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    2. Hunger (2)

    He doesn’t know why Kang Ki-joon and Kei are saying not to get “possessed”. They don’t even explain what it means. If he told them he ran away cause he was scared to get possessed by it, they would surely laugh at him.

    Absentmindedly listening to Kei’s nagging, he fidgeted with the cube in his hand as a habit.

    Wait a minute. Yeonsoo suddenly raised his head.

    “Did Kei solve this?”


    “It’s about the cube. I’m asking if Kei solved it.”

    “No, I can’t stand such useless things.”

    Hah. He looked down at the cube in his hand absentmindedly.

    Clearly, when he put it in the tank, it was still mixed up, however, the cube in his hand had perfectly returned to its place.

    T/N: I somehow cut off the chapters wrongly T-T

    This part was supposed to be also in Part 2.1 lol

    ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖ ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖

    “What are you looking at? Shit. Can’t you turn your eyes away?”

    The gazes from across that were glancing over scattered at once.

    “What are they always staring at and blabbering about.”

    Alex moved the spoon she had just picked up and rattled it again.

    She couldn’t make all the gazes coming from all directions subside.

    It’s been a week since they had a meal together at the canteen. Yeonsoo was getting used to it to some extent. Even Alex, who always sharpens her claws and the gazes that seem to never stop.

    How could she not stand out? In a place where everyone wore white lab coats, Alex’s attire was conspicuous. Today’s glossy leather jacket was relatively tame. On some days, she would show up wearing a coat adorned with skulls and chains, with the upper part made of mesh.

    Sitting next to her, Jun was trying hard not to stand out with a face full of awkwardness. By pulling down his hood or hunching his upper body as much as possible. However, no matter what he did, his appearance only made him stand out more in contrast to Alex.

    On the opposite side, Kei, regardless of what anyone said, silently and swiftly cleared his plate with an indifferent expression.

    It was an interesting combination. The most outstanding woman at the center, a man trying not to stand out, and a man who seemed ordinary but had some mysterious side to him. With the addition of the rumor that Kang Ki-jun is involved with him, it has become an even more strange combination.

    Yeonsoo, who had been living in the center’s ecosystem with closed eyes, has finally opened his eyes during the past week. He now sees how pathologically people detested and guarded against those who stood out, who didn’t fit the norm.

    There have always been groups in society that hate and discriminate against others who are different or don’t conform to customs, but it wasn’t this extreme before the Great Shift.

    Everyone had become overly sensitive. It was bitter to experience it firsthand after just being a bystander.

    Even though he was quite dull, he couldn’t just brush off the hatred that was openly directed at him or the gossip whispered behind his back.

    “Will the world really perish because of water?”

    Yeonsoo, who was regularly moving his spoon, suddenly blurted out. Alex, who was putting a spoonful of rice into her mouth, paused and looked at him, asking what he meant.

    “Maybe it will be ruined first before it even gets submerged in the sea. Devouring each other.”

    Alex let out a light laugh.

    “That’s not entirely wrong.”

    Kei, who was silent, chimed in abruptly.

    At that moment, a long shadow cast behind Jun.

    Instead of Jun, Yeonsoo’s face turned pale on the opposite side. Just as Yeonsoo was about to say something, a stream of soup poured down Jun’s head and down to his chin.

    “Oops. Oh no, my apologies. My legs got tangled up.”

    A lot of sarcastic remarks poured over Jun’s head.

    “You crazy b*stard!”

    Alex stood up abruptly and forcefully pushed the man who spilled the soup. The man stumbled backward with exaggerated gestures. It was Oh In-hwan from the Marine Biological Resource Excavation Department.

    “It was an accident. Why would you hit me?”

    With a sly smile, Oh In-hwan muttered, and Alex tightly grabbed his collar. Being shorter, there’s a big difference in strength. Oh In-hwan easily shook off her arm.


    He kicked the chair Jun was sitting on. Jun fell straight to the floor.

    “What the hell are you doing?!”

    Ignoring Alex’s shouting, Oh In-hwan lightly poked Jun’s back with his toe. Seeing Jun reflexively crouch down, Oh In-hwan sneered.

    “Idiot. Loser. I feel sorry for your pitiful girlfriend who shines alone, you pathetic bastard.”

    Yeonsoo, who couldn’t stand it anymore, tried to get up, but Kei held his arm and stopped him. He bowed his head and whispered quickly.

    “Stay still. Oh In-hwan is deliberately provoking to cause trouble. He wants all of us to get in trouble.”


    “Alex is really pushing it. If she gets disciplined again, she’ll be expelled. Do you know what that means? She knows it too, so she’ll stop at the right time. Don’t get involved for no reason.”


    Yeonsoo clenched his fist tightly. He wanted to spit on that vile face, which was smiling maliciously at Jun. He saw Alex’s trembling shoulders as she held back.

    “Isn’t it just Alex who’s pushing it? I haven’t been disciplined yet.”

    “Dr. Han, just don’t create unnecessary trouble.”

    “Okay. I just won’t create trouble, right?”

    Yeonsoo quickly stood up from his seat.

    Holding the half-empty plate, he walked briskly towards Oh In-hwan. As Oh In-hwan turned his head sensing his approach, the plate flipped over his head.

    “What the f*ck is this…”

    Mumbling, Oh In-hwan hurriedly closed his mouth to prevent the flowing food from entering. The broth soup and leftovers fell down his chin.

    “Oops. My mistake too. I thought this was a garbage can for food waste..”

    Seeing Yeonsoo smiling, he gritted his teeth. Purple veins appeared on his forehead.

    “I’m going to kill you. You son of a b*tch…”

    “Do you not know who I am? I’m Kang Ki-joon’s.”

    As Oh In-hwan raised his hand to throw a punch, Yeonsoo extended his index finger and waved it playfully.

    “If I die, Ki-joon will cry.”


    “Don’t make Ki-joon cry. You know our Ki-joon’s personality.”

    Oh In-hwan couldn’t retaliate even though he was trembling with anger. Surprisingly, it was Yeonsoo who was taken aback. He wondered if it would actually work, and it did.

    Even though he mentioned Kang Ki-joon’s name, he wasn’t sure if it would work. In reality, Kang Ki-joon wasn’t the type to bat an eye even if he got beaten up by someone else. He was like a toy that he didn’t care of even if someone else touched him. He had taken the risk, thinking it was worth a try, and fortunately, the results were better than expected.

    Oh In-hwan forcefully kicked an empty chair nearby. He turned around and stormed out of the canteen. It was clear to everyone that he was running away.

    Yeonsoo lifted Jun up and sat him on a chair, then patted his knees and shoulders. He took out a napkin and wiped away the remaining soup stains on his face.

    “It’s a disgusting rumor. But it’s not all bad though. There’s nothing wrong with cashing in on Kang Ki-joon’s name. That b*astard is atleast helpful in some way.”


    An out-of-place laughter burst out.


    It was Alex. She laughed so hard while holding her stomach that it was hard to believe if she was the same person who had just been shouting a moment ago. Yeonsoo looked up at her with a bewildered expression.

    “Hahaha. Oh, my stomach hurts. You really got me.”

    Alex suddenly started crying. She bent her index finger and wiped away the tears that had gathered in her eyes. Yeonsoo couldn’t understand why she was laughing so much all of a sudden.

    “Haah. Someone more hilarious than Alex has arrived.”

    Behind them, Kei let out a sigh as if he had a headache.

    At this level, isn’t it a case of ignoring the problem rather than escalating it?

    Yeonsoo was about to argue, but he quickly gave up. He felt that everyone in the canteen was watching them. It seemed better to quickly return to the office before unnecessary rumors spread.

    As soon as they returned to the office, Alex, Jun, and Yeonsoo took their familiar places on the floor and sat down. Gathering on the floor and playing games had become their routine lately after lunch.

    This time, they played an anagram game. It was a game where they rearranged letters to make new words. The first person to come up and determine the plausible word will be the winner.

    Random words were scattered on each of their tablet PC screens.

    As soon as “Live” appeared, Jun entered “Evil.” It was the correct answer.

    Then, a game that seemed like a test of finger speed continued with words that were easy to solve. The three of them took turns earning points.

    Evangelist. This time, there was a moment of silence. It was the most difficult word among the ones presented so far.

    Yeonsoo’s eyes suddenly caught something. He let out a light laugh and tapped the keyboard with a lively gesture.

    Yeonsoo’s answer was “Evil’s Agent.” The system deemed it as a suitable answer and awarded Yeonsoo with a point.

    “Wow. This is the charm of anagrams. The answer reveals the hidden essence of the words.”

    Alex chuckled and laughed beside them.

    “There used to be a pastor in our neighborhood who would rant about how homosexuals should be burned to death in hell. Turns out, he was a devil himself, going around raping anyone, regardless of whether they were boys or girls.”

    When she said those words, she wasn’t laughing anymore.

    After that, Yeonsoo racked up points by spelling out words one after another.

    As the one-sided victories continued, Alex soon lost interest. She threw her tablet PC somewhere and then stretched out on the floor.

    “So, unless you came here as a spy for Kang Ki-joon….”

    She kept her body in place but only raised her gaze to look at Yeonsoo.

    “What burden are you carrying?”

    Despite the rude question, Yeonsoo immediately understood what Alex was asking. Kang Ki-joon’s words came to mind. One of the conditions that must be met to work in the Preservation and Reproduction Department.

    ‘If the center wants you dead, you must be able to die. So, you have to be firmly committed and willing to risk your life for the center.’

    It is likely that everyone, not just himself, is carrying a similar burden. Unable to put down that burden, they must have been pawned off here, with everything they have.

    “I… about my daughter. She is being treated for a rare cancer at the National Hospital. Amazing, isn’t it? That there are still rare disease patients left in the Union Republic.”

    Alex said casually.

    After a moment of silence, Yeonsoo spoke in a somewhat dry voice.

    “Me, it’s my mother.”

    Ah. Alex nodded as if she knew.

    When the Great Shift occurred, there were more people who did not survive than those who did. It was inevitable. Most of the inland vanished at an alarming rate. Nations crumbled before even activating their disaster response systems. The systems failed and resources were scarce.

    The swift-footed individuals gathered their strength and built a new government called the ‘Union Republic’ on the remaining land. The current chairman of the assembly and key military officials were the ones who made remarkable contributions during that process.

    There were numerous climate refugees, but the Union Republic did not accept everyone due to resource shortages. There was a ruthless selection process. The officials of the United Republic wielded god-like authority. Only those who had the opportunity boarded the safe ark called the ‘Union’, while those who did not were washed away by the ocean and perished.

    There were various criteria for the selection, and one of them was whether they could play an essential role in the survival of the country. Even though standards were set, most of those who were filtered out were the poor. Especially those with illnesses or disabilities were thoroughly excluded. As a normal person, Yeonsoo could not possibly know who set the criteria and what they were based on.

    Yeonsoo and his mother survived. Because they judged Yeonsoo’s intellectual ability to be useful. It was an unexpected decision that they granted citizenship not only to himself but also to his biological mother, something they realized only later on. His mother was the “hostage” they captured.

    Thanks to that, he had to turn a blind eye to various corruption and injustices while working at the center, pretending to know nothing.

    Yeonsoo would occasionally ask himself…

    We survived, but can we really call it surviving?

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