The Little Prince in the Ossuary - chapter 37
# Clown (4), Santa Maria
「A new horde has been spotted in the southern part of the city. There isn’t any route left accessible from your position.」
「This is an order. Withdraw before you run out of ammo.」
The company commander ordered rigidly. The panorama from the sky must look unfavorable for the team. At least worse than what they were seeing from the ground. The platoon commander clenched his teeth.
「This is Firefly Two! We can’t make a landing The landing point is too hot!」
In the sky near the target location, there was a breathtaking aerobatic display taking place. The helicopter, which had descended to rescue the civilians, was dodging the things that a Grumble was throwing. A retaliation full of powder smoke poured onto the bulky mutant. But it was useless against the monster that was immune to physical damage.
Another Grumble grabbed a living mutant that was wandering nearby and threw it at the helicopter. The mutant flew straight towards the spinning rotor blade. Its body was split in half and its gut sprinkled down like rain.
A second, third, and more mutants went flying towards the chopper. Finally, the ninth mutant caught a soldier’s leg that was sticking out of the helicopter. Not wanting to fall, the soldier desperately swung his leg to shake off the mutant. But before losing its grasp on his trousers, the mutant managed to dig its teeth into his calf. The soldier, in the end, became infected.
The soldier, in despair, threw himself away. A freefall from 30 meters high. For the mutants crying in hunger, it was like food raining down from above.
Other than a couple of mutants that got squashed by the raining food, the rest of the horde began feasting upon the fresh flesh. But only a second later, a small explosion occurred amid the horde. It seemed the soldier had pulled the pins of the grenades he had on his body as he was falling.
「Fisher Three down. We’ve run out of fuel.」
The first decoy drone eventually stopped working.
The radio messages urging for retreat and the repeated bad news were persuading the platoon commander.
The critical juncture of the mission was nigh. Retreating would mean safety and advancing would mean danger.
「Insight」 recommended Gyeoul to upgrade one of his skills. Telling him that at level 11, the superhuman level, his「Movement」 skill might help him tide over the difficulties he was facing. It meant that the government should break through this mess by correcting its ability to overcome extreme obstacles and avoid them.
Gyeoul closed his eyes and pondered for a moment.
Skill level 10 was, according to the description, the maximum level that an ordinary person could reach through sheer effort, the levels beyond that corresponded to the superhuman realm. Players had to spend a tremendous amount of experience points in order to achieve that. This was why Gyeoul only had one skill, 「Small Arms Mastery」, at level 11.
But it wasn’t that he didn’t have enough points. If he used up all his spare points, he could have raised it to level 14. The points he had earned from his interactions with NPCs plus the ones he saved up weren’t few at all. So Gyeoul’s dilemma wasn’t whether or not he could do it, but rather if it was worth the consumption.
But at that time,
“Sir, we have some strange mutants here!’
The creatures creeping in the distance were, indeed, very abnormal for mutants. Their whole body seemed to be swollen with muscles, but at the same time very sleek. Their skin was so pale that it was close to gray. While their skin might’ve been wounded and scarred, it wasn’t rotten like the other mutants. It meant that they had overcome the immune rejection.
‘Is it that time already?’ The boy thought.
They were a type of enhanced mutants commonly referred to as 「Ghouls」. Though they were easier to deal with compared to variant mutants, they were trickier for they often appeared in packs.
Machine gun bullets knocked the enhanced mutants over. But having failed to hit their vital points, the soldiers could only watch the mutants quickly jumping back to their feet.
It was then that the platoon commander made up his mind. And the same happened with the boy.
“Mother of… Retreat…! Retreat!”
However, the commander realized that the boy was moving opposite to the direction he had ordered.
“Wait, you! What are you doing!” The commander called the boy in a fright. But when he was about to stop the boy, the boy had already run far off from the team.
Gyeoul then jumped up the side of a house that was standing next to him, grabbed the edge of the eaves and climbed up to the roof with a flip. Everything happened in the blink of an eye. The link between 「Movement」 and 「Insight」 calculated the optimal routes and illustrated them through augmented reality. Dozens of lines that were being constantly updated according to the changing circumstances filled the boy’s view, and their colors changed based on the calculated success rate.
Perhaps it was the boy’s dynamic movements that drew their attention, but the enhanced mutants came running towards the house he was standing on top of. When a mutant reached right beneath him, it jumped straight up to the eaves with its strengthened muscles and tried to pull itself up to the roof using the upward momentum. But before it could put its feet on the roof, Gyeoul kicked it hard on its chest. The mutant that took a boot to its thorax quickly plunged down and crashed onto the ground with a heavy thud.
Realizing one mutant was finished, Gyeoul swiftly shifted his gaze back beneath his feet. There were five more Ghouls about to climb onto the roof.
Gyeoul quickly fired his rifle at the mutants drawing near. The bullets shot from his rifle successfully became embedded into the head of the foremost one, but because its body created a blind spot, the other bullets were only able to hit the arms and legs of the rest of the mutants.
The boy rushed without hesitation at the mutants that were now struggling to get back on their feet and swung his bayonet fixed under the muzzle of his rifle at the second enhanced mutant. The blade stuck deep into the grey flesh in its chest, sliced up to its neck until it cut through its brain stem.
A new threat came from behind. The boy quickly spun around to avoid the gray hand while letting go of his rifle and thrust his leg out towards the mutant’s leg as he was spinning. With a loud crack of bones breaking, the third mutant lost its balance and tumbled down the roof.
The boy quickly pulled his rifle out of the corpse as he saw the remaining mutants drawing near. But this time, the mutants were quicker. Before he could take aim, his right arm was grabbed by an incoming mutant. With his arms intertwined, his rifle held upside down, he saw the fifth enhanced mutant approaching from the rear.
Gyeoul fed the handguard of his rifle into the snapping mouth of the fourth mutant and forcefully turned himself around until the muzzle was pointing at the fifth mutant. And when he was in position, the boy stuck his thumb into the trigger guard.
The ribs of the mutant shattered from the bullets’ bast. Blood spewed out from the bullet holes and painted one edge of the roof with red.
‘One more to go.’ The boy smiled.
Gyeoul pressed down on the last mutant with pure strength. The power correction of his high-level combat skills made this possible. The Ghoul was soon brought to its knees. Then it was pushed back flat on the roof. The boy slowly sat on its chest, pressing both its arms with his knees. The pale-skinned mutant struggled to break free but to no avail.
With his now free hands, Gyeoul grabbed his rifle backward and began pounding on the mutant’s head with the butt plate. Each time the rifle hit its face, bits of bloody flesh splattered onto the boy’s face. The sight of sheer violence had the messages log filled with cheers and shouts of those he was sharing his experience with.
A sudden noise from the radio brought the boy back to reality. The next thing he knew, the mutant beneath him was already gasping for its last breath.
Gyeoul stood up and took a glance around. The Rangers had already backed off far away from the boy with the wounded soldiers. Thankfully, not many mutants were heading towards their direction for some reason. Wondering where the rest could be, Gyeoul shifted his glance, searching for where the cries of the mutants he was hearing were coming from. And not before long, he was able to find the source of the sound. Just beneath the eave, the mutants were stacking themselves up, trying to reach for the boy on the roof.
The boy then raised his head. Up in the sky, there were two helicopters still struggling to fight off the two Grumbles. Beneath it was an outdoor signboard that read ‘Western Motel’. The place where the civilians were hiding.
But then, Gyeoul heard the platoon commander shouting his call sign through the radio.
「Clown! Clown! Hey, kid! Answer me!」
「What do you think you’re doing? Do you have nine lives or something? What do you think a commander is for if you don’t obey?」
A mixture of worry and anger showed from his voice.
“I’m sorry, commander, but I’m in a different line of command. I’m under no obligation to follow your command.”
「What the fuck are you talking about? Are you seriously out of your goddamn mind?」
Gyeoul, while pondering what to say, spotted a few keywords his 「Insight」 was providing.
“I’m under Camp Robert’s commander’s jurisdiction, and the only order I received from him was ‘to kill a few mutants in front of the camera at Santa Maria’. In fact, he didn’t delegate command to Captain McGuire either. So I’ll be on my way to achieve the mission I was given. And maybe save some people while at it.”
「You’ve got to be kidding me…」
“I’ll be busy for a while. Please understand if there’s no reply.”
As soon as he finished speaking, Gyeoul pulled out the pin of a grenade and bowled it down the roof. The small bomb trundled along the roof and fell just right on the forehead of one of the mutants at the top.
Rotten flesh scattered in the air. The street was full of bits of corpses.
Gyeoul started running. While treading down the mountain of bodies that were still wriggling, he jumped back on the street. A drone flew and stayed nearby. Its lens was capturing the boy.
The gunfire from the helicopter stopped. They must have run out of ammunition. The helicopter turned its head back to headquarters.
Now the fight was entirely up to Gyeoul. He was about 200 meters away from his destination. All the mutants that existed in between spotted the boy. On the road, there was now only the soldier boy and the mutant horde running towards each other.
No matter how big a group was, if it wasn’t under control, there was bound to be a gap in between. Gyeoul penetrated that very gap amongst the mutants and made his way through the incoming threats. Even if the gap was cut off in the middle, he created a new one by grabbing one of the swinging arms of the mutants and pulling at it to make it trip over.
Another Ghoul showed up in front of the boy. But before the gray-skinned mutant could do anything, Gyeoul shot its knee right away. When the mutant came to a kneeling position, the boy stepped on it like a staircase and leaped over the heads of several mutants.
Now that he had reached the other side of the street, there was no need to follow the road. The boy proceeded as he climbed over a wall, and ran from one roof to another.
At last, the boy succeeded in pulling one of the two Grumble’s aggro onto himself. The Grumble, having given up on finding the survivors, now fixed his two yellow eyes on Gyeoul and prepared for its dash pattern. There were still quite a few mutants in between them, but that didn’t matter to the giant monster.
And that was what the boy was waiting for. He was counting on his current evasion stat.
Veins began to stick out from the monster’s bulging legs. All the mutants that stood between the boy and the monster were trampled on. And when the hulking figure was about to reach the boy, Gyeoul leaped to the side with exact timing. Grumble’s fist swung beside him by a single thread.
Grumble only came to a stop after plowing through the pavement for ten more meters. Pshh- The monster slowly turned around, releasing steam through its nostrils. Gyeoul began to calculate Grumble’s charge pattern once again.
「Watch your six, Clown! Boogie Two turned to you!」
He felt a sudden tingle on the back of his head. It was warning him of the emergence of another Grumble.
The boy quickly knelt and aimed. He had to create a time gap between the charge patterns of the two monsters. His heaving shoulder from rapid breathing made it hard to keep his aim on the target, but it was okay, his shooting skill was at level 11.
The three bullets fired from Gyeoul’s rifle dug deep into the opening maw. Almost immediately, Gyeoul launched himself to the side. The Grumble that had yet to dash came tackling to where Gyeoul’s body used to be.
While he was dodging, he heard the other one’s roar. Before the boy could pick himself up, he rolled once again to dodge the second Grumble charging at him.
Gyeoul repeated this pattern until the mutants in the main street were decimated. The entire street was strewn with corpses and drenched with blood.
The helicopter returned after replenishing its ammunition. Perhaps that had triggered the mutants’ animal instinct. There were still a lot of mutants left on the street, but they began to scatter away.
It was then when Gyeoul showed a change in his pattern. Instead of having the two Grumbles spread apart, he lured them into the same place. And when that was done, he began walking towards them as he stunned them by shooting at their screaming mouths.
He had three grenades left. It wasn’t enough to finish both of them, but enough to make them vulnerable.
Once he was at the right distance, he threw all of his grenades, one by one, at each of their mouths. As a result, the one that took two grenades was put to death, and the other one also fell on its knees with blood pouring out of its orifices.
The helicopter rapidly lowered its height as it spotted the monster in its vulnerable state. A soldier on the helicopter pointed the thick muzzle of his grenade launcher at the growling monster.
A light, resonant sound of a launching grenade. But the result wasn’t light at all. Because of the explosive bullet that blew up before it could shut its mouth, the monster spew out flames mixed with blood out of all holes on its face.
After confirming the death of the two giant mutants, Gyeoul glanced about the street.
‘There it is. Western Motel.’
Gyeoul trudged towards the building where the survivors should be hiding.
The remaining mutants were taken care of by the soldiers from the helicopter. One of the soldiers came before the boy and stood still as if wanting to say something. Failing to find the right words to say, the soldier came to a most courteous salute, before rushing off to continue fighting off the mutants.