Chapter 36

‘Shit! It still hurts.’

Sungyoon frowned as he massaged the location on his arm, where the Needle Hedgehog’s needle had pierced it. The needle was much weaker compared to the Mad Dog’s teeth and the Slash Cat’s claws. This was why he had chosen to tank the damage. Still, it was an attack from a real monster, and there was no way he would walk away with a minor injury like scratches on his skin. In fact, the Needle Hedgehog’s needle had pierced 5 cm into his skin.

‘Thankfully, it didn’t hit bone.’

His flesh felt like it was on fire, but he didn’t feel any aches in his bone. This was why he assumed the needle hadn’t hit bone. Of course, he didn’t have any evidence that supported his claim. He hadn’t received any close examination by a doctor.

It was said that Connectors recovered from injuries really quickly. It seemed that claim was true. His wound was clearly smaller. It wasn’t just his mind tricking his body. He was feeling less pain. At this rate, he would have no problem working tomorrow. Of course, this was only a feeling, and he didn’t have any evidence to back up his feelings.

His room was like a chicken coup. He was lying down on the hard floor as he extended his arms to each side. He started to feel around the floor to find something, and soon, his hand grabbed something hard. Sungyoon didn’t hesitate as he raised it in front of his eyes.

‘Should I consider myself fortunate for finding this?’

He had been barely able to withstand the attack from all sides. It had been a nightmare, but as a reward, he had gained something more precious than the three moonstones. Another reward had been left behind.

Sungyoon slowly rotated the item in front of his eyes as he inspected it. 

It was a necklace. The chain was thin, and it had a long frame attached to it. As a regular necklace, it wouldn’t be worth much. However, the frame had slots that were supposed to be adorned with Gems. It would have made the necklace shine more if it had Gems, but the Gems were conspicuously empty. There were only empty holes. To be specific, the hole was shaped like a star, and there were two holes next to each other in the middle.

It was a Device. Maybe, it was the price of withstanding an attack from multiple monsters. The Slash Cat had left a useful item behind as it left this world.

‘It is shaped like a star. Didn’t they say a star-shaped Gem increases one’s physical abilities?’

Sungyoon smacked his lips. Gems, which would increase his physical abilities, would be a great help to him. However, as he just had a near-death experience, a part of him wanted a bigger and sturdier shield. He wanted armors for his arms and legs. However, the shield summoning Gems were shaped like a cross, and the armor summoning Gems were shaped like an X. The two holes on the necklace were shaped like stars.

‘Moreover, both slots are Purple rank.’

Both slots carved into the frame were letting out the last color of a rainbow. Basically, it was similar to the bracelet Device he possessed. He could mount only the lowest-ranked Gems. He would have to use purple Gems. He could forcefully activate a higher-ranked Gem using it, but that was a one-off move.

Sungyoon controlled his emotions.

‘Let’s not rush this.’

He shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect from the beginning. However, his life had been threatened. This was why he was in a bit of a rush to find ways to protect his body. Still, this was his first big reward aside from the moonstones. If he could find Gems that fit the Device, he would be able to become much stronger.

‘I took a step closer to going to the Great Labyrinth. I’ll think of it in those terms.’

He took a very small step, but still, he had taken a step. It was much better than being stalled in one place.

‘So, the next mission is to find Gems that’ll fit?’

He had gone through a lot of hardship to earn the Device. He probably had to go through similar hardship to acquire the Gems.

Sungyoon placed the Device down next to him, and he used his uninjured arm to create a pillow for his head.

It happened at that moment.

Dee dee dee dee! Dee dee dee dee!

Sungyoon heard a phone ring next to him. Sungyoon turned his head, while he remained lying down. His room was basically a large coffin, and the phone was mounted on the wall. The extension phone was connected directly to the front desk of the support center. Sungyoon placed the phone to his ear.

“Hello.”

[I’m sorry to bother you when you are resting, Mr. Woo Sungyoon.]

It was a familiar voice. It was the voice of the receptionist, who always gave him water and vitamins every day.

“What’s the matter?”

[There is someone here who wants to meet Mr. Woo Sungyoon.]

Sungyoon tilted his head in puzzlement. He wasn’t close to anyone on the Moon. Even if he expanded the search criteria to Earth, he didn't know anyone who would look him up. This was especially true after his business went under. He wondered if something had gone wrong, and the president had to come back to the Moon. He was curious and wary. He asked for the identity of the person, who was asking to see him.

“Who is it?”

[Her name is Chelsea Strobe. She claims to be a friend of Ms. Hahn Jimin.]

‘Her?’

Sungyoon finally remembered that he actually knew someone on the Moon.

‘But why?’

Sungyoon had met Chelsea once when she was introduced to him by president Jimin. In truth, they were one step removed from being strangers. They had spoken half-heartedly to each other in their last meeting. Moreover, she was a beautiful woman. She wasn’t in Jimin's class, but she was beautiful enough to turn heads. Basically, she was the type of person he wanted to avoid. This was why he felt reluctant to meet her.

However, it didn’t mean he would decline meeting her.

‘She is the president’s friend.’

Sungyoon was unhappy, but he forcefully pushed down such emotion.

“Understood. Please tell her I’ll come down to meet her.”

[Yes, sir.]

The receptionist ended the call before Sungyoon could say anything further. Sungyoon put the phone back, and then he opened the door to his room. His movements were oddly weighed down. It wasn’t a trick of the eye.

* * *

“We meet again.”

It had been a couple of days since he had met Chelsea Strobe. The first thing he noticed was the fact that she was still cheerful and lively as before.

“Yes. Right.”

Sungyoon had greeted her, but he remained gloomy and dark.

“What brings you here?”

Sungyoon asked point-blank.

She had this thought last time, but this man was different from all the men she had met before. Currently, Sungyoon wasn’t that welcoming towards Chelsea.

‘Ughh. I’ll be a bit more patient.’

Chelsea was a bit upset, too. Sungyoon didn’t hit on her like the other guys, so she felt favorable towards him. However, that good feeling didn’t carry that much weight. Who would want to befriend someone that was openly avoiding her?

Chelsea pressed down on those negative feelings since she had to find out what kind of person Sungyoon was.

‘If he is like those bastards from the past trying to use Jimin, I won’t stand by and do nothing.’

When the time comes, she would kick him in the balls. Her personal feelings would be expressed through her foot.

However, it wasn’t time yet.

“I’m trying to see how you are doing. Jimin asked me to check in on you.”

“Is that so?”

That was all Sungyoon said. His blank eyes stared back at her. It made Chelsea feel more annoyed towards Sungyoon.

‘I hate men that hit on me, but the worst type of men are those that are uncooperative like this!’

It was an odd day for her. She was able to meet two people today from the complete opposite spectrum. Sungyoon was the exact opposite of the man that had tried to hit on her earlier. Both of their personalities grated on her nerves.

Chelsea once again held herself back.

‘Jimin. Next time we meet, you’ll have to pay me back with more than a single steak.’

She was going through with this ridiculous charade, because she was indebted to her friend.

In addition, she became prideful now that she was here. Chelsea knew that it was useless to be obstinate, but her personality wouldn’t let her back down now.

‘Maybe, he is trying to get rid of me by treating me like this. He might try to take advantage of Jimin after losing me.’

She used this plausible excuse to convince herself. She held firm in front of Sungyoon.

“How are you doing?”

“I’m doing ok. I’m getting used to everything.”

Sungyoon didn’t mention the injury to his arm. It wasn’t a deep wound, and he didn’t want to reveal his injury to someone that he had met only for the second time. It didn’t matter that she was a friend of his president.

“That’s a relief. Do you have some spare time? I want to talk to you.”

In truth, he wanted to go rest in his room. He had been injured today, and the fight he had experienced today was too spectacular. However, Jimin had asked Chelsea to look in on him. There was a good chance that Jimin would hear about his situation from Chelsea.

He couldn’t refuse.

He didn’t trust Jimin, but he was indebted to her. He had to be earnest in his duty towards her. If it didn’t cause harm to his daughter, he would do as asked. Unless Jimin betrayed him, he would put his best step forward. 

“…let’s do that.”

Sungyoon reluctantly nodded.

“Great. Shall we walk a little bit? It would be a bit awkward to have a conversation here.”

Chelsea looked at her surroundings as she spoke. There were a lot of people going in and out of the support center, and a good number of them were looking towards them with interest.

Chelsea walked in front of Sungyoon as she left the support center.

“There is a park nearby. Let’s go there.”

Sungyoon silently followed behind Chelsea.

He hadn’t known there was a park nearby. His recent life pattern was simple. He woke up, went to hunt in the labyrinth, and finally, he returned to his dorm to sleep. Rinse and repeat.

It was as Chelsea had said. After they walked a distance, a large park came into view. There were a lot of benches on the side. There was also a store selling soda, coffee, and dessert. Of course, Sungyoon and Chelsea didn’t even glance towards the shop. Both of them were too afraid to check the price of the food.

The two of them sat on a bench.

“Take this.”

Chelsea handed over the paper bag that she had been carrying. It was the paper bag containing the roasted potatoes. The Connector, who had hit on her earlier, had made fun of her for possessing it.

“You probably subsisted on vitamins only after we ate steak with Jimin. You should eat this. Connectors don’t need to consume calories, but it doesn’t mean they don’t like to eat. Humans are happiest when they are eating food.”

The bag rustled in Sungyoon’s hands. He saw baked potatoes inside. The baked potatoes were cold, and they had hardened. It was a common food seen on Earth. However, even the potatoes were extremely expensive on Armstrong.

He wasn’t hungry. However, it had been a while since he had eaten anything. Even this humble food made his mouth water.

“Please feel free to eat it. The research facility rations out the bare minimum of food, but I can afford to give you this. Also, I’m starting to get sick of eating potatoes.”

Chelsea didn’t want Sungyoon to feel burdened, so she spoke those words. However, there was also some truth to her words. She was truly getting sick of eating potatoes. It was part of the reason why she had brought the potatoes for Sungyoon. It probably made up over half of her reason.

Sungyoon stared at the potato in his hand. It was obvious that he was hesitant to eat it.

“If you really feel burdened by it, you can think of it as payment for the story you’ll tell me.”

Chelsea added those words. Sungyoon silently thought for a moment, and then he nodded. He ate the potato in one bite. The potato was cold, so it was starchy. However, it was as delicious as any food he had eaten on Earth. Sungyoon carefully chewed on the potato as if it was food sent down by the gods.

Chelsea stared at Sungyoon, who was eating the potato. He almost looked happy. It seemed the potato was very delicious to him. She felt good, because she had given him the food. Suddenly, she thought about the Connector, who had hit on her earlier. He called the potato cheap and low brow food. He had made fun of the researchers, who had to eat these types of food.

“Is it tasty?”

When Sungyoon came to his senses, Chelsea asked him a question. Sungyoon just nodded.

“Your station in life will improve as you explore the labyrinths. Later, you’ll probably ridicule it by calling it cheap food.”

She thought of Sungyoon to be on the same level as the earlier Connector. This was why she spoke in such a sarcastic manner. Chelsea was a bit shocked after she spoke those words.

‘It sounded like I was taking my anger out on him.’

She had decided not to take out her frustration of today’s events on Sungyoon. However, those words had escaped her mouth. Sungyoon stopped eating for a brief moment as he looked at Chelsea. Chelsea quickly tried to apologize, but Sungyoon spoke before she could.

“I don’t know what my future holds, but at the very least, this is the most delicious food to me right now.”

After he spoke those words, Sungyoon started shoveling in the rest of the potatoes.

Chelsea was speechless. To be frank, she was caught off guard. She had never expected Sungyoon to say such words.

‘At the very least, he isn’t like the last two.’

Chelsea suddenly remembered the words spoken by Jimin before she had departed. Chelsea looked at Sungyoon’s face once again. Sungyoon was breaking the remaining potatoes into little pieces so he could prolong his meal.

It wasn’t as if she had thrown away all her suspicion. His earlier words might be some words he came up with to deceive her.

But…

‘Still, I think Jimin has a point.’

Chelsea lowered her guard a little bit towards Sungyoon.

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