People were dying faster than science had foreseen. No one knew the reason why people were dying at younger ages than the average life expectancy. Science found no biological evidence in the bodies. It was from a natural cause rather than an infection. Population of the biggest cities were decreasing at a fast pace, and the government was panicking because of the complaints from the citizens about this strange happening. The media wasn’t helping by spreading news with many false reasons for this happening, scaring even more the people around the world. This was a worldwide crisis, biggest announced in history.
But, in the middle of this mess, a scientist, that until this day no one knows who is, presented a solution to the government, a substance that would make the human body take harder things and have a longer life, basically giving the human body super powers. The government, desperate as it was, accepted the scientist option, no matter how stupid it sounded.
They provided him with all kinds of equipment, put together the most intelligent scientist team, and gave him a space to work, and lab rats.
Human lab rats.
The government gave them 13 orphan children, ages ranging from 14 to 19, to be the guinea pigs of the scientist, who were put in water tanks, to be better preserved.
It took 2 years, and in 2015 , the scientist discovered the right liquid. He tried it on the youngest child, waiting a day for his results that were a success. The youngest child showed a high maintenance against diseases like rare cancer, only needing a day of rest to cure himself. They had no way to test if the superpowers were there or not, but things such as stabbing, taking a bullet and others, didn’t trigger any kind of supernatural reaction.
Happy and fascinated with his success, the scientist made 12 more liquids for the rest of the children, changing some contents, maintaining the same regeneration attribute, but changing the potential powers that they could have.
His passion for astrology was what gave the project name, the Zodiac Project.
The Zodiac Project went successfully with the other 12, but their powers were a little uncontrollable due to the children's condition, in and out of consciousness. It could be witnessed when they closed the lab for the day and the next there were ruined things around, like tables, equipment and others. The scientist needed something that could make their powers at bay, so, japanese culture being another of the scientist's passions, he created 13 swords with a device that released a reversed zodiac liquid. Those swords work until 10 meters away from the owner.
The project was going fine until that same year there was a fluke in the lab. Someone sabotages the tanks with the liquids from each child. The scientist made a good amount of each liquid and preserved it in tanks, and someone from inside the lab cutted the tubes.
It only could have been someone from the lab, no one outside of the government, knew the location of the lab.
When the scientist found out it was already too late. The cut in the tubes was so small that no one found out. A colleague from the team was walking around with a reactive substance. A drop of it directly from the damaged tubes and it caused a bad reaction that caused an explosion.
Everyone at the lab died, even the scientist that created the zodiac liquid. The explosion caused a huge cloud of smoke to form, that inevitably spread around the world. The only thing that survived was the 13 children and a notebook that explained how to treat them.
The children were separated into different bases. The notebook burned. The Zodiac Project was forgotten.
All around the world people were infected with the zodiac liquid. Not only people, but buildings became rotten, plants grew way faster, taking over the rotten buildings. People changed. They gained power and became rebellious, radical, that all the governments came together and builded a city to people that weren’t infected as much, the lucky ones. Meanwhile the excluded ones created a new society, a new hierarchy, a new way of living.
They started to take over the good buildings that could be fixed in some way. Creating ghettos or neighborhoods for the people to live. Gangs and such took over many cities, being their “government” while the real one left them.
The hierarchy was divided in four stages.
The kings , the ones that had more powerful super powers, normally ruled the huge gangs.
The wielders , the middle and lower class, the normal people working under gangs or just minding their business, some worked in jobs that were created to balance the economy.
The berserkers , people that got infected with too much zodiac liquid, reacted in a bad way–turning them into monsters without reason, attacking and eating people. There were hunters paid to kill them, which was one more job.
And finally the nameless . This is where the zodiac project guinea pigs stayed. A gang that took over a part of Seoul, found an underground lab with broken tanks in it. After the explosion, people found out about the zodiac project, what it was, and that there were guinea pigs that survived the explosion. So many people knew that they were free, walking around with their swords. But no one knew how they looked.
The only thing that marked them was the tattoo on their upper arms that the scientist made to identify them. But because of the zodiac liquid, the temperature on earth dropped, and people only walked around in warm clothes. So there was no way to identify them.
And they had a huge prize on their heads right now.
✧･ﾟ: *✧･ﾟ:* ♐ *:･ﾟ✧*:･ﾟ✧
At first Jihoon despited the tattoo of an archer in his upper arm. He hated mostly because of what people talked about, like it was poison, whispering about thirteen boys that had a zodiac sign tattoo on their upper arm, as if they spoke louder they would be punished.
The other reason was that after years of sleeping he came back to this damaged world. The last memory of the world was of his parents being shot and because of that he was sent to an orphanage. Well, it was supposed to be an orphanage, but it turned out to be a lab, where he was injected with some liquid that made him sleep but still be aware of what was happening, and thrown to a water tank, in which he was chained with tubes that went inside his body in ways he never knew it was possible. Left to spend his days in there, getting injected with so many unknown substances
And that’s how life was until the explosion happened. After that the only thing he remembers is seeing the other six broken empty tanks, grabbing his sword, some clothes and going out.
Going out to an unknown world even though you are on the same planet ain’t easy. Jihoon had to find out the hard way that this was a world of eating or being eaten, literally. His first encounter with the new people was with a berserk. Something that looked like a woman but with missing skin and foam coming out of her mouth chased him and trapped him in a dead-end ally, that was when he found out that this beast still had some intelligence in it.
And that he had super powers.
Jihoon had just extended his arm as a protection shield when the woman began to charge at him and the sword that was left in the ground a little bit far away went through the woman, successfully stopping her attack, and Jihoon stood there frozen. After the woman dropped dead on the ground, Jihoon went for the sword, taking it out of the dead body and running away from the spot.
It was days later that he found out that his eyes were orange. When he was passing by a ruined shop, typical of an apocalyptic setting, Jihoon looked at the window that reflected his face, showing his bright orange eyes. He looked at his sword and tattoo, they were both orange.
Ugh, so funny.
It was months after being basically homeless, that Jihoon found out he was the most wanted prize. Because he was a nameless. Boys from the zodiac project, with an upper arm tattoo, walking around with swords.
It was almost a year after that he found out he could win money by killing berseks and other people. Thank lord he had a sword. And that’s how he ended up working for one of the most famous gangs in Seoul. It was easy to enter, the boss said that he had two other guys that walked around with swords and were good at their job.
Easy, peasy, lemons quizzy.
Two years later, he earned enough money to buy a small studio apartment in the east residential zone of Seoul, contact lenses to hide his orange eyes (until then he had been wearing sunglasses) and bought a bicycle to go to work since it was only a couple blocks away. In this earth, only people with a lot of money could buy a car, because the liquid would rot the metal so cars now had to be sprayed with a special liquid to be able to the survive in this conditions–so people opted for a bicycle, they also had to be sprayed with the same liquid, but were more cheaper and at least the city was pollution free.
It was three years later of working for that mafia boss that he found out one of, and he quotes his boss, the “guys that walked around with swords and were good at their job”.
(For Jihoon that explanation was iconic, sue him)
The archer had just come back from a job. It was an easy one, a berserk level three that was mingling too close to the north residential area.
Normally this kind of berserks had much rationality than the level one and two, a little harder to defeat but he killed efficiently. Unfortunately the file that was given to him didn’t say about other berserk of the same level, and Jihoon was caught off guard when the creature jumped on him. Thankfully the monster had only scratched his arm and landed a few meters away, a good distance for Jihoon to throw his sword and successfully go through its head.
With a bloody sword and clothes, Jihoon walked to his bicycle that he left at the gate of the area, rode to the closest convenience store, bought some tissues to clean his sword and tried his best with his clothes but no luck, sat on the sidewalk outside of the store and wrote the report for his boss. It was a mafia gang, but they were really neat.
He guessed this society made them like that.
“One berserk level three killed in… observations… one undecteded berserk level three appeared…” Jihoon re-readed the report and, content with his work, he jaunted to his boss' house to give the report.
The nice old maid told him that his boss was with another hunter, but assured him that it was okay for Jihoon to be interrupted. The hunter went upstairs, knocked on the door down the hall and waited for a response.
“Come in” a gruff voice said.
Jihoon’s boss was a man around thirty, far away from the typical mafia boss, he had many hair, pure black, had no tattoos, only used one ring and no jewelry otherwise, you could see that he was fit under the normal two piece suit. And he cared for his hunters under that “bad guy” facade.
Well, hunters gave him money, of course he would take care of them.
There was another hunter in the room, like the old maid said, in the middle of the room, talking with his boss. The man was much taller than Jihoon, had blond hair in contrast to Jihoon’s black, was physically thick which indicated that he worked out a lot. He had a hard expression, really intimidating, but really handsome. Big brown eyes, adorable button nose and plump natural red lips, (really kissable in Jihoon’s opinion). His eyes dropped down (not with that intention), landing on his sword which was dyed in gold with lighting drawings on the scabbard.
Wait! Gold and lighting…
There’s no way that he’s one-
“Jihoon how was the work?”
Jihoon shook himself internally to focus on his initial task, handing the report “It was good, a little bit of set back but nothing I couldn’t take care of alone”
The boss reached for the file and swept his eyes throughout the report “That’s good. You can go rest for the day, you did a good job. The money will be transferred by the end of the day”
“Yes, sir” Jihoon bowed, turning away to the door, when he heard
“You too, Seungcheol you can go home and rest for the day. Tomorrow we will give you your next job” The man, Seungcheol, also bowed and followed Jihoon out of the door.
The door closed behind them and they stood side by side, none of them moved a step or turned to each other. Seungcheol had his hand on the handle of his sword, Jihoon had his hands on his sides. They were waiting for either one of them to attack, guards up eyes wary.
Seeing that Seungcheol wouldn’t do anything, Jihoon moved his fingers up and his sword slid out of the scabbard, floating on the air, and charged to Seungcheol. The man stumbled back to avoid being cut, his hand letting go of his sword and Jihoon, seeing that as open, kicked the sword far away, launching at Seungcheol until his back crashed against the wall, locking his hand around the hunter's throat.
“I had my suspicions but never knew it was real. Glad that we finally meet, Lighting Leo”
“Your contacts suck a lot, Archer Sagittarius”