18. Combined Cycle Power Plant
The pathway to the power plant was blocked by mobile barricades commonly found at military checkpoints, barring their way ahead. The driver asked for further instructions from Kwang Hwi.
— “Boss, what should we do?”
“Step on the pedal and run over it.”
The engine started rotating at a furious pace as the APC rushed forward like a charging bull. The barricades violently bounced off the truck, scattering like loose sand in front of the overwhelming force.
One of the barricades flew towards the side, partially destroying the guard post. The APC shook from the impact, slightly startling the new soldiers. The more experienced members closed their eyes, unfazed and steady. They showed the maturity that they forged through the blood and sweat expended in the war against the monsters.
— “Barbed-wire fence up ahead!”
Kwang Hwi looked at the screen linked to the front camera. The road leading to the parking lot was obstructed by barbed wires and Keku were dangling on it, strewn like kebabs on skewers. All of the corpses were charred black without exception. It was as if they really were barbecued.
The APC slowed in a hurry, rapidly coming to a halt.
“Open the back door. We’ll investigate it personally.”
The sunlight gradually peeked over the men, illuminating their battle-hardened faces. The armed forces went out first, leading their inexperienced compatriots. Perhaps because of their real combat experience, the men quickly surveyed the surroundings with sharp eyes. They started to behave like true soldiers.
Kwang Hwi vigilantly approached the barbed wire fence. A blue flame erupted as if it were a warning not to come closer. It was an electric fence and a deadly one on top of that.
“Not a bad idea.”
To avoid direct confrontation, they had deployed tools to stop monsters by utilizing the abundant amount of electricity available from the power plant. Unless the monsters were capable of jumping over the fence, they would suffer a lot of damage, effectively crippling their advance.
‘They have certainly thought this through, but they’re still not invincible.’
CCTVs and intercoms were installed near the parking lot’s entrance, monitoring the vicinity. Waving his hand towards the CCTV, Kwang Hwi pressed the intercom call button.
After a few dial tones, someone picked up from the other side, but he remained silent. To break the silence, Kwang Hwi spoke first.
“Is someone there?”
— “…Are you the rescue team?”
While the person spoke in a blunt manner, one could tell he was desperate. It was understandable as no one would want to remain confined in a place, always living under the threat of monsters and fearing for their lives.
— “…What do you mean? Are you or are you not?”
“I’m not sure if you know, but the current government—including the military and the police—are practically gone. There is no authority maintaining the order of society.”
Kwang Hwi was slightly annoyed at the fact that he had to repeat the same story. He didn’t want to bother doing this for every single survivor he met. It’s been a while since monsters have appeared.
‘If the situation hasn’t improved over time, shouldn’t they know by now that the government is helpless? To think there are still people clueless about the reality of the situation.’ Kwang Hwi mused in his heart, lamenting the ignorance of the survivors in the wild.
“Join us, and we can ensure your safety. What you’ll be doing won’t change while being under our military protection.”
— “…We think we’re safe even now.”
“For now, yes. But, I doubt you can say the same for the foreseeable future.”
— “Our electric fence has already killed numerous monsters. Do you not see the corpses in front of you?”
Kwang Hwi grinned.
‘Are they trying to bargain their worth or simply resisting?’
It didn’t matter, though. Kwang Hwi moved the smart pad next to the CCTV to show them from the control room.
“This is a footage shot from the Dongducheon downtown.”
The area was teeming with monsters, they were everywhere and denied any chance of survival. There were more than just a few thousand, they were seemingly endless. While the majority were Keku, there were a decent amount of Black Wolves too.
“If all of them came here, would you be able to defend against it? With just this barbed wire fence?”
There wasn’t an answer, or rather, they couldn’t give an answer. They weren’t clueless either and knew it was impossible to remain here and do nothing. They couldn’t live on by turning a blind eye to reality.
Perhaps they could stop a few hundred monsters since they would die upon contact. But, what would happen if all the monsters concentrated towards a single point of the fence? Kwang Hwi had already experienced something similar. It was the iron gate and fence protecting his house. Realizing it was impossible to do it individually, the monsters levied their full body weight on the iron gate and fence by cooperating with their comrades.
Unable to withstand the full weight of the Keku, the iron gate collapsed, allowing the monsters to enter. While it wasn’t an electric fence, would it be more sturdy than an iron gate? No. It would eventually break. Nothing could last in front of a crowd of savage monsters. They would have to counter numbers with numbers and the monsters’ ferocity with their bullets.
“You should also be running low on food supplies.”
While it wasn’t certain how much they had stockpiled, it had been over a week. By now, their food should be rapidly dwindling. What’s more, they weren’t even able to secure food from outside.
“Have you changed your mind yet?”
— “…Please come inside and let’s talk first.”
Rather than cutting off the electricity, a gate slid to the side, opening a path. They were still on their guard in case it was a trap. Nothing could be left to chance in these tumultuous times. Kwang Hwi and his members entered the power plant, followed by the APC Namer.
In front of the main building, there was a man waiting for them, looking haggard and downtrodden. He tried his best to appear normal, but his pallid face and emaciated body betrayed his actual situation. His getup showed how much the situation had deteriorated in the plant.
“I’m the head manager of the power plant, Yeon Ho Lee.”
“My name is Kwang Hwi Baek.”
“Please, come in.”
Unlike Kwang Hwi’s carefree attitude, his men carefully observed the surroundings. Since they were not on the same side, the men needed to be on their toes. Thankfully, it didn’t seem like there was an ambush set in advance.
After a few security checks, the men entered a large conference room right in front of the control room. In there, some people also dressed in the same manner as Yeon Ho were waiting for Kwang Hwi.
Kwang Hwi made his men wait outside. He did this to assure them that he didn’t come with bad intentions. These people weren’t a threat to him even if they all attacked at once. After both sides briefly exchanged greetings, they began to discuss the terms.
“What do you want?”
“It’s simple. I want everyone here to divide into groups to work in shifts. As for sleeping and other daily life activities, please come to our headquarters. Since this place is important for us, we’ll always have troops deployed here. Even in the worst-case scenario, I’ll make sure everyone here can escape.”
“…Is that all?”
An engineer asked in disbelief. He made a dumbfounded expression. It was as if he couldn’t believe that the terms would be so lax.
“Is there anything else we need? We came here and found people. Couldn’t it be any better than the worst-case scenario? The power plant is completely fine and there are even people who can operate it. I think both sides can benefit from this relationship. After all, the best deal is one in which both parties can benefit.”
The situation was undoubtedly better than what Kwang Hwi had expected. It was really good to know that the power plant wasn’t taken over by the monsters or destroyed. The engineers exchanged glances with each other in a solemn manner. It didn’t take too long to arrive at a decision, however. Unless their heads were empty, there was only one path they could take. Furthermore, their combat force had already entered the facility.
“Let’s join you.”
Kwang Hwi shook hands with Yeon Ho with a calm expression. He wasn’t too excited as he came prepared for the worst.
With this, he managed to resolve the electricity issue smoothly.
Over the static of the radio, a voice sounded abruptly, startling Soo Min on the other side of the receiver.
— “Soo Min, check.”
Soo Min motioned with his hand. He was prepared with a team and was standing by for confirmation. People moved in haste to test the home appliances. The devices that were not responding previously now started to work in unison, making everyone rejoice.
A cool breeze blew from the air conditioner, while the TV screen displayed a noise screen. The light bulbs emitted a bright light, driving out even the faint darkness hiding in the corners, and the people’s faces gleamed along with it. They were suffering because the weather was getting warmer. It was fortunate that they could use the air conditioners and fans once again, relieving them of their worries.
One of the soldiers reported back to Soo Min saying “Everything is working fine!”
Wearing a satisfied smile, Soo Min grabbed on the radio.
“Boss, we’ve confirmed the power supply. It’s working!”
— “Got it. Go deploy the guard squad.”
“Yes. We’ll send them out immediately.”
Soo Min headed out to the 2nd floor’s balcony. In front of the headquarters, there were members waiting for Soo Min’s command with the two Light Tactical Vehicles.
“Guard squad! Go.”
The soldiers assigned to the guard squad quickly got into the vehicles. The tightly closed gate opened and the people working near the entrance promptly moved away to make way for the incoming vehicles.
The Light Tactical Vehicles left the headquarters. Being an essential facility, it was agreed that guards would be deployed to the power plant to maintain order and be ready for emergencies. Even though Kwang Hwi only had stationed a few men alongside two tactical vehicles with mounted machine guns, he planned to defend the power plant with a stronger force once their situation improved.
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