SPACE 9. After a Long Quest……
The young man spoke in a low voice.
Ting-! Ting-! Ting-!
He gazed at the monitor where a man was running around on a snake shaped like a balloon. It was Ark riding on Burning Soul. The reunion between Ark and his three summons was being broadcasted on the internet and TV in real time. And the young man was watching the broadcast in hospital while undergoing rehabilitation.
“What the, that is?”
“He is the legendary gamer…..”
He could hear people who were watching on the monitor burst out laughing. Ark was called the legendary gamer. It was impossible to get that impression when watching the broadcasted scene. But the youth knew.
‘That is Ark!’
At first the young man had felt the same as other people. Ark looked simple with a few screws loose. However, Ark had risen to a seat that he couldn’t reach. He wasn’t simple. He might be hiding behind that simple appearance but he wasn’t. That’s why the young man wanted to meet Ark. He couldn’t surpass Ark. Why? He was superior in everything so why couldn’t he surpass the simple Ark? In the meantime he had stood on top of a large number of people so why couldn’t he overcome Ark?
‘Why? What am I lacking?’
He asked himself that question hundreds and thousands of times when he lay in a hospital room and couldn’t even lift a finger. But he couldn’t determine the answer. If the game character’s abilities could be quantified in numbers then Ark’s would be a lot higher than the youth’s. Therefore he wanted the chance to ask. If he requested it of his father then it wouldn’t be difficult to meet Ark. However he didn’t want to show his current appearance to Ark. A man also had his own pride. If he was going to meet Ark in reality then he wanted to be standing on his own two feet. Even if he meet Ark in that state in reality, he wouldn’t be able to get the answer he desired. Ark’s talent shone in a virtual reality game. This was the reason why the youth started playing Galaxian.
There was an unforeseen difficulty. He committed a crime in order to personally meet Ark on a disputed planet! However he was sent to Hanan and encountered someone he couldn’t face. It was a Rama user called the Red Slaughter.
‘Today was the 5th time……’
That was the number of times he encountered the Red Slaughter on Hanan. And the result was a total failure. He encountered him 5 times and experienced 5 defeats. Several factors affected the outcome of a battle in the game. Apart from level and equipment, Galaxian also had the battle suits. Before meeting the Red Slaughterer, he had experienced death many times.
‘The Red Slaughterer is different from other users.’
The Red Slaughterer never once used his battle suit when facing the youth. He didn’t use anything except for the most basic skills. Yet the youth still wasn’t a match for the Red Slaughterer. It wasn’t a mere level difference. He was an experienced gamer so he could distinguish it with the first battle.
‘Strong! This guy is strong! This is the power of the person, not the character!’
However, there was a separate reason the youth was interested in the Red Slaughter. After being killed by the Red Slaughter in combat a few times, he finally heard his words through the federation’s interpreter.
–Until when do I have to face these trivial guys? Is Ark ready yet?
Since then the youth’s target was the Red Slaughterer. He didn’t know who he was. Or why he wanted to fight against Ark. But here was another user eager to meet Ark. It was like saying the youth had no right to meet Ark. At that moment, the youth felt like he had to defeat the Red Slaughterer first before meeting Ark. And that was the reality. If he couldn’t defeat the Red Slaughterer then Hanan had no chance. He wouldn’t be able to return to Istana to meet Ark.
‘I need to knock him down with my own hands. And I’m going to meet Ark!’
“Pant pant pant, I’m going to do this!”
The young man gnashed his teeth and raised his body again. He had already been going through rehabilitation for an hour but there was no time to take a break. He needed to be strong. His abilities needed to be strong, not just his character. While the youth was undergoing his rehabilitation…..
“Your son is really motivated today.”
“I was worried when he asked to play the virtual reality game but it seems I didn’t need to.”
His father and doctor were waiting outside.
Ark said with a sigh. He was watching his appearance on the TV. He wasn’t an entertainer so he wasn’t entirely comfortable with it but he liked to catch his appearance on TV. Yet when he watched it he saw his pet bat harassing women, his skeleton being depressed and his snake was so fat that it had trouble flying……
Therefore Ark had been humiliated in front of the whole nation. But Ha Myung-woo’s reaction was different.
“That’s it, that’s good. It was what I wanted. In fact, aren’t there a lot of game broadcasts these days? They just show skills and hunting monsters. Therefore the public lost interest in those type of scenes. And isn’t gag the trend these days? Look at how many people are watching it! It is a jackpot. It has only been a few hours and it has already crossed 3 million views. Those 3 million people are probably grabbing their stomachs while rolling with laughter. Congratulations. Until now there had been a lot of stories about bad encounters with you on the internet. After the broadcast, your image has changed to a funny kid. Isn’t that image a lot better? Fortunately the number of connections also increased.”
……Of course he wasn’t happy at all.
‘I wanted to look good!’
But who would believe him if he said that now? The appearance of the genie in Selebrid evoked admiration from the crowd but if he appeared again then they would probably start laughing.
‘This is the first time I feel more comfortable inside Galaxian than New World.’
Ark scratched his head and looked around. It was a place with large and small buildings filled with aliens. It was no different from other cities but just yesterday this city was under an unidentified biohazard attack that changed corpses into monsters. The city’s name was Charem. And Ark was the one who settled Charem’s problem. Ark didn’t rest in order to settle Charem’s problem but the last day was the most hectic. This was because there were a lot of things to clean up. If Ark tried to sum up all the work he had to do in one day……
‘What? This atmosphere?’
When Ark exited the power facility. Charem was wrapped in a lot of tension. Marquis Martin and the Aschulat ambassador that looked like ET witnessed Ark fighting the Mumu and signed a tacit truce afterwards. Both sides penetrated Charem’s shield and took care of the remaining Sufferers. However the residents of Charem were still anxious. The atmosphere felt like the federation and Aschulat were able to start a war with Charem in the centre. Of course there was a reason for it.
“I know the situation now.”
Marquis Martin nodded. Ark had explained it after he exited the facility and joined the federation army’s camp.
“There is no doubt that it was a misunderstanding. But it isn’t possible to remove the federation army now. The inner circumstances doesn’t change the fact that Charem is an illegal city. The federation army has already burst into Charem so we can’t pretend we don’t know about it anymore. If we remove the troops then it will be like admitting that the federation endorses smuggling.”
“Is that why the Aschulat isn’t leaving?”
“I guess so.”
Marquis Martin replied in a cold voice.
“But we can’t leave even if a war starts with the Aschulat.”
‘He really is playing around. Who do you think solved Charem’s problem?’
Ark was the one who settled it yet they are fighting amongst themselves. Ark was annoyed that the federation and Aschulat troops were fighting with each other after all his efforts. But that was a separate matter. He sent the GPS information to the federation so he had completed the <Charem’s Infiltration> quest. It didn’t matter if a war started as long as he received the compensation. However, this wasn’t the only quest that Ark received. There was the <Operation to retake the management system> quest that he received after entering Charem. And Ark had to receive that quest reward from Lord Java. If a war started then he couldn’t receive the compensation from Java. There were other reasons but……
‘Anyway, I have to somehow stop the war over Charem!’
“I’ll be the mediator.”
Ark thought for a while before starting to talk.
“You will be the mediator? Do you think you can solve this problem?”
“Yes, I think it can be solved simply if Marquis-nim and the Aschulat ambassador make some concessions.”
“What do I need to concede?”
“Leave Charem like it is.”
“Of course there will be some conditions. This problem is because Charem occupies an area in the federation’s territory without permission and illegal smugglers can freely enter or leave. If the federation forcibly suppressed Charem then the Aschulat will become your enemy. There’s currently a war against the Rama so this would be a tremendous burden on the federation. Then Marquis Martin won’t be able to do anything.”
“You’re stating the obvious. I already understand the circumstances. Yet you’re still me to just withdraw?”
“Is some moral justification necessary?”
“You can withdraw if Charem isn’t an illegal city anymore. So Charem will come into the open. The galactic federation will manage the city. Of course the Aschulat won’t just give up the rights to Charem. But couldn’t the federation call it something like a special, autonomous trading region?”
“Your words are quite cheeky for a mere pioneer.”
Marquis Martin sent Ark an unpleasant look and said.
“If that’s the case then I can certainly withdraw the troops. However, that means the federation needs to yield to the Aschulat. Did you think I would accept such a proposal?”
“If they receive a gift then shouldn’t we get something in return?”
“I heard that the Aschulat removed their troops for no reason after the Rama war started. Marquis Martin can nominate a condition that they send troops into the battlefield.”
“Sending troops to the Bellin battlefields……!”
Marquis Martin murmured with a surprised expression. He was locked in thought for a moment before asking.
“Do you think the Aschulat ambassador will accept such a request?”
“He will accept.”
Ark answered like there was no need to worry about it.
“For the same reason that Marquis-nim will accept my request.”
“Hah, don’t make me laugh. Why do I need to accept your request?”
“Because of this.”
Ark grinned and lifted a small bag. When he received the <Charem’s Infiltration> quest, he also received the <Intelligence Agent Kara> sub quest. Ark had been really interested in the contents of this bag while wandering around Charem. However, the lock on the bag required a higher hacking skill than Ark possessed. Yet he still attempted to open the bag. While he had trapped in the power facility after killing the Mumu, Ark used that time to raise his hacking proficiency. The main items that androids dropped were circuit parts.
The information was part of an unknown program remaining in the circuit. Sometimes the Nymphe’s memory from someone who suddenly died would become mixed in with the circuit. Of course, most times that information was worthless. Sometimes it contained information about a city or home finances. But sometimes GPS information about new dungeons would be mixed in with that information. The problem was the master of the Nymphe.
-Kara…..recognition code (T-3012)…..member of Marquis Martin’s intelligence squad…..
Marquis Martin’s intelligence agent Kara! To his surprise, the memory of Kara’s Nymphe was mixed in with the hacked circuit. The memory contained several pages of Kara’s notepad. Ark thought that he might find a clue for the password of the locked bag. And…..bingo!
|-Java Work Lv10
Item Type: Destructive Hacking Program
A destructive hacking program used by the galactic federation’s special intelligence bureau. If you connect this program to the terminal of a specific system then the Java Work will force the terminal to transmit information to the device. Usually high level security systems attached to the terminal will prevent hacking but Java Work uses physical methods to extract data from most machines. But if Java Work is used, the system will suffer irreparable damage.
<Forcibly extract information from the target system>
This was the identity of the bag! Ark sensed something after seeing the contents of the bag.
‘Now I understand. This is why Marquis Martin hid the contents of the bag from me despite asking me to sneak into Charem. Marquis Martin wasn’t interested in why Charem cut off contact with the federation. No, he actually thought it was a chance. Charem is a lawless city but it is actually similar to an information base for the Aschulat. Therefore the federation could obtain a lot of information about the Aschulat and Rama from Charem. There is also the information about the various contraband goods traded. If all that information enters Marquis Martin’s hands……’
Marquis Martin could grasp Charem’s weaknesses. The person who controlled Charem could spread out throughout the galaxy. This was the true reason why Marquis Martin didn’t give up despite the threat of a war. If Marquis Martin obtained the data stored in Charem’s central system then he could blackmail the Aschulat and Rama.
ET also knew this and was 100% not going to give up.
Marquis Martin immediately turned pale when he was shown the bag.
“How did you open that bag…..did you…..?”
“There is no data about Charem.”
When he opened the bag both groups were already confronting each other over control of the tower. But he could use the contents of the bag even if there was no data on it.
“Won’t it be a problem if the Aschulat discover that you wanted to deliver this to Kara who already infiltrated Charem?”
“Are you threatening me?”
Marquis Martin was indeed very quick at understanding his words. Ark just sat without talking and Marquis Martin narrowed his eyes at him.
“….What do you want?”
In fact, this was the most difficult part for Ark. He obtained an item that he could blackmail Marquis Martin with. Couldn’t he obtain some pretty good things from it? The idea that popped into his head was money. Ark soon shook his head. The other person wasn’t a user but an NPC. There was a limit to how much he could ask even if he grasped the weakness. Moreover, the person was an influential noble in the galactic federation so it was foolish to turn their relationship hostile. There was a limit to how much users could get from NPCs. If he didn’t squeeze too much then he could maintain a good relationship with the NPC. That was Ark’s cardinal rule. Besides, Java Work didn’t contain any data so he actually had nothing. Marquis Martin was confused but if he gave him too much time to think then he would calm down.
‘I’ll also receive the quest reward soon so there is no need to make the appreciation drop.’
“I just want to mediate freely.”
Marquis Martin looked at Ark before sighing.
“Okay. If the Aschulat promise to seen troops to the Bellin constellation to support us then I will agree. The Aschulat also has to accept from their side.”
It was easier to persuade ET than it was Marquis Martin. This was because the Aschulat would 100% lose if there was a battle over Charem. The federation would get their hands on Charem. But if the Aschulat accepted the offer then Charem would change from an illegal city to an autonomous trade region. And the problem of the support army for the Bellin constellation……
–Charem was actually the reason that we withdrew the troops. We thought the federation was the reason why Charem suddenly cut off contact. But we couldn’t question it at the diplomatic meeting because officially Charem isn’t associated with the Aschulat. It isn’t difficult to send reinforcements now that we know it was a misunderstanding.
That was ET’s words. Thus the negotiations were a success! Once Marquis Martin and ET shook hands and signed the agreement, an information window appeared on his Nymphe.
|-You have received the title of <Mediator>.
You have managed to persuade Marquis Martin and the Aschulat ambassador and stopped the battle that originated from a misunderstanding. Therefore Marquis Martin and the Aschulat ambassador have given you the title of Mediator. This title will be recognized in both the galactic federation and the Aschulat.
You have also received the recognition of the Aschulat ambassador. This means you are qualified to access the constellations until the control of the Aschulat. You have also resolved Charem’s problem and can receive various conveniences in Charem.
<Title Effect: Mediator (Wisdom +15, Intelligence +15)>
+ 1,000 additional fame. + 500 contribution to the Galactic Federation and the Aschulat is obtained.
+ 30% discount when using various services in Charem.
+ Qualified to access Aschulat controlled planets.
This was the first compensation that Ark obtained. And the second was the quest rewards. He could receive compensation for the two main quests <Charem’s Infiltration> and <Operation to retake the management system>. And Ark was already thinking about the rewards for those quests.
“Now, speaking of the successful mission……”
Marquis Martin brought it up first after they finished negotiations with ET. Ark’s eyes flashed and he said.
“Money! Please give me money!”
By default users could select the quest reward in Galaxian. But there was only one choice for him. Money! In the game he would sometimes encounter a quest item he didn’t like or it was an item he couldn’t use. He would have no choice but to sell it at auctions. Therefore Galaxian had a money system to avoid this hassle. Of course, the compensation matched the value of the item.
“I don’t want to go through the trouble of returning to Nabe so I prefer this.”
Therefore he received 1,250 gold! In fact 1,250 gold was a large amount for a quest reward. It was well beyond the price of the current top rated item traded and was probably the highest amount received from a single quest reward.
‘Of course I could’ve received an item worth 1,250 gold but…..’
Right now Ark needed money.
+ 30% discount when using various services in Charem.
That was something he received with the title. It wasn’t applicable to items bought in Charem. It was applied to services provided by Charem such as the Star Gate or Fairy. But Ark had an item the moment he saw it.
‘Agent registration certification!’
Ark’s primary goal was the agent registration! When Ark checked, the price to purchase an agent registration right in the galactic federation was 27,000 gold. However, he could receive a 30% discount from all services provided in Charem. In other words, he could save 8,100 if he bought the agent registration right in Charem. The final price was 18,900 gold. And Ark currently had 17,400 gold.
‘Now Marquis Martin gave me 1,250 gold! 18,650 gold! I only need 250 gold! I still need to receive the quest reward by Java so I can purchase it immediately! And there’s also the money from selling all my japtem obtained from Charem!’
In fact, buying an agent registration certificate in an illegal city meant nothing. However he negotiated with both parties and now Charem was a special autonomous trade region. If he registered in Charem then he would receive the same benefits as registering with the federation. And the cost of registering was 30% cheaper! His goal was right around the corner! Ark’s heart jumped at the idea. Since Java’s quarters in the control tower was still being repaired, Ark headed towards Java’s temporary lodging.
Then he suddenly heard a familiar voice. He turned and saw Clark and Pureah approaching.
“Phew, why are you wandering around so much? We’ve been looking for you for a while.”
“Did you come to receive the compensation from Java?”
“We previously signed a contract so it had been settled. However the control tower isn’t functioning yet so the short distance gates isn’t working. Since the city has been closed for a while, the merchants are having problems with delivery. The Aschulat are sending several transport ships so we are also leaving. We wanted to say goodbye before leaving.”
“You’re leaving right now? Why all of a sudden……?”
“Haven’t you heard yet? Marquis Martin and the Aschulat made an agreement a short while ago after some negotiations. We heard that the pioneer called Ark who became a major war hero on Beltana was the mediator…..he doesn’t seem ordinary if he was able to negotiate with both sides. Are you from the federation too? Have you seen the person called Ark?”
Ark scratched his head and hesitated. Clark and Pureah still knew Ark as Alan. Charem was designated the autonomous trade region so there was no reason to hide his identity now. In fact, he felt bad that he was deceiving them. However he hid his identity so there would be issues if he revealed it.
‘The problem is the Hyde Helmet.’
It was good at hiding his identity but the intimacy would drop to 0 with the NPCs the moment he took it off. The intimacy for ‘Alan’ would be wasted.
‘Still, if I want Clark and Pureah to join me……’
He didn’t want to waste all the intimacy he gained. He just didn’t know if Clark who was a Rama could accept his identity. The federation was the reason Clark was leaving Charem.
“Either way, Charem is now affiliated with the federation. Even if it is an autonomous trade region, the federation and Rama were at war so Java couldn’t allow hostile species to freely access it. It is unlikely that I will ever come back. Kalbern is also dead and the Phoenix squad disbanded so there is no reason to remain.”
‘Well, I guess but…..”
He discovered this after defeating the Mumu but the Phoenix members weren’t pioneers. That was normal. Ark was sent to Beltana and lived with NPCs that were pioneers but only 0.1% of NPCs were actually pioneers. No matter how strong the remaining 99.9% were, it was the end if they died. This was the reason that the galactic federation and 4 large companies gave users and pioneers special treatment. They had an immortal body and could face the risks on the space frontier. It was the reason Ark wanted to create the Royal Guards! NPC pioneers were rare NPCs. Just as Ark was thinking this.
“Unfortunately it can’t be helped. I’m proud to be a member of the Phoenix squad. And we are the remaining 3 members of the Phoenix squad. That fact won’t change no matter where we go in the galaxy. Even if we become enemies on the battlefield, I will still regard you as fellow soldiers. So you shouldn’t forget me.”
“Yes, I won’t forget.”
Clark laughed and nodded his head.
“Then I’ll see you next time. Let’s meet again one day.”
Clark and Pureah said goodbye and joined up with the crowds. He couldn’t keep going with NPCs who weren’t Royal Guard members but he felt somewhat lonely as they walked away. But he didn’t have time to be depressed!
“I received quite a bit in the meantime. Character information window!”
|Character Information Window|
|Health||1,850 (+90)||Mental Power||1,000 (+75)|
|Stamina||335 (+18)||Wisdom||20 (+5)|
Cleaning Foreman (Agility + 3)
Ignorant Destroyer (Wisdom -10, Strength +7, Stamina +7)
Beltana’s Hero (Strength, Agility, Stamina, Wisdom, Intelligence, Luck +3)
Mediator (Wisdom, Intelligence +15)
|** Contribution: Galactic Federation 6,850, Aschulat 500|
|*Body Coating: Survivor
+ Environmental adaptation increases by 50% due to the Survivor coating.
+ The Survivor coating reduces the drop rate of Satiety by 30%.
+ The Survivor coating will reduce fall damage by 50%.
+The ‘Clairvoyance’ effect of the Survivor coating is applied.
Of course! His depressed mood flew away at the sight of the information window. Ark had been level 67 when he arrived in Charem. And now he was level 79! Now was his 5th day in Charem so he had gained 12 levels in 4 days. That was an average of 3 levels a day. He could also gather the money for the agent registration rights soon! But was that all? The items he got from the control tower and the Mumu! The Murat’s pyramid! His Mediator title! He already received a lot of compensation. There was no reason for him to be depressed.
“There’s no time. I still have a lot of work to do. The quest reward from Java, the agent registration…..and contacting the Royal Guards. Huhuhu, I’ll surprise them after the agent registration is complete. And it took me a while to reach here so shouldn’t I look around? Ah, I also need to find the missing octopuses and report back to Elder Bakum. And Milan! If I decrypt the letters on the slab then I might find a new Murat ruin!”
There were still a lot of things for him to arrange. It wasn’t the time to be playing around.
“Let’s go! GO! GO! GO!”
Ark shouted vigourously as he ran across Charem.
After the negotiations with ET were concluded. Marquis Martin sat in the control room of his cruiser and laughed.
“I covet that guy the more I see him.”
Marquis Martin didn’t feel bad about Ark suddenly blackmailing him. No, he actually appreciated Ark even more. In fact, Marquis Martin also though about negotiations when ET was opposing him. Like Ark said, they were in a war with the Rama so it was stupid to antagonize the Aschulat. But Ark solved that problem while he was worrying about it. However his evaluation of Ark increased due to different reasons.
‘He isn’t greedy. He works hard and isn’t greedy.’
Ark could request anything other than negotiations when threatening Marquis Martin. Marquis Martin wouldn’t accept any unacceptable proposal. And if Ark informed Aschulat of the contents of the bag then he would have no way to appease them. Ark also knew this fact. However, he only asked to do the negotiations so Marquis Martin’s favourable impression of him increased. It seemed easy but it wasn’t as simple as it looked.
‘He can be quite useful.’
Marquis Martin was thinking such thoughts.
“Marquis-nim, we are receiving communication from the central government!”
“The central government? I’ve already sent them the report about the negotiation with the Aschulat…..connect.”
Marquis Martin turned and saw the form of someone from the central government.
“What is going on?”
The official hesitated for a while before saying.
–20 minutes ago we received a report that the Rama have captured Hanan.
“So it turned out like that……”
Marquis Martin’s expression didn’t change. When considering the military situation, it was something easily predicted.
“Understood. I will return to the central government after I arrive back in Nabe. I will listen to the report there.”
“There is still more to report?”
–Shortly after the war ended, the Rama on Hanan sent us this video.
The screen changed after the official finished talking. It was the smouldering ruins of the federation’s base on Hanan. At first h couldn’t understand the intent of the video. But after watching for a while, he noticed that the placement of the federation bodies were strange. It was like it was purposely arranged……
The bodies formed a series of letters. Someone used the corpses to send a message to the federation. Surprisingly the message was…..
I’m sending a challenge to Ark.
The Red Slaughterer.
“What the, this is?”
Marquis Martin’s face warped.
TO BE CONTINUED