“What?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun came to work late today because he was on night shift duty, so when he came back to work, he couldn’t even begin to fathom what was going on here after hearing about the order to gather around.
“A meeting?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Yup. Everyone.” (Park Sung-Chan)
Hearing Park Sung-Chan’s reply, Kim Dah-Hyun sighed deeply.
“But, why? Did someone cause an incident or something?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Who knows…. But, I hear it’s Yi Ji-Hyuk who’s calling for one, though?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“That son of a b*tch….” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
As soon as he heard the name ‘Yi Ji-Hyuk’, Kim Dah-Hyun began cussing without hesitation. The ‘Iron’ Park Sung-Chan simply nodded his head silently and agreed with Kim Dah-Hyun’s opinion.
“What does he want now?! What!” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Who knows.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Hah. Driving me f*cking crazy.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun massaged the bridge of his nose after seeing Park Sung-Chan groaning out rather helplessly.
They had never, ever imagined that the NDF would devolve into its current state.
Just how excited were they, after hearing the news of the new organisation’s formation where the country’s top ability users would be gathered. There they were, thinking that, being a part of this organisation would get you recognised as the cream among Korea’s top crop and get to stand on top of the lesser ability users.
That was why, when the request to join the organisation came by their way, they said yes without a shred of hesitation….
“From the word go, the whole thing went sideways.”
Kim Dah-Hyun recalled meeting Yi Ji-Hyuk for the very first time.
Just thinking about it caused his once-broken nose to twitch.
He came here thinking that this was an organisation of elite ability users, but what he found instead was…..
The one and only Flame Witch was just a figurehead, and that amazingly-capable Choi Jung-Hoon had become Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lackey.
It might nominally be the Korea’s defence force, but in reality, it was the same thing as Yi Ji-Hyuk’s private organisation, instead.
The person supposedly in charge was trembling in fear of Yi Ji-Hyuk, so how could anyone expect things to run properly in this place?!
“We might as well die, no?” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan jokingly threw that line out and Kim Dah-Hyun nodded his head.
This was so weird.
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t really cause them any big harm.
Sure, him throwing them into that hell hole for several months was something they would never, ever forget until their dying day, but then again, he didn’t really torment them after that event, now did he?
Indeed, he didn’t even go out of his way to use them like slaves, either.
Well, one would only try to abuse you if one was actually interested in you first, though.
To Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes, these guys were more or less like ‘Pebble A’ found on the side of the road.
Still, Kim Dah-Hyun could understand where this oddity came from, this strange state of him and others being unable to get over the lingering fear and anxiety of Yi Ji-Hyuk even now….
“….Once you experience that event, you’d stop saying those kind of things, though.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
What a horrifying thing that was.
If he could, he’d cut out the memories of those six months from his head with a knife. Even now, he’d sometimes wake up at night from the nightmares of those months.
He wasn’t even getting re-drafted into the army or something, but still, he feared that experience would remain etched in his mind as an irreparable trauma for the rest of his life.
“Okay, so. Where are we supposed to gather around?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“The conference room.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“….Let’s go.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
As Kim Dah-Hyun headed off to the conference room with slumped shoulders, Park Sung-Chan gently patted him on the back.
“….Why did he call us here?”
“I wonder about that, too.”
“Do you know what’s going on here, Mister Dah-Hyun?”
“I don’t know anything either.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“Even though you’re closest to Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk among us….?”
“What did you say, you f*cking a*shole?!” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
As the flames of fury erupted from the eyes of Kim Dah-Hyun, the surroundings NDF agents shouted out in his support.
“Hey, man. Watch what you say!”
“That’s right. Stop insulting the man, okay?”
The guy who spoke out of line just now quickly lowered his head and apologised.
“I, I’m really sorry. I said something really stupid.”
“Be careful next time!!” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun panted heavily and sat back down in his chair. The guy who spoke out of line asked again, sounding a bit bitter now.
“However, did I really say something that offensive?”
“Look here. If you say ‘You’re pretty friendly with the Japanese government’ to a Korean forcibly dragged away by the Japanese army, what do you think he will say back to you?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“….He’ll probably beat me half to death…..”
“That’s what you just said.” (Kim Dah-Hyuk)
“….I’m truly sorry.”
The guy who spoke out of line finally realised his terrible slip of tongue and lowered his head in shame.
“I was really careless back then.”
“Don’t do it again.” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan warn that guy and turned around.
“Has anyone seen Yi Ji-Hyuk arriving here in the morning?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“It looked like he came directly from France.”
“How did his mood look back then?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“….Hmm, I wonder. He didn’t look too happy, somehow. Should I say that he looked ready to flip out at any moment?”
“That’s how he’s like normally.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Oh, I guess you’re right.”
Just when did Yi Ji-Hyuk look like he was in a happier mood? Everyday, he’d just lose his crap over something minor, and get p*ssed off, get irritated, and roar at the top of his lungs after he got his a*s handed back to him in the video game, which would only serve to worsen the atmosphere in the office.
What a rotten, stinking b*stard he was.
“Okay, so, no one knows why we had to gather here today, then?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Mister Sung-Chan, even you don’t know why, so how can we know anything?”
Park Sung-Chan scratched his head.
Even though they were all NDF agents, a sort of hierarchy had been established with Yi Ji-Hyuk occupying the top position.
With Yi Ji-Hyuk on top, Seo Ah-Young and Choi Jung-Hoon alongside him; and then there were Doh Gah-Yun and Jeong Hae-Min, then Affeldrichae was recently added as someone at top as well. Just below them were the ‘Iron’, ‘Path Drifter’, ‘Spitfire’, ‘Rudra’, and Kitamura Ren as well as couple other original NDF agents, and then, there were newer recruits below them.
In the beginning, there were barely over ten people here, but now, there were over thirty in this place.
Among them, both Kim Dah-Hyun and Park Sung-Chan were seen as the top old guards who were in a position to speak to Yi Ji-Hyuk freely.
“Just what is he trying to do this time…..” (Park Sung-Chan)
When Park Sung-Chan sighed helplessly, a strange voice suddenly came from behind him.
“By the way, there’s something I just can’t wrap my head around….”
When Park Sung-Chan turned his head to look, a certain man was staring at him and Kim Dah-Hyun with an expression full of dissatisfaction.
“About what?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Why are you guys still listening to that idiot’s orders?”
Park Sung-Chan quietly studied this dude with a slightly insolent tone of voice.
“Mm…. Who were you again?” (Park Sung-Chan)
The dude got triggered and shouted out loudly.
“It’s Kim Myung-Woon! The ‘Red Rock’ Kim Myung-Woon!!”
“Ahh, right. You were ‘Red Rock’. The ‘Red Rock’….” (Park Sung-Chan)
Park Sung-Chan nodded his head. This guy was also a body reinforcement type, just like he was.
“So, what are you trying to say here?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“I’m asking you, why are you listening to the orders of that snot-nosed brat?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
A brat, is it….?
Mm, right. This guy must be talking about Yi Ji-Hyuk when talking about a brat, right? (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
Park Sung-Chan suddenly began reminiscing about the past.
Yup, I too thought like that when I met that man for the first time. Right, I was really thinking of beating the living daylights out of that “brat” after he literally turned me into a human support pillar….. (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
When Park Sung-Chan wiped the moisture off the edges of his eyes, Kim Dah-Hyun tried to console the big guy.
“You must’ve recalled some unpleasant memories.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“….For a bit there.” (Park Sung-Chan)
Finally managing to calm himself down, Park Sung-Chan shifted his apathetic eyes over to Kim Myung-Woon.
“Okay, so what? What is it that you want to say here?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Sure, that Yi Ji-Hyuk guy is really powerful. No, he’s absolutely overwhelming, I know that. But, that’s only when he’s fighting against monsters, or when he’s standing very far away, isn’t it? I mean, just a couple of us should be able to take him down in close quarters.” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Haven’t I heard of something similar before….? (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
Park Sung-Chan turned his head around and located the Spitfire Yun Hyuk-Gyu by the corner. There was a strange smile etched on his face as he listened to Kim Myung-Woon’s declaration.
Did that smile come from him finding this whole situation too funny, or was it more like, ‘I can’t be the only one to receive that treatment, so it’s your turn now’?
‘Should I play along?’ (Park Sung-Chan)
Yun Hyuk-Gyu slowly nodded his head.
Park Sung-Chan grinned slyly and looked back at Kim Myung-Woon.
“Mm, well, sure. That could be so….” (Park Sung-Chan)
“However, you seniors seem to be too scared here. I did my best to read the mood and kept my mouth shut, but honestly, isn’t this place just a pile of dog sh*t?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“Well, sure.” (Park Sung-Chan)
Yup, it was a pile of dog poop, this place.
“Just because he’s got power, a little brat dares to ignore proper ranks, and does whatever the hell he wants to, yet just how long are you planning to sit back and watch? How about just flip this whole place on its head?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“Flip it, is it?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“That’s right. Who the hell does he think he is, ordering us around like this? Don’t you think that we should take this chance and sort him out properly?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Now let’s see here….
Just how much a*s-whopping does this guy need before he comes around? (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
“So, what are you saying?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Why don’t we just beat Yi Ji-Hyuk down when he shows up today? After we tenderise him for a bit, I’m sure he’ll learn to fear the world once more.” (Kim Myung-Woon)
….It’s you who doesn’t know the true fear of the world, kid.
So, let me get this straight. In your eyes, we all look like a bunch of losers who couldn’t think up of the same thing as you did and act like cowards, am I right? (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
“Mm, well now….” (Park Sung-Chan)
Well, it was true that the life’s most important lessons would never be forgotten if one’s body, rather than one’s head, were to experience them.
So, Park Sung-Chan simply nodded his head.
“Sure. Do what you want.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“You don’t mind if us few get our hands dirty?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“Sure, sure.” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Thank you very much.” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Was that something to thank me for?
I mean, if you catch me later in the future, you might want to kill me instead, you know?
Still, you dug your own grave here, dude. (Park Sung-Chan’s inner monologue)
It was then, the door clicked open and both Seo Ah-Young and Choi Jung-Hoon entered the room.
Park Sung-Chan’s eagle-like eyes caught the tired, scared expression on Seo Ah-Young’s face. He didn’t think he’d ever seen that sort of an expression from her before, so he couldn’t help but wonder just what on earth was going on here.
Next up, Doh Gah-Yun, Jeong Hae-Min, and Affeldrichae walked in. Finally, Yi Ji-Hyuk trudged in as well.
When Seo Ah-Young and Choi Jung-Hoon slipped into the crowd and found their natural spots, Yi Ji-Hyuk stood by the pulpit and opened his mouth.
“Is everyone here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon scanned the crowd and nodded his head.
“Excluding those dispatched to the locations of new Gates, everyone’s here.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Mm, in that case…..” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
But, just as Yi Ji-Hyuk began pondering what he should say here to get the meeting started, the ‘Red Rock’ Kim Myung-Woon slowly got up from his seat and walked proudly towards him.
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head.
What did this kid want now?
“What’s up?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Kim Myung-Woon didn’t answer, but continued to walk until he arrived right in front of Yi Ji-Hyuk. He then stood in a bit of a ‘crooked’ posture and spoke up.
“So, I wanted to ask you something….” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“Just what qualifications do you have to order us around like this, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“Qualifications?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yeah, qualifications. Are you our superior officer? But, you don’t look like one. So, with what qualifications are you ordering us around here?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared straight at Kim Myung-Woon and replied in an equally straightforward manner.
“I don’t have anything like that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Then, why are you ordering us to gather around?” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“What, I can’t ask you to come if I don’t have a qualification?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, well, that’s not it, but, uh….” (Kim Myung-Woon)
“I mean, if you don’t like it, then you didn’t have to come, you know? It’s not like, I threatened you with bodily harm or something if you chose not to show up.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Kim Myung-Woon’s complexion boiled over instantly.
“No, wait. Telling us to gather around when you’re not a superior officer is wrong, to begin with.” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head this way and that, before shifting his gaze over to the Spitfire, hiding in a far corner and grinning mysteriously.
“Hey, man.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Yun Hyuk-Gyu)
“Is this him trying to pick a fight with me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Definitely.” (Yun Hyuk-Gyu)
Yi Ji-Hyuk scratched his head.
Mister Earth’s Mightiest beat around the bush so much that Yi Ji-Hyuk found it way too hard to figure out whether this was a provocation or not.
The tough men of Berafe would simply take their gauntlets off and throw them at his face, or simply fling about some magic spell or two and scorch him first as the means of provocation, you see.
It’d been over a thousand years since someone ran their mouths off to provoke him, so Yi Ji-Hyuk found it pretty hard to readjust here.
“Ahhh, so you don’t like me and you want to have a go at me, is that it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s not strictly true. No, all I want is you to observe the basic protocol, that’s all.” (Kim Myung-Woon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his head to his side, and quite literally out of the blue, kicked Park Sung-Chan sitting in the front row.
Park Sung-Chan flew off like a rubber ball and slammed deeply into a wall, becoming embedded within. He asked with a shocked face.
“But, why? Why me?!” (Park Sung-Chan)
“You asking cuz you don’t know?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What a scarily perceptive man.
Park Sung-Chan smiled awkwardly and looked away.
“Hah, this, really now…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his attention back to the ‘Red Rock’ Kim Myung-Woon and chuckled wryly.
Did he really need to deal with a little kid like this one, too?
Jeong Hae-Min, watching from the side, yawned out grandly and spoke up.
“Can’t you hurry it up?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“You were going to beat him up anyway, so beat him up already and get to the main topic. Time’s wasting, you know?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“S-sure thing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Oh well, if that’s what she wants.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s fist flew at the speed of light and slammed into Kim Myung-Woon’s face.
< 140. Don’t say it like that -5 > Fin.
(TL: Merry Christmas to those who observe it! Have a great day.)