The Garam’s lips moved as if it wanted to say something.
"Enough…" Yoo-seong shushed it.
No matter what his race had done to the Garam, and vice-versa, it was all in the past.
"Disappear… your time has come to its end."
Yoo-seong pulled his left arm out of the Garam’s abdomen.
The creature’s body didn’t fall. Instead, it stiffened in place, the purple skin gradually turning gray. Then cracks appeared on the gray surface before finally, it crumbled to dust. That was the end of the first and the strongest hunter ever.
"I could have given you a name…" Yoo-seong fell to his knees.
Inside his core, an unimaginable amount of energy was boiling. It was not just the size of it that felt ridiculous. Its quality was something Yoo-seong’s veins and core had never felt before.
The CE felt like it had multiple qualities.
"Is this… how Psy feels?"
For the first time, Yoo-seong had Psy in his core without the use of tools. Everything the monster had possessed was now his.
The functions of Combination and Slot had also been restored to their original state. And, with them, a rectangular window that represented the Needle and the Scissors had also appeared.
Perhaps, at this point, Yoo-seong was a creature who possessed more than anyone else had in either ancient times or the present.
"I am so… tired."
Despite it, Yoo-seong’s body felt light.
His right arm began touching his body as if to check its condition.
The Absorption Tech on his left arm.
The Acceleration Tech on his right.
The Protection Tech on his back.
The Provocation Tech on his chest.
The Detection Tech on his left leg.
"After all this…" He wondered. He had never even used the tattoo on his right leg. Compared to the other tattoos, the structure and the amount of C.E. it required seemed to be different.
As he thought about it, Yoo-seong shook his head. He just wanted to quietly enjoy a few minutes of rest. He would have time to understand more about his abilities later. Just then…
As he looked up, he saw a sight he’d never thought he would see.
Yang Chang-guk was running.
"Fuck it. For something else to break out at this time…"
He wanted to reject the summons no matter what and focus on Yoo-seong’s operation as much as possible. However, he couldn’t just ignore this one. It was President Kwang Seong-cheol who had called for him in a hurry.
‘-Director Yang! As soon as possible…’
It was the first time Yang Chang-guk had heard the President speaking in such a tense tone. The old man was usually calm, even during Yoo-seong’s performance in the last meeting. This time, however, the calm fox seemed anxious and out of breath.
After a short pause to organize his thoughts, Yang Chang-guk knocked on the door of the President’s office.
The voice was a little calmer than when they were on the phone, but President Kwak Seong-cheol’s voice was still trembling.
Yang Chang-guk immediately opened the door.
A surprised groan escaped from his throat.
The President was alone in the office, except for another face on a huge screen.
"V-Vice President… Hawkins?"
A large monitor was placed on one side of the office. On it, one of the highest officials in the United States was engaged in a real-time video call.
"President Kwak… what is this…?"
"Take a seat first." The President motioned for him to sit.
As he took a chair, Yang Chang-guk analyzed the situation before him. Both the American and the Korean leaders were sweating.
‘This does not look like a matter of diplomacy,’ he thought.
Kwak Seong-cheol was not an amateur in terms of politics. Whatever the situation, he was always calm and collected, even in the face of the heads of other countries.
‘What the hell could have made these two so nervous?’ Yang Chang-guk pondered.
-This is a confidential matter…
Yang Chang-guk nodded quickly, prompting the Vice President to continue.
-There is a rift in U.S. territory that has remained unclosed for seven years. It’s not an unclosed crack. We… intentionally left it open.
Yang Chang-guk’s jaw dropped. As he continued to listen, he found himself sweating as much as the two national leaders.
It was the name of the facility.
Seven years ago, an elite rush team led by Alvin Hawkins had conducted a classified Dive. The reports they had brought back were as follows.
-Unusual environment. After many years of tectonic activity, a huge valley of enormous scale has been formed. It has traces of a fairly active ecosystem, but only one species seems to have survived and continued to occupy the valley. –
The remaining monster species in the valley was a very small and harmless creature, similar to an earthworm. However, after ingesting organic matter from the soil, it released special gases into the atmosphere.
The gas was by no means poisonous, but it had a very foul scent that could cause some difficulty in breathing.
Perhaps that was why other monster species avoided the valley, despite its large scale.
It had been perfect for what the Americans were thinking.
-Therefore, it is judged as a suitable place for Project Columbus-
It was something that had been possible as early as seven years ago for the United States. A temporary base had been built right under the crack as they transported manpower and resources in. A semi-permanent barrier line had been constructed to keep outsiders away.
The first human-established base in the world beyond the crack had been built.
Sector: 41 had soon been completed.
Of course, it was different from what Yoo-seong had envisioned.
Most importantly, the personnel at the base could not go beyond the valley. All other attempts by the United States to expand and establish sector bases had resulted in astronomical damage.
However, with the years that had passed, the United States had been able to make a fully functional base within the valley. This was because the valley had been as similar to Earth’s natural environment as possible. With the help of protective suits for the creatures’ gas, even a civilian could remain active in the base.
"You’ve done a great job here," Alvin said as he looked at Colonel Ernest Stroud.
The colonel was Sector: 41’s commander in charge.
Stroud was the Wichasa Wakan of this era.
The descendants of Inwang’s aides were Native Americans in North America. They had gone through a history of hardship and suffered worse than the other descendants.
Miraculously, even as most of their traditions and obligations had disappeared, the vision for the descendants lived on.
With the Wichasa Wakan’s Tech, the United States had secured a way to know where rifts would open. It was several times more accurate than any other observational technique in the world.
It also allowed them to determine whether the crack would be unclosed.
Of course, the Wichasa Wakan’s Tech had not been provided to the authorities without a price. To use the Tech, the U.S. government had been required to improve its policies and treatment for Native Americans.
Moreover, they had hired the Wichasa Wakan himself for a position of authority, with a salary comparable to top hunters on active duty.
Colonel Stroud had been given full authority as the field’s chief executive officer.
However, fifteen minutes ago, Alvin Hawkins had crossed the rift.
He’d defeated all personnel on the base and taken over.
"I’m sorry. I didn’t get the memo," Alvin said as he twisted Colonel Stroud’s wrist.
He didn’t stop there.
With tremendous strength, he tore off the broken wrist. The colonel struggled, but he wasn’t strong enough.
Alvin then twisted the colonel’s neck and kicked his helpless body away.
The Miracle Boy’s physical ability was one of the world’s greatest. However…
There was something else in this base that was much more powerful.
"It’s certainly powerful enough to kill him," Alvin muttered.
Taking the colonel’s torn-off hand, Alvin walked over to the control room.
Most electronic equipment didn’t function inside the rift. Thus, almost all the equipment in the base was simple, most of it obsolete technology.
With such poor security…
Alvin pressed the colonel’s hand against a panel, and a message soon rang out.
-Approved for launch-
The facility began to shake.
A few years ago, the United States government had held an in-depth discussion about the function of the base.
Being limited to the valley, there was very little the base’s personnel could do.
Thus, Sector: 41 had been made into the United States’ final defense instead.
It had been loaded with weapons that could not possibly be used on Earth.
One day, when the United States could no longer cope with the cracks, they would turn the alien world into a sea of fire.
"Let’s see how Oh Yoo-seong will build his dream house after this." An insane laugh came out of Alvin’s mouth. "Yes. I’m excited to see what he’ll do."
The quaking inside the facility intensified.
"He could live here by foraging if there’s anything left in the ashes… Let’s see how amazing he is after he’s exposed to radiation."
Suddenly, the sound of dozens of footsteps came. Special Forces sent by the U.S. government had just arrived to capture Alvin.
"Of course"—Alvin did not resist the arrest—" he would have to survive the blast first."
The Special Forces stared at the empty launch pad.
They were too late. A nuclear warhead was already on its way.
Yoo-seong squinted his eyes, trying to get a better look at the object in the sky.
A shining object was falling at an enormous speed. It didn’t look like a natural part of this world.
It also didn’t seem like it would take long to get to the ground.
In that short time, several thoughts ran through Yoo-seong’s head.
The first thought was, ‘Should I flee?’
He turned in the direction of where he’d left Lee Jae-hak. ‘With Explosive Acceleration, I could take Jae-hak and create a crack before that thing lands, somehow.’
He nodded to himself and decided. If he’d recognized at first sight that it was a nuclear warhead, something that had been sent not only to kill him but also destroy the world beyond the cracks in Korea, he might have thought differently.
However, right now, it seemed to be the best option.
A blue light was shining over his Auto-Hunt button.
"Oh yes… I almost forgot…"
Yoo-seong had a blank expression. He was still physically and mentally drained from the last battle. However, as the blue light on the button caught his attention, it seemed like he was waking up.
"I trust you, like always," he said.
Then, he pressed the button.
The warhead spun faster.
Its speed increased as it approached its pre-determined target.
Inside the spinning warhead, firepower that could destroy a country was ready to explode.
Nothing could stop it at this point. There weren’t any variables that would make it change its course.
A figure was rising to meet it.
The new Oh Yoo-seong with his Explosive Acceleration.
‘Wow… isn’t that the type to explode upon touching a surface? Can I grab it?’
He’d seen one of them on a cable program a long time ago. There was no way to stop a warhead that was already at the point of detonation. Whatever he did, the ending was clear.
As always, it was all up to Auto-Hunt. Even if he had just won a battle with a blow that transcended it, he had no intention of ignoring the "master" that had guided him this far.
Aura soared more fiercely than ever around his body.
Yoo-seong felt it seep into his right leg.
The countless kinds of Psy obtained from Garam were entangled and fused along the lines of the tattoo. Then…
Yoo-seong rotated in the air, stretching his right leg out with a mighty spinning kick.
The energy that flew from it was drawn from the creature who had created and improved mankind.
Now, the energy collided with the most powerful bomb mankind had ever created. And…
There came a flash, brighter than anything Yoo-seong had ever seen.
‘The light of annihilation,’ he thought as he fell to the ground.
The last thing he remembered seeing was the warhead crumbling into fragments.
The glare soon subsided.
Then, Yoo-seong’s world went dark.