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    2. Hunger (3)

    The first thing Yeonsoo did when he returned home was to feed Glow.

    He put the fish he caught in a plastic bag into Glow’s tank. The fish had weakened after being starved for a few days. Glow, who had only been eating carcasses falling from the deep sea, lacked the skill to hunt lively fish.

    Glow slowly swam around the fish, and after a while, he succeeded in catching one by biting its tail. The caught fish struggled but to no avail. With strong jaws and sharp teeth, Glow began to crush the body of the live fish.

    The flesh and bones crumpled together, and blood gushed out like smoke. The torn pieces of flesh gradually fell down.

    Yeonsoo watched the scene with a blank expression.

    Suddenly, he recalled the transparent emerald eyes, just like the green skin of the deep-sea fish. The eyes of “it” that he had seen in the lab. Within them, there was a young sinister thirst and hunger. Was that really just an illusion?

    It was only after seeing Glow devour all the fish without leaving a single one that Yeonsoo finally left the room.

    On the living room table, the borrowed book “About Mermaids” was placed. The part he had read and left open from last night was still there.

    He picked up the book and flipped through the table of contents, scanning the chapter titles with his eyes. His gaze stopped at the subtitle “Reproduction of Mermaids.” He gave up reading the previous part and went straight to that section.

    He sat on the sofa, leaning against the backrest, and started reading in earnest. As the living room was dimly lit, his eyes became tired as he read. In the moment when he was about to close the book, a passage caught his eye.

    […Mermaids are creatures capable of reproducing with other species. Humans are also included in the mating targets of mermaids. The oldest record of mating between mermaids and humans was found in Syria. On the Mediterranean coast of ancient Canaan, there was an ethnic group called the Philistines, who worshiped mermaids as their gods. According to records, mermaids taught these people arts and sciences.

    One day, the mermaid who was worshipped as a god fell in love with a human and mated, giving birth to a child… The child inherited the mermaid’s lineage but did not have gills, so they couldn’t live in the sea. Instead, the child settled on land and gave birth to descendants of the mermaid.]

    Crossbreeding between different species…

    Could Beresht also be capable of crossbreeding with a different species? There might have already been similar experiments.

    With the book left open, he took out his laptop and immediately connected to the messenger.

    Is it a good time now? I have something I want to ask.

    He sent a message to Kei. The reason he turned on the messenger instead of using a text message on his phone was because there was a rule that all work-related communication must be done through a messenger with installed security programs.

    Yeah, what is it?

    The reply came quickly.

    Is it possible for Beresht to crossbreed with a different species?
    If you’re asking about the biological possibility,
    then yes, it’s possible.
    What about with humans?

    This time, the reply didn’t come immediately. The window saying ‘typing’ appeared and disappeared several times.

    Haven’t you watched the video I gave you yet?

    The message that came after a long time was not an answer to his question, but rather a new question.

    I haven’t watched it yet.
    Those are videos documenting the breeding experiments.
    Watch them and come back by tomorrow.
    Don’t miss any of them.
    Did the breeding succeed?
    Watch the videos first. Let’s talk after you watch them.

    Yeonsoo let out a long sigh and leaned back, closing his eyes. He hadn’t been reading the book for long, but he felt strangely tired.

    He didn’t feel good at all.

    If what Kei said was true, then there would be a breeding scene in the video no matter what the other party was.

    A long time ago, he had seen a scene where a male great white shark pinned down a female great white shark on the ocean floor and vigorously shook its hips after inserting its claspers. The researchers who watched the video together were in a frenzy, whistling and laughing, saying it looked like a scene from hot sex, but Yeonsoo didn’t care at all. It was just a mating scene of animals, after all.

    But why does he feel so uncomfortable now? Like someone who has to indulge in unwanted pleasure.

    Slowly, he got up and took the USB he had put in the drawer. He plugged the device into his laptop and waited for the data to be read.

    When he decrypted the encryption using the password Kei had given him and opened the folder, a list of files numbered in a row appeared on the screen.

    He clicked on the top file, ‘FBSR Breeding Experiment 001’.

    The black screen became distorted and a familiar water tank appeared. A dark tank filled with blue water.

    After a moment, a massive creature entered the screen with the sound of rushing water. It was Subject 10. As soon as he saw it, his chest started pounding with a strange tension.

    It swam freely in the vast space. Its large tail fin swirled through the water, leaving glimmers like remnants of light with each pass. Shiny dark blue hair fluttered as deep as the dark midnight.

    It was clearly not human. If it were, there would be no reason for it to be so beautiful.

    Then, another creature appeared behind it on the screen. It appeared to be about 1.5 times smaller than Subject 10, with short golden hair that reached its chin and sparkling blue eyes. He had seen it in the report, but he couldn’t remember the exact subject number.

    It smoothly roamed around Subject 10 as if dancing. It was a clear gesture of seduction. Yeonsoo focused without taking his eyes off, concentrating intently. It felt like something was about to happen at any moment.

    However, as time passed, nothing special happened. The two creatures occasionally seemed aware of each other, but there was no behavior that could be presumed as mating. And so, the replay of the first video ended in disappointment.

    He felt a sense of relief for some reason.

    With a slightly relaxed face, he opened the next file.

    The files labeled as breeding experiments were all the same. Being the only male individual in the center, Subject 10 kept appearing as a dependent variable in the experiment, while the other individuals changed. But apart from that, there was no change at all. Nothing happened.

    Unable to bear the boredom, He quickly skimmed through the remaining files and and eventually scrolled down the list for a long time.

    The mouse cursor stopped at a point where the numbering of the files changed.                                                                                                                                                                            

    FBSR A Rift In Moon(000)

    Yeonsoo raised his head in confusion at the ambiguous file name ‘A Rift In Moon’. When he opened the file, a window popped up asking for a new password. He tried entering the password Kei had given him, but it didn’t work this time. After a moment of contemplation, something came to mind, causing him to raise her eyebrows.

    The file name seemed like an anagram. As expected, his guess was correct. When he rearranged the alphabet in the file name to form ‘Information’, the file unlocked.

    Once again, a faint tension arose in his fingertips. The file with another lock clearly contained ‘information’ as indicated by the rearranged file name. It surely contained information that needed to be double-encrypted for protection.

    The screen turned on. This time, the background was not an aquarium. he saw a white floor and a dark wall, but he couldn’t tell where it was.

    He was a little surprised by the unfamiliar angle, but he focused and looked at the screen. Soon, something appeared.

    ‘A person…?’

    It was definitely a person, not Beresht. He was standing firmly on the floor with his two legs.

    He was a naked man wearing only briefs. With a somewhat dazed expression, he jumped somewhere.

    Splash. The sound of water splashing echoed, and at the same time, the screen changed.

    The man was now underwater. It seemed like two different videos taken with different cameras were stitched together. Only then did Yeonsoo realize where the man had been standing. It was the entrance to the tank in the lab. A place Yeonsoo had been to once. There had definitely been iron bars back then, but they were nowhere to be found on the screen, making it unrecognizable.

    So, the man threw himself into the tank where Beresht was.

    Sigh. This is driving me crazy.

    Yeonsoo chewed on his lower lip anxiously. His palm became damp with sweat in an instant.

    Could it be that they used a person as an experimental subject for breeding?

    And a man at that?

    What on earth is going on?

    The man, who had been wandering around the spacious tank, went up and down to breathe. Beresht’s figure had not been seen during that time.

    As he stared at the man, he suddenly noticed something strange. The man no longer came up to the surface. When he rewinds the video, the last time he had risen up the surface was about 3 minutes ago. Can a person even hold their breath for this long?

    Moreover, his body, which had been swimming vigorously here and there, was noticeably slowing down. Soon, it became almost motionless, and Yeonsoo noticed something he hadn’t realized until now.

    Inside the man’s briefs, tightly stuck to his skin, something protruded abruptly. It was an erect pen1s, as if about to burst. His forehead involuntarily furrowed.

    Why is that…

    The man’s gaze, which had been fixed in one place, slowly moved. Then, a swaying shadow slowly falls over the man.

    Yeonsoo held his breath and stared at the scene.

    A huge blue tail appeared beneath the man’s feet. It reared up like a vicious snake and quickly wrapped around the man’s torso.

    Crack.

    The sound of bones breaking resounded loudly.

    Thud,

    Yeonsoo’s hand, which had been hanging over the mouse, fell down.

    W-what, what is this…

    Despite his body breaking apart, the man made no resistance. It was a strange and creepy scene. In the man’s eyes, which were on the verge of their limits due to the pouring sensations, there was a glimmer that seemed closer to pleasure than pain. The man’s body trembled in undulating waves. His enlarged pupils trembled as if barely enduring something pushing against them.

    Thud, thud.

    The tail tightens around the man’s bones without leaving a trace. The organs that were wrapped by the bones also break. They crumple. Unable to withstand the pressure, the man’s eyeballs bulge out. From the place where the eyeballs flew out, blood splattered like a downpour.

    Beresht’s upper body was revealed. The solid skeleton that looked twice as big as the man, with smooth and thick muscles that were perfectly symmetrical as if they were finely crafted. They now only looked like tools for slaughtering prey, rather than symbols of beauty.

    It grabbed the broken skull with its hand, which was attached to its tail. The beautiful face sinks deeply into the man’s cheek, which is still gasping for breath.

    It licked the man’s cheek with its tongue. Tender and affectionate, as if caressing a lover.

    Yeonsoo’s eyes shook with despair. The scene on the screen reminded him of something. The moment when Beresht licked and ate his own traces left in the cube.

    A large hand descended on the man’s neck. The outstretched fingers tightly grip the neck, which looks infinitely slender compared to its hand. Softly, the neck snaps and at the same time, the man’s spine is pulled out long and thin. The white and long bones, like a snake with all its flesh removed, wriggled around in its hand.

    After that, it was a feast of blood. The tank was stained with a dark red color, and nothing could be seen except for blood.

    Ugh.

    Unable to bear it, he bowed his head to the ground. Transparent gastric juice poured out from his empty stomach. His whole body trembled at the sight of the pitiful scene of slaughter that he had never seen before. The strong smell of blood seemed to spread to his nose.

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