After arriving at the Blue House, Yi Ji-Hyuk let go of the hands of his two family members. Mom immediately proceeded to drag Yi Ye-Won away by her hair.
“Ahck?! Mom, my hair! My haaaair!” (Ye-Won)
“You’re noisy! Keep quiet before I pluck out all your hair!” (mom)
“Ahk! Mom, it really hurts! I’m not lying!” (Ye-Won)
“One more word from you, and I’ll make sure you don’t have any hair to worry about for the rest of your life. So, say one more thing. I dare you!” (mom)
Yi Ye-Won desperately kept her mouth shut despite suffering from this intense pain akin to her scalp being torn apart. Her mother, Madam Park Seon-Deok, was someone who really did what she said she’d do.
“This child, just what will she be when she grows up…?!” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shuddered while listening to the fleshy Slap, slap noises of mom’s back spikes landing on his sister’s back.
‘Her back’s gonna be ruined at this rate.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He had to endure mom’s deadly back spike for almost his entire Earth life, so he could only sympathise with his sister experiencing an untold amount of pain at the moment.
How could a stranger even imagine the level of fiery pain wrecking her back? No, they couldn’t.
“M-mom, how about, you know…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Unable to watch anymore, he stepped up to pacify his mother.
At this rate, letting a nuke fall might be a better option, because Ye-Won might get killed by the back spike long before that happened.
“Don’t stop me, you fool! Your little sister is busy hanging out with a bunch of high school hoodlums and smoking her life away, so why are you trying to stop me?! Besides, you’re no saint, either! You smoke every single day and this child picked up that bad habit from you!” (mom)
“Mom, she was already smoking by the time I came back home after five years.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You even dare to talk back to me?!” (mom)
…I can’t win with logic here, huh. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was reminded of that deeply obvious fact once more and could only grin.
“Mom, we’re at the Blue House, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mom stopped her hand from pounding on Ye-Won’s back and cautiously took a look around her. And perhaps she finally became conscious of all the unfamiliar buildings around her, her grip on Ye-Won’s hair weakened a little, too.
“Oh my goodness. Where are we?” (mom)
How should he put this?
Although this wasn’t the first time, should he say, “As expected of my mom” after she grabbed her daughter’s hair as soon as teleporting somewhere while not even bothering to check where they were?
It was at that moment Yi Ji-Hyuk finally understood where his instincts for battle had genetically come from. Without a doubt, mom’s genes had been powerfully ‘influencing’ his subconsciousness.
“This is… the Blue House, you say?” (mom)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t even need to explain it, because several bodyguard-looking types kitted out in black suits and earpieces hurriedly ran towards them from a distance before he could open his mouth.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?”
“Yes, that’s me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We’ve received the call. Allow us to escort your family members to the bunker. In the meantime, Mister President requests for your presence in the second conference chamber.”
“Okay, got it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned towards Park Seon-Deok.
“Mom, please go and wait inside the bunker.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…Did something serious happen?” (mom)
“No, well…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He lightly scratched his cheek.
“It’s nothing major, really. This is just, you know, for that one in a million chance, so don’t worry too much about it, mom. Oh, and dad should be inside as well.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Alright. Don’t push yourself too much, son.” (mom)
“Yes, mom.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk watched his mom and sister enter an elevator along with the bodyguards, then turned around to leave.
“By the way, where is this second conference chamber?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Nice to see you guys again. Feels like it’s been too long. Just a feeling, I guess.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It seems that way.”
Yi Ji-Hyuk took a look at the hardened expressions of everyone present and was reminded once more of the stark reality of a nuke heading to South Korea right at this moment.
“You finally came.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Including Choi Jeong-Hoon, the defense minister, and even the Army Chief of Staff… Everyone was here.
Yi Ji-Hyuk scanned them once before sighing out grandly.
“Not a single windless and calm day, huh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…Well, we’ve become numb to it by now, haven’t we?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon wryly smiled while making his reply. From his perspective, the ‘winds’ hadn’t stopped blowing ever since Yi Ji-Hyuk’s appearance, so the latter saying such things made him kind of feel strange and awkward.
“Okay, so what exactly happened?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What happened was…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
After listening to Choi Jeong-Hoon’s short briefing, Yi Ji-Hyuk hugged his head and plopped down on the nearby couch.
“Those stupid Chinese Commie b*stards.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…Christopher McLaren said something similar, too. Even muttering out ‘*****-*****‘ and such…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon) 
“What the heck, does that man want to get killed? Stupid racist as*hole.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
…But, what you said isn’t all that different, though? (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was powerfully emitting his determination of “I can racially discriminate, but I won’t tolerate anyone discriminating against me” at the moment.
“So, what’s our situation like?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Take a look at the monitor, please.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon pointed at the monitor and it displayed red dots spreading out from somewhere in the middle of China.
“As this map’s been drawn on a flat plane, you should keep in mind the slight differences in the actual location or the speed.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Mm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Out of all the ICBMs currently in flight, we predict that the first one will land somewhere near Beijing. The second one will be somewhere in South Korea or Japan, and the third, somewhere in Russia.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Huh. So the demon king wants to completely wreck East Asia first, is that it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mm, well…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon pointed to the monitor and continued on.
“Actually, even though both Korea and Japan fall within the range, there’s a greater chance of the warhead falling into the East Sea, instead. As for Russia, its territory is vast so unless they are seriously unlucky, the warhead should fall on an uninhabited wasteland. We predict the landing zone to be somewhere around… here, but honestly, 80% of Russia is basically an abandoned land so we think they won’t suffer as big of a damage.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Mm, I see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“So, the real problem is here, Beijing.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon used a lengthy pointer to tap on the monitor.
“Beijing as a city boasts an incredibly high population density, not to mention its surroundings are also full of people, as well. If a warhead explodes in Beijing’s airspace, then China will have to contend with the complete paralysis of its capital.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Well, that’s none of my business.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk ruthlessly cut Choi Jeong-Hoon’s report off.
“What about our side, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon spat out a sigh.
He glanced at the agent in charge of the monitor, and the map on the screen zoomed in at a massive crimson circle encompassing both South Korea and Japan.
“This is the predicted landing zone for the warhead.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Man, what the heck…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The warhead isn’t flying in a conventional trajectory. On top of that, its heading is constantly changing, as well.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“What’s that supposed to mean?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“To put it simply…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon pondered what he should say, before opening his mouth.
“It’s like a stork is carrying a nuke this time. So it’s a bit difficult to scientifically predict where the stork will drop its cargo…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I got you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk groaned grandly.
“Since it’s not that fast, we can somehow deal with it, right? So, what’s the plan?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We’re preparing to shoot it down.” (defense minister)
The defense minister chimed in.
“However, it’s not possible to do so right now. Only when the ICBM has entered the Yellow Sea can we attempt to shoot it down. We don’t know how the Chinese will react if we destroy it above their airspace, you see.” (defense minister)
“Now isn’t a good time to worry about that, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Unfortunately, we must worry.” (defense minister)
The defense minister replied with a hardened expression.
“We’ve come to learn that international cooperation is nothing but a pure fantasy at this point. With the current situation as is, if we haphazardly attempt to shoot down a nuke in their airspace, we can’t guarantee that China will take that lying down.” (defense minister)
“I thought protecting your own citizens takes priority above all else?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The defense minister found himself unable to reply to that, so Song Jeong-Su took over the discussion from there.
“Also, there’s a more practical reason for not doing that.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Pardon?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If we attempt to shoot the missile down now, the explosion will take place over the skies of China’s far east. Unfortunately, there is a cluster of nuclear power stations located right in the vicinity. One slip-up from us and just one of those stations gets destroyed, then never mind the East Sea, we will have another Fukushima on our hands, this time on the Yellow Sea.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Urgh…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk roughly scratched his head.
“Okay, so. It’s impossible to shoot the nuke down until it enters the Yellow Sea, is that it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Mm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk fell into a deep contemplation with a grave expression on his face, prompting Choi Jeong-Hoon to say something despite carrying a hardened expression of his own.
“I don’t think we need to be that concerned about this situation. It’s not as bad as it looks from the outside, after all.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“How so?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“When I first heard that eighteen ICBMs were flying towards us, I thought humanity was truly done for. But…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon coughed to clear his throat and continued on.
“The biggest reason why the ICBMs are deemed so terrifying is because it’s nigh-on impossible to shoot one down mid-flight, you see. Not only is it incredibly fast, it can also cause much confusion on the ground as well. However, the one headed in our way is slow enough for the naked eyes to spot and prepare countermeasures, so it shouldn’t be that hard to shoot it down. If we get the distance right, fighter jets should be able to shoot the warhead down and come home safe and sound.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk quietly stared at Choi Jeong-Hoon before making his reply.
“I do get what you’re trying to say. But…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“That’s only when you’re in a normal situation, isn’t it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Pardon?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I mean, really. A nuke suddenly changing its course in the middle of flight is not normal to begin with, so you shouldn’t be thinking, ‘Oh, we can deal with it pretty easy’, don’t you agree? None of us can tell what kinda cheap tricks the demon king has done to the missile, after all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ah…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk leaned against the couch and muttered in a low, hushed tone.
“If dealing with a demon king is that easy, we wouldn’t be having such a hard time like this, you know? I say, we should try everything we humanly can right now, instead of regretting bitterly after getting sucker-punched in the back of our heads later.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I guess it’s hard to imagine what I’m on about here. Okay, so. What’s happening with the one headed to Beijing?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Beijing…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon looked back at the map and his expression hardened even further.
“…The missile has almost reached its destination.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Sir Marshal, we can’t delay it any longer.”
Xu Cheng nodded gravely.
He had waited until the very last moment for all the other warheads to leave the Chinese airspace, but the one headed to Beijing would end up exploding too close to the capital if he delayed it any further.
“Initiate the remote detonation!” (Xu Cheng)
While the technicians were attempting to remote detonate the warheads, Xu Cheng felt deeply unhappy about something.
‘So, we must deal with the after-effects of all eighteen warheads exploding, is that it?’ (Xu Cheng)
Wouldn’t it be better to somehow deal with that one warhead flying to Beijing, and leave the rest be?
Xu Cheng bit down hard on his lip to suppress the voice of the devil whispering in his mind.
Sometimes, this thing called patriotism could turn you into a monster.
If he was thinking of doing such a thing solely for his own benefit, then sure, he might willingly admit that that was an act of evil. However, the moment a new shield called ‘Not for his sole benefit but for the sake of the mother nation and its citizens’ became available, one would be able to now re-package that thought as a decision meant for the greater good and not as some unmentionable act of evil.
However, Xu Cheng just couldn’t make that choice.
Not because he was hesitant, though. No, it was because he didn’t have the authority to make such decisions in the first place. It was simply not feasible to change a plan, any plan, without the express consent of the Comrade President. Even if Xu Cheng made a decision that brought about a far more favourable result than the president’s own decision, the only thing waiting for China’s Marshal would be a bloody and swift purge under the charge of disobeying a direct order.
So, all he could do was chew incessantly on his poor lip.
“Sir, we’re about to send out the signal to remotely detonate the warheads!”
Xu Cheng heard the loud report entering his ears and clenched his fists. He half-prayed for success but at the same time, wished for failure as well.
“Sir, it’s a failure! There’s a signal interference!”
His body went slack for a moment just then.
The cold sweat trickled down his forehead, travelled past his brows and leaked into his eyes.
“We’re reattempting! Failure! It’s not working, sir!”
“Fine, stop!” (Xu Cheng)
Xu Cheng gritted his teeth.
“This is good, as well. Dispatch fighter jets to shoot down the warhead targeting Beijing, now! As for the other missiles, send the word out to other countries and inform them that the remote detonation is a complete failure, and let them handle it themselves!” (Xu Cheng)
Xu Cheng rubbed his face, hard.
It felt like he aged ten years in this brief moment.
“All we have to do now is to focus on dealing with that one warhead. I’m sure they’ll do something about the rest.” (Xu Cheng)
His anxious eyes now shifted over to another monitor displaying a map indicating the current location of the fighter jets. The ball was in their court now.
< 428. There’s a nuke headed this way? -3 > Fin.