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treat yo self

T.S.A

A/N: Time to speed things up a little. I wanted to post this so bad and I'm getting back to writing and continuing this fic. Hopefully when my work schedule is a little more loose, or maybe if my weekends are relaxed too. The EXODUS teasers are just..aaahhh! Inspiring me more and more. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy this chapter. There will be more interesting things to come, I promise. I just really want to make this fic really really good.

Five: Investigation

Ino glanced at his father as they brought him up to the garage, where the hostel vehicles were parked. Three tourist buses with the hostel’s name painted on it, and ten ordinary cars. “Don’t worry about me, Ino,” Professor Jang held his hand and squeezed it. “Take care of the kids for me. Guide the team for now” he assured him. Hyesung led him towards one black CRV and opened the door.

“Professor,” Hyesung said with a smile, and Professor Jang squeezed Ino’s hand one more time before getting inside.

The window rolled down and the Professor peeked out, and reminded Ino, “Take care of yourself too.”

Ino quietly watched the car leave the garage and out the driveway. His heart was pounding while he kept himself calm. There was something the Professor wasn’t telling him, and he wanted to know what it was.

Walking back inside, Ino headed towards the elevating tile and stood on it. The tile lowered itself down to Area 10, where his bedroom was. It was quieter than the usual, except for the sudden yelps of pain that he knew was just Kyungsoo trying to lift an object heavier than what he could carry. Once the tile stopped, he stepped off and went down the hall.

Ino stopped in front of a black door that had a gold plate with his name engraved on it. Turning the doorknob, he opened the door and stepped inside.

He had lived here ever since he was a kid, hardly remembering where he and the Professor first lived. Professor Jang would sometimes tell him about their first home: a small apartment right in the middle of the city where they had stayed until he was six, and while they lived there, the Professor was already set on renovating the Center. The Center was older than Ino was, although it looked brand new.

Whenever Ino felt sad or stressed, he would do what he always did: retreat back to his bedroom, and read. His bookshelf was overstuffed with books from all kinds of genres. His most read books are those whose covers had already been folded at the corners, with the pages yellowing. He took a book about all kinds of supernatural beings and creatures, and sat down on his bed, shifting to put his feet up. Ino opened the only page with a folded corner and began to read.

It was his way of clearing his head, of letting himself immerse in the imagination of the author. However, he sometimes couldn’t help but believe that the beings described in the books he would read about were real. It was hard to, knowing what he was set on doing. How could he not believe that there were mermaids when everything he had seen enter the halls of the Center, tied down and examined by Yongguk and the others, sometimes questioned and interviewed, and rarely, offered a place to stay, were as real as can be.

He was only on the second paragraph of the book when he heard a thud from the other side of the room. Ino put his book down and saw that a book had fallen off of the shelf and onto the floor, with the pages loose and scattered all around the covers and the spine. Ino bent down to pick it up and paused when he suddenly thought of a glass window crashing on the floor. He stood up to put the book back together, only for it to fall apart in an instant.

Looking around, he leaned back to peek inside the bathroom. “Luhan? Luhan, are you there?” he asked quietly. There was no answer.

He paused again when the thought of ceramic statues falling apart in a torch-lit room flashed across his mind. Shaking his head, Ino sighed and returned to his bed, with the broken book in hand.

~~

Prince Zeenohai rushed through a series of tunnels and passageways deep underground. Followed by a palace guard that was loyal to him alone, they opened a giant door that led to the Esteholm, known to his kind and to the other creatures as a marketplace.

The Esteholm was vast. Shops and stalls stretched out, up to the underground sewer system of the city above. Yellow lanterns and lamp posts lit the various streets and alleys. It was as busy as he remembered it to be. All kinds of creatures walked by, buying and selling all types of goods. The prince gestured his guard to walk before him, looking around for some sign or clue of what he needed to obtain. But as they walked, all eyes were on them, all of them surprised to see him.

Prince Zeenohai stopped in front of a troll selling a set of Infernals, small and carnivorous tarantula-like beings. The seller looked up at the Prince and lowered his head. “Your majesty,” he said softly.

“These Infernals, how much are they?” the Prince asked.

“For you, your highness,” the seller held up the black cage, his expression hopeful, “Nothing.”

The Prince gestured to his guard, who picked up the cage and handed the seller a gold coin with the insignia of the Goblin Kingdom. “Nothing comes for free, my good troll” Zeenohai smiled.

They bid the seller farewell and continued on their way. “If my father doesn’t tell me where the diamond is, I will make him” the Prince grumbled. “Even if it means him dying.”

They turned a corner into a bookshop, its cloaked owner a tall, blue man with three arms. “Your majesty,” he knelt down upon seeing the Prince enter.

The Prince simply waved his hand to make him stand. “Rise, good fellow. I have come back to reclaim what is rightfully ours” he said.

The man stood up and his eyes widened. “Your majesty has the diamond?” he asked nervously.

Zeenohai looked him in the eyes. “You know about the diamond?” he stepped closer, the palace guard doing the same.

The man shook his head. “I have only heard of it. There are whispers, your majesty,” he sputtered.

“What whispers? Did my father warn you about me?” the Prince asked him. He looked over to his guard. “Search this place” he commanded, and the guard obeyed.

“I don’t blame him. He does not understand my intentions, at all” the Prince said, grabbing the man by the throat. “Speak, creature”

The man knelt down. “Please, I don’t know what else to tell you. There are only whispers about the diamond, about how powerful it is, please spare my life!” he pleaded.

“Your majesty,” the guard called to him. The Prince turned around. “I found something” he took out a brown cylinder from the shelf that was full of scrolls in cases.

Zeenohai approached his guard and took it, looking closely. The brown cylinder had a castle embossed on it, with a small diamond on top. He groaned and shook his head. “This is not it. This is nothing but the legend of the diamond” he put the cylinder down on the table behind them. “I must have the diamond. My plans won’t come to fruition without it, and I will have failed my people.” he muttered.

Turning back to the man kneeling on the floor, the Prince walked up to him. “Rise, creature. You do not have what I seek”

Without another word, they disappeared from the shop, the man falling over in relief that his life was spared.

~~~

Luhan sat on one of the couches in the library, looking through a leather bound book. The covers and the spine had intricate patterns in gold, and its pages were yellowing. He figured it was from when Professor Jang was younger. There were drawings of different creatures on every other page.

“Luhan?”

He looked up, and saw Hyesung standing by the door. “Something has come up, you and your M teammates are needed at the site” he said.

Luhan put the book down and rushed out of the room, following Hyesung down the hall and onto the elevating tiles. “Why? What’s happened?” he asked.

Ino appeared from another hallway and stood in front of them. “Well, basically something happened somewhere that is out of the ordinary and we need to check it out” he explained, stepping onto the tiles while Luhan and Hyesung followed, “You’ll need to change, Junhong is already on the bus.”

The tile lowered down to the level of their sleeping quarters, and Luhan sprinted down the hall to find his room the moment it was stable. He rushed inside and closed the door, seeing the clothes he needed to wear floating around him. It was the standard uniform for the boys whenever they had to go out on the field: black bodysuits underneath black cargo pants and vests with combat boots. The material of each piece of clothing was designed to act as a second skin and adapted to their abilities. In Luhan’s case, the material was light enough for him to be able to reach for easily as he had trouble with heavier objects.

Taking the belt that had his locator attached, he rushed out of his room and hurried back onto the tiles. A moment later, he had arrived at the garage, where a small team of suited men with earpieces were waiting for him. Kris, Minseok, Jongdae, Yixing, and Zitao were already inside, strapping their belts on, and fixing the earpieces given to them.

The interior of the bus seemed bigger than its exterior, and could fit about thirty people maximum. There were small screens at the back and a control panel under it. Half the number of seats were facing each other at the back, while the other half faced the front. The security team coming with them sat in front, while they sat in the back.

“Okay, everyone, the lucky three locators are with Jongdae hyung, Zitao hyung, and Yixing hyung tonight” Junhong announced, eyeing the six men in front of him. “Remember, always be on the lookout, and always tell each other where you are, and make sure to turn your locators on too” he said. “At times like this, I do wish we had Jongin hyung in here” he sighed.

“But Jonginie can’t teleport in long distances yet, Yongguk said he needed more practice or else he’ll end up in a hole,” Jongdae said as he shook his head.

“Practice? More like randomly popping in our rooms whenever we’re asleep or doing something,” Zitao huffed. “He always gets me everytime”

Junhong laughed. “Alright, alright. I will see you guys when you get back. Good luck” he said to them before getting off the bus.

~~

“It’s the first time we’ve done this kind of investigation in a while” Yixing looked around the bus as they were on their way. The rest of them just nodded.

Luhan fiddled with the zipper of his vest and examined the pockets. Junhong would usually slip in a few more weapons he had designed, but this time, he had only slipped a small Rubik’s Cube in. “Was there any more information on the place where the incident happened?” he asked, looking up at them.

“A break-in at a museum, it seems,” Kris stood up from his seat and went up to the control panels at the end of the bus. It had several monitors that showed coordinates and some information, and a few keyboards and extra buttons. He reached to press the blinking blue button and a piece of paper came out of the slit below the monitor. “Another one of our security teams have been dispatched to do a primary search. No bodies were found, only pieces of clothing and shoes, and as expected, some shattered glass cases and artifacts” he said, reading the information from the paper out loud.

“What about the culprit?” Jongdae asked, as all heads turned to Kris, who was still looking through the information.

Kris shook his head. “It doesn’t say. But the clothes were slimy, so I guess that gives us a lead,” he handed the paper to the rest of them.

“I guess we’ll have to find out when we get there” Minseok muttered and sat back, letting the other four take a look while Kris went back to his seat. Once the other four were done looking at the piece of paper, they handed it to Jongdae.

Electric currents were coming out of Jongdae’s hands and onto the paper, burning it until it was a pile of ash on the ground while the rest of them watched. “Wow, you can control it already?” Tao asked him.

Jongdae grinned proudly while the rest of them groaned. “Yeah, Daehyun was impressed with me”

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