Chapter 114: The Port by the Sea
Kagetaka port was located on the west side of Setoha island. Geographically speaking, the island itself was located on the East China sea, somewhere in between South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, with the island being a little closer to Japan. In this regard, Kagetaka port was facing west, towards the neighboring country of South Korea.
The port was the second busiest location on the island, and despite being detached from the main city, it still held a sizable population and an extremely busy traffic flow. In fact, it could practically be labeled as another city in and of itself, rather than an extension of the main city. Due to the influx of tourists and other overseas guests, there were plenty of hotels and inns located near the port. Warehouses that could house thousands of tons of items and supplies were also located near the docks. In this regard, Kagetaka port was almost a perfect safe haven for the apocalypse. A place that could provide good housing, as well as an almost near infinite amount of supplies.
Because of the island’s prime location, as well as its importance in foreign diplomacy, working by the port was a profitable business. Money and products worth millions, if not billions, in revenue would flow in and out of the narrow portside almost daily. This amount of profit also doesn’t even take into account the business from the nearby airport, which was located just a few miles away from the port.
One of the port’s largest sources of incomes was tourism. Outside of being a place that entertained foreign dignitaries and overseas shipping companies, it was also a prominent stop for a lot of cruise ships. In short, Kagetaka port was a busy place with both tourists and workers mingling alike, fulfilling its role perfectly as an intermediary for places like mainland Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and even Australia.
In even shorter words, it was a very important place. Of course, the emphasis here is on the word, “was”. With the apocalypse sweeping through the land, the port of Kagetaka was only a shadow of its former self. Those inns and warehouses that could house numerous people and items, were now broken and destroyed. The docks had probably long capsized, even the airport, in all likelihood, was destroyed.
Of course, up until now, this has all been just conjecture. It is what has likely happened, rather than what has definitively happened. I wouldn’t find out for sure until we’ve actually visited the place.
In the best-case scenario, the port had somehow survived, and a number of refugees and survivors were currently holed up in there. If I remember correctly, despite being a place for tourists, there is a small residential area for people who work near the port. This residential area, while not as big as the places around the inner city, was still well maintained, and housed a good number of people. If the port was still standing, then this place would most likely become the heart of the refugee center.
In terms of worst case scenarios, I could think up of two. One scenario was that the place was completely, and utterly destroyed. Monster infested with all vestiges of humanity and civilization having all but abandoned the location. The second scenario was that the port was being used as a honey pot. It was a trap to gather any survivors from the island, maybe orchestrated, with high likelihood, by other survivors, or, with low likelihood, by monsters with intelligence.
These were the things that plagued my mind as our group made our way towards Kagetaka port.
The route to the port, unlike my thoughts, was actually quite quick and easy. After hopping onto the main highway, the distance we needed to travel was less than ten miles. If we traveled by car, we could have reached the place in less than twenty minutes. Yet, despite this, we did not travel by car. Rather, along with the Humvee, most of our supplies had been left behind.
Under my behest, I instructed everybody to hide some of our stuff, burying it somewhere close to the convenience store. This was a form of precaution. If things went bad, and something happened during our visit to the port, then having more stuff would only weigh us down. In addition, if we ever did need to escape from the port, it was a nice reassurance knowing that we wouldn’t be completely empty handed.
Right now, the only thing with us were the clothes on our backs, and our backpacks. If this had been before the apocalypse, then our little group looked no more than a group of teenagers who were preparing to go hiking up a mountain trail.
But while extra precautions were always a good thing, this did not mean that they did not have their downsides. As a result of my vigilance, what should have been a trip that would have taken no more than twenty minutes by car, had ended up being something that would take us close to four hours to traverse. While I’m not all that bothered by this distance, it does affect the others, especially those without a lot of stats invested in strength and endurance.
In addition, this did not take into account the number of monsters that we ran into on our way there. As expected, things weren’t as calm and quiet as they had been back when we were in the convenience store. While not as dangerous, or as numerous as our time back in the residential district, there were quite a few monsters that attacked our group as we made our way across the highway.
At least three different species of monsters attacked us. Two of them were reptiles, while the last one was something modeled after an insect. The two reptiles were [Level twenty Scaled Raptors], and [Level 40 Lesser Armored Basilisks]. They had ferocious names, and were equally as aggressive whenever we encountered them.
Out of the two, the Scaled Raptors were the weakest of the bunch. Even Minakawa was capable of soloing one of them, and battling two on equal grounds. The Raptors looked kind of like chubbier, shorter versions of the velociraptors from the Jurassic period. They were as tall as a twelve-year-old child, had claws the size of knives, and had a frightening reaction time. These things would have been a dangerous threat, but fortunately, because of their disproportionate weight, their actual speed couldn’t match with their reflexes.
In contrast, the Armored Basilisk was the strongest monster I probably ever ran into ever since the apocalypse first started, outside of Boss Class monsters, which were in a whole other league by themselves. We only ran into three of them, but each one was an Elite monster.
Despite being a Basilisk, it was something that did not look like a snake, or even resembled a serpent. It was a stout monster with a thick layer of dull grey armor. Its face looked vaguely reptilian, with beady eyes and a wide jaw. It had eight pairs of legs, and a tail that was twice as long as the rest of its body. With a single swing, it could crush cars and shatter concrete with ease. Maybe because it was related to the Basilisk from myths, which were rumored to be capable of killing a person with a single glance, but the Lesser Armored Basilisk also had a type of eye attack. It had a paralyzing glare which could momentarily freeze a person in place for a certain amount of time. The time frozen depended on the certain individual. When it used that glare on Narise, she was frozen for a solid five minutes. When Hina was afflicted she was frozen for twenty seconds. Cher was paralyzed for five seconds. When I was hit, the paralysis lasted for less than half a second.
This might not seem like a significant amount of time, but in a battle of life and death, that half a second could spell disaster. Luckily, this ability had a severe weakness, it could only affect the person if they made direct eye contact with the Basilisk.
Although killing it took a bit of effort, with the group’s combined efforts, it was a manageable task. In fact, when I soloed one by myself out of curiosity, it only took about a minute and a half to kill it.
The last species of monster was probably the most troublesome opponent we faced. [Level 15 Red Plated Worker Ants]. Its name described almost everything about the monster. It was a giant ant the size of a large Doberman with a red exoskeleton. Individually, it was a weak monster, but its individual strength wasn’t really what made the Worker Ants dangerous. The monster’s real prowess lied in its size of number.
In short, they were monsters that attacked in groups, or more specifically, they were monsters that retaliated in groups.
Our first encounter with the species was during halfway through our trip, where we encountered a solitary Worker ant moving across the highway. It was idling around, searching through the abandoned cars that scattered the road side. Without much thought, I killed it. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a big mistake. Not even ten seconds after the Worker Ant died, a red stream of Worker ants came gushing out from the nearby fields.
I think they originated from somewhere underground, considering the fact that there was nothing in the fields of grass before they came out. If it was only ten or even twenty Worker ants, then they wouldn’t have posed much of a challenge, but when a number close to three hundred came rushing out, then it was trouble.
Our first encounter was one such case, and we barely managed to escape thanks to the combined efforts of large scale, area-of-effect attacks by Hina, Cielle and the President. After our first encounter, we racked up quite a few potions and drops, but that’s besides the case.
After thinking things over, I think the reason for their relentless attack was because of the release of hormones, or something similar. When I killed the first Worker Ant, I caught whiff of a faint smell coming out from the Ant’s green, viscous blood. That might have been what attracted the other Worker Ants and incited them to attack us. I’m not all too sure, but regardless, I’m thankful that, after the first instance, we never had a second.
I did get curious whether or not the Worker Ants had a giant Ant mound somewhere underground, or whether or not they had a Boss Class Ant Queen type monster, but of course, that was simply curiosity, just curiosity. I wasn’t bold enough to climb down the hole where they came out of and check for myself.
After a trip that took the majority of the day, the sun had started to set, but off into the distance, I could see the vague vestiges of… of something.
Using [Sensory Remapping], I dumped everything into my vision until I could finally make out the structure that lay just a little bit ahead of us. It was a barricade. Well, although I say that, it only vaguely resembled a barricade. It was nothing really too complex.
Plainly speaking, it was just a structure hastily constructed using a few buses as the base. On top of the buses was a layer of wooden planks and steel beams. Connecting the large vehicles were some barb wire, and wired metal fences.
With my current strength, breaking through it was a simple matter. In fact, I could probably ignore the whole thing and just jump over the structure with relative ease.
Seeing the structure, a form of anticipation welled up in my heart. I blinked once, my vision returning back to normal, before I turned towards the others behind me.
“We’re almost there.” I spoke. “I can see the entrance from here… if I were to make an estimate, then I’d say we are approximately about a mile away.”
Hearing this, I could feel the tension within the group rise. Audible gulping, sweaty hands, pale faces, the signs were all too clear. The minute traces of excitement were apparent, as well as the obvious anxiety that lay hidden underneath. If I were to call it hesitation, then there would be plenty of that as well.
“Is everyone ready?” I asked.
I do not receive vigorous assurance, but neither did anybody refuse. Seeing this, I nodded my head.
“Then, we’ll stick with our earlier plan. Remember, be cautious, we still don’t know whether or not the people there are friendly.”
I thought quietly to myself that the ones that were overly friendly were all probably the ones we needed to look out for the most, but I did not say this out loud.
“Remember, stick to the plan.” I repeat once more, just as my eyes unconsciously gazed over towards the President.
Seeing my expression, his face stiffened as a bead of sweat trailed down the side of his cheeks. He audibly gulped before he breathed out a heavy puff of air. A slight fog blurred the lenses on his glasses, before it quietly subsided.
He tersely nodded. Seeing his response, I nodded as well.
We continued walking. The President’s strides grew longer and more pronounced as he slowly made his way to the front of the group. At the same time, I shrugged my shoulders and grabbed onto the straps of my backpack with both hands. I quietly hunched over, my steps shrinking and slowing down until I was firmly at the back of the group. I received the President’s backpack, and hauled it on my back along with my own.
With my posture still intact, and my eyes firmly fixated close to the ground, if someone were to look at me, then I’d probably come off as weak and unassuming. I probably looked like a porter, or a servant, or maybe a gopher.
In comparison, the President was entirely different. He slapped his face until his cheeks turned red. The expression on his face hardened as he regained his composure. After staring back one last time at me, he turned his gaze towards the front. His back was arched straight, and his steps were wide and filled with power. He was acting like a total bigshot.
This little play that we were putting on was another form of precaution. Not only would pretending to be a side character open up more room for me to act independently, it also acted as a sort of detection mechanism.
If the people from the port fell for this little act, then that was all fine and good, but if someone were to pay me any attention, even despite my current appearance, then that signified one of two things. The first was that they had a skill similar to [Identify]. If there was a person with the ability to see through my stats, levels, or skills, then I could immediately identify that person through their reaction. Another possibility was that they had good instincts.
It seemed ridiculous to say this out loud, especially after living a life in a society firmly embedded in empirical observation and scientific truths, but someone might be able to sense how strong another person is, or at least have some form of vague idea. Something like a strong person could identify another strong person, or sensing the aura of a strong or “This guy’s leaking killing intent,” in either case, if someone was able to judge how dangerous I was with only a single glance, then it was obvious that that person wasn’t exactly simple.
Out of the two possibilities, I would rather have the former. Of course, if I had my way, then I’d chose neither possibilities.
Five minutes passed. Ten minutes passed. After fifteen minutes of silent walking, the barricade quickly came into view.
We had decided before hand to just walk directly towards the Port. Being overly cautious and sneaking around might arouse suspicion after all. We talked about it briefly, or rather, we talked about it a lot, especially regarding how we would approach the port. After much deliberation, we finally decided that just knocking on their front doorstep was the best option to take.
That was also partly the reason why we traveled across the main highway. I figured the main highway would be the most likely entrance to the port, considering it was the only road that led out towards the city. It looks like my guess wasn’t wrong.
As we approached the barricade, my eyes vigilantly scanned the vicinity of the area. While keeping my head lowered, my eyes glared past the overgrown hair that fell in front of my face. I looked around, searching for any signs of life, be it monster or human.
Our group stopped just a couple of meters away from the barricade. The wind whistled past the area, but no other sound could be heard. After a tense couple of seconds of silence, the President stepped forward.
He hesitated for a second before he walked towards the barricade that blocked the entirety of the highway.
I don’t know how effective the barricade would be at blocking against intruders, but at the very least, I was confident that it could not hold back an Armored Basilisk. At most, it might be able to repel the Raptors, but that was it. Against a strong, giant monster, or against a group of hundreds, then it was as useful as a sheet of paper.
“Is anybody here?” The President shouted in a large voice.
A few more seconds passed, but there was no response. He was about to open his mouth and yell one more time, when I caught the faintest trace of movement inside one of the buses.
Seeing, this I quietly nudged Cher, who was standing in front of me. She glanced back, and saw where my eyes were pointing at and immediately understood what I was trying to say.
“Prez, there’s someone here.” She whispered below her breath but loud enough for the President to hear.
He briefly turned his head before nodding. His hand slowly moved towards the handle on his sword. “I’m asking again, Is anyone here?” He spoke out loud once more.
The atmosphere grew tense. Those amongst the group who held great expectation for Kagetaka Port all drew in silent gulps of air. Through the corner of my eye, I could see Cielle’s indifferent expression, which greatly contrasted her sister’s yearning eyes that glowed with a faint bit of hope.
Another five seconds of silence passed before the movement within the bus escalated. After a pause, I could make out a brown head of hair from behind one of the glass windows. I noticed with some intrigue that the windows had been lightly smeared with mud, making it difficult for anybody looking outside to notice what was going on inside.
Seeing that nobody had yet to respond, the President spoke out once more, this time in a deliberately impatient tone. “If nobody responds, then I’ll just break through this barricade.”
“Wait, wait!” A muffled scream came out from inside the Bus. “Don’t be so hasty! We were just caught off guard, is all! I’m coming out now, I’m coming out now!”
After saying such, the bus vigorously shook before it stopped moving all together. After a few seconds, someone came running forward from behind the wired fencing. He was a pudgy guy with greasy, overgrown brown hair. A pair of sunglasses, with one of its lenses cracked, was on his head, acting as a sort of hairband that kept his hair away from his circle shaped head.
There were red and brown stains on his shirt, but it was apparent that his clothing had been recently washed. They did not give off that grime covered appearance and distinct stench that I had grown used to in the last couple of weeks.
Glancing past him, I could see somebody else. There was a head of black poking out from behind the bus, but they were far too obstructed for me to properly make the person out.
“What do you mean caught off guard?” The President asked with interest upon seeing the circle shaped individual walk forward.
“I mean that I never expected there’d be… other people left.” The guy bitterly laughed. His belly shook with each chuckle, while I could see the dark grey object strapped to the side of his hip. My eyes momentarily narrowed upon seeing it.
It was a pistol.
If I recall correctly, there should be a police station near the Port…
A form of excitement and anticipation erupted out from my heart. How exactly would [Equip] influence modern day firearms? I couldn’t wait to answer this question.
“It’s been nearly three months since the world ended.” He spoke liberally, his hands smoothly moving to the holster by his side while his face revealed the apprehension he was currently feeling. “In the first few weeks, we’d get plenty of survivors from the main city flowing into this little place, but after the second month passed, there’s been no one else… well, almost no one else. I’m usually here to guard this place out of formality’s sake, but as expected, we never get any more refugees or survivors, and the monsters don’t go here too often, so it can’t be helped that I was caught off guard. Besides, who told you to come here when I sleeping?”
He spoke with discontent in his voice, almost as if he had been personally wronged. His facial expression morphed exaggeratedly as if to express the grievance in his heart.
“Next time, send me a heads up before you come here and start threatening to destroy this barricade that I put my blood, sweat and tears into building.” He grumbled out loud as he shook his head and sighed.
The flow of the conversation had gone into a weird direction, and it was apparent from the President’s facial expression that he had not expected this kind of nonsensical guy to be the first one to greet him upon arriving near the Port.
Thankfully, right now, I was pretending to be a lackey. I escaped the tiresome job of being a leader, and took this time to leisurely use [Identify] on the guy.
Level 19 - Henry Isuzu
Ever since [Identification] increased in level, I’ve been able to collect more information from it, but as expected, it was still quite lacking. It would be convenient if it could also point out the target’s weak points, but that was probably asking for too much.
Judging by this guy’s name, he was probably a half. Considering the type of people who live on this island, that wasn’t too uncommon. The thing that peaked my interest was his level. Level 19… I still don’t know whether that was considered high or low, especially with nobody else to base it off of aside from our group. Unfortunately, our group wasn’t exactly the perfect frame of reference.
“What brings you guys here?” Henry, the pudgy guy asked as he looked at the President with bags underneath his eyes.
After recovering from his earlier surprise, the President nodded his head and spoke calmly. His words were rehearsed and flowed out consecutively without pause. “We came from the outskirts of the city and saw a poster that said that this place was safe. We came here hoping that was true.”
“Poster? Ah, there was that sort of thing.” The pudgy guy nodded his head after thinking for a while. “Hmm… judging by how skinny you look, you all probably came here hoping to mooch off our food, right?”
“Well, whether or not that’s the reason, I don’t really care.” The pudgy guy shrugged his head. “Our place was built on a gathering of survivors, so of course we’d welcome other survivors, it’s just that… you all… you all are kids?” He spoke with a tone of surprise as he squinted his eyes and almost practically pressed his face against the metal fence that separated us.
“Actually, we’re high schoolers.” The President corrected.
“Regardless of your age, I’m honestly surprised.” He spoke with the same tone of astonishment from before. “Despite how young and handsome I look, I’m actually twenty-seven this year. Kids… not a lot of children survived, and that includes teenagers as well. In fact, if I’m not remembering things wrong, then I’d say I’ve actually never seen anybody close to your age walking around here.”
The President’s expression turned odd, as he smiled bitterly. His statement wasn’t all too surprising, considering all the high schoolers had been trapped inside the school up until now. Out of everyone there, we were the only ones who managed to survive. That’s eight out of more than three thousand people, less than a one percent survival rate. And while there was another high school within the city, that was located on the other side of the island, so it wasn’t too surprising that this guy never ran into another high schooler after the apocalypse.
The real issue here was whether or not our age will play a factor in the future. Will knowing that we’re high schoolers matter? What if the group living here has some sort of grudge against teenagers ages 16 to 18? I’m probably being too paranoid about this whole thing, but still, I can’t stop the worst-case scenarios from popping up in my mind.
I shook my head and turned my attention back to the conversation between the President and the pudgy guy.
“Well, in either case, I’d say you guys came to the right place.” He spoke with a friendly smile. “The port has a lot of people from all over the island, and as fellow human beings, it’s only natural that we stick together in this time of danger.”
The President remained silent and simply nodded his head.
“Although I can’t let you in with my level of authority, I’ve already sent someone to the port to tell everyone about your guys’ arrival. While it’s a bit troublesome, and kind of excessive in my opinion, it’s what the higher ups want, so there’s no two ways about it. Just wait for a few minutes. Ah, but when they do get here, you absolutely can’t tell them that I was sleeping in on the job, okay? If I do find out… just wait and see how I’ll take care of you.”
The President ignored the glare that was coming his way, and dipped his head slightly in a nod. “Alright,” he consented. “We can wait.”
As if a huge weight was lifted off of his shoulders, the pudgy guy sighed and sat down on the ground with a grunt. He frisked around on his back pocket before pulling out a crumpled cigarette. He looked up at the President, and smiled a toothy smile. Through the folds of fat on his face, I briefly noted that he had a missing upper tooth.
“My name’s Henry. It might be premature of me to say this, but welcome to Kagetaka Port.”