14 Chapter 14 – The Dreamer

Nick and the Inspector walked to the side into an abandoned alleyway.

Nick was highly interested in what the Inspector had to say.

After nearly two weeks, Nick had finally found a clue!

When they arrived in the alleyway, Nick just nodded at the Inspector.

The Inspector looked around.

"I'm not supposed to tell you about this," the Inspector said. "Information regarding Specters is top secret."

"Why are you telling me?" Nick asked.

"Well, there are a couple of reasons."

"First, I feel like I should help you a bit. I kind of feel bad for you when I see you try this desperately to find a Specter."

"Two, the Specter isn't being hunted by the Manufacturers anyway. This means that nobody would really miss it."

"And third, I don't fully agree with my employer's goal," the Inspector explained.

"Their goal?" Nick asked.

The Inspector nodded. "There are many Specters that we know about but don't capture. There are multiple reasons for that."

"Sometimes, it's incredibly difficult to find the actual location of the Specters. The Parasite is a good example. The entire city is after the Parasite, but nobody managed to track it down."

"Another reason is that some of the Specters are incredibly difficult to contain, and it's even more difficult to keep them contained. While there are Containment Units that can keep some Force Specters contained, there are still some of them that can't be contained."

"For example, outside the city is a Specter we call the Swallowing Swamp. It's just a huge swamp that's several kilometers wide. In order to contain that, we would need to commit monumental amounts of resources to it, which wouldn't be worth it."

"Some Specters are also just too powerful. Nurse Alice is a great example."

"And then, there are Specters that are living in places that are too difficult to get to. The one I'm going to tell you about is part of that category."

Nick became quite interested. "Where is it?"

The Inspector pointed at the floor, or more specifically, at the darkness beyond the metal grates everyone was walking on.

"The sewers," the Inspector said.

Nick also looked at the ground.

Since the floor was essentially made of metallic grates, everyone could see and smell the sewers.

In a way, the sewers didn't really look like sewers.

In truth, just a couple of meters below the grates, there was just a sea of horrible and dirty water.

If anyone broke a grate and fell through, they would fall for about ten meters and then plummet into a deep pile of water filled with piss, shit, waste, garbage, and so on.

There were cases where some of the victims were rescued, but most of them died quickly.

In general, the people started to puke violently, which often made them accidentally swallow more of the water. This increased their panic, and they started to rapidly splash around.

Oftentimes, they hit some kind of old and rusty nail, which then cut them open.

Additionally, the Parasite's minions, the rats, often piled onto the victim.

Falling into the sewers was a terrifying death.

Even more, not all of the floor was made of grates. There were also plenty of places with plates instead of grates.

If one had exceptionally bad luck, one might fall into a dark part of the sewers.

At that point, the Nightmare's influence also attacked them.

"In the sewers?" Nick asked.

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The Inspector nodded.

Nick's heart rate increased, and he had to take a deep breath.

"Where is it exactly?" Nick asked.

"Are you really willing to jump into the sewers?" the Inspector asked with concern.

Nick took another deep breath.

Nick imagined himself standing in front of a hole, looking at the murky and dark liquid below.

Just the stench would make a normal person retch.

Jumping into that...

The mental image was horrifying.

To be honest, Nick hesitated a while.

It wasn't easy to jump into something like that.

The only good thing was that nobody would be seeing Nick down there, which would allow him to keep his unique ability active.

This meant that drowning or getting pricked by a sharp piece of metal was no real concern.

Nick's body became five times as powerful when no one was looking. That also meant that the durability of his skin and muscles increased.

As long as he didn't ram into a metallic spike jutting out of a solid wall with all his force, Nick wouldn't get wounded.

The rats also weren't that big of a problem.

Yes, the Parasite had a lot of rats, but every rat was valuable.

The rats would be able to overwhelm Nick, but Nick would take many of them with him.lightsnovel

Nick was quite sure that it wouldn't be worth the trade.

So, while the sewers were incredibly disgusting and horrifying, they were not actually a danger to Nick.

However, two other things would still prove to be very dangerous.

One, the Specter itself, whatever it was.

No Specter was weak, and Nick needed to overwhelm the Specter, catch it, and bring it back to the surface.

Two, the darkness.

The sewers were dimly lit at best, and there were also many places that were completely dark.

The darker the place, the greater the Nightmare's influence.

The Nightmare's powers affected every single human in the world.

It didn't matter how strong someone was.

Whether they were a normal person or one of the most powerful Extractors in the world.

All of them were affected by the Nightmare equally.

Power didn't matter.

Only mental fortitude mattered.

Nick would need to resist the Nightmare's influence for a prolonged period of time while also actively searching for the Specter.

Nick only looked to the side.

'He said that the Specter should be on my level, which means it's a level one Specter.'

'For a level one Specter, someone has to jump into the sewers and resist the Nightmare's influence. I can imagine that it wouldn't be worth the effort.'

Nick remained silent for several seconds.

"You know," the Inspector said.

Nick looked back.

"Maybe I misrepresented my reasons for helping you a bit," the Inspector added.

"The reasons I mentioned earlier still hold true, but the order might not be the most accurate."

"The thing I'm actually most concerned about is the last reason."

Nick only looked at the Inspector.

"When we find such a Specter," the Inspector explained, "my employer makes a risk assessment. Is it worth to go after it? What are the dangers? What is the potential profit?"

"Since this is only a level one Specter, it obviously isn't worth it. Because of that, we are just going to ignore the Specter."

"That is until it becomes a level three Specter."

Nick narrowed his eyes.

"You're saying that they want the Specter to feed on the population of the Dregs until it becomes a level three Specter?" Nick asked.

The Inspector looked to the side.

"Well, my employer is a business, and all businesses are made for profit. When there is no profit to be gained, we don't get involved."

"My employer isn't letting the Specter live just so that it can become more powerful."

"My employer just doesn't get involved since it's not worth it."

"My employer is not responsible for keeping the city safe. It's a business, not a charity. It's not my employer's job to protect the people."

Nick's demeanor didn't improve. "And if your employer told the city about the Specter?"

The Inspector didn't immediately answer.

"The city might do something about it," the Inspector added.

"But they would need to pay quite a hefty sum in return."

"Also, maybe one day, the Specter might become profitable enough to catch."

Nick didn't need to hear more.

Naturally, the Inspector wasn't allowed to speak ill of his employer, which was why he was wording it this vaguely, but Nick basically got the gist.

The Inspector's employer was willing to feed people to the Specter until it grew more powerful.

And the Inspector didn't like that.

Which was why he was telling Nick about it.

Earlier, Nick had still been on the fence, but now, not anymore.

"I'm doing it," Nick said.

The Inspector looked into Nick's eyes for a while.

The Inspector saw that they were filled with a bit of fear but also a lot of conviction.

The Inspector took a deep breath.

"It's called the Dreamer."