Descent of the Demon Master
Making a Move (4)
Kang Jin-Ho shot up to his feet.
“What happened to Yeong-Gi?”
“S-sir! Y-you gotta hurry inside, sir!”
Kang Jin-Ho didn't ask any further and ran back inside the building.
Jang Jae-Hwan followed suit and began running ahead of his senior.
While running, Kang Jin-Ho felt his heart race from an ominous sense of foreboding.
Jang Jae-Hwan's pale complexion had hinted at a grim picture.
'No, it can't be!'
Images of the worst-possible situation kept filling up Kang Jin-Ho's mind.
However, he kept telling himself that it couldn't be it—that it was unlikely to happen.
The corridor that used to feel so short suddenly seemed ridiculously long today.
Kang Jin-Ho saw Jang Jae-Hwan rushing inside the bathroom and followed him.
Figurative flames erupted from Kang Jin-Ho's eyes.
That was because…
He could see that Ju Yeong-Gi was collapsed over a toilet bowl, with the combat boot's lace tied around his throat.
“F*cking hell!” Kang Jin-Ho cursed loudly for what had to be the very first time in his life.
“What are you doing, Jae-Hwan?! Pull that crap off Corporal Jang, now!”
“A-ah, yes, sir!” The pale-faced panicking Jang Jae-Hwan hurriedly rushed toward Ju Yeong-Gi’s slumped figure.
Kang Jin-Ho also dashed in and grabbed the boot lace tied around Ju Yeong-Gi's neck before tearing it off in one go.
“Jae-Hwan, you idiot! You should have been trying to save Corporal Jang first! Why did you call me instead?!”
“I, I'm sorry, sir…!”
“Goddamn it!” Kang Jin-Ho quickly brought his hand near Ju Yeong-Gi's nose.
'He's not breathing!'
There was no air coming in or out of Ju Yeong-Gi's nostril.
Kang Jin-Ho grabbed the unconscious corporal's legs and unhesitantly dragged him away from the toilet bowl before kneeling next to the unmoving figure.
As he got ready to compress Ju Yeong-Gi's chest, Kang Jin-Ho cried out, “CPR!”
“S-sir?” Jang Jae-Hwan was taken aback.
“We're doing CPR! You do the mouth-to-mouth!”
“A-ah! Yes, sir!”
There were two of them here.
Working together to perform CPR was the correct option.
Kang Jin-Ho watched as Jang Jae-Hwan performed the mouth-to-mouth before pulling his head away.
Afterward, Kang Jin-Ho began to pump Ju Yeong-Gi's chest area.
'This is the right way, isn't it?'
Kang Jin-Ho was awarded first place during CPR training, but he was having difficulty remembering the correct sequence right now.
He had witnessed plenty of deaths before, so why was he so flustered like this? At least in this very moment, Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor hidden deep within him seemed so far away and out of reach.
The one in this place was a powerless human named Kang Jin-Ho—someone too weak to even prevent an acquaintance from dying.
Their loud yellings caught the attention of others, and soon, a crowd rushed into the bathroom.
“Hey, call an ambulance!” Kang Jin-Ho shouted at them, but no one seemed to have understood him.
“I said, call an ambulance, you dumb sh*ts!”
Only after Kang Jin-Ho yelled loud enough for the veins in his throat to bulge did the crowd realize the seriousness of this situation.
Several of them hurriedly dashed toward the Administration Office.
“Stay with me, Yeong-Gi!” Kang Jin-Ho continued to pump away at Ju Yeong-Gi's chest, cold sweat trickling down his face.
He was starting to realize that it was already too late to bring Ju Yeong-Gi back through simple chest compressions.
As such, Kang Jin-Ho quickly circulated his internal energy while pressing down on Ju Yeong-Gi's chest.
“Jang Jae-Hwan, step back!”
“Take your hands off and step back! Hurry!”
After Jang Jae-Hwan stumbled back, Kang Jin-Ho tried hard to regain his cool.
'How much will be enough?'
A person's inert heart could potentially be restarted through internal energy.
At least, that was the impression Kang Jin-Ho had gotten after learning a little more about the advances in modern medical science.
However, how much force was required to do that? Too much energy could cause the heart to rupture, but too little would not get him anywhere either.
'What should I do?!'
He wasn't a doctor, and he had never received training in this kind of thing.
The only sources of information he had until now were various books and…
Kang Jin-Ho slowly closed his eyes.
Some of the dumb TV dramas he was forced to sit through during his military life happened to be medical dramas.
Don't try to get it started in one go.
Start slow and weak, then gradually amp it up!'
He was uncertain whether he was doing this correctly or not.
After all, he had no way of knowing whether the 'medical knowledge' bandied about in those shows was all nonsense or not.
However, there was no other option.
Ju Yeong-Gi would die at this rate, anyway!
'Take it slowly and gently…'
While pressing down on Ju Yeong-Gi's chest, Kang Jin-Ho carefully circulated his internal energy.
Doing two disparate things simultaneously had never been easy, but he simply had to do it right now.
Kang Jin-Ho carefully pushed down slightly deeper into Ju Yeong-Gi's chest.
In a blink of an eye, qi traveling out of Kang Jin-Ho's hands entered Ju Yeong-Gi and struck the inert heart.
Ju Yeong-Gi's figure slightly bounced up from the floor.
'Was that too strong?'
Kang Jin-Ho was alarmed, but he realized that Ju Yeong-Gi was still not breathing after that shock.
“Jae-Hwan! Mouth-to-mouth, again!”
Jang Jae-Hwan on standby rushed in and began breathing into Ju Yeong-Gi's mouth.
Kang Jin-Ho waited before crying out again.
“…Back off, now!”
Once Jang Jae-Hwan stumbled back, Kang Jin-Ho pressed down on Ju Yeong-Gi's chest again while injecting his internal energy.
Ju Yeong-Gi's figure shook and quivered, but he was still not breathing.
Kang Jin-Ho was getting more and more impatient.
Just how long had Ju Yeong-Gi been in this state? Ten minutes? Twenty? How much time had passed since he stopped breathing?
Kang Jin-Ho looked around.
“Where's the ambulance!”
“Sir! We called for one, and it's on its way!”
“Then, where's the medic?”
“S-sir? You mean, me?” A stuttering medic walked up to Kang Jin-Ho with a frightened look.
Kang Jin-Ho saw that pale complexion, and he could only turn his head away in disappointment.
Charlie was an independent corps with less than a hundred soldiers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't have a properly-kitted infirmary, and none of the medics here had received in-depth training either.
'I won't let it end this way!'
However, that didn't mean Kang Jin-Ho should give up now.
He had to keep trying right until he collapsed from exhaustion.
The medic muttered, “E-excuse me, Corporal Kang…”
“Don't you dare say it!”
Kang Jin-Ho knew what the medic wanted to say to him.
After all, he was thinking about a similar thing only a few seconds ago, didn't he? However, that thought should remain as that—a mere thought.
Kang Jin-Ho yelled, “His body is still warm! It's not cold yet!”
Indeed, Ju Yeong-Gi's body temperature could still be felt through Kang Jin-Ho's fingertips.
If it had been ice-cold, sure, he might have given up, but with his body being warm? He wasn’t willing to accept that Ju Yeong-Gi was dead.
“One more time! Mouth-to-mouth!”
“Yes, sir!” Jang Jae-Hwan rushed in and began breathing into Ju Yeong-Gi's mouth once again.
It seemed that he was also unwilling to give up.
Ju Yeong-Gi's chest rose up noticeably before settling back down.
As soon as Jang Jae-Hwan stepped back, Kang Jin-Ho pressed down on Ju Yeong-Gi's chest one more time.
'It needs more!'
Something told him that he shouldn't stick to his previous method.
So, Kang Jin-Ho circulated even more internal energy than before.
'…Do it in one shot!'
Kang Jin-Ho pushed down harder on Ju Yeong-Gi's chest, then injected more internal energy than his previous attempt.
“Damn it, man! Wake up!”
Right at that very moment—
Ju Yeong-Gi's body convulsed, and he began to cough and wheeze.
“Ah!” Kang Jin-Ho carefully backed off before pressing his ear to Ju Yeong-Gi's heaving chest.
He could hear the heart pumping now.
Ju Yeong-Gi was also breathing once again.
“Hah-ah…” Kang Jin-Ho plopped down on his butt as all the tension left him at once.
The worst was over.
It was unknown how long Ju Yeong-Gi's brain had been starved of oxygen, but his odds of survival should be good as long as he had been revived quickly enough.
And, if lady luck was on his side, he should not suffer from any aftereffects.
However, what if Ju Yeong-Gi wasn't so lucky?
Kang Jin-Ho quickly shook his head.
This wasn't the time to think negatively.
Indeed, it was time to…
His head slowly turned until his glare found the pale-faced Kim Hak-Cheol's face hidden among the crowd.
Kim Hak-Cheol's forehead was coated in thick droplets of sweat.
No doubt he understood what this incident signified.
Crimson veins began to appear on Kang Jin-Ho's eyes, turning them nearly bloodshot.
However, his head slowly lowered soon afterward.
'I shouldn't have let my guard down!'
Why did he think the situation wasn't as bad as he had feared?! Why?!
Kang Jin-Ho quietly gnashed his teeth.
He knew he was bad at empathy and that he couldn't sympathize with other people’s pain.
In that case, he should have been more attentive—more hands-on.
Despite noticing how poor Ju Yeong-Gi's expression was, Kang Jin-Ho remained lackadaisical, thinking there was still plenty of time left.
If only he made a move yesterday!
He could have been mistaken, but if he just kept his eyes on Ju Yeong-Gi today! This situation wouldn't have happened!
That was when he heard the loud wailing of an emergency vehicle coming from the building's entrance.
Soon, the military paramedics rushed inside the bathroom while carrying various tools.
“Where is he?!” Almost at the same time, the heavily-sweating Battery Commander also rushed inside.
He directly ran over here after receiving the emergency call mere seconds ago.
“W-what happened?! What's going on?!”
Kang Jin-Ho watched this scene unfold and unknowingly smirked helplessly.
this had to be a farce—a well-rehearsed farce!
The entire base was thrown into an uproar.
Several investigators dispatched by the HQ descended on the base just as dawn broke.
The soldiers were confined to their squad's individual living area, and they couldn't even freely use the toilet.
“What on earth is happening here?” Seong Tae-Ho muttered, his expression one of pure stupefaction.
He woke up in the morning to learn that a seemingly-fine soldier from a neighboring squad suddenly tried to hang himself before being taken to a hospital.
Then, investigators descended like a pack of vultures to the base soon afterward.
No wonder he was confused and slightly panicking at all this development.
“I don't have much time left until my discharge, so why did this have to happen now?”
Despite complaining about his discharge, Seong Tae-Ho's face was still filled with concern.
Nobody would remain nonplussed after learning that a fellow soldier in the same corps had tried to kill himself, and Seong Tae-Ho was no exception.
He groaned and muttered, “Why did Corporal Ju Yeong-Gi do that, I wonder?”
“Me too, sir.”
The living area no.5 was located the furthest away from no.1, where the 1st Squad resided.
That had to be the reason why most of the soldiers living here were puzzled by what had transpired.
“Corporal Kang, sir? Do you know what happened?”
Kang Jin-Ho didn't respond to the question as he remained sitting with his eyes closed.
His squad mates were asking him for clarification since they knew he and Ju Yeong-Gi came from the same group in the boot camp.
However, their questions only freshly reminded Kang Jin-Ho of how inattentive he had been toward Ju Yeong-Gi.
Seong Tae-Ho glanced around and asked another question, “How's Yeong-Gi's condition? Does anyone know?”
“Sir, he's alive.
However, nobody apparently knows how bad the aftereffects will be….”
“Who told you that?”
“The medic, sir.”
“What the hell?! That quack knows jack-sh*t, so how dare he spew nonsense about the aftereffects and what not!” Seong Tae-Ho roared unhappily.
“But, we don't know much time Corporal Ju had spent without breathing, sir.
A human brain will supposedly suffer from irreparable damage after being starved of oxygen for five minutes, sir.”
“Five minutes, my ass!” Seong Tae-Ho grumbled, then turned toward Kang Jin-Ho, worry visibly filling his face.
Kang Jin-Ho opened his eyes and looked back at Seong Tae-Ho.
“Corporal Kang Jin-Ho, sir.”
“Yeong-Gi's shift was before yours, right?”
You discovered Yeong-Gi after you finished your shift, right? Taking into account the time needed to return your weapon and walk back and forth, it couldn't have been that long, right? Right?”
“That's a possibility, sir.”
“Eiii… That means he was discovered before it was too late.
I'm sure he'll be fine.”
“Yes, sir,” Kang Jin-Ho replied, his voice lacking energy.
He had been in too much of a rush, so he had failed to confirm the damage to Ju Yeong-Gi's brain.
However, there was also the question of whether he could check such a thing using internal energy or not.
“But, why did that dude do something like that…?” Seong Tae-Ho's pained muttering drifted away toward the end.
Kang Jin-Ho silently got up and put on his shoes to leave.
Seong Tae-Ho looked at him and asked, “Where are you going, Jin-Ho?”
“I'm going outside for a smoke, sir.”
One of the lower-ranked soldiers raised his hand.
“But, uh… Corporal Kang, sir? The Section Commander's order was for no one to go outsi—”
“Hey, that's enough, you idiot!” Seong Tae-Ho abruptly cut the junior soldier off.
Kang Jin-Ho nodded briefly.
“I'll be back soon, sir.”
Go ahead.” Seong Tae-Ho waved his hand a little and watched Kang Jin-Ho leave.
Then, he turned his attention to the objecting junior soldier.
“You dumbass! Learn how to read the room! Corporal Kang discovered that his one and only boot camp mate had just tried to hang himself.
You think he's in any mood to humor you?!”
The Section Commander warned us anyone caught sneaking around will get severely punished.”
“What can that boomer do, anyway?!” Seong Tae-Ho tutted while glancing at the doorway.
Today had to be the first time Kang Jin-Ho made such a stiff face since he was deployed to this base.
“I hope nothing happens….”
Seong Tae-Ho wasn't sure his worried muttering was meant for Kang Jin-Ho or Ju Yeong-Gi.
Regardless of who it was for, he couldn't stop sighing again and again.
“Seriously now, I hope it won't end badly…”
For some reason, this vague, inexplicable, ominous sense of foreboding began to creep into Seong Tae-Ho's heart.
It began right after he saw Kang Jin-Ho's back leaving through the doorway.
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