Chapter 13

San then stepped on the Algon’s shoulder and climbed atop its stunned body. He swung his bayonet and swept the other side of its neck. The Algon gradually collapsed with its severed neck hanging from its torso. Although it collapsed, it swung its front paws, but the target was no longer there.

The head was cleanly cut from the torso, causing a gush of blood to rise into the air from the broken artery. Purple blood. San leaned to the side to hastily avoid the gush of blood, but the blood splattered all over his face and clothes. The purple blood reeked of fishiness, and San momentarily felt his mind fall into a haze.

“Ow- my eyes…”

San grabbed his eyes and knelt down. Biyeon ran towards him immediately. She held a handkerchief in her hand.

“Quickly!” she shouted. She wiped his eyes with her wet handkerchief.

“Are you okay?” she asked anxiously. Her hands were beginning to shake again. He took her handkerchief and wiped the blood from his eyes. He then raised his head to look at Biyeon.

“Uh- it’s terrible. Thanks to you, It’s better. My left eye is still blurry… I’m also dizzy… It looks like there’s something poisonous in the blood. Wait, isn’t there one more?”

“It’s over there. It’s limping around after getting shot in the legs.”

“Do you think you’ll be able to shoot it?” he asked while wiping the remnants of the blood from his eyes.

“I think so…”

“You have to kill it now! Are you going to just leave it here?”

“…”

Biyeon looked at San. Covered in the Algon’s blood, he had a resolute expression. She nodded. It’s something that had to be done one way or another.

She raised her gun. Her vision became hazy. She rubbed her eyes with her free hand. The severed Algon was still spewing out blood, creating a stifling atmosphere. The smell of fishy, disgusting blood spread everywhere, making it terribly hard to focus. She then saw the torn flesh on his shoulders. Her heart ached.

Her tender sensibility wasn't ready to recognize what happened as true reality. She became nauseous from the sights, smell, and sounds, but she swallowed down on what was inevitably going to come out from her stomach. This was the least she could do in this situation.

She shut her mouth tightly, keeping whatever wanted to come up down, but she couldn’t help her tears from streaming down her face. With tears in her eyes, she got into a stable shooting posture. She put away her handgun and picked up his rifle, targeting an Algon's head.

She could see a blurred head, due to her tears, through the rifle’s scope. Now all she had to do was pull the trigger. It turned its head and stared straight at her. She put strength into her fingers.

‘Bang-’

The Algon's head exploded from 50 meters away. This ended his mission.

‘Wook-wook-’ Everything she ate in the morning started coming out.

Biyeon turned to the side and laid down. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hands and then raised her trembling hands over her eyes, where tears were pouring out. Through her fingers, she could faintly see a clear, blue morning sky.

“Good job. Really good job,” muttered San as he hunched down next to her.

Cigarette smoke wafted around his hands before scattering in the wind.

Episode 1. Book 2: Unravelling – Chapter 7

“Have you calmed down?” he asked.

“Yes… somewhat…” she replied. Her voice was split, making her speech ring in both of their ears.

“Get up. The mission isn’t finished yet. When you have the time, you need to quickly prepare for what’s next. Let's finish off your Alpins and take a break.”

San brushed his hands on his upper legs and rose.

“Yes,” she replied. She also got up.

“I’ll have to wash up. Can you stand on lookout?”

“Okay.”

San and Biyeon were cautiously looking at their surroundings while proceeding to a stream. He wiped his eyes under the running water. Afterwards, he washed away the blood that had caked on his body and then washed the wound on his shoulders. The wound was not very deep, but it must be thoroughly cleaned to avoid infection. He cleaned off his bayonet blade and washed his blood covered gloves. Biyeon also washed the vomit, sweat, and tears off her face. Once washed, the two returned to the pit, considering it the safest place at the moment.

“This…” he tapped her shoulder. She turned around and saw a packet drink, a high-caloric military ration that combined high protein starch and milk. Though small, it was a very reliable food source to replenish energy.

“Thank you.” She took the ration and started eating it right away.

San subtly looked at her appearance with a sense of camaraderie. She was much more useful in the battlefield than he thought. She knew what was needed and prioritized those actions in the field. She didn’t act like a spoiled person nor did she decline what was necessary for her. Above all, he didn’t have to worry about wasting any mental power through useless emotional considerations and arguments. In his mind, this could possibly be the best pairing under the circumstances.

“Chew it for a long time and then swallow it. You’re eating on an empty stomach, so you have to be careful about not getting diarrhea later."

“What?”

Biyeon eyes opened wide as she looked at San. San looked elsewhere. There was a light smile on his face.

He squatted down in place and applied some military-grade field ointment, which was effective for open wounds, on his shoulders and attached a large band-aid. Timeliness in treating these types of open wounds was very important. If one were to miss the disinfection period, the wound could quickly deteriorate, making it magnitudes more difficult to deal with in the future. Furthermore, he didn’t know what kind of bacteria was present in this area.

After eating, he checked his weapons. When he checked the rifle magazine, there were about half of the bullets left. He still had four full magazines left, so even if he shot in the single fire mode, he would be limited to 120 rounds. He had 10 magazines left for his handgun, but he shouldn’t consider using that now.

San reattached the bayonet blade on the end of his rifle and tilted his head.

“That’s weird. Can the blade be damaged so much from a single blow? It looks more like a saw than a blade now.”

“Perhaps it’s because you’ve gotten stronger,” Biyeon commented while maintaining her own equipment from the side.

“You were really fast when you were fighting. You also jumped really high.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. The Algon seemed like it was standing still. It seemed like you were the only one moving. It was as if you went into a higher, faster gear. Your movements suddenly accelerated, as if you were a cheat-like main character in a manga.”

“Acceleration… That’s what it felt like in the moment, too. After being hit on the shoulder, my mind became clear. It was similar to when I first fought against some neighborhood gangsters who had switchblades. The world slowed down and gave me a thrilling feeling of being in total control. I thought it was just my mood and clarity at the moment, but it was real, right?” 

“In the end, not just your strength, but everything, including your mind, became accelerated,” Biyeon conjectured while looking at San.

“In addition, once I used more power, the level of acceleration increased, right? If we can bear the pain, our chances of survival will be very high… Maybe there’s an even higher step of acceleration?”

“I guess we have to get used to wielding that power.”

“Yeah, once we run out of bullets, we’ll need to resolve our problems with our body. The problem is that we need to get used to this new power and speed quickly. Okay, I think I’m starting to see a little bit of hope.”

"So, can you try accelerating again?” Biyeon asked quietly.

“Huh? Um…”

San tilted his head to the side.

“Actually, uh… I don’t know how to bring it out.”

His eyes met hers. The two nodded. Again, their reasoning and judgment was converging together. To increase the likelihood of their survival, they needed to understand and control this newfound ‘Acceleration’ skill.

San sat in the pit and made every attempt to accelerate his body. He groaned for a while, trying to revive the feelings that he had during the previous battle. Biyeon was also trying all kinds of ways to accelerate. She tried to concentrate her mind to the extreme, pull out additional strength by clenching her fists, and regulated her breathing to different levels.

“I think I know how this works a little better now,” muttered San.

“Is that so? I’m still…” 

“Let’s go outside the pit for a minute.”

The two stood in a small vacant area outside the pit. They looked around, but there was no sign of any imminent attack. It was a bit annoying to see the Algon corpses scattered around, but nothing else seemed out of place.

San got into a squat position and stopped breathing, dropping both hands down his side. He quickly pulled both hands above his head. With both hands fully raised, he gradually lowered them. There wasn't much change on his first attempt. He tilts his head in thought for a moment before repeating the action again. On his third attempt, there was a drastic change. While moving his hands back down, his arms stopped abruptly midway. His body shivered, which clearly translated into his facial expression.

Pang-Pang-Pang-Pang-

He started kicking. The speed was incredible! The air compressed around his kicks, making popping sounds. He then took a deep breath. He seemed to have returned back to his original state.

“It’s still a little awkward, but I think I’ve recognized the path toward the first acceleration. Lieutenant Kim, give it a try!”

She took the same stance that she observed him in and rapidly compressed her body and cleared her mind. She then relaxed her body slowly from the initial tense state. In the process, she carefully monitored the changes in her body condition.

Biyeon was able to find the key very easily. It was the process of finding a form of resonance. In a certain cycle, in a certain breath, in a moment, the pent-up tension is relaxed, allowing one’s body and mind to resonate and bring forth focused strength.

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