Dilettante – Chapter 5

Translator: Beli

Editor: Shy


 

June 22nd 13:56:00

Tae-joon went outside for a while, packed up the food, and came back. The menu was mild stir-fried chicken and sunny-side-up egg with rice.

“Just eat first. I’ll…send the data to you soon. But, I really don’t know. I’ll be in big trouble if the higher-ups find out. You know this, right?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Hana set the takeout on the table. She had no appetite. Even on the plane, though she’d tried her best to eat, she couldn’t stomach anything because of how nauseous she felt.

Due to this, the food would not be touched until it cooled down.

“Hana.”

“Yeah?”

“About Dewey… I wish he were alive, too.” (TL: Dewey is her brother’s name. Previously mistranslated.)

“Are you trying to give me false hope?”

“It’s not like that. It’s just that… I’ll help you with whatever you need. I’m tied to the organization, so I’m afraid to make a move. That’s right, I’m scared. So… you have to do it. If Dewey is still alive, you have to be the one to find him.”

Tae-joon watched Hana’s expression in silence, with a look that gave the feeling that he had turned a new leaf, and then told her to eat before going out.

The forlornness that followed after was more dangerous than she had expected.

Hana hurriedly connected the flip phone to the charger and checked the power. The battery level and signal weren’t bad. Rather, the signal was better than in Korea.

Then, she turned on the TV, turning up the volume intentionally, and looked around with a calm expression.

Dewey Lee was someone who hated to be disorganized. Even though he seemed to be well organized overall, some mistakes were found in several places.

The biggest mistake was the alignment of the beverages in the refrigerator. Although they were arranged neatly, the labels were facing different directions.

Which meant it was hastily filled or organized by someone else. In addition, the hangers in the closet were facing different directions.

And just two of them.

While these things may have gone unnoticed by ordinary people, anyone who knew about Dewey Lee’s obsessive-compulsive disorder would consider this strange.

Hana turned up the volume even more and started searching the house.

Dewey would have a few things prepared for unexpected situations during a dangerous mission. That’s what she needed the most now.

Hana scoured the house, checking under the sofa and around the headboard before she found a glock and a revolver in the first drawer above the sink

Interestingly enough, the bullets were found in the oven.

‘An oven? Dewey doesn’t even know how to make ramen.’ 

The effort was admirable, but Dewey still had a long way to go.

“I’m sure there’s more…”

There definitely had to be more.

Hana pulled down her hat and closed the curtains. Beyond the narrow gap, she could see Tae-joon tapping the ash off his cigarette.

She didn’t fully believe Choi Tae-joon yet. While Choi Tae-joon was the only witness, his words weren’t convincing enough, so she couldn’t trust his words completely.

After searching through the house, Hana had a sudden surge of fatigue and laid on the bed for a while. Since the bedding was arranged neatly, it appeared that he hadn’t been home for a long time.

With an arm behind her head, she gazed at the unusually white ceiling absent-mindedly until the lamp next to the bed caught her eye.

The problem was it looked very familiar.

Before switching the lamp off, Hana scanned the entire bedroom with bated breath.

Thick blackout curtains. White ceilings. And…a mini projector.

Her heart began to race.

Instead of a light bulb, the lamp had a mini projector installed, which was completely hidden beneath the lampshade. Yet, it looked ordinary and functioned the same way.

Hana positioned the lamp a bit closer and pressed the switch.

Flick.

The light was now directed at the ceiling.

Dewey had been using the white ceiling as a screen to view the files of the investigation he had been conducting here.

“Ha… Crazy bastard.”

Organized in an easily accessible manner, were the records, along with a digital photo collage of criminals she personally recognized.

The screen changed each time she pressed the switch like a PowerPoint slideshow. Apparently, Dewey Lee always checked the data before going to sleep.

She had also learned this method while working at PMC.

It was a way to view the full breakdown of a case without being detected. This method was used frequently relocating during missions or anytime it was difficult to access intelligence.

When Hana realized the red lines on the chart had drawn a connection to a cartel, she let out a hollow laugh while fighting the urge to cry.

It was just as Choi Tae-joon stated, Dewey was chasing after the Sicilian Mafia and the Russian Red Mafia.

However, the data gave her the impression that he was only tracking their movements, rather than exposing their crimes.

A year and a half ago, a general hospital in the middle of New York City was bombed. It was rumored to have been a power struggle within a huge drug cartel. The United States, which had declared war against crime, later shot and killed David Mayer (aka “King”), as if they had been waiting for the opportunity.

Kevin Smith, an FBI agent recognized for his work on the case, was paralyzed in one leg as a result of the incident, but is now…

“Retired?”

Next to the photo and name of Kevin Smith, a picture of three stood out. To be exact, pictures of Yuri Petrov with a husky Giulio Parenti, whose pictures looked as if they had been taken directly from a GQ magazine.

Both were mafias, but one was Russian and the other was Italian.

It would seem suspicious and strange to clueless outsiders if they saw the chart as well.

FBI, Mafia. And a Korean.

With her eyes narrowed, she fixed her eyes on the other one’s name.

“Kang Moo-jin. Who is that?”

It seemed to be the most recent data, but the content about Kang Moo-jin was close to nothing. Nevertheless, there was a red line connecting Kang Moo-jin to Giulio Parenti.

Which meant a cartel had been formed or they were mutually cooperative.

Ding dong—

Preoccupied with her thoughts, Hana was startled by the sound of the doorbell. She turned off the screen and left the bedroom. With the glock in hand, she approached the front door and checked the visitor through the peephole.

A man, who appeared to be a local, waved an envelope in front of the peephole. Then he spoke in inarticulate English.

“I have a message for Mr. Choi.”

 


 

Hana plugged a USB flash drive into her laptop.

Most of the data she received Choi Tae-joon were paper copies, but the CCTV footage was on a USB.

Wearing earphones, she sat at the table and took out the packaged food. Fortunately, the food was still warm and her appetite had returned.

The surveillance footage was a collection of clips from a dash cam. It was not the original footage, which would have left any possible important clues intact.

That gave her reason to be even more doubtful.

She immediately called Tae-joon.

“What about the original?”

[I can’t get the original. By the time you were contacted about his death, the investigation had been completed. The report is sealed so I can’t touch it anymore.]

“Have there been any revisions to the data you sent?”

[You’re suspecting me?! Why would I send a revised version?]

“I’m sorry if I made you feel bad. The food tastes good. Thank you.”

Tae-joon sighed and continued.

[I’ll send you tea tomorrow morning. Are you planning to go to the accident site?]

Hana contemplated her response while chewing.

She still felt unsure about Choi Tae-joon. It was impossible to determine whether he was really helping or was just somebody else’s accomplice.

“Let me check the data first. Just send me the coordinates for the location of the accident. I’ll go by myself.”

[The security is so bad, if you go there alon-… Oh, I forgot that you’re Lee Hana for a second. Sorry.]

Hana smirked and paused at a scene where Dewey appeared.

“I’ll call you later. Thank you.”

[The higher-ups will know that you’re here.]

“I suppose so.”

[So be careful. Some boomers might think you’re barking up the wrong tree.]

“Alright, I get it.”

[Do you… have any reason to believe Dewey might be alive?]

“I just have a gut feeling. We’re twins. I just need to make sure. I think that’s the only way I will be able to accept it.”

[Alright. Just get some rest for now.]

After the phone call, she stared at the laptop screen and pushed herself to eat the food.

Even though she felt like puking, she had to eat so she would have the energy to get moving and meet Dewey alive.

In the video, Dewey was entering a dilapidated building. Wearing an ordinary shirt, pants, and glasses, he looked like a typical foreign exchange student.

Since he had fair skin for a man, he could also be seen as a tourist.

After looking back at the vehicle once, Dewey nodded.

An hour after Dewey entered the building, someone came out and walked towards the back of the building.

The man, who was wearing a blue baseball cap, seemed to be injured because his gait was a little off. Then, as Choi Tae-joon said, Dewey came out, wearing what appeared to be a bomb vest, with both hands on his head. It seemed like he was being held hostage.

But Dewey never made eye contact with the camera.

Wasn’t that strange?

Before heading in, he made it a point to make eye contact… No, maybe he didn’t want to alert the other party. Perhaps he was trying to avoid putting Choi Tae-joon in danger.

She recalled the entire screen, frame by frame, in her head.

Dewey was alone. His lips moved while staring at the west side of the building, but she couldn’t hear him or read his lips since he was far away.

If it was an official mission, he would have engaged in a gunfight or requested backup from headquarters. Or maybe Dewey was taken hostage to extort information.

But that wasn’t the case.

After Dewey went back inside, the building on the screen exploded. Support arrived only after the building had burned down. Before that, the only thing she could hear was Choi Tae-joon’s screams.

Hana stood up when the video stopped. Then she retrieved the mini projector hidden in the lamp and aimed the light at the wall opposite of the table.

The characters in the link chart were connected by red lines. With the exception of David Meyer, who was already dead, and Yuri Petrov, who had gone missing, Giulio Parenti and Kang Moo-jin were the only pieces remaining on the board.

“The file on Kang Moo-jin is lacking in data… and Giulio Parenti, Capo of a Sicilian Mafia, age…mid to late 30s…”

He is a business tycoon, the CEO of a global hotel chain, and the founder of the Tonino F1 team. (F1 or Formula One, is the highest level of international races for formula racing cars.)

He’s the eldest son of the Parenti family, an orthodox Sicilian family, that distributes drugs and weapons.

Although opinions were divided on his involvement in the bombing attack a year and six months ago, the FBI did not put Giulio Parenti on the list of suspects,

Why?

Giulio Parenti was more of a big shot than she realized. What if Dewey tried to contact him, just as stated in the data sent by Choi Tae-joon, and a problem had occurred during the process… Dewey would have been forced to fake his death…

If he had been betrayed.

“Fuck…” Hana muttered in a tight voice, sweeping both hands down her face.

That’s why there was no order from the higher-ups for support.

That’s why…

Lost in thought, she dropped the leftover food into the trash can, then found a number and called without hesitation.

‘I wasn’t going to call him again…’

Waiting for the call to connect with annoyance, she glared at the charging flip phone. She suddenly felt resentful towards Dewey as she never expected a day like this to come.

Soon the call was answered and a man with a soft British accent was heard over the phone.

[It’s been a while, One*.]

(Hana means One in Korean) (TL: ‘One’ is spoken in English)


 

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