Auto Hunting - Chapter 89
It was natural that Yoo-seong was not familiar with the word. It was a term that had been rarely used until six months ago.
In the past, it was only discussed in the academic world in the studies about monsters and rifts.
“First,” Yang Chang-guk handed him a cup of coffee, “take a drink, then let’s talk in detail.”
Yoo-seong looked puzzled as he looked at the cup.
“Oh, is that coffee to your liking?” Yang Chang-guk smiled.
“Of course. Thank you.”
Yang Chang-guk went straight to the operation area after the hunt and brought him coffee. Yoo-seong took a sip and enjoyed its warmth flowing down his throat.
He hadn’t touched caffeine for six months. However, more than that, the coffee Yang Chang-guk brought him was his favorite blend from his favorite coffee shop.
Yoo-seong was wondering how Yang Chang-guk could have brought it to him by chance. The coffee shop was a small franchise that can only be found in a couple of places, including Yoo-seong’s neighborhood.
“Don’t misunderstand,” Yang Chang-guk smiled as if he was reading Yoo-seong’s thoughts.
“It may sound weird to you, but… when you went missing six months ago, the country mourned.”
Broadcasting stations organized special programs to mourn his death. Each program showed simple content about his life and achievements.
They showed photographs of Yoo-seong on graduation albums, student records, and testimonials from his classmates and friends.
-He’s always been a sincere friend…
-No matter what happens, he always stayed calm.
-I always thought he was going to be big.
“Even this coffee?” Yoo-seong’s eyes were wide.
“It was because of the HBS three-part special about you.”
Part 1 showed Yoo-seong’s career after his debut in Korea.
Part 2 was about his entry into China and his controversial disappearance.
Part 3 featured Yoo-seong’s life outside hunting.
“Don’t think too badly about the coffee shop. The owner was completely silent about your personal affairs.”
The coffee shop owner only disclosed that Yoo-seong used to read books in his store during holidays, and what coffee blend he usually ordered.
The name of the cafe had been blurred out. However, it wasn’t that hard to decipher what’s underneath the blur.
After the broadcast, the brand was hit with crowds of people, and the small franchise, which initially only had four stores, secured an additional 49 stores in downtown Seoul in less than three months.
The coffee Yoo-seong liked only cost 2900 won.
Who knew that it would be such a trending product?
“Now, my sons and daughters also go there often,” Yang Chang-guk laughed. “They say that in high schools, students have these cups of coffee on their desks.”
Yoo-seong’s expression remained unreadable.
“Well… did I say something wrong?” Yang Chang-guk was worried.
However, Yoo-seong’s expression soon returned to normal.
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“No. But it’s a little surprising.” Yoo-seong sipped his coffee slowly.
“Going back, can you tell me more about a ‘single’?” he added.
“Ah, yes,” Yang Chang-guk smiled and nodded. “If it’s okay with you, let’s get in my car. This is a very noisy place to talk.”
The barrier lines had just been lifted. They were surrounded by the noise of loading equipment and teams of hunters talking.
As they walked towards his car, Yang Chang-guk spoke.
“I didn’t realize it would be unexpected for you.”
“I mean, the coffee. Your career… The kind of person you are right now. You’ll get used to it gradually.”
Yoo-seong didn’t have to wait long to understand what Yang Chang-guk was saying.
As they walked to the car, he noticed the silence. Everyone was looking their way.
It was indeed rude to stare at someone. However, it was a different story if you were looking at something huge.
It was never rude to stare at glorious statues or magnificent mountains. That was how the people stared at Oh Yoo-seong as they walked.
They stared at him with silent awe. This was the hunter who returned beyond the rift after six months.
It felt as if he had left his human limits and ascended further. Although there was a crowd around them, no one interrupted Yoo-seong and Yang Chang-guk until they reached the car.
Just before the car door closed, however, someone yelled out, “Welcome back!”
Yoo-seong tried to answer right away, but unfortunately, it was drowned out by the car’s engine. He felt a little sorry as they sped away.
“A single refers to a hunter who can handle the operation of blocking Typhoon-class rifts and below by himself.”
Yoo-seong considered this.
Volcano. Thunder. Typhoon. Storm. Sky.
These were the five rift scales in Korea.
Overall, a Typhoon-class wasn’t that large. Lee Jae-hak had already entered a Storm-class crack alone to perform an interception operation.
What Yang Chang-guk was talking about right now was not simply a matter of combat power. It was a story of effective concealment or combat, whichever was necessary.
On top of that, the hunter was required to operate the pulse breaker alone.
It was beyond how many monsters a hunter could catch solo. It was a common question in civilians’ heads.
Why did an operation need so many hunters to be put in?
From the rush team, the center, and the outskirts, a large number of hunters were always deployed. Wasn’t it just a matter of placing just one team with a few rankers inside the crack?
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Monsters were nothing more than wild animals that had fallen to this world.
Some animals were driven by their appetite, while some simply felt frightened and ran wildly, causing damage.
The hunters’ job was to completely block the rift and prevent damage, not to defeat monsters. And so, the Special Defense Agency couldn’t just drop some strong hunters in an operation.
It would be inefficient.
“Even if there is a 1% chance that a beast escapes beyond the barrier line, it would mean a minimum of one civilian dying once a month.” Yang Chang-guk shuddered just by thinking about it.
“Can you imagine? Once a month! In this case alone, I don’t know what would have happened if it wasn’t for the military.”
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Yoo-seong nodded and spoke in a grave voice. “I know someone died in this operation.”
“Ah, yes.” Yang Chang-guk shook his head. “A police officer was tragically killed by a Shantiga. It’s a sacrifice that shouldn’t have happened. Compensation for the bereaved will surely come.”
While it was really unfortunate for the policeman, Yang Chang-guk couldn’t help but feel relief that it wasn’t a civilian that had been caught in that accident.
“And the more we go, the more these risks will increase.”
The frequency of crack appearance was increasing rapidly. Due to fatigue and injuries, the skills of the hunters participating in the operation were deteriorating.
Therefore, there was no choice but to find an alternative.
“A single hunter capable of blocking operation alone is a single. A two-person pair is a double; a three-person team is a triple,” Yang Chang-guk explained.
“Three months ago, the Defense Department was exploring the possibilities,” he added.
Yoo-seong was genuinely curious. “What is the result?”
Yang Chang-guk had an exhausted expression on his face. “Lee Jae-hak has been temporarily judged as a double… other than that. No one else has qualified as a double or higher.”
There were only a few elite hunters in the country. The Korean hunting industry’s virtue lay in its system and the spirit of cooperation. It was also thanks to that virtue that Yoo-seong’s instructions spread rapidly in an emergency.
Ironically though, it was also the reason why they were in a dilemma.
The hunters in Korea were used to working in groups. There were only a few who could handle solo operations.
In that respect, it was only Yoo-seong so far who proved his skill in the field with his Flame Web. His Tech had a range large enough to cover the entire operating area of a Storm-class crack.
“Honestly, I’m so glad you’re back,” Yang Chang-guk said sincerely. “I’m serious.”
He had a lot of questions in his mind.
‘How did Yoo-seong come to have such an incredible Tech?’
‘What happened in those six months?’
The most burning thing he wanted to ask was about Yoo-seong’s disappearance.
It was an incident that raised numerous conspiracy theories. After the Dive that Yoo-seong disappeared in, the Chinese government thoroughly hid specific information.
The statement they released seemed to be prepared in advance. It was as if they treated the life of the members who participated lightly.
Therefore, there were rumors that Yoo-seong did not actually go missing.
Some said that he had been kept in a Chinese facility and subjected to human testing.
Naturally, neither the Special Defense Agency nor the Korean government gave up. Although there was no information that could be obtained from the Chinese government, they tried to investigate.
They learned about the situation Yoo-seong was in before the Dive, and what happened during the briefing.
‘What if Yoo-seong’s disappearance was really planned?’
Yang Chang-guk glanced over at the passenger seat. Yoo-seong was looking outside the window, deep in thought. At this, he grabbed the chance to ask the question that burned on him the most.
“In the Dive…”
“It was not an accident,” Yoo-seong cut him off without even turning to return his gaze.
“What did you say?”
“It was not an accident that I did not return from the Dive. It was part of my contract with Tenz. The Chinese government was not involved. It was my job, and I accepted it.”
Yang Chang-guk was stunned.
Yoo-seong revealed what happened with his own mouth, without any hesitation.
“Does that answer your question?”
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“I knew there might be some misunderstandings since I went missing.”
“Now, at present…”
“To be clear, my contract with Tenz is now completely over. I have achieved the conditions they set for me, and the only remaining process is to settle the contract. I don’t have to go back to China anymore.”
Yang Chang-guk briefly considered what Yoo-seong said.
What was important was that he was not going to return to China ever again.
“The job Tenz made you do inside the crack…” he tried to go further.
“I can’t tell you,” Yoo-seong said it matter-of-factly.
“No disrespect to your authority as the Director,” Yoo-seong’s gaze was somehow rebuking.
“If you have questions about a hunter and company contract, I have no obligation to answer. Even if they are a foreign company, I do not intend to break the contract trust we agreed to.”
A bead of cold sweat dripped down Yang Chang-guk’s temple. As Yoo-seong said, he had no right to ask.
“Do you have any other questions? I will answer anything that I can,” Yoo-seong said.
Yang Chang-guk considered this for a moment. This young man in front of him had been cut off from anyone for six months.
However, he felt like the same person he saw a few months ago.
Yoo-seong was made of solid wood that could never shake. Yang Chang-guk stepped back with a white flag.
“No, that’s enough. As you said, I have no right to ask questions about your contract. I just care about your future plans, if you will be staying in Korea from now on.”
“No problem at all,” Yoo-seong nodded. “That is, if they don’t sign me on another contract.”
Yang Chang-guk laughed bitterly. At that point, the car was already in downtown Seoul.
“Then, you must take a good rest. You suffered more than anyone, not just today but in the last six months. First, to the hotel…”
“No,” Yoo-seong shook his head and gave Yang Chang-guk his address.
He arranged for the house to be maintained before he left Korea. Even after his disappearance, virtually death, it was still well-kept.
They arrived in front of his home. Before Yoo-seong opened the car door, Yang Chang-guk seemed to remember something.
“Ah, wait a second. I forgot to explain earlier. I have something for you.”
He pulled out a box the size of a human head from the back of his car and handed it over.
“What is this?”
“It’s a gift. You’re free to give it away, but I recommend you use it. Would you like to check it first? It’s a little complicated. It opens when you press that button…”
Yoo-seong followed Yang Chang-guk’s instructions.
Gas used for preservation leaked out with a hissing sound. In the last six months, Yoo-seong thought he had experienced enough surprises.
However, when the gas finally cleared and the inside of the box was revealed…
Yoo-seong was speechless.
Yang Chang-guk enjoyed his reaction. “Isn’t it incredible? It’s something that didn’t exist until your last Dive…”
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By the time Yang Chang-guk finished his explanation, Yoo-seong completely agreed that he needed this.