Chapter 24 - Getting a Job, and War (5)

"What, it just opens? That's so boring." I grumbled and looked at the hallway. And then looked behind me. There was no one.

"Hmm." I pondered for a moment.

Come to think of it, when she said 'this studio is around that place', there was this somewhat indistinct expression on her face but it wasn't vigilance or anything of that sort.

If she had said 'Don't be too concerned about it', it would have meant that it contained something valuable.

If she had said 'Don't get close to it', it would have meant that it contained something dangerous.

But she only wore an indistinct expression.

'What is it?'

That was what piqued my curiosity. I didn't feel any sense of foreboding like that I felt in the face of a bad situation.

'It should not matter much if I am only poking around a little.'

I slowly inched forward.

The hallway wasn't long. The hallway's huge width made the hallway feel like a part of the room rather than a corridor.

[What are you?]

And I ended up meeting 'that' in that place.

"A head?"

If I were to describe it, it was a huge head. An enormous head of a man wearing a heavy helmet made from dragon scales was floating in the air.

[How rude. Do you always address others by their body parts?]

A sound echoed in the surrounding air as his eyebrows made of steel twitched subtly. Something similar to a vibration reverberated through the surroundings, causing a tremor.

"Oh, what a strange feeling."

[... Strange feeling? What, are you okay?]

His round eyes stared at me in bewilderment, as though he was greatly surprised.

It might sound weird, but… He had lots of expressions for a robot.

"Who are you?"

[I'm Ares. The God of War, Ares.]

He sounded arrogant and full of confidence, as though he was looking down on the world.

However, his voice wasn't the main focus as I was only thinking about his title and name.

'A God of War?'

I now know that Gods existed.

I had never seen her face, but the Primordial God who might become my stepmother (...) threw us to space with her power. Moreover, I was able to look up information on the various Gods on the computers in the rooms.

Honestly speaking, from my point of view as an Earthling, Gods only exist in myths and the fantasy genre while aliens exist in science fiction. The fact that they acknowledged and co-existed with each other was somewhat difficult to swallow. There was a sense of foreignness.

However, whether I felt a sense of foreignness had no impact on reality. In fact, if I were cool-headed and assumed that both co-existed, I would realize that it wouldn't be strange for aliens to be aware of Gods, the former having seen the limits of science.

'But this guy is not a God.'

Of course, I could not be sure as I had never seen one, but the one in front of me seemed somewhat [easy to deal with].

Of course, his arrogant and confident voice contained power, but I could not find a trace of disposition of a God.

However, at that moment, I suddenly recalled another existence which could also be labelled as [God].

"Are you a God-rank Gigas?"

[That is right! I am Ares!]

There were five different ranks for Gigas - God, Star, Human, Beast and Tool.

They would receive the title of either God, Star, Human, Beast or Tool. The number of Beast and Tool-rank Gigas ranged in the hundreds and thousands but the figures dropped drastically up the ranks.

Of course, the Leonhardt Empire alone had more than 20,000 units of the Human-rank Gigas, but they only had five Star-rank Gigas, despite Star-rank being only one rank higher than Human.

'But, he is God-rank?'

The only God-rank Gigas the Leonhardt Empire was known to possess was Ra, the Gigas of Leonhardt's first Emperor.

It was a first generation Gigas but also "Transcendent Weapon No. 92" that was the strongest in the space (though I have no idea why it is the strongest since it's number 92) and was considered the pride of the Leonhardt Empire.

But right now, this dude in front of me was claiming to be a God-rank Gigas.

"But… That is weird. I heard that the Leonhardt Empire only has one God-rank Gigas, but it isn't you."

[Of course not! Because I am not a Gigas of the Leonhardt Empire!]

"You are not a Gigas… of the Leonhardt Empire?"

Instantly, I thought this might be dangerous.

Because the fact that he was here when he was not a Gigas of the empire could mean that they had stolen him from somewhere else.

However, Ares spoke boldly.

[I merely formed a contract stating that I would help them for a while if they help me find my body. One of the reasons as to why this spaceship is roaming is to find my other body.]

I nodded while hearing his voice that was full of vigor.

'It can negotiate and enter a contract. Putting it nicely, it is an artificial intelligence, however, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that it has its own ego.'

I could feel a considerable pride and spirit from this guy.

If he had been in his complete state, perhaps even the Leonhardt Empire wouldn't be able to approach him easily because of his strong personality.

But only his head was in this place… No matter how overwhelmingly stronger he was than a giant spaceship, or if he was a God-rank Gigas, an incarnation of destruction that could even destroy the entire planet, there was not much he could do in this state.

Of course, it seemed like they formed a contract because they had high hopes of the earth-shattering power he would be able to release in his complete form after considering his residual strength in his current state.

[By the way, how did you get in? They said that no one will come here until they find my other parts. Did you come in to notify me or something?]

"No. I do not know a thing."

[...Why did you come in then?]

I shrugged my shoulders at the dumbfounded Ares.

"I was curious."

Yes. That was all to it. I could not come up with another reason even if I wanted to.

Other people might have made a fuss if they saw the head of a God-rank Gigas upon entering, but he did not seem that impressive to me.

No, even if he was amazing, he was not even my Gigas so it didn't matter much.

'Ugh, if there had been something like the R-13, I could have just ridden on it. Why did a God-rank Gigas appear instead?'

I turned around while mumbling and Ares called out to me.

[Hey! Where are you going?]

"What do you mean? I am going back. I came with my hopes up, but there's nothing much here."

[What, nothing much? Hey, wait. Hey!]

I could hear him shouting, but I walked straight out of the hallway. It was enough that my curiosity had been satisfied.

"Close sesame."

Guuuung---- Kik!

The door closed with a softer sound as compared to when it opened. It seemed like it had been closed for a long time.

Nothing much happened after that. I returned home.

"Open up."

[Yes, Maintenance Officer Kwan Dae-ha-nim… Identity confirmed. Welcome.]

Dong-min was in charge of guarding me today, but he was a man of few words and we did not speak much since we were both guys. I entered the house, ate dinner with Bo-ram who had returned from the library, and started a game after returning to my room.

"Hmm, come to think of it, I was too impulsive. It could risk destroying this beautiful peace."

For someone like me who doesn't want to even be involved in annoying things, it was unexpected that I would enter the hallway.

[Wow, you are here, Nameless-nim! Do you want to play a round with me today?]

[Nameless-nim, a Constellation of Carnage appeared as a raid mob. Please help me. ㅠㅠ]

[No, no. Nameless-hyung has to go catch the dark demonic dragons with me! This damn game actually included the dark demonic dragons; they are asking to be sued by the Noblesse. They are f*cking strong. As expected of a god.]

[You idiot. Dark demonic dragons and dark dragon gods are two different entities.]

[Whatever, they are crazy strong! Ah, I also want to get some divinity!]

Many people started chatting me up the moment I logged in.

They were not users of a particular game but Albatross's crew members who played various games and manifested in the form of a translucent avatar. Because they were already in the standby channel which was the access path to the various games.

There were about 10,000 passengers in Albatross, and Albatross was in the middle of a long-term mission that could last dozens of years. It was only natural that these people needed entertainment to offset that long, boring time, and the online system was activated for the 10,000 passengers to play together.

'I should play Blaze Of Storm today.'

I ignored the pouring direct messages and connected to one of the games. It wasn't like I could play for a whole day or two, so I would not be able to play if I replied to all of these direct messages.

[Oh! Is this the rumored nameless man?]

I used a blank space as my in-game name as I felt that there was no reason for me to be known by my name in this place.

However, my existence was made known to others as I swept up the leaderboards in all the games, showed my new playing style, and accidentally trampled on people who used map hacks and cheats.

From there on, they started to call me 'Nameless', most probably because of the blank space in my ID.

"I am going to the central front lines. Alone."

[What? Are you crazy? I do not know what kind of person you are in reality, but everyone here starts from level 1, you know?]

A backlash arose as usual.

Blaze Of Storm was a war game where 100 users would form two teams of 50 and defeat the enemy.

The central front line had the most number of monsters and soldier NPCs, so usually, at least 10 out of 50 users would gather there. It was normal to not be able to do a thing and die if you went alone, so I had also tried going to several front lines and taking on several roles.

However, the situation was different now because I had accumulated fame. And as expected, some of my allies shook their heads.

[Hahahaha! Sure! Shall we take a look at the capability of Mr. Nameless!?]

"Thank you.

There will be additional team members deployed to the other front lines. So you guys should be able to push the enemy back easily, right?"

We were communicating, but it was impossible to grasp their identities in reality just by listening to their voices since we were hearing the voices of our heroes rather than our real voices.

I bought a bow and arrows. The chat became noisy in no time.

[No, what!? Why did you buy a bow and arrows at level 1? You can only buy 3 arrows with the starting funds! There is no way for a one shot, one kill, and even so, it would only be three kills. Are you really going to stand on the tower to keep the enemies in check while leeching experience? Without making any money?]

Most of them were confused, but I did not mind them.

Puk! Puk! Puk!

[-- has defeated Altear!]

[-- has defeated Sera!]

[-- has defeated Aladdin!]

[-- has defeated Soyoung!]

I just took care of the enemies.

[Ack! What is this! Why is an archer fighting at such a close range?]

[Ugh, f*ck! He is just so slightly out of range that my sword does not reach him! If I, I could fire the sword energy… Damn it, I cannot do anything because I am level 1! At a time like this where the game character is weaker than my real self, how is this possible?]

[This crazy…! He fights in close range, retrieves the arrows, and fires them again??]

[Ugh, I am doomed! The game is exploding! He is already a Skilled Player! He will become a Compléter if this carries on!!]

It was the scene of a massacre, but it did not mean that I had it easy. Everyone started at the same level and there was nothing one could do about numbers.

The reason I had such an advantage was that I maintained [out of the sword's attack range]. If I weren't able to do that, I would inevitably be surrounded and die immediately. No matter how good I was at shooting arrows, normal arrows would become almost useless if the enemy raised the armor tree.

In other words, I was walking on a tightrope.

To overwhelm a large number of people in a game where everyone started at the same starting line, there was no choice but to aim for a high-risk return right from the start.

This attack strategy was great to secure a kill but would also spell demise if you took just one wrong step.

However… Rather than having taken the wrong step and lose my footing, I started to dance on the tightrope and finally soared into the skies.

But was it because I was so wild and arrogant?

[Hey, kill that bastard! It will be trouble if he learns an ultimate sniping skill!]

[Get f*cked! Cross Sword!]

About twenty enemies appeared just as I was about to become a Compléter.

These crazy guys went around the entire jungle and appeared from my rear while suffering under tower fire!

'Damn, I am still a Skilled Player… Huh?'

I was about to raise my bow to take another kill as I thought I was going to die, but I checked my experience.

It was at 98%.

[Fuck, the kill gold is mine!]

[No, it is mine!]

[Die, you bastard!]

Most of the enemies attacking me had raised the armor tree. The dude tanking the tower's damage couldn't attack at all; it was as though that was his duty since he was standing at the back.

'If that is the case…'

I gave up on killing a user and murdered a soldier creep that did not have much HP left.

[--nim has reached the realm of a Compléter!]

An ultimate skill was generated the moment the text appeared. I could pick one among the eight ultimates and I made my selection.

"Ultimate Skill. Arinen's Steps," I whispered as my body became light. I then took a step towards the armored soldier bearing the tower fire instead of his team members. That only took 0.5 seconds.

Puk!

I hit him randomly. He had not much HP left after taking the tower's damage anyway.

[Uck! No!]

[Escap… Kwagh!?]

I then fired an arrow to the feet of the guy right beside; he had become the tower's attack target. The tower got rid of him in my stead.

And then the next one, the next, the next…

No matter how many of them there were, the close-ranged fighters had no solution while I circled around the tower after having learned Arinen's Steps. They started to die successively from being dealt damage by the tower and me.

If there had been at least one of them who had learned an ultimate in the form of tracing or targeting magic, I would have died in an instant, but was there someone with a higher level than me at this moment?

[What is this…]

[Wow, impossible… Did he just kill a creep the moment the enemy showed up from behind, leveled up, and then learned an ultimate skill to kill the armored guy at the back? And then killed all of them by tower hugging?]

[Poise aside, his sense of judgement is way too crazy…]

[Looking like he's dead meat, but will never be dead…]

[How is 1 vs 20 in Blaze Of Storm possible…]

Dumbfounded voices were sweeter than the cheers. Ah ah, playing games tastes good! I should not start enjoying this though...

[You have won!]

Obviously, I won.

I ignored the swiftly scrolling chat wall and ended the game.

"Ugh, how tiring…"

I took off the helmet and lied on my bed. It was hard having to maintain extreme concentration, but it filled me with a sense of fulfillment.

"I really am a genius. Close-range shooting is doable. I would not have had a solution if they became Skilled Player, but I only have to defeat them all before that happens."

The satisfaction of coming up with an idea or strategy and pulling it off successfully could not be expressed with words.

Also, the games on Earth could never match up to the experience of these virtual reality games.

"Uhh, come to think of it, there are no virtual reality games on Earth… Uhh, I do not want to go back to Earth all of a sudden."

When I got here, I hated it so much that all I could think about was how to go back.

But having tasted the sweetness at work and playing virtual reality games… I changed my views.

It wasn't just me.

Dong-min and even Bo-ram did not show signs of wanting to return. It meant that they liked their lives here.

Unlike me, they seemed to want to stay because of things like the library and training center.

However, the important thing was that they had adapted well.

"This place is unexpectedly…" I smirked and mumbled.

"Nice to live, to the point where it makes me uneasy."

In the beginning, I had thoughts like 'Can I really just skip school?', 'Woah, three days have passed', 'Woah, a week has passed', but now, I was starting to harbor thoughts like 'It would be fine to take a year away from school now that things has turned out like this, right?'

"Phew~ I should go to sleep if I want to work tomorrow."

It was already past 4 AM before I knew it, so I stretched out on the bed.

It was at that moment.

Boom------- Kruuuuung---!

"Uwak!?"

The ground shook as if there was an earthquake and everything on the table fell.

However, how could there be an earthquake happening in space?

While I was feeling flustered, an urgent broadcast was transmitted.

[All forces, Level 1 Combat Alert! All forces, Level 1 Combat Alert! This is not a training exercise! I repeat! This is not a training exercise! All forces, Level 1 Combat Alert and await further orders!!]

I was surprised by the broadcast and entered the integrated network to check the emergency notice.

Due to the urgency of the situation, it was a short post but its contents were solemn and grave.

"... Of course." I mumbled unconsciously. I should be surprised and bewildered at the situation, but I let out a sigh.

I did not know the reason, but…

I felt like I had already predicted that things would turn out this way since the moment I boarded this ship.

I read the emergency notice.

[Declaration of war after Tekea Federation's surprise attack!]

"Right, this is my life." I let out a sigh once again.

Yes.

This was war.

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