‘So, she never mentioned anything about the Queen’s artifacts.’
Isaac assumed Yoo-rah was going to explain to him what these ‘Queen’s artifacts’ were or instruct him on how to use it when he heard she wanted to meet him. Yet Yoo-rah never mentioned anything about it, despite knowing full well that Isaac possessed them.
Perhaps she was oblivious to the fact that these artifacts were stolen from the laboratory, but these artefacts had the power to destroy a knightly order by themselves. Both Yoo-rah and the Empire should be well aware that such a feat would be impossible without this pen, yet they overlooked the issue in silence.
“This is why I can’t trust them no matter how much I want to.”
Isaac exhaled the smoke into the air, blankly watching the skies. Things were moving in very strange ways. What Isaac wanted was to be insignificant enough to be ignored but too unsettling to be left on his own without a constant watch. But the authority given to him was too great. Isaac frowned grimly.
This was an excellent move on their part. Whoever it was, that person had correctly deduced how the situation was turning. That stubborn Rivelia was sure to criticize every move Isaac made, and getting dragged into the tarpit arguing against her could hinder anything Isaac planned.
On the other hand, Rivelia was the perfect candidate. Not only was she not a stranger to Isaac, but her talents were that of a protagonist. The perfect candidate to watch Isaac at his side to the very end.
“What are you thinking about?”
Isaac turned to see Mazelan looking back at him unhappily. Truth be told, Isaac considered Mazelan the ideal candidate in the beginning. But with the introduction of a better candidate, perhaps he was of little importance now?
Isac smirked as he answered Mazelan.
“I think you’re being awfully casual to a Director there?”
Mazelan’s eyes narrowed, infuriated. Isaac quickly took a step back as he waved his hands.
“Woah woah. Calm down. It’s just a joke.”
Mazelan quivered as he glared at Isaac. A Director… A Director! This decision made no sense whatsoever.
It was the pinnacle of success that all agents of Central strive for. Only three seats were available, and among them, Strategy was the Pendleton’s and Surveillance was reserved for races other than humans. Realistically speaking, there was only one spot available, a position that was superior to everyone but the Emperor . No, it was a position that could possess authority surpassing that of the Emperor’s.
And a position symbolising such authority had to be created for this bastard alone. Even if it was just an empty title without any real semblance of power, it was still too much. Central agents from the Empire competed fiercely against one another to earn the seat of Director of Analysis, yet this man managed to reach the same authority whilst playing around all day. Of course Mazelan would feel frustrated and angered by such a decision.
But what could he do? Their situations were completely different in the first place… Mazelan reminded himself of the fact to comfort his pained mind, regaining enough composure to reply to Isaac.
“Then shall I treat you as such, oh Director?”
“Are you really going to if I tell you to, Sunbaenim?”
“If that is what you wish. You are the Director after all, and I’m just a mere sunbaenim.”
“I think we need to debate if the whole sunbaenim thing is applied in this situation first?”
The two didn’t back down a single step, sarcastically commenting at each other, their eyes ablaze. Soon, the two smirked at the same time and gave up, wondering just what they were fighting about.
“Shit! I forgot that it’s just me who gets tired reacting to your shenanigans. Follow me, I’ll explain to you on the way.”
Mazelan grumbled as he began moving his feet. Isaac watched Mazelan’s back, wondering if he should jab at him one more time. He quickly gave up on the thought however, since it was obvious Mazelan was going to fight until the end if he was agitated any further.
“I don’t know what the Queen explained to you, so I’ll start from the beginning again. Originally, you should be paying attention to an introductory lecture for new recruits but you are in a different situation all together, so I’m only going to explain the most important points. If you ever have any questions, ask any agent around you and they’ll explain. So don’t come asking me.”
Isaac approached Mazelan and replied back at him, walking side by side.
“I’ll first explain to you the hierarchy of Central. Central comprises many smaller institutions, but all of them are ultimately associated with one of the three. Strategy, Analysis and Surveillance. Those three are the main bodies of Central. The Grand Council is perhaps the only institution that stands above Central, but that is the realm of politics, so the real leaders of Central are the Directors from those three Directorates.
“Does that mean the Grand Council can’t order Central?”
“Directors of Central are equal in rank to members of the Grand Council. So unless it is a major incident involving the approval of the majority, the Directors move individually towards the goals of their own Directorates.”
“Ohoh! That’s quite the promotion I just went through?”
Mazelan’s fists shook while hearing Isaac’s impression. Just what was the Grand Council thinking? The psyches of each and every agent of Central were shattered after hearing that a whole new Directorate was being founded, just for Isaac. On top of that, news of Rivelia’s assignment as the Vice Director sent Duke Pendleton, the Director of Strategy, into a predicted outrage, announcing his intentions to rebel.
This was the first time that Central, the organisation founded to stop infighting, was split over the decision made by the Grand Council. All of their activities screeched to a halt.
Yet the man who was the cause of it all simply shrugged over the situation saying ‘I got promoted?’ Mazelan could feel the limit of his patience being tested. He considered scolding Isaac but gave up. Isaac wasn’t one to listen to anyone in the first place.
“I’ll explain the Directorate of Analysis first. Analysis is the head of Central. Their mission is to analyse all incidents occurring in the world, designating the relative importance of all incidents, and recognising the signs of appearance of turncoats and invaders alike.”
“Um, I don’t want to complain, but isn’t it impossible to analyse everything happening in the world? The world isn’t small you know?”
“It would be impossible if everything was done entirely by humans. But there are other races talented in analysis and deduction that work for the Directorate of Analysis. Not to mention we are assisted by a powerful piece of equipment so it’s not difficult.”
“… Did you hear about the relationship between the Empire and Pendletons from the Queen?”
“I got a rough explanation.”
“That’ll make things quick. The first Duke of Pendleton was a technician in the field of computing. The legacy he’d left behind is a replica of a supercomputer in your world. By donating this supercomputer, he founded the Directorate of Analysis and established his power to appoint the Director. I also happened to read the manual regarding this supercomputer, but all I can remember was that it was something that was hundreds of times better than the best supercomputer in your world, something like 5000 petaflops whatever.”
EDN: PetaFLOPS are a metric measuring supercomputer speed. In June 2018, Summit, an IBM-built supercomputer now running at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), captured the number one spot with a performance of 122.3 petaFLOPS. Basically, the computer they have is about 39 times more powerful than the most powerful supercomputer we have right now. The latest ranking according to Wikipedia before the publication of the novel was in 2012 with a supercomputer clocking in at about 33.86 petaFLOPS. The novel’s described supercomputer is approximately 147 times more powerful than the one in 2012. Source.
As Mazelan went on with his explanation, he directed a strange look at Isaac, silently prodding Isaac to jump in with a more detailed explanation if he knew anything in that field. So Isaac gave the friendliest and most thorough explanation he possibly could.
Mazelan couldn’t help but frown at first, then quickly smirked.
“Ha. I guess Duke Pendleton wouldn’t be where he is now if you knew about it.”
Isaac felt somewhat insulted by Mazelan’s comment, but he decided to stay silent since what he said was right. Isaac could understand it if it was a supercomputer. Supercomputers could finish billions of calculations in seconds which was impossible for humans to accomplish. They were tools used in the most difficult and cutting-edge problems out of reach from a normal civilian. With support from such machinery, it seemed feasible to analyse everything in this world.
“The Directorate of Surveillance is the eye of Central. They monitor all that occur within the Middle World. Their missions consist of providing real-time information to the Capital’s Directorate of Surveillance and deploying regular agents for intensive surveillance. No one in the world can hide from the eyes of the Directorate of Surveillance. You heard that the other races hold the power to choose the Director, right?”
“Consider all of the other races you’ve seen in the past and all that you will see in the future to be part of Central. Unlike humans, the other races are educated on the reality of this world since their youth.”
“All of the other races?”
“… The other races need not worry about betrayal or exposing classified information unlike humans.”
“I guess having a light mouth is the advantage of being a human.”
“How is that an advantage?”
Mazelan wrinkled and stared at Isaac, asking for further details. Isaac answered with a smile.
“It means we don’t need to go through the troubles to gather information. Humans have a traditional method of torture on their side.”
Mazelan felt an urge to argue, but changed his mind and simply stared back at Isaac in silence. It was an insulting criticism, but one he couldn’t argue against. Frustrated, Mazelan turned away and moved on briskly as he resumed.
“That is why the Directorate of Surveillance boasts of the largest number of agents.”
“Even if there are many other races around, wouldn’t it still be difficult for them to watch all of human society on their own?”
“Just as the Directorate of Analysis owns the Super Computer, the Directorate of Surveillance has their own trump card to keep themselves in the power game. I told you that they boast the largest number of agents in Central right? That’s because the number includes not just the regular agents who went through training, but also field agents who are deployed to gather information.”
“Broadly speaking, all agents who perform basic tasks such as gathering rumours, detecting abnormalities, and investigating suspicious targets and such that are done before a regular agent is deployed are called field agents. But the list of such agents are obviously classified, and only the Director of Surveillance knows of it.”
“How could one person handle all of that? There can’t be just one or two agents deployed for the entire world. The number of reports that come up in a single day alone would be ludicrous, not to mention how difficult its logistics would be, managing all of their movement. And what about replacements if one of them were to die or go missing?”
“I don’t know.”
“Like I said, it’s top secret. The identity of all outside agents are unknown except to the Director of Surveillance. That’s the scary part. All we know is that the outside agents aren’t even aware they are one and that even the smallest and most rural village containing 10 households will have at least 1 agent. They are the greatest information network, and the Directorate of Surveillance doesn’t even look at the reports that come to them. They pass them over to the Analysis the moment they arrive. It’s the Directorate of Analysis that makes the decisions.”
“So they aren’t even aware they are agents themselves? So they are practically free labour, handing over information unknowingly? Wow! How cruel.”
“… Is that the impression you get?”
“Of course! It means they are maintaining such an impressive information network without spending a dime on it! Sounds very handy. Is there a way I can learn how it’s done?”
Mazelan shook his head as if he’d given up on listening to Isaac and continued on.
“The Directorate of Strategy is the hand of Central. They create plans and deploy agents to achieve mission objectives. Their main missions consist of assassination, kidnapping, manipulating information, and propaganda against conventional targets on top of planning and carrying out missions aimed at exterminating confirmed invaders and turncoats. You can consider all activities rumored to be done by Central’s hands to be actions of the Directorate of Strategy.”
Isaac rubbed his chin, intrigued by Mazelan’s explanation.
“That’s interesting. Surveillance gathers information, Analysis makes the decision, and Strategy plans and acts according to the decision… It sounds like an efficient system if they are all equals, but they all carry the danger of becoming subordinate to each other. No. Seeing how each of the Directorates already have trump cards such as supercomputers and outside agents, maybe they are already competing over who will take the head of Central? Then what would Directorate of Strategy’s trump card be? Hm… the Dark Royale perhaps?”
Cold sweat dripped from Mazelan’s forehead as he watched Isaac. There was a reason why the Directorate of Analysis would have placed Isaac as number 1 candidate for recruitment if it weren’t for Rivelia. He never accepted the information at face value and had frightening talent in deducing the causes behind the scenes. He truly was a talent coveted by the Directorate of Analysis.
“Shit! the world must be going mad, considering Isaac to be a genius.’
Mazelan lamented in his mind and spoke to Isaac.
“That’s right. Unlike the Directorate of Analysis and Surveillance, the Directorate of Strategy has military power as their card. That is the Dark Royale.”
“That’s strange. I heard some of Dark Royale’s agents infiltrated Surveillance and Analysis?”
“That’s correct. Both the Directorate of Analysis and Surveillance are aware of it too. As you suspect, the three directorates are both cooperating and competing against one another. Which is why all directorates have embedded spies to other directorates. I’m sure both the Directorates of Analysis and Surveillance have placed agents in the Directorate of Strategy too. But their goal is to simply watch from the shadow, not hinder their mission or sabotage them. They are simply there as a warning not to do anything stupid.”
“Hmm… I see.”
Isaac nodded as if he’d understood everything, but Mazelan couldn’t help but feel he’d made a mistake seeing that. Mazelan felt his heart being suffocated with unease.
“So where are we going right now? Weren’t we going outside?”
The two had been talking to one another for a long time, but Isaac couldn’t help but feel curious since it seemed they were walking deeper into the Palace. Isaac tilted his head. It had been some time since he stopped seeing any Arc Royales, maids, and butlers. Mazelan glanced at his surroundings before he answered Isaac.
“We’re here. We just need to pass through this door.”
“… That’s a door? Not a vault?”
What was in front of Isaac was a giant door in the shape of a bank vault. Isaac spoke in a dumbfounded tone, but that was only the beginning of his surprise.
“Directorate of Strategy Foreign Strategic Supplies Management Team Leader Marvelia Zelion Lankast Hugh Gabelin.”
“… Would you look at that.”
Seeing Mazelan walk over to the panel next to the door, Isaac began to suspect what it could be, although his mind denied its possibility. Lo and behold, Isaac’s suspicion was true, and only after Mazelan went through eye scan, fingerprint scan, and voice recognition did the large steel bar of the door click, silently opening the door.
“Almost feels like I’m entering a vault, not a room.”
“Can’t be helped. Its design heavily referenced your world’s security system.”
“What’s the reason why you guys care so much about its secrecy?”
“Because it holds technology that doesn’t exist.”
Isaac immediately understood what Mazelan meant after entering inside. What lit up the area weren’t magic lamps, but light bulbs. Within the empty square room, there was only another entrance, but this entrance was also very familiar.
“… An elevator?”
Leaving the astonished Isaac behind, Mazelan approached the elevator and went through the identical procedure he did for the vault door. Soon, the door of the elevator opened with the ring of a bell.