The same situation was not only occurring in Beijing, but also on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
“What? Sea monsters?”
This must be a ridiculous joke; in a democratic nation such as the United States of America, the level of faith people had in the government varied under different circumstances.
The ability wielders who’d decided to affiliate themselves with the state were either those who were filled with eager and questionable ambitions, or those too tired to oversee the general chaos. They’d prefer to have someone take care of them and the messy details, all while spending their days occasionally intimidating the ill-willed and fulfilling a hero complex. And so, while these ability users received an answer almost immediately, they were enraged because they thought they were being fooled over.
“Those bastards still think it’s a time when money can get them everything! Why should we show them any care?”
“What do they mean by ‘it’s none of our concern’, those arrogant pricks!”
“Like shit, tanks are useless metal! Get a few good guns and carry some bullets ‘round, we could go get ‘em anywhere!”
Those who could hear the infrasonic waves were all powerful, and plenty of them had their self-confidence swelling up these days. They all had their own little schemes as well; this was an opportunity for those problems to erupt. Many of the ability users who were dissatisfied to begin with fell into some sort of agreement after talking with each other.
Since it was the apocalypse, it was difficult to predict what the future entailed. The climate was irregular, meaning only a limited number of plants could be farmed and harvested. In comparison to staying here and living at the whims of the ‘higher ups’, they might as well try and start something elsewhere. The government? Political parties? Monopolies on Wall Street? They were all jokes to be told— as if anyone could still buy anything with money nowadays. The most precious items were now food and medicine, then clothing and blankets, and guns and ammunition; these couldn’t even be found through trade anymore. Only through robbery could one get them.
A lot of things had been silently changing, but at the beginning, nobody paid them much attention.
In the base on the outskirts of Beijing, a dozen or so ability users’ jaws dropped as they listened to what seemed like a legend out of The Arabian Nights.
“…On satellites and regarding countershading, the West had a head start and had been developing much quicker than us. International relationships were rocky and the waters between the East and South China Seas are limited in depth, rarely exceeding 100m, so it was difficult for nuclear submarines to maneuver there. With just America alone, their satellites went all over the place underwater, practically trying to turn it inside out. They’ve also tried the sonic location system, so…”
An old professor from the Academy of Science flipped through binders and documents with glowing eyes. After all, rarely did he have the chance to present the culmination of his research and achievements, so he was becoming more and more excited as he spoke. “These mysterious creatures have, of course, long been discovered.”
The ability users stared at the stacks of folders, completely dumbfounded.
“…There’s this many?”
“Well, these are the documents that record the appearances of these sea monsters, as well as notes on their infrasonic waves.” The professor continued to loudly flip through the papers, shaking his head in the process. “Mmh, the Americans still like to hide their discoveries of strange things. First, it was Area 51 that studied aliens, then they established another special research institution dedicated to researching the origins of sea monsters… as if they were secrets that belonged to their country. Not even all the higher government officials were allowed to know this… but keeping this supposedly top secret was a huge failure in the end!”
Pushing up his glasses, the professor smiled. “Because these sea monsters exposed themselves!”
Quickly, he took out a few laminated documents and laid them on the table. The title was bolded and in red, and the professor’s fingers trailed through the letters.
“The West has named all of the sea monsters that they’ve discovered— this was the first one!”
In a blurry picture taken underwater, an octopus with striped shadows on its body could be seen.
“This doesn’t seem like much, but notice the shadows on its head— You see this small black spot here?!”
The ability wielders all gathered close, and after some searching, they finally found the black dot on the blurry image.
“That is a fisherman’s boat. This is the size ratio…”
Ignoring the gasps, the professor pointed at the photo and continued affectionately, “That’s Abyss. It’s a ginormous octopus that resembles an Australian blue-ringed octopus that has been magnified countless times.”
“What is a blue-ringed octopus?”
“It’s the most venomous creature in the world, second only to the box jellyfish. They can cause death in an extremely short amount of time.”
“Even more fatal than venomous snakes?”
“Of course! Marine creatures are very dangerous!” The professor went back to flipping through his papers. “Because people once saw this octopus in an abyss around ten thousand metres deep, they named it Abyss. However, it has been recorded to appear most often in the South China Sea. It tends to stalk large ships, but the past ten or so years of research hasn’t shown it attacking any of them. From sonic analysis, the crew on board would only think they’ve encountered a large school of fish. No one ever took it seriously, haha.”
“Then what are Phorcys and Siren?”
“Those two are very dangerous.” The professor stared at the ability users grimly. “If I recall correctly, the name ‘Siren’ was given by the Portugese. Legends told of a sea monster that brought hurricanes and disaster. Since it only appeared in terrible weather, no images or footage have ever been recorded, making it very mysterious and frightening. Throughout the years, only one survivor made it back to land, but he ended up going mad. When the sunken ship was salvaged from the ocean floor, the word ‘siren’ was carved deep into the captain’s quarters. Ever since then, the monster was known as ‘Siren’. As for Phorcys, while it too is mysterious, its whereabouts have always been certain. That sea monster’s lair is located in the Sargasso Sea in the middle of the Atlantic. Right, who here has read the adventures of Christopher Columbus?”
All of the ability users shook their heads. In all honesty, reading was meant to be fun; even novels like Moby Dick and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea were rarely read, much less the stories of Christopher Columbus. Who’d remember that? It’d be a miracle if they didn’t give their knowledge back to their history teachers the moment they graduated from school.
“That region is dubbed as the ‘Sea of Hellish Algae’ because of the massive growth of sargassum there. In the past, it was an infamous ocean cemetery. Ships that accidentally sailed into its grasp would become entangled in seaweed— seeing as how the passengers couldn’t escape by abandoning the ship, death was their only fate. When humans finally shredded the algae with motor power in the last century, they recorded what the region was like. ‘There was no wind. The sea was like a forest-green swamp with an odorous stench. Broken pieces of ships littered the water, from every age in human history. Some have decayed already, half-floating in the pile of seaweed. There were even greyish-white bones stuck between the rotting planks. It was practically hell on earth.’ That algae has great stickiness, and it’s extremely difficult to rip off once stuck to something. If it got onto someone’s skin, harsh movements would only cause them damage…”
Despite it being a hot and stuffy underground base, many people felt a chill go down their spine.
“…Because of technological advancements, there’s no longer much danger in passing through the Sargasso Sea. Phorcys, on the other hand, is the most recently discovered sea monster. It hides in the depths of the region, covered in countless sargassum; not even satellites discovered its existence. But the fact that sea monsters know each other and have the capability to communicate, even the one that hides in the algae— it could be said that sound-wave recordings were what exposed it. These sea monsters have a certain degree of IQ and use infrasonic waves. Countries that possess the necessary technologies have been able to record a number of their conversations. Infrasonic waves of a specific wavelength could disregard the influence of weather and geographical changes and reach every and any corner of the earth. However, no one has been able to decipher what exactly they were talking about.”
The professor was growing visibly excited. “Your information is incredibly valuable! Who would’ve thought that the sea monsters are so intelligent and have such logical thought processes! They even know the names that humans gave them! See, while the three of you differed a little in vocabulary, the pronunciation of the names all matched up! Abyss, Phorcys, Siren… these are all names that us humans use for them! Just like how we observe them, these sea monsters are also observing humans! This discovery is a breakthrough!”
—Really? It all sounds quite bone-chilling!
“Scientific research has long proven octopuses to be intelligent creatures. If it wasn’t for the fact that they can only live for five years, who knows what the world would be like today. Abyss, the sea monster, has been under inspection for over ten years; it was gigantic when we first discovered its existence… and by a rough estimation, it should’ve lived for at least tens, or maybe even hundreds of years by now! When it comes down to it, China has always had legends of animals turning into humans!”
Mad scientists who are immersed in their studies are definitely scary… The ability users thought blankly.
“Are there a lot of sea monsters?”
“A lot… but not many know how to use infrasonic waves. They have a strange way of organisation. Under bold assumptions, social classes don’t usually exist in the animal world. There are racial problems, and it often comes down to ‘the last one standing’. And yet the sea monsters’ world is constantly challenging what is assumed to be natural. They disregard the rules of nature, travelling from the deep sea to the surface, across the oceans and to any other place…”
“If you wanted to study them why not just catch one?” An ability user voiced his confusion.
All in all, the state was in possession of powerful machinery. Before the apocalypse, technology had developed to the point of exploring tens of thousands of metres beneath the sea or even flying to outer space. Was it that difficult to catch a sea monster in secret and study it?
The professor laughed abruptly.
“Haha, why do you think the West was so interested in these sea monsters and spent all that effort on researching them— even to the point of allocating an entire laboratory dedicated to these creatures?! Infrasonic waves, of course! Before this disaster struck, the most powerful weapon on Earth wasn’t nuclear weapons, but rather infrasonic waves! That’s the reason why these sea monsters can wander around the ocean without any natural predators. They can defeat or kill any other organism with infrasonic waves. Every other country has put so much money and research into studying the principles and rules of such behavior. Some infrasonic waves have frequencies that are similar to the vibration of human organs, and when these waves reach a certain point, people will start to feel uncomfortable and it can even result in death. And the problem is that resistance against it is futile. If these murderous infrasonic waves were precisely controlled, they could have an almost magical effect. There’s a song called Gloomy Sunday that was infamous for its tune that led people to death; a resonance of infrasonic waves gradually appeared in its melody, resulting in the sudden deaths or suicides of intent listeners.
“Isn’t that a mind-related ability?”
“That’s difficult to say… but speaking of research on abilities—” The scientist’s eyes glowed as he peered at the others in the room.
Goosebumps appeared on the ability users present, sending them running from the room.
Well, at least they now knew the answer. Before the state could invent an automatic capturing machine and a cage that completely sealed infrasonic waves, trying to capture sea monsters would be like having a death wish.
“But would the sea monsters come and attack humans?” Someone asked.
“Probably not… It’s not like they can survive on land! Unless—”
“…There’s no food left in the ocean. These sea monsters – being as powerful as they are – might actually evolve to be able to come looking for food on land.”
“Piss off, that’s bullshit!” The ability users were somewhat more relaxed than usual. Laughing, they jabbed their companion who was parodying the old professor’s serious expression.
Everyone knew that it was land that didn’t have any food left; the ocean still had an abundance of resources.
“Oi! Maybe the sea monsters have too big of an appetite! Of course they’re gonna migrate to land once they’ve eaten everything!”
Nobody gave serious thought to these light banters. Without communication and satellite images, no one knew that there were indeed countless creatures that began riding the currents and climbing the beaches.
Piercing screams and stark streaks of blood stained the ocean crimson in mere minutes.
In the Mariana Trench, 1700m below the surface.
There were flatfish in schools of three to five, along with jellyfish that all gently glowed as they bobbed in the silent water. They would’ve made for a beautiful scenery if not for being scattered instantly by the ravenous sea monsters.
Xia Yi was at his limit. The dense water layer was already beginning to shake; though he was trying his best at maintaining its stability and technically could still go a little further, he gave up pushing onward upon hearing Abyss’ mumbling.
【Honestly, we’re not even a tenth of the way to Challenger Deep yet.】
That region would be over ten thousand metres in depth! Who was he kidding? The increase in pressure would be exponential!
How do the sea monsters survive in such a deep place? Xia Yi couldn’t wrap his head around it. Siren had called Challenger Deep his ‘home’… If the sea monsters made their homes down there, then isn’t merely climbing up a ridiculous hassle?
【Siren, something’s not right…】
The oarfish darted forward, poking its head near the jagged cliff walls of the trench. Suddenly, it exclaimed,【Those spider-crabs have crawled here while we weren’t home!】
【What?!】Abyss waved a tentacle in fury. 【I’ll eat… oh no, they can’t be eaten!】
Eurybia dumbly turned its head around. 【Eh? Why?】
【If you eat them, your stomach— no— your entire body will start to hurt…】The crab patiently explained, but it was clear that the squid did not understand a single word. Xia Yi, too, was confused by the fact that even sea monsters had something they couldn’t eat.
Siren followed the oarfish and examined the vicinity. In the end, he came swimming back, clearly unhappy.
【It is nothing. This is the deepest those spider-crabs can go. It is still far from Challenger Deep,】Siren said, snaking his arms around Xia Yi. However, the merman never masked his expressions, so it was obvious that he was very irritated.
Abyss angrily curled its tentacles.【They couldn’t come this deep last time. If this continues, they’ll one day reach Challenger Deep!】
After much pondering, Xia Yi couldn’t help but ask,【Siren, what are spider-crabs?】
【…They are sea monsters created by the humans.】