Side Story 15
9. I’m going there to meet you right now (1)
The United States of America, inside the official residence of the nation’s president – the White House.
Several bigshots gathered in this iconic white building created for the President of the U.S. of A to live and work.
Every single one of these important government officials occupying a spot inside the briefing room all carried tense expressions. Among them, one person carried the gloomiest expression.
The American President continued to rub his face, wondering over and over again if he had made the right call.
‘Rifts formed on an empty sky, and unidentified objects began appearing from there.’
It was an unprecedented historical event. But, was it the right thing to handle this incredible event without saying a word to the public at large?
No, before that, did they even possess the capability to deal with ‘the objects that came out’ from there?
All he could do was anxiously wait for the arrival of the commander in charge of the operation. And, when the entrance to the conference room opened up and General Chester Harrison entered, the President quickly got up from his seat to welcome the military man.
“Harrison, just what the hell happened back there?”
The final report sent in from the location of the event was…
– The situation has been normalised. I repeat, the situation this side has been normalised.
….That report, sadly enough, lacked the most important ‘how’ of that normalisation process.
That was why so many bigshots, including the POTUS himself, were nervously waiting for the arrival of the military man inside this conference room.
Chester mouthed a brief greeting to his boss and scanned the room for a short while, and stood in front of the room.
“Rather than me trying to describe the situation to you, it’ll be far quicker to play the video contained in here.”
What he was holding was a small USB stick. The President grew curious about its contents in an instant and hurriedly nodded his head.
Not just him, though, but everyone present within the room was staring at the tense-faced general’s hand. He slotted the USB stick in the terminal and video footage began playing on the giant screen installed on the wall of the conference room.
“This is the footage captured by the surveillance drones and robots.”
Chester Harrison spoke those short introductory words and stood beside the screen while swallowing down his own nervous saliva.
He couldn’t even begin to imagine how these folks would react to the footage about to be played. Well, he’d seen it several times before coming here, and he was still unsure how to take it, even now.
However, what was really important here was that it did happen.
The evidence of that was contained within this USB drive, and as the commander in charge of this operation, it was his duty to reveal it to this gathering of higher-ups.
The beginning of the footage started off with the ‘cracks’ in the sky.
Several gasps of shocks came from here and there as giants seemingly made out of rocks emerged from the rift reminiscent of dimension itself shattering away.
If it weren’t for the heads-up they received in regards to the existence of those bizarre creatures, the inside of the conference room would’ve descended into pure chaos by now.
But the truly shocking scene happened after that. In front of terrifying giants, ones so scary that you’d forget to even breathe while looking at them, stood the lone figure of a person.
‘Judging from his body size…. a boy?’
‘An East Asian, maybe?’
The Secretary of Defense couldn’t hold it back anymore and pointed at the screen while asking his questions.
“That man!! Who is that man?? Where were our troops, Harrison? And why was there a civilian standing in the middle of those creatures?!”
It was as he said; this footage wasn’t a record that everyone in this room was expecting to see in which the mightiest army on Earth – the American military – smashed apart and drove back the creatures of another world.
No, this video was all about a lone, nameless man whose face they couldn’t even see.
With excellent timing, the screen now showed pitch-black ‘soldiers’ suddenly rising up from the ground behind that lone man. General Chester Harrison, his gaze fixed to the screen until then, spoke as if he was letting out a pained moan.
“….I’d like to know that myself as well.”
“Does it look like I’m alone to you?”
When those words came to an end, nearly ten million Shadow Soldiers simultaneously lined up right behind Jin-Woo.
The number of Titans that emerged from the rift in the sky was around several hundred. So, it was ten million versus a few hundred. In any other normal circumstances, the ‘ten million’ should’ve easily overwhelmed the opposition with this number.
The problem today, however, was the fact that each Titan possessed powers equal to that of higher existences.
Facing a battle for the first time in a long while, Jin-Woo’s heart began pounding away quite loudly. He sent a mental communication to Fangs, currently in charge of commanding all the Magic Soldiers.
– How are your preparations going so far?
[There is no problem on this side, my liege.]
Not just Fangs, but all of the Magic Soldiers were entrusted with performing and maintaining magic spells to minimise the shock waves that no doubt would be generated by this battle.
He had no choice but to do this, since this world had no Mana, and it was simply far too fragile as it currently was.
Also, the uninvited guests came here with the purpose of literally devouring this planet, so they wouldn’t go about flinging around unnecessarily powerful magic spells, either. Inevitably, the battle about to take place would be a confrontation involving physical powers between allies and enemy forces.
A contest of pure raw strength, in other words.
Thankfully, he didn’t dislike such a type of fighting, to begin with. A smirk formed on Jin-Woo’s lips.
One of the Titans completely misinterpreted the meaning behind that smirk and in the blink of an eye, smashed its fist down in pure rage.
Too bad, the target – Jin-Woo – had already risen up in the air. He had lightly jumped up like a pole vaulter and settled down gently on top of the Titan’s fist like a falling feather.
This Titan’s expression hardened and a sense of ominous foreboding crept up along its backside after seeing that smile etched on the human’s face as he stood upright on top of its fist.
Sure enough, the human began dashing forward on top of the arm next.
His legs were moving so fast that even the Titans, possessing as much power as higher beings, couldn’t react in time. And when they did, Jin-Woo was already well past this particular Titan’s shoulder, heading straight to the back of its neck.
Soon, the shortsword held in his hand penetrated straight into the Titan’s rocky neck.
It was almost like scratching the paint of a car with a coin. While gripping tight the shortsword still buried in the neck of the gigantic creature, Jin-Woo ran towards the other shoulder, leaving behind a long, long line on the poor thing’s skin.
The black aura loaded on the blade cleanly separated the head of the Titan from the rest of its body.
Jin-Woo stood tall on the shoulder as the huge head rolled off its body, and he provocatively glared at the other Titans. He could sense rage, fluster, and fear creeping up on their expressions.
One at a time….
Memories, as well as the feelings he had while hunting down the Army of the Chaos World in the gap between dimensions, floated back up in his head one by one.
He knew he had succeeded in breaking the fighting spirit of these creatures.
His original goal was the complete annihilation of the race of Titans. And so, he finally had his Shadow Army break out of its standby mode and enter the fray.
‘All personnel, advance!!’
The will to fight from the enormous army beginning to make its move could be felt from below.
‘It’s no good that their leader stops moving here, right?’
At least, that was not his style, the style of the current Shadow Sovereign. Jin-Woo’s sharp glare began searching for his next prey.
One of the Titans that met Jin-Woo’s glare flinched its shoulders.
The enemy that lost itself to fear would be the first one to be devoured. He pounced in that direction while swinging his shortsword, packed full of black aura.
This blade might not have been the ‘Kamish’s Wrath’, but Jin-Woo had been roaming the battlefield for 27 years already, and the control he could exert on the black aura was no longer dependent on the weapons he wielded.
The black aura spreading out from the end of the shortsword stretched out towards his front and completely sliced up the face of the frozen Titan.
The giant that got terrified by the overwhelming power of this small lifeform lost its life so easily like that. However, as it turned out, not all Titans were cowards like this guy.
Jin-Woo’s brows shot up in surprise. Right behind the falling body of the dead Titan with its torn-off head, he could now see other Titans throwing everything they had in order to kill him.
He used his ability to fly to dodge beneath the huge fist approaching him from the front, while another one sharply digging in from his back was avoided by him flying up.
The skill, ‘Ruler’s Authority’, had now been fully ingrained within his body and he could manipulate it without any restriction whatsoever. The thing was, though, the enemies and their abilities also surpassed his expectations, as well.
The fist of a Titan slammed down like a hammer, and Jin-Woo kicked it away, only to be greeted by the back of a hand flying in from the side. He quickly gathered his arms and got ready for the impact while crouching, to minimise the surface area of his body.
In order to ensure that he wasn’t flung away, Jin-Woo yanked at the back of the Titan’s hand that smacked him with Mana. In an instant, that huge hand was pulled towards him and his shortsword, swung without mercy, sliced off the creature’s wrist in one go.
The Titan grabbed its now-severed wrist and roared loudly to the sky.
Jin-Woo rapidly approached its neck and stabbed his weapon deep into where the creature’s Adam’s apple should be.
One razor-sharp killing move later, and another massive physique came crashing on its backside. Jin-Woo kicked the chest of the toppling Titan and jumped up high, before slicing and dicing the hands of the Titans relentlessly reaching out towards him.
To his side!
He dodged the edge of the Titan’s hand, swung with all of the creature’s might, by flying up, which in turn helped him to find enough leeway to take stock of the current situation.
In that briefest of moments, Titans keeping close to his position crashed into him with their shoulders from both sides.
Trapped between the two humongous shoulders, Jin-Woo extended his hands to stop himself from being squashed and then, shoved both of the Titans away with his raw physical strength. Like an unbelievable lie, those two huge figures were pushed away from him.
[How could he, with such a small body of his?!]
While there were Titans freaking out over the fact that they lost out in the contest of strength, there was also another Titan who was smashing down with its arm as if it was waiting for this precise moment.
While the palm swung downwards viciously as if to crush a bug to death….
….Jin-Woo spat out Mana with a terrifying roar to deflect it away.
The Titan got flustered by the invisible hand suddenly shoving its arm away, only to belatedly realise something.
It realised that there was a massive black fist flying straight in its face.
The black aura concentrated on Jin-Woo’s right hand morphed into the arm of a giant before cleanly blowing away the head of the Titan. Soon, he transformed into a giant himself by enveloping his body with the black aura and proceeded to mercilessly destroy the Titans around him.
Like a group of starving wild beasts, the giant shadow and the Titans made out of rocks went on a crazed melee of pure chaos and confusion.
The end result came out pretty quickly.
Right in the midst of the Titans kneeling and collapsing to the ground, the black shadow giant standing tall was busy crushing an arm made out of rock with his pure physical strength after ripping it off from one of its victims.
Maybe they finally had enough of Jin-Woo’s fighting spirit, the Titans surrounding him began backing away one step at a time.
Jin-Woo scanned his enemies with puzzled eyes, but then, a Titan even bigger and sturdier-looking than all the rest confidently strode out from among them.
Strangely enough, though….
The one to actually speak was a rather small lifeform standing on the shoulder of this particular Titan, instead.
[I now see that even a small planet on the outskirts of the universe can contain a pretty useful talent.]
It was a humanoid made out of rocks that looked like a miniaturised version of the Titans. It threw a rather insidious grin in Jin-Woo’s direction.
[However, the mere fact that you need to increase the size of your body in order to enhance your power is a sure sign of how primitive your species is. On the contrary, we, the Titans, decrease in size when we need to fight with everything we have.]
The talkative creature had both its hands reach out before pointing back at itself as a wide grin formed on its face.
[Fu-hut. Of course, such a thing is only possible for the greatest warriors of the Titan race…..]
It was then.
Jin-Woo was forming an expression of ridicule as he listened to the fool talk, but then, his head quickly snapped to the side.
With excellent timing, a streak of crimson light flew in from behind Jin-Woo and utterly erased the so-called greatest warrior of the Titans from existence.
It was fired by an Ancient-grade Dragon, which was currently being ridden on by Bellion. The Grand-Marshal asked his boss in a bit of fluster.
[My liege, were you perchance conversing with that creature?]
Jin-Woo shook his hand to show that it was all good and shifted his gaze towards Bellion.
“You know, these guys seem to be way too arrogant for their own good, so it looks like you’ll have to pay them extra special attention later on.”
[Please leave it to me, my liege.]
The trusty Grand-Marshal bowed his waist politely before flying away to somewhere else, and Jin-Woo took a sweeping look at the remaining Titans.
Most of the invading rock giants’ higher-levelled combatants had been destroyed by Jin-Woo, and as for the remaining ones, they were being overwhelmed by the black tidal waves created by his Shadow Soldiers.
Loud screams spat out by the giants made out of rocks completely filled up this nameless stretch of the desert.
Could there be any other words that could better describe the current atmosphere pervading within the conference room?
As if someone doused the entire room in icy cold water, it was eerily quiet in there.
The POTUS had become completely speechless after watching the footage. However, he did eventually regain his voice, albeit with great difficulty.
“That man…. Have you uncovered his identity yet?”
The general shook his head in silence.
The true monster capable of toying with those scary-looking monsters ended up saving the United States of America without anyone even realising it.
‘No, maybe the entire world….’
Unfortunately… if you flip the notion of a power capable of saving the world on its head, it also implied that the same power could destroy this world, as well.
The President realised that uncovering the identity of that mystery man, at the very least, should be their top priority and asked the bigshots present within the conference room.
“Is there any way to uncover and confirm the identity of that man from the footage? Anyone?”
They began offering up their opinions here and there, but they all agreed that it was realistically impossible to do so. But then….
“Indeed, it may realistically be impossible. When we are talking about ‘realistic’ means, that is, sir.”
The director of America’s Central Intelligence Agency, David Brennan, raised his voice. The President quickly looked at him.
“…..Is there something you’d like to tell us, Director?”
Director Brennan cautiously spoke up.
“If a realistic approach is impossible, how about we employ ‘unrealistic’ means, instead?”
The bigshots around him tilted their heads, but Director Brennan simply formed a grin.
“We do have a way. A certain person who can inform us of the truths that no one would have known, through fantastical means.”
Could he be talking about…?!
Pretty much everyone living in the United States of America would’ve heard of her name by now. It was an open secret within the world of politics that she had been maintaining a special relationship with the CIA.
The President recalled her name and his brows shot up.
“What you’re saying is….?”
The Director replied confidently.
“That’s right, sir. It’s Madam Norma Selner. Just like before, she will help us with the right answer this time as well.”