“Ha, wow! These retards…”
Isaac rubbed the temples of his aching head. There had to be a commander for every operation, no matter how small the scale. It was mandatory to establish solid cooperation between differing factions, especially when so many factions were involved this time—from the combat knights of the viscounty, the rulers of Port City, Anton, and the Expeditionary Forces. “A ship with too many captains sails into the mountain” was a proverb for a reason.
Isaac could only sigh at what these fools had done. As expected of College graduates, they all fell into the pitfall of their own genius. Stubborn to a fault and disillusioned to the point where everyone but them were wrong. They were the ideal pawns.
A single note denouncing the unfairness and society and whispers of change with them at the center was enough for them to make complete fools out of themselves. Isaac couldn’t help but suspect that someone created the Order of the Empire to be used as a mere tool.
“Let me guess everything. The Expeditionary Forces were supposed to be here too right? If I died, the few people who vanished during the confusion would be considered MIA, so there wouldn’t be any need for concern about repercussions for your families. So the original plan would have been to regroup here and escape together. You probably realised that the plan had gone awry when you couldn’t contact other members of the Order and you were only left with orders to withdraw. But the reason why you couldn’t make a run and stayed your ass here was because the only place you can escape from Surveillance’s eyes is the other world. So you had no choice but to suck on your thumbs and wait for the Expeditionary Forces to arrive. Is any of what I said wrong?”
Delkrew hung his head without an answer. Isaac clicked his tongue in frustration and spoke to Lanburton.
“I don’t know who instigated these retards but these hobbyists don’t have the talent to contact the Expeditionary Forces or make connections with a demon with their level of organisation. There’s an organisation higher up. Find it.”
“We’ll commence the investigation as quickly as possible.”
Lanburton quickly set into motion and Rivelia too was busy with a Communicator in hand, contacting and assisting the Security agents in quelling the chaos within the city. Isaac chewed his cigarette and pondered on the whereabouts of the Expeditionary Forces.
Everyone so far had a reason to have a hand in this incident—except for the Expeditionary Forces. And they weren’t the charitous sort.
Isaac’s value alone wasn’t great enough for the Expeditionary Forces to risk infiltrating a city brimming with non-humans. So there must be something else they were aiming for… but what could it be for them to move their big asses?
Someone created and used the Order of the Empire. Seeing how they recruited Central agents, it was safe to assume someone of a high office was involved.
Isaac suddenly exclaimed. Everyone stopped on their track and watched Isaac, but Isaac had no time to care about being the center of attention. His face stiffened quickly. The puzzle pieces in his head had started to arrange themselves.
Betrayal of a high ranking Central officer. Possibility of accessing classified information. The greatest barrier for Expeditionary Forces’ conquest of this world was Central.
How did you weaken your opponent’s combat effectiveness? Expose and exploit their differences, assassinate their VIPs, and weaken their capabilities to fight a war.
Diminishing their capability to wage war, and a high-ranking officer who could access classified information. When Isaac put these two together, he immediately cursed out loud.
“Shit! Lanburton, send…”
Just as Isaac was about to order Lanburton, the earth quaked from a massive, thundering explosion.
“What just happened?”
Lanburton looked about in confusion as assessed the state of his personnel—when Rivelia shouted.
“We received a message from the city! A massive explosion occurred at the mines, causing a landslide!”
Isaac threw the cigarette in his mouth when he heard the news.
“Shit! We were too late.”
The reason why nobody cared for the mines when tracking down the whereabouts of the Expeditionary Forces was because the existence of the mine itself was highly classified intelligence.
The agents of Central knew there were mines for mana crystals, but they didn’t know where they were situated nor would they have any idea on how large of a vein existed unless they were directly associated with it.
“Lanburton, how large was my mine’s production?”
“New Port City’s mine is the single largest producer of mana crystals in the world.According to our numbers, about half of all production came from New Port City.”
Everyone realised what Isaac’s question meant. Their faces paled, and Isaac took a deep breath with a new cigarette in mouth.
“Sigh. They got us. They got us good.”
Mana crystals were essential to the defensive coats that could protect against the Expeditionary Forces’ firepower. With the collapse of a mine that produced half of the Empire’s production, it would significantly impact the supply of mana crystals.
Cutting off the enemy’s supplies was of highest priority in war. If the Expeditionary Forces invaded in this situation, Central wouldn’t be able to keep a steady supply of defensive coats up, leading to the collapse of Central’s main combat forces, unable to withstand Expeditionary Forces’ firepower.
In the eyes of Expeditionary Forces, cutting off the supplies and killing Isaac, who had the power to block off the entry point at will, was well worth the risk of losing an entire platoon. Succeeding in just one of the two objectives would greatly hamper Central’s combat prowess, making it an incredibly cost-effective plan of action.
“… So that was the Expeditionary Forces’ real goal. They never planned on cooperating from the beginning.”
Isaac could picture it clearly in his head. He didn’t know who created the Order to use as a tool, but their goal was most likely political power. They must have contacted the Expeditionary Forces and negotiated to gain dominance within Central.
The Expeditionary Forces would have been thrilled by this sudden boon. But the mines were unlikely to be the first chip on the bargaining table. They probably only wanted Isaac’s death at first. But who were the Expeditionary Forces? They came from a world full of diplomats and negotiators who would interrogate and unravel mysteries over a single word or nuance in tone.
‘Alright, we’ll help. But do you really think a peace negotiation can start with the assassination of a single individual? If you truly wish to stop the war, you must destroy their ability to fight it first. That is how you make one sit on the negotiation table. We also want peaceful coexistence, not war.’ That must be how the Expeditionary Forces enticed them.
The people of this world, who still treat wars like a sport, still valued honour and fairness. So these innocent fools most likely passed the information believing everything in that single document. No, there’s even a possibility that they didn’t leave any evidence of negotiation, citing confidentiality as an excuse. Whatever the case, only the Expeditionary Forces benefited from it.
“If I died on top of the mines exploding, there would have been no way for you to stop the Expeditionary Forces, huh.”
Mana crystals were delicate objects. With a shockwave large enough to blow up the mine, the mana crystals would likely become so volatile that even the slightest touch would set them off. Even decades wouldn’t be long enough for the mines to start functioning again.
Stopping the invading Expeditionary Forces in secret during that time will be impossible, so the existence of Expeditionary Forces would be revealed much sooner. Once their existence is revealed, there would be many who would try to profit from it—most of them being humans, further worsening the relations between humans and non-humans. This would only work in the Expeditionary Forces’ favour, who aimed to colonise this world.
So the assassination plot was just a secondary objective for the Expeditionary Forces. Destruction of the mine and hampering the combat capabilities of the entire world must have been their main objective. And now holding the evidence of their collusion with demons, not even Central would be able to endure the Expeditionary Forces’ attacks from the outside and the demonic turncoats causing havoc from within—all the while trying to sniff out the traitors within.
Isaac hid his mouth by rubbing his chin, trying to hold down the laughter welling up inside his throat. Things were becoming very interesting. Central too was following the footsteps of how great empires fell.
‘But it pisses me off that I’m the one on the receiving end.’
Whether the Expeditionary Forces conquered this world, or demons threw a party in this “heaven,” or angels squirmed to escape this hellscape after Central’s fall—none of it was Isaac’s business.
But they aimed for his life. They weren’t the sort to give up after a single failure, and Isaac wasn’t keen on keeping his neck outstretched in submission to a knife’s blade—especially one simply waiting for an opportune moment. The time of patience was over. Now that the ignition started, there was only the option to run wild.
Isaac gave the order since there wasn’t any reason to stay here anymore. Lanburton stopped Isaac.
“What shall we do with Rodney and Niske?”
“Hm? Ah, I forgot about them. With the mines destroyed, I’m sure the residential district for singles is in shambles too. Damsel, go first and lead the rescue operation. Bring the two out and burn the villa.”
It seemed Rivelia was in quite the hurry, as she didn’t even reply and dashed away with a few quick elves trailing behind her. Watching Rivelia disappear into the horizon, Isaac pushed over the lifeless doll and took its seat. The elves threw tens of torches into the villa, setting it ablaze. But they made sure to bring Rodney and Niske outside before it turned into a fireball.
“We didn’t have a choice when Delkrew blackmailed us! Please have mercy, we’ll donate all our wealth to society.”
“My family still has stashes of wealth. They are veiled in complete secrecy, so a single signature is all that’s needed to pass its possession to me.”
Rodney and Niske, too insignificant to even bother shackling, groveled on the ground as soon as they saw Isaac. Delkrew’s face twisted when they put all blame on him, and Isaac snickered at their plight.
“I swear, I’m more impressed by these weasels every time.”
Completely at Central’s whim, their lives were not forfeit yet—which was why they begged for their lives in return for donating their wealth. And that was on top of providing Isaac with a slush fund—all in exchange for Isaac putting in a good word for them to Central.
While the two looked at Isaac, Isaac threw away his cigarette when black smoke began to rise from the villa.
“I’m done looking at their faces. Throw them back in.”
“… Into the villa?”
Even the non-humans hesitated when he ordered the two burnt alive. Rodney and Niske grabbed at Isaac’s legs and pleaded in hysteria.
“I’m sorry! We’ll never do it again!”
The onlookers pitied the desperate fools. In this morally dubious situation, the elves looked back at Isaac. But Isaac remained ever-stoic.
“I will at least watch until you die out of courtesy. What are you doing? We have no time. Throw them in.”
The elves, seemingly not to their taste, stepped back in disgust. But the North Bears, who almost lost one of their future leaders, stepped forward in their place.
“No! Help! Please! Yes! Honey, I’ll give you honey! I’ll buy all the honey in the world with my wealth!”
The two pleaded with the North Bears’ desires, but a North Bear’s wrath triumphed over the seduction of honey. The North Bears grabbed the begging duo and threw them into the fiery villa.
“Throw this trash in too. There’s no hope of recycling him.”
Delkrew’s eyes bulged and tried desperately to speak, but Isaac kicked Delkrew’s jaw.
“I know. I know. I’m sure you have information we don’t. But I think I’ll be able to sleep better with you dead rather than keep an idiot who had been used all his life alive for some information. There are many retards other than you.”
“Isaac, you son of a bitch! Curse you!”
Rodney and Niske ran out of the villa covered in flames. They rolled on the ground in hopes of extinguishing it, but the North Bears grabbed them and threw them back in along with Delkrew.
The screams of agony and cursing Isaac echoed into the air. Isaac watched the scene unfold without a change to his expression, nonchalantly admiring it with a cigarette.
Lanburton peeked at Isaac and gulped. The situation was much worse than he thought. The monster had fully awakened, just as the Director of Surveillance had feared.
Lanburton couldn’t fathom what the Queen’s aim was. The only person who could calm the monster was the Director of Surveillance herself, but it was difficult for her to return immediately because of the trap the Queen had set for her.
The Queen should have been well aware how dangerous the monster was when uncontrolled. Lanburton pondered why the Queen orchestrated this, when Isaac stepped up. The screams had faded.
“But I must say it’s rather peaceful and boring without the damsel commenting on me like she usually does.”
All of Lanburton’s worries disappeared with Isaac’s comment. There was one other than the Director of Surveillance, who could control the monster to a certain degree.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Ah! It’s nothing. I’m just concerned about how the situation will unfold from now.”
“Nothing will change. Whether it’s the Expeditionary Forces, demons, angels, or Central, they will all act to their own benefit. That is all.”
‘But what is it that you want, Sir isaac?’
Lanburton swallowed his question in fear of what answer he’d hear.