Chapter 63 – A Show of Arms (1)
What is important in a war?
There are many answers to this question. Some would say powerful weapons while others might say trained soldiers.
There isn’t a clear answer.
The important thing is the scenario. There are times when powerful weapons are needed, and times when trained soldiers are needed. So in order to come to the correct answer, you must first change the question. Wouldn’t discerning the situation be more important considering the fact that they were currently at a war with unknown monsters?
The Mek Guild came up with its own solution.
“There’s a goblin community in Incheon Jaeilgo Highschool.”
“I suppose you could smoke them out with smoke bombs and kill the ones that run out. What about the goblins’ population count?”
“We estimate it to be at around fifty.”
“It should be enough with six hunters and ten soldiers.”
“We’ve confirmed that there are three mud trolls holed up in some of the apartments in Ganseok-dong.”
“After luring them to a road, you can just burn them up with a flamethrower. If you just follow the Manual……”
“Three hunters and two flamethrowers to one Mud Troll. The number of soldiers is dependent on the number of bodies it has discarded after biting off the heads.”
“11 Hunters and 30 soldiers. Take some claymores as well.”
A manual dictating how much manpower and firepower to designate when fighting against certain monsters.
“There are also Sabretooth Wolves and Werewolves in Incheon Terminal.”
“We’ll need to lure them out after establishing a position at the terminal intersection and mow them down there.”
The Mek Guild’s solution was the Manual. The Mek Guild created the Manual. By undergoing numerous hunts whilst under the banner of Kim Tae Hoon, the Mek Guild was able to compile a comprehensive database of information regarding the habits and physical characteristics of specific monsters, allowing them to determine which tactics would be most effective, how many troops to take, and what kind of weapons would be the most useful.
Furthermore, they now had the manpower and firepower to follow the guidelines stipulated in the Manual. As such, the hunters and soldiers of the Mek Guild did not look at Incheon as a city of monsters gripped by the vices of fear and despair.
“Alright, let’s kick some monsters’ ass today as well!”
“We’re only being taxed 20% of the stones we earn. If you don’t get any today, then it’ll be on you. We have to get as many as possible.”
It was like the California Gold Rush that had happened in the 19th century. The Gold Rush had begun. But it wasn’t without its problems.
“A monster that seems to be the leader of the Large Nosed Orangutans seems to have appeared in Gwanggyo Lake Park. It’s eyes……they seem to be yellow.”
“The leader of the Large Nosed Orangutans, it should be the first time seeing something like that, right?”
What should people do when confronted with a monster that couldn’t be dealt with just by following the guidelines in the Manual? The solution that the Mek Guild had put forth was simple.
“It should be fine as long as master goes.” [ED: lol]
Kim Tae Hoon, the most surest of solutions.
It was the start of April, 2017.
The cruel winter that had seemed as though it would never end disappeared like it was nothing but a mirage, allowing some warmth to finally seep in.
However, the current situation in Korea where the warmth had melted the snow was even worse than when all the land was buried under a blanket of snow.
It had only been three months, but the degree of destruction and the disappearance of humans within that three months was astounding.
The city looked as though humans had disappeared for decades.
In the past, the members of the 35th Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun included, were shown images of the barren Chernobyl and Fukushima during a training session in the case of a future radiation leak– the current status of the city was not too different from those pictures.
However, looking at the state of Incheon now, the city that he had assessed to have suffered the most damage based on the reports he had received two months ago was completely different.
It felt vigorous.
And stepping into Ganseokogeori, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun heard something that he hadn’t heard in a very long time.
“Wait for me! Wait for me!”
“Ball! Ball! Get the ball!”
It was the cheerful chatter of children playing.
It was the laughter of children genuinely having fun.
At first, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun had thought that it was a hallucination.
“So you’ve arrived lieutenant colonel.”
However, as he walked into the coffee shop and saw Kim Yuri’s resolute expression, he realized that it wasn’t an illusion.
And listening to Kim Yuri’s report, he couldn’t help but feel a bitter taste in his mouth.
There is a traitor within the Capital Defense Command.
On top of that, the traitor’s goal was to relieve the Capital Defense Command of its relics.
Valuable soldiers had died because of them.
The traitors were even willing to massacre civilians to get what they wanted.
It was a story that riled him up simply by listening.
“That’s right, there was always that possibility.”
However, the most frightening aspect about Kim Yuri’s report wasn’t the fact that it was unlikely, but rather that not even Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun could stop himself from thinking that this scenario was very much possible.
To be frank, there had already been signs pointing to that reality.
‘The moment Daedongyeojido was lost, there had already been an enemy within.’
After realizing what relics were, Capital Defense Command had immediately assembled personnels to scour through museums and libraries to retrieve relics. In the process, they had been able to secure a copy of Daedongyeojido.
At that time, all of Capital Defense Command’s operations were centered around Daedongyeojido.
‘The rescue team was sent to Incheon because of Daedongyeojido.’
The rescue team was sent to Incheon because it was an honor for Daedongyeojido to be bequeathed to them.
Even though they had discovered that there were green ranked monsters in Incheon thanks to Daedongyeojido, they had eventually determined that it would be a simple matter to avoid them as long as they had Daedongyeojido.
If that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have given them a national treasure.
However, the rescue team failed and Daedongyeojido was lost without a trace.
The worst part was that nobody knew what happened.
‘I should have done it then. I should have organized it somehow without even bothering to hide it.’
It was literally that.
It’s not that he couldn’t, but rather he didn’t.
There were few who knew the existence of Daedongyeojido when it was first discovered, and of the few were the heavyweights of Capital Defense Command.
If the loss of Daedongyeojido were to be publicized, then one of the heavyweights would have had to bear the blame, but the current Korean Ministry of Defense did not house anyone with such a sacrificial spirit.
That was the reason why the commander of the 35th Battalion Special Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun, had opted to move their operations outside of Seoul.
Regardless, his previous experiences with Daedongyeojido were still applicable.
In order to verify the information he had, he had to go outside.
But for Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun, outside operations were no different from a minefield.
Would there be an even more hellish area than that?
‘Incheon was an ant lion’s pit. Information from Incheon…… an attempt to devour another rescue team.’
Incheon became an ant lion’s pit because of the traitors.
It was because the Capital Defense Command had no choice but to send someone, after paying them with a national treasure, in order to save an important VIP.
And the information kept on coming.
There was a lot of information that pointed to the fact that Kate Kennedy was still alive on Yeongjongdo. She had been able to come into contact with one of the rescue teams and had reported her safety.
Since Kim Tae Hoon had no knowledge of that, there was no need for Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun to tell him to go to Yeongjeongdo.
But, there was a chance that the information itself was nonsense.
No, rather, it must have been the work of a traitor.
‘Could Major General Lee Gisu be the traitor?’
Major General Lee Gisu.
He was one of the current leaders of Capital Defense Command. He was an Awakened that awoke to a C Rank Energy ability and was the Investigative General Manager of the Ministry of National Defense.
He was the best of the best, an elite soldier who was the head of the Military Police Corps under the Capital Defense Command.
‘Then that means Colonel Chang Soguk in that bureau is a traitor as well.’
In addition, Colonel Chang Soguk was Lee Gisu’s right hand man.
Faced with that possibility, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun was terrified.
One of the responsibilities of that Military Police took care of was the president’s expenses.
And on top of that, the president’s schedule for the 31st of December and the 1st of January.
The only ones who would know the president’s every move would have been the military police.
But what if Colonel Chang Soguk, the Chief Executive of the military police, was a traitor?
‘What a pain in the ass.’
The most troubling thing was that the two of them were both Yoo Daehyun’s superiors.
“Rather than that, what about Kim Tae Hoon?”
“He went out on a hunt sir.”
“Yes sir. He went out to hunt monsters.”
Hearing that, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun shut his mouth.
At this moment, Lieutenant Colonel felt that having a conversation with Kim Tae Hoon was more necessary than ever.
The existence of the traitor meant that he couldn’t deal with the internal problems on his own.
He needed the help of an outside force to excise this cancer.
But most importantly, Kim Tae Hoon had taken over Incheon.
‘Monster hunt…… he’s steadily increasing his influence over Incheon.’
Incheon would soon become a land belonging to the Mek Guild.
‘Will Incheon also become the Mek Guild’s territory as well?’
Additionally, Incheon was a major city that Bucheon could not compare to.
Incheon International Airport and Incheon Harbor was the closest way for Seoul to come into contact with foreign countries.
The port was especially important.
Although Gimpo International Airport was located fairly close to Seoul, it would be impossible to go overseas by plane. In the present era, Incheon Harbor was absolutely essential since Korea could only use boats to interact with foreign countries at the moment.
There was also another thing.
‘Incheon’s Songdo has an LNG production district.’
[TLN: LNG stands for Liquefied Natural Gas]
There was a basis for the production of Liquefied Natural gas in Incheon City’s Songdo.
‘There’ll be quite a stockpile.’
It would be impossible to generate more gas since such resources were very rare in Korea, but an LNG production base would have a large stockpile.
And since there weren’t many survivors now, the stockpile of LNG left behind would be enough for the survivors to use for months on end instead of a few days.
Furthermore, as the situation improves, it wouldn’t be impossible to eventually take part in overseas trade, at that point the production bases for LNG would become all the more important.
Even if gas were to be imported, it would be pointless without a base that could refine and produce it in a consumable form.
So what about when the Mek Guild takes over?
At that time, the Mek Guild wouldn’t be a simple group of survivors.
‘They’ll be a threat.’
They would be a weapon sharp enough to threaten Capital Defense Command.
Above all, Kim Tae Hoon wasn’t one to leave the results be.
‘The Mek Guild’s movements are dangerous to the Capital Defense Command.’
It was a hope though.
And the hope would root itself in the ground and grow. And Kim Tae Hoon’s influence would grow, it might even grow on a global scale like a tree’s branches covering the sky.
And in the end, the South Korean government would have no method to cut it down.
It was the reality of the situation.
Let alone communication, because distance could mostly only be traversed by foot in this day and age, the small country of South Korea was anything but that, it had become a large land.
‘It’s the sharpest sword, but needs a handle to be used.’
It was then.
Ganseokogeori suddenly exploded with noise. It wasn’t very difficult to identify what was causing the ruckus.
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun rose from his seat.
As he rose from his seat and readied himself to leave the coffee shop, the men that he had brought along also began to stir.
Among them was, of course, Kim Yuri.
As they stepped out, they saw a truck heading towards Ganseokogeori.
The truck was heading towards Ganseokogeori by means of the road that had recently been clear out. A large, spear-like horn and a nose second to only the horn’s size were both protruding out the top of the truck.
‘A Horned Orangutan?’
After the Twin Headed Ogre left for Yeongjeong-do, the monster that came to take its spot was the leader of the Large Nosed Orangutan: the Horned Orangutan.
‘He killed it?’
It was a strong beast.
On top of that, it was a clever and merciless creature.
There would always be hundreds of subordinates around it, and in the case it was caught in a disadvantageous situation, it would use its underlings as baits while it fled even deeper into the group of Large Nosed Orangutans.
‘Did he do it alone?’
Furthermore, its body wasn’t that big, so it had a knack for hiding in small places.
‘Wouldn’t it be extremely difficult to chase it?’
It was for these reasons that it was not an easy creature to catch.
It was a cruel, cruel creature.
After killing the Horned Orangutan, Kim Tae Hoon had found more than five hundred survivors in its lair.
The survivors were in an absolutely morbid state, a state where they wished for death but could not receive it. It was only natural that there be those who had gone insane.
But no matter how cruel or clever it was, it was now nothing more than a corpse, its beautiful silver hair dyed in its own blood.
“Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun-nim, it’s been awhile.”
KiM Tae Hoon had made his appearance alongside the monster.
Without a single wound.
Seeing Kim Yuri standing behind Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun, Kim Tae Hoon opened his mouth to speak.
“I’m sure you’ve heard everything you need to know from Sergeant First Class Kim Yuri, so let’s get to the main point right away.
We should leave the traitors alone for now.”
“What kind of nonsense……”
“If I told you to ferret them out, could you?”
While speaking, Kim Tae Hoon entered the coffee shop that Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun had been in just moments before.
After inspecting the things that he had prepared for Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun, Kim Tae Hoon put the kettle on the portable gas burner and lit a flame.
Hearing the sounds of the gas burner, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun looked towards the sound before momentarily stepping back inside. After looking at what Kim Tae Hoon was doing, Yoo Daehyun’s wrinkled his face.
With a crumpled look on his face, Yoo Daehyun spoke.
“Is this a joke?”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you ignoring me?”
“Your side is the one that hid the true details of the mission.”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun’s eyes popped open. Kim Tae Hoon made no attempt to avoid his gaze.
There was no reason to do so.
Kim Tae Hoon’s rank in the military was that of a major.
The rank of a major wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill rank.
But it was still a rank that Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun could treat lightly.
But if he were to remove his ranking, then it would be a different story.
Kim Tae Hoon was a monster that could nonchalantly kill a yellow ranked beast on his own, while Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun was a regular person who would succumb even to an orange grade monster’s Fear.
“There are currently two options.”
As a result, the two were not on the same level.
“Continue to ally myself with Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun-nim and go to Seoul to apprehend to traitors.”
A predator and a prey interaction.
The two of them couldn’t avoid such a relationship.
“Major Kim Tae Hoon…”
“Also, I am still a soldier. I don’t necessarily need you to be a bridge.”
It was at that moment that Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyuin understood with both his body and mind.
‘The sword…… it’s me.’
He realized that Kim Tae Hoon and the Mek Guild is not a sword that could be wielded by him, but rather that he was the sword to be wielded by Kim Tae Hoon.
“You’ve changed a lot.”
Kim Tae Hoon did not reply.
“Let me say it again. Leave the traitors in Capital Defense Command headquarters alone, let them do what they want.”
“I’ll explain why.”
“The fact that Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun does not know who the traitors are, must mean that they are of an even higher echelon than you are in.”
“So you mean to just leave them alone and observe for the time being?”
“Throughout all of the history, has there ever been a successful whistleblower in the Ministry of Defense? Or have you ever seen a corrupt star hit rock bottom?”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun shut his mouth.
They were facts that could not be denied.
“Regardless, their goal is simple. To induce mission failures in order to steal the relics from Korean history.”
“It’s fairly simple.”
Yoo Daehyun’s mood began to sour.
“Even if they take away what belongs to you, you wouldn’t be able to complain.”
“……do you plan on eating them?”
By the time Kim Tae Hoon had finished talking, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun had forgotten how twisted his mood had become.
“Isn’t it better than just letting the traitors eat their fill?”
“But if you eat their fill, what will fall into my stomach?”
Their current discussion was not one where they could easily let their feelings steer the direction off.
“Instead of me telling you to do this or that, aren’t you more than capable of figuring what to eat on your own?”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun tightly shut his mouth. It was to contain the sigh that was threatening to leak out of his mouth.
The kettle atop the gas burner started to boil, as though it were conveying the lieutenant colonel’s heart.
“…… you’re just betting on my life.”
It wasn’t long before Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun realized what was going on.
Kim Tae Hoon had no intention of being used by Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun.
On the other hand, Kim Tae Hoon made his intentions clear. He made it clear that he would be using Yoo Daehyun.
“If that’s the case, give me something to be confident about.”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun only had one choice in this situation.
No, he was being forced to make a choice.
There were currently traitors inside Capital Defense Command that was eating away at its resources.
Lieutenant Colonel had no means to interfere with their activities or defeat them.
Capital Defense Command had no means of stopping them either.
In the end, there was really only one thing he could do.
If this wasn’t coercion, then what was?
Kim Tae Hoon was willing to show Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun.
“I will hunt the green ranked monster in Yeongjeong Island.”
He was going to show him how incredible he was.
“We’ll bet after that.”
With that, Kim Tae Hoon turned towards the screeching kettle. Kim Tae Hoon fell silent, his focus was on the kettle.