15. Test Flight
The UAV whirred into action. It sped across the runway and flew straight into the sky. Excited gasps and murmurs broke out among the crowd. As there weren’t many things to pass the time compared to the old days, people were starving for entertainment. ‘I should bring back some books or board games,’ thought Kwang Hwi.
Despite the fact that his house had been hastily remodeled to serve as a control room, he was rather satisfied. The interior was dark and, just like the control rooms in action movies, live video feed captured straight from the UAV was showcased on large monitors mounted around the room.
“How’s it looking?” he asked a pilot sitting near one of the control panels.
“Good. Reception is good and flight performance is satisfactory. All systems nominal.” The pilot gently pulled on the stick as he answered. In response, the Heron began ascending, drawing more and more of the city into view. The camera mounted to the bottom rotated around, taking stock of its surroundings.
They were grim. Streets, once filled with ordinary people, were now clearly occupied by the monsters. Buildings all across the urban landscape were awash with flames.
“Hey, what’s that?” Kwang Hwi suddenly interjected.
“What’s what, boss?”
“Check the North-East corner. 135 degrees.”
The pilot dutifully pulled on his controls and the camera swiveled to meet Kwang Hwi’s demands. Keku occupied the majority of the screen, oblivious to the aerial surveillance of Kwang Hwi and his team. They filled the entire roadway and Kwang Hwi even saw a few of the Black Wolf Cavalry units he encountered at the supermarket. Although cluttered, they were clearly walking towards an objective. They marched in unison down the road.
“It looks like at least a thousand of them in total, boss.”
Kwang Hwi nodded in acknowledgment. If the pilot was correct, this would be the biggest horde he had encountered so far.
“Where are they all going?” he asked.
The pilot frowned. “Given their current direction, it seems like they’re heading towards the university.”
“A university?” said Kwang Hwi. ‘That must mean there are survivors in the university…’
It would certainly explain the monsters’ behavior. The campus was located in a relatively remote area. There wouldn’t be any real reason for the monsters to head there unless they had their sights set on prey already.
“The campus will be in sight soon,” said the pilot. The Heron seamlessly flew past the Keku horde. At the end of the road, a haphazard wall had been hastily erected with just about anything one could expect to find at a university. It was flanked by tall buildings on either side, blockading the road. A number of survivors were garrisoned on top of the wall, each carrying a blunt weapon.
“How long before they arrive?” asked Kwang Hwi.
“Based on their speed and distance, probably 12 minutes.”
“They’re not stealing my points. Men, move out!”
“Yes, sir!” The crew members that were gathered near him stood up and rushed off.
The student council president gritted his teeth. Originally, he was under the impression that the monsters were still quite far away. But what he, and his peers, thought they saw was very much wrong. Everyone was anxious. It had been a week since they had first encountered the monsters, but fear still gripped their hearts.
The monsters were extremely hostile and much stronger than a normal person. Those that were brave enough to stand up against them were torn apart, limb from limb. Those that tried to run away also met the same fate.
The ones who were quick and clever enough to hide survived—if only just. The student council president recalled how he had shrunk into a corner and shriveled in fear until the monsters had left.
‘I really hoped they would never return.’
He knew he couldn’t count on it. The initial peace had scarcely lasted a week. They had finished barricading the front when giant wolves appeared. It was as if they were playing with their food. If it weren’t for the fact that they had prepared a Molotov cocktail, their paltry fortress would have already been breached.
He picked up the walkie-talkie. He couldn’t hide it any longer. His voice trembled slightly as he spoke.
— “Please brace yourselves.”
Around the university, a sense of impending dread glossed over the survivors as they clutched their improvised weapons a little bit tighter. He lamented over this fact as well. With some modern weaponry, they would have been more successful in their pursuits against the monsters. That said, a dangerous firearm had little place at a university. All they could find were bows from the archery club and they had already deployed archers to the rooftops. On the wall itself, everyone was equipped with baseball bats or metal pipes with slightly sharpened edges.
— “Should we shoot now?”
He hesitated before answering.
— “Yes, please shoot.”
One of the archers perched on the rooftop drew the bow back. At the tip of the arrow, a spark of flame flickered with life just as he loosed the arrow into the sky. It arched gracefully through the sky and landed with a non-descript splash.
An explosion sounded from the target location as the oil prepared earlier combusted into flames, bisecting the road. The monsters immediately slowed down, approaching the flaming barrier with trepidation. The president’s face brightened, if only a little. ‘At least they’re scared of fire.’ His eyes wandered over the fire wall which separated them from the monsters beyond. Just as he took a brief reprieve from their difficult situation, a black shadow pierced through the blinding flames and his heart throbbed.
Four thick, heavy paws hit the ground, pushing the fire aside. Two crimson eyes were framed with a row of vicious teeth. The jet-black shadow let out a piercing howl and the student council could feel their hearts drop. It was the monster he had seen yesterday. The wolf lowered its head and, like knights dismounting a steed, the three Keku riding on its back hopped off and began advancing forwards.
“They’re coming!” he heard his voice scream. More and more Black Wolves jumped through the flames, carrying Keku across the wall of fire. The archers poured arrows into the Keku to little avail. Many Keku had dozens of arrow shafts protruding out of their body as they climbed the wall at a frenzied pace.
The students who met the Keku at the top saw similar results. The Keku shrugged off their blows and caused havoc wherever they went. Despite this, the survivors were not totally helpless. The walls were still several feet tall, which bought them time. More importantly, Molotov cocktails had been prepared in advance. After seeing the efficacy of the previous ones, they didn’t hesitate to prepare more.
Fire rained down onto the Keku as they scaled the walls and they recoiled from the flames. Those who were hit directly howled in pain and collapsed to the ground.
The wolf howled triumphantly and a cry of pain rang out from atop the wall. A Black Wolf had scaled the wall in moments and sunk its teeth into a student. Slowly realizing he was being taken away, the male student resisted. However, he was powerless against the Black Wolf’s grip.
Red blood splattered and the student was torn into two. A sickening squish filled the air as the student was rended.
Everyone’s faces darkened and fear swept through them. Their bodies froze in fear and monsters started to bounded over the walls like a tsunami. The wall of flames which had once held the majority of the monsters at bay had diminished, leaving the students vulnerable. Some of the monsters were struck and fell back down to their deaths, but many more arrived to fill the spaces left by their compatriots. The defense line was wearing thin and their supply of Molotov cocktails were quickly being depleted.
‘If they keep coming, we’re all going to die. I should’ve ran away deep into the mountains like the guy suggested yesterday.’
A Keku hand reached over the wall, interrupting his thoughts. Instinct took over and he slammed his hammer over the Keku’s skull. Blood splattered across his face as the Keku’s head burst like a watermelon. Its body fell into the sea of enemies and another instantly took its place.
‘Dammit! How many are there?!’ He had killed more than 10 of them, diligently swinging his hammer as each appeared but there was no end in sight. He grumbled, but he remained steadfast in his defense. Eventually, he would run out of energy and that would be the end for him.
“Nooo! Save me!”
Desperate screams could now be heard all around him. He wanted to help his fellow classmates, but his hands were tied. He could hardly maintain his own position, let alone help others. He glanced around furtively. There were only a few defenders left on the walls now. ‘Well, at least the people on the roofs are relatively safe. Those Black Wolves are strong, but even they can’t leap up a 10 story building.’
Unfortunately, there was a limit to how much help the supporters could provide. They couldn’t prevent the wall from being breached.
“Ugk!” He gasped as the hammer missed and slammed into the wall. His thoughts had distracted him, causing his swing to miss. The reverberations shook through his arms, loosening his already exhausted grip. The hammer clattered to the ground. Seeing an opportunity, the Keku clambered up the wall to find the president. It knew that the humans were rallying under his command. Without him, the university was ripe for the taking.
The president saw Black Wolves rush in below the Keku and he sensed the end was near. Even if he avoided the attack, a pack of Black Wolves were ready to tear him limb from limb. In his last moments, he couldn’t repress the fear any further. He closed his eyes as tears poured out.
— Ω —
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