Dead End Chapter 24

Dead End Chapter 24

Chapter 024

Mysterious assailants kicked in the wooden door and immediately began firing their guns. Tatatatata! The way they sprayed bullets, seemingly without a care for conserving ammo, sent a chill down Son Taehwan’s spine.

It was a scene that left no doubt in anyone’s eyes that these people were not here to rescue survivors. They spoke in an incomprehensible language among themselves, neither looking for any rescuers nor preparing to transport the injured.

Complete annihilation.

Both people naturally recalled the conversation they had shared earlier.

“Those bastards… Are they saying we should all die because they’re afraid of infection?”

This was truly a scene that did not belong in Antarctica.

Just a while ago, there had been an end-of-year party combined with a Christmas celebration. Back then, everyone in the world had discarded their old grudges and celebrated joyously together.

The British had poured drinks for Argentine scientists, and race or religion did not matter as they joyfully welcomed the New Year. But now, Antarctica was a place where rescue teams were slaughtering survivors.

Whoever had given the command to the gun-wielding people, their intent to deal with the survivors was clear.

The cost and social stability.

Just as Son Taehwan had speculated earlier, dealing with the infected would require tremendous expenses, and social stability would be thoroughly shattered. Sacrificing the few for the sake of the many could, to some extent, rationalize this action.

Moreover, since this was King George Island, covering up the aftermath would be easy. Excuses such as death due to extreme cold, or people being treated, could bury the incident that had taken place in Antarctica.

After all, the combined total of all the national wintering expedition teams on King George Island didn’t surpass 200 people. Of course, if all the bases on the mainland continent of Antarctica were included, the number would be greater, but compared to the entire world population, it was still insignificant.

And with nowhere to run, how easy could it be?

“Those sons of bitches. We can’t die easy.”

Son Taehwan spotted people coming out of the wooden building. They moved in a tactical formation, and if they wished to escape from King George Island, they would have to confront these people. It was only a matter of time before the assailants heard the generator humming in the metal building.

However, among the weapons that Son Taehwan and Han Sujin had, there was nothing that could counter guns. Son Taehwan needed time to think, even a little. Now, those people would leave the wooden building and head towards the metal building right in front of it.

Turning his thoughts quickly, Son Taehwan darted towards the first floor and whispered to Han Sujin.

“Keep watch here. If they lay a hand on the doorknob, bang on the wall. There’s no other way. Do whatever it takes.”

“Senior, what exactly are you planning to do?”

“Buying time. Otherwise, we’re dead.”

He ruffled Han Sujin’s hair and ran towards where the distribution board was located. He muttered like a madman, checking the labels on the distribution board.

“Research building, research building… Glacier research building! Upper atmosphere research building!”

Those research buildings were located on the outermost part of the Sejong Base. Son Taehwan flipped the electrical switches for the two adjoining research buildings on the distribution board. They contained 24-hour operational measuring equipment, and from the outside, one could faintly see some lights on.

Then, Son Taehwan turned on the radio again and spoke urgently, with a sly smile now on his face.

“This is Twix Zero One! Can anyone hear me?”

He waited, grinning slyly, for a response on the radio. Sure enough, a crackling signal began coming in. As soon as she heard the radio noise, Han Sujin looked out the window, saw someone with a radio, and then hurriedly glanced in the direction Son Taehwan had gone. The enigmatic transmission from yesterday was sent by these people.

“Are you okay? Twix Zero One?”

“Yes, we’re still alive! And we need help!”

“Where are you?”

“In a pair of research buildings on the outskirts of the base! We’re shaking here! There are no zombies!”

“On the outskirts of the base?”

“We just turned on the lights. You should be able to see it!”

“Understood. We’ll be there in minutes.”

Son Taehwan craftily tricked them into thinking there were survivors hiding in the outlying research buildings, avoiding the zombies.

Considering the distance to the atmospheric and glacier research buildings was well over 100 meters, and these people would proceed with a manual search as per urban combat procedures, it would take them a while. Son Taehwan swallowed hard, hoping they would take the bait.

While they talked among themselves, one of them walked towards where the snowmobile they came in on was parked, and the other seemed to curse at the first one.

Son Taehwan returned to the second floor and kept watch on them through a mirror.

“They don’t want to leave anyone alone, huh? Like you.”

“Senior, shhh. You were the one telling me to keep quiet just now.”

While they quite literally back and forth, the two men vanished with the flash of their lights. Son Taehwan sighed in relief upon seeing this.

“Senior, what exactly did you tell them?”

“I told them we turned on the lights and were hiding in the research buildings. Anyway, we’ve bought some time.”

“But what can we do with that time?”

“There’s a lot we can do. For starters, we could run away.”

Son Taehwan intently stared at the snowmobile they had brought inside.

With the time they had bought, they could escape on the snowmobile. He had preemptively siphoned a full container of fuel the day before, just in case, and it seemed possible to reach another base.

“Should we just escape on the snowmobile?”

“But…”

“We need to make a decision quickly. The ‘enemy’ is also on the move.”

Son Taehwan firmly identified the other side as the enemy. Han Sujin likewise understood why he used the term “enemy.”

She avoided an immediate response and looked out the window at the weather. It was difficult to say if the weather was good or bad; it was rather ambiguous. But with the blizzard subsiding, perhaps they could escape after all. From here to the German or Peruvian bases was about 7–8 kilometers, which means they could reach safety after about an hour’s ride.

“The blizzard is dying down, so we could make a run for it. But, senior… can we really survive even if we run?”

“What do you mean?”

“The weather and there could be obstacles.”

Han Sujin somberly continued while watching the fading footprints vanish.

“Is it really just those two men who brought guns to this place?”

“…”

Son Taehwan was rendered speechless. He hadn’t considered the possibility that there were others besides the gunmen.

Are there others? Also armed with guns?

“It’s just my guess, but I don’t think those two with guns are the only ones who came here. Senior, you mentioned simultaneous explosions at two bases, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Then, shouldn’t we assume that those explosions are also related to those people?”

Chills ran through Son Taehwan. Although there was a slight time difference, the sounds of explosions and the pillars of fire had occurred at almost the same time. It couldn’t have been a coincidence.

‘They were also equipped with rifles and proper military gear.’

While civilians could have automatic rifles, the guns they were carrying looked unmistakably like military equipment. Recalling their tactical backpacks and the gear on their snow camouflage suits, Son Taehwan concluded they were either military personnel or part of a paramilitary organization.

Would such well-equipped individuals be dispatched all alone? It didn’t add up.

Moreover, Son Taehwan revisited the standard response to an epidemic in his mind.

Isolation and incineration.

Fortunately, King George Island’s geographical isolation as an island made it completely cut off. The weapons potentially available to the dispatched scientists were limited to harpoons or tranquilizer bolt-action rifles at best.

The two base explosions. That wasn’t an accident ’caused by’ zombies but rather an incineration action ‘staged in response to’ zombies.

‘It’s a complete cull.’

Scenes where livestock infected with foot-and-mouth disease or avian flu was culled flashed through Son Taehwan’s mind. People carelessly threw the animals into a deep pit, and the animals writhed in the pit in a struggle for life. Regardless of their will to live, humans covered them with dirt and returned to their ‘peaceful routine.’

“We are just lying at the bottom of a culling pit.”

“Culling…”

“They’re not seeing us as humans. They treat us as mere animals that need to be killed, which is why they shoot indiscriminately.”

Son Taehwan felt a biting anger. This couldn’t be allowed to happen. Although in his opinion, the evaporating black blood was certainly an extremely dangerous contagion source, that doesn’t mean that survivors like them deserved to be treated as less than human livestock.

He envisioned himself or Han Sujin being shot with an automatic rifle and falling into a pit. This was a battle for survival, and both of them could no longer retreat.

Suddenly, Son Taehwan grabbed Han Sujin’s hand and clenched his teeth.

“Let me ask you one thing.”

“Senior…”

“Is this really what humans should do? No matter the emergency, shouldn’t people be killing each other like this? Is this situation making any sense?”

“…”

Son Taehwan wasn’t speaking from some deep humanitarianism or philosophy. It was simply a sense that this just wasn’t right.

They were still alive in this harsh Antarctic environment, and they remembered yesterday’s desperate struggle for survival. They couldn’t just die for no good reason, shot by a gun.

Son Taehwan looked at the weapons they had: a harpoon with a knife attached, a broken kitchen knife, a chainsaw, etc. These were formidable armaments against zombies, but completely meaningless in front of an automatic rifle. As an officer in the Republic of Korea Air Force, he knew from experience how terrifying a rifle could be.

Looking at their own weapons, he stared again into the dim machine building.

“The odds of winning… damn it, it’s pointless to even consider.”

A direct confrontation was a losing battle. Even if they had a bow, it might have been different, but fighting someone with a gun on the snowy field was suicidal.

The option of fleeing naturally disappeared from Son Taehwan’s mind. To survive and procure a rubber boat, they had to head west, which meant an inevitable collision with those people.

In addition, he and Han Sujin were utterly lacking information. They had no idea what had happened or why such an event had occurred. Every option was risky and dangerous.

“In the end, we only have one choice.”

“…That’s to fight.”

“Right. Now it’s time to fight humans to survive.”



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