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North Front

"Come on!" A figure in a mud stain white jacket with a red cross patch on his sleeve and chest pocket waved at the group of dirty and tired slaves. "Anyone with injuries?"

"Here!" A couple of hands rose in the air and the doctor with his assistants bearing stretchers came over.

They loaded the body of the half naked slave onto the stretcher while the doctor checked the patient's dirty bandages. "Looks like he lost quite a bit of blood."

He peeled back the sticky blood coated bandages from the slave and grimaced as a waft of rot came out. "Wounds look badly infected. How did he get injured?"

The surrounding slaves gave a shrug, "We found him lying among a pile of bodies, we think he got hit by one of them screaming death spells!"

"Ahh..." The doctor nodded. "Alright, don't worry about your friend here, we will heal him back right!"

With that, the doctor and the assistants carried the wounded away. "Is that bald guy someone you know?" One of the slaves asked curiously.

"Nope, never seen him before!"

-----

Orwell's Point, Marine Stronghold Basement, Temporary Morgue

"Subject Four C," Dr. Sharon spoke into her tablet as she prepared her instruments for the autopsy of the strange bronze colored elf laid before her in the basement of the keep filled with blocks of ice to keep the bodies cold. "Also known as the 'Terminator' by the Marines."

"Subject is male and looks to be in his middle twenties, bald," Dr. Sharon said and at the same time, she stretched open the closed eyelids of the corpse. "Eyes are... grey?"

Magister Thorn leaned over and took a look at the milky grey pupils of the body and he frowned. "Strange..."

"Cause of death appears to be multiple gunshot wounds, a total of thirteen shots to the upper torso and another ten to both arms," Dr. Sharon recited.

"Subject's blood appeared to be dark red, almost close to black and viscous," She said next as she took up a scalpel before she attempted without any success to make a Y incision on the chest of the corpse.

"Skin of the subject appears to be artificially hardened to the point that blades could barely cut their skin," She returned the scalpel and took a laser scalpel instead and started on the Y incision again.

This time, the laser managed to cut through the tough skin and she peeled the layer back and pinning the skin against its own body with a surgical pin.

A sweet and coy scent came off the exposed breastplate of the corpse and Dr. Sharon frowned as she saw the rib cage of the body and its organs appeared to have turned black.

She took a bone saw and worked on the edges of the rib cage and with Magister Thorn's help, they removed the blackened bones and exposed the internal organs. "Subject's organs appeared to have entered into the black putrefaction stage."

"That is mightly strange," Magister Thorn frowned as he peered into the opened chest cavity of the body. "I remember learning that for the organs of the corpse to turn black it takes roughly ten to twenty days!"

"But clearly this person died just a couple of days ago!" Magister Thorn voiced his concerns. "What could have made his organs just... rot away in such a short period of time?"

Dr. Sharon reached into the chest cavity and started to remove the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, and other major organs. "This is why we are doing an autopsy to find out how these people can survive dozens of gunshots!"

Together with Magister Thorn who took the role of a student and assistant, they weight the organs that they removed and as Dr. Sharon was removing the spleen, she touched something hard. Nudging the overhead lights to shine into the chest cavity, she dug around the slimy insides of the body before she felt something cold and hard.

She could feel the object too large to be a bullet and too irregular shaped to be a stone or something. Carefully she held onto it and applied strength as it appeared to be stuck within the flesh of the spleen.

"What is it?" Magister Thorn asked as he saw the change of expression on Dr. Sharon's face.

"I think there is something here," Dr. Sharon frowned. "Help me adjust the light."

She took a scalpel and under the light, she gentle sliced away the muscles and veins covering the object and some she cut away a fist sized lump of flesh. "Some kind of tumor?"

Magister Thorn weighted the lump before he gave it a few pokes and was surprised at the hardness. "It weights at 427 grams, seems like something is inside."

Dr. Sharon took back the lump of flesh and used her scalpel and carefully sliced the muscles and flesh off, exposing an object with a film of pink and veins covering it. She made another incision and after peeled away the film and a finger sized piece of black crystal were revealed.

At this moment, the voice in Dr. Sharon's head hissed in anger. "LUME!!!"

Dr. Sharon flinched from the sudden psychic blast in her head and she cursed inwardly at the entity in her head.

"Is that..." Magister Thorn's eyes went wide. "Is that a Dark Stone?"

"A Dark Stone?" Dr. Sharon handed the stone over to Magister Thorn who carefully rinsed it clean with water. "Is it some kind of mana stone?"

"Yes!" Magister Thorn held the stone up against the light. A faint greenish glow could be seen from the insides of the jet black crystal. "This is impossible! How could a person have a Dark Stone inside their bodies?"

"I remember in your basic magic classes, you said that Light and Dark mana stones are almost impossible to create?"

"Yes, as you know, mana stones are created in areas where magical elementals are very strong, or in creatures that condenses their magical energy in one place thus creating a stone." Magister Stone explained. "But in classes for Light and Dark elements, it is almost impossible to have an area with dense Light or Dark energies due to day and night!"

"But... if that is the case," Dr. Sharon felt amused as she looked at the excited Thorn trying not to hop around in his green sterile gown, scrub cap, and face mask. "How are you sure that this is a Dark Stone?"

"Ooo... my apologies!" Magister Thorn replied. "I have forgotten you hoomans has no magical senses."

"How I know this is a Dark Stone is due to the energy it is giving off," Magister Thorn quickly explained. "At first appearance, I could only guess. But by holding it, I could sense the dark energy from the stone, hence I am very sure this is a Dark Stone!"

"Is it dangerous?" Dr. Sharon asked with a frown. "Will it like... suck my soul or life away?"

"Hahahahaa, no my dear Sharon," Magister Thorn laughed. "It is no more dangerous as... say gun powder!"

"I see..." Dr. Sharon nodded, slightly reassured. "But how did it grow from a person's body? I remember that only creatures born with a natural affinity with the elements could do that only?"

"Yes, this is baffling," Magister Thorn placed the Dark Stone down on the sterile tray. "I too have not heard of this before."

"Could it be this is the source of these, 'Terminators', powers?" Dr. Sharon questioned. "It somehow... give them supernatural powers?"

"Maybe that is the case," Magister Thorn turned and looked at the dozens of body bags hang at the side of the ice room. "We just have to open up a few more bodies to be sure!"

After a few hours with their arms and gowns covered in gore, Dr. Sharon and Magister Thorn paused in their work, their expressions grim.

On the table next to them laid several pieces of Dark Stones, glittering under the white light of the lamps in the morgue.

"This is bad... The Empire somehow has a way to produce these Dark Stones!" Magister Thorn whispered. "This is very bad!"

"If they can implant these into their soldiers... they will have an almost invicinable army!"

-----

Joseph followed the backs of his staff as almost every senior officer avaiblie had gathered at the morgue of the stronghold. A blast of cold air and a cloying sweet smell assailed his nosrils when the heavy doors opened, exposing dozens and dozens of corpses in black bags hanging from the ceiling.

"Good everyone is here!" Dr. Sharon clapped her hands to get everyone's attention. "We uncovered a discovery that is quite crucial to our future plans."

The command staff muttered among themselves upon hearing Dr. Sharon words until she gestured everyone to silence. "Now, as you know, the Marines had encountered a new foe."

She swept away the white cloth that covered the table beside her exposing a bronze colored corpse where the flaps of the skin were peeled back showing a cavity in the chest area. Some of the officers stepped back from the sight and covered their mouths.

"Me and Magister Thorn were attempting to discover what made these soldiers able to withstand gunshots and flames," Dr. Sharon explained. "We discovered that their skin, muscles, and bones were enhanced to around eight to ten times an average person's."

"Normal blades will barely be able to penerate their skin," Dr. Sharon continued her report. "This also made them highly resistant to fire and even spells."

"What kind of socery is that?" One of the officers asked. "How could there be such a spell to empower a person to this extent?"

"That we do not know yet," Magister Thorn replied. "But we do know that, the Empire has found some sort of magic way to strengthen their soldiers but at a cost."

"By turning them into these super soldiers or what the Marines call them as Terminators," He took over the explaining. "The person most likely loses his life."

"But that is impossible!" Another officer spoke up. "They move and fight with weapons and tactics, unlike zombies or ghouls! Are they some kind of animated death?"

"I wouldn't say they are truely dead," Dr. Sharon said. "More like brain dead."

"Brain dead?" Joseph asked curiously. "What is that?"

"It is a state when the person's mind or brain is dead," Dr. Sharon explained. "Your body is still alive, but your brain is just gone."

"Isn't it like losing your soul?" An officer asked.

"In a way, yes," Dr. Sharon replied. "But the control of the body is taken over by the spell."

"Now, scientifically, when a person is brain dead," Dr. Sharon continued her explanation. "Your body will die without any life support."

"But the Empire has found a way to not only enhanced the bodies of these brain dead soldiers but also implant a kind of 'battery' which powers them to keep them 'alive'."

She raised a finger length piece of black crystal up to the gathered officers and said. "This is a Dark Stone, the battery that powers the Terminators."

"A Dark Stone?" The officers were shocked as they never really heard of such a mana stone. "What kind of power is this?"

"The power of darkness..." Magister Thorn replied grimly. "And the Empire has found a way to create and harness this power!"

"So you are saying that the Empire can create an army of 'Terminators' with these Dark Stones?" Joseph asked as the implications registered. "They will have an army unstoppable by arrows and swords?"

"Yes, Captain," Dr. Stone nodded. "They can control the whole continent easily without anyone having the strength to oppose them!"

"And we will need a lot of firepower to stop them if they throw them enmass at us!" Dr. Sharon added. "We need to let Haven know about this as soon as possible so that we can plan out a contingency plan to fight against these Terminators!"

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A note from neo Koh

Advance chapters are available on Pat-reon

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Sorry for the long wait~ Was running fever for two weeks straight and hospitalized for a week~


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