Chapter 182

When the outer wall had been breached, many people were sucked out into space. Armstrong was still in the process of recovering those corpses. However, the cold reality was that the city barely had enough manpower to carry out this task. Still, Sungyoon pushed back on the idea that Armstrong would go under.

“The world won’t let Armstrong fail.”

Armstrong was the only city on the Moon. Moonstones were the main ingredients needed to produce the world’s energy supply. The demand for moonstones far outstripped the supply even before all of this. This city was essential if the world wanted more moonstones. There was no way the government of each country on Earth would easily give up on this city.

“Do you think people will want to come back?”

Tim asked.

“As you probably know, Connectors can't permanently leave the Moon. That means the lack of civilian population is the problem, but I believe they’ll return in due time. Of course, some will leave. However, I’m sure there will be enough new people that would want to come here. We know what caused this incident, and this information will be spread. People will start to think everything will be fine if the Connectors show more caution within the labyrinths. Above all else, money talks. There are people willing to risk their lives for money. Of course, this means the quality of service we can enjoy up here will decline for the near future.”

Sungyoon thought about his past when he had no hope.

At the time, he would have done anything for money including putting his life on the line. He was sure the world was full of people like him.

Of course, nothing was absolute, so he qualified his statement.

“Well, this holds true only if there are no new developments to consider.”

It was said one should be careful what one should wish for. After two days, a piece of news took the world by storm.

China and Russia decided to cooperate to construct a new city on the surface of the Moon.

***

The Lunar city of Armstrong didn’t belong to any country.

However, as its name implied, the US was the principal agent that had constructed this city. It meant the US and her allies held most political power within Armstrong city.

Even the laws governing Armstrong city were strongly influenced by the US laws. China and Russia, who were major rivals of the US, didn’t like that fact.

‘Still, I never expected them to announce the construction of a second Lunar city.’

Sungyoon was watching the news on the TV screen.

Armstrong had faithfully functioned as the only city on the Moon over the years. However, Russia had maintained the old base built by the old Soviet Union. 

This base couldn’t be compared to Armstrong. But even though it was a small base, it was equipped with all the necessary equipment.

In recent days, China had promised to provide immense capital to the undertaking, so the two countries could expand the old base into a city. The two countries made a resolution to do so.

The anomalous events that occurred in Armstrong became a big boon for these two countries.

“It is the safer Lunar city.”

Grace had come over to visit Sungyoon and the Ross siblings at their lodging. She repeated the catchphrase attached to the construction plan of the city.

Two labyrinths lied within the vicinity of Armstrong city, the Beginner’s Labyrinth and the Great Labyrinth.

The Beginner’s Labyrinth allowed the beginner Connectors to efficiently develop within the confines of the city, and the high-rank Connectors could comfortably gather moonstones within the Great Labyrinth.

However, monsters and Golems were starting to venture out of the labyrinths. The two labyrinths were basically a time bomb. 

In contrast to Armstrong, the second city wouldn’t have any labyrinths inside its perimeters. 

Moreover, the Russian base was already located far from the labyrinths.

It wasn’t too long ago that this fact was a disadvantage to the Russians. But now, it was the other way around. 

“I’m sure a lot of people will immigrate there once the construction is completed. In this city, we have to constantly worry about monsters and Golems exiting the labyrinths at any given moment. If I’m being truthful, I wouldn’t want to live in such a place either. ”

Tim wasn’t the only person having such thoughts in the city.

‘However, I doubt they could lure away the upper echelon of high ranked Connectors.’

Sungyoon had that thought.

The highest-ranked Connectors entered the Great Labyrinth to acquire more Devices and Gems. In turn, they used the Gems and Devices to acquire moonstones. This was why there was a big downside to moving to the new city for them. They wouldn’t be able to stomach the tradeoff that came with not having easy access to the Great Labyrinth.

Of course, the talk of safety caught their attention. However, they were unwilling to let go of the overwhelming advantage of having direct access to the Great Labyrinth. 

Connectors would leave, but it would only be the Connectors who had already given up on raiding the Great Labyrinth. Everyone that wanted to raid the Great Labyrinth had to stay in Armstrong city.

It meant that the second city would mainly cater to the Connectors who enter normal labyrinths.

However, there really was a world of difference between the moonstones that could be gathered by normal Connectors and the moonstones gathered by the Connectors who raided the Great Labyrinth. 

Even if the second city took all the normal Connectors, they couldn’t make as much money as the high-rank Connectors in Armstrong. The difference was stark.

However, Sungyoon and his party became surprised at the next piece of news.

[A labyrinth similar to the Great Labyrinth was found near the joint base of China and Russia. It is being called the second Great Labyrinth. Reactions from all quarters are coming in….]

‘That changes everything.’

If that really was true, Armstrong city really might go under.

***

Sungyoon and his party were somber as they watched the news. At that moment, someone pressed the doorbell.

“How have you been?”

The visitors were Hyunwoo and two other Connectors. As soon as he entered the house, Hyunwoo started taking out a bunch of food from his storage Gem. He said they would need it.

Almost half of the city’s functions had become paralyzed, so food might be the best gift one could give to someone in Armstrong.

Sungyoon still had some spare food left in his storage Gem, but the more, the better.

“What brings you here?”

Sungyoon made coffee for Hyunwoo as he asked. Hyunwoo quenched his thirst with the coffee.

Sungyoon remembered the other highest-rank Connector in the world that he knew. Russell had complained when Sungyoon had brought out a tea that wasn't black tea. Even when Sungyoon gave him black tea, Russell had complained the black tea wasn’t good.

Unlike Russell, Hyunwoo drank the coffee without complaint. Sungyoon secretly thought he liked Hyunwoo more than Russell in that aspect.

“I had some things I have to tell you, and I was also given a task I have to perform.”

Hyunwoo took out something, and he poured out the contents across the table.

“These are Jean Fajardo’s Devices and Gems. You guys have first dibs.”

Five Devices and over a dozen Jewel rank Gems lay in front of them.

Jean had caused too much damage to Armstrong. So a severe punishment was handed down to him.

His fortunes were seized by Armstrong. It was recompense for the damage he had caused. 

The higher-ups of Armstrong wanted to reward the Connectors who had minimized the damage to Armstrong by defeating the Golems. Those Connectors were given priority to purchase Jean Fajardo’s Devices and Gems.

In truth, Sungyoon’s party and the other Connectors who fought against the Golems had caused more damage to the city by attacking the Golems. However, they had acted selflessly in protecting the city, so the higher-ups decided to give them first dibs in purchasing the Devices and Gems. Sungyoon’s party had no intention of turning down that opportunity.

They had entered the Great Labyrinth not too long ago, and they were already hard stuck on the second floor. They couldn’t move past the plateau, so this was a great opportunity for them. Jean Fajardo was a high ranked Connector, and he possessed many high ranked Gems.

Sungyoon’s party decided against purchasing the highest rank Gem. They didn’t need that high of a Jewel rank Gem, and above all else, it was too expensive. 

When Sungyoon’s party deferred the highest rank Gem to the other two Connectors, the two Connectors thanked Sungyoon’s party, but they passed on purchasing the Gem too.

These two Connectors, who had defeated the other Golems, were higher in rank compared to Sungyoon’s party. They had their own set of high-rank Gems, so they were picky in choosing their Gems. So they conceded their rights to purchase Fajardo’s Gems.

That was why there were still a dozen Jewel rank Gems in front of Sungyoon’s party. The Ross siblings spent most of their fortunes right then and there. Grace, who had been in the process of filling out her Gems, had to borrow money from Sungyoon in order to purchase the Gems she wanted.

However, they were worth it.

The lights that emanated from the Gems were fantastic. Since they knew the worth of these Gems, Sungyoon’s party gulped.

“You should check them out.”

As soon as Hyunwoo said those words, everyone except Sungyoon pounced on the Devices and Gems.

They immediately equipped and activated the Gems. They wanted to make sure they could use those Gems.

“It seems all of you can handle the Gems you purchased.”

Fortunately, none of the Gems broke. The Ross siblings and Grace had spent an astronomical amount of money for these Gems. So they let out a sigh of relief when the Gems worked.

“You don’t want to purchase any for yourself?”

Sungyoon stood back with Hyunwoo and the two other high ranked Connectors. Sungyoon just watched the others activate the Gems. He didn’t touch any of them.

“I already have a good amount of Jewel rank Gems. Moreover, I’ll have more opportunities in the future to acquire more Gems.”

Sungyoon had many more Jewel rank Gems compared to his party members. In truth, Sungyoon wasn’t the reason why his party was hard stuck on the second floor of the Great Labyrinth. It was his party members, who couldn’t keep up with him.

The number of Jewel rank Gems possessed by Sungyoon right now was unrivaled in his party. So he let his party members have the opportunity to purchase all the Gems.

It also helped to know that he just needed time to evolve Jewel rank Gems. It was a factor in why he conceded his rights to Fajardo’s Gems.

“I see.”

Hyunwoo dropped the subject.

“Well, I fulfilled the request given to me by the higher-ups. This means I just need to tell you the information I obtained.”

Sungyoon looked at Hyunwoo.

“It has to do with what you experienced when you killed the Super Golem.”

The light in Sungyoon’s eyes changed. His party, who had been touching their newly acquired Gems and Devices in joy, turned to look at Hyunwoo.

“You found information about it?”

Sungyoon had nothing to lose, so he had called Hyunwoo about it earlier. It seemed his faith in Hyunwoo had borne fruit.

“I haven’t checked the veracity of this information. However, there are reports of people who have experienced what you went through. You said you lost the sense of reality, and your surroundings slowed down. Then you heard the sound of a beating heart. Is that right?”

“Yes.”

“I looked into it, and there were reports of Connectors who sometimes experienced this phenomenon.”

“Who are these Connectors?”

“They are 1st Gen Connectors. In fact, they are 1st Gen Connectors who were powerful enough to enter the Great Labyrinth.”

They were 1st Gen Connectors. Moreover, they had enough power to enter the Great Labyrinth. Sungyoon checked all the boxes.

“However, there are some differences too.”

“In what way?”

“They couldn’t execute a powerful attack like you. Moreover, they felt an emotion that you didn’t feel.”

“Which emotion are you talking about?”

“Fear.”

Sungyoon shut his mouth. Hyunwoo’s words were unexpected.

“The 1st Gen Connectors who develop enough power to enter the Great Labyrinth usually raid average labyrinths. They receive support from their countries, and they provide their services as studs. This information is known to everyone, and it isn’t too far off from the truth. Most 1st Gens don’t mind living such a life. However, it isn’t the full truth. Do you really think you are the only eccentric 1st Gen who wanted to enter the Great Labyrinth?”

“Are you saying there is another reason why the 1st Gens refuse to enter the Great Labyrinth?”

“Yes.”

Hyunwoo nodded.

“It happens occasionally, but sometimes, the 1st Gens capable of entering the Great Labyrinth experience the phenomenon you went through. However, that isn’t the important part. They heard the sound of heartbeats like you. What did you feel when you heard it?”

Sungyoon looked through his memories.

“My head was blank at that moment, so I wasn’t really thinking anything. When I heard the heartbeat once again, I was taken aback by it, but I also welcomed it.”

“That's the critical difference between you and the other Connectors.”

Hyunwoo leaned forward a little bit.

“The other 1st Gen Connectors said they felt overwhelming fear when they heard the heartbeat.”

Everyone around them gulped.

“They felt as if they would lose their minds every time they heard the heartbeat. Therefore, those 1st Gen Connectors distanced themselves from the Great Labyrinth. They only heard the heartbeat when they were using Jewel rank Gems.”

"Those 1st Gens gave up their Jewel rank Gems, and if it could be helped, they limited themselves from entering even the other labyrinths.

“In that context, you are very unique. You don’t feel the fear. I’m not sure if you don’t feel the fear, or you are able to ignore the fear.”

Hyunwoo sounded baffled as he spoke.

“You speak as if you’ve personally experienced this.”

“All the 1st Gen gave up after hearing the heartbeat. You're the exception.”

Hyunwoo spoke about it in an offhand manner as he stood up.

“Anyways, my business here is done. If you have more questions, you can search out these 1st Gens. Korea and England have a large population of 1st Gens. I’m sure you can find some of the high-rank 1st Gens in either country. In fact, any country will be willing to help you track down the high-rank 1st Gen Connectors if you ask. It isn’t a difficult request.”

After he spoke those words, Hyunwoo headed toward the front door.

“Thank you for the information.”

“You should buy me dinner next time.”

Hyunwoo didn't even look back. He just waved his hand once as he exited the house.

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