Etranger: Chapter 3.1

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3.1 – The Derailment (3)

I’ve decided to split up chapters so that each release will contain anywhere between 1000 – 1700~ words, otherwise my speed would slow down drastically.


“You… can’t you try and fuss a bit quietly? It seems like we’re going to have to spend a bit of time to search around.”

San plodded towards the soldier’s equipment strewn across the floor. He took off his helmet, opting to wear a field cap instead. He pulled out the pistol on his person and shoved a magazine into the slot. Turning the safety off San tucked the gun into his waist strap, after which he equipped a K1 Rifle with a bayonet, then stood up. He grabbed a compass and a map detailing the ins and outs of the operation, including the escape path and drop zone, storing the map in a plastic sleeve.


“Hmm. The panel coordinates are over here. If you look in its direction, it should be in that general area… what about the ridge of that hill that’s about 300 meters away… “


San quietly turned towards Biyeon.


“Lieutenant! Stay here. I’m going scout the area, I’ll be right back. Somehow this place is strange. Was there ever a place like this in the Republic of Korea?”


“Yes sir!”


Biyeon curtly replied. She also thinks it’s strange. Because it’s so dim, San couldn’t confirm, but she looked surprised.


“There isn’t any flora that I know here… Even the weeds… plus for these weeds to grow this tall and dense in a deciduous forest during March. I wonder if there’s such a place in Gyeongsangbuk-do? Maybe this place is a large garden.”

[TN: Gyeongsangbuk-do is the name of a province in Korea surrounded by mountains]


Biyeon shook her head. What kind of botanical garden would have such raised inclining slopes, additionally, where could a place that could breed such large trees in such great abundance exist… especially with such wind blowing outside. Wary, San discreetly advanced through the surrounding area. Now, there were two things getting on his nerves: first, he absolutely could not see anything; second, he just could not make any headway. No matter which direction he went, something with an unfathomable height would block the path.


Densely grown grass so tall one couldn’t see its full length, tree bark hard like bamboo, boulders tall enough to be cliffs, and finally the unknown that lurked at the bottom of the cliffs… even though he had looked around very meticulously, within fifty meters there were no paths that he could follow in order to leave. That meant that there was no physical way to leave the area. Although it was only fifty meters, the path he took was littered with rocks, and the entirety of the ground was rugged.


‘Well regardless, I probably won’t be able to do anything until the sky brightens up. Anyways, considering how communication with the main force has been cut, if they consult an advisor, there’s a chance that we’ll be considered to be needless anxiety and left behind’


Meanwhile Biyeon was watching San’s behavior from a seated position. The flashlight was off, but she was not scared. She could tell how close San was due to the light from his flashlight. She tilted her bobbed head back and wiped the sweat off her forehead. Truly what a memorable day.


‘Seriously what kind of situation is this? Seriously, even my luck…’


Biyeon turned on her flashlight. Seeing San’s figure returning after he had explored their surrounding area, she felt it important to know her location. As soon as he arrived, San gathered the dry leaves off the tree branch he had cut off earlier. Next he set the bundle aflame with his lighter. Because he used branches and leaves that had only recently died, a lot of smoke billowed up, but for the most part it was still a decent fire. Now the two could clearly see each other. Both their lines of sights became entangled in each other.


‘He’s not a young man… his figure is thick and robust’


‘For a soldier she looks like she’s used to being told that she’s pretty’


“There’s no path we can take to leave this place. It’s difficult to try and go through any of these paths to escape. I hope to move out tomorrow should it brighten up. Who knows, if we’re lucky a search party might find us first…”


San cheerfully said to Biyeon. Although he was unsure of the truth of what he said, there was a need to help the woman feel at ease. Biyeon just stared at the flashlight with a blank look on her face. However, in her mind, she was suspicious of her current situation, and the dissatisfaction and fear she felt towards her situation started to grow bit by bit.


Biyeon looked at her watch again. It was working normally. Earlier it had read 3:20, but now it read 4:20. The exploration definitely felt like it had taken about an hour.


‘What in the world happened while I was unconscious?’


She was definitely not familiar with the area that the campfire had slightly illuminated with its soft light. San stood up and gathered up his gear. He neatly laid them out and inspected them. He began to instinctively prepare them. An officer’s handbook, 2 pocket size books, toiletries, a sleeping bag, an air pillow, a tent, a poncho, a spare combat outfit, a pair of leather gloves, a towel, some extra rations, a pair of military issued sneakers, a mobile phone with PDA and MP3 player, 5 magazines for a K1 Rifle, 10 mags for a pistol, a shovel, a bayonet, a Victorinox multi-purpose swiss army knife with magnifying glass, compass, canteen, two bricks of C4 plastic explosives and the accompanying detonators, ten High Explosive grenades, one disposable lighter, and other items necessary for camping.


An officer responsible for his equipment is very good. An officer has to train and be a model figure, there’s nothing comfortable about being an officer.


San checked his equipment once more, then look around the vicinity of the campfire before selecting a relatively flat piece of ground. Although there were tree roots and rocks embedded in the ground, he pulled out the weak roots and stomped on the brittle rocks with his military boots cladded foot until they crumbled. After gathering the fallen leaves, he placed the poncho on top of the pile of leaves. He then set up a simple tent with openings on both sides, then built a drainage ditch around it.[TN: Very unclear about the meaning of this sentence.] At least now they won’t get affected by the rain or the dew.


“Lt. Kim, you rest in the tent. I’ll stand guard until daybreak.”


“I’m fine, sir.”


“In that case, organize your gear. There’s nothing for you to do at the moment.”


“Sir, where do you think this place is?”


“I don’t know. According to the map, we should be near a port by Angang Province, but looking at the plants, nothing makes sense. Most of these are plants that I can’t recognize. Quite frankly, I probably won’t be able to get a feel for where we are until the sun comes up.”


“I also cannot understand sir. Even the weather is like this…”


“Lt. Kim, what are you specialized in?”


“I’m an information officer and currently am serving as an interpretation officer for the coalition.”


“What’s so great about the military that you would volunteer? You almost died today, remember?”


“I don’t particularly want to tell you. Well that’s that, but on the other hand, why did you beat me unconscious earlier? If your explanation is not satisfactory, then I’ll have no choice but to report you to the military court.”


“Beating? Military court?”


“Are you not the one who beat me until I fell unconscious when are parachutes entangled? However, I’m pretty sure that it was not your place to recklessly beat a junior ranking officer to the point of threatening their life without good reason. In addition, didn’t you thoughtlessly smack my cheek to wake me up?”





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