The hallways are eerily empty when Jimin steps out of his room.
The lighting has already been switched to night mode, only some of the bulbs working, as expected after curfew. A soldier is waiting for Jimin right outside his door, ready to escort him where he’s needed. Shivering, Jimin adjusts his uniform, feet steady as he makes his way to the birthing rooms, the clicking of the soldier’s boots on the linoleum keeping track of time.
The call woke him up, the doctor demanding his presence since some of the pregnant omegas had gone into labor before planned. The unforeseen events make the hairs on the back of his neck stand up in uneasiness. Things like that never happen, not in their controlled world. Each and every single one of the omegas currently breeding is monitored carefully, their pregnancies timed so that the pups would arrive right at the time they are needed. Not a day before, not a day later.
It is the first time, in all of Jimin’s years at the breeding center, that something like this occurs. And it calls for dark thoughts to filter into his mind.
The screams and pants of the omegas can be heard from the hallway when Jimin arrives and he hurries inside, fastening a cap over his hair and rushing to where the Doctor is calling him.
“Pressure on the stomach, now!”
Jimin doesn’t think twice, launching himself on top of the swollen belly of the omega currently screaming his lungs out. Sweat runs down in rivulets over the flushed face of the Bearer, veins protruding on his temples as he pushes with all he has. However it is not enough, Jimin has assisted enough deliveries to know this not going to be an easy one.
The Doctor presses his lips together, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
Jimin moves back with a grimace as a beta steps forward, fastening the belts around the Bearer’s arms and then offering a piece of cloth to bite into. The omega accepts it, resigned, and Jimin pushes down the sense of dread fighting to fill his stomach. As soon as the omega is biting into the cloth, the Doctor takes a scalpel and makes a cut. Blood oozes out, staining Jimin’s shoes and the Bearer cries, hands gripping the bars on the bed harder.
“Push!” orders the Doctor.
Returning to his position over the belly of the omega, Jimin presses down, silently urging the pup to help them out. The minutes on the clock are ticking; they can’t wait anymore.
“One more!” yells the Doctor and the Bearer screams along, cloth falling from his mouth. It’s one final push, one that ends with a pup crying their way out into the world. A girl.
Both the omega and Jimin collapse against the bed and Jimin dares a look at his face. He knows him, he knows his name. Sehun.
Jimin snaps back to attention when the Doctor calls his name, moving to the foot of the bed where the nurse is busy measuring the pup. Blood is pouring like a steady river from the Sehun, the cut not clean enough to prevent the hemorrhage. Gingerly, Jimin approaches the pup, his nose easily finding the gland right under her ear.
He sniffs, closing his eyes briefly as sadness coats his words.
“Omega,” he whispers. A Keeper in a yellow uniform shows up right then, picking up the pup and taking her away through the doors on the left, the ones used for the pups that will stay at the CPO.
The Doctor sighs in disappointment just in time with a stutter coming from the heart monitor connected to the Bearer. Jimin’s heart stutters along. He turns to look at the Doctor with panic in his eyes but the beta remains in his spot, eyeing the Bearer.
“Nurse,” he says. “How many deliveries has this omega had?”
The beta Nurse glances at the screen hovering over the Bearer, scanning the numbers before replying. “Twenty-two, Doctor.”
Jimin’s heart constricts.
Omegas are released from their duty as Bearers after they have given birth to twenty five pups. It used to be thirty, but after long fights inside the CPOs, the Commander had reluctantly agreed to reduce the number. After twenty-five pups, omegas are allowed to leave the center and move into a safe place. A place only for omegas, with no risk of alphas or betas lurking in the shadows.
Freedom...Sehun just needs three more pups to attain it.
“Should we attempt to stop the bleeding, Doctor?” asks the Nurse, even though she’s already turning the monitor off.
A Bearer on a bed nearby screams and the Doctor shakes his head. “Leave it, he wouldn’t resist another milking anyway.”
“What do we do with the omega pup?” she questions then.
“Find her a wet nurse among the other omegas,” replies the Doctor, taking off his blood-soaked coat and putting on a clean one, “that should do.”
Jimin remains frozen in place while the Doctor and the Nurse move on to the next delivery. His eyes track the up and down of Sehun’s chest, counting how life spills out of the omega in every exhale. Sehun, who is so close to being free. Sehun, who is in love with another omega from the center, Jongin. Without permission, Jimin’s sight gets blurry and he takes a discarded sheet, carefully placing it over Sehun’s lap.
The Bearer opens his eyes weakly, breathing shallow.
“E-eighty...four…” he says, voice nothing but a memory. Jimin busies himself in loosening the straps around his arms, refusing to make eye contact. “Jimin…”
“You should rest,” says Jimin, but the omega weakly raises a hand and Jimin, understanding the gesture, takes it in his own. “Rest, so you can recover quickly,” he adds, words just for comfort, no real truth behind them.
Sehun smiles softly, slowly shaking his head.
“I’m so...tired...won’t make it...I know.” Jimin blinks several times, fixing his eyes on a light bulb to will himself not to cry. It’s not that it’s the first time a Bearer would not make it, no. Jimin has assisted so many birthings that death is no longer foreign to him. It’s just that he is tired. Tired of having no saying, tired of being a tool used to hurt his own. “Tell me,” continues Sehun, his gaze lost on a random point on the white walls. “Tell me...what is she? My girl…”
“Alpha,” Jimin lies quickly. “She’s an alpha.”
The Bearer sighs in relief. “Good...that’s good…” Sehun licks his lips. “Will you, will you take her...to a good house?”
“Yes,” says Jimin. “Of course.”
“Thank you...I want her to be happy...to be loved.”
“She will,” reassures Jimin.
Sehun’s body spasms briefly before the hand Jimin is holding goes limp. The screen flickers off.
Jimin allows himself a moment of grief. A second in which the rage he feels against the way omegas are treated is allowed to resurface from where he has it buried. It is just a fraction of time before Jimin covers Sehun’s face with the sheet, taking a deep breath and heading to the next Bearer. The pup﹘a boy﹘is crying loudly in the Nurse’s arms when Jimin approaches him. He doesn’t even have to get too close to scent the boy.
“Alpha,” says Jimin, ashamed of the relief coursing through his veins.
The Keeper takes the pup away immediately, covering him in a soft blanket and walking straight to the room in the right. From there the pup will be properly cleaned and dressed in fancy clothes, so he can be delivered to his future parents with no delay. The omega pup, on the other hand, is probably still covered in blood, waiting for the nursery staff to wake up. She has to survive the rest of the night with enough heat to keep her alive, but not true warmth. A little taste of her life ahead.
It all sits bitterly in the back of Jimin’s throat but then again, it has been long since the world was a fair place.
Jimin looks up to find the Nurse studying him, the Doctor already long gone. “Go back to your room.”
Jimin nods, taking off the cap and wearily going to the door.
“Oh, and Eighty-four?” calls the Nurse last minute, eyes flashing blue. “Don’t forget your suppressants. You are beginning to smell.”
Jimin holds it in until he gets back to his room. Until he grabs a change of clean clothes and walks into the freezing spray of the shower. Just then he lets go, he hits the wall with clenched fists, salty tears traveling down his face, mixing in with the pink stream as water cleans the blood away from his hands.
He steps out of the shower half numb, the towel harsh against his cold skin. His hands are shaking and Jimin takes a good look at them, at his round digits and his frail arms. At his narrow, flat chest leading to narrower hips and legs that could easily belong to a kid. He lifts his hands to touch his face, his tiny nose and round cheeks topped by a mess of hair Jimin knows is black. There are no mirrors in the facility, but Jimin is sure his face is paper white, just like the skin of his palms.
Eyes fixed on his lower body, Jimin runs a hand over his stomach, palm settling right under his belly button where he squeezes. He grips hard at the skin and the little fat, hate bubbling like carbonated water in his veins.
He hates it. His body and his feelings and his status.
Being an omega is the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.
Things weren’t always like the way they are in Jimin’s world. There was a time where omegas were more than just a given number. When they had a name.
Long ago, way before Jimin’s mother was born, omegas roamed the earth free. Alpha and beta females were still able to bear children and the world was at peace. Or so, the stories tell. It wasn’t until the climate change made an impact on the way the world worked, that things started to go downhill.
First, it was the food.
Harsh weather variations affected the way food was produced. Crops didn’t grow as strong, animals didn’t procreate as often. Food shortages forced the government to control how much everyone was allowed to eat and science to quickly find a solution. That was the birth of artificial supplements: capsules containing several of the nutrients people were lacking due to the reductions in fresh food.
Most of the population did just fine with the supplements but for the omegas, it was not the same.
Pregnancies took a toll on their weakened bodies, the supplements were not nutritious enough to keep both the mothers and pups alive, and the result was a significant increase in post-delivery deaths and stillborns. In a world where the fertility rate of female alphas and betas was already on the downslide, omegas were the primary source of newborns. The sudden decrease in the fertile omega population became a threat.
One that called for chaos to erupt.
Omegas were snatched left and right on the streets, their babies taken away from them and sold on the black market. Families were destroyed, cities were thrown into gang wars, fighting for the control of the few remaining omegas. It pushed humanity almost to the brink of extinction. Until the General forced his way as Leader of the Republic, killing the current members of the government and assuming absolute control.
He took over a society left in pieces and governed with an iron fist.
The first step taken was to create the Centers for Protection of Omegas, better known as CPOs. Designed to become a haven for the vulnerable omegas, the giant constructs of white stone flourished in the outskirts of every big city on the country, including the Metropolis. They were fully fortified, isolated from alphas and violent betas, guarded every second of the day.
The CPOs were safe, a fact that convinced the omegas to move in easily, trusting in the fact that they would be enough to protect them and their pups.
And for a while, they were.
The CPOs would open their doors to any omega in need, no questions asked. They would provide shelter and food, even allowing those omegas that were mated to periodically receive visits from their partners in especial rooms provided. But with time and the General’s government that soon turned into a dictatorship, things weren’t as pretty anymore. No matter how hard the scientists tried, female alphas and betas never managed to become fertile again, and on the verge of a catastrophe, the world turned their backs on the most vulnerable.
The centers were no longer a safe place, but a prison.
Omega’s freedom was taken from them. They were stripped of their names, tracked at all times by a collar placed around their necks and separated from their families. The purpose? To breed them against their will, only to have their pups ripped from their arms, to be raised by the alphas and betas in the city. All in the name of the greater good.
It was horrifying.
Years down the road and under the rule of the Commander﹘the General’s son﹘things changed. Omegas were still kept at the CPOs but they were given a chance. They were allowed to leave right after their breeding quota was met.
“Consider it your duty with your country,” the Commander said in a conciliatory tone, still wary after the omegas’ attempt to rebel against the Republic, demanding for a better treatment. “Without the CPO, where would you all be? Most likely dead in a ditch, abused countless of times. We protect you from that...do your part and then we will give back to you. A place to live. Freedom. Let’s stop the fight.”
It was not ideal, but it was something.
A something where Jimin had been born into as an omega, incarcerated but with an advantage: he had the gift, just like his mother and his grandfather before her; the ability to predict, just by smell, the future of the pups at the moment they were born. The sweetness of the omegas, the rather uneventful human trait of betas, and the sharp spiciness of the alphas-to-be. All of that, with just a whiff. It was a skill few omegas had, and Jimin was the only one in the CPO of the Metropolis after his mother had been deemed too old to serve.
That little trait had ultimately protected Jimin from a life of suffering and empty arms. And he was grateful, very grateful.
The very same day Jimin had transitioned into a mature omega, at the young age of thirteen, his mother had been sent to the Omega Shelter and Jimin had received his first dose of the suppressants. Scientists had perfected them to the point in which, at the right dose, they were able to completely halt the development of secondary characteristics proper of the any class. As a consequence, Jimin still had the body of a little child, rather slender and frail, nothing of the omega roundness but for his soft cheeks.
Suppressants were administered to all omegas until they had to fulfill their role as Bearers. For Jimin, that would never happen. He would never carry a child until the day a replacement for him was needed and then he would only be allowed to have the pup if it was sure to be an omega.
As a parent, Jimin would know right from the start, or so his own mother told him before she left.
It’s been six years since that day.
“You look like crap.”
The statement is accompanied by a tray setting heavily opposite to his and Jimin raises his head to find Hyemi staring down at him. The nurse is spotless as always if not for the tiny speckle of blood on the pocket of her uniform. The blue of it is the only spot of color in a sea of omega gray. For reasons Jimin can’t understand, Hyemi likes him, preferring to sit with him for lunch instead of lounging in the beta dining hall. Jimin only questioned her once about it and after she replied saying omega food was better, he never asked again. He just enjoyed her quiet friendship. It made him feel less alone.
“Rough day,” murmurs Jimin as an excuse, concentrating again on the tray in front of him.
The food is, as always, an indistinguishable mass of gray. Lumpy and tasteless, it had taken years for the scientists to develop it after the supplements proved to be a failure. It might not look attractive, but it is full of all the nutrients omegas need. Jimin swallows it as fast as he can, the texture of it making him shudder from time to time.
Hyemi makes a noise in understanding, digging enthusiastically into her own lumpy food.
“We haven’t even finished yet.” Jimin shrugs and Hyemi pouts a little, reaching across the table to squeeze his hand. “I know why you are like this. I heard about Omega Forty-six…”
The food gets stuck in Jimin’s throat at the memory of Sehun, his eyes instantly traveling to Jongin, looking miserable at a table nearby. His eyes are rimmed red, his tray full of food even though he is almost ready to deliver. Jimin’s hold on his spoon tightens. If Jongin doesn’t eat his share, nurses will come and force it down his throat. It’s something Jimin refuses to see.
Following Jimin’s line of sight, Hyemi clicks her tongue and then proceeds to put more food into her mouth.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” she says reassuringly.
“Please be gentle,” requests Jimin, standing up. “He’s on his last month and he’s having multiple pups.”
Before he can lift his tray though, Hyemi’s fingers close around his wrist. Jimin looks at her bewildered and Hyemi points with her lips at the guard in the corner of the room. He’s looking straight at Jimin.
“Eat some more,” suggests Hyemi, eyes wary, “remember you need to maintain certain weight...and make sure you go get your suppressants soon. Your skin feels warm.”
Jimin settles back on his chair stiffly, opening wide as Hyemi spoons food into his mouth. It feels worse than usual and he thinks that his friend might be right. He needs those suppressants as soon as possible.
“I’ll go once I’m done with the Relocation,” he promises. “I’ve been distracted...lots of stuff on my mind…”
“Don’t let it drag too much...you know it’s not good.”
Hyemi nods, standing up and starting to move towards Jongin. Jimin doesn’t leave the room until the omega eats his first spoonful of food.
The suppressants Jimin receives not only stop his heats from happening but also block his scent. He smells like a little pup would to everyone else who isn’t Jimin, plain and unattractive. Or at least that’s how Hyemi explained it to him when he asked. It must be for that reason that Jimin is allowed to leave the CPO once a week to take the newborn pups to their future parents.
At the beginning, beta nurses were in charge of the Relocation of pups, but the newborns would cry so much that it was decided an omega should do it. Jimin’s scent, although nowhere close to how an omega should really smell, calmed the pups enough to made the trip safe. A crying pup could be easily detected and remainings of violent groups still attacked the city every once in awhile. Couples back in the city paid enormous amounts of money to have the right of calling a baby theirs, and the Republic used that to its whole advantage.
Losing a pup in the middle of a fight was not a risk they were willing to take.
Jimin goes through the motions of the Relocation mechanically: change the pup into new clothes, grab enough supply of milk to last a week, try not to think about the weeping omegas right around the other corner of the CPO, currently being milked so their pups can sleep placidly in the arms of someone else.
The soldiers are waiting for him when he steps into the underground garage. One of them holds his arm tightly during the whole trip and Jimin forces himself not to roll his eyes. It isn’t like he can escape; if he were to do so, his collar would activate and electrocute him on the spot.
Jimin jumps in his seat and the pup in his arms whines. He blinks a couple of times, noticing that the door is open and light﹘actual real sunlight﹘is pouring into the car. Jimin hates the duality of the Relocation. He hates that he secretly looks forward to it because it’s his only chance so see the actual sun.
He steps out of the truck and onto a street he’s never seen before. It’s full of alphas and betas going about their day and Jimin shrinks, intimidated, even though they can’t smell the weakness in him. The soldiers form a barrier around him and the pup, moving as a single force toward a building up ahead.
Jimin is preoccupied going through the mental list of pup supplies in the bag on his shoulder when he feels it. Or better said, he sniffs it. A whiff of omega. In the city, roaming free. He trips over his own feet and a soldier sticks out a hand to steady him, growling under his breath. Jimin dips his head low in submission, eyes scanning left and right until he sees it.
The omega; an unpresented child wandering around the streets.
The impossibility of it catches him off guard. The only option for such a thing to happen is if he himself made a terrible mistake at identifying one of the delivered pups.
The fear of such a mistake happening in the past fills Jimin. If his nose isn’t playing tricks on him, there’s a free omega that he incorrectly identified as alpha or beta in the city. One that will present one day in a city full of alphas and omegas ready to rip her apart. One that can get Jimin into a whole lot of trouble. The thought is so paralyzing that he doesn’t notice he’s standing in front of a couple until his collar vibrates with a tiny jolt of electricity that makes his toes curl in pain. Jimin winces but looks up at the couple anyway.
Alphas. Both of them.
“My baby,” says the woman, reaching out with her arms. “My baby boy.”
Jimin sniffs the pup quickly before passing him on, corroborating his alpha status once again. The little boy starts crying right when settled in the arms of the woman and Jimin can see her face going sour straight away. He hurries to dig into the bag, taking out a tiny blanket and offering it to the woman.
“The alpha scent is too strong for him right now,” Jimin explains in a low voice, asking permission with his eyes before placing the blanket between the woman and the pup’s face, “this blanket is soaked in the Bearer’s scent. It will help calm the pup until he adjusts.”
“Adjusts?” she says with her lips pursed.
“Yes, to your scent.”
Jimin removes the bag from his shoulders, passing it onto the stern alpha he assumes is the Dad.
“There should be enough milk to sustain him for a week,” Jimin explains, taking a step back. “As long as the Bearer can be milked then you shouldn’t need any supplements.”
“Is that all?” asks the woman, her eyes flashing red as she sniffs at the blanket, clearly detecting the omega pheromones on it. Jimin gulps, shaking his head in affirmation. “Very well then.”
The door all but closes in front of Jimin’s nose and then rough hands are dragging him back to the truck. It isn’t new to Jimin and he uses the time to sniff the air once more, not even caring for the balmy rays touching his face. It’s all for nothing, he comes out empty handed.
The little omega is gone and so is the light of the sun.
Hoseok straightens with a groan, hand flying to his waist to try and make the motion easier. Noticing, Namjoon crosses the room to place a soothing palm on Hoseok’s lower back, rubbing small circles until the omega is almost purring.
“What did I say about picking up stuff from the floor?” murmurs Namjoon into the curve of Hoseok’s neck.
“I’m not sure,” replies Hoseok, leaning back against his alpha’s chest. “You say so much shit sometimes I tune you out.”
Namjoon chuckles, squeezing Hoseok’s hips and then sliding his palms around until they are resting on the little swell of his abdomen. Sudden pride fills him at the knowledge that he did that. He made his omega round and soft, full of pups; no meds, no weird machines or stupid centers.
Only nature doing what it’s supposed to.
Hoseok turns around in Namjoon’s embrace, chewing on his lip. “Any news on the scouting group?”
Namjoon shakes his head, moving over to a chair and putting his sweater on. It’s been over a week since the group left their quarters in hopes of getting more information about the Metropolis, and he would lie if he said he was not worried about it. Glancing at the clock, Namjoon reaches for Hoseok, dropping a soft kiss on his lips.
“I have a meeting with the rebels from the north tomorrow,” he says, fixing the eagle pin that marks him as the leader of The Resistance on the front of his sweater. “I have a good feeling about it; I’m sure they’ll agree to collaborate.”
“Thought Hyunwoon considered your methods ‘not daring enough’,” comments Hoseok, crouching once again to pick up a shirt but this time, managing to lift it up. He folds it neatly, looking all smug about it, and Namjoon swears he can't be more in love.
“You are stubborn,” he says.
“It wasn’t my outstanding submissiveness that got you interested anyway.” He moves around the room some more, fixing the covers and organizing the shoes even though Namjoon protests. “So, how did you manage to get the north to talk? It looks like some magic shit, to be honest.”
Namjoon sort of smiles, though it looks more like a grimace.
“Yeah well...they met Jeongguk.”
Nestled in between the mountains, the underground hideout holding The Resistance is a monster of metal and concrete. Full of hallways that twist and turn, the place grew slowly but surely with each member who came to join them in the fight. It took years to finish a place big enough to hold all the people brave enough to defy the government, but Namjoon is happy with the results.
The corridors are buzzing with life as Namjoon makes his way to the assembly room. People greet him as he walks and Namjoon does his best to acknowledge each and everyone by name. His father always told him that the key to success was not only knowing the enemy as well as his own palm, but also the people surrounding him.
People feel more prone to fight for those they know, he used to say. For family.
The clock hits nine o’clock and Namjoon almost sprints down the last hallway. Seokjin is probably already sitting at the meeting room, jaw set and fingers drumming on the long table. Yoongi as well, the tech has barely gotten any sleep ever since the scouting squad left.
Namjoon rounds the corner in a few long strides. Drying his brow, he peers into the room through the door window. As expected, Yoongi is typing away on his laptop while Seokjin is spinning his gun on the table, chin jutted out in annoyance. When he finally steps in, the scent of cinnamon fills the air, a telltale sign of Seokjin’s distress. The alpha’s scent is so strong, Namjoon scrunches his nose. An involuntary rumbling starts in his chest and Yoongi rolls his eyes, mumbling about stupid alphas as he adjusts the jacket around his shoulders.
Namjoon reels himself in.
“I’m sorry,” he says, closing the door behind him. “Hoseok—”
Seokjin slaps a hand on top of his gun to stop the spinning. “This omega excuse is getting old.”
“Only because you haven’t managed to secure an omega for yourself,” retorts Namjoon, clamping his nose shut with the help of his fingers. Seokjin sticks his tongue out.
Yoongi yawns loudly, deep purple bags under his eyes. “Let’s start, ok? I’m fucking dead. Wanna go and sleep.”
Namjoon nods, dragging a chair out and sitting across from them. “Any news from the kids?”
Just in the way Seokjin grunts and stands up, Namjoon knows the answer is another worrying no. He rubs at his face with both palms.
“Nothing at all?” he tries again, glancing at Yoongi. The beta shakes his head.
“I lost Taehyung right at the border of the Metropolis,” says Yoongi, scratching the stubble on his cheek. “Only managed to track them randomly after that.”
“Told you not to listen to Jeongguk.”
Namjoon is about to snap back at Seokjin when Yoongi’s laptop starts beeping. Seokjin all but launches himself at it, Yoongi barely having enough time to push him away. He starts typing away immediately, ignoring the alpha’s constant hovering at his back.
“Is it Taehyung?” asks Namjoon, chewing on his lip.
“I'm trying to locate the signal…maybe we can talk to them.”
“Maybe?” urges Seokjin.
“Shut up,” spits Yoongi.
It’s takes a little bit more tweaking and annoying static to get what seems to be Taehyung breathing loudly through the speakers. Namjoon hurries to turn on the wall monitor.
“Kim,” says Seokjin immediately. “Taehyung.”
There’s a bit of panting and the sound of thumping feet but eventually the grainy image on the monitors clears and then Kim Taehyung is looking straight at them. The omega’s face is covered in grime and his nose is red, probably from the cold, but otherwise he looks unharmed. Namjoon slumps in his chair in relief.
“Where are you guys?” demands Seokjin.
From the looks of it, Taehyung is inside a building, most likely deserted, considering the state of the walls. Not an unusual occurrence in the outskirts of the Metropolis.
“More or less at the border,” replies Taehyung in a whisper, eyes scanning his surroundings. “We are real close to the city. Somi and Jaemin did some field work yesterday, lotsa new info on mapping it. Should be arriving at the base in a day or two.”
Yoongi sits straight up at that info, worriedly looking at Namjoon.
“What do you mean by that?” asks Seokjin.
Taehyung looks uncomfortable for a second, but recovers quickly. “See...we found a way to infiltrate the CPO—”
“No,” Namjoon interrupts. “Absolutely not.”
Taehyung sighs. “There’s this garage that opens sometimes...we sent the kids with Youngjae back. Everyone else’s staying.”
“I said no!” Namjoon says emphatically. “This was just a scouting mission, no interventions are allowed.”
“Tell that to Jeon.”
Seokjin curses, hands on his waist as he paces the room.
“When?” asks Yoongi, readjusting his glasses.
Taehyung makes a face, reluctant to offer the information but succumbing to the silent plea in Seokjin’s worried eyes. “According to Jaebum, the door should open tomorrow at the latest. They haven’t done any deliveries in a few days.”
The room falls silent. Namjoon considers the pros and cons of the situation. If Youngjae is coming back with the kids, that leaves only five of them for the attack. Not enough, not against the forces of the Republic.
“We just plan on mapping the place. Get some info, how many omegas, how many pups; in and out,” explains Taehyung. “That kind of shit. Yugyeom and I might go in, since we are the only omegas…”
Taehyung trails off. Sweat beads on his forehead and Namjoon groans. Being the leader is going to fucking kill him, that is, if Jeon Jeongguk doesn’t do it first. Taehyung mumbles something about contacting them later, before bowing his head and logging off. The connection goes silent.
“I’m going to sleep,” says Yoongi, closing his laptop.
“If anything happens to Taehyung,” threatens Seokjin, all kindness gone from the Healer’s face.
Namjoon clasps his shoulder.
“He’ll be fine. Jeon would never let anything happen to him.”
Taehyung walks out of the building to find his comrades heating up some food by the fire. Yugyeom sends him a look, pointing with his chin to a figure standing right at the corner of the block, probably on the lookout. Taehyung groans silently, knowing that Jeongguk is probably not in the best of moods. The alpha has been completely against contacting headquarters until they were on their way back. Taehyung did it anyway.
He’s never been an obedient omega after all.
Exhaling through his nose, Taehyung squares his shoulders, deciding to deal with the alpha right away. Jackson pats his calf in support, shit-eating grin on his face. Taehyung hits the beta, earning a low chuckle from Jaebum, the only other alpha in their small group.
Taehyung knows Jeongguk feels him approaching just in the way he tenses, muscles rippling under his loose undershirt. The material is almost translucent and absolutely useless in the coldness of the night, but Jeongguk doesn’t look bothered about it. Unlike Taehyung, who can’t stop the shivers on his way over, burrowing deeper into the heat contained by his own jacket.
Alphas and their stupid body heat.
“I assume you went on ahead and talked to the Leader,” Jeongguk says, breaking the silence surrounding them.
Taehyung walks until he’s standing beside him, eyeing the shining Metropolis in the distance and right beside it, the CPO. The omega prison is a beacon in the night, its white walls visible even from the distance.
“I had to,” Taehyung said. “Seokjin—”
“—is not your alpha, you don’t owe him anything,” interrupts Jeongguk, eyeing Taehyung disdainfully.
Taehyung huffs, his breath a white cloud in front of him. “You don’t understand.”
“As far as I know, he hasn’t claimed you yet, of course I do,” spits Jeongguk and Taehyung growls in response.
“Such as asshole,” he mutters. “No wonder no omega back home wants you.”
“Who said I wanted an omega.”
“You are so full of shit…”
Jeongguk growls as well, chest expanding in a show of power. Taehyung bares his teeth, even when all his instincts are screaming at him to duck his head and offer his neck in submission. Jeongguk rumbles, alpha pheromones filtering in the air and Taehyung starts sweating from the effort of standing his ground.
“Don’t be a jerk,” he mutters through his teeth and Jeongguk finally takes a step back.
He clears his throat, breathing deeply until his eyes go back to normal. “I’m sorry.”
Taehyung kicks him, drying his brow. “Me too...anyway, I told them about the mission. They weren’t happy…”
“Of course they weren’t...but we all agree it should be done, right?”
The plan was simple. Jaebum timed the schedule of the staff coming and going from the facility over a few days. They would use one of those instances to infiltrate, get Jaebum close enough to hook into their system and get enough information before leaving. In and out. If possible, maybe get Taehyung and Yugyeom to walk the facility, though Jaebum considered that too much of a risk.
“It’ll be fine,” says Jeongguk, patting Taehyung’s head. “I’ll be right behind you, all the time.”
Despite himself, the words leave a pleasant feeling in the omega’s chest.
“Don’t play best friend now…” Taehyung trails off, remembering the first time he saw Jeon Jeongguk.
Taehyung had been four years old back then, a chubby little pup unaware of the ugly side of the world. He had been curious as well, hence his presence at the hangars when a militant had arrived holding an unconscious, pregnant omega in her arms, closely followed by a group holding a black bag. Even at his small age, Taehyung knew that someone had died. His father - a Healer - had rushed to the group, shouting to take the omega to the infirmary with no delay. A few hours later, Taehyung was staring down at a newborn pup, cradled in the arms of his father.
“Who’s this?” Taehyung asked.
“His name is Jeon Jeongguk, he...he will stay with us from now on.”
“Why?” said Taehyung, poking at the pup’s cheek. It was soft and pudgy, making Taehyung smile.
His father sighed, eyes watery to Taehyung’s confusion and distress.
“His mother is with the gods right now.”
It wasn’t until Taehyung was fourteen and Jeongguk was ten that he understood what his father truly meant by that. Unlike Taehyung’s father, Jeongguk’s mother had not been a free omega. She had escaped from the CPO, aided by the beta soldier who had died right outside of The Resistance due to his battle wounds. Jeongguk’s mother had been a slave of the Republic.
Jeongguk was never the same after the revelation.
Afternoons of playing tag in the woods were replaced with hours on end at the gym. Nights of whispered secrets in Taehyung’s bed, with tense meetings in the assembly room. When Taehyung turned fifteen and presented as an omega, Jeongguk swore he would take down the Commander’s regimen, no matter what.
“I’ll never let them hurt you,” he whispered against Taehyung’s feverish brow. “Never.”
And now, ten years later, Jeongguk is nothing less than one of the strongest alphas in the Resistance and closer than ever to fulfilling his promise to Taehyung. His best friend. His brother.
“You know I’m not playing,” comments Jeongguk, a glint in his eye.
Taehyung nods, allowing himself a moment of softness. An omega’s true nature is nothing but a threat in times of war, but Taehyung thinks that it’s ok. For this small moment, he can let go.
Hyemi pushes Jimin roughly into one of the supply rooms, hand pressed against his mouth and eyes scanning the hallway before throwing the door shut.
“Are you out of your mind?” she hisses, finally letting go of Jimin.
Jimin grunts, massaging the spot where Hyemi grabbed his arm.
“Stupid betas,” he mutters. “Always with their violence.”
“Someone could have heard you!” Hyemi hisses again, ear pressed to the door and listening before turning back to face Jimin. “What is this nonsense about a wandering omega in the city?”
Jimin sighs, fixing his gray uniform.
“It’s what I told you. I’m sure I smelled an unpresented omega in the streets. A girl…”
Hyemi lets out a shaky breath, hands messing with her neat bun. She chews on her lower lip while Jimin can do nothing but squirm in place. There’s a tingling in his skin, an itch turning his clothes uncomfortable and the air around him too thick. Hyemi eyes him carefully. She lifts a hand, placing it on Jimin’s brow.
“Did you get the shot?” she asks. Jimin curses under his breath. Frowning, she opens the door slightly, scanning the hallway, before closing back again. “When is the next Relocation?”
“Tomorrow afternoon, why?”
“Keep an eye out so you can get a description,” she urges. “I’ll have a word with some friends, see if we can track down her family, fix it somehow.”
The idea sits heavy in Jimin’s stomach. He knows Hyemi is doing it to protect him, so no harm would come his way. But then again, she doesn’t understand how it is to be an omega and he can’t bring himself to tell her that he would rather be punished than take away the few remaining years of freedom that little girl might still have.
“I’m gonna go get that damn shot,” he mumbles, walking around Hyemi.
“Jimin,” she stresses, not letting go of the door handle. “Let me help you, please don’t be stubborn this time around...I don’t want to see you hurt.”
There’s a bit of pleading in her words, something Jimin knows must pain her a great deal. Betas don’t deal with begging very well. Reluctantly, he gives her a curt nod. With a exhale, Hyemi steps away, watching as Jimin slips out with a blank face. The faintest trail of his hidden scent follows him on his way out and Hyemi curses under her breath, pinching her arm to keep her hormones in check.
“God damnit,” she grumbles, patting down her hair and heading in the opposite direction. “He’s gonna kill me one day.”
Jimin gets to the infirmary with his skin feeling slightly clammy. The Nurse is already waiting for him, finger scrolling on the hovering screen, reading over Jimin’s file.
“You are late,” he says, turning the screen off.
“I know,” Jimin takes off his vest, walking forward and stepping on the scale. “I’m sorry.”
The nurse writes down the new data: no changes in height, a couple of kilograms lower than the last check up. He purses his lips, the set on them unsatisfied.
“Don’t skip your meals, Eighty-four. You never know when they might need you for breeding,” he chastises. “Stretcher.”
Jimin lies down, closing his eyes, knowing what’s to come. Fingers examine his body, taking his temperature, pressing down on his uterus and then skimming up to prod around his pectorals.
“Temperature is quite high but there doesn’t seem to be any mammary gland development.” The Nurse spares Jimin a condescending look before getting the shot ready. “Lucky...sit up, arm.”
As soon as the needle pierces skin and the suppressants flow into Jimin’s bloodstream, the itchiness goes away. Jimin sighs in relief, slumping against the wall. The nurse rolls his eyes as he wipes the skin clean, placing a bandaid on top of the puncture site.
“For omegas on suppressants, a disturbance like this could trigger a heat immediately,” lectures the Nurse, discarding the syringe in a bin. He turns back to face Jimin with his arms firmly crossed over his chest. “In your case, since you have never gone through a heat, such a strong release of repressed pheromones in a place like this could be extremely dangerous-”
“I’m sorry,” murmures Jimin, sliding off the stretcher.
The beta pushes him back.
“Even though all of the betas working in this place are currently receiving suppressants themselves, it might not be enough to control them. Your heat would most definitely trigger them. We might not go into ruts, but we feel the need. And believe me Omega Eighty-four, you do not want that to happen—” The Nurse looks stern. “Rape would be the least of your concerns.”
A shudder runs down Jimin’s spine, cold and unsettling.
Of course Jimin knows. He is aware of the way betas look at the omegas in the CPO. He’s aware of the lust even when suppressants keep the betas’ hormones in check, making them more rational around omegas’ heats. Jimin doesn’t know how a heat feels like but he has assisted omegas going through them; he has seen the delirious need in their golden eyes.
Jimin knows his first heat is going to be terrible, painful and long. His mother warned him about it and just the idea of being so helpless terrifies him.
He just hopes that when the time comes, no alphas or betas would be around.
The air is dusty, the heat on the brink of unbearable in the empty vastness of the land surrounding the Metropolis.
Jeongguk double checks the bullets in his gun. Pats down his leg to locate the knife firmly strapped against his thigh. To his left, Jackson is murmuring reassuring words right against Yugyeom’s ear. On his right, Taehyung chews on his lip, gray vest visible under the camo of his jacket. The uniforms that match the ones the omegas wear inside the CPO were supplied by an adherent from the city, all under the cloak of the night. It makes Taehyung look surprisingly pale, the lack of color a clear sign of the omega’s nervousness.
Jaebum taps his watch, two fingers pointing to his eyes and then to the CPO. He starts to count down from ten and Jeongguk feels his heart speed up. This is it.
Time to fight.
“Everything in order?”
Jimin looks up to find a beta soldier staring him down. He has a rifle against his chest and an annoyed expression on his face. The displeasure about his current situation is clear in all of his features and Jimin almost feels compelled to apologize but then he doesn’t. It isn’t his fault that the guard was assigned to babysit omegas, after all.
“Almost, just need to grab a couple more things,” Jimin replies, making some room in the pup’s bag.
The beta grunts, lip curling up. “Speed up, we are behind schedule.”
Jimin bows, moving to the shelves to grab another set of clothes and some supplies. The bottles of milk are the last to go in and then he walks into the nursery, where the beta pup is crying his lungs out. The Keeper holding him looks distressed. The lines are sharp around the corners of her eyes﹘a clear sign that she’s reaching her limits﹘and Jimin hurries to take the boy away from her.
“Did he eat?” Jimin asks, dropping a kiss on the temples of the slowly calming pup.
“A full bottle,” replies the Keeper, helping Jimin to strap the baby around his torso. “It’s gonna be a strong boy, the parents will be satisfied.”
Jimin attempts a smile, holding the pup close. “Of course.”
Blind to Jimin’s discomfort, the Keeper continues, “Good thing as well, they paid handsomely for this little boy.”
The statement takes Jimin back to the delivery he just assisted a few days ago. It had been the first one for the young omega, almost a full day of labor and streaming tears only to never get a chance to touch her first pup. It had broken Jimin’s heart the way she cried, the way she begged to see the face of her son just once. It was denied, of course.
The pup was never meant to be hers.
With a shudder, Jimin readjusts the weight of the pup against his chest, stepping out of the nursery and into the pre-room where the bag is now ready. He places it on his shoulder, the strap digging into his flesh. The soldiers are waiting in the hallway, some of them with their hands hovering over the guns on their waists.
Frowning, Jimin looks over and his heart sinks. The omega is there, teary-eyed and still not fully recovered from the milking, some of her friends are whispering in her ear, probably trying to convince her to walk away. The longing for her pup mixes perfectly with the hate she directs at Jimin. They all blame him, sooner or later. They all consider him more beta than omega, part of the system that abuses and tortures them against their will.
Jimin doesn’t resent them, many days he hates himself, too.
Ducking his head, he does his best to disappear in between the larger betas that form a shield around him. As soon as they are rounding the corner and going down the stairs, Jimin takes a deep breath, the feeling sweet in his protesting lungs. Soon he’ll get to see the sun, soon he’ll get to experience a little bit of the promised freedom that doesn’t seem to reach him fast enough.
The pup whines softly and Jimin stops to readjust the wrap around his tiny body. The soldiers advance before him, unlocking the door to the underground garage. The air coming from the space is not the usual one. There’s a spicy note in it that tickles Jimin’s sensitive nose and not in a pleasant way. The hairs on the back of his neck stand on end when the door closes behind his back with a swoosh, his eyes struggling to scan the garage all at once.
Jimin is about to laugh himself out of the unexplained fear when blood coats his face like a mist of red and the soldier in front of him falls lifeless to the ground. Like in slow motion, Jimin’s eyes zero in on the bullet hole on the soldier’s temples and the blood pooling onto the concrete beneath him.
Snipers. Someone is attacking the CPO.
“Rebels!” a soldier screams, finding cover behind a truck.
The others react immediately, firing guns and running around the facility, yelling orders left and right. The attackers are blurs of camo fabric as they move around the place, so hard to spot that Jimin could not be sure they are real if it weren’t for the soldiers being shot left and right.
The pup breaks into loud wails.
Jimin cradles the crying boy closer to his chest; he has to hide, otherwise a stray bullet might hit him and that’d be the end of it. Omegas don’t have access to any outdoor doors so Jimin discards trying to get back into the facility, opting for the door leading to a small control room in the corner. He is running in that direction when a soldier bumps into him, sending him to the floor. Jimin crashes on his side, head hitting the concrete painfully when he’s unable to stop the fall.
“Don’t know! Too many, too many!”
“Trigger the alarm!”
The pup’s cries are deafening but Jimin has no time to check on him; he just gets up as fast as he can, leaving his bag behind with the door as the only thing on his mind. His ears are ringing by the time he throws the door open, the alarms wailing after someone managed to activate them. Jimin closes the door behind him, whirling around only to find that he’s not alone. From the opposite side of the control room, a rebel stares at him, hands holding a device that’s connected to the control panel on the wall.
Jimin’s lungs stop working for a second. He takes a step back when the rebel makes to reach for his gun. He is about to open his mouth to let out a scream, hand curling around the door handle, when cold metal presses against his temple and a strong scent clogs his nose.
“Don’t you dare,” a voice threatens from behind Jimin. “Jaebum, we gotta go.” The rebel by the panel nods curtly, fingers flying over the screen of the device. “And you,” the alpha continues, pressing the gun deeper against Jimin’s skin. Jimin whimpers softly in response, eyes filling with tears. “Better stay nice and quiet if you don’t want your brains scattered all over the place.”
The screaming intensifies outside the room and the rebel in front of Jimin yanks the cables out of the control panel.
“It’s done,” he says, pocketing the device and picking up the machine gun leaning against the wall. “Let’s go.”
Jimin is pushed forward, gun now placed in between his shoulder blades.