Episode 3: Age of Ghosts / Chapter 41: Consumables (4)
[Don’t get agitated. Think of your place. Deferred judgment holders. A bunch who will be annihilated if you don’t carry out your mission properly. Carry out your mission. I’ll let you live. You have to understand how much goodwill I’m giving you.]
The alien said. His words were as if he was domesticating humans. ‘Don’t get agitated. Think logically. I am saying this for your own good.’
However, Choi Hyuk was thinking of something else.
‘I can’t fight while protecting my followers.’
To fight while protecting his followers? From the start, he never recruited them for that purpose. They were followers he gathered so that he could fight better and fight to his heart’s content. Well, until he could reach that unknown place and break those who created this game. If it was possible, it was best to keep them alive but if it wasn’t, then it wasn’t.
The more distant your goal was, the more risk you had to take. To do so, didn’t he gather followers who he thought wouldn’t die?
Choi Hyuk turned around.
“I will act alone. Do you best to survive. Baek hyung, help them out. Don’t try to live by yourself.”
Against an alien who could use ranged attacks, his followers would only impede his actions.
As if he understood his intentions, Baek Seoin took Lee Jinhee and Chu Youngjin away. They ran towards their target, the large cocoons.
Choi Hyuk turned back and stared at the alien again.
“So… you haven’t received a deferred judgment?”
He asked as he dangled the Predator’s Blade. The faint white color the alien was emitting was starting to mix with black. It seemed it was displeased with Choi Hyuk’s attitude.[… I am the Lowest Ranked Warrior, Keholeun. I am also known as Dawn Lightning. But you… want to die?]
Keholeun felt regretful at this moment.
‘As expected of this alien bunch… They say if you give them a part, they’ll ask for the machine. It’s pitiful that he thinks I’m a pushover and is trying to walk all over me.’
He blamed himself. The words of his seniors weren’t wrong. ‘Consumables’ and ‘Consumables (Deferred)’ didn’t listen to words but only to lightning.
‘What’s more, isn’t he trying to pick a fight with me?’
The Karma Device-01 that Keholeun was riding on analyzed Choi Hyuk’s karma and displayed it. His Control was okay but the rest were awful, sitting at 2-star.
‘This thing is baring its teeth against me? Ha… really… He’s just wasting my time. It’s better to just deal with him quickly and activate the return code.’
During this time, Choi Hyuk was observing Keholeun.
The black light emitting from his body became darker and, at some point, a red light started to mix with it.
However, it was only the intent. Meaning, this was his opportunity. Choi Hyuk moved a step forward while his opponent was still thinking about attacking.
Choi Hyuk’s body disappeared into thin air.
Keholeun became surprised and let out a shout. His speed was beyond his expectation. Keholeun wasn’t able to react in time.
Instead, the Karma Device-01 he was riding on reacted. Blue electric currents spread out like a net and then struck his body, pushing him away.
A karma heart was beating in Choi Hyuk’s dantian. The heart pumped karma out of his body and the expelled karma wrapped around him, creating a barrier. Then the karma that was circulating around his body was recalled back into him. It was similar to how veins and arteries worked. The barrier didn’t stop for even a moment as it circulated around Choi Hyuk. His Power was 203 (★★). He was putting out energy similar to that of a 1,000-horsepower supercar.
The electric net that was meant to protect Keholeun was dispersed left and right. The trait of Choi Hyuk’s barrier wasn’t its toughness but its offensive power that was able to smash apart lightning.
Choi Hyuk, who had penetrated through the electric net, extended his blade.
“Goodbye. Lowest. Ranked. Warrior. Keholeun.”
Keholeun’s prior words seemed to have hurt Choi Hyuk’s pride since he even went out of his way to provoke the alien, which was something he had never done before.
He seemed to be in such a hurry that he screamed untranslated words.
His karma heart violently thumped once more.
And the karma suffused within the blade accelerated. Everything was dyed blue.
Though the machines surrounding Keholeun momentarily resisted.
It was eventually split in two.
Blue blood scattered in the air. The instant the blood met the atmosphere, it evaporated.
Keholeun died without a croak. He was definitely strong. He may have even been strong enough to roast the Wyvern of Destruction without much difficulty. However, his figure was similar to that of a human’s. Even with the fact that he was small enough to be sliced by a sword; he had overrated himself in front of Choi Hyuk.
Choi Hyuk didn’t even give Keholeun the chance to show his skills.
Something came out of his body and was ingrained into Choi Hyuk’s body. The corpse was a bit haggard but it didn’t complete fade away. Up until the [Throne Game], corpses turned to ash and were absorbed into his body but, at some point, they started to remain intact.
[Opponent’s stats were on average 3-star. Calculating obtained karma. Opponent’s Retribution Points 310 (★★★). Absorption rate increased. Granted 16 free karma points.]
Choi Hyuk possessed Retribution Points 20 (★★★). There was a whopping difference of 290 between him and Keholeun. It looked as though the number of points he obtained depended on how high his opponent’s stats and Retribution Points were. Choi Hyuk invested 10 of his newly obtained points into Power and the remaining 6 into Stamina.
The Karma Device-01 slowly dropped to the ground after losing its power. Choi Hyuk put that, which was split in two, as well as Keholeun’s corpse into his Handy Bag…
Cho Hyuk let out a deep breath. The karma in his body felt heavy. It was because he had overworked his karma to not draw the battle out.
It was now time for him to quickly activate a return code.
As he took a few breaths while he looked at the situation of the battlefield, he gave a hollow smile.
“What a sight.”
Captain Lee Kangjin couldn’t believe the current situation. Was the ‘unity’ he had so much confidence in so weak? It had fallen apart far too easily.
A scream. Another troop member was murdered. Yes, they could be murdered. As the aliens were too fucking strong. However, the thing that agonized Captain Lee Kangjin was the fact that the murderers were the ones who they had been together, through thick and thin, with or members of other troops.
“Jang Sudong, you bastard…”
Captain Lee Kangjin grit his teeth tightly. The [2 minutes 17 seconds] above the dying squad member disappeared and appeared above First Sergeant Jang Sudong. Time passed even then. [2 minutes 15 seconds]
“Captain Lee. I understand your feelings. However, Captain Lee needs to live. To me. To me, those who I’m close with are a million times more precious than those who I am not. Captain Lee! You must live. I understand what you think of me… Let’s first live. You can beat me up once we live! I will help you. Let’s go together.”
The only comrade from Captain Lee Kangjin’s original troop was First Sergeant Jang Sudong. Behind him were executives and soldiers First Sergeant Jang Sudong was close with and above their heads were timers just like his. For those who still did not have one, First Sergeant Jang Sudong would obtain one for them. Even if it meant killing their other comrades.
“Fuck off, bastard. For me to have considered you my comrade…”
Captain Lee Kangjin tightly gripped the handle of his two-handed blade as if hoping to crush it. How had it become like this? A few minutes. That was all it took for everything to change.
Activating the return code. That was the problem.
Major Kang Choongil’s plan of trying to obtain a return code for everyone before anyone else was all in vain.
“Youngest! Slice the cocoon and hurry on back!”
The imposing cocoon. Even though its pulsating figure was wrapped in a cocoon, it was still scary to approach. However, the youngest soldier didn’t hesitate when he heard Major Kang Choongil’s orders and rushed to rip the cocoon.
A cry sounded out the moment he ripped into the cocoon. At the same time, sharp blade-like legs stretched out from within. The youngest hurriedly dodged.
The staggering monster that appeared from within the cocoon looked to be in pain. However, even still, its speed was incredibly fast.
At the same time a soldier’s leg was cut off, Major Kang Choongil ordered.
The monster, whose body wasn’t well because it had hatched too early, couldn’t endure the concentrated gunfire. As its knee became crooked, Major Kang Choongil shouted.
“Youngest! Kill it and activate the return code!”
It was out of consideration to send the youngest first. The youngest didn’t decline. It was because he had learned through experience that nothing would piss someone more than this sort of modesty in a battlefield of life and death.
The youngest rushed out with an ax. The youngest cut the legs of the monster, that wasn’t able to balance itself due to the oncoming gunfire and smashed its head. Because it hadn’t completed its evolution, its endurance was weak. Its head was crushed like tofu.
The moment he killed the monster, its corpse turned to ash and was absorbed into the return code on his arm.
Something appeared above his head.[5 minutes]
The youngest reported with a pale face.
“The corpse is transforming into return energy… It says it needs 5 minutes to activate!”
5 minutes, that was the problem, as were the other aliens.
As more squadron members obtained the codes, the approximately 1,000 aliens started to openly stare at them. It seemed as though the aliens were contemplating whether slicing the cocoons or hunting the humans who had obtained return codes would be safer.
Major Kang Choongil said coldly as he raised their spirits. The squadron stared at their surroundings while protecting themselves. Then, the aliens started to lose interest in them. They realized that it would be a loss to fight them. However, there were also aliens who were provoked by their actions.
[Good! Let’s play! I am the Lowest Ranked Warrior Keushisuit!]
He was an enormous alien. He was 5 meters tall, had deer-like antlers that shined in various colors and wore gauntlets made of metal on his hands. His long, coiled rope-like muscles rippled as he kicked the ground with his long leg and closed in on the squadron.
At Major Kang Choongil’s scream-like shout,
The squadron started to shoot all at once. However, the alien’s antlers emitted a light and each and every bullet missed.
As if they were hit by a bulldozer, their frontlines were destroyed.
The alien, who had entered their formation in a single breath, swung his arms and pierced the chests of Major Kang Choongil and the youngest. It all happened in an instant.[What the? How boring.]
He grumbled as he bit off the head of Major Kang Choongil who was pierced by his right hand.[Doesn’t taste bad.]
He said as he bit off the head of the youngest next.
As soon as the youngest died, the timer above his head disappeared and reappeared above the alien. [2 minutes 32 seconds]
The squadron fell into a state of shock. Their tactics that had brought them brilliant achievements until now were utterly destroyed. Bullets couldn’t block him and close ranged fighters couldn’t keep up with his charging speed.
The sight of an overwhelming alien, who was 5 meters tall, eating Major Kang Choongil and the youngest’s heads (what was more, he was evaluating their taste) was extremely horrifying.
Major Kang Choongil, who had put their confusion to rest… had become an alien’s snack and died.
That was the end of the squadron.
They all started to scatter and flee. That wasn’t all. A soldier, who panicked at the fear of death, killed another soldier who had activated a return code.
He had understood that return codes could be stolen with the youngest’s death. It was true. They could be stolen.
When they saw that, other squadron members became even more panicked and, paradoxically, the second murder of a fellow soldier occurred more easily. He even had a good cause. “How could you kill a fellow comrade! You bastard!”
The squadron instantly collapsed and the other aliens started to attack at this opportunity. It was utter chaos. The ones, who didn’t have the confidence to kill the monsters in the cocoons, targeted the aliens or even fellow comrades who had already activated return codes and they, in turn, desperately resisted and fled.
“Gather! Where are you going! Be logical!”
Captain Lee Kangjin shouted but no one listened.
Their rationality had disappeared and
It was replaced with the obsession, ‘I need to survive!’
The one who distinguished himself amongst them was First Sergeant Jang Sudong. He showed complete confidence to the panicked comrades he was close with. “Just follow me. Then you can live. Even if I die, I’m going to let you live.” Though his words were unfounded, his figure was filled with confidence. Even in this mess, he was able to clearly create ‘his side’. He would risk his life for those who were on his side but to those who were beyond that fence, even if they were once his comrades, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill them and take their return codes.
In conclusion, First Sergeant Jang Sudong was competent while Captain Lee Kangjin was not.
The first sergeant revealed a regretful expression.
“Captain Lee. Though I like you… this isn’t right. Just look around you. Who is there? Did you save even a single life? You damn bastard! You fucking bastard! Who will live if you shout like that?”
His body trembled violently. Receiving insults from this shameless guy, who would kill his comrades to live, was simply disgraceful.
“Tsk… Then take care.”
Eventually, he clicked his tongue and left.
The trembling captain looked up with a foolish expression. The ones who slaughtered humans as well as aliens. They were on a whole other level of strong. There were around 10 aliens who were like that. The more than 1,000 aliens were quickly decreasing as they were slaughtered by these 10 aliens. There were rare cases where one would endure until the timer ran out or lucked out and stole the timer just before it did and returned.
Lee Kangjin discovered the alien with the antlers among them. He was the bastard who killed Major Kang Choongil and the youngest. His timer had already ended but he didn’t return and, instead, was preoccupied with killing others.
“Uahhh! You bastard!”
Captain Lee Kangjin’s two-handed sword creaked as he gripped it. Bang! He shot forward tens of meters like a rocket. He aimed for the back of his head. Lee Kangjin’s karma was around the mid to late 2-star stage. He was definitely not weak.
Only, the alien with antlers was too strong. He didn’t even turn around and kicked his chest with his hind leg.
Captain Lee Kangjin flew off while spurting blood.[Oh? You weren’t pierced?]
He turned around and looked towards Lee Kangjin with an amazed expression. He showed interest and approached the collapsed Lee Kangjin…[Deferred judgment holder, you’re quite good for trash?]
He crouched down next to him.
Although Lee Kangjin was in shock and his arm was trembling, he decided to use his interest to his favor.
He drank a Recovery potion and started to talk while spitting blood. It was to gain time for his unmoving arm to recover due to his smashed chest.
“Keuk… ptui! Ha… Why do you kill us?”
Was his question funny? The alien laughed.
[Why do I kill? Puahaha. Hmm. I guess it’s different for everyone? For me, I just kill because it’s fun.]
The alien explained friendlily as he came closer.[Look there. At those trash who kill to live. They aren’t even strong. That’s why you guys received the Consumables judgment. And think about it. Only 100 people can return anyways. Since the ones who remain here are all going to die, isn’t it better of them to die by my hands and contribute as an additional point of karma for me?]
“Fucking… bastards… cough.”
Lee Kangjin vomited blood as he placed his hand in his bosom. He held a dagger. Even if he died, he wanted to see this bastard bleed. He flexed his arm. It seemed that he had recovered during that time as power burst into his arm.
However, before his arm could even touch the alien, it was crushed by the alien’s hand.
“Guaah!”[And above all. Because I can. Because you are so weak that I can play with you before you die. Because you can’t retaliate. Isn’t that a reason?]
Captain Lee Kangjin bit his lips. It was a disgrace to even let this bastard hear his screams. His eyes became bloodshot.
Though he couldn’t tell what kind of expression he had because he was an alien, he was painfully aware that he was mocking himself and humanity.
[That’s why it’s your fault for being weak. You Consumables.]
His voice sounded out.
However, that reply… wasn’t Lee Kangjin’s.
A shadow was cast above Lee Kangjin’s head.
The clear sound of a sword followed afterwards.[Kuak!]
Dirt rose up along with the alien’s flustered voice.
Captain Lee Kangjin lost his vision momentarily. He heard something hit and break something. Then, his vision returned.
[Who are… you.]
On one side was the alien with one of his antlers cut off.
“Choi Hyuk. A human.”
He saw a young man wielding a pitch black sword.