SOSHI: The Roads We Have Taken – Chapter 13

September 28, 2014 in moonrise31, SOSHI, The Roads We Have Taken by moonrise31

In spite of all the learned have said,
    I still my old opinion keep;
The posture, that we give the dead,
    Points out the soul’s eternal sleep…

Here still an aged elm aspires,
    Beneath whose far-projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires)
    The children of the forest played!

Phillip Freneau

Chapter 13: In which bombs may fall as other perils may arise.

Taeyeon sighed, setting aside the last stack of papers on her desk. She’d file them later; for now, she’d stared at black print on white long enough to last her the next several hours, at least.

She stepped into the outer office, where Yuri was sitting at her computer and typing furiously. “Any luck on that name Hyoyeon got for us?”

Yuri sighed, leaning back in her chair. “Well, if you haven’t figured it out already, Do Shibak is some sort of star hacker in addition to his serial bombing tendencies. So sure, we might’ve gotten his real name, but that really just means that he’s all but digitally wiped himself off the face of the internet.”

“But I have faith in you,” Taeyeon said seriously, giving Yuri a pat on the shoulder as she passed. “The day’s over, anyway. Go home; you can pick it up again tomorrow.” She glanced around. “Everyone else has checked out, right?”

“Sooyoung and Seohyun stopped by earlier to give me surveillance info on the stuff they set up over at Seven Springs,” Yuri answered. “Then they left with Hyoyeon and Yoona, and Sooyoung had to drop maknae off at the university. I guess they all went home after that.”

Taeyeon nodded. “Good. So you should get going too, alright?”

“Sure thing.” Yuri waved a hand as she turned back to her computer screen. “Just give me a few more minutes, okay, mother?”

“If I were really your mother,” Taeyeon retorted, rolling her eyes, “you’d be grounded by now.”

Both looked down when Taeyeon’s phone rang, the ringtone she’d assigned the director echoing throughout the otherwise empty room. Taeyeon immediately brought the phone up to her ear. “Yes sir?”

Yuri made no attempt to hide that she was trying to listen in, even going as far as to roll her chair closer to where the other woman was standing.

“Yes sir. Right away, sir. I’ll get everyone there right now.” Taeyeon hung up, expression suddenly grim.

Yuri frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“There’s a bomb threat in Namdaemun market.” Taeyeon strode purposefully towards the door. “I’ll call the others. Hold off the search for Do Shibak, Yul. He’s practically knocking on our doorstep.”

“Sunny? You’re here?” Sooyoung panted, stopping next to the shorter girl. “Did Taeng drag you out of your day off?”

“Nah.” Sunny shook her head. “I couldn’t really sleep with so much going on, so I went and talked with Youngsun and then Ryuyoung. I guess the same’s for the others—Jessica’s on her way over to help Yuri at HQ, and Fany’s already on the other side directing evacuation right now.” She jerked her thumb over her shoulder, indicating the large stream of people flooding the street. “We should probably go over and help Taeng and Yoona over here.”

“Geez, how did you guys get here so fast?” Sooyoung muttered as she chased after Sunny, who was jogging closer to the confused shoppers now milling around outside the entrance to Namdaemun market.

“Because you just don’t drive nearly fast enough,” Hyoyeon piped up from behind them, keeping pace with Sooyoung easily. Her elbow just slightly brushed the latter’s so she could tell which direction they were headed.

“Watch your step,” Sooyoung murmured as she hopped onto the curb.

“Please stay calm,” Yoona’s voice, magnified by the megaphone she was holding, suddenly burst through the babble of the crowd. “Proceed through the exit in an orderly fashion. Please keep moving; we need to get everyone out of here as soon as possible.”

“This way, please.” Taeyeon stood on the opposite side of the mass of people, shouting over the din as she waved the crowd along as best she could. “Sir,” she held up a hand as a man made a move to break from the horde, “yes—yes, I’m aware that you are parked over there, but that’s outside the safe zone. I’m going to have to ask you to take the long way around. My apologies, sir.”

“Hey, Taeng.” Sunny tapped the other on the shoulder once the man had reluctantly merged back into the barely organized mob. “Where do you need us?”

“How about, where do I not need you?” Taeyeon retorted. “Where the hell is the bomb squad?”

“Yuri said you already called them,” Sooyoung reminded her.

“Yeah, ten minutes ago,” Taeyeon sighed. “They should be here already. We can’t possibly be expected to control this situation with only the six of us and a handful of first-responder police officers.”

“We’ll go in and make sure everyone’s making their way out,” Sunny offered. “There’s more than one exit out of here, right?”

“Thank goodness,” Taeyeon affirmed, holding out a slightly crumpled sheet of paper. “Here’s a map of the place. We don’t really have the time to get lost.”

“So why are you handing it to me?” Hyoyeon raised her eyebrows.

“Gotta be good for something, right, Hyo?”

Hyoyeon could imagine Taeyeon winking, so she mock-scowled in response. “Once this emergency situation is over, you are so in for it, Kim Taeyeon.”

“Thanks.” Sunny overrode Taeyeon’s reply, plucking the paper out of Hyoyeon’s grasp. “And you said Tiffany’s in there already?”

Taeyeon nodded. “The other end of Namdaemun. I think the other two exits are covered by police officers. But one of you should be helping Fany direct people out, and the other two should just ferry everyone to the closest exit possible. Depending on the situation in there and when the bomb squad actually gets here…” She stopped, wincing as she imagined the possible consequences. “Just make sure everyone is out.”

“You got it.” Sunny nodded, grabbing Hyoyeon’s shoulder. “Hyo and I will run through. Soo, help Fany?”

“Will do.” The taller woman immediately turned and waded her way into the crowd, fighting against the current of people being ushered in the opposite direction. They heard her faintly shouting “excuse me”s and “pardon”s over the rest of the commotion.

“Come on.” Sunny grabbed Hyoyeon’s hand before they dove in as well.

“Good luck!” Taeyeon yelled after them. Then she returned to the task at hand. “This way please, everyone. There is an emergency situation, so we need you to please follow the officers as they direct you to the nearest safe zone.” Then, pressing her earpiece in an effort to hear the other end better, she hissed, “Yul, the bomb squad?”

“They told me they’re on their way,” Yuri answered distractedly as she flipped through several open windows on her computer screen. “Yes, I know, Taeng, that was fifteen minutes ago—well, more like twelve. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.” She scanned through the security footage she currently had open, clicking through each frame as fast as she could comprehend the images in front of her. “Yeah, I’m looking through all security camera feeds right now. The call tipping us off was anonymous, and they didn’t give an exact location, so I’ll have to literally look through every—”

“Hey, I heard there’s been another bomb,” Jessica greeted casually as she walked in.

“And ‘good evening’ to you too,” Yuri replied, reaching over with one hand to boot up Jessica’s computer in the next cubicle. “And it’s not really another bomb quite yet—just a bomb threat.”

“Hm.” Jessica sat down, leaning over to glance at Yuri’s screen. “Are those live? No, they’re not…you’re scanning through old footage?”

“Yeah. I’m trying to figure out the bomb’s location, since our anonymous caller didn’t really give us the details.”

“Because it was probably the bomber himself,” Jessica grumbled. “How do we even know that this is real? It’s not like he called in before for any of the other ones.”

“Better safe than sorry,” Yuri pointed out with a shrug. “Get into the live feeds, will you, Sica? Apparently Sunny and Hyo are in the crowd somewhere, and Soo should be making her way to the entrance where Fany is; the opposite of Taeng and Yoona’s.”

Jessica nodded once. “Alright. And if this is fake,” she added, “I’m not the one who’s gonna be doing the press conference about it.”

“Nah, that’s what we have Taeng for,” Yuri snickered. Then she straightened. “Yup, yup. Working, Taeng. What makes you think I wasn’t?”

“Okay…” Jessica spoke up a few moments later before trailing off again. “Wait…I see our team, I see some police officers, I see a lot of confused shoppers…where’s the bomb squad?”

Yuri threw her hands up in the air. “I already called them, okay? They told me they’re on their way.”

“But when did you call them?” Jessica pressed.

Yuri checked the clock at the corner of her screen. “Fourteen minutes ago.”

Jessica frowned. “There’s no way it should be taking them that long. Their nearest base is ten minutes away from Namdaemun, and that’s considering that they would actually obey traffic laws on the way over.”

Yuri sighed. “I dunno what else to tell you guys. Here, I’ll call them, okay? But they’re already on their way. Sica, put your headphones in so we can keep Taeng on the line.”

“Sure.” Jessica slipped on her headphones and turned some dials, blinking when Taeyeon’s voice came crackling in from the other end. “Yeah, calm down, Taeng. Yuri’s calling them now. But she says they should be there soon—yes, I know, I said that too, but—”

“What do you mean, Dongdaemun?” Yuri suddenly demanded. “I sent you coordinates for Namdaemun. Read them out to me.” Her eyes widened. “How…oh.” She swore.

“I think we found the problem,” Jessica reported grimly before shifting her headphones to expose one ear. “They got the wrong coordinates?”

“Do Shibak must’ve intercepted my instructions,” Yuri growled, running a frustrated hand through her hair. “Okay, calm down, Yuri. Think. How could this have happened?”

“Well, he already led us on one wild goose chase when I was in L.A., remember?” Jessica pointed out matter-of-factly. “We really should’ve taken more precautions in protecting our communications after that.”

“But still. To know that quickly? And take the appropriate steps against ours?” Yuri insisted. “How is this guy so fast?”

“One thing at a time, Yul,” Jessica cautioned. “The bomb squad has the right coordinates now, right?”

“Yeah.” Yuri reached out to the control panel on her desk and switched communication lines so she was connected to Taeyeon once more. “Taeng, they’ll be there in five.”

“Good.” Jessica’s gaze was locked on her own computer screen. “Because I think Sunny and Hyo just found the bomb.”

“Everyone’s out, right?” Hyoyeon muttered, every muscle tense.

“Yeah.” Sunny glanced around the shop, now completely abandoned, clothes and hangers strewn everywhere in the haste of evacuation. “Just us and a ticking black box.”

“Perfect,” Hyoyeon grumbled, tilting her head to listen more closely. “And Yuri said the bomb squad would be here soon?”

“Three minutes now.” Sunny glanced down at her phone. “So I guess we just hang tight until then.”

“There’s not like, some sort of countdown thing on it, is there?” Hyoyeon asked. “You know, like in the movies.”

“As if real-life bombs are made exactly as they are on television,” Sunny observed wryly. She crossed her arms. “Ugh. I hate this waiting. I wish we could just do something.”

“You wouldn’t happen to be some sort of bomb expert, would you?” Hyoyeon inquired jokingly, eyebrows raised.

Sunny rolled her eyes. “Maybe in some alternate reality. But not this one.”

“Bomb squad just passed us,” Tiffany’s voice reported through their earpieces. “They’ll be at Sunny and Hyo’s location in under a minute.”

“Great.” They heard Taeyeon breathe a sigh of relief. “The crowd has shrunk down considerably on our end, and I hope on your end too. So looks like we might be able to get out of this relatively okay. Sunny, Hyo, get out of there as soon as the bomb squad is in.”

“I hear them,” Hyoyeon said, tilting her head in the direction of the door.

Sunny backpedaled a few steps to glance out the window, making out the uniformed figures advancing down the street. “Yup, they’re here.” She stepped outside to wave them over.

“Alright, great,” Taeyeon said. “Now get out through the nearest exit.”

“Hyoyeon, let’s go.” Sunny tugged the other’s arm, but Hyoyeon didn’t budge. “You heard Taeyeon, right?”

“If the bomb squad isn’t running for cover, I think we’ll be okay,” Hyoyeon pointed out, refusing to budge.

Sunny sighed. “Sure, but why do you want to stick around, anyway?”

“Because…” Hyoyeon paused, listening to the low murmurs of the bomb squad members as they examined the ticking object in the back of the store. “I have a nagging suspicion that it’s—”

“I told you it was fake,” Jessica said as soon as Sunny’s report came through their headphones.

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing,” Yuri sighed. “But it kind of makes you wonder what his plans really were, doesn’t it?”

Jessica hummed thoughtfully, spinning around in her chair. “The thought did cross my mind, yes.”

“Seriously.” Yuri drummed her fingers on the tabletop. “He could be across the city by now…think, Yuri, think.”

“Yeah, you may be on to something there,” Jessica agreed, getting up.

Yuri snapped her fingers. “That’s it! Across the city, literally.”

“Oh?” Jessica raised an eyebrow as she walked past Yuri’s desk. “Care to elaborate?”

“Namdaemun is on the south side of Seoul,” Yuri explained excitedly. “And what’s on the north side?” She barely paused before answering her own question. “The airports,” she finished, triumphant.

“Why do you sound so proud of yourself?” Jessica deadpanned. “You realize he could be flying out of the country right now.”

“Oh, right.” Yuri’s face fell. “Taeng, did you—”

“Yeah, I heard you,” Taeyeon’s tired voice rang in their ears. “We’ll get on that.”

“You might want to hurry,” Jessica commented, looking up to examine the upper hinge of the door to Taeyeon’s office.

“Yeah, you don’t have much time,” Yuri agreed. “We’ve lost an hour or two at least, since he planted that false bomb threat.”

“And also—” Jessica stopped as she stood on her tiptoes and reached up, plucking a small black device from behind the hinge. She held up the bug for Yuri to see. “Do Shibak has been listening to us this entire time.”

…And long shall timorous fancy see
    The painted chief, and pointed spear,
And Reason’s self shall bow the knee

    Shadows and delusions shall forever rule here.