Although there was quite the incident this visit, it was customary to begin official activities after visiting the Forbidden Lands.
Mazelan nodded to Isaac, who in turn looked at the Security agents.
“All of you heard that? With our trip over, all of you are on leave until I call you again. Go out and play.”
It was quite the aloof order, what with the lack of any indication of how long the leave was or where they were supposed to assemble once it was over. But it was vacation nonetheless.
The Security agents smiled happily at Isaac’s order, still covered in filth and oozing of a foul stench.
“Where do you plan to go now?”
Rivelia asked, and Isaac replied as if the answer was obvious.
“I’m going home. I’m taking a vacation too. Consider me on holiday for about a year.”
Mazelan immediately prattled on about how ridiculous that was, but Isaac ignored him and moved on.
“Do you know how to get back to New Port City?”
Rivelia jabbed at Isaac, and he shrugged.
“I think I can get myself a private transport if I use my authority as Director of Security?”
Rivelia sighed and commented.
“I’ll be following you.”
“Hm? What about your vacation?”
“I’m the type to finish my work as it comes in.”
She was basically saying that she’d rather deal with the headaches as they came rather than sort out a pile of mess Isaac would have made after coming back from vacation.
Isaac smirked and moved on, with Rivelia following behind. Mazelan hesitated for a moment, then gestured an apology to Kiwest as he too followed Isaac.
The agents of Security seemed quite used to being abandoned by Isaac. They sighed, gathered in their own little groups and scattered to clean themselves up. Kiwest and Taigon, whose existences went fully ignored, could only stand awkwardly.
Although Isaac intended to head for New Port City, he received a message that the Queen wanted to meet him. He was not yet in a position to ignore the Queen’s invitation, so Isaac changed his route to Gabelin.
He used the fastest transport available to reach Gabelin, and once they arrived at the Royal Palace, agents from both the Analysis and Strategy somewhat forcefully separated Rivelia and Mazelan from Isaac, requesting a firsthand account of what had happened despite having received the report already. So Isaac headed to the Queen’s laboratory alone.
“It’s nice to see that you’re safe.”
Isaac ventured through the passage and entered the laboratory on his lonesome. It seemed Yoo-rah had been waiting inside already, and she greeted Isaac with a smile and handed him a cup of coffee.
“It was nothing. The power of this artifact you made, Yoo-rah, was much greater than I thought.”
Isaac replied as he took the cup and sat on the sofa. Yoo-rah smiled.
“I was honestly quite impressed. That was something even I had forgotten about after creating it.”
Isaac watched closely as Yoo-rah answered his question, which suggested that she already knew of its possession, without a hint of panic. He took out the pen from his finger.
“Seems like others can’t even see this thing.”
“That’s because it’s enchanted with magic that prevents others from seeing it unless they already know of that object’s existence and use.”
“But it was likely that everyone already knew I had this with me. What was the reason you acted oblivious?”
“That’s because it doesn’t matter which hand it falls into, since it’s just a failed project.”
“A failed project?”
Isaac asked, and Yoo-rah gave him the same explanation she gave to the Grand Council. Isaac’s expression changed mildly as he listened.
“Turns out I was the richest man in the world.”
“I guess you can technically call yourself that, although you can’t get any interest or make any withdrawals by having it inside a safe.”
Yoo-rah snickered, but she found it awkward that Isaac continued to sip at his coffee silently. She coughed dryly before she spoke.
“It’ll get busy for you now.”
“That’s something I didn’t want to hear.”
Isaac frowned and took out a cigarette. Yoo-rah repeated the explanation she gave to the Grand Council once more, with a more pacifying tone.
Isaac continued to smoke as he listened, but when Yoo-rah mentioned that the Expeditionary Forces could open a Gate outside the Forbidden Lands, he coughed violently.
“Ahem! Is that true?”
“Yesh. It’ll be difficult for them to open a giant gate such as one in the Forbidden Lands, but it should be possible for them to send in an armed scouting party.”
“… Do you know what that means?”
“Of course. That’s what I’m worried about too. We must especially avoid a scenario where they form an alliance with turncoats hidden all across the Empire.”
“Then what is it you want from me?”
Isaac asked, and Yoo-rah hesitated. She continued to fiddle with her cold coffee and answered after having a sip.
“We have to avoid as many risks and unknown variables as possible, but in order to do so, we need a more forceful method.”
Seeing Yoo-rah unable to give a more direct explanation, Isaac decided to say it for her.
“Do you want an unconditional massacre?”
Yoo-rah paused before nodding at Isaac.
“I’ll do as you want. But I have to ask. What is your plan?”
Yoo-rah shook her head apologetically.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot say.”
“… Are you telling me to do as I’m told without knowing what the plan is?”
“That’s not it. I can’t tell you even if I wanted to because of confidentiality reasons.”
“Confidentiality? There aren’t many people who can make me talk.”
“Torture isn’t the only problem. There are other methods to extract information in this world.”
“… Are you talking about what happened to me before?”
“That’s right. There’s no risk of me being interrogated since I’m always stuck in my laboratory, but you’re different, Isaac. You have to be active on the outside front, but if a similar situation happens, the plan that’s been in motion for a long time will fail. We don’t have the capacity to take that risk.”
“It’s disappointing that you think I’ll be defeated by those turncoats.”
Yoo-rah shook her head and wet her throat with a sip of coffee before she answered.
“They may be a headache to deal with, but they aren’t very significant. What I’m concerned about is Central.”
Isaac smirked and extinguished his burnt cigarette as he looked for a new one.
The situation was getting interesting. The Queen who sought to one-up Central. The Emperor who suspected the Queen’s intentions and was doing his utmost to hinder her. Other races who were simple observers and the Pendletons, who balanced the scale.
“If the Expeditionary Forces become able to leave the Forbidden Lands, we won’t be able to prevent the chaos that will engulf the world. How long do I need to hold out in that chaos?”
“2 years. Just hold on for 2 years. After that, a new world will be waiting in front of you.”
“… That’s a relief to hear.”
Central would begin to creak under pressure, and as Isaac stood in the middle and would keep everyone’s attention and guards on him. Yoo-rah would be able to move quietly in the shadows. Basically, he was the bait. Well, it wasn’t so bad.
“I should have recruited more men if I knew this was going to happen.”
Isaac complained, and Yoo-rah replied confidently as if she knew it was coming.
“You don’t have to worry about it. I’ve already developed a new weapon to cover for your lack of manpower.”
“A new weapon?”
“I swear, men are all the same be it this world or ours…”
Isaac’s eyes gleamed with curiosity, and Yoo-rah shook her head as she got on her feet and began rummaging through her laboratory.
“The crossbow you crafted last time. The Laboratory was inspired by it and developed this. The official name is the Cartridge-Fed Repeating Crossbow. There should be a sample around here… Ah! Found it.”
Having found the object she wanted Yoo-rah returned to Isaac and handed it to him.
“That’s an interesting weapon.”
“It uses the same mechanism of use as the one you crafted last time, so you’ll get used to it quickly.”
Isaac seemed interested that the sample Yoo-rah gave looked very similar to the crossbow he made before. He examined it when he realised he noticed a cartridge the size of a dictionary attached to the underside of the sheathed crossbow, and he detached it.
The cartridge was filled with arrows with elliptical tips, and as he took an arrow out, fletchings pushed out from the end of the shaft with a ‘click!’. Isaac examined the arrow keenly, when Yoo-rah gave a more detailed explanation.
“We made the fletching fan out after the trigger’s been pulled to stabilise the arrow’s trajectory and improve its accuracy.”
Isaac tapped the end of the arrow on the table. It made quite the heavy thud, but it felt almost weightless in his hand. That meant they used magic to reduce each and every arrows’ weight.
“This must be quite expensive.”
Arrows were consumables. But enchanting every one of these metal-based objects with magic meant skyrocketing costs of production.
“That’s right. Even the Laboratory didn’t have enough funds. We struggled to make enough just for the Directorate of Security agents to use. We’ve also produced special arrows that can generate hazards like fire, ice, and poison gas. We couldn’t make many of those because they cost even more to make, so be very mindful of their use.”
Isaac smirked and threw the arrow onto the table. Arrows with special effects? What is this, a game?
“Seems useful, but I’ve found an even better toy.”
Yoo-rah tilted her head, and Isaac proudly showed her his toy.
“… It’s a shotgun.”
Though she was familiar with it, this was the first time she had seen a firearm in person. Yoo-rah keenly looked at the shotgun and Isaac caressed the shotgun’s barrel as he spoke.
“I’ve decided to name it the Fucker.”
“… The Fucker?”
Yoo-rah asked as if he was being serious.
“Great name, right?”
Yoo-rah seemed like she wanted to say something, but she simply sighed at Isaac’s proud announcement and spoke.
“Don’t use it. We can’t let the public know of firearms’ existence.”
There was clear disappointment in Isaac’s eyes, and Yoo-rah smiled finding his response adorable.
“But I will give you a personal weapon. The Laboratory will give you a custom-made repeater crossbow per your specifications.”
“Hm… I like the sound of a personal weapon. I’ll name that Backstabber. Fucker and Backstabber, kuku. Isn’t it awesome?”
Isaac snickered and Yoo-rah glimpsed at Isaac if he was being serious, before shaking her head as if she’d given up.
Isaac left the Laboratory and entered one of the serene empty gardens within the Royal Palace. He leaned onto one of the pillars and lit a cigarette in his mouth. The world was becoming more dangerous by the second, and there was no shortage of people trying to control and use him. How fortunate. Am I a pushover, or does the world see me as a pushover?
Yoo-rah used the word ‘we’ multiple times as she spoke. That meant there was an organisation that assisted Yoo-rah. Most likely, they were other invaders she never introduced to him.
Although she didn’t mention what the plan was, Isaac had somewhat of an inkling. If the Queen could bring his family back into this world as she mentioned before, it meant that she could call over others as well.