Sungyoon decided not to think about it for now. It was prudent to ask Jimin or other Connectors about all this.
‘What should I do now?’
The Moon Surface Vehicle was broken. Since it could no longer move, he couldn’t do anything until the rescue party came. He still had his supply of water and vitamin packs. But, he had driven five days straight without sleeping to reach Armstrong. So, the rescue team wouldn’t arrive, at the very least, for five days. He had nothing to do during that time.
The only thing he could do was to enter the labyrinth.
However, the idea didn’t sit well with him. Sungyoon looked at his own Devices. Most of his Gems had lost their color and turned gray. He couldn’t hunt monsters with them.
Still, he didn’t want to stare at the empty Moon and space for five days.
Sungyoon suddenly looked towards Soobin’s corpse. Devices and Gems glimmered on the corpse.
‘Should I use them?’
He felt conflicted.
If it were up to him, he wanted to go hunt in the labyrinth right now. It wasn’t just about passing time. Emotions were swirling inside his chest. He had just experienced killing a human, and his feelings were boiling over. He desperately wanted to redirect his emotions to a different place.
Even if it had been self-defense, he had killed a person. He wondered if he would be at a disadvantage later on if he took Soobin’s Devices and Gems.
In the end, Sungyoon reached for Soobin’s Devices. He wanted to calm down the roiling emotions in his chest.
‘I’ll just take one.’
He unequipped the bracelet on Soobin’s left wrist and checked the Gems. Surprise appeared in his eyes.
‘This is why I was at such a disadvantage.’
The bracelet was simple. It had three slots, each having a high-rank Gem equipped. The wedge-shaped Gem was the weapon, and it was right below the B&W Gems. It was a Red rank Gem. The strength-enhancing Gem was in the shape of a star, and it was an Orange rank Gem. The X-shaped Gem was the armor, and it was also an Orange rank Gem.
Soobin had only gathered high-rank Gems, and it was the reason he had been so smug about himself.
Sungyoon tried to activate the Gems.
The halberd, which used to be Soobin's weapon, appeared in Sungyoon’s hands. At the top, its body had a rounded blade of an ax, and at the bottom, a sharp spear. Then there was a pretty large hook on the backside. He swung it a couple of times. It felt a bit awkward. However, having used a spear before, he quickly familiarized with the halberd.
Then, he tried activating the physical ability-enhancing Gem. It was the same type of Gem that Sungyoon possessed, and increased the user’s strength. The only difference was the fact that this Gem was superior to his Gems. It enhanced his strength by seven-folds. It was more powerful than his two strength-enhancing Gems combined.
Also, the armor was a Lamellar outfit shaped like a vest.
‘This should be enough.’
At the very least, he’d be fine fighting on the 1st floor. He didn’t plan on overdoing it.
Sungyoon entered the labyrinth with his new equipment.
* * *
Fortunately, his trauma from killing a person didn’t prevent him from hunting down the monsters. Sungyoon was able to hunt as usual.
After six days, the rescue party arrived. They had contacted Sungyoon a day before, so he knew they were coming. It was why he hadn't entered the labyrinth, and waited for the rescue party.
Two Moon Surface Vehicles arrived in front of the labyrinth, and seven people got off. Three were Connectors, and the remaining four were regular people wearing spacesuits.
Sungyoon put on the spacesuit they brought. It would allow them to communicate with him. The spacesuit was uncomfortable, but he welcomed the oxygen it provided. He then showed them his damaged Moon Surface Vehicle and directed them towards the corpse. Explaining what had happened, he also told them he had used some of Soobin’s Gems and Device as he handed everything over to them.
Everyone frowned upon seeing Soobin’s corpse. They asked questions as part of an investigation, but Sungyoon didn’t feel offended and answered all of their questions. Even if he was the wronged party, he had killed a person. Of course, they would do a thorough investigation.
After finishing a long conversation, Sungyoon got on one of the Moon Surface Vehicles with one Connector and one investigator. The three of them returned to Armstrong. The rest remained behind to continue their investigation.
After arriving at Armstrong, Sungyoon was put in detention. On the next day, he would be sent to Korea. It had been the same with Nicholas in the past. Suspects and prisoners were sent back to their country of origin. There was no jail in Armstrong. It was expensive to keep prisoners in Armstrong, and they didn’t want to waste precious resources on criminals.
Life in a detention center wasn’t a pleasant experience. However, Sungyoon was able to come out after a week's detention on Earth.
Jimin had come to meet him. She pushed something towards him.
“What is it?”
“Since you were coming out of a cell, I thought this might be appropriate.”
He could see a white tofu within the black plastic bag.
Sungyoon took a bite. The unique nutty taste of tofu filled his mouth. After his stay in Armstrong, most foods tasted good to him now. He quickly ate all the tofu, not even choking once.
“What about Shinhae?”
“She’s at home. Even if you are innocent, I didn’t want her to see her father get out of a detention center.”
Sungyoon agreed with her words.
The two of them got into Jimin’s car and left the detention center.
“Even though I killed a person, I got out unusually fast.”
“It happened in Armstrong, so this incident was judged using their special laws. Armstrong was pretty much created by the US, so, of course, US laws had a strong influence when Armstrong came up with their own laws. And US laws are very lenient towards self-defense.”
He forgot it was a thing in the US.
“Mr. Sungyoon was locked-up because they wanted to check if your actions were really self-defense.”
“Did they confirm it?”
“In the first place, your attacker had entered someone else’s labyrinth. That’s one strike against him. Moreover, the black box of the Moon Surface Vehicle captured the footage of him destroying the wheels. When they considered all the evidence, Mr. Sungyoon was deemed innocent.”
“Still, it happened so quickly.”
“If Connectors of Armstrong are detained for a long time, they can't bring in moonstones. Companies lose incredible amounts of money as a consequence. This is why, compared to other countries, Armstrong has speedy trials. There are criticisms that the haste creates sloppy work, but it worked to our favor.”
Jimin pressed down on the accelerator as she increased the speed of the car.
“Still, they’ll continue to investigate this incident. They have to find the motive behind the attack. You should rest, Mr. Sungyoon. They said even after everything that had happened to you, you continued to go into the labyrinth.”
“I had nothing to do. If I did nothing, my emotions would become unsettled. I needed something to take my mind off the situation.”
Jimin glanced towards Sungyoon.
“… I’ll go over everything you missed in detail next time. However, you should get plenty of rest right now. It is an order.”
Afterward, the two of them didn’t speak for a while.
“I heard it was Kim Soobin.”
Jimin broke the oppressive silence. Her words were extremely heavy. The silence was less oppressive compared to the tone of her voice.
The initial investigation had been completed, so Jimin probably knew most of the information. This was why Sungyoon calmly spoke the truth.
“... It might have been my fault.”
Sungyoon looked towards her.
“He called me not too long ago. He wanted to rejoin my company. Of course, I insulted him and hung up on him.”
He had heard about this. During the battle, Soobin had complained about Jimin.
“You did the right thing.”
That was all he said. He didn’t need to bring up all the dirty words boasted by Soobin. Also, Sungyoon really felt she did the right thing.
“He might have developed negative feelings toward Mr. Sungyoon because of my actions. I heard the report. He planned on entering my company by killing you.”
‘I guess she already heard about it.’
It seemed the story he told to the investigative team had entered into her ears.
The light changed to red. Jimin’s car came to a stop, and she spoke in a small voice.
“I caused you harm once again.”
Sungyoon frowned. It felt as if he had gone through this before.
He looked at Jimin’s cold face, on which a dark cloud had formed.
‘This is the same situation as what I went through with Ms. Chelsea.’
When he had been attacked by Nicholas, Chelsea had felt responsible for the situation. It seemed Jimin also felt responsible for the situation with Soobin. Sungyoon inwardly let out a sigh. Wasn’t there a saying that went like attracts like? Jimin was like her friend. They both were stupidly kind and felt responsible for useless things.
“It isn’t your fault. The motive behind his attack is still unknown.”
He decided to take the initiative. However, he knew Jimin wouldn’t back down at this point. He really didn’t want to get in another awkward situation where she would suggest giving her body as recompense. Hence, he offered a reasonable price that she could pay. It was what he had done with Chelsea.
“Even if that is the case, it is a ridiculous reason for him to attack me. He is trash. But, if you do continue to feel guilty about it, you can continue to look after Shinhae for me. That’ll be enough for me.”
Jimin looked at Sungyoon, and he didn’t avoid her gaze. The two of them locked eyes for a brief moment.
Someone honked from behind. The two of them looked forward at the same time. The light had changed to green.
“The light has changed.”
Sungyoon pointed at the light, and Jimin quickly pressed down on the accelerator. The car smoothly moved forward.
Once again, silence descended between the two of them. However, something was different this time. Before the car had stopped at the red light, the silence was oppressive. But right now, comfortable silence filled the luxury car as it moved down the well-paved road. At the very least, it felt like that for Jimin.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Sungyoon.”
“It was nothing.”
Jimin still spoke in a cold voice. However, a sliver of a smile had appeared on her lips.
* * *
The car entered Sungyoon’s apartment complex. Sungyoon gave a short goodbye and unbuckled his seat belt, as he tried to get out of the car.
Jimin called out. Sungyoon looked towards her. He wondered if she was going to bring the previous topic up once again. However, when he saw her expression, he realized this wasn’t the case. A crack had appeared on her cold face, and the emotion that was revealed wasn’t guilt. It was one of worry.
“Are you really ok?”
He instinctively knew what she was asking about.
“I only say this out of concern for you. You really did nothing wrong. You know that, right?”
“I’m really ok. Thank you for worrying about me.”
Jimin was worried that Sungyoon felt guilty about killing a human. Sungyoon kept saying he was fine. Jimin continued to be worried, but Sungyoon’s face remained expressionless. She asked him to contact her if something happened. She extracted a promise from him before leaving his apartment complex.
Sungyoon entered his apartment building. He had yearned for his home. He had come back quicker than expected, but this didn’t lessen the joy he felt.
He entered his house.
His only treasure in this world ran towards him. Sungyoon let out a bright smile as he hugged her in his arms.
“Aigo! My cute daughter!”
He hugged her tight. Shinhae was seemingly growing every day, and she was his pride and joy.
When he finally returned home to feel the warmth of his daughter, he finally felt it. He had returned to his warm home. He had returned to his lovely daughter.
Shinhae tilted her head. Sungyoon’s shoulders were shaking.
Until now, he had acted as if nothing was wrong. He had desperately put on a mask of steel, but as soon as he felt Shinhae’s warmth, that mask melted away. It was all stripped away from him.
“Are you crying, dad?”
Shinhae had her chin on her father's shoulder as she hugged him, so she couldn’t see his face. However, their cheeks were touching, and she could feel a warm wetness on her cheek.
“N... no. Dad isn’t... crying.”
He bit his lips. A sob had almost come out of his mouth. He desperately pushed it down.
He was just a bit worn down. However, he couldn’t make his daughter worry. Sungyoon tried his best to stop his tears.
For a moment, Shinhae fell into deep thought. Then her short arms tightly hugged Sungyoon.
“You are nice. You are good.”
Sungyoon became surprised. Shinhae was acting like a mother consoling her child. She patted his back. Her arms were too short, so she couldn't reach the center of his back. However, she did her best to extend her arms as she tried to pat her father's back.
“You are nice. You are good.”
She repeated those words. He wondered if Shinhae was copying her teacher. One of the basic methods in consoling a crying child was to hug the child and pat the child's back. Shinhae was using this method on Sungyoon. She was probably trying to comfort him.
Sungyoon smirked. At the same time, he was moved by his daughter’s caring heart. She was trying her best to console her crying father. He could feel the child’s heart.
“Dad is... good?”
“Yes, dad is good!”
Sungyoon hugged Shinhae tighter. It felt as if the chains suffocating his body had been severed. A strong curse had haunted Sungyoon after he killed Soobin. And when he heard Shinhae’s words, he felt the curse completely lifted.
Sungyoon and Shinhae hugged each other for a while like that.Previous Chapter Next Chapter