“What kinda building doesn’t have a single window?! Isn’t this a clear violation of construction laws or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was busy re-writing the South Korean building codes at the moment.
“What’s the matter now?” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ye-Won asked, and he pointed to his ear.
“Can’t you hear what’s going on outside?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Dunno what you’re talking about.” (Ye-Won)
“Forget it. Why would I even waste time talking to you, anyway?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng, that’s right. If you’ve got nothing to say, just be still. We’re gonna shop around for a bit longer.” (Ye-Won)
“….Can’t we, like, have an earnest talk?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng, not really.” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ye-Won lightly trotted into the clothing store while looking over the moon, leaving Yi Ji-Hyuk to groan all by himself. He then took a look around him.
“Excuse me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes, dear customer?”
“Isn’t there a window nearby? Somewhere I can look outside.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“A window…. Ah, you can view the outside on the bridge leading to the annex, sir.”
“The annex?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s in that direction.”
Yi Ji-Hyuk followed the store clerk’s guidance and soon, stepped onto the bridge connecting to the department store’s annex. He stared at this structure made entirely out of glass and spat out yet another groan.
“The main building doesn’t have a single window, yet its bridge is made out of nothing but glass. Which idiot came up with this design?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He just couldn’t understand the modern building architecture at all.
Yi Ji-Hyuk scanned the outside, then spotted the blue-coloured Gate in the distance.
“Oh??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Almost at the same time, the emergency broadcast started.
– This is a message addressed to all customers inside the store. A Gate has been generated in front of the department store. This location has been designated as a tier B disaster area. We implore all customers to stay calm and follow the friendly assistant’s guidance and evacuate from the premise. We repeat, this is…..
“Ooooh??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at the speaker, quite surprised by what happened.
“You want us to evacuate, is it??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Didn’t department stores never eveeeer let go of their customers no matter what, regardless of whether there’s an earthquake or the building itself was buckling down?
And if it became way too serious, he figured the store’s higher-ups would run away themselves first, but to think, they wanted the customers to evacuate first?
“The president of the store must be insane.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began cackling to himself.
But that lasted only for a short while. Soon, waves of crowd rushed into the bridge and began pushing him right up against the glass. Obviously, he began exploding in irritation.
“D*mn it, man! Stop pushing, will ya?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Didn’t you hear the announcement for evacuation?! Why are you blocking the path?”
“Get out of the way! Hurry!!”
“Urgh!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk scanned his vicinity, then began walking in the opposite direction to the crowd. He hadn’t spotted his mom and Ye-Won yet.
“Just where could they be?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He managed to extricate himself from the bridge and entered the store’s main building, and finally spotted the two people right at the end over there.
“Mom? What are you doing? They said to evacuate, didn’t they?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Nothing will get done by rushing into things. We can just wait a little until the crowd’s been thinned a bit and then leave.” (mom)
“Ah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Right at that moment, Yi Ji-Hyuk thought he could tell where his innate nature had come from.
“But, monsters will show up, you know?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’ve got my son over here with me, so what’s the problem? It’s about time I get to see your skills in action, no?” (mom)
‘Well, you aren’t wrong there, but…’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head helplessly, then opened a Gate of his own.
“Here. Get inside. This will take us home.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oh, my? What’s this?” (mom)
Ah, mom has never seen my Gates before. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
He smirked a little and after grabbing the hands of his mom and Ye-Won, entered the Gate. After bringing them safely back to the house, he turned to them and spoke.
“I’m gonna go back there, just in case.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What, you will?” (mom)
“Yeah. What’s wrong?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, I just found you voluntarily going there a little strange, that’s all. Was your stay in the department store that difficult?” (mom)
….Dear mother, I’m still sane-minded. So, please stop looking at me like I’m a madman. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“No, I’m just worried that people might get hurt.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Although I’m happy that my one and only son now sounds like a real human being, I can’t help but worry about you. When this matter is over, please take a break for a few days at home.” (mom)
“…….Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just how badly did he act until now for his mother to say something like this? He could only reflect on himself. He shook his head again and entered the Gate once more.
“H-mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When he returned to the department store, everyone within had already long evacuated.
“Hey. They even left the lights on.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Dear customer?!” (security guard)
A security guard searching through the department store just in case discovered Yi Ji-Hyuk and hurriedly rushed in.
“You need to evacuate, sir.” (security guard)
Even then, the dude didn’t forget to scan Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hands or his pockets. Well, one could say that the guard’s work ethic was really on point there.
‘Hey man, I didn’t steal anything!!’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
But then again, the Korean people didn’t forget to, uh, ‘pick up’ some clothes back when the Sampoong department store came down. So you couldn’t really say for sure that no one hid themselves in here while aiming for such an opportunity.
“Yes, yes. I’m on my way now. Is the first floor still open?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, sir. The ground floor’s been sealed tightly. You need to head to the basement. Once you get to the underground shopping complex, a secure path leading to the outside should be waiting for you. If you take any longer, then you’ll have to evacuate to the underground bunker, instead.” (security guard)
“Really? What about cars?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You aren’t allowed to drive your car and leave the area, unfortunately.” (security guard)
“Hoh-oh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was rather methodical, in a way. Of course you’d think that one’s life was far more important than cars, although some people didn’t act that way. If all those cars currently filling up the entirety of the five underground parking floors were to leave at once, the Gate would open up first before anyone got out of the resulting traffic jam.
“Please open the door on the ground floor.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Dear customer-nim, the access there is currently restricted.” (security guard)
“Ah, I got that. I hear you, but the thing is….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked.
“I’m an ability user, you see. I need to go to work now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Gimme the sitrep.” (Park Su-Hwan)
“It’ll open soon, sir.” (adjutant)
Colonel Park Su-Hwan could only frown as he stared at the reddish Gate floating not too far before his eyes.
“It hasn’t been that long since it’s discovered, so why the hell is it so fast?” (Park Su-Hwan)
“The Gate transformation speed has become incomparably faster than a few months ago, sir.” (adjutant)
“At this rate, we might end up seeing monsters jump out of these d*mn Gates the moment they appear.” (Park Su-Hwan)
If that really happened, it’d be pure pandemonium, that’s for sure.
The society as a whole functioned because humans had time to prepare against the Gates. Indeed, Gates so far had been defended against with minimal losses of life because the military was able to cordon off the portal’s location and evacuate the civilians from the surrounding areas. But if Gates popped up and opened in an instant, such a measure would no longer be possible to carry out.
What if, you were working inside the office, but then, a Gate opened up right in front of your building and monsters leaped out?
It’d be the end, literally – you won’t be able to escape nor put up any meaningful resistance. You’d be left with only one option, to pray that ability users in a far-off place get here as soon as possible.
“What will happen to this world….” (Park Su-Hwan)
Park Su-Hwan sighed deeply under his breath. However, he needed to worry about such matters later. He needed to focus on solving the problem before his eyes first.
“Our preparations?” (Park Su-Hwan)
“We’re more or less ready, sir.” (adjutant)
“What the hell is up with ‘more or less’?? You wanna say sh*t like that when your life’s on the line?! Go and make sure everything’s where it should be, and there’s no stray civilian around, got that?!” (Park Su-Hwan)
“S-sir. My apologies.” (adjutant)
“And also… Uh? What’s that?” (Park Su-Hwan)
There was a department store right next to the building where Colonel Park Su-Hwan had set up his command centre on its roof. He could see that the ground floor’s door to this department store was opening up, and a young man kitted out in tracksuits was lazily trotting out of there.
This young man then sucked in deep breaths as soon as he got out, and pulled out a cigarette to stick it between his lips.
“That, that….” (Park Su-Hwan)
Park Su-Hwan’s expression crumpled unsightly.
“I told you to make sure, didn’t I??” (Park Su-Hwan)
“….But, sir. We did issue orders for complete lockdown.” (adjutant)
“Before I lockdown your dumb head, I suggest you do your job properly.” (Park Su-Hwan)
“I’ll do so, sir.” (adjutant)
Soldiers manning the ground hurriedly rushed forward, surrounded the young man, and pointed towards the building. It seemed that they were telling the wayward fool how dangerous it was here and he needed to evacuate to the underground shelter.
“At the very least, our boys are wide awake, it seems. Besides all that, kids nowadays must have some sort of death wish or something. Monsters are about to show up, yet what is he doing outside like that? I’m telling you, they are all going insane.”(Park Su-Hwan)
But then, something strange happened.
The soldiers and the young man seemed to chat for a bit, before the former group turned around and pointed in Park Su-Hwan’s general direction.
“…..Ng??” (Park Su-Hwan)
Did they lose their d*mn minds, too?
What the hell are they doing, pointing out where the command centre is to a civilian?! (Park Su-Hwan’s inner monologue)
“What are they doing?” (Park Su-Hwan)
“I wonder as well, sir.” (adjutant)
It was then, the young man nodded his head and began walking towards the building with Park Su-Hwan in it.
“Eh?” (Park Su-Hwan)
The good colonel watched the young man enter the building’s foyer, and covered his face.
“What the hell is this? I said, what the hell??” (Park Su-Hwan)
Park Su-Hwan thought that, as long as soldiers downstairs had functioning brains, they should stop that young man on the ground floor, but that thought ended as nothing more than an unfulfilled hope.
The access door to the roof opened up, and while carrying a rather oily smile, the young man waved his hand at the colonel.
“Hello there.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Park Su-Hwan formed a resigned expression and asked his adjutant.
“Can anyone tell me what the hell is going on here? Ng?” (Park Su-Hwan)
“Even I’m not sure….” (adjutant)
One single crazy guy could do whatever he wanted, sure, but unless the colonel’s subordinates had gone insane as a group, how could a crazy dude come up to the roof without facing any opposition?
“Who are you?” (adjutant)
The adjutant asked, and the young man answered while taking a look around.
“The KSF people haven’t shown up yet?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The KSF?” (adjutant)
The adjutant nodded his head, finally understanding what’s going on here. It seemed that an off-duty ability user in the middle of a shopping trip saw what happened and decided to join the battle.
“Are you affiliated with the KSF?” (adjutant)
“Yes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You son of a….” (adjutant)
The adjutant gnashed his teeth.
Regardless of him being an ability user or not, they were in the command centre.
Even if ability users were given ranks similar to ‘staff sergeant’ the moment they joined the KSF, they still shouldn’t be waltzing in and out of a command centre as they pleased.
“Which division are you from? Hey, I said, who’s your superior officer, you b*stard?!” (adjutant)
“……I don’t have a superior officer?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What? You don’t have one? Which division do you belong to, then?” (adjutant)
“It’s the NDF. To be more specific, I’m kinda like a guest employee?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The NDF’s guest employee?” (adjutant)
What did that even mean?
If you were an NDF agent, you were an NDF agent, so what was up with this ‘guest employee’ thing? It was then, Park Su-Hwan reached out and grabbed the adjutant’s shoulder.
“Hey, you….” (Park Su-Hwan)
“Ask him what his name is.” (Park Su-Hwan)
“His name, sir?” (adjutant)
“Hurry up and ask. I’ve got this bad feeling, that’s why.” (Park Su-Hwan)
The adjutant looked back at the colonel with a confused expression, before asking the young man.
“What’s your name?” (adjutant)
“It’s Yi Ji-Hyuk.”
“Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Park Su-Hwan & the adjutant)
“Yes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Okay, so, since it’s Yi Ji-Hyuk…. so that means….
“Uh, mm, so, you mean ‘that’ Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Park Su-Hwan)
“I am Yi Ji-Hyuk, sure.”
Park Su-Hwan’s hands began trembling. He only knew of one Yi Ji-Hyuk employed by the NDF.
A man you were forbidden to even communicate with in the entire defence force. The number one dangerous individual that, when discovered, should be reported directly to Major General Jeong In-Su immediately.
‘Wha-what is this b*stard even doing here?’ (Park Su-Hwan)
Was this a matter requiring the NDF’s assistance?
Sure, they needed to get the support of the ability users, but as the Gate was only around level 4, having Yi Ji-Hyuk show up here was equivalent to tending to your flower garden with an excavator.
“Are you ‘the real’ Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Park Su-Hwan)
“Dunno anything about being the real thing or not, but I’m telling you, I am Yi Ji-Hyuk. By the way, why haven’t the people from the KSF shown up yet?”
“They are on their way.” (Park Su-Hwan)
“Eh? But the defence force has already finished preparing for everything here, so how come they aren’t here yet? That shouldn’t be happening, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….It happens all the time.” (Park Su-Hwan)
“But, why? If they were to mobilise, surely they must be a lot faster getting here? I mean, they don’t have any equipment to worry about, just their own bodies, so why are they arriving later than you guys?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s what I’ve been saying all along!!” (Park Su-Hwan)
Park Su-Hwan exploded in his pant-up resentment.
“There have been many operations that could’ve ended without any sacrifices if those stinking as*holes showed up sooner. But they always take their d*mn time showing up, so we can’t help but have casualties and sacrifices. Poor kids are getting killed off for no good reason.” (Park Su-Hwan)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression hardened instantly.
“Seriously?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes. I wish I could do something about it. I keep lodging complaints to the higher-ups of the defence command, but this whole thing just doesn’t want to improve.” (Park Su-Hwan)
“It doesn’t?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk puffed up his cheeks and yanked out his phone.
“If it doesn’t want to improve, fixing it will solve everything!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
< 356. If it doesn’t want to improve, fixing it will solve everything! -1 > Fin.
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