In the burning afternoon summer air, YuKwon ran up the back stairs inside the building, his pants sticking to his drenched legs. Sweat rivered down his forehead into his eyes and steam rose from his sweltering skin, but he ignored all physical distractions, focused only on his mission. His breath even in spite of his exertion, YuKwon removed a sniper rifle from his silver metal case, loading it as he knelt at a window, being careful to remain invisible to anyone outside. His target this time was the wealthy and arrogant Choi Minhyuk, an infamous loan shark. From his window on the south side of the C-shaped building, YuKwon could see figures moving in the window on the north side immediately opposite his own window. Adjusting his Bluetooth earpiece, he waited. The signal would come soon.
"No! Please! Spare my life, I have a family to look after! I'll pay you back . . . I'll pay you back by--by next week! I promise!" The rifle’s scope magnification showed YuKwon a frantic middle-aged man, YuHan, begging and struggling against two men grabbing him by the wrists as they pushed his thumb into a red ink pad.
"Please, don't make me sound so monstrous, YuHan. I'm merely a business man," MinHyuk said. The quiet laugh and polite demeanor of the moneylender only increased his victim’s fear as he leaned against a bar that had two untouched glasses of red wine resting on it. The men pressed YuHan's thumb down on the single piece of paper on the desk, forcing him to sign a contract that would ruin his life trying to pay all the money back.
"No!" YuHan’s voice was hoarse as he screamed out the word and the men released him, his body limp as he collapsed to the dirty floor, sobbing.
"Get him out of here," ordered MinHyuk ignoring YuHan’s pleas and analyzing the contract with pleasure. He removed a white linen handkerchief from his shirt pocket and dabbed the sweat from his brow, closing his eyes as he savored his success and the distress of YuHan.
"That was brilliant, boss!" WoonHa said, bowing. MinHyuk handed him the contract.
"Ha ha! These damn idiots, thinking they won't suffer the consequences. I hate them," MinHyuk said, taking a glass of the red wine, draining it, then picking up the second glass.
Across the street, YuKwon readied himself as the signal came through his Bluetooth earpiece, a bell-clear female voice counting down the seconds.
Before he could place the second wine glass to his lips, the window exploded in front of MinHyuk, YuKwon’s bullet piercing his neck deeply. Blood and wine rained to the floor, coloring the air in a blast of crimson crystal rain. Shocked, the rest of his men gathered around the corpse of their boss, seeing there was little they could do. WoonHa ran to the shattered window, seeing the open, empty window on the south side of the building.
"It came from the other side! We can’t let the assassin escape--lock all exits! Move. Now!" The men ran from the room, hastening to secure the building and find the assassin.
On the other side of the building, YuKwon hurried down the hallway, listening intently to the Bluetooth earpiece for his next command. "The escape route is Plan A,” the female voice spoke. Pivoting to his right, he went through an archway and ran down the stairs.
In the central part of the building, a few of the loan shark’s men exchanged nervous glances as they rode the elevator down, hoping they would not meet the assassin and share MinHyuk’s fate. Before the elevator reached the ground level, its doors opened on the second floor, revealing an office lady standing still and frightened before them. Confused, one of the men reached for the elevator’s buttons to close the doors, but before he could act, YuKwon appeared, placing his hand over the woman's shoulder. He aimed a pistol and stared at the men in the elevator and fired, leaving only corpses to travel to the ground floor. The woman cupped her hands around her mouth, trying her best not to scream.
"Forget what you saw," YuKwon muttered to her, turning around and walking away. A loud gun shot directly behind him caused him to turn back, surprised, and he saw the woman’s body fall to the floor. Zico, his partner, walked towards him, lowering his own pistol. YuKwon watched as Zico stepped over the corpse whose eyes seemed as if they glared at him in accusation. DaeHyun walked away, full of attitude, clearly disappointed in YuKwon’s mercy.
The rest of MinHyuk’s frightened workers, including WoonHa who had the contract, fled to the parking lot. As WoonHa sprinted to the luxury sedan to make his escape, he and the remaining men skidded to a halt. YuKwon was already there, sitting in the driver’s seat, patiently waiting for them with the doors of the car open. Loud gun shots pierced the air as Zico arrived, sliding his pistol back into his concealed holster with a smirk. WoonHa stood alone, appearing to shrink as his companions fell dead to the ground beside him. Zico’s smirk widened into a grin. He stalked toward WoonHa, staring menacingly into the terrified man’s eyes and reloading his pistol. Pointing the gun, he aimed at WoonHa’s heart and let the metal touch the man’s chest.
"No! Stop! I--I have money!" WoonHa screamed. Zico raised an eyebrow, sliding WoonHa’s blazer open and removing the contract from his pocket, waving it before WoonHa’s eyes.
"No . . .that's . . ." WoonHa’s eyes widened as Zico put the document into his own pocket and walked away. YuKwon exited the car, pointed his gun at WoonHa's back and shot him.
YuKwon and Zico sauntered together toward the exit of the parking lot.
A limousine slid up to the curb, its passenger door opened, and they slid inside, closing the door softly behind them.
“JiWook,” YuKwon said, greeting the older man waiting for them inside as the vehicle pulled smoothly away towards busier streets.
"Good work, you two." JuWook spoke in his commanding bass voice, handing YuKwon and Zico an envelope filled with money.
"Thanks. What's next?" YuKwon asked, smoothing back his hair. Though his attitude was obedient, he was sick of killing people for a living.
"You're both going to Australia. Your next target is a teenage girl named Joy Hai. Her father is a notorious Chinese gangster, and he has ruined the lives of many. Our clients want revenge by having his only daughter removed," JiWook replied, sipping green tea from his cup.
"But . . . why us?" YuKwon asked, taking the money out of the envelope.
"The two of you have an impeccable reputation for your precise, accurate work," JiWook said, smiling expansively at YuKwon and Zico. His expression turned serious as he added, "But I must warn you, their family is wealthy beyond imagining. They take no chances. The girl will have bodyguards around her every hour of the day. Oh, and YuKwon, you will have to disguise yourself as a high school student to get close to her. Gain her trust . . . then back-stab her."
27 August: SEOUL, KOREA
"This whole thing is ridiculous," YuKwon thought to himself. Angry, he concentrated on calming himself by breathing evenly, packing unfamiliar equipment into the suitcase. He remembered his conversation with JiWook from a week ago, and shook his head.
"YuKwon, you have to understand the situation." Always calm, JiWook sipped from his cup of boiling hot green tea as usual.
"Disguise me as anything, but not a high school student! I'm already twenty years old, much too old for that!" YuKwon complained, slamming his fist down on the table, causing everything on it to rattle. Memories of high school flooded his mind like a movie; he saw clearly the empty classrooms, the view of fresh green grass, and tree branches waving with the wind. Before him stood his lover, just smiling as he pointed a gun at her. "Farewell,” she whispered. YuKwon finally managed to snap out of it his reverie, reminding JiWook, "You know what happened last time!"
"Yes, you are too emotional. Far too emotional for an assassin. The number-one rule is never to become emotionally involved, never to fall in love with a target!" JiWook exclaimed, standing up furiously. He calmed himself, removed a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his blazer with his quick fingers. He placed the cigarette on his lips as if it were a heavenly object, lit it, and breathed in the toxins. "Either you disguise yourself, or . . . Well, you know what happens to assassins who fail to in a mission."
"Understood, sir." YuKwon replied. He closed his eyes, and clutched his hands into fists, holding back his anger, but slammed the door behind him as he left the room.
The violent wind stung YuKwon's eyes and tousled his hair as he went outside carrying his suitcase. He gazed with mysterious, hazy brown eyes at the blue sky of Seoul once more before hopping on the Learjet, heading to Australia where his target was, his target to kill.