Episode 3: Age of Ghosts / Chapter 40: Consumables (3)
They weren’t wearing military uniforms. They were wearing stiff, think pants, shirts and suspenders like the ones Choi Hyuk’s group had obtained from the supplies. It was highly likely that their original uniforms had melted from monster blood when they fought.
Even without their uniforms, their short hair, 20-year-old faces, personal weapons and tactical movements were enough for one to think, ‘They are soldiers!’ with a glance.
“So the military was here~”
Lee Jinhee exclaimed.
“They probably came here along with us. They most likely had to carry out a mission somewhere else for a long time. Look at how they fight. They are so experienced.”
Baek Seoin speculated.
“Are they Korean soldiers? They could be Chinese or Japanese soldiers…”
Chu Youngjin had his doubts.
Still, the three showed interest and seemed to want to approach the troops. It was obvious. This was the military that had disappeared. Wasn’t that the biggest question the world currently had?
However, Choi Hyuk calmly made a decision.
“… I don’t think there’s a need to approach them.”
The three’s gazes focused on him. Choi Hyuk raised his hand and pointed at a distant hill. In the middle of the ocean where everything was submerged in water, a hill protruded out of the water. Although it wasn’t very tall, it had the grandeur of Paektu Mountain.
“Our target destination.”
The slope of the hill became steeper the higher it went but, at some point, it just stopped. It seemed like there was a basin as monsters came up over it. They didn’t charge forward but instead closely gathered together on the hill. The arrow was indicating the basin beyond them.
“Ah… So we’re slowly coming to the final battle?”
Lee Jinhee revealed a nervous expression. When they were about to face such a large battle, it was obvious they didn’t have the time to try to become friends with the soldiers.
Baek Seoin groaned.
“That’s that but… there are already 93 people with just them. A small-scale squadron… Might they become a problem?
Choi Hyuk nodded.
Lee Jinhee became surprised and lifted her head.
“Ah right! Now that I think about it, didn’t they say there were only around 100 targets?”
To activate a return code, they needed to take down a target. However, with just the squadron and Choi Hyuk’s group, there were already 97 people.
Not only that, there were still at least a thousand aliens rushing towards the hill.
“… Is it another battle royale?”
Chu Youngjin mumbled as he sincerely sympathized with the soldiers. He could tell just by looking at their fighting figures. They were a group that had survived by closely cooperating with each other. However, soon, that group would break apart. Perhaps they would even kill each other as there were a thousand competitors and only a hundred return codes.
Choi Hyuk nodded.
“Full speed ahead.”
Captain Lee Kangjin, the leader of the special force squadron, couldn’t forget that day.
He had just begun his morning activities when he discovered an ominous omen in the sky above the building.
“What is that…?’
Like a paper that was lit on fire, the edges of the sky were starting to turn brown. Black holes started to appear from various places. The clouds disappeared and not long after the sun disappeared as well. The world turned yellow as if it was covered in yellow dust. The ground changed strangely as if it was entangled with corpses. It was dark-red like a dried squid.
The buildings turned to ash and scattered. The only things remaining were the dazed expressions of the special force soldiers, their weapons, and supplies.
This had all occurred within a span of a few minutes.
——————–[Cut off the enemy supply route]
The path the monsters tread, Karuh Kapkun – 102.
Defend the highlands for 30 days.
A sudden message appeared in front of his eyes. First Sergeant Jang Sudong, who was walking next to the confused Captain Lee Kangjin, tapped his shoulder and called out to him. He handed him a pair of binoculars.
“Captain, please take a look. It’s not my eyes that are weird, right?”
The fences and buildings had all disappeared. Even the mountain disappeared and the strange new ground had a gentle slope. As Captain Lee Kangjin was already standing on the highlands, he was able to look down the slope. Countless troops were spread across the slope. There looked to be at least 30,000 people.
“Ah, yes. Let’s see… that’s the 21st division.”
He replied calmly when he looked into the binoculars that had been handed him. The 21st infantry division. Also known as the Paektu Mountain troops. Though it was definitely weird that he could see the frontlines general outpost troops from here, what could possibly shock him after seeing the sky and ground change, and buildings disappear? It wasn’t that he was calm but simply rather stupefied.
“They are the Chinese troops, American troops, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces… even the North Korean People’s Army. Huh, damn. What about Russia? Oh… there they are. Even all the Northeast Asian countries are gathered here. Haha.”
While Captain Lee Kangjin was laughing like a fool, First Sergeant Jang Sudong tapped him once more and said.
“Captain. If this isn’t a dream… I think we’re fucked.”
The first sergeant was pointing to something below the slope. Clouds were gathering at that point. No, bizarre creatures were chaotically charging towards the troops spread across the slope. Their ferocity sent shivers down his spine as looked at them through the binoculars.
The North Korean People’s Army, which was located the furthest down the slope, became chaotic. Though they were a few kilometers away, he could easily see their bustling movements.
Captain Lee Kangjin, who wasn’t able to believe what was happening, suddenly woke up from his dazed state. It was as if a bucket of cold water had been poured on him. Though unbelievable things occurred one after another, a fact became concrete the moment he saw the monsters.
Everything he saw, even the air that brushed against his skin and the sounds and scents, everything was emitting a vicious sense of ill will and hostility.
Danger grounded them in reality. In his mind, the thought, ‘Just what is happening?’ was quickly replaced with an urgent desire to seek solutions. ‘What do I do now?’ The answer was simple.
Captain Lee Kangjin and the First Sergeant Jang Sudong shouted at the same time.
The war continued for a month.
Numerous troops were annihilated and reorganized. At some point, even ranks became insignificant. Commanders kept dying one after another so they just let whoever was good at commanding be the commander.
There would be a casualty at every passing moment. Everyone was desperate. Soldiers searched around, looking for any dropped rations whilst shoving weapons of annihilated troops into their Handy Bags that they had obtained through killing monsters. They desperately protected functioning heavy firearms and endured again and again.
If it wasn’t for the occasional supplies and the items dropped from the monster corpses, they wouldn’t have been able to avoid annihilation. They fought like that for a month.
‘Still, we united and won.’
That was what Captain Lee Kangjin thought.
How many times have troops been annihilated and reorganized in that mess? Although the only original member of his troop that was still with him was the First Sergeant Jang Sudong, they still won in the end. Then, they left that hell and received a new mission.
It wasn’t any less… No, it was more hellish than before but they had hope this time.
“Squadron! If we complete this mission, we get to return!”
Major Kang Choongil. As he possessed an outstanding commanding ability, he was currently the leader of the squadron. He was also a Leader of Hundred who had obtained a Qualification to be a Sovereign.
At his shout, the squadron members roared. Even Captain Lee Kangjin tightly gripped a two-handed sword and roared. The only land visible in this endless ocean, the hill. The arrow indicating their target was just beyond that hill.
The squadron was smashing apart monsters as they made their way to the hill.
Riflemen shot their weapons even more heatedly.
The unity that Captain Lee Kangjin believed in was shining brightly at this moment.
As there were casualties during this time, there were only 87 people left. Among them, 20, including the captain, held their melee weapons and waited. The other 60 were carefully creating a fire net. Each and every soldier showed their outstanding gunmanship. Even though they were shooting continuously, not a single bullet missed its target. Even their magazines were changed out in 0.1 seconds. The moment they pressed the button and shook their wrists to release the magazine, a new one was pushed into place. The released magazine was also picked up before it dropped below their waists. It was to the point where the guns were unable to keep up with the soldiers. However, as they had already filled up their Handy Bags with various types of firearms, if it broke, they just needed to replace it.
Bullets rained down. These bullets were only able to penetrate the monsters’ skin and unable to break their bones or pierce their insides. They could only hold the monsters back. However, that was enough.
When the number of monsters blocking their path to hope reached a certain number, assigned soldiers would throw grenades into the fray.
Boom, boom, boom!
A series of explosions shook the ground. The monsters’ skin was ripped apart and their black blood covered them. They didn’t die but they did receive injuries and fell into a state of confusion.
To Captain Lee Kangjin and his squad, the explosions were a signal to charge.
He shouted vigorously as he led the way.
The 20 squad members gripped their weapons and charged forward together. Team 1 held large shields and jumped over the confused monsters. At a certain time, they would draw a line and block other enemies from approaching. Team 2 would take care of the monsters during that time.
First Sergeant Jang Sudong caught up next to Lee Kangjin, who was leading the way holding a two-handed sword.
Team 2 was armed with longswords, axes and other primitive weapons as they moved forward while ripping monster flesh and breaking bones. They killed monsters without hesitation.
With the orders of the leaders of the riflemen squads, the riflemen jumped over the monsters that hadn’t been taken care of yet, jumped over the wall the shield wielders of Team 1 made for them and once again advanced towards their hope.
Then Team 1 would go back and help Team 2’s melee fighters take care of the remaining monsters. Then they waited for the grenades to explode once again.
The monsters, that covered the hill in black, charged towards them and the squadron met them with their airtight teamwork. Though their consumption of stamina was enormous, the arrow in front of their eyes indicated that there wasn’t much left. Their morale was rising.
“Run faster! All members of our squadron will return!”
Major Kang Choongil’s orders sounded out.
They, too, were well aware of the existence of the aliens. Currently, they were in a position where they were working together but they also knew that they would eventually become competitors for the return codes.
‘Still, it’s doable.’
Captain Lee Kangjin thought that way. No, everyone believed it was.
Each time they advanced, the squadron pushed against the monsters. Though there were casualties and wounded soldiers during their advance, compared to the losses their enemies received, they were progressing smoothly and quickly. Even when they compared themselves to the aliens fighting near them, they were superior.
They were revealing the power of united humans to its fullest potential.
They climbed over the hill faster than anyone and saw their targets encased in cocoons. The yellow arrows were pointing to the pulsating cocoons. The sight of a hundred cocoons, each the size of a room, gathered in one place was disgusting yet somehow, magnificent.
The remaining monster soldiers that were between the cocoons, bulged up to intimidate the squadron members.
Just then, they heard a random roar filled with rage. Captain Lee Kangjin naturally turned his head towards the sound. The aliens who were advancing without any hesitation were floating in midair as if they were grabbed by an invisible hand. A silver-eyed, pointy-eared alien arrogantly stood among them. He stretched his arm and clenched his fist.
With a brutal sound, the limbs of the approximately 10 aliens who were in midair were twisted and crushed.
His silver eyes indifferently turned towards the squadron.
“… What the?”
They had fought the monsters together and were advancing towards their target but once the target became visible, the flow of the battle suddenly changed.
A 4-meter tall alien recklessly swung a flaming chain.
The frog aliens, tiny aliens and wolfish aliens who were gathered together were hit by the chains and were either turned to ash or smashed apart.
‘They are starting to get rid of their competitors!’
A chilly feeling ran down Captain Lee Kangjin’s spine. For there to be aliens who were so strong hidden among them!
“Squadron! Charge at full speed! Endure the losses and charge!”
Major Kang Choongil pierced through the chaos.
“Don’t face them head on and prioritize shooting the targets!”
Swears in different alien languages erupted everywhere. A quarrel where they either fought each other or charged towards the targets began.
In the middle of the chaos, Choi Hyuk’s group stopped their tracks.[You are still alive?]
The small alien riding the silver machine blocked their path. He was surprising fluent in human language. No, like when the Giant Orc Karik spoke, he spoke in an unknown language but Choi Hyuk and his followers were able to understand it.[I guess you’re one of the better ones among the trash. You might actually have potential.]
He crossed his legs and nodded his head as if he had a new opinion of them.
Choi Hyuk stared into his eyes. Unexpectedly, he didn’t see any malice from him this time. Instead, looking at how he was emitting a faint white light, it seemed that he had a bit of goodwill towards his group.
However, what did he care?
Choi Hyuk revealed his teeth as he smiled.
“Yeah. I’m happy to see you.”
 Paektu Mountain is the tallest mountain in Korea.
 Yellow dust – inhalable particles that originate from the dry desert regions of China and Mongolia. There has been yellow dust coming from these regions to Korea.