SPACE 2. Galaxian Now…..
“How are you doing? I’m Lee Ji-un from the game exclusive news.”
A young man bowed and began to talk.
“The weather is becoming more and more hot. While the discomfort index is steadily rising with this heat wave, I have some news to tell you. If you listen to the game exclusive news then you’ll know I’m a fan. I have Jung Hye-sun here this week to help me talk about the game news.”
“Hello. I’m Jung Hye-Sun.”
A pretty, female celebrity smiled and answered.
“This is the first time I’ve been on the game exclusive news but I’ll work hard.”
“Hye-sun ssi is quite modest. Female artists in virtual reality games are quite rare but I heard that Hye-sun ssi is a pretty talented 1st generation gamer.”
“Omo, you seem to be talking about my age.”
“Ah…..yes, I’ll be careful in more words from now on.”
The broadcast began with a light joke from the host. Lee Ji-un then skillfully changed the topic.
“Anyway, I’m in a good mood now that I have the beautiful, young Jung Hye-sun here with me. I’m thankful that you chose to come on the game exclusive news. Hye-sun ssi, what is the first piece of news today?”
“It is Galaxian.”
“Isn’t this the SF fantasy game that has been causing a hot topic for a while?”
“Yes. Today at 6 o’clock in the morning, Galaxian entered Episode II.”
“That really is very hot news. But it feels a bit abrupt. Doesn’t a new episode mean the game system will change due to a large scale update? But information about Episode II was never released on the homepage of the publisher, Successful Future.”
“Successful Future is a game company that traditionally advocates mysticism. In addition to providing game content, users could find hidden content or solutions. Successful Future has been like that since the founding of the company. We requested to interview them about Episode II many times but it was refused.”
“That’s that mean no one knows any information about Episode II?”
“Then it wouldn’t be called a scoop would it?”
Jung Hye-sun replied with a smile. Her gaze turned towards a large monitor in the back. The monitor showed man shining stars in the universe.
“That screen is showing Galaxian right now. Unlike a typical fantasy game, the scale of a game with SF as the background is completely different. The appeal of Galaxian is its huge scale galactic adventures. But do you see that unusual pattern on the edge of the galaxy?”
“Yes, there is speculation that it is associated with Episode II.”
Jung Hye-sun answered as it zoomed in to the pattern of red light. The red lights from the planets connected to form a pentagram!
“Just before this Episode II begun, this pattern was observed in the Harmadon constellation to the north of the constellation. You can’t tell when watching the screen but it is estimated to be tens of millions of kilometres large.”
“Tens of millions of kilometres…..that is terrible.”What is it?”
“Like I already mentioned, Successful Future won’t disclose any general information related to the game. But how could I be the host of the game exclusive news if I accept that answer? So I called some help. Park Eun-woo is currently working as a programmer for a famous game publisher and Kwak Kyung-in who is an active game reviewer for the SF and fantasy genres.
“Oh, I’m sorry I only discovered your identities now.”
Lee Ji-un made a light joke.
“What do you two think it is?”
“A secret weapon.”
Park Eun-woo answered without thinking about it. Lee Ji-un had an exaggerated surprised expression on his face.
“A secret weapon? That is a weapon?”
“Yes, when Galaxian’s service first started the federation was in a conflict with the Rama. The setting is basically a space war between humans and aliens. However, the war between these two species is limited to the Bellin constellation at the moment. That area isn’t even 1/100 of the whole galaxy. And the amount of users participating in the war is 1/1000. This situation isn’t good for the publishers who put their efforts into making the battlefield.”
Lee Ji-un spoke in a voice that encouraged Park Eun-woo.
“That’s right. In order to gather a lot of users on the battlefield, they decided to use a secret weapon. Do you see the enormous size? If the weapon works properly then it will probably exert its power over the whole galaxy. The field that was confined to the Bellin constellation might expand throughout the whole galaxy. Even players who were indifferent to the war might have no choice but to get involved.”
“But according to Jung Hye-sun ssi, that giant circle didn’t even last for 10 minutes. There are also no significant anomalies on the planets around it.”
“That was just a trial run.”
Par Eun-woo naturally replied. Then Kwak Kyung-in who had just been listening scratched his head and opened his mouth.
“Can I say something?”
“Oh, yes Kwak Kyung-in ssi. Please say it.”
“I have a different conclusion from Park Eun-woo. Park Eun-woo must not know that much of the galaxy if he is claiming it is a secret weapon of the federation or the Rama. The federation, Rama and Aschulat have to keep their battlefields within a certain area due to the special treaty. It is impossible for them to produce a weapon that is millions of kilometres large.”
“So you’re saying it isn’t a secret weapon? Secret weapon, don’t you know the meaning of the word secret?”
“70% of the members in my cafe are Galaxian users.”
Kwak Kyung-in interrupted Park Eun-woo and continued.
“A majority of them have already gained a reputation in the frontier and several of them sailed on ships towards those planets when the incident occurred. But not one of those users insisted that it might be a weapon.”
“Then what does Kwak Kyung-in ssi think it is?”
“The 3rd race.”
“The 3rd race?”
“Yes. Apart from humans there are currently 24 species that can be selected in Galaxian. I think Episode II is the process to add a new species and area. The magic circle is a type of portal to allow that species to enter the galaxy.”
“What basis do you have for that reasoning?”
“Then is your insistence on a classified weapon well-founded?”
“When looking at the game publisher’s position……”
“Is Park Eun-woo involved in publishing Galaxian?”
“Kwak Kyung-in also isn’t the game publisher.”
“I’m a user.”
“Are you the only one playing the game? I’m also a user!”
“What level are you?”
“In the 90s!”
“I pass level 130 not long ago.”
Kwak Kyung-in laughed and added.
“I’m the CEO of a company that owns 4 destroyer class ships and have 270 members. I can’t agree with Park Eun-woo’s earlier words that the new content is to expand the battlefield. Like Park Eun-woo said, the scale of the battlefield is only 1/100 of the galaxy. In my opinion, the battlefield is like a type of mini game. I don’t think anything of it other than teaching PVP tips to beginners. Most of the users are gathering in the space frontier that takes up 90% of the galaxy. The users there are the real survivors. Users who couldn’t leave Istana or the Bellin constellation isn’t seeing the real Galaxian.”
“Are you saying I’m not really playing?”
“I saying we’re seeing different worlds. Galaxian isn’t a small world like Park Eun-woo thinks.”
“Those words are serious!”
“Now now, Park Eun-woo ssi, Kwak Kyung-in ssi, please calm down.”
Lee Ji-un quickly jumped in once the atmosphere dissolved.
“It really is a hot war of words. This is evidence of Galaxian’s popularity.”
“Yes, if Successful Future intended to cause shock with Episode II then they were successful. Right now the internet in the 12 countries that Galaxian is operating in is heating up. Anyway, I think we’ll have to watch the result a little bit more.”
Jung Hye-sun and Lee Ji-un skillfully summed up the situation. Lee Ji-un nodded with a satisfied expression and continued.
“Next up we will be talking about the users who have been showing a hot momentum in Galaxian. The popularity of Galaxian means there is a great interest in the users that are standing out. Hye-sun ssi, please explain a bit more.”
Jung Hye-sin explained with a sassy expression.
“The ranking in the game doesn’t distinguish between federation, Rama or Aschulat and is based on the user’s level, achievements, fame, recognition etc. Among the top 50 there are 21 Korea players included. That is amazing when considering that Galaxian has services in12 countries.”
“It shows the strength of a country strong in gaming.”
“But recently Europe and China who are traditionally strong in gaming have been rising with a terrifying momentum.”
“I heard that the number of pro gamers in Europe and China are increasing. This is a result that reflects the trend.”
“Yes, especially the European user called Masherion and the Chinese user called Ruchon who reached the top 30 in a week. Masherion was the winner of the power division in the world fighting action games tournament a few years ago. His experience means he has never been beaten in a 1 on 1 battle yet.”
A user was displayed on the monitor while Jung Hye-sun was talking. He had a sleek body and was equipped with weapons that looked like knuckles.
Ranking: 26 From: Galactic Federation
Final confirmation of level: 124
Uniqueness: Presumed to have received the fighter body coating. He has been undefeated in a 1 on 1 battle so far. He belongs to Laius, one of the 4 large companies in the federation.
* This material is being broadcasted with the permission of the user.
“We have no data on the previous career of the Chinese user Ruchon. There is no data on his combat abilities but he is the chairman of the 4 large companies in China and is using its capital to capture the space frontier. He is an ambitious person with dreams of making it to the top 10 rankings. Unlike Masherion, his fighting skills are unknown but he is a user people should pay attention to.”
Ranking: 22 From: Aschulat
Final confirmation of level: 140
Uniqueness: The Chairman of the 4 large businesses in China. Not much is known about Ruchon other than that.
He doesn’t want to reveal his character to the public.
“I’m amazed. I’m starting to feel like it’s real.”
Lee Ji-un said with an amazed voice as he watched the materials on the monitor.
“Galaxian has already started its service for 5 months.”
“Are there any Korean users who entered the top 50 this week?”
Two users appeared on the monitor. One was a user holding just a long sword while the other one carried a grenade language, a revolver, a launcher stinger and was wearing thick, heavy armour.
|-Arion- <South Korea>
Ranking: 38 From: Rama
Final confirmation of level: 121
Uniqueness: Presumed to have received a physical type body coating. According to recent witness testimonies, he took out 10 level 100 monsters by himself. He also took out a pirate ship attacking him and is gaining a lot of awareness in the frontier. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
|-Ferguson- <South Korea>
Ranking: 18 From: Galactic Federation
Final confirmation of level: 121
Uniqueness: CEO of a private business called Merchant’s Soul. A trooper wearing equipment that is estimated to be worth more than 10,000 gold. The terrible attack power of the superior equipment is designed to take out a large amount of monsters. His business is also actively exploring planets and trade.
“There are formidable Korean users.”
“This country isn’t known as being strong in gaming for nothing.”
Jung Hye-sun replied with a smile.
“But the 12 countries are all in one server so it kind of feels like a match against countries.”
“Yes, the starting position is different in each country but they are all devoted to levelling themselves up and exploring the space frontier. The beginning stages of Galaxian don’t feel like much. People from different nations are gathering at the frontier so it is natural to feel like it has turned into a competition.”
“Will it be the same in the future?”
“Few users in the top 50 have directly conflicted with each other yet. It is still too early to judge who will be enemies. But……”
“The universe is rapidly developing so peace won’t last for long. And that means there will be many opportunities for countries to fight.”
“This is like when we’re preparing for the World Cup.”
Lee Ji-un suddenly remembered something and asked with an interested expression.
“But wasn’t there a user on Istana who captured quite a bit of attention? Ark who is called Beltana’s Hero. There is a lot of speculation that he might be the legendary gamer Ark. Have you checked it?”
Jung Hye-sun flinched and hesitated for a bit. Then she smiled and said.
“It isn’t confirmed if he is the Ark from New World. But that Ark is a director in Global Exos so there is no reason for him to play Galaxian.”
“That’s right. Personally that is quite disappointing. I’m a fan of Ark. Hundreds of people have the same name in Galaxian so it could be someone else. Still, the person using the name Ark is a South Korean player so I’m looking forward to his actions in the future. I heard he had some significant achievements on Athamas but there isn’t a comprehensive evaluation on him yet. I hope he aspires to reach the top 50.”
Jung Hye-sun replied with a laugh. Somehow loneliness was buried beneath her laugh.
There was an electronic sound and the screen was turned off. A group of people in a conference room were staring at one person. The recipient of their gaze was Moon Ji-hun. They were the Emergency Planning department formed from members of the National Intelligence Service in order to counter Lucifer’s terrorism. However his face was confused as he turned off the TV. It was due to the broadcast of the game exclusive news.
“What do you think?”
“……I have no words.”
“Isn’t it a problem if you speak so ambiguously?”
A man in his 60s said in a nervous voice.
“The reason we are gathered here is due to the unprecedented act of terrorism caused by an artificial intelligence. A budget was committed in order to stop this. Section Chief Mun of the National Intelligence Service should know better than me.”
Moon Ji-hun nodded and bowed. This was definitely an unprecedented situation. He never imagined something like this would happen. For a mere computer program to take control of a nuclear power plant and threaten the government?
It was something from a SF movie yet it was actually happening in real life. The even more absurd thing was the AI’s requirements.
–If another user reaches the ultimate goal in Galaxian ahead of me then I will return control of it to the government. However I can’t guarantee the safety of the nuclear power plant if I reach the goal first. I will also be participating in my own activities.
‘The survival of the country depends on the outcome of a game……’
Moon Ji-hun thought it was a joke when he first received the report. Honestly he couldn’t accept it. But that was the actual situation. He didn’t want to believe it but a scene from a SF movie had actually happened. Thus the Emergency Planning committee was formed. Right now members of related departments were gathered in the meeting room. And the person in charge was Moon Ji-hun. There were two methods that Moon Ji-hun had devised. The first was to take advantage of users. His plan was to just experts in other virtual reality games to defeat Lucifer in Galaxian. However that was just Moon Ji-hun’s insurance plan.
‘I can’t just leave this to civilians. No, they’re not even ordinary civilians. Most successful gamers are reclusive, loner types or social misfits. I can’t leave the mission to these type of people. It is ridiculous to leave the future of the country to pathetic humans like that.’
He was a person in a public office. He also had self-confidence from protecting the country. There was no way he could leave a national emergency in the hands of gamers.
‘I have to invest time and money into the game. Then it will be more beneficial to spend that time and money on outstanding people. The people with appropriate qualifications should settle his matter!’
That was the second plan Moon Ji-hun came up with! Therefore he selected 300 elite agents from the NIS. At least 15 billion won of the budget was allocated for ‘Lucifer hunting.’ The personnel were selected carefully.
‘The world consists of 1% elites leading the other 99% population. And these people are part of the 1% elite. The 99% of the population playing the game can’t compare to them. This is the core of my plan.’
Moon Ji-hun met the gamers first and immediately chose the government agents afterwards. But things turned out opposite to what Moon Ji-hun thought. He had planned to use the gamers to help the Lucifer Hunting personnel. However, the majority of gamers rejected Moon Ji-hun’s proposal. Several users, including Ark placed some requirements despite the space of emergency.
‘I can’t believe the brats addicted to playing games. Those guys have no sense of commitment so I’ll have to depend on the elite personnel. The country is in our hands. I’ll show that intelligence agent the power of our country.’
At first it seemed to be proceeding well.
–All units have passed the space station and entered the planet.
-10 to 1. 10 teams have each been committed to the federation, Rama and Aschulat!
–Each team is dedicated to hunting in a party and levelling up!
-We’ve breached level 30!
–Each member has received a specific body coating to ensure the balance of the team!
The results were good! Each member showed a noticeable growth. It was natural. The Lucifer Hunting team consisted of the mental and physical elite. Furthermore, Galaxian was like modern warfare through the use of swords and firearms. And they were all members of the NIS who had received military education. They received the support of the country and could play the game night and day. Thus in the early stages, 20 of the members of the Lucifer Hunting team managed to reach the top 50. However that situation changed after 3 months.
–A team, they engaged with a bandit group and were completely destroyed!
–B team has engaged with a group of monsters and were completely destroyed!
The reports kept on coming in. They started to struggle once they reached a certain level. Moon Ji-hun was puzzled by the result. There are several reasons for it. The first was that the team members were all military soldiers. Of course, this was a significant advantage. A military trained team could get used to the battle system in virtual reality games easier. The space bugs and Nakuma in the novice areas were no match for their organizational tactics. But that situation changed once they entered the Outlands.
It was filled with a bizarre environment and monsters! Once again, the soldiers were trained in modern warfare using specific tactics and Korea’s terrain. Suddenly a cactus would spout electricity or a huge 10 metre monster would appear out of the ground to eat them. The textbook tactics that they learnt was actually a nuisance to them.
–Use the terrain to shoot!
It was something they learnt in the army. They laid down and shot. And…..
The giant monster repelled the bullets and they died. They suffered such situations a few times before learning that military tactics didn’t work. However, they were the ‘elite.’ Their body automatically moved using the ingrained military training before they could think. That wasn’t the only problem. Skill was just as important as levels in the game. Although NPCs sometimes taught the skills, most users created new skills themselves through steady practice. However, they were the ‘elite.’
The soldiers couldn’t imagine learning combat skills from civilians (NPCs). In addition, their lack of flexibility meant they dismissed the notion of repeating actions many times. In conclusion, they lacked understanding of the game. In terms of tactics, the soldiers were incomparable to other users. But that wasn’t the only thing required in a game. Learning a large number of skills, maximizing the capabilities of items, finding and completing new quests, all of these things had a large impact on character growth. That was the reason why their growth suddenly to slow down.
‘A virtual reality game isn’t as easy as I thought.’
Moon Ji-hun was forced to admit it. Nevertheless, the average level of the soldiers was 120. Despite raising their levels ignorantly, 10 of them were still among the top 50. They really could be called the elite……
Then one of the members in the meeting room began to talk.
“Chief Mun, what is the purpose of establishing the Lucifer Hunting group?”
“It is to find out Lucifer’s ultimate goal in Galaxian and to prevent him from reaching that goal.”
“And the outcome?”
“Yes, there isn’t anything. We committed a budget of 15 billion and 300 elite agents only to get no results. Their growth was fast at first but after 5 months they are being pushed by other users. The purpose of establishing the Lucifer Hunting group isn’t to create high level characters. Life Chief Mun said, it is to stop Lucifer. It doesn’t matter if they’re level as long as they can stop Lucifer. In order to do that, information is necessary. Chief Mun who works in the NIS knows that better than anyone.”
“Then are you aware of what is happening within Galaxian? Something serious happened within the last day. Not only did we not detect any warning signs ahead of time, we had to hear about it through the TV.”
This was the reason for the committee meeting. A huge event had happened within Galaxian. The government had prepared a plan to stop Lucifer but they never knew about the event before they saw it on the game exclusive news. They had no excuses. However, a large budget and many personnel had been committed to this project. No excuse would be accepted. When Moon Ji-hun couldn’t say anything, the committee member began to talk again.
“I can only come to one conclusion. In our present state it will be difficult to accomplish our goals. So I think staff reinforcement is necessary.”
“We have to hire more specialized personnel.”
The committee member handed several forms to Moon Ji-hun and continued.
“This is who we were thinking of. Please review them so they can be incorporated within a few days.”
Moon Ji-hun silently unfolded the papers.
-Team leader of developing a new game, Hwang Ju-ryeong.
-Professor of game creation at S university, Lee Cheol-yong.
-Profession of special environment tactics at Korea’s Nation Defense university Kim Woo-jeong…..
These experts were definitely required considering the circumstances. However there was one name that stuck out to Moon Ji-hun. Moon Ji-hun frowned at the piece of paper and asked.
“This man is a police officer?”
“Is there a problem?”
“This NIS operation is conducted in cooperation with the military. Any necessary talent is supplied by them. If we add a police officer…..”
“It is a problem because he is a police officer?”
The NIS and Department of Defense had joined forces for this project. Asking for help from the police was like a blow to their ego. But the next statement caught Moon Ji-hun’s attention.
“I know what Chief Mun is thinking. But this situation isn’t just for a specific government office. It is literally a state of emergency. And to be honest, he is a well-qualified person for this mission. He is the cyber investigation team leader who investigates criminals in virtual reality games. And he has a good track record. He is more of an expert than the Lucifer Hunting crew in that regard. But that isn’t the only reason why I recommended him.”
“There’s something else?”
“He has experience fighting Lucifer in New World.”
Moon Ji-hun’s eyes narrowed and he looked back at the paperwork.
-Gangnam police station, cyber-investigations team leader Lee Myung-ryong.
That was the name on the resume.
A huge roar shook the space. It came from the Kraken, the giant monster 100 metres large! This is a A+ ranking space monster who hid underground on asteroids and ate any pioneers who came across it. However the Kraken was in its death throes.
“That guy is reaching his limit!”
“Kill him before he hides underground again!”
“Concentrate your firepower on him! Pour all shells!”
And dozens of shells poured out! Flames soared and black blood flowed from the body of the Kraken. The Kraken struggled until its last moments when it took a rough breath.
“The final blow! Take this!”
A user clad in heavy armour rushed towards the Kraken. The revolver launcher in his hands spewed a jet of flames 100 metres long! The trigger was pulled dozens of times and grenades poured out.
Tung! Tung! Tung! Tung!
The grenade exploded on the Kraken’s head! The Kraken swung its giant tentacles around from the pain. However, the user instantly changed directions and continuously aimed the grenade at its head. The Kraken eventually fell down from the grenades and was engulfed in flames.
“Huhuhu, the Kraken has no choice but to be roasted.”
The user lifted his steaming revolver and laughed. And 2 users cheered from among the gathered soldiers and ran forward.
“As expected of Hyung-nim!”
“Awesome! Totally terrific!”
“Huhuhu, these children. It is natural. Didn’t you see the user rankings announced on the game exclusive news? I am rank 18, 18.”
The user wearing the thick armour was Ferguson. Not long ago the user rankings for Galaxian was released and he was ranked 18th. The users with small physiques nodded at Ferguson’s words.
“Of course we saw!”
“When considering how much we’ve suffered….sob.”
“Children, calm down. I told you. This is going to be our new world.”
“It is like Hyung-nim said.”
“To be honest, I couldn’t imagine the result when Hyung-nim told us to give up our previous game and join Galaxian. Yet Hyung-nim is ranked 18th!”
“I told you. It was a problem involving career choices. Don’t we have a game background of several years? I’ve devoted 20 years to playing games. Once I make up my mind then this much is simple. I honestly don’t like the number 18. That means there are 17 people above me…..that’s not good enough.”
“But that will change next week.”
“Of course. The tungsten mine on this planet is going to be ours.”
Ferguson looked at the Kraken’s body with a warm look. That’s why he had fought with the Kraken. While sailing near this asteroid, he accidentally discovered that there was a tungsten mine on it. There wasn’t a large deposit but tungsten was an expensive mineral! Ferguson hired mercenaries and was finally able to defeat the Kraken after a long battle.
“But it’s not over yet.”
“I’m aware of that. I need to report the tungsten mine in order to claim ownership of it.”
“Yes and we also need to gather mine equipment and investors.”
“We will be busy for a while.”
“Once Hyung-nim receives ownership and gains money from it, your ranking will quickly jump.”
“These children, do you think I’m working alone? It is thanks to you guys for believing in me.”
“Will you climb straight to number 1?”
“It isn’t beyond my reach.”
Ferguson replied with an elated expression. Then one of the men said with an uneasy expression.
“But Hyung-nim, what about the mention of Ark on the game exclusive news?”
Ferguson’s expression was offended this time.
“Sheesh, why did you have to bring up that bastard’s name when the atmosphere was so good? They said that Beltana’s Hero isn’t the real Ark.”
“They said it was highly unlikely. But if he is the real one……”
“You don’t need to worry. This isn’t New World. It is Galaxian. There is no guarantee that he will do well here. Even if he is Beltana’s Hero, he wasn’t even part of the top 50 rankings. That is evidence that he isn’t really inside Galaxian. Isn’t that right? In fact, I hope that Beltana’s Hero is the real Ark. So I can prove that I’m stronger than him.”
“Ohh! Hyung-nim, how wonderful! How cool!”
“Huhuhu, these children. It is natural. Just believe in Hyung-nim. I’ll show you a new world!”
“Yes! We will only believe and follow Hyung-nim!”
“Now, let’s head to the council!”
Ferguson turned his body around. Then the two users shouted to the soldiers.
“Hyung-nim said to head to the council! Ready the airship! Let’s depart!”
A giant airship moved up from behind the hill after hearing them. The airship had a ‘$’ glyph on the tail and was the sign of Ferguson’s business, Merchant’s Soul! Ferguson looked at the staff of the airship and said in a cavalier voice.
“I want to thank you for your efforts. This tungsten mine is now owned by Merchant’s Soul. Bring your food and drinks onto the airship! We will celebrate while heading to the council!”
“Hyung-nim is the best!”
The crew cheered with joy. The airship started flying across the universe.
“We are the champions of the universe! The men who sail across the universe! Courage, passage and dreams as we cross the boundless space of the galaxy! A man has to be tough in the universe! To fight! To fight!”
The sound of sailors singing came from the airship as it was wrapped in light. In the next minute, the light disappeared along with the airship.