The Returner Chapter 28
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*SFX for a car coming to a screeching halt*
A white luxury sedan turned around the street corner violently, before coming to an abrupt stop.
When the driver's door opened, Choi Jung-Hoon exited with a face several shades darker than usual.
The only thing escaping from his mouth was a long, long sigh, while only expressions he could form were ones of sorrow and anguish.
Just what kind of rotten, accursed situation was this, to have Gates appear almost nonstop? Seriously, did the heavens not know the ridiculous amount of paperwork he had to go through every time a dang Gate opened?!
'Looks like I'll get to see the inside of my house in a week's time…' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
His office felt more like a home to him compared to his actual house.
The bed in his house was too comfortable and soft, and he couldn't fall asleep on it anymore. You see, a real bed should be like the bunk bed found tucked away in the damp corner of his office - the one that was hard as a rock against his back, hard enough to give him a severe case of back cramp when he woke up in the morning.
"Yes, loyalty." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Soldiers were saluting him from all sides, but Choi Jung-Hoon was in no mood to pay them attention and greeted back in a sloppy manner.
The Defcom soldiers had arrived well before he had, and cordoned off the entire area in a water-tight formation.
"Okay, so what is happening here?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"That's what I'd like to know…" (The adjutant)
It was the familiar adjutant of Jeong In-Soo who started explaining the situation to him.
"Are all personnel in position?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Our people are getting into position as we speak." (The adjutant)
"What about the Commander? Where is he?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"He said he wanted to confirm something and left a short while ago. I don't know where he could be right at this moment, however. Should I hail him on the comm?" (The adjutant)
"No, it's fine. I was just curious." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"And the ability users? Are they coming?" (The adjutant)
"They should be arriving soon. So, does that mean all the preparations have been completed?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Well, there is this other thing…" (The adjutant)
Suddenly, the adjutant became hesitant and couldn't carry on.
"What's the matter?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"I think it'll be better to see for yourself." (The adjutant)
Choi Jung-Hoon could feel the worms of worry slowly crawl up his backside.
Simply by looking at the troubled expression of the adjutant, he could tell something had gone wrong very badly somewhere.
'Wait, now I remember…' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Didn't his boss lady say that Yi Ji-Hyuk would be here too?
Excluding the headache-inducing Yi Ji-Hyuk, there shouldn't be any other sources of trouble within the operations area. He was dead certain of this!
Inevitably, an insistent headache began its invasion of Choi Jung-Hoon's head, but he still decided to follow after the adjutant so he could see what was what.
But, after he scythed past the perfectly-arranged defensive lines set up around the Gate and arrived at the 'troublesome' location, he had to question what he saw there was happening for real.
'What the h.e.l.l is this?' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
How could he explain the sight laid out in front of him?
That, that was just…
In all honesty, one couldn't really proclaim that was a ma.s.sive problem. No, it really wasn't on the level of someone completely losing his sh*t over the absurdity of the situation, nor doing something utterly incredulous because of it. Not even that…
Well, it certainly wasn't that…
What Choi Jung-Hoon's eyes saw was the back of the crouching Yi Ji-Hyuk, busy doing something.
And about three steps away from that strangely-annoying backside, Doh Gah-Yun stood still, with a hint of a weird expression on her face.
'Oh, so even that girl can make such an expression, huh.' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
To think, he'd get to see the 'deadpan personified' Doh Gah-Yun's eyebrows twitch like that. He felt quite certain that this was a sight he would never get to see again for the rest of his life.
But, besides all that - what on earth was that guy doing now?
Choi Jung-Hoon let off a fake cough, and approached Yi Ji-Hyuk.
When he got close enough, he could see the youth squatting down on a small stool usually found in a communal bathhouse, and over his slouched shoulders, a small video game console.
Yi Ji-Hyuk's back shook and trembled in real time as he moved the small joystick with his fingers.
*SFX for fingers pressing down on the plastic b.u.t.tons*
Currently, Yi Ji-Hyuk was sitting down in front of game console located out in front of a shop and busy playing an arcade-style beat 'em-up.
…With a dang Gate less than a couple dozen metres away.
And, with an army of heavily armed soldiers surrounding the area, to boot!!
Right then, Choi Jung-Hoon felt a strong urge to split open Yi Ji-Hyuk's head with an axe.
'Just what the h.e.l.l is that man thinking?!' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Understandably so, everyone around the youth carried expressions of deep confusion and uncertainty, not knowing how to stop this nonsense from continuing on, but realising that they couldn't let this go on, either.
Choi Jung-Hoon facepalmed.
This was like a slap in the face of the dedicated servants of the Korean military.
Transcending past the organisational loyalty, even Choi Jung-Hoon was beginning to feel a deep sense of sympathy for the soldiers here.
Really now, just where would they have come across such an utterly nonsensical situation like this one? Never, that's what.
One of the officers watching this situation with a stupefied face walked over to Choi Jung-Hoon and talked to him.
"So, you've arrived."
"Yes, sir. I see that nothing much has… No, wait. Something is happening, isn't it? For sure, it's happening right now…" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
The officer sighed out with a haggard face.
"Is he one of yours?"
"No, not even close. Really, he isn't!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon desperately denied it.
After all, the honour and reputation of the KSF was on the line here.
"But, one of your people brought him here, so how can he be not your guy?"
"It's kind of complicated, actually…" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Okay, sure, fine. I get it, so please do something about him, will ya? I'm telling you right now, if the Colonel claps his eyes on that, we are all dead meat, you hear?"
"Yes sir, I understand 100%." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon bowed his head 90 degrees, and hurriedly went over to Yi Ji-Hyuk.
However, what could he actually do here, realistically speaking?
"Heu, heum!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Eh?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his head after hearing Choi Jung-Hoon's cough.
"Oh, it's you again, ahjussi." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Yes, it is." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Annnd, that was the end of that.
Yi Ji-Hyuk must've thought that his greeting was sufficient enough, because he proceeded to ignore Choi Jung-Hoon from then on and re-focused his concentration back on the game.
'Holy cow. Even a stray dog pa.s.sing by would show more interest than you…' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon breathed in deeply several times.
'Remember, calm my mind!! Calmness!!' (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon had realised from early on that he shouldn't react to everything Yi Ji-Hyuk did, otherwise his lifespan would be drastically cut short.
However…. besides Yi Ji-Hyuk being Yi Ji-Hyuk, the TV screen continued to bother him ever so slightly.
'Hey, isn't that Iron Fist Tournament 6?' (TL: It's Tekken, by the way…)
He played that a lot before he started on this job…
There was once a time when, while living in Noryangjin to prepare for the Higher Civil Service Examination, he had spent countless days and nights playing the famed Iron Fist Tournament to raise his fighting spirit in a certain arcade often referred to as the Mecca of all fighting games. (TL: Noryangjin-dong is a suburb in the city of Seoul, well known for its fish markets.)
Of course, they were all a distant, if pleasant, memories now.
As he was now, he couldn't even go home, so where would he even find the spare time to play video games? h.e.l.l, there was a big pile of unplayed games with their original wrappers still intact, gathering dust at home.
"Kekekeke." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smiled odiously and began performing a combo.
"Excuse me, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Please don't answer while you're digging wax out of your ear. Please don't…
That's a basic etiquette while talking to another person, you punk a*s SOB… (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
Choi Jung-Hoon's mind was rapidly filling up with things he wanted to retort with.
"Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, we're in the operations area." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Yeah, I also heard something like that before." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"If so, then why are you playing a game here, of all places?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk replied while not even looking at his conversation partner.
"This little lady here said she will give me money if I followed her, so I came. But, as it turns out, there isn't anything I can do. Naturally, I got bored, but then I saw this machine here, so I was like, why not." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Ah, so that's what happened." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Please, can't you behave like a normal person, at least?!
Like a normal person, man!!
Is it that difficult to act like a normal human being?
I mean, all you have to do is, not do what other people are not doing!! Is it really that difficult?! (Choi Jung-Hoon's inner monologue)
Choi Jung-Hoon was getting rather proficient in screaming only in his head.
"By the way, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Please speak." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Soon, a military operation will begin. Are you planning to continue playing that game here?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Oh? Does that mean I can leave now?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Excuse me?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Actually, I wanted to finish up and leave long ago, but this little lady hasn't given me my money yet, you see? Well, it's not like I'm waiting for something around here anyways, so, as soon as I get my promised cash, I'll bounce outta here." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Wordlessly, Choi Jung-Hoon s.h.i.+fted his gaze towards Doh Gah-Yun.
Unfortunately, she 'denied' his pleading eyes.
"But, why not?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Not the time yet!" (Gah-Yun)
Seeing her determined reaction, Choi Jung-Hoon could only sigh out in helplessness.
"Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, this place will soon turn into a sea of bullets and monsters." (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"I also wanna stop, but it won't let me and I keep winning, as you can see. Is it because my skills are just too amazing or something?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon's face reddened up considerably.
Was he really proclaiming publicly that he got some mad skillz, when all he did was to beat up some hapless AI opponents? Really now?
With such pathetic skills?
Choi Jung-Hoon decided to endure just one more time.
"I'll give you that money myself, so how about quitting the game?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Eiii, money isn't really important right now. Did you see me pulling off that combo, right there? You might not know this, but I used to kick some a*s at this game way back when." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Oh, so you kicked a*s, you say?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon smirked.
He was trying his best to endure, but even that had finally reached its limit now.
He thought he had grown past such things, yet, seeing that his soul was burning up with a compet.i.tive spirit, he obviously hadn't. For sure, his itching hands let him know that they hadn't forgotten about the 'Wind G.o.d' just yet. (TL: LOL. Any Tekken fans reading this out there?)
Finally…. the time had come for the real man to step up, and instil fear of adults into the heart of this young pup that clearly lacked respect towards his elders.
So, let's see.
There was still some time left before the Gate was scheduled to open up completely.
After taking him to the cleaners, should Choi Jung-Hoon take charge of setting up the formation with the remaining personnel? Or, should he do that while this superbly irritating man still by his side like a some sort of a mutated leech?
He could pretty much tell which option would prove to be more effective already.
A perfect excuse had been formulated, then.
"Oh, so if you lose, you'll stop immediately?" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Of course. But at this rate, I ain't going to lose." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Oh, really? Well, then…" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon's eyes began to s.h.i.+ne quite dangerously.
The instinctive thirst for victory he had sealed away deep within his heart broke past his nice black business suit, and soared high up into the heavens.
He even tossed back his neatly-combed hair lightly, and loosened his necktie, too.
"Hmm?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
As if he had sensed something suspicious was about to happen, Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at his new challenger, Choi Jung-Hoon, with a tense pair of eyes.
"Well, then. Allow me…" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
And it was at this very moment when an unavoidable war between grown men began in earnest.
"….To show you what defeat truly means."
She believed in him.
Sure, she did nag him constantly all the time, but…
She trusted his skill set. She trusted his abilities to get things done. She even believed in his maturity.
He was the best elite of the KSF currently.
He was a man who had secured the top spot within the KSF, which was full of ability users, with nothing more than his skills and ac.u.men.
He was a man who embodied the hopes and dreams of all non-ability users out there.
Yes, he was that kind of a man.
Because he was a person like that, she could nag, get angry, and get irritated at him.
Because… he was a man with a big, big heart who could take all those in, no problem!
However, right now…
Her trust, her belief in that man… it was slowly crumbling to bits and pieces.
Utterly dumbfounded, the speechless Seo Ah-Young was dazedly staring at the scene unfolding right before her eyes.
A horrifying scene, where dozens of guys were huddling together in such a display of camaraderie.
And in the middle of this crowd, two men glued to a small video game console that was clearly meant for kids and teenagers.
No, she could somehow understand up until that part. More specifically, she was doing her absolute best to understand it.
But… what she just could not gloss over was the fact that a man in his early thirties was screaming blue murder with a reddened face, at a guy who was almost a decade younger than him.
"Hey, I told you to stop pus.h.i.+ng my arm!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"It's too cramped in here, so what can I do?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Why do you keep on pus.h.i.+ng my arm around? Seriously, man! Uncool!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"I keep telling you, it's too cramped here." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Wow, I had no idea you were such a dirty player! Seriously now?!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"I said, it's too cramped in here!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon's shouts were filled with irritation and anguish.
His skills alone would've crushed this youth for sure. But as it turned out, the opponent played real dirty.
Whenever a critical situation in the match arrived, he'd pretend to press the b.u.t.ton really hard and flexed his right elbow, which conveniently got in the way and pushed at Choi Jung-Hoon's hand gripping the joystick!!
Just what type of gaming etiquette was this c.r.a.p!!
However, to cry foul now… let's just say that the game console in front of them was indeed a little too small for two grown-a*s men to enjoy a battle of life and death.
Its design meant their shoulders would rub against each other, and it was also true their elbows could invade each other's s.p.a.ces inadvertently, too.
But, if it was only this much, Choi Jung-Hoon wouldn't be this incensed right now.
This SOB here went beyond that; Yi Ji-Hyuk somehow managed to use the situation to his advantage and constantly obstructed him from controlling his character!
"I told you to stop hitting my arm!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Eiii, me thinks you're losing not because of that, though?" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"What did you say?! Without you hitting my arm all the time, I'd have won already!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Wow, your excuses are being updated in real time! Looks like it's the latest version, too." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"What! But it's the truth, isn't it?! Why do you only push my arm away when it's the critical phase in the match?!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"That's because I'm giving it my best during such moments!!" (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"Wah!!! This is beyond too much!! Okay, let's swap seats, then!!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly.
"I~ don't~ want~ to~." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"No, just once! Just one time, let's swap our seats and have a go! I do really mean it this time! Just one more match!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
"Come on, now. I'm sure you could have won a round if you stopped saying 'one more, one more' already. Aigoo~, you're airborne again? In that case, please die." (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
"What the f*ck!! Really now?! Are you going to keep playing c.r.a.p like this?!" (Choi Jung-Hoon)
It was just about around there, when something-something snapped inside Seo Ah-Young's mind.
And that just so happened to be her reasoning. The snapped-broken reasoning transformed into the mighty roar of a lioness and exploded out from her mouth.
< 28.="" allow="" me="" to="" show="" what="" defeat="" truly="" means="" -3=""> Fin.
The Returner Chapter 28
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The Returner Chapter 28 summary
You're reading The Returner Chapter 28. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: 라엘 already has 2138 views.
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