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of silver skies and broken rockets

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2293, Graduation Day

It was graduation day, students lined up outside the door, uniforms tightened and pressed to a T. They looked prepared to take on an army of enemy fleets, but appearances were just that, anyone who’d ever been in their shoes - top of the line military grade boots - knew that they were far from prepared.

The sky was a rich ombre of orange and pink and as the students watched the stage bend and sway beneath the weight of the professors and generals gathered on it. The one of interest in particular, was a shorter man, with a short poorly trimmed mustache across his top lip. His uniform was the most decorated and the weight of his importance was felt across the courtyard.

“Students of KSA Outlet 2,” the man’s voice brimmed over the crowd, as he spoke into the microphone. He sniffed once, it was caught and distributed through the speakers. A few murmurs and chuckles from the younger students earned a stern look. “Welcome to graduation. You are no longer students. You are now cadets. Some of you may be entering special or officers training, some of you may be being assigned to units, some of you may already be moving to the front.

Regardless, you’re soldiers now. I thank you for the hard work you have done, and the harder work that you will do. Good luck on where you go from here. Remember, people... Vivet ad rem Publicam .” his speech ending smoothly with the motto of the KSA, Live for the Republic. He saluted, watching the pose reflect back on him in a ripple effect across the crowd of students. With a bow, he backed his way off the stage.

Behind the security of the cloth sheet that worked as a backdrop for the stage, the man adjusted some of the signets on his uniform and turned to see a sleek woman watching him, her bright eyes framed by her violently red hair. Her lips were plump, but pursed into a thin line. She appeared disapproving.

“Still deceitful, I see, Admiral Kang,” she spoke curtly.

The older man bowed his head in greeting, remembering his manners even if she hadn’t, and he swept his tongue across his lips before speaking. “I can’t help that they’re ignorant-”

“They’re young ,” she hissed. “There’s a difference, Admiral.”

“Miss Kim,” he sighed. “They will learn. They signed up for this program, they were not forced. How long they last out there is nothing to do with me, my job was to get them out there and I’ve done just that.”

“They’re going to die, because of your program and you all know it. So with all due respect, sir, fuck you,” and with that, she stalked out of the backstage area, leaving the Admiral to seethe at her back.

 


 

Three weeks previously

“Jihoon,” Minho spread his limbs out across the couch he had dramatically draped himself across, the stark white of the floors left him in a glowing lighting that made his dark skin look bronze. “I’ll never graduate.”

His same-age friend, Jihoon, was poised at the tablet stand, his fingers dancing over the screen as he searched for the textbook he’d rented the previous week. “Minho-yah, of course we’ll graduate,” his voice deep sounded encouraging at first, but he quickly changed his tune. “And if you don’t, you’ll just die in space, what difference does it make?”

“Calming thoughts, eh, hyung?” Minho clicked his tongue at his friend and swung his legs off the couch. He knew where he was at in the program, he knew how far behind he’d fallen in his classes and how much physically weaker he was than everyone else.

Jihoon was at the same level of physical capabilities that Minho was, but at least the older boy was an excellent marksman. Minho was clumsy and stumbled all over the place, he was bad at keeping time for their mission challenges and he couldn’t keep quiet for shit. He had no stealth skills and poor arms skills. He was all but useless.

“You do realize you’re speaking aloud, correct?” Jihoon scoffed at the pitiful look on Minho’s face. “You don’t need to be such a baby about it, just ask Mr. Class President for help.”

His tone was more than a little bitter and Minho’s eyes narrowed at the moniker he’d chosen to use for Jiho, it couldn’t be helped that Minho had accidentally become friends with the class president and it wasn’t his fault that Jiho wanted to help him with his homework. If Jihoon was jealous, that was Jihoon’s problem, but Minho would accept the class president’s help any day, he needed it.

The class bell rang and the two students grumbled as they shuffled down the hall towards their next class, which was one of Minho’s least favorites. Military Scientology. The entire half hour was spent listening to their professor go on and on about the tactics required to form an adequate battle formation and how if you’re spread out far, it’ll be too easy to lose someone but if you’re too close together, one bomb could “end your whole team. That’s it. End of squad. You’re all dead.”

As they settled into their seats, Minho prepared himself to not listen for the entirety of class, maybe even get a good nap in. However as soon as he sat down, he noticed Jiho sliding in next to him, a sly grin on his face. Minho couldn’t not return the smile, a tiny blush following it onto his features.

“Good evening, class,” greeted Mrs. Choi, her round glasses perched on her nose as she tapped her pointer on the desk to gain attention. There was a rumble of “good evening, Mrs. Choi,” but no one really meant it. As she started into her usual spiel of what was the science behind the military, what the real ‘foundation’ was and what were the basic requirements for a functioning military.

Minho looked as a small writing tablet slid in front of him

Plans after class? It read.

He smirked a little and scribbled a response with the tip of his finger.

  1. what’d you have in mind?

The sly grin was still firm on Jiho’s face and he side eyed Minho with a tiny puff of air--it might have been a chuckle, it was hard to tell. The problem with being friends with Jiho, aside from the class president thing, which led to jealousy from others and entitlement from the man in question, was that he had such a big mind. There was so much going on in his head that it was impossible to keep up with and Minho never knew what he was thinking.

I got something new. Wanna hit later?

sure

Minho glanced at Jiho, who eyed him back, a silent mutual promise of secrecy was exchanged as they went back to pretending to pay attention. It wouldn’t be until later that Minho thought anything of the way Jiho’s foot had brushed his own.

 


 

After school, students were meant to attend a daily meeting of the plans for the week and then free time would be allowed, mostly for studying or going to the market. But Minho had trust in Jihoon to relay the discussed plans with him later and he allowed Jiho to tug him out of the school and out into the back grounds.

He was holding onto Minho’s sleeve and running across the gardens with the younger in tow, when they reached the edge of the synthetic woods, Jiho took a quick glance around before starting to pull him into the line of trees.

A shout distracted them.

“Woo Jiho!” the stern voice of Jiho’s older brother, Sergeant Woo Jiseok, marching towards them across the grass mats. His jaw was clenched and his eyebrows furrowed, the usual expression that he directed towards Jiho. “Where do you think you’re going? The meeting started two minutes ago.”

Jiho’s gulp was audible and visible and it made Minho himself feel nervous, he knew only a little of Jiseok and Jiho’s relationship, but what he did know of wasn’t pleasant. There was a lot of history there and he was concerned how much control over his little brother Sgt. Woo had.

“Hyung,” Jiho gulped, licking his lips. “I mean- Sgt.,” he glanced at Minho out of the corner of his eye. His gaze dropped to their hands, where he was still clutching the sleeve of the younger boy.

The hand moved away from his sleeve and Minho wondered if he felt ashamed, but it wasn’t more than a half second later that his hand moved to Minho’s ear and snatched it up. When Jiho spoke, Minho had a hard time recognizing his voice.

“This brat spoke out of turn, I didn’t want any of the professors to see, but...” he looked again at the boy in his grip, his fingers pinching his lobe, but not squeezing too hard. Minho could - and would - have slipped out if he didn’t know better. “He needs to learn his lesson.”

No one knew Sgt. Woo better than his own blood, and Minho was almost concerned as he saw the shift in the officer’s expression, going from suspicious to pleased in a sickly fashion. “Good. I see you’re using your status well...finally,” the older’s eyes grazed over Minho and he held back a shiver. “Make sure he learns it well.”

Jiho simply nodded in reply, waiting until Jiseok had turned his back and begun walking away, one last sharp glance over his shoulder, before the older boy tugged Minho into the trees. They ran further into the woods, Jiho’s hand still clutching Minho’s ear until they were deep enough in to be covered by the trees. His hand quickly fell to his side and he started walking closer to Minho, close enough for their hands to brush.

“Sorry, Mino-yah,” he whispered, his accent made Minho’s name sound lazy in his mouth.

“It’s okay,” the boy grumbled, unadmittedly endeared by the way his name was said.

“I’ll make it up to you,” he bargained, but the grunt in reply was all he was given as they pushed their way through the synthetic brush.

When they finally found a clearing, they settled onto the ground, not caring if their pants got dirty. Jiho withdrew a small bag from his pockets, as well as a few small papers and a lighter. He set them on the ground in front of them and his eyes moved up to meet Minho’s.

It didn’t take them long to both have a joint secured between their lips, dirt smeared on the thighs of Jiho’s pants where he had wiped his hands after tucking the supplies back into his pockets.

“Y’know, Mino,” he rumbled around the joint in his mouth. “Ever since I first saw you, I always thought one thing.”

The smoke that poured from his lips was almost mesmerizing and as Minho tried not to let the burning in his eyes lead to tears, he swallowed and asked. “What’s that?”

He really just needs a hit ,” the older coughed and laughed with a wheeze, before wiping his nose on the back of his hand. “And here you are, doing exactly that. It’ll do you a lot of good, I promise.”

A thought in the back of his mind got brushed away like cobwebs ( he’s crazy , still whispered at the back of Minho’s ears) and the younger blinked up at the trees. “Yeah, here’s hoping,” he muttered, nibbling on the end of the joint. The crushed tobacco leaked between his teeth to stain his tongue, it tasted like the scent of the incense Jihoon was always burning in their dorm.

“You looking forwards to graduation?” Minho suddenly asked, curious. Despite being class president - more due to his parents money and status than anything - Jiho never seemed to show any kind of dedication to the Republic, much unlike his brother.

The older rasped out another laugh, leaning back to spit into the grass, before growling. “Naw, man, fuck that,” he sounded carefree in a way that made Minho’s chest ache with envy. “The Republic’s shit anyways, what’s the point?”

“Well, everyone expects it of you,” Minho’s voice had lowered to little more than a mumble, but he felt a firm hand clasp his chin.

“Who gives a fuck about their expectations?” Jiho spoke clearly and as he lifted Minho’s head to stare into his eyes, the younger’s heart started to beat faster. “They don’t own us, Mino.”

 


 

Jiho’s words were printed onto the back of Minho’s eyes, he couldn’t look at a professor without seeing those words, reflecting back on him, reminding him. They don’t own us. They don’t own you. He was having trouble focusing in class and by the time he got back to his dorm, he was so worn out, he felt like passing out.

“What the hell?” Jihoon demanded, throwing his bag onto his bed. “You said Woo Jiho would help you, but your grades are getting worse and worse. You’ve not been paying any attention in any of your classes!”

Before, Minho would have brushed off Jihoon’s nagging, before Jihoon would have accepted this and shut up after awhile. But recently, Minho had realized that he didn’t have to sit and take this, he didn’t have to listen to his roommate and best friend whine at him about his classes like he was his mother. He didn’t have to accept this kind of treatment from anyone.

Influenced by the power of words that he’d heard once or twice, Minho spoke very plainly and simply. “Fuck off, Jihoon.”

Minho and Jihoon had grown up across the plot from each other, their mothers did laundry together, as children they had played in the no gravity fields together. They both came from good homes that encouraged a purity of the mind, mouth and soul. Their mothers would have scolded them severely if they’d even caught the words “hell” or “damn” coming from their mouths, which Jihoon had started using once he was out of earshot of his mother.

But this, this was something else entirely and Jihoon blushed furiously at Minho’s words. Anger bubbled beneath his surface and his eyes were alight with a flame that was unfamiliar to Minho, he looked like a stranger for a moment.

“Jiho really has you under his thumb, huh?” Jihoon’s voice was venomous and it seemed to grate against Minho’s temperament like a match against strike paper.

“What does that mean?” Minho leapt to his feet, his back rolling off his bed.

“You know what it means,” Jihoon fumed. “He’s got you all caught up in his words. You’d do anything he told you to, wouldn’t you? Like a...like a pet!”

Minho had heard enough, his blood felt like it was boiling over and he let out a cry of frustration as he struck Jihoon across the jaw. He had never resorted to his fists to let his anger out, until now. Jihoon retaliated with a punch to Minho’s mouth, sufficiently splitting the skin on his lip.

Thankfully, they’d left the door to their room open and passersby noticed the fight quickly, alerting others around them, until a pair of older students caught wind and rushed to the room. It took several minutes to successfully pry them apart, bitter words still being spit between the two.

“You’ve always been easy and you always will be!”

“No one owns me, Jihoon!”

Watching his own supposed best friend be pulled away from him seemed to strike a chord in Minho, a daunting realization that Woo Jiho did change things for him, but perhaps it was for the better.

 


 

“You fought with him?” Jiho’s eyebrows raised. “Well shit, kid I didn’t think you had it in you,” he laughed.

Minho’s swollen lip ached as he stretched it into a smile, an exact replica of Jiho’s sly grin and the dull pride in him made it feel worth it. “Yeah, I guess so. But it’s not fair, they suspended me for a week, how am I supposed to get my grades up if I can’t even attend class? They know exactly what they’re doing to me.”

“They’re giving you a week of freedom? And you’re bitching?” Jiho laughed again. Minho was learning that spending time with Jiho was like one big joke, because he was always laughing. Minho liked that about him.

“I didn’t really think about it like that,” Minho muttered, his bottom lip getting caught between his teeth as he spoke. He began chewing on the lip. “I wonder what I should do with my stolen time.”

“Not stolen,” Jiho corrected, sitting up, the grass that was beneath his back was not stuck on his jacket. “Given. You were given this time for a reason, Minho. You should do something with it. Something to make sure that the fuckin’ Republic never forgets your name.”

“Like what?” Minho’s eyes widened.

Consideration was taken seriously for a moment, Minho still chewing away at his lip and Jiho with his hands folded and his chin resting on top. The thoughts that swirled behind the older boy’s hues was almost mesmerizing to Minho and he leaned forwards to try to get a better glimpse.

“I’ve got it,” Jiho grinned.

 


 

2297, 4 Years Later

“Move your fucking ass, or you’re literally going to be toast,” the growled command reached the soldier’s ears and he sighed bitterly.

“Why can’t I at least be a waffle?” he attempted to mutter his response, but it was received on the other end and his superior’s scoff was sharp through the headset.

The voice of Captain Kwon was normally one that encouraged people to do things, but not this soldier, this soldier was still determined to take his time. He puttered through the course, shooting the assigned targets and eventually when he reached the end, he simply high-fived the ‘enemy’ leader and walked through the exit.

“You dumbass,” Kwon hissed as soon as the younger man exited the training course, finding himself face to face with the seething captain. “You can’t keep doing this, you know. They’re going to make you do it again.”

“Oh please, it’s my last course, I graduate tomorrow. What difference will it make whether or not I complete it? I already have top marks,” the man rolled his eyes.

“Seungyoon-” Kwon started, but stopped as he received a pat on the arm from the soldier, watching as he - how dare he? - sauntered away. “Fuck you!”

The saccharine smile on Seungyoon’s face was enough to prove that Kwon’s words meant nothing to him anymore, he was no longer afraid of the superior officer and he was no longer intimidated by his stern expression. He was graduating tomorrow, he was almost free of this entire place.

When Seungyoon had agreed to enter into advanced training, he didn’t consider how far back in life it would set him. Special training would make him into an ‘elite soldier - the best of the best’ but how would he be the best if he was graduating at 23, while everyone else had already been on the field since they were 18? He felt behind...in everything.

However that was the last thing that would stop Seungyoon, he was so close to freedom he could taste it. But freedom was never really freedom, as he had signed his life over to the Republic and would do his duty as any good soldier should. Knowing the oath that he would recite tomorrow, he would swear to live and die under the Republic’s name, no matter what.

But it would be worth it, to never have to taste the air in this hell hole again.

 


 

Graduation from special training was a private affair, unlike regular graduation. It wasn’t a grand party, there were no family and friends to cheer you on. It was a dark room, your superiors and the Admiral. Forms were signed, a badge was given, you were told where to go and what to do and it was over like that.

For Seungyoon, it was all a haze and when he stepped out of the room, he felt as if he’d never stepped in there in the first place. The only proof that anything had ever occurred in there was that he was wearing a brand new badge and was holding a tablet that had the coordinates for his transportation on it.

He was allowed one bag of belongings onboard and as soon as he’d finished packing it - sure to attach the only trinkets he’d ever owned, a few keychains from his home and a small necklace from his first love - he was on his way. The winding halls of the KSA station were hard to navigate and after 8 years here, he figured it’d be familiar to him, but he was going towards the side of the station that he’d never been allowed before. The docks.

The docks were swarmed with merchants and soldiers, traveling in and out. Huddled over men pushed carts full of wares and a group of women in uniforms - a few looked injured - were pushing their way past, no doubt headed for the infirmary.

Seungyoon swallowed thickly and tried not to think too much of the fact that that would be him one day, he’d be headed back to the stations with burns across his forehead and cuts on his lips. One day, he’d be leaving the battlefield instead of heading directly for it.

Dock 82

He spotted it on the left side and he carefully walked towards it, peering at the crowd of people by it. Some of them were pushing cars up the ramp and onto the ship, some of them were simply travellers, clutching their few belongings and trying to squeeze themselves in with the merchants. One man in particular caught Seungyoon’s attention and he approached him.

“Uhm, this is the Gyeongjik ?” he asked hesitantly.

The man was much taller than Seungyoon and he had the kind of bulging muscles that struck fear deep inside of any passersby. His face was stern and he fixed Seungyoon with a cold expression.

“What’s it to you?”

“I’m supposed to be on it. Kang Seungyoon?” he was hopeful and as the man’s eyes scanned over a tablet in his hand, he found himself silently praying. He didn’t want any trouble, after all, it was his first time going anywhere on his own.

“It’s leaving any second now, hurry your ass,” the man growled.

Seungyoon was grateful for the stealth and speed training he’d received as he grabbed his bag and moved as quickly as he could onto the ship. It was a low class freighter ship and it was old. The back was tightly packed with passengers and as Seungyoon tried to find a free seat, he realized that most of them smelled terrible.

The rusty interior of the ship made the young man worry for what the condition of the outside was, no doubt the hull had multiple cracks. But it would work and get him from point A to point B. And to make matters worse, Seungyoon was stuck next to a mother and child, the latter of which was very noisy.

Half an hour into the journey, the toddler started crying, chewing on his pigtails and clinging to his mother’s pants in a desperate cry for attention. The mother sighed irritably and brushed the child off, telling him to hush.

Seungyoon may have spent the past four years icing his heart and learning how to forget compassion was even a word, but he wasn’t on the field yet so there was no point in being cold hearted now. He crouched down, till he was face to face with the toddler and he gently poked the kid’s shoulder.

The child looked over his shoulder as him, tear stained cheeks still quivering.

“Don’t cry,” Seungyoon chirped, reaching out a knuckle to swipe at the tear tracks. “There’s nothing to be sad about.”

Wide eyes blinked in response at Seungyoon and eventually the boy turned all the way around to face the soldier and a small chubby fist reached up to clutch the knuckle that had brushed his face. The child’s grip tightened when Seungyoon attempted to pull his hand away.

“Here,” Seungyoon murmured, reaching over to his backpack. He unhooked one of the keychains, it was a small copper bear head and he turned to press it into the child’s hand. “It has special powers.”

The boy’s eyebrows raised in interest and when Seungyoon crooked a finger, the boy pressed close. The man whispered into the child’s ear, his deep voice unheard from the adults in proximity. “It will protect you from ignorance,” he recited the words he’d heard from his mother so long ago. “If you believe in it, your thoughts will never cloud.”

Apparently this wasn’t captivating a revelation on this 3 year old as it was on 14 year old Seungyoon and the soldier was disappointed as the kid shrugged a little and started to suck on the copper keychain. If he got sick, Seungyoon thought, at least he’d be far away before the kid started to show any symptoms.

The ship lurched as it increased speed, now clear of the freeway, which was an intersection in between the planet 7382-NX where the KSA Station was placed and the closest QS planet. Traffic was always backed up a couple hundred thousand miles, making it difficult to go as fast as they needed. At some points they were slowed to 59,000 MPH and Seungyoon felt like tearing his hair out, it would take them hours to get there.

Now with the traffic cleared up as they were on an off-route, things were going much smoother, however due to the increased speed, the old ship was rattling something awful. Seungyoon had to hold onto his bag and an elderly man next to him, in an attempt to save them both.

The old man bowed his head in thanks when the rattling eased up enough for him to stand on his own and the young soldier returned the bow, with a small smile. At this rate, all Seungyoon could think about was the number of strangers he’d touched. He’d probably contracted at least two diseases.

Trying to be subtle, he withdrew a spray mask from his pocket and pressed the trigger a few times over his lips and nose, feeling the medicine form onto his skin, creating a protective layer. Now he at least didn’t have to worry about further diseases breaching his immune system.

After nearly two hours, the freighter finally screeched to a halt at the first stop. Union Cross , the voice over the loudspeaker read off and Seungyoon checked his coordinates. This was where he got off. This was where he met his ‘unit’, this was where everything changed.

He pushed his way off the freighter, throwing a small wave towards the toddler he’d given his keychain to, the smile on the child’s face made him feel a little better about himself as he walked down the ramp into the crowd of people who were swarming the platform. It would be a struggle to get through them all.

As he pushed past people, he peered through the crowd, just barely making out a neon sign that read Sungyeon , that must be him. Despite the misspelling he was happy that there was actually someone waiting for him. He could do without the attraction the neon sign brought but as he got closer, he could get a good look at the sign holder.

It was a small man, with big eyes and carrot colored hair. He looked alert and serious and was dressed in a completely black combat uniform - a heavy contrast from Seungyoon’s own yellow and grey dress uniform from the ‘graduation’.

He approached the man and peered at him for a moment, before speaking up. “Hello, sir,” he greeted, saluting. “I’m Kang Seu-”

“Shut up, kid!” the man hissed, one hand dropping a corner of the sign and shooting out to clap a hand over his mouth. “Do you want everyone to know your name?”

“Oh, sorry. Well, here’s my identification,” he reached into the breast pocket of his uniform and handed a small chip to the man, who snatched it from his grip. He held it close to his face and read over the writing that was engraved into the microchip.

The man rolled his eyes and tucked the microchip into his pocket. “Alright, well follow me,” he directed and started off through the crowd.

Seungyoon was close on his heels, but as he’d never been off-world before, as soon as they broke free of the docks dome, he found his eyes torn to the sky and his mouth hung open in amazement. The pastel green and yellow sky seemed to stretch forever and it was adorned with burning pink stars that looked like tiny flower buds set into frosting on a spring cake.

Beings of every shape, size and color were making their way down the road, creatures resembling horses were meandering through the crowd, pulling wagons of wares or luggage. It looked like a good old fashioned marketplace and Seungyoon felt a mixture of feelings inside him as he looked between his uniform and their drab garments.

The inhabitants of this planet looked poor, not just poor, but...meak. Their faces were gaunt and he wondered if they were starving, as he got a closer look at the orange tinted ridges that spread across one person’s head. He wasn’t sure what was normal for these people here, but as he raced to catch up with his escort, he felt a bit of shame for assuming.

When the man stopped at a vehicle of sorts - it was more like a gas powered carriage than anything - he climbed into the right seat and gestured for Seungyoon to join him. The soldier hesitantly clambered into the passenger seat and began searching for a seatbelt. There was none.

Nor was there a windshield and as they set off, he suddenly felt concern about the dust, as great big clouds of it billowed out behind them. He risked a glance over his shoulder to see the dirt begin to settle on everything within a ten foot radius, other carts, people and even food stands were coated in it now. He grimaced.

The vehicle moved much faster than he would have expected and he found himself gripping onto the bottom part of the seat, not wanting to look at his companion, the other man’s careless posture visible in his peripheral. They lurched through the streets, the small houses were illuminated on the inside from lamps, filled with Light Stuff, a cleverly named bioluminescent fluid which had been discovered nearly half a century ago.

Seungyoon found it difficult to tear his eyes away from the village around them, his interest piqued at every single living space or group of people that they passed. A small chuckle caught his attention and he turned to see the other man with a small smirk on his face.

“You’re new to this, aren’t you?” he asked.

The soldier nodded.

“I thought special forces were supposed to be cold hearted, sum’bitches,” he quirked an eyebrow at Seungyoon, who shrugged.

“I guess I’m unusual.”

“Didn’t let them break you, huh? They must’ve loved that.”

They rode in silence for the rest of the way, when the vehicle stopped, Seungyoon perked up and took note of their surroundings. A miserable looking building was surrounded by overgrown plants of varying colors, looking like a rainbow of growth at the base. He slowly slid off the wagon, following the man to the entrance of the building, which was a tall doorway that was illuminated by the street lights.

The man entered in a passcode and Seungyoon watched in awe as the door slid upwards, revealing a...oh. There was an ill lit sitting room that had various couches and chairs, seven men were sprawled across the furniture and Seungyoon couldn’t take in all of them at once, so he tried to focus on one at a time.

A shorter man with an angular face was leaning his elbows on a table, he had a wicked grin on his face and a fire lurking behind his eyes. A silver stud secured his eyebrow in a permanently curious expression. He had beady eyes that peered at Seungyoon from across the room through parted blonde locks and the soldier felt a shiver run down his spine.

His gaze shifted to the next man, this one was tall and thin - almost wispy - he eyes were narrowed into slits and his mouth was pursed into a line. His round face was framed by long strands of black hair that had slipped out of the ponytail that was secured behind his head. He was sitting on the couch, drumming his fingers judgmentally.

Next to him on the couch was a smaller man who could have been mistaken for his brother, he chewing on his bottom lip and he was all but nestled into the bigger man’s side. There was a spark in his eyes that warned Seungyoon to stay where he was. He looked young too, his innocent look was aided by the shockingly blonde hair that came down to cover his ears, curling under his eye.

The next one that caught Seungyoon’s attention was a handsome looking man, he had a squared jaw and big round eyes, that looked interested in everything. He had sandy hair that covered his forehead and part of one of his eyes. There was a confidence that could be felt from across the room.

Peering through the darkness, Seungyoon made out a figure, black cropped hair slicked back off a pale forehead. He was distracted by the eyes peering at him through the shadows and he shivered a little. Not much could be said for this one.

The last two were a large muscular looking kid - he had to have been a few years younger than Seungyoon - he had a decently friendly face, youthful with big ears that stuck out like wings from his reddish hair and next to him was a man who was surprisingly beautiful, Seungyoon decided. He had dark tan skin that looked like melted caramel, he seemed to glow in the dim lights. He was wearing combat gear, oddly enough and he had a stern expression, his oddly deep purple hair seemed to offset his general look.

“‘Sup,” was all Seungyoon said in greeting, receiving a ripple of sneers from across the room.

There was a voice that came from the figure in the dark, it was deep and soft, despite the harshness of the words. “Who the hell are you?”

“Uhm, Se-”

The man who’d brought him here slapped a hand over his mouth. “Yooni,” he interrupted, turning fiery eyes on Seungyoon, making the soldier stare back at him with wild eyes, confusion laced in his hues.

“Sure. Yooni,” he finally spat, after shoving the other man’s hand off.

There was a few chuckles around the room, not the amused “ you’re funny, I think I’m going to show my appreciation for your humor with a laugh ” but rather a “ you’re stupid, allow me to mock you ” sort of chuckle and it frustrated Seungyoon to no end.

“Don’t tell me this....idiot is our new squad member?” the words were venomous, coming from the handsome one. Seungyoon knew something was off about him.

“He looks like leader-nim,” came a soft voice and another round of bitter chuckles were shared.

Seungyoon had never felt more unwelcome. If he was younger and more inexperienced, he might have had to bite back tears, but they didn’t come in situations like this anymore, instead what he got was a bubble of anger that made him huff.

“Introduce yourselves, don’t be rude,” Seungyoon’s escort sighed, even though they had already been very rude.

“Oh come on, Blockbuster,” the frighteningly alert one at the table sighed, his eyes still looked intense and Seungyoon couldn’t look at him for more than a few seconds. “He’ll catch up eventually, why do we have to do a fucking roll call?”

The man - Blockbuster? - cast his eyes to the ceiling, as if begging for patience. “Fine, whatever. But you’re going to have to accept him sooner or later. I’m going to go find Z.”

And with that he was gone, leaving Seungyoon to face this pack on his own. He felt his skin crawl as sharp gazes seemed to rake across his body, before they all lost interest at once and suddenly went back to focusing on what they were doing before. Which appeared to be a game of cards, watching videos on tablets and even an arm wrestling match - although seeing as he was the only person at that table, there must have been more to it than met the eye.

Whatever conversation Seungyoon and his escort had interrupted struck back up, sounding surprisingly jovial despite the wickedness they’d directed at the newcomer. He felt himself deflate a little as he listened to them, quickly losing track of who was talking.

“I still can’t believe you pissed your fucking pants, Rex. There are literally bathrooms in every corner of the hall.”

“I was 11, you dick.”

“It’s just an execution, what’s to be traumatized by?”

Another card was dealt and an outbreak of jeers and curses erupted, startling Seungyoon. Their words were starting to cloud around his head and he watched lean pale hands deal another round of cards out. A sharpness in the movements was mesmerizing.

“Give him a break,” this voice was smoother than the rest.

“Sorry Eomma, I forgot you don’t like fighting.”

“I can and will kick your ass.”

“Hey, don’t piss off Eomma, he’ll decapitate you with a blink of his eye.”

“Chill the fuck out. Anyways when you’d get so far up his ass?”

“Maybe he’s been up my ass.”

“I most certainly have not.”

A cackle rippled through the air and Seungyoon watched the owner of the sound wipe his nose on his hand, before going back to arm wrestling with nothing.

“You’re all fucking insane.”

Seungyoon mentally agreed with that.

“Z,” someone purred.

Mind still fuzzy, Seungyoon slowly looked over his shoulder, finding himself face to face with someone who looked shockingly like what he last remembered himself looking like. The most prominent difference being the eyepatch secured tightly over his right eye, his lips weren’t quite as full as Seungyoon’s and the eye that was visible didn’t look as sleepy. Taken aback, the soldier quickly stepped away from the man.

The man’s hair was a dark rust color and swept off his forehead, he was dressed - surprisingly - in a dark grey sweater and loose comfortable looking pants. He was surveying Seungyoon with a peculiar gaze, an awareness in his eye that was disconcerting and Seungyoon suddenly felt like he was being scrutinized.

“So,” his voice was rough but soft, like a ragged whisper. “You’re Yooni,” he practically spat his name and Seungyoon twitched, but didn’t let his uncertainty show on his face. “The new recruit from KSA.”

“Man, fuck KSA!”

“Shut up,” the man snarled. “Joker, what did we say about interrupting?”

The lanky one at the table ducked his head and muttered. “Sorry, Z.”

Z, Seungyoon could only assume this was his name, continued in a steady tone. “What’re your skills?”

“I’m special forces,” Seungyoon explained simply, as if this answered his questions.

Taking a step forwards and almost pushing the soldier off his feet, Z loomed in close, his face almost frightening up close. “That’s not what I asked.”

From this close, Seungyoon could make out a jagged line that came from underneath his eyepatch. It was a red and scarred and crept down the man’s cheekbone. He realized too late that he’d been staring and the fury that slowly appeared on Z’s face made Seungyoon swallow, his throat feeling like it was filled with thick bile.

“Uh, everything? That’s the whole point of special forces,” he blurted out, trying not to look Z in the eye, for fear of finding himself staring at the tip of the scar again.

Expecting more harsh words, Seungyoon was surprised when his response was met with a loud bark of laughter. He watched as Z stepped away and threw his head back, his short bursts of laughter making his chest heave. Seungyoon tried not to think about how full it looked under that sweater.

“Nobody’s good at everything,” sneered the pretty boy as he rose to his feet, creeping closer.

Z held up a hand, stopping the man in his tracks. “Easy, One,” he cooed, reaching out to flick at Seungyoon’s chin, laugh lines still painting the cheeks of his face. “You’re kinda cute. We’ll let you stay.”

A murmur of disagreement spread, but before anyone could say something, the figure was moving out of the shadows and dashing across the room to cling to Z’s arm. It was a fresh faced man, who looked like he might be around Seungyoon’s age, he had dark hair that was sticking out in all directions, his lips were formed into an amused pout.

“Ohhh, Z, of course he’s cute, he looks like you,” the man’s voice was surprisingly deep and he had a cheeky look about him. It made Seungyoon’s stomach twist, he told himself it was disgust.

“If you like him so much,” Z slowly turned and faced the man, leaning close so their noses were touching. “Then, he’s all yours.”

The man gave a look of surprise, his eyebrows raised and his lips forming a little ‘o’, it was oddly cu- no, dumb, it was a stupid look on him. Seungyoon shook his head to himself as the man looked at him, he was about the same height.

Z turned to leave, waving his hand and all the men rose from where they were sitting, moving to follow him. He sauntered over to a staircase that Seungyoon hadn’t even seen before, he cast one last look at the soldier, a burning look full of things that Seungyoon couldn’t read. And then he was gone, the rest of the unit trailing after him, each with their own look of distrust or otherwise rejection towards the newcomer.

Everyone left. Except him. His eyebrows were still raised as he looked closer at Seungyoon, he wasn’t disgusted or bothered, none of the bitterness from earlier. He seemed entirely focused on staring at Seungyoon, until the young soldier became uncomfortable and turned away.

“Sorry,” the man chuckled. “You really look a lot like him.”

Seungyoon huffed.

“I’m Mino,” a soft looking hand was offered. Seungyoon shook it. “Come here.”

Mino grabbed at Seungyoon’s wrist and was pulling him up the staircase, turning left down a hall and disappearing into darkness. He could no longer see where they were going, but he assumed Mino knew the way. And if need be, he was pretty sure he could take Mino in a fistfight.

A door was being unlocked, the beeping of the keypad caught his ears and he tensed for a moment as there was a swish and the door slid open. He blinked. Warm light flooded his eyes and he squinted as a bedroom came into view. There was two beds and a rug. A wardrobe and another door. That was all that adorned the room.

“Is this...” Seungyoon peered around, his brow slowly creeping upwards. “Your room?”

Mino laughed, it was a warm sound that flooded Seungyoon’s senses. “Well I don’t live here, but yeah.”

“Oh, you don’t?” Seungyoon gave an unimpressed look as he poked at one of the beds, watching it creak and sigh beneath his finger. How uncomfortable...

“Uhm, no,” Mino chuckled. “You didn’t know this was a hotel?”

“No,” Seungyoon blinked at him. He’d never been off-world, hotels were very different on this QS planet. “I didn’t.”

“Okay...” Mino’s tongue darted out to swipe across his pink lip, his teeth sinking into it, turning it from pink to red. “Well, you can have that bed, it’s not been used.”

Seungyoon followed his pointing hand to the bed on the right, it looked much more comfortable than the sunken bed on the left. He frowned a little, but sat on it anyways.

For the first time in weeks, Seungyoon went to bed that night wanting to cry himself to sleep.

 


 

They packed up the remainder of their things and then Seungyoon was suddenly being shoved outside, ushered on by Blockbuster and Mino, they were the only ones who treated him like a real person anyways. The ship outside was a sleek fighter class vessel with a 4.3 lite-engine, Seungyoon stared at it in awe as he examined the sharp rounded edges. It was entirely black save a few blue caps here and there.

He’d never been this close to one before, let alone one this big. He crept closer and considered touching it, but the stern look he was receiving from Ponyboy - the haunted looking blonde - made him change his mind.

It was a struggle, but he was slowly learning everybody’s names and positions. The crazy one was Joker, he had a mouth like a sailor and he was definitely insane. There was Mino, he seemed to be some kind of weapons expert, but he was glued to the leader’s side 24/7. The leader was Z, he had seen some shit.

There was Blockbuster, the carrot head who had brought Seungyoon here, he seemed to quietly keep things running smoothly. The large dark skinned man with the purple locks was questionably referred to as Eomma. He seemed to be some kind of on-hand bodyguard.

The one who resembled a dinosaur - who literally never left Eomma’s side, was aptly named Rex, he seemed to be the extra muscle of the group. The tall gaunt looking one that Seungyoon didn’t dare get near was Reaper, he didn’t seem to ever find anything amusing, but he must have been reliable as everyone turned to him for answers and help.

Ponyboy was the technician and he was the only one who could follow Reaper without being told off. And the last one, curiously enough was called 1AM, he was the too handsome arrogant one who set Seungyoon’s teeth on edge. His position in the group seemed to be Resident Punching Bag. With the exception of Seungyoon - courtesy of being a new arrival - any and all jokes generally revolved around 1AM.

He didn’t seem to mind too much and Seungyoon wondered what kind of self-assurance he had to have to be able to take the constant teasing. But he didn’t wonder too hard, as he found the less he thought about 1AM, the happier he was.

Being on this wonderful ship as it turns out, wasn’t as great as Seungyoon had first thought as he found himself sandwiched between Rex and Eomma, and despite being about their height, he still felt impossibly small. They were both hulking figures who were imposing in their own ways and intimidating in that they were stone faced and their lips were drawn into tight lines.

The ship lurched to life and Seungyoon found himself being thrown sideways, his body crashed into Rex’s and he was surprised by how firm the arms that grabbed onto him were, hauling him upright. Rex looked surprised and when he turned, he was faced with Eomma’s eyes, boring into him warningly.

“Watch yourself,” the man spoke, his voice was sterner than Seungyoon had heard it before and he wondered momentarily if there was some kind of a possessiveness between him and Rex. He stepped away, hands raised and apologetic.

An odd tension resided between them and he crept away from them as much as he could, while still being trapped in the back of the ship with them. He noticed that Ponyboy was piloting and Reaper was manning the co-pilot position, they really must be inseparable. Doing his best not to get in anyone’s way, he settled onto the floor, in a little corner. He felt a bit like a child, holding his knees and hiding in the back, but it was better than getting squashed or threatened by the two hulking soldiers next to him.

He peered through the group of legs before him to see that he wasn’t the only one who’d taken to the floor. Oddly enough, Z was hunched on the ground right behind the co-pilot seat, his eyes closed as he took deep breaths and seemed to be trying to will away his own existence. Seungyoon peered curiously at him and moved to get closer, but he felt a hand suddenly come down on his shoulder.

“Sir doesn’t like ships,” came Joker’s lazy drawl from above, “They make him uncomfy.”

“How so?”

Another voice cut in, 1AM’s slightly Busan accented words reminding Seungyoon of his own sometimes. “He’s had some bad experiences in the past. Leave him be.”

The soldier looked up between the two men above him, at some point they must have replaced Eomma and Rex, who were further away from him now. He felt his stomach sink, these two were his least favorite, they liked to make things difficult for him.

His point was proven as halfway through the next hour, 1AM had leaned down and started asking him intensely personal questions that he knew he shouldn’t answer for security reasons. He inquired about his family and where he grew up, he asked if he had any allergies and he asked if he was a virgin. None of which Seungyoon answered, with the exception of the occasional eyeroll.

“He’s not answering me,” 1AM pouted up at Joker, he moved closer, till Seungyoon’s nose met his knee.

Joker’s manic look set Seungyoon’s teeth on edge and he felt a prickle run through his skin as the deranged man leaned all the way down to stare into his eyes. He only just now noticed that one of his eyes were slightly different from the other. He blinked at him for a moment, before leaning close and letting his tongue slide along Seungyoon’s brow bone.

“Tastes stubborn,” Joker murmured when he pulled away.

Trying not to recoil in disgust, Seungyoon simply held his ground with a clenched jaw. He was not about to break face in front of these freaks. 1AM’s quiet cackling could be overheard from above, but with the way they were standing, no one else on board would have been able to see Seungyoon in his position.

It was just him against them.

“Come on, don’t be such a spoil sport,” Joker sneered, lifting his hand to Seungyoon’s jaw, pressing his thumb against the man’s lips. Seungyoon kept his mouth firmly closed, but with enough pressure, Joker’s thumb broke his hold and pushed it’s way into his mouth, his thumbnail cutting his lip from the force.

His thumb pressed against Seungyoon’s tongue, the taste of oil and dirt was apparent on his skin and the young soldier did everything he could not to gag--or bite down on the thumb. The last thing he wanted was to piss them off anymore.

The finger in his mouth twisted and soon the thumbnail was pressing against his tongue, as if trying to break the skin. The rest of his fingers came down to wrap around his jaw and tug his face close to Joker’s thigh, his forehead meeting something warm and fleshy through his trousers. Seungyoon didn’t want to think about it.

“So cute like this,” Joker ground between his teeth.

“I don’t think-” 1AM started but Joker hissed, shutting him up.

Fucking coward, Seungyoon thought.

“Like a little puppy,” the deranged soldier started to crouch down, the warmth pressing against Seungyoon’s forehead moved down the side of his face until Joker was crouched in front of him, still holding onto his jaw. He brought his face down until his nose met his boot. “Stay, puppy.”

Being in the special military certainly taught you humility, but it didn’t teach you to submit to wackjobs who were trying to make you look weak. Every ounce of Seungyoon’s blood was boiling in anger, he wanted to flip this creep over and make him taste his own boots. But he held his ground, knowing that fighting back wouldn’t win him any favors here.

He was incredibly good at trying patience, this Joker. Seungyoon quickly learned this as he pressed close to his ear, the toe of his boot bopping his nose roughly as he spoke. “Good boy,” he purred, his nails cutting into the skin of his jaw and the center of his tongue.

Blood was starting to creep against his tastebuds and Seungyoon shut his eyes tight, he just needed to stay patient until the other man got bored. That’s how you got rid of people like this, wasn’t it?

Joker ,” came a growl and within seconds the psychotic man was being hauled to his feet, his hand ripped from the grip it had on Seungyoon’s jaw, leaving claw streaks along his chin and leaving his tongue burning numbly, blood filling his mouth.

Looking up - startled by the tears that stung the corners of his eyes at the pain in his jaw - Seungyoon was surprised to see Z with a tight grip on the back of Joker’s collar. There was a wild look in his eye as he snarled quiet words into the man’s ear, before shoving him away. Joker scampered to the back, looking like a kicked pet.

Z fixed Seungyoon with an emotionless gaze, before he dipped down and his hand swept low, catching his hand and pulling him to his feet. He used one hand to push against Seungyoon’s chest, slamming him against the wall.

And here I thought he was helping , Seungyoon thought glumly, not looking forwards to whatever this man had planned for him.

But Z simply tilted his chin back, examined the marks in his skin. He traced the bloody line with one finger, noticing that Seungyoon did not flinch, not even when he applied some pressure. The captain huffed slightly, a foul breath hitting Seungyoon straight on, before he pushed him once more - chuckling at the way he bounced back off the wall - and he went back to his corner on the floor.

The rest of the flight was relatively quiet, as Seungyoon stuck to his spot, pressed against the wall as close as he could get. Rex and Eomma had resumed their place in front of him, almost serving as a shield between him and the two glowering psychopaths that stood across from him. 1AM’s dark eyes were heavy and occasionally shifted over him, a warning somewhere behind his pupils.

Joker was as fidgety as ever, sometimes he would sit and pout and cast sour looks in Z’s direction, but sometimes - when no one else was looking at him - he would make eye contact with Seungyoon and slowly, slowly lick his lips. He looked ready to devour the new soldier and Seungyoon had never before felt so uncomfortable in his life.

“Where are we going actually?” he asked Rex, whose rounded eyes skirted over him before flicking to Eomma. No response was given by the older man, so Rex spoke.

“Our first mission of the month. It’s about damn time, if you ask me,” he muttered. “We could do to get paid about now.”

Seungyoon nodded a little. He wasn’t quite sure how missions here worked, but he figured he was about to find out.

When the ship finally lurched and groaned and came to a halt, Seungyoon felt his stomach flip. The inertial dampeners could do with some fine tuning, but he wasn’t going to complain and he simply filed out of the ship, after the other members.

Blockbuster skittered up next to him and nudged him gently. “Stick with me,” he warned.

The ship had landed in some kind of old dock, it smelled like oil and was thick with smoke. Seungyoon tried not to choke on the air alone, but he coughed a few times, enough to cause annoyance in the other men. Eomma looked disgusted, as if he was contagious.

The dock as it turned out was one of many and as they exited the main cavern, they found themselves in a vast hallway that stretched out for what seemed like ever. Hallway was an understatement for this place, it was big, it looked like a city street. The smoke shrouded their sight to where there was no telling where the ceiling was or most of the walls, but what they could see was endless cold metal.

Reaper led the way as they began a long journey down the metal street, examining every opening that they happened across. There was a sense of formation and it was this moment that Seungyoon was reminded that they were all trained by the same company, they were all soldiers at the end of the day.

He felt as if everyone had a place and knew it, as they slipped into a comfortable pattern. All except Seungyoon. He shuffled quietly towards the back, with Blockbuster, who was keeping a close on behind them. He felt a tad bit awkward, but refused to let it show and so followed his instincts. Keep a low profile, a close eye on your surroundings and don’t ever relax entirely.

As it turned out, applying these rules to all parts of his life right now was working out pretty well for him. He didn’t say anything to the others as they moved as one through the smoke and the smell of burnt oil seemed to be getting stronger.

Now that he was thinking about it, he didn’t even know what their mission was per se. He knew that they were in a war with about two different races, but he wasn’t sure outside of that. What was the purpose of this team? What were they were supposed to do? What were they doing?

He almost asked Blockbuster, but kept his mouth shut for the time being. He’d learn with time and more importantly, now was not the time to be asking questions that would put him even lower on everyone else’s shit-lists.

When they came to stop at a crevice in the wall, Seungyoon tried to see what Reaper and Z were fiddling with, but he decided against nosing about and kept to the back of the group. He waited for a minute or so, before the wall was breaking inwards and sliding back to reveal a doorway that led into a dark hallway. This one the size of a normal hallway.

One by one, they entered the hall, Reaper making a hand signal at Eomma, who hung at the back until everyone was herded into the hall. The walls were built of a dark grey metal and the lights that pulsed beneath the cracks along the interior were a vibrant purple. It was hard not to squint in the LED glare.

The door behind them with a slid shut with a loud bang and 1AM jumped, before making a sheepish face and turning his back to the others. They all moved as one down the hall, each of them alert and overly aware of their surroundings. Each hiss from the pipes or hum from the lights overhead made heads turn.

When they finally broke from the end of the hallway, they found themselves standing in a smaller room with a raised console in the center. Ponyboy immediately went to it and crouched, he pulled off a panel from the base of the console and began fiddling with whatever was behind it. The walls were covered in screens and smaller consoles were beneath each of these.

“Don’t touch anything,” Ponyboy whispered into the quiet of the room, addressing everyone. There was shuffled feet and Seungyoon found himself staring at a very embarrassed Blockbuster, who was holding his hands up in defense.

“Oh.”

The red haired man seemed thoroughly ashamed of himself as Ponyboy stared at him wildly. “Don’t touch anything else,” he grumbled.

For several minutes, the only sounds were the click of the tools the young technician was using and the breathing of the men around him. At some point he demanded that they breathe quieter as it was harder for him to concentrate.

Seungyoon was still lost to what the mission here was, but he labored his breathing regardless. If he pissed Ponyboy off, he’d piss Reaper off and then he’d have two very difficult rivals on his hands.

“Done,” Ponyboy announced, rising and dusting his hands off on his pants.

“Great, let’s get out of here,” Z growled, motioning for Reaper to check the hall they’d come in through.

Wait, Seungyoon’s mind spun. “That’s it?” he scoffed.

Blockbuster swatted at his arm warningly, but he ignored it. “We came all this way just for that?” Seungyoon’s eyes narrowed at Z.

The other members of the team very slowly looked between Seungyoon and Z, they seemed to be worried about how this would end. But Seungyoon wasn’t afraid of the team leader, out of all of the things that he’d faced in his life, Z was far down his list.

“Yeah,” Z spoke carefully. “You got a problem with that?”

“It’s stupid! You didn’t even tell us what we came for and now we’re done? You made a big deal over a few buttons?”

The man stepped closer, his likeness to Seungyoon made him just a tiny bit more intimidating. There was a tiny smirk playing at his lips as he closed in. “Does that make you feel special? The new guy who has to question the leader? Is that what makes you feel big?”

His voice was quiet, but his words made Seungyoon feel like he was being shouted at. Shame plunged through his gut as there was various chuckles through the group. He couldn’t just blame it on them now, he had made himself look like an idiot.

“No, sir,” he spoke through gritted teeth.

His words awoke a sort of light in Z’s eyes and he reached out a hand to thumb over Seungyoon’s cheek, he almost flinched, his mouth still tasted like blood from Joker’s antics earlier.

Z breathed something that sounded like ‘ cute ’, but he pulled away from Seungyoon and pointed towards the door. “Let’s get out of here.”

 


 

The path back to the ship was short lived and in what felt like no time, Seungyoon was pressed against the wall of the ship again. In front of him was Blockbuster and Joker, who had shoved Rex out of the way to claim this spot. He fidgeted in next to the red head, occasionally casting shifty glances down at the man, who was busy watching the cockpit, where Z was whispering with Reaper.

There was something unsettling about Reaper and Seungyoon couldn’t put his tongue on it, he was quiet but his voice was so soft, almost like a woman’s. He knew he’d been staring too long, but he couldn’t tug his gaze away until Reaper’s eyes snapped up to meet his, his glare made a shiver run down Seungyoon’s spine. He quickly looked away.

“See something you like?” Joker hissed, looking between Seungyoon and the two in the cockpit.

“Shut up, Joker,” Blockbuster sighed.

Seungyoon was grateful for Blockbuster in this moment, he knew that he at least didn’t hate him or want to eat him, so he felt slightly comforted by his presence. As the ship rocked and shook, pushing its way through space, the astral clouds of gas that hung amongst the chunks of asteroid were cast aside as the ship launched towards their next destination.

“Where exactly are we going?” Mino suddenly asked, as if reading Seungyoon’s mind.

Z lazily called a response from the cockpit. “Wherever the hell we want.”

A scoff came from Ponyboy. “We’re going back to the home world to wait for our next assignment.”

“Wait,” 1AM stood up. “We’re going back?”

“Don’t get used to it,” Z sneered.

Seungyoon felt at a loss as there was a wash of uneasiness that went over the other members, a mixture of happiness, relief and discontent. Some of them were obviously more pleased than others about this news, however Z, Eomma and Joker seemed the most displeased of all.

What could be so bad about going home? Seungyoon wondered.

He would soon find out.