The Imperial Hunter Chapter 72 - The Hunters (7)

Author: Dawn

There were two Dutton hunters rescued alive. One was a non-critical with senses startled and having soiled himself, but still able to walk on his own legs. The other was unconscious with full-body fractures in the co-pilot’s seat. The rest were all dead, left where they died. Neilson didn’t insist on taking additional risks for the dead either.

The boar wary of me never got another chance for attack, only watching for opportunities until the end. But it would remember me and the hunters bundled together with today’s grudge. They said boars were smarter animals than dogs.

The police and rescue helicopters dispatched after receiving the report approached not from Richfield in the west but Sand Ledges in the east. This Sand Ledges was originally desolate uninhabited land but was now seen as the front line of government authorities against the “invasion” of the Trembling Giant. Behind that front line sprawled camps of all sorts of riffraff including mysticists and environmentalists, on a scale resembling a small city. So it wasn’t odd for police and rescue personnel to be stationed there anticipating trouble.

The highway patrol inspector who came didn’t demand much testimony. The circumstances before and after the crash were recorded on multiple cameras. And two involved parties were even alive, so if they insisted on detailed statements, those two would be priority 1, Neilson’s group priority 2, while me and party along with the cheapskate couple would be around priority 3. The false name and contact I provided as a witness would ultimately be useless anyway.

By the time additional ground support arrived comprising police and citizen police volunteers (VPS) from the local populace, the militia no longer had any remaining tasks.

“Are you alright?”

Leaning alone against the helicopter sipping a can, the militia leader showed me a weary smile.

“Now what good will it do to say I’m not? I’m just a little tired.”

What Neilson tipped back wasn’t beer but an energy drink. He couldn’t drink alcohol with the return flight left. Seemed he was drinking it to work up some vigor somehow. Gulping the high-caffeine beverage, he dabbed his lips with the back of his hand and spoke.

“I appreciated it earlier.”

“You mean how I declined the refund?”

“Yes, that.”

Neilson chuckled. The bitterness in that laughter was probably from having to deal with the damn cheapskates just before. The couple demanded a refund for the ruined tour was natural, and even compensation for mental damages on top of that. The gist was that Pioneer Hunters’ team ignored customer danger by stubbornly carrying out reckless rescue operations. Having rejected their demand, Neilson would soon reunite with them in court. America is the land of lawsuits, after all.

After a brief silence, Neilson spoke again.

“That was my first time seeing a boar act like that. They’re timid creatures originally… Get suspicious, become alert at odd smells, the whole herd scatters from a single gunshot, don’t even dare approach anything bigger and noisier than them…”

Things like helicopters. I corrected the error.

“It’s not an accurate description to say they were originally timid animals.”


“I mean innate nature and acquired survival strategies should be distinguished. The ecology we know of familiar animals is empirical knowledge uncertain of what’s innate and what’s a survival strategy. The behavioral principles of prey you’ve believed matter-of-factly over the years were largely things forced by the law of the jungle.”


“If you were military you’d know from experience just how much power changes people. Animals aren’t much different from humans in that regard.”

“Could it not have just been peculiar to that one?”

I shook my head cynically.

“The world now is just going through a transition. As the newly empowered adapt to their changed positions, the world will drift further and further from familiar forms.”

Neilson, pondering with a serious look, emptied the remaining drink and then crumpled the can.

“Listening to you say that makes me even more uncertain…”

The word ‘more’ was an unconscious slip.

“You don’t seem the type to be intimidated just because prey gets a bit feistier… There’s internal noise in the brigade, it appears?”

“…You can tell?”

“I figured there would be. People who enjoy professional risks are quite rare.”

The uneasy air flowing among the hunters was obvious to the point of being impossible to feign ignorance of. A militia was fundamentally a local community fellowship, so even becoming a profit-seeking corporation nominally, the mindset of the members couldn’t change all at once.

In such an anomic fellowship-centric organization, the leader dismissing a member was itself sufficient to destabilize the rest of the organization. The ousted member would vent discontent and complaints about Neilson to other members, friends, and neighbors alike.

Even among those who followed Neilson’s intent, as time passed for rumination some whose minds grew uncertain were sure to appear. The attitude Neilson displayed as a decision maker then was not the Neilson they knew and associated with.

While it was true Neilson had overreached a bit, in my view as the head of a far greater organization, the real problem with this hunter brigade was the sheer lack of a clear decision-making system and hierarchy.

‘A group that risks dissolution every time the leader makes a mistake can never play in the big leagues.’

This was actually the very first labor pain almost all organizations went through while growing. Organizational growth limits differ depending on whether or not this stage is successfully navigated.

And was Neilson’s overreach even a bad decision? A principled militia risking their lives to rescue even the foolish competitors sabotaging their hunt. What fine material for publicity and image-making. Once lawsuits also started circulating in the mix, Pioneer Hunters’ team’s fame would rise astronomically.

Therefore, if I wanted to secure shares in this undervalued startup, right now when this poor pup was losing confidence as a leader due to petty human relations and overestimating his hardship was the opportune timing.

I had no particular desires from my standpoint, just that a not-bad investment prospect happened to roll up. This was the business sense of finding profit in every moment of life, and the strategist’s sense that even slight tactical gains warranted mulling over at least once.

Still weighing financial gain against tactical advantage, I casually made a proposition as if impulse buying.

“Might you consider accepting investment?”

“Investment? From you?”


As Neilson grew a bit confused, I calmly continued.

“You’ll likely go through some growing pains after this, but I see you as a sapling that will grow greater. So long as provided sufficient nutrients without sap-sucking worms, that is.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, however-“

“Let’s start with $1 million for now.”

Neilson shut his mouth at the sum.

“How much stake could I buy with that money?”

Truthfully I had no greed for the stakes themselves.

What I wanted was an organization that could provide lodging and spare transport that didn’t expose me and my kids’ movements, actively gather varied intelligence in this region, and if needed, take on some extra-legal requests, all while completely unaware of their true usefulness.

Even better if the local collaborators could pay dividends when able, and cover some maintenance costs themselves even when unable.

‘At that price, $1 million is practically free.’

Kyung-tae had suggested stationing some of the organization’s personnel around here, but committing personnel rashly to a region with zero footholds was a poor choice.

So Pioneer Hunters’ team didn’t necessarily have to be the investment target. I just happened to be nearby them and confirmed the quality personally, so it was worth poking to save time and opportunity cost searching for other options.

With hunted as my position, every move I made needed to hold value of two, or three moves ideally.

Neilson, pondering with a changed look, asked.

“Are you seriously proposing this?”

Had this been someone else’s proposal, I would have taken it as a lame joke or attempted fraud at best. Let alone when I’d just met the person that day. A normal reaction would be “What nonsense is this out of nowhere.”

But by refusing a refund of $5,000 without the slightest hesitation, I demonstrated my wealth. Deciding that without consulting my party showed I was the greater figure among them too. If this militia leader couldn’t smell money from me, he had no business doing business. Fortuitous encounters for business can come from anywhere, and cases of customers reinventing themselves as investors were as common as muck.

Recklessly participating in the rescue squad and scaring off the boar also left a strong impression. Showed I was no ordinary person at least.

“Does this look like a joke to you?”

Replying to his question with one of my own, Neilson shook off doubt and pondered once more, now trying to show himself clever on the business end.

“$1 million doesn’t even reach the cost of one helicopter we operate. If we add up the worth of vehicles, helicopters, various weapons and gear, and real estate owned by our militia, just the tangible assets exceed $7 million. And the human resources are worth even more. For instance…”

“Human resources value?”

I cut Neilson’s words short and pointed with my gaze and chin to one side. Neilson’s face flushed with embarrassment. Over there a number of militia members were sneaking glances this way with stiff expressions, exchanging words whose content could be easily guessed without needing to actually eavesdrop.

I slid my hands into my pockets and jerked my chin at Neilson.

“Let’s not talk hardware or human resources value, but your value.”

“You’ll invest based only on me?”

“You may have heard how Masayoshi Son, Chairman of Softbank, met a Chinese venture businessman named Jack Ma and decided within just 6 minutes to invest $20 million in him.”

“Twenty million…”

“Yes, twenty million. In fact, the amount he initially proposed was $30 million. It was refused by Jack Ma’s side. Anyway, while I’m no Masayoshi Son and you’re no Jack Ma, we’ve observed each other for more than 6 minutes, no?”


“Even generously accepting your claim of $7 million in tangible assets, the real estate must be tied as collateral for loans, and two choppers are conditionally rented from the Ministry of Defense and local tycoons. I heard one remains with outstanding installments still due-“

Kyung-tae’s affability came in handy at times like this too. I wouldn’t have naturally heard such stories if not for him. Intel that surfaced so smoothly had high odds of being facts as-is, compared to info I had to dig for.

“With maintenance and labor costs bleeding out, inventory in hand is what matters. Tallying in detail will only embarrass you. Frankly speaking, I think half the reason your leadership is precarious is the militia’s financial situation… Am I wrong?”

Fundamentally, a boss’s authority comes from paychecks. As a venture just starting a business, Pioneer Hunters’ team was an organization that, rather than being able to pay satisfactory wages, considered it fortunate if payment wasn’t delayed. Inexperienced managers tend to want to resolve such financial instability first, regardless of business outlook.

I knew it from having experienced the anxiety myself.

On top of that, this ex-military man had been operating unnecessarily expensive equipment from the outset. A common mistake often made by amateur entrepreneurs. Like those who say “No matter what, I’ll only use the best ingredients” when starting a restaurant.

“No need for anything else.”

Words conveying instrumental flexibility.

“I’m investing in you, who I observed directly. State your terms. What percentage will you sell for $1 million?”

“…This is something that needs to be discussed together with colleagues who hold stakes-“

“Six minutes.”

I interrupted Neilson’s words rudely once more.

“As I exemplified earlier, the investing and receiving sides decided in just 6 minutes. Such swift judgment and swift decision demonstrated not rashness but the capabilities they possessed as investor and businessmen. Persuading colleagues is a capability you must show me as well. So decide here and now. Otherwise, consider the investment withdrawn.”

Though I slapped on a plausible pretext, forcing a decision without allowing time to ponder was a tactic scammers tended to enjoy. However, the line between scammer and businessman was ambiguous to begin with. The tricks so-called businessmen put into contracts, for example. Then they justify themselves by calling the losing party a fool.

The vexed Neilson barely opened his mouth.

“15 percent. I’ll try persuading my colleagues that much.”

The militia leader spoke in nervousness. The self-doubt that he pushed too hard or too weakly showed plainly on his face. I presented a lenient amendment.

“Let’s do 25 percent for $3 million.”

Neilson sucked in a breath. $3 million could purchase two helicopter models around 5-10 years old in good condition on the used market.

‘Still need to keep a quarter.’

While uninterested in monetary gain from stakes, I needed stakes as a means to influence the militia. $3 million was money my hunting dogs could haul out of just one decent house gambling parlor. This was the bottom-feeding food chain where I as a predator and my subordinates lived.

“But one condition.”

As I attached a clause, wariness returned to Neilson’s eyes. Paying no mind to that wariness, I demanded the obvious.

“Take control of the organization. Dismiss without mercy those who must go, and obtain firmer leadership from colleagues who acknowledge you. As is, you’ll ultimately fail to accomplish anything properly.”


“Do just that much and my stake will always side with you.”

The tension in Neilson’s expression and shoulders slowly eased.

“No easy task…”

Of course, it wouldn’t be. This militia leader had started the business wanting to help friends and colleagues in financial straits after all, the very fundamental identity of Pioneer Hunters’ team as an organization. If considering only original aims, refusing my demand may have been preferable.

I might be casually tempting a wavering man to corruption.

But what of it?

“Distinguish ideals and reality. If you try to take everyone refusing you along, it may end with everyone starving together. I mean save who can be saved first.”

Having heard this much, Neilson heaved a heavy sigh and held out his hand. By clasping that hand I finalized both my own profit and a human’s retreat.

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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