Auto Hunting - Chapter 16
Before, every time the siren rang, there had been panic in the surrounding area.
Traffic tightened, and people rushed and hoarded groceries. Looters and other criminals took advantage of the moment.
But now, no one was in a panic.
Once the siren rang, people used their cell phones to determine the time of the crack’s appearance.
‘Nine hours left. I guess I should take my time then: pack up for a few days and find a shelter or lodging nearby.’
People naturally gathered at the security hall closest to them.
This kind of orderliness came from familiarity.
The decades of appearing cracks had made the experience a rather normal one for them.
Traffic accidents now killed more civilians than the monsters did.
Even if monsters appeared, no one felt afraid for his or her life.
Everyone just hoped that their homes wouldn’t collapse during the hunting operation.
Even then, insurance covered most of those costs. One might be tempted to think of it as insensitivity.
Instead, it was civilians having developed a deep trust in hunters – the ones who risked their lives every time for the safety of mankind.
A bus full of such hunters passed by soon, and people gawked.
“Uh? The hunters!” someone said as he pointed.
The vehicle was headed to where the crack had begun to form. Soon, hunters stepped down from it, carrying their gadgets. They looked like superheroes from movies.
“Cool!” a little kid called out.
“Rain mayhem on those monsters!” a goth teenager said.
“Don’t destroy my house!” an elderly woman shouted.
This was a familiar scene for hunters.
Only novice hunters who just received their licenses waved their hands, feeling like celebrities.
Yoo-seong was one of them, and of course, he couldn’t help but wave his hand.
This time though, it wasn’t just the civilians who were staring at him.
The hunters around the bus began to point fingers.
“Hey, check it out!” a lady said.
“Is that Oh Yoo-Seong?” another lady whispered.
It has been less than a week since the test was over, and more than a few people recognized him as the best rookie.
Virtually every hunter in the bus was checking him out.
“But he doesn’t have an armband?” a guy said as he peered closely.
“Yeah,” another one noticed it, too.
There were different outfits for hunters; however, each wore an engraved armband on both of their forearms.
The armband on the left showed the hunter’s achievement level, while the one on the right displays the mark of the firm they belong to.
Since Yoo-seong had just been a hunter, he didn’t have an achievement level.
The other hunters understood this. However, there was still a mystery left:
‘Why didn’t he belong to a firm or team yet?’
“Is he riding solo?” the first guy asked.
“It can’t be. Unless he’s crazy,” the other one replied.
Everyone gossiped, but no one talked to Yoo-seong directly.
They were on a rented public bus.
For hunters in small teams who couldn’t afford private vehicles, the country rented a dedicated vehicle.
The first guy stared at Yoo-seong. If it had been an unnamed rookie, he wouldn’t have even given a second glance. However, this was Oh Yoo-Seong.
He had to talk to him before the other teams put their scouting eyes on him.
“Hey,” he said as he sat beside Yoo-seong.
Yoo-seong glanced at him and returned the greeting.
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He guessed it was another desperate scout.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Oh Yoo-Seong. I’m Choi Jae-sung.”
The hunter held out his hand for a handshake before he continued speaking.
“I’m an expert in harnessing core energy from monsters, and I’m in my late thirties. I’m also the leader of the BlackBull team.”
The hunter looked around the bus, searching for his team members.
“Let’s see… He is the vice-team leader. He and his friend over there, oh, and least I forget our youngest. They are all members of the team,” he said as he pointed to other people around.
“I see,” Yoo-seong replied.
“Look, I don’t think you belong to a team yet. What are you doing here? Did you come on a tour?” Choi asked. He was known for being straightforward.
“No. I came to hunt,” Yoo-seong said.
“Oh. You’re not hunting solo, are you?” Jae-sung laughed.
‘This newbie doesn’t know a thing.’
When Yoo- seong didn’t reply, he asked, “Have you been reinforced yet?”
“Oh, already? With what money? Personal money?”
Choi Jae-sung rolled his eyes.
He felt that Yoo-seong was one of those silver-spooned kids who thought they could do anything just because they had money.
“Interesting. How many injections have you had?”
“Then, the CE number is probably about 300, or 400 at most since you’re quite talented. When did you get it?”
“It’s been less than a few hours.”
The hunters who were eavesdropping on the conversation stifled a laugh.
He had just received three injections in less than a day and felt he was ready?
Choi Jae-Sung had to struggle the most to hold back his laughter.
“Then, have you seen anything like this before?”
He asked as he raised his right hand.
A faint blue radiance covered his palm.
Yoo-seong raised a brow as he saw it.
It was a basic CE manipulation technique called Aura.
It raised the energy to the body’s surface to improve the durability and abilities of the body.
“In the first place, you should not try to do this in a vehicle. Do you know why?” Choi asked.
“You are bringing the energy out of your body. Anyone can do it with one week of practice.”
“However, if you are a beginner, you won’t be able to control the release. You’ll cause an accident.”
It was something called a Corona.
If the energy released could not be controlled, it could cause an explosion. With beginners dealing with CE for the first time, even if they just wanted to push out a little aura, all their energy could be exhausted in an instant.
“And what about this?”
Choi Jae-sung’s fists glowed with a white aura. The Aura took the shape of a dandelion, releasing fluffy white smoke.
It took all of Choi’s efforts to restrict the Aura to that size.
“I can bring out auras at will. This is really important.”
Jae-sung opened his fist as he continued to explain.
“By restraining unnecessary emissions, you can fight longer and do less damage to your surroundings.”
The Aura disappeared as suddenly as it had come.
His face was sweaty. Restricting the release of Aura was quite a difficult task.
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Choi Jae-sung wasn’t an expert at it yet.
First of all, his Aura’s shape was uneven, and dissolved into the air too easily.
However, compared to Yoo-seong, he was confident that his level was quite good.
“Anyway, the point is that you don’t gain experience and technique injecting yourself with CE. The more you practice behind the scenes, the better you can handle these missions!”
At this, Yoo-seong nodded. Jae-sung then continued talking.
“No matter how much money you have, if you inject CE and do not know how to do this, you’re nothing more than a simple third class. Third class!”
“That’s amazing,” Yoo-seong nodded, engrossed in all of Jae-sung’s words.
Jae-sung’s expression was as if he had won a fortune.
‘Yoo-seong was impressed by my performance, he thought.’
He began to imagine what things would look like after Yoo-seong was recruited.
Getting the best rookie would be a huge plus to a small team like theirs.
Black Bull would soon be seen as a team with great vision.
Just then, the crack opened a gap wider, and all the hunters looked up.
As the crack opened further, the briefing results were transferred to the hunters’ mobile phone apps.
Based on that, each team organized its operation and started their hunt.
-The briefing has been delivered from the control center. –
When the transmission notification popped up, everyone took out their phones.
-Gray Ant- ★★~★★★, observed to be in colonies. –
Some hunters stuck their tongues out as they read the briefings.
“This is going to be tricky.”
Even if they were low-star monsters, they were in a group, and the risk increased several times over.
Choi Jae-sung, who confidently gave his teammates the briefing, turned his head toward Yoo-seong.
“Don’t worry. I know you may not understand the briefings yet. You can look glance through it, though. We’re pretty quick; we can take on Hive-type monsters easily. It’ll just be a walk-over for us…”
“Sorry, I am still reading the briefing,” Yoo-seong said, smiling as he raised his phone.
Of course, it was polite not to disturb someone during the briefing, but Choi Jae-sung couldn’t help himself. He was stunned at the rookie’s response.
Do you even know how to read the briefing? He thought.
Even if Yoo-seong he finished reading the briefing, Jae-sung wondered what a novice could do with it. He couldn’t bear his anger and spoke to Yoo-seong as if he was talking to a child.
“Yoo-seong, you don’t need to see the briefings, do you? Just follow those who know more. It’ll make things simpler for you.”
The moment was tense.
Yoo-seong put his phone down to his thigh for a while. Then, he looked at Choi Jae-sung.
He retained the respectful expression he had while listening to Choi’s words before. However, this time, there was a firmness when he spoke.
“To be clear. I have no intention of joining any organization for the time being; I’ll hunt alone.”
“What-” Jae-sung began, but Yoo-seong cut him off.
“As a junior, I will just humbly listen to the advice you give, but if your intention is for me to join your team, I have nothing to say but sorry.”
“Uh,” Jae-sung’s smirk was now gone.
“Do you have any other important thing to say? If not, can I now focus entirely on my briefing?”
When no answer came, Yoo-seong shifted his focus back to his phone and began memorizing the rules.
The moment he hunted with the Choi Jae-sung team, he’d have no choice but to keep getting involved with them from the reward stage after the hunt was over.
He had only listened to Choi because of his respect for elders, partners, and senior colleagues. He couldn’t go beyond that, however.
Choi Jae-sung, whose mouth had hung open before, closed his mouth and led his team towards the crack.
The other teams that had been listening did the same. Yoo- seong was left alone.
He read the briefing thoroughly; then he went to the crack.
Usually, teams went hunting by themselves without help from other teams.
However, the monsters this time were in a colony.
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Therefore, the teams that took the bus together were gathered around the bus.
They stood back-to-back, waiting for the monsters to arrive.
Each team leader discussed the formation and gave their team members different roles.
Each team had a standard line of defense and attack.
The only loner was Yoo-seong.
Most of the hunters didn’t feel that Yoo-seong was wrong in turning Jae-sung down.
They all knew Jae-sung tended to be excessive, and Yoo-seong had been quite polite to the end.
But among the groups that came on the bus, Black Bull was the best in skill and career.
From formation and barricade construction, Choi Jae-sung’s team had no rival.
Choi didn’t care about some sarcastic ill-mannered rookie like Yoo-seong.
The silver-spoon kid would have to learn the hard way to take care of himself.
He shot Yoo-seong a glance.
Yoo-seong appeared quite relaxed. The sight of him annoyed him.
“They are coming!” The hunter on the lookout shouted.
The others looked to see ants approaching from far away.
Insectoid creatures with upper human bodies came towards them. Instead of looking like common ants, they looked like centaurs from Greek mythology. The only difference was that they had the lower body of an ant, not a horse.
The hunters braced themselves for the battle. Yoo-seong also took a three-stage stick out.
“Newbie,” someone ridiculed him from the side.
It was Choi Jae-sung.
“What are you going to do with that basic equipment? You should have brought something more suited for this. Perhaps some ranged weapons. But you don’t have any, right?”
Yoo-seong didn’t reply.
“Don’t hurt your nose while stepping out. Strike them quietly from behind, or at least keep them before your-”
Before Jae-sung could finish speaking, the three-stage stick snapped into its full form.
Yoo-seong stood with a hand on his waist and the weapon on the other.
“What? You had been so respectful earlier,” Choi continued, puzzled by the newbie’s reaction.
Was Yoo-seong going to fight me?
Yoo-seong, however, wasn’t even looking at him.
He hadn’t unleashed his weapon because of Jae-sung.
He had pressed his button.
-Automatic hunting activated.-
It was just like eight months ago when Yoo-seong practiced against a mannequin with a three-stage stick.
This time, however, there was something else.
Blue energy surrounded his body.
“Dumb ass, don’t do that around people. You could hurt them!” Jae-sung shouted, fearing that Yoo-seong would cause a Corona.
Instead, Jae-sung gasped as he watched.
Even the hunters who had been watching the ants approach shifted their attention to the rookie.
“Wow, what?!” someone yelled in surprise.
The surface of Yoo-seong’s Aura was very smooth.
It was a fully controlled emission. There was a 0% loss rate, no energy wasted.
No Corona was bound to explode. No one there could replicate that control.
Everyone watched as Yoo-seong bent down as if he was about to run in a race. His Aura became concentrated around his legs.
Then, he began to run.
It took just five steps and a leap for him to land gracefully amid the dense colony of ants.
The other hunters watched in silence.
The ants were very tall, and Yoo-seong disappeared among them.
After a few moments, they spotted him fighting against the giant ants, turning them over one after another.
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As Yoo-seong battled the ants, he realized something that was going to cost him a lot.
He had underestimated the Automatic Hunt function.