The Imperial Hunter Chapter 38 - El Municionero (6)

Author: Dawn

Mexican drug cartel members were surprisingly devout Catholics. At least, they believed they were. They held a distorted and warped faith, but it was something they genuinely believed in, deep within their hearts. They took it so seriously that they sometimes killed people as sacrifices.

The “Los Caballeros Templarios Cartel” was a group that took this low-level faith to its extreme. Their core belief was in a ridiculous doctrine that all actions in this world, including their own acts of murder, robbery, drug production, and distribution, were part of God’s plan to build the Kingdom of Christ since divine providence operated beyond human comprehension.

So, these criminals boast a code of conduct similar to knighthood, protecting the weak and such. In this context, the weak referred to faithful followers of God, the people who did not resist them. Collecting taxes from them was the legitimate right of the order with a divine mission.

I was aware of this much. However, hearing about these criminals imitating knights in actual operations was new. Swords might have been used for ceremonial purposes, and armor would have been drawn in posters, nothing more.

If it was just a minor threat, there wouldn’t be any reason to issue a warning. The mere mention of it meant that the situation in Guadalajara was unusual. It implied that the Templar Knights’ forces were not ordinary.

‘But haven’t they been struggling to rebuild their organization for a long time?’

These fake “Templar Knights” had faced attacks from the Mexican regular army over an extended period, resulting in a collapse of their overall organization into numerous remnants. Even after breaking apart, they were more like scattered fragments compared to the powerful forces that kept rising and falling in opposition, like the “Sinaloa Cartel” or the “Los Zetas.” Some had even joined friendly cartels to ensure their survival.

And now, were those guys, who weren’t part of any other cartel, fighting against “Sinaloa”? All by themselves?

The only deduction that could be made here was one. A genius had emerged who could instantly reunify the fragmented organization and compensate for its lack of power. With a population of over 130 million in Mexico, it wasn’t surprising that at least one prodigy would emerge. Unfortunately, that prodigy happened to be a cartel’s holy warrior.

I scolded Ricardo in a cold tone.

“If you had such information, you should have informed us in advance!”

“I just wanted us to be prepared for any eventuality. Look!”

The map was still spread out on the table. Ricardo looked at me and pointed to Guadalajara, then slid his finger westward, following the road.

“Even if you take the fastest route from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta, it’s over 300 kilometers. How many checkpoints do you think those ‘Sinaloa’ guys will have set up in between?”

“At this moment, probably quite a few!”

When the ship carrying the merchandise arrived at the port, the situation could change dramatically. What if the pseudo-knights, the butchers, unleashed indiscriminate slaughter that escalated to a state of emergency? What if the cartel, the fake knights, and the military engaged in a three-way battle that ignited the city? On that day, the roads would be blocked, and security at the port and airport would be reinforced. If the authority for searches and inspections shifted from the navy to the federal police or the armed forces, even the admiral’s guarantee would become meaningless, and the goods and blueprints would disappear.

‘These damn Nacho’s kids…’

Even when I stepped into the room, there was a certain decorum to maintain. I was seized by an impulse to get rid of these scoundrels once and for all.

With the frequency and encryption system secured, the chances of being caught off guard were low. In the worst-case scenario, we could even turn the ship around. But considering the value of the blueprints, it made sense to prepare for combat, even if it came to that, assuming the port remained open.

However, Ricardo, unaware of the turmoil in my mind, continued to defend the situation.

“This isn’t necessarily all bad. While the fake Templars are causing chaos, the attention and power of the ‘Sinaloa’ guys will be mostly focused in the east. So, Guadalajara becomes that much more important.”

I could sense a hint of desperation in his urgent tone. Suppressing violent impulses, I bought a little more time, waiting for complete calm to return before finally agreeing.

“Fine, but let’s be clear.”

“About what?”

“No matter the circumstances, our people won’t serve as mercenaries. Even if there’s combat, we’ll only exercise defensive force. After the goods are offloaded at the pier, whatever happens is not our concern. Do you understand?”

“That should do.”

There was a faint hint of disappointment on the quartermaster’s face, as if he had some lingering regrets. Regardless, I extended my hand and stood up.

“Then, this is it. I hope this deal ends satisfactorily for both parties.”

“Agreed, El Municionero.”

“El Municionero?”

“I’m not sure if you know Spanish, but it means ‘the one who provides ammunition.’ Our trading partner who deals with ‘Los Zetas’ should have a suitable alias. Besides, I doubt Huan is your real name.”

I simply acknowledged his point.

“That sounds about right.”

Not only my name but also my face was masked with silicone.

“We only had a brief conversation, but Huan, you seem like someone who could make a name for yourself on Mexican soil someday. I wonder how it would feel if you became famous under the nickname I gave you. ‘El Muni’ would be an acceptable abbreviation, I suppose.”

Made a name for myself with the nickname he gave me? I was tempted to frown at the juvenile sentiment displayed by the quartermaster. The suppressed annoyance began to simmer up again.

And in Mexico, I would never tread lightly. The market might be sizable, but it was highly competitive and dangerous due to many rivals. Where did you think the CIA and DEA were looking? El Municionero would likely be a one-time alias.

Ricardo and his wife watched us as we left, just like when they first welcomed us at the entrance. As I was about to get into the car, I noticed small creatures moving hastily among the weeds near the car’s wheels. They were tiny ants, their bright brown bodies shining like honey. Watching them, I felt the lingering discomfort slowly dissipate.


I gestured for Kyung-tae, who looked puzzled while holding the door, to wait for a moment. I had spotted a few ants scurrying rapidly, seeming to move erratically among the weeds. It wasn’t just one or two; it felt like several fluid lines of disorganized motion.

‘Could these be those crazy ants?’

White Chief had complained about the “Raspberry Crazy Ants” when the electricity at the meeting place had gone out. He had mentioned that they could crawl into electrical panels and cause short circuits. Seeing their erratic movements in person made me think that the term “crazy” might be fitting.

Although I had brushed it off when I heard about it, seeing them in person, I felt like they might be onto something. I bent down and picked up one of the ants. It wriggled as if it were glowing between my thumb and index finger. After holding it for a moment, I placed it on the ground and used my index finger, hovering close but not touching the ants, to observe their reactions. The ants’ movements changed dramatically.


It felt like I could hear the sound just by watching. It was a visual change that stimulated my senses. The ant I had picked up had apparently left an alarm pheromone on my fingers. The ants began to move even more frenetically, as if they were going crazy, trying to locate an enemy.

“What have you been doing since earlier?”

Ricardo, who had been waiting for us to leave while crossing his arms, couldn’t resist his curiosity any longer and approached to see what I was looking at. He made a disgusted expression when he saw these infamous ants.

“Damn it. Araceli! We should call the pest control!”

Pest control?

It would be futile. As someone with the “Eye of the Golden Age,” I had a feeling I understood why the chef was so shaken by these ants. When we arrived, I hadn’t noticed such small details, but the mad ant empire had constructed a massive and three-dimensional city inside the ranch, extending from the blind spot of vision to inside the ranch’s fence. This meant that they covered an area of at least an acre. Counting the number of individuals, there would easily be hundreds of millions of them.

Could this be used as a bioweapon if handled correctly? For an indirect purpose, like disrupting infrastructure. I decided to keep this possibility in mind, which had suddenly occurred to me. With a bit more investigation, I might find an answer. Whether it was worth pursuing practical applications or not. Somehow, these ants reminded me of the ten plagues of Exodus.


As the car started, Suyeon apologized to me.

“I’m sorry, Hyungnim. I didn’t catch the information about the conflicts and power shifts among the cartels regarding Guadalajara.”

The conflicts and power shifts among the cartels were crucial information for negotiations. Suyeon was apologizing for the gaps in the pre-negotiation research conducted by the secretary’s office. I waved my hand vaguely in response.

“It’s fine. Most likely, the ‘Sinaloa Cartel’ blocked the unfavorable information. Attacking a crucial stronghold of the cartel isn’t something that ends with just a minor skirmish for the Templar Knights. If you think about it, that’s how the Mexican government sees it too.”

Moreover, in the current global context, there were only a few places that were truly turbulent. Major events that could capture international media attention were scattered around. Military tensions, diplomatic disputes, and numerous social conflicts were on the rise. It was as if humanity was experiencing growing pains in the era of magic.


‘Mexico has always been a place where cartels cause trouble now and then.’

It was originally that kind of neighborhood.

Last year, following their victory in a full-scale battle with the government, the “Sinaloa Cartel” launched an offensive to reclaim the 17 states they had dominated during their heyday, especially as the momentum of the Chinese-origin pandemic waned. Over the past few years, the southern cartel alliances had held sway over places like Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco. The remnants of the “Templar Knights,” who were ousted by the joint forces at the time, were part of this campaign.

This was because the leadership of the current head of the dominant “Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG)” in the southern alliance had either succumbed to the epidemic or had been annihilated by government forces, making any organized counterattack impossible. As a result, the government seemed to have done nothing but favor Sinaloa in this regard.

“Let’s gather information on the conflict between these two factions.” 

To Suyeon’s words, I returned the notebook I had borrowed and added further instructions.

“Set up a field command post and a safe house in Puerto Vallarta and send in the action teams. The size of the deployment will be determined in consultation with Kyung-tae. Instruct the support team to monitor the frequencies listed there until the job is done. Once the review of the blueprints is complete, I’ll get a direct report from the tech team.”

“Yes. We’ll confirm if it’s safe to proceed with the installation of the field command post in the infectious disease risk area.”

“That’s right. And Kyung-tae.”


“As the person in charge, go ahead first and get settled. Observe the local situation and make plans. In this delivery, we can’t afford a single loss.”


“I’ll go there too. There might be variables that can’t evade my eyes.”

Neither of them objected to my plan. They knew my determination and my abilities as a mage. Kyung-tae sometimes referred to the field command post I’d join as a ‘map hack’ or ‘bug report,’ strange terms the younger generation used these days.

“By the way, about the leader of that knightly order.”

Kyung-tae shifted the conversation with a curious expression.

“He didn’t just go insane, he must have really thought things through.”

Thinking things through meant that he had seen through the era’s changes, likely brought about by the appearance of an awakened.

“Because we’re not the only ones who can think. The answer will become clear when we see if they’re solely using swords or if they’re also using automated weaponry.”

Was it just madness, or was it a calculated strategy?

As we’d discussed in numerous internal strategy meetings, in modern warfare, physical fitness equated to firepower and defense. Awakened individuals who transcend human limits could be armed with more powerful weapons and wear thicker armor. This implied that conventional ‘anti-personnel’ weapons struggle against awakened adversaries. In other words, it was a phenomenon of weapon systems becoming anomalous.

However, organization-wide equipment and strategy changes require time and resources. Therefore, the “Templar Knights”, who first introduced the military elite paradigm to the cartel industry, would be able to ravage “Sinaloa” unilaterally for a while. It was reminiscent of the nightmare “Los Zetas” brought to the cartel industry when they first introduced this kind of military elite paradigm.

The use of cold weapons like longswords also existed as an extension of this context. Since the empowerment of personal weapons led to a decrease in ammunition capacity or an increase in ammunition consumption, carrying cold weapons like longswords to improve combat sustainability was worth considering depending on the situation. Especially in cases like the current “Templar Knights,” where prolonged guerrilla warfare was waged against the enemy.

Kyung-tae spoke up.

“If this is an intentional tactic and performance, I’d like to meet them and have a showdown. It’s an opportunity to gain experience that will pay off in the future.”

I narrowed my eyes at this suggestion.

“Don’t talk nonsense. The stakes are too high. We need to proceed safely.”

“Well, Hyungnim. I’m not underestimating ourselves. Especially when you’re with us.”


While I might consider pulling the plug if it became too dangerous, it was a deal we couldn’t simply walk away from with a submarine on the line. If those fake holy warriors with the drugs decided to crash the party, it could get complicated in many ways. The fake knights were best left to their own devices. Puerto Vallarta was far less important than Guadalajara.

‘But if Guadalajara falls, we’ll have to be prepared.’

Despite Kyung-tae’s words, we weren’t in a position to fear the fake knights, but what concerned me was not the direct conflict with them but the additional variables that unnecessary conflict could create.

In the end, the final judgment would have to be made after I assessed the situation on the ground.

Author's Thoughts

This novel is a work of fiction! While it may incorporate elements inspired by our "real" historical world, including historical events, settings, and cultures, it is important to note that the story and characters are entirely products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or deceased, or actual events is purely coincidental. This work should be enjoyed and interpreted as a work of fiction and not as a representation of historical facts or reality.
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