126 – Fiction in Fiction – I
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I made an executive decision to get us the hell out of dodge and blew up the train in front of us.

At least, I planned to.

A giant explosion bloomed in front of my eyes, just like when I blew up that Parasite breeding facility way back when.

But before it could completely erupt, the explosion folded in on itself and vanished.

No, that dough kaybee or whatever opened its mouth and ate it.


So we have mutant furby creatures in the mix too now.

It wasn't dangerous, but this was annoying.

I couldn't really go all out right now. At least, not without completely blowing up this entire Tutorial.

I mean, not that it *really* mattered much in the long run. After all, the main thing was to just get Jinhee, Yuri, and Seunghae to Paradise to explain everything.

In the worst case scenario, I'd just say screw it and warp them all over.

But this wasn't the worst case scenario.

...And from how Jinhee's eyes were sparkling as she looked around, I had a feeling she wouldn't forgive me for just flipping over the board.

Considering how I needed to get on my little sister's good side to have her help save me from myself, that wasn't an option.

Jinhee took a look around the subway train and muttered, "The bodies scattered like trash, the bloodied office worker shaking, an old lady groaning in her seat... This place is definitely...!"

Yeah, she was out of it.

I glanced over at Seonhwa.

She seemed confused at the situation, but she still remained alert. Her hands were held out to the side, ready to pull out her spear at a moment's notice from her Dimensional Pocket.

Wait, would that even work right now? Granted, it was supposedly a god-given power, but we were currently in a god-granted test...

The floating fluffball... Dokaybee? Whatever it was, it suddenly trembled and looked up at the sky. "S-Sorry, Viewers! I-It seems like a mistake happened in the channel, so we'll briefly go off-"

A soft chime echoed. Shortly after that, three phones buzzed. Yuri's, Jinhee's, and Seunghae's.

Jinhee reacted first, quickly reading the screen. And then her face paled and she said, "W-What do you mean the Disaster of Floods is spawning!?"

The..., No, it was 'dokkaebi.' The dokkaebi immediately turned to look out the window and then groaned. "How did we get to the fifth scenario already?"

I was *seriously* missing context here.

But it seemed like Gula and the others realized that as a message suddenly popped up in front of me.

[GULA: Please do not break the Tutorial. It will be a bit hectic, but the girls should just barely be able to clear it. Just stall and have some fun, will you?]

Hey now, I was totally going to play by the rules.

[GULA: ...Have you forgotten the Banquet?]

...This time. I was totally going to play by the rules this time.

But in any case...

A soft chime echoed again and more floating messages appeared.

[Sender: The Guide]

[1. Survive the Disaster of Floods]

[2. Time left: ??:??:??]

[3. After ??? minutes, a helper will arrive.]

Jinhee groaned and said, "I haven't written this part yet!"


I spun around to look at Jinhee and said, "What do you mean, 'written this-'"

Before I could finish, screams echoed from further down the train. Not only that, but the sound of crashing waves echoed as well, joined with... dolphin screeches?

Seonhwa stepped forward and pulled out her jade green spear, holding it up in front of her. "I don't think this is the time to ask questions, Jihu."

A loud explosion echoed up ahead, revealing the head of a giant dolphin dinosaur hybrid thing peering inside.

Seeing that... and seeing the dokkaebi suddenly vanish, leaving the people who were here before us in a giant panic, I let out a deep sigh. "Well." I held up my sword and said, "I guess now's as good a time as any to test out some of my new abilities."

The dinosaur thing screeched as it saw me and then tried lunging through the train.

As it did, a few unfortunate people got swept up and minced, but I didn't pay much attention to them.

Either they were part of the tutorial, in which case they weren't real. Or they were the idiots who came in after us, in which case they really had it coming.

In any case, I stepped forward and swung my sword.

Let's see...

Sung Shihyun did it by dominating the surroundings as his. Sora did it by attuning with the surroundings. But for me...

Mm. Might as well get back to basics. The real 'original' power I developed was energy manipulation, so if we extrapolated from there and expanded upon the nature of what it meant to 'cut,' specifically in how it was a matter of separating the material form with a shearing force-

[<Creative Spark> expands upon your thoughts.]

[<Conceptual Manipulation> synergizes with <Creative Spark>]

[The skill <Resonant Blade> is temporarily acquired.]

One sword slash became a hundred.

No, it only appeared that way.

Instead, a single slash stretched across overlapping fragments of time, taking advantage of its entwined nature with space, and then carved into reality across multiple dimensional planes.

Or something.

I wasn't paying too much attention since it was just a casual swing, but that was pretty neat.

A soft chime echoed and then a message appeared in front of me.

[The Secretive Plotter questions your existence.]

I glanced at the message and ignored it.

Flavor text wasn't important. Instead...

I glanced back at Jinhee and said, "Hey, Jinhee. I'm going to cut loose a bit, so stay... safe? Huh?"

I blinked and then realized that she was gone. Not just her, but Yuri and Seunghae too.

Seonhwa followed my gaze and then giggled when she realized what happened.

I frowned and said, "It's not funny, Seonhwa."

"Well, it is a little." She turned back to look at a rapidly approaching horde of tiny dinosaurs and said, "It seems like Jinhee's taking after her Oppa a lot these days."

I sighed.


"Are you sure it's fine to just leave Oppa like that, Jinhee?" Yuri glanced back at the train surrounded by dinosaurs and said, "Isn't that a bit dangerous?"

Jinhee clicked her tongue and said, "First of all, stop calling him Oppa. Second of all, didn't you see? Oppa's definitely a regressor or something, so he's fine."

Little did Jinhee know that Jihu was definitely 'or something' rather than a regressor...

"But anyway..." Jinhee glanced at the other girl crouched beside her and said, "I'm surprised you came with us."

Seunghae snorted and said, "It's either follow you two or get blown up in that crazy superhuman fight." She frowned and said, "But why are you two so calm anyway?"

Yuri laughed and said, "That's because this is Jinhee's story!"

Seunghae blinked. "...Come again?"

"You see, at the start of summer Jinhee started to write a story on Munipia..."

While Yuri was explaning the situation, Jinhee was thinking.

'We're in Seoul, but it's definitely not the same Seoul...'

There were familiar signs and landmarks that she recognized from visiting Jihu. But at the same time, there were a few strange things she didn't recognize.

Not to mention the fact that the subway train they were on had apparently been dangling over the edge of a broken bridge with a frothy river filled with prehistoric sharks and stuff.

Oppa was fine. And from the fact that Seonhwa pulled out a spear from thin air, she was fine too.

Unfortunately, they were preoccupied right now dealing with the dokkaebi and the rush of dinosaurs from the Disaster of Floods.

The Disaster who was also technically a regressor...

Now, the question was if this place was real or a simulation.

Judging from how Oppa and Seonhwa reacted, it wasn't the normal. And there was also the way that Miss Guide acted... meaning this was probably an anomaly.

Of course, that was obvious from the ominous gate they went through, but-

'No. Focus, Jinhee.'

Real or not, people had died.

She was... strangely fine with that. And also angry at how it was definitely an everyday occurrence for Oppa with how impassive he had been.

But it meant that this was really dangerous. And she also couldn't just rely on Oppa to clear everything.

Especially if this was really playing out like she had been planning to write it.

Right now, Yuri, Jinhee, and Seunghae were hiding in a ruined building about a block away from the subway train.

...Jinhee also thought the geography of this place didn't make sense at all, but it *was* an anomaly, so she let it slide.

In any case...

They had to figure a way out of this mess. And Jinhee was the best person to figure that out.

She opened her golden starter bag and then pulled out her phone, opening up the text file on it.


[Sender: The Sole Reader]

>It was like the intermediate dokkaebi said. The Disaster of Floods was more than the other disasters combined.

>The confused incarnations became the food of monsters.

>Monsters poured from the Monster Gate at her order.

>Two of the most powerful monsters, the Fifth Grade sea species King Masswood and the Fifth Grade behemoth, Heavy Metal Bean, stood behind her like they were guards.

>...I couldn't change anything when I was a reader. It was because I was a reader that I could change it. At least, until-


Jinhee resisted the urge to curse out the person who sent her such a useless message.

She was the person who wrote the story, dammit. She didn't need verbatim quotes from what she had already published, but hints on what happened next!


She chucked her phone back into her bag and looked at the other stuff.

There were four glowing boxes in her gold bag, along with a weird stamp looking thing called 'Mark of Survival.'

That thing wasn't important. Instead, Jinhee focused her attention on the boxes.

The moment she did, a message popped up in front of her eyes.

[Would you like to use the <Necessary Box>?]

Jinhee glanced back towards the subway train.

An ominous black portal was forming in the sky above it, dropping giant monsters down.

Not only that, but a woman with glowing white hair and a white fur suit was descending, flanked by a giant seaweed monster and a towering metallic beast.

Oppa had managed to make it out of the train to face them while Seonhwa was leading the survivors to safety.


"...Alright. Use it."

Yuri blinked and looked over at Jinhee. "Use what, Jinhee?"

Jinhee didn't respond. Instead, she focused on the messages appearing in front of her.

Oppa said this was a Tutorial. Not only that, but he mentioned that they were people who had to be brought in no matter what.

Which meant that they had to have cheats.

In this Tutorial, Jinhee, Yuri, and Seunghae were the protagonists.

So, if the 'Necessary Box' really did give what was necessary...!

[The Necessary Box (x1) has been opened!]

[Scanning for the most 'needed item' during the current situation...]

[...Scan complete.]

[The awakening of your Innate Ability has initiated.]

[The awakening has failed.]

[The Harem God adjusts the probabilities.]

[The Innate Ability <Character Design> has emerged.]


Jinhee blinked and then stared at the window that suddenly appeared in front of her. "This is...?"


While all of the craziness unfolded in the Tutorial, in the Neutral Zone a group of five people watched it all play out on a giant monitor. Hannah, Ian, Maldong, Hao Win, and Cinzia.

There was popcorn, barbecue, alcohol... all sorts of fun party food was prepared to watch what should have been a relaxed and fun event.


Hannah let out a deep groan and covered her face. "I thought Jihu was ridiculous, but I didn't think Jinhee would be too."

Ian laughed and said, "Well, I guess that's to be expected of a popular author?" He cracked open a beer and said, "I don't think even the gods considered someone with such a vivid imagination being tossed into the Tutorial."

Maldong watched Jinhee with a thoughtful expression, reading the message that popped up next to her on the screen. "Awakening an innate ability from a Necessary Box... that's not outside the realm of possibility, but it's a bit rare, isn't it?"

Hao chuckled and said, "Do you really think so?" He glanced at the smaller screen showing Jihu fighting off monsters and said, "I bet my brother was being a bit overprotective."

Cinzia snorted and said, "If he could be at least a fraction of that for Claire, I'd be less worried." She pulled out a cigarette and lit it with a flame on her fingertip. "When am I going to finally have a cute grandchild to spoil...?"

Hannah let out a nervous cough and did her best to not touch her belly before turning back to the screen. Clearing her throat to hide her first reaction, Hannah looked at the others and smiled. "Well. Since the Tutorial ended up like this, should we have some fun with that Constellation System? It'd be a bit boring to have all the Contracted die so easily, right?"