Flight: EP 1: Wayfinder - Chapter 11 - Alwaysachoice (2024)

Chapter Text

“Alright, when we arrive, you’ll get out and wait in the shadows for ten minutes,” Maddox instructed. Yeosang nodded along as his hyung explained the plan, trying not to let his nerves show. In his lap, he clenched his hands so his tremor wouldn’t act up. He wanted to tug at the clothing he was wearing, uncomfortable and feeling out of place.

Yang Sangho, the beta who’d been at the shelter for dinner that first night, had been the one to prepare him for going undercover. The tall, broad man had shown Yeosang exactly what to look out for and had chosen his outfit: a mesh shirt that revealed far more of his arms than he was happy with overlaid with a bizarre leather vest that was made up to look like snakeskin, tight black pants that he felt stuffed into and black boots that gave him an extra inch of height. He felt ridiculous with his eyes lined with black and earrings clipped onto his ears as if he were some kind of Korean rockstar or an American celebrity. Sangho had been sure this would get him captured immediately.

“Once we’re out of sight, just start walking around. We won’t be far but I’ll have Sangho send a false tip in on you. After that, they should show up. They’ll be in gray raincoats so you can’t tell who’s who. Just…be ready,” Maddox said, sitting back in his seat. He was next to Yeosang, splitting his attention between the omega and his laptop. The younger looked into the rearview mirror, meeting Sangho’s eyes for a moment before the beta focused on the road.

Yeosang reached up and rubbed at his neck. The skin where his mate mark lay was irritated thanks to the strange chip inserted underneath. He’d been willing to be the first person to try the new technology - both because he trusted Yunho’s judgment and because he knew it would be immensely easier to use a synthetic scent blocker than try to mentally tamp down on his own scent regularly. One of the Pirates’ medical staff had given him an injection that would stall his reproductive cycle so that it disguised his status should they do any blood testing to determine where he ought to be placed. He’d be put on suppressant regardless but this would ensure his cycle didn’t occur during the time he was undercover.

He knew Wooyoung wasn’t afforded the same option and wondered if his pack mate was alright. He’d be going in the next day under wildly different circ*mstances and as a clear omega.

“Yeosang-ah?”

“Sorry, hyung, I heard you. I’m just thinking about what’s going to happen,” the omega said, shaking his head. Maddox put a hand on his shoulder, rubbing comfortingly.

“It’ll be fine. You’re strong. If you ever feel like you’re lost, remember what and who we’re fighting for,” the beta said. Yeosang nodded and then there wasn’t any more time to talk because they had arrived.

Riding through Strickland the first time had been fascinating. He and Wooyoung had been squeezed together, trying to keep calm as they saw their family shrink in the distance. Yunho had been in the seat in front of them, calm and focused on his computer. This time, with his goal in mind and traveling further into the heart of the city, he found himself intimidated. The buildings were impossibly tall and stacked so close together it was a wonder they weren’t all connected.

Far above them, in the dark night sky, airships like none he’d ever seen floated ominously and appeared even larger every time they were caught in the beam of one of the city's search lights. There had hardly been any people out as they rolled down the streets next to other black vehicles with tinted windows.

The door to the van opened and Maddox encouraged Yeosang to get out. Just as the omega-turned-beta moved to do so, the older grabbed his hand. He pulled Yeosang in and hugged him briefly. When he pulled back, he looked at the omega with kind eyes. “Good luck, Kang Yeosang. Change the world.”

And then he was pushed out, stumbling to the brick wall of the alley. The door shut behind him and the van pulled off, the tail lights vanishing around a corner.

There was little light and he stood still, waiting like he’d been instructed. The alley stunk of stale dirty water and the exhaust of the cars on the nearby main road. Graffiti was scratched out here and there along the dingy bricks and the omega squinted, trying to read it. He couldn’t parse out any real words but he did recognize one thing - a gold crown symbol.

He could hear the rattle of a train passing by somewhere beyond the building and he shrunk in on himself. He might’ve been from a city, but it was nothing like this. His was light and airy with markets full of kind people. This was oppressive, colorless and he felt it weigh on his body like a shroud.

A window slammed open somewhere above him and he flinched, backing up to the dirty wall. Looking up, he saw a hand resting on a windowsill, a lit cigarette trailing wisps of smoke into the air. He could hear muffled arguing from the smoker’s room.

Once he determined ten minutes were up, he cautiously stepped out from the dark shadows of the alley and started to walk down a side street. The collar on his outfit went high, ending just beneath his chin where it rubbed uncomfortably. Yeosang tried not to fuss with it and instead chose to step up to a fence which was plastered with wanted posters. Some were of his packmates, old photos of Hongjoong with an unhinged grin or Yunho with his face half covered leaving only his eyes to stare out darkly. Others were members of the Pirates the omega hadn’t met but they all had the same defiant look in their eyes.

Footsteps echoed down the street, bouncing off skyscraper walls, and he had to fight not to turn and look. He wouldn’t run - not yet. One set of steps turned to more and then he could hear them marching in sync. His pulse jumped and he was amazed that his scent remained so mild. It seemed Yunho’s little pet project was a tentative success.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of gray and he finally turned. As he stood there, a set of six cloaked figures marched in a line on either side of him, not looking up from under their hoods. Looking around, he realized he couldn’t see any of their faces and it made him anxious. At once, they all turned towards him, silently looking.

He counted in his head to ten before taking a slow step back. None of them reacted but there seemed to be a tension buzzing in the air. Yeosang paused and then bolted, leaving the figures behind. He didn’t dare look over his shoulder to see if they were following as he turned down side streets. He kept his pace more sedate than needed - the object was to get caught - but fast enough that it seemed real.

Just as he made a left turn onto a narrow access way, he slammed into a body with a loud grunt. Winded, he stumbled back and looked up into the face of the person he’d collided with. His stomach dropped when he saw the insignia on the person’s jacket. She was a tall, fierce looking beta woman in the uniform of the city’s policing force. Their eyes met for a terrifying moment before she gripped his arm painfully.

Yeosang yelped, unaccustomed to the rough treatment, and tried to break free. It wasn’t an act. She’ll really hurt me, he thought frantically. The woman held him in place and the cloaked figures calmly arrived. Unable to run, he was shoved into a similar raincoat that covered his face and obscured his vision until he was left in the dark. Several pairs of hands gripped onto his body but the guard let him go. Where she’d been holding him stung.

Fear started to overtake logic and he kicked out, trying to knock their hands off of him. There were too many and he could feel them begin to drag his body backwards. He tried to dig his feet into the concrete but his shoes had no grip.

He was tossed into a van unceremoniously and with no regard for his safety, leaving him to smack his head against something hard and metal. It made him dizzy and disoriented and he shut his eyes under the hood of the coat, letting the cold embrace of unconsciousness pull him under.

비행

The room was barren with the exception of the fourteen plainly outfitted beds lined up in rows down each wall. The windows let in natural light that washed over Yeosang’s face as he sat on his assigned bed, hands clasped in his lap. His hair was shorn to a close crop - nothing like the military, but shorter than he’d had it most of his life. The highlights he’d once had were no longer visible, darkened with cheap black hair dye.

Whatever clothing he’d arrived in, the outlandish outfit Sangho had placed him in, had been taken as they processed him into the school. Guards or - as they’d been encouraged to call them- “staff” had dragged him into a cold tile room, handing him basic bathing materials to rid himself of the make up he’d been put in. There they’d cut his hair and sprayed him down, the humiliation of exposure meant to unsettle him from the outset.

It was successful but he refused to let them see that. Instead, he’d said nothing. Maintaining what dignity he could, he’d dried off and stepped into the uniform he’d been provided - all white and high necked with a jacket overtop. White straight leg pants left him almost formless, another body just like the rest. Even his shoes were plain and white, flat to keep him close to the ground.

Around him, the other thirteen ‘students’ of Beta Class C-5 sat on their own beds in similar fashion. Already, Yeosang had taken stock of each of their faces. Nine women and five men including himself. Two of them were young, a boy with a blank expression who eyed everyone wearily and another, who looked curiously like he may be Thai, that was always meditating to keep calm. They’re hardly old enough to be away from family, the omega thought, frowning. Some of the women were no better with one looking as young as fourteen.

A chime went off and they all perked up. It was time to go to the cafeteria for breakfast and they would all be escorted in a group to keep them separated until they were in the large hall. Two tall beta ‘staff’ arrived, opening the doors. All of the students stood up as one, separating into two lines. Yeosang fell into step behind the Thai boy, looking at the middle of his back thanks to his extra height. They marched forward, some whispering to each other behind him. He maintained his silence as they went down a series of hallways.

Before they’d been sent in, he and Wooyoung had spent two days memorizing the layout of the facility: camera placement, specific rooms, exits. He kept track as they turned though after nearly a week of being there, it was like muscle memory.

The cafeteria was a large open hall that had long steel tables lined all the way down one after the other. They were provided trays with food specifically designed for them. While they were forced to be the same in all other aspects, health was managed strictly by the medical staff. Any allergies, intolerances or otherwise were monitored and avoided. Each group of sub genders was catered to with food that supported their bodies but gave no boost to their hormones.

As he sat at a table, the tall Thai boy to his left and the shifty one across from him, Yeosang subtly scanned the room. There were two other groups at this time of the morning: Omega Class A-5 and Alpha Class E-3. The classes were apparently determined off of their arrival times at the beginning. As you became more integrated and less affected by your inherent instincts, you moved to a higher class. The alphas present were several years in and though they looked zombie-like, they were docile enough to be allowed with the less trained betas and omegas. The staff had explained this during the dreaded first day and Yeosang had tried his best to memorize it for later.

His eyes glazed over rows of people in the omega class, every head the same. Finally, he caught a glimpse of a face bent over a plate with a familiar beauty mark: Wooyoung.

Their eyes met and the younger omega mouthed something across the room: 17. Yeosang nodded, pausing and looking down at his plate as a staff member delivered it - vegetables, a slab of pork that looked dry but edible, a small cup of kimchi and white rice. He missed Seonghwa’s cooking desperately.

When he looked back up, Wooyoung waited for him to focus and then mouthed letters: H.B.Y.U.

Yeosang looked down, calculating in his head the shift of the English alphabet. He visualized it and then placed each letter in the corresponding space. They had spent hours practicing since Mingi suggested the idea, long before they’d even left the shelter and their family. He was eternally grateful that codes were simply math and that was a skill he’d excelled at.

Piecing it together he got: R U OK

Meeting eyes, he responded: I.O.C. - Yes

X.O.G.C. - News

X.Y.I.Y.B. - No You

Y.U. - OK

Yeosang nodded and scooped up some rice into his mouth to keep up appearances. Nobody seemed to be paying him any attention and he let the flavors - however sad and lackluster - remind him of home where he would be pressed into Jongho’s side and laughing along to Yunho’s antics. He could picture now how fond Seonghwa would look and how Hongjoong would roll his eyes but eventually join in because he couldn’t resist.

He looked back at Wooyoung who was whispering to one of the kids near to him and they locked eyes one last time. The older omega mouthed one last message: D.W.B.G. - TMRW.

A clatter on the tray next to him made the omega jump and he whipped his head to the side. The tall Thai boy looked flustered and he tried to make himself smaller. Across from them, the kid who had been a bit twitchy earlier smiled. “Sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to kick you.”

It was the first words spoken between any of them as far as Yeosang was aware.

“It’s okay,” the Thai boy said, lifting his lips in a tiny smile.

“What’s your name?”

“Uh, Hunter,” the tall one said. The other nodded.

“I’m Sumin,” he said, returning the exchange. They both turned to Yeosang who said nothing, just looked at them both with wide eyes. “Name?”

The omega shook his head. He’d decided early on that he wouldn’t be giving out his personal information to anyone, not even fellow classmates. Hunter and Sumin shared a look - already they were bonding - before shrugging.

“Okay, you get a nickname then,” Sumin said, tapping his chin and pondering.

“Wait, no name-ssi,” Hunter said, looking at Yeosang. “Are you older than us?”

Yeosang said nothing, shrugging. Sumin huffed. “Well, I’m nineteen. Hunter, how old are you?”

“Eighteen.”

“So?” Sumin asked, leaning forward into Yeosang’s personal space. The omega sat back in his chair, pursing his lips. “Are you a hyung or a dongsaeng?”

“Hyung,” the omega finally said, voice low. Both boys looked delighted that he’d finally spoken. “I’m twenty-four.”

“So then we’ll just call you hyung,” Sumin said, smiling now. He quickly dropped it with another kick under the table from Hunter this time.

“Don’t look so excited, you’ll get punished,” the younger boy hissed, eyes tracking one of the roving staff. “We’re allowed to talk but that’s it.”

“This is such bullsh*t,” Sumin said, frowning. He had nearly cleared his plate but pushed a piece of pork back and forth with the tip of his knife. “Hyung, you came recently so you wouldn’t know, but we’re not supposed to talk to people at other tables.”

“I wasn’t,” Yeosang said calmly. They noticed? I thought I was careful. Hunter and Sumin looked at him skeptically.

“Look, we don’t know who you are or who your friend you were talking to was. He’s not your mate, is he?” Hunter asked, eyes drifting down to the omega’s covered neck. Yeosang flushed and cleared his throat. Clearly they weren’t going to drop the subject.

“He’s just someone I know. I was surprised to see him here. I thought he was…smarter.”

“Doesn’t matter how smart you are,” Sumin said, dropping his fork and giving up on the food. “Could be the smartest person in the world and somebody in your family could sell you out for a meal.”

The omega looked down at the table, despairing. Sumin said that in a way that implied it had very much been his case and he hated the thought of it.

“We can cover for you,” Hunter offered. It was clear he was quite kind. “We can make it look like we’re having a conversation and as long as one of us is sitting across, it’ll look like you’re just talking back.” Clever, too, Yeosang thought.

“Why would you help me?” he asked, cautious.

“Would you help us?” Sumin asked instead, co*cking his head to the side. Yeosang looked into both of their faces. They were so young and full of life. Knowing this place they were in was designed to beat it out of them until they were blank slates was depressing.

“Yes,” he breathed and the two juniors nodded.

“Of course you would. I could tell right away you were a good person, hyung,” Sumin said. “Don’t you think so Hunter?”

“Absolutely,” the youngest said firmly. “We should stick together.”

Yeosang found himself agreeing but inside he was bewildered by how he’d just been adopted by these two dongsaengs. He supposed it couldn’t hurt to have allies in this forsaken place given he couldn’t get to Wooyoung.

“So, this food’s pretty trash, right?” Sumin asked, grinning. Hunter kicked him again.

비행

Wooyoung looked away from Yeosang and the two boys he was now chatting with. His own table held a group of omegas that were extremely diverse. Most were young, younger than him even, and he was disturbed that some were kids. The youngest two were twins - a boy and a girl who had unique features that got them targeted immediately. Four were women who had to be approaching their mid to late twenties. The last four were himself and three boys roughly eighteen to nineteen years old. They quickly formed a group and pulled Wooyoung in.

“Did your friend even understand whatever you were just babbling, hyung?” Seeun asked. He was perhaps the most talkative of their group and Wooyoung was a little miffed to realize that while he thought it was a little annoying he was likely viewed the same way by his own pack. So they had a bit of a kinship there.

“Pretty sure he did,” Wooyoung said, trying not to roll his eyes. “But it’s probably best not to talk about it, don’t you think?”

Seeun pouted.

“So then we can talk about something else before they drag us off to ‘classes’,” Yujun said, calmly picking at his food. He’d nearly cleared his plate and Wooyoung offered him some of his kimchi. The kid was tall and could put away food unlike anyone the omega had met outside of Seonghwa. “Where are you all being forced to today? I’ve got vocal lessons.”

Wooyoung wrinkled his nose. Vocal lessons were unpleasant at best. Supposed voice coaches taught them to level their voices to something neutral or more like monotone. He’d only been twice since getting to the school and already he hated it. He had burst into laughter once which had pulled at his bruised ribs - an unfortunate consequence of his capture - and had swiftly been threatened for the disruptive sound.

“Me too,” Seeun said, rolling his eyes.

Wooyoung looked to the last of their little foursome, Hyunwoo. He was the most introverted of them and he had yet to crack a smile though he was friendly. “What about you, kid?”

“I’m going in for my medical check,” he said quietly. Seeun and Yujun cringed, both looking down at the table.

“Wait, I am too. What happens with that?” the oldest omega asked, looking between them. He had yet to experience whatever that was and he had a bad feeling about it.

“Ah, hyung, it’s not good,” Yujun said, biting his lip. “There’s not really a good way to put this,” he said carefully. His eyes flickered to Seeun who had crossed his arms over his chest. He dropped them a moment later, careful not to catch the attention of any staff.

“They’re going to strip you and do some very violating checks before they stick you with two needles,” Seeun spat. “Don’t…don’t try to fight it. Trust me.” He pulled up his sleeve to show a scar on his forearm. “Met the wrong end of a cattle prod ‘cause I told them to keep their fingers where I could see them.”

“f*ck,” Wooyoung said simply.

“I don’t like knowing that,” Hyunwoo said, frowning deeply. “But I guess it’s better than not knowing.”

“It’s fast though,” Yujun said, trying to reassure them. “I don’t know what they’re injecting us with but I’m pretty sure one of them at least is suppressants. Maybe the other is birth control?” He speculated. “Although I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t care if we started f*cking each other in our own block since we can’t get anyone pregnant as omegas anyway.”

“Jesus, dude,” Seeun said, choking on his water. “Thanks but no thanks,” he said, trying to clear his throat.

“Nobody is f*cking anybody,” Wooyoung said, sighing. He sort of missed the juniors back at the shelter right about now. He particularly thought about Jinsik who he’d been mentoring to be his little mini-me, pickpocketing skills included. Maybe I should teach these ones too. They seem like good kids, he mused. Might help them later on if they can learn to listen and to manipulate. “Finish your food, my little dongsaengs. We’ve got five minutes left.”

비행

That evening, Wooyoung lay in his bunk and squeezed his eyes shut to battle the nausea rolling through his stomach. He felt like absolute dog sh*t. The ‘medical check’ from earlier had been dehumanizing and he still felt unclean despite scrubbing extra hard in the meager shower he was allowed. The feeling of someone’s cold, clinical hands on his body and the uncomfortable metal tools inserted in places he’d rather not revisit was enough to make him feel sick.

What was truly unpleasant though, was the co*cktail of injections they’d given him. The suppressants alone were new to his system and were likely f*cking with his cycle already. He felt dizzy and angry in an ambiguous way like he wasn’t quite sure why. Whatever the other thing had been - birth control or something else - had him feeling lethargic. Yujun had comforted him as soon as they were all together again in the dorm while Seeun took care of Hyunwoo by telling him it would wear off by morning.

Unfortunately, the omegas who’d already been through it also mentioned it would be both uncomfortable and make for a sleepless night. Wooyoung had already resigned himself and lay there, sweating and staring at the ceiling.

He slipped into dreams or memories, he couldn’t tell the difference.

“I don’t know how to let you go,” San said, burying his face in Wooyoung’s bare shoulder. They were naked, wrapped around each other under the covers of their bed. Sweat still cooled on his skin and he could faintly feel the ache from where San had spread him open after they’d made up hours ago. Lazily, he brought a hand up and ran it through the alpha’s hair. In return, he got a rumble of contentment from the older that vibrated in his chest. “How will I live without you?”

“So dramatic, San-ah,” Wooyoung said, chuckling. San bit him lightly and he batted the alpha’s head in retaliation. “I’m not dying. I’ll come back.” He rolled over, tossing a leg over San’s hip. “When I get back, I’ll be ready.”

“Ready for what, Youngie?” San asked, eyes closed as he started to slip closer to sleep. The omega returned the favor from earlier and bit San on the bicep which made the alpha yelp. “Don’t bite!”

“I said I’d be ready,” Wooyoung said, growling. “You know, to be mates,” he said, pouting. San tensed under him and then he was sitting up, dislodging Wooyoung from his side.

“Really? But I thought- You said-”

“I was never against it, San,” the omega said, softening his features. “I just wasn’t ready for that. But I want to be.”

The alpha beamed, his dimples dominating his cheeks and making him look terribly sweet. He tackled Wooyoung gently and the omega burst out into delighted giggles, pulling his boyfriend close. “I love you so much, my Wooyoungie.”

Wooyoung groaned, his head starting to throb terribly. He curled up on his side, gripping his head in his hands as if it would keep it from splitting open. Shivers wracked his frame and he wanted to cry out but it would attract the attention of the staff. The dorm was full of snores as the others slept but he could hear whimpers from Hyunwoo’s bed across the aisle.

The younger omega was suffering and his scent was making that clear. He had the gentle fragrance of apricot but it had morphed into something rotten and fermented. Distantly, he could smell someone else’s calming pheromones but he was too disoriented to understand it. He slipped back under.

“You’re so sweet and pliant,” San said, bringing Wooyoung’s legs around his waist as he moved with slow thrusts. Wooyoung moaned and threw his head back into the pillows. San was pressing him down into the bed and he felt completely enveloped. This was being loved, being worshiped, he was sure of it. The alpha above him leaned down and nibbled at his collarbone, leaving a mark. A plush mouth moved up to his neck, perilously close to his scent gland.

“Ah, San-ah, don’t,” he said, patting the alpha’s back to get his attention. San continued, letting his teeth graze the skin. It was making the omega nervous and suddenly he felt less safe, less loved. San had never acted this way towards him. “San, I said back off,” he growled, getting his hands under the alpha’s shoulders and pushing him forcefully to sit up.

The face he was looking at wasn’t his boyfriend.

“I-” he choked but he felt fear wash over him. This was someone he remembered. A beta, someone nameless and faceless, he’d once hooked up with while still living alone. It had been a mistake; the beta had tried to mate him without permission. He mistakenly agreed to a hook up because it meant a hot meal and a soft bed. This wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted San. “Get off of me,” he said, voice wavering. The beta laughed, confused.

“Why? You were having fun,” the man said, thrusting again. Wooyoung grunted, trying to will his body not to respond. He tried to get his feet under himself, unlocking them from the beta’s waist. The man growled, lowering his head again to try and bite but the omega managed to plant a foot on his abdomen and push him off. It was painful as he was suddenly empty and he remembered how much it had hurt for days back then. “Little omega slu*t,” the beta growled, standing up. His skin was red where he’d been kicked. Wooyoung scrambled up the bed, wild eyed.

“Stay the f*ck away from me,” he threatened. The beta started advancing, his facial features wavering between the beta, San, and others he’d come into contact with when he’d done anything out of desperation to survive. “Stop it. Bring San back. Bring him back to me,” he screeched, eyes watering. He looked down at his own hand and saw a knife pointed at the other person, his knuckles white as he gripped its hilt. The beta stepped forward and he didn’t hesitate to-

“Hyung. Hyung. Wooyoung-hyung, wake up,” a voice said, whispering directly into his ear. Groggy, he blinked his eyes open. Seeun was standing over him, his absurdly tall body looming. “Hyung, you’re crying,” the junior said, frowning. He reached out, trying to comfort most likely, but the former thief flinched away. Seeun rested his hand on the bed but he didn’t leave.

“Wha time s’it?” he gasped out, trying to shake off his horrible nightmare. It was still dark in the dorm so it couldn’t be morning quite yet. Seeun shushed him.

“Night. But listen,” he commanded, looking over his shoulder to the end of the hall. The dorm door was cracked and voices were coming through. More aware, Wooyoung sat up and strained his ears. It was the staff. “They’re saying names,” Seeun said, frowning.

“Then let’s start memorizing them, kid,” Wooyoung said, grinning at the younger omega. He brought a hand up and swiped at the tears on his face. It was time to be Wooyoung the thief, he could cry later. Slipping out of the bed, he crept on silent feet towards the door to press against the wall. Just beyond the door, two staff members stood in the hall chattering. He squinted in the low light, feeling Seeun press up behind him.

This was the start of his mission. He’d do his damndest to carry it out.

Flight: EP 1: Wayfinder - Chapter 11 - Alwaysachoice (2024)

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