There is a reason for an unconditional favour (2)
Ever since Kang-Joon came back to Korea, he had never experienced such a life threatening event. In the middle of of her oblivious applause, Miss Seol abruptly realises something and hastily lifts her head towards Kang-Joon.
“Kang-Joon….Were you trying to show me that stunt all along?”
Kang-Joon hastily deactivates his Aether Sword, putting it back on his thigh. Subsequently, he takes off his Armour Coat, activates the force field and thrusts it into the air…
Only to slam his leg into it.
With a horrendous sound, the force field crumbles. Kang-Joon’s mouth was agape as he blankly stared at the coat.
“It seems so…”
Kang-Joon’s kick, although stronger than a normal person’s, was still only a kick of a human. Even mid-quality Armour Coats was able to block bullets from a combat rifle when activated. If an Armour Coat was able to be destroyed by a normal kick, it is no more than a suit of metal armour from the medieval days. However, Miss Seol seemed to be furious because of Kang-Joon’s actions.
“At the very least, be careful! It could have snapped your ankle! You horrified me!”
“Well… It didn’t snap.”
If the Armour Coat had actually worked properly, the force field would’ve broken Kang-Joon’s foot when he kicked it away.
“But what if it did?!”
“Well, it didn’t.”
“….Ugh, no point arguing with you. Please, don’t make me worry.”
Kang-Joon’s face suddenly tenses up. Recognising the change in his expression, Miss Seol stares at him.
“Kang-Joon, are you angry?”
“Ah, no… i was just thinking of something…”
The expression on his face changed as she was chiding him in order to stop making her worry. Afterwards, Kang-Joon doesn’t say anything further.
The Aether sword in the corner of the room suddenly starts to vibrate vigorously. Laying on the floor, the blade of the sword flickered as if it was a flame out of the handle, with the vibration getting more extreme by every second. As soon as Kang-Joon recognises that, he snatches the sword from the ground then throws it into the air right away.
“Huh, what! Oh my God!”
Kang-Joon rushes towards Miss Seol then gets down on the ground with her below him. Then, he activates the Force Field of his Shield Bracelet, forming the blue protective field around them. Miss Seol, still under Kang-Joon, screams out.
“Wh…What are you doing?!”
Yet, her scream and attempts to get out of Kang-Joon’s hold does not last too long.
The Aether sword in the air then makes a giant explosion with white rays of light inside it. Even though the impact was not too severe on the ground – only enough to make the grass sway a little bit – as Kang-Joon threw it rather high up into the air. However it seemed to be big enough to turn the two into ashes if it happened on the ground.
The impact of the explosion goes away in a few seconds. Kang-Joon soon gets himself up, brushing his clothes off. Miss Seol, still on the floor, with a stupid look on her face. Kang-Joon reaches out towards her with his hand.
“Are you alright?”
“Uh, oh…yes, yes…I’m ok. Thank you…”
Miss Seol quivers as she sees a splinter of the handle of the Aether sword which pierced through a brick. If it had been someone’s head or chest, killing that person with such a splinter would not have been too hard. Thanks to the Protective Field, the two did not get a scratch.
“Wh, what…what the heck is this?”
The sound of the explosion was rather loud, it was possible that some people in the building heard the impact. Yet, the actual damage is only some splinters here and there on the tree and bricks. Kang-Joon, frowns hard with an unusual angry look on his face.
“And, this was intentional.”
“I know because I’ve been through this once.”
Then, he looks around, points his finger at the door back into the building.
“By the way, let’s get out of here first.”
“Sounds like a good idea!”
No matter what, someone would come up to the rooftop because of the impact from the explosion. Miss Seol’s heart is still running fast, due to complicated reasons.
Coming back to the office, they started to converse at a table.
“I’m no expert so I can’t quite see how the circuit’s working. Maybe with some equipment, but that would only be possible at a specialised factory.”
Aether devices are extremely complicated. With no expertise, Kang-Joon could not quite specify what caused the explosion in the device.
“Back in the days, when I was in South America, I got my stuff serviced at this dodgy place.”
As Kang-Joon starts talking about a random place, Miss Seol reacts fatuously.
“But, after a while, the sword started shaking like just then, leading to a massive explosion. I was in a B-Rank dungeon. No one really got hurt severely but if it happened in a civilian area, the damage would have been horrific.”
Just then, the damage was small only because Kang-Joon predicted the explosion. If it happened while a hunter was holding the sword, the outcome would have been either death by the explosion or death by the monsters after losing the weapon.
“Then, I thought about it after I got out of the dungeon…I actually had some conflicts with local gangsters before the servicing.”
With the story seemingly going places, Miss Seol seems shocked with her jaws dropped at the fact that Kang-Joon was going around the world fighting gangsters.
“We weren’t really equipped properly that day. Armour Coats just tire you because they are so heavy, you know? Oh, you wouldn’t know…anyway, it makes you tired. So without the equipment, they thought we were some sort of tourists so they tried to rob us and we only reacted to that…they were holding guns so we cut away their arms, then they ran.”
Casually saying he cut someone’s arms away, Miss Seol suddenly feels chills down her spine. Yet, as she imagines Kang-Joon running through the bullets and dodging them, she again drops her jaw out of amaze as if she is picturing a scene from an action movie.
“No, come on. I’m not some sort of a Samurai. I got this bracelet, you know.”
Kang-Joon’s bracelet is almost a small, compact version of Armour Coat. Because he never took the bracelet off, he was able to manage the situation smoothly. In fact, even without Kang-Joon’s bracelet, a Knight with fair bit of experience can easily deflect bullets with their bare bodies as well.
“Did that mechanic have to do with anything?”
“Yea, that mechanic was a brother of one of the guys who lost their arms.”
“S…So? What did you do?”
Forgetting the real reason why Kang-Joon brought up the story, Miss Seol asks with a face full of curiosity.
“That’s…not really important in this story.”
Kang-Joon sighs at Miss Seol’s disappointed look.
“I punished him so he would never be able to do such a thing again.”
“Did…did you kill him?”
“No, you think I’m a maniac or something? I cut all his fingers off except his thumbs and pinkies, then crushed them so he wouldn’t get them back together.”
“…You’re more of a maniac than I thought.”
“I almost died from that explosion. He should be thankful. I didn’t even actually do that myself. Everyone else was just going crazy trying to kill him, but I still held them back.”
To his weird logic, Miss Seol feels herself getting confused even more. Even though she has been working in this hunter-related industry, she cannot seem to fully understand how hunters’ minds work. Above that, freelancer hunters who have been around the whole world are people way beyond her understanding.
Because the story sounded way too distant, Miss Seol does not even come to be scared of Kang-Joon, who is sitting right in front of her.
“Who cut those fingers off them?”
“Huh? Ah…well, somebody.”
‘Motherfuckers! I’m going to bash their fucking heads into press machine and mash them down good!’
Kang-Joon pictures the blonde Knight for a second. Going crazy back then, she really was about to wipe out that gang and the factory herself. Of course, that would mean she’d become an international criminal for sure, so Kang-Joon held her back. There was no one who really got hurt so really, such a reaction was unnecessary.
“But that’s not important. What’s important is that I know that someone can do this on purpose and I’ve been through it myself once.”
“So…are you saying The Crescent sent us faulty equipment on purpose? What if it was only that set?”
“Have you ever heard of Aether sword blowing up in use?”
Quite a few hunters die in the battle because their devices malfunction. Yet, Miss Seol cannot seem to recall any cases of an Aether sword blowing up. Still, she cannot risk to experiment with the other two swords. Miss Seol stands up from her seat with a stern look.
“I’m going to talk to them.”
“They’ll just tell you it’s because the equipment is old.”
They’ll only have to say it blew up by a coincidence and they do not know anything about it. Looking closely at the other two swords, Kang-Joon comes to see one more thing. Made from the factory, devices usually come with some sort of a brand mark.
However, the devices that came as a gift have no marks whatsoever. It almost seems like an appeal that they did not produce the devices themselves.
Even if Kang-Joon and Seol try to bring it to the court, it is obvious that it would take ridiculous amount of time to prove that the ‘mistake’ was actually intentional. Miss Seol seems concerned.
“What do we do then?”
“I’ll go there myself.”
“Then do what?”
“Make a refund.”
Then, Kang-Joon grins.
“And maybe some exchange.”
Get hit by something, give back double. There is a lot of areas where law does not quite hold in the world of hunters and Kang-Joon has survived in such a world for a long time. He is quite familiar with making outlaw negotiations.
And, he certainly knows how to cut a deal that would cause him no loss.
Still, the Finance Manger Song would not wake up from his sleep. Kang-Joon then realises that he is yet to even exchange names with manger Song. At this point, he comes to think maybe such a day will never come.
The next day,
Miss Seol looks at Kang-Joon with a concerned face as she hands her car key over.
“No accidents. Alright?”
“What if I scratch it?”
“You will get punished.”
“Is that it?”
“You will get punished big time.”
“It just pisses me off if you say that with such a calm face. Just get on your way already.”
Despite the minor dispute, Kang-Joon is rather amazed at the foreign vehicle under the company name. As Seol once said, the company seems to have had better days regardless of current situation.
Kang-Joon is on his way to The Crescent by himself. The factory is located in Hanam, and Kang-Joon is equipped with his bracelet, sword and even the blaster. Although he probably won’t have to pull them out, it is a good practice to be ready just in case.
Miss Seol kindly let Kang-Joon use the company car for his trip and mid-sized BMW sedan is comfortably taking Kang-Joon to the destination with a good engine sound.
Even though some hunting devices are made in the factory by machine, such devices all tend to be low quality. Devices over a certain level are handmade piece by piece, consequently making them expensive. Above all, different factories have different know-hows and secrets of their own. In the 20 years from the first appearance of the monsters, equipment factories have already established a solid industry.
Every hunter has different taste in equipment. Hence, the best way of making them is to customise everything from top to bottom for different hunters. Of course, low-Class hunters would simply purchase the factory made equipment as they do not have both the reputation and the money. Custom devices surely are ridiculously expensive.
The equipment factory ‘The Crescent’ is big enough to have the facility to produce ready-made equipment. At the same time, they also have a few skilled craftsmen under their care. They started out small and got themselves up to this point, now big enough to be labelled as a corporation. Equipment beyond a certain level are handmade by the craftsmen, with the rest made in the factory by machine.
“Not too far from the office.”
Kang-Joon finishes parking, pulling a box from the passenger seat.
Massive factories generally have no access for the public by policy so Kang-Joon heads to the main desk through the open door.
“Hello, how can I help you?”
“Ah, I’m Kang-Joon Choi from Hero Management.”
Kang-Joon answers to the kind welcome of the clerk. Hearing where Kang-Joon is from, the clerk considers him now as a customer, becoming even kinder towards him.
“I’d like to meet the CEO, would that be possible?”
“Ah, would you wait for a minute?”
The clerk makes a call to somewhere.
“Oh, Mr. Kim. Yep, Mr. Choi from Hero Management is waiting here right now….Oh, yes, yes. I understand.”
Right after the phone call, the clerk looks at Kang-Joon with an awkward smile.
“He seems to be pretty busy right now. You might have to wait a while…”
“How long would it be?”
“Oh, I can’t tell you exactly.”
Kang-Joon recognises the pattern. They would make him wait as long as possible then disappear once their business hours come to an end. When there is an uncomfortable guest, they simply will have to not see them. However, Kang-Joon already knew it would unfold like this. Smiling at the clerk, Kang-Joon opens his mouth.
“Ah, there was a bit of a problem with the weapons we got from The Crescent. Could you please tell them I will discuss with other factories about the devices if they don’t want to do anything about this situation?”
Discussing about the devices that were adjusted to explode with the other factories would result in an obvious outcome. It would severely damage the image of the factory, exposing all the troubles to the public as well. Kang-Joon knows for sure that they will come out and see him for this. The clerk, recognising the situation may be more serious than they thought, quickly makes a call again.