Chapter 376: “Water” Bullet (2)
There was no one in the unit who didn’t know the gray cat not just because of all the shit it pulled during the fourth test, but also because it was Cillin’s pet! The one and only!
A myriad of indescribable emotions filled the other four girls’ hearts immediately.
“Hello? Are you there? Can you give me a response or something? Cillin! She’s not a mute, is she?” Wheeze looked away and yelled at the end of the sentence.
Rong Ruo snapped out of her shock and spoke up, “I-I-I-I-I’m Rong Ruo, yes!”
The gray cat moved closer, causing its head to look bigger and taking up the entire screen. “Okay! You’re Cillin’s student starting now, and I suppose my student too! Feel free to come to me if you ever run into any trouble! I’ll cover you if anything happens!”
Rong Ruo: “...”
Wheeze ignored her silence this time. It was because it was too absorbed in the joy of being a “master”. It continued, “Cillin is busy right now, so I’ll head over and receive you in a moment, okay? Okay!”
Wheeze broke off the transmission there before looking at Cillin on his own communicator. “Cillin, I’m going to receive our disciple now!”
After Cillin gave it a wave to indicate that he heard it, Wheeze leaped out of the window, tracked the source of the signal and made a beeline toward Rong Ruo.
Wheeze wasn’t lying when it claimed that Cillin was busy. In fact, it was the busiest he had been in a while.
After the interview session ended, and Cillin had submitted Rong Ruo’s name to the committee, the news that he had taken in an underachiever and an average looker as his student had spread like wildfire. As a result, countless people called—were calling—him to find out the truth. Forget Gen Xingming and the other princes, even Genya had called him and clarified three times that he hadn’t used the interview session to get himself a wife. It was only then they tentatively believed him and hung up.
After the seemingly endless calls were finally over, one of his roommates called out to him, “Cillin—er…”
Chuck was hesitating because he didn’t know if he should address Cillin casually or the more respectful “instructor”.
“Just call me your senior brother. We’re both studying in AF1 now,” Cillin answered after putting away his communicator.
“No problem, senior brother Cillin. Well, I just want to say goodbye since my ride is here. See you in AF1!”
Chuck left the hostel after bidding Cillin goodbye. A flying car was already waiting for him outside the hostel. In fact, everyone else had left a short while ago. The young man had intentionally waited until Cillin was done with his calls so that he could speak with him and bid him goodbye.
After Cillin was ready, he stepped out of the door and looked at the empty hostel unit behind me. He gave his bag a tug before closing the door.
Just like that, the hostel had seen off yet another term of hopeful prospects.
Cillin returned to AF1 after receiving Rong Ruo.
As an honorary scholar of the RAS, Cillin had the right to own his own lab. The location he chose was a non-instructional space because not everyone could own a massive plot of land to put a lab and a training ground on like Guan Feng.
Cillin was satisfied even though his treatment was far below Guan Feng’s. He only needed this much at this stage anyway.
Although his land was much smaller compared to Guan Feng’s or a senior fellow’s, it was still a thousand square meters wide or so. The reason he hadn’t used it before was because he did not have his own independent project. The cure for the Zebra Virus didn’t count because it had been made using Black Viper’s resources. The new project Cillin wanted to launch was a private project where both the fruits and the costs of labor were completely borne by himself. It also had nothing to do with viruses or guns.
After the new hostel arrangements were complete, Rong Ruo went to Cillin’s lab. When she laid eyes on it for the first time, she thought it looked more like a factory than a lab.
On the way, Cillin revealed that the main reason he was attracted to her was because of the “Water” series accessories she developed, specifically the technology behind it. Cillin didn’t force her to offer up her technology as compensation for her current treatment as a matter of course. In fact, he even offered to pay her handsomely if that was her wish. However, Rong Ruo willingly gave up the technology to him.
“It was pure coincidence that I discovered it in the first place, and I’m only using it to feed my family. Now that I’m in AF1, I’ll be paid a salary. I see no reason to hoard a technology that’s no longer useful to me.”
The reason Rong Ruo couldn’t bring herself to say yes during the interview was because that technology was her backup plan in case she wasn’t accepted into the affiliated schools. It was no longer necessary now. She was very grateful toward Cillin for facilitating her entry to AF1.
When Rong Ruo first discovered the technology, she was melting several ores to create a type of experimental reagent. A number of steps later, she dissolved the reagent with a solvent before heating it up. It was around this time she was interrupted by something and had to place the reagent in a compressed capsule and stuff them inside a magnetic decompression furnace. When she came back and opened the furnace door, she discovered that the crystals in the flask were shaped like dodecahedrons instead of the prisms she was expecting!
However, the dodecahedron crystals were pretty unstable. They dissipated not long after the furnace door was open. If Rong Ruo didn’t pay attention to the crystals in her flasks all the time, she would not have discovered it.
Since then, Rong Ruo had begun researching a way to make use of her discovery and successfully created crystals of all shapes and sizes. To cut down on cost, she chose H2O a.k.a water as the main component of her crystals. That was how the Water series accessories came to be.
“See? You don’t need to feel inferior to others. You’re just as good as everyone else,” Cillin said. He acted more like a senior brother than a mentor toward her.
The first thing Cillin asked Rong Ruo to do was to shut down the accessory shop. She could reopen it at a later date if she wanted to. Rong Ruo was okay with this because business was pretty poor anyway. The wealthy ones wouldn’t stoop to buying cheap accessories, and the poor ones wouldn’t waste their money on unnecessary purchases. The only reason she opened the shop was because she discovered the technology, so she had no qualms shutting it down. Also, Cillin had given her an advance so her family would be able to live comfortably without her shop, not to mention that her entry to AF1 basically guaranteed that they would enjoy various benefits. The planetary government loves it when one of their own got chose to join the empire’s affiliated schools, much less AF1.
“When are we going back, Cillin? Xi Kai’s asking about it this morning. He’s already prepared everything and is just waiting for us to finish,” Wheeze asked. The gray cat was currently lying sideways above a shelf, licking its paws and basking in the sunlight.
“Not yet. We’ll see once I’ve finished this,” Cillin replied while performing his experiment. He was planning to head back in a few days’ time, but the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Rong Ruo’s technology had helped to open his eyes to several things and point out the general direction of his research, so he wasn’t going to waste that inspiration.
Rong Ruo wanted to help Cillin out as an assistant since her classes hadn’t begun yet, but she quickly realized that she wasn’t able to do anything beyond the superficial stuff. If the technology she possessed was a foundation, then Cillin had rapidly expanded on that foundation to the point where she almost couldn’t understand what she was looking at. It was why she had been busy enriching her knowledge for the past couple days. Czedow had also showed her some of the stuff he had copied from the library, although what constituted as one hour of reading to him was enough to keep Rong Ruo busy for ten days straight. It wasn’t because Rong Ruo was slow, of course. Czedow’s reading speed was literally inhuman.
Ten days later, in a three hundred square meter wide space in Cillin’s lab, the Hunter loaded a bullet that looked like a bead of water into a gun he had made himself. The bullet had watery ripples on its surface.
He then shot a dead leaf about fifty meters away from him.
The dead leaf had been propped up with a thin needle. When the bullet made contact with the leaf, it spread out and enveloped the entire leaf at high speed instead of penetrating it.
Cillin checked the hygrometer. The humidity in the room was falling rapidly.
Five seconds later, the reaction on the leaf finally came to a stop.
Wheeze leaped over to the leaf and circled around it before saying, “It really is quite similar to the crystals at the bottom of the sea!”
Rong Ruo had used water to create small accessories of all shapes using water, but anything beyond a certain size had a high chance of not forming at all. Cillin was able to grasp onto part of the information of this technology and create the “water” bullet.
The leaf was currently surrounded by a thick layer of crystals. It looked like a specimen just like the ones they saw at the underwater city.
Wheeze tried touching the “frozen” leaf with its paw pad. It was cold, but not nearly as cold as actual ice. The crystal’s temperature was similar to normal water, but it was way harder than the water crystals Rong Ruo had created. Wheeze proceeded to swallow the crystal and give it a tentative chew.
“It’s pretty tough. Do you wanna proceed with the next test?” Wheeze asked.
After the humidity in the room was restored, Cillin loaded another bullet into his gun. The size of this bullet was the same as the previous one, but the ripples on its surface was denser.
This time, Czedow produced a bottle with a flea in it. Wheeze had just swiped the insect from King Kong’s body a while ago. He should’ve expected this, but the flea was way bigger than your normal flea. He did not want to know how much blood it was draining from its host each day.
Czedow opened the bottle cap after Cillin gave him the signal.
A flea the size of half a thumb rushed out into the open immediately. Unfortunately, what greeted it was a watery bullet, not freedom.
The crystal hit the ground with a solid thud. Looking at the flea it had trapped in mid-leap, you wouldn’t think it was dead at all.
Wheeze quickly leaped over and chewed that crystal as well. It commented, “This one’s much harder than the previous crystal.”
Cillin would continue to experiment on several types of dangerous parasites, each time using a water bullet with a slightly different pattern on it. The results were all pretty positive.
He would have liked to test his creation on a larger sea beast, but there was no such prey in the campus as a matter of course. The water bullet was perfected yet—the bullet speed could be better, and the hardness of the water crystal could be improved—but all in all, he was pretty satisfied with what he got right now.
Obviously, the water bullet was meant to be used as a weapon. To Wheeze though? It suggested that Cillin process its food with the low grade water bullets from now on. It even named the fish biscuits covered inside a water crystal, “Sandwich Fish Biscuits”.
Right now, it cost a good amount of credits to make a single water bullet. It wasn’t just a simple accessory after all. Not only was the process to create a water bullet complicated, many parts of the processing required a high level of precision. Even the lousiest water bullet they could create right now cost three figures if they calculated the cost by credits. It might not seem like a lot individually, but if he were to make hundreds and thousands of them? The sum adds up to put it mildly, and right now Cillin most certainly did not possess the wealth to feed Wheeze “Sandwich Fish Biscuits” on any basis. It would take thousands of water bullets just to process all the fish biscuits in a single bag, and the glutton goes through dozens on a daily basis.
Would you make your food taste better at the expense of all the money in your wallet? In the end, Wheeze’s answer was no when Cillin calculated the estimated cost and showed it the numbers. But only for now.
“Meow dammit. When I’m rich, I’m going to use top-grade water bullets to process all my fish biscuits!” Wheeze declared.
“Say that again when you’re actually rich,” Cillin said sarcastically while flicking its ears. It had taken the glutton merely half a day to use up all the money it had made during the selection test on food. Shusag was absolute right when he said that Wheeze was literally eating a hole in its own wallet.
That night, Wheeze complained about how expensive prices were these days and how it would be so much happier if it could eat without reservations to Black Viper, the living legend itself. However, the gargantuan viper was unable to respond affirmatively to its complaints at all. Ever since the Black Viper and Wheeze had become friends, the gray cat would visit once in a while for a chat. This was the first time the gargantuan viper was completely speechless though. Not only was Wheeze’s appetite too much, the amount of things it couldn’t eat could be counted on one hand! Not even the imperial family was wealthy enough to pay for the cost necessary to research and create “water”-encased food for the insatiable glutton!
Of course, the Black Viper did not reveal the water bullet to anyone; not even the imperial family. It was because it believed that Cillin would not pose a threat against the empire. Not only that, it told the emperor that Cillin would become a second Guan Feng at minimum, and the man who surpassed Guan Feng at best.
The next day after Wheeze voiced its complaints to the gargantuan viper, it sent someone to give it a card that was absolutely loaded with credits. Surprisingly, the gray cat did not cave in to its greed and turned down the gift.
“I’m going to earn my own money!”
Just when the Black Viper thought that even Wheeze had some pride, it ran up to Cillin and attempted to pull a pity play against him. It was because it had finished all of the food it brought.
Cillin poked its ridiculously rotund stomach and commented, “Your appetite has gone up again.”
Wheeze sighed. “I used too much brain recently. You know how tiring it is to overwork your brain.”
Cillin: “...” Yeah, I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
Like, what could he even say? Point out that the sloth slept at least twenty hours per day?
Cillin did not forget to teach Rong Ruo his insights while he was working on improving the water bullet. As a result, the new accessories she created were much improved be it in terms of purity or luminosity. Besides that, the characteristic coldness of hard crystals were replaced by the cool, gentle feeling of water.
The first batch of the new accessories were sold to none other than the three princes themselves. Originally, they supported Rong Ruo only because she was Cillin’s student, but when they showed off the accessories to the girls they were attempting to woo, they discovered that they were more popular than expected. After that, they contacted Rong Ruo and offered various ideas to promote her products. They even said they would help her establish an accessory company if that was what she wanted. Cillin let them do as they pleased because Rong Ruo would only benefit from the contact. At the very least, she would not be defenseless after he returned to GAL.
After Cillin was finally done with the water bullet, he made preparations to return to GAL immediately. Xi Kai had already urged him to leave a couple of times. If he dilly-dallied any further, he was sure that the scientist would pay him a visit.
He entrusted the lab to Rong Ruo in his absence so she could continue her crystal dream. Gen Xingming and Co. showed up from time to time to help as well. It wasn’t anything serious. The lazy bastards were just bored, and the water crystal seemed interesting enough to hold their attention for now.
Cillin deleted all data regarding the water bullet just in case someone found out his findings and tried to steal them. He wasn’t ready to publicize his findings yet, not to mention that the water bullet still wasn’t good enough. He needed to test out the ammo in real battle, and the best place to do so was of course, GAL.
Cillin visited Genya one last time before going to Xi Kai. However, Genya turned down his offer to take him back to GAL. Although he desired very much to see his family again, Shortcut still wasn’t stable enough to support an entire army passing through. If he returned to GAL alone, he would only be burdening his family and friends. That was not how he envisioned his return.
“It won’t be long now. You’ll be able to meet everyone very soon,” Cillin consoled his master.
Genya smiled as he watched Wheeze fooling around with Blueskin on the sea surface. “Don’t worry about me. You’ve already brought me the best gift I could hope for.”
Cillin recorded a video containing everything Genra wished to say to his family and friends. After that, he finally went to Xi Kai’s planet with Wheeze and Czedow. Guan Feng had also “returned” Tang Qiuqiu to Cillin with a gift. The gunsmith had made a new gun called the PTS K2. It was part of the K series as a matter of course, but the model was exclusive to Tang Qiuqiu only. It even had her initials on it.
It was time to go. All the materials they needed had been obtained, and Cillin was worried about leaving the Eleventh Squad leaderless for too long. Although they were standing by at the base right now, there was always the chance that an emergency could happen.
Xi Kai was already waiting at the space fortress when they arrived at his electronic planet. He asked the second he saw Cillin, “What kept you so long?”
“What, you have a problem?” Wheeze immediately countered from Cillin’s shoulder.
Xi Kai scratched his cheek. “Of course not.” He wasn’t stupid enough to butt heads with the gray cat.
Wheeze shifted his gaze before calling out, “Sigma! What is that you’re carrying?”
The Origin robot was holding a small box like it was his life’s treasure.
For some reason, Xi Kai scratched his head and went to his robots in silence. The answer was revealed a second later.
“Oh, this is Reefia and Suyi,” Sigma answered happily.
“What?” Wheeze immediately leaped down to the floor and sniffed the box a few times. It could not detect anything special though.
Reefia and Suyi were the two pitiful robots whom the Xi Family had unwittingly destroyed with their experiments. However, the box wasn’t nearly big enough to fit an entire Origin robot, much less two.
“Is it their ashes?” Wheeze asked without thinking. This was why Cillin smacked it sometimes. It really did not know how to control its mouth.
“No, no. This is Reefia and Suyi. They’re just asleep right now,” Sigma answered.
Wheeze was going to question Sigma until its curiosity was satisfied, but it fell silent after Cillin threw a bag of fish biscuits at its face.
Their stay in the Mist Bodhisattva Empire this time was short but fruitful. Xi Mu and Xi Kai had joined hands to create a new robot project, although they weren’t keen on revealing any details just yet. Both men said that they would reveal the plan when they were ready.
“We’re leaving now, Chip! But don’t worry, we’ll come back to see you very soon!” Sigma and Moon bade Chip goodbye from the space fortress.
“Good luck. Hopefully, Reefia and Suyi would be ‘awake’ the next time I see you all,” Chip replied from the electronic planet. He was really glad to meet Sigma again, and more importantly, he was glad that the robot had not changed even after a thousand years had passed.
Chip did not know if the five of them would finally be reunited, but Moon had told him that there was a chance, so there must be a chance. When Reefia and Suyi came back to life, and when Xi Mu and Xi Kai’s new project became a success, he too would finally be able to break free from his chained state and explore the universe with his brothers once more.
The Xi Family loved living among the stars and hated staying in one place for too long. Even Sigma preferred to travel all over the world, meet people, and create more experiences.
When someone was at the bottom of despair, faith was the one light that kept them going. It might be weak, but it was beautiful regardless.
The worst has passed, Chip thought to himself as he watched the rising space fortress. Yes, the darkest moment of our lives truly is behind us.
After the space fortress was gone, a hologram appeared on the ground in front of Chip. It was a footage between Moon and their master from way back then.
“If there comes a day where all four of your brothers are asleep, make sure that you stay ‘alive’ no matter what. You may have to lie, you may have to cheat, and you may have to break your principles every once in a while. But as long as you’re ‘alive’, you will always be able to rouse them again. So ‘live’ no matter what it takes, Moon…”
Moon had not shown him the footage sooner because he himself couldn’t shake the feeling that his master was just offering him empty comfort. But after he found Sigma, he finally started to believe that his master’s words were true after all. The journey might be long and difficult, but things really were changing for the better.
Why was Moon the most complex Origin robot of them all? The answer was simple. It was because he carried the biggest burden.
Cillin knew that Moon carried a lot of secrets with him. He even suspected that he knew the technology that was used to turn the sea overlords at Sea Paradise to specimens. However, no one could pry the secret out of Moon if he chose to keep them.
The peak generation of the Xi Family might be gone for a thousand years, but were their wisdom and fruits of labors truly lost forever?
The space fortress flew into the belly of the stars; toward the uninhabited zone they had come from. A massive vortex appeared out of nowhere once more, but this time Tang Qiuqiu was perfectly calm and collected. She did not go into hibernation either.
As the space fortress slowly flew into the center of the vortex, the numbers on the screens looked a lot more encouraging than before.
Wheeze let out a yawn and curled up into a ball next to Cillin. It would be busy the next time it awoke.