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The next morning, I get up as soon as I open my eyes. My upper body bounces up like rubber and surprises even me.
‘Oh right. I am now a man with abs hahaha.’
I pet my well chiseled 6 pack and and giggle. I may become a narcissist this way. I pick up my phone to check the time and there is a message on it
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Oppa, are you up?]
Oh, it’s Hyun-ji’s friend Min-jeong.
I send a reply.
[Me: I just woke up.]
I wash my face and brush my teeth and come out to the hall. My phone vibrates again so I check it.
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Thanks to oppa, I got home safely last night.]
I like her prompt replies. Girls nowadays always purposefully reply late.
I send her an immediate response.
[Me: Don’t mention it, it’s not like I paid your taxi fee]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Hahaha you must’ve been embarrassed]
[Me: A completely empty wallet and three girls giggling, it’ll remain a life-long trauma]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Hahaha I’m sorry. Anyway, as thanks for saving us last night, I’ll buy you a meal]
[Me: You’ll buy?]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Yes, yes]
[Me: Because you think I don’t have money…]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: No haha then oppa can buy.]
[Me: I don’t have any money]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Hahahahahahahahaha]
We spent a good while giggling and chatting when it happened.
I get a wave of chilly air and turn around Hyun-ji is glaring at me.
“You uh, didn’t go to school?”
“Today is a holiday.”
“Yeah? Anyway, what’re you looking at?”
“Give me your phone.”
“Let’s respect privacy amongst family members.”
“Were you respecting my privacy when you barged into the club and dragged me out?”
“That was because noona made me and I had no choice.”
“Oh whatever, hurry up and hand it over!”
Hyun-ji speedily snatches up my smartphone. She’s faster than a red ape!
Hyun-ji sees the chatting history on my smartphone screen and starts to shake in boiling rage. Then…
“Mom! Oppa’s been tripped by an evil wench!”
She goes and tattles on me to mom, who is getting ready to leave for the store.
At Hyun-ji’s words, mom turns her head.
“Wench? What do you mean?”
“She’s my friend, but oppa is completely fallen for her.”
She’s calling her own friend a wench. What kind of friendship is that?’
Mom’s face is overcome in anticipation and claps her hands.
“Evil wench or whatnot, are you saying there’s a girl for my son? Can I expect a grandchild then?”
“What peaceful nonsense is that! If a romance newbie guy like oppa gets caught by a girl like her she’ll just dangle him up and down and play with him and suck up his entire soul!”
Don’t call me a romance newbie! I am not a newbie! Even though I’m pretty close to it!
“No matter how much he’s dangled, I’ll be happy as long as I get a grandchild.”
My mom is definitely unusual.
“Wow, seriously mom!”
Hyun-ji kicks her feet in protest.
I use that moment to reclaim my smartphone from Hyun-ji’s hands.
And then I giggle again and restart the chat.
[Me: Hyun-ji is badmouthing. She says if it goes wrong I can even get my soul sucked up.]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Haha so funny. But oppa, do you know?]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: It’s not entirely wrong.]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Going stir crazy cuz of missing me, treading carefully in case I’m mad, getting so happy when I do a small thing, if you date me, that’s how it always goes.]
(TN: ;;; is a sweating emoticon…I think.)
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: How much must I be liked for that to happen?]
At those words I flinch like a daggers been driven through my heart.
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Would oppa like to be like that?]
A direct hit. A dead center fastball strike. Aside from being so taken aback, I cannot get a sense of how to reply at all.
[Notice: Mr./Ms. Hyun-ji has invited you to a chat room.]
[Notice: Mr./Ms. Hyun-ji has invited Mr./Ms. ‘Yoo Min-jeong^^*’ to the chat room.]
Hyun-ji has invited us to a group chat room.
[Hyun-ji: You, Min-jeong.]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: What^^?]
[Hyun-ji: I have a video of you when you were freaking out at the club from last time, shall we all watch, okay?]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Gasp;;]
[Hyun-ji: You weren’t messing around then were you?]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Sorry T_T]
[Hyun-ji: With a top off and pole dancing]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: I’m so sorry! ;;;]
[Hyun-ji: stop behaving frivolously]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: T_T]
I wonder what kind of video it is. Just how crazy were they partying?
In my head all kinds of thoughts run through, and then the chatting is done. I wonder if this short something with Yoo Min-jeong is over.
A short buzz.
I check my smartphone.
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Oppa, you know you haven’t replied yet? I’ll be waiting. Shh, it’s a secret from Hyun-ji!]
Woah, I can understand why Hyun-ji got all up in arms about it now.
I thought she might have surrendered at Hyun-ji’s warning, but she just brushed it off and immediately sent me a text. I can sense the attitude of this unhesitatingly forward carnivorous girl.
After a long while I send a reply.
[Me: I want to see]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Me?]
[Me: pole dance]
[Yoo Min-jeong^^*: Hahaha]
Ah, this is fun. Things like this. Thanks to it I started my day off enjoyably.
I got a great body in one morning but I don’t give in to laziness and go on a hike. I am of the mind that if my body is lazy, my mind will become lazy too, so I will exercise consistently.
‘There are people like Kang Chun-seong.’
A martial artist who trained his body to an entry level 5 degree through pure effort.
My body now is impressive, but how much work did Kang Chun-seong do over all his life?
A person like that acknowledged me as his leader. And so as the leader, in front of him, I have to at least not show a pathetic me.
‘It is not a strength I got through work, so I should work even harder.’
After my hike, my mood is lifted by quite a bit. Without any strain, I got to the peak and down. It felt like just a stroll.
‘But I should still work until it is hard.’
I think in order to get past a difficult situation, I have to work out hard and lengthen my endurance.
I don’t really know any exercises so I just spent the time doing push-ups.
I get a phone call from Cha Ji-hye.
-Hello, this is Cha Ji-hye.
-Are you getting used to your changed body?
“I’m going to try and find where the limit is. I finished a hike and now I’m exercising.”
-That is a good idea. Resting is good but please consistently exercise.
“I will. Why did you call?”
-We have concluded on how we should use your remaining 200 karma.
“Oh right, you said you needed to experiment last time?”
-Yes. We succeeded in the experiment. With exactly 200 karma is a rifle item.”
-An itemized gun from our world has better performance and quality than the karma kind.
“I suppose so, the magic rifle I have only has a shot distance of 60 meters…”
-Would you like to come to the research center tomorrow and experiment with the rifles and make a decision?
“Yes, alright. Will I be picked up this time too?”
-Yes. We will escort you via car and helicopter. The research center is a secured facility so you cannot find it on your own.
“Okay. I will see you tomorrow.”
I finish the call.
The muzzle loading magic rifle I currently have only has a shooting range of 60 meters, and every shot, I have to load a bullet into the chamber.
But if it’s a rifle from our world?
I have a 100% shot record through Sylph, and what if I am given a rifle with a shot range of 500 meters?
‘I could really be unstoppable.’
I can scout the surrounding 1 kilometer with Sylph and every time something comes within range, I’ll shoot to kill!
Just thinking about it makes me feel stronger and gives me sense of security.
The next day, I arrive at the research center located on an isolated island off the western coast, via car and helicopter.
“Please come this way.”
As soon as I arrive, Cha Ji-hye guides me. How shall I say, she seems a bit excited. It seems she really wants to show me the results.
We take the elevator to the 5th floor basement.
The place we arrive, five stories underground, is a shooting range.
It’s a basement space bigger than the average school field! Along the lined up targets are marked 50 meters, 100 meters, 250 meters.
“It’s very large.”
“It’s a gun range, expected to be used for training, so of course.”
She speaks matter-of-factly. This woman’s speech is short, as usual. She may never shed her soldier demeanor.
“First, take a look at this gun.”
Cha Ji-hye goes into a closet marked ‘weapons’ and comes out with two rifles. Of the two, she hands me one.
It’s a very classic rifle, with its butt done in wood.
“It’s a rifle I’ve seen a lot in war movies.”
“Indeed. Made in 1891, it’s called a Mosin-Nagant, a rifle developed in the late 19th century.”
I take a close look at the Mosin-Nagant she handed to me.
The length looks to be just a bit over 1.2 meters, and I cannot see the magazine. Its classic style of its design makes me feel like the protagonist to a war movie.
But this heavy weight. It can be an impressive blunt weapon on its own.
“And the magazine?”
“There is a five round magazine in the gun, and it fires with bolt action.”
I’ve seen arms before and can tell by look at this.
With a bolt action, every time you shoot, the bolt gets pulled and an empty shell is removed.
“It’s better than a muzzle loading gun but do you have any semiautomatics? I think this will be difficult close range.”
“We have no choice. Among the existing rifles, this one uses the least karma.”
“Then I have no choice. So you’re saying this one is 200 karma?”
“No, it is 300 karma.”
“What? Then why did you show this to me?”
“We experimented taking the 300 karma Mosin-Nagant and changing its worth into a 200 karma or lower.”
“Is something like that possible?”
“Of course. We succeeded in our experiment, and this is the 200 karma Mosin-Nagant.”
Cha Ji-hye shows me the other rifle that she was holding.
It’s the same Mosin-Nagant.
‘It doesn’t like particularly any different.’
I put the butt of the rifle against my shoulder and get into shooting position. And then I am towards the target area from the 250-meter line…
I then realize that something is different.
“It cannot aim.”
“That is true, since we got rid of the front sight and back sight.”
There is no front sight and back sight. There is no way to properly shoot without these things. In normal circumstances.
“A rifle that cannot properly shoot loses a lot of its worth. Not that you, Kim Hyun-ho, need to aim.”
“Oh! There was this possibility!”
I realize it now.
They don’t just call themselves a research center.
To think of an idea like this, I can tell they are really working for survival of the examinees.
“With that Mosin-Nagant, you can itemize it for 200 karma. Would you like to test its rifle performance?”
She hands me a clip with 5 bullets in it.
I take it and then don’t know what to do and shrug my shoulders.
“Teach me. I have no clue.”
“It’s understandable since it was developed over 100 years ago.”
I load the bullets and assume position as she teaches me.
Sylph appears in a swish and gently sits down on my shoulder.
Cha Ji-hye sees the spirit for the first time and with an interested expression, is at a loss for words.
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