Chapter 12 - Crumbling Daily Life (2)

I confess, I am actually a gaming addict.

I am at an age where I am healthy and studying hard to maintain my grades in the top 10% of the whole school. However, those who have known me for a long time would know very well that I am a gaming addict.

I try playing most of the newly-released titles more than once. In this excessively-huge house for a father and his two sons to live in, I have a room I use only to store my games. We are not too short on pocket money, so what else can I say?

This hobby of mine has gone on so long that I have already bought over a thousand games.

The moment I find a game I like, I spend all 24 hours of a day playing it. Confining myself in the room is a norm during vacations, and if it is not possible to do that because of school like now, I repeat endless simulations inside my head.

I research strategies as soon as I wake up in the morning, and I think about the controls while listening to classes and when I am walking.

Repeated practice is definitely needed, and I imagine more groundbreaking and perfect methods.

And because of that, I will never last more than three days once I start levelling up, unless it is a game that I need to play.

I grasp even the structure of the game itself without fail and become a master that is more perfect than anyone else.

I am not joking, but I am so good to the point where my gameplay starts to go viral on the internet without fail, whether it is fighting, strategic simulations or MOBA games.[1]

There are always replies saying it was manipulated, so now I am being quite cautious about it.

"To think that I have to endure this for 10 days."

I headed to the arcade right after school ended, as usual.

Neither my father nor brother are the type to have strict rules for the family, so it is not much of a problem. If things were like before, Jae-seok would have followed me to the arcade, but he had to attend an academy because of his mother, so I headed to the arcade with little trouble.

'What should I do today? Well, I already conquered [Punishment] with the R-13. Even if it is me we are talking about, it is impossible to capture the gigantic spaceship with just the R-13… Ah, right. Shall I have a sword fight this time?'

Instead of R-13's main weapon, the photon cannon, I decided to go with the Ultra-Vibration Blade, which could be considered as a secondary weapon.

Going into the battlefield where photon bombs are fired everywhere with just a short sword does not differ from suicide, but there has to be a handicap like this for the game to be fun, right?

Kiiiing---

But then, I heard a strange sound.

'Ah… I was wondering why it has been so quiet.'

There was unexpectedly no particular contact with Celestia, whom I thought would keep pestering me for a while.

I thought a romance comedy would occur where she barged into our home, fell for my dad, and then said that she would become my mother, but it seemed like she decided to finish sightseeing or her travels ended because I did not hear from her again at all.

However… The sound was ringing clearly through the air yet nobody in the surroundings heard it, and that told me she had appeared nearby.

'No, wait. Now that I think about it, it sounds different. Is it another alien?'

Woong-

I was feeling doubtful when I felt something in me that could not be expressed with words, but it felt familiar for some reason. That unknown sensation was transmitting me [Information].

-Would you like to resist?

To be clear, it did not appear in text form. But regardless of that, I realized that a certain something was trying to move my body, and I also realized that I could stop that through my judgement.

With no other conditions, qualifications and without using force.

Something I can do with just my decisions…

'What is this? Is it an [Authority]? Not an ability?'

It was bewildering for me, but that was what I felt.

Yes. I had a kind of authority in me.

It was unexplained information, but what matters was not whether this was an authority or an ability.

Do I have to resist against this unknown interference?

'But if I resist, it will once again…'

I remembered the time when I saw Celestia's spaceship and flinched.

How she was laughing while saying 'as expected, you can see it'. Because of that, the background changed while I was hesitating.

Paat!

Before I knew it, I was moved to a room.

I had undoubtedly arrived at the arcade and several students were passing by, but I was now at a completely different place beyond space.

"…What is this? Where am I?"

I acted flustered for now.

Because it might not be Celesta who kidnapped me but some other existence.

If I were to explain the atmosphere of the room I arrived at, it was a living room with several pieces of furniture in it.

The pieces of furniture were round overall and were a little contrasting, but it was not an incomprehensible, pedantic design. It was generally comfortable to use for someone of human height.

"Nice to meet you, Reserve Pilot-nim."

"…What a surprise."

It was not an act this time.

I am not joking, but a woman who seemed to be in her late twenties appeared right in front of me when there had been no one there a second ago.

"Haha, you sure are calm."

"Calm my ass. My heart almost dropped."

I replied in the sharpest way possible, but it did not look like she believed me.

It was because extreme calmness dominated my entire body when I got surprised for real, as compared to when I could pretend to be surprised when I was just acting.

But the woman who appeared in front of me smiled brightly as if that did not matter and said.

"Sorry if I surprised you, Reserve Pilot-nim. I am thrilled to meet you like this."

"…Reserve Pilot-nim?"

I got confused at the unfamiliar word and I reflexively looked up above her head.

Leonhardt Empire, 2nd Corps Headquarters

Head of Human Resources Division, Alaina.

'What is this?'

I flinched at that moment. But it was not because of the content.

'What is this line?'

It was a normal(?) Title, but there was a line drawn in the middle of it like a cancellation line. It was as if they drew a line across to erase the text. No, it seemed like they tried to cancel it, but it was the first time I had seen a title like this regardless.

The woman, who kidnapped me, placed her hand on her chest like it did not matter whether it bewildered me or not.

"For the Emperor! I am Lieutenant Alaina, head of the Human Resources Division of the 2nd Corps, Imperial Army of the Leonhardt Empire."

"Leonhardt Empire…"

Empire. A word that would fit the medieval age, yet it still sounded familiar.

Because I was in the Leonhardt Imperial Army and had defeated countless enemies in the new game that was installed in the arcade, The Great War.

"You must be thinking, 'Isn't that the content of the new arcade game?'."

The woman who was flashing me a gentle smile appeared voluminous. Judging from her self-introduction and the uniform she was wearing, she looked like a female soldier. She was about my height with a well-trained yet sensual body. Despite her not exposing any skin and being completely covered in her uniform, I still felt that way, so it would not be an exaggeration to say that she would attract all the attention if she walked around in her casual wear on the street.

'No, but does a soldier like her exist in this world? Is this AV material?'

Overall, she seemed to be in her early thirties. She looked like a Germanic beauty (although I do not know if this category applies to aliens) in her late twenties with waist-long, shiny, blonde hair, but it was hard to guess if this was her real look or a setup to attract humans… But that was not the important thing anyway.

'An alien again.'

Yes. That was the problem. Just like what Celestia did, this woman was claiming to be an alien as well.

"You are not planning to say that all of that exists, right?"

"Of course."

Alaina smiled brightly and said.

"I was planning to say that all of that exists. The Great War is not just a simple game; it is a pilot-nurturing simulation that uses reality as its foundation."

"…"

I stared at her, speechless, while she gestured for me to sit on the chair.

It was an awkward situation since I was standing while she was sitting. She resumed her explanation the moment I sat down.

"As I said before, The Great War you have played is a simulation that perfectly synchronizes with the controlling of real Gigas. We made it by entering information about the war between our Leonhardt Empire and the Tekea Federation."

A hologram appeared in the air as she raised her hand while explaining with a soft voice.

It showed the things that were reproduced with [Out-of-earth] technology like the huge battleships, [Rising Storm] and [Rage], that were now familiar to me since I had seen them a lot, and also the Gigas and fighter jets that were flying in between.

"Excuse me, but… Why did you throw such high-tech products to Earth?"

"To discover talented pilots, of course. In the Leonhardt Empire, we have been recruiting talented people by installing simulators using several methods on most of the Alstron Galaxy that we have influence on. If you score more than 100,000 points on the simulator, a signal will be sent into space."

"…"

In other words, it was a pilot selection test. On top of that, it was a cosmic-scale selection for people who did not even know about extraterrestrial life, like Earth. 

"I have expected this to baffle you. No, you are actually calmer than I expected. The person we brought here a year ago made a fuss for two days while trying to find a hidden camera. We showed him techniques that cannot be recreated by the civilization of Earth 34, but he was still not able to accept reality."

"I do not know who that is, but that is too slow."

"But you being too fast is also a fact, Reserve Pilot-nim."

She said and took out a card-sized transparent board from her chest.

The board seemed to be made out of a material similar to crystal and was emitting a strange light. Like a piece of paper getting unfolded, it increased in size and transformed into a document of considerable size.

"…This is?"

"A contract. As soon as you sign here, you will be qualified to take the Pinnell Academy entrance exam to be part of the Leonhardt Imperial Army."

She was speaking as she wished, an attitude that seemed to have ruled out the possibility of me declining.

"On Earth, people who kidnap others and give them contracts as they please are commonly known as slave traders."

I showed my bewilderment on purpose, but she just laughed calmly.

"90% of reserve pilots who received this offer agreed to it. In addition, it is not easy to pass the Pinnell Academy entrance exam, so it is merely an interim contract. It means you can give it a try without losing anything."

Is she trying to tell me to not get my hopes up because it is highly likely to not work out? But even so, my thoughts did not change because of it.

"I am sorry but I like games, not war. I do not want to put my life on the line, so please send me back home."

It was a clear refusal, but Alaina did not get flustered and replied.

"But… We will reward you just by taking the entrance exam."

The numbers she showed me on the contract contained ten zeros as she completed her sentence.

The currency was in Korean Won, fortunately(?), but it was an incredible reward for just having to take the exam.

"The compensation will be issued in the form of a black card. You can use the black card freely anywhere in the world and it is completely clean so you will not get traced. And most of all…" Alaina smirked and continued. 

"If you pass the entrance exam, the reward will change into a monthly pay and this… Korean Won? Anyway, it will not be a limited currency. You will get paid in Gallats instead, the common galactic currency. In addition, students of Pinnell Academy receive a reduction in most crime sentences including murder and get a third rate operational right, which means you will have higher authority than the presidents of the countries on your small planet."

In other words, what she was saying was that my life would change the moment I entered the school called Painen or Final, but… I simply shook my head.

'That is bullshit.'

No matter how good the conditions were, it was all in vain. Why would they go to such great lengths cost-wise for a Gigas pilot in the first place?

'To use me.'


1. MOBA refers to multiplayer online battle arena, for example, League of Legends, or Dota 2.

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