Volume 3: Age of Ghosts / Chapter 39: Consumables (2)
Words wouldn’t work on monsters. Their heads were simply filled with hatred for other living creatures. There was no reconciliation or surrender. Once they met their gaze, intelligent beings were only left with two choices, either to ‘fight’ or ‘flee’.
At first, there were many who chose to flee. It was expected as 19,000 people out of the 20,000 didn’t know their mission nor did they receive an announcement. Whether they knew how to escape or not was a different story. That was the drastic difference between the fates of ‘Consumables’ and ‘Consumables (Deferred)’.
However, the ones who fled soon realized the truth. They were in the middle of the enemy camp, and there was no place to run. A hopeless fight with their lives on the line commenced.
Amidst this confusion, the ones who received a mission invaded further towards the enemy headquarters. Looking at these people who charged forward without hesitation, the ones who fought desperately regained a sliver of hope… a false hope and followed behind them.
As their destination was the same, the paths of the ones who attempted to penetrate the enemy lines naturally started to overlap. After spending a while seeing only monsters, the number of aliens they saw gradually started to increase. Though they still didn’t see any of the earthlings they caught a glimpse of in the sky.
The aliens were diverse.
Splash, splash, splash!
Choi Hyuk’s party was running while splashing in the knee-deep water.
Right beside them, a feeble-figured alien placed silver machines which emitted blue electric currents on his arms and legs, and flew one palm-width above the water.
Next to them, a 3-meter tall alien with antlers protruding from his head was running in large strides. The water that was knee-deep actually only reached his ankles.
And many green aliens with the hind legs of a frog followed behind them.
“This feels strange.”
Baek Seoin looked around and revealed an ambiguous smile. For them to be able to run alongside aliens in an unknown place! This was unimaginable even just an hour ago. A major premise of the unknown, what could be considered every sci-fi fan’s dream, intelligent alien lifeforms! However, they weren’t much different from humans. Each and every being was silently running for their lives in the darkness while rain fell on them.
Looking at their figures, they even felt a bit of sympathy. Just then, they had penetrated through a wave of monsters and suddenly found themselves in a section where they had room to relax. Baek Seoin, who was filled with curiosity and was troubling over whether to strike a conversation with an alien, suddenly became surprised.
He then jumped up in place. As someone who had 2-star karma stats, he instantly jumped up as high as a 4-story building in a single leap. Instead of jumping, it was more like flying.
Choi Hyuk shouted out as soon as he saw Baek Seoin’s jumping figure. He wrinkled his forehead.
Choi Hyuk jumped and Lee Jinhee and Chu Youngjin jumped after him. They instantly became distant from the ground. At their sudden jumps, four pillars of water gushed up into the air. It seemed like the surrounding aliens were glancing at them. Then…
Following the water pillars, something else erupted up from the water.
Warning signals erupted in front of them like a beehive along with the flustered voices of the aliens.
They were like an octopus’s tentacles. However, the tentacles weren’t only after Choi Hyuk’s group. They, without a sound, crawled along the ocean floor and grabbed the ankles of the aliens all at once. The 3-meter alien with antlers fell into the water as he was dragged away by his leg. “Kiwoo! Kiwooo!” He shouted sorrowfully but there weren’t any aliens who could understand him. Many of the frog aliens’ heads were fully submerged underwater and were incapable of uttering a sound.
Lee Jinhee grumbled as she started falling to the ground.
“Baek hyung! I was wondering why you suddenly jumped, but you jumped only to save yourself?”
“No… It wasn’t something I did intentionally but a reaction, okay? It’s the same thing as suddenly touching a hot pot and instantly taking your hand off!”
Baek Seoin protested. His Intuition, which only activated for his safety, was sometimes like a spinal reflex. He couldn’t do anything about it but it couldn’t be helped that his figure looked like that of someone who was only trying to save himself.
However, Choi Hyuk didn’t blame him.
“Anyways, we were able to avoid it because of you.”
He said before quickly examining the approaching ground below. The tentacles were strong. Their ability to approach undetected underwater and even the instantaneous speed and power they revealed when they latched onto their victims were on par with the wyvern. Choi Hyuk’s face turned serious.
Currently, all the aliens had fallen into the water as the tentacles had grabbed onto their legs. The strength of the tentacles was so strong that they were dragged around and hurled down onto the ground. No aliens were able to resist. The only exceptions were Choi Hyuk’s group and the alien on the silver machine.
That alien was already a palm’s width above the water so he was able to avoid the attack of the tentacles. That wasn’t all, he seemed like he was about to retaliate as well.
His machine became covered by the blue electric currents. Powerful karma flowed down the machine and started to move intricately. Choi Hyuk, who saw this, felt a sense of danger. They had just landed. Choi Hyuk ordered his followers.
“Gather! Jump again!”
Choi Hyuk’s order and Baek Seoin’s skill activation sounded out at the same time. The moment the four landed around Choi Hyuk, they all jumped up once again. Choi Hyuk unsparingly sent the karma beating in his dantian down to form a barrier. The water that splashed up hit the barrier and slid off.
The water and sky shined blue. As if a blue sun had momentarily risen, even the distant horizon brightened.
The alien was surrounded by a white light and couldn’t be seen. The streams of lightning covered the water and even stretched up towards the sky. The tentacle monster, its alien victims and even Choi Hyuk, who had jumped up to avoid it, were swept up by the electric shock.
A sound of rumbling thunder passed and everything returned to darkness.
Choi Hyuk’s group dropped down into the water.
The tentacle monster and aliens who were dragged along by its tentacles were all burnt to crisp and steam was rising from the water. It was as quiet as a mouse. The corpse of the tentacle monster was larger than expected. Its figure was revealed through the moonlight and he could see that its tentacles stretched 70 meters in front of it and were tangled up like tree roots. Though, it was dead and was currently floating in the water.
The silver machine emitted a clear sound as the alien leisurely flew away. And not long after, Choi Hyuk stood up. He wordless drank a potion. Soon after, Baek Seoin slowly got up. The first to stand up was Choi Hyuk but the one who received the least damage was Baek Seoin. It was the result of his [Iron Defense] in addition to Choi Hyuk’s barrier.
Baek Seoin helped his comrades who were embedded in the water up and made them drink potions. Lee Jinhee and Chu Youngjin stood up. Even until then, Choi Hyuk was fully concentrated on recovering.
Choi Hyuk currently had the weakest endurance among his comrades. If they only looked at Endurance, Baek Seoin: 64 (★★), Lee Jinhee: 36 (★★), Chu Youngjin: 24 (★★) and Choi Hyuk: 0 (★★). It was because he had invested all his karma points into Control to kill the Wyvern of Destruction.
Currently, he had over 170 free karma points but he had not used them yet. His Endurance was low but he believed that he could dodge or set up a karma barrier to cover his weakness but…
‘There’s a problem.’
Choi Hyuk stood still as he recalled the events that had just occurred. He had never thought about an omnidirectional attack like the one just now. He couldn’t dodge it. Also, he had to spread the barrier out to protect his comrades. Because of this, he took a lot of damage. The weakly formed ‘Karma Heart’ was his last line of resistance so he didn’t lose consciousness, but his body was a mess.
‘This is pissing me off…’
The thing that really got on his nerves was the fact that the alien emitted a black light (hostility) at the last moment. Since they were in the same situation, he wasn’t sure why he did that, but the alien was definitely hostile towards him. It wasn’t to the point of murderous intent… but the fact that he had taken a loss against someone who was hostile to him gave him an even greater sense of danger.
If he looked at the situation as a whole, it looked like the alien was hostile to all other aliens. As if he wanted the aliens to die with the monster, he didn’t distinguish friend or foe and relentlessly blasted his electric current. Choi Hyuk and his followers were also swept up by its attack.
His electric current was much stronger than he had anticipated. He was able to kill a monster comparable to the wyvern in one shot as well as wound Choi Hyuk and his followers enough to temporarily make them unable to fight.
He ground his teeth. He was extremely angry at the fact he wasn’t able to face him properly. It was the first time he had seen an attack like that. As long as it was a physical attack, Choi Hyuk was confident he could overcome even a landslide but the previous area attack was able to reveal his weakness.
‘It’s going to be different next time we meet…’
Choi Hyuk resolved himself.
Power: 103 (+76) (★★) Speed: 103 (+74) (★★) Control: 0 (3★)
Endurance: 0 (★★) Stamina: 0 (★★) Recovery: 0 (★★)
Retribution points: 20 (3★)
*Free karma points: 173
*Skill: [Soaring Slash]
*Unique Skill: Eyes of Distinction
Currently, besides Control and his Retribution Points, his other 5 stats were only 2-star. If he looked at his stats as a whole, he wasn’t a 3-star nor a 2-star. Once he entered this state, the calculation of karma given became more complicated. That was why Choi Hyuk was unable to rashly invest his points and chose to just save it until now.
He wasn’t given a specific calculation of karma. Only, if he was curious, he could get a rough ‘concept’.
First, a previously unknown fact, he was now able to increase his free karma points by hunting monsters of lower rank than him. Unlike in the past where it wouldn’t increase no matter how many he killed, it was now possible to increase the number by killing large amounts of lower ranked monsters.
Of course, its effectiveness had decreased.
Though he wasn’t able to guess what the specific calculation was, he was able to learn that he needed to kill more monsters the more stars his stats had and the more his Retribution Points increased.
Choi Hyuk currently had Control and Retribution Points that reached 3-star. The rest were at 2-star. In this case, he needed to kill about three or four 2-star monsters to earn 1 karma point. The more stats that reached 3-star, the number of monsters he needed to kill to earn a point became exponentially larger.
That was why it was such a headache. At first glance, it was possible to think that increasing each stat equally was best. As then, he would earn 1 point for every 2-star monster he killed.
However, he would be able to obtain a huge merit by raising the rank of his stats to 3-star. In reality, once he raised his Control stat to 3-star, he was able to at least double the speed at which he hunted 2-star monsters and it also gave him a weapon he could use to stand up to the Wyvern of Destruction so it was definitely beneficial.
Then, as long as he had confidence in drawing out the potential of the upgraded stat, it was definitely beneficial for him. On the other hand, if he wasn’t, it would be a loss. If someone other than Choi Hyuk upgraded his Control stat to 3-star, it didn’t mean that that person would be able to develop a karma blade like Choi Hyuk and it may even become a situation where he pointlessly made it harder for himself to obtain points.
So Choi Hyuk was troubled on which stat to increase or whether he needed to increase them equally or not. If he was going to focus on a single stat, would he focus on Control or another stat?
However, he made up his mind.
‘I can’t push it aside any longer.’
He stepped forward, believing in himself. He invested his karma points without hesitation.
Power: 203 (+76) (★★) Speed: 103 (+74) (★★) Control: 0 (3★)
Endurance: 0 (★★) Stamina: 73 (★★) Recovery: 0 (★★)
Retribution points: 20 (3★)
He put 100 points into Power and 73 into Stamina. He had speculated a situation where he was fighting the alien from before.
‘There are two ways to block its electric shock. Either increase my Endurance and strengthen my body and barrier or increase my Power and increase the repelling force of the barrier. The safest method is increasing Endurance. As increasing Power means I need to have the Control to use Power to defend. So… It’s Power. I need to put Control, my strong point, to good use. I need to block its attack with skill and, in the case of an emergency, finish it in one blow. To win against an opponent stronger than myself, I need more Power than Endurance. Since the best defense is offense.’
He had also increased his Stamina to compliment his increased Power stat. He could recover with different methods, such as with potions, so he didn’t invest in Recovery.
A rounder and stubbier formation would be safer. No matter how he used it, it wouldn’t easily be damaged. On the other hand, a long and pointy formation could easily be broken and become unusable. However, the most useful tools were usually those that were long and pointy.
‘It’s fine as long as I use it well.’
Choi Hyuk organized his thoughts. At that time, his followers had pulled themselves together.
Perhaps it was because the surroundings were the tentacle monster’s territory, but they didn’t see any other monsters. It was fortunate. It would have been difficult if they were attacked before they were able to pull themselves together.
Choi Hyuk looked around. The dreary sight of burnt corpses spread out in the water. The yellow arrow was still present above the raining night sky.
“So, shall we keep going?”
Everyone followed behind Choi Hyuk with more serious expressions. They had recognized that they would have died if they messed up just now.
That tension was necessary but it also made Choi Hyuk feel bad.
‘Just wait until we meet again.’
He was endlessly formulating ways to fight that alien in his mind.
Once they left the territory of the tentacle monster, they once again encountered groups of monsters as well as other aliens.
The closer they came to their target, the more aliens they met.
How far had they come while slicing continuously?
Sounds of gunfire.
A grenade exploded. It wasn’t at the level of firepower of a few pistols and rifles they had seen in Kangdong District. It was… the firepower of a squadron.
They encountered humans in the middle of the fierce battlefield. They were the military that had disappeared.