Chapter 58 – Suicide Unit (1)
It was a common occurrence for soldiers of both private and state armies who have committed a crime to be assigned to dangerous missions to absolve themselves . However, the Demonic Battlefront was unlike other battlefields in the sense that the repercussions were significant and the enemies were existences to be feared . The ratio of deserters was significantly higher than other battlefields which made strict military discipline a requirement . The suicide unit was one of the measures set forth to manage the frontlines of the Demonic Realm .
The soldiers of the frontlines of the Demonic Realm treated being assigned to the suicide unit as a death sentence . It was because the casualty rate was at 90%, but as far as anyone could tell, the 90% was simply an approximation, and the suicide unit almost always met with complete annihilation . As someone that served on the frontlines of the Demonic Realms the longest, there was no way that Sungchul didn’t know of this matter .
“What is the suicide unit?”
He responded to Bertelgia’s question with a brief answer .
“A fish on a chopping block . ”
Sungchul followed the road to the recruitment centre to put in a request as a mercenary . As the battlefront always had a need for soldiers, their background check was considerably loose . The mercenaries that came to the frontlines were almost always criminals or debtors escaping their debts . Being stringent with the check would only reduce the amount of soldiers that were willing to fight on the frontlines .
“What will be your branch of service?”
A recruitment officer with a grotesque scar in the shape of a devil’s claw across his face asked the question with a grave voice .
“Mage . ”
“There are more than a few type of mages… do you specialise in dimensional magic? Supporting magic? Combat specialist?”
“Combat . ”
Sungchul added one more thing .
“Alchemy . ”
“What good is Alchemy… Just forget about that one unless you want to be stuck in a factory pumping out potions . ”
When the military branch was selected, the recruitment officer asked regarding his desired frontline .
“How about the battlefront supervised by the Varan-Aran Tribal Alliance? It’s a good opportunity to get close to some pretty elf women . ”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t get it up . ”
“Oh… that’s quite awful . ”
“I want to go to the Storm Battlefront . ”
“Storm Battlefront… well, it might be better for a man that can’t get it up to end up in a place full of dwarves . ”
The matter got wrapped up at a rapid pace . Sungchul got dispatched to the Storm Battlefront as a mercenary mage . The location that he was dispatched to was a small fortress known as the Black Hills, and it worked out fine since he caused trouble from the very first day he arrived .
“White Phantom! I hereby transfer you to the suicide unit for violence towards a superior officer, insubordination, and destruction of property!”
After the order was passed down, Sungchul had a cloth with the number 34 written on it forcibly attached to his ragged coat .
At Sungchul’s question, the soldier who was sewing it onto him answered curtly .
“What do you mean what is it? It’s your prisoner number . ”
Sungchul was efficiently sent to the suicide unit of the frontlines . It was even decided that he was to be transported by a Griffin . The rider of the Griffin laughed loudly as he dropped Sungchul off .
“This will be your burial grounds . Recruit, it is suitable for idiots like you that fuck up on day 1!”
“I might be back in about two weeks . Let’s see if you’re still alive by then!”
The Griffin blew up a storm as it ascended into the sky and headed north . Sungchul looked around his surroundings . There were several tents that appeared to belong to the suicide unit within the basin area surrounded by hills . Sungchul compared the number of tents with the number of wood-burning stoves to estimate their headcount .
‘Approximately 300 people?’
However, the number was revealed to be closer to 100 members . They told him that they suffered heavy casualties that cost them half of their members in a major battle recently .
The vice-captain of the suicide unit, Genghis Ahron, was a middle-aged man that looked as ferocious and wily as a panther . He appeared as though he could hold his own in a fight, and it reflected his ability . He was a former Swordmaster of the Ancient Kingdom in the ranks of superhuman people who had over 300 points in Strength, Dexterity and Endurance each . However, his nickname within the suicide unit was Rockhead . He was an idiot who couldn’t even manage simple mathematics .
“Welcome . Number 34 . To the Suicide unit that is . ”
He quickly scanned through the documents that Sungchul brought with his eyes before speaking in what sounded like a mutter .
“Now let’s see here… Assault of a superior officer and insubordination… with a bit of property damage for fun? Let me just let you know one thing . ”
Rockhead smirked and pulled out his blade part-way .
The unusual blade wrapped in a violet light revealed itself .
“Insubordination against me means no more neck . ”
“… . ”
When the warning ended, a stumpy dwarf approached Sungchul
“Is the warning done? Number 34?”
It wasn’t an exhibition, but the dwarf was draped in a massive armour that had the number 0 written on a cloth attached to its chest .
“Who might you be?”
“I am the head honcho of the suicide unit, ‘Hell Fist’ Arkaard . ”
Arkaard showed Sungchul the fist that he was so proud of . The steel gauntlet wrapped around his fingers sparkled with the phrase ‘Hell Fist’ .
“However, just call me number 0 . That’s the Suicide unit tradition!”
“Anyways… there are no officers here, commissioned or not . There were both in the past, but they all ate shit during our last battle . ”
“I’m looking for a mercenary mage by the name of Deckard . ”
“Deckard? Ah, are you talking about number 22?”
Arkaard’s face lost composure for a moment .
“Does he happen to be dead?”
Sungchul immediately followed up with another question, but Arkaard shook his head .
“He’s alive . ”
Amazing . Bertelgia shook her body from joy in Sungchul’s stead .
“But, that friend will not live much longer . ”
“Did he receive a critical wound?”
Arkaard shook his head once again .
“No, he continues to volunteer himself to the most dangerous missions . It’s as though he came to this place to die . ”
“I wish to meet him at least once . Where can I find him?”
Arkaard pointed toward a particular tent . It was a cosy tent placed next to a pointed rock that looked like the blade of a spear . Sungchul displayed the appropriate amount of formality before excusing himself and headed towards the tent that Deckard was supposedly residing in .
He could hear the sound of blades clashing and ragged breaths being drawn near the tent . It was the sound of two men sparring . One was wielding a sword while the other wielded a staff, and they were sparring with such intensity as if they were fighting on the battlefield itself .
The one wielding the sword ended in victory, and the one with the staff dropped his weapon and fell onto his butt while sighing loudly .
“Isn’t this enough? Deckard?”
The one wielding the sword asked .
Sungchul’s sights turned towards the man referred to as Deckard . He was well past middle age, but his face still had remnants of the youth of his past . He looked more like Sarasa than Altugius .
The man looked too tired to even lift his own body, yet he called out for another challenge . The one wielding the sword firmly declined .
“I’d rather not exhaust myself before a battle . We never know when we’re going to be sent in, so let’s just call it quits here .
After the spar ended, the onlookers scattered . Sungchul waited for the onlookers to disappear before he approached Deckard standing by himself .
“Are you Deckard?”
Deckard was still breathing quite heavily as he looked up towards Sungchul .
“Who are you? I don’t think I’ve seen you before?”
Sungchul handed him the item he had received from Altugius . Deckard’s face lit up in surprise .
“How did you get a hold of this?”
“Professor Altugius sends me to you . He told me to seek you if I sought to raise my magic power substantially within the shortest amount of time . ”
“Ah, you’ve voluntarily come to the suicide unit for such a purpose?”
“It isn’t the time for me to choose my methods . ”
“Could I take a look at your stats then?”
Sungchul agreed to Deckard’s request . Deckard pulled out a scroll, which he ripped apart, then he looked at Sungchul’s stats . Laughter soon exploded from his mouth .
“Quite the balls on you . I’d rather not say this right off the bat, but isn’t it excessive to come to the frontlines in the Demonic Realm with only that level of stats? If I may be cruelly honest from our first meeting, I think you’ll just drag us down, never mind raising any stats . ”
Deckard harshly criticised Sungchul .
“However, isn’t this place as such that I can return no longer?”
Sungchul had received the order to complete five missions under the suicide unit . If he left the suicide unit before completing this order, he would be considered as a deserter . Sungchul was referring to this fact .
Deckard simply looked indifferent . He put on the shirt dangling under the tent and spoke again .
“The only reason I have come here is to push myself to my limits . It was for the express purpose of cultivating fast growth that I have constantly placed myself in dangerous and difficult-to-overcome situations . Such as the man now called the Enemy of the World had done . ”
Deckard would never know even in his wildest dreams that the man he spoke of as the Enemy of the World was standing right before him . He continued speaking .
“It’s not really a boast, but I have built this body through considerable training to be a powerful mage and warrior . Thanks to this, I was able to preserve at least my life through many dire situations during my missions . How about you? I would imagine it’d be difficult to survive . ”
“If I do survive?”
Sungchul retorted in a calm voice .
“If I do survive, will you impart what you know to me?”
Deckard looked deep into Sungchul’s face, then spoke curtly .
“Rockhead is planning some stupid plan for tomorrow right at this moment . Try and survive that . If you do, I’ll let you in on a quest . ”
The next day .
As Deckard had said, Rockhead gathered all the members of the unit . 80 lifers had gathered excluding the injured . He stood on a podium and spoke in a uselessly heroic voice .
“As you all know, the demon scouts have assaulted a particular guard post affiliated with our Storm Battlefront . That guard post itself doesn’t have much importance, but what matters is its location . Headquarters says that we must recapture that guard post regardless of the costs . ”
Rockhead spoke of his plan next .
“Currently, our numbers are at 83 members . 20 in the north, 20 in the east, 20 in the west, and the final 20 will come with me and attack the fortification from the south . ”
Surprisingly, that was the entire plan . Rockhead didn’t impart any idea on how each designated unit will coordinate with each other or move at all . He only had an attack from every side on his mind .
“If we attack from every side, the demons will not be able to endure it!”
It was truly a thoughtless plan, but no one dared to say another word . The fact that Rockhead was feared for his strength was one thing, but they also knew that he wasn’t a man to be reasoned with .
Rockhead soon divided all of the troops into 4, and the veteran soldiers were designated as the leader of each group . Each group composed of a unit of 20 was given a magic scroll for signalling, and their march towards death began .
Sungchul entered the unit designated as the third group . The strategy went along relatively smoothly, and the suicide unit arrived at the guard post with no major issues . They then encircled the guard post containing the demons .
“Let us go, my fellow brethren of sin!”
Rockhead held his blade up high .
A bluish aura emanated from the violet-tinted blade . It was the speciality of a Sword Master: Sword Aura . He stood at the front to lead the attack .
“Follow me! Let us all be atoned!”
The demons stationed on the guard post were mostly weaklings, and their numbers were few . Rockhead climbed the post wall and climbed onto the watch tower . The demons could do nothing but be helplessly slain by his blade . The guard post was recaptured quite easily . No casualties . It was all over before the eastern and northern soldiers could even begin their attack .
“Isn’t this too easy?”
The veteran soldiers began to feel anxious . The all-important strategic point had been hollowed out with nothing but bait . If the demons intended to defend the guard post, there would be a Balrog at the very least or a Baal-grade demon or two, but only feeble goblins and imps were all that were stationed at the guard post .
The soldiers felt a sense of Deja Vu . The situation unfolding in the current moment seemed extremely similar to the last battle, one where half of the suicide units had fallen in a tragic combat . Finally, a veteran soldier, Arkaard, sent a word to Rockhead .
“Commander, I think the demons gave up the guard post a bit too easily . It reeks of a trap . It might be good to fall back for now, and watch their movements . ”
This head of rock wasn’t one to listen to reason . He instead raged at Arkaard and criticised him .
“What kind of pussy talk is that? Number 0! Can you call yourself a suicide unit member after such talk?”
“But… it just doesn’t feel right . Didn’t we lost half of our unit in a similar fashion last battle?”
Normal people would feel discouraged after experiencing such utter defeat, but Rockhead wasn’t as such . He spoke boldly without a hint of shame on his face .
“Even if this was the trap of those demons, we must hold our ground!”
He dug into his position further by gathering the soldiers and relaying a speech in a heroic voice once more .
“Our mission is to secure the guard post until the main forces arrive . The first stage has been completed successfully . All that is left is to hold this guard post until our lives are spent . Hold your grounds, my brothers!”
Deckard who heard the speech let out a frosty retort .
“I don’t recall having such a brother . ”
Sungchul was in agreement too, and soon the gut feeling became a reality . Five soldiers deserted . One of the deserters were caught by Rockhead and hung as an example, but that was only the beginning . When the sun fell, signs of demons began to appear from all over .
“Objects suspected to be Hell Siege Engines detected! Approaching from the north!”
“A swarm of imps suspected in the hundreds climbing the mountain ridge and approaching from the west . ”
“One Balrog confirmed! More than two Baal-grades approaching as well . ”
When the darkness fell, the Suicide unit composed of 80 members were surrounded by devils and demonfolk in the thousands .
“Didn’t I say so? It’s not so easy surviving in this place . ”
Deckard spoke in a silence appropriate for the Storm Battlefront after approaching Sungchul . He handed Sungchul a single scroll . It was a long-distance teleportation scroll .
“If you rip this scroll, you’ll be teleported to the orange-tinted mountaintop that is the suicide unit headquarters . ”
“Why are you giving this to me?”
Sungchul bluntly threw out his question . Deckard simply scratched his head .
“You seem to have Alchemist within your classes . If the situation seems disadvantageous just rip the scroll and bow down to the Storm Battlefront liaison and beg for forgiveness . In exchange for being pulled out of the suicide unit, you can receive a pardon through slave labour in a potion factory . Isn’t it better working to the bone for two years than dying?”
It appeared as though Deckard had been giving Sungchul a lot of consideration . However, his concerns were misplaced . Sungchul returned the scroll and asked another question in a calm voice .
“The promise from before . Is it still valid?”
Deckard only smiled bitterly .
“It’s valid . ”
Deckard let out a sigh before leaving Sungchul . Not long after he left, the sound of drumming could be heard . It was the drums of the demonfolk . The shrill sound of a bone horn followed soon after that, sharply tearing through the air . The demonic forces were soon set to attack .