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The World Ep. Fin: Will Diaries

Updated: Jan 19

Recreated with all credit to the authors at KQ Entertainment


A. INTRO

The scenery at the square has changed considerably from when ATEEZ performed just a few months ago. Sense Offenders graffiti symbolizing 'Wake Up' and 'Be Free' decorates the streets, covered with concealment screens installed by the forces trying to suppress them. The world is divided into the systemized and those outside the system, with each group fighting more intensely to win and stop the other. Unable to identify the faces of all the individual criminals, but having detained the men in black fedoras, the government has moved beyond simply denouncing the Black Pirates as a terrorist group and encouraging people to turn them in - plastered across the city are wanted posters of ATEEZ with the members' faces and government announcements declaring that [Those who attempt to induce emotion will be deemed associates of the Black Pirates and, for the people's safety, executed immediately without being sent to the Disposal Site.]


A car moved across the dilapidated square and stopped in the center. The Guardians that filed out of the car moved in perfect order. With practiced skill, they set up something on the display that had been built in the middle of the square. A rope was lowered, tied, and pulled. Brushing off their hands and taking a step back from the display, the Guardians looked up at what they had installed. Content with their work, they got back in their car. As the Guardians' car disappeared, silence fell over the square. The small sound of footsteps began to break through the silence. Several Sense Offenders that had been hiding in the alley slowly walked out. Some slumped down in their spot, unable to reach the display before bursting into tears. Under the square frame of the display, feet swayed in the air. Sense Offenders that had been someone's family, someone's lover, someone's friend. Following the government's announcement, now, when Sense Offenders are caught drawing graffiti or distributing breakers they are no longer sent to the Disposal Site. Instead, they are swiftly executed, then hung up in the square for everyone to see. It is an exemplary caution and declaration aimed at the ever-growing Sense Offenders who tirelessly try to change the world: If you continue to resist, this could be you.


Rather than fall into silence, the square filled with sobs of sadness and anger. Clinging to those people who had once shone so brightly, all they can do is pledge that they will not let those sacrifices go to waste. We can no longer live in a world like this. We've already lost our loved ones, we cannot afford to lose any more. No longer can we let our children live in a world like this. With the same heart and mind the people cried, determination burning through their red eyes. We must let the Black Pirates and ATEEZ know. We are here.


The raid on Prestige Academy has created a small but significant fissure in this world. That one performance, while strictly censored and kept under tight control, spread by word of mouth and through the Sense Offenders. It gradually split the world into two. And, the story returns back to right after the Prestige Academy raid when the Black Pirates returned to the bunker.


01

Despite the mission being a success, the members gathered in the Black Pirates' bunker with an air of desolation. The boy's brother was asleep in the corner, tired from crying.


"Seong Hwa wasn't taken away by force. I'm sure I saw it, he walked away on his own. But why...?" Yeo Sang answered San's mumbling as if he was wondering himself. "Seong Hwa looked surprised the moment he first saw her in the school restroom. His expression was almost...taken aback? And his face when he grabbed her hand and walked off in the quad, it was like he found someone he missed. That look was so odd I kept thinking about it. It's the same look Seong Hwa gets when he talks about the girl with the 'Be Free' bracelet he was looking for back in our dimension." Dumbfounded, the members shouted at Yeo Sang that that didn't make any sense. Yeo Sang started as if he was about to say something before suddenly looking at the CCTV outside the bunker and pointing, "Oh? It's Seong Hwa!"


"What happened? Did you really follow her of your own accord? Just because she looks like that girl? Tell me that's not it?"


Only then did Seong Hwa realize the members had misunderstood him. The members looked at Seong Hwa, their eyes all filled with disappointment.


"It's not like that."


They avoided his gaze as if they didn't want to hear what he had to say next. Seong Hwa paused and saw the boy's brother lying in the corner behind the members. Seeing him fast asleep with such a tired face, Seong Hwa understood the members' agitation. Calmly steadying his breath, Seong Hwa continued in a serious tone.


"I'll cut to the chase. We can save the boy."


02

One by one, they began to look at Seong Hwa with half-belief, half-doubt. Seong Hwa took a paper out of his inner coat pocket and spread it on the table. It was an unfamiliar map.


"Thunder is a group made up of elite candidates poised to lead this world one day, and an organization like us. A resistance. The girl put a GPS in the boy's pocket before he was taken by the Guardians. We think he was taken to the Disposal Site. And this is a map of it."


They all studied the map on the table. It was far too detailed and specific to be fake.


"The Black Pirates have been around since long ago, so why not just join them? Why go to the trouble of setting up a separate organization called Thunder and secretly working behind the Black Pirates' back? And what makes you believe that Thunder, an elite group among elites, is actually a resistance?" Hong Joong asked, unable to clear his doubts about the girl. Seong Hwa replied with a confident voice, "To find the location of Z, something only the upper class knows." There were short sighs followed by a moment of silence.


Not only Hong Joong, who had just aggressively pressed Seong Hwa with interrogating questions, but all the members' expressions changed visibly.


Z's location was something that for so long had eluded the Black Pirates despite all their efforts. Z only ever contacted the citizens of World Z online through controlled broadcasts of video and audio. Government assistants and lower-ranked officials are stationed widely, sometimes even among ordinary citizens, and while the Black Pirates managed to secure some suspects and coax them through emotion-inducing breakers in an attempt to find Z's hideout, the only information they were able to obtain was that Z resides in the center of the city where this world's top class works and never leaves the building. Those who work in Z's hideout are selected from only the most elite and their access to the outside world is restricted after selection. Since the Android Guardians, known as the Imperial Watch, are not humans with emotions, emotion-inducting devices are useless on them, and thus the group had presumed finding Z's hideouts nearly impossible.


As Prestige Academy is made up of only the most elite, there was a higher possibility that more people there than in any other class would be able to awaken emotion on their own and hide those emotions successfully. Thunder's purpose had evolved into this: Disguised as a government-approved school organization, the group could gather internal information on their world in plain sight, increasing their current safety and probability of success. And above all, to secure information on Z's hideout - information necessary for a revolution.


The control over everything that triggers emotion in this world began with Z, the leader of the pseudo-religious scientific organization called Scienslavar, and the organization's AI simulation for the 'best solution.' They created a political party under the catchphrase "The pursuit of a peaceful world without religious conflict and terror through emotional control." The party grew in size, passed the Emotional Regulation Act, and as a result, Z effectively took control over this world. Under his control, the world's class system solidified and they began disposing of humans deemed 'defective.' Z's hideout, where all political subordinates are gathered, acts as a control tower and is a fundamental place to this world. For this reason, it is a place the Black Pirates needed to eliminate - a place even more symbolically important than Prestige Academy.


While they still weren't sure how much they could trust Thunder, the members were determined in their next goal: going to the Disposal Site and saving the boy, the most urgent issue of the moment.


03

The Head Guardian of the Z Imperial Watch traced the path of blood that flowed to his feet back to the cold face of the principal of Prestige Academy with his eyes. The thought crossed his mind that he too might end up like this one day, but he gazed at the scene without much emotion.


Z. Now that we've set the bait, the Black Pirates will go to the Disposal Site to save the child. Take care that no mistakes like this are repeated at the Disposal Site. Or you'll be the one replaced this time.


"Understood. I'll handle it without problem," replied the Head Guardian in a voice void of emotion.

 

The Head Guardian brought with him over 100 Android Guardians to the Disposal Site. As the entrance closed, a kaleidoscope of blue butterflies fluttered in through the closing door and flew along the path of the Guardians. As the Guardians pass by, Red Humans working at the Disposal Site lower their heads to greet them. In rag-like clothes with skin reddened by the furnace, the appearance of Red Humans is so hideous they now resemble goblins more than people. At a crossroads, the Guardians walk to the left and the butterflies scatter. One of them flutters into a hallway on the right. At the end of that hallway is a row of small rooms blocked by bars. Each room is packed with people, making the space look even tinier than it is. These are people soon to be disposed of and an air of desperation fills the room. They've been marked as defective for harboring feelings or having physically impaired bodies. When the small butterfly suddenly appeared before them, the people sitting there helplessly were unable to take their eyes off it. A few stood up, grasping the bars of the cage to gaze at it fluttering down the hallway. Was it some hallucination brought by hope? The butterfly exited the end of the hallway. In a boiling furnace shooting out hot air, remains of disposed human bodies float to the surface before sinking down again, melting into the incinerator. Red Humans stand on a bridge above and use an unmelting stick to stir. The butterfly looks down at the scene, rising above to an execution platform that connects to yet another hallway. It gently sits on the execution platform as though it were a diving board. The body of the butterfly fluttering its wings a few times looks odd.


Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that it is not a living creature, but an animatronic. And at the end of said animatronic's body, was a camera.


04

"The GPS signal leads here, but why don't I see anything?" Yeo Sang said, operating the butterfly-shaped drone from a van stationed in the darkness of an alleyway near the Disposal Site. The monitor's screen showed the inside of the Disposal Site illuminated by the butterfly drone, and the members gathered to check the inside of the facility against the map they received from Thunder.


"Either way, it shows that his location is somewhere inside. I'm sure we'll find him when we get in. Guardians who aren't part of Z's Imperial Watch don't carry individual weapons. As long as we move swiftly, we have a good chance of winning. But it's imperative we get there before he's disposed of so let's move as planned." The members, nodding at Hong Joong's words, sat down and fastened their seat belts with determined faces. With the sound of a powerful engine starting, the headlights flashed on, illuminating the darkness. Grabbing the steering wheel, Min Gi violently stomped down on the gas pedal and left the alley, racing through the parking lot near the Disposal Site. Speeding forward without hesitation, the van crashed through the parking lot fence, sending it flying onto some cars parked in a row. Beep, beep, beep. Car alarms burst sporadically from each car, and the silent area around the Disposal Site filled with noises in an instant. At the disturbance, the Guardians inside the Disposal Site whipped around. Panicked by the sudden disturbance now of all times, just when the Guardians were visiting, Red Humans rushed outside to the parking lot to recover the situation. As the Red Humans ran out, the members took the opportunity to sneak inside, wrapping chains around the closed door handles and securing them tightly with locks - to prevent the Red Humans from entering again. Running to the hallway on the left, Hong Joong, Yun Ho, Yeo Sang. and Jong Ho were faced with Guardians running toward them. The fighting began as Guardians rushed at them as if they had been waiting for this attack. The four members fought back with weapons prepared by Left Eye, but the other members who were in charge or moving the prisoners to the bunker had the Cromer. Without the Cromer, the physical strength of the members fighting the Guardians was inevitably reduced. As Hong Joong was knocked to the floor by a Guardian's fist, he heard the click of a gun cocking from above his head. The members looked at Hong Joong with uneasy expressions. Yun Ho, Yeo Sang, and Jong Ho could hear guns click above them as well and the members, surrounded by Guardians, carefully stood up, their backs together. Guardians stood around them staring at them with guns pointed.


Meanwhile, Seong Hwa, Min Gi, San, and Woo Young, who were moving the imprisoned people back to the bunker of the Black Pirates, suddenly heard a noise through the closed door and froze. Feeling intuitively that something had gone wrong, Woo Young guided the people shaking in fear inside the bunker. The sounds of shouts and screams were growing closer.


"The Guardians have weapons. Currently, all members are surrounded. We need backup from the Cromer." Jong Ho's soft voice called over the radio.


If the Guardians at the Disposal Site were armed, the members would need the Cromer. But they also couldn't just leave the people they had barely managed to save alone here. Something was definitely going on outside the bunker doors.


San picked up the radio and said, "Trouble on the Pirate Bunker side as well. Hang in there a little longer. We'll be right there."


At the moment, the bunker door burst open. A Pirate member covered in blood hurried and shouted, "The Pirate Bunker's been exposed to the Guardians! We need to evacuate now--"


A beam saber flew in from behind cutting the Pirate member down his back. With a wretched cough, blood spurred out from his mouth and he fell forward. Behind the fallen member, armed with mean sabers, the Guardians stood and looked at the members.


05

"Where the heck did the leak come from?" Woo Young whispered in a low voice, unable to make sense of the situation. For the safety of the bunker we made sure this place was hidden, and hidden well, so just how did the Guardians get a hold of this location? It would be impossible without an inside spy. "Seong Hwa...Please tell me you didn't share the location of the bunker with the Thunder girl, right?" Seong Hwa couldn't answer Min Gi's question.


He had been so sure of the girl's feelings, but that might have been a misjudgment.


"Ahhh!"


A scream was heard over the execution stand. It was the boy's voice. The boy was being held captive by the Guardian. The Head Guardian, his gun aimed at Hong Joong, spoke: "Tell the members with the Cromer to come over here. I'll give you 10 minutes. Or this kid...well you know what'll happen." He set a timer for 10 minutes.


Hong Joong, who had been agonizing over the desolate situation for a while now, picked up his radio and relayed to the members in the bunker, "They're holding the boy hostage. I think all four of you should get over here right now, within 10 minutes."


While the members at the Pirate Bunker knew they needed to quickly solve the situation on their side and head to the Disposal Site, with so many Guardians closing in on them, the fight was unlikely to end easily. Skillfully using the Cromer's spatial movement ability, the members knocked down the Guardians one by one. Then, in just a split second, Seong Hwa was struck in the side by a flying beam saber and fell to the ground. Min Gi ran immediately towards Seong Hwa, trying to take out the Guardian and stop the attacks flying toward his fellow member, but in that same moment, another Guardian struck Min Gi as well. Min Gi and Seong Hwa collapsed, then San and Woo Young followed, coughing up blood on the floor. Having successfully pushed back agains the members, the Guardians's strikes came down on them like bombs.


Many thoughts passed through the minds of Hong Joong, Yun Ho, Yeo Sang, and Jong Ho, as they were dragged helplessly though the Disposal Site to the execution area, and likewise through the minds of Seong Hwa, Min Gi, San, and Woo Young as they were kicked down by Guardians into the bunker floor.


It was as if their lives were flashing before their eyes.


They met the men in the black fedoras and came to this world, and, like it was some kind of fate, ended up carrying on the mission they left behind. Ironically, here in heavily restricted World Z they remembered the dreams and emotions that, under the pressure of reality, they had begun to forget back in World A. And somehow, for someone other than themselves, They ended up running to this point, determined to save these people that had all but resigned themselves to a desolate life in this world. Through many performances they realized just how much impact their songs and dances, which they had considered dull and insignificant, have on people. They were happy to fight alongside the Black Pirates as ATEEZ, but that all ends today.


Just then. With the sound of a zap, a Guardian fell to the floor of the bunker.


06

For a moment, the Guardians' attacks stopped. When Woo Young barely managed to look up, he saw people in ridiculous masks with thin, long sticks flooding into the bunker. The other members were also confused. As they were all wearing the same ridiculous masks making them impossible to identify, the members didn't know whether these people were friends or foes.


When the masked figure standing at the front raised their stick and pulled the handle, a zap of electricity was released. It seemed like some kind of modified electric shocker. The figure swung the stick forward as if wielding a baton and the masked people behind them let out a cry and began running forward. The members, already covered in blood, curled up and closed their eyes tightly, preparing to be struck. Zap, snap, crack. Sounds of electricity were heard sporadically, followed by the thump of something falling to the floor. Bang, bang. The members cautiously opened their eyes to find the masked figures attacking the Guardians, taking them out all at once with electric shock waves. Broken Guardians laid stiff on the floor. The lead masked figure approached the members and stretched out a hand. Seong Hwa took the figure's hand and stood up. Then, Ming Gi, San, and Woo Young also took the hands of the masked people and stood up as well.


"I'll evacuate the people here to somewhere safe. Come here when you're done at the Disposal Site."


The masked figure had a modified voice and handed a note to Seong Hwa before running towards the Guardians still attacking behind the members.


For now, it looked like these masked people were there to help them. And if that was the case, there was no time to linger. They needed to head to the Disposal Site and help the members in trouble. San picked up the Cromer. Flash! Just as the Cromer lit up, the boy's brother, who had been hiding in the corner, also threw himself toward the light.


"Looks like they're not able to come over." The Head Guardian loaded the gun he was aiming at the boy's had. "I assume the rest of the members are in the bunker now? So it's safe to say that not only the Black Pirates, but all the people you rescued and all your members must have been taken care of. The Guardians were already at your bunker before you infiltrated the Disposal Site. I was sure the Black Pirates had all been dealt with, but I gave you 10 minutes just in case to check if any remaining members with the Cromer were left alive. But if they couldn't come here in 10 minutes, that means they're not in the position to help you. Looks like we won't need to wait any longer. Ten minutes is already up anyways."


The number on the Head Guardian's timer was decreasing. 00:03, 00:02, 00:01...The alarm went off loudly as the timer struck 00:00. Just then, when they thought they would lose the boy and all was in vain, Seong Hwa, Min Gi, San, and Woo Young appeared with a flash of light. They quickly appeared in front of the Guardians gathered in the back and disappeared again, repeating this until, before anyone knew it, they had taken all the guns the Guardians were holding and thrown them into the furnace.


Then the Head Guardian, who was holding into the boy, grabbed the boy by his neck, lifting him up with one hand and lowering him close to the furnace.


He shouted, "Do you want me to melt him feet-first like this? Everybody get on your knees!"


The members, who had been fighting the Guardians with their fists, halted their attacks and knelt down one by one. At the Head Guardian's nod, other Guardians restrained the members with rope. Despair fell over the group.


At that moment, another person was watching this scene from behind. The boy's brother, having heard over the radio that the boy was being held hostage, could no longer hide in the bunker, and threw himself behind the members when the Cromer flashed. He watched the situation unfold, holding his breath as he hid. These people who had saved him, these people who had stopped fighting to protect his brother and knelt on the ground - he knew he should step up and help them. Just in case, he took out the portable jackknife he brought for self-defense out of his pocket and held it in his hand. He laid the jackknife down on the floor and pushed it hard toward Yun Ho in the back. The jackknife slide across the floor until it hit Yun Ho's foot and stopped. The slight bump caused Yun Ho to glance at his feet out the corner of his eyes and there was the jackknife. When he looked along the line of the knife back to its source, Yun Ho saw the boy's brother staring back at him. They still had a chance. Slightly relieved, Yun Ho grabbed the jackknife, avoiding the Guardian's surveillance. Careful not to make a sound, he began sawing through the rope tied around him. Then he handed the jackknife to Seong Hwa at his side. Carefully, Seong Hwa began to cut through his own rope.


Having captured all the members and obtained the Cromer, the Head Guardian dropped the boy to the execution stand floor unharmed. The members were relieved that they boy was safe, at least for now. The boy let out a heavy sigh of relief and raised his upper body to look at the Head Guardian.


"Am I done with my role now?"


"As expected of an elite student, your acting was excellent. If all ends in success, Z promised that he would not deal with you brothers as Sense Offenders but, as a special exception, allow you to return to your existing class or higher after refitting your control chips."


The members and the boy's brother, who had overheard the Head Guardian's conversation with the boy, looked back at the boy, confused. As if feeling their gaze, they boy turned his body toward the members. With an innocent, if not frightening, face the boy spoke.


"I'm sorry. It was just so hard to find the Black Pirates' bunker. So I came over hear first and asked for help. It'd be nice if you didn't hide yourselves so well. You wanted to make your group more accessible to the people, didn't you?"


As everyone was looking back to the child with disbelief, Seong Hwa, who just handed over the jackknife to San, pulled from his sleeve the note he received from the masked figure in the bunker. He opened it and saw it was a map, and on that map was written: Thunder.


07

The prisoners rescued from the Disposal Site shuffled into the luggage compartment of a large bus. The masked figure pleaded with the curled-up, hidden people to be patient and closed the door. Then, after looking around to make sure no one was watching, they removed their mask. It was the girl, the leader of Thunder. She took off her work clothes to reveal a school uniform underneath, a uniform that only the most elite students of World Z were allowed to wear.


The other masked people took off their masks and clothes as well. They revealed the same faces the members saw back in the Prestige Academy restroom. The girl fixed her hair and got on the bus.


The bus ran along the road before stopping in front of a checkpoint to the city center. Guardians stopped the bus for a short while. From the exterior of the bus, they saw the faces of people through the bus windows. They were faces and clothing that guaranteed themselves and needed no inspection.


The Guardians tapped the rear of the bus and the vehicle started again. Thanks to their status, the group passed the checkpoint with ease.

 

When his older brother, who had just woken to emotion, panicked in fear at the thought of being disposed of, the boy first tried contacting the Black Pirates through the Black Link, hoping he could find their bunker and ask them for help. But when he was unable to find it, he gave up, leaving only a message on the Black Link and resorted to hiding in the Disposal Site. When my brother's dragged here, I'll save him somehow.


The boy hid all night, but around the time the sun rose, he received a message from none other than his older brother asking why he didn't come back last night, and went home, relieved. Without much thought, the boy turned on his computer to find a message. It had come in via the Black Link. The Black Pirates had seen his message and responded with the rough location of their bunker, along with assurance that if the boy were to call for help from the Black Pirates while in the area, and the monitoring staff determined the situation was all clear, they would help him. It was then that the boy changed his mind.


The fear he felt staying overnight at the Disposal Site and seeing the facility for himself had changed his mind. He ran to the Head Guardian and asked him to make an exception of himself and his older brother, both who had found emotion, if he promised to uncover the location of the Black Pirates' bunker.


Yun Ho and the members, who had believed the boy's desperate plea to save his brother, felt deeply betrayed.


"When I said I didn't need emotions to live in this world, you said something to me. You said that when the fear passed, I'd see a different world! You were right. The faces of people with different facial expressions, the world seen through the window now that the screens have been removed, and the feeling of seeing myself in the mirror for the first time. You must know it all even better than me, you woke to emotion first."


"Brother..."


Seeing his brother criticize his choice, the boy was shaken.


"When I thought I had to die, when I almost died, these people were the ones who saved me. How can you do this to them after seeing all that with your own eyes?"


"I didn't have a choice. If I wanted to live and save you too."


"It might have been different if I had never known, but now that I know emotion, I can't go back to how I was before anymore. It's okay to make a wrong choice. It's okay to make mistakes. You can turn it around. You just have to make the right choice next time. Come here. That side's not right."


For a moment, the boy looked down at the Head Guardian's foot beside him and turned to look at his brother, whose hand was stretched out to him. When the younger boy didn't budge, the older brother moved slowly toward him. They boy looked at the members with a sad face. Yes, everyone lives by making mistakes. Depending on whether you choose to turn it around at the next opportunity or cover up your mistakes with more wrong choices can make all the difference in one's life. The members knew it better than anyone else. They looked at the boy, hoping in earnest that he would make the right choice that would erase their feelings of betrayal. The boy, whose eyes were shaking violently, moved to approach his brother as if he had made a decision. The Head Guardian moved his head and the Guardians standing behind him sprung to catch the boy's brother. All the while, Yeo Sang, who had freed his legs from the ropes, secretly positioned himself to trip the Guardians. The Guardians feel forward, tangled among themselves, and the boy's brother quickly ran to the boy, avoiding them. Just before their hands could reach, with a snap, the Head Guardian grabbed the boy by the back of his collar. Before the members could do anything, the Heads Guardian kicked the boy's brother, sending him falling below the execution platform.


"No! Brother!"


The boy bit down on the Head Guardian's arm and jumped under the execution platform to where his brother fell. At the same time, the members, moving their free limbs, pushed the Guardians into the furnace. Min Gi started the Cromer.


Min Gi, appearing in the air above the furnace and below the execution platform, had to make a lot of judgements in just that short moment. Could he save both the boy and his brother, and if he could only save one, who? Just as Min Gi reached out to the boy's brother below him, the boy's brother's lower body slipped into the furnace. The boy's brother closed his eyes as if telling Min Gi to go save his younger brother. With a sorrowful heart, Min Gi turned his head and snatched the boy falling from above. The boy looked at his brother, who was sucked into the furnace and screamed.


Min Gi put the boy down in a safe place and using the Cromer ran to the members who were in the midst of a fight with the Guardians. The members, full of anguish from having watched the boy's brother fall into the furnace, threw the few remaining Guardians into the incinerator. The boy looked at the furnace, stunned. At the very furnace that had devoured his brother in only an instant. His choice has made a mess of everything. Tears poured from his eyes.


The boy's tears fell and evaporated on the surface.


Now only the Head Guardian was left. Just as the Head Guardian chased after Hong Joong, who was holding the Cromer..."Die!!!" The boy ran toward the Head Guardian from behind at full speed. Using that momentum, he grabbed the Head Guardian, carrying the two of them off of the execution platform.


Hong Joong tried with one arm to hold onto the boy, but it was not enough. For an instant, Hong Joong's gaze met the boy's eyes stained with tears.


The boy mouthed to Hong Joong quietly, "I'm sorry."


Dragged down by the boy, the Head Guardian fell into the furnace. Hong Joong had no choice but to sit back and look down at the surface of the furnace in despair.


Then, the building shook with a distant bang. Seong Hwa checked the time. "I know how you feel, but...We need to get out of here first. The bomb's about to go off."


"We should go, too." San picked up the Cromer. As the flash of the Cromer spread inside the Disposal Site, a series of bombs went off. A blue butterfly sitting still on the side of the execution stand emitted a red light and burst apart. Blue butterflies that had been located throughout the building burst and in an instant the Disposal Site collapsed. Remains of the building fell in the boiling furnace as the Disposal Site sank to the floor.


08

There was a garden in front of Thunder's main base. In it, two similar looking trees were planted. The ATEEZ members dressed in black suits, the Black Pirates, and Thunder members bowed silently in front of the two trees. Behind the trees, which resembled the two brothers, were other flowers and trees bearing the names of the Black Pirate members lost in the flight "I will not let your sacrifices be in vain. I promise."


It may have been Yeo Sang's words, but it was also everyone's will. Fireflies glittered over the heads of the grieving people. As if in response to everyone's hearts, the fireflies circled over the people's heads once more before climbing high up into the sky. The fireflies seemed just like stars to the people, and so they looked at them for a long time. Like they were making a wish on a star.


This place, a small village in a lush, grassy forest far away from the government's surveillance, was the place where the Grimes siblings first met long ago. According to the girl, the leader of Thunder, one day, by chance, she came across the Grimes siblings singing on the street and for the first time in her life, she understood "beauty." While the raw emotion she had only ever understood in her mind before felt unfamiliar at first, as time passed, she realized the truth that something essential had been taken from humanity.


"Did you realize that while you were attending Prestige Academy?" She stopped for a moment, lost in thought, as she showed Seong Hwa around the village.


"At the time, I had already been chosen as an excellent talent and was a member of Thunder. I was also already selected as the next group leader."


Exceptionally smart, she flawlessly acted the part of an elite student to avoid any suspicion that she was an impure person. And on the day that Thunder received Z's achievement award, she made a resolution.


"Only a limited number of people ever met Z. Maybe if I were to become the head of Thunder, and enter society with such a career, someday I would meet the ever-elusive Z. At least that's what I wanted to think..."


She turned her head and looked into Seong Hwa's eyes.


"I want to live in a world where I can enjoy beauty."


Behind her resolute gaze, he felt a strong sense of determination and belief. Suddenly, he remembered the girl back in World A and felt his heart beat loudly. Worried that she might hear it too, Seogn Hwa avoided her gaze and walked forward. She followed Seong Hwa quietly.


World A and World Z. These two worlds seem very different, but they felt somehow connected. The men with the black fedora's who look just like themselves. They were men who, just like the members from World A - even if we were only dreaming - danced and sang to evoke happiness in people. While we may seem like totally different, we are in fact the same. The same was true of the girl. The girl with the Be Free bracelet danced freely with no care or worry as to how she looked to other people. Seong Hwa, mesmerized by the beauty, saw himself in her and from that day on, started to walk a new path free from restricting rules and principles. The Thunder girl, she reminds me of the girl from our world. And she reminds me of myself, Seong Hwa thought. Moved by the feeling of beauty stirred within her after listening to the songs of the Grimes siblings, she started on a new path away from the principles and rules of this world. The moment he first saw her at Prestige Academy, behind the girl's cold exterior, Seong Hwa had clearly felt that heart - that very yearning for beauty.


"Since becoming the leader of Thunder, no students were branded as Sense Offenders or sent to the Disposal Site. I would always just intimidate with empty words like the time I first saw you in the restroom." As she said that, she laughed softly.


"What about the other Thunder members? Did you all come to an agreement?"


"I carefully approached anyone I thought was experiencing emotion. Because it's dangerous. Anyway, while that was happening, I came into contact with some people who knew the Grimes siblings. After the siblings had their souls taken away at the Guardian's bunker, groups of people who knew the siblings or were awakened thanks to them, gathered to hold a funeral. And we decided to build our base here in this place where the siblings once hid. Through all this, I also learned about the existence of the Black Pirates and heard stories about ATEEZ. I really wanted to contact you, but we, a smaller group than you, had to move more carefully. But I didn't expect to see you at the school."


People passed the Seong Hwa and the girl. Thunder and a group of Black Pirates were pitching in carrying food to the people they had rescued from the Disposal Site. "I thought the Black Pirates were fighting alone, but I'm glad Thunder's here too. Just like how we didn't know about Thunder, maybe there are a lot of other people in the world who think the same as us. They could be fighting alongside us right now." Seong Hwa's reflection on Thunder's existence giving him strength resonated with the girl's heart. Did I make the wrong choice? A small whisper of doubt had always existed hidden deep in her heart, but Seong Hwa's words changed that worry into conviction. Conviction that she had made the right choice.


Z. OUTRO

After ATEEZ and the Black Pirates' surprise performance - labeled terrorism by the government - at Prestige Academy, the institute was temporarily closed down as the ruined curtains were discarded and mirrors removed. The building was remodeled as a panopticon structure with a surveillance tower in the center to help strengthen overall control. The students were transferred to nearby schools according to their grades, and Thunder's leader was moved to a distinguished school of similar level with Prestige Academy. Having passed the emotion detection test - with the help of a present from Left Eye, a device that keeps one's heart rate steady - and completing the remainder of her exams with top marks, the girl successfully graduated without a problem.


As she was by far the most superior candidate, she was picked up by the government and appointed as Z's protocol manager. On her first day of work, the girl, who had until that point maintained her composure so well, began to tremble at the thought of finally reaching her goal. This was a place sensitive to outside intrusion, if her cover was blow here she would be shot on the spot. Looking in the mirror, she cleared her head and took a deep breath. 'It's okay. You've done fine so far.' she said, looking at herself in the mirror.


The Guardians came to pick her up in front of her house and the girl followed them out and into their car. 'Just where is his hiding place...It must be in a difficult place to find,' she thought to herself as she chased the scenery outside the car window with her eyes. She memorized the way looking at the surrounding buildings and signs, knowing she would have to describe it accurately and in detail. 'Why are we going her?' The car ran along a familiar road headed for the city square. She didn't expect Z's office to be this close. They headed into the underground parking lot of the tall central bank building in the middle of the city square and entered a private space marked "Authorized Personnel Only. All others are prohibited from entering." They stopped between the walls that hid the surrounding space. The girl got out of the car and entered a hidden corridor, following the Guardians. They took an elevator in the middle of the hallway. The Guardian pressed the button to the penthouse and the elevator rushed up at a high speed. Ding! With a clear bell, the elevator door opened, and the girl walked along the long corridor feeling as if she had come to another world. The sound of the Guardian's footsteps and her own footsteps echoed in the cave-like space. After passing through the hallway through a checkpoint searching for dangerous items such as guns and knives, they walked along a long hallway again. Though the windows on both sides, she saw people working in each room. They looked like fish trapped in an aquarium. After passing through the corridor and reaching the end, she was met with a large door. As if it had been wacthing her, the large door opened as soon as she stopped before it. The refined office on the other side felt suffocating in contrast to its enormous size. All the walls of the room were glass. Charged energy molecules lined the room.


Upon first hiring an office worker to his team, Z always inspected the people with his own eyes. That was the real final test. Only after passing the test, were they able to receive their ID card that served as a pass - the pass, which is required to be worn by everyone in the office, also functions as a monitor complete with camera and audio.


Z. Which of these many molecules is yours?


He questioned her, sitting across a high-backed chair. This must be Z. She swallowed, careful not to make a sound.


"I don't quite understand what you mean."


Energy molecules shone beyond the glass wall. They were particles of emotional energy linked to the chip in one's ear. At one point, the light emitted by them was even more intense, but as the Sense Offenders' protests intensified, the energy of those who had turned against the government disappeared, making the light weaker.


Z turned his chair and looked at her. She gazed at him with resolute eyes. Slowly raising from his chair, Z walked toward her with a dim smile on his face as if the final test had already begun.


Z. You were looking around outside the car. And then in the hallway. And now at the molecules that are beyond this glass wall, you're looking at them with curiosity. Curiosity is also an emotion. Curiosity is dangerous, you know.


Z grabbed her chin with one hand. He studied her expression, moving her face in his hand.


Z. Would your molecule be here? Or...Is it already gone?


Oh, the road here was already the test. Don't tell me that all our plans have failed? Is this how I die? She felt her blood run cold with fear. But it was still too early to judge. The fact that Z asked a question means that the results are still inconclusive. I have to keep my composure. I must not be caught.


"What is 'Curiosity'?"


In response to the girls answer, Z took his hand off her chin as if he was amused by her retort. He waited, looking at her mouth as if to see if she would keep talking.


"That was not an emotion, but a thought. I was looking at the structure to figure out where I'm going to work. My molecule is here, of course. Feel free to check for it now, if you must."


Z ordered the Guardian with his eyes. The Guardian checked the chip next to the girl's ear to see if it worked. There was no reason for her to be shaken. A long time ago, when her chip lost its light due to emotional awakening, she discovered her own way to avoid being caught at school. She manipulated the chip to turn on and control her emotions right at the moment she wanted and turn off releasing her emotions at the moment when she didn't need it. The chip responded to the Guardian's hand and emitted and yellowish glow. Only then did Z smile with satisfaction.


Z. So what do you think of the Sense Offenders?


She answered with a cold face, "They are unnecessary impurities."


FIN.

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