Everyone could feel the tense atmosphere.
Sungyoon raised his hand.
“I already have a healing magic Gem. As long as I get my share of the cut, I don’t care what measures you take.”
He didn’t want to unnecessarily get in the middle of the fight between the party members, so he quickly drew his line in the sand.
When he gave up his rights to the Gem, everyone looked at Sungyoon with favorable eyes, especially Wonho. He looked at Sungyoon as if Sungyoon were was his savior. This was a complicated situation, and Sungyoon had voluntarily chosen to pull himself out of it.
“I don’t need it either.”
Hweeyae also spoke up, and the competitors decreased to three. Wonho let out a sigh as he spoke.
“I’m fine too.”
Wonho really wanted the healing magic Gem, but he thought the situation would be unmanageable if he got into the fray.
All the other party members had given up on it, and only two competitors were left. But even if the number of competitors had lessened, it didn’t mean the tense atmosphere went away. No, the true competition was about to start right now. Soochan and Mina glared at each other.
“I’ll take it.”
“I’ll give you a good price. I’ll pay 1.2 times the market price.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
As expected, Soochan butted in.
“Why are you talking as if it is already yours?”
“I said it at the inception of this party. I told everyone if the Gem drops, I want to purchase it. Moreover, I’m doubling down on that sentiment after someone almost got me killed.”
Her sarcastic remarks worsened the mood, and Soochan’s face scrunched up. He looked like an evil spirit.
“You aren’t the only one in need of that Gem. Moreover, it was your fault that you almost died, and now you are blaming your own mistake on me, using it as a pretense to take the Gem. Can you even think in a logical manner?”
“You almost got your comrade killed, yet you shamelessly deny any responsibility. Do you really think logic would work on someone like that? It seems you’ve lived your life for nothing. Whenever you are born again, why don’t you put logic back into that inflated head of yours!”
“You almost died, because of your actions, you empty-headed bitch!”
“You should open your eyes a little bit more, you son of a bitch!”
The fight exploded once more between the two of them. The other three looked frustrated by it, but they didn’t dare to get in between. This fight had been building since the inception of this party, and Mina’s near-death experience was like pouring gas on a fire. It was a clash of negative emotions.
Sungyoon and Hweeyae kept eyeing Wonho. They wanted him to act.
In the end, the leader had to stop the fight. Wonho massaged his temples as he once again got in between the fight.
A profound realization appeared within Sungyoon’s eyes.
‘This is what the president was talking about. This is the reality of a Connector party.’
It was as Jimin had intended. Sungyoon had clearly realized the bitter reality.
* * *
By the time the party exited the labyrinth, it was very late. In the end, it couldn’t be decided as to who would get the healing Gem, and everyone decided to return to Armstrong. The two would try to outbid each other.
They immediately went to sleep, and on the next day, the five Moon Surface Vehicles headed towards Armstrong. The dust spreading into the air from the front cars was annoying, but it was possible to drive through it.
They drove six days straight to arrive at Armstrong.
Armstrong remained unchanged. It was still a city full of desire and pleasure. It had been a while since they were able to enjoy the benefits of civilization. They all gathered on the road.
“Thank you for all your hard work.”
Wonho spoke as he smiled. His smile looked different from the smile Sungyoon had seen from before. Wonho probably felt as if a rotten tooth had been extracted.
“I’ll hand over the gathered moonstones to a professional company. That company will equally divide it into five portions and sell it. The money received will be directly deposited into your bank account.”
This was a normal method used when Connectors from different companies teamed up. This method was more expensive than the Connector companies doing their own auction, and the profits would decrease a bit thanks to all the fees. But, the method would minimize the worry about a company secretly funneling money away.
“About the Gem....”
Wonho’s eyes headed towards Soochan and Mina.
“Let’s do the auction when the broker gets here. It’ll be dangerous if this becomes a fight between two egos. You’ll only get one chance. Both of you will write down a figure, and the person with the larger amount of money will get to buy the Gem at that price. Do you agree?”
The two of them nodded. Wonho looked towards the other party members.
“We’ll split the profit from the auction among the remaining four. I’ll send the Gem when the money from the successful bid comes in.”
The rest of the party also nodded.
Finally, everything was over. Wonho looked relieved as if a large rock had been lifted off his back. The auction was still left, but a broker would be involved. He would have way less to worry about now.
First, they went to a moonstone transport company and met up with a sales representative. Wonho let them take care of everything. Then they watched the auction between Soochan and Mina. In the end, Mina won the rights to the Gem. Her triumphant appearance was contrasted by Soochan’s crumpled expression.
“I’ll dissolve the party now.”
After everything was resolved, Wonho gave the declaration.
Everyone left without saying anything. Sungyoon gave a slight bow to Wonho as he left the party.
‘In some ways, this was the worst experience.’
Clearing a labyrinth was always hard. There were many life-harrowing experiences when one cleared a labyrinth, but this party life had been difficult in other ways.
Sungyoon sighed from all the stress he had received.
* * *
“How was it?”
In some ways, this was the most mentally exhausting experience in his career. After taking a week's break after returning to Earth, Sungyoon visited Jimin at her company. This was Jimin’s first question to Sungyoon.
The man wondered what he should say. He thought for a moment. All kinds of words and phrases appeared in his head, trying to form a coherent sentence before disappearing. This process kept repeating.
In the end, Sungyoon just shook his head. Then he asked the question.
“Is that really the reality of the 1st Gen Connectors?”
“Since you are asking that question, it seems you must have had quite the experience.”
“Yes. It almost makes me not want to join a party ever again.”
Sungyoon gave a full account of his experience. Jimin had a cold expression on her face, but she was very entertained as she listened to his words.
“That is a little bit worse than I thought it would be.”
“A little bit?”
Sungyoon sounded dejected as he asked the question.
“Most Connectors are rough around the edges, because they put their lives on the line for this line of work. Connectors like the Ross siblings, whom you partied with last time, are extremely rare. When put in that context, you were very lucky. Well, the Ross siblings were also lucky for meeting you.”
In truth, Sungyoon felt very thankful to the Bigfoot, who had allowed him to meet the Ross siblings.
“Most small companies form temporary parties until they can find a party with a fixed roster. However, there is no way you can find party members you like in a short amount of time. This is why you have to go through dozens upon dozens of temporary parties in order to find party members that you like. This is the method used by Connectors who have a Personal Labyrinth but don’t have a party. In that light, everyone in your party seems to really like you, Mr. Sungyoon.”
Jimin typed something into her computer and turned her monitor toward him.
“You partied with four people, and all of them would like to party with you in the future. They all contacted me.”
He wasn’t surprised about the others, but Soochan had tried to pick a fight with Sungyoon. This was why he was surprised to hear that Soochan wanted to party up with him again.
“As the president of a small company, it makes a girl feel really flattered.”
Jimin spoke. However, she spoke this with her patented cold face, and her words didn’t really land.
“So, I just have to contact anyone that I want to party with?”
“Do you have someone you liked?”
“There was one.”
Sungyoon thought about Wonho. As a leader, he was able to control his own greed, and he had worked very hard to keep the party intact. If it were someone like him, Sungyoon thought it would be ok to party with him.
“I won’t go against your judgment. However, are you sure about this? The difference between both of your abilities will be stark.”
This was true. Even if Wonho were a good Connector, there would be a difference in ability between the two of them. At the very least, Wonho wouldn’t be able to hunt the same level of monsters as of right now.
“It won’t work.”
He wasn’t really in a hurry, so he quickly gave up on that idea.
“First, I would like to get used to my newly acquired Devices and Gems.”
“Yes. This time I will try to find party members on your level.”
Jimin let out a sigh as she added.
“However, it’ll take a while. There aren’t that many small companies with Connectors at your level. Most of them are either affiliated with large companies, or they already have a party.”
He caught a glimpse of why Connectors wanted to enter a good company.
“Ah! Nicholas’ Devices and Gems have arrived.”
It was welcoming news. Devices and Gems were important items to Connectors, and he had just witnessed Connectors fight over one Indigo Gem. Maybe, this was why he welcomed the news that much more.
“It was quite hard. Nicholas’ company stated Nicholas had broken his contract, and he had caused significant damage to the image of their company. This was why they requested his Gems and Devices as recompense. So, I had to fight them.”
“Was it the same with Kim Soobin’s Gems and Devices?”
“No. His crimes were much more severe, and above all else, I think Dongin and Hyunwoo ahjussi also had a hand in the outcome.”
He thought about Dongin and Hyunwoo. In the past meeting, they had shown much concern for Jimin. If it were the two of them, they would have readily given up Soobin’s Devices and Gems for Jimin.
‘Maybe, I should be surprised. They gave me a White Gem as a token of apology.’
“In my opinion, Mr. Sungyoon doesn’t need a couple more low-rank Gems. At the very least, you need one more high-rank Gem. This was why I worked hard to get them. The quantity may be low, but they are all high-rank Gems and Devices.”
“Do you know the types?”
“There are a total of five Gems. I was more focused on the rank of the Gems, so I don’t know the exact details of what they are. I was told three of them were equipment type Gems. There should be one weapon, one shield, and one armor. The other two...”
For a brief moment, she looked a bit proud of herself.
“They are magic Gems. One is an attack magic Gem, and the other one is a support Gem.”
“... are you for real?”
“Yes, I’m for real.”
Sungyoon thought about Soobin’s gravity magic and Hweeyae’s flame magic. Then he thought about Emily’s strength and agility enhancing magic that she cast on him. He also clearly saw the benefit of having a healing magic Gem. It didn’t matter what kind of Gems they were. He could quickly activate it, so he’d be able to effectively use these Gems.
The other Gems were good too. His left hand felt empty without a shield, so he was really excited about a new shield. This didn’t mean he wasn’t glad to hear about the other equipment. Even if they turned out to be inferior to the equipment he possessed, Sungyoon could carry around these high-rank Gems as a reserve.
“Aside from the Devices and Gems, recompense for damages have come in too. Since we took the Devices and Gems, we weren’t able to receive too much.”
“I don’t mind. I would rather have Devices and Gems than money right now.”
Money could be acquired any time by farming the moonstones. Devices and Gems didn’t drop like clockwork just because one killed the monsters.
“I put all the money into your bank account. You can check it later.”
After Jimin spoke those words, their business for the day was done.
Sungyoon exited the company and went to the nearest bank to check his bank account. The balance of his account was clearly displayed on the ATM. Sungyoon clicked his tongue when he saw the large figure.
There were close to 7 million dollars in his bank account.
‘How long have I been a Connector?’
He would have to go over the exact dates, but he was sure it hadn’t been a year yet.
‘This is considered not too much...’
Sungyoon became surprised at the difference in perception.
Most of the 7 million dollars had been given as compensation. Soobin, who was dead, had done everything in his power to acquire high-rank Gems, so he had almost no savings at the end. This was the damages paid to him for Nicholas’ crime. Jimin had fought for Nicholas’ Gems and Devices, so she had to give up on a large part of the money as a consequence.
Yet, the sum of money he received was still massive.
Most civilians barely got a couple million dollars even from dying a wrongful death. The difference in money he received compared to the civilians made him accept the fact that he still hadn’t adjusted his perception of being a Connector.Previous Chapter Next Chapter