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Chapter 29

Age 749, Sunday, September 10 (Late evening), West Edge Diablo Desert

I need to reach them. I hurried through the terrain, but the Red Ribbon Army was a stubborn lot. Despite the heavy blow I’d dealt their members, the army insisted on sending troops after me.

None were anywhere near the caliber of Blue, or even his two flunkies, but there had been enough of them that I had to stop what I was doing to deal with them.

This, of course, wasted what precious time I had to find the others, or at least get to a city so I could contact them.

After this, I’m getting an international phone. No expenses spared. I thought grimly as I watched yet another jet engine crash into the ground, experience numbers appearing on my screen.

500 XP!

600 XP!

1,200 XP!

400 XP!

250 XP!

Five soldiers— five people dead, this time. Likely still more—

750 XP!

300 XP!

1,500 XP!

Make that eight people dead. Eight people I’d killed, and I wasn’t even batting an eye. Then again, what even was my body count, at this point?

The first few were the pirates, very early on.

I’d killed some demons, but that had been no skin off my nose. They were monstrous creatures, undead and worse: malice incarnate, born to kill, torture and destroy.

But these people? Sure, they were mercenaries, only caring about the money in their wallets and the advantages such a lifestyle would give.

Still, they were people, and how many of them had I killed?

At least a hundred— maybe even more. My level had already increased almost thrice over the course of my trip west.


Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 33 (25,830/34,000 XP)

Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 12,911 ; [40,435]
MP: 13,597 ; [44,309]
Ki: 17,402 ; [54,500]

STR: 129 ; [255.42]
VIT: 126 ; [249.48]
AGI: 152 ; [300.96]
INT: 115 ; [166.75]
WIS: 115 ; [166.75]

Points: 35

Battle Power: 136, [268]


It was all I could do. Follow the Dragonballs.

It would take me ages to get home, and my best bet was to reach Bulma, who was likely near the Dragonballs, and commandeer whatever phone tech she had on her.

As the daughter of Capsule Corp, it was a sure thing that she had a way to contact her parents. Rich kids always had the good gadgets, after all.

The small guilty feeling I had about actually stealing from the girl was quickly squashed due to two reasons.

One: she tried to kill me, and that’s not something I can easily forgive.

Two: Mom was in danger. My father, possibly. Hopefully, he and Dyran could hold off whatever offensive the Red Ribbon decided to launch.

If they didn’t, well… I didn’t want to think about the consequences.

One thing at a time, Ten. I told myself. Focus on the objective. Reach Chichi and the others, use Bulma’s phone and hope it’s not too late.

I ignored the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach with a few, well practiced breaths. Stay positive.

Part of my thoughts drifted to an ever-present skill which could solve all of my current emotional problems. The guilt of killing those men and women— however self-serving and vile their acts were.

I’d seen them joking around with each other, behaving as friends would have. They weren’t irredeemable, and I’d killed them.

[Gamer’s Mind] would take the guilt away. Part of me thought slyly. Just a quick press, or even a thought activation, and all of my problems will disappear into the Void.

They would. I knew, all too well. The guilt, the fear concerning the fate of my parents, my girlfriend, as well as everyone I knew— it would all disappear.

But then, I would no longer be myself. The thought came almost aggressively, and I could almost hear Uranai Baba’s words in my head:

Have you considered that it might possibly be unhealthy to deny yourself the experience of your emotions, child?

I remembered my breakdown, and I remember the cause of it. This useful, dangerous passive skill. Only in the most dire of circumstances would I ever use it.

Is this situation not dire enough? My mind almost screamed.

A different mindset won’t make my body any faster than it already is. I argued back. But the agility points would.

Without hesitation, I dumped all my 35 points into AGI.


Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 33 (25,830/34,000 XP)

Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 12,911 ; [40,435]
MP: 13,597 ; [44,309]
Ki: 17,402 ; [54,500]

STR: 129 ; [255.42]
VIT: 126 ; [249.48]
AGI: 187 ; [370.26]
INT: 115 ; [166.75]
WIS: 115 ; [166.75]

Points: 0

Battle Power: 147, [291]


With a nod, I increased my pace, hoping I’d make it to the others in time. My parents’ lives depended on it.

As if on cue, the sound of jet engines slowly entered my perceptions.

“More of them…” I snarled, the anger overtaking the guilt almost immediately. “They just keep lining up to die!”

I leapt towards the jet plane, driving my fingers into the metal and using a hand to tear the door off its hinges before they could close it.

Guns were aimed towards me, but I quickly tore into the people holding them, receiving minor damage to my MP for my troubles, leaving me with the final occupant of the plane.

He looked like he was about to soil himself. I turned my gaze to the headset he wore— faintly hearing the frantic cries of an operator on the other end of the line.

“If you speak into the microphone, I’ll kill you.” I said calmly, eyeing the man like a cat would a mouse. “If you pull out your gun, I’ll kill you. If you disobey any of my commands, I’ll kill you. Do you understand?”

A slow, deliberate nod.

“Good.” I said. “Take the headset off.”

He obeyed with shaky hands. I pulled the Dragon Radar out of my [Inventory] and stared at the readout for a second.

“Southwest… twenty degrees from the west.” I ordered, turning my gaze to him. “Top speed.”

He only stared back.

“Did I stutter?” I raised my hand and pointed it at him. I saw the color drain from his skin as he found himself face to face with his death in the form of the Ki slowly collecting at the center of my palm.

He nodded vigorously, turning to the flight controls and making some adjustments. I moved closer to him to make sure he wasn’t trying to trick me.

The [Techie] skill was proving its worth, at this very moment. I analyzed all of the buttons, doohickeys and gadgets arrayed in front of the pilot.

I immediately knew that he’d adjusted our trajectory to my precise specification. I may not have had the skill to operate this craft, but I likely would be able to figure it out, given enough time.

Certainly, it was enough to know he wasn’t cheating me. The system pinged.


Ping!

For an effective use of your scientific know-how and deductive skills, [Techie] has gained several levels!

Techie (Lv 15 – 5%/Passive): Your keen interest in technology will bring you far in life, as it is the future of your race. At the moment, your theoretical knowledge is extensive, and your experience with the “hands-on” aspect of your education is progressing at a good pace.


I blinked.

Just from studying advanced machinery? I was so shocked at the turn of events that the pilot began to get nervous at whatever it was that caused my reaction.

I suppressed a humorless snort. He likely thought I was going to be killing him, or something.

Then again, the dead bodies still in the plane couldn’t have been helping him.

“How long until we get to…” I checked the radar and blurted out a set of coordinates, before giving him a pointed look.

The man quickly turned to the controls and fiddled with them, jittery and afraid I’d end his life on a whim. “Uh…”

He stuttered for a few more moments before finally replying. “A bit over an hour. Hour and ten minutes.”

I blinked. I could probably reach something close to that speed, but I didn’t want to trigger my [Physical Exhaustion] debuff.

The pilot trembled at my lack of response, lowering his head as if he was about to receive a deathblow.

“Kill me.” His voice shook with the words he spoke.

Did he just…?

“What?” I blurted out.

“Kill me.” He repeated himself, more forcefully this time. His eyes were glued at something behind me. I turned my gaze to note one of the soldiers I’d already killed.

His chest had been caved in from the force of my charge, forcing the blood out of his orifices. His eyes were wide with fear and bloodshot, and his face was frozen in a rictus of agony.

Under his crumpled form was a pool of blood.

I stared at the dead man’s eyes for a few more seconds until the pilot’s labored breathing caught my attention once again.

“I know you’re just going to kill me when you get what you want.” His eyes had turned fiery with righteous anger. “So, do it now.”

Amusing. Part of me thought with contempt. Even among the den of cowards and bullies, a few brave souls can be found.

I linked my power with his lifeforce and cast [Insight], reading out his low numbers.

It would be so easy to snap this one’s neck. All of his words, all of his bravado; it would end in a single move.

There were so many ways I could finish it. I could rip his organs out. I could bash his head in. I could throw him off of the plane. I could blast him in the face with my [Ki Ball].

Hell, at my current strength, even a simple push would likely be enough to end his life, either from the initial change in momentum snapping his neck, or the impact against whatever he was unlucky enough to crash into.

Still… I stared at the man’s description with a frown.


Krad – Lv 18

Race – Human
Age – 21

HP: 3,900/4,200

Rep: 0/100,000 Hated

Description: His father having abandoned the family at a very young age, Krad has had to skip school and fail his classes to help his mother make ends meet. After his mother became disabled due to an accident, he dropped out of school altogether and did whatever it took to keep food on the table for her and his sweet, but timid little brother.

He eventually joined the Red Ribbon Army, willing to stain his hands with blood if it meant his brother would know what a good childhood is.

He is hoping that you kill him, so that the Red Ribbon Army will compensate his family handsomely for his death in the line of duty.

Battle Power: 38


He’s begging me to kill him so that his family could get the life insurance money. I was beyond perturbed at the thought. He is willing to lay it all on the line— already has been.

His actions weren’t noble: far from it. Maybe there were other ways he could have achieved a form of success to help his family.

Then again, I was biased on that end. My father’s disappearance had been accompanied by a hefty sum of money which had kept us in relative comfort for a good long time— more than enough for my mother to get her career back on track.

This man’s mother hadn’t been so lucky. Nowhere near as lucky, in fact. No support system, two children to feed and a disability on top of it all.

It didn’t excuse the man’s actions. What he’d done, he knew exactly what the consequences would be. Murder, death and destruction of an unknown number of families, all in the name of Red Ribbon and their insane leadership.

Blue had been bad enough. I wondered what the other Generals were like.

Still, would I have made any different decisions? I remembered the days before I received my powers. Defeated before I even had the chance to take to the sky.

My father was gone, the other students not giving me the time of day— even Rula and Pencil had ignored me for a good long time.

This man; I could have become him, given enough time and hardship.

“I won’t kill you.” I found myself saying.

Krad’s eyes lit up with rage. “You…!”

“Do you think your mother and brother would appreciate you killing and dying for them?” I shot back, the words shocking him into silence.

“H-how do you…”

“You think you’re going to die the noble hero, is that it?” He flinched at the words. “You kill, destroy, and think you can redeem yourself by dying? No. I only kill others when there is no other way to escape a situation.”

The man turned to the controls, and I already knew what he was planning before his hands even reached for the jet’s steering mechanism.

Not even halfway there, I’d already pulled him away from the controls. He struggled and flailed, but I was easily much more powerful than he could ever dream to be.

“You want to make amends?” I asked over his angry struggles. “Help your family and find a job that doesn’t involve theft and murder— open a dojo or something, you’re certainly strong enough to try. Don’t even think about going back to the RRA. You won’t be able to find a trace of them when I’m done.”

And, with a careful chop, I knocked Krad out. Immediately, his struggles ceased. I slowly set him down, checking over his breathing and physical state.

A little banged up, but he’s just unconscious. I moved away, and took a seat in front of the controls. I stared at the plane’s readouts and tried to figure out how to work this thing.

“It’s on autopilot.” I muttered slowly, my index hovering over the indicator. “That’s the toggle. I’ll leave it for now. He said it’d take around an hour and ten minutes… It’s been around fifteen?”

Which left over fifty minutes for the trip.

Could I simply land the ship, drop him off somewhere and keep going? I thought to myself before shaking my head.

Actually… I smiled as another thought popped up. I got off the controls and gave a thorough search of the ship. There were various armaments— pistols, rifles, a shotgun and a lot of ammo. I stared at the pistol with some interest, before shaking my head.

I had no idea how to use them.

One less weapon for the Red Ribbon. Another part of me argued.

I supposed that was a no-brainer, I thought as I emptied the plane of all ordnance, throwing it all into my [Inventory]. This included a few grenades, as well.

I opened a nearby box and almost goggled. “Missiles.”

There was a helpful little clipboard at the top. Most of it was bureaucratic gibberish, filled with stamps, authorizations and ranks, but I managed to spy a few of the keywords.

“Surface to air. Bunker buster. Enhanced targeting, extra propellants for quick dodges… Flare avoidance?” I read through the list, my eyes getting wider and wider.

Red Ribbon had this level of technology? Who the hell was designing this?

This was insane, and many levels above what any of the other military organizations were capable of. No wonder the Red Ribbon struck fear into the hearts of everyone on Earth.

I’d thought it had been the gimmicky robots with gigantic swords and flamethrowers; but, this was the true reason. While the enemy troops were too busy dealing with the gimmicks, these enhanced missiles were destroying bunkers, aircraft, headquarters and who knew what else, with ease.

“Red Ribbon of Blood and Death, indeed.” I muttered before continuing my search, even going through the dead soldiers’ bodies.

They had no phones. Their only method of contact was the plane’s controls at the front, as well as the walkie-talkies clipped to their breast pockets.

So much for contacting my parents. I thought morosely.

A few compartments had some military rations. I’d keep those for the unconscious fellow. It wouldn’t do to have him starve to death on the road home— wherever that was.

“Maybe I should kill him, anyway.” I stared at Krad for a moment. I knew that, if I’d activated [Gamer’s Mind], I would have killed him in an instant.

There would have been no hesitation. It was cold, it was logical. He was part of the Red Ribbon Army. The Red Ribbon army was my enemy. Therefore, he was my enemy.

Life, however, didn’t work like that. There were a thousand factors and one to consider, such as context and many others.

This man, as horrible as he may have been, was never allowed the chance to rise above his faults. He had no special power which allowed him to make a comfortable living for his mother and brother.

He toiled, and toiled pointlessly until the Red Ribbon came to him with an offer he would have been stupid to refuse.

Was he at fault? Sure.

However, the Red Ribbon had manipulated him through his desire to aid his mother and brother. They’d twisted his desire to protect and turned it against their enemies, promising wealth and comfort for his loved ones.

Part of me wanted to kill him for the harm he’d knowingly caused. Part of me wanted to kill him because everything would be simpler that way. But, the biggest part of me, the part I was unwilling to ignore any longer, told me that I should let him go, give him another chance.

If not for him, then for the brother and mother who were counting on him.

Would it bite me in the ass? Possibly.

Was I still willing to go through with it?

Yes. I found myself saying. I have killed enough today.

Perhaps not killing him was just me being selfish.

I snorted, and busied myself with the Dragon Radar.

Now that I actually had the time to rest and relax, I stared at the radar.

Bulma might be a lying, double crossing, thieving bitch. I thought acerbically as I checked the make of the radar. But she’s a good engineer, already.

It wasn’t exactly a marvel of the craft— not that I was able to make something like this, yet— but it was well made and small enough to fit in my pocket.

Then again, with her being next in line to inherit the Capsule Corporation, miniaturization was probably drummed into her head from a very young age.

My thoughts turned to the tech building in the Red Ribbon outpost. They had a radar of their own— except theirs was too big to be of any use in the field. They’d probably kill to have Bulma’s blueprints.

It was an interesting contrast, really.

The Red Ribbon’s scientists focused on advancements to make war, while Capsule Corp scientists tried to advance the field in what ways they could and make a little money on the side.

I shook my head and focused my attention on the radar. This thing could detect Dragonballs— likely by the faint energy they gave off.

It wasn’t truly a radar, but a reactive sensor— [Techie] leveled up once more when I reached that conclusion.

Bulma must have done some comprehensive testing to figure out which earthly element reacted to Dragonballs strongly enough to be able to formulate an equation to calculate distance between the two points and display it on a grid map.

It was impressive; pioneer work based on a legend which could have been utter hogwash.

Not that the legend was wrong, of course.

I snorted. She was going to use the wish for the perfect boyfriend. I didn’t even know where to start with that.

A quick look at the ship’s controls brought me back to reality: I would reach my destination in a few minutes. And so, I stared off into the distance, wondering what I’d find.

A castle was not something I expected.

“…” I said nothing as the jet plane slowed and began its descent— the autopilot even handled the landing, it looked like.

I’d have taken this craft for my own if I didn’t know the RRA had trackers all over it. Even through a cursory inspection, I’d discovered at least two in the flight controls alone.

It made sense— effective communication could only be achieved through effective tracking, after all.

I felt the small thud of the ship’s gentle landing and heard the engines slowly powering down, nodding to myself before turning to the unconscious fellow, as well as the corpses.

I’ll leave the ship to him. He’ll figure out what to do with it. I thought to myself before taking the dead bodies and throwing them out of the open hatch.

A second later, I was also out. My knees bent ever-so-slightly as my feet hit the soft, cool dirt.

I looked around to gather my bearings, taking in the castle before me as I felt the cold, night breeze over my skin.

Surrounded by large mushroom trees, the castle was mighty and strong, the half-pyramid style platform, upon which the castle stood, towering above the rest— with the castle proper being twice as high.

It had four tall walls, each with a high tower to defend the ostentatious, domed structures within, as well as an even taller tower near the center. In the background, the full moon hung low in the dark, but starry sky.

At the centermost building, I stared at the satellite dish with an antenna— why was it so big? Such a huge device could not possibly have been used just to catch TV signals.

I shook the thought off and checked the radar. All of the Dragonballs, including the one the hastily formed team was looking for, were together.

Did they manage to convince whoever owned the castle to part with the Dragonball? It was certainly possible; between Chichi’s natural charm and Bulma’s money, they could have managed it.

I rather doubted the bandit would have been able to do anything other than piss the owner off. Son Goku would have probably not even been worthy of notice.

They’re having a nice time in bed while I waded through the blood of the RRA. Part of me snarled in contempt, though I quickly squashed the thought.

Chichi would never do that. There must be something else, at play.

That’s when the earth began to shake.


Ping!


Quest: Survive the monster’s rampage” has been forcibly initiated.

Reward: 60,000 XP, ?, ?, ?

Failure: Death of everyone in a two hundred mile radius.


“The monster…?” I read the quest title just as one of the domed buildings burst outwards, shrapnel filling the sky.

Its source, a giant ape.

And it was still growing.

Fuck.

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