Chapter 12

While Biyeon rushed to get ready, San leisurely prepared a simple meal inside the pit. Victory in battle was important. However, it was just as important to survive and live well. So, he felt that preserving combat power and maintaining daily health was important.

‘Even if one dies when one dies, one shouldn’t die due to a lack of energy.’

Biyeon, after equipping her battle equipment and outfit, looked outside the pit. She wanted to understand the situation properly first rather than eating. Her legs almost gave way when she looked out through an opening. Blood rushed to her head and her shoulders trembled violently.

The reality and fear of the current situation was incomparable to watching the videos on her mobile phones. A feeling of horror and fear swept over her.

She looked back after feeling a light tap on her shoulder. San was standing behind her with a cool, relaxed expression. He started smiling, making her awkwardly avoid his eyes. However, she felt her trembling calm down surprisingly quickly after this short interaction.

“I've never seen a case where anxiety and fear solve a problem. Let’s fill our stomachs to begin with…”

“Okay.”

The two ate silently. The grits made by San were quite savory and edible. Hot water and fruit were added, so they felt quite full after the meal. Her beating heart and mood calmed down after eating a hearty breakfast. As her fear eased, she was now in a position to think about their predicament and possible countermeasures.

“Now, what should we do?”

“We’ll have to make the first move and take advantage of the situation while we have energy. I’m certain that waiting here won’t provide us with any additional benefit or advantage, right?”

“But how did those things come in? We blocked all the entrances.”

“Maybe there’s a hole in our preparation? Let’s just think about the mission for now. Once we ‘clear’ the mission and survive, we’ll start investigating. If we can’t remove those things from here, we won’t have access to food and rest regardless. Right?”

San held his rifle, equipped with a bayonet, and adjusted his belt to make it easier to pull out his handgun. He then put on his leather repel gloves. Finally, he put on his parachute helmet. He hesitated and paused in thought while keeping his hands on the helmet. Helmets are fine for defensive use, but they may be ineffective for offensive purposes, as it may limit vision and movement. Unfortunately, he had to choose between the two. He took off the bulky helmet and decided to wear his military uniform hat.

“Be sure to wear this helmet. As we discussed yesterday, cover me by following behind me. That’s all you have to do. You have to be vigilant and alert. All of this can turn ugly real quick with one misstep.”

“Yes, I understand.”

“We’ll move and act according to the operation we set out yesterday. We’re going to take it one step at a time.”

“Alright…” Biyeon softly replied.

San suddenly turned his head to look towards Biyeon. His eyes narrowed.

‘Hmm…’ 

He wanted to infuse her with confidence through a few words of advice and encouragement, but he could clearly see that her lips were completely purple from fright. Her hands and feet were shaking again. This is why battle readiness only comes from experience.

San walked out of the pit and stood tall. Biyeon staggered behind. With his gaze still facing forward, San grasped the barrel of his rifle with his left hand and stretched out his right arm. He made a ‘come here’ motion with his right hand. Biyeon approached with a puzzled look.

“Huh-”

He grasped her right shoulder and pulled her towards his body into a hug. She screamed briefly from the sudden movement, as she was briefly lifted off her feet. She could feel his rough breath on her face. She stopped right in front of his lips and held her breath.

His heavy grunt aroused goosebumps all over her body. At the same time, she felt like her consciousness was suddenly returning to her.

“Why?"

“Stay calm. Calm down. There's nothing to shake about… We need to break through anyway, right? Keep this in mind. Under no circumstances shall we die! This first battle is paramount. All we need now is confidence. Do you understand?”

Biyeon raised her eyes and looked straight into his. His eyes were exuding infinite calmness. As she received that ice-like calm gaze, she felt the trembling of her body magically dissipate. He looked into her eyes for a while, still hugging her tightly. She bowed her head from the awkwardness…

“Are you alert now? We’re soldiers. Don’t think of anything else except the battle. Just think about the mission! Some S.O.B. put us into this game, so let’s play along!”

San jumped out of the pit. Biyeon followed.

“A true man doesn’t die twice…” exclaimed San. 

“A true man… huh?” 

***

‘Ki-i-i-i-Kik’

The first target was visible. It was about 70 meters ahead.

As San and Biyeon ran out from the pit, a whistle-like sound rang sharply at the same time. An Algon raised its head after hearing the sound. It looked around, tilting its head back and forth, before finding its target and jumping into action. As soon as one started moving, another three popped out and started running towards San and Biyeon.

“Oh shit! It’s not just two!” screamed San as he took to the ground. 

‘Bang-‘

San’s rifle spewed fire. It was the first gunshot that rang in this world. Its target was a monster reptile called an Algon. With that one shot, one of the heads in the front of the pack burst open. The Algon that had lost its head rained brain matter into the air before its torso fell to the ground. There were 3 left. San calmed his rough breath. The tension he initially felt was relieved after he felt the familiar recoil from the first gunshot.

“Hoo- Fortunately, the bullets work. That’s good news. These things are… terrifyingly fast…”

After checking the enemy’s location, the group of Algons bounded towards San and Biyeon.

‘Bang-’

San calmly retargeted and shot another shot. This time, his bullet hit the body of the one running in front. It wasn’t easy for him to aim and hit the fast-moving targets. Unlike the headshot, the Algon that was hit with the bullet in the torso rushed forward without slowing down.

“Hmm, I guess body shots are not that effective.”

The Algons seemed to know the rules of hunting prey as a pack. One was in the middle while the other two spread out on each side. They were making a three-pronged attack. There were only twenty meters left from the one in front.

‘Bang-’

This time, a bullet hit the rightmost Algon’s leg. After getting hit, the rightmost Algon stumbled and lost its balance. It quickly lost speed and slowed down. San observed that leg shots were somewhat effective. He squeezed the barrel close to his side.

The Algon that arrived first stamped on the ground and rose into the air. It was almost ten meters away. It would make it to San in one big leap.

‘Damn- I have to conserve my bullets, but it’s almost over. You’re dead!”

San raised his body and switched his rifle to a continuous fire mode. He put his abdomen flat on the ground and slightly lifted his chest and shoulders. He clenched his back and pulled the trigger. The Algon had already approached San. It raised both its feet threateningly.

Tu-tu-tu-tu-

Because of its proximity, the Algon was struck by all the bullets. However, due to the inertia of jumping forward, its body collapsed toward San. He struck the ground and rolled his body to the right. With both arms stretched out, he quickly raised his body by striking the butt of his rifle into the ground for leverage. He haggardly released the breadth he was holding in.

At that moment, a sharp sound of wind was heard. San turned his head. The forefoot, swung by the leftmost Algon, swiftly approached San’s shoulders. Its sharp claws swept over San’s shoulder blades, tearing his military uniform. A small chunk of San’s flesh was cleaved off. Red blood scattered in the air. San twisted his body.

Tang-tang-

Two gunshots rang from his side. The shots were fired by Biyeon. 

‘She’s a great soldier-in-arms’, he thought. 

The Algon that tried to continue its attack by raising its forefoot was shot, pausing momentarily. Meanwhile, San continued twisting his body and rolling aside. He clenched his teeth. The Algons were much smarter and faster than he expected.

San tumbled onto his feet and turned around. He grasped his rifle tightly and lowered his leg to prepare for his next move. He assumed the basic attack ready position with his bayonet facing forward. He shortened the space between his legs, pushed his upper body forward, and stood ready with his bayonet.

‘Seu-eup-’

He wet his lips with his tongue. He felt something flowing down from his shoulder. His eyes sank.

Blood…

He finally saw blood. Much was changing. He was now fully engaged in a fighting stance. Realizing the immediate threat to his life, all his senses of combat were awakened and reconstructed. His head perked up upright. His eyes were bloodshot. A hidden instinct awoke within him and rapidly emanated throughout his body. An infectious, animalistic energy, one that is felt and expressed only from those who risked their lives, rushed out.

Before long, a tingling feeling came into his body. He felt his consciousness drift in and out of a haze. However, he could feel his body relax and become calm. It was as if another gear, like the different gears in a car, was engaged. The Algon slowly turned its head towards San. He met the Algon’s yellow, split-eye gaze. It revealed its sharp teeth and tensed its muscles.

San lightly hit the ground with his feet and propelled forward. Moving forward quickly, he crouched downward. The Algon’s sharp eyes tracked San’s movements. The Algon’s movements looked very slow to him right now. He made up enough distance! He swung the butt of his rifle and struck the Algon’s inner chest. The butt squarely struck the Algon’s right snout and bounced off immediately like a rubber ball. The skin of its face fluttered violently. Its large head swung back.

The entire scene progressed slowly for San. It was as if he was watching things unfold in slow motion. The previous blow was apparently effective. The Algon stumbled, staggering to keep itself up with its thick, hind legs. Slowly, it started to lose its balance.

‘Thud-’

San took a step back from the reaction of the blow. He hit the ground again, using the inertia of his turning body to whiplash around and jump into the air. Even though it was a short leap, he rose as tall as a person’s height. Before the Algon, which staggered after being hit, could regain its balance, San slashed diagonally with his bayonet, creating a clean cut into the Algon’s neck.

The cut penetrated the Algon's skin with surprising ease. Then, with the sound flesh tearing apart, the bayonet blade dug deeper into the Algon’s throat, breaking the artery of the neck with ease. The trajectory of the cut made the blade protrude through to the other side of the Algon’s neck, cutting half of the neck clean through and sprinkling blood onto the ground.

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