* * *
Group three, which consisted of Hyuk, Luca, Jung Soo, and Eddie, was in the helicopter as it flew past the port and hovered far away. Zombies had followed them, looking like a never ending sea of undead threatening to drown them.
“Mr. Luca, I’m going to open the door for a moment,” Hyuk said. He opened the door and took a shot with his rifle. A gunshot rang out, loud and clear over the howls of the zombies and the sound of the helicopter’s rotor. A bullet pierced through the head of a zombie.
“Wow, impressive.” Eddie and Jung Soo expressed admiration at Hyuk’s ability to kill a zombie from such a distance.
“Is it okay to just shoot like that?” Luca asked, turning his head to look. Hyuk nodded.
“It’s fine. Yohan tasked us with luring the zombies away as far as possible.”
Hyuk didn’t know if the sound of the helicopter was enough, so he fired his rifle to attract more zombies. Additionally, he didn’t want to miss a chance to essentially shoot fish in a barrel. He braced the butt of his rifle against his right shoulder and took aim once again.
Meanwhile, groups two and four had made it to the oil refinery. The building was completely empty. Any zombies that had been inside were lured away by the helicopter.
“Jeez, what is that?”
As they walked around the building, they noticed some zombie corpses behind some containers. They were covered with oil. The group examined one of the containers and frowned. It seemed that the refinery was still running when it was abandoned. Zombies were attracted by the sound of the machinery and dove into the containers.
Group two stood on guard while group four started looting anything that looked useful. Jae Ho took the lead in organizing the supplies while Ha Jin skillfully operated a one-ton forklift to move everything. He used his good hand to drive the forklift around and grab the fuel containers that were stored on high shelves.
“All barrels labelled JP-8 should be moved over there. If you see F-76, MF, or MDO, please put them all together. The ones labelled HO, Heavy Oil, G, or Gasoline, please bring them here. Oh, also grab one barrel of bunker fuel.”
Jae Ho was mindful that he didn’t sound too bossy. Ha Jin diligently fulfilled his requests and stacked the various fuel containers on one side of the warehouse. While it would have been better to take fuel that was already properly mixed together, they could still mix things themselves if there wasn’t enough fuel. Thus, they organized everything they could find. One by one, the fuel containers were sorted and moved to the docks. Despite the cool breeze blowing in from the sea, everyone was sweating from the labor.
“This is going to take a while.”
If they were on land, it wouldn’t have been an issue since they could usually find a vehicle to help them move everything. However, not only did they have to manually move the containers to the docks, the fishing boat itself had limited capacity. It would require several trips to get everything.
“Yohan, it’s Ha Jin.”
— “What’s wrong?”
“I think it’s going to take longer than expected. Is that okay?”
— “How long?”
“Hm, four to five hours?”
— “One second.”
There was a pregnant pause on the walkie-talkie as Yohan contemplated what four to five hours implied. The problem was the helicopter. How long could it stay in the air and continue to lure the zombies away?
— “Fly around in a wide circle and land somewhere safe. Somewhere far away from here. Then stand by for further instructions.”
— “Got it.”
— “Group two and four, don’t overextend yourselves. Take it slow. We’ll keep the zombies off of you as much as possible.
“Okay, confirmed.” Ha Jin smiled, reassured by Yohan’s confidence. He switched off the walkie-talkie and relayed the plan to the other members in his group. “We can take it slow. Yohan said not to overexert ourselves. Be mindful of back injuries, lift with your legs.”
“Our front line and bait group are handling things so well. It’ll be pretty empty here. How about we have So Hee and Jung Eun stay on guard and the men can focus on moving the containers?”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘the men’?”
“…Do you want to die?” Saeri swung her fists at Sweeper. Sweeper held her off with one arm as he and Ha Jin continued their conversation nonchalantly.
“That would be great.”
“Bros, come here. Let’s help out.” Sweeper let Saeri get one hit in and commented that she was strong enough to help move the containers. Saeri glared at him, but went to help out anyway.
So far, the expedition was going pretty well. Thanks to their meticulous and cautious strategy, things were progressing smoothly. The only hiccup was when Jae Ho was looking for some food supplies and opened a door to an unexplored room. A zombie that had been locked inside came out and almost bit Jae Ho, but So Hee, who always had her bow and arrow ready, put an arrow in the zombie’s head. Aside from that, things were going smoothly.
Of course, Yohan wasn’t happy with even one hiccup. When he heard about it, he glared at Jae Ho. But then, he just sighed and patted Jae Ho on the shoulder.
“It’s easy to get careless when you’re tired.”
Jae Ho had a skinny frame and he was doing hard labor. Anyone could see that his clothes were completely drenched in sweat.
“Good job everyone. Let’s head back.”
The recon team returned to Sindo and got some well-earned rest. The next morning, they geared up again and headed back to the mainland. They immediately started doing a preliminary survey. Unlike the day before, where they had the helicopter act as a lure for the zombies, they were going to do some real exploration today in dangerous areas. All the recon team members had looks of determination and nervousness on their faces.
“Let’s head out. We’re going to Cheongra and Songdo first, so find a vehicle. Scooters or motorcycles would be best. Once we all have a ride, we’re going to take them to the Bupyeong office.”
* * *
Yohan smiled as a familiar face greeted him at the Bupyeong office. He hadn’t seen Jung Mi and the mercenaries in a long time and they had gathered at the Bupyeong office to see them.
“It’s been a while.”
“You haven’t been answering my calls for so long and now you think it’s okay to just barge in and show up like this without notice?”
“I told them to let you know. Did you not receive our message?”
“There’s a thing called rank, kid. Rank. It doesn’t count if we get a message from a little girl, you bastard. You should’ve told me yourself, right?” The old man sounded angry, but he definitely didn’t look that way. Ha Jin and Sweeper greeted Chul Goo, who was standing behind the old man.
“Wow bro, have you been well?”
“Of course. Jeez guys. You guys look good.”
As the elite combatants shook hands and chatted like old friends, Yohan noticed that the streets around them were really well organized.
‘They must’ve worked really hard.’
“Why aren’t you using Bupyeong City Hall as your main camp?”
“Oh, that. I don’t like that area. Besides, it’s being used. All the new women from the family association are sent there. Miss Kim came just to see you.”
“Is that so? It’s been a while, Jung Mi.”
“Yeah. Have you been doing well, Yohan?” Jung Mi replied, with a bit of awkwardness and giddiness. The old man chuckled and gave Yohan a wink.
“It’s been a while since we’ve all got together. How about a beer later?”
“I’ll pass. We’re going to head out soon.”
“You cold-hearted bastard. Okay, let’s head in for now. Don’t want zombies to get a whiff of our pheromones or what have you.”
“Sure.” Yohan made sure he properly greeted everyone before he followed the old man towards the mercenary’s main camp.
He was lost in thought for a bit and almost didn’t recognize Gap Soo and the other people who were once part of his camp a long time ago. Yohan met their eyes and greeted them out of habit.
“It’s been a while.”
Instead of answering back, Gap Soo looked at the old man. Only after the old man nodded his head did Gap Soo reply.
“It’s been…a while.” Gap Soo said, hesitantly. It was clear that he had endured some discipline. His entire body looked swollen and his face was a bit sullen, as if he had lost weight. “The other camp people…”
“Hey, don’t interrupt a conversation between two leaders. Just greet him and be on your way.”
“Yes, I’m sorry,” Gap Soo apologized immediately.
Yohan was surprised. The old man did say that he was going to ‘rehabilitate’ people, but the result was still astounding. All the people that had caused Yohan headaches in the past were now working diligently. The only thing they did was steal nervous glances at the two leaders.
“Out of all the kids you gave me, his skills were the best. However, his personality wasn’t great. I had to put in a lot of work to correct his behavior.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the child, as they say.”
Yohan gave the old man a bittersweet smile. He didn’t feel bad about his former camp members, nor did he think their fate was unfortunate. No doubt, they were now living in regret, thinking about how lucky they were back when they were still with Yohan. Even though the mercenary camp was pretty decent, they would probably never get to enjoy the full extent of its amenities. Of course, it went without saying that Yohan’s camp was paradise compared to this one. The old man led Yohan to his office and poured him a cup of tea.
“When you trade with a Chinese company, it’s polite for the owner himself to serve his client some tea. It’s like speaking from the heart.”
“Smell nice,” Yohan complimented. The old man smiled.
“I know you’re not here to ask me out on a date. So, what’s going on?” The old man got to the point right away, so Yohan didn’t beat around the bush either.
“There’s something I want.”
“So it’s a trade. Good, what do you need?”
“Documents on how to operate a warship. Doesn’t matter if it’s a textbook, manual, or classified documents,” Yohan replied. The old man frowned. It definitely wasn’t what he was expecting. He had no idea what Yohan was up to.
“Did you rob the navy?”
“Something like that.”
“Amazing bastard. That’s huge! Do you want to be my adopted son?”
“So, can you get the documents?”
“As usual, you only say what you want to say,” the old man grumbled. Yohan laughed heartily. “I can’t get you military documents, kid. Who knows where to find them? Well, if we wanted to, we could, but it’s too much of a risk. Tell me, what do you have to trade for it?”
“I’ll give you a ride on a helicopter.”
“Eat shit, you bastard.” The old man clenched his fist. Yohan could hear him squeezing his fingers tight from across the table.
“I’m joking. I’ll give you important intel.”
“How important is it?”
“You won’t survive without it,” Yohan replied, firmly. A silence lingered in the air as the old man studied Yohan’s face. Finally, he leaned back on his chair.
“I decline. No matter how I think about it, it’s not worth it.”
“Is that so? Then, can I ask a question? For free, of course.”
“You already knew I wouldn’t agree in the first place, didn’t you? Okay, what’s your question?”
“Do you happen to know if there are any naval bases or military facilities nearby? We don’t have any information about them, so we were planning to go to the National Library of Korea.”
“The Northwest Islands Defense Command is in Hwasung. The joint chiefs of staff are in Yongsan. I’m 100 percent certain of it. Why are you going to the library? Are you going to read? I thought you were smart, but I guess I was wrong.”
Yohan silently cursed Jae Ho under his breath, but committed the information that the old man gave him to his memory.
“Thank you for the information.”
“Jeez, I’m dying to know what you’re up to,” the old man complained. A sly smile appeared on Yohan’s face.
“Is that so? Well, let’s trade then.”
“No deal. Just give me a hint, I answered your question.”
“A disaster that no one can stop is coming.”
“Hm…a disaster, you say.” The old man leaned back and thought hard. However, Yohan knew he would never be able to guess.
“If you’re curious, follow us to the library and the naval bases. You don’t have to do any fighting, but if we get in a bind, give us your support.”
“You want to use us as insurance, huh? I guess the intel could be worth doing that.”
“If you don’t get the intel, you’ll regret it,” Yohan said. The old man knew that Yohan wasn’t the type to say things lightly. He had met a lot of people, but he had never met such a character. If Yohan said it was an unstoppable disaster, then that was exactly what it was. It was apparently something that he had to rob the navy for.
“Okay. Here’s the deal. We’ll stand back and provide back up if a dangerous situation arises. In return, you’ll give us intel that we cannot live without. Agreed?”
“Yes. One more thing, though. If you guys are in danger, we won’t be able to help you.”
“Don’t be. That’s why I like you.” The old man clasped his hand on Yohan’s shoulder. “Okay. I haven’t regretted trading with you in the past. We’ll be your insurance. Go for it.”
— Ω —