Sungyoon sat in a white corridor with a tired expression.
He let out a sigh. Even though he had joined to help the researchers carry out their experiment, things had gone sideways.
The door next to him opened, and Sungyoon stood up from his chair. When he saw who it was, he asked.
“How are you?”
Chelsea walked up to him and responded.
“They didn't find anything abnormal for now. However, they want to do a couple more tests, so I’ll be in and out of the hospital for the next few days.”
“That's good to hear.”
Sungyoon relaxed a little when he heard the diagnosis.
“Yes. I was fortunate. Also, Armstrong will pay for my hospital fee since I was injured during a research expedition. I would have gone bankrupt if I were the one who had to pay for it.”
Even the extremely expensive US healthcare system paled in comparison to the cost of healthcare in Armstrong.
Moreover, all the tests performed on Chelsea had been done with expensive equipment. It wasn’t something that the salary of a researcher could handle.
The two of them exited the hospital.
“How did the incident resolve itself?”
Since Chelsea was injured, she had been immediately sent back to Armstrong city. Thus, she knew very little about the ambush.
“The ambushers went into hiding inside a nearby labyrinth. It's believed that they were hiding there from the start. We couldn’t catch the one shooting the arrows though. Since it could've been a trap, we gave up on tracking them down and just sealed the entrance to the labyrinth.”
“… How many casualties did we suffer?”
“All the researchers in our Moon Surface vehicle passed away. One Connector died too.”
Chelsea bit her lips.
Everyone who had died in the destruction of the Moon Surface Vehicle had been her coworker. They usually worked with different research teams, yet she had been acquainted with every one of them. So the incident shook her.
Also, a Connector whom she had never met had died too.
“Who ambushed us?”
Chelsea’s eyes turned red, and her voice expressed the feelings in her heart.
“I have no idea. However, we’ll find out soon. Armstrong is going to mobilize all of its elite Connectors and search every corner of that labyrinth. We’ll be able to catch a couple of them at the very least.”
The ambushers had attacked an official research mission team of Armstrong city, and it led to a significant number of casualties.
If these people had died to the Golems during the experiment, Armstrong could've accepted their loss. However, they were ambushed by an unknown group, and the higher-ups of Armstrong city would never forgive such a slight.
It started with the Golems attacking Armstrong. Then there was the rise and subsequent destruction of Gagarin·Yang city. Moreover, monsters now occupied a part of the Moon. It all culminated to make the higher-ups of Armstrong city react in an almost hysterical manner when it came to safety.
“So I won’t be able to go to Earth for the near future. I do have a track record now.”
Although Sungyoon had done it for Shinhae, he had clearly ignored the summons from Armstrong.
The higher-ups of Armstrong city intended to keep him in Armstrong city until this incident settled down.
‘That's why I have to quickly resolve this problem.’
Of course, Armstrong wanted the same thing as Sungyoon. They wanted to finish the search within a month.
“Mr. Sungyoon… The man in the black armor...”
‘Ms. Chelsea noticed it too?’
It was to be expected. Chelsea was Jimin’s best friend, and it was likely that Jimin had shown the picture to her too.
“Do you think he's Jimin’s father? It can’t be, right?”
“… I’m not sure.”
A conversation had been impossible at that time since they had been in space. Sungyoon could only watch as the ambushers had gone into hiding in the labyrinth.
“We’ll find out for sure when we catch them.”
‘I can't tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing.’
Jimin had contracted Sungyoon with only the Great Labyrinth in mind. Her primary goal was to find traces of her missing father, and these traces did appear; it was just that they had appeared in an unexpected place, on the surface of the Moon in front of Sungyoon.
If Jungbum was still alive, that was the best news possible for Jimin. However, there was a problem. The Connector who was armed like Jungbum had attacked humans. Moreover, he had gone against Armstrong.
Chelsea knew this too, so she was careful in what she said.
“Ahjussi’s body was never found.”
“I already know about that.”
“… Should we tell Jimin about this?”
“… I’ll speak to the president later on. It might be someone else wearing the same armor. Nothing has been confirmed yet.”
“I understand. I’ll leave it up to you to determine the appropriate time.”
A subdued atmosphere descended between the two as they stopped talking.
Dongin’s face hardened as he looked at the screen.
“Are you sure that bastard isn’t alive?
The screen displayed Hyunwoo's face. Although it wasn't the same as Dongin, Hyunwoo’s face had an ugly expression too.
- There is no way he could be. I cut off his head. You checked the corpse too.
Hyunwoo spoke as he raised his hand.
A Gem embedded in his bracelet let out an ominous light.
Dongin’s face softened a little.
“Then who is it?”
- I can only think of one possibility.
“Is it them?”
- The probability is high. No, they are the only ones I can think of. I saw one of them in Gagarin·Yang city.
Dongin’s face distorted.
“I should have killed them all at that time….”
- It couldn’t be helped. Jungbum interfered a lot.
In a flash, a deep murderous intent appeared on Hyunwoo’s face for an instant. This aura was directed toward Jungbum.
“Where the hell did so many of them appear from?”
- I have no idea. However, I didn’t see the one that we failed to kill.
“It's to be expected. Whatever! We’ll get our answer when we find them.”
Dongin’s eyes flashed.
“We’ll use the entire might of our company. Take everyone that is in the loop. When those bastards show up on the surface of the Moon again, slaughter them all! If anyone else finds out what we did, kill them too! Also, you have to recover all their special Gems! Do you understand me!”
Hyunwoo nodded. However, no emotions appeared on his face, and it was impossible to tell what his true intentions were.
They reached the labyrinth where the unknown ambushers had hidden. It was one of the labyrinths under the stewardship of Armstrong, so no one had paid attention to it before.
However, right now, many Moon Surface Vehicles were parked in front of the labyrinth. A punitive force had come to take down the ambushers.
All the Connectors gathered inside the largest Moon Surface Vehicle. The commander dispatched by Armstrong stood in front of a large screen, and he briefed the Connectors about the mission.
“This is the structure of the labyrinth that you will enter.”
The screen displayed a 3D model of the labyrinth, and the Commander continued.
“This labyrinth is quite small, and the lowest floor is the 8th floor. Only middle to low rank monsters appear in the labyrinth. None of you will have a hard time dispatching these monsters. The problem will be the Connectors we are hunting down.”
The Commander brought down his pointer as if he were about to hit someone’s hands. Then he turned to look at the Connectors.
“Eight people ambushed Armstrong’s research unit. Nine, if we include the archer from the back. However, it's possible that they may have more allies hidden within the labyrinth.”
On the screen, large circles appeared at different locations within the labyrinth.
“As instructed before, we will form groups. Each group will start at different sections, and we will enclose the net. We’ll start from the first floor.”
A dull sound erupted when the pointer hit the screen, and the commander coldly shouted.
“These people ambushed researchers without battle capabilities. They are brutes that even killed one of your comrades who tried to protect the researchers. If it's possible, we would like to capture them alive to extract information. However, it's fine even if you kill them. Show them the consequence of messing with Armstrong city.”
With those words, the briefing came to an end. The Connectors spoke amongst each other as they headed toward the entryway of the Moon Surface vehicle. Sungyoon’s party got up to return to their own vehicle.
Someone grabbed Sungyoon’s shoulder. Sungyoon turned his head to look backward and saw someone familiar waving his hand.
“Mr. Hyunwoo, how have you been?”
“I’m always doing good.”
“I’m here too.”
Jinsoo popped out from behind Hyunwoo and greeted them.
Sungyoon’s party and two Connectors acquainted with each other.
However, they didn’t know each other well, so the atmosphere was a bit awkward. Hyunwoo patted Sungyoon’s shoulder and spoke.
“You really do get into all sorts of trouble. Why don’t you go get an exorcism or something?”
“I know a good shaman. Would you like an introduction?”
Jinsoo weighed in.
Since he had nothing to say, Sungyoon kept his mouth shut. However, he soon opened it to ask something.
“Mr. Hyunwoo. The black-armored foe that I saw...”
“I heard about it. His armor was similar to that worn by Jungbum, right?”
“It was beyond similar. In the past, Ms. Jimin showed me a picture. The armor in the picture and the one I saw were the same.”
Hyunwoo stroked his chin.
“Still, it can’t be Jungbum. I hesitated to say this in front of Jimin before, but I know he’s dead even if we never recovered his body. Someone probably recovered his gear and is now using it. It's the more likely explanation.”
“Now that I think about it, how did Mr. Hahn Jungbum die?”
Even Jimin had not divulged this piece of information to Sungyoon.
“It's a long story, and I really don’t want to think about it.”
“Is that so?”
Seeing Hyunwoo’s emphatic refusal, Sungyoon decided to not push the matter any further. Hyunwoo probably didn't want to recall the memories of his close friend dying, and it would be rude to ask any further.
“So, who are these ambushers?”
Grace mumbled the question as if she wanted to organize the information in her head.
The one to answer was Hyunwoo.
“We have no idea. Too little information. They might be a force trying to keep Armstrong city in check.”
Hyunwoo glanced at Jinsoo, and Jinsoo added.
“It might be 'The Rejected’, who attacked Mr. Sungyoon before.”
Was he desperately trying to keep a poker face? Hyunwoo wondered what kind of emotions Jinsoo was feeling at that moment.
Jinsoo was successful in maintaining that expression.
“Or it might be someone totally unexpected with some unknown motive. Anyway, we’ll find out their identity once we capture and interrogate one of them. That’s the only way to know for sure.”
It wasn’t a satisfying answer, but Grace nodded.
Hyunwoo once again spoke to Sungyoon.
“Well, let’s do our best. A large contingent of Connectors from Fabion is participating in this mission too. If you need anything, just come talk to us.”
“I did notice that.”
Over half of the Connectors in this plan was from Fabion. In fact, they made almost two-thirds of the total. These Connectors all had great abilities, and on top of that, they had Sung Hyunwoo with them.
“Our president moved his heavy butt thanks to your exploits. Even if you're a Connector from Jimin’s company, we are rivals. You and Jimin are creating waves in Korea, and he wants to keep both of you close.”
“We aren’t as good as Fabion.”
“I think he’s being too sensitive, but anyone in his position has to be like that.”
“Don't worry too much about it. He would never attack Jungbum. You know about the relationship between the President and Jimin. Then there’s the relationship between you and me.”
Sungyoon let out a bitter laugh.
Even if their company was going through a rapid expansion, they were still way too far from reaching Fabion's level.
Hyunwoo and Jinsoo waved their hands as they exited the Moon Surface vehicle.
The Connectors gathered in front of the entrance to the labyrinth to subjugate the unknown ambushers. All of them were Connectors wearing high-rank Gems. They reflected the anger of Armstrong city.
This was highlighted by the presence of one of the leading companies in the world, Fabion. It was represented in the presence of Sung Hyunwoo.
The bone conduction earbuds transmitted the order to everyone.
- Let’s start the rabbit hunt.
The Connectors started to enter into the labyrinth.Previous Chapter Next Chapter