Chapter 218

“What’s the price?”

“It’ll be quite high. By the amount of money in my bank account, I’m sure of it.”

As of right now, the only fully operational Mana-Knight mine belonged to Sungyoon since he had full rights to the Beginner’s Labyrinth. The number in his bank account was rising at a frightening rate.

“Weapons are like that. They are money eating monsters.”

“Still, we can't spray into the monsters like a machine gun.”

As the party conversed, the vehicles in front of them decelerated. Tim checked the navigation.

“Huh? We still have a long ways to go. What’s going on?”

Sungyoon parked next to the vehicles that had come to a stop. As the clouds of dust dissipated, the party saw it. Tim pressed his surprised face against the front window.

“… Why are they here?”

Groups of monsters were roaming the desolate surface of the Moon.

“It seems the situation is worse than we thought.”

Sungyoon let go of the driving wheel and got up. A message came just in time.

- Everyone, exit the vehicles. Don’t forget to wear the bone conduction earbuds. 

When the commander of the rescue mission made an announcement, a subtle shift appeared in the party's mood.

“Can we trust that guy?”

Tim’s voice was full of distrust.

“He’s the commander hired by Armstrong. He has the requisite skills.”

“Still, he's a regular human. Does he even know about the nature of Connectors? I heard he is a veteran. However, there is a world of difference between commanding soldiers and commanding Connectors.”

In recent days, many incidents had taken place where numerous Connectors had to work with each other to solve a problem. Therefore, Armstrong thought they needed professional help to coordinate and command large groups of Connectors. They couldn’t always pick out a Connector to lead each time they conducted a mission. Thus, Armstrong had picked a commander, who was now riding in Moon Surface Vehicle at the front.

However, none of the Connectors welcomed this news. Even Tim had a hard time accepting the reasons laid out by Grace, and Grace felt the same despite her words.

‘We aren’t an organization formed to conduct large scale battles.’

The thought came to Sungyoon's mind as he listened to the two converse. Connectors usually fought as a small party against monsters. They were not an organization that fought large-scale battles, and it was almost impossible to order tens, hundreds, and thousands of Connectors.

Each Connector had a wildly different battle capability and battle style. They weren’t suited to be soldiers in an army. In fact, Connectors preferred fighting against large numbers of opponents in a small group. 

However, Sungyoon's party was about to go into a battle, and Tim was strongly expressing his distrust of the Commander. Sungyoon couldn’t let that stand. After exiting the Moon Surface Vehicle, they would lose the ability to verbally communicate with each other. They would have to rely on the orders given through the bone-conducting earbuds.

“It’ll be fine. The Mayor and all the party leaders had a meeting before we left. All the concerns brought up by Mr. Tim were discussed in that meeting. The Mayor also had long conversations with the Commander where he emphasized the difference between Connectors and soldiers.”

Tim’s distrust lessened a little bit.

“Moreover, the Commander is aware it’ll be difficult to command the Connectors. He went through numerous simulations, and the Mayor assigned two Connectors to be his aides. Unlike your worries, he isn’t going into this without any clear plans. If you're still worried, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt first.”

“Understood.”

Tim shut his mouth since these words were coming out of Sungyoon's mouth.

The party then exited their vehicle.

- We’ll sweep the nearby region. Kill all the monsters. I want team A to D to execute this plan. The rest will be on standby.

Sungyoon’s party had been named team G. As Sungyoon glanced in the distance, he saw that all of their opponents were low-level monsters. The Connectors would be able to take care of the monsters without much problem.

The four teams shot forward like lightning and slaughtered the approaching monsters. Even if the monsters had left the labyrinths, they couldn’t let go of their habit of rushing the Connectors on sight. The monsters didn't care that their comrades were being slaughtered, and they just charged at the Connectors.

Of course, the Connectors preferred this.

***

The reinforcement advanced at a steady pace, as the monsters roaming the Moon were not a threat. However, the group's fighting force was slowly diminishing in size.

“He left behind another team.”

Emily, who had worn her helmet, looked through the rear window of the Moon Surface Vehicle with a worried expression. She watched the receding figure of the vehicle behind them. Grace walked up next to her and also peered out the window.

“He’s thinking about the possibility of a retreat, so he wants to secure our path. Still, it's a concern that our force keeps getting smaller.”

“It’ll be almost impossible to rescue the city.”

“That looks more and more likely.”

The reinforcement group was killing every monster in their path, yet more monsters kept showing up. In trying to save the city, their force was in danger of being surrounded.

That was why the Commander had started to make preparations for a path in case a tactical withdrawal was needed. But, these preparations were decreasing the size of their fighting force, and the Connectors were having doubts.

It happened at that moment.

“I can see something.”

Tim saw a cloud of dust across the horizon. 

The vehicles in front of him increased their speed. Sungyoon followed suit and pressed on the gas pedal. After a while, the reinforcement group met up with a half-destroyed Moon Surface Vehicle.

“They must be survivors.”

Tim spoke in a low voice as he watched several bloody figures exit the half-destroyed Moon Surface Vehicles. However, these Connectors looked fine considering the situation. They had probably healed themselves with their Gems.

“I hope we gain some useful information.”

“Some positive news would be good.”

While Emily and Grace conversed, Sungyoon put his chin on the driver’s wheel and saw the survivors enter the Commander’s vehicle.

After a while, the Commander's voice got their attention.

- Everyone... I have some bad news.

- Our destination was completely destroyed.

“Shit!”

Tim cursed.

- However, we’ll continue forward. We have to get as close to the city and acquire as much information as possible. This is for the safety of Armstrong City, so please be understanding of my decision.

“His decision was to be expected.”

“Still, I don't believe we will encounter a fierce battle as we had thought before.”

Sungyoon replied to Grace. He then watched the survivors head back into the half-broken Moon Surface Vehicle. Since they had their backs against him, Sungyoon couldn’t see the peculiar smile on their lips.

***

Two Ogres kept swinging their arms. Sungyoon lowered his body to dodge the first attack and sidestepped to dodge the second. The Ogres lost sight of Sungyoon, and they became confused. Sungyoon kicked the one nearest to him, and his immense strength sent the muscular Ogre stumbling into its comrade. Then, as if he were trying to make a shish-kebab, Sungyoon skewered both Ogres at the same time.

Flash!

A light erupted, and if there had been air, a thunderclap would have rung out too.

The charred remains of the Ogres fell to the ground. Sungyoon retrieved the moonstones and looked at his surroundings. His party members and the other Connectors had finished their battles for the most part.

The number of Connectors into the reinforcement group had significantly lessened. Only three parties had reached this point, of which one was left behind to protect the command vehicle. Sungyoon's team and another team were out to investigate.

Sungyoon gave the signal, and his party ascended the slope. They walked inside a crater created long ago due to an asteroid's impact. When the party reached the highest point of the crater, they had an obstructed view of their surroundings.

Sungyoon tapped at his communication device.

- Did you arrive?

Sungyoon replied by tapping once on the earbud. It meant ‘Yes'.

- How is it?

Sungyoon took out his binoculars and saw some artificial structures on the horizon. It was the Gagarin·Yang city. However, it could hardly be called a city now. Ruin would be a more apt name.

The city's protective outer walls had fallen. Most of its buildings lay in ruins, while others were charred black.

Tap! Tap!

Sungyoon tapped his earbud twice. He was answering in the negative and signaling that the city had fallen.

- I see. Is it possible to get close?

Sungyoon moved his binoculars toward the locations outside the city. Black dots swarming all over the place came into his view. He had never seen this many monsters in his life before. Even the numerous self-destructing crystal monsters paled in comparison.

Moreover, this group of monsters included many stronger ones.

Sungyoon again tapped his earbud twice.

- Alright. Well done.

Someone took pictures next to him. The expensive telescopic camera captured several pictures of the fallen city and the roaming monsters. Another person filmed a video.

‘They are gathering evidence.’

This was why Sungyoon was sent to verify the destruction of the city. His words were worth gold.

- Are you done gathering information?

When Sungyoon saw the two Connectors put away the camera and camcorder, he tapped his earbud once.

- Good job. Come back.

That was the end of the reinforcement group's mission.

***

‘They are gone.’

Hyunwoo put down his binoculars.

‘As expected, they included Woo Sungyoon in the mission.’

He knew why the Mayor had sent Sungyoon on the mission.

‘That man really is amazing.’

Sungyoon had gained the trust of Armstrong's mayor in a very short amount of time. After all, his skills and achievements were extraordinary.

‘If he continues to grow at this pace, he’ll be able to fulfill my expectations.’

“What are you doing?”

Hyunwoo lowered his binoculars when Glaia slithered up next to him.

“The reinforcement from Armstrong was visiting, so I was peeking at them.”

“Are you sure they didn’t notice you?”

“Why do you think we're hiding here?”

The two were inside a room in a destroyed building. The room was a space designated for emergencies, so it still contained air, which allowed them to converse. Even if Sungyoon possessed high-powered binoculars, he would be unable to see the two.

“Are you interested in all of that?”

Hyunwoo pointed toward the items in Glaia's arms. Her arms held cradled cups, bowls, flashlights, and other items.

“The objects used by humans are amazing.”

“I’ll bring back more for you.”

Glaia sat next to Hyunwoo and looked outside.

“Humans are so foolish. I’m thankful that they eliminated the Golems for us, but they shouldn’t have destroyed the labyrinths to that extent. Due to their actions, we had to take this unnecessary risk. If they hadn't done it, this city would still be flourishing.”

“It was a tragedy created by ignorance.”

Hyunwoo picked up an alcohol bottle and downed its contents.

“Are they all gone?”

“I believe so. They got better things to do than stay near a city crawling with monsters.”

Hyunwoo picked up his binoculars once again and looked at the spot where Sungyoon had been. As expected, he saw nothing. Hyunwoo aimlessly turned his binoculars to the side.

However, for a brief moment, he caught sight of something reflected above the desolate surface of the Moon. Hyunwoo, who always had a nonchalant attitude, opened his eyes wide.

‘That is...!’

He quickly turned his binoculars to the source of the reflected light. However, his eyes caught sight of nothing.

‘Did I see something wrong?’

“What is it?”

Even when Glaia asked the question, Hyunwoo’s face remained stiff as he continued to look into the binoculars.

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