Chaos' Heir - Chapter 684
After dealing with the factory, Khan returned to the Harbor to resume office duties. He had studied a lot, but that short period couldn't compensate for his lack of superior education. He also had to review the less-impending tasks left behind by Ambassador Abores, which made his days busy.
Studying, reviewing, and studying again became Khan's new routine. He had to catch up with figures who had spent their whole lives preparing for that role, and time wasn't on his side. The festival was coming, and Monica demanded a chunk of Khan's day for herself, which he gladly gave her.
That routine forced Khan to make some sacrifices. He lacked the time to train, so he poured all his energy into learning to be an Ambassador and Monica. He also used the connection to the Solodrey family to obtain tomes usually hidden in special schools, and his expertise steadily improved.
The routine changed once Monica was called back to Neuria. Khan's nights suddenly became free, allowing him to spend long training sessions in the personal greenhouse. His growth, both in knowledge and power, picked up the pace, but that period eventually ended.
Almost a month after Khan's return from the factory, the call reached the involved Harbor's offices, creating the awaited, unavoidable task. Everything moved quickly afterward, leading to an early morning with an unusual arrangement.
Khan was in the now-familiar teleport areas of the Harbor, but more than simple soldiers and scientists surrounded him. Mister Cirvags was before him, planning to send him off with a few last warnings.
"Lord Exr's Lord is different from him," Mister Cirvags explained. "You won't win him over easily. It's probably impossible to win him over, actually."
"The Thilku owe me," Khan declared. "It's why they invited me."
"You remain human," Mister Cirvags pointed out. "Part of the Empire feels grateful, but a big chunk feels insulted."
"They should feel insulted," Khan stated. "They needed a human to restore their pride."
Mister Cirvags limited himself to staring at Khan. That gall was dangerous among the Thilku, but Khan had always backed it up with achievements. Still, the festival would feature far more than soldiers.
"Survive this," Mister Cirvags announced, "And maybe you'll get closer to what you want."
Mister Cirvags didn't need to add anything to make Khan understand what he meant. Khan's searches through the Ambassador's office were classified but easily accessible by higher-ups. Anyone above him probably knew he was looking for the Nak and his father.
Khan simply nodded before hopping on the oval platform. His eyes remained on Mister Cirvags while synthetic mana accumulated around him. He had questions, but they stayed inside his mind even after the teleport was activated.
The many security checks and in-between flights and teleports before the Empire's territory had become routine for Khan. He barely looked at his surroundings and only exchanged casual nods while thoughts swirled inside his mind.
More than a month had passed since Khan had forwarded his personal tasks, but neither brought decent results. The Nak were a big mystery, probably hidden behind a conspiracy, so he didn't expect much there. However, the search for his father faced similar issues.
A lot could happen in the Slums, especially over almost five years. Those areas also had lackluster security, creating immense dark areas that the Global Army ignored.
Khan could confirm Bret's release from prison, but that information was four years old. After that, the Global Army had no record of his father. He seemed to have disappeared.
'I half-expected him to cause more problems,' Khan thought while casually following his escorts, 'Especially with his character.'
Unless Khan hired and dispatched a special team, finding Bret in the messy Slums would be impossible. He could try his luck by going there himself, but there was a chance that Bret wasn't even in Ylaco anymore. Sadly, the best course of action was for him to wait for Bret to do another mess.
'How did he stay put for four years without me checking on him?' Khan wondered, and his paranoia promptly tingled the back of his mind. He was probably overthinking, but stopping his thoughts was impossible after everything he had learned.
Of course, Khan's hands were tied. Abandoning his duties to pursue those searches was impossible, and hiring teams would expose him too much. At the moment, he could only focus on work while coming up with countless hypotheses.
The many trips brought Khan to Cegnore, and the scanners showed how the planet had changed once again. The circular ship descended toward a quadrant featuring multiple metal structures, machinery, and more. Many could easily mistake the place for a small town, but Khan felt sure it was nothing more than a big military camp.
Unlike the previous trips, the ship landed on a specific area on the ground right outside the camp. Thilku soldiers donning red capes were already waiting for him, and traditional bows unfolded when he appeared. The atmosphere reeked of respect, and Khan acknowledged it with similar greetings.
Neither Khan nor the escort spoke. The Thilku limited themselves to leading Khan into one of the cars waiting on the landing spot, and the trip into the encampment started as soon as he took his seat.
From the window seat, Khan saw that many roads had metal barriers and soldiers patrolling them. Even in that official event with a limited number of troops, the Thilku didn't ignore security. It sounded excessive from Khan's perspective, but the Empire liked showing off.
The car stopped before a tall and large metal building where more soldiers were waiting for Khan. He politely greeted them before being escorted inside the structure. Crossing a vast hall brought him to a circular elevator, and clean air greeted him when it opened.
Khan found himself on the building's roof. The place was vast and swarming with soldiers, but the gazebo near its edge claimed the entirety of his attention. He spotted Amox, but the latter retained a stern expression while standing beside an elevated platform featuring three powerful figures.
Lord Exr, Onp, and another huge Thilku sat at a long, short table on the platform. Pillows surrounded it, but most of them were empty. Even the soldiers allowed under the gazebo didn't dare to occupy them.
Khan knew who the third Thilku was. The braided silver hair growing from his nape and the big, silver crown resting on his wrinkled forehead matched the Global Army's notes. He also was a fifth-level warrior conveying a presence far sterner than any other Thilku Khan had ever met. That was Lord Exr's superior, Lord Rsi.
Lord Exr turned to show an amused smile at Khan, but Lord Rsi kept his red eyes on the streets below. Khan knew he had noticed his arrival, but that uncaring approach was part of the behavior proper of his status.
Nevertheless, being ignored triggered something inside Khan, and his presence inevitably thickened. A few heads instinctively turned toward him, but Lord Rsi remained still.
Of course, the symphony told a different story only Khan could read. As much as Lord Rsi pretended to ignore him, a change had happened inside his mana. The sense of superiority remained overwhelming, but the powerful Thilku also experienced a tinge of acknowledgment.
The escort led Khan to the gazebo's edge, where he performed another traditional bow before stepping forward. Lord Exr pointed at the pillow beside him, and Khan jumped on the platform to occupy it.
"[You made it]," Lord Exr announced, oddly using his own language. "[Now the festival can begin]."
The use of the Thilku language told Khan that he wasn't only a guest anymore. The invitation had come directly from the Empire, but his role there transcended his achievements on the battlefield. He was akin to an Ambassador now, so the shows of respect had to come from him.
"[Mister Cirvags told me the festivals are quite the spectacle]," Khan exclaimed. "[I'm very curious]."
"[The Empire's knows how to entertain]," Lord Exr claimed. "[Disappointment is impossible]."
Khan fell silent while his attention stayed on Lord Exr's left side. Lord Rsi was sitting there, but the Thilku had yet to show interest in his surroundings. His stoic character was flawless, and Khan almost felt the urge to tease him.
Luckily for Khan, a bright red light suddenly invaded the streets below, and short shouts quickly followed. Battle cries invaded the camp, creating a loud spectacle that soon showed its face.
Stomping noises joined the cries as orderly arrayed troops appeared on one end of the street below the building. Hundreds of soldiers marched firmly, conveying discipline, respect, and sheer power. Machines also followed them, splitting them into teams that performed different tasks.
Some troops wielded rifles, others melee weapons, while a few waved their capes left and right in what resembled a military dance. Banners carrying Thilku runes also appeared from time to time, bringing more light to the already bright streets.
The Thilku festivals were nothing more than military events celebrating the Empire's power. They weren't parties or holidays. Those aliens only cared about showing their strength and the troops that made certain achievements possible.
Khan was an experienced warrior, so the spectacle didn't scare him. Ordinary soldiers would falter at the sight of hundreds of giant figures and weapons. That force seemed able to take on any battle and come out undefeated, but Khan had lived among it. Without him, that festival couldn't happen.
A similar acknowledgment rested inside Lord Rsi. The Thilku's eyes never left the celebratory match, but some irritation began to taint his mana. Without Khan on the streets, the Empire was celebrating a lie.
Mister Cirvags had prepared Khan for that eventuality, so he understood the issue. Still, sensing the irritation fueled his confidence. No matter how much Lord Rsi ignored him, he knew how valuable he was.
The festival went on for a long time, with the troops circling the entire building to perform multiple shows. The march never slowed down or accelerated, reinforcing the idea of discipline inside the soldiers. However, once everything began to quiet down, a change finally happened.
"[Blue Shaman]," Lord Rsi broke his stoic silence while keeping his eyes on the darkening streets. "[This name is starting to earn respect inside the Empire]."
Lord Exr and Onp seemingly shrunk back to let Lord Rsi and Khan have their first conversation. Yet, Khan's reply surpassed their wildest expectations.
"[It's deserved]," Khan stated. "[The Empire wouldn't feel that way otherwise]."
Speaking for the Empire was far from polite, especially in that situation. Onp's mana showed signs of panic, while Lord Exr felt curious. He had chosen Khan precisely for his mindset, but his superior might dislike it.
"[You didn't earn mine]," Lord Rsi commented. "[Right now, I only see your presence as a constant reminder of the Empire's failures, and the Emperor agrees with me]."