Chapter 283

The director checked the report.

“Are you sure about this?”

“We’ll have to double-check the numbers, but we are confident in our analysis.”

The Moon had stopped running away from Earth. It was a figure of speech, but at the same time, it was not.

“The Moon is no longer drifting away.”

The director mumbled to himself.

Even though the Moon continued to revolve around Earth and it seemed it would always be there in the sky, in reality, the Moon had been slowly drifting away from Earth. It meant the Moon would break away from Earth one day and start a new journey through space.

However, the report in the director's hand had turned this truth on its head.

‘What’s going on?’

The universe followed the laws of physics. An enormous amount of kinetic energy that was beyond anyone's imagination caused the simple movements of each of these celestial bodies. The Moon wasn't an exception.

That was why the change in the Moon's movements meant that a huge outside force was interfering with the Moon.

“Does this have something to do with what happened to Armstrong city?”

“I have no idea. There's no ongoing research regarding that subject, so we don't have the underlying data. This is my personal opinion, but I believe that it's a likely explanation.”

‘Is it a coincidence or is there a causal relationship?’

Everything lined up too well to be a coincidence. Both the director and the researcher believed that the change in the movements of the Moon was related to the destruction of Armstrong city.

If that was indeed so, this problem was beyond their scope.

‘How much power is needed to interfere with the Moon's movements?’

Just a rough estimation made him break out in cold sweat. The fear of the unknown was greater. Would things end with the Moon stopping its drift away from Earth? Or was there something else coming?

What would happen if this 'unknown power' continued to use its power?

‘It could cause the opposite phenomenon. The Moon might move toward Earth.’

The director's back became damp due to all the cold sweat on it.

***

More and more information about Armstrong city came out each day on the news.

Armstrong city had fallen, and all communications with them had been cut off. It was impossible to assess the situation from Earth. Even if the countries here formulated a rescue plan, monsters were roaming the Moon. One couldn’t be too hasty in sending spaceships.

As time passed, the uneasiness around the world ballooned. However, the regular people of Earth only felt uneasy about the future. 

The problem was ill-defined, and the solution was unclear. The civilians could only look on with worry, but in the end, there was no direct harm to them. However, amongst the civilians, there was one group that was beyond being anxious. The situation had almost driven them insane. They were the family members of the Connectors who had been unable to escape Armstrong city.

Jimin sat by herself on the sofa as she watched the TV. The anchor's serious voice relayed the news about Armstrong city, but it was all old, repeated news. Still, Jimin kept her eyes fixed on the TV.

Dark circles had appeared underneath her sunken eyes. Her husband Sungyoon and her best friend Chelsea were still on the Moon. Therefore, Jimin was barely sane in recent days. She inevitably thought about the day after which her father never returned.

Her mothers had cried, and her brothers had looked grief-stricken. She could vividly remember it all as if it had happened just the previous day. At that time, she had cried her heart out as she had hugged the coffin that didn’t contain her father’s corpse.

If things went wrong, that scene might play out once again. It was almost a miracle that she was holding onto the threads to her sanity.

Bul-kuhk!

“Mom!”

Shinhae exited her room. The only one saving Jimin's sanity was the little girl.

“Hmm? What’s wrong?”

Jimin had been frozen like a statue up until that point, but she moved like a person once again. She smiled at her daughter, but she couldn’t hide the somewhat-stiff expression on her face.

Beep!

Jimin greeted Shinhae with her left hand and changed the channel using the remote with her right. The serious voice of the news anchor changed into the soothing voice of a narrator from a documentary series.

Shinhae didn’t know what had happened to Sungyoon. The little girl had suffered a lot of wounds over the years, and Jimin didn’t have the courage to tell Shinhae that her father was missing in action.

“Wow! It’s a lion!”

Shinhae turned her gaze toward the TV, and she naturally sat on top of Jimin’s lap. Jimin extended her arms and hugged Shinhae. The two stayed that way for several dozen minutes. 

The light from the setting sun dyed the plains of Africa red, and the credits rolled.

“It’s over.”

“Yes, it’s over.”

Shinhae looked up at the clock hanging on the wall of the living room.

“Ah! It's time for me to sleep!”

Shinhae jumped off from Jimin’s lap.

“You're going to sleep?”

“Yes!”

“Alright. Good night.”

Shinhae intently looked at Jimin.

“Huh? What’s wrong?”

“Are you ok, Mom?”

Jimin choked up. She felt as if the child’s eyes were looking into the depths of her heart. Her tears almost burst out, but she blinked them away. 

In no time, the small and soft hands of Shinhae grabbed Jimin’s hand.

Children were sensitive, especially sensitive to the emotions of their parents. This was especially true of children who had suffered childhood abuse, like Shinhae. That was why Jimin desperately pushed back on her tears.

“Yes. I’m fine.”

It was a white lie, but it was the only answer she could give right now. Jimin did her best to put on the brightest smile that she could muster.

“Mmm! You don’t look alright.”

“No. Mom is really ok.”

Shinhae kept studying Jimin’s face.

“Ok. But it's fine to be not ok.”

Shinhae let out a bright laugh.

“Dad will solve everything.”

Shinhae said her goodnights, and she went into her room. Normally, Jimin would tell Shinhae to sleep well in a kind manner. However, she couldn’t say anything at this moment.

***

Jimin went to her company. She was half out of her mind, but she couldn’t completely let go of her company. There was no confirmation about the deaths of Sungyoon and Chelsea. They could be alive.

She dragged her body to work and entered her office. As she had made her way to the office, she had felt the worried gazes of her employees. She didn’t put much effort into it as she scanned several documents on her desk. It was obvious to anyone that she was going through the motions. She was a husk of herself.

An hour passed like this.

“Hoo-ooh~”

In the end, Jimin put away the documents and leaned back against the chair.

Knock! Knock!

She heard a knock on the door.

“Enter.”

Jimin knew only one person who would visit her office at this time. Therefore, she told the person to enter without any hesitation. 

Jiyoon entered the room. She rivaled Jimin in how terrible she looked.

“President, I...”

Her voice was full of hesitation. She wanted to ask the question, but she was afraid of the answer that she would receive.

“I still haven’t received any news.”

Hearing Jimin's words, Jiyoon’s face darkened even further.

Jimin knew what Jiyoon was thinking and feeling at that moment because she was the same. However, Jiyoon’s presence allowed Jimin to relax a little bit. Jiyoon’s eyes were filled with tears as she looked down at the floor. 

Jimin’s voice was dry, but it became a bit softer when she spoke to Jiyoon.

“It’ll be fine.”

She repeated the message that Shinhae had told her the previous day. It was like a ray of light shining through the storm. It had given her a bit of hope.

“According to Shinhae, he’ll solve everything.”

After she spoke those words, she let out a small smile.

***

All hell had broken loose on Earth, and the worried family members of Connectors cried for their loved ones. As all of that was going on, the people left behind on the Moon desperately tried to think of a plan to get back to Earth.

“It must be pandemonium down there.”

“I’m sure it is.”

The Mayor and the Deputy mayor had serious expressions on their faces. The representatives chosen by the Connectors nodded.

“This is a very serious issue. We have to somehow escape the Moon to reach Earth.”

“Is it feasible?”

One of the Connectors asked the question.

“The Moon is crawling with monsters. So even if we exit onto the surface of the Moon, we might come across monsters. It will put the civilians in danger. Moreover, we need spaceships outbound toward Earth. We don’t have them, and neither do we have the means to contact Earth and ask them to send spaceships.”

“We have to acquire a communication device.”

“Where would we acquire such a thing? The only communication infrastructure capable of reaching Earth is located within Armstrong city. Are you suggesting we take back the city?”

“What if we go to Gagarin·Yang city? Maybe, the communication instruments there are still intact.”

“Monsters have been crawling in that place for a while now. Even if the communication instruments are intact, we don’t know the layout of the city. We have no idea where the instruments are. It would be much better to take back Armstrong city if we do choose to go that route.”

“There might be a chance that the monsters are gone by now. Don’t the monsters appear and disappear depending on the ebb and flow of magical energy from labyrinths near Armstrong city?”

“We sent a scout through the portal a couple of hours ago. The city is still full of monsters. The amount of magical energy leaking out of the labyrinths hasn't decreased.”

The people discussing the situation let out a groan when they heard this.

“That means the region surrounding Armstrong city is now like how it's in Gagarin·Yang city.”

Everyone started thinking harder.

“Ah! That’s right!”

One of the Connectors slapped his thigh. He crossed his arms and looked at Sungyoon.

“Hey, Knight. Didn’t you say that you created that portal? Can’t you make that portal on Earth?”

Of course, everyone had similar thoughts to the man who asked the question. They all looked at Sungyoon with anticipation in their eyes. However, Sungyoon shook his head from side to side. There was a heaviness to his actions.

“It's impossible. The portal can be opened only on the Moon, and it needs to be in a location with magical energy. That's why it's impossible to place the portal on Earth.”

“Shit!”

The Connector who had asked the question punched the wall. He was a powerful Connector, so the wall shook a little bit.

Everyone scrunched their faces as they desperately tried to come up with a different plan. At that moment, Sungyoon spoke to the Mayor.

“Mayor, what about Ms. Plu-El?”

“What? Did something happen with her?”

After hearing the general story, they had decided to ask for the details at a later time. Plu-El remained locked up in a room.

“What if we ask for help from her?”

Everyone turned to look at the Mayor and Sungyoon.

Was there a plan that might work? Their eyes shone with hope.

However, the Mayor didn’t look too thrilled by the idea.

“I know for a fact that she traveled between Earth and the Moon. I’m pretty sure she used the portal. If I can learn how she did it, we can safely evacuate everyone to Earth.”

“Mmm!”

Sungyoon was right, and the Mayor had thought about it before. However, there was one problem.

“Can we trust her?”

They still didn't fully trust Plu-El. If Plu-El fed them false information, it might cause irreparable harm to their group. Sungyoon agreed with the Mayor’s sentiment.

“If it's possible, it's the safest way we can evacuate the people from this place. At the very least, shouldn't we pose the question to her?”

The Mayor thought long and hard on it. The survivors were his responsibility, and he had to carry this responsibility on his shoulders. He soon made a decision.

“Alright! Let’s ask her.”

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