Endless Night || Chapter Ten – Escalation

Endless Night || Heartless City Sequel

Chapter Ten – Escalation

Children’s Day

Little Joo-mi always looked forward to Children’s Day, the one day when Mommy and Daddy would take time off from their busy work schedule to indulge in an afternoon full of play and laughter. Under her parents’ watchful eyes, Joo-mi clapped her hands in delight as she took in the park, filled with the bright colors of carefree children frolicking. Her long hair bounced against her new favorite dress, a gift she’d received that very morning. The bubbling laughter of other kids tugged at her and she ran forward, confident her parents would be watching her. There was an abundance of events going on; she spotted a sign for a petting zoo before being swept away by the sound of a band playing in the distance. Her tummy rumbled; food was now the most important thing. She spotted a small booth with a row of children lining up to it. Her eyes made a beeline for what was being offered: candy.

Although the line was long, it was moving quickly. Joo-mi saw her parents talking to another family while keeping their eyes on her. Soon she was at the front of the line, digging into her pockets to produce a small bill – her precious allowance. There was a pretty lady manning the booth, Joo-mi thought she might secretly be a princess. Joo-mi immediately decided that she wanted to look just like her when she grew up. She shyly held out the bill to the lady.

“The candy’s free! It’s Children’s Day after all.” The lady said, smiling as she folded Joo-mi’s fingers closed over her allowance and presenting her with a brightly wrapped piece of candy. “Go ahead, eat it!” Joo-mi obediently popped the candy in her mouth, eyes closing slightly at the burst of sweetness that filled her mouth, a grin of happiness appearing. Belatedly Joo-mi remembered her manners. ”Thank you!” burst out of her mouth before she dashed away.

She ran back to her parents, who scolded her for spoiling her lunch. She tugged at her parents’ hands, pointing towards the petting zoo, her laughter ringing out to join the other children’s laughter.

—–

The tension was thick enough to cut through with a knife; the atmosphere palpable as it wrapped around the room’s occupants. Lee Woo-ha hadn’t called regarding any new cases recently; no new overdose victims had been discovered in two weeks. Paksa Adeul knew that sometimes a lack of news was bad news in itself. This was the calm before the storm. But since all of his leads had turned up empty, he found himself in the difficult position of having to wait for his unseen opponent to make the next move.

His phone rang out. Paksa picked up, noting that Soo’s phone was also ringing.

“There’s been an incident. Turn on the TV.”

That was all the notice he was given. Paksa put down his phone and aimed the remote towards the television. It took him a few seconds to sort out the chaotic scene he was presented with.

“…the children are being affected by an unknown affliction… there’s an outbreak… those that aren’t falling unconscious are exhibitng strange behavior. We’ve had reports of children acting aggressively towards family, other children, even themselves. Ambulances are rushing victims and children to the hospital… Witnesses report they heard children screaming before suddenly lashing out. These incidents all started around the same time, which leads to suspicions that this may have been a deliberate attack. The police are looking into this matter and have guaranteed they will find the person or persons responsible for this act.”

Paksa turned away from the television, his eyes dark.

“Soo, get in touch with your police contact. We need to know what they have discovered and who they’re fingering as a suspect. Get CCTV copies, something must have been captured. Keep in close contact with Woo-ha as well, We need to know immediately whether or not this incident was caused by tainted drugs.”

He addressed the next part of his speech to his lieutenants,

“Tainted drugs or not, if the media discovers the cause behind this is drugs, there will be a city-wide hunt to find anyone connected to drugs and link them to this incident. Immediately halt everything, all sales, all transactions. Do not return clients calls, it may be a trap. Our first priority is to find the source of the tainted drugs. Revisit any leads, no matter how insignificant or vague they may seem. The public will be out for blood now. If we’re not very careful…”

Paksa didn’t need to finish. Everyone knew what was at stake in this deadly race.

—–

Dr. Lee Woo-ha looked up from the stainless steel table, hands carefully drawing the sheet over the small, cold body that lay on it.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

“You were expecting me.”

Woo-ha nodded, making sure the child was properly covered before reaching beside him and handing over a folder. Paksa let his eyes rest on its cover before shaking his head, leaving the contents in Woo-ha’s hand, “Just tell me.”

“This is a high profile case. Chances are that the hospital is going to bring in outside experts to handle the findings. I may not be of any help in the future, and there’s only so much investigating I can do before I rouse suspicions. However, my preliminary reports confirm your suspicions.”

Paksa nodded. Woo-ha knew that Paksa himself understood none of them could afford any weakness. This was an attack with one purpose – to cause public outrage. The public would demand a suspect and the police would sacrifice anyone to avoid risking the censure of the public. The constant media coverage was driving them into a frenzy. It was almost as if… 

He voiced his suspicions to Paksa, who nodded in affirmation. “The same group that caused the incident is also driving the media. There were an unsually large number of news vans at the site, too many for coverage of a typical festival day. Whoever caused this wants this case on everyone’s mind. It’s only a matter of time before they pinpoint the cause, and the police are going to hunt down every drug dealer in the city. They need to pin this on someone, fast.”

“What are you going to do?” Woo-ha asked.

“Find someone to sacrifice.”

—–

“There.” Soo paused the tape from the CCTV of the park. He’d had an exceedingly difficult time obtaining it from his contact. Twenty-eight children had been drugged, with eight dead, and the remainder under hospital surveillance. He and Paksa were scanning the hours of footage, searching for any hints. Paksa was pointing to a winding ribbon of children that stretched from a small booth.

“It’s just another food stall. Tons of those are set up during festival days. Besides, if the drugs had come from a food stall then adults would be affected as well, not just children.”

“It’s not a food stall. Look at what the children are holding – that’s candy.” Paksa leaned forwards, eyes trained on the small figures, “Not a whole bag either, they’re only being given a small amount, just the amount needed.”

He pulled out his phone and called Woo-ha.

“Check if the stomach contents of the children contains traces of candy.” He ordered.

“Paksa… one of our buyers just got picked up in a police raid. They didn’t find any of our drugs but with the public screaming for blood, there’s going to be a thorough investigation…” Soo said, putting down his phone.

Paksa didn’t acknowledge the statement. His eye shifted back to the tape. “Stop,” he focused on the front of the line of children and pointed at a figure, “Look.”

“That’s a woman giving out candy?” Soo said, puzzled.

“That’s not any normal stand attendee. She doesn’t look like a regular booth seller. There’s something off about her. She’s a bit too put together for that job. Keep scanning the tapes, see if you can discover anything about the booth and her. Where she came from, when she set up the booth, and if anyone helped her.” With those orders he left the room.

Shi-hyun needed to visit an old friend.

—–

“Shi-hyun! I didn’t expect to see you again so soon!” Jin-sook exclaimed in surprise as she pulled him into a hug. She peered behind him, “You didn’t bring Soo?”

“I kept him away this time so you wouldn’t torture him again.” Paksa answered.

“Don’t deny me my fun.” Jin-sook smirked and her eye sparkled with mirth, but the laughter quickly faded from her face as she took in the strain and tension in Shi-hyun’s demeanor. “This isn’t a social call is it?”

“Not today. Sorry, noona.” Paksa didn’t want to involve Jin-sook, but given the recent events, he needed information more desperately than ever. He harbored suspicions that Soo-min was involved with much more than she was letting on. Her demeanor at their last meeting was definitely off. At this point, he had to pursue all possible avenues, leave no stone unturned, to get to the bottom of things.

“Shi-hyun?” Jin-sook inquired as she offered him a chilled drink. He produced the card for Vanity that he’d found in Kwang-Sung’s office and handed it over to Jin-sook.

“Have you heard anything about this place called Vanity? Or of someone called The Madame? Or Mi-young?”

At this point, he was shooting in the dark but Jin-sook had connections into a part of the world that he didn’t and maybe, maybe she might know something, or know someone who might know something. Jin-sook ran a finger over the card’s embossing, considering it.

“Is this a flower here? It looks like a lily. I’m not completely sure, but I’ve heard of a group called ‘The Lilies’. This might be their calling card.”

“Lilies? What kind of group is that?

Jin-sook tilted her head quizzically, “Strange. A…mutual acquaintance from the past asked me about ‘The Lilies’ a few weeks ago, and now here you are wanting to know the same thing. The timing is a bit unsettling, considering the source.”

Shi-hyun’s alcohol glass froze halfway to his lips. He fiercely clamped down on his alarm and shock and forced himself to meet Jin-sook’s penetrating and suspicious gaze with feigned nonchalance.

“Really?” He injected a note of casualness into his voice, “What a strange coincidence. What did you say?”

“The Lilies are an urban myth that I’ve heard about here and there throughout the years, but nothing has been confirmed about them. Actually, I don’t even know for sure if they really go by ‘Lilies”, I’ve heard other names used as well. The rumors go that they’re supposed to be really, really “elite” escorts for the wealthy and powerful. Of course like all good urban legends, the stories about them are unsavory. The more people pay for you, the more they expect from the service. The Lilies were not only infamous for being good at what they do, but also for providing more “unconventional” services as well, things that normal escorts wouldn’t do. Apparently, nothing was out of bounds for them.”

Shi-hyun was struggling to now remain impassive despite the nausea steadily growing inside him. He felt a cold sweat break down his spine as JIn-sook continued.

“They said that you could identify Lilies by a tattoo they had up on their thigh. It was a mark, branding them almost like cattle. Of course no one goes peeking up a lady’s skirt so it wasn’t exactly easy to verify the rumor. Again, this is all hearsay I’m telling you.”

Jin-sook’s presence faded into the background as Shi-hyun tried to absorb the implications of what she had just told him.

Why are you wincing? And you were walking a bit stiffly. Did someone attack you?

I cut myself shaving. I haven’t been sleeping well.

The sudden memory of their last meeting ran through his mind. He remembered how Soo-min had some ‘injury’ on her inner thigh. At the time he didn’t think much of it, too focused on other things. But now, he knew with a terrible near-certainty what exactly that injury was. An awful, gut-wrenching horror and cold fury rushed through him. He was deaf to Jin-sook’s concerned voice asking him what was wrong.

The glass suddenly shattered violently in Shi-hyun’s grip. He barely registered the biting pain as blood dripped down his fingers and Jin-sook’s startled yelp.

Yoon Soo-min, what the hell have you done?

—–

Author’s Note: I never intended for Paksa to remain in the dark for too long, and Chapter 11 will start with the anticipated confrontation. Thanks to new beta-reader QueenC! And thanks as always to lilahozi for doing the final round of editing! I will do my best to post Chapter 11 up in a timely manner, but even though I’ve planned out a particular scene from the very conception stages of this story, I’m still working on getting all of the nuances down. 

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26 thoughts on “Endless Night || Chapter Ten – Escalation

  1. starsandback1994

    Oh my god I’m so excited for chapter 11. It’s going to start to get interesting when Paksa and Soo Min speak frankly with each other because they’ve been holding each other at arms length and dancing around each other and it’s starting to get incredibly dangerous. I’m also looking forward to when Soo finds out what Soo Min means to Paksa. Really expecting on of his “chincha??” with the really wide eyes.

    Reply
    1. Lyse Post author

      ‘Speak frankly’ is not quite how I would describe what’s about to go down… Lol, first Paksa has to figure out what Soo-min means to him, but Soo’s not that much of an idiot at this stage, he knows there’s something going on…

      Reply
      1. starsandback1994

        Maybe not frankly, but any conversation, on any level. They’ve been dancing around each other for so long, it will be nice to see them take even one step towards either each other or just towards a less tense relationship.

      2. Lyse Post author

        They’ve got a LONG way to go before they’re going to have a heart-to-heart, since, as you stated, they’re dancing around each other. But I wouldn’t exactly call them dance partners yet… Also, SH’s current state of mind isn’t precisely right for conversation.

  2. Little Red

    Yayyy !! It’s out ! Thank you !! ^^ I can’t read right now…pity TT_TT but I’ll read tis chapter as soons as I come back hihi ! Thanks again 🙂

    Reply
      1. Little Red

        I’m late to write my thoughts on this chapter, sorry. It’s so good, as usual I would say xD Going after children? What a good way to make a big impact, even if it’s really cruel. Wow Jin sook and SH’s conversation…He knows! He did put the pieces together! He might have…a really scary face, really scary and cold eyes, or maybe burning flames in his eyes? You’re good at cliffhanger, I can’t wait to read the next chapter to found out what will happen. :3

        PS: I did read every comments and it’s so exactly my thoughts that I don’t know what I can add xD So my comment is pretty short :p Fighting Lyse ! ^^

  3. foreverandever

    For the first few lines, i was wondering: who is Joo-mi? Did i miss somebody un the previous chapters? *certainly not* Then Joo-mi must play a certain role. If not, you would just describe her as “a little girl, the girl, the child” instead of giving her a specific name. And then, i thought “oh, is this Madame when she was little? No, it can’t be. The children’s day seems like not far from the present day”. Anyways, what a peaceful beginning of a chapter.
    Now, moving on to next part, i realised that the little Joo-mi is one of the victims of the drug in the candies. *shurg* I see you, the woman who smiled at Joo-mi and gave her the candy for free, in completely opposite way now. What a smile from an evil! I feel sorry for her and other’s parents.
    And you promised, Parksa’s reaction to the near-certain news is intense. Just a grip and the glass is already broken. Things seem to start spilling out.
    P/s: did anything i wrote make sense to you? I feel so tired as there is a lot of things need to be done in next few weeks. When i read your intriguing, enjoyable story. I feel excited and relaxed at the same time. The author, the beta readers, the editors, i love you guys.

    Reply
    1. Lyse Post author

      Or is Joo-mi one of the victims? Maybe she’s one of the lucky ones, maybe she isn’t… Twenty-eight, while a large number, is nowhere close to the number of kids that are running around during a festival labeled “Children’s Day.”
      This is the fun part about reading comments, I love seeing what readers pick up. Maybe the woman handing out the candy is pure evil, maybe she’s The Madame, maybe she’s coerced. Perhaps she’s got a larger role to play or she’ll remain nameless throughout the story… I never quite know which characters are going to latch onto me so we’ll see…
      Yes, Paksa isn’t OK by any stretch of the imagination, for many, many reasons. He’s not easily fazed but this reveal just certainly through him for a loop. His reaction is gonna be…well… you’ll have to be Chapter 11!
      Lol, everything makes sense, although I might have been more obscure than usual but I’m trying my best not to give anything away! I was up all night to get this part ready to post so I understand about being tired, hope you get a chance to rest soon :D.

      Reply
      1. foreverandever

        You messed up my mind again, but in a good way. 🙂 *sigh* i forget the number of victims. However, maybe not all the candies giving to the children contained drug. It’d be less suspicious when the police check the CCTV. There are so many possibilities.
        I got a chance to rest already *by ignoring every assignments and final exams* ^_^

      2. Lyse Post author

        Nothing ever has an easy or sraight-forward answer, which make things complicated to keep track of while writing, but keeps it a bit more real as well.
        LOL, I remember when I used to do that as well… now I honestly miss school! Maybe even the occasional exam… (Although I feel like I get tested every day :P)

  4. foreverandever

    Actually, when i read to “glass suddenly shattered” part, i thought back to one scene in drama where Parksa smashed the glass when he came to Jin-sook’s lounge as he knew that Jin-sook somehow involved in Soo’s accident. I just automatically started compare and contrast those 2 scenes. Similarities: glass is broken *checked* 😃, Jin-sook is there, issue related to someone he cares. Differences: the ways the news came to him; in Soo’ case, he knew it beforehand; in Soo-min’s case, the news came unexpectedly. That may be why in 1st case, he smashed intentionally, while in 2nd case, he grips unconsciously.
    *sigh* bad habit again, overthinking
    😄 students sure love denying and delaying mode. I’m about to graduate and i start missing school already although it’s driving me crazy now as,working will drive me even crazier, for sure.

    Reply
    1. Lyse Post author

      Yup, I’m glad you thought of that scene! I actually take a lot of my physical cues from what the Paksa’s reactions within the show were, I gave him a nervous ‘tick’ at one point but it got deleted because it wasn’t in the show…. In the ‘glass smashing’ episode with the show he was making a point, here it’s a sign that he’s not in complete control as readers have come to expect him to always be. SM’s situation has definitely gotten to him.
      Eh, I did my fair share of school but I seriously have forgotten most of the material I learned. In some cases it was just cramming for tests so I memorized facts then promptly forgot. Then I went back later after I graduated and properly read the book…

      Reply
  5. okitat

    Whoaaa! Going after the children, that will no doubt create the biggest public outcry… Brilliant and sick! I love how dark and bold your story is, for sure some of these plot lines are not ones that actual kdramas would dare portray. First, making the lead soo min into a lily, whoa… And now killing children, double whoa… and if down the line you indeed make soo min really do some of the real “lily” jobs, that’s gonna be even more whoaaaaa! Hats off to u! Keep up the great writing, I am really enjoying it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lyse Post author

      Thank you! I went back and forth on ‘the event’ for quite a while, it had to make an impact but not be too ‘spectacle.’ I’m still trying to figure out whether or not if was a bit too much but *shrugs,* the Syndicate wanted ‘escalation.’ More than anything ‘Soo-min as a Lily’ is a delicate balancing act, because, again, it’s not like that’s the knitting club she joined. Fortunately I figured out this part (mostly) already… but the story is only going to get bolder… For me it’s actually the reactions of the characters that is kinda a ‘whoa’ factor, nobody’s exactly crying in a corner than children just became a casualty in a drug war. I’m not trying to play to a sympathetic audience, I firmly believe that what made HC so compelling was that *all* of the characters were morally ambiguous. Even if HC wimped out here and there by not taking the story as dark as it could go, I’m not. Then again, I don’t exactly care about viewer ratings, I just want to tell a story, so…

      Reply
  6. Jas

    Brilliant writing – loved the calm before the storm – and SH’s reaction to his fishing expedition with Jin-sook – he is still full for fire and is dark…i must say this chapter is tighter and packs more punch in the writing – saying more with less….love it…

    Reply
    1. Lyse Post author

      Thanks! Yeah, chapters are taking long to come out before of the number of times they’re being edited (by me first a bijillion times) before they go through the beta-reader-editor run, but the writing is getting tigher as the length is getting chopped. Chapter 11 is gonna be a fun one to write for SH’s character as well :).

      Reply
  7. Little Red

    Hi,it’s been a long time since the last update. Im wlyorried, are you fine? is everything ok?
    I hope you’re fine and that you’ll take your time to write the next chapter, ’cause you must be busy. Fighting ! ^^

    Reply
    1. Lyse Post author

      Hey, a new Chapter is coming soon, I’m just literally up to my eyeballs in work now. Which is good because everything is going awesome, however it is eating up my life right now. However, I’ve set aside time on Friday to keep working so hopefully I’ll have over the weekend to send to betareaders! Upside though is that over the holidays I’ll be in full writing mode because my work will be at a standstill around December 20th…
      Don’t worry though, I’m still here!

      Reply
  8. ririn

    i’ve been reading this story since yesterday, because i was not satisfied with how HC ended. and your story was like a water source in freaking zahara. i do love it! thank you for writing this ^^. i feel like i could move on again. cant wait for next chapter ヽ(´▽`) ノ

    Reply
  9. jahepop

    hi. i am quite new on heartless city fandom since i just watched it a month ago. very late but there is no late in everything x3. since i am fall in love with its story and characters (and the superb acting from the actors) i begin to follow all the fanfiction. yours, jillia’s and mangoberrie’s. all fanfics are awesome!

    now since my english limited i couldn’t give any insight or theory or deep comment. i just want to tell that i like it very very much. will wait for the next chapter! 😀

    Reply
  10. Lucky101

    Hi Lyse,

    I just happened to stumble upon this gem when I was looking at recaps for Cruel City (wow seriously cabel channel dramas over the big 3 broadcast stations anyday)

    and gah I can’t put into words how much I love your story, like wow you just pretty much filled in all the gaps the drama itself couldn’t bring, and ugh I can’t tell you how much I hope someone big picks up on this and directs this as a sequel (LITERALLY PUTTING THIS IN MY PRAYERS EVERYNIGHT because heck Soomin is so badass in this and I love bad ass female protagonists — I just love each character’s development to be honest, you nailed it perfectly. Some people aren’t able to portray the passage of time as something that’s meant to give growth to your character aheminspiringgenerationahem but that’s something you obviously did perfect. Have I told you I love Soomin in this?!

    Anyways, I haven’t been able to check your wordpress out, but am going to right after posting this.
    I really hope there are other stories I can read that are written by you, that and I hope you will finish this. This is seriously a masterpiece that needs to be finished, and even if it may take awhile, I hope you don’t give up on this 🙂

    Reply
  11. Saatschi

    Brilliant!!!!! Brilliant!!!!!! Brilliant!!!!!
    I marathoned the series since last night and now I have read through your awesome story. It’s written so well, capturing the nuances of the characters so beautifully, that I’m captivated.
    I shall be keeping a close watch on this page to devor the next Chapter, whenever you have time to share it with us:) it’s such a well written story, thank you so much for this little gem!!!!!!
    Hope you will make this a long long tale:-)

    Reply
  12. 1806flower

    So my friend recently convinced me to finally watch Heartless City (I know, I REALLY late to the party) and I fell in love with it. She then had me read this and Illumination and Umbra and they are amazing to say the least.
    The way you’ve developed the characters astounds me. I was caught off guard by how much Soo-min had changed since SH’s death. That was like a slap to the face, I wasn’t expecting her to change THAT much.
    I can’t wait for chapter 11, I’m hanging onto my chair to keep me from falling off and smashing my face on my computer screen. I can’t ever start to think about how Soo-min and SH’s conversation about her tattoo will go.

    Reply
  13. Estelle

    I really like your fanfiction, so I hope you’ll update soon. This fanfiction is really really great, you perfectly put the atmosphere we feel watching the drama. I really love this, I can’t wait for the next chapter. I also wish you to take time for yourself of course 😉

    Reply

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