Changing Colonel to Lieutenant Colonel
Chapter 55 – Gimpo International Airport
Before the appearance of monsters, the average human was rather restrained in their violence.
However, after the appearance of monsters, violence became humanity’s number one means to survival.
The hope of those who had survived the initial onslaught in Seoul was pinned on a young man by the name of Oh Saebum.
He was a hero from the start.
As soon as the monsters had appeared, he had battled against them bare-handed.
He had received a lot in return.
The army had designated him, a first year in the reserves, the rank of major, and had allowed him the freedom to smoke before the commander of the 35th Special Assault Team– the same commander who held the highest seat of power in Seoul.
“Did Major Oh Saebum lose consciousness?”
He was laying down on the floor in the shape of the 大 character on top of the snow. His nose crushed, streams of blood were streaming out of both his nostrils, his eyes rolled up and his tongue sticking out of his mouth.
‘How could this……’
The normally quiet and stoic Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun couldn’t help but question what had happened.
There was another person who couldn’t believe what had happened.
‘This isn’t the end.’
Kim Tae Hoon was also unbelieving of what happened.
‘I shouldn’t have been able to knock out a guy like this.’
Oh Saebum was incredibly strong.
He didn’t know about the monsters, but the previously thought to be unrivaled awakened, Kim Tae Hoon, was faced against another awakened whose strength was enough to rival Kim Tae Hoon.
If the two were to use their relics instead of just their bare fists, then Kim Tae Hoon wouldn’t have dared to face off against Oh Saebum.
But that was it.
‘He’s not the type that can plot a conspiracy and betrayal.’
He was strong but couldn’t look at the big picture or plan for the future.
At least, that’s what he was able to determine from Oh Saebum’s actions today.
Him being able to act so casually around Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun and stand before him was a different problem.
If Kim Tae Hoon was in Oh Saebum’s position, he would never act so frivolously before him. It was because Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun wasn’t such a laughable person. He was the type of garbage that would make enemies while doing what he wanted.
Even when facing against Kim Tae Hoon, Oh Saebum expressed his feelings however way he wanted to.
Kim Tae Hoon’s provocations was enough to reveal Oh Saebum’s murderous intent.
It was in this way that Kim Tae Hoon could reveal Oh Saebum’s true feelings.
He was either a punk kid or a madman.
‘So that’s why I said to use him.’
In other words, Oh Saebum was someone who could fight against Kim Tae Hoo, threaten Kim Tae Hoon, and eventually kill him– but he wasn’t someone who could scheme it.
‘The head is somewhere else.’
It was obvious he had a backer.
Oh Saebum was a powerful chess piece that could be bring about great changes for a master baduk player.
‘That head is the true danger.’
Kim Tae Hoon’s thoughts ended there.
Kim Tae Hoon’s current opponent wasn’t the mind behind Oh Saebum.
Kim Tae Hoon raised the fainted Oh Saebum off the ground with his Telekinesis.
He shouted towards the surprised spectators, of which, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun was in the center of.
“Let’s start the negotiations.”
Kim Tae Hoon had a new card to negotiate with.
A hostage card.
“Currently, the Capital Defense Command is seated in Gangbuk. My job is to make contact with any survivors outside of Seoul.”
“What’s the situation like in Seoul?”
“Of the 31 bridges on the Hangang River, only the Gimpo Bridge and the Banpo Bridge are safe. Since it’s you, you should understand what this means simply based on what I’ve said so far.”
“Did you intentionally blow up the other bridges?”
“Some intentionally by the military, some by the monsters.”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun began negotiations with Kim Tae Hoon.
Having seen Kim Tae Hoon’s strength coupled together with the fact that Major Oh Saebum was taken hostage, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun had no choice but to cut to the chase.
If it was Kim Tae Hoon, he would follow through with what he says.
If necessary, he was someone who would cut off Oh Saebum’s limbs to make a point.
In fact, Kim Tae Hoon hadn’t loosened his grip on Oh Saebum since the talk had begun.
While the negotiations were being carried out on the cold runway, Oh Saebum was still knocked out and stood up like a mannequin.
If he were to bluff in front of Kim Tae Hoon, then the price would be Oh Saebum’s fingernails or fingers.
Kim Tae Hoon had shown his skills in a decisive manner. He had demonstrated just how dangerous he could be.
If Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun continues to show hostilities towards Kim Tae Hoon, then he wouldn’t leave Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun and his men alone.
“How many survivors are there?”
“It’s not a positive number. Of course, there are still a lot of survivors. But that’s because it’s a place where there used to be over ten million people living there.”
That was the reason why Lieutenant Yoo Daehyun, someone who never bowed his head, changed his attitude and agreed to negotiate and possibly cooperate.
Hearing his story, Kim Tae Hoon could see that the situation in Seoul was worse than he thought.
‘A lot of people survived…… But that’s not a good thing.’
The fact that there were many survivors at this point was very bad in some ways.
A lot of survivors would mean that monsters would have a lot of prey to hunt.
It’s just how things are. A bountiful amount of prey would lead to an increase in the amount of predators.
And there would be no guarantee that the survivors would cooperate either. Humans had the potential to become more monster-like than actual monsters.
‘There’s even a subway.’
There were two fatal weaknesses in Seoul.
One is the large amount of buildings above the ground, and the other is the web of subway tunnels.
Both were places that monsters could hide.
It was a place that imposed a lot of restrictions on the military.
The subway system was the worst. It would be impossible to have a tank or a fighter jet enter to kill monsters.
The same went for skyscrapers. If a building collapses because of a monster, then the consequences would be disastrous. It was at this point in time that taller buildings were like land mines.
‘Since they couldn’t find a solution in Seoul, they went outside.’
Such was the reason why Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun had led his special forces out of Seoul.
They couldn’t find a solution to their problem in Seoul.
“More importantly, what about the president and the prime minister? Are they alright?”
At that moment, Kim Tae Hoon asked a pointed question towards Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun.
“The two of them are safe and sound in our custody.”
After a moment of silence, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun replied. His expression while answering looked troubled.
“Is that so?”
However, Kim Tae Hoon was able to clearly hear the Lieutenant Colonel’s heartbeat.
‘They failed to secure the two.’
It was the voice of someone who was lying through his teeth.
‘What a pain in the neck.’
It was sure.
The troops in Seoul had failed to secure the upper echelons of command like the president and prime minister.
In other words, it was the same for other units and military men like Kim Tae Hoon.
There was no way to say it easily.
But there wasn’t a way to prove themselves as the forces representative of Korea.
It was like the three kingdom’s quibble over the national seal.
They couldn’t do anything on their own. The monsters wouldn’t avoid the president and neither would the president be able to kill a strong monster.
The important point was that the forces that lay outside of the president’s faction would be stigmatized as rebel or anti-government forces.
However, the absence of the president or the prime minister would mean that the concept of anti-government forces would fall apart.
‘It’s the perfect opportunity to further one’s ambitions.’
For those with military power, it was a chance to rewrite everything.
Of course, if this were made known to the public, the Republic of Korea would no longer be the Republic of Korea.
The history of the peninsula would simply repeat. Multiple military regimes would rise to power and the peninsula would eventually be engulfed by war.
It wasn’t something civilians would carry out, but those who had survived could no longer be called civilians.
“I’m relieved to hear that they are safe.”
Kim Tae Hoon chose not to focus too much on that point.
“Then please tell it to me straight. You want the Mek Guild to take care of the monsters in the surrounding areas around Bucheon and also secure any survivors.”
Because now was the time to stipulate what he wanted.
“As long as you support us, then we’ll even go hunt for monsters in main cities like Incheon.”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun had a feeling that the negotiations were soon to end.
It was with this that Kim Tae Hoon revealed all of his conditions.
His conditions were very simple.
If you want to utilize the Bucheon based Mek Guild, then you must pay a price.
The only thing that the force in Seoul could use to pay was Relics.
“I understand. I’ll try and get some good results for you.”
Hearing that, Kim Tae Hoon revealed something with the intention of ending the negotiations.
He fished out a bundle of objects that gleamed like jewels. But they were not jewels.
They were dogtags.
They were the dogtags of the special forces team that had been wiped out by the Rattle-tailed mouse in the Gwangmyeong City Sageori station.
“Their funerals were simple.”
“…… Thank you.”
More than anything, Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun’s voice was dismal.
“In one fortnight, let’s meet here again on the 18th of March.”
The negotiations had come to an end.
“Major Oh Saebum will be fine. He was just knocked out because of the force of impact. Although his nose was broken, I can fix it.”
Listening to his subordinate’s report, Lieutenant Yoo Daehyun stopped worrying about Oh Saebum.
At that moment, he called on two of the subordinates he had brought along with him.
One male and one female. The both of them looked to be in their mid-twenties and were both wearing berets like the Lieutenant Colonel.
They were Awakened in the 35th Special Assault Team under Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun’s command.
They were both reliable in regards to skill and trust.
“Find out everything you can about Kim Tae Hoon.
Close relationships, anything that could be a possible weakness.”
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun gave his commands to the both of them.
Instead of replying, the both of them gave a salute before disappearing from the Lieutenant Colonel’s eyes.
They would follow Kim Tae Hoon and lurk around in Bucheon for fortnight.
All in order to find his weakness.
‘If it’s like this, he can be dragged down.’
The existence of Kim Tae Hoon and his Mek Guild was unacceptable. It was no different from bringing a knife to the neck of the opposition in Bucheon in a bid to protect Seoul by any means necessary.
Even if it was Yoo Daehyun who had the last call, he would also deem Kim Tae Hoon’s proposal as unacceptable.
It was something that Kim Tae Hoon was aware of as well. He had come to Gimpo International Airport while knowing this and had put on a show.
And he had given the other side a choice.
They could either pit themselves against another dangerous enemy, or allow the other side a blank check and give them something they could use.
‘He was aiming for a relic.’
From the start, the only winner would be Kim Tae Hoon.
‘We need to grab ahold of a weakness.’
In other words, the only way to avoid eating a loss was to find Kim Tae Hoon’s weakness.
If it’s the two subordinates he had sent just moments before, then even if they gave up their lives, they would fulfill the mission.
Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun felt the dogtags in his pocket.
He firmly grit his teeth.
A forest of buildings.
In this cold and desolate place, a man and a woman were secretly moving about.
The two of them were like ghosts.
Their movements were traceless, and their expressions were cold like that of a ghost’s.
They didn’t even talk. The only conversation between the two was carried out by their eyes and silent cues.
Suddenly, the man sent a signal.
The man pointed towards a set of footsteps cutting across the forest of buildings.
The woman, looking at the footprints, shifted her gaze towards the building right next to the footprints.
Soon after, they entered the building.
The moment they entered the building, they made some noises for the first time.
It was the sound of inhaling.
At the same time, his incredibly stoic face was painted over in surprise.
It was none other than the fact that the moment they entered the building, they came face to face with Kim Tae Hoon.
The quarry that they had been stalking, the man who should be on his way to Bucheon City was right in front of them.
The two soldiers’ minds went into overdrive before recalling the manual that instructed the two on how to deal with this situation.
The woman would dash towards Kim Tae Hoon in order to grab his attention while the man would attempt to flee in order to tell Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun that the operation had failed. That was what the manual had instructed.
There were no signals that needed to be exchanged.
They just had to act according to the manual.
But they couldn’t execute the operation stated in the manual. They felt it as soon as they tried to move their bodies.
‘My body won’t move.’
The feeling that a giant hand had grasped their bodies.
Kim Tae Hoon spoke to them in a calm manner.
“I have no intention of killing the two of you and creating enmity between the lieutenant colonel and me. On the other hand, I also want to avoid attracting any nearby monsters because of you two prowling around.”
“…… What do you want?”
“I want the two of you to always stay within my sight during this fortnight.”
“Or you can stay tied up during the entirety of the fortnight and report back nothing of value to Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun. If you choose to be arrested, then you better be prepared to spend your time here wearing a diaper. I have no intention to give even the slightest leeway to the Awakened of the 35th Battalion Special Assault Team.”
The Telekinesis grabbing the two disappeared.
After exchanging a glance, the two opened their mouths.
“I am Sergeant First Class Kim Yuri.”
“I am Sergeant First Class Kim Joohyuk.”