49. Don’t mess with us!
In front of the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan lay a pond named ‘Mirror Pond’. It had earned its name from the reflection it gave off of the sky and its surrounding.
The pond was complemented with a blue-roofed gazebo on one side, allowing the visitors to gaze at the beautiful scenery in peace. Below the gazebo, a three-eyed Armata was muttering something with closed eyes, “xkdhffkfk!”
Armata raised his hands from his chest and stretched them towards the sky, as if he was going to hug it. With two eyes still closed, his third eye flashed open.
An invisible shockwave blasted through the area, spreading outwards in a circle. The trees and various plants around the pond shook violently. Buildings and plants reflected on the pond began to fade away. Its effects also reached the pond. It began to dye itself black—dark as ink. As soon as the pond turned completely black, a sizzling sound went off, clear even amid the rustling of leaves.
A dark flame had emerged.
Its heat was so intense that the surrounding temperature began to increase. The black burning flame on top of the water was not only strange but also terrifying. That was not the end of eeriness, though; a faint silhouette was moving inside the flame. Inside the gazebo, Armata opened all three of his eyes.
White skeletons, set off by the black flame, emerged out of the pond. They were not fazed by the intense heat from the flames whatsoever. The undead, without any feelings, had stepped foot in this world.
Armata frowned, his eyes full of contempt while staring at the skeletons.
“Sending the underlings first, huh. How cowardly.”
The skeletons formed a circle around the pond. Each grabbed its spear, shield, or whatever weaponry it had on its back and scanned the surrounding with caution.
One skeleton stood apart from others; it was the commander. Unlike its counterparts, whose bones seemed brittle, this one was much larger and sturdier.
The leader of the skeletons approached Armata inside the gazebo and lowered its head. The greatsword on its back jutted out, enhancing its charisma as the commander.
Armata opened his mouth and asked curtly, “The hell are you supposed to be?”
“Pleased to meet you, Lord Armata. I am Sten, under Lord Bannis.”
“Sten? I’ve heard that name before.” Armata’s head tilted in thought, and his eyes widened at once. “Were you with the Human Alliance?”
“Yes, my Lord. However, my past is no more. I have since been born anew under the graceful arms of Lord Bannis.”
Armata chuckled in disbelief. He might be a subordinate of an ally, but he was once an infamous enemy feared by many in the past. Even the ignorant and reckless Kekus would turn tail when facing Sten.
How such a figure died and turned undead was a mystery, and it was quite baffling, to be honest.
“Right. So, when is Bannis going to show up?”
“Lord Bannis will arrive later with all of his forces… my Lord.”
“Huh! He’s bringing them all?”
“At least that’s what I have been told.”
Armata clicked his tongue in disapproval. “Undeads can be formed here. They’re not worth the trouble.”
Sten kept silent with his head lowered.
Armata’s irritation crept onto his face. He waved his hand towards Sten, signaling him to go away.
“Alright then. Go tend to your soldiers. I’ll rest for a bit and open the portal again.”
“As you wish, my Lord.” Sten kept his head low as he backed up.
Armata turned his gaze towards the Mirror Pond again. The black flames were still raging, and the pond was plunged into darkness.
“Well, since I started it, I should also finish it.”
The flames grew larger and roared fiercely, as if understanding his words. However, little did Armata know that he was being watched.
The images taken by the Heaven’s Eye Recon Satellite were delivered to Kwang Hwi. At the moment, his core commanders were huddling around the footage. The new changes had them all concerned, as it represented an unknown enemy.
A pond was, simply put, a large puddle of water. But from that large puddle of water, flames and skeletons one would see in movies were rising. And that was not all—the flames were unusually black.
No amount of common sense would be enough to explain the scene unfolding before their eyes. Without the satellite, they wouldn’t even have known that something as ridiculous as this was happening.
Kwang Hwi was aware that nothing about this was normal. In fact, this was far from normal.
[Destroy the portal by eliminating Armata.]
[Reward: 2,000,000 MP]
[Failure: Complete annihilation of the Kwang Hwi Faction and rapid spread of chaos across the Republic of Korea]
A second emergency mission was presented to Kwang Hwi, and the reward was a staggering 2,000,000 MP. Given that 300,000 was the most he had received when unlocking a new Category in the Merit Shop, it was clear just how crucial this mission was.
“A dimensional portal?”
The mission description proved that Kwang Hwi and his executives had assumed correctly. The monsters belonged to another world.
“How about a fire mission first? From the Gyeonggi Province Northern Government Building area, they’ll be barely within reach of the SPG.”
The K9 SPGs were conveniently stationed in the Uijeongbu base at the moment.
“Good idea.” Kwang Hwi immediately gave the green signal.
The SPGs were done with maintenance and were on stand-by when the order came down. They immediately raised their guns and prepared the pre-emptive strike.
– Target confirmed. Loading one round.
After Soo Min confirmed that everything was good to go, he turned to Kwang Hwi, who nodded in response.
The bullet path of the rounds fired by the SPGs was displayed on the digital map. With the speed of the projectiles, the distance of 38km was covered in an instant.
However, an unforeseen change took place. The rounds disappeared without a trace before the impact zone. The trajectories, now incomplete, also vanished from the map.
“Heron, HQ. Status on impact zone, over.”
A brief pause.
The atmosphere was so tense that seconds felt like hours. The wait was excruciating for everyone in the command center.
– HQ, this is Heron. We must have missed. Negative effect on impact zone, over.
Even the surrounding areas of the Mirror Pond showed no traces of any impact. After calmly observing the whole situation, Kwang Hwi broke the overwhelming silence.
“Ready fire for effect.”
– SPG 1 ready for fire for effect!
– SPG 2 ready as well!
Six trajectories were now visible on the map as the missiles headed for their targets. The executives held their breath. Every single one of them was wholly focused on the digital map.
– H-HQ! You need to see this!
Live footage was connected to the office as the Heron operator’s cries sounded from the transmitter. The screen showed the impact zone, the Mirror Pond. Out of the corner of the display, a giant bird monster popped out.
It was a familiar sight for Kwang Hwi and his executives. The monster was similar to the Giant Bett they had taken down with the Pantsir earlier. This one was slightly different, though: it had a horn.
It was no ordinary horn, either, since it gave off a bluish light. What happened next was even more surprising. The bluish light grew in intensity, and explosions suddenly went off in the air.
A total of six explosions sounded, indicating what was happening. All six rounds from the SPGs were cut off in the air. The trajectories simultaneously disappeared from the map as well.
“It… intercepted the… shells?”
This was, of course, not impossible with modern technology. Even the LPWS was more than capable of such a feat. However, that was the case for modern technology. To see a monster do so was baffling, to say the least.
The Kwang Hwi Faction continued to send rounds afterward, but it was futile. They tried waiting it out, but the Giant Bett continued to roam the vicinity.
‘An emergency mission indeed, huh.’
Their efforts were useless. So far, none of their tactics had borne any results. It was to be expected, though; things were going a bit too smoothly after all. Some hiccups meant a challenge, and they were certainly up to it.
Kwang Hwi stood up. The executives stared at him as they sat nervously, swallowing their breath.
“The hell are you guys doing? Time to go.”
As soon as the siren blared throughout Dongducheon, the soldiers grabbed their gear and rushed out from their downtime.
“Jackson, can you…”
“No need to say it. I got you, Boss.”
Kwang Hwi stared at Jackson, his eyes full of skepticism. Jackson pounded his chest in absolute confidence.
“Trust me. Sir.”
Kwang Hwi shook his head as he walked out, equipment in hand.
The whirring of blades stirred up clouds of dust in the air. The Kwang Hwi Faction had mobilized all its helicopters and headed towards the National Museum of Korea. The executive next to Kwang Hwi handed him a smart tablet connected to the UAV.
– They’re still coming out!
From the initial hundreds, the skeletons were now over a thousand strong. It was only moments ago that they dotted around the pond here and there. Now, the pond’s surroundings were teeming up with them.
– Commander, Giant Bett detected.
“Fire as soon as you lock-on.”
– Roger! Initiating lock-on procedure.
In this operation, eight Dragonflies had been deployed, equipped with 25mm autocannons and Stinger anti-air missiles. The Stinger was preferred over the Hydra to handle the Giant Bett, which had rendered their SPGs useless.
– Lock-on complete… Firing!
Dragonflies lined up in a row and fired missiles in unison in a magnificent display. Amid sharp whistles, eight streaks of white decorated the sky blue canvas. The missiles sped up to 2.2 Mach in an instant.
The Giant Bett circling the museum raised its head and let out a sharp screech. Its instinct was screaming about the impending danger. Something was approaching. Fast. The Giant Bett’s horn intensified its blue glow in response.
Its defense didn’t disappoint it. The Stinger missiles headed towards the monster blew up midair, three missiles exploding in an instant.
– Firing remaining Stingers.
The cold war machines once again let loose eight missiles, and new white lines formed a beautiful visual before its predecessors could vanish. Thirteen missiles were now baring their fangs at the Giant Bett.
The Giant Bett’s horn flashed continuously, and a missile would vanish with each flash. Still, the missiles were too fast to keep up. They rapidly shortened the distance to their target.
The first set of missiles that blew up midway were too far to cause any damage, but the latter few missiles were close enough for the Giant Bett to feel its impact. By the time half of the sixteen missiles were intercepted, it was too late.
The rest of the missiles were now a mere fingertip away from their target. Just one was more than enough to do heavy damage. Unfortunately for the monster, eight missiles charged at it from all angles.
The Giant Bett violently exploded, not even having a chance to let out its final scream.
– Target neutralized!
[You have slain ‘Giant Bett’.]
[You have obtained 200,000 MP as a reward.]
[You have defeated a member of the Armata family.]
[You have defeated a unique variation possessing minor levels of fragments. You have obtained 300,000 MP as a reward.]
Just one single monster had gifted them an outrageous 500,000 MP. This Bett was worth 100,000 more than its regular counterpart.
“Armata will know we’re coming now.”
Perhaps the chopper had become lighter after firing the Stingers, but it seemed to move faster. Less than a few minutes later, a green forest began to cover the landscape. They were approaching the National Museum of Korea and the Mirror Pond.
“Proceed to engage immediately.”
The autocannons spat out bright yellow flames, kicking off their direct assault at the Armata family. The bone monsters on the ground, who were cautiously watching the choppers, were reduced to pieces under the heavy fire.
[You are the first person in the world to defeat a ‘Skeleton’.]
[You have obtained 500 MP as a reward.]
“The bone freaks will be called Skeletons from now on.”
– Roger, Skeletons in sight.
The Skeletons were dummies, though. They retaliated only after dozens of their comrades were shredded apart. However, their choice of weapon was anything but modern like their foes in the sky.
Bows materialized out of thin air into the Skeletons’ hands. Despite being torn apart, the Skeletons remained unwavering and pulled back their bowstrings.
Loud twangs sounded like a sweet melody on the battlefield. The fully taut bows loosened, and the bone arrows were released from their strings. Unlike the invisible bullets, the rain of arrows painted a hellish landscape.
– EVAC! EVAC!
The helicopters carried out evasive maneuvers at once as the aircraft broke even-flight and dodged the arrows with wild movements. The majority of the arrows missed their targets and whizzed past the helicopters. However, the few that did manage to hit did nothing.
The Dragonfly, while it might seem relatively small and weak, was fully equipped with enhanced bulletproof armor capable of fending off 50 caliber bullets. Arrows, let alone rifle rounds, stood no chance against the hard exterior.
“Their ranged weapons are useless! Maintain fire superiority!”
The Dragonflies roamed all over the place. They were like fish in the water and continued to baptize the Skeletons with fire. Although the monsters were still emerging from the pond, the autocannons were much faster in disposing of them.
– Woah, woah!
The point chopper turned sharply. At the same time, Kwang Hwi’s eyes widened in surprise. A Skeleton was flying towards the lead helicopter that Kwang Hwi was on.
It was the undead commander from the first group of Skeletons.
It was Sten.
He was holding a greatsword as big as himself with both hands.
The Skeleton leader and his greatsword gave Kwang Hwi goosebumps. For a moment, he was dazed, but he forced his wits together and grabbed the AA-12 on his lap.
The greatsword slashed out the transport door. It was an act to behold—unbelievable, despite seeing it in person.
The wind rushed into the aircraft as it saw an opening. Along with it, a hand, devoid of flesh and blood, reached out to Kwang Hwi. However, Kwang Hwi turned his barrel towards Sten and roared at the top of his lungs.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?!”
A squeeze of Kwang Hwi’s finger gave Sten a warm welcome.
— Ω —