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    I hurriedly knelt down in front of the fainted man.


    I urgently shouted while lifting up the gray-haired man’s head.

    “Hey, pull yourself together!”

    [Oh my!]

    Someone exclaimed above my head.

    …Above my head?

    Looking up, I spotted a round machine attached to the ceiling. It was suspended from the ceiling like a disco ball, using its camera to look down at me and the collapsed man.

    [John finally collapsed!]

    I hadn’t misheard. This voice was definitely coming from that disco ball-like object.

    I stared intently at the camera-equipped disco ball while cradling the fallen man in my arms.


    [I will notify Dr. Han in advance! Would the unnamed individual please move John to the hospital?]


    I trailed off in bewilderment and surveyed my surroundings.

    People in white lab coats were craning their necks to stare this way. People half-risen from their seats. People asking if they should help.

    What was surprising was that they weren’t very shocked by this situation. Rather than surprised, they wore expressions that seemed to say ‘finally, something like this happened…’.

    Why do they all look like they expected this to happen?

    Anyhow, as I was thinking that I should first take the collapsed person to the hospital, a familiar voice rang out.


    My instructor’s low voice couldn’t have been more welcome.

    “It finally ended up like this?”


    I called out to the man who stopped in front of me with delight.

    “You’re here! The person next to me suddenly collapsed…”

    “Because he didn’t eat.”

    Yoon spoke matter-of-factly.


    “Didn’t eat what?”

    “Food. Hey, pick him up. Looks like we can go see Samuel together.”

    Yoon gestured at the man lying in my arms like a withered tree while flicking the documents in his hand.

    Today too, he wasn’t surprised. My instructor took in the sight of me standing up with a dumbfounded expression while carrying the man. As if watching me lift dumbbells in the gym.

    The researchers who had been craning their necks to watch began turning their gazes back to the monitors before them one by one.

    The lab quickly regained its flow. Only the disco ball overhead continued to focus on us, spinning around and around on the ceiling.

    [I contacted Dr. Han!]

    “Oh, okay.”

    “What is that thing?”

    I looked at my instructor who drily replied to the disco ball’s shout.

    “A disco ball AI?”

    “Disco ball?”

    [Disco ball AI?]

    Yoon shot me a look as if he had heard the stupidest thing in the world. The disco ball repeated my words in a tone that suggested it had heard something shocking.

    But I only blinked. By now, those kinds of expressions from my instructor didn’t faze me at all. At some point, the worry that I shouldn’t appear stupid to my instructor had vanished.

    He’ll probably think the majority of humans are dumb anyway.

    Yoon spoke.

    “Its name is Martin.”


    [Nice to meet you!]

    Well, aren’t you something.

    The AI’s tone was bright yet polite. I nodded while raising my chin to gaze at the machine’s camera.

    I exited the lab while carrying the collapsed man in my arms. I obediently followed Yoon who was heading towards the medical wing. Martin also swished along to accompany us.

    Why is it following?

    As we walked through the frenzied and chaotic lab, Martin stayed above my head the whole time.


    It’s still following even after leaving the lab.

    Yoon eyed the machine that was tagging along by only rolling its eyeballs.

    “Martin. Stay inside.”

    [Aha. Will do!]

    The machine readily obeyed Yoon’s words.

    The disco ball-like machine quietly went back inside, just as it had quietly emerged from the lab. As soon as it disappeared from view, I shortened the distance with my instructor.

    “Can that thing come outside the lab?”

    “If it wants to. For now, it’s been made to freely roam around inside the research wing.”


    I didn’t miss the last part of my instructor’s sentence.

    We strode down the corridor teeming with people in lab coats. I had to be mindful not to let the long arms and legs of the man I was carrying bump into anyone.

    Yoon explained without looking back.

    “I made it.”


    “To be precise, I made it together with the man you’re carrying right now.”

    Together with this gray-haired man?

    Hearing that, I felt like I knew this person’s name. Hadn’t Yoon once offhandedly mentioned it before? That there was someone who invented the Core.

    He had also added that the founder of the Core later received an Enhanced body.

    I looked down at the unconscious man.

    “I can’t directly ask since I’m carrying him, but may I know his name?”

    “John Mullein.”

    I knew it.

    His long limbs dangled loosely downwards. But the people in the research wing didn’t seem surprised by this bizarre sight and went on their way.

    “Even if he hadn’t collapsed, you would have never heard his name directly from him.”


    “You think a person who gets so immersed in research that he forgets to eat would bother to talk to you?”

    He didn’t skip meals, but forgot them?

    How is that possible? I’m starving to death just from falling asleep crying and missing one lunch. Once again, all sorts of questions arose. I kept silent while contemplating which question to bring up first.

    At some point, the lively corridor quieted down and began exuding the distinctive atmosphere of a hospital.

    As the surroundings became tranquil, I called Yoon’s name and asked.

    “Did you come up with the name Martin yourself?”

    Yoon turned his head to look at me.

    My instructor, who had been staring at me with eyes that seemed to ask why I was inquiring about such a thing, replied in a flat voice.


    Satisfied with the answer, I remained silent until we arrived at Dr. Han’s office.


    Samuel was eating a sandwich at his desk.

    As we entered, he raised his head from the sandwich and looked at us. A sparsely shaven chin. Shaggy black hair and intelligent blue eyes. He looked exactly the same as when I first fell into this world.

    He deeply furrowed his brow upon seeing us stride inside.

    “He finally collapsed?”

    The doctor put down his sandwich and sprang up from his seat.

    “I knew this would happen. I told you to properly check if he’s eating on time.”

    “I haven’t been sticking around the lab much lately because of this greenhorn.”

    Yoon protested to the doctor who was rapidly approaching.

    Samuel Han paid no heed to my instructor’s protest. He examined the pale, unconscious man and sighed with a furrowed brow.

    “Lindsey! Freeze!”

    People who appeared to be nurses came rushing out from inside.

    “John Mullein is here. You probably know the condition without me telling you. Take him and administer nutrients, and give this little guy carrying John Mullein a full health checkup.”

    “Yes. He hasn’t come out of the lab for weeks, so it finally ended up like this.”

    Things proceeded swiftly.

    The nurses skillfully took John Mullein from me as if it was something they did every time. Empty-handed, I was guided by other nurses. And I underwent various examinations.

    Nothing had changed from the first day.

    After completing the exams, I returned to Samuel Han’s office.

    I saw John Mullein lying on a bed in the office, receiving an IV drip. Samuel was chatting with my instructor in front of his desk.

    …Choi Yoon engaging in small talk?

    “Oh, good work.”

    The doctor, who had been snickering at Yoon’s words, craned his neck upon seeing me.

    “Come sit. Have you been eating well? How come you’re always on an empty stomach whenever you come here?”

    “Ah, yes. I’ve been eating well. It just so happened that I skipped lunch today.”

    “I’ll give you the leftover sandwich so at least eat that.”

    Samuel pointed to the round chair in front of the desk.

    What a kind person… I obediently followed the doctor’s instructions. I waited for the doctor’s diagnosis as he chewed on the sandwich he handed me and scrutinized my examination results, going “Let’s see.”

    Yoon also waited with crossed legs for Dr. Han to speak.

    Samuel broke the silence with an inscrutable face while looking at the screen.

    “There are no issues with your current health.”

    “Thank you. I also felt like I had fully recovered.”

    “I can’t increase your recovery rate either. Normally, with this level of recovery speed, the Enhanced body shouldn’t be able to handle it, you know? But you’re in perfect harmony right now. If I forcibly try to boost the recovery rate here, I’m afraid it might cause abnormalities in your body.”

    What are you saying, doctor?

    My jaw dropped at the out-of-the-blue diagnosis. Then are you telling me I have to remain a half-baked Black Badger for life?

    That won’t do. Every time I go out on a mission, I don’t want to become a burden to my fellow trainees and seniors.

    Yoon was the one who spoke up.

    “So he has to keep living like this?”

    “That’s the safest. His body is in perfect health right now, so there’s no reason to lay a hand on it.”

    “But his recovery rate is lower than other Badgers’. It’s far superior to civilians, but the thing is, the bleeding doesn’t stop right away.”

    “But it’s tricky to intervene. Increasing the recovery rate isn’t a risk-free procedure either. His recovery rate isn’t at a complete civilian level. This level of recovery would never come from a civilian. Can’t he just carry on in this state?”

    “Doctor, I’d like to either increase my recovery rate or discard my Enhanced body.”

    I cautiously expressed my opinion.

    Samuel Han whipped his head around. His wide-open eyes seemed to convey his feelings.

    The doctor stared at me and slowly spoke.

    “What did you say?”

    “I think I’ll only be a burden in this state. If I can’t do my fair share, wouldn’t it be better to discard the Enhanced body…”

    “Do you know how much strain discarding the Enhanced body puts on you?”

    The doctor furrowed his brow.

    I nodded without avoiding his disapproving gaze.

    “I’ve heard about it.”

    “You know, but you say those words so easily? Kid, don’t try to show off.”

    “It may seem like bravado to you, but I’m truly serious. You know where I came from, don’t you? I’ve already caused trouble for the organization by popping up out of nowhere, so continuing to cause trouble like this…”

    “What trouble have you caused? What have you done?”

    I’m holding back my fellow trainees.

    I tried to answer, but the doctor didn’t give me a chance to reply.

    He waved his hand dismissively with an expression that said he wouldn’t listen any further.

    “Instead of spouting nonsense, go do more training. Unless you find it atrociously terrible to remain as a Black Badger, I have no intention of discarding a Badger’s perfectly fine Enhanced body.”

    “Then could you at least attempt to raise my recovery rate to the level of ordinary Badgers?”

    “Ah, that’s easier said than done. That process can also become irreversible if it goes wrong! Just train more! So that even if your recovery rate is a bit lower, it won’t be a problem! That’s the best method for now. Learn emergency first-aid techniques from Yoon perfectly.”

    “But it’s not like there are no issues with me currently.”

    “It’s so flawless that it’s strange, I’m telling you. Normally, with this level of recovery rate, the Enhanced body shouldn’t be able to handle it…”

    “Things have been strange with the Core since that day.”

    An unfamiliar voice interjected.

    The voice came from the corner of the medical office. Our heads turned towards the source of the sound.

    Three pairs of eyes gazed at the man lying with his hands clasped together as if in a coffin.

    The man who only opened his blue eyes to stare at the ceiling.

    “Where’s the guy who fell from the portal.”

    Those were the first words uttered by John Mullein.

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