< Chapter 9. The Golden Glass of Napoleon (1). >
They were survivors.
“I’m from Guro-gu.”
“We’re from Yangchun-gu……”
The survivors were from Seoul.
Yangchun-gu and Guro-gu were pretty far from the core of the city. But they were definitely closer to Seoul, the heart of Korea, than Kim Taehoon and the gang.
Therefore through the survivors, they could now understand things more clearly.
“Seoul is like a hell now. The giant monsters were everywhere……”
“The dragon with giant wings, I don’t think you’d believe but it was spewing fire out of its mouth then the building collapsed, trees were burning and people literally melted…..ahhhhh…..”
“I’ve heard this from somewhere, they have destroyed the Mapo and Yanghwa bridges with jet fighters and missiles.”
The capital of the Republic of Korea, Seoul, has become the city with the most casualties and damage rather than the most populated city in the country.
Everyone who was listening to what the survivors were saying became as pale as plaster figures.
Kim Taehoon’s face was also pale.
‘The fact that they let out the jet fighters meant that one of the airbases did their job….. By looking at the distance and the situation it must be the Sungnam air base. But they bombed the bridge down… to stop the monsters from going to Gyungi province or to stop them from coming into Seoul?’
He had no time to do anything else other than analyzing the new information and build several hypotheses based on the information.
Kim Suji approached Kim Taehoon.
“Major, what are you going to do?”
She expected him to answer her question after a period of consideration. She also expected the answer to be very sensible.
But Kim Taehoon answered her question very quickly and easily.
“We will have a briefing and spend a night here before we leave for the next destination tomorrow.”
“Then the other survivors…”
“I do not plan to make any moves with them.”
His answers were not as sensible as Kim Suji thought it would be.
“Major Kim Taehoon, sir?”
“I will not repeat it again. We will not accompany them.”
“Then you will be abandoning them like this?”
“I didn’t pick them up, but if you say abandon then abandoning it is.”
They were people who were alive and had survived the chaos.
“They are civilian survivors!”
And also civilians.
If you have any sympathy for humanity, it would be the right thing to help people in need whether you’re a soldier or not.
Wouldn’t it be a sensible thought?
Kim Taehoon did not say anything to Kim Suji’s objection anymore.
But he approached the group of the survivors who were sitting near to the bonfire.
Twenty-two of them.
They had nothing in common such as age, gender or jobs. The only thing they had in common was that they had lost their liveliness in their eyes.
Kim Taehoon started to talk to them.
“We currently do not have the capability to escort you to a safe place. We are also not aware of where there would be a safe place to stay. You will need to make your own moves.”
Kim Taehoon was speaking in proper words rather than the harsh words he used before.
But nobody had the impression of kindness from his proper words.
Ahn Sunmi and Bhang Hyunwook were frozen solid by Kim Taehoon’s words. They knew how Kim Taehoon was to say such thing.
Kim Taehoon had done the same thing once before at the superstore in front of the other group of survivors.
And then Kim Taehoon abandoned them.
Kim Taehoon did not make such a bold choice out of sympathy because he knew that it would be an obstacle to reach his goal and it was something that he could not promise them.
Therefore the two of them knew that Kim Taehoon wasn’t threatening them or warning them to leave, but speaking to them out of his sincerity.
Bhang Hyunwook stepped forward.
“Couldn’t we move together? We’re going in the same direction anyway. We are going to stay a night here, why can’t we stick together?”
Kim Taehoon could figure out Bhang Hyunwook’s thoughts by looking at his face.
There wasn’t really anything to figure out. He saw Bhang Hyunwook talking to a girl in the survivor group who was around his age.
So Kim Taehoon spat out what he was thinking without any emotion on it.
“I will not stop you if you want to be a hero, but you do it by yourself if you want to.”
“Huh? What do you mean…..”
“If a monster appears while they are following me, I will be shooting my gun without worrying about them. That will certainly not be heroic.”
“Wait, wait a minute.”
“To be honest, them being an obstacle like that is very dangerous. I don’t plan to carry another risk with me that is certainly not going to have any benefit towards me.”
Bhang Hyunwook shut his mouth.
It was meaningless to argue who’s right or wrong.
In matters of survival, Kim Taehoon was right all the time.
This was the same.
“If you want to leave Maek Clan to be a hero, I can let you go anytime. But expect to pay a price when you wish to come back.”
Moving around with the survivors was highly burdensome. You would have more mouths to feed, move slower, and would need more since you would be spending more.
But the biggest problem was that there would be more to protect.
The world was now harsh just to protect yourself. You wouldn’t have anything to spare for protecting someone else. If you think you do, it would only be delusional or some sort of bluff.
All the other survivors could hear their conversation. No one among them misunderstood their conversation.
‘They are leaving us behind?’
‘What the heck? You’re supposed to protect us if you’re soldiers?’
The dying light in their eyes started to tremble. One of them stood up and started to yell.
“You! Are you saying you’re going to throw us away? Us now……”
Kim Taehoon answered right away.
“What kind of bullsh*t is that?”
All the other survivors started to gasp and stood up against Kim Taehoon, and stared at him.
Their eyes were filled with fear and their faces filled with resentment.
There was no way they could accept this.
How could you be able to accept the fact that the rescue line they grabbed was slipping out of their hands, leaving only scratch marks on their hands?
“Aren’t you guys in the military? You are supposed to protect us!”
“F*ck, You get paid by my tax money, so you should keep us safe!”
“You f*cking as*hole, you call yourself a human being? You’re gonna survive by yourself?”
The angry survivors started to swear at Kim Taehoon.
In response, Kim Taehoon made a short comment.
The strong sensed the threat in his words and that threat had the ability to easily overpower people even though it wasn’t visible.
He wasn’t a normal human being anymore.
Kim Taehoon already consumed a lot of monsters’ abilities and those abilities became Kim Taehoon’s own flesh and bones.
On top of that, Kim Taehoon was an awakened that had A-rank Telekinesis which made him capable of physically forcing something however he wanted.
His hostility was like a sharp wind in the middle of blistering winter. It cuts your flesh and leaves a wound.
The rage that the survivors displayed cooled down in front of his hostility.
“Let me make this clear. We are not soldiers. We are the monster hunting group called Maek Clan. Our purpose is to hunt the monsters, not to save the survivors.”
Kim Taehoon continued to talk in the cold vibe around him.
“Also the reason why we are hunting the monster is to survive. Whatever comes in front of that will be the threat to our own survival. We do not have a reason to risk our lives to save you.”
There was not a single question.
“Let me ask you then. How many did you help, how many did you save and how many monsters did you hunt on the way here?”
There wasn’t a single breath, again.
“You guys also turned your faces away from the others to survive until now, but WE have to stick our faces to you guys?”
Surviving was only a one-way thing.
“I warn you. If you come across anything we do, I will deal with you in any possible way. You call the cops, hire a lawyer, you do whatever you want to do after.”
After Kim Taehoon was finished, everyone could start to breathe and swallow again.
And they were able to understand.
‘That was for real…..’
‘He could seriously shoot us down if we ever become a burden.’
That Kim Taehoon wasn’t bluffing or trying to show off but was telling what he was really determined to do.
No one from the survivors tried to yell at Kim Tahoon anymore.
And Kim Taehoon did not show any interest in them as well.
He commanded his soldiers who were looking at him.
“We will be spending the day and night here. Secure gas from the nearby vehicles, charge your smartphones with the car batteries, get food from the nearby supermarket or vending machine.”
That was all.
Kim Taehoon didn’t even bother to tell the survivors not to invade their territory. If they did he would consider it as a sign of hostility and respond to it accordingly. He didn’t have to tell them. They already knew.
Again the night fell and they had reached the end of the day.
After establishing the Maek Clan, Kim Taehoon taught a lot of things to his soldiers.
Survival skills such as charging your phones with the car batteries and how to dissect a monster body.
The educating session continued every day.
“Saber-toothed wolves have the thinnest skin between its ribs. Starting at this point you stab your knife, make a hole, stick your hand in about halfway to the elbow, then you will be able to grab the heart.”
Kim Taehoon was demonstrating how to pull out the heart and the monster stone from a saber-toothed wolf’s dead body to the soldiers.
The education was to train a patent hunter, not to train a patent soldier.
“Hyungnim, can I have a word with you…”
It was only after one of the saber-toothed wolf’s flesh was removed from its bones that Bhang Hyunwook talked to Kim Taehoon.
Kim Taehoon wiped his hands on a towel and let Bhang Hyunwook speak.
“What do you want to say?”
“Can we get just one… one person from the survivors?”
“Just one….. Please. I will protect the person under any circumstances. The person will not be a burden. I will share my food with them as well.”
Bhang Hyunwook was very serious and even nervous.
“Any reason why I have to give you such a privilege?”
As usual, Kim Taehoon was speaking without any emotions.
“That, that’s because…..”
Bhang Hyunwook lost his place because of his emotionless.
Finally, Bhang Hyunwook was able to spit out what he was holding in, not what he prepared to say.
“I have been helping you until now right? And I’m the one in the clan who has the highest Energy rank. You would rather have me than be without me, wouldn’t you?”
A strong appeal.
“Honestly, you have been consuming the majority of the monster stones that I have gained, right?”
Even Bhang Hyunwook was surprised at himself.
“Ah…...I mean….. It’s not that it was wrong for you to do that, nor do I have complaints, I’m just saying that I have been working hard for you…..”
Bhang Hyunwook couldn’t continue to speak.
Kim Taehoon asked a question to Bhang Hyunwook.
“Let me ask you one thing. What kind of relationship do you have with the girl that makes you do this?”
“We went to the same middle school.”
“No, not that…. I liked her……”
Bhang Hyunwook was not finishing his sentence because he got embarrassed a bit.
He saw himself as funny and foolish to go against Kim Taehoon for someone who was not even a friend, nor a girlfriend, but who he just liked from before.
But Kim Taehoon didn’t think Bhang Hyunwook was being foolish.
“I do understand. But I can’t grant your wishes. Sorry.”
It wasn’t about morals or humanity. The only thing that Kim Taehoon was sure about is that the way he chose had the highest chance of surviving.
Bhang Hyunwook scrunched his face since he knew that too.
He was too young to accept the fact that he had to give something up because Kim Taehoon was impossible to persuade.
It was Jang Sunghoon who ended their conversation.
Jang Sunghoon was carrying a bag with a serious face. Kim Taehoon’s face changed after looking at the bag. He knew very well what was in the bag.
Jang Sunghoon pulled out that item from the bag.
“Look at this.”
The Napoleon’s golden glass revealed itself with a golden glow.
“It made this reddish liquid inside.”
The glass of Napoleon was filled to the brim with a red liquid.
Jang Sunghoon turned the glass upside down.
If the world possessed the same logic as before, the liquid inside the glass would have splattered all over the ground.
But the red liquid just stayed inside the glass, not a single drop of the liquid fell to the floor.
“What, what the hell is this? This thing?”
Bhang Hyunwook’s face showed shock, he hadn’t even seen the glass before.
‘The crisis. Is this the red liquid that the champagne makes you dream the crisis? What does it mean that it makes you dream the crisis? Does it mean you can see the future crisis through a dream? A precognitive dream? But then why has the glass started to make the champagne? Is there a condition?’
Kim Taehoon’s face got rigid with thought.
“Boss, the amount of the liquid is shrinking. It will go away if you don’t drink it.”
But Kim Taehoon didn’t have much time to think.
Kim Taehoon reached out, grabbed the glass and immediately drank the red champagne.
An unbearable intoxication captured Kim Taehoon’s whole body.
The last thing he heard was…
The two of them called out to him as he was collapsing to the ground.
<Chapter 9. The Golden Glass of Napoleon (1). > The end.
* Gu - A unit name for districts in Seoul.
** Hyungnim - Means older brother in Korean, Bhang Hyunwook uses it to refer Kim Taehoon
Gu - A unit name for districts in Seoul.
 Hyungnim - Means older brother in Korean, Bhang Hyunwook uses it to refer Kim Taehoon