Chapter 13 - Crumbling Daily Life (3)

'To use me.'

It was so obvious it was not even worth thinking about. Recruiting external manpower and asking them to leave their own countries was very suspicious. Why should I have to step on a battlefield for an organization that I don't even know about?

In addition, even the conditions were doubtful. It might seem good just by listening, but to me who does not know the situation outside of Earth at all, there is no credibility.

In the first place, I was not sure how the Won can be used in space, so it would not be weird at all if the monthly salary does not even let you buy a single meal outside of Earth. Just like how it is hard to buy a meal in Korea with 3,000 won but the same amount of money could be worth something entirely different for African refugees. Who is able to guarantee that the money of uncivilized (from the aliens' perspectives) Earth is worth 10 billion or 100 billion beyond Earth?

"I am satisfied with my life. I do not want to get entangled in this strange thing."

"But…"

"I am repeating myself again, but…"

I spoke bluntly in case she misunderstood.

"Send me back home. I will never change my mind."

I was speaking confidently, but I still felt uneasy. Even though this woman looked just like a human, she was an extraterrestrial being and in addition, a soldier. I was not joking. If she started yelling 'You cannot reject and we will force it on you, you slave!!!', would I have the power to reject it?

Fortunately, Alaina nodded. In that instant, I felt that she was telling me 'Fool. You are kicking away the fortune that came rolling to you,' from her gaze, but it passed so quickly that normal people would not have noticed it.

"It cannot be helped then. But you will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement."

"Are you not going to erase my memories?"

"Sorry? Hahaha! Our Leonhardt Empire is not such an inhumane country. However, please keep in mind that you will receive a sanction if you spread what happened here, or if it gets broadcasted. Well, it will not matter since there is no evidence."

Hearing her words, I thought of the foreigners who claimed to have been abducted by aliens on TV all of a sudden and realized they could be telling the truth after all. However, that was not the important issue anyway, so I nodded.

"That is good with me. Do I just have to sign the non-disclosure agreement and I can return?"

"…You sure are peculiar. I thought I knew about Earthlings to some extent after meeting so many of you, but this is a first to have one of your kind so annoyed at us."

"Ah, just send me back, please."

I showed the same attitude as a grumbling reserve soldier who got dragged into a training session. It did not matter anyway, because I simply wanted to leave this damned spaceship.

'I will have to resist if they try to teleport me by force next time. People who get entangled will always be entangled, right?'

I clicked my tongue and then looked at the contract on the transparent board. It blinked and transformed into a non-disclosure agreement.

I snatched it without hesitation and signed on it.

"It looks like you really want to leave."

"Of course. No, it is more suspicious that 90% of the people signed this absurd contract in the first place."

Aren't the people who followed the unknown aliens despite having been told that they would be used as soldiers the crazy ones here? It wasn't as if they had thirty lives; why would they want to enter someone else's battleground?

Alaina shook her head.

"They become soldiers, but it is not as dangerous as you think and we will not force them to live the pre-modern military life that Earthlings think of. The only thing we need is ability. You are rewarded for having the ability, making the Leonhardt Imperial Army a place anyone would want to enter. And most importantly."

She smiled at me.

"Don't you want to try riding a Gigas?"

"…"

Only then did I realize how this absurd contract had a 90% probability of success. If these aliens wanted to scout talents that excel in piloting abilities on an uncivilized planet like Earth, they must naturally devote themselves to spending a great deal of time and effort on The Great War. And for users who play The Great War… It was natural to assume that they would want to experience flying through space and shooting down enemies. Anyone would. Perhaps it was natural for people to want to be a [Space fighting pilot] rather than a [Master of games that people do not even know]?

War is a cruel thing, of course, but not many people live having that thought.

"But even if that is the case, I do not want to go to war. Take it, please."

"Ha. I was not expecting a pacifist among the players of The Great War… It is unfortunate, but I cannot do anything about it if that's what you've decided."

Alaina let out a sigh like she misunderstood something and received the contract I held out. I felt uneasy, but it seemed like I was going home. However, the door opened at that moment and a girl who seemed to be in her late teens came barging in.

"Lieutenant-nim! He is a spy, a spy!!"

"What?"

I muttered in bewilderment while the pigtail-haired girl in a uniform similar to Alaina looked at me and shouted.

"This bastard is a spy!"

No, what crazy shit is she spouting?

"A spy? What do you mean, Hye-ran?"

Unlike me who was dumbfounded, Alaina's expression was cold. The gentle smile she had maintained until now disappeared and instead, a cold, frightening aura emanated from her. However, the girl named Hye-ran yelled with excitement, as though she couldn't read the room.

"I checked his score, but it was really strange! I am sure he is a spy who wants to enter the Imperial Army of our Leonhardt Empire to steal information!"

I frowned at the girl who was shouting because I thought she was trying to frame me in order to freely use me. But thankfully, Alaina's cold expression loosened up and a deep sigh came out of her mouth.

"Hye-ran. This person decided to return home. He said that he does not want to become a soldier."

"Also, I even signed a non-disclosure agrteement. I don't even want to get involved with you, so what do you mean by being a spy?"

The conviction-filled expression on the pigtail-haired girl turned into one of confusion when she saw my annoyed attitude.

"Eh? No, no way. But it definitely…"

"Reserve Pilot-nim, I will be back in a moment."

"No, why are you still calling me reserv…"

I was about to argue about that when Alaina pulled the ear of the pigtail-haired girl with a firm expression.

"Follow me."

"It, it is weird… He must be a sp…"

"Second Lieutenant Kwon Hye-ran!"

"Yes, yes! Lieutenant-nim! Ah, it hurts! Wait…"

Kiiing.

She dragged the struggling girl out of the door. It was something that happened in an instant. They left me alone in the room, looking at the door dumbfoundedly. There was an unbearable sense of shame coming from deep inside.

'Ah, ah ah, you crazy bastard… You dumbass… What use is there for being careful like that?'

Actually, The Great War, which was located in the corner of the new, large-scale arcade, looked like a mysterious game machine to anyone.

Let us agree that the graphics were outstanding. However, the active counteract regardless of my actions, the control system and NPCs that were no different from artificial intelligence, the freedom to do anything I want, the extreme difficulty, and the really systematic controls… 

"Ugh, there is no way such a game exists. It was so obvious."

On top of that, it was unnatural that no rumors circulated when such an unbelievable game existed. It was me who ignored reality because of how crazy I got at the game.

"Ugh, game addiction sure is scary! If I had thought rationally, a situation like this would have never happened, but I wasn’t able to stop."

I shook my head and got a hold of myself because it was pointless to regret it at this point.

"Ah, forget it. Everything will be over once I get home."

I'mma take this as me warding off the bad luck that was about to come. It was a painful mistake, but no matter how much I think about it, I cannot imagine myself ignoring a fun, newly-discovered game, so it was unavoidable.

Kiiing!

Fortunately, Alaina returned quickly. I was not sure of the situation since she had quite a subtle expression.

"What did that kid say? No, before that, is that kid also a soldier?"

"A kid!? You were not even born when I was getting my degree, how dare you act so arrog… Ugh, ugh!!"

Alaina soon erased her subtle expression and apologized when she opened her eyes to the sound from the still-open door.

"Hoho, I am sorry. It seems like there has been an error in the system."

"An error?"

"Yes. It is ridiculous, but it says that you have cleared 100 stages."

"…Ah, really. That is weird."

"Hoho, certainly. Right?"

I desperately could not resist asking 'Why?', but all kinds of thoughts passed through my head.

'No, what happened?'

The Great War is a game composed of a hundred stages. In fact, clearing 100 stages is normal if it was an all-clear. But to report that as an error…

As it didn't feel like a prank, I realized there was something different between their perception and mine, but fortunately, Alaina explained it for me calmly.

"If you have played The Great War, you would have noticed that even if there were 100 stages, it was only a number made under the assumption that a single Gigas will be used to overturn the situation. Of course, from a cosmic point of view, it is not that this has not happened before, but… War is a reality, and it is impossible for a single Gigas to defeat all the enemies alone. The Great War is a learning process about war via working with fellow NPCs and adapting to the operation. An ordinary pilot can clear about 15 stages, and as for the 100,000 points requirement to become a reserve pilot, you can achieve it after clearing about 7 stages."

"…"

I put on a dumbfounded expression for a moment. Come to think of it, she said the reason why they came to Earth was because of the signal sent to space by the game simulator, and that the condition was that the player scored more than 100,000 points in the game.

In other words, if a player can obtain at least 100,000 points in the game, the Leonhardt Empire considers them as a pilot worth recruiting with a certain amount of compensation and manpower.

That is right. 100,000 points.

Merely.

Merely…

Merely 100,000 points.

'I have to return quietly.'

I felt a sense of crisis. Until now, I thought I was just in an annoying, troublesome, and complicated situation, but I just realized that the situation was a bit more serious than that.

If a user that had only gotten 100,000 points was a usable pilot, they might think of me as a 'target that must be won over'.

'This disaster was caused because of my useless talent.'

I always thought that if a problem ever arose in my life someday, it would obviously be because of my title-seeing ability. I would have never imagined that it would be because of a game. No, in the first place, who would come to the conclusion that 'It must have been installed by an alien!' with just having information that 'There is a strangely good arcade machine in this arcade'?

'If only I checked the title…'

It would have been possible to guess the existence of aliens in The Great War if I did that, but my mistake was not checking even once because I was too busy playing the game.

"Well, it would not matter if I return, right?"

"Yes? Of course."

"Send me back then."

"Hmm."

Alaina looked at me with a piercing gaze. She still wore a doubtful expression, but it didn't seem like she wanted to hold me back and ended up nodding.

"How unfortunate. You could have become my comrade."

"Do not say something so terrible."

I smiled bitterly and shook my head.

Fortunately, the business of that day ended there.

*

"Unnie! I am telling you that guy is strange! The Great War is a highly-trusted simulation that has sold billions of copies! There is no way an error occurred without a reason, right?"

"Do not yell. I already know that."

Having sent Dae-ha back, Alaina ignored the babbling Hye-ran and became lost in her thoughts. Of course, her behaviour of jumping into the sitting room and making a fuss was rash, but it was also completely understandable.

'It sure is weird. But if he really was a spy, there was no way he would manipulate it with a ridiculous record of clearing 100 stages… And most of all, it would be impossible to obtain such a ridiculous score.'

Alaina closed her eyes to think, but Hye-ran didn't care and kept mumbling.

"That guy, I am sure he returned without making a commotion because he noticed that I realized he was a spy. If not, he would have entered the Imperial Army under the pretext that he was being forced to enter due to the pleas of a beautiful woman."

She was drawing her own conclusions, but Alaina shook her head and thought of the Korean boy whom she did not even check the name of. The difference in their civilizations was more than hundreds of years apart, but Hye-ran, who was also from Earth, knew that his values and way of thinking was not that far off from her.

'He was reluctant.'

Skilled at reading people's emotions from having dealt with people for a long time, Hye-ran could feel that the boy was bewildered and reluctant at the existence of Leonhardt Empire's Imperial Army. A spy? Of course, there might be someone capable of fooling her, but she did not believe that an organization that had such a talented figure would handle things so poorly.

Most importantly, since he returned without any contact, wouldn't the operation be useless now?

"I can only conclude that an error occurred in The Great War."

"Ah, I'm telling you that is not possible."

"Is hacking the game and changing the score possible then?"

"Th, that……"

Hye-ran shut her lips; she had nothing to say. Because it was impossible to change the score in The Great War without leaving any traces.

"I don't think the two of us will be able to come up with a conclusion, so just report it to the Tech Division. Ugh, really. An error when it is impossible for one to happen."

The Great War was a highly-trusted simulation that had sold billions of copies across the entire universe. If players exceeded a certain score in the game, they would be qualified to take the entrance exam at Pinnell Academy, the highest education institution of the Leonhardt Empire, so what else was there to say? If it was so simple to manipulate the score in The Great War, all kinds of cheats would have been made for the Pinnel Academy entrance exam.

"But it is even more impossible that this score is real."

If the score Dae-ha earned had been a fairly high one, Alaina would have believed that it was real and tried her best to recruit him, rather than thinking of it as an error. Because they would have trusted the scores marked by The Great War.

If Dae-ha had gotten 500,000 points?

She would have reported that she had acquired an outstanding talent. Getting more than 500,000 points was hard even for veteran pilots, and it was no different from having proved that they had the abilities to be entrusted with a Gigas immediately.

If he had gotten a million points? 

She would have reported that she had discovered an amazing genius. It was safe to say that a user who could earn more than one million points in the game without having actual experience was a talented person who could take the top spot in the pilot department of the Pinnell Academy and eventually become a commissioned officer.

If it had been 10 million points?

Then she would have checked it a little more before sending the report. People who could score 10 million points in The Great War were born gifted with the qualities of a Gigant Masters. There were only five in the Leonhardt Empire, and it was possible for them to climb to the position of a Great General if they pledged their loyalty to the Empire, so it was necessary to reconfirm.

But even with such scores, she would not have suspected an error in The Great War. Because the game was a highly-trusted simulation, just like it had already been said several times.

However…

"Haha. It is clear that there is an error since the score is ridiculous."

Alaina smirked and mumbled.

"To think he got 1,280,000,000 points."

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