Isaac took a deep sigh, exhausted.
“I don’t know why everyone expects me to choose a side. I’d rather be the common enemy.”
“Kukuku. Really now? That’s a relief.”
Isaac silently watched Ismael chuckle to himself. Isaac took a breath of his cigarette and asked.
“So what did you want to make sure of so badly that you couldn’t wait for the Directorate of Surveillance to bail her out first?”
Ismael’s eyes looked into the sky grimly as he lamented.
“It’s always the Empire that suffered. Countless talents and prodigies died meaninglessly. All the Empire could offer in return for these meaningless deaths was to decorate them with honour. A worthless thing dressed up to be the object of every man’s desire. All of the previous Emperors did what they could to change this unfair world.”
The Dark Royale agents standing in the periphery of the room kneeled and shouted ‘My Lord!’ to Ismael’s sorrowful words. Isaac sneered, irritated by the sight.
“Unless you brought me here to listen to your complaints, you should get to the point.”
The agents’ eyes lit with anger. Ismael coughed for a moment, soothing it down with a glass of water that had been handed to him.
“I wanted to make sure. Whether she knew of the radical’s plans. If she did, there was no hope for the Empire to begin with. If she didn’t I would have kissed her feet for mercy.”
“Kunette would have stopped it if she knew about it in the first place.”
Isaac spoke, to which Ismael smiled heinously. The emptiness in Ismael’s eyes was eerily familiar to Isaac.
“You seem to be mistaken about being Kunette’s friend.”
“Kukuku. The Grand Council’s distinctions of moderate and radicals isn’t between killing or protecting the humans. They’re the same. Moderates are just those who consider some of their methods too harsh on humans. But both the moderates and radicals believe humanity must be controlled and quarantined.”
Ismael’s voice was smouldering with deep loathing.
“So you wanted to beg Kunette for mercy? That the radicals are being too mean, so they should tone it down?”
“Kuk! I can’t deny that. But here I am falling into a trap, let alone seeing her. And with the Gate open, everything is done and dusted.”
Isaac frowned, listening to Ismael. Despair possessed those empty eyes. Those were the eyes of people who had given up and were just waiting for death.
“Why are you and the Queen giving the Gate’s opening such importance? Since I’m still alive, can’t I just close it?”
Ismael gave a sardonic smile and laughed.
“I wouldn’t be in such desperate throes if we could. Do you know what the radicals are aiming for?”
“Well. I have a suspicion.”
The plan to destroy a civilization whose peace and prosperity relied on the Gate—all by closing it. A plan only the Queen could see through. Most people would like to see their revenge come to fruition with their own eyes, and the Queen was no different. Why make a plan that wouldn’t bear fruit for a hundred years, unless you would be there to witness it then?
But this plan only satisfied the Queen. The radicals didn’t gain anything from it. The other world would be caught up in wars, but it’d only strengthen humanity in this world.
Why did the radicals help the Queen for this plan? Out of pure friendship? If so, they wouldn’t have gone so far as to sacrifice their revered Three-eyed; surely no friendship was worth that much.
From a different perspective then, it was more important to sacrifice the Three-eyed and shackle Kunette—if not only for a moment—to open the Gate. And considering the radical’s loathe of humanity, their goals were plainly obvious. In fact, the Three-eyed itself had claimed their plan had succeeded.
“Those radicals are planning to unleash the plague, right? I know it sounds weird coming from me, but what do they take humanity’s survival instinct fo…”
Just as Isaac was about to finish, he realised his error and shut his mouth. The plague these select few radicals made was a biological weapon of war they could fully control with a hundred percent fatality rate.
But the medical technology of this world wasn’t so far behind. And with the Gate open, they could create the cure by combining their strengths with the other world’s.
No, if the radicals released the plague before the Gate opened, humanity would have been doomed from the start. Therefore, they never had a reason to open the Gate.
Yet they still helped her. Why?
“Huhuhu. There is another method to avoid the plague other than the vaccine.”
“… Don’t tell me it’s by crossing to the other world through the Gate.”
“A one-way ticket.”
Isaac swore as Ismael’s eyes flickered. Isaac took out a new cigarette.
“With enough time, I’m sure they’ll be able to research a cure. But what if there isn’t? Between waiting indefinitely for a cure while your friends and family die or an immediate solution. You know which option people will choose.”
“… What’s the population of the Empire?”
“Huhuhu. The rough estimate is 1.5 billion. We predict there will be 500 million casualties once the Exodus begins, but that’s still 1 billion. So? You think your world can handle it?”
Impossible. Isaac sighed. How could they possibly handle 1 billion refugees when they couldn’t even handle a few hundred thousand? Who could possibly provide them with food and shelter?
“So that’s why they suddenly removed the restrictions on technological development. That’s why they opened the Gate in New Port City.”
The true purpose for advancing civilization had now finally entered the limelight. It wasn’t for the prosperity of humanity, but to improve the transportation infrastructure, streamlining the deportation of humans. New Port City was the centre of the supply chain—what was good for goods was also good for humans.
“Does the Emperor know?”
“Kuk. I’m sure they told him now that the Gate has opened. But nothing will change. The Emperor must now defend the Gate with everything he has.”
“Of course. I didn’t think I’d have to deal with the Empire…”
The Gate was the Empire’s only hope now. Isaac thought the Emperor would step back and watch while Isaac and the Queen duked it out, but now that the Gate had to remain open, the Emperor was now tasked with catching Isaac and retrieving the key. .
“But the moderates won’t just sit idly by when this comes out.”
“Kukuku. I’m sure there will be some who will. Perhaps they may close the Gate again. But they won’t be able to stop what’s to come afterwards. The Empire is finished once the radicals release the plague. And humanity will still be preserved thanks to the Pendletons. At a sufficiently reduced number, of course. All the humans need to do is pass through the Gate instead of staying and succumbing to the plague here, no cure in sight. I’m sure the moderates wouldn’t mind that solution too much. The moderates simply don’t like staining their own hands in blood, after all.”
“Tsk. We fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker. The poison in this golden chalice was just too lethal.”
The plan to develop human civilization and compensating the Directorate of Strategy for their losses—all of it had already been rehearsed, and the Empire couldn’t possibly refuse them despite being suspicious.
“Is that why you tried to catch the Queen? Because she has the cure?”
“It’s just a hunch, but I’m sure of it. The radicals wouldn’t treat her as an exception just because she’s the Queen.”
The Queen and the radicals were partners. Only until the Gate opened. Afterwards, they split into opposite directions. The radicals would be eager to spread the plague immediately now that the Gate was opened, but that would make the Queen’s true goal impossible.
This world had to prepare for war as the world changed. A war they could not win. Isaac sighed and grumbled.
“I thought I was the craziest bastard, but turns out I’m not even worth mentioning. Ah, it really hurts my ego. So, why did you bring me here? Did you want to have the honour of catching me first, since the Emperor will order my capture eventually?”
Isaac asked. Ismael’s breath turned shallow as he looked back.
“I will die soon.”
“I can see that.”
“Does the Empire have a chance at winning against your world?”
“It will be difficult.”
In the other world, humans discriminated over religion and race. War was unavoidable. Perhaps it was possible that no war would take place. With all the newly developed technology, humanity would spread into space and eventually be capable of accommodating the Empire’s entire population. Until the Gate closed that was.
It was obvious who the blame would fall on when the Gate closes—who else except for the newly accepted refugees?
Ismael spoke briefly. He then looked at Isaac, eye-to-eye, and continued.
“Your final moments were touching.”
“You give me too much praise.”
“I will give you Dark Royale.”
Ismael’s words caught Isaac off-guard; he turned to the agents whose heads were down.
“I don’t think they’ll just quietly obey me just because you said that.”
“Kuku. Don’t worry about it. This is the Empire’s final act of resistance. Spread your wings and create havoc as you’ve done before. They will be your limbs and struggle with you.”
It was a barebones funeral for a royal’s death. Isaac watched the mansion burn detachedly. Isaac didn’t like Dark Royale because of what happened in the past, but he couldn’t deny that they were a useful force.
The moment Ismael had brought up giving him the Dark Royale, Isaac already had a myriad of plans on how to use them. It’d be such a waste to just abandon Dark Royale at this point.
Isaac turned around, seeing that all Dark Royale agents had gathered. The warlock, who had captured Isaac once before, approached Isaac with a cold, stiff face and saluted.
“Dark Royale, 57 men strong. We await your orders.”
“That’s all? That bastard just gave me what’s left after screwing things up—there’s nothing useful! What, I’m supposed to just clean up his mess?”
It was the Empire’s last combat force. When it was in one piece, even the Grand Council would have been wary of them. But now, they were the remnants of a defeated army after a foolhardy mission.
“They are the last combat force of Dark Royale. There are many more Dark Royale agents elsewhere.”
The warlock replied with a quiet voice despite Isaac’s complaint. The other agents still awaited Isaac’s order without a response. Isaac smirked. He purposely belittled Ismael, yet they were as stone-faced as they came.
Isaac confirmed they were aware the situation was hopeless, and were prepared for the last stand. Isaac clapped, gathering attention. He spoke with a smile.
“Now, everyone. I must thank you first for volunteering to help me regain my title.”
Dark Royale agents couldn’t hide their curiosity in their expressions. The warlock asked Isaac.
“… What title are you trying to reclaim?”
Isaac spread out his arms, smiling with the burning mansion behind him. The image left a stabbing impression on the agents.
“I’m the craziest bastard in this world. I won’t accept anyone else.”