Chapter 113 – Masquerade Party(27)
“Hm? You need something?”
“No, it’s just… It’s nice of you to come visit and all, but don’t you usually bring fruits or something?”
Meanwhile, Vex, who completed his recovery from his serious wounds in just a week, was munching on the huge pile of cucumbers Ian brought with him amongst the doctors, who seemed exceptionally busy today.
“Why? Cucumbers are nice. And good for your body. I got these expensive guys especially for you because they said you needed to drink a lot of water. They said that the Dome’s orchards actually took a big hit. When the power overloaded during its collection, apparently the thermostat went up to about 70 or 80 degrees. So all of the fruits they were growing and had stored turned bad, and only the cucumbers survived. In the Community, it looked like the individual survivors were happy because their fruit prices rose.”
“So that’s why it’s cucumbers. Water, you say…”
Vex looked down at the large wound on his hip. It was almost the size of two adult fists. He actually didn’t know it was this big of a wound back when he was fighting, but when he looked at it now, he wasn’t sure how he was still alive. If it weren’t for the high-tech equipment surrounding him, he probably wouldn’t have been.
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“I’ve heard others talk about Dome this, Dome that, but this is beyond my expectations.”
“I know. Last night, when I saw you get up while I was asleep, I thought your soul left your body and buzzed the nurse like crazy. And then I got scolded by them when I broke the button.”
“It does look like they did a lot of stuff to me. One of them tried to use a medicine in a strange test tube, but another doctor that rushed in said something like, ‘Not that! They’re my important children and the foundation for future research! Give it back! Give it back to me~!’ and was dragged away by some other doctors.”
“Ah, that. The old doctor that was putting in the shot had shaking hands as he put it in, and in the end, he closed his eyes when he put it in. Your condition did improve drastically since then.”
“I’m a little nervous because they’re being too nice to us…”
“Hey—! All the patient should worry about is getting better. It’s good for you that they’re treating you well. It’s not like we don’t have the money or the status. We basically saved their entire city, so think of this as your right. You want another one?”
Just as Vex replied, ‘Sure,’ and reached out his hand, the door to the intensive care unit opened aggressively and attracted the attention of everyone in the room.
“Oh, hey Gyosu. He must have recovered fast, just like you did.”
In response to Ian’s comment, Vex’s eyes trembled uncontrollably.
Because the one who opened the door didn’t look human.
Bandages wound over his entire body like a mummy’s.
Like someone nervous, he was letting out heavy breaths as he scanned the room with a bent-over body.
And his left arm and hand were too large and discolored to be called a human’s.
The cucumber that was in Vex’s hand dropped to the floor. Because he saw the sad monster’s true form a few days ago in the central area. The monster that moved even as a corpse, as if possessed by a wandering spirit.
“Ayo, Vex! How you doing? I heard you were hurt pretty badly, but you’re already up?”
Hearing the familiar voice come out of the unfamiliar body, Vex…
“Uuuraghhhh! H-he died! Hepburn! Came back to me! As a monster! Waaaaahhhhhh!!!!!”
…hunched over on the hospital bed and started to sob uncontrollably.
It took over 30 minutes to calm down Vex as he tore off the IV line and electrodes on his body.
And so after Gyosu, Ian, and all of the doctors nearby worked together to calm down Vex, who was attempting to follow his friend to the afterlife…
“Hepburn. Then… that’s your hand now?”
“Yeah, like I said. It’s pretty useful, but it is definitely uncomfortable compared to my normal hand. So we’re looking for a way to turn it back.”
The three friends sat calmly in the hospital room, now in a complete mess, munching on cucumbers.
“Ohh, look at this smooth reflection! It shines like obsidian!”
“Chairman, sir, why don’t we start with a resonance test first?”
“A wonderful idea! Bring the equipment from Lab 3 right now, and you! The ones that record this need to get every single moment of this on video! This study might just start a new page in humanity’s history! The video will be sent to the other Domes as well, so there can’t be any mistakes!”
In the end, the researchers clung to Gyosu’s left hand like barnacles on a boulder.
“You don’t need to worry about a thing, Mister Gyosu Park! This left hands usage, and a way to return it to its original form! Our biotechnology research department will definitely find it for you! You won’t regret choosing to cooperate with our department!”
He honestly already had plans to check out the Dome’s latest technology in one way or another. His plan had been to first rest a bit and, after the situation calmed down, cooperate with the research department that offered him the biggest deal out of the ones that talked to him up on the other floor.
But when the doctors rushed in with whiteboards, hologram images, and even magazines from the Old Times as they explained their treatment process and high-tech resources used for Vex like it was some kind of medical seminar, he couldn’t just ignore it anymore.
‘They performed the surgery with a precision surgical robot from the Old Times with an operating limit of only 580 hours because they didn’t have the replacement parts, and to prevent infections, they administered TI643 universal antibiotics six times of 3000mg that they didn’t even have that many left of in the Dome, and they scraped together the stem cells from the Old Times they kept frozen because they didn’t have an incubation facility…’
The materials and videos they provided were too realistic to dismiss what they said as nonsense. These doctors from the ‘Biotechnology Research Department’ or something really did everything they could.
‘Since I came in a little after Vex was hospitalized, they might have had the intention of asking for my help after I recovered—no, I’m sure that’s what they planned to do…’
But what they did was what they did. It was thanks to these people that Vex, who had to go through pancreatic jejunal connection surgery and have his liver sewn back together after it almost exploded, recovered in just a week and was munching on cucumbers like this. He needed to repay what he received.
So ultimately, he agreed to visit the Dome’s Biotechnology Research Department once a week and participate in their research.
“By the way, which room were you in, Gyosu? I went looking for you a couple times to check if you were okay, but I couldn’t find you anywhere.”
“Don’t even get me started. I got ridiculously lost from my hospital room all the way here. From the weird boxes riding on rails on the ceiling and the structure of how the hospital rooms are lined up, it looks like the base of this place was a university hospital, but it looks like they tore down some of the walls and hospital rooms and added research facilities to it. And since they had research facilities, they needed to add security facilities, vacuum rooms, and all sorts of stuff, and ended up with this mess of a path.”
Gyosu shivered as he thought about his journey here after escaping from his room. He hid in one place to hide from the researchers that chased him, only for the wall he was hiding behind to open with even more researchers rushing out saying something along the lines of ‘O-our performance evaluation will be clear for next year, two years if we can get you on our sideee!!’ Then a fire shutter suddenly came down on what looked like a normal hallway, and more people clung onto him, begging that their department was going to close down if they didn’t get the funding this time. He felt like the main character of a zombie apocalypse movie.
“No wonder it was so s—ty. I thought the guy who designed this place had a warped sense of art, but that was why. How did you get out of that maze anyway?”
“A nurse I knew helped me. They got me through a place I was lost in 30 minutes for just 3 minutes.”
“A nurse, you say… I guess celebrities really are different, huh? Women getting attracted to a cherry boy like you.”
“Hm? Celebrity? What’s that about?”
“Keheheh, you don’t know a thing, do you? Then… I don’t want to rattle on pointlessly.”
“I’ll just show you instead!”
With a smirk at my question, Ian walked towards the window and pushed open the thick curtains.
Sunlight. It was sunlight. Not a hazy light hidden by the dust and sand, but clear, bright sunlight.
This in itself was already new enough, but what was under it was even newer.
[Citizens have the right to know!]
[Announce the condition of Hero Gyosu Park and the rest of BDSM!]
[Thank you for saving us! Please get well soon!]
Not in a million years would I have imagined a word like that to be in front of my name. Not ever, never, nada. Even delusions aren’t unrealistic enough for that.
“Woah, woah. Don’t get close to the window.”
“Wait, what happened while I was in the…”
“It’s Gyosu Park! He finally showed himself!”
“It’s a scoop!”
“Sob! Our dear Gyosu! Look at those bandages!”
“He’s alive! He was alive!”
When he leaned towards the window, stunned by the unbelievable situation, countless clicking sounds and cheers roared out.
“Tch. I told you not to.”
“That… They’re doing that to me, right? Not some other famous Gyosu Park in this hospital?”
“Yeah, it’s for you.”
Ian habitually took out a cigar as he grinned at him, but put it back in after receiving a sharp glare from the doctor stuck to Gyosu’s arm.
“You’re famous now. Not just famous, but to the point that every single person in the Wastelands knows your name. The Dome sold you out big time.”
“Sold… me out?”
“That’s a little rude of an expression. All we did was let the citizens know who was the most devoted group to saving the Dome, and was injured and unconscious as a result.”
Someone else responded to my small mumble.
When he turned around, he faced people wearing the Inspection Bureau’s traditional neat suits and a young girl that were entering the room. From them, a tall, white-haired man at the front reached his hand out to Gyosu.
“I’ve heard many things about you, but this is the first time we’ve met. It is a pleasure to meet you, BDSM’s leader, Mr. Gyosu Park. I’m Alexander Young, the Director of the Inspection Bureau.”
‘Alexander Young… Inspection Director!’
Looking at Ezel and Ralph give him a small wave behind the Director, he reached out and shook his hand. Not even I could treat the Director of a branch like that.
“I’m Gyosu Park, Leader of BDSM. I heard that you spread my name. Is there a special reason for that?”
“Hm. I think the conversation might get a little long, so why don’t we move elsewhere? There’s a nice café here in the Administrative Branch’s building, so if you’re not busy…”
The researchers clinging to Gyosu’s left arm growled at that suggestion, but when the Director’s face hardened, they all fell off like children moping after their favorite toy was taken from them.
“I suggest that we go there. This place is a bit too open and has one too many people listening in.”
Gyosu thought about the Director’s offer for a moment, then signaled to Ian with his eyes. As if knowing exactly what he meant, Ian silently sat by Vex’s bedside.
Gyosu then picked up the scissors next to him and cut off all of the bandages, then stretched out every inch of his achy body.
‘Hm, I’m fully healed. There won’t be a problem running away then if things go south.’
Leaving behind the researchers who were hurriedly gathering the bandages that fell off his body and putting them in plastic bags, Gyosu approached the Inspection Director.
“Can’t I hear it from the two people behind you? I’m a little more comfortable with them. I’m a patient, so stress is a no-go for me.”
“Hahahah. I’m afraid that will be a little difficult. Both are very able agents and have a promotion ready—”
“P-promotion!? Is that tr—ack!”
“…But, I believe it would be more fitting if I spoke to you myself rather than through my subordinates.”
More fitting, you say. It means he was going to treat me on equal footing with him as a Director. What an honor. It would be rude to turn him down after he said they would treat me like that.
“Well then, off we go.”
Quietly slipping in the scissors that he used to cut off the bandages in his pocket, Gyosu followed the Director out of the room.
“Can I order something expensive?”
“Hahahah. I beg you to refrain. The Dome’s economic conditions have been in shambles as a result of this war.”
“Acting a little cheap for the Dome’s real president.”
“I merely believe I should work harder now that I stand in a higher position.”
“Hahahahah, I don’t know what to say in front of such an honorable person.”
“Hahahahah, you’re too kind. The person who saved the Dome is acting humble.”
Ralph wanted to leave this place right now.
“Please wait a moment. Those two will decide.”
“Yes sir. But that person… He’s him, right? BDSM’s—”
“If you’re working in the Administration Branch’s building… you should know what to remember and what not to, isn’t that so?”
To Ralph’s quiet threat, the café employee let out a small ‘Eep!’ and returned to the counter. He was on alert to the point where his eyeballs felt like they were going to pop out. He was dragged out here just before he died from overworking because of the post-war processing, but what he was brought out to was the meeting between Gyosu Park and the Director, not to mention—
“A caramel macchiato, please! Syrup added to the top! Hey kiddo, do you want something? Aren’t you going to get something mana—ack!”
“Lower your voice, you idiot! Don’t you see the Director talking over there?”
He was with this bastard.
But Ezel, who was grabbed by his collar by Ralph for the second time, only lowered his voice after ordering a carrot cake and a glass of milk in a breathless voice.
“Cough, cough! Manager Mon, aren’t you overreacting a little? Gyosu isn’t that hard of a guy to get along with anyway. Look at the two, they look fine. You’d be able to believe they were on a date.”
“Fine? Easy to get along with? Are you even part of the IB?”
“Ouch! Why’d you hit—aghk!”
“Voice! Please! Dissect those two people’s conversation! Do you even know how many things are being exchanged in those few words?”
Ralph sat Ezel next to him and started to explain to him exactly what was happening between Gyosu and the Director.
“There was a big loss, but the Dome ultimately won. Right? Although there weren’t a lot of tanks that we looted because of Zeus, in the long term, the Raptor’s forces took a big hit with this fight, so that’s an enormous benefit to us. And Gyosu Park specifically pointed out that part and said, ‘Give me money,’ the moment they sat down. And the Director replied, ‘It’s difficult right now because we have places to use it as well’!”
“Uh… weren’t they just talking about the coffee prices?”
“You are…! Did you bribe the professor to pass the exam?”
It was still bearable up until that part, though. From then on, it was the real beginning.
[Acting a little cheap for the Dome’s real president.]
He thought he heard his heart literally drop.
Because a first-class secret just casually slipped out of Gyosu Park’s mouth.
‘The Executive Department’s fall and the Administrative Department’s decline in public stance are due to their passive responses. Realistically, in the current times, where the balance between the three branches has collapsed, the Dome is operating according to the will of the Inspection Bureau. Knowing that, he shot back one more time, saying, [It’s all yours anyway—why not give me a little?], and the Director agreed to that. Mmm… from then on, I couldn’t understand it either.’
A conversation with extremely political overtones. Information that felt like he would get dragged away for ‘knowing too much’ just for listening to it passed between the two within a matter of five seconds after sitting down.
“Hm… Is that so? Well, alright then. Vex is well and alive like that, so we can extenuate the costs a bit.”
“From what I heard from the chairman of the Biotechnology Department, they seemed to have made incredible investments. Apparently he’s well enough to leave the hospital even today.”
“We are… incredibly indebted in that matter.”
“Hahahahah! No, no. According to the eyewitness accounts of those who participated in the battle, your friend also performed outstandingly out there. There’s a video of him that was recorded on the Exosuit’s bodycam, so I recommend you watch it later on. It was an incredibly impressive battle, so we plan to edit it accordingly and post it on the Community.”
Fidgeting with his left hand, Gyosu put aside his light attitude. Now, it was time to get to the main point.
Now, with not a gentle expression but a cold one, Gyosu spoke with a slightly sharp tone.
“So why… are you editing and posting our videos and treating us like heroes?”
“You are heroes, are you not?”
“I mean, I was pretty heroic. But I’m curious about the reason other than that. To be strictly honest, there are dozens of people from the Inspection Bureau who risked their lives fighting with the Raptor too, and isn’t it better for your side to lift them up instead? I would think that raising the Inspection Bureau’s fame would be a much bigger help for seizing power.”
“Because we needed a hero.”
The Director, who wasn’t ‘young’ in contrast to his name, glimpsed at Gyosu’s left hand, which occupied nearly half of the small table they sat at, then said…
“Do you know the reason why people come to the Dome?”
“There definitely are some like that. But that isn’t the case for most. The people that come to the Dome are people who failed to adapt to the Wastelands. Those with weak hearts, still lost in the nostalgia of the past, and willing to accept what seem like unfair standards if it means they are able to live like the past. But a few days ago, the promise the Dome made for unconditional peace was broken. A blackout happened; there was a gunfight within the city; a bombardment outside; Old Picture, who was considered the guardian of Area 47, was on a rampage; and the entire Executive Department turned on the enemy and their building was set on fire.”
Gyosu turned his head when he mentioned the building. It looked like the fire he started in the garage spread up to the building and caused a pretty big fire.
“When their daily pattern broke, uncertainty was seeded into the hearts of the citizens. ‘Is it okay to stay here and work peacefully? Shouldn’t I go out and learn to fight, too?’ and such. Do you know how much the prices for food and guns have jumped in the past week? There was a rumor that all of the crops in the greenhouses went bad, but it turns out that it was a scheme among the officials at the orchards to take the food and vegetables for themselves. We’re in this state only because of this amount of damage. The prices skyrocketed, and productivity dropped.”
“So. The issue that would calm down that unease… was me?”
The Director expressed confirmation to Gyosu’s question.
“It sounds more like a movie plot, doesn’t it? In the moment of a desperate crisis, a man with a large black hand appears and saves the city one-handedly! I thought the agent who briefed me had lost his mind when I first heard this. It’s that unrealistic… and hard to believe.”
‘A movie, hero, and citizens in unease… This guy, he’s slyer than a fox.’
He slowly started to understand how the Director was setting up the picture.
To the normal citizens, he provided a stimulating fantasy. Creating a hero to replace their previous guardian, Old Picture, and make them believe that there is a ‘being with incredible power’.
“That community post… You must have uploaded it under the Dome’s name.”
“We added the logo to it too, so that anyone who sees it knows that it was recorded from the Dome’s perspective.”
And for those who had even a little bit more of a brain, they uploaded a video under the Dome’s name of me, Ian, and Vex showing our epic skills to one, show that the Dome and BDSM were under friendly circumstances, and two, show that the Dome was buddied up with a new force that could compete with the Raptor’s main forces.
‘Without my permission.’
That was the problem. He killed the Executive Department and did have plans to maintain a friendly relationship with the Dome, but not like this. Without telling him even a word, they announced that we’re an ally and such. He’s outright expressing his intention to use us.
‘I acted a little sharp because I had a bad feeling, but I should have mixed in some curses as well. I needed to clearly show him exactly how I accepted the situation.’
I’ll remember this problem for later, when I need to diss the Director. It’s already a done deal, so it’s too late to say something about it now. Alright, so I’m a superstar now. The superhuman that defeated the traitor Executive Department and annihilated the Raptor’s tank army singlehandedly, Gyosu Park.
[Isn’t that technically all true? Woah! Hero!]
‘Don’t say bull like that. You can’t shoot a bullet just by pulling the trigger. The barrel, ammunition, loading handle… It’s only able to shoot because all of the other parts did their jobs. All I did was pull the final trigger.’
Hero treatment—eugh, it’s too corny. I’ll need to treat the dead Inspection Bureau agents to a nice drink sometime. It feels like I stole their honor.
“This… is our position. I heard you signed a research agreement with the Biotechnology Department. If possible, I would like you to deliver the visit schedule through the Inspection Bureau. It takes quite a bit to prepare for parades, you see.”
“I’m going to sneak in over the fence at night.”
“My, we’ll need to strengthen our defenses then.”
Tap, tap, tap, tap.
The Director, who had been leading the conversation with a gentle smile this entire time, thought to himself as he tapped on the table for a moment, then called out to the café employee.
“Espresso, two shots.”
The reason that they came here externally. To have a cup of coffee. The meaning behind it…
‘The conclusion of this conversation. I don’t know the unit, but two shots? It’s more expensive than an Americano, so it should be a big number. Twenty million? Or two hundred million?’
It meant they were going to pay a generous amount of attention to them…
After copying the Director and tapping the table with his left hand and leaving a mark, Gyosu then spoke to the shocked employee next to him.
“Blueberry smoothie. A big one. Wiped clean so there isn’t a single drop of dew.”
“Sorry… but we don’t have that drink on the menu…”
“No, there is.”
‘You don’t have it, but the Director does.’
Playing with the little ball of wood he made from scratching the table, Gyosu smiled brightly at the Director, who seemed a bit stunned.
“I like something more refreshing and sweet than gentle tastes like coffee.”
Looking at how his expression hardened for the first time since they came here, it seemed he understood what he meant.
What Gyosu meant was that he didn’t want Shillings, but cold, hard cash. And among the possessions the Dome had, the only physical assets they had at that price were…
‘Exosuits, or the tanks that they gained from this battle. They can’t hand over the suits because of security reasons. So hand over a tank, ya bastard. I’m going home in a new car.’
“…I’ll discuss this matter with the staff.”
“Please make the decision soon. Since both me and Vex are feeling better, I want to go home.”
Looking at the face of the Director, who was clearly cursing him internally, Gyosu smiled happily.
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