Chaos' Heir
Chapter 438: Articles

Khan peeked past his shoulder to look at the holograms coming out of the cylindrical item. The scanner wasn't as detailed as those seen inside the medical bays, but its results were clear. The number "70" shone next to the attunement with mana and confirmed the Colonel's statement.

'When did I become a third-level warrior?' Khan wondered, but the situation didn't let him fall into his thoughts.

"I had just updated your profile," Colonel Norrett scoffed as he threw the scanner behind him, and one of the guards grabbed it mid-air. "It seems that I have to send another official report."

"Updated?" Khan repeated, but his eyes immediately widened. He wanted to check the network right away, but the Colonel's smile made that process pointless.

"I approved your promotion a few hours ago," Colonel Norrett explained. "The network received the news at the same time."

'I won't hear the end of it,' Khan mocked himself while nodding at his superior.

"Well, I didn't plan our meeting to happen in the middle of the street," Colonel Norrett revealed, "But maybe it was for the best. My arrival here comes with many obligations, and I'd rather handle them before our next meeting."

"Will I see you again, sir?" Khan asked.

"Tonight," The Colonel stated. "Promotions to captain and above require special celebrations. I'll send an invitation with every detail later on. We'll talk more there."

The Colonel promptly turned to reach the platform, and his guards went with him, but he glanced at Khan again when he recalled something. "Before I forget, give me the student and professor's names."

Khan opened his mouth to speak before going changing his mind. He had already punished Tobias, and Oscar was bound to go crazy after hearing about the promotion. Getting the two kicked out of the Harbor would only turn the Odse family into an enemy.

"So?" Colonel Norrett asked while snapping his fingers.

"I want a different incentive," Khan declared, using the same words that Colonel Norrett had voiced back on Onia.

"Oh?" Colonel Norrett said in a curious and pleased tone. "Speak."

"I want access to the advanced classes," Khan revealed.

"That's still not special," Colonel Norrett sneered before nodding at his companions. "Consider it done."

The platform began to rise, and it soon accelerated to exit the range of Khan's senses. He saw the item return to the ship before the entire vehicle headed for one of the many passages stretching from the dome.

Khan followed the ship with his eyes, and pure chaos fell on him as soon as it disappeared from his vision. He acknowledged everything that had happened in the past minutes, but he didn't even know where to begin to sort that out.

'Fucking Raymond Cobsend,' Khan cursed. 'Why did he help me?'

The paranoia had the priority. Khan couldn't rejoice about the event before worrying about its many implications. Raymond had pushed for his promotions, and there had to be a reason for that.

'What can he possibly get from my promotion?' Khan wondered as his superficial knowledge of the Global Army ran through his mind.

Truth be told, Khan saw nothing but contradictions. He knew that Raymond had a specific interest in him, but a higher rank would grant him more political influence and fame.

Raymond would have a harder time exploiting, controlling, or even affecting Khan if his rank continued to improve. He wouldn't be able to use him as freely as before if he started developing proper social defenses. Still, that probably was the core of the matter.

'There might be other parties involved,' Khan coldly realized. 'This promotion might be Raymond's way of protecting me from them. Well, preserving rather than protecting.'

Raymond couldn't be the only one interested in the power of the chaos element, and he had already proven himself ready to sacrifice an entire asteroid. Other parties might target Khan directly, and becoming a captain could provide some political shield.

Of course, that guess was purely hypothetical, but it made sense. The Nak were an important and secret topic, and Khan had shown the world that he had a lot in common with them. His element also played an important role there, so his reasoning didn't feel crazy.

However, that hypothesis led to a precise conclusion. The political shield would theoretically hinder Raymond too, but he had given it to Khan anyway, meaning that he could overcome it when necessary.

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'Is he underestimating me?' Khan wondered as some anger returned before vanishing once he found a different answer. 'No, Raymond is a political monster. He probably knows exactly how much he can push, and I can't hope to match his knowledge any time soon.'

Losing was unavoidable as long as Khan tried to fight Raymond on those terms. The political battlefield couldn't give him a chance to win, and that situation wouldn't change for many years. However, Khan had another weapon at his disposal.

Khan tried to lift a hand, only to notice that he was still holding the rectangular container. His mind was elsewhere, so he sat on the sidewalk and placed the gift on the floor before resuming his initial action.

A whiff of purple-red mana came out of Khan's palm as soon as he opened it. He couldn't notice anything odd in his energy, but the scanner didn't lie. He had become a third-level warrior.

'Seventy percent,' Khan thought as he closed his eyes to inspect the mana in his insides. 'Why didn't I feel it?'

Becoming a second-level warrior had granted Khan a smoother flow of mana, but the recent checkpoint didn't bring anything like that. Khan felt no different, but that could explain his situation.

The transformation had been too radical. Khan didn't even know how much of him still abided by human standards. All the data gathered in the past five hundred years might not apply to him anymore.

Still, that could be the reason behind the lack of significant benefits. Khan had already undergone tremendous changes, so his body had probably failed to notice the arrival at the new checkpoint. That goal simply wasn't much compared to the transformation.

Khan obviously considered other options. His unstable and wild mental state could be a consequence of his new level, but his sudden growth could also explain it. His body could also face those breakthroughs differently now that the mutations had returned stronger than ever.

Only proper experts could grant answers, but that would require actual inspections and check-ups, which Khan wasn't willing to face. Raymond had given him a vague idea of his value, so making scientists aware of his condition was risky, especially in his current situation.

'I'm stuck,' Khan realized. 'Getting stronger is my best option, but I can't predict where that will lead me.'

Questions and doubts raged inside Khan's mind. He felt pretty sure that his reckless behavior was nothing more than a true expression of his character. Yet, he couldn't avoid considering other problems.

The check-up technique was a perfect example. Khan had confirmed that everything was okay multiple times, but the spell had human roots. It could be unable to grasp the entirety of his new being.

'No, no,' Khan shook his head. 'Even Caja said that I was fine. Well, fine for Nele's standards.'

A helpless sigh that tried to transform into a shout escaped Khan's mouth. All that thinking seemed pointless when he had so few viable options. Actually, attempting to contain or limit himself out of fear of what could happen made his wild emotions return.

The internal fight between a collected approach and a mindless pursuit of power unfolded inside Khan, but his thoughts remained clear. His mind seemed made for that conflict, but that inevitably pushed him toward one extreme.

'Fuck it,' Khan cursed. 'My mana won't allow me to hold back too much anyway. I just need to keep increasing my value. No one will be able to touch me even if I mess up at that point.'

The conclusion to the internal struggle raised another valuable point. Getting stronger through regular training was Khan's best option, but George's fight had taught him important lessons.

Lucian had been no match for George, but he had still put up a decent fight without resorting to his element. The non-elemental spells had more value than Khan had initially thought. Getting access to the good ones was the only problem.

'My element pushes me toward a specific battle style,' Khan thought as another whiff of purple-red mana escaped his palm, 'But there must be non-elemental spells that can empower it. I can even try to modify them at my current level.'

The more Khan thought about the matter, the more he acknowledged its value. He could partially ignore his hesitation toward increasing his own power by adding multiple techniques to his arsenal. Even if his search left him empty-handed, he could still gain a lot from that additional knowledge.

Once the troublesome matters fell into the back of Khan's mind, he found the time to focus on other topics. He picked up his phone, and a soft scoff left his mouth when he opened his profile. The network had already replaced his title, and it was only a matter of time before the news spread.

'Captain Khan,' Khan scoffed again. He had barely spent three years inside the Global Army but had already reached an incredible goal. He had even surpassed many of the superiors met in previous missions.

Some excitement inevitably surged inside Khan. Raymond's involvement in the promotion had added a bitter taste to the matter, but the event remained incredible. The very network was carrying proof of his growth. His efforts didn't go to waste. He was getting closer to fulfilling his goals.

Headmaster Pitcus' words resounded in Khan's mind. Something was bound to change after his promotion. His new rank would provide multiple benefits, and he couldn't wait to read them out.

However, as Khan browsed his profile, he found many articles attached to it. The network had been aware of the promotion for a few hours, and various groups had already written pieces about it.

The same pages Luke, Monica, and Bruce checked to remain updated about various meaningful events now carried Khan's name. A quick search even told him that those articles didn't stop at describing his achievements. Some went quite deeply into his life, even mentioning reports that should have been classified.

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'What?!' Khan gasped as he read through the articles. 'Probably lost his virginity to an alien? How do they know this stuff?! Used his political skills to subdue the famous Nele? What?!'

Some articles were accurate, while others were a complete fabrication. A few even stated that Khan's mother was an alien to justify his friendliness with other species. One also used his past relationships to draw a chart about his tastes in women.

The articles weren't stand-alone pieces either. People could leave comments, and Khan almost regretted reading some of them. Those statements were anonymous, and they only spread more misinformation and rumors.

'What the fu-?' Khan barely had the time to curse when a call arrived. Luke was trying to contact him, but the storm of messages that followed almost made his phone give up on buzzing.

Luke wasn't the only one who tried to call. Bruce, Anita, George, Martha, and many more contacted him almost simultaneously while sending as many messages as possible. It seemed that the news of the promotion had reached every corner of the Global Army.

'Colonel Norrett even has to add my new level,' Khan sighed as he planned to store his phone and ignore the mess. He didn't think fame could be so troublesome, and he had no interest in dealing with it now.

Still, a call that Khan felt unable to refuse reached his phone before he could put it away, and accepting it led to a loud shout.

"Did you make it to captain?!" Monica shouted as soon as Khan picked up the call.

"It's a long story," Khan laughed while placing a hand on the street. Luckily for him, the area was empty due to the lessons, so he could enjoy some privacy even while sitting in the open.

"And what's all that stuff about you starting a fight?!" Monica continued.

"George ratted me out," Khan laughed again.

"What ratted!" Monica scolded. "He was worried about you, and so am I. Where are you?"

"Don't you have classes?" Khan asked. "Can you really call me?"

"I hid in the bathroom," Monica explained as her voice dimmed. "I swear. If you try to tease me about this-."

"I don't plan to," Khan interrupted. "Listen, everything is a bit of a mess. It's better to leave the explanations for when we see each other."

"Khan, I'm your girlfriend," Monica declared, even if a trace of shyness appeared near the end of her line. "If you have problems, I want to be there for you. I want you to be able to rely on me."

"Monica, it's not that," Khan revealed. "Just, if I saw you now, we wouldn't talk at all."

Monica went silent for a few seconds before a whisper came out of the phone. "Scoundrel. I told you not to tease me."

"I wasn't teasing," Khan chuckled, and a giggle resounded from the other end of the call.

"You might deserve a gift," Monica sneered. "Captain is an important milestone in your career."

"Might?" Khan teased.

"Shut it," Monica pouted, but her voice immediately grew sweeter. "When can I see you?"

"Give me some time to cool down," Khan stated. "I also have a few things to handle, and I still don't know about the afternoon lessons. I'll keep you updated."

"Don't make me wait too long," Monica muttered.

"Do you miss me already?" Khan joked.

"Yes," Monica claimed without adding any shame to her tone, "And it's your fault, so take responsibility."

"I'll see after the gift," Khan laughed.

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"You are lucky you have the best girlfriend in the world," Monica snorted.

"I'll see you later then, okay?" Khan changed the topic, and Monica only needed to hear his affectionate voice to understand that the teasing phases had ended.

"I'll try to stay put in the meantime," Monica promised. "Still, congratulations. No one deserves this promotion more than you."

Khan couldn't help but smile at that praise. The bitterness caused by Raymond's involvement grew fainter when Monica conveyed her feelings. Khan almost decided to see her right away while her words resounded in his ears, but he eventually opted for something funnier.

"You know," Khan announced. "You are the only call I picked up."

Silent took control for a few seconds, but Monica's question eventually arrived. "Really?"

"Really," Khan confirmed.

"What about George?" Monica asked.

"Only you," Khan repeated.

"Really?" Monica gasped.

"Really," Khan confirmed again. "I have to go now. I'll hopefully see you tonight."

"Sure," Monica voiced. Other words appeared in her mind and tried to take form in her mouth, but some fear and shyness stopped her from speaking them. The call ended right after.

Khan glanced at his buzzing phone after the call ended. He had thought about the same words that had crossed Monica's mind, but he was in no mood to think seriously about them. The time to sort out his feelings for Monica would come, but he had other matters to handle now.

Some hunger showed its presence, but Khan wanted to do something else first. He stood up, picked up the rectangular container, and reopened the map on his phone. His attunement with mana marked him as a third-level warrior, but he could add another achievement to that feat.

Khan hurried through the almost empty streets, uncaring of the few gazes that fell on him or the cars that stopped to peek at his face. He had a clear destination, and he reached it in less than ten minutes.

The doors of a large building opened when Khan moved his phone over their interactive menus. He didn't even check how much the access to the structure was as he rushed inside the corridor and entered the first empty area he found.

A training hall unfolded in Khan's vision. The place was smaller than where George and Lucian had fought, but Khan didn't care about those details. His feet moved quickly on the menus on the floor, and a reinforced circular target soon came out of a wall.

'I can't lack in control,' Khan declared inside his mind while joining his palms and summoning his mana, 'And I can't imagine a better state for my element.'

The wild and cold mindsets were already one, and Khan drew power from both extremes while performing the chaos spear. He mustered more mana than ever before during the casting of the spell, and the spreading of his arms showed the results of that reckless action.

The chaos spear took form, but its surfaces were far from stable. Short flares left the glowing weapon and leaked part of its mana into the environment. Some purple-red dots even ended on Khan's uniform and dug holes, but his skin could handle that level of destruction.

The spell seemed ready to explode, but it didn't. It remained between Khan's palms while its small flares continued to leak mana. A few tense seconds passed, but Khan eventually seized the glowing weapon and threw it toward the target.

An explosion wilder than anything Khan had ever generated expanded on the circular target before giving birth to a violent pillar. The purple-red light became almost blinding as the spell unleashed the entirety of its power, and it took a while for it to disperse.

The target remained strangely intact, but many marks and cracks had appeared on its surface. Yet, Khan only cared about the screen near its base. The device showed the number "3", confirming his initial guess.

'I knew it,' Khan claimed. 'I can be a third-level mage right away.'

The chaos spear still needed some tuning, and the same probably went for the other spells, but Khan had time. Almost half a day separated him from his next classes, and he didn't even know if he had to attend them.

Khan sat on the floor while the target remained in its position. He would get to the testing part, but many people had contacted him, and a few deserved answers.

However, the container captured Khan's attention before he could get to the messages. The brown metal box was as big as his arm and lacked any label, but Khan could guess what it carried, and he felt like drinking now.

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Khan moved a key to unlock the lid and lifting it confirmed his guess. The container carried an expensive bottle that made him desire to taste it right away. Yet, there was something else there. A small screen rested in the corner and lit up as soon as Khan touched it.

'Genetic signature,' Khan realized as words lit up on the screen. The device carried a letter, and its contents turned Khan's complicated excitement into a pure frenzy.

'Captain Khan,' Khan read on the letter. 'For the exceptional service shown in many missions, the Global Army is honored to provide flying courses free of charge. We wish you good luck on your journey toward your license.'

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