Sungyoon followed Russell and Bruce.
He stopped when he stepped on a half-burnt object. A round heap of ashes broke apart under his foot.
Sungyoon saw a charred piece of lumber off to the side. It seemed it was a part of a house. He stomped on the ground to dislodge the ashes from his boots, but as he moved forward, he stepped in more burnt objects. In the end, he gave up on trying to keep his boots clean from ashes.
“This is horrifying.”
Emily walked close to Sungyoon and grabbed his sleeve.
Sungyoon agreed with her.
The burnt village was rife with a thick acrid smell and ashes; corpses were strewn on the floor between these piles of ashes. Every one of this village's residents had died fighting, so terrifyingly horrible wounds were on each one of their corpses.
Over time, Emily had gotten used to fighting, but her heart was still soft at its core. She hated what she was seeing right now.
Even Sungyoon, Tim, and Grace had ugly expressions.
“Are you sure all these people were terrorists?”
“They are. There were more than we had expected.”
Hyunwoo kicked a corpse to the side to clear the path, and his callous gesture made Russell and Bruce frown.
“Do you have proof?”
Russell asked, but the one to answer his question wasn't Hyunwoo.
“We have no idea. We just follow the orders from above. If you have questions or complaints, it’ll be faster to take it up with our president.”
At some point, Jinsoo had sidled up next to Hyunwoo. Bruce gave an ugly look to Jinsoo, who spoke in a wily manner. However, Russell firmly pressed down on his comrade's shoulder.
“I see. That means we only have your words as evidence. Am I correct?”
“That’s right. I’m sure you want testimony from the terrorists, but they can't give it. So, you’ll have to take our word for it.”
“We can’t get a testimony because you killed all of them.”
The mood in the place cooled down.
“Do you have any more questions for us? If not, we would like to head back now. Our work here is done.”
“Our president made us do ‘volunteer work’, so we wasted a lot of our time. We have our own lives to live, and we have to gather moonstones.”
“You want to leave after making this mess?”
Bruce growled. However, Hyunwoo remained calm in his demeanor.
“We did nothing wrong. It's not like they were innocent people. This was the village of terrorists. Of course, it's our duty to wipe out this village, and...”
Hyunwoo knitted his brows, and for the first time, a displeased expression appeared on his face.
“Do you have the authority to interfere with our actions?”
“Didn’t we tell you already? We came here at the behest of Armstrong city.”
“Bruce, you should learn from your friend a little bit. Do you know why Russell is keeping his mouth shut? If he had the authority, he would've been the first one to use it. That means you guys didn’t receive the authority to arrest us.”
Bruce looked at Russell. Russell firmly shut his mouth and glared at Hyunwoo, but he soon let out a sigh and looked around. All that appeared in his sight was burnt, broken homes and Fabion Connectors standing in the wreckage, looking at his group.
‘If we decide to fight head-on, our side will suffer some casualties too.’
Even though Russell had Bruce on his side, the other side wasn't a pushover.
“We have to preserve this site and report back to Armstrong.”
“Be my guest. We have nothing to hide. In fact, we’ll help you preserve this site by getting out of here.”
Russell pointed toward the tunnel at his back.
“Thank you! You shouldn’t make such a grim face. I want you to think about it. Who else would make a base so deep within the Great Labyrinth, except terrorists? No one with permission from Armstrong city would create such a suspicious hideout here. That's why you guys should stop looking at us as if we're cold-blooded killers.”
“Still, are you self-aware enough to realize that your story and actions up to this point have been very suspicious?”
Russell relaxed his face for now. There was a lot of smoke, but no fire, and on top of that, Hyunwoo was saying all the right stuff.
“You should take it up with our president.”
“I plan to do that. However, we won’t be the one making a fuss about it. It will be Armstrong city, and it’ll cause some near-term issue for your company.”
“That’s something the company will take care of. It has nothing to do with us.”
Hyunwoo gestured toward his comrades, and they moved toward the tunnel. Hyunwoo and Jinsoo brought the rear, and as Hyunwoo brushed past Sungyoon, he tapped Sungyoon’s shoulder.
“You can rest easy now. I killed all the terrorists who threatened your safety.”
After laughing once more, Hyunwoo walked away from Sungyoon, leaving behind Sungyoon and the group amongst the corpses and piles of ashes.
“Do you think they caught on?”
Jinsoo kept glancing backward as his party climbed up the Great Labyrinth.
Hyunwoo replied in a flat voice.
“Of course, they know something is wrong. However, they won’t know to what extent.”
“You're quite laid back about all of this.”
“In the first place, I already knew we were pushing it by carrying out this plan. If something bad occurs from this, the President will take care of it.”
“I never expected both of them to show up.”
Hyunwoo thought about Russell and Bruce. If he had to fight the two of them, even he would have to be ready to put his life on the line.
“It means the mayor of Armstrong city is paranoid. We have a questionable past, and we took out too many men. So he decided to send two of his strongest pieces here.”
Even if an investigative party had come, Hyunwoo was leaning toward not attacking them. However, he had to erase from his mind whatever thought he still had about attacking when he saw who had come to investigate. He wouldn’t lose against them, but most likely either Russell or Bruce would've escaped.
“Now that I think about it, Woo Sungyoon was there too. The Mayor really likes him.”
As Hyunwoo had said, the Mayor was paranoid, and he would have mobilized only the Connectors he trusted the most. So Sungyoon's presence in the investigative party was an illuminating piece of information.
“It’ll be very troublesome to kill him now.”
“It doesn't matter. That’s none of our business anymore. Let’s just watch how that bastard decides to take care of Woo Sungyoon.”
Hyunwoo’s eyes fell on the back of the enormous man walking in front of his party. Dongin had tasked Gisoo to kill Sungyoon, and Gisoo's frustration was evident in his footsteps. He yelled at the other Connectors who got on his nerve and nitpicked about the small stuff.
“Mr. Gisoo is in a foul mood.”
Hyunwoo laughed at Jinsoo’s words. Their actions were petty, but they were happy at the Gisoo's misfortune.
“He cussed me out, and he made it clear that he could do better than me. However, he messed up.”
“How many got away?”
The Fabion Connectors had never expected so many people to be living in this village. They had no preparation or plan. Time wasn't on their side, so they had just decided to ambush the village with overwhelming force.
Their urgency worked in their favor, and they enjoyed the advantages of an ambush. However, Fabion wasn't trying to win a fight. Their goal was to wipe out their enemies, and in consideration of that, this ambush was a failure.
“Since our opponent has a portal, it was always going to be impossible to wipe them out. Yet, he boasted that he would never fail. It makes me laugh when I think about him swaggering around with his nose up high.”
‘He's an idiot with muscles for his brain.’
Jinsoo sneered at Gisoo.
“Though, this means everyone in Fabion will now know about the portal's existence. How will the President react to it?”
“Of course, he’ll want to own it for himself. ”
Then, it wouldn’t just be about trying to bury the evidence of their past actions. Dongin probably knew the worth of the portal, and with how greedy he was, he would covet the portal.
“If a portal linking Earth to the Moon exists, President would be free from Armstrong city's influence.”
All the countries in the world used Armstrong city to control Connectors, and Connectors were forced to spend a lot of money in Armstrong city. None of the Connectors and their companies liked this arrangement.
“What should we do?”
“What do you mean what should we do? It's none of our business.”
Hyunwoo was talking about the company he was working for, yet there wasn’t an ounce of affection in his voice.
“He’ll do what’s best for the company.”
“What should we do about this?”
Russell placed his hands on his hips as he looked at his surroundings. It didn’t matter where his gaze fell; it was all devastation.
“Thankfully, the corpses won’t decay.”
At the very least, evidence wouldn’t disappear through decomposition.
“I don’t think we should be rash in touching the scene. Wouldn’t it be better if we call for a professional?”
“That sounds like the better idea.”
Connectors were specialists in the field of killing monsters, so the group would be hopeless in finding clues about what happened to this destroyed village.
“It would be best if we left this site as it is. We might accidentally destroy evidence otherwise.”
Russell agreed with Sungyoon, so he spoke to one of his party members.
“We’ll have to go notify Armstrong city.”
They had to exit the Great Labyrinth to do this.
“We’ll stay to protect this place. Those bastards from Fabion might come back to destroy the evidence.”
Bruce said as he sat down at a nearby rock.
“We’ll stay too. If Fabion does decide to come back, it’ll be tough to stop them with only your party.”
After saying that, Russell turned to look at Sungyoon.
“I would like your party to go and make the report. Is that ok?”
“We are fine doing that.”
“Don’t just contact them. I want you to go back to Armstrong city to receive orders from him. I don’t think it's wise to explain our current situation through the radio.”
“Are you sure he’ll be ok? The ambushers consider him a marked man. What if he gets ambushed along the way? We do not know if these people were really the ambushers.”
Bruce tapped the rock that he was sitting on.
However, Sungyoon dispelled his worries.
“It doesn't matter. I have a method that’ll allow me to escape.”
The existence of the portal was only a risk when it came to the collection of moonstones. It wasn’t a problem when Sungyoon used it to escape from trouble.
“If you aren’t worried about it, please go talk to the Mayor.”
Bruce lay down on top of the large rock.
Sungyoon’s party exited the Great Labyrinth. They only saw the tracks of Moon Surface vehicles, and not the vehicles themselves. Fabion had really pulled out of this place. The party radioed the simplified version of their current situation to Armstrong city, and then started their return trip to Armstrong with their permission.
The portal would've been a faster and easier method of travel, but the party didn’t want Russell and Bruce to learn about the existence of portals. So they couldn’t leave behind their Moon Surface vehicle.
The vehicle had been on the road for a while when it suddenly came to a stop. Since they were only halfway to Armstrong city, Sungyoon, Grace, and Emily looked at Tim, who was the driver.
The surprised Tim pointed out the window. His finger pointed toward a heavily wounded person fallen on the Moon's surface with blood coloring the ground. The party immediately exited the vehicle. Sungyoon looked over the body and found out that even though with severe wounds, the person was still alive.
Sungyoon picked up the person with his arm. He realized the person was a woman, and when he saw her face, it shocked him.
‘Isn’t she Soyoung’s mother?’
She was the lady he had parted with under awkward terms not too long ago.Previous Chapter Next Chapter