“Oww yeah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at the clear blue sky above, and slowly let out a sigh of admiration.
“Now, this is what I’m talking about.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
While soaking up the warm rays of sun falling onto his body, Yi Ji-Hyuk moved a little on top of the deck chair and lifted up the fruit juice sitting on top of the picnic table next to him. He took a long sip with a straw.
When his warmed-up body met the cold, sweet liquid sliding down his throat, he got to experience this unbelievably refreshing feeling.
“Now this is… what you’d call ‘healing’, that’s for sure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The blazing sun right above him, and in front, the endlessly blue ocean seemingly stretching beyond the horizon.
Now he finally understood why other people bothered to go on a holiday to a tropical paradise. This kind of break had a totally different flavour from a break full of video games and webnovels.
His phone buzzed into life as he lay there, relaxing. As expected of a specially-issued smartphone from the KSF. He didn’t even set it to “roam”, yet he could still receive calls this far away!
Yi Ji-Hyuk checked the caller and answered the phone.
“Hi, mom.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Son… What are you doing right now?” (mom)
“Oh? I’m having a sunbath right now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “In this weather?” (mom)
“What do you mean, this weather? It’s really sunny here, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Just where in the world are you for you to say it’s sunny and all that? Wait, are you in your office? Sounds like you’re outdoors?” (mom)
“Oh. Uh, you wanna know where this is?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his head around to ask.
“Hey, you. Where did you say this place was?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A woman with a small stature was behind him, but she couldn’t answer his queries as she was currently lying face down in the sand.
“You dead?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Not that he cared, though….
“Mom? I think this is supposedly near the equator or something. Anyways, it’s the middle of Summer here. I’m even wearing swimming trunks right now, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “It’s not cool to joke around with your mother like that, son.” (mom)
“But, I wasn’t joking, though….?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “It’s only been a couple of hours since you left for work.” (mom)
“But, I’ve got a useful shuttle, you know. Wait, since she’s dead, I should say that I used to have.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….I’m…. not…. dead, yet….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Hearing that garbled mumble coming from the fallen body of the short woman, Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly nodded his head.
“No, hang on. Mom, my shuttle’s still alive.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “I just don’t get what you’re on about sometimes.” (mom)
Through the receiver, he could hear her clicking her tongue.
Yi Ji-Hyuk chuckled to himself and got ready to end the call.
“In any case, I’m fine. I’ll be back by evening so see you later, mom.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Okay, then. Oh, and don’t cause an incident, okay!” (mom)
“Roger that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk ended the call and lightly tossed the phone on the picnic table.
“Ahh, to get to enjoy the blessings of Summer in the middle of Winter…. This is why people work their butts off to make enough money so they can go on a proper vacation.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If one were to get technical, he could have done the same thing back when he was in Berafe. But maybe because his thought process was different back then? The thoughts of spending a nice, relaxing holiday at a location with good weather had never crossed his mind, not even once.
Hell, he could move with a thought back then, so it was even more convenient for him in Berafe.
However, was it because he didn’t have the necessary free time to begin with? What a funny notion that was – an immortal not having enough free time for a holiday. But then again, he really couldn’t find enough time to enjoy a relaxing vacation during his stay in Berafe.
Compared to those times, this sure was a paradise….
‘However, something just feels a wee bit off here, doesn’t it?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He thought that, after attaining his ardent wishes of returning to this world as well as living this kind of life, he’d be filled with a sense of accomplishment and happiness. Instead, an unexplainable sense of emptiness ruled over his emotions nowadays.
His current big headache was that he couldn’t figure out the cause of this empty feeling.
“Anyways. Vacations are the best, aren’t they?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You, you son of a….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cut her off and shook his head.
“Nonono. An idol like you shouldn’t use naughty languages like that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The fastest way to a front-page scandal, that. What would she do, if an enterprising paparazzi was waiting in the wings, and took a snapshot at the wrong moment? What would she do then, when the story made it all the way to the tabloids?
Yi Ji-Hyuk grandly stretched his limbs out, and got up from the deck chair. He then shifted his gaze towards the peaceful emerald-hued ocean.
Without a doubt, this beautiful sandy beach with abundant sunlight blazing down on it was…..
“No!! Noooo!! No more!!!”
….It was like hell on earth at this moment.
Yi Ji-Hyuk clapped his hands, apparently impressed by Kim Dah-Hyun flying so high in the air after getting kicked by Oh-Sik.
He landed in the ocean, and as if a cannonball fell there instead, the fountain of water spectacularly exploded upwards.
However, that was better than the other alternative; if he had landed on solid ground instead, it wouldn’t have ended with just a couple of broken bones and stuff, so this was definitely for the better.
Well, Yi Ji-Hyuk could blame Oh-Sik and his kind heart for that. He could. After all, the Ogre was making sure to kick his targets into the ocean.
Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out towards the pack of smokes resting on the picnic table, pulled one out and lit it up.
“….It’s so peaceful here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He thought that he heard something funny in the distant passing winds, but decided to ignore it.
Oh, you’re wondering what the heck happened here?
Okay, so the thing is, this is how all it began….
Back in the NDF’s offices, a few hours ago….
“It’s no good?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head.
“Nope. No good.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, isn’t there enough open space at this location?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“No, it’s too… small, for ability users to cut loose.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If he were honest, it was too small for Oh-Sik and the monsters under his control to cut loose, but he wouldn’t mention that, at least not for now.
“Then, what else can we do? We won’t be able to book a place larger than this one.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“It’s not strictly necessary to find a local place, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Excuse me?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“It’ll be fine as long as there are no civilians around. I don’t care if it’s the North or the South Pole, ditto for the middle of the Sahara desert. If all else fails, can’t we just rent out an uninhabited island or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“And just how were you planning on getting there in the first place?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around to look at Jeong Hae-Min.
“Hey, you went overseas and whatnots to shoot commercials, didn’t you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mm? Oh. Yeah, I did, but where’s my honorifics still?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
….If I had a child back when I arrived in Berafe, my 100th descendants would’ve been way older than you, shorty. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Out of consideration, Yi Ji-Hyuk decided not to advertise this fact. Well, soon enough, she’d get to inscribe the truth deeply into her bones and her soul, so why should he bother flapping his gums now?
“You left teleportation markings there, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Next, Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his gaze over to Choi Jung-Hoon.
“Please find a location that’s close to the marked coordinate, with little to no civilians nearby. And also, it should be on flat, even terrain, too. Larger the better.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I understand.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon had a quick chat with Jeong Hae-Min and then, made arrangements for the suitable island right away.
“We found it.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Hmm. This one here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at the screen of Choi Jung-Hoon’s phone.
“It’s an island pretty close to Miss Hae-Min’s marking. It’s not too far distance-wise, and there are only a few uninhabited islands in the vicinity. We’ve also received the permission from the local government as well.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Hul. That was way too fast!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk knew this guy had some mad skills, but really now, wasn’t this faster than proverbial lightning?
“I thought that something like this might happen, so I did a little research beforehand.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Wow. Take a look at how scary capable this guy is.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head in a show of deep admiration at Choi Jung-Hoon’s capabilities.
“Alright. Let’s go with this place.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I understand. I’ll make the necessary arrangements so we can move immediately.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Thanks.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The ‘Iron’ Park Sung-Chan was sitting nearby while listening to the duo’s exchange, before he shifted his worried gaze over to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s direction.
“Hey, man. So, like, I’m kinda curious….” (Park Sung-Chan)
“Yes?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Just what’s going on here?” (Park Sung-Chan)
“? Haven’t you heard the details yet?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at Seo Ah-Young and asked her with his eyes. She simply shrugged her shoulders in reply.
“Well, it’s not like anything would change by knowing, right?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Was she trying to imply that ignorance was bliss or something?
At this rate, she might get stabbed in the back before long, no?
She’s already beyond help, isn’t she?
However…. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“You are right about that, there.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
There’s no way anyone can back out of this now.
When Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked out of the blue, expressions of confusion clouded the faces of the gathered ability users, and eventually, they also ended up smiling in a rather awkward manner as well.
“Wow, that’s a nice angle.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk whistled as he watched yet another user get launched into the air.
People weren’t pieces of loose paper, so watching them fly around like that sure made one question reality, but there was this undeniable… charm about such a sight that made him feel refreshed as heck.
Maybe that was because this was Yi Ji-Hyuk, but still….
The now-full sized Oh-Sik launched his latest victim into the air and turned his head around, only to meet Yi Ji-Hyuk’s gaze. He then quickly stuck his tongue and began panting like a good dog.
He looked like he was waiting to be praised or some such. Seeing this, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips formed a content smile as he spoke to the Ogre.
“Hey, stop looking at me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Seriously, now. You’re so ugly! When you’re small, you’re so cute and stuff, but man…. It’s like I’m looking at Chang-Sik, and that creeps me the hell out.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If you compared Chang-Sik to a bloody Ogre and say that you feel creeped out, then what does that make Chang-Sik?! (the author’s inner monologue)
….Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at the beach and yawned out.
Not just Oh-Sik, but those four monsters he managed to enslave were here as well. And they were in the midst of busy beating the seven shades out of the ability users right now under his strict orders. He also told them not to cause serious damage, of course.
Seeing yet another ability user get launched into the sea, Yi Ji-Hyuk whistled again.
“You should’ve worn something more appropriate….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
That flying ability user was none other than the ‘Iron’ Park Sung-Chan, currently kitted out in a triangular wedge of a speedo with a seriously high exposure rate, his body glistening like a well-oiled bronze statue.
Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t understand that man’s mindset, bringing something so impractical like that to this trip which was meant to be their ‘training’.
“Whatever. Not one ability user I’ve met so far is right in the head. Seriously.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It might have been difficult to prove using scientific deduction, but by looking at things in a logical, calm manner, there was just no bloody way he was wrong about this!
Really now. How hard could it be to find one normal ability user?
“Actually, you… don’t have the right….”
“Mm?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around to find Choi Jung-Hoon standing awkwardly behind him with a cup of iced coffee in one hand.
“Here, your iced Americano.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Oh, thanks a bunch!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sucked the coffee in with a straw and let off a satisfied cry.
“Just the right amount of bitterness. You’re a pro at this.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m qualified as a barista, actually.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“It’s like there’s literally nothing you can’t do.”
There was a hurriedly-put together tent behind Choi Jung-Hoon. Although it looked shabby, one could see several cutting edge modern machinery at work inside.
It was then, both men could hear the loud noise of someone gnashing their teeth.
Jeong Hae-Min raised her sand-and-mud covered face off the ground and glared at Choi Jung-Hoon.
That rotten son of a….!!
Making me teleport that stupid coffee machine!! (Jeong Hae-Min’s inner monologue)
Sensing her gaze laced thickly with killing intent trying to burn a hole in his head, Choi Jung-Hoon cautiously turned around away from her and decided to ignore it for the time being.
Well, Yi Ji-Hyuk told him to pack it up, so what was he supposed to do?
Come on now, even I had no idea things would turn out this way! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s helpless inner monologue)
For the other ability users, they were thrust into combat training almost immediately, ostensibly to get ‘stronger’. But, as Jeong Hae-Min was a teleporter, it was argued that moving stuff around lots of times would be better for her training, instead. Yi Ji-Hyuk then made her haul every little crap he could lay his hands on.
So, she should be glaring at Yi Ji-Hyuk instead, and no one else!
Choi Jung-Hoon continued to ignore her intense glare and asked Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Will this type of training really help?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
They could see Kim Dah-Hyun, after getting slapped by Oh-Sik, bounce away on the sandy surface like a bouncing ball.
“I’m sure it will.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Aren’t they going to get hurt pretty badly at this rate?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I told the kids to take easy, so it should be fine.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Take it easy? You mean, that is taking it easy?!
You think a person being blown away 100 metres is ‘taking it easy’?! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“Uhm, I don’t think that qualifies as ‘taking easy’….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk giggled as he sucked the iced coffee through a straw.
“Actually, getting hit by these monsters even once would be the same as getting on the express train to meet King Yama. But, since none has departed yet, well, that should be considered as ‘taking easy’.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Huh. That kinda sounds plausible, doesn’t it?
No, no, no!! That’s not it!
What about afterwards, man? The hidden injuries, the aftereffects, the trauma and all of that?! (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“But, but, what will you do, if they can’t even get back to how they were like before?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Ahjussi, you can be such a worryguts sometimes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Not ahjussi, it’s Vice Captain, or hyung, or even Mister Choi Jung-Hoon to you….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Out of all the various titles he could’ve used, why did it have to be ‘ahjussi’? Choi Jung-Hoon wasn’t even married yet!
“Mm? Did you say something, ahjussi?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“………….Not really.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Ahjussi…. Huh, an ahjussi, is it?
Now that I think about, it’s not really an incorrect description, is it?
I mean, I’ll die of old age, all alone, if I continue working in this place…. (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Somewhat salty liquids began pooling at the edges of Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes.
“Honestly speaking, do you really believe that these guys are showing their true potential right now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“More and more monsters like Ogres will no doubt show up in the future. Even a blind man can see that’s going to happen. But these people can’t even deal with one Oh-Sik while the boy’s taking it easy. So, how will they even cope when things go sideways in the future?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s words were on the mark. Choi Jung-Hoon hadn’t been able to voice them, but the youth was able to properly express the anxiety growing deep within the NDF agent’s heart for some time.
What would’ve happened if they didn’t have Yi Ji-Hyuk? Wouldn’t the nation of Korea been wiped off the face of the planet already?
“But, that last incident was an abnormal and unprecedented event since Black Monday. There is no guarantee that we will ever encounter more of such events….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Nope.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk decisively cut Choi Jung-Hoon off.
“We will. Definitely.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Hearing the certainty in the youth’s voice, a new question floated up to Choi Jung-Hoon’s mind.
‘Does he know something to base that assumption on?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk stood up from his spot.
“What a bother…. But, I do this now and make a man out of them here, then my life will definitely get easier in the future.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cracked his neck muscles quite violently, dusted his hands, and then, took a step forward.
It was all good and well to form an army made up of monsters and the like. But he knew better than anyone that there was a clear limit to using monsters to do his biddings, what with their low intelligence and all.
Besides, he wasn’t planning to turn all of humanity against him, like he had done back in Berafe. So, there was a need to make sure he’d set an acceptable balance, an equilibrium of sorts, here.
The day of him fighting the entire world would happen again without a doubt if he stuck to his old habits of forming an army of monsters and wreaking havoc wherever he went.
You see, humans were the kind of animals that either worshipped or hated existences that were greater than them. And, in any case, neither worship nor hate would have good endings attached to them.
So, in other words….
“I better make sure those half-wits function properly like human beings.”
I’m sure it’s going to be tough.
Mm? What, tough for me?
Of course not. I meant, it’ll get tough for them…..
< 73. We’d like to scout you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk (3) > Fin.