48. Preemptive Strike
“What do you mean? Be specific.”
– We’ve detected movement in the air headed this way from Seoul. There are approximately 200 of them!
“Did you try contacting them through comms?”
– We got no response.
No radio response? That made things much easier.
“Take them down.”
There was no way in hell he would allow strangers to set foot on his base.
– Data link established.
After a few moments, the target’s information from the long-range radar was sent to the Pantsir. This Pantsir Missile System, an anti-aircraft artillery vehicle, was the reward for completing the emergency mission.
Although it was quite expensive, its performance reflected its value. Its maximum firing range was around a staggering 20km.
– Target Locked! Fire!
With a boom, a 57E6 missile shot up into the air. Flames burst out of the missile’s rear as it sliced across the blue sky, leaving a trail of white smoke behind. At the launch site, clouds of dust and smoke blinded everyone. For a brief moment, the missile seemed to pause mid-air.
A blast rang throughout the air. Right as it stopped, the missile shot off again, raising its altitude. As the second booster came alive, the missile reached its maximum speed in an instant.
It landed right in the center of the spherical unidentified flying object.
The flash from the explosion was bright enough to reach Kwang Hwi’s office. The rest of the missiles followed suit in small intervals and found their own spheres to strike.
Thunderous booms sounded in succession, accompanied by black smoke and blazes of light.
– All Hits! Target neutralized!
Although mission success was confirmed on the radar, four new targets popped up. The Pantsir responded in kind, and four missiles soared through the air, piercing the sky one after another. Kwang Hwi’s eyes were glued to the radar display that was being transmitted to the office.
A monster disappeared from the radar each time the Pantsir roared.
– We are black on missiles! Switching to the Vulcan rounds!
The Pantsir automatically maneuvered its 2A38M 30mm Autocannon, as it had run out of missiles. The monsters were within 4km of the Pantsir, in the firing range. The autocannon raised its barrel towards the sky, aiming at the monsters who dared challenged its authority.
Streaks of bright red lined the sky. It was a sight to behold; beautiful, almost.
In an instant, the projectiles found their mark, and the flying spheres crumbled into pieces. The Vulcan adjusted its aim and continued to maintain fire superiority. Thick shell casings poured out of the ejection port like raindrops pelting the ground. Once the casings hit the ground, a pleasant melody rang out, only to be buried underneath the symphony of rapid gunfire.
Around 50 monsters were now left from the original 200. Once their numbers deteriorated to such a degree, the monsters began splitting themselves. Little offsprings of the sphere monsters began spreading themselves across the atmosphere, like specks of ink on an empty canvas.
The radar display was soon filled up with little dots. The airborne monstrosity from before, ‘Bat’, paled slightly in comparison to the massive clump of dots. 50 had become 150 in an instant.
The control operator stuttered in disbelief.
– Th-their numbers have tripled.
Kwang Hwi kept his cool, though. As the commander, he must calm both his nerves and his men.
“Deploy the LPWS.”
– Roger! Deploying LPWS.
The Pantsir was a formidable anti-air vehicle, but it fell short when faced against numerous targets in the sky. So, another anti-aircraft system was needed to make up for its weakness. However, anti-air weapon systems were too costly.
They were expensive even for Kwang Hwi, who had accumulated a significant amount of Merit Points. The LPWS, however, offered a solution. Simply put, it was a Land-based Phalanx Weapon System.
[The Phalanx, originally installed on warships, was remodeled to befit land-based vehicles and is now ready for land ops. Initially utilizing 20mm cartridges, its recent upgrades now allow it to operate 30mm autocannons, dramatically increasing its firepower. It is fully capable of detecting and responding to small objects such as mortar rounds. Estimated maximum firing range: 2km.]
[Price: 150,000 MP]
The autocannon raised its muzzle and made it rain. In the blink of an eye, the small spheres disintegrated before they could reach the Kwang Hwi Faction’s headquarters.
Dust swept across the battlefield, running far as the breeze gave chase. Maybe, the LPWS was a bit too much of an overkill. The dots filling up the radar began to quickly fade away.
150 became 100.
100 became 30.
– Our defenses have been compromised!
Despite the best efforts of the Pantsir and the LPWS, several spheres managed to survive like cockroaches. They found their way into the vicinity of the headquarters. However, the monsters shouldn’t have split themselves so close to the base.
The troops on standby quickly aimed their guns towards the spheres, ready to make them pay. Kwang Hwi was observing everything through the action cameras attached to the soldiers. Although it was impossible to tell from the radar, the sphere was composed of mud.
Mud. It reminded Kwang Hwi of something.
Just as Kwang Hwi was lost in thought, the sphere began to undergo mutations. Its round shape warped as arms grew out. When its arms touched the ground, a pair of rods extended out of its back, acting as its legs.
Even though the head hadn’t formed yet, it was already evident what this creature was. It was smaller than the ones that the Kwang Hwi Faction had faced before, but it was definitely a Mud Golem.
Having come to the same conclusion, the field commander hastily hurled out orders, “It’s a Mud Golem! Fire!”
As the rounds struck the Mud Golem, the unformed golem began shaking. Clumps of mud even dripped from the golem’s gunshot wounds, as if it was bleeding. This version was definitely weaker than its previous brethren, which were highly resistant to small arms.
A grenade launcher blasted the Mud Golem’s torso away. The golem trembled on its remaining two legs, but there was no reprieve for it. Another grenade flew towards the golem to end its misery.
It returned to the earth, failing to display the remarkable regeneration ability the previous Mud Golems possessed.
Jackson, who was paying attention to the radio, made an additional report. “Boss, all monsters in HQ have been taken care of.
“Maybe it’s because they’re smaller, but these ones seem less durable.”
The newer Mud Golems dropping from the sky had limited powers. They were smaller than the original and had lower resistance. The original Mud Golems would’ve brushed aside these rifle attacks. However, these ones were vulnerable to them.
This proved in favor of the Kwang Hwi Faction, as they suffered no casualties.
“Are we linked to the satellite right now by any chance?”
“We’re connected to UAV, which is currently pointed towards Seoul.”
“Connect it to a monitor. Towards Dobong-gu.”
As requested, the bottom camera on the UAV aimed towards Dobong-gu. The golems towards Uijeongbu were holding their ground, not even budging an inch. Kwang Hwi tilted his head in confusion.
‘They’re standing still?’
It was an odd ambush, too ambiguous to push through an opening. If Kwang Hwi was Armata, he would never have done such a meaningless action.
‘Then… a misdirection?’
Kwang Hwi raised his head.
“Let’s check someplace else. Start with the areas bordering Seoul.”
“Then we’ll scan through Goyang City first.”
His bad intuition rarely missed its mark. After around thirty minutes since the camera changed direction, thousands of Mud Golems were spotted walking amidst Goyang City.
The silence of the empty streets was overwhelming. These streets were supposed to be full of life, people, and cars. But now, lost objects, no longer reminiscent of their past, were strewn about both the sidewalk and the road.
At long last, the silence was broken, and the streets miraculously became alive once again. Only this time, the source of the noise and vibrations wasn’t people nor cars. They were Mud Golems.
Each time a golem’s massive foot landed, the ground would shake and the windows of nearby buildings would rattle, as if it was an earthquake. Thousands of golems were acting as one. They stepped in unison, amplifying the effect.
Artillery shells from the K9 SPGs rained down on the Mud Golems’ heads, and the series of explosions demolished their ranks. The golems were reduced to mud, mixing with the ground they were treading on before.
However, the Mud Golems remained indifferent to the destruction and chaos. They continued to march forth like an emotionless machine. It was like looking at dolls—not even a single hint of emotion was visible.
The artillery strike continued on for a long time. Whenever the rounds were exhausted, they would be replenished by the K-10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle.
Realistically, a decent period was required for the K9 SPG to exhaust all of its default 48 rounds, alongside the 104 rounds provided by a supply vehicle. When the artillery ceased its action, once a tightly strewn pristine formation of the golems was littered with numerous craters.
[You have defeated 700 Mud Golems faster than anybody else in the world.]
[You have obtained…]
[You have defeated 800 Mud Golems faster than anybody else in the world.]
[You have obtained…]
Kwang Hwi opened the Merit Shop.
[K307 HEBB 155mm Artillery Shell]
[Designed for the K9 ‘Thunder’ SPG. Equipped with new drag reduction technology, the K307 HEBB is able to travel farther than its previous versions. Maximum firing range is up to 40km and blast radius is up to 30m.]
[Price: 115 MP]
[Bundle purchase is available.]
[x48 bundle price: 5000 MP]
[x96 bundle price: 10000 MP]
Kwang Hwi purchased the 96-rounds bundle. His Merit Points were converted into the shells now laid out in front of him. The loaders on standby proceeded to carry the rounds to their designated SPG.
“Fire when ready.”
Just because the SPGs were on a break didn’t mean that the Kwang Hwi Faction was done with its assault. Rather, two Merkava MK. 4 Tanks were approaching the Mud Golems.
The tanks stopped once the enemy entered their firing range. The required data was already inputted into the control system and a round was loaded into the chamber.
“On the way!”
Deafening blasts echoed in the surroundings as tank rounds fired from the MG253 smoothbore covered the distance of 2km in a flash. The targeted Mud Golem’s body shook. A fissure had formed where it was hit.
The golem crumbled without any chance of retaliation, powerless under the might of war machinery. The gunner then switched to HE rounds. When the ammo door opened, half of an HE round revealed itself. The loader grabbed the round, pushed it into the barrel, and screamed, completing the process in one swift motion.
Without pausing, the gunner aimed at its next target. The necessary values were calculated automatically beforehand.
“On the way!”
Each time the tanks spewed fire, golems would fall one by one. Although 120mm was a bit smaller than 155mm, unlike the SPG, a high-angle weapon, a tank shell directly hit its targets. It was more powerful in terms of raw strength.
The Namer APCs refused to let its Merkava compatriots bathe in all of the glory.
While the immense explosions and firepower stole all the enemy’s attention, the APCs went around and flanked them from the rear.
The APCs lined up in a straight file, ready to engage and rain hell. All vehicles except defensive carriers were now gathered together.
“Commander, we’ve reached their backs.”
Kwang Hwi’s command was simple.
– Light ‘em up.
“You guys hear that? Commander said light ‘em the fuck up!”
The Namer APCs blasted their 30mm autocannons at the golems’ backs. They weren’t as devastating as a high-angle 120mm, but 30mm was more than capable of inflicting pain on the enemy.
The Mud Golems in the rear were torn apart as rounds slapped their backs. Some of them turned around once they realized the presence of another threat. But it was too late. The autocannons had done their jobs already.
What the 30mm autocannons lacked in power, they made up for it in the rate of fire; they were fully capable of firing in auto mode. The APCs took advantage of this feature.
The rain of bullets pelted the approaching Mud Golems. They were like sitting ducks caught in the barrage of autocannon fire.
“Driver! Start backing up slowly!”
The APCs didn’t just stand there, though. They moved back to keep their distance, making the golems’ efforts to close in on them meaningless. The APCs left piles of mud and brass in their wake each time they backed up.
Amid the whirring of blades, familiar silhouettes rushed past the APCs. The AH-6 LittleBirds had made their appearance. The Dragonflies had ditched their default 25mm autocannons and Hydra rockets to be fully endowed with the Hellfire anti-tank missiles.
The adjustment aimed towards absolute victory.
[AGM-114 Hellfire Missile]
[Anti-tank missile equipped with a percussion fuze. It can reach up to a maximum speed of Mach 1.3, and its name reflects its absolute firepower. Its high speed and piercing capabilities allow it to destroy even third-generation tanks. Being second to none, the Hellfire Missile is the world’s best anti-tank missile.]
A distinct whistle sounded in the chaos of autocannon and tank fire. One of the Dragonfly had let loose all of its missiles and raised altitude. The rest of the Dragonflies followed suit and carried out the same actions: exhaust all missiles and take off.
A total of eight aircrafts exhausted their missiles in an instant. Dozens of Hellfires shot through the air, leaving traces of white. Dashes of red and white whizzed toward the golems, and none of the missiles missed their target.
It was destruction and annihilation everywhere, truly proving to be hellfire.
[You have slain more than 1000 Mud Golems.]
[Additional MP will be rewarded for every golem-type monster slain.]
[All monsters within Goyang City have been eliminated.]
[You have obtained 100,000 MP as a reward.]
[Gyeonggi Province’s Goyang City is added to the Controlling Area category.]
[It is strongly suggested to deploy troops in the area. If troops are not stationed there, other forces may take over the territory.]
While Kwang Hwi was bombarded with Merit award notifications, one of his executives looked at him with excitement.
“All threats have been neutralized.”
“Good work, everyone.”
Kwang Hwi smiled back and voiced his acknowledgement. They had tided over another monster wave and took control of an additional region.
“We’ll have to clean all this up later.”
“Not anytime soon. It’ll probably stay like this for a while.”
The La Festa area in Ilsan City, where the Mud Golems attacked from, was now an absolute mess. Buildings were in shambles and ruins, and piles of mud decorated the surroundings. However, it was to be expected since hundreds of artillery shells, autocannon rounds, and anti-tank missiles had carpeted the place before.
“What’s our status?”
“No human casualties, thanks to long-range weapons. But our armored vehicles need an overhaul due to overuse.”
Simply put, they had to be disassembled to check everything, part by part.
“Looks like maintenance is gonna have a rough time.”
“It’s good that we have actual engineers this time. We could only do little maintenance before.”
“Although the engineers have to toil for a while, make sure the rest of the troops get a well-deserved break.”
— Ω —