Those words became etched in people’s minds.
They also thought about the information regarding the ‘unranked monsters’ Cale had mentioned.
One person started to speak while everybody was silent.
“Hey. Will we be able to do anything against such a monster even if we go?”
It was Lee Chul Min.
His expression was peaceful and very good compared to during the 24-hour battle a few days ago.
He had his head up as he continued to speak to Cale.
“Kim Rok Soo, according to what you just said, that monster is strong enough to easily destroy a Metropolitan City and the nearby cities. You also said it has some special abilities. Wouldn’t it be better for us to stay here?”
Lee Chul Min continued to speak while looking at Cale as if he could not understand him.
“It’s not like we’re going there to die. Why would we leave a great place like this and……”
Lee Chul Min turned his head to the left after feeling his left cheek getting hot.
He could see Park Jin Tae’s vicious gaze.
He could also see Choi Han standing behind Cale and observing him with an emotionless gaze as well.
“No. What I’m saying is-”
Lee Chul Min urgently looked around at the people inside the meeting room as he continued to speak.
“Will we be enough to take it down? You said that the nearby monsters would start rampaging when the unranked monster appears as well.”
Cale nodded his head without any hesitation. He then added on while looking at the people inside the meeting room.
“The nearby monsters will go wild. They’ll act as if they are excited that their new leader has appeared.”
Bae Cheol-Ho and Park Jin Tae flinched after hearing the word, ‘leader.’
Their gazes clouded over.
“No matter what, it will be a difficult situation.”
Bae Cheol-Ho calmly stated as he looked toward Cale.
“Rok Soo. Emotionally, I want to go with you to Seomyeon, Busan. You said that these monsters are the only ones that could take down these great central shelters-”
Bae Cheol-Ho had felt peace for the first time in a long while once he took a step into this new central shelter.
This was the case for the others as well.
This new central shelter was a castle or a fortress that was large enough for people from 3 – 5 of the original central shelters and all the nearby temporary shelters to use together.
It was almost a small city.
The existence of the unranked monsters that were the only monsters that could destroy this place gave Bae Cheol-Ho’s heart the chills.
But Bae Cheol-Ho started to frown.
“Even if you and Choi Han… And the others are talented… Realistically speaking, us going to Seomyeon, Busan-”
Cale said something at that moment.
“Lee Soo Hyuk.”
The atmosphere in the meeting room instantly changed.
Bae Puh Rum who was at the outskirts of the room opened his eyes wide and looked around.
He then looked toward Kim Min Ah and silently mouthed his question.
‘What’s going on?’
‘I don’t know.’
Kim Min Ah shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
Bae Puh Rum and Kim Min Ah did not know about Lee Soo Hyuk. But they felt odd that just saying his name changed the atmosphere so much.
This was the same for Kim Min Joon as well.
“Lee Soo Hyuk. Who is that person?”
He quietly whispered to Lee Seung Won to ask.
Lee Seung Won, who had been recording the contents of their meeting, debated for a moment before whispering back.
But the meeting room had been so quiet that everybody heard their conversation.
“…He’s someone who set the foundation.”
“There are a lot of people here who are alive thanks to Mister Soo Hyuk.”
Cale started to speak at that moment.
“He saved me as well.”
Kim Min Joon, Kim Min Ah, and Bae Puh Rum’s eyes all opened wide.
‘A person who saved Kim Rok Soo?’
Bae Cheol-Ho gasped as he started to speak.
“Ho. Lee Soo Hyuk is in Seomyeon, Busan?”
Cale could see Park Jin Tae looking at him at that moment.
“Lee Soo Hyuk… did your ability help you locate hyung-nim as well?”
Park Jin Tae’s expression was odd as he asked that question.
His mind seemed to be a complicated mess.
“Yes, it is my ability.”
Cale was completely speaking informally to Park Jin Tae now.
He continued to speak to everybody in the meeting room.
“He is currently at the new central shelter in Seomyeon, Busan.”
Bae Cheol-Ho responded.
“That changes things.”
Even Joo Ho-Shik, who had been quiet, nodded his head.
Lee Soo Hyuk.
That name was something that automatically caused a reaction from people, similar to how the name Kim Rok Soo impacted the people at this shelter now.
Bae Cheol-Ho thought about something as he continued to speak.
“Lee Soo Hyuk is someone who moves around with a lot of people. Whether they are his subordinates or friends… There are bound to be a lot of strong individuals.”
Cale nodded his head.
That was the case.
Currently, there was an oddly large number of ability users at the Seomyeon shelter.
The people there who end up surviving would go on to become the future pillars of Korean ability users.
That was why it was said that it was fate and not a coincidence that the unranked monster had appeared there of all places.
Bae Cheol-Ho debated things for a moment before starting to speak with a heavy expression.
“But we need to protect here as well.”
Bae Cheol-Ho sighed in relief after hearing Cale responding positively.
Cale took a piece of paper out of his pocket.
“That is why I came up with a team to go through with our plans.”
Lee Chul Min subconsciously shouted after hearing that.
“Hey, who are you to decide that on your own?!”
His heart was beating wildly right now.
It had started the moment he heard the name, Lee Soo Hyuk.
If he was to go to Seomyeon, Busan…
Going to Seomyeon wasn’t the problem.
But once he met Lee Soo Hyuk there…
That’s when it would be trouble.
It was clear what that hot-head would do to Lee Chul Min.
‘Wow. Chul Min, you discriminated against people and tormented them if they didn’t have abilities? Oho. You beat up Kim Rok Soo? Was it fun to beat someone up? Chul Min. Do you want to get beaten up too? Hmm? Who are you to beat someone up? Hmm? Chul Min. Are you that desperate to meet the grim reaper?’
Lee Chul Min suddenly started to sweat profusely.
“Hey! I, I-”
‘I can’t go to Seomyeon, take me out!’
That was what he wanted to shout.
Lee Chul Min flinched and started to shake after hearing Park Jin Tae’s low voice.
But he still managed to look toward him.
He was saying something with his eyes.
‘Leader-nim. Lee Soo Hyuk is there! Will we be okay?’
But Park Jin Tae did not understand anything Lee Chul Min’s gaze was telling him.
It was because Park Jin Tae’s mind was a complicated mess with a different thought right now.
Lee Chul Min felt extremely frustrated as if he had stuffed 10 sweet potatoes in his mouth without any water.
It was at that moment.
Choi Han slightly clenched his scabbard.
Lee Chul Min noticed it and saw that Choi Han was looking at him.
‘This bastard is even crueler and scarier than Lee Soo Hyuk. I can’t believe I feel this way about a damn high schooler!’
Lee Chul Min was shouting internally but lowered his head without saying anything out loud.
Lee Chul Min then remained silent.
Cale blankly stared at Lee Chul Min who started to talk and shut up on his own before starting to speak again.
“Of course, please feel free to tell me if you don’t like the team that I created. I will modify it right away.”
Cale then revealed the team members.
They would split into two, with one team protecting this place while the other team would go to Seomyeon, Busan.
Once he revealed the list…
There was nobody who opposed his decision.
* * *
On the highway connecting Seoul and Busan…
This place that had a vast highway just a year ago did not look the same anymore as it was now a damaged highway with abandoned cars.
It showed how urgently people had run away.
It showed that something big had happened to destroy the road that was a foundational amenity of society.
It just showed an extremely desolate scene.
The cars throughout the destroyed highway were either crushed or destroyed and did not have any semblance of their original shapes.
“Aigoo, looks like the sun is about to go down already! Let’s hurry up and move them!”
Five people were pulling and pushing cars that were blocking a tunnel to one spot.
“Phew. I’m just glad this tunnel is only half destroyed. There should be no monsters coming from the other side.”
“Exactly. So hurry up and move your ass!”
The five people moved the cars into a circle formation to create walls around them.
“Hey, Mr. Kim! Hurry up and move!”
“Aigoo. Can’t you see that I’m already moving as fast as I can? Your nagging is getting worse and worse!”
The man called Mister Kim was grumbling as he pushed the car.
He then started to speak to the young man standing next to him.
“Jung Soo. It’s hard, eh?” (They start to talk in a regional dialect called satoori every so often starting from this part. Think about American southern twang for comparison. But I can’t use the southern twang since they are in Korea so I’m going to do what I think is most appropriate for each sentence. Some typos will be done on purpose to make it similar to the Korean. )
The young man named Jung Soo smiled at him.
He was a guy whose bulky stature was easily noticeable.
Mister Kim continued to speak to the young man.
“Hehe. How come I thank that martial arts and strength is better than having an ability?”
The young man smiled after hearing the man’s jovial voice.
“I’m a bit better than an ability user like you, eh mister?”
“Yes you are, you are!”
Mister Kim responded with a grumbling expression before sighing.
“We have to hurry up and get to Busan.”
“You said your family is there?”
“Yeah. My daughter and wife are in Busan. I was up north for construction work when……”
Mr. Kim couldn’t keep speaking.
He quickly changed topics.
“Din’t you say Busan is not your hometown?”
“It’s not. I am going there because it’s een a similar direction.”
There was a faint shadow visible on Choi Jung Soo’s face as he responded with an innocent smile.
‘I need to hurry up and get home.’
He needed to quickly get home.
But it would not be easy to go straight to his hometown with his strength and ability.
He could only join other people’s groups and move with them, making him move in the wrong direction and stop frequently.
He then luckily ran into people who were heading to Busan and the five of them were helping each other out on the way there.
‘I’m sure I can find people heading to Gyeongnam from Busan.’
Then he would look for other people going in the same direction to make it back to his hometown.
Choi Jung Soo firmed his resolve.
That was his only goal right now.
“Hey, Mr. Kim! Are you not going to work?”
“Aigooma! Why are you just nagging on me?! Jung Soo is here with me too!”
“Is Jung Soo the type of person to slack off? He just can’t work because he’s responding to you! We need to create a spot to sleep before the sun goes down!”
“F, fine, I got it!”
Mister Kim started to shake his head.
“…Hey Jung Soo, let’s hurry up.”
Mister Kim chuckled after seeing Jung Soo smiling brightly and pushed the car toward the direction of the tunnel entrance.
It was at that moment.
The kid who was standing watch nearby removed the binoculars from his eyes and raised his hand.
The four adults quickly took their hands off the cars.
“Did you say a monster?”
They all turned toward the direction the child was looking.
They then subconsciously took steps back.
Boom. Boom-, boom!
The ground was shaking.
A large black thing was charging forward on this road that was uneven with pieces of asphalt shooting up from being destroyed.
This black thing that was coming from the direction of Seoul was moving extremely quickly.
“Holy shit! What the hell…! That’s an extremely strong monster!”
“Seo Joon! Seo Joon! The binoculars, hand me the binoculars!”
A woman who seemed to be in her late twenties reached her hand toward the child.
The child shouted without being able to hand the binoculars over.
“There are people on that monster’s back! There are two of them!”
The people who were rushing to get into battle formation and planning a way to avoid the monster stopped moving and blankly looked toward Seoul after hearing the child’s comments.
The black thing was getting closer to them at an extremely fast speed.
They could slowly start to see what it was.
Under the red sunset…
The thing running toward them was a black monster that was a mix of a tiger and a lion, and there were two people on the tiger’s back.
They suddenly saw a gust of wind surround the black tiger at that moment and it suddenly accelerated toward them.
“W, what do we do?! I’ve never seen something like this before!”
“E, everybody hide behind the cars for now!”
They quickly gathered behind the incomplete car wall.
They looked ready to run at any moment.
The tiger with its black mane fluttering in the wind arrived in front of the people who were trying to run away.
Then the tiger started to shout.
“Hey, don’t run away! I want to ask you for directions!”
The people who were running away stopped moving.
‘What did we just hear? Did that monster just talk to us?’
They looked at each other.
The Dark Tiger instantly arrived right in front of them and stopped moving.
The tiger’s black eyes looked around at the people.
It then made eye contact with someone.
It was Choi Jung Soo.
The tiger started to speak at that moment.
“Hmm? Isn’t this kid Choi Jung Soo? He looks just as you described him.”
Choi Jung Soo quickly took a step back.
He subconsciously blurted out a question.
“…Wut is going on?”
‘What was going on right now? Why did this tiger monster know his name?’
It was at that moment.
“That’s right, hyung-nim. This guy is Choi Jung Soo.”
Choi Jung Soo raised his head.
He could see two people riding on the tiger.
The extremely skinny person seemed to be around his age while the man in a peculiar outfit behind him seemed slightly younger than him.
Choi Jung Soo’s gaze headed toward the two people who were looking at him with piercing gazes.
He then started to speak in shock.
“…Wut is going on?”
Cale suddenly recalled some memories from his past.
Choi Jung Soo usually spoke normally, but satoori would pop out whenever he was nervous.
Cale started to smile.
He was happy to see this guy.
He truly was.
He was extremely happy.
He was so happy that it was hard to describe with words.
He waved his hand.
Choi Jung Soo’s pupils started to shake.
Cale did not see those pupils as he frowned while looking at Choi Jung Soo’s appearance.
He then nonchalantly commented.
“Have you eaten?”
Choi Jung Soo blankly asked back before slowly shaking his head.
“No, I haven’t.”
Alberu the Dark Tiger watched the two of them chat before saying something.
“You must make sure to eat.”
“Hyung-nim, that is not easy to do. You can only eat if there is food to eat.”
Cale responded to Alberu.
Choi Jung Soo opened his mouth.
But all he could do was gasp.
Choi Jung Soo looked toward the Dark Tiger that was shaking its head and then at Cale who seemed unhappy while looking at his appearance… And then at Choi Han who was emotionless but had shaking pupils before he started to speak again.
He sounded extremely shocked.
“Is this a dream or is this fur real?”