“Falling like dominoes?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Yes, sir. The demon king army that destroyed Germany is now marching eastward. Both Austria and Poland have already abandoned their countries and their citizens are in a mass evacuation. Meanwhile, a new frontline is being set up near the border area of Ukraine and Romania, sir. But if they fail to defend that, then the enemy will have a clear path to Russia.” (chief of staff)
“…What is Russia doing, then?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“In case the defensive line is broken, we think they will retreat to the east, sir. If the whole of Europe is lost, then even if Russia gives it their all, there still wouldn’t be a way to win.” (chief of staff)
“Also, there are two more spots south of their border to consider, too…” (Song Jeong-Su)
“That is also correct, sir.” (chief of staff)
Song Jeong-Su rubbed his eyes.
Russia was currently surrounded by oceans and spots at the moment. Even if they wanted to extend a begging hand to their neighbours, they had none. Even if you didn’t want to understand their plight, it was hard not to.
‘Even if it was up to me, I wouldn’t be able to lend a support to them.’ (Song Jeong-Su)
Because, his own country’s survival was far more important, after all.
Having a large landmass meant that you now had to defend a far greater territory than other countries.
“Fuu…” (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su groaned deeply in order to change the atmosphere a bit, then opened his mouth.
“The situation is getting worse every day.” (Song Jeong-Su)
The events were unfolding largely as Christopher McLaren had predicted. Actually, the situation was somewhat worse than what he said. So much so that Song Jeong-Su began wondering if humanity would really be able to endure for three months at this rate.
“What about our own defensive line?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Sir, we’re still holding on somehow, but…” (chief of staff)
The army chief of staff blurred the ends of his sentence, before eventually carrying on.
“The American support has been a great strength to us, sir. Not only that, the assistance from the JSDF ground troops has ensured that we don’t have a major problem in terms of combat personnel.” (chief of staff)
“Mm…” (Song Jeong-Su)
“As you know, we did face a serious crisis not too long ago but the artillery support from the battleships and an ICBM support from the Americans helped us overcome that event. To put simply, we do not have any insufficiencies in regards to firepower. However…” (chief of staff)
“Are they any other problems?” (Song Jeong-Su)
The chief of staff sighed at length.
“Our enemies do not get tired, sir.” (Chief of staff)
“As the frontline continues to remain static, resulting losses are mounting up, sir. The biggest contributing factor in this case is that the demonic beasts do not get tired and they don’t care whether it’s the day or night. They rush in without regard to time nor place and assault our troops to no end. If only the whole lot of them rushed in at the same time, then we might have had some kind of a palpable outcome, whether that be us getting annihilated or them getting levelled flat, but… They are just constantly wringing us dry, so…” (chief of staff)
Song Jeong-Su’s complexion darkened.
“So, what is our current situation, then?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“We can safely say that it’s the absolute worst, sir.” (chief of staff)
“Absolute worst…” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Everyone is gradually getting fatigued, sir. We also noticed several shellshock-like symptoms from the combatants as well. We’ve been doing our best to treat them somehow, but as you can guess, it’s not an easy problem to solve.” (chief of staff)
“Mm…” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Currently, the troops have been divided into two groups and they are deployed in alternate turns, but whenever the enemy forces suddenly rush in, we can’t even properly maintain the rotation of personnel, sir. To top it all off, we are now reaching the limit of our reserve stock.” (chief of staff)
“If it’s the issue with the ammunition, then the support from Japan and America will soon arrive, so please wait a little while longer.” (Song Jeong-Su)
“Yes, sir.” (chief of staff)
“Are there any other problems?” (Song Jeong-Su)
The army chief of staff furrowed his brows.
“Sir. There are just too many problems at hand and I must inform you that it’s hard to tell just which one needs to be addressed first. Quite frankly, even I’m at a loss as to where to even begin, sir.” (chief of staff)
“Mmm…” (Song Jeong-Su)
“The biggest issue is with the ability users.” (chief of staff)
“Ability users?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“For now, the situation is more or less tolerable, but their sacrifices had been just too great, sir. They had to pay a hefty price for setting up our defensive line in the wrong place.” (chief of staff)
Song Jeong-Su sighed in regret.
“I apologise. We…” (Song Jeong-Su)
“No, sir. We don’t think that way. If we thought the plan was wrong, then we wouldn’t have quietly followed the orders through. No matter what happened, because we chose to set up our position at the riverside, the enemy is no longer in the position to overrun us in one go, and it’s quite clear to us that the knock-on effect from that decision has become the main reason why we managed to endure until now. However…” (chief of staff)
“However?” (Song Jeong-Su)
“…To try to console ourselves in that way, the losses to the KSF are simply too incalculable, sir.” (chief of staff)
“Hmm…” (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su’s complexion became even graver.
The ability users playing key roles in the military had already become a global trend by now. If the issue at hand was not ‘man vs man’ but ‘man vs regular person’, then the military would’ve seized the initiative, but when it came to fighting monsters, rather than relying on humans…
‘…No, wait. They are also humans.’ (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su hid his face in his hands.
Since when did he start thinking this way?
He was probably the closest to the ability users among all the politicians out there yet someone like him was thinking this way. In that case, the disharmony that the others were feeling, just how much worse could it have been? He didn’t even want to imagine it.
“I better pull myself together.” (Song Jeong-Su)
His fatigue level had gone up recently, and things like this were beginning to slip through the developing cracks.
It wasn’t just the folks in the frontlines trying to withstand the torment. Song Jeong-Su couldn’t remember how long he had been staying up at this point. At least his stamina was better than a young lad in his twenties and that helped him to endure it, but for Yun Yeong-Min, he was literally holding on with nothing but his mental fortitude right now.
‘He sure is an amazing man.’ (Song Jeong-Su)
The one person whose public evaluation had changed the most in the world would have to be Yun Yeong-Min. Who in their right mind would have guessed that a man simply seen as a thoughtless extremist was capable of displaying this much ability in a crisis?
‘But then again, he was originally…’ (Song Jeong-Su)
At least Yun Yeong-Min’s willpower and integrity were something people should learn from. If one wanted to argue about the corruption perception index, then even Song Jeong-Su would have to admit defeat, after all.
“Are you alright, Mister President?” (Song Jeong-Su)
Yun Yeong-Min listening to the report with a tired face took a large gulp of cold water on his table.
“…I have to be alright. How can I not be alright in our current situation?” (Yun Yeong-Min)
“But, Mister President.” (Song Jeong-Su)
At Song Jeong-Su’s worried voice, Yun Yeong-Min simply waved his hand dismissively.
“It’s not yet the right time to whine. You know that too, don’t you?” (Yun Yeong-Min)
Song Jeong-Su nodded in silence.
He was right about that one.
Even as they sat here, the citizens of this country were dying in the frontlines. They shouldn’t be complaining about their fatigue or whatever. Since young people were falling at the hands of the demonic beasts, these old men should be prepared to collapse from overwork, at the very least.
Song Jeong-Su sighed softly and stared at the ceiling.
‘Is it still far away?’ (Song Jeong-Su)
Very little in the world would be as difficult as a battle without an end in sight to a person.
None of them knew when Yi Ji-Hyuk’s group would return. The need to endure, and then endure some more, while believing in some people who may or may not return in time was shaving away at Song Jeong-Su’s mental strength.
‘Come back soon, will you…’ (Song Jeong-Su)
This was no time to pat themselves on the back for enduring for a month. He was completely certain that if one side of the defensive line was breached, then the frontline by the Han river would crumble down in an instant, and it wouldn’t take three days for the enemies to reach the city of Busan.
Their battle was all about whether they could hold the line or not. Not just the fate of Korea, but the entire world rested on that frontline right now.
“How terrifying.” (Song Jeong-Su)
Song Jeong-Su closed his fatigued eyes.
“We aren’t going to get proper food?” (Chang-Sik)
Choi Chang-Sik groaned while listening to the ashen-complexion foreman’s explanation.
“We don’t have any rice reserves?” (Chang-Sik)
“No, it’s not that we don’t have any reserves, but from what I hear, they are having problems with delivering it. Obviously we have plenty of rice stocked away.” (foreman)
Unfortunately, the foreman’s face while saying that didn’t look so good.
‘Are we really running out of food?’ (Chang-Sik)
Choi Chang-Sik’s own complexion darkened.
“I’m telling you, that’s not it. We’ve only lost Seoul so far, right? Seoul doesn’t produce food, so why are you worried about running out of food because we lost that city?” (foreman)
“Well, that’s true…” (Chang-Sik)
“Our country has so much rice reserve that it’s practically rotting away even now. So you don’t have to worry about the shortage of food for the time being.” (foreman)
Choi Chang-Sik nodded slowly. He didn’t know anything, but still, he should just accept it as fact. What choice did he have even if he didn’t want to?
“Does that mean we must starve now?” (Chang-Sik)
“No, we do have our military rations, so take one packet for yourselves.” (foreman)
Choi Chang-Sik scratched the back of his head.
“But that doesn’t taste so good…” (Chang-Sik)
“Be thankful that at least we have something to eat.” (foreman)
“Mm, that’s also true.” (Chang-Sik)
Chang-Sik found it hard to agree along but even he knew that he simply had to agree. Because, the people around him all had this scary glow in their eyes right now.
The moment food supply ran out, the world would instantly devolve into pandemonium. This wasn’t some misguided desire to survive, either – it was fairly obvious what desperate people would do after they were forced to a dead end with the singular thought of ‘if we don’t eat, we will really die’.
“…Do I need to go to a supermarket or something?” (Chang-Sik)
Fortunately, the Korean currency was still accepted. The convenience stores and supermarkets might be having issues securing products, but they did have some stuff to sell, at least.
All thanks to the brave soldiers fighting off the monsters in the frontlines, the rest were able to keep up some semblance of a normal life. Although, no one knew how long this status quo would last.
“Are we really going to be alright?” (Choi)
A dazed voice came from somewhere behind Chang-Sik.
Mister Choi, who had grown a lot more dispirited for the past month or so, dazedly spoke up.
“Won’t we like, just end up dying? Like this?” (Choi)
Chang-Sik sighed deeply.
“Uncle, everyone dies eventually.” (Chang-Sik)
“But, isn’t this a dog’s death?” (Choi)
“How many people in this world do you think will get a chance to have a meaningful death?” (Chang-Sik)
Mister Choi’s dazed eyes shifted up to the heavens above.
“Just how long are we supposed to hold on like this?” (Choi)
“I’m sure it won’t be long.” (Chang-Sik)
“And how do you know that?” (Choi)
Choi Chang-Sik asked as if to say, how can anyone not know?
“Seriously, uncle, don’t you know about the NDF?” (Chang-Sik)
“Which Korean doesn’t know about the NDF? Of course I know.” (Choi)
“And those people have gone somewhere to resolve this crisis, haven’t they?” (Chang-Sik)
“…I thought they ran away from here, though?” (Choi)
“F*cking hell…!” (Chang-Sik)
Chang-Sik exploded in irritation.
“I told you, the dude who took them there doesn’t know what retreat is! He’s too much of a wackjob to run away!” (Chang-Sik)
“Yes, really. So, all we have to do is to endure until they come home. After they do, we will see the outcome for ourselves.” (Chang-Sik)
“…Outcome, is it?” (Choi)
“We’ll see who dies, those monster b*stards or us.” (Chang-Sik)
Chang-Sik unhesitantly spitting out scary-sounding words stretched his limbs grandly.
“We should get going. I guess we might as well eat those military ration things. Can’t work with an empty stomach, after all.” (Chang-Sik)
“The situation is not looking good, sir.”
Christopher McLaren frowned deeply as he studied the map. It was currently displaying the movements of the demon king armies in real time. Seeing that, he could only groan at length.
“Their progress?” (Christopher McLaren)
“About thirty percent…”
“Well, we’re holding on better than I imagined. It’s already been fifty days, yet only around 30%, is it…” (Christopher McLaren)
“Sir, that figure has to do with the surface area. If we look at not the area, but our overall strength, then we…”
“I know already. So, let’s just stop there. I know that you’re one hell of a smart guy, so you don’t have to keep trying to prove that to me. Sometimes I wish you were a dumb*ss, instead.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren cut the tip off his cigar and slowly lit it up.
“Dam*it. Here I was, thinking that I’d be mindlessly busy.” (Christopher McLaren)
Even though the demon king army was wreaking havoc in America, there was only so much he could do. The extent of his job at the moment entailed continuously adjusting the frontlines while retreating, then sneakily relocating combat personnel here and there to ensure that the demon king army didn’t head westward any time soon.
“Still no contact?” (Christopher McLaren)
“God dam*it. If only we received a single contact, a message of some kind, then we wouldn’t be feeling this frustrated… It can’t be that all those idiots have died on the other side? I mean, does it sound logical to you that they hopped over to another dimension to increase their strengths?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Dam*it!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren’s hand holding the cigar was faintly trembling.
No one could imagine just how much pressure he was under right now unless you were him.
“We’ll reach our limit soon” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren glared at the map, and with an anxious face, began biting his nails.
“Our limit…!” (Christopher McLaren)
He suddenly got up from his seat, then strode towards the large map on the wall and fixed his glare on it.
“This is unsustainable. We won’t be able to hold on much longer at this rate. We need to come up with a new strategy.” (Christopher McLaren)
“But sir, what can we even…”
“What are the demon kings doing right now?” (Christopher McLaren)
“Sir, we haven’t detected them making any particular moves.”
“Is that so?” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren furrowed his brows.
The demon kings not showing up ever since the last incident with the nukes certainly gave him some things to mule about.
“In that case, let’s provoke them.” (Christopher McLaren)
“With something powerful and unmissable, too.” (Christopher McLaren)
A grin spread on Christopher McLaren’s face.
< 461. With something powerful and unmissable -1 > Fin.