Before initiating the procedure, Bi-Ga politely asked Ji-Cheok and everyone else to leave the room.
They didn’t need any nurses, as the drones had taken over their positions.
Finally, it’s just the two of us.” She was glad she could speak with Mu-Cheok alone.
Large- and small-sized drones hovered behind Bi-Ga’s back.
It was a bit intimidating, seeing so many of them ready to take orders.
“What are you really trying to get?” Mu-Cheok wasn’t satisfied with her pretending to help them just out of an impulse.
I’m seriously helping you guys on a whim.”
“…” Mu-Cheok didn’t know how to respond.
“Hahaha, I see that you’re a skeptical one.
It’s good to question the things around you.
That’s how you’ve managed to protect your Hyung so well in this cruel world,” she said.
She let out a soft sigh, as she gave Mu-Cheok a sly look.
Whether it was Jung Ji-Han or Jung Bi-Ga, the relatives of the Jungha Group had fairly similar mannerisms and character.
“How strong do you want to be?” Bi-Ga asked.
“The strongest I can be,” Mu-Cheok said firmly.
“Would you be willing to cross a dangerous bridge to achieve that?”
“I’m going to have to inform you that no insurance will cover this surgery because it hasn’t been approved by the government.
Are you still wanting to take the risk?”
Only then did this young man, Mu-Cheok, realize the true purpose for which this woman, Bi-Ga, was standing in front of him.
‘She’s here because…’ Mu-Cheok thought to himself, recalling his time studying law in university.
Mu-Cheok had always wanted to be a lawyer and a large part of this motivation was economic.
His family was too poor to support him in becoming a judge, so he had decided to become a successful and well-connected lawyer instead.
But now, the stakes had changed, and Mu-Cheok had dropped out of law school to become a Hunter.
He knew he could be much more successful and influential as a Hunter than as a lawyer.
However, that didn’t mean he simply threw years of education down the drain.
In particular, there were a few things that Mu-Cheok remembered his 3L seniors talking about.
At first, they had seemed mere rumors, but later on, they had proved to be quite accurate.
For instance, the reason why a certain person sitting in front of him right now was given a very unusual nickname.
Bi-Ga normally went by the title of Master Mechanic, but the people close to her called her by a completely different moniker.
‘The Mad Scientist.’
She was no regular Hunter that had naturally become an Awakened.
In fact, she was a special case even among special cases.
On top of being a Master Mechanic, she knew everything about biotechnology.
The countless experiments that she performed could only be described as insane.
Although the public knew nothing about this, her experience was well-known among the legal profession and entrepreneurs.
Among the many rumors, there were definitely discussions about how she experimented on humans.
“You need me as a test subject!” Mu-Cheok was sure of it.
“Yup, you’re right.
Acquiring a permit is a long process, and with a random subject, who can be sure that they won’t leak my technology?”
“The rumors were right! You are out of your mind!” Mu-Cheok accused.
She didn’t flinch at his words.
It seemed like she had heard that phrase so many times that it didn’t phase her at all.
She nonchalantly stretched out her finger and the drone spat out another piece of candy.
Bi-Ga examined the drone’s creation.
“Ah, mint doesn’t taste good.
She peeled off the wrapping and plopped the candy into her mouth.
“If they catch you performing an illegal surgery on me, won’t it get you further away from taking your grandpa’s place once he retires?” Mu-Cheok asked.
“Huh? Who cares about that?” Her face looked genuinely confused.
“What the f…”
“I mean, it would be fun to fuck over my ‘daddy’, though maybe I should just call him ‘sperm donor’.
Definitely, a part of me is trying to do that, but I’m mostly interested in something else,” Bi-Ga crudely explained.
“And what’s that?”
“Oh, you’re so impatient, we just met.
Of course, I could fall for a good-looking guy like you, but…”
She stared at Mu-Cheok for a long time and then decided, “You have to promise me you’ll do the mukbang with your brother, okay?”
“So, are you willing to be my test subject? Be a part of the Master Mechanic’s illegal experiments! Ooooh!”
“What happens after I’ve become your subject?”
“I’ll take care of you regularly.
Don’t you worry, you need to be okay for us to collect sample data on a regular basis.
And I don’t know if you believe me, but compared to other Master Mechanics, my personality is what you’d call ‘great’ around here.
I assure you, they say that I’m pretty ethical.” Bi-Ga remarked.
Mu-Cheok suddenly remembered reading an article a long time ago about how Bi-Ga had single-handedly burned a dungeon down to the ground.
She needed no team like the other Hunters.
She only needed herself and her drones.
When her drones entered the dungeon, they immediately put together a ‘factory’.
It was a ‘factory’ that built more drones, but these were slightly different.
They were modified to look similar to the monsters.
It caused confusion and allowed the drones to easily kill the monsters and neatly dissect their bodies.
The pieces of monster corpses were organized so that the enhanced drones could then take them to the ‘factory’ and feed the drones that were newly built.
This way, Bi-Ga basically established a positive feedback loop with drones that multiplied faster and gradually became stronger.
Bi-Ga continued infiltrating dungeons until she finally lost interest in them.
People who had teamed up with her would comment on how she could turn her emotions off like a light switch.
It was off-putting for many.
‘Ethical…? Master Mechanic Jung Bi-Ga is ethical?’ Mu-Cheok thought.
If that was true, it meant that none of the other mechanical masters were even human in any sense of the word.
In any case, ethical or not, he had already made up his mind.
I’ll be your guinea pig.”
“Ah, it’s so nice to be able to talk to someone as smart as me.
Anyway, as far as the surgery goes, the only thing I promise is that it’s going to improve your abilities.
I can’t promise that it won’t hurt.”
“…I understand.” Mu-Cheok reluctantly said.
The drones gathered at her beck and call.
“Right, I should let you know that I’ve recorded our conversation.” It was probably for proof that Mu-Cheok permitted the surgery.
She took out the Class B Awakening stone that Ji-Cheok was supposed to receive the following week.
Red light pulsed out from it, making it look like a human heart.
“Ooooh, I like this,” Bi-Ga said while admiring the stone.
“Can we keep our conversation a secret so my brother doesn’t worry?”
She seemed jealous and responded, “For sure.
You guys are awfully close.
My family likes to stab each other in the back.”
One drone started to play music.
It was Vivaldi’s four seasons.
‘Wow, what poor taste she has,’ Mu-Cheok thought.
“Right, the life you’ve lived will strongly influence your abilities.
Don’t be too alarmed when you have a strange dream and then suddenly wake up,” Bi-Ga warned.
Mu-Cheok’s mind then drifted away and he closed his eyes.
* * *
Even though he wasn’t even conscious, Mu-Cheok could feel the pain.
He felt as if somebody was tearing his body apart and then putting it back together, over and over again.
When the pain finally subsided, the weird dream came along.
It was Mu-Cheok’s hyung, Ji-Cheok.
“Hehehe, you brought some ham!” Mu-Cheok said aloud in delight.
Like other countries, when the Monster Wave occurred, the entire country of Korea was in chaos.
Of course, it was respectable that the country stayed together and rode it out, but it didn’t stop all those people from becoming poor.
Ji-Cheok tried to hide his bruised hand with the cuff of his long-sleeve shirt and cut up the ham.
Well, technically, it wasn’t really ham.
It was starch mixed with meat that was ground into powder, kind of like canned cooked pork.
In any case, the thing was cheap and dense, so every time Ji-Cheok brought a chunk home, it took a long time for them to finish it.
The two really thought it was ham, and when Ji-Cheok realized that it actually wasn’t, he was too embarrassed to say anything about it.
That was the struggle of being poor.
Others bought food and water without thinking twice, but for Ji-Cheok, it was a struggle he had to deal with every day.
Mu-Cheok looked at Ji-Cheok, who went on cutting the ham.
Suddenly the ham disappeared and the word “Ham” appeared where Ji-Cheok was cutting.
“Hey Hyung, this isn’t…” Mu-Cheok’s couldn’t finish his sentence.
As he looked over at his brother’s seat, his brother suddenly wasn’t there anymore.
Letters appeared where Ji-Cheok should have been standing.
The letters almost seemed as if they were alive with how they pulsated, and they startled Mu-Cheok.
He bolted out of the house and then looked back to see if anything was following him outside.
The house wasn’t there, however.
Instead, there was something else.
[40 days remaining]
That was the time left before the run-down shack was to be demolished.
Mu-Cheok frantically looked left and right.
Everything around him was disappearing and was being replaced by words.
[Ice cream bag]
Mu-Cheok felt like throwing up, as all this nonsensical information overwhelmed his mind.
Still wearing the skin of his younger self, he kept running and running.
After running for a while, he suddenly saw an old man wearing a worn-out robe standing in front of him.
This old man didn’t get replaced by letters.
Instead, he scratched his chin with his frail hands.
— How is this possible? I can’t believe a child was able to access the Akashic Records.
Ahh, it looks like they used a shortcut, the old man spoke while looking at the boy.
[Who are you?]
Mu-Cheok couldn’t actually pronounce the words.
Instead, they floated into the air, just like the letters that had replaced the other things.
It looked like a cartoon speech bubble.
— Yeah, it’s because of the child.
That child has been constantly trying to access the River of Truth.
We’ve been monitoring him, but to think he would be this quick… The troublesome presence of the ‘tower’…
[Where are we?]
Aware of the power of language, and with great physical potential.
The old man appeared to be commenting about Mu-Cheok, but he didn’t seem to listen to what Mu-Cheok was saying.
Instead, he stretched out his fingers and formed a ball of light.
— Those who see a glimpse of the truth are entitled to a gift.
Is there a gift that you want? The old man asked.
Mu-Cheok didn’t hesitate and spoke,
[What I need right now is to help my older brother.
Anything to help him…]
— You want to protect your family? That’s pretty simple, and a great direction to choose.
It won’t affect the principles of causality too much.
Unfortunately, you are a man of letters; it won’t be easy to help someone so unique… Now take this and leave.
This place is the end of the world, the deep sea of meditation.
You’ll only go insane if you stay here for long.
The old man lightly tapped Mu-Cheok’s body, which shot off into the distance.
— Go back safely, child of a doomed world.
The old man bid Mu-Cheok farewell as Mu-Cheok was rapidly flying away from him.
‘A doomed world? Is the world going to end?’ Mu-Cheok found the old man’s words confusing.
Mu-Cheok woke up to a stabbing pain that throbbed throughout his body.
He heard the sound of something mechanical moving nearby.
“The surgery went well.” Mu-Cheok could hear Bi-Ga chuckling to herself.
The first thing that Mu-Cheok saw when he opened his eyes was Ji-Cheok’s concerned face.
“Well, did you say hi to the old geezer?” Bi-Ga asked.
She was clearly referring to the old man that Mu-Cheok had just met.
As he woke up, he had no idea what was going on with his body.
While she asked this weird question, Ji-Cheok walked toward Mu-Cheok and gave him a big hug.
“Are you okay…?” There was a concerned look on Ji-Cheok’s face.
“Yeah, I am.
Can you stop hugging me so tightly? It hurts,” Mu-Cheok complained, and Ji-Cheok quickly let go.
Bi-Ga closed her charts,“You did it, little boy.
Congratulations on being a Rank A Awakened.”
“I’m a Rank A???” Mu-Cheok was stunned, and so was everyone else.
* * *
You wield the power of words that can change the world.
These words are retrieved from the Library of the Abyss, and they will strengthen the caster while destroying the enemy.]
“Holy cow, is this what happens when we awaken a prestigious law school student?” Ji-Han was impressed and took the time to admire Mu-Cheok’s skills.
It was a whole other story whether these skills actually worked well or not, but Ji-Cheok guessed that Ji-Han was just excited about Mu-Cheok being a Rank A Awakened.
Ji-Cheok began to tell him what he missed out on as Mu-Cheok listened attentively.
He then came closer to his brother and said, ”Chronicler, strengthen.”
Suddenly, Ji-Cheok’s skin hardened and became tough as steel.
“Whoa, this… Isn’t this like the impenetrable defense skill that Shelton used?” Ji-Cheok said as he slammed his fist into the wall.
Even though it was a special wall made to withstand Hunter attacks, Ji-Cheok’s fist did not hurt at all.
He punched the wall hard one more time…
A fist-shaped hole appeared in the wall.
‘Oh no, I don’t have to pay for the damages, right?’ Ji-Cheok thought.
“Ha ha ha…” Mu-Cheok chuckled at the sight of his brother’s confused face.
“How far can you go with this?”
“Because it’s a beginner
’s skill, there aren’t many words I can use yet.
‘Enhance’, ‘accelerate’, ‘heavy’, ‘light’, these are the only ones I can pronounce right now.” Mu-Cheok explained.
Ji-Han listened carefully and asked, “Is that it so far?”
“Yes, that’s all for now,” Mu-Cheok replied.
“Of course, it’s great that you are in Rank A, but what you’ve shown me is not enough.” Ji-Han wearily said.
“I don’t know about that, but I’ll try to do better.”
Mu-Cheok answered calmly, but Ji-Cheok knew what he was doing.
His little brother was playing dumb… for now.
Korean law schools have separate educational pathways for becoming a lawyer, prosecutor, or judge.
In law school, 1L refers to first year, 2L to second year, 3L to third year
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