Novel Name : Auto Hunting

Auto Hunting - Chapter 172

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Chapter 172
No. 172
Jin Wei-baek looked really satisfied when he finally finished his meal.
“Good,” he said, turning to look at the woman in the kitchen. “A house that knows how to use seasoning properly.”
‘Did he just wink at her?’ Yoo-seong wondered. ‘I hope not.’
“Shall we get back to what we were talking about?” he tried to steer the old man.
“Right. Inwang’s aides properly passed on not only their Techs but also their sense of duty. Their descendants performed quite well, for the first few cycles, at least.”
“What is a cycle?”
“What? You don’t know? This is not the first time the cracks have opened.”
“Wait a minute.” Yoo-seong’s eyebrows furrowed. If this turmoil happening all over the world had already happened before, shouldn’t it have been recorded in history books?
No, more than that, humanity should have perished by now.
The only reason mankind was holding up was because of modern science and technology, particularly the invention of pulse breakers.
“Of course, it was impossible to close the cracks one by one, like how hunters close the cracks now with pulse breakers,” Jin Wei-baek said as if reading the question from Yoo-seong’s head. “Instead, what they did was to prevent cracks from opening at all.”
Yoo-seong almost got up from his seat in surprise.
“Just… how?!”
“It’s probably something that only descendants know how to do so. But think about it. You know it is possible.”
“What… what are you talking about?”
‘How can cracks be prevented?’
If that was really possible, why was this situation happening all over the world now?
“It is possible to eliminate the bridge between the two worlds by crossing to the other side and causing a massive explosion of energy. When that is completed, the unstable flow of cracks naturally disappears.”
In the past, the descendants of the Inwang’s aides had quickly hunted the monsters that came out of the cracks. Then, just like rush teams, they moved to the world beyond the cracks and cleared out the beasts inside. Finally, they’d used their energy to stabilize the currents that caused the cracks before returning.
The descendants were scattered all over the world, but they did not enjoy particularly close interactions with each other. They only took care of rifts near them and left cracks closer to other descendants alone.
“Whenever a cycle finished, it took around a century or two before the wiped-out beasts could naturally recover, and mankind flourished during those peaceful times. Those were recorded as periods of growth and recovery for each culture. Isn’t it pretty interesting?”
“This means that…” Yoo-seong’s voice hardened as he realized something. “This time, you guys have cheated mankind.” He stared at Jin Wei-baek. “All of you collaborated and lied together. That’s why this situation is happening now.”
“We didn’t. Surprisingly,” Jin Wei-baek answered nonchalantly as he pulled out a napkin to wipe his lips.
“I swear, from twenty years before this cycle began until now, I have never spoken to the other descendants. Even if there were occasional opportunities for contact.”
“Nonsense. Without speaking to each other, why the hell would all of you behave like this…?”
“Quick,” Jin Wei-baek laughed bitterly, “what do you think would be a plausible reason? You tell me.”
“First of all, this peaceful interval was longer than any other cycle. A thousand years have passed since the last one. Perhaps the descendants have forgotten their duties during that time.”
However, that wasn’t the right answer.
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When Yoo-seong thought hard about it, he realized the real reason.
“In the nineteenth century…”
Jin Wei-baek simply chuckled. “It’s taken quite a long time to remember the exact year, but yes. It was a time of upheaval in human history, and I can clearly remember the feeling that the times were changing. We, the descendants, were standing at the crossroads of human history.”
The era of mass production and societal change toward equality had begun. Tech, which were previously objects of worship and mystery, began to be stigmatized as evil superstitions that could break the stability of the majority. The descendants had been forced to decide. Should they actively appeal for their existence against the trend of the times?
Or else…
“We accepted that we could not stop the tide and retreated, hidden in obscurity. Some wars cannot be won. And now, we are here.”
Yoo-seong nodded.
When gathered together, the weak have tremendous power. A unified public opinion was more powerful than any Tech. If the public had wanted to progress through the boom of technology and industry…
For the descendants, the best solution had been to keep their existence hidden to avoid the public eye.
But twenty years ago, after a thousand years of peace, their time had come once more. The descendants soon became heroes.
The reemergence of Tech had seemed like a miracle. Moreover, the speed and range of twenty-first-century communication channels had allowed the descendants to enjoy the world’s enthusiastic admiration.
The descendants of King Inwang’s aides had turned into heroes.
“Honestly, it was fun,” Jin Wei-baek confessed. “Decades ago, I thought that the growth of martial arts would be my only joy, but the fame and glory hunting brought me was something martial arts never gave me in my three-centuries-long lifetime.”
If Jin Wei-baek felt this way, could it have been different for the other descendants? They had been alienated and forced to hide for centuries. Now, they were regarded as heroes.
The emergence of rifts had been an opportunity to reign over the world. Just like that, even without talking to each other, the descendants had unanimously agreed.
They had concealed their fangs and turned away from their real prey.
Instead, they had enjoyed the fame and glory of hunting.
“Anyway, if it weren’t for us, humanity would have been extinct immediately.”
“That’s no excuse,” Yoo-seong replied right away. “No matter what you say, it doesn’t change the fact that you guys neglected your duties.”
“You’re talking pretty big.”
“Even if you were hungry for wealth and fame, you could still have taken care of your full responsibilities.”
“But if we had, the fame and glory wouldn’t have been as much as we enjoy now. Besides,”—Jin Wei-baek’s eyes dug deep into Yoo-seong’s—”isn’t the power you have now, all the things you enjoy and will enjoy in the future, also the result of that ‘neglect?’”
Yoo-seong was stunned. The realization made him speechless for a few moments.
Then he opened his mouth.
“It does not matter now,” he said with a firm voice. “If I had been you twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have done what you did.”
“Because of your sublime ‘principles?’” Jin Wei-baek smiled.
Yoo-seong thought they were far from sublime. They also weren’t cool enough to be called principles.
Rather, it was just… an obsession.
“I could have done it, but I didn’t. This is why all these disasters are happening right now,” Jin Wei-baek remarked.
“By my standards,” Yoo-seong raised his voice, “what you did was disgusting enough that I could spit on your face.”
He spoke with an undeniably provocative tone.
According to what Yoo-seong had heard so far, Jin Wei-baek was far crueler and more dangerous than he had initially thought. Yoo-seong acting passively to what he’d just heard was not a guarantee that the old man wouldn’t do anything dangerous.
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He would rather end this by his own hands.
“From now on, no matter what happens here, you cannot stop me from what I will do. I will inform the world of what you and the other descendants should have.”
“Are you ready to deal with the aftermath? And even if what you’re about to tell them is the truth, do you think hunters will listen to you?”
“That’s not a problem for you to care about.”
Yoo-seong raised his Aura. He looked sideways and thought of the people in the kitchen. Fortunately, he and Jin Wei-baek were the only people in the room.
“Either disappear right in front of my eyes or try to stop me. I don’t care what you choose. I will do my job.”
Jin Wei-baek’s nature, as Yoo-seong knew, wasn’t the type that could endure these insults. So he quickly moved and pressed the button. However…
Auto-Hunt did not move.
‘Is it waiting for an opportunity to counter-attack?’ Yoo-seong thought.
“One of the powers you have is the trick of pissing people off with your words,” Jin Wei-baek said. “But then, that is also why I chose you,” the old man added.
“I just told you before. I was trying to hand the job over to you. You must have forgotten.”
Rather than forgetting, it was more accurate to say that the story Jin Wei-baek shared about the descendants had overshadowed what he’d said before it.
“It’s not just about the wealth that Tenz has… Yes, you are right. I…” Jin Wei-baek hesitated before continuing. “I am a disgusting human.”
Yoo-seong was shocked.
It was hard to believe that Jin Wei-baek was even capable of criticizing himself. However, the old man looked sincere.
“At some point, I thought about it and realized I had defiled the name Cheonma.”
So he had thought to pass on his name, authority, and duty to someone else.
“But the problem was, who to pass it on to? Of course, there weren’t any candidates strong enough to catch my eye. Also, the person had to know about the old history, or at least be willing enough to study it and accept it as the truth.”
However, he hadn’t found anyone.
“I needed someone who could understand his duty yet was talented enough to stand above everyone. But it was impossible to find anyone. None of the talents born in this era wanted anything but to be the top hunter. Who would choose to live as a servant of Inwang?”
So, Jin Wei-baek had exhausted himself trying to look for a successor.
Just as he was about to give up, though, he had discovered something.
In a little corner of the East, he’d heard the news that the Pacheonma Geukki had been stolen and used by an unheard-of name. He sent his men to deal with it, but they’d failed terribly.
Finally, he’d decided to put himself on a plane to Korea.
He had thought of Yoo-seong as mere entertainment. However, what he encountered was a one-of-a-kind monster.
“I would have ruthlessly ended your life, but when I realized what I was looking at…”
From the time Yoo-seong came out after completing his first dive, Jin Wei-baek had already identified him as his successor. That was also the real reason he had induced Yoo-seong to come to China. Chinese hunters would bow their heads to the strongest, even if they were a foreigner. If Yoo-seong had developed a reputation in China, it would have eventually become easier for him to inherit Tenz.
“That makes sense…”
“Of course, I didn’t think it would happen overnight. I’m not an idiot. I was expecting it to manifest in ten years. But your growth was unexpectedly fast.”
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Yoo-seong was a cut above the rest, right from his first spontaneous operation in China.
Hunting one of the deadliest monsters, a Peril, alone.
In the Shanghai Shock, he had become a hero.
“And your work with the Red Dragon Society was decisive.”
“Why so?”
“Well, Yang Jeong-cheon lost one arm in a battle against you, but he seemed to harbor no ill feelings. Besides, his successor, his only daughter, seems to be addicted to you. Isn’t that enough?”
Even if Yoo-seong had become the son-in-law of the Red Dragon Society, it would not have stopped Jin Wei-baek’s plans.
“The Red Dragon is a group with a long history. They are not descendants, but they have their own fairly decent spirit and reputation. Getting their support was an irreplaceable foundation, even if you aren’t Chinese.”
“If that happened… it would be like The Red Dragon Society acquiring Tenz.”
“It does not matter, as long as the Chunma’s original duties and roles are fulfilled. My predecessors would have been more ashamed of the state of Tenz now than if it belonged under the Red Dragon.”
“That’s why I asked you to take the Scissors and the Needle out a little earlier than planned. It also allowed me time to prepare for your return.”
While Yoo-seong was gone, Jin Wei-baek had prepared to hand over everything to Yoo-seong upon his return. However, he misjudged the situation. When he declared that Yoo-seong was going to be the next Cheonma, and Tenz would begin to prevent cracks like descendants were supposed to, the officials within Tenz did not complain to him. Instead…
They reported him to the Chinese government and distorted the truth.
“The Party immediately dispatched a manhunt. The heads of other organizations, more than half of the Ship Zones… even officials of our organization joined forces to catch me.”
Jin Wei-baek wasn’t looking at Yoo-seong.
His students, who had followed him all their lives, to whom he taught the old history and who certainly knew his intentions, had betrayed him.
“I won’t lose to them,” Jin Wei-baek said, his voice heavy, “but I can’t use my hand against them.”
No matter how unprecedented the allied forces were, he was formidable enough to wipe them out.
However, even he couldn’t fight them.
He wasn’t angry at the betrayal. Rather, he was hurt.
“My pupils… they hated me.”
Jin Wei-baek felt the ugliness of his karma. For the first time in his life, he had retreated in battle. He felt both miserable and lonely.
They were silent for a while. Then Jin Wei-baek suddenly raised his head.
Not toward Yoo-seong. His eyes were looking through the restaurant’s window.
“Damn,” Yoo-seong said as he stood and faced the same direction Jin Wei-baek was looking.
“Hmm… it won’t be just those four. Everyone is probably here. They have always hunted me together.”
Of course, they weren’t really hunting Jin Wei-baek. He had been avoiding fights all this time. They were simply chasing him.
Yoo-seong turned to the old man. “Are you planning to just sit here silently? Don’t run away this time.”
“Do you need me to help you fight them?”
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“No. You have no right to use violence in this country.” Yoo-seong turned and began walking out of the restaurant. “But you can do as much as you can to protect those who may be injured. No matter how big of a coward you are.”
The restaurant employees and the civilians around the restaurant. Jin Wei-baek could certainly protect them, even if he chose not to fight.
Without waiting for his answer, Yoo-seong left the restaurant.
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