Chapter 99

Soobin sobered up in an instant. 

He wasn’t embarrassed because he had been urinating on the street. If he was capable of feeling shame, he wouldn’t have drunkenly yelled out his grievances in public. He wouldn’t have inconvenienced others in the first place. 

He hadn't sobered up because he heard a stranger's voice in a deserted alley. He was a damned Connector. Even if a gang of thugs ambushed him, he was confident he could beat them up.

He had sobered up because the voice behind him was creepy and chilling. He subconsciously looked for his Devices and Gems, which he didn’t have on him.

Soobin slowly turned around. Even if the opponent was the devil or a ghost, he had to face it.

Fortunately, his opponent was human. However, Soobin increased his guard.

It was early spring, so it was still cold outside. Most people wore long sleeves and a light jacket. However, the man in front of him wasn’t wearing anything like that. Even if there was a cold snap in the middle of winter, no one would wear clothes like the man in front of him.

A black robe covered his entire body, and a hood enveloped his face. As if that wasn’t enough, Soobin caught sight of a mask underneath the hood.

To all appearances, he looked very suspicious.

He was tall and stocky, yet he had worn a weird outfit. Soobin wondered if the outfit hid the man’s exact height and build.

“Who are you?”

He no longer slurred his words. Soobin discreetly got into his fighting stance as he asked the question. Even if he was being chased out of his company for his lack of abilities, he had fought live battles for the past couple of years. Due to his diligence, his fighting form was impeccable.

It seemed the man held a similar opinion.

“Amazing! Even if you are a 1st Gen, it shows that you have fought against monsters for the past couple of years.”

The man spoke.

This man really didn't want to reveal his identity. His voice sounded very distorted. It seemed he had installed a voice changer underneath the mask.

His words suggested he was giving a compliment, but from the way he had spoken, it sounded as if he was looking down on Soobin. Soobin was already suffering from an inferiority complex, so even if it was a compliment, he misconstrued the man’s words. It was as if the man had poured oil on the fire within Soobin.

“Are you trying to pick a fight with me!”

Soobin swung his fists into the empty air to threaten the man. However, the masked man just ignored the threat.

“Kim Soobin.”

The man spoke in a calm manner.

“First Gen Connector. Early on in your career, you received attention for growing pretty fast, and you were able to sign a contract with one of the leading conglomerates of the world. As a 1st Gen, you were a success. However, you met your limitations soon, so you were judged to be a mediocre 1st Gen. You were chased out of your company. Now, you go around trying to find a new company. However, none of them hire you.”

“You bastard!”

He was beyond mad. The calm words of the man were akin to rubbing salt on his wound. Soobin didn’t want to hear anymore, so he swung his fist towards.

A powerful strike sliced through the air. As expected of a Connector, he was faster than a normal person who worked out for a living.

However, Soobin couldn’t achieve his goal.

Tuhk!

His eyes turned round. His fist should have smashed through the mask and hood, yet it had been stopped, that too with one hand.

The man had stopped Soobin’s fist with the palm of his hand. Then, infusing a bit of strength into his arm, he pushed away the fist of Soobin, who staggered as he retreated backward.

“You are a Connector.”

Only another Connector could stop an attack from a Connector. The masked man could keep up with Soobin's speed, and he had used enormous strength to push him away. The masked man was a higher-ranked Connector. Soobin’s guard went up another notch.

“Now, now! Please calm down. I’m not here to fight you.”

However, Soobin didn’t lower his guard.

“I came here because I want to make you an offer.”

“An offer?”

As always, the hood and the mask hid the man’s face. However, Soobin was sure he was letting out a creepy and ominous laugh behind the mask.

“Do you not want to reclaim what is yours?”

“What is mine?”

“Yes. I’m talking about reclaiming what you are entitled to. You should have a power unbefitting a 1st Gen. You should have fame and fortune. Those ignoring you should have no choice but to crawl in front of you. This is the future you imagined. It is about reclaiming everything that should have been yours.”

Soobin gulped. His inner self shook when he heard the man’s words. He had been confident and proud when he had contracted himself to a large conglomerate. He remembered the time when he dreamed about his rosy future. At that time, he thought everything would turn out well. The masked man was speaking about the future that Soobin had dreamed about in the past.

However, at this point, all of it was merely a dream.

“It is as you've said. Do you really think it is possible for me to achieve all that as a 1st Gen?”

The more he spoke, the more he became miserable.

“What if it is possible?”

Maybe, this was why he became interested in the words of this very suspicious person in front of him.

“It’s possible?”

“Yes, it’s possible.”

Soobin shut his mouth.

Was this masked man playing a prank on him? That was the only conclusion he could make. The fact he was taking this seriously was laughable.

However, what if this man’s words were true? Soobin had been pushed to the brink, and at this point, he was willing to grasp at straws.

“… how is it possible?”

In the end, he asked the question. It was probably a prank, and Soobin was ready for something absurd and stupid.

The man took something out of his pocket and presented it to Soobin. Soobin stared at the item on the man’s palm, and his gaze became dyed with surprise.

It was a Gem.

“How do you have that here?”

When Connectors returned to Earth, their Devices and Gems were confiscated. All countries did this.

“Well, I have my ways.”

The masked man didn’t reveal any details.

Soobin also didn’t dig any further. The man had worn a robe, a hood, and a mask to hide his identity. Of course, he wouldn’t tell Soobin about anything illegal he had committed.

“What do you want me to do with this Gem?”

It was too dark to tell the color of the Gem. Even if it was the greatest rank Gem, the Diamond rank Gem, it would be useless in Soobin’s hands. He would be able to forcefully activate it, but he could wield its great power only a single time. It wouldn’t guarantee the future he had once dreamed about.

“Please look at it closely.”

The man moved the Gem closer to Soobin. Soobin looked doubtful as he turned on the light on his handphone. He wanted a better look at this Gem.

“It is a Red Gem.”

He had thought it would be a rare Gem, but he was disappointed. A Red Gem was the highest rank amongst the Rainbow rank Gems. However, in the entire hierarchy of Gems, it was considered to be the middle of the pack.

The man laughed out loud. It was a twisted laugh, as if he was mocking Soobin.

“No, it isn’t a Red Gem. It is something much more valuable.”

Soobin looked suspicious of the claim, but he decided to inspect the Gem once again. 

‘What the hell?’

He was sure the Gem had been red before. However, the Gem looked a bit different now. The color was a bit darker, and a murkiness had appeared in it.

“What the hell is this?”

“It is called the Blood Gem.”

An ominous name flowed out of his mouth.

As if the devil was tempting him, Soobin gulped. It was the appearance of a Gem he had never heard of before. It must be beyond rare, and it gave legitimacy to the man’s words.

‘This... this will bring me success.’

Soobin looked mesmerized as he reached for the Gem. However, he couldn’t grab it. The man had retracted his hand. The Gem disappeared from Soobin’s sight as if it was a midsummer dream.

Soobin looked like a child, whose present had been taken away. His eyes turned sharp as he glared at the man.

“This is obvious, but this item is beyond precious. If it was up to me, I would gladly give it to you, so you could achieve your future. However, I’m not doing this for free.”

The man spoke in a hesitant manner. However, there was no way this man was embarrassed or afraid. He was just playing with Soobin.

Soobin realized this. This was the devil’s temptation. An unknown man was offering an item that could bring about the future he wanted.

Of course, this man wanted something from him.

It was obvious that this man wanted him to do something dangerous. It would be best for him to leave this place. He should ignore this man. However, Soobin didn’t do that.

If he could pay back the humiliation, anger, and despair he felt, he would sell his soul to the devil. He was willing. Soobin was that desperate right now.

“What do you want?”

In the end, he asked the question.

“If this can really bring about the future I want, I’m willing to do almost everything you ask.”

“As expected, I knew you were someone I could talk to.”

His words sounded like a compliment. However, his attitude and the way he said it indicated that the man didn’t respect Soobin.

However, Soobin didn’t care. He was willing to sell his soul to the devil. At this point, he didn’t care about someone else’s attitude.

“I just need you to do one simple task.”

The man raised one finger.

“I just need you to kill an upstart 1st Gen without anyone finding out about it.”

* * *

After Sungyoon arrived at Armstrong, he had to spend three days there. It was an unexpected delay. He had asked a professional map maker to remake the map, but the map maker said he needed some time to complete it. Sungyoon tried to forget the look of bafflement on the map maker’s face upon seeing his map. He had worked very hard to draw it, but it was a mess. Fortunately, the map maker didn’t say it was impossible.

If everything went to plan, he would have stayed in Armstrong only for a day. At the latest, he would have stayed two days. However, his plan had been thrown out of the window. He had already replenished his supply of water and vitamin packs. He had time to burn. Normally, people would gladly rest when given an unexpected downtime. 

However, Sungyoon couldn’t do it.

Puh-uhk!

He used his shield to deflect the sharp tusks of the Fang Boar. He didn’t take the attack head-on and received the attack at an angle. The tusks of Fang Boar slid off to the side after he blocked it.

-Gweeeeeek!

The Fang Boar was as angry as it could be. It let out a scream of anger. However, it was the last cry it could make.

Boom!

The mace ruthlessly struck the monster's head. The Fang Boar couldn’t even let out a short cry and fell to the ground.

‘The 4th floor is easy for me now.’

He thought as he picked up the moonstone.

It had been a while since Sungyoon had entered the Beginner’s Labyrinth. The monsters on the 4th floor were already a no match for him. He wanted to go down further, but he knew that time wouldn’t allow him to do that. Still, he had made a good amount of money.

He had entered the Beginner’s Labyrinth to burn some time and to make some extra money. However, it was time to exit the labyrinth. Sungyoon didn’t want to overextend himself. He left the Beginner’s Labyrinth.

He walked towards the outer edge of Armstrong. Since a Personal Labyrinth had been assigned to him, he couldn’t receive any support from the Support Center. If he wanted to rent a room, he would have to pay a lot. Jimin had given him a card containing a lot of money to use for food and lodging, but Sungyoon didn’t spend that money. He didn’t want to overburden Jimin, who he considered to be his savior. Also, he didn’t feel the need to spend the money.

‘I can eat a vitamin pack for a meal, and I can sleep inside my Moon Surface Vehicle.’

When it came to spending money on himself, he was worse than a monk. He really did his best not to spend any money.

He delivered the moonstones to the professional transport company and slowly walked towards the exit of Armstrong. He moved towards where his Moon Surface Vehicle was parked.

However, Sungyoon was oblivious at that moment.

At a short distance away, someone was watching him with a bloody smile on his face.

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