“All communications with Goto and his team have been cut off?!”
The Association President Matsumoto Shigeo’s complexion became ashen. The Association employee next to him presented a receiver and asked politely.
“Would you like to hear the last communication, sir?”
Matsumoto Shigeo snatched the receiver away from the employee’s hand and put it on his head, before nodding once.
Soon, the recorded sound clip began playing.
“An ant…. You seem to possess a pretty strong aura.”
“You are… the king?”
“That’s right. I’m the king.”
“You, you!! What, what the hell are youuu?!”
“That’s where the communication ends, sir.”
Matsumoto’s face, as he took off the receiver, was as hard as a rock. The creepy noises and the horrible screech the monster made in between the chatter – he couldn’t picture any other situation where those sounds would come out of.
‘An ant monster using a human language? And Goto Ryuji was killed by that thing?!’
Such an eventuality was not within his calculations. He and his compatriots had definitely planned everything out, and made preparations for every eventuality, so why….
The ends of Matsumoto Shigeo’s fingers trembled almost imperceptibly.
Only after he realised that the gazes of his employees were focused on his trembling fingertips did Matsumoto Shigeo carefully hide his hands. He quickly changed the topic.
“Where is the monster that…. No, where is the talking monster, right now?”
He couldn’t bring himself to say the words ‘the monster that killed Goto Ryuji’.
“It’s disappeared, sir.”
“What do you mean, disappeared??”
It was a creature capable of killing Goto Ryuji. So, how could the satellite equipped with the magic energy detection camera keeping a close eye on Jeju Island not pick up on such a powerful monster?
The employee seemed to have figured out what his boss was about to say, and he pointed at the monitor once more.
“That spot of light is the magic energy emitted from the monster at that moment.”
The magic energy detection camera displayed the emitted magic energy as spots of lights. The bigger the spot of light appearing on the monitor, the more powerful the existence was.
Once spots of lights belonging to Goto Ryuji and the Hunters around him disappeared, the larger, brighter light vanished quickly, as well.
“Oh, my god….”
Matsumoto Shigeo spat out a shocked gasp. The unknown enemy was in perfect control of its magical energy.
‘That was why…. Because it was such a monster, that….’
That was why the research team failed to notice the creature before.
It was, without a doubt, a perfect failure. And as a punishment, Japan just lost ten of her elite Hunters. Among them, the best Hunter in the country. For a result of a single oversight, it was very, very painful price to pay. Even worse, the price most likely hadn’t been fully paid yet, either.
‘When that nonsensical monstrosity crosses the ocean and enters the country….’
Even though Matsumoto Shigeo tried to shake them off, the horrifying images continued to fill up his head. It was then.
“We found it! The b*stard has reappeared again!”
Matsumoto Shigeo’s eyes shot open wider.
“Where is the creature?”
“It’s inside the ant queen’s chamber, sir.”
Only the ants returning to the ant tunnel, as well as the Korean Hunters facing off against them, remained in that place. They must be fighting with everything they had, but unfortunately, their opponent this time easily exceeded everyone’s imaginations.
‘In the end, even the Koreans will be finished for good.’
That’s what he believed, but then, Matsumoto Shigeo’s brows shot up instantly.
There was another spot of light that suddenly appeared right next to that horrifying monster.
“W-what’s the meaning of this?!”
Matsumoto Shigeo gasped out in sheer astonishment and quickly looked at his employees. One of the employees, affiliated with the research team, urgently shook his head.
“It, it’s also our first time seeing this, sir.”
That spot of light was as big and bright as the monster’s. No, maybe it was even bigger than that.
What was even more astonishing was the fact that there were hundreds of smaller light spots swirling around that large one.
Even the head researcher of Japan’s research team, who had been analysing the spy images for many years now, had never seen such a phenomenon before.
Seeing the mesmerising sight of the sea of lights repeatedly separating into tiny pieces before gathering back together, all those present couldn’t help but gasp out in admiration.
However, Matsumoto Shigeo didn’t have the time to leisurely stew in his emotions right now.
“The Korean team! They must be broadcasting the raid even now, aren’t they??”
If the Korean team was still strutting around like that, that could also mean that the broadcast was still ongoing. Matsumoto Shigeo was beset with curiosity and wanted urgently to find out just what was going on here.
“The Korean team’s broadcast!! Bring that up to the main monitor!!”
When he shouted out, the super-large screen in the middle of the Japanese mission control centre was immediately filled with the image of a certain young man having a stare-down with an ant monster.
After seeing that man’s face, Matsumoto Shigeo nervously swallowed his saliva. The lone strand of sweat trickled down his temple and pooled on the bottom of his chin.
‘That man…. That man is the source of that massive light spot??’
And then, the giant ant monster standing in front of that man. That thing was at least over 1.5 times larger than regular ant monsters. They were only looking at the thing through the monitor, yet the sheer pressure emanating from that thing managed to quicken their heartbeats.
Matsumoto Shigeo’s expression hardened even further.
It was then.
The ant monster made its move.
The ant king’s fist powerfully slammed into Jin-Woo’s face.
Jin-Woo’s back nearly bent backwards, but he stomped down and withstood the hit.
The ant king had struck with all of its might behind that punch, so it couldn’t help but get taken by surprise.
“You can… withstand my power?”
The ant king struck out with a simple plan to kill this puny human in one hit, but instead of sending him flying away, the whole thing simply ended with his head turning slightly away.
Too bad, there was no time to remain surprised, because Jin-Woo’s own fist flew in afterwards.
The ant king was smacked right in the middle of its face, and it flew away to crash into the wall on the far side of the cavern.
As if a meteor had collided there, the wall caved in deeply. Although it was only for a short while, the impact force was powerful enough to shake the entire ant tunnel.
“What kind of an ant talks this much?”
When the ‘live’ broadcast got suddenly cut off, and the static screen showing the message of about the station encountering ‘technical difficulty’ appeared on their TV screens, countless viewers were left devastated and stunned by what they saw.
“The Hunters…. What’s happening to the Hunters??”
“What was up with that ant just now?!”
“What the hell! How can you cut the broadcast off right there?!”
The scenes of an ant monster suddenly appearing without warning, and then, it proceeding to systematically dismantle the Hunters one by one….
The viewers celebrating after the death of the ant queen felt like a bucket of cold water was poured down on them by that horrifying scene. Not too long afterwards, the static screen with the ‘technical difficulty’ message went away and the emcee appeared there, instead.
“Ah…. everyone, this news just came in.”
With a sorrowful voice, he relayed the death of Hunter Min Byung-Gu. And he also added that the safety of the Hunters remaining in the ant tunnel couldn’t be guaranteed, either.
“God d*mn it!!”
“They got the ant queen, so why are they dying now?!”
“What about Japan?”
“Isn’t it supposed to be a united team or something? Where are the d*mn Japanese?!”
Some people raged on, some people worried about their safety, while some others grieved.
The news of the Hunters risking their lives potentially meeting with a grisly fate spread out like an uncontrollable wildfire. Weirdly enough, the audience rating actually rose up higher than ever before, even though the raid broadcast had been cut off for a while now.
The emcee’s expression brightened considerably after receiving an urgent message.
“I just heard the news that an unknown Hunter has appeared on the scene right at this moment! We will immediately recommence with the broadcast right away.”
Those words were more than enough to inject much-needed vitality into the fatigued eyes of the viewers staying put in front of their TV screens.
Soon, the live feed was restored, and….
“What the heck?”
The viewers were greeted by the black soldiers filling up their TV screens, and they all shot up from their seats.
They then saw those black soldiers fighting tooth-and-nail against the waves upon waves of ants flooding into the ant queen’s chamber. The camera moved around to take in the unfolding events, before locking onto a single young man.
He was too far away and it was hard to see what he looked like.
“The armoured soldiers are apparently the creatures summoned by that Hunter on your screen. Also, I just heard that most of the Hunters are alive and safe, as well!”
The viewers watching on with nervous tension all cried out in elation from that news. And then, they began cheering for that unidentified Hunter.
“Yes!! Go and smash them all!!”
“You’re doing great!! Push them back!!”
When that unidentified Hunter summoned an even greater number of soldiers to completely massacre the ants….
People punched the sky with their fists and celebrated wildly.
Those who had lost their families and friends to the ants and sought revenge shed tears as the cathartic moment played out in their screens. As if he was waiting for the perfect timing, the emcee’s heightened voice came out from the speakers just in the nick of time.
“Ah!! We finally identified the unknown Hunter!”
The eyes and ears of every single viewer out there were now turned towards their screens.
Just who was that man?
Just what was the identity of a man capable of rescuing rank S Hunters from a place crawling with rank S monsters?
“He’s the tenth rank S Hunter of South Korea, Seong Jin-Woo!! He’s a Mage-type Hunter specialising in summoning magic!!”
And so, the viewers grew even more cheerful from the fact that a Hunter possessing such an incredible ability was not a Japanese, but a Korean like them.
Countless ants were soon taken care of in no time at all.
Just as the Hunters were getting ready to escape from the ant tunnel, yet another wave of ants appeared.
The ant monster that appeared just before the broadcast got cut off the first time was now leisurely walking forward while pushing past the swarm of ants. Since there weren’t that many ants with wings to begin with, and the shape of its face was different from everything else, it wasn’t that hard to tell that monster apart.
The viewers were instantly thrown into confusion.
“What the hell? I thought that b*stard was already dead?!”
“Why is that thing appearing again?!”
The winged ant monster stood before Hunter Seong Jin-Woo.
Those viewers who understood a bit about the compatibility of different abilities grew deeply anxious when the two stood face to face.
“Aigoo! He’s going to get killed here!”
“Why would a Mage-type give up on the safety of distance like that??”
“It’s not too late, so run away!”
That monster was strong enough to blow away Hunter Cha Hae-In, a melee-type Hunter, with a single blow. They thought that it was beyond obvious how things would turn out now.
It was already distressing enough to see those two glare at each other in close proximity, but then, the d*mn ant monster suddenly grew larger and larger as well.
Every viewer watching their TV screens cried out in shock.
Those with weaker constitutions squeezed their eyes shut at that moment. They thought that the moment the monster’s punch found its target, the Hunter’s head would explode.
However, contrary to their expectations, the Hunter was fine.
‘A Mage withstood a punch strong enough to knock out the Tanker Mah Dong-Wook in one hit?!’
The eyes of the viewers grew wider and wider.
The ant monster got shoved deeply into the cave wall.
Most viewers required a little bit of time to process what just transpired.
But when the camera zoomed in on the ant king half-buried in the cave wall…..
Yet another round of loud cheering exploded out.
The cameraman’s jaw fell to the floor.
When Hunter Seong Jin-Woo was struck by the ant’s fist, he flinched in surprise. Even Cha Hae-In lost her consciousness from that hit.
But then, Hunter Seong Jin-Woo blew away the ant monster, instead. The very same monster, that toyed around with six rank S Hunters as if it was nothing. No wonder he’d gasp out a “Heok!”
‘Were the rank S Hunters that weak?’
No, of course not.
The Korean Hunters bravely fought and managed to defeat the rank S boss, the ant queen.
So, the mutated ant monster that made an utter fool out of those Hunters was the weird one. And Hunter Seong Jin-Woo, who blew away that weird mutated ant, was an even weirder one.
The cameraman suppressed his agitation and swallowed his dry saliva.
The reactions of other Hunters weren’t all that different, either.
While everyone was staring at Jin-Woo with excited eyes, only Choi Jong-In began looking around in his vicinity. And he could see mountains of ant corpses. He initially thought that those were the result of the Hunters working together while he was out cold. But now, having witnessed Jin-Woo’s power, his thoughts had changed.
‘Can it… Could it be…. Mister Seong Jin-Woo alone was responsible for….?’
After taking a rough count of the dead ants, Choi Jong-In’s eyes began trembling non-stop.
A beastly screech exploding out without warning caused his head to snap back.
The ant king extricated itself out of the wall and displayed its rage. The air within the ant queen’s chamber was quivering noticeably.
Jin-Woo stared at the ant king with a genuine surprise. The damage he dealt was far less than he thought.
‘Is it because… of the exoskeleton?’
The black, tough shell covering the entirety of that b*stard – whatever that thing was, it had already exceeded being a normal organic matter.
In that case, he’d use brute force to shatter that shell. The thing that could break one’s armour wasn’t a sword or a spear. No, it was a hammer.
Jin-Woo’s shoulder and arm muscles expanded, thick veins bulging visibly on his skin. The air grew thicker and heavier as it descended all around him.
The ant king stopped screeching and shifted its horrifyingly crumpled expression towards Jin-Woo.
As the two of them walked closer, the distance between them shortened faster and faster. Soon, Jin-Woo and the ant king stood right before each other again. And then, without a hint of hesitation or mercy, they began exchanging countless attacks, each thumping hit carrying all their might.
The Hunters watching from the sideline were all stupefied into silence.
The shock wave from the collision of magic energy whenever Jin-Woo and the ant king exchanged blows rocked the ant tunnel itself. It was so severe that these top-ranked Hunters, renowned for their mastery over wielding their magic energy, felt their innards tumble.
“Are you alright?”
“I, I’m fine.”
The cameraman was only a rank A, but he still tried his best to suppress the contents of his stomach from rising up. He was even experiencing vertigo, too.
Even then – even as his complexion paled greatly, he could still maintain his smile all because….
Slam! Slam!! Slam!!!
‘How can a lone Hunter do that against such a monster….?’
….Because, he saw a ray of hope.
Hunter Seong Jin-Woo might be getting wounded from that exchange, but the outer shell of the ant king was definitely being broken as well.