Auto Hunting - Chapter 29
Yoo-seong sat up the moment he became conscious.
He looked around. The wallpapers appeared to be those found in Jin Chang-hoon’s hospital.
He was surprised to see a cast was wrapped around his right arm. Since he exchanged blows against the Shantiga Prime, he thought his torso would be injured more than it was.
Somehow, his arm sustained more damage.
There was not much pain in his body, save the subtle one in his cast-wrapped arm.
He closed his eyes. He must have used all of the 2,800 CEs that he possessed.
There were no regrets about it, though.
Everything that he had trained for was for that clash against the six-star monster. With a light sigh, Yoo-seong opened his eyes. Sung-wook was standing before him.
“When did you come in?!” Yoo-seong asked in shock.
“About three minutes ago,” Sung-wook said as he took a strawberry from the pack at Yoo-seong’s bedside.
“If you want to do something weird in bed, you should lock the door,” he quipped as he popped the fruit into his mouth.
“I wasn’t doing anything,” Yoo-seong laughed little.
“I have something for you,” Sung-wook told him.
Sung-wook chewed on the strawberry as he opened his bag.
“I dropped the equipment for repairs, and it seems that the relief compensation and the handling of the prey will be neatly taken care of. However…”
“Is there a problem?”
Instead of talking, Sung-wook took a small case out of his bag. It looked like a jewelry case. He opened it to reveal a bright silver seal.
“…this arrived,” Sung-wook finished.
Yoo-seong stared at the seal, speechless.
In Korea, like in most countries, the achievements of hunters were divided into five seal classes.
The lowest one was white, followed by copper, silver, gold, and platinum.
The seals weren’t permanent. They are gauged by summing up a hunter’s achievements for the last two seasons.
Hunters who didn’t do much within that period could fall from Platinum to White.
“It was issued to you,” Sung-wook continued.
Yoo-seong wondered how he had managed to earn a silver seal before earning a white or copper seal. Was it possible for Hunters to get such a quick promotion?
His hand slightly trembled as he reached for the seal.
Kim Sung-wook suddenly drew it back.
“After your performance in the hunt… I would like to attach it to you myself if you do not mind.”
The both of them stared at each other with emotion. After a moment, Yoo-seong held out his right arm.
Sung-wook threw the seal lightly. Yoo-seong wondered what he was doing. However, Sung-wook’s aim was accurate. It landed right on Yoo-seong’s arm and stuck.
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“Don’t worry about getting it destroyed. It’s not real silver anyway, and it costs just about 3,000 won at a stationery store.”
Yoo-seong raised a brow in confusion. It didn’t sound right.
“I don’t get it. I thought the seals were made of real metal?”
“I told you,” Sung-wook said as he put the seal’s case in the trash can. “After the hunt, I went to get you this.”
“You could think of it as a thoughtful prank. However, you do deserve this. You saved all those hunters from the Queen Ant. You caught a 6-star monster. However, since you just acquired your license, your score summing process would be delayed.” Sung-wook explained.
Then, a mischievous grin appeared on his mouth as he continued.
“You know what? The silver one is just plating, but the gold and platinum seals are made of real metals.”
“Could I have a gold seal, then?” Yoo-seong asked.
“Is there anything higher?”
“No, but there are different grades of platinum.”
“When did you become a ranker, anyway?” Yoo-seong asked, and they both laughed.
“Now, you need to get in shape,” Sung-wook said as he stood up.
“That doesn’t make sense. I’m just recovering,” Yoo-seong said.
Sung-wook was already by the door.
“And if you’re planning to do something weird in bed, lock the door, okay?” Sung-wook said before leaving.
Yoo-seong scanned the news websites as he munched on strawberries.
The pages were filled with updates about cracks.
-The fear of North America appears at the center of the Korean Peninsula.-
-The rule of ‘one-to-one correspondence’ is broken… Is there a countermeasure?-
-Military is silent; Emergency button almost pressed after ten years?-
When he first saw the Shantigas appearing through the rift, he had also been worried.
Why did they appear on the Korean peninsula, more than 7,000 km from their usual location?
No one knew the reason.
Moreover, it seems that it didn’t end with the strange Shantiga appearance.
-African Jumping Crabs emerged on Chilean beaches…-
– Congo’s behemoth in a New Zealand lake…-
It was clear that something strange was taking place.
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Monsters were appearing where they weren’t supposed to. Then again, those nations were lucky.
Unlike what happened in Korea, the monsters that had appeared on their terrains were low-ranking monsters. Because of that, their hunters were able to salvage the situations more easily.
However, it doesn’t seem that the nations were taking it seriously.
“Aren’t they underreacting?”
Yoo-seong nodded at Sung-wook’s words.
None of the articles revealed the extent of the dangers to come. Instead, it was filled with praise and recommendations.
-Philippines faces its first ‘four-star,’ but no civilian gets hurt.-
Hunters in… have proved-Excellent ability to cope with the crisis-
All the media did was to praise their hunters.
No one could deny was that the situation experienced in Korea was the most dangerous.
Because of that, the joy of having overcome it was overwhelming.
-There were some casualties among the hunters; however, the civilians were safe.-
There were articles about the loss of lives of the popular Maruchan Team.
-Shin Yoo-hee, who is said to have contributed directly to the blocking of the rift, quickly soared in rank.-
However, there was another name mentioned more than any others.
-The most relevant hunter, who is said to hide his face behind a helmet… he is said to go by the name of ‘Park Kang-han’…-
-Everyone is trying to find ‘Park Kang-han’- the greatest contributor, according to the hunters.-
“Who is this person?” Yoo-seong asked while chewing a strawberry.
“What do you mean? It’s you, of course.”
Yoo-seong paused as he was about to put a strawberry in his mouth. He raised a brow in confusion.
“Why am I called Park Kang-han?”
“You have become a ranked hunter, but we haven’t disclosed your information to the public for now.”
Many hunters not only refrained from revealing their action cams, but also kept their personal information private.
Some famous hunters released theirs, exposing their faces and real names to the media to enjoy additional profits and a celebrity status.
This wasn’t unusual. For many hunters, this was actually what motivated them to get into the profession.
“I made the name up because ‘Park Kang-han’ had a great sound to it. When civilians look at the hunter rankings, they will see Park Kang-han and not Oh Yoo-seong.”
“Wow…” Yoo-seong’s eyes were wide.
“Of course, if you want to make yourself public, you can always do so. All it takes is a simple online filing process. With that, everyone will know your name and face.”
Sung-wook stared at Yoo-seong as he continued his explanation.
“The press will always be on you, especially when they learn that you earned a Silver seal on your first hunt and possibly a Platinum seal on the last one. You’ll be called for interviews, entertainment, and professional programs. You’ll be like a deity in the industry-”
“I don’t think it’s time yet,” Yoo-seong said, cutting him short.
Sung-wook’s voice softened at his reply.
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“Really? The money that will come in then might be more than what you’ll reap from merely hunting,” he said, probing further.
“And then, I would have no time to do real hunting.”
Sung-wook nodded in satisfaction.
Yoo-seong had accurately analyzed the situation.
He wasn’t surprised. He and Yoo-seong were alike in a lot of ways. The young man has already achieved a lot.
He had already earned the Silver seal and was already ranked 19th in the domestic ranking. If he got lost in the glitz and glamor, he would drop in reputation.
The seals and rankings were not permanent.
Sung-wook knew many ranked hunters who had lost their focus and surrendered themselves to the press, revealing all their information.
With very few exceptions, the end was always the same.
By neglecting hunting, their skill and achievements became rusty, and they became irrelevant.
“I’m not saying I don’t want to be famous. I feel that I should focus on the job and be planted firmly in the industry. After that, I’ll start sucking the honey,” Yoo-seong calmly shared his thoughts.
“Besides, solo hunters aren’t eligible to apply to go around the center or inside the rift, but now that I’ve become a ranker… the water is just coming in-”
“And you have to row,” Sung-wook finished the sentence.
The advantage of being a ranker was not simply to become famous and make money.
They can get access to more dangerous places.
Against the conventional response to popularity and recognition, Yoo-seong chose to climb further.
Sung-wook had a faint smile as he stood up from his seat.
He chose the right successor.
The time will come to suck honey someday, and Yoo-seong had the patience to wait for it.
When the time comes to reveal that Park Kang Han and Oh Yoo-seong is the same…
Perhaps, it would be the end of Sung-wook’s usefulness to his student.
He hoped that Yoo-seong would not disclose the information too early. He turned to leave quietly.
However, Jin Chang-hoon suddenly entered the room.
“Guys, turn on the TV now!” he said.
A lady in a newsroom was on screen. Beside her was Yoon Kang-cheol.
Other than ‘Park Kang-han’, QR received the most praise for the operation.
Sung-wook glanced at Yoo-seong. While it was true that the situation had been salvaged because of QR’s strategic operations, they were doing their best to take as much credit as they could.
“Hey. Why don’t you turn it off? It’s obvious they would do this,” Sung-wook said.
“No, just… listen carefully,” Jin Chang-wook argued. “Listen to what they’re talking about.”
Yoo-seong focused on the broadcast. Sung-wook also watched carefully.
The voice of the lady came forth.
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“We heard that QR is already in talks with Park Kang-Han. How true is that?”
“That’s right, though I can’t tell you much about it yet. We’ll give you the full details soon,” Yoon Kang-cheol replied.