Time and Place – Chapter 9

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Aiden shuffled his feet uncomfortably, trying to stretch them as much as possible without standing up. They had been on this flight for twelve hours now, and he had already slept as long as he could suffer in this depressing environment.

He glanced out through the window. All he could see were the stars of endless space. He stopped himself from letting out a yawn. His father had told him that boredom was the sign of a weak mind. Nevertheless, he felt bored. His brother sat next to him, reading a report his father had given him before the flight. He had not seen Demetry sleep for a moment during the flight, yet his brother still seemed rested as he flipped to the next page of his thick report.

“Don’t act so bored, Brother; Father is already angry with you after the Pharon dinner incident. There is no reason you need to antagonize him further,” Demetry spoke, his eyes still on his papers.

Aiden chuckled, “The prig was asking for it. He insulted us one too many times and he was a fool. I don’t suffer fools.”

Demetry put on an exasperated look. “It was a sensitive situation. You’re lucky Father was able to smooth things out. Your actions could have lead to a war, a war that would have cost lives.”

“Why should we make peace with people who obviously show us no respect?” Aiden snapped, his voice becoming heated.

Demetry sighed. “It’s diplomacy brother. The Pharon family is powerful, and keeping peace with them has kept our family rule over the Taerren Empire for well over a hundred years.”

“We should have just seized their estates. Then we would have their resources and would not have to deal with their insubordination.”

“They would have seen it coming. They would have fled, taking their resources with them. They would have made peace with one of our enemies, and use their new found loyalty combined with their intricate knowledge of our forces to strike a blow.” Demetry explained, running his hand over his black hair that was intricately woven in an elaborate braid.

“Not if we shut down the jump gates until we had them under control,” Aiden retorted.

Demetry let out a laugh before responding. “And shut down intersolar commerce for days? The costs alone would have been astronomical. In the end, not only would the common businessmen be angry at us for usurping trade and costing them money, but all of the other families would be weary and distrustful, more likely to stab us in the back at the first chance they got.”

“I don’t know about you, Brother,” Demetry continued, “but personally I like being able to sleep without the fear of an assassin’s knife. I do say, however, I enjoy your… simplicity in dealing with matters. It certainly is a refreshing reprieve from all the undermining and political squabble Father has spent the last few years educating me in.”

Aiden’s cheeks blushed as he lowered his head a bit. Demetry looked away from his paper to glance at Aiden, and then sighed again.

“You need not worry yourself. Should Father pass, may he live forever; I am more than capable of continuing the empire’s goals and values. The Boramont family has made us strong for a hundred years and when I am Lord Regent, you will always be a welcomed and honored member of my family. I think you would make a good captain of security to the Lord Regent.”

“Demetry, I would protect you with my life even without a position name.” Aiden protested.

Demetry let out a slight smile at the side of his mouth, “Nevertheless, you deserve a position of notoriety and power. You have already saved my life on two separate occasions. You are skilled and intelligent. Father may not say so, but he does respect you and your abilities. Do not forget that we are family, and that family sticks together. Hmm… now captain of security just doesn’t have that great of a ring to it. How about master of security? Perhaps I could make that your title.”

Aiden blushed once again, this time from embarrassment as opposed to shame. When he didn’t respond with anything else, Demetry gave himself one decisive nod before returning to his paperwork.

Aiden glanced back out the window again into the empty space beyond the first class transport ship. This journey seemed foolish to Aiden. Their father, Lord Regent Sinswa Boramont, had decided that they needed to head to this outpost in the outer colonies immediately without warning.

They had set out for the jump gate from Taerra to the Kru System post haste. There, they had been traveling to Vanderra, the second planet from the Kru Sun, and the Vanderra station orbiting it. The station itself was a rather large station that acted as a relay and supply point for people traveling across the Taerren Empire. The planet below was uninhabitable, but was starting to reach the final stages of terraforming, and there was noticeable green from vegetation showing up in splotches across the surface.

One of the other functions of the Vanderra station was to hold political prisoners. Unlike normal prisoners, these were often people who offered some kind of advantage to the empire. Whether it be the hopes of trade, underhanded deals, or information, these people were kept in relatively accommodating circumstances until releases could be negotiated.

Some of the prisoners were eventually relayed to surface prisons, should no party show interest in acquiring them. However, a surprisingly large amount were eventually released under the right conditions.

The holding cells aside, Vanderra was a place of commerce and trade. It was Taerra’s largest and most open trading post, often earning visitors not only from the Taerren empire, but visitors from other colonies as well. This made Vanderra essential to maintaining commerce, acquiring imported goods, and providing a means of communicating with non-Taerren colonies.

Despite this fact, Aiden saw the place as a trash heap. Stations of any kind never held appeal to Aiden. Compared to the majestic architecture of the palaces and capital city back home, the functionality of a station seemed painfully inadequate. Aiden finally could see the station through his window.

To him, the outside of the station was as ugly as the inside. Corridors ran many different ways in seemingly random patterns, giving Aiden the impression of a 3D puzzle. The engineers behind this station clearly built it to be functional, to utilize space to its fullest, but Aiden had none of the expertise to understand how this hodgepodge mess of corridors and chamber modules equaled the station inside.

At the very least, the station had artificial gravity. It was about the same as the artificial gravity abroad the craft they were on. With the exception for centrifugal gravity, which was achieved by a spinning chamber built within a craft, artificial gravity was a relatively new invention. Besides being fairly large, it also was incredibly expensive and impractical for most ships.

The first class transport they were on had to be gutted and refitted to accommodate the artificial gravity. The gravity engine was about equal to the size of the entire combustion engine that navigated the ship.

Aiden watched as the ship approached a larger module that he reasoned was some kind of hanger. The doors of the hanger opened, creating a hole large enough for their ship to enter. Aiden’s father would never have it another way. He would never dock with a station through a transfer terminal like a lowly civilian would.

Aiden could hear a grinding sound and a slight rumbling at his feet as the landing gears opened. The ship steadily moved towards the opened hanger door. Supporting thrusters stabilized the craft as it steadily landed. The pilot on this ship was particularly skilled at this job. Aiden’s father would not have accepted anyone of any less than exemplary piloting skills.

Aiden wasn’t much of a pilot. He had taken some of the basic flight courses, but had no knack for it. Being able to move a body of mass much larger than himself in a virtually gravity free environment seemed foreign and abnormal to him. Although, he knew his brother enjoyed mock dog fighting with rig fighters, which was the only kind of space fighting that occurred after the Treaty of Nacel.

There was a slight bump, indicating that they had finally landed safely. A shadow casted over the window as the hanger doors closed, silent in the vacuum of space. When the doors finally closed, the shadow was replaced by ceiling lighting. The hanger itself was nothing to look at, mostly a whole lot of grey. The walls consisted of sealed lockers made safe from the vacuumed environment. Aiden yawned intentionally to overcome his ears desire to pop. Boredom be damned. Air was steadily filling up the chamber and pressure was equalizing, creating a light hiss noise.

The air returned and pressurization took about five minutes. During that time, Aiden merely put his head down and listened to the noises and periodical pops as the medals adjusted to external changes. The pilot turned on the intercom and began announcing their arrival. Aiden mostly ignored the announcement.

Upon the announcement’s completion, people across the cabin began standing up, collecting their belongings. There were about twenty to thirty people with Aiden and Demetry in the main cabin. Many of them were families of the traveling dignitaries, ambassadors, and the Lord Regent’s council.

Most government officials traveled with their families regularly. Some of the dignitaries followed the Lord Regent wherever he traveled in case their services were needed at his disposal. Others traveled at the behest of the Lord Regent’s most recent orders.  Many of the men and their families would not be returning with the Lord Regent, assigned to travel to decent systems as a representative of peace.

The Lord Regent himself did not sit in the cabin with them; instead, he had his own cabin which he shared with his most trusted advisors. The Lord Regent often had his two sons sit with the rest of the main cabin to present a familiarity with the common man. On rare occasions, Demetry was allowed to sit in the Lord Regent’s cabin when important business was being discussed that the Lord Regent thought might help his son’s development. However, the Lord Regent had not offered an invite on this trip. As a matter of fact, he had not offered Demetry an invite in many months.

The primary door opened and the families and dignitaries began leaving down the ramp. It was customary for the highest ranking officials to be the last to leave any given vehicle. After the last person was moving down the aisle, Aiden’s brother stood.

“Well, it seems it is our turn to leave,” Demetry gave his brother a nod before turning.

Demetry had already put his report away, stood, and started moving down the slim hallway. Aiden considered waiting a bit, but impatience won out and he finally stood and followed his brother.

The hallway between the aisles of chairs was fairly comfortable in width. Aiden had heard that other ships existed that often had little space between the aisles, made even more difficult to navigate with the lack of gravity. These ships were often reserved for commercial flights for commoners.

Of course, this was a ship that spared no expense. The floors were carpeted red leading down the entire length of the hall. At the end of the hall was a ramp two people wide leading to the ground of the hanger. The red carpet followed down the entire length of the ramp as well.

Aiden continue to follow his brother down the ramp. At the bottom, Demetry went to the right side of the ramp and stood at attention. Aiden followed, taking the left side. In the time since the pressure had equalized in the hanger, it had become full with soldiers and guards. Full was a understatement.

As far as Aiden could see, soldiers stood at attention. The soldiers left a pathway large enough for three people abreast to stride; leading straight out of the hanger through what was most likely an adjacent corridor, the path the Lord Regent would most likely take leaving the hanger. A few of the higher ranking officers stood at attention a few meters from the edge of the ramp, waiting to greet the Lord Regent.

The family members and lower level bureaucrats were rushed out of the room to make accommodations for the Lord Reagent. The last of them disappeared around the corner by the time Aiden had settled in his place. Upon noticing Demetry with an eyebrow raised in agitation, Aiden schooled his face and looked up expectantly for the exit for the Lord Regent, as the rest of the honor guard was currently doing.

A grizzled old man strolled from the entrance of the ship, a slight limp to his left foot that might have gone unnoticed to anyone who wasn’t looking for it. He had short, neatly trimmed white hair and a small white scar on his lower right cheek. The best way to describe his face was sharp, consisting of mostly angles. He was heavy footed, and each step made a prominent clank as he walked down the ramp. When he reached the bottom, he stopped, looking left and right at both Aiden and his brother.

After giving them each a curt, silent nod of respect, he continued walking. Upon approaching the three ranking officers he glanced around the hanger, taking in the environment before placing his eyes on the three men. It was said that General Mahr had piercing eyes that could strip a man of everything but the truth. Aiden could attest to this fact, having had those eyes on him many times during his lessons.

The two Lieutenants to either side of the Station Commander shrunk back slightly at the intense glaze. The Commander stood his ground, showing that he had a bit more backbone than his underlings. This didn’t necessarily mean the Commander was a smart man. Aiden had met many soldiers who made it to where they were based purely on bravery. Eventually, one day, they would need to display intelligence too, and would find themselves ground to dust. It was perhaps one of the first lessons Mahr ever taught Aiden. “Bravery wins battles, intelligence wins wars”.

The Station Commander wore a one-piece blue uniform adorned with gold. He wore a red line with three stars over it to signify his rank as Commander on his shoulder. The lieutenants to either side had only one star. The one-piece uniform was a standard uniform for those assigned to duty in space. Colors were often used to quickly identify personnel aboard ships. Blues for officers, dark blue for soldiers, light blues for kitchen staff, browns for maintenance, and so on.

It made sense given the environment they lived in, but it was just one more thing Aiden disliked about space. On planets, the working staff often wore ornate embroidery. Servants of the empire were allowed to wear similar, albeit less decorated versions of these robes as well. Other imperial families wore robes much like these, but could not use the combination of gold and red, the emporal colors of Boramont. As a result, each family typically picked two colors of its own, and followed in their families traditions.

During a normal celebration on Taerra Prime, each house brought several hundred honor guards swathed in their family colors, creating a beautiful kaleidoscope of celebration. The dances were also an incredible sight to see, particularly during the dances that required a swapping of partners. The cacophony of blues, reds, greens, yellows, and browns often reminded Aiden of dancing flowers. The line after line of dark blue one suited soldiers in front of him was drab by comparison.

Here, Aiden and Demetry wore the traditional royal robes of the imperial family. Decorated in reds and gold, the ornate robes they wore were only matched by the Lord Regent himself. General Mahr wore simple clothing; he always said that if you needed a sash with medals to gain respect from your fellows that you didn’t deserve that respect. It was for that reason that most new recruits memorized General Mahr’s face. The few recruits who didn’t know who he was on sight or didn’t grasp his authority quickly enough often paid for it harshly.

“The Lord Regent’s honor requires this kind of…” the Station Commander was saying.

Aiden realized he had been dazing and tried to catch up on the conversation.

“The Lord Regent’s honor?” General Mahr responded with noticeable anger in his voice, “It is not your job to guard the Lord Regent, it is your job to keep the station secure, your desire to…. honor the Lord Regent has put this station at risk.”

“But the Ops guards you sent here yesterday provide more than adequate-”

“They were here for a given purpose, one you may have just compromised, you fool. You may have just stepped on plans the Lord Regent has had laid out for years. You honor the Lord Regent? You may have well just spit on him.”

The Station Commander winced at that comment, going white in the face. It was clear he was losing ground. His two lieutenants were shrunk down, their shoulders hunched at the debasement of their commanding officer. As Aiden looked around, he began to realize what General Mahr had noticed immediately upon entering. There were far too many honor guards present. It would seem that the Commander decided to dissemble the station down to a skeleton crew in the name of honoring the Lord Regent. It turned out he was a fool.

“Sir, we only heard of the Lord Regent coming just an hour ago. We had no proper time to prepare. Had I been informed of any of these plans I could have been more accommodating…”

“Enough!” General Mahr barked, “If you find yourself incapable of meeting the needs of the empire a replacement can easily be found for you.”

“That won’t be necessary sir,” the Commander responded bowing, his right hand jerking out slapping the lieutenant next to him on the arm.

The lieutenant immediately turned around and ran back down the aisle, making silent orders with his hand. Without a word, about half of the contingent turned and moved out the hallway. For the amount of people present, the movement was surprisingly quiet as the soldiers turned and exited swiftly. It took about two minutes. The remaining troops reorganized themselves to create a new thinner line down the entire length of the hanger. In the Commander’s defense, the new precession seemed a lot less grand than its predecessor.

The General glowered at the Commander for another minute before turning to his side. He glanced up into the ramp, nodding at someone up in the ship. A man came out in a quick walk down to the edge of the bottom ramp.

“I present to the honored Vanderra station, the master of Taerra, Lord Regent Swasa Boramont,” the man announced in a full voice that carried remarkably well in the hanger.

The announcer moved to the side and a large man behind him began walking down, followed closely by several advisors. To call the Lord Regent an imposing man was an intense understatement. He wore red and gold robes much like Aiden and Demetry, but they were much longer. They trailed behind him several feet, forcing the advisors to his sides for fear they may step on them. He had incredibly dark, almost black eyes, and jet black hair. The hair was grown long, tied into a ceremonial braid. All of the imperial family grew out their hair and tied it into an ornate braid. Aiden himself only had the pleasure of braiding his hair two years prior.

His brother’s hair was much like his father’s. His braid was only about half the length, reaching down to his shoulder blades, but it possessed the same jet black slickness of the Lord Reagent. Aiden’s hair was not black. Instead, it was brown like his mother’s. The same could be said for his eyes as well. Just as the Lord Regent reached the bottom of the ramp, a slight beeping sound started.

The Commander, red with embarrassment, looked down at a communicator he had attached to his wrist. As he looked, his eyes began to widen in alarm. The General glared at him. The Commander glanced up, just about to say something.

Suddenly, Aiden found himself on the ground. A loud roar assaulted his ears as the ground shook. Aiden quickly assumed a relaxed position, allowing his body to move with the tremors, absorbing himself into their movements. Then he began to get to his feet, slowly at first as he adjusted to the movements. By the time he was back his feet, the majority of the tremor had passed. Aiden surveyed the room as a low moaning rumble gave out like a dying aftershock.

The General was already on his feet and next to the Lord Regent. He had one hand held out to help pick the Lord Regent up and balance him, the other on a weapon aimed down the hallway at any potential threat. With the General’s help, the Lord Regent stood glancing around in irritation. Most of the soldiers were still scrambling to their feet, disorder and discord threading through the hanger.

“What happened?” the Lord Regent asked calmly once it seemed the tremors had subsided enough.

“It would seem that a terrorist cell released a bomb aboard the station. By the feel of it, they missed anything vital,” Mahr promptly responded.

“The terrorists that we knew of ahead of time?”  The Lord Reagent responded, his black eyes sharp on the General.

Mahr glanced down at the Commander, now completely red with anger and embarrassment, “It would seem.”

“You will handle it?”

“Personally, my lord,” Mahr bowed deep.

Aiden’s father nodded once before turning and moving back up the ramp into the relative safety of the ship. General Mahr walked over to Aiden swiftly, his limp almost nonexistent.

“Where is Demetry?” Aiden’s mentor asked, looking around briefly.

This was the first point and time Aiden realized that Demetry was completely gone. After a quick look around the room he met the General’s eyes.

“Find him,” Mahr commanded, then turned and began walking towards the now cringing Station Commander who was desperately trying to pull his soldiers together.

The General stopped and looked back as if an idea suddenly came to him, “Oh, and if you see any insurgents, kill them.”

Aiden nodded and started moving out. He had a job to do.

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Time and Place – Chapter 8

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“They got him three days ago while we were still in transit here,” Danelle explained, her breath having long recovered.

They were now in another storage room they had found nearby. This one was about twice the size of the previous, but was full of various unmarked containers, making it feel more cramped than the previous one.

“H-how do you know this?” Marideen asked.

The two men gave her the room to ask the questions. She was Danelle’s sister, after all.

“After we got passed the checkpoints, Kate and Beiromon told me to stay put while they set the bomb. I spotted a security terminal, so I decided to check the news and kill some time.”

Marideen gave her a frown but said nothing in response.

“I couldn’t really get much information as just about everything was locked out, but I found I was able to access a news feed. I just glanced at a few articles, but then one caught my eye. ‘Terrorists’ cell exposed on the moon Terres.’”

Marideen’s mouth went dry, but she forced herself to nod.

Tears ran down Danelle’s cheeks as she spoke, “They knew. They knew where the Lancers were. Someone told them. They sent in soldiers. The article said they killed or captured at least hundred people. “

Danelle’s voice broke on the last line, her head landing on Marideen’s shoulder as she let out a sob.

“Di-did they mention father?” Marideen forced herself to ask.

She could feel Danelle’s head shake a no against her chest. Marideen sighed. He could be alive. He could be, but that meant he was now a political prisoner, just like Berret.

“What do we do now?” Danelle mumbled. “All of our friends, almost every Lancer, are captured or dead.”

“We just continue on with our mission as planned,” Marideen began until she saw Markus shaking his head.

“It’s more complicated than that,” Markus interjected. “Danelle said it best: someone told them. Someone betrayed the Lancers.”

“Marcell, that bastard, I’ll kill him,” Marideen growled, but Markus was already shaking his head again.

“I know Marcell, he may be a lot of things, but a traitor is not one of them. He was loyal. I’d find it very hard to believe it was him.” Markus responded, “But either way if someone knew where the base was, it is very possible that they knew about our mission here too.”

Danelle gasped, removing her head from Marideen’s shoulder. “You mean…?”

“I mean, we could be walking right into an ambush. Do Kate and Beiromon know about this?” Markus asked.

Danelle shook her head, “I didn’t know when they’d be back. I ran straight to you guys.”

Markus sighed, “It is very possible that they have already been captured. I don’t think there is anything we can do for them right now. Had you not stopped us, I can’t imagine what we would have found if we tried to wander right into the cell block guard post.”

“So what do we do then?” Danelle asked, a little bit of her vigor returning.

“We abandon the mission. We need to think of a way to get out of here. If we can get to a ship, we might be able to bluff our way out of here as farmers with ship troubles looking for some passage home. I think we might be able to bribe…”

“No.” Markus blinked as Marideen interrupted him.

“Mari, I know you’re upset, but I think-”

“No,” Marideen said firmer while giving Markus a glare. “We came here to rescue Berret, and we are not leaving without him.”

“I hardly think we are in a position to resc-”

“I disagree,” Markus flashed an annoyed look as she continued to interrupt him. “You see, they think they know exactly what our plan is. So they are looking for just that. A couple of strangers dressed like kitchen staff trying to deliver food. As long as we don’t do what they expect, they will be too busy looking for what they expect that we can sneak up and steal our friend right out from under them.”

“It’s possible that Berret isn’t even here, and they made that up to draw us out,” Maximil mentioned cautiously.

“You don’t believe that and neither do I. He’s bait, and they knew real bait works much better than fake,” Marideen said.

Maximil considered it a few moments before nodding reluctantly.

“So what’s your ingenious plan now?” Markus asked.

Danelle had finally unwrapped her arms from her big sister and was now listening intently.

Marideen thought for a few seconds before responding. “Did you remember what those guards said about the archeological things?”

“They said that the stuff was dragged in unexpectedly and was valuable?” Markus replied.

“They said that stuff was locked securely next to the cell block,” Marideen explained. “Now if my memory of the schematics precedes me, the section they most likely used is directly connected to the cell block, and would effectively be a back way.”

“They also said that area was tightly secured with top security clearance,” Markus replied.

“Top security clearance sure, but with a few or no guards. They said that doctor didn’t want people around her artifacts. If we could get past the security, we could get into the prison and back out without a single person seeing us.”

“That is a pretty big if,” Markus responded.

“Not so much,” Marideen replied, ignoring Markus’s glower. “All we have to do is go in a way that they wouldn’t expect and thus, would have no security. Do you still have a blueprint of the station with you?”

Markus frowned at her for a moment before sighing and pulling out a tightly folded piece of paper. As he unfolded the map, it spread out to roughly the size of the food cart. Marideen quickly emptied the cart then laid the map on top of it.

She swiftly scanned the map around the area she expected them to put the architect’s supplies. The area was a connected part of the cellblock and without too much work could be converted, doubling the size of the cell block. However, at this point in time, it was wasted space. Space currently being used to secure those artifacts, Marideen guessed.

“See, right here. The artifact storage has a back door that leads directly into the back of the cellblock, and there is only one entrance into the artifact storage that is bound to be lightly guarded,” Marideen said, pointing at the map.

“But it will be guarded,” Markus responded.

“Which is exactly why we aren’t going in that way.”

“But you just said that was the only way in,” Markus replied with a confused look on his face.

“Berret always said if you find both your exits blocked, you better make the third exit,” She pointed at the map, her finger touching a closeted storage space bordering the artifact storage.

“And how exactly are we going to make an exit?” Markus asked, starting to lose his exasperated look.

Marideen pulled a small tube out of her pocket, “Before we left, Kate had given me a tube of some kind of explosive. I had caught her testing it once and expressed some interest. She said it was for getting out of a jam. You light it and it gets hot, very hot, like melt-through-metal hot, like a hole-to-an-adjacent-wall hot.”

“And what if someone is in there while we do this?” Markus inquired, some of the exasperation returning again.

“There shouldn’t be if the guards are to be believed. No one but this archeologist person. As far as she is concerned, we’ll just have to take it when it comes. I never said it wasn’t a gamble.”

“A gamble? This is suicide,” Markus protested. “We should abandon the mission while we have the chance rather than throw ourselves against the threat on pure chance, right? “He glanced up at Maximil, who had yet to say anything.

Maximil shrugged, “What other plan do we have? You said we needed to escape, but without Kate’s explosives as a distraction, the plan is near impossible. It’s safe to say that if we’re assuming they know our plan then we have to assume they know how we’re planning to escape too. If we free the prisoner like we planned, and sneak them all out the back, we can get a much wider spread and more confusing riot with the prisoners out among the public. That could be our chance…”

“We can get out. All we need to do is secure an escape!” Markus glanced at Marideen’s resolute eyes, then Maximal’s resigned eyes, before turning to Danelle, “And I suppose you’re up for this insane plan as well?”

Danelle stood up, the tears on her cheeks had dried, her eyes fierce, “I go with my sister.”

Markus sighed, his eyes staring blankly into space for a moment. After a short while, he raised his head, nodding. A smile broke out on Marideen’s face.

“Can we at least add a little security to the blind hope that this archeologist won’t be there?” He asked in a resigned voice.

“What do you have in mind? Marideen inquired.

“The simplest tricks in the book are often the most effective. I suggest that we simply give her a page. Can you manage that with one of these security terminals?”

“I think we can manage that,” Danelle piped in, her voice starting to sound optimistic again.

It turned out they had been incredibly close to the prison entrance. After walking down two hallways they already were near the storage room Marideen selected as their point of entry. Maximil brought the food cart with the extra weapons on it as they entered the storage room.

Danelle walked over to a nearby security terminal. Marideen waited in the entrance of the storage room for her. After a few minutes of typing, she walked back to the entrance and the two of them entered the room.

Maximil suggested they wait a few minutes, to give the doctor time to answer her page.

“Where did you send her?” Marideen asked her little sister.

“To the docks, said I was a dock tech who still had a container with one of her artifacts in it that someone forgot to deliver. Figure that will keep her busy, especially since I didn’t say what dock. She will probably freak when the dock personnel can’t find her container. “

After that, they waited in silence. This room was much like the second storage room they had been in. It was full of various unlabeled containers, stacked on three racks of storage shelving placed parallel to each other, complete with rows to walk between each one.

The back wall, the one against the artifact storage area, also had several boxes piled up against it. Marideen and Maximil began moving the boxes out of the way. After exposing a clear clean patch of wall, Marideen pulled out the tube of explosive Kate had given her. The solution squeezed out of the tube like toothpaste.  She tried to spread it as evenly as possible, creating a small hole that she hoped was big enough for everyone to crawl through.

Maybe she should have drawn it closer to the floor. It was too late now; the explosive compound was already on the wall. Trying to move it might just create more problems. After taking a deep breath, Marideen pulled out her light. Danelle and the two men took a couple steps back.

Marideen flicked the lighter, producing a small flame. She held the flame up against the toothpaste like compound. At first, nothing happened.It took about a minute before the toothpaste began to glow a reflective orange color. In a quick spark, a flame sprung and wicked across the circle, covering all of the paste. The rest of the paste began to turn a luminescent orange as well.

Marideen could hear the sizzle as the heat caused the metal to crack and expand. Fumes began to rise from it in noticeable smoke clouds. Marideen covered her face and took several steps back.

The sizzle was accompanied by an occasional popping sound as the metal melted and reformed. After about a minute the sizzling stopped. Nothing. A circular crevice and been carved into the wall. Small amounts of fume and heat still seeped out of the trenched cracks where the applied paste had done its work. Marideen’s hope slipped as she realized that it wasn’t going to burn through. She was out of the paste and had nothing else at her disposal that could finish cutting this hole.

Maximil glanced at Markus, shrugged, and reeled back before kicking directly in the center of the circular trench as hard as he could. The impact made a horribly loud bang, followed by an even louder rip. Marideen winced, but as she looked she could see the bottom of the trench was ripped over and indented by about 6 inches.

“In for a credit…” Maximil muttered, kicking once more.

This time the metal pulled away completely, falling down on the other side. Marideen couldn’t help but wince once more time as the falling metal hit the floor with a loud crash.

“I think we need to hurry before someone checks to see what that was,” Markus responded.

Marideen motioned for Danelle to go through first, as she would have the easiest time doing it, being the smallest. Marideen herself followed. Maximil grunted and cursed as he tried to shove himself through. He was a tight fit, made more awkward by the hole being 2 feet off the ground. After a few more moments of grunting and cursing, he flopped onto the floor, breathing hard for a few seconds before sighing and returning to his feet.

Markus didn’t come through immediately. She could hear rustling on the other side. She then saw Markus’s foot cautiously move its way into the hole. Once he had his knee all the way through, his other foot pushed its way in. His feet steadily worked their way out until he was about up to his hip and his knees managed to brush the ground. He began pushing back. Marideen could hear boxes dragging as he moved,

Markus’s body finally was out of the hole and he let go of whatever box he was dragging with him. In his other hand, he had managed to pull through the small toolkit that she had seen on the cart.

“Hopefully that will hide the hole on that side for any curious guard,” Markus muttered to himself.

Once they were all through, Marideen finally allowed herself to take a look around the room. It mostly just looked like a regular room for storage, just larger than the other three she had just been in. There were no storage racks. Instead, the containers were just placed everywhere it seemed convenient. In the middle of the room on a long sturdy gurney sat a rectangular, coffin-like metal box.

Danelle was already looking around the room, running her hands over several containers, clearly fighting the urge to open one of them.

Marideen walked up to the box on the gurney. It was completely sealed, and Marideen could see no way of seeing it. On the bottom of the box, there was a sticker with some writing on it. Sol Man, Buried Date Unknown, Recovery Date 10234.15. Marideen jerked her hand back upon reading it. A dead body, or some kind of mummy.

“According to the schematics, the door will be in the back this way,” Markus said, pointing.

“I think one of us should stay behind, just in case,” Markus gave Maximil a nod.

Maximil let out a grunt. “Oh alright, I suppose I can watch your backs. Don’t take too long, that archeologist could be back any moment.”

Markus nodded as the three of them headed in the direction he had indicated earlier. The room was simply container after container. There were a lot of them. Marideen was not surprised that the docking teams had gotten behind in transport.

They approached the back door, which opened into a small corridor. The corridor seemed like a small afterthought built to link the cell block with this optional extension. There was no lighting other than from the door behind them. As the door clicked shut, the three of them stood there for a minute as their eyes adjusted to the darkness, only lit by the apparent cracks in the door and a nearby vent. Marideen approached the next door slowly, walking as lightly as she knew how, afraid to make a noise that might alert any nearby guard.

As they approached the door, Markus whispered, “This one should lead to the cellblock. If we don’t want to get caught, we need to be subtle. Ideally, we want to get all of the prisoners free and out through the back door without the guards seeing.”

“What about video cameras? Or guard patrols?” Marideen responded.

“We’re hoping for neither. You yourself said this was a gamble. I said suicide. We’ll find out in a minute which of us was right.”

Marideen started to worry. Maybe this wasn’t as intelligent of a plan as it seemed to her back in the storage room. Danelle seemed most excited simply to be involved. Markus opened the tool kit he had brought along and begun working on the lock on the door to the cell block. It may have been a back way, but they weren’t stupid. The lock was a complex one, but Markus had a certain skill with picking locks.

After a few minutes of tinkering with the lock using the box of tools, the door unlocked with a light click. Markus braced his hand and foot against the door slowly opening it a crack. He took a look through the crack he had just made. After a brief look, he moved aside, allowing Marideen to take a look as well. She pressed her cheek up against the door and peeked into the space beyond.

The corridor in front of her was well lit. Unlike the previous hallways she had been in, the floor was not carpeted here. The walls were completely plain and free of adornments. The hallways were lined with tightly fit doors. Each door had a rectangular glass window from which to peek into the room. A small arm sized door also sat in about the middle of the room from which to pass food without opening the door. Marideen could see no one in the corridor.

She took a quick glance at Markus, who shrugged uncomfortably, before pushing the door open enough to slip herself through. Markus followed behind her, and then Danelle. They sneaked slowly down the hallway to the first available door.

“Markus, start opening doors. Danelle and I will try to locate Berret and keep a watch,” Marideen whispered.

Markus shook his head in resignation and began pulling at tools to work on the lock before him. Marideen and Danelle moved down the hall. They each took a side of the hallway, checking each door through the glass slit. The first door she looked through was completely empty. The second door seemed to have three men, each wore a yellow jumpsuit. She recognized none of the men, although they all seemed to sit with a dignified grace that was untarnished by their cells. Most likely nobles.

The next door consisted of a single woman wearing the same kind of jumpsuit. She had her head in her hands, although Marideen couldn’t tell if she was crying or not.

“Found him!” Danelle exclaimed, causing Marideen to cringe.

Danelle was not yelling, but at this particular time, even normal volume pierced Marideen’s ears. Realizing what she had done, Danelle blushed and lowered her eyes. Marideen joined her in front of Berret’s cell, giving Danelle a brief scowl before looking through the slit.

Berret was indeed there. He was not looking at the slit and had not incidentally acknowledged Danelle’s previous exclamation. He was a broad, muscular dark-skinned man. He wasn’t as large or as imposing as Maximil or Beiroden, but he had a presence. His hair was black and cut very short. He sat down, his back straight and strong. His head was pressed up against the wall, and his eyes were closed.

“Markus, Berret is in this room, start with this one,” Marideen whispered with her eyes still on Berret. She looked back at Markus when he didn’t respond.

He was kneeling in front of the door with the three men in it, his tools spread around him as he worked on the lock. He glanced at her with a look of exasperation on his face. Marideen blushed slightly as he sighed and stood up, picking his tools up before moving towards the front of Berret’s cell.

Marideen moved down the hall a bit, Danelle trailing behind her. They came to the end of the hallway where a turn right would continue on straight into the guard’s room. If the schematics she had read were accurate, the room was closed off by a door. However, she didn’t want to risk peeking around the corner in the fear that a guard would happen to be looking her way.

She fumbled in her pocket for a small mirror that Markus had given her for looking around corners. Just as she started to take a glance around the corner she heard a metallic click behind her. She glanced back to see Markus having finally opened the door with Berret in it. A small smile crawled across her face as Markus began ushering Berret from the room. She could not see him yet, but it was clear he was conscious and Markus was engaged in conversation with him.

Marideen glanced over at her sister. Danelle was looking in the opposite direction, her eyes open in shock. Marideen spun around just in time for a fist to strike her in the face. The world went white in a sudden burst of pain.

Marideen could feel herself hit the floor. She felt dizzy and confused. She could hear Danelle’s cry and the sound of a gunshot. She struggled to make sense of what was happening. Her ears rang and her vision seemed wobbly, making her eyes close to keep her from being sick. She forced her eyes open again. The side of her face was on fire, but a subtle feeling of numbness came over a second later.

“Are you alright?” Danelle asked anxiously, crouched at her side.

The voice seemed oddly hollow coming through the ringing in her ears. She concentrated on ignoring the ringing to hear Danelle better. Her hands were holding Marideen’s head. Marideen could hear footsteps followed by a shout.

“Prisoners escaping!” yelled the guard who must have struck her.

She had to stop him before he alerted the other guards. Her head slid to the side and her eyes locked on to Danelle’s gun lying on the floor where she had left it to help her. Without thought, she lurched to her feet, grabbing the gun as she attempted to stand. She stumbled several steps out into the turn, her shoulder bumping into the wall at the end of the hallway. Danelle let out a wordless protest.

Using the wall to steady herself, she looked up with the gun clutched in her hand. The man who had struck her was about one fourth of the way down the hallway towards the guards’ room. Had so short of a time truly past? Using the marksman training she had received most of her life, she took aim. The world still seemed to wobble around her, but she ignored it and pressed the trigger.

Her bullet pierced the guard in the back of the neck. He took two strides before falling over, landing face down. She knew he was dead before he had hit the ground. There was a hushed silence as she looked down at the body. Then the realization struck home. Marideen had never killed someone before.

She had trained for most of her life in fighting and marksmanship. She had seen her own friends die in her hands.  She had even seen people tortured and killed in front of her. But this was the first time she had been responsible for someone’s death directly. It wasn’t even a fair fight. The man had his back turned and was running from her. The reason for doing it seemed so important five seconds prior, but now it seemed pointless.

She leaned on the wall in shock, the wall supporting most of her body. Her arm went limp and the gun dropped to the floor. Down the hallway, the door opened and several guards poured into the hallways. Upon seeing the sight, the one in front lifted his gun, pointing it straight at her. Marideen could see the intent to kill in his eyes. The same look that must have been in her eyes moments before. She was frozen, unable to move. Killing him hadn’t even prevented the guards from being notified.

A large hand grabbed her arm, pulling her back behind the cover of the turn in the hallway. A bullet struck the wall where she was just standing. She couldn’t be certain, but the bullet indent on the wall looked as if it would have been where her heart was.

“Is good to see your beautiful face, but don’t get so swoony on my account,” Berret chuckled awkwardly, worry in his eyes.

A tear ran down Marideen’s face and she glanced at the corner where she had just come from. She could clearly hear guards shouting orders as they spread out into the hallway.

Berret grabbed her face and focused her eyes back on him. “I saw what you did, now don’t regret it a minute. You did what you believed you had to, and that is as much as any can hope for.”

Marideen nodded, quickly wiping a tear and glancing over. Danelle was standing behind Berret, a look of concern on her face masked only by her apparent excitement. Markus had a considerably more worried expression on his face.

“We can make it out the back way, but there is no time to free anyone else, and there goes our distraction,” Markus growled, his face scrunching up in agitation.

“No time?” Marideen asked as she worked on compiling her thoughts.

Then it hit her. “Cover me!” She yelled, immediately darting from Berret’s grasp into the hallway with the guards.

Cover you?” Berret cried in disbelief.

He lifted an automatic rifle Markus must have handed him as quickly as possible while hitting the edge of the corner, firing over Marideen’s shoulder as she hit the ground on all fours. The loud thudding from the clip cut out anything else he said. She believed she could hear him shouting “crazy lady”, but she ignored him as she scrambled down the hallway.

The sudden onslaught of both Berret’s wild blind firing and Marideen’s crawling surprised the guards. They had already made about a third of the way down the hallway, the nearest man about ten meters from their fallen comrade. He took the first bullet from Berret’s gun. The other guards began looking for cover quickly, but the hallway seemed to offer none. A few shot back, aiming at the source of the attack, rather than Marideen as she crawled closer while the others began to retreat.

She came up to the body of the man on the floor and immediately began feeling his pockets. She grimaced at touching a man she had just killed but tried to keep herself detached from the environment around her. She had to be focused. He was an enemy like any other. The adrenaline pumping from the bullets flying over her head helped immensely with that.

Finally, she found what she was looking for. She pulled out the keys that the man had been carrying in his pocket, tossing them back the way she had just come. The keys landed in the middle of the turn in the hallway. As she began lunging forward to get back behind the cover, she could see Markus’s hand reaching from behind the corner and snatching the keys, obviously having figured out her intent.

She moved as quickly as she could back, feeling panic as Berret ceased his fire to reload a clip, having run out of loaded guns. Danelle jumped into view, pulling her pistol with the obvious intent of providing cover fire in Berret’s absence. Marideen’s panic increased. Danelle was too much in the open, she was going to get shot.

Marideen was almost there, she could almost reach… Her face smacked the ground and her hands fell out from under her. The loudest boom Marideen had ever heard rang through her ears, and the world began to fall apart.

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Reincarnated As A Villager – Strongest Slow-life – Chapter 14

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I made it.

I’ve created it, but for whom? I’ll think about it.

Although throwing knives are not common, a kunai can be used for many things, it was a weapon used by ninjas.

It is not specialized in slashing or specialized in poking. Both weight and strength are about half and half. Well, if you coat it with a barrier, the strength will dramatically increase, but there is still no use for it.

“Well, if I used it, I could pierce an ogre, but I can already use barrier bullets.”

Although I have power, I do not have much speed. Well, years of running through the hills and fields means I’m pretty fast, but there are a lot of demon beasts that can run over a hundred kilometers per hour in this world.

In fact, I once fought a gray wolf with a club, but they were unaffected by it. In the end, I had to make a pitfall with Earth Magic to defeat it.

If they come at me with speed and numbers, I’d need something I can use rapidly with high quantity. That’s when I came up with BB-sized bullets made from iron in order to decimate their numbers.

With this effective tactic, I can kill a group of goblins instantaneously, even though it’s noisy to walk around with a leather bag full of 2,000 iron balls.

It is effective for extermination, but not suitable for hunting. So, I just flick an acorn-sized piece of gravel with my fingers.

With this good body that can handle up to five tons, I wouldn’t be beaten by a pistol, but couldn’t I do something using the barriers. When I figured that out, my equipped pebble disappeared. So did my knife. It’s the ultimate super convenience.

“This one sucks.”

Well, if you do a lot one or two crappy ones aren’t unusual, the Kunai was returned to the iron sand.

“I guess the standard is the best way to go?”

It’s easier to create the standard forms, and they’re easier to use too. I’m sorry to the consumers (adventurers) for trying to change the sheath and box for each knife.

Pushing my right hand into the sand box, I imagined the classic arrow-type throwing knife and joined the sand iron.

Ten sets of three coppers. About 2,500 yen. Even cheap knives are six small coins. About five thousand yen. It is very easy to buy.

I can usually make about 60 to 70 knives from a batch of iron sand. Well, I collect them properly and put them in a box.

This time was 62. About 18 coins and 3 small coins. It’s about 15,000 yen, but the cost of materials is free. It only takes a little bit of work. You can make them within 20 minutes.

Well, since there is no demand, it will become surplus stock.

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Reincarnated As A Villager – Strongest Slow-life – Chapter 13

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The cart that I made is not the same as a standard cart. By making the coachman seat high, I devoted the bottom to more storage.

That’s where the mud is flung. Since it’s rounded, not much gets in, but I still leave four buckets in there to keep stuff protected.

If we attach saddle bags to the horses and hooks on the sides of the carriage, it’s possible to further increase its load capacity.

I put the barrier-protected items for Grandma under the driver’s seat.

After placing it, I had more time so I headed back to the storage warehouse and brought cookies (in four boxed wooden boxes) to deliver to the people at the shrines and beach.

Wheat is naturally equal to bread in this world and cookies are not thought of as bread. There is no one who knows how to make it, so cookies are a sweet secret of our home.

Well, I can teach it, but since I use honey instead of sugar, if I taught it there are only about one or two people in the village that you could get honey from. Even more is that I’m the only one that actually knows the process of separating the nectar from the honeycomb and having the tools to do so, so teaching has no meaning.

Besides that. Making cookies, or to be accurate, baking them, is Sepuru’s doing. There’s also the fact that though the villagers all have a fireplace and kettle furnace, they have no ovens to make them with.

Results: Cookies became out patent. Order continuously come to our house. However, I never thought of selling them. Ah, rather, I trade them since there’s not much profit in these transactions. The customers are kids, and kids can help. It can be said to be justifiable.

“You guys are doing good, but take a break.”

I say to the two who are exerting themselves.

Though they have magic, their bodies and minds are still inexperienced children. It would be bad if they overdid it. Used to hearing those words, they obediently stopped their practicing and dash towards water.

I kept my eyes on them and eventually went back into the house. I gathered my workshop (my workshop is the area in front of the fireplace) and took them outside to use as a temporary workshop.

Though I have various side jobs, the most rewarding job is making stuff for adventurers.

That’s not to say I make swords, spears, or armor. No, I do not have the expertise or skill necessary, I’m an amateur — but with the technology to make it, there are some things that will sell properly.

Leather bags and belts, simple leather shoes, long explorer staffs, disposable throwing spears, stone arrows, iron arrows, small bows for hunting, axe handles, practice wooden swords, kimono spears, and so on.

Well, I like woodworking from cutting and shaving trees in my previous life, and I can afford to make parts with a weaving machine thanks to my strength and barrier magic. In truth, woman around this mountain can make various things from the long-haired goat fur.

Though I make various things, my latest project was making throwing knives.

Throwing knives are sold at a weapon’s shop and are part of the blacksmith’s territory, but this world lacks in variety. In general, adventurers who use throwing knives are few to begin with. It’s considered a bit of a taboo. A person who cannot create a magic ball or magic arrow is seen as a beginner.

If so, wouldn’t it be great to sell to those beginners? They can use the throwing knives as a diversion or surprise attack. However, it wouldn’t be effective against skilled adventurers or intermediate monsters.

That’s why even if it looks stupid, knives can be effective. If you make various kinds, it can become a hidden weapon, and with poison you might even be able to kill an orc.

Well, people aware of their usefulness is still low, but it’s still popular with adventurers in this village. Little by little, it’s spreading by word of mouth. Most of all, the throwing knives I make are cheap. I just collect sand iron and combine it with Earth magic. It is really easy. For practice, you can get ten stone knives for only three small coins. That is cheap, only about 300 yen.

I have confidence they’ll sell well once they become popular. If people understand their usefulness, others will imitate, but I don’t really care. Originally, it was just one of my side jobs, something I did for myself. If I can throw one seriously, I could even crush a dragon’s scales (only if). It is absolutely no problem.

“Should I make a Kunei type today?”

Pushing my right hand into the box containing sand iron, I imagine the shape of a Kunei and join the sand together.

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Time and Place – Chapter 7

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After walking down the cargo ramp, Marideen could not help but gasp at the sheer size of the station. The room they were in was immense, consisting of enough space to fit a small ship. She could see several of the farmhands loading up a cart full of vegetable containers before pushing them down the hallway.

The hallways were very wide, at least fifty meters across, for unloading large quantities of supplies quickly. Marideen stretched her legs as she looked around. She hoped she didn’t have as silly a look on her face as Danelle.  She could see now that the cargo room could easily have accommodated a ramp three times the size of their ships.

The cargo room had a gritty appearance, without all the decoration and comforts of a public area. The ground was made from a hard solid metal that clicked as she walked. The walls were made of a similar metal. The feeling that Marideen was residing in a metal box was only offset by the large hallways and the various assortments of vents, hubs, and gear hanging on the walls ready for use at a moment’s notice. It looked as if someone else had recently unloaded a lot of containers and had yet to move them out of the room, filling up about two-thirds of the space.

The containers were rectangular and gray, with ingrained circular screw tops as large as the rectangular shape would allow. Each container was about half the height of Marideen, much like the containers currently being unloaded from Marcell’s ship. They must be a very common design for transport. They sat in rows about four high, offering room between every other column for a single person to walk down.

As she continued to gawk at the scene, Marcell emerged from the ship. One of his subordinates approached him.

“It seems that this docking bay is full. Some unexpected merchandise came in last night and they have been behind schedule ever since,” The farmhand growled, scuffing his foot on the floor, his arms crossed anxiously, “They apparently want us to move all of our merchandise three hallways over to dock L.”

Marcell’s face gained an even more soured expression, “Just great, we’ll never be able to get out of here before…”

The farmer glanced at Marideen but she feigned disinterest, glancing at a container to avoid his look.

Marcell moved closer to the farmhand to speak, his voice barely within Marideen’s earshot, “Just move quickly, I don’t want to be here when things go down.”

He took one more look at Marideen before heading back into the ship. A hand fell of Marideen’s should, causing her to look up.

“Don’t worry,” Kate whispered, “I will take care of Danelle.”

A smile came to Marideen’s lips, “Well I certainly wasn’t going to trust Beiromon to do it.”

Kate returned the smile, a slight blush showing in her cheeks, “I… should get going, I need to find my special container before they confuse it for food and try to serve it to some dignitaries.”

“Have fun,” Marideen responded.

Kate’s eyes lit up, “Oh, I will. I hope you like the finale, I call it The Rumbler.”

Marideen didn’t know what she meant, but she nodded anyway. She watched as Kate walked over to Beiromon, who began to ask her something Marideen couldn’t hear. Marideen could see her face start to blush as she made one-word responses to whatever Beiromon was saying.

“I suppose it is time to get going,” Danelle sighed with a resigned look, “Good luck, sis.”

Danelle nodded once at Marideen before bounding towards Kate and Beiromon, quickly breaking up their awkward conversation with her presence.

Maximil moved up beside her. “She has her job to do, just like you. Don’t worry, we’ll make it.”

Markus came up on her other side, “She’s a smart girl, so I wouldn’t worry about her. You, on the other hand, you’re bound to get me killed.”

Marideen smiled as Maximil threw a glare at Markus.

“Let’s get going,” Marideen started walking down the wide hallways, marching as if on a mission.

Maximil and Markus looked at each other before they went over to a nearby container already loaded on a lift and began pushing it along. The container itself was identical to all the other vegetable containers, save for a small marking on it that signified it contained weapons and body armor. Danelle and her group pushed a similar container with slightly different markings, which also held Kate’s explosives.

The groups walked side by side, not daring to glance or look at each other for fear of drawing unwanted attention. Danelle’s group abruptly slowed before turning right down a smaller hallway that intersected the larger one. Marideen forced herself to not take one more look as her sister turned out of sight.

After walking through a very wide open blast door they entered a much smaller, more furnished hallway. The walls were white and clean, with handrails about waist-high on each side of the hallway. The floor was carpeted with a blue mosaic. Marideen was relieved to enter the carpeted hallway, which muffled the particularly noisy sound of the cart’s wheels.

“We’re coming up to a checkpoint,” Markus whispered over to Marideen.

She didn’t respond but nodded. This was the point they had to perform so much work towards. They had to get proper paperwork and permits. Danelle and Marideen had no record and were thus the only faces that could get the paperwork properly approved. With the help of some properly placed bribes, they had managed to get work permits to allow them to pass the checkpoints.

The checkpoint guards couldn’t care less about a handful of farmhands lugging around containers, but they would be interested in seeing the person whose name and face was all over the permits. Farmer’s often utilized family to help deal with matters of business, so it wouldn’t be abnormal to see a 16 or 19-year-old passing to deliver goods.

They slowed as they approached the checkpoint. There were two guards sitting next to a desk near a security terminal. A large sliding door made out of glass sat behind them. A lit red light sat above the door. As Marideen was told, the glass was unbreakable, and the door would only open if the right code was entered into the computer terminal. The codes themselves were specific to whoever was on duty. Only one of the guards had the capacity to open the door with his personal code. When the shift ended, the code changed to the next guard’s personal code.

Marideen quickly took a couple of steps forward before brandishing the paperwork. The guard raised an eyebrow but grabbed the paperwork before walking around to a terminal.

“Is this your first time at Vanderra?” The other guard asked, sitting casually in his chair.

He was a handsome man and had he not been the equivalent of the enemy at that particular time, with blond hair and nice blue eyes, she might have taken another look at him. The one behind the console with her paperwork was a much older man with white well-combed hair. Most likely, he was the experienced officer with the younger officer as his trainee.

“Daddy thought I ought to have more responsibility,” she responded.

All true, she had been told guards had been taught to catch liars. She always found the most convincing lies to be the truth. Albeit, she added a bit of an accent that she felt was believable for a farmer’s daughter.

The guard raised an eyebrow when he looked at her. She gave him a reassuring smile and met his eyes while keeping her head down in what she hoped was a submissive posture.

“Have you heard about the newest shipment of artifacts that just came in?” The guard asked her, smirking back.

“Why no, not at all,” Marideen remarked. She hadn’t after all.

The guard stood up and took a few steps towards her.

“Well, it turns out some nearby planet was full of relics or artifacts or something. Last night, the shipments came in. It was a little odd. They paraded the artifacts in like, well, some kind of parade. But then they suddenly got real secure and locked everything up tight near the cellblock. They won’t let anyone in or out without top level clearance. I never liked that, they parade all these containers and crap around, say they contain some mysterious artifacts from a mysterious civilization, then don’t let us see a one of them. Ain’t that just rotten, right Tom?” He turned back to the other guard.

The other guard glanced up from the computer screen, “They say the head archeologist on the project is a real bi-eee, um witch.”

The handsome guard, now in front of her, blushed a bit at his friend’s impolite slip.

“Yes, well, they say they found something. Something big. Like changing the empire big. The wit…um… Head architect was all in frenzy over it.”

“They say that one of her team members dropped one of the containers when loading them and she fired half of the team,” the guard named Tom added.

“Really?” Maximil piped in, “I’d expect some guys like us would be loading the containers.”

“Hah, she wouldn’t let guys like you anywhere near her artifacts,” The guard barked a laugh. “Erm… no offense.”

The guard started blushing again, Marideen tried to give him an innocent smile, but he seemed to blush even more.

“Well, it seems all your paperwork is in order, so we will just need to check the goods in the container and you should be set to go,” Tom finally said.

Marideen stifled a quick surge of panic, “We are taking fresh vegetables directly to the kitchens and Daddy says that they are sealed tight. If we open them now, they will start to spoil and…”

“No worries,” The handsome guard responded, “Your paperwork says it’s for the prison kitchens, I don’t think we will have too many complaints about the freshness of the vegetables from there. Oh, it’s okay, you won’t have to go through the cell block hallways or anything. The kitchen is outside the cell block.”

The guard must have seen a worried look on her face and guessed incorrectly as to her worries. She attempted to school her face and flashed him another smile to reassure him.

“Brice!” Tom barked.

The handsome guard, Brice, shook his head as if coming out of a trance, reaching down for the container. Marideen tensed as he reached past her, ready to land a killing blow if she had to. She had never killed a man before, but she had it in her. Did she? At least, she thought she did. Markus made the slightest hint of a shake of his head, stilling her from the move. With a small grunt, the man turned the circular top, hearing a hissing sound as the pressure was released, allowing fresh air into the container.

“Oh no!” The guards face twisted as he looked down into the container.

“What?” The other guard asked, a concerned look on his face.

“Asparagus,” He chuckled, holding up a piece of green vegetable between his thumb and forefinger as if it was a rat’s tail.

“So?”

“I hate asparagus, Lord, and Lady, it even smells without being cooked,” Brice said, tossing the vegetable back into its container before putting the top back on and twisting it shut.

Marideen let out a long breath she didn’t know she had been holding. She stifled a flash of panic. Was this the wrong container? This far and they brought the wrong container! A quick look at Markus, who seemed to have the hint of a self-certified smirk on his face, told her otherwise. It must have been his doing.

Another pang of worry hit Marideen as she thought about her little sister. Had Markus thought to do the same to their box? Of course, he did. But would their guards fall for the ruse like hers did, or would they check thoroughly?

“Well, you’re good to go. Good luck. If you need directions, the second checkpoint should be able to give them.” Tom nodded to them, not bothering to stand back up.

“Yes, of course,” Brice responded, putting a sticker with the sign of the Taerren empire on their container. It was multi-shaded, with a blood red circle in the middle of a six sided star.

Tom typed something into the terminal. A small click sounded before the light turned green and the doors slid open. Marideen flashed Brice one last smile before continuing on.

“Wait one second,” Brice said, lightly grabbing Marideen’s arm, letting go once she turned to face him, “You…you will be coming back the same way right?”

“Yes, of course, when I go back to Daddy’s ship,” she lied. Well, sometimes lies were okay.

“We-well I’ll see you soon then,” Brice smiled at her, taking a step back and a quick nod of his head.

Tom let out a chuckle and shook his head, muttering something about young people.

Marideen went ahead with Maximil and Markus pushing the container behind.  After the door closed behind them she let out a breath of relief. Once they were out of earshot Markus and Maximil caught up to her.

“What was that all about?” Maximil growled.

Marideen gave Max a confused look, “What do you mean?”

“It seems like you wanted to get us arrested, staring him down in the eyes, giving him that glare. You had him nervous as all get out. I’m surprised he didn’t detain you for questioning.”

Markus barked a laugh, “I think you have the situation all wrong. With all that smiling and eyelash batting I think he was ready to propose to her. If he did decide to detain her, it wouldn’t be for questioning, or at least, not the kinds of questions you have in mind.”

Marideen looked on ahead as she fought to prevent crimson from growing in her cheeks, “I have no clue what you are talking about. I was a proper farmer’s daughter…”

“All I can say is there is no shortage of want from guards for farmers’ daughters,” Markus let out a chuckle, shaking his head in amusement in much the same way Tom had.

Maximil had grown silent, apparently reassessing the information and wondering whether he should do the fatherly thing and return to the first checkpoint to make sure the boy didn’t get any ideas in his head. He apparently had decided against it as he shook his head vigorously before grabbing and pushing the container a little faster for a few paces, forcing Markus to take a few quick steps to catch up.

As they approached the second checkpoint, they saw two more guards playing cards on the limited bench space that they had available. One of the guards looked up as they neared. Seeing the seal on the container, he punched in the codes, causing the second glass doors to slide open, waving a hand in the air to let them pass as he studied his cards. They continued onward without stopping.

Tom had mentioned that they should ask for directions, but they had already acquired schematics for the building and had memorized their way weeks in advance. One of the few things to do on the long space flight aboard the Nevercan was studying the schematics again and again. Although now that she was there, the schematics didn’t exactly do the winding hallways justice.

“We’re past the checkpoints so that half of it is done,” Markus whispered, keeping his voice low, despite no one but them within earshot.

“Markus?” Marideen glanced over at him, “You thought to do the vegetable trick with Danelle’s group too right?”

Markus nodded, “It was actually Beiromon who thought of it, only two days ago. Can you imagine? All of that planning and we didn’t even think that they would want to check the canisters. We were one last ditched thought away from almost certainly failing this mission… Anyway, your sister overheard us and wanted to help. Lord knows Marcell wouldn’t part with a handful of vegetables. I think he has his heart in the right place, but… Well, you saw the aftermath of getting the vegetables. In the commotion, I was able to snatch enough vegetables to cover both containers two feet deep.”

Marideen quickly re-evaluated her little sister. Sneaky little brat, she should have given Marideen at least a bit of warning. Marideen shook her head slightly. Close call was an understatement for what they were. Why had her father not thought of such an obvious hole in this plan?

After walking through corridor after corridor, Markus eventually motioned them into a small room. The room was fairly barren, being an unused storage room. Mostly empty storage racks sat up on either side of the wall.

Markus smoothly opened the container. This time, it made a considerably quieter ‘hiss as the pressure had already been released from before. He began pulling out handfuls of asparagus, dumping them on the floor. Eventually, he pulled out several weapons, ammo, and a tool box. He pulled out several bars and two grill-like rectangular pieces.

Without a beat lost, Markus began smoothly assembling something. Maximil checked each cartridge of ammo before loading and cocking each gun, leaving them on safety for the time being. Marideen waited anxiously with her arms crossed, fighting the urge to start pacing in the already fairly cramped room.

As Markus began to assemble each of the legs, Marideen could tell it was a cart. Maximil, done with checking each of the guns, grabbed some clothing out of the container and tossed it at Marideen.

“Put this on, it’s our cover now,” Maximil told her.

Marideen blushed before glaring at the two men.

Maximil rolled his eyes, “I have powdered your naked bottom as a kid. I’ve seen you in less than your underwear plenty of times.”

Despite this, he turned around. Marideen had to give Markus an extra glare before he looked up from his work and noticed her. Sighing, he stood up and turned around as well.

She quickly pulled off the brown jumpsuit before putting on her new clothing. This was a two piece, consisting of scratchy cotton material, but it fits surprisingly well. The color of both the pants and shirt were a solid light blue. The pants fit snuggly while the shirt was loose, with a high v neck.

When Marideen had finished, Maximil turned back around and immediately began changing into a twin of her outfit, although sized for him. She quickly turned her back in respect. He grunted when he saw her back turned to him.

Markus finally finished the cart and quickly changed his clothing too to the same outfit they wore. Marideen turned back around to see Markus laying a cloth over the cart. He had several plastic plates, a plastic pitcher, and a plastic glass. He opened a small container, scooping out mush onto the plates, and pouring some dark liquid that looked like tea into the pitcher. Under the cart, Markus placed several of the larger gear that they couldn’t hide on their person. Marideen herself did not want to hold a gun, let alone use one. She would leave those tasks to the two men.

“If our sources are right and we gathered the right resources, we should look just like any prison kitchen staff delivering a meal. We should be able to walk right past the guards into the prison.” Markus said, half to himself.

“It’s the getting out part where things get fishy,” Maximil replied.

The three of them opened the door and walked out, beginning to head for the kitchen.

“Mari, your father asked me to have you sit this one out,” Maximil whispered to her as they walked on.

What?” Marideen yelled.

Markus glanced at her with a dirty look, so she lowered her voice, “I have already gotten this far.”

“Dairen doesn’t want you in danger. You got us past the check points; you did your job. Your new job is simply to get to the escape pods and secure us an exit when the bomb goes off. The outfit should be enough for that. When we let the prisoners out, if something goes wrong and fighting begins, you don’t need to get caught in the crossfire. More than that, it will simply look weird having three people there to pass out a single meal.

Marideen sighed. She supposed she could understand the last reason at least. She was honestly a little surprised; she never thought her father would change plans to accommodate her safety. They turned one more corner and to Marideen’s shock, Danelle stood in the middle of the hallway, looking lost.

When Danelle saw Marideen, her eyes and cheeks glistened with wetness. She ran down the hall towards them at full speed, her pace only slowing a few steps before she reached Marideen.

“Danelle, what..?” Marideen began.

“It’s Dad,” Danelle announced, gasping for breath as the tears fell. “They’ve got him.”

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My Top Ten ‘Another World’ Novels

So, as I continue to add books to the “List of Another World Web Novels”, this got me thinking about which books I like the most. I tend to be critical when I talk about books, stressing the things that bugged me over the things I liked… However, with a list of 50+ books, you’re probably wondering which books are the ones I actually think are worth reading. Or in other words, what are my top ten?

So if your time is precious, and you just want to know what I’d personally recommend, this is the list for you.

10. KonoSuba

What can you say about KonoSuba? This is a story full of awful people being awful to each other. Then again, Seinfeld was popular. So was Friends. KonoSuba is like those stories, but in another world coating. A group of dysfunctional heroes get together, and seemingly by accident, start to knock off the generals of the Demon King one at a time. It’s funny. It’s stupid. You’ll hate them and love them at the same time. I think this is probably one of the most consistently hilarious web novels you can find. Well, it did get approved for two seasons of an anime, so it must have something people love.

9. The Death Mage That Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time

I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed this one. It has a similar direction to Black Demon King in that bad things keep happing to this guy until he’s driven into a corner to the extent that he’ll likely be recognized as the next Demon King and become the enemy of God. The good thing is that in order to do this, the characters and the world actually make sense. In Black Demon King, they fall on cartoonishly evil characters that do this for no reason other than because they claim god tells them to. Death Mage does it better, the MCs rage and hatred for the people who wronged him didn’t come because they were cartoonishly evil, but from accidents, misunderstanding, and happenstance. God takes care of 100s of worlds and billions of people, to the point that he doesn’t even see one life as significant, so it makes sense when he ignores the Death Mage, and doesn’t really care about the abuse the Death Mage suffers because of his mistakes. Most everyone goes after him because they fear or hate him simply because of what he is. It can be a sad story, and a funny story, and while it isn’t as raw and brutal as certain other stories, it has great pacing, and amusing cast of characters, and has a mood that can actually change over time compared to the seemingly perpetual gloom and dread of Black Demon King.

8. My Disciple Died, Yet Again

It starts slowly, but it makes up for it by continually being hilarious. My Disciple Died, Yet Again, follows the tale of a developer brought into a Xian Xia world in order to fix all of the bugs. Bugs being the protagonists and antagonists that normally show up in these kinds of novels, whose actions would inevitably lead to the destruction of said world. It can be sad and heartwarming, but it is always hilarious, whether she’s peeking on the protagonist as he juggles girls in his harem, stealing one of his girls, or building a clan with the flick of her wrist, she’s just great, and so is this novel.

7. Arifureta

It should come as no surprise that a novel I spent a year translating which started this blog in the first place would be a novel I like. It shows up lower on my list for reasons I mention in my review. The story drags a bit, the change in tone is a bit meh, and the characters have little rhyme or reason to be all obsessed with the MC. Well, stories I truly don’t like tend to have nothing I can say about them, because they left no opinion on me, and I could talk about all of my quips about Arifureta all night long. It’s one of the better stories out there and the best “entire classroom transfers to another world” story I’ve read. The characters are memorable, and the idea of a guy dropped to his lowest point only to crawl back out and become Op’d is great.

6. In Another World With Summon and Support Magic

Better known as Boku wa Isekai, this one is a bit of a guilty pleasure. With a rather whiny protagonist, it can be annoying when you’d rather punch him in the face than deal with him. However, there is something great about the way this story is. Everything takes place in only a day per volume. You can feel the weight of the struggle to survive, as every distraction means more of the class is being murdered by orcs. It gives me a satisfying blend of survival horror mixed with RPG. If you can get over the often one-dimensional characterization, it’s honestly a fun wish fulfillment story as the bullied weakling becomes leader of the middle-school girls. It’s one of the very few another world RPG stories that actually considers group tactics and uses them as part of the story.

5. Shinka no Mi

Admittedly, the protagonist is a really whiny guy, constantly tsukkomi-ing the crazy world he’s found himself in, but that aside, there is something hilariously great about a guy who keeps getting ridiculously stronger even while he’s desperately trying to reign it in. The cast of characters are great, and when my biggest complaint is that the translator is translating it way too slow… that’s got to mean something.

4. Shield Hero

Shield Hero was one of my first experiences with another world novels, and still probably one of the best. It does get very long winded in the end, to the point I was skipping through arcs just to finish things up. Still, it had many memorable events that are hard to forget, and it achieved an epicness that many stories fail to. It ended on a note completely unlike it started, going from a jaded and persecuted hero just trying to do what’s right to a celebrated hero battling a god, but I think it’ll always have a place as one of the big stories that defined this genre.

3. Against the Gods

Some might argue it’s not ‘another world’, because he resurrects on the same planet… technically… although it’s a Xian Xia planet and the continent he started on is so far away  (it’s about twice the distance as traveling to the moon) that it might as well be another world. Plus, other worlds exist, and the story will clearly have him leaving his world eventually. This is a repetitive novel that uses the same formula over and over again, always upping the ante. Best in the region, oh, but you live in the smallest, most pathetic region. Best in the nation. Oh, but you live in the smallest, most pathetic nation. Best in the continent? Oh, but that is just one of three continents. Best in the world? Oh, that’s just one world of many. I’ve read many Xian Xia novels, and this is the only one I found myself returning to. Something about it just keeps me interested, even though the main character is closer to a villain than a good guy, no matter how much the story wants to convince you he’s not.

2. Dominion’s End

Although plagued with throwing too many elements at you, but the good thing about it always throwing something at you is that it never gets boring. I find Dominion’s End to be one of the most interesting stories being released. I keep going back to it and waiting for more chapters, and I just love everything this story has to offer. I like gender benders, so a woman trapped in a pretty boy’s body is hilarious. He has a deep and complex personality, conflicted between the need to survive and desire to protect his family. Once again, my biggest complaint on this story is that it doesn’t release faster.

Runner Ups:

Fimbulwinter:  This one would be on my list, except as an English written amazon novel with mature content, it technically shouldn’t be on my ‘another world’ list at all. However, the high octane adventure filled with colorful characters, fast quips, and great action makes it testosterone filled wish-fulfillment on speed.

Wizard With the Flower Blades: A good story, but ultimately a bit too generic. If it tried something a bit more original, the quality writing and setup would have excelled, but instead, it stuck savagely to the cliches, and thus was only a good example of everything you’ve already read.

Going Back and Forth Between Earth and The Other World with Space Time Magic: It was between this one and Death March. Some people like one, Some people like the other. To me, they are both slice of life done right, but the focus on a smaller group of characters and older in age cause this one to slightly win out. However, being a slice of life also causes the issue that the story is never really going anywhere, which keeps it from being higher on my top ten list.

1.  Release That Witch

I said as much in my another world list, but I can’t stress enough how much I love Release That Witch. A novel that functions more like a fantasy epic than a light novel, it’s full of strong characters, good pacing, logical progression, and a character whose only OP power is his college education. The female characters are strong. While it’s very much a harem, the women respect him on a level that approaches adult-like. It does frequently have chapters that focus on other characters, which can range from world-building and insightful to boring and just wishing they’d get back to the main character. I know this web novel might not be for everyone, but it’s one of a handful of novels on this list that felt like it deserves to be published, and so it makes it on my top list.

 

What is your top ten list?

Reincarnated As A Villager – Strongest Slow-life – Chapter 12

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Finishing loading the firewood took about an hour.

But, what. It has already been ten years since I’ve been in this world but my old sense of time did not go away.

If you live out in the country such as this, you only need to know the morning, evening, day, and night. The elders of the village use intuition and experience to know when they need to sow the wheat, and the time for the Harvest Festival is determined by the village head. There is a census for the year of birth, gender, and seasons. However, there are not more than five people in the village who knew how to follow those dates.

By the way, I also know what day of the month today is, but I usually don’t care because it’s enough to know the four seasons, morning, and night. You can use the sun’s relation to the mountain, but when the mountain hides the sun you can’t tell the time.

When I have to know the time, I check the year clock and sundial in the garden. It isn’t accurate because it’s handmade, and you can’t read it when the weather is bad, but it’s no problem. Time in the country is fuzzy.

I soon could see the two of them.

They’re still at it.

Tota and Sepuru are both still engrossed in magic training.

Is it in our blood, or is it my influence that causes Sepuru to differ from normal girls? As opposed to being fashionable and wanting dolls, she instead wants to cook, use magic, and hear stories.

Well, she is who she is. It’s fine as long as she does what she likes. But between Sepuru and Tota, which would leave the house first.

Of course, it is fine if they stay here too. It is common around here for up to three generations to live in the same house.

Well, with my powers and Earth magic, I’ll build Sepuru a house when she gets married.

Am I thinking too far into the future?  Speaking of which, am I going to bring food the grandma?

I go around to the back of the house, entering the storage I had created with Earth magic.

Although I call it a storage warehouse, it can also serve as a shelter. The entrance and exit are hidden with barriers so that it is impossible for anyone other than family to enter it even if they found it by chance.

Once I entered, I immediately could see our stored goods. Besides staples, I also had stored rails and agricultural machinery so there is no risk of it being stolen, and also kept all the tools that are part of my side jobs that no one else would know what to do with.

There is a passage in the back, and it goes to the landing of the stairway in four meters.

If you go down you reach the residential area and if you go up you reach the storage. By the way, the lights are created with barrier magic. I never imagined that barrier magic would be able to capture light, but this mysterious power is super convenient.

“Indeed, dust builds up like a mountain, doesn’t it?”

I haven’t been here recently because I left things to Sepuru for the last year, but it has indeed become full.

My barriers are also able to stop time, it doesn’t matter even if the food is piping hot. But ultimately there is too much saved.

“What else should I do besides take it to grandma’s place?”

After taking it out, the shelf life is only about ten days. If you look at the whole, that’d only be about 1% of the total.

“What to do…”

If I made another storage room, it’d be full in about two years. I’d sell it but the barrier magic is a secret. Grandma and everyone else think it is magic, but it’s not normal magic.

It worries me if this were to get out so I won’t do it intentionally. If it got out, I could be kidnapped and turned into a slave or something, what kind of joke would that be?

“I could become a peddler.”

That would make things convenient and I could use my abilities without reserve.

“I could always just keep bringing it over to grandma.”

I filled a basket made from barrier and headed back outside.

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