Note: Suicide squad changed to Suicide unit
It was a common occurrence for soldiers of both private and state armies who have committed a crime to be assigned to dangerous missions to absolve themselves. However, the Demonic Battlefront was unlike other battlefields in the sense that the repercussions were significant and the enemies were existences to be feared. The ratio of deserters was significantly higher than other battlefields which made strict military discipline a requirement. The suicide unit was one of the measures set forth to manage the frontlines of the Demonic Realm.
The soldiers of the frontlines of the Demonic Realm treated being assigned to the suicide unit as a death sentence. It was because the casualty rate was at 90%, but as far as anyone could tell, the 90% was simply an approximation, and the suicide unit almost always met with complete annihilation. As someone that served on the frontlines of the Demonic Realms the longest, there was no way that Sungchul didn’t know of this matter.
“What is the suicide unit?”
He responded to Bertelgia’s question with a brief answer.
“A fish on a chopping block.”
Sungchul followed the road to the recruitment centre to put in a request as a mercenary. As the battlefront always had a need for soldiers, their background check was considerably loose. The mercenaries that came to the frontlines were almost always criminals or debtors escaping their debts. Being stringent with the check would only reduce the amount of soldiers that were willing to fight on the frontlines.
“What will be your branch of service?”
A recruitment officer with a grotesque scar in the shape of a devil’s claw across his face asked the question with a grave voice.
“There are more than a few type of mages… do you specialise in dimensional magic? Supporting magic? Combat specialist?”
Sungchul added one more thing.
“What good is Alchemy… Just forget about that one unless you want to be stuck in a factory pumping out potions.”
When the military branch was selected, the recruitment officer asked regarding his desired frontline.
“How about the battlefront supervised by the Varan-Aran Tribal Alliance? It’s a good opportunity to get close to some pretty elf women.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t get it up.”
“Oh… that’s quite awful.”
“I want to go to the Storm Battlefront.”
“Storm Battlefront… well, it might be better for a man that can’t get it up to end up in a place full of dwarves.”
The matter got wrapped up at a rapid pace. Sungchul got dispatched to the Storm Battlefront as a mercenary mage. The location that he was dispatched to was a small fortress known as the Black Hills, and it worked out fine since he caused trouble from the very first day he arrived.
“White Phantom! I hereby transfer you to the suicide unit for violence towards a superior officer, insubordination, and destruction of property!”
After the order was passed down, Sungchul had a cloth with the number 34 written on it forcibly attached to his ragged coat.
At Sungchul’s question, the soldier who was sewing it onto him answered curtly.
“What do you mean what is it? It’s your prisoner number.”
Sungchul was efficiently sent to the suicide unit of the frontlines. It was even decided that he was to be transported by a Griffin. The rider of the Griffin laughed loudly as he dropped Sungchul off.
“This will be your burial grounds. Recruit, it is suitable for idiots like you that fuck up on day 1!”
“I might be back in about two weeks. Let’s see if you’re still alive by then!”
The Griffin blew up a storm as it ascended into the sky and headed north. Sungchul looked around his surroundings. There were several tents that appeared to belong to the suicide unit within the basin area surrounded by hills. Sungchul compared the number of tents with the number of wood-burning stoves to estimate their headcount.
‘Approximately 300 people?’
However, the number was revealed to be closer to 100 members. They told him that they suffered heavy casualties that cost them half of their members in a major battle recently.
The vice-captain of the suicide unit, Genghis Ahron, was a middle-aged man that looked as ferocious and wily as a panther. He appeared as though he could hold his own in a fight, and it reflected his ability. He was a former Swordmaster of the Ancient Kingdom in the ranks of superhuman people who had over 300 points in Strength, Dexterity and Endurance each. However, his nickname within the suicide unit was Rockhead. He was an idiot who couldn’t even manage simple mathematics.
“Welcome. Number 34. To the Suicide unit that is.”
He quickly scanned through the documents that Sungchul brought with his eyes before speaking in what sounded like a mutter.
“Now let’s see here… Assault of a superior officer and insubordination… with a bit of property damage for fun? Let me just let you know one thing.”
Rockhead smirked and pulled out his blade part-way.
The unusual blade wrapped in a violet light revealed itself.
“Insubordination against me means no more neck.”
When the warning ended, a stumpy dwarf approached Sungchul
“Is the warning done? Number 34?”
It wasn’t an exhibition, but the dwarf was draped in a massive armour that had the number 0 written on a cloth attached to its chest.
“Who might you be?”
“I am the head honcho of the suicide unit, ‘Hell Fist’ Arkaard.”
Arkaard showed Sungchul the fist that he was so proud of. The steel gauntlet wrapped around his fingers sparkled with the phrase ‘Hell Fist’.
“However, just call me number 0. That’s the Suicide unit tradition!”
“Anyways… there are no officers here, commissioned or not. There were both in the past, but they all ate shit during our last battle.”
“I’m looking for a mercenary mage by the name of Deckard.”
“Deckard? Ah, are you talking about number 22?”
Arkaard’s face lost composure for a moment.
“Does he happen to be dead?”
Sungchul immediately followed up with another question, but Arkaard shook his head.
Amazing. Bertelgia shook her body from joy in Sungchul’s stead.
“But, that friend will not live much longer.”
“Did he receive a critical wound?”
Arkaard shook his head once again.
“No, he continues to volunteer himself to the most dangerous missions. It’s as though he came to this place to die.”
“I wish to meet him at least once. Where can I find him?”
Arkaard pointed toward a particular tent. It was a cosy tent placed next to a pointed rock that looked like the blade of a spear. Sungchul displayed the appropriate amount of formality before excusing himself and headed towards the tent that Deckard was supposedly residing in.
He could hear the sound of blades clashing and ragged breaths being drawn near the tent. It was the sound of two men sparring. One was wielding a sword while the other wielded a staff, and they were sparring with such intensity as if they were fighting on the battlefield itself.
The one wielding the sword ended in victory, and the one with the staff dropped his weapon and fell onto his butt while sighing loudly.
“Isn’t this enough? Deckard?”
The one wielding the sword asked.
Sungchul’s sights turned towards the man referred to as Deckard. He was well past middle age, but his face still had remnants of the youth of his past. He looked more like Sarasa than Altugius.
The man looked too tired to even lift his own body, yet he called out for another challenge. The one wielding the sword firmly declined.
“I’d rather not exhaust myself before a battle. We never know when we’re going to be sent in, so let’s just call it quits here.
After the spar ended, the onlookers scattered. Sungchul waited for the onlookers to disappear before he approached Deckard standing by himself.
“Are you Deckard?”
Deckard was still breathing quite heavily as he looked up towards Sungchul.
“Who are you? I don’t think I’ve seen you before?”
Sungchul handed him the item he had received from Altugius. Deckard’s face lit up in surprise.
“How did you get a hold of this?”
“Professor Altugius sends me to you. He told me to seek you if I sought to raise my magic power substantially within the shortest amount of time.”
“Ah, you’ve voluntarily come to the suicide unit for such a purpose?”
“It isn’t the time for me to choose my methods.”
“Could I take a look at your stats then?”
Sungchul agreed to Deckard’s request. Deckard pulled out a scroll, which he ripped apart, then he looked at Sungchul’s stats. Laughter soon exploded from his mouth.
“Quite the balls on you. I’d rather not say this right off the bat, but isn’t it excessive to come to the frontlines in the Demonic Realm with only that level of stats? If I may be cruelly honest from our first meeting, I think you’ll just drag us down, never mind raising any stats.”
Deckard harshly criticised Sungchul.
“However, isn’t this place as such that I can return no longer?”
Sungchul had received the order to complete five missions under the suicide unit. If he left the suicide unit before completing this order, he would be considered as a deserter. Sungchul was referring to this fact.
Deckard simply looked indifferent. He put on the shirt dangling under the tent and spoke again.
“The only reason I have come here is to push myself to my limits. It was for the express purpose of cultivating fast growth that I have constantly placed myself in dangerous and difficult-to-overcome situations. Such as the man now called the Enemy of the World had done.”
Deckard would never know even in his wildest dreams that the man he spoke of as the Enemy of the World was standing right before him. He continued speaking.
“It’s not really a boast, but I have built this body through considerable training to be a powerful mage and warrior. Thanks to this, I was able to preserve at least my life through many dire situations during my missions. How about you? I would imagine it’d be difficult to survive.”
“If I do survive?”
Sungchul retorted in a calm voice.
“If I do survive, will you impart what you know to me?”
Deckard looked deep into Sungchul’s face, then spoke curtly.
“Rockhead is planning some stupid plan for tomorrow right at this moment. Try and survive that. If you do, I’ll let you in on a quest.”
The next day.
As Deckard had said, Rockhead gathered all the members of the unit. 80 lifers had gathered excluding the injured. He stood on a podium and spoke in a uselessly heroic voice.
“As you all know, the demon scouts have assaulted a particular guard post affiliated with our Storm Battlefront. That guard post itself doesn’t have much importance, but what matters is its location. Headquarters says that we must recapture that guard post regardless of the costs.”
Rockhead spoke of his plan next.
“Currently, our numbers are at 83 members. 20 in the north, 20 in the east, 20 in the west, and the final 20 will come with me and attack the fortification from the south.”
Surprisingly, that was the entire plan. Rockhead didn’t impart any idea on how each designated unit will coordinate with each other or move at all. He only had an attack from every side on his mind.
“If we attack from every side, the demons will not be able to endure it!”
It was truly a thoughtless plan, but no one dared to say another word. The fact that Rockhead was feared for his strength was one thing, but they also knew that he wasn’t a man to be reasoned with.
Rockhead soon divided all of the troops into 4, and the veteran soldiers were designated as the leader of each group. Each group composed of a unit of 20 was given a magic scroll for signalling, and their march towards death began.
Sungchul entered the unit designated as the third group. The strategy went along relatively smoothly, and the suicide unit arrived at the guard post with no major issues. They then encircled the guard post containing the demons.
“Let us go, my fellow brethren of sin!”
Rockhead held his blade up high.
A bluish aura emanated from the violet-tinted blade. It was the speciality of a Sword Master: Sword Aura. He stood at the front to lead the attack.
“Follow me! Let us all be atoned!”
The demons stationed on the guard post were mostly weaklings, and their numbers were few. Rockhead climbed the post wall and climbed onto the watch tower. The demons could do nothing but be helplessly slain by his blade. The guard post was recaptured quite easily. No casualties. It was all over before the eastern and northern soldiers could even begin their attack.
“Isn’t this too easy?”
The veteran soldiers began to feel anxious. The all-important strategic point had been hollowed out with nothing but bait. If the demons intended to defend the guard post, there would be a Balrog at the very least or a Baal-grade demon or two, but only feeble goblins and imps were all that were stationed at the guard post.
The soldiers felt a sense of Deja Vu. The situation unfolding in the current moment seemed extremely similar to the last battle, one where half of the suicide units had fallen in a tragic combat. Finally, a veteran soldier, Arkaard, sent a word to Rockhead.
“Commander, I think the demons gave up the guard post a bit too easily. It reeks of a trap. It might be good to fall back for now, and watch their movements.”
This head of rock wasn’t one to listen to reason. He instead raged at Arkaard and criticised him.
“What kind of pussy talk is that? Number 0! Can you call yourself a suicide unit member after such talk?”
“But… it just doesn’t feel right. Didn’t we lost half of our unit in a similar fashion last battle?”
Normal people would feel discouraged after experiencing such utter defeat, but Rockhead wasn’t as such. He spoke boldly without a hint of shame on his face.
“Even if this was the trap of those demons, we must hold our ground!”
He dug into his position further by gathering the soldiers and relaying a speech in a heroic voice once more.
“Our mission is to secure the guard post until the main forces arrive. The first stage has been completed successfully. All that is left is to hold this guard post until our lives are spent. Hold your grounds, my brothers!”
Deckard who heard the speech let out a frosty retort.
“I don’t recall having such a brother.”
Sungchul was in agreement too, and soon the gut feeling became a reality. Five soldiers deserted. One of the deserters were caught by Rockhead and hung as an example, but that was only the beginning. When the sun fell, signs of demons began to appear from all over.
“Objects suspected to be Hell Siege Engines detected! Approaching from the north!”
“A swarm of imps suspected in the hundreds climbing the mountain ridge and approaching from the west.”
“One Balrog confirmed! More than two Baal-grades approaching as well.”
When the darkness fell, the Suicide unit composed of 80 members were surrounded by devils and demonfolk in the thousands.
“Didn’t I say so? It’s not so easy surviving in this place.”
Deckard spoke in a silence appropriate for the Storm Battlefront after approaching Sungchul. He handed Sungchul a single scroll. It was a long-distance teleportation scroll.
“If you rip this scroll, you’ll be teleported to the orange-tinted mountaintop that is the suicide unit headquarters.”
“Why are you giving this to me?”
Sungchul bluntly threw out his question. Deckard simply scratched his head.
“You seem to have Alchemist within your classes. If the situation seems disadvantageous just rip the scroll and bow down to the Storm Battlefront liaison and beg for forgiveness. In exchange for being pulled out of the suicide unit, you can receive a pardon through slave labour in a potion factory. Isn’t it better working to the bone for two years than dying?”
It appeared as though Deckard had been giving Sungchul a lot of consideration. However, his concerns were misplaced. Sungchul returned the scroll and asked another question in a calm voice.
“The promise from before. Is it still valid?”
Deckard only smiled bitterly.
Deckard let out a sigh before leaving Sungchul. Not long after he left, the sound of drumming could be heard. It was the drums of the demonfolk. The shrill sound of a bone horn followed soon after that, sharply tearing through the air. The demonic forces were soon set to attack.
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