Jumin had really provided everything for this rescue. While Seven had worked in the background prepping and digging for information, Jumin had been preparing bodyguards and procuring an armored car.”I don’t think we need all of that, Trust Fund.” Zen raised an eyebrow as the armored car pulled up.
Seven shrugged. “I wasn’t able to find that much information, so being over-prepared is probably a good idea. Although, I’m a little worried with all the guards that people might get hurt.” Yoosung seemed uncomfortable, biting his lip and trying to pretend his knees weren’t shaking. I was pretty much the same way. The pit in my stomach that I had been pretending didn’t exist was getting even deeper it seems.
“I have had them well-trained. There’s no need to worry about that, Seven.” Jumin folded his arms and frowned. Seven’s suggestion was slightly insulting, but he decided to let it go for now.
Jaehee placed her hand on the small of my back spreading warmth through me. That was the only thing that kept me from going completely crazy with worry.
Jumin noted her action with narrowed eyes at first, but his expression softened some for just a second. I wasn’t positive that it had even happened, but maybe something or someone in his life was starting to reach him so he could understand why Jaehee had made the decisions she had and why I had encouraged her on that path.
Seven looked at his phone, checking the time. “I want to get on the road here in a few minutes, but first off, I want to minimize the number of members we’re bringing on this trip to solely the essential.”
He looked at each of us with that serious expression I had only just come to know. His carefree side was all I thought he’d ever been, but he had layers just like the rest of us. “Jumin will remain behind in order to be able to send more resources should they be needed.” Seven tossed him a small black rectangle. “That’s an earbud so i can speak directly to you.”
He placed an earbud of his own in his ear as well. Seven then stepped forward to hand one each to Jaehee and I. “The two of you are coming with me. Jaehee’s judo skills and MC’s personal relationship with her sister will probably come in handy for this.”
Yoosung took what seemed like a deep breath and tried to stand taller as Seven’s gaze fell on him, earning him a smirk from the redhead. “Yoosung, stay here and help Jumin with whatever legwork he needs.” Yoosung seemed more relieved than crestfallen at first before he realized something. “But…I want to go with you.”
The blond eyed the collection of bodyguards in their vehicles and the armored car we’d be taking. “It’s not safe out there.” He stood up as straight as he could once more. “I’m coming with you.”
Seven smiled and in one swift motion, he was kissing the blond deeply, much to Zen and Jumin’s surprise. Jaehee and I were more surprised by their boldness in public, as we always kept our relationship a hidden secret. So far, those two were the only ones who knew.
Zen coughed, his face uncomfortably red after his eyes briefly made contact with Jumin’s. “And what about me?”
Seven pulled away from the blond, who was now a bit of a blushing mess. That was probably the first time the two of them had kissed in public, and it was going to take a little while before he could talk again. The redhead nodded towards the cafe’. “You’ll be staying here as well. Watch Jaehee’s DVDs of your performances if you need some stress relief, but two untrained people and a mess of guards is already enough.”
“What do you mean two untrained? Aren’t you untrained, too?” I furrowed my brows and tilted my head. That was confusing to me. I knew he was trained as a hacker, but was he really used to missions like this?
Seven awkwardly shrugged. “It’s a uh…slip of the tongue. Yeah, I’m just there because I know the layout and need to get their digital information from the hideout. That’s all.”
I wasn’t exactly convinced, but this wasn’t really the time to argue. Jaehee and I put our earbuds in and we tested that they worked. The head guard was supplied with an earbud as well, although Seven was in charge of giving orders on-site.
Jumin, Zen, and Yoosung went into the cafe’ to wait as we joined Seven in the armored car, which the head guard was driving. “Don’t know why Jumin won’t let me drive. Maybe since he crashed my car he thinks I want revenge.”
Jaehee laughed that beautiful laugh of hers, filling my heart with just a touch of happiness again. I felt like my entire body had turned to ice, but that sound of bells was enough to bring some semblance of life back to me, and when she spoke, I even laughed along. “Maybe he has a phobia now that only chauffeurs can actually drive.”
“He already had your car fixed, so I’m betting on the second option.” Something about joking like this in the stress of the situation, made it a little easier to prepare myself for whatever might lie ahead.
The building was surprisingly big and looked like some strange otherworldly version of a cathedral. The pit that had been in my stomach was definitely there and growing, but I had to push it from my mind. We were here to help Mai, and discover if everything was truly as it seemed with Mint Eye, V, and Rika.
Jaehee briefly squeezed my hand in reassurance before going into full business mode. Seven raised an eyebrow at her but shrugged and gave orders. “We’re going to enter the building from an entrance at the back, which from my investigations does not have any cameras trained on it and is an effective black spot. There may be cameras inside the building from there, but I’ll be taking them out as we go, to get to the main control room. The files I take from there should tell us what has been going on here. Hopefully I’ll be able to access the video feeds and find Mai at that point as well.”
Seven seemed to know a lot more about these kinds of things than I had previously noted. In fact, he seemed almost professional about it. “If we are ambushed, we will call you in. However, you will certainly be needed to rescue Mai. She’s underage, and can’t legally stay here, so we’re simply doing the legal thing here in a…slightly different way than usual.”
The guards didn’t seem to react to that at all, although I could clearly tell that Jaehee wasn’t comfortable with the idea. She had been the one to enlist Seven’s help and continued to insist that the police not be involved, so if something went wrong she would feel responsible. This organization was simply too tied up with ours, and we needed to be certain we were getting the truth.
Once Seven had finished with the instructions, he nodded towards Jaehee and I and started the walk towards the back of the building. I was surprised by all of the cameras I could see, and a little skeptical that just one area wouldn’t be covered, but Seven seemed to know what he was doing. Jaehee’s eyes darted everywhere as she kept herself just slightly ahead of me, blocking me with her shoulder to keep me from passing ahead. She was clearly insistent that she would protect me on this mission, and I wasn’t about to argue with her.
There was a keycode lock with a scanner that made us pause for a moment before Seven took a small silver device that looked oddly like a hard drive connected to what seemed like a blank card and inserted it. The device made a few small beeps before the lock turned green and he opened the door.
“I’d say after you, ladies, except chivalry is dead today.” He joked mirthlessly as we entered. It wasn’t really the time for jokes but maybe he was just relieving stress.
Seven had clearly memorized the maps he’d acquired as he carefully led us down several passages to a locked room, which was supposedly the control center. He used the device once more to get in.
The room was completely empty save for a huge monitor setup. Several monitors showed video footage from the cameras we’d seen and the others showed what I assumed was some sort of special coding since they were in the binary system. I had no idea what they meant, but at least knew what binary was.
“Jaehee, guard the door while I work on retrieving the data. MC, please look through the different video feeds and see if you can find your sister.” Jaehee and I both nodded and did as we were told while Seven retrieved some items from his bag and got to work on the keyboard.
I did my best to remain calm and resolute like Jaehee was, but I could feel myself shaking as I looked through the video feeds. Almost every frame seemed empty, which seemed odd for such a large building. In fact, we hadn’t even run into any guards.
“I’ve got the files transferring, and I seem to have found some rather off information regarding medication people here are being dosed. In fact, V is on the list and appears to be the only one not being dosed something. What do you see, MC?”
Seven’s comments were a little disturbing, mostly because of the way he’d said medication. The fact that V was listed was disturbing as well.
“Mostly…I don’t see anything. Except this screen.” I pointed to the final screen which was an aerial view of what seemed to be a church worship room turned into a throne room. There was a mass of people huddled there, a man at the front of the room on his knees being held there by two guards, and…wait.
The man very clearly had V’s hair color and the person standing at the altar in front of the throne was…”Rika?” At the mention of her name, Seven immediately pushed away from the chair he was typing at and joined me. Jaehee made a soft gasp sound, but returned to watching the door.
My eyes continued to take in the scene, and I saw my sister. She looked so small and weak, and she was clinging to the arm of someone who looked strangely familiar. “That…That’s Mai, and I don’t know who that man is, but he looks almost exactly like you.”
I turned to look at Seven, but he seemed like he had malfunctioned. He simply stared at the screen, and it seemed like something was seething underneath the surface of his calm demeanor. I felt fear and distinct rage coming off him.
He suddenly broke his gaze on the screen and returned to the keypad, pulling up Rika’s and a person named Saeran’s medication file. Rika’s was mostly clean, only the occasional aspirin, but Saeran’s had a number of long words listed as daily dosage. I didn’t know what they meant, but they seemed to throw Seven into a rage. “She’s been feeding my brother drugs. All of these people are drugged out of their minds.”
He seemed to be partially in shock and partially unable to control himself as his leg bounced restlessly. Seven looked through more information and found a list of dates these people joined and tried to match them to the dates of their first dosage. Saeran seemed to have been here the longest before he was given dosages.”
Most likely they’re being brainwashed. These drugs are a cocktail meant to gain control over the taker…How does she even know this stuff?” Seven was lost in his thoughts as he read through things, scanning over them so quickly I thought my head would spin.
The files finished transferring as I looked back to Jaehee. I could tell she was thinking hard by the way she was holding her hand as though she had a pen to tap against her forehead. She always did that when she was thinking.
Seven stood once more before putting his finger to the earbud. “Change of plans. There seems to be some mass gathering in what is marked as Magenta Room on your maps. We are gathering and taking each member of this organization into custody immediately.”
It was strange hearing his voice twice with that slight second-long lag. When Jumin spoke, it was easier to comprehend, thanks to him not being in the same room. “That seems a little drastic. Will we be handing them over to the authorities?”
“Every single one of these people needs to be taken to a hospital and psychologically and physically evaluated.” Seven’s words made my blood run even colder than it already was.
What had happened to Mai here? Was she going to be okay? Seven seemed convinced that this was some master plot of Rika’s, but how could that be possible since she seemed like such a good person?
I didn’t have time to try to answer these questions now. Jumin and the head guard that had driven us both spoke through the earbud, nearly simultaneously. “Understood.”
Seven kept us from entering with the bodyguards, saying it was too high risk, but ventured into the mess with them himself, drawing a gun from his bag. My jaw dropped, as did Jaehee’s.
She instantly stepped forward. “Seven, you can’t be meaning to use that on Rika, can you?”
Seven’s face was a grim mask. “Not unless I have to. But if you’re asking if I want to, I don’t think you want to hear the answer.” He casually took the gun’s safety off. “I need to go to confession.”
The head guard stepped up behind him and tapped his shoulder to indicate that everyone was ready to go. It was a little irrelevant to use the earbud since he was right next to Seven. Seven, however, spoke over the line to Jumin. “We’re heading in. Please make sure to have additional transportation here within a half hour.”
Once more, Jumin’s voice was cool and business-like. “Understood.”
They burst in unceremoniously. Most of the members were quick to take down as the cocktail of drugs they were on kept them mostly complacent. Seven was actually thankful for the amount of guards Jumin had prepped, where before he had been a little hesitant to have so many people at risk.
The two guards around V were a different story. They had jumped after a number of guards almost immediately, but Seven ignored them, stepping up behind V to face the woman whose green eyes had once been kind and loving. Now her eyes were flashing wildly, completely enraged.
“Saeyoung! I knew I should have sent Saeran to kill you as soon as V left. Of course, he would lie and say he’d cut all contact, but here you are.” She sent a cold look to V, who seemed to be wearing tatters and clearly hadn’t bathed in a long time, bruising and cuts on his face.
V was looking around everywhere, trying to get his bearings in all the chaos based on sound alone. Seven furrowed his brows at the man, but he appeared to be completely blind. Each loud sound earned an instant reaction, whereas motion didn’t receive any notice.
He looked back up at the woman who held out her arm towards Saeran, his twin brother, and the girl he now knew to be Mai, clinging to his arm. “Saeran, you know what to do.”
At first there seemed to be pure hatred on his brother’s face, but a strange look of conflicting emotions passed over him as well.”
What are you doing? This is not the time for you to forget all the terrible things Saeyoung did to you. He abandoned you, and I took you to paradise.” Rika spoke in some strange mixture of soft goading and high-pitched shrieks.
Saeran’s face turned dark again, but Mai held him back. “No, Saeran, please. You can’t let her continue to control you like this. The savior is just a person. She’s not the savior, and you won’t feel better if you kill him.” This dark haired girl had obviously found a way to avoid the medication she was supposed to be taking.
A small smile touched Saeyoung’s face as he noticed Saeran once more pull back. The other members had already been cleared away and a few guards were reentering the room.
Rika made a mad dash forward towards him, but was held back almost instantly even as Saeyoung pointed his gun at her. This caused Saeran to break away from Mai, however, pure fury in his face now. He knocked Saeyoung to the ground and wrapped his fingers around his brother’s throat. Saeyoung didn’t fight. He just looked up at his brother in astonishment.
“You abandoned me.” Saeran cried. V now spoke, even as Mai cried out to Saeran, begging him to stop as a guard restrained her from running to him.
V’s voice was calm. “Please, Saeran, I’ve told you the story every day now. Saeyoung didn’t abandon you. Listen to Mai.” He looked off towards them, not really quite looking at them, but close.
Saeran’s grip started to slip, and Saeyoung could breathe again, taking advantage of that opportunity with a gasp as Saeran tried to think. “But…”
V shook his head. “Listen to Mai. Remember what happened to her. This place is not paradise, and Rika is sick.”
Saeran let go completely now, standing to look towards Mai. Seeing that she was being held by guards sent him once more into a panic as he ran towards her, grabbed by a guard as well and held back.
“Don’t hurt her! I’ll kill you if you hurt her!” He was enraged again, but Mai had calmed down now that he wasn’t actively attacking anyone.
“It’s okay, I’m okay. They’re not hurting me. Saeran, it’s alright.” Her voice was soft and gentle, much like MC’s just like those golden eyes. Saeran seemed to calm the more she spoke.
“Make sure you don’t separate them.” Saeyoung’s voice sounded a bit raspy as he stood, offering a hand to V, before realizing he couldn’t see it. Instead he took the man’s arm. “Dying of liver cancer, huh?” He wasn’t smiling.
V was going to have to explain everything when they got back. Yoosung was not going to like this. In fact, Saeyoung had the sneaking suspicion that his boyfriend was going to initially fall apart completely. The thought of that made his blood boil even as fear turned his heart to ice. It was a strange combination.
Jaehee’s business side was gone as she held me close. The others had gone, and all the pressure was making me break down.
“It’s going to be alright.” She stroked my hair gently as she rocked side to side. “Seven seems to know what he’s doing.”
There was a loud commotion that made me pull away from her to look towards the building. Guards were starting to remove people from the “church” and tying their hands together as they set them in groups on the lawn, assigning some of the guards to watch the collection of people as the others returned to capture more.
What was probably chaos inside the building, was perfectly orderly outside. Still, I felt my knees shaking.
Rika, V, Seven’s brother, Mai, and the mention of medications, drugs, being used to brainwash. Would my sister even be the same person when she came out those doors? I had worried she would be completely different before, but now I was more worried for her health in general. The thought of her being carried out by a guard and bound made me sick to my stomach.
Jaehee was there with me, carefully taking my hand and pressing a kiss to each of my fingers. “Jumin will make sure they all receive excellent care. Your sister and the rest of these people will all be okay.”
“Seven went in with a gun.” I mumbled to myself. That he had a gun was in itself shocking, but he was also in the room with it with my sister and also with someone he currently wanted to kill.
“As much as Seven and I have our differences, he knows what he’s doing, and we have to trust him.” She squeezed my hand before taking my chin and forcing my eyes to meet hers. “Whatever happens, we face this together. You aren’t alone, MC.”
Her words brought me comfort even as I felt as though the pit in my stomach would become a black hole and swallow me. With Jaehee there, the pit was kept just at bay.
It was some time before Seven emerged next to a guard carrying V. Two guards walked beside him with Saeran and Mai between. Mai was clinging to Saeran’s arm once more.
To me she looked so small and fragile. Her long black hair was straight like mine, and she was so much taller, but she looked just like the child I’d played with, the sister I loved.
“Mai!” I called out her name and ran towards her, Jaehee following closely behind. Saeran immediately reacted, trying to step in front of Mai protectively.
I stopped a few feet from them, not sure what to do. Mai looked at me, her gold eyes locking with my own. I saw the flash of recognition, sadness, and eventually acceptance as she rushed past Saeran, the guard loosing his grip on her arm. She wrapped her arms around me, nearly knocking me over.
She sobbed into my shoulder just as I did the same. Holding her like this was so strange, when before she barely came to my chest level, now she was my height.
When we pulled away from each other, she smiled softly at me, and I gave her my signature smile back, head tilt and all. There was no greater joy to me in this moment than knowing that she was safe.
“I know why you left now.” She spoke quietly. “I know what mom and dad did to you.” She was soft spoken, her voice carrying a burden of deep sadness.
“I wish I could have stayed. I’m so sorry, Mai.” I wanted to remove the pain I saw in her eyes, wipe every sad moment from her memory, but that simply wasn’t realistic. I settled for hugging her once more as she mumbled. “I forgive you.”
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