Chapter 61 – Incheon Landing Operation (3)
On a day of terror and despair, a day of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a man appeared in the sky like a messenger of God.
It was an unforgettable scene.
“Who is the leader?”
Coming in with such an entrance, Kim Tae Hoon was met with no resistance.
“I-I’m the leader.”
It was the same for the man in the priestly garb.
He stood before Kim Tae Hoon with a blank expression on his face, completely devoid of any resistance.
Eyeing the priest, Kim Tae Hoon’s left eyebrow raised.
The priest before him was far weaker than the leader figure he had envisioned in his head. It seemed like even the big silver cross around his neck was too heavy for him to lift.
Kim Tae Hoon didn’t ruminate on that point for too long. The identity of the leader wasn’t something that Kim Tae Hoon placed much importance on.
“I am Kim Tae Hoon, the leader of the Mek Guild that currently oversees Bucheon.”
“I am…… I am a priest leading these survivors. My name is Baek Jungjoon.”
“Before I continue, I want to go over one thing.”
With his mouth open, Kim Tae Hoon spoke loudly to the crowd.
They stared at Kim Tae Hoon with blank expressions. It was hard to believe that these gazes were filled with fear and despair just moments ago.
He looked at the faces in the crowd one by one, and after confirming Kim Yuri’s safety, he opened his mouth.
“All of the Looters that were targeting this area have been dealt with.”
The news that came out of his mouth was something that everyone wanted to hear.
“They died by my hands.”
Now all that was left was for the gathered people to shout for joy.
But Kim Tae Hoon did not let that joy spread too far.
“However, all your lives are indebted to me now.”
With that, Kim Tae Hoon’s eyes took on a savage glow. No, rather, Kim Tae Hoon’s eyes were like that from the beginning.
It’s just that everyone was blinded by the fantastical aspect of the Looters having been dealt with, but now, it was time for them to wake up.
Having woken up from their fantasy, they had come to realize that their saviors were neither angels nor the messengers of God.
“Does anyone have any complaints?”
It was time for them to realize that the man before them was not a charity worker.
Whilst sitting on top of a building, Kim Tae Hoon was calmly drinking some coffee out of a thermos and looking down towards Ganseogogeori.
Survivors briskly moved around, cleaning up the mess caused by the tank shells.
It was like watching a bunch of ants.
He wasn’t looking at them with contempt.
It was quite the opposite. Seeing them move in such an organized and desperate manner like how ants would move in order to ensure survival was admirable not contemptible. Him drawing a comparison between the survivors and the ants was his expression of admiration.
‘Lee Jin Sung was right.’
It was a miracle that even some of these people had survived here.
‘Incheon city is…… it’s basically done for.’
The first question that he asked the leader of the survivors, Baek Jungjoon, was what they had been doing so far in Incheon.
The story that Baek Jungjoon told was so horrific, that everything that Kim Tae Hoon had gone through in Bucheon seemed tame in comparison.
‘A monster with two heads.’
In the background was a terrifying, green ranked monster.
It was an incredibly large monster that was 10 meters tall. The survivors in Incheon called it the Twin Headed Ogre. Aside from the dragon, it would be the strongest monster that Kim Tae Hoon would ever face up against.
Just listening to the description was enough to cause goosebumps to cover one’s entire body.
‘It’s also an orc tribe chief.’
What was even more alarming was the orc tribe that followed the ogre.
And it wasn’t just a regular run-of-the-mill tribe either.
It was a large tribe with a countless number of orcs, of which were Black Orcs and the like as well.
There were perhaps thousands of them like some sort of a nightmare.
‘If it weren’t for a divine intervention by a god, the humans would have been annihilated.’
It was thanks to a relic that Baek Jungjoon had that the survivors were able to last for so long in Ganseogogeori.
Putting down his coffee, Kim Tae Hoon pulled out his phone to take a look at a picture.
The picture came up immediately.
– Relic Grade : Grade 3
– Relic Rarity: Special
– Relic Effect : A cross left behind by one of the 103 martyrs canonized as a saint. It possesses a strong ability to repel monsters.
It was a piece of history– a cross that had been carried around by one of the 103 martyrs and had been passed down to Baek Jungjoon through a bishop that he used to serve under.
The cross made it possible for the survivors to withstand the monsters in Ganseogogeori.
It was indeed a divine intervention.
‘King Jinheung’s Sunsubi monument is the same as well.’
Kim Tae Hoon was surprised at the fact that there were numerous relics that could deter monsters.
‘No, more than, to think that one Saint’s Cross could cover all of Ganseogogeori by itself…… is the Vatican a calm area right now?’
He was nervous.
The Saint’s Cross wasn’t an everyday object. The Vatican has only ever canonized a very small number of saints.
However, the Vatican would also be in possession of many relics, especially crosses that had once belonged to saints.
Furthermore, the city of the Vatican itself was very likely to become as a relic as well.
It was almost guaranteed that the vatican would become a safety zone for survivors, resulting in it turning into a base of sorts.
Regardless, things would be good up to that point. The problem was what came after.
‘Italy…… it would be a war zone.’
That Vatican would inevitably become the backbone of an Italian Empire, setting the Vatican as a base to move out from. Will they choose to save the world? Or could they be wanting to aim for being the only order in this collapsed world?
‘After the Chinese, it would be the Italians……’
The fact that the Vatican had leaned towards the latter in the annals of history was a clear indicator.
‘If there is a god, I want him to see how I die.’
Kim Tae Hoon made a bitter smile on his face.
At that time, a woman appeared on the roof of the same building that Kim Tae Hoon was on. It was Kim Yuri.
Seeing her appear, Kim Tae Hoon closed the thermos lid. With a silent, yet resolute expression on her face, Kim Yuri swallowed her saliva.
Kim Tae Hoon looked at her and spoke.
“Have you listened to everything that Staff Sergeant Park Ilsun had to say?”
Staff Sergeant Park Ilsun.
He was a soldier under the protection of Baek Jungjoon in the current Ganseogogeori.
He belonged to the 35th Battalion.
In addition, he was an Awakened with the pattern on his right hand.
“Then it seems like it’s time for me to have a chat with him. Was he a member of a rescue team meant to rescue Kate Kennedy?”
He was a member of a rescue team, but had only just barely made it out alive by sacrificing his two legs and his right arm.
“That’s correct sir.”
A member of a rescue team assembled to rescue the daughter of the US ambassador to Korea.
“To be more specific, it wasn’t just to rescue Kate Kennedy, but to confirm the life and death of all foreign VIP personnel leaving through Incheon International Airport and if possible, recruiting them to their side.”
It was a part of Park Ilsun’s responsibilities to search through Incheon National Airport and the surrounding hotels for VIP personnel who were leaving South Korea for the end of the year and then bringing them over.
It wasn’t a strange scenario.
In a world where wireless communication was down, it would have been highly likely that important officials, such as foreign ambassadors, would have asked the powers in the ROK to look for and confirm whether or not their family members were still alive– these requests could not possibly have been rejected by the ROK.
Ignoring their requests would result in a diplomatic issue. At the time, it was something they couldn’t help but worry about.
“When was the operation start date?”
“…… It was on January 22nd sir.”
The problem was that things did not work out the way they had planned.
Considering how all important infrastructure had collapsed, it was impossible to move tanks and a large amount of troops from Seoul to Incheon.
“How many personnel did the rescue team consist of?”
“There were 21 soldiers.”
So in the end, the rescue could only consist of a small number of elites.
“How many Awakened?”
“They were all Awakened.”
In addition, they were all super powered humans known as the Awakened.
But in the end, they were still lacking. There was one more thing that they needed to do in order to increase their mission success rate.
“How many relics were they given?”
There’s no denying that guns are powerful. But without ammunition, a gun becomes an obsolete chunk of metal. All other weapons were the same. The modern-day army has been trained in violent methods, but it’s their ruthlessness that is their weakness, as most of their methods rely on the supply of other things.
In other words, bullets and guns were unreliable weapons.
It was obvious that the Capital Defense Command would issue powerful relics and other weapons that would make the usage of firearms unnecessary.
“How many national treasures?”
And amongst those were national treasures.
They had no other choice.
The chance of rescue would decrease exponentially as time went by, so they needed to succeed on their first attempt.
Success was almost completely dependent on this first attempt. If the usage of a national treasure was necessary, then they would definitely have been willing to allow them usage of at least one national treasure.
That was the reason why.
“There were two national treasures.”
Rescuing Kate Kennedy was for no other reason than to obtain national treasures.
Certainly, rescuing and recruiting Kate Kennedy would be worth as much as one national treasure.
But there was no reason for the Capital Defense Command to pay a fair price.
It was the same as it has always been.
A strong man need not weigh a weak man the same as he.
It was the same for the National Defense Command. They simply could not accept Kim Tae Hoon and the Mek Guild as their equals. They were an overwhelmingly strong force, and the Mek Guild was an overwhelmingly weak entity.
“So I’ll be taking a different form of compensation for this mission in the form of a national treasure.”
Even if the price for rescuing her was a national treasure, that fact would exist only as words as they would have no reason to actually pay.
If they actually did end up paying him a national treasure, then that would only mean that her worth was much more than that of one treasure.
Since the original rescue team had failed to rescue Kate Kennedy, then their national treasures must have been left in Incheon.
“What about the names of the national treasures?”
“National Treasure number 91, Earthenware Warrior on Horseback, and number 87, Gold Crown of Silla,”
It was only natural that this mission would then have far more value than before.
“Where are the two relics now?”
“It’s impossible to figure out the location of the Gold Crown of Silla, but, the location of no. 91, Earthenware Warrior on Horseback is…… Staff Sergeant Park Ilsun knows.”
As Kim Yuri finished speaking, Kim Tae Hoon opened the lid on his thermos.
After a brief sip of coffee, he spoke.
“Let’s see what he wants then.”
Negotiation began once more.
[Earthenware Warrior on Horseback]
– Relic Grade : Grade 2
– Relic Rarity: Special
– Relic Effect : By injecting mana into the figurine, the user is able to manipulate it like a doll. The amount of mana injected determines the amount of time you can use the figurine.
Earthenware Warrior On Horseback.
It was a very familiar national heirloom to Koreans. This figure would show up at least one in any textbook depicting the Three Kingdoms period.
This relic which should be safely contained behind a glass case in the National Museum of Korea was now in the hands of Kim Tae Hoon.
Kim Tae Hoon was staring at the relic with blackened eyes. Standing next to him was Kim Yuri.
Kim Yuri was currently gritting her teeth.
‘I can’t turn back now.’
This was more than just disobeying commands, it was rebellion.
There were two aspects to her original mission.
One was to observe Kim Tae Hoon.
The second was to go to Incheon City with Kim Tae Hoon and recover the relics left behind by those who had failed the mission.
In other words, she was not to disclose any clues about the relics to Kim Tae Hoon even if she were tortured.
“How strong is this relic?”
“It’s strong enough to buy enough time against a green ranked monster.”
“Explain in more detail.”
“If someone with Rank B Magic were to inject mana into the relic, it’s enough to battle for 11 minutes. The relic was able to buy 11 minutes against the green ranked monster Ten-Legged Spider. During that time, Major Oh Saebum jumped on top of the monster and was able to kill the green ranked monster.”
But rather than concealing these facts, she revealed them to Kim Tae Hoon.
“……he managed to secure it.”
“Staff Sergeant Park Ilsun risked his life to secure it.
It was because of what Sergeant Park Ilsun had said.
He had said before.
There was a traitor amongst them.
It was because of the traitor that the mission had failed and the group was nearly wiped out.
The traitor targeted a relic that had been given to them.
In such a situation, he was barely able to stow away the Earthenware Warrior on Horseback and escape, but it wasn’t long before he was attacked by a monster, making it out alone only after having lost his legs and his left arm.
After he heard that story, Kim Yuri had lost faith in the Capital Defense Command.
There was only one person she could trust.
“Rather than that, do you think what he said is true major sir?”
It was Kim Tae Hoon!
So Kim Yuri made a deal with Kim Tae Hoon. She wanted Kim Tae Hoon to find the traitor.
“It’s very possible that the traitor is still in Incheon. It’s likely that the traitor is the figure behind the Looters.”
Kim Tae Hoon was surprisingly not surprised when Kim Yuri told him about the traitor.
Rather, he was able to almost immediately identify the traitor.
‘He’s probably the influencing force behind Oh Saebum.’
Only the Six Snakes would covet the national treasures and various relics owned by the Capital Defense Command.
Furthermore, he was now sure that the Six Snakes had some sort of intrinsic relationship with Incheon.
The Looters having tanks was enough evidence to point towards that point.
“It’s common sense, if the Looters knew how to use the tank, then they would have used it sooner. The Saint’s Cross in Baek Jungjoon’s possession is only effective against monsters, not humans.”
The Looters had been unable to raid the survivors because they did not possess firepower superior to that of the survivors.
However, the Looters had suddenly come into possession of a couple of tanks.
“It’s unlikely that they would obtain the knowledge of how to operate tanks. Someone had slowly taught the Looters how to operate a tank.”
A tank wasn’t a simple vehicle you could drive around like a car. Operating a tank requires a certain amount of training and knowledge in order to not only drive, but to utilize the various other functions and weapons.
That meant that there was at least one person who provided the necessary training and operation manuals for the Looters to learn how to operate the tank.
As a result, Kim Tae Hoon modified his plan.
He had to postpone rescuing Kate Kennedy for the time being. She had received a report that Lieutenant Colonel Yoo Daehyun was in Yeongjeongdo, but it was likely that information itself was false information spread by the traitor.
The first thing they had to do was attack the Looters’ base and identify who it was that had taught and trained the Looters how to operate a tank.
“We can ask the person in question face to face.”
With that reply, Kim Tae Hoon started to infuse his mana into the Earthenware Warrior on Horseback.