“Did you just say ‘apologies’, comrade??” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Flames erupted out from Rhee Jin-Cheol’s eyes.
Just how many had to be sacrificed after that rotten b*stard drove the monsters up North? The report had already been made to the higher-ups.
Yet, he was supposed to offer his apology to the very culprit who had raped his motherland?? Just what was there to apologise, in the first place?!
“Are you deaf, comrade!” (Park Yong-Hui)
Unfortunately, the Chief of Staff Park Yong-Hui remained adamant.
Rhee Jin-Cheol saw that unchanging light in his superior’s eyes, but then, bit down hard on his lips.
“I can’t do that, sir.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“You stinking son of a b*tch!” (Park Yong-Hui)
The Chief of Staff suddenly yanked out a pistol and aimed it at Rhee Jin-Cheol’s forehead.
“You d*mn reactionary son of a b*tch, how dare you disobey me! Being coddled because of you’re an ability user must’ve emboldened you!!” (Park Yong-Hui)
“What do you mean, reactionary, sir! Are you truly suspecting my loyalty to the glorious Democratic People’s Republic?!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“Then tell me this now, why can’t you apologise??” (Park Yong-Hui)
“That stinking son of a b*tch is the one who caused this whole event, so how can I apologise to him, sir?! Just put a gun to my head, comrade! Because I can’t do that!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“You dumb fool!” (Park Yong-Hui)
Choi Jeong-Hoon realised that the situation was getting worse, so he shifted his gaze ever so slightly to glance at Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“….Well, you don’t really need an apology, do you?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I don’t remember asking for one, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Of course, that sly North Korean ability user started the provocation first, but the event had spilled well beyond the level of justifiable self defence and reached the realm of OTT now.
It was comparable to, say, you responding to a punch to the face with a sustained firing from an M60. So even Yi Ji-Hyuk felt a bit… awkward about receiving an apology and whatnot.
“That ahjussi… isn’t he going a bit overboard?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You think so, too?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon hurriedly wiped the cold sweat caking his forehead.
He only told the other side to cease all threatening actions, yet what was up with this pistol-brandishing and threats for an apology?
‘Seriously, they can be such extreme nutcases.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
He was already well aware of North Koreans being rather radical in their actions, but even he couldn’t have imagined they would be this extreme.
“Hahaha…. Mister Chief of Staff.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon tried to mediate this situation, but the Chief of Staff Park Yong-Hui remained adamant still.
“South Joseon comrades, please wait for a bit.” (Park Yong-Hui)
“H-hang on, Mister Chief of Staff….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I told you to wait, didn’t I?” (Park Yong-Hui)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s mouth was shut tight in that moment by the light burning within the Chief of Staff’s eyes.
This man climbed up to this position by managing to survive in the upper class hierarchy of North Korea, which should be no different than a treacherous den of tigers. Obviously, such a man wouldn’t be ordinary; Choi Jeong-Hoon sensed this keen blade-like murderous intent, and could only shudder at this inadvertent revelation of Park Yong-Hui’s true self.
It wasn’t that he was scared, but rather, spooked.
‘He was this type of man?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
That good-natured smile Park Yong-Hui displayed earlier was like a bad lie – he was now pretty much a raw, unfiltered something.
“You, son of a b*tch….” (Park Yong-Hui)
It was then, Yi Ji-Hyuk suddenly opened his mouth.
“Monsters are coming, you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m sure it’s going to be really entertaining to watch you flounder about when monsters show up during your little scuffle.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Park Yong-Hui wordlessly turned his head and stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk. The latter remained utterly unflustered, though.
“Whew….” (Park Yong-Hui)
Eventually, Park Yong-Hui nodded his head and holstered his pistol.
“I ended up showing you something unsightly over such a small matter. I must apologise to you, South Joseon comrades.” (Park Yong-Hui)
“Well, a man will react like that sometimes when he’s p*ssed off.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hahaha, I see that your heart is rather forgiving, Comrade Rhee Ji-Hyuk.” (Park Yong-Hui)
“I used to be just like you in the past, you see?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked meaningfully at Rhee Jin-Cheol, causing the latter to grit his teeth.
“Eee-ik!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Park Yong-Hui formed an oily smile and called out to him.
“Comrade Rhee Jin-Cheol.” (Park Yong-Hui)
“Please speak, comrade.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“Judgement over your actions hasn’t been handed down yet, Comrade Rhee Jin-Cheol. You understand what I’m saying to you?” (Park Yong-Hui)
Rhee Jin-Cheol shut his mouth.
No matter how impossible the situation was, it was still all his ‘fault’ for going against the Party’s orders to stop the monsters at the DMZ and retreating from there.
The Party did not acknowledge things like one’s ‘limit’.
Indeed, it brainwashed its subjects by reinforcing the idea of undying fighting spirit and loyalty being the only prerequisites for achieving anything that one desired.
“I shall remember that, sir.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Even if he came out and argued that there was nothing anyone could have done back then, no one would listen to him, anyway. North Korea was just too corrupt to its core, so if the excuse of ‘It couldn’t be helped’ was accepted now, then the exact same excuse would start raining down everywhere next.
“If you cause one more problem here, then I won’t be able to do anything for you. Remember that.” (Park Yong-Hui)
“So he says?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk glibly chided in, but Rhee Jin-Cheol didn’t throw a tantrum this time. A warning bell was going off loudly in his head after he saw Park Yong-Hui’s ice-cold eyes glaring at him from a while ago, that’s why.
“I’d like to offer my apologies.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Yi Ji-Hyuk continued to provoke the man, but Rhee Jin-Cheol didn’t respond in kind and simply bowed his head. Anyone could tell that it was forced, but still, he did bow willingly, so not even Yi Ji-Hyuk could readily tackle that down.
Well, this was in the middle of enemy territory, so one couldn’t carelessly try to break the enemy commander’s spirit, no?
“That son of a b*tch, he was the one who started this sh*t, so what the f*ck is he trying to do now?” (Park Seong-Chan)
Unfortunately, someone didn’t agree with that sentiment, it seemed.
The ‘Iron’ Park Seong-Chan strode over to Rhee Jin-Cheol while gritting his teeth.
“Ehhei! Mister Seong-Chan!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“No, hang on! Can’t you remember how our people almost got killed by that son of a b*tch?? You forgetting people’s faces now?” (Park Seong-Chan)
“I know that. I do. But….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon leaned in and whispered in Park Seong-Chan’s ears.
“Still, no one on our side died, and these people have suffered several times worse damage than us, haven’t they?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“That’s no thanks to that b*stard, though? It’s all due to Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk working his butt off!” (Park Seong-Chan)
Park Seong-Chan didn’t step forward any further after Choi Jeong-Hoon got in the way, but his blazing eyes still remained locked on Rhee Jin-Cheol.
“You, better watch yourself.” (Park Seong-Chan)
Rhee Jin-Cheol smirked in response to Park Seong-Chan’s provocation.
“Oh, you laughing now?” (Park Seong-Chan)
“Ehhheeei! Mister Seong-Chan! Let’s stop there!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Hah, f*cking hell. Hey, you. You don’t travel overseas or something? When you do, I’ll go with you, so why don’t we have a little chat then?” (Park Seong-Chan)
Park Seong-Chan openly growled, prompting other ability users to glare daggers at Rhee Jin-Cheol.
“Mister Chief of Staff!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s urgent cry caused Park Yong-Hui to nod his head.
“Rhee Jin-Cheol, go and join the rest of the squad for the time being. And when the monsters show up from over there, you will start fighting from the very front of the pack. Understand what I’m saying?” (Park Yong-Hui)
“Sir, I do.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“Now, go.” (Park Yong-Hui)
Rhee Jin-Cheol performed a spirited military salute, shot the NDF a glare for a second, then turned around to leave.
“Oii, did you just glare at me?” (Park Seong-Chan)
“Aigo! Mister Seong-Chan, please stop! We’re in North Korea.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I know where we’re. But if we let that b*stard go like this, what will they think of us as?” (Park Seong-Chan)
“Yi Ji-Hyuk’s underlings.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Park Seong-Chan shifted his dazed face around and searched for the origin of that voice. Meanwhile, Seo Ah-Young tilted her head, wondering if she made a mistake just now.
“Am I wrong?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Park Seong-Chan couldn’t retort back to her.
“Doesn’t matter whether we beat him up half to death or let him go like this, they’ll always think of us as Yi Ji-Hyuk’s underlings.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Y-you’re correct, Director, but….” (Park Seong-Chan)
….But, at a bare minimum, you’re not supposed to say such things, you know??
Even if you’re the director in name only, you still have the duty to uphold your office, so what will we do if you so unhesitantly make a declaration that totally trash your own station like that….?? (Park Seong-Chan’s inner monologue)
“Well, it’s the truth.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young replied nonchalantly.
“Still….” (Seo Ah-Young)
However, it seemed that she had more to say.
“Even if we’re Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lackeys, we should at least show them that they can’t mess with us and expect to walk away scot free.” (Seo Ah-Young)
What a cool yet hellish declaration that was.
Park Seong-Chan’s head dropped low as if he had lost all motivation. He then turned around to leave.
“I knew you could do it!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
After witnessing her ably subdue Park Seong-Chan with a method he hadn’t thought of before, he simply had to give her a thumbs-up.
“Work hard now.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Don’t worry, Director-nim.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I shall show you that I’m not the director for nothing.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“I believe in you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
At least, he really wanted to believe in her for the time being.
“Eh….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was then – Yi Ji-Hyuk staring into the far-off distance until then, suddenly grinned and addressed them.
“Looks like the sun’s about to rise up.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Already?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
When they all looked, it did feel as if the eastern side was getting brighter for real.
“And also, they are almost here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
This time, Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t bother to ask back.
He already knew very well that, when it came to all things monster-related, Yi Ji-Hyuk was almost always correct.
“Get ready, everyone.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon spoke in a serious expression. The NDF agents stopped complaining and began heading towards the suitable locations for themselves.
“Mister Chief of Staff.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“What can I do for you now?” (Park Yong-Hui)
“Monsters are about to reach us. Seems like we’ll have to get ready now.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Oh, really?” (Park Yong-Hui)
Park Yong-Hui called an adjutant observing the situation over to him and issued a couple of orders. The latter radioed somewhere, before relaying the message back to his boss.
“Well, I’ll be d*mned. The report was on its way to me apparently. You don’t have a satellite looking down on us right now, do you?” (Park Yong-Hui)
“….We have someone with a nose sharper than a dog’s among us, you see.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon used a simple joke to answer the Chief of Staff’s curiosity.
“By the way, aren’t you going to take the command?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“No, there’s nothing for me to do here. The command will be left to the commander on site, actually. It’s not something I should try to take over, at any rate.” (Park Yong-Hui)
Choi Jeong-Hoon nodded his head along.
Even if this was North Korea where the politicians wielded considerable influence, it seemed that the respect towards the military commanders still existed here.
“You see, it’ll only take a blink for your head to roll if you step up foolishly and mess things up. You should also be mindful of such things, comrade.” (Park Yong-Hui)
Well, it seemed that he was wrong.
Choi Jeong-Hoon dry-coughed to clear his throat and took a look below as the daybreak brightened his view.
‘That’s…. a bit off, isn’t it.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
It was a rather impressive sight to witness under the veil of darkness a hundred-thousand-strong combat force gathering in one place. However, now that the day had broken, he was now subjected under a somewhat different sight altogether.
‘Are they really soldiers?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
People so small and thin that they wouldn’t have been drafted if this was South Korea, were laboriously lugging around their guns. Although pretty much every South Korean out there had some inkling as to how bad the actual living conditions in the North was like, hearing it and seeing it first-hand were indeed two very different things.
‘So, these are the best, elitist soldiers they could gather now?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
When considering the available combat force the North could mobilise, these hundred thousand soldiers might really be nothing more than just the tip of an iceberg.
However, Pyongyang was about to be destroyed, so they wouldn’t play fast and loose with their defences. You could safely say that, within the allowance of their available weapons and budget, they must’ve tried to scrounge up the best soldiers they could find.
Sure, the time was on the tighter side, but to think, it’d only amount to this much….
‘The situation is worse than I thought.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
It seemed that he needed to forget about getting any help from the regular soldiers here. Maybe the artillery and armoured vehicles might prove to be of some use, but it was unknown whether they could function properly as advertised or not.
If you considered the North’s ability to wage a lengthy war, or the ability to resupply their ranks during peacetime, then guessing just how much of their equipment had been maintained properly after all these years would become an exercise in futility.
Of course, they probably brought out their best equipment here if they were serious about surviving this event, but still….
“Here they come!”
Right next second, a sharp voice resounded out.
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s cold, gloomy eyes took in the distant horizon.
A smallish ‘cloud’ was forming there.
The moment he began thinking that a very small dust cloud was rising up there, he detected mirage-like black things wavering about among the rising dust and dashing towards them.
“Ah…..” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon clenched his fists.
Monsters had tangled up into one massive lump and were madly running towards the humans. Even Choi Jeong-Hoon became momentarily speechless after witnessing that gob-smacking spectacle.
“Hoh-oh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
However, only Yi Ji-Hyuk among them was forming an oily smile to himself.
“Now that’s a nostalgic sight, alright.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
< 314. Pardon? Did you eat something bad? -4 > Fin.