Chapter 103: New Hong Kong (Part 1)
“Am I finally out of the desert?” someone resembling a vagrant mumbled as she turned her back to look at the wide desert behind her. She was wearing rags and her blonde hair stuck out through the cloth-turban she was wearing on her head to protect herself from the sun.
First Lieutenant Karl, or Charlotte, was just reaching the border of former Kazakhstan from Mongolia and looked quite different from when she escaped from the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. She seemed to have thrown away her military uniform somewhere and was wearing rags with dirt on her face.
If she was out of Mongolia, it would be safe to assume that she had just narrowly escaped the Central Asian Army’s territory. She was now standing in the middle of Asia, continuing her long journey to Moscow.
The desert was uninhabited, and the fights and battles with the giant beasts who lived in that uninhabited land had been slowing her down.
As evidence of the battles, there were bodies of large and small monsters sprawled along the desert road that she had been taking. More than anything else, if she were to meet the Desert Specter, she would have no choice but to run away as she had no way to deal with it.
As expected, there were no villages in the uninhabited land, and the Fortress under control of Central Command was still a long ways away, so reinforcement was unlikely.
Charlotte had never felt like the world belonged to the monsters more than she did now. She didn’t care about the Wargraves, but she was desperate to defeat the numerous monsters on her path and move forward. Confronting monsters that she had never heard of or seen before was a common occurrence, and she would often get caught off-guard by them.
As she headed back to Moscow, Charlotte was gradually learning the laws of survival without even realizing it.
Then, as if to test the wanderer for one last time before she left the desert, a giant scorpion, as tall as seven meters, appeared.
The scorpion roared and shook its eerie giant claws and tail from side-to-side. Charlotte clenched her teeth and pulled out a light laser rifle. Having been overused, the weapon was close to breaking down at any moment.
Avoiding the scorpion, Charlotte fired her rifle.
The area she struck was red, but the scorpion’s hard upper body did not break. With gritted teeth, Charlotte rolled on the ground and stepped back to avoid the scorpion’s attack. Exhaustion and pain filled her eyes.
The monsters were the masters of the world. She hadn’t known that. The world was too dangerous for anyone to survive alone.
‘Have you been living in this world for two hundred years? How the heck?’ the thought repeatedly crossed her mind as she fired the laser at the scorpion’s joints, which were its weakest parts.
How did he manage to live in this world for that long?
Only after she had landed five laser shots, did the giant scorpion’s claws fall, causing dust to rise up.
But the scorpion’s tail wrapped itself around Charlotte’s tired body and flung her in the air. She landed far away, rolling as she did.
‘ What are the mega frame and giga frame?’
‘What do they mean by highly-skilled monsters appearing at MCPs and that highly-skilled monsters are more dangerous than monsters on the outside?’
The Wargraves knew nothing about the outside.
The world was still full of dangerous monsters.
Charlotte was at her limit because she couldn’t lie down and rest. Rather than the short, explosive battles, the long marathon of battles that had pushed her to her limit were exhausting her.
Charlotte raised herself, forcing herself to remain conscious. Even her shoes were worn out, and her white, bare feet could be seen through them. Dressed like a vagrant, Charlotte was struggling on her return journey.
There was still a lot of uninhabited land to cross, and there would be more monsters. She didn’t think it would be too difficult, but she wasn’t sure if she would stay alive to reach Moscow.
The L-20, converted into a laser saber, flashed across the scorpion’s heavy tail.
“I have to go back!”
Death wasn’t an option for her. So, Charlotte, with her red eyes, swung her sword out of desperation.
On the lonely, exhausting journey back, the burning sun was shining on Charlotte.
Because there were many big cities with large populations in the former China region, there were many MCPs, and as a result, many Wargrave Fortresses.
That was why it was not difficult to re-provision at a Fortress by using Ramphil’s executive post.
However, Zin was adamant about not making a stop at the Fortress.
The area was under the control of Wargrave’s Central Asian Army. Last time, they had to stop by to repair their armored vehicle, but now, every time they entered a Fortress, Wargrave would try to persuade Ramphil to join them.
It was clear that they would tell him to forget the White Witch and return to help the war effort or to take on another mission.
“Well, it’s your choice, but from now on, every time you go to a Fortress, they’ll bother you.”
The last Fortress’ Warlord had still respected Ramphil’s opinion, but there was no telling what other Warlords would be like. The Central Asian Army had already suffered great damage from the destruction of its northern defenses on the Korean Peninsula. They definitely needed reinforcements, and the government was in a position to persuade Ramphil, the strongest soldier, to remain an ally.
Of course, things could have been different in the past, but now, Ramphil agreed with Zin.
“I think it’ll be better to do what you said.”
Ramphil already had a grudge against Wargrave’s Central Asian Army, responsible for creating the White Witch.
Ramphil’s identity as a Wargrave soldier was starting to fade away. As such, Ramphil had become somewhat sensitive to such moral aspects after regaining his childhood memories.
It wasn’t that he was going to stick with headquarters, but he felt that his mission was to hunt the witch.
He had not thought about what to do next.
The Group’s power would have been strengthened by then, and there would be no stopping SoSeoLan with Cho-yul at her side. In addition, she would’ve absorbed the Heavenly Castle’s knowledge on sorcery, so it would be safe to assume that the whole area of the Great Wall and the area north of that would be the Group’s.
Currently, Zin’s team was heading to the BH near southwestern Asia, but they were now on their way to southern China and were taking a break midway.
“Hold your breath… OK. In that state, carefully aim at the target and pull the trigger slowly. Slowly.”
Leona sighed with the sound of the ball. There were already beads of sweat on her forehead.
“I can’t tell because I’m not really shooting.”
Leona was being trained to aim and shoot under Zin’s leadership. Holding one’s breath and pulling the trigger after aiming at the target seemed simple, but it was natural to feel tired when she had been shooting lying down, sitting down and standing up.
In his spare time, Zin had been teaching Leona how to handle firearms like that. He was not a good teacher, but he was a meticulous one, and even Leona took the lessons seriously.
“It would be better to use live ammunition, but we can’t do anything about that because we don’t have enough bullets.”
“I know, but…”
When the enemy was in close proximity, just pointing was enough to hit the target, but for hunters, hitting the target from a long distance was the most important. Zin had been trying to groom Leona into a serious hunter since leaving Harbin Fortress.
And, in fact, Leona had actually used a gun to defeat an enemy in the Battle of Shane. She needed time to develop her skills, but she already possessed the most important qualities of a person who needed to engage in battles for a living: composure, audaciousness, and discernment.
Those were important enough qualities to be considered as essential in combat, and they were not a matter of training, but, in fact, a matter of talent.
Leona already had those abilities. What Leona had was something that only came after a fair amount of actual experience. She just needed to learn how to shoot and the technical aspects of combat and fighting.
There was no question that she would be an excellent hunter after training because she already had the most necessary qualities. Leona was already doing her part when it was necessary.
That was why Zin was teaching her the most basic elements.
Of course, Ramphil also had a thing or two to teach Leona and, in reality, no one could match Ramphil’s skills in close combat. Therefore, Leona, who was very motivated, asked Ramphil for advice on this and that.
After practicing aiming and shooting, Zin said it was enough, and Leona asked Ramphil about close combat.
Ramphil was not too stingy about sharing his knowledge.
“Well, let’s suppose there’s an enemy over there.”
“Then, you’re going to come up like this and…”
He rushed at an incredible speed, grabbed the enemy from behind and took him down.
“… This is how you do it.”
Thinking that it wasn’t even worth it, Leona grinned rather than become angry.
“Nevermind. Get out of here.”
Ramphil should’ve shown her something a human could do, but he was a bad teacher because he seemed to think that anyone could do what he could.
“What the heck? You asked me to teach you,” said Ramphil with a shrug.
“You didn’t teach me anything. Rather, it seems like you’ve learned something useless from me,” Leona retorted. Ramphil’s words and actions were changing gradually as he spent time with her. He was learning Leona’s foul language.
“If I could teleport like that, would I have asked you in the first place?”
“I could do that even before I had the frame procedure.”
“Am I the same as you?!” Leona grumbled with a sad face at Ramphil’s words.
“He’s not a human being. Don’t think about learning anything from him.”
In the first place, their standards for common sense were different, so teaching someone was impossible for Ramphil. A man would die if his vital parts were stabbed, and a human could kill a man by stabbing vital parts, so he couldn’t be rebuked.
He was only sharing what he could do anyway.
“Hey, hunter, I believe I’m the only human here,” Ramphil said with a sullen look, thinking Zin had mentioned his past as a slave.
“Actually, you’re right,” Leona nodded as if she agreed after thinking about it. Leona was a witch, and Zin had recently admitted that he was a devil.
However, Zin laughed it off like he was speaking nonsense.
“You’re not a human being because you’re a cyborg with metal in your bones.”
“Isn’t that true?” Leona looked at Zin, Ramphil, and herself and laughed as if dumbfounded. “Now that I think about it, none of us is normal,” she said and burst into a sad laugh.
Cho-yul, who had traveled with them until recently, was the only pure human being.
“It doesn’t do us any good to bite each other’s head off. Let’s stop.”
Zin grinned bitterly, and everyone nodded as if sympathetic. Now that they
had finished eating, it was time for them to start on their journey again.
“How long is it to New Hong Kong?”
“At this rate, I think it’ll be two weeks,” Ramphil answered to Zin’s question.
Currently, they were on their way to Shanghai. Obviously, it wasn’t the best time to go there. Their chosen destination was the place where they could hunt the most powerful monster in the BH.
And that wasn’t so easy to do. There was a lot of work to do in preparation for the hunt, and there was the hunt itself.
There were only three big cities left in the world, and one of them was in Shanghai, in the south. They were heading for the land of money and pleasure, where a little bit of the life before the collapse was being maintained.
Its location was Shanghai, but for some strange reason, people called it New Hong Kong.
Having heard about the place from Zin, Leona was excited and couldn’t wait to get there.
“What are we going to do there?”
However, Zin had not spoken about what they were going to do in the megalopolis yet.
“There is a Hunter’s Nest there. Since it’s in a big city, it’s bigger than the others.”
There was no better place than the nest to look for the professional equipment needed by the hunters, and there were usually large-scale Hunter’s Nest in megalopolises.
“It’s a community of hunters.”
It was a place for hunters to get the goods and information they needed, and it was also a place for them to rest in safety. Many hunters used nests as their bases, though not Zin.
“So there must be a lot of hunters there, right?”
Leona was looking at Zin with twinkling eyes. She had already been plenty excited, but it seemed like her excitement was growing even larger. “I’m curious about hunters other than you.”
“They are not much different, really. To each their own. Now, let’s get on the road.”
They headed for one of the world’s only three megalopolises.
The Shanghai area was where the megalopolis was for most people, but to a Wargrave, it was different. It was also the location of the Wargrave’s Central Asian Army Headquarters.
Zin was heading there to make a stop at the nest. However, Ramphil could not erase the feeling that he was heading toward the center of a dark government that created the devils.
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
Ramphil hoped that the visit would end with just a simple stop at the nest.