Episode 11: The Grand Scheme / Chapter 179: Frontlines (2)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
‘My target is all 13 Exalted Wings.’
Chu Youngjin mulled over those words. This was what Choi Hyuk had said when they met on the Blue Ocean Planet, and Chu Youngjin had accepted his plans since he didn’t really have anything else to do and detested the world.
‘Event Horizon Troop. There must be at least one Wing behind them. That Wing… if it isn’ Flame-Rain, then they’ll end up as my enemy.’
The Event Horizon Troop was the troop Chu Youngjin was a member of, and it had made significant contributions to the defensive battle in the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters. Chu Youngjin looked around at the warriors who were in formation, ready for another battle.
While he was used to it now, they were clearly different from other troops. This elite troop was indiscriminately made up of young masters and ladies from the top four tribes and people from the borders like Chu Youngjin. Be it from aliens with outer appearances similar to humans to furry ones that looked like beasts, or aliens that floated in space like a fish or a jellyfish to aliens that squirmed like snakes or worms and aliens that were composed of liquid or gas, these aliens, these warriors of the alliance, were so diverse in appearances that they were indistinguishable from monsters from a human’s perspective.
Chu Youngjin had become used to this strange sight. Now, when he looked around, he saw many familiar faces, many of whom he could put a name to. Even though he had only been here for a short period of time, they had already gone through a countless number of life-or-death situations together.
Filling his vision with their faces, Chu Youngjin calmly thought,
‘So I’ll betray them eventually.’
He was to figure out who was behind them, obtain and use their trust before killing them all. That was Choi Hyuk’s goal. As long as he planned on walking this path, Chu Youngjin couldn’t avoid his inevitable betrayal.
Shiro had, at some point, arrived. She stood next to Chu Youngjin and looked at their troop members while saying,
“While I don’t know how much you knew before joining, but this place is different from the alliance. We don’t discriminate warriors by where they came from. Since we only prioritize skill, we always achieve the greatest results.”
For some reason, it seemed her expressionless face was shining with pride.
With his gaze still on the troop members, Chu Youngjin asked,
“Is it similar to Exalted Wing Flame-Rain’s aim?”
He was answered with a sharp reply.
“No. Exalted Wing Flame-Rain is too much of an idealist. She wants harmony amongst species and gives opportunities to the weaker species. It’s not effective.”
‘So Flame-Rain isn’t behind them?’
While thinking this, Chu Youngjin mulled over Shiro’s words.
“What I’m saying is, rather than vague concepts like harmony and risky investments, we prefer concrete battles and warriors who are useful right away.”
Shiro nodded her head. A subtle, almost indiscernible smile spread on her lips.
Chu Youngjin met her gaze and asked,
“Is that the world you want?”
At his question, her cold, hard eyes melted like thin ice and wavered. She seemed to be reminiscing.
“No. What I want is simply war… I am the creation of a species that became extinct due to the monsters. I was a battle puppet that fought against monsters in my masters’ stead. However, I couldn’t complete my mission. My masters were all slaughtered by the monsters, and because of that, I was reborn by succeeding their fate. While my present self is a completely different existence from the past… Still, my heart is engraved with resentment towards the monsters. I… I don’t know what kind of world I want. Only, I know what kind of war I want very well.”
He looked into her eyes, which seemed to shimmer with light, looking almost tearful, before turning away and mumbling,
“… Sounds lonely.”
Shiro’s eyes rippled.
“What did you say?”
When she said that, Chu Youngjin met her gaze once more and simply said,
“I mean if that’s the kind of war you want, then that’s also the kind of war I want.”
Shiro’s frozen eyes shook. She turned her back towards him and said,
“Just what are you…? No, so that’s it. I’ll keep that in mind.”
While Shiro’s electronic brain was calculating at incredible speeds, all her thoughts ended up as errors and she couldn’t calculate anything.
‘What does he mean? Is he agreeing with me? If that’s the case, then won’t it be fine to bring him into our grand scheme? No, no. Then what did he mean by ‘sounds lonely’? And what about, ‘if that’s the kind of war you want’? Rather than agreeing with me about our cause, maybe he- No, what am I saying? Me? What does that mean? Anyways, why is my gear heart overheating? But did I just say that ‘I’ll keep that in mind’? What did I mean by ‘keep that in mind’? As expected, the great cause? No, Chu Youngjin’s… feelings. No, just what are his feelings?!’
When she tried to come to a rational conclusion, she didn’t like it for some reason, and when she tried to come to a conclusion emotionally, she couldn’t comprehend her emotions.
Shiro disappeared after saying that ‘she would keep that in mind’ without another word.
Chu Youngjin watched her leave before smiling bitterly and mumbling,
“Those words came out easily.”
Feeling awkward, he looked out at the troop members again as he recalled a word again.
War was glorious and full of hope.
While the frontlines receded and there were superclusters that were completely subjugated by the monsters due to their sudden invasion, there was still hope because of the actions of heroes in various places.
Transcendent warriors, who raised their names onto the alliance’s ranking, quickly emerged, and the names of heroes who had won consecutive victories spread rapidly.
As the war waged longer, warriors, either knowingly or not, became nervous.
‘No matter how much I think about it, I don’t think the monsters are using their full strength. How will it look when the monsters invade us at full strength?’
When this discussion broke out, people concluded that ‘they could take them on’.
While the monsters were strong, the warriors of the alliance didn’t lose out to them. They achieved as many consecutive defeats as they did victories.
This gave hope to the warriors.
And the one who gave the biggest hope among them was Choi Hyuk and his ‘Flame Army’.
The Flame Army fought on the most intense battlefield, the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters, and their performance made them quickly exceed the Event Horizon Troop, which Chu Youngjin was a member of, in fame.
The obvious name ‘Flame Army’ was of course assigned to them by Flame-Hell. He strengthened their military power with the Blue Manes punitive force as their core, and they became a leading troop in terms of power.
The ‘Flame Army’, which was filled with many promising rookies of the top four tribes, especially those of the Flame Wing Tribe who were the leading power in the alliance, gave a new hope to alliance members.
Of course, the war was cruel.
It was especially cruel to species that possessed the ‘Consumables’ fate.
However, to those who had already become alliance members, this didn’t concern them much.
“Heuuuuk! I… I can’t die like this!”
Screams filled a distant area in the universe.
A wall made of blood and flesh to block the pouring monster army. The Consumables fulfilled their duty by being horribly crushed. These lives, who had endured the hardship of the alliance as Consumables and had, at times, betrayed their own family and friends to survive, were dying powerlessly.
Choi Hyuk and the Flame Army motionlessly watched the mass of deaths. During this time, an endless number of new Consumables poured out onto the monsters’ formation through the military gate system, and the monsters became drunk from the amount of karma and blood they had consumed.
Choi Hyuk, who had been coldly watching this scene, finally opened his mouth.
The technique, officially known as ‘monster armor’, where two monsters combined into one, with one of them becoming a weapon, was created in order to resist karma weapons and was very effective. Because of this technique, various galaxy clusters collapsed, and multiple galaxies were subjugated. However, it wasn’t like the alliance was standing still since Choi Hyuk first reported the existence of this ‘monster armor’.
The method the alliance found in nullifying ‘monster armor’ was throwing Consumables as bait. Since monster armor was made up of two different monsters fighting as one body, it became easier to face them once they broke their cooperation. As they continued to easily slaughter their prey, the monster that had transformed into the armor and weapons began to become immersed in the slaughter, tossing its command to cooperate to the side. Then the ‘monster armor’ effect of ‘1+1=2.5’ became ‘1+1=1.7’, making it worse than fighting separately.
So sacrificing Consumables was the simplest and most effective tactic in dealing with monster armors.
Of course, there were drawbacks.
Those with monster armors were normally elites, therefore, if they slipped up, the battle could end in their loss, rendering the consumption of Consumables useless. They couldn’t use this tactic if they weren’t certain of their victory. However, Choi Hyuk’s Flame Army always used this tactic to slaughter elite monster armies. It would be the same this time as well.
The moment Choi Hyuk said, ‘Now’, flames erupted to devour the universe. The Consumables, who were groaning as they were being ripped apart by the monsters, and the monsters, who were drunk on blood as they devoured the Consumables, were both erased by the flames.
The flames the countless Flame Wing Tribe warriors spewed made the battlefield feel like their homeland, which was now blazing with the Flames of Beginning, flames that had never ceased to burn since the Big Bang.
The most eye-catching thing in those flames was Choi Hyuk’s dangerously surging black flames.
The battle, which waged in the flames, ended in half a day and would be added as another victory for the alliance.
Even though they were exhausted from fighting, the warriors were happy at their consecutive victories.
“Wow… To be honest, while the other top four tribes are amazing, as expected, aren’t the warriors from the Flame Wing Tribe the best?”
“Of course! They’re fiery! While the Dark Tribe warriors, who are skilled in one-on-one fights, and the Armored Soul Tribe warriors, who lead the battle with their diverse set of skills, are amazing, it’s so refreshing to see the Flame Wing Tribe warriors push forward with their strength!”
“Amongst them, Leader Choi Hyuk’s black flames are… Wow, I’m at a loss for words. Whether they were highest-ranked monsters or whatever, they would all become ash in one second.”
“But Choi Hyuk isn’t a member of the Flame Wing Tribe, right?”
“Hey, hey. While I can’t say for much else, those flames are clearly more like the Flame Wing Tribe’s than anyone else’s.”
The Flame Army’s fame became Choi Hyuk’s fame, and Choi Hyuk’s fame became the Flame Wing Tribe’s fame.
Even the young Flame Wing Tribe warriors, who arrogantly said things like, ‘The best we can do is act like we’re fighting before retreating,’ during the Blue Manes expedition, underwent a drastic change and now praised Choi Hyuk ahead of anyone else. It was to the point where there were even some who called him ‘Flame-Hyuk’.
While he could be considered as a sweet hope for some, to others, he was also a source of frustration.
“What? You want me to back off after providing you with Consumables again? Look here… I am the commander-in-chief of this place and the operational authority lies with me! Are you ignoring the chain of command?”
Armor-Phantom, who was the commander-in-chief of both the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters as well as a transcendent warrior who ranked 71st in the alliance ranking, didn’t hide his displeasure. Rather, he intentionally vented his anger.
Yet, Choi Hyuk didn’t give him the opportunity to vent.
“Then what? Are you going to block the monsters with your newly recruited Armored Soul Tribe novices? Don’t embarrass yourself and just send Consumables as you’ve been doing.”
After saying this without even the slightest change to his expression, Choi Hyuk left the meeting room. Yet, there was nothing Armor-Phantom could say since Choi Hyuk and his Flame Army were achieving consecutive victories that no one else could. If not for him, they couldn’t hope for the safety of the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters.
While emitting a piercing sound as the metallic pieces of his body rubbed against each other, Armor-Phantom could do nothing else but glare at Choi Hyuk’s disappearing figure.
“It seems Choi Hyuk is doing well…”
Dark-Sound had a smile on his face as he gathered the reports brought up from various parts of the universe. As planned, Choi Hyuk obtained Flame-Hell’s trust while accumulating the malice of the other top four tribes.
The sword known as Choi Hyuk was almost complete.
“It’s really close now…”
He felt like he could finally see the fruits of the humiliation and shame he had endured while smiling all this time.
“We will complete the grand scheme before this war ends. To do that… I need another hero who can replace Choi Hyuk…”
Tapping his fingers, Dark-Sound became immersed in his thoughts. Quiet footsteps suddenly resounded in the dark, dreary space in which he was alone. The footsteps became quicker, and at some point, they were in front of him.
“Exalted Wing Dark-Sound.”
It was a voice without any big deviations in pitch. However, he could tell that she was very happy to see him by her slightly higher tone.
Dark-Sound friendlily greeted the woman, who was his trusted, reliable subordinate and was like his child as he had taken care of her since young.
“You’re here? I guess you’re doing your job well, Shiro?”
One of the rising heroes of the Event Horizon Troop, Shiro. Her eyebrows, which looked like they had been drawn on, slightly rose, indicating her delight.