Here’s the thing, you’re not actually a gullible fool of an idiot.
So, when ‘Unknown’ gives you some bullshit ‘religious’ reason as to why the address absolutely must be gone to, why the owner of the mysterious phone he has must be found, you scoff and ask him for a better excuse because you’re an atheist. When the new excuse he comes up with is that it’s a surprise for his girlfriend, you call him out on that bull as well. You tell him to lie better, lie smarter, and to your surprise, he does.
He says he just wanted to play a prank on his friend, freaking them out a bit by sending a stranger over to their house with a ‘mysterious’ message.
You go to the house because improvement like that should be rewarded. Honestly, the lies before were so incredibly shitty. The prank thing isn’t that good either but it’s a vast improvement over ‘My religion made me do it’ and ‘I wanted to give my girlfriend an awesome surprise’. So you go to the house and he tells you to input the password and leave the note there on the desk where it can be seen obviously so that his friend freaks out, thinking someone managed to break into his house. You send a mental pat to ‘Unknown’ for continuing with the facade, consistency in lying is key to being believed.
But, again, you’re not a gullible idiot. So when he sends you the passcode, you type it in really quickly, making sure to get it wrong knowing it would send an alarm to whoever lived there and get their attention.
It works a bit too well. A red light and alarm blares and even as you stand there in full view of the camera mounted to the top that suddenly switches on and swivels to look at you, you hear a stream of swearing from nearby, accompanied by thumping footsteps leading away from where you were. On your phone you type out your real number on a note along with a request to call on it and raise it to the camera.
Your phone rings and you pick it up, “And who might this little spider be, walking into my web?” asks a playful voice but you can hear keys clicking loudly in the background of the call, as if the person typing is furious and taking it out on the keyboard.
“I found this dating app on the app store and when I opened it, someone named Unknown bullshitted about finding a phone in a subway with this messenger, being unable to find the person the phone belonged to and asked me to go to the address and input the password info that was on the phone he found. The passcode he gave me was *****, I put it in wrong on purpose so you’d get warned. I think that person was nearby and watching me do all this because I could hear random swearing when I ‘fucked up’. You might want to check with the building security to find out who that person was. See ya.”
You began to walk away from the door but were stopped when the person on the phone let out loud exclamations against it. “No, no, no, you can’t leave, this is a very sensitive situation and -”
“I don’t care.” You cut the call and return back to your apartment which has the greatest security in the world. No ultra modern locks that need passwords or anything but a squeaky floorboard outside your apartment, a couple of rusty deadbolts that screech bloody murder when opened, no other points of entry like windows because ventilation is overrated and expensive.
The real security risk is the paper thin walls collapsing which is pretty ludicrous and you laugh at the thought.
(And forgo your atheistic values for a few moments to pray fervently that it doesn’t actually happen.)
And you sleep.
You wake up, barely minutes after falling asleep to find your phone buzzing with notifications.
That stupid app was the source of all your troubles. You were pretty sure you uninstalled it but this RFA thing was like a cockroach in that it just wouldn’t die. You open it to see a myriad of messages, starting off cute and cuddly, a friend group talking about ridiculous shit until it takes a turn when one of them talks about the events of the day with her going to that place, and then chaos ensues. Apparently the person who owned that apartment was some woman named Rika, a woman who sounded like she had serious trust issues given no one knew her address except for people involved with paying for it or with the security. You understand secrecy as well as the next person but you felt safest when your friends came over and drank themselves into a stupor, you can’t fathom someone knowing and loving all these people and not letting them know where they lived.
Your thoughts come to a halt as it becomes obvious that this Rika is dead.
Speak no ill of the dead, right?
Eh, you’ve never believed in that anyway. Just because someone is dead, doesn’t mean they didn’t make mistakes when alive.
When they realise you’re still there and reading their messages to one another they freak out again and your patience reaches its end.
“Go to sleep you little shits” You type out and without checking to see how they take the message you turn your phone off and go back to sleep.
In your dreams a pretty blonde girl is there, talking about heaven and religion. You punch her in the face and the floaty sweet world turns into an WWE style fighting ring, complete with audience.
Lost in your dreams, newly of broken teeth and black eyes, you smile.
Jaehee Kang: ...That name is familiar
Jaehee Kang: I’ve seen it across my desk
707: She was never a C&R employee, I checked.
Jaehee Kang: I need to check something
[Jaehee Kang has left the chatroom]
[Jumin Han has entered the chatroom]
Jumin Han: This rude woman is associated with C&R? I find that hard to believe.
[Jaehee Kang has entered the chatroom]
Jaehee Kang: Ah, I found it. MC was one of the translators we looked at hiring for the contracts with the oil prince.
Yoosung★: Whoa, oil prince?
Jaehee Kang: Yes, we needed to have copies of the contract in Arabic, Korean and English. In the end we decided to go with someone else because HR thought her per hour fee was too high.
Yoosung★: She speaks Arabic and English?
Jaehee Kang: According to her resume, Arabic, English, Korean, Hindi, Hebrew and Farsi.
Jumin Han: Didn’t we end up having to get one of the Prince’s people redo the contract?
Jaehee Kang: Yes. They said it was the funniest thing they’d read in ages.
Jumin Han: I don’t remember it being that bad.
Jaehee Kang: It was humiliating, I’m not surprised you blocked the memory.
Jaehee Kang: They said Google translate could have done a better job.
Jaehee Kang: They said if a three year old just learning to read sat down with a Korean to Arabic dictionary and did it themselves, it would be a better translation
Jaehee Kang: They wondered how the person translating got the Arabic for ‘remunerations’ confused with ‘genital warts’.
Jumin Han: Yes, that’s enough, my memory has been jogged.
Jumin Han: We’ll make her a job offer then. Keep her in our sights.I want to know exactly why she was sent to Rika’s apartment, what’s her connection to the RFA
Jaehee Kang: I’ll call HR, tell them to send out a message.
You make your way to the C&R building, your heels clicking against the pavement with every step. You’re wearing your Boss Ass Bitch outfit rather than your usual interview one because you feel like one. The war paint of red on your lips makes you smile as you feel the slip of the colour that had glided on before, and you step into the building with more ease and poise than many others who clearly worked there.
Then again, perhaps it was the fact that they worked there that had them feeling down, who knew?
You get your security badge and make your way to to the designated room, humming softly under your breath. A woman stands outside, short brown hair, slim rectangular glasses and professional pinstripe skirt at the ready. She types something into the phone as she sees you coming down the hallway and you feel the phone in your purse vibrate and are hard pressed to contain your smile.
“Ah, MC, Mr Han himself will be conducting your interview.” She announces with a reluctant pomposity, as if instructed to do so. You suppose that it might be intimidating to some people to know that the CEO himself would be conducting the interview.
“Thank you for telling me that Assistant Kang.”
She startles and you smirk as she clears her throat, “I didn’t introduce myself.” She states questioningly and you laugh softly.
“You know I can scroll up and read the chats even if I wasn’t a part of them, right?”
You see the curses Jaehee is muffling in her widening eyes and pat her on the shoulder. It’s cute that they underestimate you so much. Or perhaps they overestimate themselves, whatever it is, it has played to your strengths. “Thanks for the heads up.” You tell her before walking into the room where Mr Jumin Han is waiting to presumably intimidate you.
This will be fun, you haven’t laid a verbal smackdown on someone in ages and fresh meat is always appreciated.
Jaehee had been turning to stare at the closed doors every few seconds. The meeting had gone on longer than expected but that made sense. Mr Han was meticulous in his preparation for everything but when things happened to disrupt his plans, it shook him up, for all that he didn’t let it show. MC knowing what they were planning to do had laid waste to his plans of getting her to go back to Rika’s apartment and plan a party the way V wanted her to.
Mr Han did not do well in spontaneous negotiations. When surprised, he started quoting popular k-dramas. He didn’t get surprised often so she hadn’t seen it happen that much anyway and with his stern demeanour, it often tended to work out well for him. It frustrated her quite often.
But she didn’t think it would work on MC.
Finally the doors opened and Mr Han and MC came out, the former all but sagging with a twitch in his eye, the latter floating her way out with glee, her heels making barely any sound as she hummed.
“Assistant Kang, you will be forwarded the reworked contract, please see to it that a copy goes through Legal before it is signed.” Mr Han said and MC smiled.
“Yes, Mr Han. May I ask what terms were decided on?” Jaehee said tentatively, not wanting to set Mr Han off. She prepared for a long week ahead, Mr Han would probably be starting up a few more cat related businesses with the stress of this all. Considering that Mr Han’s father had a new girlfriend she’d been well prepared for it but still, the thought made her want to sigh.
Thanks heavens she had the DVD of Zen in Zorro to get her through the tough nights.
“MC will be on retainer as a planner for the RFA and translating a few contracts for us.”
That was unexpected. Jaehee had fully expected MC to reject anything to do with the RFA.
(Later that day she would read the zeroes attached to MC’s retainer fee and whistle in appreciation, understanding very well why MC took the job.)
“Ah, will you be needing any guidance regarding Rika’s materials?”
“Ah, then will you be staying at her house for access to her materials?”
Mr Han cleared his throat, “MC will be working from an office in this building, Assistant Kang please see to it that the one on the fifteenth floor, west wing, is ready as a workplace.”
The west wing was a new acquisition and was thus equipped with a ton of CCTV cameras, Jaehee could see why Mr Han was putting her there. But why not use Rika’s meticulously prepared materials, her contacts, Jaehee didn’t quite understand. The question must have been obvious because MC answered it even when Jaehee didn’t voice it.
“Rika is dead. I am not dead, nor am I her. I have no intention of being her surrogate to make your group feel better. My job is to plan a party inviting as many guests as possible with the purpose of raising funds, not to be your grief counsellor. I am not trained for that, nor have I the patience for it. Beyond that, given that Rika apparently took her own life, the mental state she was in while making her files, and her management of the parties is under doubt. Unless Mr Han is willing to let me hand over any evidence I might find regarding wrongdoings during the same over to the police, I am not going to touch anything she did with a ten foot pole.” Jaehee felt like she had been punched in the throat but MC continued, unsympathetic and cold. “The fact that Rika died under such mysterious circumstances and yet, no police investigation was conducted paints a rather ugly picture of you all. I want to keep myself out of this picture.”
“We’re only protecting everything she stood for.” Mr Han said, barely checked anger flashing in his eyes.
“By denying her justice, by denying her story to be told? I can only hope to never merit your ‘protection’ then.” Abruptly MC smiled, big and bright, and the slash of red that was her mouth reminded Jaehee of the lions in documentaries with bloodied mouths after a good meal, “Well, I’ll be off. Please make sure to forward the contract to me once it has been vetted. Thank you for your time.”
With those cheery words, MC left, leaving a terribly tense silence in her wake.
This took a turn from what I intended. But really one of the things that frustrated me when playing the game was Rika's mysterious death. I get that foreshadowing exists but the way the RFA members talked about her death made them seem like total flakes.
You have one basic rule in place : Question everything.
It was a good rule to have, one that you put into place in your early days of learning all the languages that were your livelihood. You used to set yourself assignments of searching for news articles and literature to read in the languages you were learning. Reading about the same incident from all these different points of view, written in different languages, different terms, one more emotional, one more cold, some uncaring and nonchalant, some accusative and aggressive, it had you questioning what you believed you knew early on. You learnt what cognitive dissonance meant. It had changed you, learning to read in between lines when you could barely read the lines themselves but it opened your eyes to the lies of the world.
Question everything .
So you did.
RFA said they had been hacked. Was this true?
You thought so.It made sense for them to be hacked rather than luring you in for some secret purpose. Providing access to Jumin Han, who was worth so much money, so much information, that didn’t make sense in any other context.
RFA claimed to be some sort of great charity. Was this true?
Yes. You had contacts of your own, some in journalism, some in catering, some in business and they had said RFA parties were famous but exclusive as hell, which explained why you hadn’t heard much about them.
RFA claimed that after Rika’s ‘death’ they’d fallen to pieces and hadn’t had the heart to have the parties anymore. Was this true?
To some extent. You believed they thought that was the reason why they hadn’t held the parties again. But you thought it more likely that the parties didn’t benefit them as much and so they didn’t think about them as much as they thought about Rika.
They all claimed to have different reason for wanting your around. Seven believe you might be in danger, targeted by the Hacker for a reason, Jumin and Jaehee believed you to be suspicious and wanted to keep an eye on you, Yoosung seemed to believe you to be the next coming of Rika and Zen thought you were attractive.
You believe them when they said that but…
Why did that mean that you were somehow destined to be the party planner? There were people who had dedicated themselves to a career of it so why you? You were a translator with a minor in historical linguistics, nothing about that screams ‘Party planner’.
It took a bit of backtracking through conversations but you figured out the reason why.
The ever elusive photographer and Rika’s ex-fiance.
Which led you to the next question. RFA insisted using the information that V gave them, that Rika was dead. Was this true?
You knew the statistics, most murders are committed by the spouse or the significant other. V was that person. Yoosung also claimed there had been no body, leaving Rika’s death unresolved. So, did you believe Rika was dead?
You weren’t sure, it would take some research, calling in some favours from a few contacts. Maybe she was alive.
But maybe she really was dead. And if she was, then that still gave rise to another question.
Was it really a suicide, or was it murder?
Seven was frustrated and fascinated in equal measure. There wasn’t much to hack to find out about MC. Life records, such as date of birth, academic records, name of parents and grandparents, general information about her life. But not much that would tell him about her as a person. To do that he would have to dig deeper, invade her privacy completely. She didn’t post much on SNS and even the comments she posted on her fave celeb’s page were simply generic, if funny, words of encouragement. It would probably take breaking into her text messages etc to get to who she really was.
Seven didn’t want to do that. He would if need be, but was this really a need? Nothing so far had indicated a trap, not from her side. If anything , she was the one who was being trapped. The hacker had tried to get her into Rika’s house, into the RFA and she had shut that shit down fast enough. But V and Jumin were the ones to continue the hacker’s work, bring her into their fold even further.
Even now she resisted. He could see that she was online, but she didn’t say a word, only read the chats and left. She wasn’t trying to engage them in conversation, wasn’t trying to infiltrate them as such. Even now, as he tracked her internet activity, she was only googling them trying to find out more about them as legitimately as she could.
She was suspicious of them, as she should be.
And then she shifted gears, her search going from looking for information about them, to looking for information about Rika. As she typed the words ‘Rika RFA real name disappearance’ Seven felt a shiver pass through him.
Disappearance she wrote. Not death. And it was only Seven’s deep trust in V that kept him from agreeing.
Jaehee had called him once MC’s interview was done. Told him what she had said to them and then asked him shakily, ‘It was suicide right? You would know better than us, there is proof, right? Records and the such?’
And Seven had no answer. V had asked him not to disturb Rika’s memory and Seven had listened. He could only joke in answer and try to cheer Jaehee up. But her question remained unanswered and he knew that she was astute enough to notice that.
And Seven wondered if he should start looking into it anyway. V would understand, right? He was only looking out for V, with all these people doubting him. Just wanted to give Jaehee and MC some peace of mind.
And as abruptly as he decided to begin the search, he ended it just as fast as yet another realisation was forced upon him.
He was going to look for information on Rika Kim. Only...Rika wasn’t her real name.
And someone else might have glossed over it, assumed it was some sort of nickname or something. But Seven, otherwise known as Luciel but at his core still Saeyoung, knew that the name meant something to her. A new name for a new person, she had cheerfully told him when he had changed his name to Luciel. Only he knew that Luciel was someone he strived to be, he was still Saeyoung, still running from what it meant to be Saeyoung.
So, who was Rika really? Who was that person she was trying so hard not to be?