“Where did it all go wrong?”
“It never did.”
Isaac replied bluntly to Colins as he propped up Colins against a wall. Looking around, all the Independence soldiers other than Colins were just cold bodies. And Colins didn’t seem to have much time left either.
“Did the Queen betray us?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
Isaac replied apathetically as he reloaded his shotgun. Kunette, Reisha, and Rizzly were still shackled by the Three-eyed’s power, unable to move a finger or join in the conversation. They could only roll their eyes and eavesdrop on Isaac and Colins.
“I’m sure she wouldn’t have betrayed us in the first place if you had decided to join us.”
Isaac continued to reply bluntly as he placed a cigarette in his mouth. He lit the cigarette, transferred it to Colin’s mouth, and took out a new cigarette.
“Did you know?”
“That Choyu leaves were originally used to expose Invaders.”
Isaac asked back with surprise. Colins took a deep breath of the cigarette, his expression visibly more relaxed. Colins replied.
“Even non-smokers would feel like smoking when they’re suddenly dropped into this world, wouldn’t they?”
“It was quite effective. Except we never found a single non-smoker using this method.”
Isaac and Colins snickered as they looked at each other—but Colins coughed painfully, hacking up a pool of blood. Colins barely regained his breath by the time Isaac raised his shotgun.
“Kukuku. Is this deja vu? To think I’m going through this again.”
“Let me ask one question.”
“Why did you disagree with us?”
“About restoring our country?”
“I don’t disagree with it. Remnants of ruined nations struggling until the end isn’t an uncommon thing at all.”
“When a human dies once, it should end there. This isn’t a game. If you come back after dying, you aren’t human. You’re a monster.”
Just as Isaac finished his words, the Three-eyed’s power dissipated, and the three who were shackled dropped on their knees. Meanwhile, Colins looked at Isaac blankly in his dying moments, the cigarette slipping from his mouth.
“But you’re an Invader too! You came back to life!”
Colins argued back, to which Isaac smiled bitterly.
“Yeah… I’m a monster too.”
“I will live as a monster. But I will die a human.”
“… Kukuku. You and that dogshit philosophy of yours. Give me another cig.”
Isaac handed a newly lit cigarette to Colins. Colins took a breath of the cigarette and pulled out a pistol from his pocket.
“Didn’t you say you were Catholic?”
“What kind of a monster follows religion?”
Isaac and Colins smoked silently as they looked at each other. After the brief silence, Colins looked blankly at his burnt cigarette. He placed the pistol on his temple.
“Kuku. I guess I really am a monster. To feel nothing knowing that I’m going to kill myself.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
“Be there soon.”
A single gunshot, and Colins’s head jolted before slumping onto the ground. Isaac looked at Colins body for a moment before taking out a new cigarette.
Isaac looked up at the frustratingly blue sky as he smoked. He saw the airship that had been approaching them begin to distance itself from them again. Suddenly, Kunette who was finally completely free from the Three-eyed’s power, ran over to Isaac and started punching Isaac’s leg with her tiny hands.
“Why did you kill the Three-eyed! Why?!”
Seeing Kunette punch him in frustration troubled Isaac. Reisha and Rizzly also came over with Rivelia over their shoulders.
“We should run for now. Our Reservation is too far away, but if we seek refuge in the Elven reservation, we might be able to buy some time.”
“What do we do? I doubt we’ll be of much use, because many of us don’t like sunbaenim.”
Reisha and Rizzly debated their escape routes when Kunette shouted.
“Go to the Directorate of Surveillance!”
“Did you make up your mind?”
Both Rizzly and Reisha exclaimed back to Kunette while Isaac glimpsed at Rivelia, who was supported by Reisha’s shoulders, still unable to come to her senses.
“Rejected. Ow. Ow ow ow. It really hurts.”
When Isaac refused the offer, Kunette opened her mouth and chomped Isaac’s calf. For some reason, the defensive coat didn’t activate, and Isaac felt pain for the first time in a while.
“You might really die if you stay here, Sunbaenim!”
“That’s right. You should seek refuge in the Directorate of Surveillance while we try to calm the situa…”
Isaac ignored Reisha and Rizzly’s advice as he attempted to pry Kunette away from his leg. Isaac barely managed to contain Kunette, still fighting his grasp, with his arms.
“What am I supposed to say to the Director of Surveillance, whom I’ve never even seen the face of? Beg her to save my life? I’m sure the Queen will be working furiously to save my life anyway. I have what she wants on me.”
“Not even the Queen can protect you from the punishment for killing a Three-eyed!”
“And the Director of Surveillance can?”
Rizzly shut his mouth. Kunette struggled her way out of Isaac’s arms and faced him head on, looking up into Isaac’s eyes.
“… I have a confession.”
Isaac looked back at Kunette with surprise. Her beady little eyes trembled with apprehension, her mouth hesitant to open.
“So what’s the confession?”
“… Promise you won’t get mad?”
Her terrified eyes were so adorable that almost all of his anger evaporated. He smirked and replied.
“What’s the hold up? What are you confessing? What, you’re going to say that you’re the Director of Surveillance?”
Isaac watched Kunette quiver as she looked at the ground. Isaac looked at Rizzly and Reisha, who were as nonchalant as if they knew all along. Only Rivelia, in her dazed state, opened her eyes wide as if she heard something she shouldn’t have.
“It seems you’re telling the truth, seeing how both Rizzly and Reisha are silent.”
“Impossible! Kunette was the Director of Surveillance?”
Rivelia finally stood up on her own and muttered in disbelief. Isaac asked.
“You’ve never seen her before too?”
“I’ve seen her a few times during meetings, but only in her human transformation. But…”
It seemed she still had more to say, muttering as she looked at Kunett in disbelief. Isaac smirked and cut Rivelia’s words.
“It’s definitely something to be surprised at, Kunette being the Director of Surveillance. Then have you been watching me since all the way back in Campus?”
“… Are you mad?”
Kunette carefully raised her head, unwilling to look Isaac in the eye. Isaac shrugged at her.
“Not really. It’s perplexing, but it doesn’t matter anymore.”
His days of pondering were over since he blew up the head of that three-eyed man. It was the first step, but there was no other choice. Not all things went as you originally planned. He’d have to start with what he’s got now.
“We must first go to the Directorate of Surveillance. With the witness testimony from the Director of Surveillance about the massacre caused by the Three-eyed, not even the Grand Council will be able to decide on your death so easily, Sir Isaac.”
Isaac smirked at Rizzly’s advice.
“Those guys can’t kill me regardless. But what about our comms?”
Reisha quickly tampered with her Communicator, then shook her head.
“We still can’t get a signal. Not only the open channels, but even our secure Surveillance lines too.”
“I guess even the Grand Council members are surprised about the death of the Three-eyed. Why don’t we wait while we clean up this place.”
Countless races lived in this world. Even the beastmen had tens of major representing races. And if you looked closer, they were split into many sub-species and tribes, tangled in a convoluted mess like the roots of a tree.
The Grand Council was the governing body that decided Central’s final decisions, like the UN Security Council. There were perhaps too many members within the council, but they had tried to limit the number of seats only to still end up that way.
That was just how much the non-humans outnumbered the humans. Humans ruled over most of this land titled as part of the Empire, but on the map, the Empire’s territory was dotted with holes like swiss cheese. These holes were occupied by the non-humans and their reservations, ruled by their leaders akin to lords of fiefdom.
All of these races had their own personalities and traits, but on a broad spectrum, they were split between radical and moderate factions.
“And the majority of Grand Council’s members are from the radical faction?”
Isaac asked as he walked on. The streets were void of life. The depressing silence filled the air as they walked among the bodies littering the street. Its atmosphere weighed heavily on the group’s shoulders.
Isaac had thought that the Grand Council was split between the radicals and the moderates in a balance, but it turned out that the Grand Council was mostly on the radical ends.
“Most moderate races don’t like standing out and making a scene.”
Rizzly replied to Isaac bitterly. Reisha and Kunette sighed too, as if they’d suffered much from it.
“Then the balance isn’t right?”
“… It’s not something we decide on with a vote like democracy.”
Isaac asked back with great surprise.
Isaac thought that since there were members, their actions would be decided by a majority vote.
“In order for each Director to mobilise their Directorate, a majority of the Grand Council must approve of it.The Grand Council acts as a way to control the Directors. The Council Members themselves cannot mobilise Central at their own will.”
“Then how did these radicals use Central’s agents for their plan?”
“… No. When you come down to it, they were Invaders, not Central agents. And I doubt all of the radicals agreed on this plan. I’m sure it was the few extremists who caused all this. I have a sneaking suspicion on the culprits already.”
Reisha, who was walking next to Rizzly, added.
“They are really bad people! There’s just no answer for them!”
Rizzly smiled bitterly as if in agreement.
“They are made up of races who especially despise humans and races who don’t approve of the existence of humans itself.”
“And it was Kunette who’d been suppressing them until now?”
“You could say Kunette was the Director of Surveillance and representative of all the moderates.”
Isaac saw Kunette in a new light. Kunette, who was held in Rivelia’s arms, looked Isaac in the eye for a moment before burying her head in embarrassment at Rivelia’s chest. Isaac, somewhat jealous, spoke.
“But before that, are the Three-eyed really that important of a race?”
Everyone sighed in unison at Isaac’s question.
“The Three-eyed and other endangered races are protected by all the other races in this world. Do you know why?”
Reisha asked, and Isaac replied bluntly.
“Because they are endangered?”
“No. It’s because the 7 Days of Calamity were only 7 days thanks to them.””
Rivelia’s answer was beyond Isaac’s imagination. Isaac exhaled the smoke with keen interest and looked back.
“Now that’s interesting.”