[Sent by: Lucas from Overseas
Don’t come in. Just stay there! I think the two of us are enough to handle this.]
As we suddenly lapsed into silence, Yeo Ryung also came to our side while gasping for breath. Looking befuddled to see me and Jooin inside here, she also tossed a question.
“Why are you guys here?”
Jooin and I exchanged eye contact composedly. Meanwhile, Lucas uttered, “I mean, come to think of it, we don’t need that many people. Besides, having many people would make us harder to run away.”
Jooin, who showed a sign of gloominess in his eyes until then, quietly detached his lips.
“Um, then let me ask you something… why am I dressed as a girl?”
Lucas smiled with a wink and replied, “Hmm, a rite of passage?”
As soon as he dropped that remark, Jooin jumped into Lucas and tried to grab him by the collar. Throwing our arms around Jooin’s waist, Yeo Ryung and I struggled to calm Jooin down.
“Jooin, I mean, Joosun! Chill! We can’t do anything without Lucas!”
“True. We just took a step further, Joosun!”
Watching us barely pulling Jooin apart, Lucas then said as if something flashed through his head.
“We don’t have time to waste over here! If they pull themselves together and run after us, we’re gonna be in trouble. We should handle the situation before then.”
This time, it was me who became perplexed.
“What the heck did you do to make those people lose consciousness?”
“Come on, let’s get out of here. Follow me!”
Instead of responding to my question, Lucas beckoned us with those words.
We went outside through the narrow iron door where Jooin and I got in earlier. Although we would be caught in the surveillance camera, the four of us wore wigs or hair extensions that had different hair colors; therefore, the security staff would not be able to catch us easily.
We took our bags from the subway station lockers and changed our outfits then removed the makeup and pulled our hats over our eyes. Once we got in the cab, the driver asked us, “Where can I take you today?”
The four of us shouted at the same time, “City Hall station, please!”
Anyway, we passed the first step in the nick of time.
* * *
Heading to City Hall station where Reed Enterprise was located, we reviewed our plans shortly, but honestly, nothing was so special about the so-called plans. Each of us first received a cardkey from Lucas which he had stolen from the club. The second step would probably be about breaking the password; however, Lucas told us that he could do something to infiltrate the codes.
Listening to what he said, Ban Yeo Ryung flung a question in suspicion.
“What kind of environments or surroundings did you go through?”
Without responding to her question, Lucas just showed a doubtful grin then furthered his explanation.
“So, we’re gonna find a room where Luda seems to be staying then bring him out of there. Done!”
“Isn’t the plan too simple?”
Regardless of me murmuring with slight fear, Ban Yeo Ryung suddenly brought up a new topic.
“Um, there’s something that I’m a little concerned about.”
“What if Yi Ruda wants to stay with his mother? Aren’t we then becoming intruders?”
The look on Lucas’s face turned very enigmatic that I tilted my head in wonder. His following remark caused more uncertainty instead of resolving the lingering doubt.
“You don’t need to worry about that. For Yi Jenny, Yi Ruda is more meaningful as a successor than a son.”
Ban Yeo Ryung asked, “What are you talking about?”
“It’s literally what I’m saying. Do you think Yi Jenny and Yi Ruda look close?”
His question made me quiet for a second. I didn’t have to even recall that day. While we all became speechless while tracing back our memories, Lucas continued, “As you’ve noticed from what he said before, Ruda doesn’t like to take the successor position; therefore, if we tell him that we’re gonna let him out, he’ll actively participate in our plan.”
“And once we get Ruda out of that room, his escape won’t fail at all.”
Jooin, standing beside me, asked back in a slightly sulky voice.
“Then, isn’t it getting more dangerous? Although Ruda hyeong cooperates in our plan, in Yi Jenny’s perspective, Ruda hyeong isn’t just a son but the only successor of her business.”
‘That makes sense too,’ I thought while nodding my head.
Even if there wasn’t any sense of closeness between Yi Ruda and Yi Jenny unlike other normal mother-child relationships, we were still taking away her only successor. In other words, we were stealing her one and only jewel. In this regard, no matter how bad their relationship was, what we were attempting to do was indeed getting more dangerous.
Lucas was, however, still showing a swiveling smile. His following words then made us widen our eyes.
“If that’s what you’re afraid of, no problem since Yi Jenny is a thoroughly meritocratic person.”
“What do you mean?”
While Jooin asked back as if he couldn’t understand Lucas’s remark, Lucas lifted his index finger and put it on his lips. He continued, “Such a meritocratic person wouldn’t choose her successor just because someone was her only son. Don’t you think so?”
Jooin frowned and blurted, “Stop changing the subject.”
“What I’m talking about is that although Yi Ruda is the only successor to Yi Jenny, there are many other replaceable candidates for that position.”
Eh? What the heck was that? Jooin, Ban Yeo Ryung, and I exchanged eye contact simultaneously. Lucas was saying that not only Ruda but also many other candidates were existing for the successor position. Still, it was an incomprehensible story for us, who had lived an ordinary life.
In front of us, who were being wordless, Lucas kept on speaking nonchalantly, “The person must have a talent in martial arts, be smart and dexterous to learn the essential skills for guarding and conducting operations, look decent enough, and behave well to blend well with others. Those are the qualifications Yi Jenny required when choosing the successor candidates.”
Ban Yeo Ryung asked, “Where did those candidates come from? You said that Ruda was the only son.”
“Well, a lot of kids from prominent martial arts families or famous studios were interested in this position, but there were also orphans,” replied Lucas, shrugging his shoulders.
This time, I flung a question, “Orphans?”
“Orphans that Reed Enterprise is patronizing. Of course, Yi Jenny didn’t force them to apply as a candidate, but there were also a lot of kids who thought that they should repay the kindness and the support given by Reed by any means. Besides, becoming a successor wasn’t something bad eventually.”
I squinted my eyes. To become Yi Jenny’s successor, he or she should go through an intense training program and even after the person became the successor, a series of practice was still waiting.
Lucas continued, “Those who were selected as successor candidates stayed at the same building. Each of them was allotted in a room where they ate, washed, and slept. They all equally learned all the skills and techniques required for a successor. And…”
At that part, Lucas’s brows suddenly met in the middle. The three of us observed a slight change on his face with our eyes round open.
That was because Lucas never showed any sign of uncomfortableness on his face although he came to Korea from overseas to find his friend. No matter how fluent his Korean was, this country was still a very unfamiliar place to him. Lucas, however, didn’t look perplexed even when he found out that his friend was caught by his mother due to a very unexpected event. Instead, he planned to get into a club and break into a company building like an overconfident macho.
He also laughed off Jooin or Yeo Ryung’s surly and sharp remarks, but now he suddenly looked sensitive as if something reopened his old wounds. I had never seen Lucas displaying such a look until now.
Looking outside the window for a moment, Lucas detached his lips.
“Oh, so, where was I up to…? Right, I told you about learning the essential skills.”
His voice then turned calm out of the blue. In a relaxed tone, which he used when he broke into our classroom, Lucas kept on speaking.
“And every week, they took a test about using what they learned. The subject of the test was utterly up to Yi Jenny’s choice. Sometimes, they had to compete with their martial arts skills and sometimes use weapons. When it was a day testing how skillful they were upon using weapons or how they adapt themselves to circumstances, they had to confront sudden attack…”
When he finished his words, I felt the strained atmosphere taking place around us. While both Yeo Ryung and I changed our facial expressions, Jooin responded with a slightly pale face.
“So after all that, was Ruda hyeong the final survivor of all the competitions and training courses?”