The old man extended his hand and Yohan shook it. Afterward, the old man stretched his arms.
“We should prepare to head out then.”
“Do you need to make preparations?”
“Of course, kid. Seoul has the most zombies and survivors. One does not simply walk in there, especially when there are a lot of people like us out there,” the old man said, with a serious look on his face. However, he knew that Yohan already knew this.
The combat power of Yohan’s group was far above any other group in old man’s recent experience. Even though they had less than 20 people, they were by far the strongest he had ever seen. Yet, in spite of all that, Yohan was still asking the old man for additional support and insurance in case of an emergency. Yohan was just that cautious and meticulous. Not only that, Yohan also had guts. The old man looked at Yohan with satisfaction as he pulled out his walkie-talkie.
“Chul Goo, are you there?”
— “Yes I am, old man.”
“Come in,” whe old man said. He then turned to Yohan. “Kid, I’m going to give a briefing on our plan. If there is anyone else that needs to hear it, call them in.”
“Oh, okay.” Yohan pulled out his own walkie-talkie and called for Sweeper, Ha Jin, Hyuk, Jae Ho, and Luca.
“You called, old man?” Chul Goo was the first to arrive.
“Start preparations to go to Seoul. Pick out around 10 kids who can fight.”
“Are you going too?”
Chul Goo frowned, looking displeased. The people that Yohan called for entered the room.
“Three generals and two soldiers. It’s a good balance.” The old man laughed, seeing who Yohan called in. Everyone looked at the old man in confusion, but he ignored them. “Okay kids, I’ll give you two pieces of information. Also, little leader, this information is included in our deal.”
“Okay, go ahead.” Yohan nodded. The old man gave him a knowing smile.
“First is our route. You guys may already have a route planned, but the safest way to get to Yongsan from here is what I’m about to tell you.”
“Wait, Yongsan?” Jae Ho awked.
“Yeah. We’re going to visit the Joint Chiefs of Staff first. Only then can we go to the National Library of Korea.”
“Oh, the Joint Chiefs…there’s that too. You’re right.” Jae Ho nodded, thoughtfully. He had been so focused on the navy that he didn’t think about the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who outranked the navy.
“We’ll take the Gyeongin Expressway to the Sinwol IC base. This is where one of our trade clients is located. We’ll travel by electric skateboards.”
“Yeah. We have to be as quiet as possible. If it’s fully charged, it’s enough for a round trip since it’s only around 80km. After that, we’ll pass through Nodeul-ro and go to the Singil Station R Park. That’s the second pit stop. We’ll leave our belongings there and then travel by foot. We’ll walk over Wonhyo bridge and go to Yongsan station. We’ll have to avoid traveling above ground.”
The open streets were dangerous. In order to survive, people were going into deeper and darker places. It was better to go from building to building via parkour or travel underground through the subway tunnels.
“Honestly, the most dangerous part of the journey is the subway tunnel from Singil station to Yongsan station. There are zombies, but more importantly, it’s the Yeouido camp’s stronghold.”
Yohan wanted to say something, but didn’t know if it was the right time. ‘Should I reveal to the old man that I’m from another timeline?’
“For now, we’ll take the lead going to Sinwol IC. I’ll introduce you to my client there. After that, you guys are on your own. We’ll follow behind you, roughly an hour back.”
“Sounds good.” Yohan agreed without hesitation. The plan was clear and concise.
“The other bit of information is about the survivor groups that could be a threat.” The old man drew three circles on the map of Seoul. “First is the Yeouido camp. While Gae Baek Jung amassed his power, they also obtained a lot of combatants. The leader of the camp is an exceptional kid and there are a lot of talented people there. It’s a major camp. My client lost a fight against them and was forced to move down to Sinwol-dong.”
“Their territory is pretty big.”
“Use the Yeouido subway, it’s connected to Yongsan.”
“There’s probably a Gremlin in the tunnels.”
“They had some fights, but it looks like they’ve cleared it out,” the old man explained. Yohan nodded. The old man continued. “Next is a camp in Guro. I don’t know what it’s like right now, but there were way too many people there last I checked.”
“When was that?”
“Over a month ago.”
‘A month in Seoul is enough time for a camp to be destroyed.’
“Last is the Seoul Sports Complex.”
“Is the Jamshil shelter still around?”
“Do you know them?”
“Isn’t part of the Capital Defense Command in that camp? With armored units stationed in Paju?”
“You’re right. It’s the only remaining military shelter in Seoul.”
“Honestly, I think they’re struggling because they’ve been attacked so much.”
Yohan recalled that they had planned to leave Seoul via the Han River, but the passengers on the ship turned into zombies. There were a lot of people split between two bases and the two generals leading the bases had a disagreement, which led to the fall of the camp as a whole.
“The most important thing is to avoid gunfights in the city. Just one shot will attract thousands of zombies. Remember that well. There are still thousands of zombies around every corner in Seoul.”
Everyone felt exhausted already.
“We should’ve just gone to Daejeon or Jinhae instead.”
“We don’t know how much time we have though. We have to move forward with the plan we have. Do your best and have no regrets.”
“I guess that means you’re good with the plan. Let’s get going kids.”
Yohan’s group and the mercenaries headed out. The mercenaries led the way and communicated via walkie-talkie, allowing them to avoid encounters with zombies. They arrived at their first stop, Camp Chunhyang, which consisted of Goriul Elementary and Shinwon Elementary near Seoul Lake Park. The camp consisted entirely of combatants and didn’t have any production supports or technicians, which is why they often needed to trade.
The camp leader was Shin Yeon Hee, a middle-aged woman in her 40s. She had a strong, sturdy body that drew looks of admiration. However, the general mood and atmosphere in the camp was gloomy. Many people had lost an arm or a leg and were lying down on their own, completely isolated. Hopelessness was etched on most people’s faces.
“You look well, old man.”
“It’s been a while Chunhyang Mamma.”
“Jeez, I told you not to call me by that name.”
“How’s your daughter?”
“She is doing well.”
“Call her. I want to see her pretty face.”
“I don’t think that’s something you should say to a mother.”
“Please ask Hyo Jung to come say hi.”
Hyo Jung turned out to truly be a dazzling beauty. If it was another time, she easily could have been a celebrity.
“Ah, my Chunhyang is getting prettier every day.”
“Why do you call me that?” Hyo Jung asked, her cheeks turning a shade of red.
“That old man is at it again,” Yeon Hee grumbled.
“Are you surviving okay?” Yohan asked.
“Ah, it feels nice to have a young man worry about me. We’re fine. We’re lacking a bit in food, but we can endure it. We can still get water from the lake and the 119 Fire Station. However, after we take care of these people for a bit, we’re probably going to head out. I was thinking about going to Bupyeong, where the old man is located, but we don’t want to be a burden.”
Yeon Hee looked Yohan over from head to toe.
“I was curious what you were like after hearing the old man talk about you so much. You’re just as he described. I feel like I liked you the moment I saw you.”
“Leader…” Jae Ho whispered from behind Yohan.
“I was just wondering about something. If Seoul really is dangerous, why do people stay here instead of leaving?” Jae Ho asked. Yohan thought it was a good question.
“Well, I’m sure they have their reasons. Look at the people here, what do you sense?”
“Hm…” Jae Ho pondered the question for a moment before answering. “Their faces…they look hopeless.”
“It’s a normal feeling to have. Every day you’re living in the apocalypse and people are dying all around you. People don’t know what to do. They have to risk their lives just to get enough supplies to extend their lives for another day.”
“They don’t have a future. They’re only living today because they didn’t die yet.”
It was impossible to expect people to leave Seoul when they barely had enough to eat today. It was too much of a luxury. Surviving in a well stocked city like Seoul was hard enough. This sentiment was clear on the faces of the camp members. It reminded Yohan of the mall camp before he arrived. Jae Ho realized at this moment that Yohan was something special.
“I don’t mind lending you the skateboards, but, I don’t think it’s a good idea to go into Seoul.”
“How did you manage to escape?” Yohan asked.
“Shin Noah, the leader of the Yeouido camp is, how should I say it…he’s extremely conservative. When Gae Baek Jung was going around and destroying camps, Noah’s camp bunkered down and only protected themselves. Our camp was in the way of Gae Baek Jung and we acted as a wall for them.”
“After Gae Baek Jung died in his expedition against you,” the old man said, “Shin Noah swept away all the remnants of his faction here. However, when we didn’t want to officially join him, he became hostile to us.”
Yohan knew that Noah was just that was the type of person. He valued loyalty above all else. If Yeon Hee had agreed to hold hands with Shin Noah’s camp, they would have been enjoying a much better life than the one they were experiencing right now.
“We would like to avoid fighting with the Yeouido Camp as much as possible,” Yeon Hee said.
“We have to avoid it,” Yohan replied. “I can tell how strong you are, but it’s best to just avoid conflict. Meanwhile, about Gae Baek Jung…”
If Gae Baek Jung had still been up to his old tricks, there should still be one of his spies in the Yeouido Camp right now. With Gae Baek Jung dead, the spy might have switched allegiance, but there was only one way to find out for sure. If he wanted to go, Yohan knew he had to go alone. Noah was friendly toward individuals, but tended not to talk openly with groups. He was the cautious type. In this way, he influenced Yohan’s character significantly. In fact, it was easier to say that they were simply compatible with each other.
Yohan’s group entered Nodeul-ro. What greeted them was a gray city filled with zombies. Seoul was a city in central east Asia that had experienced remarkable growth and glory in the recent years, but now all they saw was a faded shell of that.
— Ω —