I returned home alone, still feeling a little shell-shocked.
It was already dark outside. The moment between dusk and night had passed, and all the rays of light were extinguished.
The deep, dark night seemed like a sea seething with undercurrents and unknown dangers.
Thinking of what had just taken place, I found myself unable to settle down completely.
All this time, even though this organization has been causing incidents around me, none of them have been like today.
What's happened that's caused them to abandon other means and start acting out in the open?
I took out my phone and was surprised to see two missed calls and one voice message, all from Victor.
Having been out of touch with him for so long, my first reaction was to finally feel relief.
MC: Great, he must have just been too busy earlier after all...
I don't know why, but this whole time l'd been out of touch with Victor, I had a constant vague feeling of worry and unease.
A feeling that l'd never had about him before, something seemingly foreboding.
I opened the voice message, not even 15 seconds long. Victor's familiar, deep voice boomed forth.
Victor’s Voice Message: I need to go away temporarily to take care of something very important. Don't worry. You need to protect yourself, and don't go rushing into danger...
After a few seconds of silence, Victor's voice sounded again.
Victor’s Voice Message: ...I hope to see you in the future.
He spoke calmly, composedly, and with reluctance and resolve.
I put down the phone in a daze and looked out at the multitude of city lights in the distance, my heart pounding with doubt and distress.
MC: ...See me in the future? What did that mean?
I hastily tried to call him back, but after a long, long time still no one picked up.
A robotic beeping reverberated in the night, and that cloud of worry in my chest grew larger.
MC: Is he busy?
MC: Where could he be at this hour? What was he trying to tell me?
I opened the voice message again and listened over and over, trying to find even the slightest thread of a clue.
I looked at Victor's name flashing repeatedly on the screen and gave a solemn nod.
MC: I promise you, I will protect myself. But I didn't get to tell you, you take care too...
As I muttered to myself, my eyes came upon a glass cup on my bed's headboard. It shone with an ethereal blue glow under the light, and I couldn't hold back a laugh at the silly, grinning dog painted on it.
I wondered if the other cup with the snarling cat on it was being used by its owner?
As I traced the dog's outline on the cup with my finger, I let out a smile.
Minutes before. Victor's house.
No one was picking up the call. After the voice prompt ended, the call hung up automatically.
Victor: What could she be busy doing at this hour?
His finger paused over the close button and then hit redial again.
*Beep-- beep-- beep*
Victor frowned. The incessant beeping of the dial tone was starting to wear on even his patience.
"Sorry, the number you have dialed is busy. Please leave a voice message after the tone."
He let out a sigh and gave up on dialing again.
Victor: I need to go away temporarily to take care of something very important. Don't worry. You need to protect yourself, and don't go rushing into danger.
He paused a moment and then added a few more words:
Victor: ...I hope to see you in the future.
The phone slipped from his hand, and he doubled over, his body trembling with pain. That familiar, soul-tearing pain was more intense than ever.
*Woosh--* A wind suddenly kicked up in the sealed space, turning into a vortex.
Behind Victor, a black hole appeared out of thin air, and a swirling air current rapidly expanded.
In the blink of an eye, it had filled up the entire space.
The silent vortex seemed entwined with a black light around the edges, but the center was a completely still and pure blackness.
If anything entered it, even light, it could not escape.
Victor stared grimly into the gaping black hole. The powerful pull from the vortex made it hard for him to hold his ground.
Victor: I guess I have no choice...
The black hole-like dimensional rift devoured everything in his field of vision. At this moment, he still couldn't help but think of her.
In an instant, all light was snuffed out, and then quickly returned back to its former brightness.
The room looked as if nothing had happened at all. A brightly-lit lamp, a cold black-and-white table top, a cube of ice melting in a glass cup...
It was as if the vortex and black hole from before were just illusions.
Except there was now no sign of Victor.
Agent: Agent B15. I have an urgent situation to report--
The young man on watch nearby broke out into a sweat. One minute ago, the detector in his hand registered a spike of data, going past alarm levels in just 10 seconds.
Then it rapidly hit a peak and even exceeded the detectable range for the device.
Agent: The observation target experienced an intense energy fluctuation, exceeding peak levels. Now the situation is unclear. Requesting backup to investigate. I repeat...
Inside the room, the phone that had dropped on the floor kept vibrating, stopping minutes later.
Kiro looked at the file he'd just cracked, his eyes flashing with vengeance.
A document 10 pages long, recording all kinds of data, and at the top, several lines of words--