SOSHI: The Roads We Have Taken – Chapter 5

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

I wanted to be sure to reach you;
though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings… In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand…To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will…

Frank O’Hara

Chapter 5: In which breakthroughs are made, but sometimes the next step stays just out of reach.

The late summer morning had yet to give way to stifling heat, so the air was still pleasantly cool when Yuri stepped out of her apartment for a brisk morning jog. The sun had barely risen, but she didn’t mind. Less light meant fewer people, which meant fewer disturbances when she went to check out the site of the intersection bombing.

She breathed steadily, inhaling through her mouth and exhaling through her nose, her sneakers thumping softly against the sidewalk below. The intersection was a good two miles from her apartment, but she needed to get her morning exercise in somehow, anyway.

Jessica had sent her the explosion simulation for the intersection the night before, which meant that the other tech had most likely stayed up the entire plane ride to work on it. Yuri shook her head slightly, accidentally jerking one of her earbuds free in the process. If Jessica was worried enough to forsake sleep—well, Yuri desperately hoped that they would find Krystal soon.

She slowed once she made it to the intersection, jogging in place as she examined the piles of rubble still barricaded by yellow tape. It had been a rather important passage in the city, so blocking it off certainly had negative effects on Seoul’s traffic-handling, whether or not that had been the bomber’s original intention. Yuri frowned, noting the dull gleam of broken sewage and gas pipes, the twisted electrical wires—all shattered amid the debris; traffic hadn’t been the only thing disrupted.

In truth, sleep hadn’t come easily to Yuri either, so she’d spent most of the night running all sorts of different scenarios through Jessica’s simulation program. Of course, she could only get so far with the reports from the site that had been submitted before SOSHI had been put on the case, so the next logical step was to wait until it was reasonably light enough for her to go outside and see for herself.

Now, as she scanned the wreckage, her mind rushed furiously through the countless simulations she’d run just hours before. She had tried all sorts of origin points, attempting to match the simulated results with whatever pictures she’d had of the site. She’d even looked over Jessica’s code, just in case—though she winced at the thought of Jessica ever finding out that she’d done so.

“Not that I doubt you, Sica,” Yuri said out loud, panting slightly as she crossed the deserted street to look at the intersection from another angle. She suppressed a shiver at Jessica’s imagined response. Then she murmured, “Calm down, Yuri. Sica’s not here. And maybe she actually wouldn’t mind…hah.” There was no way she could talk herself out of this one.

Yuri shook her head to clear it, squinting at the broken concrete as she brought her mind back to the more immediate problem. She had to be missing something, because none of the simulations she’d run had ended up exactly the right way. And if nothing was wrong with the program—”of course not,” she could imagine Jessica scoffing—then that meant one of her initial assumptions had to be incorrect instead.

What could it be…?

Yuri crossed the next street, ending up on the opposite corner from where she had arrived. The entire middle of the intersection had fallen away, but Yuri noted that the gaping hole now in the road was actually a little off-center, implying that the explosion had originated somewhere not exactly in the middle.

Maybe our assumption that all these bombings are connected is wrong, she mused. Besides the bank, the other two, in addition to the U.S. embassy bombing the day before, had all been individual cars exploding. Meanwhile, this bombing had clearly come from below the street, somehow activated when an unfortunate car drove over it.

Unless…

Her eyes widened. “Yuri, you’re a genius!”

She turned on her heel and dashed toward SOSHI headquarters. Her other earbud fell out as she did so, but she merely wrapped the cords around her music player and continued running. She had initially planned to go home and get ready properly, but there was no time now. Not that she expected anyone else to be up this early, though there was a chance…

Sure enough, Taeyeon’s office light was already on when Yuri burst in and flicked on the lights for the outer office. When no sound came in response, Yuri tiptoed to the door and peeked inside. Taeyeon was asleep, head resting on her folded arms. Underneath her elbows, papers were scattered everywhere across the desktop.

“Hey, Taeng,” Yuri whispered, poking a forearm.

“Grmfph.” Taeyeon stirred, and then grumbled some more before slowly raising her head. Yuri noticed the folds of her sleeve imprinted onto her cheek and stifled a giggle. “Yuri?”

“You didn’t go home last night, did you,” the tech deadpanned.

Taeyeon shook her head, her sleep-muddled brain oblivious to the other’s disapproving tone. “Had to do some work.”

Yuri sighed, deciding not to push the subject. “Anyway, I think I figured something out about the intersection bombing.”

“You did?” Taeyeon’s eyes snapped open the rest of the way. She got up from her seat. “What do you have?”

“Come on.” Yuri led her to the computer, booting the machine up as she explained. “Sica sent me the simulation program last night, so I took some time to run through as many scenarios as I could. But none of them seemed to match quite well enough.”

Taeyeon blinked, just registering Yuri’s outfit, as well as the clock on the wall. “Yul, it’s six in the morning. And did you run all the way here?”

“I’ll shower in the locker room.” Yuri waved a dismissive hand. “Okay, here we go. First, let’s look at the camera footage.”

Taeyeon frowned. “It’s an overhead shot, though. How will it help us see what’s going on below?”

Yuri shook her head. “I don’t want the explosion itself. I’m looking at the street before anything happened.” She stopped at a specific frame and pointed at the screen, just a bit off-center from the middle of the intersection. “You see that?”

Taeyeon squinted. “That’s a manhole, right?”

Yuri nodded. “Specifically, a covered manhole. Now, if I’ve guessed correctly…” She fast-forwarded to a frame a few hours before the explosion. “Yeah, there.”

“Uh…” Taeyeon leaned forward. “Is it…darker?”

“Because the cover isn’t there anymore,” Yuri explained. “Someone removed it. And then the car drives over. Boom.”

Taeyeon narrowed her eyes. “So what, someone threw the bomb from underneath?”

“Not quite,” Yuri replied. “I don’t think they could toss it and get out of the danger zone in time.”

“Then the bomb would’ve had to already be there…” Taeyeon trailed off.

“Exactly.” Yuri pulled up the program and began entering data. “If I modify this code so I can have the option of having the bomb attached to the bottom of the car, and then have it drop just as the car drives over the uncovered manhole…”

The virtual intersection was blown to pieces. Yuri panned out and pulled up pictures of the actual wreckage, the program automatically running comparisons. “See? 98.7% match.”

Taeyeon raised her eyebrows. “More than good enough for me. So it seems like we now have four bombings connected because they targeted individual cars, minus the bank. Did we ever get that list of employees who were in touch with that money?”

Yuri nodded. “I’ll cross-reference the car owners with those employees and see what comes up.”

“Great.” Taeyeon held back a snicker. “I think you could take a shower before anything else, though.”

“Yeah, as soon as you brush your teeth,” Yuri shot back, wrinkling her nose and pretending to gag. “Your morning breath is awful.”

“Nothing a cup of coffee can’t fix.” Taeyeon grinned.

Gross, Taeyeon,” Yuri protested, but threw an arm around the other’s shoulder as the two of them made their way out of the office.

“I emailed Sulli,” Tiffany announced from her seat at the counter. “But I don’t think she can help us much until we get more details about when the wires were exactly purchased.”

“Yeah, it was sort of a long shot.” Sunny sighed and sat on the couch next to Jessica. The tech was busy tapping away at her own laptop, which was connected to Amber’s locked one. Sunny added, “Amber said no one’s been up here since Krystal…left. So if we were going to find clues here, now would be our best bet.”

“She left her phone, right?” Tiffany glanced around the room. “Although it’s probably out of battery by now, so we can’t just call it.”

Sunny stuck her hand under the couch cushions. “Maybe it slipped down here. Or it’s under a pillow? If you could move a little, Sica.”

Jessica wordlessly lifted her laptop and stood, allowing Sunny to quickly reach under the cushion the former had been sitting on. Sunny’s face lit up. “Got it!”

“Great, here’s the charger.” Tiffany held up the tangled cord from its place on the counter, by the outlet.

“I feel a little bad looking through her phone,” Sunny admitted as she plugged the device in.

Jessica raised an eyebrow, not glancing up from her screen. “What exactly are you expecting to find, Lee Soonkyu?”

“Er, nothing,” Sunny chuckled nervously. Then under her breath, she grumbled, “Why did Taeyeon have to tell everyone my real name?”

“Uh, Jessi,” Tiffany spoke up, frowning at Krystal’s phone. “Do you know the lock code?”

“Oh.” Jessica stopped typing and looked up, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “Try mine.”

Tiffany shot her a dubious look. “You guys have the same one? Really—oh. It worked.”

Jessica shrugged, and then went back to chewing her lip and staring at her screen.

Sunny looked over Tiffany’s shoulder as the latter flicked through Krystal’s messages, recent calls, and photos. “What exactly are you hoping to find?”

Tiffany shrugged. “Anything, really. She obviously thought she was on to something, so if we could just figure out what…”

“What about her notes?” Sunny suggested, pointing to an app just as Tiffany exited the photo album.

“Woah.” Tiffany’s eyes widened as the screen was suddenly filled with strings of English letters, but none making any comprehensible sense.

Sunny pointed wordlessly to the line at the very top.

KJIUMNYGOJUUNNGGMJIUNN?

“Jessi,” Tiffany said slowly, “we might need your code-breaking skills sometime soon.”

“I can only do so many things at once,” Jessica reminded them, somewhat irritably.

“Sorry, Sica.” Sunny walked over and gave the tech a placating pat on the shoulder. “We’re just trying to help. You wouldn’t happen to share other kinds of codes with Krystal as well?”

Jessica leaned back and sighed, rubbing her temples. “I didn’t mean to snap. And no, not that I’m aware of. Why?”

Tiffany joined them, handing over Krystal’s phone so the other could take a look.

Jessica frowned. “All I see is ‘Jung’ kind of in the middle there. It’s our last name, so that might be something.” She rewrote the line on the notepad lying on the table by her laptop, and then scribbled a new line below it. “But if you take it out, it still doesn’t really help.”

KJIUMNYGOUNGMJIUNN?

“How about if you take out all the letters of your last name?” Sunny suggested.

Jessica nodded, writing another line beneath the other two.

KIMYOMI?

Tiffany tilted her head. “…Kiyomi?”

Jessica gave her a stony look. “Do you really think Krystal would’ve coded that?”

“Just guessing.” Tiffany held up her hands and grinned sheepishly.

“The letters don’t exactly match anyway,” Sunny pointed out. “Could it be some sort of name? A business or store, maybe?”

“Well, you two can figure that out.” Jessica set the phone aside and turned back to her computer. “The faster I get this hacking situation figured out, the faster we can finish the case we’ve been assigned, and the faster we can focus on other things, like getting my sister back.”

Tiffany picked up Krystal’s phone and began flipping through the photos again. “Some of these were taken recently. Maybe tomorrow, Sunny and I can go and visit these places, and try to figure out what Krystal was looking into.”

Sunny scratched the back of her neck. “We can’t just ask Amber or Victoria-unnie about what her mission is?”

“Krystal’s missions were always classified,” Jessica reminded them. “I think Taeng mentioned that even Victoria-unnie didn’t seem to have a good idea of where Krystal might’ve gone, or what she’d been doing. So whatever information we want, we’ll have to get ourselves.”

Sunny sighed. “Easier said than done.”

“But not impossible.” Tiffany grinned, although Sunny noticed her fingers curl into fists. The latter remembered then that Tiffany had another reason for coming to Los Angeles, too.

But was the answer to her mother’s death really in the wires Seohyun had found in the rubble from a crumbled Seoul street?

Tiffany cleared her throat. “We can do it. You’ll see.”

Sunny suddenly snapped her fingers. “I got it.”

“You got it?” Jessica echoed, her fingers stilling on her keyboard.

“Yeah.” Sunny tapped the notepad thoughtfully. “But I’m not entirely sure what it means.” She picked up Jessica’s pen and wrote the decoded line underneath their previous attempts.

“Hm,” Tiffany said after a few moments of silence. “Yeah, I’m not sure what to make of it, either.”

Jessica blinked. “So. What are we going to do?”

But neither of the other two knew how to answer.

…Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks, it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,

but even the waves can’t keep me from reaching you.