The Returner

Chapter 13: But, I didn’t return to do this! (5)
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Chapter 13: But, I didn’t return to do this! (5)

Yi Ji-Hyuk firmly stepped on the head of the Goblin sprawled on the floor once, before climbing up on its stomach.

“You think I’m an easy mark?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

He raised both of his fists up high, and then, proceeded to pummel the Goblin’s face with them.

Puk! Puk! Puk!

‘Take a gander at that waist.’

Seeing how Yi Ji-Hyuk’s waist bounced about energetically everytime he smashed down with his fist, he must’ve done this several times before. Seriously, his pounding skill was so good that, if he went to the nearest MMA gym right now, the instructor there might give his heartfelt applause.

“Where did a b*stard like you, that would kiss the ground and tremble in fear ten kilometres away if you saw me back in the other place, get the balls to come at me?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Choi Jung-Hoon was overcome with this odd feeling while listening to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s angry, loud rant.

He’s probably talking to the Goblin, right? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s internal monologue)

PukPukPuk!!!

Still not stopping his beatdown on the Goblin, Yi Ji-Hyuk shouted out.

“I said, just when did a weakling like you grow the balls to jump at me, ah?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Definitely, he must be talking to the Goblin.

Definitely, for sure....

But why am I dripping in cold sweat? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s internal monologue)

Whenever the fists landed, the small body of the Goblin rose and fell.

“M, mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Yeah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I, I think it’s probably dead now?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Hearing Choi Jung-Hoon’s words, Yi Ji-Hyuk grabbed the Goblin’s chin and tilted it this way and that, before clicking his tongue.

“Why is it such a weakling?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

‘There’s no way that thing’s a weakling!!’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

An ordinary person would die as soon as running into a Goblin. Well, no matter how hard a human trained, it was still very difficult to win against a single chimpanzee with a similar physical size to a Goblin. Humans were like this against regular animals, so how wide the gap would be between a Goblin, a monster no less, and that of a human?

Even teeth couldn’t sink into the hardened body of a Goblin. Its physical strength alone could break human bones and rip off flesh simply by grabbing hold.

But, to kill a Goblin with a ground & pound?

“As I thought, you are an ability user.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk glared back as if to say, what the hell are you even on about?

“But, I am not?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“So, are you a body enhancement type?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Eh? No, I’m not.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You’re not a body enhancement type, yet you still beat up a monster with your bare hands?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Yi Ji-Hyuk got back up to his feet and kicked the bloodied mess of the Goblin a couple of times.

“No need for special abilities when handling a weakling like this one.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Oh, right. So, you don’t even need abilities to do that.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“I’m telling you, I’m not an user.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

In the middle of this, Colonel Jeong In-Soo climbed up to the roof, having taken care of the Goblin horde down on the ground.

“Just what the hell happened up here?” (Jeong In-Soo)

Since he was on the ground, he couldn’t have seen what transpired up on the roof. All he heard was a report that said the Goblins were neutralised, and that the situation had been resolved.

Colonel Jeong In-Soo frowned deeply after spotting the dead Goblin lying sprawled on the floor.

“What the, you said he was a civilian!” (Jeong In-Soo)

“That’s his current status.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“I was wondering about what made you to bring in a civilian here, but, you should’ve mentioned that he’s an ability user. I worried for nothing.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Oh, sorry about making you worry.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Well, it’s fine.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Colonel Jeong In-Soo took a look at the Goblin’s face and frowned again.

“You have beaten it up real good, haven’t you.” (Jeong In-Soo)

The good Colonel’s eyes then sifted towards Yi Ji-Hyuk’s fists, where large drops of blood could still be seen falling down from them.

“You an ability user?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Nope.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“......”

Even under this kind of circumstances, Yi Ji-Hyuk remained adamant.

“It kinda looks like you’re.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Nope, not an user.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Colonel Jeong In-Soo’s brows quivered.

“What the?! You say you’re not an ability user, even after beating a monster to a bloody pulp? Hey, didn’t you beat this thing up?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“I did.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Then, you’re a bloody ability user!” (Jeong In-Soo)

“But, I’m not.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

This SOB is?! (Jeong In-Soo’s internal monologue)

When Jeong In-Soo’s face reddened up noticeably, Choi Jung-Hoon hurriedly got in the middle between the two men.

“Hahahaha!! Look, Colonel. This guy is not joking with you.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Then, he’s trying to mess with me, is that it?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“No, nonono. I already told you before. He’s currently a normal civilian. Even if he could kill a Goblin or a buffalo with his bare hands, a civilian is still a civilian.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“What the hell are you even talking about? Are you making fun of me?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“I mean, what can we do? The measurement didn’t go past 1000.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“What?” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo was flabbergasted.

What sort of bulls*it was this?

“For real?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Yes. The measurement values came out to around 840. That’s why he’s a civilian.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Ah.......”

Seeing Jeong In-Soo’s head slowly nod in an exaggerated manner, Choi Jung-Hoon breathed out a long sigh.

This guy over here, he didn’t like ability users. Like, hated them.

This guy was one of those headache-inducing individuals who went around picking fights with every ability user he met, while busy yapping on and on about them popping out of nowhere and grind everyone’s gears about fighting monsters and some such, while totally disregarding real soldiers and stuff.

The only reason why Choi Jung-Hoon could talk to Jeong In-Soo was simply because, he was a non-ability user. Being affiliated with the KSF, he was not seen as a civilian, but, because he happened to not be an ability user, some form of communication could be held between the two men.

It was unknown just what might have happened if Yi Ji-Hyuk was introduced as an ability user. So, it was the right call to reveal the truth and get past this matter smoothly. Besides, Jeong In-Soo was....

Jeong In-Soo suddenly stood up straight and saluted at Yi Ji-Hyuk.

“I’d like to apologise. It was a misunderstanding.” (Jeong In-Soo)

....Jeong In-Soo was really cordial towards civilians, after all.

This completely unreasonable and stuck-up man, who wanted nothing more than to cause pain in the neck and misery to every single ability user he met, would suddenly become the politest soldier anyone could ever hope to meet.

‘Gives me goosebumps everytime I see him. And he’s not even suffering from a multiple identity disorder, either...’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

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“Oh, uh, it’s alright.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Even Yi Ji-Hyuk seemed flustered by this sudden change.

“In that case....” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo stopped talking and grinned, before quickly grabbing Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hand.

“Why don’t we enjoy a cup of coffee together?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Eh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Jeong In-Soo’s hand gripped on tighter.

*

“....So, the thing is...” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Hey, you. Don’t you have something to do? How about going away for a bit?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“I’d like to do that as well, but I’ve been tasked to bring this gentleman back home, you see....” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Where is it? Is it far? I can take him for you, instead.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“The thing is, the Captain told me to take a good care of this, so....” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Tell her that I took him home. And if she feels shortchanged by that, then she can come and see me personally. That should do.” (Jeong In-Soo)

The left side of Choi Jung-Hoon’s head began throbbing like hell. A migraine was developing already.

‘Just what the hell is this situation?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Sure, there were no civilian casualties, and damages to nearby buildings had been largely avoided, but still, did it make any sort of sense for the man in charge of the operation to drink coffee with a civilian inside the command centre/tent?

And just why couldn’t he ignore this absurd situation altogether, and instead behave like a total nervous wreck?

The reason was quite simple, actually.

“If I knew you weren’t an ability user, I’d have introduced myself sooner. By the way, how did you kill that Goblin?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“It just came at me, so I beat it up.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Kyah! Of course, of course. If something’s coming at you, then the correct answer is to beat the living daylights out of it. Are your hands okay?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“They are just fine.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“The face of a Goblin might look full of wrinkles and all that, but it’s surprisingly hard. But, you’re still fine after turning that into a meat paste! You must exercise a lot.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Not really, I haven’t exercised that much.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Then, it must be your inborn talent. A talent, I say!” (Jeong In-Soo)

Would you look at his reaction now?

Such a reaction would be accepted just fine on most entertainment shows on air today.

Not even caring whether Choi Jung-Hoon was watching or not, Jeong In-Soo was passionately working his schtick. At this rate, pretty soon they might end up calling each other older brother, younger brother, and go somewhere to share a bottle of soju together.

Of course, there was no way he’d let that happen. How dare that man try to steal a prey he already called dibs on?

Also, why was Yi Ji-Hyuk, who was so full of sarcasm and thorns back at the KSF, behaving so well here, of all places...?

*SFX for snack packets rustling*

*SFX for gulping down food*

*SFX for super-fast chewing*

The sight of Yi Ji-Hyuk literally sucking in cold drink and snacks entered Choi Jung-Hoon’s vision.

‘Ah, so that’s the winning tactic.’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Now that he thought about it, when they first met, Yi Ji-Hyuk did empty out several cans of Cola, and then drank kimchi stew like water, didn’t he?

With that in mind, Choi Jung-Hoon took a second look and found that, although Jeong In-Soo was busy running his mouth off, Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t even really care and threw out one or two simple answers, choosing to devote all his attention on eating only.

*SFX for a loud burp*

After completely emptying out the drinks and snacks, Yi Ji-Hyuk leaned back on the chair and formed a satisfied face.

“So, may I ask just how old you are?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Mm....”

Yi Ji-Hyuk took a sneaky glance at Choi Jung-Hoon.

What? Why?

Do I have to tell you your own age now, too? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)

“According to the birth certificate, he’s 23.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

“Aigoo, you have such a baby-like face. I really thought you were still a high school student.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly got up from his seat. Then, he promptly lowered his head.

“Thank you for the food.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“You’re leaving already?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Yes. It’s been a while since I’ve been home, so....” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Aigoo, so that’s how it was. In that case, since the roads could get dangerous, should I loan you an APC?” (Jeong In-Soo)

And just which crazy buffoon would roll around in an APC in the middle of a city because of some ‘danger’?!

This dude is seriously not right in the head, too. (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)

“I’ll take him home safely.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

When Choi Jung-Hoon interferred, Jeong In-Soo’s expression became openly unhappy. However, as if he realised he couldn’t vacate his position right now, he took a step back.

“Well, this counts as a fated encounter, how about a contact number?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“He doesn’t have a phone.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Jeong In-Soo licked his lips and retreated peacefully. Such a clean exit seemed suspicious indeed, but it was also not enough to call out on, either.

“Well, then.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)

Choi Jung-Hoon led Yi Ji-Hyuk out of the tent.

Jeong In-Soo quietly watched them leave, and when they had gotten far enough away, he asked the Executive Officer who was in the middle of handing out orders.

“Oi, XO.” (Jeong In-Soo) (TL: XO = Executive Officer)

“Yes, Commander.”

“Can our boys fight a Goblin barehanded and win?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Bare handed, you say? How many men?”

“One on one.” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Eii, that’s just impossible.”

“You think so?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Even if we gave them a sword, unless it’s the properly trained boys, they won’t be able to kill a Goblin, sir. Those monsters aren’t the type to feel pain by getting hit with a human’s fist, and even if stabbed by a sword, the blade doesn’t even go all that deep, anyway. Because of their physical strength, even the joint locks don’t work. If there’s a scuffle breaking out, you know very well that the arms and legs of our boys would be ripped out, instead.”

“Right. That is the norm.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Jeong In-Soo nodded his head exaggeratedly and spoke.

“In that case, what do you think will happen if it’s a guy who’s not an ability user but might be one? If we hand over an M60 to him, he’d be exactly like Rambo, no?” (Jeong In-Soo)

“Being strong doesn’t necessarily equate to fighting well, sir. However, it’d be fun to train someone like that, surely. With enough training, not only would he kill monsters well, he would also cut off the necks of those ability user b*stards, too.”

“Right, that might be so.” (Jeong In-Soo)

Even Jeong In-Soo knew this was a meaningless dream. The army was a place where, rather than investing 100 into a single person in order to gain a return of 100, invest 10 on ten people to extract 80, instead. In other words, a place that made possible for ten people to do the same job as a single elite possessing an ability of 100.

The reason for that was, if an elite got killed in action, then there would be no immediate countermeasures for that, but with investment of time and money, the strength of an army could be increased at will.

Even if Yi Ji-Hyuk possessed incredible abilities, establishing a suitable method of training and equipment that matched him, as well as training/combat protocol, would end up being a massive undertaking. And it was also inefficient, too. Such a thing was for the KSF to fumble about.

So, he should totally forget about this whole thing, yet, he couldn’t let it go completely.

“By the way, I wonder if he’s been to the army already?” (Jeong In-Soo)

And so, the lingering attachment began to tighten around Yi Ji-Hyuk’s neck.

< 13. But, I didn’t return to do this! -5 > Fin

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