Chapter 273: It Can’t be Her?
Dantu was brought out to the control room again when evening approached. Although the young boy was still watching Wheeze overcautiously, the fear and astonishment that had gripped him when he saw Cillin and the others for the first time was already gone. Maybe it was because he was born into a harsh environment, but it was clear that that he was more cool-headed and mature than a well-born peer on a peaceful planet. All things considered, his mental fortitude was praiseworthy.
However, Dantu’s cool facade cracked nonetheless when he saw the projection on top of a desk in the middle of the control room. It was a complete map of Dantu’s entire city. Nikki had slipped a couple of mini probes past the city’s defenses when an outgoing patrol was making its return. After the mini probes had entered the city, they split up into even tinier components before splitting up and performing a full scan on the metal city. Finally, the data was transmitted back to the spaceplane and joined together to form the map before their eyes. The city’s defense system was so backward that it wasn’t able to notice that a bunch of foreign probes had slipped past its security and transmitted information to an outside source at all.
Although Dantu had lived here for over a decade, the city’s complete appearance was an enigma to him until now. He was able to identify the iconic buildings in the projection immediately even though the map before his eyes was a miniature version of the real thing.
Dantu was afraid that these “aliens” plotting something sinister against the city. If both sides were to engage in physical conflict, that any victory they took would come at a terrible cost considering how wide the gap between their technology was. Worse, people at the lowest rung like him or his solitary neighbor, Grandpa An would definitely be used as cannon fodders in this war.
Nikki smiled at Dantu when she saw his reaction, “We don’t really care about your city; we’re just looking for someone who happened to be hiding inside your city. Their level of technology is the same is ours, and they’re the ones who called us over in the first place. We would have no reason to visit this ridiculously small and impoverished planet otherwise.”
Dantu relaxed a little when he heard Nikki’s explanation, but the mysterious person Nikki mentioned had piqued his curiosity. Who was the person hiding inside their city, and why would they do such a thing? At the same time, he finally had an inkling on the group’s true objective.
“I don’t know the person you’re talking about. I’ve never heard of anyone with such advanced technology in our city either.” Dantu said.
“I wasn’t expecting you to know,” Nikki pointed at the city-wide projection rotating on top of the desk, “We would seek them out ourselves. However, we do need your help with one thing.”
“What is it?”
“We need to borrow your home for a bit.” Nikki paused the projection and moved it in front of Dantu.
Dantu pursed his lips in silence for a moment. Then, he glanced at the group before asking, “Do you plan on harming anyone in the city?”
Sediya snorted when he heard his question, “Boy, we’re not begging you for help. There are other ways we can solve our problems without you. However, that also means that we may have to hurt someone in your city to achieve our goals. You wouldn’t like to see a fellow citizen get hurt, would you? So talk quickly, because our patience only stretches so far. There is a cunning wolf waiting for us to capture inside that city.”
“Relax, we’re no executioner. We won’t be killing innocents.” Chi Lafang intentionally emphasized his last two words so that Dantu understood that their no-killing rule didn’t extend to those who weren’t “innocent”. After all, anything relating to Black Viper must be dealt with caution, or they were the ones who would come out dead during the exchange.
Dantu hesitated for a moment before he walked toward the projection and pointed at his home. It was at the slums where most of the people living there were either alone or impoverished. Dantu lived in a six-storeys high metal building where the biggest available living space didn’t exceed forty square meters. Dantu’s own space was only ten or so square meters wide, less than one third of the size of this control room.
Rent was a huge problem for Dantu because he, as well as the people living there could only afford that much. Anything better, tougher, and with more facilities required a fee that was completely out of their reach.
After Dantu had told them where his home was, the probes hiding inside the city stealthily made their way toward that location. It didn’t take long before the entire building came under their full view.
In the projection, Dantu’s left neighbor was drying jerkies and speaking to a couple of people standing at the corridor. The probes were able to capture even their conversation perfectly.
The door where Dantu’s right neighbor lived was shut tight, and they had no idea what kind of person was living in there. However, Cillin could tell from Dantu’s eyes that whoever living in that space was very important to the latter. For starters, he didn’t look like he care about the people on the projection at all. Two, the first place Dantu’s eyes had shifted to when the building appeared in the projection wasn’t his own space, but his right neigbor’s.
The good news was that there weren’t many patrols around that area because it was situated in the slums. In fact, they were clearly more active the upper rung residential areas, protecting the residents from flying beasts that were lucky enough to make their way into the city.
Nikki stopped asking Dantu questions after she had investigated all there was to investigate in that area. Instead, she turned to focus her attention on Chi Lafang and Sediya, who were investigating the so-called upper rung residential area of the city. They would wait until it was completely dark before they begin their operation because the patrols would be the only ones who were active around that time. Due to their hostile environment, the city people seldom went out of their homes after nightfall.
No one gave Dantu a second glance, but Dantu didn’t try to escape during their moment of inattention. It was because he knew that he had no chance of success considering the level of his opponents.
A flying car model flew in from outside, and a gray cat was standing right on top of it. It was also holding a box with its mouth.
Dantu reflexively shied away from Wheeze the moment it appeared, but his attention was quickly grabbed by the flying car model. The difference in technology made Dantu extremely curious towards the foreign flying object.
Wheeze stopped the flying car model in front of Cillin before setting down the box, “Cillin, you can assemble this thing, right?”
The item inside the box was one of the secondary prizes Cillin won during the racing tournament. It was one of the two Vege-Fritter style flying car models — the other one was in Naimi’s hands — Fleka had made personally, although of course it didn’t have the wealth of complexity and internal diversification of the original. However, it was still an extremely luxurious creation for a toy, and its cost could almost cover the purchase of a whole new flying car — luxury cars and racing cars aside, of course.
Since there was still some time before the departure, Cillin grabbed over the box, sat on the floor where he stood and started assembling the flying car model immediately. Wheeze stayed on top of its flying car model while it watched Cillin, tail swinging. From time to time, it would shoot a proud glance at Rubu and Armadillo sitting at another corner of the control room, causing the duo to grit their teeth in anger: so what if you have a toy and we don’t!
Dantu was extremely curious toward the flying object. It was probably one of those “flying car” mentioned in the TV, because they looked like the same type even though their appearance was different. He didn’t think that such a tiny toy could exist until now.
Dantu wanted to move closer and watch Cillin work, but he was still extremely wary of Wheeze. In the end, his curiosity won over his fear, and he slowly shifted closer and closer toward Cillin. Wheeze only shot him a glance before ignoring him, and Dantu let out a sigh of relief.
Cillin’s assembly speed wasn’t quick, but it was very rhythmic and clearly practiced. He was able to assemble every component to their right place with perfect accuracy. As Dantu stared at the object that was growing rounder and rounder in Cillin’s hands, he felt like all his attention was sucked into a whirlpool he was glad to be in.
“Do you have your own flying car?” Cillin asked in a lower, slower tone.
Dantu shook his head, but kept his gaze fixed on the model that was growing more and more complete.
“This is a flying car model. For a long time this model was looked down on by a lot of people, but their impression of it was changed after a racing tournament…” Cillin talked a little, but didn’t stop moving his hands. Then, he asked, “What will you do if you have a flying car of your own?”
Dantu looked very confused by his question. Then, he started thinking, “I’ll take Grandpa An out for a spin. I’ll show him how the city’s developed recently. The city has grown twice as large since some time ago, and there are a lot of new places to look at.”
“Mm. If it wasn’t for Grandpa An, I wouldn’t have survived to this day.”