SOSHI: The Roads We Have Taken – Chapter 14

October 4, 2014 in moonrise31, SOSHI, The Roads We Have Taken by moonrise31

A blind man, on the thoroughfare,
Startle-eyed as an owl by day,
Piping a dismal little air,
Taps here and there, loses his way,

Tootles awry his time-old ditty
Undauntedly, as by his side
Lopes his dog, guides him through the city,
Specter diurnal, sleepy-eyed…

Théophile Gautier

Chapter 14: In which revelations are realized in considerably quick succession.

Taeyeon blinked when an icon on her computer desktop began bouncing up and down. She took another sip of coffee before clicking on the “incoming call” button. “Good evening, Senior Agent.”

“Morning for you, I believe, Agent Kim.” A view of Youngmin seated at his desk filled her screen. “I apologize for making you get up this early, but I didn’t have any time beforehand.”

Doing very important things, I’m sure, Taeyeon almost deadpanned, but she stopped herself; she’d decided to hold this conference one-on-one because she didn’t think it would help if Jessica continued to butt heads with the senior agent. Nonetheless, Taeyeon was dangerously close to doing the exact same thing. But after a moment, she calmly picked up her mug and said, “I was going to be up around now, anyway. But that wasn’t what I requested a call for, sir.”

“Ah, yes.” Youngmin nodded, shifting slightly. His suit rustled softly through the speakers. “Continue, please.”

Taeyeon closed her eyes, gathering her thoughts. Then she met the senior agent’s pixelated gaze once more. “Yesterday, SOSHI discovered a bug in our office. Right on the hinge of my door, in fact.”

Youngmin didn’t blink.

“I’m aware that you…questioned Agent Jung Krystal about other offices in this building being bugged,” Taeyeon pressed. “Sir, with all due respect, I think it would’ve been prudent to inform us that we were one of those offices.”

“That investigation is still classified, Agent Kim.” Youngmin raised his eyebrows. “I was under the impression that your team had returned to the case that was actually assigned to you.”

Taeyeon’s grip on her mug tightened slightly, but she carefully slid the cup out of frame so there was no way the other would notice. “I’m afraid this has very much to do with our case, sir. We have good reason to believe that the bug was planted by the very serial bomber we’re trying to track down.”

“You haven’t found him yet?”

Taeyeon resisted the urge to twitch. He’s not being aggravating. He’s not being aggravating. You are just tired. Really, really, tired.

“Agent Kim?” Youngmin raised his eyebrows.

“Sir.” Taeyeon forced her lips into a smile. “We were quite close, actually. But our discovery of the bug made us realize that our suspect was actually distracting us—with the Namdaemun market bomb threat yesterday—and he did so for a long enough time to make an escape. He most likely got out of this country if he made it to an airport, as we believe.”

“I see.” Youngmin pushed his glasses up with one finger.

“We searched both Incheon and Gimpo as soon Jessica found the bug,” Taeyeon continued, wondering absentmindedly why she was even reporting to Youngmin when she was technically not under his direct command. Must be the caffeine. “But he was long gone. Our techs will be searching through the security footage and terminal check-ins today, since I told them to go home last night and get some sleep.”

“Understandable.” Youngmin nodded. “Well, I wish you luck, Agent Kim. Have a good day.” He reached towards his keyboard.

“Wait!” Taeyeon paused, clearing her throat. “Sir. I’d just like to know why you didn’t find it pertinent to inform us that our office had been compromised.”

“It was classified—” Youngmin started.

“So are our own investigations that were being tapped this entire time,” Taeyeon shot back. “And you did tell Agent Song that the Function’s office had been bugged, even though you didn’t mention whom you suspected to be the culprit. Your discretion led our suspect to slip from right under our noses.” She stopped, and then remembered herself at the last moment. “Sir.”

Youngmin stayed silent for a few seconds before leaning back in his chair. “I understand your concern, Agent Kim. And while I apologize for this most unfortunate circumstance, I was regretfully unaware of it at the time.”

“You—” Taeyeon blinked. “Sir?”

“I don’t enjoy admitting to not knowing things, Agent Kim,” Youngmin commented wryly. “But that is what happened here. We have footage of Agent Jung planting bugs in her own office, but none of it happening anywhere else, by her or otherwise. As far as I was aware, the Function’s space was the only one that had been compromised, so of course I only saw fit to inform their team leader before the entire investigation was complete.”

“I see.” Taeyeon traced the rim of her mug with a fingertip, mind racing. Then she remembered where she was and dipped her head at the computer screen. “My apologies for being cross, Senior Agent. It’s no excuse, but it’s been a rough few days.”

“I’ve faced worse,” Youngmin replied easily. “I do wish you and your team the best of luck, Agent Kim. SOSHI is undoubtedly our best unit, and I hope it will stay that way.”

“We feel the same way, sir.”

Taeyeon let out a breath once the call had disconnected. She jumped slightly in her seat when her office door suddenly swung open.

“Done talking to the legalized kidnapper?”

“Watch what you say, Sica,” Taeyeon cautioned, only half-joking as she glanced around the room. “Who knows what other fun listening devices are in my personal bubble right now?”

“Only these.” Jessica pointed at her own ears. Then she slid into one of the chairs on the other side of Taeyeon’s desk. “So, what’d he have to say about Krystal?”

“We…didn’t talk about that,” Taeyeon answered tactfully. From his brief mention of the supposed security video evidence, Youngmin seemed quite resolute in his belief of Krystal’s crime. “He did say that he didn’t know our office had been bugged, though.”

“Huh.” Jessica raised her eyebrows. “I figured he’d have more ‘evidence’ by now that my sister is actually the one behind bugging the entire building, is in fact the serial bomber, and is planning a heist on the Blue House as we speak.”

“That’s the thing, though.” Taeyeon picked up a pen and spun it thoughtfully. “Whoever did bug the Function’s office…can we assume it’s the same person?”

Jessica shrugged. “The alternative seems even more frightening, doesn’t it.”

“Okay, so let’s assume that it is all one person.” Taeyeon stopped spinning her pen and pulled off the cap so she could jot down a note. “Why only frame Krystal for one of the offices? Why not ours as well? Or why not frame one of our own members?”

“And if it’s Do Shibak who did it,” Jessica added, “why? Why the Function? Why us? Did he bug other offices besides the two of ours?”

“I think that’s a classified investigation,” Taeyeon remarked drily. “As for bugging us, I suppose we’d be the logical team to turn to should the bombings escalate—both of which did happen. Our name is big enough that any criminal worth their salt would’ve at least heard of us. I am curious about the Function though; it seems like an odd choice to monitor them when they’ve been doing work mostly outside of Korea.”

“Well, he was in L.A. a couple weeks back,” Jessica reminded her.

“Hm.” Taeyeon tapped her chin. “This is probably the espresso I had before this coffee talking right now, but maybe he was…following Krystal? To make sure his plan worked?”

“…You might actually have a point.” Jessica nodded slowly. “Senior Agent Kim let me have a copy of the files he’s holding as evidence.” Taeyeon imagined the situation having a lot less to do with Jessica asking nicely for the files and a lot more to do with Youngmin being scared out of his pants. “The source of that footage actually didn’t come from this building.”

Taeyeon raised her eyebrows. “That’s pretty concerning.”

“I mean, I still have to prove that the film is doctored, but that’ll come soon enough.” Jessica shrugged. “Anyway, I don’t think he knows this, of course. Which means Do Shibak had to have gotten it to him more discretely somehow. Make Senior Agent Kim think he’s accessing security footage back here when he’s really being fed falsified information from elsewhere.”

“Right.” Taeyeon took another sip of coffee. “I’m probably missing something here, but he didn’t need to travel all the way to the U.S. for that, did he? I mean, can’t you do…” she wiggled her fingers vaguely, “…hacking from anywhere? No need to spend a million won on an airplane ticket.”

Jessica shrugged. “Why does the guy want to blow things up in the first place? Sometimes people do weird things just to throw us off. Keep us on our toes. It makes them feel smart.”

“Woah.” Taeyeon grinned. “You sounded a bit like maknae for a moment there.”

Jessica rolled her eyes. “Yeah, except with a healthy aversion to cucumbers and not a single doctorate. I totally understand where you’re getting the similarity.”

Taeyeon shook her head. “You see, when I get tired, I get loopy.” She raised her mug. “You, on the other hand, just get plain grouchy.”

“Check again when my sister isn’t on the director’s ‘most wanted’ list,” Jessica retorted.

“Alright.” Taeyeon held up her hands in surrender. “Forget I said anything. Are the others here yet?”

Jessica jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “Yuri’s running through the airport footage. Seohyun’s dissecting the bug, because of course she has an electrical engineering degree I was unaware of until now. The others are just kind of milling around, pretending to be busy, brainstorming ideas of where Do Shibak could’ve gone.”

“That last one’s good,” Taeyeon commented, getting up. She paused, casting another look around her office. “You’re sure that was the only bug?”

“Yuri and I screened here and the outer office before we left last night,” Jessica replied. “There weren’t any others.”

Taeyeon nodded, walking around to stand next to Jessica. “How’d you even think to look for one? And how’d you find it so quickly?”

Jessica shrugged, pulling open the door. “Yuri mentioned something about how incredibly fast he was reacting to us, and I thought it was kind of odd, too. The door hinge is just the first place I would put a bug.”

“Hm. You and him think alike. Do we have to be concerned?” Taeyeon teased, barely ducking out of Jessica’s swipe. The elder slipped past the irked tech and into the outer office. “Hey guys. What’ve you got?”

“Fany thinks we should go back to Los Angeles,” Sooyoung reported, turning from the whiteboard she’d been scribbling on. “But really, he could be anywhere. We just don’t know nearly enough about him.”

“Well, what do we know?” Taeyeon prodded, leaning against a nearby desk as she scanned what Sooyoung had written.

“He’s connected directly to the bank bombing,” Hyoyeon spoke up. “Even took up his coworker, In Nosung’s, identity. Somehow the real In Nosung got mixed up as a victim in the embassy bombing, so Do Shibak’s all over that one, too.”

“And maknae finished analyzing all the debris from the intersection, the parking garage, and the street,” Sunny added. “Results are tentative since some of the evidence has been sitting around for weeks. But even though the traces are faint, she’s 82% sure that all the bombs had the same ammonium nitrate she and Sooyoung found at Seven Springs.”

“Do Shibak was also in Los Angeles while Krystal was there, which is plenty of cause for alarm,” Yoona elaborated on the next point highlighted on the whiteboard. “So that involves him in that case that we’re entirely not concerned about in addition to everything else. And from the plane ticket stub I saw on his—or rather, In Nosung’s—coffee table, he got back the night before Sooyoung-unnie and I paid a visit. So I think it’s safe to say he somehow doctored the tapes that got Krystal in trouble, but again,” she paused to flash the rest of them a cheeky grin, “we aren’t concerned with any investigation that’s not our own.”

“So we think he bugged our office, and most likely the Function’s too.” Taeyeon hesitated. “Did he really have to?”

“What do you mean?” Tiffany asked.

Taeyeon shrugged. “He seems quite resourceful as it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow hacked into our phones or something. Why go through the trouble of sneaking in and planting bugs everywhere?”

“Does he need a reason?” Jessica snorted. “He’s killed people. He’s a criminal. That kind of person doesn’t—” Yoona’s soft nudge in her side cut her off.

Jessica’s eyes widened slightly, and then she glanced off to the side. She raised a hand to mumble into her fist, “…Good question, Taeng.”

Sooyoung awkwardly cleared her throat. “Yeah. So…that’s what we have.”

“Great.” Taeyeon smiled as brightly as she could in an attempt to repel the sudden stuffiness of the room. “So as soon as we figure out which terminal this guy ran off through, we’ll have—”

“Uh…guys?”

The others turned to Yuri, whose eyes were glued to her computer screen.

Yoona rushed over. “What’s up, unnie?”

Yuri reached out to turn her monitor so that it faced the rest, who were quickly gathering around the tech’s cubicle. “This is live footage from the Seven Springs back rooms, where Soo and maknae installed cameras yesterday.”

“That’s…” Sunny trailed off, leaning closer so she could peer at the last window on Yuri’s screen.

“Not that I can see or anything,” Hyoyeon commented solemnly from the back, “but I think I can guess. Anyone wanna bet?”

“You’d win, Hyo.” Taeyeon confirmed. “Alright, everyone, let’s go. We’ve got no time to lose.”

Yuri kept her eyes locked on the screen, watching as the grainy figure of Do Shibak moved among the crates of fertilizer Sooyoung and Seohyun had discovered the day before. “I guess he decided not to run when he had the chance, huh?”

The other tech plopped down into her own chair, settling her pair of headphones over her ears, muffling the sound of Taeyeon assigning tasks to the agents now shuffling busily around the office.

Jessica began tapping at her keyboard, her smile one of grim satisfaction. “And that’s the last mistake he’ll ever make.”

…Days stark, wash over him, unlit;
He hears the dark world’s constant din
And all that life unseen, as it

Rolls, rushes; a flood won’t be walled in.