The man’s facial features were rather odd.
How should one go about describing them?
First of all, he wasn’t an Asian. However, he also resembled an Asian, funnily enough.
Was this the kind of face one might get if several different races were mixed up?
His sleek and lengthy nose, thin red lips, and a pair of large eyes definitely belonged to that of a Westerner, but when these features were combined to form a face, the result was inexplicably Oriental in nature.
Also, the man’s neatly-trimmed, all-white hair and young-ish looking face only served to muddy the matter even further..
Those alone weren’t sufficient enough to fully describe the unfamiliar man, however.
No, the strange feeling one got when facing this man wasn’t simply because of his countenance. This feeling was seemingly one of both leisure and anxiety.
That’s the feeling Choi Jung-Hoon got from this unfamiliar man, something that couldn’t be articulated into mere words.
“Who are you?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Usually, Choi Jung-Hoon was not someone to ask such a question.
After spitting out such an obvious and common line, Choi Jung-Hoon was beginning to feel a sense of panic set in.
One could chose his or her actions when one had some leeway at their disposal.
If one saw a rockslide on the road up ahead while driving, one would stop the car and go back the way he or she came from, or perhaps find another path around the obstacle. Or, even come up with other ways to overcome their trouble. However, if rocks fell on one’s head unexpectedly, then it’d become quite obvious what that person would do in response.
Choi Jung-Hoon determined that he was in such a situation.
As soon as he saw this white-haired man, Choi Jung-Hoon felt unnerved and anxious for some reason. It was as if he wouldn’t be able to stand still unless he did or said something.
It was a different type of anxiety compared to what he felt from Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“How should I answer that, I wonder.” (the white-haired man)
The moment the white-haired man made his reply, it suddenly dawned on Choi Jung-Hoon.
….And that was, the ‘difference’ between Yi Ji-Hyuk and the white-haired man.
If the former made him think of a walking, talking bomb, then the latter felt like an existence created solely from the purest form of malice.
“It’s been a rather long time since someone asked me that exact question. As a result, finding a suitable answer isn’t as easy as I thought, I have to say. Mm…. However, not answering your query on our first encounter is indeed quite rude of me.
“I’ve been called many things in the past, but the one I currently am being called is probably the most famous one out of them. My name…. is ‘Alpha’.”
The white-haired man introduced himself as Alpha as a handsome smile formed on his lips.
And seeing that smile, every single strand of hair on Choi Jung-Hoon’s body stood up.
Just what could it be?
Just what was making him so anxious and… scared?
“Hmph.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his weight over to one leg and turned his body towards Alpha.
“And what are you supposed to be?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon released a deeply-held breath once that line was spoken. Only now did he realise that he’d been holding his breath under all this incredible tension.
Only by Yi Ji-Hyuk stepping forward and getting in the way, Choi Jung-Hoon felt like he was no longer subjected to Alpha’s pressure.
‘Is it only me?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon quickly shifted his gaze around.
Unsurprisingly, he found Jeong Hae-Min and her slightly poor complexion, while Kim Dah-Hyun’s body was trembling quite noticeably, even more so compared to that of Choi Jung-Hoon’s. Seo Ah-Young too was trembling imperceptibly.
Only Yi Ji-Hyuk seemed unaffected, relaxed.
But, that wasn’t true.
Even Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression was stiff compared to how he was usually. Choi Jung-Hoon thought it was his first time seeing an expression like that from the youth.
“If you ask me what I am supposed to be…. Well, I wonder. Should I answer with ‘I am human’?” (Alpha)
“Ahh. So you’re the type that I hate, I see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk roughly scratched the back of his head, and then asked.
“Fine, whatever. So, what would be troublesome for you, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I simply must take away that gentleman behind you.” (Alpha)
“Hah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“A teleporter is an important and a rare asset to be had. He’s someone I have a great need for. That is why…. Apologies, but I’d be very grateful if you are so kind to entrust the handling of that gentleman to me.” (Alpha)
“Mm. I feel like rewarding you for making me listen to a few creative horsesh*t just now. So, you enjoy a knuckle sandwich?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s not that I don’t particularly enjoy it, but regrettably, I simply don’t have any hankering for one at the moment. But, everyone, can you understand my words well?” (Alpha)
“….What’re you on about now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mm, well, this is…. It sure is a convenient ability, don’t you think? I would’ve never guessed that conversing with foreigners would be this simple and painless. It’s fun, actually.” (Alpha)
‘What is he talking about?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Just as the frown on Choi Jung-Hoon’s face deepened in confusion, irritation began dyeing Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression.
“So, what you gonna do? If you wanna take him, why dontcha try?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, of course.” (Alpha)
Even before Alpha finished speaking…. it happened.
*SFX for a hard surface – likely the floor – breaking up suddenly*
The floor suddenly rose up, and almost right away, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s black tentacle pointing at the killer’s face was slapped away.
“Hmm?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A figure exploded out from the ground and slapped Yi Ji-Hyuk’s tentacle away, then grabbed the killer.
“Target secured. Teleport, now.” (?)
As soon as those words were spoken, the killer quickly initiated his teleport, and the duo disappeared from the spot.
Choi Jung-Hoon dazedly spat out an exasperated gasp.
They went through so much trouble, yet they still ended up losing the murderer!
Yi Ji-Hyuk frowned slightly, and shifted his glaring eyes back over to Alpha’s direction. He was planning to stop the teleport before it happened, but some sort of interference came in just at the right time. If it wasn’t for that, he’d never have let them go this easily.
“He looked like someone who went through a lot of sh*t, so I was going to go easy on him, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I am grateful for your consideration. However, I believe that allowing me to take that person away is for the best.” (Alpha)
“I kind of like that slick mouth of yours, but…. Why am I feeling so bloody p*ssed off right now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head slightly.
For some reason, this guy was getting on his nerves.
There was only one reason why he hadn’t utterly massacred this Alpha yet, though.
Although the white-haired man was getting on his nerves, Yi Ji-Hyuk still didn’t sense any form of hostility from him, either.
Honestly, there were only a few things easier in this world than differentiating those who came to fight Yi Ji-Hyuk and who didn’t. He had been living for a very long time while facing countless enemies and being subjected to their killing intent, after all.
However, although he could pick up on the subtle hint of malice, not one shred of hostility could be sensed from this man calling himself Alpha.
“It’ll be better for you to clarify what the hell is it you want. Now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ah, my apologies. It’s been almost a year since I had to appear publicly and intervene personally. Even I almost forgot what I’m supposed to do in these sort of situations. You’re Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, yes?” (Alpha)
“Sure, that’s right.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk. You can call me Alpha. As of now, I am a leader of a… fairly small organisation.”
“In this country?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oh, no. Our headquarters is located in America. In the US, I mean. Uhm, I’m not sure if the correct words got through to you. Actually, I’m speaking in English at the moment, you see.” (Alpha) (TL: Alpha said the first “America” in Korean – 미국 – while the latter in romanised English, 아메리카. I swapped the two around to minimise confusion.)
“I already know. Someone cast a translation spell on you. Been a while since seeing something like that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL note at the end)
“In that case, our conversation should become a bit easier. I’ll not beat around the bush. Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, would you like to join us?” (Alpha)
“Before you start, looks like I’ll have to tell you a few things you should never forget.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“First of all, maybe it’s the fault of the translation spell or what, or maybe you’re just a dumb motherf*cker with sh*t for brains, but you keep forgetting to provide the context while you run your mouth off. Here’s the thing – words were created so people can understand each other, kiddo.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Secondly, if you are proposing something, you gotta do two things beforehand. One, you gotta introduce yourself properly first before making the proposal, and two, what kind of benefits you’re dangling along with the proposal.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Indeed, you are correct.” (Alpha)
“I see that you can understand me properly, so how about you start rolling that brain of yours again?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You are indeed correct. You are as smart as I’ve heard.” (Alpha)
I’ve been called a Sage once upon a time, you still wet-behind-the-ears fool. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“Mm…. To answer your first point, I am Alpha, the leader of a revolutionary movement called the RF. The revolution I speak of isn’t anything too grandiose, however. I am simply fighting for what is rightfully ours.” (Alpha)
“And what is rightfully yours?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The rights of the ability users.” (Alpha)
Alpha’s eyes began gleaming in madness as he continued.
“Throughout the world, even though we, the ability users, possess powers that far surpass regular people, we are forced into exploitation and slavery, rather than as the rightful leaders of their respective nations. There are several reasons for this.
“The most obvious one is that, we are not united under one banner, and as a result, can’t put up any tangible form of organised resistance against the regular armies. Also, the families of the users are all powerless humans, literally, and they easily end up becoming hostages.
“There are other reasons, of course, but still, the fact remains – the majority of us are being unfairly exploited.” (Alpha)
“That is…. I’m hearing something I agree with for the first time in a long while.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Our aim is to turn that illogical situation on its head. And as for the second point…. would you laugh at me if I offered you freedom and unlimited rights?” (Alpha)
“I already have enough of those.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I guessed so. You also seemed to have enough wealth, too. Mm… In that case, there is only one thing that we can offer you.” (Alpha)
“Well now…. I feel like I know what that is already.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Indeed, yes. It’s your life. We’ll let you live.” (Alpha)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began giggling hoarsely in response.
‘Let me live, huh….’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just how long had it been since the last time he heard those words?
Well before anger could take over, those words ended up eliciting a sense of nostalgia first.
“Hmm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk reorganised everything inside his head and opened his mouth while staring at Alpha.
“So, you wanna scout me, is that right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That is correct. I’ve heard a lot about you, you see.” (Alpha)
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked behind him at Choi Jung-Hoon, and the latter quickly waved his hands in denial.
“It wasn’t me.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“….But, it could only be you, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’ve been blaming me for everything lately! Me, I’m the type of person to think first and think carefully about everything! And besides all that, the Gates opening up in Korea have been taken care of without any major casualties lately, so how many out there would not find that strange? You might not be aware, but spy satellites from other nations are busy snapping away at the Gates opening up here!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Ah. I haven’t thought about that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Right, that’s how others should react under the circumstance. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“Hey, you heard about the Japanese people coming to see me not too long ago?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Of course.” (Alpha)
“Then, you also know what I said to them?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“In that case, you should know what my next line is going to be, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Alpha swept his hair back. It seemed to be an old habit, since his hair was short and there was nothing to sweep back in the first place.
“We don’t have any money to offer to you. However, when our plans succeed, then the current monetary system will cease to function altogether. If you are willing to wait a little while longer, then I might be able to provide you with unimaginable wealth.” (Alpha)
“Sorry, but I have a rule of not accepting promissory notes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“How regrettable. So, does this mean that the negotiation has broken down?” (Alpha)
“Broken down, eh….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
An ominous smile began forming on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips.
“I’ll say one more thing here….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I will make a promise that, if you don’t bring back the guy you stole away right now, I’ll pull that head of yours clean off your body. See, the thing is, I’m not in a very good mood right now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Ever since my return to this world….
No, wait. I can’t remember being treated like this for the last hundred years, so this sure is a fresh new feeling. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
That was why he humoured Alpha’s crap until now. But well, even that had reached its end, and Yi Ji-Hyuk was getting too irritated to continue.
“Hmm…. I wonder, if you will really be able to do that.” (Alpha)
“Oh? So, should I pull it off now, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, no. I do believe that it won’t be hard for you to kill me. Because you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, possess something else that is clearly on a whole new dimension compared to other ability users.” (Alpha)
“Even then, you won’t be able to kill me now.” (Alpha)
“And why can’t I?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Why don’t you come outside with me for a moment?” (Alpha)
Alpha relaxedly turned around and exited the room.
Yi Ji-Hyuk wordlessly watched before shrugging his shoulders.
“What should we do?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Well, we go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
I’ve no idea what bullsh*t plan you cooked up, but you better give up on escaping from me even if you know how to teleport.
Because, I’ll rip you apart limb from limb in one go. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
However, Yi Ji-Hyuk soon came to realise that his thought would have to remain just that, his thoughts.
Because, when he followed Alpha outside of the building….
They could see from their vantage point, the sprawling metropolis enshrouded in the veil of the cool evening sky. But, there were….
No matter who it was, they’d consign those thoughts simply as nothing more than thoughts, because of the dozens upon dozens of Gates rapidly reddening up in the middle of South Korea’s capital city.
“I’m sure that killing someone like me wouldn’t be difficult for you. But, I can assure you, I will be able to waste your time. In other words, if you want to kill me, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, you’ll also have to watch on as the monsters rushing out from those Gates kill tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people.” (Alpha)
Yi Ji-Hyuk glared at Alpha with dismay.
“All you have to do is to choose. Kill me, or save those people. Isn’t that simple?” (Alpha)
Just as a bright smile formed on Alpha’s face, all those Gates began emitting bright light. They were opening up.
“Ha-ah…..” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk let out a hollow chuckle.
Just where did an as*hole like this guy pop out from?
< 96. Do you really believe you know about me? -1 > Fin.
(TL: WHERE CAN I GET THAT SPELL? That will probably make my life so much easier, trying to translate these novels…. XD)