124 – Before the Setup – III
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[A Gold Mark Invited entering with their Helper has initiated Tutorial Modification...]

[Error. Multiple Gold Marks detected. Helper Jihu has exceeded the threshold.]

[Administrator GULA is resolving the error...]

[A unique stage will be crafted using Helper Jihu's record and powers.]

[Gold Mark bonus privilege 'Extra Stage' will be opened.]

As if to underscore my thoughts, a flurry of messages appeared in front of my eyes. And shortly after that, there was a soft 'ding' and a fancy glowing gold message.

[GULA: Apologies, Jihu. However, it seems as if your actions in our last few programs have caused a few errors. I believe we have fixed it, but be aware that some unexpected things may emerge during this event.]

...Right. Of course.

Couldn't just be straightforward.

Well... at least this should be a fun diversion instead of anything life-threatening.

Yuri noticed Jinhee kicking the kitchenware and tilted her head. "Is there a hidden piece in the floor tiles or something, Jinhee?"

"Shut up!" Jinhee flushed red and said, "It just happened, okay? And why are you dressed like that?!"

Yuri shrugged... or tried to shrug, and said, "That Grandpa said that it would be dangerous so I got some armor." She looked at me and smiled, waddling her arms. "What do you think, Oppa?"

Jinhee finally noticed me standing there and then jabbed a finger at me. "This is your fault, Oppa! Why didn't you tell me I'd crash through the ceiling!?"

I held up my hands and said, "Hey now. I'm just a chaperone here, not the administrator. It's not like I know how everything's going to turn out."

Unless I cheated and used <A Reader's Wish>. But that would take the fun out of everything.

Besides, I was curious to see how this would turn out.

"Ugh." Jinhee brushed off her clothes and said, "Some help you are... And take that stuff off already, Yuri."

Yuri nodded and said, "I would, but... Um. It's kind of stuck?"

Jinhee let out a long suffering sigh and walked over to help her pull the clothes off. As she did, Jinhee glanced at me and said, "So are you gonna spill the beans now, Oppa? We're here, right?"

Yuri's eyes brightened and she said, "Yes! So why are we here in this..." She suddenly trailed off, tilting her head with a serious expression. "...Place. Huh? Paradise?"

Jinhee tugged off a coat and frowned. "If you're calling this Paradise, what the heck do you do in your free time, Yuri?"

Yuri blinked and reflexively said, "Read your webnovel?"

Jinhee clicked her tongue.

Yuri laughed, but then her face turned serious. "But..." She looked at me and said, "Did you know, Oppa? That I've been here before?"

I shifted my attention away from the surroundings and then nodded. "Vaguely. It wasn't confirmed until recently though... and it's not like I brought you back for anything in particular, so don't worry about it too much."

Yuri blinked and then giggled. "Right. Oppa's the sort of person who's incredible enough to do something like this when even Evangeline Unni couldn't."

Jinhee finished pulling the last extra coat off from Yuri and then said, "Evangeline Unni?"

Yuri's face filled with mixed emotions and then she shook her head. "I'll tell you about it sometime later, Jinhee. Right now though..." She laughed and looked at Jinhee. "You're going to love what comes next, Jinhee."

Jinhee stepped back from Yuri and said, "I somehow doubt that..."

Seeing that the girls were fine, I pulled out my phone.

Let's see. If everything was running on schedule...

Vibrations suddenly echoed in the room. Three separate sounds. Shortly after, an annoyed voice echoed from my phone. Sora's.

"Oi! Hubbie!"

I winced.

Jinhee and Yuri immediately gave me a side-eye glance.

I coughed and held up my phone. "Hello?"

"You and the brats are the last ones! Hurry up and get here already! Do you know how annoying it is to deal with these idiots?"

I turned away from the sharp gazes and nodded, "Yes, yes. I'm sorry, Sora. I'll be there soon, okay? Thanks for doing a good job."

"I want ramen. In bed. And wine. Lots of it."

"OPPA?!"

I coughed and hung up before Sora could say anything else. After that, I tucked my phone away and looked at Jinhee and Yuri. "Did you two pick up your phones?"

Jinhee looked like she wanted to grill me, but she decided to postpone it. Instead, she nodded and said, "Yeah. It looked important, so- Hm?" She stopped talking and stared at the thin air. "...Huh. It really IS like a web novel."

Yuri looked at Jinhee and said, "Right?!"

Jinhee thoughtfully tapped her chin.

As she did that, I glanced at the latest set of messages that popped up after Sora called.

[Sender: The Guide]

[1. Gather at the subway station by the designated time]

[2. Remaining time 00:05:49]

Hm. That's different.

I thought that it was the same setting each time, but it looked like it was different now. Or maybe it was due to the presence of so many Gold Marked Invitees?

Still...

I walked over to the same drawer I did when I went through the Tutorial and pulled out the box cutter I kept there.

Jinhee noticed and raised an eyebrow. "...Should we be looking for equipment already?"

I flicked the razor out and spun the blade around a few times before putting it back. "Nah. This is just a bit of nostalgia. Now let's get going." I made my way towards the door and said, "We're short on time and I don't know where we spawned in, so we should hurry."

Yuri quickly ran after me and said, "It's really like a game!"

Jinhee sighed and said, "Why are you so excited anyway? You apparently went through this before, right, Yuri?"

"I did! But this is a lot different. Besides, we've got our handsome Oppa here to help out!"

Jinhee narrowed her eyes.

I cleared my throat and said, "Let's just go."

xxx

If it was anything like the Tutorial I remembered, the area outside of my apartment should have been the usual city streets of Seoul.

But it wasn't.

A completely dark tunnel stretched out in front of us the moment we stepped outside.

Jinhee blinked and then said, "Uh... Oppa?" She stared at the faded yellow paint on the concrete in front of her as well as the rusted tracks and said, "Is this normal?"

I frowned. "No. But we don't really have the time to think about it."

There were less than five minutes left to reach the subway station.

It looked like my apartment had swapped out a side-hatch along a subway tunnel. Which meant that if we just followed the edge, we'd hit the main station eventually.

At least, if I was reading this development right. But...

I glanced towards the left at the far end of the tunnel.

...This wouldn't be something ridiculous like Final Destination with a subway train barreling down at us if we took too long, would it?

Yuri nervously followed my gaze and said, "Um... Oppa-"

Jinhee clicked her tongue and said, "Would it kill you to stop calling him that for once?"

Yuri quickly stuck her tongue out at Jinhee and then turned back to me. "Anyway, Oppa. There isn't something like that cleaner monster so early in the Tutorial, is there?"

A faint flicker in the distance along the tunnel. Nothing corporeal or tangible. But...

"...Let's not tempt fate." I purposefully moved behind the girls and started shoving them along. "Come on."

Jinhee brushed my hand off and started jogging ahead. "I don't need your prodding, Oppa. Sheesh." She glanced over at Yuri and said, "Come on, Yu-"

Before Jinhee could finish, Yuri was already far ahead, running at a full sprint.

"Y-Yuri?!"

Jinhee's eyes widened and she started running as well. "H-Hey! Wait for me!"

Unfortunately, my sister wasn't in the best shape. Unlike Yuri, who was a dance major and relatively fit, my dear sister was a couch potato who wrote stories all day.

Which meant that she took about a dozen steps before she started slowing down. "W-Wait...! Dammit! Stupid... fit... women...!"

Yeah, we didn't have the time for this.

Without skipping a beat, I scooped Jinhee up in a princess hold and started sprinting next to Yuri.

"OPPA!" Jinhee turned a bright red and started squirming. "Let me down!"

I held her close and said, "You can complain AFTER we figure out if there's an insta-death mechanic waiting for us if we're late."

Yuri glanced at me as she ran and said, "This is just the start of the Tutorial. That wouldn't happen, would it?"

"Normally, no. But..." I took a look at the surroundings and frowned.

It was vaguely familiar in a weird way. Not because I used the subway station before or anything. But instead...

Three tracks side by side.

We were running down the center, and the place seemed pretty empty. But-

Wait.

Subway. Three tracks.

I quickly slung Jinhee over my left shoulder and grabbed Yuri to sling over my right.

"Kya! Oppa!"

"OPPA! What the fu-"

Before either of them could say anything else, I jumped.

And the moment I did, a blaring siren and bright light flew past where we were standing.

A subway train rocketing down faster than any ordinary person could react.

I landed on the ground and then started sprinting, spreading out my awareness.

<All is One> cut away the darkness, revealing the 'stage' we were forced to get past.

Jinhee glanced behind me with a pale face and said, "Was that a fucking train!?"

I sprinted to the left, dodging another speeding subway and said, "Yep. Looks like we're on lunatic mode from the start. And we're playing subway surfers."

Yuri's eyes sparkled and she said, "This is super different from what happened last time I went through the Tutorial."

I jumped up and ran along the top of a speeding subway train before saying, "Yeah. Because we're playing a different genre entirely, apparently... But I guess it's better than zombies."

Jinhee flinched and said, "Z-Zombies? T-That's a thing?"

I sighed and said, "You think zombies are scarier than death machines rocketing towards you at just under supersonic speed?"

"YES! Have you *seen* Train to Busan, Oppa?!"

I nodded. "Yes, actually. And..." I paused, suspiciously eyeing the surroundings. "...Nah. Something like that wouldn't-"

A loud BANG echoed from up ahead. And then guttural sounds and groans started echoing all around.

Jinhee screamed and clutched the back of my shirt.

Yuri screamed as well, but then she started laughing.

I groaned. "There's 'extra' and then there's *extra*, Gods..."

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