Asleep Are the Dogs: Chapter 9

June 21, 2013 in Asleep Are the Dogs, moonrise31 by moonrise31

If you play your cards right, a dog in the bush is worth two on a leash.

Chapter 9: Of Multitasking and General (Organized) Chaos

“What the hell?” Yoona heard Sunny hissing in her ear. “It’s ‘go to the next level’, not ‘level up’. We want to move the game along, not let him get stronger.”

Whatever, Yoona mouthed to herself as she rolled her eyes. She wished she could turn off the radio, but cutting off communications was probably not the smartest thing to do. It still took everything she had to refrain from retorting, since Sunny was just around the corner and so definitely within earshot, but that meant that the two on the other side of the door would also be able to hear.

Delicate situation. Yoona reminded herself. I need to handle this delicately.

“Screw this up and you’re dead,” Jessica’s voice deadpanned.

Right. Yoona winced as a chill ran down her spine, and she silently reminded herself that Jessica was actually back at Taeyeon’s office, not right next to her and breathing down her neck. She cleared her throat. “I know you guys are in there.”

“Nice to meet again so soon, Yoona-ssi,” Ahn finally replied, sounding amused. “Forgive our silence, but we’re just trying to piece together what exactly you mean.”

“Speak for yourself, please,” Taeyeon interjected. “I’m already on the same page, so read a little faster, if you could, Tisong-ssi.”

“This is all just a game to you, isn’t it?” Yoona elaborated, wondering how much Ahn already did have pieced together. “I think it’s time to advance. You either keep playing, or everything stops here.”

“What are you suggesting?” His voice wasn’t really what Yoona would describe as “creepy” or “malicious”; he wasn’t even amiable in the sophisticated villain sort of way. To be honest, he sounded exactly as he did when she and Sunny had dropped by his apartment just that morning: a normal guy with normal interests and maybe a little bit of an Internet addiction, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Now, she was kicking herself. Repeatedly.

He played us, she thought bitterly, gritting her teeth. And I’ll just about blow up a building myself if he does it again. She opened her mouth. “Give us Taeyeon, or we’ll stop. We’ll end your game right now.”

“Yuri, you there yet?” Yoona heard Tiffany ask.

Back at Taeyeon’s office, the hacker was busy scanning the various feeds from surveillance cameras inside the hospital. Yuri’s response came in from a separate line: “Yeah, we’re in.” Tiffany found the correct video and watched Yuri approach the front desk and inform the receptionist that orders be damned, there were patients that needed to be evacuated right this instant. “Start with the intensive care ward.”

“I suppose Ahn had a reason for somehow getting Yuri pulled off-duty after that bombing last week,” Jessica commented as she leaned over to peek at Tiffany’s computer.

The other woman nodded without turning. “She was treating victims of his bombs on the border. Maybe he was afraid she’d figure out it was him.” Her eyes remained glued to the white-coated figure on camera.

Yuri had overcome the receptionist’s weak protests quite easily. The doctor then looked over her shoulder, beckoning to someone off-screen, and Seohyun joined her a moment later. The younger girl leaned over the desk and took over the receptionist’s microphone, announcing an emergency evacuation procedure over the hospital’s loudspeakers.

“Please remain calm and listen carefully. There is no need to panic. An orderly evacuation can still be achieved in a timely manner.” Seohyun’s soft but commanding voice seemed to instill enough confidence in the hospital’s occupants for the bustle to quiet down, people staring up at the speakers with rapt attention.

An older man burst into the waiting area. “What the hell is going on here?” Yuri noted with some amusement that his ears were turning redder by the second, and she barely managed to keep a straight face as he continued to sputter in indignation. “Doctor Kwon? You have explicit orders to stay off the premises, and who in the world is this—”

“We can discuss who should be where at another time, Director,” Yuri interrupted calmly even as Seohyun continued to give orders in the background. “But right now, there is only one place we all should be, and it’s outside this building, after which the hospital should be sealed off and the appropriate measures taken to deal with an unidentified pathogen infiltrating through the ventilation.”

His eyes managed to bulge even more out of his head; Tiffany could clearly see the whites on her computer screen. She held back a snicker and turned her attention to Jessica. “How’s it going with Ahn?”

Jessica wordlessly unplugged her headphones and turned the volume of her walkie-talkie up, letting Yoona’s voice crackle into the room.

“That’s the deal.”

“It doesn’t seem to be very much of a deal, if you ask me,” Ahn replied, and Yoona imagined him shrugging carelessly, as if there weren’t hundreds of lives in the balance, depending on a mere whim. His mere whim. “What do you say, Doctor Kim?”

“I think it’s a pretty amazing deal,” Taeyeon retorted, no doubt with raised eyebrows—her look that, usually when directed at Yoona, said something like, “Stop being in denial and just admit it. Admit that you ate the last kimbap in the mini fridge under your desk.” Except in Ahn’s case, it was probably a little less about food and a lot more about his psyche. “And you know it.”

Taeyeon had him figured out, Yoona was sure, and so were the rest of the girls. After all, their confidence in the success of this plan depended on it. Trust Taeyeon-unnie? That’s one thing that I can always do. She sighed, as if she were exasperated with the speed at which Ahn was catching onto things. “Want me to say it again? You give us Taeyeon-unnie and your beloved remote, and we won’t call the authorities on you right now.”

“As if tattling on me to the government will do anything,” Ahn scoffed. “One press of this button and poof—all those poor, innocent lives. Gone.”

“I told you before that I’m not a threat,” Taeyeon reminded him. “But will you really take my word for it? If it’s keeping a remote out of your hands, I’ve got more than enough experience: growing up with two other siblings and three different tastes in TV shows ended up building character in ways you’ll never imagine.”

“I was giving you the benefit of the doubt, Doctor Kim,” Ahn replied easily, although Yoona hoped that it was doubt that was beginning to edge into his casual tone. “But even if you did somehow manage to wrestle this away from me, I can’t believe that you all would just willingly hand over everything for others to take care of.”

Yoona allowed herself a smirk. Bingo. “And what makes you think that we won’t? Unlike you, we don’t have a problem with ending the game before it gets good. But that’s something you can’t let happen, can you?” Her voice began to rise. “You singled us out as your opponent? So be it. But you played your trump card too soon, Tisong-ssi, and we won’t hesitate to call it quits. It’s no fun when you’re the only one playing, is it?”

There was a slight pause before he spoke up again. “I’m already dancing circles around the authorities in my sleep. Yoona-ssi wouldn’t really leave me bored again, would she?”

“That’s your decision,” Yoona replied firmly. “You don’t give us Taeyeon-unnie, we hand this situation over to the authorities. You press that button, we call ‘em in as well. The choices are quite clear, I think.”

“And what,” Ahn inquired, “would happen if I were to just press this button—right now?” His voice had fallen back into its comfortable cadence. “No offense in the least, Doctor Kim, but I think I could keep the remote out of your reach long enough for that to happen.”

“It’s not as if I haven’t dealt with tall people before,” Taeyeon huffed.

Yoona tried not to crack a grin, if only because Taeyeon would somehow know she had and make her pay for it later. She swallowed a snicker and warned, “As soon as you do, we’ll let the South Korean Special Forces in and you’re done for.”

“Special forces,” Ahn repeated, sounding as if he were humoring a child. “I wonder if I should call your bluff.”

“Try us,” Yoona shot back. “You’re the one who’s been stalking us to no end. You know we have the resources.”

A pause. “What about all those innocents back at the hospital, then? I assure you that what I’ve got stored over at intensive care is of the incredibly nasty variety. Call in your backup, whatever it is. It won’t change the fact that all those lives will be seriously affected, if not worse.”

“What’s more important to you?” Yoona challenged. “Making them suffer and winning by default, or winning against us the hard way?”

Silence fell once more, and Yoona almost jumped when Jessica spoke up. “Special forces, huh?”

“And you said you couldn’t act, Yoong,” Tiffany chimed in. “Although I guess Minyoung-ssi and her friends are close enough to special forces.”

Jessica snorted. “Being a bodyguard for the president is a bit different. Oh, I should probably tell her.” She leaned forward and flipped the switch on her radio. “Unnie, stand by, please. Though I don’t think you’ll be needed.”

“Sounds good,” was the reply. “Just tell us when, Sica.”

“Special forces,” Jessica muttered again. “Where does that girl come up with these things? If he calls our bluff we’re dead.”

“That was scriptwriting genius,” Tiffany corrected, lifting a hand to her headphones. “And he’s still stalling or something. Let’s check on Yuri and the others.” She watched as a young woman in a wheelchair was pushed past the camera’s field of vision, Hyoyeon perfectly in step and chatting animatedly while guiding the IV drip attached to the patient.

“That’s the last one in intensive care,” Sooyoung told Yuri, who nodded and gave Seohyun a thumbs-up. The youngest leaned into the microphone once more and instructed floor seven to begin evacuation.

“I can’t believe it,” Tiffany murmured as she watched the orderly stream of people exiting the hospital. “We might actually pull this off.”

“Nine heads are better than one,” Jessica said, fitting her headset over her ears again and listening intently to Yoona’s conversation.

“Very well.”

“Uh?” Yoona quickly recovered from her surprise at his abrupt agreement, managing to suppress her stutter. “It’s a deal then?”

To her chagrin, he made no effort to hold back his chuckle at her verbal stumble. “It’s a deal, Yoona-ssi. I give you Doctor Kim and the remote, you let me walk out of here in peace, and the game will continue.”

Yoona felt the butterflies flutter in her stomach. Did we do it? She steadied her voice. “Very well. First, hand over the remote to Doctor Kim. Then unlock the door and both of you can walk out of here.”

“Thank you,” she heard Taeyeon say, and she assumed her first demand had been met. She let a relieved exhale escape quietly from her nose before stepping back into the shadows as the doorknob turned.

Ahn emerged from the room, his gaze finding hers after a few moments. He gave her a cheerful smile and waved before heading down the hallway, nodding to Sunny, who was standing just around the corner, as he passed.

Yoona couldn’t resist enveloping Taeyeon in a tight hug despite the therapist’s strained protests. “Yoong—nice to—you too—air—I need.”

Sunny, meanwhile, watched as Ahn reached the door. Her fingers itched for a weapon to train at his back, but she no longer had access to a gun and Jessica apparently frowned upon such things. So she could only clench her fists when he turned back to look at her, his grin widening. “Lieutenant Lee, it’s been a pleasure.”

“Not sure I can say the same,” Sunny replied curtly.

He shrugged. “Fair enough.” He began to face forward again, one step out of Yuri’s practice, but then he added, “I’d tell your friends down at Jongno that they’ve got six minutes, by the way.”

What?” Sunny almost roared, eyes flaring, thumb already pressed down on her walkie-talkie to call in Park Minyoung and her team. Not that they would be of much help if Sunny got to Ahn first.

“Stand down, Lieutenant.” He lifted a hand, although Sunny didn’t know whether it was a calming gesture or in farewell. “The deal was that I hand over the remote. There was nothing about deactivating any programs I had installed prior, which includes the one that automatically triggers the pathogen’s release after a certain time frame.” He glanced down at his watch. “Five minutes and thirty-two seconds, now.” His last words thudded in her ears like the aftermath of an explosion. “And tell Yoona-ssi that I’ve already ‘leveled up’, but thanks for the thought. Let’s meet again, Lieutenant.”

Sunny stood still for one entire second after the door swung closed. Then she swore loudly. “Jessica, did you—”

“On it,” the other woman interrupted, staring over Tiffany’s shoulder as the latter finished frantically relaying the message to Yuri.

“Five minutes?” The doctor nodded and turned back to look at the camera, giving the two on the other side a reassuring smile. “No worries. That’s more than enough.”

“Floor two, please approach the stairway,” Seohyun said. “Attending personnel, please assist those who need it and make use of the elevator if necessary.”

“Doctor Kwon!” A younger nurse rushed towards them, his eyes wide with panic. “We’ve still got a situation on floor three.”

Yuri frowned and spoke into her radio. “Soo, Hyo, you guys still on third?”

“I got it,” Sooyoung immediately replied. “There was a bit of a collision. One patient needs a new oxygen tank but we’re getting one.”

Getting or still looking for one?” Yuri asked even as she sprinted off, the nurse right behind. “Seohyun, hold the elevators. We need ‘em since the stairs will be full.”

Seohyun’s order echoed above their heads as Yuri practically smashed the “up” button, glancing at her watch as she did so. Four minutes. A moment later, the elevator dinged and the two scrambled in, the nurse hitting “3” on the panel inside. They arrived seconds later.

“Why is there no tank for this gentleman?” Yuri demanded as she stalked towards the cluster of people in an otherwise deserted hallway.

“This floor is out,” the nurse who had followed her explained as he tried to catch his breath. “The main storage is on fifth.”

“Stay calm, Yuri,” she muttered to herself. “Focus. You can do this.” She turned to Sooyoung, who had just emerged from one of the now empty rooms. “Soo! Take this man back down the elevator now. We’ve only got,” she looked at her watch, “a little more than three minutes.”

Sooyoung frowned, but grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and began pushing. “Did it not work with Ahn?”

“No idea,” Yuri answered truthfully. “But frankly, I don’t care right now. We need to get everyone out.”

“He needs his own tank,” the nurse insisted. “The entire hospital is gonna be sealed off, and we don’t know how long it is til we can get supplies from elsewhere.”

“He’ll be taken care of,” Yuri replied briskly. “Get him down, and the rest of the patients that’re still inside.” She silently thanked her heavens when Seohyun announced the evacuation of the first floor. “I’ll go up to fifth and grab the extra tanks.” She made a shooing gesture at the two other orderlies hovering uncertainly on the side. “Go! All of you. There are helpful places you can be right now.” Then she ran off to the nearest stairway, taking the steps two at a time.

When she arrived at the fifth floor, she paused. “Yuri, where’s the main storage?” She groaned. “Come on, think. Think.” She snapped her fingers when she remembered the words the nurse had shouted after her. “Right, he said it was in the east wing. You really should get his name; he’s a good kid.”

Her pounding footsteps echoed loudly on the polished linoleum, and she let out a breathless cheer when she arrived at the room. The clock hanging on the wall was unfortunately accurate. Two minutes.

She grabbed the two nearest tanks, cursing when she banged her shin on one of them. “Who the hell made these things so heavy?” She grumbled as she shuffled back the way she’d come. “Okay, Yuri, elevator, or stairs? Five flights down, but lugging this—okay, elevator.” She hit the “down” arrow with her elbow, tapping her feet as the seconds ticked away.

Ding.

She set one tank carefully on the floor before proceeding to repeatedly jam the “close” button. The doors finally slid shut and her slow descent downward was almost maddening. As soon as the elevator arrived on the ground floor, she was ready to bolt. Thirty seconds.

“Unnie!” Seohyun was waiting when the doors opened, immediately leaning in to grab one of the oxygen tanks. The two made a beeline for the main entrance of the hospital.

“Everyone’s out, right?” Yuri managed to ask as they passed the abandoned receptionist’s desk.

“They’re all outside,” Seohyun assured her. “Unnie, watch out for that—”

Yuri yelped in surprise as she stepped into a puddle of juice, slipping around for a few precious seconds before regaining her balance. “I’ll take that as a sign that the custodians have evacuated as well,” she managed lamely, and Seohyun gave her a sympathetic laugh.

“Hurry up, you slowpokes! We don’t have all day,” Sooyoung bellowed from the exit, holding the door open. “Five seconds, come on!”

Go, unnie!” Seohyun managed the last few steps before shoving Yuri out of the building. The doctor stumbled onto the pavement and into Sooyoung’s arms. Then Hyoyeon was beside her and taking the oxygen tank away, so she turned and promptly smacked into Seohyun diving out of the entrance just as the door slid shut with a final hiss. The three women fell to the pavement in a tangle of arms and legs.

“My nose,” Yuri groaned as she sat up. “Maknae, was that your elbow or the tank?”

Seohyun managed to get up, wincing as she rubbed her knee. “You shouldn’t just stand in the doorway, unnie, especially when we’re trying to evacuate. That’s just bad judgment.”

“Good thing you got this extra tank,” Sooyoung commented as she stumbled to her feet. “I think I might need the oxygen now. The next time you two decide to go barreling around and knocking the breath out of people, remind me to not be in the line of fire–” She let out a small shriek as all three of them were suddenly pulled into a giant hug.

“Hey, kids.” Hyoyeon’s grin was contagious, and the others found themselves smiling as the relief of the situation finally sunk in.

“We did it.”