World’s Greatest Militia: Chapter 38

38. Find It (1)

The encroaching Mud Golems lost their shape and returned to a pile of dirt. Without a target, shells flew through the air. One of them landed on top of a bus, causing a massive explosion. Bright red flames soared into the sky for a brief moment.

“Cease fire!”

The hard-working autocannons went silent to take a rest. Even so, an acrid smell of gunpowder pricked the men’s noses, a natural result caused by shooting for an entire day. It was more than enough to nauseate those who weren’t used to it. The sun had already set and a thin veil of darkness had replaced it.

— “Boss! All targets have been incapacitated!”

A report from the Heron showed that the Mud Golems that once filled the screen had all returned back to the soil.

“Boss, everyone is exhausted.”

Kwang Hwi wore a grim expression at the outcome. At first, he was fairly confident that they would be able to suppress the enemy in a few hours. As the battle continued for an entire day, his outlook became bleak.

Despite eliminating over hundreds of Mud Golems, new ones would appear at set intervals. There was no end to them, no matter how many rounds they fired. It was just like pouring water into a bottomless pit. Only after the sun had set were they able to take a breather.

Kwang Hwi inspected the tired men nearby. Having fought a fierce battle for an entire day, they were at their limit. If the fight had continued, casualties would have occurred from exhaustion. While he wanted to search the area, he knew it would be a selfish request on his part. Now was the time to retreat.

“Get ready to return to HQ.”

“Roger. We’ll make the preparations.”

“Also, retrieve our brothers who have died.”

Unfortunately, his brave men who faced off the mutated don were all killed in action. They were the first casualties of the Kwang Hwi Faction. The faces of his subordinates, including Jackson, stiffened at the news. They had tried their best, but it was near impossible to prevent losses.

“We need to make sure that the families of our fallen brothers are treated with respect. Jackson, take care of it for me.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Now, move out!”

His men dispersed to make the necessary preparations while Kwang Hwi contacted the Situation Room at HQ to call the Mi-26. They needed to quickly transport the wounded soldiers. Even though it was dangerous to summon it without any escorts, he had to take the necessary risk. Fortunately, the helicopter arrived quickly without any hiccups.

A strong gust of wind from above blew against his hair as the blades whirred. The beads of sweat on his forehead cooled down rapidly. Underneath, two men waved their traffic rods to guide the helicopter. As the helicopter’s landing gear contacted the ground, its rear door opened in haste.

Soon after, wounded soldiers and those who had died in action were boarded. Then, the tied up gangsters and survivors alike were escorted inside. Finally, the destroyed Light Tactical Vehicle occupied the unused space. The vehicle was utterly crushed by the don, rendered inoperable. So, it had to be slowly towed by other vehicles from behind. By the time the transport helicopter was ready to take off, foot soldiers had completed preparations to leave.

“We’re returning! Prioritize the safety of all members.”

— “Departing to Dongducheon HQ. Ryker-2 will guide the way.”

Ground forces made up of APCs, tanks, and tactical vehicles left the police station. Even in the dark sky, the fuselage of the Mi-26 was easily visible. Behind them, heaps of dust around the police station were blown away by the wind.

***

“Dear! No!”

“S-son, what am I supposed to do now…”

Coffins of the fallen soldiers were laid out on the open field. They were crafted to the best ability possible in an apocalyptic world. Even so, it couldn’t be compared to official ones with fancy decors.

Each coffin had the names of the fallen soldiers, and they were surrounded by their respective family members. Upon receiving the sudden grievous news, the families mourned in their own ways. Some sobbed loudly, while others mourned in silence. Kwang Hwi and his subordinates also attended the funeral. The guards immediately stood upright to greet them.

“Commander, you’ve arrived.”

Placing an index finger on his lips, Kwang Hwi approached the families. Everyone’s eyes were on the commander-in-chief.

“Bring back my husband! Bring him back!”

A widow threw flowers on Kwang Hwi’s face, scattering the petals onto the floor. The alarmed guards tried to protect Kwang Hwi from the crowd, but he raised his hand to stop them. Bending his knees to pick up the chrysanthemums scattered on the ground, he carefully placed them on top of the coffin.

“I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”

He bowed deeply to the widow to show his sincerity. For those who had lost their family members, it was natural to be angry and aggrieved. As their leader, he was responsible for their deaths. Even if he couldn’t have prevented casualties, he may have reduced the numbers if he had carefully planned out the operation beforehand.

His subordinates, who were following from behind, also bowed silently. Seeing these tough and battle-hardened men apologizing to her, the widow burst into tears. Kwang Hwi then quietly bowed to the other families. For those who didn’t have family members, he stayed in front of the coffins for a while to offer his prayers. Without any relatives to bid farewell, he couldn’t just leave them alone.

“It’s been a short time, but thank you for being with me. I… will see you again when I get there.”

After finishing, Kwang Hwi left the funeral gathering. As if reflecting the hearts of the people, the gloomy clouds looked like they were also about to shed tears. After a long silence, Kwang Hwi opened his mouth.

“Soo Min?”

“Yes, boss.”

“Why don’t we send the prisoners we captured this time to our farm?”

It was where the Kwang Hwi Faction was born and also where Kwang Hwi lived before the monsters appeared. After moving to Dongducheon HQ, his house was repurposed as a farm to utilize its large fields and some of the recent survivors were deployed there to cultivate the lands.

“Do you plan to use them as slaves?”

“Yeah. There’s no good reason to keep them alive, so we might as well use them for manual labor.”

Reports were coming in that they needed more manpower to manage the abundant farmland, so Soo Min agreed with Kwang Hwi.

“Understood. We’ll send them out tomorrow. I’ll have them work like those slaves in salt farms.”

Having the gangsters work like this was also beneficial for improving the public opinion of the Kwang Hwi Faction. Kwang Hwi and his subordinates walked along the road, sharing their views on the way.

Right before they went inside the Dongducheon City Hall, Kwang Hwi caught sight of a destroyed vehicle that had been left in one corner. It was the Light Tactical Vehicle that was destroyed back at Uijeongbu. Its hood had practically caved inside the engine, making it impossible to repair. When Soo Min followed his eyesight and spotted it, he spoke with a troubled expression.

“We tried our best to repair the vehicle, but our engineers reported that it would be more economical to scrap it altogether. Although, there isn’t much left that could be used as spare parts…”

“Yeah?”

Kwang Hwi smacked his lips. Unlike the earlier days, he didn’t lack vehicles now. Furthermore, there was no need to purchase Light Tactical Vehicles from the Merit Shop as he could find plenty in nearby military bases. Nevertheless, it was still disappointing to let it go just like that.

‘What can we do about it?’

At that moment, a message appeared at the corner of his eye.

『Would you like to recycle the destroyed Light Tactical Vehicle K-151?』
『Complete Repair: 7000 MP』
『Resell: 3000 MP』

“Hm?”

Startled by the sudden prompt, Kwang Hwi blurted out, “What’s this?”

‘Complete repair? Resell?’

It cost 10,000 MP to purchase the bulletproof K-151 from the Merit Shop. Just to make sure, Kwang Hwi looked away in search of another target. There just happened to be a regular sedan he had found at downtown right next to the destroyed vehicle. The content of the message changed.

『This was not purchased from the Merit Shop.』

He reshifted his gaze back to the Light Tactical Vehicle and the content changed once again.

『Would you like to recycle the destroyed Light Tactical Vehicle K-151?』
『Complete Repair: 7000 MP』
『Resell: 3000 MP』

It seemed like he could only ‘recycle’ equipment purchased from the Merit Shop.

“Repair it.”

A white light wrapped around the Light Tactical Vehicle after he chose to repair the scrapped vehicle. It was so bright that he couldn’t open his eyes. His men also covered their eyes in tandem.

“…What’s going on?”

“Why are you even surprised?”

『7000 MP have been deducted.』
『Repaired.』

The light disappeared and the destroyed Light Tactical Vehicle regained its original appearance. On the surface, it looked no different than when it was first purchased. However, the HMG that was torn apart was missing. It seemed like he needed to buy the weapon separately.

‘If we can repair equipment mid-battle…’

If the pilot was fine, as long as he had time to spare, he could repair any vehicle with some MP. It would, in effect, have infinite durability. This was another piece of good news for his future encounters.

Kwang Hwi headed to his conference room with his subordinates. Along the way, he met those who were preparing for the meeting. The pictures taken by the Heron were displayed in order on the projector and the Mud Golems roaming around Uijeongbu were enlarged.

“Even though we eliminated a significant number of Mud Golems yesterday, there are already new ones to replace them.”

“Just like Yangju.”

Monkeys in Yangju also took advantage of their fast reproduction cycle to bolster their strength, a similar case to the current situation in Uijeongbu.

“Are the Mud Golems reproducing like the Monkeys?”

Hearing Jackson’s suggestion, a commotion followed in the conference room as the attendees engaged in the discussion.

“The Golems look like inanimate objects. Are you telling me they can reproduce?”

“Logically, no, but common sense has been destroyed long ago.”

“Come on. Even so…”

Having been silent the entire time, Kwang Hwi spoke to provide his own viewpoint.

“I think it’s closer to being manufactured.”

“Manufactured?… It does make sense.”

The men were slightly surprised, but they nodded their heads. They had gathered testimonies of the don before he turned into a mutant from the survivors. Prior to Kwang Hwi Faction raiding Uijeongbu, the don was skilled at using blades. However, he didn’t look like a monster back then.

Given his nature, it was apparent that he was not the kind of man who would hide his strength. Rather, he liked showing off to everybody. This meant that he was originally a human that transformed soon after Kwang Hwi Faction appeared.

“And the entity responsible for causing such a change was likely Armata.”

‘It must also be why I saw <Armata’s Family> in the notification.’

“Armata…”

“Then, all we need to do is either find and kill Armata or research how the Golems are made and destroy its source.”

“Bingo.”

— Ω —


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