Chapter 6: Illusionary Wraith
Luo Nan stared at his drawing for a long time before deciding that he didn’t need to add or remove anything. Then he took the completed drawn sketch and performed a simple 3D rendering, importing the sketch into the computer’s AI database. The sketch was run through an Image Processing Function in order to import his work of art into the recording.
The Phantom flying car’s AI capabilities are admittedly heaven defying, but this sort of specialized image splicing requires specialized software to process. The result created in this adhoc fashion completely didn’t look like a drawing. It appeared rather grotesque.
But in Luo Nan’s opinion, this low-quality spliced drawing was the best fit with his memories.
Luo Nan saw the enormous wraith clearly at this moment. It emerged from within the exploding flames, towering over a hundred meters. It roared in fury amidst the collapsing ruins and dust.
The explosive impact of its roar was like several heavy fists or like a giant wheel steamrolling through. It was so much that Luo Nan felt all his internal organs shape and morph. The flesh and blood all over his body erupted with a sound, and the air was pervaded with the odor of blood and death…...
He truly thought he was done for, for a moment.
This was the full view of what he saw, of what he felt!
The real world was not a fantasy film, and Luo Nan knew this. The things he saw and felt was really far too bizarre. So he returned to the scene of the matter once again, juxtaposing the scene’s environment, and watching the recording in reverse. He also observed the reactions in the surrounding areas.
And finally the result was…… dull, ordinary, and not the least bit surprising.
Was it a hallucination?
Luo Nan flexed and stretched his fingers, closing his eyes. He adjusted his breathing and silently chanted the twenty word mantra. The visualization of the diagram appeared in the void. The tetrahedron, inner sphere, and circumscribed sphere slowly rotated. Several blocked circuits ahead were slowly restored back to being flowing and unhindered.
Visualizing the diagram cannot be described simply as…… a hallucination.
The diagram visualization technique showed clearly that his Vessel took some slight damage. However, the Vessel was in the middle of a rapid recovery.
The long-distance marathon running training over the past several years did not give Luo Nan a particularly buff physique. Instead it gave him super outstanding endurance and recovery capabilities.
It wasn’t a huge problem, but Luo Nan was extremely concerned about it.
Actually Luo Nan had already come to a solution under his own logic, but he didn’t rush to conclusions. He thought deeply for a time.
Soon a list of relevant information appeared.
At the time of the incident, the initial “earthquake stage” was already over. The atmospheric pressure was 104 kilopascals, which was within standard basic levels of atmospheric pressure. The shock of the explosive sound reached nearly 90 decibels then, which did not reach levels of damaging one’s hearings. A 44 kilometer/hour wind was caused by the incident, aka a class 6 intensity of wind. Other than the above, the temperature, humidity levels, radiation values, and other data were all within normal ranges.
This was only a normal, maybe somewhat noisy, very windy day from just looking at the data. These circumstances caused two great young masters to be shocked out of their wits? Wouldn’t that be a joke?
And there was another point…...
Luo Nan used his finger to mark a distance in video analysis mode: There is a distance of 2.9 kilometers from the broken bridge to the heart of the epicenter. The sound waves should have a delay of approximately 8 seconds. But was this really the case?”
Cold hard data was much more credible than his memories, adding to the incomprehensible mystery. The data showed that the flying car Phantom received the powerful sound wave vibration earlier than the erupting flames by 7 milliseconds.
Sound had run past light…… This was obviously ridiculous according to common sense. The origin of the explosive sound and the flames was torn into two pieces in face of the data..
And so a clear paradox emerged between the flames and the explosive sound, between the explosive sound and the human reaction.
Luo Nan raised his head, no longer watching any images or videos. He leaned heavily back against the chair.
A hallucination? A bullshit hallucination!
There was clearly a sort of force from an unseen plane, a bizarre force that meddled in the relationships of everything here. It filled up what had been originally empty space!
The burning wraith was the indicator to this sort of force.
This wasn’t science…… What Luo Nan wanted wasn’t science!
The Formatting Theory that his grandfather created had entered into the realm of metaphysics from the very start.
Luo Nan had intimate fanatical feelings towards his grandfather’s theory, so much so that he could place the theory on the same level as his life. However, he could not find a clear reference to the theory from his results so far.
Though he did have the Appetite King, Hypnosis Master, and other tricks that have already exceeded the limits of ordinary people, the level of these capabilities weren’t conclusive. They absolutely have not reached the level of “Fundamental Changes” to say the least.
What would count as a fundamental change under self-formatting? What is the criteria for a fundamental change? If it’s a so-called supernatural force, what would be its manifestation?
Luo Nan was unable to find the answer from within the chaotic and complicated records of his grandfather’s experiments.
Five years had passed where he engaged in closed self-study, self talk and discussion. He felt that he was advancing step by step, but he was unable to reach a conclusion to the issue of this “criteria”.
But now a reference object had appeared!
His heart pumped out blood that was as blazing-hot as lava. Yet all Luo Nan did was breath in a deep breath. His ten fingers gripped his notebook, and he lowered his chin. He controlled the pounding of his pair of heart and body.
There wasn’t even time to celebrate before the tip of the iceberg of the force had been exposed. The force looked that it could return to the other world behind the dark screen at any moment…...
There was still a lot of work that Luo Nan had to do.
The car’s AI had finished switching routes at this time, changing roads to do a detour. However, the damage of an over 10 square kilometers area caused quite the effect on the city’s traffic. Several layers of traffic in the air were closed off even if it was early in the morning. The moving vehicles began to slightly stop up. The vehicles were incapable of speeding up.
Luo Nan deleted the data and gathered records saved automatically by the AI, to avoid revealing information about the burning wraith by deliberately making things more complicated. Then he opened the news channel to check relevant news on this “earthquake”.
The majority of media was still in the phase of broadcasting in the form of text messages since the time from the incident was too short. Only the Star Associated Press demonstrated the haughtiness of a world-class media. They promptly purchased the video shot by the unmanned sentinel drones in the vicinity of the incident. They spliced them to create a satellite shot, seizing the first resources.
This recording wasn’t even two minutes in length, yet it was pushed higher and higher on social media to receive greater and greater attention
The bird’s-eye view image was clearer, showing that the overpass was only really part of the outer perimeter of damage. The location of epicenter of the earthquake had completely caved in to form an enormous ruin. The caved area still was unable to be filled, revealing an enormous hole. Azure lightning continued to jump. It was an exceptionally eye-catching sight under the glow of twilight.
What sort of situation was going on inside the enormous hole? How many casualties were there? Not a single media outlet had a definite report.
The municipal administration and the police began to get involved at this time, guiding traffic in the surrounding area. The clean-up and rescue jobs had yet to officially unfold, but transport vehicles have already emerged in the air. They began to drop all sorts of engineering bots.
The government’s response time was already quite fast, relatively speaking…… At least they far exceeded their typical level.
The flying car’s movement speed decreased slower and slower. The police performed a few inspections on the passing vehicles as they cleared the way for traffic. One car would be inspected, yet another would not. Their criteria for inspection was unknown. It appeared not to be their usual practice.
Luo Nan won the pick.
A police officer to the side notified him to stop his vehicle. The police officer waited for the window to roll down before raising a request: “Sir, please turn off your vehicle’s radar and related equipment to avoid interfering with the search and rescue effort.”
Luo Nan was cooperative in a flash. He sent out an order in front of the police officer, turning off the functionality of relevant systems.
The police officer waved his hand to let Luo Nan pass.
But the ad hoc barrier gate pole closed in front of Luo Nan just as the car started. The police officer chased after him with two steps, indicating for him to stop once again. But not only did the police office indicate to Luo Nan, he also indicated to all the cars coming in on the road.
Someone with a temper rapidly shouted: “What’s going on!”
“We’re temporarily transferring rescue equipment. The traffic near the site of the incident will be temporarily closed off. Everyone, please be calm and patient.”
This police officer was approximately forty years old. It appeared that he had calm temperament and a friendly bearing. However, there really weren’t anybody who dared to explode with barbed words in front of him. This was because this officer was a standard riot police officer who wore defensive combat gear. He towered over two meters being supported by his exoskeleton armor to have the back of a tiger and waist of a bear. He could completely lift a one ton heavy flying car and send it flying down the road.
Equipment? Some equipment had just been air dropped. If there’s more equipment coming, then that means the area of the incident probably will be unaccessible…...
Luo Nan raised his head to the skies. The sky was imbued with light at this time, expanding the horizon. There truly were medium-sized transport ships hovering in the air. They seemed to be from the military, but he didn’t see any equipments being tossed down.
“The situation’s changing!”
The Star Associative Press’s senior on site reporter was on the news channel. He shot a scene of the area from a helicopter and described the current situation:
“The state of congestion has become more serious in the surrounding area. The number of stopped vehicles is increasing more and more. From what can be seen from the present, the government and police have not focused their energy on relieving traffic. Instead the control measures by the police have become more severe. The locked down area is increasing larger without end……”
All the vehicle owners on the road would certainly be greatly empathetic to this news report. Most of the surrounding roads have already become parking lots. The positions of many cars haven’t changed at all within a ten minute interval.
The inspections by the riot control police become more severe. Some cars who have already been inspected had to come over and be re-inspected.
Luo Nan was much more calm and collected when compared to the rest of the vehicle owners voicing discontent noisily down the roads. His objective right now was to collect all relevant information. He was precisely given more ideas from being stopped for a bit longer near the vicinity of the incident.
He was switching between several news channels in order to search for news of worth. At the same time he cast his sight towards his own social media; he frequently browsed forums, communities, and etc. As he watched the news, he swiped on a webpage. The car’s AI, the flexible e-ink screen, and even his wrist band were all utilized and mobilized. His workload was a joy to behold, but he was unable to find any clues so far.
It hadn’t even been half an hour since the incident, so every news outlet had yet to make an in depth report. The majority of information on social media interaction platforms were rumors. The difficulty to sift through all this information to find something of use was far too high.
“The news still needs to circulate for a while……”
Luo Nan shook his head. His finger streaked across the flexible screen and he subconsciously clicked open a certain icon. An interface opened to reveal a familiar setting of sparse stars spread about. This was precisely his most-frequented Secret Star Forums.
To Luo Nan the Secret Star Forums was a goods purchasing channel. He had never made a statement on a public board for the sake of safety. At most he would he would skim a few interesting topics.
The niche specialized forum had a slower response to the sudden news outbreak and it was harder to form a lively discussion there. It was not of great important to gather information here.
He came here purely due to habit.
The most popular topic pushed to the top today looked to lack any pertinent information. It’s topic was A Collective Nightmare, the Release of Spiritual Waves, typical styling of the mystic arts.
Luo Nan wasn’t interested in these sorts of topics. Since he had some free time now, he sent a well-thought private message to the internal board’s moderator as an attempt to lift the ban from his account number in advance.
Luo Nan spent a few minutes on the wording. Then when he exited from the PM interface, he discovered a topics’ discussion page count explode several times in size on the home page. The liveness caused a “Bright Star” result; a sole topic was drawn out and turned into a raging and burning star.
And at this moment perhaps that moderator felt that the original headline wasn’t drawing enough posts and so he made a change. The headline flashed and turned into the words Xia City’s R&D District Earthquake Nightmare Centralized Discussion Thread, New Merged Thread.
Luo Nan had accidently clicked into the thread at the first moment of its creation.
The contents posted by the Original Poster was very simple. The OP, U-Soul, described that he was a Xia City resident residing near the R&D district and that he had been sleeping at the time of the earthquake. He had a dream half asleep and half awake. He had been swallowed whole by flames in that dream, and he had heard an enormous roar. The seismic wave was like a gigantic ship steamrolling over his body. It probably represented sleep paralysis.
It wouldn’t be that important if it was just this much information. The key lies at the moment when U-Soul woke from the scare; his wife next to him was also scared into waking up…… These two just had the same dream. Every single detail was extremely similar, like they watched a horror film as a couple!
U-Soul posted this experience on the forums. No one really paid attention to it at first and U-Soul didn’t take it seriously himself; he just directly posted live updates on the earthquake.
He never thought there would be other people starting their own threads a short few minutes later, talking about the earthquake nightmare matter. The content of their dreamworlds were described practically completely the same as U-Soul’s.
Afterwards, people followed up one after another. Some replied to the post in the thread, some started a seperate thread with a post, finally igniting the Secret Star Forums on this morning day. Huge discussions had begun.
Anyhow, the niche forum’s liveness also had its limitations. Luo Nan skimmed ten lines with a glance, soon sweeping over the contents of every post. He still had a large feeling of dissatisfaction.
“There were only two or three people who had truly experienced this instance for themselves…...”
The Secret Star Forums was small and its members were from all over the world. Over 70,000 registered IDs divided by 88 leaves not even 1000 people. Those who lived near the R&D district numbered even fewer.
Some people had recognized this point. They started to introduce the news into popular forums and social media relevant information on the topic.
Large numbers of people can handle matters well. Luo Nan had painstakingly searched for information in vain, but information surged forth under the searching of the collective whole of over a thousand people.
Only now did many people find out the topic of the Collective Nightmare of Xia City. It had already formed an underground surge on the internet, and it was expanding with greater and greater momentum.
The discussion atmosphere in the Secret Star Forums grew more feverish. Even though the moderator had set up a separate merged thread rule, there were still people opening new threads unceasingly. Related topics were dragged in deep.
And an ID by the name of Historical Data Shredder started a new post. He had set up a statistical diagram of this incident. He took all relevant cases on the internet and fed them into the chart. Moreover he updated without end, soon causing his topic to have the “Bright Star” effect.
Luo Nan felt that his words had meaning; the numbers were organized excellently.
“The Nightmare Spirit Wave’s range of influence can be seen from the diagram to be a maximum distance of 300 kilometers, covering the entire city of Xia. The center of the area of the incident has a radius of approximately 10 kilometers. I shall call it the Core Area. There has been over 20 cases on the internet at the present. And it doesn’t matter who were sleeping in the incident; they were all awakened.”
Historical Data Shredder had organized over a total of fifty valid cases. Half of them were in the Core Area.
The density of cases dropped significantly outside of the Core Area. The further the distance, the rarer the cases. This was very hard to validate.
However Historical Data Shredder proclaimed that according to his understanding a considerable portion of reactions that occurred outside the core area were recognized as people who engaged in cultivation or religious practice. He supported his claim endlessly with new relevant information and he hoped that everyone would aid him in his efforts and so on.
Then U-Soul the very first poster also responded. He said that he’ll bring his wife to the hospital for a check up in just a moment and that he’ll post the result on the forums, creating a piece of awaiting-information.
Luo Nan pinched his chin lightly. Then he immediately contacted his school’s medical department through his wristband to book an appointment for a body examination. He was preparing to compare his results with those of the U-Soul couple.
“Bang Bang, Bang Bang!”
A disconcerting noise suddenly entered his ear. The window of the cockpit was alarming from a large force.
Luo Nan froze heart and soul. The person outside to directly stomped a foot at the car door during this moment of pause. Then came a sharp piercing voice that not even the fully sound-proof car was able to block:
“XIE JUNPING. GET OUT OF THERE!”