“Tom! Where are you going? Tom, wait!”
Brian hurried his steps to chase after his young son running towards the edge of the water.
“Would you look at this guy?”
Brian told his boy not to go near the water like that, but he kept going there regardless. The father said countless times that it was dangerous, that the boy might fall into the water if he insisted on playing there.
So, Brian hurriedly ran after Tom.
However, Tom suddenly changed his direction and ran back to Brian, instead.
“What’s the matter?”
“A bug! Daddy, it’s a bug!”
When he looked in the direction Tom was pointing at, a jet-black beetle the size of a pinky nail was flying towards them. Brian let off a hollow chuckle.
“Raising a fuss over a single bug like that. This kid….”
Brian lightly tussled his son’s hair and took a swipe at the insect flying towards them.
However, sensing something stinging him just now, Brian quickly took a look down at his palm.
The middle of his palm had been deeply gouged out and blood was oozing out.
“What the hell? D*mn it!”
He simply slapped away a single bug, yet to be hurt like this….
Thinking that he just got unlucky, he tried to press down on his wound, but then, he suddenly felt dizzy.
‘W-what’s going on?’
He felt his head spin, and soon, vomit rushed out of his throat, and his entire body felt icy cold, as well.
“T-tom! Call…. mom….”
Brian then lost his consciousness and collapsed on the spot.
Similar scenes were playing out throughout the United States of America almost simultaneously. The secondary damage, as feared by Christopher McLaren, was finally beginning.
“God d*mn it!!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren squeezed the phone’s receiver hard enough to nearly break it. One could even hear the sounds of it cracking, too.
“Screw this sh*t!!” (Christopher McLaren)
The situation he had been dreading had finally began.
Those infernal bugs had begun their assault on people. As if they were given the signal to go ahead, bugs that had been staying put quietly began attacking out of the blue.
The operations board on the command centre’s wall was being lit up in virtually every corner like a Christmas tree.
“Three more confirmed victims in Phoenix, sir! Ah, another one from Las Vegas!”
“I can see that already!!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren angrily shouted out and threw the phone down on the floor.
“God d*mn it! What the hell do you want from me now?!” (Christopher McLaren0
There was no virtually answer here.
“How are we supposed to catch those tiny f*cking insects?!” (Christopher McLaren)
In an instant, countless defensive measures and various anti-Gate tactics humanity had compiled over the years were now completely useless. Indeed, humanity capable of defeating giant monsters somehow were now rendered utterly helpless by bugs no bigger than one’s fingernail.
Christopher McLaren couldn’t hold back all the anguish eating up his inside and roared out.
“D*mn this all to hell!!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren knew that others were trying to calm him down. He also knew that he needed to calm the hell down, too. However, what was he to do when he simply couldn’t calm down at all?
This was no time to stay calm, so how could he even calm down in the first place?!
“What’s the story with the fumigation team??” (Christopher McLaren)
“They reported that nothing had worked so far! None of the known insecticides or pesticides were effective against those bugs, sir. They said that if they were to further increase the toxicity, then it’d no longer be insecticides but biological weapon, instead!”
“Fine, tell them to kill the bugs with bare hands if necessary!!” (Christopher McLaren)
“Those bugs are apparently as hard as steel, sir. Killing by hitting it is practically impossible. If you’re talking about impact power similar to that of a bullet, yes, it could work, but how can anyone hit insects with guns?”
“Although flame throwers are apparently proving to be somewhat effective, because their attack range is limited, they are insufficient to kill the bugs. The only other remaining option is to drop napalm on the location of these bugs’ nests, but they are not nesting in a group at the moment. If we chase after every single one of those bugs and try to bomb them all to hell, then it’d be the country being destroyed, instead. Sir.”
Christopher McLaren held his head. It was, figuratively speaking, one obstacle after another.
There truly was no method left.
“So what now? We do nothing? You godd*mn son of a bitch, you think we exist to tally up the number of victims here?! Find a f*cking way to solve this, now!!” (Christopher McLaren)
“I don’t care if it’s poison, radiation, whatever! Use any means necessary to stop them!! If you can’t, then erect a wall of flames or something in those bugs’ flight paths and prevent them from spreading out even further! Do you understand what I’m saying to you right now??” (Christopher McLaren)
“Yes, sir, I understand!”
“What now!” (Christopher McLaren)
“Sir…. You have to see this.”
“What??” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren angrily snatched away the tablet pushed to him by a subordinate, and took a look.
And then, he forgot what he wanted to say.
“This is happening right now?” (Christopher McLaren)
Now completely speechless, Christopher McLaren silently stared at the screen before collapsing back down on his seat. His trembling hands ripped the end of the cigar and tried to lit it up.
Unfortunately, the constant shaking meant it wasn’t easy to light up the match.
“Screw this sh*t!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren threw the cigar away and panted heavily, before whispering under his breath.
“Has God really forsaken us?” (Christopher McLaren)
His complexion began to ashen like a dying man.
“For the time being, call the teleporter here. I’ll personally go there.” (Christopher McLaren)
“….I can’t think of anything else to say other than cuss words.” (Christopher McLaren)
God d*mn it.
“God d*mn it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a cuss under his breath as he stared at the scene beyond the thick glass window.
“Just what is happening here?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
When Choi Jung-Hoon asked him, Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t answer immediately, and simply spat out a sigh. One of the worst case scenarios he’d been thinking about had began.
There were three such scenarios concerning what would happen to the victims of the bug bites.
They died, lived, or….
“….Turn into undead.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk gritted his teeth.
He was now seeing the victims’ bodies slowly changing colour to ash-grey on the sick beds. Their hair began falling, and the skin around their lips tore open and fell off, too.
As soon as the victims started convulsing violently, they were firmly restrained to their beds. However, even in this state, they bared their teeth and tried to bite the medical staff.
“Tell them, do not get bitten no matter what.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay, will do.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Undead wasn’t a freaking collection point of every contagion out there, so you wouldn’t suddenly change into another undead just because of a single bite, but there was nothing wrong with being cautious, was there?
In normal cases with zombies, only the victims who got bitten to death turned into undeads. As long as you didn’t die, you’d get better sooner rather than later.
However, it was a different story altogether when a living person was turned into undead. Because, it was dark Mana modifying the victims’ bodies, instead.
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out several more choice words and spun his head around sharply.
“You don’t look to happy right now.” (Affeldrichae)
“…..And where have you been? Showing your face like this and all?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You must be feeling really unhappy. Am I correct?” (Affeldrichae)
After hearing Affeldrichae’s voice with not a single deviation in her pitch, Yi Ji-Hyuk bared his fangs.
“If you can tell, you better mind yourself in front of me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Because it’s not someone else’s business?” (Affeldrichae)
“You better shut up before I rip your throat wide open. Mkay? (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Affeldrichae shrugged her shoulders.
The man who only knew how to spout venom whenever he opened his mouth.
She now could see the Yi Ji-Hyuk of the past, when he was driven to the most desperate corner imaginable, the moment he started his journey as the Bringer of Apocalypse.
Seeing that deeply-hidden side of him being brought out to the fore after all this time, she could tell just how desperate he was feeling at this moment.
“I don’t understand. Aren’t they strangers to you? Whether strangers become undeads or not, it doesn’t really matter to you, no?” (Affeldrichae)
“You lizards like to live alone, so you’ll never understand these kinds of emotions. So, it’s fine if you don’t sweat over it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Are you praising me?” (Affeldrichae)
“No, I was insulting you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Affeldrichae sighed out.
“Fine. What will you do now?” (Affeldrichae)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes glittered dangerously.
“What choice do I have? I gotta find the source of the infection, kill the b*stard, and pray that the dark Mana dissipates afterwards.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Surely, getting struck by lightning twelve times in a row would have a better chance of actually happening.” (Affeldrichae)
“If I’m serious, I can get struck twelve times in a row. So, this much should be possible, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Just as the odds of you getting struck twelve times and you surviving in the middle of that being different, it’ll be a completely different story whether you can kill that being or not. You know this, don’t you?” (Affeldrichae)
“Of course, I do.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face hardened.
“However, I don’t have a choice.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You don’t?” (Affeldrichae)
“Either everyone dies and I’m the only one left standing, or I die and everyone else dies after me. That’s the gist of the problem. If someone asks me to choose, I’d go for the latter.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, the former seems wiser to me?” (Affeldrichae)
“If you’re a human being, you’d choose the latter. You see, there’s this old saying that, getting punished before everyone else is for the best.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Regular humans would’ve chosen the former without hesitation.” (Affeldrichae)
“You know that I’m a bit special case.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Affeldrichae quickly realised that she couldn’t change his mind no matter what she said here.
“So, you’ll really fight.” (Affeldrichae)
“That’s right.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Against a demon king?” (Affeldrichae)
“Yup.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
For the first time ever, Affeldrichae’s expression crumpled unsightly.
“Please wake up, Mister Ji-Hyuk! Right now, you’re just a simple human being. The immortality and perpetuity you enjoyed so much no longer exists within you. You are no longer the Immortal Soul, no longer the Bringer of Apocalypse, and you’re definitely no longer the 99th demon king. You’re a weak human now, and you will fall if you get injured, and you will die if you’re stabbed with a blade.” (Affeldrichae)
“I know that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You ‘know’? Then, you should know very well what will happen to you if you stand before a demon king in your current state. You’ll be turned into chunks of meat in less than ten seconds. Don’t you get that?” (Affeldrichae)
“I’m telling you, I know!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But then, why?” (Affeldrichae)
“I told you, I don’t have a choice.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Just because of something so minor….” (Affeldrichae)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.
“The current incident isn’t the problem. As long as a demon king has descended to this world, that guy will definitely come seeking me out. And I’ll have to wait with my neck all washed nice and clean. However, that ain’t my style.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Indeed, you’re right. That isn’t your style.” (Affeldrichae)
“….I thought you’d insult me again.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I know full well that you wouldn’t listen to me no matter how much I talk, anyway. You’ve never listened to me once in the past, too.” (Affeldrichae)
“That’s only because you wanted impossible things from me all the time, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Let’s just say that was the case, then.” (Affeldrichae)
She didn’t want to have an argument with him in the middle of this discussion.
“Do you really not have any other way?” (Affeldrichae)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pointed at the victims changing into undeads beyond the window.
“How long do you think they’ll need to turn completely? Here ain’t the only problem, either. Right now, those bugs are still buzzing around everywhere outside. Sure, since they can’t get a supply of Mana, their lifeforce will have a certain limit. Maybe, a month at a push? However, I’m telling you this right now, humanity with no way to purify those guys will be completely devastated within fifteen days. It’ll be far too late by then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’ll lose your fight if you fail to preserve your troops. Even if you manage to survive somehow, you’ll still lose the strength to combat other Gates opening up next.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“So, I gotta fight now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’d be right in other times, but you’re still being persistent.” (Affeldrichae)
“About what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You still don’t trust anyone beside yourself.” (Affeldrichae)
“Logically speaking, you’d be able to kill all those bugs if you gather every ability user in the world to this country. There may be millions of bugs, but if the entire world’s ability users work together, then it’d still be doable.” (Affeldrichae)
“You ain’t wrong there.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Even then, you still choose to tread the shortest path all alone.” (Affeldrichae)
“Didn’t you come back to this world because you hated doing that? Because you hated being alone?” (Affeldrichae)
“I told you, I came back here to die.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’re still not very good with lying.” (Affeldrichae)
“Thanks, I guess.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Affeldrichae let a soft sigh escape from her lips after seeing that bitter smile on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face.
“You do realise that there is another option available to you, yes?” (Affeldrichae)
“Nope, no clue.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You do realise that you can go back along with others, yes?” (Affeldrichae)
“I won’t go back even if you kill me, you d*mn rotten lizard woman.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I knew you’d say that.” (Affeldrichae)
When Affeldrichae swished her hand in the air, a pure-white space opened up.
From inside that pure white space, a certain something floated gently in the air towards Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes opened wider.
A completely unexpected item landed gently on his hands.
< 163. You’re still not good with lying -3 > Fin.