Chapter 186

Sungyoon became annoyed when several mics were shoved in front of his face. People, who he assumed to be reporters, kept bombarding him with questions, but these questions went in one ear and out the other. Sungyoon had finished his arduous runs in the labyrinth, so he wanted to heal his heart by seeing Shinhae. Yet, these people were obstructing him from doing that.

He gave half-hearted answers as he pushed through the crowd. Fortunately, the reporters didn’t badger him too hard. 

Still, they kept following him as if they were chicks following their mother. However, the situation lasted only a moment.

“Hey now. You can't follow him after this point.”

“That's enough. You had your time with him.”

A car pulled up in front of Sungyoon, and men in black suits appeared from the side. They blocked the reporters from following Sungyoon. The reporters didn’t try too hard to push through the men in suits.

Sungyoon found the parked car in front of him familiar, so he stepped inside.

Tahk!

“Dad!”

As soon as he closed the door, a small figure jumped into his arms. Sungyoon’s face relaxed.

“Aigo! My daughter!”

Sungyoon tightly hugged Shinhae, then carefully looked at her face.

“My daughter became prettier!”

When she heard Sungyoon’s words, Shinhae let out a contagious laugh. 

She buried her face in his chest. No one knew this, but her father’s scent brought her a sense of security.

The car started to drive forward. 

However, Sungyoon didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings as he kept conversing with Shinhae.

After several hours, Shinhae fell asleep in the arms of her father, who she had missed so very much.

As always, Shinhae had to get up really early to come to the space center. The car wasn’t a comfortable place to sleep as it would shake all the time, but she couldn’t stave away her sleepiness. 

When Shinhae fell asleep, the inside of the car became quiet. Finally, Sungyoon turned his gaze toward the driver.

“How have you been?”

“Good.”

Jimin glanced at Sungyoon using the rearview mirror.

“I heard Armstrong City is a mess right now. It's a hot topic even on Earth. Several news media companies sent a couple of reporters to Armstrong city despite the exorbitant cost.”

“If it wasn’t for the high ranked Connectors, Armstrong would have been razed to the ground.”

At the very least, Sungyoon wasn’t confident that he would have been able to face off against the Super Golem. It was true that he had applied the final blow, but Sir Russell had been the one to fight and bring the Super Golem to that state where Sungyoon could defeat it. Sungyoon didn’t know what the outcome would have been without Sir Russell.

“I heard some more incidents occurred on Earth too.”

“Yes. Monsters appeared two more times. However, the countries were well-prepared. Also, these monsters weren't as terrifying and powerful as the Behemoth. So the damage was minimal.”

It seemed keeping Connectors stationed on Earth had been a very good strategy.

“However, we keep finding places filled with magical energy here and there. That's why there is a state of unrest in the population.”

“That's worrying.”

The increase in the number of locations where the monsters could spawn wasn’t welcome news.

“Anyway, did you hire the men who blocked the reporters?”

“Yes. I had to prepare for Mr. Sungyoon’s celebrity status. I thought it was the least I can do.”

Sungyoon let out a big sigh when he heard the word ‘celebrity status'.

“I’m not happy about it.”

“You made too big of an impression on the public in London. You should always wear a hat and sunglasses from now on.”

“I’m not some entertainer...”

Sungyoon grumbled.

However, with the current situation being like that, Sungyoon had to adapt. He, although reluctantly, accepted Jimin’s advice.

It had been a while, but the two of them had a long conversation as the car moved forward.

***

The TV was airing a news program.

The screen of the TV displayed a man walking out of the space center. All the cameras simultaneously flashed at him.

The man looked very taken aback by the attention, so he looked at his surroundings. Then, he silently pushed through the crowd to exit the space center.

Jaeho’s face crumpled as he watched the footage of Sungyoon arriving on Earth today.

He had been very surprised by Sungyoon’s success. Sungyoon had achieved a measure of fame and success. Considering Jaeho's past with Sungyoon, it meant that Jaeho could be put in a tough situation now if he wasn’t careful.

Of course, he had destroyed all the evidence.

Jaeho didn’t think he would be at a disadvantage even if he went up against Sungyoon.

However, presidents and CEOs of large businesses were not popular in this current climate. An anti-conglomerate sentiment was rife in Korea.

On the other hand, Sungyoon had shown self-sacrifice when he had saved London in style. He was considered a hero all around the world.

Koreans loved seeing one of their own do well on the world stage. A Korean-born Connector had become an extraordinary hero, so of course, the Korean public was almost fanatical when it came to Sungyoon. If it came to a fight between Sungyoon and Jaeho, it was obvious as to whom the public would side with.

Even if Jaeho won in the courts, his company’s public image would tank. As someone who was trying to inherit the family business, it might lead to his ambitions being shipwrecked.

‘How the hell did that bastard become like that?’

Sungyoon had been a piece of trash and a loser. He had been delusional in thinking Jaeho was his friend. Sungyoon was supposed to be Jaeho's stepping stone. He was someone that Jaeho had buried when his usefulness came to an end. Sungyoon should've been a common worm that amounted to nothing.

However, Sungyoon had become one of the top moneymakers of this world not long after hitting rock-bottom. He had risen to become Korea’s greatest hero. Whenever Jaeho thought about this, he felt as if someone were twisting a knife in his guts.

Jaeho picked up the phone.

He called Miyun, his partner in crime. They had already gotten sick of each other, so it had been a while since he had talked to her. However, it was an emergency, so he had no choice.

- What is it?

He heard a curt voice through the phone.

“We have to talk about Woo Sungyoon.”

For a brief moment, all Jaeho could hear was silence. However, the sound of a chair being dragged back soon came through. He heard her excusing herself.

- If you have something to say to me, do it quickly. I’m getting my nails done right now at a nail salon.

‘Nail salon? You're getting your nails done in this situation?’

Could it be? Was she completely oblivious of what was going on? Jaeho wondered if he had picked the wrong co-conspirator. It was too late, but he was having regrets.

“Do you not realize what’s happening right now? If your ex-husband talks to the press about what we did to him, we’ll be in deep shit!”

Jaeho was speaking in a desperate manner, yet, Miyun reacted unenthusiastically.

- That’s your problem. It has nothing to do with me. Even if people bad-mouth me, it isn’t as if my wealth will be affected. If it gets too loud, I’ll just go live in a different country for a short time.

It seemed Miyun had a mind of steel. Jaeho was a bit jealous of her mindset.

“If the truth becomes known, your money won’t matter. You’ll be put in jail!”

- It doesn’t matter how famous he is. It also doesn’t matter that you have a bad reputation. Nothing will happen without evidence. You and I made sure to erase all of it. 

When Miyun’s attitude didn’t change, Jaeho ground his teeth.

- Well, I do have a prior relationship with you, so I won’t let your words fall on deaf ears. Tell me. What do you want?

“I want you to make sure he doesn’t say anything bad to the press.”

- That would be ideal for you. Of course, you do realize that there will be a price, right?

“How much?”

- This is why I like you.

He could hear a tinkling laugh through his phone.

- I want a million in advance. If I succeed, I want three million dollars.

“Alright.”

Jaeho didn’t think too deeply about it and just agreed to the deal. Of course, four million dollars was big sum, but it was cheap if he could get her to silence Sungyoon.

- Hmm. You agreed to it without making a fuss. I must have given a low figure. Then I want to double it. I want two million in advance, and if I succeed, I want six.

“You b…!”

He wanted to track her down and pull out her tongue. However, that would be detrimental to him.

“… Alright.”

Jaeho growled as he agreed to the price. If she pulled another trick on him, he promised to himself that he would get his revenge against her. He thought about how he would make her suffer.

However, it seemed Miyun was satisfied. She no longer raised the price.

- It isn’t as if you’ll be the only one paying money to me, so I’ll be satisfied with that amount. We have an agreement. You can transfer the money into the usual account.

“I will. So what are you planning to do?”

Jaeho asked in a dejected manner as if someone had stolen money right under his nose. The voice on the other side of the handphone, however, sounded very happy.

- Mr. Jaeho. Being a mom is really amazing. Don’t you agree?

“Crazy bitch….”

In the end, that was the only thing he could say. However, Miyun was Miyun. She never changed.

- I’d rather be a rich crazy bitch than a virtuous broke woman.

Her words almost sounded like she was quoting a scripture.

“Alright. I’ll transfer two million dollars before the day ends.”

- I’ll be looking forward to it!

After saying those words, Miyun ended the call.

For now, Jaeho was done making preparations against Sungyoon. He turned his eyes toward the next order of business. Sungyoon wasn’t the only one causing him trouble.

‘I’ll turn down all interviews for now.’

Since Sungyoon became famous, the press had started to dig into Sungyoon’s past, and they were starting to pick up a scent.

This was ultimately why Jaeho was nervous about his dealings with Sungyoon. He had to put this to bed somehow.

It was good fortune that he could use his work as an excuse to get out of the interview, but when one considered the problem he was having, it wasn’t a good fortune at all. His excuse was another source of his problem.

‘Where the hell am I supposed to acquire the moonstones?’

Jaeho’s company refined moonstones. The technology he stole from Sungyoon was related to processing the moonstones.

Even if his refining technology was excellent, it meant nothing if he didn’t have moonstones to refine. 

The current mess in Armstrong city meant that his supply chain had been broken.

‘It would be great if this is a temporary problem.’

He prayed for Armstrong city to return to its normal state.

‘I have to get a foot into the new city.’

If he could somehow invest in the second Lunar city, he would be able to acquire moonstones more easily.

In many ways, his situation had gotten complicated. Jaeho put his hands on his head as he started making contingency plans.

***

Sungyoon tried his best to spend time and play with Shinhae. Today, he had brought her to a really big zoo.

“Dad! It’s a lion!”

Shinhae yelled out when she saw a male lion walking with its stylish mane fluttering in the wind. She continued enthusiastically speaking.

“I know about the lion! It's the king of the jungle!”

“Oh, oh! Shinhae knows about that?”

As always, Sungyoon responded to his daughter’s words in an exaggerated manner. 

Shinhae puffed up her chest as if she was proud of herself. However, her eyes shook when she heard Sungyoon’s next question.

“What's the jungle?”

“Jungle? Yes... Uhh...”

It seemed she had heard the expression from somewhere, but she had no idea what jungle was. Normally, she would admit her ignorance, but this time, she had already acted as if she knew what that phrase meant. Her pride wouldn’t allow her to admit her ignorance.

What would Shinhae say? 

Sungyoon was half-amused and half-looking forward to it.

Shinhae clapped her hands, then she pointed toward the lion.

“It's where they are king!”

Sungyoon exploded. He clutched at his stomach as he laughed. However, it seemed Shinhae was satisfied with her answer. She once again placed her hands on her hip and puffed up her chest.

“I see. The jungle is where the lions are king.”

“Yes!”

“It seems Dad learned something amazing from Shinhae. The lion must be strong since it's a king.”

“Yes! The lion is really strong! It's the king!”

“Should I tell you something amazing, Shinhae?”

“Hmm?”

Sungyoon flexed his two arms as he spoke.

“Dad is stronger than the lion.”

Shinhae’s eyes turned round.

“Really?”

“Of course! Dad can win against ten lions!”

“Ooh-wahhhhhhhhh!”

Shinhae’s eyes shone. Others might call his actions corny, but Sungyoon was very satisfied with Shinhae’s reaction.

His daughter was looking at him with admiration in her eyes. A father would always be filled with confidence if his daughter looked at him like that.

Sungyoon continued to flex his arms for a while, then he grabbed Shinhae’s hand.

“Shall we go eat?”

“Steak!”

It seemed Shinhae had already changed her mind on what she wanted. She now wanted steak instead of tonkatsu.

‘Do they sell steak here?’

With the hope that they did, Sungyoon went into a restaurant within the zoo.

Unfortunately, the restaurant shattered his hopes.

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