8. Expansion (1)
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It had been two days since the beginning of what could only be described as ‘the end of the world’. Internet and mobile networks had finally crashed. Phone calls and text messages were left unanswered and many were left wondering which, if any, of their loved ones were still alive.
During this time of crisis, the government refused to take action. The radio stations that had been broadcasting pre-recorded warnings now played nothing but silence.
Even though the power grid was down, there were solar panels on the roof of Kwang Hwi’s house, which provided the home with enough electricity to get by.
In the past two days, they had made several renovations to his house, transforming it into something more suited for their current situation. Among those changes, his men had turned their old drinking room on the second floor into an office. In there, Kwang Hwi was reviewing the logistics report he received from his men, when he heard a brief knock on the office door.
Soo Min entered the room, holding a sheet of paper in his hand. He handed it over to Kwang Hwi.
“Boss, here’s the information about the people who joined us yesterday.”.
Kwang Hwi took the report and quickly skimmed through it. He only needed to read it once to memorize the recruits’ personal info.
Soo Min pointed at the paper. “People with specialized skills are marked on the report. Those who didn’t have any unique talents are listed at the bottom. We can train them to become soldiers in the future.”
Kwang Hwi gave his comrade a stern nod. “First and foremost, we have to expand our base.”
In order to increase their overall forces, they had to make a number of preparations. Of these, acquiring more land was the highest priority. The new arrivals needed to live somewhere other than Kwang Hwi’s yard. In time, they would also need room for training and storing equipment. Thankfully, it wasn’t difficult to acquire more land. Kwang Hwi’s current base was rather secluded, which offered large tracts of land for the taking. This would have proven to be much more problematic if they were located in a downtown hub.
“Soo Min, I need you to bring me two people.”
“Who should I bring?”
“These two,” said Kwang Hwi, tapping his finger next to their names.
Kwang Hwi selected an interior designer and a construction worker. Soo Min left the room and quickly returned with the two in tow. Two middle-aged men meekly followed Soo Min into the room. The two shuffled about in place and clasped their hands together in abject silence. They kept their heads down and averted their eyes as Kwang Hwi observed them. It was easy to see that they were nervous. It was to be expected, seeing as Kwang Hwi was the leader of this group. With but a single word he could have the two of them kicked out, which was nothing short of a death sentence.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Brigadier General Kwang Hwi Baek.”
“B-brigadier General?” One of them men stammered in surprise. “Didn’t you tell us yesterday that you weren’t a part of the military…?”
“You do not need to be in the military to have a rank. Please, sit.” Kwang Hwi motioned to the chairs in front of his desk.
The two white-knuckled workers sat down, waiting to hear what they were called here for. Kwang Hwi laid something out onto the table in front of them. It was a map of the local area. He remained silent for a moment in contemplation, before finally addressing the two men.
“I heard one of you worked as an interior designer and the other worked for a construction company. Is that true?”
Both of the men replied immediately. “Y-yes!”
“Then, please take a look at this,” said Kwang Hwi, as he pointed towards the map on his desk. The map highlighted notable areas in the city. One such area on the map was marked with a red border. It was the neighborhood Kwang Hwi’s house was located in.
“This is where my house is located. With the money I saved, I bought large tracts of land and built a house much larger than a single person would ever need. But, it’s not big enough to house dozens of people. Shouldn’t we create a better living environment that’s large enough to accommodate as many people as possible?”
The construction worker caught on to what Kwang Hwi wanted first. “So, you want to expand your base and set up some temporary accommodations for everyone.”
Kwang Hwi nodded. While there were a few factories near the house, most of the land consisted of empty lots. So long as they were able to fortify the surrounding land, they would be able to expand with no worries.
“I heard you guys worked in a nearby factory. Can you get the materials you need from there?”
“It’s possible,” said the interior designer, “while they’re not in the place I work at, there’s a pile of shipping containers close by.”
“Shipping containers?” Kwang Hwi’s eyes shined.
‘Shipping containers could be used for a myriad of purposes, including serving as walls and temporary housing. Didn’t the former President also build a wall with shipping containers? To think that there were some nearby, especially when we are nowhere near the coast. It’s welcome news to say the least.’
“We can use those as walls and the leftovers can take care of the housing problem you mentioned. On top of that, we can probably find something like a prefabricated house in the factory.”
“Sounds good,” Kwang Hwi grinned. “You’ll come with us when we head there later.”
Although neither of them wanted to go, the two men didn’t dare speak up against Kwang Hwi.
Kwang Hwi gathered all of his subordinates together. He felt that now was the right time to unveil his plan.
“I heard the yard where the shipping containers are stored is quite spacious. I think it’d be nice to bring some new recruits there after training.” Kwang Hwi paused for a moment. “How’s that going anyways?”
“Boss, you’re planning to toss them into live combat this early? There could be casualties,” remarked one of the subordinates. “You should know that shooting practice dummies is way easier than shooting moving, living targets.”
Kwang Hwi knew. However, he felt it would be better for the new recruits to experience an actual battle now, rather than continue their training with dummy targets.
“Even during their training, they should build up some actual combat experience. If it’s against a small group of Keku, I think the recruits will be fine.” Kwang Hwi spoke confidently.
One of the men suggested, “Hm… I think it’ll be best to have some backup.”
The drill sergeant nodded. With backup from the veteran mercenaries, they didn’t need to worry about the recruits getting into trouble.
“Pay special attention to their mental training. They’re civilians that have been living comfortable, normal lives up until now. Remember what we went through when we were going through training in the army. We have to make them obey orders unconditionally.”
“Yes, Boss! Understood.”
It wasn’t going to be an easy task. In the face of the apocalypse they joined his group out of necessity to survive. Even with the training he had already provided them, these people weren’t going to forget their old lives overnight. He needed to mold them by fire, through trials and tribulations.
“As we grow, we will need to become more structured,” said Kwang Hwi.
“Do you mean we should form an organization…?”
“We aren’t any different than a group that controls a region based on military strength. In other words, a militia… We need to have an internal command system. Is anybody dissatisfied with me being the leader?”
Kwang Hwi shared his thoughts. Everyone remained silent. Naturally, no one was dissatisfied. It was due to Kwang Hwi that they were all here in the first place.
“I think it would be best to use military rank. As I am the commander-in-chief, I will be the Brigadier General,” said Kwang Hwi.
“Boss, how can you be so greedy?”
“That’s right, boss. Even in private companies, they normally use Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel. Starting off as a one-star general? You need to earn that rank!”
His subordinates really enjoyed making a fuss. Kwang Hwi grinned in response.
“Is that so… I felt bad for only giving myself a star, so I was going to assign you as Lieutenant Colonels. If you guys don’t want it, then I suppose it’s best if you start off as Captains,” said Kwang Hwi.
“Ahaha… come on, boss. You know we were joking.”
“We love having a higher rank!”
It was obvious that his subordinates were flip-flopping. Some men even looked like they were ready to bow down to Kwang Hwi. Kwang Hwi looked at them with disgust and shooed them away. Anybody watching could tell that they were joking around.
“Forget it – it’s too late. You can all start as Majors,” concluded Kwang Hwi.
“Boss. Without fail, I will always support your decision,” said Jackson.
“Wow, Jackson. Sucking up to the boss already!” said Soo Min.
Kwang Hwi rapped his knuckles on the table and commanded his troop’s attention. The room soon became quiet and all eyes focused on him.
“Once the recruits are done with their training, they will be assigned to each and every one of you. Likewise, you must select a senior officer from the graduates to take the lead. Understood?”
If need be, Kwang Hwi planned to recruit talents from outside of his troop. Veterans didn’t just disappear because their guns malfunctioned. What he needed the most right now were soldiers.
“Ah – come to think of it, boss. Don’t we need some sort of name?”
“Hm?” Kwang Hwi’s eyebrow raised in response.
“It won’t matter if it’s just between us, but other people will need some way to recognize us.”
Kwang Hwi became deep in thought. He was right. They needed a distinctive name for their soldiers to rally under and for other powers to fear. Even gangsters had some sort of name for their group like the Crips and the Bloods. It was weird that the world’s only military power did not have a name.
“Any ideas?” said Kwang Hwi.
“Oh me! Me!” exclaimed Soo Min.
The first person to raise his hand was Soo Min. Kwang Hwi became uneasy. Soo Min was likely to say something stupid. Similar to Soo Min’s excellent skills, the nonsense that came out of his mouth was superb.
“How about Kwang Hwi Faction? Since the boss does everything for us alone, we should name it after him!”
The entire party burst out into laughter.
“Kwang Hwi Faction! It certainly has a nice ring to it.”
“Oh God… In English it’s… Morning Glory?” said Jackson.
His instincts were right. Kwang Hwi let out a sigh.
“Drop down.” said Kwang Hwi. The rowdy subordinates immediately rammed their head into the floor.
— Ω —
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