They used a jury-rigged refueling vehicle to pump fuel into the helicopter. Luca had taken a water tank that was originally used for farming and modified it into a makeshift refueling vehicle. Yohan watched with interest.
“Could you not refuel the helicopter without the vehicle?”
“It would be difficult because the fuel goes in at the bottom of the tank and pushes everything up.”
“So it’ll be difficult to refuel in the middle of an expedition.”
“It would be better if we establish a refueling station somewhere that has a refueling vehicle, a fuel warehouse, and a helipad.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Luca finished refueling and used a rag to wipe away any gas that had dripped out. He stood up and dusted off his hand.
“Let’s head out.”
The engine whined as the propeller started spinning loudly, lifting the helicopter into the air. Yohan was now used to the floating sensation and allowed the feeling to encompass his whole body.
The helicopter crossed the western sea quickly and arrived at Incheon Port. As they got close to the port, Luca increased the helicopter’s altitude a bit and Yohan looked through the window, searching for a potential landing spot. However, since they sunk the drifting ship near the coast of Incheon Port, both the port and logistics center were crawling with zombies. From high above, it looked like a busy ant colony.
“Wow, it’s been a while,” Luca shouted as they observed the large harbor.
It was the largest trading port on the western sea. There were a large number of containers on the side awaiting sorting, a large building that acted as the logistics center, and some factory buildings. The zombies heard the helicopter and gathered underneath it. Yohan glared at the horde.
“Luca, there’s a helipad on the roof of a building 1 km southeast. Let’s land there.”
“You’re going to get off?”
“I want to check something and don’t want to waste our precious fuel.”
“If it’s not going to take too long, it’ll eat up less fuel if I just stay up.”
“I think it’ll take about three hours.”
As the helicopter descended on the helipad, dust kicked up into the air, signifying that no one had used the helipad in a long time. As Yohan got ready to hop off, he noticed that the zombies had followed them and were making their way into the building.
“You’ve killed zombies before, right?”
“Huh?…I’ve killed some before.”
“There are zombies gathering outside. Let’s get rid of them.”
“I said, let’s get rid of them.”
“Hahaha!” Luca laughed forcefully. Yohan stared at him incredulously.
“You’ve never killed a zombie before, have you?”
“Look, Pio and Verda were in charge of fighting.”
He didn’t know how lucky he was. In the apocalypse, if you were scared by just a few measly zombies, you were likely to become zombie food. Yohan couldn’t accept this weakness.
“I don’t really want to agree…”
Yohan opened the helicopter door. The zombies had already appeared. He kicked the closest one away and turned back to look at Luca.
“You’re lucky. Not many people get private lessons from me.”
Yohan created some space and hopped out of the helicopter. He swung his machete at the approaching zombies. Each swing of the well-forged blade took down a zombie. Even though he wasn’t putting in a lot of effort into his swings, he was cutting cleanly through the zombies. Yohan took down five zombies and reached the building’s roof access door. He let two more zombies walk onto the roof and tripped them to the ground before he slammed the door shut. They could hear more zombies banging on the door from the other side.
‘What is this guy doing?’ Luca wondered, looking perplexed.
Yohan chopped off the arms of the two zombies and sliced off the lower half of their face, from their nose to their chin.
“Now, kill them. I’ll watch.”
“Jeez, don’t you have any respect towards the elderly?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that zombies don’t attack the elderly.”
Luca’s hands were shaking. The lack of arms and jaws made the zombies look more gruesome than ordinary zombies. It was enough to make a lesser man pee themself.
“I can’t use a gun, right?”
“No. Besides, your stance is off.” Yohan kicked the zombies back some more and tapped on Luca’s back leg, correcting his stance. “Put your center of gravity slightly on your front foot so that you won’t fall even if they push you.”
“Oh yeah? I don’t think that’s how the others fight.”
“That’s because they’re already advanced past the point where they would let zombies push them. Get ready, they’re coming.”
Luca swung his knife emphatically. However, it got stuck in the first zombie’s neck.
Luca tried to pull his knife out, but it was really stuck. All he did was pull the zombie closer.
Before the zombie could even stain Luca’s shirt with the blood oozing from its face, Yohan pulled it back. He grabbed the knife that was embedded in the zombie’s neck and lifted it, along with the zombie, into the air. He bashed the zombie against the railing on the edge of the roof until the knife cut through the rest of the zombie’s neck. Blood splattered everywhere. Yohan calmly handed the knife back to Luca.
“It’ll be difficult for you to cut through their necks right now. Stab them in the eyes instead. Here, try it on the other zombie.”
Luca did as he was told. He grabbed the zombie by the back of its head and stabbed the knife straight through its eye. He could hear a wet splat sound and feel something bursting inside the zombie’s skull before seeing black ooze spew out from its orifices.
“Good job. Next time, don’t reach out to grab its neck. Instead, use your forearm and brace against it as it tries to push into you. Whenever you get off the helicopter, wear protective gear.”
Yohan dragged the corpses off to the side and out of the way before he pulled out his binoculars and looked around. He was looking for evidence of survivors, the number of zombies in the area, and any geographical features of note. This was his typical preliminary survey before starting a clean up operation.
‘If there were border fences or barriers, I could round up the zombies.’
Incheon Port was essentially wide open land. There was a residential apartment close to it, which could potentially house an unknown number of zombies. If he wanted to clean up the entire area, it would take a long time. The bigger issue was that, even if they managed to kill off all the zombies right now, they couldn’t stop more from coming. No matter what, any visit to the port would be filled with anxiety. Yohan pulled out his journal and began taking notes.
The most important detail was the lay of the land. The area was too big for them to just go in and kill zombies capriciously. Yohan sketched a map of the area and marked down all the major buildings. The logistics center, oil refinery, container warehouse, and other buildings that he didn’t want to forget about. The entire process took over an hour. Yohan stood up from his spot on the rooftop and called out to Luca, who was leaning against his helicopter with his arms crossed.
“I’m getting hungry, want to eat?”
“…Here?” Luca asked. There were zombie corpses and pools of blood around them.
“Do you prefer to eat down there?” Yohan replied. Luca’s face turned pale and he shook his head.
Yohan didn’t seem to mind the unappetizing scenery around them and pulled out the lunchbox that Ji Hye had prepared for them. He immediately started shoving food into his mouth. Luca could only half-heartedly pick at his food with his spoon.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” Yohan asked, interrupting the sounds of zombies howling and banging on the door that served as their lunchtime soundtrack.
“Did you earn your pilot license while serving with the Coast Guard?”
“No, I was a cadet in the Oslo NOP and was stationed there while in school.”
“Of course. I was overseas for a while. I came to Korea because of my experience. As you know, the country likes people with experience.”
Yohan didn’t know what the NOP was, but he did feel that it was impressive that Luca got his license overseas. He assumed that Luca had a great career.
“For someone with such a great background, how did you end up being Lina’s personal pilot? How did you meet her?”
“Hm, I was close with the president, her father. Closer with him than with Lina.”
“Well, I’m sure you might have noticed, but her family business has their headquarters in Oslo. It’s one of the top 10 biggest companies in Europe.”
“Such an amazing family. Why did their daughter become a nun?”
“It’s because of her dreams. Ever since she was young, she’s had visions of the future. People thought she was crazy. She also said that she could hear ghosts. Honestly, I’m surprised her family didn’t do anything to keep her in check.”
Yohan wondered if Lina was more strong willed than she appeared.
“The first vision she had was one of her mother dying in an accident. You might have heard of it? The Odaeyang Airline incident.”
It vaguely rang a bell. Yohan remembered something happening a long time ago, a big crash appearing on the news when he was still young.
“It just so happened that Lina’s mother was sitting in first class on that plane. When they were still at the airport, Miss Lina cried and made a big fuss. She was screaming that her mother was going to die.”
Yohan listened to Luca’s story without comment.
“In the end, her mother passed away on her way back to Oslo. Ever since, Miss Lina would announce scarily accurate predictions at least three times a year. However, people didn’t treat it like a warning of disaster. They thought that she was cursing them.”
“A typical reaction. Is that why she became a nun?”
“That’s right. She framed her visions as a revelation from god. Faith has the power to make people believe in things they normally wouldn’t believe.”
‘So Lina didn’t start dreaming of the future after becoming a nun. She became a nun so that people would believe in her visions. How cunning.’
“Well, let’s end the conversation here. I feel like I’m talking behind her back, it’s uncomfortable. I mean, it’s not a secret. If you asked her, I’m sure she would tell you everything in a friendly manner. So, if you want more details, go ask her yourself.”
Yohan nodded. Both their lunch boxes were completely empty now.
“Oh, what about your family, Luca?”
“They’re dead. Accident. It was the price for not listening to Lina.”
Yohan froze with his spoon in his mouth. Luca had a thousand mile stare. Yohan wondered if he was one of those people who originally thought that Lina was cursing them. He wondered if Luca resented her after losing his wife and daughter.
‘Why, why…didn’t you try harder to stop them?’
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Sir…’
Luca was reliving his past memories. Even though he knew he was just shouting at the wind, he had to blame someone for his loss. He came to lay that blame on Lina and she gladly accepted her role. No, rather, Lina was probably still feeling guilty in her inability to save anyone.
“I’m sorry for bringing up such a painful memory.”
“No. It’s fine. It was a long time ago.”
“Is it the same for Verda and Pio?”
“No, the three of them are childhood friends. The president adopted the two from an orphanage and had them spend time with her. Ever since they were little they received training to become special agents. They’re Lina’s protectors.”
Yohan became more curious about Lina’s family business, but he decided not to bother Luca anymore. There will be an opportunity to ask Lina herself later.
“Well, young friend. I think we bonded a bit, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yeah. Thanks for answering my questions.”
Yohan pulled out his journal and map and began drawing again. Luca returned to his leaning spot by the helicopter and whistled a tune. An hour later, the pair returned to Sindo.
* * *
After their preliminary survey, Yohan decided to rest and improve his condition for a few days before they started the expedition. He took the opportunity to catch up on some reading. Early in the morning, he would relax in the pavilion in the center of the reservoir, reading while listening to the sounds of water flowing around him. It did wonders for his mental health. While he was engrossed in his book, he noticed someone approaching him.
“What are you so focused on, Yohan? This look doesn’t suit you.” Saeri bent over to read the title of Yohan’s book. “Yoru Sumino’s ‘I Want to Eat Your Pancreas’ …I know it’s probably not what I think it is, but the title is a bit freaky.”
Yohan closed his book with a smile and stood up. At that exact moment, he felt a tingle as his instincts cried out in danger. He spun around sharply.
He knew that the Shark mutant was dead. He had tripled checked to make sure that every part of its body was destroyed and all the flesh bits didn’t regenerate. He didn’t understand why his instincts were kicking in at this moment. It also felt slightly different than normal. Typically, the sensation was like there was a threat right under his nose. Right now, it felt like the threat was coming from afar, slowly smothering him. Yohan didn’t know what was going on. He immediately dashed off to find Lina.
“Yohan? Oi, Yohan!” Saeri yelled as Yohan ran off without a word. He was so focused that he didn’t even hear her. He was determined to figure out the source of his anxiety.
Yohan ran as fast as he could to the church. He caught Lina and Verda exiting the building in a hurry. They ran over to him as soon as they saw him. They were definitely anxious about something. There was definitely something happening.
“Hah, hah…Mr. Yohan…” Lina panted.
“Yeah, what’s wrong?”
“The power plant…I think a nuclear power plant is going to explode.”
Lina’s statement hit Yohan like a brick wall. It was checkmate. The end was nigh.
— Ω —