Chapter 146. Chameleon Troupe (3)


From the sky, bits and pieces of obsidian and concrete rained down.
Koong. Koong.
As the fragments of the broken tower struck the ground, large vibrations rang out and dirty smoke rose up.

“…Haha.”

In this chaos, Cheok Jungyeong and Jin Yohan let out a subdued laugh.
A tower that was standing just three seconds ago was now destroyed. To top it off, it was only a single arrow that caused this catastrophe.
The two of them couldn’t be more satisfied.

“Looks like we made the right choice.”

“See, I told you, my eyes are never wrong.”

They had achieved their first goal.
Now, it was up to them. Cheok Jungyeong equipped his gauntlet and Jin Yohan held up his spear.
Then, they walked into the chaos of the destroyed tower.

“Don’t forget, we’re only killing the executives. Boss is watching.”

“…I know. Oh look, there’s one there.”

Cheok Jungyeong quickly found a person to kill.
He had jumped down from the crumbling building and landed lightly.
Cheok Jungyeong wasn’t sure who he was, but his gut feeling told him that the man was an executive.
Cheok Jungyeong gathered strength around his feet.
His muscles bulked up, and he shot forward.

“Huup!”

As he kicked off the ground, a small crater appeared on the ground where he was standing. His leap was like the firing of a cannon.

“What!?”

“Caught you—!”

Cheok Jungyeong grabbed the man’s head and slammed it onto the ground. The man’s bones were instantly broken as his head was crushed by the sheer strength of Cheok Jungyeong’s smash.
Immediately after his first kill, Cheok Jungyeong raised his body and flashed his fierce eyes. He was like a predator looking for prey.
It didn’t take long.
Cheok Jungyeong shot towards someone running away.
KOONG!

“…Are you sure you’re not a beast?”

Jin Yohan mumbled as he shook his head. Meanwhile, Cheok Jungyeong was charging at another enemy. He was really like a dexterous ogre.

“Fuck! Who is he!?”

At that moment, a man’s shouting entered Jin Yohan’s ears. Jin Yohan turned to the direction of the sound, where he saw a Caucasian man in his early 30s pointing his fingers at Cheok Jungyeong. Jin Yohan recognized the man.

Hatred’s End, executive number three, Slavan.

Soon, Slavan also discovered Jin Yohan. Then Jin Yohan smiled brightly as he pointed his spear at Slavan. Then, he shot forward.

“Dammit!”

Slavan took out the sword hanging by his waist. His sharp blade met Jin Yohan’s seemingly simple spear strikes.

Crack—

Although it seemed like a light clash, the result was overwhelmingly one-sided.
Jin Yohan’s spear crushed Slavan’s body and sword.
Instantly changing to a weight of 10 tons, Jin Yohan’s Serpent Spear had crushed Slavan with its weight alone.

“I got one.”

Jin Yohan reported with a smile.

**


I contacted Khalifa as soon as I finished my duty. Khalifa appeared quickly and made a Portal, and I returned to Chameleon Troupe’s hideout.

The hideout looked a lot different than when I first arrived. Of course, only two weeks had passed since I started the remodeling process, so I wasn’t even done with 10% of the project. However, just the fact that the cave was separated into rooms made it much better.

To put it simply, I turned the cave into a dome-like structure with a central lobby. The dome then had doors that led to each member’s room, a workshop, a research lab, and others.

“I’m back.”

“Good work.”

Boss was sitting on the only couch in the lobby.

“You did well. The other members will take care of the rest.”

Boss smiled as she spoke, and I smiled back. Then, Boss suddenly made a shooing gesture with her hand.

“Now move.”

“Pardon?”

Behind me, Droon’s video was being projected. Inside, Jin Yohan and Cheok Jungyeong were in the middle of a battle.

“Ah, yes.”

It didn’t feel right sitting next to Boss, so I went behind the couch. Boss’ head was right in front of me.

“….”

Looking from the distance, I noticed that Boss’ hair was quite disheveled. There were a few spiky splits as well.
An unbearable urge rose up in my heart. It was the side effect of Aether’s Aesthetic Greed.

“B-Boss, do you want me to comb your hair a bit?”

“Hm?”

Boss tilted her head and turned around.

“Hair?”

“Yes.”

“…No.”

“It’ll feel good.”

“I’m fine.”

“…But I’m not.”

I transformed Aether into a comb and pulled Boss’ long hair back. Before she could resist, I put the comb on her hair.

“Didn’t I tell you… I don’t… need… nyaa.”

Boss stopped talking and hummed joyfully. She should be feeling pleasure that was hard to resist. Not only was the Aether comb a hundred times better than most combs, but my Dexterity Gift let me know exactly how I should move my hands to make her feel good.

“…Mmmm.”

Boss let out a satisfied hum.
I smiled.
Soon, Boss was totally relaxed and twitching her eyelids whenever she felt a strong pleasure.
After combing her hair for about five minutes, I tied it up into a ponytail.

“There.”

“….”

Boss opened her eyes. She looked at me somewhat unsatisfied, then let out a dry cough.

“Kuhum, you don’t have to do this to show me your loyalty.”

“No, I’m doing this because I want to.”

“….”

Boss caressed her hair silently.

“What is this hair?”

“Oh, I thought you’d look good in it. Do you need a mirror?”

“No.”

Knowing Boss, I still formed a mirror with Aether. Boss carefully looked at herself in the mirror, turning her head here and there, and stared at her wagging ponytail as though she found it interesting.
Then, she suddenly twisted her head back.

“Oh, Little Apprentice, when will you officially enter Jeronimo Mercenary?”

“Oh right.”

For my disguise, I requested to become a member of Jeronimo Mercenary. The official reason for me dropping out of Cube was to become a mercenary. Plus, doing missions as a member of Jeronimo Mercenary would surely help me gain SP as well.

“Mm… let’s set the date to March next year.”

“Alright, I’ll let Jain know.”

“Thank you.”

Soon, ‘Fenrir’ would join Jeronimo.
He would be a gunner, and his specialty would be Djinn assassination and monster slaughter.
Anything else… Jain would surely take care of it.

**


The international organization in charge of Heroes affairs, the Hero Association.
The Hero Tower, their headquarters located in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, was the tallest building in the world at 900 meters.

[Temple of Justice Meeting Room]

The Hero Association, which was called the foundation of modern human civilization, was separated into 15 departments. Among them, the one tasked with the most dangerous and important duties was the Temple of Justice.

“I’m here… geez.”

Naturally, only the most elite members of the Association could become a member.
Today, a round-table meeting was planned for the group.

“Where is everyone!?”

Aileen, one of the members of the Temple of Justice, grumbled with her arms crossed. No one could blame her. Even at a round-table meeting, only four other members had shown up. The other eight were busy with their own missions.

“Good morning, Aileen-ssi.”

The 31-year-old Yi Yongha greeted Aileen. He was a high-rank Hero who was also the youngest member of the group.

“Good morning? Where is everyone!?”

“Didn’t you hear what happened in Southwest Asia? They’re busy running around and putting out the fire.”

The chairman, Park Hanho, pacified Aileen with a tired expression.

“But shouldn’t they at least attend the meeting!?”

“Give them a break. They’ll be notified of what we talk about anyways.”

“Hmph, they live in Seoul anyways. Also… why couldn’t they send me there instead? I’d only need a week to solve everything!”

Aileen had a lot to complain about. She was displeased with what she was doing as a Hero.
In moderately dangerous incidents, she was kept out, being told that the Hero Association needed a trump card. In not-so-dangerous situations, she was kept out, being told that a guillotine shouldn’t be used to behead a chicken.
Although everyone agreed that she was one of the strongest members of the Hero Association, she has only been deployed five times in the past five years.

“Like we always say, you’re our ultimate weapon… Wait, Aileen, did you get taller?”

“…E-Eh?”

Park Hanho tried to appease Aileen with his sweet talk.

“…You’re doing this again! I’m 31 years old now, you know?”

“No, no, I’m not making it up. Maybe your bones just got longer.”

“B-Bones? Mm… maybe…? N-No!”

Park Hanho tensed up with nervousness. So the day finally came, where telling her that she got taller didn’t work…!

“Maybe it’s because it’s morning. You know, they say you’re taller 2~3 centimeters in the morning~”

However, Aileen’s expression was honest. Her trembling lips were declaring to the world that she was extremely pleased at the moment.

“No, I think your bones really got longer. Didn’t you say you stopped wearing high-heels recently? Maybe that’s why.”

“…Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Haha, I’m pretty sure you really did, so get it checked out later.”

Clearly looking appeased, Aileen sat down without complaining.

“Now, let’s start the meeting.”

“Yes!”

Hearing Yi Yongha enthusiastic shout, the fourth Hero in the room, Nicholas, woke up from his sleep.

“Uun~”

“Why are you always sleeping?”

Aileen blurted out in disappointment, but Nicholas only laughed leisurely.

“Maybe that’s why I’m tall.”

“….”

Aileen gritted her teeth without replying.

“Now, now, quiet down. Yesterday, around 8 p.m., terror incidents simultaneously broke out in Pandemonium.”

Holographic pictures shot up from the round table, showing destroyed buildings and corpses.

“As you can see, an entire tower was obliterated, and a hideout was destroyed.”

“Isn’t it good that they’re fighting among themselves?”

“No.”

Park Hanho shook his head at Aileen’s words. Then, he played a video taken last night in Pandemonium.

Shoooong—

An arrow flew across the sky like a shooting star. The sheer strength of the arrow warped the atmosphere it was passing through.

KWANG—!

A single shot.
A single shot obliterated a tower.
Yi Yonghan dropped his jaw in awe, and Nicholas widened his eyes slightly.

“Wow~ amazing~ amazing~”

Aileen applauded. However, she was clearly being sarcastic. If it was Aileen, she could obliterate a building even with her eyes closed.

“This isn’t the important thing. Look at this picture.”

Inside the picture shown by Park Sangho, a man was standing on the top of Pandemonium’s clocktower.

“…Is he an assassin?”

The man was clad in black, wearing a hooded cape that resembled an eagle and a mask that covered his mouth. In his hands was an elegant, black bow.

“It looks like he’s a new member of ‘that group’.”

Aileen’s face stiffened.
Even the Hero Association only knew this mysterious group as ‘that’ group. Park Sangho, the chairman of the Temple of Justice, had been chasing them since he was 20 years old, and even Aileen had a history with them.

“A new member?”

“Yep, you’ve seen this before, right?”

Park Hanho put up another picture.
A black symbol was engraved on the ground. Aileen indeed knew what this ‘lotus’ symbol was.

“…Yeah, seven years ago. But I don’t think they’re the same person.”

The person Aileen met back then wasn’t someone who used a bow.

“That’s why he’s a new member.”

“Mm….”

Click.
Aileen suddenly snapped her finger.

“Okay, leave the investigation to me. I’ll look into them.”

“Hm? No, you don’t really need to do it yourself…”

“No, I have to. We drew the last time we fought.”

“…What?”

“I met him before. About 8 to 9 years ago.”

“What?”

Park Hanho pressed his forehead and sighed.

“Why haven’t you said anything until now…. Well, it looks like he’s a different person anyways.”

“Even if he’s not the same person, if he’s the old one’s replacement, he should be just as strong, right?”

Aileen grinned and spoke with magic power infused in her voice.

“So give me those files.”

“…Didn’t I tell you not to use that on me?”

Park Hanho’s arm was moved by Aileen’s Spirit Speech. Park Hanho didn’t resist it. He could if he wanted to, but that would only make things more exhausting.

“Thank you~”

“Ehew. Whatever… ah, wait! Where are you going!? The meeting isn’t over yet!”

As soon as she got what she wanted, Aileen scurried out of the meeting room, whistling.

**


In the blink of an eye, July came around. Under the blazing sun, springtime long evaporated.
Chirp— chirp—
Birds chirped, and a clear sky and hot breeze signaled the start of summer.
Cube had just finished its first semester, and cadets were full of energy thanks to finals being over.
Many things had happened in the past few months. First, most of Cube’s executives were pressured to resign after the previous Djinn invasion incident, and a few were even put on trial.
Second, active Heroes began to patrol Cube as part of its increased security measure, and midterms were abolished, leaving only the character assessment and the final exam to determine cadets’ rankings.

Ding—

Cube’s most popular coffee shop, Angel in Earth.
Chae Nayun entered this coffee shop and took a look around.

“Yo, Chae Nayun~”

A familiar voice called her. It was Yi Yeonghan.
Chae Nayun approached him thoughtlessly but realized halfway that there was an unusual member present.
Kim Suho, Yi Yeonghan, Yoo Yeonha, and Rachel.
Rachel?
For now, Chae Nayun sat down.

“How’d you do on your exam?”

Yi Yeonghan asked.

“So-so.”

Replying half-heartedly, Chae Nayun staring fixedly at Rachel.
Rachel was sitting next to Yoo Yeonha. Chae Nayun couldn’t understand why.

“…Oh, we’re in the same class. We got close while talking about our guilds.”

Yoo Yeonha noticed Chae Nayun’s curious gaze and explained.

“Yep.”

Rachel smiled and nodded.

“I see.”

Chae Nayun slurped the coffee in front of her without saying much.
Sniff, sniff.
Then suddenly, Yi Yeonghan began to sniff the air.

“Mm, I smell something weird. Chae Nayun, did you—”

“What.”

Chae Nayun’s glared at Yi Yeonghan fiercely. Faced against her killing intent, Yi Yeonghan didn’t continue his sentence.

“N-No, nothing.”

“You better not mess with me… Oh right.”

Chae Nayun put down the coffee mug and spoke.

“I’m going to Baekdu Mountain over break. Do you want to come with me, Kim Suho?”

“…Hm?”

Kim Suho widened his eyes.

“That’s pretty sudden.”

“Shin Jonghak’s coming too.”

“Aah, no, Suho can’t go.”

Yi Yeonghan bravely cut in.

“Suho has a little something-something going on with that person. He has to spend time with her.”

“W-What are you talking about?”

Kim Suho quickly covered Yi Yeonghan’s snickering mouth. However, Chae Nayun only stared at them emotionlessly.
Feeling awkward, Yi Yeonghan and Kim Suho scratched their necks.

“W-What?”

“Having fun?”

“….”

“So? Are you coming or not?”

“I….”

Kim Suho hesitated. Yun Seung-Ah had called him last week, and they’ve been frequently talking since then…

“If I can, then I will. It’s a good opportunity.”

“Okay, good.”

That was all Chae Nayun had to say. She gulped down her coffee and shot up.
Yoo Yeonha quickly held her back.

“Are you leaving already, Nayun?”

“Yeah, I have a sparring appointment with some guy named Yohei. I’ll see you later.”

Chae Nayun quickly rejected Yoo Yeonha’s gesture and left.

“You should stay a bit more….”

Murmuring meekly, Yoo Yeonha watched Chae Nayun leave sadly.
Tiriring~
At that moment, she received a message. Yoo Yeonha’s gaze fell on her watch.

[Jeronimo’s apprentice will become their official member in March.]

“…Oh?”

It was interesting news.
When Yoo Yeonha turned off her watch and looked up, she saw Rachel reading the text on her smartwatch.

“Oho.”

Then, just like Yoo Yeonha, she exclaimed in interest and raised her head.

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