“Do I have to do this?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Then, who should do it if it’s not you?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun stared at Seo Ah-Young next.
Ah. That’s definitely a no.
If you let her make a speech, then she may start saying stuff like, “Burn them suckers to the ground, no mercy!!”
Well, it might do wonders for the team spirit, that’s for sure…. (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
‘…Why didn’t Major-General Jeong In-Su come together with us?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
If Jeong In-Su was here, Choi Jeong-Hoon could’ve dumped the responsibilities on that man’s shoulders and escaped. However, since that was not possible, he was the only one capable of sorting this situation out. That fact made him feel especially sorrowful today, though.
“Hmm, hm.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Since it couldn’t be avoided, he’d have to man up, then.
“Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of someone making a grand speech before something big is about to go down.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
The agents began murmuring to themselves.
“Hey, that means he actually likes doing it, right?”
“Yeah, I heard you’re supposed to interpret such things the other way.”
No, it’s not!!
You all forced me into doing this, so why are you getting on my case like this?! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Although he felt aggrieved here, Choi Jeong-Hoon knew that there were just too many eyewitnesses to start arguing back.
“Please carry on.”
“….Of course.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon coughed to clear his throat and opened his mouth again.
“This event about to go down is a truly monumental point in South Korea’s history.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“He’s really revving it up, isn’t he?”
“Argh, I’m feeling sleepy already.”
“That’s a pretty grand opening, isn’t it? Wait, this ain’t gonna last for one hour, I hope?”
Choi Jeong-Hoon clamped his mouth shut.
‘I’m gonna get you back for this.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Seo Ah-Young suddenly raised her hand.
“Yes?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“It’s too long.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“I haven’t even started yet!!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Well, sounds like it might get long, so.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jeong-Hoon ended up shaking his head in helplessness.
Thankfully, though, it seemed that these folks had loosened up a lot by now, seeing how they could crack jokes like this.
“I apologise for making you do something that you’re not familiar with. However, I’d like to ask you to consider this as a part of your mandate to protect the civilians.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon took a deep breath before continuing on.
“It’d be great if everyone present today can meet up at the end of the operation to share a cup of warm coffee. That is all.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Ohhh! That was pretty short and sweet.”
“Isn’t that because he’s feeling tired? Or he’s not fully awake yet?”
“Aha, that could be it.”
Then don’t ask me to do this!! Just don’t!! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon silently gnashed his teeth. Why did it feel like these people were getting even more mischievous with every passing day??
“Mister Choi Jeong-Hoon.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
“Yes?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“We have ten minutes.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
Choi Jeong-Hoon nodded after hearing Gwok Min-Ho’s words.
“Ten minutes from now, the NDF will join the ability users from China, Russia and Japan to rush into Pyongyang. Currently, the Korean and Chinese landing forces have closed in on the vicinity of Pyongyang.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
“Mm, I see.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Five minutes later, the American special forces and ability users will make their descent. We will begin our teleportation then, so I ask you to prepare yourself.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
“Alright.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon looked behind and asked.
“Did you hear that, everyone?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Agents replied in disinterested voices.
Choi Jeong-Hoon was overcome by this weird emotion while looking at their response.
‘It’ll be nice if they can still maintain such reactions after the operation is over.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
He knew that such a thing wasn’t going to be easy.
“Everyone… don’t get hurt and let’s meet again later.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
A quiet reply came in his way.
“Mister Choi Jeong-Hoon, you need to get ready now.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
“Yes, of course.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon scanned the faces of the agents one more time, before following Gwok Min-Ho’s lead to get to where the teleporter was currently waiting.
‘Feels strange.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Anxiety and excitement were coexisting together in his heart. Choi Jeong-Hoon rubbed his face hard and slowly walked forward.
“Soon, our agents will enter Pyongyang.” (defense minister)
“Mmm….” (Yun Yeong-Min)
South Korea’s President Yun Yeong-Min stared at the map appearing on the screen with a tense expression. The locations of the troops currently approaching Pyongyang were being marked in real time on this very map.
“Any engagements with the enemies?” (Yun Yeong-Min)
The defense minister replied with a weighty voice.
“No, sir. Nothing that could be called a real skirmish yet. Our forces encountered sporadic resistance around the border area, but we broke through far easier than expected, sir.” (defense minister)
“Is that so?” (Yun Yeong-Min)
Yun Yeong-Min’s expression brightened.
“If this continues on, maybe we can resolve this crisis without too much sacrifice.” (Yun Yeong-Min)
“It seems that way, sir.” (defense minister)
It was then a loud sound of tutting could be heard. Yun Yeong-Min looked over to Song Jeong-Su and frowned slightly.
“Do you have a differing opinion, party leader Song?” (Yun Yeong-Min)
Now normally, Song Jeong-Su shouldn’t have been allowed to stay inside this very conference room where national secrets were discussed quite often. However, Yun Yeong-Min realised that this event couldn’t be solved by his own abilities alone so he immediately appointed Song Jeong-Su as the prime minister.
In the past, Song Jeong-Su would never accept being a prime minister under Yun Yeong-Min’s presidency, but with the crisis being what it was, he didn’t say anything else and duly accepted the post.
“Mister President. Are you aware of the exact military strength of North Korea?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“….Well, more or less.” (Yun Yeong-Min)
“It’s true that the might of the allied forces are overwhelming, but it’s still bizarre that we haven’t encountered any real resistance. Not even from patrolling soldiers? Can’t be.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Mm. Indeed, that is bizarre.” (Yun Yeong-Min)
“Mister defense minister.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Yes, Prime Minister Song.” (defense minister)
“What’s the situation in the demilitarized zone? Has any anomaly been detected there?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“No, sir. Apparently, it’s eerily quiet there.” (defense minister)
“How strange.” (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su pulled out a cigarette only to stop his hand and stare at Yun Yeong-Min. The latter nodded his head once.
Having gotten his permission, Song Jeong-Su lit the cigarette up.
“Since the war has already begun, the news should have spread out to the rest of North Korea by now. Which means, there should’ve been some kind of movement in the DMZ where their forces are most heavily focused. However, nothing’s happening there?” (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su shook his head.
“This makes no d*mn sense. Contact the Americans. It looks to me that something has gone wrong somewhere. If it’s at all possible, we need to delay the invasion of Pyongyang.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“But, we’re scheduled to invade soon, sir.” (defense minister)
Song Jeong-Su’s voice grew louder.
“That’s why I told you to contact them! Our healthy young men and women might end up losing their lives for no good reason at this rate! Don’t you get that?!” (Song Jeong-Su)
The defense minister hurriedly nodded his head and ran outside the room.
“M-mm….” (Song Jeong-Su)s
Song Jeong-Su watched the departing back and spat out a sigh.
‘He’s too inflexible.’ (Song Jeong-Su)
Analysis like this shouldn’t be his job but the defense department’s. However, they had never experienced real combat so their thought process was rather inflexible.
‘I too used to be like that.’ (Song Jeong-Su)
If Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t send him away to another world and let him taste hell, then Song Jeong-Su probably wouldn’t have analysed the situation any differently from them.
‘There are no easy matters, only the ones that look easy, that’s all.’ (Song Jeong-Su)
If the initial stages were easy, then situations several times harder and more ridiculous would be lying in wait a bit further down the road.
Everyone stared at the map on the screen with tense, anxious minds, and not too long afterwards, the defense minister rushed back inside.
“….The Americans say it’s too difficult to change the operation’s itinerary at this time.” (defense minister)
“Why not?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“How about directly speaking to….” (defense minister)
Song Jeong-Su scowled deeply and picked up the phone’s receiver.
“This is Song Jeong-Su speaking.”
– “This is Voyreck, the secretary of defense.”
“I wish to speak to Christopher McLaren.” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “What did you say?” (Voyreck)
“We’re in the middle of war. I need to urgently get in touch with the person in actual command and that’s why I’m requesting you to put me through to Christopher McLaren.” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “That is not possible.” (Voyreck)
“If he doesn’t want to see a certain black Gate opening up in his front yard, tell him to pick up the d*mn phone, please. If you don’t tell him for some reason, then I guarantee that he will rip you a new one.” (Song Jeong-Su)
For a short while there, silence was the only thing coming out from the phone.
– “Please wait.” (Voyreck)
Yun Yeong-Min eavesdropping on the conversation could only admire Song Jeong-Su just then. One could argue that the American secretary of defense enjoyed a far higher standing than the South Korea’s president. If it was him making the call then he’d not be able to say much, yet here was Song Jeong-Su, easily making a mincemeat out of the American.
‘Is this because of years of experience and knowledge?’ (Yun Yeong-Min)
Those were aspects that Yun Yeong-Min didn’t possess. However, he didn’t feel jealous or anything as he was already in the twilight of his political career. No, he felt rather reassured, instead.
‘He’s definitely more suited to this position than me.’ (Yun Yeong-Min)
– “Yes, I’m here. This is Christopher McLaren. And you are?”
“I’m Song Jeong-Su, prime minister of South Korea.”
– “The real big fish has stepped forward, I see.” (Christopher McLaren)
The secretary of defense on the phone earlier felt like an inexperienced gopher after hearing the relaxed voice of Christopher McLaren.
“We don’t have much time, so let me get straight to the point. The movements of the North Koreans are very suspicious right now. I’d like to propose a slight delay to the incursion of Pyongyang.” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “That’ll be difficult.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Why?” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “Our agents have already set off to their destination. And this isn’t an issue that can be solved by us two discussing over the phone. The pride of each participating nation is at stake here. They are our allies, yes, but they also have no reason to heed our orders.” (Christopher McLaren)
“However, I’m sure it can be done as long as you willed it?” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “Hmm….” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren’s soft sigh could be heard next.
– “Prime Minister Song.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Please speak, Mister McLaren.” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “I know that you’re worried about the potential sacrifices. However, freedom and peace can only bloom through countless sacrifices. If we miss this timing because of a moment’s hesitation, then a sacrifice that can’t even be compared to anything else will occur later.” (Christopher McLaren)
“Do you have new information that we don’t?” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “We have some evidence to suggest that someone we’re most wary of has insinuated himself into this situation. This individual is deemed as dangerous as Yi Ji-Hyuk, no wait, even more dangerous than him.” (Christopher McLaren)
“….There was such an individual?” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “It’s difficult to explain everything right now. But please know this. We’re also dispatching our top agents to Pyongyang as well. Meaning, it’s not just your country’s ability users shouldering the risk here. Even if they find themselves in mortal danger, entering Pyongyang right now is the best option available. I hope that you can make the correct decision for your country and for the world!” (Christopher McLaren)
“….Godd*mmit.” (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su felt the pressure crush down on his shoulders.
Now normally, Yun Yeong-Min should be the one to make this decision, yet even after listening to the contents of the phone call, he was still staring at Song Jeong-Su like a little kid.
Song Jeong-Su sure had to experience all sorts of ups and downs during his storied political career, but even he found it hard to make a decision on a matter of this nature.
“….Let’s proceed ahead.” (Song Jeong-Su)
– “You made the right call. Well, then.” (Christopher McLaren)
The call came to an end, and while groaning deeply, Song Jeong-Su pulled out yet another cigarette and stuck it to his lips.
‘Freedom is a flower blooming on a field of corpses, is it?’ (Song Jeong-Su)
Did the American say that while knowing how heavy a burden those words carried?
Song Jeong-Su shook his head.
One shouldn’t look back and question the decision that had already been made. Maybe, his choice today could have driven countless many to their graves, but it was the job of the commander to ponder which option would result in the least number of casualties overall.
“Even then, one should be capable enough to take care of the aftermaths.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Excuse me?” (Yun Yeong-Min)
Yun Yeong-Min asked back with a confused expression, but Song Jeong-Su ignored that and shot up from his seat. He then yanked out his phone and began calling someone.
“Yeah, it’s me.” (Song Jeong-Su)
‘Who is he talking to?’ (Yun Yeong-Min)
“My man, I want you to go to Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk’s residence and ask him to be on an emergency standby. Mm? What? You don’t want to die? Then, you want me to kill you, instead?!” (Song Jeong-Su)
The tense atmosphere suddenly began changing to something more… weird.
“Resignation?! Listen here, you son of a b*tch!” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Before I accept your resignation, you’re still my godd*mn secretary, so do what I tell you to do first! What was that?! Did you just swear at me, you stinking son of a gun?!” (Song Jeong-Su)
Yun Yeong-Min facepalmed just then.
‘No answers. Seriously.’
< 377. Ah, so I was that kkondae -2 > Fin.