“Remember the weird footprints we found in the mountains? We searched everywhere, but couldn’t find anything that had similar footprints. Maybe…” Yohan paused to think for a moment. “Maybe there is a mutant that can move back and forth between islands.”
Several people in the room gulped.
“Don’t let your guards down. Don’t get distracted and do your patrols properly. Always keep your walkie-talkie on you.”
Yohan decided to not bother talking about ordinary zombies in the zombie wave. It was something that he couldn’t explain with his current knowledge. It wasn’t like they would rain down from the sky or rise up from the ocean. It was common for zombies to wash up on shore, but to have that many zombies randomly float their way here was unreasonable. Yohan wished that he could ask for a hint.
“First, let’s worry about the upcoming harvest and winter. The mutant zombie will come some time in the middle of winter.
Yohan’s primary goal was still the same, clear and simple. Survival. Everything else paled in comparison.
* * *
No matter how prepared they were, every situation had variables. It was not uncommon for a few unexpected things to happen. However, the variable that occurred this time was truly unexpected.
The recon team members looked out with serious expressions on their faces as soon as they heard the sound of a boat travelling on the open waters. They had decided not to get involved with the military, but that decision fell apart in four days after the boat appeared. Like an uninvited guest, a naval warship appeared out of nowhere. Its passengers had managed to survive the past eight months by staying out at sea, but now they were heading to their camp at Sindo.
It was a sizable ship, large enough to carry at least a hundred passengers. There were impressive and vicious looking cannons installed on the main deck. The ship was slowly, but surely, approaching them. The pace was almost deliberate, as if it was trying to show off that its power was on a whole different scale. As always, it was uncomfortable to deal with the military during the apocalypse.
‘There’s no choice but to greet them.’ Yohan was prepared to meet the ship’s passengers when they dock. They couldn’t run or hide their presence on the island. However, they could prepare for a possible battle.
“Go to the situation room and tell all non-combatants to evacuate to the shelter.”
“Corporal Ong, take position and stand by.”
“Jung Hwan and Ji Won, head over to the weapons and ammunition warehouse and guard it. If you hear gunshots, you can kill all soldiers that approach it.”
“Yohan…” Hyuk looked like a dog that had lost its owner. He was clearly worried about the upcoming encounter with soldiers.
“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not hoping for a fight.”
However, Yohan’s survival instincts were rarely wrong. Humans, especially soldiers, were really spiteful and persistent. Despite the fact that the chain of command had broken down and they had no supply chain, these people had managed to survive. If it was a base, they would only be able to survive until now if they had special forces stationed there.
If the base wasn’t located in an area free of zombies, they would have had to fight off at least two zombie waves in the past eight months. If they survived that, the commander and soldiers must be very talented. Rather than relieved, the people of these bases made Yohan anxious. They were an armed group without high command. They were like a ticking time bomb that you didn’t know when it would go off.
Yohan kept a calm expression on his face as he watched the ship prepare to dock. He didn’t know much about the navy, but Jae Ho, who was standing next to him, knew quite a bit.
“It’s an Incheon-class Frigate. It’s a warship that can carry anywhere from 60-120 people. It’s a warship that typically performs fleet naval operations along the coast and in the ocean…however, it’s a bit weird that a frigate is on its own. This isn’t a naval base. There’s no reason for them to come this way.”
“Well, I’m sure they have their reasons.”
“All the naval land bases have probably been destroyed. If the commander was a little bit smart, then they might have realized that jumping from island to island to gather supplies was safer than returning to a naval base.”
“Then they’re a competent commander.”
“Yes. If not that, then there’s no good reason for a warship to come this way.”
Yohan started thinking up combat scenarios in his head, in case there was a battle. If there really were 100 soldiers, then the odds of them winning were slim. If the cannons were operational, it would be impossible to deny their landing. The situation wasn’t great.
Yohan knew that it was extremely unlikely that the soldiers were here to rescue them. He had already dismissed that notion. The government and military fell apart a long time ago. It collapsed at the top, rather than the bottom, so armed forces were still around. These people were no doubt a powerful force; they probably were around mid rank when the military was still functioning. Yohan just had to pay attention and determine quickly if they were a friendly support group or a gang with evil intentions. The camp members had serious expressions on their faces as they watched beside him.
“Loosen up. Don’t try to intimidate them.”
“What’s the plan, boss man?”
“I’ll watch the situation for now. It’s best to avoid fighting as much as possible.”
Even if the worst case scenario occurred, it was important not to lose any of their camp members. Of course, the fact that this encounter occurred before harvest time was regrettable. The timing was so terrible that Yohan felt like he had a stomachache.
Soon, the warship was upon them. There was a loud clanging sound coming from the ship that made everyone cover their ears. The bell was accompanied by a voice coming out from giant speakers installed on the ship.
— “15 minutes to landing! In 20 minutes, Captain Jin Joo Ha will come down!”
The speaker announced that the captain of the ship was coming down. Yohan was surprised that they were still following naval protocols. They were so dedicated to the sailor’s way of life that it was funny. One by one, sailors stepped off and lined up by the docks. Within 20 minutes, a man wearing an officer’s uniform stepped out of the warship.
“Let’s go.” Yohan led his group to where the sailors had landed. Their encounter was inevitable at this point.
Some of the sailors spotted them and whispered to their commander, Jin Joo Ha. Yohan braced himself for an uncomfortable meeting and conversation. Jin Joo Ha was a captain of the navy. He was probably one of the last remaining officers now. His rank was equivalent to a brigadier general in the army. In either timeline, this was Yohan’s first time meeting an actual commander. Prior to this, the highest ranked officer he met was Lieutenant Ahn Joon Young, who was a squadron leader.
The first thing Yohan did was assess the status of their armaments. The captain was well protected, but the other sailors didn’t have much. The captain had a pistol in a holster by his hip. There were some sailors that looked like guard or maritime police officers and they were armed with K-2 rifles. The majority of the other soldiers were completely unarmed.
Yohan bowed his head slightly to greet the captain before looking up to the main deck of the ship. There were still people onboard. If a fight broke out, it was still possible that the artillery could still rain fire on their island.
Captain Jin looked the group up and down, as if sizing up a cow. There was tension in the air. The captain’s first words to them were important. They would reveal a lot about his character. If he introduced himself simply, then he would be easy to talk to.
‘That’s all I can ask for.’
“Hm…” The captain opened his mouth. “Why are ordinary people armed with guns?”
‘Damnit. What a shitty situation.’
The captain was a typical, conservative, idiotic commander. Yohan discreetly bit the inside of his lips and smiled as brightly as possible.
“Hello. My name is Lee Yohan. I am the leader of the Sindo survivors.”
“I’m the Baengnyeong Warship captain, Captain Jin Joo Ha. We encountered an unexpected situation during a special coastal operation and had to land.”
“I see. Captain Jin Joo Ha…”
“I’ll ask again. Why are ordinary people armed with guns?”
‘I hope you’re asking because you really don’t know, you idiot.’
Despite his inner monologue, Yohan’s smile was perfect. He decided to bounce the question back at the captain.
“Do you happen to know the current situation in the world, captain?”
If the captain said that he was aware of the current situation, then Yohan would ask why he would ask such a question. If the captain wasn’t aware, then Yohan would ask how such a high ranking officer could not have known. The captain seemed to realize that there was no good answer. He had a tense look on his face as he ignored the question.
“I’m requesting that you unarm yourselves. We’ll be taking back the weapons that rightfully belong to the Armed Forces.”
“We’ll unarm ourselves, captain. However, transferring the weapons is out of the question.”
The captain’s questioning expression became one of complete displeasure. Some of the sailors started moving their hands towards their pistols and the tension between the groups increased. Captain Jin waved his hand, signalling his men to calm down. However, before he could say anything, Yohan spoke first.
“As you know, Korea’s military and police forces are now impotent. They’re unable to protect the citizens of Korea. We’ve managed to survive on our own this far and we’re going to keep doing that. We cannot hand over our lifelines, which guarantee our safety, to some navy men who should be leaving this island.”
Not only did Yohan denied their request to hand over their weapons, but he also strongly hinted that they should leave as soon as possible. As a captain that had managed to survive this long with this many sailors, he no doubt understood what Yohan was saying. The captain tried to maintain a calm expression, but Yohan could see his face turning red and the muscles around his eye twitch. It was a sight to see.
‘I’ll bite if you mess with me.’ Yohan didn’t say it aloud, but he didn’t need to. This was the vibe that he was giving off. If they wanted to oppress them and take their weapons, then they were prepared to fight to the bitter end. Captain Jin backed off. It was the right decision. Still, Yohan had to keep his eye on them.
“Pardon me, but could you tell me why you’ve landed on this island?”
“You’re asking for military secrets like it’s nothing,” the captain replied, with a scowl. He turned around and started giving orders to his sailors. Watching the interaction, Yohan could tell that the captain was definitely used to leading.
‘They’re out of food.’
It was obvious why they had landed here, just looking at the sailors’ faces. Yohan didn’t know how they managed to survive this long, but, by now, they were probably running low on food, drinking water, and fuel.
“Anyways, we’re planning on using this area for now. I’m asking for your cooperation.”
“…Sure. I can do that.”
‘As long as you don’t try to steal our supplies or threaten us.’
“Sweeper.” Yohan called out and Sweeper stepped up. Yohan lowered his voice to a whisper. “Tell the camp members to put away their rifles, but keep a pistol hidden inside their clothes. Tighten up the security around the ammunition and supplies warehouse. You guard it for a while.”
“What if an unavoidable situation comes up?”
Yohan wasn’t planning on attacking them if they behaved and left quietly. However, if they do mess with him, he would fight back tooth and nail and shred them to pieces until nothing was left.
— Ω —