Chapter 1 – The Awakened System (1)
It was hard to say when the dimensional gates had opened on Earth. All over the planet, gates had suddenly opened, and monsters had poured out of them.
The governments of each country had been taken aback by the sudden attack from out of nowhere by unidentified monsters; however, that did not last for long, as they immediately took defensive measures according to their standard military defense manuals to protect their respective countries against the monsters.
Unfortunately, the monsters had barriers surrounding their bodies that repelled the bullets widely used by soldiers, and they would not die even after hundreds of rounds rained down on them. Smaller monsters died when they were fired upon with missiles or artillery shells; however, larger monsters, unique monsters, and named monsters either withstood the attacks through their incredibly high resistances, or avoided the attacks using unbelievably fast speed that defied logic.
Additionally, some of the monsters possessed special abilities, and were not affected by Earth’s firearms at all. In fact, nuclear missiles, which were known to man as the pinnacle of modern warfare when it came to destructiveness, were useless against monsters with special abilities. That made it seem as if it were pointless to try to fight against, or rather resist, the monsters.
That was how countless human lives were massacred by monsters. It seemed as if there was no longer any hope for humanity.
However, whether the dimensional gates were a miracle or a curse, the monsters were not the only ones to emerge from them.
[Transdimensional Space Association]
Earth was not the only place in the universe that housed living beings. The universe consisted of numerous planets, galaxies, and dimensions that also had human-like beings living in them, and it was those beings from a distant galaxy who taught the humans a way to fight back against the monsters.
To that end, they taught the humans how to ‘Awaken’ and kill the monsters, and how to use monsters’ remains to develop a new civilization. They provided numerous skills, technologies, and fighting styles that could be used against the monsters.
In return, they asked Earth to join the Transdimensional Space Association, and there was only one condition Earth had to honor— to guarantee that trade could flourish between the dimensions.
That was all the aliens wanted. However, taking into account that Earth was a new applicant to the alliance, they decided that trade barriers would be in place for thirty years. The specific details of what would happen after that would be discussed when the thirty-year treaty expired.
Then, the aliens went back to their own dimensions after leaving humanity with newfound ‘powers’. Humanity evolved after that fateful encounter, using their new powers to fight fiercely against the monsters and push them back.
That was how ten years had passed since the war against the monsters first started; most of the metropolitan cities of the world were left in ruins. However, humanity succeeded in pushing back the monsters from their cities and into specific regions, which signaled the start of an entirely new era of human civilization.
Sparks flew as countless bullets flew across the battlefield toward a monster. The bullets accurately hit the monster’s body, but they failed to deal any significant damage to the monster’s barrier.
In fact, the gunfire seemed to only make the monster more agitated, as it seemed to find the bullets annoying.
“Everyone! Snap out of it!” The manager scolded the Porters as they sprayed bullets all over the place, scared out of their wits.
The monster’s aggro would be pulled toward them if they hit the monster’s eyes, head, or any other weak spots by accident, and it would end up causing the monster to attack the Porters instead of the Hunters that were currently facing the monster.
“Concentrate, you lot! You should never be a hindrance to the Hunters while they’re fighting!” the manager shouted.
‘Tsk… Alright, alright,’ a Porter grumbled inwardly.
The Porter had a lot of frustration pent up against the hierarchy, but he did not have the balls to actually speak up against it. He needed money, but he had no skills, and there were no companies willing to hire someone like him who had graduated from a small country college. The only companies that were willing to hire him would only pay him 1.3 million won; they would find all sorts of nonsensical excuses to deduct even more from that measly amount, on top of that.
This job as a Porter was the only way he was going to be able to sustain having a roof over his head and putting food on the table.
A man who was in a DPS role put his hands together and charged a spell. Then, a powerful flame shot out of his hands and hit the silver monster they were fighting against.
However, the lizard monster’s sturdy silver scales only seemed to sustain a negligible amount of damage. In fact, the monster did not seem to have been hurt or even staggered in the slightest, thus rendering the so-called ‘magic’ attack null and void.
‘Tsk… Stupid. The Silver Lizard is a monster that has high resistance against fire, and even the Monster Encyclopedia says that a fire-attribute magic attack used against it has to be cast in tandem with a magic-amplifying spell to make it work!’ the young Porter grumbled inwardly.
Han-Yeol had been working as a Porter for over three years, and this was going to be his fourth year. The job was definitely dangerous, but the pay was very lucrative. Additionally, he was working as a Porter in hopes of Awakening one day.
So far, however, he could forget about Awakening and all that. All he had experienced working as a Porter was frustration, as he watched stupid Hunters make silly mistakes that were obvious even to him.
‘I mean... How can these Hunters who have worked for two years already make such stupid and frustrating mistakes…?’ Han-Yeol grumbled once more.
Han-Yeol had been diligently studying everything there was to know about the Hunters and the monsters in hopes of one day becoming a Hunter himself. How were these Hunters so ignorant of simple things that even he, someone who was not a Hunter but rather a lowly Porter, knew about? Han-Yeol could not help but click his tongue at the stupid Hunters’ ignorance and stubbornness.
“Damn it. This guy isn’t a joke!”
“Hey, Tank! Try and buy us some time!”
“Fuck! Can’t you see I’m doing my best right now?!”
Even the happy-go-lucky, leisurely atmosphere they had previously had turned sour the instant the monster hunt did not go as easily as they had expected. They cursed at one another, and the Tank’s vitality and item durability slowly started being chipped away by the monster.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
The Silver Lizard’s attacks continuously pounded against the Tank’s barrier.
“Keuheuk…! Damn it!” the Tank cursed.
‘Hey… Isn’t this getting dangerous…?’ Han-Yeol thought. It seemed he was not the only one who had sensed the danger in the air; the other two Porters glanced backward, as they already appeared to be planning their escape.
It was then that the manager suddenly shouted, “Now! Let’s help the Hunters out!”
The manager’s gun spat a firestorm of bullets toward the monster. The remaining Porters did not really seem to want to engage the monster, but they had no choice but to fire as well, as the one in charge of them had opened fire first. They had to shoot at the monster alongside their manager if they wanted to stay in this line of work.
The same could be said for Han-Yeol. He fired his gun at the silver monster while exclaiming inwardly, ‘Die! Die you monster!’
Han-Yeol’s marksmanship was quite good, and he aimed precisely for the Silver Lizard’s legs, making it difficult for the monster to move around freely while cautiously avoiding any of its weak spots.
It was then that all of a sudden…
“Grrrr…!” The monster growled.
“Which bastard was it?!” the manager screamed and cursed.
“D-Damn it…!” one of the Porters cried out. He was a newbie Porter, and he had accidentally shot the Silver Lizard’s reverse scale, which was the monster’s biggest weak spot. He had become extremely nervous and failed to control his gun’s recoil.
A Hunter fell on his rear as his legs gave way.
The guns the Porters were using possessed stronger firepower than normal guns, as they had been made by a crafting-class Hunter. However, that did not mean their attacks had been able to inflict any kind of significant damage to the Silver Lizard; the monster did not show any signs of the damage bothering it.
The problem was the fact that the aggro was now directed toward the newbie Porter.
“Run!” the manager shouted.
“Euaaaaaaaah!” the newbie Porter screamed, realizing that he could have just made a fatal mistake. He had learned during his Porter training that such mistakes could actually cost him his life.
He threw away his gun and tried to run away.
He was only able to run about ten meters before tripping on a rock and falling.
‘That son of a bitch… What a shitshow…’ Han-Yeol cursed inwardly.
Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud…!”
“What the? The aggro shifted?”
The Hunters only realized that the Porters had screwed up when the Silver Lizard ignored them and walked away all of a sudden. It was normal for the Hunters to scream and curse at the Porters under such circumstances, but this time, they seemed to be quite relaxed instead.
“Phew…! We can finally catch a breather,” one of the Hunters said.
The Hunters had also been in a pinch against the Silver Lizard previously. They decided to use the time ‘bought’ by the Porter to reorganize and rearm themselves, giving up on drawing the monster’s aggro toward them.
“I feel sorry for that dude, but it’s not that strange for a Porter to die while working. Besides, we would have been in danger if the fight dragged on, so… That bastard ended up sacrificing himself to save us Hunters, eh?” one of the Hunters said nonchalantly with a shrug.
“It’s pretty unfortunate, but he can at least die proudly knowing that he had the honor of dying for us Hunters… An honor unbefitting of a lowly Porter like him, tch!” another Hunter said.
Their way of thinking was quite terrible. The Hunters were actually planning on using the Porter as bait to buy them some time to rest and rearm before fighting the monster again.
“Fuck!” Han-Yeol cursed the moment he realized that the Hunters had no intention of helping them out.
“H-Help me…!” the newbie Hunter cried out pleadingly. His legs had long since given up on him, and he lay helpless on the ground, unable to muster the strength to even stand up.
“Damn it!” Han-Yeol cursed. He had no idea where his courage had come from, but he took his magic gun and aimed at the Silver Lizard’s reverse scale before pulling the trigger.
His marksmanship was almost perfect, as all of the bullets precisely hit the area around the monster’s reverse scale and the reverse scale itself.
“Grrrr…!” The Silver Lizard growled and suddenly stopped going after the newbie Porter. It turned around and charged toward Han-Yeol.
“Euaaaaaaaaaah!” Han-Yeol screamed, running with all his might without even taking a single glance backward.
‘I’m dead if that thing catches up to me!’ he thought as he ran for his life. He was just an ordinary human who had not awakened yet, and it was certain that all the bones in his body would be crushed if the Silver Lizard so much as grazed past him.
‘Damn it! Damn it! Damn it…!’ Han-Yeol cursed inwardly. The only thing that he could do in such a messed-up circumstance was curse in his mind.
[Congratulations! Code Number 17588957, Lee Han-Yeol-nim.]
[You have awakened!]
[I am the Ego System, Karvis, that has been assigned to assist Lee Han-Yeol-nim from now on.]
He saw a message window suddenly pop up before his eyes, and his ears were filled with a voice that came out of nowhere. He tried to understand the current situation while running for dear life.
[The current situation: Running away from the Silver Lizard that is chasing you.]
[Your current remaining stamina is 55%.]
[Calculating the Silver Lizard’s speed…]
[You will be caught in 1 minute and 15 seconds.]
‘Stop talking and help me out, will you?!’ Han-Yeol screamed in his mind. He had no idea what was going on at all, but he strangely felt that he could survive if he followed whatever the voice in his head was going to tell him to do.
[The Silver Lizard’s level—2]
[You have no chance of winning against this monster if you fight against it.]
‘Then are you telling me to just die?’ Han-Yeol grumbled in his mind.
[I suppose I have no choice…]
[It has been 10,000 years since I was last out in the world, and I fear I will disappear immediately if things go on like this.]
[I will grant you a special skill within the limits of my power.]
[A new special skill has been created—Deep Stab.]
[There will be a low chance of instantly killing the target if you stab the enemy’s weak spot.]
[Remaining time: 45 seconds]
‘Ah, now’s not the time to be surprised,’ Han-Yeol thought. He gave up on running away and instantly turned around.
Then, he aimed precisely for the monster’s eyes and pulled the trigger.
Tang! Tang! Tang!
He hit the monster’s eyes accurately with his last three bullets. The monster staggered for a moment, closing its eyes and shaking its head.
‘Now’s my chance!’
Han-Yeol did not miss the opportunity to charge toward the monster with all of his strength. He targeted the monster's reverse scale, which was the weakest spot on its body, and stabbed the bayonet attached to his magic gun deep into it.
“Kwuuuuaaaaaah!” The Silver Lizard roared in pain.
[The ‘Deep Stab’ skill’s special effect has been successfully activated.]
[The Silver Lizard has been instantly killed.]
A very welcome notification rang out as soon as Han-Yeol accurately stabbed the reverse scale—the skill had been successful. The Silver Lizard did not even manage to put up a proper fight, and it lay on the ground while huffing and puffing with labored breathing. “Heok…! Heok…! Heok…!”
Han-Yeol finally let out the breath he was holding, relaxing at the sight of the monster lying helplessly on the ground. He exclaimed inwardly, ‘I… I won!’
Han-Yeol fell on his rear while huffing and puffing, as he no longer even had the strength to remain standing.
‘Ah… I thought I was going to die…!’ he thought inwardly.
It was as Han-Yeol was lying motionlessly on the ground like a dead person that the Hunters and Porters finally came running to him. It was a welcome sight, but he did not have the luxury to stand and greet them. The only thing that came out of his mouth was a small mutter that the Hunters and Porters would not be able to hear. “You’re late. Bastards.”
[Congratulations! You have successfully completed your first hunt!]
[You have automatically completed the tutorial!]
Han-Yeol had been able to win against the monster somehow, but he still had no idea how the Ego System that was speaking to him worked. He had thought he studied about all there was to know about the Hunters and the Awakened, but he was now faced with something he had never seen before in his life.
‘Can someone explain what the hell is this and what the hell is going on?!’
Han-Yeol had been able to kill the Silver Lizard somehow, but…
“Eh? What the? That thing died to a lowly Porter?”
“We brought it near death’s door, and this Porter was lucky enough to stab it and take the last hit.”
“That explains it!”
It never crossed the Hunters’ minds to think that the monster they had struggled and failed to kill had been killed by a lowly Porter. In fact, they thought a lowly Porter had dared to take the last hit of a hunt they had already set up for themselves.
They did not want to recognize Han-Yeol’s contribution to killing the Silver Lizard, which meant that they were unwilling to give him anything related to the Silver Lizard as a reward—at all.
“Hey, Porter! You don’t have any qualms, do you?” one of the Hunters asked.
“Ah! No, I don’t have any problems with that!” Han-Yeol responded.
“What a smart fellow,” another Hunter said cheekily.
‘These sons of bitches…!’ Han-Yeol cursed inwardly. While talking to the Hunters, he put on an innocent expression that seemed to show that he really had no qualms, but the moment he looked away, his face crumpled severely.
‘This bunch of shitheads…!’ Han-Yeol cursed inwardly once again.
Han-Yeol had actually hoped deep inside that they would recognize at least 1% of the kill as his contribution, but his expectations had been smashed to pieces even though he had suffered like a dog for the kill.
1. 1.3 million won/KRW is around 1,030 USD, which is not a lot relative to Korean costs of living.
2. The original text uses ‘파이어차징’, which is a transliteration from English.