22. Operation: ‘Bait & Massacre’
In the recent battlefield of the now half-wrecked Dongducheon Stadium, a black bomb fell. Destruction ensued with a loud boom, causing a shockwave to spread out from the center. The floodlights and grandstand seating, that was somehow still standing, were flattened immediately.
Watching the events from afar, Kwang Hwi grabbed his radio.
“It’s too close.”
— “Readjusting the target.”
A few minutes later, the gunner gave another reply.
— “Ready to fire with the new corrections.”
Though it was his imagination, the thunderous sound of the artillery fire seemed to be right next to him, shaking his eardrums and causing his guts to squeeze.
The second bomb fell outside the stadium, creating a mushroom cloud of smoke and dust. The asphalt debris was thrown out in all directions and the smog barred the vision of the soldiers.
— “How was that one?”
— “That’s a relief. We’ll stand by for further orders.”
Kwang Hwi turned to face the men standing at attention next to him. They were in charge of driving each vehicle.
“You saw that? That’s where it will fall, so find cover around the corners.”
“Everyone on board.”
The men that had been observing from outside rushed into the car. Most of the combat force of the Kwang Hwi Faction was present here, witnessing the scene and preparing themselves for the upcoming fight. They came fully prepared for this campaign.
There was the APC Namer, Light Tactical Vehicles with machine guns, and even a Medium Tactical Vehicle mounted with a grenade launcher. All combat assets except those tasked with guarding the power plant and HQ were deployed for this cleanup operation.
The Kwang Hwi Faction returned to the stadium with the armored vehicles leading. The roads were rough from all the shelling, but military vehicles were designed to be used in such conditions in the first place, so they continued without any hiccups.
Each vehicle stopped in one corner of the stadium. Their positions were some distance away from where the shells were expected to land, with a small hill on their rear.
“Everyone disembark and begin the operation!”
The men got off the vehicles and stuck close to the carrier compartment. From there, they carried out blockades and obstacles such as sandbags and mobile barricades and began to set up a defense. Most were of considerable weight and were sturdy enough to take a beating.
“Make sure they are installed properly.”
Kwang Hwi’s subordinates walked around while supervising the work and spitting out orders. There weren’t only setting up obstacles. The soldiers were also preparing to engage in battle. Ammunition was stockpiled and the medical personnel was brought into the rear just in case. They were laying the groundwork for any unforeseen accidents.
“Boss, all the preparations are ready.”
All that remained was for the monsters to gather and come to them.
“Jackson, you take charge.”
“Y-you want me to?”
He seemed a little reluctant, perhaps due to what happened yesterday. Kwang Hwi placed his hand on Jackson’s shoulder to encourage him.
“You’re the only one I can trust here.”
“Leave it to me!”
Jackson’s expression became firm with determination as though the hesitation he just showed was never there. Kwang Hwi pursed his lips to hold back his laughter.
“Get ready and go around the perimeter to become familiar with the roads.”
With a quick salute, Jackson ran towards the Light Tactical Vehicle. He took along a new recruit who had been standing around somewhat idly. Without clearly knowing what was going on, the recruit was taken away by the veteran.
Clearing his throat to hide the smile, Kwang Hwi turned to his radio. It was time to get serious.
“Operation Bait and Massacre, begin.”
The Light Tactical Vehicle in charge of baiting sped off. With a heavy foot on the pedal, the vehicle quickly left the stadium, leaving the men in anticipation of the upcoming fight.
Kwang Hwi entered the APC. A temporary operations headquarters was set up inside: a screen connected to the UAV, a digital map showing the nearby geography, and a communication line to the SPG.
Jackson was doing a great job as bait. The operation was simple with the following steps:
1. Using information from the UAV, go to where the monsters are concentrated.
2. Draw their attention by firing the machine gun.
3. Maintain a proper gap, large enough so that the vehicle is not caught by the monsters but also short enough to not lose the monsters.
4. Attract as many of them as possible to the stadium.
Kwang Hwi looked at the screen. The UAVs were following Jackson’s movements and accurately displaying the current situation. The Light Tactical Vehicle was driving around like crazy. Occasionally, there would be abandoned cars blocking the road, but Jackson’s vehicle slipped past them, barely avoiding contact. The driving was even more dangerous than that of a racing maniac or a biker gang. It was apparent that Jackson was driving.
The recruit that had been dragged along in confusion was now diligently firing the machine gun towards the rear. Yellow tracers streamed towards the Keku. The monsters shot by the bullets would fall, but it didn’t make a difference. Instead, the sound of the gunfire attracted more monsters to join the chase. It was evident that they were performing brilliantly and no mishaps had occurred so far.
‘That’s a lot of them.’
Kwang Hwi thought as he scrutinized the numbers of the monsters. Nevertheless, that was not all of them. It was only a fraction of what was being dragged in.
— “B-boss! ETA 3 minutes!”
“Affirmative, ETA 3 minutes.”
Communications were being made on an open channel. Members hiding behind the barricades checked their weapons. They fiddled with their equipment one last time to check for any damages. Who knew whether their last-minute check would save their lives.
The roar of an engine was heard in the distance. The familiar sound of the Light Tactical Vehicle could be discerned and the men quickly readied their guns, pointing the muzzle forward.
— “We’ve arrived!”
The vehicle leading the monsters quickly moved off to one side. Kwang Hwi and the others could see the monsters with their eyes. Their savage appearance had now become a routine to them. They were not as nervous as their first time.
— “K-9 Firing!”
Shells from the SPG fell on the monsters’ heads and the dust enveloped them. There wasn’t time to even frown at the explosion. The ones lucky enough to be out of the explosive range were scampering away from the front hurriedly.
Primary arms, machine guns, and grenade launchers saturated the air with metal. The cacophony of sound almost caused everyone to become deaf. There was carnage everywhere with the blood and flesh of the monsters flying in all directions, scattering through the air and grass. The ground was dyed red with bullet shells dotting it like a painting—a bloody artwork with the bullet shells as stars and the blood as the night sky. The ferocity of the monsters died away in front of the barricade—a monster-grinding barricade.
Droves of monsters died every time a 155mm shell landed. A large hole would form in the black crowd, but it would quickly close up as more numbers filled the area. More Keku piled in from the rear as if they were attracted to their deaths like moths to a flame.
Abruptly, the machine-gun fire came to a halt. Its magazine had been exhausted as the smoke was released from the heated muzzle. There was a rare moment of relative silence. The assistant gunner next to him hurriedly pulled out a new magazine and connected it to the machine gun.
The gunner nodded his head and loaded the chamber once more. The empty shells spewed from the side of the machine gun on to the floor as it began another round of firing. The bullets rained at the monsters like water droplets falling from the sky. The assistant gunner that helped with the reloading quickly grabbed his own gun.
There were only the screams of gunfire and monsters. Amongst the chaos, Kwang Hwi’s gaze was fixed on the screen connected to the UAV as he observed the overall situation and kept close of note of everything.
“SPG, cease fire!”
— “Cease fire!”
In only a few minutes, the majority of the monsters Jackson had drawn in had been defeated. There was no need to use artillery fire on the numbers that remained. Following the SPG, the grenade launcher also stopped firing. The seemingly endless gunfire gradually subsided and the battlefield calmed down.
— “One minor wound. No serious injury or death.”
Kwang Hwi’s face creased. There should have been no monsters close enough to the barricades, so why was someone hurt?
“Who the hell was injured by an enemy with no ranged weapons?”
— “…I’ll give him additional disciplinary training.”
“Straighten him out! Equipment status check.”
Reports from those in charge of the SPG, machine guns, and grenade launcher came in one by one.
— “SPG, no issues.”
— “Grenade launcher operating normally.”
Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about as everything was going smoothly, except that rookie.
— “Yes, boss!”
“Go out one more time.”
— “…Do I have to go again?”
There were still plenty to kill and they wanted to have more fun.
The streets became cleaner with each passing round. The city was still quiet, but it was certainly different from before. The Keku that would wander around the city had disappeared, as well as the Black Wolves that would search for the survivors with their keen sense of smell. By the fifth cycle, the survivors that had stayed hidden for so long came out one by one. How many times was the operation carried out? Kwang Hwi noticed that there was no need to continue as the area had been pretty much cleaned up.
『All monsters within Dongducheon City have been eliminated.』
『You are the first to acquire a city.』
『You have obtained 300,000 MP as a reward.』
『Rumors of the ‘Kwang-Hwi Faction’ are being spread slowly by word of mouth of the survivors.』
『The ‘Lord’ entities in other regions have acknowledged the existence of the ‘Kwang-Hwi Faction.’』
Kwang Hwi raised his head to look at his men. Everyone acted like they were fine, but their tiredness was evident from their faces. They had definitely worked hard for it as they had been fighting intensely for three days. There were no fatalities or serious injuries, but the physical and mental fatigue had built up due to the long fight.
“Dongducheon City is now in our hands. If we continue eliminating monsters like this, we’ll be able to reclaim our lives. We will once again live as we had back when there were no monsters.”
None of the men thought Kwang Hwi’s words were nonsense. They may have had such thoughts before joining the Kwang-Hwi Faction, but they had experienced fighting back against the monsters several times now. The monsters they had once feared were shot and killed by their own hands. There was no other armed force like them in the world. As their arsenal become larger and more powerful, someday they would be able to drive out the monsters completely.
“Good work, everyone. Let’s go back!”