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    I woke up in the hospital room.

    The sound of people whispering in lowered voices tickled my ears. What I saw was the white ceiling. As I slightly turned my head, I saw the backs of people’s heads.

    My injured arm and leg felt numb and painless. It seemed I had been given medication.

    As I blinked, a person approached my bedside.

    “You’re awake?”

    At the doctor’s voice, the people surrounding me simultaneously turned their bodies.

    I felt embarrassed by the gazes pouring on me.

    “Yes. Ah, was I asleep?”

    “You didn’t sleep, you were unconscious for a bit. You lost quite a bit of blood.”

    “Are you okay? How do you feel?”

    The doctor replied, and Amy stuck her head out to ask.

    I propped myself up on the bed with my elbow.

    A familiar room came into view. A spacious white room and unidentifiable medical equipment. The people sitting on round chairs and the bed against the wall.

    It was the medical office of Dr. Samuel Han. The place I had come to yesterday.

    Large gauze was attached to my forearm and ankle. Although it’s not clearly visible due to the gauze, the wound doesn’t seem shallow. But it didn’t hurt at all. Did I receive painkillers?

    Anyway, it was a tremendous relief to have only ended up with these injuries after facing that thing.

    I checked the people surrounding the bed. Ricardo and Amy sitting on chairs. The handsome braided-haired man standing with a troubled expression.

    Samuel was looking at a pad.

    I nodded and rubbed my neck with my uninjured hand.

    “It doesn’t hurt at all. Thank you. For saving me… I feel like I’ve been causing you trouble since yesterday. I’m really sorry.”

    “What did you do wrong?”

    “Rick. Don’t be sarcastic. It’s a bad habit.”

    “You shouldn’t walk around as much as possible for a week.”

    I turned my head at the doctor’s words.

    The doctor called Samuel Han put the pad down on the desk. He looked at me with his hands tucked in his doctor’s coat.

    His clear blue eyes held a firm confidence and expertise in his work.

    “I’ll try my best.”

    I have no idea how I’ll live for the next week, though.

    As if reading my thoughts, Ricardo laughed long. He grinned cheekily and poked the braided-haired man’s side with his elbow.

    The man quietly looked at Ricardo, then firmly pushed the elbow away.

    Then he took a step closer to me.

    “Mr. Hilde.”

    “Yes. Ah, I’m Hildebert Talev.”

    “My introduction is late. I’m Chief of Staff Ska Owen.”

    What?

    This person was the Chief of Staff? I widened my eyes and observed the man standing in front of me.

    The man who had rushed out and saved my life earlier.

    Even upside down, he was handsome, but looking at him right-side up, he was even more striking. Tan skin that was pleasing to the eye, braided hair reaching his shoulders. A suit that fit his body perfectly and several silver piercings on his ears. A faint scent of cologne.

    Ska Owen was a handsome man with the appearance of someone in his mid to late twenties.

    The Chief of Staff, whom I unexpectedly encountered like this, spoke.

    “First, let me apologize.”

    Why are you apologizing?

    “I noticed too late that you were bleeding. Since you said you had an Enhanced Body, I assumed you would naturally heal… It’s my fault.”

    “No, not at all. If you hadn’t saved me, I wouldn’t be alive right now.”

    “It’s my job to protect civilians from those things.”

    As expected, these people weren’t doing ordinary work. But whatever it was, the fact that he was the savior of my life doesn’t change.

    Before I could respond, Ska continued.

    “And it seems your meeting with the Commander-in-Chief will be delayed quite a bit. It’s the first time creatures have appeared near the headquarters, and two of them at the same time. There were no fatalities and only one injured person, Mr. Hilde, but the media has been in an uproar. I think it will take at least a week to settle down.”

    “Ah. It’s fine. As you know… I currently have no foundation for my life or memories of it… So I have nothing in particular to do or that needs to be done.”

    I was originally going to have brunch with Amy and Ricardo.

    But I couldn’t eat because of the monsters that suddenly appeared. Thinking about food, I became uncontrollably hungry.

    What time is it now?

    “Now it’s…”

    “12:10!”

    Amy said, blinking her eyes.

    “You must be hungry.”

    I awkwardly nodded and scanned my surroundings.

    The hospital room was dyed in sunlight pouring through the window. The sound of people moving busily could be heard through the door. A lively midday scene came into view.

    It’s hard to believe I almost died at the hands of a grotesque creature just now.

    The doctor abruptly held out a piece of chocolate.

    “At least eat this.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Someone tell her where she’ll be staying for a week. Have her taken there in a wheelchair. Let’s check for any abnormalities again once her body is fully healed.”

    “Are there more unusual things about me…?”

    I wonder if there’s even a normal part.

    As I muttered in a fed-up voice, Ricardo’s smile lengthened.

    The doctor picked up the pad and provided an explanation.

    “Yeah. Usually, enhanced recovery, including the halt of aging, must be implemented first for an Enhanced Body to be successfully transplanted. But in your case, you have an Enhanced Body transplanted, but your recovery ability isn’t as superior to that extent.”

    I see.

    “It’s not at the level of an ordinary person’s recovery, though. The halt of aging seems to be properly in place too. Anyway, it’s true that your recovery is inferior to regular Badgers, so let’s do some more tests in a week.”

    The doctor spoke nonchalantly as he tapped on the pad.

    I looked at the doctor recording something and let out a dry laugh. I’m so dumbfounded that I can’t even speak. I had no idea why strange things kept popping up one after another.

    The doctor, who had recorded something on the pad, looked up and said decisively.

    “For now, go and rest. The tests aren’t urgent.”

    I nodded while chewing the chocolate.

    But I wasn’t sure what to do. It didn’t hurt, but my limbs were numb. Judging by the instruction to use a wheelchair, it seemed I wasn’t in a state to walk normally…

    Since one leg and one arm were intact, maybe I could move if I found a wheelchair?

    As I turned my body to get off the bed, those surrounding me reacted.

    “Mr. Hilde, wait a moment. Rick. Wheelchair.”

    “Hey, don’t just move like that!”

    “What? Ah, yes. I’m sorry…”

    “Just wait. I’ll go find something for you to ride in…”

    Chief of Staff Ska extended his hand to stop me from stepping on the floor with my uninjured leg. Perhaps startled by my sudden movement, the doctor spoke up loudly. Ricardo got up from his seat to go find a wheelchair.

    I awkwardly nodded, my arm grabbed by Amy, who had scurried over.

    “Thank you.”

    Amy looked up at me.

    “How’s your condition?”

    “Everything’s fine except that I’m hungry.”

    “Great. You have the room you slept in yesterday, right? I’ll take you there. I already ordered brunch to eat together when you woke up.”

    “Thank you so much. And please speak comfortably with me.”

    I don’t know my age, but I probably haven’t lived less than 70 years.

    Ricardo brought a wheelchair from somewhere in the hospital room.

    I put strength into my uninjured foot. Then Amy firmly supported my arm.

    She has an incredible grip strength.

    “Okay. Then I’ll speak comfortably.”

    Amy lifted me and swiftly seated me in the wheelchair.

    “Let’s go eat brunch!”

    Ricardo and Amy wheeled me away.

    I was quickly guided to the room right next to the one I had stayed in. The brunch Amy had bought and the clothes Ricardo said he had delivered. The clothing items gifted by Joo.

    Ricardo left the room, saying he was going to work.

    Only Amy and I were left in the new room.

    “You have to rest here for a week.”

    Amy walked over and opened the brunch packaging.

    “I’ll come to visit often during the week. Let’s become close while you’re recovering here.”

    I realized I would have to be obediently confined here for a week. It was probably related to the Enhanced Body transplanted in me. It would also be connected to the fact that I had suddenly appeared in the portal zone.

    Furthermore, the incomplete recovery ability… And perhaps also due to the two grotesque lifeforms that had unusually appeared at the headquarters.

    But pondering over it now won’t yield any answers.

    I looked at the youthful woman fidgeting and slowly nodded.

    Then, pushing aside the complex thoughts, I had brunch with the person I had first met yesterday.

    ***

    The week I couldn’t leave the room was more peaceful than I thought.

    I wouldn’t have been able to go here and there anyway due to the leg injury. I decided to enjoy the situation since it had come to this.

    It was an environment where I could enjoy it sufficiently. Amy and Ricardo took turns bringing me food, and all I had to do was eat it.

    I spent my days eating, reading books they brought, or engaging in light conversation.

    “You’re living it up thanks to me.”

    On the evening of the third day I was stuck there, Ricardo said with a grin.

    “Guarding an unregistered Enhanced Body holder who appeared in the portal zone. It’s to the point where I’m confused if I’m on vacation or on a mission…”

    I felt a little relieved. The fact that I was being a burden had been bothering me. Even while laughing and chatting with Ricardo and Amy, I felt uncomfortable due to the guilt…

    Even if it wasn’t true, I was grateful he said that.

    Time passed as I encountered familiar foods and foods I saw for the first time. But they were surprisingly delicious.

    I spent 7 days buried in an environment like the languid midday air.

    A week in which I couldn’t obtain any significant information.

    There was no TV or computer.

    “This is a place for the executives to rest.”

    When I asked if there was no TV in this world, Amy answered.

    “It’s designed to have almost no external stimuli so they can completely switch off and rest.”

    I nodded and didn’t ask further.

    It was probably not a lie. But it also included the meaning that watching TV wasn’t permitted for me.

    Sometimes, I think it’s wiser to keep silent than to ask questions. I should slowly unravel the accumulated questions after my leg heals. After gaining more trust from Amy and Ricardo.

    And after the Commander-in-Chief, the highest decision-maker of the organization, decides how to deal with me.

    Throughout the week, the Commander-in-Chief was never mentioned. During my confinement, Chief of Staff Ska visited once, and HR Director Joo also showed up, but they didn’t utter a word about the Commander-in-Chief either. So I was almost forgetting about his existence.

    I spent my days immersed in the languid routine, not thinking about what lay ahead.

    After spending a week like that, I met the Commander-in-Chief face to face.

    ***

    “Mr. Hilde.”

    The Commander-in-Chief called my name in a husky voice and turned his head.

    “I’m truly sorry for the delay in our meeting.”

    The person who turned to look at me, taking his gaze off the window.

    I stopped in my tracks as I walked into the office.

    I stupidly stared at the man standing in front of the window. His appearance was clearly etched in my eyes under the pouring sunlight.

    Skin so white it seemed to lack pigment. Jet-black hair. The man’s large eyes were drawing a gentle curve, and his facial features were handsome. If it weren’t for his impressively tall height and the black suit that clung to his slender body, I might have mistaken him for a woman for a moment.

    This person was the highest decision-maker here.

    “Hello.”

    I was at a loss for words due to the indescribable charisma.

    “I’m Hildebert Talev.”

    After introducing myself, I didn’t move from my spot.

    It wasn’t that I was nervous because of his authoritative gaze. I thought he exuded the gentlest atmosphere among the people I had met so far.

    But those eyes.

    Despite his apparent appearance being in his twenties, those two eyes made it impossible to doubt that he had lived a long time. I lost my words as I faced the Commander-in-Chief’s large eyes, filled with sorrow, resignation, and the expertise derived from them.

    His charisma originated from there.

    Eyes that only someone who had endured a time filled with pain could possess.

    “I’m Lee Ye-hyeon.”

    The man spoke softly and lightly glanced at my leg and arm.

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Are your wounds a bit better?”

    “Yes. Thanks to you… I just received a diagnosis that I’m fully healed, and all the gauze and bandages have been removed.”

    “That’s a relief. Please sit comfortably in that chair. We have a lot to say to each other.”

    “…Yes.”

    I walked towards the chair in front of the large desk.

    As I sat on the plush chair, the man who had been watching me also moved slowly. The man walked over leisurely and pulled out the chair from the desk. Then he sat down and erased the hologram windows floating above the desk.

    He raised his head and looked at me.

    “Shall we begin?”

    Ye-hyeon spoke humbly with an unreadable expression.

    I slowly nodded.

    “Yes.”

    The meeting with Commander-in-Chief Lee Ye-hyeon began.

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