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    2. Hunger (1)

    Yeonsoo searched the center’s library. He needed documents other than research reports written in the past few years. Specifically, he was looking for literature that viewed “it” not as the subject of objective experiments and observations, but from a different perspective.

    After spending all day, he found several books written about “mermaids”. The thickest volume titled “About Mermaids” seemed the most useful. There was no way to know if the “mermaid” mentioned in the book was Beresht. Maybe he could make a guess after reading the book to the end.

    The cover illustration was very intense.

    A giant tree wrapped around the mermaid’s tail.

    The tree1 with large, sturdy trunks had twisted branches hanging in all directions, with fruits bearing ancient characters at their tips. It resembled the Tree of Sephiroth, believed to show the path to truth, and at the same time, it looked like a biological diagram depicting the lineage of organisms. The impressive illustration captivated Yeonsoo’s gaze on the cover for quite some time.

    [A/N: 1) A symbol used in Kabbalah, a mystical sect of Judaism. Resembling a tree, it is also known as the ‘Tree of Life.’ Each branch extending from the tree represents a stage of spiritual development, and in Kabbalah, completing the perfect Sephiroth was seen as the path to divine wisdom.]

    He opened the first chapter. There was an ancient poem that contained a metaphor about mermaids.

    You are the beginning and the end of the world.

    The fire of the primordial written in a mysterious way.

    A cunning and innocent fairy tale.

    Come to think of it, the scientific name “Beresht” means “beginning” or “origin” in Hebrew. The symbolism of mermaids and the scientific name Beresht were strangely similar. Could this have any meaning?

    “Hey, Dr. Han. Having fun?”

    A gentle voice was heard. The book he was looking at disappeared to the side.

    Overflowing with passion, why not study the rest as well?”

    Ah, f*ck. Yeonsoo wanted to close his eyes.

    Kang Ki-joon was sitting next to him. He appeared out of nowhere, giving him chills. Ki-joon crossed his legs and leaned back on the desk. His relaxed posture was irritating.


    But he couldn’t show it openly. Yeonsoo greeted him with a polished voice. Ki-joon didn’t even look at him and quickly flipped through the book he snatched.

    “Did you see it?”

    There was no clear reference, but Yeonsoo understood what Ki-joon was talking about.

    “What was your first impression?”


    “Did you find it disgusting?”

    With a screech, he rose from his chair. What other filthy things did he want to say? He didn’t want to deal with him any longer.

    “I have to go back to the lab now. See you next time…”


    Ki-joon ordered. He then grabbed his arm. At the same time, Yeonsoo tried to twist and pull them out, but the difference in strength was so great that he couldn’t move at all.

    Ki-joon threw the book he was holding and stared at Yeonsoo with fierce eyes.

    “Do I have to pierce your ears for you to listen? Sit down.”

    Due to the force pulling him, Yeonsoo was forced to sit on the chair. He tried to glare at Ki-joon, but he couldn’t stand up again. He was truly a man who would pierced someone’s ears. Just a few days ago, he had shocked everyone at the center by poking the ear of a researcher with a pocket knife, claiming he couldn’t understand what was being said.

    He glared at him.

    He was timing the moment to subtly withdraw. That level of moderate and subtle retaliation was enough to barely pass was the key, and Yeonsoo knew it well.

    Ki-joon lowered his head and brushed his hair back with one hand, smiling deeply with narrowed eyes looking as if he wanted Yeonsoo to dare. Even when he smiled, his intimidating impression remained. The long scar on his forehead that was revealed when he brushed his hair back made him look even more sinister.

    With a height of over 190, a threatening physique, and a sharp impression. Even the scar on his face. Whether by appearance or personality, Kang Ki-joon was definitely not a person suited for a Research Center.

    “There are more than a few people who are possessed with those things. I feel dirty just looking at them.”


    “This doesn’t fit.” [T/N: This sentence also somehow could be said as “This doesn’t feel right.”]

    Ki-joon said that while openly rubbing his palm on a certain part of his pants.

    Ah, f*ck. Yeonsoo couldn’t help but turn his head.

    Ki-joon chuckled, finding it amusing, and continued speaking.

    “It’s just a d*mn big fish, isn’t it? There’s no whole, so where do you stick it? I’m not satisfied with just the throat.”

    “Stop, stop….”

    In that moment, Ki-joon’s two legs covered the chair that Yeonsoo was sitting on. He tightly wrapped the chair’s pillar and pulled it towards him. With the sound of wheels rolling, his body leaned towards him. Yeonsoo almost hit Ki-joon’s chest with his forehead.

    The distance had narrowed to the point where his thick chest on the tight shirt was clearly visible. Yeonsoo couldn’t even breathe and stopped. The strong musk scent made his head dizzy. Even a slight movement would make his nose touch the shirt. His knee had already exceeded the limit of contact with Ki-joon’s inner thigh.

    “This is what feels right.”


    “A white-faced Dr. Han trapped between my legs. Or the pink nape of Dr. Han that I can see in this position, and the cute tear marks under your eyes. Is Dr. Han’s d1ck also this white and cute? When are you going to show it to me, huh?”

    Sighing heavily, Yeonsoo bit his lip while suppressing the sigh that was about to burst out. Even without looking around, he knew that there was more than one person watching this crazy scene.

    So that’s it.

    This is how the rumors spread. It was stupid not to know until now.

    It’s not even a completely wrong rumor, Yeonsoo lamented. He couldn’t even deny it properly.

    After repeating the situation dozens of times, he had now learned how to escape. When it became unbearable, he would try to divert his attention elsewhere. Yeonsoo knew that Ki-joon could play with him as he pleased, but he wouldn’t go all the way.

    “You said two researchers died in the Conservation and Reproduction Department. Was that just something you said to scare me?”

    Yeonsoo asked as he subtly moved his body backwards.

    It was a topic to divert attention, but he was really curious all along. Whether the deaths of the researchers he mentioned were true or not.

    At first, he believed it naively, but as time went by, he thought it was just one of Ki-joon’s usual jokes. No one had ever talked about those deaths.

    The department was running more loosely than expected. There was no trace of death to be found.

    However, the expression he saw that day bothered him. He looked tired and complicated, unlike his usual self.

    In the meantime, Yeonsoo managed to free himself from Ki-joon’s restraints on the chair. After taking a deep breath, he looked at Ki-joon.

    He adjusted his posture and rested his chin on his hand. His long fingers moved quickly.

    “Did you believe that?”


    “Dr. Han who keeps getting lied to and still falls into my trap.”


    Ha. Yeonsoo wanted to get up and kick Ki-joon’s chair so that he would fall back and break his nose. But he restrained himself with exceptional patience.

    Ki-joon, who had thoroughly enjoyed Yeonsoo’s flushed face, got up with a leap.

    “Ah, Doctor. We’re all going to die soon anyway. Don’t try too hard and don’t overthink about it.”


    “Do you know why I keep a pretty Doctor like you around? Because I don’t want to ruin our pretty Doctor. Without Dr. Han, this shitty life here becomes even more boring.”

    He lightly tapped Yeonsoo’s cheek. Yeonsoo tried to hit him hard, but it was already too late. Smiling, Ki-joon continued speaking.

    “I’ll f*ck you at least once before I die. Until you pass out until everything below is destroyed. Don’t mess with anyone else while I endure it. Whether it’s a human or a fish, I won’t forgive it.”

    ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖ ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖

    The second email from Tamar Shelvey arrived. After receiving a reply a while ago, he got so excited and wrote another email on a different topic, and another reply came.

    The Dangers of Deep-Sea Genetic Development

    From: Tamar Shelvey <[email protected]>
    To: Han Yeonsoo <[email protected]>
    Date: Feb 9, 20XX, 8:00 AM
    Dear Mr. Yeonsoo,
    Hello, this is Shelvey.

    I fully sympathize with your concerns about deep-sea genetic development. I also read the attached materials you sent with great interest.

    Do you remember the oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010?

    Despite the accumulation of such man-made disasters, the United Republic government recently approved the development of drilling ships2 capable of extracting oil at a depth of 11km. It is a regrettable situation. My colleagues and I plan to send a petition to the government criticizing deep-sea genetic development. If you agree, I would like to organize the related materials you sent and attach them to the petition. Please let me know if you agree.

    Tamar Shelvey Dream  

    Tamar Shelvey, Ph.D.
    TheInternational Association of Oceanography
    Email:[email protected]
    Phone:  +1 XXX XXX XXXX

    [A/N: 2) Drilling ship: A deep-sea drilling facility that can navigate like a ship in vessel form.]

    After reading it all, his heart raced. Although he had never met Dr. Shelvey in person, at this moment, he felt strongly connected to him. He shared the same concerns about the government’s indiscriminate ocean development and showed deep empathy for his own concerns.

    In an era where a critical consciousness as a knowledgeable person is hard to find, just knowing that there are others with similar intentions made his heart swell.

    The biggest cause of climate change was the use of fossil fuels. In order to obtain fuel, humans exploited the land. They dug up coal and drilled for oil. The sea is not an exemption. It was constantly exploited. In the past, before the discovery of oil, thousands of whales were hunted to the brink of extinction to obtain whale oil for lamps. After the discovery of oil, they drilled deep holes beneath the ocean floor to extract oil and gas. This process has caused numerous pollution accidents.

    As Shelvey said, despite the accumulated crises from the past, the government still did not actively reduce fossil fuel extraction. Everyone had to speak out about this.

    With the acceptance that the sent materials could be used as much as desired, he wrote a reply with enthusiasm, adding his views on underwater development. It took quite a long time before he could press the send button.

    He heard the sound of a chair being pulled from the other side. It was Alex who got up from the seat. It seemed like it was already lunchtime.

    Yeonsoo also got up from his seat. His head was throbbing from intense concentration. To loosen up his stiff body, he stretched and swung his arms lightly.

    Alex put on the red leather jacket he had kept away and changed his sneakers, which he had been wearing, to gold-plated walkers. Jun followed behind Alex, heading towards the exit. Jun, wearing a faded hoodie attached to a plain gray sweatshirt, pressed the hood tightly to his nose. He looked like a shadow attached to Alex’s glamorous appearance.

    They always stuck together. Even though their personalities and appearances were completely opposite, they strangely fit well together.

    After briefly watching their backs, he approached Kei sitting at the desk.

    “Let’s go out too.”

    Kei’s head that had been lowered lifted up.

    “Just a moment.”

    He raised his eyebrows as if something had come to mind after seeing Yeonsoo.

    He threw something from the drawer at Yeonsoo. Yeonsoo reflexively caught the object as it flew in a parabolic trajectory. It was a Rubik’s Cube with a familiar shape.

    “Why was this in the aquarium?”

    Kei asked with a smile on his face. Yeonsoo only smiled shyly.

    “Dr. Han, did you happen to play games or have fun with it?”

    “No, that’s not it. Somehow it just happened…”

    It seemed best not to say that he was trying to understand Beresht’s intelligence. Kei often warned him to be cautious of Beresht, and it seemed as if he did not value those species ‘humanity’ that they possessed.

    How did he manage to retrieve this? Or rather, how did they even discover it in the first place? The tank was so vast and dark, he thought it would be impossible to find.

    It seemed that the gigantic facility with its strange structure had an operating mechanism that he was not yet aware of.

    “I warned you. Don’t get possessed. Don’t approach it recklessly.”

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