74 – A Hero In Paradise, But on Earth…
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Somehow or another, I managed to get away from Seonhwa after being grilled on what I had been doing. We also touched a bit on why she went to Paradise in the first place... but since we both felt like it was a loaded subject, we decided to put it off for later.

...Well, I decided to put it off for later. Mostly because I had a feeling that it would end up leading into me having to explain why I started gambling in the first place and then devolve into Seonhwa breaking down and apologizing.

Anyway, after a long chat with Seonhwa about various things, I left the coffee shop after reassuring her that I'd let her know when I was heading back so that we could meet up.

...Though I forgot that I'd have to explain Flone somehow... And that would probably be a mess and a half.

I groaned and ran my hand through my hair as I started walking back towards my apartment. 

It was late now. The sun was starting to set, and the sky was turning orange from the fading sunlight.

Seeing that, I pulled out my phone. I noticed a lot of messages coming through while I was with Seonhwa, but I didn't get a chance to check until now.

Scrolling through, the first was from Seol-Ah and Sungjin, thanking me again for helping their mom. She wasn't discharged yet, but the doctors said that she could be soon and that she was even healthier than an average woman her age should be.

I smiled and sent a quick reply about them remembering to spend a lot of time with her.

There was a message from Seora, telling me that she had settled things for the Yi siblings, but also warning me to keep an eye out for any tricks Seohui might try.

I responded that I would... Though I had a feeling that Seohui wouldn't be trying anything soon.

There was a text from an unknown number... who turned out to be Sora. She said that I could have at least given her my number instead of forcing her to get it from Grandpa and then cursed me out by saying that I was a shameless bastard who toyed around too much with a girl's heart. But, like the tsundere she was, she ended by saying that she appreciated the help and that I was welcome to come back again to the restaurant... But not to cook.

I laughed at that and then left her on read, just to annoy her.

Next... another unknown number. As to the message...

[Oppa. This is Chohong. I'm sorry. Did I make you mad? Is that why you didn't text me? I'll make it up to you! I'm in Hong Kong right now, but I'm hopping on a plane to Seoul in a few days! Don't go anywhere, okay?]

"A-Ah..."

I felt a pang of guilt reading that message and seeing how worried she was. 

...Did I really forget to text her? I did, didn't I?

"Okay, maybe Sora has a point about me being a womanizer..." 

I replied to Chohong and told her that I'd make sure to pick her up at the airport when she arrived. At the same time, I made a mental note to give her a big gift to make up for my mistake.

After that... it was just the usual messages from everybody. Checking in to make sure I was well, telling me to remember to eat properly...

Except for Jinhee. My little sister sent me a long text scolding me about staying out all night again and warning me that she'd never forgive me if I broke Flone Unni's heart.

I sighed after reading that and slipped my phone into my pocket. "You and me both, Sis..."

That was turning out to be a near impossible situation though... Well, Flone was nice enough to not be bothered by it, but considering everyone else... And the fact that things were reaching the point where I could easily break a girl's heart now by making a single mistake, or at the least make them feel hurt and worried like Chohong had been when I didn't text her...

I sighed again and then took a look around.

After making my way back from Seonhwa's café, I had managed to absentmindedly wander into the rougher part of town. It seemed like my muscle memory subconsciously brought me to the places that Seol used to frequent.

Most people would be afraid and wouldn't know what to do in this part of town. But as for me...

"How weirdly nostalgic." I muttered and then kept walking.

Some rough and thuggish people stared at me as I passed. Guys in muscle shirts, tattoos... but they took one look at me and looked away.

Well, obviously. Even though I was wearing a nice suit, my muscles still showed through it. Not only that, but with my demeanor, I probably looked like the boss of some criminal organization.

Which, considering that Carpe Diem was based in the place called the city of crime, technically wasn't wrong.

But seeing those guys reminded me. "Right... I should check in with Hao, right?"

If things were getting as big as I thought they would... Even if Seohui didn't make Sinyoung start targeting me, some of the others in that organization would.

At the moment, Seohui held the reins, but the real power didn't lie with her. At least, the power wasn't absolute.

Her father, the board of directors, other chairmen... Those bastards were scum who passed Roe Scheherazade around like a cheap toy and lived it up on Earth from profits earned at the costs of countless Paradisians.

If they realized that their way of life was being threatened, they wouldn't just sit by and wait.

So, to preempt some people aiming at my family-

I paused.

There was something in the corner of my vision. A faint flash of light, hidden in the dark window of a building.

I turned towards it, frowning. And after that-

*CRACK.*

-The sound of splitting air. No, a gunshot.

Curses rang out. The thugs roaming around scrambled, bolting away at the sound of the gunshot. And at the same time, the glint from the cold steel of a gun vanished from the window.

As for me...

"You guys are pretty impatient, huh?"

I tossed the fired bullet to the ground, letting it clatter against the asphalt. After that, I brushed my clothes and looked straight at the window.

A man was standing there. A person in a suit holding up a cellphone. The gun he shot me with was already packed away in a suitcase, and it looked like he was calling his boss to confirm the kill.

Unfortunately for him... and for the dozen other people watching me with killing intent, this place wasn't Paradise.

Space distorted. All forms of communication, be it sound waves, Wi-Fi, cellular service, or whatever means... I cut them all off. Not only that, but I distorted light around the area and warped the exits of the nearby buildings and alleyways to wrap back around.

As I did that, Transcendent Insight fed me information.

Most of the people here were just two-bit thugs. The local goons that went around pressing people for loans, protection fees, etc.

But there were a few that weren't. They dressed the same, hid well, and even did a good job of acting. But I could see their true nature.

[Sinyoung Hitmen]
Hired assassins aiming for your life.
Trained marksman skilled at causing 'accidents.'
Sent by the board members (Not Yun Seohui or Yun Seora.)

I didn't need that last bit of information, but it was a good confirmation.

Still, those weren't the only ones. Various infamous criminal organizations from all over the world were scattered about the status of some hitmen I stared at. All the way from the Cartel to some American gangs.

I sighed and then held out my right hand. At the same time, a knife started to form. A blade conjured not from mana, but from atomic manipulation itself.

"You know..." I flipped the knife around and then stood up straight. At the same time, I dragged out the people that were trying to harm me.

Using the faint threads of karma from their ill intent, I marked my targets and warped them in front of me.

At once, a dozen professionally trained hitmen from around the world... as well as a dozen more members from various organizations who had been around to watch and send reports back appeared in front of me.

I smiled and said, "There's this saying. You should never touch a dragon's reverse scale."

One of the watchers, some sort of executive from Sinyoung, pointed at me and said, "W-What are you waiting for! Shoot him!"

Did that bring the men to their senses? All at once, I heard a dozen guns being loaded. And a second later, a dozen gun shots echoed. But-

"...Right." I stared at the bullets suspended in the air and nodded. "So no mercy then."

I was willing to talk things out... but it seemed like there wasn't any point to it.

The man who first shot at me lowered his gun, his arms shaking. "M-Monster...!"

I smiled and tilted my head. "Well, yeah. You didn't really think an ordinary guy could just kill off a pair of godlike beings and live without being something like that, did you? Now..." I narrowed my eyes, reading out the information Transcendent Insight was feeding me.

"...You bastards were planning to attack Jinhee next, huh? No, there's already a group on route... And you tracked where she is from her phone, huh? Well, gotta say that you guys sure are resourceful. Dumb as a brick, but resourceful."

The Sinyoung executive's eyes widened. "H-How did you-?"

"Trade secret. Now... you guys pissed me off, and I need to send a message, so... Tough luck." I stepped forward.

Immediately, the men jumped to their feet and started running away. But...

"That's no use."

Jumping into windows. Running down the end of the alleyway. Breaking down the doors to buildings and trying to hide. The men frantically tried to flee. But it didn't work. After all... every exit led back to me.

I cracked my neck and said, "Well... Nothing personal."

"N-No! Wait! We were just following orders!"

"...Yeah, lying won't help, you know? Besides... None of you guys are innocent."

Was it because I had strengthened my skills, or because I was here on Earth?

I could clearly see the karma radiating from those guys. Resentment caused by the deaths of innocent people. Young women who had died miserable and humiliating deaths. The glee they felt at causing those deaths while relishing in the suffering.

"...I lied. Guess it is pretty personal. Tough luck."

Screams echoed in the alleyway. Cries for mercy, desperate pleas of forgiveness.

Of course, I didn't listen.

Not a single person died a clean death. In accordance to their sins, I made sure to inflict the exact or more harm back upon their body before letting them die. And when they did, I carved each corpse with the name of the organization that sent them there.

A message.

I knew who tried to attack me. I knew who to target in the near future... And they wouldn't able to do anything about it.

As I was doing my handiwork, I noticed some thugs staring at me in horror. Some time during my work, it seemed like I released the space distortion.

I glanced at one thug who was staring at me with a pale face.

The guy immediately tripped and ran away, screaming his lungs out.

I brushed off my clothes, making sure to get rid of the bloody stench from them, and then sighed. "Gotta get better at that..."

Unlike Paradise, this was Earth. Things would get messy if the police got involved.

Still, I doubted anyone would say anything about this. The people who saw what happened would be too terrified to repeat it. At most, they would think they were just too drunk or high... or they would hope so. Because to believe otherwise would drive them insane.

So a horror story. A local myth and urban legend. That was what this incident would become.

Though, there was the problem of handling the corpses and not getting innocent bystanders involved...

But it seemed like I didn't need to bother with that.

Slow applause echoed from the end of the alleyway. At the same time, a familiar face showed up. A trusted ally, and probably the best one I could have here on Earth.

"Well." Hao glanced at the mutilated corpses and said, "I was thinking that my bro ran into something he couldn't handle, but..." He stared at the grisly mess on the ground and then said in English, "Looks like you didn't need to worry, huh, Miss Agnes?"

I froze and looked past him.

Footsteps echoed. The sound of stilettoes clacking against the asphalt. And then a beautiful blonde woman wearing a black leather motorcycle suit emerged.

Claire.

She stared at me and then glanced at the grisly sight next to me.

"Ahaha..." I rubbed the back of my neck and smiled. "I can explain?"

Claire blinked and then let out a sly smile. "It seems that Boss was right. We truly are a match made in hell."

"...What?"

Hao laughed.

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