Chapter 279

“… Ms. Strobe. You don’t have the right to join in on this conversation. Please get on the spaceship.”

The Mayor’s voice turned rough as if he had reached the end of his patience. However, Chelsea didn’t back down.

“I’m not throwing a tantrum. I’ve thought it through, so I’m telling you how it is.”

Chelsea pointed at the Mayor and continued.

“We can't sacrifice either you or the Deputy mayor. Armstrong city is on the brink of extinction, but it hasn’t fallen yet. Both of you have a duty to see this through. You have to be here until the city falls.”

The Mayor became conflicted. Duty and responsibility! It was something he himself had been preaching until now, so he couldn’t refute Chelsea’s words. 

Chelsea then pointed at the Deputy mayor.

“It's the same for you, Deputy mayor. You have to survive until the end and be ready to take over if something bad happens to the Mayor. You bear the same responsibility as him, right?”

“… My responsibility is lighter than him.”

The Deputy mayor pushed back against her assertion, but since Chelsea's words were logical, he didn’t push back that hard.

“That's why I should be going to the ancient city. I’m the least important person here.”

The Mayor and the Deputy mayor didn’t have anything to say.

“It seems you have no objections.”

Chelsea turned around and flipped her disheveled hair. With light steps, she walked past Sungyoon, then turned around to look at him.

“I’ll be back.”

A faint smile graced her lips, but Sungyoon could see her eyes past her thick glasses.

“… Are you sure? You might die.”

“I’m fine. I’m prepared.”

Of course, she wasn’t fine. She was desperately trying to put up a front, and Sungyoon could see her trembling hands and eyes. If the hypothesis was proven wrong, she would die as soon as she entered the Ancient city. She would suffer the same fate as a regular person who had entered a labyrinth.

However, Sungyoon didn’t have the right to stop her.

“… I wish you luck.”

“Thank you. However, there is another way you can wish me luck. I would prefer it to spoken words.”

She gestured to him to take off his helmet. Sungyoon didn’t object and did so. It had been hot inside the armor, so his hair was soaked in sweat. 

Chelsea moved. In the most natural way, she wrapped her arms around Sungyoon’s neck. She then locked lips with him, and Sungyoon didn’t try to dodge it. It was a short kiss, but both felt as if time had stopped for them. It was as if they were in a bubble that blocked out the confusion and violence outside. 

“Hoo-ah~!”

Chelsea disengaged her lips. Her face was as red as a tomato. However, her expression was very bright, her hands no longer shook, and calmness had returned to her eyes. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears as she glanced at Sungyoon.

“I’ll be back.”

“Yes. Go and come back.”

Chelsea detached the magical energy suppressor from her body. She took a deep breath and jumped through the portal. Her movements didn't contain any hesitation. 

A pin-drop silence descended in the Mayor’s office.

“… Jeez! Young people these days are quite aggressive.”

The Deputy mayor had held his breath when he had watched Sungyoon and Chelsea say goodbye to each other. It might be their last goodbye, and the Deputy mayor unconsciously shook his head from side to side.

“Is that so? I was like that when I was young. Are you sure it isn’t just you? You might've lived a boring life.”

“You're known for being so conservative in your actions that people call you a coward. I don’t want to hear such words from you.”

Was it the effect of her courageous action? The heavy atmosphere between the two men had lifted; her actions had allowed them to overcome the pall over their hearts and joke with each other.

Sungyoon continued to look at the portal.

“I may be overstepping my bounds, but….”

The Mayor spoke to Sungyoon.

“Ms. Strobe is a good woman. She may be frustrating to deal with at times, but her heart is always in the right place. She will bring no dishonor if she does become the noble Knight’s woman.”

“I already have a wife.”

“Is that so? I was only aware of your daughter. Well, it doesn’t matter. It isn’t surprising to see a Connector with multiple wives. Moreover, unlike before, it's now looked on more favorably in society. I'm sure you will regret losing a woman like her.”

An uncertain expression made its way to Sungyoon's face. He didn’t give an answer, and the Mayor left the matter at that.

After a few more seconds passed, a pale arm suddenly appeared from the portal. Then, other parts of her body exited the portal too.

“I’m fine! It's safe over there!”

Chelsea had come out of the portal unscathed. She shouted in joy.

The Mayor and the Deputy mayor made fists as they joyfully yelled. Sungyoon was a bit more reserved, but he also cheered.

Hope had returned to them.

***

The remaining shelters opened once again, and the people waiting for spaceships that had left without any promise of return came out. They were supposed to slowly suffocate as oxygen ran out in the city. However, they had hope of living once again.

“Hurry! Hurry!”

People rushed into the portal, and on the other side of the portal, Connectors guided them into the ancient city. Since people only had to cross the portal, the evacuation was very quick.

“How many do we have left?”

“The evacuation is almost complete. We opened the last remaining shelters about five minutes ago. Once we evacuate them, our job is done!”

“Good!”

Sungyoon heard the conversation between the Mayor and the Deputy mayor as he kept guiding the people into the portal. He wanted to go into the city to block the monsters, but he had the important responsibility of keeping the portal open. He couldn’t be reckless and leave this place.

“This is the last batch!”

Finally, the last group of civilians disappeared into the portal, and the Connectors helping them cheered.

“Good! Gather everyone defending the city! Our work is done once we let them pass through the portal!”

The Connectors who were still fighting could now retreat. Since the situation was heading toward the endgame, relief had finally appeared in the Mayor’s voice.

“Understood!”

His subordinate answered in an upbeat manner.

The Deputy mayor, who was desperately searching for the Mayor, yelled.

“Mayor!”

“What's it now!”

Did another emergency pop up? The Mayor became annoyed.

“Now that I think about it, we forgot about that woman!”

“That woman?”

“I’m talking about the suspected terrorist who Mr. Sungyoon apprehended!”

The Mayor’s face relaxed a little; it wasn’t much of an emergency. In this situation, his duty was to prioritize the wellbeing of innocent civilians. Even if the suspected terrorist died, he didn’t care.

‘Still, it's a bit regrettable.’

It was a certainty that the woman had some information that could fill the gap. She might know about the terrorist attacks that started the downfall of Armstrong city.

‘We do have some time too.’

When Sungyoon had brought the woman to the city hall, she had been locked in a room inside the building. If she were locked away in a faraway location, the Mayor would have given up on her.

“Where was she locked away?”

“The storage room in the basement!”

It wasn’t that far away. The Mayor started to look around for Connectors who would retrieve the woman.

“I’ll go.”

Sungyoon volunteered before the Mayor could pick anyone, but the Mayor replied in the negative.

“No. Mr. Sungyoon, you have to maintain the portal.”

“The distance is manageable. I can maintain the portal even if I go to the basement.”

The Mayor thought for a brief moment. He had received information about the experiments conducted with Sungyoon’s portal so he knew Sungyoon was telling the truth. Moreover, Sungyoon would only be going to the basement of the city hall. There were no monsters nearby thanks to the hard work of Connectors. Above all else, Sungyoon was well acquainted with the suspect.

“Then, I’ll leave it to you.”

As soon as he was given permission, Sungyoon dashed to the basement. The lobby of the city hall was a mess because of the evacuation, yet he quickly passed through it to reach the basement. He then headed straight toward the storage room.

Bul-kuhk!

As soon as he opened the door, he saw all kinds of junk spread across the floor. His eyes then fell on Plu-El, who struggled to free herself from her chains amongst the junk. 

Plu-El realized Sungyoon had arrived, so she glared up at him.

‘Thankfully, she hasn't escaped.’

Sungyoon draped her over his shoulder. She resisted a little, but Sungyoon didn’t even blink.

‘I can’t lose this woman.’

She possessed information that he wanted to know, but above all else, he wanted to know why she had ambushed him.

‘There is a high probability that she knows what happened to Mr. Hyunwoo and Mr. Hahn Jungbum.’

He remembered her speaking their names.

Sungyoon exited the storage room and ran toward the portal.

“Eeek! Eee-eek!”

Plu-El struggled and tirelessly moved her legs to kick Sungyoon, but her antics couldn't stop his steadfast progress.

“What do you know?”

As always, she kept her mouth shut. She kept up her useless efforts to escape.

“What do you know about Mr. Hyunwoo?”

Sungyoon asked about Hyunwoo, who he felt had become very suspicious recently. Hyunwoo might have disguised himself to kill this woman.

That wasn’t the only question he had.

“Do you know the person named Hahn Jungbum?”

Plu-El stopped her struggles.

“From what I know, you have Mr. Hahn Jungbum’s armor and weapon. When I had seen it for the first time, I thought you were wearing similar-looking gear. However, I now believe that it's his gear.”

Sungyoon turned his head to look down at Plu-El, who looked like a curled up shrimp draped across his shoulder. Their eyes met, and Sungyoon could see that she hadn’t stopped struggling as a gesture of goodwill.

Her eyes oozed rage. However, Sungyoon’s eyes were as cold as ice. She was a suspected terrorist, and she possessed Hahn Jungbum’s gear.

“Did you kill Mr. Hahn Jungbum?”

Hahn Jungbum was his father in law. In some ways, he was the link that had allowed him to throw away the darkest moments of his past. Sungyoon could start a new life because of him, so of course, Sungyoon wouldn’t show any kindness to a woman who might have killed Hahn Jungbum.

However, the reaction he got was out of his expectations.

“What?”

It had been a while since Sungyoon had heard her voice, and unlike their previous conversations, this voice was full of hostility.

“Did I kill Mr. Jungbum?”

She was so enraged that she clipped each word. However, Sungyoon calmly answered.

“Yes.”

It was as if he had detonated a bomb within Plu-El. He had never heard her speak so loudly; she yelled as if she were vomiting blood.

“Don’t make me laugh! You guys are the ones who killed himmmmmmmm!”

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