Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 507
Kamdoong felt that he was in a perilous situation. He could adapt to the altered geomagnetism. He could develop a tolerance for the virus. But due to his body’s make-up, cold air was his insurmountable weakness.
A blizzard swept across the field at a speed of 50-70 meters per second. The ice shards carved by the wind were as sharp as pieces of glass. The wind blade comprised of ice shards and snow was as daunting as the Eastern Swordsman’s shockwave. The physical damage was dismissible but his dropping body temperature was the problem. He had reduced his body to the size of a mountain cat but he still was bleeding a lot of energy.
When he was existing as Adras, he did not have a notion of survival and perishing. Once his ego was awakened, he understood the meaning of survival and death. That meaning was as much a question about existence itself as the reason for existence.
He reminisced about the black puma frozen in ice with its four wings spread out, then the humans who rejoiced when they discovered the unsightly fossil and made a spectacle out of it. He could vividly imagine his own body on the dissection table, being torn apart bit by bit.
‘I will never be subject to such an ordeal.’
Kamdoong who had transformed to the size of a mountain cat, extended his claws. He did not think of going underground. His remaining energy was just short of 1,000,000 zeons. To evade the wind blade, which was his biggest obstacle and the cause of massive energy loss, he had to go underground. Kamdoong rerouted the energy allocated to maintaining body temperature to ELF.
Kamdoong opened its mouth wide. Supra-low waves buried themselves rapidly in the ice field. In the ice that was as hard as granite, a 10-meter deep hole was made. The powdered ice in the air made the strike dozens of times more efficient than using just air.
More efficiency meant he could conserve more energy. Kamdoong heaved a sigh of relief. The inside of the hole was cozy and warm. Just by getting out of the blizzard, the heat loss was reduced by 80 percent. Now he had a shot. Kamdoong decided to escape underground.
Kamdoong’s body rapidly transformed. Like a deflating balloon, his body’s surface area was reduced. Protruding parts like its head, limbs, and tail were absorbed by his trunk, which became greatly elongated.
The black puma was now merely a drill-shaped creature glinting with dark luminance. It plunged into the ice. The drill’s diameter was 50 millimeters and length was 500 millimeters. It was a big drill. With a smaller body, his energy output was greatly reduced. But what he needed was endurance more than power.
Every living thing’s ultimate goal is to survive. Kamdoong attempted a desperate escape. The puma’s head appeared at the tip of the drill. It howled and let out great sound waves. It was his ultimate weapon, high-level ELF. The di-helical, focused ELF in the 7-Hz range dug into the ice. Kamdoong advanced 20 meters at once.
The 50-millimetre-wide drill dug into the ice at a rapid speed. In the wake of the supra-low waves, evaporated ice shimmered. Kamdoong the Drill penetrated the ice at the speed of one meter per second.
He gauged the depth every 100 seconds. [1,500, 1,600 … 2,100, 2,300, 2,400, disabling the cold-resistant mode, 2,500, 2,600 …] As he dug deeper, the temperature around him rose. After 40 minutes, it reached minus 20 degrees Celsius — within his active range. He retrieved the energy that had been allocated to cold resistance and allocated it to ELF.
‘Is it going to be all ice till the end?’
Kamdoong was sick of it and also exhausted.
[… 3,900, 4,000, 4,100] When he reached 4,100 meters, he let out a scream.
He was suddenly in midair, but in the next second, he was plunged and submerged in water. After drilling for 70 minutes in the ice, Kamdoong penetrated 4,100 of permanent ice and fell into Lake Vostok. It was similar to what Mu Ssang went through when he fell into the lake in the underground world.
The lake water was as chilly. A human would have experienced a heart attack but he had no heart. The living drill pierced the lake water at a tremendous speed and continued to go down.
‘I will exit through the other side of the Earth.’
Kamdoong commanded a useless resolve. The average depth of Lake Vostok was 400 meters. After reaching the bottom in no time, Kamdoong sensed a mysterious current. A live current in a dead lake indicated that the lake was connected to the outside world.
Kamdoong scanned the bottom of the lake. Not too far from where he was, there was a narrow underwater cave through which the lake water was being drained at a tremendous rate. Kamdoong’s body was transformed into a box jellyfish. With agile movements uncharacteristic of jellyfish, he entered the narrow underground cave which was more like a slit in the rock.
A jellyfish that was really not a jellyfish rode along the strong currents. Mu Ssang was swept by the lake water from a collapsed dam then fell into an underground lake. On the other hand, Kamdoong escaped an underground lake, swept by water. Friends walk similar paths but sometimes there is a point where the said paths diverge.
After 48 hours, Kamdoong entered the Weddell Sea on the eastern shore of Antarctica. Exhausted, Kamdoong floated on the surface like a real jellyfish. He escaped the ice field to evade the cold air but the sea was not any different. Even the lake under the ice field seemed more favorable. As soon as he entered the seawater, severe cold grasped him.
‘Where am I?’
He had depleted all his conserved energy. He was barely maintaining survival mode. When the scouter was turned off, so were his survival instincts. A jaeger swooped down, spotting “a jellyfish” floating on water. Its sharp beak took away some of his flesh before he had time to react.
Without the shared fusion, and with his guard down, Kamdoong had to let it take some of his flesh. When the other jaegers saw that one of them got food, dozens swooped down on Kamdoong.
Kamdoong, startled, emitted the ELF. He was still powerful despite his exhaustion. The jaegers, each with a hole in their body, fell like leaves shaken by the autumn wind.
His dwindling energy was now completed depleted. Kamdoong hurriedly dove into the water. It was an almost comical sight, the overpowered Kamdoong fleeing from jaegers.
That did not mark the end of Kamdoong’s ordeal. Seals hunted him down. When one chased him, several others followed as if in a competition. One of them, who has just bitten off a mouthful of the jellyfish’s bell, screeched. A small hole had been punctured in its side. Many holes appeared in the heads and bodies of three seals.
The ELF, even in its greatly weakened state, was powerful enough to puncture the animal’s soft hide. Two quickly ran away and four floated down, bleeding out.
It was unavoidable. Even a dragon is harassed by loaches and minnows when it falls into a creek. A male lion, once diseased and weakened, was hunted by packs of hyenas.
The jellyfish, or Kamdoong, with half of his body lost, could not believe what just happened. His body used to block the metallic teeth of a dinosaur. Yet here he was, being eaten away by mere creatures. Because he lost half of his body, he could not transform anymore. At this rate, he was going to be the feed of mere terrestrial creatures.
A tentacle shot out from the jellyfish. A dead seal floating downward was brought to the jellyfish. The seal was torn apart at molecular levels and absorbed by Kamdoong.
‘I cannot even recover one percent of the non-nuclear cells.’
Kamdoong gave up on absorbing the living organisms. It was far too inefficient. It did not allow him to restore his nuclear cells and he expended more energy catching and absorbing the organisms. To restore his body and replenish his energy, he needed the sun to run his bionic generator.
‘I am an embarrassment to the name of Adras. Will the sun’s rays pierce through here?’
Kamdoong was doubtful. If it would, how can the Earth be this freezing? Kamdoong’s scope of knowledge was extremely unbalanced. He did not know anything about the world above the ground. All he had was the Eastern Swordsman’s memory which he had scanned incompletely.
‘Now I can only wait for a friend to rescue me.’
He only had five percent of his energy left. He was on the verge of entering hibernation. He did not have sufficient energy to transform out of the jellyfish state. He had to stay conscious in this unfamiliar world. He did not know what danger would strike him at any moment.
Kamdoong changed his body’s system to survival mode. He routed all of his remaining energy to defence and hardened his body. At the very least, he could not allow mere creatures to bite off his flesh anymore.
Kamdoong, in a half-comatose state, converted his energy to waveforms and emitted thought waves. Thanks to the large amount of his friend’s blood he had absorbed, he could connect telepathically. It depended on the Eastern Swordsman’s ability whether the connection is made or not. He could count on the epidium that allowed him to penetrate the underground world from above the ground.
[Help me, friend.]
[You said friends stand by each other’s side in times of need!]
The unsightly jellyfish floating on the Weddell Sea continually emitted thought waves. The antarctic cold overwhelmed the epitome of the great Concretus biotechnology, Adras.
A massive sea creature appeared between the glaciers. A humpback whale jumped into the air then fell back into the water. A baby whale followed its mother to indulge in the play of jump-fall.
The mother was gorging on krill. Whenever she soared, with her two-meter mouth open wide, dozens of kilograms of krill disappeared into her throat.
Each winter, a humpback whale mother, with her offspring born in the South Pacific, passes the Cape Hope and enters the Antarctic waters. The mainstream scientific rationale for the humpback whale’s long journey toward Antarctica was to attain the omega-3 fatty acids abundant in krill.
The humpback whale opened her mouth wide and started drinking seawater. Kamdoong floating on the surface was helplessly swept into the massive maw with the swarm of krill.
The humpback whale mother, who entered the antarctic sea in early winter, had sufficiently accomplished her goal. They swam through the Weddell Sea’s floating ice and headed for their home in the South Pacific.
[You said a friend reaches out when you need them!]
Desperate thought waves were emitted ceaselessly.
Falcon flew across the sky above Niger with a roar. Leon, the pilot, was concerned about the anti-air missile grid in Libya. Gaddafi’s crazed zealots were waiting for any Western aircraft to enter their skies. He had planned an itinerary through the Mediterranean Sea via Niger and Algeria.
A thud was heard from behind the cargo area. Mu Ssang put down his coffee mug and stood at once. It was a reflex. Human behavior alternated between reason and irrationality like a pendulum.
One may be in awe of the magnitude of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier but would rarely pay any attention to its components: bolts and rivets. In contrast, when one eats a dumpling, one is quick to find one grain of sand in a mouthful of savory filling. Ocelot was akin to that grain of sand.
Mu Ssang glared at a fixed titanium coffin then used Dimensional Sight. Contained inside the coffin was the most dangerous thing in the world. He scanned the inside of the coffin like an MRI machine. The dozens of fractured bones and severed tendons were almost restored to their normal state. An epidium-augmented body was truly a superior thing.
They were headed for France because of Ocelot. Mu Ssang abhorred inefficiency. He was going to hand Ocelot to Bonipas.
Ocelot was far too dangerous to be kept in Novatopia. If he regenerated his body, the 20-millimeter thick titanium coffin would be treated like a sheet of cardboard.
Mu Ssang shuddered to imagine the outcome should the enraged thing ever escape. Beyond Novatopians, the hundreds of thousands of refugees waiting to enter will also be massacred.
Samdi subdued Ocelot in the jungle of Ituri but Ocelot was technically still stronger. If Mu Ssang had not messed with Ocelot with Gongjinpa, Ocelot would have surely defeated Samdi. If Samdi and Dino fought together, they could tackle Ocelot but the impact of the fight would have obliterated Jipoon Dari.
“Your fate is quite a handful too.”
Mu Ssang’s glare softened. Ocelot made Mu Ssang hesitate. Considering all the effort to capture him, Mu Ssang was reluctant to dispose of him. If he were to keep him, there were considerable obstacles.
It was day 21 since he was locked up in a titanium coffin. No matter how much epidium he had, he still needed to eat. He was going to die if they deprived him of organic matter and water.
“It is a merciless world but I still can’t starve anyone.”
Mu Ssang entered the passcode and opened the lid of the coffin. His master had said that starving a living thing to death was the vilest of sins.
Ocelot jumped out like a compressed spring. His body was bony but still retained its structure. Receiving a blow to his chest, Ocelot was driven into the coffin. Mu Ssang did not spare any force. The blow had collapsed his ribs.
Ocelot glared at Mu Ssang. His gaze was full of malice and resentment.
Mu Ssang threw in ten packages of field ration. Ocelot’s eyes glinted. He had been starving for 21 days. He ripped open the packages and devoured their contents. All packages were gone in an instant.
“Drink some water.”
Mu Ssang threw a five-liter water bottle to Ocelot. Ocelot drained the bottle in one go. He did not even stop to breathe. The collapsed ribs had already regenerated. Mu Ssang shook his head. Its rate of regeneration was terrifying.
“Why didn’t you kill me?”
“Do you prefer if I had?”
Ocelot shot Mu Ssang a malicious glare without saying anything.
“If you don’t, stay quiet,” Mu Ssang blurted out. Ocelot butchered people for fun. For him, humans were less than dogs or cats. It was infuriating to merely look at his face.
“What will you do with me?”
“I have no idea either.”
Mu Ssang smiled. Ocelot’s face bloomed into a wide grin.
“I will be a good person. I will work for you..”