The “Spitfire” Yun Hyuk-Gyu was one of the more famous Korean ability users who had awakened his powers during the Black Monday incident. Even if you only possessed a passing interest in things related to ability users, you’d definitely heard of Spitfire’s name.
As a matter of fact, although he wasn’t as famous as the Flame Witch among the general populace, the countless experts in the field actually rated him higher than her as far as the overall combat abilities were concerned.
And a man like that was sweating a bucket load right at this moment.
Yes, he couldn’t be called the Korea’s top user, but he could proudly proclaim with a straight face that he was one of the very best in the nation. However, he was shuddering like a newborn puppy in front of a single man. A man, not a monster!
‘What is this?’ (Yun Hyuk-Gyu)
It wasn’t as if he had stepped forward without a plan.
He knew well that Yi Ji-Hyuk was a powerful individual. Plus, Spitfire was definitely no dummy who were blind like a bat; he knew he should never take strength as potent as that lightly, or else.
Still, there was a reason why he decided to step forward.
First of all, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s close quarter combat skills weren’t confirmed. Even if a hunter was capable of catching a lion all by himself, that didn’t automatically mean he’d be able to win at a fistfight.
The difference between fighting humans and fighting monsters were as stark as different sports, for instance. Even if you showed a frightening level of talent on the latter subject, there was no guarantee you’d be good with the former.
Also, Spitfire’s hand to hand combat skill was second to none among the users working for the NDF.
Seo Ah-Young might possess better abilities to deal with monster hordes, but if she and Spitfire were to have a go at each other, then he was fully confident of subduing her after a short tussle.
According to his evaluation, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s fighting style was similar to Seo Ah-Young’s – the long-range type that poured overwhelming attacks from afar. So, within this short distance, the advantage should be with him, the famed Spitfire.
‘Why am I trembling like this?’ (Yun Hyuk-Gyu)
Was it because his instincts already knew how strong his opponent was? But, that couldn’t be the reason.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t know how powerful Yi Ji-Hyuk was – so, he shouldn’t be feeling such emotions and reacting like this. More importantly, he was fine when he issued the challenge just now.
No, his body started going out of his conscious control, only after Yi Ji-Hyuk’s unreadable glare landed on him. The youth didn’t even say anything threatening to Spitfire, either.
Hell, Yi Ji-Hyuk wasn’t even emitting any sort of discernible fighting spirit nor some kind of killing intent; he showed none of these extreme reactions. His glare didn’t even contain any particularly strong emotions, too.
He was simply staring at Spitfire with one eyebrow slightly cocked up, his expression busy implying that he found this whole thing rather bothersome. In other words, his actions seemed to amount to nothing much, never mind his stare.
Not long had passed, but that once-familiar look of the man Yun Hyuk-Gyu had grown accustomed to for the past few days had suddenly imparted a different sense of threat and was pressuring him like there was no tomorrow.
Yun Hyuk-Gyu bit his lower lip, sharp enough to draw blood.
“Ho-oh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seeing this, Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly smirked. This Spitfire guy might be more useful than his initial estimation had suggested.
If that guy instinctively started fearing Yi Ji-Hyuk, then that was a good sign – because, that meant he could sense the hidden strength that couldn’t be seen on the surface.
Just as Yi Ji-Hyuk’s thought process shifted slightly, he found it also rather interesting to see the Spitfire’s rapid change in his mental state. Not many people possessed the ability to catch onto your opponent’s slight and almost unnoticeable shift in momentum, after all.
That was the extent of it, though.
Whether a dog was good at hunting or not, in front of a lion, it was still just a little dog in the end. Getting bitten down in the neck would mean its inevitable death no matter what, anyways.
Yi Ji-Hyuk quietly stared at Yun Hyuk-Gyu for a while longer, before spitting out a yawn.
“Didn’t you say I should prove it to you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked derisively and took a step closer to Yun Hyuk-Gyu.
He’s coming closer?
A certain amount of confusion mixed into Yun Hyuk-Gyu’s hardened expression.
Why was he walking in closer? Considering his battle style, shouldn’t he take a step back, instead? Was it because he was confident of victory against a lone opponent?
Even before Yun Hyuk-Gyu could calm his tumultuous mind, Yi Ji-Hyuk was already standing in front of him before he could do anything.
Yi Ji-Hyuk then placed his head right next to Yun Hyuk-Gyu’s and whispered in a low, low voice.
“You should at least try to wiggle around, no?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
After being treated as nothing more than a worm, the incensed Yun Hyuk-Gyu raised his hands almost out of reflex, and placed them on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s chest.
*SFX for flames erupting rapidly*
The Flame Ray!
The way Spitfire controlled flames was very different from the Flame Witch. The cannonballs of scorching flames spat out from the Spitfire’s hands.
The flame balls flew quickly and collided with the ocean’s surface, causing a spectacular explosion of water. Meanwhile, Spitfire was busy searching for Yi Ji-Hyuk who had seemingly vanished from his vision just now.
“Where are you?!” (Spitfire)
“Huh. Busy asking me the obvious.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
After hearing that voice coming from his rear, Spitfire didn’t even take a look and simply jumped towards his back. He had no idea what Yi Ji-Hyuk might be preparing behind him but, widening the distance while hoping to avoid whatever it could be was tantamount to committing suicide – that was Spitfire’s thoughts. As soon as the distance between him and Yi Ji-Hyuk widened, there would be no way to counter the latter’s attacks.
“What an idiot.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Unfortunately for him, that was a severe miscalculation.
*SFX for something – most likely bones – breaking*
The Spitfire’s mouth shot wide open as a horrifying pain shot out from his back.
Not even a moan leaked out from that wide open mouth, all thanks to the unbelievable amount of pain wrecking his innards. And soon enough, his blurring sight caught the sandy beach beneath his feet.
The Spitfire fell face first into the sand, and his body began convulsing crazily. Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head in disappointment while looking down on that sorry sight.
Well, being a weakling couldn’t be helped for now, but the issue of mental resistance against pain was something one was born with. If this guy rolled around on the floor after getting hit just once, how the hell was he going to survive a real battlefield?
After all, on a real battlefield, you had to simply swing your swords, spears, and whatever, even if you lost your arms, and legs were ripped out or chopped off.
“Tsk, tsk.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk nonchalantly walked closer to Yun Hyuk-Gyu who was still spasming on the floor, and squatted down near the man’s head.
“Hey, dude. I haven’t finished proving myself yet.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It seemed that Yun Hyuk-Gyu couldn’t hear him at the moment.
“Hmm. What should I do now? I haven’t proven myself properly yet….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk raised his head and shifted his gaze towards the direction of Seo Ah-Young and her pals. When they met his gaze, all of them flinched and took a hasty step back.
“So, what should we do?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….About what?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Well, he told me to prove how strong I was. But, I haven’t even started yet and this guy is already out for the count. So, that makes it a bit more troubling to prove myself…. Isn’t there anyone among you guys who’d like to help me with this dilemma?”
What a roundabout and beating-the-bush kind of way to ask someone, hey, you want a piece of me too?
“We, we’re fine right here, thanks very much.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head slightly.
“Really now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Y, yes. Of course.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Everyone unconsciously nodded their heads in sync.
Yi Ji-Hyuk licked his lips in slight regret before noticing that Yun Hyuk-Gyu had stopped spasming. He grabbed the still-fallen ability user and asked.
“Mister Choi Jung-Hoon?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Why don’t we have those types of ability users? You know, those who can cure others.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Are you talking about the healer class? There are those who possess such abilities, but they are incredibly rare, unfortunately. Less than a single user per nation, actually. Regrettably, there are none capable of this ability within the nation of Korea.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Where can I find one, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You said there’s no one in Korea, so where can I find one?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The nearest users are residing in China and Japan.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Japan, eh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pulled out his phone. And then, after grabbing Yun Hyuk-Gyu’s defenseless head, he asked with the most innocent and pure smile anyone could imagine.
“You don’t have any ill feelings towards Japan, I hope?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’d do well to throw away those feelings you’ve been carrying around until now. You see, from here onwards, you will only feel one of the two emotions – either you’ll hate so much, you’ll try to kill the other party, or you’ll try to repay the kindness with every fibre of your being.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Undisguised terror rapidly crept up on Yun Hyuk-Gyu’s eyes.
“Ohh? You can finally speak?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk slammed Yun Hyuk-Gyu’s face hard into the sand below.
“Since you asked me to prove myself, prove I shall. To you, obviously. Wanna blame someone, blame your friends, instead. Not one of those guys want to help me prove myself, instead of you, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The hand grabbing onto Yun Hyuk-Gyu’s head began gaining strength as it pushed down.
“What did you say?”
Somewhere in Japan, inside a certain office….
Japan’s sole healer, Kitamura Ren, couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.
“Lending support? To Koreans?” (Kitamura Ren)
“And why should I go to Korea and help them out now, sir?” (Kitamura Ren)
“To be more specific, you will be going to a location where the Korean ability users are, in order to lend aid there.”
“….I’d like to know why I need to do this.” (Kitamura Ren)
“How should I put this…. Hmm, it’s for our national interests.”
For the national interests…. For his nation….
Kitamura Ren frowned deeply after hearing the words ‘national interests’. It seemed that his superior officer wasn’t going to tell him any more than this.
“In other words, my opinions in the subject matter are considered unimportant, sir?” (Kitamura Ren)
“I do apologise, Agent Ren.”
“No, it’s quite alright, sir. It’s a mission, after all. So… where am I supposed to go?” (Kitamura Ren)
“Your guide is already here.”
Kitamura Ren’s eyes opened wider after he looked at the direction his superior officer pointed at.
“Jeong Hae-Min?!” (Kitamura Ren)
Wasn’t that Jeong Hae-Min from the S Girls?
Why was someone like her here?
Kitamura Ren’s heart began beating faster and faster as he approached her. He greeted her as cordially as he could.
“Hello there. My name is Kitamura Ren.”
“I’m Jeong Hae-Min. You are unexpectedly fluent in Korean.”
“Oh, yes, thank you. I’ve studied it a little bit. This is an honour. I’m a big fan.” (Kitamura Ren)
Jeong Hae-Min disinterestedly nodded her head; it was unclear whether she even heard his sincere greetings or not.
‘Something’s not right.’ (Kitamura Ren)
Sensing something was amiss here, Kitamura Ren’s eyes narrowed to a slit.
The Jeong Hae-Min from his knowledge was nuts about interacting with her fans. She was an idol who happened to be legendary for her antics regarding taking selfies and signing autographs with bottomless energy; so much so, her fans would end up totally exhausted and grow sick and tired of her – her manager had to intervene and drag her away, even.
Kitamura Ren was a long-time fanboy, so he knew that was her real personality, not an act she put on. In other words, there was no way he’d not feel the incongruency in her current behaviour.
“Did something….?” (Kitamura Ren)
Kitamura Ren was about to ask her something, but Jeong Hae-Min raised her hand and blocked his mouth.
“It’ll be better if we hurry up.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“People are dying.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ahh! Yes, of course!” (Kitamura Ren)
So, it was an urgent crisis, after all!
….But, didn’t his superior officer say the Korean ability users were not in Korea but somewhere else? Did their government dispatch them overseas for the Gate suppression operations there, because innocent lives were at stake?
Kitamura Ren couldn’t quite figure it out, but seeing the clear urgency in Jeong Hae-Min’s expression, he couldn’t waste time and ask her here. No, all he could do for now was to make a short report to his superior officer behind him, and then walk up closer to Jeong Hae-Min.
“Do you need my hand?” (Kitamura Ren)
Jeong Hae-Min wordlessly grabbed his hand and initiated her teleportation ability.
In the blink of an eye, Kitamura Ren’s sights blurred and then, the spectacle he hadn’t seen before was laid out in front of his eyes.
The hotly-burning sun above….
The blindingly clean and pure blue ocean in front….
And a gruesome corpse lying on the sandy ground….
A gruesome corpse on the ground?! (Kitamura Ren)
Kitamura Ren stared at the bloodied man lying straight on the ground, his body seemingly frozen stiff.
As if he somehow managed to hold on, his chest rose and fell almost imperceptibly – but his state was so terrible that he might as well be treated as a corpse, instead.
And when Kitamura Ren realised that other people near him all looked more or less fine – with the exception of this lone poor man covered in blood, obviously – he couldn’t help but feel another strong sense of incongruency wash over him.
“Just what is the meaning of….” (Kitamura Ren)
However, when he took another look, he could see that the other people weren’t okay, either. Seeing how pale and terrified they all looked, as if they had seen a real phantom or something, Kitamura Ren concluded that their states weren’t any better as well.
Just what exactly had happened here?
Only then did Kitamura Ren spot another, somewhat strange man.
And this man was currently squatting near the head of the bloodied man.
“….What the?” (Kitamura Ren)
The man with eyebrows that were arching up rather fiercely was in the middle of busy poking the head of the bloodied man on the ground.
Ren quickly recovered from his stupor and shouted out loudly.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing to the patient?!” (Kitamura Ren)
His loud shouts prompted the man, Yi Ji-Hyuk, to raise his head.
And when their eyes met, Ren ended up frowning deeply.
Looking at that face, he can’t be older than in his early twenties or so.
What is a kid like him doing here, then?
And, why isn’t anyone here trying to stop this b*stard?
Especially when someone is clearly dying here, yet they aren’t even thinking of doing anything, only standing so far away in fear!
‘I really can’t understand how Koreans think.’ (Kitamura Ren)
It was then, Yi Ji-Hyuk opened his mouth.
“Hey, you the healer?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Sensing that the situation was shifting towards a weird direction, Kitamura Ren nervously swallowed down his saliva.
< 75. We’d like to scout you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk (5) > Fin.