“Have we received an answer from them yet?” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren looked terrible from the dried sweat and ash from his cigars dirtying his face. He was in an utterly pitiful state as if his previous clean and confident appearance was nothing but a lie.
However, he didn’t even have the leeway to maintain the basic hygiene at the moment.
The United States of America boasted such a vast landmass, yet several of its cities were lying in smouldering ruins right now.
“Godd*mn it.” (Christopher McLaren)
America’s proud and superior ability users and her military, the best in the world, proved to be completely useless. They somehow managed to get themselves out of the X1 incident, but there was nothing they could do for this one.
They even resorted to deploying a tactical nuke on the monster as it roamed the desert, but then, the d*mn thing simply devoured the nuclear bomb and continued to march Northward.
There was only one way to resolve this situation.
And it’s name was Yi Ji-Hyuk.
The peerless ability user who defeated that nonsensically huge dragon with a single attack.
The strongest ability user in human history, exceeding the danger level ‘S’ and becoming the first-ever to be crowned ‘X’.
“Send another request to Korea through the diplomatic channel one more time. If that doesn’t work, then tell the Mister President to seriously consider paying a state visit to Korea.” (Christopher McLaren)
“However, that is….” (adjutant)
“Worry about your reputation and honour only after making sure that you still have a country to defend!” (Christopher McLaren)
What cruelly realistic words they were.
….For America to yield first.
Had something similar to that happened in the past 100 years?
“Our citizens take the priority. Presidents will change. And our honour can be restored at a later time. However, if there are no citizens left, then there will be no country.” (Christopher McLaren)
Even now, the populace was in a mad rush to escape to Canada. But if the situation worsened even further, who knew what else might happen?
“Secure Yi Ji-Hyuk! And do it fast!!” (Christopher McLaren)
“Sir, surely there are things that needs to take its natural course?”
“You dimwit! What will you do, if France manages to spirit him away first?!” (Christopher McLaren)
“Why would our ally do something like that, sir?”
Christopher grasped his head.
Suddenly, he was overcome with a strong urge to shove a massive amount of glucose down the throat of his adjutant so the boy’s brain might function better. (TL: Yep, “glucose” bit is actually from the raw. I double checked to make sure….)
“Forget about the past relations! With the current situation in this state, the world’s order will soon change! That d*mn tiny-a*s East Asian country now holds the fate of the entire planet in its hands! Don’t you get that?” (Christopher McLaren)
But, could it be really like that?
“A relationship is divided between the side who needs something, and the other who doesn’t. I hope you are not suggesting that we hold an advantage when it’s us who needs something?” (Christopher McLaren)
The adjutant could not disagree at all.
“Then, move your a*s! Do whatever it takes to bring him here! If you don’t, you and I will be out of a job soon! No, scratch that, our organisation itself will cease to exist altogether!” (Christopher McLaren)
“Yes, sir! I’ll keep that in mind!”
“I’ll also make a move, so get started right away.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren watched his adjutant leave his office as he picked up the phone. This wasn’t the time to worry about saving face and crap like that.
….Similar events were unfolding in several countries at the same time.
Thanks to that, the diplomatic channel of Korea was met with an unprecedented boom for the first time in its history. Those in charge of receiving the calls felt like they were dying from overwork, while those managing them realised that they simply couldn’t laugh this one off, either.
“So? What did he say?” (Minister)
“….Apparently, he has left for home, sir.”
Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs facepalmed, hard.
“He went home? Home?! When the situation is this bad?!” (Minister)
“Well, we don’t have any method of stopping him, Minister.”
“How can you even say that! Does he not draw his livelihood from the government?! So, how does it make any sort of sense that we can’t control him at all?!” (Minister)
‘If you know so much, why don’t you do it yourself, then?’
The secretary did his best to suppress those words from jumping out of his mouth.
“How can we control someone who doesn’t want anything, sir? If we threaten him with a dismissal, he’d jump up and down in delight. He doesn’t want money, and he already has a lot to play around with already. Influence? Apparently, he’s not even remotely interested.”
“What about woman, then?” (Minister)
“Would you like to take a look at this, sir?”
The Minister finished reading the detailed records of all the women surrounding Yi Ji-Hyuk and put the documents down, before roaring at the top of his lungs.
“Then what? Are you saying there is nothing we can do?! The international pressure is mounting on us with every passing second. And right now is the perfect timing, too! If we fail to grasp this chance, the benefits we can extract from them will only decrease later on!!” (Minister)
“For now, there is one person we can rely on, sir.”
“You mean, that guy named Choi Jung-Hoon?” (Minister)
Choi Jung-Hoon. Choi Jung-Hoon, was it….
He was a young and talented rising star, but how could the Minister bet the country’s fate on that man’s shoulders?
No, wait – it was still a matter of grave concern if he could make the miracle happen. He was still a wee little hatchling, but he seemingly possessed the ability to control this country’s most potent bargaining chip!
A long sigh formed from deep anxiety leaked out from the Minister’s mouth.
“Did he say he can make it happen?” (Minister)
“He said that, Yi Ji-Hyuk is an existence even beyond his ability to maintain, so he can’t give us a definite answer, but he’ll try his best.”
Yi Ji-Hyuk, Yi Ji-Hyuk…..
The most powerful ability user appearing in the nation of Korea was indeed something to celebrate, but why did the Minister feel that, rather than things becoming easier, everything had become far more complicated, instead?
“Really now….” (Minister)
Just why did an event like this one have to happen during his tenure?
“Okay, so. What is this Yi Ji-Hyuk doing right now?” (Minister)
“….We’re currently keeping an eye on him.”
“Where is he?” (Minister)
“Well, that is….”
“Please, speak up.” (Minister)
“….In an arcade….”
“Pardon me?!” (Minister)
The expression of the Minister became totally dumbfounded.
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at the victory screen and cackled like a villain.
This was it!
This was what victory tasted like!
How long did he have to go on without tasting this sweet tonic?
Seeing his character with that cool victory pose, it felt like all his bottled-up frustration was blown away in one shot.
“This is my power!!”
Now that the genre of the game had changed, his true abilities were shining through.
By switching from AoS to a fighting game, it felt like that the powers of the demon king of games, Yi Ji-Hyuk, had returned in full force. (TL note at the end)
In the past, he had conquered this very arcade and acted as its true boss! Back then, other top players from different arcades used to come here to challenge him, too!
Indeed, this kind of a genre where two men would square off against each other with their skills in a fair and forthright match was more to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s….
“Hey, you f*cking b*stard!!”
Even as a chair was thrown at his face, Yi Ji-Hyuk could find ample time to think about several matters in great depth.
Wait, is that a chair?
Oh, so could this be that famed chair shot, the one I’ve only heard about in rumours?
To receive a chair shot when I’m at this age already, after I’ve made it past my high school days without seeing it once!
What a refreshing experience this is!!
No, hang on a minute. That isn’t important!
Did this fool lose his d*mn mind?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began glaring at the other guy.
How dare that measly little fool chuck a chair at him?!
Yi Ji-Hyuk snatched the flying chair and put it down on the ground.
He then spotted a high school student with a big physique walking around from the other side of the arcade cabinets.
Yep, it’s a high schooler. A real high schooler.
How can he throw a chair around so confidently while wearing his school uniform?
Just what is happening to this country’s education?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Saddened by the current abysmal state of Korea’s education, Yi Ji-Hyuk grasped the chair he just put down quite tightly. From the ancient times, the quickest method of teaching someone was through physical means.
He may not know much about modern Korea’s way of teaching the youngins, but as far as Berafe’s methods were concerned, he was definitely an expert!
“What the hell? This b*stard sure acts how he looks, doesn’t he?”
*SFX for a sudden rush of anguish and rage*
Yi Ji-Hyuk had been surrounded by beautiful men and women lately and ended up being treated like a Squidward. That naturally frustrated him a great deal, so a simple little provocation like this caused some serious mental damage.
How I look?
What are you trying to say about my looks?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“You’re a man, yet you wanna play a game like a cheat?! Ahh?”
This fool has no idea, doesn’t he?
Who cares if it’s a game? Winning is everything!
You think you can hold your head up high after getting crushed?
Ahh, wait. No need to waste my breath talking to this fool. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
The muscles on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s arm holding the chair tensed up.
But then, this happened.
“Hey you, you dumb f*ck!!” (Chang-Sik)
When Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around to look, he spotted Oh-Sik…. No, Chang-Sik running towards here with a frightening turn of speed, before landing a splendid flying knee kick on the belligerent high schooler and blowing the fool away.
Issuing a pig’s squeal, the high schooler flew in the air, slid on the arcade’s floor, before crashing into spare chairs piled to the side.
Was Chang-Sik trying to kill the other guy or something?!
Even if it was Yi Ji-Hyuk, he wasn’t planning to go that far against a powerless high schooler, at least not to that extent!
However, Chang-Sik didn’t know that; he simply panted heavily to catch his breaths, and then proceeded to shower the KO’ed high schooler with a barrage of insults.
“What the hell, this crazy b*stard!! If you want to kill yourself, just bite your own tongue! You dumb sh*t! Who do you think you were trying to show off against?! You want to hold your own funeral today?” (Chang-Sik)
No, hang on a minute!! I’m telling you, I wasn’t intending to go that far, you know!!
You think I’m some kinda monster or something?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Sensing the gazes of the bystanders focusing on him, Yi Ji-Hyuk could only lick his lips.
This wasn’t what he wanted….
“Hyung-nim. It’s been a while.” (Chang-Sik)
“U, uh. Yeah.”
Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t even say anything, what with Chang-Sik bowing in half as if he was a folder or something. So, Yi Ji-Hyuk could only lower the chair back down on the ground.
Argh, I feel kinda short-changed and stuff. Maybe I should’ve just cracked open that fool’s skull. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“So, what’s up?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, well. I came out to have some fun, but then, I saw you in the distance so I came to say hello.” (Chang-Sik)
“You’re a student so you should be studying, not wasting time in an arcade.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Chang-Sik giggled while poking his tongue out.
Don’t laugh with that face, dude….
You’re scaring me, Chang-Sik-ah.
I thought I might have gotten more or less used to your looks because of Oh-Sik. But that boy turned into a cute and cuddly little thing, so I just can’t get used to how you look, man.
“Hyung-nim. Uh…. I heard that you’re an ability user now.” (Chang-Sik)
“Yeah, I am. Did Ye-Won tell you that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes. Hyung-nim, I also heard that you work for the NDF now. Is this true?” (Chang-Sik)
“Well, yeah, things worked out that way.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The government promoted NDF a great deal nationally, and most of its agents were shown on TV at least once or twice. The only ones to escape the camera lens were probably Yi Ji-Hyuk and Doh Gah-Yun and not many else.
Being on the receiving end of Chang-Sik’s somewhat ardent, desperate gaze, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s body involuntarily shuddered from fear.
Wasn’t that how an Ogre looks at a juicy slab of meat?!
Why does this idiot’s face look like this? Seriously man.
Wait, if I punch him in the face a couple of times and pay for his plastic surgery, wouldn’t his life work out for the better? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
While Yi Ji-Hyuk seriously considered bettering his junior’s future, Chang-Sik was earnestly pleading with him.
“Just once, can you take me there? Please?” (Chang-Sik)
“Mm? What will you do once you get there?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“There is someone I’d really like to meet.” (Chang-Sik)
“Who?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’ve received her aid last time, you see. Her name is Miss Seo Ah-Young….” (Chang-Sik)
You received her aid?
Wait a minute, could this be…. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes unfortunately clapped on the slightly-blushing face of Chang-Sik.
S, stop iiiiitttt!!
Stop being shy with that face of yours!!
What the f*ck?! Even when I was attacked by history’s greatest Grand Sorcerer in mind manipulation magic, Bolanputz, I never received this much mental damage!
Ah. Right, I was totally immune against any and all mental attacks back then, wasn’t I. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“O, oh. Really?”
“Yes, Hyung-nim! If you take me there, I’d like to express my gratitude to her personally!” (Chang-Sik)
“….Can’t I just pass on the message?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, I’d like to deliver it to her personally.” (Chang-Sik)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head slightly.
“By the way, am I mistaken for thinking that your words don’t sound like you’re asking me for a favour, but you’re threatening me instead?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Chang-Sik hurriedly waved around both of his hands.
Don’t do that, too…. It’s like you’re trying to attack me.
“There’s no way that’s true, Hyung-nim!! How can I even dare to?! I’d never threaten you, Hyung-nim! I know that I only have one life!” (Chang-Sik)
If you say that while walking around with such a big physique, just what will other people think of me? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a lengthy groan after hearing the hushed whispers of the surrounding arcade goers.
It seemed that he’d not be able to come back to this arcade ever again. Seriously now, even if he wanted to play a match, who’d be brave enough to challenge him in this place?
‘Hah. Seriously man….’
“Okay, fine. I’ll take you. Come to my place first thing tomorrow morning.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Truly, Hyung-nim??” (Chang-Sik)
“Do I look like I’d joke around with you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“By the way, Hyung-nim….” (Chang-Sik)
“I won’t be able to enter your residential area…..” (Chang-Sik)
One after the other, huh.
That’s just brilliant.
“Fine. I’ll go to your place to fetch you, then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Thank you, Hyung-nim!! Then, I’ll see you tomorrow morning!!” (Chang-Sik)
Leaving behind those words, Chang-Sik grasped the back of the neck of the fainted high schooler still buried within the pile of chairs and dragged the sucker out of the arcade.
That appearance reminded Yi Ji-Hyuk of an Ogre getting ready to munch on human snack, and that gave him a nasty case of goosebumps.
However, just as Chang-Sik was disappearing from the view, Yi Ji-Hyuk went Oops, and quickly called out to the boy.
“You gotta tell me where your house is first, Chang-Sik-ah!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Unfortunately, Chang-Sik was long gone by then.
“Eh-whew. A guy who’s not blessed can’t achieve anything, I guess.”
< 123. A guy who’s not blessed can’t achieve anything -3 > Fin.
(TL: So, finally, I figured out what this AoS thing was all about. It’s actually an acronym for Aeons of Strife, a map from Starcraft, which pretty much became the granddaddy of the MOBA genre. I found out that cough some online hipsters think calling MOBAs AoS makes more sense. Cuz, you know, naming the whole genre after the first “game” to populise it makes sense somehow. Like, calling racing games GT, or FPS as W3D…)