Damocles Overthrown: Chapter 13

September 12, 2015 in Damocles Overthrown, moonrise31 by moonrise31

13. Who is to say, after all, that he couldn’t have taken that sword by the hilt and plucked it from the ceiling?

“Hello?”

Sunny glanced up, watching as Yoona, holding a phone to her ear, frowned at the voice on the other end of the line. Sunny tilted her head, straining to catch the end of the garbled static two meters away.

What? Unnie, you have to be — you’re not joking?” Yoona set the phone down on a nearby end table and turned the speaker mode on.

Hyoyeon’s slightly staticky words filled the room. “Why would I be joking?” She lowered her voice then, but agitation still colored her tone. “All of Taeng’s stuff literally went up in smoke, and now she’s just sitting on my couch listening to her moping music. This is not a laughing matter.”

“Okay, calm down,” Sunny interrupted. “What exactly happened?”

“Some kitchen fire in the bar underneath her studio,” Hyoyeon answered. “But I’m calling bullshit. It’s way too convenient. They had to have known that we weren’t there yet, but they set fire to it anyway. They’re still trying to threaten us.”

“Warning us to stay in line,” Yoona murmured. She glanced at Sunny. “So what do we do, unnies?”

“I can’t go with you guys to Woolen tonight,” Hyoyeon said. “I…um, well, I should hang out with Taeng. Go buy her some paint or something.”

Yoona chewed her lip. “Do you think Yuri-unnie and I can just go alone?”

“Take Sunny with you.”

Sunny choked. “What?”

“Tiffany and Seohyun are out of the question — they’ve moved around too much already,” Hyoyeon reasoned. “Taeyeon and I can’t now, either. I’ve seen Sooyoung run, and it’s not pretty. And Jessica is honestly gonna fall asleep on the job. So we’re left with you.”

“Gee, you sure know how to make a person feel appreciated.” Sunny rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll go. How exactly do you propose I sneak out of here, then? They’re probably still watching us, and Yoona’s the only one here who could plausibly leave. If I go with her, that’ll just make everything suspicious again.”

Hyoyeon hummed. Then, she snapped her fingers. “Oh, Yoong, you like food, right?”

Yoona blinked. “What kind of question is that, unnie?”

“Great!” Sunny could hear Hyoyeon’s grin, which was exactly why she knew she was now in big trouble. “Because I have an idea.”

Yoona huffed, letting the handle of the cooler drop to the floor of her apartment. She’d felt her phone vibrate while she had been driving, and so now she reached in her pocket to pull it out.

[8:45 PM] Yuri: Maknae said Hwanhee can get us in for 90 minutes. She’ll keep a door open and run blank footage for all of the security cameras. We just need to give her the go-ahead

Yoona nodded, tossing her phone on the counter as she tried to step forward, almost tripping over the cooler in front of her. She winced, bending down to flip open the lid. “Whoops. Sorry, unnie.”

Sunny sat up, breathing deeply as she glared. “I. Am. Going. To. Murder. Both of you.”

Yoona shrugged. “Hey unnie, you agreed, right? And Hyoyeon-unnie wasn’t even sure you had a cooler big enough. Or one with wheels, even. So you really only have yourself to blame. At least you had air holes?”

“One day, I’m going to buy a cooler big enough to stuff you in it,” Sunny grumbled. Then she froze. “Yoong, how do you know that they haven’t been to your apartment and, I don’t know, bugged it or something?”

Yoona shrugged. “I haven’t actually been back here in more than eight months. Usually I live on or near set, so they’re more likely to have rigged the trailer I’ve been living in or something. And they sent the threat letter there, so even though they probably do know my permanent address, I don’t think they would’ve bothered. Anyway, of all the risks we’re taking today, this one is the least of our worries.”

“I seem to be hearing that phrase a lot these days,” Sunny sighed. She stepped out of the cooler and stretched her arms towards the ceiling. “So what’s the plan–” A hoodie thrown in her face muffled the end of her question.

“Put that on, please,” Yoona said, already pulling another hoodie over her own head.

Once they had sufficiently disguised themselves, Yoona beckoned Sunny over to a side door. “We’re going to leave through my neighbor’s apartment.”

Sunny eyed the door. “Your rooms are connected?”

Yoona shrugged. “This building used to be a hotel, and they had some of the units connected for families and friends to be closer, I guess. But now this rent is cheaper, and I’m friends with the neighbor — we don’t mind each other walking in and out whenever. Neither of us are actually around much, anyway.” She opened the door a crack and peeked through. “She’s not even in. Let’s go, unnie.”

“We’re still right next door though,” Sunny pointed out. “If they’re watching your door, I don’t know if this is enough distance.”

Yoona turned to grin. “Which is why we’re going out the back.” She spun around and practically skipped to the window, throwing it open and stepping onto the fire escape.

“Couldn’t we have just done this from your room…?” Sunny followed, glancing down and noticing that Yoona was already halfway down the stairs.

“Her stairs are less creaky,” Yoona answered over her shoulder as she jumped off the last step. “Hurry up, unnie!” She hopped from one foot to the other. “Yuri-unnie won’t wait forever.”

“I’m starting to think this is more of a game to you than anything,” Sunny muttered as she made her way down the staircase. “Are you a kid or something?”

“You’re just jealous of my invincible youth,” Yoona shot back. Then she held out a hand, smile still wide. “Come on, unnie!”

Sunny had never felt so thankful for Seoul’s abundant night life — the two of them slipped effortlessly into the throngs still crowding the streets. Yoona pulled the older woman a little closer, bending down slightly to murmur in Sunny’s ear. “Seohyun said that Hwanhee will have one maintenance door unlocked for us when we get there. We’ll meet up with Yuri-unnie and then get inside, and then we’ll have ninety minutes before all of the security systems get back up.”

“Great,” Sunny said gloomily. “I can’t see how this will go wrong at all.”

Yoona laughed, squeezing the other’s hand in her own. “Cheer up, unnie! Isn’t that your name?”

“Even the sun can be covered by clouds,” Sunny muttered, but she managed a stronger smile as they approached the looming tower of Woolen Incorporated.

Luckily, the road by the entrance they were to use was still rather busy, giving them enough space to stand across the street and regroup. Yoona squinted into the passing crowd. “Hey, is that Yuri-unnie?”

“Yes,” Sunny said as Yuri jogged up to them, also in a dark hoodie and baseball cap.

Yoona waved. “Hey, unnie. Are you ready?”

“Well, they didn’t exactly teach this in lifeguard training, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel at least a little bit cool.” Yuri pulled the cap brim lower over her eyes. “I totally look like a K-Pop idol trying to hide from the public, right?”

Sunny looked up from her phone. “Okay, let’s get this over with. Seohyun said our time starts now.”

It took them a few precious minutes to weave their way to the other side. Yuri reached the door first, holding it open for Sunny and Yoona to slip in. She glanced behind them, but saw no curious eyes, and so followed after, the door shutting softly behind her.

“Okay.” Yoona lowered her voice once they were inside. “Maknae gave me this map, so do you guys see any rooms that might hide super secret things?”

Yuri leaned over to take a closer look, but then Sunny dragged them both by the elbows around the corner. “We still have to be careful,” she reminded them. “People might be working late, and there are definitely still custodians and security guards still around.”

“A file room would be a good place to start,” Yoona murmured. “Even if it’s secret negotiations or something, they’ve got to have some sort of documentation, right?”

Sunny checked the timer on her phone. “Well, we have eighty-four minutes to find out.”

The file room was outlined as a conveniently labeled, long thin rectangle on the blueprint. Unfortunately, it was also on the opposite side of the building. The next ten minutes involved a lot of ducking behind corners and rushing across hallways, freezing at the slightest echo of heels clicking on linoleum or the swish of a custodian’s mop.

When they finally reached the file room, Yuri slumped against the wall. “I think I just lost five years of my life.”

Sunny nodded, turning the doorknob. Thanks to Hwanhee, the usual blinking red light on the keypad stayed dark, allowing the door to swing open easily. Once it had shut again, Yoona reached along the wall to feel for the switch and flick on the lights.

Yuri exhaled at the aisle after aisle of files facing them. “So…where do you want to start?”

Eventually, she and Yoona decided to take either end and make their way to Sunny, who began in the middle. They began scanning shelves, pulling out files to flip through them. Several minutes in, Yuri groaned. “I think that’s the sixth paper cut I’ve inflicted on myself.”

Yoona sighed and let her forehead thud against the shelf in front of her. “There’s got to be a faster way. How much time do we have left, Sunny-unnie?”

“Just a little over an hour.”

“Hey, what’s this door?” Yuri had made her way to the back of the room, and was now waving them over. She gestured at the sign above the knob. “It says ‘boiler room’, but seems like an odd place to have one, doesn’t it?”

Yoona frowned, glancing down at the sheet of paper in her hands. “This room isn’t in the blueprints at all.”

Sunny tried to turn the knob, but it rattled uselessly in her hand. “It’s locked, too.” She noted the keyhole. “And not digitally, either, which is why Hwanhee couldn’t get us in.”

“Oh, a keyhole?” Yuri brightened. “Just hold on for one…minute…” She reached up to pull a bobby pin from her hair. Then she knelt down in front of the door, inserting the pin into the keyhole and jiggling it.

Click.

“Yuri-unnie, you’re amazing!” Yoona slipped in as soon as Yuri opened the door.

Sunny threw a glance at Yuri as she also entered the room. “Do I even want to know where you obtained lock-picking skills?”

Yuri winked. “You wouldn’t believe the number of people who lose the keys to their lockers at the pool.”

“Okay, I think we might be able to find something here.” Yoona cracked her knuckles. “There’s only three shelves. I call the one on the right!”

“We have fifty-two minutes,” Sunny announced. She looked around warily. “Although it might be less. I don’t know if Hwanhee’s security system overrides extend to secret rooms or anything.”

Yuri headed for the left shelf. She pulled the first folder off and flipped through it. “So we’re looking for files that had updates in the last…”

“Yeah,” Sunny answered, distracted by the file she was currently scanning. “From, say, a month or two before Seo Jisoo overheard that phone conversation.”

“There…are more files that fit that criteria than I’d like.” Yoona frowned as she added another to the already small stack in her arms. “Should we just take them all?”

“No, take pictures.” Sunny pulled out her phone and grabbed the folders from Yoona, carrying them to the table on one side of the room. “We don’t need to tip them off more than we already have, right?”

The next several minutes passed by with the soft rustling of papers, sometimes with a soft murmur as Yuri or Yoona tried to remember where to return a certain file. Sunny sighed, snapping what seemed to be the one hundredth picture. “My phone’s going to run out of memory at this rate. Are we almost done?”

“Last one, unnie,” Yoona promised as she handed one more folder over.

“Um…guys?” Yuri poked her head out from behind the shelf she’d just finished searching. “Do you smell that…?”

Sunny’s eyes widened. She swore and flipped through the rest of the pages frantically, barely managing to make sure that her photos were clear enough before shoving the folder back into Yoona’s hands. “They’re trying to gas us out again. Put that back and let’s get out of here. Now.”

Yuri shoved the door open, and the three dashed across the main file room. Yoona opened the next door slightly, ears straining for the slightest sound.

“We have ten minutes until the security systems are back online,” Sunny hissed from behind.

“Okay, we’re clear.” Yoona opened the door fully and ducked into the hallway. The other two quickly followed.

They were halfway through the building when Yoona suddenly stopped, Sunny almost running into her. Yoona turned and put a finger to her lips, signaling the other two to back further into the shadows. A second later, two pairs of footsteps echoed, stopping just before the intersection in front of them.

A male voice spoke up. “Man, I hate that we’re here on a Saturday night. And all we’re doing is grabbing some files?”

There was a slight rustle, as if the other man was shrugging. “Well, we could’ve probably gotten them earlier…”

Yuri tugged on Sunny’s hand, and Sunny in turn grabbed Yoona’s shoulder. They ducked into a closet, Yuri holding the door open just slightly, to avoid making any noise by closing it.

“There’s that creepy janitor guy, though. The one that smells weird? I always wait until he leaves to clean upstairs before coming down here.” A groan. “I wish we were getting paid overtime for this.”

“Life of an intern, right?”

The footsteps passed by the closet, voices fading as the two interns headed in the direction of the file room. Sunny counted to ten silently before ushering the other two out. “Let’s go. Two minutes!”

“We’re not going to make it, unnie,” Yoona whispered as they crept through yet another hallway. “We’re only halfway there.”

“Okay, we’re running.” Yuri looked each of them in the eye, smiling with the confidence the butterflies in her stomach betrayed. “Ready?”

“No,” Sunny said, but she was the first to sprint off.

Two right turns from the door they’d entered through, Yuri swore. “I think someone saw me. In that hallway we just passed.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Sunny panted. “Twenty seconds.”

“Passing you, unnie!” Yoona surged forward, making the last turn and lunging for the door. She wrenched it open, barely letting the other two make it through before rushing out, right on their heels as the door swung closed, although the sound was drowned out by the people in the street.

The three melted into the crowd once more. Sunny kept both hands in the pocket of her hoodie, clenching her phone tightly. She waited for her heartbeat to return to normal before she risked a look at her companions.

Yoona grinned, eyes wild. “We did it, unnies. We did it.” She held out her hands for high-fives.

Yuri touched her palm to Yoona’s solemnly. “Let’s just hope that it was worth it.”