Chapter 233

Sungyoon returned to the Moon Surface Vehicle doubling as the command center. His group had spent three hours searching the last room, but they had failed to find any traces of their ambushers. In the end, they had to reluctantly pull back.

However, this experience wasn't unique to Sungyoon’s group.

“Did you encounter the same situation as us?”

“That’s right. We had cornered them to a dead end, but they vanished. I feel like the devil had bewitched me.”

The Connectors discussed the sudden disappearance of the ambushers. Every one of them looked despondent; all the ambushers they had come across had spirited themselves away.

“Looks like the same thing happened to everyone.”

Emily mumbled with an exhausted expression.

“Should we be glad that everyone failed? Or should we be discouraged by the fact that the ambushers pulled off this bamboozle and we don’t know how they did it?”

Tim shook his head from side to side.

“The only certainty that came out of all this was the fact that we failed to exterminate the ambushers.”

The party slumped when Grace put the nail in the coffin.

Tuhl-suhk!

At that moment, someone sat down next to Sungyoon.

“I heard you lost your targets too.”

“You too, Mr. Hyunwoo?”

“Don't get me started. We had the rabbits cornered, yet that happened. We were left dumbfounded.”

“Rabbits dig multiple holes, right? Maybe, they did something similar.”

Jinsoo spoke up as he sat next to Hyunwoo.

“I believe there's something special about the ambushers. Unless we find out—”

“Mr. Sungyoon.”

Jinsoo cut off Sungyoon. He, Hyunwoo, and Sungyoon were sitting in a row, so Jinsoo had to bend his upper body forward to see Sungyoon. With a devilish grin on his lips, he continued speaking.

“They aren’t ambushers. They are rabbits.”

Hyunwoo smirked.

‘Is he the type to care about the little details of a plan?’

Sungyoon had no qualms in accepting Jinsoo’s correction.

“Unless we find out how these rabbits got out of the labyrinth, it’ll be difficult for us to round them up.”

“This will be a big headache for the higher-ups of Armstrong city.”

Hyunwoo pondered what to recommend to Armstrong for dealing with this situation. In the end, he cackled.

“Well, it seems I’m too strong and you're too famous for Armstrong to let us be. They’ll inevitably throw a tantrum to keep us close, and we’ll have to humor them. So rest while you have the opportunity to rest.”

After leaving behind the advice, Hyunwoo got up and left. Jinsoo waved his hand and followed Hyunwoo.

“He always has an incredible and oppressive presence.”

Tim said with a sigh. He hadn’t dared to interrupt the conversation between Sungyoon and Hyunwoo, so he had kept his mouth shut and waited for the conversation to finish.

“Are you talking about Mr. Hyunwoo?”

“Yes.”

Sungyoon glanced at Hyunwoo, who was conversing with the Connectors he knew.

“He gives off an oppressive feeling?"

“He’s one of the most powerful Connectors of this world. Of course, he gives off an oppressive feeling.”

Tim shrugged. As if he wanted more opinions, he looked at his other party members. Emily hunched over a little, and her words suggested that she held a similar feeling toward Hyunwoo.

However, it was a different story with Grace. She had met high rank Connectors on the regular and knew one, Sir Russell, very well. So, like Sungyoon, she was a bit puzzled by the siblings' reactions.

“Didn’t you grow in power? You're powerful in your own right, Mr. Tim.”

“That's indeed true.”

Tim was proud of himself, so he preened a little bit. Emily poked him in his side with her elbow, and the siblings started to bicker once again.

Sungyoon was used to this playful bickering. Grace also ignored the Ross siblings as she asked Sungyoon.

“So what happened to the Gem you found?”

The Ross siblings stopped and looked at Sungyoon.

“Armstrong made a requisition request. After all, it was the only clue left behind by the ambushers, and had the blood of one of them. However, I still hold ownership over the Gem since I found it. They’ll give it back to me in short order.”

Grace nodded.

The rank of the Gem that Sungyoon had acquired was beneath her notice. It was the same for Armstrong, so they had decided to give it back to him after some observation. The Ross siblings didn’t think much of the Gem either.

Everyone changed the topic and discussed the mission.

***

Over the years, Armstrong city had become important for Earth. Moonstones were now indispensable to humanity, and Armstrong city was their supplier; Armstrong was the only middleman that linked the Moon and Earth.

If Armstrong fell, Earth would fall into chaos. Moreover, the amount of money and time required to build another Lunar city would be massive. No one on Earth wanted to think about that situation. 

And, Armstrong city wanted as many Connectors as they could get to keep itself safe. If it were before, every country on Earth would have agreed to such a proposal. They would suffer a lot if their supply of moonstones dried up.

However, things were different now. Earth needed Connectors too. After the attack on London, monsters kept appearing on Earth from time to time. To defeat the monsters, a country needed Connectors, high rank Connectors.

Therefore, a compromise had to be reached.

“I can’t believe they decided it all on their own. They split our schedule into three shifts.”

The Connectors had to be on call while staying on Earth. Then, they had to acquire moonstones, and finally, they had to defend Armstrong.

Armstrong city and the various governments of Earth had given Connectors these three duties to perform.

Tim had a valid reason for complaining.

“Still, it’s work that we have to do.”

Unlike Tim, who saw it through an emotional lens, Grace rationally thought about it. She accepted the fact that this was needed. Her sense of responsibility as a member of the British Royalty was behind her agreement with the decision.

“Our governments will cut our taxes, and Armstrong city will give us more rights. They also gave us labyrinths closer to Armstrong city.”

Emily had no complaints. She liked what she had received as payment.

Armstrong and its Connectors had yet to capture the ambushers who had attacked the researchers. Anyone leaving the city was in great danger. The Connectors who would go out to acquire moonstones could be ambushed by this unknown group.

Therefore, Armstrong city reassigned the labyrinths for the Connectors whose Personal labyrinths were far away from the city. A lot of labyrinths had become available when a large number of Connectors had fallen alongside Gagarin·Yang city.

“Anyway, the decision has been made. We should rest for now.”

Sungyoon looked at the schedule for the departing spaceships on the board. It hadn’t been long since he had come up to the Moon, but he was about to return to Earth now.

The Connectors had agreed to the proposition of having three shifts. Now, it was the time to determine what roles would be assigned to different Connectors. It had to be negotiated.

Of course, the deal was dependent on the individual, the country, and Armstrong city. However, it was impossible to satisfy all three parties. So the least amount of grievance from all three sides was a goal of the negotiation.

Sungyoon had already negotiated his schedule, so he had received an early vacation. Though, that vacation would only last two weeks; a far cry from before when he used to have a month on Earth.

The plus point for these two weeks was that he wasn’t obligated to fight monsters in this period. Therefore, the Ross siblings and Grace planned to come to Korea in the last week of his break.

“I’ll be going first.”

When the time to board the spaceship arrived, Sungyoon said goodbye to his party members and headed toward the spaceship.

***

Sungyoon spread the newspaper on top of the dining table. Shinhae sat on his knees as she read her storybook. Her face scrunched when she saw the small black letters printed in the newspaper, and she turned her head away.

She went back to looking at her storybook that contained drawings of a pretty butterfly, a cute bird, and a cool tiger. Her face displayed a pleased expression as she read her book, but her attention was drawn to the newspaper every time Sungyoon flipped the page. 

Shinhae was interested in seeing what her dad was reading.

Ssk ssk.

Sungyoon kept stroking his daughter's head as he turned the page. As he enjoyed the company of Shinhae, his face crumpled.

<Another 1st Gen Connector missing!>

<Is it the work of the demonic monster?>

Sungyoon paid close attention to the newspaper. Not many details were given in the article. It just said that a 1st Gen Connector had gone missing in the Czech Republic. The residence of the missing 1st Gen had been burned to the ground. 

This information was enough to fill Sungyoon's heart with fear.

‘Is it him?’

The reason for this fear was the demonic monster he had fought. It was the same fear that 1st Gen Connectors felt when entering the Great Labyrinth.

The monster had been quiet for a while, but it seemed it was on the move again.

‘This one's different from the others.’

The demonic monster possessed intelligence, and above all else, extreme power.

‘The problem remains that it said it’ll come for me.’

Sungyoon felt a great sense of danger. This was a personal matter as he was a 1st Gen Connector himself.

“Ooh ooh.”

Shinhae, who had put aside her picture book, shuddered while trying to read the words. Her eyes spun.

Sungyoon looked at the little girl with kind eyes. Since he couldn't come up with a solution for now, he decided to put his worries to the side. 

Placing his chin atop Shinhae’s head, Sungyoon asked.

“It’s been a while, but do you want to go on a trip? Any place you want to visit?”

“Zoo!”

Without hesitating for even a moment, Shinhae yelled.

“Zoo? You want to go there again? It seems you really like animals.”

“Yes!”

Shinhae vigorously nodded.

“All right! Let’s go to the zoo!”

“Wa-ah!”

Sungyoon smiled when Shinhae bounced on his knees in joy.

***

The elephant used its long trunk to feed itself. Due to its large size, it could eat a significant amount of food in one bite.

Shinhae’s mouth fell open when she saw this.

“Ooh-wahhhhh~!”

She was on the verge of drooling in amazement.

“Dad!”

Shinhae took a firm grip of Sungyoon’s shirt and pulled it.

“The elephant is eating its meal!”

As if it were responding to Shinhae, the elephant shoved an enormous amount of food into its mouth again.

“Ooh-wahhhhhhhhh~!”

Shinhae's mouth again fell open.

In the zoo, the kid with the biggest reaction was probably Shinhae.

‘No. That’s not true.’

Surprisingly, someone in the zoo had a bigger reaction than Shinhae.

This other girl's jaw had fallen to the floor, and her eyes were as round as they could be. It was as if she had seen this animal for the very first time. This girl looked two or three years older than Shinhae.

Shinhae noticed the kid next to her. When she realized that the kid looked more surprised than her, Shinhae asked.

“Do you like elephants?”

When a sudden question was posed to her, the other girl looked at Shinhae. She swiveled her head to look around her as if she thought Shinhae were talking to someone else.

However, when she saw no one was around them, the other girl pointed toward herself. She had to make sure she was one Shinhae had talked to.

Shinhae nodded and repeated the question.

“Does Unni like the elephant?”

“… Elephant?”

The other girl turned to look at the elephant.

“That?”

“Yes. Does Unni not know about elephants?”

“N...no.”

The other girl embarrassingly shook her head.

“I see. That’s an elephant. It has a long nose, so it uses its nose like a hand.”

Shinhae repeated all the characteristics of an elephant that she knew. Of course, Shinhae was still young, so she only knew a few obvious characteristics of an elephant.

However, the other girl’s eyes twinkled as she paid attention to every word coming out of Shinhae's mouth.

When Shinhae finished speaking with pride, the other girl let out a sigh as if she had been moved by what she had heard.

‘What an odd child.’

A child her age should have recognized elephants. However, Sungyoon didn’t dig too deep into it as everyone had their own circumstances.

“Ah! What's your name, Unni? I'm Woo Shinhae.”

The girl had been the perfect audience to Shinhae’s story, so Shinhae became interested in her.

The other girl hesitated for a brief moment before carefully speaking.

“Hahn Soyoung. My name is Hahn Soyoung.”

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