23. Secure Dongducheon City
— “Greeting to all survivors. This is the 108.5 MHZ Kwang-Hwi Faction broadcast.”
Kwang Hwi raised the volume of the radio that had been quietly playing in the background. Yesterday evening, a new message had been added to the repeating broadcast and he wanted to review it.
— “We will start with the good news first. As some of you may already be aware, all the monsters in Dongducheon City have been wiped out. Over the past several days, the Kwang-Hwi faction has mobilized all of its forces to combat and subdue the Keku, Black Wolves, and Blisters. After yesterday’s final battle, we have confirmed that there are no more monsters remaining in the city. We, the Kwang Hwi Faction, will be beginning operations for rescuing survivors starting tomorrow. We offer safe passage, food, and shelter. We look forward to welcoming the new survivors who’ll be joining us.”
Kwang Hwi’s eyes turned to the map and he studied it while thinking about his next steps.
‘It’s going to get very busy tomorrow.’
They had resolved a troubling issue and now it was time to taste the sweet fruits of their hard labor. Dongducheon was now in their hands in all of its entirety, including the land, supplies, and survivors. Taking in and absorbing all of these would let the Kwang Hwi Faction undergo rapid growth. They will be like a carp leaping through the Dragon Gate, becoming a hegemon of the area.
‘We will have to move the HQ to the city hall. It’s in the center and can also represent our status and authority.’
Though it was unfortunate that the headquarters had to be constructed and established in the city, it had to be done. Thinking ahead into the future, it would be best to make the city center the hub for operations. For the numerous survivors and supplies that would be coming in, it was necessary to have an appropriate building for that purpose.
Dongducheon City had many buildings still standing. There wasn’t any need to expend resources and manpower on constructing a new building to house people. Practicality was one of the most essential principles to follow in this brutal era.
Along with it being an ideal location, defending the city was significantly easier too. Using the densely packed buildings as corridors, shipping containers could be moved to barricade roadways. The narrower pathways could be blocked with garbage. As for his former headquarters, he could repurpose it for farming and station a permanent security force. They had a whole plan prepared that uses their resources more effectively.
‘We’re going to need a lot of troops to defend an entire city.’
While it was uncertain how many survivors would be rescued, they would try to enlist every able bodied-person into their ranks. Even though they valued skilled workers, soldiers were vital to protect them.
Early the next morning, all the members gathered after a well-earned rest. The members were divided into two large groups. One was tasked with rescuing survivors and the other was responsible for securing supplies.
“Did everyone listen to the broadcast last night?”
“Today’s mission is critical. As we roam through Dongducheon City, we will scoop up survivors and salvage supplies. There may be survivors that are not willing to cooperate. If you meet them, take appropriate measures. Everyone is to treat this mission seriously!”
The members, who were all lined up, all responded with vigor. The rest period had done them wonders and they were reinvigorated. Kwang Hwi grinned in satisfaction at their enthusiastic response. Morale was indispensable, especially now. For some reason, he was feeling positive since he woke up. And now, he believed there would be good results today.
The crew boarded the vehicles with well-practiced movements. The drivers that were waiting inside all started their engines in unison. It was as if a slumbering beast was woken up, ready to pounce. Each vehicle was also equipped with a loudspeaker system. In an effort to reach out to people hiding in the apartments, they would act like the salesmen knocking on their doors, promoting their shelter and name.
— “Rescue team is ready to be deployed.”
— “Salvage team ready to go.”
“Everyone, let’s rock and roll!”
The vehicles departed the base in a long line. As they approached the city, the rescue team split into smaller groups and spread out like a bee swarm, covering the whole city. They turned on their loudspeakers and the broadcast from the Kwang-Hwi Faction rang out across the whole city.
— “All monsters within Dongducheon City have been eliminated. The Kwang-Hwi Faction offers safety to all and doesn’t discriminate between the weak and strong, the skilled and unskilled, or the men and women. To all survivors, you do not have to be afraid; we offer food, medical care, and shelter.”
People that were in hiding began to emerge one by one. There were those who had heard the radio broadcast, those who had seen the graffiti on the wall, and even those who had just learned of the situation from the loudspeakers.
“O-over here! Here!”
A window on the third floor of a shopping mall slammed open and a teenager showed himself, waving his arms. He even held a white cloth in one hand. Hearing his shout, the vehicle that was passing in front of the mall stopped. Two rescue workers disembarked and entered the building.
For a while, the men were on full alert as there was a chance the survivors could be hostile. Thankfully, their worries were unfounded, and the survivors were very cooperative. Tears were shed by the survivors that had been holing up in a PC Cafe in the same building. It showed how desperately they clung to the hope of rescue. Seeing the soldiers, they were relieved of their fears. If it were a normal occasion, they wouldn’t have even batted an eye. But, no one else could reassure them more than these soldiers at the moment.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Thank you, sir!”
“Let’s get in the vehicle first. If you have any possessions, you can bring them with you. Don’t worry, you’ll be safe.”
Fully packed vehicles returned to base to drop off the survivors. Then, they were once again sent out to continue the rescue missions. The salvage team was also busy during this time. Starting at the L-Mart that had been raided previously and then moving on to the larger department stores of Dongducheon, they scoured the whole area clean. Mobilizing all available vehicles and personnel, looting operations were repeatedly carried out.
“Don’t leave anything behind, take everything! Food, clothes, toiletries, beds and similar furniture, grab it all! Understood?”
“Commence operation!” Kwang Hwi roared out instruction after instruction. He was supervising this mission seriously to avoid any possible mishaps.
“Roger that!” The men barked back. They exuded an aura of true soldiers now, having gone through flames of war.
The supermarket, which had been silent all this time, became noisy again. Occasionally, the survivors that had been hiding within the supermarket would stumble out, their faces lit up with hope. The salvage team would pass them onto the rescue team. The whole militia worked like the gears of machinery, rapidly fulfilling their duties.
While his men were busy working, Kwang Hwi was inspecting the Dongducheon City Hall that would soon become his new headquarters. The inside of the city hall was clean and tidy, and there was almost no sign of any attack on the building. It was as if this area was located in a different world than the one they were currently in. Corpses of people were rarely spotted. There were still some rotting bodies outside, but none inside the building.
“Set up the situation room.”
Having finished searching, the men hurried to the basement to organize the command center. After cleaning off the dust that had settled there over time, they brought in communication equipment and began installing them. They even prepared a chair for Kwang Hwi. He felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders when he sat down. Reports were constantly coming in over the radio from the crew.
— “Rescue Team 2, five survivors rescued from zone 32. We’ve exceeded the capacity of our vehicle and will be returning to the base.”
— “Salvage Team 1, H-Mart has been cleaned of supplies. Moving to the next target.”
Of course, not everything went smoothly.
— “This is Rescue Team 5! We’ve encountered some survivors, but they are refusing to join us. Waiting for orders, commander!”
A situation occurred in which the rescued survivors did not want to join. Kwang Hwi gave his orders without any hesitation.
“Stick to the plan. Evict them.”
— “Roger that! Evicting!”
Dongducheon City was now the territory of the Kwang-Hwi Faction. Those that did not acknowledge it could not be left alone. It would be a fool’s dream to think that they could enjoy peace at the expense of others.
— “Who the hell are you?! It’s my house and I will live here! …Wait, please stop!”
A resident’s voice could be overheard on the radio. He shouted at the soldiers at first but quickly changed his tone when he saw that they didn’t care about his protest.
— “Suppress him!”
Following orders, those who refused to join the militia were driven out of Dongducheon. Those with a rebellious attitude were responded to in kind with guns. Even the aggressive ones turned docile when confronting a muzzle.
“The situation room and the relocation of the HQ are almost finished.”
“Excellent. Now, start working on fortifying our position.”
Containers were transported to the downtown area. The reach stacker began diligently building up a container wall. The abandoned cars that were littered everywhere also became building materials. After flattening them, they were piled up outside the wall as an extra layer of defense. Troops were deployed to guard key locations. They were rapidly laying out the framework for their future well-being.
The day ended as darkness engulfed everything, only to be pushed away by the following sunrise. All roads except those intended to be used by the Kwang-Hwi Faction were blocked. Warning messages were posted all along outside the wall.
Kwang Hwi and other key members gathered at Dongducheon City Hall.
“Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we were able to relocate the HQ successfully.”
Thunderous applause followed his comment. They were appreciating their leader’s foresight, their comrades’ hard work, and, most of all, their own diligence, courage, and bravery. At the same time, they were hoping that this shiny moment was the start of their future and were encouraging themselves not to be afraid of any challenges they would face on their path of survival.
“Now then, shall we check on the results?”
Kwang Hwi gave Soo Min a look. Soo Min stepped forward, holding a piece of paper.
“In total, we found 210 survivors in the city, of which 200 joined the Kwang-Hwi Faction.”
The faces of the members present darkened. Originally, Dongducheon had a population of 50,000 to 60,000 people. While 210 survivors was not a small number, it was a far cry from the original population.
“Our numbers have increased greatly. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of the salvage team, there are enough essential supplies, such as food, to meet the spike in demand.”
Some of the men who were in charge of the salvage team grinned. The acknowledgement of their arduous labor made them proud.
“How many new recruits will we get?”
“We finished the assessment three hours ago. I believe around a hundred of them will be fit enough to be trained as combat troops.”
“A hundred people…”
It was similar to the last time. On average, around half of them could be drilled into combat troops. This was good enough since they also needed people to produce other goods and maintain their equipment.
“How would you like to proceed?”
“We’ll start training all of them at once.”
Soo Min gave an understanding nod. He recognized the challenge they had to face in defending the entire city.
“We will begin the training tomorrow and…”
Before Soo Min had even finished speaking, a notification popped up.
『The number of combat troops has exceeded 100.』
『Commencing Second Stage.』
Kwang Hwi didn’t even get a chance to turn his head and make sense of the situation before his surroundings began to blur. The familiar scenery disappeared and only a white space remained. It was just like the first time he used the Merit Store.
— Ω —
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