Empery X Couple: Cult Rising

Side Story 1: Erina\'s Origin, 3239 AD

Clyde awoke from his sleep in the new world that he still wasn used to. As he got out of bed, he noticed that he was already dressed up in his SSF uniform. He got out the new phone he got from Crystal and took a look at the ship from a 3D diagram. It had a very special arrowhead design with 3 main thrusters powering the ship and 10 flight decks. It states that it could be used for mass planet bombings or a support role in an invasion. He wanted to look at the weapons systems but he got distracted by a message from his beautiful commander. He opened it, revealing his daily schedule.

”Training two times a day? Is she trying to kill me? ” He pulls out his phone and logs on to unimessenger to complain about the schedule on the ship group chat.

Ice spear crew group chat

Clyde[IS:1205]

Guys, I just got here and my schedule is insane. Training two times a day. I haven even adjusted to life onboard the ship!

soldierboy69[IS:0569]

Bro, imagine complaining about training twice a day. When I was in basic training, it was 3-4 times a day.

captain sam[IS:1009]

Not him complaining about such an easy schedule. When I first arrived on the Ice Spear, we were basically in living hell, you
e lucky you didn have to experience that.

Clyde[IS:1205]

No pity at all? WTF, Its the first day for me.

soldierboy69[IS:0569]

LMAO, first day excuse, I heard that many times before.

captain sam[IS:1009]

Lol, I thought he was gonna complain like a couple days in, but I didn think he would do it day one!

Crystal[IS:commander} has put soldierboy69[IS:0569] and captain sam[IS:1009] on mute for 2 hours

keeper[IS:0934]

If it wasn for the mute, I don think they would have stopped.

Crystal[IS:commander]

Got to say, it started to get annoying, but one thing they have said still holds true. WTF, clyde. Its day one, you haven even attempted the schedule and you
e complaining about it.

keeper[IS:0934]

Smh

Clyde[IS:1205]

Wow, you guys must love targeting me or something.

Clyde put down his phone and rushed down to the training hall and pushed through the heavy door.

”Sorry, Im late to training guys. ”

”I expected more from you, that rant of yours on the groupchat, I guess Ill forgive you and make some changes to the schedule. After all, it is your first day onboard the ship. So, are you ready? Go ahead and do some push ups to warm up. ”

Clyde dropped down and did 25 push-ups.

”Immediately getting the new guy into training, huh? I heard he just got out of the virtual training program and then complained about it. ” whispered a soldier.

”I heard that! ”

”Sorry, commander! ”

”Name, please. It seems you don know your place. I might have to discipline you. ”

The gossiping trainee stands up, and her presence as a newbie vanishes as its overshadowed by an experienced and dignified aura.

”Crystal, Im not a soldier. Im Victoria, commander of Amber Fleet. ”

”Oh, Amber Fleet, huh. Even if your rank is equal to mine, that doesn mean you can just board my ship however you please. Leave now. ”

”Calm down, Im here to report on the invasion preparations, for the commander of the fleets, General Citrus. ”

”Well, tell him its going well. If you have no other business with me, then get out. ”

”Okay, okay, Ill leave. ”

She leaves and shoots Clyde with a wink, who in turns looks at Crystal to see how she thought of it. Crystal on the other side did nothing but stare at her with an aura of flames. She then turns to Clyde.

”Victoria knows you have two training sessions, but she has the nerve to portray you as a slacker in front of everyone. Honestly, she pisses me off. ” Stated Crystal as she left the training hall. Shortly after Clyde receives a message from her on unimessenger, and he opens the chat.

Commander Crystal [Ice Spear]

Crystal

By the way, Clyde, I have some rather big news that you should hear. Please don be alarmed.

Clyde

Hm? Whats this alarming news?

Couldn you tell me in the training hall?

Crystal

I couldn , sorry.

Its just that…

Victoria has joined the group via administrator abilities

Victoria

Finish that sentence, Crystal. Im looking forward to seeing his reaction.

Clyde

Reaction? You two are making me nervous. And how in the world did you enter our DM?

I thought this was a private chat.

Victoria has been banned from the group chat by Crystal

Crystal

Don worry about her.

Shes just nosy.

Clyde

Oh, okay then.

So what exactly is it that you need to tell me?

Crystal

Oh yeah, about that. How do I explain this…?

Be prepared. You and I are legally married.

Clyde

Dhigfjdlefjgijwojfowo

Crystal

??

Clyde

My bad, my fingers went all over the place.

I was thrown off guard.

Anyways, whats with that?

Thats really big news coming from nowhere.

And be prepared for what?

Crystal

Honestly, idk. Perhaps married life?

Clyde

I just woke up yesterday! Im not ready for that level of commitment!

Can you just take things more slowly?

All of this is a lot for me to take in.

Why are we married?

Crystal

True, true, my fault for making you panic. It wasn like you owed child support or anything. lol.

Clyde

Not saying you
e the kind to do that, but if Id imagine a possible reason such as whipping out the divorce papers or taking legal action to make me owe money I don even have.

Crystal

LMAO, that is a scary thought.

But if you
e serious about the divorce thing, I could arrange it.

I mean, it was odd for us to be married despite both of us arriving to this universe just recently.

Clyde

Did the meaning of ”recently ” change while I was asleep?

You already seem to have adjusted to life on the ship as if youve been here for years.

Crystal

Tbh, I have been here for just a day longer than you.

Anyways, lets leave the marriage issue aside for now.

Come to the testing room at room 3012.

I need to do a scan on you.

Clyde

Alright.

But we
e not done talking about this.

Crystal

I bet being in a loving relationship must feel really good.

Clyde

If you want me to find a boyfriend for you, I could just make an Ember account for you.

Im just a humble soldier. You deserve someone more fitting of your rank.

Crystal

I don need your help.

Clyde

Its not like Ill set you up on blind dates with terrible guys.

Then again, I might have enough reason to, what with you springing this marriage on me the day after I wake up.

Crystal

You wouldn dare.

Clyde

You
e right, I wouldn . Thatd be a little cruel even for a prank.

Anyways, Ill set up that account for you if you want me to.

Crystal

Okay then, see ya later. Ill get going to the testing room now so you should as well.

Clyde finds room 3012 and enters the testing room. Crystal directed him to a hollow Cylinder to which he did what he was told and entered the Cylinder. Suddenly, an automated voice from the scanner was audible.

”Scan beginning. ”

Clyde stood in the chamber for about ten minutes as Crystal waited for the results.

”Scanning complete. ”

”Ummm, Clyde? ”

”what? ”

”I don know how to say this, but… Im not detecting any abilities or powers. ”

Clyde took a moment to process those words and stood there dumbstruck.

”…Say what? ”

”You
e basically useless in combat. ”

”Wait, are you for real? Because I feel like I need to get a rescan! You are definitly capping. ”

”Our technology is the most advanced in the world, I find it unlikely for the scanner to fail. Im so sorry… ”

”I need to sit down, there is no way Im just a useless guy without any abilities. I really, really want you to rely on me. ”

”Of course, you
e not useless. Im sure that if we give it some time, youll gain some kind of ability sooner or later. ”

”Thanks, but I think if I do some ”level up ” kind of thing, I should get an ability. ”

”Of course, you go ahead. I have to go attend a meeting. After that, Ill come and train you personally. ”

”Heh, now thats definitely something to look forward to. ” Clyde was indeed happy about her second promise, but he couldn completely hide his disappointment in himself.

”Don get trigger happy. Just remember, Im your commander, not someone the same rank as you. ”

She leaves and Clyde goes to training. I wonder if she likes stronger guys. Perhaps its time to grind and show my true strength.

Meeting Room 3E

”So everyone, how are preparations for attacking the insect planet of Nest, Jean? ”

”Commander Crystal, we have 5 transport ships ready to go, as well as a considerable amount of escort ships. ”

”Any support ships? ”

”Of course, we have more than enough support ships. Lots of cruisers and lots of spacecraft carriers. Victory may as well be served to us on a silver platter. ”

”Jean, I highly recommend taking this seriously. You do realize that if we fail this mission, this fleet will have to disassemble and it will leave our troops homeless and jobless. ”

”Well, maybe you should ask the new guy about this. Maybe he knows the secret strategy behind countless wins and victories. ”

”Maybe he does know, but I highly doubt it. He just came from an MMORPG type virtual training while in cryo-sleep. His memories have returned this morning, so Ill ask him for ideas. ”

”Yeah, you go ahead. Im getting myself some ramen. ”

”Well, we do have a ramen shop onboard the ship. It has better ramen than what the food court serves. ”

”We have a ramen shop? ”

”Of course, It even runs 24/7. ”

”Well, we are a fleet, and we have lots of soldiers on board. ”

”We could get more noodle shops, but the threshold for all of them might surpass our soldier amount. ”

Crystal and Jean noticed their manner of speaking had become more casual once the topic shifted to ramen.

”Ahem. W-well, Ill see what I can do about that. Im leaving now because we have a deadline for the preparations. ”

”Y-yes. Im expecting successful results. ”

Crystal left the room to go find Clyde. During that time, Clyde is training as hard as he can in the training hall. He was training with as much determination as an RPG protagonist. Crystal walks into the room.

”You
e pushing yourself pretty hard compared to the training session this morning, ” Crystal said with a smile, ”Perhaps you have taken interest in me. Well heres my thought on that. Me and you, not possible at all. You
e so weak to the point where I can even protect you. ”

”Ill Improve. Right now Im just trying to see if I have an attribute that makes me different. Im only finding that my reaction speed is just a bit faster than the rest and I can withstand more punches than the rest of them. ”

”So you
e basically a tank without any attack abilities? ”

”Yes, but Im probably just at a low level so it might take a while for me to get the good abilities and buffs. ”

”Levels? Buffs? ”

Clyde got a little embarrassed by his own terminology.

”It, um… helps when I compare these kinds of things to the MMORPGs I play. ”

Crystal couldn help but giggle at this embarrassed side of him.

”Looks like someone spent the last few nights gaming. Anyways, lets continue your training.

She spent a few hours encouraging Clyde during his training. After the training session, she returns to her quarters as Clyde goes to sleep in his room. He lays in bed, and pulls out his phone and logs onto Ember and starts swiping at people for Crystal. Moments later, a more attractive guy named Chris popped up. His description was simple and not a rant about how perfect he was. Thinking of that as a green flag. He swiped right. He entered a chat with him and started to chat.

Chris

Are you a star? Cause you just brightened my day.

Clyde

So… that was a good attempt but Im here finding a partner for my legally married partner

Its hard to explain but I hope you understand.

Chris

So she is available then. Ill take a free shot.

Clyde

Okay, then. I won stop you.

Actually… show me a picture of you, who you really are.

Chris

*sends picture of who he really looks like*

Clyde

ummmmm….

Okay, forget what I said earlier, I won let you have her.

You look so different than in that profile picture.

And I don mean that in a good way.

Chris

…..

Okay… sorry for the deception.

Clyde closed his phone and began thinking and thinking. I can let a guy like him dominate Crystal… How can I do better and Be stronger? This new desire to be with her, I don get it. Its been one day and I have taken interest in her. Perhaps I should just fly aircraft instead of being infantry. No, I have to be stronger as an infantry unit. Its the only way. The next place that the ship is going to, its a beast infested planet, I can use it to train for the attack on Nest.

A week passed. Clyde gathered materials and supplies during the week and now he has prepared to sneak off the ship by activating a skydive platform gate, where a squad would stand before the gates open to drop down into a battlefield. It is currently midnight on the planet Ender, known for its dangerous creatures, and Clyde is prepared for his move. He exited the ship undetected, however he felt the presence of something. He felt as if he was being followed. As soon as he checked the time again, he knew he had no time to waste.

”Im just being paranoid. I gotta hurry. ”

He jumped off the ship and the presence followed as well. Clyde landed on a hill where he made a small base and started to gather materials and supplies. Without him noticing, the unknown figure wandered into the forest.

Day one begins, Clyde Marches into the forest to find creatures to fight and train against. While the figure followed him. Clyde trained for a while when he felt the figures presence. He trained for a little longer while he occasionally glanced behind himself. Clyde trained until he felt satisfied with todays results. He set up camp near his base and slept in his protected tent. Day two begins. This time, Clyde wakes up and gathers materials first thing in the morning, unaware of the presence that watches him from above. He decided that he should aim bigger and hunt a bigger target. It took him half a day to find something worthy of hunting and the other half trying to kill a giant moth that towered over all the other giant insects. Of course, once he shot up the wings, it could not do much but screech loudly and writhe in pain as Clyde claims the kill.

Day 2 ended without any losses.

Day 3 began and Clyde did the usual routine of gathering materials and training. But the sky grayed as the air felt colder. It started only as a drizzle, but it would start pouring very soon. Clyde hurried back from training to take a break due to the downpour but was suddenly confronted by a massive creature with claws bigger than anything claw-like Clyde had seen before in his life. Already having exhausted himself from his training, he could only try to flee from it. But no matter how much he tried to lose this monster, it pursued him so efficiently that ”keeping up ” was an understatement. Clyde was cornered, and the monster attacked with full force.

Clyde managed to block some of the attacks with the average sword he had brought. But due to all the strikes and slashes he has landed over the past few days, the strain was challenged too much for that of a regular iron blade. It broke after another strike from the monster. Without a weapon, Clyde makes his last stand. He shot a flare up into the sky and put up his fists. The claws overpowered his pitiful defense, and every time the claws swing, Clyde takes another severe injury. Miraculously, he still moved enough to avoid the more fatal strikes. The last attack, however, immobilized Clyde and downed him. Clyde couldn do a thing to avoid the final blow.

Clyde looked up at the monster as this unfortunate, gruesome end will be the last thing he ever sees.

”Damn, just about a week in this new world and Im about to die. ”

Crystal appears out of nowhere and impales the large-clawed monster. Without time to waste, she swings a couple more times in a second. She picks up Clyde and distances the monster from themselves in a single jump as Clyde watches a beautiful blood shower spray from all of its vital places. As soon as she carried him back to the camp he set up, she turned and faced him with a disappointed look.

”So, you
e taking an unauthorized vacation, on the worst planet you could be taking a break on. ”

Clyde knew he was at fault but still felt a little salty from how pathetic he mustve looked. So he got a little stubborn with his ”tough guy ” act.

”Its training, not a vacation. Also, how did you find me? I snuck off the ship? ”

”Cameras run 24/7 onboard the ship. You can hide. ”

”Haaah… and I thought I did a pretty good job at sneaking. ”

”You know, just walking up to a diving platform and dropping down is really suspicious. Plus, a human Heat Signature would be done there randomly, specially when its not at an outpost. ”

”Is that an ability of yours? ”

”More like a passive trait that is always on but sure. ”

”Can it be taught to others? ”

”No, and Im not teaching you other abilities for sneaking out. ”

”Aw, man. Well, can say I didn try. ”

”Its a good thing I followed you here. It seems you don understand just how dangerous these planets can be. Going to a planet with murderous creatures without an ability, ALONE, might I add, is just suicide at this point. ”

”S-sorry. But still, you must have a mobility ability for you to sneak around with me without me noticing you, right? ”

”Of course. Its not like you wouldn notice me when Im carrying a whole house with me. This ability makes it possible. ”

”House? ”

”Look up, Clyde. ”

He raised his gaze, and as she said, she was carrying a house on her back.

”How in the world are you carrying a house? ”

”Mobility abilities, I have a lot of those. But it has shrunken down with another ability as well. ”

”Oh. ”

”Also, I came to give you this. ”

Clyde was given a watch. It looked advanced but too exotic to compare to their own technology.

”This will keep track of levels and abilities. Look, you have an ability point to use. Might as well select an ability with it. ”

”Right. ”

He looked at the catalog of abilities available, most were either DPS (damage per second), boost, stamina boost, or attack boost. But one caught his eye.

”So… um, what does this one do? ”

”Class Overdrive? I don actually know. But we can go to the best class ability library after this and we can go search for it in the catalog. Also, speaking of classes, what class are you in? ”

”It says it right here. ”

Clyde pointed toward a label. Normally, the name of the class would show up, along with a short description. But all that could be found was ”??? ”

”Whats this? Is this some kind of unknown class? Or is it that the watchs data is outdated? Well, I haven touched that watch in a year or two, so it could go for an upgrade. ”

”We should, but Im going to get the Class Overdrive ability and go test it out. ”

”Sorry, Clyde but your training session ends now. We are going to attack the insect planet. Maybe youll get a chance to level yourself up then. ”

”Damn. Im a little miffed, but you
e right. Ive had enough training for now anyways. It really hurts to move. So, how are we going to go back to the ship? ”

”Transport vehicle, how else? ”

She aimed a flare gun into the sky and fired. Minutes later, a transport ship came. It had a sort of rocket look mixed with a fighter jet look. The two board the ship and head back. Back on the ship, they prepared to fast travel to the battle location, the insect planet. For more than a week, they prepared themselves and their army for the invasion. They are going to attack a planet full of self-conscious, intelligent insects with an economy, military, and government. Now, the day of the attack has come, and Clyde is stuck on a problem with preparations.

”Crystal. Do we have a fleet name? ” asked Clyde.

”We don , but we can name ourselves at any time we want, ” answered Crystal.

”Are we doing this invasion alone or with another fleet? ”

”Alone, at least that is for what I know. Come and equip your gear. Weve got about two hours before we reach the drop zone. ”

”Two hours? Do we have a cloaking device onboard every ship? Because we have been in the planets orbit for a long time now. ”

”Yes, of course, we do. The likelihood of us beating them in a full battle in near orbit is kinda hard because they also have their orbital gun turrets and on-ground, anti-air guns. ”

”Then doesn that mean we will likely be destroyed as soon as the first group of soldiers drop onto the battlefield? ”

”Well, our fleet really didn get much funding from Emperor. We
e basically an individual fleet that is not serving under any person. Basically, for every planet we capture, we get the cash for it. ”

”But the price of a planet can be different based on its landforms, lifeforms, and minerals. How do they calculate the price of a planet? ”

”I really don know how to answer that one, I guess they have an A.I. do it. ”

”Probably. Also, what gear am I getting to fight with? ”

”Right, about that. You
e not fighting in this battle. Don worry, Im going to be fine without you. ”

”You worded that wrong, I think you should have said, Don worry, Ill be able to fight on my own. ”

”Oh, sorry. I really didn mean to phrase it that way. What I meant is that you don have to worry about me. I can handle this. ”

A voice spoke over the intercom, inviting everyones unease.

”Attention all combat personnel, please report to the drop zone to prepare for battle. ”

”Well, see you later. ”

”Yes. And it will be on the battlefield. ”

”Um, no. Because you
e not strong enough. ”

”But Ill come because Im worried about you. ”

”If you come, you
e only going to make things harder for me. ”

”No, not going to happen. You
e staying on the ship. ”

Clyde left to get ready in his own way, while Crystal got to the drop bay and prepared her and her troops for the battle ahead.

Clyde walked into one of the experiment rooms and asked to participate in any test as he thought it would be a freeway for getting levels. He was given a shot of a mysterious liquid that changed his watchs form. It merged into his arm. Instead of panicking over this abnormality, he took any sign of change as an opportunity at this point. He pulled up his stats without any hesitation, hoping he wouldn face any further disappointment today. Under normal circumstances, he would have found nothing worthy of his notice. But as if his story was now relying on weird miracles out of nowhere, his level was around 100.

”What the hell is this? I mean, Im happy that I leveled up, but this is so shocking that I can even laugh about it! Wait, if I leveled up this much, then for sure, that means that it happened! ”

He took a look at his possible classes. But just like last time he checked, only the unknown class remained. While there was still no description to be found, something new appeared. But it was the only thing he could interact with. The only thing visible was the cost and an option to redeem his points for this unknown class. Because of his massive level, he was loaded with skill points.

Normally, a soldier could use their skill points to select any class within their capability. They would also be able to inherit a random number of random skills that come with the selected class. Since the skills are selected at random, only the talented who are also blessed with good luck become the successful ones.

But in Clydes case, he only had one class that he could select. As if to rub salt in the wound, there was only one ability in this class. So his chances of getting a single decent skill are pretty slim. Or at least it would have under normal circumstances. His disappointment was put on hold when he saw the cost for his only class. It wasn even a fixed number. The text demanded all of his points. Any sane person would refuse after seeing this cost. It could take an average person half of their lifetime to rack up this many skill points. But Clyde was already on the verge of madness after the thought of losing Crystal rammed into his head.

”Any ability… Any ability will do. If this class can give me any ability to fight for the steam empire, to show her that Im not weak at all, Ill gladly throw away all of my skill points to do so! ”

He pressed the redeem button quickly, almost ramming his finger hard enough to cause it to bleed. He looked up at the holographic screen as it processed. The one ability that was awarded to him was the fabled Angel Gear Summon. Clyde took a moment to process what he was seeing. Then as it was the natural thing to do when checking your skills, he referred to the rarity tier chart. But his ability wasn even in a tier. There were millions of abilities, but the majority of them belonged to the bottom tier, so it wouldn surprise him if this ability was so crappy, that they couldn even bother to put it in the tier list.

He smashed his hand repeatedly into the wall until his knuckles started bleeding. All he could do was cry pitifully as he couldn do a thing to assist in the invasion. Crystals crew went in heavily stocked with weapons, so no matter how you look at it, there were going to be casualties. All he could do at this point was obey Crystal and stay on the ship, being crushed by the despair-inducing anxiety, hoping Crystal returns safe and sound. But before he could leave the room, he heard an automated voice.

”Unknown ability found. Immense potential recording start. ”

Normally, this would be the part where any unknown abilities would be tiered based on their potency. A description of the ability would come after it was scanned. Any unknown ability with potency below the minimum range of the bottom tier would trigger the computer to skip this process. However the screen read something unusual.

”ERROR: Potential overload. Please restart the system. ”

Clyde couldn believe what he was hearing. If this ability had a potential so overwhelming, the system couldn record it, then this mustve been his best chance to run into battle. He finally has an efficient ability, a tier above top tier at that. If this was any other day, hed shout ”Thank you, you nonsensical genre! ” But not today, not now. Since the ability couldn be recorded, he could never see a description of Angel Gear Summon. This means hell have to figure it out as he runs into a fatal battle more dangerous than his alien grinding.

Knowing that he sprinted to the drop zone to join up. By the time he got there, it was empty. They had already dropped minutes ago. With his unshakable determination to find Crystal, he jumped off the ship and activated his Angel Gear Summoning ability. He already had a vague idea from the name but was still shocked by the immediate equipment of tech knight armor. After he landed, he carefully examined his appearance.

”This armor seems sturdy, not to mention badass. But no matter how many hits I can endure, it won change the fact that everyone is about an hours walk ahead of him because of their mobility abilities.

”Oh, man. I shouldve thought this through. If I had calmed down for even a second, I would have thought about adjusting the coordinates for the drop zone. All because I got cocky from this Angel Gea… Angel? Now that I think about it, this is the same ability that caused the system to crash. Would a simple defense buff be enough to do that? Of course not, thats stupid. Theres gotta be more to this ability than I thought. Judging by the name, it might as well give me some wings or something. But thats ridiculous… right? ”

Despite the earlier ridicule of his ability, he decided to test it again immediately. He tried getting the same feeling he did when he activated Angel Gear Summoning. But since he wasn falling as he did this time, he was much more composed. A flash of light sprouted from his back and took the form of angelic wings.

”Y-you
e kidding. This ability has more secrets in it? ” Clyde couldn contain his laughter. He leaped into the air to test these wings. He fell hard a few times, but once he got the hang of it, he was able to lazily glide like a bored angel. He started flying at faster speeds to catch up with some soldiers who happened to drop around the time he did.

He flew down to the battlefield, only to find out he was a second too late. He witnessed the horrifying sight of the trainees he was close to getting completely annihilated in midair before they could even land. He knew them for a few years. He trained with them daily, talked to them like they were his closest friends, and was even scolded together with them by Crystal when they slacked off training for a few minutes. And they were gone. Only their charred corpses were blasted to pieces. Clyde, drowning in his emotions, flew to their landing zone in hopes of finding some survivors. But there was no one in sight.

”This can be, Crystal told me there was nothing to worry about! Then whats all this? I feel horrible. I was too late to save my comrades. I feel awful, I feel sick. But I wouldn be able to live if I failed to save anyone at all. ”

Clydes childish refusal to stay on the ship was only to stall time. He was secretly tampering with a tracker. He managed to sneak one onto Crystal while they were still at the beast infested planet.

”This is bad. Even those without good abilities were stacked with weapons. To think something could kill such heavily equipped soldiers in such a brutal way… ”

The closer he got to his destination, the more gruesome carnage he saw.

”Those soldiers were killed the same way. Don tell me that Crystal is where that monster is! ”

He flew too fast and messed up his landing. He stumbled and slid straight to his destination in a painful manner. He immediately searched for Crystal. He started to panic when he couldn find her. The tracker was set to start beeping. He found the audible tracker in a patch of long grass.

”If she did encounter that monster, she could have been blown to bits. But the fact that this tracker is undamaged and intact is proof shes still alive. ”

He began to search for enemy camps and monsters. And there were much more than he expected. He pulled out his laser rifle and burned down as many camps as he could find. The last camp he came across was already muddied in blood and the insides of insects.

”So a group of the SSF managed to pull through. The ambush here took place recently. They shouldn be too far from here. ”

He glided down to group up with them. He landed before he could see them, as he decided that he should keep his ability a secret for now. Before he interacted, he eyed them one by one. But unfortunately, Crystal wasn among them. As he called out to them, the soldiers turned one after the other. The tactician who helped Crystal on her first battle simulation acted first.

”Clyde? Is that really you? ”

”Who are you? ”

”Rize Yuzaki, leader of Scarlet Platoon. I was told by Crystal that you were not authorized to enter the battlefield but whats done is done. I assume youve come to search for the commander? Because the recent rumors suggest that you have taken an interest in her. ”

”Yes, of course. I didn know rumors spread this fast. Anyways, would any of you happen to know where she is? ”

Everyone started mumbling amongst themselves and turned to Clyde, giving him looks of sympathy.

”Whats with you guys? Its not like… like… you know! Please tell me shes alright! ”

Their sympathy was paid back by Clydes eyes filling with despair.

”I don know how to tell you this, but we
e not so sure ourselves. We have our soldiers recording at all times to keep footage of the capture of every planet we invade. There will always be casualties in wars, so we collect any camera from our soldiers who passed… as long as the cameras are still intact. This is one of those. They might not be too much help, but theres some footage of the commander in here. Hopefully, this will be of use to you. ”

Without taking the time to thank her, Clyde snatched the camera and skimmed through the footage until he saw a familiar figure with cyan hair.

”It looks like she was still alive at the time of the footage ”

He let the video play at its normal speed and witnessed the events that she experienced. Crystal and the same group of soldiers were ambushed by the insect forces. In no time after the attack started, she and her forces were surrounded. The soldiers fired non-stop as cover for Crystal to elegantly slice open the enemies vital areas in a few smooth slices from her sword on one hand and shoot them with her sniper rifle on the other hand. But for every insect that was slain, many smaller ones came out in its place.

Soon, the squad was outnumbered. Crystal was outnumbered and started to get pushed back as her squad was obliterated. The bigger monster responsible for those corroded corpses was near. But Clyde couldn see what happened since the man with the camera had his chest sliced open by one of the smaller insects. That was the end of the video.

”Ill save you. Itll be proof of my strength! ” Clyde started to sprint but was stopped by the tactician.

”I cannot let you shorten the time to your demise, Clyde, She wouldn want you to go on a suicide mission. ”

”But you saw what happened in that video! Ive gotta do something before its too late! Ive watched my comrades die in front of me, I don want her to die as well! ”

”Its too dark out right now. Visibility is low. Its hard enough to catch that monster in broad daylight. If we tried to hunt it now, our squad would get wiped out without any moment to retaliate. Its practically suicide at this point. If you still plan to go out in these conditions, I must say that you
e most certainly not in your right mind. ”

”But-! ”

”I understand how you feel, but we have no chance of finding Crystal if we go now! Well set up camp and wait until daybreak. The chances of finding her may be slim then, but it won be zero. ”

”…You
e right. ”

Ultimately persuaded by the tacticians words, he yielded and stuck with the group of soldiers for the night. When he first came to this new world, this new era, sleep has come with a warmer feeling each time. But this time, it came with bitter coldness.

Morning came, but instead of waking up to his alarm ,he woke up to an ear-damaging explosion. A startled Clyde jumped up out of shock and looked up to see an illy-timed enemy attack to take back their base. Which was immediately destroyed with one barrage of the bases cannons. Clyde looked around at his comrades to see they weren as startled as he was. It was as if they were used to these kinds of wake-up calls.

Rize woke up with a yawn and looked at the massive corpse of the insect a few meters away from where she slept. The only reaction that sight netted was an act of indifference.

”Sheesh. I know its all part of the job, but they could at least have the courtesy to let us wake up on the right side of the bed. ”

”You seem to be used to this. That scared the living daylights out of me, ” Clyde remarked.

A soldier approached Rize for some further notice on the fleet currently orbiting the planet.

”Maam, the fleet is on standby. We
e able to communicate in this short window of time. ”

”Thank you, but that will not be necessary. Ive already made arrangements for Clyde. ”

Clyde, who spaced out for a bit, heard his name, bringing him back to reality. He pointed towards himself while looking at Rize as if to ask if she called for him.

”Clyde, Ive set up a contract between you and the ships in orbit. The fleet is preparing to send in reinforcements from the resurrection and remaining fleet ships that were not participating in the attack, but you are now given the authority to help 1command these fine vessels and everyone on them. You also have supreme authority over any remaining squads on this planet. I can tell what, but I know you
e hiding something from us. But it doesn harbor any mutinous intentions, so I will not pry. I assume you
e going to search for Commander Crystal now. This squad has its own mission, and we cannot abandon our duty. But I know you can bring her back. Its not like me to choose emotions over logic when it comes to my methods. But seeing you willing to charge into unknown territory, disregarding your own safety, and thinking only of her wellbeing… fills me with some kind of hope. So please, bring Commander Crystal back. ”

”Yeah… thanks for everything. I may not be as perceptive as you, but even I can tell that Crystal is someone important to you. Though I don know what she thinks of you. Im sure by the end of this, she will think positively about you. ”

With a sense of authority flowing in his footsteps, he gave out some specific orders.

”First off, tell the Elemental fleets to cancel the request for reinforcements. I have some unfinished business. Don ask why, but this is an order. That being said, avoid any battles that you can win. Reinforcements will not come until I find Crystal. And as for you guys and all the other SSF soldiers remaining, You may continue whatever mission is assigned to you after you contact the remaining soldiers and get half of them to search for survivors. And leave the search for Crystal to me. ”

After an exchange of salutes, Clyde ran into the forest and activated his wings out of sight. He rapidly increased his altitude to scour fights.

”The time of the recording was hours ago. Crystal seems to be very strong and has extreme endurance. After all, I experienced that personally. I know that shes probably fighting even now. All I have to do is search for a large number of insect corpses that aren shot full of holes. ”

He flew around searching open areas until he found a pile of dead insects with clean cuts and headshots.

”Yep, those are definitely Crystals trademark kills. ”

He followed the traces of the battle and found three high-ranking soldiers holding their own against an onslaught of insect soldiers. Two of them had outfits that spoke for themselves. They were the Captains. And the third one was the prepossessing commander.

Clyde was right about Crystal holding her own all this time, but she looked pretty drained. And the captains, despite being on their last legs, did all they could to protect their commander. After exhausting them through prolonged battle, they began to swarm the three. Clyde swooped down, pulled out his laser assault rifle, and rapidly fired on all the exposed insects. He landed and ran towards any survivors and slashed their throats the moment they recovered.

”What was that? ” Crystal is in total disbelief.

”That is what I should ask you, what happened to you? ”

”…Clyde? Is that really you…? ”

”Im sorry for disobeying your orders. But Im really glad you
e okay. ”

”You better be sorry! Who told you to come down here in the first place! ”

”My mind told me it was better if I came down here. Especially after I heard that you went M.I.A. ”

”Who told you that? ”

”Rize Yuzaki, Leader of Scarlet Platoon. ”

”That Rize, what was she thinking? I swear, I usually can trust her with general operations. ”

Now that she could think clearly again, she became quite irritated. She grabbed his ear and started pulling it hard.

”But who do you think you are, canceling reinforcements like that, huh? You have ten seconds to explain before I hit you. ”

”Ow! Please stop pulling my ear! Im sorry, alright? I did it because if the enemy saw an increase in our numbers, theyd send more troops to capture you. Surely they know you
e our commander by now. But of course, my main reason is that I couldn stand the sight of those disgusting bugs taking you away from me. ”

The reason was irresponsible but it cheered her up a bit.

”Its a good thing you told the SSF to avoid battles and look for survivors, otherwise more deaths would be on your head, but I don need saving. ”

”What if you did need saving. ”

”That will never happen, and even if it did, Ill save my- ”

Her voice was drowned out by a loud stomp. The very insect monster that was responsible for burning a massive amount of the SSF soldiers reared its hideous face. It took the form of a massive centipede.

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