Year 21XX, on a summer afternoon. On the 24th floor of a normal condominium in City XS in China, incessant waves of ear-piercing *clank* *clank* *clank* sounds were resounding. On a quiet afternoon such as today’s, the sounds were made even more apparent and annoying.
Room 2402, in a room that was around 100 square metres big. A black-haired youth had a hammer raised in one hand and was supporting a metal frame with the other. The youth constantly hammered on the frame, trying to get it to fit into a slot. However, due to the size of the frame not being suitable for the slot, the youth had to work really hard to forcibly beat the frame in.
With a “clank!”, the frame finally fit into the slot which it really shouldn’t be in under the youth’s merciless hammer. Now, the product was finished for the most part. On first look, the completed product looked like a massage chair, just bigger by a little. However, the chair had a helmet which was semicircular in shape at the head part. If one had to say what it looked like, it would look like those hair perming machines you see in hair salons. The top of this helmet looked like a pin-cushion with all the wires plugged into it. They were so randomly and messily plugged that one could tell at a glance that it was self-made. In the 22nd Century, a product with this type of unbundled wiring would never be able to pass even the most lenient quality control check of a factory.
Beside the ‘massage chair’ was a normal home-use desktop. Now, 22nd-century desktops had already integrated the CPU and display screen, so now the desktop only had a display. On the display of the desktop, rows upon rows of english alphabet and Arabic numbers were displayed on a white background. These codes were so complicated that even a professional computer expert would not necessarily be able to understand it.
The youth wiped his sweat when the frame was fixed into place, and revealed an evil smile, “As expected of myself, my capability is such a cheat! I only took three days to finish making this game device. Sky Universe thought that I would not be able to play this game just because I have a criminal record. Hmph! I made a game device by myself in just three days. Let’s see how you stop me now! Let’s adjust the code a bit and see if I can connect to Sky Universe’s server…”
The youth had just wanted to take his wireless keyboard to finish the final configuration when his door was knocked. At the same time, a woman shouted loudly, “Open up! Li Hualin, you better open the door now!”
Li Huailin who heard the woman’s shout and scratched his nose helplessly. However, he still went to open the door in the end.
“Sister Juan, you don’t have to shout so loudly, right? People might think I owe you money or something!” Li Huailin opened the door, revealing a mature woman who was in her thirties staring at him angrily. Though this woman was not young, her big eyes, sharp chin, charming face approaching perfection and devilish body made the woman become one who could bewitch anyone. Now, this beauty was staring at Li Huailin angrily. But, other than anger, there was fatigue on her face too.
The beauty looked at Li Hualin and immediately asked, “Do you know what time it is now?”
Li Hualin looked at his digital watch, “Yeah, it’s 2:14. Sister Juan, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making noise now, right?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t know what time I work! You know that I sleep at noon!” Sister Juan became even angrier when she saw Li Huailin acting ignorant. “It has been three days already! What are those hitting sounds for? The sound of saws now, the sound of hammering later, how do you expect me to sleep?! How can I work at night?!”
The beauty was called Chen Juan, and lived in Room 2401 in this condominium. In other words, she was Li Huailin’s neighbour. Her so called ‘work’ was actually just her going to some random bars or nightclubs to hook up with a rich guy. If she is lucky, the expenses for a few months or even a year was settled. She didn’t have a stable job, and relied on her looks to live. If she had time, she would do some part-time jobs like modeling and cat walking. Her work started from 5 in the evening, and her sleeping time was during the noon period.
Three days ago, Li Huailin started hammering and sawing away like nobody’s business at around eight in the morning, causing her to be sleep deprived for three days already. She also complained for three days straight.
Talking about his neighbour, though he knew of her existence, due to their differing active period, they didn’t talk much. The amount of ‘talking’ they did during these past three days were even more than since when Li Huailin first moved in.
“This is really the last day, I’ve really finished already…” Li Huailin gave a helpless smile. Though the sounds he made were indeed loud, he at least did it in the morning and didn’t disturb anyone at night. But facing a night owl like Chen Yuan, who was also a sleep deprived girl, how could you talk reason with her?
“I haven’t slept well for three days already! Look at my eye bags!” Chen Yuan pointed at her eyes with her finger. Her anger was not appeased. “How can I work like that? If no guys want me because of you, then you have to take care of me!”
“Don’t joke around! The pay any one of your clients give you can make up for one year of my living expenses, so how do you expect me to take care of you?” Li Huailin smiled, “It should be you taking care of me instead!”
“En?” Hearing this, she suddenly stopped being angry. She then sized Li Huailin up, before suddenly revealing an evil smile. “That’s fine too, handsome! Why not let me take care of you from now on~?”
“Haha…” Li Huailin shook his head. “I still believe in my right hand more. Sister Juan, I think it’s ‘late’ already, so you should go home and sleep. Don’t you have work at night? I really, definitely won’t make any more noise this time.”
“Don’t be so fast to reject my offer! My right hand’s quite good too!” While Sister Juan said that, she also made an up and down stroking gesture with her right hand. At the same time, she displayed a seductive pose, causing a bewitching aura to come from her.
“The humble me only sell my skills and not my body. I have my pride and dignity, and will remain uncorrupted by money!” Li Huailin puffed up his chest and said with a face filled with justice.
“Hmph!” Chen Juan turned her face to one side. “You better not disturb me anymore. Or else, I won’t mind popping your cherry, little virgin boy!”
“What you are suggesting is not ‘help’, but blatant rape…” Li Huailin corrected her.
“That’s right! What can you do about it?” Chen Yuan said with an evil smile.
“Oh, my fair lady! Please let me off the hook…” Li Huailin was rendered speechless from her blatant admission.
“Hmph! Be more careful next time, and don’t offend someone you shouldn’t offend again!” Chen Yuan puffed out her chest which couldn’t be held even by her clothes and said in a tone like she was a villain whose evil plan had come to fruition. “I will let you off this time and go to sleep now. You promised already, so don’t bother me anymore.”
“Thank you for your magnanimity, fair lady.” Li Huailin cupped his fist and made a polite bow like in the olden times.
“Hehe~” This action made Chen Yuan smile. She then used a teasing gaze to look at Li Huailin, before leaving.
After sending Chen Yuan away, Li Huailin can finally return to his work. With keyboard in hand, Li Huailin’s expression changed. He fanatically pressed the buttons on the keyboard, and any normal person who sees his actions would think that he was just randomly mashing buttons. It was just too fast. Not even the fastest typer could compare to his current speed, what’s more, he is currently coding.
“There should be no problems!” Looking at the white words on the display, Li Huailin said to himself. “Talking about this, Sky Universe is really cruel! A single game device costs 599,998, but yet I only used 20,000 dollars to make my own device. Only the processor cost a little more, but the rest was literally free!”
Thinking about his encounter three days ago, Li Huailin was still livid. That day Li Huailin saw an advertisement promoting a revolutionary game made jointly by Sky Universe and the government. The game name was called <Heart of Glory>, and was a virtual reality game with up to 98% realism. Not only in China, other countries also had their own respective game servers. The advertisement also said that in future updates, there would be inter-server battles, that is battle between different countries.
Before <Heart of Glory> was even launched, advertisements about it filled up the whole world. Posters, on TV, forums, newspapers… it was even more difficult for Li Huailin to not know about the game instead. Professional gaming has become an acceptable job in the 22nd century and was quite a common thing. However, what’s weird about this game is that the government is actually using some of its budget to support this <Heart of Glory>, even encouraging jobless people to play. As long as one was online for at least 90 hours per month, one can get 2000 dollars monthly from the government.
In the 22nd century, after technology had developed at the speed of light, there was lesser and lesser demand for human labour. There were large-scale automated planting and harvesting machine to grow crops, large-scale automated animal breeding factories… Machine and technology replaced most of the work humans did. Companies which needed over ten thousand people to operate smoothly then only needed a few hundred to operate now. This, combined with the rising world population which broke past ten billion a decade ago, has caused unemployment rate to skyrocket worldwide.
The government didn’t lack money to feed these people, but so many unemployed only meant more people who would create trouble just because they were bored. To reduce the pressure the government faced from these troublemakers, the government decided to try and cooperate with Sky Heaven. Thus came the inception of <Heart of Glory>.
To be able to get money for playing was really an enjoyable thing. Li Huailin also wanted to play after seeing the advertisements. However, when he went to make a purchase, he faced some trouble. It was not that he couldn’t afford it. Though the device Li Huailin wanted cost 599,998, there were still cheaper models available for the poor. It only cost 19,998, not expensive at all. The problem Li Huailin faced was not being allowed to buy.
“I’m sorry, but according to the records, you have a criminal record. Thus, you do not have the right to buy this game device.” This was what a service clerk said to Li Huailin with a smile.
“There was such a thing? Your advertisement didn’t say anything about people with criminal records not being allowed to buy though! I came from so far away and you tell me I can’t buy?!”
Li Huailin had queued for almost half a day only to be told that he couldn’t make a purchase. Being upset was a given.
“But… this is the rule…” The service clerk explained calmly, “Look at the bottom right-hand corner of the poster. It is actually written there.”
Li Huailin looked at the poster once again, and really found a line saying that in tiny print on the bottom right-hand corner. (T/N: The attack of the tiny print still strong in 22nd Century, huh?)
Thus, Li Huailin had no choice but to return empty handed.
Li Huailin who got more and more upset with this started going on the wrong path. “The device is only made up of electronic brain receptors and imaging device. Why not make one of my own? Such a simple(?) device should be within my capabilities. After that, I just have to write a program to link up the device with the server, then I can play already!”
Thus, the three days of hammering started, and Li Huailin finished his homemade game device, for the most part. Though it looked horrible appearance-wise compared to the official, its basic functions were all there.
“Let’s quickly try if it can connect to the server!” After Li Huailin finished reminiscing about how he made the decision to make a game device of his own, which was going to be the first wrong of many wrongs in this game, Li Huailin excitedly sat on his homemade game device. After putting on the helmet and pressing a button, the device quickly booted up.
Li Huailin’s vision turned black after the device booted up. After waiting for ten seconds, he thought his device must be no-good as nothing has happened yet. At that moment, however, the logo of Sky Universe suddenly popped up in front of him. Everything then turned black once again, before a video was played ten seconds later.
This video had already been seen by Li Huailin on the game’s official web page, so he didn’t particularly care about it. But just after the video was played for two seconds, the video suddenly lagged. Then, the video played images that looked wrong no matter what. Ten over thousand people who were originally fighting on the battlefield suddenly stood on a sea; the cities not far away which were on fire suddenly turned into a sea of trees, on the sea…
“Are are~? What’s the situation? Bug?” Li Huailin could not make head or tail of the images being displayed in front of him. Before he could analyse what was happening, the video ended. Li Huailin then felt his body getting lighter, before a white palace appeared in front of his eyes. (T/N: Author sometimes use Japanese terms, so I will be putting them in bold to indicate they are of Japanese pronunciation.)
“Is this the character creation page? At least this looks normal… What was with that video just now? Could it be that my device is faulty?” Li Huailin was clueless, but didn’t care much anymore.
“<Heart of Glory> welcomes you. Please create your character.” A hoarse voice was suddenly transmitted from the front of Li Huailin, and it sounded really strange. Putting aside the fact that it was hoarse, it felt like the voice was coming from a radio that had low signal.
Li Huailin lifted up his head, and was scared silly. In front of him was a woman wearing a white shirt. It should be a woman, as Qin Fang could only see her body clearly. Her face, on the other hand, had two long black lines, cutting her face into three parts. Forget woman, Li Huailin couldn’t even tell if the entity in front of him was a human!
“Wh-Where did you come from, monster!”
“I am <Heart of Glory>’s beginner attendant, responsible for creating characters.” The mosaic character replied with a super hoarse and terrifying voice.
“Hey, hey… Getting such a scary entity to be the newcomer attendant, are you not worried about scaring children?!” Li Huailin facepalmed.
“Please create your character.” The attendant was only a computer program, so without keywords, she could only say the same thing.
“Fine, fine. Though it’s quite terrifying, I should be able to safely create a character… right?” Li Huailin accepted the terrifying face and started his character creation.
“Name of character?” The attendant started asking questions it was programmed to.
“Forest.” This name was actually taken from a book Huailin’s father had taken his name from, and Huailin had always used this as his game name.
“No repeated names found.” The attendant replied with a voice as hoarse as ever. “Confirm name?”
“Please choose your race.” After the attendant had just finished her(?) words, a page appeared in front of Huailin’s eyes. On it was the introduction and information of the six races available in <Heart of Glory>.
Li Huailin already obtained all these information from the official web page, and looking at it again, still thought that the human race’s gifts [Wisdom (Intelligence+10%)] and [Diplomat (Fame +10 in all capitals of the six races except human’s] suited him better. After all, his goal was to train a wizard.
Among the six races, only humans added Intelligence, and Intelligence could increase magic damage. Thus human wizards were more reliable. As for the gift [Diplomat], it was only an extra, better than nothing. Li Huailin didn’t particularly care about it as it was only 10 Fame, which meant buying things at a 5% discount in cities. Further increase of fame required doing quests.
As for choosing professions, that was only possible after one reaches level 10 and can leave the beginner village. After that, one had to go to the capital and find the respective job instructors before choosing a job was possible. Thus, one starts playing the game after choosing your race.
“You have chosen the human race. Confirm?”
“I wish that you will have a fun time playing.”
Though what the attendant said was not wrong, the voice… However, before Li Huailin could frown from the suffering his ear had to go through, his vision turned black. When he opened his eyes once again, Li Huailin was already in a small village.
Li Huailin was slightly dazed. The surrounding view was just too realistic. Though he had played virtual reality games before, none of them even came close to the level of reality this game achieved. <Heart of Glory> really shocked Li Huailin this time.
Simple houses, beautiful and peaceful surroundings. Li Huailin took a slightly bigger breath and found out that even the air felt real. Looking at the players running around, Li Huailin unconsciously raised his right hand and clenched it to feel how his body felt like.
“It is as amazing as I expected! To think that this game really has a 98% realism… this makes playing this game worth it.” As he was complimenting the game, he suddenly made a self-satisfied smile, “So my homemade device really works. This is how much Sky Universe amounts to after all.”
After saying things that he didn’t realise was quite contradictory, Li Huailin said ‘character’ in his mind based on his past experience in games like this. A page then appeared.
Secondary profession: None
Physical Attack: 4-7
Physical Defence: 2-4
Magic Attack: 4-7
Magic Defence: 2-2
Strength: 7 (Affects physical attack, the extent of the increase is related to your profession. Melee jobs would increase Physical Attack more if Strength is raised compared to Magician jobs.)
Agility: 9 (Affects attacking speed, movement speed, small increase to defence.)
Constitution: 5 (Affects HP, greatly increases Defence)
Intelligence: 7 (Affects Magic Attack and magic critical rate, degree of increase related to job)
Mind: 5 (Increases MP, MP recovery rate, Magic Defence)
Luck: 5 (Mysterious stat, increases critical rate, drop rate, chance of triggering missions, etc.)
Skill: Heavy Blow (Lv 1 0/200): A fierce blow. Increases Attack by 5. Active skill, costs 5 MP, 15 seconds cooldown. Able to be upgraded.
Wisdom: Intelligence -10%
Diplomat: Fame -10 in all capitals except for human’s
“Whut?! What’s this?!” Li Huailin was shocked silly by his stats
First chapter of the 5 chapter mass release of new project~
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