“First, it’s to test the Expeditionary Forces’ ability to close and reopen the Gate.”
Isaac explained to Rivelia, but Noxvil and Mazelan had been eagerly eavesdropping as well and nodded with a serious expression. If this was true, then there was no point in using all of their mana crystals to seal the gate. It would all have been for nothing.
“So you are starting a preemptive attack to prolong the Gate’s existence?”
“Always be pessimistic. The enemy is superior in every aspect when compared to you. Always focus on how to survive in that situation. This was a lesson taught to me by a commander I respected in the previous world.”
Isaac stretched out his hand to pat Rivelia’s head like a teacher would to a model student, but Rivelia slapped Isaac’s hand away with disgust.
“What’s the second reason?”
“Can’t let the guest go empty-handed like this. It’s courtesy to give them a present. I’m sure they shit their pants just then.”
The gate went both ways. So if the Expeditionary Forces could come here, they could go to them as well. Whether it was humans or bullets. It must have been quite the surprise to be attacked preemptively for the first time. It’s very likely that countless soldiers were standing by in front of the Gate to cross over. What would happen if they were suddenly attacked at that point? Isaac snickered, imagining the panicked faces of the Expeditionary Forces.
“But there is no point in it. We are starting to run out of bullets already. They’ll know our circumstances when they send out another surveillance craft after our attack finishes.”
Rivelia pointed out. Isaac suddenly took a big stretch and massaged both of his shoulders and replied.
“Soldiers, you see, are taught and trained to retaliate first when attacked. It’s drilled so much into them that their body reacts before their mind.”
“A surprise attack they’d never imagined. It’ll be confusing at first. They may even consider withdrawing. But hang on, aren’t those their weapons? At that point, the choice to withdraw vanishes. Why? Because these yankees are so used to being under attack. They know well that they have the upper hand when fighting with the same weapons. Their bodies will react before their head in the sudden ambush. They’ll retaliate first and provide cover fire while the first transports cross over the Gate to form the first line of defence. Afterwards, they’ll send more troops as reinforcement. Moving just as they’d been trained. Soldiers are sad creatures.”
It was just as Isaac had said. The attack from agents had stopped because they had run dry, but ripples continued to form on the gate itself, showing that the Expeditionary Forces had started retaliating.
“Here it comes.”
Even before Isaac finished his muttering, an armoured transport rushed out of the Gate. It remained airborne for a moment before it plummeted into the pit.
The transport crashed onto the ground with a great roar as faint screams echoed in the background. More vehicles followed through the Gate only to plummet as well.
“Wow. Armoured transports and a tank too. Is that an Abrams? Look a little different?”
Isaac sat on the ground, appreciating the vehicles that came out of the Gate with fond nostalgia. But others who were watching the scene found it difficult to watch.
They were enemies, but this felt too cruel – even for them. Explosions and smoke rose from the pit, and a soldier would barely crawl out of the vehicle only to have another one land on top of him. Their screams and wails were eclipsed by the thunder of explosions.
No more vehicles appeared out of the gate after ten or so fell into the pit.
Rivelia watched the black smoke rise from the pit and spoke to Isaac.
“They seemed to have figured it out.”
“Their communication devices should still be connected even after passing through the Gate. How hard can it be for electric waves to pass through when even the flow of time is synchronized between two worlds. I guess our old lady’s growing old again.”
Isaac snickered, thinking of Yoo-rah, when Rivelia asked again.
“What were you going to do if the Expeditionary Forces closed the Gate and reopened it elsewhere as you’d expected?”
“The same issue applies to the Expeditionary Forces. There are only assumptions, no certainties. What if they closed and reopened the Gate only to find another pit there? Would they go through the adventure of reopening the gate when they’ve already suffered casualties? Or would they withdraw for now and prepare for the next assault? It’s not just this world that considers cost efficiency. Plus, commanders hate moving without concrete information. They may have reacted instinctively to this ambush, but they’ll regain their senses and send another surveillance craft through now that they’ve tasted blood. They’ll push through again if they think it’s still doable or withdraw otherwise.”
Isaac said, and he slapped the dust off his pants and started walking to the pit.
“Where are you going?”
“Just giving them my greetings.”
Isaac replied rudely and swung his pen. The ground split into two, creating a stairway for Isaac to walk down to the bottom. Isaac strolled down the stairs as Rivelia and other agents followed behind.
“Hm. I guess reality is different from imagination?”
Isaac expected the fallen vehicles to stack up in a giant pile. But they seemed to have rolled into different directions when they fell, scattering all over the place. The Abrams tank the U.S. boasted of had fallen headfirst into the ground, the cannon completely buried like a stick in the mud.
Scattered around the vehicles were bodies that were suspected to have been flung from their vehicles, their arms and legs twisted in all directions. Some remained in their seat with their seatbelt on, but their heads were spun backward, their tongues hanging out grotesquely. One of the soldiers seemed to have escaped out of their vehicle but was immediately crushed by another one. Only the arm poked out of the debris.
Even so, the screams and moans of those who had endured this trial reverberated throughout the pit. Isaac watched the disaster in front of him with a cigarette and asked Rivelia.
“Do you still take prisoners?”
“… We have no use of them anymore.”
“Then clean it up. Do you know what a camera looks like by any chance?”
“We use them to identify Central’s agents.”
Isaac smirked, hearing Rivelia’s answer.
“I swear you guys use everything that makes your lives easier.”
“… There’s nothing better than that that can be used to confirm our identities.”
“True. I guess it’s still difficult with this world’s technology to create photographs. Or have you simply not released the technology yet?”
No matter how infamous Central was, it always attracted flies looking to use its reputation for their own benefits. Flies that didn’t possess a brain to think with.
“Convenient. That means I don’t need to explain what it is. Bring one here. Don’t be too thorough with the search, since they may not have one. And bring me the least-scathed survivor here.”
The agents moved as Isaac had ordered. They searched each and every vehicle and dragged out the bodies one by one. Just a few swings of their swords and even the jammed doors were cut open like paper. The survivors screamed in agony as the agents dragged them out of their vehicle towards their deaths. A few simple English words and phrases such as ‘help me,’ ‘surrender,’ and ‘mama’ could be heard, only to be followed by silence. By the time Isaac’s cigarette went out, Rivelia led two agents dragging a soldier by his arms to him.
“This man is the least-injured.”
“What a lucky man.”
Only one of his arms was twisted in the opposite direction. The rest of his body was sound. It was a miracle, all things considered.
“Let’s see… Two bars, that means he’s a captain. Eheh! He’s an officer. You sure you don’t need information from him? Officers are high priority within the ranks you know.”
Isaac asked, and Rivelia coldly shook her head. Isaac shrugged and examined the captain once more, his eyes glistening when he spotted something.
“Wow? This shouldn’t be a standard-issue weapon? I guess Captains can get away with quite a lot using their rank.”
Isaac muttered and took out the object that was hanging on the Captain’s waist. A sawed-off double barrel shotgun. It only held 2 bullets at a time, so it was never used in the army as a standard-issue weapon. Why did he bring this here? Isaac wondered, but quickly found the answer. This world fought their wars with swords, so a shotgun had much more stopping power than a rifle against those who managed to break through the firing line. If they approached that close, they were in imminent danger. If you missed two shots, no matter what weapon it was, you were good as dead anyway.
“Now, now. Seems like he’s quite experienced here.”
Isaac found the shotgun to his liking, and opened the barrel to check if it was loaded. He then searched the captain once more to loot for anything that he could use.
“Wow! Now this is what you call a miracle! That’s amazing. How is this in one piece? Looks like this man knows how to dress himself.”
Isaac found a pair of sunglasses in perfect condition from the Captain’s pocket. It wasn’t a sports goggle design that was issued by the army, but a Ray-Ban design. Isaac gleefully put on the sunglasses. The agents took a keen interest in the sight of Isaac wearing glasses. Disinterested, Rivelia asked him.
“What do we do with this man?”
“Hm? I’m done now. Throw him away. But what about the camera?”
“They’re all broken.”
“I swear, electronics these days are so flimsy. I bet electronic companies are in on a conspiracy to make them less durable so they can sell more.”
Rivelia’s silent stance was that it was none of her business. Put off, Isaac shrugged and ordered.
“Go and loot all the corpses and vehicles. Bring me everything they have. I want to see if there’s anything I can use.”
Rivelia nodded at Isaac’s order, when suddenly Noxvil’s voice came from above.
“Watch out from above!”
Everyone looked up to see what he meant, when an object fell out of the Gate to where everyone was.
The agents immediately scattered in all directions, when the object bounced off from the ground like a rubber ball toward Isaac.
Even before Isaac could react to the object flying toward him, Rivelia stood in front of Isaac. Isaac shouted out in desperation.
“Don’t break it!”
With that, Rivelia’s hand let go of her blade’s hilt and grabbed the object with one hand.
Rivelia’s actions were worthy of praise. To be able to stop a seemingly heavy object approaching at a high velocity with one hand at the drop of an order. Not to mention her footing was unstable. She was indeed a sword master, someone who had surpassed the limits of the human body.
“It’s surveillance equipment.”
Isaac recognised its design from the Royal Palace’s corridor. A rubber tube encircled it, probably to protect it from the initial impact. As soon as Rivelia put it down, the rubber tube deflated. The moment the tube deflated, the whir of a motor came to life, and it began moving.
“Oh! Seems like it’s intact? Hey, bring me that man over here.”
The agents brought the unconscious captain to Isaac, and all of the other agents that were scattered came to Isaac.
“What the? Why is it constantly moving? Hey, hold that camera still for me.”
The equipment had a camera with three lenses arranged in a triangle, and the camera constantly spun to look at its surroundings. Isaac grumbled, and two agents grabbed the equipment and fixed it in place with the camera pointing toward Isaac.
The camera spun constantly. Isaac smiled at the camera and approached the captain, who was behind held up by the shoulders. He pulled the Captain’s injured arm with all his might.
The Captain woke up with an inexplicable scream. Isaac flung his arms open as if greeting an old friend and spoke to the Captain.
“Hello! My name is Isaac. Do you know kimchi?”
“What the fuck…”
“Ah, sorry. That’s it.”
The captain barely managed to speak under the excruciating pain, but Isaac put the shotgun right under his chin and pulled the trigger. The Captain’s head exploded like a volcano.
The two agents that were holding the Captain flinched, suddenly showered in the blood. Isaac however, unphased by the blood spewing out from the neck, put his arm around the Captain’s shoulder like a friend, his body covered in blood. He then smiled at the camera and pointed the shotgun at it.
“Welcome to the new world.”