Access Denied Ch43

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 43: The Beginning of Battle

The impact of the waves was quite strong, but the greatsword itself was wide enough. Monday was thrown around by the wave and screamed, but luckily everyone was so dazed by the water that they couldn’t tell where the source of the scream came from. The protective suit was thick and slippery when wet, making it difficult for Shu Jun to pull the straps on both sides. During this process, he had to focus on suppressing his own and Monday’s breath, which made things even more miserable.

However, just before the next wave came, Zhu Yanchen reached out his arm and tightly hugged Shu Jun’s waist, holding him close to his body. He held him tightly as the two tumbled in the water until they hit the rocky wall with a loud thud, without any signs of separation.

The thick protective suit served as a cushion, and the speed of the central water flow wasn’t very fast. It was only after the water flow gradually dissipated that the world became pitch black, and they looked like fish caught in a net.

The Erosion Swamp didn’t plan to drown them directly, so the water quickly dispersed. As soon as Hu Yan stood up, he opened the short-range communication to the maximum and then fired a flare into the sky.

“Immediately assembly!” Hu Yan ordered.

The communication device made an unpleasant rustling sound. Under the glare of the flare, the huge liquid column of the Erosion Swamp slowly writhed.

They had been washed up near the huge liquid column. Zhu Yanchen and Shu Jun’s orders had taken effect—after enabling oxygen support and erosion protection, Hu Yan’s condition was quite good. On the other hand, the waterproof cloth was limited, so the team members had to share it. Although the thirteen people were scattered by the water, they managed to ensure that there were two to four people in each group. With the protection of the waterproof cloth, the sharp fragments in the water flow couldn’t hurt the protective suits.

“Damn it, the erosion concentration is too high. Short-range communication devices probably won’t last long.” Hu Yan lit a cold light and looked at the reading. “This Erosion Swamp is really strange. It’s like a flytrap.”

“I took a look just now, and including us, the waterproof cloth wrapped around four groups of people,” Yu Jin recalled. “As long as your people don’t get washed away alone, the situation isn’t that bad.”

“The vanguard team are all elites. They won’t get washed away alone. I’m afraid that—” Hu Yan hadn’t finished speaking when intermittent sounds came from the communication device. “We’ve been washed into a cave… Can’t find our way out…”

Hu Yan sighed and turned the illumination towards the rocky mountain remnants full of holes. “I was afraid of this.”

Yu Jin also sighed heavily. “To be honest, I’ve never seen anything as weird as this. At most, I’ve encountered some strange mutant beasts, but this is fucking strange.”

Shu Jun thought for a few seconds. “The team outside the rocky mountain should assemble at the lighting. ‘One Eye’ will assist Hu Yan here. Smoke and I will go into the rocky mountain to find the missing people.”

“I’ll come with you.” Hu Yan shook his head. “The cave is narrow, and I can widen it. Otherwise, if you encounter something like that… that thing that pretended to be Xiao Zhang earlier, you two may not be able to handle it. Moreover, I’m now the captain of the Blackbirds. I can’t just sit around waiting for you two to risk your lives.”

“I’ll also come and broaden my horizons.” Yu Jin hammered a glowing marker into the ground. “The two of you are even more badass than me in a fight. Anyway, inside or outside, it’s only a few steps away, so I might as well go with you.”

His voice carried a hint of humor. “I’m quite familiar with this kind of mountain terrain. They say that if you benefit from someone, don’t forget to repay them*. I can’t just take advantage of you guys for nothing.”

*When one eats the food of another, one’s mouth becomes shorter. Idiom referring to one shouldn’t be greedy and take advantage of others without giving anything back.

“Okay, but we have to retreat when it’s time to retreat.” Shu Jun surveyed the cave.

If Hu Yan was there, retreating would be easy, not to mention the fact that the erosion concentration here was extremely high and Hu Yan could exert a great deal of power. If things went wrong, compared to himself, Hu Yan could at least send people out faster.

Since the water was flowing towards the center, except for the group that was washed into the cave, the other two groups weren’t far apart. After the two teams gathered, Hu Yan briefly explained the current situation.

Seven people, plus themselves, gathered together. There was one man and one woman missing.

“For now, the situation is unclear. You should gather here and not act separately. We’ll go in and find the missing people. If we haven’t returned within three hours, you should turn the purifiers to maximum power and retreat as fast as you can.”

“It’s best not to use maximum power.” Zhu Yanchen suddenly spoke up after pondering for a while.

Hu Yan wasn’t annoyed by the response. “Why?”

“Its intention is to make us actively approach the center. That’s why it made a fake messenger. If it wants to hunt, it doesn’t need to bother with so many tricks. Just waiting for you to come and investigate is enough.”

If all three hundred core members of the Blackbirds were there, it would be understandable to catch them all at once. With only thirteen people, it seemed like an overkill*. There was no reason to hunt in this way, as the Erosion Swamp also had to calculate energy consumption.

*Using a cleaver to slaughter chickens (杀鸡用牛刀了) Idiom describing a situation when someone uses excessive force or resources to deal with a problem that could be solved with simpler or more appropriate means.

Zhu Yanchen patiently explained in a calm voice. “After it brought us to the center, it didn’t immediately attack us. According to reason, it would have trapped us in water, making it difficult for us to survive. From what I can see, it seems more like it’s observing us.”

“…No, bro. The Erosion Swamp doesn’t have this kind of intelligence, does it?” Hu Yan lowered his voice. “It’s just a lump of erosion.”

As soon as the words came out, he choked a little himself—looking at the fake Xiao Zhang, it was hard to say it didn’t have a brain.

Marshal Zhu didn’t dwell on this issue and changed the subject directly. “Regardless of its purpose, its desire to attack isn’t strong at the moment. The energy storage of the purifiers is limited. If it is fully opened, it won’t be able to sustain until you leave the heavily eroded area… It’s better to save it until it shows aggressive tendencies.”

“That makes sense. Ah, this is the first time we’ve been pulled in directly. Before this, Zhu Yanchen would always give an assessment report on the swamp.” Hu Yan scratched his head. “Shu—bah—Gray Claw, what do you think?”

Shu Jun always had unconventional ideas, and Hu Yan hoped that he would come up with some more unusual ones.

“My opinion is the same as Smoke’s.” Shu Jun suddenly understood how Zhu Yanchen felt—after knowing the truth, he didn’t want his teammates to take risks. “Something’s not right here. Safety comes first.”

“…Okay, then let’s do that,” Hu Yan instructed the remaining members again. “Don’t try to act like heroes and investigate randomly. Stay here honestly and stay alive.”

The rocky mountain had already been eroded into strange shapes by the erosion. The cave was like an ant’s nest, with tunnels leading in all directions that were so deep it looked bottomless. If the team members were simply trapped, with Hu Yan’s abilities, they wouldn’t take more than three hours to get out. But this Erosion Swamp could make human skin balloons, so things were uncertain.

Before they approached, no one knew if the cries for help and knocking were made by “people.”

Hu Yan was straightforward, but he couldn’t be called impulsive. He commanded the rock wall to split and gather, allowing them to avoid many dead ends, and they didn’t need to advance in the narrow and suffocating rock passage. The route was integrated by Hu Yan into a straight and flat passage so that the four of them could turn back and escape at any time.

However, as they went deeper, faint cries for help came from all directions.

“Those two sides shouldn’t be it.” Yu Jin twisted the fibers on the rock wall. “Judging from the torn cloth, they were washed to the far left by the water.”

“Thanks, brother.” Hu Yan turned his flashlight in annoyance—they were getting closer and closer to the liquid column, and all their equipment was being rapidly eroded. At the moment, the light kept flickering, making people dizzy.

“I’ve collected a lot of corpses on the edge of the erosion zone before, but I didn’t expect that trick to work here.” Yu Jin turned to Shu Jun and murmured.

Shu Jun: “…” Has this person been infected by Hu Yan’s pessimistic words?

“I hope they’re okay. When I think what’s calling out over there isn’t a human, I get goosebumps… Wait, there are some marks over there. Let me take a look.” Yu Jin didn’t slack off and went over to the shining object at the cave entrance.

“How’s it going?” Shu Jun took the opportunity to turn his head and interview the only Erosion Swamp expert present.

“It’s still testing the waters.” Zhu Yanchen stared at the readings on the device. “When it detects an abnormal Erosion Swamp, the exploration team is inevitably the best. It seems that it intends to trap this team here. Then, in the next wave, and the next, until it is certain that humans really have no threats.”

Unlike Sweet Edge, which only sought death, this thing wanted them to use all their means to survive, as direct slaughter was too crude.

Before it confirmed that they were of no value, this Erosion Swamp wouldn’t attack on its own and would only observe quietly—after all, even if it did nothing, the air containing high-concentration erosion substance was enough to kill them.

‘I can’t just attack,’ Shu Jun thought. If he really defeated this Erosion Swamp, the “big boss of the Erosion Swamps” hidden behind it would definitely be alert. For now, it was best to find the missing team members as soon as possible and try to leave quietly.

But if they could also think of this, then the Erosion Swamp was likely thinking of it too.

Two hours passed, and the four of them had found nothing. The flashlight finally gave out, plunging them into darkness. Hu Yan sighed and began to use a cold light stick for illumination. The dim light illuminated the pitch-black rock walls, and the shadows pressing in from all sides felt more suffocating.

To conserve their energy, the trapped team members stopped shouting and began tapping the walls. The similar frequency tapping sounds came from all sides, making people shudder.

“I need a break… This mountain is about to break me, and there’s still no progress.”

Hu Yan had been fixing the cave all the way, and his physical exertion was the highest. Afraid of dropping the ball at a critical moment, he stopped and struggled to take a sip of the fluid food. The concentration of erosion substance here was too high, and even eating and drinking carried a high risk. Shu Jun watched him anxiously, silently suppressing the erosion around them.

The footsteps of the four people disappeared, leaving only the eerie sound of knocking echoing around them.

“Come to think of it, this ability is a bit like Sweet Edge’s.” Unable to withstand the oppressive atmosphere, Shu Jun muttered to Zhu Yanchen. “If this Erosion Swamp knew how to fill the human skin with something, I might not have recognized it at first.”

“Sweet Edge’s ability is ‘Creation’.” Zhu Yanchen stopped in his tracks. “To be precise, it uses erosion to construct structures similar to living beings. From the perspective of those four-legged monsters, her ability to control their appearance isn’t very strong.”

“Why?” Shu Jun asked curiously. He had obtained a similar creation ability, which allowed him to repair wounds. Neither he nor Zhu Yanchen had created anything as bizarre as those monsters.

“Because your repairs are partial and the original prototype remains. When she created those things, most of X City’s victims had been swallowed up by the Erosion Swamp. She could only extract information from the fragments of the bodies and create something similar to them.”

Zhu Yanchen’s voice was low and serious.

“This Erosion Swamp’s ability leans toward ‘Replication’. Rather than creating from scratch, it’s more like a mirror. If I’m not mistaken, it probably heard our conversation near the heavily eroded area and modified the content.”

Shu Jun understood. Since it was a mirror, it couldn’t reflect the interior. If it filled the layer of “human skin” with pure erosion substance, it would be more difficult to control the shape and more likely to be exposed.

“A mirror… A’Yan, let me confirm something.”


“Does it keep in contact with other Erosion Swamps?” Shu Jun glanced at the surrounding darkness. “The uninterrupted kind.”

“Can’t. The transmission of information through the erosion substance is more like sending letters. Even if it sends information outside regularly, there will still be a certain time delay.”

“I see.” Shu Jun rubbed his chin.

He gestured to the path that Hu Yan had opened up and stirred up a breeze around him, then fell into deep thought.

“Something’s not right,” Yu Jin suddenly said. “We’ve turned so many corners, but the distance of the knocking sound hasn’t changed much, and this part of the path behind us is too clean. I couldn’t find any human traces.”

“There’s still an hour left.” Hu Yan gritted his teeth. “This place isn’t that big? I don’t believe it.”

Shu Jun took the opportunity to pick up the topic. “Captain Hu, can you sense the situation of the entire mountain now that we’ve come this far?”

“Of course I can…” Hu Yan was really close to breaking through the mountain.

“Yu Jin, how many sources of knocking sounds are there around us?”

“Five. Why do you ask?”

“Captain Hu, open up all the channels where the knocking sounds are coming from. Can you do that if someone is directing the direction?”

“I can.” It seemed pointless and just a waste of energy, but Hu Yan recognized this tone—Shu Jun must have thought of something devious.

“Open them up now.”

Hu Yan and Yu Jin looked at each other. Hu Yan clicked his tongue and pressed his hand against the rock. Yu Jin’s skeptical gaze ran around Hu Yan, but he still cooperated obediently.

“That channel over there, and that one—I’ll mark them with a fluorescent pen,” he muttered, pointing them out.

The remains of the rocky mountain weren’t large, and under Hu Yan’s control, it trembled slightly, and a lot of fine dust poured down on the four of them.

Then the wind rose.

The wind was neither too strong nor too weak, and it blew forcefully against the cave wall. The dull collision sound came from all directions.

Ten human skin balloons were pushed all the way by the strong wind, rolling and bumping through the tunnel, and collapsed at the feet of the four.

“…It’s even more sinister than I thought,” Shu Jun murmured. “It didn’t even create a single group.”

Yu Jin’s mouth opened and closed—only players had abilities, and Hu Yan’s ability was clearly written on the player information. This wind didn’t seem natural, so it must also be an ability…

“It looks like we have to fight.” Shu Jun drew out his greatsword. “Lao Hu, lead the way.”

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