Chapter 222. 20F (2)


Spacecraft A7102.
I wasn’t sure what its official name was; nevertheless, I boarded the spacecraft with the said name along with my comrades. Horner asked me if I knew how to pilot, and I nodded with confidence.
I never learned how to drive anything like it, but I had a technique called [Lv.6 Driving]—the maximum level of techniques was 10— so I could drive all kinds of vehicles with ease. But even without it, I could become one with any machine using my special skill [Algorithm].

“If you are unaccustomed to flying, I’ll have someone accompany you.”

“No, I’m okay. …Scan.”

I whispered and checked the percentage.
[43]
43% consolidation.
My Gifts were mostly restored at this point. Once I cleared the 20th floor, my abilities inside and outside the Tower would be in sync.

[Lv.5 Yggdrasil’s Blessing engulfs ‘Lv.8 A7102’ warmly.]

I even applied a blessing using the [Lv.5 Yggdrasil Leaf] to the enhanced spaceship. This was the so-called ‘2-stage consolidation’.

“Oh… This is…?”

Horner seemed half-confused and half-surprised at the spaceship’s sudden change.

“See? I’m good at anything that has to do with machines, so you don’t have to worry about me. You can focus on saving humanity or whatever it is that you wanted to do.”

“Yes, I understand.”

Horner left relieved as I sat on the driver’s seat.
I looked around, trying to figure out what I should do next, and then grabbed the yoke—the control wheel of the spaceship. Simultaneously, Aether flowed out from me. Aether moved like a tentacle and wrapped itself around the yoke, then spread throughout the spacecraft, connecting my body to the machine in an instant.

[Aether has been connected to the spacecraft.]
[Algorithm activated. Performance and efficiency improved by 40%.]
[‘Lv.8 A7192’ will now move according to your will.]

At the same time, my eyes widened. The image projected upon my retina changed. What lay ahead was the endless darkness of space occupied by faint specks of light.
I shouted in sync with the spaceship.

“We’re taking off.”

The trio, who had been looking around the spaceship, shuddered.

“H-Hajin. You sure you know how to handle this~?”

“Of course.”

“Hey. Hey. Um, you know, that dude who just left. Who was he again?”

I briefly answered Cheok Jungyeong's question.

“Horner.”

“Yes, him. Can’t we just ask him to do this?”

“No.”

I refused flatly and started the engine.
Shoooong….
The spacecraft was immediately launched from the hangar. The fuel erupted explosively from the lower section of the ship, and the energy from the eruption was extremely intense. Yet, unlike the outside, the inside of the ship was silent.
This was to be expected.
Currently, 3 types of reinforcements had been applied to this spacecraft.
My Gift: Random Consolidation System, my skill: Algorithm, and my item: Yggdrasil Leaf.
It had no doubt that it was stronger than most battleships.

“…Wow. Look outside~”

Once the shuttle entered the main orbit, the trio regained their calm. They looked out of the window of the spaceship.
An unrelentingly vast celestial body lay before our eyes.

“Oh… That circular thing over there is the 16th floor? This is cool.”

“You’re right. The land is shaped differently. It’s definitely different from Earth.”

“Ooh~ So beautiful~”

Cheok Jungyeong, Jin Yohan, and Jain stood side by side and expressed their admiration.
Suddenly, I asked.

“That’s right, Jain, how are things in Prestige?”

“Prestige~?”

The click-clack sound of Jain’s footsteps over the tiles of the spaceship resounded clearly. Jain sat right next to me in the passenger seat and continued.

“It’s basically a metropolis~”

“Ah, really?”

“Yup. There are pubs, restaurants, buildings, shopping malls, and other stuff. I heard there’s a Player who’s raising livestock there. They’re also in the process of driving the demons out~”

If that were true, then it was more than enough. The overwhelming progress couldn’t even be compared to the original story. If this was the original story, by now, everything other than the residential area would have been destroyed, and Prestige would have become the land of the dead.

—A hostile presence has appeared ahead.

Suddenly, the mechanical voice of the spaceship issued a warning. What looked like fruit flies at first glance were flying at us. They were not spaceships but ‘gargoyles’, monsters controlled by demons.

“Huh? What’s that?”

“Don’t worry about them.”

This was an event that occasionally popped up… I took out the ship’s hidden weapon. I didn’t know whether it was a laser, a cannon, or a machine gun. Whatever it was, the gargoyles were completely annihilated only after a few shots.

“Oh, they were nothing~”

“Yep.”

As expected, even a basic vehicle could become very strong after mountains of reinforcements.

After that, we chatted with each other and admired the view of the Tower’s Void as we slowly headed to the 16th floor.
[Genkelope Zone], a circular disc shaped planet, was different from the Earth in that it was flat all around and that its soil was orange. I would imagine flattened Mars to look just like it.

Shuuuu….

The spaceship moved swiftly and landed on a remote corner of Genkelope.

[16F — Demon Realm Colony, Genkelope]
[‘Team Chameleon Troupe’ has entered the 16th floor for the first time.]
[The reward for the first entry is the ‘Special Skill Acquisition Book — Lv.2 Atmospheric Whirlpool’.]

The door of the spaceship opened, and together we got off and set foot on Genkelope.

“….”

We were silent for a moment.
We stared ahead blankly, overwhelmed by the coercive scenery.
Cheok Jungyeong was the one who broke the silence.

“Well, this is one hell of a scenery.”

Just as he said, the scenery on the 16th floor was frightening. To start with, the towers in the distance were not so much buildings as they were living things with beating pulses, and the tree right in front of us had a disgusting looking eye embedded in its trunk.

“Ugh, so creepy.”

Jain shuddered at the grotesque view.

“You don’t mean to say we have to clean up everything here~? Right, Hajin~?”

“Right. It’ll take us at least 5 years to clean this place up completely.”

The 16th floor was very different from [5F, Materialized Demon Realm]. There, demons at least looked like humans, but here, we were up against monsters in the literal sense of the word.
Cheok Jungeyong asked impatiently.

“…So what exactly do we have to do to go up?”

“Ask the system.”

How can we reach the 17th floor?
I asked the system first.
This was what the reply said.

[Each demon on the 16th floor carries a ‘random map piece’ with them. Defeat them to collect those pieces, and put the pieces back together to form a map which shows the location of the tunnel that leads to the 17th floor.]

**


[15F, Genkelope’s Abandoned Vessel]

“…Tsk. So even you guys don’t know when he’ll come back?”

Medea frowned viciously. Her voice and body language were full of discontent.

“Yes. He left without any promise of return.”

Still Horner answered calmly even in the presence of administrators. Medea glared at Horner. Horner politely endured her gaze.
It wasn’t long before Medea heaved a deep sigh.

“Damn it, it’s just one thing after the other. I’m so annoyed….”

Athena flinched at her swearing. She laid her hands on Medea’s shoulder, which was shaking in irritation.

“You, watch your profanity.”

“Well. You’re in the same situation as me.”

“I can wait.”

“Oh, really~? I feel like it was just yesterday that you refused to even talk to me because of your so-called divinity or divine state of existence, but now you’re willing to wait for a mere human~? Oh, how much you’ve changed!”

Medea taunted with all her might. Athena clenched her teeth but stayed put. She was also embarrassed by her past arrogant self, who couldn’t give up on her divinity. Athena’s unresponsiveness brought Medea back to her senses.

“…Sorry. I’ve been chasing after him for 2 months. Try to understand.”

“It’s fine.”

“Anyways… you guys.”

Medea pointed her fingers at Horner and Erenner. She wanted to punish the cocky pair for keeping their eyes wide open in the presence of administrators, but Medea held her tongue just in case. If by any chance Extra7 was fond of these NPCs, then harming them would only make him despise her.

“…We can stay here until Extra7 comes back, right?”

“Yes, we don’t mind, but—“

“We don’t mind either. Surely you heard this austere administrator Athena say she would wait for him?”

“…It’s as she said.”

Athena also nodded.
Hearing this, Horner welcomed them. Rather, the word ‘welcome’ wasn’t even enough. The mere existence of administrators would keep alien creatures away from Area 3.

“Then, I’ll show you to the best rooms in Area 3.”

Horner led the two to the most luxurious rooms they had.

**


…Team Chameleon Troupe began to climb the Tower seriously.
Day 1 and day 2.
The enemies on the 16th floor were all bizarre in their appearances. There was one that looked like a lighthouse and another that looked like a water strider, a mantis, and a deep sea fish. We defeated those demons and put the map pieces back together.

Day 3 to day 6.
We consulted the map and arrived at the tunnel. It was then that we realized that the tunnel itself was [the 17th floor]. We advanced through the tunnel.
The goal of the 17th floor was to dig through the clogged tunnel ourselves. The inside was filled with countless monsters and demons who were all pretty competent, but my comrades were more monster than them, so we easily overpowered them.

Day 6 to day 8.
We dug through the tunnel and arrived on the 18th floor.
The 18th floor was a dense forest of the Demon Realm. As even a simple misstep would make us lose our way for all eternity in the Demon Realm’s illusions, I performed my best as the group’s pathfinder. I led my comrades with experience and familiarity.

Day 8 to day 10.
We escaped the woods in just two days and arrived on the 19th floor. We could tell we were going deeper and deeper into the Demon Realm….
…(Omitted)
…Just like that, we cleared the 16th~19th floors in a total of 2 weeks. Afterwards, I momentarily returned to Crevon as I had received notifications that the calamities were raging once again.

In disaster-stricken Crevon, I lived up to Fenrir's reputation for the first time in a while. I spent half of the 2000 bullets I had collected thus far, destroying more than two thousand monsters with them.
The combination of [Random Consolidation System], [Algorithm], and [Aether] changed my gun to something that transcended a gun. The precise aim of the assault rifle annihilated the endless wave of monsters, and the name ‘Fenrir’ was once again exalted among the Players.
The said reputation was worth 350SP and 100,000TP.

And finally, today.

[20F The Hollow of Ordeal - Doppelgänger]

I was once again back on the 20th floor.
The 20th floor was remarkably different from the 16~19th floor, which were huge and extensive.
It was a hollow cave filled with several small rooms, each with a nameplate that had the word ‘conquer’ written across it.

“Oh, so you’re saying that in this room, there's another guy just like me?”

Cheok Jungyeong was only half correct.
As was evident from the name of the 20th floor, a doppelgänger would be waiting for each Player beyond the door. The goal was, of course, to fight and win. The task was nothing short of a coming-of-age cliché, both simple and complex at the same time.

“But before we go in, how are we gonna split the skillbooks?”

Cheok Jungyeong asked, smacking his lips.
Incidentally, we were waiting for Boss to join us on the 20th floor. We cleared each floor not as separate individuals but as a team, so she could come to where we were if she wanted to.

“How many skillbooks are there?”

“Nine. Six are special skills, two are unique skills, and one is an ultimate skill.”

“Hmm… Then if there’s anything you want, divide them among yourselves.”

“Yeah? Then I’ll take this and this.”

Cheok Jungyeong chose a unique skillbook and a special skillbook. Jain followed; she chose a special skillbook and the only ultimate skillbook, while Jin Yohan chose the remaining unique skillbook and a special skillbook. I didn’t know what they were exactly, but most of them were passive skills related to magic power or physical strength.

“Get ready if you’re finished.”

Woong

At that moment, the crystal stele in the center of the 20th floor resonated. The crystal stele shook the cave and soon spat out a beauty.
It was Boss, with her long dark hair out loose and her eyes shut.

“Oh, Boss. You’re here.”

“Boss~ I missed you~”

“…”

Boss examined us one by one in silence. Cheok Jungyeong, Jin Yohan, Jain… and me.
I thought I saw her shoulder tremble slightly when she looked at me, but I was probably mistaken.
Boss nodded.

“ So this is the 20th floor?”

“Yes, this is the 20th floor.”

“You climbed a lot in such a short period of time.”

I gave a small smile. Personally, I was curious what Boss had been doing for the last two weeks, but I decided not to dig into it.

“A week would have been enough if you were around. Well then, shall we go?”

I said as I disbanded the party.

[Team Chameleon Troupe has been disbanded.]
[You may challenge the 20th floor only as an individual.]

We then stood in front of a door. Although there were ten doors, they all had the same function. The number was only there to limit the number of Players who could take this trial at the same time.
Out of the ten doors, Cheok Jungyeong took the last one, Jin Yohan was next to him, and Jain was in the middle.
Boss wandered around aimlessly before she hesitantly stood next to me.

“Be careful. Just remember that the doppelgängers aren’t very experienced with skills while we are.”

“Okay.”

“See you alive—!”

With Cheok Jungyeong’s loud yell, I grabbed the doorknob.
Kiiik—
I opened the door slowly amidst the heart-tightening tension.
This was the real deal. The doppelgängers were only the first in the series of challenges on the 20th floor. This was a test, and things would only get more and more difficult from here….

[Warning! Please be extra careful!]
[From the 20th floor, death will be eternal!]
[You only have one life!]

“…What?”

‘The heck is this?’
I glared at the system but realized that this was real when the smart watch vibrated a moment.

“Haa….”

I felt shitty, but I was used to this kind of situation. A rewritten setting wouldn’t be changed back no matter how much I complained. At least I could resurrect up to 2 times thanks to my unique skill.
…I was more worried about the others than myself.
Anyhow, I stepped into the hollow space and closed the door.
I looked at the man who had suddenly appeared. He was staring into space with his back turned against me.
His appearance from behind looked like mine.
No, he was me.

“…Hi.”

He turned halfway around. His sideways appearance was unfamiliar. The face I had only seen in mirrors up until now was standing there. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too ugly. My body looked quite sturdy, too.

“What’s up?”

I shrugged my shoulder.
But the other me responded in an unexpected way.

—Who are you?

Who are you.
I frowned at the somewhat stern remark.
Was that really what I sounded like? The doppelgänger was supposed to imitate my way of talking, way of acting, and even my habits.
Was this also another changed setting?
I spoke to my doppelgänger.

“Who am I? You should already know. After all, you’re me, and I’m you.”

—….

The other me didn’t answer. He looked at me with an expression that I would never wear.
Only then did I feel a sense of uneasiness.
Something was wrong.
I wasn’t the type to be so serious.
…Don’t tell me.
Suddenly, a terrifying thought crossed my mind.

“Hey.”

—….

The other me didn’t answer.
Firmly sealed lips, gloomy eyes filled with determination, and a frown that made his eyes appear even sharper. All of these characteristics combined gave off a somber, melancholic vibe.
As I looked at him, my head slowly started to hurt.
We were both silent.
Time flowed in stillness while a dark fog surrounded me. The unsettling suspicion became a clear intuition which overtook my entire body.
The other me asked only after a long time.

You are me?

Hearing this question that questioned the fundamental existence of my being, I was convinced of my intuition.
The doppelgänger, too, must have realized this.
That we could be ‘different people’.
I firmly clenched my teeth.

“You….”

Uneasiness ascended like a puff of smoke as I agonized over whether or not to ask this question.
But I had no choice but to ask.
Because he was the only person who could prove and define who ‘I’ was in this world.

“What’s your name?”

The doppelgänger didn’t answer and only stared at me. I was reflected in his eyes. He and I looked exactly alike.

“I said, what’s your name?”

I asked again.
The doppelgänger let out a small of sigh.
Then he spoke of a familiar name.

—Kim Chundong.

“…What?”

—My name is… Kim Chundong.

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