Cthulhu Gonfalon - Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Translator: Nyoi_Bo_Studio Editor: Nyoi_Bo_Studio
The moonlight was pouring down onto the surface of the sea, with a breeze blowing across the water, making countless silver ripples.
Maybe it was just an illusion, but in this world the moon seemed to look much bigger and so much brighter than on Earth. Even if it was nighttime, Sui Xiong could clearly see the teeth of the fish approaching him from below. They were swimming and eating very fast. Before long, most of the jellyfish in the sea had been torn apart and eaten up. Now, they were gradually getting closer and closer to Sui Xiong.
He didn’t run away. Instead, he calmly floated on the sea and prepared to fight. In no time, the three fish that were closest to him had come near enough for him to initiate his attack.
As the jellyfish’s natural predator, the small fish were overwhelmingly superior to the jellyfish. But inside this jellyfish hid the soul of a human being. Most importantly, this jellyfish was very different from the weak ones who were basically defenseless when faced with their natural enemy. Looking at these small fish as they opened their frightening white teeth, anxious to tear apart their prey, Sui Xiong laughed. His soul reached out its hand, seized two of them, easily pulled out their souls, and put them in his mouth. Before long, the third one was eaten too.
Nonetheless, a small price was paid. Sui Xiong (or, actually, the jellyfish he had possessed) had suffered a little bite, which was still big enough to alarm him. Although he was much stronger than the small fish and could kill two of them at once, his soul only had two hands, while there were hundreds of fish. Three of them could simply make him focus on one fish, losing sight of the others and becoming susceptible to their attacks. What if hundreds of them attacked him all together?
Sui Xiong suddenly felt very frightened. When he calmed down and observed his surroundings, he found that he’d already been surrounded.
“Sh*t! Hundreds of you versus me. Even if you win, you will never be considered a hero! If you consider yourselves strong, why not only one of you come up and fight me!” he shouted.
Clearly, these small fish were no heroes, or they couldn’t hear his curse. Even if they did hear, they had no idea what his words meant.
Now, they were coming at him from all directions. Sui Xiong was too shocked to think about eating. He began to punch aimlessly in every direction, trying to kill each and every one of them. For a while, the light reflected off the scales and sharp teeth of the fish, creating a dazzling spectacle in the sea. All the while, the curses of this new water spirit never stopped.
It took a long time until the sea finally settled back to its natural calm. Surrounded by the floating fish bodies and looking at his disfigured jellyfish’s body, Sui Xiong wanted to cry. But no tears came to his eyes.
“It’s only been one day, and I’ve almost been dismembered. What a dangerous world!” he sighed. Soon he began to think about what to do next.
Clearly, the jellyfish’s body was too fragile. There was a common joke on the internet, which said that if the CE of an otaku was 0.5, then the CE of a jellyfish would probably be less than 0.1. The water spirit version of Sui Xiong had an extremely high CE, and so far he’d killed his enemies with only one move (except for that whale). But he only had two hands, so it was impossible for him to counterattack when surrounded by enemies coming from all directions. Even if Sui Xiong had eaten that flock of fish all at once, he would still become too full. The fish had already put him in a very ugly situation; what would happen if a more powerful enemy appeared?
If possible, he needed to exchange his useless jellyfish body for a stronger one. But now he couldn’t leave this body, so he had to formulate a new plan.
“No matter what, I need to repair this body,” Sui Xiong muttered, holding up the shredded remnants of a tentacle. “I know that the weaker a creature is, the stronger its ability to self-heal—but only with abundant energy.”
But where could he find the nutrients to give him energy? Unless memory betrayed him, jellyfish ate plankton. But what if there wasn’t any plankton? Did it mean he could do nothing but sit there and wait to die? Maybe he’d died during the battle. This useless jellyfish’s body may have already been injured too severely to recover. Once this body died, could it be possible that his soul would die too? Maybe…it could happen…
No, I absolutely will not allow it! I am a man! If a man wanted to die, he would not die in such a funny way!
Helplessly, Sui Xiong turned to look at the dead fish. He’d eaten their souls, but their bodies were still intact. Theoretically speaking, the fish meat was nutritious, which could provide sustenance for the jellyfish’s body. But the question was how to eat?
Question: how does a jellyfish eat? I’m waiting online, please hurry. But there was no internet…
Sui Xiong thought for a while, then tried to poke the closest dead fish with one of his tentacles. A jellyfish’s tentacles were also its weapon, and logically speaking, a creature’s weapon was often connected to the organ that consumed food—i.e. the teeth and mouth. However, he soon found out that the tentacles were useless for harming the fish. No matter how hard Sui Xiong tried, the tentacles couldn’t penetrate the hard fish scales.
“There is a pile of food right in front of you, but you can’t even take a bite. How pathetic!” Sui Xiong lamented. But he didn’t give up. Using his tentacles to poke almost every part of the fish, he probed for a place that had no scales.
Finally, he succeeded. His tentacle found the fish’s mouth.
The fish’s whole body was covered with scales, but its inside wasn’t. As long as he put one of his tentacles into its body through the mouth, then he could penetrate it from the inside out. So, what should he do next?
Sui Xiong started to think again. Secreting the digestive juice? He tried to secrete the digestive juice several times, but he failed. Perhaps it was because this particular jellyfish naturally lacked this ability, or perhaps because of his own limited intelligence. Maybe he should try simply eating the fish instead? Again, he tried many times, but alas, the result was the same. Maybe it was because there were no teeth on the tentacles, or still his limited intelligence.
This was exactly the situation in which a mouse was trying to pull a turtle, but had no idea where to start. Facing this situation, Sui Xiong became infuriated.
“I am going to find a way to eat this fish, no matter how hard it is! It’s already dead, yet I still can’t eat it? Could a piece of meat on a cutting board fly away?!” He contemplated this problem for a long time, and finally a solution presented itself.
Suppose there was a cup of milk tea on the table, and the lid was fixed. How would you drink the tea? Well, naturally, a straw would do. Only…when he realized that he’d have to suck food from the fish’s stomach with a straw, he was disgusted. This was way too much.
What happened next wasn’t worth mentioning. Eventually, the dead fish around him turned into a indistinguishable pile of entrails, bones, and scales. Sui Xiong sank his tentacles as deep as he could inside the fish, while comforting himself with the thought that really he was just eating some sushi. Maybe the entrails were very nutritious, but as long as he was aware of eating something the fish had already digested, he felt sick.
Actually, it was quite strange. The fish meat should have been very solid, so then why was it instantly dissolving into a fluid as soon as he sucked it up and digested it? Could a jellyfish do that? Would it be possible that any jellyfish in this world had this capability? Looking at the carnage around him, Sui Xiong reflected for a while and concluded that the reason for this bizarre phenomenon came down to the uniqueness of this world.
Now that he’d eaten and had some energy to sustain him, his next move was to make the best use of it. So, how? Sui Xiong began to think hard about this.
First, he needed to improve his speed and mobility, because a jellyfish swam too slowly! But how could he achieve this goal? By adding a pair of fins? Even if he could, adding fins wasn’t the best solution. Maybe by adding some tentacles then? Or flattening the tentacles until they became just like a sail? None of these seemed like good options…
So he decided to equip the jellyfish with two propellers. Back on Earth, propellers were quite a common object, and their main operating principle wasn’t too complex. Simply put, a propeller was a set of slanted blades that could spin in the water. By making the blades swirl rapidly, the water would quickly flow in one direction, thereby creating thrust in the opposite direction. This operating principle had been widely used in day to day life, in everything from boat engines to electric fans. At least this was how Sui Xiong remembered.
“I need a firm axis, three hard blades, and a very solid bearing,” Sui Xiong muttered, converting the nutrients stored in the jellyfish’s body into muscles. By repeatedly layering the muscles, one over the other, he could eventually get what he wanted.
He’d spent most of the night figuring out what to do, but once he found the right strategy, it only took a moment to make himself two propellers. The body of this creature was indeed amazing: once he had a clear plan to execute, the working process became extremely interesting. All that was required of him was two simple things: designing and waiting.
Once he’d finished, it wasn’t difficult to make the propeller spin. All he had to do was simply rotate the gear. For a living creature, it may have been very painful to turn its own flesh and blood into gears that kept rotating and bumping against each other. But luckily, Sui Xiong himself was not the jellyfish. No matter how much damage he did to the body, he didn’t feel a thing.
So that was one problem solved. Now he had a fine power system, which could help him move quickly through the sea. If the jellyfish he was possessing could see this, it’d probably die of embarrassment. Now that his speed had been improved, what should be done next? Increasing his CE or defensive power?
Sui Xiong thought for a while, and decided to focus on improving his defense. He already had a very powerful attacking technique, and until this point, no fish had been able to escape his attack when extracting its soul. So naturally, he needed to enhance his defensive power.
Of course, his first priority was to add scales. Just like soldiers on Earth used metal armor to protect themselves, Sui Xiong also wanted to wrap hard armor (the scales) around the jellyfish’s body to protect himself. Though this seemed like a good idea, when he began to design the armor, he found a problem. He realized that when he made scales using the same technique of overlapping muscle fibers, they weren’t strong enough. Actually, it was less a matter of lacking hardness and more a problem with lacking elasticity, a shortcoming shared by the scales and the propeller blades alike.
Before Sui Xiong was transported to this realm, he’d read some books on military affairs, so he knew that in the Cold Weapon Era, armor should both be hard and elastic. When armor had enough elasticity, one could counterattack by meeting toughness with equal toughness. The armored body would simply absorb the energy, thus weakening the effect of the attack into that of a bump. Therefore, the armor had to be elastic.
But the truth was that he couldn’t make the scales very elastic. Upon realizing this, he had no choice but to try a more practical way: making a firm skin. This approach was much easier. All he needed to do was overlap the muscle fibers multiple times, making a shell out of the sclerites. Then, he added a few layers of net-like structure, which could work as a buffer beneath the sclerites. Finally, he’d transformed the shape of the jellyfish’s body.
When the sun began to set in the west, Sui Xiong had finished improving the jellyfish’s body, his temporary home. Now it was streamlined, with a firm and thick outer skin, and on each side, a propeller protected by the sclerites and able to generate high speeds. He still had thin tentacles at the end of the body; he’d meant to improve them too, but he was too low on energy, so he had to leave them for another time.
But now, Sui Xiong looked like a monster, imposing from every angle.