Episode 9: Shackles of Judgment / Chapter 143: Radical Reform (2)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
After the party, Choi Hyuk had an unexpected visitor.
The Sovereign of Opportunity Nasir.
Although he was one of the seven overseers, he was in fact under the control of the nine great sovereigns. He had come to meet Choi Hyuk alone.
As he hadn’t yet become a middle-ranked warrior, he couldn’t move easily in Dark City. While the Berserkers could easily step on dark matter because they had become registered in Dark City, Nasir had yet to. Nasir’s ankles kept submerging below the floor and he faltered with every step he took.
While flailing as he approached, Nasir kneeled in front of Choi Hyuk. At first, Choi Hyuk thought that he wasn’t kneeling but had, instead, fallen, but this wasn’t the case. Due to losing his balance while kneeling, his forehead, palms, knees, and toes all touched the ground.
While prostrating himself with his head lowered, Nasir said,
“Please save me.”
Choi Hyuk was taken aback. He had yet to decide how to deal with Nasir. It seemed Nasir knew this as he took this opportunity to approach him.
‘… What is he planning?’
The Berserkers had devoted their energy to the mission on the Kundle Planet and didn’t know much of what was happening on Dragonic. This was the result – Nasir coming alone, bowing his head and asking to be saved.
Although he didn’t know how he did it, he was aware of two definitive facts.
One, Nasir recovered enough power to activate the warrior training system on the Kundle Planet.
Two, Nasir disobeyed Choi Hyuk’s will.
How taken aback had he been when he first heard that Nasir was the one who activated the warrior training system?
Choi Hyuk, who had been silent, asked,
“… I thought I told you to live like you were dead…?”
Nasir bowed his head once more.
“Please save me.”
He didn’t bring up his own contribution. This irritated Choi Hyuk.
“It’s good that you activated the warrior training system on the Kundle Planet. You made a contribution… However…”
Choi Hyuk’s voice became cold.
Nasir’s intervention undoubtedly helped since the Kundle Tribe members were able to grow quicker because of it. However, Choi Hyuk wasn’t in the mood to settle with this.
The only reason Choi Hyuk left Nasir alive was because of his promise with Richard. Also, the condition for this was ‘stripping Nasir of all his power’.
Until now, Choi Hyuk had killed everyone who he had deemed he should kill. The only person he left alive was Nasir. Choi Hyuk was already displeased about this fact. However, Nasir overturned the constraint Choi Hyuk and Richard had decided on and recovered his power. Even if he did help a little on the Kundle Planet… It still put him in a bad mood.
Also, there was something else that made his mood even more unpleasant.
“Go back. You already know, don’t you? That I can’t lay a hand on you.”
This was checkmate.
Nasir was one of the seven overseers. He was a representative of the earthlings, who had obtained full citizenship, and was protected by the alliance laws. Killing Nasir was a serious crime.
Still, if it was like before, he could have killed all of Nasir’s followers and detained him once more, but the situation was completely different now. As soon as Nasir recovered his power, he established his ‘independent troops’. Independent troops were official troops under the alliance’s troops system. He couldn’t attack them recklessly.
It was a dilemma. Due to Choi Hyuk’s prominence, the earthlings were able to advance into the center of the alliance, and because of this, it was now difficult for Choi Hyuk to handle them as he wished. If before it was a dispute between countryside lords, then now it was a battle of wits entangling countryside lords, the kingdom’s military, and a free city.
Because of this, Choi Hyuk had no way of dealing with Nasir. At the very least, this was true on the surface and everyone knew this.
He definitely knew this, yet he still prostrated himself in front of Choi Hyuk as though his life was in Choi Hyuk’s hands. Whether he was begging because he knew something or because he had some other plan… Either reason displeased him.
Choi Hyuk hated Nasir. He didn’t participate in the advancement evaluation and he tossed his colonized lands away and fled as soon as Choi Hyuk invaded. While restrained by the nine great sovereigns and suffering the humiliation of being their puppet, he continued to survive and plan for his future. Now, he came and begged Choi Hyuk to ‘save him’. Choi Hyuk was displeased by Nasir, who was constantly calculating and displaying the attitude of everything being fine as long as he survived, for no reason.
‘As I thought… Should I exclude him?’
While his thoughts leaned towards this decision, he couldn’t decide.
Choi Hyuk wordlessly looked at the blue shield symbol (someone to keep alive) above Nasir’s head. He also saw the white light vaguely emitting from him. It wasn’t a radiant, bright white light, but a somewhat dark white light. Nasir was clearly in awe of Choi Hyuk. He didn’t have any ill intentions. That was the problem.
‘These skills are making it difficult to decide…’
The Eyes of the Judge and the Eyes of Distinction, which had always lessened his worries, were actually making it harder for him to decide.
Because of this, his head became more complicated.
Starting with the question of whether or not he should be hostile towards Nasir, his thoughts even traveled to how far he could trust his innate skills. This was troublesome.
The timing of Nasir’s visit was excellent. Nasir came and prostrated himself in front of Choi Hyuk, who was always quick at making decisions, when he was indecisive for a change.
Nasir didn’t retreat even when Choi Hyuk said that he couldn’t lay a hand on him. He took Choi Hyuk’s confusion as an opportunity and began to speak his thoughts.
“The advancement evaluation… Destruction of the dimensional wasp nests. I honestly didn’t think we would succeed.”
“I also thought the Cayenne Star exploration would be difficult.”
“I thought that the Berserkers would divide during the doppelganger incident.”
“And I thought that the dispatched Berserkers would suffer heavy losses during this monster tidal wave. I even thought that you might die.”
Nasir raised his head. His moist eyes were red and clear. They even sparkled occasionally.
“However, I was wrong every time. You even slashed a highest-ranked monster as a middle-ranked warrior.”
Nasir said calmly,
“Only then did I acknowledge it. That I wasn’t at the level to gauge you. Also, that you won and survived.”
“I have no interest besides living. Honor? Authority? That’s something you think about only after you survive. That is why my karma fate is the ‘one who lives a long life’. As long as I live, my karma grows by itself. The nine great sovereigns didn’t know this. They thought that my growth had halted, but I was slowly getting stronger. Beyond their scope of estimation. Yes. If I could continue to survive, I wouldn’t have taken this risk. However, I don’t trust those nine great sovereigns. They aren’t people I can entrust my life to. There was the possibility that I could accidentally be swept into their struggle for power or that my life could be at risk due to their misjudgment. That was why I overturned them. It wasn’t difficult. They were completely focused on establishing independent troops, and I became stronger than they anticipated. Also, even if I was ruined, I was still someone who had something to give to the clan members who were pushed aside by the nine great sovereigns’ internal competition and the small excluded clan leaders.”
His fate was the ‘one who lives a long life’. It was a fate that disgusted Choi Hyuk, who was filled with thoughts of fighting and killing his enemies. Choi Hyuk cut him off.
Then Nasir got to the point.
“… I want to stand on your side since you are someone who wins. I need to stick to the side that will win if I want to survive. I didn’t hesitate even when I heard that a powerful monster appeared on the Kundle Planet and communications had been lost. While all signs pointed to your death, you are someone who wins. The alliance’s laws? I don’t believe in them. What I believe in is the fact that you possess power. Do not exclude me. I will definitely not drag you down.”
Towards Nasir, who sincerely expressed his heart, Choi Hyuk was momentarily at a loss for words.
‘I want to survive so don’t be hostile towards me…’ Nasir’s proposal made Choi Hyuk recall his most fundamental question once more.
‘Who do I keep alive and who do I kill?’
Originally, Choi Hyuk despised those who didn’t fight. What Choi Hyuk needed was solely revenge. Anyone who wasn’t of help to this goal and anyone who would obstruct him were ‘people to kill’. That was why he attempted to kill Nasir in the past.
However, in the moment, Choi Hyuk’s thoughts changed a little.
When he saw Nasir trying his best to live…
He thought, ‘Perhaps this is the nature of karmalings. Isn’t this their weakness as well as their strength?’
Everyone was the same. Species felt hope and despair throughout their lives and created karma through experiencing happiness, anger, sorrow, joy, love, hate, and ambition. While there were countless different species, the way they created karma was fundamentally the same. That was why the earthlings and aliens seemed different but were also very alike. The will, no, greed to live. And the plots and schemes that derived from it.
Sometimes wars would break out because of their selfishness, but this selfishness was also the source of their karma, their only power in fighting against the monsters. He couldn’t deny this fact.
Choi Hyuk asked,
“If I order it, can you fight? Your life might be in danger.”
Nasir didn’t hesitate as he answered,
“I cannot be a Berserker.”
This was obvious since Nasir, who placed survival as his top priority, and the Berserkers, who always risked their lives, were fundamentally different existences.
Even still, Nasir pledged,
“However, I will fight occasionally if you want me to. Whoever my opponent is… I know that getting hated by you is scarier and more dangerous than facing any powerful enemy. Only, I ask that it isn’t on the level of dying.”
Although it looked like he was laying everything down, this was precisely a double-edged sword. Currently, Nasir was prostrating himself in front of Choi Hyuk. However, he was someone who could betray him without hesitation the moment he judged that Choi Hyuk wouldn’t be of any assistance to his survival.
Only, this wasn’t unique to Nasir. The more Choi Hyuk established a foothold in the alliance, the more frequent these situations would become. Didn’t Armor-Phantom show goodwill to the Berserkers after calculating meticulously just now? A double-edged sword. They would display goodwill if he was useful but show ill will the moment he became useless. As long as Choi Hyuk’s goal was to ‘take revenge on the alliance’, they might one day return with ill will.
However, Choi Hyuk couldn’t be hostile to all of them as long as he resolved himself to wage war against the alliance.
In the end, there was one conclusion.
‘I need to become sharper.’
He had to kill what had to be killed. Choi Hyuk could never change. This was a prerequisite.
Only, he had to become sharper than before. To the point where they didn’t know they were being sliced. He had to become sharper and stealthier.
He had to change but not change.
Choi Hyuk slowly nodded his head.
“… Then tell me about the current situation on Dragonic.”
Choi Hyuk decided to keep Nasir alive. As long as Nasir wasn’t doubtful of Choi Hyuk’s abilities, he would follow him.
‘Then I will slice off Nasir’s doubt.’
If there was someone with doubts, he would slice off their doubts, and if there was someone who was becoming greedy, he would cut off their greed. He would slice not flesh or bones but their hearts.
Although his thoughts were complicated, the conclusion was simple.
He would slice what was necessary, whether it was one’s heart or soul. He was confident in slicing things.
Perhaps it was because of this, but Choi Hyuk decided to cut off some future troubles.
With his authority as the recruit trainer, he declared to the entire Kundle Tribe.
The loss of the regenerative abilities in a portion of Kundle Tribe members and the sudden invasion of the uncontrollable monsters were planned by the Berserkers. It was planned by me, Choi Hyuk, the leader of the Berserkers, to train the Kundle Tribe members into soldiers who can fight against the monsters. It is okay to resent me. If you can, it is okay to kill me. However, there is one thing you need to clearly understand. The entire universe is being invaded by the monsters like you experienced. Even if it wasn’t now, you would have inevitably fought against them one day. Although you probably already realized this, without sufficient strength, the only fate you can obtain is death.
I am about to give you a choice.
If you want to become stronger and obtain the power to fight against the monsters, then you will choose to trade with our land, ‘Dragonic’. But if you don’t believe me or do not wish to fight anymore, you will refuse to trade. The choice is yours. However, I will promise one thing for certain.
If you choose to fight, you will never fight on your own. Like before, the Berserkers will stand beside you, and if you die, the Berserkers will die alongside you.
I anticipate your good judgment.
- Trade with Dragonic.
- Refuse to trade with Dragonic.
“Aaack! Leader! You did it in the end?!”
Baek Seoin shouted. The ‘warriors who came down from the sky and risked their lives to save the Kundle Planet’ image that Baek Seoin had planned was scattered into the wind thanks to the message Choi Hyuk sent. Although he was told about it before it was released, it still hurt inside.
“Sorry, Baek hyung. I don’t want okay soldiers, I want soldiers I can completely trust.”
Although the alliance’s security was thorough, there would definitely be a hole in there somewhere. From the start, wasn’t Choi Hyuk thinking about identifying those who were in charge of Earth’s recruit training? It was most likely possible. If it was possible for Choi Hyuk, then it would one day be possible for the Kundle Tribe.
A suspicion that might sprout in the hearts of the Kundle Tribe members. Choi Hyuk planned on cutting it off from the beginning.
Since he revealed this fact, there would undoubtedly be discontent among the Kundle Tribe. However, revealed discontent was safer than dormant discontent.
Also, he could sufficiently control their current discontent through missions.
In fact, there was no need to control them forever. Until the day Choi Hyuk achieved his revenge. If he could make the Kundle Tribe follow him until then, then that was enough.
He could tell whether the Kundle Tribe truly trusted Choi Hyuk or not by examining them with his ‘Eyes of Distinction’ and ‘Eyes of the Judge’.
Choi Hyuk said,
“Let’s make a true army from now on. One that everyone will fear.”
The Berserkers’ reoccurring problem, ‘lack of personnel’. In order to strengthen their position within the alliance, it was now time for them to solve this problem.