Game of Shadows Begins
Dongho punched at Eunbyul as she blocked each of them with a single palm. They went into this routine after Eunbyul assured Dongho he could try hitting her as hard as he could, in return, she would teach him how to fight.... Or box. Dongho's forehead beaded sweat as he tried harder and harder, but he couldn't find a weakness in her defense. For Eunbyul, it was a good warm up, she didn't want to be rusty. She dodged with a grace in her step as she blocked each punch, not even breaking a sweat.
Dongho huffed and sent a high kick in frustration, Eunbyul caught the foot with a flash and held it up. Dongho grunted as he tried to balance and hop as
"Nice try Dongho..... But-"
She pinned him into submission gently.
"High kicks aren't really efficient, unless you're flexible enough to maneuver yourself."
Dongho puffed his cheeks as he huffed and nodded. He shook his sweat covered hair and let out a sigh as he massaged his knuckles. Eunbyul's hands were hard.
Eunbyul didn't seem to even register any pain in her hands as she tossed him a bottle and drank one for herself. Dongho looked at her wondrously.
"Noona? Don't you even feel a bit of pain?"
Eunbyul shrugged as she swallowed.
"I guess I do.... I've learned to deal with it long enough so now, I hardly feel much. If I do, then..... I just do."
"You don't even yell or flinch though."
She only looked like she registered the pain when it was severe, like the cut on her side, or the stab in her arm.
"Years of practice. There's no use in yelling in pain. It won't heal you, and it doesn't give me satisfaction."
Eunbyul set her bottle down with a sigh.
"Now.... I want to ask you a question......"
Dongho blinked at her to continue.
"Why do you want to learn how to fight?"
Dongho replied immediately.
"Cuz it's cool."
Eunbyul gave him a skeptical look and Dongho laughed.
"And.... Because I want to protect people and be able to protect myself, without your help noona.... Remember that time when you had to save Kevin hyung?"
Eunbyul nodded. That episode was something she would never forget, but she also peered at Dongho closely.
"You told us to stay in the car.... Like kids. We all didn't like it, the fact that we were powerless in that situation. I wanted to help like Eli hyung tried to do, but I knew I was weak, I would just get in your way."
Dongho frowned slightly at the memory, and Eunbyul's eyes softened.
"I don't want to be standing behind you all the time noona. I want to be able to protect you. I'm sure I'm not the only one."
Dongho gave her a soft smile as he got up.
"You're not weak, you're stronger than I am, Dongho. Remember-"
She tapped his chest, right above the beating heart.
"It's this strength that truly matters."
Dongho smiled wider and went back to position with a determined look.
"Anyway, I was wondering, what kind of training did your dad do?"
Eunbyul stiffened slightly and gave him a flat smile.
"He did a lot of things, a lot of things I WON'T use on you little dongsaeng."
Dongho asked slightly disappointed.
"It could make you cry."
Eunbyul's face had no trace of humor as she looked at him deadpanned.
It could do so much more than that..... It could scar the poor boy forever.
She looked at her magnae, sweating and panting from his effort with a determination that impressed her. If it weren't foe the hidden situation, she wouldn't be teaching him.
But I want him to be ready, in case I can't protect him.
She kept it from them, the dangers. It killed her inside, but NH would hate her for bringing this curse among them, and she would never forgive herself for putting UKISS on such spot.
Dongho distracted her from her thoughts.
"... Cry? Are you sure noona? I'm tough."
Eunbyul gave him a look.
"When you are tough enough to camp solo in the Yukon with nothing but a flint, knife, bow with five arrows, a water flask, and the clothes you're wearing for approximately 3 weeks then you might get throughout without a tear."
Dongho tilted his head, puzzled.
"Yukon? What's the Yukon?"
"..... Hel, like Norse hell where it's cold enough to freeze your eyeballs...."
Eunbyul remembered every single day of that "simple" test, her father had made her do. She was around 15 at the time.
Cold, nothing but endless cold. Eunbyul kept moving, her feet plowing through the 4 foot snow surface with makeshift snowshoes of twigs and branch. Her breathe froze instantaneously as she panted the cold air, she felt the cold every where to her fingertips. Her parka, travel sweats, gloves, and boots did little to protect her from the blistering cold. She had nothing to eat besides a small trout for the past two days, and her strength was sapping away. The Yukon was merciless, nothing but bone chilling temperatures and ice packed river ways.
She looked around and spotted a tall stag munching on the dormant ranches of an oak. It's large black eyes seemed to sparkle her direction as it's tall jagged antlers scraped against the bark. She quietly arched her bow and pulled a sleek black arrow from the quiver. The bow creaked from the buildup of tension.
The stag's ears pricked and he perked up, black bottomless eyes stared at her. Eunbyul took in a deep breath and exhaled. Her arrow left her hand with a twang and shot straight hissing through to the stag's heart. She looked on with apathy as it slumped down onto the dirt.
Her shoes crunched the ground as she went to the kill and yanked the valuable arrow out from it's chest. She reached her pack for a knife when she heard a growl.
She brandished her weapon a the source. A pair of lone wolves growled at her, baring their teeth. Eunbyul stared them down, their ribs were apparent and surprisingly, a pair of wolf cubs stood a few yards away. Innocent yips and barks as they toppled over each other for a view of Eunbyul.
Looking at the cubs, her grip faltered. She looked back at the parents who stood determined and starved. With a sigh she lowered her bow and stepped back from her kill. Her eyes never broke off the yellow ones as she kept backing away until she turned and walked off into the snowy pines. She heard the wolves devour the carcass as she kept walking into the wilderness.
there were plenty of other deer around.
"Not everyone can be sheep, Stella.... There are wolves and will always be wolves."
But does that mean the wolves must be cruel to the sheep?
Eunbyul broke from her train of thought and went back to reality. She stood firm as she stances herself in front of Dongho.
"Now, let's try it backwards. I'm going to come at you, but I'll give you a warning for each strike, just block them."
Dongho gave a firm nod and stances himself.
Eunbyul flexed herself and shifted forward. She spoke quickly.
"Above to your left."
Dongho stumbled as he barely managed to raise a block for the incoming strike.
"Don't stumble, you lose your footing, you lose. Now right center!"
Dongho dodged the kick none too gracefully as he squirmed. Eunbyul was slower than usual but in time they would increase the speed.
"Below from the left!"
She swiped under his feet and Dongho jumped with a yelp.
Hoon looked at the two in her little game with a fascination.
Eunbyul leaped forward like a graceful cat.
"Dongho! Tiger shift!"
Dongho's eyes widened in recognition and raised his elbow guards. Remembering the technique he began moving his arms routinely, blocking a double strike.
Eunbyul raised a hand up, stopping their session.
"That was... AWESOME!"
Dongho felt awesome as he began practicing his moves, Eunbyul smirked.
"We can pick it up little by little. Who knows, I might actually spar you."
But I hope you won't ever have to use this.
She wondered if this was how her father felt every time he trained her, the odd protective feeling.
She chopped vegetables none too gently as she cooked in the kitchen. Her mind has been at a constant stress from the encounter with her father.
Were they responsible for that food poisoning incident? What if they work within the business.....
Kevin slowly came and embraced Eunbyul's back, resting his chin against her neck. Eunbyul jumped at the touch as he held her against his warm chest.
"You seem a bit jittery.... Is something up?"
She shifted closer to his touch, inhaling his warm scent.
Kevin breathed against her neck and began gently caressing it with his lips. Eunbyul shuffled and cringed.
"Oppa, that tickles, and I need to cook. Dongho and Eli oppa are coming over."
"That can wait."
He childishly remarked.
"No. Because they'll start complaining and you know how the boys get when they whine."
She bumped him away and Kevin pouted like a needy child.
They hadn't had much Skinship and he had his needs.
He whined as he pouted. Eunbyul gave him a look.
"You whine as bad as Dongho."
"Can I at least kiss your neck?"
Kevin gave her a puppy look.
Kevin huffed and blew his hair out of his eyes with a cute frustrated look.
"Fine! Neglect your adorable boyfriend, he'll just hit the showers then....."
"I'm hardly neglecting you."
Eunbyul didn't even turn to look at him, and Kevin called from the bathroom.
"Yeah! You are depriving me of love! Affection!"
"Quit being a wimp."
"And I'm being insulted! Oh the hurt!"
"Dramaqueen...." she muttered.
"I heard that!"
Eunbyul went back to her cooking with a shake of her head. She heard the faucet hiss water as she fried the food. Later, Kevin came out in his grey sweats and rubbed his damp hair with a towel. He walked shirtless into the living room, hoping to get sole recognition.
Eunbyul turned to look at him.
"Oppa do you prefer your-....."
Eunbyul's eyes widened in surprise as Kevin walked out of the shower topless. Steam still came off him as he rubbed his dark head with a towel. She couldn't help but look at his physique. Pleasantly sculpted abs, not as profound as Joon's, but it was certainly attractive. She felt heat rise up her cheeks but quickly fought them down before they showed.
Why am I flustered? It's inevitable I'll see him topless, we live together. I should get used to it.
But she felt an odd jealousy at his form. He had smooth hairless and scarless skin on his torso, she didn't. It gave her a bit of sadness in the comparison. A raggedy stitched up doll with a porcelain statue was an accurate analogy of her feelings. There was also a darker thought. What if he had a scar because of her? Because of the possible threat that she was. What if later on, he would bear an ugly mark all because of her incapability to stay away.
Kevin pretended to look nonchalant as he noticed Eunbyul stare. He hoped for a blush and some attention as he rubbed his hair. To his surprise, her face was impassive, merely a widening of her eyes, then a different look that he couldn't name. It was like she was scanning him with envy.
Kevin gave her a smirk.
Eunbyul kept looking.
"Then why are you staring?"
"..... I envy you."
Eunbyul spoke straightforwardly.
That wasn't the answer Kevin expected. He expected a 'No I wasn't.' or a blush. He gave her a look to elaborate.
".... You have nice skin."
Eunbyul went back to her cooking.
Kevin almost sulked, he wanted her to pay attention to him.
Eunbyul had mirth in her voice as she poured the food onto the plate. She walked off to their small table with plates at hand. Kevin followed her around like a shirtless puppy, but Eunbyul still wouldn't give him his attention. Finally Kevin grabbed her by the waist and spun her around.
Eunbyul gave him a look with her enrapturing eyes.
Kevin felt his heart race faster at the closeness and he slowly shut his eyes, inching to her. Eunbyul leaned back into the table but Kevin kept his arms around her waist.
"Didn't I say no?"
Eunbyul raised an eyebrow.
"Uhuh. But you aren't that cruel."
Kevin batted his eyelashes.
"Put some clothes on. You'll catch a spring cold."
Eunbyul couldn't stop the blood from filling her cheeks, tinting them pink.
Kevin cuddled his head against her chest and lifted her up. Eunbyul let out a yelp as Kevin carried her to their bedroom.
"Sunghyun! The food will get cold! Oomph!"
Eunbyul bounced on the bed and Kevin pounced on her.
"You just used Banmal! Punishment!!!"
He began tickling Eunbyul, and she spazzed like an electrocuted animal. Eunbyul was too busy laughing her head off to stop Kevin.
"AHAHAHAHHAA STOP! PUAHAHAHHAHAA ST-AHAHAHAHAHA!"
Kevin laughed at the psychotic affect, mercilessly tickling her. Eunbyul grabbed Kevin's hands and with a powerful heave she flipped herself on top. Her hands landed on his chest, Eunbyul ignored the electric feeling and quickly held him in submission before Kevin could even try anything.
Kevin squirmed in their wrestling match like a wrangling fish.
Eunbyul began to laugh as Kevin tried to pin her with poor skill.
"You slippery little trout!"
She flipped herself back on top with a swipe of her leg and Kevin was too tired to even try anything else. His chest rose in great heaves.
"Tap out oppa. You can't beat me."
Eunbyul made herself comfortable as she pinned him. Kevin chuckled softly as he sat up slowly, he finally saw some of the mysterious tense emotion loosen. Eunbyul relaxed her hold and allowed Kevin to inch his face to her's. He tilted his head and their lips met. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, feeling the rapid heartbeat through the thin layer of clothing.
They parted the kiss reluctantly, Eunbyul's eyes met his. She would never get used to the look in his eyes, and never could define that burning gaze.
"Foods getting cold."
She whispered gently.
Kevin removed an arm from her waist and interlocked hands with Eunbyul, feeling the rough areas of her palm.
Eunbyul gave him a soft smile, releasing him from her hold.
A knock came on their door, interrupting their sweet moment yet again. Eunbyul opened the door to see Eli give her a small puppy dog look.
"My stove broke.... Can I eat with you guys? I brought kimchi my mom made..."
Eunbyul gave him an amused look and opened the door wider for Eli. Eli smiled brightly at her and gave her a quick side hug.
"You're the best Eunbyul! What are we having?"
He ran into the apartment as Kevin pulled down a shirt.
"Yah! Hyung! Don't just barge in!"
Eli ignored the question as he set down the kimchi. He stuck out a tongue at the girly boy.
"Sweet Eunbyul invited me!.... Dude... Were you shirtless?"
He looked at Eunbyul who was oblivious to the hidden question.
"Yeah he was. Is it that leek kimchi? Your mom makes the best leek kimchi."
Eli's eyes narrowed at Kevin as he spoke brightly to Eunbyul.
"She made a special batch for you from her last visit since you enjoyed it.... Eunbyul ah?... Did Kevin do anything..... Weird? With his shirt off."
"No. We did have a wrestling match."
Eunbyul spoke nonchalantly as she set up a third pair utensils.
Eli gaped at Kevin. Kevin held his hands up.
"Not in that way hy-"
"KEVIN WOO! WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT NOTHING FUNNY?"
He aimed a strike at Kevin, and Kevin quickly ran behind Eunbyul who looked surprised at he outburst.
"It's not what you think hyung! Eunbyul! Tell him before he tries to crush my head!"
Kevin peeped behind Eunbyul as Eli tried to lunge for him. It was outrageous to Eli. He loved the girl like a little sister, and Kevin like a brother, but the thought of Kevin 'wrestling' with dear innocent Eunbyul was enough for a beating or two.
"Tell him what? What does he think? Why would he crush your head?"
Eunbyul looked confused as she stuck a foot up to prevent Eli's lunge.
"She's only just turned twenty!"
Eli growled. The pigeon continued to peck at the poor fish with it's angry sharp beak.
"Plenty of girls lose their virginity even before twenty!"
Kevin protested. He looked aghast at his poor defense.
"Wait... That didn't sound right-"
Eunbyul turned over her shoulder and gave Kevin a WTF look.
"That isn't a JUSTIFIED REASON! SO YOU DECIDE TO DO IT WITH HER! She probably had no idea what you were doing! You took advantage of her with your pretty boy skills!"
Eli was flushed red.
"What I meant was that WE DIDN'T DO IT! Eunbyul! Tell this bird we didn't do it!"
Kevin nudged Eunbyul.
Eli face palmed.
"Shake the bed with Kevin....?"
She gave him a blank look.
"........... We wrestled....?"
"Did you and Kevin have sex?"
Eli blurted almost exasperated. Kevin wanted to sink to the floor from embarrassment as Eunbyul raised an eyebrow.
"Oh. No. What makes you get that idea?"
Eli relaxed a bit.
"You guys wrestled..." he quoted his fingers. "And Kevin was half naked."
"Sex isn't wrestling."
Eunbyul gave him a weird look as she walked away.
Kevin hissed through clamped teeth.
"You believe Eunbyul but not your own member...."
Eunbyul went for her usual free run, leaving UKISS and the manager to run their schedules. She leapt over a billboard and flipped across the rails with effortless grace, landing on the rooftop cement. She sat on the rail attempting to take in a breath of the moist air to loosen her rigid self. Her mind has been at a constant state of paranoia, enough to show throuh for Kevin to see. He had voiced his concern but she quickly pushed it away with denial. Everything seemed right. UKISS was rising up in fame, she became a backbone, she had a purpose, Kevin and she were happy, but there was something off. The warning, like a countdown to a crippling event.
Would I be able to protect them? They wouldn't try anything major to well known people.....
But who was they? What were they after? Why?
She felt as if there was more to this whole game of shadows and she was a part of it, whether she liked it or not. Chills rushed through her veins.
Thick rimmed binoculars scoped in on Eunbyul's resting figure. Small digits and computer scans showed up on the lens as they focused in on Eunbyul.
UKISS all went into the large black van with tired faces. They rested their head on the seats with a sigh, talking amongst themselves. The driver said nothing as he started the engine, the mid afternoon sun glinted on a shiny black metallic earpiece on his ear, blue wiring seemed to pulse transparently on it.
Dongho felt an edge as he looked at the driver. His eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Why do I have this feeling..... Maybe noona is just rubbing off on me....
"Are you a knew driver?"
The answer was clear cut and cold. He turned out of the driveway and sped off into the city.
Eunbyul ran back to the apartment, hesitating a small step. Someone was in her apartment, and it wasn't Kevin. Eunbyul stepped silently to the door, pulling out a flip pocket knife from the butt of her belt. The silver blade glinted as she pressed in the pin number. She heard quick shuffles as she opened the door and lashed out at the intruder. She grabbed the collar of the stranger and pushed him to the wall with fierce force, shaking the room.
The man fumbled and a strong arm grabbed her wrist in a skillful hold.
Eunbyul's mind raced. The style of defense wasn't any normal mugger. The room was dark but she saw the outlines of the man. Before he could retaliate, Eunbyul stabbed her knife into the wall, centimeters from the man's neck, pinning his clothes to the wall. The man grunted in shock as Eunbyul acted faster and felt his right side for a gun holster. Seeing the outlines of the gun, she yanked it away, cocking it once and pointing it at her three o'clock. There were two men in her house, and she wanted to know why.
"Stand down Stella."
Eunbyul's eyes widened in recognition of her father's voice. The light turned on, proving her theory. Skylar stood before her, hands raised, with his hard black eyes. Eunbyul slowly lowered the gun as she looked around. Allen Walker was pinned to the wall with a grim expression. He yanked out the knife with some force and staggered.
"Blimey mate. You react like Skylar everytime I try to wake him up. Barking mad you all are."
Skylar eyed the gun in her hand. Eunbyul's eyes narrowed icily as she handed the gun back to Walker.
"Don't expect a warm welcome from me if you guys are just gonna barge in."
"Nows not the time for vehemence. Has anything happened to you recently? Something you couldn't explain?"
Skylar asked cautiously.
"You're a wizard Harry!"
Walker sarcastically added in. Both daughter and father gave him a silencing glare.
Eunbyul's eyes flitted back to her father..
"Not that I know of.... I did have a weird sickness, but that lasted for only a few hours."
Skylar and Walker eyed each other, an uneasy aura filled the air.
"Sickness?..... What happened."
"I don't remember.... All I remember was feeling hot and cold. I woke up and purged, but that was about it."
Skylar looked angry and worried as Walker cursed under his breath.
Eunbyul looked puzzled as Allen dropped a large black file in front of her table.
Eunbyul hesitantly lifted up the black file and opened it. A grey haired man's profile was displayed, many blacked out sections and classified stamps pounded on the file. The gray eyes stared cold and calculatingly into the camera with an apathetic smirk. Her sharp eyes scanned the information and she felt bile roll in her stomach as she read the details of his crimes. Human experimentation, Treason to the country, numerous illegal trades in the black market, human organ cartel, countless murders, kidnaps, torture, terrorist negotiations, the list went on. What shocked her even more was that he was a former member of the CIA.
She flipped through more papers of the profiles of his recent experiments. Little children, teenagers, recruited soldiers, SEAL members, mothers, all terminated or failures. And then the final page made her nearly drop the file.
Photos of her were collected, her out in the streets, on stage, high school, elementary school, recent photos. It was a total profile on her.
What the hell was this?
"We found that on one of our infiltration missions. He is after you. You're his next target. The day you were sick was when he was gaining intel on your physique."
Walker sounded bitter at himself as he looked away.
Eunbyul felt a surge of anger. She didn't want to be any part of this.
She nearly growled.
"Because he wants to use you."
Walker said matter of factly.
Skylar looked into her eyes, and she saw a pit of agony.
"Because you are the daughter of Annabelle. There were only a few handful of people that knew Annabelle conceived a child, even fewer that knew who the father was."
"Malcolm was one of them. Unfortunately."
Walker's eyes were grave. Dark blue met his light ones.
Eunbyul narrowed in suspicion.
"There's something else. Isn't there. There's more your not telling me."
Her accusing eyes glared at Skylar.
"We don't have the time to tell you everything. You're a civilian in this."
Walker gave Skylar a disbelieving look.
"No, there is more. You're hiding something from me."
"It's on a need to know basis for you. You are a civi-"
"To hell with your civilian shit! I clearly am not just a civilian if this psychotic monster is out to capture me!"
Her anger flared, mirroring her father. Walker watched with grim fascination at the startling resemblance.
"I will bring you to base with or without your cooperation Stella Caelanox Lee!"
Eunbyul flinched, stunned.
"We are putting you in a safe house. It's for your own good."
He took a step towards her, Eunbyul stepped back, her hands formed into rigid claws.
"Fuck you. I'm not going anywhere until you tell me."
The black wolf snarled at her. Walker couldn't interfere, it was like watching a leopard and a wolf go at it.
"Respect your father."
His anger filled the room with an ominous presence.
"Mother always said our family isn't based on protection, but a bond-"
"Higher than any law, stronger than any force, surpassing mankind's limitations.
Skylar spoke as his eyes softened.
"Given by God..." she spoke almost calmly. "And to disregard that is atrocious as-"
"Breaking the bond."
"I need you safe, out of society where you're noticeable."
"Then tell me why."
Eunbyul pushed for answers as she looked at her father with clenched fists.
"There was a time where you never questioned my orders."
Skylar's onyx eyes stared at Eunbyul. She looked stronger than before, a certain aura of authority that was so much like Annabelle.
"With time comes change.... There was also a time where we never kept things from each other when knowing was dire."
Eunbyul spoke bitterly.
Skylar finally spoke up in a cold hollow voice.
"He was responsible for the death of Annabelle Lee."
The silence was deafening. Walker could see the emotions pass through Eunbyul's eyes. Disbelief, sorrow, despair, and absolute fury.
"He sent the man...."
She whispered. Her hands were limp at her side.
"..... And he is now after you. And I need you safe. I can't lose you to the same man that took her away."
Skylar's eyes showed a misery only Eunbyul could comprehend.
Eunbyul felt numb as her mind went back to her beloved mother. Her smiling face, her laughter at her antics. Her own crazy antics. Then the blood spattered on the cold asphalt of the school. The morgue, the tombstone.
Her fist clenched. Nails digging into her palm enough to bleed.
Eunbyul suddenl inhaled a panic stricken breath.
What about everyone?
All of her friends, her family. They were a way of getting to her. She couldn't lose them, she couldn't lose Kevin.
"No! I can't just disappear."
Walker sighed in frustration as he looked out the window.
"Stella, this is the very man that was able to kill Annabelle. Top CIA operative? Nothing will stop him from getting you. Listen to your father and Godfather, we have to go."
"No! You don't understand. If he's been following me, then that would lead him here. He'll use them to get to me. He'll hurt them."
Eunbyul grabbed her bag in search of her phone, the men didn't stop her from dialing.
The van seemed to speed away as UKISS sat unaware in the back. Soohyun looked at their surroundings with squinted eyes.
"Ajjushi? Where are we?"
"Shortcut. Traffic was too much."
The man responded curtly.
Dongho felt his pulse race. He's been uneasy since they drove out of the MBC building.
"Hyung..... I don't have a good feeling."
He whispered to Kevin. Kevin nodded, he felt the same way.
They drove into an abandoned junk yard, and UKISS finally felt something was really wrong.
"Hey! Ajjushi? Where the hell are we?"
Soohyun yelled as he reached for the door. The doors suddenly locked and UKISS could not get out. The man suddenly put on a gas mask and pulled out a small handheld device.
He pressed the lever impassively. A strange gas, smelling oddly of some chemical was emitted into the van. Kevin was too shocked to keep hold his breathe.
They coughed as they tried to tackle the door, and finally, one by one, they fell. Kevin felt the world go hazy as his phone rung. Everything went black as he fell asleep.
Eunbyul heard the phone go to voice mail. Her heart seemed to pound in her ears as she let out a shaky breath.
Skylar's eyes held an agonizingly empathetic gaze.
"He already got to them."
Eunbyul's arm fell to her side. Her phone slipped out of her cold hand and landed on the floor. She felt a tinkle of metal on her wrist.
"I want to be the one to protect you, noona!"
Dongho told her earnestly.
I'm so sorry Dongho. Noona wanted to protect you too.
Her fist clenched in anger, small drops of blood seemed to drip to the floor.
The one thing I was able to find on my own. Is about to be taken away from me.
A voice in her head seemed to question her.
What are you going to do about that?
There was a reason for everything. Her father and mother didn't train her for nothing. She didn't fight off gangs, infiltrate facilities, and beat down her own father foe nothing.
"I will fight."
Her bracelet, the charm bracelet they gave her. She raised her hand to her chest and felt the familiar bump of the ring.
Walker looked out the window, the night lamps were shut down.
"Sky, we need to go."
Skylar's eyes flitted to Eunbyul's unmoving figure.
"Stella.... Eunbyul. We have to go."
"No.... They're in danger because of me. Because of my own faults."
Skylar looked at her somewhat mockingly.
"And what do you think you can do? Just what can a twenty year old girl with no military experience think she can accomplish going against a world criminal?"
"I'll do it with or without help of your squadron."
"My squadron is doing all they can within protocol to track him."
He bristled as he stepped forward.
Eunbyul gave him a fiery look, sparking defiance in her blue and black eye as she picked up her phone.
"Unlike you. I don't have protocol."
She ran, slipping past Skylar and Walker into a window. They tried to grab her but it was too late. Eunbyul crashed through the small kitchen window, shielding herself from the shards of glass. She ignored the cutting sting as she fell from the top floor of the small complex, landing on a tree. She cushioned the fall branch by branch until she landed on the ground like a cat.
Skylar and Walker looked down at the ground level as Eunbyul instantly ran off.
"What an idiot of a girl."
Skylar growled as he walked away from the view. Walker had no trace of idle humor.
"She is a lot like you, Sky. You never followed protocol when we were in danger."
Skylar said nothing as he flipped out his phone and began contacting his sources.
Eunbyul ran through the darkness, ignoring stares. The people didn't notice her anyway. Who would assume that the hooded girl with fresh cuts was a famous person?
She ran into an alley and leapt up footholds onto the roof, leaping her way through to the MBC building's back alley. She snuck into a window and landed in a lounge room. Her sneakers hit the tile with a squeak as she huffed.
Eunbyul noticed people gasp at her entrance, her sleeveles hoodie revealed the fresh cuts, now bleeding bright crimson but she cared less. She stood up and walked out the door without a word, leaving some baffled idols and stylists.
She ran into UKISS's lounge, and flung the doors open. The room was empty, only making her worst nightmare a reality. She wanted to sink into the floor and cry, but she refused to let any water spill from her eyes. She clenched her fists tightly.
Minwoo and Joon suddenly burst into the room with a panicked expression.
"Noona! Some people are saying you came in with-..."
He stared at her appearance with horror as Joon spoke up.
"You're bleeding! What the-"
Her phone rang and Eunbyul put a sharp hand up, silencing the boys. Eunbyul looked at the caller ID and quickly answered the phone. Her hopes lifted as she pressed the answer button.
She hoped it was Kevin. She prayed it was.
"Hello my dear."
A cold voice chilled her spine and crushed her hope.
Eunbyul's grip on the phone tightened as she heard a chuckle.
"Oh? So Skylar did inform you of me? Hardly fair... I didn't get to introduce myself personally. Yet again, I gained info on you without consent. So we are even."
"Where are they?"
"To the point aren't you? So much like you moth-"
"Cut the shit you bastard. I will ask you one last time. Where. Are. They.?"
Minwoo slowly shrunk from the murderous aura around Eunbyul. This was different from his maternal older sister. It was almost suffocating. Joon bit his lip nervously.
"No need to be rude. We will be very well acquainted with each other soon."
His casual tone changed 180 into a heartless voice.
"I have no qualms in slicing your precious little pretty boys' throat and taking their organs for profit. So let's play my way. A game of hide and seek, but there is a catch.... I don't think you will find what you exactly seek. That is.... If you seek it."
The phone line ended and Eunbyul looked downcast at her bracelet.
"He was responsible for the death of Annabelle Lee."
Nothing can stop him.
I can..... Even if it means never seeing them again.
Her heart made the choice. She would die for these people, she wasn't stupid. She knew the chance of making it out alive was nearly nothing.
I'm sorry dad. I can't lose them like I lost mom. They are there because of me, I won't allow it.
"Minwoo? Joon oppa?"
It made him flinch how oddly gentle she suddenly was. Minwoo looked at her, her expression hidden from view.
".... Can you do guys do me a big favor?"
She asked almost attentively as she unclasped the bracelet. Her eyes were distant with a sorrow and determination.
Joon wanted that look on her face to disappear. It made him feel like she was going to disappear for good.
"Can you keep this safe for me? Until I come back?"
Eunbyul gave him the sparkling charm bracelet. Minwoo hesitantly lifted his hand up, and it landed with a soft clink on his palm. Eunbyul took his hand and gently closed it with her cold ones.
Joon kept her hand in place with a pleading look.
"You will come back... Right Lee Eunbyul?"
Eunbyul said nothing as she pulled her hand away, the touch lingered on their hands as she stepped back near the window.
"I have to go."
She gave them a gentle loving smile full of gratitude.
"Joon... Minwoo... Thank you!"
She might never see them again. But it was worth the time getting to know them. She wished she could say goodbye to everyone.
Joon took a quick step to her, but Eunbyul flipped out her pocket knife and struck the light switch with bullet speed. The lights flickered off, and the two were left in the darkness. The last they saw was the unique star like eyes, glowing in the dim moonlight.
Joon quickly ran blindly for the light switch and turned it on. Minwoo looked around. They were alone. The window was wide open, wind blowing in. The wind caressed Minwoo's hair as he looked out into the streets. There was no body, no girl, no sign of Eunbyul.
He swallowed thickly and clenched the bracelet tightly in his hands. Joon looked outside and cursed under his breathe. He was about to run out when Minwoo stopped him.
Joon glared at the kid.
"So what? I'm suppose to wait?!"
Minwoo looked back with mature eyes.
"..... She said she will come back."
Joon almost sighed in despair. That look on her face. It was like a final goodbye. Like she was never going to see them again, like he was never going to see her again. See her alive and smiling or teasing him.
Dead or alive?
Eunbyul stalked through the streets, her hood up, hiding her profile from anyone. A sudden hand grabbed her from the alley and pulled her in. Eunbyul reacted quick and countered the hold, pinning the stranger to the alley's wall, brandishing her flip knife to his throat. The man was tall and muscular, he could have easily pushed her away.
Travis looked down at Eunbyul, his blonde unshaven face grimacing.
Eunbyul's eyes narrowed as she backed away, she flipped her knife back to it's sheath and stared at him cautiously.
Skylar appeared in the shadows near them.
"Come willingly Eunbyul. If you want them saved, you will do as I say."
Eunbyul was rigid. She knew Walker was behind her, blocking her from escape.
"Like wolves cornering a wildcat. How typical of you, dad."
She shoved her knife into her pocket.
"I have your word?"
Father and daughter stared at each other. The silent conversation was crystal clear. Break his word, and he will no longer have a daughter... No longer have a living legacy of his wife. They will be strangers.
"You have my word."
Kevin was in darkness, floating around. He couldn't feel his limbs, he couldn't feel any form of heat or gravity, like he was in a void. He saw a sudden light, a small wispy star seemed to float to him. He felt his hand lift up and the star floated gently to his palm. He heard whispers, multiple whispers everywhere. All inaudible, but benevolent. Cryptic but minuscule. The star was his main focus. It was pleasantly warm as it's blue light seemed to pulse like a heartbeat. It was a good dream for a few moments.... Then everything changed. He felt a strange pressure coming from his hand, compressing the star. The pulsating light seemed to twitch and quiver as it beat faster, it almost looked like it was in pain.
Kevin wanted to stop whatever pain he was causing the bright and pure thing, but his hand wasn't his own.
He heard a soft inhuman shriek emanate from the star.
Stop.... Stop it... STOP!
But he was too late. Powerless.
The star suddenly compressed itself, letting out a final wail before it combusted, turning into a diaphanous miasma of blue glittered mist. The pulse stopped beating.
The odd scene made Kevin want to cry out in pain. It was like he could feel the star's final moments. It made his heart clench painfully. He regained control of his body and quickly cradled the remnants of the pure being. Like fragile crystalline shards, sparkling mournfully in his hand. He heard whispers, louder this time. They were finally forming out a name.
"Kevin..... Kevin.... Kevin."
Why were they calling his name?
He was too distraught to care. All he didnwas cradle the poor star against his own beatin heart, hoping it would revive somehow. Instead the star gave off a strange emotion. He felt the connection between him and the wisp. It seemed to cry with sorrow, pain..... And most of all.... Betrayal.
I'm so sorry.
"Kevin..... Kevin.... KEVIN!"
Kevin gasped as his eyes fluttered open. Heads blurred in his vision until his eyes focused on six other heads. His members looked down at him with worry mixed with relief.
"You were out for a while."
Eli commented as he helped Kevin sit up. They were in a large cell, accompanied by six other white cots, a toilet.... And a screen. A black tinted one way glass was next to the metal bolted door on the concrete wall. Florescent lights flickered as Kevin rubbed his eyes to gain his senses.
"Where are we?"
"I was wondering the same thing. We woke up a few minutes ago."
Soohyun replied as he sat on his bed.
"Is this a hidden camera show?"
Kiseop wondered worriedly. Dongho scoffed at his fatuousness.
"Really? Like they would go this far and use knock out gas."
Kevin became worried. Was she captured too?
Double doors boomed open, everyone looked at the black screen as a small turn was made. The screen reviled a gray haired foreigner, stand almost analytically at them with his cold spectacled eyes.
"Welcome..... I do apologize for the..... Mediocre hospitality. It was the only thing available."
He talked fluent Korean with them as he pulled out a wheel chair.
UKISS glared at him.
"Who the hell are you?"
His flat calculating eyes were impassive at the rude behavior.
"Dr. Victor Fervin Malcolm. Leading genetecist, Phd in Biomechanics, and the world's top war criminal since the 1960s."
He seemed to gloat at that title as he cleaned his horn rimmed spectacles.
"Why did you bring us here? For ransom?"
Soohyun stood as the leader as he glared at the gray man.
Malcolm gave a hollow chuckle as he combed his slick silver hair.
"Ransom? Don't flatter yourselves. I already have profit from..... Other business. You're here because I want to test something."
Kevin was still shaken from his dream.
"Where is Eunbyul?"
Malcolm's cold eyes met his warm ones. They looked at him with a carnivorous zeal.
"Kevin Woo...... You've been quite a problem for me, lover boy."
"Where is she?"
Kevin's soft voice had become hard and demanding.
"She..... Is going to Come here. You are like my little bait."
"What do you want with her?"
"So many questions. So little time. So little patience. Wouldn't you like to know?... Since you are part of my little game. She is... Or will be... My trump card. The joker of my deck. She is Eve of Project Genesis. She will Give rise to a knew generation of soldiers."
Malcolm spoke almost with a glorified passion. His emotions did a 180 and he looked at Kevin with a malevolent joy.
"You have the honor of being a key role in her downfall."
He clicked another button. The corners of their prison produced metal armaments. They charged a cannon and quickly shot a pulse of electricity. UKISS all felt the stun gun affect and yelled in pain.
Malcolm only watched with a smirk as they all fell to the ground.
"What do you mean I'm not coming with you?"
Eunbyul bristled as she stood in the Night Hermes. Skylar looked up at her with stern eyes.
"You are to stay at base under protective confinement. Our mission was clear. To safeguard the final asset."
"You gave me your word."
Eunbyul's eyes widened at the stinging betrayal. The rest of his crew tried to ignore the stand off.
"I am not going back against my word. We will eventually get to your precious boy band. You are our priority."
"THEY ARE MINE!"
Eunbyul's claim echoed through the plane. The squad could here the authority of her voice.
"But they are not mine."
Skylar spoke calmly.
Eunbyul clenched her fists.
"They are there because of me. I have a right to take responsibility for my actions."
His eyes softened.
"..... I will not lose the last of my family."
"THEY ARE MY FAMILY! ALL OF THEM! HE IS THE MAN I LOVE! YOU LOST YOUR LOVE, AND NOW YOU ARE ABOUT TO LET ME LOSE MINE!" She saw the moment of hurt in his eyes but she didn't care.
Eunbyul felt herself go weak. Tears began to form on her eyes as she sat back down. Her hands clawed at her hair. The ring glittered on her neck and she held it against her.
"I didn't even have a chance to tell him I loved him."
She whispered to herself, but Skylar heard it.
Skylar looked at his daughter with an unreadable expression.
"This isn't a game.... This isn't like before. You will have to take lives, or else they will take yours. Can you shoot a man straight through the head, Eunbyul? Can you slice his throat?"
Eunbyul refused to let tears spill as she glared at him.
"I did it once. I will do it again."
This time it was real. No more tranquilizers. No more stunning. Her hands must be tainted once again. She prayed it was the last time.
For the people she loved, she would sacrifice her clean slate. She was going to drench it red if she have to.
She is about to pay a price for these men?
Annabelle's voice seemed to echo.
You were willing to do the same for me....
Skylar frowned. He stood up and kicked something black under his seat, hooking it to his boot. He slid it to Eunbyul's side and it stopped at her feet.
"I said it might be handy again someday."
Eunbyul tapped the black metallic suitcase, and Jacques looked at it wide eyed.
"Isn't that the new model? It wasn't released yet."
Skylar ignored his question and called to Axel.
"Go to coordinates of Ghost Town."
Axel grinned back at them.
John Casey huffed with displeasure at disobeying orders.
"And how are we suppose to explain this back to base?"
"We are simply taking a different route."
Kevin struggled against the restraints on the seat. He was in some sort of medical chair, iron bars holding his body down.
"No use on struggling, Kevin Woo. I have to say, I am quite impressed by your ability to tame her."
Malcolm walked in. He pressed a few buttons, reformatting his seat.
"But then... I didn't want my Eve to be tamed.... I want her to be set free from her cage."
Kevin said nothing as he glared at the man. His bangs were untidy around his face as he struggled again.
"Eve.... The mother of nations. The Downfall of man. How fitting..... Your little romantics were heartfelt, but useless. Human emotions... All of it is useless. Do you know why we are such flawed beings? Compassion. Desire. All those selfish emotions. Ethics. A sense of moral. It is all useless."
He pulled down a newly designed earpiece set.
"Useless.... And I intend to remove it. For her sake.... It's a pity you did not realize the monster you have kept at your feet. Such a waist of time. But you should thank me, I am giving you something more than my usual soldiers.... A little more juice, per say."
The Bluetooth seemed to pulse with a neon red light. Malcolm gently placed it on Kevin's ear.
Kevin suddenly felt nothing but pain, a compression pain, before everything went black.
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