Insoo looked at his monitor as he typed in each letter. Age was a hell of a thing. His eyesight had grown dim with age, so he furrowed his brows as he entered the data. He barely avoided being a two-fingered typist, but if he let his concentration lapse even for a moment, his screen would soon be covered with typos.
The young people around him moved their fingers as if they had received some kind of special training for their fingers. Their fingers blurred across the keyboard. He felt like a tortoise trying to catch up to the hare.
However, he didn’t give up. Diligence was the virtue possessed by the tortoise. He couldn’t give up in the middle.
He obstinately entered in all the data, finally finishing his report.
He stretched and loosened his stiff body, trying to get rid of all the stress he had accumulated. He blinked once as he looked at the clock. It was time to punch out soon. However, his face didn't have a bright expression. In fact, a slight shadow had appeared on his face.
‘I won’t be able to get off work on time.’
He wanted to kick the ass of anyone that said public employees always left work on time.
“I prepared what you asked for, chief.”
A man placed a fat stack of documents on Insoo’s desk. His workload had increased once again. He knew he had asked for these papers, yet his underling had brought it right before he got off work. A small seed of resentment appeared in his heart.
However, his underling remained unfazed. He had only carried out Insoo’s order. Moreover, Insoo wasn’t an evil boss that would let negative emotions get in the way of a working relationship.
Still, Insoo looked so bitter that the underling naturally refused to meet Insoo’s gaze.
“Huh? This person is….”
In the process of trying to avoid his boss's gaze, he caught sight of a paper that was slightly out of place in the pile of documents. He could see a picture and the profile of a man.
“Aren’t you in charge of this Connector, chief?”
“Yes. Why? Are you interested in him?”
Resentment wouldn’t help with his work, so he got rid of it. Insoo queried him.
“I am a little bit. He is very ‘hot’ in the industry right now.”
No one had expected anything from this 1st Gen Connector. However, he had acquired a Personal Labyrinth in half a year after registering as a Connector. He had achieved an amazing feat. He was contracted to a run-of-the-mill small company that usually faded away without making any ripple in the industry. This fact increased the surprise felt by everyone.
“In truth, I didn’t know what you were thinking when you decided to take charge of a newly awakened 1st Gen. I never knew he would become such an amazing prospect. I have great respect for you.”
He wasn’t kissing his boss's ass. There was a real twinkle in his eyes, and it ruthlessly stabbed Insoo's guilty conscience.
‘I didn’t take his case with such an intention.’
His friend’s daughter had begged him for help. This was why he had worked within his power to introduce someone to her. He didn’t want to unnecessarily bring other employees into this venture, so he had done it himself. In his division, everyone thought he had developed the ‘touch’ of finding talent, because he worked here for so long. It seemed he was being looked up to by everyone in his division right now.
Insoo was a bit embarrassed by it.
“Coincidence. It was all coincidence. Even if a 1st Gen shows explosive growth, most of them fizzle out sooner rather than later.”
“Ah. Wasn’t there a similar case where someone you found became famous? Wasn’t his name Kim Soobin?”
Insoo instantly furrowed his brows when he heard that name. He was the ungrateful Connector who had stabbed Jimin in the back. He had wanted to use the full extent of his power to cause trouble for that man, but he had held himself back.
“In the beginning, he grew in an explosive manner, but he quickly ran into his limitation. It took him a couple of years to graduate from the Beginner’s Labyrinth. According to rumors, he suffered a lot. Also, he’s fallen out of favor with the company that had scouted him.”
Insoo’s lips twitched this time. That hateful little worm had suffered a lot. He felt much better now. There was a saying that said love your enemies, but Insoo was incapable of such magnanimous gestures.
“His contract is coming to an end soon, and it is rumored that his company won’t re-up his contract.”
That would be the end of him. He would have to once again search for a company willing to make a contract with him. Of course, he had barely graduated the Beginner’s Labyrinth, and he was a 1st Gen Connector who had already reached his limit. No company worth their salt would give him a contract. He won’t be able to find a large company like his current company, nor would he be able to find a company like the company of Jimin, who had spared nothing in supporting him. He would have to fish at the bottom of the barrel.
“That’s his fortune. He has limited ability. We can’t do anything for him, and we aren’t obligated to help him, either.”
“I guess you are right.”
His underling agreed with Insoo as he once again looked at Sungyoon’s profile.
“Since there are cases like that, I wonder how far this guy can grow.”
“Why are you so curious about him?”
“I made a bet with the other employees. It is based on how high he can go. I went big. I said he’d go as far as the Orange rank.”
The Gold-rank Gem was already the floor for Sungyoon, but they didn’t know this fact.
“Tsk tsk. You guys are public servants, yet you guys are gambling. Way to go.”
“Jeez, chief! It isn’t gambling. It is a bet for who buys lunch.”
“Alright. You should go if you are done here.”
Insoo waved his underling away with his hand. His eyes went back to Sungyoon’s profile, which had been the topic at hand.
‘I’m glad I was of help to you.’
He should be happy. His introduction hadn’t been a waste. However, Insoo couldn’t openly be pleased with himself as worry appeared in his heart.
‘I’m sure the scouts will start to come.’
Mid-sized companies would try to take shots at Sungyoon. No! At his rate of progress, some large company might try to hit the jackpot. They’ll directly scout Sungyoon like what they did to Kim Soobin.
If Sungyoon got scouted, Jimin would be abandoned once again.
‘Then she’ll fold her business.’
Insoo wanted the girl to give up on her business. He would welcome it. However, he couldn’t help but feel a bittersweet emotion in his heart. He could see the image of Jimin in front of his eyes. He knew she would be hurt from disappointment.
* * *
Jimin glared at the business card as if she wanted to rip it into pieces. She looked between Sungyoon’s face and the business card. All kinds of thoughts filled her head. She was afraid Sungyoon would leave her company, felt hopeless at the thought of folding her company, but also got a sense of relief at the idea of Sungyoon receiving a fair valuation now. He would be able to live a happy life. Conflicting emotions appeared within her and started causing a world war inside her heart.
“… I think it’ll be for the best if I leave right now.”
In the end, Jimin decided to run away from her overflowing thoughts. She placed her luggage next to the door and quickly turned away.
Chelsea called out after her, but Jimin didn’t stop. She didn’t even wait for the elevator. She opened the emergency door and disappeared down the stairway.
Chelsea quickly put down her luggage too.
“I’m sorry! I have to go right now!”
She gave a half-hearted goodbye as she ran after Jimin.
Everything happened in a flash.
Sungyoon was taken aback, but he kept his mouth shut. Shinhae was still soundly asleep, so an awkward silence was left behind.
“May I talk to you for a moment?”
The man’s voice broke the silence. He didn’t look interested in Jimin and Chelsea, who had quickly vacated the vicinity. The bright eyes beyond the glasses looked straight at Sungyoon. He didn't blink an eye even when such a ruckus occurred in front of him. He only moved to acquire his target. Sungyoon could smell something slightly inhuman about this man.
Sungyoon turned to look at the emergency staircase where Jimin and Chelsea had stormed out. He was taken aback by their unpredictable actions, but he decided to deal with the man in front of him first.
“… please wait a moment.”
First, he had to put Shinhae to bed, and he had to get all his luggage. Sungyoon opened the door, and the first thing he did was to put his daughter on top of her bed. Then he moved all the luggage into his house. He even brought the stuff left behind by Jimin and Chelsea. Finished with all that, he invited the man into the house. He couldn’t leave Shinhae alone while she slept. He had no choice.
The man took off his shiny shoes and entered the house. Sungyoon didn’t want their conversation to wake Shinhae, so he closed the door to the room. He directed the man to sit at the kitchen table.
‘He is Lee Jungmyun from Fabion.’
Sungyoon thought about the content of the business card he saw earlier. Fabion was an international moonstone collection company that was considered to be the cream of the crop in the industry. Even his ex-best friend and sworn-enemy Jaeho’s company was a step below Fabion. It galled him to admit this, but his previous company would have been considered to be a pebble that could be kicked around by this company.
In his youth, he would have accepted this fact, but at the same time, he would be fired up to compete with such a company. However, that wasn’t the case anymore. Sungyoon just noted the fact that Fabion was a good company.
“What does a person from Fabion want with me?”
He didn’t offer coffee or tea, and went straight to the heart of the issue. It was clear proof that Sungyoon wasn’t so pleased with Jungmyun’s presence. Still, Jungmyun had been in this business for a long time, and he didn’t blink an eye when he was treated poorly.
“I am here to scout you, Mr. Sungyoon.”
“… scout me?”
Sungyoon became surprised.
The people around him kept saying that he was progressing at an abnormal pace, but he hadn’t taken their words to heart. It wasn’t as if he didn’t believe them. He just wasn’t interested in the topic. He didn’t care if his growth was fast or not. He didn’t care if he had a good reputation or not. He just wanted to work for Shinhae, and he wanted to fulfill his contract.
“The rumors about you are spreading in certain circles. You are a 1st Gen, yet, you were assigned a Personal Labyrinth faster than most of the 2nd & 3rd Gens.”
Admiration was evident in his voice.
“Our company has become impressed with Mr. Sungyoon’s skill. The higherups want to invest in your future.”
“Still, I’m only a 1st Gen Connector.”
“That’s right, and we know the risks involved. However, it is a fact that Mr. Sungyoon graduated from the Beginner’s Labyrinth in a short time. Result! In this business, results are everything. You proved you can get the result.”
“I’m already contracted to a company.”
“It is a very small company.”
Jungmyun spoke in no uncertain terms.
“It doesn’t matter how good of a contract you have with your current company. The support that can be provided by a large corporation will be much better. Monetary support isn’t a problem either. We won’t lose in terms of money, and we have employees with a lot of experience. They are on a different level. If you want to fly higher, you need better support.”
He started taking out documents from his bag and placed it in front of Sungyoon.
“These are the basic terms I can offer in a contract. You can leave everything related to breaking the contract with your current company with me. I’ll take care of it cleanly so that nothing messy comes from it. Even if you signed the contract under very unfavorable circumstances, please do not worry about it. The law does not recognize contracts signed under duress.”
It seemed the man thought there was no chance that Sungyoon would decline their offer.
But Sungyoon didn’t even look at the documents placed in from of him. He was very simple and direct with his words.
“I don’t want it.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter