Part 2: Transport Hunter
“Ah… I see.”
Taein was grateful to Im Jeong for helping him, but he wished she could be more gentle with her words.
“For starters, you won’t have to be jealous of others if you settle on a weapon. Speaking of which, why don’t I show you how to use the ax on a Class 5 monster?”
Everyone looked at her with uncertainty. They wondered if she was going to show them a video or something. However, she rushed them inside her G63 vehicle, and headed straight to a Class 5 swamp.
The swamp was located in the parking lot of a huge shopping mall. It had been there for 3 weeks now so it was covered with a lid.
“You’ll see an information window when you enter. You probably haven’t seen it before since you went into the swamps after the raid had finished. I didn’t bring my equipment today so we’ll leave once we see the window. We’ll come back tomorrow to clear it.”
She was so casual about it, but that didn’t mean the others had nothing to say to her.
“What about the lid? The Hunter Association will notice immediately the moment we touch it.” Taein said.
“I already got in touch and told them I was going to launch an assault here. So no one will think we’re stealing if we remove it. It feels like you all keep forgetting that I’m a SF member.”
“You can use that as a reason? Just to view the information window?” Kanghyun asked.
“We’re going to take care of the swamp so what’s the issue? There are a lot of swamps and monsters. We’re just efficiently getting rid of it first. We assess what can be a threat to public safety so that the Hunter Association can deal with the swamps close to their opening date.”
“That’s what I was getting at. Would it be okay for us to do as we pleased without getting permission or an assignment?” Kanghyun asked with a pressing tone. He was slightly worried they may end up getting a penalty for doing a cursory job.
“What would they do, reject me? They’ll do almost anything I ask. They would certainly reject ordinary workers though.”
The three Hunters stared at her as if they met a formidable foe.
“I shouldn’t be telling this to rookies, but anyway, I could give a number of reasons to them. For instance, I could say the swamp is unique, which is why we’re investigating it.”
Kanghyun nodded his head hard with full respect.
“You’re not a rookie, Kanghyun. Please try to stop making insensible remarks like that.” Jiwoo said, making the young man turn a shade of red.
Unable to make an excuse for himself, Kanghyun stood there, beet-red. He then suddenly turned to Im Jeong and asked another question.
“I’m not 20 years old yet, so how would this work? Will it be alright?”
“Ah, about that, it did cross my mind. But then I forgot about it because I was busy. How old are you exactly?”
“Then I suppose we can change your age? Would it be too sudden if you were to gain 2 years instantly? How many months has it been since you turned 18¹?”
“We can revise the law to, “Those under the age of 18 years and 8 months of age cannot do raids.” Would it be too messy then? Why don’t we mess it up?”
“You can’t just change the law for my sake?!”
“Ah! Then, we can add a special clause.”
“Noona, the Hunter Association can even make revisions to the law?”
Jiwoo and Taein gaped at Kanghyun at the same time. Calling her “Noona” was a little too much, but the young man looked undaunted. Im Jeong also felt like he was being overly familiar.
“They can implement regulations too. If it’s an urgent matter, the president of the Hunter Association and the Chief of the Security Forces can approve and pass them immediately.”
“By the way, have you ever seen the chief before, Noona?” Kanghyun asked.
“Of course she has.” Taein interrupted.
“It’s because the SF members said they never saw the chief before.” Kanghyun protested to him.
Im Jeong chuckled and sided with him.
“People may have seen the former head before, but no one has ever seen our current chief’s face. The chief will always participate in important meetings though. That policy was set by the Hunter Association. However, because the chief is in charge of the most important national institution in the entire country, they could become a target for outside forces. Hence their identity is top secret.”
“Really?” Taein asked in surprise.
“It’s an era where the strongest Hunter association gives the country a competitive advantage. If their identity is revealed, the intelligence corps from other countries may send special agents to assassinate them.”
“That’s intense. Then, you’ve never seen the chief’s face at the meetings, Noona?”
Jiwoo chuckled at Kanghyun’s question while Taein smacked his head.
“They have to hide their identity so why would they show their face?”
“But how would others know if the chief is there?”
“From the President of the Hunter Association. The president will confirm the chief’s attendance and then the meeting will commence.” Im Jeong explained.
“Isn’t the president just as important as the chief?” Taein asked.
“In the event of an accident or if the president dies, the next person in line will take the seat. It won’t really matter if they die or not.” She answered.
“You should express that in a different way instead of saying their death won’t really matter.” Jiwoo laughed.
“Is it tomorrow?” Im Jeong suddenly asked.
“The day your EXP goes up by 1.”
“Huh? Weren’t you joking about that?”
“You took it as a joke? I’m someone who has never cracked a joke since the day I was born.”
She drew a 1 with her finger on the EXP figure engraved on Jiwoo’s tattoo.
“You sure like skinship.”
Jiwoo’s comment made Im Jeong giggle. She didn’t know what it was about what he said that made her so happy, it felt like she had an incurable disease.
“Now then, let’s get ready and go inside.”
The three low-level Hunters got nervous then. They spun their arms around and shook off their feet to loosen their bodies.
“The monster won’t move as soon as we enter. But just because it hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it never will, so be careful. I will go in first. You can trust me, even if I don’t have my equipment, I can stall enough for the three of you to escape. We’re just going to view the information window which will show the monster’s HP. The timer will start but that won’t matter for us since we’re not running a raid today.”
“We’re not going to completely finish it tomorrow, are we? We don’t stand a chance.” Taein asked.
“It doesn’t really matter. We’ll have to go down and see first. If it’s around 3 million HP, it’s not like I can’t handle it. You have a great Tanker like me by your side.”
Im Jeong wasn’t trying to be arrogant, it was simply an objective fact. But hearing someone say that about themself didn’t make their words that effective.
“Again, don’t be so nervous. F-rank Dealers like you guys do raids too, you know. You don’t have to feel so mortified, your chakra levels have gone up and your chakra proficiency is high enough. Meanwhile, there are others doing raids without any of that.”
Finally, with her words of encouragement, everyone took position. Im Jeong was the first to enter. Now, they weren’t too scared to go inside. Be that as it may, it was still not easy for them to relax when they were entering a swamp with an inhabiting monster for the first time. The three low-level Hunters were very careful with their breathing, just in case the monster woke up because of the sound.
Im Jeong showed the information window to them when they came down. She briefly explained the map area, found the monster, and even tried to break down the monster’s description.
Kanghyun grabbed Im Jeong’s hand.
“Noona. We can talk about all that outside. This isn’t some cafe to chill and talk.”
Then he quickly dragged her out of the swamp before she could say anything else. The Tanker saw the three men frozen stiff. They looked like they had ran several kilometers from being chased by a monster.
“How fortuitous. That one had the lowest HP I’ve ever seen. You’ve all seen it right?”
No one answered her. They did roughly glance at the information window, but their eyes remained on the live monster for most of the time.
“I think I made eye contact with it earlier. The monster saw me. I’m going crazy. No, before that, I feel like throwing up. What if it remembers me?” Taein rambled, his legs trembling.
“Everyone’s like that at the start. But they change once they see that 1 EXP on their tattoos.” Im Jeong reassured Taein.
Fortunately, the next day was their day off, and the three of them agreed to meet up and head to the “Extreme Hunter” shop to acquire weapons.
In the end, they couldn’t visit the “Extreme Hunter” shop.
Im Jeong suddenly called Jiwoo and asked him to meet at the old pizza shop. She said she could bring them the necessary weapons. Jiwoo had thought he wouldn’t have to go there while Gyutae was away, but there he was.
When Kanghyun came in grumbling, asking why they were meeting at a pizza store on their free day, Im Jeong gave him a puzzled look.
“This pizza shop belonged to a Dealer who got injured in a raid and died shortly after being taken to hospital. As far as I know, that raid was the one Gyutae had hurt his leg in.”
The three of them looked at each other, surprised by what she just said. They checked each other’s expression as if to question if the other knew about it or not. However, none were aware of the story except for her.
“We have to keep coming here. I never knew the connection.” Taein said, to which the two men nodded.
The pizza place was run by a Hunter’s bereaved family. Even if they didn’t go there to eat, the good thing was that they could use the space as much as they wanted.
¹ In Korea, the age system is different from the U.S. You “age” a year every New Year (January 1st) rather than on your birthday. You would add two years to your ‘Western age,’ because Koreans automatically gain a year on January 1st, regardless of whether their birthday has passed or not.
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