Translated by JayQue of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Kris, Gwyndolyn
“Carlyle.” Mundi’s tent suddenly had one of its corners lifted, and the person waved to Carlyle from inside the tent. “It’s my turn. You go rest.”
Just when Carlyle was determined to tell Chen YiBai everything he knew, he jumped in surprise by the sudden action and hastily looked at the time on his wristwatch. They rotated and kept watch for two hours each, but he had been sitting for just half an hour… how was it Mundi’s turn?
But Carlyle had always been an agreeable person. On one hand, he had a guilty conscience for almost telling Chen YiBai about that thing just now. On the other hand, he knew Mundi had extraordinary senses after being together with him for three days. Now that he had been interrupted directly, something felt wrong, and he didn’t dare to refute. Carlyle even suspected that Mundi had heard what he had said just now and couldn’t help but shudder, carefully turning to glance at Chen YiBai, a hint of an apology in his eyes.
Then, he slowly went back to his own tent.
Chen Bai waved the tree branch in his hand and glanced at Mundi, who came and filled Carlyle’s place beside the fire, then waved at him in greeting.
“Not sleeping?” Mundi picked up two twigs and threw them into the bonfire.
“Not too tired,” Chen Bai said, then glanced sideways at Mundi, “You can go back and sleep a little more.”
Mundi shook his head.
The bonfire danced in the darkness, Chen Bai and Mundi sitting quite far apart. Many viewers who followed them opened up their group’s close ups and commented non-stop on how leader Mundi was taking such good care of Teacher Carlyle.
In reality, because the audio recording was cut off, the atmosphere felt by the viewers in front of their screens was completely different from the actual scene.
Chen Bai played around with the small branch. He could sense that both Carlyle and Faye were sitting in their own tents, concentrating on listening to the sounds outside.
“Teacher Carlyle’s words just now… did you hear them?” In this situation, Chen Bai was the first to break the silence.
After getting along for a few days, Chen Bai had formed an understanding of Mundi. This person looked like a very ordinary military lieutenant general, but he had extraordinary abilities. Because of his injuries in the Century War, Mundi retreated from the front lines to teach at Aldia.
And it was precisely because he fought under Heinz’ command in the Century War that he acknowledged and greatly respected Heinz’ abilities. This was also why he had never looked at Chen YiBai with any colored-lenses.
Which means, this was a loyal and highly responsible veteran that had faced life and death situations in the Century War. Compared to Carlyle, he was the sort of person Chen Bai came in contact with all the time.
“Mn,” Mundi responded.
He admitted it. It was expected, Chen YiBai was not a fool, so he knew something was wrong with how Professor Vanda hinted at something these past few days. And Chen YiBai asking these questions was only a matter of time, so Mundi had already prepared himself.
“Aside from us, the other five groups will pass by the same place at the same time. This isn’t a coincidence, right?” Chen Bai asked as he turned his head to look at Mundi, “Is there something good there that could help us with the competition?”
He was trying to give Mundi space to step back. If Mundi wished, he could choose to side step here and not force himself to reveal the actual reason. On the other hand, if Mundi chose not to step down at this stage, then he must have prepared to reveal most of what he knew to Chen Bai.
He only needed a little bit of guidance, and Chen Bai would know everything Mundi knew.
And Chen Bai bet that Mundi would choose to tell him.
Not for any other reason, Mundi must be feeling conflicted as well. If the other groups were all going to the same place, then Chen Bai bet that it had something to do with Berkeley. Because before he came here, he had met up with Black.
Black had told him, during the Teacher’s Competition, Berkeley would have something big coming up. Chen Bai wasn’t sure at first if Black was referring to the time period during the Teacher’s Competition or within the competition itself.
But because of the long-term relationship between Berkeley and Aldia, as well as Professor Vanda’s ambiguous hints, Chen Bai felt that the competition would not progress peacefully.
Then, if all of these were related to Berkeley, if these were all what Berkeley had planned, then it would be impossible for Mundi, a previous military lieutenant general and current Aldia teacher to not know what was going on.
His attitude towards Professor Vanda confirmed the fact that he knew. Using its relationship with the academy to transfer experiments was what Berkeley had been doing even before Chen Bai had left it.
A soldier like Mundi choosing not to join in or stop it means he must have his own reasons. But he must be suffering internally, and the conflict within his mind would make him want to spill everything subconsciously.
“No.” After a short while, Mundi shook his head, his eyes pained. “It’s not related to the competition.”
“Hm?” Chen Bai’s tone carried hints of astonishment but not his facial expression.
Mundi looked at him deeply, then took a deep breath and said, “This year’s Teacher’s Competition is different from the past. It’s an internal war in the Alliance, and whichever party that can survive until the end… will lead the Alliance in the future.”
When Mundi said this, he looked as if he was shedding a large burden from his mind. His gaze was not on Chen Bai anymore but towards the bonfire. Not waiting for Chen YiBai to reply, he continued, “It sounds very unbelievable, but it’s the reality. Perhaps most people don’t know, but ever since the Century War, two opposing parties slowly formed within the Alliance.
“One is the extremist party led by some military and government high officials. They advocate expanding the military’s power extensively, making all people into soldiers, genetic modifications, human body modifications, and using everything to increase the military’s strength. The other side is the conservative party led by President Ruble. They advocate enriching the army’s development and infrastructure while improving the people’s living standards at the same time, slowly bringing back the Alliance towards what it was before the Century War.”
“This… I heard of it before.” Chen Bai blinked.
“Mn, Marshal should have told you. There’s also another power: the neutral party led by Heinz himself.
“After the enormous destruction by the war, it’s not strange that high officials came into power like this.” Any place with people would have mutual deception because humans were always greedy animals. And those that sit at high positions are usually greedier than the average people, so places full of them would never be peaceful. But appropriate opposition isn’t disadvantageous to the Alliance because if the two parties could match each other measure for measure, then they could speed up the Alliance’s development in reality.
Thus, Chen Bai asked, “But what does it have to do with the Teacher’s Competition?”
“If the forces were balanced, it wouldn’t have too much of an effect. It was actually like this in the beginning. That’s why for those few years after the Century War ended the Alliance’s rebuilding was smooth and efficient,” Mundi replied, then closed his eyes, “But everything changed after that.
“In the Alliance, there’s an underground organization called Berkeley. We only recently found out their actual name. This organization… has a very powerful force, a self-sufficient system of transferring out special agents, and even a research lab that’s been around for several decades, specially used for human and genetic modification experiments. A lot of its confidential documents were directly stolen from the Alliance’s research lab, and they conducted countless immoral and inhumane experiments without any restrictions, making their depth of research surpass the Alliance’s current level by a lot.
“Genetic modifications, armed special agents, these… are the dreams of the extremist party,” Mundi said, then wiped his face with his hand. “Because of this organization’s appearance, which gradually sided with the extremist party, the latter’s power began to surpass and topple ol’ Ruble’s conservative party. The balance was broken the moment Berkeley chose a side.”
Chen Bai’s gaze darkened.
There were Berkeley’s people in both the military and the government. With its strength, if it had been discovered by the military or the government, then it was more likely that it had chosen to expose itself. Thinking back to Ellie’s birthday banquet, his heart couldn’t help but sink.
Chen Bai was more familiar with Berkeley than anyone. That was precisely why he was sure that the moment Berkeley chose to surface from the waters, it meant that… it was about to finish its final plans.
“The extremist party will never let the conservative party move forward. The moment they have enough power, they will immediately tear off the conservative party’s wings.” Mundi clenched his fists as he said, “And the reason why they will all go to the same place is because there is a military base there.”
“This planet is under Marshal Heinz’ jurisdiction. As the neutral party, he neither stands with the extremist party nor the conservative party. But he has overwhelming strength, so both sides are wary of provoking him. That’s why they wanted to use the Teacher’s Competition as an opportunity to scout out the military base that was very important to Berkeley, called…”
Hearing this, Chen Bai couldn’t help his fists from clenching.
It was Ramon.
How could he forget… At the beginning, the experiment base of that old professor from Berkeley who had first categorized mental abilities into manipulative and explosive types, which had eventually guided Berkeley’s research direction for decades after, was on this planet.
Chen Bai’s gaze darkened more. That old professor was taken by Berkeley for some unknown reason, but he had worked in Berkeley for five years. In just five years, the once acclaimed genius, who was on par with Dr. Einbergen in terms of intelligence in the Alliance’s history, had carved out the research direction for the next few decades for Berkeley.
Chen Bai had joined Berkeley half a month before the professor’s death. In that time, Chen Bai had undergone Berkeley’s inhuman intense training, causing some of his memories to become blurry, but his impression of this professor was deep and profound.
It wasn’t that he had never investigated before, but he clearly remembered that the professor’s research base here had been blasted into nothingness by Berkeley at that time, and all the important data had been taken away… So why were they sending people here again? For what?
“Called Ramon, named after the user Dr. Ramon. It was once an outstanding scientist’s research base and was largely destroyed many years ago. But according to some leaked information, there’s a very important device hidden underground by Dr. Ramon in this base. This machine can only be taken away when someone is manually controlling it… I’m not sure about the specifics, but in short, this is the reason all five other groups are heading in that direction.”
Chen Bai calmed down the tidal waves in his heart and asked in a low voice, “Take away… for what? To support Berkeley’s research?”
Mundi shook his head. After a long while, he said in a trembling voice, “They want to lead a war.”
Chen Bai reeled.
Though he had already prepared himself mentally when Mundi had said the Alliance had found out about Berkeley’s existence, he still couldn’t help his heart from trembling when he heard this.
This was what he feared most.
Firstly, with Heinz here, no matter how strong Berkeley was in military strength, it couldn’t train more secret agents than the number of elites under Heinz. That was why Berkeley had continually avoided confronting him head on all this time.
Secondly, Heinz’ father’s martyrdom had innumerable links with Berkeley, which was also why even knowing that Heinz’ strength could help them exponentially, Berkeley never dared provoke him.
It looked like that as long as Heinz stood with the Alliance, Berkeley’s plans would not be accomplished easily.
But, now Berkeley had special soldiers that no one else in the Alliance had, which were a kind of psychological manipulator they developed with Dr. Ramon’s research after decades of inhumane experiments on thousands of people.
Combined with a magnetite, a large-scale attack would turn out like what had happened at Ellie’s banquet. Weaponless, they could even make Heinz’ direct elites lose their battle abilities. If this war was started on Venus, then no matter what happened, there would definitely be a large number of casualties and destruction.
The Alliance’s understanding of manipulative mental controllers was too little. With this overpowering advantage, Berkeley wouldn’t even need to shed blood for an easy victory.
The reason he had come back was to creep back into Berkeley to take his members and special agents before they could initiate the war. These people had followed Chen Bai to hell & back and were Berkeley’s oldest batch of special agents. If these people joined Chen Bai, they could crumble a small part of Berkeley’s central power, causing significant damage, and inform the military about Berkeley’s plans through Heinz at the same time. Throwing a wrench into their plans, Berkeley would lose the key opportunity and have problems in their inner circle, cutting away half of their power.
Berkeley also had another big weakness: those experimentees didn’t have their consciousnesses completely removed. Only a small number of super strong mental controllers could control most of them using the machine. Chen Bai remembered clearly the names of these people, so if he could take them out and destroy the machines, he could collapse the rest of Berkeley’s powers.
But now… not only had Berkeley finished its self-evolution, it had also turned from passive response to active initiation, meaning all of Chen Bai’s plans were useless.
To Chen Bai, this was massive, grievous news.
As a special agent, he had constantly walked on a knife’s edge, so he knew how plans usually couldn’t catch up to actual changes. The battlefield always changed, but Berkeley didn’t. Berkeley’s a large organization, and every step must be very detailed. It was not just one person’s decision but the advancement of the whole organization.
Chen Bai knew every single aspect of Berkeley like the back of his hand. He had wasted nearly five years, putting his plans in place as he went… and it was broken now.
This is impossible. He understood Berkeley too well, and all of his judgments had been made by his understanding of Berkeley. If Chen Bai’s predictions were wrong, that meant… Within Berkeley, there must have been a massive change that turned Berkeley on its head. But when he had made contact with Black, this news hadn’t been mentioned to him.
And for the moment, the one thing that was outside of his expectations was the Ramon base on this planet.
Was it because of this base?
In theory, Berkeley’s number of experimentees was not enough to initiate war yet. So what did they have in this base to give them the edge to initiate war earlier?
“Do you think that I’m stupid and cowardly? When facing such a big threat to the Alliance, all I could think of was running away.” Mundi suddenly questioned as Chen Bai’s mind was swirling with thoughts about Berkeley.
Chen Bai paused and pulled back his train of thought. He was silent for a while before replying, “No, everyone has the right to choose for themselves. As a soldier, you’d sacrificed your all to the Alliance three years ago. But today, you’re just a teacher from Aldia, a normal citizen of the Alliance, so you have the right to choose freely.”
Mundi shook his head, “If the entire nation was brought to arms under the guidance of Berkeley, the whole Alliance would definitely suffer great damage… I do not wish to see this happen, but… but I also don’t want to see a second Century War. Whether it’s the extremist party or the conservative party, as long as the Alliance could be free from the clutches of war, I would support them, even willingly risk my life for it.”
Chen Bai listened to Mundi’s words and quieted. He remembered his last day at Beta Region, when Myron was spitting at the names of those experts on the television, stating that those who hadn’t experienced it would not know how the soldiers had battled in despair. The level of cruelty and despair could not be described by the mere words ‘Century War.’
If they could become stronger, strong enough to prevent a second war for the Alliance, Chen Bai thought. There must be a lot who had thoughts similar to Mundi’s.
Only those who participated in the war would understand.
He couldn’t persuade Mundi because he couldn’t guarantee that the Gars would not come back. He also couldn’t guarantee that the conservative party would be better than Berkeley at leading the Alliance to a better future.
He thought for a while and raised his head to look at the night sky, where clusters of stars twinkled brightly, then took a deep breath.
“Is now really the time to investigate the conservatives and extremists’ problems? Dr. Einbergen’s kidnapping is the most serious issue in the whole Alliance!”
“We must track down Dr. Einbergen! Whatever it is, this must be prioritized first!”
“Impossible! Berkeley now has eyes over the Alliance; how could we make sure that when the research lab is opened they wouldn’t come and steal away our precious data again? If something happened to Dr. Einbergen, the data here would most likely be our only advantage against Berkeley! And how would you know that this isn’t a trap set up by Berkeley? To force us to open those safes?”
“You’re joking! Did you slam your head against the door?! Something happening to Dr. Einbergen? Even if you get beaten to death, Dr. Einbergen wouldn’t have anything happen to him. His safety is what the Alliance put at topmost priority! If we can track down Dr. Einbergen, any sacrifice will be made!”
“Hey, alright alright, calm down. We’re here to discuss a solution, not to fight.” Close to Heinz, the meritorious General Abraham one seat below him interrupted with a gentle voice, while moving his hands in a placating motion.
Everyone looked at him before they quieted shortly.
Around the meeting table sat all the higher ups of the military and the government who could arrive at the earliest time. Some of them agreed to open the safe in the research lab and search for all possible paths leading out of the lab, whereas others disagreed.
The elderly officials argued and fought like there was no tomorrow, while those with slightly less experience didn’t dare to open their mouths.
And at the topmost of this table, sitting side by side, were the military’s top marshal Heinz and the Alliance government’s Vice-President Mile who was sent by ol’ Ruble.
Both their expressions were very ugly. No matter who it was, they both had a lot on their minds with Dr. Einbergen’s kidnapping.
The more they argued, the more Heinz’ expression darkened. Not more than a few minutes after General Abraham made them stop for a while, these people started arguing again.
Pursing his lips, Heinz couldn’t help but spread out his mental energy and make it surround the entire meeting room, a fierce gleam in his eyes.
Being surrounded by this mental energy, those with less resistant brain regions immediately shut up, feeling their limbs becoming limp. And those who could resist a little also burst into sweat and glanced over at Heinz.
The distance between their powers were too great, and no one at this meeting table dared to make a complaint against Heinz. Aside from the few military higher ups who always sucked up to Heinz looking immensely proud, everyone else gulped silently.
It was entirely possible for this sort of mental energy to formlessly crush more than half of them right now.
“Are you done?” Calling back his mental energy, Heinz asked coldly while watching everyone below breathing heavily.
The rest of them kept quiet out of fear, and no one responded for a while.
“Open all the doors in the lab; I’ll investigate personally.”
“No!” An old man with a white beard immediately shouted. When he realized that he was replying to the marshal, he shuddered helplessly. But after two seconds, he still summoned up the courage to say, “No, even- even if it’s the marshal, we can’t guarantee…”
“Guarantee what? Guarantee that I’m not one of Berkeley’s people?” Heinz looked at him coolly and slammed the pen that he was twirling around his palm onto the table, “You better pray that I’m not; otherwise, if Berkeley decided to attack, the Alliance wouldn’t even last for a day.”
His bone-chilling voice immediately sealed the white-bearded old man’s lips, and the others couldn’t refute for a long while.
Glancing at the absolutely silent meeting room, Heinz said coldly, “All of you here are not some simple characters, and I know this better than anyone else. In the past three years, the good, the bad, the strong, and the weak have all ‘asked about my well-being’ hundreds of times. I don’t care who your masters are, and I really couldn’t care to bother with it, but the Alliance’s safety today was paid for with the fresh blood of hundreds of thousands of my soldiers three years ago. If anyone dares to have any thoughts they shouldn’t have as long as I’m here, you better go back and think carefully if your life is enough for you to play with.”
Unlike those bunch of elderly officials, Heinz radiated an aura of survival after shedding immeasurable blood. He had killed, his hands stained red with blood. He had seen countless cruel and bloody scenes, and that war had taken away his kin and loyal subordinates.
No one doubted the weight behind his words, and no one doubted that the people who took away Dr. Einbergen wouldn’t be alive after Heinz was through with them.
There was no one among them who was like Heinz, being at the peak of his strength in his youth and yet holding the highest status at the same time.
Even Vice-President Mile didn’t refute him.
Yet, just as Heinz stood up and prepared to take his men to the research lab, a soldier suddenly stumbled in. He didn’t even knock on the door and just stood in the doorway with panic written all over his face. Under the gaze of the entire room, he forced himself into a military salute.
“Re-report! Jus-just now we received word that President Ru-Ruble has been kidnapped! W-we couldn’t keep up with the kidnappers!”