Chapter 278

'Did something happen once again?'

An anxious Sungyoon ran toward the city hall. His heart had stopped a long time ago, yet he felt as if it were racing.

‘Did we get overrun somewhere?’

Sungyoon thought about the three locations where the Connectors were holding back the monsters.

‘It can’t be the Great Labyrinth.’

He himself had been fighting at the entrance of the Great Labyrinth with other Connectors. The Connectors had plugged the Great Labyrinth.

‘I don’t see signs of the other two locations being overrun.’

If monsters had entered Armstrong city once again, sounds of battle and explosions should've reached him. However, the sound of battle within Armstrong city was very sparse, and it only continued to diminish.

‘I’ll find out once I get there.’

He put more strength into his legs.

When he reached the city hall, he saw that it hadn’t suffered any damage. The Connectors tasked with defending the city hall had done their job. Sungyoon didn't even greet the other Connectors and headed straight to the Mayor’s office.

“What do you mean?”

“That's why I’m not going!”

Sungyoon didn’t even knock and opened the door to be greeted by a high soprano voice. Chelsea stood in front of the Mayor and yelled at him. She then slammed her hands on the Mayor’s desk to emphasize her point.

'What was going on?'

Sungyoon couldn’t bring himself to step into the office.

“… What’s going on?”

“Ah! You're here, Mr. Sungyoon.”

The Mayor pinched the bridge of his nose as he spoke.

“Could you help me and bolster my case against Ms. Strobe?”

“You want me to convince her?”

“She’s being stubborn. She said that she doesn’t want to get on the evacuation spaceship.”

Sungyoon looked at Chelsea.

“I’m telling you to give my spot to someone else! It isn’t as if we have spaceships to spare! I’m sure you can find someone else!”

“I get to decide who rides the spaceship. We chose people that’ll be useful in our future endeavors. You're included in that group, Ms. Strobe. All the other researchers have departed for Earth.”

The Mayor’s words were as cold as if they had been dipped in liquid nitrogen.

Chelsea’s eyes widened, and the Deputy mayor, who stood off to the side, shook his head. Sungyoon was shocked too.

However, the Mayor didn’t blink an eye.

“I’ve already thought this through. We have too many people to save, but too limited ways to save them. I have no choice but to choose who lives or who dies.”

“T-that’s…”

“I’ll take responsibility for it.”

Chelsea’s eyes were full of disapproval and defiance as she looked at the Mayor.

People might make fun of him as being too conservative and cowardly, but he was chosen to lead this city. A fledgling like Chelsea couldn't intimidate him in any way whatsoever.

“That's why you should hurry up and get on the spaceship.”

“I... I don’t want to!”

The Mayor’s eyebrows rose. He was getting close to reaching his limit, but Chelsea bit her lips and stood her ground. As she did so, she kept glancing at Sungyoon.

‘Is it because of him?’

The Mayor relaxed his eyes.

He knew it was impossible to argue with logic when it came to love, especially with young people. However, he couldn’t afford to humor Chelsea right now.

“Mr. Sungyoon.”

Finally, the Mayor spoke to Sungyoon. 

“Please place Ms. Strobe into a spaceship. I don’t care if you have to do it by force.”

“What the hell! I can leave with the others at a later time!”

“There are no more spaceships. This is the last one.”

The Mayor spoke in a cold voice.

‘Is it that time already?’

All but one spaceship had left the Moon. Sungyoon relaxed a little bit since they had accomplished one of their most important missions.

“I know that! However, more spaceships will come in the near future! I just have to last until that time!”

“I don’t think that the people who will be left behind can last until the next wave of spaceships comes back.”

“What do you mean?”

“We are in space, Ms. Strobe.”

A blank expression appeared on Chelsea's face for a moment. As expected of someone with a good head on her shoulders, she soon came to the answer.

“Oxygen.”

“That’s right.”

The Mayor gave an affirmation.

“We aren’t like Connectors. Connectors can last without oxygen. As normal humans, we are reaching a point where we won’t be able to last five minutes with the oxygen we have.”

“W-we have backup oxygen!”

Armstrong city had prepared for the worst. They had backup oxygen in case of an emergency, and it was to be expected of a city in space.

However, the Deputy mayor’s words dashed Chelsea's hopes.

“They are gone.”

“What?”

“Monsters. To be precise, large monsters destroyed three of the four backup oxygen tanks.”

The city had been very unlucky, and Sungyoon unconsciously clicked his tongue. The safety measure had been triggered when they were unable to prevent air from leaking out into space. 

‘If they had used the safety measures earlier!’

“We activated the safety measure, yet oxygen continued to spread into Armstrong city. It happened because those oxygen tanks were destroyed.”

Thankfully, Sungyoon didn’t have to speak about the implications. The Mayor did it for him. Basically, the higher-ups of Armstrong city had given up supplying oxygen within Armstrong city.

“We can't keep a lot of people alive with just one tank of oxygen. Do you understand now? The people left in the shelters might not last until the next wave of spaceships.”

Armstrong city was a city on the Moon. It wasn’t like the cities on Earth where one could travel between destinations in the quarter of a day. Even if Earth had sent out spaceships as soon as the problems had started within Armstrong city, it would still take them a couple of days to arrive.

“Now that you know this fact, you should hurry up and get on the spaceship.”

The Mayor issued an ultimatum to Chelsea, then he turned to Sungyoon.

“I know you worked your butt off, so I apologize for having to tell you this, Mr. Sungyoon. You and the other Connectors will have to ride the spaceships that’ll arrive at a later date since Connectors can survive on the Moon for a long time.”

“I understand. I had a vague idea that this would be coming, so I was prepared.”

“As expected of the Knight, you're a man of character.”

A faint smile appeared on the Mayor’s lips.

Chelsea still had her head down. She couldn’t shake off the shock she was feeling. Her head was working overtime, but she couldn’t come up with a clear solution.

“Uh?”

At that moment, a thought popped into her head.

“What about you, Mayor? Aren’t you going to escape?”

There was only one spaceship left. Yet, the Mayor and the Deputy mayor were only talking about evacuating Chelsea. They hadn't talked a bit about themselves.

“As I've told you, I will bear the full responsibility for my decision.”

The Mayor’s words held weight.

“Only when all the people of Armstrong either evacuate or die, my duties as the Mayor will come to an end. The only thing left is to take responsibility. I would rather let one more person live by giving up my seat. It's my duty as the ‘mayor of Armstrong city'.”

Sungyoon and Chelsea were moved by the Mayor’s words.

As a leader, the Mayor had duties and responsibilities. He was well known, and he held absolute power within this city. However, at the end of the day, he was merely a man. Yet the Mayor had decided to accept all responsibility for his decisions. He was going to give up his life to fulfill his duties. 

Sungyoon glanced at the Deputy mayor, whose expression didn’t change as he listened to the Mayor.

‘He has the same opinion.’

Sungyoon was once again moved by the two men in front of him.

“I'll say this for the last time. Please go to the spaceship, Ms. Strobe.”

The Mayor spoke in a cold voice, and his words stabbed at the core of her being. Suddenly, Sungyoon spoke up.

“Let me ask you this, Mayor. Would you like to go on an adventure?”

“An adventure?”

The Mayor blinked. It was said that action speaks louder than words, so Sungyoon injected his magical energy into one of his Gems.

Ooh-ooh-oong!

A blue portal appeared next to Sungyoon. As always, it was a beautiful sight. The Mayor, the Deputy mayor, and Chelsea, all stared at the blue portal.

“What do you plan on doing with it?”

The first one to break out of his stupor was the Mayor.

“The thing that people are lacking the most is air, right?”

“Yes.”

“There’s a lot of air in the ancient city.”

The Mayor frowned. The Deputy mayor and Chelsea didn’t have a great expression on their faces either. When Sungyoon had mentioned an adventure, they had expected something more. However, Sungyoon's words didn’t make sense.

Was his lack of judgment influenced by their desperate situation? 

The Mayor let out a small sigh.

“That place is filled with magical energy. It's like putting a regular person in a room filled with toxic gas. We weren’t able to mass-produce magical energy suppressors. Still, it might be a great place for the Connectors to use as a shelter. Please evacuate to that place when the time comes.”

Hearing the Mayor, Sungyoon pointed his finger at the ground.

“This place is filled with magical energy right now." 

The Mayor sighed again.

"The magical energy that leaks out of the labyrinths isn’t harmful to regular people. You're comparing apples to oranges—”

“Ah!”

Chelsea’s exclamation cut off the Mayor’s words. Her eyes turned round as if she had an epiphany, and they then met with Sungyoon's.

“The ancient city isn’t a labyrinth!”

“Yes. It isn’t.”

The Mayor and the Deputy mayor were puzzled by the nonsense being spoken in front of them.

Chelsea became so excited that she started pounding her hand on the Mayor’s desk.

“The magical energy within the labyrinth differs from the magical energy that leaks out from the labyrinth! They affect the body in different ways! It means they differ in nature! Until now, we assumed the ancient city was part of a labyrinth! It's to be expected since it's stuck within a large space and the place is filled with magical energy! However, it isn’t a labyrinth! It has no tunnels leading into a labyrinth!”

The Mayor’s brain finally started to move into gear.

“You're saying there's a chance that the magical energy within the ancient city is similar to the magical energy on the Moon's surface? There's a chance that it's harmless to a human’s body?”

“You got it!”

A light appeared in the eyes of both the Mayor and the Deputy mayor.

“Let’s confirm it right now.”

The Mayor abruptly stood up from his chair. His movement was so violent that his chair almost tumbled backward. However, someone got in his way.

“What are you doing right now?”

It was the Deputy mayor who had blocked him.

“What do you mean? We have to confirm the hypothesis right now. Someone has to enter the portal.”

When dealing with poisonous gas, if one wanted to check whether there was poison or not, one had to take off the gas mask. Similarly, if they wanted to prove that the magical energy within the ancient city was harmless to normal humans, a normal human had to pass through the portal.

“I know that. The problem I have is that you're trying to pass through the portal. Why?”

“In our current situation, I have to take responsibility as the mayor of Armstrong city. Who else should go through the portal if not me?”

“Of course, I. I have to go through it as the deputy mayor! You're responsible for this city until all the people are gone!”

“I can’t ask another person to risk one’s life in this situation. If I die, all my authority will be passed onto you since you are my deputy. You can watch over the people in my stead. I know for a fact that you're capable of being my replacement.”

“You're so conservative in your actions that people make fun of you as being gutless. So why are you going so gung-ho about this? Of all the time to be brave, why are you picking this moment?”

“It's my duty as the Mayor.”

The fight between the two men was about to heat up as each wanted to be the one to use the portal, when—

“I’ll do it!”

Chelsea also joined the fight.

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