Chapter 43 - Kidnapping (1)

Even the Tekea Federation, which was appraised to be of the Empire-class, only had two Exa-class Space Carriers, one of them being Great Sky. And the atmosphere at its bridge deck now was utterly desolate. As the size of the resident population numbered in the tens of thousands, there was a considerably high number of crew members working on the bridge. Yet, only extreme stillness filled the surrounding area, as if no one was around.

"It's already been three days since they left to dig for Gallats."

It was about seven days from the time perspective of Earth. The time perspective was different because the rotation cycle of the demi-human's home planet Raide was about twice as long as Earth's.

"I, I'm sorry, Great Sage-nim. This is all because the Iron Hammer Flight Regiment and the Frost Fairy Armored Brigade lost every single battle…"

"Wha-, what are you saying? It's the Operations Division that messed up the battle situation because they couldn't predict that Major General Chun Hyun-il would sneak in when they went to intercept the enemy's Gallats mining team!"

"What, come again?"

The atmosphere became dreadful, but the crew members were just desperately struggling as they desired to live. Morne stared down at them calmly from the Captain's seat, and it sent a chill down their spine even though they only made eye contact with him briefly.

"...It's so noisy."

Originally staring at each other and mumbling among themselves, the demi-humans instantly shut their mouths and bowed.

Morne looked at the screen and murmured loudly, not hiding his killing intent that was flamed with rage.

"Who the hell are those bastards? I didn't receive a report stating that the pilots of the Albatross ship were of such high-standard. There's even a bastard who might be a Gigant Master."

It was a given in the battle that unfolded when the Albatross's crew were ambushed when they were mining for Gallats, but Dae-ha played an active role in the war even after that. Dae-ha entered the battlefield without any pressure, and each time, he dealt away with countless Gigas and fighter jets. In fact, the previous battle involving the mining team would already be considered a lifetime achievement, but instead, since then, he had made even more significant contributions.

"I think it's not those bastards that did it, it's most probably the work of just one person."

"...Just one person?"

It was no wonder Morne found it strange.

At first, Dae-ha got to ride on Napoleon, the highest rank Gigas of the Albatross ship thanks to the courtesy of Major General Chun Hyun-il, but even after that, he continued to switch to different Gigas' and stepped forward to battle. Of course, there were times when he rode Napoleon again because he didn't actually abandon Napoleon or what not, but the Gigas he usually rode were Beast-rank Gigas, which included Thunder Dragon.

"Yes, the Combat Intelligence Analytical Report is accurate. Here's the detailed data."

At the gesture of the Adjutant, various information flowed into Morne's head. It was a considerable amount of data to absorb in one sitting, but Morne, the Arch-Sorcerer, analyzed it in a flash.

"...I see. It's really just one person. His way of fighting, including his habits and methods, and above all, even the soul energy pattern is the same."

Gigas with different Iron Hearts would have different soul energy patterns, but they would also naturally adopt their pilot's soul energy pattern upon synchronization.

In fact, since Gigas were supposed to have two soul energy patterns, technicians from advanced civilizations such as the Tekea Federation would be able to comprehend the opponent's soul energy pattern just by analyzing the battle information.

"His code name is Specter. The Operations Division have determined that it is impossible to take over Albatross without first eliminating him."

"Right. The battle I'm not participating in will definitely lead to a loss, that's why the war can't be fought properly." Morne smiled coldly while baring his fangs.

Dae-ha had thought Morne was a Tyrannosaurus. But if Dae-ha had observed closely, it would be an understatement to categorize Morne as just a dinosaur.

Unlike commonly known dinosaurs, Morne had developed arms with four intricate fingers, and though he had a tail, he possessed a developed skeletal frame that allowed him to stand upright. He also had sharp claws that could be retracted and extended at will just like that of a cat's. If dinosaurs, which once dominated the entire planet, had successfully evolved without going into extinction, they would have been able to reach the evolved state of how Morne was.

Moreover, the dinosaur tribe had superior intelligence that didn't match up to their large physique, and they were born with outstanding soul capabilities, allowing them to easily master any supernatural abilities. They might not be comparable to the Noblesse, a transcendental species referred to as the aristocrat of the Universe, but they had the greatest influence among the demi-humans because they were a species of considerable strength.

"We need to request for backup from our home planet. We'll definitely not lose, but on the off chance that they successfully escape and contact the Union…"

"That's right, that'll be a predicament. We're talking about the bitchy Union that makes a fuss over using just a little equipment. Who knows, maybe even people from the War Dragon Unit or the Fairyland will step in."

The Union governed over the Great Universe and were split into two factions - the Noblesse and Elohim.

Even if the Tekea Federation had the strength of an Empire-class, the difference in power was so overwhelming that if the Union decided to interfere, any proper defiance wouldn't even be possible. Only total annihilation would be left waiting. The Union didn't have the least bit of interest in the war between the Leonhardt Empire and the Tekea Federation. However, if the Union heard of the news that the Tekea Federation had deployed the Legion in their battles, the Union might interfere and forcefully enforce their laws. So, their usage of Legion must be kept a secret from the Union.

"Then should we go ahead and request for backup? Just in case, we need to conceal this from the eyes of the Leonhardt Imperial Army."

"...That's right. It hurts my pride a little, but I think I'd rather take that over any unforeseen situations happening. Make preparations."

"Yes, Great Sage-nim."

The Adjutant let out a sigh of relief at the fact that Morne was calm for the first time in a very long while, and stepped back.

Morne was someone who would kill even his subordinates without batting an eye in his moment of agitation. Perhaps, because Morne had just mediated for the purpose of cultivation, he didn't vent out his anger.

"Oh, by the way."

However, before the Adjutant was about to step away, he froze at Morne's sudden words. Fear was rising in the Adjutant's heart as he was worried that Morne might vent out his anger eventually after all.

But fortunately for him, Morne asked without any changes in his expression.

"Why is that Specter guy constantly changing the Gigas he rides on?"

* * *

Napoleon maintained silence for a while and asked carefully as I got aboard.

That, to-, how are you today?

"Wait a bit," I casually cut Napoleon off and started the synchronization process.

Wiiiiingggg---!!

The synchronization was completed and I operated the Iron Heart. As always, I checked the Ability I had today.

<Conservation>

<Repair>

<Light-speed Swordsman>

<Flash>

It was some normal Abilities in overall, but it was pretty good.

<Conservation> reduced the amount of soul energy consumed during the use of Ability or weapons. <Flash> could be used for attack and escaping. And above all, <Light-speed Swordsman> was an offensive Ability.

However, <Repair> was useless because it was an inferior version of <The Undying Emperor>. Nonetheless, there was a great combination of both offense and evasion Abilities. It would have been perfect if <Repair> had been a defensive or survival Ability, but I nodded because I know it would just be greedy of me to hope for something better.

"Good."

Phew…

I laughed as Napoleon breathed a sigh of relief.

If I asked him "Why are you acting like this?", it would be because I often left him on standby and rode on other Gigas. Napoleon described it to be along the lines of hurting his pride, but for me, it was something inevitable.

I was actually really jubilated at the fact that I could ride on a Human-rank Gigas and step into the battlefield. However, from my point of view, I couldn't ride on Napoleon if neither him nor I had a single offensive Ability, which would spell great suffering. Because of this, I would ride on Napoleon everyday to check the Ability of the day, and I could only go to the battlefield with Napoleon if there was an offensive Ability among my Inherent Abilities.

If I didn't have any offensive Ability, I would use Ares' King of All Armaments to remotely control Tool-rank Gigas that belonged to others and fight in that manner. In actual fact, it was easier to ride a Gigas personally. But in my case, I didn't have a choice as I was trying to keep my personal information a secret.

'By the way, strangely, it didn't take a toll on my mental health.'

Though it was for the sake of living, I killed countless enemies with my hands. But, even so... I didn't suffer any mental trauma in particular. I didn't go crazy, nor did my head go haywire.

I was fine. No, beyond that, I looked at everything from an absolute and objective perspective. Even when my life was in danger, I calmly made decisions and moved accordingly. Of course, the same was true when I was playing The Great War. But at the very least, wasn't the situation totally different now that my life was really at stake?

'How is this possible?'

Needless to say, it was true that I had a high level of mental finesse because of the mind-breaking nightmares that I saw from my memory.

However, even so... I used to be a scaredy-cat whenever there were dangerous situations and agonized over my own existence. I didn't always possess such a steel-like mentality like now. In reality, haven't I had a mental breakdown because of my classmate, Kyung-eun's title, Human Hunter?

However, right now, I killed the enemies with indifference, and I wasn't particularly distressed even when my life was in danger. Even if I was worried about a dangerous situation, I didn't feel fear.

'When did it start to be this way?' I pondered.

But then, the alarm went off and started ringing.

Partner, there's a message.

"Hmm? That's Hye-ran. Put me down, Napoleon."

Got it.

In an instant, the synchronization with his Iron Heart dissipated, and Napoleon's front armor opened.

Certainly, it was a considerable distance from Napoleon's chest to the floor, as he was 10.5 meters tall, but Napoleon skillfully held my body and put me on the ground. Although he was a huge robot, he was meticulous enough to be able to even grab eggs, so I wasn't the least bit worried about getting injured from his touch.

"What's going on?"

"Oh, erm. It's because of Na-rae's military trial."

I replied with a question at the unexpected remark, "Na-rae? And who might that be? And also, what military trial?"

I couldn't understand why we were talking about military trials when I wasn't even a Judicial Officer. Moreover, Hye-ran was quite cautious as she spoke, which was very much unlike her usual self. Her skills were indisputable, but it was extremely rare for someone like her to act this way since she always acted however she wanted to the point that it felt like she didn't have any common sense at times.

"Hmm. Will you know if I say it's Black Wildcat…?"

"Ahaaaa."

Black Wildcat was the Gigas who ignored my orders when I already took over command in the battle, and chased after the half-destroyed enemies.

Well, the battle ended well with a victory anyways, so all I did was smack the machine lightly on the head. To think I would hear about Black Wildcat again, one week later.

"Wow, don't tell me he's being punished for that after all this while?"

"It's not after all this while, it has been ongoing since the beginning. It's a relief that it didn't lead to any severe consequence, but even so, she can't avoid disciplinary action. She's currently on trial for insubordination and I need your opinion for the final proceeding."

"My opinion?"

"Yes. You were the commanding officer and you were the one that was implicated, so you can also request for an increase in the punishment or, in some cases, agree to a mutual consensus."

"Oh, a mutual consensus is possible in martial law too, I see."

I nodded at the fact that I didn't know beforehand.

'Then I'll just let it slide.'

At that time, I was enraged because my life was at stake, but when I thought about it calmly, it was not as if I couldn't understand his stance.

I was a rock that rolled in unannounced - never been heard of or seen. And they were veterans who had been living on the battlefield for a long time. So even if I had given them the right commands, they wouldn't have been able to follow it dutifully.

He definitely felt like a troll, but despite that, he was actually quite cute. Besides, it wasn't as if he did it purposely, he just made a mistake while trying his very best. More than anything else, chasing after free-kills was mankind's natural instinct.

"Excuse me... do you have any thoughts of reaching a mutual consensus?" Hye-ran stealthily asked.

And in an instant, her expression and attitude spurred another question from me.

In the first place, why was Hye-ran here instead of that Black Wildcat, and why was she personally conveying these information to me? And why was she so cautious?

It was a pretty iffy question, but I figured out the situation in an instant since I was quick at catching on.

"Ahhh, I see…"

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