CHAPTER 2: GAIA EXPRESS
“Please show me your hand for fingerprint registration.”
“Hand! Give me your hand! No, not there! Here, hold it like this!”
Jin-woo, sitting in one corner, quietly observed the frustrated employee and the man, who was slowly responding to each request.
“Oh my, my fortune-telling says…”
The employee sighed and mumbled to herself, nervously fiddling with her hands as she continued the registration process.
After a few more keyboard taps, she finally handed the man a black slingback shoe and a card with a necklace-like cord, saying, “Here, take this.
Don’t forget it! Got it?”
“Well, you’re a long way from coming to your senses.”
When the man just stared blankly at the items in his arms, the employee got up and put the card around his neck herself before pushing him towards the waiting area.
“Alright, you go over there!”
Jin-woo sat down, mentally preparing himself for whatever questions he was going to be asked.
Unfortunately, the employee didn’t give him a chance to ask any.
“So, we’ve already entered the location and time of discovery…”
“Excuse me, but why are you doing this?”
“Oh, looks like you have a question, too.”
“If everyone just followed me this much, I would be much more comfortable,” said the employee, muttering as if in relief upon seeing Jin-woo’s nervous reaction.
“What was the question again? Ah, this.
We need to do it, or we’ll be in big trouble,” she added in an indifferent tone.
“So, could you explain exactly what it is…?”
“We don’t have time, so just give me your hand for now…Okay.
Here, take this welcome kit.
There’s an instruction manual inside, so make sure to read it later.”
Although it seemed like they were registering the identities of people somehow, Jin-woo was at a loss for words because of the employee’s one-sided attitude of just doing her job.
“Do you not need my name or date of birth?”
“You remember them, right?”
The employee’s inquiry appeared peculiar in some aspect.
Their demeanor suggested that it was common for those who were registering to be perceived as mentally incapable.
For instance, the way she engaged with the man who was saved alongside him.
The employee, who interpreted Jin-woo’s silence as she pleased, smiled as if to say, ‘I expected nothing from you.’ Then said, “That’s something you’ll need when you become a formal citizen.
Until then, think about it carefully.
Well, it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember until the end.”
“This is more important than that now.
Here, take it.
You might have heard it already, but be careful not to lose it.”
Jin-woo reflexively examined the card that the employee handed him.
From a distance, he couldn’t tell, but it was a transparent card with nothing written on it.
Jin-woo gazed at the card, noticing an unusual rock-like object affixed in the space designated for an IC chip on a regular credit card.
With a perplexed expression, he inquired,
“What is this?”
“Well, that’s a normal reaction.”
Jin-woo looked at the employee with a puzzled expression.
The other acted as if she was dealing with a smart dog.
It’s been a while since I got a proper question…
That’s a point card.
It’s like an ID card and a bank account combined.”
“A point card?”
“It’s a bit complicated to explain, but basically, people like you who are not citizens don’t have credit to create a proper bank account.
So, instead of using currency, you can use points.”
There was nothing in the employee’s explanation that Jin-woo could easily understand.
And judging from her attitude so far, it seemed difficult to get a sincere answer even if he asked more questions.
Jin-woo took a deep breath and looked around the information desk for a moment.
His gaze landed on a poster attached to one wall, like a refugee shelter.
[We support your new life!]
The words engraved on the poster were clearly unfamiliar.
But I can read it with no problem.
Jin-woo rolled his eyes and looked at the employee in front of him.
A clueless foreigner.
Someone he had conversed with just fine.
Come to think of it, neither Cliff nor his party were Koreans either.
“…Where exactly is this place?”
“Oh, it’s been a long time since I received that question.”
“Explain it properly!”
Jin-woo’s voice was drowned out by the sound of a horn suddenly coming from afar.
Turning around, he saw people gathering on the platform.
“Oh no, it’s already time.”
The employee said that as she took out two tickets from the drawer, one for Jin-woo and one for the man sitting there absentmindedly.
[One-week free pass – regular seat]
“Hey, hey! You can take the train with this government-supported ticket for the first week, so take care of it well.
You can visit the factory in the next city and, if you’re lucky, you can even have an interview.”
“What? The factory?”
“Well, there’s nothing more I can do for you, even if you keep clinging onto me here.
It’s better for you to get on this train for now.”
The employee pushed Jin-woo and the man next to him out of the information booth as if she were driving away people with no money out of her store.
“Be sure to read the guidebook in your bag.
And it would be wise to listen to the ‘Roamers’ you ride with about what to do next.
It seems better to stick to the people who helped you earlier.”
After the employee got up from the bench and gestured at the people preparing to board, she went back in without giving them a chance to catch her.
As Jin-woo mulled over the unfamiliar word, he raised his head at the voice calling him.
“Hey! Over here!”
On the other side of the platform, Cliff, who had gone away with some business to attend to, was standing and waving his hand.
“Have you finished registering? Did you receive everything you were supposed to receive?”
I think so.”
“Fortunately, we finished in time for the train.
We can board now.”
Cliff pointed towards the train approaching the makeshift station.
“Is a train supposed to feel this big?”
Jin-woo had expected the train to be like the usual subway trains, but the black train in front of him looked imposing.
[Gaia Express – Schne Spellt]
Jin-woo unconsciously read the name engraved on both sides of the train’s front and then looked at the long line of cars.
Overall, the design was sleek and sturdy, yet elegant in some way.
The most captivating feature was the mysterious light-emitting gems embedded on the side of the train.
Drawn to the sensation emanating from the gems, Jin-woo wanted to take a closer look, but Cliff urged him to board the train, as they were already running late.
Jin-woo and Cliff’s group were in the “general seating” car at the back of the train.
The facilities in the car were noticeably different from the front car that Jin-woo had glanced at through the window on his way in.
I got a free ticket, but what about these people…?
Jin-woo sat down and estimated the financial situation of Cliff’s group.
Since they didn’t have assigned seats, everyone took a seat where they could find one.
Cliff, who seemed interested in Jin-woo, sat down next to him and struck up a conversation.
“Hey, young friend.
Have you come to your senses somewhat? Your friend over there still seems to have a few screws loose.”
Thank you for your help earlier.”
“Haha, one thank you is enough.
But, by the way…
there was a dead spider nearby earlier when we found you.
Did you kill it?”
Cliff asked casually, but there was a hint of anticipation in his voice.
I didn’t even see it.
Maybe it was struck by lightning or something.”
“Just a little rain and lightning, and it died? Anyway, you didn’t see it either, did you?”
Jin-woo nodded in response.
“Ha-ha, are you referring to the spider? Although you appear to be unharmed, it appears that you have yet to fully recover from the shock.”
“But it was such a big spider…”
“Are you doubting whether there are really monsters in the world?”
Cliff burst out laughing.
“There are 10-meter-long snakes in places like the Amazon on Earth, you know? Well, I haven’t seen one personally, though.”
Jin-woo was about to object, but he shut his mouth.
He had just confirmed the identity of the discomfort he had felt until now.
“Hmm? Why the sudden formality?”
where are we, exactly?”
“Hmm, you catch on quick.
You can probably expect good things.”
Instead of answering immediately, Cliff made a strange remark.
Then he patted Jin-woo’s shoulder and changed the subject.
“Don’t rush things.
You’ll find out naturally in the end.”
“You’re just waking up, so take it easy for now.
It’s normal to be a little confused for the first few days after arriving in this place.”
With those words, Cliff yawned and stretched.
He took a blanket out of his bag and covered himself as if he was preparing to sleep.
“Learn things slowly but surely.
If you’re bored, you can read the guidebook or something.
He died and underwent ‘reincarnation.’
Ignoring his newly born body and changed eye color, the haunting specters of his previous life, as if from a movie, kept Jin-woo from falling asleep.
An indescribable sense of loss.
Sitting blankly with unresolved thoughts, he stopped unproductive thinking and instead look at the guidebook he received from the employee.
The lighting was dim, but he could still make out the words.
When he opened the pamphlet, which was small but thick enough to be about 3 cm, the first page was filled with tiny letters.
He wondered when he would have time to read all of this, but subconsciously flipped through the pages until he stopped at the thick red paper.
[Guide for Those with Superhuman Abilities]
“What’s this now…?”
Superpowers too? Jin-woo felt an inexplicable sensation as he continued to read the page.
[Among the 1.5th generation, there are very rare individuals who possess superhuman abilities, collectively known as ‘superpowers.’
Their numbers are small, and proper research has not yet been conducted, but it is believed that they are closely related to life on Earth.
Representative types of superpowers:
-Excellent communication ability with plants and animals
-The ability to control fire, water, wind, etc.
to a small extent
Example: A male 1.5th generation who lived a normal life for over a year after reincarnation once awakened his fire ability while looking for a cigarette.
*Whenever you confirm that you have developed superpowers, please report it to the government and register immediately.]
Jin-woo covered the guidebook and stared blankly at the ceiling, with his throbbing head leaning against the chair.
As he was exposed to too much unbelievable information all at once, it felt like his mind was going crazy.
The dim light kept flickering, as if its lifespan had expired.
Jin-woo’s eyes furrowed involuntarily.
Not only is this disturbing, but the flickering makes me feel even more uneasy.
This can’t happen on a train in South Korea…
Jin-woo recalled the bright lights inside the subway that shone day and night.
If only I could stand under that light right now.
And the moment he had that thought, his vision suddenly became much brighter.
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