Breman: In that case, what reason could you give to persuade me?
Di Qi Ju: Because…Starfall might just be a giant living organism.
Breman: Living? What’s your proof?
Di Qi Ju: Proof…
“Silicon-based Lifeform” was probably a concept unknown to him, any signs relating to this lifeform can’t be used to persuade him unless I explained it to him…
Di Qi Ju: …because that sorcerous insect we encountered in the Grand Ravine was formed within the body of another organism.
Di Qi Ju: In order to birth such a large sorcerous insect, it’s simply not possible without a host at least 100 times bigger than it.
Breman: Sorcerous insect…you seem pretty informed about this subject.
Di Qi Ju: That’s…right. Inquisitor Hilda Carlyle informed me about it.
Breman: I’m acquainted with the concept of sorcerous insects, however, the research results aren’t out on that giant worm.
Breman: Whether it is actually a sorcerous insect or not, is still to be determined. Calling it a belly worm just by its appearance seems to be a little too premature.
Di Qi Ju: But Inquisitor Hilda Carlyle…
Breman: It’s not like she is the clergyman representing organisms or some field related to it. It wouldn’t be strange if she made a mistake regarding this.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Looks like I can’t use her as a reason to cancel the operation.
Di Qi Ju: Even if you say that, me and Halfmoon Leak’age encountered something yesterday that could have only come from a living organism’s response to danger.
Di Qi Ju: Furthermore, there are traces of suspicious movement in the soil. Isn’t this one of the signs of a giant underground lifeform!
Breman: Starfall isn’t a place where normal rules apply, I wouldn’t be surprised if this applied to geological movements as well.
Breman: Do you have any definitive proof that it is an organism’s biological response to stress instead of an unknown geological movement?
Di Qi Ju: Yesterday’s cavern—
Breman: —that place has already been buried under a mountain of rocks.
Breman: I can’t exactly use explosives in that cavern, can I? If that causes a cave-in, who will bear the consequences?
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: ……
This isn’t working…
I have no other way to persuade him…
Is my conjecture wrong? Is his logic the most objective and realistic one?
It’s that knocking again.
No…it shouldn’t be like this.
There must be something wrong here…
Breman: Do you have any other reason? If you don’t have any proof, I suggest you think twice before wasting my time with this drivel.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: There is! Of course I have another reason!
Di Qi Ju: My wish ability is warning me, it’s warning that I’m about to enter a fatal situation!
Di Qi Ju: That wish ability usually only warns me a few minutes before I encounter any fatal danger. However, just today alone, it has warned me several times!!
Di Qi Ju: This operation will definitely lead to disaster, Commander Breman!! If you want proof, isn’t a warning from Westrealm enough??
Di Qi Ju: Don’t tell me you won’t even believe a hint from God.
Please realize this, Breman.
You mustn’t do this…if you continue down this path, a lot of people will die.
That underground monster will definitely respond in a way we can’t even fathom. It will be a disaster of unprecedented proportions for us.
So—please stay your hand!!
My brows furrowed and my eyes bulged out as I stared as hard I could at Breman. If only I could relay my thoughts to him via my eyes.
Breman’s expression wasn’t as I hoped it would be; there wasn’t any signs of him coming around.
Breman: Even if it’s Westrealm, his blessing hasn’t extended to every corner of the world.
Breman: Humankind is merely one of the races who enjoy his benevolence. Every living creature in this world is a beneficiary of his blessing and so God will look after them as well. This includes the earth.
Breman: Solely relying on God isn’t the smartest of choices when it comes to exploring the unknown regions.
Breman: This isn’t a valid enough reason to make me change the actions of the entire expedition, Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: ……
There’s no other way…there’s no simply no option left.
I didn’t manage to transmit my thoughts…
Breman: Yesterday…about those words Halfmoon Leak’age said to me, I feel that they have a degree of sense to them.
Breman: It seems that I wasn’t able to get a proper read on you. You’re a capable subordinate but are you trustworthy or should I guard against you instead?
Breman: However, your words to me right now, whether they stem from a soldier’s perspective or a friend’s perspective, I just can’t accept them.
Breman: Please return to your tent. I’m still have work to do.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: Yes…
Ethan: Sir, what did Di Qi Ju say to you just now?
Breman: Oh, he just voiced his concerns to me, like any venting, new soldier would.
Ethan: Should I punish him?
Breman: Haha, I definitely don’t have the time to punish a person for being rude to his superiors.
Breman: …Ethan, do you have any tasks on hand at the moment?
Ethan: I’m done with today’s assignments.
Breman: Ethan, I order to you to expedite a batch of “Wilderness Eagles” over here. It must be done by tonight and there must be enough room for all the people who crossed the Grand Ravine. I want them all ready by the crack of dawn.
Ethan: Sir…why do we need such things?
Breman: —also, make sure all our members on the other side of the ravine, including the laborers, finish preparations for an emergency retreat to Honor by tonight.
Ethan: Exactly what is going on? What did Di Qi Ju find out?
Breman: Nothing, it’s just his lack of experience getting to him.
Breman: I don’t know why but when he shouted at me, my wish ability began to sound off as well.
Breman: Westrealm…was giving me the same warning also.
Breman: And…it hasn’t stopped, even now.
Breman: —Oh right, for tomorrow’s operation, remember to station Di Qi Ju next to me.
Breman: For all we know, he might have something else to add that he couldn’t mention before.
Ethan: …yes Sir.
The next morning, on the day of “Finger Severance”.
The previous night was a restless one for me. I spent it tossing and turning around in my bedroll, not getting a wink of sleep.
Even though I had recently made that wish to allow me to function without sleep, I still felt extremely worn out after getting up.
Not physically, but mentally instead.
In contrast, the surrounding people didn’t seem to share my mood.
Over a hundred modified balloons were already filled to the brim and transported to a nearby cliff, ready for their final adjustments before take off.
The modified explosives were already fitted onto each of the balloons. Next to them, guards could be seen patrolling the vicinity, constantly guarding against any incident that could set off the explosives.
As for the other soldiers who had finished their task, they were enthusiastically discussing the upcoming operation within their own teams.
If only I could be as carefree as them, sigh…
Halfmoon Leak’age: ……
Halfmoon Leak’age: A massive transport crew just arrived.
Lee Sole’shot: Oh! Leak’age-chan you saw it too? Your eyesight is pretty good, I just saw it as well.
In the distance was a vast field of animal driven wagons steadily making their way towards us on the transport route. As they approached the campsite, they took a turn towards the side of the camp that had the only available vacant spot.
Unlike the other cargo convoys, they didn’t transport the usual cargo chests but instead transported a bunch of coffin-like cargo crates that were around two meters long.
Instead of the usual ocean blue covering, these crates were painted a pure black.
Layer after layer of black crates were swiftly offloaded into the empty plot of land, filling it up in an instant. Given that they didn’t seem to be slowing down either, there must’ve been a ton of goods.
At the side, the soldiers who were chatting around just a moment ago, began to crowd around the site. Their boisterous talking reduced to a barely audible whisper as they speculated about the convoy’s contents.
I was one of these onlookers as well. Upon discovering the strange convoy, I squeezed my way through the camp to have a look at it. As I did so, I suddenly discovered a familiar face leading the convoy. It was the team leader who had led us on our first convoy, Alvin.
Di Qi Ju: —Alvin!
Alvin: …Di Qi Ju.
His burly frame easily picked up a black crate and offloaded it. I took this opportunity to squeeze my way to him.
Alvin: You’re working in the scouting division now?
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, I guess you could say that…by the way, what’s in those crates?
Alvin: Oh these, they’re “Wilderness Eagles.”
Alvin: It’s an emergency flying device that fires off into the air when activated. Right now it’s in this folded form. However, once it fully extends its wings, they spread out as wide as a giant eagle.
Alvin: All you had to do was secure that rope onto your waist, grab the bar tightly and activate the firing mechanism.
Alvin: After which it will take off. When it’s in the air, it will extend its wings outwards in a triangle shape and begin gliding.
Alvin: Normally, these Wilderness Eagles are able to carry one person a long distance but if that person is light enough, it’s possible for the device to carry two.
Triangle shape…a foldable glider with a triangle shaped wingspan?
Di Qi Ju: Are these for scouting?
Alvin’s face darkened slightly at this.
Di Qi Ju: Oh?
Alvin: Normally, these devices are only used for emergency escapes.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Alvin: Last night, just as I was about to sleep, I received a massive urgent order from the frontlines. The entire laborer division had to work through the night to get it fulfilled.
Alvin: Are you guys about to embark on something massive? This amount of Wilderness Eagles is enough for each and every one here. Looks like it’s an extremely dangerous operation.
Di Qi Ju: You could say that, haha…
Alvin: And you’re still able to laugh…
I don’t know why but suddenly my shoulders felt a lot lighter.
Breman…didn’t completely ignore my words.
At least with these equipments, there’s a chance for survival if the worst scenario actually happens.
However…this doesn’t prevent it from happening.
Even now, I still had no way of predicting what could happen during our operation.
Breman: —-Commence with the operation!!
A dense cloud of balloons began their ascent in an orderly fashion amidst the cheering of the soldiers below as if they were giving them a rousing send off.
Below the balloons, the usual baskets had been removed and were instead replaced with a bunch of explosives, each weighing around 50kg.
These explosives had been modified into the shape of a missile and even had fins to stabilize their descent. Upon crossing a certain threshold of pressure, these missiles would explode automatically.
Hard to believe that I would actually see a bunker busting missile in this strange fantasy world.
With the matter of the Wilderness Eagles settled, the majority of the troops were evacuated to the vicinity of the Grand Ravine along the transport route in order to pre-empt any potential geological disasters arising from the explosions.
Within these troops were my friends, One’day High, Lee Sole’shot, Halfmoon Leak’age and Alvin from the transport team.
Me and Mo Chuan were stationed at the second campsite along with Commander Breman.
Within the camp was a recently erected wall made of wood and iron. Its purpose was to block the ensuing shockwave and any dangerous debris from the explosion.
At this distance, we were a mere 120 meters away from Starfall and roughly less than 500 meters away from ground zero.
We quietly watched the balloons float away until they finally disappeared within the clouds.
According to the plan, these balloons would form a straight line, three layers thick. They would drop their bombs row by row, forcing out the true form of Starfall.
As for what happens after that, no one knew. That was exactly what I was worried about.
Breman: Di Qi Ju.
All of a sudden, the voice of our commander echoed from behind me and greeted me.
Breman: Do you have anything else to report?
Di Qi Ju: Sir…
Di Qi Ju: There’s nothing else. I’ve also gone through the instruction manual on the Wilderness Eagles.
Breman: Then, what about you Mr. Seasonal Wolf?
Mo Chuan: In your eyes, are we seasonal wolves weaker than humans?
Breman: Of course not, why else would I station you here?
Breman: If all goes according to plan, our next step is to dispatch the trained combat pets to test out if the wish point erasing effect is gone.
Breman: If the animal test goes well, we’ll have to depend on you guys for further exploration.
Di Qi Ju: Alright…let’s hope it all works out.
Breman nodded his head and gazed at the horizon, as if he was looking right at the balloons hidden within the clouds.
Breman: While I’ve never believed in luck, I hope luck is on our side today.
*clack clack clack*—
In the distant horizon, the devices released their deadly payload at the scheduled time. Row after row of missiles rained down from the heavens in near unison.
Their fins began revolving amidst the buffeting winds, stabilizing their flight path as they prepared to drill a hole into the ground.
From a distance, this initial wave of missiles almost seemed like the spearhead of a charge, even though they knew that they couldn’t break through, they had no choice but to advance under the merciless command of gravity.
Wash away the humiliation inflicted by this place on the expeditionary force!
Use your almighty power to pierce through all the obstacles, to destroy everything that stood in the path of our pioneering. Let this plot of land know the might of humankind’s pioneering, of faith’s expeditionary force!
The heavy missile crashed into the ground with a resounding thunderclap. After a few seconds of tense silence, the ground exploded with an earth shattering boom.
As the tidal wave of dust clouds crashed into the campsite, the earth beneath us began to tremble. The shockwave from the explosion began to rapidly radiate outwards, buffeting anything that stood in its path.
Not only was the scene rife with the sounds of the explosion and the raging winds, the violent vibrations of the wall filled the air as well.
Without exception, each and every one of us immediately crouched down and coverred our ears as we braced for impact.
*bang bang bang*
The second wave of missiles hit the ground, causing another shockwave. This time however, it came from deep within the earth, shaking the ground as it threatened to tear the earth asunder. The first wave actually penetrated the rock layer? Breman’s plan succeeded?
*bang bang bang*—-
Before I could wrap my head around this, the third wave struck the ground.
Amidst the continuous waves of explosions and shockwaves, I instinctively laid flat on the ground. As I did so, I could sense the earth stirring beneath me.
We did it…
I was struck with the sudden possibility of success.
An attack of this magnitude should be able to achieve the expected results, shouldn’t it?
Mo Chuan: …??
Why aren’t the tremors stopping?
The tremors continued in a rhythmic fashion. Even as the ringing explosion sounds ended, the shaking of the ground beneath didn’t show any signs of abating.
Breman: Did we cause an earthquake?
Ethan: It might be, don’t get up yet!
Di Qi Ju: …no…
This isn’t an earthquake.
Having experienced a horrific earthquake first hand, there was no one as familiar with its shaking as me. And this clearly wasn’t it
This grinding sound was definitely not the same as the rumblings of an earthquake. It sounded more like rocks grinding against each other.
The sounds of rocks breaking apart travelled up the ground and into my ears. It was almost if something had collapsed in a distance and the rubble was rolling down the side of a hill.
How is this possible? There’s no steep slope nearby—-
Mo Chuan: —!
I immediately found out how.
A giant shadow loomed over the entire campsite, blotting out the radiant sun hanging above us.
The people in the campsite slowly crawled to their feet and as they looked up, what greeted them was—
—a giant white palm.
The pale rock slowly rose into the air as if it had come to life and revealed its palm-like body. It was several hundred, no, several thousands of meters wide.
This apocalyptic scene shouldn’t even be possible but unfortunately for us, it was happening right in front of us now.
Atop its “fingers” there were scorch marks all over, and a short distance away on the back of it’s palm was a dense canopy of trees. At this distance, we were able to see the writhing vines within.
It was as if a dense jungle had grown on the back of this giant white hand.
Among the fingers was one that was noticeably shorter than the others. Its tip was colored a burnt yellow unlike the pale white rock of its neighbors.
Without a doubt, this giant hand was a part of Starfall.
Next to its enormity, we were even less than tiny ants.
In place of the clear skies, all I could see before me was a bleak twilight.
Will this unceasing darkness be the end of our lives…
Special thanks to Steve Granger!!