Chapter 255

“Welcome!”

The Mayor happily greeted Sungyoon’s party, but he looked worn out compared to the first time they had met. Dealing with the string of crises had given him too much suffering.

“I heard you called for us.”

“Yes. I have a job for you. Please sit down.”

After Sungyoon’s party sat down, the Mayor asked his underling to bring refreshments. Sungyoon relaxed a little as he asked for the beverage of his choice.

‘It seems this business isn’t that urgent.’

Sungyoon had been worried that a situation similar to what had happened to Gagarin·Yang city was about to break out, but the refreshments being offered suggested otherwise.

‘I should've known. The emergency alarm hadn’t gone off, and downtown was running like usual.’

If a massive monster horde, like the one in Gagarin·Yang city, had made an appearance, the higher-ups would have sent out a warning. 

The beverages arrived. Sungyoon, Tim, and Emily had ordered coffee, while Grace had ordered black tea like always.

“Why did you call us here?”

Sungyoon spoke as he picked up his coffee cup.

“We received an SOS that originated near Armstrong.”

An SOS wasn’t that uncommon. Sometimes, Moon Surface Vehicles flipped over. Since the Moon was full of craters of all sizes, accidents were to be expected.

That was the reason Connectors had to take long circuitous routes even if their destination was pretty close. It was common for an inexperienced driver to drive the vehicle into a ditch, and most Connectors had done it over their careers.

However, if things were so simple, Sungyoon’s party wouldn't have been called here.

“We sometimes get requests for a rescue, but this one is problematic. It has to do with the last words before the connection was cut off.”

“What was it?”

“They had said monsters had appeared.”

Everyone’s expression hardened at the same time.

“… Monsters came out of the labyrinth?”

“At the very least, I’m sure they didn't contact us from within the labyrinth. Communication devices don’t work inside the labyrinth.”

The party thought about the disastrous tragedy that had occurred at Gagarin·Yang city.

“It sounds dangerous.”

“It is dangerous. It has happened close to Armstrong city, which means that If things go south, monsters may attack us.”

It seemed that the Mayor was going out of his way to avoid talking about the incident in Gagarin·Yang city as if it could bring bad luck.

When he saw the Mayor’s eyebrows twitch and his already gaunt cheeks become more emaciated, Sungyoon felt pity for him.

“Then we should get ready to defend.”

“Yes. We’ve already mobilized all the Connectors on standby.”

“So you have another reason for calling us here.”

“That’s right. I would like your party to go investigate the Moon Surface Vehicle where the SOS signal originated.”

“It's a dangerous mission.”

“I’m sorry, but it is.”

A possibility of a monster attack didn’t mean Armstrong should stay put. It was the time when they needed all the information they could get about what was going on in their surroundings. Moreover, Sungyoon’s party had successfully carried out a couple of Armstrong's requests before. They were the most reliable cards that the Mayor could use.

“I know you all were ambushed just a while ago, and I'm sorry for throwing you into this mess. However, you're a veteran party. You have gone through a lot. This is especially true of Mr. Sungyoon. I believe you're the most ideal person to deal with this problem.”

Sungyoon let out a forced chuckle when he realized the winding road that he had taken as a Connector.

“Of course, we aren’t going to send you all alone. You're still in danger of being ambushed, so we hired another Connector, one of the greatest Connectors.”

“One of the greatest Connectors?”

It happened at that moment.

Knock! Knock!

“Mayor!”

The Mayor’s underling spoke from beyond the door, then he quietly opened the door to deliver a message.

“Mr. Sung Hyunwoo is here.”

Sungyoon’s eyes widened.

***

“Man! It has been a while since I’ve ridden a Moon Surface vehicle.”

Hyunwoo tried bouncing his body up and down on the well-cushioned chair.

The Mayor had lent out a luxurious vehicle for their use. Instead of having cargo space to store moonstones, the vehicle had been installed with several amenities. This Moon Surface vehicle had been designed while keeping the comfort of Connectors in mind.

Hyunwoo was one of the richest men on Earth, and even he was satisfied with the vehicle.

“I have no reason to ride a Moon Surface vehicle since I only raid the Great Labyrinth. So it's such a refreshing experience every time I get in one now.”

The vehicle contained ten Connectors in total, including Hyunwoo, Jinsoo, and Sungyoon’s party. Hyunwoo kept messing with his chair and reclined it far enough to lie down. After he tested the chair’s function to his satisfaction, he turned to look at Sungyoon.

“I heard you did something big again. I’m having a sense of deja vu. Don’t I always say that when I meet you or am I mistaken?”

Sungyoon didn’t have anything to say, but he was a bit surprised.

‘Did the Mayor tell him about the Gem?’

The Mayor had promised Sungyoon to keep the information in strict confidence, but it seemed like the Mayor might have spilled the beans to the highest-ranked Connectors.

However, Sungyoon had passed too early a judgment.

“You should be fighting monsters in the labyrinth, yet I heard you fought other humans.”

‘He’s talking about the ambushers.’

The Mayor really had a tight lip.

“You say I did something big, but in reality, I did nothing.”

“Well, it can't be helped. Mr. Sungyoon is always so popular.”

Hyunwoo cackled when he heard Jinsoo’s playful words.

While they talked about inconsequential topics, the Moon Surface vehicle arrived at its destination. Since the Connectors wanted to have the ability to communicate with each other, they picked up their helmets.

“I heard it was close to Armstrong, but isn’t this too close?”

Grace asked in a worried tone. The Moon Surface vehicle had reached the SOS destination in just a day.

“In terms of a straight line, this place is quite far away. We got here quite early because the path was quite flat. But yeah, this place is quite close to Armstrong.”

“I guess it could be worse.”

When Grace heard Sungyoon’s answer, she felt a bit relieved.

Everyone got off the Moon Surface vehicle and entered the scenery that always stayed constant. The black space above them was filled with stars, which appeared as though they would fall on the Connectors in a shower, and the surroundings were a desolate land filled with dust.

“Let’s find the Moon Surface vehicle! Send a signal as soon as you find it!”

When Hyunwoo spoke out loud, the Connectors got into their own parties and started to search their surroundings. Sungyoon did the same.

Seeing Sungyoon swing his arm several times in the air, Tim asked with an amused expression.

“What are you doing?”

“They had said monsters appeared in this place, and if that's the case, magical energy should have spread in the surroundings.”

“Ah. I see.”

Tim copied Sungyoon and waved his hand a couple of times.

“I don’t feel anything.”

“It's the same for me. That means we have three possibilities. First, the Connectors who sent the SOS were mistaken. Second, the magical energy leaked out only for a short amount of time. The last, monsters had exited the labyrinth even without the presence of magical energy.”

“The first possibility is the best situation, and the third is the worst.”

Grace also followed Sungyoon’s example and waved her hand through the air while speaking.

The party walked a good distance before Sungyoon came to a stop. He took a knee as he looked down at the surface.

“I guess the best-case scenario is out of the picture now.”

Sungyoon said as his gaze fell upon the clear prints on the surface of the Moon. These footprints didn't resemble that of a human, but that of a monster. The party also found the track left behind by a Moon Surface vehicle nearby.

It seemed this region was frequented by many Moon Surface vehicles as the party saw a lot of track marks nearby. However, this was only the case on the main route, and the track they had found had clearly diverged from the main route.

Sungyoon’s party followed those track marks. After a while, they arrived at a steep decline into a crater and a Moon Surface vehicle that had rolled down to the bottom.

***

“It's wrecked.”

Hyunwoo clicked his tongue as he looked at the Moon Surface vehicle. Half of the vehicle had been crushed like a crumpled paper.

“This doesn’t look like fall damage.”

“Of course not. A slope of this magnitude can't destroy a Moon Surface vehicle to this extent. These vehicles are made sturdy because they have to run across the desolate surface of the Moon. Moreover, Moon's gravity is much weaker than Earth's.”

Hyunwoo led Sungyoon toward a particular spot on the Moon Surface Vehicle and pointed at it.

“Do you see it?”

“Claw marks!”

Sungyoon saw four straight claw marks around thirty centimeters long.

“This confirms it. They were attacked by monsters.”

“That’s right. Now, the problem remains that we don’t know where the Connectors went.”

“Hadn’t these Connectors just graduated from being beginner Connectors?”

Emily recalled the profiles she had read before coming onto the mission.

“They were probably excited from becoming real Connectors. Poor guys.”

“As Connectors, they had probably made peace with the fact that they could die at any moment. However, they might've never expected to die from a monster ambush outside of the labyrinth. Unlucky!”

Tim shook his head from side to side as he pitied his fellow Connectors.

“We found the corpses?”

Sungyoon asked.

“Yes. We found five bodies around seventy meters away from this spot. These bodies were torn to pieces, and all of their hearts are missing.”

“It's the prototypical corpses of Connectors attacked by monsters.”

Sungyoon remembered the corpse he had found while he hunted in the Beginner’s Labyrinth. These corpses bore a striking resemblance to it.

After recovering the corpses, the group filmed the sight of the crash, then all the Connectors gathered in one place.

“This should bring the investigation to a close.”

One of the Connectors spoke. 

However, Hyunwoo shook his head.

“What do you mean? We have no idea where the monsters had exited from, and we don’t know where they went.”

“How are we supposed to find that out?”

Hyunwoo pointed behind him, at the tracks of the monsters.

“At the very least, we should follow them.”

Since his words made sense, everyone nodded.

In the end, the group was divided into two. One would follow the tracks of the monsters in one direction, and the other would follow the tracks in the opposite direction.

Sungyoon joined the group that would look for where the monsters had gone to. Since the gravity was low and the Connectors possessed enormous strength, they took large leaps across the surface of the Moon.

Thankfully for them, they didn’t have to go too far. The monsters had moved around five kilometers and entered a nearby labyrinth.

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