༺ The Resistance – 7 ༻
I had my tools and also set the ending. The only question remaining was how awesome my acting would be.
Shall I begin then?
“I know. About everything. How ugly you are. How you drove promising young people to their deaths with vile lies and deceptions.”
“Don’t make me laugh!”
“Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and even yourself, Kanysen.”
His head whipped toward the direction of my voice, but he lost his target. I heard him click his tongue. The man searched the wrong places for a moment before he turned around and grew more careful in his hunt, steadily narrowing his search range.
There wasn’t much space left to avoid Kanysen. It’d become harder to move as he drew closer. I had to finish the necessary preparations before that happened.
“All of you had no other choice than to die coming down here, yes? Succeeding in the mission would’ve resulted in blowing up along with Tantalus and being buried under the abyss. Failing would’ve brought on a fatal pursuit by the State’s soldiers. The Resistance was as good as dead from the moment they entered this place.”
“It’s what we braced ourselves for! Don’t belittle our resolve!”
“Haah. You’re saying that to me? But you’re the one who disregarded their resolve.”
I took on a sneering tone and plainly recited the truth I had read off his mind.
“You didn’t let them make their own decisions. Instead, you drove them into a situation where they had no other options.”
｢Responding to such sophistry is foolish. I’ll let him blather. It’s more important to focus on his voice and pin him down.｣
Kanysen no longer replied. He kept silent under the excuse of having to find me, but my mind-reading could delve into the emotion beneath that facade. He was growling desperately to hide the truth that would come from my mouth.
My time to act was near.
I gingerly slipped out of the cabinet I was under and faced a dashboard hanging on the wall to make my voice echo.
“Didn’t you have the ability to escape through the State’s blockade? Didn’t you have the time to hide in the supply box? You were already a wanted man, Kanysen, but not the others. With the leeway you had, they could’ve feigned innocence and acted like ordinary citizens.”
Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma. They were all merely terrorists in the making who looked like common immature youngsters, kids with rebellious ideas. Maybe one of them would’ve been unluckily arrested during the huge arrest operation, but who knew? Yes. They could have survived.
“But you didn’t save them. In fact, you shoved them into death’s jaws. You’re the one who got caught, so why did they have to run away too?”
“What if you didn’t tell them you were ‘caught’ as you were escaping? What if instead of giving the order to flee in a group, you told them the plan failed and gave the order to hide the evidence and aim for the next opportunity? What if you told them to leave you and fend for themselves?”
“What if you didn’t suggest a path to death like it were the only way for those helpless youngsters? If they chose a different hiding place instead of the logistics division, that dead end, don’t you think they might’ve survived?”
I could feel him trembling. Breaking. Crumbling. Kanysen’s firm will, his noble spirit, and his chivalric heart collapsed before his guilt. I was the trumpeter of his conscience.
Although these accusations came out of my mouth, what gnawed away at the man was actually his own ideals.
Kanysen lost his head at the mental blow and started screaming.
“No! They were all warriors. They acted for the greater good, even if it meant using their lives! Don’t insult them! You’re just a dog who has succumbed to oppression!”
“But you’re the one insulting them, Kanysen. They tried to win their desired futures at the cost of their lives. And their bucket list didn’t include risking everything to accompany your suicide mission.”
Kanysen hurled his metal pipe with all his might, and it powerfully collided somewhere, bringing down a messy pile of rubble and rocking nearby broken planks.
He made wild noise as if he no longer wanted to hear my voice. But I was a kind-hearted man with a tendency to put in another word when told to shut up.
“You were a dead man from the moment you were put under police interrogation, Kanysen. Whether death came sooner or later, whether you committed suicide or got shot down. The moment those soldiers rang your doorbell—no, the moment the military chiefs planned that massive raid, there was no way to save you.”
“What do you know!?”
Oh, but I knew everything.
I kept talking while on the move to evade his chase.
“But you always wanted to use your life in a meaningful way. You wanted to give it up for greater honor. Getting raided by the State, having your plan exposed, and being shot to death after resisting? Now that sort of miserable, meaningless fate wasn’t in the future you envisioned. Was it a hunger for glory or revenge? Not wanting to die alone, you forced your comrades to gather and imposed a plan.”
“I said shut up! Don’t talk as if you could read my mind!”
I was only reciting what I read in his mind, yet that was wounding him. It wasn’t even surprising. People usually hurt themselves the most with their feelings of self-dissatisfaction.
“Once you hid in the supply box, you had no way left other than to hide in Tantalus. The inspection wouldn’t be so thorough since the prison was empty due to the jailbreak, after all. But if there was one problem, I suppose it’d be the question of whether Tantalus was worth the mortal risk of attacking?”
It was a natural question. Dissident organizations only attacked prisons when they needed the people locked inside. But whether it was to recruit the prisoners or release them to pressure the government, both were only possible when the prison wasn’t empty.
If Kanysen had thought Tantalus was in a normal state, then his choice would have been a decent one—putting aside whether he could escape or not.
In other words, though…
“Kanysen. You were wise enough to know that a massive jailbreak occurred in Tantalus.”
A prison without prisoners?
“Yet you persuaded the other Resistance members to force an attack.”
Now that wasn’t worth breaking.
“You knew there was no point in doing so, yet you pushed that thought away for the moment. Then in that small, dark supply box, you kept telling yourself what a huge target Tantalus was, and what it symbolized for the Military State, kept on chanting like it was a hypnotizing mantra. To fool them, and.. to fool yourself.”
That was why Kanysen deceived his comrades. He convinced them to join him despite knowing there was nothing to gain from Tantalus. Instead of grimly resolving to tell them to escape while he acted as bait, so they could plan for the future before it was too late, he demanded their lives.
Not for country, not for justice, but—
“For your sake.”
Fury consumed reason. Kanysen was running without any heed now, digging through the rubble barehanded, not even holding a weapon as he came for me in a straight line, driven by the sheer intent to murder me and silence my blabbering mouth.
The more a man loved himself, the more he believed himself to be noble, the higher and stronger the walls surrounding his ego, the weaker he was to attacks from within.
“What do the likes of you know! They didn’t hesitate to give their lives to bring down the State! And I know their will is unchanged! So long as we destroy Tantalus, and leave at least a trace of our names in history! So the later generations can remember us! Wouldn’t that be enough!”
Kanysen turned over a desk with both hands and thrust aside a cabinet in his way. He tore through iron frames like they were wooden branches, not caring for his hands getting injured.
The man was on a rampage now, intent on breaking apart every bit of rubble in the passage. I had no choice but to keep running back faced with his reckless charge.
“I won’t kill you easily. I’ll catch you and tear you to shreds with my bare hands!”
My taunt was successful, though I wasn’t sure if this was good or bad. Seeing his excessive agitation, I decided to calm him a little.
“Ahaha. Calm down, mister. Who cares? You only demanded others to give up their lives. It’s common. The State does it all the time! You hated the State so much that you ended up the same as them! Hahahaha!”
“I’ll rip that piehole apart first! Chop your tongue to pieces! Let’s see if you can still jibber with your lungs gouged out!”
Woah. It looked like I’d be in for a butchering if I got caught. I wonder what grade my meat would be? Just out of curiosity.
Anyway, a human’s greatest weapon is his rational mind. Kanysen’s loss of rationality was my opportunity to win. I took out the packet from earlier and my card and hid them in my hands.
I’d only get one chance this time as well. Though well, it had always been that way for me.
I measured the distance between us. As he was overturning another pile of rubble, our eyes met over an empty bookcase. I put on a slightly surprised look and turned my back. Immediately after, there was an explosion of noise as he knocked down the bookcase and came after me.
I jumped, ducked, and ran. Behind me, Kanysen bulldozed through everything while using Qi Deflection over his whole body. A chair with a broken leg flew threw the air, while a cracked light bounced off like a ball and shattered to smithereens.
Chaos was happening behind me in real-time. I’d be seriously injured merely getting hit by any of those objects.
Kanysen paused to snatch up a nearby chairback and throw it at me.
I heard something terrifyingly shoot through the air. Mind-reading the situation, I barely ducked down before it smashed the back of my skull. The chairback whizzed past my head. I went giddy at the near miss.
“I’ll seriously die at this rate.”
I turned a corner and hid closely behind the wall. Instead of widening the distance, I kept still and held my breath, listening to the approaching thumping footsteps, reading his thoughts.
Consumed with rage, Kanysen was hot on my tail. I focused my mind and measured the distance between us using my power.
I aimed my gun at the oncoming blurry silhouette and fired.
Hearing the gunshot, Kanysen flinched and covered his eyes out of reflex.
While he was frozen, I tossed the gun aside and sprang out from behind the corner. Pouncing toward Kanysen, I brandished my hidden card, which transformed into a sharp skewer as it slid past my wrist. I exerted the whole weight of my body and stabbed.
Kanysen’s eyes widened.
“Take this, the skewer that killed Delta!”
The point of the skewer moved toward his temple. Although it wasn’t perfect, it was the best attack I could manage. However.
｢Just about what I expected. A cheap trick!｣
Kanysen clearly saw it coming with his wide-open eyes. His right hand shot up and caught my fist in a crushing grip. He diverted my aim, then made me drop the skewer by twisting my wrist. At the same time, he grabbed my collar with his other hand and slammed me to the wall. I felt my body rising, and a second later, my whole back hit hard concrete.
Realizing I was being strangled, I hastily grabbed his wrist, but it was like a rock that didn’t budge.
Kanysen wore a grim look as he muttered.
“I trust you’re ready to die after all that nonsense you spouted.”
“Krgh, wa-it. Agh.”
“I can’t hear well. Where did that laid-back attitude from earlier go?”
I can’t talk if you don’t let me go, asshole!
I desperately tapped the hand gripping my throat. After several tries, Kanysen eased his grip
as if he wanted to hear what I had to say.
Oh, much better.
Gasping for breath, I lived up to his expectation.
I inwardly praised my “scenario” as I raised both arms with a grin.
“Pickpocketing successful. Look at your left wrist! I stole something very important to you!”
‘Pickpocketing? My left wrist? What is he up to now.’
Despite his thoughts, his gaze naturally turned to the cuff of his left hand which was gripping my collar. He couldn’t help it. When you’re told to do something or otherwise, you can’t help growing conscious of it once it’s on your mind. Kanysen looked at his left sleeve with puzzled eyes.
Finally, the man was taking a glance as I bubbled with anticipation. I cried out in my excitement.
“Your freedom, that is!”
There was a large tear in Kanysen’s left sleeve, exposing his bio-receptor, the device created by magically synchronizing his arch-avatar, his biometric information. It was a symbol of the State’s totalitarianism, which was precisely why the Resistance had to install one if only to avoid inspections.
And an unknown packet was plugged into that bio-receptor.
Kanysen muttered with a dumb face.
“A clothing… packet?”
It was no ordinary clothing packet. The item was stored along with an instructor’s uniform packet in a prison. That packet, which I was so delighted to find, was labeled with the sign of a chain.
‘A straitjacket packet!’
Kanysen tried to get the packet out in bewilderment, but it was already too late. It forcibly drew mana from his bio-receptor. Upon registering his arch-avatar, the packet began to vibrate
and disassemble into tens of thousands of serpentine threads that enveloped him.
His constricting grip on my throat fell away. I massaged my aching neck as I landed on the floor.
Kanysen was pointlessly resisting the straitjacket that was restraining him. Not for long, of course. The packet was a trap made to be used against individuals. It was the worst invention of the State that was designed to control humans, and an “average” strong man like him could never undo it.
I gave a deep bow and revealed my act.
“Upgraded pickpocketing: picksocketing! A brilliant success!”
We will be changing MC’s designation from Instructor to Warden. Since it seems in later chapter author uses mostly “warden” with occasional “instructor” to refer to MC’s designation. So for the sake of consistency, we will be sticking to one term, warden.
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