SPACE 1. Ark’s 24 Hours
Lee Myung-ryong scratched his head. As a brief background, Lee Myung-ryong was the leader of the 1st SWAT team and receive various commendations for solving cases. He was quite famous among criminals. Then there was an event that caused friction with a senior police officer and he was transferred to the cyber investigations team. But Lee Myung-ryong diligently worked heard and used his exception skills to capture an illegal criminal organization operating in a virtual reality game. Currently Lee Myung-ryong was overseeing a cyber investigation team. However his opinion often differed from his superior Cho Young-hwan.
“What are you thinking?”
Cho Young-hwan yelled as soon as Lee Myung-ryong entered his office
“Ah really. Why does your face look like this in the morning? Are you fighting with sister-in-law again? That’s not good. You can’t reprimand your subordinates just because your home life isn’t good.”
“Don’t talk and sit down. What did you do?”
“What did I do? Working hard?”
“Are you really going to act like this?”
“What do you mean? Am I a psychic? How can I answer when I don’t even know what you’re talking about? I don’t know.”
Lee Myung-ryong pouted like a child and said. Cho Young-hwan frowned as he looked at Lee Myung-ryong and sighed.
“The NIS called.”
“The NIS? For me? Why?”
“I’m asking because I don’t know! You, are you really not hiding something from me? If you know then confess now. Do you think it is common for the NIS to call the police? If I don’t know then how can I deal with it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then why is the NIS calling for you all of a sudden?”
“I don’t know.”
Lee Myung-ryong replied in a disinterested voice. But he was reminded of something. A month ago he had received a request from Gwon Hwa-rang. The land in the Taek Mountains where a new town construction had been planned suddenly had its price plunged. Gwon Hwa-rang found that powerful politicians and tycoons were behind it and asked Lee Myung-ryong to investigate. Lee Myung-ryong had quietly asked some colleagues for help and now he received a call from the NIS. This couldn’t be a coincidence. The NIS was a powerful organization. This call was obviously related to that work.
‘First they roll over a civilian and now they’re planning to do it to a police officer? There seems to be something smelly. I want to hear what they have to say.’
Lee Myung-ryong headed to the NIS. He explained his request to a guide and a man appeared.
“Are you Lee Myung-ryong from the Gangnam cyber investigations team? I am the assistant manager Kang Ho-cheol. My supervisor is Chief Moon Ji-hun. But the Chief was called to an emergency meeting just now. It will take some time.”
“You want me to wait until then?”
“I’m sorry. The matter is……”
Unlike his words, there was no sign of an apology on Kang Ho-cheol’s face. It wasn’t anything new. The NIS investigated cases related to national security and separate investigations. Therefore the NIS tended to consist of elites that looked down on the police.
‘It isn’t anything new but……’
He didn’t like being treated like this. Kang Ho-cheol noticed his unpleasant expression and started to talk again.
“Is this your first visit to the NIS?”
“Then I will give you a tour of the facilities. You will be spending a lot of time here so you should get to know this place better. This was the Chief’s instructions.”
“Spending a lot of time here? What do you mean?”
“The Chief will explain the details. Follow me.”
‘These bastards, what mischief are they plotting?’
But Lee Myung-ryong didn’t worry about it too deeply. The answer wouldn’t appear even if he thought about it so he would just take it step by step. He would meet that guy called Chief Moon. And he would see what the NIS wanted. That was Lee Myung-ryong’s way. Just as Lee Myung-ryong was thinking this.
“I heard that you’ve mastered taekwondo. Are you still training?”
“Then you must be interested in the sport facilities.
“That’s great. The Chief instructed me to show you around but aren’t all government offices the same? This is the dining room. Meat dishes will be served three times a week. These are the lodgings. The cushion beds are okay? And this is the gym.”
Lee Myung-ryong was shown around but he had no interest in things like offices. But he was interested in the gym. The NIS was a place where Korea’s elites gathered. He was curious about the martial arts ability of the NIS employees. But Lee Myung-ryong was disappointed when he arrived at the gym. It might have state of the art equipment that was better than the police department’s but there was no one there exercising. Then Kang Ho-cheol sent him a coy look.
“Do you want to try it?”
“Yes, well……eh?” Huh?”
“Actually I asked Chief Moon about your history. You’re now in the cyber investigations team but you used to be the leader of the 1st SWAT team. Doesn’t that mean you’re one of the best at fighting? Isn’t it uncommon to meet a person like that? I want to be taught martial arts from someone famous like you. It will also kill some time. How about it?”
“No, I’m not that great……”
Lee Myung-ryong said with a frustrated expression. In fact, Lee Myung-ryong was someone who liked sparring. That’s why he operated until the belief that ‘they’re a criminal so it is possible to beat them up.’ But he had spent the last year in a virtual reality game. Well he could fight in the virtual reality game so he had no complaints.
‘However it is different from an actual fight!’
The employees of the NIS were the best in the nation. Yet he suddenly had this request sprung on him!
“It’s fine if it is just a light spar.”
And 10 minutes later. The leader of a cyber investigation team and an employee of the NIS stood facing each other in the gym wearing sparring uniforms.
“Now, I’ll start first.”
Kang Ho-cheol was the one who moved first. He did a sharp, front kick as soon as his words ended. Lee Myung-ryong could measure his opponent’s skill with just that kick. He could see that there was a solid base. However there was no threatening feeling. Kang Ho-cheol wasn’t lacking in ability. This spar was strictly to gauge each other’s skills. It wasn’t an actual fight so there was no tension and they adjusted their power not to injure his opponent. Despite that, it was possible for Lee Myung-ryong to grasp the ability of Kang Ho-cheol.
‘He has considerable skills. A criminal won’t be a match for him. This is a light spar but I can’t be careless or else I will humiliate myself.’
The situation suddenly changed. Lee Myung-ryong had been blocking Kang Ho-cheol. Suddenly Kang Ho-cheol stretched out his arm and elbowed Lee Myung-ryong in the forehead. An elbow attack was dangerous so they were banned in mixed martial arts fights. He never imagined that elbows would be used in a spar. He hastily retreated from the attack and touched his forehead with his hand. The area grazed by the elbow was red.
“Hik! I-I’m sorry. That reminds me, wasn’t this a light taekwondo spar? The martial arts taught at the NIS is a little different from that of the police. The NIS’ special missions often turn violent so we learn taekwondo that is more on the radical side. It is a habit to use my elbow. Did you get hurt?”
“It doesn’t hurt but……”
“I’m glad. Maybe it is better to stop the spar now. Like I said, the martial arts I learn is a little extreme. I’m being cautious but if I make another mistake and injure you then I’ll be in trouble.”
‘Aha! So it is something like this.’
An ‘!’ popped into Lee Myung-ryong’s head. Kang Ho-cheol told him to wait several hours then suddenly wanted to spar. It was clearly some type of mischief that Moon Ji-hun put him up to. Perhaps Moon Ji-hun called him in because he sensed that Lee Myung-ryong was prying into the politicians and tycoons. And the NIS was trying to scare a simple police officer. However, the opponent was Lee Myung-ryong. The NIS probably investigated Lee Myung-ryong’s background. He had a reputation as a loud and stupid detective and he clashed with a previous police chief. A man like that wouldn’t retreat so easily. So they probably planned to beat down Lee Myung-ryong with the spar.
‘Does the NIS think that lightly of the police?’
In fact, this was a system that Lee Myung-ryong often used. He would just method to train a rookie detective. Therefore Lee Myung-ryong knew what Kang Ho-cheol was planning.
‘So you want to die?’
A shallow smile spread on Lee Myung-ryong’s face. Then a man watching from a corner of the gym on the second floor also smiled.
The man muttering in a low voice was Moon Ji-hun. Lee Myung-ryong’s guess was almost the right answer. In fact, Mon Ji-hun brought him to the NIS for a different reason. Not long ago Moon Ji-hun received an order from the Emergency Planning Department about incorporating some special advisors. The NIS was in a position where he had to accept a mere policeman as an advisor. This was humiliating for Moon Ji-hun. However Lee Myung-ryong’s admission had already been decided by the ‘top.’ He had to accept it.
‘But it is different if the person concerned is involved in an accident. For example, a situation where he needs two month administrative leave to recover from injuries obtained in a spar.’
And Kang Ho-cheol had the skills to cause such an accident. He introduced himself as Moon Ji-hun’s assistant but his actual title was the NIS field agent’s martial arts instructor. Lee Myung-ryong might know martial arts but he would be no match. The problem was whether he accepted the spar. Lee Myung-ryong might back down if he became too scared.
‘Well, it’s not that bad. Someone like that can’t join the Lucifer Hunting team. But it looks like there was no need to worry. I know guys like Lee Myung-ryong. His ego just needs to be poked and……’
“Aren’t these accidents common in sparring? I can’t be a police officer if I’m scared of this much.”
“You want to continue?”
“You might really get hurt……”
“I don’t mind. Isn’t this a spar?”
Lee Myung-ryong shook out his arms and legs and replied.
‘Of course he would continue.’
Moon Ji-hun smiled as he looked over the two of them. His answer was expected. However Moon Ji-hun had overlooked one important thing. It was……
“No, I won’t go easy on you. Isn’t it good if we both don’t have to hold back? Let’s give it everything we’ve got even if there are injuries.”
His name was Lee Myung-ryong. He was the best and worst policeman in Korea.
“Give me an answer!”
The square in front of S-20’s administrative office. Hundreds of people swarmed and created a nasty atmosphere.
“My shop was completely smashed by the airship. The equipment in my trailer has been turned to scrap iron. How are you going to take responsibility for this?”
“We are aware of the situation and the damage. Please calm down a bit……”
“How do you expect us to calm down?”
“The smashed trailer is my entire fortune!”
“I paid taxes to trade in this sector so I expect a guarantee of safety. The administrator is obliged to protect my property. Does it make sense that you’re pretending ignorance?”
The merchants cried out in upset voices. The reason for their resentment was the airship crash that occurred a few hours ago. An airship had crashed into the middle of S-20 out of the blue! Two stores in the centre were completely smashed while the four surrounding stores were affected as well. It was impossible for the store owners to not be upset. They weren’t the only ones complaining.
“How are you going to handle the PK?”
“We’re similar to the merchants. We paid money to enter the dungeons. Now we can’t even hunt the monsters in the dungeon without being affected by PKing? If there is going to be PK then reduce the sector and dungeon fee!”
“Our party had to pay 3 gold to access the dungeon. Yet we were killed after 30 minutes!”
“Is anything installed in the dungeon to prevent chaotic people?”
“Either install it straight away or refund my fee!”
They were victims of successive PKing occurring in the dungeon. Mellin and Hegel tried to calm them down but the complaints showed no signs of declining. More victims of the incidents kept on showing up. And they hadn’t taken any measures to prevent it. They couldn’t properly respond to the complaints so the victims became even more furious. And just as they were on the verge of an explosion!
Woong woong woong!
There was a storm in the calm sky. Clouds scatted because of an unseen force and one spaceship appeared. The sleek, streamlined body reflecting light like a mirror was the Silver Star!
“Hyung-nim is back!”
Mellin and Hegel’s expression brightened. They ran to the Silver Star and bombarded Ark with questions.
“Ark, yes, how did things go?”
“Is there another answer?”
But Ark didn’t answer. Ark’s eyes turned towards the people gathered in front of the office. He could tell why they were there just because of his expression. They were the disgruntled people who were injured in the series of incidents. One guy headed towards Ark and said.
“You came Ark-nim! We…..”
Ark raised his hand and nodded.
“I know what you’re about to say. As the administrator of S-20, I want to apologize to all victims affected by the incidents.”
“That isn’t what we want to hear!”
“I already know. Compensation.”
Ark once again interrupted their words.
“I’ve taken that into account. But as you know, it has been less than a day since the incidents occurred. I need time to understand the sequence of events. Therefore I need time to prepare countermeasures.”
“Instead I will promise one thing.”
Ark gave the pioneers a serious look and said.
“S-20 is my sector. If you have suffered from incidents in S-20 then of course I will take responsibility. I have no intention of evading that responsibility. I swear you will be compensated for any damage. In the worst case I’ll even sell S-20!”
Mellin and Hegel exclaimed with surprise. But Ark just lifted an eyebrow and continued speaking.
“Once again, I am the administrator of S-20. I’m not going to flee. Like I said, I’ll be happy to provide compensation. So please believe in me for a few days.”
“Well, if you say so……”
The gathered pioneers scratched their heads. It was hard to keep being furious with Ark’s promise of compensation.
“I’ll say one thing. The incident with the airship and PKing wasn’t Ark-nim’s fault. But Ark-nim is the sector administrator and you’ve received the most damage. Now you’re shouldering the responsibility and promising compensation as well? In this situation we shouldn’t put too much pressure on Ark.”
“I also have the same idea.”
They were his acquaintances Shein and Kuma.
“Me too. My trailer has already been damaged by the airship crash so what else can I do? The administrator promised to shoulder responsibility so I’ll wait a bit more.”
The NPC merchant Gid also helped out with his words. The pioneers making complaints started dispersing. The Royal Guards sighed with relief and looked at Ark.
“Phew. Now I can breathe for a bit.”
“Hyung-nim came back just in time.”
“Yes, the atmosphere seemed like they were going to riot.”
The Royal Guards’ expression became lighter as they talked. But Ark didn’t answer. Ark sat at the desk with a heavy expression and asked Mellin.
“Has Rapid come back yet?”
“No, I have not seen him.”
Ark murmured with a sigh. Mellin noticed Ark’s attitude and asked in a concerned voice.
“It didn’t go well?”
Ark silently nodded. Once again, Marquis Jyubel and the Laius company were behind the events in S-20. Multiple events occurred simultaneously so the first person who popped into Ark’s head was Marquis Martin.
-Those damn bastards want to play like this huh? Okay, if you want a fight then I’ll give you one. You’re mistaken if you think this much will scare me off. If they come this way then I will smash the minster of domestic affairs or the 4 large companies!
That’s what he said but…..
-The sudden command to install facilities by the central government.
-The continuous PK cases in Mt. Fargo that occurred a few days ago.
-The channel linking the lake and centre being block by the research centre being built.
-The Laius group drilling a tunnel to the dungeon and not charging any fees.
-A airship damaging 4 stores with a crash.
Incidents occurred one after another! Ark was honestly confused about how to clean it all up. Furthermore his opponents were the minister of Domestic Affairs and one of the largest companies on Istana. There was no guarantee what else they might’ve planned.
‘I have to mobilize all the means available to me!’
So Ark went straight to Marquis Martin……
“I already know.”
Martin Marquis said as soon as he saw Ark.
“I’ve received a report about S-20 from my adjutant. I knew Jyubel and the Laius company would cause trouble one day but I didn’t expect it would turn out like this.”
“Is there a way to resolve it?”
“To tell you the truth……”
Marquis Martin paused and sighed before continuing.
“Right now there is nothing I can do to help the situation.”
“Yes, the auditor’s words were true. The incident in Charem was caused by an unidentified virus that cause Sufferers and the Parliament received a report about the bio hazard risks. In order to prevent the recurrence of an incident like this, a bill was created that required disaster prevention facilities to be installed in all cities and sectors. That bill was approved by Parliament a few days ago. It isn’t just S-20 but all sectors in Istana who have to comply. I can’t give S-20 preferential treatment in a situation like this.”
Ark felt breathless as his jaw dropped. Right now S-20 had several problems but the most important one was the <Audit Command> quest. The other problems were simply damage inflicted to S-20 but if he couldn’t complete the <Audit Command> quest in the time period then he would lose his administrator license. Then the solution was simple.
If he installed the security, disaster prevention and sanitary facilities then it would be okay. But like always, the problem was money. Safety equipment were things like a shield or automatic turrets surrounding the sector. After receiving the audit command, Tori did some calculations and the amount required to install those facilities was at least 20,000 gold! Combined with the disaster and sanitary equipment, that was a total of 30,000 gold! Ark didn’t have that kind of money.
There was a way to obtain some money. The airship that crashed into S-20. Two stores in the centre were completely smashed while the four surrounding stores were affected as well. The airship had the mark of the Laius company on it! Therefore Ark had the right to ask for compensation from Laius.
‘The scale of damage isn’t small so I can receive a considerable amount of compensation. I can use the compensation to pay for the facilities and avoid disaster. I’m sorry for the merchants who received damage but my priority is to protect the sector. I can pay the merchants interest until the sector has stabilized.’
This was the reason Ark came to visit Marquis Martin. He received the <Audit Command> quest. And Marquis Martin was a high ranking noble. He hadn’t expected him to cancel the quest. However the compensation was a different matter. The Laius company was aiming for S-20. Whether the crash incident was accidental or not, he could ask for compensation. He wanted to receive the compensation so he could complete the <Audit Command> quest in time. Marquis Martin could make that happen.
…..That’s what he thought.
“I can’t do that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you really think the airship crash occurred by accident?”
“Is it important whether it was an accident or not?”
“No, it is very important.”
Marquis Martin clicked his tongue and continued talking.
“Have you considered that the Laius group deliberately caused the accident?”
“According to my research, the Laius group had reported that airship stolen a few days ago. It is clear that the airship belongs to the Laius group. But all of their airships are covered by insurance. Therefore all damages caused by the airship must occur through the insurance company.”
“Won’t I still receive a compensation?”
“The insurance company has raised an objection to this accident. The airship that crashed into S-20 was just about to be disposed of. Therefore the insurance company believes the thief deliberately stole it for the insurance payout and won’t give the payout until their investigation ends. And the Laius company accepted it.”
“All of Laius’ airships are insured with the Trial insurance company. And Trial was a subsidiary of Laius a few years ago. Do I need to explain more?”
From the beginning it was all planned out. Reporting it as stolen, the crash and the postponement of the insurance payout. And the postponed payouts included S-20’s compensation. It was clear when looking at the situation. Trial intended to quarrel with the Laius company over the insurance payout. This would last until Ark was stripped of the administrator position.
“Yes, this isn’t a problem that Marquis Martin can solve.”
“The same goes for your other problems. The federation has an obligation to protect the sector. You manage the dungeon but the dungeon isn’t technically part of your sector. So the federal army can’t intervene if the murderers are going around in the dungeon. And the Laius group is constructing outside the sector so legally there isn’t a problem.”
In the end he wasn’t able to give any help. Marquis Martin was the military advisor and a powerful noble in the federation. But he wasn’t capable of everything. Especially since Jyubel had an equal status with him. Marquis Jyubel was the minister of Domestic Affairs. He had a stronger influence on domestic affairs while Marquis Martin had more influence in military matters.
Then Martin Marquis spoke again.
“I’ve helped you several times. Perhaps Jyubel didn’t like that which is why he is acting this time. That’s why I can’t do anything. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“He expects you to understand while we’re dying?”
Berad became furious after hearing Ark’s explanation.
“In the end he is just pretending ignorance!”
“This is why we shouldn’t believe in the nobility. Dammit! Didn’t we go back to the battlefield because he needed us?”
“Next time I’ll smash his head in!”
The Royal Guards exclaimed in rough voices.
“That’s not what he means.”
Ark shook his head.
“It’s not that Marquis Martin won’t help. He can’t help.”
“Eh? What’s that? That’s the same thing.”
“It is very different.”
Ark replied in a calm voice. In the end Marquis Martin couldn’t help so visiting him was pointless. But he could regain his calm because of his conversation with the Marquis. Ark had been in an excited state when visiting him. The <Audit Command> had been followed by one incident after another. He knew that Jyubel and the Laius group were aiming for S-20 so he had no choice but to be worked up. Therefore he couldn’t see the situation correctly. Marquis Martin calmed him down.
“Jyubel and the Laius group planned this. They wouldn’t leave such an easy loophole It was stupid to expect a reward from the airship crash. But Marquis Martin did help in some way. I couldn’t receive help from him but I could figure out the situation.”
Needless to say, the Laius company’s purpose was S-20. However Jyubel’s purpose wasn’t S-20. Why would the minister of domestic affairs care about an underdeveloped sector? He might be helping the Laius company but that isn’t his purpose. Jyubel’s target was Marquis Martin. That’s why Marquis Martin stressed that he couldn’t get involved. He had prepared a small trap for Marquis Martin and now he was in a corner. This was the reason Marquis Martin couldn’t help. If he interfered then Jyubel might make things even worse. Mellin shook his head and sighed again at Ark’s explanation.
“In the end we’re like shrimps caught in a war between whales.”
It was an accurate representation. That was Ark’s current situation.
“But I’m not a shrimp.”
Ark raised his head after a moment and said.
“I’m not going to give up until the end.”
“What do you mean? Did you find a way?”
“Then did you want to give up?”
“No, that’s not…..thousands of gold is needed in order to install those facilities. There is also a time limit so we need to start construction immediately. How are we going to get that type of money?”
“However we can’t give up!”
Berad struck the desk and stood up. The other members also got up and shouted.
“Yes! S-20 is our land! This is the land that Hyung-nim obtained after becoming bloody on the battlefield! Why do we have to give up such a land?”
“That’s right! Besides, we haven’t seen the sun for a month because we were digging! I’m not going to give it to someone else! There is no way!”
“I would rather carry a bomb to plunge into that research centre!”
“That would be a problem.”
Ark said with a smile.
“The sector’s only hope is that research centre.”
“The research centre? What do you mean?”
Mellin asked with confusion at the mention of the research centre. If he could explain, most facilities were moved inside blocks that could be easily assembled. As long as there was sufficient equipment and manpower, the building could be completed in a few days. If Laius poured a considerable amount of money into it then it could be completed in one day.Near the sector office was a state of the art research centre with the latest facilities.
“What is the Laius company’s purpose?”
“Isn’t it S-20?”
Ark then shouted to Tori.
“Tori, can you confirm what type of facilities are in that building?”
“Huh? Yes! I just need to look at the connected blocks and I can determine it. I can’t see any high performance antennas but there are built in automatic turrets and a shield generator. Doesn’t it seem more like a fortress than a laboratory?”
“That’s more solid evidence.”
Ark grinned and nodded.
“In other words those facilities are being stored in the research centre. It is like that. They might’ve created that building to pressure us but it isn’t the only reason. Perhaps the real purpose of that building is sector management. They intend to use that building for management when they drive us out of S-20. Now, that raises one question. Why would they make the management office right outside the sector boundary?”
“B-because they can’t build inside the sector……”
“Then what if they obtain sector S-20?”
Mellin lifted his head with a dumbstruck expression. He had finally reached the same conclusion as Ark.
That word fell from Mellin’s mouth. Ark manipulated his Nymphe and the information window floated in the air.
|<Public facilities able to be installed in a level 1 sector>
Extension (5,000 G): Extend the range of the sector by 1 square kilometres.
Fairy (3,000 G): A Fairy can be installed for pioneers to resurrect at.
Exclusive Route (2,000 G): The sector can be added to the transport route that the federation operates.
Relay Antenna (1,000 G): A large volume relay antenna can be installed in the sector. When the antenna is installed, it is possible to make contact with other cities on Istana and users can receive mail from other colleagues.
It was the information window stating all the public facilities that could be installed in a sector! Originally Ark had been trying to install the Fairy and exclusive route in S-20. But what was the use if his administrator license flew away? He had forgotten about the public facilities after all the incidents until the conversation about insurance with Marquis Martin.
“The administrator of S-20 is still me.”
Ark said with a smile.
“I can give permission to expand the sector.”
If Ark extended the boundaries of the sector then the laboratory right next to the boundary would be included in the sector’s sphere of influence. This didn’t mean that the research centre would belong to Ark. But it didn’t matter who owned the research centre. The important thing was that a building equipped with all the facilities required by the auditor was within S-20.
“But if those guys destroy the institute……”
“Who will let them?”
Ark said with a smirk.
“That building might belong to Laius but it will be in my area of administration. They can’t do anything without my permission once the extension happens. The ground that building is on will belong to me. I can forcefully evict anyone who build on my land without permission or they will have to pay me a building permit.”
Marquis Martin had already given Ark legal advice about this. The result was no problem!
‘This is it! An eye for an eye! Law against law!’
This was the solution Ark came up with to reverse the situation.
“Two conditions are required for this plan to be successful. One is to raise the funds required for extension and the other is to complete the extension without them noticing. If they know then they might demolish the building before we collect the funds needed for the extension.”
“I see what you mean.”
“Tomorrow I will be eligible to apply for public facilities. I have to secure the funds before then.”
The necessary funds was 5,000 gold. That was far less than the amount required to equip security and sanitary facilities. But that didn’t mean it was easy to gather.
‘I don’t have good news……’
He had been saving money to apply for a Fairy and exclusive route. Despite collecting the proceeds from the sector, Ark only had 1,000 gold. However Ark had tons of expensive metal parts from Amara. The Royal Guards also obtained a significant amount of gallstones from spending one month in the dungeon. And in the last few days, Ark had been wandering the dungeons and collecting loot!
‘There’s no time left. I have to sell everything I can!’
But he couldn’t sell at S-20. Ark’s plan would be wasted if Bain noticed. Furthermore, S-20 contained lots of gallstones. It would be hard to get a good price for the gallstones if he sold it here. Therefore Ark flew to Charem using the Silver Star to dispose of the goods. It wasn’t easy to dispose of the goods for an expensive price in a limited amount of time. He ran around the stores trying to haggle for even 1 more copper. Thanks to that, Ark sold all the items for a high price than he imagined and gathered 4,500 gold. Yet he was still lacking 500 gold.
‘I can’t sell anything else. But……’
Ark still had one place where he could gain money. It was the octopuses’ food production factory right next to Charem! When it was created then the profits for one day was 14 gold and 40 silver. But now the revenue had gone above 20 gold a day. While Ark was absent, Jay mix the fish paste bar with various spices to develop premium goods. The profit increased by 50%. So the money earned in a fortnight since last month was 900 gold! Ark would receive 30% of the income so that was 270 gold.
–Of course we will help you in such a matter!
Bakum handed over the money gathered in the meantime after hearing Ark’s circumstances. His total was 5,400 gold! Finally he reached his goal.
“Thank you. I will pay back this money as soon as the situation in the sector is cleaned up. Jay, good work. I don’t have time for a detailed explanation right now but I’ll come back.”
Ark headed straight to S-20 again. And he was sure of his victory when he landed in S-20’s airfield.
Kukung! Kukung! Kukung!
The Laius company was still constructing its building. Bain hadn’t noticed Ark’s plan. Now the time remaining before he could apply for a public facility was 30 minutes. They couldn’t demolish the lab in 30 minutes even if they noticed! If he could apply for a sector extension after 30 minutes then all his problems would be resolved.
‘That’s it. This time I won!’
Ark gave a smile of satisfaction as he looked at the research centre.
“Why, are you envious?”
One man approached from the other side of the fence. He was Bain, the director sent by the Laius company. Bain just laughed and began to talk.
“I heard that Ark-nim has a lot of complex issues in your sector these days.”
“Thanks to you.”
“I don’t know what you mean. Haven’t you discovered it already? The airship that crashed has the Laius logo but it was stolen a while ago. I was surprised myself to see it crash into S-20. Well, I’m sure I wasn’t as surprised as Ark-nim. The Laius company is personally investigating it. I heard the insurance company might endlessly delay the insurance payments so will you be able to endure the merchants’ complaints?”
“Is that a problem for you to worry about?”
“That might be so but…..”
Bain laughed and continued.
“Why don’t you give up and return to the city?”
“The equipment you need to satisfy the central government costs tens of thousands of gold. I’ve seen you flying off in the airship to try and gather money but I don’t think Ark-nim can gain this type of money in a fortnight. In the end Ark-nim will just become penniless. So I’ll make a proposal. Ark-nim already knows what the Laius company desires. So let’s not waste time and put this in order. It won’t end up good for Ark-nim if you endure. If you transfer the rights to the sector to us then we will pay you 1,000 gold.”
“Do you think I’ll accept a suggestion like that?”
“Aren’t you going to regret it?”
“Let’s see? In the future I know who will regret it.”
Ark replied to Bain.
“Ark, it is a big deal!”
A voice screamed from behind him. He looked back and saw Mellin running with a frantic face.
“The murders! Murders in the dungeon! This time there are hundreds of incidents! Right now the dungeon is a sea of blood! There is an outpouring of complaints by the pioneers! And hundreds of pioneers have left the sector!”
Ark felt like he had been hit in the back of the head. So far only 3~4 people had been PKed in the dungeon at a time. That was equivalent to one party. Therefore Ark thought that the Laius company had hired several pioneers to infiltrate and commit PK. But suddenly hundreds of people were struck at once? That meant there were several times the number of assassins hiding in the dungeon. It meant the other assassins had been hiding. So far only occasional parties had been struck by PK. The rest had been hiding. Now those guys all revealed themselves and murdered hundreds of people at once.
‘Don’t tell me?’
Ark hurriedly manipulated his Nymphe. And his heart fell as he saw the sector management window.
|-The current population had fallen below 2000!
You need to keep the population at more than 2,000 for a week in order to apply for public facilities. If you gather the population again then you need to maintain it for another week.
Those guys had been aiming for this! S-20’s population had steadily increased to over 2,500. Even with all the incidents, the population had stayed at 2,300 people. Therefore Ark hadn’t worried about the population. The population had only decreased a little bit so he didn’t think it would fall beneath 2,000 in one day. That was a trap. Those guys were ready to decrease the population to less than 2,000 at any time. And they had waited for him. In other words…..
Ark turned and shouted. Bain just laughed and said.
“Heh, you’ve finally grasped the situation. I said you would be sorry if you didn’t accept my advice. The Laius company has managed more than 10 sectors on Istana. Do you think we wouldn’t have expected Ark-nim’s plan?”
“There will be a problem if you continue being difficult. I’ll simply say this. I don’t have any relationship with those murderers. But who knows what will happen in the future. The murders of pioneers in the dungeon will probably continue. So it will be difficult for you to increase the population. Ark-nim’s plan has no possibility of working.”
Bain paused and continued.
“Now it is impossible to buy this sector for 1,000 gold. My offer is 500 gold. If you’re smart then you will decide quickly. The value will continue to go down……”