Gabelin was a large metropolis, meaning that it also came with a huge administrative bureaucracy in tow. To spread out its weight, different government offices were divided among the districts. The Department of Administration’s headquarters, in particular, was a five-story building that helped oversee the entire Empire. On a daily basis, it would busily sift through all citizen inquiries and complaints. In the waiting room on the ground floor, people watched Isaac’s trial on screen.
“What’s he saying?”
People looked to their colleagues, confused by Isaac’s declaration, but those who had been waiting bolted up and unsheathed their weapons hidden beneath their clothes.
Bang bang bang!
People screamed and dropped to the ground at the sound of gunfire. The Empire had previously released information about the other world’s weapons, so the general populace was well aware of the firearm’s power and distinct sound.
When people first learned about the existence of firearms, they were shocked by its ability to deliver death faster than their eyes could follow and the thundering sound that followed.
But they soon learned that what seemed like a powerful weapon was, at its core, just a ballistic weapon using gunpowder to fling projectiles at a target. The Empire revealed its repeater crossbow, which far surpassed that of firearms—in the people’s eyes, firearms weren’t much of a threat in comparison.
Of course, reports of the other world’s main weapons of war at land, sea, or air sent waves of panic through military personnel. But the Empire quickly called for the development of similar weapons, to which the military eagerly stepped up. But to ordinary citizens, firearms were just as threatening as the repeater crossbows.
“Everybody get down! We will kill anyone who resists!”
“Group 3 stand by, Groups 1 and 2, clear the floors above us. Captured the Commissioner alive. Move!”
“What are you doing!”
One of the office workers stood up, only to be shot down a moment later. Screams pierced the building, everyone quaking in fear.
After corralling everyone into a corner, they began setting bombs on the building’s pillars. Gunfire echoed from floors above, and a group of people poured out from the stairs soon after.
A middle-aged man was dragged down the stairs. He seemed to have resisted, as his face was bruised and bloody. Brolen, who had been appointed Commissioner a short while ago, didn’t understand what was happening.
“… Who are you guys?”
“You should already know.”
“That’s why I’m asking, you traitors.”
The armed men smirked. The man who seemed to be their captain kicked Brolen down.
“We’ll gladly go down as traitors if it’s for the Empire.”
The employees rushed to Brolen’s aid. One of the armed men who had been planting the bombs shouted.
“Charges are set!”
“Good! Kick everyone out except for the high officials!”
With that, the soldiers shoved the people in the lobby out of the building. Everyone broke out in a full sprint the moment they were out of the lobby, relieved to have escaped.
The armed men truly caught them with their pants down. Most of the executive branch’s employees had left the building to help maintain public order in case of an emergency at the festival or diplomatic event.
Otherwise, the entire building wouldn’t have fallen so helplessly to a group of mere five or six men, even if they were armed. The tax department especially was the executive branch’s muscle, since some of its employees were retired Central agents.
Commissioner Brolen and the heads of each of the branches were roughly escorted to the centre of the lobby. Brolen was silently cursing himself for not training in his spare time when he realised something as he looked at the hostages.
“I don’t see the heads of construction, taxes, and patents?”
One of the heads blurted in between sobs.
“Those bastards killed our…”
Brolen’s face hardened. He shot up and shouted.
“Do you truly plan to destroy the Empire!”
The heads of the three departments Brolen mentioned were all non-humans. High-ranking non-humans within the Empire’s bureaucracy were likely notable individuals in their own races, and non-humans were very sensitive to each and every casualty of their own to begin with. They were sure to hold the Empire responsible for these deaths.
Formerly the Vice-Director of Strategy during his time with Central, Brolen knew exactly how vital non-human cooperation was in these dire times. These deaths were no mere casualties. The captain of the armed men approached the anguished Brolen.
“Wasn’t it a matter of time anyway? This is humanity’s last stand. You should just stay and watch.”
The Aegis was a satellite city of Gabelin. It was a residential area for the Empire’s Capital Defence Force, where soldiers and their families resided.
The Capital Defence Force always kept a handful of strike teams on call at all times, and it immediately sprang into action when all the reports flew in from the many districts.
“The police headquarters has been demolished? There’s a hostage situation at the Department of Administration’s headquarters, and the only thing that’s unscathed is the fire department. Ha, all this ruckus just because they couldn’t even handle that? This is why you humans are… Tsk!”
McCain, Commander of the Capital Defence Force, grumbled about the situation in the control room. The humans tightly gripped their fists underneath their desks.
It wasn’t particularly strange to see non-humans sitting at a high position within the Empire’s bureaucracy, considering their long lifespans and formidable physical capabilities.
But McCain had replaced the previous commander at the behest of the radicals to monitor the Emperor and crush him if he were to do anything suspicious.
As expected of someone who despised humans, his blatant favouritism towards non-humans and constant criticism of humans sent waves of unrest through his men. But McCain didn’t care for it. In fact, any who complained about it were transferred to a remote location.
“… Gabelin’s fire department has requested assistance.”
The commander replied to his human advisor with utmost disdain.
“The army has to mobilise over something like this?”
“Hehehe. You’re completely right, sir. The fire department should just handle it all.”
Everyone in the control room looked at the vice-commander with disdain as he continued to butter the commander up with praise.
He had been well-respected by his men, but his true nature came to light when the new commander arrived. The commander looked at his vice-commander with annoyance.
“You dare treat me like you, a spineless human? I don’t enjoying cleaning up the messes of you stupid humans, but I don’ t have any interest in neglecting my duties. Declare an emergency, and mobilise the first-response strike team.”
Everyone was quite relieved to hear the Commander’s order, but the vice-commander’s grumling paralysed the room.
“You should have stayed put.”
The Commander turned his head in utter disbelief at what he had just heard. The last thing he saw was a repeater crossbow pointed at his face.
The Commander failed to even react as bolts flew at his face at point-blank range. His body fell onto the ground, his face now a pin cushion.
“W, what are you doing!”
The men fell into panic for a moment before calling for security. The vice-commander spoke to them grimly.
“I’m sorry. Die for the Empire.”
“G, get down!”
The vice-commander took off his coat, revealing countless claymores lining his body from top to bottom. The military officers in the control room were well aware of that weapon, as they had a keen interest in the weapons of the other world. The officers screamed. Soon, a loud explosion reverberated through the building, followed by thousands of steel fragments ricocheting through the control room.
Gabelin was originally designed as a fortress city capable of defending against any invasion. That was why there were only a limited number of roads where a massive number of people could pass through.
And in order to go from one district to another, they had to pass through checkpoints. Walls overlooked strategic checkpoints. Guards were always on patrol atop these walls and at the gates, checking the identities of those passing through.
On special occasions, the volume of people passing through the gates typically swelled. The guards prepared themselves for what they expected to be an exhausting day, only to find the streets empty once the broadcast started.
“Wow. Have you ever seen the streets so empty in broad daylight?”
One of the guards spoke to his compatriots, scanning the empty streets in surprise. A soldier who was leaning on a wall spoke, yawning.
“I guess they’re all holed up in their houses, watching the broadcast.”
“Man. I wish I could watch too.”
“What’s the point? He’s going to be executed anyway.”
“Who knows? Maybe his followers will stage an attack to rescue him.”
“Idiot. That’s exactly why they’re holding the trial in the inner plaza. I don’t know if he’s got anyone left, and even if there were, how could they possibly infiltrate the royal palace?”
“No. That bastard smuggled technology from the other world before anyone else did. He could use—what’s it called—a plane and fall from the skies.”
“Drop in from the sky when there are so many guards here? It’d be more plausible if they dropped those things they call bombs instead. But the entire city of Gabelin is a no-fly zone, so the entire place will go into an emergency state the moment we even see an airship.”
“But his followers will have weapons from the other world. Wouldn’t he use some innovative method?”
“Their trinkets did look strange at first, but they aren’t much once you know what they are.”
The leaning soldier scoffed as he shot down the other guard’s speculation again and again. Much of the fear and mystique of the firearm had disappeared after Isaac failed to kill even a single person in the Gabelin train station attack.
“Huh? Hey, the captain’s on patrol.”
The guard leaning against the wall quickly straightened up after he spotted the captain. Although he was lenient enough to allow just two men on the walls when streets were completely empty, he most certainly didn’t like his soldiers goofing off when there were tasks to be done.
“Close the gates.”
“Nothing to re… sorry?”
The guard, trying to pretend that he hadn’t been goofing off, started off by shouting ‘nothing to report,’ But before he could finish, the captain interrupted, causing him to bite his tongue midway.
“I said close the gates! It’s an emergency!”
The two soldiers hurriedly manned the mechanism. With a loud noise and a gentle rumble, a giant steel gate dropped, blocking the path.
“Didn’t you hear me? It’s an order. Withdraw.”
Albeit confused, they still followed their captain’s orders. When the soldiers disappeared, the captain approached the gate mechanism and attached the bomb he pulled out from his pocket.
The captain looked at the mechanism blankly. He was starting to have second thoughts now that he was at the final step. During his youth in the slums, he was just trying to survive until the next day came. But with the Dark Royale’s support, he was educated and made something of himself. Though it wasn’t the most successful life, it was still a decent one.
The Dark Royale had explained how dangerous this mission is, and why this mission had to be done. Some may have thought it wasn’t worth doing after the explanation, but not him. The captain knew just how imperative it was for him to die.
The Dark Royale had ordered everyone partaking in this mission to prioritise survival and minimal casualties, but that was only if they could pull off the mission undetected.
It was simple enough to discretely install the bombs with his rank as captain, but he didn’t want to live with sacrificing the lives of his men.
It seemed the mission was already in progress. Chaos reigned in the streets in between the heavy thuds of boots in the distance. The captain sighed, and he pressed the detonator.
“I have no regrets. For the Empire.”
The Central Broadcast Station controlled all broadcasts throughout the Empire. And as such, it was broadcasting Isaac’s trial in the Royal Palace and the emissaries’ arrivals at New Port City live.
Because there was still a shortage of people capable of working the broadcast machinery, most of its current staff were Central agents. And they were just kicking back and watching the broadcast.
With all the combat agents of Strategy gone, its remaining non-combatants were transferred to other directorates. The Directorate of Strategy was disbanded, and Surveillance was on standby indefinitely. Thus, all the agents working with the broadcast equipment were from the Directorate of Analysis.
To the agents of Analysis, the Empire’s current struggle was like a fire across a river. So even as they watched the trial, it was still from a third person perspective.
As a broadcast station, all information arrived here first. Aware of its importance, the radicals had sent some of their warriors to act as security and carefully monitor human activity. So when all of these short, concise reports flocked in after Isaac’s announcement, the warriors sprang into action. But the agents of Analysis had the first move.
“How… Pendleton’s going to get what’s coming to him!”
Gas made of silverflower powder—lethal to werewolves—was pumped throughout the broadcast station. Werewolven warriors writhed in pain and collapsed.
Silently, the Analysis agents made sure of their deaths by shooting their corpses before gathering their bodies in one spot. Soon enough, the warlock leading the Dark Royale arrived with a group of men. They then cornered the civilian staff and contacted the Analysis agents.
“They’re all dead.”
The warlock nodded. And asked again.
“Our operations at the police headquarters and Department of Administration’s headquarters were successful. Of the 13 defensive walls, 7 were successful. 4 were somewhat successful, and will be repaired soon. Two failed completely.”
“The Capital Defence Force?”
“From the report, they’ve been thrown into utter confusion, as all high-ranking officers were killed”
“The fire department?”
“They seemed to be struggling to keep up with all the problems coming at them. The broadcast station also received their request for assistance.”
“We’re cutting it close. Now is a battle for time. The broadcast station is the most important one, so set up a defensive perimeter.”
The fire department was always on high alert during festivals in order to more effectively respond to fires and accidents. Many of its staff were dispersed throughout the city, assisting the police and hospitals to capture criminals and help the injured.
The nearly empty fire department building now acted as the control centre for responding to all the incidents in the capital in place of the police headquarters.
Angela was a moderate elf and the head of the fire department. She cursed her past self from thirty minutes ago for even complaining that her capable subordinates had left her nothing to do.
She was envious of Reisha, who became the hero of the elves as the first real symbol of another world. She was also impressed with Isaac’s final words, remembering that he was the one who gave Reisha the opportunity to become the hero. But afterwards, she was overwhelmed with a constant stream of reports from all over the capital.
“The police headquarters has collapsed!”
“There’s a hostage situation in the Department of Administration’s building! All high-ranking officials—including the Commissioner—are being held hostage!”
“The gates at the security checkpoints have been destroyed! The civilians are in an uproar right now!”
“Send a rescue party to police headquarters! And order the police station closest to the Executive headquarters to deploy immediately! This is an emergency! We will centralise and coordinate communication between the police, the Department of Administration, and the firefighters. Tell everyone to follow the firestation’s order as per the emergency manual!”
Angela gave order after order seamlessly, untangling her men from the chaos. Her long tenure at the fire station was truly reflected in both her demeanour and expertise. Personally, she rather enjoyed human company, especially their praise after saving their lives.
No matter what happened, the manual had procedures for a situation like this. The fire station workers immediately moved according to Angela’s orders and quickly sent the word to activate police and fire station reserves.
“And contact the capital defence forces for reinforcements!”
“That could be considered treason!”
“I will take responsibility! Move it! And contact the royal palace immediately!”
The employees immediately turned the dials on their communicator before shouting back.
“It’s no use! We’re not getting through!”
Angela quickly realised that even the broadcast station had fallen. This was very unexpected; she may not have liked the werewolves, but they were very capable.
The men who had grown accustomed to the convenience of the communicators were now helpless without them.
“Send all the reserves! If the communicator isn’t working, move your bodies!”
Angela realised it would take much longer for peace to return to the city now that the communicators were down. Suddenly reactivating the old system after being accustomed to the new technology might create some friction, but it was the only way.
Suddenly, the screen showing the trial cut out momentarily, replaced by masked men armed with firearms pointed to a number of people corralled into a corner.
One of the employees sobbed as they watched the horrors on screen.
“What is going on?”