“You monster! Those are what define our history and heritage!”
A convoy that had been sweeping through every home and museum for historic artefacts to escort back to the rear was ambushed. Each and every historic antique in these trucks held unfathomable significance in the history it entailed. They were national treasures.
However, the soldiers who ambushed the trucks grumbled to each other when they realised that what was in the trucks weren’t supplies. With an order from Joon-young, they began gathering the artefacts into a single truck. One of the convoy’s guards, who had taken the job of a traitor, tried his utmost to stop them.
“Damn you’re noisy. It’s much better to destroy it than have it taken from us.”
“Don’t you know that history will remain even if the nation disappears?! We have to leave behind our history and its evidence if we want to continue our cultural heritage!”
Joon-young simply plugged a finger into his ear in the face of the man’s wailing, hastening his men to pour oil and gunpowder onto the artefacts.
“They’ve changed history before this war. I’m sure they’ll do the same after this war and carefully package it as part of their own history. Isn’t that obvious?”
“That’s even more of a reason to protect those national treasures! For as long as the evidence exists, history will speak the truth!”
Joon-young smirked at the man. One of his men reported the process was done, and Joon-young personally lit the truck on fire.
The man screamed and charged at Joon-young, but he was quickly subdued by Joon-young’s men, who were evidently irked. Joon-young watched the flames grow bigger and then approached the man.
“You’ve heard the phrase right? The people who have forgotten their history have no future.”
Joon young smiled mischievously at the man who looked back at him with hatred as he pointed at the truck.
“That future is now.”
“People who have no future don’t need history.”
“Hmph. This will all become but a single phrase in history textbooks in the future. Like the Sumerians or the Andeans, where only experts remember their names as the birthplace of civilization. A single phrase that this nation once existed.”
“… You will go to hell.”
“You think I’m afraid of hell? If there is a hell made for burning these rocks and paper, then I’ll gladly go there. What I’m afraid of is seeing the faces of the dead who died protecting this nation weep at what has happened. Dying while fighting for its preservation would make a decent excuse. It’s much better than boasting to them that ‘it looked obvious that the nation was done for, so I tried to protect its treasures instead.’ Right?”
“Shit! We got a dud. To think he was a soldier.”
“But these memories have experienced war. It will be different from the others who only received training.”
“But we are already overflowing with military knowledge. And I doubt someone from the military would have any connections with the Queen.”
“This is just the start. I’ll keep looking.”
“What are they saying at the top?”
“They said they don’t have anything to support us with. We’ve been ordered to break through on our own.”
“Is there a different path we can take?”
“We’ll need to circle the long way around. The only path we can take to arrive on time is to break through here.”
“Ah, shit. Which retard made this plan? Has he never played an FPS in the past? Isn’t it common sense that snipers would be camping their arses in urban warfare?”
Joon-young grumbled and peeked a mirror out the building to get a glimpse of the intersection, where a soldier screamed for his dear life. Sergeant Min-won-hoo asked Joon-young.
“What do we do about him?”
“What do you mean what do we do? Haven’t you seen the movies? Leave him.”
“All of our boys will die if we don’t kill that sniper.”
“That’s why we need to kill him.”
“What gun is that sniper using?”
“They’re from the north, so they’ll be using Russian weapons, and if it’s a Russian sniper rifle, it has to be a Dragunov right?”
PR Note: The Dragunov is a real-life Soviet-developed semi-automatic sniper rifle.
“Dumbass, you sure that isn’t the only sniper rifle you know about?”
The soldiers snickered when Joon-young belittled Min-won-hoo. Once again, a loud ‘bang!’ pierced their ears, and the screams of the injured soldier grew louder.
“One of us will go out with a shield to act as if we’re rescuing him while others spot the sniper’s location.”
“So where is this ‘shield?’”
“Isn’t there anything we can use around here?”
“Can you see anything we can use?”
Joon-young looked around, only to see the collapsed buildings, broken cars and the bodies of dead civilians.
“How about we rip off one of the car’s doors?”
“You think that’d really stop a sniper’s bullet? This isn’t a movie, you know.”
“Yeah, it doesn’t seem very reliable to me either. There’s no choice. Go grab some of those corpses and put on a Kevlar. We’ll use those instead.”
“Hm. It’ll certainly act as a shield. But who’s going to go out with it?”
Since the work entailed great danger, everyone looked at each other in silence. After a brief ponder, Joon-young smiled and offered a suggestion.
With a loud ‘bang!’ the soldier who lost the game moaned briefly and fell onto the ground.
“Wow! Has he been sniping ever since he was born? How did he hit him through that gap?!”
“Now isn’t the time to admire him! 11 o’clock! 4-story building! Flash spotted on the 3rd floor, middle window!”
Min-won-hoo shouted out, and a soldier who had been on standby quickly ran out with a different corpse, while another soldier closely followed him.
Another gunshot was heard, and whilst the soldier with the corpse flinched, the soldier who had been hiding behind him stepped to the side and set off a panzerfaust directed towards the location Min-won-hoo pointed at.
PR Note: The panzerfaust was a German anti-tank weapon used in World War II. Roughly speaking, it is a German equivalent of the U.S. bazooka.
The warhead flew across as it ripped through the air. It hit its mark, causing a giant explosion inside the building. All of the soldiers cheered and ran outside.
“What happened to the first one that got hit?”
“He’s dead already. I think he bled too much.”
“Good. We didn’t have the time to treat him anyway. We’ll take the body if we get back alive later. Let’s move, we have no time.”
“Hng. I’m still alive.”
The first soldier who ran out with the corpse struggled as he got back up on his feet. Joon-young looked at him with great surprise.
“What the? You’re not dead?”
“It went through my ankle. Damn it hurts.”
“Dumbass. It hurts because you’re alive. Fall back to the rear. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to do it on your own.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t go wit…”
The soldier made an awkward smile, when suddenly his head blew up into a fountain of blood.
Joon-young and the soldiers immediately reacted by running back to the same building they came from. Frustrated, Joon-young threw his helmet and shouted out.
“Shit! It’s a different one right?”
“Seeing how his head blew up, it seems the bullet came from the opposite direction.”
“Shit! Was it an entire sniper squad? Why the fuck are there so many snipers when it isn’t even a Korean specialty!”
“The Director of Surveillance has assembled the Grand Council.”
“But this is too quick for her to notice.”
“Rivelia spilled the beans to the Director of Surveillance. She used the fact that Target 728 knew this was Central’s ploy as her excuse, and the Director of Surveillance used the same excuse to intervene. Thanks to that, they found out that we killed who was it again? That Mission Support Agent. This mission’s a failure.”
“Shit… that’s going to be a mess. What will you do now?”
“Hide of course.”
“From the Director of Surveillance?”
“There are many on the Grand Council who are still on my side. The Director of Surveillance won’t be able to interrogate me so one-sidedly.”
“Let’s head to Viscount Luken’s land then. An information assembly facility exists there.”
“… Isn’t it a shame to expend him over something like this?”
“Do we have a choice? He was made to be used in preparation for a situation like this anyway. Since the mission has failed, we’ll need to make it look as if it was Viscount Luken doing all of this on his own.”
“I guess so. Let’s proceed that way then. Personally, I’d like to just kill him here, but that’d really make the Director of Surveillance hunt for me for the rest of my life. It’s a shame I can’t kill him.”
“I’ll wipe his memories clean instead. Not even the Director of Surveillance or the Queen will be able to get what they want from an empty husk.”
The evacuation of civilians resulted in failure. The regiment had ordered a full retreat, but Joon-young’s squad and others couldn’t abandon the civilians. They volunteered to stay and help evacuate. But as they were guiding the civilians, enemies attacked. The city was taken over, and with the path of retreat cut off, the only option left for the army who refused to surrender was to hide.
At first, they met up with civilians who were friendly to them, and with their help they continued their resistance within the cityscape. But soon, they began to run out of ammunitions and medical supplies, and with no supplies reaching them, they began dying off one by one.
Their greatest foes weren’t the enemies but the civilians. Those who protested against the war stood at the front, demanding the army to surrender all the while hunting them from the shadows. They welcomed the annexing troops with open arms. It seemed that the army that annexed the city noticed the world media and placed strict rules on soldiers’ conduct regarding civilians, but that was all. The refugees who were hidden away quickly ran out of food and water, and the enemies used food and supplies as bait to bring out the civilians.
With even the few civilians who were friendly to them turning their backs now, all that was left was to be hunted down like wild animals whilst trapped in a cage. More and more soldiers deserted to surrender while others died of thirst and starvation. They could only stand and watch powerlessly as their comrades were hunted down and beaten to near death by civilians, their bodies being dragged over to the enemies as trophies.
They hid themselves in the sewers like rats drinking rain water and staving off starvation however they could, but that hellish life changed when the now-regrouped army that had retreated came back to take the city. Joon-young and his men found out when they heard cheers outside whilst they rotted away in the filthy sewers.
The army marched on the streets with tanks at the head, and people lined up to meet them with cheers on both sides. Everyone welcomed the army back with open arms, whether they demanded that they fight to the death or demanded that the army surrender and disband to avoid war. They were, at this point, united to welcome the army into the city.”
“How many of us are left?”
“… 12 including you, Sarge.”
“Everyone died then… everyone.”
Joon-young couldn’t even laugh at the irony that these soldiers, who had achieved great feats and were renowned as heroes of the war after returning from the front lines, were hunted and killed like rats by the people they served to protect. Nobody even cared about Joon-young’s group. No, they were detested; people frowned when the smell of the sewers that had become infused into their bodies oozed out wherever they went. The same could be said by the army which retook the city. They were the remnants of the army which failed to protect the city, which was their order. They were treated poorly. Joon-young wondered if this was what he fought so desperately for.
He didn’t want a hero’s welcome. He didn’t want a reward. He didn’t have a grand belief or anything. He only did what he had to do as a soldier.
Yet some within the world praised them, others criticised them. Some welcomed them, while others mocked them.
Joon-young finally realised. That nations and races were just clashes of perspectives and beliefs between people. Individuals may struggle as much as they want to some effect, but they can never change the world.
When his thoughts finally reached that stage, it felt as if he’d reached an epiphany. The fear of death which had been pressing heavily at his head disappeared, and Joon-young smiled. Realising that all of this was just a desperate struggle for survival, the aimless hatred and anger felt empty. What was the point? Everyone was simply doing what they could to survive.
‘You were wrong, commander.’
“Hah! Pathetic. Just what is wrong with that world?”
“They say it’s a world that accepts many different perspectives and beliefs.”
“Hah! And one of those perspectives they tolerate is to abandon the army and live on as slaves? I’ll need to reevaluate that world.”
“Those are the words of an extreme minority. There exist many nations within that world. If all nations were like that, the word ‘war’ wouldn’t exist there. It seems they call them pacifists.”
“Is that world filled with fools? What difference is there between that and slaves, if they will give away everything just to survive? Why make an army if you’re going to live like beasts and animals without resistance?”
“I don’t understand either, but it’s just one of many beliefs. If there are some who’d abandon weapons to keep peace, there are others who’d pick up the weapons to protect it. Well, both sound like excellent tools to me.”
“Retards. This is the memory he doesn’t want to remember the most? Is it because they are all retarded?”
“I’m not sure, since this is the first time I’m handling a healthy type 3 and not a type 4. But the curse definitely worked.”
“It’s hard to even watch this pathetic life anymore. Let’s withdraw. There’s no need to stay here anymore.”
Central’s Grand Council.
Even the Emperor was but a member who represented the humans in this council, where every attendee of the council were figurative giants who both represented their own race and controlled the world.
The meeting room of Central was made like a lecture theatre, where the seats were spread out in the shape of a semicircle that inclined towards the back. All members of the Grand Council sat on their own seats, whispering to each other with great distress as they discussed for an answer.
The Dark Royale were known for their detestable actions, but they had crossed the line this time. For them to kill their own ally. An ally who was simply following his orders without knowing anything behind the scenes.
Because of this, a great commotion erupted not just in the Directorate of Surveillance but in the Directorates of Analysis and Strategy as well. Sacrificing friends could happen, but that was only in a situation when they were fighting against the enemy. To die in their hands in this situation was meaningless.
All of a sudden, the meeting room’s door, which boasted its impenetrable nature, slammed ajar, letting in a beautiful blonde woman who marched in with great fury. Her fury was so apparent that the necks of all of the members attending the council shrivelled in fear.
The woman stared at the council and blurted out her words.
Those words certainly suited her glamorous appearance, but the council didn’t seem very shocked, seemingly accustomed to her actions.
“I apologise that we didn’t let you know, but this was the decision of the Grand Council.”
“Shut up. Dumbass.”
Brolen was the Director of Analysis, one of the triumvirate within Central and equal to her in rank, but he felt like it was too harsh for her to treat him this way. But he could only flinch and look away from her murderous gaze.
“Since when did the Grand Council take and use an agent from the Directorate of Surveillance without its director’s approval? And you sacrificed him halfway through? Did I look like a pushover just because my state has become laughable recently?”
Seeing her let out her reproach in sequence without rest, those within the council couldn’t hide the troubled look on their faces. Silently, they began pressuring the Emperor with their eyes. The Emperor often complained that they only pushed over responsibility to him in situations like this. He spoke in a soft tone to the woman.
“We never intended to infringe on the Directorate of Surveillance’s authority.”
Confronting the woman’s murderous gaze alone, the Emperor quickly continued before the woman could barrage him with an insufferable chain of insults.
“The reason we acquired the surveillance target was because of the Queen.”
The woman’s face stiffened in response.
“What do you mean?”
“The Queen has been very uncooperative to us as of late.”
“That’s obviously because you guys were stupid enough to let a demonic turncoat steal her artefact.”
“What if the entire incident happened under the Queen’s own approval?”
“… Do you have any idea what that means?”
“There aren’t many even within the Grand Council that can even approach the Queen’s artefacts. But a mere researcher stealing the artefact and successfully running off with it? All the while avoiding the agents who were in pursuit? That’d be impossible without assistance. The Directorate of Analysis determined the most likely suspect is the Queen. So we had to take into consideration the possibility that the Queen had joined forces with the demons.”
“Do you really think it was coincidence that the turncoat who ran away with the artefact happened to hide in New Port City only to give the surveillance target the artefact, and he just so happens to find the roots of the angelic turncoats? If this was all intended by her, in the worst case, the Queen may have contacted not just the demons but the angels too.”
“… And you’re telling me that bullshit of an excuse is the reason why you acquired the surveillance target by force with the council’s approval?”
“Correct. As you know, we have been providing information to the Queen if the surveillance targets were from one of the 3 eastern nations, in accordance with the treaty. But the Queen, who had been receiving those reports indifferently, specifically requested more information on Surveillance Target 728 alone. This is unprecedented. With the report from the Directorate of Analysis added on top, the Grand Council approved the mission to acquire the Surveillance Target 728.”
“But you’d go so far as to even kill one of my men to prevent me from knowing this.”
“… I have nothing to say about that. I do admit our fault in failing to control the Dark Royale sufficiently.”
“So what are you even planning? Are you trying to use him as a hostage to threaten the Queen?”
“If the Surveillance Target 728 is so important that it warrants attention from the Queen, we need to find out why. We were planning to send him to the Queen after probing what information he has. He was going to be an excellent informant to inform us of what the Queen was plotting, but that’s water under the bridge now.”
“Information? Don’t tell me you are going to alter his memories and brainwash him!”
“The Queen is our most important asset. If the Queen were to have a change of heart, we’ll need to stop it. Well, the plan may have gone awry, but it may be even better now. We have no choice but to feign innocence now that things have turned out this way. Surveillance Target 728 will be terminated after we have extracted all the information. If the Queen tries to save the Surveillance Target herself, then we’ll be able to renegotiate more favourable terms. We can ask for information which the Queen refused to release and perhaps even have her serve the Empire directly, instead of being partners like now.”
“You fools! Stop it now!”
All of the members within the council seemed discontent with the woman’s outburst, pressuring her with their arms folded and silent glares. Even if the woman’s authority held great power, she didn’t have the power to speak against the council’s decision.
“This was agreed unanimously by the Grand Council. It’s too late for the Directorate of Surveillance to speak against it now.”
The woman trembled, shaking in shock at the Emperor’s words and began a remonstration.
“You idiots… you better hope my agents find him first. If something happened to Target 728, neither Central nor the Dark Royale will leave unscathed.”
“You are overreacting. Don’t tell me that the Director of Surveillance, despite how high and mighty she is, has grown feelings for her surveillance target?”
A werewolf spoke out with great sarcasm, showing that the two aren’t of great relations. The woman glared at the werewolf for a moment and then looked at the rest of the council at their pathetic display.
“Stupid. I am the Director of Surveillance.”
“Who here doesn’t know that?”
The woman continued without being flustered by the werewolf’s mockery.
“What was the reason I was delegated as Director of surveillance? Because I was my race’s representative? Because I work well?”
“Because your ability as a watcher was the most superior compared to the rest.”
The woman nodded at the Emperor’s explanation.
“If you know that, then why can’t you see this logically? You there.”
Brolen hastily responded when the woman suddenly pointed at him.
“Think about it logically. I’ve had a hold on a single surveillance target for years, following him constantly. What is the Directorate of Analysis’s answer?”
Brolen quickly began to think about the woman’s question. Suddenly, his eyes opened wide in disbelief and answered back at the woman.
“… Because the target is so dangerous that the Director of Surveillance must keep a constant watch?”
Brolen’s answer contorted the expressions on the council members’ faces. Although it was difficult to get along with her personality, her ability alone made her irreplaceable within Central.
“If the target was so dangerous, why didn’t you report on it sooner?”
The werewolf growled, and the woman snorted and spoke right back.
“Ha! I’ll say that right back at you. It’s because he’s dangerous.”
“Just approaching him rashly is extremely dangerous. But there’s nothing to worry about if he continues sleeping.”
“If he was so dangerous, it would have been more prudent to eliminate….”
“I’m sure you guys would have loved to hear my report that he was dangerous. All of you would fight amongst one another to gain the target’s information. None of you would have ever thought of eliminating him so simply. Can you say anything against that?”
“But if we knew about it…”
“If you knew about it and what? That things may have been different? Don’t make me laugh, dimwits. Both the Empire and the Grand Council are the same. I’ve given my warning since the start. I rejected all missions directed at him and consistently declared that allowing the target to do what he wants was the best course of action. I was just about to be relieved hearing that the Queen will be inviting him soon and you betray me like this?”
The woman looked coldly at the council, who sat there motionless.
“Remember. You just woke up the monster. The monster that possesses the Queen’s Artefact. Good luck. I wonder if you can even manage the aftermath.”
While the council frowned in displeasure, the werewolf snorted and spoke out.
“Ha! No matter what you say, he’s just a human. What can this monster do when he’s trapped in a cage?”
All of a sudden a man ran into the meeting room in a rush.
“Urgent news! Hordes of monsters have suddenly appeared in Viscount Luken’s castle!”