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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Jiang Shuangmei already knows that Lin Qin is trustworthy and Shen Yünjü is also largely reliable, but she is unable to say the same for the five other people present.

    There is a man and woman pair that is clearly a pair, and they look rather nervous and agitated; of the three remaining, two men are also clearly companions, one is going with full formal attire with a suit even in the Nightmares, the other one appears to be a teenager. He looks seriously young.

    The last person…

    Jiang Shuangmei falls into thought seeing the last woman.

    She looks almost like some kind of medium, wearing a long, black robe that covers all the way to her ankles. She also has heavy, smokey makeup on. Her long hair is slightly curly, and while she looks calm, she is murmuring something.

    Jiang Shuangmei listens, only to hear her saying, “to end up in this Nightmare after all… I see, it must be that my connection with the bottom floor is yet to entirely dissipate…”

    Jiang Shuangmei “…”

    Oi oi, is she really alright in the head?!

    Jiang Shuangmei has so many disses in her mind, so she can only try to cheer herself up, thinking, at least everyone else looks vaguely competent.

    If she knew that, right now, Lin Qin is worrying over his relationship with Xü Beijin, Fei and Wu Jian are entirely preoccupied thinking about the Apocalypse and the Tower and the exit, then she would probably go back on her thoughts.

    She does not, of course, and so she is very blindly optimistic.

    The image she chose in this Nightmare for herself is one of an average-looking, taciturn woman. She gives a fake name, Liang Shuang.

    The first one to speak up to them is Mr Suits over here.

    He, and the young Teen beside him, take over the initiative with veteran ease. They immediately set everyone on tasks to be done later, which is truly a relief to hear for Jiang Shuangmei, who has already become used to how chaotic the bottom floor Missiontakers can act sometimes.

    She also learns another thing, that these two men… come from higher floors. They perhaps thought this is the ‘Ultimate Nightmare,’ and so entered on purpose, to look for an ‘exit to the Tower.’

    Meanwhile, the Missiontakers have already exchanged names and what they know about this Nightmare; however, on the stream, Fei and Wu Jian do not reveal that they are from the higher floors, or that they have acquired information from Mu Jiashi. The strange woman is the last one to introduce herself.

    She gives them no name, and instead, just identifies as ‘Mystic,’ even though she doesn’t actually know fortune-telling, or divination for that matter. She says she just enjoys the mystique afforded.

    She also tells them she is from the higher floors, but after having come up with nothing thus far, she is still not ready to give up just yet. This is going to be her last fight; if she still fails to make any meaningful gains, she may return to her journey upwards, climbing the Tower.

    Then, she starts blabbering something, “but… something feels strange in this Nightmare… It’s, yeah, a feeling,” she takes a deep breath, and looks slightly absent-minded as she continues, “something… the truth, or some other thing… is hidden in this Nightmare…”

    Some of the Missiontakers “…”

    Wow. Is this what Missiontakers from higher floors look like?

    Jiang Shuangmei and Shen Yünjü, both regulars of the bottom floor, are glancing over at Suits and Teen who also introduced themselves as having from the higher floors with slightly complicated gazes.

    The pair “…”

    The 36th floor of the building, is currently enveloped in an offputting atmosphere.

    In the stream, the viewers are all having a great time laughing.

    “whats with the mental image in my head!”
    “are these the pros of the higher floors? colour me impressed”
    “reality is always cruel [cry emoji]”
    “Looks like the Missiontakers have no idea the building will be tumbling in three hours? They should have been looking for a way out instead of talking otherwise, right, Beibei?”
    “eh? that tone…”
    “dalao! the detective dalao is back! we really missed you, so so much!”
    “sob sob, when the dalao is not here, we get our brains f’ed inside out by Beibei’s iq!”
    “Haha, it’s me again! I’m back to Beibei’s stream! I got something going on at home these two weeks, so I was pretty stressed out. Finally got some free time now, and I saw Beibei’s stream is on~ Happy~!”

    Xü Beijin also notices the dalao’s comment, and before he can even feel relief or curious that he is back, something else draws his attention.

    These… two weeks?

    Only, two weeks?!

    Xü Beijin suddenly comes to realise a problem.

    There is a difference in the flow of time between the Tower and the world outside the Tower? Time is quicker here in the Tower, and slower outside?

    Between now and the first time Xü Beijin ever streamed, if they go by the number of times the outside scenery of the Tower has brightened and dimmed, then it should have been close to two months already; within which the detective dalao has disappeared for over a month already.

    According to him, however, it has merely been two weeks.

    Then Xü Beijin recalls how it has actually already been twenty days between his last stream and the stream before that.

    Any normal livestreamer with such an irregular, infrequent schedule would normally have been completely forgotten by the viewers. They might not even remember why they followed the streamer in the first place.

    However, Xü Beijin’s viewers never reacted halfway as dramatically.

    They’d go ‘long time no see,’ but their ‘long time no see,’ doesn’t actually seem to be as long a time as Xü Beijin understood it to be.

    If he goes by the more than a month’s time that the detective dalao has been gone and the ‘two weeks’ he himself admitted to, and calculate, then the ratio of time’s passage between reality and within the game is at least .

    What could this mean?

    Xü Beijin’s line of sight slowly lowers onto his own hand. He can’t help but form a fist, and then dig his fingernails into his palm, to feel the very real sense of pain coming from it.

    This can only mean that, he thinks, that they are definitely trapped in some hyperrealistic game, which is the only possible explanation for the flow of time being different; it’s a setting not unheard of in creative media like novels and movies and such.

    But, what about their physical bodies?

    They should have been projected into the game through some kind of device, maybe one of those ‘pods’ the viewers mentioned in the very beginning, which is what it takes to support them as their consciousness spends an obscenely long amount of time in the game…

    Of course, another possibility exists.

    Their bodies have perished a long time ago, in the Apocalypse that befell Earth. Only their consciousness, in what could be a pattern of electrical signals in the brain, has been saved in a ghost-like manner, and then deposited into this game called ‘Escape.’

    Xü Beijin looks closely at his released fist. He can see the patterns on his palm clearly, without any telling technical artefacts.

    Then, he slowly rolls his hand back into a fist.

    ‘If we are already dead,’ he whispers to himself, so quietly that no voice comes out for the stream to hear, ‘then is there even meaning in putting us into this ‘game’?’


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    This part lays out the full picture of the Missiontakers present: Lin Qin, Fei, Wu Jian, Jiang Shuangmei, Shen Yünjü, and newcomers, Suits, Teen and Mystic. Meanwhile Xü Beijin is having what is close to an internal existential crisis again, but hey, on the bright side, the detective dalao is back in the stream!

    boilpoil

    This should go without saying, but considering the nature of this novel, please think twice before posting a comment on any chapter in order to avoid spoiling any possible future plot points or twists from later chapters.

    Travis Translation

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