The Little Prince in the Ossuary - chapter 36
“Sir, this is…!”
“I’m watching it too…”
On the screen, there was a group of people, presumably civilians, waving their hands at the drone. It seemed like the noise produced by the drone had brought them out to the street. But as soon as they stepped out, their faces soon turned deadly pale with horror. As the drone swiftly turned around, the screen shifted to display the two gigantic mutants walking out from a corner. Before the humans had any time to react, the mutants’ yellow eyes had already caught onto the humans and were fixed on them.
Along with the roar of the Grumbles, a great rumble came from the city. It was so loud they could hear it all the way from the outskirts.
“Damnit! Dech! Stay here with your squad and protect team Circus! Drones! Keep your eyes on those people and keep us informed of their situation! Don’t worry about losing the drone! And you! Stay here and report to headquarters! The rest of you are coming with me!”
“I’ll come too.”
The platoon commander rejected Gyeoul’s request and turned away. But after a few steps, his feet came to a stop, along with a sigh, before returning to the boy.
“You stay right behind me, understood?”
Gyeoul answered with a nod.
Just then, Sergeant Perry also stepped forward to join them.
“You’ll need a guide,” the sergeant insisted.
“…You sure about that?”
“This is my job and what I committed to doing.”
The commander solemnly nodded. Having a local police officer as a guide would be extremely helpful for finding their way around the city.
“Now, let’s move! Find a vehicle we can use!”
Once again, the sound of the city crumbling to dust came echoing from beyond the bridge.
The streets of Santa Maria were somewhat cleaner than those of other cities, as it was one of the cities with the highest evacuation rate. However, there were still remnants of the past shutdown operation. Pits and obstacles that were originally created to stop the infected were now interrupting their team from advancing speedily.
They were reaching a blockade checkpoint, but just before reaching the structure, a horde of mutants came rushing at them from the shade. The Rangers brought their speed down a little, but never to a halt.
The leading mutants collapsed one by one. But being large in number, the horde gradually closed in on the team, until only an arm’s length distance was left between the foremost soldier and mutant.
However, most of the humans on Gyeoul’s side were Rangers, the elite soldiers not just skilled at shooting rifles, but also experts in close quarters combat.
When the two groups clashed, the Rangers easily got rid of the mutants as they shoved them to the floor and shot off their heads. Even when they were caught, they merely frowned a little before landing a blow on their chin with their rifle’s butt.
Gyeoul also had two mutants closing in on him from each side. Just before the arms of one of them could reach him, the boy moved rather closer to one side. He stuck the muzzle of the rifle in between its clattering teeth and then gave it a vigorous push. The mutant’s neck easily snapped like a twig.
But the mutant, even with its neck broken, kept on swinging its arm to grab the human in front of him. The boy, with his rifle still stuck in the mutant’s gaping maw, swung his rifle around, aimed for the other mutant, and immediately pulled the trigger.
With a dull gunshot trapped inside a rotten head, the two heads exploded at the same time.
Seeing that the boy could follow along without difficulty, the platoon commander stared at him in surprise, but only for a moment.
The team reached the gate of the checkpoint. The gate was locked with a chain, and they didn’t know what lay beyond the door. But time was ticking and they clearly didn’t have the liberty to consider other options. And just when one of the soldiers stood in front of the gate,
The gate rocked violently at a sudden impact. Glowing eyes of hungry mutants shone dimly through the cracks in the gate.
The soldier who had pointed his gun at the chain stepped back in alarm. The commander shook his head and radioed the drone team.
“Drone team! What’s the situation?”
「The civilian group is currently running away in two groups; 27 are moving south on Broadway, and 9 of them are moving west on Donovan Road. 12 casualties have been sighted so far.」
“Where the hell were these people hiding all this time?” The commander cursed in a low voice.
Several mutants appeared intermittently even throughout the commander’s communication. Gyeoul, though his aiming was faster than anyone else’s, was saving as much ammo as he could.
After a short deliberation, the commander issued an order. “You, you! Grenade!” He shouted, pointing at a couple of soldiers. It seemed he had chosen to force his way through the gate. Immediately, two grenades were thrown over the wall, drawing two paraboles.
Kaboom! The ground rumbled for a moment, followed by cries of the mutants in the throes of death. Only then did the soldier in front of the door pull the trigger against the chain.
The gate was kicked open. A mutant that was leaning against the gate fell flat on the ground. The skin on its back was peeled off to the bone due to the explosion.
Once the team walked past the gate, a new horde of mutants crawled out of the houses on the right side of the road. The explosion must have drawn them out. As soon as the ones at the front spotted the humans, they began to scream their heads off.
The pathogen’s thirst to increase the number of hosts pushed the puppets forward recklessly.
“Fall into the left! Stick to the wall!” The commander shouted as he pointed at a wall separating the road from the residential area. The soldiers, sticking to the wall, concentrated their fire on the new horde. But the mutants slowly closed in on the team with their physical superiority.
Just when the soldiers were struggling, a couple of drones came flying over their heads. They were the same type as theirs but under someone else’s control.
「This is Wolf Leader. Wolf Three, retreat to the road on your nine.」
A radio message from the headquarters. Following the instructions, the team was able to break away from the incoming horde. The horde was chasing behind them.
The commander made a hand signal and a grenade was thrown to the back. The soldiers lowered their postures while the rumbling explosion reverberated beneath their feet.
「Wolf Three, I don’t remember authorizing this operation.」
“Rescuing civilians had always been part of our mission! Other platoons were too far away from us! There are a lot of civilians in need of our help! How was I supposed to save them with two helicopters of the size of my fucking dick?! I just did what best fit our situation!”
「…Glad you have a giant dick. You’ll be a reprimand for this. Now, move to East Sunset Avenue from North Miller Street. I’ll give you three minutes.」
“Three minutes? Fucking hell, I don’t even know where East Sunset Avenue is! Sergeant, can we get there in time?”
The platoon commander looked at Sergeant Perry, for they didn’t have time to take out the map.
“If we run like hell, we can!” The police officer nodded.
“Mother of… What are you all doing? You heard the man! Get your asses in gear!”
With the sergeant leading in front, the team began sprinting down the street.
While they were on the run, another message was heard from the radio.
「Wolf Two is departing from the headquarters, Wolf One is being deployed into the city. 40 seconds until the helicopter is deployed over the area of operations. The call sign for the helicopter will now be Firefly. Each platoon’s drone team will be called Fisher One to Fisher Three.」
The backup platoons were on their way there. But since they were still far away from the operation point, it was hard to expect reinforcement on time.
「This is Fisher Three. Two additional casualties have occurred in the civilian group heading south. Their location is Western Motel, 10 south from the given point foxtrot. The civilians are currently in concealment, expected to be exposed soon.」
“We’re…! on our…! fucking way…!” The commander shouted out of puff.
They had already run over a kilometer and still had another full kilometer to run. It was a daunting distance to run while under the pressure of a battlefield.
Gyeoul was also sweating profusely. Rather than feeling exhausted, he felt like his body wasn’t following his commands well. Excessive consumption of physical energy was lowering the vitality of his whole body. His aim gradually began to falter, and he was failing to hit his first shots.
So instead of sticking to his rifle, the boy grabbed his bayonet. First, he swung it towards the nearest mutant’s head. When the blade bedded into its temple, its tongue rolled out of its mouth. The boy pulled out the bayonet with strong momentum, its speed not decreasing at all.
The sound of the helicopter’s rotor quickly approached from behind. The gust of wind produced by it blew past the platoon.
The helicopter, shifting its tail, rapidly lowered its altitude, and like a battleship opening its portholes, revealed its side. Though the helicopter itself wasn’t armed, the soldiers riding on it were.
“Get down!” Yelled a soldier on the chopper. The rescue team, for they had to lower their posture while running, ended up rolling on the ground.
A hail of grenades was then launched by six-chambered grenade launchers, and in less than a second, the mutant horde was swept by a storm of raging fire.
Having provided fire cover, the helicopter then took off to the sky. The road ahead was clear as if they had also poured out a barrage from the other side. The helicopter then flew straight towards the survivors’ location.
The distance remaining was about 200 meters. But being in a densely built-up residential area, the street that had once been clear was soon filled with mutants in less than no time. Dirty things crawling under the half-open garage doors, falling off the roofs, crumbling through the broken windows.
Sergeant Perry concluded that it was impossible to get through this large number of mutants, so he led the team through another route. However…
「Break! Break! Wolf Three, Wolf Three! Boogie Three ahead! At eleven o’clock!」
The telecom’s urgent voice sounded from the radio.
But before Gyeoul’s group could react, the house next to them was smashed, almost exploding. The monster that appeared through the cloud of dust spotted the platoon running about in bewilderment. Grumble opened its maw and let out a monstrous roar. Gyeoul reflexively aimed for its mouth and pulled the trigger. The monster staggered back.
“Allies are down! !” cried a soldier.
Five soldiers were collapsed on the ground and covered in blood as if they had been hit by the falling debris of the exploded house. Unfortunately, two of them were lying just within the range of Grumble’s close combat attack. Having recovered from the temporary stun, Grumble immediately closed its mouth tight. It was getting ready to commence a close combat pattern.
The soldiers fired a barrage of machine-gun bullets at Grumble, but it did almost no damage to the monster with its physical immunity. The giant monster slowly lifted its two rocky hands and smashed down the two soldiers at the same time.
A heavy thud shook the whole street. And when the Grumble took its hands off of the ground, only a pool of blood and flesh mixed with crumbles of pavement was left in their place.
“No, no, no, no!!!”
A soldier with bloodshot eyes rushed forwards with a grenade in his hand and threw it into Grumble’s roaring maw.
But at the same time, a bazooka missile flew straight into the Grumble’s mouth. It was Gyeoul’s work. He used the launcher that belonged to a now-deceased soldier lying on the ground.
The rocket-propelled missile, which was designed to be able to pierce an iron plate, penetrated deep into the monster’s mouth’s soft flesh and an explosion occurred. Its head swelled up. And with a second of delay, the soldier’s grenade also blew up.
The gigantic muscle mass fell on its knees. Bloody froth gurgled out from its mouth.
Gyeoul threw the empty launcher at a mutant approaching him. Another soldier took care of the mutant.
Two of the wounded soldiers didn’t have any fatal wounds. They were just covered in blood because of small cuts and scratches. But the other one was different. He had a piece of wood penetrating his stomach.
In the midst of treating their wounds, the team was joined by an unexpected reinforcement.
“Dech? Why are you here?” The commander asked, looking puzzled. The squad which he had ordered to protect team Circus had come to help them instead.
“They’re soldiers too! They can watch over themselves!” The squad leader responded as he shot down the mutants. The Automatic Rifleman also properly fixed his machine gun on the ground and began knocking down the mutants in the swarm.
However, even with reinforcements, the mutants’ numbers didn’t seem to decrease at all. The platoon commander quickly radioed the headquarters.
“Shit! The road is blocked! Headquarters! We have a few injured! They need evacuation! Can we get vehicle support? Give us the rendezvous point!”
「Wolf Three, retreat.」