Yi Ji-Hyuk’s head leaned at a crooked angle as he watched the TV.
The situation looked a bit too ugly for him to sit idly by, but then, there was nothing to gain by him stepping forward, too.
If the story involved magic, then whether it be the aspects of knowledge or application, there was no one alive who could come even remotely close to Yi Ji-Hyuk. Unfortunately, this area of expertise was a different story altogether.
Even if the demonic realm was behind this incident, it’d simply be impossible for Yi Ji-Hyuk to know of every field that existed there.
For instance, even if they were both scientists, the things physicists know would be rather different from what biologists know.
The things happening right now, they were beyond the scope of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expertise. He majored in destroying everything and/or controlling various demonic creatures, as well as stuff related to controlling Mana.
One could argue that this matter did involve controlling of demonic creatures, but well, the types of creatures Yi Ji-Hyuk dealt with were far, far larger than those bugs most of the time.
How would a zookeeper answer back when someone asked a question regarding the ecology of insects?
“Groan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a long groan as the TV screen now displayed the front of a certain hospital, barricaded with yellow ‘caution’ tapes.
Even he wasn’t sure what might happen to humans exposed to modified dark Mana. There were simply too many variations to consider.
If it was purest form of Mana being injected, like how Yi Ji-Hyuk had done, then the victims would go mad, go on a berserk rampage, or become an undead – one of the three results. But, there was no way he’d know what kind of results would pop out with dark Mana incubated within those flying insects. Also, the situation would be unique to each bug, too.
In the end, Yi Ji-Hyuk realised that, even though he knew quite a few things about the creatures living inside the demonic realm, he wouldn’t be able to offer any help anyway, even less than that of the doctors and biologists of this world.
“Just what’s going on? Do you know?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Groan…….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He was already feeling somewhat conflicted inside, but now that he had to hear the yapping coming from his side, well, it was really getting on his nerves.
“And why the heck are you even here?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…..I was told to stay here cuz it’s the safest.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“And who told you that?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mister Choi Jung-Hoon did.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Groan……” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a groan while looking at Jeong Hae-Min and Kim Dah-Som filling up the living room couch.
“Hey, Dah-Som-ah.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Kim Dah-Som)
“Don’t you have an older brother already? So, why are you even here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“He’s useless.” (Kim Dah-Som)
….I can sympathise with you on that one, but at the same time, you just said something really depressing, you know? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Thinking of the pitiful tale of Kim Dah-Hyun being looked down on by his own little sister, Yi Ji-Hyuk kind of felt pained in his heart.
“….I guess it’s the same story with me, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mm? Did you say something?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Never mind.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk continued to spit out more groans as his eyes took on the sight of Yi Ye-Won – she immediately revealed her true colours as soon as Choi Jung-Hoon left, and began rolling around on the floor stuffing her face with snacks.
“And that’s my little sister………..” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What’s the matter? I think she’s adorable, though?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“That’s adorable to you? Are you blind?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Hearing Yi Ji-Hyuk’s words, Ye-Won threw the pillow below her.
“I can hear you! You dumb idiot!!” (Ye-Won)
“Hey, watch it!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Regardless of what was happening in the world at large, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s house showed no change. However, just because his household was peaceful as usual, that didn’t mean the rest of the world was, too.
Outside of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s house, the world was going through a huge upheaval.
“Have you found anything?” (Donovan McGee)
“Not at all. We haven’t even found a single clue.” (Sam Wright)
Doctor Donovan McGee stared at the restricted area with a hardened expression on his face. In order to stop the spread of the unidentified contagion, patients were quarantined in this secure facility, and he could see the doctors wearing biohazard suits roaming in between them.
“Have you narrowed down the potential pathogenic source?” (Donovan McGee)
“It’s a difficult matter to get to the bottom of, but also….” (Sam Wright)
The other doctor hesitated before speaking up.
“…..We’re unsure whether the cause is a pathogen or not.” (Sam Wright)
“What do you mean by that?” (Donovan McGee)
“The test results haven’t come in yet, but the symptoms displayed so far doesn’t match any of the known plague types. No, this is far more closer to poisoning.” (Sam Wright) (TL: The Korean words for “poisoning” and “addiction” are exactly the same and I couldn’t be sure of which one the author wanted to use here. I went with “poisoning” because that sounds the most plausible. If I’m wrong though, I’ll change later.)
“Poisoning?” (Donovan McGee)
“Yes, poisoning.” (Sam Wright)
Donovan McGee frowned deeply.
What nonsense was this?
“Poisoning?! Where in the world would you hear of a contagious poisoning?! A poison that can spread to the rest of the body simply through a single skin contact? You think such a thing makes sense??” (Donovan McGee)
Seeing the enraged Donovan McGee and his half-bald head, Sam Wright could only sigh out.
“Of course, I know that doesn’t make a lick of common sense.” (Sam Wright)
“Right.” (Donovan McGee)
“However, we’re talking about ‘monster hazard’ here.” (Sam Wright)
“You can’t apply common sense in this case. If you declared publicly that monsters might appear five years ago, then you’d be laughed out of the room. However, we’re now living in a world where common sense has broken down some time ago.” (Sam Wright)
No longer able to think of a rebuttal, Donovan McGee shifted his gaze back over to the patients.
“….Fine. What about the progress of the contagion, then?” (Donovan McGee)
“We haven’t had any deaths yet, so we can’t tell how the plague’s symptoms would progress at the moment. Only after we get our first casualty will we be able to form a rough outline of a suitable response.” (Sam Wright)
“Are you saying we must wait until someone dies??” (Donovan McGee)
Sam Wright replied with a slightly hardened expression.
“You need wake up, director.” (Sam Wright)
“This is only the beginning. The insects that caused this plague are still at large, spreading throughout the States as we speak. Thankfully, we haven’t had any secondary damage arising from this incident, but if that does happen, it’ll become nearly impossible to keep everything under control.” (Sam Wright)
“If those insects are like bees and die after ‘poisoning’ their victims, then we’ll see hundreds of thousands affected, and if they don’t die, then millions, tens of millions….. And, if we consider the potential secondary damage, then……..” (Sam Wright)
Donovan McGee’s eyes shook hard.
That would be the inevitable end result.
If the damage from this crisis only affected the United States, then without a doubt, this country would completely collapse.
“But, will such an eventuality come to pass? According to your logic, there should be just as many victims of malaria in the world as there are infected mosquitoes, but that hasn’t happened, has it?” (Donovan McGee)
“You’re correct.” (Sam Wright)
Sam Wright readily agreed with that.
Indeed, common sense dictated that such an event would not happen. Because, the actual number that interacted with human victims would only be a small portion of the whole horde.
Even if there were millions of the insects, it’d still be a minute number when looking at the overall population of insects in the entire world.
“The real problem is!!” (Sam Wright)
“Do these creatures really possess the nature and instincts of real insects?” (Sam Wright)
“What do you mean by that?” (Donovan McGee)
“Please, don’t forget. These aren’t really insects to begin with. No, they are monsters that resemble insects, instead.” (Sam Wright)
Donovan McGee immediately recognised his oversight and shuddered powerfully on the spot.
A monster resembling a dog didn’t act like a dog. It only looked like one, and its actions would firmly follow the ‘See a lifeform, hunt it down and devour’ pattern.
What if these small insects possessed the same nature as the regular monsters?
“I’ve requested that the analysis of the dead insects found near the incident location to be sped up. When those results come out, we should have at least a general direction to take our investigation in.” (Sam Wright)
“But, what about before that? Is there anything we can do besides waiting like this?” (Donovan McGee)
“We’re not gods, Mister McGee. We’re just doctors.” (Sam Wright)
“D*mn it…..” (Donovan McGee)
Donovan McGee stared the patients convulsing in pain through the glass wall and gritted his teeth.
Even though he was a doctor, there was nothing he or anyone could do.
Just like the majority of doctors trying to combat a new type of disease, they could only help alleviate the suffering of the patients, unable to treat the root cause of the illness. And right now, even that passive form of assistance wasn’t working properly at all.
“What are we supposed to do now?” (Donovan McGee)
If those small insects possessed the nature of monsters and continued to poison every human they ran into, then….
Realistically speaking, there was no method to combat that.
Well, it’d be impossible to hunt down every single one of those insects, after all. And trying to quarantine the affected areas would present yet another type of problem, too.
Would quarantining even work with monsters?
“God d*mn it.” (Donovan McGee)
Donovan groaned in helplessness after realising how weak humanity could be. In any case, he could only pray that there wouldn’t be any secondary victims from this mess.
“What do we need to do here?!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren was in a full-on panic mode. Did it start after receiving reports that the victims couldn’t be cured?
Nope. He was already half out of his mind by the time the insects facing off against Yi Ji-Hyuk’s group scattered to the rest of the country.
The reason why he let Yi Ji-Hyuk’s group go back home when they said something about reorganising or some such, was precisely because of that. Besides, what could they do even if he decided to keep them here?
He instinctively knew that this matter was no longer on the level of them using force to resolve it. Indeed, this crisis was the most dangerous of all crises in history.
“Do you still not know the general direction they are moving in?” (Christopher McLaren)
“They seem to be spreading deeper inland, sir. However, because they are slow, they haven’t spread out too far….”
“What about the ocean?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Some of them are also heading in that direction as well.”
“D*mn bugs are doing what now?!” (Christopher McLaren)
Bugs wanting to cross an ocean? How preposterous was that notion?!
Well, they weren’t creatures of this world so something like that could happen, but still….
“….They wouldn’t be able to cross the ocean, right?” (Christopher McLaren)
“….No one knows, sir.”
Christopher McLaren could only chuckle wryly. If those things did indeed cross the ocean, then it’d no longer the American crisis, but the World crisis, instead.
He couldn’t even figure out whether he should be shouting out “We can’t be the only ones suffering here” or “At least you people need to survive”.
In the past, he’d boldly choose the former in a heartbeat. But, a corner of Christopher McLaren’s brain was telling him that this crisis would easily lead to the destruction of his home country.
“What did Mister President say?” (Christopher McLaren)
“After receiving the reports, he ordered us to focus all military personnel to eradicating the bugs first and foremost.”
Another wry chuckle escaped from his mouth.
With what method were they to catch and kill those fingernail-sized bugs, exactly?
Seriously now, if a single one of those bugs were to fly by in front of Christopher McLaren’s eyes right now, he’d still be utterly unable to tell apart whether it was just a regular insect or not.
“Director, a call from Korea just came in.”
“Who is it?” (Christopher McLaren)
“It’s from Choi Jung-Hoon, apparently.”
Christopher McLaren spat out a sigh.
Since when did his position fall low enough for him to share a phone call with a vice head of a department belonging to a tiny-a*s nation?
However, he couldn’t ignore reality. If he could beg for help from someone, anyone, then right now, he had to bow down regardless of who it was.
In this current situation, he should be grateful for the fact that an organisation as successful as the NDF decided to call him first, instead.
“Let the call go through.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren paused for a second, before picking up the phone.
– “Director, it’s Choi Jung-Hoon speaking.”
“Please keep it brief, Mister Choi Jung-Hoon. I’m insanely busy at the moment.” (Christopher McLaren)
– “Have you found a solution yet, sir?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“That’s what I want to ask you. Did you call me because you figured out a way, or you were just curious? You should be prepared to compensate me for wasting my valuable time, yes?” (Christopher McLaren)
When Christopher McLaren’s haggard and unfriendly voice shot back, Choi Jung-Hoon didn’t speak for a while.
‘Son of a b*tch….’
If you wanted information, then call someone on the lower rung of the ladder! Stop wasting time of someone trying put out the fire burning on top of his foot if your own country hasn’t yet found itself in danger! (Christopher McLaren’s inner monologue)
– “Well, sir, as for the response….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “I was thinking of getting as much information out of Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk as humanly possible. I believe that hearing directly from him will be for the best, so if you could wait a little while longer, I’ll personally bring him over there.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Christopher McLaren’s eyes shone brightly.
“So, are you saying that Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk might know something about this situation, is that it?” (Christopher McLaren)
– “Yes, most likely. He may not have the full details, but I believe he knows something.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Christopher McLaren’s expression became serious.
“If that’s the case – in the name of the United States of America, I hereby officially request you. Please send over Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk right away!” (Christopher McLaren)
< 160. However, is that a good thing? -5 > Fin.