Chapter 59: It’s time to go home (4)

“Just what the hell is going on here?”

The leader of the KSF’s strike force for Busan, Lee Seok-Woo was clenching his fists real tightly as he glared at the Gate in front of his eyes.

What a f*cked up world this was. Of all the places in the peninsula of Korea, why did it have to appear here?

You godd*mn Gate! Why didn’t you open up in front of the Blue House or something, instead? (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Everyone’s in position, sir.”

“What? Already? Wait, have the support team from Seoul arrive yet?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“No, sir. Not yet…”

“Then, why are you telling me everyone’s in position?! Wake the f*ck up!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“I’m sorry. I’ll change the status back.”

Lee Seok-Woo spat out a long sigh and nervously picked up his phone. He had requested for assistance such a long time ago, yet… Why hadn’t anyone shown up here already?!

Sure, it would take some time to get to Busan from Seoul, but still, this was a national emergency! They were the so-called National Defense Force, so they would’ve only needed a couple of hours to get here after commandeering a bunch of helicopters or something!

“Call them again on the phone.” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“They said they’ll arrive soon…”

“And when is ‘soon’?! What, are you planning to take full responsibility when they don’t show up, the Gate opens up, and then, the power station goes kablooey? You think you can evacuate every single person outta Busan all by yourself?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“….Let me call them.”

“Hurry the f*ck up, will ya!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Lee Seok-Woo vented out his frustrations on his subordinate for no good reason, and with a heavy frown on his face, shifted his gaze back to the Gate.

A Gate, that also happened to be Level 5.

It was a high level Gate that had appeared only twice before in Korea’s history. Lee Seok-Woo couldn’t even begin to imagine just what kind of horrific monstrosity would emerge from that, yet the crucial assistance was late.

“When is the ETA for the opening?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Within the next hour, sir.”

“Why the f*ck is it so fast?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Well, the speed of the Gates opening up has accelerated lately, sir.”

“Nothing seems to go right these days!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Lee Seok-Woo took off his steel helmet and held it tightly.

“Whatever the case may be, those b*stards…. Just when are they going to show up?!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

It was right then. A bright white light began shining out from the empty space between him and the Gate.

“W, what the f*ck?!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Lee Seok-Woo got flustered while wondering whether the Gate was opening up already or not, and he opened his eyes real wide to see the truth, only to spot several silhouettes of people suddenly appear within the light.

“Eu… blergh….” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Kkeuck…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Seo Ah-Young and Choi Jung-Hoon keeled over and began retching involuntarily.

“Seriously, no matter how many times I experience this, I can never get used to how yucky it feels.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“I even took motion sickness tablet, too…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Meanwhile, Lee Seok-Woo frowned real deeply after spotting four people there. A duo of a man and a woman was on the floor, trying to empty their stomachs; a cute, petite little girl in the middle was looking around the place with mystified eyes.

As for the last guy, he was….

“Yes! It’s the ocean!!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

….He was a weirdo.

Yi Ji-Hyuk spread open his arms and ran to a spot where the ocean was in full view, then took in a deep breath.

“Kkyah! The smell of the ocean~. Niceeeee.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Lee Seok-Woo looked at the ecstatic Yi Ji-Hyuk, and his jaw fell to the floor.

What the hell, who the f*ck is this weirdo?!

Did he lose his mind while on his way over here?

These people appearing here, they are from that ‘place’, so they should be fully aware of what’s happening here, yet what the f*ck is up with that reaction?! Does this situation look like a school field trip to them?! (Lee Seok-Woo’s inner monologue)

“You saw the ocean last time, so why are you acting so happy all of a sudden? Heck, you even caught a whale back then!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Right, that is the right reacti….

No wait, hold the f*ck up.

A whale? He caught a whale? (Lee Seok-Woo’s inner monologue)

As Lee Seok-Woo stood there in confusion, wondering how should he respond to this event, Choi Jung-Hoon approached him and offered his hand.

“I’m Choi Jung-Hoon, the Vice Captain of the NDF.”

“I’m Lee Seok-Woo, the leader of the KSF’s strike force, the Busan branch.”

“We’ll be in your care.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Me too. However, this….” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Lee Seok-Woo carefully studied the four of them before speaking up in an unsure tone of voice.

“Are the four of you all there is?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“To be more specific, it’s five… Blergh! Yes. But, you shouldn’t worry. We at the NDF pursue a mobile force formed around a small number of eli… elites. One person, one…. euph... he’s our best…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Stop trying to puke while you speak about one guy being your ace in the sleeve!! (Lee Seok-Woo’s inner monologue)

“Were you briefed properly before showing up here? It’s a Level 5! A damn Level 5, for crying out loud! It’s already at the level of a national emergency!!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

‘If that qualifies as a national emergency, then how should we label that man over there?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon sneaked a glance over at Yi Ji-Hyuk’s direction, before sighing out and answered Lee Seok-Woo.

“We’re all aware of the situation. We also know that this is the worst possible location as well. That is why, from this moment onwards, the NDF will take over the command of this operation. Any objections?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“I have my orders from the above, so I’ll have to abide by it. But, really now. Will this small number of people be enough?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Choi Jung-Hoon smiled refreshingly.

“I can assure you that, if these people here were not enough to contain this situation, then no one can. Even after you mobilise every single ability user in the country.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“With only five people?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Even if you say only five, surely you’ve heard about my famous Captain and her prowess?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“….The Insane Wit…. No, wait, uhm… the Flame Witch. Yeah, I heard of her. Of course.” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Just as Lee Seok-Woo committed that slip of tongue, he quickly took a glance at Seo Ah-Young’s direction. Fortunately, it seemed that she hadn’t caught on to what he said just now, as she was still clutching her stomach and frowning on the floor.

‘I almost died just now…’ (Lee Seok-Woo)

According to her infamy, the Insane Witch was fully capable of incinerating him because of a small mistake. No one would bat an eyelid, either.

“Over there, she is the country’s sole teleporter.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Oh, the one from the rumours, huh.” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Lee Seok-Woo slowly nodded his head.

But, weren’t teleporters known for their lack of combat abilities? Sure, they were useful in other matters, but still…

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“Okay, then what about him?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Lee Seok-Woo pointed at Yi Ji-Hyuk and asked. Incidentally, the youth was busy snapping selfies with his phone at the moment, with the ocean serving as the backdrop.

“…He’s the core fighting force.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“He is?! You mean, that weirdo is?!” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“….Indeed, yes.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

I’m sorry.

I am truly sorry, but the truth is, that wackjob is this country’s most powerful ability user. (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)

Choi Jung-Hoon lowered his head as this strange sense of shame came washing over him.

“Where’s the last one?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Around here, but there’s no need for her to appear just yet.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Lee Seok-Woo spat out another sigh.

Although this so-called combination seemed completely unworthy of his trust, he did receive the direct order from the brass that he should do his best to support the NDF. So, he’d carry it out regardless of his feelings on the matter.

“Okay, okay! Fine! What should we do next, then?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“It’s simple, actually. Cooperate with the Defcom and set as much barricades as humanly possible around the power station.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“That’s the basics. And?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Do not mind it even if you see monsters escaping through the other side of the blockade. You need to protect this station no matter the cost. I’m sure you understand the reason already. How far along are the evacuation of the civilians?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“You really think it’s possible to evacuate the entirety of Busan?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

“Of course not. I’m asking about the surrounding area.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Around the radius of 5 kilometres, but I wonder if that’s going to be enough…” (Lee Seok-Woo)

Choi Jung-Hoon nodded his head, and called for the others to gather around.

“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Yeah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Stop taking photos and please come here. You can take selfies of the ocean any time you want, anyway.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“You are a wet blanket, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Jeong Hae-Min saw this scene and suddenly got very angry.

“Hey, you! How can you take selfies of the ocean, when I’m right here?! Who knows? If you ask me nicely, I might let you take one with me!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Me take a selfie with you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“That’s right!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk chuckled derisively as if he heard something rather preposterous.

“Hah! If I wanted to take a selfie with a someone as small as a rat’s dropping, I may as well lie down flat on the ground, never mind crouching down! So, how are you planning to take a pic with both of us in the same frame?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Once more, the corners of Jeong Hae-Min’s eyes became moist real fast. And just as she was about burst out into another bout of wailing, Yi Ji-Hyuk shouted out first.

“You try to hit me with that sonic attack again, and I swear, I’m gonna throw you into the sea!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Shudder.

Since she had personally experienced being thrown to the other end of the office corridor already, Jeong Hae-Min promptly squeezed her mouth shut. She was well aware of the fact that this b*stard was crazy enough to do what he said he’d do.

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“I get it now that you don’t know who I am.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“What a relief that you finally figured it out. At a bare minimum, you’re smarter than an ape, that’s for sure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….But, if you knew who I really was, you wouldn’t be treating me like this.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Sure, sure. You’re indeed wise, your highness.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk somehow made Jeong Hae-Min surrender, then he turned his attention towards Seo Ah-Young while a deep frown formed on his face.

Why was she still retching like that? Seo Ah-Young continued to look like she was having a really hard time. She managed to raise her head and asked him.

“Aren’t you feeling bad, Mister Ji-Hyuk?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Feel bad? Like how?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You know, nausea, motion sickness, those things?” (Seo Ah-Young)

Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at her long and hard with a cocked eyebrow, before saying these observant words.

“Are you pregnant or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“What the?! Hey, you…. Euh, euhk! Blergh….” (Seo Ah-Young)

She was about to shout blue murder at his direction, but then, she resumed the retching motions once more.

“Tsk, tsk…”

Yi Ji-Hyuk clicked his tongue and shook his head.

If she was like this only with such a small scale teleportation, then in the case where she had to go through a long-range warp gate, she might end up lying flat on the floor upon arrival and hurling like a messy and smelly fountain.

Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his gaze back towards Jeong Hae-Min.

There was a big limitation imposed on her ability, in the form of the number of people she could teleport. But, the advantage was that the preparation itself was almost instantaneous compared to the warp gates. Although her power was neither here nor there, Yi Ji-Hyuk thought it was still useful to him regardless.

But, there was one more problem – she needed a ‘mark’. She could only teleport to an area near the place she’d been to before.

“When did you come to this place?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Why do you want to know? Maybe, you’ve finally realised how great my power is?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“No, not that. I was wondering if you came here to perform a concert for the station’s workers or something. If so, man, you really do get around, don’t you? All over the country, no less. I guess being a celeb isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…You, just what kinda human being are you?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Could he have entered a senior course in making biting remarks just to torment other people? How could he p*ss her off so thoroughly just by flapping his gums a few times?!

“Hae-Min-ah? You shouldn’t humour him.” (Seo Ah-Young)

“You, start calling me Hae-Min-unni, instead! You are an even bigger idiot!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Meanwhile, Choi Jung-Hoon was watching this spectacle from the side. He then began carefully dividing the pills still found within the bottle inside his jacket pocket.

‘Was this for the ulcer? Hmm…’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

If he keeled over from a hole in the stomach, then, would that be seen as the result from ‘workplace hazard’? Making up his mind to compile all the evidence regarding the stress-related illness he could find from today onwards, Choi Jung-Hoon swallowed the tablet and called the others to gather around him.

“There, there. Everyone, stop fooling around. Let’s get ready. Captain, please take care of the support from the rear. Miss Hae-Min, you…. don’t have anything particularly important to do, so please, be on standby over there. Well, we might need to evacuate in a hurry later, that’s why. Gah-Yun, please protect Miss Hae-Min in the meantime. And then…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon looked at Yi Ji-Hyuk and continued.

“Well, as for you, Mister Ji-Hyuk… You just do what you’ve been doing until now. And that’s it for…” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Yo, hold up!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk quickly reached out and snatched Choi Jung-Hoon’s arm.

“What’s the matter?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“What the hell is the meaning of this? Do I look like a damn pushover to you? You think you can scam me like this?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“?? What are you talking about?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Looky here! She’s supporting from the rear! She’s observing from the rear! And she’s protecting the so-called observer from the rear, too!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes gleamed brightly in anger.

“Then, what about me, huh?! You telling me to take care of everything by myself out in front?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…Well, that’s the team’s combination, so what can we do?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“What the?! Then, how can this agency be called the NDF? It’s more like ‘Yi Ji-Hyuk and the Kids’, instead!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Jeong Hae-Min’s face brightened all of a sudden.

“Idol?” (Jeong Hae-Min) (TL note at the end)

“Did this little girl lose her mind or something? Stop poking your head in the matters of adults, or else!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

When Jeong Hae-Min wordlessly crumpled to a corner in an apparent show of depression, even Choi Jung-Hoon couldn’t help but flinch in an unpleasant surprise.

‘What the hell? Has she gotten used to him already?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Could it be, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s real power was actually making a top idol accept all the unnecessary abuse thrown her way as an acceptable part of life now?

“Hah, as if!! I ain’t gonna do it!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, this arrangement is only because we don’t have our full quota of personnel yet. So, please, stop….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Argh, that’s none of my business. I’m gonna go complain to the labour department.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Please, look at the current situation! One wrong move from us, and the city of Busan would be lost in an instant! So, please, stop acting this way!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“How is that my fault? Did I open the Gate here? Why are you trying to lump me with all the responsibility? Whatever. I won’t take such unfair treatment lying down. I am going to form a labour union.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

‘There’s only five people, so who is going to form a dang labour union?!’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

If Choi Jung-Hoon started arguing with this youth, then there would literally be no end to it – but by now, he had figured out what was going on, so he approached Yi Ji-Hyuk and whispered silently to his ear.

“Three days.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Two.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Three days!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…Three.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head in agreement, and without saying another word, walked closer to the Gate.

Curious, Seo Ah-Young naturally asked what was going on.

“What’s this thing about three days?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“….Additional vacation days, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Seo Ah-Young’s eyes widened and she was about to shout out in anger, only to realise that there was no other method to persuade Yi Ji-Hyuk, and instead, she spat out a long groan.

“You know, this wasn’t the future I dreamed of….” (Seo Ah-Young)

“That’s why I told you we needed to think about this one more time!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Oh, really? When?” (Seo Ah-Young)

“Kkyah~. She’s not falling for it, huh.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon was caught red-handed while trying to scam her. Seo Ah-Young’s expression was complicated as she looked at him.

Was she mistaken when she thought this man was behaving more and more like Yi Ji-Hyuk with every passing day?

“Aren’t you guys taking it way too easy here?” (Lee Seok-Woo)

It was right then, Lee Seok-Woo couldn’t endure anymore and threw a biting warning at the group. It was understandable, this dissatisfaction of his. After all, he had no clue what kind of a being Yi Ji-Hyuk was, to begin with.

With a gentle smile, Choi Jung-Hoon calmly heard those words.

Of course, today’s event was one of the worst possible situation. However, they had Yi Ji-Hyuk on their side; what did they have to worry about? Hell, he was the kind of a being who’d instantly change the terrain before him if it displeased him in some way.

“It’s opening up!”

Finally, the Gate opened up, and a certain something slowly walked out from it.

The monster emerged from the Gate after a bit of struggle, raised both of its arms and began loudly howling out.

*SFX for a monster’s loud roar*

Seeing this, Choi Jung-Hoon lost strength in his legs and fell to the ground. Even the soldiers of the Defcom, as well as a small portion of the gathered ability users, quivered and writhed noticeably. This wasn’t because of the shockwave generated from the roar.

No, it was solely due to the pure, unbridled fear they felt after hearing that roar, which plunged them into a deep state of confusion and panic.

‘It’s an, an, an Ogre!’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon’s hands trembled like leaves caught in the stormy winds.

Its body was covered in reddish black fur; even with such a thick covering of fur, the monster’s massive, rippling muscles could easily be seen; its dangerously sharp fangs jutted out from its maw, and its narrow, bloodthirsty eyes stared at them; and most of all, its 6 metre-plus body!

Although there was that tinge of red mixed in its black fur, it was without a doubt, an Ogre. It was the apex monster that managed to completely destroy a country in Europe all by itself not too long ago!

Even if the Gate was designated Level 5, this was simply too much! How could a monster with enough destructive potential to level the entire nation of Korea appear here?

Choi Jung-Hoon desperately shifted his eyes over to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s direction, feeling both despair and hope pounding in his chest.

If Yi Ji-Hyuk wasn’t around, then no matter what happened to the power station, they had to retreat from this place ASAP!

But, they had him! If it was Yi Ji-Hyuk, then perhaps… Just maybe…

As if to live up to such a high expectation, Yi Ji-Hyuk walked closer to the monster, and shouted at it.

“Hey, you! Don’t we know each other?”

….What on Earth is he doing now?! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)

Choi Jung-Hoon thought bubbles were forming at the corners of his mouth.

 

< 59. It’s time to go home (4) > Fin.

 

(TL: There’s a pun at work here, but obviously, it’s in Korean, and so, it’s lost in translation. “Kids” in Korean sounds very close to “idol”, so Jeong Hae-Min thought the MC was saying – in Korean – Yi Ji-Hyuk and the Idol. Hence her bright reaction and the subsequent depression…)

- my thoughts:
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