Yohan glared at Sweeper for interrupting the serious discussion with a joke. Sweeper closed his mouth and gave Yohan his best puppy dog eyes as the leader continued talking.
“We won’t be searching for survivors and supplies at Incheon Port anymore. The most important thing to do right now is to figure out how to operate the warship.”
“Leader, that won’t be easy.”
“I know. But we don’t have a choice.”
It was the only option they had.
“First we need fuel. Luca, what kind of fuel does the warship use?”
“Most naval vessels use MDO, marine diesel oil, which is a F-76…a mixture between heavy oil and gasoline. If we go to the Incheon Port oil refinery warehouse, there might be some there. One of the military fuel suppliers operates an oil refinery there.”
“Huh? Shouldn’t the warship take bunker fuel?”
“Bunker fuel is typically used on fishing boats, like the one we have.”
“That’s weird…” Jae Ho mumbled.
“Get both. We were going to clean up Incheon Port anyways. When we go to get helicopter fuel, we can also pick up the other two fuel types. It won’t be a problem. The biggest issue is finding instructions for the warship…”
There was always a manual for military facilities and equipment. All the army manuals that Yohan had seen in the past were better written than he anticipated. He didn’t know if the same was true for the navy, but if they could find the instructions for the warship, it just might be detailed enough that a layman like him could operate it.
“We need any information we can find regarding naval warships. Sailing, refueling, maintenance, we need to find where they’re keeping their manuals.”
Even if he couldn’t understand the information, there was a good mix of talent in the camp. As a collective, they should be able to figure it out. For example, there was the talented young man right in front of him, who was still deep in thought.
“Jae Ho?” Yohan called out, quizzically. Jae Ho broke out of his trance and explained what he was thinking about.
“Regarding the warship…documents for them are considered a military secret, so they wouldn’t just be lying around anywhere. There’s a good chance that the naval base at Gyeryong City in the South Chungcheong Province will have something. If not, we can try the naval academy in Jinhae-gu in the Gyeongsamnam province. I’m certain that one of these two locations will have what we need.”
“That’s too far.”
“Yeouidaebang-ro has a naval center, but it’s unlikely to have any naval training…oh!” Jae Ho snapped his fingers as he recalled something. “The National Library of Korea!”
“The library? There’s no way that military secrets are kept in a library.”
“Of course they wouldn’t let civilians access classified military documents, but they still keep at least one copy of all official and unofficial publications made in Korea. This includes government and military documents too.”
Yohan frowned, looking unconvinced. However, Jae Ho was confident.
“It’s a fact that not many people know. This is why the National Library of Korea is considered a protected critical agency. Unofficial government and military publications are treated as first-class restricted documents. Unauthorized people don’t even know about them, let alone have access them. Not only will there be operating manuals for the warships, but there should also be educational material designed to teach guards and non-commissioned officers. Those would be like a how-to guide.”
“Are you sure? If you’re just saying this just because you want to go there, just be honest.” Yohan was still doubtful. It seemed strange to him that military secrets would be kept in a public library.
“…I’m not 100% certain. But, believe me, I’m not dumb enough to put others in danger just to fulfill my own desires. Personally, I think our chances at finding something is better in Gyeryong in the South Chungcheong province.”
Yohan nodded. He knew that Jae Ho was being honest with him. If so, there was a chance that what they needed was at the library. It was an option to consider.
“Okay, sorry for doubting you. Let’s check the nearest location, starting with the National Library of Korea, then the naval base, then the naval academy.”
“But, will it really be okay? It’s a government facility…won’t it be dangerous?”
“Well, honestly, I’m pretty sure that none of these places are occupied, but who knows. Are there any naval bases along the western sea?” Yohan asked. The more he thought about it, the more dangerous it seemed to travel to the center of Seoul. Most of the people and zombies would be concentrated there; it would be no different from a war zone. Yohan was confident that he could handle it, but he wasn’t so sure about some of his comrades.
“Those naval bases might have some guides or manuals as a reference, but…I don’t know their exact locations. I’m only familiar with Pyeongtaek city, Jinhae city, Jeju island, and Busan. The installations there are pretty famous.”
“Got it. I was only asking in case any one of us knew offhand, don’t feel bad about not knowing the answer,” Yohan said, giving Jae Ho a thumbs up for a job well done.
The information that Jae Ho had provided was more than sufficient. With it, he was able to decide how they were going to move forward in this scenario. Yohan tapped on the table to refocus everyone’s attention on him.
“We’re going to do a different expedition than the one I originally planned. The people who will be joining me are…”
Yohan didn’t know how long it would take for them to finish the expedition. He wanted to take all the main members with him, but there was still the safety of the camp members to consider. Even though the ocean was a natural barrier against most threats, other humans and the mutant Shark could overcome it anytime.
Additionally, the expedition was sure to be a dangerous one. They could be attacked at any time and from any direction. He had to carefully choose who to bring and who to leave behind. It was a difficult decision because he had no idea what the future would bring. People could die and, in a worst case scenario, one side could be annihilated. It was an important decision.
‘Let’s think about the likelihood of things happening. Which side is more likely to face danger?’
Up until now, they had only encountered three mutants in total: the Gremlin, David, and Shark. This occurred over five months, with roughly five weeks between each encounter. If the expedition took only one to two weeks, the camp should be safe. Additionally, if the main members didn’t go, their skills would get rusty. With that in mind, Yohan made his decision.
“We’ll head out with full force. Everyone from group one to four will go. We’ll group up based on who has the best synergy with each other. Harvesting season is over, so the production members can take over guard duty on the island. Seo Jun, please lead them.”
“Hey, why am I the leader when there are still some recon team members staying behind?” Seo Jun protested.
“They don’t have enough experience to lead. Please, I leave everything in your care.”
“Oh…got it…” Seo Jun nodded, scratching his head.
“Lina from group one will stay behind in the situation room. Verda will move to group one to take her place. Luca will take Verda’s place in group three, acting as support and officially joining the recon team.”
“Please spare me, young leader,” Luca said. He tried to play it off as a joke, but he was half-serious. Yohan ignored him.
“Ha Jin will lead group four and Jung Eun will take his spot in group two.”
“Yes, I got a promotion!” Jung Eun said, brightly. Her smile couldn’t hide her look of anxiety and fear.
The expedition would include 16 people in total. It was essentially the entire fighting power of their camp. Yohan had wanted to take a medical personnel along with them, but held back. Besides, all the recon team members already knew how to do first aid.
“We’ll head out to Incheon Port first. Seo Jun, please prepare the gear for everyone. Prepare one week’s worth of supplies and try to make it as light as possible.”
“Alright, there’s no point in procrastinating. We’ll head out tomorrow morning.”
Everyone in the room gulped.
* * *
The expedition group split up to take both the helicopter and fishing boat to get to Incheon Port. The helicopter lured the zombies away from the dock as it flew toward the apartment complex, allowing the fishing boat to safely dock.
“Group one is the assault group. Group two will escort the transport tank while group three stays with the helicopter and group four transports supplies.”
The plan was, once the helicopter group lured the zombies away, group one would cut down any that remained. Group two would protect group four while they moved the supplies. Yohan had assigned Luca and Jae Ho to group three and four because they knew how to operate the helicopter and the fishing boat.
“Fuel is our top priority, followed by food. Toss everything else aside. And if the food we find isn’t worthwhile, we’ll leave it. We’re going to have more stuff than we can carry anyway.”
“Group one seems to be more fun. Can’t we be the assault group?” Sweeper grumbled. He was in charge of group two, which was on escort duty.
“I think you’re the only person in your group that thinks that,” Yohan replied, gesturing to the rest of the group.
Sweeper looked at Saeri, Ji Won, and Jung Eun expectantly, but the three all shook their heads at him.
“Pio, have you spotted the zombies?”
“Yeah, those idiots are all gathered by the gray building in the northeast. They must have ran into a wall while following the helicopter.”
“Ong, Pio, and Verda. Let’s go,” Yohan ordered. He took the lead and ran out while the other three followed behind.
Group one found roughly 40 or 50 zombies gathered together. They were flailing their arms at the helicopter in the sky. Slowly, one by one, the zombies noticed the foursome and turned to walk towards them.
“Ong, support from behind with the crossbow. Verda, take the left, Pio, the right. We’ll push them back bit by bit and clean them up.” Yohan decided to use a more conservative formation. He didn’t know how the new members fared against a large horde of zombies. If someone made a mistake, Corporal Ong would be able to provide backup immediately. Yohan chopped down with his machete and sliced through the temple of the closest zombie in front of them. The rotted skull split wide open and the zombie fell to the floor.
“Hyah!” Verda and Pio shouted energetically as they rushed in to fight the zombies. Verda was still using her wooden staff. Yohan didn’t know why she didn’t use a bladed weapon, but she seemed to be doing fine spearing the zombies with the staff that was as tall as she was.
“Ha!” On the other side, Pio was using a combat knife that he held with just four fingers. There was a spring and a clamp where his thumb was, allowing him to adjust his grip freely. Yohan did some research, trying to figure out what kind of knife it was, but couldn’t find anything. Most likely, it was something that Pio made himself.
The knife was designed for safety and efficiency, making it very effective in a large scale zombie battle. It was easy to carry, could be tightly gripped either way, and allowed the user to stab without expending a lot of energy. Pio moved with practiced ease, showing that he had chosen this weapon for a reason. It suited him well. Like Sweeper’s axe, it wasn’t fancy or heavy, and allowed him to move the way he wanted, turning him into an impressive zombie killing machine. Yohan realized that he didn’t have to worry that Pio lacked fighting experience from being stuck on an island for a long time. Both he and Verda were warriors and the zombie training and simulations they endured under Yohan was enough.
“One last one.”
Verda and Pio killed more zombies than Yohan did on his own. All three of them barely had any blood on them. Their clothes looked so clean that it was difficult to believe that they had just taken out almost 50 zombies. Corporal Ong barely had to provide any support. In the end, he just watched them fight in disbelief. Verda’s wooden staff whistled through the air as it removed the head of the last zombie. Verda produced a wet wipe from her pocket and proceeded to wipe off the blood from her staff.
“Ong, climb up and see where there are more zombies,” Yohan ordered.
“Okay.” Corporal Ong went into the nearby building. Yohan turned to Verda.
“Verda, I think it would be better if you sharpened the end of your staff a bit.” He advised.
“You’re just stabbing it at them most of the time anyways. With a blunt weapon, you need to apply more force to destroy their heads. It’ll take a toll on your body. Is there a problem with sharpening it?” Yohan asked. Verda hesitated. She stared at the floor a bit and mumbled while pacing around. However, Yohan kept his glare on her, pressuring her to answer his question.
“I still want to be able to spar with Pio and stab at his gut with all my strength.”
“…Then just sharpen one side. You can still hit him with the other side.”
“Oh, you’re right.” Verda clapped her hands together.
“Or you can just not hit me.” Pio mumbled, “What are you going to do if you accidentally use the wrong side?”
“Well, we can’t help it then. Just think of it as destiny and die.”
“What did you say, you flat-chested idiot…”
“Who’s the idiot, idiot!”
“I didn’t say idiot. I said flat-chested idiot!”
Yohan sighed and looked away from the two children bickering with each other. He called up to Corporal Ong, who was now high up on the building.
“Ong, do you see anything?”
“I don’t see any large groups of zombies, but I do see some roaming around. Should I take care of them?”
“Yeah,” Yohan replied. Corporal Ong slid back the bolt action on his K-14 sniper rifle and fired a shot. A sharp crack echoed across the port.
‘He must have been itching to do something.’ Yohan mused. Corporal Ong was one of their aces. He must have gotten restless after standing idly by and watching them fight zombies. It was understandable.
— Ω —