Sovereign of Judgment

 
 

Sovereign of Judgment Chapter 97


Episode 6: Mafia Game / Chapter 97: At the ruins (3)

TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk


{TL/N} 'evil hand of night' -> 'monster of night', author changed its name.

"That bastard attacked me first!"

Berserker Kim Minhee shouted in a dejected voice. She was currently being investigated for murder. Lee Jinhee, who was investigating her, leaned on the back of her chair, displaying an indifferent expression.

"But, you see, there are many witnesses saying that you provoked him."

"Provoke? I provoked him? That's what those Kalin clan bastards are saying, right? Director, do you believe what they say?"

"There's no reason not to. Either way, we're all on the same side."

"Same side?! I don't know about other clans but that Kalin clan isn't! Those bastards fled when we were dealing with the sululacks! How can we be on the same side as those who only look after themselves!"

"So you're saying you're innocent?"

"Ah damn… Since I killed someone, I'll take the punishment."

"What punishment?"

"… I'll take charge of setting up the washroom pits."

"Are you joking? Murder means a death penalty. You know this."

"I told you! It was self-defence!"

She protested as if she truly felt this was unfair. Her voice also became louder.

"And I'm a Berserker! It's really strange these days! Without listening to us properly about how things are unfair, you just say 'death penalty' like it's nothing! We are like family! Aren't you supposed to at least trust the words of your fellow Berserkers?! This is unfair! Unni! Are you really going to kill me? Unni, you know me! I don't kill people for no reason!"

As if she really found this unfair, Kim Minhee slammed the table as she stood up. She was a Berserker who normally had a good and close relationship with Lee Jinhee.

This was exactly why Lee Jinhee was the one handling this incident. Although she was busy investigating the various murders and brawls that would break out every day, she wanted to personally conduct the investigation of Kim Minhee and volunteered for it.

Lee Jinhee said in a low voice,

"… Yeah. Berserkers. We are like family… Minhee, when did you join the Berserkers?"

Lee Jinhee asked as she picked up the file she left on the side. Although she didn't act like it, Lee Jinhee was very nervous right now.

'Please… Please…'

Lee Jinhee inwardly pleaded again and again.

"Me? About… 2 years?… Maybe 1 year?"

As if flustered by the sudden question, Kim Minhee's answer was vague. 'Ah…' Lee Jinhee's hand, which was flipping through the file, slipped. Still, she continued to question her as if nothing was wrong.

"Okay. How did you awaken?"

"Ah… Don't ask me that. It's horrible."

Lee Jinhee frowned at her words.

"… Okay."

Thud.

Lee Jinhee placed the file down on the table with a thud. She unsheathed her new sword that had been smelted with semi-transparent metal, 'Silent Ice', and asked,

"I get it. Then let's check one last thing."

Lee Jinhee placed Silent Ice's sharp blade on her own forehead.

"Haa… I really hate this."

After letting out a sigh, she sliced her forehead.

Pik!

Her flesh and frontal bone{1} were cut instantly. As if she restrained it with karma, not a single drop of her blood spilled. In that state, Lee Jinhee showed the inside of her forehead to Kim Minhee. She could see a light gray brain inside.

"Di-director! What's this!!"

Kim Minhee shouted as if she were freaked out by Lee Jinhee's sudden self-inflicted wound. It seemed that Lee Jinhee found her noisy as she stretched her hand out to restrain her, and then took out two glass bottles containing a transparent liquid from her chest. She opened one of the two bottles and poured it on her wound. The moment the transparent liquid made contact with her brain, it emitted a golden light as it protected her open forehead and began to seal her wound.

"This is a liquid made by Guardian Bae Jinman. It won't leave a scar."

Without showing any sign that it hurt, Lee Jinhee calmly conducted this terrifying process. Then she tossed the remaining bottle and a sharp sword at Kim Minhee and said,

"Now it's your turn. Do what I did. That's an order."

Kim Minhee became dumbfounded.

**

At the same time, Choi Hyuk was in the middle of a meeting with the important clan leaders.

"Do you know how many murders there have been? The monsters aren't the problem! We'll die by fighting amongst ourselves!"

Resolutely remarked Lumin, a popular clan leader. His words were also a direct attack on Choi Hyuk's commanding abilities. It was a 'dangerous' remark.

Yet, it wasn't like his words were wrong.

Choi Hyuk's army was currently swept with severe distrust and conflict. People killed each other. This didn't change even if they made the punishment more severe. Every few hours, another brawl would break out and someone would die. Whether there was a punishment or not, murders and fights didn't cease. They killed each without thinking of the consequences. They hated those next to them more than the monsters.

Even still, Choi Hyuk couldn't provide a clear countermeasure. It seemed he only wanted to quickly complete the mission as he only quickened his advance. However, the monsters didn't directly clash with Choi Hyuk's army. They simply avoided them and fled. If they kept subjugating and pushing the monsters into a corner, then they might eventually be able to take them out… But it would take too long to reach that point. The conflicts between the colonizers and clans had inflated to the point where war could break out at any moment.

Yet, there was no solution.

"… So what are we going to do?"

Clan Leader Jiro asked in an annoyed tone. He glanced at Choi Hyuk and Baek Seoin and said,

"Don't you already know? We can't return to Earth now. It's already been 3 days since we've been shut out of the 'military gate system'. So what do you want to do?"

That was so.

At first, they couldn't retreat because of Choi Hyuk's opposition, but now, that wasn't the case. Everyone became aware of this fact with Richard's message.

<The messenger I sent to the Virgo Cluster Headquarters returned… He said our mission changed. To find what is going on in this place. Until we do, the military gate system will be closed… Damn, I can't tell what they are thinking.>

The closure of the gate meant the closure of their escape route.

To the clan leaders who desperately wished to retreat, this was like a bolt out of the blue.

"That's why if we had already retreated…"

Someone leaked the thought that everyone inwardly thought but couldn't say. At the same time, the mood in the meeting room chilled. At that word, everyone became so nervous their spines stiffened. This was because everyone was afraid of Choi Hyuk.

However, Clan Leader Lumin didn't read the mood and raised his voice,

"Even if we let bygones be bygones, we can't go on like this! Everyone will die! We can't ignore the conflicts between the clans these days either. A civil war might break out!"

"Ah, just stop it…"

Even when the clan leaders next to him tried to stop him, Lumin didn't listen.

"No! I need to say what needs to be said! Overseer Choi Hyuk! I, Lumin, have never held dissatisfaction with the Berserkers' actions! I always quietly cooperated! However, not this time. Overseer!"

When Lumin raised his voice, Clan Leader Jiro, who was very friendly towards Choi Hyuk, began to criticize Lumin,

"What are you doing? Don't you know your current actions are bringing about more disorder?"

Another heated argument broke out in the meeting room. Jiro simply criticized Lumin while Lumin, frustrated, said that they need to take note of the current situation and find a solution. Some clan leaders joined in on the debate, but the majority of the clan leaders maintained an uncomfortable silence.

Choi Hyuk raised his hand.

Everyone became quiet.

"Isn't it weird?"

Those were his first words.

"No matter how hotheaded colonizers' tempers are… Isn't the current situation too strange? Doesn't it seem like we aren't able to control the situation at all?"

"Yes! That's what I mean!"

Lumin raised his voice.

"Be quiet and listen!"

And Jiro scolded him.

However, Choi Hyuk still didn't care.

"Let me tell you something interesting."

He instead began to talk about a story out of context.

"It's a story about the day of the first murder… So the day Richard told us it was impossible to return to Earth."

**

On the day they suffered heavy casualties with the sudden appearance of the sululacks and vassal starving ghosts and the sudden murders and brawls broke out, Choi Hyuk was contacted by Richard.

<Overseer Choi Hyuk, is there anyone around you? If there is, leave. There's something we need to talk about privately.>

It just so happened to be during a meeting with the executives of the Berserkers. A frustrating meeting with no conclusion.

"… Good timing. 10-minute break. Everyone go out for a bit and come back."

Once everyone left at Choi Hyuk's request, Richard immediately asked,

<You have the black cube they said was an exploration device you received before the mission, right?>

"I do."

<Take that out. Right now.>

With a bit of doubt, Choi Hyuk followed Richard's words and took out the black cube from his bag. It was the item he had suddenly received from Tangka of the Armored Soul tribe.

"Huh?"

Choi Hyuk was surprised. The black cube was no longer black. It was tinged red as it pulsed.

After seeing that, Richard held his forehead.

<As expected, you too…>

"What? What is it?"

<The messenger I sent to the Virgo cluster during the day returned. From what he said… there's no support. They said that they will restrict the right to use the military gate system as well. Meaning we can't choose to retreat anymore.>

"What? Why?"

He never planned on retreating from the beginning. However, there was a clear difference between 'not retreating' and 'not being able to retreat'. Even Choi Hyuk couldn't help but become sensitive.

<This black cube… No, should I call it a red cube now? It's an exploration device, but it's not a resource exploration device like we thought."

"Then what is it?"

<Doppelganger.>

"… What?"

<The doppelganger that appeared during the placement evaluation after the training. It's a device for locating them!>

"…"

Choi Hyuk recalled the placement evaluation which allowed him to receive the right to an independent troop. Then he recalled the doppelganger that imitated Chu Youngjin at the end. If Choi Hyuk hadn't noticed his killing intent through his Eyes of Distinction, Choi Hyuk might have been killed.

"… Didn't they say we wouldn't face them?"

That time, the instructor definitely said, 'You will rarely face doppelgangers. Only, it is customary to put that monster in the placement evaluation.'

<That's what's strange. For some reason, they never gave us proper information from the start. Whether it was because they were purposely trying to screw us over or it was a situation where they had to keep it a secret… Either way, what's certain is that the cube is currently red. If it's red, that means there are doppelgangers active around you. Doppelgangers are a species that are treated similarly to a top rank infectious disease. That means we can't leave until we completely take out all the doppelgangers or until the doppelganger-handling group arrives.>

"… When will the doppelganger-handling group arrive?"

<We don't know for sure… They are a team that is active in the vast universe… Since there aren't a lot of cases where doppelgangers are rampant, there aren't a lot of teams from the start.>

"…"

The morale of the troops was a mess because of the sululacks and the vassal starving ghosts. If doppelgangers imitated colonizers in this current situation? Choi Hyuk grabbed his forehead. It was bleak.

"How do we distinguish doppelgangers?"

Although he possessed Eyes of Distinction, it was only semi-useful. Choi Hyuk currently led millions of people. It was impossible to examine each and every one of them, and among them, there were countless people who would possess killing intent towards Choi Hyuk without being doppelgangers. It couldn't be helped due to his violent subjugation of the clans. It was difficult to distinguish whether someone was a doppelganger or not with his Eyes of Distinction.

However, the method Richard told him was even less accurate.

<Doppelgangers invade your nose or ears in the shape of a small bug. Usually, only warriors below the 2-star level are at risk for infection, but if their karma is unstable, like during a war, they could infect warriors above the 3-star level. First, the invading doppelganger eats the brain and acts as the host, but during that process, they absorb the sacrifice's memories and abilities. However… even still, they aren't able to clearly remember their past, and their combat abilities are lower than before… Well, they said we can distinguish them like that.>

That inaccuracy made Choi Hyuk sigh.

As if he noticed Choi Hyuk's gloominess, Richard quickly proposed a more accurate method. But… they couldn't use that method currently.

<Besides that… We should be able to distinguish them with the cube…>

"But?"

<Because the monster of night is blocking it, it seems it is difficult to use that high-level function.>

It was a difficult problem all around. Yet, there still seemed to be a method.

"Then we need to take out the monster of night. Where is it?"

Richard smiled at Choi Hyuk's words. An expression showing 'I knew you'd say that.' In a quiet voice, he said,

<No one knows. But I have a plan.>

Choi Hyuk saw confidence in Richard's eyes. A confidence that showed they could take out the monster of night and clear the doppelgangers if they followed his plan. Richard had come up with a plan in this chaotic situation.

'As expected…'

Choi Hyuk nodded in admiration.

'Ah, but?'

With his sudden thought, he cut Richard off.

"Wait. Wait, but… How about we split their heads?"

<What? What do you mean?>

"Doppelgangers. You said their larvae eat brains."

<That's right.>

"So if we split open their heads, can't we see whether they are doppelgangers or not?"

Richard froze at Choi Hyuk's ignorant statement. Then he thought about it, contemplating whether it made sense or not. Then the surprising result was that it actually made sense.

<Uh… Yeah. A completely developed doppelganger will usually imitate the brain so it might not be useful, but we should be able to reveal doppelgangers that are still developing.>

"Really? Then what happens if we pour a healer's karma into a completely developed doppelganger? Will it receive a similar effect like healing?"

<… I don't think so.>

That was the conversation Choi Hyuk had with Richard that day.

**

"So-so there are doppelgangers among us now? That's why we are fighting more than necessary?"

Clan Leader Jiro nervously gulped his saliva after listening to Choi Hyuk's words. His eyes became sharp as he looked around.

"Then I suspect Lumin. Isn't he the one interrupting meetings at every step and aggravating disorder?"

"What are you talking about?! Am I a doppelganger just because you don't like me?"

The meeting room became rowdy once again. Not only that, but there was an overabundance of killing intent. When they thought that they didn't simply have different opinions but that there were monsters pretending to be humans, it made their blood freeze.

The clan leaders were suspicious of each other and tried their best to prove they weren't doppelgangers.

Amidst all of this, Choi Hyuk displayed a dumbfounded expression.

"Just what were you listening to?"

As he said that, he unsheathed 'Imprint' and placed it on his forehead.

Pik.

His frontal bone was cut and they could see the gray internals inside. Choi Hyuk poured the liquid containing Bae Jinman's karma in it. Nothing happened. Only his wound was healed.

While no one could take their eyes off that scene, the elites of the Berserkers moved.

Chu Youngjin, Ryu Hyunsung, Baek Seoin, Bae Jinman, Handke and the other directors, as well as team leaders like Alexei, jumped out and surrounded the meeting room, preventing anyone from leaving.

In that state, Choi Hyuk aimed 'Imprint' at the clan leaders.

"Now, stick your heads out."


{1} Frontal Bone/Frontal Cranial Bone - The part of your skull in the forehead region.

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