Auto Hunting - Chapter 142
The sound seemed to have come from a distance. Upon hearing it, Yoo-seong came back to his senses. He remembered the lightning striking from above. He also remembered how it had hit the Habaek.
However, his thoughts were still in shambles, as if he had been punched hard. His eyes were closing on their own from fatigue that he could hardly bear.
The sound made him notice the smell. It resembled that of a chicken breast. He felt around. It was like his whole body was wrapped in a slightly stiff but soft cushion.
Only then did Yoo-seong realize: he was inside the Habaek’s body.
Yoo-seong tried to move. However, Auto-Hunt was not active, and the monster’s flesh was tightening around him so much that he couldn’t press the button.
He wrapped his Aura all over his body and rose upwards as if he were swimming. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he reached the surface and inhaled deeply.
The first thing he saw was the sky. It was almost dawn.
“Has it already been so long?”
The rain, which had been falling ferociously, had already stopped. A rainbow hung on the far side of the dim sky. Yoo-seong was a little captivated by the beauty that greeted him…
He heard it again. This time, the sound was a little clearer and louder. It wasn’t that difficult to figure out why: the Habaek was dead. Its four colossal legs were stiff and stretched outward. It had been hours since the Habaek died, but its spasms had not yet ended.
Whenever its dead body moved, the earth shook with the sound.
Yoo-seong stepped forward.
Stepping out from the Habaek’s head, he proceeded along the ridge of its neck. The monster’s carcass trembled countless times, yet Yoo-seong remained skillfully balanced. He didn’t need to use Auto-Hunt.
And even if he had, he already knew where it would lead him. The Habaek’s shell had a large area that looked like a combination of three or four sports stadiums, and ridges that rose beyond the size of low-rise buildings covered the creature’s crust.
Yoo-seong wanted to go right into the middle of it.
Admiration fell unbidden from his mouth. At the center of the Habaek’s rocky scales was a deep blue lake.
‘The monster’s core.’
Just like the Lightning Ape’s horns, this was the Habaek’s source of power.
“Here!” someone cried. At this, Yoo-seong turned.
They were the people of Hankwang.
These were Hankwang Hunting International members, who looked like they had somehow pulled themselves back together after last night’s disaster. Even after Yoo-seong had turned to lightning, the Habaek had barely been accessible thanks to the post-mortem stiffness.
“This is it!”
It wasn’t just the hunters.
“Okay! I’ll walk on my feet from now on!” The hunter carrying President Han Kwang-ho knelt and let him down onto the floor.
“There is an uninvited visitor,” remarked Yoo-seong. President Han Kwang-ho turned to look and saw him. Silence quickly filled the scene.
The hunters were all soaking in so much shame that they couldn’t even dare to look at Yoo-seong. It would have been ridiculous for them to get the Habaek’s body. Clearly—especially from a hunter’s point of view—the Habaek belonged to Yoo-seong.
Yet, one person thought otherwise.
“You do not have permission from the proper authorities! You broke into our operational zone and interfered with the mission.”
The President had already known he would encounter Yoo-seong. He had already decided on what he would say.
“Do not even think of claiming credit for this mission. Let it go. This is my loot. I was the one in charge, and if not for your interference, we would have captured the Habaek.”
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In principle, he wasn’t wrong. Hankwang had not formally requested support.
Of course, in general, it was customary in the Korean industry that the person who had received unsolicited help would feel humbled and thankful. However, the one speaking to Yoo-seong had never been part of the industry.
“Do you have any objections? I’d be surprised if you did, but I would respond according to the laws of this country. By the rules of the industry you and I are in.”
President Han Kwang-ho was confident. All he needed was a justification. And anyway, all the devices and footage on the site were owned by the Hankwang group. Even if something needed to be verified, it would be easy to remove anything that would damage their reputation.
“I can’t give you a single penny,” the President declared.
The President remembered the figures he’d seen on the monitor only about an hour ago. Drones imported from the United States had been launched directly from Hankwang to scout the site. There were sensors mounted on the drones’ lenses that could detect CE, the energy emitted by hunters. They were used discreetly in situations where the hunters could not be identified with the naked eye.
But, right now, they were being used to detect valuable monster parts. Monsters were the main source of CE. Even with the Habaek dead, the drone had still detected an enormous amount of CE from within the “crystal” beneath its shell.
No matter how ignorant the president was of the field, he knew that those figures detected by the drones were out of the ordinary.
“If you understand…” the President started.
From across the lake, someone screamed. Everyone, including Yoo-seong, turned to look.
“Please… That’s enough, Grandpa.” Han Jae-gyu’s voice sounded as if his insides were broken. And they really were, although what he felt was not physical pain.
“What, why are you screaming all of a sudden? What’s wrong with you?”
The annoyance was evident in the President’s voice.
“What’s the problem?”
Han Jae-gyu was crying.
It was out of shame. He wiped away his tears with the back of his hand.
Han Jae-gyu was not a hunter that had just come up from nowhere. With that hand, he had steadily built his career in another country and trained himself as a hunter. It was the hunter talking right now.
“We can’t do this. You must stop.”
He knew that, as a hunter, it was the right thing to do. Yoo-seong had saved his life. Not only his but that of every hunter in this operation.
The Habaek had been tearing through the crack little by little before Yoo-seong arrived. It would have escaped and caused a disaster if Yoo-seong hadn’t helped them.
The Hankwang group had almost caused a tragedy, which could have led to a stigma and remorse that a hunter could not simply wash away. Even if Yoo-seong had saved these hunters’ lives, they would have still chosen to die.
“You ungrateful brat!”
The President raised his hand and slapped his grandson.
“Last night’s event must have gotten into your head! What are you talking about? Are you really my grandson with that mindset? Get your act together. You are the grandson of Han Kwang-ho and a member of the Hankwang group! It means you must know when to play and when not to!”
Then the President turned toward the hunters who stood behind them.
“What are you doing? Get your gear and get in there!” The President spat on the ground. He was not in a particularly good mood.
‘I don’t know about anything else, but how could he do that to his grandson in front of everyone?’
Yoo-seong’s nerves were on edge, perhaps as a result of staying up all night. ‘I need to get what I need right away,’ he thought.
Despite the President’s orders, no one had moved.
“What are you all doing? Can’t you hear me? Did you all lose your hearing?”
Everyone’s ears were fine. As a matter of fact, they had all heard clearly. Not only the President’s words but also Han Jae-gyu’s.
They had heard him for who he was. Not the grandson of their employer, not their team leader, but a hunter who had shared his feelings.
“I can’t take this!”
Of course, they weren’t much different from their own.
“Yes! I can’t do this!”
Throwing away his diving gear, a gold-class hunter standing right next to Han Jae-gyu shook his head.
Anger immediately emanated from the President’s eyes.
“Who do you think pays your…”
“Of course, it’s your money.”
The President’s words had no effect on the already-determined hunter.
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“Isn’t that all you’ve got to give? I’m going to quit. The penalty’s a little bothersome, but I’m sure it’ll work out. Look, it may not look like it, but I’m a gold-class hunter. I am not letting myself be bossed around in exchange for money, especially by someone like you.”
That was just the beginning.
“I agree with you.”
The hunters’ declarations rose from all over the scene.
It was only to be expected. What had kept them with Hankwang so far, besides the financial aspect, was the dream of “rising above.”
It was the speeches given by President Han Kwang-ho and Han Jae-gyu before the start of the operation.
They had hoped their reputation within the industry would rise with an already potentially full group, Hankwang. However, now, they were flying away like wildfire.
“Honestly, I was looking forward to it. All this time, I thought President Han Kwang-ho was someone great. But what is this? All you do is scream. You’re just a stupid old man.”
Far from its potential, the Hankwang unfolding in front of these hunters was nothing but a trash group trying to ruin Yoo-seong, who had done a great job. Besides, even the president’s grandson had cried and rebelled against his own grandfather.
“And, honestly, anyone can see this beast belongs to Oh Yoo-seong. Do we even deserve to be up here?”
“If you attack him according to the law, I’ll stand as a witness to Oh Yoo-seong. We can just say we asked for help ourselves.”
“That’s right. I actually screamed for help.”
“A verbal request in the field is also sufficiently valid…”
No matter how difficult it was, they were hunters. They viewed their profession with pride.
“What are you talking about?! You fools!” President Han Kwang-ho couldn’t understand.
But, at this point, no one cared about President Han Kwang-ho anymore.
Everyone turned around and descended from the Habaek’s carcass or went down to see Yoo-seong and hear what he had to say.
The President called for his grandson. However, Han Jae-gyu was already walking away from him to apologize to Yoo-seong and the rest of the hunters.
“Hey, hey, hey, hey!”
Han Jae-gyu had already made up his mind. He couldn’t do this any longer.
President Han Kwang-ho’s eyes searched the ground. Then he saw the equipment that a hunter had thrown off earlier.
It was a four-star Sperm Whale Suit, a product made in the United States meant for deep-sea operations. It was an example of Hankwang’s financial strength, showing enormous durability to water pressure and low temperatures.
For President Han Kwang-ho, the convenience was astoundingly obvious. The suit was patterned after an existing wetsuit. Given his expertise in scuba diving, he decided to wear it himself.
“I could probably do this on my own. I don’t need you fools in the first place,” the President said to himself as he donned the suit.
Several hunters saw what he was doing.
“What is he doing?”
“You’re not going to jump in yourself…”
“As you said, I am going to cool my head. This is nice to wear. You do not have to worry. I will not die,” said President Han Kwang-ho.
He spoke so mockingly that no one tried to stop him.
The President took a step. In his head, this was something momentous.
He was wearing the suit without needing any help. He would go into the monster’s core and bring out what rightfully belonged to him.
He would be going back to the control center to fire all these useless fools. And then…
Human greed was endless, and the same mistakes were often made over and over. What the president was wearing turned out to be a suit made for hunters. Even if it were easy to wear, it was not like a normal diving suit.
The President’s body leaned forward a little, which ended with him lying flat on his face on the monster’s scales. The path to the monster’s core was a very steep downhill slope.
“Oh oh oh oh oh oh!”
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The sky and the ground turned upside down. Pain like he had never felt in his entire life shot through the President’s body. Like a bean worm rolling on a slide due to some kid’s prank, the president rolled down the slope of the Habaek’s shell.
President Han Kwang-ho fell into the lake. His hell had just begun.
His limbs and all the nerve endings in his body froze almost immediately. It was a tremendous chill that he could not have imagined.
Despite its four-star underwater ability to protect its wearer, the coldness of the lake quickly permeated into the President’s body. He could not even scream and not just because of the cold.
The President’s thoughts were a muddle.
In situations of extreme cold like this, it was said that retaining your senses was an indication that you were alive.
However, his senses were also being subjected to the maximum level of pain. It was as if the Habaek was condemning unqualified and uninvited guests.
Right there and then, President Han regretted his decision. What was he supposed to do now?
He didn’t even know himself. The cold was unforgiving.
‘I shouldn’t have done this.’
‘I am going to die.’
Yoo-seong appeared above the water. Everyone was astonished.
In Yoo-seong’s left hand was President Han Kwang-ho, whom he had just pulled out of the lake. He looked terrible in the Four-Star Sperm Whale Suit.
“Uh, it’s frozen.”
“I’m sure it’s supposed to hold on until absolute zero…”
President Han Kwan-ho screamed in pain.
The coldness within the Habaek’s core had frozen both the President and the Four-Star Sperm Whale Suit.
How was there not even a single patch of frost visible on Yoo-seong’s body after he had gone into the same water and rescued the president?
The heat melted the frost that had settled on the suit. Putting the President on the ground, Yoo-seong put his hands on the suit. President Han Kwang-ho’s rigid body seemed to loosen, and before long, his limbs drooped.
Everyone was impressed.
This was except for Han Jae-gyu, who was worried about his grandfather’s condition.
“The cold didn’t reach inside. At least to the extent that it kills people.” Saying so, Yoo-seong removed the helmet from the suit.
The old man’s face was as pale as a corpse. It was much more normal than everyone had expected, though.
Yoo-seong walked away silently.
The actual temperature wasn’t that low, but everyone had thought it was freezing.
‘There’s something else going on. There’s something in the water that tricks the senses into thinking it’s freezing,’ Yoo-seong thought.
It was the Habaek’s very core. The hard shell and the lake must have been part of its body’s natural defense.
Anyway, one thing was certain.
Even if it wasn’t actually that cold, that lake had inflicted further punishment on President Han. No one knew what would become of him as he woke up.
Yoo-seong felt an unidentified chill as he went down into the lake.
Yoo-seong had wrapped his body with CE. It was the best defense to protect himself under the water.
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Blocking the Habaek’s curse was the power of another monster Yoo-seong had hunted.
It was not long until he reached the bottom of the lake.
‘This is unexpected,’ he thought as he looked at the mysterious item in front of him.