Chapter 1225: The Brain Eater and the Crystal Skull
Translator: Sean88888 Editor: Elkassar1
Frequent earthquakes had begun to cause panic among the masses. In scientific terms, this phenomenon was explained as: half the block faults beneath the earth’s crust were moving frequently, and the entire Pacific plate was showing signs of collapse…. In San Francisco, the area where San Andreas Fault activities were most likely to occur, there had been 16 earthquakes over 5.0 in magnitude, with 136 reported deaths.
Considering these facts, even if the authorities were still trying their hardest to suppress the news, the airship tickets sold by the base were getting more in demand every day.
The base had already sold more than 50,000 tickets up to now. The first test flight of a complete airship formation had been performed and thoroughly scrutinised, with the intention of giving the ticket purchasers some assurances. They had invited thousands of future passengers to observe the test flight.
It truly was an impressive sight. After all, each airship was 318 meters in length, 60 meters in diameter, 300 tons in weight, and 300,000 cubic meters in volume. Each airship also carried 30 rope ladders that could roll up automatically. The length of the central airship at the core of the formation had even reached 500 meters!
They had decided to increase the carrying capacity of each ordinary airship to 5,000, while reducing the carrying capacity of the core airships to 1,000. This was mainly because the passengers of the core airships were all people of high status, so they had a higher requirement for comfort. Furthermore, the core airships were responsible for transporting most of the food, machinery and other supplies. Even with these restrictions, the expected carrying capacity of each airship formation was still as high as around 35,000 people.
Imagine seven of these behemoths together, with about 150 meters of spacing between each of them. The whole formation could cover a mid-sized park!
Because they had to keep a low profile, the airship formation’s flying height during the test flight was controlled at 50 meters from the ground. Even so, the giant airships with large amounts of rope ladders hanging off them was quite an overwhelming sight. Coupled with the deafening roar of the engines, the whole exhibition had given the observers quite a bit of shock!
Those who were invited to watch the ceremony were naturally all people of high status. After the enormous lifting force produced by the balloons stretched the steel cables of the hanging carriage taut, the observers were guided into an airship for an inspection. They were first brought to inspect the worst kind of cabins, the ones with many people living together in a large area. Next, they were brought to visit the ordinary cabins, and finally the so-called VIP compartments.
If they had taken these VIPs directly to their customised rooms from the very beginning, these VIPs who were used to staying in presidential suites would surely find fault with the rooms. However, humans were animals that could make comparisons. Having visited the large rooms that had shared toilets and bathrooms as well as limited water supply, they were deeply satisfied when they saw the rooms prepared for them. They felt that their money had been very well spent.
Most importantly, they had also witnessed the ability of the core airship to disconnect from any of the sub-airships at any given time, which undoubtedly enhanced their sense of security, and also their sense of superiority — it was a powerful feeling, having control over the lives of others.
The ceremony gave rise to another wave of frenzied ticket sales. A great deal of humans and material resources began to congregate in this abandoned factory area in the suburb of New York. Even the rent of accommodation in the vicinity of the factory area had spiked by 1300%, a clear evidence of the base’s popularity.
The red light on the phone in front of Sheyan lit up, accompanied by a beeping sound. This special telephone was personally encrypted by Dr. Octopus to guard against wiretapping. Professor X’s gentle but slightly tired voice came from the other end.
“I’m calling to discuss two things with you, Mr. Seaman. We find that there may be a big problem regarding the boarding process. The number of people holding our tickets has surged to 200,000. Thanks to the sudden increase in wealth and manpower, our productivity has greatly improved. We estimate that we can build 14 airship formations in total, thus saving nearly half a million lives. But this is all predicated on one premise — the time and location of the beginning of the apocalypse that you provided is correct. Are you absolutely sure of it? If it happens earlier than expected, a large number of innocent people will die.”
“I’m sure, professor. But won’t expanding production bring additional troubles? Like your enemies, for examples. Their power can easily cause terrible and devastating blows to us. And there are also those bastards from our world who are trying to correct the course of history,” asked Sheyan.
Magneto interjected in their conversation and said in a solemn tone, “Those guys are just loners, Seaman. They’re not executioners, not butchers. The flying vehicle built by the Hulk and Batman can only carry a few hundred people. They’ve been a lot more reserved in their actions after they saw what we’re doing. I don’t think they’ll come and cause trouble for us anymore. Surely they don’t want to the post-apocalyptic Earth to contain just hundreds of people. The war between us may still continue in the future, but not now.”
“As for the people who came from the same place you do – those that are trying to correct history – they should be heading to China right about now. We’ve already heard reliable news which confirm that China has indeed made thousands of ark replicas! Those people know we’re no easy targets, so compared to us, they seem more willing to deal with China despite the distance. The U.S. government has also taken a breather and has tried to get in touch with us to see if there’s any possibility of cooperation. If we can reach an agreement, we might even consider assisting the government in quickly setting up a production line for airships.”
“I see,” said Sheyan. “I can confirm that the end of the world has been delayed. It’ll no longer start on December 21, 2012, but three hundred hours later. The first area of disaster will be in the Gulf of California, followed by the areas along the San Andreas Fault.”
“New York will have two more hours of buffer time before it’ll experience half an hour of earthquakes of magnitude 10 or higher. After that, the survivors will have about three hours to catch their breaths. After that, the last memory they will have before they die will be a terrifying tsunami so high it’ll almost cover the entire sky….”
“Got it,” Professor X had heard Sheyan describe the apocalypse more than once, but his voice was still shaking, filled with pain. “How are you guys doing over there? Do you need help?”
“Everything’s going fine,” answered Sheyan as he looked at Kulutego next to him. Kulutego was currently disguised as a fat kid and was chewing on Old Beijing Chicken Rolls, red ketchup smeared all over his mouth. His free hand was pressed to a hard wall.
Under the action of Kulutego’s power, the wall slowly came crumbling down. The wall, which could withstand even nuclear attacks, appeared so vulnerable in front of the two-headed cyclops’ power. Kulutego took another bite of the chicken roll while he impatiently dug through the decomposed sand to find the steel bars inside, which he broke. When his hand got deeper in, a sharp alarm sounded.
But Sheyan still appeared very calm. In this secret place disguised as a resort, 87 guards, armed to the teeth, stood on duty. They were the ones the alarm was trying to alert. However, these guards had currently all lost their ability to move and speak. They had all been firmly tied up by No. 7 with the method that the Ndipaya natives use to bind their prey.
Finally, a safe that was surrounded by six meters of reinforced concrete was dug out. The information they had said that if the safe door was not opened in the correct way, its content would be forcefully destroyed. Sheyan, who did not have the safe’s password, did not want to risk it, so he broke a hole through the back of the safe instead.
There were a lot of things in the safe, but Sheyan’s eyes settled on a plain-looking gemstone. He illuminated it with a flashlight. The light went through multiple reflections inside the gemstone and finally formed a weird image of a vertical pupil. When Sheyan lightly shook the flashlight, the light which formed the pupil moved like fire!!
“Looks like we found another authentic one,” Zi could not help sighing as she remarked, “Wow, it’s so beautiful!”
She marveled with an admiration for glittering jewelry unique to women and dragons, “The ‘Eye of Quetzalcoatl’. Even after it was forcibly pried off, it still retains its dignified characteristic. A legendary work of art that cannot possibly be counterfeited, at least not by present day’s level of craftsmanship. The U.S. government hides it really well and simply refuses to display it. I remember that in the real world, a conglomerate made a heavy sacrifice in exchange for a glimpse of the real thing, but the government surprisingly went back on their words.”
Old Charlie walked in at that moment. Ramtas followed behind him with an ordinary-looking box in his hands.
“The ‘Dagger of the Golden Priest’ is also shipped here together with the ‘Eye of Quetzalcoatl’, just like we expected. Together with the ‘Indian Chief’s Fanged Mask’ we found in San Antonio, we’ve met the requirements for ‘The Great Collector’ title. Do we still need to look for the ‘Crystal Skull’?”
“Why not?” replied Sheyan. “The Realm is always generous to those who can complete a mission perfectly. Besides, this is a job without competitors, at least not in America. Where’s the location of the ‘Crystal Skull’? Oh wow, it’s actually in the hands of a private collector, a private collector with a really long name – Jakaya Mrisho Hassan Mwini Kikwete. We have to hurry up. We should try and settle the matter before the FBI finds him. It’s not a good idea to keep going against the authorities.”
Seeing the desire in the eyes of Zi and Melody when they stare at the ‘Eye of Quetzalcoatl’, Sheyan resolutely decided against safeguarding the object himself.
Dr. Octopus suddenly called them at that moment to enquire about something.
“Seaman, I remember you told me before that after the apocalypse, Africa’s Cape of Good Hope will become the world’s highest peak, and there won’t be any major changes to the overall terrain of the United States, right?”
“Correct,” answered Sheyan, “The North American plate will be like a biscuit snapped in two; most of it will still be intact.”
“Excellent,” said Dr. Octopus excitedly, “We have an astonishing amount of resources here, and there are so many things that I wish to keep. I plan to find a few waterproof underground warehouses in the most stable inland areas and stuff some things in them. As long as one of the warehouses make it through safely, we’ll be able to save years, maybe even decades, of future hardship when we rebuild human civilization.”
“Great idea!” remarked Sheyan, “I think you can just ask the government about it. The readily-available fallout shelters only need some simple modifications to achieve really good waterproof effect. We should indeed preserve as much of human civilization as we can. Okay, there’s something I need to do right now. I’ll talk to you later.”
The home of Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Hassan Mwini Kikwete – or just Jakaya for short – was in a suburb of Detroit, a pretty remote place. The villa that was painted blue and white stood exquisitely in the shade of greeneries. The lawn near the entrance had been carefully mown. Under the intense 4:00 p.m. sun, it presented a scenery reminiscent of nineteenth-century impressionist oil paintings –
– if there weren’t a few corpses lying on the lawn and a few police cars parked there disorderly, that is.
Step on the brake, shift to neutral gear, turn off the engine, and pull the hand brake — Sheyan completed this series of actions in one smooth motion and jumped down from the car. His actions were not much different than usual, but he was clearly on high alert.
Reef was also on guard. He stood protectively in front of Zi, Sanzi and Melody while Sheyan formed the vanguard with Ramtas and No. 7, both of whom could be resurrected.
Sheyan moved cautiously to the lawn. After some quick inspection, he concluded, “It appears that the FBI were a little faster than us, but they’ve met with some trouble.”
While he spoke, he moved to the police car and immediately affirmed his conjecture. There was a corpse in the driver’s seat. The facial expression on the corpse was distorted, like the person had been frightened to death. The car was in reverse gear and the steering wheel had been turned several times, but the police no longer had the strength to release the hand brake.
Sheyan bent down to examine the corpse and touched the exposed skin of the corpse with his fingers. Something that seemed like tendrils instantly penetrated into the corpse.
“The identity of the deceased is….a first-class detective. His gun shows signs of having been fired, which means that the person we’ll be facing shortly is likely immune to bullets. Wait, this guy’s cause of death is actually….”
Sheyan had a shocked expression. He gave the corpse’s head a kick, and the head immediately shattered. Inside the skull were bones, body fluid and blood, but nothing else. Even the spinal cord in the spine could not be seen.
The man’s brain and spinal cord had bizarrely disappeared like they had been sucked clean!
“What the hell caused this? A variant of the Vampire? A Brain Eater? A Mind Flayer?” speculated Sheyan with a scowl.
At that moment, No. 7 repeatedly spat out his lizard-like long, red tongue as he made some noises which sounded like “ah ah ah” at Reef. Reef told Sheyan, “He said he just sensed a very unique aura leaving.”
Sheyan thought for a while before he said, “Zi will come with me. Reef will protect Sanzi and go with Kulutego to the top of that tall slope over there, where you’ll have a wider view and can monitor the enemy’s movements. Melody will prepare some magic to control the enemy. Make sure that you’re always within range of Reef’s ‘Holy Grasp’. Remember, we’re here for the ‘Crystal Skull’, not to kill anyone.”
All members of the party immediately went to work like well-oiled gears following Sheyan’s arrangement. Sheyan continued moving into the villa. He walked to the front door with Zi by his side. Despite the eerie, gloomy atmosphere, Zi was somehow feeling a little happy. She hoped she could keep walking side by side with this man until the end of eternity.
Sheyan pushed open the front door of the villa.
Zi maintained her calm countenance, but blinding sparks were dancing on top of her fingertips. She had mentally prepared herself for whatever was behind the door, but the tragic sight she saw still made her frown.
That’s because there were simply too many people who lay dead in the living room! All their faces were twisted. Although most of them were policemen and FBIs in black suits, there were also servants, elderly, and even little girls!
All of them had the same cause of death – their brains and spinal cords were missing. The bullet holes left on the walls showed that there had been a fierce gun fight here, but it seemed like the bullets were ineffective against the culprit. They had either all missed, or could not harm the culprit.
They hurried to the second floor but found no one there besides more corpses. After Sheyan caught a glimpse of the family portrait, he declared with confidence, “Everyone in this large family had died in this villa except for the Mr. Jakaya that we’re looking for.”
Zi knew Sheyan had always had an exceptional memory, so she trusted Sheyan’s judgment.
They searched the inside and outside of the villa once more. After confirming that the murderer had indeed gone away, they signalled to the rest of the party that it was safe to come in. No. 7 and Ramtas were sent outside to stand guard.
Although the party seemed to have returned to their usual demeanour, their every action carried a cautiousness which was not there before Mogensha’s death. They moved carefully like they were treading on thin ice, for fear of suffering the pain of losing a comrade once again.
Next, of course, was a more careful and thorough search. They did not come here for the purpose of solving a case or bringing justice to the dead; they merely wanted to get their hands on the ‘Crystal Skull’ and leave without doing anything else. During the search, Sanzi found a hospital file from a drawer. He pulled out some of the content to take a look. What he saw completely stunned him. He instantly called everyone over.
The file contained a stack of CT scan films. The name of the patient stated on them was Jakaya’s.
The CT scan results looked normal at first, not much different from a normal person’s, but towards the back, the skull of the patient on the CT films slowly turned into a weird shape. In a CT scan taken two days ago, the silhouette of the skull was exactly the same as the ‘Crystal Skull’ they were looking for.
“What the hell is happening?” They were all shocked to see the ‘Crystal Skull’ carved by the Mayans replacing a human’s skull, growing directly inside Jakaya’s head! Something as bizarre as this was completely unfathomable if they had not seen it with their own eyes.
The ‘Crystal Skull’ was a sacred object carved by the Mayans. From a mystical point of view, it could be considered a ritual tool, so it had some characteristics that were obviously very different compared to modern human skulls. Furthermore, they had Jakaya’s earlier CT scans as reference, so they could easily make the judgment.
Sheyan said after a moment of silent pondering, “Legend has it that the ‘Crystal Skulls’ contain mysterious powers. There are also rumours that the ‘Crystal Skulls’ are related to the 2012 apocalypse. There are said to be thirteen ‘Crystal Skulls’ in total, and they contain information about the origin and death of humankind; they can help mankind solve the mystery of lives in the universe. Mankind must find all thirteen skulls by December 21, 2012, the day that the Mayan calendar, which has been circulating for 5126 years, ends. The Earth will fly off its axis unless all 13 skulls are gathered and placed in the right arrangement. Only in that way can the supernatural power of the skulls save the Earth. Jakaya’s change may be related to this legend.”
“What about those who died here? Is Jakaya the murderer? Heck, his son and granddaughter are among the victims!” exclaimed Reef incredulously.
“If my guess is right, Jakaya can no longer be considered a human, so he’s naturally no longer bound by human emotions. During my inspection, I noticed that the residents of this villa had died at least five hours earlier than the FBI. What I’m curious about is why he still remained in this villa after sucking out the brains of all these people, and only left in a hurry right before we got here,” said Sheyan.
“I’ll ask Kulutego to keep looking,” said Sanzi.
No hidden compartments could escape the detection of the two-headed cyclops and his power unless there was nothing associated with the earth near them. A hidden compartment about the size of a wardrobe was soon discovered. There was a mirror inside that was eerily covered in blood, and a scarcely legible diary beside it.
“Some changes have occurred in the ‘Crystal Skull’. I can sense it very clearly.”
“Is the end of the world really approaching?”
“It’s resonating! Yes, it’s resonating! Can the legend of the thirteen skulls be true?”
“I can’t gaze into its eyes anymore. Rumour has it that the skulls were used by the Mayans to hypnotise the patients before an operation. Something seems to be calling out to me.”
“My head! It hurts! I have to gaze into its eyes; I can’t stand this damn pain anymore! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!”
“Why do I think this damn Crystal Skull look so delicious?”
“Am I seeing things? Just now, in the illusion, the Crystal Skull was burned red-hot and thrown into water. It then broke down into powder and….the priest gained eternal life!”
“It’s worth a gamble. I already have late stage lymphoma anyway. I only have three more months to live.”
“The Black Crystal Skull. I see it. Is that the power that has been calling out to me? Is that the voice that has been echoing in my heart?”
“O Great God, I will worship your portrait day and night, I will bare my entire body and soul to you!”
“Master… Summon… Provide nutrient… ”
The scribbles on the diary fully showed Sheyan and the rest to what extent a person would go for the sake of survival. To break the ‘Crystal Skull’ down into powder and eat it in order to gain eternal life sounded like a joke, but Jakaya had actually done it.
They also concluded that the skull was definitely not made of crystal, but of an unknown substance. After it was broken down into powder and consumed, it slowly turned Jakaya’s skull into the same “crystal”. No matter how one looked at it, it was something a parasite would do – a rather unusual kind of parasite.
“It seems like the guy was being led on by a “Black Crystal Skull”,” said Sheyan.
“It’s very likely that the guy did everything under psychological suggestions and psychological guidance, which means that he’s being controlled like a puppet. Well, there’s no other way. We have to catch him, cut off his head, and use his skull to complete the mission. Can you track him down, Melody?”
“I think so. He has a strong rotten, dirty, bloody and dark smell on him. I can easily find him with a Madoka Tree Spirit,” answered Melody, her voice clear and melodious.
After a string of chants, a small tree next to them pulled out its roots while its branches rapidly grew. It then bent into the shape of a centaur, but unlike the usual centaur, its skin was a tender green and it had the upper body of a girl. It joyfully walked ahead to play the role of a hunting hound.
The Madoka Tree Spirit easily found the path Jakaya took to run away. Trampled grass and leaves may not be that conspicuous, but the same could not be said of the animal and human corpses occasionally left along the way.
All the bodies had a point in common. When their heads were stomped on, it would be revealed that they were hollow inside. Their heads were nothing more than empty shells.
With the tree spirit leading the way, the group chased after Jakaya in a straight line. They were fortunately not ordinary people, or they would have been completely exhausted by the various obstacles they faced along the way.
After crossing over some mountains that were neither high nor steep, a vast wilderness could be seen in front of them.
The wild west.
A railway split the wilderness in two like a zipper. Since there was a railway, there was naturally a necessity to maintain it. Therefore, there were many residences here for the railway maintenance staff. The residents had stable work and thus strong spending power, so an administrative unit like a town gradually formed here.
When the tree spirit led Party Ace to this town-like area, what they saw was an extremely tragic situation. To be precise, what they saw was a crazed massacre of humans, as food!
More than half the residences had died in the streets! They now noticed something they had not noticed in the corpses they previously encountered because those had been dead for too long. Now that they had fresh corpses for reference, they could clearly see that those people had died after something about as thick as an electrical wire stabbed into their bodies.
A thick, nauseating smell permeated through the air. It was the smell of boiling brains! It was even more disgusting than the smell of blood.
Sheyan walked at the very front of the party as usual. Suddenly, the window of a building in front of them shattered, and out flew a dark silhouette. The silhouette was sent flying by Zi’s ‘Force Collision-Wall’. When they looked closely, they discovered that it was a human on the verge of death.
Of course, now that he was hit hard by Zi’s attack, he was instantly killed.
Following that, several corpses were thrown out of the window. Party Ace could not be sure if all of them were really corpses, so they could only retreat.
One of the corpses suddenly bounced up right after landing!
A large number of blood vessels shot out of the surface of his body. Every blood vessel was green in colour, as thick as an electrical wire, and at least two meters long. They wriggled through the air like they were swimming in water. It was quite a bizarre yet disgusting sight.
Sheyan was not afraid at all. He kicked the weird monster in the chest hard. The kick was so fast that before the blood vessels that were dancing wildly could get close, they were already flying away together with the monster.
A large depression appeared on the monster’s chest. He let out a strange cry of agony. However, he did not seem like he had learned his lesson at all. He continued to pounce towards Sheyan, but this time, his eyes were shining with a cunning glint.
Sheyan also moved towards him, but suddenly, two of the corpses beside Sheyan leaped up and held tightly to his legs.
They could now see that the two corpses had been stabbed by the monster’s “vascular connection” in the back, and had become the monster’s puppets.
Sheyan’s face remained expressionless. He exerted some force on his legs, and the arms of the two corpses immediately broke with a crack. However, his movement had obviously slowed down because of this. With a cry, the monster pierced a large green blood vessel into Sheyan’s shin!
The tip of the blood vessel looked very soft, but like the mouthpiece of a mosquito, it could easily penetrate through skin and muscles! It tried to squirm even further inside while greedily absorbing Sheyan’s blood.
In that instant, Sheyan felt the wrath of the ‘Stairway of the Sun’, who detected that its “territory” had been invaded. Its tendril curled violently around the invading blood vessel! The blood vessel lasted only less than three seconds before it could not bear the entanglement of the tendril anymore and retracted back with lightning speed!
They witnessed the blood vessel that had sucked Sheyan’s blood rapidly turn red. The blood vessel was originally green in colour, but it was now as red as a heated steel bar. It then started cracking; the cracks extending like a spider web. It convulsed slightly following the rhythm of the heartbeat, and then expanded rapidly! When the expansion reached its limit, the blood vessel naturally burned, burst and self-destruct!
Sheyan had undoubtedly caused great damage to the monster!
The monster let out a sorrowful scream and fell to the ground. After rolling back up, he ran with both hands on the ground like a chimpanzee, trying to flee.
When he took the heavy blow just now, they all saw his head shine from the inside, and the shadow of the crystal skull within could be seen.
The monster fled really fast. He bounced up and down and disappeared in the distance in the blink of an eye. Sheyan had no intention of chasing after him. He looked to the side and asked his party, “Did you guys notice?”
Out stepped Old Charlie from a shelter nearby. He replied, “I did. Freddy specialises in illusion and mental power, so he could feel that something was continuously affecting that guy’s thoughts and brain waves, making him do things that deviate from normal behaviours. Things like eating the ‘Crystal Skull’ powder are definitely not what normal people would do.”
Sanzi held several pictures he had just taken. “Let’s check if there’s anything else out of the ordinary!”
From the monster’s clothes, they could basically confirm that he was indeed Jakaya. His brutality, coldness and viciousness were vividly captured in the photographs. They could see from the photos that there were changes to his fleeing figure. His hands and feet had grown longer to help him run away faster, while his stomach had bulged like the bloated belly of a starving man. They could also see that he was deliberately protecting his stomach, as if there was something really important inside.
Sheyan fell into contemplation looking at these photos.
“Interesting. This is the first time I’ve seen a puppet controlled by a crystal skull like Jakaya. Judging from his behaviour, could it be possible that only one tenth of the brain matters and spinal cords Jakaya absorbed was for his own use, while the remaining was kept in his stomach to be given to the owner of the Black Crystal Skull?”
Sheyan suddenly paused and frowned before he continued, “For some reason, I have a feeling that we might discover something really big if we keep digging. Once the real identity of the owner of the Black Crystal Skull is revealed, it might give us a huge surprise.”
Zi frowned too. “You mean we might discover a side mission? But we have no need for that at the moment.”
“No,” replied Sheyan, “When the ‘Stairway of the Sun’ came into contact with the monster’s blood vessel just now, I don’t know why, but I felt a vague sense of familiarity. I feel like I’ve probably met the owner of the Black Crystal Skull before, but it should be a very shallow level of contact, or I definitely would’ve remembered it.”