Chapter 57 - Day 13, 10th Floor Big Picture (1)
A little while ago. “You should know that joining hands has a lot of meaning.”
Four hours before entering the dungeon. In one section of the bomb shelter, I was having dinner with Director Oh. It was to coordinate things like minor discipline and requirements in the future.
"I'm aware of that.”
"Really?" He wasn’t asking because he thought I didn’t know. It was because it was an issue that was bound to make him worried.
“Up until the fourth and fifth days, our thoughts about the situation were focused on fatalities. Due to an unspecified number of people becoming stronger than ordinary people, there was an indiscriminate number of murders.”
I was reminded of that a few times. Of course, it was the biggest problem of having the dungeon tied to society. But that wasn’t the biggest problem that would be faced in the future.
Director Oh continued, "The growth of the explorers... The degree of growth is far beyond what we had originally expected. Just the growth between the seventh and eighth days... Kim Tae-hyun’s physical abilities were already beyond the Olympic level. The video of you in the hallway yesterday... If your speed was converted to 100 metres, it is almost twice as fast as the current world record.”
It was similar to the problem of purchasing the latest computer or phone. The gap could also be seen as the difference between how well people cleared the floors.
"Some people are already starting to show impatience. People like you can go anywhere.”
To me, the three most excellent stats were muscle strength, stamina and reflexes. At 23, 21 and 21 respectively, the upward momentum was slower, but it didn’t stop. What about the spirit, rather than the body? I could fully comprehend a book of programming in less than 20 seconds.
“Is Director one of those people?”
"To be honest, I have been skeptical a few times. I was also curious. Let’s say the problem of safety is completely solved and people like you are reborn under the strict protection of the dungeon.”
Director Oh swallowed his saliva. "Then what will you become in the end? Even if you don’t kill people blindly, what impact will you have on the world?”
Director Oh spoke with a heavy expression. I faintly realized it. At least in this country, a handful of people like Director Oh had thought about this.
Of course, the default policy was to strictly control us. But there were limits to how much we could be controlled. Once the ability of an explorer exceeded a critical point, they might not be controlled, but become the person in control. Once that realization was reached, a person would end up with one of two options.
Director Oh explained. "This is just a hypothesis, it isn’t certain. Judging from my personal experience, I can guess in advance how different countries will behave. Let me tell you what I think... Countries like China and Japan will have identified the situation better than us. It isn’t this type of informal cooperation between you and I, but support from a national level...”
"They will eliminate problems at national level.”
Those countries would give full support. Or, if there was a immeasurable threat, get rid of it altogether.
When I thought about it, I wouldn’t have been particularly positive to those two approaches. It was because they hadn’t yet grasped the full situation. Kim Tae-hyun’s visit and my presence at this place was due to Director Oh’s discretion.
Director Oh spoke. “Jin Soo-young’s father...”
"You still won’t call him the president?”
"It is burdensome. In some ways, it feels like a jinx.”
Director Oh pushed the lunch wrappers to the side and placed both hands on the table.
"In any case, her father is expecting something similar. His wife just seems worried. However, he might be delighted that his daughter is an explorer.”
"Is his daughter going to be a super secret murder weapon?”
Director Oh frowned at the joke. "She is a powerful individual. If he uses political propaganda, then she would be called the perfect superhuman.”
"If a country supports the explorers, they are probably doing it due to this thought.”
Maybe, unlike his wife, the president might be aware that his daughter was acting differently. It wasn’t just to prevent the public from criticizing his daughter, but a personal project. It might be awkward, but I didn’t think all of this security was to protect her. Furthermore, the daughter who later became a superhero could be used for himself. Well, this was just a guess.
"So do you want me for something like that?”
"I thought about it when I saw you. In the end, it is something that you will have to face.”
Of course. But it hadn’t reached that point yet. I was just a university student in my early 20s. Even if the heads recognized me as a problem, using large scale national power on me wasn’t realistic.
Eventually though, it would happen. I disliked having someone standing above me. I would live as I wanted without being bound to anyone. This was my driving force.
10 days ago, it would have been naive if I wanted to go against authority. I wasn’t a graduate student, the parents of the students I privated tutored hadn't paid my fees for a few months and I didn’t have a strong reputation among the seniors.
But now? I didn’t need to worry about those things. It was natural that I would finish this semester with top grades. Money problems? Before entering the dungeon, I was inexperienced, but I had outsourced work as an amateur developer. Now I could tap the keyboard and get the job done 10 times faster.
Then was the conflict around me over? No. There was even more at the top. Even I didn’t know that I would climb so fast.
"I don’t know if Soo-young can go to the end, but personally, I don’t think she has that ability.”
I asked, “Uh. Isn’t this conversation a bit dangerous?”
"Are you going to tell?”
Director Oh laughed. I naturally had no intention of doing that.
"You see, this is what my department is. Twisting my body for national interests. Kim Tae-hyun is still alive, so there isn’t a problem with intelligence right now, but after a few days, everyone will make a fuss over the fact that we have no explorer.”
"I’m not going to be Director-nim’s portfolio.”
"I don’t want that. However, I think you are safer as a blank slate than a serial killer whose father is the president.”
In other words, I was brought here through Director Oh’s own decision.
When I first met Director Oh, he realized that I can be used advantageously. I didn’t have any social connections. Thus, there was nothing to lose. There was also no ambition. Of course, there was greed, but my background and experience meant it wouldn’t lead me to a large scale ambitions. My father wasn’t the president or a chaebol.
"After tonight, once you come out... There will be verification.”
"It is a simple test of your body’s abilities, brain, personality and aptitude. You see it as numbers right?”
"But we have no way of knowing this... You could lie as needed. Hide or inflate things. Due to this, we need to verify your figures.”
Director Oh once again pulled out his electronic cigarette, but the cartridge was empty.
"Of course, this is one-sided information, so you don’t need to answer if you don’t want to. We still have Soo-young so we can offer her the necessary supplies in her current situation.” Director Oh rose from his chair. “But think about it. You haven’t fully grown, and your mind isn’t good enough yet.”
Then he held out a hand for me to shake. "It was a hectic day."
"But thanks to that, things became faster.”
"I look forward to the future. Of course, the best thing for me will be for Kim Tae-hyun to become even stronger than you tonight.”
It was hard to say that there was no chance of that happening.
Director Oh asked me, "I heard that the purpose of the dungeon is to make an emperor.”
"Maybe it is an accurate word, but it isn’t always possible in a world like this. There is no way someone can become an emperor here.”
Since childhood, I wasn’t the delusional type. I didn’t want to become an popular celebrity, sports star or the president.
Anyway, Director Oh headed to the bomb shelter. From there, the process leading up to midnight had already been described. Yang Su-jin and Yoon Ji-hee gave me encouragement and that incident happened with Jin Soo-young...
Now, I was thinking about the word ‘Emperor.’
It sounded like cymbals being hit. One of the Tellans was tapping a thin sheet of metal.
Then in the darkness, noises were heard and more people with spears appeared.
There were no questions asked as they aimed the spears at me. This place was different from the forest.
Perhaps there was a leader or it was a more advanced society. The Tellans already knew that the letters represented an offer of citizenship. They intuitively understood the phrases. Therefore, just knowing Tellan made it easy to recruit the people in the forest.
But now, they called me a demon, so it was hard to understand this drastic reaction. No, it was a reaction that only came out once the words appeared.
I spread back and raised my palm while narrowly avoiding a spear aimed at my head.
A light flashed and one person in the front collapsed. The reaction was encouraging. Rather than pouncing at me in unison, they stared at me with a mixture of fear and confusion. I didn’t miss that gap. An explosion occurred in the space where the man fell down. Although clearly trained, the Tellans couldn’t respond immediately to unexpected situations.
I firmly shoved at the chest of someone on my left with both palms. Then I aimed a fly kick at the one on my right. They were attacks that demonstrated power rather than practicality, but I realized how to deal with large groups based on previous experience: Kill some and the solidarity between the others would weaken.
The fear from the first explosion gradually spread as I raised my palm at an angle. I didn’t aim at anyone but shot out the biggest and loudest explosion possible.
With that, the situation was over. There were cries and noises heard as they escaped. Soon they disappeared from my sight and the voices gradually faded.
“Aren’t you going to slice me?’ I asked Jin Soo-young who was a small distance behind me. The process of contacting and fighting the Tellans was also a method of provoking her to attack me. Looking back, I could see a deadly weapon in her hand, She had an expression of a child wanting to eat the sweets put in front of them. The ingredient that caused conflict wasn’t appetite and self-restraint, but desire and fear.
I continued, "Well, you are better at suppressing yourself than I thought.”
If she rushed over, I was going to show her an overwhelming defeat. I wouldn’t kill her, but would make her hesitant to repeat the same behaviour. It was already much better than I thought.
"Can you speak Tellan?” I asked.
"What do you think?" I pointed to the Tellans on the ground and to the castle on the mountain.
"Kill. Everyone.” As I narrowed my eyes, she added a few more words. "You offered them citizenship, right? That’s why you were called a ‘demon.’ So there is an ‘education’ that makes people who offer citizenship ‘demons’? It is based on a religion?”
"Already in my... Now it is your city, but there are people living there. If you add these people here, then wouldn’t a cult obviously form? It would be lucky if it wasn’t called hell.”
She covered her head and pulled out a cigarette and lighter. She covered it so the light of the cigarette wouldn’t be seen in the darkness. As she blew out smoke, Jin Soo-young finished her words.
“Religion isn’t the answer. If you are going to occupy this place, then it would be best to clean it up before eating.” Jin Soo-young’s eyes flashed as she said this. "If you do that, then I can help you.”
I could understand. The reason why Director Oh said ‘no’ despite Jin Soo-young’s background.
I also agreed.
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