Chapter 5: Gotta Expect a Terrorist Incident on the Academy Admission Train (III)
Igorovich Station is a small, tranquil rural stop situated in a humble village, playing a role no more significant than the Krasilov-Drovian border checkpoint.
Consequently, the passengers disembarking at this station are limited to village residents and logistics distributors – no one else.
“There’s something suspicious about them.”
Three men in one corner of the station appear to be rather dubious.
Firstly, a man in the waiting room corner is seen glancing at the clock and newspaper.
At first glance, it seems like he’s checking the train schedule, but in reality, he’s already seen off three trains.
Next, a man with crossed arms, seemingly dozing off.
Although he appears to be passing time as usual, he subtly opens his eyes whenever someone heads to the restroom or the newspaper stand.
Lastly, a man selling dried vegetables in the waiting room corner.
It’s almost comical. He hasn’t sold any vegetables to anyone in the waiting room – who would even buy vegetables at such a remote rural station in the first place?
Crucially, as a peasant himself, Ivan knew the condition of those vegetables. They weren’t dried for preservation but left unattended for too long, causing them to wither.
Beneath the newspaper, Ivan moved his hand, gripping a gun. It’s 9 o’clock, and the train carrying Princess Ecdysis is about to arrive.
Perhaps it’s worth investigating.
He stood up slowly, folded the newspaper, and headed for the trash can. In the process, he discreetly pressed the gun’s muzzle against the dozing man’s neck.
Shocked, the man attempted to reach for his chest but froze at the cold touch of the gun’s muzzle.
Okay. Confirmed he has a pistol there.
Judging by his instantaneous reaction, he’s trained.
“W-What the hell are you doing there?”
The other two in the waiting room shouted simultaneously, jumping to their feet.
This was absurd. The gun Ivan pointed at him was concealed by the newspaper, making it appear from the outside as if he had just placed his hand on the man’s neck.
In other words, the three of them were colluding.
But just to be certain.
He mentioned not needing support himself, but maybe Elizaveta is sending agents.
“Where do your loyalties lie?”
If this person is indeed an agent of Elizaveta and loyal to the Krasilov royal family, there is no way he could have interrupted this sentence.
This is not only the Cleanup Unit but also one of the first questions posed by national intelligence officers.
It’s like frontline soldiers saying, ‘Halt! If you move, we will shoot!’ Even if it’s a lie, it’s the initial and perhaps the ultimate question that must be answered at all costs.
It’s the first and probably the last question you have to answer, even if you have to lie.
So, this guy acted for money, a mere mercenary.
A bullet flew from the muzzle, instantly severing the man’s cervical spine.
The man in Ivan’s grasp crumbled without a single response.
“Shoot! Shoot that guy!!”
The vegetable seller and the man reading the newspaper hastily stood up, drawing guns from their chests.
This indicates several things.
Firstly, they’re in cahoots.
Secondly, they are amateurish.
Thirdly, they are not affiliated with the Krasilov monarchy.
Lastly, they have never faced a true adversary.
– Bang! Bang!
Instinctively fired shots grazed Ivan’s shoulder and whizzed by his head.
They seem good at aiming, but their lack of ‘line of fire detection’ shows they’re really cheap mercenaries.
As they readjusted to shoot again, Ivan was already swinging an axe toward the vegetable seller and aiming a gun at the man reading the newspaper.
The man, with both wrists severed, let out a horrifying scream as he collapsed, while the man with a bullet precisely lodged in his forehead couldn’t even scream.
Ivan wiped the bloodied axe on the fallen vegetable seller’s coat as he approached.
“Are you the only ones?”
“Ugh… where did this monster come from…?”
Ivan momentarily tilted his head, questioning the term.
A monster? For just this level?
The words they spat out, trying to antagonize the warrior Einar, seem utterly absurd.
If Einar had been here in person, there wouldn’t have been any combat. That lunatic would have already decimated the waiting room.
“Oh, this, this wasn’t supposed to… wasn’t supposed to be…!”
The bleeding is severe. Without proper hemostasis after severing the radial and ulnar arteries at the wrist, death within 5 minutes is inevitable. With both hands severed, it’s even worse.
The vegetable seller, already pale and trembling, shook his chin.
Ivan sighed and rummaged through the man’s belongings. No ID, a few Eastern coins, a tattered pocket, and a strange small device with odd buttons. Faint magical aura, perhaps a signal device.
“You’ll die within 3 minutes if I don’t stop the bleeding. Where are the others?”
“T-They’re by the railway tracks…”
“Fifteen… You, you can’t, can’t do anything…! I’ll, I’ll help you! S-Save me! They’re all armed, and our leader, he’s a real monster!! If you save me, I-I’ll distract them!!”
The vegetable seller screamed in a trembling voice. Wanting to live is natural. Anyone watching blood flow profusely in real-time would panic.
Ivan nodded. The vegetable seller’s complexion noticeably brightened.
“You were left behind to signal the ‘leader’ in the event of any other changes. You three are the scouts.”
“Y-Yeah! I’m really useful!”
This guy was unaware of ‘line of fire detection.’ So, their leader was likely at that level too.
“Have you heard what’s on the train?”
“It’s a bullion train….! They said it’s a trade goods train sent by Drovian to Krasilov!”
“You’re, you’re going to spare me, right? I answered all your questions! I didn’t lie!!”
“No, there were lies mixed in.”
“No! It’s not true!!”
Ivan coolly looked down at the man.
“You said you’re useful.”
These guys were nothing more than cheap thieves who were bought off. There’s no valuable information to extract from them through interrogation.
If anything, it would be the leader. At least, I should be able to get some clues.
Ivan rose and swung the axe, striking the man’s head.
With a thud, the man’s body collapsed.
He pressed the receiver, listening to the direction of the magic line.
Ivan wiped the axe blade on the man’s coat and fastened it to his waist.
It’s 9:03. If the train operates normally, it’ll arrive at this station by 10:00.
In fifty minutes, the train terror will occur.
“Plenty of time.”
Ivan chuckled as he organized the bodies. It took just five minutes to erase the bloodstains and signs of combat.
Erasing traces was one of the most critical aspects of the Cleanup Unit’s training.
There was a reason for Ivan’s relaxed demeanor.
According to the formula of the academy story, train terror never harms the ‘protagonist and main characters.’
When the train is attacked, the protagonist safely escapes with someone’s help and arrives at the academy unharmed.
Ivan never intended to prevent the train terror from the beginning.
“This is a tutorial.”
Ivan was running through the forest. Occasionally, as the signal weakened, he pressed the button to confirm the reception direction.
“A tutorial is a step to help the player adapt to the game.”
So, they employed such sloppy thieves to attack the ‘Children of the Hero Party.’ It’s a design to get accustomed to combat from the lower-level segments.
Initially, Ivan pondered who among the Hero Party would be the ‘protagonist.’
He soon deduced the correct answer.
All of them.
Everyone is a protagonist. Each member of the Children of the Hero Party is a protagonist.
When playing the game and creating the first character, you’re given ‘archetype’ characters. These are characters with unique storylines in the world. Crucially, they have ‘entirely different attributes or professions.’
– Isabelle, the Warrior’s Daughter. Dual occupation: Mage and Warrior.
– Oscar, the Knight’s Son. Knight.
– Elphira, the Sorceress’s Daughter. Sorceress.
– Ecdysis, the Berserker’s Daughter. Presumably dual occupation: Bard and Berserker.
– Lucia, the Apprentice of the Rogue. Rogue or Assassin.
If the player chooses one of these during character selection, they’ll have to resolve the ‘Train Terror’ as their tutorial.
Thus, Ivan changed his thinking.
‘If all characters’ tutorials revolve around Train Terror, then one can anticipate the terrorist group beforehand.’
If you repeat the same thing six times, it’s sure to leave a trace.
Ivan sprinted through the undergrowth, pressing the receiver once more.
This time, he felt the magic line emanating from a very close location.
“Tutorials are left to the protagonist, and I’ll eliminate the variables.”
He won’t prevent the Train Terror. Anyway, the Train Terror is a ‘constant.’ If stopped in advance, it might lead to issues in a different way.
So, it’s better to identify the group behind the Train Terror instead.
Then, at the academy, track down and eliminate any traces of that group.
Avoid direct confrontation, conduct espionage from the rear, and eradicate the threats. That’s the method of the Cleanup Unit.