After Franz took Emilian away, I climbed the stairs leading to the top floor of the institute.
I was too scared to stop Franz earlier, but… 

 

'I can't stand by and watch him get hurt.'

 

Emilian had been subjected to unreasonable experiments from day one.
And it happened all the time.
On the day the new test children arrived, Franz was reprimanded by the director for hitting one of them.
He had lost face in front of everyone.

 

'I think he's just venting his anger on Emilian.'

 

I climbed the stairs without stopping until I reached the top floor, even though my lungs were aching from lack of breath.
The director's office was at the end of the hall on the right.
I ran down the hall and stood in front of the door.
A guard stood guard.
As I approached, a good-looking guard stopped me.

 

“What's the matter?”

 

“I… I'm here to speak with the director.”

 

“The director is not busy enough to deal with a brat like you.”

 

He meant he couldn't let me in.
I bit my bottom lip in impatience.
I didn't have time to be out here arguing with this guy.

 

'Emilian…'

 

Even as I spoke, my heart was beating uneasily, fearing what Franz might do to him.
I looked at the guard's face.
Not long ago, the guards of the Institute had gotten together for a big gambling session, and this man had been there.
At that time he surely…

 

“Sir guard.”

 

“What.”

 

“You lost a lot of money playing cards a few days ago, didn't you?”

 

“What? How could you…” He raised one eyebrow and muttered.

 

“I found out while running an errand.”

 

The guards drank while playing, and all those errands fell to a kid like me.

 

“So, what is it?” His brow furrowed in annoyance, trying to stay calm.

 

“Don't you think it's strange that you used to win so much money, but these days you just keep losing?”

 

“That's because gambling is all about luck.”

 

“Then…
you're saying that everyone's odds of winning or losing are the same, and yet only one person keeps winning money, isn't that strange?”

 

“What…” The guard opened his mouth, dumbfounded.

 

'He'll understand just by saying this much.'

 

My heart burned with impatience, but I waited patiently.
After a moment, his beady eyes widened.

 


“No way, you're telling me someone cheated?”

 

“I saw it while I was running errands—a guy kept cards hiding under his palm.” I nodded.

 

The guard's expression instantly turned murderous when I told him I'd seen someone sneak a card.
He clenched his big fist and said,

 

“Do you have any idea who did it?”

 

“I know, but…” I looked up at him, deliberately slurring my words, implying I couldn't say it out loud.
The guard quickly realized my intentions.
He scratched his head nervously and asked.

 

“Right, what do you want?”

 

“It's nothing much.”

 

I cleared my ragged breathing and looked him straight in the eye.

 

“I want you to let me see the director.”

 

*      *      *

 

The director was sitting at a large desk, reading some papers.
Sensing my presence, he looked up.
Behind his one-eyed glasses, the director's eyes bore into mine.
His cold gaze sent a chill down my spine.
After staring at me for a while, he opened his mouth.

 

“This is not the place for a child like you to come in.”

 

He didn't understand how I had gotten past the guards and inside.
I struggled to keep my voice steady and said,

 

“I hope you don't mind, but I have something urgent to tell you.” 

 

“Urgent…” The director put down the papers he was looking at.
Instead of answering, he pulled a handkerchief out of his shirt pocket and began wiping his glasses

 

'What if he calls the guards and throws me out?' My mouth was dry from the tension.

 

“Let's hear it,” said the director, breaking the long silence.
“But if it's not as important as you think it is, you'd better be prepared to be punished.”

 

I froze at the eerie warning.

 

'Don't be frightened.
While you're here, Emilian is…' I lifted my dropped head and looked the man straight in the eyes.

 

“It's about Emil… No, I mean, it's about Subject 175.”

 

Hearing Emilian's number, the director's expression changed.

 

“Is something wrong with the test subject?”

 

I told him what Franz had done to Emilian.

 

“He was experimenting to increase his regeneration ability?”


 

“Yes.
When I went to deliver him a meal, I saw his wounds closing on their own.”

 

The director drummed his fingers on his desk and muttered to himself.

 

“This progress is too fast…”

 

Regenerative experimentation trials have a slow acclimatization period.
This ensures fewer side effects and less pain for the test subjects.
But the downside is that it takes longer to see the desired results.
It was clear that Franz was looking for short-term results without minding Emilian's pain.

 

'Even I can't save him, but I can at least make him suffer less…?'

 

I suppressed my nervous mind while waiting for the director's next words.
There's no way to help Emilian unless the director steps up himself.
I hesitated for a moment, then spoke.

 

“When the researcher in charge took him away, he said he was going to increase the intensity of the experiment compared to yesterday.”

 

Actually, Franz never said that, but if I could make him move even a little, there was no need to worry about lies.

 

“Hmm…” His brows furrowed.
To him, Emilian was a valuable test subject.
So he might want to take the safe route, even if it means taking a little more time…

 

The director looked up after arranging his thoughts.

 

“Where is Subject 175 now?”

 

“It's in the lab in the B wing.” 

 

The director rubbed his chin for a moment, then rose from the chair.
He finally decided and put on his robe, saying,

 

“Lead the way.
I'm going to go see the experiment.”

 

*      *      *

 

Emilian followed Franz into the laboratory.
He paused for a moment as he remembered the pain he had suffered last time, but that was all.

 

'Anyway… I can't avoid it.'

 

There's nowhere to run, and no one would help.
Emilian watched grimly as the researcher handcuffed his wrists.
A groan came from a few feet away.

 

“Huuu… ngh…”

 

He turned his head to the side and saw a child who had been in an experiment before him.
His arm was covered in small and large cuts.
The cuts closed and were reopened.
The researchers busily moved their hands to record something on the chart.
When they were done, they released him.
The child slumped helplessly.
His mouth was open like someone in a trance, and his eyes were out of focus.
Then he began to giggle.
The researchers spoke in a businesslike tone.

 

“It looks like he had a mental breakdown.”

 

“The regenerative powers are dwindling.
He'll be of no use to us.”

 

Emilian curled his hands into tight fists.

 

'Will I… be like that in the future?'

 

'If I hang in there,' he thought. 'Maybe I'll be able to get out of here one day…
but…'

 

Emilian shook his head.
He didn't want to be weak. 

 

The researchers put the test child on a stretcher.
Instead of leaving the lab through the door he came through, they went through an unfamiliar door.

 

“Where are they taking him?” 

 

Franz, who was picking up the experimental instruments, looked up at Emilian's question.
He glanced at the child being carried out on a stretcher.

 

“It's only natural that useless test subjects are discarded.”

 

“.
.
.”

 

Emilian's body stiffened for a moment.
Misreading his reaction, Franz spoke reassuringly.

 

“Don't worry.
You're very good, so you won't be discarded.” 

 

Emilian bit his lip hard.

 

“You people…” Fury flared in his red eyes.
“All of you will rot in hell.”

 

Franz's face twisted at Emilian's words.

 

“You sure have a big mouth,” he said as he connected the device to Emilian's body.
“How long can you keep talking like this?”

 

Without waiting for Emilian to answer, Franz manipulated the device.
Countless wounds appeared on the child's body.

 

“Uuhk!”

 

Franz released the device with a satisfied expression.

 

“Administer the drug.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Soon, a thick needle pierced his flesh.
Emilian's eyes widened, and he writhed.

 

“Ahhk—!”

 

A pain that felt like it would burn his entire body engulfed him.
At the same time, the wound began to heal rapidly.
Faster than last time.
The excited voices of the researchers broke out.

 

“This regeneration power is above the average level!”

 

“It's unbelievable to see such a response after only the second experiment…”

 

Emilian couldn't understand.
They were weird. 

 

Why are they so happy?

 

I'm turning into a monster.

 

“If this is good enough, we can proceed to the next step.”

 

Seeing that the wound was completely healed, Franz brought in a new set of experimental instruments.
The test subjects would cry out in fear when he pulled out the new tool, but the boy in front of him was just glaring at him as he gasped in pain.
He was cocky, but Franz liked this one thing about him.

 

'I hate when they whine out loud.'

 

Franz immobilized Emilian's hands and held the test tube close to his fingers.
His forbearing eyes fluttered for a moment.

 

“You're an excellent test subject, so I suppose I can look forward to it.”

 

He connected the apparatus to the boy's hands.
Franz manipulated the instrument.
It moved, pinching his fingers, and Emilian gritted his teeth.

 

'Can I stand it? No.
I have to.'

 

An unhallowed groan escaped through his clenched teeth.
Franz smirked.

 

“It's going to hurt a little.”

 

Emilian closed his eyes tightly. 

The researcher had just begun to operate the instrument in earnest.
Suddenly, an angry voice shouted.

 

“Stop the experiment immediately!”

 

Emilian slowly opened his closed eyes.
He lifted his head and looked at the man who had appeared.
It was the laboratory's director.
He was the one who had kidnapped children from the slums, including Emilian, and brought them here.

 

'Why is he here?'

 

And asking to stop the experiment at that…

 

Emilian's red eyes sharpened like blades.
But then he realized that someone was behind the director.

 

“.
.
.!”

 

Emilian's eyes widened at the sight of the girl behind the middle-aged man.

 

'Annis…'

 

She was looking at him with eyes that seemed to try to hold back her tears.

 

———————————————————————————————————

 

This novel will continue here for the time being~

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