Chapter 122: cross the bridge

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 In a certain discarded room.



 The interior of the room was burnt and blackened, the windows were broken.
The concrete is bare.
In the dimness of the room, with only the light from the streetlamp faintly illuminating, there was not just a breeze, but a chilly wind blowing through the room.





 One woman, looking at such a chilly scene, blends into the shadows in the corner of the room and hides her presence.





 She wore a plain black cap with her long, hair stuffed into it and wearing a pair of sunglasses.
A thick turtleneck jacket.
Jeans, sneakers, and light clothing with gloves to keep her warm.




 Abigail took out a small information device from her pocket, took one look at the screen, confirmed that it was “out of range”, and then quietly put it away.




 This was a room in a residential complex in the slums of Fort 88.
A few months ago, a drug addict had burned himself and his children to death there, and now it was undergoing renovation.




 Fort dwellings are usually quickly re-purposed and replaced as soon as they become vacant, but this room has been untouched for some time due to its notorious reputation,  and due to the special characteristics of the block.




 Fort 88 is one of the largest citadels in all the forts, with as many people as a provincial city living in an area the size of a small island.




 The population per unit area is comparable to that of an overcrowded city, but the actual living space is not so cramped.
This is due to the vertical development of the city.




 Because of the walled structure of the city, the land area of the fortress city is extremely limited.
Since all kinds of urban as well as military facilities are crammed in there, it is natural for the city to expand vertically.
Even in such a fort, the urban layout of Fort 88 was much larger than the surrounding fortress cities.




 In spite of the fact that Fort 88 has a rule that there should be no difference in the level of living between low-rise and high-rise, and between the center of the city and the outskirts of the city, the popularity of the city is still concentrated in the center and the upper levels, while the outskirts and the low-rise areas tend to attract the people who are not qualified for such competition.
As a result, there were so-called slums with poor security.




 A slum is generally thought of as a nuisance in a city.
Here in Fort 88, the slums have a bad reputation, and the local government could wipe them out at any time if they wanted to, However, slums have continued to exist in the city of Fort since its spontaneous creation, and in recent years, they have even become more and more active.



 –In the slums, there is freedom.





 This is a common consciousness that the residents of the Fort do not express outwardly.



 The lives of the Fort's residents are centralized and simultaneously monitored by a dedicated information device, called .




 Starting from fingerprints, retinas, biometric information, health status, personal information, financial information, purchases, use of the equipment and its history, and even access to networks are all stored on these terminals.
In a sense, it is a very efficient system, but on the other hand, even the location information can be tracked in real-time, which makes even a person who grew up in the Fort feel uneasy and a little rebellious.





 In such a situation, more and more owners in the slum avoided repairing or updating the important equipment that supports the Fort's network for various reasons, including financial ones.




 Such places were called a resting place for pigs, and became a place of free and lazy relaxation in spite of the danger.




 We used to call it Port Royal, the area of corruption.
It was a paradise for pirates who thrived on illegal trade, drugs, and prostitution.
It's a filthy little den of misfits.

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 A variety of goods are brought into Pig's Haven.
Unregistered firearms, alien devices taken from the battlefield, excessive entertainment items, sexually explicit images and photographs that are not normally available, and even drugs such as stimulants are available.
Not to mention illegal prostitution.






 Especially in the Fort, drugs are a rare product and have become a kind of black currency used for illegal transactions in Pig's Haven, where even a unique economic zone has begun to be established.




 However, it is an undeniable fact that the Pig's Haven is responsible for all the dark sides of the Fort.
The government has tacitly accepted its role as a venting ground for the depressed residents whose lives are constantly in danger, and as a place to gather and cover up the stench.




 Thus, the vertical structure of the city was born, with the economically privileged living in the upper levels of the fort, the general public living in the middle and lower levels, the slums and Pig's Haven are on the surface divided in parts, and many military facilities are in underground and on the outer walls.



 Due to the structure of the city, expansion of the city underground is prohibited, but recently a group of people organized in Pig's Haven – a kind of gang – has been digging an illegal city under the ground as well, creating an underground slum, which has become a problem.





 It can be said that the power of Pig's Haven is growing to the point that it can do whatever it wants.





 Abigail now is right in the middle of Pig's Haven.




 She waited for her guest with no nervousness in her heart.




 The air in the room was exactly the same as the temperature outside, and it was already freezing cold on an early winter night.




 As Abigail let out a puff of white breath and warmed her hands through her gloves, a figure silently appeared at the entrance of the room.




 He carefully glanced around the room, avoiding the debris scattered on the floor, the movement of the person slowly entering was clearly not that of a civilian.








 At the sound of her voice, which came from a blind spot behind him, the man's whole body stiffened for a moment, and then he quietly turned around.
He was a filthy-looking man with an unkempt beard and mustache.





“Oh, Abigail.”




You got behind my back that easy huh, as expected from who that coming back alive from alien captivity.
You've got some serious eyes.
You are a lot more beautiful than you look in the pictures.”





 The man called himself Barry.
He was an old veteran of the Beta team and had also participated in the defense of Fort 89 a few years ago.





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 His breath reeked of alcohol and he was clearly suffering from alcohol poisoning, and his unbalanced posture indicated that he had a leg injury.



 On the other hand, the stiffness of his neck, the tension in his shoulders, and the muscles in his arms showed the dignity of a soldier who has been fighting aliens for many years.
The man in front of her was rather small in stature, but Abigail could sense that he was as dangerous as a sword that had been unsheathed.





“So? What do you want from me?”




“I'm looking for someone.”




“Why don't you talk to the local government? The article said you used to be an elite researcher for the central government.
It's easy for them to find whoever it is for you.”




“I'm an ex-military officer, so I'm not listed in the current database.
Give me the information you know.
I mean, you've come this far because you took the reward I offered you, right? Stop playing games and just answer the damn question.”



 The man chuckled and crossed his arms.




 Abigail gave Barry a description of the person based on her recent guess.
A well-known soldier who had once served at Fort 88 or Fort 89, who had survived on the front lines, and who had a lot of experience




 After listening to Abigail's story, the man stroked his stubble and growled.




” a famous soldier…….”




“A scout or special force.
If you come up with information that satisfies me, I'll add some extra to your reward”




 Barry cast a leering, inspecting glance at her while turning his head to search his memory.
It was a licking, lecherous look.




 Abigail remembered that the informant who had introduced her to this man had warned her not to make contact with him.





 Barry was a man who had retired from the front line a few months ago, due to a serious injury, and who had previously been well known on the Beta team.
He was known as for his aggressive approach to the aliens with an automatic shotgun in his hand, but also for his bad behavior.




Well, There are a lot of named people out there”




  Barry said, and started counting.




“The beta I was in still has this stupid bastard called the There is also a fanciful guy in Delta called .
for Charlie Oh, and if you're looking for scouts there's also Fox's , As for special force, the most famous is the Hotel's and Kilo's .
Another famous one is from November I've been hearing that a lot lately.
That one is hilarious.」




“What about someone who participated in the old Fort 89 defense and was treated as KIA?”




“defense……” I could see Barry biting his teeth.


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“That ……
was a hell of a fight, wasn't it?”




“Tell me everything you know.”




  Barry then took a quick, alert look around and began to speak.




“We were too late to send out reinforcements.
I've heard rumors that the Foot soldier guys were reluctant to request support.
There was also an armored division from Stronghold, but they didn't make it.
We heard that the foot soldier's force, which went in ahead of us, was destroyed.
Wouldn't it be quicker to explore that record? Why ask me?”




“There are almost no official records left, This was a hastily organized operation, so they don't really know who organized it or how it was organized”



“You're wrong” Barry interrupted with a half-smile.




“No matter how hastily they're planing it, it's still an operation, and they don't  keep any records…..?”




 Seeing Abigail shake her head, the man grew curious and let his gaze drift to his surroundings again, this time glaring out the window.



“You're not being followed, are you?”



“I'm not that dumb.”



–well, then maybe you shouldn't.
You're in the spotlight, after all.
You don't want to get involved in something that's not your business.”




 But Abigail remained silent, urging Barry to continue.



 Barry let out a small sigh.




“I don't know the details.
What the higher-ups think is none of our business.
But from what I've heard, the Fort's freedom to declare its independence from the central is based on how much it can commit to federal defense obligations.
In short, the more the Fort can fight off an alien attack on its own, the more it can stand tall and shrug off the demands of the center.”








88 has become such a big metropolis because it has such a great track record.
It is an impregnable fortress that has survived over a hundred alien attacks.
It has the authority of an almost independent state.







“Rumor has it that they've grown so big that they can't do as much legwork as they used to, so they've made the brand new Fort 89 their main frontline, and they're trying to do a lot of heavy lifting there.
I heard that Hachibachi was unofficially interfering with them.”








“The aliens seemed to have taken notice of this, and for several years now, 89 has been the target of intensive attacks.”



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“So the relationship of 88 was a little awkward at the time.
That's what I heard”




“yes, ……, and I heard that you must have some information on the two name holders from back then.
You've been around, haven't you?”




 Just after getting to the heart of the matter, Barry suddenly raised the volume of his voice and scratched his head.




“I've been retired because of this thing.
I can't move my body and my mind is foggy” Barry said, pulling up his left leg to reveal his prosthetic leg underneath.



In addition, he made a gesture like he's holding a wine glass, and continued, “I having trouble remembering things because of this.”




Abigail sighed softly.



dementia, I apologize for summoning you to this place.”




 Just as she was about to walk past Barry, a thick hand took her arm.




“……Let go”




“Well, well.
You've taken such a nice room for us.
Let's talk some more.
Something more intimate.”



“Stop ……!”




 Abigail pulled her arm back to shake off Barry's hand, but it didn't budge.
Nervousness flashed across her face.



“I don't know if you're smart or stupid, coming out here just because the terminal can't track you.
You were too careless to cross the dangerous bridge alone, weren't you? Did you know this is a place where men with special needs can get laid? There's a demand for this kind of atmosphere.
These shabby rooms are quite rare too.
Well, I guess it's just a little bit chilly for my liking”




“Do I look like such a cheap bitch to you? If you don't get your hands off me right now, you're going to the slaughterhouse tomorrow.”



“Pig's Haven and the slaughterhouse.
They're both the same.”




When Barry squeezed his hand, a vise-like grip hit Abigail's arm.
She frowned at the pain, and the next thing she knew, she was being hugged tightly in Barry's arms.




“Your article has become a hot topic among the soldiers lately.
There's a rumor going around that you were gang-raped by aliens and returned to the governor's office after being betrayed.”




 Barry exhaled a deep breath and pressed his nose against the nape of Abigail's neck, sending the scent of her into his nostrils.




“I'm going to be representing all the soldiers and find that out.”


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