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Kwang Hwi called the general in for a meeting. An old man fraught with worry stepped through the door. He had changed out of the luxurious suit from yesterday and was now wearing more modest clothing that better reflected his age.
“Did you call?” he asked.
“Were you able to get some rest?”
‘As if!’ The man stopped himself just short of vocalizing his sincere thoughts. He glanced over at Jackson, the man responsible for his watch. Jackson glared menacingly back at him.
“Ah…ahem. Yes, sure,” he replied awkwardly. It had, in fact, been quite an uncomfortable night. He had slept next to complete strangers—something unbefitting of his rank. It was like he was back in Nonsan Training Camp. Still, it was better than being tied up and starving on the hospital floor.
“Did you call me for the trade?” he inquired cautiously.
“Naturally.” Kwang Hwi showed none of the nerves the general did. He smoothly unfolded a map from his left breast pocket and turned to face the general expectantly, pressuring the man to speak through silence.
The general cleared his throat and pointed at a spot on the map. It was completely unremarkable. The map showed only a few apartments, surrounded by some small hills.
“The exact address,” demanded Kwang Hwi. A hint of suspicion carried through the query.
Noticing Kwang Hwi’s doubtful gaze, the general fumbled.
“While it may appear to be simply an apartment complex in a remote area, that’s just a disguise. Underneath the apartments, there’s an underground facility where all the equipment is stored.”
“We’ll know when we get there.” Kwang Hwi’s tone was noncommittal.
“Boss, we’re ready,” Jackson interjected.
“Excellent.” Kwang Hwi gestured towards the general as he replied.
With a massive grin, Jackson began advancing on the general ominously. The man hurriedly jumped up from his seat in a panic. “W-what are you trying to do?!”
There was no reply. Kwang Hwi merely stared at the general with an amused expression. His eyes began darting around for the exit, but Jackson was already in front of him.
“W-wait!” He reached out his hands to push Jackson away. Jackson brushed them aside and forcefully shoved a stab vest over the man’s clothes.
“H-huh?” Realizing he was not being disposed of, he stopped resisting.
“What are you getting scared of?” Kwang Hwi’s voice had a light mocking tone. “Aren’t you a General Officer?” He clicked his tongue in admonishment.
“Let’s go, Mr. Scared General.”
The members who had been tasked with defending the base yesterday were waiting in front of the APC. Kwang Hwi had made sure to rotate his men for missions in order to ensure that everyone would get field experience. Everyone wore military uniforms, with a stab vest and a tactical vest over top. Since the monsters tended to use sharp edged weapons, a stab vest would help tremendously in avoiding fatal injury.
Jackson entered the cockpit first. “Awesome! An APC with a bathroom?” He could hardly contain his excitement. In fact, everyone, including Kwang Hwi, was the same. It was their first time entering the Namer.
After confirming everyone had boarded, Jackson closed the rear door with a clank. The interior went dark. Then, powerful lights overhead lit up.
— “Attention passengers, this is your pilot Jackson. We’ll be arriving at our destination shortly, so please buckle up and enjoy the ride.”
The trip itself was comfortable. Jackson skillfully avoided any monsters lingering on the roads by taking some detours.
Kwang Hwi looked around the interior. The members who were leaving base for the first time today seemed a bit nervous. In contrast, the experienced soldiers appeared more bored than anything. Some of them were even falling asleep.
— “We’ll be arriving at our destination in 2 minutes.”
Kwang Hwi kicked the soldiers dozing off. They arrived shortly at the entrance of an apartment complex. It was situated in a fairly remote location. Behind the apartments stood a mountain that was hundreds of meters high, like a beautiful folding screen.
“How should we proceed?” asked Kwang Hwi.
“Head inside the apartment complex. If you keep going forward, you’ll find an entrance connected to the underground parking lot.”
Dilapidated apartments greeted them on both sides as the APC slowly entered the complex. The entire complex seemed fairly old, the tallest apartments were only five stories high. Still, they didn’t look anything like the buildings ravaged by the monsters. Regardless, the entire complex looked cold and empty.
Soon, the entrance to the underground parking lot became visible. “Keep going,” the general advised.
A thick iron door blocked the vehicle’s path. Kwang Hwi determined that it was a blast door, capable of withstanding even tremendous explosions.
“Please let me go out to the front. I’ll need to verify my identity.”
Kwang Hwi nodded and the team exited the APC. His men secured the area while the two of them headed towards the security panel to the right of the door. Unlike the residential areas above, the security panel was receiving power from off the grid and appeared to be in perfect functioning order.
The general looked into the scanner while a red laser swept over his eye.
An unmanned turret came into view as the door slid open. Kwang Hwi was not surprised to notice that it had rusted past the point of use.
Overhead lights buzzed with life, revealing two rows of vehicles neatly lined on either side of the lot. On one side sat a line of Light Tactical Vehicles that could be called the Korean HMMWV. Opposite them, sat a row of K-21 IFVs.
Kwang Hwi carefully inspected each of the vehicles. As he concluded, he exclaimed aloud, “It’s just as I thought.”
The ones without weapons were still in perfect condition, while every vehicle with machine guns or turrets had rusted to scrap. Even the K-21 had holes rusted through the armor plating and its tracks were completely ruined. In contrast, the Light Tactical Vehicles were in pristine condition. Kwang Hwi’s suspicions were confirmed.
Unlike Kwang Hwi, the general’s face was aghast as he saw the state of the vehicles. After what felt like an eternity, Kwang Hwi finally turned back to him.
“Ah, it’s over there,” he said, pointing at a large trailer at the end of the parking lot.
Kwang Hwi entered the trailer. The grey fuselage of the Heron, faintly reflecting the overhead illumination, greeted the men from the carrier compartment. Kwang Hwi nodded in satisfaction.
He carefully inspected every part of the drone. ‘Well maintained. As expected of a military drone.’ Similar to the tactical vehicles outside, the Heron was in perfect working order. If Kwang Hwi could secure satellites and SATCOM transceivers, he could expand his operating range from 200 km up to 3,300 km.
“I kept my word,” the general mentioned.
Kwang Hwi nodded. “Alright. A deal is a deal.”
He turned around, scanning the parking lot. His eyes paused on another door at the end of the lot. Unlike the massive blast door that they had passed through, this one was small. “What’s this door for?” he asked, pointing towards the end of the lot.
“That’s a shelter,” the general explained. “It’s also used as a command and control center.”
Kwang Hwi was now interested. “Can you open it?”
The general quickly walked up to the security device. So long as his safety was a priority, he was willing to cooperate with Kwang Hwi as much as possible. This time, a security code followed the retinal scan.
The door opened, showcasing a long corridor. The soldiers cut across to the other side, securing the perimeter. It didn’t matter if there were any troops remaining. Without any weapons on hand, they weren’t a threat. At the end of the hallway was another locked door. The general opened that one too. As promised, a large display screen greeted Kwang Hwi and his men as they entered the door at the end of the hallway. In front of it sat a row of computers. Kwang Hwi tapped at the keyboard. The display was non-responsive.
“It seems the higher ups initiated a facility lock,” the general advised.
“What do you mean?” asked Kwang Hwi.
“It allows entry, but prevents system operation.”
Kwang Hwi nodded. He quickly lost interest in the unresponsive system. It was unfortunate, he had hoped to use the command and control center to take over the satellite system.
“Is there an armory around here?” he asked, shifting focus.
The armory was quite spacious and well stocked, as expected of a military facility. All manners of weaponry were neatly on display. Unfortunately, as Kwang Hwi expected, most of them were rendered unusable. The saving grace was that there were a few non-lethal items that were still useful, such as smoke grenades and flare guns.
Rather than the armory, it was to Kwang Hwi’s pleasant surprise that the facility’s food storage was the biggest boon this place had to offer. The facility had clearly been designed to be able to house and feed hundreds of soldiers in worst-case scenarios and, consequently, it was filled to the brim with rations.
There was a cornucopia of food, enough to even feed the survivors they picked up alongside his men. After confirming that there were no hostiles in the compound, Kwang Hwi quickly drew up plans to put everyone to work. He silently watched his men load the supplies. Even the general was not exempt, he understood that Kwang Hwi guaranteed his safety and only that. Any resilience would be met with discipline.
“Is that everything?” asked Kwang Hwi.
“Yes. We loaded the UAV and all the supplies,” Jackson replied.
“Good. Seize all usable vehicles in the lot. There should be five or six of them that still works.” While they weren’t equipped with weapons, they were still bulletproof military grade vehicles. Planning to make a mechanized infantry unit in the future, it was certainly nice to have more at hand. The light vehicles were ideal for patrols and reconnaissance. If he mounted machine guns onto them, his men could easily subdue a few monsters.
Jackson called out from across the room. “There’s five in total, boss. Ready to go.”
“Excellent. Lead the way.”
Less than half rode the Namer on their way back. The others were needed to operate the five Korean HMMWVs and a trailer carrying the UAV.
The mission was a great success. With 1 Israeli APC, five Korean HMMWVs, and a trailer with a UAV Heron, he was riding off of waves of momentum that would lead him to greater heights.
Monsters? With enough Merit Points, they were just cannon fodder.
Military? Without their weapons, they were nothing.
At this rate, nothing would stop him on his path to creating the strongest militia in South Korea.
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