The Imperial Hunter Chapter 90 - The Crucible of Gu (1)

Author: Dawn

Anticipating the entry into the next hunting ground, I took a short nap for a couple of hours in my cabin on Becrux until sunrise. Although I said a couple of hours, in reality, I couldn’t even fall asleep for half of that time. Anyway, I managed to get some rest, so I thought I could maintain a more complete judgment for about half a day while digesting the intense activities. Reflecting on the abnormal excitement during the conflict in Mexico, it would have been beneficial to rely on the awakening agent until the decisive moment.

As I drove away sleep with difficulty, a headache came in place of the departing sleep. It must be due to sleep deprivation. I decide to endure it without taking any painkillers. It’s uncomfortable to take painkillers in advance when I don’t know when I’ll need the awakening agent. Mixing different types of medication is never a good habit.

The storage, transport, and export of the stolen loot were under the jurisdiction of Suyeon, who was in charge of rear support. It was Suyeon’s role to review the various drafts and requests coming up from headquarters during my absence. I reviewed the contents while having a meal.

“We are pursuing the acquisition of a significant number of Chinese vessels as we judge that smooth cargo export is difficult with a single cruise ship from Heungseong Tourism, which used to operate on the Busan-Macao route. If we disguise it as a fleet going for a collective fishing operation in the North Korean East Sea, it is expected that we can freely move through the waters without attracting the attention of the Coast Guard. I have already issued an order to secure vessels with a tonnage of 20 tons, and the estimated unit price per ship, including shipping and permit certificates, is around 140,000 yuan.”

“140,000 yuan?”


The plan itself is good. Chinese vessels operating in the waters near North Korea are quite common, and the Chinese Coast Guard cannot inspect each departing ship individually. How can they monitor each of the tens of thousands of fleets that go out to the open sea and come back along the long coastline? Moreover, most of these fleets are engaged in illegal operations, so the more inspections China conducts, the more it loses. Conducting inspections but not catching anything becomes a diplomatic problem.

However, the strange thing was the price of the vessels. With 140,000 yuan, it’s about 24 million won. It’s less than a quarter of the price of a used ship of the same class traded in Korea. I raised my eyebrows, expressing my doubt. Budget savings are good, but I wondered if the plan was too tight.

“It’s too cheap. Can we secure enough quantity with that value? Are you trying to save too much money?”

Suyeon calmly responded.

“It’s possible. The increase in incidents has led to more available vessels and a decrease in transaction volume.”

“Incidents? Like increased surveillance by other countries?”

“Primarily that. In addition, a combination of factors such as a surge in unidentified distress incidents presumed to be the mischief of marine creatures, and an increase in damage caused by pirates, seems to have had a complex impact.”

“…But apart from that, are there pirates who attack fishing vessels? Especially Chinese ones?”

Capturing sailors from a country where people are treated as commodities and negotiating how much they can get for them. The Chinese government would be more interested in using this hostage situation politically than valuing human lives. The families of the hostages would not have the financial capacity to pay. After all, except for the captain, most of them would have nationalities that are less prosperous than China, such as the Philippines or Indonesia. From the pirates’ perspective, Chinese vessels were probably not as valuable prey as they were rare.

However, Suyeon nodded again.

“It’s not typical piracy; it’s armed conflicts between fishermen of different nationalities. It’s said that fishermen, mainly from Vietnam and Indonesia, attack Chinese vessels entering their national waters. The authorities of both countries seem to subtly encourage or tolerate this.”

“Huh. China has become a bit careless.”

“Partially, it’s to create a stage for awakened individuals to act, divert their attention, and further incite public sentiment.”

A plausible story.

China’s current situation did not allow it to take powerful action for the sake of a problem like fishing vessels being plundered. The United States, which had established formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, was passing warships through the Taiwan Strait every day, irritating China.

Of course, external enemies are a good means of reducing domestic unrest, but the enemy needs to be clear and easily understandable. From the Chinese government’s perspective, it was more advantageous to refrain from informing the public about the existence of an enemy beyond the limits of their response. 

In short, choosing and focusing were necessary even here.

So, Vietnam and Indonesia were conducting delicate tightrope walking where they could without eliciting a reaction from the other party. In the long run, it could be a choice that brings disadvantages, but both of these countries were not in a stable situation, so they would likely focus more on short-term effects. In other words, they also needed an external enemy.

“Next is the progress report on the acquisition of new land by Nueva Nogales. Through an indirect consortium using the Diamond Casino…”

While listening to the following orderly reports, I finished my meal slowly and, sipping coffee, approved several electronic documents. Personnel assignments, budget allocation, and spending, educational and procurement plans, and other matters related to the organization’s routine operations.

As the payment proceeded through iris and fingerprint recognition, it reminded me of the old days when even basic remote office systems didn’t exist. Both then and now, as I was the organization’s top joker, business trips and fieldwork were frequent. However, handling everything with just phone calls had its limitations, so at the end of every business trip and fieldwork was a pile of documents waiting for me. Such handling of tasks significantly increased my fatigue. Even if you handle the same amount of work, it’s naturally more challenging when you do it all at once.

Building the current system was the achievement of Suyeon’s predecessor and the one before that. Although there have been improvements since the previous one, the fundamental framework has not changed. Nevertheless, there was a considerable difference in work efficiency between the previous one and Suyeon. The system is the same, but it’s the person operating it who makes the difference.

When the predecessor left abruptly, I honestly felt a bit bitter…


Suyeon looked puzzled and slightly awkward at the same time.

“Do you have something to say?”

The silence during the gaze seemed lengthy. I pushed the tablet that I had just finished approving toward Suyeon, shaking my head to indicate that it wasn’t anything.

“I’ll see you in the briefing room at the appointed time.”

“Sure. Thank you for your hard work.”

In the briefing room, we planned to determine the impact points on the Triad. I pushed the empty coffee cup toward Suyeon, who was about to turn around.

“Bring me another cup of coffee before you go.”

“I can’t.”


Did I hear wrong? When I expressed confusion this time, Suyeon calmly explained.

“You’ve been pressing your temple repeatedly since earlier. It’s a habit you have when your head hurts. Excessive caffeine intake worsens headaches, so I recommend ending it after lightly dispelling drowsiness.”

Listening, I realized that I had been massaging my temples. After a brief pause, I chuckled.

“Okay, okay. I’ll do as you say.”

“Thank you.”

“I should be the one thanking you. Thank you. For caring.”


Suyeon, who had been silently blinking, eventually lowered her gaze and bowed her head again. There was a change in the secretary’s vital signs that I couldn’t interpret.

After brushing my teeth, I replaced my cup of coffee with a walk around the ship. On the second day of arrival today, there were still many areas on the passenger ship that needed attention. Personnel dispatched from headquarters had already begun work at sunrise. They were changing the Chinese communication equipment on the bridge to Korean-made, installing several relays to enable satellite calls from within the ship even while moving, and securing armored compartments in case of combat on board.

Reaching the bow railings, I saw numerous bodies rolling on the riverbed under the flowing river water. Corpses, along with all sorts of filthy debris, swayed down with the deep and slow currents.

Contrary to what many people commonly believe, most of the bodies do not float in the water. For a human corpse to float, gases produced by decay need to accumulate inside the body. However, when fish and crustaceans consume the flesh, they create holes that allow the gas to escape.

The softest parts, like eyeballs, are the first to be consumed by underwater creatures. Next is the flesh, followed by organs and fat. Tissues with tough muscle fibers are usually the last. Typically, the feet remain until the end, mostly because shoes are hard. Therefore, when disposing of a body in a river or the sea, it’s essential to remove the shoes.

Among the remains discarded on the riverbed, half were wearing shoes, while the other half consisted only of skeletons. The former might be the work of amateurs lacking even basic knowledge, while the latter could be attributed to more professional killers, including military personnel and cannibalistic entities.

Upon entering the briefing room, I found the operational staff at the team leader level or higher gathered.

“Take a seat.”

Everyone who was standing immediately took their seats.

On the front wall, which looked much improved from yesterday, a large map was projected by a laser projector. Pointing my chin to the single highlighted area on the map, I asked,

“Has the strike point already been decided?”

Suyeon, standing beside the map, nodded slightly.

“Yes. It’s the residential area called Daxing village, which touches the northwest boundary of Panyu District.”

“What’s there?”

“Many businesses belonging to the Hulongbang, one of the Guangdong Triad’s sub-factions, are concentrated there. There are dogfighting pits, gambling dens, auction houses, and more.”

“There must have been more places than just this according to the information Gao Shusen provided.”

“Of course, there were many other candidate locations… the Chief of Security also agreed that this is the optimal target. Firstly, the abnormal concentration of businesses, and secondly, a supporter behind the scenes who had been watching Hu Shuying, the leader of Hulongbang, was recently neutralized. After that incident, Hu Shuying, for security reasons, has preferred to stay at business locations rather than at home.”

“It sounds like prey that can be bitten off in one big, neat chunk.”

“That’s right.”

“Have you verified the reliability of the information?”

“To the extent that can be verified, yes. However, due to insufficient data, it’s difficult to be a hundred percent certain. We also deployed drones during your absence, but they did not yield any significant results.”


With the sun already set, information gathering through drones is limited. Didn’t Houston’s Ricardo also notice the presence of our drone that flew far away? If there were mid-level officials of the Triad on constant alert, they would have detected abnormalities as soon as the drone rose into the sky.

“Indeed, the location itself is excellent.”

Looking at the map, I understood why they concentrated the businesses here. The small waterway, penetrating the residential area and flowing under the riverside road that bends the residence, extended to the mainstream of the Zhujiang River. It was an excellent location where various goods could be transported silently during dark hours. Placing businesses at the center, surrounded by boundary and defense lines on the outskirts, created a maze-like complex of chaotic alleys that could act as a vital point, constantly draining attackers’ blood during defensive battles.

Moreover, behind it was a dense thicket forming a diamond-shaped small hill. In case of emergency, this forest could serve as an escape route.

“With such a good location, there might be real ‘Black Children’s party’ gatherings, right?”

The current hideout of the Triad riffraff resembled the chaotic residences of Brazil’s Favelas, indicating the possibility of partial coexistence between the two forces. Similar to the precedent of the German and Soviet forces in Stalingrad during the chemical warfare era, separated by a wall, each unaware of the other’s presence.

Kyung-tae affirmed my words.

“Yes! We considered that possibility when making the decision.”

“That’s right….”

Tap, tap. When I gestured by tapping on the table, Suyeon resumed the briefing. From the middle onward, Kyung-tae took over.

After about 30 minutes of discussion following the briefing, the strike point was confirmed without changes. If there had been more time, we could have collected more information before taking action, but the unpredictable Gao Shusen, whose life still hung in the balance, was a problem.

‘As time goes on, the profitability of the hunt will decrease, and…’

Here, passing a quiet day would result in the disappearance of expected profits of at least several hundred billion. Depending on how tightly we squeeze the vein of the ungodly in this city, the future course of action would vary significantly.

On the other hand, the expiration of the validity period of the information we secured was also a problem. In an environment where everything was rapidly changing, how long would the existing information remain valid?

So, here, I had to rely on my adaptive skills and the abilities of my subordinates, heavily dependent on my own capabilities.

Those who seek to devour others must be prepared to be devoured themselves. Unlike the imperialists of the Round Table, I was not a fool who believed in the innate right to devour others left to me.

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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