“That bastard…” Sweeper swore. No one else was able to speak easily in the somber atmosphere they were experiencing. No one had expected this.
Jung Hwan was dead. He died. In vain. It was everything Yohan had warned them about. By the time Yohan and the other combatants who heard Jung Hwan’s report arrived, they were already too late.
Ah Young was missing both her legs and was in the process of turning into a zombie. Jung Hwan’s corpse was lying in the middle of the room with his head missing. The entire house was splattered with blood and a strange scent lingered in the air. The mutant was nowhere to be seen.
“Everyone to the shelter…” Yohan said. His voice was shaky and his body was trembling. This was a completely unexpected turn of events.
Even though Yohan gave an order, no one moved. Jung Hwan’s death was that shocking. Ever since Yohan arrived at the mall camp, Jung Hwan had been a part of the core team. He had fought alongside everyone in many battles and they had experienced several life and death situations together. Yohan couldn’t accept his death so easily.
“Yohan, pull yourself together.”
Yohan could feel his heart aching. He had thought that he had become numb to death, even if it was his comrades, but clearly this wasn’t the case. He had come to care for others and now his regrets were threatening to swallow him whole. It was at the point where he was mad at the injustice before him.
It was foolish. They were living in a post-apocalyptic world where it wasn’t strange for people to die for no reason. However, he had been secretly harboring the thought that ‘There’s no way that someone in my group would die.’ Whether it was Sweeper, Ha Jin, or himself, he had been starting to believe that they could avoid a sudden death.
“Yohan!” Ha Jin grabbed Yohan by the shoulders and shook him, pulling him out of his stupor. “I know it’s hard, but you can’t break down now. The mutant is still around here somewhere.”
Yohan slapped his own cheeks and cleared his mind. Though his voice was still shaky, he started barking out orders with more authority.
“No one is allowed to move on their own. Always stick to your squads. Squad three and four go to the situation room right now and use the PA system to tell all the camp members to go to the shelter. Squad one and two will hunt down the mutant.”
“Yes sir!” the combat members replied loudly. They weren’t going to let sadness or fear pull them down. Their replies carried with them their burning enthusiasm for revenge.
“Wait Yohan. Wasn’t the mutant supposed to bring along a lot of normal zombies with it when it appeared?” Jae Ho asked. Yohan felt like someone had just splashed him with a bucket of cold water.
The Shark was a mutant that they shouldn’t fight directly. The two people that had encountered it were already dead. Out of all the mutants that they had fought, it was at the top of the list. It had an iron defense and was able to attack and retreat in an instant. Aside from the fact that it was moving on its own, it had no weaknesses that they could exploit.
‘Did my feelings turn off my brains?’
Based on Lina’s visions, they knew that this mutant came with a zombie wave. However, if that was true, then they should have seen signs of that by now. Yohan had failed to notice this crucial detail. He had originally questioned how zombies would be able to make it onto the island and decided to focus on the mutant. Since Lina’s vision of the mutant—from its appearance to its abilities—came true, the rest of the vision should be true too. A horde of zombies would soon become reality.
“…Oh!” At that moment, a light bulb lit up inside Yohan’s head.
He realized that, if it was a world where they never met Lina, then they would have been annihilated by this mutant. Normally it would make sense to assume that the mutant brought a zombie wave along with it, but this clearly wasn’t the case.
Logically speaking, if a mutant appeared on the island and caused a ruckus, Yohan and the combat team would be distracted by it and there was a chance that something else could happen in the meantime. Before Jae Ho said anything, Yohan was ready to evacuate all the camp members to the shelter and hunt down the mutant with all the combat members. If something happened on the coast in this situation, they would be caught off guard.
‘A drifting ship…arriving at our shores…’ Yohan was sure of it now. This was the reason why their camp was annihilated despite having tight security. It also explained why only some zombies were bloated with sea water, why they were wearing foreign clothing, and why there were hundreds of them.
Right at this moment, a large Chinese passenger ship was heading toward their island. This was within the realms of possibility. Small boats and water bloated zombies were actually quite common in the previous timeline. There had been military operations where they tried to transport civilians to the southern sea via the Han river. However, they had failed to filter out the infected among themselves.
There would be many large passenger ships by the Chinese waters right now. The boats were crammed packed, with close to a thousand people on them. It wouldn’t be strange if such a vessel were to shipwreck itself on their island.
Lina’s vision foresaw a different death for Jung Hwan. Although they had changed their destiny by meeting Lina’s group, Jung Hwan was unable to escape his fate. As a consequence of Lina joining the camp, Jung Hwan had moved to a different house. As a result, he had become the mutant’s first victim instead of someone else. Yohan pushed these thoughts aside and focused on the problem at hand.
“It’s a large passenger ship.”
“A passenger ship?”
“In some Chinese coastal cities, after the apocalypse, they came up with a maritime operation to evacuate all the survivors. This is similar to how the Korean army tried to move survivors from the Jamsil Sports Complex shelter to the southern sea by the Han river. If all the passengers were to get infected, we’d end up with a drifting ship that has been taken over by zombies. And one of these ships is probably heading to our island right now.”
“Wait…are you saying that zombies can drive a boat?”
“No. I mean, we can’t discount that mutants might be able to, but if normal zombies could do that, then humanity is doomed. The fact that an infected boat will get shipwrecked here is just unlucky.”
Everything in Lina’s vision made sense now. They had to prevent the ship from reaching their island. Dealing with a mutant was problematic enough, but if hundreds of zombies were delivered to its doorstep and allowed to start a zombie wave, the situation would become hopeless.
“It’s not that the mutant doesn’t have the ability to start a zombie wave, there just aren’t any zombies around for it to do so. Once that boat shipwrecks here, we’ll have to deal with a zombie wave as well as a powerful mutant on the same level as David. If that happens, we might very well be wiped out.”
Everyone looked grim, but they were focused.
“Leader, give us your orders.”
Yohan started thinking quickly. He had to split everyone up. They couldn’t just have two squads protect the survivors while the other two hunt down the mutant. They needed someone to prevent the zombie passenger ship from landing. However, if they split up too much, it would be too dangerous to fight the mutant. Though he might be immune to infection, he still needed all four of his elite fighters in order to have the best chance at beating the mutant.
“We’ll…postpone the funeral for Jung Hwan and Ah Young. Getting rid of these threats comes first. Go to the power transmission tower. We’ll have to reorganize the squads. So Hee, Luca, Jung Hwan…oh, damn it.”
“Jae Ho, you know the basics of driving a boat, right? So Hee, Luca, Saeri, and Jae Ho with me. The rest of you take the camp members to the shelter.”
“We’ll take all three motorcycles. Mobility is key. So Hee, you ride with Saeri. We need to go to the supplies warehouse first.”
Yohan formed a new group in order to stop the shipwreck from happening. They quickly headed over to the supplies warehouse and gathered cloth, gasoline, and the arrows fletched by Mr. Kim. With the supplies gathered, they hopped back on their motorbikes.
“Yohan, where are we going?”
“To the power transmission tower.”
It was the only place where they could see the entire coastline of the island. Yohan climbed up the power transmission tower and focused his vision so that he wouldn’t miss a thing. However, due to the dark evening and the fog, it was hard to see anything.
— “Yohan! Do you see anything?”
“No, there’s too much fog.” Yohan replied. He was starting to get nervous. If only they could get rid of the fog somehow, they would be able to do something. Yohan shook off his uneasiness. If the mutant appeared by the shore, it might clue them in on where the ship was coming from.
— “Bro, evacuation complete!”
“Roger that. And the mutant?”
— “I don’t see it. You be careful.”
The Shark acted like a carnivore, similar to a cheetah or leopard. It hunted by itself, it knew how to hide, and it retreated if it felt like the prey was dangerous. It targeted the weakest member it could find. Yohan didn’t know how intelligent it was, but it felt like it was smarter than an average mutant. It was able to make judgement calls and had its own unique way of hunting.
Yohan had been feeling numb before, but now all his senses tingled as they elevated in sensitivity. It was the sense of time slowing down before death that he hadn’t experienced in a long time. It was almost an unfamiliar feeling; all the hairs, from his head to his toes, stood on their ends. Emotions swirled up inside of him, making his head spin. The thought that someone else might die made him anxious. It also didn’t help that he was precariously perched on top of a high tower. Ironically, at this moment, he had never felt more alive.
Yohan spotted it at the same time someone called out his name. It was the mutant Shark.
“Power transmission tower here. We see the mutant Shark. No assistance required.” Yohan quickly gave his report and climbed down the tower quickly. Since it appeared right in front of him, he was going to finish it off right now. “Everyone get away! Don’t approach it!”
If Yohan was able to bring it down right now, then the ordinary zombies from the shipwreck wouldn’t be a problem since they wouldn’t get the buff from the zombie wave. So Hee, Luca, Saeri, and Jae Ho were standing back to back in formation, ready to attack at any moment. The Shark was leaping all over the place, trying to confuse them and break their formation.
Yohan got to the ground level and pulled out his machete. He already knew that bullets wouldn’t work so he intended to fight like how he fought David. However, the Shark didn’t have any long-range attacks. There wouldn’t be an opportunity to shoot into its mouth or eyes. Even Corporal Ong would have a hard time hitting it when it was jumping around like this.
The Shark’s feet crunched heavily on the ground as it suddenly dashed toward Saeri. In that moment, Yohan charged in like lightning, brandishing his blade. The mutant immediately stopped and jumped away. Yohan’s blade made a loud swish as it sliced through the air. Yohan charged in after it, swinging his machete at its mouth. There was a loud screech as he stabbed it in the mouth.
Yohan mustered up all his strength and drove his blade even deeper into its mouth. The rest of his group arranged themselves in a firing formation, but Yohan was too close to the mutant for them to support him with gunfire.
“Haaaaa!” Yohan shouted, trying to force the machete in more. At that precise moment, the mutant relaxed its jaws and backed up. Yohan’s momentum carried him forward while the Shark opened its mouth and tried to bite him.
However, it bit nothing but air. Yohan had figured out its attack pattern. Whenever it wanted to attack, it would open its mouth wide. It was best to fight it at close-range. Compared to David, its close quarter combat capability fell short. Yohan was confident that he could beat it. He pulled out a grenade and watched the mutant carefully.
Suddenly, an arrow zipped through the air and struck the Shark right in the eye.
The Shark screeched loudly and took a step back. Now that it was far enough away from Yohan, the other combatants opened fire. The Shark twisted around in pain as the bullets rained down on it, forcing it to flee into the darkness. It was surprisingly cowardly.
“Yohan! Are you okay?” Everyone ran over to Yohan. Yohan hid his disappointment and simply nodded his head.
“The mutant has run away after fighting at the power transmission tower. Stay on guard and watch out for sneak attacks.”
Yohan massaged his arm after pushing it to its limit during the fight. He also put his grenade back into his pocket. He would get another chance later.
“As planned, we’re going to stop the passenger ship from landing. Luca.”
“You can fly the helicopter, right?”
“Let’s go to the helipad. If we can’t see it from here, we have no choice but to look for it from the sky.”
— Ω —