Translated by JayQue of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Kris, Gwyndolyn
(TN: the title of this chapter can be read as someone exclaiming “handsome handsome handsome” or it could refer to Heinz as the commander of the three armed services, which is the army, navy, and air force)
This panicked report silenced the previously noisy meeting room in an instant. Vice-President Mile, who had been silent the whole time sitting beside Heinz, immediately jumped out of his seat. Watching the panicked soldier standing by the door, he gaped, “What did you say?! Say it again!”
Everyone understood clearly what the President’s kidnapping meant.
If the kidnappers were terrorists, then it would be easier. They could gather all of their resources to save the President who represents their country. There might be some power struggle in the meantime, but saving the President would definitely be everyone’s goal.
But now, everything was obviously different.
All the higher ups in the Alliance knew of the existence of Berkeley, some even had had dealings with it or had been approached for negotiation by it. The majority of them had already or were prepared to make their stance known. So, the only thing with the capability and reason to kidnap the President was Berkeley.
The moment the news broke, everyone was immediately filled with various complex feelings, which were indescribable.
In the past, Berkeley had operated everything underground. This kind of fierce rivalry was a common occurrence in human society. Any dealings they made occurred in the areas they frequented.
But now, with the news of the kidnappings of the Alliance’s most precious Dr. Einbergen and the President reaching their ears, they finally seemed to understand what they were about to truly face.
That was because Berkeley didn’t merely want the President to step down. More importantly, it wanted to overturn the Alliance’s current governing system. No one was certain what the system would look like after it was overhauled, and those who had contributed to Berkeley, including those who felt proud of themselves for it, couldn’t help but feel as if they had thrown themselves into a perilous situation as well.
When the possibility of this ending appeared in front of them, they only just realized that they were not so sure what the Alliance would become under the rule of Berkeley. Would it be better? Would it be as they wished? Would it be as they had promised before?
Most importantly… Would Berkeley actually succeed? If It failed, what would happen to them?
“What are you guards doing, letting the President be kidnapped? Letting the President get kidnapped on his own turf and you didn’t even give chase? You, you!”
At the round table, an old man with full white hair was the first to react, by immediately releasing his anger on the reporting soldier.
General Abraham hastily waved his hand and tried to comfort them, “Ay, we can’t blame the guards as incompetent. From the moment Dr. Einbergen was kidnapped, we should have realised that Berkeley is much more familiar with some of our confidential areas than we expected. The question now is… what’s their goal in kidnapping important members of the Alliance?”
After he finished speaking, he glanced meaningfully at everyone present.
There were many possible motives for Dr. Einbergen’s kidnapping. Known as the Alliance’s most valuable brain, Dr. Einbergen could have been taken to do a lot of things, especially with Berkeley’s ever-passionate research on genetic modification. But the President was different. In the Alliance, the President didn’t hold any military power. The one with the highest military power was Heinz, whereas the President had not a single drop of it.
In short, there were different meanings for kidnapping the President versus Dr. Einbergen. If it was the latter, they could hide him away forever, but it would be impossible for the former.
Perhaps they were going to take the chance to announce it to the whole Alliance and overturn its systems and government… but this was a very bad plan, since the people’s dissatisfaction with the current Alliance government was not that high. If they chose this method, they might not receive a lot of support and might even spike mass panic. Even if they somehow succeeded, it might sow a seed of hatred for its governance.
It was also possible that they wanted to make an exchange, but what kind of benefit did Berkeley want, to go as far as kidnapping the President?
Just as the people below were discussing fervently, Heinz’ mailbox suddenly let out a soft chime, and no one aside from Mile beside him noticed it.
At the same time, another soldier hurriedly rushed in.
“Re-report!” That soldier widened his eyes, “Just now, just now there’s news from the kidnappers. Th-they want the authority for jurisdiction over Planet X-5! They’ll on-only release President Ruble under the condition that we withdraw our troops at once!”
For the whole night, Mundi told Chen Bai many things regarding Aldia, from how he had become a teacher to how Berkeley’s forces had gotten in touch with him after that, and then how he had watched helplessly as Berkeley took away students right in front of him.
It sounded very unbelievable; how did an underground organization silently take away students from the Alliance’s number one military academy? But what wasn’t revealed was how Berkeley had planned its strategy for decades.
First, they would slowly corrode Aldia’s management level, then seep downwards one by one. There were many official research labs in the Alliance. Some people devoted their lives to it and never appeared in the eyes of the public again, and some worked for it in the dark, only going back home from time to time to establish their safety.
They used an ideal belief to hypnotize people. These students were either trapped or did it for their dreams as they became Berkeley’s most powerful force under the imperceptible influence of Aldia’s management level.
“I could only watch helplessly.” As he spoke, Mundi dejectedly grabbed fistfuls of his hair, a sense of helplessness swirling deep within his being.
“I could only watch helplessly.” Leaning close to the bonfire, he couldn’t help but repeat shakily, “I couldn’t stop it; I could only choose to help them and turn a blind eye. I’ve thought of reporting it, but I don’t know who I could tell…”
It was true; with a teacher’s abilities, it was hard to counter the planning-for-decades Berkeley. Additionally, if Berkeley dared to reach out to students, then it meant that the higher ups had already established links with it, so Mundi wouldn’t be able to do anything with his power.
Not to mention…
“You also thought of not stopping it, right?” After being silent for a while, Chen Bai asked.
The surroundings were plunged into a deathly quiet in an instant.
Mundi didn’t make a sound for a long, long time.
It was understandable, since anyone who had stepped onto the warzone knew what kind of hell it was, as well as the cost the Alliance had paid for the temporary peace right now. All soldiers knew better than anyone that there wouldn’t be only Gars who were like that out there in the universe.
This was Berkeley’s creed in the past, believing that the Alliance should spend all its resources on developing the military, making all people give up the life of peace to become soldiers.
All soldiers desired to become stronger, especially a leader such as Mundi, who had led others into battle and knew better than anyone that if some of the military’s equipment had been better or that if the Alliance had sent out enough support, they might not have lost so many fighters.
Their bitter victory against the Gars hadn’t given them any sense of safety. On the contrary, it had made many people like Mundi descend into a deeper level of dread. No one knew if there’d be a stronger race than the Gars next time, and whether they could stand to fight them.
After muttering to himself irresolutely, Chen Bai questioned, “So, now that they want to snatch this base… the people outside should also be moving, right?”
After a long while, Mundi nodded.
Chen Bai looked at the bonfire in front of him, feeling that things were never as simple as they seemed. When Ramon had left the base and joined Berkeley without bringing the things that Berkeley was now fighting to get, he either hadn’t wanted it and had thought it wasn’t important anymore, or this thing was hard to be taken with him.
Between the two, Chen Bai was more inclined to believe the latter option. First of all, it was within his expectations, so he guessed that this thing would most likely speed up Berkeley’s surfacing. Secondly, Ramon had passed away many years ago. If that thing was so useful, Berkeley would have taken it away as soon as possible. The fact that they had risked leaving it in the Alliance’s domain and did not dare to make any risky actions most likely meant that this thing was difficult to move.
But after so many years, had the Alliance’s military really not found out about the base’s existence?
Chen Bai couldn’t help but question, how did this thing seem to be forgotten by everyone, safely stored here for so many years? Even he had almost forgotten about it.
Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t help but ask it aloud. Mundi shook his head at his side, seemingly unsure as well, but then vaguely gave him an overview on the situation here at the moment.
It was said that the planet X-5 was always under the jurisdiction of Heinz. But he was always busy, so this planet’s management was constantly pushed down the line, until it was divided into many different factions, and the fight between the factions seemed to result in a failure of management in many areas.
This was just his guess. What the details were, no one knew.
“Is the reason why you chose to avoid that path because you didn’t want to be a part of it?” This wasn’t really a wise move. If this thing was something really important, then the moment it was claimed by Berkeley’s people, the Teacher’s Competition would most likely be stopped because of Berkeley’s actions.
Then, what was the meaning of them trying so hard for the past few days? What was the meaning for Mundi to participate in the competition?
“You’ve thought about stopping them, right?” Chen Bai asked after some thought.
Mundi had never wanted to join Professor Vanda and had always appeared blind to the other’s display of closeness. This was enough to prove that Mundi never planned to throw in his lot with Berkeley, as his stance was always caught between standing at the side and actually intervening.
And if there really were teachers directing this within Aldia… Chen Bai had been a student of Aldia himself, so he didn’t think that all teachers would choose to stand with Berkeley. There must be some others who were trying to stop them and probably had the same intentions as Mundi when joining this competition.
But now he didn’t know where his path was going… Does that mean he was giving up?
“It’s no use. Right now, most of the military and government’s influences are standing with Berkeley,” Mundi lowered his head, clenching both hands into fists, “I have thought about stopping it, but, with my abilities, what qualifications do I have? What qualifications do I have to conclude that Berkeley isn’t fit to rule the Alliance? How do I know if what I’m doing is right… Teacher Chen, you don’t know how much I have continuously struggled these three years. I know that Berkeley has an extreme set of beliefs, but after the war with the Gars, I now think that only extreme measures could help the Alliance find a path to survive.”
“Teacher Chen, you’re from Beta Region. The war didn’t manage to reach the center of Alpha, but you, I’m afraid you must know better than most how terribly the battle was fought. The Alliance wouldn’t be able to handle this kind of war a second time.”
“If Berkeley governs the Alliance and improves the Alliance’s military at lightning speed, even making it possible for us to survive an attack from stronger beings in the universe, then, with this thought, why bother if its beliefs and policies are a little extreme?”
In this small camp, excluding Waldo who was sound asleep after Chen Bai influenced him, Carlyle and Faye were both concentrating their attention on listening in. The latter held a cigarette in her mouth, her eyes full of darkness; whereas Carlyle’s eyes were red and swimming with tears.
The strong enemy had made them feel fatal danger. Even though they had won, it had still destroyed their castle of confidence.
“I understand.” Chen Bai nodded and threw the branch from his hand into the fire.
“… Teacher Chen?” Mundi paused.
“Tomorrow after dawn, I’ll request to quit the group.” Chen Bai flashed a smile at Mundi, “I want to go take a look.”
Mundi widened both his eyes, “You’re going? What use is that? Berkeley has made ample preparations…”
“The Gars had also made enough preparations at that time,” Chen Bai patted the dust off his pants, “But they were still defeated by the Alliance. Perhaps I’m not very strong in Teacher Mundi’s eyes, but I still want to take a look, furthermore… There’s something I might need to correct you on. You say that anyone with power in the military is with Berkeley, but as far as I know, my lover is not with them.”
He said as he looked up at the sky. The firelight shone on his face, those incomparable eyes filled with radiance.
“I don’t want to force you to do anything with my beliefs, but… those soldiers who had traded their lives for our victory and stopped the Gars at Beta Region with their flesh and blood must not have done it so that the people they protected would follow in their footsteps.”
Chen Bai said, then stood up. Those ink black eyes seemed to be filled with endless sorrow.
“When they died in battle, their last thoughts were probably for the country to prosper and for the people to be at peace.”
X-5 was the planet currently hosting the Teacher’s Competition.
After the soldier finished speaking, he immediately opened up a light screen, displaying the information recently sent by the kidnapper to the entire meeting room.
“This, this… How are we sure that they’ll let President Ruble go after we withdraw our troops?”
“That’s right. Suddenly telling us to withdraw our troops without stating any reason, we can’t let them put us at such a disadvantage! Am I right, General Abraham?”
As someone who had calmed the meeting room’s atmosphere twice before, General Abraham was once again receiving everyone’s gazes. He furrowed his brows, something flashing in his eyes, before he shook his head, signaling that he also couldn’t make a decision.
If they didn’t withdraw their troops, it meant that they couldn’t guarantee President Ruble’s life, but if they withdrew, how would they face the people of the Alliance? The Teacher’s Competition was still being broadcast live with the entire population watching. What kind of reason could they give to stop this competition?
The news of the research lab exploding was not covered up. Now that special circumstances kept coming up, how could they placate the people without causing excessive panic?
And if they withdrew their troops, it meant that they were being absolutely obedient. There were some Alliance managers here that really didn’t want to see that happen.
“Then you tell us; what are we going to do if something happens to President Ruble?! We only have to withdraw our troops, not our defenses on the border. With such a small planet, we could enhance the defenses surrounding the planet to secure it. The most important thing now is President Ruble’s safety!”
Now that General Abraham wasn’t able to speak, everyone started arguing and throwing in their opinions.
“President Ruble has a high status; in unsavory words, he also has exploitable value. If we don’t withdraw the troops on X-5, they might still not do anything to the President. We’re already in a deeply passive state regarding Dr. Einbergen’s case, so we can’t take a laissez-faire attitude with this. Otherwise, how will the Alliance control its current situation?”
“The current situation already can’t be controlled!” When the former had just finished speaking, another person immediately roared, “Our cities and territories are seized by others again and again. We only just found out that Berkeley had risen into power, and no one knows how many of their moles are seated among us! Is the problem really about us calling the shots? If we don’t pluck out the evil monsters hiding among us, the Alliance will disappear!”
“Hey, what are you saying?”
“That’s right. We’re all here to discuss on how to rescue President Ruble and Dr. Einbergen; aren’t you afraid of disappointing everyone here if you speak like that? Moreover, what qualifications do you have to accuse us? If things really are as you say, then everyone here is a suspect!”
As they spoke and argued busily, General Abraham suddenly turned his head to look at Heinz with a meaningful gaze, “Marshal, what do you think?”
Abraham’s voice wasn’t loud, but that one sentence had silenced the entire meeting room again.
Clearly, everyone had a deep fear towards Heinz’ strength, not to mention he had a batch of loyal subordinates numbering more than a hundred thousand people under his wing from before when they fought during the Century War, all of them exceedingly strong elites. The current Alliance and even Berkeley might not have the power to face him head on.
In the early days, many were afraid that Heinz would revolt and had wildly tried to divide and swallow his forces during those few years he was still recuperating. Yet, they could hardly even take a bite.
These facts testified to the loyalty of his direct soldiers as well as the reason why Berkeley had never dared to readily provoke Heinz. If they were successful, then they could double their might like a tiger with wings added. If not, then they’d be opening the door for the wolf to come in.
His post as a marshal was given to him personally by President Ruble for his and his soldiers’ meritorious deeds during the Century War. There were many, many people supporting Heinz in the military. If they didn’t have the three meritorious generals, the Vice-President and the President’s joint signatures, for a total of five people, they wouldn’t be able to move Heinz even an inch away from his position.
Because of this, many people feared him deeply, and there wasn’t only one person who’d thought about getting rid of him after he had served his purpose. But they’d lost too many high ranking officials in the Century War; if they hadn’t made such a post for Heinz, then who could they have depended on?
The reliance back then had turned into the deep restricting fear today.
With something happening to the head of the government, the only one with authority for decision on what to do right now would be this commander of the military.
Heinz lifted his head and looked at the gradually quieting meeting room. He was silent for a bit before speaking, “Stop the Teacher’s Competition temporarily.”
His voice was powerful and resonating, making those who wanted to rescue President Ruble immediately release a breath. But his next words made everyone’s eyes widen.
“Kureya and Janus, lead your soldiers and head to X-5 at once. Defend it with your life; don’t let anyone in without my orders!”
These two were Heinz’ direct soldiers, with Kureya currently standing behind him. Hearing his orders, she instantly gave a salute to Heinz, “Yes, sir!”
After that, she turned to walk out immediately.
“Stop!” Abraham was the first to speak up.
He looked around at the stunned top officials of the government and military, a dark glare flashing across his eyes.
“Does the general have any protests?” Heinz’ severe glare turned to him.
When Abraham was younger, he was once one of the Alliance’s very best fighters. But time waits for no one, and compared to the youthful and vigorous Heinz, his mental energy was clearly not enough to compete with the other’s.
But, ginger gets spicier as it gets older*. His expression was unmoved, and he glared back at Heinz with determination in his gaze, “The marshal doesn’t care about President Ruble’s safety?”
(*Idiom: the older the person, the wiser they are.)
“That’s right, Marshal. Now that President Ruble is under their control, ev-even if we want to obstruct them from within and take back the advantage, we should still be concerned about President Ruble’s safety. If we go in all tough and unyielding, and they become angered by shame…” After Abraham spoke up, someone else immediately tried to move Heinz’ decision.
“And then? Kill President Ruble?” Heinz suddenly straightened his back and interrupted that government member, his gaze bone chilling.
“This…” Being interrupted so suddenly, and with such direct words, completely different from the politicians’ normal sly schemes against each other, he didn’t know how to continue for a long while. Then, he put on a bold face and said, “Ri-right, even if you’re the marshal, y-you still can’t ignore the President’s safety, right?”
“Why not?” Heinz narrowed his eyes, a hint of mockery appearing in them, “Every fighter in the military, including me, swore to sacrifice our lives for the Alliance and for the people when we joined the Alliance army.”
“It’s for the people and the Alliance, not the President.”
“Since Berkeley has something they want on X-5, so much that they didn’t even hesitate to kidnap the President, they’ve demonstrated the importance of that object. I can’t possibly hand out the tools that would cause the Alliance’s people to suffer just for the President’s life.”
“In addition, this decision is one I made as the military’s highest commander-in-chief. Even General Abraham can’t take it back.”
His words ending here, Heinz stood up, his sharp gaze scanning everyone in the room before he said coolly, “If the President encounters any mishap and it causes panic among the people, then I, Heinz, will bear all responsibility. At that point, you can all point at me to step down from my position without any resistance.”
“But until then, I am the Alliance’s marshal, commander-in-chief of the three armed services. With the current situation, I have the highest authority in the Alliance. Thus, I declare, from now on, the Alliance will go into a complete state of war, and I will investigate everything about Berkeley until the end.”