The Imperial Hunter Chapter 39 - Starving Port (1)

Author: Dawn

In November, Mexico was one of the Nations where the outbreak of Chinese pneumonia was still ongoing. The steady stream of new patients, numbering in the dozens each day, provided sufficient grounds for various foreign ministries to issue regional travel advisories. In a country like Mexico, if the statistics reported dozens, the actual number of patients was obvious, likely numbering in the hundreds.

Yet, Puerto Vallarta remained a safe haven from the disease. This was due to the efforts of the financially struggling state government, which had concentrated its epidemic prevention capabilities to attract wealthy tourists. Even with my own eyes, I couldn’t detect any trace of the epidemic.

However, the state government’s efforts were in vain. The global economic crisis triggered by the pandemic and the oil price collapse had crushed tourism demand itself. Moreover, within the severe economic downturn, Mexico’s already notorious security situation was continually worsening. Murders, kidnappings, rapes, robberies, riots, arson, and frequent clashes between cartels. Even in Puerto Vallarta, a place known for its safety, dark smoke often rose from the slums. Eventually, the once-thriving autumn port became shrouded in a melancholy silence.

Arriving at the port a fortnight earlier than the expected arrival date of the ship carrying the merchandise, and before the command post had even been fully set up, I spent nearly four days on-site inspection. When I dropped by a restaurant on the main road on the fourth day, instead of lively music, the news on the local TV channel was playing.

“Según encuestas recientes, la falta de seguridad pública es una de las mayores preocupaciones de las personas pobres. La industria privada de seguridad también está creciendo en respuesta…….”

The news discussed how the security gap was becoming the main concern for poor people and how there was an increasing demand for private security companies. The announcer’s voice was as dry as the atmosphere in this city. In this country, it was nothing particularly new. It was just that the fall seemed to have descended even deeper than before, beyond the rock bottom we believed it to be.

Es difícil sobrevivir. Los estadounidenses no llegarán este año. Válgate! No se puede ganar 50 pesos trabajando todo el día. (It’s hard to survive. Americans aren’t coming this year. Damn! You can’t even make 50 pesos working all day.)”

This was a complaint from a waitress seated across from me. Since my group was the only customer in this shop, the waitress reluctantly accepted my request to chat until other customers arrived. Kyung-tae and Suyeon had moved to a nearby table for a while. Apart from them, two security teams were waiting in vehicles outside.

“Originally, many Americans used to come here?” 

I asked, and the waitress nodded vigorously.

“Yes. This city used to see a significant increase in population every winter. Wealthy retirees from North America used to spend their winters here, warm and comfortable. So, for the past six months, even though it was difficult, we had hopes for the winter, thinking, ‘What if?'”

She let out a deep sigh.

“Well, in the end, it’s a complete disaster. Many of the hotels and resorts are said to be on the brink of closure. Some have already shut down. It’s all gone wrong for us.”

“I understand what you mean. It must be very tough.”

“It really is. If I told Señor’s group today was the first customer, would you believe me? There’s no sign of this recession getting better, is there?”

Fifty pesos were less than 3,000 won, even in Mexico, where the cost of living was relatively low. It was a meager amount of money. I watched as the waitress’s eyes, despite her initial reluctance, kept rolling toward the leftover food I had, and her throat seemed to tighten at times. This woman was in a situation where even in Mexico, where prices were low, it was difficult to afford the cheapest meal sold to tourists. Unless there was an employee discount, this was a menu sold to tourists and was relatively expensive.

‘It’s like the African laborers working on Cacao farms.’

They spent their whole lives harvesting cacao, but they didn’t even know what chocolate tasted like before they died. Exploitation was part of human nature and occurred in all fields where profit could be pursued, so I didn’t feel particularly moved. Mexico, from the start, was two to three times better than the African average.

Furthermore, this waitress’s frank complaints gave me a strong impression that it was a strategy to increase profits. Otherwise, would someone blatantly say, “I’m poor,” like this?

“Please leave this here, and if you have any menu you want, go ahead and order.”


“It’s on me. You seem like you haven’t eaten yet.”

“Oh, really…?”

I reassured her with a calm nod.

“Don’t worry about the price. Order as you like, as much as you can eat. While you’re at it, may I have a horchata, please?”

The waitress, who had been in conflict, quickly succumbed to her hunger and, after a brief conversation with the person who seemed to be the boss, rang the bell for the kitchen to take her order and returned. In the days when money flowed into the harbor, it would have been unthinkable.

“T-Thank you. I’ll enjoy it.”

Her cheeks flushed with a hint of embarrassment. Perhaps it wasn’t the fact that I came alone, but the moment I made an effort to spend time talking to her and asked for her opinion she felt a fondness for me. These features could be enough for her to have confidence. The distant owner watched this scene with an expression of mixed feelings. From the perspective of someone who was on the brink of ruin due to a lack of customers, it might not be such a bad thing. After all, sales were going up.

The waitress cleared the table and sat down again, smiling.

“Señor, you’re a kind person. You speak Spanish well. Are you not Chinese?”

“No, I’m from South Korea.”


Corea del Sur.

“Ah, South Korea! I’ve seen it on TV so often it’s like I’m sick of winter. They say it’s the country that handled the damn Chinese pandemic the best. They make good masks, and their test kits are trustworthy, unlike the Chinese ones. Even the mighty United States supposedly received a lot of help from South Korea this time.”

“That’s what they say.”

“It felt really refreshing. Those who used to act so high and mighty turned out to be nothing more than rich idiots.”

Exactly. The United States, full of wealthy and powerful savages.

“Maria, right?”

I read her name tag.

“Between the United States and China, which one do you dislike more?”

Maria, who received the question, blinked her eyes like a rabbit, and then she sighed and fell into thought. The United States, which invaded Mexico and plundered more than half of its territory without shame, treating Mexicans as potential illegal immigrants, and China, which exported the pandemic and devastated the world, making even immediate sustenance difficult. The conflict-ridden Maria didn’t take long to come up with an answer.


“As expected. Do other people feel the same way?”

“I think so. Isn’t that true in most cases? They look like they’re about to die, but they hate the Chinese even more. They don’t like that they keep insisting they’re not the source and don’t like the fact that the stuff they give out has a lot of flaws. It’s also annoying how they sell masks and kits, putting on a show that they’re helping when they’re the ones who spread the disease.”

Reasons for hatred flowed out smoothly. It was the expected answer. Common patriotism couldn’t beat a starving stomach. Maria chuckled and then spoke seriously.

“I’m telling you this since you said you’re not Chinese, Señor.”

“What is it?”

After glancing around as if to make sure, she put one hand to her mouth.

“In my opinion, Taiwan is number one.”

Spit! There was a sound of someone spitting out their drink. When I turned around, Suyeon had put her cup down and was holding her mouth with the back of her hand. Her other hand was clutching her forehead. Kyung-tae, who didn’t know how to speak Spanish, was sitting with a dumbfounded expression after getting hit by a water thunderbolt. Suyeon apologized, pressing her temple, and Kyung-tae replied, “No, Noonim. This is a reward for Kim Kyung-tae, a reward,” in English, making Suyeon’s face even worse.

Maria gracefully got up, took a towel, and fulfilled her waitress duties. Kyung-tae, who calmly accepted the gesture, this time stammered in English.

“Oh, the reward doesn’t end in one time, huh?”

In this tourist city, knowing English was a required part of the service industry. It could make a difference in the tips received, depending on whether one knew it or not. Hearing Kyung-tae’s joke, Maria laughed heartily.

Afterward, she sat back down and, seeming more at ease, continued to share additional complaints about China and the stories of those around her who were struggling even to have meals. The mention of Taiwan as number one seemed like her way of additional verification.

Mary! Aquí está tu orden! (Mary, this is the food that he ordered!)”

The chef from the kitchen extended his upper body and shouted, to which Maria turned her head and raised her voice.

Bien, voy a estar allí! (Yes, I’m coming!)”

She winked at me and turned away.

“Please wait a moment. I’ll be back soon.”

I watched her cheerful stride, contemplating the hatred and animosity she had expressed towards China. It was quite satisfying to see these negative emotions spreading throughout the world.

‘After escaping the frying pan, I don’t want to end up in the fire.’

I opposed “The Round Table of Light and Truth” because I was so sure that they would never let me go. By destroying the Round Table, my only desire was to live in a world where there were no longer people trying to find and kill me. This hope was the most distinct difference between me and the imperialists who filled the world. Their desires were endless, while mine had a simple and modest ending.

The problem was that the era in which the population became an asymmetrical power was approaching. China officially had 1.44 billion people, and unofficially it was estimated to be closer to 1.5 billion. Awakened individuals with circuits open would become an increasingly difficult force to overcome by other means.

I was counting on the newly re-elected U.S. president, who succeeded this month.

‘He may be insane in many ways, but that’s precisely why he can boldly prevent the things he wouldn’t be able to do when sane. By issuing an executive order, he can ignore autonomy and destroy the holy land of “People of the Desert” like he’s plundering it.’

He, the lunatic who held the reins of government with anti-China promises, was already building a sharper confrontation with China than ever before. This was because of the resentment he held, believing that they almost ruined his term due to the Chinese virus.

This political opposition was receiving direct and indirect support from many nations affected by the virus. Hong Kong, which was tumultuous with freedom protests all year, had now become a thorn in the mainland’s side, and Kyung-tae gave an inexplicable comment saying, “I sense a brewing crisis.”


Maria returned with a serving cart. She placed my drinks first.

“Here’s the horchata you added.”

It was a creamy, cinnamon and vanilla-spiced drink made with rice milk. Then came the main course, five in total, and two desserts. I gave the waitress a restrained smile, glancing at her to see if she noticed. In reality, I couldn’t afford to give her more than this.

After clearing the cart and starting her meal with a more relaxed attitude, she continued to share various stories. I made occasional comments and inserted the keywords I wanted to discuss one by one.


Maria’s eyes widened, and she nodded slightly, looking a bit melancholic.

“Well, it’s a tough time for everyone. Many people are considering joining cartels because at least they won’t have to worry about food. Moreover-“


“My dad used to say that nowadays it’s tough not only for us but also for the cartels. That’s why they’re going all out to compete with each other. After all, humans have the things that humans need the most, right? With the cost of human lives being so cheap, recruiting members for their organizations has become easier, so there are frequent fights.”

“Good point. What does your father do?”


I offered an apology to Maria for asking a question that seemed to make her more melancholic.

“I’m sorry. I asked an unnecessary question.”

“No, it’s okay. In the end, it’s because of those damn Chinese. Originally, he worked at the harbor office right here…”

The word was that even the last bastion of maintaining order, the government officials, was being cleaned up.

From the testimony of this local, it could be reconfirmed that the current situation in Puerto Vallarta, and even in all of Mexico, was similar to a pile of dry firewood soaked in gasoline. Any cartel, with money and weapons, could endlessly recruit troops, creating an infinitely precarious situation.

‘In Guadalajara, it’s already an ongoing story.’

It took me only three days to travel from Houston to this port. In those short three days, the situation in Guadalajara had deteriorated rapidly, to the point where any attempt at concealment or compromise was impossible. The so-called ‘War of the Meat Shields,’ with the “Templar Knights” starting the fire and “Sinaloa” igniting the counter-fire, was turning Mexico’s second-largest city into something resembling Baghdad in 1990.

And it wasn’t just Guadalajara. Similar incidents, albeit varying in scale and form, were beginning to occur sporadically in different parts of Mexico, and even beyond, in all the unstable streets and cities worldwide. While the appearance might seem calm, within, there was simmering heat, destruction, and death.

Looking at it differently, I could perhaps take advantage of this situation and get myself some insurance. As a precaution against unpredictable external forces setting the world on fire.

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.
Also, if you find some error in translation please do let me know by tagging me (@_dawn24) in our Discord server. Since this series is kinda hard to translate. But I'll try my best to make it at least readable :)
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