Andrew followed Raziel as they traveled beneath Machine Loop.
Abandoned laboratories all around them were quiet, and only complex seals above them lit up the path with weak light as the empty corridor echoed with the tapping of their leather shoes.
This was Norzin's city within a city—Machine Loop.
Machine Loop was located beneath Norzin's Central District, connecting to the Upper and Lower Districts. The lowest point of this city within a city was the gates to the Lower District which were tightly sealed with many layers of security. It was the most secret place in the entire Truth Union.
Other than those allowed to explore the Lower District as well as certain personnel from Rolle Resource Development, anyone else who wanted to pass here would have to face the full firepower of the Truth Union.
All the laboratories and factories of the Truth Union were in Machine Loop. This was the place where the inferior philosopher's stones were produced as well as where the 'Clay Idol' project was conducted, which gave rise to the creation of the eventually finished product S-277.
The restricted areas right at the bottom which had been long abandoned served as Raziel's stronghold for thousands of years. Everything that served the Path of the Flaming Sword as well as his own ideals, which included establishing mental control over the entire Truth Union, researching the brain structure of outstanding scholars, and allowing people to create true consciousness for homunculus… were all completed here.
In other words, this was a place to hide filth.
Andrew stared at the huge beehive-like laboratory in the center. Mechanical pathways linked every room together as if they were organs in a human body, while many expressionless laboratory technicians in white coats traversed to and fro between rooms.
They had never stopped working ever since Raziel made them.
But today, this numbness would end.
After all, the true Truth Union no longer needed to hide themselves.
An insuppressible sense of excitement brewed in Andrew's heart, and he couldn't help but draw a deep breath as he followed behind Raziel.
He was slowly approaching the Truth Union's core and had never felt so close to power and authority.
Rumbling came from above, sounding like things collapsing as dust rained down from above.
Leading the way without breaking a stride, Raziel mused, "Interesting... Those two ascended to Supreme-rank at the same time."
Those two? Joseph and Wilde?
Andrew was stunned and a little surprised. Boss Lin actually chose to let them ascend together... I imagined that it would be a situation where one party used the other as a stepping stone...
"The situation you imagined has already happened once."
However, Andrew never expected Raziel to turn around and push up his glasses before lamenting, "Being able to gravely injure Haniel instantly and use her escape path and aftershock of her death to rewrite that battle's conclusion. I have to say, Lin... No, that bookstore owner is able to write scripts and plotlines better than I thought."
Naturally, these were all scenes from the past that he viewed through those glasses of his.
As a member of the Path of Flaming Sword, Raziel knew how powerful Haniel's Law was. However, everything had a price, and this insect lacked rationality and acted recklessly because it was powerful.
It's only natural for her to fall into that person's hands. The greatest scholar known as 'Ethereal Wisdom' scratched the hole in his temple while he thought.
Haniel, one of the ten Path of the Flaming Sword's angels mentioned during our talk just now... died at the hands of Boss Lin just like that?
A Supreme-rank transcendent existence instantly crushed like an ant. This alone was enough to subvert Andrew's view of the world three times over. And moreover, hadn't time been reversed?
Anyone else would have broken out in cold sweat at that realization, but Andrew, who had already regarded himself as a dependent of the bookstore, could only be filled with awe, reverence, and excitement when he thought about how mighty Boss Lin was.
At this moment, Hood, who was in charge of monitoring the situation, called, "The Aether Surveillance Network has started to fail, but it looks like the battle is over. However, the fighting between Wilde and Joseph is still intense and it's not known if they're dead or alive. Secret Rite Tower is still urging us for aid. Should we send anyone?"
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Andrew shrugged and revealed a snide sneer. "Let's wait a little. In any case, it seems that Secret Rite Tower doesn't really care about Joseph's life. This fella has always been wholeheartedly devoted to the organization... I really look forward to his reaction when he finds out the truth one day."
"Alright, let's wait for the battle's conclusion," Hood replied and hung up.
Raziel continued to walk on. "It seems like you don't really care about the final outcome between those two."
"Lord Raziel, you know that their victory or defeat has nothing to do with me nor the Truth Union's cause."
Naturally, Andrew couldn't say that he was only loyal to Boss Lin; it would be best if the other useless people died. With a smile, he continued, "If Joseph wins, it's just but Secret Rite Tower continuing on their original trajectory; if Wilde wins, he's merely continuing the fight against Secret Rite Tower. Even if he overcomes Secret Rite Tower, it's still the same for us: This world can do without Secret Rite Tower and the Corpse Devouring Sect, but it can't do without the Truth Union. Regardless of whoever runs Norzin, scholars will always have a place here."
Raziel nodded his head in a show of complete approval. "You've read it rather thoroughly... I'm really starting to admire you more."
Toward this praise bot that only knew how to agree, Andrew gave an insincere smile. "So, in order to give the Truth Union a stronger voice in the future, we ought to let the Truth Union return to the right path.
"That's right. All those useless things trapped in the old ways ought to disappear."
Raziel narrowed his eyes slightly as he gazed at those homunculi lab technicians below. He took a deep breath, then said, "The Truth Union doesn't need them anymore indeed. Everything here has to make concessions for a better Truth Union of the future."
Andrew immediately said, "Don't worry, it's all been arranged. I've already gotten someone to send Prima's sister out.
"To the public, we'll claim that the battle between Joseph and Wilde caused some experimental products on the inner laboratories to explode. The collapse would temporarily render the entrance to the Lower District unusable, and the supply of goods to Rolle Resource Development would come to a temporary halt.
"When the Ash Chamber of Commerce announces the second entrance and seizes the market share, attention of the Central District would shift. We would then have more time to extend the closing of the entrance."
And continuing with a snide grin, "Honorable Chairman Maria, who voluntarily sacrificed herself to explore and experiment in the Lower District, would forever... remain underground as a heroic sacrifice."
"A perfect ending." That was Raziel's only reply.
He led Andrew around all the honeycomb-like laboratories—as the designer, familiarity with the place was practically engraved to his soul—and eventually brought Andrew aboard the elevator.
Raziel lowered his head and stared at the staff below for a long time as the transparent glass elevators continued to climb upward.
Hidden away here was evidence of his previous work for the Path of the Flaming sword and evidence of some inhumane experiments. Undoubtedly, it had to be destroyed; otherwise, he would be disqualified from being the new figurehead that was about to rule over the whole Truth Union.
Though he no longer has a brain, does he still feel regret...? Andrew wondered as he observed the strange expression on Raziel's face. After all, Raziel had worked with these homunculi for several thousands of years, and surely it wasn't right if he didn't feel anything for them.
The elevator continued to climb for some time, and they eventually reached the ground.
The sky was completely clear, but it was an endless white—all the ice and snow had melted.
Andrew stood on the roof of the Truth Union and gazed toward the entire battlefield. While he didn't care what the outcome of this battle was, he was still curious about who Boss Lin would favor between Joseph and Wilde.
A giant ball of exploding light bloomed at the intersection of sky and earth. The ripples of that massive energy could even be felt here, and the hair and clothes of Andrew and Raziel fluttered in the hot winter wind.
Nearby streets had already been destroyed beyond recognition. The massive underground metal frame that supported Norzin was now showing, as if revealing an invisible monster in the deep dark caverns that was staring at the living.
"Lord Raziel, do it," Andrew said.
Raziel detonated the self-destruct mechanism in the bodies of the homunculi workers in the underground laboratories beneath. A low rumble came from below, and the magnificent city within a city was once more shrouded in dust as the Truth Union raised the alarm.
Beep beep beep—
Andrew suddenly heard vibrations and a beeping coming from his chest pocket. With a frown, he took out his communications device and realized that the caller wasn't from a recorded contact.
However, he still picked up the call because he was in a good mood.
"Who is this?"
"Chairman Andrew." The voice on the other end sounded somewhat strained, as if the person was injured. "It's me, Winston, chief of Secret Rite Tower's Combat Division."