SPACE 7. The Sleeping Enemy
It was a large planet with more than 100 ships as traffic in a day. It was natural for a place where pioneers gathered to develop. The lights from the port were never turned off.
Kukwang! Kukwang! Kukwang!
Loud music was heard from a tavern. Three people were sitting around a table covered by cigarette smoke.
One person was a hamster from the Tiny Clan with eyes that agilely moved from left to right, there was another alien species wearing a wolf shaped pendant from the Wolf Clan and the last person with a thuggish appearance was from the Belkin Clan.
The three species chewed on their cigarette and looked at the pile of coins on the table with sharp eyes. After a few moments of tense silence, the Belkin clan member threw a card and shouted.
The hamster and wolf simultaneously made faces like they were chewing on poo.
“Hahahaha! You’re expressions are perfect! I’m sorry but this is……”
“Uhuh! Why are you in such a hurry? You should check the others before celebrating first.”
Then the hamster grinned and set down his cards. The cards that fell on the table was a Q, Q, Q, Q!
“Q-queen four of a kind?”
“Kit! Doesn’t 4 beat 3?”
“Aigoo, tsk tsk tsk. Sorry, what should I do?”
Then the Wolf Clan who had been sitting silently clicked his tongue and murmured. And he showed yellow teeth as he turned over his cards one by one.
“K….K…..K…..K…..heok! N-no way! King four of a kind?”
“It will sweep the pot over the queen. Shouldn’t a man be economical? In that sense…..”
The Wolf clan member swiped all the gold and silver with his scarred arms. The Belkin clan member who had been blankly watching the scene grasped the Wolf’s arm.
“Wait a minute! It’s a scam! ”
“A scam? This person dares say something like that?”
“Indeed! Is it common sense that three aces, four queen and four kings emerge in the same hand? Something is definitely strange. Hey, rat! Check the remaining cards!”
“Hey, that’s not very polite. And are you a child? I am the age of your father.”
The Belkin clan pulled out a pistol and stuck it to the temple of the Wolf clan.
“Uh, I really can’t coexist with a someone from your species. You lost money and now you want to do this? Hey rat, if you want to stay alive then don’t move a finger. Yes, if you turn over the cards and I didn’t cheat then who will take responsibility for the situation?”
“I will give my throat and all of my remaining money!”
“Ha! Today is a good day.”
The Wolf clan said with a laugh. Suddenly a man approached behind the Wolf Clan.
“Are you Captain Esut of the interstellar ship Marsyosia?”
“Who are you? Am I the a neighbourhood dog? What do you want with me?”
“I’ve come with a job request.”
“Job? Can’t you see the situation right now? You want to hire me in a situation like this? And I’ve already signed an exclusive contract with another person.”
“I know. An associate told me so. The Marsyosia has an exclusive contract and won’t be taking requests for several months. And you depart periodically twice a week but there are no records of any cargo being transported. At least officially.”
The corners of the Wolf clan’s eyes started to flinch.
“Who are you?”
“A person interested in your goods.”
“What are you doing? I don’t want to see you right now! If you don’t disappear immediately……”
The Belkin clan shouted angrily and fired his pistol towards the man.
Cheolkeok! Cheolkeok! Cheolkeok! Cheolkeok!
There was a sound coming from all directions! It was the sound of 10 people around a table lifting their machine guns. The Tiny clan and Belkin clan involved in the poker game looked confused.
“Do I need to bother explaining? You have to go with me.”
“That isn’t possible.”
Esut stepped back with a grin. At that time, something fell from the arm the man was grabbing? They were cards that fell! The unknown man and Belkin clan shouted at the same time.
“It was a damn scam! There are hidden cards in the prosthetic arm!”
“Kekekeke! You stupid guys!”
The prosthetic then exploded. At the same time, a tremendous flash emanated in all directions! The Belkin clan and the people holding machine guns hurriedly hid their eyes from the flash.
“Kekeke! Fools! Do you think the great Esut will be caught by guys like you?”
Esut turned over the table and ran. The money on the table fell and scattered all over the place. The people watching from a distance started swarming like vultures.
“The first person who picks it up will be the owner!”
Pepeng! Pepeng! Pepeng!
There were continuous bursts of sound. White smoke soared and instantly enveloped the place. The unknown man still didn’t have his sight restored from the prosthetic flash and shouted angrily.
“Smoke bombs! That Esut! Seal the exits!”
“D-dammit! Don’t touch it! That is my money! Ya, what are you doing? I’ll kill the scum that dares touch my money! No, Esut! I’ll kill Esut!”
The Belkin’s yell followed afterwards. Then the Belkin clan members scattered around the tavern drew their weapons in unison. The man burst out with confusion.
“T-this! They were subordinates? No! I must capture Esut! Stop the Belkin clan!”
“Kill everyone that dares interfere! Shoot! Kill everything!”
Tu tu tu tu! Tu tu tu tu! Tu tu tu tu!
It was difficult to distinguish anything in the thick smoke. People were flocking like vultures over the gold and silver scattered on the floor! The peaceful tavern turned noisy. On the roof of the tavern.
“Kekekeke. It isn’t easy being me.”
The white wolf Esut smiled as he gazed through the window.
“That dumb Belkin gave me an opportunity. By the way, who was that man just now? Are those guys related to my transport work? Sheesh, I travel around a lot these days so I can’t believe they know how to find me. I have a headache. I have to sneak out of Maseti.”
Esut jumped from roof to roof. After crossing a few roofs, he jumped down directly in front of a bike parked in the alley.
“Now, shall I go?”
He had stashed a bike in case of situations like this. Esut smiled and was about to connect his Nymphe to the bike.
“You’re better off stopping.”
A threatening voice was heard in the darkness. When he flinched and turned around, a man walked into the alley. It wasn’t the man he met in the tavern. The man was wearing black armour, had dark hair and an eyepatch covering one eye.
“W-who are you?”
“Do I need to explain it?”
“You don’t need to! Just go to hell!”
Esut’s bag opened at that moment.
3 grenades flew towards the man. It was then that the man moved. In the next moment, the man flew towards Esut like a bullet while grabbing the two swords at his waist.
The moment his hands touched the hilt, his body rotated and drew a line towards the flying grenades.
Tang-! Tang-! Tang-!
Then three shots rang out and the grenades exploded. The man stopped rotating and instantly moved 10 metres. And two bullets flew towards his direction. Menace shone in the eyes of the man with dark hair.
A man emerged wearing a black helmet.
The Black Helmet didn’t answer. He just put his pistol back in its place at his waist.
After that, another man walked out. However this time his identity didn’t need to be questioned. There was no need to. The man coming with a gleeful smile…..
At a large dock shaped like a square.
“Wow! Is it really Ark-nim? Ark-nim!”
Over 10 team units were gathered at the dock when Ark entered. The man wearing armour that looked like overalls and had a moustache was Mario. Mario ran towards Ark like he was a mushroom.
“What is going on?”
“What’s going on? What?”
“What? Doesn’t Ark-nim know yet? All units who left on this mission were ambushed. I received an attack by people wearing black helmets and some units had the Rama show up. 9 ships were sunk from those attacks.”
“I already know. I was also ambushed.”
“But you managed to come back alive.”
To be honest, Ark was the one who wanted to say that.
In fact, the first person he thought would fall was Mario. Mario’s occupation was a merchant and when he checked on Turan, he was leading at least 30 subordinates that were more than level 100. However, having the party leader being a merchant was a significant penalty.
Galaxian was set up so that any occupation could build an Agent. An agent could focus on warrior specialties or commerce depending on the employed staff and merchants also hired mercenaries. The problem was that the user’s occupation had a significant impact on the hired subordinates.
Warriors attracted stronger warriors. This was also true for a NPC’s inclination. Some NPC mercenaries would only be hired by users they respected. A warrior could easily lead a company of NPC mercenaries in battle while it would be a lot harder for merchants.
And vice versa. Merchants would find it easy to lead a group of NPC merchants but a warrior would find it more difficult.
But there was even more. Agent skills existed inside Galaxian. Currently Ark was using the ‘Joint Business-I’ Agent skill. In Ark’s case, all his employees except Kurakan were NPCs so he select ‘Joint Business-I.’ However, the Agent skill that most users selected first was ‘Qualities of a Leader-I.’
If the leader was a warrior then ‘Qualities of a Leader’ would give a bonus to the employees’ combat power. This Agent skill was why those with a warrior in charge were more profitable in battle.
If the skill level was high and reached the 4th stage, there would be at least a 30% difference in combat ability when the Agent’s CEO was a warrior compared to a merchant.
This was why the user’s occupation was important! As a result, a merchant would take a significant penalty in battle even with a lot of soldiers. Nevertheless, Mario was still alive with 50% of his subordinates.
‘A merchant must have that type of skill if they joined the investigation team. Did he deliberately make his character similar to Mario in order to make the opponent underestimate him? Indeed, I was also careless because of his name and looks. When thinking about it, I can’t be careless around a guy who thought this deeply when making his character. Indeed, the other team units are the same as well.’
Ark looked around the dock with interested eyes. Including Mario, there were 11 units on this dock. These units were able to survive an ambush from an unidentified foe. That in itself proved their skills.
“I was worried when Ark-nim didn’t return to Turan.”
“I was lucky.”
“By the way, how did you know to come here?”
Ark turned his head and took a sneak peek at a woman. Her name was Irina, she belonged to the 1st investigation team and was Ark’s ‘girl.’
While Ark was repairing the Silver Star on E-2036, Hawk ad analysed the information from the 11 units that returned safely and was able to find some clues.
Among them was information about a transportation line carrying a rare mineral. The name of that transport like was Marsyosia. Therefore Hawk dispatched his subordinates to investigate Marsyosia. And they determined that they weren’t unloading the minerals on a Hive or planet.
‘The possibility that Marsyosia is supplying the minerals to organization X is extremely high!’
The conclusion came naturally. Hawk rallied the team members and followed the location of the Marsyosia. It was possible to find Captain Esut on Maseti.
Obviously Ark had heard this from Irina, not Hawk. After Irina joined up with the secondary task force, she had used real time cell phone communication to identify their movements. And while Hawk had deliberately surrounded the tavern to find the hiding Esut, Ark had gone to where he was.
That’s right. Hawk was the man waiting for Esut in the alley. And Ark was the one who subsequently appeared.
There was no reason to give such information to Mario. Hawk was now the general manager so he couldn’t 100% trust any units. In this situation Irina was the only 100% reliable one so Ark and Irina needed to keep their relationship hidden. This was the reason why Ark pretended not to know Irina.
“Of course I ran after the smell of the members.” My sense of smell is that developed.”
Mario looked at Ark with disbelieving eyes. But he judged that it was useless to ask so he nodded and said.
“Anyway, it is lucky. In fact, I was a little anxious. 6 of the 9 units killed in the ambush belonged to the military section. 10 vs. 10 changed to 4 vs. 7. Now it is 5 vs. 7 thanks to Ark-nim’s return. Well, there are still fewer military faction members but it is better than before.”
Ark looked around silently at the end of Mario’s words. Currently the members were gathered around Hawk’s ship, the Death Knight. The members gathered here were still divided into the military and political factions of Tatuine. Apart from Mario, there were only 3 people from the military faction.
One of them was the 18th ranked Ferguson, Kaien the CEO of the mercenary Agent and Ryu who was the CEO of Arion. If Ark and Mario were added then it would equal 5 people. The military faction had been literally halved.
On the other hand, there were still 7 people from the political faction.
‘As expected, Valencia failed to come back.’
Valencia had been killed by Ark at the secret laboratory. And his spaceship had been smashed by the subsequent appearance of the Red Slaughterer. Even if Valencia had returned to the investigation team, he would still be expelled. For Ark it was like a sick teeth falling out…..
“The problem is Hawk.”
Mario scratched his head and said.
“Did you hear? Hawk expelled all units that were defeated by the unidentified enemy. Members who were killed revived at Turan but Hawk ruthlessly said that they don’t have the right to be part of the team. Ark-nim had the unresolved status of a missing person but you couldn’t return in time so he said you were still expelled. Of course, our military faction prefers that Ark-nim remain but…..”
Irina was also concerned about this part. But Ark wasn’t worried about it. No, there was no need to worry.
Splinters of the grenade fell in the dark alley. Hawk looked in the direction the bullets flew from and confusion spread on his face.
Ark had showed up near the 3 grenades that exploded. They lost contact after the mission to Impeltus so he had assumed that the Silver Star had disintegrated. However, he never imagined that Ark would show up on Maseti.
But Hawk didn’t ask the corny questions like Mario. Ark who he lost contact with was now in Maseti. This meant Ark hadn’t lost the Silver Star under Valencia and the Red Slaughterer’s attacks and someone else in the team had told Ark about Hawk’s search for Esut.
He was curious about who gave Ark the information but Ark would answer even if he asked. So Hawk only asked one question.
“Why did you come here?”
“Isn’t it to join up with the investigation team again?”
“Didn’t you hear? You aren’t a member anymore.”
“I said it when issuing the mission. I will only admit members who could properly handle the duties entrusted to them. And you didn’t come back in time. Do I need to explain anymore?”
“But you didn’t tell us the most important thing.”
Then Ark pulled out a small object from his pocket. A USB. It was the USB Hawk gave to the members that contained information about their mission.
“This USB has a GPS transmitting device attached.”
Hawk’s one eye distorted slightly after Ark’s words. But it was only for a moment. Then Hawk’s mouth grinned as he looked at the USB.
“So what? Yes, the USB has a GPS transmitting device on it. It is inserted into the device. However I am the team leader. Can’t the leader have a GPS device to track the movement of the team members?”
“I thought like that as well.”
“I’ll tell the members that the team leader leaked their location to the unidentified enemy.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I got the information directly from someone.”
Then the gunner wearing the black helmet came forward. There was a crack in Hawk’s mask of tranquillity.
Hawk had leaked the GPS information to make the factions strike against each other. In fact, Hawk didn’t care about what faction had more members surviving. He created a virtual enemy in order to plant an awareness of danger into the members. Now that the balance between the military and political factions was upset then Hawk was perfectly in control.
However one person was an exception.
‘There are no other users that stand out among the remaining units. But Ark is with the military faction. So far he isn’t more powerful than the other members but ‘he’ is Ark. The scariest thing is that he is unpredictable. It could be seen as a fluke but when it is repeated many times, it is obviously skill. More users in New World were defeated by Ark because they underestimated him. But I won’t make the same mistake. If there is a chance then I will use every method to handle this guy.’
He didn’t mind if other team members survived. However he had wanted to handle Ark before the formal mission started. That’s why Hawk had to intervene directly in the attack on Ark. He wanted to handle Ark so he had explained the situation ahead of time to Valencia. It was so sufficient troops to handle Ark would be prepared.
That’s how Valencia was able to mobilize over 100 troops in the secret laboratory. Before leaving Tatuine, Hawk had visited Marquis Jyubel and Valencia who were in a meeting room. He promised to secretly pass on information about Ark after the mission started.
Marquis Jyubel and Valencia weren’t the only people in the room. The user Hawk believed was 100% on Marquis Jyubel’s side like Valencia was…..
“Are you Rapid?”
“Aren’t you Marquis Jyubel’s person?”
“I was at the time. But there were some circumstances. Do you want to hear it?”
Hawk spat out. His eyes turned to Ark and his lips twisted.
“Well, this is the reason you are so confident? Yes, okay. I admit it. I gave your GPS information to Valencia. What about it? Are you here to get revenge?”
“That’s a good idea.”
Ark laughed and grabbed the lightsaber at his waist. At the same time, Hawk flinched and raised his pair of swords. In the next moment, Ark just scratched his head and said.
“No, stop that. It clear but the evidence was still circumstantial. You secretly hid the GPS device in the USB and gave information to Valencia but that isn’t evident that you instigated the ambush. I would just be a criminal if I killed you in such a situation.”
“You talk as if you would be able to win.”
“Ah! Yes, that is also a problem. You are the coolest guy. You’re not like Valencia. You’re not someone who would run in blindly even if you dislike the person. You would clearly win if we decided to fight. And I also don’t want the investigation team to collapse. So I decided to remove the chance for revenge and just want to join the investigation team.”
“Aren’t you talking really informally to me?”
“Then you don’t understand my words?”
“That isn’t it.”
Hawk narrowed his eyes and replied. He stared at Ark for a while before talking again.
“But what will you do if I don’t allow you to join the investigation team again?”
“Then something difficult would happen. I will show the GPS and witness. Of course, the evidence if slightly lacking. But the team members aren’t stupid. Furthermore, some of the units that came back alive are those that attacked other units based on the GPS information you gave them. They’ve already caught on to a certain extent. If I tell them this information then their doubts will turn into certainty. How easy will it be to lead the team members then? How about it? Doesn’t it seem quite difficult?”
“It is difficult.”
“But I’ve already expelled 9 units from the team. You survived the raid but you were late. Will the other units admit to you joining the team?”
“That’s a problem for you to worry about. You can easily take care of such difficulties.”
Ark grinned and replied.
“W-what are you bastards doing? Are you joking?”
Esut shouted as he looked between Ark and Hawk.
“I don’t know what you’re plotting but I am Esut! Dammit, this is the first time I’ve been ignored like this! Anyway, you have to die here!”
Esut took out a grenade again. It was a belt with 10 grenades handing from it! But Hawk just sheathed his pair of swords.
“My battleship is at port 51. Take Esut there.”
And he muttered as he jumped up onto the roof.
“The details will come after that.”
Mario shook Ark. Ark woke up from his memory and answered.
“Ah, yes. I’m sorry. I was thinking for a while……”
“As expected, Ark-nim is also worrying about it.”
“Don’t worry about it!”
Mario grabbed Ark’s hand.
“The largest reason Hawk gave for expelling the units was that they didn’t have their spaceships anymore. But Ark-nim didn’t lost your ship. Your situation is different from the others. So don’t worry too much. The members of the military faction will band together to stop Hawk from expelling Ark-nim.”
Ark replied with an awkward smile.
Soldiers suddenly shouted from the opposite side. The soldiers split to the left and right as Hawk walked in the centre. He stood on a podium and gave a speech while looking at the team members.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. The time was more delayed then I expected so I’ll explain the next mission. Harley, spread the map.”
Harley pulled out a sphere.
It was set down on the ground and a light emerged. Then a member of the political faction came forward.
“Before that happens, I would like an explanation.”
“What is it?”
“Ark who is among the members. Right now there are 11 units here. 9 of them were expelled after the first mission. I was surprised when you first stated it and thought it was an over-reaction but I was convinced by your words. But now is it fair to accept a member who was expelled from the team? I would like to hear Captain-nim’s explanation. Is Ark really returning to the team?”
“If he returns?”
“I won’t accept it. In the worst case…..”
“Wait a minute! I’ll explain! Ark-nim clearly didn’t return to Turan on time. But he didn’t lose his ship unlike the other members. That…..”
Mario tried to come to Ark’s defense. Hawk shouted with a displeased expression.
“Shut up. Useless person!”
Mario retreated. However Hawk was staring at the member of the political faction.
“Like you said, Ark is an expelled member of the team. He was thrown away. But he continued his mission when left alone and found a few clues that led him to Marseti. And he captured our target Esut.”
“Yes, Esut who you stupidly missed.”
Hawk narrowed his eyes at the political faction member.
He was the man who approached Esut in the tavern and was caught in a shootout with the Belkin clan. His name….it was annoying to remember so let’s just call him Member A for the moment. Anyway, Hawk continued in a sharp voice.
“The process isn’t important. The important thing is the result. And results means the person has skill. That was why I expelled those nine units. It doesn’t matter if they lost their lives or their spaceship. I expelled them because they didn’t have the ability to protect their ship. Now, I ask you. I gave each of you a location to wait in order to capture Esut. But you deviated from my plan and approached Esut. It was good up to here. Like I said, the priority is getting results. However you missed Esut who was right in front of you. Esut was captured by Ark who was alone. Doesn’t that mean he has more skill than you?”
The political faction member’s face turned red with shame. This was the reason Hawk handed Esut to Ark and left the alley. Ark had the USB with the GPS device and Rapid so Hawk was forced to accept Ark’s offer. However, it was natural that the political faction wouldn’t admit his return.
He used Esut as justification to allow Ark’s return.
‘He really is scary.’
Ark thought as he gazed at Hawk. He heard from Irina about Hawk’s plan to capture Esut at a tavern and the location he placed each member. Hawk who was the leader was placed at the furthest point from the tavern. The other members though Hawk did this to concede to the members but…..
‘He is the guy who made the faction fight each other to seize control of the team. He wouldn’t just concede to the members. Hawk knew. Esut isn’t someone that will be easily caught. He knew that Esut would escape from the tavern. And Hawk would capture Esut when he ran.’
Ark knew it as well. He should capture Esut as justification to join the team. That’s why he went to Hawk’s location.
The result was a bingo.
Hawk was right where Esut stashed his ride. Hawk had monopolized the information he got in advance and planned to capture Esut. However he was forced to pass on the achievement to Ark.
|-Dark Omen (Pioneer Quest) information has been updated.
<Dark Omen Sub Quest: Impeltus Investigation → Catch the Main Suspect> has been completed.
While the 2nd investigation team was investigating the planets containing rare minerals, they came across information that Esut from the Wolf Clan is likely supplying Organization X with the mineral. Esut was tracked to Maseti and a plan organized to capture him. You managed to catch Esut and prove your skills.
He confirmed this information before coming to the port.
If he had to explain, the members who revived after the first mission received 300~500 achievements. Hawk investigated 3 planets so he received 1,500 achievements.
Yet Ark had gained 1,800 in one go! The even more exciting thing was that this achievement originally should’ve belonged to Hawk.
Hawk was forced to give up his achievement to give Ark a plausible reason to re-join the team. Of course it was impossible for him to feel good.
–It’s starting now Ark! I’ll make you regret this!
Ark could clearly read the message in Hawk’s eyes. So Ark used the power of his eyes to return his own message.
–Yes! It is starting now Hawk! I’ll make you regret taking me back.
A message also flashed in Irina’s eyes who was looking at Ark.
–I’ve met you again in Galaxian. We’re together!
Mario who was standing near also had a message.
The port was flooded with such message.
Anyway! Ark once again joined hands with the enemy.