SPACE 5. Turan the Hawk
Ark couldn’t stop laughing. The scene of Irina smiling brightly in his head replayed in an infinite loop.
“I’ll be waiting for your call, waiting for you call……your call……call……
Irina has kept her promise. He talked to her on the phone in the evening. There wasn’t any special talk. Neither Ark nor Irina brought up the subject of the Taek Mountains real estate. They didn’t even talk about Ark’s confession in the morning. Subjects were things like eating well etc. They just talked about the obvious. If it was a conversation with anyone else then he probably would’ve hung up after 5 minutes. However it was different if the person was someone Ark had feelings for. Several hours had passed before he realized.
“Ah, it is already this time?”
–Are you tired?
“That’s not it. I’m just worried there will be a burden on the phone bill.”
–I have an unlimited plan.
Cheers for the carrier! Cheers for the unlimited plan! He rejoiced after hearing the words unlimited plan. There was no special talk. They repeated a lot of subjects. However Ark was able to learn a lot more about her when talking about such obvious subjects.They had ended the call 3 hours ago and Ark connected to Galaxian after 2 hours of sleep. But he didn’t feel tired at all.
‘My energy is overflowing! I have plenty of motivation!’
Adrenaline + dopamine were surging in his brain. A dying person could gain power because of love.
‘Huhuhu! I’m invincible! Now I’m invincible!’
However there were some people who felt threatened by Ark’s new guise.
“H-hey, is that okay?”
“I can’t believe that is Hyung-nim. What happened?”
“He doesn’t look ordinary right now. He is laughing while dripping saliva. Doesn’t it seem like he is going to attack us?”
“D-don’t say that! It is scary!”
Milan and Hegel said while gawking at Ark. They were staring at Ark sitting in the captain’s seat. He was a giant spider monster called the Myutal. Ark would randomly turn into the Myutal as a side effect of the Mix-up. The duration of the Myutal transformation ranged from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Therefore Milan and Hegel kept on tasting death. Milan and Hegel were in charge of the Silver Star while Tori remained in S-20. The captain’s seat was directly behind them so it felt like a monster was threatening them every time Ark changed into a Myutal. The situation this time was much more serious. The warp duration was 15 hours. So the other team members went to the cabins to relax as soon as they left Istana. The only ones on the bridge were Milan, Hegel and the captain Ark. Now Ark had turned into a Myutal and was dripping saliva.
‘Is Hyung-nim sane right now? Is his mind normal when his body is in this state? What if he goes crazy and attacks us?’
‘We can’t be careless!’
Therefore there was an atmosphere of tense suspense in the bridge. But Ark had no interest in that tension. No, he was unaware that he had even turned into a Myutal. Ark only learned about it after 10 minutes had passed.
“Hah, we still haven’t arrived? Space travel is fairly……ack!”
Slayer entered while yawning.
“A-Ark? Sheesh that surprised me.”
“You’re currently a monster.”
Slayer replied as he released his hand from the greatsword. Shortly after starting the warp travel, Ark had introduced the team members to each other before they entered sleep mode. The team would be together for the next month. So communication between the users was indispensable! Except for Melina, users like Slayer, Leon, Sadain, Park, Kaya and Kurakan were university students. They were all in their mid-20s like Ark. So they agreed to speak informally with each other to be more comfortable.
“I almost involuntarily attacked you.”
“Having one Ellain is enough.”
“Yes, I don’t want to be like him. By the way, I haven’t seen him since the journey started?”
“He is lying in the infirmary. Because he is weak to ships.”
Ellain automatically swung his sword every time Ark turned into a Myutal. However the Kusan’s strongest warrior started vomiting as soon as the Silver Star started flying. After that he started getting treatment in the infirmary. That was actually a good thing. That guy had hit Ark a few times in the head. Thanks to the space motion sickness, Ark couldn’t get hit by him anymore.
“Are we there yet?”
“We’re almost there.”
Ark and Slayer started chatting. Then the team members started gathering on the bridge one by one.
“Good morning! I’m well rested…..oh!”
“Woo! I spend a long time drinking with my friends yesterday…..ack!”
“Eh? Did everybody wake up early? I…..ah!”
They all screamed when they started to greet Ark. Milan who had been looking at the dashboard turned around and shouted.
“We will exit warp space soon!”
“Ohh! At last!”
The 15 hours warp travel had ended. The eyes of the team gathered on the bridge widened with expectation as particles of light swirled and the Silver Star exited the dimensional portal into outer space. A structure with hundreds of lights appeared in front of them. It was a huge metallic structure with multiple layers.
-Turan the Hawk!
The structure was lit up with laser lights that formed words.
‘Turan the Hawk? Then the owner of this hive…..’
Ark was staring blanking at Turan when there was the noise of a communication connection.
-The identification code had been recognized, Captain of the Silver Star Ark who belongs to the galactic federation. Welcome. The Silver Star will be delivered in accordance with the instructions of Sir Hawk. The control code is Turan-10939. Please enter the code and switch your ship to remote control mode. We will control it from here.
Milan turned his head. He started busily moving his hands after Ark nodded. The Silver Star starting moving towards Turan like it was attracted by a magnet.
This time a sigh poured out. In fact, Ark was quite excited these days. In the beginning he was just wandering around but then his goal became to form an agent. Then a sector and a ship! Not just anyone could have a sector or a ship. Currently there were only 80 sectors on Istana. However 60% of them were controlled by the 4 large companies. The remaining 40% belonged to users. One of them was S-20. It was Ark’s sector. Of course it was difficult in the beginning due to funding and other problems. But now that he had the support of the Laius company, the sector could reach an intermediate level. Ark had started various profitable businesses so it felt like he was progressing.
‘Now I’m a top ranked user!’
He had no doubt about that when he left S-20. But that belief flew away when he reached Turan. Turan was situation on the outskirts of the Igracia constellation and was similar to the size of the Yeouido area. However it wasn’t a big lump like a galaxy. Turan was a hive, a space station equipped with various state of the art facilities! Ark saw dozens of ships entering and leaving Turan. This huge hive belonged to a user, not a NPC!
‘I heard that Hawk was part of the Seven Swords and one of the strongest users in Galaxian.’
Commoners and tycoons! Commoners and nobles! That was the gap between Ark and Hawk. But Hawk wasn’t the only one who killed Ark’s beliefs.
Ku ku ku ku! Ku ku ku ku!
Shortly after the Silver Star landed. Another ship entered the range of the airfield control tower.
“What? That ship is? Who the hell is riding that ship?”
Ark’s eyes popped out as he witnessed the spaceship. The size of the ship was double the Silver Star! The hull was covered with thick armour like a turtle shell and sharp points attached. To his surprise the man departing from the ship was Mario!
Mario turned his head after hearing Ark’s voice. He flinched and retreated as he saw Ark who was still in the Myutal state.
“Ah, it’s me Ark. The circumstances……”
“Ark-nim? Aha! This must be a side effect of Mix-up.”
Mario recognized Ark’s state with just a look. Ark scratched his head with his claws and nodded.
“It’s fortunate that you noticed.”
“Wow! As expected of Ark-nim. Few users even know about Mix-up let alone have the facilities and researchers required to use the technique.”
Ark had realized it some time ago.
“Sometimes players would list biological tissues at cheap price at the auction house. Huhuhu! They don’t realize how good biological tissue is for raising a skill rating. The research skill might seem obsolete in the beginning but it is actually a fraudulent skill. Biological tissue can raise research skill so it can be sold at an unbelievably expensive price. It is also possible to get a DNA sample for Mix-up. Yet users are selling it to the stores or on auction houses for just a few coppers.”
Ark had also been the same until a short while ago. He hadn’t known and had sold dozens of biological tissue to stores! He only recently discovered the uses for it
“As expected from Ark-nim who received the Hero title, you are aware of this information even though you are a warrior. You definitely aren’t ordinary.”
This brat, making him sick and then giving him medicine.
“Did you prepare the Mix-up solution yourself? I knew it. Merchants who know about it are monopolizing the information so that the biological tissue prices don’t go up. Therefore the Mix-up solution hasn’t been sold yet. Ark-nim is a warrior yet you directly manufactured the Mix-up yourself. The facilities and researchers required for this is really no joke. Hehehe, please take care of me from now on. By the way, where are Ark-nim’s subordinates?”
Ark pointed towards Slayer. Mario looked at them with confusion.
“Eh? Ah, those people?”
“Yes. 6 of them are more friends than subordinates but……”
“Ah, well, that’s right.”
Mario nodded with a slightly embarrassed expression. While Ark was suspicious of his response, a middle aged man approached from behind Mario.
“Mario-nim, all team members have disembarked.”
Ark’s mouth gaped open. The man with thick scars on his face was obviously a soldier. He seemed to be a veteran with considerable experience. But the reason Ark was impressed was his equipment. He wore incredibly thick armour like a robot and carried high grade energy pulse weapons. The warrior was obviously more than level 100. The middle aged warrior wasn’t the only one. It was like the soldier had been Crtl+C and Crtl+V as 30 similar soldiers lined up. Mario’s team truly had the feel of elite warriors. Ark’s team members compared to that……
“Wow! This place is a hive!”
“It is the first time I’ve seen this.
The space frontier really is different from Istana.”
“Don’t look around restlessly. You’re making me embarrassed.”
“This is also your first time entering the universe. Don’t try to pretend.”
They were looking around like they were from the country. Slayer and Kaya’s party were still okay. They might not have experience in the frontier but they were still users who made a name for themselves on Istana. They might be looking around like a person from the country but their equipment and levels weren’t inferior to Mario’s team. However the Royal Guards were different. Currently the Royal Guards were level 80~90. They weren’t low levelled NPCs. But they embraced their CEO’s motto of being thrifty and only wore level 50 equipment. In the eyes of others they were only level 50 NPCs. In other words, the users were rustic while the NPCs were shabby. That’s why Mario was confused.
“Hahaha, the outward appearance isn’t important. It doesn’t matter how good the equipment if their skills are useless. Ark is a user who received the Hero title. If you brought these warriors then they certainly must have skill. Isn’t that right Turai?”
The guy called Turai nodded. He stepped towards Ark and said.
“I am Turai. I am in charge of Mario’s security forces. Ark-nim’s reputation is well known. I hope to receive your guidance in this mission.”
His tone was polite but his eyes were laughing when he looked at Ark’s team. There was no respect! No, it was a look that said he was going to ignore them!
‘Damn, if I knew then I would’ve brought a change of clothing……’
Just as Ark was thinking this.
“I heard your name was Mario.”
Two people approached Mario and said. Ark reflexively turned and felt immediately ill. The people approaching Mario were Valencia and Rapid. More spaceships seemed to have arrived while they were talking.
“Am I Mario?”
“You were stuck next to Ark when I saw you at the federation headquarters. I’ll tell you something. He isn’t an excellent guy like you think. He only received the title of Beltana’s Hero because of luck. Don’t expect anything from this guy. If you don’t follow my advice then you might be involved in an unfortunate accident.”
“Huh? No, that…..”
Mario studied his face with a confused expression. Then a monster standing in front of Mario approached Valencia and said.
“Eh? That is different from the words I heard the other day? Ark became Beltana’s Hero because he blew up the Rama’s headquarters with the help of his colleagues. In the process some guy tried to intercept all of Ark’s achievements. I heard the name of that person was Valencia. Oh that reminds me, isn’t your name Valencia? Then aren’t you that person? Why are you wandering around spreading malicious gossip?”
Valencia’s face darkened. He stared at the monster in front of him with confusion.
“What? Who are you?”
Then the monster transformed back into Ark. Great timing! Ark sent him a large grin.
“Ark, the one you tried to steal all the achievements from!”
Valencia scowled and drew his lightsaber. As expected, Ark reacted badly to Ark! Ark also drew his sword. No, he was about to draw his sword when shadows leaped between them.
Sparks burst in every direction!
“I won’t forgive anyone who is rude to God’s Messenger!”
The one who blocked Valencia’s lightsaber was Ellain, the Kusan’s strongest warrior. Valencia frowned at Ellain’s appearance.
“What the, who are you?”
“I am a warrior of the Kusan clan, Ellain! God’s messenger Ark-nim……serve…..ugh!”
Ellain stumbled with a sweaty expression. And the next moment!
“G-get out of the way! Blerghhhh!”
His mouth gaped open and he vomited! Ellain still had symptoms of the space motion sickness. Valencia was surprised by the unimaginable attack (?) and retreated but he was too late to avoid the vomit. Valencia’s face warped as he looked at the sticky liquid coating his equipment.
“T-this bastard dares……I’m going to kill you!”
A group of people stepped forward. They were wearing uniformed soldiers and were Turan’s guards.
“We won’t tolerate any acts of combat in Turan. If you ignore our warnings and continue to fight then we will take action. You will also be deprived of the qualification to participate in the investigation team.”
Rapid who had been standing quietly then said in a low voice. Valencia stepped back at those words.
“You should heed my advice.”
He spat towards Mario before turning around. Mario scratched his head with an annoyed expression and turned to Ark.
“So…..I have to go greet other people. Oh, this is medicine for motion sickness. If that friend eats it then he should feel better in a few days.”
He handed over the medicine to the motion sickness and ran over to other members of the investigation team. He probably didn’t want to be involved for no reason.
“Eat this and lie down.”
Ark gave Ellain the medicine as he looked at the retreating Valencia and Rapid. They were also meeting other members of the team. They probably intended to warn against Ark like they did with Mario. That way Ark would be isolated and their plot would succeed more easily. Of course, the current was divided into the military and political faction. But this mission would last for 1 month on the frontier. There was no telling how the relationships would change. They were split into two sides but they weren’t forcefully opposed to the other side like the nobles were. Anything could happen depending on their interests and the situation. In this situation Ark was being thoroughly marked from the beginning. It would be difficult for him to get close to the users on the side of the military faction.
Ark sighed as he looked at the team.
‘Was I thinking too lightly of this mission?’
The users and NPCs in his group were relatively high levelled! Ark thought that this power was enough not to be bullied by anyone. However he could only sigh after seeing all the troops in the area. They were all comparable to Mario’s team. Valencia and Rapid were wandering around giving advice and threats to teams of considerable standards. When he thought about it, the 3,000 gold deposit money was meant for such preparations. But the amount of money Ark used to prepare for this was 900 gold. The difference in investment was revealed by the difference in power.
‘No, it isn’t merely the difference in investment. My thinking has been too narrow. Istana might be the centre of the federation but it is just the starting point of the game. Even the battlefields on Beltana and Athamas mainly consisted of NPCs. Users are mainly on the space frontier. It is where the high level users of the 3 powers are gathered. In other words, Istana is the minor league while the space frontier is the major league. It means the users and NPCs would be much higher levelled. It is natural that I wasn’t included on the game exclusive news TOP 50 ranking.’
He had to swim in deeper waters. Ark painfully realized it with this meeting. And the user who reigned as one of the most powerful 7 users was Hawk! Ark thought up to there.
“Hawk is arriving! Stand in line!”
The guards in the squad quickly took a formation. Suddenly a blue light appeared at the end of the line of soldiers.
‘T-that light? And that hexagonal platform……’
Sparks started swirling around the light. At the same time the space distorted and a door formed. Its identity was the Star Gate!
‘Star Gate? Oh my god! It really is a Star Gate!’
So far Ark had only seen Star Gates that moved between cities on Istana and the planets of the federation. But this was a hive on the space frontier. A Star Gate was located a hive that a mere user owned. The scene of a Star Gate on a user-owned hive had a large impact on Ark. Ark had thought of Istana and the space frontier as separate spaces. But there were virtually no restrictions on the distance of the Star Gate. It was subject to some restrictions of course but it could have huge effects when utilized correctly. However Ark was the only one surprised. The other members of the team didn’t show any changes in their expressions.
‘I really was like a frog in a well.’
Meanwhile 10 soldiers walked through the Star Gate. They were the warriors he had seen in federation headquarters 4 days ago. They joined the ranks of guards lining up as a man walked through the gate. The one-eyed man wearing a cloak with a blue skeleton on it was Hawk!
“Everybody, attention! Salute our Lord!”
Cheolkeok, cheolkeok, cheolkeok! Jajang, jajang, jajang!
100 swords and guns soared into the air. Hawk’s appearance as he strode between them was majestic! Hawk entered the front of the square and examined the investigation team members. Then he looked at a warrior near him and asked.
“Harley, are all the members here?”
“Yes, 20 members received the invitation. It has been confirmed that all of them arrived. Each team brought between 15 and 40 people. There are a total of 621 people.”
“Which team brought the fewest members?”
“It is Ark.”
Hawk smiled as he looked at Ark’s team. However his face soon returned to its cold expression and he said.
“It must’ve been tough coming here. You have now formally joined the galactic federation’s 2nd investigation team. But I won’t remember your names. Because the name of soon to be dead warriors aren’t worth remembering. If you want me to remember your name then bring results. Your value will be determined depending on the results. Harley.”
Harley pulled out a sphere the size of a fist. He threw in into the square and a light shot up, forming a 3D image. It was a map of the galaxy showing various marked areas in the frontier.
The map had 1 blue marker and 20 red markers scattered around.
“The blue marker is this place, Turan. And the red markers are where the 1st investigation team indicates that there might be information.”
Hawk explained as he looked at the galaxy map.
“The primary investigation has examined the Harmadon constellation where the circle was created. And a special mineral was found on 5 planets that is believed to be the fuel used for the magic circle. So far that mineral has been identified on a total of 23 planets in the Harmadon constellation. Those planets are these red markers. However, the primary investigation team has been exposed to the Aschulat and Rama so it is difficult for them to explore it directly. That is why we’re gathered in Turan and not joining the 1st investigation team. Your first task is to investigate the planets with the red markers.”
Then a member raised their hand and asked.
“Then where will we start the search from?”
Hawk laughed and replied.
“There are 23 different planets so won’t it take too much time if we search together? We will do it simultaneously. All 23 planets at the same time.”
“You mean the team will be divided?”
“Why else do you think I asked each person to gather their own team? Unlike the 1st investigation team, one person is one team. And the pioneer in charge of the unit is outstanding enough to receive a recommendation from nobles. Am I wrong? Are you someone who needs the help of another person to wipe your nose?”
The members murmured with dissatisfaction. The investigation team were all gathered in one place. So of course they thought it was a joint mission. It was the reason why Mario and the other members met in the federation headquarters and Turan. A joint mission was more advantageous. And a certain amount of relationship with the federation could be built. Yet Hawk was splitting them all up.
“You seem to be mistaking something. This isn’t a request but a command. I have been entrusted with the leadership of the investigation team by the Emperor of the galactic federation. Anybody who is dissatisfied can leave at any time.”
Hawk sent the members a cold look.
“And this mission is a type of test. You guys might’ve made a name for yourselves in some areas but I don’t know your skills yet. Therefore I will judge your quality based on the results of this mission. If you want to raise your achievements then you should show a good performance in this mission.”
“How will you decide what planets we explore?”
“Harley, give it to me.”
Hawk turned to Harley and commanded. Then Harley approached with a box with a hole in the top.
“There are 23 memories in this box. It shows the appropriate location. The coordinates and details of the mission on the planet will be included in the memory. The person chooses a memory and will go to that planet to perform the task. The same goes for me as well. You guys will select the 20 planets first and the remaining 3 will be my share. This is a precaution against spies from other powers but you never know……”
Hawk glanced at the members.
“This is also to prevent wasteful competition.”
Several members looked uncomfortable at those words. Valencia was one of those avoided Hawk’s eyes. A corner of Hawk’s mouth lifted as he saw it.
“Like I said in federation headquarters, I don’t care what nobles think of you. My concern is that the success of this mission will be ruined by disturbed by someone. So just do what I tell you!”
Hawk firmly said. As expected from one of the Seven Swords. Or should he say one of the strongest 7 users? The members in the square froze at Hawk’s intimidating expression.
‘He isn’t my favourite type but……’
He didn’t like condescending people. No, to be honest they made his stomach hurt. Ark had barely managed to hold on to his sector. Yet Hawk reigned over a hive that had a Star Gate. That wasn’t the only reason why he distrusted Hawk. Ark had felt something suspicious about him the first time they met. But Hawk’s approach was favourable for Ark.
‘The team will be scattered among different planets for the mission. I won’t get help but I don’t need to worry about any interference!’
He had been nervous about the presence of Valencia and Rapid. At least this meant he didn’t need to worry about them for this mission. The same goes for other units. In addition it would be difficult for Ark to gain achievements on a joint mission. But it was difficult when it was an individual mission.
‘Huhuhu! I’ll show everybody. Mario in particular! How dare you look at my team like that? You’ll see soon. And Valencia, Rapid and Hawk. I’ll let you know why I’m Ark!’
Ark’s joy was Valencia’s depression. Valencia frowned as he picked a memory. Ark also picked a memory from the box Harley held.
“Now, let’s go!”
Ark said as he turned around. Slayer’s group, Kaya’s group and the Royal Guards followed him back to the Silver Star. After a while 20 ships left Turan and scattered in different directions. This was the start of the 2nd investigation team’s mission.
“Is it working properly?”
After all unit ships had left the airfield. Hawk asked as he looked at the partition wall that showed space. Harley manipulated the metal sphere and a galaxy map with 20 points appeared. The 20 points were moving towards a red marker. They were the ships that had just departed.
“Yes, all 20 are functioning normally.”
“Those naive guys.”
Hawk laughed and muttered.
“Although that does make them easier to handle. Then where is Ark?”
“He is on route to O-5440. It is a C-ranked risk planet designated as Impeltus.”
“A C-ranked risk planet is suitable. Send the information out as scheduled.”
Hawk turned his body and said with a pleasant smile. Then Harley said with a cautious expression.
“Is it necessary to do that? In some cases it might cause difficult problems. Even if you don’t like the guy I would rather we……”
“Didn’t I say it? This is a test.”
“Yes, a test. As you said I can step on him at any time. But a fight between pioneers isn’t something that can be won by defeating the opponent once. The true winner is the one who knocks them down at the end. I need to determine the enemy’s ability in order to win such a long fight. And I will determine that with this mission. If he has the skill to be worthy of being my enemy.”
Just as Hawk was saying this.
There was the roar on the airfield as one battleship woke up. Lights turned on as a huge battleship with a giant blue skull carved on it was revealed. This was the battleship of one of the Seven Swords, Hawk’s ship Death Knight!
“Now we will depart. I’ll lose face if my performance isn’t up to standard.”
Hawk said as he turned towards the Death Knight.