Part 2: Transport Hunter
It was the day after Im Jeong suddenly disappeared from their team dinner that Gyutae noticed his leg was completely healed.
“Why are the aches not coming?” He wondered.
There were no signs of the pain whatsoever even when he held his breath and waited intently. He instinctively realized that it wasn’t because he was in “okay” shape today. Rather, he knew the pain would never come and he couldn’t exactly be overjoyed by it. He had been struck with such a huge surprise that he didn’t know how to deal with it. The surgeon also realized that Im Jeong was the one from the rumors, however, he had not told anyone about the truth yet. He wasn’t aware when she had healed him, but when he felt the change in his body, Gyutae understood it all at once.
To put it simply, Im Jeong was a Tanker with a healing ability; she could use her regeneration on other people. The Hunter Association had formally announced the death of the Tank healer. So, for the record, there were no Tankers with healing ability in South Korea. Yet, that same Tanker, who had supposedly disappeared, returned to the security forces, all while hiding her secret.
She couldn’t conceal her incredible prowess as a Tanker, as she still seemed to hold various titles such as “Korea’s youngest assault leader,” “Korea’s youngest B-rank Tanker,” and “the one with the shortest clear time on Class 2 swamps in Korea.”
That same person used her ability to cure Gyutae. He felt healthier than he was before he had hurt his leg. He was afraid that her secret would be revealed because of him. If he didn’t pay attention to how he walked, in other words, if a man with a limp, obsessed with his pill bottle, suddenly walked normally one day, people would suspect her as the cause. That would especially be the case, if people found out this behavior began after he started hanging out with her.
Gyutae’s head was a mess, it felt like it would explode just from thinking about it. But, he was the only one with such worries. He was jealous watching the low-level Hunters laughing and having a good time, completely oblivious to his state of mind. Gyutae also believed that Jiwoo was the reason why Im Jeong went this far for him. He could tell by the way she looked at the other man. Im Jeong tried hard to evade the surgeon, like she didn’t want to talk to him about the incident. Eventually though, a situation came where she could not avoid him any longer.
Gyutae was very adamant in demanding an explanation from her. He didn’t even ask, “Are you the Tank healer who disappeared?” Instead, he asked her if it was because of Ahn Jiwoo that she had healed him.
The other Hunter stared back at him. She appeared to be exercising her right to remain silent, but she basically acknowledged it.
“Does Jiwoo know about this too?” He asked her.
She shook her head as soon as the question was posed.
“You’re not going to tell him to the very end?”
She stared at him again.
“I trust you to keep my secret.”
“I will. Could you share with me what happened to you?”
Her big secret was already out of the bag so there was no reason for her to hide the small ones anymore. The story which followed was not much different from what Gyutae had expected.
Im Jeong’s colleague, a Tanker, who she had trusted, attacked her. It all started when a Dealer, who was injured in a raid, complained to the said colleague. The wounded Dealer put the blame on the colleague for their injuries. They claimed they wouldn’t be suffering had their party Tanker possessed a healing ability and treated them the moment they got hurt. They insulted the colleague saying how they met such an incompetent Tanker/assault captain.
Now this colleague had a hot temper, so they stormed over to Im Jeong and spat verbal insults at her and that was that. Or at least, she expected things would end there. On the contrary, the embers of the antagonism remained and were simply lying in wait.
Im Jeong was normally someone who could protect herself to a degree, but one evening, an ambush took her by surprise. The Tanker and a Dealer they hired poured out their chakra and jumped her, pushing her to the brink of death. Had Kang Dongho, a security force member, not been there, she would have perished right on the spot. Needless to say, it was fortunate he had been patrolling that night to pass the time.
Chakra was required in order for one to use regeneration. It would take time for chakra to replenish itself if it had been consumed already. By the time Dongho had arrived at the scene, Im Jeong’s chakra supply was near empty. He had saved her life by coming just in time.
The perpetrators had run away, so Dongho brought her to the hospital as common sense dictates to do with an injured patient. However, what Im Jeong needed was not a hospital, but time to recover her chakra.
As a fellow SF member, there was no way Dongho could not have known about Im Jeong. He could also understand why she had been attacked. He himself knew there were Tankers out there who were jealous of her ability to regenerate and heal. It would be a lie if he said he wasn’t envious too.
Nevertheless, it was beyond foolish to attack a Tanker with healing powers. If someone were to suffer from a deadly injury, which was impossible to treat with medical technology, one could simply request for Im Jeong’s assistance. Dongho was naturally infuriated at the Tanker’s intent to kill, blinded by their own jealousy which rendered them incapable of seeing those benefits.
Although Im Jeong had been taken to the hospital with Dongho’s help, she did not have to stay for long. She slowly healed her body with chakra and left alone at dawn. She holed up in her house for three days after being traumatized by the event.
It was a world where one couldn’t survive alone. She couldn’t endure the thought of being left by herself in such a world. She couldn’t distinguish friend from foe. It seemed like she would never recover from the betrayal.
Starvation, a simple primal desire, was what brought her to her feet. She couldn’t bear the hunger, so she got up to eat and drink. She got bored and turned on the TV. An animation was playing so she concentrated on the show. At one point, she even smiled while engrossed in the show.
Tears streamed down her face. She cried because she was devastated, but she was still alive and smiling. Perhaps crying was the most important and honest response to everything that happened to her.
“Let’s live. Let’s live for now. If I give up here, many happy things may slip by me. I could lose the chance to meet someone nice or lose many opportunities to smile.” Im Jeong forced herself to come up with reasons to live.
After that event, she changed her face. Since she was getting plastic surgery, she didn’t have to make herself look weird on purpose. So she decided to patch her face up prettily to which the surgeon chuckled.
“In your situation, you could’ve rejected the world and lived a callous life. But you made a good decision.” Gyutae praised.
She hadn’t thought about that before, but she looked at him for a while as if she was deliberating that it wasn’t a bad idea.
“But if I had to be honest, I looked prettier before. My original face was gorgeous.” She added.
Gyutae couldn’t tell if she was joking or being serious.
“The reason I made up my mind to go to SF was because I believed they would be able to hide my identity. I didn’t want anyone to accidentally find out about my existence. I felt like I had to reach higher to avoid what I didn’t want happening.” Im Jeong went on to explain. The secret, which she couldn’t tell anyone else, was flooding out like a breaking dam.
“Did Kang Dongho not recognize you?” Gyutae asked.
“I did feel as though he would be suspicious of my tattoo. Hunters usually recognize each other from their tattoos. The title B-rank Tanker, the figures on the tattoo, chakra proficiency, and etc. This is why I focused on increasing my EXP before I went there. My stats skyrocketed in such a short time that it was almost unbelievable.”
“In two months, I earned 36,000 EXP. Can you believe that?”
“How can you expect me to? That’s not true. It’s not possible.” Gyutae rebuffed in disbelief.
Although he didn’t want to, he tried to be angry. The surgeon even thought she was looking down on him. Who would feel good after someone blatantly told them a lie about something so obviously impossible. Yet, Im Jeong showed no embarrassment. She had accomplished it and she could explain the method, thus she calmly continued.
“For a Class 2 swamp, one can gain 600 EXP. Like Kanghyun said, when the others leave a swamp, and the remaining person finishes the monster and exits, the last person who left the swamp gains all the EXP. I’m sure you’re already aware of this information.”
“The other members… Do you mean to say they yielded all that EXP away to you?” Gyutae asked, doubt lingering in his eyes.
“They didn’t concede it voluntarily. Unlike Jiwoo who has a lot of good people around him, I’ve never met anyone who would willingly give me their EXP. Or perhaps there might have been, but I wouldn’t know since I never asked. Even if I had, I doubt they would give their EXP. Right? Who in their right state of mind would give up their own EXP? Oh!” Im Jeong abruptly exclaimed, shaking her hands hastily and correcting herself.
“Ah, I mean, what I was getting at is, I’m not saying I think you’re crazy for wanting to do it.”
Gyutae made a face, indicating he didn’t know what she was talking about.
“How is it possible though? Unless you voluntarily give it up, is there another way to gain EXP?”
“I did cheat a little. In a sense, I stole their EXP.”
“How?” The question wasn’t interrogative. It was asked out of pure curiosity.
“I ran raids, of course. Since they were Class 2 swamps, I carefully gathered D and E-rank Dealers who had weapons with an attack amplifier of 200% or more. It took less than a few hours for a team to be formed. If I recall correctly, I did raids almost every single day.” Im Jeong went on.
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