SoJ Episode 5 Chapter 67

Episode 5: Citizenship / Chapter 67: Advancement Evaluation (1)

TL: emptycube

Editor: Obelisk


 

This time, the fight really had ended.

There were 8,000 surviving Berserkers. The fight this time had left an unprecedented number of casualties in the history of the Berserkers. There was nothing more to say when 1/5 of their total members had died.

“By the looks of it, it seems the losses from the second free-for-all are large.”

Baek Seoin’s voice was depressed.

What they earned was significant. With the completion of the Sovereign Mission, even if they only considered the indirect rewards the Berserkers earned, everyone’s Retribution had increased by 10 and they also received 3 free karma points as a reward for being the first to succeed in an exchange between colonized lands. (Choi Hyuk’s Retribution increased by 10, and he earned 10 free karma points.) Not only that, but due to the unprecedented level of intensity from their fight, the ‘Combat Addict’ traits had activated, and they each received a plentiful amount of karma.

However, the losses were too large for them to simply be happy. 4,000 casualties. If they accounted for the wounded as well, no one was unscathed.

Although the Berserkers were known to have the highest casualty rates compared to other organizations, the majority were from the deaths and injuries of new recruits. The veterans, who had polished themselves in the Berserkers, were monsters who were able to return from the most hellish situations with a smile. Yet, this time, people had died or gotten injured without a distinction between veterans and new recruits.

The mental blow from this was just as large.

 

“…”

Alexei silently bit his lip as he followed behind Lee Jinhee.

Lee Jinhee was looking for her left arm that had been sliced off while she was trying to save Alexei. However, she was unable to find it. Alexei’s expression became gloomier.

Lee Jinhee roughly stroke his head with her remaining right arm.

“It’s fine. Lyosha, I can get the guardian to regrow it, so don’t worry.”

“…”

Alexei didn’t reply and only bit his lip harder. Of course, Guardian Bae Jinman could regrow her arm. However, when there were this many patients, he couldn’t help but feel burdened by using such a high skill like regrowing limbs. Since it wasn’t like she would die right away if she didn’t have her left arm, there was no doubt she would have to wait 1-2 weeks to regrow her left arm.

“I’m sorry… I will get stronger…”

Alexei thought that Lee Jinhee, who he idolized, became hurt because he was weak. Although he was only barely able to speak those words because he was deeply ashamed, his insides were boiling.

When she saw Alexei like this, Lee Jinhee clicked her tongue.

“Don’t be in such a hurry, Lyosha. If you can’t distinguish between when you should jump in and when you shouldn’t, you will never be strong. Okay? Burning heart, cool head.”

As she said this, Lee Jinhee placed her remaining hand onto Alexei’s forehead. Her fingers, which had become chilly due to blood loss, cooled Alexei’s burning forehead.

Perhaps it was at this moment when Alexei completely fell for Lee Jinhee. Of course, he was unable to express this in the current mood… Alexei’s eyes quaked. He bent his waist and bowed.

“I will bear that in mind, teacher!”

“What teacher?”

Lee Jinhee snorted and left. From a distance, Choi Hyuk shouted.

 

“Directors, gather for a moment!”

 

**

The directors gathered. Even though they had won, none of them were excited. They were all ill-tempered as if they were asking why he called them when they were dead tired.

He couldn’t blame them either. Lee Jinhee’s left arm had been cut off, Artillery Captain Handke’s thigh was still bleeding, and Chu Youngjin was standing blankly. Ryu Hyunsung was better off than them, but his eyes were filled with drowsiness. An expression that said he wanted to quit everything and sleep. Guardian Bae Jinman was unable to attend because he had to treat the wounded.

“Damn… That stubborn old man. We’re both getting old, and he’s like that…”

The person Handke was bitching and grumbling about was Bae Jinman. Since he thoroughly treated people in order of dangerous wounds instead of rank, Handke was pushed back even though he was a top executive. No, he was refused. ‘Fix that sort of wound with your own Recovery!’ was what Bae Jinman prescribed him. Although his life wasn’t at risk, someone like Handke, who had low Recovery, would have to bear this pain for half a day.

Because they had gathered disorderly, Handke’s mumblings were buried under the racket.  Once they had each found a spot and quieted down, Handke’s mumblings clearly stood out. Handke, who was diligently cursing Bae Jinman, suddenly felt embarrassed and closed his mouth.

 

Only then did Choi Hyuk open his mouth. He got straight to the point.

“We are going to explore.”

At his words, the top executives raised their heads like zombies. ‘Explore? Right now? Seriously?’ That was what was written on their faces.

“We can’t move while the critically wounded are being treated anyways.”

After saying that, Choi Hyuk gestured to the back with his chin. There was a white building which looked to be a fortress. In the beginning, the monsters were gathered around that building as if sieging it.

“Since we don’t know what’s in there, executives need to take the lead. Ah, mister Handke can stay here since he’s wounded.”

Handke clenched his fists in happiness at Choi Hyuk’s consideration for him.

“Jinhee nuna stay here as well.”

Choi Hyuk called out Lee Jinhee a tempo later. Then, like he expected, Lee Jinhee opposed,

“What! You’re telling me to stay here when there’s a trace of an alien civilization right in front of me? That’s not right, leader!”

Even though one of her arms were cut off, she was still full of vigor. She added grumpily,

“I’m already upset because so many died, don’t take away my joy as well.”

Choi Hyuk looked at her. She clearly distinguished between her likes and dislikes. However, she didn’t dawdle in what she didn’t like and needed to find what she liked.

Alexei, who overheard her, shouted, “Director, are you crazy?!” But Lee Jinhee counter argued, “Is getting your arm cut off something to fuss about? In such a great world where you can regrow them?”

Choi Hyuk simply grinned. She was definitely an interesting person.

“Then, do what you want.”

The exploration members were decided.

Starting with Choi Hyuk, it included Chu Youngjin, Ryu Hyunsung, Baek Seoin, Lee Jinhee and Alexei, who begged to participate.

 

“We leave in 30 minutes.”

Choi Hyuk needed a break as well. Since he had also used ‘Heart Injection’, his karma had completely collapsed. Although the 1-hour exhaustion period, which didn’t let him recover, had ended, he hadn’t recovered enough yet. He didn’t show it, but his body was heavy like a cotton ball doused in water.

Once Choi Hyuk ordered, the executives vigorously shouted, “Yes!”, then staggered away like zombies.

 

As if he found this amusing, Baek Seoin laughed as he stood next to Choi Hyuk.

“Still, because they survived due to our leader, we are able to see them like that. I really thought we might’ve died for a change.”

Baek Seoin would normally take command and handled household matters in Choi Hyuk’s stead. He was a talented advisor. However, things that were impossible for him to handle with his own power were eventually resolved by Choi Hyuk. It was the same this time as well.

“Thank you.”

Said Baek Seoin bashfully.

However, as if asking why he would say such pointless words, he didn’t reply and sat down on a moderate pile of machines.

Then he pointed to another pile and said one thing.

“Baek hyung should rest as well.”

 

**

Deep into the night, the exploration began.

The alien ground that took over all of Seongbuk District. The endless desert of broken machines. Within, there was only a single trace of civilization, and the closer they got, the more certain they were that it was a fortress. Its surroundings were blocked with solid metal, and machines were destroyed around it. It seemed like there was a large battle, as various places were dug up or melted. It was definitely different from other places where there were only endless piles of machines.

“What kind of attack were they prepared for to create such a fortress…?”

Baek Seoin mumbled and Lee Jinhee answered,

“Isn’t it obvious? Aliens probably made it to defend against monsters.”

“Then how did the monsters invade this alien world, what eventually happened, and why did it appear here?”

“Portal? Annihilation? … Rescue request?”

The two gossiped like always. Baek Seoin’s questions and Lee Jinhee’s light replies, uncertain whether they were conversing or talking to one’s self, they continued endlessly until they arrived at the fortress’s outer walls.

When they arrived at the outer wall, Ryu Hyunsung sluggishly said,

“This… there is no entrance.”

It was exactly as he said. The metal, which was white like milk, was coiled around the walls like croissants, not leaving a single space.

“… Do we need to smash it?”

Choi Hyuk gripped his sword handle. However, the monsters were unable to smash open this outer wall. Would it break easily? As his body wasn’t in a good condition yet, it wasn’t a welcomed situation.

Just then, a hologram appeared in front of their eyes.

Cheng!

At the hologram’s sudden appearance, the lax atmosphere instantly tensed as the executives unsheathed their swords. However, they realized it was a hologram with no substance.

 

A simple, white silhouette that looked like a stickman. As if miming, the fellow looked around in an exaggerated motion before letting out a sigh of relief.

‘There are no monsters nearby,’

It expressed what was on its mind.

It was an unusual method of communication. It wasn’t transforming its thoughts into symbols known as language, instead, the emotions it was feeling and its decisions were clearly conveyed to them.

The white hologram raised its hands high up at the sky, then dropped its shoulders towards the ground. At the same time, an indefinable emotion was conveyed to them.

Baek Seoin attempted to change its emotions into human language.

“Hello… However, you are a bit late…?”

The fellow momentarily stared at Baek Seoin. Then, this time, it imitated Baek Seoin’s voice perfectly.

“Hello… However, you are a bit late…?”

At the same time, they felt another emotion.

Baek Seoin translated it again.

“Continue?”

“Continue?”

The hologram perfectly imitated him.

“You want to learn the language?”

“You want to learn the language?”

“You’re saying if we continue to talk like this, you’ll learn it by yourself?”

“You’re saying if we continue to talk like this, you’ll learn it by yourself?”

As if it was happy with Baek Seoin’s reaction, the white silhouette strutted around, almost like it was dancing.

When the fellow knocked on the outer wall of the fortress, the outer wall, which had no openings, wobbled like a liquid and created a path.

‘Follow me. I’ll tell you.’

Choi Hyuk looked at Baek Seoin once.

Baek Seoin replied.

“I’m getting good vibes?”

If that was the case, it shouldn’t be dangerous.

They followed the white silhouette and entered the fortress.

 

The fortress was one large city. The city was so advanced that it was unimaginable with Earth’s current scientific knowledge, yet it was currently a ruined city.

The emotions and thoughts the hologram conveyed as it walked were cooperatively translated by Choi Hyuk’s group.

 

This place was an alien city where ‘language’ didn’t exist. Since they were able to use telepathy by nature, they communicated purely through impressions and thoughts and not language. Following this trend, there wasn’t a name designated for this species.

Their ability was excellent at sending and accumulating information, and their science advanced brilliantly. It had reached a point of being able to trade with other alien civilizations. They began space commerce and continued to flourish.

Unfortunately, the monsters invaded one day, and everything changed.

At first, they were able to defend without difficulty. Their weapons were incomparably stronger than weapons from Earth. They didn’t even need to personally get involved. Their machines meant for war were able to face the monsters by themselves. But, that soon reached its limit.

The ‘karma’ awakenees and monsters controlled was a power that ranked above all other sources of energy. After monsters of a particular level appeared, weapons that did not use karma were ineffective. Then, when high-ranked monsters appeared, their war machines were all pitifully destroyed. The aliens experienced defeat, after defeat, after defeat.

Eventually, they learned how to fight with karma from another alien civilization, and afterwards, they had no choice but to personally take part in the battle. At first, it seemed to be effective. But… once the eyeless observers were dispatched, everything ended. Their species, which was proficient at telepathy since birth, suffered a mental attack which brought them to despair. They always had their minds wide open for each other.

In the end, the planet had completely collapsed.

They built a city and flung the city and its surrounding land into a dimensional gap.

Hoping for someone to save them, sending a rescue signal.

 

‘But no one came to rescue us… and the monsters followed us through the dimensional gap.’

The city floated around within the dimensional gap. Accepting such a city itself would consume a lot of resources. But, there were no species who wanted to go through that and risk bringing monsters into their planet.

Ultimately, they had to chase the monsters away to survive. Unfortunately, their natural enemy, the eyeless observers, were among the monsters, and they were unable to personally attack, only sending out the war machines. They were all destroyed. That was the identity of the pile of machines that filled the area.

The place they arrived after following the emotions and memories the hologram revealed was a tomb. The square, situated in the center of the city, was made with a glass floor, and below it laid aliens with simple appearances like the hologram’s. A massive tomb.

The hologram conveyed sadness.

‘In the end, they all died, isolated here.’

They could feel its sorrow, grief and something that felt like pride and fervor.

‘I am the last descendant of this civilization.’

An artificial intelligence created by concentrating their accumulated techniques to maintain the city and its defenses. It existed for a long time, continuously improving itself. It was literally an existence which possessed the essence of a whole civilization.

It expressed its feelings.

‘Please accept me. I will definitely be of help to you.’

 

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Comments 14

    1. More like: An AI!! D:
      Rule #1 is always to never create an artificial intelligence that is autonomous. It will fuck up everything.

  1. Haha
    “Unfortunately, the monsters invaded one day, and everything changed.”
    Everything changed when the fire nation attacked.

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