“We’ll take them with us.”
“I see. And what’s your rationale?”
“Their talents would go to waste otherwise.”
Skilled combatants, a doctor, helicopter pilot, and enough supplies for five people to last a year. Aside from the nun, they could all become core members in any organization. Just the fact that the five of them managed to survive this long without much trouble showed that they wouldn’t drag them down. And maybe, just maybe, if Paulina really could see the future, then she would be invaluable. She would be worth more than someone from another timeline who only had limited knowledge of the past. She could be a golden goose.
‘Although, that Pio kid does have a temper.’
If they could become allies without any issues, their group will grow in power. With his decision made, Yohan exited the chapel and went to Paulina.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” The nun asked.
“Then can I ask you what we will be doing from now on?”
“Join us. Come to our island. I will still be the leader. If you don’t follow my orders during a battle and put our comrades in danger, then I might have to kill you.”
“Okay.” Paulina responded immediately, as if she knew what he was going to say. It was one surprise after another with these people. Paulina’s response was somewhat obvious, but her four companions didn’t even react to Yohan’s words. It meant that they had already discussed this scenario beforehand.
‘She really just might be telling the truth about her powers.’ Yohan made a mental note to treat their new members well. There was no need to purposefully antagonize potential core members.
“Lina, right? You’ll be with us in the recon team.”
“Wait, what did you say?” Pio objected.
“Didn’t you agree to follow our rules? This is our way. Whenever a new group joins, at least one person will be added to the recon team.”
“Lina doesn’t know how to fight!”
“Then she will learn.”
“Then…take me. Sending Lina by herself is unacceptable.”
“No way!” Verda also joined the conversation. Yohan’s ears hurt from the noise the two were making with their complaints. He looked over to Paulina.
“I’m sorry, but it’s true that I will only hold you back. I don’t think anything I say will convince them…”
“I’ll accept one more person on the recon team. Which one of you will it be?”
The two combatants raised their hands at the same time. Yohan threw his hands up in the air. He was done with them.
“You two figure it out on your own. Everyone, make sure they’re unarmed and then take a break. Ms. Nun, let’s have a chat.”
Yohan walked ahead. Paulina followed behind him with a happy smile. She had been smiling throughout the entire encounter. Yohan went into the chapel office and sat down on a chair and crossed his legs.
“Let’s continue our conversation from earlier, regarding the zombies and the mutant zombie. Do you have any more information?”
“I’m sorry…it’s been a while and it’s difficult to remember the details of a dream.”
“Anything is fine. What did the mutant look like?”
“It looked like a shark. Its jaw jutted out just like a fish and…oh, its claws were extremely sharp. It had superhuman strength too.”
Shark mouth. Yohan had never seen a mutant like that before, but Paulina’s description matched the pattern of mutants. They typically were mostly human with a few specific body parts being modified. Paulina saw that Yohan didn’t question her information and felt a bit more confident.
“Will guns work against it?”
“No.” Paulina said firmly. Yohan nodded his head.
“When will they attack?”
“…I’m not sure.”
“Try to remember. Anything will do. What was I wearing? How rotten were the zombies? Were their crops in the fields? Was it after harvest seasons? What was the weather? Were their leaves on the trees?” Yohan made rapid fire suggestions to try and help the nun figure out the timing of the invasion. However, the only thing he managed to do was to make her feel uncomfortable to the point where she looked ready to cry. Yohan realized that he was being a bit impatient. He took a deep breath and tried to speak calmly.
“Let’s answer them one at a time. If you’re not sure, just tell me. Inaccurate information will only make things confusing.”
“Okay, got it.” Paulina gave Yohan a shy smile. The bright blue color of her iris was eye-catching. Yohan stared a bit harder than he intended and the nun had to close her eyes to focus. She reached deep into her memories and slowly opened her mouth to speak.
“I’m not sure about the time, but…the field…I think harvest season had passed. I think…it was during the winter. No, it was definitely winter. You were all wearing thick clothes, coats and jackets.”
If it was after harvest season and they were wearing thick coats, then it was probably around December or January. There was still more than three months.
“The zombies…I’m not sure. I didn’t really want to look at them that much.”
“What about their condition? Did they look swollen?” Yohan asked, thinking that the zombies might have washed ashore.
“Oh, yes some of them…but not all of them. This I’m sure of. Most of them were ordinary zombies. Oh, their clothing was a bit weird.”
“Weird in what way?”
“It looked sort of…tacky? Foreign?”
“Good. Anything else you can remember?”
Paulina grabbed her head. She tried as hard as she could, but couldn’t recall anything else. Her brow was deeply furrowed. Yohan stopped her.
“So there’s a possibility that you might have these dreams again, right?”
“Is there anything in particular that triggers it?”
“No. If there is something that god wants me to know…if something important was going to happen, he would let me know.” Paulina’s talk of god made Yohan feel awkward. He shifted in his seat as if he was sitting on a rock. In the end, he just stood up, deciding that this was enough. He had already organized a plan in his head and had decided to take in Paulina’s group.
“If I have any more questions, I’ll come talk to you again.”
“Okay, any time.”
Yohan exited the chapel and noticed that there was some sort of commotion. Everyone had gathered in one place and was watching something.
“What are you doing?” Yohan asked his recon team members. Finally he could see Verda and Pio in the middle of the crowd. The way they circled around each other reminded him of a mixed martial arts fight. It looked like they were sparring. Sweeper had a big goofy smile on his face as he watched the bout with interest. He was sharing a cigarette with Luca, the helicopter pilot.
‘Did they become friends already?’
“Yohan, look at that kid. The way he moves is impressive.”
They had confidently called themselves core combat members for a reason. The way they moved was on a whole different level. Every time Verda swung her wooden stick at Pio, he would do a backflip, twisting his body in the air sharply to avoid the attack. The way Pio was dodging was impressive indeed, but Verda’s skill with the stick was just as impressive. She threw out multiple attacks all aimed at vital points, such as the solar plexus. There was so much force behind the strike that anyone that got hit would pass out immediately and might even die.
“He’s pretty amazing despite his age.”
“Lina’s father was very strict and he didn’t trust adult men, so all of her bodyguards were either boys or females.”
‘Excellent…’ Yohan was reminded of Sweeper as he watched Pio’s movements.
At the end of the deadly tango, Pio had the last laugh. He managed to grab hold of Verda’s stick in the air and pulled her towards him. He wrapped his legs around her neck and brought her down to the ground. Verda struggled for a moment, but tapped out when she felt herself losing consciousness.
“Whew, see Verda? You’re still no match for me.” Pio looked down at Verda with a triumphant look on his face. Verda scowled, but Pio had already turned to Yohan.
“With that, I’ll take the role of Lina’s guard!”
‘So he caused a commotion just for this?’
“It’s a recon team, not a protection squad kid. If you keep making trouble because of your emotions, I’ll kick you out.” Yohan said, firmly. Pio’s shoulders sagged as he turned to speak to Jung Hwan, who was the closest recon team member.
“Do people often tell him that he’s stubborn?”
“Well, if he actually paid attention, I’m sure his ears would be bleeding from how often we say it. Hey, little bodyguard, why are you talking to me so casually?”
“If you don’t like it, you can do the same to me. I don’t respect those who are weaker than me.”
Sweeper chuckled as Jung Hwan’s face turned red. He quickly lost it and ended up rolling on the floor, laughing his ass off.
“Oh man, I can’t let this happen. Hey kid, only I can make fun of Jung Hwan. I’ll get jealous if you start taking my job.”
“So I’ll teach you a lesson. Is that okay, boss man?” Sweeper dusted himself off as he stood back up. Yohan could tell that he was fired up after watching the sparring match earlier.
“Just don’t kill him.”
“Of course. I’m not crazy violent like you, boss man.”
“Try not to make him bleed either.”
Pio overheard their conversation and his face flushed with anger, thinking that they were looking down on him. Sweeper ignored him and decided to raise the stakes.
“If you win, you can do whatever you want. If I win, you’ll do what we say and recognize our rankings. How about it? And since we’re on different levels, I’ll give you a handicap. How about it? I’m pretty nice, right?”
“I don’t need a handicap. No thanks.” Pio’s bold answer made Sweeper laugh again. He had been laughing so hard that he was actually having a hard time breathing.
“Come at me kid. I’ll show you what real training is.”
“Stop calling me kid!” Pio yelled. In spite of his skills, Pio had a small body. He might have been sensitive about it.
He ran at Sweeper. He was fast. Sweeper was taller than him, so Pio decided to utilize his speed. However, not only were they in different weight classes, Pio was also disadvantaged by the lack of data. Sweeper got to watch Pio fight once while Pio didn’t know anything about Sweeper’s fighting style.
‘This kid…’ Even Yohan had to chuckle.
Sweeper dipped and dodged all of Pio’s attacks. Even though he saw an opening, he did not bother to attack back. This was the handicap that Sweeper wanted to give Pio. He was going to give him a chance to get used to his movement. Meanwhile, Sweeper looked like he was going easy on the young man and was just having fun.
“Eek!” Sweeper got out of the way as Pio tried to wrap his legs around his neck, just like he did to Verda. It looked like he was getting pushed back, but, aside from Yohan, Ha Jin, and maybe Hyuk, there wasn’t any one that could challenge Sweeper in close quarters.
‘Of course, it would be different if he had a knife or something.’
Finally, Sweeper felt like he had shown enough and started to fight back. Pio backflipped away and threw a roundhouse kick, but Sweeper grabbed his leg. Pio responded instantly by kicking with his other leg, but Sweeper grabbed that leg too. He flipped Pio in the air and intercepted the young man’s head with his own in a cataclysmic headbutt.
“A dog fight. Amazing.” Yohan muttered, with sincere admiration. Ha Jin simply shrugged.
Sweeper was still holding onto Pio and spun him in the air again, this time throwing him across the battleground. Pio somersaulted in the air once and landed on his feet. He immediately kicked off the ground and ran towards Sweeper. However, he flinched and stumbled a bit as soon as he saw Sweeper charge at him at lightning speed. It was like looking at a rampaging banshee. Pio felt goosebumps all over his body.
“How is he so f—” Before Pio could complete his thought, Sweeper’s huge hand slapped him soundly across the face. The sound of the impact echoed across the mountainside. Pio flew off his feet and hit his head against a tree. He slumped to the ground, unconscious.
“A—are you a monster?” Verda gaped. The recon team members could only shrug and mumble something about being a bad match up.
— Ω —