Episode 11: The Grand Scheme / Chapter 178: Frontlines (1)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
An extensive construction began on Naro’s spaceship. The construction was to help Naro, who had awakened as a highest-ranked warrior, use his abilities more effectively. Complying with Naro’s will, they would maintain the basic frame the narolings had built and would only upgrade the outer armor and circuitry.
This was a very special case.
While it wasn’t like there weren’t any Armored Soul Tribe members in the shape of spaceships like the ‘Steel Battleship’, they were rare. As long as the total amount of karma a warrior could handle was limited, a smaller body would always be more economical and powerful than a larger body in battle. That was why the majority of battleship-type Armored Soul Tribe members were born through the alliance’s request to the tribe for a special mission or to meet a quota.
Cases like Naro’s, where one could maintain their spaceship body and even decide upon the remodeling process, were those of incredible privilege.
In the deepest core of Naro’s spaceship, in the square where the narolings were buried, which Naro absolutely wouldn’t let anyone lay a finger on despite the massive construction this time, Baek Seoin, Lee Jinhee, Naro, and Choi Hyuk held a meeting. After combining Naro and Choi Hyuk’s power to prevent anyone from eavesdropping, they discussed their plans for the future.
Baek Seoin began the discussion with a light topic suggestion.
“Flame-Hell seems to have really liked leader’s declaration.”
It was as he said.
The costs of remodeling Naro’s body were wholly paid for by the alliance. Despite the fact that the expenses would be astronomical considering the size of his body, they provided only the very best resources, so much so that a rumor saying they had spent more than a hundred times that of what an average Armored Soul Tribe warrior would spend on creating their own bodies began to spread. This would have been impossible if it wasn’t for Flame-Hell’s wholehearted support.
Of course, the Berserkers were overflowing with reasons why Flame-Hell should give them preferential treatment.
Successfully subjugated the Blue Manes.
A well-conducted funeral.
Especially at the end of the funeral.
Where Lee Jinhee completed her Sword of Vow and went beyond just recovering her strength that had fallen to the low rank, stepping into the highest rank.
As according to Flame-Hell’s plans, all of this gave hope to the alliance and made people consider Flame-Hell as the symbol of this hope.
However, there was another incident that made Flame-Hell determined to wholeheartedly invest in Naro.
The ‘declaration’ Baek Seoin mentioned was the declaration that popped up in Choi Hyuk and Armor-Phantom’s conversation before the funeral.
‘I’ll telling you once more, but what he learns while completing missions with me doesn’t lose out to what he would learn from the Armored Soul Tribe.’
It turned out that these words had scratched an itch for Flame-Hell.
He wanted to weaken the Armored Soul Tribe’s unity and strengthen not only the alliance’s influence but the influence of his own Flame Wing Tribe. To accomplish this, he wanted to transfer the Armored Soul Tribe’s special member training to the alliance.
In this situation, Naro’s refusal for training and Choi Hyuk’s declaration were perfect opportunities for Flame-Hell.
This was the reason why Naro was given the best resources.
“On the other hand, we’ll probably be hated by the Armored Soul Tribe.”
Lee Jinhee said, wondering if it was okay, and Baek Seoin shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s actually better this way since we need to earn Flame-Hell’s trust.”
Then he turned his gaze towards Choi Hyuk.
He swept away the slightly easygoing mood and fixed his gaze.
“As I said before, there are two tasks we must prioritize. First, obtaining Flame-Hell’s complete trust. Therefore, garnering hate from the Armored Soul Tribe, who are Flame-Hell’s competitors, is actually welcome. Second is for Chu Youngjin to figure out the mastermind behind the ‘Event Horizon Troop’ and to obtain the mastermind’s wholehearted trust. To be honest, this part is… very uncertain. First, the mastermind needs to be an Exalted Wing, and above all, that person needs to be able to trust Chu Youngjin.”
Lee Jinhee groaned.
There was no one present that didn’t like Chu Youngjin. However, liking someone and trusting someone were completely different matters. Chu Youngjin was an uncontrollable person. They had already confirmed this back during the doppelganger incident. It was also the reason why Lee Jinhee didn’t say anything.
While there was probably no way he would purposely betray Choi Hyuk, they couldn’t ignore the possibility that he wouldn’t do the things he had to.
Still, Choi Hyuk resolutely shook his head.
“We don’t have time to be concerned about that. We’re absolutely weaker than them. If we start to doubt and prepare for various things, then it’ll be too slow. We can’t slash them with a slow sword. Let’s just leave that part to Chu hyung.”
“… Understood. Then if we assume that everything goes well, then like I said before, the Exalted Wings will gather in one place. There’s a likely chance that… Exalted Wing Flame-Rain won’t be able to attend. Then only one task remains. Finding a method to defeat the Exalted Wings, who have all gathered in one place… While I am researching all sorts of poisons and weapons, I don’t have anything yet.”
Choi Hyuk nodded.
“Yeah, then let’s focus on that.”
“Focus on Earth’s culture…”
Puppet Shiro was in the Shapley Supercluster’s archive. An immeasurable amount of data was being downloaded into her electronic brain.
Even as she was performing incredible calculations with her mind, Shiro mumbled to herself without realizing.
“The friendship of earthlings… Earthlings provide food or eat together to express friendship. Earthlings enjoy eating.”
With her arms crossed, Shiro’s fingers fidgeted.
“The taste of food is made up of a variety of elements. Textures of food can be smooth, chewy, crispy…”
Because she was looking through various data at once, her mumbling jumped from topic to topic.
“Among earthlings, those known as Koreans prefer a chewier texture compared to other cultures…”
“When eating, they don’t only pay attention to the taste of the food, but also the scent, temperature, comfort of their chair, the mood, and others…”
She suddenly stopped speaking.
Her hands tightly clenched her crossed arms. Kiing! Kiiing! The sound of her gear heart turning rapidly broke the silence.
In a startled voice, she started saying,
“What am I doing…? I came to investigate the monsters that appeared around the Shapley Supercluster on my day off…”
She closed her eyes and did her best to calm her gear heart. Only after trying for a while did she finally succeed. Tik, tok, tik, tok. It returned to its normal sound.
Now that she had calmed down, she began avidly reading information regarding monsters like she had originally planned.
Not much time had passed before her ‘tik-toking’ gear heart began to churn without traction and she started mumbling again.
“When developing relationships, earthlings prefer smaller presents as opposed to bigger ones as they feel less burdened by them…”
The Event Horizon’s First Battle Unit Captain ordered Shiro,
“Shiro, carefully check if we can bring Chu Youngjin into our grand plan. It’s become more sensitive now because the Berserkers confirmed their friendly relationship with Flame-Hell this time. While I know Chu Youngjin was exiled, he might still have a connection we’re not aware of. Gain Chu Youngjin’s trust. Also, figure out what Chu Youngjin thinks about the Berserkers.”
Shiro replied with her signature emotionless face,
Therefore, her ‘only doing her mission’ was the excuse she gave herself. Though, she didn’t think about why she needed an excuse in the first place.
The ‘Event Horizon Troop’ fought hard to protect the Laniakea and Shapley Superclusters.
It hadn’t been long since Choi Hyuk had completely erased the Kahur Kabkuns within these superclusters and fully colonized them. That was why the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters were the only two outer superclusters that didn’t suffer an internal invasion when the monsters launched their large-scale invasion, and because of this safety, they were set up as a stronghold and logistics base.
However, because their defensive line wasn’t completely intact yet, it didn’t take long for the superclusters to become the monsters’ number one target. The border of the two superclusters became the most intense battlefield in this war.
Also, there were two heroes rising in prominence on these frontlines.
Puppet Shiro and Insane Sword Chu Youngjin.
The output of Shiro’s gear heart became better recently. While its accuracy was lower than before, her karma increased and her instantaneous explosiveness became so powerful that people evaluated that her fighting strength had increased.
“Charge in, I’ll cover your back.”
Her tone was stiff as always, but the way she treated Chu Youngjin had changed drastically. It was different from when she used to constantly intervene whenever he tried to charge forward explosively to prevent him from dying and when she used to watch idly, unconcerned whether he died or not, if he didn’t listen to her.
She actively took the lead and devoted herself so that Chu Youngjin could go berserk to his heart’s content while still being safe.
It was the case right now. Chu Youngjin wanted to defeat a highest-ranked monster on the other side.
The highest-ranked monster, which looked like a self-propelled gun composed of lumps of flesh, fired ranged attacks at the Event Horizon Troop, causing significant damage.
However, it wasn’t easy intercepting the monster as it was surrounded by high-ranked monsters and above. Unless they advanced steadily, they would be killed after being isolated from the rest of the group even if they managed to kill the monster.
In a situation where even Chu Youngjin was hesitating, it was Shiro who urged him.
“You don’t need to worry about your return route. Trust me.”
Chu Youngjin smiled at her when she spoke in such a reliable manner. Then, without turning back, he rushed forward. It seemed he was squeezing out all his strength as monsters were scattered in a bloody mess accompanied by the sounds of thunder. In an instant, Chu Younjin pierced his way, creating a long, narrow path, to the highest-ranked monster. Shiro followed closely behind him.
With his characteristic style of squeezing out all his power, he slashed through the monster. As if preplanned, he then immediately fell into a state of exhaustion. Chu Youngjin fell into a situation where he could be skewered by any monster’s teeth or claws. The one who saved him was Shiro, who had followed closely behind him.
She took a deep breath and hugged Chu Youngjin.
Her vision was flooded with monsters, dripping fluids from their bodies.
‘Can I do it?’
In the past, she wouldn’t have even attempted it, but as she gazed at Chu Younjin, who was in her arms,
When she saw his face, her gear heart would churn explosively. Her strength surged instantly. While incomprehensible, it was a fact. Shiro, who objectively calculated her own capacity, knew that, if she was with Chu Youngjin, they would be able to pull through any disadvantageous situation. That was why she could attempt a reckless technique that she wouldn’t have attempted in the past without fear.
Her two feet transformed into what looked to be large rocket boosters.
Hugging Chu Youngjin, Shiro’s body became flat, starting from her head. As soon as her body flattened like a crushed can-
She disappeared from her spot while hugging Chu Youngjin. All the numerous monsters that obstructed their path were simultaneously turned into a bloody haze. Many monsters died powerlessly, unable to counterattack even once.
After returning to a safe location, Chu Youngjin sincerely admired,
“Wow… How did you do that?”
“It was a skill I learned from an elder when I first became an Armored Soul Tribe member…”
“Since there are many differences between Armored Soul Tribe members and other lifeforms… A few skills can achieve an effect greater than one’s level by using remodeled bodies.”
After saying this, Shiro glanced at Chu Youngjin. After cautiously examining his slightly flushed face, which seemed to indicate his sincere admiration, she turned her gaze and mumbled,
“In this respect, Naro, who recently became a highest-ranked warrior and yet refused to receive their education, is truly foolish. Same for Choi Hyuk, who encouraged him. Armored Soul Tribe members need to receive teachings from the elders of their tribe.”
Shiro covertly tested Chu Youngjin’s heart. Hearing her words, Chu Youngjin frowned.
“Choi Hyuk, that bastard…”
Then he shook his head as if he didn’t care or perhaps he didn’t even want to talk about it.
Shiro felt slightly relieved when she saw that he was hostile towards Choi Hyuk. When she turned around, while relieved, the battle seemed to be wrapping up. It was thanks to Shiro and Chu Youngjin flipping the situation around.
‘Is it ending soon? Then…”
After reading the mood, Shiro carefully took out two items she had stored at a cold temperature in her body and then handed one to Chu Youngjin. She raised hers.
“… This is?”
Chu Youngjin was surprised at what Shiro took out. They were cans of beer from Earth.
“I heard earthlings like this. Since you did a good job in battle today, just think of it as a reward given by your superior.”
Shiro said coolly. Yet, her gear heart had been churning rapidly for a while now.
Chu Youngjin gave Shiro an odd look before grinning, cracking open the beer and gulping it down.
When he lowered his can, Shiro had her hand stretched out, handing him something.
It was a white, chewy cheese stick.
“I heard that you had to have something to eat while drinking where you lived. It’s not like I looked it up. My electronic brain contains all the knowledge in the world.”
After finished her excuse-explanation, Shiro handed him the cheese stick and proceeded to gulp down her own beer.
The cheers of warriors erupted at that moment. Monster corpses floated in space, scattering and disappearing, and whenever they did, the starlight, which was covered by them, became more distinct.
‘The mood’s good too…’
Shiro mumbled to herself without being aware of what she was saying.