“We’re setting off.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon scanned his vicinity with a tense expression.
Everyone was clearly nervous, tense. Even if he or someone else tried to lighten up their tension, they were about to jump into a warzone so it was nigh-on impossible not to get tense.
“Take care, everyone.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
“….Yes.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Colonel Gwok Min-Ho could only look on at Choi Jeong-Hoon with a pitying expression.
Even if China enjoyed an abundance of teleporters, there was a clear limit to the number of people that could be transported at once. They also didn’t have plenty of Ether allowing them to make several trips in a row, either. So the decision was made to teleport as many agents as possible in one go.
That meant that no open slots became available to the special forces made up of regular, ability-less soldiers.
Gwok Min-Ho vehemently opposed this arrangement, but ended up conceding to the logic of “No need to deploy special forces through the teleporters since the other special forces personnel advancing through the Daedong River basin had already reached the vicinity of Pyongyang”.
Besides, he figured that no matter how strongly he voiced his objections, it wasn’t as if the Chinese would listen to him, anyway.
“I shouldn’t be saying this just before the operation is about to commence, but well, I hope that you and your men do their best not to step to the front early on. The most dangerous moments during an operation are when the allied forces come in contact with the enemy. Your scope, your perspective, narrows due to the tension and nervousness, you see.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
“I see. I’ll remember that.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I wish you all a safe return. Do not forget that the fate of our nation hangs on your shoulders, everyone.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
Choi Jeong-Hoon could only smile bitterly then. Wasn’t the pressure just too d*mn ridiculously strong?
Some people performed better when under pressure but some didn’t. As for Choi Jeong-Hoon, if someone asked him to describe which camp he belonged to, then he’d say that he was the type to come alive when placed under some amount of pressure.
‘Even then, I really don’t want to hear such things in a situation like ours.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Especially so when their role wouldn’t be too different from how it was usually.
It was around then, a soldier wearing the Chinese Mao uniform began shouting something towards them.
“They’re ready to deploy.” (Gwok Min-Ho)
Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t look back at Gwok Min-Ho, and instead turned around to face the agents behind him.
“Step aside.” (Park Seong-Chan)
Park Seong-Chan then pushed Choi Jeong-Hoon slightly behind him and stepped forward.
“Ehng??” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“We don’t know what might happen the moment we arrive there, so what do you think will happen to someone like you who can’t even defend himself, other than to die like a dog? So, behave yourself and just give us commands from somewhere in the back.” (Park Seong-Chan)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s eyes shook.
“He’s right, you know.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun also stepped past Choi Jeong-Hoon, but he was immediately greeted by a chorus of booing, instead.
“Even if you wanna step in front, all you can do is dodge, right? Don’t be a jack*ss who talks big only to end up as Swiss cheese, and quietly come back here.”
“Wait, that idiot, he’s gonna run at his top speed the moment bullets come flying. I mean, he’s really great at running away, isn’t he?”
“….Urgh.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
The man named Kim Dah-Hyun, known only as a possessor of a rather speedy pair of legs, could only groan under his breath.
In the meantime, the NDF agents began surrounding Choi Jeong-Hoon. He couldn’t say anything and simply lowered his head.
“Hey, someone get Mister Choi Jeong-Hoon something cold to drink while he’s there. So he can be his usual flippant self!”
“What do you mean, flippant?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Everyone let out a peal of laughter when Choi Jeong-Hoon got triggered.
He wryly smiled back at them.
‘Now that I think about it, we’ve been at it for a long time.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
They had crossed a lot more than one or two ‘warzones’ together before. Indeed, they felt more like family to him than his relatives he hadn’t seen in many years. Although, it was unknown how they thought of him.
“We’re departing.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Three Chinese agents that looked to be their teleporters approached them. Choi Jeong-Hoon tightened the straps of his helmet and zipped up the bulletproof vest.
“So bloody uncomfortable.”
Every agent tightening their current equipment voiced their discontent. They always participated in their operations while wearing casual clothes, so it made sense that they felt uncomfortable wearing the military uniforms and bulletproof equipment, something they begrudgingly agreed to put on after the defense minister roared at them.
“But, Mister Park Seong-Chan doesn’t need this, does he?”
‘W-wait, that’s right.’ (Park Seong-Chan)
Park Seong-Chan, trying to force an ill-fitting bulletproof steel helmet on his head, scowled angrily and chucked the equipment away.
“Now that I think about it, why am I even wearing such things, anyway?!” (Park Seong-Chan)
Even Park Seong-Chan’s eyeballs should be tougher than a bulletproof helmet to begin with. Probably.
“Hey, bro. A helmet doesn’t even fit you, so what did you do exactly when you were still a special forces soldier?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
“….It fit me after draining some blood out, okay?” (Park Seong-Chan)
“Eiii, that can’t be right.” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Unfunny jokes were shared among the group to ease the tension while they waited for the teleportation to commence.
“You know, it feels like the loading time is really long.”
“Man, I wish we were there already.”
Gwok Min-Ho received a radio message, then shouted out loudly.
“Ten seconds before deployment!” (Gwok Min-Ho)
Choi Jeong-Hoon checked his pistol one more time. Although it might not see any action today, it was deemed unwise to head to the enemy territory without any weapon, so he was provided with a gun.
Having confirmed that there were no issues, he hardened his expression and stared at the teleporters.
“Advance!” (Gwok Min-Ho)
Then, the world brightened.
“Yaaaaawn.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk slacking off on the living room couch stretched his limbs grandly.
The TV was showing only useless news pieces. As far as he knew, today was the day of the operation yet the news people were not saying a single word about it – as if this whole thing was happening in another galaxy or something.
“Is it fine like this?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Regardless of what, a war had broken out less than 500 kilometres away so he couldn’t help ponder whether or not it was the right thing not to mention it to the public.
Sure, no mention of it before the operation in fear of information leaking to the North made sense, but now that the battle had begun, shouldn’t the public be informed of it, at least?
“Eiii, I don’t care anymore.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Care about what, son?” (mom)
Mom entered the living room with a tray of sliced fruits and asked him, so he replied in a nonchalant manner.
“You know, the war happening right now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Where? In the middle east?” (mom)
“What do you mean, the middle east… South Korea invaded the North today, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…..Were you dreaming just now?” (mom)
She was always like this. Even if it was The Truth, she still didn’t believe it, so obviously he’d end up speechless.
“The special forces and the NDF went north to take the head of the piggy as we speak. Even the Americans, Japanese, Chinese and the Russians are tagging along, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I think you better go to bed now.” (mom)
She just doesn’t believe anything I say!! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pouted and shoved a sliced piece of apple in his mouth.
“Mom, don’t you think you’re too distrusting of your own son?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s because you’re saying something so unbelievable, you know. Weren’t you watching the news until now? If something like that really happened, it should be a pandemonium with news people, no?” (mom)
“That’s how South Korean media is like, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Fine, let’s say that’s the Korean media. But if you’re right, then the media from America or some other country wouldn’t be sitting still, now would they?” (mom)
“….Did I really dream up this whole thing, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
After hearing his mom’s argument, something did feel a bit weird here. If the media of another country reported on the war situation, then the Korean media people would only be too happy to translate that and use it. However, there was not even a hint of doing that?
“Now that is bizarre.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was then, someone pressed the doorbell.
“Who could it be?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head. It was already past nine in the evening, so who could possibly come to visit him at this hour?
“N-ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pushed himself off from the couch and picked up the intercom, and without missing a beat, spoke up.
“We don’t read newspapers.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “I, I’m not from the papers.”
“Then, we don’t drink milk here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “I’m not a milk delivery guy!”
“Not interested in aloe vera prod….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, it’s me! Jeong In-Su!”
“Ehng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Only then did Yi Ji-Hyuk take a closer look at the intercom’s monitor. For sure, he could see Jeong In-Su standing in front of the gate looking somewhat uncomfortable.
“What are you doing here at this hour?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “There’s something I’d like to speak to you about.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Okay, then. Come on in.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If it was anyone else, Yi Ji-Hyuk would’ve kicked their a*ses while accusing them of being inconsiderate jerks, but Jeong In-Su was a different story altogether.
He electronically opened the door and turned the intercom off then slowly walked outside the front door.
“Uwaaht?! H-hey, it’s me! Me! It’s not even your first time seeing me, so what gives?!” (Jeong In-Su)
For some reason, Oh-Sik was busy tormenting Jeong In-Su.
“Hey, Imma roast you in doenjang, got that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
How could an Ogre understand him so well like this? Spooky, wasn’t it?
Oh-Sik tucked its tail between its legs and retreated to a corner of the front yard. Yi Ji-Hyuk then addressed Jeong In-Su.
“It’s even nicer to see you in the middle of the night. Really.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ahahaha. My apologies.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Nah, don’t sweat it. Why don’t you come in?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Pardon me for this intrusion.” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su carried a basket of fruits and entered the house. Mom welcomed him with a warm smile.
“Welcome. Would you like a cup of coffee?” (mom)
“A soldier never says no to coffee, ma’am.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Hohoho, you’re funnier than I thought, sir.” (mom)
“Thank you.” (Jeong In-Su)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked a little as he observed Jeong In-Su.
“I know you’re a soldier and all that, but shouldn’t you be off the clock by now? I mean, you still walking around wearing the uniform just doesn’t feel right somehow?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, I’m still on duty, so….” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su smiled wryly.
He also didn’t want to pay a visit to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s home looking like this, either. If only it wasn’t for the “When asked to jump, answer with how high” situation he found himself in.
Soon, coffee was brought out and mom left so the two men could converse privately. Jeong In-Su finally opened his mouth.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Yes?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ehh… well, it’s actually…. I’ve been told to inform you that something bad might happen before the end of tonight, and also, ask you if you’re gracious enough to be on emergency standby just in case.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Ehng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk replied in disbelief.
“You folks told me to butt out earlier, but now it’s not even ‘please butt back in’, but…. on emergency standby, is it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….I’m really sorry about this.” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su spat out a sigh.
Prime Minister Song Jeong-Su wasn’t wrong. With the unfolding situation being what it was, Yi Ji-Hyuk should be ready to step in at any given moment.
The problem, of course, was with the fact that they already told him to “Take a long, long vacation at home since there’s no place for you in this operation.”
So, someone had to bite the bullet and explain to Yi Ji-Hyuk that the previous decision had been rescinded. And somewhat predictably, no one wanted to take on that role.
The unfolding crisis up north was not something you’d inform the other party over the phone, but that didn’t mean Song Jeong-Su could come here personally, either. He couldn’t even leave his post for a second at the moment, after all.
And that was why he called his secretarial team, but all of them fainted with bubbles coming out of their mouths so he was left with not much of a choice.
He kept searching for that one person who wouldn’t get… burned by Yi Ji-Hyuk after delivering the message, and eventually arrived at Jeong In-Su.
Although it was rather strange for a soldier to act as a messenger handing over new national policy, the order still came through the defense ministry after it was decided that no one suited the role better than Jeong In-Su.
“Why are you, a certifiable major general, delivering this message??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….I wonder about that myself.” (Jeong In-Su)
A bitter grin spread on his lips.
‘This is why a person should wear clothes that fit them….’ (Jeong In-Su)
When he got evaluated as the best available anti-Yi Ji-Hyuk weapon by the defense ministry and had his rank jump up by two grades, he sure felt weirded out and somewhat sceptical. He was promoted ostensibly to a suitable post that allowed him to oversee every facet of the defence command, but in actual truth, the brass was saying to him, “We’ll make you a major general, so please do something about this crazy loon.”
‘I should’ve clearly rejected it back then.’ (Jeong In-Su)
Just like what Song Jeong-Su said before, he too was a human being. Since he had received favours, it was only natural that he’d have to reciprocate one or two.
Back then, his unhappiness regarding the inefficient administration and operation of the defence command was at its boiling peak. He also thought that if he was the one holding the real reins of the organisation, then he should be able to decrease the sacrifices his subordinates had to experience. So, despite his misgivings, he squeezed his eyes shut and accepted the appointment. If he knew he’d be asked to waste his time doing crap like this, then he should’ve firmly refused.
But what good was it to reflect on his mistake now?
“Whatever the case may be, that’s the position of the higher-ups. I can imagine that you’re not too pleased with this situation, but I beg of you to consider how hard it is to maintain a consistent position when the situation we’re facing right now is at a critical stage.” (Jeong In-Su)
Yi Ji-Hyuk replied with a distorted expression.
“I got it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oh!” (Jeong In-Su)
Didn’t he accept it much quicker than expected?
However, as soon as he made his reply, Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly pulled his phone out.
At the same time, uneasiness began filling up Jeong In-Su’s face.
< 378. Ah, so I was that kkondae -3 > Fin.