“Patients from all over the city are swarming toward the infirmaries. The medical staff tried to maintain a quarantine around the infirmary but are reporting that they can’t handle the sheer number of people.”
“What were you doing, allowing them to move around like that!”
“The medical staff believe the plague has mutated from one that started in the keep, becoming more virulent. Some of our medical staff who had no contact with the cases are showing symptoms.”
“… It’s airborne transmission?”
If airborne, the disease would spread like a dry season wildfire. One person infected meant that everyone else in the vicinity was as good as infected.
“Thankfully, it has yet to be reported to the public, but it’s only a matter of time before news of a new case will spread. I advise you to evacuate…”
“Evacuate where?! Are you telling me to abandon the Empire’s citizens?! How could you even utter those words! I will not watch idly while all this happens.”
Mazelan rejected his subordinate’s advice and glared at Colins. Isaac pulled out a new cigarette and asked Colins, who was frozen stiff at the unforeseen circumstances.
“Is this part of your plan too?”
“Of course it wasn’t.”
Isaac smirked. Isaac watched Mazelan exit the room, quarrelling with his subordinates who still tried to convince him. Isaac called out.
“Where do you think you’re going in such a dangerous time?”
“What, are you telling me to sit here like a good child too?!”
“You’ll most certainly die if you do get infected.”
“I’d prefer that over watching from the sidelines.”
“Don’t be like that. Just control the situation from here. We will take care of the dirty work.”
“How?! Being an Invader doesn’t mean you won’t catch the plague.”
Isaac tapped his coat and answered Mazelan.
“I’m sure the defensive coats can protect us from bacterias and viruses.”
“Of course! The defensive coats were designed to protect against biological warfare too!”
Mazelan’s face brightened for a moment, but his face quickly turned steely as he glared at Colins and the Strategy agents.
“I don’t know about you but what about them?”
Colins shrugged and replied.
“We have no choice but to cooperate. We know better than them how powerful the broadcasts are.”
Because the Emperor had publicly delegated the task to Isaac, he now had the justification to confiscate New Port City from Isaac for failing his duties. Only when the citizens of New Port City were switched to Invaders could they stand a fighting chance against the Empire. But if Isaac were to have his title and authority revoked, it’d ruin their plan completely.
So the Invaders had to stop the spread of the plague in Milros County—whether they liked it or not—delaying their plans.
“Sunbaenim, tell the citizens that the plague has spread in the city using the broadcast and order them not to go outside. Let me repeat that this isn’t a recommendation but an order. You must prepare for the worst-case scenario of a panicked mob of citizens. You should be well aware since you’ve gone through it already. So you must calm the people no matter what. That is your job. Don’t worry about anything else.”
“Will that really work?”
“Of course not. But with your reputation, you should be able to buy some time. Do you have any space to quarantine the infected?”
“We’ve modified schools and warehouses in each district in preparation. But although we have the supplies, we don’t have the personnel to move the infected. I won’t send the volunteers to die; they don’t have any protective equipment. They only came out of faith in me.”
“I’ll take care of that. You just focus on calming the people. Tell them to hang a white cloth on their windows if they suspect a case in their household. If they lack food or any other goods, hang a coloured cloth. And tell them that a cure is in production, so you’ll punish those who commit crimes heavily under these special circumstances.”
“There’s a cure?”
“Of course not. What’s important is that you tell the people there is a way to fight this situation. Showing incompetence will only fuel the confusion. You must use everything you can if you don’t want to see that, even if it means you have to lie.”
“But when they find out…”
“That’s a problem for another time. Just focus on the present.”
“What about you?”
“Since the Invaders have protective coats, there’s no concern of infection when it comes to using them. The Invaders will transport all suspected cases into quarantine areas. Give them the locations. I’m sure the people will follow obediently if we give Central’s name.”
“Fine. But how are you so knowledgeable in reacting to this situation? You’re giving out orders as if there’s a manual for it. Have you experienced plagues in the past too?”
“I just know how to act from watching all those disaster movies and zombie games. You guys should stay with Mazelan sunbae… I guess you won’t.”
Even if they weren’t humans, a plague was still just as dangerous to non-humans. So Isaac wanted to have them stay with Mazelan, but Rivelia, Reisha, Rizzly and Kunette were already busy stealing spare defensive coats from the Strategy agents.
“You know we aren’t going to listen to your orders right?”
“I know. I just mentioned it out of courtesy.”
Isaac and his crew left to not disturb Mazelan preparing to make his announcement. One of the employees of the Department of Supplies briefed them with the locations of schools and parks that’d been designated as quarantine areas.
Isaac could see just how unenthusiastic the Invaders were as they crammed the information into their heads quietly. Isaac looked out the window.
It seemed quiet for now because the rumours had yet to spread. But the whole place would submerge into chaos soon. Mazelan would try to calm the people with his announcements, but there was no possibility they would listen obediently when their lives were in peril.
Once the briefing was over, the Invaders glared at Isaac once before heading off to their designated areas. The looks varied intensely. Some seemed to condemn Isaac for going so far for the Empire’s citizens, while others seem to agree with Isaac’s decisions.
Isaac gave his farewells to each of them, making eye contact with them one at a time, and then grabbed the employee who finished the briefing.
“Listen closely to what I’m saying.”
The Supplies employee froze solid. Isaac brought his face ever closer.
“Are you aware I’m the highest authority here?”
“Y, yes. I am well aware.”
“Good. Are any of your colleagues outside right now?”
“Some of our employees left to ration the food supplies, but now that there are cases within the city, they won’t be returning. Other than them, everyone’s here.”
“… I’m sorry, but we’ll have to give up on them. You understand?”
“Yes. We made our resolutions when we volunteered.”
“… I see. Listen well. Ignore every order Mazelan sunbae gives you. Immediately abandon this building and have an airship on standby. The word will spread soon. You already know what’s coming with everything you’ve seen already. No matter how much Mazelan sunbae tries, people will try to run when the situation turns dire. But the Empire’s army has surrounded this city outside. The Empire’s army has been ordered to kill any who leave the city, and even I can’t change the order. Understand?”
“When they fail to escape through the gates, they will gather here. Then, you must take Mazelan sunbae and evacuate him using the airship.”
“B, but our Vice-Commissioner will never go willingly.”
“Either knock him out or drag him away. Just do whatever you can. In the worst case scenario, at least have Mazelan sunbae leave in the airship. Can you do it?”
“I can. No, I will make it happen.”
The employee grit his teeth in determination, realising how dire the situation was. Isaac tapped his shoulders satisfactorily.
“Good. I see he wasn’t such a bad boss. What’s your name?”
“Yeah. Ricksly, I’m begging you.”
Ricksly replied confidently and ran into the building. Colins, who had been watching, grumbled with a pout.
“Do you really want to save him that badly?”
“It’s the least I can do.”
Something must have bothered Colins, who was still giving him a disapproving look. Isaac asked.
“So what was it you were going to say before?”
Colins shrugged at the question.
“Nothing much. I just wanted to ask if you want to see your family again.”
“Family… They all died back then. You should know that.”
“You know what I…”
Isaac shook his head, cutting Colins off.
“We’ll talk later. I’m dying to uncover the face of whoever caused this mess. I’m almost impressed. We’re going to the keep.”