The rebel mobsters’ time in the limelight was short. It took only a moment for the North Bears to subdue them completely, especially with the assistance from the elves, who joined because it “sounded entertaining.”
The North Bears proved why they were considered one of the five greatest war tribes with their prowess. Their bloodlust-laden claws ripped through the rebels like paper. It only took a few examples until the rest of the rebels quickly surrendered, their knees and hands on the ground.
“I thought you guys retired? How are you still alive?”
This incident wasn’t going to create good publicity if it was resolved in public at the city hall, so Isaac designated a rendezvous in a quiet, empty location instead. Once he received a report that everyone had gathered, Isaac moved to one of the warehouses next to the canal.
Warehouses were hotspots of activity for criminal syndicates, as the place was quiet and void of witnesses during nighttime. Identical warehouses lined the area, and situated in the middle of these warehouses was an open area. It was here where the rebels were gathered, shackled and on their knees.
The North Bears and those loyal to the original syndicate bosses surrounded them and made it clear that even a flinch would trigger a beating. The elves simply remained on the rooftop of the warehouses, basking in the moonlight and thrilled with anticipation of what was to come.
Magical lamps lit the area, and Isaac sat on the chair that had been prepared for him. Isaac’s hubaes and merchant employees stood by his sides, the syndicate bosses mixed among them. Dinozo and Axlon seemed to have had their wounds tended, considering that their arms were wrapped in bandages. Milena seemed to have suffered atrocities too hard to bear as a woman. Her murderous gaze was on the group, her teeth bared viciously.
“I thought you slipped away, smartass? Why are you hurt?”
“He was in the middle of combat attempting to rescue the other syndicate bosses when we arrived.”
Rizzly answered Isaac’s question.
“You got hurt doing that?”
“We wanted to sort out this mess by ourselves, but thank you for your assistance.”
Receiving Soland’s words of gratitude, Isaac ordered one of his men as he took out a cigarette.
“Bring him in.”
With that said, Max was brought to Isaac, his arms dangling helplessly while his legs were dragged along the ground.
“He’s still alive?”
“He got very lucky.”
His crippled arms and legs aside, Max had suffered damage to his internal organs when he fell from the roof. Blood dripped from his mouth, and his face was pale from the agonizing pain. Despite all this, Max looked to Isaac, confused and pitiful.
“W, why? I swore my loyalty to…”
“Shut him up. He’s being too loud.”
Isaac cut off Max. The syndicate member who brought Max slammed his face with his fist. Max lost consciousness, and his body went limp.
“So explain to me what happened here.”
Soland stepped forward and began to explain.
The cause of this incident was simple. People entered a life of crime to live the life of stealing from the weak, shunning the honest, hardworking lifestyle of others. But Isaac’s policies threw a wrench into that way of life. Isaac needed to drop the unemployment rate below a single percentage point, and the syndicate members were included in that metric. One of the most basic jobs of a syndicate member was using their superior physique to blackmail the weak, making them prime candidates for construction work. It was obvious that there would be discontent when those who habitually resorted to violence and shows of strength were forced into hard labour. Not only did it cause friction with the pre-existing workforce, the syndicate members caused all sorts of incidents and were somewhat shunned in their workplace. The syndicate bosses quelled this discontent using carrots and sticks: higher pay and physical punishment.
“Wait. You guys gave them higher wages?”
“It was the most effective method to quell their discontent.”
Soland carefully gave his reason when Isaac suddenly cut off his explanation. As the saying went, arms bent inwards. It was pretty obvious that the bosses would take care of their own men first, but this was all done secretly without Isaac’s knowledge.
“Sigh… you lot make problems even when I pay you.”
Isaac muttered his lament. Soland hesitated as he tried to justify his reasoning.
“Well… they do have the money, but they haven’t got the time to use it…”
The syndicate members were the lot that stepped into a world of crime looking for an easier method. What really annoyed them was, despite being paid after a day of gruesome work, they still didn’t have the time to spend it for pleasure. Most of Ceta District’s jobs were service-based, so the criminals, who were prone to violence, were banned from working in such places. Most ended up in construction firms or warehouses performing basic jobs, but they couldn’t simply slack off under the watchful eyes of the merchants, warehouse overseers, and colleagues. Their lives consisted of work, a glass of beer to relieve the stress, and then sleep. It was the same monotonous life as the weak – the very people these mobsters ridiculed and stole from. Being forced to live such lives – to be at the same level as them – made them fume with anger.
Until now, all they could do was simply complain about their lives. Isaac had proven to them just how insane he really was. All of their bosses were already on Isaac’s side, and the might of the elves and North Bears, which eclipsed their syndicates’ strength, forced the syndicate members into strict obedience. But that Max fellow began to convince and instigate the captains of the syndicates with his artful way with words. Max brought them together in secret and then caused this incident.
When Soland finished his explanation, Isaac gave an order.
“Syndicate bosses. Get out here.”
Axlon and Milena came out while lending a hand to Dinozo. Isaac looked each at the four carefully as he spoke.
“Did I ask too much of you four? Was it so hard to manage your own little districts? You couldn’t even notice this rebellion burgeoning from underneath you? Did you all let your guards down?”
“It’s more complicated than it seems.”
“Let’s hear your excuses.”
Soland retorted to Isaac’s judgement, so Isaac allowed Soland to defend them with the point of his chin.
The syndicate bosses weren’t just playing around until now. The takeover of Foxt’s district had caused significant discord between the original mobsters and the newly recruited ones. And even before the syndicates could settle this issue, the Meta District was burnt down, forcing Soland and his men to spread into the remaining 3 districts.
With more people flooding into an already-overcrowded area, it caused arguments and conflicts between the newly settled citizens and the original citizens. These clashes naturally grew into conflicts between the syndicates, who were technically their protectors.
If the syndicates were openly at war against one another, the issue might have settled after one big clash. But the four were in a cooperative relationship under Isaac’s rule.
The bosses had to quell the discontent, protect their citizens, clean up the dead when any clashes occur, carry out Isaac’s orders, and create an emergency escape plan before the newly designated police force came to New Port City. They simply didn’t have the time to care about anything else. The situation may have resolved itself if the four were cooperative with each other. But their relations weren’t exactly good enough for them to take collective actions. Their relations were only cooperative when Isaac was watching. As soon as Isaac’s eyes were away, they didn’t hesitate to bare their fangs at each other, all the while trying to scheme for their own survival.
“So you’re saying that you lot were betrayed while doing your jobs?”
“… That’s the simplest way to put it.”
Soland hesitated before he answered Isaac, who summarised the drawn-out explanation in a single sentence.
Isaac gave them his true impression.
“Do I really have to purge this city?”
The syndicate bosses trembled as they looked at Soland resentfully.
“Screw it. I’ll overlook this matter, since it is true that the burning of Meta District caused chaos within the management.”
The syndicate bosses let out a sigh of relief, and Isaac turned to look at Max.
“Wake him up again.”
One of the syndicate members seemed already prepared, as he poured a bucket of water on Max’s head.
Blood dripped from Max’s mouth as his consciousness resurfaced. Isaac gave Max some time to compose himself before he asked his question.
“So what gave you the bright idea to become the syndicate boss?”
“Why? I swore myself to your service!”
Max’s blood was mixed in with his desperate plea, but Isaac’s only expression was one of annoyance as he nodded.
“I got it. So why don’t you tell me with that loyalty of yours?”
“T, tell you what?”
“Who made you do this?”
“What do you mean who?”
“Is it really just a coincidence that all of the syndicate bosses are changed the day before that damsel Rivelia is arriving?”
“I was just looking for an opportunity…”
“Of course you did. If I were to reject you with all of the syndicate bosses missing, you and your followers would rampage through the streets with that damsel coming to the city the next day. The rampage you’d make would give that damsel an excellent justification to intervene, so I’ll have no choice but to accept you. Ha! There is no better opportunity than this, right?”
“To be honest, I don’t care who the syndicate bosses are as long as the districts are under control. It might even be better to have your bullshit-spouting ass to run the districts than those idiots, who are more focused on staying alive.”
Max was dumbfounded by Isaac’s words. The syndicate bosses, on the other hand, slowly turned their faces away; Isaac’s words hit them where it hurt.
“But you see, I just can’t understand this. You should have been fully aware that you’d be a dead man if you were to fail. But the fact that you pulled this off means that you were confident that I wouldn’t care about who became the syndicate boss. What I’m curious about is who gave you the assurance of that fact.”
“What do you mean assurance? I simply tried to serve you to the extent of my abilities because I admire you!”
Max proclaimed his innocence, but Isaac only smirked.
“Those syndicate bosses may be idiots, but there’s no way they weren’t prepared for betrayal when they climbed to where they are in a world saturated by lies and backstabbers. The fact that they were so powerless against you means that this was an extremely well-thought-out and carefully executed plan, and you’re telling me that a man with the patience, intelligence, and foresight to capitalise on the opportunity of a lifetime just waltzed into me? It seems more like they just sent a puppet. There’s no need to fear death, and they can escape even if the plan were to fail.”
Isaac saw a hint of uneasiness in Max’s eyes. Even so, Max continued to keep his mouth shut. Isaac tilted his head, then smirked and got off his chair.
“Why am I even bothering to find out who’s behind this? There are so many suspects, I’ll never believe your words no matter who you point at. More importantly, what are the damages?”
Soland spoke out with a grim expression.
“There are significant damages to our businesses due to the clashes between the different syndicates.”
Isaac looked at Soland with a dumb expression and then kicked Soland in the stomach.
Soland groaned in pain, and Isaac immediately grabbed at the collar of Soland’s clothing.
“Are you playing with me? You’re telling me that businesses being destroyed and affecting my income is damaging? Can’t your smart ass understand what I’m asking? You’ve been disappointing me a lot today.”
Soland took the full brunt of Isaac’s cold, piercing eyes just inches away from his face. When Isaac let go of him, he quickly regained composure and changed his answer.
“N, no. We haven’t got the full report, but we estimate more than 300 dead and injured among the syndicate members. Civilians didn’t suffer much damage, but the Rose Garden…”
Soland’s words traced off, and Isaac turned to look at Milena.
“Did many of them get hurt?”
“The sudden ambush was aided by the betrayal of the security guards in the building, and it all collapsed so soon. We tried to stop it with just our workers, but… those sons of bitches laid their hands on everyone, even our students.”
“Then I’ll leave the clean-up to the crazy bitch. Make sure you finish it before the damsel comes and makes a scene tomorrow.”
Milena couldn’t hold her anger and screeched out murderously.
“Can we kill them!?”
“N, no! If so many people were to die, it’ll just give the police the justification to intervene!”
Kalden quickly intervened but backed off when Milena’s vengeful eyes turned to him.
Isaac approached Milena and patted her head.
“You guys aren’t syndicate bosses anymore but representatives who must administer the land in my stead. It’s problematic for you to commit crimes where I can see them.”
“So you’re telling me that I have to let them live!”
Milena spoke up to Isaac about the injustice she felt, and Isaac simply walked away from the area as he answered.
“That’s why I’m telling you to clean it up quietly where I can’t see. And finish it up before the damsel arrives.”
With that said, Isaac left the premises, and Rizzly followed closely behind him.
The hubaes and merchant employees thought for a moment if this was okay, then quickly chased behind Isaac. Pleas of mercy began to echo in the warehouse district, and Max stopped Isaac in his tracks with his shout.
“Why! I swore on my life to serve you!”
“Oh! Really? Then die for me now. I trust that you’ll live up to your words. Ah! Take that armour back from him. It’s expensive.”
Max’s scream acted as a signal; the syndicate bosses’ underlings looked to Milena, weapons in hand.
“Wait. We will begin once Lord Isaac returns to the city hall. I’ll make you all wish for the morning to come soon. Ohohohoho!”
Milena’s bewitching laughter saw off the hubaes and employees as they left the area, chilled to their bones. Isaac took out another cigarette and ordered Rizzly to come closer with a flick of his finger.
“Is there something you need?”
“Watch Smartass carefully.”
“Do you suspect that he was behind everything? If so, Max wouldn’t have kept his mouth shut.”
“The probability that Smartass is behind it is low, because that lunatic didn’t even glance at him. But what makes me suspicious of Smartass is that he even got hurt trying to save the other syndicate bosses.”
“I must say, the tide of battle was tipping toward Soland by the time we arrived. The responses from other districts were lukewarm at best, despite Max claiming that he had acquired all of the districts.”
Rizzly nodded in agreement with Isaac’s explanation.
“In everything, the culprit is always the man who has the most to gain from it. There is no reason for Smartass to try save the other bosses when they aren’t even on good terms with each other. In fact, he could have simply taken over if he used that rebellion as a justification to kill the other bosses and subjugate the opposition.”
“Now that you say it, he does seem suspicious.”
“Even though I say that, everyone seems suspicious to me when I keep digging for the truth.”
Rizzly didn’t seem to understand what Isaac was saying. Isaac simply smirked. This was the perfect opportunity. Isaac had kept the date of Rivelia’s arrival secret because of how annoying it would be to deal with the irritating crowd that would come to watch her arrival.
The only people that were aware of when she would arrive were those at the top of the city’s administrative body. Isaac’s head began to ache when he began to think of who leaked the date to who, who was involved, and whether the leak was done accidentally or if it was leaked with the purpose of aiding the rebellion.
The world changed as soon Isaac arrived in Ceta District. The grim, dark storage units transitioned to streets of all colours of light, the streets brightened by the smiles of the pedestrians as they enjoyed their time.
Isaac muttered as he watched the crowd walk by.
“It’s not so bad living a cutthroat life by using my brain to its fullest…”
Once Isaac arrived at the city hall, his hubaes and merchant employees left for their residences. Isaac walked to the rooftop, which was now his residence, and looked down at the plaza. Isaac smirked and added on his monologue.
“But the best life is to play around all day without a care.”
Request for Emergency Response in New Port City
Sender: Central Directorate of Strategy, Leader of Project 401
Receiver: Director of Directorate of Strategy
A branch of the ‘angelic’ turncoat swarm attempted to approach Surveillance Target 728. The swarm was detected after the declaration of their worship of Surveillance Target 728 was observed. The incident resolved with the surveillance target’s rejection and annihilation of the branch.
Unable to analyse the ‘angelic’ turncoat swarm’s size and state of consciousness. Considering their act of using a follower as an expendable pawn, it is expected that they have spread their roots across all parts of New Port City. It is expected that a swarm of fanatics is currently in completion. Requesting an emergency analysis by the Directorate of Analysis. Requesting directives for responding when the ‘angelic’ turncoats establish contact with surveillance target again.
Orders on response to New Port City
Sender: The Grand Council of Central
Receiver: All agents deployed in New Port City
The Queen of the Sword will be responsible for all incidents regarding New Port City. All agents are to follow the Queen of the Sword’s orders.
The primary task is to find the ‘demonic’ turncoat and retrieve the Queen’s artefact.
The Directorate of Analysis has determined that the ‘angelic’ turncoats have spread their roots across the entire city. Project 401 will be altered and used to continue to find the members of the ‘angelic’ turncoat swarm. Passively observe any continued contact with the surveillance target from the swarm. Use their communications as clues to find the swarm.
If cooperation is observed between the ‘angelic’ turncoats and the surveillance target, retrieval of the Queen’s artefact will be forfeit along with the search for the ‘demonic’ turncoat. Extermination will begin.
Once Extermination is initiated, ‘Armageddon’ will trigger. All agents currently deployed in New Port City are included. Unable to authorise escape, evacuation, rejection or transfer. Do your best for the mission.