Chan felt Jeongin shaking him with small but powerful pushes. The sky was still dark. He looked at the glowing arms of the watch. 2am in the morning.
"What's the matter...?"
"Someone's outside our tent."
He motioned Jeongin to remain silent, only to hear a groan from beside him.
"...Cover up Hyunjin's mouth, thanks." He whispered.
He heard Jeongin shuffling to Hyunjin's place and clamped the sleep-talker's mouth.
This time, he didn't hear anything.
"I'm going to take a look. Stay here."
"Be careful." Jeongin whispered back.
Chan crawled outside and remained crouched. He didn't see or hear anything.
It's probably Jeongin's imagination, he thought.
Just when he was about to return to the tent, someone tripped him over and locked him on the ground by grabbing his neck, swift but smooth and quiet moves.
"Keep your voice low and we'll talk." The owner of the voice is just as quiet.
"Who are you?"
"...You can refer us to pirates if you want." He replied.
Chan mentally cursed. It's their fault for settling down near the abandoned pier.
"'Us'? So there's more of you?"
"I'd say the same to you."
Chan hissed. He knew about the others in the tent.
"We won't hurt you or your companions if you come with me peacefully."
"Says the one who is locking me on the ground."
"You're not hurt. Stop complaining."
"I want you to tell me why you'd like us to come first."
"We will explain to you once you come with us."
This guy is hard to break, Chan thought.
"How would I know you wouldn't kill us the instant we stepped onto your ground?"
He can hear the intruder's annoyed sigh.
"If you see their real personalities you would wonder how are they even able to hurt a fly. Just come."
The intruder yanked Chan up without any warning and said, "You are going to tell your companions to come nicely, or then your fear will come true. Got it?"
"Can you at least not pulling my hair? I don't want to scare the only awake one here."
The intruder remained still for a while before slowly letting go.
"You make one funny move, people will find all of your bodies here."
No one's ever gonna come here, Chan thought, but he didn't speak that out loud.
Instead, he calmly crawled back in the tent, seeing that Minho is also awake for some reason.
"What happened?" He asked, "I heard some...aggressive hissing."
"We need to follow a suspicious guy. It's not like we have a choice."
"Are we gonna die?" The youngest asked nervously.
"Probably not." Chan shrugged, "We're gonna wake up Woojin and Seungmin, then carry the rest of them."
"4 people can't carry 5." Minho said.
"We're making that guy outside help us." Chan huffed.
"...Do I look like I can carry a person?"
"But you managed to lock me on the ground." Chan reasoned.
"I picked the moment when you let your guard down. It's easier than you thought." The intruder said, taking something out of his pocket, "Now shut up."
"Jongho, get your ass here at once."
"What position are you in to order me?"
"Fine, I will tell Hongjoong hyung or Seonghwa hyung what happened and they will order you to do it."
"Yes, yes, yes, I will come here, you baby."
The intruder didn't intend to talk to Chan and his friends at all, and the ten of them remained silent until footsteps arrived 5 minutes later.
"Why do you need me here?"
The first intruder pointed to Hyunjin, who was still sleeping on the ground. "Pick him up."
The second intruder, apparently named Jongho, groaned while throwing Hyunjin onto his own back, "You really need to train more, hyung."
"I use my brain, thanks." He retorted, then turned back to Chan, "Now come."
It took another 5 minutes for the 9 to see a large ship - almost like a cruise ship, but most of the lights were turned off.
"Up," The unnamed intruder urged them in, "Jongho, bring them to Hongjoong hyung."
"Fine." Jongho agreed unwillingly, "Follow me. I don't want to knock out all of you."
Chapter 2: The End of the Beginning
Jongho was humming when he was bringing the 9 to the Hongjoong guy. Chan decided that he's probably easier to talk with comparing with the first intruder.
"Why do we need to come here?"
"You will know when you see Hongjoong hyung." Jongho simply replied.
"And who's this Hongjoong?"
"Our leader, duh." Jongho stopped humming, "If you are trying to get info from me, give up - I mean, you can ask as much as you wish when you see Hongjoong hyung."
Nevermind, he's just as hard to crack.
"Oh, 5 of you are still sleeping so, maybe I should give a room to you first?" Jongho suddenly mumbled, then took out his walkie-talkie.
"Hyung, should I show them their room first?"
A few moments of silent.
"Probably," Chan recognized the voice as the first intruder, "Hongjoong hyung doesn't like that many people at once anyway, so just bring 2."
"'Kay." Jongho turned to them, "We'll go to another place first."
He made a U-turn, went back to where the stepped on the ship, and went upstairs quickly. All while carrying Hyunjin on his back. Even Chan and Woojin had difficulties in following him closely.
"Sorry but can you slow down?"
"You were able to follow me anyways so no." Jongho replied, "Also we arrived."
Chan could hear Minho snorting. He could tell Jongho also heard it, but the kid ignored Minho and dumped Hyunjin onto one of the mattresses in the...very huge room. It was almost 5 times the size of their tent, which was already able to hold the 9 of them with a little more space.
"Okay, put down the sleeping beauties and just get 2 following me."
"Jeongin, you are definitely staying," Chan said instantly, and the youngest nodded eagerly - he didn't want to see the "pirate leader" anyway, "Minho, Woojin, who wants to come together?"
"I can," Minho replied, "Woojin hyung take care of the others more well than I do."
"Yeah, leave them to me and Jeongin. You two can go in peace." Woojin agreed.
"I can see you made up your minds. Please come. Hongjoong hyung doesn't like waiting."
Jongho lead them to the original path and went up another flight of staircases. He knocked on the door at the end of the stairs, which probably led to somewhere like the control room.
"Come in," The person inside said. He sounded a lot younger than Chan and Minho imagined.
Jongho opened the door and motioned the two to follow him in.
"Sorry, hyung. Half of their companions were still aslept so I brought them to their room first." Jongho reported to Hongjoong as Chan and Minho gaped at how large and modern the control room was. "There are a total of 9 of them, but since you don't really unknown crowds so much I only brought 2 of them here."
"Got it," Hongjoong waved his hand, "It's none of your business now. Let me talk to them in private."
"As you wish."
Jongho swiftly left and shut the door, and Hongjoong finally turned around to face the duo.
His face was nothing like what they had imagined. He was young (probably even younger than Chan, he guessed), but the aura he radiated was indeed powerful enough for Chan and Minho to keep silent.
"So? You don't have anything to ask me?"
"Why did you basically kidnap us here?" Minho went straight to the point before Chan could even try to find a less offensive way in order not to offend the leader.
Fortunately for them, Hongjoong didn't seem to mind the harsh words.
"It would be a long story. Do you mind hearing me out?"
The two shake their heads.
"Good. Oh, but still, take a seat wherever you want. Just don't touch the panels." Hongjoong offered, and the two carefully sat down on the floor. "Here is what happened before we ended up here."
"Hyung, do you believe in a perfect society?"
Hongjoong looked up from his laptop. Yeosang's question took him off guard.
"Yes...? Why do you ask?"
"Don't you think it's weird? There are so many fictions on utopias, but they all ended up as dystopias. It's almost like they are telling us that they don't exist." Yeosang said, "Plus, I haven't heard of a single country where all people are happy."
Yeosang was quite right, and Hongjoong couldn't think of a reasonable argument.
"What are you guys talking about?"
"Jongho, you need to stop eavesdropping on any conversation involving Yeosang," Hongjoong grunted, "We're discussing about a philosophical topic."
"Hardly a discussion, hyung. You haven't talked back to me." Yeosang retorted.
"First of all, if I were eavesdropping I wouldn't have asked you what were you talking about." Jongho also retorted, "Anyway, what topic?"
"Whether utopias exist."
"Why don't they?"
"This is the first time I see you and Yeosang have different opinions."
"Do we?" Jongho shrugged, "So Yeosang doesn't believe in them?"
"Don't twist my words, hyung." Yeosang huffed, "I was only rasing doubts on whether they truly exist or not, theoretically. I wish they exist, but there are a lot of suspicious points."
"From his words, for example, there are hardly any utopian fictions with happy endings, and so far none exists." Hongjoong finished.
"What if it's just because there are too many people?" Jongho suggested. "Say, if you take care of an entire field of flowers, a lot of them may not be able to grow up. But if you just take care of a few pots of flowers, most of them can bloom. And that's the same with humans. That's my theory."
"No, Jongho, you're probably right." Hongjoong felt somewhere in his brain clicked, "If utopia doesn't exist, we're creating one."
"Okay, I get your goal," Minho frowned, "But I still have many questions. For one, how the hell do you get this ship? Are there only 3 of you? Most importantly, why do you need us?"
"One by one." Hongjoong said slowly, "We bought this ship legally. One of us is a rich kid, and there are 8 of us."
"And the last question?" Chan pressed.
"We stopped by a place every night, because we haven't been able to find a way to create neccessities by ourselves yet. This night, we arrived here and Yeosang was planning to buy some food, but then they saw your tent." Hongjoong explained, "He thought you were some kind of stray kids or something-"
"We are." Chan interrupted. "We are straying. The place we were at was our base."
"And no one ever approached you?"
"This pier you are at is abandoned. No one even bother coming through."
Silence fell among them, and it was Hongjoong who broke it.
"I would very much like to hear your story. Before that, let me invite you once again," His eyes were sincere, "We are now off to create our own utopia. Will you join us?"
Chan and Minho looked at each other. Chan could see the glint in the latter's eyes.
He turned to Hongjoong.
"Yes, we will."
Chapter 3: Questions
Jongho continued humming as he returned to his shared room with their gang.
"Update?" Yeosang asked as soon as the youngest closed the door.
"The sleeping ones are still sleeping, two of the others are meeting Joong hyung." Jongho replied, "One of them being the one you slammed onto the ground. Also, the two awoke people who aren't seeing hyung right now are called Woojin and Jeongin, apparently. Do we need to check on them again?"
"Rather than check them up, we should clean up their room. I doubt it's in good condition." Seonghwa suggested, and earned a look of disdain from San, "We don't even know if they're allowed to stay."
"Who are those people, anyway?" Wooyoung voiced out his confusion, "Why are you so pressed in bringing them in?"
"We don't know if they saw us, and if they did, they probably won't let us go," Yeosang grunted.
"What if they aren't any dangerous people? Do we let them go?" Wooyoung asked again.
"That's up to Hongjoong hyung to decide." Jongho said.
Woojin sighed at Jeongin who kept on walking back and forth.
"Jeongin, you won't accomplish anything if you just continue walking and being nervous but not doing anything practical."
Jeongin glared at the oldest. "Aren't you even the slighest bit nervous? What if that guy was mad at us and killed Channie hyung and Minho hyung-"
"No, not really. Chan is strong. And once Minho felt threatened he'd probably become more dangerous than we can ever imagine." Woojin replied nonchalantly, "Also keep your voice low."
"Sorry," Jeongin immediately spoke more softly, but he's still not convinced. "But you see that guy who brought us to this room right? He's carrying Hyunjin the whole time, nearly sprinting, went up the stairs and didn't even sweat a bit."
"That's just one person."
"You two are noisy - where is this place?"
Seungmin was the only one waken up by the two talking, unsurprisingly, and of course he had no idea what happened.
"Long story short, we got half kidnapped." Woojin said.
"What do you mean half kidnapped?"
"Some unknown guys forced us to come with them, but they weren't using any violence. Well, except maybe one person who used some tricks to lock Chan onto the ground."
"Wow," Seungmin looked excited for some reason, "Can I use that on Changbin hyung?"
"If you wanna get killed by Minho, sure you can."
Seungmin huffed in annoyance, before looking around the room for once. "But seriously, what's this place? It's enormous."
He got a shrug from Woojin as a response. "Yeah. It doesn't feel like a room for hostages."
"Because we're not."
The door was already open to reveal Chan and Minho who just came back. "We've made a deal. Oh, and you're awake, Seungmin"
"What deal? With the demon?"
"Is Jeongin okay?" Chan looked at Woojin with a concerned face after hearing the ridiculous question from the youngest of the bunch, but Woojin just returned him a look which clearly said "he's just being dumb".
"That guy's surprisingly nice." Minho ignored the exchange between Woojin and Chan, "And all he did was telling us why they ended up here and asked if we want to go with them on a quest. A quest to create a utopia, he said."
The others fall silent.
"We know that it doesn't exist, don't we?" Seungmin asked quietly. "That's why we settled down near the abandoned pier, where no one bothers us and we support our own lives in peace."
"That is exactly what they were trying to do." Chan explained. "We were already living in our own utopia, but they were trying to have slightly more people, and we would be living in an actual tiny town and not in some ragged old tent."
"But it's cozy enough," Jeongin mumbled.
"Why exactly did you agree?" Woojin also looked complicated.
"I don't know how exactly I can word this..." Chan scratched his hair, "Like, sure, our current lives are what we have desired all along...but it's not enough. What we are doing is achievable at home, even, if not for the authorities back in the capital, but this guy - this team - they are actually trying to build up a functioning society, abeit a very tiny one. The spirit is really dazzling. To me, at least."
"Plus, you really need to see their leader in person." Minho added, "He has this aura of natural leadership. He has to be different from authorities."
The other three still seemed to be a bit skeptical about the situation, but Woojin finally decidede that they should stay and observe the situation. If anything happens, they can just escape.
They've done this so many times already.
"Wait, we should fetch out stuff back first." Seungmin suddenly voiced, "A lot of things are still in the tent."
"I want to get that tent back too." Jeongin nodded, "Memories."
"Shit, I don't know where to find any of them-"
The door opened to reveal the first guy they met, who Minho and Chan already learned from Hongjoong, named Yeosang.
He had a staring contest with the awoke five for a few seconds before speaking, "What are you guys doing?"
"We should ask you. What are you doing here?" Minho asked. "Yeosang, right?"
Yeosang looked genuinely surprised before regaining his usual composure, "Hongjoong told you a lot, it seems like. And, he just told me that you will be staying, so I was just coming to ask if any three of you'd like to come with me, because I still need to get supplies and I suppose you'd like to clear that tent."
"Yes, we do want to get back our things."
"I also suck with handling too many people so just get at most three of you here." Yeosang said.
"Seungmin, are you awake enough to come out?" Minho turned to him, "I still want Woojin to take care of the sleeping ones and Innie."
"So, you three?" Yeosang confirmed, and Chan nodded, "There's one problem though. The closest store which sells food is already inside the capital, and we...are kinda fugitives."
Yeosang again looked genuinely surprised, and it took a him a few seconds to register the information, "You mean, you were wanted?"
"Kinda. It's not like we did anything dangerous, though, it's just...the authorities."
"...If Hongjoong hyung trusts you, I will also trust you for now, but you better explain that tomorrow." Yeosang said before ativating his walkie-talkie again, "Jongho, we may or may not need some fighting on the way. You need to come again."