SPACE 7. Pioneer Quest
Sparks occurred in outer space. The sparks started swirling and formed a ring. The space rippled and a spaceship emerged from the centre. The spaceship with a gleaming silver body was the Silver Star.
Ark looked out the window at the giant planet below him. The planet was a mixture of green, brown and blue and it was humanity’s second home. It had been 24 hours since he warped from the Harmadon constellation. The Silver Star carried Ark and Tori thousands of light years and finally arrived at Istana.
‘That warp voyage wasn’t so bad.’
He had originally thought of warp travel like a Star Gate. However warp travel on a spaceship wasn’t so comfortable. Warp travel artificially created a wormhole to another dimension where the ship would travel faster. Unlike transport ships that had regular routes, it could be dangerous for a private ship to use warp. The wormhole could travel through the wrong place, the hull could be severely damaged by an electromagnetic cloud or in rare cases there might be monsters wandering. But this trip was relatively smooth.
“Hyung-nim, we’ve arrived!”
It was thanks to the hamster who was an experienced sailor. Although Tori did spend a lot of the warp travel in the infirmary treating his wounds.
“Okay. Then let’s go to Tatuine.”
“Huh? No, that……”
While Tori was hesitating.
There was a succession of light exploding around the Silver Star and three spaceships appeared. They were smaller than the Silver Star with the logo of the federation on them.
|-Communication is being received on the public channel.|
Then an information window appeared. He connected the communication and someone in uniform appeared on the monitor.
-Who is the Captain?
–I am Ensign Bonan, leader of Istana’s 3rd orbital garrison. Verification has determined that the UFO is not registered with the galactic federation. Therefore I am here to inform you that you are trespassing on the airspace of the galactic federation. Leave Istana’s airspace immediately. If you want to enter then the ship and crew must be examined by the soldiers at garrison headquarters.
Tori said in a tearful tone.
Ark was a little panicked at the unexpected situation. If he bought the ship through the normal route then it would be registered immediately to the federation and he could freely access Istana. However the Silver Star had been picked up on the frontier. Therefore it was treated as an unidentified flying object (UFO). Ark hadn’t thought about this. Tori was also a criminal in the federation. If they were investigated at the garrison headquarters then problems might occur.
He had one method. He hadn’t expected the garrison to appear but it wasn’t an impossible situation.
“I want to ask you something.”
–Please say it.
“I would like to get in touch with the federation government in Tatuine.”
–Do you know someone in the central government?
“Yes, please contact Lieutenant Colonel Buldio who is the chief of the 1st Internal Affairs Division. And…..please contact the special advisor Marquis Martin as well.”
–Colonel Buldio? Marquis Martin?
Bonan stuttered with wide eyes. It was a natural reaction. The Internal Affairs department had significant influence in the government. And Marquis Martin was a special advisor on military matters so he had a powerful influence on the military. Ark had spoken names that were both heavyweights in the government and military! But Bonan was even more astonished by Ark’s next words.
“Give this message to both of them. Ark has returned.”
In an ancient shrine like building. Dozens of people dressed in robes were kneeling down in a spacious hall. Their heads were pointed towards the central dais. A black shape was swaying on the dais. Then the robed people heard a voice in their heads.
–I worked hard on this plan for the past 10 years. 4 gates were prepared in order to bring the presence of the Great God into this star system. But 1 was destroyed while the other 3 haven’t completed their mission.
“We’re ashamed of ourselves.”
The black shape quickly expanded.
–Do you think you will be forgiven with those words?
The voice exploded through their heads. The robed people grabbed their heads with moans and stuttered.
“P-please forgive us!”
“We’ll do whatever it takes to recoup from these mistakes!”
“We will prepare the gate again!”
–Fools, if the gate could be made so easily then I wouldn’t have spent 10 years doing it! We can’t wait another 10 years while the Great God has been waning for hundreds of years. There is no guarantee he will have the force to enter the star system if he weakens further. And I’m also too weak to wait.
“T-then what do we do now?”
–We have no choice but to accelerate the timing.
–We will break down the balance of the force with our own hands.
“That is our long cherished dream. But we haven’t discovered the origin of the Force despite dozens of years of effort.”
–That is until now. But I managed to detect a weak force that had been activated with my holy senses. From now on we will launch an investigation into that constellation. But before we do this.
“What is it?”
–The ones who destroyed the gate. If we leave them alone then there is potential to repeat the same mistake. We won’t get 3 chances. If we fail another time then my body will have reached its limit and scattered to pieces. So we have to eliminate the annoying existences before we advance with our plan. Fenrir!
“Please give me a command, Grand Duke!”
The Grand Duke stood up. Then another 4 black shapes emerged in front of him.
–These are my subordinates. They are the survivors of the destroyed gate. I’ll give them to help you find those who are hindering us. And……kill them! If they are pioneers then rip out their soul! Shatter the soul and scatter it! That is your only purpose from now on.
“I will carry out your order!”
The man replied while on his knees. Then everyone else in the room started kowtowing and chanting in unison.
“The Great God willing!”
A middle aged man said with an amazed expression.
“A mere pioneer dares to call the nobles of the galactic federation.”
“It can’t be helped. I have a good reason for calling Marquis-nim.”
“From what I recall you looked fine.”
“Then why didn’t you refuse my request?”
The middle aged man murmured before laughing.
“Well it’s already turned out like this. I was getting annoyed by the parrot like voices of the councillors. It isn’t a bad idea to mingle with you for a bit. A politician who hangs out with a hero will have their stock price rise.”
The middle aged man was Marquis Martin. And the young man he was looking at was Ark.
“Aren’t you exaggerating this a bit?”
“Not at all. Right now your name is more well know than mine about the federation soldiers. You are the most popular star among the soldiers right now. Look, don’t you see the soldiers scattered everywhere trying to get a glimpse of you?”
In fact, Ark had no idea it would be to this degree. After receiving the title of Beltana’s Hero, he had been dragged around Istana for a promotional tour right away. And he had no chance to meet the soldiers of the federation after the Athamas battle ended. So he hadn’t realized it but his popularity among the federation army was beyond his imagination. He realized this popularity after he entered the headquarters on Istana.
“I’m Ensign Bona from the communication. Welcome!”
An officer came running up after the ships had escorted the Silver Star. He saluted before saying.
“Ark-nim’s reputation is well known. I apologize for my rude behaviour. I am honoured that you will visit the 12th orbit garrison. As you requested, I’ve passed on the message to Colonel Buldio-nim and Marquis Martin-nim. Please tell me if you feel an inconvenience while waiting. I will immediately take corrective measures!”
A UFO had suddenly appeared in orbit around Istana. If he was any other pioneer than the investigation at headquarters would be conducted with a heavy-handed attitude. But they rolled out the VIP treatment for Ark. It was the same with the other soldiers.
“It’s an honour to meet you!”
“I’m sorry but can I shake your hand?”
“If you sign the collar of my uniform then it will become an heirloom!”
Soldiers swarmed like a flock of bees around the Silver Star.
“Please sign this for me? My daughter is a big fan.”
Even the grey-haired director of the garrison asked him to sign something! Ark was a user who wasn’t even part of the top 50 rankings that the game exclusive news published. But that’s because they were focused on the federation, Aschulat and Rama users at the frontier and gathered statistics from the entire galaxy. So Ark and the Red Slaughterer weren’t included in the rankings. But if it was narrowed down to the galactic federation, especially the military then it was impossible for other users to surpass Ark’s fame.
Therefore there was a commotion when Marquis Martin arrived. And soldiers were still hanging around the place waiting for a chance to ask him to sign. Marquis Martin looked around at the soldiers and smiled.
“Why does that sound vaguely sarcastic?”
“No, I’m being serious. You are someone who amazes me every time.”
Marquis Martin stared at the Silver Star that had been placed in a hangar.
“This is the UFO you came aboard. It seems to be a 3rd class ship…..it is the first time I’ve seen one in a long time. You found it on Amara?”
Ark nodded and Marquis Martin burst out laughing.
“The person I though was dead appeared riding a UFO that turns out to be a 3rd class battleship that he just picked up. I’m not even surprised. No, is the ship the only thing you picked up? What about that guy?”
Marquis Martin looked behind Ark. The hamster rolled his eyes with an anxious look.
“Did you say his name was Tori?”
“Yes, so the problem I mentioned?”
“It’s not something I can decide by myself.”
Then 1 ship came flying into the hangar. Marquis Martin smiled as he saw the mark of the galactic federation on the wings.
“Here they come.”
Two people got off the ship. One was Buldio who gave him the <Rescue the Pursuers> question and behind him was Irina.
‘She came back unharmed.’
The last time he saw Irina was when they were escaping from the mine. At the time Irina’s airship had been hit by gunfire and was spouting smoke. He had been worried because it looked dangerous but she came back unharmed. Once again, the Fairy’s resurrection time depended on the user’s level and the distance of the place of death to the registered Fairy. Therefore it took time to determine if a pioneer had died or not from the Fairy.
If it was the same planet then it would take several hours at most. However, if the registered place was Istana and they died on the Harmadon constellation that was thousands of light years away then the situation was serious. It could be a week before the Fairy received information about the dead. Depending on the level, it could even take 10 days. That’s why it was hard to find users who reached level 200 despite Galaxian being open for over 4 months. The death penalty in Galaxian was no joke.
Anyway, it took Ark 8 days to return to Istana. The fact that she was here before Ark meant that she escaped unharmed from Amara. While Ark was busy thinking.
There was the sound of coughing. Buldio laughed at him as he turned around.
“Why are you staring a hole through the face of my subordinate?”
“I understand your heart but let’s focus on the agenda.”
Buldio teased as he looked between Ark and Irina. Ark was blushing but Irina’s face hadn’t changed at all.
“Ark-nim, I’m thankful for what you’ve done. I heard about Ark-nim’s achievements through Ensign Irina. Fortunately the group managed to return safely a week ago.”
“The only question left is that friend’s treatment.”
Buldio looked at the frightened Tori.
“When I checked, it turns out that he is your accomplice in the event that sent you to Beltana and our friend here to 2 years in Stael. Right now his status is as an escaped prisoner.”
“I already know. He wasn’t the main one behind the breakout. And he tried to help Ensign Irina capture the criminals. That could certainly be called extenuating circumstances. However he still has 70% of his sentence left so a probation is difficult. But it might be possible if we use another method.”
“Other than Tori, the Katz that escaped haven’t been arrested. We lost track of them on Amara. So we will postpone Tori’s imprisonment in order to keep him as a source of information. And if they get caught then he will be eligible for a probation. Only!”
Buldio stopped and glanced at Irina.
“Ensign Irina is in charge of arresting the escaped prisoners.”
Then Buldio looked back at Ark. In other words, Buldio mean to use this shortcut. And the person holding the hilt was Irina. Marquis Martin and Buldio clearly didn’t expect Irina to refuse. But who was Irina? She was a woman keen on follow the rules! Ark couldn’t imagine that Irina would accept a shortcut like this so easily……
Irina glanced between Ark and Tori before nodding.
“I understand. I will handle it.”
Surprisingly she accepted it quite easily? Ark was confused but Buldio just nodded. Then he turned towards Marquis Martin and asked.
“I couldn’t hear anything.”
Thanks to Marquis Martin’s polite withdrawal, Buldio managed to solve a complicated problem. Once again, it wasn’t good to make enemies of the NPCs in Galaxian. Buldio then continued with a light voice like this was a routine business.
“Now the only thing left is to pay Ark-nim. The compensation for this mission is 1,000 gold. I couldn’t prepare the cash reward so here are some military scrips. It can be used like cash in the jurisdiction of the galactic federation.”
1,000 gold. It wasn’t cash but it could be used anywhere in the galactic federation! He expected that the quest reward would be high but this was beyond expectations. However Ark couldn’t just receive the scrips. Of course, the reason Ark accepted the quest was because of the reward but it was also because of Irina. He felt uncomfortable receiving the rescue reward in front of her. When Ark hesitated, Buldio smiled and said.
“I know Ark-nim didn’t accept this request for the reward. However it is only fair. Of course you need to receive it for your hard work. And it is coming from my pocket, not Ensign Irina’s. It is part of the government budget. Ark-nim doesn’t have to worry about Ensign Irina’s purse.”
“You should receive it. It will be needed soon.”
Marquis Martin then added.
|-<Rescue the Pursuers> quest has been completed.|
The message flashed when he received the scrip.
“Now my work is done. I’ll take this and go.”
Buldio rose with the paperwork and Irina also got up. Ark was surprised at their sudden actions and also stood up.
“Oh, that…..wait a minute…..”
“Is there something else you need?”
“No, that’s not it…..”
Ark scratched the back of his head and hesitated.
“You go out first. I need to discuss something with this friend.”
Buldio nodded to Marquis Martin and left the meeting room. Ark’s gaze followed Irina’s departing back and he sighed. Ark had been looking forward to meeting Irina again on Istana. Once again, Ark had an interest in Irina. However Irina wasn’t an easy character to attach to and it was difficult to meet after returning from Beltana. But he met Irina again thanks to this mission. In addition, she went through a crisis and he saved her from death several times. He assumed that their relationship would alter a bit when they met again. And she did accept Buldio’s proposal. Ark wasn’t sure but it might be a sign of regard towards him. But that was it. Irina just left before he could say anything to her.
Ark sat down and asked in a testy voice.
“What did you want to talk about?”
“Your attitude changes quickly as soon as the woman left.”
“It’s not like that.”
“It isn’t? Look in the mirror. See what your expression is like right now.”
“Is that all you had to say?”
“Of course not.”
“Then say it.”
“I have two things to speak to you about.”
Marquis Martin laughed and continued.
“So…..the first reason is a request.”
“A request? Don’t tell me you want me to go to the battlefield again?”
Ark’s forehead wrinkled. Marquis Martin rubbed his beard and replied.
“So you still haven’t heard. The war is over. A few days ago I met with the Rama Ambassador and signed an armistice.”
“Huh? So suddenly…..”
“You are related to the reason why.”
Marquis Martin manipulated his Nymphe and it showed a 3D image. The 3D image surprisingly showed a red pentagram. Why did he suddenly sign a truce with the Rama and what did this image have to do with it? And how was Ark involved? Marquis Martin noticed his confused expression and continued.
“Is this the first time you’ve seen it?”
“Yes, what is that?
“Not many people in the federation know this yet. This pattern appeared in an area thousands of kilometres in diameter and three areas in Galaxian changed at the same time. All of them simultaneously released a tremendous amount of negative energy.”
“D-don’t tell me you’re talking about antimatter?”
Tori suddenly raised his head and shouted. Marquis Martin shot Tori a surprised look before nodding.
“So the hamster knows about it. Yes, it is a material with an opposite energy to most of the materials in this star system. Like the hamster said, it is called antimatter. Well I’m not an expert so I can’t explain antimatter in detail but it can be a huge threat to this star system. It was only or a second but that energy occurred throughout the galaxy.”
This was the reason for the sudden armistice. If the galaxy was threatened then the galactic federation, Aschulat and Rama would all be affected. However both sides couldn’t overlook the issues between them. They decided to temporarily stop the war and agreed to figure out information about this event first.
“But how is it related to me?”
“This magic circle…..I don’t want to use that term but I have nothing else to call it. Anyway, the place where the magic circle was created was the Harmadon constellation. Red rays shot up from 5 planets in the constellation and formed the magic circle. How about it? Do you have an idea now?”
“The red light…..”
The memory naturally formed in his head. It was the disc in the mine that shot up the red light!
“You seem to remember. I received the report from Colonel Buldio and learnt about the situation. My guess is that the red light you and Ensign Irina witnessed was one of the ones that formed the magic circle. In other words, you guys are the only one I know who was in range to witness the magic circle being made. Oh and 1 hamster as well.”
Marquis Martin looked directly at Tori after his words ended. It was a look that asked if he knew anything else about the magic circle. But Tori shook his head.
“As expected the galactic federation, Rama and Aschulat are all interested in this phenomenon. I don’t know what the impact will be on the galaxy but I don’t want the Aschulat or Rama to figure out the information first. That’s why I was able to easily accept Buldio’s proposal regarding the hamster.”
“What do you mean?”
“The areas that changed due to the incident are all on the frontier. And the special treaty prohibits the military actions of all 3 forces in that region. Of course we can dispatch secret agents but the military can’t move. Therefore the Rama, Aschulat and federation have decided to mobilize agents. All agents belonging to the galactic federation will be requested to investigate the incident. Naturally that would include your agent Dark Eden.”
An information window popped up at Marquis Martin’s words.
|-<Dark Omen (Pioneer Quest)>
You have listened Marquis Martin, a powerful noble of the federation explain about the incident that changed the galaxy. The changed occurred with the appearance of the magic circle that emitted a large amount of negative energy. The federation, Aschulat and Rama have felt the crisis and stop the war in the Bellin constellation to investigate. However, these changes occurred in the space frontier and all three powers are prohibited from interfering there due to the space treaty. That’s why they are mobilizing agents. The first pioneer to discover the facts behind this incident will have their reputation spread throughout the whole galaxy.
* Achievement Rate: 0/100%
Pioneer quest. This was a main quest in Galaxian.
“Like I said, you are one of the few people who witnessed that scene. Ensign Irina is the personally assigned by the galactic federation for the same reason. The federation is an existence separate to the agent but you two can cooperate if the need arises. If the Katz who escaped from Stael are involved in the red light then this will be an extension of the mission to catch them. Therefore we need Tori on the mission even if it is under false pretences.”
This was the reason why Irina accepted the shortcut.
“But I’m now……”
“I know. The administrator of a new sector has a lot of work to do. I’m not telling you to fly back to Harmadon right away. My gut feeling says that this won’t have a simple solution. It is probably something that would require a lot of time. Ensign Irina will need to gather the federation agents so it doesn’t matter if you have a slow start. Because this is a request that can change the entire galaxy. It is more important to determine how to solve the problem rather than moving first.”
“And……the other reason I wanted to talk to you was to give you a warning.”
Marquis Martin opened his mouth again.
“I told you this when giving you the rights to S-20. Currently my relationship with the Minister of Domestic Affairs Jyubel isn’t that good. Jyubel doesn’t like the fact that I gave S-20 to you. I’ve received information that he is secretly in contact with the Laius company regarding S-20.”
“Regarding S-20? Why?”
“I don’t know either. But originally the Laius company had permission to set up a research centre at Mt. Fargo. If Jyubel is contacting them regarding S-20 then it probably isn’t good for you.”
This was certainly unwelcome news. Now there was a twist in the sector that he tried so hard to grow! If a Marquis with the same power as Marquis Martin was involved then this situation was serious.
“If Laius and Jyubel join forces then it will be tough. There is no guarantee that will happen but it will be good if you are vigilant. If I learn anything else then I will inform you immediately. Because I’m also responsible for S-20.”
Ark bowed with a humble expression. The relationship with Marquis Martin hadn’t started off that great but he had been a strong supporter through many events.
“That is it from me. You can leave now.”
Ark exited the meeting room.
“Sob, Hyung-nim, thank you!”
Tori tearfully said as he also came out of the meeting room.
“Don’t be thankful. This is part of my contract with you. Do you understand? If you ever try anything……”
“T-that will never happen.”
“Okay. I’ll believe you. But this is your last chance.”
Ark was walking down the corridor with Tori when he stopped. Irina who he thought had left long ago was leaning against the wall. Ark was confused by the unexpected situation and asked.
“Irina-nim? Why are you still here?”
“I forgot something.”
“……Thank you for rescuing me.”
Irina hesitated before saying in a small voice. Irina looked down with a bashful expression. His heart that was back to normal after the conversation with Marquis Martin started rising again.
“Ah no, that……”
“Hyung-nim, I’ll go first.”
The astute Tori quickly escaped. This was something praiseworthy about him. But the atmosphere became more awkward once Tori left. Ark and Irina stood there awkwardly for a while without saying much.
“That reminds me, this is the second time I need to say thank you.”
“Huh? Ah, yes. That’s right.”
“Did you accept Marquis Martin’s quest to investigate the magic circle?”
“Huh? Ah, yes. I received it.”
And then silence again.
‘Damn! What is this? Stupid child, you normally talk so well so why can’t you speak now?’
Ark felt like cursing because of the awkward atmosphere.
“I will team up with Camel again to go to the space frontier. I’ll contact Marquis Martin who will pass onto you my information.”
Irina said before turning away.
“W-wait a minute!”
Ark raised his head and exclaimed. This opportunity wasn’t common. Ark had this thought and called out to her. But Ark’s mouth ended up stuttering his idea.
“T-there is…..would you like to eat dinner with me on the outside? No, that is…..it isn’t a selfish thing…..”
Irina paused and asked. Ark sighed as their eyes met and said.
“I’m sorry. I mean…..it is selfish.”
‘Stupid! A date will a girl out of your league……’
He started cursing himself in his head.
“I’ll get in touch.”
Ark’s head shot up. And he asked with a stunned look.
“What did you say just now?”
“It is busy in game so it will be easier to meet on the outside. I’ll get in touch with Ark-nim and will inform you of my schedule. We will make an appointment then.”
“Colonel Buldio is waiting so I’ll go first.”
Irina smiled and tapped something into Ark’s Nymphe.
|-Irina-nim’s recognition code (R-02007) has been stored in your Nymphe.|
That message popped up! The recognition code was different from knowing the name. It meant they could whisper or if they were thousands of light years away then they could send mail. In other words, he could contact her with it!
‘It feels like I’ve crashed into something!’
Ark was unsteady after being given her number (?). However Ark’s good mood only lasted 1 minute before plummeting.
“Ah, you must be Ark-nim. I’ve followed Marquis Martin’s instructions and registered your spacecraft with the galactic federation. Now you can access any area under the jurisdiction of the federation. Here are the related documents. Ark-nim just needs to sign here.”
Bonan extended a form.
|<Silver Star> Registration Receipt
Ship Owner: Ark
Registered Ship: Medium- 3rd grade (Battleship)
Acquisition Tax: 500 gold
Environmental Charge: 100 gold
Registration Fee: 200 gold
Compulsory Insurance: 200 gold
━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━ ━
* Total: 1,000 gold
That was the amount on the receipt. The total price was 1,000 gold!
–You should receive it. It will be needed soon.
Marquis Martin’s words when receiving the military scrip rang through his head.