East Potomac Park.
Ability users from the NDF, fully kitted out in their combat uniform, teleported into the wide-open field in the middle of East Potomac Park.
The sight of an American teleporter, dry-heaving with a sickly yellow complexion every time he transferred a person but then, teleporting back to South Korea, continued on over and over again.
“D-Director, I can’t no more….”
“No more what?” (Christopher McLaren)
“….It’s nothing, sir.”
Christopher McLaren’s hardened voice meant that the teleporter couldn’t say anything, and the latter simply teleported back to South Korea.
“Tsk, tsk. Young people nowadays….” (Christopher McLaren)
When I was fighting in Vietnam, I battled the Vietcong for four nights and five days straight without a wink of sleep yet didn’t mutter a single complaint!
Kids these days lack backbone! (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren inwardly swore to himself that once this crisis came to an end, he’d get these people’s mental state in the right shape right away.
The best way to do that was to send them for a special class with that dude….
Seeing the NDF agents standing around so imposing like that, the American ability users came off as comparably shabby now in his eyes.
“Director.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I told you that it’s fine to call me Chris, Mister Choi.” (Christopher McLaren)
“It just doesn’t roll off the tongue, you see.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“It’ll be fine for you to get gradually used to it. In any case….” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren scanned the surroundings and asked.
“Where is Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Christopher McLaren)
“He hasn’t arrived yet.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“How come?” (Christopher McLaren)
“He says it’s super annoying so he will only show at the very last second. He’s currently in our office, sipping on a cup of Iced Americano while watching anime.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“….Doesn’t he have any sense of urgency?” (Christopher McLaren)
Choi Jeong-Hoon wryly smiled.
The only person capable of instilling a sense of urgency in Yi Ji-Hyuk was his mother. He was someone who didn’t give a rat’s a*s in front of a nation’s president, so what could possibly make him feel ‘urgency’ now?
“Is it on the level of a demon king?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“That’s what I’ve felt. I’m not an ability user, so I can’t be 100% sure, but at least according to my senses, its vibe is pretty similar to other demon kings.” (Christopher McLaren)
“….It’s not like there’s a factory churning out demon kings, so why are there so many of them?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“That’s what I said!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren’s mood was buoyed after meeting someone who agreed with him in a long while. How wonderful was it that this young man thought the same as him?
“Is that why he hasn’t been feeling any urgency whatsoever?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk already knew that there were plenty of demon kings in existence, so it’d not be strange for him to think of one crossing over without prior warning as pretty much a non-event.
“Anyway, I heard that you actually went in there earlier?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I did.” (Christopher McLaren)
“But, you came out unscathed?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I didn’t come out unscathed but was allowed to leave. I was told to find Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, is it?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Indeed.” (Christopher McLaren)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s expression became withdrawn.
This wasn’t such a surprising or strange situation.
The goal of all the demon kings invading Earth so far had been Yi Ji-Hyuk and not the conquest of the planet, after all. Their destructive actions and schemes were more like attempts to draw him out, rather than to destroy the world.
‘And this time, it’s pretty much spot-on.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Holding the American President hostage and demanding Yi Ji-Hyuk be dragged out here. What a perfect, and also utterly one-track-minded, plan this was.
“In that case, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about until Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk shows up.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“M-mm. However, I’ve been told that things will change if that person were to get bored, and I should use my imagination on what will happen if we waste any more time.” (Christopher McLaren)
Use their imaginations?
Well, that is…
Looking back on what other Demon Kings did, then stuff like blowing up a city or starting a zombie crisis would be a common occurrence.
“D*mn it.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon stared at the distant white walls of the White House and spat out a pained groan.
“How goes the evacuation?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Citizens in the near vicinity are still being evacuated as we speak. Do you think it’s easy to move everyone out on such a short notice? Besides, this is Washington, not just any other city.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Well, you’re right about that.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Evacuating at least the ones in closest proximity took precedence.
“And so, are your side finished with the preparations?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“We’ve mobilised every combat-ready personnel.” (Christopher McLaren)
“That’s a relief.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“You don’t need to be polite. I already know. They can’t possibly be any help in a situation like this one. It’ll be a relief if they can serve as meat shields at least.” (Christopher McLaren)
Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t go out of his way to use nice-sounding words to placate the American’s feelings. Reality was cruel, after all.
“Looks like things will get even tougher.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“In the future, you mean?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Yes.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I was thinking the same thing. And that was why we requested your people to train ours, but….” (Christopher McLaren)
Things went sideways because of that d*mn fool.
I should decrease the food budget for Alcatraz later. (Christopher McLaren’s inner monologue)
Even as the two of them chatted, the NDF agents continued to arrive.
“Most of them have crossed over, more or less.” (Park Seong-Chan)
Park Seong-Chan came over to make a report and Choi Jeong-Hoon nodded his head.
Seo Ah-Young was already engaged in maintaining order and discipline within the agents that were here.
“What about Mister Ji-Hyuk?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“….Still wasting time messing around.” (Park Seong-Chan)
“I know that you hold grudges against him, but birds listen during the day and rats hear you during the night. Don’t forget.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon) (TL: A Korean idiom. Simply means that walls have ears. I left as is, since they are in an open field and there’s no wall nearby….)
“I’ll be careful.” (Park Seong-Chan)
“I understand how you feel. Yes, I really do, but…..” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“…Please calm down, Deputy Director.” (Park Seong-Chan)
“I’ve shown you something unsightly.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon dry-coughed and composed his heart once more.
“You understand what now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What a scary timing this was.
Choi Jeong-Hoon did his best to form a neutral expression on his face first after hearing that voice coming from his behind.
This moment would be crucial. He must speak as if nothing was wrong.
“It wasn’t anything important. Besides all that, you’ve finally arrived.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Hah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk frowned and looked behind him.
“Will America go down the toilet if I’m a bit late?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“America won’t, but didn’t they say that the President might die??” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Even still!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Here….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min didn’t say anything else and pushed something forward to him.
“What’s this now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s a burger. I ordered it ahead of time. I’m sure you’re feeling peckish by now. Right?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay, dig in.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon watched Yi Ji-Hyuk obediently unwrap the burger and start eating it, quickly hitting himself in the head.
‘There was such a thing!’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Now that he thought about it, that dude…. when he first arrived back on Earth, he polished off three people’s worth of kimchi stew, didn’t he?
And didn’t Colonel Jeong In-Su use snacks to subdue Yi Ji-Hyuk, as well?
How could Choi Jeong-Hoon have forgotten about that until now?
Should he be faulted for forgetting it, or Jeong Hae-Min, who figured out that Yi Ji-Hyuk possessed such characteristics early enough to utilise it to her advantage, be praised for her resourcefulness, instead?
“Is it good?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“It’s really nice!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….But, wait. This picture, it’s kinda….
Isn’t it like a mom taking care of her kid?
Something feels oddly off about this. Something…. (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Just as Choi Jeong-Hoon fell deeply into his thoughts, Christopher McLaren approached Yi Ji-Hyuk with a bright expression on his face.
“You’ve come!” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk simply nodded his head, his mouth still busy performing the actions of pulverising, grinding, and swallowing.
“Looks like you enjoy burgers a lot. I should’ve readied some beforehand. When you come next time, I’ll make sure to have them ready for you.” (Christopher McLaren)
“You want me to come again next time, too?? I ain’t a crazy fool so next time, I….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Drink some Cola.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Christopher McLaren observed Yi Ji-Hyuk obediently sip on Cola and began whispering quietly in Choi Jeong-Hoon’s ear.
“Who is that lady?” (Christopher McLaren)
“That’s Miss Jeong Hae-Min, our own teleporter.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Oh? I thought she was Yi Ji-Hyuk’s handler?” (Christopher McLaren)
Suddenly, the eyes of Christopher McLaren looking at Jeong Hae-Min began sparkling rather dangerously.
Forget it, mister. That woman…. She’s not someone you can lure over to your side.
By the way….
Oh, dear Gah-Yun-ah.
Why are you wiping that fool’s mouth for him?!
You think he’s a five-year-old kid or something??
When a grown-a*s man eats a hamburger while dripping cheese all over the place, you are supposed to scold him over it, not clean it for his sake! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon shook his head in silent resignation.
Everyone’s acting strange.
Indeed, everyone has gone crazy. (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“Okay, so what’s the situation?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“A female-type humanoid that I think is a demon king has taken our President hostage and is in the middle of a sit-in.” (Christopher McLaren)
“A sit-in, is it…. And her goal is?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Not sure….” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren blurred the ends of his words for some reason. Right away, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes narrowed to a slit.
“You don’t know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Y-yes, something like that.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Taking hostages without a clear goal? And you don’t know the reason why your President is being held hostage? Yet, you nagged me to come here as soon as possible?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, that thing was….” (Christopher McLaren)
“Something really stinks, you know? Ahjussi, are you hiding something from me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Like I told you earlier, I’m unable to tell you.” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s narrowed eyes glared straight at Christopher McLaren.
“Well, fine. I came here knowing, so I’ll bite. However, you understand that I’ll charge you extra for danger pay, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Of course.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Mister Choi Jeong-Hoon.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Here.” (Christopher McLaren)
Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t say anything else and produced some documents before pushing it forward at Christopher McLaren.
“Please sign these papers.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Groan……..” (Christopher McLaren)
The American didn’t bother to look at the details and simply signed them.
“Aren’t you going to read them?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Even if we start negotiating now, I know it’s not going to help in any shape or form. And if the President dies because we wasted more time trying to negotiate, then something pretty horrible will happen to us later. So, I’ll place my faith in you and hope that you won’t demand anything completely unreasonable from us.” (Christopher McLaren)
Choi Jeong-Hoon ended up looking into the trust-filled eyes of Christopher McLaren. He hesitated greatly before flipping through the documents.
“….I’ll remove two of the demands.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
This son of a b*tch?!
Were you trying to play me for a sucker just now?
Wowsers. And they say you can’t trust anyone under the sun! (Christopher McLaren’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon resolutely avoided meeting the trembling eyes of Christopher McLaren. He used his pen to quickly draw two lines over a section of the documents and signed on it.
“Well, then. With this, the terms are now set….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“….Why don’t we talk a bit later, Mister Choi?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Yes, let’s do that, Chris.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yeah, I’m a ‘Chris’ only in times like this! Only now!
“So, like, all I have to do is to kill the fool staying inside that building?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The President must not be harmed in any way.” (Christopher McLaren)
“But, an old geezer like that dying wouldn’t cause much of an issue, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s symbolic. Symbolic.” (Christopher McLaren)
“H-mm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk studied the White House in with dissatisfaction before asking another question.
“What about the building itself?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Although I’d like it to be preserved, I know that won’t be easy. Do what you feel like.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Got it. However….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head.
“Is there anyone else besides our people in this place?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What do you mean?” (Christopher McLaren)
“It’s like, there are others here besides the ability users?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Folks from the Department of Defense are here, actually. We simply had to get assistance from the military, after all.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Mm. As a combat force, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, they aren’t. They are just observing the unfolding situation inside the building.” (Christopher McLaren)
Yi Ji-Hyuk found something strange and asked again.
“In that case….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Who are they, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pointed in a certain direction. And there was a group of people directly in line to the window of the Presidential office.
“Huh?!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren gasped out in sheer fluster. But, he hadn’t been informed of such a thing yet?
“N-no, it can’t be!” (Christopher McLaren)
Those insane b*stards!
And I told them not to do something rash so many times!! (Christopher McLaren’s inner monologue)
“Hey, aren’t they snipers?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Snipers…..” (Christopher McLaren)
Did they really think that sniping into the President’s personal office was even remotely possible? Those glasses were no ordinary items, for crying out loud!
If such a thing was possible, then this building shouldn’t even be called the White House!!
“Looks like they are about to fire?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“N-no! Stop them!!” (Christopher McLaren)
Unfortunately, a loud gunshot rang out well before Christopher McLaren’s voice could reach anyone.
And a short while later…
An eerie silence descended on the surroundings.
Christopher McLaren stood there, his jaw on the floor in utter speechless stupefaction.
No, it can’t be. (Christopher McLaren)
“Wow, that glass must be really good.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Could Yi Ji-Hyuk actually see what was going on that far?
“D-did the bullet get stuck in the window?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Nope. Just a round little hole where the bullet went through. It didn’t even shatter, you see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Those motherf*cking sons of b*tches.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren was about to lose his mind from pure rage at that moment.
Just what the hell was this?
“M-mm, by the way. Ahjussi….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Christopher McLaren)
“That geezer, the President or whatever…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes.” (Christopher McLaren)
“I don’t think I can save him anymore.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….What do you mean by that?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Look.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Right then, jet-black demonic energy bubbled out from the gaps of doors and windows of the White House like toxic clouds.
“Ah….” (Christopher McLaren)
“Yup, down the toilet, for sure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
I can already tell without you reminding me, you fool!
< 260. Huh? Does that mean I can leave, too? -5 > Fin.