Chapter 18

The Hawk was cautiously observing the two while staying nearby. It was as if it wanted to be praised. It didn’t look like it would be leaving anytime soon.

Biyeon gave the Hawk a smile before gathering the delivered supplies with San.

Weirdly, San didn’t feel threatened by the Hawk’s presence. The Hawk either had a charming nature or some other hidden power that made it approachable.

The Hawk followed Biyeon around, probably thinking that she was easier to approach than San.

“We got these after putting our lives on the line, so we’ll use these supplies well. Thanks Mr. Hawk!”

The Hawk tilted its head to the side. It made a puzzled expression. Biyeon picked up the expensive and important looking glass bottle with the purple liquid.

“Is this nectar?”

The Hawk nodded.

“It has the same name as the fantastical, mystical drink in Greek mythology. I wonder how it tastes?”

After making her comment, Biyeon was able to catch a sudden change in the Hawk’s eyes. Its eyes conveyed a greedy desire while its mouth slightly opened, revealing its sharp incisors. 

She lifted the jar that carried a whitish substance.

“Salt?”

The Hawk answered her question with an affirmative nod. However, its expression suddenly became dark. It tilted its head and looked away. Biyeon looked over at San. Their eyes strangely met.

***

It started raining early the next morning. A thunderstorm and high winds accompanied the pouring rain. While reinforcing the pit, San saw the Hawk. It was underneath a tree, drying its wet feathers and body. It was staring at San.

San tilted his head in thought for a moment before picking a tree that he had already dug into to store firewood. Large trees that had root structures shooting above the ground were great shelters for animals. Beneath the tree, he started digging a little deeper into the groove between the roots. He flattened the surface and laid down some trimmed branches. On top of the branches, he laid down a layer of leaves. 

The Hawk inquisitively watched San as he worked. In a short time, San had made a smaller version of the pit. He used some firewood to build a makeshift roof. Once finished, he looked toward the Hawk and smiled.

“Stay here from now on. Why do you live so pathetically?”

He wiped his hands before walking into the pit. The Hawk kept his eyes on San until he disappeared.

Throughout the morning, San gathered dry wood to make a fire. While he was making the fire, Biyeon prepared to make breakfast.

“Oh no-” she cried out. She had slipped on the floor. 

“Oh my- watch out! Be careful. Huh? Did you spill all the salt on the muddied ground?”

“The salt… we probably can’t eat it anymore.”

She scratched her head with an apologetic look. The salt had already melted into the muddied ground.

“How did you make such a mistake? Ah! Don’t just sit there! Let’s gather the mud and try to extract the salt from it. Shouldn’t we at least try to dry out the mud and save some of the salt? Dang it! How did this accident happen? You’re not a little kid.”

Huffing and puffing, he urgently ran out of the pit with his field shovel. He dug into the ground and started gathering the mud into a canteen. Afterwards, he looked at Biyeon.

His eyes were full of concern, a concern that stemmed from wanting to resolve her accident. He wanted to portray a resentful emotion from having lost something precious…

However, both of their mouths were slightly curved upwards. Since they didn’t know what intent the providers of these supplies had, they needed to test the foodstuff out. They had no thought of becoming puppets.

Episode 1. Book 3: Escape – Chapter 2

Though they were in an undesirable situation, eating a meal was still an enjoyable event. Even though they received a fairly large amount of supplies, their meal was sparse.

They chose to only eat the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that they had gathered, grinding the ingredients into a gruel. The foodstuff that they received from the Hawk, meat and dried goods, was left untouched in the corner of the pit.

“It’s savory in its own way, but I still can’t get used to it. I really miss salt. I’d call this place heaven if someone could bring us kimchi. Damn,” muttered San.

“I’m sorry,” Biyeon weakly replied. 

Though she apologized, her eyes didn’t show a hint of being sorry.

They had given the Hawk a few pieces of meat from a dead Alpin, which were scattered all around the area. Though the Hawk looked angelic outwardly, it possessed sharp incisors. As they expected, the Hawk ate the Alpin meat well.

San felt weird when he watched the Hawk eat. Its incisors were longer and sharper than he expected. The way that it tore into the Alpin meat and sucked up all the blood reminded him of vampires from popular film.

Using an undershirt, San filtered out the water from the canteen that contained the muddy salt-water. He transferred the water into another canteen and refilled the original, mud containing canteen with more water. He repeated the process until he felt the dirt was contained within the original canteen. He then put the saltwater filled canteen onto a fire to boil out the water. If the process worked as expected, the only thing left would be salt. They were hoping to take out any other foreign substances that may be present within the salt.

After finishing their meal, they split up to do their own tasks. Biyeon walked towards her sleeping bag and took out a small box. The box was the size of a small paperback book. Inside was a folded, yellowish paper wrapped in waterproof plastic. On the piece of paper were letters and numbers that completely filled the paper. It was a card that Captain Kang also possessed, a phonetic-based coding and deciphering card.

She went outside the pit and leaned on a large tree. She unfolded a small piece of paper that was hidden inside her palm.

It was a note that San had given her earlier that morning. The piece of paper was filled with a jumble of letters and numbers. After memorizing the sequence of the numbers and letters, she erased the writing on the piece of paper with an eraser. They needed to conserve paper.

She then took out the coding card and stared at it for a while. Afterwards, she folded the coding card and put it in her shoulder pocket.

With an emotionless expression, she looked up at the sky. The late morning sky was sunny, clear, and bright. She squinted her eyes and softly smiled. She lifted herself up by pushing off the tree with her bandaged hands.

She took a deep breath. She felt a little better. The wounds on her thigh and butt healed at an astonishing speed. However, she could still feel something foreign on her lips, tongue, and lower abdomen area. Also, her body was hot. She felt hot and stuffy…

When she sucked the poison out of his back yesterday, some of the Alpin’s poison went into her system, leaving her with this uncomfortable side-effect.

She heard him calling for her inside the pit. It seemed that his preparations were complete. They were now ready to conduct their covert operation. The success of the operation relied on San, the only person she could wholeheartedly depend on.

Biyeon put her hand on her eyebrows, shielding her eyes from the sunlight. She silently proclaimed something. Though what she said was soundless, she believed that her silent proclamation would one day become a resoundingly loud resolution. Furthermore, it would one day become an order that ceaselessly persisted in face of any danger. She started walking toward the pit.

‘They don’t know who we are, but we know that we’re ‘soldiers’. We’re guerilla warfare specialized special forces. We won’t give in to the enemy. The war will start soon, as soon as we’re prepared.’

She went into the pit. He had already finished his preparation and was waiting for her. It was time to start their experiment.

She slowly sat down with her lower legs tucked under her. She was only wearing an undershirt on top of her bra. She put on fingerless rappel gloves and bandaged her fists. He handed her a bundle of cloth material. She put the material into her mouth and bit down hard.

She leaned slightly forward with both arms stretched out on the ground in front of her. She had one hand open with the palm facing the ground while the other hand was balled into a fist with knuckles down on the ground.

Biyeon closed her eyes. A moment later, she felt a sharp, painful tingle on her left shoulder. Something cold was flowing into her forearm. She clenched her fist harder to bring up her strength. Her body started tingling all over.

She started the first stage of acceleration.

The poison rapidly spread from her veins and blood. The poison concoction that was injected into her was part Alpin toxin and part nectar. Only a small amount of nectar was used.

Her eyes started relaxing. Her vision became blurry and hazy, as if she was drunk. She felt scratchy all over, like someone had scratched her from head to toe.

Her body felt energized. The sticky fluid-like substance revolving inside her made her body tense up. She felt a sense of drowsiness but also a sense of bodily lightness.

“Heup-”

The spread of the poison started. She felt as if a long needle was inserted into her fingertips. A pain like no other followed. The second stage of acceleration started. Her eyes were bloodshot, making them almost completely red. 

The veins on her neck started popping out and pulsing. Her jaw started trembling as the frenetic energy rushed up into her head.

She felt the sensation of things popping inside her head. It was as if she crossed a physical threshold that her body had never crossed before.

“Ke-euk”

It felt as if someone was digging into her head. Her body was already going through various stages of hell, burning her up from within. The acceleration started kicking in harder.

Though the amount of poison was small, it swiftly and powerfully spread throughout her body. She couldn’t tell if the nectar had any effect. This whole experiment was to find out the effect of this nectar substance.

If he could do it, she could do it as well.

The acceleration skill clashed against the poison and was now at a standstill. It was a war between her inner-being, which was trying to awaken through acceleration, and the dominating will and power of the poison. 

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