Yohan’s group headed to the helipad. The passenger ship was probably almost at their island. As such, they should be able to spot it in an instant with the helicopter.
“Let’s start by searching west. Start the helicopter,” Yohan ordered. Since the ship was probably coming from China, it was the best direction to look in.
The helicopter’s propeller started spinning and the coast guard helicopter wobbled slightly as it rose up into the air. Yohan held the door open and looked out with his binoculars. What he was doing was dangerous and should not be tried at home.
“NE direction, ship spotted,” Yohan shouted.
“NE direction, confirmed!”
The helicopter shuddered as it turned. The aircraft was fast. They had taken off just moments ago and they were already at the passenger ship.
“We got them.”
The ship heading towards Sindo was the size of a cruise liner. There was a slow, but sure current coming from the northwest. At its current pace, it would hit their shoreline in just a few hours. Yohan felt a sense of disgust once he saw the number of zombies on the ship. There were easily more than a thousand.
“Doing stupid things like this is how they kill people…Luca, lower us down a bit.”
The best thing to do would be to board the ship and manually steer it away from Sindo. However, there were just too many zombies. It was too much to ask to break through the zombies and make it to the bridge of the ship. It would be suicide to try it. Instead, Yohan opted for plan B.
“So Hee,” Yohan called out.
“Ye—yeah.” The girl was trembling. The zombies on the ship were attracted by the loud helicopter and were reaching out to their food. The crowd of waving arms was an eerie sight.
“We’re going to burn them,” Yohan said, simply.
He started pouring out the gasoline that they had brought with them. He dumped an entire canister and half of another. As they got showered with gas, the zombies started getting more worked up.
“Will you be able to land a shot from this distance?”
“Yeah.” So Hee nodded with confidence, understanding Yohan’s plan. Yohan ordered Luca to go a bit south so that the wind would favor them, making it an easier shot. So Hee wrapped an arrow with some fabric and dipped it into the gas canister. Yohan pulled out his lighter. So Hee moved toward the open helicopter door, but then hesitated. She wasn’t Yohan. If she stumbled, she might fall out of the helicopter and onto the boat. She didn’t want to become zombie food.
“Wait,” Yohan told her. He took out some rope and tied it securely around her waist. “Saeri, Jae Ho, hold on tight.”
The rope was already connected to the descender rig, but having people hold onto it gave So Hee a better sense of security. Yohan leaned in close to So Hee and did his best ASMR whisper.
“You can do it,” he said, soothingly. “You won’t fall. Stay calm and just do it like how you always do.”
“Okay,” So Hee replied, nervously. She was abundantly aware that Yohan didn’t normally whisper like that.
“Rauggghhhhh!” Zombie howls could be heard from across the ship. So Hee did her best to ignore them as she concentrated. She tried to imagine that she was back on the archery range.
So Hee nodded. Yohan lit the fabric on fire. Instantly, flames engulfed the arrowhead.
“Fire!” Yohan shouted.
So Hee released the shot instantly. The arrow sailed through the air and landed on the zombies drenched in gasoline. Fire erupted on the deck, following the trail of gas until half the deck was aflame.
The subsequent shots were even easier. Jae Ho dipped the arrows in the gas canister and Yohan lit them with his lighter. So Hee hit all her shots. If there was a spot where they could start a fire, a flaming arrow would land there. Soon, the ship was spewing out black smoke. It was so thick that they had to move the helicopter away, but they kept shooting flaming arrows.
“Rauggghhhhh!” The zombie screams now sounded like pig squeals. The deck of the boat was now a hellscape. However, Yohan wasn’t satisfied. Though there was fire everywhere, it wasn’t enough to sink the ship.
“Again!” He ordered, lighting up another arrow.
— “Boss man, this is the shelter.” Sweeper’s voice suddenly came through on the walkie-talkie. “I think the mutant is here.”
Yohan pulled out his walkie-talkie. The Shark mutant must have started targeting the shelter after they had left the island. The evacuation shelter was a sturdy asphalt building with steel roofing and doors. They should be able to wait it out, but if the mutant was strong enough to rip through steel, they would just be sitting ducks. It was too risky. They had to fend it off outside, where they had more room to maneuver. This would have to be the recon team’s job.
“Don’t force the engagement, but if it gets close, call me. We have to stop it from getting into the shelter. Safety first. Remember, just a scratch can get you infected. Avoid contact if you can and, if you can’t, avoid injury. It can only fight in close quarters and it doesn’t have any crazy attacks. Just keep your distance.”
— “Roger,” Sweeper replied. Despite Sweeper’s cheerful voice, Yohan’s heart was filled with anxiety.
‘Sweeper and Ha Jin are there, so it should be okay.’
The pair already had experience fighting different mutants. Yohan was still worried, but he resigned himself to trust his comrades. Everyone had a job to do right now and his was dealing with the ship. Adrenaline coursed through his body as the foreboding sense of crisis loomed over them.
“Yohan, the ship isn’t stopping,” Saeri said, looking worried. So Hee was still shooting fire arrows, but the ship was continuing on its death march toward Sindo. “Will it be okay?”
Yohan didn’t reply. He wasn’t sure himself.
‘Was boarding the ship and getting to the bridge the correct choice in the end?’ Yohan wondered, regretfully. With the deck ablaze, that option was beyond impossible now. He shook his head.
“It’s still moving slow. It should burn up before it reaches the island.”
It was the current that was pushing the ship, not its engine. Thus, it was moving as slow as a turtle on land. If the fire kept raging throughout its journey, it should sink the ship. Yohan started muttering as if he was casting a spell. The other members on the helicopter nodded their heads in unison, trying to will the ship to sink alongside him. Suddenly, as if to answer their prayers, they heard an explosion.
It was followed quickly by more explosions. Their fire had spread to the fuel tank and triggered a chain reaction deep within the ship’s hull. In an instant, their modest fire on the deck had engulfed the entire ship.
Everything changed in an instant. They could see the skeleton of the ship as the fire illuminated it from the inside. Black smoke rose up, filling the skies like the factory chimneys did during the industrial revolution. The ship started to list to one side. The tilt betrayed how damaged the ship was. Zombies began falling into the ocean, splashing into the water like cereal falling into milk in a TV commercial.
So Hee clenched her fist. The ship had stopped moving forward now and was instead sinking downwards. In just a few moments, the drifting ship had become a shipwreck in the middle of the ocean. Only its rudder remained above the surface. Over a thousand zombies were buried with it at sea.
“This is Yohan, we finished wrecking the ship.”
— “Nice job, boss man. The mutant is still loitering around. I think it wants to attack soon.”
“We’ll be back soon. Don’t overdo it.” Yohan released the transmit button and turned to Luca. “Back to the helipad, quickly. We need to support the shelter.”
“Yes sir.” Luca gave him the thumbs up and banked the helicopter back towards the island.
* * *
“Jeez, you’re one cautious sonuvagun,” Sweeper mumbled, watching the mutant prowl around the shelter.
Prowl was perhaps the wrong word to use to describe it as the mutant was moving pretty quickly. It had the Gremlin’s movement speed and David’s fighting ability. On top of that, it was disgusting to look at.
The recon team stood in front of the shelter, waiting for the mutant with nervous expressions on their faces. The Shark gave out a chilling cry, voicing its displeasure with the large group of armed people blocking its way.
“Sweeper, your orders?” Ha Jin asked. The mutant was now in shooting range.
“Sure, shall we give it a taste? I’ll countdown. Three.”
The recon team members switched off the safety on their guns.
They raised their rifles and calmed their breathing.
Gunfire erupted from all the guns simultaneously. The machine gun from the roof of the shelter joined in and Corporal Ong’s thunderous sniper shot added punctuation among the cacophony. They had formed an inverted arc firing net to welcome the Shark. Most of the bullets bounced off of its tough hide, but they left a visible mark on its skin. Notable dents were forming on its body.
“The AP bullet is working.”
They had acquired armor-piercing rounds from the Seoul Survival Union and were finally able to put them to good use. The special ammunition pierced deep into the mutant’s body and made it cry out in pain. However, instead of running away, it decided to leap forward.
“Stop shooting!” Sweeper shouted. If they fired at the mutant up close, their bullets might ricochet off of its tough hide and hit them instead.
“Prepare for melee!” Ha Jin grabbed an iron shield with his good hand and flicked out the blade in his prosthetic arm. Hyuk and the other recon team members pulled out large blades as well.
“Don’t engage directly! Just surround it. Don’t get too close! Ha Jin, back up!” Sweeper shouted orders in quick succession. Just a graze could cause an infection. If there were a lot of people fighting in close quarters, an accident was sure to occur. Especially when some of them weren’t adept at hand-to-hand combat.
Instead, the recon team members cut off the mutant’s retreat and its path to the shelter and let Ha Jin and Sweeper charge in. As Sweeper got close, the mutant swung its long, thin arm at him. Sweeper ducked immediately. He could hear the arm slicing through the air above his head.
He swung his axe at the mutant’s feet, hoping to trip it. However, there was a loud metallic clang as his weapon struck the mutant’s sturdy legs. Even though he swung with all his might, Sweeper couldn’t trip it. Instead, the mutant counter-attacked with its other arm. However, that attack was blocked by something else.
“Whew, thanks for the backup.”
Ha Jin had blocked the mutant’s counter-attack with his shield. The pair backed up and collected their breath. They approached the Shark once again, this time showing off their coordinated teamwork.
“It’s weaker than David. We just need to watch for its claws and teeth.”
The Shark didn’t have a set attack pattern, but each of its attacks were clearly telegraphed. It either bit at them with its large mouth or tried to scratch them with its claws. At the same time, however, it was capable enough to block all of their attacks.
“I’ll go first this time.” Ha Jin said, as he raised his shield and charged in. Sweeper followed in behind him.
“Most of the mutants have the same weakness, their internal organs.”
Sweeper recalled Yohan’s lessons and touched one of the grenades hanging off of his belt. He wanted to shove a grenade down the Shark’s mouth and give it heartburn. The mutant swung its claws around again.
“Not this time!” Ha Jin blocked it with his shield. However, the mutant’s arm wrapped around the shield like a snake. Ha Jin’s eyes grew wide as he felt a burning cut on his side.
— Ω —