* * *
Singil Station – Mercenary Soldier Camp
About 15 minutes before clashing with the Yeouido Camp, the old man was passing through Singil Station. Even though he had told them that he wouldn’t be participating in the fight, everything had changed after hearing that Yohan had been captured. He was anxious. It had been a long time since he had met a kid that he actually liked, so he didn’t want to see him die in vain. So he had reneged on his previous promise of only providing some support and prepared to take a far more active role in the upcoming battle.
“Hey guys, bring it out here,” the old man ordered. In response, two people pulled out a dolly that was carrying a giant machine gun. He had obtained the weapon from the previous battle against one of the leaders from the Seoul Survivor Union and had decided to fix it to a dolly so that it could be easily moved around.
Walking up to the dolly, the old man started stroking the weapon in a loving manner, as if it were his mistress. Satisfied, he ordered the mercenary group to move out. From Singil Station they moved past Line One to Noryangjin before entering the subway station.
— “The platform is clear.”
“Great. Let’s continue. We’ll go outside and move towards Line Nine.”
The group went outside and crossed an overpass before entering Line Nine subway station. There were a few groups of zombies roaming the area, but they were taken care of with ease. They continued forward without any trouble.
“Scout ahead. If anyone is blocking our path, take them out.”
“Okay,” Chul Goo confidently replied.
Chul Goo and his underlings swiftly entered the subway. The mercenary group’s main unit followed behind them three minutes later.
— “Two in the front have been cleared. But, old man, there are a lot of guards,” Chul Goo said, concerned.
— “Yes, sir?”
“Did I ever teach you to whine?”
— “…No, sir.”
“Then shut up and take them all out.”
After being given the order, Chul Goo used his crossbow to take down two guards. He fired two bolts, each of which struck their target in the neck causing both guards to fall to the ground, choking on their own blood. Chul Goo then moved forward and proceeded to ruthlessly hunt down every remaining guard in the area. As the ace of the mercenary group, his combat skills far exceeded those of his enemy.
After finishing off all the guards, Chul Goo returned to the group. The old man pat him on the back as if Chul Goo were his grandson.
Chul Goo’s countenance lit up like the sun. He loved getting compliments from the old man and he reacted to them in the same way that a puppy would upon being praised by its master.
“Our newer members will act as guards. Pair up and protect our backs from the zombies. Chul Goo and the elites will go clear out the enemy. The rest of you watch the ticketing gate and take out anyone that tries to escape that way.”
“Yes, sir,” Gap Soo replied.
After hearing the old man’s order, two men pulled the dolly to the front. Chul Goo was standing next to the old man and stretched himself out for a few moments before finally changing the magazine on the machine gun and setting it up. The old man increased the volume on his walkie talkie so that he could hear it more easily if someone happened to call him over it. This proved to be great timing because the moment he did, he received a call.
— “Old man, are you ready?”
“Preparations complete, kid.”
— “Roger. Please start.”
“Do we just need to kill everyone we see?”
— “We’ll grab the leader, so you don’t have to worry about keeping anyone alive. You can shoot to your heart’s content.”
“Fantastic. The way you talk is the same as your leader and I like it.”
“Okay, let’s get started shall we?” the old man announced to the people around him.
After a few moments, they suddenly started hearing gunshots in the distance. The old man started walking towards the sound, knowing that the inside of the subway station was going to get incredibly chaotic in the coming minutes.
— “Old man, there are a lot of enemies below. I think it’s the main group.”
“Okay. Let’s go, then.”
Chul Goo looked down the passageway where the lines transferred from Line Nine to Line One and noticed survivors running about below the stairs. He raised his submachine gun and immediately opened fire. He sprayed the guards with a volley of bullets and this proved to be enough of a distraction for the old man to get the dolly in position.
“O-over there!” one of the survivors shouted, pointing at the mounted machine gun. He tried to take aim at it but was not fast enough.
The old man rolled up his sleeves and stepped onto the dolly. He smirked and held down the trigger. With a tremendous roar, the machine gun started firing. Bullet casings rained down to the ground like a waterfall and the remaining guards fell like dominoes.
A few of the smarter enemies managed to avoid being pinned down and managed a surprisingly aggressive counterattack.
“Not bad,” the old man said, praising their ability to retain some semblance of organization in the chaos.
During an unfavorable situation like this, most people would usually lose the will to fight, but these Yeouido Camp survivors were able to mount a small counterattack. Because of this, one of the mercenary group’s soldiers was hit and went down. A few more shots whizzed past the old man’s shoulder, but he didn’t even blink. He simply turned his machine gun and emptied out the remaining bullets in the magazine in that direction.
The battle quickly turned into a one-sided slaughter. However, an uncommonly loud gunshot rang out in the middle of the chaos. Baek Goo collapsed immediately after, having been struck down by the mysterious bullet.
Chul Goo was furious. He was able to figure out the general direction in which the bullet had been fired, however. He saw the bullet impact the ground, meaning it had been fired from above. Chul Goo’s gaze darted over toward the top of a switchboard box. There, he was able to see the sniper. The man was pulling the bolt on the side of his rifle and preparing to fire again.
“Above the switchboard box!” Chul Goo shouted. “There’s a sniper!”
The old man immediately turned in that direction and started shooting on top of the box. He didn’t need to aim. The fire rate of the machine gun was so high that everything in that general direction was hit, including the sniper in question.
After using up an entire magazine, the old man finally stopped firing. The rest of the group did as well, having run out of visible targets. The old man sighed and wiped off the sweat from his forehead. The barrel of his machine gun was boiling hot and there was smoke wafting from it. Everything in its wake had been reduced to wriggling corpses and streams of blood.
“Is that it?” the old man asked.
Chul Goo and the aces of the mercenary group began searching the surroundings for any signs of more enemies. They searched every nook and cranny and killed a few stragglers. While they were finishing up, the old man walked through the bloody passageway over to where he knew Sweeper’s group was waiting. He turned a corner and saw them waiting in front of a cafe.
“What are you doing?” the old man asked.
“Oh, the leader isn’t done with his business yet,” Sweeper explained.
“What do you mean he isn’t done?”
Without waiting for a reply, the old man kicked open the door of the cafe and rushed inside before anyone could stop him. He forced his way inside an office and immediately noticed a corpse on the floor that had a hole in its forehead. Noah and Yohan were talking amiably and didn’t even seem to notice the dead body. If it wasn’t for the gun that Yohan was pointing at Noah, the old man would have thought that they were having a friendly chat.
“What the―? I thought you were captured,” The old man said.
“Oh? You’re here,” Yohan replied.
“Oh, you’re here?” the old man parroted, finally understanding the situation and that he had been worried for nothing. “That’s all you have to say? Damn kid….”
Yohan smiled contently at the old man’s grumbling. It was obvious to Yohan that the old man had rushed over to try and save him.
“We’re not done talking though,” Yohan explained. “Could you give us some room so that we can finish our conversation?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Oh, wait. How bad is it out there? Did we lose anyone?” Yohan asked.
“One kid from our side got killed. There was a sniper that was a really good shooter. But other than that we won. We killed them all.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“You bastard. You used us as a shield again, didn’t you? You cocky fuckin’ kid.”
Yohan shook his head in amusement. He already thought of the mercenary group as allies. The loss of any of their members was something he never wanted to see.
The old man glared at Shin Noah, the man he considered responsible for this situation.
“What are you going to do with him?” the old man asked Yohan. “Why are you keeping him alive?”
“We’re just talking,” Yohan replied. “Sweeper, tie him up.”
The old man clicked his tongue in annoyance.
“What more is there to talk about?” the old man asked. “If you just cut his head off, everything will be over.”
“Also, old man…” Yohan said as he watched Sweeper tie Noah’s hands together.
“I have something I need to tell you.”
Yohan explained everything he heard from Noah. That Camp Chunhyang sold information to them. The old man’s expression after hearing this made it look like he had just been stabbed.
“Seriously? Chunhyang did this…”
Yohan understood the old man’s reaction. Camp Chunhyang’s overall atmosphere was friendly and warm. Especially considering the fact that there was a lovely girl there that the camp was doing their best to protect. Yohan had no doubt that it was a shocking revelation. Even though the two groups were working together, they clearly had different objectives.
“How many of you are there?” Noah asked, interrupting their thoughts.
“We had 16. Now it’s 15.”
“That’s a lot,” Noah replied, surprised.
“It’s more than what Camp Chunhyang informed us of. At least two times more.”
Yohan and the old man exchanged a meaningful glance with each other. The situation was obvious to both of them now. Chunhyang had backstabbed all three camps.
Yohan and the old man both spoke up at the same time.
“That fuckin bitch!”
“We should head back to the Bupyeong District Office immediately.”
She had made the three strongest forces in the nearby area fight each other. This definitely wasn’t an accident.
‘It was all planned out.’
She had her eyes on Bupyeong District Office’s mercenary headquarters. In particular, the massive amount of supplies inside.
“I’ll head out first,” the old man said. “You finish up here.”
“Okay,” Yohan replied. “Please be careful.”
The old man clicked his tongue and exited. Almost immediately after he left the room, the sounds of various items being violently smashed apart could be heard. The old man was taking out his frustration by destroying stuff.
Yohan was in a similar state himself. There were good people at the Bupyeong District Office, which was rare in these times. Especially Jung Mi, who was extremely friendly. But now she was going to die because of Yohan’s carelessness and he didn’t want to imagine it.
“All the people from my camp have been annihilated… and in exchange, you lost just one man?” Noah asked, dispirited.
“I told you.”
“You’re right. You guys are really strong.”
Yohan raised one of his eyebrows. Noah’s reaction was different than what Yohan had expected. Noah wasn’t sad or grieving. He looked calm, but at the same time, empty. Yohan vividly remembered the expression that Noah had every time a comrade died back in the previous timeline and this wasn’t it. Something was out of place.
“What are you going to do with me now?” Noah asked.
“I’ll do whatever you want. You basically have two options. I can kill you right now, painlessly, or you can join us and start over.”
“You offer me the opportunity to join your camp when all of my comrades just tried to kill you?”
“I’m sure my comrades would give me a hard time about it. They’d call it reckless and stupid, but if you want, I can take you. It might be difficult to get used to it from the start, but you’ll end up liking everyone. One day, they’ll be your comrades, too. Losing comrades and then finding yourself with new ones is just part of the world we live in now.”
“Are you really trying to convince me? Despite saying it like that, you’re treating me pretty poorly. I might just think you’re trying to force me, you know?”
“I did try my best, but I guess my efforts were in vain seeing how it turned out.”
Noah sighed and rubbed his eyes.
“Honestly, I feel a bit relieved,” Noah admitted.
“After the rumors about Gae Baek Jung’s death, I started gathering the other nearby camps to prevent another Seoul Survival Union from forming. Among them, certain people like Moon Sung Chul, Kim Joon, and Shin Jin Chung were a bit too aggressive and hard to handle and couldn’t be controlled.”
Yohan calmly listened to Noah.
“They forced the camp in a direction that I didn’t want it to go. I didn’t want to increase the camp numbers by killing the intruders and forcefully recruiting the survivors. It all just spiraled out of control. This fight with you, in particular―I really didn’t want to fight you guys since you were the ones that killed Gae Baek Jung.”
What Yohan heard next shocked him.
“Because of that, I didn’t allow most of my real comrades to follow me. Other than Jae Won who had changed recently due to their influence, anyway.”
“What are you saying?” Yohan asked.
“Even though I’m here to fulfill my responsibility as the leader of this camp, my real comrades are all at Mapo. My friends that were with me from the very start are there. The only exceptions are Seung Hee and Sun Hwa, who were killed by Gae Baek Jung.”
— Ω —