< Prototype (Part 2) >
Zin monitored the currently skyrocketing level of MCP, stuffing the herbs into his mouth. The herbs weren’t that effective, but this was okay since Zin’s body was somewhat immune to poison.
The outer wall area had a high level of density of MCP. Ordinary Reavers would have suffocated to death. The scavengers would not be able to find anything inside the outer wall. The Wargrave fortress buildings on the ground were all temporary. In the event that the fortress would get destroyed, the Wargrave had built structures to store their food supplies and weapons. The enemies would be focused on raiding the temporary buildings instead of the key buildings. The key buildings were built inside the underground bunkers. Most of the Wargrave forces lived underground, and they accessed the inner wall using the bunker elevators.
Most of the fortresses were built using the same blueprints. They were built in a way that allowed Wargrave soldiers dispatched to other fortresses to stay familiar with the structure. There were slight variations but they were all pretty much identical. If someone knew the structure of a single fortress, it would be the same as knowing the structure of all fortresses. Zin moved through the middle section of the inner and the outer wall. He was heading for the point between the fourth armory and the third barrack. At that location, there should be a secret door that could be opened with a password. However, Zin made a face as he approached that spot.
“… What’s this?”
The secret door was destroyed. The door was ripped apart and seemed to have been destroyed due to a large explosion.
Looking at the rust, it looks like it was recently destroyed.
It seemed to have happened recently, no more than a few months ago. The metal ladder that stretched down to the bunker looked fine, so Zin slid down the ladder.
The doors are all destroyed. It looks like someone forced their way through.
As Zin slid dozens of feet down the tunnel, he saw more demolished steel doors. Even if he used all the heat-pressure warheads, he wouldn’t be able to destroy a single steel door. The steel doors were designed to keep people away, and it was strange that something had managed to smash through them. For someone to destroy all five layers of steel doors, it meant that the person or the group had massive firepower.
Zin went down the ladder past the steel door as if he was on acrobatics until he reached the bottom.
“Is there still power?”
Zin was surprised to see that the lights were aglow on the alleyway leading to the bunker.
If the Wargrave had closed the fortress, there should be no power. Zin entered the bunker and walked silently. There was dust everywhere leading to the inner doors.
Zin spotted two sets of footprints on the floor. They seemed to have been made recently.
One was barefoot, and the other wore boots.
Zin was able to guess who had worn the boots.
Charl, did you destroy the doors?
Zin was amazed at the thought of the firepower that could destroy all five steel doors. He saw that the footprints going inside were of the boots, but the footsteps coming out were barefoot.
Zin realized the meaning of this and quickly moved in. Something had also destroyed the door separating the inside and outside as well. There were different bunkers, and Zin quickly scouted the armory first. As he looked inside the barracks, he was left feeling disgust.
… So I guess they closed it down?
Inside the bunker, there were many recently killed soldiers lying all over the place.
Must be the monster’s doing.
No corpse was left intact. They had all been ripped apart into pieces, and it was a truly horrific sight. Blood and corpses littered the entire place, and the bunker was completely devoid of sound.
Busan fortress only appeared inactive, but it was still operating inside…
Zin knew the structure of the bunkers, and he went to the control room where he could check the entire fortress in one go. In the control room, many monitors displayed the status of the bunkers using CCTV.
There were no other signs of life aside from Zin. The CCTV showed that everyone was dead inside the bunker. And there was a big red warning message on all the screens.
[Restraint Room empty]
[Central Lab destroyed]
[Experiment ‘Prototype’ disappeared.]
Prototype? It looks like that thing caused this massacre… What type of experiment was it?
This was his first time entering the fortress, but even he realized that a dangerous situation had just happened. The CCTV was still operating in the areas where the massacre took place, but it was inactive in the laboratory area. He was able to conclude that something had happened there.
Zin started running in the direction of the lab Many corpses filled the hallway that joined the buildings.
Zin groaned as he arrived at the lab area. The place was completely scorched to destruction. The lab’s machines were all shattered into pieces, with flashing sparks coming out from the ripped cables.
And on the lab’s wall, he spotted Charl’s gruesomely embedded body. Her abdomen was pierced through with a giant pipe sticking out from the wall. Her left arm had been ripped away from the elbow and beyond, and the right leg ripped away from the knee area. The whole body was covered in deep scratches, exposing bone, and her chin had been pulled out. It was a scene too grisly for anybody to look at.
“That’s very gruesome, lieutenant.”
However, Zin drew close to Charl and clicked his tongue. There was no response at all from Charl. Her exposed bones glittered with a silver color, and flesh dangled here and there. She didn’t resemble a human at all and looked more like a monster. Zin calmly stared at Charl and grabbed the pipe piercing through her.
He twisted and broke the pipe.
Zin simply sighed after cleanly breaking off the pipe without showing any exhaustion. He grabbed Charl’s body and pulled her out from the pipe.
Charl’s body slid out from the pipe, the movement making a creepy, creaking sound.
Her body fell to the floor with a loud noise.
“I suppose you’ve failed in lightening your equipment, lieutenant…”
Zin picked up Charl’s body and walked off. He calmly carried her dead body, knowing what to do next.
“Man… you’re heavy…”
Zin had to walk slowly as he struggled to carry Charl’s body. He didn’t go to the lab room; he went to the recovery room inside the armory instead. It was fortunate that the escaped prototype didn’t seem to be interested in destroying the bunker itself. Zin dumped Charl’s body onto the emergency recovery capsule and closed the capsule.
Zin operated the module skillfully as if he had used it before.
[This recovery room supports recovery up to a Megaframe.]
[The object is a Gigaframe.]
[Using Megaframe parts to start emergency recovery.]
[Power and durability will be downgraded.]
[It is recommended to go to headquarters for full recovery.]
[It is expected to take 5 hours for recovery.]
Shortly after, the capsule moved into the main recovery system and hung Charl in the air, surrounded with many mechanical parts. Zin observed the process where the system replaced broken bones and reattached flesh. Zin knew from the beginning that Charl was not a human, but a cyborg. Wargrave executors were usually cyborgs.
The Boneframe was the manufacturing procedure that all Wargrave cyborg soldiers went through, with the Gigaframe being the most advanced procedure.
After fixing the mechanical parts, the system used an unknown chemical to recreate the body’s organisms.
Five hours later, when Charl came out of the capsule, the body was fully repaired.
“You… how did you get here…?”
Charl could not believe who she saw as she came out of the capsule. Zin replied without answering her question.
“I don’t know if this fits you, but put this on first.”
Charl realized that the recovery procedure had stripped her naked and she tried to cover herself up.
“Oh no… no…”
“I don’t really care about why you tried to dress up like a man, so put something on.”
As Zin spoke indifferently, Charl took the underwear and the uniform. Just as Zin had many unanswered questions, Charl wasn’t sure how Zin had entered the fortress.
Charl started dressing. As the replaced body parts creaked, and she moaned as she wore the uniform.
While Zin had a curious look, Charl had a terrible expression on her face. She looked like a person who had made a huge mistake.
“Ok. I’m done putting my uniform on.”
“Hmm, looks like it fits you perfectly.”
“Do you want me to thank you for being so detail-oriented?”
Zin shook his head as Charl spoke with a blush.
“I don’t know how you know about the Boneframe… but thank you anyways.”
Charl didn’t understand how a regular hunter would know of Wargrave secrets. Especially about the war machines and the recovery method, but Charl personally thanked Zin first.
Then Zin fired away his question.
“What happened here? I don’t think this was a closed-down fortress.”
“That… is top secret. I can’t tell you. It’s not something that I can tell a hunter…”
Charl bit her lips and explained. There was no way that she would tell an ordinary hunter.
“I’m not asking you as a hunter.”
Zin was not asking Charl as a hunter.
“I am a devil hunter.”
Charl looked at Zin in astonishment; she knew about devil hunters. A hunter and a devil hunter were different. An ordinary hunter acted based on requests, but a devil hunter hunted devils without needing a request. Hunting devils was the only objective for a devil hunter. A devil hunter did not communicate or negotiate with anybody to gather information and track devils. If someone refused to cooperate, the devil hunter would torture that person to gain the information.
The devil hunter’s devil hunting was done purely without expectation of receiving rewards.
“This is not a matter where you can refuse to talk even if you wanted to. If you’ve gotten the Gigaframe procedure, you’d know about this fact.”
As Charl looked at Zin who was ready to attack, she remembered the warning she received before heading out into the wilderness.
It’s very unlikely, but you might come across a devil hunter.
Most of them are con artists, but if you do come across a real devil hunter, avoid him.
They can hunt down anything alive, and that includes us as well. But who knows. They may become an asset in helping out with your mission.
Charl was in front of the very monster she had never imagined she would meet. Charl didn’t think that Zin was an imposter. He knew about the existence of the Gigaframe and had entered a Wargrave fortress. There was no possibility that he was a fake devil hunter.
Charl had to make a decision. She would have to get rid of the hunter in front of her, avoid him, or tell him the truth.
It was not a tough decision to make.
Charl was in great need of a devil hunter. Getting to know Zin might have been a coincidence, and possibly the luckiest thing to happen to her.
“I’ll tell you…”
Zin sat on the chair, and Charl started to go through her memories. It was something that she was not supposed to say. However, the current situation called for her to act beyond her authority.
“I am an investigator from the Wargrave’s Central Headquarters’ special forces.”
“Weren’t you an executor? Also, you’re quite far away from the central headquarters.”
“I am affiliated with two groups. I am also the executor of Wargrave’s Central Asia’s enforcement units.”
“… You’re affiliated with both of them? Then, you’re…”
Zin tried to think of something and grimaced. He couldn’t think of the word that he was trying to say. He was living in a world where that word was long forgotten.
Charl slowly nodded.
“I’m an undercover investigator sent to the Central Asia division by the headquarters.”
“Hmm… I suppose the Wargrave has progressed a bit.”
Zin laughed at Charl’s words, and she smiled bitterly. Charl spoke about information that was not meant to be revealed. She talked about it anyway to get Zin’s help.
“Long story short, they were experimenting on how to artificially create a devil here.”
“… Crazy bastards.”
Zin cussed after realizing what was going on in the fortress. However, Charl was not done explaining.
“I’ll start from the beginning.”
This was not a problem for the Wargrave alone.
“Right now… the Wargrave organization is split up.”
“Hmm… understandable. Things of this nature would happen then.”
“To be exact… the symptoms of a split are surfacing.”
Zin looked at Charl as if he wanted to hear more.
“Wargrave is divided into two groups – Central Headquarters and the Central Asia division. On the surface, they are cooperating, but both have been acting independently for a while. The two groups are going to be split up into two. From a geographical perspective, it’s going to a standoff between Europe and Asia.”
“Well… that’s pretty interesting.”
It meant that there was a rebellion within the Wargrave organization.