SOSHI: Aesop’s Twisted Fable – Chapter 10

November 12, 2013 in Aesop's Twisted Fable, moonrise31, SOSHI by moonrise31

Chapter 10: Disguise

Disguise: n. A means of altering one’s appearance or concealing one’s identity. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

“Jessi, hurry up,” Tiffany whined from the doorway. “We have to go now.”

Jessica placed her cellphone into her purse. “Calm down, Tiff. It’s not like the address is going to change or something if we don’t get there soon enough.”

Tiffany snorted. “Oh, I don’t care about when we get there to scope the place out. But the pastry shop right across from it closes in like, an hour.” She looked up at the clock on the wall and cleared her throat, impatient.

“Alright, alright.” Jessica rolled her eyes and stood up, slinging her bag over one shoulder. She glanced over the surface of her desk one last time to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. It was mostly bare except for a random notebook and a half-empty coffee mug. Then her eyes continued to the next desk: Yuri’s. The clutter was overwhelming, even though it was mainly just because of the post-its covering every centimeter of free space.

Jessica turned to leave, but a half-hidden note caught her eye:

Install extra security cameras—

She reached out and lifted the post-it on top to read the rest of the scribble. She recognized the name of the college Yuri had written.

“Come on,” Tiffany prodded from behind.

“Yeah, coming.” Jessica let go of the slip of paper and followed Tiffany out the door.

Yuri had discovered the hardest part of the job a long time ago. And now she found herself face-to-face with it once again.

The hardest part wasn’t the four-hour drive to the middle of nowhere, though, because no warehouse was truly off the map. At least, not with the resources Kwon Yuri had at her disposal.

Which meant that it hadn’t been hard to get the blueprints of the warehouse, either. Taeyeon and Sooyoung were studying them now, trying to figure out the best plan of attack. Two gang members had left early that morning, which brought the number of enemies down to four. And since Youngjae was really on their side, the true match-up became an even three-versus-three. And SOSHI had the advantage of surprise.

BAM wouldn’t even know what had hit them.

No, the hardest part was definitely not getting out of the office, even if it meant that Yuri had to go around slashing tires in the wee hours of the morning while the other two had thrown grappling hooks and climbed their way to the warehouse rooftop. The only car she had left alone was the one that had brought Yoona here, because she figured that if it was parked outside, it would be leaving again once the sun was up—and she’d been right.

So she’d focused on hacking the garage door code instead, which wasn’t difficult either. Really, the hardest part of that mission had been opening the door without making too much noise. The rusty hinges made her grimace with every creak, so she’d only lifted the door just enough for her to be able to slip under. Then it was simply a matter of rendering every vehicle in storage incapable of pursuit. She worried briefly that there might be a second garage she wasn’t aware of, but this warehouse was a hideout, not a base.

It made sense to have all the higher-ups here, quite out of reach even for someone keen on finding them. They really only needed a couple in the city to handle everyday operations, after all. So there, in the heart of Seoul, would be where most of the gang’s resources were concentrated. SOSHI had already picked up traces, so it was only a matter of time before they hit the jackpot. In theory, at least.

No, BAM would be fools to store any more modes of transportation way out here, and if the investigation so far had shown Yuri anything, it was that this gang wasn’t made up of fools.

Until they’d made the mistake of taking Yoona.

But Yuri had done all that she could for now. So she took a deep breath, trying to settle herself more comfortably in the back of their all-terrain vehicle, a good half-hour away from the rest of her team. She just had to sit back until Sooyoung gave her the word. And that, therewas the hardest part.

Waiting.

Which led to a lot of thinking—too much thinking.

Thinking about that serial killer so long ago, about Hyoyeon, about BAM’s fatal error in kidnapping a SOSHI member.

It was also my mistake.

She kept these sorts of thoughts to herself most of the time, because saying them out loud didn’t accomplish anything. She didn’t want to be told how it wasn’t her fault, or that she should work on the future instead of dwelling in the past. Because she already knew that there was a lot of room for improvement. Improvement that was written in every word of her post-it notes.

Then her phone lit up, the screen too bright for just a moment in the dimness of the vehicle.

[Jessica] 4:02 PM: If you’re being sad and emo right now, I’ll get angry.

Yuri smiled before she could stop herself.

Waiting might be the hardest part of the job, but it wasn’t so bad, sometimes. Not when she could stop thinking for just a little bit.

When night fell, Taeyeon and Sooyoung made their move.

Yuri had told them that BAM didn’t have any cameras to watch over the place, which would normally be a blessing since the gang had even less of a chance of realizing that they were being invaded until it was too late.

Unfortunately, no security system also meant that Yuri couldn’t hack into it and determine the locations of the four remaining gang members before Taeyeon and Sooyoung entered the building.

A curse in disguise, Sooyoung reflected as they padded lightly down the hallway, hoods up over baseball caps that hid their long hair and facemasks stretched to cover their mouths. They were lucky that Yuri had been able to trace Yoona’s cell signal when Sooyoung had called her earlier that day. Hopefully, she would still be in that room.

The guard sitting across from the door wasn’t Youngjae. He was too busy looking at his phone, so he didn’t notice when a lanky arm reached over from the side and curved into a chokehold around his neck. Moments later, Sooyoung let his unconscious body slump to the floor with a dull thud.

Taeyeon walked over and sat down in the now vacated chair, her gun casually pointed at the gang member’s head. “I’ll keep watch. Go get her.”

Sooyoung nodded and opened the door. “Hey, we’re here.”

The situation didn’t allow for an ecstatic, relieved “oh my gosh thank goodness you came” or even a bone-crushing hug that would take several precious seconds. So Yoona walked out calmly instead and reached out to squeeze Sooyoung’s shoulder in thanks. Then she caught the gun Taeyeon tossed at her.

The older girl motioned for the other two to quicken the pace, a sense of urgency in her hushed tone. “Too much air in his head; he’s already waking up. Go go go.”

The three of them had almost turned the corner when they heard, “Hyung! We’re being attacked! They took the girl!”

Sooyoung turned and fired two shots, but the guard had already made it down the stairs.

“Unnie, what was that for?” Yoona hissed as she pulled open the door with a rusted “ROOF ACCESS” sign.

“Relax,” the other replied as they began their hurried trek up. Any subtlety was thrown aside as each of their rushed steps echoed loudly against the metal stairway. “Just acting the part. Wasn’t actually gonna kill him. We’ve worked way too hard for any of those guys to escape prosecution.”

“As long as you’re the one writing up the report for those two bullets fired,” Taeyeon panted from the rear. “The director’s stingy about that sort of stuff, you know.”

Any more discussion fell away to gasping breaths until the three finally burst into the night air. Yoona glanced around. “Now what?”

“Duck!” Taeyeon answered, pushing the other two’s heads down. Three shots whistled above them and disappeared into the dark.

“Light!” Yoona heard Yongguk yell. Someone from the doorway scrambled and then switched on a flashlight. The beam swept across the rooftop and found a wide-eyed Saebyuk standing in the middle, the tall hooded figure behind her holding a gun to her head.

Yongguk stepped forward, not lowering his own firearm. “Who are you?”

“Don’t come any closer,” Sooyoung told him, voice gruff. She pressed her gun more tightly into Yoona’s temple. “Or she’s gone.”

Saebyuk squeezed her eyes shut.

“Okay, calm down.” Yongguk held up his free hand in a placating gesture. “I just want to know what you want. Why are you here?”

“BAM’s gone far enough,” was all Sooyoung said. She began backing away slowly. Saebyuk stumbled along after her.

Yongguk took another step forward, trying to reason. “What did we do? We never meant to mess with anyone. Tell us what’s wrong and we’ll try to fix it.”

“What’s wrong,” Sooyoung replied, switching tones, “is that there’s three of us and only one of you.”

Even in the sparse lighting, Yongguk’s confused expression was clear as day. “What do you—”

The door behind him slammed shut. The rooftop was drenched in darkness once more. The other BAM members shouted and rammed against the metal, but a bar had been wedged through the handle to prevent it from opening again.

Yongguk spun around and ran right into Taeyeon’s fist. He dropped like a stone.

“That’s for hitting Yoona,” Taeyeon muttered. Then she hooked her arms under his and pulled the gang leader into a sitting position. “Here, help me.”

“What’re you planning, unnie?” Yoona asked as she walked over and lifted Yongguk’s feet.

“I was just thinking,” Taeyeon replied, “that we should start taking leaps and bounds instead of baby steps. Now come on. Yuri’s waiting.”

Half an hour later, the door finally fell, its hinges unscrewed. Himchan ran out, sweeping his flashlight beam across the entire area.

“Where’s Yongguk-hyung?” Daehyun came up behind him, gun drawn.

“He’s…gone.” Himchan frowned. “What the hell? They took him too?”

“Hyung,” Youngjae called, pointing his own flashlight at the ground. “What’s this?”

The other two looked down, noticing the newest edition to their rooftop for the first time.

Himchan examined the wings on either side of the image: white and large, spreading as if they could fly around the entire world in a single beat. The bold blue strokes against a swirling red background. The single number that those strokes outlined.

Daehyun read it out loud, his voice soft and almost reverent.

“Nine.”

“Mission success,” Jessica reported, looking up from her phone. “Even plus one.”

Tiffany raised her eyebrows and took a sip of her tea. “Picked up an extra passenger? This should be interesting.”

“Finally, we might be getting somewhere.” Jessica let out a long exhale and leaned back in her chair. The wind blew, although not unpleasantly. She glanced across the street at the small tea shop that apparently held all the secrets to the CCM case. “Here’s hoping this one starts to crack too.”

Tiffany nodded and took another bite of her tart.

Jessica tilted her head, blinked, and then turned back to face the other woman again. “Hold on. You said this place closed like…four hours ago.”

“Whoops, silly me.” Tiffany shrugged, flashing a smile as she chewed. “Must’ve gotten it mixed up with the other pastry shop…somewhere else in this city.”

“Right.” Jessica snorted and crossed her arms. “So we’ve been sitting here for four hours and nothing’s happened. I could’ve taken my sweet time back at the office and still wouldn’t have missed anything by the time I got here.”

Tiffany waved her fork. “It just took you four hours to realize that I lied to you. If I hadn’t, you probably would’ve taken so much time that you would’ve gone backwards into the past. And then you’d be sleeping or something.”

“But that’s also in my future, isn’t it?” Jessica pointed out sweetly. She reached over and took a piece of pastry, and then pouted slightly when she realized that Tiffany hadn’t noticed.

The other woman was too busy staring at the tea shop. Jessica turned to look as well, swallowing her pilfered bite as she did so. Her eyes widened slightly. “Wait a second…isn’t that…”

Tiffany opened her mouth, but she couldn’t speak. The shock of seeing the person now standing across the street from them was too much—especially since, as far as Tiffany knew, that person was still lying comatose in a hospital bed on the other side of Seoul.

Finally, she choked out a single name.

“Ryuhwa?”

An alternate definition—

Disguise: n. Layers upon layers upon layers. Will the truth still be there when the rest is gone?