Chapter 196: Who cares if they die or not (1)

(Here’s the edited version. Enjoy!)

“What are they trying to achieve here?” (Seo Ah-Young)

Seo Ah-Young’s question elicited a shrug from Choi Jung-Hoon.

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“I wonder about that too, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

The zombie crisis was more or less on its way to being resolved for good.

Although it seemed that the incident needed a bit more time before everything would be normalised, but well, there were no major hiccups experienced so far and over half of the victims had been purified now.

Perhaps the people involved had gotten more skilled at the task, even the speed of purification had gone up as well.

It did take a bit of time to purify a couple of zombies shuffling out from the dome not too long ago. But now, things had gotten to the state where the party involved would physically drag out zombies because they were bored of waiting around.

Of course, Roabell would occasionally go on a frenzy every so often, but such a thing could be brushed aside as a minor side effect and nothing more.

The real problem was with something else.

“Training, is it. That’s easier said than done.” (Seo Ah-Young)

Seo Ah-Young vigorously shook her head.

Even though their zombie crisis hadn’t been fully solved yet, the Americans were demanding for their ability users to be strengthened via Yi Ji-Hyuk’s ‘mystery’ training method.

However, how could a thing like that be as simple as it sounded?

First of all, it was already a big headache to convince Yi Ji-Hyuk and have him actually agree to help out.

Just from thinking about convincing someone with tendencies to go off somewhere completely weird at a drop of a hat, she felt this stabbing, throbbing pain emanating from her stomach.

Also, convincing Yi Ji-Hyuk somehow would prove to be a problem in itself, as well.

“Would he resort to using the same tactic as before?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“…..No way, he wouldn’t.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

The methods Yi Ji-Hyuk used to train the NDF agents were rather simple in nature.

‘Let them loose in another world.’

“That definitely cannot be allowed to happen.” (Seo Ah-Young)

It was true that they had gotten much stronger by going through those hellish experiences. She wasn’t going to deny that. However, this method should not be brought up ever again.

The Koreans were able to walk away without a single casualty solely because of the presence of Kitamura Ren the Japanese Healer, who played a much-needed balancing act during their first extended stay in the other world.

If that tenuous balance was lost, then they might have been annihilated in the blink of an eye.

When they were thrown into another world for the second time…. She didn’t want to acknowledge it, but they managed to survive that trip and come home all thanks to Yi Ji-Hyuk running around as if his feet were on fire.

But then, putting foreigners through the same process as that?

“They will all get killed.” (Seo Ah-Young)

These two just couldn’t imagine Yi Ji-Hyuk being considerate towards the American ability users as much as he did towards the NDF agents.

“Now that I think about it….” (Seo Ah-Young)

Seo Ah-Young began creasing up her brows.

She always thought that he did nothing but torment her’s and everyone else’s lives endlessly, but now that an event like this was staring at her face, it became somewhat clear to her that that man had been rather thoughtful towards the NDF’s affairs until now.

‘This plainly sucks.’ (Seo Ah-Young)

To think, she’d end up feeling this way.

She thought that Yi Ji-Hyuk had treated them rather shoddily so far, but with ability users from another country entering the picture, she began feeling that such shoddy treatment itself could be seen as a form of affection. There was a big possibility that Yi Ji-Hyuk wouldn’t care whether ability users from another country died under his watch or not, at least judging from his personality.

“Just with what guts does that Christopher or Stopper guy even think about leaving his country’s ability users to Yi Ji-Hyuk? Aren’t their users like gold dust to them or something?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Yes, I agree. I wonder about that myself as well.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Especially so, when the American should know just what kind of a person Yi Ji-Hyuk was.

If they still trusted Yi Ji-Hyuk even after getting mixed up with him this much, then one could only say that Christopher McLaren was suffering from a severe lack of sensible judgement.

“No, hang on. If I was to get technical about it….” (Seo Ah-Young)

From that man’s perspective, there wasn’t all that much reason to see Yi Ji-Hyuk as a weirdo, was there?

Didn’t Yi Ji-Hyuk, although he complained all the time, still step up and solve all the serious incidents taking place within the US until now?

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“Wait, he couldn’t be mistakenly believing that Yi Ji-Hyuk is a nice guy now, right?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“There’s no way, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon immediately and firmly shook his head.

Anyone who had come into contact with Yi Ji-Hyuk even for a few minutes would never think that way.

Definitely not!! Never!!

Maybe if it was an average Joe, sure. But Christopher McLaren was a talented, influential man who plied his trade within the intelligence community his entire life. So, there was just no way someone like that wouldn’t have been able to figure out Yi Ji-Hyuk’s character from the amount of interactions they had already.

Even if Yi Ji-Hyuk had helped the US out big time, Christopher McLaren would definitely know to separately assess a person’s achievements and his character.

“If so, then why is he coming out like this?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“M-mm….”

Choi Jung-Hoon pondered for a while, before opening his mouth with a bit of difficulty.

“It could be that he believes Yi Ji-Hyuk’s skills are a necessity regardless of what kind of a person he is.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“But, why?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Because, they don’t have a choice.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Eh?”

Choi Jung-Hoon took a second to organise his thoughts first.

“During the recent series of events, the US could only defend and endure, or erect some barricades and try to block off the threats. They were unable to mount any serious offensive against the monsters at all.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Well, that was because…..” (Seo Ah-Young)

“If you think about it, this would be America’s first time being put on their backfoot ever since the Black Monday incident.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“I guess so.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“And also, they don’t know what else might pop out from the Gates moving on, so it’s probable that they have realised the current status quo can not continue. Perhaps, they had come to a decision that raising the overall levels of their combatants at the cost of a few sacrifices could be the best way for moving forward in the future.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Sounds like a cold-hearted decision to me.” (Seo Ah-Young)

She said it was cold-hearted, but….

But, could he really call this decision ‘cold-hearted’?

Choi Jung-Hoon didn’t think that was the case.

If they didn’t do anything and the difficulties of the Gates continued to increase, then eventually, the Americans would lose the ability to solve the upcoming monster crises by themselves.

Didn’t history already tell us what kind of fate awaited those nations entrusting their national defences to another country?

That was why they chose to go out there and fight, instead of sitting on their a*ses and getting killed later. On that basis alone, you wouldn’t say it’s cold-hearted, but more of a smart decision to make, but….

‘But, why does it have to be Yi Ji-Hyuk??’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon was ready to admit that there was no other way, but even then, if he were in the shoes of the Americans, he’d still have searched tirelessly for an alternate method.

“Whatever the case may be, let’s give Mister Ji-Hyuk a call and see what he has to say.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Wait, he’s not coming to work today?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Well, he showed up here when you told him not to, but when it is time to show up, he says he can’t be bothered and doesn’t want to come in.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Should I feel thankful for him at least giving us a heads up with a call?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“….His mom made the call, instead. Ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Seo Ah-Young performed a grand facepalm.

Just how old was he to have his mother call his place of work and get her to say, ‘My boy can’t come to work today’??

“He’s not even a high school kid too, you know!!” (Seo Ah-Young)

“No, well, if you get technical about it….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

He went missing as a high schooler and came back five years later, so, even though he did have his age issues, one could argue that Yi Ji-Hyuk was still a high schooler in a way. It was also true that such an argument left a bitter taste in one’s mouth, though!

“In any case, I’ll call Hae-Min unni and ask her to bring him over here.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Understood, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

….How am I supposed to explain this to him now?

Choi Jung-Hoon felt a migraine creep into his head already from thinking about how he’d convince Yi Ji-Hyuk later on.

***

Quadrakill!!

Yi Ji-Hyuk heard that declaration coming from the computer’s speakers and formed a content smile.

Right, this is it!!

Now that is what you call skill, man! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

“All of you have been looking down on me for too long!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s content smile deepened as he watched his allies beat the opponents to pulp without mercy on screen.

There was only one reason why he couldn’t display his prowess in this game in the recent past: He had forgotten that this was a team-based game.

He used to pretty much play the drums, strum the guitars, dance and sing all at the same time back in Berafe, and got way too proficient at doing that, which led to him to completely distrust his own allies. And because he tried to do everything by himself, he wasn’t able to showcase the depths of his talents in this game.

Now that he placed more trust in his allies and played the game, his win ratio was climbing up in a straight line. Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t win against his rising tides of excitement and quickly initiated team chat.

– “This is true class!” (TL: TLed literally. I think ‘class’ here simply means his skill level or something like that in Korean slang.)

He stared at the screen with satisfaction, and soon, reactions akin to passionately burning flames erupted on the screen.

– Class? True class??? Seriously? You?

– Holy sh*t! Is this fool trying to troll us? He’s defo no freaking answers, man. Really now!!

– Sure, sure. Check out his true professional bus passenger class. So bloody awesome, ain’t ya. (TL note at the end)

– What the **** did he even do to claim his class and sh*t? This punk’s got no shame.

Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled as he watched the explosion of dissatisfaction in the chat of the enemy team members. Typically, the losers would always have a lot of things to say.

Unfortunately, the reactions of his allies weren’t so hot, either.

– Without you, sir, we’d have ended this match ten minutes ago.

– Yup, you’re really freaking awesome, dude. Freaktastic.

– We carry you this much, yet how can you weigh us down by this much, too? If you just planted your Ward by a dang well somewhere and jerked off by yourself, we’d have ended this match ten minutes ago! Seriously, man.

….Huh?

W-what’s wrong with my allies’ reactions?

I… Didn’t I do right by them on my own way? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

“….Mister Ji-Hyuk.” (Affeldrichae)

It was then, he heard a chilly voice stabbing him from the side.

So chilly!!

It was the emotionless voice of Affeldrichae, something he hadn’t heard from her since, well, around six hundred years or so ago.

“M-mm??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“If you don’t need it, don’t initiate the in-game chat.” (Affeldrichae)

“….Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“And also, if you enter another match from here onwards, do your very best to stay in a corner and don’t try to do anything, okay?” (Affeldrichae)

“N-ng….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s head drooped in utter dejection.

Affeldrichae couldn’t help but look at him with a bit of pity.

Even back when the entire continent pounced on him while screaming, kill him, kill him!! Yi Ji-Hyuk’s mouth was always working overtime to hurl insults right back at them.

But, to think, such a man was getting depressed over a simple computer game!

‘Such a thing is unimaginable.’ (Affeldrichae)

No, such a thing shouldn’t even happen in the first place.

Such a thing should not happen from the perspective of Yi Ji-Hyuk himself, but more importantly, for the sake Berafe’s honour, the one he utterly trampled on, such a thing could not be allowed to happen.

“I-it’s increasing.” (Affeldrichae)

“…Really?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression brightened again.

Yes, it is indeed increasing.

….Not your skills, but my annoyance and stress level. (Affeldrichae’s inner monologue)

The corners of Affeldrichae’s lips twitched ever so slightly.

She was someone who maintained her composure even when receiving the reports of a demon king’s descent, yet a measly little computer game was managing to shatter her preternatural calmness.

‘Well, I wasn’t lying. He is improving.’ (Affeldrichae)

Yi Ji-Hyuk knew full well that Affeldrichae would not lie. That was why he was being so pleased like that.

All she had to do was not mention that his so-called ‘improvement’ was smaller than flakes falling off from an ant’s eye, and everything would be a-okay.

Well, withholding the truth was not the same as lying, after all!

Affeldrichae worked extra hard to calm her minutely-trembling facial muscles. This was one of the big drawbacks of the human physiology – one’s emotion being visible on one’s face.

It was so much harder to express her emotions as a Dragon, but she found it difficult to disguise what she felt when in her human form.

“Yes, you’re improving.” (Affeldrichae)

There was another problem here, and that would be other players also improving as well.

A computer game was a unique form of entertainment media where its users also evolved alongside the product itself. As a game became a ‘service’, the skillsets of its users would also improve and diversify alongside its evolution.

And if your own speed of improvement lagged far behind that of the average rate of everyone else getting better, then you’d be judged as going backwards, instead.

In overall assessment, your results might have improved, but when viewed from other people’s perspective, you’d be falling way behind – that sort of a thing?

‘So, I am definitely not lying here.’ (Affeldrichae)

Affeldrichae forced the corners of her lips arch up this time.

“That is why, you’ll get better at this soon enough.” (Affeldrichae)

“Ng!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled oh-so innocently.

What is this?

This indescribable sense of guilt….?? (Affeldrichae’s inner monologue)

Affeldrichae felt this unfamiliar emotion that she had never ever experienced in her life – as a Dragon – before, and shuddered from the sheer shock of it all.

‘This world is indeed a bizarre place.’ (Affeldrichae)

Berafe, one could say, was a static place.

There would some big event happening every once in a blue moon, sure, but even with those, there was no particular noticeable change taking place in that world.

However, the story was different in here.

The ‘density’ of this world was so high that she even ended up feeling the flow of time was different.

‘It must’ve been hard.’ (Affeldrichae)

A thousand years in Berafe was very different to a thousand years here in this world.

In this world, many things happened in shorter span of time – some things that might happen over a period of one month in Berafe might be done and dusted in less than ten days here, for instance. In that case, the flow of time Yi Ji-Hyuk felt must’ve been so much slower than everyone else.

She could begin to understand just a little why he hated Berafe so much. Not the physical, but the comparative scale of time’s flow was too different for him.

‘Is he happy here?’ (Affeldrichae)

Yi Ji-Hyuk had already began gripping the keyboard tight and hurling all sorts of abusive language at the computer’s monitor.

It was a rather frivolous sight unfitting for the Berafe’s infamous Bringer of Apocalypse, but how come he looked most natural doing this?

“Mister Ji-Hyuk?” (Affeldrichae)

“Yeah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Are you happy now that you have come back to this world?” (Affeldrichae)

Yi Ji-Hyuk was lost for words from that sudden, unexpected question and simply stared at Affeldrichae.

< 196. Who cares if they die or not -1 > Fin.

(TL: Whew, all these Korean internet slangs. If you remember, there’s a term in Korean MMO games called ‘getting on a bus’ which means others are carrying a weak player during a raid or a match. So, MC leeching off his LOL teammates = pro ‘bus’ passenger. As for the ‘Awesome’ bit, you can tell it’s sarcasm. Better than that, in Korean, the exact same words can also mean ‘p*ss off’ or ‘wet your pants with p*ss’ as well.)

- my thoughts:
Chaps are released on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Follow me on twitter, although nothing much ever happens there. twitter/A_Passing_Wanderer
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