Chapter 228

“Martin Pierce.”

The other two Connectors, Schneider and Harris, shook Sungyoon’s hands too. 

Since they would only remain his acquaintances, Sungyoon didn’t bother remembering their first names. All of them were Americans. The mayor of Armstrong city was American, so it was par for the course.

“It's an honor to meet the Knight of great renown.”

Schneider spoke.

“You don’t have to refer to me like that. Did you receive the general outline of the plan?”

The three Connectors looked at each other and then nodded.

“It isn’t much of a plan. Others will lure the Golems to us, and we have to defeat the Golems. Is there more to it than that?”

Pierce shrugged as he confidently spoke.

“It's very dangerous work.”

“However, we were told we’ll be able to use a special power if this goes according to plan. If that's true, it's a risk worth taking. Also, we have reliable people guarding us.”

Pierce's face was flush with excitement.

“Did they tell you about the overwhelming fear that you might feel?”

It was a fear that even Sungyoon couldn’t avoid. It was a fear due to which all other 1st Gen Connectors had given up on entering the Great Labyrinth.

“Yes. We heard about it.”

Pierce sounded a bit uncomfortable.

“However, we are very experienced in raiding labyrinths. We’ve felt fear before.”

‘They can’t comprehend what I am saying.’

These three were excited about the prospect of acquiring power. Moreover, the fear Sungyoon was talking about, they had never felt something like that before. Thus, they were filled with unfounded confidence.

‘I guess it's to be expected. People always think they are the exception to the rule.’

Arrogance wasn’t a unique thing.

“You shouldn’t underestimate—”

“Please don’t worry about it.”

Harris spoke.

He lifted his chin a bit as he looked at Sungyoon. The scene looked as if Harris was acting condescending toward Sungyoon.

“We’ve all made the preparations. A strong will and a strong mind can overcome the fear. The fear broke everyone else, but I believe we can overcome it.”

Harris then looked at Sungyoon and continued.

“Didn’t you overcome it, Knight? Or do you think only you're capable of overcoming this fear?”

“Dude….”

Seeing Harris acting in an antagonistic manner, Pierce stepped in to stop him.

“I didn’t overcome it.”

Sungyoon still sometimes dreamed about that demonic monster and felt a primal fear.

“Is that so? We’ll be a bit more careful.”

Unlike the contents of his words, Harris's tone was sarcastic.

“The Knight is very worried about us. If I didn’t know any better, I would've thought you don’t want us to acquire the same power as you.”

“Harris!”

Sungyoon stared blankly at Harris.

Pierce and Schneider tried to stop their comrade, but Harris glared back at Sungyoon with disapproval in his eyes.

‘I can see why he might think that.’

Harris thought Sungyoon was trying to intimidate them because he wanted to monopolize this special power.

‘It seems he’s been harboring ill feelings toward me before this meeting.’

That was fine. Sungyoon didn’t like meddling in other’s affairs in the first place. In fact, he felt apathetic when it came to others.

“Understood. I wish you well.”

Sungyoon turned around and left them behind.

“What a rude person!”

Chelsea yelled.

“It’s fine. I did my part in warning them. Now, it's up to them to accept or reject it.”

Sungyoon headed toward the group of Connectors stationed for guarding the three 1st Gens. When they saw Sungyoon, these Connectors laughed and cheeredMost of them knew about Sungyoon, and some had participated in the Golem extermination missions with him.

Above all else, they knew his record in the Great Golem battles.

‘He's come so far!’

Chelsea had known Sungyoon since he started his career in the Beginner’s Labrinth. She had seen the hardship and agony he had to deal with. That was why the scene taking place in front of her eyes filled her heart with warm feelings. 

However, she became abashed when she realized what she was doing.

‘What the hell? I’m not his older sister or something.’

Chelsea smiled at Sungyoon before returning to work.

***

“Why the hell did you do that, Harris?”

Pierce asked. The action of talking felt awkward as all kinds of sensors were placed around the Connectors' bodies, and they had to twist their bodies every which way to speak.

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about your behavior toward the Knight.”

Harris scrunched his face.

“What did I do?”

“You were obviously picking a fight with him.”

“He kept saying nonsensical things in the guise of giving us a warning.”

Harris grumbled.

“Fear? That’s nonsense. If what he says is true, all the 1st Gens before us are idiots. Who hasn’t felt fear before? As a Connector, who hasn’t almost lost their lives multiple times in their career? We’ve seen monsters uglier and scarier than the ones that appear in movies. We’ve faced them several thousand times. We've pushed past our fears. So why is he talking about fear? I don’t get why we have to be careful of that.

“Every one of those 1st Gens must have been fucking imbeciles.”

Harris didn’t hesitate as he spoke.

“The Knight felt it too.”

“Then the Knight is a fucking imbecile too.”

“Harris.”

Harris didn’t stop even when Pierce tried to keep him in check. In fact, Harris turned the table on Pierce by asking a question.

“What do you think, Pierce? Do you really think a fear of that magnitude exists? Do you think you’ll pee your pants and drool from the mouth from meeting the monsters in the Great Labyrinth? Can you accept that to be true?”

“That is….”

Pierce did have some doubts. 

“What about you, Schneider?”

“If everyone gives the same account, I think the information is credible.”

“I should have expected such an answer from you, pussy.”

Schneider’s eyebrows twitched, but he remained silent. It seemed Harris and Schneider had a bad relationship.

“Even if there is such a fear, I will endure it. If it’ll allow me to acquire a power large enough to beat down all those Connectors who looked down on me because I was a 1st Gen....”

These three 1st Gen Connectors were a step above a lot of 2nd Gens and 3rd Gens, yet it didn’t stop others from ignoring them. They had faced prejudice throughout their career. Moreover, many Connectors laughed behind their backs, as these three were considered studs who the government was taking care of.

‘I’ll become like him.”

Harris glared at Sungyoon, who was surrounded by a group of Connectors.

‘I’ll show everyone that I’m on a different level from those gutless 1st Gens who trembled from fear.’

***

The mission started, and the support staff moved to the rear along with the equipment. Pierce, Schneider, and Harris stood near the entrance of the labyrinth, as the other Connectors lined up nearby. Sungyoon was included in that group.

When the signal was given, a couple of Connectors entered the labyrinth. After a short amount of time, they rushed out.

‘It's coming!’

Harris tightened his grip on his mace.

‘Hurry up! Come at me!’

He psyched and amped himself up to the max.

The Golem was a foe that even Connectors with many Jewel rank Gems struggled to fight. However, Harris wasn’t worried at all.

‘It’ll give me strength!’

He didn’t think he would fail. Only losers thought about failure. The result was a done deal, so he had nothing to worry about.

‘That's how I've lived until now!’

Harris had superior abilities than other 1st Gens.

‘That power is better suited for me instead of that idiot who talks about fear!’

Boom!

If there was air, that sound would have rung out as a large shadow emerged from the dark labyrinth.

- It’s the Golem. Ready yourselves. 

The three 1st Gens heard the order through the bone conduction earbuds.

‘You don’t have to tell me. I already know.’

The Golem completely exited the labyrinth. It looked the same as the picture Harris had seen in the briefing packet.

‘This is the regular Golem.’

This Golem was the weaker one of the two types of Golems.

Boom!

Harris instantly felt a sensation. His heart had stopped beating a long time ago, yet he now felt as if his heart were beating.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

That sensation didn’t stop.

Harris let out a bright smile. He knew this was the sound that other 1st Gen Connectors heard when facing the monsters within the Great Labyrinth.

‘It’s working!’

He just needed to feel the power coursing through his body. Harris glared at the Golem.

‘Uh?’

Cold sweat started to run down his body. Something very unpleasant was crawling out of him from the depth of his soul. 

‘Is this fear?’

It was unmistakable.

‘It's a bit strong.’

However, it was only fear, and Harris had prepared himself for it. If he could suppress the fear as he had always done, he would be able to acquire that power.

‘Come at me.’

Harris glared at the Golem with all his might.

‘Huh?’

His cheeks hurt. It felt as if someone was slapping them.

“Ooh-ah, ooh-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

‘Shut up!’

Harris could hear an unmanly and ugly scream. He felt an intense hatred toward the one who had screamed.

Which idiot is it? Did he get scared of the Golem? How can he react like that when the Golem has just appeared.’

Harris told himself that he couldn’t act like that person. He was also confident that he would never show such a reaction.

‘I’ll fight the Golem now.’

For some reason, his eyesight had dimmed, so he put strength into his eyes. The light started to filter in.

‘Huh?’

The Light was coming at him from the ceiling. It wasn’t a sight that one could see on the surface of the Moon.

“Hey! Are you ok?”

“You finally came to your senses!”

Blurry figures crowded around him, and they yelled nonsensical words.

‘What the hell are they talking about….’

Harris finally realized that he was lying down somewhere.

‘Where’s the Golem? Where’s the labyrinth?’

He wanted to ask.

“Ooh, Ooh-ah-ooh, uh uh uh uh!”

However, only weird sounds came out of his mouth. Harris became flustered, and he once again tried to ask the question. But he felt as if only air leaked out of him, as the sound his mouth made resembled a deflating moan.

“Hey! You are ok now! You are safe! The Knight and the other Connectors defeated all of the Golems! You no longer have to tremble in ‘fear’!”

‘What the hell are you saying! The Golems were exterminated? I haven’t even started fighting yet!’

“Shit! Keep him down! We can’t let him harm himself any further!”

Harris felt that his body had been constrained.

‘What the hell is this! Let me go! I have to go exterminate the Golem!’

Harris kept twisting his body every which way. After a while, he looked to the side. 

It seemed he was within a Moon Surface Vehicle. Someone’s personal belongings fell, and he saw himself through a small mirror rolling across the floor.

Tears, snot, and drool covered his face that was as pale as it could be. Patches of his hair were missing. He looked like a crazy person.

Harris’s body came to a stop from the shock he felt.

“Did you calm down?”

He turned to look at the people restraining his body and tried to ask a question.

“W-What th….”

Harris was taken aback when he realized that he was having a hard time pronouncing his words. The people holding him let out a sigh of relief when they saw him uttering a word. They loosened the grip on his body.

“You and your two comrades went crazy when the Golem made its appearance. You lost all sense of reason and tried to run away at all costs. It was very hard to subdue you guys.”

Someone gently explained to Harris.

Harris finally realized something. The unmanly scream he had heard earlier had sounded like his own voice. The similarity was too uncanny. He once again thought about the Golem.

Clack-clack-clack-clack!

His teeth started to chatter as he felt uncontrollable fear, and he got into the fetal position without realizing it. The others no longer stopped him from moving.

“Don't worry about it. The Knight destroyed the Golems.”

‘Knight?’

Harris looked out the window of the Moon Surface Vehicle and saw several Connectors wrapping everything up.

One of them was Sungyoon.

Sssssk.

Sungyoon turned his head and their eyes met. Harris subconsciously avoided Sungyoon’s gaze. He remembered the Knight's warning and then his own arrogant reply.

‘Shit!’

Harris tried his best to cover his wet pants as he hid his face.

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