Apocalypse Hunter Chapter 116: The Hive Part 2

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The huge cave was large enough for ten people to walk in together, and the current situation could be surmised from the many places that had collapsed and caved in.

"Whoever built this cave must have relocated or died."

In the dim tunnel, everyone was using night vision. Flashing lights in the dark would be a foolish move.

"Are we going to the entrance? Or to the exit?"

Zin was asking whether they were going through the route they had entered the cave or from where they had exited it when they made their escape in the past.

"We're going through the exit. The entrance is on a cliff with no exit."

Going through the entrance would be unwise since they had fallen in rather than reaching the Hive through a crack on the ground. Even though their escape was hectic, the two remembered the exact route they had used to pull it off.

Some memories could never be forgotten, and this one had left a powerful impression on both of them.

There would be instant panic if the citizens found out about a web of caves beneath the city, and if monsters came from the tunnel made by a giant monster, they would wreak havoc on the city.

There should also be a lot more exits and entrances they didn't know about, and most of those should be unusable by humans.

Yoohwan moved about with his attention on the camera, looking here and there, perhaps to store data in his helmet. They were going to come up with a plan to destroy the Hive using that data.

Perhaps due to the CP that even monsters could not withstand, the inside of the tunnel was silent and solemn. Grasping the situation, Zin asked, "Yoohwan, is your objective to destroy the Hive?"

"I've lived just for that."

"How come?"

"Well..."

Even after betraying the hunters, he had gone on his own path.

"Because I lost too much here, that was all I could think about."

He had experienced things that didn't even compare to having pockmarks on his face. Although he didn't speak out, Taehone knew how Yoohwan felt.

He had lost a student he had trained to hunt with him, a colleague who had been with him for as long as his career. Hunters sometimes teamed up to do jobs, especially more so in the city. Taehone had had a partner like that, and now, Taehone and Yoohwan were that to each other.

Because they had lost everything overnight, life had not progressed a single step from there.

Every move made after that was made to come back here.

But it didn't just end with them coming back here. For now, they had to complete the reconnaissance without dying and return to the city.

"Do you remember what the Hive was like?"

"It was very messy and… dirty. I couldn't understand how there could be such a big underground space," answered Taehone.

"You'll soon see it for yourself."

Yoohwan walked on as if it would be faster to see. Perhaps because of the enormous toxicity here, there were no monsters, and they had no encounters with wanton enemies until they reached the entrance of the Hive.

Between the cracks in the tunnel, there was a hole from where it seemed possible to slide down.

"It's still here."

Taehone and Yoohwan had climbed up desperately like insects. Without hesitation, one by one they slid down to the real Hive.

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"Even the air seems different."

They could feel the heavy, sticky air swirling around their necks. It had seemed to be just a cave that had been cut through a rock, but as they came down, Zin and Ramphil could already tell that something had changed.

'Caaaaw…'

A threatening sound, seemingly from nowhere, reverberated. In the distance, sounded a strange noise that could be the monsters fighting or the monsters mating.

They were quiet, but the sounds in the distance were something that Zin was hearing for the first time. On the wall, were dried up things that could be membranes or mucous, and mysterious underground plants were covering the area like vines, moving slowly, like living creatures. The vines that were all over the place made the underground space look like a cave occupied by a huge tree.

The breathing underground plants also looked like tentacles.

Both Taehone and Yoohwan became as stiff as stones. Taehone's only hand was twitching slightly.

Because the air and atmosphere had changed, it was almost as if the four of them had entered a different world, and the two who had experienced that other world needed time to reflect on their fears and overcome them.

"From here on, I stand at the front."

The guiding was over. Therefore, Zin, who was now the most capable of dealing with the situation, took the lead. Zin took out his Phantomvein and put it on his back, while his right hand held the AKM assault rifle with shells filled with buckshot.

From then on, there was no telling what could happen, and he had to pay attention to the environment with his entire body.

'Cawww! Cawww! Clack!'

The passage leading down was spacious, and the sounds from the distance seemed to resonate on the walls as Zin looked around. It was impossible to know whether it was dug up, or whether that huge underground space had been created by the colonies. The wriggling of living walls was a horrible sight that would scare most people.

Zin walked slowly, checking everything in sight. The others followed behind him carefully.

"I imagined there would be a Hive, but it's such a weird space… The wall seems to be moving, almost alive. There are strange creatures out there, but they don't live underground like this… Fortunately, I don't think it's harmful."

If making a full lap wasn't possible, they were to retreat. While considerable autonomy was guaranteed in the operation, Zin could already feel the competing world of countless monsters in the distance.

Ramphil was thinking the same.

"What the hell is this place?"

The place seemed too strange to see it as just an ecosystem of monsters made up of countless colonies. The odour in the air, the strange vegetation that covered the surroundings, and the branching roads that seemed like they had been made by drilling the ground, all of those things felt like they had always existed.

When there was a fork in the road, Zin didn't waste time thinking. The way back was being kept in his head anyway. All he had to do was to go back the way he came, so Zin followed every path whenever there was a fork.

'Cawww! Cawww!'

'Shuush'

Suddenly he heard a sound nearby, so he raised his hand and stopped his team. In front of them, was a corner they had to go around.

'Chom! Chom!'

'Shreeeek! Shreeeek!'

It was the sound of a predator having a meal. Zin prepared his weapon and slowly approached it alone, thrusting his head into the corner.

"What's that?"

A human monster with nasty tentacles all over his body was hunched over and feverishly chomping on something.

It was the grotesque plant that made up the wall.

'Gaaaak! Gaaaak!'

But the plant shrieked and bled dark red blood every time the vicious tentacle monster bit into it, as if it were alive. Zin couldn't even guess where the noise was coming from or where the monster was biting it.

At Zin's signal, others stayed in place and didn't budge.

Zin had never seen such a monster before in his life.

That was why thinking was unnecessary.

The answer to dealing with things you didn't know was simple.

You had to fight it.

[Darkbone active, 1 second.]

-Phat!

As soon as the black mist came out of his body, Zin disappeared from where he was standing.

-Whap!

And in the next moment, Zin's Phantomvein struck the head of the tentacle monster.

-Whack!

In one blow, the monster that had been struck in what had seemed like its head, exploded rather than being sliced. Zin did not stop, striking the remains of the tentacle monster several times.

In a way, he was mincing rather than slicing.

-Boom! Boom! Boom!

"Crazy..."

After hitting it four times in just a second, Zin looked down at the monster that had quickly turned into a piece of meat. The meat was wriggling, but it was certainly dead.

"It's over. Come on."

The other three came slowly. It was quite bizarre to see the body of a monster and the plant that it'd been eating wiggling.

"I-I can't believe you just killed the monster so… so quickly."

Taehone looked stunned, and so did Yoohwan.

"Why do you have a funny look on your face when you took care of it?"

But Ramphil asked something else. Although the hunt had been successful, Zin's face was grimly hardened.

"Even though I activated the Darkbone, I had to attack it four times to kill it."

He had approached at a moment's notice and had surprise attacked the monster in the middle of a meal. But as soon as the sword had struck it, the tentacles on the body had become entangled and hardened. He had sensed and reacted to the attack in that short period of time.

That's why Phantomvein hadn't cut the monster but destroyed it. Yoohwan stretched his right hand toward the wriggling tentacle.

'Swooosh!'

A torrent of blue flames burned the tentacles. The tentacles wriggled in the blazing heat of the fire and soon became a lump of charcoal, unmoving.

"When you run into the ones that have tentacles here, you have to treat every tentacle as individual creatures. They all move individually."

"The tentacles are not coming out of the body. Rather, we have to consider that it's another creature called the tentacle that's attached to the monster."

Therefore, each tentacle as a separate organism could sense danger. So, in fact, what Zin had killed had not just been a monster, but a collection of tentacles.

Zin's face was hardened by the fact that even such a small monster couldn't be killed in a single strike while Darkborn was activated.

"The tentacles grow and shrink arbitrarily."

Taehone spoke of the tentacle-type monster, which was common in the Hive. The tentacles grew and shrunk freely, but the most important thing was that they could also make themselves thin. Just like they had just witnessed, their strength could change as well.

"Because they can make themselves into whips or blades, it's better to shoot the tentacled ones from afar."

How Zin had just handled the monster was a fairly dangerous way.

The tentacles could turn into a spear to attack the enemy, and at the same time, a shield to protect themselves from attacks by covering the body and adding to its defense.

"Even if you shoot from a distance, the reflexes of these tentacles are fast enough to respond to bullets."

A bullet was always faster than sound, unless you use subsonic bullets. However, the reflexes of the tentacles were quick enough to react to incoming bullets.

And the two said that the tentacle monster was the most common type of monster he'd find. Most of them had tentacles, although they differed in size and shape.

Even monsters at the bottom of the food chain, eating plants on the wall, had reflexes that went beyond the speed of sound.

Zin muttered with a bitter smile, "Maybe people have been delusional so far."

"What do you mean?"

"It might be ridiculous to think that monsters from the Hive have come up to the surface."

It could be that the monsters in the big cities were from an entirely different place, and the Hive might just be a settlement, and no single monster had ever come up from it.

If these monsters were to come up, no ordinary hunter would be able to take them down.

Existing monsters might simply have lived on the surface or in the city in from the start, and the Hive could've been discovered by accident and had had nothing to do with the monsters on the surface.

Taehone and Yoohwan also nodded solemnly, as if they considered that statement to be true.

If damage on the surface had nothing to do with the Hive, then there was no reason to destroy the Hive.

'Or, do they have even more reason now?'

Destroying the Hive would not get rid of the monsters on the ground, so there might be a reason for Dominator to go through with their plans.

Despite Zin's anxiety, the reactions from Yoohwan and Taehone were the opposite.
They had to wage a great war of nerves to catch one of these monsters, and sometimes, a few hunters were sacrificed.

But with Zin, even if he said that the monster was powerful, it didn't change the fact that he had destroyed it in a second.

Naturally, Zin had a scary look on his face, to put it mildly.

"Tentacles..."

An unpleasant feeling was already climbing up his back.

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While scouting the Hive, the reconnaissance team avoided the enemy as much as it could be avoided.

There was no need to raise awareness by unnecessarily attracting the attention of the monsters. Even with the silencer, the shots were relatively loud, so they tried to avoid attacking as much as possible. Fortunately, Zin knew how to be out of the enemy's sight, even in places he had never been before.

It was somatic empirical knowledge only permitted to those who had walked countless times through uncharted land.

Taehone and Yoohwan couldn't help but admire Zin as they watched him calmly continue the covert operation. From a vantage point where they could see the enemies but the enemies couldn't see them, they moved about, definitely focused entirely on reconnaissance.

The monsters did not see the the reconnaissance team, and Zin knew better than anyone how to move silently.

The Hive was a space that had many paths and huge spaces. There were, of course, relatively more monsters in huge spaces. The Hive was certainly a massive land that included a significant amount of space.

There weren't just the tentacle monsters. The deep darkness, which was detected by infrared cameras, suddenly started to wiggle like smoke from all over the place before engulfing the monsters.

'Whoa!'

Just like that, the tentacle monsters swallowed by the black smoke staggered and, suddenly, began to shoot tentacles all over the place.

'Boom! B-Boom!'

The tentacles controlled by spirits began to be destroyed for no reason, and the other monsters who saw that fled.

'Spirits…'

Evil spirits, who suddenly appeared out of nowhere and vented enormous fear toward their surroundings, were merely spreading insanity around the surrounding space. Taehone and Yoohwan seemed to remember the time when they were seized by that fear and shot their colleagues.

Other than Zin, the other three were susceptible to such fears. The evil spirits had not yet detected them, but if they were to face something like that in the future, they needed a plan to deal with it.

Zin signaled for the group to move closer to him. Hiding behind the rock, the four gathered together, and Zin took out spell wand.

"Using the letters Myeong, Kyung, Ji, Soo, I'll use the clear mirror spell."

Usually that required a ritual, but with the energy of the Darkbone, such process was unnecessary.
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