Chapter 111: I would never grease my palms only, you know (1)

Inside the NDF offices…

“Japan?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk placed his feet on the desk and turned his head slightly to stared at Choi Jung-Hoon standing behind him.

‘What could this be?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

How could he go about describing that mysterious aura coming from that guy’s facial expression?

Self-assuredness? Pride? Confidence?

It was hard to tell what it was exactly, but one thing was for sure – Choi Jung-Hoon, who had been acting like a loser for a while, had fully regained his former glory.

“Ho-oh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk lowered his feet off the desk and spun around along with the chair.

And he saw Choi Jung-Hoon and his confidently straight back.

It was as if he was declaring that he was unequivocally THE MAN.

That man’s long, smooth legs, slightly hourglass-like waistline, and his wide-open, square shoulders….

And his sharp, manly face, located above those manly features.

Yi Ji-Hyuk began feeling this sensation of his entire being slowly boiling over from the inside.

He was already feeling pretty rotten after being treated as a squid the night before. Why did this guy have to be such a handsome b*stard, too?

The aura Choi Jung-Hoon exuded after the powerful self belief returned to his facial expression, was nothing to scoff at.

However….

That face, there’s something else there, isn’t it?

How can I put it in words…. Ah, that’s right!

Back when I was working in a kingdom called Randel, I had this one subordinate who showed up with a face similar to Choi Jung-Hoon’s, the day after he fooled around with a married woman.

That’s the face a guy makes when he’s covering up his guilty conscience with confidence, isn’t it?

However, Choi Jung-Hoon isn’t a guy who’d go around having an affair with married women, so….. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

“So, did you receive a bribe, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Maybe you’re secretly a mind reader?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“What was that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“N, no. It’s nothing.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon waved his hands around in denial, coughed to clear his throat, fanned some air to his face, and loosened his tie.

‘Yup, he definitely got bribed.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

How could he be so transparent like that?

“How much was it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I, I said, it’s not like that!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Miss Seo Ah-Young!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Seo Ah-Young tore her attention from her work and raised her head.

“Yes?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Call the audit department! We got ourselves a Lupin here!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Okay, we’ll arrest him immediately.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Eheeiii!!!!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon waved his hands once more. And then, with an unreadable expression on his face, he leaned in very close to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s ear and whispered.

“I would never grease my palms only, you know.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“For now, hold it with the audit department.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled brightly and extended his hand out to Choi Jung-Hoon.

Choi Jung-Hoon also smiled, albeit with a crafty expression, and grasped Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hand.

GRAB!!

However, his hand was squeezed by the pressure far greater than what Choi Jung-Hoon had been expecting.

“……….?”

“Hey, so, like….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s smile deepened.

“How about telling me how much they gave you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….You devil.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Despair began dyeing Choi Jung-Hoon’s complexion.

 

*

 

Rustle.

Yi Ji-Hyuk wetted his fingertips with his saliva and turned the pages of the document Choi Jung-Hoon gave to him.

“Ha, they really gave you lots, didn’t they?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“……”

“Holy cow. How can a lone guy rip off this much from a government? Yeah, I gotta admit, this is really impressive, you know? And seriously now, dude, you don’t have any conscience whatsoever.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

You are unqualified to talk about conscience here.

Even if I get scolded and pointed at by every single person on this planet, you are still not eligible to do that!

Where do you think I learned this from?

Just who was it that looked like he’d go for the kill and even demand one’s underwear during the negotiations?!

I used to be a really honest and upright guy, don’t you know that?! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)

“Hah? What’s this? Free shopping privilege at the Akihabara shopping district?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“………….”

Yi Ji-Hyuk narrowed his eyes and stared at Choi Jung-Hoon.

“So, you have the tendencies of an…..” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Nooo, that’s not it! I only have the hobby of assembling Gunplas, that’s all!! I’m not an otaku!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon) (TL: Gunplas = Mobile Suit Gundam mech figurines)

“Looks like there’s a slight gap between the world’s definition of an otaku and yours, but the thing is, you’d definitely qualify as an otaku….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I said, I’m not one!!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Mm….”

Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head.

Sometimes, not asking too many questions and glossing over the matter at hand was quite helpful in maintaining a healthy and friendly relationship.

“Okay, so, Mister Choi Deok-Hoo-nim.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL note at the end)

“It’s not like thaaaaaat!!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Time to change the subject, then!

“Okay, so just what did you promise them in order to get all these, uh, benefits?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“It’s pretty simple, actually.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Simple, is it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jung-Hoon narrowed his eyes and spoke.

“Yes, it is an…. exceedingly simple matter. By performing this exceedingly simple work, we can earn enormous amounts of benefits for our nation, for ourselves, and for our organisation. I am quite confident that you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, will also greatly benefit from this matter. So, what do you say? Doesn’t the prospect intrigue you?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Ng, no, not really. Don’t wanna hear it so, men, take him away!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“No, wait a minute!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon cried out as he got dragged out of the office by two stern-looking audit department agents.

“I’m serious!! It’s a really, re~~lly simple work!! Please, think about it for a second! I, Choi Jung-Hoon, have brought in this work so it can’t be bad! Aren’t you at least a tiny bit curious just what kind of benefits you’d earn from this exceedingly simple and easy work?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Not curious and don’t care.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“WAIT a minute!!!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon yanked his arms loose from the grips of the agents, and straightened his business suit.

“You might grow to regret this decision, you know?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Mmm…. Regretting, eh. Regret….

Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head sagely and shouted out.

“Throw that criminal inside a cell, right away!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Hiiiick?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon’s face paled in an instant.

“How dare a guy who received bribes openly show his face around here?! Have you no shame? Maybe eating bean rice will sober you up real good!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL: bean rice = a Korean slang for prison food)

“Prisons don’t serve bean rice anymore, you know?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“I’ll send some in from the outside, so don’t you worry and enjoy your time inside.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“N, no! Wait a minute! Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!! Give me one more chance!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

When Choi Jung-Hoon began wailing uncontrollably while shouting out, Seo Ah-Young clicked her tongue and spoke.

“Why don’t we listen to him first, at least?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Hah…..”

What a bother this was.

One would only need to throw the criminal into a dark, dank jail cell or turn him into monster food and that’d be the end of that.

“Okay, fine. Speak up, please.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jung-Hoon hurriedly cried out.

“You are going to help them out in the end anyways, aren’t you?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Eh?”

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“You’ll push and pull for a little while before you decide to help them out anyways! If that’s going to happen, then wouldn’t it make more sense to get what we can get from them?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“And why would I help them out in the end?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Lots of people are going to die, and a nation is about to be destroyed, so how can you turn a blind eye to that? I know full well that you’ll help them out while pretending to be reluctant and stuff.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“But, I’m not gonna do that, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk replied with a pouting expression.

“I’m not gonna help them.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“E, eh?!”

Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes widened.

“Why should I help them out?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“No, wait, but still….. Do you perhaps hold some kind of a negative sentiment towards the Japanese people?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Nope, not at all. It’s not like they bothered me or anything.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“If that’s the case, then why?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head.

“What a strange question to ask. Is there a reason for me to help them out in the first place?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“People will die, no?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“From what I hear, people in Africa are getting killed by the monsters as we speak, and similar things are happening all around the world right now, so…. Do you think those things my responsibilities, too?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jung-Hoon firmly shook his head.

“No, they are not.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“So, why should I help them, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Because, until now, you always helped out while pretending to be reluctant, that’s why!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“But, that’s because Korea was involved, you know? It’s because this is my home base. Meaning, I’m not going to cross the ocean to help another country out.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Could Yi Ji-Hyuk have been a territorial animal?

“Mmm……”

Choi Jung-Hoon wiped dry the edges of his eyes.

“I guess I should return all these benefits back, then.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Uh? Why?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Because, you decided to not to help them out.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“And what does that got to do with the gifts?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I got them under the pretext that you’ll help them out.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk clicked his tongue.

“They’ve already greased you, so you can just keep them.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Wouldn’t they ask me to return the gifts?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Who’s going to?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Pardon?”

“The way I hear it, half of Japan is about to disappear soon, so who’s going to ask you to return the gifts? Surely, they’d be too occupied to care, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Ah….

That’s true, isn’t it?

What is up with this guy? How could he think of such things in moments like these? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)

“It’ll be nicer still if those who knows about this deal disappear during the chaos, but even if they don’t, do you really think they would ask you to return these things?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Indeed, they wouldn’t.

If another Gate similar to the one opening right now appeared in the near future, the country would definitely be destroyed, after all. In order to prepare for such an eventuality, they wouldn’t do anything to worsen their relationship with Yi Ji-Hyuk, no matter what.

‘Could he have thought that far ahead before making his mind up?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Sure, it wasn’t a difficult thing to predict, but….

Technically speaking, what the youth did here was to hold 100 million lives as hostages. Him being able to speak so nonchalantly regarding this matter gave Choi Jung-Hoon a nasty bout of goosebumps.

“Did something terrible happen in Japan?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

When Jeong Hae-Min asked, Choi Jung-Hoon nodded his head. Although the information was top-secret, everyone present here was seen as the most important individuals in the country, so it was fine.

“A Gate opened there.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“But, that happens all the time, though?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“This Gate is quite different, apparently.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Please explain in a way that I can understand.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Hmm. So, a new type of a Gate has appeared. And it’s getting bigger as time passes by.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Something like that can happen?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“According to the information we have, it’s happening in not just Japan, but the similar type of Gates have appeared in the States and in France as well. We can’t be sure of how many such Gates have appeared around the world since no confirmation has been made yet. For now, everyone’s doing their best to figure out whether this change is only a one-time event, or if Gates themselves are going to behave permanently in this manner moving on.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Jeong Hae-Min tilted her head this way and that before asking Yi Ji-Hyuk.

“Is this a serious problem?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Why are you asking me about that? You worked as a teleporter for five years already, so how come you can’t figure that out by just listening to him?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Well, I was always busy with the broadcast schedule, so….” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“What would an extra like you possibly be busy with?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I’m gonna hit you!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“You wanna die?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Eeeekkk!!!”

Yi Ji-Hyuk easily grasped the head of rushing Jeong Hae-Min and shoved her away.

“Why don’t you explain more clearly? A Gate is getting bigger?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Yes. At first, it was around the size of a person, but now, it has ballooned up to Level 6. Worse still, it’s apparently still getting larger as we speak.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around and stared at Affeldrichae.

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“……….”

However, she was too engrossed in the computer game and she didn’t even seem to have heard the conversation taking place.

“Start your briefing, lizard woman!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Can’t I do it later? I’m in the middle of a really important melee.” (Affeldrichae)

“Which is more important, your melee or the power cable?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….The power cable.” (Affeldrichae)

Affeldrichae lightly tsked and began her explanation.

“Gates are spells that connect one space coordinate to another. You decide the size to match your needs when casting the spell. But, in most cases, you wouldn’t change the Gate’s size after you finish casting the spell. So, the current situation could only come from someone using some sort of an artifact or a Mana crystal to supplement the lacking Mana to slowly increase the size of the Gate to the one you wanted in the first place.” (Affeldrichae)

Choi Jung-Hoon was tilting his head constantly.

Mana Crystals?

Artifacts?

What was she even talking about?

Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a lengthy groan.

“In other words, someone’s behind these Gates, huh. An existence that can bring the necessary artifacts and Mana crystals into this world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Most likely. Probably.” (Affeldrichae)

“Yeah, it’s the demon world, isn’t it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk began frowning.

The demon world.

The place that was instantly familiar and intimate to him. A place he’d not mind visiting, too. But, at the same time, a place that was just as horrendous in many ways.

Besides their powers, the rulers of that place emitted such a nonsensical amount of evil intent that even Yi Ji-Hyuk’s teeth would clatter.

“Gates connected to the demon world, is it….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Hah…..

What a bother. Seriously, man.

“Does that mean Tokyo will be destroyed?! But, it can’t!! I’ve got lots of fans there!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

‘….If I ask Affeldrichae, would she be able to open up this dumb girl’s head without killing her?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“And also, there’s this ramen shop I like so much, too!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Suddenly, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes took on the dangerous glint.

“Is, is it tasty?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Yeah.”

“In that case!! We’re having lunch there today!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…..Eh?”

People began looking at Yi Ji-Hyuk with dumbfounded expressions.

“But, a Gate is opening up there, you know?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“If it opens up, we can just run away!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Well, that’s true, isn’t it.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“If the shop disappears, then we will never get the chance to eat there again, so why don’t we pay a visit before that happens?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I agree.” (Seo Ah-Young)

Seo Ah-Young nodded her head quickly. Indeed, those words made total logical sense.

While ignoring Seo Ah-Young creepily whispering to herself as she searched for the Japanese ramen menus online, Yi Ji-Hyuk settled down deeply in his chair.

‘The demon world, is it….’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

If they did their homework, then they should’ve realised that he was here. Yet, they were still going ahead with their schemes?

‘I guess my reputation has softened a lot, huh.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

He couldn’t tell which fool was thinking of crossing over, but….

If they had problems remembering, then he’d rebrand new memories in their brains.

….The memories of the 99th demon king, that was.

 

< 111. I would never grease my palms only, you know -1 > Fin.

 

(TL: This line is a follow up to an earlier joke – the one about Choi Jung-Hoon having tendencies of an otaku. “Deok-Hoo” is a Korean slang for a “maniac” or, more correctly, someone who’s an otaku.)

- my thoughts:
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