“Well, this is one hell of a crapfest, isn’t it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t help but frown deeply.
The things he was seeing right now, where humans and monsters were all tangled up without a rhyme nor reason… Now that was a scene straight out of the deepest levels of Hell.
There were monsters busy flying around in the air while spitting out licks of incinerating flames. And on the ground, the acrid odour of blood and expanded gunpowder combined to wrinkle his nose. It was like a bloody World War had broken out here or something.
“Mister Choi Jung-Hoon!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
After firing a ball of flames at the nearby monster, Seo Ah-Young spotted the arrival of an unexpected help, and raised her voice in barely-disguised happiness.
However, although her lips said Choi Jung-Hoon, her eyes were firmly focused on one man, and one man only: Yi Ji-Hyuk.
….Uhm, you should stop looking at me like that.
I didn’t come back here to help you out, you know. (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
With an awkward expression, Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his gaze towards Choi Jung-Hoon. For some reason, Choi Jung-Hoon was avoiding meeting his eyes, though.
Yi Ji-Hyuk felt that the atmosphere here was becoming a bit queer, all of a sudden…
It was then, Park Seon-Duk called out to him.
“M, mom? What’s up?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“W, what are you going to do?” (mom)
She was well aware of the fact that her son possessed more than enough power to lend an aid here. But she was more worried about her son entering the fray, only to get hurt in the process.
After seeing through her mixed bag of emotions, Yi Ji-Hyuk simply shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s not my business, so it’s fine.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And then, almost instinctively, he raised his head and looked at the family’s apartment.
Were all the windows intact?
What a relief, the apartment seemed unscathed for now.
“That doesn’t matter, does it? The house price around here will hit rock bottom soon, anyway.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It didn’t take a genius to figure out what would happen to this area, after taking one look at all the monster corpses and the bullet holes strewn about messily on the ground.
The wise old men once said that you never had enough money; now that Yi Ji-Hyuk thought about the family’s house price falling to the bottom of the pits, tears began leaking out of his eyes.
Wait a minute.
This isn’t the time to worry about the house price, is it? (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Suddenly, Yi Ji-Hyuk was overcome with this weird sense of disharmony.
It was all good and well that he was thinking of not getting mixed up in today’s events. It was also probably okay to not be interested in joining in, as well.
However, even he had to admit that something was not quite right about himself. He was more worried about the house price falling down, when countless scores of people were getting ripped to shreds right in front of his eyes.
What is this?
His eyes trembling now, he looked down at his hands.
It was unknown just which part it was, but something inside him was definitely broken. The Yi Ji-Hyuk of Berafe wouldn’t have thought of such inhuman things; back then, everything that made up who he was had been “frozen still” the moment he arrived there.
But, as soon as he was no longer “frozen”, changes took places. Gradually. He could tell this much without difficulty, yet….
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s urgent call awakened Yi Ji-Hyuk back to his senses and he looked to the front again.
He felt dirtied. Unclean.
‘I knew there would be some side effects. Yeah, I knew that already. So, is this that….?’
He had been living for over a thousand years. Plus, he returned from the state of death thousands of times during that period.
Under this sort of circumstances, it’d been the funniest joke in the whole world, if he was somehow able to maintain his humanity. More likely, he would’ve already left the boundaries of what made a person a human being a long, long time ago.
That was why… he wanted to live like a human being. More than ever before.
That was also why he wanted to kick the bucket as a human being.
Because… he was a human being, wasn’t he?
“So, which means, I should be thinking about helping the fellow humans right at this moment, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
But the fact of the matter was that no prior thoughts of helping the fellow humans existed in his head, initially at least.
Yi Ji-Hyuk scratched his head. Quite roughly, even.
Right now, he’d give anything to participate in a meeting titled “Humanity recovery program for those who lost it.”
Should he seek out a shrink or something?
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!! Please, don’t just stand there and help!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young shouted out in an urgent voice.
Even at this moment, her subordinates were dying from the monsters’ vicious attacks. If it helped even a tiny bit, she would’ve jumped at the chance to borrow the strength of a stray cat. That’s how desperate she felt right now.
“I’ll give you ten million!! Anything!! Please, help!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young cried out in desperation. Seeing her act like that, Yi Ji-Hyuk snorted out.
“You want me to help out?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Well, he could do that.
That wouldn’t be difficult at all, really.
Of course, he should help out, but…
“You, I ain’t talking to you!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around to look at Doh Gah-Yun and Choi Jung-Hoon with sharp glare.
“Oii.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Yes?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“You said you’ll definitely shield my family from any harm. Didn’t you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s correct.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I’m telling you this right now. When I return and find even a single scratch on my mom or my sister, then….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk grinded out his words very slowly.
“You better be ready for the consequences.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon trembled visibly as Yi Ji-Hyuk’s icy cold eyes landed on him.
“Y, yes. Of course.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I’ll trust you for now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s head then turned towards the battlefield.
‘Why is he so p*ssed off today?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon couldn’t quite understand the extreme change in Yi Ji-Hyuk’s mood. Leaving behind the confused KSF agent, Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped high up in the air.
And as soon as he was gone, a saddened voice piped up slowly from the crowd of people he had left behind.
“What about me, Ji-Hyuk-ah….” (dad)
It was his dad.
Park Seon-Duk reached out and tightly grasped her husband’s faltering hand unconsciously.
Yi Ji-Hyuk decided not to land near the KSF’s agents.
They were holding on somehow, but the story with the Defcom wasn’t as good.
The hand-held firearms proved to be too ineffective against the monsters capable of flight as well as the monsters that could easily ripped the earth apart. Thus, their formation had collapsed a long time ago.
And when confronted by the unimaginably sharp fangs and claws, the flesh of humans were too weak to resist.
However, the soldiers of the Defcom weren’t backing away. They knew that the moment they did, the powerless citizens behind them would all be killed.
Their sense of duty had bound their feet to where they stood.
Even though the monsters and their claws came at them, none of these soldiers turned around to run away. They endured and stood tall, so they could fire one more bullet at these ugly b*stards until the end.
“Do not falter!! Do not back down!! You idiots!! Do not retreat!!” (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo screamed out until blood leaked out of his mouth.
Who could understand the pain he felt as he watched his precious soldiers getting ripped to shreds? Soldiers who were like his children?
But, Jeong In-Soo knew that they couldn’t run. They had to defend this place, no matter what. Even if that meant their death.
That was what being a soldier was about.
If they were afforded enough time to evacuate all of the citizens from the area, they wouldn’t have fought this desperately.
‘It’s all my fault.’ (Jeong In-Soo)
They grew too complacent. They believed in that stupid anti-Gate protocol!!
He had taken for granted the old ways of thinking – the one about the amount of time for a Gate to open up being constant and unchanging.
Jeong In-Soo felt like killing himself out of shame. But now wasn’t the time for that. If he didn’t command his men with a clear head, more soldiers would die.
In order to prevent an even greater loss of life, he had to grit his teeth, ignore the small sacrifices that had been, and carry on. He had to.
The problem facing him now, though, was that the sacrifices couldn’t be called ‘small’ anymore.
“You KSF sons of b*tches!! Do something!!” (Jeong In-Soo)
Those KSF b*stards that were of no goddamn help when they needed it! Those damn ability users that always lacked honour and stayed fat and complacent all the time!!
He wanted to rip them to pieces if he could!
It was then, Jeong In-Soo’s eyes picked up on a blue-coloured humanoid shape falling from the sky.
Jeong In-Soo cried out without realising he had.
“Yi Ji-Hyuk!!” (Jeong In-Soo)
Yi Ji-Hyuk fell from the sky, landed near a monster that was trying to gut a fallen soldier on the ground with its claws, and proceeded to kick the living crap out of it. Then, he picked up the injured soldier and pushed the helpless man towards other soldiers.
“Medic!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes? Ahh!! Yes sir!!”
He shouted out an order like an experienced commander, and the injured soldier was carried back behind the frontlines to safety.
“*SFX for taking a really deep breath*”
Yi Ji-Hyuk deeply breathed in the mountain of Mana floating around in front of him.
‘What an irony this is.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Today was the worst disaster since his return to this world. The ironical thing was, the bigger the disaster, the greater the amount of Mana he could absorb.
It was as if someone was telling him to move his a*s more and more, as bigger and bigger events continued to unfold.
“Fine. I’ll play along with you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The black tentacles of Mana extending from Yi Ji-Hyuk spread out to all over the area, and began swallowing and killing the monsters rushing towards the soldiers.
As the gap between the monsters and the soldiers widened, those stuck in the frontlines full of death and destruction were able to get a breather in.
“Yep, if I’m helping, I should help these guys out first.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He wouldn’t help out those dumb ability users, oh no.
“I mean, you can still spit out flames, right? Am I wrong?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
After all, soldiers over here only relied on their measly guns to defend themselves. Seriously now, wasn’t it only logical to help first those carrying guns to fight, rather than those using their bare hands, instead?
That sounds a bit…. Uh…
I may have got that slightly wrong. Probably.
Nevertheless!! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Strands of Mana started oozing out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s raised right hand.
These strands then twisted and combined with each other in the air to form a huge lump.
‘I gotta control it right this time.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He already had figured out what went wrong the last time: this world had no Mana. Consequently, there would absolutely be no built-in resistance to impacts caused by Mana within the things existing in this world.
Back in Berafe, the magic attacks would gradually weaken as they flew, just like how the wind coming out from an electric fan would gradually weaken from colliding with the ambient air.
However, in this world, the magic attacks wouldn’t weaken at all when colliding with the atmosphere and maintained its original power.
So, if he were to use a powerful destructive spell, he had to calculate and then adjust over and over again the spell’s effective range and scope, so it wouldn’t inadvertently swallow up everything in its path.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s brain kicked into high gear.
Only if he studied with this much dedication… He’d have gone to the top university in the country by now!
But he couldn’t, and he was still a high school dropout, so deal with it!!
The huge black cloud created by Yi Ji-Hyuk’s Mana filled up the sky soon afterwards.
“Hey, Seo Ah-Young!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seo Ah-Young turned her head to see Yi Ji-Hyuk giving her a signal. She then quickly shouted out loudly.
“Everyone!! Retreat, now!! Get the hell away from here!” (Seo Ah-Young)
The KSF agents fighting against the monsters quickly dispersed out of the way.
Yi Ji-Hyuk then squeezed his right hand tightly and swung it down.
“EUH-AH-AH-AH-AH-AH!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
His body bore the brunt of the powerful backlash from trying to wield a huge amount of Mana at once. If this was Berafe, his body would’ve recovered in an instant, but now, he had to endure the body-wrecking pain all on his own.
“DIEEEE!!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The pain pummeling his innards fueled his fury, and he poured all of that out in his loud cry.
The black cloud formed by Mana lazily descended down to the ground and swallowed up every single monster below.
Soon afterwards, otherworldly screams and roars of terror soared high into the night sky, deafening all who listened.
Seo Ah-Young ended up hugging herself tightly while listening to that ghastly mixture of pained, helpless cries. Her body began shivering from fear.
This wasn’t the first time it happened, either.
Probably, the first time she witnessed this frightening display of power shocked her and scared her a lot more. But this time, it felt far more intimate, far more real.
In front of her eyes, scenes more horrifying than from a horror movie were playing out in real time.
‘I think I get it now.’ (Seo Ah-Young)
Seeing Yi Ji-Hyuk, she finally understood it. She finally understood what normal people felt when they looked at the ability users.
She finally understood the fear they held.
If they felt the same terrifying awe and fear as she was feeling right now, then she would not hesitate to understand their plight ten times, no, a hundred more times if need be!!
‘He… He’s like the devil…’ (Seo Ah-Young)
She knew not to say stuff like that about a guy who was saving everyone here today, but still….
As she was inwardly and outwardly shivering, the black cloud that had swallowed up all of the monsters compressed to a much smaller size.
“Drain.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And that compressed cloud rushed back towards Yi Ji-Hyuk’s right hand.
After absorbing all the residual Mana from the surroundings, Yi Ji-Hyuk let out a long sigh.
‘Did I overdo it slightly?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Well, there was no need for him to do something this flashy, that’s for sure. Hell, if he held back just a little, then a stupid situation like the one right now, where everyone he helped out was looking at him with scared eyes, wouldn’t have happened.
No one could blame them, though – there was literally nothing remaining near Yi Ji-Hyuk’s vicinity.
The hordes of monsters crowding the area like the marauding army of red ants, even the emptied shells and bullet casings littering the ground like grains of sand…. They had all been swept away, as if none were there to begin with.
The only thing remaining was the tattered, ruined landscape.
Thanks to this queer, unexplainable sight, the members from both the KSF and the Defcom simply stared at him slack jawed, completely, utterly speechless.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!!!” (Jeong In-Soo)
It was then, Colonel Jeong In-Soo ran out from the crowd in a real hurry.
And he proceeded to grasp Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hands tightly.
“Thank you!!” (Jeong In-Soo)
“Oh, uh….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Thank you. Thank you!! Because of you, we were able to prevent more sacrifices….” (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo’s head dropped low before he could finish his sentence.
“Don’t mention it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk deliberately spoke up in a curt manner and pulled his hand out. However, he was actually feeling rather chuffed inside.
“It’s not over yet.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Of course!” (Jeong In-Soo)
There were many monsters still remaining; those that had escaped the encirclement and were wreaking havoc outside the perimeter, as well as those flight type monsters flying in the air.
Yi Ji-Hyuk had killed most of them, but there were still quite a few monsters to subjugate. They needed to resolve that fast, before the civilian casualty increased. Regardless, the incredibly dangerous situation, where one single mistake would’ve led to the total annihilation of the entire defense force, had been avoided.
Seo Ah-Young, meanwhile, was spitting out a long sigh while watching Jeong In-Soo and Yi Ji-Hyuk converse.
It seemed that, it was impossible to hide Yi Ji-Hyuk’s existence now.
Too many people must’ve witnessed today’s events, and since the scale of this disaster had escalated to such a degree, even if she wanted to hide it, it’d simply be an exercise in futility.
So, what would happen when Yi Ji-Hyuk was revealed to the world?
“…Mister Choi Jung-Hoon.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Yes, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“For now, I’ll lead our people to subjugate the remaining monsters. In the meantime, I want you to take care of the matters of Mister Ji-Hyuk’s family before anything else.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Understood.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Seo Ah-Young slowly nodded her head with a rigid expression etched on her face.
The man himself was probably unaware of it. But…
Without a doubt, Yi Ji-Hyuk would become the centre of the storm that would shake up the entire world. And it was rather clear to her that her mission was to protect that centre, no matter what.
“This is just the beginning, Mister Ji-Hyuk.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Whether Yi Ji-Hyuk knew what she was thinking or not, was unknown, as he trudged towards his family members.
< 50. Can a high school dropout get a job there? -5 > Fin.