Episode 5: Citizenship / Chapter 80: Musical Chairs (3)
Nothing went the way you planned or the way you wanted. No, in fact, anything that occurred would always be a mess, a cesspool of filth. You only desperately wished to accomplish your original goal, perhaps fishing out the ring you had dropped, even if it meant dirtying your body with that stench and dampness.
The Berserkers’ mobility was astonishing. Naro was extremely proud as it revealed the ‘shoes’ it called ‘Karma Characteristic-Changing Mobilization Device TYPE A’. It had a friendly design which clearly reflected the traits of bipedalism, converted karma into force, was rechargeable and easy to use, all while being effective. It used energy fields located on the soles of the shoes to accelerate instantly and could maintain its speed with zero friction. Because it used charged energy, they could maintain a 300km/hr speed without consuming much energy. Not only that but because they moved with Naro’s preliminary exploration as their guide, they could concentrate on advancing without worrying about getting lost and could keep encounters with monsters to a minimum. The Berserkers dubbed these shoes the ‘Shoes of Hermes’.
The Berserkers’ procession drew a line below Dragonic’s milk-white sky.
The Berserkers’ first target was the Clown Sovereign Freeman. Freeman was 5,200 km away from Barhaloleun Hill. He was an American and was known to be one of the strongest sovereigns. He was also one of the four sovereigns who defeated the final boss of the [Survive and Escape] mission, such as the ‘Wyvern of Destruction’ or the ‘Flaming Devil’. The four were Choi Hyuk, Richard, Camilla, and Freeman.
He was a black man with white hair. He possessed outstanding insight and was skilled in crafting his own playing field by always being a step ahead of his opponents.
“I never knew we would get through the advancement evaluations. I suffered a huge loss. Since I never knew the Berserk Sovereign would do so much. However, my prediction this time is 100%. The Berserk Sovereign will invade in 3 days. I will bet on that.”
He said, wearing a comfortable t-shirt and jeans,
“But, since his military power is beyond prediction, I will suffer a loss if we fight. To block a bigger loss, I need to endure a smaller one.”
With a leisurely smile, he assured,
“Watch. I am going to survive and the Berserk Sovereign will become everyone’s enemy. I will bet on that.”
His fate was the ‘Gambler’. It was a trait that increased his karma whenever he accomplished difficult goals or he succeeded in predicting the future. On the other hand, if he was wrong, he would lose karma. Freeman was certain he would be able to earn a significant amount of karma this time.
That was why…
The Berserkers were met with an absurd situation after reaching Freeman’s colonized land in a day.
“… The U.S. army.”
The ones guarding Freeman’s colonized land were not his own clan members but a troop of awakenees under the United States of America.
“Oh my god… Did he make some sort of deal with President Frank?”
Baek Seoin’s mouth was agape.
The Clown Sovereign Freeman’s actions were lightning quick. The moment he realized that the Berserk Sovereign was targeting him, he had made a deal with President Frank.[The Clown Sovereign Freeman transferred 50% of his stake in his colonized land to Frank, who is the president of the United States as well as a sovereign. Freeman’s colonized land has been incorporated into the United States of America as a special self-governing state and receives the U.S.’s protection.]
The Berserkers were fast, but the actions of the United States were faster. Freeman’s clan members had retreated to the back and the U.S. army blocked their path at the front. There was no way to attack Freeman without passing through the U.S. army.
“This place is U.S. territory. If you approach any closer, we will treat it as a declaration of war.”
When the Berserkers had slowed down and approached the border, they received a warning from the U.S. army. Although tension flowed throughout the U.S. army as they faced the famous Berserkers, on the other hand, they showed a certain confidence. ‘They won’t attack us, right?’ It was a rational confidence.
The Berserkers murmured amongst themselves. They had rushed here to attack the Clown Sovereign Freeman, but the ones who were waiting for them was the U.S. army. Weren’t they like dogs chasing a chicken?
Even the Berserkers, who had experienced all sorts of situations, were quite perplexed. Did they have to return like this without any results? They, the Berserkers? Everyone examined Choi Hyuk’s expression. However, there wasn’t much of a change.
In Choi Hyuk’s perspective, they looked like a group of baby chicks. That was it. The way others viewed the world was fundamentally different from Choi Hyuk.
The U.S army which looked confident, while actually being nervous, and the Berserkers, who got into a fit but were hesitant when seeing the U.S. army, were both groups of people who weren’t free from the stereotypical mold they had formed throughout their lives. To them, the U.S. was the U.S, the strongest country in the world. The most important diplomatic partner. Becoming at odds with them was the same as fighting the world, and creating conflict with them would result in a situation where countries would start fighting against each other. Even Berserkers who weren’t in their right mind couldn’t help but hit the brakes.
However, Choi Hyuk wasn’t like them. He didn’t feel any intimidation from the U.S. army blocking his path. They were weak. To him, baby chicks were simply baby chicks.
Choi Hyuk shouted,
“Move. I have come to capture the Clown Sovereign Freeman. If you do not move out of the way in 5 minutes, I will regard it as though you are taking Freeman’s side.”
At Choi Hyuk’s words, the Berserkers made a loud commotion.
‘Wow, really? Are we really going to fight against the U.S. army?’
‘As expected of our leader.’
‘… Is this really okay?’
‘What’s there to think about? Just go berserk like always and the higher ups will deal with it.’
There were various reactions. While there was a sense of awkwardness and confusion, there was no fear.
“… Ah, damn… Baek hyung. Will we be alright like this?”
Lee Jinhee was anxious. To fight with the U.S. army? Then they might have to kill much more than they initially expected. She hated that.
Baek Seoin shook his head.
“I don’t know… But…”
Baek Seoin’s eyes shined in a cold light.
“The ones who first colluded politically was them. I don’t know what they received from Freeman, but we can’t allow them to protect a criminal who discarded 40% of the population.”
Then he said bitterly,
“Still, if it was me, I would have looked for a more moderate method, but the leader probably won’t. First, let’s see how the U.S. army reacts.”
The commanding officer of the U.S. army was surprised at Choi Hyuk’s strong response.
He came out to talk with Choi Hyuk.
“Sovereign Choi Hyuk. I acknowledge that the Clown Sovereign Freeman must pay some sort of price. However, the U.S. will make him pay a price our own way. He has already forfeited half his colonized land, and his colonized land is now under the jurisdiction of the U.S. However, this may not be the end. If you go back and wait, you will see Freeman pay the appropriate price.”
He had packaged the negotiations between Freeman and President Frank as if it was a ‘penalty’ the U.S. had enacted. However, even if that was a penalty, it was too inferior for Choi Hyuk’s standards.
“Not all, but half? On top of that, he is not just a clan leader but someone who possesses the occupation of a sovereign, a representative of humanity. Then his punishment must be that much harsher. I want his life. Please bring Freeman’s head in front of me right now or move.”
To bring Freeman’s head. This was an impossible request for the U.S. as they had made a contract with Freeman.
“That is an excessive request. Even if it’s not that method, we will make him pay the appropriate price…”
The commanding officer continuously requested Choi Hyuk to yield, but Choi Hyuk cut him off.
“But how is it that Sovereign Freeman, who has paid a price, is still applying to be one of the seven overseers? No, from the start, is this even paying a price? Isn’t this just the U.S. gaining something from Freeman? All of humanity suffered from Freeman’s actions, yet the U.S. is campaigning that they made him pay a price after taking whatever Freeman coughed up for themselves?”
Choi Hyuk’s words had at some point changed to informal speech, and the respect he had for them had disappeared. What made him especially angry was the fact that Freeman still had not withdrawn his application.
In the U.S.’s perspective, it was best to have more than one American sovereign be part of the seven overseers. This was especially ideal if, because of this incident, the one who came under President Frank’s command was Freeman. This was why the U.S. did not request Freeman to withdraw his application.
This made Choi Hyuk retch. For a sovereign who did not participate in the advancement evaluations to be one of the seven overseers?
Choi Hyuk’s tone became harsher.
The commanding officer became angry.
“Such an insult…!”
“Whatever. 5 minutes have passed. I warned you.”
Flames erupted from Choi Hyuk’s body.
This was the start of a gruesome war in which he would lose his nickname as the Berserk Sovereign and only his nickname Demon King would remain.
Death. And death again.
The U.S. exaggerated the clash between the U.S. army and the Berserkers at the border of Freeman’s colonized land before reporting it. Instead of reporting specific numbers, they recited provocative remarks such as ‘annihilation’, ‘overwhelming defeat’, ‘there may be even more casualties…’
No… Perhaps the number of casualties wasn’t important from the start. In any case, the Berserkers were a foreign group, and the ones who were sacrificed were U.S. citizens. The U.S. became enraged. No matter how messed up the world had become, the once-formed national identity would not easily disappear. The U.S. awakenees united. Vows to drive out the invading foreign power were declared one after another.
Even though Freeman had gone through the portal to Earth and fled to the U.S. the moment he heard the news of Choi Hyuk’s advance, Choi Hyuk… did not retreat.
They annihilated the U.S. defense troops and occupied the colonized land that Freeman’s clan members had fled from. In this situation, no one thought that they would chase Freeman to Earth. Yet, Choi Hyuk decided to advance to Earth, to the U.S.
“We can’t retreat now. We return after killing the Clown Sovereign Freeman.”
The one who opposed his decision the most was Lee Jinhee.
“But too many unrelated people will die! The losses the Berserkers will face will be large as well!”
Still, Choi Hyuk did not change his mind. He, instead, raised his voice so everyone could hear.
“Unrelated? They became related the moment they protected Freeman. The U.S. came out and made a power play ahead of the selection of the seven overseers. However, they chose the wrong opponent.”
Choi Hyuk cut her off. In his mind, he didn’t think this problem was one to debate over.
“Jinhee nuna. What do you think is the power that maintains the Berserkers?”
In reality, the group known as Berserkers made no sense. They didn’t offer large benefits or convenience like other sovereigns gave to their clan members. They didn’t attempt to protect normal civilians either. Instead, they only participated in fights in which their clan members’ lives were always at risk. The Berserkers were lunatics who harmed normal people, let alone protect them. Their reputation was the worst. Their enemies were everywhere. Even still, the Berserkers could maintain their group. Even still, the Berserkers were influential and had an endless stream of new recruits. What was the reason?
“It is because we do not lose.”
Choi Hyuk said,
“I cannot give my followers wealth and honor. I cannot make rational deals like other sovereigns. I cannot protect the vast number of non-clan members well. The reason why people follow me despite all this is because I do not lose. I can only give them one thing. Endless victory. When I don’t lose even once, and once their assurance in my victory becomes deep-rooted in them, then, even if my opponent is the entire Flame Wing Alliance, people will trust and follow me. That is my goal.”
Choi Hyuk’s eyes flashed like a maniac’s.
“But, the U.S. tried to compromise with me. They took the possible escalation of war as a hostage and threatened the Berserkers’ foundation of ‘Zero Losses’. I can’t retreat from this. No matter what price I pay.”
Now, Choi Hyuk looked around at everyone and said,
“We will win this time. We will be so overwhelming that casualties will be low. As always.”
Lee Jinhee’s eyes, which looked at Choi Hyuk, trembled. Choi Hyuk looked at her and said in a quiet voice,
“You were already aware of this.”
This was why Lee Jinhee, who was comparatively in her right mind, couldn’t leave Choi Hyuk. Lee Jinhee… She was more considerate than anyone else, but on the other hand, she also possessed an ambition to improve herself that approached madness. Lee Jinhee read Choi Hyuk’s eyes. She read his will and assurance that he would not lose even if he fought the entire universe. In front of this immense scale, there was nothing she could do.
“… Since you’re my hyung. I will follow you to hell.”
She called Choi Hyuk hyung for a change. Choi Hyuk simply smiled.
The Berserkers went through the portal and advanced to the U.S.
 The ‘full idiom’ is something like ‘The dog chasing the chicken only looks at the roof.’ The English equivalent is ‘So much for our plans’ or ‘It was all for naught’.