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Chapter 109

I'm an Infinite Regressor, But I've Got Stories to Tell

WE TRIED TRANSLATIONS


Translator/Editor: Ryuu

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◈ I'm an Infinite Regressor, But I've Got Stories to Tell




Chapter 109

──────

One Who Was a Companion I



Among the powers I had awakened, if I were to choose the most fundamental one, it would undoubtedly be the Time Seal.


This skill was the foundation for my alias as the "Undertaker" and also the very first skill I awakened.


However, the most routinely useful skill, the one I employed as naturally as breathing, was undeniably the Complete Memory.


Without this skill, how could I have possibly recounted thousands of years of tales to you all?


But, in truth, even Complete Memory didn’t guarantee perfect recall of everything 100%.


There was a mere 0.01% of my long life as a regressor where a portion was left blank, as if forcibly deleted data.


So today, I want to talk about the 'Incomplete Memory' aspect of my ability.


This is the story of the 173rd run.






One day, the Saintess said.


[Mr. Undertaker.]


“Yes.”


[I might have been holding a prejudice against the Constellations all this time. Shouldn't we consider revamping their image to be more approachable and kind?]


“Ah, sure. Do as you see fit.”


[Last night, I suddenly had a great idea.]


Perhaps those of you with extraordinary memories will find the following conversation familiar:


[Hello, hello! Greetings to all the awakeners of the Korean Peninsula! Nice to meet you, meow!]


[I am the Constellation who will be constantly watching over you from now on, the Saintess of National Salvation, meow!]


[Meow! Please take good care of me, meow!]


“…….”


Yes.


In the 173rd cycle, I deliberately did not subdue the "Butterfly Effect".


The flapping wings that began in Beijing moved not to America or Brazil, but to the neighboring country of South Korea, and wreaked havoc on the mental world of the Saintess, a guardian spirit of the peninsula.


“Saintess.”


[Meow?]


“That’s not it. Please stop……”


[Okay.]


The Saintess’s deviation was quelled, leaving countless ‘?’ on SG Net.


In any case, the Butterfly Effect caused such random, unprecedented events that could not have been seen in previous runs.


In creating an "unpredictable future for the regressor," the Butterfly Effect might have been my greatest adversary. Yet, conversely, it was also a gracious oddity that generated "new events that one could never tire of."


After all, one doesn’t get to hear the Saintess’s meowing tone all the time, do they?


I created a folder named "173rd Run - Saintess’s Cat-Constellation Transformation" on the desktop of my mind, saved the recording, and returned to my routine.


A regressor’s schedule is strictly defined. This period was just the 7th month since the start of the run, so I was quite busy with various tasks.


From subduing the World Tree Udumbara in Onyang, Asan, to proposing the establishment of the National Road Management Corps during my first meeting with Noh Do-hwa at a rehabilitation hospital.


But Noh Do-hwa was dead.


“…….”


The location was the National Hospital, which also served as a rehabilitation center.


Hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets were the most likely to be raided in an apocalypse. As a public institution with weak security, the rehabilitation hospital was seen as easy prey for looters.


The National Hospital, while not boasting significantly better services than private hospitals, provided reasonably cost-effective care to patients, thanks to government subsidies.


Its ratings were good. The high ratings could be attributed in part to Noh Do-hwa’s craftsmanship as a prosthetics maker in the hospital's assistive device center.


Noh Do-hwa's corpse was sprawled at the entrance to the inpatient ward, far from her usual workplace in the assistive device center.


If it had been just a looter attack, the damage wouldn’t have been so severe. This was still early in the apocalypse, and looters, no matter how ruthless, were not yet desensitized to killing.


The looter attack coincided with the emergence of anomalies. When the hospital began to collapse, Noh Do-hwa had left her usual post and ran to the inpatient ward. And there, she died.


The attack seemed to have occurred just a day prior. The bloodstains on Noh Do-hwa's favorite white coat hadn’t yet lost their crimson hue.


“Why…….”


I muttered, swallowing my words.


This was the first time. Never before in the early stages of a run had Noh Do-hwa died.


Therefore, it was immediately apparent what had caused such an outcome.


The Butterfly Effect.


When left unsuppressed, this anomaly deviated from the usual causal loop, generating random variables. One of those variables had somehow caused the looter and anomaly attacks.


As a result, Noh Do-hwa was dead.


Leaving the Butterfly Effect unchecked could lead to such routes being observed.


“…The gift has become useless, Noh Do-hwa.”


I sat next to her corpse, leaning against the wall, and placed the gift box from China beside me.


Pu'er tea, Bingdao Laozhai, first flush. A luxury item worth around 20 million won.


It wasn’t fake. I had used my knowledge and connections as a regressor to obtain the genuine article. Every run, I presented this to Noh Do-hwa, who preferred tea over coffee.


Noh Do-hwa rarely opened up to others. But upon receiving this gift, she would furrow her brows and say, ‘…Well, where should we start the conversation?’ leaving room for dialogue.


Like this:


-Haah? A regressor? Excuse me. Are you seriously asking me to believe such nonsensical rubbish……?


-There is plenty of evidence. We’ve had this conversation countless times. That’s why you created the [If they know this much, I have no choice but to believe! ‘I believe, you are indeed a regressor’ 100 Questions List].


-What kind of bullshit…….


-I’m not a prophet, nor am I from the National Intelligence Service. Before that, let me convey the words from the previous Noh Do-hwa of the former runs to the current Noh Do-hwa.


-What is it……?


-Do you enjoy reaping the sweet benefits?


-Huh……?


-The material I just handed over contains not only the question list but also records of failures from previous runs. In other words, the current Noh Do-hwa is in a far more advantageous position than the Noh Do-hwa of previous runs. Hence, the former Noh Do-hwas are pointing this out. Do you enjoy reaping the sweet benefits?


-……


-By the way, the phrase ‘fucking bastard’ is also included after this sentence.


-Bullshit.


After conversing all night like this, Noh Do-hwa would accept her role as the leader of the National Road Management Corps.


But today, such a conversation wasn’t possible.


-Undertaker……


-Yes?


-Your profession is to conduct funerals, right? If I die, please don’t bury me. Ah. This isn’t just a request for this run, but for all time to come……


-It’s not difficult, but why don’t you want me to conduct your funeral?


-Hah, I don’t want you embalming me……. Just leave my corpse where it is. Don’t look at it. Don’t inspect it. Don’t even bid farewell. Do you understand……?


-Sure.


-We’ll meet again anyway. Just tell me why I died when that time comes……


I sat next to her corpse, not even glancing at her dead face, merely looking up at the hospital corridor.


For a while.


“…See you next time, Do-hwa.”


There was no response.


But I would carry this scene and memory into the next run. Then, Noh Do-hwa would undoubtedly react with her characteristic “Hmmm” and that distinctive laugh.


Imagining that scene made me smile a little.


I left the gift and exited the hospital.


Afterwards, with the Saintess's cooperation, I tracked down and exterminated the looters who had attacked the hospital. It might not be of much significance, but the looters operated in loosely organized cells reminiscent of the 72 Bandits of the Green Forest from wuxia stories, and one of their groups included Lee Baek.


This was proof that people don’t change easily.


After uprooting the large looter group that was just starting to establish itself domestically, I crossed over to Beijing to eliminate the Butterfly Effect.


[That person seemed important to you, Mr. Undertaker.]


“Yeah. Though she must have been quite fed up with me.”


[……]


From then on, the Saintess and I never mentioned Noh Do-hwa again. We continued the 173rd run as if nothing had happened.


And to add, the idea of committing suicide to start a new run didn’t cross my mind.


Living diligently despite Noh Do-hwa’s disappearance was my own form of funeral and tribute to her death.


Taking advantage of such variables, I would actively gather data that couldn’t normally be collected.


So that in the next run, I could make Noh Do-hwa say, "Hmmm, well, at least my pointless death had some merit…."


That was the reason.


The reason I decided to explore a more radical path in the 173rd run.






“National Road Management Corps?”


Dang Seo-rin tilted her head.


“So, you want to create such an organization, and you want me to lead it?”


“Exactly.”


Noh Do-hwa was the top candidate to lead the National Road Management Corps. And having a first choice naturally implied there was a second choice.


As expected, my second choice was always Dang Seo-rin.


“Hmm……. There are many things I want to ask, but let’s start with this.”


“Feel free.”


“Why me?”


It was a straightforward question.


There were numerous reasons why Dang Seo-rin was suitable for the position of National Road Management Corps leader.


“I anticipated your question and prepared some materials.”


“Huh? Materials?”


“Yes. Please take a look at this PPT.”


“…Oh no, I suddenly have a very bad feeling that I’ve asked something I shouldn’t have.”


Leadership:

Dang Seo-rin had already elevated Samcheon to the most powerful guild on the Korean Peninsula across countless cycles.


Not only that, she had magnificently governed the city of Busan, which had become the de facto capital after Seoul’s fall.


While other guild leaders relied on AI judges, Dang Seo-rin used the ‘Equivalent Exchange’ magic to govern Busan’s judiciary in her own way. Her guild members and the citizens of Busan accepted this method.


In terms of leadership, there was no one who could rival Dang Seo-rin.


Noblesse Oblige: 

When some guild leaders were busy establishing their own kingdoms within the cities they occupied, Dang Seo-rin threw herself into the battlefield without hesitation. She went to the front lines to fight against anomalies.


Ten Legs. Udumbara. Meteor Shower. Each time these powerful anomalies swept through the Korean Peninsula, Dang Seo-rin sang her magical songs on the battlefield, literally at the cost of her lifespan.


Dedication to the public good.


The ability to turn dedication into results.


The charisma to gather supporters and establish authority by packaging and spreading those results.


Dang Seo-rin possessed these extremely rare and valuable qualities.


As previously mentioned, in this apocalyptic era, there was a bizarre trend called ‘Awakener Supremacy’.


Like Noh Do-hwa, I always referred to awakeners simply as ‘awakeners.’ But there were many who called the same beings ‘transcenders’ or ‘ascendants.’


Dang Seo-rin didn’t attach her identity to such wordplay. She just bore endless responsibility along with her immense power.


There was no one more qualified than Dang Seo-rin for the position of the National Road Management Corps leader, who must not only unite the awakeners but also consider all the humans on the Korean Peninsula.


Personal Charm:

In addition to the charisma required for leading a group, even in one-on-one situations, Dang Seo-rin was……


“Wait, wait! Stop! Stoooop!”


“Hmm?”


In the middle of my enthusiastic presentation on the "101 Reasons Why You Should Lead the National Road Management Corps," Dang Seo-rin waved her hands in a frenzy.


“Undertaker, that’s enough! I get it! Please stop! I beg you!”


“Why? I haven’t finished yet.”


“I said stop! Are you trying to kill me by making me die of embarrassment? Seriously, you’re crazy!”


Judging by the fact that Dang Seo-rin usually carried a pointy hat and a witch's broom, one could deduce that the part of her brain responsible for feelings of embarrassment or shame had atrophied.


However, if you bombarded her with compliments in a non-magical, non-witchy, non-singing context, it would cause her brain to panic, much like overworked leg muscles shaking after a strenuous squat.


And during such times, unreasonable demands often worked very well.


“Alright. So, can I take that as you accepting the role of the National Road Management Corps leader?”


“Yes! I’ll take it. I’ll take it, so shut up before someone hears you!”


See? This is the technique of a former Dang Seo-rin secretary.


Thus, Dang Seo-rin’s Samcheon Guild merged with the National Road Management Corps. Or rather, it evolved into the National Road Management Corps from now on.


The process was smooth.


There were few concerns about the concentration of too much power in Samcheon, which was just a guild. Dang Seo-rin’s reputation had the power to turn concerns into expectations.


If you ask why I hadn’t assigned the role to Dang Seo-rin in previous runs despite its simplicity――besides minor excuses, the core reason was just one.


-If possible, don't tell the next version of me that you're a regressor.


I couldn’t confess to Dang Seo-rin that I was a regressor.


Because of her own will.


In the run where we first succeeded in subduing Ten Legs, the 10th run where I revealed I was a regressor, Dang Seo-rin had imposed a binding curse on me.


-I’m a greedy and impulsive person. I can never think like, ‘I’ll give up this run for the sake of the next one.’


-If I know that I have hundreds of years of lifespan left, I’ll definitely use it all up for the current run.


-Until the very final crisis, make sure my lifespan is saved.


I kept that promise.


From the 10th run to the 173rd, I never once disclosed my secret to Dang Seo-rin.


And this meant that, unlike Noh Do-hwa or the Saintess, Dang Seo-rin could never join our regression alliance.


While I could share the information I gained from regression with Noh Do-hwa without reservation, with Dang Seo-rin, I always needed a bit of packaging and acting… in other words, a lie.


A lie. Something I would never do to Dang Seo-rin under normal circumstances.


But in the 173rd run, the shocking early departure of Noh Do-hwa made me resolve to experiment with the IF route of [What if Dang Seo-rin led the National Road Management Corps?].


Unsurprisingly.


In this newly explored route, Dang Seo-rin showcased her talents to the fullest.


“Undertaker. You know that Equivalent Exchange magic you helped develop? I was thinking yesterday, this magic has limitless potential for use.”


“Yes. When sending National Road Management Corps members on patrol to other regions, always include one who has participated in the Ten Legs subjugation. That way, if they get into a fight with another guild, we can smooth things over by saying we’re all comrades, right?”


“Hmm- The AI judge that guild lLeader Chun Yo-hwa provided is convenient, but sometimes people are dissatisfied with the AI’s verdict. So, I think the final judgment should be made here at the Busan National Road Management Corps headquarters……”


My judgment was not wrong.


Though aided by the data Noh Do-hwa had accumulated and my advice, Dang Seo-rin led the National Road Management Corps with astounding speed, as if it were natural.


And it wasn’t long before she came up with ideas that neither Noh Do-hwa nor I had considered.


“Hey, Undertaker.”


“Hmm?”


“Isn’t it possible to record the songs I perform with my Cursed Song Incantation and play them softly throughout the city all the time? For example… developing magic that makes people feel a bit happier.”


That was the beginning.




Footnotes:





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