“Is work going well?”
“Yes. We didn't experience any signs indicating that the Golems would re-emerge. The specialized equipment is also working well.”
The excavation equipment had been created by using Mana-Knight and the Golems' remains.
Until recently, the walls of the labyrinths could only be destroyed by high rank Connectors using high rank Gems. But now, this equipment could also easily crush the labyrinth walls and Mana-Knight. It had become an essential piece of equipment.
“How’s the output rate?”
“We're slowly ramping up the production. For now, we're just gaining experience in mining in the labyrinth."
“We have a lot of buyers lined up. Most countries and companies are trying to get their hands on this material. I don’t want you to overwork yourselves, but I would like you to excavate as much Mana-Knight as possible.”
Sungyoon reminded the muscled man.
“As expected, this has to do with the secondary property of Mana-Knight, right?”
Mana-Knight was an energy source that could generate more energy than most moonstones, and on top of that, normal people could excavate them. Just these facts alone made the ore a premium commodity.
However, a new use of Mana-Knight was discovered recently.
“After all the magical energy is extracted, Mana-Knight can be processed to make bullets that work against monsters.”
All human weapons were powerless against the monsters. However, the bullets made out of Mana-Knight could pierce through the defense of the monsters. The world was being threatened by the increasing appearances of monsters. Then there was the demonic monster that even Sungyoon couldn’t defeat. It was still loose on Earth.
In these desperate times, a new weapon that could allow humans to fight against the monsters had appeared. It was a blessing to humanity. All the countries were waiting for their shipment of Mana-Knight, so they could defend their lands.
“Thank you for your hard work. I'll add a big fat bonus at the end, and it’ll grow fatter depending on how much you can excavate.”
“Ha ha ha! That sounds like music to my ears.”
The muscled man was a lifelong miner, and that was the only thing he knew how to do.
As a normal human, he had come into a labyrinth crawling with monsters. He would die from magical poisoning without the magical energy eliminator. So he’d rather receive more money than a compliment from his employer.
After having a cursory look around the site, Sungyoon turned away.
“Are those two doing better?”
Chelsea asked as she approached Sungyoon. She was concerned about Emily and Grace.
“They are fine. I’m the one who suggested the break in the first place. If I hadn't made that call, they would've probably gone straight into the Great Labyrinth. For now, Ms. Grace and Ms. Emily haven’t bothered to return to their own countries. They are going on trips around Korea with Jimin and Jiyoon week in, week out. I just don’t know when those four got so close.”
Sungyoon shook his head from side to side, but Chelsea knew exactly why the four women were so close. If it weren’t for her research, she would've joined the group on the trips too.
“Well, it's good to hear that those two are doing well. Please say hello to them on my behalf and tell them to have fun.”
At that moment, Chelsea's expression contained envy.
Dongin’s head had started to hurt a lot in recent days. In order to bury the information about the death of Jungbum, he had continued to interfere with Jimin’s business and even been successful to a certain extent in the past. Then, everything went to hell when Sungyoon showed up.
‘I want to kill him somehow, but I just can’t find the right opportunity.’
For some odd reason, Dongin felt suspicious of Hyunwoo now. So he intended to order his new subordinate to kill Sungyoon, but he could never find the right opportunity.
‘There’s too much attention on him. I can act more freely when the interest in him cools down, but he always seems to be at the center of big events.’
Considering the amount of interest Jimin had shown toward Woo Sungyoon, Dongin was sure she would give up on her obsession with the Great Labyrinth if Sungyoon died. However, Dongin was having a very hard time finding the final straw that would break the camel’s back.
‘The current lay of the land in politics is too dangerous for me to directly act. I might have to go about this in a roundabout way like I did with Kim Soobin.’
Dongin scratched his chin.
‘Didn’t that bastard have a friend that he had a falling out with?’
The news outlets had made it known that one of Sungyoon's past friends had a complicated history with Sungyoon, and this friend was pretty much public enemy number one in Korea right now.
‘If I use him...’
Dongin’s eyes twinkled.
The half-year rest for Sungyoon's party was finally over. This was the first long break Sungyoon had ever taken since becoming a Connector. So he used the opportunity to play a lot with Shinhae.
In the break, his party members had enacted the dastardly plan of bringing Shinhae to their side. And thus, they were able to make Sungyoon travel all over Korea with them. They even went to foreign countries several times.
After he was betrayed by his friend and wife, this was the first time Sungyoon felt so comfortable and overjoyed. He still had no idea about the demonic monster's whereabouts, so there was always a bit of worry in the back of his head.
Yet, it was overall a peaceful vacation for them. However, Sungyoon and his comrades had started feeling the desire to go back to the Moon in the midst of their break. It had only worsened with time.
This was the inevitable fate of a Connector, and it made them move back into action once again.
“It really has been a while!”
After exiting the Aldrin spaceport, Grace immediately stretched her arms into the air at the sight of the familiar city.
Armstrong city could only function within the inorganic gray dome, and at times, it was a very dreary place to be. However, the party hadn’t seen this place for the past half-year, so the gray walls looked welcoming to them.
It also helped that their yearning for the Moon subsided when they stepped onto the Moon. The party headed toward Sungyoon’s luxury mansion.
“Oh my! You're back?”
Chelsea was in her usual stained lab coat, and she was lying on the living room’s sofa.
Sungyoon greeted her back and asked.
“How have you been?”
“Really great! I had this large mansion to myself. Of course, I was comfortable.”
“It seems you used very little water and electricity. The bill I received wasn’t that high.”
“You let me use this amazing building for free. I didn’t want to impose any further.”
Unlike on Earth, electricity and water cost a lot up here. Since Chelsea was living in this building, she had to use the utility, but she did her best to minimize how much resources she used. Also, she occasionally had to live at the lab for her research for long periods.
“How was your half-year vacation?”
Chelsea looked over Sungyoon and the others.
“It was amazing. It had been a while since I was able to rest like that.”
Emily and Grace looked at each other and laughed. It seemed the two women had gotten really close during the break.
“I’m really jealous. So, are you planning on entering the Great Labyrinth tomorrow?”
“Of course. That’s our job.”
Sungyoon sat in front of Chelsea.
“Did anything unusual happen on the Moon while we were gone?”
“It's always the same here. The only different thing that I can think of right now is the fact that the mining in the Beginner’s Labyrinth is fully operational now. Also, the central hub of Gagarin·Yang city was finished.”
It was a weird name, but that was what the Lunar city created by Russia and China had been named. The name came from the first astronauts sent into space by the two countries.
A political battle had happened between Russia and China on the name of their city. That was the reason the city had been nameless for a long time. However, the two countries had compromised in the end. It was also apparent that the Russian name came first, so it seemed Russia had scored a minor victory in the process.
“It seems since the previous Russian base had been quite large, they had an easier time building the Gagarin·Yang city. Anyway, the two countries will have a big announcement tomorrow.”
Chelsea had received this news beforehand due to some personal connections.
“The wrinkles on the mayor of Armstrong will deepen with this.”
“It's to be expected. The Connectors in Gagarin·Yang city have already cleared all the Golems from the labyrinths near their Great Labyrinth. The city management is close to starting their mining of Mana-Knight.”
As of right now, the only place in Armstrong where Mana-Knight was being extensively excavated was the Beginner’s Labyrinth, which was owned by Sungyoon.
“According to the rumors, Gagarin·Yang city management wants to see if there are more things to excavate. So they're indiscriminately excavating the walls of the labyrinth.”
“Is that a good idea?”
Tim, who had been quietly listening, spoke up.
“I have no idea. However, one thing is for sure. They will pull out all stops to overtake Armstrong city.”
“I just hope they don’t take it too far.”
Tim shook his head from side to side and went into his room.
“There is no way something bad would happen, right?”
Emily looked very worried.
However, Sungyoon was unable to give her a clear answer.
“I’m not sure. We can only hope.”
Sungyoon’s party entered the Great Labyrinth.
Each floor of the Great Labyrinth was like a different world, and the party arrived where they had left off last time. It was the end of the initial stage of the Great Labyrinth.
The four of them stood in front of a cave. After passing through this cave, they would see another version of the Great Labyrinth, something they had never experienced before.
“Are you ready?”
Sungyoon asked, and his party members nodded.
The party entered the cave. The tunnel wasn’t that long, and soon, they arrived a small clearing.
The clearing was shaped like a dome, and inside it were numerous tunnels leading to all directions. It really looked like a labyrinth now.
In normal labyrinths, the party could enter the tunnels at random. However, it worked differently here in the Great Labyrinth.
“Which region were we assigned to?”
Tim looked around the cave as he asked.
After taking out a paper, Sungyoon pointed toward a tunnel. The party headed toward it.
“The fact that everyone has to share the Great Labyrinth is aggravating enough. I can’t believe each region is divided amongst the various companies.”
After the initial stages, the Great Labyrinth was structured in a manner befitting its name.
A lot of information regarding the initial stages were public amongst the Connectors. However, this was no longer true for the floors beyond that. All the companies whose Connectors entered the Great Labyrinth hid the information about the lower floors of the Great Labyrinth.
The public knew very little about what was on those floors. Moreover, Armstrong allowed companies to monopolize a tunnel. Of course, one couldn’t monopolize the tunnels as soon as one got past the initial stages. One had to move fairly deep into that region of the labyrinth first.
For Connectors and companies alike, the Great Labyrinth was the most important labyrinth. It was a place of prestige and also a place where they made the most money. So, to further their interests, everyone actively stopped the spread of information. This was also one of the reasons so few Connectors attempted the Great Labyrinth.
“I’m confirming this for the last time. Are you sure you're all ok with this?”
Sungyoon asked his party members.
They had been assigned a region within the Great Labyrinth. It was the region where Jimin’s father had gone missing, and also the region that Fabion had given up on before moving to a different region.
Due to that, this region had been empty until now, and Jungbum was fortunate enough to be assigned to this region. However, this business was only between Sungyoon and Jimin, and his party members had no obligations to enter this region for Jimin's sake.
“We are also affiliated with Jungbum.”
“Yes. Please don’t overthink this.”
Tim and Emily spoke one after another, and Grace also smiled.
“We have to clear the Great Labyrinth. Who cares which region we pass through?”
Sungyoon understood the will of his comrades, so he stopped asking further questions. The party entered the tunnel they were assigned to.
“What do the middle stages of the Great Labyrinth feel like?”
“I’m not sure. I didn’t want to put Sir Russell in an awkward position, so I refrained from asking him about it.”
If Grace had asked for it, Russell would've told her everything. It was his personality. However, his company would be unhappy about it since that information was proprietary information. And Grace knew better.
“Well, it can’t be that bad. We just have to defeat all the monsters like before.”
Tim's voice contained his usual confidence.
Whenever Sungyoon went on missions to defeat the Golems, he would evolve his party members' Gems. So, Tim was overflowing with confidence thanks to his fancier Gems. However, he had clearly jumped the gun with the statement.
When the party reached the end of the tunnel, Tim took a step forward. But a scream escaped his mouth as he was sent flying upward.
The party looked up in surprise.
They heard the sound of an item hitting the ground. Tim had hit the ceiling, but he quickly got up, so it seemed he wasn’t hurt too badly. However, the situation was odd. Tim, who was stuck to the ceiling, looked down at Sungyoon and the rest of his comrades.
“Huh? How did you get up there?”
“What do you mean! You're the one that's up on the ceiling! See, that's why I asked you to be more careful!”
Thankfully, Tim hadn't shown any adverse effects, so Emily berated him in a rapid fashion. She continued berating him on behalf of the rest of them.
As the siblings bickered, Sungyoon had an idea. He took out a bread from his storage Gem and tossed it in front of him.
The bread flew in an arc until it reached a certain point, then it suddenly surged upward.
No, it wasn’t surging upward. It was more apt to say that the bread was falling upward.
It seemed the Great Labyrinth was more bizarre and dangerous than what they had assumed.Previous Chapter Next Chapter