Auto Hunting - Chapter 61
Shanghai Central Defense Agency Chief Ryu Jun-gang’s hand trembled.
He lit a cigarette, then took a deep puff. He couldn’t even feel the smoke going through his throat.
He felt numb, helpless.
What could the Defense Agency do in this situation?
“Did you contact Hangzhou City already?!” he barked at an employee, who scurried out.
Ryu Jun-gang sighed. The only thing he could think of doing was to request help from outside the city, and this was to help them seek for more hunters to help them rescue civilians.
The Defense Agency’s role in the Chinese hunting industry was minimal. They were in charge of predicting the time and location for crack appearances and supervise as the hunters distribute the operation area between themselves.
Until now, that has been enough.
‘I thought we’re doing enough.’
The Chief took another long puff and stared at the distance.
“Chief,” an employee entered the room and approached him.
“I keep getting calls from the Party…”
Ryu Jun-gang remained silent.
To allow the Party and the military to take over would mean accepting responsibility and failure. The more chaotic the situation became, and the larger its scale turned out to be, the greater the responsibility. Someone would have to take the blame.
Not just the punishment that came with failing to do the job, but the moral responsibility.
The lives that were lost.
The lives that they were still losing.
It was unlikely that the Party was calling him to ask about the current situation.
Every satellite was pointed at Shanghai right now.
Reports were coming to the higher officials in real-time. The call would only mean one thing. The military was ready to take over the situation.
‘I’ll just push a button to take the call… and that’s it.’
At this, Ryu Jun-gang’s stomach tightened.
‘There is nothing to be afraid of’; he assured himself as he accepted his fate. He had seen bureaucrats fall so many times.
Now, it was his turn.
“I… I will speak to them directly. Transfer the call to my line,” he told the employee.
He took a deep breath and faced his computer screen. On it, there was a large blueprint of Shanghai, with flashing red dots all over it. The dots were moving in real-time, indicating monster sightings.
‘The people in those areas…’
There was nothing he could do to save them. His phone finally rang.
Ryu Jun-gang picked up the handset with trembling hands.
“This is Ryu Jun-gang.”
However, it wasn’t the voice he was expecting.
-Chief? Report from the 2nd Report Center…
“What?!” Ryu Jun-gang’s temper flared.
The Report Center was a department that received the private sector. Their internal communications had squeezed through the important Party call.
“Why are you calling me directly?!” Ryu Jun-gang yelled at the phone.
-Huh, but… there’s a report from Shincheonji.
Then, Ryu Jun-gang heard it from beyond the handset.
It wasn’t a request for help. It was far from that.
It was as close to a thread of hope for him and the whole of Shanghai.
Through the thread, Yoo-seong heard Seoyu’s voice.
-As you said, I delivered everything to the Defense Agency.
“Good,” he replied.
He was feeling dizzy. He had to stop himself from vomiting. Yoo-seong was standing on the roof of a tall building.
His sense of balance had not recovered yet, but he was moving with the help of Spider Walk. The reason why he was filling light-headed was the threads.
It connected him to Seoyu and other hunters at the same time. As he and the other hunters moved, Yoo-seong drew out the thread from within him to maintain the connection.
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If it wasn’t for the reinforcement given to him by the golden pill, his fine veins would have ruptured by now. Repressing his rising nausea, Yoo-seong unfolded a map before him. It was a districts in downtown Shanghai.
“We’ll designate temporary areas of operations, starting from the center of the crack as ‘Zone 1’. Take note of…”
-Please speak a little slower.
Yoo-seong then designated areas into operation zones.
The total number of hunters connected to the thread was 27.
Even if they met other hunters and delivered Yoo-seong’s orders to them, they would all follow the designated operation zones. Yoo-seong recalled his motto.
‘Do what you can, step by step.’
Right now, they do not have a pulse breaker.
Because of that, the goal of an actual hunt, which was to close a rift, was not an available option.
Moreover, the hunters could not cover the whole of Shanghai.
Yoo-seong made a bold decision. He encircled a total of 15 areas around the center of the crack.
‘This would be the maximum,’ he decided.
He had reached the limit of the number of hunters he could link with. The range he selected also took into consideration the distance that Yoo-seong’s thread could cover. Blocking the fifteen areas so that the monsters are trapped near the center was the best he could do now.
“Inform each hunter of their temporary operation area and ask them for a location report. Make sure at least one person is deployed in all operational areas…”
By dividing the map into operation zones and sharing information within those divisions, he made an efficient arrangement. There was no hesitation in Yoo-seong’s voice.
“Except Zone 1. The center. I’ll be on it.”
Of course, since his debut, Yoo-seong had worked solo. Because of the nature of Automatic Hunting, group activities that require frequent verbal communication were not suitable.
This was why he had prepared well.
For a few months after he got his license, Yoo-seong’s day was monotonous.
Training physically with Sung-wook during the day, to the point of exhaustion. During the evenings, he read books and watched instructional videos without fail.
The Auto-Hunting that Yoo-seong had given him a great advantage. However, because of that advantage, he could not experience how the other hunters worked.
The team play of hunters in a specific situation.
The roles of each member of the team.
How the members should act when separated from the team leader.
“They must report their status every three minutes. In the case of CE depletion or injury, bring them to your location. I’ll leave that to Yang Biyeon…”
He studied hard into the night. There was no worthless information.
He knew that not knowing how teams work was a weakness. Even though he could not experience it firsthand, he made up for it by studying.
He listened as Seoyu translated his instructions. Then, he folded the map and put it in his pockets.
Yoo-seong looked below him. The streets filled with human corpses are now filled with monsters.
‘Soon,’ he realized, ’the third period begins.’
For sudden rifts, the first period was when monsters pour out unexpectedly. The second period was when the monsters were concentrated in their location, feasting on their prey.
The third period…
It was when the monsters had run out of prey and started to move to hunt for more.
Yoo-seong closed his eyes for a moment. Then…
He pressed the button. His body immediately began stretching and unfolding to adapt to the situation. There were monsters all around him.
‘What kind of body would be suitable for this hellish situation?’
Yoo-seong cleared his mind.
‘All you need to do is focus.’
His body had then finished transforming. Yoo-seong began to run down the building.
A state-of-the-art transport aircraft lowered its altitude toward the center of Shanghai. A young man in his early thirties was inside.
“The damage is much more than they said,” the man murmured.
His name was Ha Yuk-il, the tenth place in the current Ship Zone.
He was the successor of the Volcano, and had inherited a powerful Psy.
Ha Yuk-il looked up at the crack. It was over a hundred meters.
Even if he and his subordinates arrived earlier carrying the pulse breaker, the operation would have taken at least two hours.
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“I heard that three other Ship Zones have come,” he remarked.
They, too, would have just been arriving in Shanghai. Four Ship Zones, and hunters from all over China, flocked to the city.
Ha Yuk-il looked at his subordinates seated at the back of the carrier and yelled:
“Go go go!”
The hunters dropped one by one into the city. Something felt strange to Ha Yuk-il as soon as he landed.
He gave a hand signal to his subordinates, telling them to stop. They were supposed to land closest to the rift.
He expected to be surrounded by monsters as soon as they landed. However, they weren’t.
Instead, they were surrounded by monster corpses.
“What’s this?” a subordinate behind him exclaimed.
Most of the corpses were from one of the giant species.
Chengdu Black God – 3 to 7 stars (★★★~★★★★★★★)
It was a species which risk level considerably as their growth deviation was so rapid. A full-grown Giant Snake could fill up an entire street.
All around Ha Yuk-il’s team were corpses of Chengdu Black Gods. They were about 5-6 stars, based on their size.
Ha Yuk-il’s eyes turned to the cracks. He had been watching it until just before descent.
There were no more beasts pouring out of it.
‘A top predator?’ He wondered.
Even among monsters, a hierarchy exists. There were monsters among monsters, even higher in the food chain than the Chengdu Black God.
‘It must be hiding somewhere around here.’
Ha Yuk-il’s eyes narrowed.
He then pulled out his Magnetic Sword. The purple blade buzzed in his arms.
‘I have no intention of letting it go,’ he decided.
He had to catch the top predator. It would be the best way for him to solidify his position in the industry.
There was no rush to close the crack, anyway. He then looked around him, watching out for any movements.
Suddenly, he spun around. The sound of something tearing apart alerted him.
An uncommonly large Giant Snake, at seven stars in his estimate, was being torn from the inside.
The skin tore apart completely.
“Ugh!” one of Ha Yuk-il’s men blurted out.
“What is that?!”
A human-shaped mass was emerging. It was pressed against the surface of the snake’s muscles and intestines.
Ha Yuk-il ran towards it.
The tip of the Magnetic Sword sliced through it neatly. The human-shaped mass would have been split in two as well, but the blade narrowly missed it.
The snake corpse split in half, revealing the man inside. The first thing they noticed was the man’s eyes. Between the blood, torn muscles, and intestines, the human eyes glinted sharply.
“You’re lucky,” Ha Yuk-il said. “You could have been hurt if my aim was even a centimeter off.”
It was a lie.
Ha Yuk-il swung his sword at full strength, with little regard for the human shape. However, the man avoided it, even if his vision was blocked by the snake’s muscles.
“What group do you belong in? Who else is in this situation?” Ha Yuk-il yelled at the man.
His tone was as if he was speaking to someone beneath his level. He wasn’t familiar with the man’s face.
The man remained silent. Then, instead of answering, the man pointed the finger at him.
“Hey…” Ha Yuk-il was flustered. “What are you gonna do?”
The man’s finger moved to the pulse breaker that one of the team members was holding. Then, it pointed to the crack.
Even a fool could understand.
‘Close the crack.’
Ha Yuk-il’s turned red. He was speechless.
Regardless of where the operation was, whether in China or overseas, it was unthinkable for the rush team to loiter at the center.
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It was because of Ha Yuk-il’s greed that is why the dispatched rush team has delayed their mission. He then tried to save face by yelling at the man.
“I’m talking to you, but you’re answering by pointing your fingers?!”
Meanwhile, the man stayed calm, brushing off the dirt and blood that covered him. Then, it pointed again to Ha Yuk-il, the pulse breaker, and the crack above them.
Ha Yuk-il was silent for a few moments before he spoke up.
“I am the successor of the Volcano…”
This time, he controlled himself and used a calmer tone. “I think you could be a great help if you join us in closing the rift. You seem to be quite skillful…”
Ha Yuk-il had a different meaning in mind as he said it.
‘I’ll give you some credit by including you on our rush team.’
However, before he even finished talking, the man turned around and started to walk away.
Ha Yuk-il was indignant and began running towards the man to stop him. Just as he had taken his first step, the man turned to face him.
Ha Yuk-il froze as he stared back into those eyes.
The man’s lips began to move. He spoke in broken Chinese.
“Crack. Above. My. Do…”
Then, he turned around and began running. Soon, the man disappeared from the street.
Ha Yuk-il and his men felt stunned.
“What is with that person?”
“Shall we follow him and teach him a lesson?”
Ha Yuk-il also thought about the same thing.
He wanted to teach the man a proper lesson.
He wanted to drag him inside the crack, where there would be no evidence left. He thought hard.
There was a hunter who was so popular in China these days.
A Korean hunter who is said to have caught a Four Peril in solo hunting.
‘Oh Yoo-seong,’ he remembered the hunter’s name.
‘A piece of…’
Ha Yuk-il swore silently and gritted his teeth. Then, he turned to his men.
As he led his men into the rift, he clenched his fists in suppressed anger. He felt as if he had been made fun of.
‘He probably sees the Ship Zone as dog poop, doesn’t he?’
Ha Yuk-il admitted to himself that he could not have dealt with all the monsters piled up on the streets alone, as Oh Yoo-seong did. Still, if that foreigner wanted to get a lot of merits, he wouldn’t get it.
‘I will testify to somehow reduce his achievement,’ he decided.
Even if he hadn’t actually witnessed it, a Ship Zone member was a Ship Zone member.
His words certainly held weight.
And with his influence, he could probably find a hunter somewhere in the city and force him to place the credit to his name.
‘Soon,’ Ha Yuk-il calmed himself. ’That man would face my fury after this operation is over.’
However, as soon as he stepped inside, he froze.
The men behind him also stopped dead, with their eyes wide and mouths hanging open. They then remembered the man’s words.
“Crack. Above. My. Do…”
It all made sense now.
“G-get the pulse breaker ready and let’s go down as fast as we can,” Ha Yuk-il stammered. He looked pathetic as he stared at the scene before him.
“Crack. Above. My. Do…”
From as far as their eyes could see, monster corpses were piled up inside the crack. The rush team didn’t have to do anything inside aside from closing the crack.
There were no monsters left.
The 7-star Chengdu Black God was the top predator inside the crack. The last thing it did after swallowing Yoo-seong whole was writhing in pain until it fell out of the rift.
Ha Yuk-il’s shoulders drooped as he watched his men charge up the pulse breaker.
His grand plans after the operation had all dissolved into thin air.
Yoo-seong’s achievement was too huge, much larger than his influence. He wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
At that point, he wondered if he was still even in the ten Ship Zone hunters.
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