– “The problem is, that will be the most difficult thing to do.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What do you mean by that?” (Christopher McLaren)
– “What I mean by that is, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk won’t make a move that easily. Regarding this crisis, that is.”
– “It’s his nature. As soon as he returned to Korea, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk has holed himself up in his house with his family. Basically, he’s set up a fortress there.”
Christopher McLaren tilted his head.
“So, what about it?”
– “The way Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk operates is simpler than what most people think. First of all, he has a tendency to gravitate towards the methods that’ll guarantee his family’s safety above all else. And right now, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk’s instincts must’ve told him that his family isn’t safe, even though he’s so far away from there.”
– “In other words, as long as his family’s safety isn’t guaranteed, he will not move away from their side. And so, the problem is that we have no idea how to guarantee their safety. Even Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk himself doesn’t know that.”
Christopher McLaren couldn’t help but get irritated.
“So, what are you trying to tell me here?! All you have to do is to find yourself a nice little underground evacuation shelter and shove them in there!”
– “And that’s exactly my point, director.”
Choi Jung-Hoon’s bright voice came out of the phone.
– “Isn’t there a special bunker designed for the exclusive usage of important individuals during the times of crisis somewhere in your country? I heard that it’s a rather luxurious place, as well.”
“Well, yes. We do have something like that.”
– “Please open that up. And then, announce that you’ll be accommodating Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk’s family there. With that pretext, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk then will step into American soil on his own volition.”
Christopher McLaren scratched the side of his head.
Of course, there were quite a few places like that. With Christopher McLaren’s security clearance, he could request their usages, as well. Hell, there was a bunker outfitted in such a way that one could enjoy a really luxurious lifestyle inside, too.
“However, only American citizens are allowed in there. That’s the law.”
– “Director McLaren.”
Choi Jung-Hoon took his time for a little bit, before speaking up in a determined voice.
– “In that case, you should change that law.”
“What did you just say??”
What was this idiot saying now?
If anyone could change laws whenever they felt like it, then there was no way a country would continue to function for long.
– “The current situation is far graver than you believe it is, Director McLaren. You need to be decisive here.”
“I want to ask you about something here….”
– “Please go ahead.”
“Why are you trying to help me out to this degree?”
– “I only thought that, once the United States collapses, the rest of the world will soon follow.”
“….What a realistic scenario that is. God d*mn it.”
– “Director McLaren.”
– “I beg your pardon?”
“Just call me Chris. I thought I told you this the last time?”
– “I forgot. Very well. Chris, this current situation is quite different from anything we’ve experienced so far. If we fail to put an end to this crisis when it’s still in its early days, then I suspect that the damage will increase exponentially, far beyond what we can physically deal with.”
“Right, I believe so, too.”
– “That is why, please move with haste. The fate of the whole world rests on your shoulders.”
“You don’t have to say it. I’m well aware of that.”
This d*mn kid was trying to….
Christopher McLaren slightly gritted his teeth.
He too acknowledged it. This Choi Jung-Hoon character was a capable man. And he could be of tremendous help, too.
The mere fact that he could exert some form of control over Yi Ji-Hyuk meant that, by him simply breathing, he might get to influence the international politics.
However, Christopher McLaren still felt his innards boiling over when he had no choice but to listen to someone who was barely half of his age.
‘If only Yi Ji-Hyuk was an American citizen….’
Christopher McLaren thought about that for a couple of seconds, before shaking his head. He knew he couldn’t control Yi Ji-Hyuk.
He got to where he was today in part due to his excellent judgement and his own capabilities, but most of that was down to his ability to judge his own limits.
According to his assessment, Yi Ji-Hyuk easily exceeded his ability to control. That was why Christopher McLaren had to acknowledge Choi Jung-Hoon.
This here was a man who managed to grab hold onto someone not one single person alive dared to attempt to exert some measure of control.
Even if there was no Yi Ji-Hyuk around, Choi Jung-Hoon would’ve climbed up from the very bottom to the very top on his own two feet.
“For the time being, I’ll try to do what you asked. Meanwhile, you do what you can to negotiate with Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.”
– “I will.”
“And, by the way….”
– “Yes? Please speak.”
“What is the price you want from this deal?”
– “I won’t ask you for anything.”
“But you really took us through the cleaners the last time, did you not?”
– “I’m not some idiot who can’t tell when to be greedy and when to hold back.”
“Fufufu. Fine. I got it.”
When the call finally ended, Christopher took a deep breath and cut the end of the cigar. Using the cigar match, he lit the end of his cigar evenly and took a satisfying inhale, before letting the smoke out slowly.
“Connect me to the Department of Defence.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren’s calm but withdrawn eyes stared at the several spots dotted on the map spread out on top of his desk.
The concentration of last known sightings was steadily widening. At this rate, the entirety of the United States would be covered by these creatures in a matter of weeks.
And that would be the ‘end’.
The wider they spread out, the harder it would get to locate those bugs. When that happened, there would be no solution whatsoever.
“I need to grasp at any straws I can find.”
Well, it’d be better than not grasping at anything at all.
Christopher McLaren tasted the cigar smoke filling up his mouth and calmed his nerves.
“Wait, where do you want to go, again?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s tilted his head.
Inside Yi Ji-Hyuk’s house, currently in the living room.
“To America.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Are you crazy?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It’d have been perfectly normal to get flustered by that direct insult, but Choi Jung-Hoon completely ignored Yi Ji-Hyuk’s reaction as he had expected it as much.
“Of course, all my faculties are functioning properly.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“But, what did just say you wanted to do?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
You wanna go to America??
To America, where those demonic bugs are busy flying around??
Not only that, with the rest of my family, too?? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk seriously considered the possibility of Choi Jung-Hoon losing all of his marbles.
“It’s because things are dangerous.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Hearing Choi Jung-Hoon’s rather serious tone of voice, Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head in an even more confused state. This man here was not someone who’d thoughtlessly say random stuff in his head, so if something seemed amiss, then there was a hidden meaning behind his words.
“Please explain yourself a bit better.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Remaining here is just as dangerous.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“It’s not like you can stick by your family’s side and keep an eye on them forever.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Well, that’s true.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“In that case, your priority should be on taking your family to the safest location there is, and then, take care of the situation for good.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head.
What he said wasn’t wrong. He couldn’t remain tied here like this all the time.
“And, also….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes began shining rather dangerously.
“We also need the information you have, as well.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Information?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You know something about those insects, yes?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.
“Nope, don’t know a thing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….You really don’t know anything?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Well, I can guess where they are from, and what kinda nature they might possess, but well, there are so many similar types of creatures out there and I wasn’t really interested so, like, what will be the symptoms, or how should one go about dealing with it…. I don’t have a single clue where to even begin.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon fell into a deep contemplation, prompting Yi Ji-Hyuk to shrug his shoulders.
“See? I told you, I won’t be of much help.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, actually, that much already helps. So, let’s head over to America first.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his head around to face Park Seon-Duk and told her what was happening. She nodded her head after receiving her son’s explanation.
“Looks like us going to somewhere quiet would be for the better, isn’t it? Will that make it easier for you too?” (mom)
“Well, yeah, sure. But…. Won’t you be too uncomfortable, mom?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’ll the same as being trapped in my home, so what does it matter if it’s over there or over here?” (mom)
“Ng, that’s right. In that case, let’s get going now. Please go and get ready.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon quickly added from the side.
“They have all the necessary amenities there, so all you need to pack are your clothes, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I see. In that case, please wait for a little while.” (mom)
After mom left to pack the luggage, Yi Ji-Hyuk threw a question with a suspicious look on his face.
“So, what kinda deal did you make with the Americans this time?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I didn’t.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Eii~ why are you acting like that? I mean, we’re all pros here, no?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon resolutely shook his head.
“If this was any other times, sure. But, not this time. The way I see it, the current situation presents an unprecedented danger, quite unlike any other.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Again, those words weren’t wrong. Even Yi Ji-Hyuk himself had no idea what to do about this crisis, after all.
Not too long afterwards, Park Seon-Duk came down the stairs with Yi Ye-Won and several large suitcases full of clothes in tow.
“Can we go now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What are you talking about? Your dad’s not finished getting ready yet.” (mom)
Right, we gotta take dad along, too.
I almost did something really stupid just now. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Cheol-Woong was rushing down the stairs just then, and when he heard Park Seon-Duk’s words, tears began flooding out of his eyes.
“Dear, you haven’t forgotten about….” (dad)
“You’re being noisy! Just hurry up, will you?!” (mom)
“….Yes, ma’am.” (dad)
After the dejected Yi Cheol-Woong finished with his preparations, Yi Ji-Hyuk called Jeong Hae-Min over.
“Okay, let’s go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jeong Hae-Min took their hands and activated her teleport ability.
“Welcome back.” (Christopher McLaren)
“What about the evacuation shelter?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“My men will escort your family to the safe location.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren personally came to greet Yi Ji-Hyuk and Co., in front of his agency’s HQ. Thanks to Choi Jung-Hoon’s speedy translation, there was no problem getting the message through.
“I’m still kinda worried….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When Yi Ji-Hyuk said that, Christopher McLaren suddenly pulled out a handgun.
“What are you doing?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon shouted out in panic, but Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t even bat an eyelid and simply watched on. Christopher McLaren then fired at the waiting automobile with his gun.
The bullet couldn’t even nick the car’s bulletproof window and ricochetted away.
“You can rest easy.” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head and shifted his gaze over to Park Seon-Duk.
“Please go ahead without me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Will you be alright, son?” (mom)
“Yes, mom. I’ll catch up to you very soon.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk watched his family being driven away on the prepared vehicles, and then, turned around to face Christopher McLaren.
“Okay, so what is that you want to hear from me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Before that….” (Christopher McLaren)
“Yeah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
With a slightly teasing expression on his face, Christopher McLaren asked him a question.
“Aren’t you at least slightly worried?” (Christopher McLaren)
“About what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Sending your family away like that. To put it bluntly, what if we decide to kidnap your family and use them as hostages to threaten you?” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk grinned.
“Ahjussi, you don’t look that stupid, so it’ll be fine.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Should I take that as a praise?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Well, something like that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk quietly stared at Christopher McLaren before opening his mouth again.
“If that happened, you’ll soon learn that you shouldn’t be afraid of some measly insects and whatnot. So, wanna find out?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You do know I was just joking with you, yes?” (Christopher McLaren)
“I’m sure it was.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eerie gaze was enough for Christopher McLaren to break out in cold sweat.
Not angering this man was the wisest decision, that was for sure. He himself judged this man as the most frightening existence there was, so he should definitely avoid doing something as stupid as making this guy angry.
“Your family will be spending their time quite comfortably in the world’s most secure location. If you want, we can guide you there anytime.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Well, it’s fine. For now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I see. In that case, this way.” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk and Co., were guided into the interior of the American agency’s building, and after finding their individual seats, they settled down.
A simple set of tea was served, and then, the main topic got underway.
“We need information on these bugs.” (Christopher McLaren)
On the tablets pushed forward as those words were being spoken, one could see the locations of bugs spreading out with Los Angeles as their centre.
“Did you attach tracking beacons on them or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Actually, we simply marked the physical sightings on the map. There is no other way to track insects as small as them.” (Christopher McLaren)
“I suppose so.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Let me cut to the chase. Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, do you have any intel on how to deal with these bugs?” (Christopher McLaren)
Choi Jung-Hoon was frantically translating everything.
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head after hearing that.
“To be honest, I don’t know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Christopher McLaren’s expression was about to be dyed in the colours of disappointment, but then, Yi Ji-Hyuk opened his mouth again.
“I may not have much info on these bugs, but…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, I think I know what must be done.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What do you mean?” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk chewed on his words, before opening his mouth again.
“First of all. You haven’t even figured out where the Gate opened up, and that’s our first problem. This one’s opening condition must’ve been different from the others so far.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mm. That could be right…..” (Christopher McLaren)
“And, more than likely, someone must’ve opened this Gate deliberately. If we don’t take care of those idiots first, you shouldn’t find another Gate like that one opening up strange at all. So, we gotta deal with those b*stards first.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Christopher McLaren nodded his head.
“However, wouldn’t it be difficult to get a bead on their location?” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared into the empty air, before speaking up.
“I can think of something.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes became serious, withdrawn.
A being that could control lifeforms of the demon world? That was far too obvious.
“….Is it a demon king, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began clenching his fists tightly.
< 161. You’re still not good with lying -1 > Fin.