SPACE 3. Unknown Enemy
“Pant pant pant, pant pant pant.”
Ark breathed roughly and looked around.
‘Has everything here been clean up? Pant pant, I really have no spirit left.’
The place illuminated with a swaying light was a scene of mess and confusion. There were shattered glass and various miscellaneous household goods scattered on the ground with random blood splatters around. This was the atmosphere inside the central control tower where a biohazard occurred and the Sufferers first appeared. Naturally the Sufferers here were like heaven and earth. A Sufferer would jump out every time he turned around or entered a room.
‘I thought it would be easier to fight in an area that wasn’t open like the city……’
In the city, he would end up surrounded by hundreds of Sufferers once the battle started. But this was a building with narrow passages so it would be easier to take care of his opponent…..that thought was a mistake.
‘Damn, it really popped out of a cabinet.’
Ark muttered as he looked at the sharp teeth marks still on his shoulder. It was from a Sufferer he encountered when leaning against a cabinet. Suddenly the cabinet opened and a Sufferer bit his shoulder. Unlike the city, the Sufferers would really pop out of nowhere.
‘If I have to stay in a place like this for a few more days then I might have a nervous breakdown or a heart attack.’
It wasn’t just the cabinet. Under the desk, in a hallway where the lights weren’t turned on, on the ceiling…..the Sufferers would hide in every possible narrow or dark space. So he couldn’t relax at all. He was always in a battle state when moving because he never knew when he would encounter a Sufferer. There were only 20~30 inside the tower compared to the 100 in the city but the mental and physical fatigue was many times more. But Ark was holding up well. No, to be exact the Phoenix squad was holding up well.
-The auditorium is clear. All the Sufferers are destroyed.
–This hallway has been cleaned up.
Voices came from Nymphe network that the Phoenix members were connected to. The team members speaking were reporting after finishing a battle with the Sufferers. Then Ark and Clark who was on top of a broken desk also reported in.
“Yes, this places has also been neatly cleaned. Over.”
-Okay. Burn the bodies and gather in the auditorium for a break. We will rest and inspect the equipment before entering the next area. Anybody injured should seek treatment from the medics.
Fire gushed out after Kalbern’s command. The members always cremated the bodies of the Sufferers after a battle ended. If they left the corpse then there was always a chance they would revive again. Ark stared blankly at the flames and muttered.
“It is still amazing every time I look at it.”
Clark asked as he jumped down from the desk.
“Pureah using the flamethrower. The fire can move freely like a whip. It will only burn the target. If paper was next to the target then it won’t even move.”
“Eh? You still don’t know about it?”
“I’ve spent most of my time with the members so I naturally thought you knew….. Originally Pureah isn’t his name. It is the name of a species. The Pureah lived on a small planet in the Bellin constellation and they are born with the ability to control fire. Therefore the Pureah mostly specialize in Espers of fire. Even if other species receive the pyro kinesis coating, they will find it difficult to match the Pureah’s natural abilities. That guy isn’t an Esper but he has the skill to use a flamethrower.”
‘I thought the red head and eyebrows were strange…..’
Pureah also had a habit of laughing when using the flamethrower. He was normally expressionless but he would become so animated when using a flamethrower on the Sufferers’ bodies. But to think there was a species with this ability in the galaxy. This was also critical information in Galaxian. There might be many times when his opponents were users or NPCs. Thus it was important to find out the characteristics of the opponent! It was like committing suicide if he fought a magician or warrior while ignorant of their characteristics. Especially in Galaxian where there was the different species and body coating. Sometimes the abilities given by the body coating would completely change depending on the species. Therefore he would prefer getting advanced information instead of walking blindly into a fight. The person who had more information would control the battle. Anyway, knowing oneself and the opponent was the key to victory. But it was still the 24th century where space ships were flying around.
“Pureah has taken care of the bodies so let’s head to the auditorium.”
Clark said as he navigated between the household goods on the floor. Ark who was lost in thought suddenly shouted.
“What? This time too?”
“Yes, don’t you know? I have to make a profit even if it is one copper.”
Ark smiled as he replied and Clark just shook his head.
“Hah, you’re just picking up junk so you can’t earn that much money. Aren’t you tired?”
One member attracted Clark’s attention.
“Why are you criticizing someone who is working hard? Alan…..Alan has a reason.”
“Ah, yes. I forgot. I’m sorry. I said some unnecessary words.”
Clark blushed and scratched his head with embarrassment after the team member’s words. The reason for this situation…..since the game started, Ark wasn’t a character who would waste his time in vain. Even if he just finished a tough battle, Ark couldn’t just sit back and rest. Ark applied that same mindset when joining the Phoenix squad.
‘Why on earth are they doing this?’
Ark was shocked when he joined the Phoenix squad three days ago.
“You will participate in battle so we will give you consumable supplies like bullets. But you’re not a formal member so distributing loot to you is difficult. We’re mercenaries and are participating in this mission to make money. And the loot is an important source of revenue for mercenaries. You suddenly joined up so the members would be dissatisfied if I give loot to you.”
This was the condition Kalbern gave him when joining. It was to give up on the loot. Ark was depressed but the quest was more important than loot so he accepted. Therefore he never looked at the loot…..
The Phoenix defeated thousands of Sufferers a day so of course they would gain a huge amount of loot. But the members didn’t show any special interest. They would pick up the loot but there were a variety of japtem that they didn’t even look at.
“I won’t make money from a little thing like that even if I pick it up.”
“If we pick up things like that then we might run out of bag space.”
This was the member’s replies. Their words weren’t wrong. Most of the loot from the Sufferers were useless compared to their levels. They were tattered old clothes, a few metal parts and japtem that would only be worth several coppers in stores. But copper was also money. If he gathered copper then it would turn into silver and then into gold! How could he simply leave money like that alone? So Ark rolled up his sleeves and came out. Ark didn’t rest while the other members who finished fighting were taking a break. He would search around the burnt bodies of the Sufferers and swept all up the items he found. But soon problems arose.
|-There is no empty space in the bag!|
That was the scariest message to Ark! After Ark arrived at the northern lake, he had obtained various loot from hunting and fish from the lake. He couldn’t stop by a store before joining the Phoenix so it was a natural result when scraping up japtem. The method Ark came up with……
“Can I keep the loot I picked up in the Guardian?”
All the loot they gathered was stored in the tank. But the Guardian was different from the Silver Hand’s container truck. It was a cramped vehicle with almost no empty space once the drivers and Kalbern boarded it. Of course Kalbern didn’t have a good response to his request.
“Why should I collect that trash?”
Then Ark murmured with a sad expression.
That sentence settled everything.
“M-mother?” “That’s right. My mother……”
“Your mother?” “I’ve been going around without any rest because of my mother’s hospital expenses…….”
“We disliked it without even knowing……”
“I also have a mother at home. It’s been 10 years since I became a mercenary and left home. I didn’t want to hear her nagging so I didn’t contact her. I don’t know how my mother is living……”
“Ugh! Don’t speak like that! D-damn! This is a runny nose! I’m not crying!”
“Captain-nim, you have to listen to his request! Yes? That guy’s mother……”
Ark’s ‘mother had just become pregnant. I have to gain money for my younger sister.’ was what he tried to say. But the Phoenix member’s imagination ran wild and they started misunderstanding.
“Y-yes. Then it can’t be helped.”
Kalbern blushed and nodded. If the situation was like this then Ark didn’t feel the need to remove the misunderstanding. It wasn’t a total lie. The Phoenix members just misunderstood. Anyway, now Ark could just the Guardian tank as well as the Phoenix members’ bags. If he piled up all the japtem in the Guardian then he could get at least 10 gold……
While Ark was busy thinking…..
10 of the members waved their hand and approached.
“What, you guys? We’re supposed to be gathering at the auditorium so why are you here?”
“Did we come to see you?”
The members snorted at Clark and looked at Ark.
“Alan, are you picking up japtem? It isn’t necessary. We’ll collect everything. By the way, do you have any bag space left? The Guardian can’t enter this place so you must have no bag space left. So we dropped by pick it up for you.”
“Huh? No, that…..”
“You brat, we’ve got it. Aren’t we friends now? A fellow soldier’s mother is also our mother. We’ll pick it up from now on so please get some rest. You have to live so you can introduce us to your sick mother.”
A soldier laughed as he placed his arm over Ark’s shoulder. Thanks to Ark’s circumstances (?), he could rest while the Phoenix members picked up the japtem. Of course they would belong to Ark. There was even more.
“Hrmm, please use this medicine as well. I’m giving it to you.”
The members also gave him supplies as well as loot. Among them were equipment that he could use straight away.
|-Pioneer’s Pants (Magic)
Item Type: Under Armour Wearer Restriction: Level 50
Defense: 30 Durability: 42/70
Pants widely used among beginner pioneers. These pants are made from the leather of a monster so they are suitable for most environments. These deluxe leather pants will protect the lower body from various toxic substances in the Outlands. There are rumours that it also has an effect on increasing energy. This is a necessity!
<When exposed to a natural toxic environment, damage is reduced by 15%>
* You have gathered 2 items of the same series and the set effect has been applied.
|+ Set Effect +
<Pioneer’s Pants><Pioneer’s Boots>: Harmful Environment Immunity +10%
It was a level 50 equipment, Pioneer’s Pants! Ark could finally change out of the level 20 beginner’s pants. Furthermore, he also obtained the Pioneer’s Boots from the forest near the northern lake so he created a set effect. It was the level 50 magic set that could be easily obtained. Anyway, he was given it for free! This was all due to the soldier’s misconception.
‘If I treat them well then the NPCs will give quite a lot!’
This was a law of virtual reality games and the philosophy that governed Ark’s behaviour. Ark had been using the method to raise the NPC’s intimacy throughout his many years of gaming. It had been 3 days since he joined the Phoenix squad and Ark hadn’t hesitated to jump in to help the soldiers. He picked up the japtem and even used his tool box and Facilities Maintenance to repair their equipment and clean the Guardian.
“I am a rookie.”
Ark said with a bright smile!
“Doing this even when your mother is ill…..”
Their reaction was 100% expected!
|-Intimacy with Kalbern has increased by 100.|
|-Intimacy with Clark has increased by 100……|
‘Huhuhu, this degree is enough.’
Ark had the innate talent of selling things to Ark.
“I wanted to see it again.”
A soldier muttered as he saw the octopus attached to Ark’s head.
Bbok bbok bbok bbok! Bbok bbok bbok bbok!
The octopus on his head was the Charenjok’s token. Ark was almost always using it ever since Bakum upgraded it. It wasn’t that useful before so he often forgot about it but now it could continue to grow. And it was surprisingly popular among the Phoenix squad. It wasn’t because of its ability to recover. Even if it was upgraded, it only recovered 2 health every 4 seconds. That wasn’t enough to have an influence on battle. The medic’s injection healed 500 health so it was impossible for them to prefer the recovery ability of the octopus. The members were interested in the octopus itself.
“It moves while on the head. The bbok bbok is really no joke.”
“That’s not all. It wiggles and crawls when placed on the ground.”
“This isn’t a common mechanism.”
The Charenjok’s token would move around by itself when he placed it on the ground.
It was cute and its popularity exploded! It was to the extent that a soldier even tried to exchange a level 80 sword for it.
“I’m sorry. This is a token of my friendship with the Charenjok so I can’t sell it.”
But Ark refused. It was a level 80 sword but the Charenjok’s token was a growth type item. The recovery ability wasn’t useful at the moment but it would steadily grow. He couldn’t give up the benefits of such an item. And…..in fact Ark had become quite attached to the Charenjok’s token these days.
‘In the past I was accompanied by my summons so I was never bored……’
When he first started Galaxian he hadn’t been bored. First he was busy trying to learn the system on R-14 and then Tori sold him to the Silver Hand before he was arrested and sent to Beltana. But Ark had been extremely bored when exploring the northern lake. Ark spent 10 days staring at the Nymphe’s screen while sitting on the air board and was so bored he felt like dying. It became so bad he started thinking out loud. The octopus’ animation reminded Ark of his summons so he was comforted by it.
“Sheesh, it can’t be helped.”
“If you ever get tired of it then tell me. I’ll give you 100 gold for it.”
“Now let’s go. We should go to the auditorium because Captain is waiting.”
“My body isn’t the same as before. I should have a medic look at it.”
“Your head isn’t the same as before.”
The members chattered noisily as they headed towards the auditorium. Ark could also go straight to the auditorium because they gathered all the japtem already. But Ark didn’t rest even when he arrived at the auditorium. Ark had a lot of work to do even if he didn’t need to collect the japtem. One of them was hacking.
|-Hacking (Lv1): Proficiency 244/500|
“I still have passed halfway.”
Ark sighed as he checked the skill information window. Galaxian’s skill proficiency rose quite slowly compared to his previous game. Anyway, the 4 star rated skill Hacking was one of the slowest to rise. Hacking wasn’t a combat skill so the proficiency couldn’t be raised in a short period of time. He needed to hack a system to increase it. And Ark hadn’t been impatient. There was no reason to raise his Hacking level right away. But the situation changed a short time ago.
‘I haven’t received a reply to my message so what on earth could’ve happened?’
Ark had sent a message to Kara, Marquis Martin’s intelligence agent when he first entered the contaminated area. However, there was no reply from Kara over the last three days. Charem was currently sealed off but internal communication was still possible. Yet he couldn’t contact Kara even when he was in Charem. But no one could escape from Charem at the moment. Then there was only one answer!
‘Perhaps he was in the contaminated area and encountered the Sufferers?’
That was the only reason why he wouldn’t reply. Naturally Ark was curious about the black bag placed in a corner of his bag. It was the bag Marquis Martin asked him to give to Kara.
‘This might be an item that will help the intelligence agent with his mission. It might be something like the STK-VII. If Kara already died then it won’t be a problem if I use the item to help with my mission. Marquis Martin only told me to deliver it to Kara! Huhuhu, he never mentioned anything about what I should do if he dies.’
|-This bag is protected by a security device.
Enter the security code or use Invaders to hack and release the lock. The security rating of this lock is level 6. Your present hacking techniques can only release level 1~3 locks.
<If you don’t know the password then try against after raising the level of your hacking skill>
As expected from Marquis Martin. The bag was protected by a strong lock. But Ark had no intention of giving up this long awaited chance.
‘If I raise hacking one more level then I can release a level 6 lock. I need to raise the proficiency and grab the contents of the bag before meeting Marquis Martin again!’
Of course there weren’t that many security locks to hack. However, there were other ways to raise the skill proficiency. Although the degree of proficiency was only 1/10 of the amount he gained when hacking security locks, he could hack the circuits in japtem like when he first learnt the skill.
‘Fortunately the central control power has many mechanical parts.
This was another reason why Ark gathered up all the japtem. If he took it to the store then he could only receive several copper from it! Meanwhile hacking the japtem would raise the skill proficiency by 1! If he gathered 100 then he could raise it by 100. Ark’s current hacking proficiency was 244. If he hacked 256 more times than he could reach level 2.
‘I have 50 mechanical parts right now. I need to obtain 200 more mechanical parts before meeting Marquis Martin again.’
Ark connected one machine to the Nymphe.
|-This circuit has a security device.
Enter the security code or use Invaders to hack and release the lock.
Attempt to hack? Y/N
When he started hacking it was a simple level 1 mini game. While the other members were taking a break, Ark sat in a corner with the octopus on is head and focused on the mini game.
Byong byong! Byong byong! Byong byong!
How much time had passed?
‘Huh? What the?’
Ark flinched and raised his head. He felt like something was moving within a dark hallway. It was a dark place with no light but Ark could see thanks to Clairvoyance. Although he closely searched every corner, Ark couldn’t see anything different.
‘Something seemed to move……is there a reason for that feeling?’
“Hey, Alan! Get ready! We’re moving to the next place!”
At that time he heard Kalbern and Clark calling. Ark stared at the hallway before shaking his head and rising.
‘If it was a Sufferer then it would attack immediately.’
Shortly after Ark walked towards Clark.
Something moved in the darkness.
The person with big eyes flinched and turned around. He saw a man with a huge figure nearing.
“Pant pant pant, Hyung-nim? What does that mean?”
“No, that……I thought I heard Hyung-nim’s voice……”
“It is your imagination. Leader Clem said that Hyung-nim is on the north side of the planet. That is thousands of kilometres away from where we are.”
“I know that already. I understand but…..”
The person with big eyes muttered with an uneasy look.
“What if something happened to Hyung-nim?”
“You don’t have to worry about him. Hey, who is Hyung-nim? He is a hero, a hero. He changed his prisoner status to that of a hero. We don’t need to worry about him.”
The person with large eyes blinked and nodded. Then he opened a notepad on his Nymphe and started to pour out his thoughts.
Dear Ark hyung-nim.
We have just arrived at the mountain that is near Istana’s equator. The dense jungle with a sizzling heat is like a dream after Beltana. There was a time where we lost all hope of surviving. Hyung-nim is the one who helped us escape from Beltana and gave us new hope. We couldn’t help by overflowing with delight after hearing Hyung-nim talk about making our own group. At that time we promised. We would try our best to meet Hyung-nim’s expectations.
The Silver Hand members are also close to Hyung-nim and are generously teaching us combat skills. Once Cupa, Hedro, Reben and Konsed finish their duties after 10 hours, they would receive separate attacker training from the Silver Hand. Apart from the heavy weapons training, Cupa is also being taught gymnastics. His body has become so tattered that he would vomit a few times every day.
When the person paused and turned around, he saw Cupa vomiting near him. Cupa was double the size of normal humans so the amount he ate and vomited up was different. The smell was no joke so the man moved to the opposite side where two people caught his eye. Their bodies were bruised all over. The man sighed and turned back to his Nymphe.
But Cupa is nothing compared to Berad and Ralph. Berad and Ralph are training in sword mastery. They have to do things like picking up items with chopsticks, climbing a waterfall with bare hands, getting past a bee swarm with deadly poison……
It is training that can’t possibly be understood. I don’t know whether their sword mastery is increasing but Ralph and Berad seem to be getting more durable. Last time they just laughed after being sent to face a grizzly bear. It is clear that their courage has grown.
As expected, Kalliben and Beleol are becoming more proficient in sniping thanks to Clem’s training. There is no other choice. A sniper’s hit rate is the most important thing so they would miss a meal if they miss. The distance to the target also increases every day so Kalliben and Beleol are always starving.
The man turned around and looked at two people in a corner. Kalliben and Beleol were enviously watching the Silver Hand members eating.
Oh, grandfather Mellin is also difficult to train because of his age so he is being taught to handle explosives from the engineers. Huhuhu, the medical technology these days is really great. Even if limbs are separated because of an explosion, it would be perfectly regrown after a few hours. Well, the length of the limb would sometimes not fit and it would move strangely……
The person wrote up to that point.
“Hey Hegel! What are you doing? Did you do all the exercises I gave you yesterday? There will be a test soon!”
“Huh? Ah yes! Heksu ajusshi, I will go soon!”
The person who was Hegel said with surprise and busily moved his hands.
I have been taking lessons in being a Scavenger under Heksu ajusshi.
Heksu ajusshi seems happy that he has a successor. He has been with the Silver Hand for 50 years and is passing on all his knowledge to be. Therefore he gives me a bunch of homework every day. Every day I can only get 2 hours of sleep. This pain will definitely allow me to grow.
I am looking forward to it. The day when we can meet Hyung-nim again and build our business. So I want to tell Hyung-nim this.
“Ya! This bastard! What are you doing? Why aren’t you coming quickly?”
“Yes! I-I’m going! Right now!”
Hegel’s hands moved even faster at Heksu’s roar.
This place is a hell more terrible than Beltana! Please set up the company before we die!
Hyung-nim, where are you? Please help us!
But Hegel was unaware of something. The torturous training course set by the Silver Hand. It was the training program that Ark developed. Ark recalled his past training with Lee Myung-ryong and applied that philosophy to the program.
“This guy, do you want me to rearrange your spirit? Aren’t you a part of Ark’s Royal Guards? Ark went through even more harsh training when he was part of the Silver Hand!”
Thus the Silver Hand members steadily proceeded with Ark’s training program. Thanks to that the Royal Guards grew every day……
-Hyung-nim, I want to see you!
Their loyalty to Ark also rose.
Tak tak tak tak! Tak tak tak tak!
Dozens of footsteps resounded through the hall. They were the soldiers of the Phoenix squad carrying assault rifles! Several groups were clearing obstacles or checking various passages. The reports of people in those passages could continuously be heard.
-The right side hallway is clear. There are no abnormalities.
–The second hallway on the left is also clear. There are no abnormalities.
“Maintain an alert formation for the moment.”
Kalbern lifted his RPG as he strode across the hall. He was heading towards a metal door at the end of the hall.
“We’ve finally arrived.”
Ark asked with narrow eyes as he approached Kalbern. Clark who was on Ark’s other side smiled and replied.
“Isn’t it obvious? It is an elevator.”
“Elevator? We’re using an elevator?”
“Then? Do you expect us to walk to the 40th floor of the control tower? The first 5 floors are general facilities so this elevator is the only way to reach the upper floors that are the security areas. But only someone who holds a special security card can access the elevator on the 5th floor. So we are taking the elevator to the 39th floor. Our destination is the management system on the 40th floor. We only need to go up one level after reaching the 39th floor with the elevator.”
“Our mission will soon be over.”
Ark stared at the elevator after hearing Clark’s words. This was a building in a game but the central control tower was also similar to a dungeon. That’s why Ark who was a user viewed using the elevator as a type of cheat. But they had already spent a day and a half in the central control tower. If they hadn’t taken the breaks then they probably could’ve reached the 5th floor in one day. If they maintained that same speed then it would’ve taken 10 days to reach the 40th floor. But they could use the elevator to climb to the 39th floor in one day!
“Is the elevator working properly?”
“Even if the tower is occupied by the Sufferers, all the functions are still working. Safety devices were prepared for situations like this. If the system wasn’t working then we would have no reason to come here in the first place. Because Charem wouldn’t be sealed off.”
Ark nodded. He hadn’t thought about it but this was also good news for Ark.
‘It’s good that I don’t need to be stuck in this place for ten days. Although I haven’t raised my hacking skill, I don’t have to give the bag back to Marquis Martin. I can just pretend ignorance while slowly raising my skill. It is better than looking for mechanical parts in a place like this.’
The situation in Charem would be quickly settled once the management system was recaptured. He could complete two major quests at once. He gained a lot of experience from hunting the Sufferers but that couldn’t be compared to the quest compensation. While Ark was busy thinking…..
“That’s it. It is working!”
Kalbern insert the special security card and password in the device next to the elevator and the metal doors opened. It was the direct elevator to the 39th floor!
“Everybody board it. We are going up!”
The scattered members gathered at Kalbern’s command. Kalbern pressed the button to the 39th floor after confirming that all 30 members boarded and the elevator started to climb. The alert crew started to relax after the elevator doors closed.
“Hah, it is almost over.”
“Yes. This is the first time during my 12 years as a mercenary that I’ve had such a horrible experience. A disease that causes corpses to move. And they also smell awful.”
“But if we settle the problem then the lords of Charem promised that we would be greatly compensated.”
“There was no way to escape from Charem and we were also promised a lot of money so we had no choice but to accept the mission. I’d still prefer hunting monsters over this. I will be glad when I don’t need to smell the Sufferers anymore. Besides, we can’t believe that Java bastard. The fellow is always talking nonsense. He might speak differently once this finishes.”
“That’s why Captain firmly negotiated before accepting this mission.”
“Then it is fortunate.”
“Anyway, after this finishes I’m going back to my hometown and resting for 1 year.”
“Me too. In fact, a little while ago I heard that my wife gave birth to a daughter. Huhuhu, I’m going to use my holiday time to visit them. After I return home I’m going to take my wife and daughter to a resort planet.”
Ark looked around blankly. He suddenly felt an ominous feeling while listening to the member’s conversations. But he didn’t notice any particularly strange signs. Ark was uncomfortable because of the contents of the conversations. Anybody who watched a lot of movies or dramas would realize that the person who talked about taking a trip with their family would be killed moments later! There was a 99% chance of them dying. It was a death flag! It was the behavioural pattern of people who would soon die in a movie. Ark felt that feeling after hearing the member’s dialogue.
‘This isn’t a movie or a drama and the well-trained Phoenix had fought against hundreds of Sufferers with no deaths but……’
He was uncomfortable. He suddenly became really uncomfortable.
“Should you be saying something like that when the job isn’t over yet?”
“Alan’s words are correct.”
Kalbern silently nodded his head.
“This elevator is heading to the 39th floor. We don’t know what will happen so you shouldn’t relax. And…..haven’t you guys seen the movies? It is common sense that the people who say things like this would be the first ones to die.”
Kalbern had the same idea as Ark.
“Don’t say anything else. Huhuhu, especially if you want to live longer.”
Kalbern’s words were effective. The squad members all closed their mouths after that. They were quiet as the elevator rushed to the highest level.
-36, 37, 38…….
And shortly before it reached the 39th floor!
“We’ve arrived! We don’t know what is out there so be alert……”
There was a roaring sound and the elevator shook just before it was about to stop.
“Heok! What, what the? What’s going on?”
“Everybody calm down! Clark, what happened?”
“I’m not sure. We seem to have received a strong impact from outside!”
“Damn, the elevator has stopped moving! Engineers, check the elevator’s system!”
Then the roaring sound was heard again. This time the impact was larger than before and the lights went out. Sparks flew all over the place as the elevator was engulfed in darkness. The members hurriedly turned on the flashlights attached to their firearms. Then a black shadow passed by a gap in the ceiling made from the impact just now.
“Captain-nim, there is something out there!”
“I-I don’t know. It was too quick……”
‘It isn’t a Sufferer! It is something else!’
The lights went out so the members with infrared scopes or flashlights wouldn’t have seen it but Ark could see exactly what it was thanks to Clairvoyance. Of course he couldn’t see everything but it definitely wasn’t a Sufferer. It was many times larger than that…..
There was something huge! Kalbern turned around and said.
“Remove your hands from the trigger. If everybody fires bullets blindly then we can die! We need to escape outside here. Engineer, what is your status? It is possible to open the door with manual manipulation?”
“The security is tight so it will take some time!”
“We don’t have time to wait! Right now…..”
There was another roaring sound before Kalbern’s words ended. Then an engineer screamed.
“Oh my god! It is falling! The magnetic levitation device of the elevator shattered!”
They didn’t need to hear the engineer’s report to realize that.
He felt a sinking feeling in his stomach like he was on a huge ride. The elevator was falling to the bottom.
‘Dammit, I knew it felt strange!’
Ark grabbed the walls of the elevator and bit his lip. The group of 30 people was falling from the 30th floor. The impact on their bodies would transcend imagination, especially if they were wearing body armour. They would be smashed to death!
That word echoed through his head.
‘Don’t make me laugh! How much have I struggled so far? Will I lose all my levels and skill proficiency because I’m stuck in this elevator?’
“Clark-nim! One moment!”
Ark raised his head and ran up to Clark. He took out Fading Steel and loaded the Armour Piercing Bullets before aiming at the ceiling.
“Set Bullets Shooting!”
Cheolkeok, cheolkeok, cheolkeok! Pepepeng!
A huge hole was made in a corner of the ceiling. Ark moved to the other side and continuously fired bullets and holes were opened on both sides. Kalbern raised his head and shouted.
“That’s right. Norton, Tiriod, the ceiling!”
“Ohhh! Electromagnetic Hammer!”
Norton and Tiriod swung their hammers and sparks flew. There was a huge noise and the ceiling flew away. Once the ceiling was opened, the sight of flames occurring where the elevator met the rails could be seen. Kalbern looked at the members and yelled with a desperate expression.
“Everybody follow me lead!”
Tutung! Bump! Chwaaaak!
Kalbern manipulated his Nymphe and a wire anchor was shot from his buckle. The anchor tightened around the rail and Kalbern rose up out of the ceiling. Kalbern hung from the rail and quickly became far away.
“There is no time! The elevator will soon crash to the floor! Quickly escape!”
Tutung! Tutung! Tutung!
The remaining members instantly escaped from the elevator using the same method as Kalbern. Clark was manipulating his Nymphe when he flinched and stared at Ark.
“Alan, you. You don’t have this equipment so can you escape? It might be difficult but you can come with me……”
“I am fine. Please escape first!”
“I will believe in you. Follow me immediately!”
Clark then flew out of there. Now Ark was the only remaining one! Ark immediately searched through his bag and took out the Wire Camera. This was why he wanted Clark to escape first. Ark accompanied the squad for three days so he knew about the wire anchor equipment. It was a device for 1 person. If this was a normal situation then it might withstand the weight of 2 people. But in this situation there was a risk that the extra weight would cause the anchor to come loose. Ark knew this so he didn’t take the chance to escape with Clark.
‘There’s no time left. I will soon crash at this speed.’
Ark quickly threw the Wire Camera outside the ceiling. He operated the wire with the Nymphe and was able to wind it around the rail. Ark grabbed the wire and was pulled out of the ceiling. 10 seconds barely passed when he heard a crashing noise underneath his feet.
Kwa kwang! Kwa kwa kwa kwang!
It was the sound of the elevator slamming into the floor.
Ark breathed out while dangling from the wire. 10 seconds. If he delayed for 10 seconds more than he would’ve been crushed like a tomato. Then Kalbern’s desperate voice was heard from the Nymphe.
–Did everyone emerge? Who was the last one out? Report!
–This is Clark. There was only one person remaining when I left!
–Alan, answer us! Are you okay?
“Yes, I’ve escaped!”
The members sighed with relief at Ark’s answer.
-Okay. Everybody is well. But we can’t be relieved yet. There is still that guy that hit the elevator hiding somewhere. And the Sufferers are outside so it is dangerous to move individually. So the plan will change. My present location is near the 27th floor. All members should meet in the middle on the 16th floor……jijijiji……
The Nymphe suddenly started emitting static.
“Captain-nim, what happened? Please respond Captain-nim!
-Something dangerous is happening!
–The member who is closest go and check the Captain’s safety! Who is next to Captain-nim?
–It’s me! I…..heok!
–What’s going on? Hey! Puroki, answer! Damn! Answer!
Shouts continued emerging from the Nymphe. Another member screamed over the Nymphe.
–There is something above me! Something…..something…..an absurd speed….wahhhhh!
Screams echoed like a chain from the Nymphe. He didn’t know what was going on but something was definitely happening. The voices of the Team Leaders turned hysterical as the situation changed.
-Dammit! Check what is going on!
–But it is happening above us! This is an emergency situation! All squad members descend! It will be good if you can hide! Move as quickly as possible!
–Who? Who was it this time?
–I don’t know! I can’t confirm it directly….cough!
–T-that sound…..something is descending at a huge rate from above….wahhhh!
The correspondence with the squad members kept of being cut off. 10 members had already disappeared after screaming.
The elevator shaft shook as the roaring sound was heard again. It was coming from the top! Something was descending at a huge rate. There were flashes from above him and shots started ringing out. But the roaring didn’t stop. The deafening screams got closer to Ark as the communication continued being disrupted.
‘The Phoenix members can’t fight properly but the opponent clearly isn’t ordinary. I don’t know the identity but it clearly isn’t a Sufferer. I can’t fight it while dangling on the wire. First I have to move out of this shaft. No, it will be quicker to descend to the bottom based on my location.’
Ark grabbed the wire attached to the rail. He could tell the monster was quickly descending. He kept on hearing gunshots and screams and he couldn’t tell how many members were left. No, Ark couldn’t do anything even if he grasped that fact.
“Pant pant pant, pant pant pant.”
Ark moved his arm like crazy and climbed down the wire.
-Dammit! This…..heok! T-this is unbelievable!
‘This voice is? Clark! It is Clark!’
Ark flinched and looked up.
–Dammit! Alan, run away! Bring it on you bastard! I am Clark of the Phoenix squad!
Kwa kwa kwa kwang!
Clark’s scream could be heard as an explosion occurred above him. Then no more screams or gunshots could be heard. Clark was the member that escaped just before Ark! It meant that thing descending had slaughtered all the members of the squad.
“Oh my god….how is this….in such a short time…..”
Ark looked up the shaft and stuttered.
There was a moment of hesitation before that ‘thing’ roared again. The explosion this time was only 15 metres away from Ark. And Ark was still dangling from the wire. When considering the speed it was impossible for Ark to run away!
“Damn…..of all things…..a place like this…..”
Ark looked up with a hopeless look. And after a while he could see a black shadow incoming.
Then something wound around Ark’s ankle.