Chapter 588. Two Wars (6)
"Indeed. Is an old eagle better than a young crow?"
If he had been hit by that attack without any preparation, he could have suffered fatal damage. The Heavenly Demon acknowledged that fact.
‘But it's a meaningless “if.”’
His demonic energy was compressed and compressed again, reaching a level that could rival that of a demon's. When his life was deemed in danger, his automatic defensive aura would activate just like it had moments ago.
‘Perhaps if it had been Specter’s Watchguard of Darkness instead… There is no way mere bullets can penetrate it.’
The Heavenly Demon pondered for a moment. Could Gilberto Trashcan Green kill him? The conclusion came straight away.
He judged that it was absolutely impossible. After reaching his conclusion, the Heavenly Demon immediately reached out his hand toward the generator.
He frowned as his hand was about to be burned from the heat. Then, his demon characteristic, the Mimic's Gluttony, began to greedily absorb the Force from the power plant.
The Heavenly Demon's body trembled. A thrill ran through him from his toes to the top of his head. It was a gratifying feeling that made him feel alive. It was a different sensation from when he absorbed the neigong chips on the fifth floor.
‘Back then, I stuffed the overflowing magical power in my mouth just to absorb a little more…’
But now, it was different. He felt like a connoisseur visiting a high-class restaurant, elegantly savoring the deep and rich taste of the Force. The Heavenly Demon was completely immersed in the bliss of the moment. Right now, he didn't want to be disturbed by anyone.
"Damn it! We’re getting pushed on the left!"
"Leave it to us!"
"Push the center! Push harder!"
Players and Failures gathered together, pushing back the Overmind legion. Their desperate cries even reached Gilberto, who stood on the watchtower.
Unfortunately, he didn't have the luxury of helping them. While scouting the power plant, he accidentally discovered the Heavenly Demon as the latter was approaching the generator.
‘We need to be particularly cautious of the Heavenly Demon.’
He possessed the ability to absorb the power of others. He wouldn't have entered the power plant without any purpose.
The moment Gilberto found him, he instinctively realized it.
‘Is he trying to absorb the Force here?’
Just imagining that future made him tremble with fear. The amount of Force here far surpassed the neigong chips that the Heavenly Demon had absorbed on the fifth floor.
"If the Heavenly Demon were to absorb all that Force..."
It would be a catastrophic disaster. Not only would the clearing of the seventh floor be compromised, but it would also become a calamity that blocked the path of Players.
‘I have to stop him.’
Gilberto Green immediately sniped the Heavenly Demon.
‘A defensive barrier... Is it similar to Skaya's?’
No, it was a little different. Skaya usually deployed dozens of layers of defensive barriers, but this guy had only one layer.
‘However, it's much stronger than Skaya's.’
As Gilberto reflected, the Heavenly Demon reached out with his hand toward the generator.
At the same time, the light from the lamp hanging on the watchtower flickered several times.
‘Is he in the middle of absorption?’
He was simply ignoring Gilberto's existence. But instead of feeling upset, impatience welled up within him.
"Particle deployment. Construction in progress."
The weapon had already completed its structural registration and feasibility verification. It was a railgun, the powerful weapon that he had used against Isaac Dvor, who toyed with one of the Nine Heavens as if they were a child.
‘If it’s this, then even him…’
Gilberto pointed the gun at the Heavenly Demon and pulled the trigger.
A loud explosion occurred, but looking at the aftermath, he felt like cursing rather than cheering.
The Heavenly Demon was fine. He even continued to absorb without even giving Gilberto a glance. His attitude screamed that Gilberto was a negligible existence.
‘… Just shrouding himself with demonic energy makes him that strong?'
With this power, Gilberto thought he could proudly stand next to Seo Jun-Ho and his friends.
How could he be so damn conceited? Whether it was Seo Jun-Ho's Watchguard of Darkness, Skaya's Destructive Ray, Rahmadat's power, or Mio's blade, he was sure any of them could break through that barrier that protected Heavenly Demon. One way or another, they would have made the Heavenly Demon look at them.
If he wanted to stand by them as comrades, not just friends, he had to be able to do the same.
‘What weapon is stronger than a sniper or a rail gun?’
His thoughts became complicated. Nuclear? Could he make a nuclear weapon from ether?
"Particle deployment, structural registration… Damn it."
He failed. In the first place, it was impossible to imitate an atomic explosion with ether.
"Then a stronger weapon...”
Gilberto trailed off. Then, he closed his eyes.
It was a rebuke to himself.
‘After gaining power that I never hoped for, all I’m doing is rely on it for everything.’
It wasn't really his personal ability that had killed Isaac Dvor. Just a new power called ‘ether’ that had allowed him to create the railgun. It was only the result of relying on the overwhelming output of this power.
‘This is no different from the people I used to think of as fools.’
Those who forget the most basic things after getting drunk on power made the mistake of confusing that power for one’s own ability.
Gilberto hit himself in the face with both hands. As he suddenly came to his senses, Seo Jun-Ho's advice came to mind.
- Wow, 300 times? But it didn't work out?
- Then do it 500 times.
- If that's not enough? Then do it 1000 times.
‘If that's not enough, bounce it 100 times.’
That was the advice given to him when he was on the fourth floor, dealing with the Seo Jun-Ho difficulty.
‘... Don't doubt yourself.’
Ether was not a power that he could rely on and be complacent; it was a weapon that he had to control. What he could trust was not the new weapon he had gained, but the path he had always walked.
As Gilberto slowly opened his eyes, his gaze showed no sign of wavering.
"Structural registration, feasibility verification."
Authorization for construction.
After confirming the results, Gilberto poured all the ether into making it. What appeared before him was astonishingly not a gun.
The new products of his imagination filled the high sky, shining like stars. Well, rather than saying they were shining, it was more accurate to say they were reflecting light—they were disc-shaped reflectors.
Gilberto took out a revolver from his inventory. It was a small single-handed weapon, the Repeating Covenant Revolver. Using this revolver was basically shooting oneself in the foot at the same time as shooting the enemy, as it drained the user's magic, mental power, and stamina to create bullets.
Every time something bounced off the special reflector, its destructive power, penetration, and speed doubled.
He wasn't sure. He still didn't know. Was it the right choice to invest all the ether into a thousand mirror-like reflectors?
"But it doesn’t matter."
There was one thing he knew. Even if this attack failed and he lost his life to the Heavenly Demon…there would be no regrets. Because this was who he was.
He was Gilberto Green, the hard worker who had given his all to come this far.
He gazed at the thousand reflectors floating gracefully in the night sky of the power plant.
Exhaling a trembling breath, he aimed the gun at the night sky, and his eyes focused on the thousand reflectors.
He thought about which reflector to hit first. He thought about which trajectory to shoot so that he could connect all those stars and create 999 lines.
No, on second thought…thinking was meaningless.
‘I'm not Skaya.’
He didn't have a brain brilliant enough to calculate such things at a glance. What he needed now was the experience and instinct honed by pulling the trigger countless times.
Suddenly, a little gasp escaped his lips, though he did not realize it. It felt as if he had become one with those stars.
Had he pulled the trigger?
As he felt his strength leaving his body, the Repeating Covenant Revolver spewed out light. The light reached the stars in an instant, bouncing between them.
Now everything was out of his hands. Gilberto silently watched the light. With each connection between the stars, the light he had shot became even more intense. With each new star, its power and brilliance increased.
Even in slow motion, that light lost none of its brightness.
‘...Is this what you really are?’
His skill was so fast that he hadn't even seen its true form yet, nor been able to give it a name. But now, it was clear. He wasn’t confident in his vocabulary skills, but one phrase instantly struck him as the right one.
A sharp beam of light cut through the night sky, heading unswervingly toward its target. At that moment, the whole night sky seemed to revolve around that single line.
"That name suits you better than anything else."
As if answering its call, the relentlessly approaching Shooting Star finally struck the thousandth reflector and fell to the ground.
The Heavenly Demon raised his head as an unknown sense of danger struck him. At the same time, a ridiculous amount of demonic energy swirled around before he could even think about it, coalescing into several layers of barrier around him.
It went through. The light went through that neigh-impenetrable defensive aura as if it were made of paper.
It was an unwanted ending for the Heavenly Demon. It was an unexpected ending.
The Heavenly Demon could only utter a single word in surprise before the falling star hit him in the head.
The densely packed generators in the area were replaced by a giant crater, as if a meteor had truly fallen from the sky. Naturally, the power plant was destroyed, releasing an enormous mass of Force into the world.
‘It feels like I'm absorbing ether just by breathing.’
Gilberto carefully gathered the energy while taking slow steps. In the center of the crater, there were puddles of blood and some torn fabric.
"... Did he still have enough strength to move after taking that attack?"
Gilberto let out a low groan. In his heart, he wanted to keep pursuing the Heavenly Demon, but his own physical condition wasn't all that good either.
‘I don’t have any magic left after using the Repeating Covenant Revolver.’
Both his stamina and strength were at their limit. Gilberto put down his gun and let out a sigh.
"... Well, at least I managed to stop him."
He had prevented the Heavenly Demon from absorbing all the Force from the power plant. That alone was a significant accomplishment.
‘Although I lost him.’
Gilberto sat down on the floor, feeling a bit frustrated. The Force released when the power plant was destroyed was truly enormous. Since he was here anyway, he had to absorb that Force and expand his ether capacity.
‘The Heavenly Demon…’
Although he regretted missing the opportunity, the situation was still fortunate. If he had faced the Heavenly Demon head-on, he would have been defeated without a shadow of a doubt. There was no scenario where he could win against such an opponent.
‘His arrogance was his undoing.’
Gilberto let out a sigh filled with mixed feelings. However, something in the back of his mind kept nagging him.
‘... What is it?’
Thinking hard about what it could be, Gilberto got up.
Gilberto dragged his screaming body and moved around the crater.
‘It's not here.’
He couldn't find it. The Church of the Sun’s holy relic, which was presumed to be the fundamental reason why Overminds could convert magic into Force.
"... Where’s the damn Holy Sword?"
It wasn't hard to guess who had it now.
Gilberto's expression was twisted. A bitter wind blew, caressing the face of the sniper—the only being left among the ruins.