“What brings you here? If it’s new orders, you could’ve called me on the phone.” (Kitamura Ren)
“You, just what do you think you’re doing?!” (Ito Sana)
“It’s just as you can see.” (Kitamura Ren)
Kitamura Ren shrugged his shoulders.
“You’re the sole healer of the great Nippon Empire. Yet, such a high value individual is forced to………” (Ito Sana)
“And just who was it that abandoned such a high value individual in here?!” (Kitamura Ren)
….We had no idea you’d be treated like this.
We all thought you were having the time of your life this side. (Ito Sana’ inner monologue)
“Never mind.” (Kitamura Ren)
Kitamura Ren was about to get angry, but decided to let it go. Strictly speaking, he shouldn’t get angry at Ito Sana, after all.
His country didn’t do anything wrong to him, either. Didn’t he also agree to do this mission because it was the correct tactical decision to make at the time?
The real problem was with the ‘Irregular’ living in this place being so far removed from the realm of being an Irregular, he had become a Rule Breaker, instead!
If it weren’t for Yi Ji-Hyuk, none of this would’ve happened, so if he were to blame someone, he must blame that youth!
“Did you come to take me back home?” (Kitamura Ren)
“No, it’s not an order for you to return. However, there is something I’d like ask you about, first….” (Ito Sana)
“Speak, then.” (Kitamura Ren)
“The person named Yi Ji-Hyuk…. Just what kind of a person is he?” (Ito Sana)
Kitamura Ren spat out a long groan after hearing that name.
“Can’t you figure that out by reading the reports?” (Kitamura Ren)
“I’d like to hear your opinion now that you’ve experienced him personally. I believe your perspective will be better than reading some sanitised texts.” (Ito Sana)
So, how should he go about explaining to her?
If there were people in this world that couldn’t be explained so easily in a few words, then on the flip side, there would also be those types of people who made one fall into a dilemma as to just where one might even begin his explanations, since there would have so, so many things to say.
What could be the most apt term that best explained what Yi Ji-Hyuk was like?
“….A magnet?” (Kitamura Ren)
“I beg your pardon?” (Ito Sana)
“He’s like a magnet, that attracts all sorts of trouble to his side.” (Kitamura Ren)
She thought she could more or less get ‘it’.
“Okay, so, is there a possibility of Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk lending us his assistance?” (Ito Sana)
“What do you mean by that? Did something happen back home?” (Kitamura Ren)
“The thing is……” (Ito Sana)
Once Kitamura Ren heard Ito Sana’s briefing on the current state of affairs, he let out a sigh, his expression becoming worried.
“…Will it be difficult?” (Ito Sana)
“….It’s impossible.” (Kitamura Ren)
“Pardon?” (Ito Sana)
“It is impossible to conquer the man named Yi Ji-Hyuk regardless of the methods you use. He doesn’t care about money nor does he care about honour or fame. Even if you used diplomatic channel and pressured his so-called superiors, the moment those people try to pressure him into doing anything, you’ll see him explode in a fit of fury. Because, he’s like a bomb that’d go off if someone needlessly poked him. Also, he’s not someone to take it lying down when he finds out that the Japanese government was behind it.” (Kitamura Ren)
“T, then, you’re saying there’s nothing we can do?” (Ito Sana)
Ito Sana’s face became utterly pale.
“No, there’s always a way!” (Kitamura Ren)
“You ask the bomb squad to deal with a bomb!” (Kitamura Ren)
“….What are you talking about?” (Ito Sana)
Kitamura Ren grinned slyly.
“There is only one person in the entire world who can induce Yi Ji-Hyuk to take action. What’s more surprising is the fact that he’s not an ability user, but a powerless normal person!” (Kitamura Ren)
“Thus, we must conquer Choi Jung-Hoon, instead!” (Kitamura Ren)
After a lengthy period of doing nothing important, the time to put to use Ren’s talents had finally arrived.
Los Angeles, USA.
“No matter how much I take a look….” (Christopher McLaren)
“….That godd*mn Gate is growing larger and larger, isn’t it?! Or am I seeing things now?” (Christopher McLaren)
“No, you’re correct, sir. Of course your eyes are working fine, sir. I’m sure your suspicions will be put to rest if you accompany me to an eye doctor….”
Christopher McLaren tightly grasped his pounding head.
“Rather than an ophthalmologist, maybe I should go and see a d*mn shrink first. One of these days, I might hang myself with my tie or something.” (Christopher McLaren)
And no, he wasn’t joking around with that statement.
Once the patterns of these Gates’ appearances had become more or less stabilised, and the manuals on how to subjugate them had been established, things became a lot more tolerable for him. But, for the last couple of months, the world was once more going through rapid changes.
First, there was the Gate that opened as soon as it appeared, and the monsters poured out in droves before anyone could do something about it. And then, a whole bunch of Level 5 Gates appeared throughout the world almost simultaneously, too!
And now, he had to contend with a Gate that was getting larger and larger as time passed?
“What an assortment of godd*mn headaches this is. There are so many ways to torment a man, aren’t there?” (Christopher McLaren)
“So, sir…. How should we deal with this situation?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Call the military, and focus all available firepower on this location. And summon every available ability user to this place, too.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Just like the last time?”
“Right, just like the last time.” (Christopher McLaren)
Last time, a person emerged from that massive Gate so some sort of a civilised conversation could take place. So, should that count as…. a relief?
‘What a crazy event that was.’
Now they knew that on the other side of the Gates, there were lifeforms with high intelligence. For now, the US government was doing its best to gag everyone into silence, but there were too many eyewitnesses that day.
He knew that the word of intelligent creatures living on the other side of Gates would spread around the world before long.
‘And while the current climate is really volatile, too!’
Throughout the world, the conflicts between the ability users and regular people were occuring with an alarming regularity.
The countries within the Northern Hemisphere, that could still exercise some amount of government control over their citizens, the conflicts remained on the levels of simple clashes, but in the regions with weak rule of law, the concept of a functioning government had declined significantly in the last few years.
Initially, not many had the leeway to fight among themselves because of the marauding monsters emerging from the Gates, but now that the situation had stabilised to a degree, they began baring their fangs against each other.
And as humanity found itself in such a precarious position, the Gates were once more displaying erratic behaviours.
So, what would happen under such circumstances?
Would everyone come together once more?
Or would the rate of disintegration of the society speed up, instead?
Christopher McLaren knew that, whichever direction humans decided to take, neither of them were the right answer to fix the main cause of the problem.
‘I know I need to do something, but there’s not much I can do for the time being. If I intervene at the wrong time, I might end up being labeled as the biggest villain in history.’ (Christopher McLaren)
That was, if anyone would still be alive to remember the history, of course.
“Find out the current situation in other countries. Japan’s also dealing with a similar situation as us, so there’s a good chance that others are also experiencing this problem.” (Christopher McLaren)
He could strongly feel that this was a handiwork of someone else, someone hiding in the shadows.
“And, find every single CCTV footage you can from this area.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Excuse me?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon tilted his head in confusion as he stared at the huge gift box sitting pretty on the top of the table.
“Miss Ito Sana?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Yes, Mister Choi Jung-Hoon?” (Ito Sana)
“I can’t seem to fully grasp what you’re trying to say here. So, can you tell me why you’re giving me this gift?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Ito Sana turned her head slightly and stared at Kitamura Ren next to her.
‘….You two are close, so say something.’ (Ito Sana)
‘But, I’m not that close to this dude, though?’ (Kitamura Ren)
After they exchanged silent but meaningful gazes with each other, Ito Sana spoke in a soft voice.
“Mister Choi Jung-Hoon.” (Ito Sana)
“If we’re to be brutally honest with you, then well, it’s a commonly held belief within the ranks of Japanese government that you are the true ‘hidden’ force to be reckoned with in South Korea.” (Ito Sana)
“I must admit that you have caught me off-guard with those words.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Don’t the most powerful ability users that form the backbone of this country’s defense, as well as the core of the NDF, place their trust in you unconditionally?” (Ito Sana)
Choi Jung-Hoon leaned back against the couch as a deep smile began forming on his face.
What a sorrowful life he was forced to endure for the past few years.
He used to carry this lofty ambition of becoming an influential politician that held the fate of this nation in his hands as he passed the Civil Service examination with flying colours!
There was also a period of time when he was dispatched to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, where he thought his talents would finally be acknowledged and that he’d get to enjoy a smooth ride to the top!
But then, quite absurdly if he thought about it, he was dispatched to the KSF for some reason, and ended up going through so much dogsh*t hell while working under a much younger superior officer. Just as he got used to this lifestyle, and just as he was beginning to think that his life had become a bit easier, a brand new calamity literally fell from the heavens.
‘If only I didn’t run late that morning……….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
….Then, he’d not have met Yi Ji-Hyuk on that fateful day.
Choi Jung-Hoon hurriedly wiped the moistening edges of his eyes and coughed to clear his choked-up throat.
“There may be new people trying to butt in later down the line, but even they wouldn’t be able to escape from your influence. So, in essence, you, Mister Choi Jung-Hoon, are the centre of Korea’s power base.” (Ito Sana)
“Ahahaha. You’re saying some outrageous things here. I’m certainly not that kind of a person.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s lips arched up so much that they threatened to rip apart if he smiled any wider.
Now originally, he wasn’t someone this weak against praises, but after being tenderised by lots of verbal abuses for the past few months….
“That is why we’re here to ask you…..” (Ito Sana)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s smile disappeared in an instant and he quietly studied Ito Sana.
Them kissing his butt was one thing, but now that a foreign diplomat was behaving in this fashion, he couldn’t continue maintaining a jokey attitude anymore.
“….We’d very much appreciate it if you could do one favour for us.” (Ito Sana)
“A favour, you say…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon fished out a cigarette and placed it between his lips. He lit it up, sucked the unhealthy smoke in quite slowly, before opening his mouth to speak.
“I wonder. I’m not sure if I’m capable enough to do such a thing for you.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
But, your posture’s exactly like that of a black market merchant, though?! (Ito Sana)
His whole demeanor was like, he would even get her a freaking F-15 if she asked him nicely enough!
“Please, help us.” (Ito Sana)
“Well, let me decide after hearing what that favour is, first.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon slowly pulled the gift box in closer and carefully opened the lid.
What could be inside? His heart was beating faster in anticipation.
Could it be a ginseng?
Maybe, an expensive wine or a rare liquor……
However, after taking a peek inside the box with the slightly-open lid, Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes shook as if there was an earthquake happening right now.
“What is the meaning of this?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
He frowned deeply and closed the lid shut after confirming that the box was filled to the brim with dollar bills. This wasn’t a gift, but a dang bribe!
Which also meant that their ‘favour’ couldn’t have been something simple as well.
Kitamura Ren quietly stared at Choi Jung-Hoon for a bit, before finally opening his mouth.
“Aren’t you going to get angry?” (Kitamura Ren)
“Excuse me? Angry? Why?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Normally, wouldn’t this be the right time to go on about ‘Who do you think I am to bribe me like this’ or some such? After all, isn’t that the customary reaction?” (Kitamura Ren)
“I don’t like to waste my time on doing needless things. It’s not a bad idea to be compensated for the work I put in, I believe. And if I can’t do the work, then all I have to do is not accept this, that is all. So, there’s no point in needlessly wasting your time and mine by me pretending to be an upright civil servant, wouldn’t you agree? However…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon crossed his legs and leaned against the couch once more.
“Why don’t you get to the point first? You see, I’m not someone with a lot of time to idly chat with you.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Ito Sana began looking at Choi Jung-Hoon with a surprised expression on her face. The moment he took a look inside the gift box, his demeanor changed completely.
Until then, she thought that a guy like him couldn’t have been that capable, but now, just by being stared at by his eyes, she felt pressured into silence.
And he wasn’t even trying to silence her or anything; he seemed to possess a certain something that caused others to instinctively shrink away.
‘So, this is the real Choi Jung-Hoon…..’ (Ito Sana)
She had heard of that name every now and then, but she had never imagined in her wildest dreams that he’d be someone this intimidating.
This was precisely the reason why one needed an actual witness rather than some reports written on pieces of paper. In other words, her decision to meet up with Kitamura Ren first and listen to his advice was right on the money.
Ito Sana corrected her posture and stared at Choi Jung-Hoon seriously.
His hair was gently swept up in the unmistakable ‘Regent’ style, while the lines of his face were striking and distinctive.
He was a handsome man, with a good fashion sense, too.
When such a man began emitting the aura of the true ‘hidden’ force to be reckoned with, she couldn’t help but feel her heart skip a beat for a second there.
‘He’s indeed an important individual.’ (Ito Sana)
He was someone that Japan needed to keep an eye out for. So, without a doubt, this man would be able to help her today!
“Without beating the bush, here is the reason!” (Ito Sana)
“In order to subjugate the Gate appearing right now in Japan, we need the help of Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!!” (Ito Sana)
“Get this sh*t outta here!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon didn’t even waste one second before picking up the box and throwing it back at Kitamura Ren.
“Have you lost your d*mn minds?! I’ve been feeling really p*ssed off for a while now, yet you wanna do what?! If only you weren’t a d*mn diplomat, I’d already…. Argh!!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“C, calm down, please!” (Kitamura Ren)
“Calm down? Calm down?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes exuded a dangerous light as he grabbed Kitamura Ren’s collar.
“And here I am, thinking that we were friends!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“….I, uh, me too….” (Kitamura Ren)
“So, how can a friend ask for a favour like that?! It’d been more preferable if you had asked me to become your guarantor, cuz I would’ve done that!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
….Sob. He said he’d willingly become my guarantor…. What a good-hearted man he is…..
Ah, that’s not important, is it? (Kitamura Ren’s inner monologue)
“You know the kind of crap I have endured, yet how can you even ask me for such a thing?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
That’s why I didn’t ask you.
I made her ask you, instead. (Kitamura Ren’s inner monologue)
“We know that we’re asking for a difficult favour here.” (Ito Sana)
“Argh, I don’t care! Get out! I have nothing more to say to you!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“At this rate, the nation of Japan will be destroyed. And I’m sure you can already tell where the monsters would head to next once they are done with destroying Japan.” (Ito Sana)
Choi Jung-Hoon released Kitamura Ren’s collars and sat back down on the couch, before mouthing another cigarette.
“We beg of you.” (Ito Sana)
“There’s something I want to ask you first…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“This… Is this the official stance your government has taken? Are you asking me on behalf of your nation?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“It’s not like that, but…. If that’s what you want, we can arrange that. No, we can certainly do more than that if it needs be. That’s how desperate we are.” (Ito Sana)
“Oh, well. That man’s not someone who’d care even if it was an official request from another government, so that’s not that important, anyways…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon tilted his head this way and that.
He’d like to ignore this whole thing and not get involved if he could help it, but unfortunately, Korea and Japan were far too closely linked in economy. If Japan collapsed, then without a doubt, Korea wouldn’t be okay, either.
So, if he had to something about it, then….
“….I shall take this box for now. But….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Thank you!!” (Ito Sana)
“But this pittance, well, it’s not even enough to pay for me running an errand.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“….Pardon?” (Ito Sana)
“For now, draw up an official document.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Pardon??” (Ito Sana)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes began gleaming once more.
Allow me to completely clean you people out, right down to your souls.
You lot, you picked the wrong person today.
< 109. W, why are you coming out from there? -4 > Fin.