Chapter 17

“It looks like an angel with wings.”

“It doesn’t seem dangerous. Do you think it’s intelligent?”

“Probably? I don’t know either.”

“We should see what package it has for us. Can you put it down right there?” Biyeon said as she took a few steps towards the Hawk. The Hawk took a couple steps back after seeing her move towards it. Biyeon and San could see that the Hawk was at a loss, shifting its eyes back and forth between the two. San looked at the Hawk’s awkward movements and spoke,

“Oho- this little punk seems to want to make some sort of agreement with us. Is that it?”

“I wonder. It does seem to be quite clever…”

Biyeon scrunched her face while San started to shout.

“We don’t need whatever you brought, so get the hell out of here you piece of shit! You just had to come and make us feel uncomfortable again, didn’t you? Actually, hold on right there, let me give you a beating! I think you’ll make pretty good jerky. Does your species taste good?”

The Hawk seemed to be struck with fear, quickly putting the sack on the ground. It even tried to put on an inviting smile on its face. San and Biyeon chuckled from the Hawk’s comical reaction.

Their cell phones rang at that moment. San’s face hardened as he brought up his wristwatch to view the time.

“It’s… it says it’s 06:00.”

Sender: Nil

Recipient: 27th Summoned / Biyeon Kim

Achievement: Terminated 1 Algon and 12 Alpin

Reward: Leather, Teeth, Oil, Meat, and Bones

Bonus: 1 Bottle of Nectar, 100 Grams of Salt, and 2 Rest Days

Next Assignment: 48 Hours Later

Sender: Null

Recipient: 04th Summoned / San Kang

Achievement: Terminated 3 Algons and 26 Alpin

Reward: Leather, Teeth, Oil, and Meat

Bonus: 1 Bottle of Nectar, 200 Grams of Salt, and 2 Rest Days

Next Assignment: 48 Hours Later

Episode 1. Book 3: Escape - Chapter 1

“At least they’re saying we get to have some rest days. Oh, they’re even giving us some salt, how gracious of these bastards. What the hell is nectar?” San murmured while leaning his back against a wall.

“In Greek mythology, it was the drink of the gods. Based on the writings on the pit wall and what we can infer from the text messages, it seems to be something that helps us become stronger.”

“Do you think it’s safe?”

“Maybe?”

They stopped their conversation as they tried to figure out the meaning behind the nectar.

“What if…” stated Biyeon as she massaged her bandaged fist. Blots and pools of fresh blood could be seen soaking through the bandage. Though her fists still felt numb, Biyeon continued speaking with a pensive expression.

“Captain Kang, if you were operating this training exercise or experiment, what would you want from characters like us?”

“Based on what they’re throwing at us, it seems like they want strong fighters?” he replied.

“Do you think it’s to use us for war? Like gladiators or mercenaries?”

“That seems like the most likely case, right? Doesn’t that explain why we’re getting stronger? They also gave us difficult targets from the beginning. We could have died if we didn’t give it our all. Also, seeing that they have a reward and penalty system in place, I feel like they’re definitely trying to raise us for some type of use later on.”

“So, what should we do now?” she asked while raising her head to look at San.

After the first battle, they continued to contemplate the overall objective and reason for why they were put in this absurd situation. They knew that they needed to survive. However, they now needed to ask themselves ‘How’ they could continue surviving.

“It’s a choice between two options, no? We either accept getting pulled around like slaves or we find a way out of the system. What choice would you make?” retorted San with his head down.

Both knew that they were approaching a split in the road. Based on their decision, their thoughts and actions would follow that defined purpose.

What would happen if they couldn’t reach a defined purpose? Without a defined purpose, their future would be filled with meaningless thoughts and actions.

San thought that his words ‘pulled around like slaves’ were out of a fantasy novel. However, being put in this situation, he didn’t really see any other way of interpreting his predicament. Should he stake his life on the possibility of escape? The other side had the power of a god, holding everything in the palm of its hands. Its power went beyond the conventional understanding of physical laws or science.

It had the ability to bring live flesh and blood to an unknown space. It even had the capability to communicate with them through battery-less cell phones.

That meant that their options were limited. Should they face off against this omnipotent power and face death? What would they be dying for?

If they chose to live as slaves, wouldn’t they be placing their survival on luck? San felt sickened and angered at the thought. Should he just commit suicide? Would they even let him do that? Especially after investing so much on him already? San started to smile.

“There’s no answer. How did my life turn out like this?” he murmured. 

Biyeon felt the same way. She cautiously stated her own thoughts,

“Isn’t the answer already apparent? Captain and I are both military officers, and for military officers like us, every place is a warzone. I’m going to fight until the end, not for a country, but for the sake of my own honor and the honor of being a soldier.”

He looked at her after hearing her words. San broke into a broad smile.

“Pa-ha-ha- Wow… that’s a refreshing answer. That’s right! It would feel better to at least die as a soldier than a lost wayfarer. Alright…! It’ll be cool to live every day as if it’s our last. I really like how you expressed it. Then, what should we do today and tomorrow?”

“First off, I think we should reorganize our supplies. Also…”

She stopped what she was saying and looked straight into his eyes. He saw her shifting her eyes downwards as if trying to lead him towards something without using words. Facing her directly, San brought his eyes downwards towards the place her eyes were hinting at.

Her face became red as she twisted her legs inward. There was a large cut that started from the front of her thigh to her backside, above her butt. It was an area that she couldn’t see properly unless she had a mirror. It wasn’t proper to take off her clothes, so she had just wrapped some bandage around the area to stop the bleeding. Even now, pools of blood could be seen on the haphazardly placed bandages.

“Could you apply some ointment and dress this wound? I’m not able to reach it.”

Her request was made with a hint of something more than just embarrassment. After making her request, she laid on her side and left the rest to San.

The location of her wound was in a tremendously sensitive area. San tilted his head while walking forward. However, he didn’t show any signs of hesitation.

She wet some gauze with disinfectant and handed it over to the approaching San.

“Here you go.”

He received the gauze and took a better look at her backside. Looking at the haphazard dressing in place, he could tell that she wrapped a bunch of tissues and put it on the wound to stop the bleeding. Afterwards, she must have placed a bandage over the tissues to hold everything in place. However, due to this, the blood had coagulated onto the tissues and bandage. 

If he took off the makeshift dressing, the wound would reopen, as he’d be tearing off the scabbing and reopening the wound anew. Regardless, he knew that he had to take immediate action to prevent possible infection.

San made an uncomfortable expression. In order to take off the previous dressing, disinfect the area, and apply new dressing, he needed her to undress her military pants.

He swallowed down hard and shook his head from side to side. He organized his thoughts and focused on the task at hand. He cleared the torn clothing around the wound and cleaned off the surrounding blood.

He spoke in an even voice, “Can you take off your pants?”

Without a word, she pulled her pants down. The wound, which was now fully visible, was much deeper and more serious than expected.

With every wipe of blood, San could see Biyeon’s underwear shifting around. He also saw her soft buttocks and the whiteness of her slim waist. Whenever he cleaned near the wound, Biyeon flinched in pain.

She reached her hands back and softly placed them on San’s thighs. 

“?” He made a confused and perplexed expression.

However, needing to focus on properly applying the gauze, he quickly calmed himself down and concentrated on the task at hand.

The tips of her hands constantly moved about on his thighs. The meaning was readily apparent between the two….

It was quiet in the pit for a long while. Only the sound of their breaths could be heard.

After disinfecting and dressing her wound, he applied the last piece of gauze that she handed over and told her that he was done.

He gave her a finishing pat on her rump and got up. He slowly walked towards the entrance of the pit. The scene outside was already filled with a web of shadows, signaling the beginning of nightfall.

He took a cigarette out and lit it. He looked back towards Biyeon. She also gazed at San. She could tell that the corners of his eyes were slightly wet.

He turned around and started walking outside.

“Yeah, let’s survive no matter what. We’ll be together until the end. And…”

He stopped his steps. After taking a long drag on his cigarette, he exhaled the smoke and continued, “I’m thankful that you’re here with me!”

After leaving these words, he left the area. The sun was setting on the horizon.

“Me, too…” she softly replied, not knowing if San heard her whisper. Wrinkles started to form at the corners of San’s wet eyes.

***

“At least they’re prompt in their actions,” he muttered.

She stood next to him quietly while observing the delivered ‘packages’.

In front of their pit were items carefully placed and organized, probably by the Hawk. There were a few sacks filled with various materials, a good-sized jar, a soju-sized glass bottle with purple liquid, and a heap of leather material. 

There was also a mound of finely sliced meat and dried goods.

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