‘“Is that tasty?”
Colins asked playfully. Isaac silently extended the cigarettes to him, and to Isaac’s surprise, Colins didn’t hesitate to take one from Isaac. Isaac watched dumbfounded as Colins took a deep breath of the cigarette.
“Kuuh! Almost feels like a menthol cigarette. I still prefer the original, but this body’s lungs are too clean, you see. I get dizzy smoking that stuff.”
“… Who are you?”
Isaac glared with a stiff expression. Colins knew about the real cigarettes, not these ones made out of choyu leaves. That meant he was an Invader—and this meeting was intentional.
“I wonder. Who am I?”
Colins asked back with a mischievous, taunting smile. Isaac took a breath of his cigarette and scanned Colins. This teasing behaviour that asked for a beating, his familiarity with Isaac, and body language that was unfamiliar but felt strangely nostalgic.
“Are you… Won-hoo?”
“Correct! I knew you’d remember me, Captain.”
Sergeant Won-hoo, now Colins, applauded with a laugh. Isaac spoke, filled with nostalgia at this old reunion.
“Let me hit you once.”
Isaac smacked the back of Colins’ head and smiled, satisfied.
“That felt good. My body was itching to hit you the moment I saw you for the first time.”
“Hng… I see you haven’t changed at all.”
“When did you get here?”
“I wonder. It hasn’t been long in this body at least.”
Isaac questioned Colins, staring, to which Colins smiled.
“What do you think it’d be like to never truly die?”
“What bullshit are you spouting?”
“The Queen succeeded in calling specific individuals into this world as Type 3 Invaders.”1EDN: Previously, we referred to “invaders” as common nouns. But it’s beginning to be used as a classification, so we’ll be referring to them as proper nouns going forward.
“So that’s why she offered to revive my parents.”
Isaac nodded as he recalled a blur memory of his parents; he couldn’t even remember their faces. If she could resurrect their dead families, it made sense that the Invaders were willing to work for the Queen.
“The Queen wanted to deliver this message. This is just the beginning.”
“The beginning… I’ll have to know what it is to coordinate with you.”
“That’s why I’m here. To explain it to you.”
Sensing a long conversation ahead, Isaac walked away from the window and sought the comfortable sofa. Colins followed behind, finding a seat opposite to Isaac. His mouth opened the moment he sat down.
“We will create a new Korea in this world.”
“… You don’t seem surprised?”
“I had a rough idea about what was going to happen. What I’m curious about is how you’ll make that happen.”
Colins grumbled, mumbling that it was no fun.
“The first plan was to create a stable Gate in the Forbidden Lands and use it to gather scattered citizens to found a new Korea there.”
“In the Forbidden Lands?”
“So were those combat supplies in that place brought over by you guys?”
“The Expeditionary Forces provided them.”
“It’s one of the secret pacts we made with the Expeditionary Forces. Using the Expeditionary Force’s supplies, Korea was to find independence from the Empire within the Forbidden Lands and establish themselves as middle men between this world and ours. With that newfound economic position sustaining an economy, the Expeditionary Forces were to gather and migrate our people here.
“Why is it in past tense?”
“We went ahead with many projects. Founding Korea in the Forbidden Lands was our back-plan if all our other projects failed. It was a good bargaining chip in forming a trade relationship with the Expeditionary Forces. We still haven’t found a concrete answer as to why the Invader phenomenon happened. All we succeeded in doing is being able to choose the person we bring into the world as a Type 3 Invader. But even that is enough for us to move independently. We’ve been burnt too many times to trust the Expeditionary Forces now.”
“And lo and behold, they stabbed us in the back once again.”
“Are you talking about their attack on me?”
“That too, but they also discovered the existence of hell and heaven and allied with them to attack us.”
“… Does that mean there could be Expeditionary Forces mixed in with demons and angels in the Milros countdom?”
“There’s a high possibility.”
“Now that’s a clusterfuck.”
“The demon can feast on fear and confusion by spreading the plague, while the angel can heal the plague and feed off the piety of the masses. It’s a win-win strategy.”
“So it’s a mutualistic relationship.”
“Yeap. And it isn’t exactly a clusterfuck. The more chaos the Expeditionary Forces create, the more likely our plan will succeed.”
“So what’s the Queen’s plan?”
Isaac asked, and Colins smiled. There was a pause before he opened his mouth again.
“The plan is the same. But instead of the Forbidden Lands, it’ll be New Port City where we open the Gate.”
“You’re going to gather people into New Port City? It’ll be impossible without the help of the Expeditionary Forces.”
“We’ll turn all citizens of New Port City into Type 3 Invaders. The possessors will all be soldiers.”
There were hundreds of thousands of people living in New Port City. What would happen when every middle-aged person became Type 3 Invaders? All of whom were soldiers? An army of significant power would come into existence in an instant.
“Can you imagine? An immortal army that can be sent back on the field no matter how many times it dies? We will recover our lands that way and found a new Korea. And Korea will monopolise the connection between this world and ours through the permanent gate, rising from ashes to become the strongest nation.”
Isaac watched Colins speak with excitement, his voice gaining volume as he went on. Even when armed with state-of-the-art equipment, humans still did the actual fighting. There had to be sacrifices, but sacrifices were meaningless in the face of an infinite army. The Expeditionary Forces couldn’t use weapons of mass destruction like nukes, because they knew how valuable this world was. Soldiers or heroes, numbers eventually overwhelmed.
“Recover our lost lands… Sounds nice. But Central won’t stand for it, don’t you think?”
Isaac asked, and Colins snorted.
“Can’t you tell just by seeing that I came with the non-humans?”
“So all the talks are finished already?”
“Not all, just a portion. The Grand Council has many voices within too. There are members who believe there is no need for bloodshed, as the Expeditionary Forces only want resources from this land. The mana crystals and its useful technologies to be exact.”
“So it must be them who paralysed the operations of Surveillance. Now things are becoming interesting.”
Isaac mumbled as he watched Colins practically jitter with excitement. Isaac grabbed for a new cigarette.
“That’s good and all. But what if it fails?”
“What will you do if it fails? Only some of the Grand Council members know what’s happening, but what if others find out and reject it? No, what if those few members change their minds?”
“That might be possible if it was the Forbidden Lands, but Central will have no choice but to negotiate if it’s New Port City.”
“Aren’t you overconfident? I’m sure Central still has the Armageddon as their last resort weapon. And I don’t know about the Empire, but non-humans have no hesitation in exterminating humans en masse.”
“The influence the Queen amassed up until now isn’t so insignificant for that to happen. The Grand Council must unanimously approve the use of Armageddon. So long as there are members who cooperate with the Queen, it won’t happen.”
“I see this plan wasn’t made over a single day or two.”
“Of course. And even if Central wanted to, they couldn’t.”
“That’s why we rushed the release of new technology. If they were to proceed with Armageddon, we will release all information regarding Central to the world.”
“… So that’s why you created the Media?”
“The Queen rules the Media with an iron fist. Nobody could stop her even if they wanted to.”
When this world discovers the existence of the Expeditionary Forces, angels, and demons—and that it wasn’t the Empire that ruled this world—this would be thrown into anarchy. Humans who loved to rule could stand being ruled upon.
And when the knowledge and means of firearms spread, wars of independence would crop up everywhere. It was Central’s worst-case scenario. When given these options, there was only one option Central could take.
“But why make things so complicated?”
“Type 3 means you are going to possess someone else’s body. Wouldn’t it be quicker to just take over the bodies of those occupying high positions within the Empire?”
Central first designated Invaders into Types 1, 2, 3 and 4 depending on how they came to this world, then searched them, monitored them, and controlled them.
Unlike Type 1s who could come here with their own body and mind, Types 2, 3, and 4 Invaders took over something else’s body in this world.
This body snatching wasn’t intentional, but it’s also why they were called an Invader. But because this phenomenon was uncontrollable like a natural disaster, it was most dangerous.
What if the Emperor, a high noble, or high members of Central or Grand Council members became Type 3 Invaders? Intelligence security would then be impossible, since all information about invaders would be laid out in front of them.
Colins shrugged and asked back to Isaac.
“Why don’t you look at it from a perspective? Your parents, brothers, and sisters, your children suddenly changed into another person despite looking the same. How would you feel?”
“Um… I’d feel like shit.”
“Right? That’s why the first thing Central and the Queen worked on was stopping Invaders from possessing people who could impact this world.”
“They succeeded. That’s why the Campus came into existence.”
“We don’t put Campus and College graduates into positions within the Empire for no reason. They can’t become Type 3 Invaders.”
“We don’t tell them to have their graduation badge on at all times just for them to show off.”
Isaac unconsciously touched the graduation badge on his left chest. The same badge that all College graduates must have on and in full display, unlike Campus graduates who have the choice to hide it.
Isaac thought this was a policy to feed the pride for the elites of the Empire, but he never considered a hidden attribute. Isaac got a new cigarette and looked at Colins.
“But Inspectors should be College Graduates.”
Isaac asked, and Colins grinned.
“It was the Queen who created that magic circle. It can prevent a naturally occurring phenomenon, but it can’t stop us from putting our man into the body intentionally. We can’t do it to anyone—just combat agents who wear the battle coats. The mana crystals on the coat interfere with the magic circle on the badge you see. It was developed simultaneously alongside our ability to bring in Type 3 Invaders.”
“But wouldn’t it become complicated if you take other Inspectors into consideration?”
Isaac asked, thinking about the Three-eyed who ignored Isaac in plain sight and the Tiger and Wolf who didn’t bother hiding their hostility. They even refused to state their names. They couldn’t possibly cooperate with the Queen when they despise humanity itself.
- 1EDN: Previously, we referred to “invaders” as common nouns. But it’s beginning to be used as a classification, so we’ll be referring to them as proper nouns going forward.