Episode 11: The Grand Scheme / Chapter 182: Fate (1)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
Spring of the Great Universe.
The day Flame-Sky passed away after killing the demise-ranked monster, white and red flames dyed the dark universe like fluttering cherry blossoms. The desolate universe, which had cooled to the point of almost reaching absolute zero, was filled with warmth like in the distant past.
The Spring of the Universe arrived for everyone indiscriminately. Even the earthlings had seen how the sky had been dyed with light that day, though there weren’t any records of it as characters hadn’t been invented yet. The light touched their souls. Even birds and frogs that hadn’t cried a tear in their entire lives wailed under this light.
It only lasted an hour.
It was magical.
Planets, stars, nebulas, galaxies, dark matter, and Flames of the Beginning. Each and every karma species was as unique as the vastness that separated their homelands. Even though they treated each other with indifference or hostility, they experienced a sense of kinship for the first time that day. In fact, they instinctively realized that they were a part of a single fate, and their hearts broadened.
Because there was spring, the alliance was founded.
Some said that spring had come because they had defeated the fate of demise from a different dimension.
Which was why they inferred that, if another great warrior overcame demise, the universe would experience another spring.
Others said that, since the Spring of the Universe was the symbol of a new fate and unity, those that watched the spring together would be tied by a deep bond.
They said that those who held hands or met gazes when the dark universe turned transparent, where red and white flames fluttered like feathers, would experience love or friendship stronger than ever.
“Euaack! Hah! Hah!”
The day started with Baek Seoin’s scream.
Soaked in cold sweat, Baek Seoin came looking for Choi Hyuk.
“Something, something is wrong. Heu….”
Baek Seoin’s body trembled as he spoke. His Intuition was warning him that a threat to his life was approaching.
Immediately, Choi Hyuk and Baek Seoin rushed to the headquarters. The headquarters itself was a map of the battlefield. Nearby galaxies were shrunken and displayed in this dark space.
The Laniakea and Shapley Superclusters shined and so did the red dots surrounding them.
“It’s not different from yesterday?”
Choi Hyuk tilted his head.
Unlike Baek Seoin’s reaction, there was no change to the frontlines.
“No, there’s definitely something wrong.”
Baek Seoin quickly shook his head. His body trembled like someone suffering from a severe cold.
It seemed serious. There was no doubt that Baek Seoin’s Intuition activated. However, there didn’t seem to be any problem in the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters.
Then the problem might lie beyond them.
“Naro, contact Alliance City.”
Naro’s hologram appeared in the headquarters the instant Choi Hyuk commanded. He shook his head.
“Huh…? I can’t get in contact with them.”
At this ominous premonition, Choi Hyuk furrowed his brows.
“Military gate system! We leave for Alliance City right now!”[…]
However, there was no response from the military gate system as well.
The alliance’s system only went down when the monsters launched large-scale invasions.
They currently weren’t in the middle of fighting, yet the system was down?
Choi Hyuk’s expression became grave.
“What’s going on?”
Even Mack, who was called urgently, was agitated. For all their connections to Alliance City to be cut? She acted quickly to figure out what was going on.
“I will try to contact Armor-Phantom!”
Fortunately, there were no problems with the internal communication network within the superclusters.
However, Commander-in-chief Armor-Phantom was of no help.[What are you saying?]
He too didn’t know what was going on.
His face became stiff once he attempted to contact other superclusters after listening to Mack’s explanation.[… Immediately contact all troops in the Laniakea and Shapley Superclusters and tell them to be on emergency stand-by!]
Emergency standby… While it was a standard command, it was also a frustrating one.
Choi Hyuk, who had been observing the situation, shook his head.
“I will personally patrol the area. Assemble the Flame Army.”
Just as Choi Hyuk turned around to leave, a static sound shook the headquarters.
Choi Hyuk and Mack exclaimed simultaneously.
It was a message from the alliance sent to all troop leaders!
It wasn’t in the form of a communication but was reminiscent of the previous game system – a message floating in front of their eyes.
—————-[Preserve your military strength as much as possible and retreat!]
Connect with other troops and preserve the alliance’s military power.
Currently, the Hercules, Coma, and Perseus-Pisces Superclusters have all been annihilated!
Lania$ea….%%$%&%$ surrounde-… #$%#%#$##^&&$#…
They couldn’t read anything besides the first two lines because of the interference.
The moment Choi Hyuk frowned and raised his head, the battlefield map of the Laniakea and Shapley Superclusters changed.
The red dots, signifying the monsters’ forces, were already densely clustered around the frontlines. The lights were so overwhelming that the headquarters became dyed in a red light.
“Just what is this all of a sudden? While we were resting so well… I thought we’d still have a few more days…”
Lee Jinhee said dispiritedly after having been woken up. It seemed she was so taken aback that she couldn’t believe the current situation.
On the other hand, Baek Seoin, who knew and understood the current situation better than anyone else thanks to his Intuition, barely managed to squeeze a few words out.
“The Hercules, Coma, and Perseus-Pisces Superclusters… Those are all supercluster near the Laniakea and Shapley Superclusters.”
The fact that three superclusters nearby were annihilated meant that they were isolated. This might have been the reason why they couldn’t contact anyone.
The headquarters quickly became chaotic.
Everything was uncertain.
It would still be a problem if they tried to retreat as ordered. They couldn’t move recklessly when they didn’t know the exact military strength of their enemies, an advantageous retreat route, or the support of allies.
First, they needed more information.
While he would prefer not to, Choi Hyuk decided to personally talk with Armor-Phantom.
“Connect me with Armor-Phantom. We need to share info- No, wait!”
Choi Hyuk hastily stopped talking.
He received another message.
In front of him was a separate message given by Flame-Hell.
—————-[Prioritize preserving the Flame Army’s troops!]
This order is the highest prior-%$#$#!
The interference this time seemed worse than before. Still, he understood the gist of it. Flame-Hell wanted to preserve the military strength of the Flame Army over the alliance’s military strength in general.
Just as he frowned, he heard Mack’s voice peak.
“Exalted Wing Leviathan?!”
It seemed Mack had also received a separate order from Leviathan, who was an Exalted Wing of the dragon race. It seemed the message wasn’t fully intact as she looked around, pitifully calling out his name until she eventually sighed and faltered. Her face was as white as a sheet.
It was a mess.
While he didn’t know how they did it, the Shapley and Laniakea Superclusters were surrounded in a single day. Even communications were severed as a precaution. It was to the point that the messages, which barely arrived, seemed like miracles.
However, these messages were a problem on their own.
The orders conflicted.
The alliance hoped for the preservation of the alliance’s military strength as a whole by cooperating systematically, while Flame-Hell prioritized the Flame Army’s survival.
The bigger problem was that that might not be all.
Mack most likely also received a separate order from Leviathan, and Armor-Phantom might have received one from the Armored Soul Tribe as well.
They stressed cooperation to the earthlings, yet Choi Hyuk felt disgusted by their true faces, which became clearer the more he saw them.
“…Leader Choi Hyuk.”
Just then, Mack talked to Choi Hyuk. His gaze met hers.
She had almost been in a panic moments ago, yet she strangely seemed to have calmed down. No, it seemed she had resolved herself.
“I beg you.”
Her spirit enwrapped the headquarters. Though she was only at the early stages of the highest rank, for some reason, her spirit was powerful enough to burrow into Choi Hyuk, who was approaching the peak of the transcendent level.
‘Prepared to die…’
Choi Hyuk could sense her desperate will.
Slowly bowing her head, she said,
“Please protect Dragonic.”
This was completely unexpected.
He had thought that Leviathan’s command would be something like ‘preserve the military strength of the dragon race’ like Flame-Hell’s, but her request was completely different.
“Is there a reason?”
When he asked, Mack raised her lowered head. He saw her tightly clenched lips.
“Knowledge of the ancient dragon race that has yet to be fully deciphered lies in this planet. However, the real issue is the young dragons. The reason why they could be born after such a long time since their extinction was purely because of the El Tribe’s sanctum. You most likely saw the sky made of water on your way here. The sanctum changed Dragonic’s environment like this so that the young dragons could survive. Even if we somehow succeeded in retreating after losing Dragonic, the children would gradually become weaker. They would eventually die soon…”
She seemed quite agitated as her golden horns, which followed behind her blue hair, trembled subtly.
However, Baek Seoin, who was soaked in cold sweat, could only perceive her words as joint suicide.
“What nonsense…! We’ll die!”
Mack calmly and firmly stared at Baek Seoin.
“If I could protect the children through my death, I would readily die multiple times.”
Her blue hair fluttered to reveal glimpses of her Crystal of Sentiment ‘Mack’s Desire’, which contained white lighting.
‘Ahh, so that’s it…’
Seeing her like this, Choi Hyuk felt like he could suddenly understand the division in the alliance.
In the end, the alliance couldn’t unite as a single entity.
While it would be nice if they could fight as effectively as possible against their common foe, the monsters, this was impossible.
In the end, they each prioritized their own species, and they each had something they had to protect.
The great cause known as the ‘victory of karmalings’? That was good, but what good was it if you and your species had all died?
While there would be species that risked their lives for the great cause, if that was true, they would probably already be extinct. Those that survived in the end were those who could weigh profit and losses.
It was this sort of fight, this sort of world.
It was a world where, within this long, tiresome war, those who were fated to die would die and only those who had a reason to live survived.
‘In the end, the reason why they emphasized cooperation and unity during the earthlings’ recruit training… was because they couldn’t.’
Someone had to act for the great cause. Someone had to follow the alliance’s orders while giving up what was more important than their lives.
That was why the recruit training was so brutal.
Choi Hyuk laughed.
What Mack was trying to protect was worth more than her life. Choi Hyuk knew this feeling very well. He was trying to enact revenge on the alliance because he had lost it.
If some other person in the alliance had said this, then he might have ridiculed them to his heart’s content.
However, it was Mack. Even now, the horn Mack had cut was somewhere in his body.
Yet, behind Mack was his enemy, Leviathan. There was no way his current emotions wouldn’t be complicated.
Entangled in his evaluation, Choi Hyuk said in a cynical voice,
“And if we all die? What if we all die a dog’s death trying to protect Dragonic?”
To be honest, this was highly likely since the most outstanding existences in the alliance were confident in their loss and ordered them to retreat.
Nonetheless, Mack affirmed,
“No, support will come. Exalted Wing Leviathan promised this. Support will definitely arrive. Please help us. Then the dragon race will never forget this favor.”
‘That damn Leviathan.’
Whenever he heard his name, Choi Hyuk’s evaluation became more twisted. At the same time, there were faces he recalled.
The young dragons who clung to him.
Choi Hyuk swallowed his groan.
Maybe it was because he believed he owed Mack a debt, because he unknowing came to like the young dragons, or because of Mack’s promise that the dragon race would never forget this favor, while he didn’t know the exact reason, it weighed on his mind.
The problem was the fact that it weighed on his mind since Choi Hyuk’s fate started with ‘never losing’.
If he backed out like this, it would be a loss. There wouldn’t be a problem if this didn’t weigh on his mind…
Fate wasn’t decided but was rather carried out. After having never comprised, Choi Hyuk’s fate might stop here today.
‘If that happens, my growth might halt as well.’
It wasn’t that Dragonic weighed on his mind. Even though he would lose Flame-Hell’s trust that he had arduously accumulated if he messed up, even though he could die, unable to fulfill his revenge, and even though he felt vexed thinking about Leviathan, this still weighed on his mind. Also, Choi Hyuk couldn’t choose to lose.
Seeing Choi Hyuk, who was deep in thought, Mack stressed once more,
“Support will arrive. We will win.”
She said, ‘We will win,’ rather than ‘We can win.’
These words moved Choi Hyuk.