Chapter 16

‘Is it dangerous?’

He was starting to piece things together mentally. His body was moving faster than his thoughts. He stamped down hard on the ground and jumped towards the Alpins.

It felt like he jumped off a trampoline. With his right foot, San stepped on the front Alpins head and felt the head crack open like a watermelon. The sensory feeling felt too light for any serious damage, but he decided to continue forward with the momentum from the first attack.

With calculative eyes, he envisioned what he needed to do. He didn’t think he had enough time. In mid-air, San twisted his waist and turned. He flew forward like a screw, revolving around his body’s axis.

While revolving, he threw his rifle and the attached bayonet towards the rightmost Alpin. He threw the rifle like a bowling ball, grabbing the butt of the rifle with one hand and making a tossing motion from below his waist to above his shoulders. The bayonet pierced through the air like a spear.

The bayonet cut through Alpin’s torso and went clear through to the opposite side. The butt of the rifle caught onto the Alpin’s body, causing the Alpin to move with the rifle and become stuck onto the pit wall.

San didn’t even give that Alpin a second look. As soon as he threw the rifle, he positioned himself to throw a left hook onto the leftmost Alpin. He felt the leathery back of the Alpin as he made contact with his fist.

The Alpin’s back was a hard, leathery surface that had small pieces of sharp rock and pebbles jutting out. However, his fist went right through the leathery skin, cracking the Alpin’s spine and continuing into its inner organs.

Realizing that he went through a hard surface so easily, San momentarily paused his movement. The Alpin’s body was hanging on San’s shoulders, as his arm was clear through the torso. He shook off the mutilated body, causing the body to be thrown to the ground. The body rolled on the ground and then exploded into pieces once it hit the pit wall.

“These little fuckers. You won’t know who you’re messing with unless I grind you guys into dust.”

Biyeon opened her eyes. The danger that was present just a moment ago disappeared in an instant. She saw San. She clearly heard his conscious voice. She was happy to the point of tears to see his face. Without any strength left in her legs, she collapsed onto the ground.

Her chest felt blocked as she started releasing the tears that she was holding back.

With a fierce expression, San looked around his surroundings. It seemed like all the intruders were taken care of. Among all the Alpin, there was no longer a single one standing.

However, his world started to spin once more. The pain that he momentarily escaped from rushed back like a tsunami. He screamed out in pain. He couldn’t even recognize the words or sounds that were coming out of his mouth. It seemed like part crying and part laughing.

During this period of pain, he had a chance to glance at Biyeon and give her a nod. Though he was consumed with pain, he couldn’t help but chuckle.

“It’s good that… huk-huk- that we’re alive… good… good job… hahaha-”

He collapsed onto the floor. With his head against the floor, he started grinding his teeth and breathing heavily. He put both of his fists against the floor and started pushing himself up.

San still had a battle broiling from within. His mind wouldn’t allow him to pass out, forcing him to go through the excruciating pain with full consciousness. He was still fighting on.

Episode 1. Book 2: Unravelling – Chapter 10

A white hand started moving. The hand was moving towards a viewing screen. The screen was three dimensional. At first glance, it seemed as though the hand was moving something like a clear cell wall and interacting with the various parts within.

Various windows started scrolling past at tremendous speeds. The three dimensional screen looked like poker cards being shuffled, with images bending and then flattening within the screen’s space. Each screen showed a battle between a human and beast species.

The hand that was quickly flipping through the various images and videos stopped abruptly. On one screen was a summoned human that was about to commit suicide.

The hand reached out to the image. The hand grabbed the summoned human by the neck and lifted him up. The summoned human kicked the air and screamed at the unknown power grabbing ahold of him. Information on the summoned human started populating on the screen. Another hand reached out and touched something in the darkness. The message ‘Mind Mode On’ flashed across the screen. The summoned human’s cry echoed out.

“Just kill me!”

The hand briefly paused above the summoned human before coming down. The summoned human was squashed and splattered like an insect.

The hand moved towards another screen before pausing again. The title on top of this screen stated 27 Pian. The hand started typing something mid-air. Once the hand tapped a point on the screen, the screen image started to elongate, creating a three dimensional representation of the screen’s scene.

“You guys lived? They must have a strong will to live. Null, how many of the summoned survived the first phase this time around?” The questioning voice was from a female.

“There were a total of 50 experimental spaces. 78 out of the 100 summoned died. So, the death rate is 78%. The will to live was fairly high for this batch. The main cause of death was from poisoning. The Alpin’s toxic poison is fairly effective. It also does the least damage to the mind and body,” a male voice, the one called Null, replied.

“Yeah, they need to die quicker for us to get our job done on time. What’s the breakdown?”

“16 pairings from Episode 313, 18 pairings from Episode 125, 10 pairings from Episode 278, and 6 pairings from Episode 285.”

“Episode 285? How… how were they summoned?”

“What do you mean how? It was the Master’s will.”

“Those two are from Episode 285 then, right?”

“Yeah. They’re not exhibiting anything special right now, but we’ll have to give them some extra attention. You know how special Episode 285 is for the Master.”

“Since they’re done with this phase, we should give them some nectar. I heard that we’re handing out some high concentration nectar this time around?”

“We’re going to start them off with a 50% concentration.”

“That much? Hmm- they really lucked out. But why was the concentration increased suddenly? Has nectar production increased recently?”

“No, it’s more that our clients are asking for results. It can’t be helped since we’re trying to increase the success rate. That probably also means that we’re getting closer to what we want.”

“Alright! The basic research information and data is coming in for the summoned who died. Let’s start the analysis. Start putting the remaining summoned into scenarios that fit their relative qualities. We’ll also need to calculate the amount of nectar and salt needed for distribution. Make sure to be careful when individually assessing the qualities of each summoned. Separate the ones who are exhibiting special qualities. We’re now entering the main phase of the experiment.”

After conferring with each other, Nil and Null continued on their individual tasks. On the 27 Pian screen, a species with white wings was swooping down while carrying some packages for delivery.

***

San opened his eyes. He was lying face-down on the ground. He was starting to recognize the smell of the ground and scent of this places. It smelled like a mix of fresh earth with semi-dried grass. He didn’t want to move his body. His body felt heavy and tired. This should be the perfect setting to fall asleep, but his mind was crystal clear and fully alert.

He turned his head to the side. He saw the familiar pit wall. He could also make out the bright, reddish light from the sun coming through the bottom of the pit door. He was still within the pit.

The pit seemed clean and tidy. It was as if he had been dreaming. The pain that seemed to never end, and the overflowing anger that followed… He also recalled screaming and crying out loud... as an adult male…

“It seems your pain subsided?”

A quiet voice seemed to waft in the stillness. It was a tender female voice. He felt relieved and happy to hear this voice.

“How much time has passed?” asked San without turning his head.

“Around three hours.”

“Okay, okay… around three hours…”

Biyeon quietly smiled. She now felt that they’d overcome their trial and survived. She felt strength when hearing his voice. She sat next to him, cleaned the blood, and tended to the wounds on his back.

San continued lying on the ground. He reached out toward his shoulder pocket and took out a pack of cigarettes. He took a cigarette out and put it between his lips. 

His eyes fell onto his hands. The glove on his hand was completely destroyed and his hands were in a mangled state. The leather was ripped to shreds and the portion covering the palm was ripped by deep cuts. The horizontal and vertical gashes on his hands were caked with blood and already starting to form scabs. He could still feel the numbing waves of pain.

With a ‘Chal-kak’ sound, a lighter’s flame came in front of San’s view. He raised his head for a moment but then put the end of the cigarette onto the flame. He then looked at the hand that brought the flame. It was a white and supple hand. Though it looked soft and refined, he could still make out streaks of purple blood that hadn’t been washed off yet.

His eyes followed the retreating hand up toward the owner of the hand. After looking at her face, he started smiling. It was a smile imbued with trust.

“It’s good to see that you’re getting and feeling better,” she said while smiling.

“Yeah, we really handed it to them. We found a way to survive thanks to you Lieutenant Kim.”

Biyeon didn’t reply but just smiled.

“Thanks,” San said.

After the brief conversation, San turned his head forward. He slowly let out a deep breath of cigarette smoke. It now felt like reality. His body and mind went through a hellish, indescribable torment during the two hours of battle. He had to contend against the poison in his body, but he also had to battle his mind and body to get used to the acceleration and its aftereffects.

It was a gamble, but there was no other answer. The gamble paid off, opening up some new possibilities.

He took another long drag on his cigarette. It was a battle without regret. He felt satisfied with his actions and the result. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to be trapped in a corner. With no other option but to ‘Accelerate’, he was able to push the limits of this ‘Acceleration’ skill.

‘That last part was especially memorable and overbearing.’

“How is your body?” Biyeon quietly asked. 

She carefully looked at his expression. His back, which was filled with wounds from the needles being pulled out earlier, was already starting to heal. His speed of healing was surprisingly fast.

Biyeon felt comfort and happiness from his reliable presence. Even the cigarette smoke that she detested smelled savory when she breathed in the wafting smoke. If only something could be done about the smell of fishy blood within this narrow, confined pit…

“Good. Very good. We’ll need to start experimenting and training, but I think we’ve stumbled onto a present.”

“A present?”

“I think I’ve found a way to get rid of the pain. I should get up.”

After replying to her, he stubbed the cigarette on the floor and raised himself up. He could feel his muscles crying throughout his body, but it wasn’t enough for him to stop.

“I’ve decided that I’m willing to do anything to increase our chances of survival,” San stated matter of factly.

San and Biyeon walked outside the pit together. Their eyes opened wide. An unexpected guest was standing in front of them. It was the ‘Hawk’ that Biyeon was tasked to meet with.

The Hawk stared at them. It had a large sack, larger than the Hawk itself, over its shoulder.

The Hawk looked comical, as its refined appearance was juxtaposed against the abnormally large sack. The Hawk was about 1 meter tall. It only came up to their waists, but its wingspan seemed to be longer than an adult’s height.

With an inquisitive expression, San approached the Hawk, which had its wings at its side, silver hair, and a refined, ethereal appearance.

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