Park Seon-Duk slowly shook her head.
Without a doubt, this event was the worst catastrophe this nation had suffered post-Black Monday.
Every time she turned the TV on, all she heard about was the news related to this event; every single channel had canceled their regular programming – dramas and variety shows – to continuously broadcast the rescue efforts of the victims unfolding in real time.
She didn’t lose hope and changed the channel just in case, only to run into yet another news broadcast.
[It has been finally confirmed that the identity of the serial killer was indeed an ability user. It has also been confirmed that the KSF had cooperated with the National Police and pursued the culprit, only to let him escape at the last moment. The police, meanwhile, has released a statement saying that the KSF did not consult with them and acted on their own, which led to the killer’s……]
Park Seon-Duk simply turned the TV off.
No matter which channel it was, not one of them was telling good news.
What with all these bad things happening in a row recently, it was a little wonder that people were murmuring that only the politicians were having a good time nowadays.
And for some reason, it felt like that every news report seemed to point the fingers of blame in the KSF’s, or more specifically, in the NDF’s direction, who had, according to them at least, failed to “resolve” the situation in a satisfying manner.
“How can anyone act this ungratefully, I wonder?” (Park Seon-Duk)
It felt like the whole world had turned on its head overnight.
Only yesterday, the TV was full of people singing the praises of the ability users. Yet, today, those very same people couldn’t stop slinging mud in the direction of the users. Not one idol or actor with ability user backgrounds could been seen on screen, too.
Of course, the latter could be attributed to the fact that every programme related to entertainment had been canceled, but still….
She switched her smartphone on and browsed the web. And almost every single comment she read was filled with the dissatisfied and angry voices denouncing the uselessness of the ability users.
Some of them were full of hostile, negative reactions, implying that every single user was no better than that serial killer. While some others were having a serious discussion on whether there was anything anyone could realistically do if ability users formed criminal gangs and went on a crime spree.
However, she still could not find a single voice among them who was willing to defend the ability users.
“….My son…” (Park Seon-Duk)
Park Seon-Duk got up from her seat and cautiously made her way to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s room.
He worked so hard (?) yet the end results came to this. How terrible must he be feeling right now?
‘I hope he didn’t read any of these comments yet.’ (Park Seon-Duk)
It’d be for the best if he hadn’t read any of those vitriolic comments. He’d only feel bad about himself if he did.
If they were constructive criticism, then one might take those comments as a bitter medicine. But no, those negative, hate-filled comments were simply others venting out their emotions. Nothing more, nothing less.
Park Seon-Duk cautiously peeked around the doorway and into her son’s room.
And, as soon as she saw Yi Ji-Hyuk’s sitting posture, her expression became rather unreadable. That posture, where his a*s was sticking out, one hand grabbing his mouse, while the other busy pounding away at his keyboard….
That was undoubtedly Yi Ji-Hyuk’s signature posture, perfected through the past several months.
“You’re playing that game again?” (Park Seon-Duk)
“Hah!!! I said! Stop! Coming over here to gank me!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk) (TL note at the end)
“Mm?” (Park Seon-Duk)
“I told you to stop coming over to this side, yet why the hell?! We’ll end up dying together, you dumba*s!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….I guess I didn’t have to come, then.” (Park Seon-Duk)
“Argh, how can you be this deaf?! I said, go away!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Indeed, I’m sorry for….” (Park Seon-Duk)
“Get looooost!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You insolent little?!” (Park Seon-Duk)
Flames lit up in the eyes of Madam Park Seon-Duk.
Jeong Hae-Min spat out a lengthy groan as she began recalling a conversation she had earlier in the day with her manager.
“We don’t have anything scheduled?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Things turned out that way.” (the manager)
“No, wait a minute. Even if we aren’t going to broadcast right away, we still have to tape the shows, don’t we? Are you saying that all scheduled tapings have been canceled, too?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Well, the scheduled tapings are going ahead, but….”
“But?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Only we got excluded. I tried to talk to the producers, but no one’s listening. I asked around to find out if anyone else’s interested, but none of them wanted us.”
“How can that be?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“It’s not just us, however. It seems that other folks are having the same issue, too. But, what can we do? The public sentiment is at the worst possible point right now. Since it’s just a passing downpour, we might as well keep our heads down in the meantime. You guys also take a couple of weeks off, reflect on your actions or something…” (the manager)
“But, we haven’t done anything wrong to reflect on, though?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“It doesn’t matter if one was in the right or wrong as long as you’re in the entertainment industry, you know. All we can do is to lower our heads when people are criticising us.” (the manager)
“It’s just illogical….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min knew that her manager’s words were correct, realistically speaking. However, even if she did understand, that didn’t mean she agreed with the sentiment.
So, she was left feeling angry and frustrated.
Whenever she felt like this, she needed to do something fun to relieve her pent-up stress, but currently, there was no place for her to go.
Well, if she went around to have fun under the current atmosphere and got her pictures taken, then the arrows of criticisms aimed at her would be swift and ruthless.
She didn’t want to give anyone ammunition to go on a witch hunt, after all.
But still, she couldn’t stay cooped up at home the whole day forever, so she took a stroll, and somehow, ended up in the residential area for the ability users.
Since regular civilians weren’t allowed to enter here, even the most dedicated paparazzi wouldn’t be able to sneak in.
‘That is all true, yet why….?’
When she realised where she was, she couldn’t help but inwardly ask, why here?
Jeong Hae-Min’s feet stopped in front of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s house and she spat out yet another lengthy groan. She stared at the front entrance for a long while, before walking closer to stand before the gate.
After taking several deep breaths, she pressed the bell.
She waited for some time, but there was no response.
Although there was no reaction on the intercom, the gate still buzzed and showed signs of opening. Jeong Hae-Min tilted her head and continued to stare as the door indeed cracked open slowly.
“Eh?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Behind the open door, she spotted the mini Oh-Sik standing on all fours and looking back at her with a slightly pouting expression.
“….When did you start living here?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Wasn’t this creature supposed to protect the NDF building or something?
Oh-Sik yawned out disinterestedly, then trotted away to a wooden dog house located in the corner of the front yard.
“And he doesn’t even have a leash, too. What a good little boy….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
That Ogre sure was something.
No thieves would ever enter this house, I guess.
Still, shouldn’t something be written on the front gate or something?
“Beware of the Ogre: Your lives not guaranteed.” (Jeong Hae-Min’s inner monologue)
“Wait a minute. That’s not important, is it….?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Why did Oh-Sik open the door, instead of a human being?
Was there no one home?
She approached the front door and turned the doorknob, and much to her relief, found it unlocked. Jeong Hae-Min cautiously pushed the door open and entered the house.
And then…. she saw “it”.
She saw the world’s most powerful man who, only yesterday, managed to single-handedly prevent the city of Seoul from getting wiped off the face of the planet….
“Ahhh!! Mom?! My ear!! Ear!! It’s, it’s falling off!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Aigoo!! Why did I give birth to a thing like this boy?! Why!! Just why!” (mom)
“No, wait, mom!! ….I didn’t mean that! That b*stard, I told him to not gank me, but he kept on coming at me!! Ouch, my ear!! Moooom?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Why are you still playing video games at your age?! Just how old are you?! Ah? Grow up already!!” (mom)
“What?! People play games even when they are 50 nowadays! So what if my age is…. Ah, right, it’s a lot, isn’t it…. In any case!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….Being subjected to the terrifying combination attack of mom pulling him by his ear while her free hand landed consecutive palm strikes on his back, making the Bringer of Apocalypse wriggle and writhe like a dried up squid on top of a hot grill.
“….Uhm, mother?” (Jeong Hae-Min) (TL note at the end)
Spotting Jeong Hae-Min and her dazed expression standing by the living room’s entrance, Park Seon-Duk’s expressions became rather awkward as she quickly released her son’s ear.
“Oh my goodness! How long have you been there?” (mom)
“Well, mother….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
I came a little while ago.
But, I think I came a little too early, though. No, wait – maybe I should’ve come here much, much earlier. (Jeong Hae-Min’s inner monologue)
“And you didn’t even warn us beforehand that you were coming. Ng? Was the front gate left open, I wonder?” (mom)
“Oh-Sik opened it for me.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Oh-Sik? Who is he?” (mom)
“….He’s your puppy.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ohohoho~. Miss Hae-Min sure know how to make funny jokes. I’m impressed.” (mom)
She said it was a funny joke. A joke….
Jeong Hae-Min could only pinch her thigh to control herself, since she couldn’t really decide whether laugh or cry.
There’s an Ogre living in your front yard.
You didn’t know that, yes?
Yes, perhaps that’s for the best…. (Jeong Hae-Min’s inner monologue)
“What brings you here today?” (mom)
“I was wondering if Ye-Won is home.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
By this time, Yi Ji-Hyuk had finally recovered from all the damage received and found the voice to shout out loudly.
“Since when did you get friendly enough with Ye-Won to enter my house willy-nilly, ah?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Spittle exploded out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s mouth as he flew away from mom’s lovingly-placed middle kick. Meanwhile, Madam Park Seon-Duk coldly spoke and made her opinions known.
“This is my house.” (mom)
….Of course it was.
Although his ribs were somehow still okay, Yi Ji-Hyuk still checked them out thoroughly to make sure nothing was broken before sighing heavily in relief.
“Mom, you’re getting too violent nowadays!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s your fault! You made me like this!” (mom)
“Others are watching, you know!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oh my? You’re right. Ohohoho~. I’m so sorry. We showed you something so uncouth….” (mom)
“Oh, no. It’s fine, mother. Don’t mind me. I actually enjoy watching you interact with your son like this.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Mm? Really?” (mom)
“Yes. You see…. I don’t have a mother.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Oh, my?” (mom)
Park Seon-Duk looked at Jeong Hae-Min with a sympathetic expression.
“What happened?” (mom)
“She passed on when I was very young.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Ah, I’m sorry. I should’ve minded my own business.” (mom)
“Oh, no. I’m fine with it. I don’t mind it, actually. I thought that, by being too conscious of discussing this matter, it felt like I was being embarrassed about my mother’s passing, so…. So, I wish to speak more openly about it, without holding back. Always.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Park Seon-Duk formed a warm smile as she gently patted Jeong Hae-Min’s back.
“You’re a good daughter.” (mom)
“Not at all. In any case, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk’s the same as me, in some aspects.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min lightly wiped the edges of her eyes.
“I always thought that you’re such a wonderful person and often thought that it’d be great if you were actually my own mother. I mean, I even thought about introducing you to my dad, you know?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Pardon me?” (mom)
Jeong Hae-Min was frightened out of her skull when the sound of a plate shattering suddenly came from behind her, and so, she hurriedly turned around to take a look.
And she found an unfamiliar middle-aged man wearing an apron and a pair of rubber gloves standing there, trembling like a leaf.
“In, introduction?!” (dad)
“Excuse me, but who are you?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min ended up shouting out a question after seeing this unknown person, but this middle-aged man didn’t even give her the time of day and simply ran over to Park Seon-Duk, before desperately clinging onto her.
“D, dear?! What is this all about? What nonsense is this “introduction” about?! Tell me what is going on!!” (dad)
“Oh. You were home? I thought you went out in early in the morning, though….” (mom)
“What do you mean, went out?! I’ve been here all this time!” (dad)
Park Seon-Duk’s expression became rather strangely unconvinced as she looked at Yi Ji-Hyuk to ask.
“Did you know your father was home?” (mom)
“Nope, I didn’t. Isn’t he supposed to go to work today? Dad, how long have you been home?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What, you ungrateful little…!! Didn’t I bring you fruits to your room just now?!” (dad)
“Oh…. I was wondering where those fruits came from, actually.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jeong Hae-Min dumbfoundedly asked.
“You… had a father?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
But, why didn’t I know that?
I’ve been here so many times already and all! (Jeong Hae-Min’s confused inner monologue)
Seeing his own dad cling to Park Seon-Duk’s legs and plead like that, all Yi Ji-Hyuk could do was to spit out a lengthy groan.
So like, why did you even get married in the first place? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
And so, Yi Ji-Hyuk ended up rejecting his own existence.
In the office of a certain important man….
“Did you just say that Alpha and the Mine made contact?”
“Son of a b*tch…. Didn’t I tell you to make sure that such an event would never happen?”
“As you may know, Alpha isn’t an existence which we can control, sir.”
“D*mn it, nothing’s going right!”
The man roughly sliced the tip of the cigar, lit up, and deeply inhaled the resulting blue smoke.
“Whoo…. Fine. And what happened next?”
“It seems that Alpha tried to befriend the Mine, but ended up getting killed by the latter, instead.”
“Obviously, that wasn’t his real self, yes?”
“Yes, sir. We haven’t ascertained yet whether that was a parasite-controlled host or a clone, but it was not the main body.”
“Indeed, it wouldn’t be. Even if it was the Mine, the real Alpha would prove to be a truly difficult opponent to survive against, anyways. So, that means, their relationship isn’t an amicable one, so to speak. Should I be relieved by this news?”
“We haven’t confirmed it yet, but it is safe to assume that they are not on friendly terms, sir.”
“Hmm. Do whatever it takes and ensure that the secondary contact between the two never happens. Those two joining hands will be the worst situation imaginable.”
“Okay. What else?”
“An anomaly has been detected in the way Gates appear, sir.”
“What kind of an anomaly?”
“About an hour ago, several Level 5 gates have begun appearing simultaneously throughout the country, sir.”
“Level 5s, you say? How many?”
“….Around 20, sir.”
“And also, one of them has been rated to be at least Level 6, sir.”
“I see. So, that’s how it is. Within our borders, no less….”
“Should we ask for assistance from our allies?”
The man smirked.
“Even if we asked , do you believe someone will show up? It’s a Level 6, isn’t it? Weren’t you implying just now that it could actually be higher than that? So, just who would step forward to lend us an aid now? Russians? The British? I’d be glad if they didn’t clap their hands in happiness, instead!”
“There is South Korea.”
“….You mean, the Mine?”
“Yes, sir. If he comes, it’d be of great help.”
“The Koreans…. The Koreans, is it…”
Considering the diplomatic ties between the two nations, asking the Korean government to lend assistance wouldn’t be hard at all. No, it would actually be very easy.
“It’s too risky.”
“No. Think about it. Bringing the Mine over here increases the odds of him encountering Alpha again. You can never predict what might happen in the future. And I’d like to avoid such an eventuality at all costs.”
“If our country is done for, then we won’t have a reason to be wary of Alpha’s existence, sir.”
“I concede that those words certainly makes sense. However, let us not forget that he is called the Mine for a reason. I can’t feel happy about bringing in a volatile explosive into our cities.”
“We shall control him to the best of our abilities. We can also use this opportunity to scout him to our side as well.”
The man deliberated on this matter for a long while, before gravely nodding his head.
“Fine. I’ll approve it. However, do remember that the weight you will carry if things go wrong will be enormous.”
“Of course, sir.”
The determination filled the eyes of the man as he nodded his head once.
“I wish you godspeed.”
And so, they lodged a request for Yi Ji-Hyuk’s presence. But no one could predict just how the situation would develop.
Not even Yi Ji-Hyuk himself.
< 99. Do you really believe you know about me? -4 > Fin.
(TL: I don’t fully understood what “ganking” is, but from what I can gather, it’s a tactic in League of Legend where you ambush someone in a lane or something. I think…. Anyways, the Korean term for gank is “gang.” I could’ve TLed the line as “Don’t gang up on me” due to the way the author wrote the line. What do you all think? Comment below.)
(TL: Remember, this “mother” is used to not denote one’s actual mother, but it is a term of respect for an older female who’s old enough to be your mother.)