SPACE 4. In That Place
The universal space treaty.
Shortly after the 1st Space War ended, the three powers signed a special treaty. One of the conditions of the treaty was that they were banned from developing technology like the ‘TK’ that would deal tremendous damage to the military of all 3 powers. Another part of the treaty involved unexplored planets. When resources were found on an undeveloped planet that belonged to none of the powers then the right would belong to the nation of the pioneer that first discovered it. This was to avoid an unnecessary war of attrition and to encourage space pioneering. Whoever found it would grasp extravagant wealth and honour! Many pioneers headed to the frontier dreaming of a jackpot. Naturally pioneer villages called Sectors started to form in the Outlands. Irrespective of species! Irrespective of the past! If you have the money then it is OK! This was the location of the space station (Hive). On one hive called Kwain was a tavern.
A woman sighed and frowned. The tavern was filled with cigarette smoke and music. Her ears were tingling from the chaotic, loud noises of aliens drinking alcohol. She usually preferred quiet places so this was a hardship for her.
‘I should end this mission quickly……’
She sat down with a tense expression.
Someone said from behind her. She turned around and saw a man that looked like a gorilla.
“I’ve been watching you just now and I like what I see. I’m Kurakan. If you mention my name in this are then there is no one who doesn’t know it. How about it? Would you like to have a drink with me? Well, it is good if you’re inclined. As you can see I’m a person with a lot of fame.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t have time to play with a gorilla.”
“What, what the? Gorilla?”
“If you are an orangutan then I apologize.”
“H-how dare you…..?”
The gorilla snorted with anger and grabbed her. No, he wanted to grab her.
A muzzle was pressed against the gorilla’s head. The Hive was no different from a lawless zone. Pioneers who didn’t notice this didn’t last long in a place like this. The gorilla realized the situation and immediately raised both arms.
“Eh? You should’ve said if you have a companion…..”
“I don’t want to make a lot of noise so get lost.”
“Yes! Of course!”
The gorilla quickly ran out of the tavern. People in the tavern didn’t even look up at the commotion. That’s because incidents were common in the Hive. The woman turned around after the gorilla left and asked.
“Did you check?”
“The Katz were clearly here.”
The man with the gun answered before sitting down opposite her.
“Are you sure?”
“There is no doubt. According to the testimony of the staff working at the port, the identification code and mark on the side of the transport ship clearly belonged to the galactic federation.”
“You’re speaking in the past tense.”
“I confirmed that they met someone here. But they already left 3 days before we arrived.”
“We’re one step too late.”
The woman sighing was Irina. The reason she came to Kwain was because she received the mission to track down the prisoners who escaped from Stael during the riot. She came across information that they headed to Kwain and tracked them here. However they had already moved to a different location.
“Do you have any other information?”
“There is something slightly strange.”
Her assistant Camel scratched his head.
“According to the staff at the port, there is another species mixed in with the Katz clan. It was a hamster like alien from the Tiny clan.”
“One of the prisoners who collapsed form Stael was from the Tiny clan.”
“I also thought that.”
“But what is strange?”
“That guy handed this to the staff just before the Katz left. He told them to give it to the person looking for him.”
Irina’s face warped after she read the note that Camel gave her.
I have been kidnapped by evil guys!
Specific coordinates were also included.
“What do you think?”
“The hamster like Tiny and the cat like Katz…..”
The corners of Irina’s mouth rose quietly.
“But the coordinates written is weighing on my mind. Do you know? This is where……”
“I’m aware of that. I’m not going to run away because of the location. But the people they met here are weighing on my mind. They might have a different purpose that we don’t know about. Well we have no other information so we’ll go to that location for the moment.”
Irina stood up like she didn’t find it necessary to worry. All of a sudden 4 people interrupted them when they left the tavern.
“Hey, are you just leaving?”
The person in the front was the gorilla Kurakan.
“Didn’t I tell you? I’m a well-known person in Kwain. You’re mistaken if you think you can escape after humiliating me. You’re chicken who just entered the universe and I’ll teach you how scary it can be. Especially you! I will give you 1-on-1 training all night. Hihihihi!”
“This damn gorilla…..!”
Camel growled and grabbed his gun. Irina shook her head and stepped forward.
“It’s okay. I’ll handle this.”
“I also want to relieve stress sometimes.”
Once again, not everyone could join the galactic federation. Several months had passed since Galaxian started its services and they had only sponsored a few young guards. In reality and the game, the competitive rates of joining the government was hundreds to one. And the evaluation criterion was combat! She had been secretly investigating so she hadn’t taken part in the Beltana war but she also passed the test to enter the federation. And she had been promoted to the Ensign rank.
She spoke in a low voice and a long sword came out of her bag. She grabbed the sword and grinned.
A meteor passed by outside the window. At the same time tears fell from Tori’s eyes. It had been a few days since he escaped from Stael. The several days were like literally hell to Tori. He still needed to work on Stael. The Katz also needed to sleep so there were several hours where they didn’t bother Tori. But now they were flying together for 24 hours on a transport ship so the Katz had plenty of time. The result was Tori’s appearance now. Originally Tori was a plump hamster with clean, shiny fur. But now chunks of fur had fallen off and he looked like a chihuahua. Cuts and bruises were also covering multiple places on his skin. This was the result of being the ‘play toy’ of the cats. There was even more. Tori also had to do the chores like preparing meals and cleaning the ship. He spent all days bending over doing chores and he was also the punching bag for stress alleviation.
‘I’m going to die! No, it is better to die!’
Tori had a lot of regrets. But he still had hope.
‘Yes, it is still too early to give up. The federation will definitely dispatch an investigator to examine this matter. That investigator is the only way I can escape from their hands!’
Tori handed a message to the staff at Kwain’s port! Tori had spent his lifetime adventuring. While the Katz were meeting with some people, Tori managed to find a piece of paper and left a message with the staff. It would be noticed in the near future.
‘Help me! I believe you’re out there! Please save me!’
The hamster’s prayer also continued today. In order to escape from the hands of the devilish cats…..
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Ark sighed and looked around. A large number of people were erecting hasty buildings. This was the shocking scene that Ark saw from the top of the hill. Ark’s destination was Mt. Fargo. There was a small village at the base of the mountain. But there was no information about a sector when he searched Nabe’s library. Of course, not all sectors in the Outlands were formally registered. In games users would gravitate to dungeons or hunting grounds. In those places, merchants and user related NPCs would naturally swarm to create a village. That was how an informal sector was created. The problem was the location of the village.
‘Mt. Fargo is the location of the hidden Murat ruins. It can’t be a coincidence that a village is created here. Their purpose might be the Murat ruins as well!’
Ark felt his heart drop at the thought. When he thought about it, there was no guarantee that Ark was the only one to obtain clues about the Murat ruins. If they were also after the Murat ruins then all his efforts might be for nothing. However…..
“It is this.”
A bearded, middle aged man lifted a small stone. It was a stone with a strange texture and faint purple circles could be seen on the surface.
“This isn’t a simple stone. It also isn’t metal. It is something like a gallstone?”
“Eh? Gallstone? The one that forms in the body?”
“Yes, because it is made from the body of a monster. Of course it isn’t a conventional gallstone. Only one out of thousands of monsters will create this stone. Researchers who investigated determined that high density energy will accumulate in the bodies of monsters that have lived for a long time to create this stone. So they called them gallstones. But that is an unrelated matter to a technician like me. The most important thing to me is the best materials to fuse the stone with.”
“Is this the first time you’re hearing about it? Well, it isn’t a common technology yet.”
The middle aged man scratched his beard and said.
“This has worked out great. I just received a request for a fusion operation. Seeing is worth more than a thousand words. Seeing it directly will be faster than explaining it to you.”
The middle aged man smiled and took out two swords from a bag. He placed the swords in the left and right side of an unusual looking machine before placing the stone in the middle. The switch was pressed and sparks flew. Soon one sword and the stone decomposed and small light particles moved along a glass tube. And it was drawn towards the sword on the right side.
The man took out the sword. He evaluated it before laughing with satisfaction.
“It came out pretty well. Why don’t you examine it?”
|-Camas’ Sword (Magic) +1
Item Type: Long Sword Wearer Restriction: Level 75
Attack: 45~55 Durability: 60/60
Camas’ Sword is a common sword made by the Camas company.
In an age where firearms and explosives are common on the frontier, Camas lovingly produces a traditional sword and the top level craftsmanship means it is used by countless pioneers. In the hands of an outstanding warrior, Camas’ Sword is worth more than hundreds of other swords.
<Agility +20, Stamina +15>
* The performance has been improved through fusion technology.
Attack: + 10% Durability: +40
* A special effort has been given through the success of the fusion.
Added Special Effect: Shock damage +5
“How is it? Isn’t it good?”
The man said with a conceited expression.
“This is fusion technology. This technology fuses two weapons into one and improves the performance. The quality of the stone is more important than the materials. The improved performance will vary depending on the quality of the stone. This time I used swords. However it is also possible to use guns, armour or equipment.”
“That means…..it is possible to receive the stones from the monsters here?”
“To be exact, it is from that cave.”
The man pointed to the mountain in front of him. There were quite a few caves seen among the grey rocks.
“I don’t know the reason but the monsters in those caves are highly likely to drop the stones. Well, it is still only a few hundred but that is dozens of times more than monsters in other areas. Do you now understand why pioneers are flocking here?”
“In order to obtain the stone?”
“Are there any other reasons? This stone is a fairly rare material. The price will be quite considerable. Even if there are plenty of players here, the income is a lot better. Well that isn’t necessarily true these days.”
“It is due to those guys.”
The middle aged man pointed with an irate expression to a large building on the slope of the mountain. It was different from the other hastily built ones and was made with garish metal. It was a military base with the mark of a shield on the side, the symbol of one of the 4 large companies Lauis.
“The large company also come to gather the stones?”
“They say it is to study.”
“Like I said a short while ago, the stone is made by high density energy gathering inside the body of a monster. In other words, it means that high density energy exists in this area. That is their purpose. There is high density energy somewhere in that mountain. Therefore a lode might exist.”
“Is it really because of the lode?”
“Damn, who cares about the lode. Those dogs. Their purpose is the stones. A lot of stones are appearing in one area. They might be using research as an excuse but the only they’re here is to monopolize the stones. They gathered troops here under the name of research. The pioneers are also after the stones. Fortunately I’m able to live thanks to this industry. But I’m barely breaking even. Dammit, are the large companies that great?”
The middle aged man raised his middle finger and cursed at the research centre.
“Anyway, keep this in mind if you’re going to stay here for a while. In fact, the Lauis technicians aren’t that special. The Lauis fees are crazy expensive and their fusion enhancements aren’t that great. Do you understand? If you want fusion technology then come find me. The performance will greatly improve depending on the technician’s skill. Please pay attention to that. Oh, I buy stones as well as sell general items and repairs. So stop by often. You can trust Hammer Industries.”
“I will keep it in mind.”
The president of Hammer Industries had shown him a Gallstone! It was a type of gemstone used to enhance the performance of an item. There was no need to explain the value of reinforcement in online games. When considering that an item needed to be sacrificed, it might not be worth it. Some people might thank being an item of a higher grade would be better. But there were also level restrictions on items. No matter what type of powerful weapon users got their hands on, it was useless if they were too low levelled to use it. However, using a gallstone enabled them to use a similar weapon but at a suitable level for them. Every synthesis would increase damage by 7~12%. Even a normal weapon could become better than a high level weapon if synthesis was repeated. Then it would become a unique item.
And like the weapon that the technician showed, sometimes special options could be added. Any user would covet an item like that! This was a reason a village formed at the base of Mt. Fargo. It was different if Ark was looking for the gallstones like other users. But Ark hadn’t come here for the gallstones. Therefore there were a lot of unnecessarily noisy users wandering around town.
‘Dammit! Why did the gallstones show up here?’
Ark angrily thought as he looked around.
“Various japtem sold cheaply! These japtem are good materials to be used for fusion!”
“Recruiting a party! We will be recruiting a party for an expedition tomorrow! One spot left!”
There were various users selling items at street stalls or recruiting party members. Probably those users were going into the cave to gather the gallstones.
‘My purpose is the Murat ruins but…..’
Hundreds of users were scattered around. Their purpose was the gallstones. Even if they were looking for the gallstones, it was impossible to look for the Murat ruins with them around. That place was like a treasure warehouse for users. There was also a risk of them discovering the ruins. When considering the number of users already gathered at Mt. Fargo, that possibility was very high. Of course, he hadn’t heard any rumours about ruins being discovered here. But that wasn’t proof that the ruins hadn’t been robbed. If someone found the place then they might hide it so they could monopolize it.
‘……But it’s still too early to give up.’
Ark took a deep breath and rearranged his heart.
‘There is no way to verify if someone has found the ruins. The only way is to directly search the ruins. The result will be the same. So I don’t need to think about it in advance. I shouldn’t become pessimistic before I even start. Yes, let’s think positively. There is a possibility the ruins haven’t been found yet. Even if they found it, they might not have discovered the relics that I desire.’
There was a reason for that. It was based on the contents of the slab.
‘The slab says that only the descendant of the Murat can reach the ruins. Therefore a special condition was required to reach it. In Charem I needed the Shire to open the meteorite. What? Why do I need to worry about other users? No, it is better not to worry about the result. I need to search through every corner of Mt. Fargo to find the ruins. If I meet any monsters then I also might obtain the gallstones.’
Ark was a positive human.
‘Anyway, now isn’t the time to be thinking about this. I can’t find the Murat ruins or gallstones sitting here. I have to enter the cave first.’
It was good for a human to be diligent. Every minute and second was valuable after identifying the situation. Every second he wasted increased the chances of the ruins being discovered.
“By the way, where did he go?”
Ark muttered in an irate voice and looked around. After entering the village, Milan had separate to look for more information. But 30 minutes had passed and he hadn’t returned to the arranged meeting spot. 5 more minutes passed before Milan returned.
“You, what on earth were you doing?”
“I’m sorry. I ran across something puzzling.
“That is…..that is to say…..”
“Hey! Who do you think I am?”
It happened when Milan was about to open his mouth. A chilly voice spoke from behind and Milan stuttered.
One man was approaching Milan. He was wearing heavy armour and he glared as he saw Ark.
“Did you think I wouldn’t know? I was suspicious as soon as I saw someone running away but who would’ve expected to meet you in a place like this.”
“What happened? Are you shocked speechless? It is natural. You followed Marquis Martin like a puppy to Beltana and you probably thought you would never see me again. But you can’t escape me forever.”
Ark’s eyes that had been staring absentmindedly suddenly widened.
“Yes, you! That’s right! I remembered after hearing about Beltana. Don’t I know you?”
“What? Y-you bastard! You don’t know me?”
“I remember! I mean….well….your name…..”
Ark clapped and shouted. And Valencia glared at Ark with a bright red face. Ark made a really hateful expression and laughed.
“Your face doesn’t look the same. Did you feel so bad after your demotion that you lost weight? How could I have recognized you?”
In fact, Ark was inwardly quite puzzled. Ark never imagined that he would meet Valencia in a place like this. No, in fact Ark had forgotten about Valencia until now. Ark would forget about someone once he repaid his grudge. And he quickly remembered after seeing Valencia again.
–Valencia was the leader of the 1st armoured platoon on Beltana.
–I unknowingly aggravated someone with a high rank. But I paid him back with interest.
–I don’t need to worry about that guy now.
It wasn’t nice of him but he used their hostile relationship to make Valencia explode with anger. Ark looked like a cool character next to Valencia.
‘Damn, I have no capital. Why did I have to meet that guy now?’
He might’ve lost his position once the bribes from prisoners were discovered but Valencia was once the leader of the 1st armoured platoon which meant he was a great user. Ark defeated him on Beltana by using a nuclear explosion, not directly fighting him. He got that position for a reason. He hated to admit it but Valencia’s equipment, level and skills meant he was a lot stronger than Ark. But that was the him on Beltana. It had already been a month since the war on Beltana ended. Ark’s level, equipment and skills weren’t the same as before. Now he wouldn’t be pushed that easily.
‘The problem is what happens next.’
Ark needed to be here until he found the Murat ruins. In such a situation he would be tired whether he won or lost against Valencia.
‘It can’t be helped. It has to be this!’
Ark worried for a while before turning his body.
“You should be happy meeting me after a long time. How you been well in the meantime? Well, I would like to discuss our memories but I’m slightly busy right now. Let’s mend our fences.”
“If you walk away then I’ll shoot a hole in the back of your head.”
……It didn’t work.
Ark sighed and slowly turned his body again.
“So, what now?”
“You still don’t understand? Shouldn’t we settle this between you and me?”
Valencia grabbed a rod attached to his waist. And a red light vertically rose up from it. It was the beam sword that often appeared in SF movies. It was an expensive weapon.
“What? A fight?”
“Ohh, is that a beam sword? Isn’t this worth watching?”
People flocked around once Valencia took out the beam sword. It was a village in the Outlands. It wasn’t even formally registered as a sector. There weren’t any guards. This place was no different from a lawless area.
‘Do I have no choice?’
Now the battle was inevitable. If he couldn’t avoid it then he didn’t want to show a weak side.
“Won’t you regret this?”
Ark answered coolly.
“That’s enough Hyung-nim!”
Milan who had been watching with uneasy eyes suddenly cried out.
“Don’t you know? Valencia was the leader of the armoured platoon! He isn’t an opponent that Hyung-nim can win against! Cut it out! You’ll die! I can’t watch Hyung-nim be beaten to a pulp!”
Milan had lost his will before the battle even started. He lowered his head to Valencia and said in a tearful tone.
“Captain Valencia-nim, I’m very sorry! I don’t know what happened between the two of you but I apologize on Hyung-nim’s behalf! Please forget this just once! Please!”
It was embarrassing just seeing it. But he could understand Milan’s attitude. Milan had been pardoned and left Beltana before Ark formed the Royal Guards. Therefore he didn’t know about the hostile relationship between Ark and Valencia. Milan only knew Valencia as the captain of the armoured platoon. Milan thought of Valencia as someone a mere prisoner couldn’t defeat. Milan had travelled together with Ark though the Outlands so he knew Ark was strong. He also knew that Ark was Beltana’s Hero. Yet he didn’t think that a prisoner like Ark could deal with Valencia. Milan had been on Beltana for longer than Ark so he was intimidated by the opponent called Valencia.
“Hyung-nim, Hyung-nim will apologize as well! Yes?”
“This bastard! What are you talking about? That isn’t the case at all. Besides……”
Ark pulled Milan’s collar and looked at Valencia.
“That guy won’t leave even if I apologize.”
“Like I said, you will regret it.”
Valencia stepped forward with his beam sword. Ark also pulled out the Impact Sword and took one defiant step towards him. They both stepped forward until the gap narrowed.
A loud voice cried out from behind. Valencia flinched and turned around with a frightened look. At that time, someone in a robe walked out from the crowd of bystanders. The face couldn’t be seen because of the hood but a blue light was shining inside. The man in the robe reached Valencia and murmured in a low voice.
“I told you to refrain from personal behaviour.”
“The command is absolute.”
The robed man declared sharply. The surprising thing was Valencia’s reaction. He was still staring at Ark but he turned off the beam sword and placed it back on his waist.
‘Who is this guy? He looks like an NPC but why would Valencia obey like a puppy when the NPC speaks? What is their relationship?’
Then the robed man turned towards Ark.
“I’m sorry. Valencia is a member of my party. I don’t know what problems are between the two of you but can you leave it like this?”
“He is the one who started it first……”
Ark answered the robed man with a doubting expression. Milan quickly ran forward and lowered his head.
“Thank you! Thank you very much!”
Really, this brat……
“Then let’s put this in order. He won’t cause you trouble again.”
The robed man nodded and turned. Valencia stared at Ark but followed after the robed man.
‘I’m feeling somewhat uncomfortable……’
Ark looked at their retreating backs and frowned.
‘That robed man is suspicious but Valencia following him obediently is even more suspicious. Is he possibly participating in a quest with the robed man? No matter what, Valencia isn’t the type to retreat with a few words.’
There was something there. He had such an idea. Besides, the robed man said he wouldn’t cause trouble in the future but Ark didn’t believe that. Ark couldn’t believe the words of the robed man. And this was Valencia. Who knows when he would try to stab Ark in the back with the beam sword?
‘Despite that, why did we have to meet again?’
He had an ominous feeling that the path to finding the Murat ruins wouldn’t be smooth. But right now he had different worries.
“Sheesh, what the? Is that the end?”
“We were looking forward to a fight! What a waste of time.”
“That guy kept on cringing. If a battle started then the result will be clear.”
“Didn’t that guy just show his belly? I turned red just watching him.”
…….He was embarrassed.
The robed man muttered in a low voice. Valencia sighed and nodded.
“I’m sorry. That guy just makes me so angry…..”
“Is it a grudge?”
“Yes, there were some incidents before.”
The man stopped moving. An eerie smile was revealed as the man pulled down his hood.
“All those blinded by greed who gathered here will die soon.”