Chapter 26 - The looming threat
So, last night was different to say the least, as I found myself getting some sleep later than usual. The food and...everything else hit the spot, taking my mind off the many thoughts constantly clashing in my head. A hunter's stamina was nothing to laugh at
I went out of the room early in the morning to walk around the living quarters and observe the compound a bit more. Even though it was this early, there was already bustling activities with people and trucks moving about
I enjoyed the cool morning air and looked towards the huge monolith a distance away, itching to go towards it and give it a go, but I calmed myself down and walked back to the living quarters. Someone quickly called out my name, it was Commander Kyle saying that the Vice Admiral was looking for me. I nodded at him to lead the way and found myself led into an office room that had an abundant amount of folders and papers lying around
"I apologize for the mess, please have a seat" The imposing Vice Admiral has his usual air of confidence as I sat down opposite him
I didn't waste any time as I asked the thing that was heavily weighing on my mind. Magnar paused for a second before pulling out a red folder and laying out multiple photos across the table
"These are aerial pictures of The Barrens quite a distance away from the Empire. They were taken over a span of a few weeks"
The pictures showed a terrifying sight of small dark dots that were uncountable, and large mass that could clearly be seen in the middle of it all. The large mass had a patterned obsidian shell that covered its entirety, only having a large head with pointed horns come out in the front
The pictures gave me a shock because these things were probably even bigger than they appeared on there. The rest of the pictures showed a similar scene, making me prompt the general to continue as I didn't grasp everything yet
"These pictures were taken at a different location each time. They are moving"
The Vice Admiral had a cold expression as he looked at the pictures and said this. My mind was moving to keep up as I took all of this in and asked him "How long do we have?"
Magnar looked at me with a difficult expression before sighing "That's the problem, we don't know. It could be in a few weeks or a month, but we cannot correctly track them because of their unpredictability."
A few weeks? Possibly a month? Phew, I let out a relieved sigh as I heard and laughed out loud, startling the man before me. I looked towards him and said "If it is a few weeks, then we have more than enough time to prepare"
I knew myself, and it was why I said this. Barely a week after I awakened and I was already standing in a position to hear information that many people had no idea about. If I was given another week or two? I was confident in getting much stronger than where I am right now. The question is, what strength will be enough to contend with the huge beast and the things it was bringing this way?
I asked the Vice Admiral whether they were confident in pushing these monsters back and his reply was less than favorable, adopting a dark expression that contained a trace of anger. He spent the next two minutes ranting about how they were not fully prepared, but the people at the top were still hesitant to institute measures to prepare for what was coming
The cities in the outer periphery of the Empire had to start the process of migrating soon, or the military needed to increase and institute its main defenses past those cities and prepare for the fight that was coming. Otherwise, a tremendous amount of people would be sacrificed for nothing
I listen to this as my mind went back to all the cities I passed when coming here, and one of the cities at the outermost of the Empire, Outer Bank X.
My gaze turned cold when I looked back at the Vice Admiral. He saw my eyes and then said "I've already rallied the relevant people though. Even though there is still some push back, we have already begun the process of moving supplies and equipment to the front lines of defense in the outer perimeters"
He continued when he saw my gaze calming down "While this will be an ongoing process to fortify our defenses on the border, we also need Hunters to lend their help in diving into dungeons and bringing out as many resources as possible. [Core]s, [Item]s, [Skill Book]s, they will all go towards the awakened soldiers that will be giving up their lives to fight on the front line"
He finished with a sad expression as he mentioned the people that would be the first line of contact between us and monsters. I thought about all this and asked how they were doing things currently
"We have 3 teams of 6 rank B Hunters alternating like clockwork to clear the rank B dungeon, [Mangrove Swamp]. The three teams are able to clear the dungeon 3 times a day and have a rest period in between, with other similar teams acting the same manner in nearby cities, but we don't know if it'll be enough." He looked at me as he said the next words
"That's where people like you come in. I haven't met any rank B hunters that have been able to dive alone into a rank C dungeon repeatedly, so your power should be among the highest. I would love your cooperation to hasten this process with one of the teams we have clearing [Mangrove Swamp]" He said these words carefully while watching my face
I thought over everything and the amount of time we possibly had before nodding my head. "When is the next team diving?"
A relieved expression appeared on his face as he told me the next team was going in within an hour.
We then discussed how the resources were split up between the hunter teams diving in [Mangrove Swamp]. The military would pay handsomely for all the [Core]s, [Item]s, and [Skill]s they received while providing for all their needs. If you became a hunter enlisted in the military, you would be given a rank with even more benefits
I thought about everything and decided to go with the plan of seeing the [Mangrove Swamp] while diving with a team. I would decide how to move forward from there. The talk with the Vice Admiral finished on a happy note, with him leading me to personally meet the rank B hunting squad I would be joining today
Half the group had already gotten together and I got the chance to meet the first genuine rank B hunters. Their mannerisms were a notch above other hunters and their bodies seemed packed with power than could explode at any moment. These were rank B Hunters that could bring their attributes all the way to 250. When paired up with corresponding skills, it was a deadly force to behold
The first 3 that I met were 2 Berserkers, one holding a broad sword that was just as tall as him and the other holding long blades on either side of him. The third one was a short woman that was about 4'1 in height, and she was surprisingly the Knight of the team. The power emanating from her in no way matched her stature as a huge tower shield larger than her was strapped to her back
I got acquainted with the three while the rest of the team came in. They were all relatively polite with a mild interest in their eyes when we were talking, with the only one different being the short woman who went by the name Lana Stone. She was staring at me with eyes that blazed with fire as she showed much more interest than the others
The remaining team members were 2 mages, a man and a woman dressed in long purple robes with long staffs sparkling with ice elements. The last one was another Knight, this one with a round golden shield covering half of his body and a flail on his other hand
More introductions followed and the 6 usual rank B hunters that were about to dive into the [Mangrove Swamp] were joined by me.