< From Noon until the Break of Dawn (Part 1) >
It took quite some time for Leona to crawl out of the cave ant tunnel.
Leona extracted the chips from the queen ant, as well as from the cave ants’ bodies. It was the reason that she took extra time to come back out of the tunnel.
“Man… I thought I was gonna die.”
Leona smelled foul, as she covered with fluid from the cave ants and dust all over her body.
“You look like a bum.”
“What. Did you think that I was going to come out after taking a shower?” Leona replied snarkily comment to Zin who was mocking her. Leona took many deep breaths, as it felt good breathing in fresh air.
“Hold on to the spellstone until you wash your body clean.”
To be safe, Zin had Leona hold onto the spellstone, and received the weapon and equipment back. Zin looked at the muddy Saiga, and became serious. And after looking at the magazine that was empty, he became even more serious.
“… Did you use up all the ammunition?”
“Yeah, the queen was still alive.”
The shotgun that Zin cleaned up before at Jule was now dirty, but he was not too upset about it. Leona took out the chipbox from her pocket and passed it to Zin.
“Total of 928 chips. The queen ant coughed up about 400 chips.”
Leona had recovered a huge amount of chips after extracting the chips from the queen ant and the cave ants. As Zin kept on staring at the chipbox, Leona pushed the chipbox towards him.
“You can think of it as a tuition fee until I become a real hunter. I am not giving you a single chip after I become a hunter.”
Leona didn’t go into the tunnels to earn more chips for herself. She went through the hassle to give Zin more chips. Zin put away the chipbox in his coat, and Leona laid down on the hammock. She fell to sleep shortly after, as she was very tired.
Zin thought that Leona was acting irrationally, but he was surprised that she was able to extract the chips from the queen ant. Even though there might not have been any threat, it was not a simple task. Zin would have gone through the tunnels reluctantly even if he was as small as her.
Going through the dark cave ant tunnel was not something that somebody could easily do.
Zin did not feeling comfortable receiving chips that he did not earn himself. He started to fill up the hole that Leona came out from. He did not want the epidemic to spread outside the tunnels and cause terrible problems.
“Now that I think about it, didn’t we just steal the chips that the people of Jule were going to excavate?” Leona asked as the two continued their journey next morning.
“Well, sort of. But there are still tons of cave ants left underground, so it’ll be fine.”
Zin wondered if the people of Jule would even start digging up the ground. They would not be able to locate where the cave ants would be.
Zin and Leona did not want to waste any more time, and left the vicinity of the castle of Jule.
“We just confirmed the destruction of the cave ant colony, so we don’t have to worry anymore.”
The sorcery proved to be effective, and Zin and Leona were able to verify that the entire ant colony was wiped out. It meant that the area was safe from the cave ants.
“So this area is safe from now on.”
“Well, when a group of predators is wiped out, another group will move in. So we can’t say that conclusively.”
It was hard to predict how the ecosystem would change, and it was especially hard to predict the ecosystem with monsters. Removing a predator did not necessarily make an environment safer. The cave ants were not the most dangerous predator, but they created an environment that was tough for other monsters to live because they stole the prey.
Nobody knew what predator would move into the area. As Leona was shaking her head, Zin had a random thought.
Then the southern region of the Korean peninsula…
The monsters in the southern region were probably wiped out as the prototype brought them to attack the SMCP fortress.
As a result, it was very likely that the southern region of Korea became a monster-free region. The Korean peninsula probably became a better to live.
But at the same time, many people were probably killed when the monsters headed north.
The southern region of Korea will be lifeless for some time.
The southern region would remain as a quiet and peaceful place until new refugees settled in the area. It was a paradise that was waiting for new people to come. As Zin thought about it, he looked at Leona. “Would you…”
The southern region of Korea would be the perfect location to live for Leona, who despised both humans and monsters. He thought that it would be good place for Leona to settle down. The surroundings wouldn’t be dangerous, and there would be many empty cities. However, after looking at Leona’s facial expression, Zin stopped talking.
“What were you going to say?”
Zin did not think Leona would willingly head down south. Zin would be lucky if Leona didn’t get mad at him breaking his promise of training her as a hunter.
“Let’s go. We have a long way to go.”
“What the heck?” Leona shrugged and started walking, and Zin followed her.
“If you don’t know where you are going, don’t take the point.”
“This is the right direction.”
“You are right, but…”
“Then, just follow me.”
“I shouldn’t have bothered talking to you.”
The little kid with an attitude did not seem to be tired and continued to walk ahead of him.
Zin and Leona walked for many days.
The Heavenly Power castle was still days away, and was located near the area formerly known as Yichun city in the Heilongjiang Province. Zin and Leona had a long way to go.
Zin did not appear to be taking his time, as he was a hunter who wandered the world by foot and needed to hunt the devil. But at the same time, he was not walking too hastily.
It was not because he had to keep pace with Leona, but because he did not have to hurry.
When Leona asked why Zin was taking it slow, Zin replied, “It’ll be alive somewhere. If it is dead, that’ll be good too.”
The devil was probably alive and wandering around, and it was given that it would appear again. Zin was ready to hunt the devil, and he was going to wander the world until the devil appeared again in the world.
Nothing had changed much. With limited access to data, Zin could only wander around the wilderness, and hope to find the location of the devil.
“We’ll come across the Witch one day.”
There was no need to rush, as it would be impossible to continuously search for the devil. He would get tired trying to do so. Zin had lived as a hunter for a very long time, and he knew that he had to wait patiently.
Zin was certain that the White Witch would not hide for too long, and he knew that he had to focus on the preparation of the hunt.
“Where are we so far?”
“Hmm… we are almost out of the Korean Peninsula. After we cross a river ahead of us, we’ll be in the continent.”
Leona didn’t know where the Korean Peninsula was, and she did not fully understand what Zin meant. Zin paused and started drawing the map of the Asian continent with his fingers. He drew the Korean peninsula in the corner.
“We walked all the way up to this area, and we are right here.”
“What, we came only this far?”
Zin sighed as she realized how big the Asian continent was compared to Korea. And as Zin pointed to their destination location, she was even more astonished. She dreaded that she had to walk as much again as she had travelled so far.
“The world is too big…” Zin only drew the Asian continent, and Leona was amazed at the size of the Earth.
“It’s actually bigger. There’s Europe, Africa, and other continents too.”
“Other continents? Are you telling that there are other continents that are that big?” Leona was amazed that the world she was living in was so vast.
“How do I get to the other continents?”
“Well, we can’t go there anymore.”
“There aren’t any ships to take us there.”
Leona kept on asking different questions, as she was excited to learn new things.
“Mister, have you been to other continents?”
“Yes, a long time ago.”
“Wow, that’s awesome. I wanna go too!”
Zin laughed at Leona’s comments. It was funny to hear a little kid who hadn’t been to the Asian continent wanting to visit the continent of America.
“It’s not that much different from here.”
“But, still, I wanna go.”
“Well, technically, there is a way to get there.”
“We would need to steal a Wargrave battleship. There is a Wargrave navy base near Vladivostok, and we’d need to steal one. And of course, you would need to steer the ship by yourself.”
“Mister, you always talk about nonsense, huh?”
As Leona grumbled, Zin laughed. In fact, Wargrave had a small fleet of battleships. But it was crazy to even think about stealing a battleship.
Then, Leona asked again suddenly “Are there people living there?”
“I don’t know about now… but there used to be people living there,”Zin answered, and Leona nodded as she listened…
After a long walk, Zin and Leona reached the Doo-man River. If they crossed this river boundary, they would be out of the Korean Peninsula. Zin and Leona climbed up a hill, and from there, they were able to see the curvy river, and the field that was on the opposite side of the river. Leona watched the scene in awe with her mouth open.
Without marveling, Zin also started to look around the area to observe the surroundings. Shortly after, Zin and Leona were able to spot some strange things.
“… what the heck?”
“Eh… Things like this always happen.”
On the other side of the river, there were many destroyed tanks and armored vehicles. There were tanks that seemed to have been destroyed not too long ago, and there were dead bodies laying all over the place.
And the dead people were Wargrave soldiers. Leona spotted something and pointed her finger at it. “I see something over there.”
“Let’s take cover for now.”
Zin and Leona hid behind some bushes and trees on the hill. There was a group of people scavenging around the destroyed tanks at the area that Leona had pointed out. They were far away, but it was obvious what they were doing.
They were going through the destroyed vehicles to loot weapons or parts. They were either scavengers or Reavers. They would be enemies if they were Reavers, and scavengers were dangerous to deal with. In the wilderness, it was smart to be on guard against strangers, and Zin was cautiously observing them.
Zin took out a scope, and started to observe the people.
Someone smashed the reactor.
Bah, only scrap metals
Well, at least we picked up a single reactor. This thing’s a beast. What we’re using now is junk.
Everything looks destroyed… I was hoping to get some weapons.
How did they get wrecked so badly?
How would I know?
These scrap metals are still useful. Steel used by Wargrave is pretty good. We should be satisfied with what we got.
I know, but still. We could have scored big time today.
They were scavengers who had heard about the defeat of the Wargrave troops. They were going through all the tanks to see if there was anything valuable.
Zin considered his options as he observed the scavengers.
Looks like Wargrave set up a defense line on the Doo-man River, and it was destroyed. Looks like all forces have retreated.
What was the defense line for?
They could have been set up to prevent the White Witch from moving north, or they were trying to prevent from Charlotte heading back to headquarters.
Or was it for both reasons?
I see that surfaces of the tanks have melted, and the tanks were physically destroyed. It looks like a laser weapon was used. The Witch escaped with a black hawk, so I don’t think the Witch was here.
It’s very possible that a defense line as set up on the Ak-Rock River as well. But the troops were dealt massive damage and the defense line was broken…
It’s been at most fifteen days since a battle took place. I can’t imagine that the Wargrave tanks were looted within fifteen days. Transportation units would be needed to carry looted parts.
I see that the tanks and the weapons were destroyed by separate attacks… There were additional explosions after the tanks were immobilized. It possible that Wargrave destroyed the tanks because they do not want the technology to be leaked…”
If the defense line was broken and reinforcement troops were sent to recover equipment, they would have recovered parts including the reactors.
As Zin was thinking about many things, he continued to monitor the scavengers. They were going though the destroyed tanks, but they were unable to pick up anything useful. It was possible that the Wargrave troops recovered all the parts while retreating. But Zin thought that the troops were almost annihilated.
Zin started thinking based on his observations.
Wargrave’s Central Asia Division set up a defense line near the Doo-man and Ap-Rock river area.
Their goal was to kill both the White Witch and the undercover lieutenant, Charl.
Charlotte broke the defense line and continued to head north. Or it’s very possible that she went around destroying all the tanks.
A war between the HQ and the Central Asia Division is looming. She probably destroyed the tanks to weaken the Central Asia Division.
Charlotte didn’t destroy the Wargrave weapons, nor did the reinforcement troops. A third party was involved here.
I’ll leave the scavengers alone for now. I don’t know how many there are. No need to alert them by firing a shot.
In Zin’s opinion, the scavengers were not armed with deadly weapons, and Zin was able to strike first. Zin was planning to wait until they passed by. Zin looked at Leona, and sent her hand signals. Zin had taught her hand signs in case of emergency, and she had mastered all the signs.
Zin sent a signal to stand by, and she nodded.
Just in case, Zin pulled out the M700 Remington and put the silencer on the rifle, acting swiftly while lying on ground.
Zin was not too far away from Leona, but he thought that it would be good for Leona to get used to hand signs.
The scavengers looked through the corpses of the Wargrave soldiers, but were unable to find anything useful. All the Wargrave weapons, from guns to heavy artillery, were destroyed.
Damn, nothing at all.
From afar, the scavengers were murmuring. And soon, the scavengers stopped moving, and Zin stayed quiet as well.
A rough engine sound started to roar from a distance. The scavengers were briefly startled, and then they started to scatter to find a place to hide. All the people in the area knew what the engine sound was all about.
Junkwagon. The Reavers were approaching. The area near the defense line was an open field, and the scavengers had nowhere to run. The only places they could hide were the destroyed tanks or armored vehicles.
Soon, the group of Reavers who were riding the junkwagons started approaching along the riverbed.
One crazy Reaver who was mimicking the sound of the engine was leading the group towards them.