Christopher McLaren lit his cigar up and nodded his head. Thick smoke swirled inside his lungs before very slowly escaping from his mouth.
“That’s right.” (Christopher McLaren)
“But, training? Are you saying that we desperately need training from that person?”
Even though his subordinate was quite openly displaying his dissatisfaction, Christopher McLaren didn’t scold him.
Because, even he knew how shameful this whole thing was.
Indeed, being trained by an ability user from another country, when the American users all thought they were the greatest in the world already, was a deeply insulting matter.
“The current reality of the situation is the problem.” (Christopher McLaren)
Unfortunately, this was no longer the time to hold on to their petty pride any more.
“I’m not trying to abandon our pride! This is all for the sake of holding our heads up high!” (Christopher McLaren)
“But, how will we do that, sir?”
Christopher McLaren angrily tapped his cigar on the ashtray, before lifting it back up to his mouth and took several deep puffs again. The ends of his cigar reddened up considerably and more smoke oozed out.
“Look here.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Think about which one of these two will be more insulting to us.” (Christopher McLaren)
Without waiting for the reply, Christopher McLaren continued on.
“Is Yi Ji-Hyuk training our ability users a shameful matter, or is it more shameful for us to run over to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s feet, kowtow before him and plead like beggars every time a strong monster pops out in the future?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Without a doubt, it’s the latter, sir.”
“That’s right. That’s the problem.” (Christopher McLaren)
A monster like Seti had already made its appearance. Which meant, there was no guarantee that no such monsters would ever appear again in US soil.
However, how insulting would it be when the only solution to such eventualities was to ask Yi Ji-Hyuk for his favour?
Christopher McLaren also didn’t want to ask for such a favour. Even if he got a positive answer, he still had lots of thing to get done, such as getting the other departments to cooperate, as well as to get the go-ahead from the higher-ups, too.
However, this was something he absolutely had to do, even if it meant he would be going through all that nonsense.
“But, what will training change, sir? The abilities of the ability users are almost impossible to improve, as far as I’m aware.”
“Take a look at this.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren turned the computer monitor towards his subordinate; the screen showed a handsome Asian man.
It was the Spitfire Yun Hyuk-Gyu.
The footage showed him utterly laying waste to a powerful monster that had emerged from a Gate.
“That was a level 4 Gate.” (Christopher McLaren)
“According to our intel, they had to insert several high rank ability users to deal with a level 4 Gate in the past. We confirmed that this Spitfire guy had participated in such operations several times. However, after a certain point in time, each Korean user suddenly became strong enough to take care of a level 4 Gate by themselves.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Is it just pure coincidence that they suddenly became stronger after Yi Ji-Hyuk made his first appearance?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Not likely, sir.”
“That’s right, not very likely. And that is why pride or whatever isn’t our most pressing issue. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?” (Christopher McLaren)
“I understand you, sir. It’s just that, I’m still not fully comfortable with the idea, that’s all.”
“Better get used to it, fast.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren clenched his cigar tightly.
Indeed, they had to get used to this new situation. Because, many more such events would occur in the future, too.
“Okay, fine. That’s that, so any new information on the whereabouts of Alpha?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Sir, we still can’t grasp his rough location, even now….”
If Yi Ji-Hyuk was like an atomic bomb buried underground, then Alpha was like a missing high-calibre explosive.
Yi Ji-Hyuk might be more dangerous if he went off, but the problem with Alpha was that no one could quite tell when and where he would go off.
“And when our agents have to go away for a while during the training period, trying to locate him and keeping tabs on him would become even more difficult, too.” (Christopher McLaren)
“For the time being, keep searching.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren shifted his gaze back to the computer monitor and muttered to himself.
“What a nightmare to predict….”
Both Yi Ji-Hyuk and Alpha….
It was getting harder and harder to predict what was in store for this world every single day.
“Training the American ability users, you say?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s correct.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“But, weren’t they a prideful bunch?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon also found this point a bit puzzling as well, this act of them forgetting their national pride as the world’s most powerful country and requesting Yi Ji-Hyuk to train them.
Of course, it wasn’t as if Choi Jung-Hoon couldn’t understand where they were coming from, but still….
“It’s quite likely that they now believe monsters like Seti will continue to appear in the future.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Seo Ah-Young frowned deeply.
“I’m against it.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jung-Hoon shifted his gaze over to Seo Ah-Young.
“Why, ma’am?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Well, if you think about it, that is… You’re trying to strengthen the combat potential of another nation, isn’t it? Not only that, it’s the US of A, you know?” (Seo Ah-Young)
She wasn’t wrong there.
Choi Jung-Hoon found her words logical to a certain extent as well.
For sure, there was no real need to go out of his way to help out another nation. There was no denying that.
However, the current situation dictated that one couldn’t continue to think that way anymore.
“It isn’t as if I hadn’t thought about that, but the truth is, if things continue as it is, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk would end up bearing a massive responsibility, a huge burden, all by himself. Which I think is a far bigger problem.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Seo Ah-Young wordlessly turned her head towards Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Seeing him with his legs perched up on the conference table and giggling to himself while playing a game on his phone – as if he was utterly disinterested by the proceedings – she found it rather tough to associate his current appearance to the term ‘burden’.
“So, you were saying something about ‘burden’ and stuff?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“….Yes, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
You should at least pretend to be hard-hit when someone speaks about your troubles, you know!! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s innards were burning up, but if that man suddenly started caring about such matters, then he couldn’t be Yi Ji-Hyuk at all.
Nope, it must be a doppelgänger or some such….
“Burden, is it…. Hmm, he looks to be burdened…. Hmm…..” (Seo Ah-Young)
Cold sweat drops formed on Choi Jung-Hoon’s forehead.
“Well, he’s taking a break right now. Honestly, he has been resolving every single crisis we’ve run into so far, hasn’t he?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“That’s only because he’s a lazy bum, though.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Stop talking about facts!
Stop talking about truth as you see it, you know!
Don’t you know that those who speak truth in the past didn’t get to enjoy long and uneventful lives? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“Yup, they all ended up drinking poison.” (Choi Jung-Hoon) (TL note at the end.)
“Pardon me?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Nope, it’s nothing.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon quickly waved his hands around and did his best to change the topic.
“In any case, it’s not practical for Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk to travel to all corners of this planet. Also, we must not do that as well. We are not their cleaners, and we’re definitely not mercenaries, either. If we were to go every which way just because they requested us, we’d only cheapen ourselves.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“We?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….I meant Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Can’t you just let that one slide?
What a small minded person. (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“But, I’ve been super-helpful, right?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min’s expression brightened up and she pushed her face closer to Yi Ji-Hyuk.
He nodded his head and patted her head.
“Sure, you’ve been a good shuttle.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jeong Hae-Min began tilting her head while he continued to pat her like a little kid.
“Why do I feel a bit weird right now?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
It was like, she was being acknowledged, but at the same time, not really.
“Well, anyways. I’m better than the useless cheerleading squad, right?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Seo Ah-Young began growling at that provocation.
“What did you say, you little…?!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Hey, you! How can you be so rude to your unni? Ji-Hyuk-ah! Please do something!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled happily and spoke to the both of them.
“Why don’t you two shut the hell up before I blow you away?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And so, the two females shut their mouths up real fast.
“So, the thing is….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stuffed his phone back in the pocket and righted his posture.
“You’re saying, how about I train the American users, is that about right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s not just the Americans, either. If someone requests us, we check out their situation and get everything we can from them. Also, this should prove to be pretty helpful to you as well, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, saving yourself much time and effort in the future.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk rubbed his nose while closing his eyes.
Of course, looking at it from the long-term prospect, it would certainly be of some help. But then, the idea of working his butt off now for some intangible benefit in the distant future sounded too correct and too bothersome to his ears.
How about him being comfortable right now and work his butt off later?
“But, I don’t particularly feel like doing it….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’ll be of a great help to you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk! It’s going to help you, so why don’t you want to do it?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s pouting face greeted Choi Jung-Hoon.
“Why don’t you exercise more, study harder, eat healthy food, avoid high salt content, and decrease the amount of your intake of energy tonics?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Pardon me?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“All those will help you out, Mister Choi Jung-Hoon, so why aren’t you doing them right now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Well, uh, that’s because, uhm….
Huh? I really don’t have anything to say, no? How should I retort here? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“How can a human being live on while doing nothing but helpful things?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon began shuddering grandly after losing out in today’s logical argument.
To lose to Yi Ji-Hyuk! Not only that, on logic, too!
Something felt far too humiliating here.
“B-b-but, still…..” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tutted and slowly massaged his throat for a bit.
Yi Ji-Hyuk suddenly shouted to the outside of the office, and a low voice could be heard coming from beyond the door.
“What’s the matter?” (Affeldrichae)
“If someone’s calling for you, you should come inside here and talk face to face! Wouldn’t you agree?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m in the middle of a match.” (Affeldrichae)
“….That stupid game.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
I’ve wronged you so much.
My mom must’ve felt like this, looking at me playing games.
Maybe, she’s deliberately trying to make me feel this sensation. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“Anyways. Are the Gates getting bigger or what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“There is a very good chance that they are. Well, the tear between the dimensions is growing, after all.” (Affeldrichae)
While Yi Ji-Hyuk was pondering the contents of the conversation, others in the conference room were pondering about something else entirely.
Why did that voice sound oh-so clear to them?
If a voice came from past the door, it had to go through various small or big things to get here, so the sound had to be muffled and all that. They couldn’t help but be weirded out from the fact that voice sounded like it came from right next to them, each syllable ringing crystal clear.
‘Is this another type of special ability?’
To someone who didn’t know anything about magic, they would never truly understand what it was capable of.
“Well, the conclusion is pretty simple, isn’t it. Stronger monsters will keep showing up and go on a rampage, and at the rate we’re going, I’d end up globe-trotting everyday, with the road serving as my bed.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s correct.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And so, I gotta strengthen other ability users and sort that situation out before it gets worse. Am I right so far?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes. Not to the extent where they can fight against super-powerful monsters, but still be able to somehow deal with those that are on the cusp of being irritating to you.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“But, it’s not like there’s one or two ability users out there, you know…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
So, just when would he get to train them all?
Even if he did train them, there would be still….
Hang on a minute. There is no real need for me to work my butt off here, is there? (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Suddenly realising something, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s head rose up in a flash.
“Let’s do it!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon smiled brightly in happiness as he didn’t expect Yi Ji-Hyuk to say yes this quickly and painlessly.
“You made the correct decision. Well then, I’ll call the Americans right away.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“No, no. Wait. Not right now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Pardon me?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“We are not ready yet, you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Ready? Ready for what?
Choi Jung-Hoon got this chilly sensation all of a sudden.
“W-what is this?!” (Seo Ah-Young)
However, there was someone else in this room who could pick up on that chilling sensation far more acutely than he did. Seo Ah-Young shot up from her seat and hurriedly, maniacally scanned her surroundings.
“Why do I sense something ominous right now?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at her and began cackling.
These ability users, they sure were rather perceptive, weren’t they?
“Director Seo Ah-Young?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seo Ah-Young’s body shrunk back like a terrified baby mouse after hearing the evil cat named Yi Ji-Hyuk call out to her.
“The thing is, ability users from other countries aren’t the most pressing issue here. Nope, it’s the ones right in front of my eyes who aren’t being very useful at all. They are the true problem.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…..We’ve been doing our best, though?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“There’s no meaning in you doing your best! No, it’s the results that matters!! This world is all about results! You are this old already, so how can you not realise that by now?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
My age, your age, whatever….
Seo Ah-young was in no position to retort back and could only cautiously ask him.
“….So what are you saying, then?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“We will go with a pyramid structure from now on.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If you were thinking of micromanaging every level there is, you won’t even get to reel in anyone useful at all, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cackled on like a villain.
“My dear comrades.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, I shall call you the ‘instructors’ from now on. Instructor, you all are now entrusted with the weighty and critical responsibility of levelling up the countless ability users found throughout this world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What the freaking hell? Why is it ‘we all’ and not you?? (Seo Ah-Young’s inner monologue)
“However, in order to make that happen, your own levels must rise higher.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
So, this was it, then.
Seo Ah-Young finally identified the cause for anxiety she’d been feeling until now and began despairing.
“Gather everyone.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
His voice sounded as if it came straight from the depths of hell. At least, that’s how it sounded like from her perspective.
And that was the laughter of the devil.
Seo Ah-Young slowly double facepalmed.
< 139. Don’t say it like that -4 > Fin.
(TL: Drinking poison – “sah-yak” was a deadly liquid poison that the kings of Joseon-era Korea usually handed out as a punishment of death. The whole thing is slightly different from executions, though, in that you had to willingly drink it yourself. Kinda like the ritual suicide thing in Japanese culture, but with a royal twist.)