Chapter 331: I Don’t Blame Them
(Unknown Starship- Fifth Floor)
“By the Sun God’s light! There is only one way to defeat this wretched monster and that is to fight it as a group!”
“This is merely a trial to test our faith!”
“Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“Aphloth you have to either be a senile old fool or all those nights spent mediating have driven you mad…”
“Have you forgotten how many corpses are scattered around the starship? Look around this very room for instance!”
“I will gladly break down that door if you can tell me how it is possible to beat a mercenary capable of singlehandedly wiping out entire squads of heavily armoured soldiers?”
“So, you just want to give up? The Sun God will punish heretics like you!”
Pirene let out a dull groan as the sounds of loud voices bitterly arguing caused him to finally wake up.
The last thing he could remember was being trapped in the bathroom with Cordata and Lilise… and then…
The alien furrowed his brows as he desperately tried to recall how he ended up in this strange room.
Wait…. it was that lunatic mercenary!
Pirene jumped to his feet and hurriedly swept the surrounding area for any trace of the fearsome warrior.
His sudden movements did not draw the attention of the other survivors who were still engaged in a fierce debate among themselves.
Pirene’s orangish pupils scanned the interior of the room carefully but found nothing out of the ordinary.
That was of course, if you didn’t count the bloodstains splattered all over the ceilings and walls as well as the meaty pieces of flesh haphazardly laying on the ground.
Pirene frowned as he smelled a nasty scent that could only be described as rotten meat mixed with bodily fluids coming from the torn-up corpses.
This awful scent caused him to suddenly throw up.
He gagged as the foul odour entered his nostrils and there was nowhere to escape since the holding room had poor circulation.
Pirene immediately dropped to his knees and threw up a few more times until there was nothing left in his stomach.
“Are you alright?” a cold voice came from behind Pirene’s body, and a warm hand touched his back.
Pirene looked up to see Cordata staring at him with a concerned look on her face. Her long, slender limbs stretched out to help Pirene get back on his feet.
“Thanks,” Pirene murmured weakly as the nauseous feeling in his stomach had yet to go away.
He tried to ask Cordata all the questions that were running through his mind but had to take a few moments to recover.
It was difficult to form telepathy bonds without being able to fully concentrate, so Pirene didn’t bother to establish a mental connection.
Pirene closed his eyes and tried to focus his thoughts on anything but the horrible smell. He reminisced about life back home on Planet Valantis.
Pirene was born to a lower-class family on the planet and joining the Sun’s Glory was seen as the only way to advance one’s social status.
Every ten years, young Stukuins would be dropped off at education camps to learn the holy doctrine of the Sun God.
This process usually took anywhere from thirty to seventy years.
It was in this environment that the young Stukuins would learn about the glory of the Sun God and travel to distant planets with other missionaries to spread the good word.
They would also take part in the cleansing ritual to allow the ignorant lifeforms of primitive civilisations to enter the Sun God’s divine palace.
A baptism of fire that would burn away their sins and leave only purity.
Still even with this hands-on approach, only one quarter of the students would end up successfully learning the doctrine.
As for the rest…
Some things were better left unspoken.
Following the training, the newly graduated students would be given two years of rest and then would have the opportunity to join the organization.
This was their final chance to leave but when you have known nothing but the organization for your entire life…
It was hard for the graduated students not to return.
Plus, in addition to the societal pressure and expectation, there were some really good advertisement brochures.
Join a cult they said.
Benefits and a healthy retirement plan they said.
Blessing from the almighty and powerful Sun God they said.
If Pirene could go back in time to meet the high priest who handed him those sheets of paper just a couple of days before he decided to return to the organization….
He would have punched him right in the face.
The nauseous feelings in Pirene’s stomach had now faded away so he was able form proper words to ask the questions on his mind,
“Where… where are we? And what happened after that lunatic cornered us in the bathroom?”
“Beats me,” Cordata replied with a small shrug of her shoulder.
“Right now, there are two theories floating around. One of them is that the creature wants to gradually eat us over a long period of time.”
“In that case we only have a few days or if we get lucky… maybe even a few weeks before we all die.”
“And the other is that she needs some of us alive for some dark purpose otherwise why would she stick us in the holding room we used to house the mercenaries instead of just killing us right away.”
Pirene saw that the rest of the survivors were huddled into a group near the metalloid door, so it was a bit difficult to count how many people were in the room.
“How many of us are there?” Pirene muttered.
Cordata frowned slightly and tilted her head sideways to think. She raised one pale finger in the air and then Pirene felt a small brush against his mental subconscious.
It was so faint that he almost didn’t notice.
“There are sixteen of us left in this room,” Cordata replied frankly after a few seconds of counting.
It was easy for a highly skilled telepath to check the number of nearby conscious beings.
“You are taking this awfully well,” Pirene noted as he observed Cordata’s apparent easygoing attitude.
He was genuinely impressed in her ability to keep a level head in this perilous situation where their survival was not guaranteed.
“Calm? You think I’m calm?” Cordata chuckled darkly and pointed towards a certain area in the back of the room.
“I’m not calm… I am just resigned to fate.”
Pirene turned around and saw two bodies laying among the mutilated corpses of the mercenaries.
Except these dead bodies were those of his fellow crewmembers. He even recognised the uniform on one of the corpses that belonged to the engineer team.
Did the lunatic already begin a round of slaughter before he had even woken up?
“Before you ask since it’s written on your face, don’t worry… so far, the monster has not visited us yet,” Cordata spoke solemnly as she saw Pirene’s terrified expression.
“Those two over there…. decided to kill themselves…”
There was a quiet silence between the pair as the true horror of Cordata’s statement took root in Pirene’s heart.
After taking a closer look at the corpses, he could observe open wounds in the middle of their foreheads that were consistent with a point-blank plasma shot.
There was no plasma gun near the two bodies, but it was most likely that one of the other survivors had picked it up.
“They figured that a quick death was better than being eaten alive by that beast,” Cordata explained in a grim tone.
“Honestly… I don’t blame them”