Early the next day, Yohan gathered the recon team together.
“Blackie, say hello. That’s the leader.”
Yohan extended his hand out to Jung Hwan’s dog. The fast growing puppy panted and licked his hand.
“You’ve grown a lot in the past month.”
“Yeah. It was suffering from malnutrition. I think this breed usually grows up to be pretty big. After seeing its mom, I think it’ll be a big dog.”
“How’s the training?”
“It’s still a bit early, but it understands us pretty well, so I think it’ll get better over time.”
“I see.” Yohan didn’t have high expectations, but as long as the dog kept quiet when it needed to and could help find people, it would suffice.
As they waited for everyone to arrive, the recon team members played with Blackie. Sweeper waved at them as soon as he saw them. His hair was so long now that he had to tie it behind his head.
“Hey boss man, it’s been a while.”
“I guess so. Did everyone get enough rest and relaxation?”
The recon team members responded enthusiastically. Everyone was satisfied with their new homes, there was nothing to complain about. Unfortunately, Yohan came bearing bad news.
“The reason why I asked everyone to get together is because we’re going to resume recon expeditions,” Yohan announced. The recon team members had mixed reactions. Some looked like they were expecting it, some looked excited, while others looked nervous.
“Nice. I was going to say that I was getting bored.” Of course, there was one person who was always gung ho.
“What’s the reason for going out?” Ha Jin asked carefully. “I don’t think we really need to head out right now.”
“There’s no guarantee that we’ll enjoy this peaceful life forever. We need to keep sharp. If we discover any potential risks, we can get rid of it ahead of time. Additionally, we’ll need to get supplies before other people do,” Yohan replied curtly, but it was enough. Ha Jin nodded thoughtfully. There were probably still a lot of survivors around.
Of course, Ha Jin figured this out and was in agreement with Yohan’s plan. However, he was aware of his unique role in the group. Sweeper and Saeri were prone to just follow Yohan without thinking so he had to ask questions on behalf of the other members that weren’t confident enough to question Yohan’s orders. It also helped Yohan in that it forces him to think before leaping.
“You’re right, it’s best to farm loot as much as possible while we still can,” Sweeper remarked.
“We won’t be taking everyone. We can’t neglect the security of the island so only a small group will head out. The rest will stay and guard the island base.”
More people nodded this time. Yohan’s decisions seemed reasonable.
“These are the six people that will be participating in the Yeongjong island expedition.” Yohan looked at each member in turn as he called out their names. “Sweeper, Ha Jin, Saeri, Corporal Ong, Jung Hwan, and…”
These were the names that the recon team members were expecting to hear. They were the best with firearms. They already looked towards the final member that they were expecting to go out on the expedition.
“What?” Jae Ho blurted out. Everyone had been looking at Hyuk, who was also confused as to why Yohan hadn’t called out his name.
It was a mission where they didn’t know what kind of threats they would run into and when they would be back. It was the kind of mission where there was no way that Hyuk would be excluded. He had exceptional physical abilities and fighting prowess. Sure, he had recently stumbled with the cult situation, but Yohan had still included Hyuk in every important battle afterwards and Hyuk’s performance was strong.
‘Did I do something wrong?’ Hyuk had a somber look on his face.
“Hyuk will be in charge while I’m gone.”
“I’m leaving it to you.”
“One of the elites needs to stay behind. This is our last base, so it’s best to leave someone who will fight to save people no matter what. Besides, Jae Ho’s knowledge of this area will be a huge help while we’re exploring.” Yohan’s word brightened Hyuk’s mood within seconds. It wasn’t that Yohan didn’t trust him. In fact, it was the opposite.
“You’re the only female member, Miss Saeri.”
“What? Do you even see me as a woman, mister?”
“Hey, that’s not what I meant…”
Saeri responded to the comment with random accusations. Instantly, the heavy tension over the group lifted.
“We’ll leave in two hours. Take care of your personal affairs and gather at the docks. Jung Soo and Ji Won, go to the wellness center and get the military gear from Ji Hye.”
Two hours later, all the recon team members were gathered at the docks.
“Is this the supplies list?”
“That’s what the camp members requested. The recon team members are good at finding stuff, so I don’t think we need to worry. If we can also find a few more motorcycles along the way, it would be helpful.”
“We’ll bring everything back to the docks on the other side and then move them all at once.”
Yohan checked over all their gear and then started briefing everyone on the mission.
“The first thing we need to do is blockade Incheon bridge. Even though it’s a newly constructed bridge, it doesn’t have a subway under it like the Yeongjong bridge did, so we shouldn’t have any problems blowing it up using the same method as before.”
Yohan drew a circle on the map.
“After that, we’ll start looking for supplies in these hot spots. It’ll be difficult to get everything all at once, so we’ll need to see what’s available and what the situation is like.”
The recon team members listened carefully, silently nodding to themselves.
“Finally, we’ll keep an eye out for survivors. We’re not rescuing them, keep this in mind. If you encounter a dangerous group, get rid of them on the spot if possible. If it’s too too dangerous, stay hidden and retreat. That’s plan B.”
“Are we not clearing up the zombies?”
“Not really. If we bump into any, we’ll take them out of course. However, we won’t bother putting effort into cleaning up the city until we finish the other major tasks.” Yohan folded the map and put it into the thigh pocket of his cargo pants. He dusted off his hands. “I know this is basically me nagging at this point, but please keep it in mind. Don’t let down your guard or be overly anxious.”
“Of course, I’m hoping this won’t happen but, if we get split up and you get into a situation where you have to survive on your own, hide out for four days. Make sure no one is following you and then rally at Sindo. After that we’ll figure out what to do. Jung Hwan, are you going to take Blackie?”
“No, Ah Young is over there. Blackie, go to mom.” Jung Hwan placed his dog down. It wagged its tail as it ran quickly over to Ah Young. Even though he told him to go, Jung Hwan was a bit disappointed that Blackie left without hesitation. It was obvious that Blackie preferred Ah Young over Jung Hwan. Yohan clicked his tongue.
“Tsk, it might not even recognize its owner when you come back. Prepare for disappointment.”
The elite recon team immediately set out towards Incheon Bridge. They parked their fishing boat near the dock and got into a truck. Jae Ho chattered non-stop, excited to be included with the elites.
“It’s a lot of pressure. I’m happy that the leader recognized my worth, but I’m not sure if I’ll be a big help in a fight.”
“Don’t worry about it so much. If you’re nervous, train hard. You’re constantly writing in your journal, right?”
“Of course. I even have copies of all my notes stored away safely.”
“There are rumors that you’re building a library.”
Jae Ho scratched his head sheepishly. “I’m just gathering all the books on the island. Even though it was just an island village, there’s a lot of books. However, there aren’t any shelves, so I’ve been learning some woodworking. I don’t have any experience though.”
“Learning from Elder Park?”
“Yeah. As the saying goes: ‘Experience comes with age.’ Elder Park is really an amazing person.”
“The amount of eggs and goat milk that we get now is pretty consistent. No matter what kind of animal and seeds we find, he already knows how to take care of them. If we had more manpower, things would be even easier.”
“I also agree with that.”
“How about we get the people from Bupyeong? I think it’ll benefit us more than not.”
“It’s still too early. It’ll more likely backfire on us.”
“Is that so?”
Yohan ended the conversation here. If they continued, they wouldn’t be able to keep talking about it cheerfully. Typically, the people that he trusted didn’t think about this kind of stuff because it complicated things. Sweeper, Ha Jin, Jung Hwan, and especially Saeri couldn’t be bothered about this kind of stuff.
However, Jae Ho was different. Just talking with him, even though they were talking about the same thing, everything from Jae Ho’s choice of words to his perspective was a bit unusual. He would ask questions and repeat the answers aloud, as if he was trying to organize his thoughts. Yohan recalled listening as Jae Ho debated with Doctor Park Jae Bum on zombie behaviors and where zombies came from. He could tell that Jae Ho had a journalism background and not a scientific background. It was unfortunate.
‘It would be nice if we had a bio-engineering expert or an actual scientist.’
Having one would make it easier to figure out the source of the zombie crisis or at least get some clues. In either case, Jae Ho was still a unique talent. Just his initiative with starting a library made it clear that he was thinking about what was necessary for the new human race that survived the apocalypse. Every time they went on an expedition, he would bring back a few books. It was for this reason that Yohan decided to bring him along. Unlike others, who were only focused on surviving, Jae Ho was clearly thinking about the future of humanity.
“Yohan, I think we should walk from here on.” Jung Hwan stopped the truck and yelled back at him. The road ahead was blocked.
Sweeper hopped onto the hood of the truck and raised his binoculars to his eyes.
“There’s around 30 zombies on the bridge.”
“Sweeper and Ha Jin, break through the front. Jung Hwan and Jae Ho, grab the explosives and the drill. Corporal Ong, watch our backs. Saeri, protect Corporal Ong.” Yohan ordered.
Sweeper and Ha Jin immediately ran out. Sweeper was a perfect combination of strength, speed, and technique while Ha Jin was as strong as Yohan against a large group of zombies. The duo always worked well together. They killed zombies as if they were breezing through a co-op survival game. Yohan pulled out his crossbow and watched for anything unexpected.
Yohan was being unnecessarily cautious. He wasn’t really worried about their front or back. Corporal Ong was talented in long-range fights and Saeri was there to shore up his close-range weakness. This meant their rear was nearly impenetrable. Once they got to where they wanted to plant the explosives, Yohan sent Ha Jin back.
“It’ll be loud, so more zombies will be drawn here. Sweeper and Jung Hwan will block them in the front until we’re ready to set off the explosives. Ha Jin, go to the back and assist.”
Yohan and Jae Ho drilled holes into the bridge. Similar to what they did at Yeongjong bridge, they drilled parallel lines on both sides of the bridge. The explosion would collapse the steel plating and hopefully the bridge along with it. Since they already had practice with the other bridge, things went smoother and faster this time around.
“Sweeper, go help the back!”
With everything in order, they blew up the bridge. The steel plates fell and the desired result occurred without a hitch. The land route from the Korean peninsula to Yeongjong island was now completely cut off. Even if a zombie wave occurred, zombies would just be marching to their deaths.
“Great work. Let’s move.”
— Ω —