The decennial memorial service of the Imperial Military.
The teenager’s eyes sprang open as he came to in a frightful jolt.
Like rolling thunder, rumbles echoed from near and far. Gleaming, blood red artillery lit up the night sky. Beneath the immense shadow cast by the descending battleship, faint vibrations shook the ground. The sounds of explosions from the distance came in rapid succession.
As the teenager struggled to sit up in the fluid filled chamber, he discovered there was not a stitch of clothing on his body. Surrounding him was a vast industrial wasteland. Many scrap pieces of instrument parts lay about, and broken electrical wires protruded from the ground, emitting blue electrical sparks that were accompanied by buzzes.
Simply put, this was a desolate graveyard.
The shivering teenager stared at both of his hands, his mind a blank slate, while countless questions rushed to the forefront of his mind.
—Who am I? What is this place?
—Why am I here?
“Research site number two, sweep completed. Proceed to the East Zone. Proceed to the East Zone……” Abruptly, indistinct sounds of people arose from nearby. The teenager turned his head, and as expected, several soldiers dressed in black protective gear appeared, leading a dog in his direction.
Making a hasty decision on the spot, the teenager clumsily turned himself over to climb out of the chamber. Catching sight of an old fashioned lab coat hanging on the side of the chamber, left behind from some long forgotten time, he wasted no time grabbing it and wrapped himself in the coat.
“What was that…… There’s someone! Don’t run!”
The large dog began barking furiously, immediately alerting the soldiers to the movement over here. They began running in this direction. The teenager looked around in panic, instinct driving him to flee. This led to him taking not even two steps before he heard a “bang” from behind, and a bullet flew right past his heel!
“Stop running! Or we’ll shoot!”
The teenager didn’t know why he felt the need to flee. A frenzied fear took root and overwhelmed his entire being. He could sense the large dog, like an arrow in hot pursuit, its sharp teeth only a step away from snapping at his own neck—
By a stroke of luck, strewn across the ground were countless bulky junk apparatuses. At a critical juncture, the teenager had ducked for cover, and the large dog slammed headlong into a partially damaged metal panel.
Several soldiers bellowed, “Halt!” “There’s a target overlooked here!” “Notify Sweeper Team Group B. Quickly!”
The teenager panted as tension coiled within him. As soon as he caught sight of some sharp metal pieces on the ground, he threw himself over to snatch one.
Just as he got up, two more large dogs arrived howling.
In a split second, as if time stretched unbounded, all motion slowed down to a stop—The teenager’s arm swung up and gave a backhand thrust with the improvised sharp metal dagger. He pierced straight through the savage dog’s bloodthirsty jaws!
A sudden spray of blood spurted out. Letting loose a whine, the large dog toppled over to the ground!
The teenager hardly had the chance to gain a firm foothold, when the final monstrous black dog pounced without warning. Its enormous body, over three meters in length, swooped down, its teeth locked onto the teenager’s throat with precision.
When the teenager registered what was happening, it was too late to move out of the way. Right when his life hung by a thread, he dropped down to a kneeling backbend, his body perpendicular to the ground, arching in the shape of a U. Grasping the dagger with both hands, he flipped his wrist back for a hard thrust!
Pcchh, the blade sank into flesh. The momentum of the large dog was so fierce that it didn’t have the chance to fall to the ground. Instead, it continued flying in the air across the blade.
With a howl rending the air, the chest of the giant beast’s heavy body was sliced open in midair. As the solid muscle and bones posed a powerful resistance to the blade, in the same breath, the blade cut deeply into the teenager’s palm—followed closely by a column of animal blood spilling down onto him, drenching the teenager’s entire head and face!
“This……. This…….” The gory scene shocked the soldiers into silence. They then quickly rallied to continue the chase, bellowing, “Don’t move! Or we’ll really shoot!”
The teenager ruthlessly shook off the large dog’s carcass, staggering in a direction up ahead to escape. Bullets following closely in the wake of his footsteps impacted the ground. With a heightened sense of fear, the teenager searched for cover in the open area, his life dependent on it. A few metal apparatuses lying broken and scattered around the ground were suddenly riddled with holes by a storm of bullets.
“You can’t escape!” “Halt!” “Surrender!”
The teenager gasped for breath as desperation coursed through him. Quickly scanning the open area, he saw a deep trench cutting across the land. Without thinking, he leapt down.
But soon afterwards, his feelings turned to regret.
Nothing laid at the bottom of the trench. There was not a single object that could provide the tiniest amount of cover. From the top to bottom it was empty.
The teenager hastily tightened the lab coat around himself. Gritting his teeth, he climbed up the broken rocks to ascend to the other side.
Blood dripped from his palms, but the sharp pain did not affect his climbing speed. Gasping harshly, he grabbed a hold of a rock and pulled himself up. Just as he saw that he had nearly reached the surface, a hand suddenly extended down from the topside to grab him by the arm.
That very sturdy hand contained enormous strength. It hauled him out of the deep trench and threw him to the ground with a thud.
Countless pairs of hands immediately pushed him down and restrained him, and an ice-cold muzzle pressed against his temple.
“No…… let go! Let me go!”
Because he hadn’t spoke in many years, the teenager’s husky voice nearly cracked, breaking shrilly. However, his ensuing struggle was futile in the face of this group of well-trained soldiers. Very quickly, someone violently cuffed his hands to the back and ruthlessly shoved him to the ground.
“Let me go…… Please, I’m begging you! Let me go!”
The Colonel, the one to handcuff him tight, stood up and signaled to his armed subordinates standing nearby to keep their guard up. After that, he turned heel and called out respectfully, “General Aaron.”
The man who had previously hauled the teenager out of the deep trench, stood by the edge of the pit with his brows creased.
“Group A discovered him in an abandoned chamber from the Eastern research site. It is unknown if he has any connection with the fugitive army, but he appears to be…… a test subject.”
As the Colonel spoke, he turned his head to give a wordless command with his eyes. His subordinates promptly turned the teenager around while keeping him under heavy restraint, exposing his wan and flustered face.
“What is your name?”
The teenager turned his face to the side at the bright glare of the flashlight. Faint tremors of fear and embarrassment passed through him. The lab coat, disheveled in the struggle, barely covered the hunched-up body.
The Colonel was about to loudly repeat the question, when General Aaron abruptly raised a hand, cutting him off. “General……?”
Aaron took the flashlight over and shifted the beam to the shiny nameplate on the chest of the labcoat. On it was engraved several letters—Gavin.
“Gavin,” the General murmured, “It’s been a long time since I met someone that went by this name.”
The muzzle of the gun held by the Colonel shook. He looked at his own superior in a silent query but watched the General shake his head resolutely.
“Why? If he’s a test subject……”
“He’s an Omega. Can’t you tell?” Aaron continued, “According to the Empire’s newly enacted Protection of Vulnerable Genders law, it is forbidden to harm an Omega captured on the battlefield in any way. What’s more, he’s a minor.”
The Colonel suddenly became dumbstruck. It was only now that he could detect the faint scent of the Omega pheromones mingled amongst all the blood covering the teenager’s body.
But it was in fact an extremely weak scent. Only a large quantity of suppressants injected regularly would have the capacity to suppress the scent to this sort of degree—Aside from that, his whole body was covered by the dense scent of animal blood. The group of Alphas at the scene all shared confounded looks, surprised that not one of them could distinguish this teenager’s scent.
The Colonel damn near had a heart attack. He came this close to killing a rare Omega who was both healthy and young. Even on the battlefield, this was without a doubt a felony.
“Send him to the medical unit. I want to know what the fugitive army was researching here.” Aaron straightened up. Removing his uniform jacket, he tossed it onto the teenager’s body.
“—Bind him securely.”
When Gavin woke up again, he found himself lying on a hospital bed, his left hand handcuffed to the ice-cold, bedside iron railing.
He sat up with difficulty and was greeted by the sight of a sterile and spacious sick bay, the snow white metal walls exuding an ominous cold luster.
“You’ve woken up?”
Gavin spun his head around. He saw the sick bay door glide open soundlessly, and Aaron entered carrying a food tray.
The General appeared exceptionally youthful and sturdy in build; it must have taken many rounds of genome editing to achieve this state of perfection. The pure black Imperial Military uniform evoked a sense of dignity, along with gravitas. The silver stars on his epaulettes and the gun at his waist created a striking appearance, granting him a particularly overwhelming air of intimidation.
He lightly set the food tray on top of the stand in front of the sickbed. “Have something to eat.”
The contents of the food tray was surprisingly fresh and bountiful. It even had fruits that were in season, a rare commodity on the battlefield. There was no need to ask if this was an Omega’s preferential treatment.
However, Gavin had no desire whatsoever to eat. He stared coldly at Aaron. The depths of his black eyes glittered with a calm and unnatural brightness. Moments passed before he asked, “Who are you?”
“A general of the Gemini Empire,” Aaron paused. Remaining composed under the pressure, he asked, “What about you?”
Aaron dragged a chair over to sit by the hospital bed, his bearing utterly unhurried. “Do you know where this is?”
“I will inform you. This is one of the most remote regions of the Empire’s territory, Hongtu1 of the Ophiuchus Constellation. The science and technology level here lags behind the Imperial capital by a full half a century. Nine years ago, a division of the fugitive army covertly infiltrated here to conduct highly secretive human experimentations. After the incident was exposed, His Majesty the Emperor dispatched me as an emissary of the Imperial fleet to this place. An indiscriminate bombardment was then launched at the Northern Hemisphere of Hongtu, lasting half a month.”
“There are no survivors of the fugitive army left.” Aaron leaned in, gazing into Gavin’s attractive eyes. “—On the battlefield, it is forbidden to kill an Omega, but in the event in which you continue to stubbornly resist, I have ten thousand ways to make you wish that you’d rather be dead than alive.”
Gavin’s pupils dilated slightly. A while later, he stated, “I’m not with the fugitive army.”
“Then who are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“What is your surname?”
“Then why did you appear here?”
“Don’t know. I don’t remember anything.”
Aaron scrutinized him, seemingly weighing if there was any truth to his claims.
Gavin clenched his teeth tightly, feeling a slight ache from the muscles in his whole body that were stretched tautly. He didn’t know how long passed before he heard Aaron’s quiet voice, filled with menace, “You had better not be lying…… This is a military camp. Do you know how many Alphas are confined in here who have never seen what an Omega looks like?”
Compared to, “I have ten thousand ways to make you wish that you’d rather be dead than alive”, this clear-cut threat was far more realistic and could even be put into practice; if not for the mention of military camp, this line of talk was enough to convict him of sexual harassment.
“…… Are you threatening me?”
“If that’s what you think,” Aaron stared at the teenager’s wan face. Satisfied with what he saw, he stood up saying, “Then, yes.”
Yes, my ass.
As Aaron stepped out of the sick bay, the metal door silently swung shut behind him.
It was exactly the way he said it. At present the ratio of the three ABO genders was critically skewed. Maybe there really were many Alphas that could only dream of knowing how an Omega looked like. However, Aaron, who served as one of the Gemini Empire’s founding generals, was definitely not counted amongst them.
Although he was still a proud (and regrettably), highly eligible bachelor, he understood quite clearly how fragile an Omega could be; they were sensitive, timid, and would collapse with a single blow. This type of human physique resembled jelly, soft and weak. Under normal circumstances, let alone facing three large dogs enhanced for military use, the common cold was enough to send them to the hospital for a half month’s stay.
Since the founding of the Empire, it was as though the Empire had been cursed. The annual Omega premature mortality rate kept increasing at an alarming rate. Last year’s newly conducted census highlighted that the three ABO gender ratio had already changed to a terrifying 25:5000:1—That “1” even took into account newborn infants. During the growth phase, at least a quarter of the young Omegas would die prematurely due to various causes.
The number of Omegas determined the quality of the population. Because the Beta birth rate was low and generally produced more Beta offsprings, when the AO ratio became greater than 10:1, the birth rate of the elite Alphas who served as the leaders of mankind, would become negative; When the AO ratio became greater than 20:1, the entire population would undergo negative growth.
To the Empire that lost ten billion people not long ago in the battle to found their nation, this was an immense pressure that they were living under.
The military scientists had employed all kinds of means to reduce the Omega infant mortality rate. Sadly, their efforts had been fruitless. The experts even issued a pessimistic forecast: In forty years, the AO ratio would expand to 50:1. By that time, they would have a huge problem trying to control the sex crime rate, and the birth rate wouldn’t even be something for them to be concerned about.
Even if he was not an expert, Aaron was aware of how foreboding the future appeared.
But this teenager named Gavin brought him new hope.
The teenager was without a doubt an Omega, but his genetic characteristics were nearly similar to that of an Alpha of the same age; at the same time he passed the blood tests, proving his reproductive functions had not suffered any side-effects from his alpha-like characteristics.
In this location, the fugitive army had been researching ways to enhance the Omega genes. Against all odds, they had succeeded.
In the face of the Empire’s annual population growth decline, this was simply having a savior fall into one’s lap.
Aaron didn’t look back as he issued an order to a subordinate, “Assign some men to set up a perimeter around the sick bay. Without my order, do not even let a single fly enter. In addition, send men to shore up the Hongtu defenses. In one week, it will be the Marshal’s fiftieth death anniversary. I don’t want to see any mistakes!”
“Yes, sir!” The Colonel gave a respectful salute, turned heel, and departed in large strides.
In accordance with the Imperial Constitution, nowadays, the only one that could be named Marshal, besides the Emperor, was that person who fought to the death on Hongtu fifty years ago—The last to serve in the position, the Alliance’s military god, Gavin Silla.
Aaron was a loyal warrior. His devotion to the Empire could be regarded as the sun and the moon in the sky2, but from the perspective as a soldier, his worship of Marshal Silla was an absolute certainty.
—This was nothing to be censured over. Such worship was virtually an open secret within the Empire. Nearly all those who fought against the Galaxy at the Emperor’s side to found the nation had defected from Silla’s own forces—before publicly betraying the Alliance, they were all at one point Marshal Silla’s loyal subordinates. Even the Emperor himself was the Captain of the Guard.
After the defeat of the Alliance, Marshal Silla refused to surrender and committed suicide. This continued to be an immense shadow in the hearts of the Imperial Military, which hadn’t changed in half a century.
To express their grief, every ten years they held a secret memorial service on Hongtu. In the eyes of the high-ranking military officers, those who helped found the Empire, this rite had no difference to making a pilgrimage.
Subsequently, when reports of the fugitive army conducting illegal human experimentations on Hongtu were released, the entire Imperial Military went into an uproar.
“Who dares to be impudent on Hongtu! Blast their entire family!”
“Suppress the fugitive army! Have them wiped from the face of the Galaxy!”
The founding General Aaron personally led the capital’s Ninth Fleet—the only elite combat force division made up entirely of Alphas within the Empire—in a grand procession to Hongtu. Half a month later, the interminable artillery barrage had leveled the entire planet.
—Whoever moves the apple of my eye, I’ll dig out their family jewels!3 The brave and intrepid (though brainless) Imperial Military once again demonstrated this point with their actions to the entire cosmos.
TLC by Alex PT
Edited by Uni