Chapter 3: A Day with a Strange Fortune (3)
Choi Chi-Woo’s mouth hung open. He began to notice his surroundings: the s.p.a.ce large enough to fit a soccer field and the walls that were all pure white just like the ceiling. There was nothing else in the s.p.a.ce.
“I’m sure you’re surprised, sir. You must feel like you were in a dream.” The man with a fedora hat said, and Chi-Woo’s hand moved in a flash.
He hit his face with all he had. Then he pinched his tingling cheeks. Not yet satisfied, he pinched his thighs as well.
“Uhahhh!” He even tried running into the wall while shouting. The giant man didn’t stop Chi-Woo. He simply watched from a distance with his arms crossed. Not long afterwards, Chi-Woo breathed heavily and glared at the man.
“You’re not dreaming, sir. Nor are you hypnotized,” the man said calmly. “To explain it simply, I created an avatar that is connected to your mind and called you to this place. Since this connection is quite strong, it shares senses with your main body. Of course, if you receive a big enough impact, the connection will break off.”
Chi-Woo’s face made it clear that he hadn’t understood a word of what the man said.
“That is…I played a trick on the money I gave you, sir.” The man smiled and stretched out his hand. “But well, that’s not really important. Should we go out now?”
Chi-Woo didn’t take the man’s hand. “I don’t know what the h.e.l.l you’re talking about, but I’m sure of one thing,” he said while continuing to glare at the man, “You’re saying that I will wake up if I receive a shock strong enough to kill me, right?”
The man’s face stiffened. “Yes… but I strongly hope that you would refrain from such behavior.” His voice was stern. “Sir Choi Chi-Woo, you are an ordinary person right now.” The man pointed at Chi-Woo and placed his hand on his own chest. “However, I am not.”
“It means that I can forcefully overpower you if I wish to. Of course, I do not have the slightest desire to treat you with such disrespect.”
“Ah, is that so?” Chi-Woo cut the man off, “Thanks a lot. I suppose I should be really grateful that some con-man won’t harm me after kidnapping me.”
“That’s not what I meant, sir!” The man’s voice rose higher. “I’m simply telling you that I’m confident.” The man clenched his fist tightly and shouted, “I just need one chance. One chance to prove to you!” Clearly frustrated, he thumped his chest. “If you follow me…I’m confident that I can convince you.”
“I know the situation is really confusing for you, but…”
While the man recovered his breath, Chi-Woo asked, “What are you going to tell me?” He still looked doubtful as he said, “What is it that you’re going to convince me about?”
“I just told you, sir,” the man said pleadingly. “That sir Choi Chi-Hyun is a hero. And you are one too.”
Chi-Woo grunted loudly.
“Of course, you’re not one currently, but you possess all the qualities to be a hero.”
“Yeah, right.” Chi-Woo snorted. “Why don’t you tell me that my parents, grandpa, and grandma are all heroes too?”
“They are, sir.”
“Your parents and your grandparents are all heroes. Of course, they are all retired now.”
“…What?” Chi-Woo’s mouth dropped open at the man’s ready admission. “How come only I didn’t know?” Chi-Woo nodded in disbelief. In a voice dripping with sarcasm, he said, “To think everyone in my family were heroes just like people from the animation movies! How amazing!?” Then he asked, “How come no one told me?”
“I am also curious about that, sir,” the man responded seriously. “I thought it was strange when I researched about you. Among the direct lines in your family, there was no exception. How come only you…” The man was at a loss for words. A heavy silence descended between them.
“…Then.” Chi-Woo broke the silence and asked bitterly, “Is this the time where you tell me my parents picked me up from the streets?”
“Certainly not,” the man denied it immediately. “Most don’t know of your current circ.u.mstances, but there’s no doubt that you are the Choi family’s hereditary son.”
Chi-Woo covered his face with both hands. Nothing he said was getting through the man.
“You said you wanted to find your brother, right sir?” After a brief pause, the man said with a tired voice. “It’s the same for me too. I want to help him in any possible way.” He sounded desperate. “I promise you. Even if I have to put my insignificant life on the line, I would let you meet him. So please!” The man dropped to his knees and bowed so deeply towards Chi-Woo that his head was touching the floor. “…I beg you.”
Chi-Woo looked at the man with complicated feelings as the man laid bowing on the floor without moving. Not long afterward, the man straightened his posture and walked a couple of steps to the side. An entrance hidden by the man’s large figure appeared into view. The man stretched out his hand like he was guiding Chi-Woo to the entrance, turned around, and trudged forward. He was trusting Chi-Woo to follow him willingly. Chi-Woo watched the man grow farther away from him and sighed deeply when the man disappeared into the entrance.
He rumpled his hair with both hands and scratched his scalp. Perhaps the man’s heartfelt actions had moved him slightly.
Contrary to what everyone would expect him to do, Chi-Woo turned the opposite direction.
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“Why should I?” he exclaimed and glared at the wall on the far side and rushed towards it. He shut his eyes tightly and used all the strength he could muster to smash his head against the wall. That was when…
Chi-Woo did not withdraw his suspicions. “You did a really good job making your costume. Did you work for Hollywood?”
“Of course not. Sir, did you really think that in this enormous, expansive universe, the only living beings were on Earth?”
Chi-Woo closed his mouth. He hadn’t thought about it like that before, but…it was not a field he was an expert in. “I guess these days, even aliens learn Korean. Judging by how extremely fluent you are.”
“No, that’s not the case. We don’t know which planet would fall into danger or where we have to go, and it doesn’t make sense to learn the language of every planet we need to go to.” The alien lizard raised his left hand and shook his wrist. “It’s all thanks to this device. I work all over the galaxy, so I naturally receive special items like this.”
Chi-Woo narrowed his eyes. He had wondered why this alien lizard had tapped his left wrist a few times when they first met. Even when they were talking right now, he couldn’t see anyt…? “Uh?” As soon as he thought this, Chi-Woo saw a bunch of holograms stretch out from the alien’s left wrist like a mind-map.
Chi-Woo swallowed his breath as he saw various geometric patterns fill the s.p.a.ce in front of them. When the alien lizard shook his left wrist one more time, the hologram completely disappeared.
“Well…I understand, sir. I also had a hard time when I found out that the planet I was born and raised on wasn’t the only place that had intelligent life forms.” The alien lizard nodded. “But we’re lucky. Even though we might be different inside, we look quite similar outside, right? We don’t have to feel disgusted that one of us looks like a squishy sack.”
When Chi-Woo remained silent, the alien lizard seemed to ponder for a short while and then said, “The heroes from Earth have a pretty good reputation. Even though they don’t have special physical abilities, their ability to adapt and learn, especially their potential, are rated very highly. Moreover, they have also made many significant achievements.” The alien lizard continued, “However, we can’t stop all the dangers in the universe with just heroes from Earth. Even if everyone on Earth is a hero, it still won’t be enough.”
As the alien lizard said, the Earth’s human population of 6 or 7 billion was miniscule in comparison to the size of the universe. Chi-Woo understood the meaning behind the alien lizard’s words. Since there were other living beings on other planets, it made sense that heroes would come from other planets, too. However, understanding and accepting a piece of information were completely different matters. Chi-Woo wondered if he should really believe the alien lizard’s words or not. But in the first place, it didn’t make sense that he was in this strange s.p.a.ce after coming out of a café.
“So where are we?” Chi-Woo forcibly calmed his voice down and asked. “Where are you taking me now?”
“To a higher place…I guess that’s not good enough of an explanation.” The alien lizard rubbed his neck, visibly pleased that Chi-Woo finally asked a proper question. “As I said before, your older brother is a hero.” Then, he said with more strength in his tone, “I am also…the same.” However, the alien lizard seemed to be embarra.s.sed to say the last part as his voice got noticeably quieter. “Hm, hmm. Sir, the number of heroes is greater, much greater than what you’d think. It might not be that much from each planet, but if you count all the heroes in the universe, it’s a vast number.”
The alien lizard suddenly stopped walking. “And the place we’re going to is where heroes gather together.”
Before Chi-Woo realized it, they were at the end of the path.
“The heroes’ paradise, the galaxy’s administration, a s.p.a.ce outside of the flow of s.p.a.ce and time, the milestone of dimensions, heaven… It’s a place called by various names.”
Multiple paths converged together at the end of the path like a rotary.
“But heroes like me whose qualifications are officially recognized and are still working call this place with a specific name.” The alien lizard opened the thick door at the end of the path with great force. Chi-Woo instinctively turned away and closed his eyes from the blinding light bursting from the crack between the door panels.
The alien lizard grinned, revealing his sharp teeth. “Welcome to the Celestial Realm.”
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