Solo Leveling Novel, Chapter 116
Solo Levelingi 116
The mutant ants began taking to the air once they spotted the helicopter.
Boo Woong-Boo Woong-
Seven winged ants in flight approached to intercept the helicopter, leaving their wingless siblings behind on the ground.
“I‘ll take care of it.”Choi Jong-in, the team‘s only long-range mage-class hunter, stepped forward to the open door and incanted into the buffeting air outside.
“-Skill, Flame Spear-”
When the casting was complete, seven undulating bursts of flame congealed into smouldering spears and pierced each ant.
Trying to kill an ant in one shot with diffused firepower was an exercise in futility, but it was enough to burn off their wings.
The incapacitated ants plummeted helplessly to the ground. Choi Jongin gazed cooly at the ants and clenched his fist in satisfaction. However, it was still too early to relish in the taste of victory. Choi Jong-In turned around and asked Ma Dong-wook.“How about Japan?”More ants on the ground noticed the approaching team and began to move. It was time to get serious.Bzzt
Ma Dong-wook tuned in to the receiver in his ear. He was in charge of leading of the Korean offensive team this time.“We’re in position to breach.”
A tremendous explosion in the distance picked up where his sentence left off.
As if on cue, numerous explosions were heard from all over the island, and the landscape was soon dotted with pillars of billowing smoke. The fourth subjugation operation was officially underway. Lim Tae-kyu, the master of the Reaper guild, frowned as he scanned the ground from the helicopter. Thousands of ants, all of whom had emerged from the tunnel in response to the explosions, scattered into four groups. They moved toward the eastern, western, northern, and southern regions of the island.
“Disgusting, utterly disgusting.”
“I think that’s all of them.”
”…You’re probably right. “The steady streams of ants departing from the nest eventually turned to a trickle, and what remained was a large hole in the ground. It was the entrance to the ant colony. The size of the entrance was so large that it could have easily accommodated multiple lanes as a road tunnel. There would be a queen ant awaiting them in the innermost part of the nest. There was only one goal for this team. The eradication of that queen.“Everyone!”
Just before stepping off the helicopter and entering the colony, Ma Dong-wook, shouting over the din of the chopper blades, beckoned all of his team members as well as the hesitant cameraman. Everybody who was participating in the operation gathered around.“In the hundreds of simulations we ran, the Japanese Hunters were able to hold out for about an hour. We absolutely have to kill the queen in that hour.”There was no need to mention what would happen if they were to fail. Unlike the first three operations, there was no chance of escape. They would be stranded in the nest. Ma Dong-wook looked over the team member’s faces one by one, and each nodded back in turn with grim determination.‘These are the best companions I could’ve asked for.’Unless a catastrophe like Jeju island were to repeat itself, there will likely never be another opportunity to put together a team like this. It was the thinnest of silver linings on a very dark cloud, but Ma Dong-wook felt honored to be the leader of this team.
After everyone took a moment to gather their resolve, Ma broke the silence once again.“Let‘s go.”
Six members in the raiding party and one cameraman. In total, seven hunters jumped out of the helicopter.
“How long has it been since those idiots went in?” Goto asked.“Give me a minute.”Originally it was Goto‘s responsibility to contact the control center. But now a different hunter, to whom Goto had generously delegated the responsibility of carrying the bulky communications equipment, was relaying the responses.
“It‘s been a little less than 10 minutes.”“Ten minutes.”Time for them to begin making their exit. Goto briefly surveyed his surroundings before gathering the rest of his squad to leave Jeju Island. The bodies of the massacred ants were piled high.While the Japan team’s objective of distracting of the ants away from the Korean team was merely superficial, Goto couldn’t help but feel satisfied with the work they had done. Instead of attempting to reduce the ant army’s numbers, they focused on buying time while ensuring their eventual retreat, but still they achieved this level of success.‘They may be a difficult opponent for Korea, but the same cannot be said for us.’
A corner of Goto‘s mouth curled up in confidence.He casually punted an ant carcass out of his way and issued a command to prepare for retreat. It was time to transition to the true objective of the Japanese team.
Suddenly,“Hey, Goto-san.”“Hmm?”The hunter in charge of communications had his brows furrowed in concern.“I can’t reach squad three.”
‘A mechanical failure? Now, of all times?’It’s not uncommon for a machine that had passed multiple inspections to fail at a moment before or during important work.
The third squad’s assigned landing point was in the southern region of the island. It wasn‘t far from the first squad – Goto’s squad – which landed in the west and continued south.
“How far is it from our current location to squad three’s last confirmed location?”“We can get there in 10 minutes at our current speed.”Closer than expected.Left to their own devices, the third squad would not receive the retreat order and would be stuck on the island, possibly suffering heavy casualties..‘…’We cannot afford to lose five S-Class Hunters especially considering the next step is a Japanese-only operation.
The third squad was made up from their best hunters since their landing zone in the south was closest to the entrance of the ant colony.To lose them would be a devastating blow for Japan.‘Well, I’m sure it’s nothing and it’s all going to be fine. But…’There must have been some kind of mistake.After a moment of thought, Goto made a decision.“For now, let’s head over there. Hopefully we establish contact again before we get there.”
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PTT. PTT. PTT.TMP.
When Jinwoo stopped, a familiar digital chime rang out.Ding![Distance to complete: 10Km] (Current distance: 10km)[You have finished running 10Km.]Unlike when he first got the daily quest, Jinwoo‘s breathing wasn’t labored in the slightest.Having repeated the daily quest for months now, it felt like a natural part of his waking life.Soon the completion message was accompanied by the reward notification.‘Status.’
Of the 3 points of the daily reward, Jinwoo put 2 points on agility and the last one into strength.
[Status]Strength: 219; Constitution: 200; Agility: 230; Intelligence: 250 Sense: 200(Available Stats Points: 0)Physical damage reduction: 46%Seeing the stats end in a ‘0’ made Jinwoo smile.‘If only I had 1 more point…’Unfortunately, I cannot earn anymore points today.Still, he couldn’t help but grin, looking at the evenly-raised stats.‘Good.’After he raised his intelligence to 250, he doubled back on the other stats to avoid any single stat from being too low.‘All five stats serve their own purpose.’That was the conclusion he had arrived at after all this time. Raising any of the five had never led to disappointment.
‘So…’Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he decided to keep the stats balanced for the time being. Jinwoo closed the status window with a satisfied face and took a moment to take in his surroundings.
Although it was a quiet neighborhood, the number of people who were walking around was extremely low today. This didn’t come as a surprise to him. Jinwoo took out his cell phone and checked the time.‘As I thought’It‘s time for the Korea-Japan allied raid.The entire nation will be glued to their TVs.
Jinwoo turned around and started heading back the way he came.He had completed his run, but the walk home was a bit faster than usual.
The operation was going smoothly.Ma Dong-wook‘s team had reached deep into the colony without any problems, as Japan’s strategy had assured.The inside of the nest was similar to a cave-type dungeon.The key difference being the colony walls weren’t lined with luminous stones to light the way.
‘…’ ‘Gulp’Although he had quite the amount of dungeon experience, the cameraman mouth had gone dry.
He was bringing up the rear, while at the front Jong-in conjured a flame with the rest of the Hunters close behind.The cameraman‘s head mounted camera was paired with a headlamp to provide lighting but they didn’t hold a candle to the S-Class hunter’s magic in the effort to combat the dark. With just the headlamp, he could only see a few meters in front of him.”It’s too quiet…”Ma Dong Wook nodded his head in agreement with Choi Jongin’s words.“Hmm.”Ma Dong-Wook , who was standing at the front as both leader and tank, had the duty to protect Choi Jongin.Focusing his gaze, Ma looked warily in all directions. His usual bright disposition was nowhere to be found.Baek Yoon-ho was also different from his usual self.From the start of the operation when they entered the colony, he opened his “Beast Eyes” to ensure that not even the slightest trickle of mana would go unnoticed.Min Byung-gu and the cameraman also looked unnerved.Only Cha Hae-in walked silently with her hands on her sword’s hilt and a blank expression on her face as usual.
“There…”Jong-in uttered with trepidation, motioning to the area just up ahead.“Huh.”“Emm…”The hunters observed their surroundings in silent awe.Endless rows of ant eggs covered the walls and ceilingsIn each one, a pubescent larvae wriggled around in its translucent shell.In the face of these spawning grounds, the air heavy with gloom and ant musk, there was only one emotion: disgust.“Do you want me to burn this thing down?”Jong-in said, unable to conceal the revulsion in his voice.Ma Dong-wook laughed for the first time since entering the nest.“I would like to, but we don‘t have the time to spare.”Even if all of them hatched, it would only be a year’s time before they were no longer a problem.True relief would only come with the death of their mother.“Something is coming.”Baek Yoon-ho warned, pointing to a spot in the dark further up ahead.But before he could speak, Cha Hae-in had already unsheathed her sword.Ma Dong-wook shouldered a shield as big as his body up to his chin and braced for whatever was coming.
A detachment of about ten ants appeared in unison.Since they were evolved from the creatures born on Jeju Island, their eyes had long-since atrophied in the darkness of the caverns.“Are they the queen‘s royal guard?”Jong-in shook his head.“No, I think they‘re merely guarding the spawning ground.”
“Then this won’t be a challenge.”It goes without saying that if you’re not even a guard of the boss, but just a regular monster then you don’t stand a chance against the firepower of an S-rank attack team.
Ma Dong-wook, who was well aware of how little time they had to work with, attacked first.“Go!”The hunters followed suit.Flames spewed forth from the fingertips of Jong-in, and arrows shot by Lim Tae-gyu split the air.The skirmish was over in an instant as Ma Dong-wook had guessed.KAIYAH!
The head of the last ant tumbled to the ground, its mandibles still chittering in neutered rage.Cha Hae-in brushed the coat of greenish-blue haemolymph off her sword.
Ma Dong-wook spoke as if to confirm what everyone was thinking.”The fact that the spawning ground is here …”Jong-in finished the thought.“…means the Queen‘s chamber is nearby.”While each of them were performing a last minute check on their equipment, the cameraman, who was capturing footage of the spawning grounds, suddenly screamed.“Fuck!”The six hunters all turned their gaze towards him.“I‘m sorry, I‘m sorry.”He bowed apologetically, having forgotten about all the people who were watching the broadcast through the camera on his head. Baek Yoon-ho walked over to the cameraman, cautious, but curious.“What‘s over there?”“Oh, nothing…”The cameraman laughed bashfully in a futile effort to hide his embarrassment and pointed to one corner.“There‘s a huge pile of eggs over there, and one of them is a lot bigger than the others.”‘…!’Baek Yoon-ho‘s pupils dilated as he focused his gaze on where the cameraman was pointing.It was true.While the majority of the eggs lying about were roughly the size of a bicycle wheel, the egg he referred to was about the size of a human being…‘No.’With its elongated oval shape it looked as if a fully grown mutant ant could emerge from it at any moment.‘Is this really an ant egg? What the hell is going to come out of there?’Min Byung-gu, who had just approached the monstrous egg, was similarly shocked.Baek Yoon-ho, whose face had darkened in contemplation, suddenly changed his expression and slapped Min Byung-gu‘s on the back with a beaming grin.“We just need to kill the queen. Everything else is not our concern.”“…Yes.”Min Byung-gu turned around and went back to the other hunters.Baek followed after but turned once to get one last look at the egg.
‘Absurd…’Goto couldn’t believe his eyes.“Ack!”“Ugh…!”
The other hunters either went silent or gulped nervously.Goto looked around and frowned.The Hunters of the third squad were found in the spot where they lost contact with the other squads.All of them without their heads.It was shocking for the other Hunters to see their five companions laying dead on the floor.‘…’Goto rubbed his temples as he approached to examine at the hunters’ corpses.‘They weren‘t cut by any blade.’The Hunters’ heads were all torn off.‘Just how much power would a bite have to be to shred their throats to tatters like this?’While Goto was still reeling at the implications of what he was seeing, one Hunter came near him and spat in anger.“These fucking ants …”
Goto shook his head.“It wasn’t the ants. Not the ones we’ve seen.”
“Whatever it was, it came alone.”
“How could that be?”Goto gulped. No matter how he looked at it, there was no sign of a fight around the bodies. If the ants overwhelmed them with numbers and the third squad was annihilated, then dead ant bodies and other telltale signs should have remained. But there were no such signs at all, only the wounds on the hunter’s corpses. Judging from the positions of the fallen squad members, they seemed to have been beaten by a single enemy.‘What could do that to the most elite hunters in Japan…’The only thing that could pull off something like that is the boss of an S-class dungeon.Goto took the transceiver from the Hunter next to him and tried to summon strength into his voice.“It‘s Goto.”
“Where is the queen? Did she leave the nest?”
The operative on the other end checked the feed coming through from a magic power detection camera attached to a satellite in low Earth orbit.It was technology that only the United States, Japan, and China had access to.But China had actually obtained theirs through reverse engineering a hacked version of what America had, so the most cutting edge iterations still belonged to the U.S. and Japan.The Queen‘s location, which was being monitored by Japan in real time with this state of the art technology, came from the receiver.
“What?”Goto stood up suddenly.He felt his heart drop.‘It wasn’t the Queen?’Goto‘s breath became short and ragged as his pulse began to race.Things were going horribly wrong.The words spilled out of his mouth, almost in desperation.“We have to give the command to withdraw … Tell all Japanese hunters to leave the island at once.”
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Translated/Transcribed by Aster0x and Null
Proofread/Edited by Monkixote, Sam202s and Slimicee
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Solo Leveling Novel Chapter 116
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