After Ha Jin finished patching himself up, he moved the corpse to one side and untied the cloth that had been tied around Jin Soo.
Jin Soo woke up a few moments later. As he glanced around the room, trembling, Ha Jin tried to calm him down.
“…What happened to the enemy?”
Ha Jin pointed to the body. Jin Soo let out a sigh of relief.
“Are you okay chief?” he asked, as he took off his shirt and started wrapping his body with bandages.
“Yeah. Once you’re done let’s head down.”
Ha Jin supported Jin Soo as they made their way down the stairs. The third and first floors had already been cleared out and Sweeper and Hyuk were already taking care of the injured. Verda and Pio rushed to Ha Jin when they saw him.
“Are you okay?”
Ha Jin had been thrown from the third story window and had fought a group of zombies. Then, in an attempt to make it back upstairs to ensure that Jin Soo wouldn’t be killed by the man that had nearly killed him, Ha Jin had sprinted back inside the building and up the stairs, hoping to make it back in time.
However, after blitzing through the room where the injured were being treated, he had unintentionally caused a bit of a panic among his comrades.
From their perspective, they had seen a red person suddenly leap into the room and, thinking that Ha Jin was upstairs, had initially believed the blood-soaked being to be a surprise mutant and had freaked out.
Ha Jin’s lack of explanation did not help matters, either, and he had sprinted up the stairs without a word. It was only a few moments after they had seen the ‘creature’ run off that they had finally put the pieces together and recognized him.
After indicating that he was okay, he approached Yohan. His expression looked serious.
“You’re hurt,” Yohan commented after noticing the state Ha Jin was in. “We know very little about how our immune system works against this sort of thing, so don’t be lax and be careful not to get bitten.”
“I’ll do my best. What about the enemy?”
“We killed seven people and captured one.”
“You don’t look happy about that.”
“There wasn’t a sniper among them.”
Out of all the people they had killed, there hadn’t been a sniper. When Yohan had climbed up to the third floor, he had attacked all seven of the enemies that had been standing at the window.
No snipers had been among them.
“The third-floor window was open.”
“You’re saying they escaped from there?” Ha Jin asked, surprised.
“Maybe. Or they could’ve been at a totally different location in the first place.”
At Yohan’s feet, a survivor was on their knees tied up. The walkie-talkie at his side was repeatedly ringing.
— “Jae Won, what happened? Jae Won.”
The voice from the walkie-talkie was the reason why Yohan was so upset.
“They’re survivors from the Yeouido Camp.”
The voice from the walkie-talkie belonged to Shin Noah. It’d been a while since Yohan had heard his voice. He sounded nervous.
Yohan was seized with complicated feelings.
“What are you going to do now?”
“I’m thinking about it. Let’s take care of the dead first. Pick up Jung Soo. We need to return him to Ji Hye.”
The members could picture Ji Hye’s sad expression after hearing about Jung Soo’s death. She had always smiled brightly at everyone and after thinking about her sad expression, their hearts became heavy.
Yohan just felt numb. Another member had died. However, he felt a stronger emotion as well. Doubt. Uncertainty as well. There was one question that kept repeating itself in his head.
‘How did they know that I was here?’
They had arrived silently after the sun had completely set. Unless they had known beforehand, they couldn’t have reacted so fast. Yohan had one hypothesis in his head, but he really didn’t want to believe it.
“How many people were on this floor?”
“Let’s head up. There’s something I need to check.”
Yohan followed Ha Jin to the second floor. As soon as he saw the person that Ha Jin had killed, his expression became stiff.
‘Lee Jae Won.’
Yohan knew that face.
“Do you know him?” Ha Jin asked with a slightly solemn look.
Yohan didn’t answer. He was possessed by the memories of a different time.
‘You’re very brave and amazing.’
‘I’ll kill all of them. I won’t let any of those damn Seoul Survivor Union bastards live.’
The Lee Jae Won that he remembered had been a brave person. Strong, too. He had fought fiercely against the Seoul Survival Union and he had been one of the last ones standing in the end.
In the fight between his former and current comrades, two people had died. It had been an unnecessary battle and it could have all been avoided. His heart felt so heavy that it felt like it was being crushed.
“No, I don’t know him.”
Yohan gave a short answer and quickly turned around. There wasn’t a need for him to feel unnecessary regret.
When Yohan patted his shoulder, Ha Jin flinched and groaned.
“Hey, I just got hurt there….”
“Your injury is deep. Go to an isolated area and take care of it, just in case. Sweeper, what about Jung Eun?”
“She’s not doing very well.”
Yohan followed Sweeper to the medical office where the injured were getting treated. Eddie’s injury wasn’t deep, but Jung Eun’s injury was pretty bad. She was moaning in pain as her arms and legs were tied up. The bullet had pierced through right below her shoulder. Her intestines weren’t injured, but the bullet had passed through her flesh and muscles and traveled deep enough to scratch the bone. The people that were watching her looked disturbed. Yohan approached her and patted her head.
“Are you okay?”
As soon as she saw him, the tears she’d been holding back were released all at once.
“I don’t wa―”
She tried to speak the words that she’d been holding in. Even though she couldn’t finish, however, Yohan understood her. She didn’t want anyone else to get hurt, die, or for people to fight against each other.
“Rest. Your wounds have been treated, so you’ll be fine.”
Yohan gave a somber look as he bit his lower lip. He had always said that he would take responsibility, but he wasn’t always able to. His duty wasn’t supposed to involve forcing his comrades to their deaths but to safely protect them. But he had never been able to do that. Instead, he was always placing them in dangerous situations.
He was starting to slip. The mentality he had been only barely holding onto was now falling apart and turning into dust.
‘Is there even an end to this fight? Is there hope for mankind?’
Questions like these―ones without clear answers―echoed in his head. Yohan held onto her hand for a while and refused to leave her bedside.
— “Hey. Yongsan Station intruders.”
His old comrade was calling their group. They had missed someone. The one that had run away had reached Shin Noah. Yohan didn’t press the call button and just listened, allowing Noah to continue.
— “Intruders. Answer. I know you’re listening.”
Noah’s voice was calm. He didn’t sound angry. Yohan contemplated what he was going to do if he answered. He didn’t know why Noah was calling them. He might be trying to provoke them to have some sort of psychological battle, but he couldn’t be sure.
After hesitating for a moment, Yohan raised the walkie-talkie.
“This is Yongsan Station.”
— “Copy. Let go of Suk Goo.”
The request was simple. To let go of the survivor they were keeping hostage. Yohan tilted his head to the side. Noah should have known that it was an unreasonable demand to make, so why would he call to make it?
“We can’t do that.”
— “You’re going to regret it.”
“Instead, we’ll let him go after we finish our business. If you care about your comrade’s life, then don’t approach or attack.”
— “If you don’t let him go, we’ll attack immediately. Unless you can kill all of us, you’ll never be able to escape and we’ll put you through hell. We’ll follow you to the end of the world for our revenge.”
Yohan knew that this threat was real. However, he also knew that even if they let go of the hostage, Noah was still going to continue attacking them anyway. Yohan had no idea why he had called.
“If we let him go, are you going to stop attacking us? Can you guarantee our safety?”
The walkie-talkie went quiet for a moment. Then, a voice that was deeper than before spoke next.
— “What do you want?”
“We’re looking for something. We’ll leave quietly after finding it.”
— “Do you have proof that that’s your only goal? And what about your guarantee to let Suk Goo go?”
“I don’t have any. But, I promise you. If you don’t attack us anymore, we’ll find what we’re looking for, let your comrade go, and then quietly leave.”
It may be a fruitless expectation, but Yohan figured it was still worth a shot. They had killed each other’s comrades and all that was left was a fight to the death. Right when he was about to give up, Noah said something unexpected.
— “I don’t believe you.”
“I’m sure you don’t. Because I don’t believe you either.”
— “Let’s meet and talk.”
— “Just the leaders. Let’s open up a negotiation table. Since there are limits to walkie-talkies.”
Yohan tried his best to find out the man’s intentions, but he couldn’t figure them out.
‘He wants to meet me now? Why?’
“…You want to meet and talk?”
“Why would I agree with such a huge risk involved?”
— “I don’t want to lose any more comrades. What about you?”
‘If you didn’t want to lose any comrades, then you shouldn’t have attacked.’
Yohan suppressed these words and, instead, allowed Noah to continue to speak.
— “You and I will meet and calculate the debt and interest we both owe to each other.”
It was a gamble. If he accepted, it would be in an attempt to stop this battle and avoid even more casualties. But he trusted his instincts more than his brain and he recalled the one thing that Noah had always said.
“Would it be okay if I spoke to my team members first?”
— “Go ahead.”
Yohan immediately called for the leaders. He explained that the Yeouido Camp leader wanted to meet him by himself and that he was going to accept Noah’s request.
“So, you’re going to go and meet with him?”
When Ha Jin asked, Yohan had answered with determination.
As expected, the backlash for this was severe.
“That’s ridiculous. Bro. What are you going to do if it’s a trap?”
“Yohan, are you crazy?”
“You can’t, leader.”
Literally, no one agreed. The extreme amount of danger was obvious, after all. If someone else had been in his position and had said that they were going to go by themselves, Yohan would have also disagreed immediately and would have told them that they shouldn’t.
“This isn’t like you to make such a reckless decision, bro.”
Yohan had a bitter smile.
“I’m standing at a crossroad and all I’m doing is making a choice.”
Normally, he would make a decision like this based on clear reason and evidence. But not this time. The reason why he decided to go and meet Noah now was that, just like a written script, everything had just built up to a turning point and there was only one way to resolve everything. To go and meet Noah.
“Are you sure he’s going to be there by himself like he said?”
“I’m not sure. But he’ll definitely come by himself.”
“…What do you mean, bro? I think there’s something wrong with your head right now.”
It would be weird if he was able to think rationally in this situation. Yohan let out a self-deprecating laugh. The people that saw his determined expression either massaged their forehead in frustration or sighed. Jae Ho was the only one among them that hadn’t shared his thoughts on the decision.
“What is it?”
“If you really have to meet him, then there’s something you need to know. I saw something on the way here. There’s a Subway cafe at the Noryangjin transfer passageway, which is located between Yeouido and Yongsan. From there, each of the corners are around 500 meters apart.”
Yohan had a surprised look on his face. Yohan knew that Jae Ho’s attention to detail was extraordinary, but he hadn’t thought that it was good enough for him to remember the exact structure of a building he had only passed by once.
“You have to request to meet there. Additionally, excluding you and Noah, make it so that everyone else is not allowed to enter the inner corner.”
“Okay, I’ll bring it up.”
“And one more thing. Agree to enter, armed.”
“Well, that’s obvious. But what’s your reason for suggesting it?”
“If it comes down to it, you may have to take down the other leader.”
“It’s like you’re guaranteeing that I’m going to win.”
Jae Ho laughed at Yohan’s comment. Yohan nodded his head. If this helped the other members calm down, then there was no reason for him not to do it. Yohan immediately called Noah.
“Are you listening? This is Yongsan.”
“Fifteen minutes from now, from Noryangjin’s Line Nine, transfer to Line One and you’ll see a long passageway. I’ll meet you at the cafe called Subway inside that passageway. Only you and I will enter. The moment someone else enters, it’ll be considered war.”
— “You’re cautious.”
— “Sounds good.”
“See you soon.”
He had agreed without hesitation. The moment Yohan turned off the walkie-talkie, Sweeper grumbled.
“Bro, I really don’t recommend this. How can you negotiate with the people that were trying to kill us a moment ago?”
“I agree with you.”
“How about changing your mind now? Going by yourself is a bit…”
“I’m not going by myself.”
“Everyone get ready. Ask the mercenary group for assistance. We don’t have time so Sweeper will explain the situation to the old man.”
When Yohan spoke, everyone looked more energetic.
“First, send the mercenary group to Noryangjin above ground. As soon as I give the signal, I’ll suppress Shin Noah. You guys will open fire from the front and the mercenary group will attack from behind.”
“And the signal?”
“I’ll press the call button on the walkie-talkie twice. If I think the negotiation will end favorably instead… I’ll say something out loud.”
The members nodded their heads.
Shin Noah was too predictable and straightforward. That was the nature of his personality. He wasn’t the type to place traps or be sly. That’s why, despite having the power and charisma, Gae Baek Jung always got to him. And Yohan knew this weakness of his better than anyone.
“While I’m gone, Sweeper will be the leader.”
Right now, Yohan was planning on backstabbing a comrade. It was his responsibility to avoid any more victims on his side.
— Ω —