༺ The Resistance – 2 ༻
Having made his resolve, Kanysen swerved his head around and shouted toward the supply box.
“If you’ve picked yourselves up, then come out quickly. We must hurry. Time is short!”
Apparently, Alpha and Beta weren’t the only ones who had stowed away in the box. A couple more voices responded to the Resistance leader’s call, following which two people noisily climbed out, struggling to carry a square metal case between them.
Kanysen shot a glance at the two before striding over to me.
Who are you calling comrade, punk-ass?
I cursed inwardly while putting on a smile. Kanysen gripped my shoulders with a serious expression.
“We can help you, comrade. In exchange, you must help us. Do so, and we will let you escape this place.”
“Of course. Unlike the State, the Resistance does not lie to our countrymen.”
Haha. I suppose his idea of escape was valid, in a way. Abandoning your body to make a great escape to Heaven, eh?
The man’s expression didn’t change one bit. If I weren’t a mind reader, I would have watched like a dumbass as they planted a bomb and ended up being blown to pieces.
Still, I couldn’t show that I knew what was up. He had the power of a knight, and I had no way of opposing that without any equipment. I had to do as Kanysen said without giving any reason for suspicion.
I smiled wryly and feigned ignorance, just as he wanted.
“Escape? You’ll let me escape this damned, sunless place, yes? That’s a promise.”
“But of course. I keep my promises.”
“Then leave anything to me! How shall I help you, comrade!”
Kanysen looked around and fell into thought.
｢The prison is bigger than I thought. We’ve brought a significant amount of explosives, but even that isn’t enough to completely destroy Tantalus. Blowing up the cliff as originally planned will only collapse bedrock. The main facilities will remain safe. What we need most right now is a detonation point that’ll have an effect with a minimum of explosives. Since we’ve entered the abyss, I want to damage its very foundation.｣
After serenely forming a plan, Kanysen talked to me again.
“You said you spent a few days here, so you must roughly know the structure of this despotic prison.”
“Not all, but I did take a tour. I should know best apart from the prisoners before me.”
“Good. Was there any place that seemed important? As in, a location where there might be something worth looking at.”
“Hmm. An important-looking place.”
Oh there was such a place. An excellent location I had reserved for these people.
I promptly raised a finger to point in a certain direction.
“There, the underground armory. Its large steel doors are firmly shut, but very rarely, they open by themselves. I tried going in the other day and it seemed like there was a lot of stuff.”
A thousand-year-old vampire would be waiting in there. This was going to be a living blood-lunch box delivery.
Bon appetite, vampire. Oh, the wrapping is non-disposable so take care of that yourself.
“And in the 1st-floor surveillance room I saw weapons? Equipment? Something like that for suppressing vicious inmates.”
The ultimate weapon of Tantalus was on the prison’s 1st floor: the regressor with a tendency to cut off arms as a hello. She would probably lop their heads off too if she learned of their plan to collapse Tantalus.
I hope to see you guys in pieces next time.
“What about that place?”
Kanysen pointed to the control center separate from the prison building. The center was half-destroyed with only rubbles for remains, its walls and roof broken apart.
Mm. They couldn’t go there. It didn’t have anything that might kill them.
I tried to sound as disinterested as I could.
“I had a look over there but didn’t find much. Nothing to scavenge either since it’s full of broken rubble.”
｢The other buildings remain, yet only that place is filled with traces of destruction. Someone must have done it deliberately, and that means there is something that mustn’t be passed on to others. Or there could be used equipment. Whatever the case, with our lack of resources, that building should be explored first.｣
My words caught Kanysen’s attention, however.
Tsk. The man certainly was clever. But he was still in the palm of my hand.
“I’ve decided! Everyone, listen carefully.”
Kanysen called the other Resistance members, who had been nervously looking around. They hurriedly gathered in front of their leader. One of them was still so tense that he tripped and staggered on the way. In any case, they gathered in one spot with strained faces.
Kanysen began to point at his fellow rebels in turns as he spoke.
“Alpha, you head to the underground armory. Bring back any explosives or weapons you might find. We lack weapons.”
He turned to another Resistance member, the woman who shot Azzy earlier. She yelped and hugged her gun at the attention.
“Beta. You head to the prison’s 1st floor. There might be a weapon meant to control the prisoners. If you encounter a prisoner, refrain from engaging to the best of your ability. Make up an excuse and continue exploring.”
“W-what? I have to face the prisoners of Tantalus?”
Beta shook her head unconfidently. Kanysen sighed just quietly enough to be clearly heard as he continued.
“You are the most cautious of the group, Beta, and also the best at handling a gun. You are the right person for exploring while avoiding combat.”
“B-but Captain, you just saw. The prisoners here are monsters that can even catch bullets. G-guns won’t work.”
“We have already put our lives at stake. Death is a given since we have come down here.
Will you tremble with fear after coming this far?”
Kanysen shot a reproachful glare at Beta, but she still looked afraid. The former gave up and sighed.
‘I can’t change her personality right away. She’s lost confidence greatly, probably because that dog-kin’s teeth caught her trusty bullet. It might not really fit the plan, but at a time like this…’
“Hoo. Alpha, change of order. You go to the 1st floor. I’ll send Beta to the armory.”
Alpha took a large step forward and responded loudly.
“Leave it to me. I won’t be scared!”
“It’s good to be confident, but don’t forget the basics. The enemy will most likely be frighteningly powerful. Engagement must be avoided if possible. And Beta. Your task is relatively safer, so hand over your military gear to Alpha.”
Beta quickly took off the large plate she was carrying on her back.
The silver plate, apparently cast from metal, had hundreds of letters engraved along its concentric circles, and it also had a hole in the middle that could barely fit a fist. It could almost be mistaken for a weight plate used for exercise.
In reality, though, it was a piece of military equipment made by the State: the combat suit.
The silver plate, which was the original form of combat suits, was the most powerful item they had brought, yet Beta hastily passed it to Alpha as if it were a heavy burden.
Alpha looked happy to obtain such a powerful weapon, but Kanysen clicked his tongue in dissatisfaction.
｢The combat suit is a great weapon. It’s more logical to have Beta wear it, considering her cautious, calm nature and lack of physical strength… But it can’t be helped. Our lives are already forfeit. Right now, we need someone with a fighting spirit more than talent. Like Alpha.｣
Unaware of his leader’s thoughts, Alpha gleefully took the combat suit before looking at the former.
“Captain, can I put it on now?”
“Yeah baby! Don’t mind if I do!”
Upon hearing Kanysen’s permission, Alpha pulled back his sleeve to expose the bio-receptor in his wrist, then slotted his hand into the silver plate’s hole.
A magical light flashed at that moment as the metal plate separated horizontally. The plate changed shape along with the sounds of interlocking metal, moving in reverse like it was swallowing Alpha’s arm. Hard, clunky metal plates wrapped his left arm, while wires tightly connected the gaps in between.
Clunk, clunk. Metal workers would find it almost orgasmic to listen to the rhythmic, orderly beat. Cogwheels turned, smoothing uneven sections. The steel plates seamlessly covered his entire body at a steady pace.
Very soon, Alpha was wearing a huge armor of steel equipped with a full helmet and steel scales that covered any gaps. Completely surrounded by metal, he delightedly clenched his hands into fists with hard clanks.
“Haha! Now I can die without regrets!”
The Military State was a country that weaponized all creations, and it lived up to its reputation; when the Clothing Packet first emerged in the world, the State immediately conceptualized something different.
Clothes could be made into packets.
Armor was also a type of clothing.
Therefore, couldn’t armor also be made conveniently portable?
Based on this one-dimensional three-stage theory, the State researched a method to alchemize armor into a packet.
The massive difference in difficulty between alchemizing cloth and metal armor was disregarded—that was a problem for State technicians to overcome, whether they liked it or not.
Eventually, after investing tremendous human and material resources, the State perfected the technology of turning armor into packets.
And that was what Alpha was wearing. The combat suit, the quintessence of State alchemy and magical engineering.
“What incredible power. I don’t think I can lose to anyone with this!”
Alpha was drunk on a sense of omnipotence, his confident voice resounding through the metal armor. As Kanysen had expected, Alpha didn’t lose heart after equipping the combat suit. It was that attitude that he didn’t like, though.
He clicked his tongue in a scolding manner.
“Nonsense. The combat suit only adds to your strength. Beating the enemy depends on your skill.”
“But with this much power!”
Alpha’s fiery gaze turned to Azzy, who was yawning as if slightly bored. She turned her head with slightly sharp eyes upon sensing the odd air of murder around him.
Amazingly, the rebel was hastening his own demise, the ignoramus.
‘That reckless fool is trying to bite more than he can chew!’
And I wasn’t alone in my opinion. Kanysen’s eyes shot wide with anger.
The young Resistance fighter flinched.
“Don’t act rashly! Stick to your mission! First, take off that blinding visor! Your current task is exploration, not combat!”
“Yes, yes sir. I apologize.”
‘Hoo. Nothing ever comes easy.’
While Alpha hastily took off his helmet and visor, Kanysen looked at the rest of his group. Gamma and Delta.
They were supporters with lacking combat ability compared to Alpha or Beta, so it was better not to expect much of them in that aspect.
In exchange, Delta was a rearguard with a meticulous personality, while Gamma was a talented technician who used to work for the State. In particular, Gamma was the most important individual in the party as they needed to execute a methodical detonation, not an indiscriminate terror bombing.
“Delta will remain here, and…”
Kanysen’s gaze turned to me and Azzy, but he focused more on the latter. His eyes contained emotions akin to reverence and fear.
“And protect these people. It may be dangerous, so don’t let them go near the control center. If possible… Yes. You might as well play ball.”
I was awed by his cautious attitude.
Not going to let down your guard until the end, eh?
Me aside, Azzy was the Dog King. She could slaughter everyone here if she so wished, so being wary was natural.
Though of course, being the Dog King meant she couldn’t harm humans, so it was just a possibility. I figured it was hard for him to think that far.
“Good. Gamma goes with me to the control center. I’ll need your technical skills to carry out a clearer investigation.”
“Then gather round.”
The nerve-racked Resistance members gathered their hands. But despite their overlapped palms, I could tell their hearts were scattered chaotically.
One of them was terrified, while another was only bent on showing off. One was even regretting blindly following their friends, only to end up down here.
But their feelings didn’t show. From the outside, they only seemed like a slightly mismatched rabble of Resistance fighters.
“Everyone. Let’s use our lives. Risk it all to deal a blow to the accursed Military State.”
“Good. Move out!”
Nevertheless, what drew them all here was their hatred of the State and their bond with each other. No one disobeyed or hesitated, showing that they were at least barely prepared.
The members of the Resistance began to move to their tasked locations.