Chapter 25

Jimin went to a remote location in the 1st district to meet her friend.  It was a location close to the outer walls of the dome.

‘It is a research facility.’

He could tell at a glance.

It was as if the architect wanted the building to look like a typical research facility.  The building was all white, and the people inside were also wearing white lab coats.  It could be mistaken for a hospital.  However, one couldn’t see any patients within the building.

Above all else, it said ‘International Lunar Research Institute’ on the outside of the building.

‘Her friend is a researcher.’

If so, it was understandable as to why Jimin had a friend on the moon.

The front gate to the research facility was closed, and two security guards were stationed on each side.  It wasn’t an easy place to approach.

“Please wait a moment here.”

After saying those words, Jimin left him behind as she approached the front gate.  He did as she said, and he watched her approach the guards.  The two security guards had tensed up when two strangers had come near the facility, but their eyes noticeably softened when they caught sight of Jimin’s face.  It is said that a man’s biggest weakness is a beautiful woman.

Jimin looked like she was explaining something to the security guards.  One of the security guards nodded his head then he walked into the guard shack.

“She’ll be out soon.”

After Jimin finished her business, she returned to Sungyoon’s side.  He could see the security guards lick their lips as they watched Jimin.

The two of them stood waiting as they faced the front gate.  They didn’t speak at all.  If others saw them, they could be mistaken for strangers that had arrived at the same rendezvous by coincidence.  The security guards looked at them as if they were odd.

Around 5 minutes had passed.

“Hey, Jimin!”

Someone yelled out Jimin’s name as she ran towards them.  Sungyoon assumed this person was Jimin’s friend, so he turned towards her.

Sungyoon’s face stiffened.

“It’s been awhile, Chelsea.”

She ran until she reached Jimin then she gave her greeting.  She let out a small smile.

“Yes! It’s been awhile, my friend!”

The woman named Chelsea hugged Jimin.  Jimin’s body rocked from the impact.

Sungyoon observed this person from the side.

Chelsea wasn’t Korean.  She spoke English, and she was from a different ethnicity.  Her name gave away the fact that she was a foreigner.   She had strawberry blonde hair with fair skin.  She was clearly a Caucasian.  He could see blue eyes behind her glasses, and it pretty much confirmed that she was a foreigner.

She wasn’t dressed that great.  Her blonde hair reached her lower back, but it was unkempt.  Her hair was sticking out every which way.  Her glasses covered half her face, and it was a very old fashioned frame.  There were small stains on her white gown. Her posture was terrible.  Her shoulders were hunched.

Despite all of this, she was beautiful.  She had the look of a classic western beauty.  Her body was glamorous.  She was stacked in all the right places, yet she had a trim body.  If she dressed herself well, even the Hollywood actresses wouldn’t be able to show their faces in front of her.  If she dressed up, she would be as pretty as Jimin or Jiyoon.

Chelsea let go of her hug then she grabbed both of Jimin’s hands.

“I was surprised.  You contacted me out of nowhere, and now you are on the moon.  What happened?  This place is damn expensive.  You’ll go bankrupt if you are here for a tour.”

At a glance, he could tell Chelsea had an outgoing personality.  She was the exact opposite of Jimin, who was always cold and calm.  The fact that the two of them were friends was surprising.

“I have my reasons.”

Jimin looked towards Sungyoon.  Chelsea finally became aware of Sungyoon’s presence.

“Huh?  Is he with you?”

“Yes.”

“I see.  You guys weren’t talking, so I thought you didn’t know this guy.”

Chelsea stepped in front of Sungyoon.  

“It is nice to meet you.  My name is Chelsea Strobe.”

She pushed her hand out towards him.  Sungyoon furrowed his brows as he took a step backwards.

“Huh?  Ah.  I guess you can’t speak English?”

She thought his actions were simply rooted in the language barrier.

“…no, I can speak it.”

Sungyoon spoke fluent English.  Sungyoon used to be an elite in the business world.  He could speak other languages.

“My name is Woo Sungyoon.”

He spoke as he took up Chelsea’s hand.  However, it was a very short handshake.  As soon as he passed the line of not being rude, he let go of her hand.  He wasn't disgusted by the touch.  It wasn’t as if he was touching a bug.  Still, he was reluctant to become friendly with a beautiful woman.

Thankfully, Chelsea didn’t notice him trying to avoid her.  She nudged Jimin’s shoulder with her elbow.

“What? Who is this? The great Hahn Jimin brought a man here.  Can it be?”

She let out a wicked laughter as she wiggled her pinky finger.  It seemed she was beyond being outgoing.  She was an easygoing and mischievous person.

“It isn’t like that.  He’s a Connector affiliated with my company.  I came here with him, because I want to teach him about Armstrong city and the labyrinths.”

Chelsea’s eyes turned round.

“Company?  Are you still doing that?”

“Yes.”

Chelsea's expression turned for the worse.  She looked at Sungyoon differently now.  There was wariness in her eyes now.

He didn’t know why she was showing such a reaction towards him.  For some unknown reason, the blonde haired beauty was being guarded towards him.  If it was any other man, it was a suboptimal situation.

However, it was different for Sungyoon.

‘Fortunately, she won’t try to get close to me anymore.’

He had no idea why she was being so guarded towards him.  It seemed he won’t be able to be on friendly terms with her.  It was funny, but Sungyoon was very satisfied by this new development.

‘For sure, she’s a beauty.’

Even her slightly raised eyes were very charming.

‘A friend of a beautiful woman is another beautiful woman.  Shit.’

Like attracts like.  It was unfortunate, but there was some truth to this saying.  

“Chelsea is a researcher for the ‘International Lunar Research Institute.’  I met her in college, and she is my closest friend.”

Jimin gave an introduction of Chelsea.  From her words, one could tell that she trusted Chelsea in no uncertain terms.  It seemed Chelsea was embarrassed, so she scratched her messy hair.

It didn’t matter how his relationship will turn out with them in the future.  These two women would remain to be best friends.  He could tell.

“Do you have some time right now, Chelsea?”

“Huh? Yes.  I can make time.  It’ll be dinner time soon.”

Chelsea glanced at the watch on her wrist.  Sungyoon discreetly checked the time too.  As soon as he arrived at Armstrong, he had set his watch to the standard time of the moon.  It was 7 PM.

“Let’s go eat.  I’m buying.”

“Really?”

Chelsea’s eyes twinkled as she once again entangled herself with Jimin.  The wariness shown towards Sungyoon was nowhere to be found.

“Where?  Where are we going? What are you going to buy for this poor researcher?  It’s meat, right?  Is it a restaurant that’ll allow me to cut into a juicy steak?  Will a chef bring out fresh cooked food?  I’m sick and tired of eating steamed potatoes and frozen pizza!”

It sounded like she was about to cry when she spoke the last sentence.  She was working at a prestigious research facility, yet her dietary life was lackluster.

Chelsea’s face was close to Jimin’s face.  If she moved a couple centimeters closer, he would be witnessing two beauties kissing each other.  However, this wasn’t a romantic scene.  It was far from it.

As if Jimin was used to this, she pushed Chelsea’s face away.

“Yes, you’ll be able to cut into a steak today.”

“Awesome!”

Chelsea raised her hands as she ran around.  She looked like a scientist, who had made a historical discovery.  She looked like she would run across the city naked as she shouted ‘Eureka!’  

“Are you ok with steak, Mr Sungyoon?”

“Yes, it’s fine.”

Jimin was buying, so he wasn’t going to complain.  Moreover, there was someone in front of him that was showing so much joy at the prospect of eating steak.  He didn’t have the heart to suggest a different dish.  The prior wariness was nowhere to be seen from Chelsea.  She stood behind Jimin and she was looking at him with puppy eyes.

“Alright.  I’ll be the guide!  My colleague told me about this awesome restaurant!”

When he confirmed that they would eat steak, Chelsea immediately wiped away her puppy dog eyes.  She put on her normal energetic expression.

“Well, let’s go!  Let’s go eat!”

She took precise and confident steps forward.  If something blocked her way, she looked like she’ll just bulldoze the obstacle.

“……normally she isn’t like that.”

“…I understand.”

Jimin covered her face with one hand as she let out a sigh.  Sungyon quietly agreed with her.  That was all he could do.

* * *

Chelsea guided them to an upscale restaurant.  The place had subdued lighting, and there were expensive looking furniture.  There were colorful decorations and a calm music was playing in the background.  The atmosphere was what you would find in high end restaurants on earth.

“This is the place!”

Chelsea opened the door to the restaurant, and she entered first.  She had messy hair, and she was wearing a dirty lab coat.  She looked out of place in this restaurant, but she walked in with confidence.  Jimin entered in after her.  She wore a black suit.  It reminded one of a suit one wore to a funeral.  Sungyoon entered last.  He wore his casual clothes.

“Will it be the three of you?”

“Yes!”

Chelsea answered the waiter’s question.

The waiter guided them towards an inner table.  The three of them pulled their chairs back then they sat down.  They picked up the menu.

He didn’t have much thought as he opened the menu.  His eyes almost popped out when he saw the content.

“What the hell…….”

He unconsciously let out a groan.  The menu was written in English using fancy calligraphy.  That wasn’t the problem.  Sungyoon was fluent in English, so he had no trouble reading the alphabets.  He had become surprised at the prices written within the menu.

“These prices are written in dollars?”

“Yes.”

Jimin gave an affirmation.  He had guessed right, but he wasn’t happy.   He wished she had answered in the negative.

‘What kind of prices are these?  It is in the five figures.’

If it was in Won, the price would have been understandable.  Since it was in dollars, it was a completely different story.

“This city has always been like this.”

Chelsea had her head buried in the menu in excitement.  She glanced up as she spoke.

“The living cost is crazy here.  A single bread can cost 100 dollars here.  There is a reason why I was jumping all over the place when Jimin said she’ll buy dinner.  It is pretty impossible to buy stuff in this city with a researcher’s salary.  That is why I have to eat potatoes and yams grown within the research facility.  Most of the foods I eat are frozen or preserved.  I can’t even remember when I had proper food last.”

Chelsea moved her gaze back to the menu.  However, she continued her explanation.

“If something must be provided by a person, the price becomes astronomical.  It is inevitable.  Each person must pay a fee per day to stay in this city.  They have to pay in order to sleep, drink and eat here.  All those fees are passed on to the customers.  Of course, they inflate the price until they are able to increase their margin.”

Sungyoon finally got a sense of the economy within the Lunar city.

Still, this information didn’t change much in his eyes.  He was having a hard time ordering food that cost over 10 million won.

“Are you really sure about this?”

If they were careless, a single meal could set them back a hundred million won.  Sungyoon sounded worried as he asked Jimin the question.  However, Jimin was nonchalant about it.

“It’s fine.  I’ve spent a lot of money, but I have enough to buy you guys dinner.  Moreover, Mr Sungyoon will be in a similar state as Chelsea.  No, you might be in a worse situation until you are able to make money.  This is something like a compensation for what you will go through.  If you don’t like that fact, you can think about it as your last supper.”

When Jimin put it like that, Sungyoon had nothing more to say.  In the end, Sungyoon started picking out dishes from the menu.  It seemed Chelsea had already picked her entree.  She was talking with Jimin, who was taking her time picking her dishes.  Sungyoon didn’t stress too much about it as he picked a dish from the menu.  He tried his best to ignore the rotten price printed next to the dishe’s name.

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