Chapter 53 – Gimpo International Airport (1)
December 31st was the start of a nightmare that had lasted through January, February, and now March.
The weather hadn’t changed in quite some time. It had been and still was absolutely freezing.
But there had been a change amongst the survivors who had come to Bucheon. A sense of liveliness that couldn’t be found anywhere was suddenly everywhere.
“Okay, it’s installed!”
It was thanks to hope.
It was still a terrible world, but things were improving.
“I can see the sun shining in the sky, but I still suffered in this cold.”
“I used to not care in the past but now…… man these solar panels are beautiful, absolutely beautiful.”
There was a light that illuminated a sense of hope.
As long as they can maintain the solar panels, then they would have a semi-permanent source of energy.
Of course, their greatest source of hope was something else.
“The Mek Guild has finished hunting and has returned!”
There was a newly repaired truck sitting atop the road.
Some black objects were loaded up on the ten ton, white truck. There was a man atop the contents of the truck.
“He killed it!”
“Bang Hyun Wook killed the Black Orc!”
Bang Hyun Wook, he had killed the Black Orc.
“I killed it by myself! I killed it!”
He had won it with his own strength!
“Did you hunt it by yourself?”
“That’s crazy, you killed it all on your own?”
It was an amazing feat, and it was something that everyone hoped to do.
Those who went to hunt monsters were the greatest hope for the world.
Bang Hyun Wook’s appearance naturally turned into a parade. People cheered on Bang Hyun Wook and he in turn acknowledged them in return.
The parade ended at the front of Bucheon City Hall.
Bang Hyun Wook went straight to the City Hall.
“Sung Hoon hyung!”
The first thing he saw as he arrived was Chang Sung Hoon, who had stepped out to see what the fuss was about. Hyped up by the thrill of the hunt, Bang Hyun Wook approached Chang Sung Hoon.
He had spoken up in an excited manner.
“I killed a Black Orc all on my own! I killed it, 1 on 1! I did it without any guns! Ah, well I did have this…… “
There was a weapon hanging from Bang Hyun Wook’s waist.
It was an item made from the tail of the Rattle-tailed mouse.
At first glance, it looked like a crude and somewhat worthless item, but once the user injected Energy into it, it would exercise an incredible amount of destructive power. It’s power was powerful beyond imagination.
It wouldn’t take much time to convert a car into a pile of scrap.
It was powerful enough to wreck the tough body of the Black Orc.
Bang Hyun Wook wouldn’t have been able to fight the Black Orc without it.
However, wielding the weapon didn’t automatically impart you with the power to kill the Black Orc either.
That was why Bang Hyun Wook was excited.
“Uhhh, where’s hyung nim?”
It was proof.
It was proof that he would never become Kim Tae Hoon’s stumbling block and that he had become strong enough to help.
Chang Sung Hoon smiled at Bang Hyun Wook’s appearance. He looked like a kid excited to show his older brother that he could help.
“Wow, so scary. I can’t believe you did it by yourself.
I did say that it was dangerous more than a few times……”
“Hey, I should at least be able to do this much by myself!”
“Sure sure, you won this time. Go and get some rest. I’ll go tell Boss. It shouldn’t take too long, so grab something to eat in the meantime.”
Chang Sung Hoon turned his back on Bang Hyun Wook in a straightforward way.
The smile that was on Chang Sung Hoon’s face just moments before was no longer there. There was only a stiff expression on his face.
That was all he could do.
‘The Golden Chalice refilled three days before D-Day.’
Kim Tae Hoon was currently undergoing his third vision.
The first thing that Kim Tae Hoon did when he woke up was to rub his throat.
His neck was still attached.
But he still felt like his head had detached from his body.
He wouldn’t easily take his hand off his throat. He tightly gripped his own neck.
‘It can’t be avoided.’
This was the third time that he had envisioned his own death. He had dreamt of death.
Moreover, this one was the worst one yet.
His arm was sliced off, his heart was speared, and his throat was ripped apart. It was also incredibly eerie as well. So of course, the aftereffects were more prominent than before.
Kim Tae Hoon heard many sounds behind him as he breathed heavily in order to withstand the aftermath.
Footsteps, the sound of breathing, and heart beats.
Finally, the sound of knocking.
Even though it was through a door, all of the sounds were incredibly clear.
“Chang Sung Hoon.”
He already knew who it was that was knocking on the door.
“No matter how much I’ve gotten used to it, the ability to hear things so clearly gives me goosebumps.”
As expected, Chang Sung Hoon opened the door.
“Do different people really have different breathing and heartbeats? How does one even tell the difference just based on those……”
Kim Tae Hoon closed his eyes and rubbed his temples.
“Ah, my bad.”
Kim Tae Hoon’s newly acquired Rattle-Tailed Mouse’s Hearing was sensitive enough to measure someone’s heart beat, footsteps, and breathing. He could even control the ability now.
But it wasn’t perfect.
If you are fatigued, if your concentration wavers, or if you are under psychological duress, the ability will act out and do its own thing.
In other words, Kim Tae Hoon’s experience with death just moments before meant that the ability was acting up like crazy.
“More importantly, how was your vision?”
Chang Sung Hoon whispered.
“They had cut off my arm. The traitor stabbed me in the back with a blade, while of the two Chinese twins in front of me, the one with the sword cut off my head.”
Chang Sung Hoon let out a short whistle.
“I don’t have the luxury of ignoring something like that, but it was quite a spectacular death. So then who is this traitor?”
It was a horrifying death, it was the most valuable vision he had seen so far.
At the very least, he had seen the faces of his enemies. This was a huge benefit.
“The Six Snakes and Oh Saebum.”
“The Six Snakes must be some sort of organization while Oh Saebum…… Is that a name you are familiar with?”
“Any other clues?”
Kim Tae Hoon responded to Chang Sung Hoon in recited Chinese. It hardly resembled Chinese.
But the intent was clearly communicated.
“It’s what the twin who beheaded me said to me, can you make any sense of it?”
Hearing that, Chang Sung Hoon’s face stiffened.
“Uh, ummm… … “
“Is it hard to interpret?”
“It’s not that. I understand most of it.”
“The contents then?”
“She called Boss a Dragon Hunter.
She said it was amazing that you had been able to fight them for so long…… and that she also wanted to rip Boss apart.”
Kim Tae Hoon listened to Chang Sung Hoon.
“Are you sure they called me a Dragon hunter?”
”She definitely wasn’t in the mood to be messing around.”
“Looks like I ended up killing the dragon. Although we can’t confirm if it’s the dragon that we know of.”
There was cold light in Kim Tae Hoon’s eyes.
Chang Sung Hoon was the same.
Things didn’t look good.
‘I’ll die even if I kill the dragon.’
‘Then what the fuck are we supposed to do?’
Killing the dragon was a priority for their survival. And the future Kim Tae Hoon had successfully done just that.
But even with that, he’ll just die?
It was bullshit.
It was like watching the movie Final Destination. It felt like death was inevitable no matter what he did.
Therefore, Kim Tae Hoon opted not to dig too deeply into it. If whatever he does results in death, then there’s nothing he could do.
Kim Tae Hoon focused on the word traitor.
‘The presence of a traitor must mean there was someone I worked with and trusted.’
The implications between an enemy and a traitor were different.
But despite that, a traitor was still an enemy while an enemy was, well, an enemy.
In a world where Kim Tae Hoon’s death is brought about by a traitor, he would never lost sight that word.
‘The traitor, Oh Saebum is most likely near me. The one who stabbed my heart.’
In addition, Kim Tae Hoon had more clues.
“I saw one of the blades……”
Everything he saw was a clue.
The twin that had called Kim Tae Hoon a dragon hunter had a very important clue in her hand– the sword.
“What did it look like?”
Kim Tae Hoon drew a sketch of the sword on a piece of notebook paper with the pen on his desk.
It was terrible. It was impossible to guess what he was drawing.
Chang Sung Hoon was the same. At first glance, it looked like some sort of a sword.
But as soon as Kim Tae Hoon finished drawing in diamond-shaped patterns and eight worm-like characters on the sword, Chang Sung Hoon’s expression changed.
Chang Sung Soon immediately reached out his hand.
Kim Tae Hoon pointed the pen towards Chang Sung Hoon. Sung Hoon immediately took the pen and drew a sword on a different page.
“This. Was it this?”
It was the sword that the twin was wielding in his dream.
“It’s the Sword of King Goujian.”
It was also a sword that the future Kim Tae Hoon had put on his wishlist in the second vision.
When about to die for the second time, Kim Tae Hoon had revealed the existence of the wish list.
They were like commands. He was commanded to get his hands on the items on the wishlist with any means necessary. Even if that meant killing the previous owners.
Kim Tae Hoon let out a long sigh.
Loud footsteps entered Kim Tae Hoon’s ears. The characteristics of the footsteps revealed that it was Bang Hyun Wook.
‘Looks like it’s impossible to catch a break.’
Kim Tae Hoon sighed and recalled the date.
Today was the last day of February.
Gimpo International Airport.
What used to be one of the most hectic places in Korea was now one of the most silent places in the country.
The planes lay in the airfield as though they were corpses. White snow blanketed the area, the absence of footsteps indicative of the absence of life.
The most recent remnants of life came from the dilapidated walls of the airport buildings. There were signs of panic– shards of glass on the floor, the windows all smashed, and signs of ransacking.
It was on the 3rd of March that the feeling of desolation in the airport that had permeated since December 31st was finally broken.
A group of black-outfitted people gathered in the deserted airport building.
The gathered people expressed their joy by hugging each other and shaking hands.
“It’s been awhile.”
“It’s a relief that you survived.”
This amicable atmosphere that had spread like wildfire was quickly frozen over by the appearance of one man.
As soon as a man in a beret appeared, the atmosphere quickly disappeared and a sense of solemness appeared.
The man who had made his appearance seemed to be in his mid-40s. He had a memorable angled face with a beard around his mouth.
The man looked at everyone in front of him with tiger-like eyes.
“Major Oh Saebum and his team are missing.”
The atmosphere become even more tense with just that statement.
Everyone here had kept the appointment.
They were to gather at a specific place at a specific date and time. That is, if you survived that long.
‘Did Major Oh Saebum’s team fail?’
In other words, their absence today meant they had died.
Everyone here was resolute. They were ready to die, unafraid of anything they might face.
Nevertheless, there was one reason why everyone here was nervous.
‘It doesn’t make sense. Just what kind of monster did they run across?’
‘Did they encounter a blue ranked or higher?’
It was because Major Oh Saebum and his team shouldn’t have encountered a beast that they were incapable of fighting.
He was an incredibly intelligent and strong leader.
The middle-aged man wearing a beret was Colonel Yoo Dae Hyun, and he was someone who was well aware of Oh Saebum’s abilities.
‘If Major Oh Saebum is dead…… then this operation will run into problems.’
Major Oh Saebum was someone with the ideals and ability to become a national Korean hero.
There’s no way he could have died.
No, rather, he couldn’t die.
‘As expected, losing Daedongyeojido was a huge blow. If we didn’t lose Daedongyeojido, we wouldn’t have to face so much danger.’
Recalling something that had happened in the past, Colonel Yoo Daehyun grit his teeth.
Naturally, the crowd went silent. He bowed in silence in honor of those who died.
A sudden gunshot from across the airport runway shattered the silence.
Everyone’s gazes changed.
They had the eyes of soldiers who were ready to fight at a moment’s notice.
Colonel Yoo Daehyun, on the other hand, had no need to do so. From the moment he had appeared, he was constantly on high alert. He was like a string that had been pulled taut. From deep within his bones, he was a soldier– a soldier who was ready for action at any moment.
“Go check it out.”
Colonel Yoo Daehyun pointed towards a team and gave his command. The team spared no words and immediately moved out towards the direction of the gunshots.
It wasn’t too long before a man returned to give his report.
“There’s a man with a white flag standing on the runway.” He said he was the head of the Mek Guild.”
It was difficult to explain.
The gunshots from the runway, a lone man standing atop that same runway, the lone man waving a white flag, and the existence of this so-called Mek Guild and its leader.
It was something that could really only be understood with a detailed explanation.
However, he did not express any of his concerns to Colonel Yoo Daehyun.
It’s because he saw a lot.
The system that made the world go round in this post-apocalyptic state and the nonsensical things people would do in order to survive.
So he wasn’t surprised. There was no change in his expression.
“What’s his name?”
“He said it was Kim Tae Hoon.”
“Kim Tae Hoon?”
However, hearing that name made Colonel Yoo Daehyun’s expression change.
“Are you sure it was Kim Tae Hoon?”
And it was a surprised expression at that.