Auto Hunting - Chapter 174
When the Special Defense agents arrived at the baekban restaurant, Yoo-seong was sitting comfortably with food laid out before him.
“Please, take them,” Yoo-seong said as he put bean sprouts in his mouth.
He pointed toward five hunters stretched side by side on the marble floor.
“I heard that the two men who attacked me at the hospital last time had been repatriated, correct?”
“Yes, yes.” The team leader of the Special Defense Agents nodded.
“I doubt the Director knew about that. This time,”—Yoo-seong stared at the agent—”make sure they stay here.”
“No matter how much the Chinese offer you, without my or the Director’s permission, these people must remain detained in the Special Defense Bureau.”
Yoo-seong’s words weren’t just directed to the team leader and the agents. He was trying to prevent external pressure that might be exerted from outside the Special Defense Bureau.
Originally, Yoo-seong, a mere ‘hunter,’ would not have been in a position to order this of a public official. However, now Yoo-seong carried much more authority and responsibility than the usual hunter.
Would it benefit him or lead to a disaster? Even Yoo-seong wasn’t sure of the answer.
“What are you gonna do?” he asked himself.
“Ah, no, no. I was just muttering to myself.”
Yoo-seong slowly looked around the restaurant.
Jin Wei-baek had already been gone when he returned. However, he found out what happened through the woman in the kitchen.
Jin Wei-baek had remained in position and only left after confirming that every civilian in the area was safe.
“Then,” Yoo-seong stood. “Please tell the Director I need to go somewhere before meeting him.”
The team leader opened his mouth to ask where but immediately closed it as he realized it would be a silly question.
All the agents in the room knew where Yoo-seong was going.
He was a hunter, after all.
Suwon was a real mess.
It wasn’t that there were casualties from the unclosed crack. The evacuation had been done successfully, the barrier lines were installed without any problems, and the rotation of hunter teams was going smoothly.
Of course, the accumulated fatigue was a separate story, but everything was going well on the hunters’ side, all things considered.
-Are they not done yet?
-You’ve been doing this all weekend? How much longer do you guys need?
-It would have been good if we had been notified in advance…
No matter how familiar the citizens were with evacuation, an unclosed crack was a new and entirely different matter.
People felt anxious when placed in dangerous and unfamiliar situations. When groups of anxious people were trapped in a place, it was inevitable that various violent riots and troubles would begin occurring throughout the evacuation area.
Atop a skyscraper outside the blocking line, Lee Jae-hak was looking down, silent and deep in thought. He was going to be deployed.
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For a whole shift, from 8 am to 5 pm, he would fill the rotation by himself, having recently obtained the “Single” qualification.
For the weary hunters, he was like a savior. In fact, he had been treated as such in the command center just earlier.
But at times like this, when he was alone… How he felt about himself was something no one else knew.
Lee Jae-hak turned, his muscles tense.
He felt someone approach. However, as soon as he saw who it was, the alertness he felt melted like snow. Instead…
Lee Jae-hak’s knees touched the floor.
The other person looked embarrassed.
“You don’t need to do this…”
However, Lee Jae-hak’s gesture wasn’t over yet. Both of his palms touched the ground, and soon, he lowered his body.
If Lee Un-seol had seen her brother bowing before another man, she would probably have attacked the other person in shock. However, she wasn’t here to see it. There was no one else around but Lee Jae-hak and Oh Yoo-seong.
“You have done more than enough to receive this gesture,” Lee Jae-hak explained.
“Even so… it’s too old-fashioned and burdensome.”
“You think so?”
Lee Jae-hak smiled as he raised his body. He was feeling very pleased about this meeting; however, Yoo-seong raised his hand with a grim face.
After about ten minutes, Yoo-seong had completely summarized the situation and explained it to Lee Jae-hak.
“Yes…” Lee Jae-hak nodded when Yoo-seong finished. “The oldest lineage protecting this land. The Lee family inherited the duties of the descendants. I inherited them. Rather, I should have inherited them.”
“I see…” Yoo-seong answered.
‘-I should have inherited them.’
Yoo-seong knew what he meant.
Lee Jae-hak hadn’t been able to receive the Tech and the duty that had been passed down from generation to generation.
The Japanese Sukune clan had stolen their family’s Tech.
“It’s not just the Ki that hasn’t been passed on. I knew the story of Inwang, but it was only passed on at the level of a child’s fairy tale. If you hadn’t told me about it…”
After a few moments of silence, Lee Jae-hak began to speak excitedly. “But it is what it is. I don’t intend to make an excuse. It is my duty. I don’t know how, but I know for sure that I need to end this situation.”
Yoo-seong was listening to him quietly.
Lee Jae-hak’s response was so different from Jin Wei-baek’s. He had lived without enjoying all the things he should have inherited.
All that existed within him was the family’s Psy.
Of course, that alone was a huge advantage, but when Lee Jae-hak was born, his family had already reached the end of the road. His parents were dead, and they didn’t have property, they didn’t even have the knowledge of how to use the Psy.
The only thing left to Lee Jae-hak was his sister.
What could he have done? He wasn’t even a hunter then. If he’d gone to the Special Defense Agency and told them the facts he knew, would they have helped him?
And so, Lee Jae-hak made a reasonable choice.
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He had lived life as an orphan and trained to be a hunter.
At least he’d had Psy. He hadn’t known how to use it, but he’d tried hard to make up for that. Every night, he’d stayed in the training room while forcibly suppressing the Ice Psy that was running wild within him.
Finally, one day, he had grown strong enough to be the best hunter in Korea.
“People regard me as a hero. But I know I’m not one. A real hero would talk about the story his father told him when he was a kid.”
“So… did you do something about it?” Yoo-seong asked.
“No.” Lee Jae-hak smiled sadly. “I couldn’t. I’m scared.”
“What are you scared of?”
“Everything. For example, other descendants, like Tenz. Not all families were destroyed like ours. So revealing the truth could mean turning them all into enemies, right?”
Lee Jae-hak turned around and looked down at Suwon.
“Those people… how would they react to me? The hunters will say that I’m trying to kill the industry by shutting it down. Plus, it’s not just people who became hunters for money. Some of them lost their family to beasts and became hunters to avenge them.”
“That’s not your responsibility,” Yoo-seong reminded him.
“That is true. Still, arrows don’t always fly toward the correct target.”
There was a short silence. Then Yoo-seong opened his mouth.
“I’ll do it.”
“…perhaps you can. A person like me can’t even dream of it. When are you planning to start?”
“Today, I plan to wipe out those beyond the cracks. After that, I’ll let the people know what I know. It will be the end.”
Lee Jae-hak visibly flinched. His voice trembled as he spoke to Yoo-seong.
“The backlash will be more than you can imagine.”
“The descendant families… everyone will make you their enemy.”
“They will,” Yoo-seong interrupted Lee Jae-hak. “But there’s only one thing that matters to me.”
He had no intention of forcing Lee Jae-hak to join him.
“Will you stop me? Or will you just watch from the sidelines?”
Lee Jae-hak considered before answering.
“What if I stopped you?”
“Then you would have to fight me. What must happen will happen.”
From the moment Yoo-seong appeared in this place, he had been prepared to give his all.
A cold breeze blew over the rooftop: the two men, each powerful and strong, locked gazes.
However… nothing more happened.
“Why do you have to stare at me like that?” Lee Jae-hak chuckled and shook his head. “My benefactor in front of me, and I’m acting like a baby,” he added with bitter self-pity.
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“I don’t care much.”
“I do. I’m already a coward; I don’t have to be any more trash than that.”
Lee Jae-hak pointed his arm above the skyscraper toward the unclosed crack.
“Go and do what you want. You didn’t force me, and I don’t have the qualifications to stop you.”
Then Lee Jae-hak stepped aside as if making way for Yoo-seong.
“Thank you,” Yoo-seong said as he walked forward to where Lee Jae-hak stood.
As Lee Jae-hak watched Yoo-seong pass him by, he thought back to when he first saw the young man.
When Yoo-seong first caught Lee Jae-hak’s attention, he’d thought they were the same. Excellent talent, but without any background; surrounded by countless envious criminals, struggling every step of the way. Lee Jae-hak had felt a sense of sameness.
‘But it’s different,’ he realized now.
The reason Yoo-seong could act like he just had was that their positions were different. The burden he carried was far different from Lee Jae-hak’s. Even if the public put them both in the same rank, Yoo-seong was a hero who had overtaken him.
Now, Lee Jae-hak recognized the feeling he had toward Yoo-seong. Yoo-seong was the man he wanted to be.
Since childhood, he had longed for the heroic stories of King Inwang and his subordinates. He’d wanted to be a hero. Now…
In Lee Jae-hak’s mind, uncontrollable emotion and impulse rose.
Goh oh oh oh oh oh-!
Aura soared from his core, aimed in Yoo-seong’s direction.
Lee Jae-hak’s Psy.
The glare of the Millennium Ice, the Lee family’s recovered Tech, filled Yoo-seong’s view.
And after a while, when the flash subsided, a chill began to fill the surroundings.
A path of ice had been built from Lee Jae-hak’s feet, through and beyond where Yoo-seong was.
It continued on to the sky until it reached the crack in the distance.
‘A stairway of ice.’
“Come to think of it,” Lee Jae-hak said. “I had something important to tell you.”
“My family’s Tech, which you recovered. I was thinking about how to pay you off for it…”
“What are you talking about?”
“The technology training center that you are building. I’ve heard the rumors. I don’t know if you’re still going to do it, but if you do…” Lee Jae-hak smiled before finishing, “I will work for you until I think I have paid off my debts.”
“Come on; nobody hates having an employee who doesn’t need to be paid.”
Lee Jae-hak smiled wide.
He could never be Yoo-seong. He wouldn’t be able to walk that path alone.
However, he didn’t have to.
Yoo-seong would walk in front of him, like how his ancestors had followed King Inwang…
“If you hire me… I will devote myself and work hard!”
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