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    It seems we left in the opposite direction from the seniors. Even though we had escaped the auditorium, there were few people in the corridor. From a distance, I could hear the sound of people streaming out. The echoing of their voices too.

    Are we going straight home like this?

    If so, I’ll have to hitch a ride in Yoon’s car again. I stood still in the corridor, waiting for the man who was looking at his phone. The shack was quite satisfactory, but the problem was that without a car, transportation was inconvenient.

    I don’t have a car, and I couldn’t even remember if I had obtained a license.

    I’m really a strange one, even to my own eyes.

    As I was thinking, Yoon approached.

    “Stay put for a moment.”

    He scanned the corridor, then pointed to a recessed area where unused chairs were stacked.

    “Go sit on a chair over there and wait.”

    “…Do I really have to go into that corner?”

    “There’s more than one or two people who want to catch you and chatter away.”

    Yoon explained as he watched me obediently head towards the dusty chairs.

    “It’ll be annoying if you get caught.”

    “Okay.”

    Whatever the reason, I intended to do as told.

    I tucked myself into the darkness and sat down. Yoon left without further explanation. I leaned my head against the wall and let out a long sigh.

    Can I do well?

    Was the self-introduction just now alright? I don’t know if I answered the questions well. Yoon didn’t offer any feedback to speak of.

    Can’t you at least provide some feedback…?

    Grumbling inwardly at my supervisor’s heartlessness, I also pondered tonight’s dinner menu.

    At that moment, I heard voices.

    “What is this?”

    A voice tinged with discontent.

    “We didn’t recruit any newbies recently, right?”

    They’re talking about me.

    My drifting mind snapped back.

    I tensed up and reflexively pressed my body against the wall.

    Footsteps were approaching. What if I get caught? The moment I thought that, multiple sets of footsteps abruptly stopped nearby.

    I quietly moved further inside. Then, with my body glued to the wall, I poked my head out.

    I caught a glimpse of a blond back of the head.

    It belonged to the owner of the voice. I saw his mouth moving then closing, so I was almost certain.

    I couldn’t see the people who would be standing across from him.

    The men began to speak, standing in the corridor.

    “And what’s this? Gathering the Badgers just to listen to some newbie’s self-intro?”

    “But hasn’t it always been like this? Though this newbie is definitely odd.”

    “Before, the head of HR would formally call for it, but he never made such a fuss.”

    True. The second voice mumbled, agreeing with Blondie’s point.

    The owner of the blond head continued in an irritated tone.

    “The Commander-in-Chief orders us to attend this shit? That little fuck doesn’t know his place.”

    “That’s what I’m saying, it’s unsightly… Is he bored these days? It’s been nearly 5 years since we last reclaimed our territory.”

    “Bored, my ass. It hasn’t been that long since a creature appeared at the headquarters.”

    “By the way, why is that newbie’s supervisor Choi Yoon?”

    “That’s the first strange thing.”

    Blondie pointed out in a malicious voice. Hostility towards Ye-hyeon seeped through his intonation.

    What the hell? I blinked, eavesdropping on their conversation while holding my breath. I thought they were dissatisfied with me. But listening to their voices, it seemed they disliked Ye-hyeon more than me.

    To be precise, I got the feeling that Blondie despised Ye-hyeon to the point of trembling with rage.

    Why is that? Because Ye-hyeon is the top boss? Or does he not like Ye-hyeon’s way of doing things?

    The moment I tried to guess the reason for the evident loathing, Blondie added in an irritated tone.

    “Isn’t that fucker a parachute Ye-hyeon shoved in?”

    [TL/N: Parachute here means someone’s gotten inside an organization with someone’s help or through personal connections]

    Spot on.

    To see through it so easily. I looked up at the ceiling, feeling a sense of futility, fear, and resignation.

    Of course. As if I could easily deceive people just by forging some documents…

    “That’s absurd.”

    The third voice objected.

    “You know how strict the Black Badger selection process is. Recruiting human weapons is no joke. If he were a real parachute, his head would fly off the moment the media caught wind of it. That bastard may be unqualified, but he’s not stupid enough to pull that kind of stunt.”

    “He was stupid enough to pull it off.”

    “I hate that son of a bitch too, but he’s not the type to pursue personal gain, is he?”

    “He makes exceptions for Yoon.”

    The second voice, which had been agreeing with Blondie, countered.

    Then the third voice, who had argued, retorted.

    “There’s a huge difference between making exceptions for Yoon’s convenience and shoving in a parachute. In the first place, there’s no reason to force that newbie in as a Badger.”

    A gruff voice continued.

    “The reason for recruitment is probably as explained, but there must be a problem elsewhere. Didn’t they say he has issues with his recovery ability? We’ll have to wait and see what exact problem it is. And what his skills are like.”

    “No way he’s normal.”

    Blondie, who had started the gossip, snorted.

    “If he were normal, there’d be no reason to make such a fuss.”

    From my perspective, Blondie disliked Ye-hyeon and seemed determined to hate everything Ye-hyeon did. But as he backpedaled, he was hitting the nail on the head with several answers.

    Does he actually have keen insight?

    The malicious voice continued.

    “High likelihood of problems not just in skills but elsewhere too…”

    The sound of footsteps.

    The conversation couldn’t continue. Because the sound of people’s footsteps gradually drew nearer. Regular and neat footsteps, and leisurely, lazy footsteps.

    I took in the sound of the men, including Blondie, shutting their mouths, and the simultaneous halt of the footsteps.

    A familiar voice reached my ears.

    “What?”

    It was Yoon’s dry voice.

    “Why are you staring like that?”

    “Hello, seniors~…”

    The drawling voice that followed belonged to Ricardo.

    “Long time no see…”

    What could be the matter with Ricardo?

    It seems he came with Yoon. But the thought that popped into my head didn’t continue.

    The men who had gathered to gossip threw words at the people I knew.

    “Hey. Who’s that?”

    It was Blondie’s voice.

    “The newbie? And you’re his supervisor?”

    “He’s the newbie and I’m his supervisor. What else do you want to know?”

    I heard Yoon retorting indifferently.

    He truly was a consistently unpleasant person. He was equally ill-mannered not just to me, but to everyone. Except maybe around Amy. And the Commander-in-Chief.

    “Since when did you become a supervisor? And when was that so-called newbie recruited?”

    “I said it was the head of HR’s decision.”

    Yoon shot back in a bored voice.

    “I’m more curious, so go ask him yourself. Do I look like the type to keep track of every newbie recruitment schedule?”

    “You don’t even know when your junior was recruited? The recruitment process is fishy too.”

    “Don’t care.”

    Yoon lied as easily as breathing.

    But it seemed no one would doubt him. His answer was as natural as air. Even the men who had been eagerly gossiping didn’t press further, probably thinking Yoon was telling the truth.

    Instead, the second voice, which had been enthusiastically agreeing with Blondie, asked.

    “But why are you wearing combat gear?”

    “I’m going to hunt creatures.”

    Yoon’s voice was still indifferent.

    “If you’re done talking, go on your way now.”

    “Creatures? What creatures? You only deal with creatures near the headquarters. There’s nothing right now.”

    “He’s probably going to catch butterflies.”

    Blondie cynically interjected.

    “Since he’s heading to the residence of the Commander-in-Chief that Typhoon respects so much. So he has to catch creatures he wouldn’t normally catch. Even if there’s no significant damage, he has to use emergency personnel. Because our Commander-in-Chief might be in danger.”

    “You sure do love Ye-hyeon too, in your own way.”

    Yoon retorted in a voice devoid of emotion.

    My supervisor really… He had a natural talent for speaking rudely.

    “There’s no other Badger who thinks about Ye-hyeon every day like you do.”

    Bang!

    It sounded like Blondie stomped his dress shoe on the marble floor.

    The sound reverberated off the walls. But no one reacted.

    A brief silence fell. Eventually, around the time the echo of the shoe colliding with the marble completely faded, I heard the three grumbling men leave.

    I took in the sound of their receding footsteps and Blondie spitting out his final words through gritted teeth.

    “Let’s see what kind of bastard your junior is.”

    Why am I catching flak for this?

    “Just wait and see if he’s an ill-mannered little shit like you.”

    Why are you doing this to me?

    There’s no way I could be as ill-mannered as this person. Didn’t you see me politely introducing myself?

    The protest that formed in my mind didn’t become a sound.

    I quietly listened to the fading footsteps. Until a smooth silence returned to the corridor and the sound of rain outside could be faintly heard.

    They’re gone.

    Even after it became clear that the men had left, I couldn’t bring myself to come out of the shadowy crevice. It felt like I had unintentionally overheard something I shouldn’t have.

    I should just stay crouched in this corner until they find me.

    Ricardo’s head popped out.

    “Ahh! What the hell!”

    “What…?”

    Startled by the vivid green eyes, I jumped up, and Ricardo narrowed his eyes.

    He put on his characteristic languid smile.

    “What are you doing there~?”

    “I told him to go in there.”

    Yoon walked over.

    He looked at me with inscrutable cold eyes and crooked his index finger.

    “Come out.”

    “Okay.”

    “You heard everything?”

    Ricardo grinned as I quickly emerged.

    I smiled sheepishly and rubbed my neck. The corridor was empty, as before. Only two tall, handsome men were looking at me.

    Ricardo, wearing the same jet-black special ops uniform as when we first met. Yoon, wearing the same clothes as him.

    Black suited Yoon astonishingly well.

    “Let’s go.”

    Without paying any heed to my wide-eyed reaction, my supervisor said what he had to say.

    “Before the eye of the typhoon reaches the house.”

    “Yes. Um… But why is Ricardo here?”

    “Why… Should I just go?”

    This person is also not easy to deal with.

    I brightly smiled – smile, Hildebert, smile. – and breezily defused the situation.

    “I was anguished not being able to see you all this time, senior.”

    “Your words flow like a mountain stream as always.”

    “Hey. If you don’t step on it, we’ll be late, so let’s just go.”

    Yoon turned and started walking.

    As always, he walked briskly without explanation. I hurriedly followed close behind him. Ricardo also lazily replied, “Yes, senior,” and walked after Yoon.

    We headed swiftly to the underground parking lot without a word. Without running into any familiar faces, to where the car I had ridden in the morning was parked.

    The black Lamborghini was still sleek and beautiful.

    The car took off the moment I closed the rear door.

    ***

    I couldn’t see ahead.

    The fierce rain pelted the car. I gazed at the spectacle outside the window, my mouth half-open. Our destination wasn’t far. But I was starting to doubt if we could reach our destination at all.

    Is this okay?

    The front windshield… The visibility is just zero? The sound of the wind battering the car doesn’t seem normal either.

    Aren’t we going to get blown away, car and all?

    But despite my unease making me grip the seat belt tightly, the car sped along the road. Even as the wheels started to skid and the speed gradually slowed, it didn’t stop advancing.

    As we kept going like that, I felt we had entered a familiar road.

    Although the sensation of familiarity itself was unfamiliar to me, whose memories had all flown away, the surroundings felt uncannily familiar despite not being clearly visible.

    “Is that your shack-?”

    Ricardo, who had been sitting in the passenger seat with his eyes closed, broke the silence.

    His green eyes were narrowly open. I quietly followed his line of sight.

    In the pouring rain, a small silhouette could be seen. Something daintily situated across from a gigantic silhouette.

    My sweet home.

    As soon as I saw the house, an unfamiliar emotion surged up. Could this be what they call longing? I was immersed in the feeling of returning home after a long day.

    I spoke in a joyful voice.

    “Yes! That’s…”

    Boom, boom, boom!

    With a deafening sound, something flew into the sky.

    A dark silhouette vanished into the wind and rain with a thunderous roar.

    I widened my eyes and watched the shadow soaring on the whirlwind.

    What the hell is that?

    “Your roof is flying off.”

    Yoon, who was holding the steering wheel, said.

    “I warned you.”

    “…Huh?”

    “Oh my~.”

    What?

    “How unfortunate…”

    “…Hm?”

    “Get out for now. Try not to faint from getting hit by debris when you do.”

    I’m sorry?

    What did you say? Get out?

    …And what flew off, you said?

    That’s the shack’s roof?

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