“Please come in and relax.”
The two men looked around anxiously. They were tense because they were suddenly asked to meet the leader of the Kwang Hwi Faction. Chuckling, Jackson guided the two men to the office.
“Boss, I’ve brought the survivors.”
Kwang Hwi stood up from his seat and reached out his hand to greet them. He didn’t act high and mighty after gaining a bit of power. Moreover, he knew he had discovered an unpolished gem.
“Nice to meet you. I’m the leader, Kwang Hwi Baek.”
“H-hello, I’m Jin Hyun Park.”
“My name is Seung Chan Jeon.”
Kwang Hwi began the conversation with a light topic to ease the tension in the room. It seemed to work, as their stiff expressions gradually softened. Now that they were relaxed, he began discussing the main topic.
“If it weren’t for our UAV, we wouldn’t have found you two. You see, we just happened to watch over a small Monkey horde when we discovered that you were in a pickle.”
“We’re grateful as we were only able to survive thanks to you.”
“I’ll be straightforward. Has either of you awakened an ability?”
The two men stared at each other, puzzled. Kwang Hwi scrutinized them, but it didn’t seem like they were acting. They really didn’t know what they were capable of.
‘Maybe it was their first time using the ability.’
“Please take a look at the screen over there.”
Jin Hyun and Seung Chan looked at the screen where a video was being replayed. It was footage the UAV took a few minutes ago. The two men were frantically pedaling for their lives. A horde of Monkeys appeared in front of them, barring their path ahead. Right before clashing, the primates blocking the road were pushed away as if they had crashed onto something.
“…My eyes weren’t deceiving me?”
“I believe one of you has awakened.”
“One of us?”
Kwang Hwi nodded.
“Seeing that you came to Dongducheon, may I assume that you are willing to join the Kwang Hwi Faction?”
“Eh? Ah, yes.”
“While I can’t tell which one of you awakened, it’s certainly a handy ability. I personally find it fascinating. I would love to have you both join the Kwang Hwi Faction. If you join us, we’ll treat you better than any ordinary civilians.”
Jin Hyun and Seung Chan looked at each other to confirm their intentions.
‘It should be fine, right?’
‘It doesn’t look like a bad deal.’
While protection was attractive, it was even better to be scouted into a powerful army. If the men were in their 40s to 50s, they might have had a different opinion, but they were currently in the prime of their youth and were full of vigor and ambition. The feeling of being recognized moved them.
“I won’t mistreat you even if you don’t have any abilities. The courage you showed while escaping the city has really moved me. I’ll do my best to help you get the job you want.”
Kwang Hwi made such an offer because he was confident that one of them was an ability user. He knew they wouldn’t be intrigued if he brought nothing to the table. Additionally, it was a good deal for the two men.
“It’s certainly appealing. I won’t be in my right mind if I don’t accept it.”
“But, sir Kwang Hwi? How do you know we have an ability? Even for us, it’s unbelievable.”
“I, too, have an ability, albeit different from yours. You can say that it’s a gut feeling.”
“Y-you are also an ability user?”
Kwang Hwi purchased a gun from the Merit Shop, the sidearm Glock 17 he had distributed to all members. Jin Hyun and Seung Chan were amazed to see a pistol appear out of thin air. It was like a fascinating magic trick, captivating the audience.
“So this is how the Kwang Hwi Faction gets their guns…!”
“Wow, what a cheat. This is too OP!”
“What do you think? It might sound like bragging, but there aren’t that many groups like us that could fight against monsters. In many ways, I think it’ll be good for you to stay here.”
After a moment of silence, both spoke at the same time.
“Alright, we’ll join you.”
Kwang Hwi reached out both of his hands. Jin Hyun and Seung Chan took them without hesitation. Since they were becoming a member of the militia, they had to stick to the etiquette.
“Let’s go to the training room.”
The two new entrants were directed straight to the training room. They were going to find out which one of them had awakened. There were shooting targets installed throughout the room. Was it because they were being evaluated? The two men became fidgety once again.
“Please don’t worry too much. Just as I said before, I will not mistreat or ignore the one without an ability.”
Kwang Hwi spoke firmly as he didn’t want them to misunderstand his intentions. Upon hearing his guarantee, Jin Hyun and Seung Chan did their best to relax. Kwang Hwi had nothing to lose. If one didn’t have an ability, he could appoint him as a normal soldier.
He gave a bit of simple advice as it was nice to have more ability users. He couldn’t have enough of them.
“You don’t need to think too hard. Speaking from experience, just ask yourself what kind of ability you have and simply wish to use it. I got an immediate reaction from doing so.”
“Then, I’ll have a go at it.”
Jin Hyun stepped up first. He was a healthy, muscular male. Shutting his mouth and closing his eyes, he tried to focus his attention.
‘What’s my ability?’
Surprisingly, an image was drawn in his mind. He could tell how to use it and how powerful it was. Jin Hyun raised his hands as if he was possessed.
Kwang Hwi, who was standing behind them, felt a strong gust of wind blow through his hair. The targets that were within 100 meters all fell down. They were set to do so after receiving a fixed amount of force. Realizing he had succeeded, Jin Hyun’s face lit up.
Kwang Hwi clapped his hands.
‘He’s able to push away objects with a strong gust of wind. If so, he must be the one who sent the Monkeys flying.’
Seung Chan tapped Jin Hyun’s shoulder.
Despite his words, there was faint darkness lingering on his face. It seemed like his expectation of having an ability was crushed. He couldn’t help but feel a bit down at the revelation.
“Seung Chan, why don’t you give it a try too?”
“Eh? But Jin Hyun already…”
“Just do it. Who knows.”
Jin Hyun cheered his friend up. After hesitating for a moment, Seung Chan stood up from his seat. Perhaps because had he made up his mind, he looked more determined and focused. The targets were raised again. Jin Hyun, who had already succeeded, whispered.
“Concentrate. It seemed to have helped.”
After having closed his eyes for a while, Seung Chan reached his palms towards the target. Unexpectedly, something really came out from his open palms. The target, which Seung Chan had reached out to, was torn into pieces. It became mangled after being cut by an invisible blade.
Everyone watching was amazed.
‘I thought only one person awakened, but to think both were ability users?! I’ve hit the jackpot!’
Seung Chan, who was looking at his palm as if it were possessed, grabbed Jin Hyun’s arm and pulled him in.
“Jin Hyun, let’s do it together.”
Jin Hyun was dragged next to Seung Chan. He didn’t know why his friend was acting like this, but he didn’t mind.
“We’ll do it together at once.”
“3, 2, 1. Now!”
A strong wind gushed from the hands of the two and the shooting targets shot up into the sky. The plants and flowers nearby were also helplessly plucked from the ground. Anything that wasn’t firmly fixed was dragged into the raging wind. A small hurricane swept through the training room.
The hurricane tore the shooting targets into shreds. The flowers, which were helplessly sent airborne, were also ripped apart. Kwang Hwi, including others, was dazed by the hurricane. However, the two men who started the hurricane were panicking.
“How do you stop it?!”
The hurricane whirled for a good while until it eventually died out. Luckily, it stayed in one spot, minimizing the damage. As if they had committed a grave sin, Jin Hyun and Seung Chan apologetically lowered their heads.
While the damage was minimized, the training room was left in shambles. The shooting targets that were sent into the air crashed onto the floor and crumpled. Boxes that were not cleared away spilled out their contents. The aftermath left everybody in disarray.
“Boss! Are you okay?!”
In addition, soldiers rushed in thinking that something had happened because of the clamor.
“We didn’t mean to…”
Amidst all of this, Kwang Hwi was smiling.
“Don’t be. This is really great!”
While having two individual ability users was like winning the lottery, the combination of their powers wasn’t like 1+1=2. Instead, it was more like 3, or perhaps even more. The Kwang Hwi Faction had won the jackpot and gained immense power from what was a mere coincidence.
“I’ll be blunt with you two.”
Kwang Hwi looked at Jackson. Gazing at his boss, Jackson grinned sheepishly. He immediately knew what his boss wanted.
“Jackson, I don’t need to tell you, right?”
“Yessir. I’ll turn them into strong and unbelievably perfect soldiers.”
“I trust you.”
Jackson walked up in front of the two men.
“Men, follow me.”
Not knowing what was going on, the two flustered men fell into step behind Jackson. Seeing this, Kwang Hwi did his best to hide his smile.
For three days straight, the SPGs bombarded Yangju City. Loud artillery fires would start sounding early in the morning, but none of the members gathered at the Situation Room thought twice about it. While it was annoying at first, they had gotten accustomed to it in two days.
“How’s the current situation?”
“We’ve destroyed everything in the east. There may be a handful of Monkeys hiding under the wreckage, but most were eliminated.”
East Yangju was utterly demolished. Shells were frequently reloaded and exhausted soldiers were rotated so that they could fire non-stop. Due to the constant deafening noise, some civilians who lived nearby complained of headaches. The number of Monkeys seemed to have dropped from a size-four to a size-three scale.
“In the south, our recon team is on the move. Thankfully, it seems like only a small number of Monkeys escaped there. Once in a while, a size-two horde would appear, but they’re quickly being suppressed.”
Kwang Hwi did not rule out the possibility that Monkeys could escape to the south. To prevent this, aside from the SPGs, he had dispatched mortars and other weaponry to the south.
The mortar team had even secured a separate temporary foothold there. Their primary purpose was to stop Monkeys from entering or leaving the area by using 81 mm shells. While not as strong as their 155 mm counterpart, the 81 mm weapons were sufficient enough to blast away the simians.
As long as the soldiers responsible for the mortars were not tired, it had the advantage of firing shells rapidly. In return, the UAV pilots moved around without a rest. The barrage of shells fell from the sky like rain. As a result, the Monkeys could not leave the city.
At first, a small group of Monkeys attacked the mortar team. Still, they could not remain standing in the face of the Kwang Hwi Faction’s bulletproof vehicles and machine guns. Separately, a search team surveyed the area with the APCs. They created a racket and lured the Monkeys nearby.
With distorted faces, the monsters charged in, only to be greeted by grenade launchers. Before they could cross the line, the majority died. The lucky ones managed to scratch the vehicle’s body frame, but their claws snapped. The Namer was an overwhelmingly powerful vehicle. With its help, the search was quickly over.
“Boss, it’s over.”
The SPG that fired the last shell lowered its head. While he needed to reload it, he had been overspending MP over the past three days. They also had to maintain the SPGs before reusing it.
“Keep focusing. It’s almost o—”
His sentence was abruptly cut off by something shattering the window. Something had entered the Situation Room: a Monkey.
— Ω —
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