Yohan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. A nuclear power plant was about to blow up? It was something he never could have predicted. Something that he only ever heard about on the news was now happening right before him. It was in the realm of fantasy, just like zombies. Even though he had never experienced it before, he knew how scary a nuclear reactor explosion was and how difficult it was to deal with the radiation in the aftermath. He also knew that it was a threat that he could not counterattack.
‘Why in the world is this happening? Just leave me alone, please.’
If fate was a person, Yohan would grab them by the collar and shake them as if they were a villain. He took a few deep breaths to slow his heart rate and turned to Lina.
“What are you talking about? What do you mean a nuclear power plant is going to blow up?”
“It’s as I say. I dreamt that the nuclear power plant blew up.” Lina had an intense look on her face. She explained that she had a fairly short dream. There was a power plant, with its radiation hazard signs. There were bright, yellow flames and black smoke, but no one was there to put out the fire or prevent disaster from happening. Only corpses and zombies running toward the fire like moths to a flame.
“No way…” Yohan was in denial. It was unbelievable. It was the number one place that the military would go to and shut down. Even without its leadership, the support groups would know that it was a top priority.
Although the entire world had been thrown into chaos and it was possible that there was a reactor left active, there was no way that it would explode just because there were zombies nearby. Even if a battle broke out within the power plant, people would know to follow the manual and shut down the dangerous facility. In the previous timeline, Yohan never heard anything about a nuclear power plant exploding in the three years he experienced.
‘I’m certain nothing like this happened before…so why?’ Yohan’s mind was a storm of possible scenarios. In the eye of the storm, he realized that there was a major difference between the timelines. ‘Maybe it’s because the infection spread faster.’
Zombies appeared earlier than they did in the previous timeline. The infection spread ridiculously fast and mutants appeared much earlier as well. As a consequence, the military was destabilized quickly. In the previous timeline, the military acted quickly to shut down all the power plants. Maybe in this timeline, they failed? Yohan still had his doubts.
‘Is our country’s military so weak that they couldn’t even shut down the power plants? There’s no way.’ Yohan shook his head.
“Do you know where?” He asked Lina.
“Tianwan. I saw a sign.”
“I think so.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know. The dream was too short…”
Yohan nodded. Tianwan, China. The fact that Lina had a dream about it meant that the event would affect them, even though they were all the way on Sindo. It was pointless to be shocked or angry, they had to resolve this issue first. Yohan immediately gathered the leadership group.
It was barely morning and most camp members were still in bed. Yohan’s voice over the PA woke them up and they hurriedly gathered at the meeting place. The news of the nuclear reactor meltdown hit everyone like a bolt out of the blue. All they could do was stare at Yohan with a dumbfounded look on their faces.
“The location is Tianwan. Does anyone know where that is?”
Naturally, Jae Ho was the one who answered first. “The Tianwan nuclear power plant is on the Shandong Peninsula. It’s one of the closest Chinese facilities to Korea.”
Jae Ho’s answer made Yohan furrow his brow. ‘The Shandong Peninsula is right next to us. If that power plant goes nuclear, we’ll be exposed to radiation without a doubt.’
“Oh seriously, how did we not account for such an awful scenario?” Jae Ho agonized, clutching his head.
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s only natural that a power plant would explode. We only missed this fact because we’ve been fighting so desperately just to survive.”
“Explain in more detail.”
“…In a state of emergency, nuclear power plants are a top priority. When the zombie apocalypse started, the government officials no doubt gave out the orders to shut down the power plants immediately. However, in order to properly ensure that the power plan has been shut down, they need to be monitored for at least one year. Five years at most.”
As Jae Ho continued his explanation, the expression of people’s faces became grim.
“Uranium has a half life. Even if the reactor is shut down, it’ll still produce energy for one to five years before it becomes fully inert. It’s been nearly a year since the zombie apocalypse started, so, of course, if there’s a power plant that’s overrun with zombies, it would explode.”
Some of the camp members felt as if they were back in science class and didn’t understand what Jae Ho was talking about, especially since he was speaking quickly non-stop.
“The coolant in the reactor has probably run out and the automated systems have probably failed. The people who were supposed to monitor those things probably have become zombies by now. This is only the beginning. As we speak, the nuclear reaction within every reactor in the world is building towards critical mass. For the next few years, the power plants in China, Japan, and Korea will soon be exploding one after another like dominos falling over. Arg!”
This was the crux of the issue. The coolant, which was primary means of keeping the nuclear reaction under control, was undersupplied as those responsible for replacing it had become zombies. The automated systems, which was the insurance, stopped working as time passed, leaving the reactor to run on its own, leading to destruction.
“Pandora’s box…will eventually open.” Jae Ho said, mournfully. Even though some of the camp members didn’t understand what he was saying, they got the meaning from the tone of his voice. Right now, there was a devastating explosion building up and they had no way of stopping it. Gloom filled the room. There was a fear that was different from what they were used to.
“Is there anywhere we could go where we would be safe?”
“None. No matter where we go in this country…unless we go really deep underground.”
The camp members were unable to contain their sighs of despair. The mood in the room was getting heavy, but Yohan didn’t say anything. He was feeling the same way, but he wasn’t planning on accepting his fate so easily.
‘I’m going to survive.’
No matter the trials and crisis thrown their way, he will struggle to the bitter end. This scenario was threatening him with checkmate. It wanted him to resign. It was as if the world was saying ‘no matter how hard you guys struggle, your fate has already been sealed.’ All that was left was for them to accept the game over screen displayed on a sad, gray background.
‘Fuck you. Even if you choke me to death, I’m going to struggle until my very last breath.’
“What about overseas?”
“If Korea isn’t safe, then what about other countries?”
Jae Ho dashed out of the room with an excited look on his face. Everyone waited in silence for 10 minutes before he returned with a world map from his library. Jae Ho spread out the map, taped down the corners, and grabbed a marker from the whiteboard.
“If we expand our options to other countries, then there are safe zones. If radiation spreads around the world, we’ll need to find a windless region in order to be safe. The southern hemisphere is the best.” Jae Ho circled three places: Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.
“The safest place would be Hawaii.” Yohan commented. “The US recently announced that it was a radiation free zone. New Zealand and Southern Australia is good too…but they’re all pretty far away. Isn’t there anywhere closer that would be safe?”
“I don’t know. Probably not. We would have to assume that the rest of the world has been affected by the zombie apocalypse just like us. If it was strictly an Asia thing, the US military would have flown in and saved us.”
“You’re right. There are American soldiers stationed here and the US would never give up on their own soldiers.”
The American army’s morale was bolstered by the belief that their country would protect them and, historically, the US answered that belief. If the zombie apocalypse only affected Korea or Asia, they would have seen numerous American fighter jets swooping in to save their soldiers stationed in Korea.
However, this never happened. Thus, either the US had fallen or they were in a similar emergency situation and were unable to take care of their soldiers overseas. If the zombie apocalypse managed to overwhelm both China and the US, it was highly likely that the rest of the world was also affected.
“Then we don’t have a choice. If these three places are the most suitable, we’ll need to travel by sea. Hawaii is completely isolated, which is good. However, even though there are probably still lots of zombies in New Zealand and Australia, it would be easier to get supplies there than in Hawaii.”
“How far?” Yohan asked. Jae Ho’s excited expression faded in an instant.
“It’s…honestly impossible. If we follow the Japan to Hawaii route, it would be at least 8000 kilometers. New Zealand is even further away. It would be hard to take everyone in our small fishing boat. Even if we managed to fit everyone onboard, the boat isn’t ocean-worthy. It’ll sink as soon as we go beyond Jeju Island.”
Jae Ho didn’t need to mention that they didn’t have the right crew members for such a long journey, the facts he did say aloud were depressing enough. It was a voyage of thousands of kilometers and they had no navigation and no crew. It was nothing short of suicide. Most likely, they would die before the power plants exploded. If they’re off by just a little, they would just drift endlessly in the ocean and would soon run out of food. People would probably start fighting among themselves.
“I have no faith in our fishing boat for a journey like this. I was thinking about the warship we obtained. Do you think we could get it working?”
“What do you think about the warship? If we can get enough fuel, would the journey be possible?” Yohan asked.
Jae Ho’s head was spinning. Could it be possible? If it was a warship, it might have GPS and a navigational system. At the very least, it would have radar.
“If it was the warship then…in theory, it could be possible. Do you know if it is an Incheon-class frigate? If so, then based on its carrying capacity and the distance…we might be able to make it to Hawaii.”
“Oh, I was just thinking…the equipment onboard our warship is a bit different. The Mistral that you love is typically found on a Ulsan Pohang-class corvette. Also, I didn’t see the Anti-Submarine Helicopter that is typically found on the Incheon-class frigate…”
“That is the Incheon-class,” Luca said, suddenly, “The Mistral is an add-on. You’re right though, the Mistral isn’t usually found in the navy. It’s an Air Force weapon. As for the helicopter, it’s likely that someone just took it.”
‘Like me.’ Luca thought to himself. Jae Ho nodded thoughtfully.
“Anyway, we would still be cutting it close, but it’s possible. However, we don’t quite have the manpower to operate the warship…”
Yohan didn’t know if he should be relieved. It was possible, if they could operate the warship. It was a ridiculous pre-requisite.
“Our chances are slim…honestly, it’s asking too much.”
“Should we have let one of the sailors live?” Sweeper wondered. Luca once again spoke up.
“Even if we let a few of them live, it wouldn’t make a difference. There are a lot of specialized roles on a ship. Unless we managed to save the perfect combination of talent, it would be useless. Doesn’t matter if we saved an officer or not.”
As the camp members discussed the options before them, Yohan was deep in his thoughts. He had already made up his mind. Even if it was impossible, they had to do everything they could. Once he had decided this, there was a gleam in his eye. He stood up and spoke to the group.
Everyone turned to look at him. No matter how miserable and harsh reality was, their leader, who had protected them thus far and whom they have entrusted their lives to, continued to be their only ray of hope. Would he once again reward them for their trust?
“All operations are cancelled as of this moment. I no longer care about the mutant Piccolo or the Yeongjong Island military base. Our only focus right now is to escape the nuclear fallout zone. We’ll board the warship and travel across the sea,” Yohan announced, his voice firm and determined. Hearing his confident tone, the camp members couldn’t help but feel calmer.
“As the kids these days might say, it sounds like we’re moving overseas,” Sweeper commented.
“You sound like a middle-aged man when you say that,” Saeri scoffed. They were no longer feeling nervous. Yohan raised his hand to quiet down the chatter and the pair stopped trading jabs.
“Yes, Mr. Yohan.”
“You said before that we need to stop being hostile toward mankind and fight to save all of humanity.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Sorry, but that kind of stuff doesn’t suit me.”
Lina studied Yohan carefully.
“If you’re looking for someone to save humanity, I would tell you that you’re talking to the wrong people. My only goal is survival, for me and the people here. That’s all.”
No one said anything, but it was clear that they were touched. Yohan made eye contact with each and every person in the room. His eyes were saying ‘Trust me, I’ll carry.’ The camp members responded in kind with their hearts.
“But wait bros,” Sweeper said, “Do we even have visas?”
— Ω —