The entire National Museum of Korea had been razed to the ground under the merciless onslaught. The battle was over in a jiffy, and Kwang Hwi emerged as the obvious victor. He immediately visited the Merit Shop to purchase 25mm rounds.
All munitions were used up in the previous fight.
They would be helpless if more enemies showed up in their current state.
“Yeah! Put it there.”
“Grab it and stay put!”
As the pilots and soldiers resupplied themselves, the clangs and dull rustling of iron resounded throughout the field.
“Hurry! Take off now!”
The Mi-26 Transport Helicopter took to the sky, bringing the wounded and the Light Tactical Vehicle along with it. Fortunately, the injury count was reduced to the minimum, and they only belonged to the Chinook helicopter that was shot down by the Bone Dragon: three pilots, an engineer, and the gunner manning the minigun.
Kwang Hwi stared at the fading helicopter. “How are they?”
“The medic says it’s pretty bad. A miracle, really, for them to be breathing…”
Avoiding instant death was more than one could ever hope for. Kwang Hwi silently prayed for the injured to be healed.
“We’ll head back once we finish loading up autocannon rounds into the choppers.”
Kwang Hwi turned to the executive.
“We checked with the UAV; Yongsan district seems clean, with no monsters anywhere. How about we check it out while we’re out here, sir?”
“Our troops need rest, no?”
“They do… A tiny bit of rest with some energy bars might do the trick, though.”
While Kwang Hwi hesitated, Soo Min chimed in from all the way in HQ to help persuade Kwang Hwi.
– We might as well check out what the Ministry of Defense and Joint Chief of Staff have been up to. About a month ago, we confirmed records of several VIPs, including the Secretary of Defense entering an underground facility below the government complex.
“The Secretary of Defense?”
When they had secured the president last time, they did not find any secretaries of any government department.
– If our findings are correct, there should also be a Blackhawk and some armored vehicles stored there.
Kwang Hwi nodded eventually. With no more monsters left to fight, now was a good time as any to check it out.
“Pack some food into Mi-26 and send it over here. It should be on its way there with the wounded.”
Kwang Hwi sat down on the bench next to the pond. This bench was surprisingly untouched, unlike its brethren that were mangled beyond recognition by shrapnel and pieces of monsters.
A few clumps of bone powder here and there were quickly brushed off.
[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
– Uijeongbu City, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea
– Paju City, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea
– Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea
– (Operating) 2x K9 SPG
– (Operating) 2x Namer APC
– (Operating) 2x Mk-4 Merkava Main Battle Tank
– (Operating) 10x Light Tactical Vehicle
– (Operating) 5x Medium Tactical Vehicle
– (Operating) 1x IAI Heron UAV
– (Operating) 1x Night Intruder-300 UAV
– (Operating) 1x Pantsir S-1
– (Operating) 1x Mi-26
– (Operating) 8x AH-8 Littlebird
– (Operating) 1x A-10C Thunderbolt
– (Inoperative) 1x CH-47 Chinook
– (Operating) Heaven’s Eye Reconnaissance Satellite
– (Operating) Heaven’s Ear Military Communications Satellite
And at the very bottom, the total amount of Merit Points in Kwang Hwi’s possession was displayed.
[Merit Points: 8,240,000]
‘Quite the haul today.’
He had spent 1,260,000 MP earlier on the A-10C Thunderbolt. With the current amount of Merit Points, it was possible to buy even more A-10Cs or attack helicopters. The Ah-64D Apache that Jackson clamored about was 4,780,000 MP.
Another possible substitute mentioned during their discussion, the AH-1Z Viper, cost 3,200,000 MP. The cheapest one, the Russian Mi-28 Havoc, was 1,500,000 MP. The Kamov KA-50 from the same country had a price tag of 1,610,000 MP. He could buy up to five of those.
However, even if he bought them now, these choppers wouldn’t be in use immediately. Although the Kwang Hwi Faction had launched its own pilot training program, it was still taking its baby steps.
Smashed helicopters could be repaired through Merit Points. But the same couldn’t be said for losing pilots.
‘Any pilots out there…’
Kwang Hwi could only pray that there were pilots hiding in the underground facility.
The troops filled their stomachs with the food brought by the Mi-26.
“Alright, let’s head out.”
The group in Seoul was divided into two. Kwang Hwi personally led one team to investigate the Ministry of National Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, and, if possible, meet the Secretary of Defense.
Until a few years back, the United States Forces Korea headquarters was located in Yongsan, but then they moved down to the countryside. In the end, it meant less work for Kwang Hwi.
The other remaining team was tasked with investigating the densely populated areas of Yongsan. Their goal was to rescue the survivors in hiding. Kwang Hwi permitted them to use the Mi-26, which was big enough to fit 90 people at a time.
“Send out the rescue team first.”
Three Dragonflies and the sole Mi-26 headed off first. Attached to the transport helicopter was a large speaker to lure out survivors.
– People of Yongsan district! We’re here to rescue you! If you can hear this broadcast, please come outside! We will provide you with food and shelter.
The broadcast was loud enough to almost bury the rotor sounds from the chopper. People would’ve called the cops for noise complaints if things were still the way they were.
“We’ll head out as well.”
Kwang Hwi’s team boarded the Dragonflies and took off. The Ministry of Defense offices weren’t far, and they soon saw the two buildings standing proudly in the distance. They were the Ministry of Defense building and the newly built Joint Chiefs of Staff building.
<Defending our Nation together with the People!>
“Doesn’t look too intact, huh.”
“It looks like the Golems came by first, sir.”
Traces of destruction and slaughter left by Armata’s minions were clear and visible for the eyes to see, especially so in the building’s front garden. Pieces of ripped human torso dirtied the green with red.
Although they were decomposed beyond recognition, Kwang Hwi was still able to see through the decay. He had once seen a similar horrific sight back when he was in Africa.
Green grass was turned crimson, and it was not a sight to see for people with weak stomachs.
The Dragonflies landed softly on top of the grass, and the soldiers disembarked from the transport compartment to scan the area. Confirming that all the members had exited, the choppers lifted off again. They had to be airborne, just in case they had to react to any uncertainties.
The team quickly moved into the government building. These soldiers had already turned into experts at this point. With no monsters barring their way, they swept through the building like a tornado.
Kwang Hwi kept eyes on the status of the wounded as he awaited the recon results.
– Commander, we’ve finished searching through the building.
“Even the Joint Chiefs of Staff building?”
– Yes, sir. We’ve checked everything minus one area, which was crumbled down from Golem attacks. No survivors were found.
Kwang Hwi nodded. The results were expected.
“Alright. Head back to the 1st-floor lobby.”
Kwang Hwi grabbed his HK416C and also went upstairs.
“Soo Min, I’m all yours now.”
– Roger that, Commander. Head down to the 1st basement floor.
Kwang Hwi led his troops to the underground structures. The staff dining hall was located in the basement. When the men stepped foot inside, they were greeted by wafts of rotten food.
“We’re here. Where’s our next location?”
– Men’s room, the very last stall.
A mere bathroom being the next target surprised an official moving with the team. He wore a baffled expression. Kwang Hwi remained indifferent, though, and followed his guide.
Dust was piled thick in the bathroom, as it had been left unattended for a long time. Still, it was in much better shape than the garden outside. The team moved to the last stall.
A cautious push. It had the same structure as any other stall one would find anywhere: a toilet in the middle and a large bin in a corner.
– At one side of the bin, there should be a small button. Press it three times in a row.
Kwang Hwi felt across the bin with his hand. Certainly enough, there was a small button at the side. The button was white, matching the bin, so it was really easy to miss.
*Click. Click. Click.*
The response was immediate as the wall on the opposite side split open. Shocked, the soldiers aimed their guns towards the new opening. Fortunately, there was nothing but a downward passage beyond the wall. There were no monsters or other hints of danger.
– Do you see the passage? You just have to follow it.
Kwang Hwi entered the passage and walked down the hall. The automatic sensors detected movement and switched on the lights, chasing away the darkness. The lights illuminated the end of the passage. The team was greeted with the same set of doors as the ones seen under the Blue Palace.
This was one of the facilities mentioned in the president’s laptop: the VIP emergency underground shelter linked between the Ministry of National Defense building basement and the Joint Chiefs of Staff building basement.
– I’ll open the door remotely. There might be an ambush waiting inside, so please proceed with caution.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. Just open the door.”
Any possible hostiles beyond this door were unarmed. Hence, the chance of Kwang Hwi’s team losing against unarmed retaliation was zero.
Fully armed soldiers rushed to the front. They covered the leader with their bodies and raised their barrels towards the front. Kwang Hwi also grabbed his Glock in the leg holster.
The security system located above the doors activated itself. These doors were impossible to open, let alone approach, with low authorization levels. But with their laptop, it was possible to enter into any facilities.
[Top Authorization Level Confirmed.]
With a hiss, the doors opened, and right away, the soldiers swiftly infiltrated indoors. They swept the place once before shouting, “All clear!”
Kwang Hwi followed through with his official, who was flinching with nervousness.
“This feels more like a hangar than a shelter.”
The inside part was a lot more spacious than imaginable. This was no simple bunker by any means. It was more of a combination between a hangar and a shelter.
The doors that Kwang Hwi entered through were in the center. To the left were the command center, office, and living quarters, while military equipment was lined up on the opposite end.
Most of the equipment was firearms or weapons, including the K-2 Assault Rifle, but they were ruined beyond repair. Some features stood out among the rest.
Beside the military equipment, multiple freight elevators were installed. They weren’t small elevators commonly seen in civilian facilities or apartments. Instead, these were huge models, big enough to move armored vehicles and helicopters.
Kwang Hwi approached the freight elevators.
[Freight Elevator No. 1]
There was nothing left in the spot where the lift was supposed to be, with only four pillars supporting the elevator remaining in solitude.
Kwang Hwi’s eyes moved toward the ceiling. It was wide open, but the elevator shaft was engulfed in darkness. No. 2 and 3 were also in similar shape.
Off to the side of the elevators, K-21 Infantry Fighting Vehicles with several holes in their sides and Light Tactical Vehicles stood unattended. The Blackhawk chopper, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen.
“I don’t see the Blackhawk anywhere. The freight elevators were already activated as well.”
– Is that so?
After a moment of silence, Soo Min solved the mystery in Kwang Hwi’s head.
– I think the VIPs that were sheltered here took the Blackhawk and escaped Seoul.
“Looks like it.”
Kwang Hwi smacked his lips. The VIPs could always be taken care of later, but losing such critical equipment was definitely a shame. The Blackhawk would’ve come in handy.
Kwang Hwi turned his head. There were people being dragged out by his soldiers. They weren’t in standard military uniforms but in G-Suits, worn only by pilots.
“We found them hiding in a corner.”
“Are-are you the rescue team?”
‘Just what we needed.’
“I-I’m Captain Jung In Lee, Army Aviation Operations Command.”
“Warrant Officer Ho Jun Kim.”
Kwang Hwi’s expression brightened. Warrant officers usually had more flight experience than most regular officer pilots. After lightly exchanging greetings, Kwang Hwi stopped beating around the bush, inquiring about the Secretary of Defense’s whereabouts.
“We heard that the Secretary of Defense came down here right as the monsters started appearing. Do you know where he went?”
“That son of a bitch? We’re not so sure ourselves.”
“Probably ran off somewhere, with his minions.”
“…Did something happen?”
The two pilots didn’t hesitate to mask their anger against the Secretary of Defense. “When the monsters first appeared, the people working in the Ministry of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t think much of the situation. They all believed things would quickly die down. But that was obviously not the case. As you’ve already seen, firearms and weapons turned to shit, and the military became powerless.
“The few who realized the true gravity of the situation hurried down here. This shelter might be classified, but everyone who worked in these buildings knew about this place. But the Secretary of Defense entered in first and locked the doors.”
“He locked… the doors?”
“This facility is capable of sheltering up to 150 people. But that didn’t matter to the secretary. He only opened the doors for his close allies, some bodyguards, and pilots needed for flying the helicopter. He only looked out for himself.”
The two pilots’ faces reddened as they continued to recap the scenes back then. “Even though he was our superior, his actions made us furious. We tried reasoning with him… that we had to let everyone in… that this place was more than capable of handling everyone. Next thing you know, he attacked us, and we lost consciousness.”
Recounting those memories caused the pilots to frown and rub the back of their heads. “When we woke up, the secretary was gone with the helicopter… We had no choice but to remain here.”
After listening to their story, Kwang Hwi receded into deep thought. He assumed that winning over these two gentlemen would be as easy as taking candy from a baby.
— Ω —