Novel Name : Auto Hunting

Auto Hunting - Chapter 139

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Chapter 139
“Oh my God.”
The soldiers who had been on guard duty outside the Military Demarcation Line could not keep their mouths closed. It had already been several hours, but no one could get used to the sight.
The giant turtle’s mouth protruding through the torn blue crack above them was simply overwhelming.
Just thirty minutes ago, the turtle had squeezed its snout through the crack to secure enough space to open its mouth. Then it had poured out poison onto the ground directly below.
It would have been a bigger deal if the line had not been so wide. Although the poison had not spread further than the cut-off area, the purple fog covered the landscape below.
“It doesn’t seem like our guns will work against it, don’t you think?” a soldier said to his gunner as he looked between their K-2 rifles and the Habaek.
This was a special operation that was closed to the public.
Two army divisions stationed at the Military Demarcation Line were supposed to deploy their troops immediately if the hunters couldn’t stop the beast.
However, the soldiers did not feel ready at all. The weapons they had—gas masks they had been supplied with an hour ago and their protective clothing—looked nothing but toys.
Despite their training and their high-powered weapons, they were just ordinary people.
In order to face such a monster, it was necessary to have the right mindset before beginning to fight.
“No matter how much power a monster has, the hunters will catch it.”
The soldiers’ eyes brimmed with admiration as they looked over at the other side. There was a simplified control center where more than a hundred hunters were lined up. Surprisingly, they were all hunters from the same group.
In perfect sync with everyone around them, they looked more disciplined than the soldiers.
“That’s all. I hope you’re all prepared to die,” President Han Kwang-ho said as he ended his speech in front of about a hundred thrilled hunters.
Han Jae-gyu stepped up as the President took a seat at the “grandstand” that had been built for him in the control center’s corner. “Five minutes from now, we will commence the operation. We believe that all inspections, including the condition of the equipment, have been completed.”
Loud cheers answered Han Jae-gyu.
Suppressing the boiling excitement, Han Jae-gyu slowly looked around at the hunters. Excluding himself, 134 members of the Hankwang Hunting International were present, and all of them silver- and gold-class hunters.
Silver-class hunters would oversee support and wouldn’t be sent to the front lines. Gold-class hunters were those with the abilities necessary to become an ace in any organization.
In fact, rather than expanding their careers on a large scale, a majority of them had continued in small and medium-sized organizations.
Hankwang had, after all, invested enormous amounts of money in carrying out aggressive scouting efforts, enough to be accused of sweeping the industry’s “bottom” ecosystem with their money.
“It goes without saying that you are all excellent hunters. But honestly, you haven’t been treated accordingly so far, in terms of fame or profit.”
To put it nicely, it was a group with higher-than-average skills.
To put it less nicely, none of the group were at a top-notch level.
Hankwang did not scout the ace players of large groups because those who were truly top-notch in the hunter world would not be easily swayed with money anyway.
“But things will be different after this operation. The gazes that have looked down on you and Hankwang will be silenced once and for all. They will turn into nothing but looks of envy.”
Han Jae-gyu’s speech was greatly influenced by his grandfather’s.
In a way, he was also talking to himself.
“I won’t say that it is not dangerous. There is always a chance of getting seriously injured, and some of you may lose your lives. Yet we are hunters! We will endure the dangers and enjoy the rewards that await beyond them!”
The tremors and anxiety of the hunters who were listening to Han Jae-gyu began to fade.
“When the operation is over, no one will be empty-handed. Silver for gold, gold for platinum! Let us create achievements that not even Oh Yoo-seong could accomplish!”
For most humans, greed and longing were effective doping agents.
Considering that most of the hunters present were not satisfied with their positions, the effect could not have been better.
Everyone was in high spirits.
The Hankwang hunters then stepped into the purple-poison-filled operation area.
They were wearing the perfect equipment to protect them: a three-star Water Bear Suit—Version Three.
Hankwang was the most active organization in importing equipment from the United States.
‘We can do it!’
The same thing rang inside everyone’s heads after hearing Han Jae-gyu’s speech. Their skills, training, and equipment, in addition to the unwavering confidence that the Habaek, who looked up over the thick smoke, could be driven out or killed, spread to everyone in the Han River.
“Leap base, installation from one to twelve complete!”
“Check the boosting pack fuel!”
“Do you still have a long way to go to install thirteen to twenty-four?”
Technically, the two pieces of equipment which formed the core of the operation were fully functional. The nature of the demilitarized zone had simply unfolded under the crack.
Although it was shallow, no terrain was high enough except for the sparse trees located along the river.
Unlike the city where buildings could be used for various cover and attack purposes, it was only natural that hunting in such an environment would soon become difficult.
The first of the latest equipment to overcome it: the Leap Base.
The installation of a huge tuna-can-shaped facility, which weighed slightly more than 0.4 tons, had created a ladder that stretched tens of meters above.
It looked like a huge cat tower. It had small footholds that close-combat hunters could use to climb and large footholds that one or two hunters could use for fire support.
The Boosting Pack, on the other hand, maximized its effectiveness. It was a familiar design for people who liked science fiction.
It was a piece of wearable equipment that reached around the back and waist and then up to the legs.
It would then mix compressed fuel with the wearer’s CE and pour it into the back-mounted jet. Although the amount of fuel and CE needed for a single injection would not be enough for actual flight, it allowed three-dimensional movement by letting the wearer change directions in midair quickly.
“Installation complete!”
Everyone’s movement, fueled with motivation and desire, had been quick.
The installation of forty-eight leap bases had been completed in an instant. And, at about the same time…
The Habaek also began to move.
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“The crack is widening!”
The news had come from the observation site. The crack had been only slightly open and holding out the Habaek. But, suddenly, the monster had started to move.
The crack was tearing open.
It was a lot more dramatic than the last time the monster had struggled and tried to tear it apart. Last time, it is a much more rapid increase than the one he struggled to tear for a long time.
As if the crack was a lot looser this time, the Habaek easily pushed its head out.
“Its eyes…” someone muttered.
Its eyes were no longer the same color.
“To lower the height of the leap bases, adjust the outer edges so that they are not exposed,” Han Jae-gyu ordered.
The leap bases were reduced accordingly.
From the Habaek’s point of view, the pillars and hunters below were not visible.
“Go up the base but do not use the boost. Be careful and make as little sound as possible.”
Using the forty-eight leap bases, a total of ninety-six hunters (excluding the support team) began to climb upward.
The Habaek stayed still, other than extending its neck a little longer and stretching its gaze beyond the operation area.
It was definitely different than before.
The Habaek wasn’t attempting to destroy or trample on anything. There wasn’t even a violent cry that echoed throughout the land and skies.
It was as if the Habaek were not interested in anything.
“Assault group, ready. Report when you’re done targeting.”
“Group A. Targeting complete.”
“Group B complete.”
“Group C…”
Eventually, reports were heard from all groups.
Han Jae-gyu took a deep breath for a moment.
Even at the last minute, he couldn’t help feeling scared, but his confidence held it back.
‘The possibility of failure is… zero.’
Clenching his fist firmly, Han Jae-gyu gave the order.
Everyone was filled with an adrenaline rush.
“Let’s go!”
An intense roar then shook the sky as a total of forty-eight boosting packs activated at once. It was like a dragon ascending as the ‘assault groups’ soared in unison.
The target was indeed the Habaek’s head.
They were aiming for the monster’s right eye, which had been weakened by Yoo-seong’s last attack. With that very eye, the Habaek stared at the creatures approaching him.
Was it surprised?
Did ‘surprise’ even exist for a creature like the Habaek?
Its huge mouth opened, and its lurking tongue soon appeared. All the hunters, including the assault group, took a deep breath.
The ‘Boost’ that had shot them out was only focused on the top of the Habaek’s head. If they avoided it, they couldn’t possibly reach their target.
However, that was not everything that Hankwang had at their disposal.
“Shooting tank.”
Even before Han Jae-gyu’s words came out…
The remaining forty-eight ‘shooters” on the leap base quickly aimed their Geller guns… except these were not regular Geller guns.
CE powered these guns. Yet, they did not fire energy bullets.
Forty-eight hooked warheads were fired.
Reminiscent of Yoo-seong’s Parasitic Bees, the warheads connected with a special material cable to its tail and hit the Habaek’s tongue.
Keeping the cables tightly connected to the warheads, the launchers inserted their Geller guns into the leap base’s prepared grooves. With quick movements, they dropped to the bottom of the column.
In a blink of an eye, the Habaek’s tongue had been tied tightly to forty-eight pillars.
Of course, given the monster’s size, it would not last long. But it was enough. It bought enough time for the assault squads to land stably on the Habaek’s head.
No one said a word.
However, while maintaining balance on the Habaek’s head and moving quickly, their hearts were filled with joy.
They had done it. All the parts of the Habaek that could pose a danger were sealed.
All that was left was to use a boosting pack and hook the cable to blow the Habaek’s right eye out.
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No matter how great Oh Yoo-seong had been last time, he had not been as powerful as the combined power of dozens of gold-class hunters.
Han Jae-gyu could not stand it anymore and let out a relieved laugh. He then raised his right arm and gathered his Aura.
The first blow was his. Then, for some reason, everyone stopped.
All the hunters had gone quiet. Even the shouting had stopped.
“Team Leader!”
The assault groups who were looking at Han Jae-gyu raised their voices. Was it because of the urgency and excitement?
Han Jae-gyu was staring over the other side of the Habaek’s head.
Everyone followed suit, and that was when they saw it.
A Water Dragon had formed from the river below and soared up to the level of the Habaek’s eyes. It was a thick pillar of water that twisted and turned as if it were alive.
The first time the Habaek faced Yoo-seong, the crack had appeared in the middle of the city. There were very few elements that the beast could manipulate.
However, this time…
The Water Dragon started to turn towards the hunters.
“Dodge!” Han Jae-gyu cried out. The very next moment…
A water column with a diameter of five to six meters hit the Habaek’s head directly.
Fortunately, no hunters were hit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t just one water dragon.
No, a total of seven water dragons were pressing their heads around the Habaek’s head.
“Retreat, retreat a…”
Han Jae-gyu could not even give a proper order. Of course, even if he could, things had already gotten out of control.
Water dragons were attacking them from all sides.
One hunter, who had been hit directly from the air, fell to the ground. The impact shattered every bone in his body. Fear began to spread to the rest.
“Come on, get down!”
Every hunter had forgotten what they had trained for. The unexpected threat had reached a transcendent level. Hunting was not possible.
There was simply no way to respond to this. The only thing on their minds now was survival.
Their confidence and spirit had disappeared.
They all headed down in unison.
Everyone was trying to retreat and hide.
The shooting and support teams who were waiting near the leap base were panicking.
Then everyone realized a strange fact: the rising Water Dragons—where had that enormous amount of water come from?
It was then they realized that a vast river ran through the entire operation area.
“Save us!”
Those who were waiting below stretched out their hands and screamed for help.
Hundreds and thousands of tiny streams of water stretched out from the river below.
Everyone in the control center was speechless.
No one knew what to do, not even President Han Kwang-ho.
“Cut it, cut it!”
The dozens of monitors in the control center were showing the hell that was unfolding outside.
The operation was already doomed to fail. Hunters had well-developed skills and hunting abilities these days. Still, there had been many cases in which hunters were killed due to unforeseen circumstances.
Even experts who were accustomed to such situations would not be able to stay quiet.
It was an operation that could not fail. No matter how many casualties there were, it had to succeed.
Meanwhile, the chair that President Han Kwang-ho had been sitting on proved to be slanted. It wasn’t until he almost fell that the President realized he was trembling.
“New Team Leader!”
He tried to hide his trembling. However, he called out the person in charge of the control center in a much louder voice than usual.
“Are you deaf?! Give me an alternative! Even in this situation, there will be a way to deal with it as safely as possible. What is it?”
The man called Team Leader Shin blinked repeatedly.
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Finally, there came a difficult answer.
“With all due respect, Hankwang’s current power is not enough to deal with that monster.”
“Do you think anybody doesn’t know that?”
“Sorry, I’m sorry.”
Then a realistic plan came out of Team Leader Shin’s mouth.
“The best and least platinum hunter… No, I think we need to ask for help from teams with rankers.”
“There’s going to be a rumor going around in the industry,” President Han Kwang-ho answered.
Team Leader Shin was left speechless.
‘Is that what he’s worried about right now?’
However, in the middle of worrying…
An amazing solution had come up.
“Lee Jae-hak,” said Team Leader Shin.
“Lee Jae-hak?”
“Yes. As far as I know, he’s currently working as a freelancer without any affiliation.”
“Can he stop that by himself?” President Han Kwang-ho asked as he pointed at the monitor showing the catastrophe taking place.
Team Leader Shin nodded.
“I know that his Psy is an immensely powerful Psy of ice. If that monster can manipulate water, he’s the perfect person to counter it.”
Shin was talking as if he were on the brink of collapsing into a mental breakdown. What was the probability of stopping it even if Lee Jae-hak’s intervened?
It did not seem impossible, at least.
Until just now.
“What, what is it?!”
“The crack!”
The personnel who were looking at the monitor showing the video feedback screamed.
The crack was getting wider. Even though the Habaek was not showing much movement, the crack was torn as if it could no longer hold.
In between these…
“Oh, my god!”
The Habaek stepped out its foot.
Its enormous size was in proportion to its massive head. The crack only continued to widen.
If the beast didn’t stop moving like this, its whole body would be completely out in the world even before Lee Jae-hak or any support hunter came.
Even the president could not say anything.
For the first time in a long time, he found himself praying silently. He was not looking through multiple monitors in the comfort of his study. Instead, he was in the midst of a brewing disaster.
Just then…
“I said it clearly.”
Though it was not particularly loud, it was a clear voice.
It was a voice already familiar to everyone in the control center.
“If you leave it alone, it will fail.”
The President’s gaze appeared soulless. Yoo-seong pitied him.
Usually, the President would have been embarrassed, but now everything in his head had gone blank. The old man had only one remarkably simple question.
Indeed, everyone in the control center who saw Yoo-seong had a question.
“What’s in his hand right now…?”
“Well, that…”
Only Team Leader Shin, who had some international knowledge, could identify its shape.
“Oh, the Nine Python Bow? No, it’s a little different.”
Won Jeong-cheon, a hunter who had once ranked sixth in the Ship Zone, had perished in a dive six months ago. The shape of the bow Yoo-seong held was similar to his famous weapon.
Team Leader Shin had gotten it half-right.
It was one of the spoils Yoo-seong had obtained inside the crack. Using the Lightning Ape’s horn, a “combination material” that could handle power, Yoo-seong had merged the two items.
“This should be enough.”
Yoo-seong raised his bow.
Auto-Hunt had already been engaged.
The famous nine-pronged bowline, which needed an immense amount of arm strength, was tightly drawn.
The devices in the control center flickered, and everyone’s hair shook from the static.
The Thunderbolt Nine Python.
It was the second treasure he’d finally got. Yoo-seong then laid the bow down.
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A beam of lightning soared through the air.
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