Side Story 39. IF: Parasite’s Fourth Army Commander

Parasite’s camp.

The heart of the Empire was filled with an inexplicable air of tension.

In the grand hall, six Army Commanders were gathered together, waiting. Even the Parasite Queen, sitting on the Corrupted Throne, was excitedly looking back and forth between the ceiling and the wall behind her.

Guoooooooo!

Powerful, boundless energy was swirling and pulsating beyond the wall. The Parasite Queen’s pupils surged with hope as she gazed in that direction.

She still could not forget what happened a few days ago.

[Gula and humanity have betrayed me!]

An injured star came to the Parasites’ territory out of the blue and expressed his desire to defect. The incident, which would forever overturn the tide of Paradise, came all too suddenly.

The Parasite Queen accepted him with all sorts of preferential treatment, but she still had trouble believing such a thing happened.

The Army Commanders voiced their opinions, suggesting they needed to capture or kill him using this opportunity.

After much deliberation, the Parasite Queen set a few conditions. The star accepted them all without the slightest hesitation.

That convinced the Parasite Queen. The star’s wrath was real!

On the other hand, she looked down upon the opposite camp. Such a powerful star choosing to defect was not a simple matter. It could not be explained by merely calling the Parasites lucky.

Although the Queen pulled some strings in the shadows, never in her wildest imaginations did she think her schemes would be so effective.

In any case, the important thing was that the Parasites now had the ultimate trump card that could mold the future to their liking. In fact, the trump card had fallen into their lap of its own accord!

With this, the Parasites’ victory was all but guaranteed.

The grand hall was dead silent. The Parasite Queen tilted her head up again. Dark clouds were swirling above the Empire’s sky at a frightening rate. Soon, as their speed was reaching the apex...

[It is time.]

The Parasite Queen spoke quietly. Her voice trembled. It couldn’t be helped. The Parasite Queen had bestowed the defector with the divinity of Temperance. Not only that, but she also made considerable effort to turn him into a parasite personally.

The result was now in her grasp. The missing seat of the Fourth Army Commander would be filled.

It was then. The swirling clouds, which seemed ready to ravage the sky, abruptly stopped. At the same time, they dissipated in all directions as if to alert the birth of a new being.

The grand hall was already silent, but now an even heavier silence descended. As the silence continued for a frighteningly long time...

KWANG!

With an explosive sound, one wall of the grand hall crumbled down. The six Army Commanders all furrowed their brows and raised their guards. The energy emanating from the other side of the wall was enough to make their bodies tremble.

“No… no way…!”

Vulgar Chastity exclaimed in a fright.

“This is… surprising.”

Twisted Kindness raised her eyebrow and stared straight.

“I knew he’d digest it all.”

Sung Shihyun laughed and nodded approvingly. He continued.

“He’s the same as me, after all.”

Soon, the commotion died down. One man staggered out from the smoke created by the explosion. The man, slowly raising his head, was none other than Seol Jihu.

Right, it was the war hero who exterminated Undying Diligence, led the Tigol Fortress war to victory, and stopped the Parasites’ winning move multiple times.

That was the man who defected to the Parasites’ camp.

[Truly incredible.]

Sensing the surrounding energy slowly subside, the Parasite Queen exclaimed in surprise.

[Not only did you fully absorb Temperance’s divinity, but you can already control it to this extent…. Not even Twisted Kindness and Sung Shihyun managed to achieve this!]

[I’m truly proud, O’ Fourth Army Commander, who inherited the will of Temperance!]

Just like that, Seol Jihu crossed the Rubicon. Knowing this fully well, the Parasite Queen could not be happier.

[So, how do you feel? Anything is fine. Just give your honest opinion.]

The Parasite Queen urged Seol Jihu to speak. However, Seol Jihu did not say anything. He had a dazed expression as if he himself could not believe things turned out this way. The way he stared at the six Army Commanders with his eyes half-closed, he seemed to be half-asleep as well.

[Speak.]

Did something go wrong in the process of absorbing the divinity? Worried, the Parasite Queen urged again.

“Impertinent!”

Exploding Patience pointed at him.

“Her Majesty has personally commanded you to speak, yet you dare to disobey her!? Speak right this instant!”

As Exploding Patience normally detested humans and came to hate them even more due to Sung Shihyun, she did not see the quiet Seol Jihu favorably.

“....”

Seol Jihu stared at Exploding Patience before turning to the side. He flashed his eyes after seeing an existence looking at him curiously.

“...Hmm?”

Feeling his gaze, Twisted Kindness tilted her head. It was then. Whish! Seol Jihu suddenly shot forward like a bolt of lightning.

‘Shoot!’

By the time she processed what was happening, it was already too late. Perhaps because he had absorbed a divinity, his speed was incomparable to before. Twisted Kindness’ momentary carelessness would cost her.

‘Was this what he was aiming for…!?’

Just as she thought so… Puk! She felt something crushing down on her chest. It wasn’t a blade stabbing into her or digging into her divinity.

Twisted Kindness, who instinctively raised her arm, lowered her gaze. She saw Seol Jihu’s arms and legs coiling around her body, and his face buried deep between her breasts. She wondered if he was planning to self-destruct, but he only rubbed his face without caring for anything else.

Flustered, Twisted Kindness slowly lowered her hand.

“What are you doing all of a sudden?”

“Comfy.”

“What are you doing? What is it that you want?”

“Squishy.”

When she asked, all she got back were incomprehensible replies.

“Jealous.”

Only Sung Shihyun nodded his head in understanding, looking at Seol Jihu jealously.

“You startled me. I don’t know why you are doing this, but I’d like you to get off me. It’s ticklish.”

“Warm.”

Seol Jihu remained unmoving even at Twisted Kindness’ reasonable request.

“Brat, didn’t I tell you I was ticklish?”

In the end, Twisted Kindness resorted to force. She grabbed Seol Jihu by the collar and threw him aside. Seol Jihu rolled on the floor before shooting back up and then faltering back down.

[Did something go wrong in the process of absorbing the divinity?]

The Parasite Queen asked worriedly. Seol Jihu raised his head and then shook it.

“No, not at all… I’m just a little sleepy.”

He blinked a couple of times and yawned. It really looked like he was sleepy.

The Parasite Queen doubted her ears. She expected Seol Jihu to have complicated feelings from defecting and becoming a parasite, but what? He was sleepy?

“I feel drowsy for some reason… I need to sleep….”

“Hmph, you became a parasite and even received a divinity, yet you can’t overcome a measly physiological desire…. This is the problem with lowly creatures….”

Exploding Patience criticized harshly, but Seol Jihu paid no attention to what she said. He looked around with drowsy eyes before fixing his gaze on the Parasite Queen.

[What’s wrong? Is there something you need to say to… me?]

The Parasite Queen blinked. Seol Jihu began to approach his prey.

“Your Majesty! Please be careful!”

With Seol Jihu walking close to the Corrupted Throne, Exploding Patience raised her voice. However, Seol Jihu did not do much this time either. He only stopped in front of the throne and poked the Parasite Queen’s leg.

The Parasite Queen calmly raised her left leg even as she thought, ‘What does he want?’

However, Seol Jihu slapped her leg as if that wasn’t what he wanted. He looked a little angry.

“T-T-T-That impertinent mongrel!!”

While Exploding Patience was at a loss for words, Seol Jihu grabbed the Parasite Queen’s straightened legs and crawled up.

“Mm….”

He tapped and rubbed them a couple of times. Then, he nodded his head as if he was satisfied. He then yawned broadly and slowly situated himself there.

To repeat, he sat down on the Parasite Queen’s lap. He seemed to be saying, ‘This is my spot from now on.’

[....]

The Parasite Queen became speechless at his bold action.

“....”

And so did the rest of the Army Commanders.

They looked at Seol Jihu as he rustled in her lap comfortably.

“Y-You dare! Your Majesty, we shall execute this impertinent fool right away…!]

[No, I’m fine.]

Exploding Patience jumped furiously, but the Parasite Queen calmly raised her hand. She caressed Seol Jihu gently as if he was a precious, irreplaceable treasure that fell into her lap.

[I don’t know what exactly happened, but something must have gone wrong.]

“Well… absorbing a divinity is an excruciating process. There is a chance that his brain has gone through a temporary regression….”

Abhorrent Charity smacked his lips. Though this did not seem likely, he wanted to consider all possibilities.

[Alright, you all may go back now. I will personally watch over this child for a while.]

The Parasite Queen ordered the commanders to leave.

Exploding Patience left with a dissatisfied look while the rest turned back, tilting their heads.

“Damn, what an interesting taste.”

Only Sung Shihyun spared no praise as he left the grand hall.


*


The six Army Commanders did not disperse immediately. They held a meeting among themselves.

Of course, as parasites, they had a constant connection with their host, the Parasite Queen. Furthermore, acting in secret was impossible as they were in the Parasite Queen’s territory.

They had no intention of keeping this meeting a secret, but they were still dealing with the hero of the Federation and humanity. Given the gravity of the matter, they felt the need to share each other’s opinions.

Seeing as how the Parasite Queen did not transmit mental messages to them, she did not seem to mind the meeting either.

“I can’t believe it no matter how many times I think about it!”

Exploding Patience yelled while slamming her fist on the table.

“Just where does he think he is to act so impertinently!? This is why lowly creatures are…!”

“Stop, the reason I participated in this meeting was to discuss the meaning of his actions. There is nothing more meaningless than wasting our time being jealous or envious.”

Twisted Kindness changed the topic seeing Sung Shihyun’s eyebrow twitch at Exploding Patience’s comment.

After a moment of silence, one Army Commander coughed.

“I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t believe it either. Of course, I’m sure Her Majesty has her reasons for allowing such actions and has also taken necessary precautions for anything he might pull… but it’s still too sudden.”

Vulgar Chastity expressed her opinion with doubt.

After all, who was Seol Jihu? He was the one who pushed back three Army Commanders, including Undying Diligence. Not only that, at Tigol Fortress, he saved the Spirit Realm, unified all races of Paradise, and delivered an unforgettable loss to the Parasites.

The Parasite Queen personally called him the Brightest Star. Knowing how much she wanted to capture him yet failed repeatedly, Vulgar Chastity found the current situation hard to believe.

“It is not entirely without reason. The humans branded with the stigma of Jörmungandr might have influenced him. The limitlessness of human selfishness is surprising, after all.”

“That’s in the past. Humanity isn’t in a bad spot right now. So why….”

Unsightly Humility gave a plausible theory, but Vulgar Chastity rebutted.

“And why is he acting like a stupid manchild all of a sudden? If you ask me, I think he’s doing it on purpose.”

Vulgar Chastity was completely justified in thinking so. The six Army Commanders had only seen Seol Jihu on battlefields. There was no way they would know how he normally behaved.

“Well, something might have happened, as Her Majesty said. She said she would watch over him personally, so…. Ah, I do agree though, that we shouldn’t let our guard down. His goal might have been the divinity after all.”

Abhorrent Charity agreed with a part of what Vulgar Chastity said.

“Indeed. The unpredictable nature of that man is outside of my understanding as well as the Queen’s. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with being careful.”

When even Twisted Kindness agreed, the focus of the meeting seemed to be falling in one direction.

“Hold up, aren’t you guys being too serious? Maybe he just has a broad taste when it comes to what he’s willing to hit.”

Sung Shihyun offered his opinion from a completely different perspective, but no one paid him any attention.

“If our expectations are correct, he will definitely show suspicious activity.”

“The die has been cast. Since he fully absorbed his divinity and can even control it fully, we must not look down on him.”

“Let’s pretend to accept him into the group, but keep a close eye on him.”

“Good, then….”

The Army Commanders agreed on something for the first time. They refused to let their guard down. Seol Jihu had taken advantage of them multiple times already because of it.

With the threat of the Parasites being dismantled from the inside looming over their heads, they opened their eyes wide and decided to watch over Seol Jihu.

However, with no surprise, Seol Jihu’s actions went against everyone’s expectations.

The situation began to head in a direction nobody expected to take.

Just like how the Parasites always suffered.

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