IRNDGL - Chapter 88: Clay Idol No. 277
No. 277 didn't have a name.
'Clay Idol S277' was her number and it was imprinted on her nape along with a digital barcode.
The 277th specimen born from Clay Idol Artificial Human Project, second batch. This was the significance behind this number.
Since the start of this plan by the Truth Union's Mechanical Department, there were a total of three experimental batches and 3050 serial numbers.
There were 50 in the first batch with a prefix F, 1000 in the second with prefix S, 2000 in the third batch with prefix T.
No. 277 was one of the many failed products.
However, No. 277 didn't feel dejected because out of these 3050 experiments, all of them were actually failures.
Occasionally, through the transparent glass capsule, she would hear researchers in white coats grumbling as they walked past.
"This experiment is getting increasingly intensive and we have to collect data from dawn to dusk. The top also doesn't seem intent on allocating more funds either, and the experiment isn't seeing much progress.
“Sighhh... and we are only able to stay inside the lab because of confidentiality regulations. I'm bored to death."
The colleague at the side asked, "Not much progress? I sorted out the aetheric affinity data. Isn't it already at 200%?"
The researcher rapped his knuckles on the glass vessel as he glanced at the blurry silhouette within the culture fluid. "Mm, this one is currently the best specimen with a highest aetheric affinity of 200% predicted. However, the philosopher's stone's concentration within her flesh and blood is excessive, leading to her having an approximate lifespan of only a year."
"A year.... What will happen after a year?"
The first researcher made the gesture of an explosion with his hands. Chuckling, he explained, "Gradually, the power of a philosopher's stone cannot be replaced and the aetheric affinity diminished. Eventually, these specimens won't be able to control the flow of aether and expand like a balloon... That is why this batch has to be quickly destroyed if the next experimental batch produces results.
"In a few days, the first batch of experimental specimens will be destroyed."
Thus, No. 277 knew that she only had a year remaining to live.
Glass and culture fluid provided two layers of separation which made everything beyond, such as people passing by or the flickering of lights, seem distorted.
Day after day passed.
When all the lights in the laboratory were out except for the flashing automatic guiding lights and the surroundings were absolutely silent, No. 277 reached out to touch the capsule wall.
Her slender white finger reached out to touch its inverted image on the transparent glass. The inverted reflection of her finger formed a pale oval— she had no fingerprints.
The rigid and cold sensation of the glass was novel, totally unlike the sensations of liquid flowing and syringes being injected.
No. 277 suddenly felt a sense of curiosity and pressed herself against the glass, carefully surveying everything beyond. It turns out that the outside was filled with many different and unknown objects.
After a long time, she pulled herself back. The glass couldn't withstand her strength and was making creaking sounds as it approached its shattering point.
From that day, No. 277 started to long for the night.
She noticed many details that she hadn't seen before, and all sorts of ideas popped up in her head. Her extraordinary hearing and eyesight allowed her to grasp the information she needed in an instant.
She learned the patrolling schedules and personnel shift change timing of the laboratory. Through bits of information she picked out from overhearing conversations, she learned about happenings in other laboratories and factories as well as figured out the layout of the entire Machine Loop.
She also knew—
Someone would be making a move tonight.
He was amongst the bunch of scholars, laughing away with them while at the same time tampering with some philosopher's stones which in the next moment exploded instantaneously.
A loud boom shook the entire building as flames engulfed everything. All the glass capsules in the laboratory shattered from the blast shortly after, sending glass shards flying in all directions.
The culprit had already obtained the required capsules at the same time and left quickly.
No. 277 got up from the ground and surveyed her surroundings.
Flames raged furiously, the heat causing the tips of her hair to curl up. She choked and trembled as sensation of acute pain she had never experienced before coursed through her body while making her heart pound rapidly.
She staggered forward, her entire body still dripping wet, her long waist-length hair plastered to her body.
She looked down at her own hands, harnessing the aether to dry herself. She then picked out the clothes and badge on one of the corpses.
The corpse was tossed into the fire, and with her assistance, it was incinerated in a flash.
She laid down and stared at the collapsing ceiling. Then, she quietly turned to the side, curling up, and started counting in her heart.
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An armed squad broke the door down.
A cool, damp wind breezed past No. 277's ears.
The stench of blood in the air was thick, but most people would only be able to discern the earthy scent of mud mixed with rain and other random smells.
Her white coat fluttered in the wind as she darted around this huge city whilst avoiding people like a wary feline.
But along this quiet yet clamorous street, No. 277 couldn't help starting to feel a sense of loss, while at the same time, her body temperature spiked rapidly.
A gentle twinkling light on this dark street made her halt in her tracks.
No. 277 jumped off the rooftop.
Her body swayed and her vision started to blur.
She suddenly felt as if she could see the huge gash on her chest.
Her body still required injections of sustenance fluids for it to maintain its stability. Although self-regulation on her own was possible, she would need time...
Before No. 277 finished her thoughts, her vision turned dark and she lost consciousness.
Lin Jie woke up in the middle of the night due to the dream realm being cut off.
He sat up in bed and gazed at the sword on the desk beside.
Lin Jie kneaded his temples and got down from the bed.
The vivid dream was still fresh in his mind.
When his hands came into contact with the sword stuck in Candela's chest, Lin Jie had even imagined the entirety of Candela's life in that short moment.
Glancing at the sword now actually gave Lin Jie an overwhelming sensation of familiarity.
"I must be still half asleep. Better go wash my face."
After washing his face in the washroom, Lin Jie suddenly realized that the rain outside seemed to have stopped. However, it seemed like something else was brewing. There seemed to be a glare of flames from outside the window as well as some sort of clamor from the distance.
Lin Jie really had enough of the horrendous weather this month and went downstairs to open the door with a slight hint of pleasant surprise.
Cool, crisp air after the rain hit him, making his entire body tingle.
The rain had indeed stopped.
Only some ponding water remained on the sides of the street, rippling with the wind.
Lin Jie took a deep breath and felt refreshed.
There seemed to be a fire faraway in the distance. Thick smoke was billowing up into the sky and a tall building collapsed with a loud crash, causing the ground to shake slightly.
Just as he was about to head out for a better look, he suddenly noticed a person lying on the ground nearby, as well as the blood staining the coat she had on.