Chapter 159: The Last Punishment
It was clearly just a small sentry tower but the moment it collapsed, the entire examination centre shook.
The scene at the top of the mountain split in an instant. Through the dust and smoke, a familiar metal fence and warehouse shaped building could be seen. The top of the building had the characters NA7232 painted.
This was the hidden main control centre.
The others may not be familiar with it but You Huo and Qin Jiu recognised it in one glance.
The scattered dust still carried scorching heat that could scald the skin.
You Huo raised his hand to block it. He could feel the tingling sensation through his gloves but his feet continued to move forward without hesitation.
Just as he approached it, the main control centre appeared to flicker a few times, like a video with bad signal.
This was then followed by the systems voice echoing throughout the examination centre:
【Examinee deliberately damaged core examination building hence seriously violating examination rules. As there are no punishment rooms in this exam, punishments will be given on the spot.】
【Punishment time: Three hours.】
【Punishment starts now.】
As soon as it finished speaking, there where constant hisses from the crowd.
You Huo felt a tingling sensation on his left arm. When he looked down, he saw that he had acquired an additional wound which was superimposed over an older wound. Bright red blood flowed out, quickly wetting the cuffs of his sleeves which had been rolled up to his elbow.
The injury looked like the one from before, as if it was cut by flying shrapnel.
He raised his eyes and saw that Qin Jiu also had an additional wound on his arm. Looking around, the left arm of everyone present was bloody.
Yu Wen clutched his arm jumping around crying in pain while Di Li clenched his teeth, silently enduring through it.
Zhao Jiatong reacted the fastest and quickly rushed into the car to get bandages for everyone. The faces of Gao Qi, 922 and 021 were similar to that of You Huo and Qin Jiu but it wasn’t a good expression…..
It wasn’t because of the pain. This group had experience worse things and weren’t afraid of pain.
“Did something fly by just now?” Gao Qi tore off his sleeve and haphazardly wiped off the blood.
021 looked around with vigilance. Her pretty dark eyes were extremely bright in the night. She glanced around and said, “No.”
“I don’t see it either.” 922 turned around and asked, “Boss, did you see anything?”
Qin Jiu shook off the blood on his arm and shook his head, “Nothing.”
You Huo furrowed his brows.
Please read this from kk translates
There were no attacks, no stray bullets, nothing. Yet more than 700 people were injured at the same time. This was far more terrifying than something visible and tangible.
You Huo received the bandages from Zhao Jiatong but just as he was about to wrap his wound, he saw that it had slowly closed up again. The blood coagulated and, in a blink of an eye, it had turned into a scab and fallen off cleanly.
If it weren’t for the blood stains on the sleeves and the pain that had not yet subsided, he would have almost suspected that it was just an illusion.
There was another exclamation from the crowd. Clearly, he wasn’t the only one experiencing this.
“What kind of punishment is this?” Someone asked amongst the gasps.
This question was unfortunately unable to be answered. Before everyone had the chance to think about it, a new injury had appeared on their bodies.
This time, it was on the side of their necks.
The neck was the most fragile and most vital part. The faces of the timider examinees turned pale as they held their necks.
Some pressed onto their necks desperately while looking terrified. They were afraid that the wound would reach the artery and they would really end up dying here.
Fortunately, the injury didn’t last long. It once again disappeared after a few seconds, leaving only pain.
With both the arm and neck in pain, many examinees didn’t know which to pay more attention to.
In just a few minutes, small wounds continued to appear on their bodies and they also continued to heal very quickly afterwards. The locations became more and more uncomfortable and everyone’s complexion grew worse and worse.
Soon, a woman screamed out.
At that moment, everyone felt a sharp pain in their left chest, piercing through their collarbones. This pain came so suddenly, many of then bent down in pain whilst clutching their collar. Some had even fallen down onto their knees with their heads on the ground as they gasped in pain.
How could the pain be described…….
It was like someone was holding an invisible knife, slowly pushing it deeper and deeper into the skin, closer and closer to the heart.
Even You Huo took a step back, leaning against the tree trunk. He bowed his head and closed his eyes to endure the pain.
After opening his eyes a few moments later, his vision had become blurred because of the pain and it was difficult to focus. He could only see blood pouring out his chest, staining his shirt.
This feeling was not unfamiliar to him. When he tried to kill the Duke in the castle, he had done something like this —– Holding Qin Jiu’s hand and plunging the knife into his chest.
He could even recall the feeling of his heart beating against the blade. It was just like how it felt right now.
Those few minutes felt like a century and it was difficult to tell whether the blood was still flowing because the shirt was completely stained.
It should have stopped, You Huo thought this.
Because they now had a new wound.
There were now large wounds on his arms, shoulders and waist. They spread and deepened at a speed visible to the naked eye until even the bones underneath were exposed. Soon, the flesh merged together again, and everything healed up.
And then it was the eyes………
Accompanied with a sharp sting, the world plunged into darkness. The feeling at this moment was extremely familiar.
Then there were small cuts on his shoulders, back and arms. The most dangerous one cut across his jaw down along the neck to his collarbone.
There was a layer of frost at the edge of each wound, as if it was inflicted in an extremely cold environment.
This was the most painful but also the cleanest of all the wounds because the blood had already hardened before it could flow out.
You Huo suddenly understood what this punishment was about.
Someone started to cry. He could faintly hear some sobbing. Despite the wounds disappearing soon afterwards, the pain was still there. Layering upon each other, someone finally couldn’t take it anymore.
Moaning and sobbing seemed to come in tides. It soon spread amongst the whole group.
Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was about to break down.
Cold sweat trickled down from his temples. You Huo blinked his temporarily blind eyes as his pale lips were pursed into a straight line.
He suddenly felt a little sorry……
At that moment, someone’s finger touched his face. It was very light.
Then it was his arm, and shoulder…….
Someone had fumbled over in the dark and pulled him into a tight embrace. That person asked in a hoarse voice, “Is this going back in time, Big Invigilator?”
“Is this punishment going back through all the injuries you have suffered?”
You Huo’s lips trembled slightly.
Qin Jiu’s fingers landed on his closed eyes. It was so light, it was as if he didn’t dare touch them. His voice was hoarse, low and dry, “Did your eyes hurt like this too……?”
After a while, You Huo replied with a similarly hoarse voice, “It’s okay.”
“And also these frostbites.” Qin Jiu’s fingers moved to his chin, “When was this? Why are there so many……and why didn’t I know about it?”
The sense of blindness slowly subsided. You Huo readjusted to the world that had reappeared.
He vaguely saw a point of light. It was very small, like a star far away. When everything finally became clear, he realised that it came from Qin Jiu’s eyes.
You Huo endured through the pain and suddenly leaned in to kiss Qin Jiu.
He moved slightly back and said, “It was from a long time ago, before you entered the system. I have already forgotten the reason for it. Probably wasn’t careful enough during training.”
Qin Jiu had the same injuries on his body. Everything You Huo had gone through, Qin Jiu was going through them now.
When the wounds appeared on his body, he could ignore it but seeing it appear on the other persons body made him feel uncomfortable.
He wanted it to quickly end.
You Huo rested against Qin Jiu’s shoulder for a while before straightening up again, “The punishment will last three hours. It’s not even half of that yet.”
He turned his head and looked around. Most of the people there couldn’t hold on anymore. They were either kneeling or crouching and had seemed to lose their abilities to think from the pain. Only a few invigilators were able to remain sober.
“It won’t do like this. We have to go in.” His gaze moved over to the collapsed tower. The image of the main control centre flickered in and out and seemed to be more and more unstable.
Qin Jiu pinched the bridge of his nose. The repeated injuries had made them both very tired.
He looked up at the top of the mountain and said, “Remember the scene with the Mirror Humans? When 154 tried to transfer us to the other examination centre, the scene of the street looked just like this. That time it was because of program interference making it too unstable but this time it’s the opposite….”
He frowned as another new wound appeared and the pain worsened. He breathed out gently and continued, “The system is trying to stabilise the examination room and hide the main control centre again.”
The two spoke as they tried to get closer to that place.
The main control centre was like it had a bad connection. It would always appear for a very short moment, and each time it appeared, it would never exceed one second.
Qin Jiu took out his phone and saw that 154 had been trying to contact them for a while now.
『Boss, 922 hasn’t been replying so I tried to establish a connection with your phone. Can you see this?』
『Boss, how are you all?』
『Have you entered the main control centre?』
『I’m trying to break into the examination centre right now. Give me some time.』
For 154, anything that went against the system was a huge risk.
Qin Jiu immediately replied.
『Breaking in is too dangerous, we don’t need it for the time being. Just create some chaos and we will use that opportunity to enter the main control centre.』
Please read this from kk translates
Soon, the other side replied with a message. It was just one word:
In the abandoned hotel in the rest stop, Chu Yue flexed her fingers as she said to 154, “Make some chaos to make the examination centre unstable?”
154 nodded, “Yes. Do you have any ideas?”
“You don’t need to touch the system’s core. Just take over the speakers like you did just now.” Chu Yue suggested.
“What do you want to do?”
“Take a big gamble.” Chu Yue sat up and picked up the notebook for forming teams, “A left the notebook with me so that I can use it if needed. It’s almost time.”
“Who should I broadcast to this time?” 154 asked.
Chu Yue shook her notebook and said, “The whole system. Everyone.”
154’s expression froze with shock. After a while, he slowly gave a thumbs up, “You’re really crazy.”
Five minutes later, a team invitation sounded throughout the system. In the Invigilator’s District, the rest stops and in tens of thousands of examination centres, everyone heard it.
As soon as this invitation was sent, 154 and Chu Yue guarded the screen before them, waiting for a response.
At this very moment, every minute and every second seemed particularly long.
They waited for a long time. Just as they thought that they should think of another method, a message suddenly appeared on the screen.
The sender of the message was Invigilator 061. The content was:
『Four examinees from examination centre 9213 would like to voluntarily join the team along with Invigilators 061 and 279. The list is as follows—-』
After that were six unfamiliar names.
This message was like it had pressed a switch. More and more messages flooded in one after another.
『A total of 11 people from examination centre 0812.』
『A total of 8 people from examination centre 0227.』
『A total of 28 people from examination centre 1139』
In the examination centre, You Huo and Qin Jiu stood under the remnants of the white tower.
The systems main control centre had not appeared for the past few minutes. It was as if the system had managed to forcefully stabilise the examination centre, forcing shut the small opening from earlier.
At this moment, the entire examination system suddenly started to shake again like it was struck by an earthquake.
You Huo wiped away the blood from his lips and exchanged a look with Qin Jiu.
This was very unexpected. They were curious about what method 154 had used.
Suddenly, Qin Jiu caught sight of a dark shadow from the corner of his eyes. He quickly looked over.
He squinted for a moment before raising his weapon and confirming again through the scope. He finally poked You Huo’s face and pointed in the distance, “My dear, look over there.”
You Huo was stunned when he saw it.
At the edge of the forest, figures appeared out of thin air. After a rough count……Forget it, it was impossible to count them all.
Qin Jiu’s phone vibrated again. He looked down and saw 154’s message.
『They all voluntarily joined the team. As of now, there are 3642 people in total.』
The first reaction of You Huo’s was to think of something the system had said: 【This examination centre is a solo exam. During this time, only one examinee can take the examination here. After the examinee enters the venue, the entrance to this centre will be closed to other examinees.】
But he then realised that they could appear here because they had joined the team. All 3642 people are essentially him, there are no other examinees.
This move may seem excessive at first, but it didn’t violate the rules.
The examination centre that could only accommodate one examinee was now packed with more than 4,000 of them. It would be impossible for it to remain stable.
As new examinees continued to join, the more people there were, the more the ground shook.
Ten seconds later, the scene of the main control centre finally reappeared. It still flickered but it now appeared longer than before.
Qin Jiu put away his phone and tilted his head. The two walked over side by side.
One stood on each side like a bridge forcibly and firmly connecting the examination room and the main control centre.
Examinees could now be at ease and rush through that entrance.
For You Huo and Qin Jiu, the process of guarding this entrance was actually very difficult. The different spaces pulled their left and right arms, tearing them in two opposite directions. Every joint was in pain, like countless blades slashing through.
This junction was also very cold. It was as if all the blood in the body had been drained and there were no traces of heat left.
Cold and pain worked hand in hand, just like those frostbites that had appeared on the body earlier.
In fact, You Huo had lied. Those injuries were not from before Qin Jiu entering the system but from after he had left.
That was the first time the system had punished him. It was in the core of the Twin Towers, with the reason being that he had an overly intimate relationship with an examinee. The content of the punishment was to repair a severely malfunctioning attack program which had been sealed inside an abandoned examination centre.
Blizzard persisted nonstop in the examination centre and what was fiercer than the blizzard was the program’s indiscriminate attacks.
That was probably the coldest place he had ever been in his life.
Carrying a body riddled with injuries, he managed to successfully disable all twelve attack centres. When he finally had the chance to breathe, perhaps it was because the world was too quiet, he somehow suddenly remembered the moment he met Qin Jiu for the first time——
Standing on the edge of a red tiled roof, that man looked down at him with eyes filled with light, much like the blazing sun.
That day amidst the blizzard, Invigilator A slowly stood up.
He thought, he had seen a very bright and passionate person. Just relying on this, he felt that he could endure through this harsh, cold winter.
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KK has something to say:
OMG You Huo 😭