Currently, in the Ministry of National Defense.
“Where are we now, situation-wise?” (the minister of defense)
“We’ve mobilised every single man we can, sir.”
“What about reinforcement from our allies?” (the minister)
“Japan, China and Russia have said that they can’t spare any men due to their own urgent situations.”
“How is it possible that they can’t even spare a single man?!” (the minister)
The voice of the Minister of National Defense got sharper by a degree.
It was not that they couldn’t spare anyone. They simply didn’t want to lend any aid. If they were serious about helping out in the first place, then they wouldn’t have let the situation deteriorate to this point.
“What about the US?” (the minister)
“As you may well know, it’s even worse over there, sir. The X1 is busy destroying New York as we speak.”
“How does them declaring a national emergency even make sense? It’s just one Gate in that big-a*s country of theirs!! You can only commit so many men to a single Gate, yet to say that they have deployed every single one?! Really?” (the minister)
The Minister, Seo Choong-Sik, slammed his fist down on the desk and angrily spat out.
“Okay, fine! Did the KSF say they will be able to stop the monsters?” (the minister)
“They said they’ll do their best….”
“Only the results matter! Only the results!!” (the minister)
Seo Choong-Sik stood up from his chair in a huff and stalked towards the window.
‘Damn it.’ (the minister)
The ten-odd Level 5 Gates appearing simultaneously at various parts of the country was tantamount to announcing the annihilation of the Republic of Korea to the world.
“Do they think it’ll end with our destruction? Really now?” (the minister)
If one thought about where the monsters would head off to next after destroying Korea, then it was only logical that the neighbouring nations would offer to lend their aid. But, they used the excuse of the Gates opening up in their own territories and refused to help whatsoever.
They were probably thinking of only lending some assistance when the country was already destroyed to certain degree. Because, by then, Korea would no longer be able to stand on its own two feet as a nation anymore.
No, if their timing was off even for a day, never mind standing up, the country itself would cease to exist altogether!
“Even though we’re in such a precarious position….!” (the minister)
Seo Choong-Sik’s glare landed on several documents lying pretty on top of his desk.
Those papers detailed the rush of escapees leaving the country after the Gates made their appearance. Those with wealth and power chose to abandon their homes and were leaving in droves, in other words.
Even Seo Choong-Sik understood their reasoning – their lives were at stake here, so who really cared about patriotism and all that? Only by surviving, you’d be able to carry on harping about your country and whatnot.
However, the very first ones to leave just so happened to be the ones receiving the greatest amount of the society’s benefits – the ruling class. This fact alone caused a bitter resentment to sour Seo Choong-Sik’s already foul mood even further.
Those who had sucked out the most from their nation were abandoning it first. And the ones stepping up to protect the nation were those who have been largely left neglected by it, instead.
Seo Choong-Sik picked his phone up and called the KSF.
Under the pretext of protecting this wonderful nation and her citizens, he had to ask for their sacrifices once more; to protect the land abandoned by those who deserved to be sacrificed, instead.
‘This is all wrong.’ (the minister)
With a depressed pair of eyes, Seo Ah-Young studied the Gate in front of her.
Seeing that huge size, one big enough to swallow whole an adult elephant, she couldn’t help but get a little spooked by it.
She had seen enough Gates in her lifetime already, yet for some reason, this one seemed especially sinister.
Just when will this Gate open up?
And in the future, how much bigger would the Gates become?
And what kind of monsters would emerge from them?
Seo Ah-Young used her phone to make a quick call.
“How are your preparations?” (Seo Ah-Young)
– “The combatants have been distributed equally to all the Gates.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What about Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Seo Ah-Young)
– “He has completed the trial run and is on standby.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“He’s surprisingly willing to play ball today, isn’t he?” (Seo Ah-Young)
– “I’ve ensured that there would be a reason for him to do so.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon was currently situated in the underground command centre of the NDF’s HQ. He distanced the phone’s receiver from his face, and formed a bitter smile.
Yi Ji-Hyuk was the type of a guy who’d never even lift a finger if he didn’t feel like it, no matter what was being said. From his perspective, it was far more convenient to simply leave the country with his family in tow.
So, Choi Jung-Hoon could only feel grateful for Yi Ji-Hyuk pretending to have fallen for his words.
– “But, he isn’t that kind of a person, though….” (Seo Ah-Young)
“He actually cares a lot, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Or, he had lost a lot already and didn’t want to lose anymore.
Choi Jung-Hoon recalled a few things about Yi Ji-Hyuk, then.
His actions made no sense whatsoever; his movements seemed to lack consistency.
And he led this strangely antinomic way of life, the one where it looked like he would not get hung up over anything, yet he never let go of even the most tiniest little thing he had come to possess.
‘Just what did he experience within those five years, I wonder?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
In order to completely analyse the subject named Yi Ji-Hyuk, it was necessary to find out what happened during those missing five years. But those years were shrouded in the veil of mystery too thick to pull back.
‘But, that Ogre is the key.’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
They definitely knew each other. What did that mean, when a creature crossing over from another dimension knew Yi Ji-Hyuk?
Choi Jung-Hoon shook his head. Now wasn’t the right time to think about this matter.
– “In any case, he needs to be dispatched with utmost efficiency. If we get it wrong by even a second, we will end up dealing with a catastrophe, instead.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“We’ll do our best.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “I believe in you.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s expression was heavy as he placed the receiver on the phone.
If they had just a bit more time, it would have been so much better.
If this event unfolded with the NDF fully established and in operation, then a far greater variation of tactical options would’ve been available for them to fall back on.
“Those accursed higher-ups.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
This was why Choi Jung-Hoon and Co. had repeatedly emphasized the necessity of establishing this organisation. What a relief, then, to have at least this much of preparation ready in place.
Choi Jung-Hoon picked the phone up again and made a call.
“Miss Jeong Hae-Min?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Yes, I’m ready to go.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Please, you need to move as precisely as possible when you receive the signal.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Yes, I know, so don’t wor…. Hey! I told you to address me as Noona!! Hey!!! Where do you think you’re touching right now?! Just take my hand, my hand! Stopppp iiitttt!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“….Uhm, Miss Jeong Hae-Min?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Oh! Uh, yes! Don’t you worry about a thing! I’ll take care of…. I told you to stop!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Choi Jung-Hoon could hear the faint sounds of sobbing coming from the other side of the line.
Choi Jung-Hoon suddenly clutched his chest. His heart…. it didn’t feel so good at this moment for some reason.
To think, he had entrusted the future of this country to these sorts of people….
He felt this urgent desire to get up and run away from here.
“Uhm…. About Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, could you let me….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “….Sure.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
He heard the sound of arguing next, then he got to listen to that distinctive voice full of dissatisfaction once more.
– “Yes, hello. What now, mister?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Hah…. how polite he can be sometimes.
At least he said hello…. (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk? I will reiterate this. The success of this mission solely depends on you. You need to get rid of the emerging monsters as quickly and efficiently as possible.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “We don’t even know what’s going to pop out, so why are you asking me for something out of my control?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….That’s why I’m begging you here. Please.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
– “Talking is cheap, you know. It’s too cheap!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m hanging up now.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon ended the call, and spat out a long, long sigh.
At least, he didn’t say anything about quitting or something similar to that. What a difficult man to get a bead on, that Yi Ji-Hyuk.
With his expression completely crumpled, Yi Ji-Hyuk ended the call and handed the phone over.
“I’ve no idea why I’m even doing this.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Do what?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“A shorty like you doesn’t have to know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I told you to stop calling me a shorty!! You, you! Have you even thought about what my fans would say when they found out you treating me like this?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“I’m sure they would go, ‘oh, she is a shorty’.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When tears began forming in Jeong Hae-Min’s eyes, Yi Ji-Hyuk felt his chest tighten, and so, he spoke to her in a voice containing a bit of regret.
“If you start crying again, you better remember that I’m gonna throw you off from this rooftop, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
*SFX for a sudden halt to the proceedings*
“There you go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Currently, Yi Ji-Hyuk and Jeong Hae-Min were on standby at the NDF HQ’s rooftop teleport zone.
Their plan to deal with the Gates opening up throughout the country, was to have Choi Jung-Hoon figure out which Gate opened up first, and which one presented the higher degree of danger, and then give the waiting duo the call to teleport to the location.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes were full of dissatisfaction as he stared at Jeong Hae-Min.
At first glance, this plan sounded like it might work. In reality, though… if you excluded Jeong Hae-Min’s teleportation ability, she was no more than a freeloader here. Sure, she was indeed a bit tougher than a regular human being, but she would absolutely be of no help during the actual combat situation.
In other words, he had to roam about in the middle of the various monster hordes while being saddled with a baggage. So, how could this be called a plan in the first place….?
“Ha-ah. Should I just give up and go home?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
There was only one reason why Yi Ji-Hyuk hadn’t decided to abandon ship and leave.
If he left now, then these monsters would destroy Korea, and then move onto the mainland. Then, the current equilibrium would be broken in an instant. The monsters being summoned afterwards would not be subjugated in time, and their numbers would continue to grow ever larger and larger.
If that happened, then this world would be a goner for sure.
The monsters that kept on entering this world would not stop until the last of humanity had been extinguished. That’s how it was like back in Berafe, too.
You see, the balance would always start tilting by the littlest of things.
For Yi Ji-Hyuk, who had witnessed the tilting of the balance way too many times already, moving to other countries didn’t offer any long term safety. If he looked at things globally, then this place right here was the true last line of defense that had to be won no matter the cost.
“But, why does it have to be me doing all the hard work?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
All those useless weaklings!!
Wasn’t this because the ability users were so darn weak and couldn’t even take care of one single measly monster?!
At this rate, rather than a horde of high-ranking monsters, one high ranking demon or a dragon crossing over would spell the end of this planet’s civilisation.
Yup, humanity wouldn’t even be able to mount a decent counterattack before they get thoroughly blown away.
“This won’t do.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If Yi Ji-Hyuk wanted to maintain the “free” lifestyle of his, then he needed to come up with a plan of his own. There was no way he’d be able to dance, sing, and play drums all at the same time.
If this was Berafe, sure, he’d be able to do that. But the truth was, even back then, without his demon army supporting him, his scope of activity would have been halved in scale.
So, in this world, not only did he need to regain some of his lost strength, he needed to find something to replace his demon army as well.
‘Because…. something doesn’t feel right here.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The Ogre – even back in Berafe, it was considered as one of the top monsters. If you didn’t count those creatures that were few and far in between – such as Behemoths – then, when considering the actual combat power or the sheer size of the population, you could easily call the Ogres the king of all land-bound monsters.
And such a monster had crossed over.
Meaning, something even stronger could cross over at any time now.
When he witnessed Goblins popping out from the first Gate he’d been to, he thought it was all a bit of joke and nothing to fret over. But, even he had accept that the situation had become more complicated now.
Initially, he figured that there was no connection to Berafe due to all the minute differences found in the monsters crossing over, but with the appearance of Oh-Sik, he had to greatly change his assessment.
He now believed that one of the dimensions trying to invade this world was Berafe.
Now, he only had to solve the remaining puzzle of why these monsters were targeting this planet, but….
“Groan~. I can’t figure it out.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It wasn’t because of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s presence. He was dead certain of this. Well, the monster invasion began well before he returned to this world, after all.
There was a very high possibility that Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t cause the invasion, but he was unlucky and ended up getting swept away in all the craziness, instead.
Why? Because, the date of him crossing over to Berafe, and the start of the invasion, just happened to match. That’s why.
“In any case, that’s not important now, is it? (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes began to shine in a dangerous light.
“I can’t hand my home over to some other b*stards, now can I?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What are you mumbling about to yourself over there?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Argh, should I just hit her once or something? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
While Yi Ji-Hyuk was seriously contemplating whether to really put into practice the ideals of gender equality, Jeong Hae-Min was worrying about something else.
‘Can I really trust him?’ (Jeong Hae-Min)
Other users were ordered to stop monsters coming out of their assigned Gates. Only a handful of people knew the detail of their plan.
‘….A guy like him? Can I?’ (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min was very flustered when she was told of what the plan entailed.
You see, she only got to see Yi Ji-Hyuk beat up an Ogre, and chuck some people into the ocean. That was it.
Sure, him beating up an Ogre should be all the proof she needed, but it was such a bizarre spectacle, it just didn’t register as reality to her.
To make the matters worse, he had a disagreeable personality, which made her question this decision even more.
As she continued to stare at Yi Ji-Hyuk with eyes full of suspicion, her phone came to life and a sharp beeping alarm went off.
The specially-designed phone switched over the operations mode, and then, a hurried voice exploded out from it.
– “It’s the K4!! I repeat!! K4!! Teleport, immediately!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
With a disinterested face, Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out to Jeong Hae-Min. She grabbed his hand and then, they both went poof!
< 67. Stop trying to sell snake oil and let’s get started already -2 > Fin.