I Alone Level-Up
One year before the Korea-Japan united raid team came knocking on the island….
The ant queen began thinking.
Other lifeforms that should’ve served as their food source had all disappeared from the island, and the incidents of its children devouring each other occurred frequently now. There was no source of food on this island to sustain the citizens of the queendom now that its population had swelled up to several thousand strong.
Abandon the existing nation and seek out a fertile land overflowing with other lifeforms to establish a new one – if the domination of the island was the queen’s first task, then this problem would be its second one.
However, the queen remembered. It remembered all the powerful invaders that stepped on the island several times before.
The queen’s forces managed to repel them, but the nation had to suffer great losses as well. Far too many of the queen’s children had to be sacrificed. Would its children be able to defeat those beings if they went to another land?
It needed a single most powerful soldier to lead the citizens of the nation. And so, the queen decided upon the direction of their evolution.
Half a year later.
By gathering the magic power it already possessed, as well as all the nutrients it had amply absorbed before, the queen gave birth to a brand new life. It was the greatest combat weapon imaginable, born solely for the sake of dealing with the strong humans.
The queen’s determination to create the most powerful soldier there was, combined with the original order of killing all humans it heard in its head, created a horrifying monster that simply exceeded all common sense.
The monster was born with the skill, ‘Gluttony’.
By consuming its opponents, this new monster could turn their magic energy as well as a portion of their knowledge into its own.
The monster realised what its powers were early on and began devouring its own kin, but the queen left it alone. What this monster wanted was the same as the queen’s desire, after all.
The queen was greatly happy as ‘he’ grew stronger and stronger day by day.
It was happy because ‘he’ had already exceeded the power of ‘his’ mother now. And without encountering a single hitch, the army ‘he’ would lead was getting closer to completion as well. That was why.
In the midst of that….
The human invaders entered this land once more. Their numbers were lower this time, but they were far stronger than before. However, the queen laughed at them.
In preparation of the ants waging war against humanity in another land, this should serve as a great opportunity to test out the powers of ‘him’.
The queen, as usual, sent out all of the soldiers guarding its castle along with ‘him’.
Just as the queen desired so, ‘he’ went out and completed the first mission ‘he’ was given. But when ‘he’ returned, the queen was already dead.
‘He’ was enraged.
And thankfully, there were enough strong humans left on this island that would serve as the outlet for ‘his’ rage.
First of all, the king of the humans was killed. And then, it systematically annihilated all the subordinates next to the dead king. One of the subordinates cried out before he got killed off.
He asked just what the hell ‘he’ was.
After devouring humans through the skill ‘Gluttony’, ‘he’ now possessed the ability to reason. ‘He’ then began thinking to itself.
‘What… am I?’
Up until that point, ‘he’ was a soldier of the queen.
But now, with the queen’s death at the hands of the humans, what should ‘he’ call itself now?
A sole existence that must lead the remaining soldiers of the queendom. ‘He’ only knew one word to denote such an existence.
‘He’ had killed off the enemy king already, so ‘he’ had definitely satisfied the requirement to become one now.
The ant king bit onto the head of the remaining human. But, then….
Suddenly, the ant king’s head swivelled in the direction of the ant castle. There was an enormous aura rushing out like a fierce storm from where the queen used to live.
That level of power couldn’t have come from a common foot soldier.
Immediately sensing that an enemy that could threaten itself had appeared, the ant king slowly rose up towards the ant castle.
Just what kind of a calamity was this?
The TV station’s situation room used to be enveloped in the celebratory mood, but now, everything felt sombre and dreary like a funeral.
The ‘live’ broadcast showing up on the viewers’ TVs suddenly got cut off with the entrance of a strange, winged ant monster. Understandably, they began flooding the station with phone calls of angry complaints and urgent inquiries.
One of the employees walked over to the station’s director and cautiously made his report.
“Sir, our communication network is about to collapse from all the calls made by the irate viewers.”
The station’s director raised his head.
“So what? Are you suggesting that we should broadcast live the scenes of our Hunters getting ripped to shreds by a single ant monster??”
The broadcast got cut off just as the Hunters were getting one-sidedly beaten up by that mysterious ant monster. It was understandable that the curiosity of the viewers would skyrocket.
However, that didn’t mean they could broadcast the scenes of Hunter Mah Dong-Wook getting tortured, nor the moment that Hunter Min Byung-Gu got devoured.
The director buried his face in his hands and let out a helpless moan.
“It’s over…. It’s all over.”
The once-in-a-lifetime gamble where the fate of his station rode on, was now going down the drain because of one d*mn ant monster.
Heavy, grim silence filled up the situation room. No one person was brave or dumb enough to open their mouths now. Except for one, that was.
The producer staring at the real-time feed with an ashen complexion suddenly opened his mouth.
“Someone just appeared in the location out of nowhere!”
The director didn’t bother to raise his head up and grimly replied.
“Unless it’s Jesus himself, don’t report to me every little thing that happens over there. Got that?”
“….It’s all over.”
Realising that talking wouldn’t get him anywhere, the producer increased the previously-lowered volume up way higher.
The situation room was immediately filled up with the screams of the ant monsters.
The director quickly raised his head up out of sheer shock. It wasn’t just him, either. Everyone present within the situation room all rushed to the live feed monitor. And soon, sounds of “Oh, oh!” came out amongst those watching the screen.
The director sitting there in a daze finally managed to lift his butt off the chair. When he came in closer, the employees stepped aside to let him through.
The screen of the live-feed monitor was reflected in the director’s eyes.
“Oh, dear lord….. Jesus holy Christ.”
The director suddenly began calling out to Jesus, which he didn’t even believe in, to begin with, and hurriedly shouted out to the rest of the employees.
“What the hell are you all doing here? Why aren’t getting ready to start broadcasting this?! Are you going to take responsibility if we lose out on the current audience rating?!”
The producer hurriedly tried to dissuade his director who didn’t even bother to hide his boiling excitement.
“But, sir! If we start broadcasting again, we’ll be showing the live feed, instead! There won’t be any delay in the transmission, and everything will be shown in real time, sir! We won’t be able to do anything if another emergency situation breaks out!”
The delayed transmission time of ten minutes between the feed and the broadcast had run out by now. Which left the director with the decision of going with either the real-time feed, or end the broadcast altogether right here.
“….It’s all or nothing.”
“We’ve already stopped broadcasting midway, anyway. Things won’t get any worse than it already has.”
“Well…. I, I guess so…?”
A Hunter’s sudden appearance was caught on the camera. No one could tell whether he was a Korean or a Japanese. Heck, it was unknown if he was a Hunter at all, but with his appearance, the director’s gamble that seemed to be over for good suddenly gained one last shot at the glory.
The director issued a new order with a determined expression firmly etched on his face.
“Switch it on. Switch it on, now.”
He then pulled a chair closer to the producer and settled down there.
“Our station’s fate rides on that man, you got that?”
Even though he was being pushed into the figurative cliff, the cameraman didn’t regret anything. Anyone would’ve dreamed at least once of doing something like this when they were young.
…To become a hero.
If that was impossible, then at least, to become a support to the true hero.
During the time he did menial jobs for the TV station and earned his experience that way, he never imagined that he’d be blessed with an opportunity to do so in his lifetime.
But then, he Awakened into a rank A Hunter, and by earning experience fitting for his rank, he was able to get to this point in his life. Thanks to that, he got to clearly capture the scene of Hunters proudly representing South Korea successfully raid the boss of a rank S Gate.
‘I’m the one who caught that on film. Yes, me.’
And with the footage he captured, many people would come to know the valiant sacrifices these rank S Hunters made for the purpose of the extermination of the ant monsters. That was more than enough for him.
He felt like that all of his efforts spent in studying filming techniques and working as a Hunter was finally being paid off here. But, if there was one thing he was a bit regretful about, then that would be….
His father, who looked after the cameraman all alone after they lost his mother to cancer. Thinking that he’d not get to see his father again, he felt a deep pain in his heart.
His shoulder was bitten, yet he couldn’t feel a thing. His arm had stopped moving a long time ago.
He was originally a Tanker, so he was able to endure somehow, but this really was his limit.
He knelt down on the ground. Even then, his head was filled with the thoughts of his father.
‘Why did my last conversation with dad have to be me asking him if he had his breakfast?!’
If he knew this would happen, he might have talked for a lot longer.
‘On that day, when dad came for a visit to Seoul, I should’ve cleared up all of my schedule….’
However, time was a ruthless, unrelenting b*stard and regret always arrived one step too late.
The cameraman raised his head. The horrifying fangs of the ant monster were nearing his head.
He no longer had any magic energy left to activate the ‘Fortification’ skill, so he wouldn’t be able to defend against the monster’s attacks now.
Tears formed on the edges of his eyes.
‘Dad, I’m sorry.’
It was then.
Accompanying the noise of the outer shell being crushed, the bodily fluid of an ant got splashed on the cameraman’s face.
A blade emitting a cold, silvery gleam had cleanly stabbed through the ant’s head.
The cameraman raised his head and followed the blade, only to find another ‘ant’ with a long red-coloured ‘plumage’ stuck to the top of its head standing there.
‘Why is an ant attacking another ant?!’
No, that thing wasn’t an ant!
The cameraman was mistaken because both were of the same black colour. What he saw was an unknown ‘soldier’ decked out in black armour from head to toe pulling his sword out from the head of the dead ant.
The ant monster with a hole in its head powerlessly sagged to the ground.
“Just what on earth is…..?!”
When the black ‘soldier’ stepped aside, a youthful man with a somewhat familiar face approached the cameraman and shouted at him.
“Open your mouth.”
This man didn’t even give the confused cameraman a chance to start a conversation; he simply grabbed the injured man’s chin and poured down an unknown liquid down the throat.
The cameraman nearly coughed his lungs out, but he still managed to swallow all of the liquid. He covered his mouth and asked.
“Who, who the hell are you?!”
However, the youthful man didn’t even bother to respond and simply turned around to face the ants.
‘W-what the heck?!’
The cameraman was flustered greatly, but still, he stood back up.
‘….Wait a d*mn second here.’
His legs were moving again. But, was that all?
He belatedly realised it, but his arm was also fine after drinking that strange liquid.
‘What happened here? What’s going on??’
Did that man do something to him just now?
He couldn’t come up with any other logical explanation besides that one.
Quite out of the blue, the cameraman finally remembered where he saw that youthful man’s face.
‘Could he be that guy?!’
Jin-Woo calmly scanned his surroundings.
Last time he got to meet the members of the Korean raid team in the Association’s gymnasium, he had inserted one of the Shadow Soldiers in Baek Yun-Ho’s shadow, just in case. What a relief it was that he did that.
It seemed that what he’d been watching wasn’t a live broadcast, as the situation here was far worse than the stuff shown on the TV screen before it got cut off. He managed to save the weakest of the lot, the cameraman, first, but the other rank S Hunters were still surrounded by countless ant monsters.
‘What should I do now?’
The quickest way to deal with this situation would be to summon Fangs out and sweep these pesky ants away in one go with his trademark pillar of flames. But, if Jin-Woo did that, he couldn’t guarantee the safety of the rank S Hunters.
So, he needed another solution here.
Jin-Woo quickly made his decision and turned his head towards Iron.
Iron tapped his chest in a manly manner as if to say, “Leave it to me!”
He then strode forward, his large frame shaking to and fro, before opening his shoulders wide to roar out at the top of his lungs.
[Iron has activated ‘Skill: Roar of Provocation’.]
The effect of that was rather amazing. The ants attacking the Hunters all snapped their heads towards Iron’s direction simultaneously. And soon, they all rushed over.
Jin-Woo lightly tapped Iron on his back and summoned the two shortswords he got as rewards after killing the demon king.
‘The Demon King’s Shortsword.’
The pair of shortswords with a blue tinge to their blades gleamed threateningly under the light magic’s glare.
When hundreds of ant monsters screeched out and pounced at the same time, his entire view was dyed jet black in an instant. Jin-Woo began gripping the hilts of the shortswords even harder. And then, he vanished from view.
Soon, ants collided with the soldiers in a bloody battle to the finish.
In the meantime, Baek Yun-Ho, whose status was still better than everyone else, managed to move the injured Hunters to a safe corner. Thankfully, they were all still alive. The cameraman joined soon afterwards, and helped Baek Yun-Ho out.
Because Jin-Woo, or more specifically, Jin-Woo’s summoned creature, attracted the aggro of all the ants present here, he was able to safely finish this task.
“Pant, pant, pant….’
Mah Dong-Wook was leaning against the wall, his breathing rough and irregular. He then grabbed the arm of Baek Yun-Ho, who brought him here, and asked.
“W-what’s going on? Who’s fighting?”
Mah Dong-Wook’s eyes were unfocused. His eyes were injured and he couldn’t see properly.
Baek Yun-Ho placed his hand on Mah Dong-Wook’s hand.
“Instructor Mah. It’s fine now. Everything will be fine.”
He then shifted his gaze over to Jin-Woo.
Other people may not have know it yet, but Baek Yun-Ho had a rough idea already on how powerful Seong Jin-Woo was in reality.
Baek Yun-Ho might have been greatly flustered when the black soldier suddenly vanished, only to be replaced by the youth, but he still ended up shouting out loud even before he consciously realised it.
He said, ‘please, help us.’
And then, after seeing the youth move towards the ants along with his summoned black soldiers, the sense of relief washed over Baek Yun-Ho; so much so that he nearly plopped down to the ground.
Seong Jin-Woo proceeded to massacre and annihilate the ants that gave him and his teammates so much trouble at a frightening pace, as if those creatures were nothing but broken toys to be played around with.
Screams of dying ants exploded out from everywhere and nearly made Baek Yun-Ho dizzy in the head. But, he still sighed out in relief.
‘It’ll be fine now.’
He wasn’t saying that to Mah Dong-Wook. No, he was telling that to himself. The hope of survival was rekindled in his heart. The aid from one Seong Jin-Woo was far more reliable and trustworthy than the 20-plus rank S Japanese Hunters combined.
‘….Looks like there’s no need for me to step up here.’
Baek Yun-Ho formed a smile and sat down next to Mah Dong-Wook.
All he could do now was to sit down quietly like this and watch Hunter Seong Jin-Woo do his thing. He then drew the cameraman’s attention towards Jin-Woo.
“You should keep the camera pointing at him. Because you’re going to witness something amazing pretty soon.”
The incident of the Red Gate, and the incident during the raid of the Hunters Guild. This was Baek Yun-Ho’s chance to personally witness the spectacle he had been hearing about all this time.
The cameraman did his best to maintain his distance so he wouldn’t get in the way and tried to capture Jin-Woo’s actions with his camera. The work of the raid team’s Hunters may have been finished now, but his own work was far from over.
The cameraman struggled to swallow his saliva.
At the same time, an ant was split cleanly in half from top to bottom by Jin-Woo’s hands. He then took a look around him. The number of ants had decreased significantly, and there were just over half of them remaining.
He killed so many ants that he had lost count now, but his breathing remained even and unperturbed. In all honesty, he found this place far easier to manage when compared to the uppermost floors of the Demon’s Castle.
‘Should I increase my speed a bit more?’
Jin-Woo sneaked a glance at the floor, and he immediately issued an order to the puffs of black smoke rising up from the corpses of the countless ants.
< Chapter 118 > Fin.