Volume 1 / Chapter 15
“What is this place?”
“I found it by chance while I was running away. There are a few other places too.”
The place where Zephyrus had led him was a bunker that could fit around 10 people. There were things like food and supplies in random places.
He said that they were not purchased, but already here when he first found it. Items found on a mission can be used. They cannot forget that it is reality.
“Odin, you passed the interview.”
Cha Jun Sung tipped his head in puzzlement. It sounded like Zephyrus had decided on some benchmarks and tested him. Zephyrus relieved his curiosity.
“I saw 3 things.”
He then explained.
First, he did not underestimate him because he was young.
Second, he allowed him to take on all of the mutants.
Third, he was the same until the very end.
He was young, but he had his own standards. He could be seen as very thoughtful.
“Are those three criterions hard to fulfill?”
“I tried out a lot of parties, but there weren’t many who even passed the first.”
Countless times, he had heard laughter of disbelief at first sight or the words that a minor should not be leaving prank comments online. They did not see him as a Lifer.
“The second was to see which side you considered important.”
It had not mattered that he used harsh words in his post to try to filter out the garbage. The people who came in were all the same.
However, he had not given up. He had the belief that a good person would come in at some point. Someone like Cha Jun Sung who was still looking for a party even after experiencing the bitter aspects of it.
“Until now, there were 3 other people who had passed the second point. But they were busy shooting their guns when the blood-sucking insects came swarming in.”
This he could understand. Blood-sucking insects needed to be eliminated early on. Those people must not have trusted Zephyrus’ skills.
Cha Jun Sung himself could not guarantee that he would not have done the same if he had not trusted Zephyrus. That was how dangerous the insects were.
“Since I passed the interview, is it time to earn trust?”
Cha Jun Sung thought Zephyrus was cute. Though he did not act young, he was.
Looking at him as one Lifer to another however, his skill and personality was one to be admired. Age cannot become a determining standard of evaluation.
“What can I say to gain that trust? Information that only I know?”
Cha Jun Sung spoke casually. He did not have any intentions on surprising him.
Zephyrus was someone he wanted to make into a comrade, but he did not want to be at a disadvantage. Since he did not seem like he would speak first, he would have to tell him in the pretense that he had been fooled.
“I’m sure you know that Level 2 mutants appear when it’s 1000 points?”
“I saw that on Lifer World.”
“From 1500 points, 2 come out. I think there were about 400 Level 1 mutants?”
Cha Jun Sung continued to explain that because they were smart, they recognized objects that were a danger to them and hid while ordering the dwarves around.
Zephyrus asked questions as he listened. The difference between reading about it and listening to someone who had experience speak was that of theory and encounter.
Then Cha Jun Sung said the most important thing.
“Acting alone instead of as a party will make it difficult to reach over 1000 points. Even if you are the best out of 100, you’re nothing when facing numbers.”
Zephyrus sighed. There was no disputing it. That was the reason why he did not move over to another mission.
He had spent everything on the case, but his goal was to get points from Underpass and buy the best equipment from the Class E store. He estimated it would take a month.
“While we’re on it, I’ll tell you one more thing. I earned 5260 points in the tutorial. That became the foundation for this equipment.”
“A special mission?”
“I guess that’s what is linked to the reason why we need to move quickly. If you stay in one place for a while, the evil blood-sucker could appear or there could be another format…”
Zephyrus was shocked. He looked like he had seen a ghost. He muttered,
“Oh, how did you know that…..!”
“Knowing the term special mission means you’ve already gone through it and….. looking at your behavior upon entering Underpass, I can assume.”
Cha Jun Sung had not only looked at Zephyrus’ skills. He had kept Zephyrus’ words and defensive behavior in mind.
It might be difficult to put something together with one piece, but a profile can be made out after gathering pieces. It was like a puzzle.
“With this much, I believe you have something to say as well.”
Talking alone defied the courtesies of give-and-take. Since he taught Zephyrus something he did not know, Zephyrus also needed to hand over information.
“I only know what I learned through Underpass.”
Cha Jun Sung gestured to him to continue as he did not care about such things.
The listener is to decide if the information is useful or not. Even if it is useless, he liked Zephyrus. He would be satisfied with becoming comrades.
“Exactly 12 days ago, I came into Underpass in a 6-person party.”
He was rewinding his memory.
Zephyrus recalled when he first stepped into Underpass 12 days ago.
Zephyrus’ first party. It is also the only party that was annihilated.
Their reason for choosing Underpass was nothing special. It stood out while they were looking for 500-point missions. To put it simply, they were just looking for something that would pay.
The start was smooth. Since they were all experienced in Life Mission, they knew what they needed to be careful of while facing the blood-sucking insects.
Since there were 6 of them and they were all fairly skilled, they completed the mission without much problem.
Then, one of the party members suggested looking around the underpass just for fun instead of heading back.
The party had delightfully agreed. It was a Class E mission anyway. Blood-sucking insects did not pose much of a danger. This was why the party was wiped out.
“Had you not heard an explanation on the overall difficulty from your helper?”
“….. We had heard it, but didn’t know how exactly it would apply.”
Cha Jun Sung had a bitter expression. The information from helpers were basic, but you could avoid a meaningless death by following their instructions. They had overlooked that.
It was difficult to survive while taking caution of only what was visible. The chance of survival was higher when being careful of something that could not be seen to the eye than what could.
Zephyrus’ party had ignored this and crossed a river they could not return from.
He could empathize on the one hand. He had listened to Odin, but he would not have understood the importance of it if he had not experienced Caicus.
“As we went along the path in the Underpass, we came upon the evil blood-sucker’s home and the mission went from Class E to Class D.”
They had heard a sound come from a hole they saw in an alley they were passing.
They thought that it was the sound of wind passing through, but threw a grenade into it just in case, opening the door to hell themselves.
“2 evil blood-suckers who were guarding hundreds of cocoons came out.”
Evil blood-suckers were Level 3. They were the final evolution of blood-sucking insects. They were repulsive because they looked like a cross between an earthworm and centipede.
Its nature was as atrocious as its appearance – it was cruel. It enjoyed stabbing its opponent to death with its spikes or wrapping itself around the opponent to cut it up.
It showed its strength as a Level 3 mutant through its fast speed and unexpected movement. But 2 evil blood-suckers came out? That was bound to be a disaster.
“Was giving up the mission not an option?”
“We were forced. We could have if we had not been discovered by the evil blood-suckers, but we weren’t given the option once they had already seen us.”
“So you couldn’t force a return.”
Lifers’ forced returns were only possible if they did not move from the spot they were in.
When he asked Odin about the principles, Odin had said that the location needed to return switches if someone moves, so they cannot calculate it in real time.
The time it takes to calculate the return was 5 to 6 seconds. But to stay still for that time while an evil blood-sucker was approaching meant that they were flirting with death.
“Even if you shoot your gun and somehow hit it, you can’t wound it very much.”
“All our party members had were pistols and simple SMGs.”
Cha Jun Sung let out a sick sound. He pitied Zephyrus who had witnessed the deaths of all of his first party members. The flesh of the evil blood-sucker was thick and tough.
It would be hard to penetrate even with his red fire. For penetration, stronger firearm was necessary. Zephyrus’ sniper rifle was just barely suitable.
“2 people died like that and 4 people including me, ran away.”
“You can’t show your back.”
“There was nothing we could do because our options were dying or running away.”
Blood-sucking insects only had a developed sense of smell. But the evil blood-sucker had a variety of the five senses. They were natural hunters. It did not let go of any prey it targeted.
“Each person was hunted. That was the first time I heard screaming like that.”
When emotions were mixed in, screaming sounded different. It was hair-raising.
Eventually they reached a different place as they ran away. Fortunately, one comrade also survived, but he was out of his mind after witnessing 4 people die.
“That’s when you discovered this bunker?”
“No. It was a different one.”
“The other person…..”
“The way to get into each bunker is different.”
The bunker they were currently in could be entered by opening the door. The bunker Zephyrus was talking about was another place where they needed to open the top door as if it were a tank and go down into it.
“I was faster because I had discovered it, and he was following behind me.”
“So he got dragged out.”
“The entry was so narrow that they could not kill me without dragging him out. In that time, I was able to crawl into the bunker, and I lived.”
Zephyrus’ face turned dark. He was feeling guilt. To him, it was as though he had sacrificed a comrade for his own survival.
“I would like to say something, but can you listen to it as though it was coming from an adult?”
“You cannot be free from death the second you enter this place. But if you become involved in another’s death, only think about one thing.”
“What is that?”
“Whether it was intentional or not.”
“I’ll solve it for you. Did you kill that man to live?”
Zephyrus denied it vehemently. You couldn’t automatically say he was pure just because he was young, but he was also clearly not someone who would kill another to stay alive.
“That’s it. If you didn’t make it happen, it was that person’s fate to die there. And it was your fate to live.”