July 12, 2019
Location: Seoul, South Korea
“Boss, you wanted to see me?” Seungcheol asks, poking his head through the door dubiously. “I was told it was urgent."
“Seungcheol, yes,” Namjoon says warmly, waving the younger man inside. “Come in, come in. Thank you for coming so quickly, and yes — you heard right. It is an urgent matter, one that needs to be dealt with as quickly as you came in."
Namjoon is an easy person to please; get the job done, you’re good, but one wrong move can automatically enroll you on his hit list. Seungcheol, although a fellow alpha and a good acquaintance with the older man, knows that his role doesn’t mean anything to him, especially in the mafia business. He’s witnessed first-hand what could happen if you fall victim to Kim Namjoon and it isn’t a pretty experience.
Seungcheol bows respectfully, just for good measure, then makes his way to sit down on one of the leather armchairs in front of the older man. On the desk between them, there’s a manila folder filled with what seems to be a thick stack of files. The sight of it gives Seungcheol limited possibilities on what’s about to happen.
“A new mission?” he asks, his interest piquing. “Who's it this time? Black Spades? Vice Lords? Devil Hour?"
“No, no, and no,” Namjoon answers, his lips curling up as he nudges the manila folder in Seungcheol’s direction. “Lately, there have been numerous reports of deaths and fires happening in Namyangju, I’m sure you’ve heard. As you know, the fires have been rapidly spreading throughout the region and nobody knows what’s causing it, especially with how cold and damp it’s been lately despite the summer season. The last fire happened just three days ago and it seems to be heading towards Yangpyeong. The people there are worried and some have even started evacuating the area in search of a safer place."
Seungcheol leans forward and opens the manila folder, eyes skimming through the files. Pictures of men, women, and even children are shown, all with similar death dates ranging from June 25 to July 11. As far as his brain can process, most of the deaths are caused by the fires, but some are caused by different purposes: gunshots, stab marks, silver — miscellaneous deaths.
“What about the miscellaneous deaths?” the alpha questions as much, flipping through more files. “Are they connected with the fires somehow or is it something else entirely?"
“That’s the thing,” Namjoon sighs, leaning forward and resting his chin on the back of his hands. “Police reports have shown that some people weren’t even in the area where the fire happened. They’re still trying to investigate all the incidents as we speak, but it’s likely they won’t get anywhere. All the gunshots, stab marks, silver— they don’t know who’s causing it. Whoever is doing the dirty work is doing a good job at hiding their tracks."
“So you’re implying it might be a new gang,” Seungcheol says, although he’s not really asking, “or at least someone in the business."
“Correct.” Namjoon nods in agreement. “It’s more of a possibility it’s a new gang and that someone has multiple men scattered across the region to start the fires. Nobody on their own can cause fires that quickly."
Seungcheol closes the folder and purses his lips. “If the fire started in Namyangju, I’d think it’d head towards Seoul. Surely, this so-called gang knows that the capital accommodates the most people. If their objective is to kill, it'd be here, wouldn’t it?"
“That’s what I thought too,” Namjoon sighs, shaking his head. He pulls out a map from his drawer and rolls it across the desk, pointing at Yangpyeong. “However, if the fires have started heading towards Yangpyeong, that would mean they have a specific location in mind. If the fires continue south, that would mean hitting either Yongin, Yeoju, or Wonju."
Seungcheol follows Namjoon’s finger, eyes straying down the map. When he looks further down, his eyebrows furrow in disbelief. “You don’t think their target is Daegu or Busan?"
“It may also be Gwangju or Daejeon,” Namjoon says, pointing at four of the six largest cities of South Korea, “and since Incheon is by Seoul, there’s no reason for us to worry unless the fires head back north."
“What about the deaths?” Seungcheol inquires. “If there’s a chance they aren't related to the fires, why would they kill people?"
“It’s probably an impulsive mentality,” Namjoon answers, rolling the map bad up and placing it back in his drawer. “Very few gangs kill people. Most are in the business for money or drugs. Some are in it to protect others and work alongside the forces, like we are. The less people they have to deal with, the more easier it is for them to achieve their target — at least, that’s what seems plausible for now. We don’t have much more information on them, other than the fact they they may be the ones starting the fires and killing people to their advantage."
“I see,” Seungcheol says, blowing out a breath as he sinks back in the leather armchair. “Why fires though? I’m not saying they should, but wouldn’t it be more efficient and less eye-catching to not make their efforts known to the public?"
“It seems sensible enough as a distraction,” Namjoon mutters, copying Seungcheol’s actions. “If everyone is focused on the fires, nobody will see their intentions. Without the fires, they’re more likely to get exposed. Only the police is aware of what’s going on, along with us now. It’ll only cause a panic if they release a statement."
“What role am I playing this time?"
Namjoon smiles at the underlying acceptance. “I need you to go to Namyangju and cover as much ground there as possible to gather all the information you can. If the fires continue throughout Yangpyeong, follow after it. We just need to follow those fires and stop it, along with whoever is creating them before it can reach any of those cities. It’s likely that those fires are some sort of signal to set another one off."
Seungcheol nods. “Okay, I’ll relay the news to my team as soon as possible,” he says firmly. “Anything else?"
“Actually,” Namjoon begins, and there’s a glint in his eye that doesn’t sit well with the younger alpha, “there is a small...exception, if you will. You’re going to absolutely hate the idea, and possibly want to strangle me later, but we need to get this mission done as soon as possible, so I need all hands on deck."
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait ― “ Seungcheol splutters, perking up as he narrows his eyes, “all hands on deck? Don’t tell me ― "
Namjoon fixes him with a sheepish grin. “It’s exactly what I mean. If we want to stop the gang from killing anyone else as soon as we can, I’ll need to add Kwon and Lee to the roster as well. Soonyoung is from Maseok, in Namyangju, so he’ll know the place best. His team is well-known for scouting without hassle. As for Jihoon, his team is best at hacking and espionage, which is essential to finding out what the gang’s intentions are."
Even though he hasn’t started said mission, Seungcheol can already feel the beginnings of a headache creeping up on him. It’s small, barely there, but it’s still there, and he knows it’ll only grow bigger the more he gets involved with the mission. He puts his elbow on the desk and rests his forehead on the palm of his chin, slowly breathing in and out of his nose.
Working with both Soonyoung and Jihoon is like setting himself up for babysitting his neighbor’s cats: a disaster. As far as he knows, the other two leaders have been at each other’s throats ever since their last group mission in Nae-ri. Even when he’s worked with each leader individually, it’s like they’ve taken whatever they fought about in Nae-ri with them. He’s been on the receiving end of Soonyoung’s a fucking asshole and Jihoon’s a little prick numerous times while working on missions with them and he doesn’t understand what happened.
“You do know Jihoon and Soonyoung hate each other, right?” Seungcheol questions, looking pleadingly up at his boss. “It’s gonna be a bitch just getting them to agree going on the mission, much less the actual mission. Why can’t I just work with one of their teams and not the other?"
“Trust me, I think this mission will require all of you, especially with how quick and big the fires are,” Namjoon says. “It is especially beneficial on our side that Soonyoung and Jihoon are in on it too. Unless their relationship puts a strain on the mission, I will not call quits until the gang has been stopped and are in their rightful place in prison. If you are in need of help, I have my team ready as backup and Hongjoong’s on dial."
Seungcheol sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “With all due respect, hyung, is putting Soonyoung and Jihoon really the smartest decision? They haven’t gotten along a few months after the mission in Nae-ri, and they won’t tell me what happened after that either."
“Never once have I been wrong in my instinct,” Namjoon states, rather proudly. “I have a feeling everything will be fixed after this mission. Now, enough chit-chat, we need to start as soon as possible. I will have all the information delivered to you and the team as soon as you’ve rounded them up. If that is all your complaints, you are dismissed."
Seungcheol tries to quell his exasperated sigh as he nods, stands up and bows. “I won’t disappoint."
Namjoon smiles. “You never do."
Seungcheol straightens up, turns around and walks out of the room. His groan is audible as he whips his phone out to text his team, along with Soonyoung and Jihoon. He’s practically setting himself up for hell.
It’s going to be a long three weeks.