“First-aid box, checked; Whetstone, checked; Spare clothes, checked…”
Not only was Ralph the earthling counting the items on the table, but he was also checking the functionality of them.
Just when Ralph was ready to go through the third inspection, quick knocks on his door stopped him. At the doorstep, there was a short-haired woman.
“Ralph, why are you still in your room? It’s almost time to go.”
“Schnauzer, it’s my first battle. I must be extra careful,” Ralph answered sternly, and he continued the inspection. At this moment, another lady walked in and held his hand.
“Haha. Ralph is still over-cautious as always. Relax. I’m coming with you,” said Aurora with a confident smile.
“Right. Aurora is an earthing born in the first batch. She’s very experienced in battles. Just put your faith in her. Besides, you still have me and the other earthlings.”
Schnauzer wrapped her arm around Aurora’s shoulder when she was talking. The smile on their faces had displayed the trust they had in each other.
“Alright, I hear you.”
Ralph was obviously talking in trance, drifting his gaze to the back of Schnauzer and Aurora, who came to notice his strange behavior.
“Don’t bother to peep. Elpis is not with us. She would meet us at the meeting point,” said Schnauzer.
“Oh, is that it...Ouch!”
Flickered by Aurora in the forehead, Ralph looked at her in confusion.
“Get rid of that look in front of the Eldus, or you’ll end up in the rehabilitation room again,” Aurora reminded Ralph.
“Huh? What look?”
“So you really don’t know…” Schnauzer heaved a sigh and continued, “that’s the look of obsession.”
“Ralph, we’re still earthlings even though we’re in the combat division. You can’t have unnecessary feelings towards another earthling. You hear me?” Aurora lectured with her arms crossed.
Ralph nodded in dejection; When the three arrived at the lounge, Shamash the Eldus stepped onto the stage and looked down at the crowd of earthlings.
“Since the Minerelves have refused to sign treaty with us, we’ll show them the consequences of defying me.”
There was a kind of bloodlust sparkling in Shamash’s eyes when she was giving her speech.
“Annihilate them. That’s the order. Copy?”
All the earthlings knelt down with their arms crossed above their chests, except for Schnauzer. Instead of obeying, she asked Shamash, “Lady Shamash, please forgive my rudeness. Despite the fact that the Minerelves turned down the offer, why should we attack them when they’re not hostile——”
A water arrow scratched Schnauzer’s cheek to bleed.
“I can’t recall that I've given you the permission to speak, earthling Schnauzer.”
The exquisite face of Shamash frowned, exuding with a terrifying aura. Some of the earthlings were quivering out of fear; Some were already scared to cry.
When Schnauzer was about to ask again, Aurora cut in, “Lady Shamash was right. Those inferior elves have overestimated themselves. An unforgettable lesson is what they needed.”
Shamash didn’t speak until she had stared at Aurora and Schnauzer for a while.
She left after leaving the command.
“Phew...Great. They’re alright,” Ralph thought as he relieved, releasing the clenching fists. He was already prepared to die protecting Aurora and Schnauzer if Shamash had decided to punish them.
Later on, Shamash led the earthlings to the forest in the north, a place near the Minerelves’ habitat.
“Mana the holiness, please grant us your strength and let our names spread,” Shamash prayed as she looked at the earthlings.
Shamash’s prayer had gathered a hue of mana in the air. Next second, the hue fell onto all the present earthlings, including Ralph.
“The energy is surging inside me...Ah...This is how our master’s blessing feels like…” Ralph was amazed by this miracle.
What he didn’t know was that it wasn’t a blessing at all. Shamash was merely enhancing their power with spells, which actually costed the vitality of the earthlings.
To earn Shamash’s trust and compliment, the earthlings ran into the forest immediately after gaining power. Very soon, the forest was occupied by slaughters and the screams of Minerelves. No matter how hard they had screamed, nothing could stop the carnage.
As the fire-red mana fused with Ralph, his body became translucent as glass. He threw a punch to unleash a fireball, igniting the shrubs on fire. As the elves were forced out of hiding, they fled in panic as soon as they saw Ralph.
“He’s...badly injured and harmless. Just let him go,” Ralph thought as he was too soft to kill a weak elf, but it wasn’t his choice to make.
“Hunt them down,” Shamash came over and ordered.
It didn’t take Ralph too long to pursue the heavily wounded elves.
“Please...Mercy…” the elves begged.
“...I’m sorry…” Ralph conjured mana to blast a fireball at the elves——
Sizzle——Hot vapour erupted out of nowhere, forcing Ralph to step back.
“You’re...a machina!” Ralph was shocked when he got a clear image of the figure blocking the elves away from him.
“Beta! You’re here to save us...Boohoo…” The elves went over to Beta the masculine machina gladly.
“Don’t go over! You’re fooled by the machinas. The Eldus only want to sign a peace treaty to protect you——” Ralph was trying to stop the elves but his speech was interrupted.
“Treaty? Cut that crap. What kind of a peace treaty requires offerings of a thousand minerelves every year to help you forge weapons?” Beta sneered, “Don’t you feel ashamed of what you said? You were literally killing them a moment ago.”
“Huh? I...I didn’t know that...And I don’t wanna do so either, but I have to follow master’s order!”
“Can’t you think before you follow orders? Does that mean you’ll go to die when they tell you to?”
“...Yes, because they gave me life. It’s also theirs to decide.”
“ARGHHH! How stubborn can you earthling be! I’m so sick of this...Alpha!”
As Beta called, another masculine machina jumped out of the bushes, blocking Ralph’s six o’clock.
“Catch him! I need to take him back to Mech City and lecture him properly,” said Beta.
“Ugh...Things are getting trouble…” Alpha posed for battle reluctantly, getting ready to subdue Ralph.
All of a sudden, an uninvited guest raided from the sky and rescued Ralph, leaving Beta and Alpha in shock.
“Elpis!” Ralph shouted as he lifted his head, looking at the young female earthling Elpis who was flying with the control in air currents.
“Phew, right on time!” Elpis continued with a sweet smile, “Machina has arrived to back the elves, so Lady Shamash ordered us to retreat. It anxioused me when I saw you cornered by the Machinas on the way back. I’m so glad that you’re safe in one piece.”
Ralph felt like his heart had skipped a beat when he saw Elpis smile. With his heart racing, he let himself indulge in this moment of happiness.
Yet happiness never lasted long.
The trip back to the base was short. When the two earthlings were walking, Ralph found a bleeding wound on Elpis’s arm.
“Huh? Elpis is injured…” Ralph felt guilty when he found the wound on her. “It must have been a cut by the leaves when she was trying to save me back then...It’s my fault…”
“Elpis, your arm is hurt. Let me——”
The moment when Elpis saw the presence of Enkidu the male Eldus, all her attention was caught on him. She ditched Ralph to throw herself into Enkidu’s embrace.
Instead of feeling annoyed, Enkidu pampered Elpis by rubbing her hair. There was an uninterruptible atmosphere around them.
“I mean nothing to Elpis…”
Bang! The noise behind Ralph disturbed his thought. Turning around, he saw the injured Schnauzer and the unconscious Aurora.
“What happened to you two?” Ralph went over as fast as he could to help.
“Why...What’s the purpose in these meaningless battles...Why do we have to fight at the cost of our lives…” Schnauzer murmured.
“Schnauzer...What are you talking about?”
“...Nothing, Ralph. Just forget what I said. I was just exhausted...I’ll take Aurora to the medic station,” said Schnauzer, carrying Aurora on her back. However, there wasn’t even a hint of exhaustion could be found in her blazing gaze...