[PRELUDE 1.1] Underneath the Silence

The chaos of untamed gunshots and startling shouts ensued, even as YiXing tried to mentally shut it out. He wove his way through clashing bodies, each one trying to overpower the other.

He had never thought it would be this messy. He shook his head and grit his teeth, as he dodged a fist that swung at him from the left. Why am I in a bar brawl? This is disgusting.

YiXing finally reached the end of the room and found his target. The man was screaming incoherent French, shouting names, and commanding people. YiXing was all the more disgusted. He wasted no more time and pulled out his small, silver knife – one with his name engraved on the handle. His eyes locked on the man – who met eyes with YiXing – and tried to run. But the trained YiXing was too fast. In one swift movement he caught up with the man and slit him silently on the throat. Before he collapsed, though, YiXing had already scanned the French man’s pocket and got what he needed.

*****

“That’s it?”

“What do you mean that’s it? This is it. There’s nothing else bigger than this.”

“But a small trinket? What in the world?”

“It’s the key to the world, Kai.”

“I don’t understand. Enlighten my brain.”

Baek sighed. As skilled as they were in combat, simple logic evaded his group members at times. Baek glanced sideways at YiXing, who was playing with the million-dollar or so trinket. Chanyeol put own his wine glass and motioned for Baek to explain.

When he felt all the attention was on him, Baek hunched forward in his seat and began. “In the first place, Monsieur Gérald Florence was in the wrong for pocketing this very valuable object. You don’t put this in a thousand dollar suit-pocket. You put this in a million-dollar safe. You put this in a high-security storage vault.” Baek looked annoyed at the act of the now-dead Florence.

“Just tell us why it’s so darn important.” Kai looked irritated now.

“Shhh.” Chanyeol hushed his brother.

Xiumin looked up from polishing his vintage revolver, eyes looking pensive and full of thought. “This..thing in YiXing’s hand. Would it happen to be National Security information on binary code?”

Baek’s face lightened up, grinning widely, and pointing at Xiumin. “Minseok, you’ve hit the jackpot.”

YiXing nodded in agreement, closing his fist on the small diamond shaped titanium trinket.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an accessory. Simply put, this is access to the information on the richest people in the world.”

Kai looked doubly confused, “Why would someone have this –”

“Richest people on the world on database. Why? To track their wealth, to monitor the circulation of money, and to see if there’s any foul play with regards to holding gold. You can’t hoard the world’s money, so someone has to keep track.”

“Who the hell was that French man and why did he have it in his pocket?!” Kai exploded, rising from his seat. Apparently, he was pissed at Gérald Florence for being incompetent.

“Who knows? But our dead Frenchman who was carrying the Diamanto happened to be an Euro government security higher-up. I’m just confused as to why he was trading secrets with shady business conglomerates.” Baek reached out his open palm towards YiXing, asking for the Diamanto. YiXing dropped it in Baek’s hand.

“He had it because they were transporting the Diamanto, to present the roster of big names to the businessmen. They felt that the diversion was enough – that one cluster had a satchel with a steel box in it, to fool anyone into thinking that the Diamanto was inside. Meanwhile, our French friend had casually mixed in with the rest of the security personnel, to have people thinking that he was just part of the ones guarding the decoy diamond. Didn’t work. He was too iffy, sweating and glancing back every now and then. Too obvious. A toddler would’ve known he had something.” YiXing quietly said.

“That’s how you knew, eh?” Chanyeol said, pouring his fourth glass of Chardonnay into his goblet.

YiXing nodded. “That, and because he started screaming orders and clutching his suit tightly when the chaos ensued.”

“So he was the obnoxiously loud one.” Kai shook his head and got up from his seat. “When do we crack this baby open?”

Baek dismissed Kai’s excitement. “Soon enough. Something tells me this isn’t the whole of the puzzle.” Baek eyed the shining titanium diamond in his palm. “YiXing,”

“I know.”

*****

YiXing hated being the most loaded with work, when in fact the rest of them could do just as well as him. Just because he was the youngest in terms of membership, the others could stack upon him duties that required little to no brain work at all. They were turning into bums, only hyped up when the raids happened.

Apart from this reason, YiXing had spite boiling up in him due to the fact that he was forced to do all this. He remembered clearly the traumatizing experience of how he ended up with Baek and the others.

“We’re his cousins, ma’am. YiXing was gone too long with his parents that he doesn’t remember us. He used to visit us during summers at the ranch.” 

“Is that so? Well, YiXing, it seems like you’ve family here with you.” 

Yixing stared at the un-seemingly looking relatives. His gaze moved to the orphanage owner and ‘mother’ of them all, and his eyes reflected worry and reluctance. 

“Dear, don’t worry, we’ve checked them, they’re legitimate. You really don’t remember them? You must have been very young.” She whispered in YiXing’s ear, and patted him on the shoulder.

YiXing pursed his lips. He smiled wanly at the woman, and nodded. “Thank you. Thank you for everything. I will definitely miss this place, and everyone else.” His stomach lurched at the thought of having grown up at the orphanage, and all his memories that came with living in it. He was unsure of something about the young men in front of him, but he couldn’t tell with their smiles. Nevertheless, he braved the fear and stepped forward. He would be dismissed and let go of at the orphanage sooner or later. At least he was with company, and it was better than facing the world alone.

*****

There was no room for regret. YiXing did learn from Baek. They took him under his wing, fed him and took care of him. The only difference was the beast they brought out in him, and the worst part was finding out that it was because of his parents that he was wanted this way — as a hired hand, the black hand. He let himself be trained up, them having brainwashed him that it was for self defense, and a hobby. YiXing learned painfully the truth, and the consequences that came with it. His skills were both a blessing and a curse, and he wasn’t able to run away from the influence of the group that brought him up. He owed them his gratitude, and somehow, his life.

Tomorrow would be another challenge for YiXing. His thoughts flew from the mission ahead, to his parents, to Baek, to the orphanage. He was overwhelmed with thoughts that he felt like imploding. YiXing got out of his bed, and went down into the basement. He played darts — but with his impressively sharp daggers, hurling them at the far wooden wall, painted down to an ugly white.

Someday soon, I’ll get out of this mess. 

#

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