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< territoriality="" (part="" 3)="">
The long range attack of the laser rifle dealt a swift death. The Reaver whose head was pierced with the laser died on the spot.
"It's a laser rifle!"
The Reavers had underestimated their opponents since they were attacking a beat up armored vehicle. They did not expect to encounter a Wargrave executor inside the vehicle.
The Reavers started shooting at Ramphil, but he was aware of all their moves. He knew who was reloading a gun, aiming a gun, and shooting a gun. Ramphil quickly took out the Reavers who were throwing the Molotov c.o.c.ktails at the armored vehicle, and took cover behind the alley.
The gunners were all lying low, hiding from the laser rifle shots. As soon as the gunfire ceased, Zin moved out of the AV.
While taking cover in the alleyway, Ramphil marked the Reavers who were hiding. Zin was moving quickly to take position on top of a building to snipe down the Reavers.
Even though Ramphil exposed himself to the attack of the Reavers, he was simply marking the Reavers on the ground. Zin also moved into the alleyway swiftly. There was no reason for Zin to move quietly as he had already been spotted by the Reavers.
—Boom! Boom! —
Zin jumped against the wall of building, bounced off two walls, and successfully climbed up to the roof of a three-story building.
At the rooftop, there were two Reavers who were taking cover from the laser rifle attack. As soon as Zin landed on rooftop, he fired with automatic shotgun.
—Pow! Pow! —
"Ngaaargh!" One was shot in the chest, and the other in the head and died instantly. Zin quickly rolled to the walls of the building to take cover.
The buildings surrounding the area had similar heights. Zin had to move to a taller building to spot the enemies hiding in the alleys and rooftops.
The Reavers who were hiding were desperate. They didn't expect to face such powerful foes. One was a Wargrave cyborg soldier, and the other one quickly took out two Reavers by jumping up the side of a building.
It was clear that the Reavers had picked on the wrong enemy, they were people that they should not have messed around. Ramphil was controlling ground zero, and Zin was about to control the high ground. The Reavers were smart enough to understand the situation, and they were not dumb to continue a battle that they were going to lose.
"Let's split up and run!"
As soon as someone shouted, the Reavers started to move. They lowered their bodies, and started to run away through the alleyways. In urban warfare, visibility was very limited because of the buildings. Many Reavers were out quickly out of range.
However, Zin was not going to let anyone walk out alive after attacking him. He took out his AKM and started to shoot.
—Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! —
Reavers who moved were exposed and attacked by Zin. Four gunshots were fired, four Reavers were taken down.
Zin aimed and shot. And he made it look so easy.
Ramphil was also on a rampage. He ran into the alley, and pursued the Reavers by listening for the sound of their footsteps. He adjusted the L-20's output mode, switching it to spray mode. It lost a bit of range, but he was able to target a wider area.
It basically became a laser shotgun!
Ramphil turned the corner and quickly fired the gun at the back of a Reaver who was running away.
—Flash! Booom! —
As soon as the blue light flared, the upper body of the Reaver burst into flaming pieces. From a distance, the laser's beam attack pierced a hole, but the laser gun on spray mode blasted the target apart. It was a horrifying scene, and Ramphil continued to hunt down the fleeing Reavers one at a time.
From the rooftops, a hunter was sniping, and on the ground, a Wargrave executor was shooting the laser shotgun.
It's obvious where they are fleeing.
Even though the Reavers split up and ran away, they would be gathering at a point. Ramphil mainly hunted monsters, but Zin had fought against Reavers and monsters many times.
Zin knew that the Reavers planned out an escape route in case their attack failed.
More than ten Reavers had ambushed Zin and Ramphil. Ramphil continued to chase after them, and Zin was moving towards the gathering point to wipe out all the Reavers, jumping between the buildings.
Zin was not planning to go easy on the Reavers who dared to attack him!
And right at that moment-
Zin was stunned at the sound of a gunshot behind him.
Zin quickly turned and started running towards the armored vehicle. He was in between the buildings, and was not able to see what was going on near the vehicle.
—Bang! Bang! —
The second and the third gunshots were fired.
Some of the Reavers were planning to steal the armored vehicle when they saw Zin and Ramphil chasing after the others.
And Leona was inside the armored vehicle!
Zin had completely forgot that Leona was still around. Feeling uneasy, he moved quickly.
—Bang! Bang! Bang! —
The fourth, fifth, and sixth gunshots were fired. Next to the vehicle, there was one Reaver who was shot. Zin jumped off the building rooftop, and yelled, "Leona!" in desperation, and looked into the back of the vehicle.
Leona pointed the revolver at the head of the Reaver who was lying down, and pulled the trigger.
And she shot once more at the head of the other Reaver.
As soon as Leona killed off the Reavers, she looked at Zin. Zin looked desperate, but Leona looked calm.
"What's wrong with you? Did someone die? No, I mean… yeah, someone's dead now." Leona shrugged as she looked at the two Reavers dead on the floor. "But not me."
Leona was as calm as if nothing happened.
Thinking that the armored vehicle was unmanned, the three Reavers ran towards the vehicle to steal it. Leona fired a shot at one of the Reavers who entered the vehicle, and hid herself behind the front seat.
The Reaver who was shot yelled that there was a small kid armed with a crude rifle. A crude rifle required reloading, and the two other Reavers jumped into the vehicle to take advantage of the reload time. Leona hid behind the front seat to take cover from their gunshots.
When she heard the bullets ricochet against the armor of the vehicle, she shot them down with her revolver.
It was a very brief fight, but Leona drew their fire while taking cover. While the Reavers were reloading, she took advantage of the moment to take them down, as they didn't know the crude rifle was her only weapon.
Leona delivered a perfect counter-attack at the right moment.
She maintained her composure even though she was attacked by multiple Reavers, and was able to take them all out.
She had good decision-making skills, and was able to survive through many dangers while living in the wilderness. Now that she was armed with a gun, she was able to fight back much differently than before.
Zin was amazed that Leona had calmly killed three Reavers, and he was feeling sorry that he didn't remember Leona when he was busy chasing after the Reavers.
"I'm sorry. I briefly…"
"What?" As Zin was trying to speak, Leona stared at Zin.
'I'm sorry that I didn't protect you.' Leona did not want to hear such words. She didn't want to be treated like a kid. Leona looked straight into the eyes of Zin and said, "I understand that I'm a burden to you, but I don't like to be treated as a burden all the time."
To be regarded as a burden meant that one had to be protected. Leona knew that she needed the protection of Zin, but she didn't want Zin to feel sorry for her.
"So don't tell me that you are sorry."
Accepting Zin's apology would mean that Leona expected to be protected by Zin all the time. Although Leona knew that she needed Zin's help, Leona did not want Zin to feel obligated to protect her so all the time.
Leona wanted to be treated as an adult.
"Okay." Zin nodded, he understood where Leona was coming from. "Then, I'm sorry for saying that I'm sorry."
"Are you fooling around?"
"You are such a jerk!"
Leona gnashed her teeth, and Zin kept on laughing. The two didn't look like people who were engaged in a gunfight moments ago.
Ramphil also returned to the armored vehicle after he heard the gunshots.
It was very unlikely that the Reavers would attack again, as they were badly beaten. Zin and Ramphil looted the dead. They found 30 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition and home-made rifles, but they did not find any chips. After removing the iron wire near the bridge, they all got back into the vehicle.
Leona was looking fondly at the crude rifle that had saved her life. Zin removed the spent sh.e.l.ls from the revolver, reloaded .38 caliber slugs back into it, and gave the revolver back to Leona.
"This cute little thing could take down anybody. It's so amazing!"
Leona placed the revolver at her waist, concealed under her bag.
Zin said, "Those Reavers were pretty aggressive. I didn't expect them to raid a Wargrave armored vehicle."
"I thought that it was strange as well." Ramphil agreed with Zin's thoughts. Based on Zin and Ramphil's previous discussion, these Reavers were utilizing the presence of the Wargrave fortress to raid the local civilians. It would be suicidal for the Reavers to raid Wargrave properties. Even if the Reavers succeeded in stealing the vehicle, they would be in danger because the Wargrave would retaliate.
Ramphil and Zin couldn't figure out why the Reavers would take such actions. They would not be able to utilize the armored vehicle because of the Wargrave presence, and they had suffered casualties during the ambush.
"Anyways, I will have to write up a report."
The fortress would take care of the matters once Ramphil submitted a report. Ramphil didn't know the motives of the Reavers, but the only thing he had to do was write up a simple report. Wargrave did not care much as long as they were not attacked, but they would exterminate any forces that attacked them.
In any case, it really didn't matter to Zin.
The team dismounted the AV when they were still quite far away from the fortress' gate.
"Wow, totally cool."
Leona saw a fortress for the second time, and was awestruck by the height of the fortress wall. The wall was grey and clean. It seemed to represent the reclusiveness of the Wargrave.
As the team approached the fortress, a loud alarm went off near the walls of the fortress.
[Stay away. This is a Wargrave fortress. Trespa.s.sing is prohibited.]
[If you don't go back, we will shoot based on our safety protocols.]
The Wargrave did not shoot right away. Ramphil started to murmur near the wall of the fortress.
As soon as Ramphil spoke, the alarm sound stopped. The process to enter the fortress was simple. There were cameras and voice recognition devices installed around the wall, and Ramphil spoke out his military ID number. The central computer would then cross-reference Ramphil's face and military ID number to check if the person was a Wargrave soldier.
It appeared complex, but it was quite a simple verification process.
The automatic turrets were briefly put on standby. Ramphil walked up to the gate, and using an intercom, he called the gatekeeper.
< purpose="" of="" executor="" (part="" 1)="">
Ramphil called out using the intercom, "This is warrant officer Ramphil from SMCP fortress. I come as a temporary executor."
[Welcome to HMCP fortress, executor. This is Second Lieutenant Dagon in charge of the gate.]
"Good to meet you, Lieutenant Dagon."
Ramphil was originally a warrant officer, which was a rank below second lieutenant. But the ranks did not matter at the moment, as Ramphil was carrying out missions as an executor.
Regardless of their original rank, an executor was treated as a colonel, and depending on the situation, an executor would receive treatment as a brigadier general. A highly ranked executor would be treated even better than that.
Although Ramphil was a temporary executor, it would not be a problem for him to look down on any personnel except the Warlord in the fortress. However, Ramphil showed respect to the personnel based on their ranks. He had nothing to lose by showing respect.
[Executor. Before I open the door, please explain to me your company.]
"They will be helping me carry out the special mission. I am planning to take them in, so please bring extra CP protective clothes please."
[I need the Warlord's approval for outsiders visiting.]
"I will wait."
Ramphil waited in front of the door, and quickly got an answer. It appeared that the fortress was on high alert with an executor visiting.
[Visitor's access has been approved.]
[I will send out the guide team with the extra protective clothes. The visitors and the armored vehicle can come in.]
Ramphil sent a signal, and Zin drove the vehicle up in front of the fortress gate.
"I didn't expect to get the approval so quickly."
"All the fortresses need an executor's help. They accommodate the executors very well. And an outsider's visit is not a big deal either."
"Weren't you a temporary executor?" Zin asked Ramphil how he knew about executors so well.
"I know how soldiers think about executors."
"How do they think of executors?"
"They look up to them as heroes, and take pity on them as well."
"Hmm… I could see that happening."
Many times, an executor had to sleep outside in the wilderness, and fight against monsters and Reavers. Wargrave soldiers who were used to living in a comfortable environment were afraid of the outside world. However, an executor served the Wargrave organization, and wandered the wilderness.
They were regarded as heroes, and at the same time, older soldiers took pity on the executors.
Leona was not happy to be inside the fortress, and she looked very uncomfortable.
"This fortress looks overpowering, and I'm getting afraid." The atmosphere unnerved her.
Shortly, the gate opened and a squad of soldiers wearing protective clothes came out of the fortress. They saluted Ramphil as soon as they met him.
"It's an honor to see you, executor."
"Good to meet you."
The squad was wearing protective clothes and masks, and were armed with laser rifles. The inner area of the fortress was dangerous because of the dense CP level, and most of the personnel wore uniforms that protected them from CP.
Ramphil didn't need to wear the protective gear because he had received the megaframe procedure, and Zin was also immune to the CP.
Zin put on the protective clothes to avoid any suspicion, and Leona also put on the clothes with the help of the guide team.
"Oww, it fits too tight on me… Owww, it's hot!" Leona complained as she put on the full protective clothes with the masks. Zin did not take off his coat, and he wore the protective clothes on top of his coat. He looked like an obese person, and Leona found it funny.
She looked at Zin and smiled. "Mister, you look like an idiot."
"Same goes for you."
The guide team walked ahead of them, and Leona and Zin walked while Ramphil drove the vehicle. The gate door closed behind them with a large thud. There were green mists inside the fortress.
"I don't know what that is, but something doesn't feel right."
Breathing in dense CP would cause extreme pain. Putting on a mask would greatly reduce the risk.
The guide team escorted Zin's party through the green mists and reached a giant elevator.
"The vehicle will be taken to the vehicle elevator."
A soldier took the AV, and went away somewhere. Shortly after, Zin's party was brought underground.
"Wow! Wow! What is this?" Leona freaked out as the elevator went underground, and she was surprised to see the ceiling close slowly.
Zin started to mock Leona who was in awe. "Stop making a big deal out of everything."
"Kids always get excited when they see new things."
"You are not a kid."
"Yes, I am a kid."
The guide team found the quarreling between Zin and Leona quite amusing, and the guide team started to laugh. Ramphil stood still without a word, as he usually did, his stare rather blank.
The three went through the door at the bottom of the elevator, and took off their protective clothes.
"Please take out all your weapons, and check them in. We will return them when you leave."
The guide team was talking to Leona and Zin. As Zin took out his weapons, Leona also checked in her rifle and revolver.
Even though the people didn't know about the void storage, Zin took out a lot of weapons. The guide team was shocked to see Zin take out weapons from the void storage.
"What in the world is that…"
"Think of it as an old fox's trick."
As the guide team was suspicious about Zin's actions, Ramphil explained, "It is what's called a charm. No need to get worried."
Zin and Leona were outsiders whom an executor had brought into the fortress. The guide team determined that they were trustworthy people.
There was a reason Zin took out his weapons.
"Since I followed the fortress' rule, I have a favor to ask."
"What would that be?"
"Does anyone repair firearms?"
"Ah… we have some technicians who mainly repair artillery."
"Can you repair my weapons? And I would like to talk to the technicians. I could repair the weapons myself, but I know that you do not want me to hold onto the weapons."
Zin was saying that since he was unable to repair his weapons because of the fortress policies, he was asking the guide team to repair the weapons instead. Zin was planning to take advantage of others as much as possible, using Ramphil's position as an executor.
"Mmm… I will ask around," the team leader answered, and Zin nodded. As they pa.s.sed through the door, they started the visitor check-in process.
Leona found the whole check in process very annoying.
"We are starting the disinfection process."
A strange-looking white smoke was sprayed at Zin's party in order to remove any poisonous substances from them. After the first process, they were showered with a disinfectant solution. Then the medical team checked the infection status of Zin's party. Luckily, they pa.s.sed the test, as they were not infected with any diseases.
They went through several checkpoints, and they were finally admitted after taking a shower and putting on the Wargrave clothes. Their original clothes were sent for cleaning, the guide team promising to return the clothes after cleaning. Zin took out some items that were fragile.
"Jule was nothing." Leona got tired of the whole sanitization process. They even ended up taking some pills and getting antibiotic shots.
"Do they always go through this whole process every time?"
"They go through this process even though they wear protective clothes."
Leona shook her head after Ramphil replied. As the party entered the fortress, the guide team was waiting for them. "Let's go."
The party soon reached an area that looked like the central station.
Leona was amazed that such a clean place could exist in this world.
The walls were all white, and many people were walking through the station area. Many elevators were moving up and down.
Everything looked orderly and tidy.
All the buildings and equipments were in excellent condition. The environment was very different compared to the wilderness.
Because Zin and Leona were wearing the Wargrave clothes, they were not in the spotlight. Fortresses usually had populations of over ten thousand.
"Let me guide you to your lodging. Do you know how to look at a map?"
"That's great. I've notified the managers that we have visitors. You can sleep in the rooms, and meals are served in the cafeteria near the rooms."
Zin knew the structure of the fortress, and he did not need the explanation. The Wargrave community had a tendency to exclude outsiders, but the guide team members were very hospitable to Zin and Leona, probably because they were allies of an executor. Zin's party moved into the lodging area, and they were a.s.signed a unit.
It was a multi-story unit designed for a family, and was very clean. This was the place that they were going to stay during their visit to the fortress.
"You can eat at the cafeteria at meal time, or you can take groceries to your room and cook as well." The people in the fortress lived according to a tight schedule, but the Wargrave manager was trying to accommodate as much freedom for Zin's party. There was no reason for them to decline the offer.
After the guide leader spoke, the rest of the guide team left, and only the leader remained with Zin's party.
"Executor, are you going to meet the Warlord right away?"
"That was my plan."
"Then, allow me to guide you."
"Are you guys planning to stay in the room?" Ramphil asked Zin and Leona.
"Will do, I don't have any reason to meet the Warlord," Zin replied.
Ramphil nodded and walked out of the room. Ramphil was thinking about staying a night or two, and leaving the fortress in a new armored vehicle.
Leona was amazed at everything inside the unit. She browsed through the windows, curtains, table, and the bathrooms with bathtubs. She had all seen these before, but it still felt alien to Leona. The living conditions at the castle of Jule was nothing compared to the condition of the fortress. Leona did not know what to do with all the new and clean furniture and surroundings. On the other hand, Zin laid down on the sofa and rested.
"Mister, you look like you are used to this kind of living."
"Well, that's because I have lived long enough."
Leona knew that an ordinary person could not possibly live longer than two hundred years. "Was the world like this before?"
Leona asked a vague question, but Zin knew what Leona was asking about.
Compared to the current times when almost everything was in ruins, everything was clean back in the pre-apocalypse days. As Leona looked outside the window and watched the people walk by, she couldn't believe that so many people were living underground.
"They don't seem to farm at all. What do they do for a living?"
"If we go further down, there is a large agricultural area… I mean, there are buildings where people can grow food without sun and soil. They produce food down there. Same goes with cattle."
A Wargrave fortress collected a huge amount of chips, and the Wargrave were able to automate many farms utilizing the chips. A small group of technicians managed the huge underground agricultural facilities, and raised cattle in order to sustain the economy of the giant fortress.
A fortress was designed to be self-sufficient. In the case of the Busan fortress, there were only researchers left, and the fortress operated with minimal personnel and power. But most of the fortresses were managed similar to how the Harbin fortress was managed.
Leona could not understand the concept of producing all goods in the underground, but she believed what Zin was explaining to her.
Some soldiers brought groceries to the room, and Zin left the metallic box that contained food on the table.
"That is all this? It doesn't look like a C-ration…"
Leona shook her head as she studied the cans and boxes. Zin read the letters on the cans, and smiled as he took out something.
"You will be surprised that there is more to food than C-rations."
"What could that be?"
"It's a food that is typically called noodles, and more specifically, this is…" Zin said with much excitement, "Ramen!"
With an ecstatic expression, Zin took out the ramen boxes, and put them on the kitchen cupboard. Zin didn't like the Wargrave much, but he appreciated the delicacies that Wargrave were able to produce.
Although these delicacies were not necessary for survival, Wargrave produced them in small batches. And Wargrave produced snacks and instant foods that had been consumed in the pre-apocalypse days.
Of course, Leona had never tried noodles before. Zin cooked some ramen for Leona, and unfortunately, Leona was not able to fully enjoy the taste of ramen.
Kids could not handle spicy food well, and usually they never had a chance to eat anything spicy at all.
Leona cried in pain as she tasted the spiciness for the first time. "I'd rather eat ghoul meat! What is this painful taste?!"
Leona did not know how to describe the spicy flavor, and expressed it as a 'painful' taste. Zin was amused and surprised at Leona's reaction to the spicy taste of ramen.
"Huh..." He didn't expect Leona to respond in such a way. "If that's the case, I will eat all of it myself!"
—Slurp, Sluuuurp! —
And of course, Zin didn't worry much about Leona.