People pointed their fingers at Sweeper and chased after him. Sweeper had gone out the other door and ran through the hallway as fast as he could. Men wearing military uniforms yelled at him to stop and joined the chase. It was like a scene from a third-rate action movie. A male student tried to block his path. He had a young face that didn’t match his tall stature. He opened his arms to try and grab Sweeper.
“Hup!” Sweeper bent over backwards as if he was playing limbo and dodged under the boy’s arms. He continued running.
‘Wait.’ Suddenly a thought struck him. Why was he running away again? Thinking about it, there was no reason for him to run. They had seen each other before and even chatted. Additionally, the soldiers created this camp to protect the students, so they didn’t seem to be bad guys. If they were as benevolent as he was, then it should be easy to just talk things out.
After reaching this conclusion, Sweeper turned around and raised his arms. The men that were chasing him stopped in front of him.
“Hey bro, it may seem weird, but I just spent the night here. Could we talk things out?”
“Lieutenant, this isn’t the first time we’ve met, right?” Sweeper gave the lieutenant a bright smile. Recognizing Sweeper, the lieutenant had a complicated expression on his face.
“How did you…were you following us!? What is your plan? Did you cooperate only to find where our camp…?”
“That’s partially correct, but also partially wrong.” Sweeper replied awkwardly. “I did follow you here, but I mean no harm. I never intended to take over your camp. I just had to check to see if you guys were a threat or if you guys were going to get back at us. Can we go inside somewhere comfortable and chat? I would appreciate some tea as well.”
Sweeper’s comment was met with frowns and confusion. They couldn’t tell what he was thinking. However, as he kept smiling, the soldiers eventually lowered their weapons.
“Please turn over your weapons.” The lieutenant said, with a sour tone.
“I can’t do that. You guys outnumber me anyways. Also, you didn’t disarm yourselves back at our camp.”
There was another awkward silence as the soldiers looked at their lieutenant. Finally, the officer nodded.
“This way please.”
Sweeper was led to the science room, where the survivors were staying. It consisted of three laboratories and were the only rooms that had steel doors, which was probably why they chose to take up residency here.
‘There are a few useful items too.’ Sweeper thought as he looked at the various science kits.
“Anyways, I feel that following us was a very rude thing to do. I know you guys gave us supplies, but…”
Sweeper clapped his hands together to make an apologetic gesture.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that. I apologize. I originally was going to eavesdrop and leave, but I ended up falling asleep. I didn’t think I would get caught.”
“Thanks to you, I saw something…oh! Anyways, can I ask you a few questions?’
“Answer my questions first.”
“We can take turns. You can go first.”
The lieutenant thought for a moment before asking. “A few days ago, we encountered some assailants on motorcycles. Are you with them or do you happen to know who they are?”
“No and yes.”
“We’re not with them, but I do know of them. They’re probably enemies. My turn. The guys that attacked here. How many of them were there?”
The lieutenant turned to look at the students. One of the students hesitantly answered.
“There were about 40 of them…”
“That’s a lot.”
“It’s my turn. Who are you guys anyways?”
“That’s a tough question. It hasn’t been that long since I joined that camp. In my opinion…it’s just a camp where survivors have gathered. The leader is smart and experienced. Now, it’s my turn again. What weapons did those guys have?”
Again, the lieutenant didn’t answer and instead turned to the student.
‘Even if he’s the lieutenant of a reserve force, he’s still a soldier. I can’t believe he didn’t already get information about the enemies numbers and weapons.’
“I—I’m not sure.” A student replied.
“Did they have a gun?”
“Bow! There was something holding a bow!”
“What kind of bow? The type that an archer uses?”
“No, it was a crossbow.”
‘So they had a crossbow. This is a group that can attack from range.’ Sweeper also didn’t dismiss the notion that they could still have guns as well.
“Next. Do you have any other questions?” Sweeper asked the lieutenant. The officer hesitated, but couldn’t think of anything else.
“You can ask whenever you think of something. My turn again. Do you guys want to join our organization?”
* * *
It was the second time that Yohan distributed guns to the survivors. He gave the M16 to the recon team members Ha Jin and Dong Seok. The women survivors received revolvers and the males got the Maxus shotgun. This was different than the previous distribution, where the guards had to pass off the gun whenever they changed shifts. From now on, every single person had a gun.
At least, that was the plan. Although he wanted to distribute guns to every survivor, there weren’t enough weapons and ammunition to go around. Yohan prioritized the veterans, then the men, both young and old. He also prioritized the mall camp first. When he ran out of guns, he handed out slingshots to everyone else and taught them how to use them.
‘I should stop by the military base soon.’ However, Yohan couldn’t leave the camp readily. Once he took care of the bikers, he planned to visit the ammunition storage locations that the lieutenant had marked on his map.
“Yohan, how much longer do I have to hold this? My arm hurts,” complained Saeri.
On one side of the parking lot, the survivors were practicing with the guns they received. They were standing in a line and aiming at zombies on the streets below. Since there wasn’t a lot of ammo to go around, they couldn’t actually shoot the gun. Instead, they practiced aiming, loading, dry firing, and changing the magazine. The revolvers and Maxus shotgun especially needed proper training as reloading them was a hassle. If they didn’t practice, it could prove fatal in a real combat.
“Practice moving and then finding your aim again. There’s no need to stand still.”
“You should’ve told me sooner.”
“Then I’ll tell you something right now. You better keep the safety on. If any one of you accidentally fire your gun, I’ll smash your head against the parking lot floor. And if I catch anyone pointing their gun at someone, I’ll strip them butt naked and throw them to the first floor.”
“Wow, how violent.”
— “Boss man.” Sweeper radioed in.
“Just a second, Sweeper. Stop playing and practice.” Yohan went to the opposite side of the parking lot and turned up the volume on the walkie-talkie once he was in a quiet spot.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
— “I contacted the military camp. I have information about the bastards riding the motorcycles.”
“Go ahead. I’m listening.”
— “There’s about 40 of them. They have a crossbow. Most of them have blunt weapons. I’m not sure about guns.”
— “Those bastards…they aren’t targeting supplies or people.”
— “They’re just going around to kill people.”
It was just as he had expected.
— “I’m bringing these people back with me.”
— “Eight soldiers and five kids.”
“They don’t have a grudge against us? We let one of them die.”
— “The lieutenant blames his own decisions for that. Don’t worry.”
“I see. Okay.”
— “There’s a lot of things to pack here, so we’ll leave in the afternoon or tomorrow morning.”
“Roger. Keep up the good work.” Yohan looked up as he ended the conversation and saw that everyone was sweating and short of breath. He took a look at the analog clock and noticed that they had been practicing for two hours now.
Just then, Ji Hye Sohn appeared at the emergency exit door. Yohan signaled to the survivors that they could rest. One by one, they laid down on the ground.
“Yohan, is the training over?” asked Saeri.
“Mr. Kim said he’s done installing the lightbulbs!” Ji Hye reported.
“Oh, then we should go check it out.”
They were almost out of candles, so the news made Yohan happy. Mr. Kim, who used to work in a hardware store, used a portable generator to distribute electricity to the first floor and B1F. As more people arrived, Mr. Kim began a grandiose explanation that he clearly had prepared ahead of time. He started talking about the generator, rectifier, and inverter. However, Saeri immediately interrupted him, saying that she wouldn’t understand anyway, which flustered the old man and convinced him to just turn on the lights.
The light bulbs emitted a brilliant light, eliciting gasps of delight from the crowd. The survivors felt oddly sentimental about seeing a small fragment of modern technology returned to them, despite the mass of disorganized wiring before them.
Yohan, however, wasn’t feeling sentimental. He was disappointed by the noise made by the generator. It was louder than he expected and it used gasoline instead of solar power. Of course, he had been able to acquire gasoline without any problems so far, but it was a scarce resource. Still, they no longer had to wait in the complete darkness of night for daybreak. The camp had recently regained its vigor and the lightbulbs made it even brighter.
“I’ll eventually install it in everyone’s rooms.” said Mr. Kim.
The crowd’s expression brightened up even more. Recently, camp members were given their own rooms. After clearing some stuff from the stores, they create enough space for 10 rooms. After beds were placed inside, it looked like a dormitory. Even though two people had to share each room, it improved morale as sleeping on the floor like homeless refugees was starting to drive them insane.
“Oh, Elder Park.” Yohan spotted Elder Park, who hadn’t visited the basement floors in a while. It seemed he was enjoying his life taking care of the vegetable garden on the roof.
“Oh Yohan. Is everything okay?”
“Actually, I have a few things I need to discuss with you.” Yohan turned to Seo Jun as well. “Could you make some time for me as well?”
“Sure.” Seo Jun nodded.
“Jung Hwan and the recon team, come in as well.” Yohan called in all the managers. He wanted to have a serious discussion about their upcoming battle with the bikers.
“The reason I called you all here is because there will be a battle happening in the future. We…”
Up until now, they had only been killing zombies. Whenever there were people to be eliminated, Yohan preferred to move on his own. However, they couldn’t just hide and have Yohan protect them forever. This was what Yohan wanted to discuss. He had to tell the survivors that, in order to maintain the peace they were enjoying, they had to go against that peace sometimes. It was not unlike a doctor recommending surgery despite knowing the risks involved. In order to live, they had to kill some people.
“What’s wrong? Why do you have such a serious expression?” Seo Jung asked. There were three members of the recon team and three managers in the meeting room. They all noticed that, while Yohan always had a stern look on his face, his expression was especially grim today. Yohan organized his thoughts and continued speaking.
“I’m sure some of you already know…we’re being threatened by an unknown group.”
“Threatened as in…”
Calmly, Yohan began explaining, in detail, the story he heard at the hospital. He then told them about the corpses they found at the rehabilitation center and the information gleaned by Sweeper.
— Ω —
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