“This is the charging station.”
Yohan’s group was taken to where all the electric skateboards were being charged. The charging station consisted of a simple generator and a car battery. There was a wide variety of skateboards, indicating that they had been acquired from different sources. Though some effort had been made to clean them, they could still see faint traces of blood on the vehicles. They looked like blood soaked racehorses, painting a grim picture of what Yeon Hee’s camp members had gone through.
Yohan’s group took the skateboards out onto the schoolyard to practice riding around on them. It wasn’t difficult, but some members didn’t have good balance and fell repeatedly.
“Sorry Yohan.” They said, with a look of disappointment.
“Don’t worry, I was originally thinking that we would be going by bicycle anyways.”
Bicycles were a decent mode of transportation, the only downside being the physical exertion needed to operate them. However, even though they required manpower, they were 100 times better than using an electric skateboard if you couldn’t do it safely and reliably.
“Jung Eun, it’ll be better if you rode a bike.” Yohan decided.
“Okay…” Jung Eun whimpered, feeling singled out. However, more people were added to the bike rider list as Yohan immediately told anyone who looked uneasy or stumbled even a little bit to grab a bike instead.
“You might break your ankle if you’re not used to the skateboard.” Yohan explained, trying to comfort the bike riders. Suddenly, he noticed a thick scent of blood wafting in from the direction of Seoul.
Moments later a loud gunshot could be heard originating from the east. All the zombies roaming around the streets outside turned their heads towards the sound and began moving towards it.
“That’s the signal. You can head out now.” One of Yeon Hee’s camp members told Yohan.
“Yes, thank you.”
“Ms. Yeon Hee wanted me to tell you to take care of yourself and that she hopes that your greatest wish really will come true.”
“Please tell her thank you.”
Yeon Hee was considerate through and through, Yohan mused. It was uncomfortable receiving so much one-sidedly. He saluted the Chunhyang camp member, who had been his friendly guide throughout their stay, and organized his group.
“Group one will take the lead. Group two take the left, group three will be on the right, and group four will cover the rear. Kill any zombies you see as we move forward. If you see a horde, call for backup.” Yohan ordered.
The recon team groups moved out in formation. Soon, the metropolis known as Seoul enveloped the skateboard and bicycle riding survivors. The uncomfortable feeling that someone was watching them sent shivers down their back.
* * *
“Three zombies in the front.” Yohan called out.
Pio and Verda slid forward and quickly decapitated one zombie each at the throat before falling back into formation again. Corporal Ong fired a crossbow bolt that zipped through the air and pierced through the third zombie’s forehead. After taking out the zombies, they followed Yohan to the edge of the road. Strike fast and then conceal your presence. Ever since they left Sindo, this had been their primary tactic. Thus far, they haven’t encountered any signs of other survivors. However, compared to the area near Sinwol IC, there were a lot more zombies here.
Sometimes it was just one or two and other times they would come across groups as large as 10 zombies. Whenever this happened, Yohan would stop the recon team and only move forward after they had taken care of the zombies.
“Zombie in the front.”
Pio zigzagged his skateboard forward again and sliced through another zombie’s throat. His ability to maneuver the electric skateboard was just as impressive as his normal physical movements.
‘He’s amazing.’ Yohan thought to himself. However, his external expression was as cool as the breeze in the air.
The electric skateboard was performing fantastically. In the previous timeline, their main mode of transportation was the bicycle. It had its downsides, but the ability to move quietly was paramount. The only downside of the electric skateboard was that they needed to recharge it with electricity. Other than that, it had great utility. It barely required any physical energy to stand on it while moving, it was easy to get on and off of it, and, once people got used to it, they could even fight zombies with one hand while moving. This last point was its greatest merit.
“Mr. Yohan, there’s a group of zombies in the alleyway to the right. Seriously, there’s a lot.” Verda reported. She had been scouting ahead at their possible routes. Yohan peeked carefully into the alleyway and confirmed the information. There were easily over 100 zombies there, covering the entire route to the subway station.
“Stay on the opposite side of the road. Let’s try to pass them as quietly as possible.”
They weren’t planning to go that way anyways, there was no need to attract the attention of so many zombies. Yohan’s skateboard hummed as they started to move again. As they passed the opening of the alleyway, a few zombies came out and started following them, but it was a small number. They managed to reach Yeoui One bridge, the entryway to Nodeul-ro, relatively safely.
“I see the Yeouido bridge ahead of us.” Yohan whispered into his walkie-talkie.
Nodeul-ro was the next step in their journey and it was right in front of them. However, the illusion of peace and safety was shattered as soon as they entered Nodeul-ro, like a rock going through a window.
“Group of zombies in the front.”
Yohan ordered the group to stop. There were 500, maybe 600, zombies based on what he could see. There were easily more hidden from sight. The layout of the terrain was unfavorable to them. The entire place was open and there were a lot of buildings nearby. Any commotion could potentially draw out more zombies. There was no way that the four of them could break through. It would be difficult even if the entire recon team was here.
Yohan found a safe hideout in a nearby hotel lobby and radioed the rest of the recon team. Soon, the other groups that were tailing them entered the hotel.
“Let’s check on the road conditions and then head out together.” Yohan ordered the recon team to secure the area while he went up to the roof of the building. It was important to get an accurate grasp of the situation before doing anything.
Yohan climbed up to the 10th floor and pushed on the broken door handle to gain access to the roof. He immediately noticed a nearby corpse riddled with bullet wounds. Yohan crushed the corpse’s head, just to be safe, and then calmly went over to the edge of the roof and pulled out his binoculars. He was able to see all the roads from here.
‘…It’s not going to be easy.’
There were zombies everywhere, spread out across all the possible routes they could take. It was to the extent that Yohan felt disgusted with fate. From the entrance of the overpass to the underground tunnels and all the flat roads in between, there wasn’t a spot that wasn’t filled with zombies. The undead roamed around, occasionally trying to break through car windows. There were even some in the river bank, struggling to get back to shore. Yohan lowered his binoculars and looked at the entire area overall.
What greeted him 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 he saw was a faded shell of that.
“What the f—” The rest of the recon team came up to the roof after cleaning up the surrounding area. Once they saw the situation within Seoul, their jaws dropped. Sweeper swore without hesitation.
Whether it was Nodeul-ro or the side streets, everything was littered with zombies. There wasn’t a spot unblemished by the undead. How many were there? 500? 1000?
“This…no matter how I think about it, it’s too dangerous.”
“Bro, why is it only this backside that is filled with zombies?”
“I told you, there were a lot of fights in Yeouido. They were probably pulled here from different places.”
Sweeper nodded his head. Most of the zombies were looking towards the north.
“Are there no other paths? What about the route that gae Baek Jung took?”
“The zombies must have migrated since then. Besides, if you’re on a motorcycle, it’s not hard to get away from the zombies.”
“I guess, that bisexual bro never cared about the noise they made anyways.”
“He probably even blared his horn in order to try to get survivors to jump out.” Yohan added, smirking.
“What should we do? Should we fight?”
“No. Not only is it dangerous, it would make us stick out like a sore thumb. We’ll have to try the alleyway instead.”
The alleyway wasn’t any better, zombie-wise. However, it was harder for other survivors to ambush them there while they were fighting the zombies.
“Ugh, in this situation,” Jae Ho said, thoughtfully, “I don’t think it matters where we go. How about we head straight to the subway now? There’s the Yeongdeungpo Market station underground about two blocks from here. We should be okay if we take Line One from Singil station.”
Yohan tapped on his chin thoughtfully after hearing Jae Ho’s suggestion. It wasn’t a bad idea. Finally, he nodded his head.
“Hm, great. There are zombies on that side of the alleyway, around 300 of them. Let’s save some electricity on our skateboards and walk there. It’s not far, about six stops away.”
Yohan scavenged around the hotel reception desk and found the master key. He used it to open a random room and the recon team stored their skateboards in there.
“Room 207. Room 207.” Jae Ho muttered, committing it to memory. Yohan smiled to himself. It was good having another smart person in the group. It certainly made things easier.
They called the mercenaries on the radio and shared the new plan with them. Afterwards, they left the hotel and backtracked for about five minutes until their path was blocked by a group of zombies.
“Get ready to fight. Breakthrough formation.” Yohan ordered.
All 16 recon team members organized themselves into a practiced formation. The eight strongest fighters stood in the front, forming a curved line. Four more members provided support at the mid-range and the last four covered the rear, cleaning up any zombies behind them. It was the formation they used when trying to breakthrough to a specific destination.
Yohan gave the non-verbal signal. They could see almost 200 zombies before them. Once they start fighting, these zombies will no doubt howl and attract more zombies. However, they weren’t that far away from the subway station. They should be able to break through easily.
‘Start with a ranged attack.’
Yohan signalled again and the four mid-range supports fired their arrows. The zombies finally noticed the survivors and started growling as they approached them. The focus of hundreds of gray-white eyes all staring at them at the same time made a few members tremble. There was a clear difference in the pressure generated by a horde versus a single zombie. Even seasoned veterans balked at the terrible sight. It was no surprise that more than a few them got goosebumps.
The undead made their way towards them, bits and pieces of flesh falling off as they moved, making a few members wonder if they were just having a bad dream. Some of the zombies limped on blood shod stumps. Some had the flesh around their lips completely rotted away, revealing the sickly white of their clenched teeth. Some had open gut wounds, with their intestines spilling out. The stench of rot was in the air, it was enough to make them gag on their own vomit.
Some of the zombies were especially rotten. They could see flies flittering around them and maggots writhing across their skin. Some of the recon team members wondered if they would get infected just touching the zombies. It was hard to believe that, just a few months ago, these were all living, breathing, human beings. No matter how many times they had faced this reality, they just couldn’t get used to the sight.
‘Melee combatants, move in.’
Yohan signaled yet again. The eight front line fighters gripped their weapons tightly and moved in to engage the zombies. Not a word was traded as the sound of stabbing, slashing, and cutting filled the air. It was a one-sided affair, but the battle that the recon team faced was not against the zombies, but against mental and physical fatigue.
As they killed the zombies, the undead shrieks called more zombies in to replace them. Soon, they lost sight of their goal. There seemed to be no end to the fight, but they had to push onwards. Meanwhile, zombies just kept on coming in from some unknown source.
The more they swung their weapons, the more they got into the zone. Soon, even the thoughts of fear and nausea left them. Yohan supervised his fighters carefully, micro managing their mental and physical stamina.
“Fix the formation. Sweeper and Ha Jin, slow down. Eddie, move faster.”
Yohan also watched over the formation, giving quick, short orders to keep the front line fighters focused and make it impossible for zombies to sneak past them and attack the midrange supports. Under his command, they maintained a tight semi-circular formation. It was easy for anyone to drop their guard once they’ve become too exhausted. Just one flaw in the formation could lead to the death of the entire group.
“Eddie, go to the middle. If you see anyone getting tired, switch with them.” Yohan called out as he reloaded his crossbow.
So Hee’s addition to the recon team was a huge help. Unlike others, who hesitated because they were scared of shooting an ally, So Hee confidently fired her bow whenever someone was in danger. She was more amazing than Yohan had expected.
“Ji Won, Jung Soo, switch.”
Ji Won, Jung Soo, and Eddie weren’t used to fighting, but they were putting up a courageous effort. However, they were still depleting their stamina too fast and looked uneasy, as if they were walking on a tightrope. Jung Hwan definitely left a big hole to be filled. If it was Yohan, Sweeper, Ha Jin, Saeri, Hyuk, and Jung Hwan, the six of them would’ve easily been able to perform the role that the eight front line fighters were struggling to perform right now.
The mid A-rank survivor was sorely missed, but Yohan tried not to dwell on it too much. Still, he couldn’t help but imagine how the situation would be, if his faithful comrade was still here. Yohan squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, forcing himself to regain focus.
“Eddie, switch again!”
— Ω —