging blizzard. There did not seem to be an end in sight. No matter how good an Adras’ eyesight was, it was still impossible to see beyond the horizon.
‘Can I escape from here after teleporting 300 kilometers?’
Unfortunately, the scouter could not measure the size of this frozen wasteland. The scouter’s measuring range was limited to 100km, just like its maximum teleportation range.
Kamdoong looked up at the sky next. It needed the sun’s rays to synthesize the elements present in the atmosphere and acquire necessary energy. It could also acquire energy directly through other living organisms, but not a single trace of fauna or flora could be seen around here.
Penguins, seals, skuas and petrels living on the Antarctica were all found on the coastlines. No creature lived this deep inland. If only Kamdoong had ended up in the North Pole; it could have hunted polar bears or seals to replenish its energy reserve.
‘Death. You want me to die, is that it?’
The winter in the Antarctica started in March and only ended around September. In other words, the South Pole at the end of May was smack dab in the middle of its winter.
It was nearly impossible to see one inch in front of your nose in this blizzard-pummeled frozen wasteland. Obviously, Kamdoong could not see the sun up there.
‘I don’t have a choice, now do I!’
Kamdoong decided to bet everything on its three remaining teleport attempts. Even if it failed to escape from this wasteland, it could still recharge its energy as long as there was sunlight. There was hope as long as it could activate its internal power generator. Kamdoong began praying ardently to see some sunlight soon.
The internal power generator’s output reached its highest threshold.
With Kamdoong in the center, a powerful magnetic field began swirling around. The field’s energy output, around 200 million volts when calculated as the electrical voltage, pushed back the blizzard.
Kamdoong’s figure became indistinct.
Accompanied by the sound of wet clothing smacking the water’s surface, the Adras vanished from the spot.
Kamdoong reappeared in a spot 100km away to the east. It vanished again only to appear another 100km away to the east.
Curses were flowing so naturally from its mouth now. Despite performing three teleportations, the situation had not improved at all. The surrounding world remained as white as before and so did the bitter cold and blizzard.
Kamdoong began scrounging up all its remaining energy. Its cells, under the intense load, complained angrily, but it clenched its teeth and endured. According to its friend, plenty of people out there could not take that one last step and failed to catch the bluebird right in front of their noses.
Kamdoong had no idea what a bluebird was, but even so, it still understood the meaning behind that saying.
Kamdoong vanished from the spot.
But then, a black object suddenly fell from the empty air. Kamdoong could not even warp 100 meters away this time. A lot more energy than expected had been spent on defending against the harsh cold attacking its body structure. It thought that one more teleport should still be doable, but that assumption turned out wrong.
Kamdoong attempted another teleport right away. It was said that heavens helped those that help themselves.
Unfortunately, all those heartrending struggles were unfruitful.
‘The heavens are abandoning Kamdoong?!’
Kamdoong’s eyes staring up at the sky were filled with resentment. Even the greatest lifefrom on Earth was not strong enough to deal with mother nature’s violent ways.
Since the exact size of this vast white world was unknown, shouting ‘Just one more step!’ without any plan whatsoever seemed a bit too reckless.
The winds blowing around madly like a devil’s sorrowful wail began dying down. Powdery snow still scattered about, but this much was nothing compared to the murderously-sharp cold winds. Now finding itself with some leeway, Kamdoong laid itself down inside an open gap found in a crevasse.
‘According to the Eastern Swordsman’s emotions, that should be called beautiful.’
A curtain of green light was spreading open in the sky above. The ignorance of calling auroras ‘northern lights’ could still be found in textbooks even to this day. The thing was, an aurora was a phenomenon of electrical discharge caused by the solar winds and Earth’s magnetic fields.
It occurred whether you were on the North or the South Pole. It was just that there were basically no people in the Antarctica, and the fact had not been widely known just yet.
Kamdoong was captivated by the stream of light rhythmically pulsating like a dance performance. Compared to the underground world where the air did not even budge, the surface world proved to be so much more dynamic!
Its thought processing nuclei came up with an analysis that just one day in the surface world was better than 100 million years back in the Hollow Earth.
Kamdoong flinched. That was an irrational analysis. All thinking processes and actions of the Concretus were based on logic. The word ’emotion’ did not even exist in their vocabulary.
‘Hehehe. Is it because of the Eastern Swordsman’s virus?’
Kamdoong chuckled helplessly. It would not die, but with how things were at the moment, escaping from here seemed impossible. It began picturing the images of humans unearthing the fossil of a black panther encased in ice many, many years later down the line.
What kind of nonsense was this? Kamdoong had finally been awakened with a conscious and briefly came up to the surface, only to be met with such a situation! The tuition fee seemed unfairly steep.
The blizzard that had died down for a little while began acting up once more.
Particles of ice carried by the winds mercilessly pounded onto Kamdoong’s body. The energy gauge was dropping precipitously..