31. Who are you again? (1)
Just in time, the search team that had entered the Yangju City Hall reported back.
— “HQ, this is the search team. We have fully secured Yangju City Hall and found 50 survivors.”
Soo Min, who had taken charge of the team instead of Kwang Hwi, spoke.
— “Except for the one who got paralyzed by a Monkey, everyone else is fine. The poisoned individual is receiving first aid treatment as we speak.”
“Alright. Return to HQ.”
Watching over the city hall video footage from the Heron, Kwang Hwi ordered the men to come home. Initially, they were planning to use Yangju as a forward operating base. However, their plans changed once the monsters had resisted them inside the city hall. The autocannon had demolished the building with its 30 mm shells.
‘We need to find a new checkpoint.’
|『Combat Force Info』|
Kwang-Hwi Faction (View Symbol)
[Absolute Leader] Kwang Hwi Baek
[HQ] Dongducheon City, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea
Yangju City, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea
[Operating] 2x K-9 SPG
[Operating] 2x APC Namer
[Operating] 4x Light Tactical Vehicle
[Operating] 2x Medium Tactical Vehicle
Dongducheon City Security Team
Power Plant Guard Squad
Farmland Guard Team
Recruit Training Center
There was a knock on the door. Kwang Hwi closed the Command System in front of him and refocused his attention on the visitor.
The office door opened slowly and a subordinate carrying documents carefully approached Kwang Hwi.
“Commander, here are the reports.”
Kwang Hwi meticulously inspected the papers. The documents contained fine details of what the Kwang Hwi Faction had obtained from securing Yangju City. As the commander, he only needed to concern himself with the overall situation and let his underlings do the rest.
Yangju Armed Forces Hospital – 50 people.
Yangju City Hall – 50 people.
Yangju City – 10 people.
“This time, half of the survivors are army surgeons and military soldiers who were hospitalized. A comprehensive report of each individual is listed on the following page. Please view them at your leisure.”
Kwang Hwi flipped a page. Their name, military rank, and position were all there in detail. There were five army surgeons and the rest were hospitalized soldiers or hospital employees.
“How are they doing?”
“The hospitalized survivors all have some modicum of injuries. Some people were already ill, while others received theirs from Monkeys.”
“We should treat them with care.”
“Yes. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like anyone has any serious wounds.”
It was fortunate there were no grievous damages or losses. No matter how many medical personnel and supplies the Kwang Hwi Faction had, it was challenging to recreate the capabilities of past medical services. It did not only depend on these factors as there was a lot more involved behind the scenes.
“It’ll be best to incorporate all the survivors from the Armed Force Hospital into our military and have the rest plow the farmland.”
Kwang Hwi’s former base was currently idle, so his private land had been repurposed into farmland. While they had plenty of food right now, they couldn’t push aside cultivating the land. It wasn’t like food grew in a matter of a few days, so they had to prepare in advance.
“Do you want to train them immediately after they get back to their feet?”
“As you say. I’ll have it taken care of.”
Miscellaneous reports followed after, such as their former lifestyle or rusted ammo they carried with them. There was also good news, though. SPGs, which had been under maintenance due to overuse, had returned to operational status. After confirming the reports, Kwang Hwi changed the topic.
“How is the training coming along for the two?”
“You mean the hurricane duo that recently joined?”
Kwang Hwi shook his head in amusement. It was a strange nickname that was indeed one of its kind.
“Many people were impressed by the hurricane they created at arrival. Therefore, the men are now calling them the hurricane duo.”
The ‘hurricane duo’ were practicing their ability at Dongducheon Training Center. They chose the location for having a sparse population around. Besides, there was no need to worry about collateral damage as it was close to the mountain range and was far from the city. Jin Hyun and Seung Chan, who were facing each other, shouted at the same time.
“One, two, three!”
With a swish, a small tempest formed at the empty lot. Small tree branches that were planted ahead of time rose into the air and were torn to fragments. It was not just some simple gale as each stream of wind was as sharp as a blade. Once sucked in, most life forms would perish within.
The two friends glared fiercely as they focused on controlling the hurricane they had created. Now and then, the situation took a dangerous turn. The hurricane would climb the mountain, only to change its course and head towards Dongducheon City Hall. Whenever that happened, beads of sweat would drip from the two men who would try their best to twist its direction.
They could have caused an unintentional coup d’état with their attempts. The raging storm gradually subsided under their guidance. After confirming that it had disappeared, the two men flopped onto the floor, too tired to remain standing.
“It’s like taming a wild horse.”
While it wasn’t easy to control the hurricane, they were getting better at it with each attempt. It was as if some horse had stepped on a nail and went on a rampage, rather than letting go of the reins. Naturally, it was exhausting trying to deal with that.
“Even though I saw it last time, it still amazes me.”
Jin Hyun and Seung Chan scrambled to their feet. Kwang Hwi, who had just arrived, looked at the two with delight. He was satisfied with their earnestness and hard work.
The two men raised their right hands to salute. Although they were previously known as survivors, they were now Kwang Hwi Faction’s recruits. Thus, they had to treat Kwang Hwi with the utmost respect.
Even after Kwang Hwi had told them to relax, the two only lowered their hands. They stood upright like a spear, waiting for orders. It seemed like military discipline had been drilled into them, and quite thoroughly at that.
‘Seems like Jackson overdid it once again.’
Considering Jackson’s personality, their reaction was natural. Only Kwang Hwi and his subordinates treated him like a naive kid. When it came to disciplining underlings, no one else was stricter than Jackson.
“Have you gotten familiar with your abilities?”
“Yes! We need more practice, but we’re getting accustomed to it.”
“That’s good to hear. I look forward to your performance.”
Kwang Hwi patted the duo’s shoulders, but his eyes suddenly became sharp. Seeing Kwang Hwi reaching out for his leg holster, Jin Hyun and Seung Chan looked at him with surprise. In a flash, Kwang Hwi held a pistol in his hand.
The two men panicked as they called out to Kwang Hwi, but his gaze was fixed on the mountain. He was fully alert as if facing some grave danger.
The two men, who belatedly realized there was a trespasser, also hurried to pull out their pistols wrapped around their waist. Regardless of rank, all members of the Kwang Hwi Faction were given sidearm.
“Come out! If you won’t, we’ll open fire!”
Despite the warning, the mountain forest remained still and silent. Seung Chan and Jin Hyun even wondered whether there really was someone out there. Just when they had that suspicion, Kwang Hwi pulled the trigger.
The bullet hit a tree, forcing the hiding people to step out. The duo’s intuition was proved false as the black shadows revealed themselves. Kwang Hwi squinted his eyes; the people who had emerged all looked shabby. It almost made the ones who were rescued after a month look like some sort of nobility.
Their clothes were ragged, covered in dirt. Most of their skin was exposed and their faces looked miserable from the hardships. Even a young child looked like he was in his thirties. Some of them were holding onto rocks as substitute weapons. From their mouths, Kwang Hwi could only hear an unfamiliar Korean accent.
“P-please, do not kill us!”
“W-we’re only trying to run away from the monsters!”
Jin Hyun and Seung Chan’s mouths gaped. They couldn’t hide their curiosity and one of them gave voice to his thoughts.
‘Are these people…’
“I think so.”
Kwang Hwi grabbed onto his radio and sent an order to the Situation Room.
“Commander speaking. Send one support team to Dongducheon Training Center.”
In less than two minutes, a loud engine noise could be heard from afar; it was the Light Tactical Vehicle.
“Boss! Where are you?!”
Without saying a word, Kwang Hwi shot a bullet into the air. A gunshot rang and the surprised North Korean defectors flinched. After identifying the location from the noise, the support team rushed to the scene. One of the best veteran soldiers greeted Kwang Hwi.
“Greetings, commander. I’m Hu Seok Oh, a Sergeant leading the support team.”
“Sergeant Oh, guide these people to the temporary relief center.”
“These people are… understood.”
After identifying the North Koreans, the Sergeant moved quickly. Following the protocol, the soldiers checked to see if the defectors carried any weapons. After doing so, they gathered them to make sure no one would wander elsewhere.
“Everyone! Please follow the instructions. There is no need to be afraid or nervous.”
“HQ, this is support team 3. We need one town bus.”
— “This is HQ. Your location?”
“Entrance to the Dongducheon Training Center.”
— “Affirmative. It’ll be there shortly.”
With a concerned expression, the defectors obediently followed instructions. Their eyes were fixated on the guns each soldier carried. It was typical for people to be scared of strangers carrying around weapons. At the very least, most would get nervous. Yet, the defectors were showing signs of relief, contrary to what might one think. Kwang Hwi was able to get a rough idea of North Korea’s situation from this; they were in the same plight as the South.
“…Seems like we won’t have time for breaks.”
He wanted to leave the HQ for a while, but it seemed like he had to return just after 10 minutes.
Kwang Hwi gathered his most trusted men when it was long past sunset.
“Have you found out anything about the runaways we found this evening?”
“They lived near the border. After the monsters appeared, the North Korean military issued evacuation orders to a nearby military base. Unfortunately, even that base was attacked.”
“Was the military unable to stop the monsters?”
“Yes. Just like us, all of their weapons were destroyed.”
Beside the handful of special forces, the ordinary soldiers in North Korea were far worse than South Koreans. It was questionable whether the famished and inadequately equipped North Korean soldiers would be able to kill even one Monkey. Most were probably swept away by the monsters.
“How do you plan to deal with the defectors, boss?”
“We’ll accept them.”
Having anticipated such an answer, the subordinates nodded. Kwang Hwi Faction had to keep expanding its size. That way, they could train more soldiers and maintain a powerful combat force.
“Like the survivors in the Armed Force Hospital, there are many in poor condition. Additionally, we need to teach them our language to communicate properly.”
“In the morning, train them like the hurricane duo. In the afternoon, teach them our language.”
“I think that’ll be enough for the defector issue…”
Kwang Hwi looked at one person.
“In Ho Kang.”
“Major In Ho Kang, reporting!”
In Ho sprang to his feet with a stiff face. He was responsible for rebuilding Dongducheon as a fortress.
“If monsters, not the North Korean turncoats, came to our Dongducheon Training Center from the mountains this time, everyone would have been in trouble.”
Unable to respond, In Ho lowered his head. The incident proved that the fortification process was not complete. They were fortunate to have defectors instead of monsters and had discovered an unexpected weak point. Perhaps the mutant Monkeys Kwang Hwi previously encountered came from the mountain range after taking a detour.
“Don’t forget this mistake.”
Kwang Hwi ended his scolding with a light warning.
Even if his subordinate had made a mistake, it was his responsibility to check on it. After all, he was the leader and was responsible for their actions.
‘It’s my fault too.’
Kwang Hwi waved at his subordinate to sit.
“We’ll block the roads to the mount—”
A loud, whirring sound interrupted their meeting as everyone looked outside the window.
— Ω —
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