That was the name of the government program Jungkook learned from his mother. She didn’t want to reveal the information to him, but he managed to convince her with a lot of prodding and bunny aegyo.
Now that he knew… he wished he hadn’t. He doesn’t know what to think anymore.
It shocked him that his mother – he learned that his father disagreed to this wholeheartedly – agreed to have Jungyoon participate in it without her consent. He couldn’t understand the reasoning behind his mother’s action… that is, until he learned the amount of compensation his family would receive in return.
It appalled him that his mother traded his twin’s youth and innocence for 500 billion won just because Jungyoon wasn’t as talented as him. All of that money for an experimental test that may or may not work. All because he wanted to become an idol, and they couldn’t afford various expenses that came with it.
The name disgusted him.
He didn’t need or want his sister to become a super soldier so that he could achieve his dream. He didn’t want her to trade away her innocence and youth for him. He didn’t want her to trade anything for him.
“I’m not sure about the details, but after they selected her, she changed drastically. I overheard them saying that they want her to be efficient enough to handle at least a small country’s army alone.”
He couldn’t believe that he didn’t notice the changes back then. He was so busy with his lessons that he didn’t see the changes in Jungyoon. What kind of brother was he?
He had so many questions buzzing in his mind after he heard that remark, but the main ones were, ‘Why didn’t Jungyoon mention anything about this at all?’ and ‘Why would the government approve of this?’
If he knew about any of this, he would have waited a couple of years – or even as long as he needed – to achieve his dream. He wouldn’t have sold his sister to the government for money. It appalled him that he unintentionally used his sister to get to where he was today.
“What have I done? I’m supposed to protect her, but…”
“Hey, Jungyoon-ie…” He paused his game and looked at his sister lying on his bed with a cellphone in hand. He doesn’t know what she was doing on her phone, but she seemed to be paying attention since he heard a nonsensical noise from her. So, he continued, “I heard from mom about Project Sigma.”
“Uh-huh. What about it?”
He blinked momentarily to compose himself from her nonchalant response, and then finally said, “I’m so sorry… I never wanted you to – I should’ve known…” sullenly with his head bowed.
He doesn’t know what he could say to her to apologize for everything she went through or do to make up for her lost childhood because of Project Sigma. Even if he found something to make up for it, he knew that it would never be enough.
“It’s already in the past.”
Jungkook stared at her, unsure of what to say when he heard her reply and simply looked at in stupefied manner when he saw her teasing smirk. He only snapped out of it when he heard a loud click of a camera shutter.
He wasn’t even mad that she took that picture.
“What can you tell me about it? Like, what did they do?”
He watched as she sat up from her spot, and replaced her phone with a pillow. He waited patiently as she inhaled and exhaled with her eyes closed, as if she was readying herself to revisit those memories. He doesn’t want her to go through it again, but he wanted to know… no, he needed to know.
“Project Sigma… a program approved by the government and sponsored by United Nations to seek out seven individuals to be their special security personnel. The selection was through rigorous entrance exam, where they chose only top ten scorers from each division – Assault, Interrogative, Information, Logistics, Medical, Research, and Noncombative. Each selected individual goes through arduous training courses that encompassed every division in the academy, and undergoes an exclusive training regime specialized for each person. In short, they strive to make each selected individual an all-rounder, and not specialized in one field.”
“Why do they want that? Weren’t you guys just kids?” He couldn’t help but asked.
“It’s exactly because we were kids." He didn't understand what Jungyoon meant, but he let finish with the explanation before he interrupted her with more questions. "They wanted to create a committee with best armed detectives and lawyers to counter any nation's laws. To put it simply, they created the team for show their powers to criminals. That's why, law enforcements, who already knew what we can do, are afraid of us because we can be more efficient than them – both in terms of the speed of our arrests and the accuracy of our information."
"What..." Jungkook didn't know what to say in response. He had a difficult time trying to process the information, and even more difficult time in trying to understand why the government would select kids for this kind of thing. "They made kids learn how to use weapons? How to fire a firearm? To go against criminals?"
He tried to control his expression when his sister gave a shrug in response. He didn't want to imagine what she – as a pre-teenager – had to face and the hardship she had to endure for his sake. He knew no number of apologies he uttered would compensate for it, and he could only imagine trying to make up for her lost times for the rest of his life.
“You live and learn how to survive through this madness. The only consolidation is that we have a rule not to kill, even if we do know how, and our uniforms are bulletproof.”
“That doesn’t mean that they won’t kill you. You could still get stabbed, poisoned, and all these other things. This is very dangerous, Jungyoon. Can’t you quit?” Jungkook continued pleadingly with a worried look on his face. “I’ve made enough money for you to live comfortably.”
He couldn’t decipher the meaning behind her smile. As much as he wanted to know its meaning, he feared the answer especially when he heard her say, “If I quit now, everything will be the same as before. The only reason people remotely know me is because of my title as one of ICJ’s armed detectives and my skills as one. If you take that away from me… The sole reason I joined this program was because I don’t want to be in your shadows, Jungkook.”
He narrowed his eyes when he caught the hidden meaning between her words, and retorted with a, “We both know that you are just as talented as I am. We share the same DNA.”
“That may be, but we both know who our dearest mother favored more. Don’t you know that was the reason why she signed me up for Project Sigma? She wanted you to have the best of the best, and learn from best of the best so that you could live your dream.”
“That doesn't mean I should use you. I never wanted to use you to get here, Jungyoon… If I had known…”
“There’s nothing you could’ve done. Mother always get what she wants.” She answered in a whisper. “You got her stubborn streak in you, after all.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“I know, oppa. I know.”
Somehow, he got the feeling from her tone that she wasn’t telling him everything… things she felt he wasn’t ready to hear.
Jungyoon huffed a sigh as she laid upside down on the couch while she scrolled through her phone. She was in a spacious living room of a new condominium that her brother and his group members recently moved to.
A spacious four bedrooms, three bathrooms luxurious condominium with extra tight security system. Not to mention, it cost the group a very shiny coin for all these features, especially when ICJ’s Information Division managed the security system. Of course, no one knew about the last detail because this happened to be one of the side jobs that the Information Division does.
“How do you find time to manage a building?” She typed in her group chat of her team. It was mildly curious considering she barely managed to find time to do anything with her workload. Then again, it could also be her fault because she kept procrastinating with her paperwork.
Who liked doing paperwork, anyways?
“I just need to check in occasionally. It’s not that hard, and my tenants are good. Besides, we all know that the seven of us won’t live long anyways, especially when they injected us with that serum to enhance our abilities. I want my family to be financially secure when that time comes.”
‘Trust him slap reality to my face. I wanted to forget about it.’ Jungyoon sighed as she lowered her phone and put an arm over her eyes.
She knew about that, but she doesn’t want to think about it. She doesn’t want to know how her family would fair when that day comes… That was why she was so passionate with her opening statement a few days ago. She knew the feeling and the agony of not being able to live to experience those special events.
‘The seven members of Sigma… the R-Rank members who experienced hell and lived to tell the tale… it’ll be a miracle if we managed to live to 25 with what they've done to us.’
“Jungyoon, what are you doing? Are you okay?”
She snapped out of her musing when she heard her brother’s voice, and peered at his concerned expression.
“I’m fine. Just thinking for a moment. What’s up?” She replied with a smile, trying to throw him off while she righted herself.
She could tell that he wanted to question and asked for clarification, but it seemed he opted not to when he asked, “The guys and I are thinking of going to swimming pool on the third floor. Do you want to come with?”
“Eh, sure.” Jungyoon shrugged nonchalantly before she let out a sly teasing grin. “I suppose that gives me permission to take your pictures and auction them off to your fans. Think of how much I could make within minutes.”
“You can’t rip off our fans like that.” Jungkook protested.
“But they’d love seeing your shirtless pictures.”
“This is our private time. You can’t go around taking those pictures, Jungyoon.”
She simply laughed in response when she heard his whines while following her to their shared bedroom. She knew he knew she was playing with him, and doesn’t mind following up with her mindless banter. It took her mind off the seriousness she realized from her conversation with one of her group members, if only for a moment.
‘Please... I want to make these moments last longer.’ She pleaded inwardly.