Chapter 21: Butterfingers
Translator: Oneshotwonder Editor: Tehrn
A great explorer used to say, "What exhausts me isn't the high mountain peaks, but that grain of sand that is stuck on my insole."
Wang Tong felt that Applied Math was that grain of sand rubbing him irritatingly on his climb of the seemingly impenetrable peak, the monthly test. It rubbed him in the classroom, outside of the classroom, on weekdays, and also on weekends. The ceaseless irritation exhausted him, and he didn't even have a moment of respite to savor the wonderful fact that he was only a few paces away from the girl's dormitory.
"I still don't understand this," Wang Tong thought, "Why would a battlefield commander need to know the application of math in building a warship?" Annoyance aside, the difficulties of these subjects had inspired awe in Wang Tong towards those who took the major in Applied Science. He could not even fathom their intelligence and thought there was no surprise that major weapon manufacturers chased after their talents as soon as they were graduated.
"Hey Kiddo, it's about time."
"About time for what?"
"Your debts, I had been waiting for a week, it's about time for us to go for another fight in the PA, and don't you complain about me disturbing your studies, I have given you a lot of time."
"Ahh, right, I almost forgot about it! Let's do it." Wang Tong was glad that Mr. Wannabe brought it up, since he had been desperate to take a break from studying over the weekend, and the fight had just given him a perfect excuse.
Surprised at how easily Wang Tong had agreed, Mr. Wannabe nodded: "Excellent, you are quite a help after all."
After Wang Tong's careful assessment, he was confident that Samantha would be disappointed at the outcome of her plan to get rid of him, thanks to two ace cards up his sleeve that he would leverage during the monthly test.
Knowing he wouldn't need to do well in any of the basic subjects, Wang Tong fled away from the hellish theories of numerals, leaving a gust of wind that swooped up a few pages and messed up the neatly arranged notes.
The owner of the Dream-Heaven recognized Wang Tong immediately as he stepped in, he smiled at Wang Tong and said, "Hey buddy, I left the terminal number five just for you, it's one of our best."
"Thank you," Wang Tong nodded. He didn't care about the quality of the terminals, as long as he could vent his thirst for battle. The sudden transition from the savagery on Norton to the quiet, if not boring, studies at Ayrlarng, had made him thirst for the thrill of battles.
He logged onto PA as he noticed a message in his mailbox, a challenge invitation.
"Kiddo, find a tougher opponent this time, they don't seem to teach the students like they used to anymore, they're too weak even for you," Mr. Wannabe grumbled.
Wang Tong knew there were tougher opponents out there somewhere, but the problem was where to find them, the search was made more difficult due to Wang Tong's low level since it would deter most strong players as they too were searching for worthy opponents.
Upon closer examination of the profile of the two challengers who had left him the message, Wang Tong noticed that both of them were under twenty but already had been using third tier METAL suits. Unfortunately they were both offline; otherwise, they would have been the opponents Wang Tong was looking for.
Since the time spent on cultivation had a significant impact on one's strength, TPA had devised an age rule which divided the players into a few age groups in order to balance the in-game competition.
Players who aged twenty or under formed a group and from there, every five more years of age formed a subsequent age group since five years' of cultivation would have made a noticeable uptick in one's strength.
The minimum age of fifteen for the mind opening operation was also carefully devised by the Confederation in order to minimize the risk of mental instability at any younger ages. Only a few prestigious ancient families who were said to be immune to becoming deranged had attempted to open their EMF at a younger age than fifteen, and there had been only very few who had successfully done that.
Both Wang Tong and Mr. Wannabe stared at the live feeds of a few dozen matches in search of a better opponent, and soon their vision merged onto the same screen which was broadcasting match number eighteen.
As Wang Tong walked into the arena with confident strides, he noticed that the place had been jam-packed with a couple thousand audience members, a clear indication of the strength and level of the players on the stage.
"Gale-Blade had won fifty-six consecutive fights; he is perhaps the best of the best among those who wear a third tier METAL suit."
"No kidding, his potent blade strike could overwhelm any opponent in an instant."
"I've heard that he's from the military, a ferocious beast chained by military discipline during the day, and in the night, he always comes here to vent his thirst for violence."
"He is just another typical Martian. They say Earthlings are superficial, Ivantians are pretentious, and Martians are ostentatious."
Wang Tong watched as Gale-Blade stood on the stage amidst the cheers, his blade was held pompously above his head. His taunting gesture had made Wang Tong think that he was waiting for a challenger, so Wang Tong walked up to the stage without any invitation.
"Mr. Einherjar Wannabe, the match is over, please arrange your challenge another day," the referee stopped Wang Tong and said, "And be aware that this match was for higher level competitors only."
"Ahh... I am sorry." Wang Tong felt embarrassed in front of a couple of thousand sets of eyes, and he cursed at the overly abundant rules of the game. A thin layer of sweat clung to his forehead then looked shiny under the dazzling stage lights.
"Yo, you there, challenge accepted, you won't last long anyway." Wang Tong piqued Gale-Blade's interest after he had seen that the challenger was an Earthling. Same as Wang Tong, brash Martians never cared much for rules, their motto was "punch first, think second."
"Great!" Wang Tong turned around to face Gale-Blade who was ready to teach this noob a lesson.
The audience didn't expect Want Tong's challenge to be accepted, nor did they care if it was since Wang Tong seemed to be even weaker than the last challenger who was K.O.ed by Gale-Blade in the blink of an eye. More and more people stood up from their seats and were ready to leave the arena.
"Hey, you wimp! I bet you won't even be able to withstand one of my strikes," Gale-Blade yelled at Wang Tong pompously. "Put your METAL on, and try not to cry like a baby after I have beaten your b*tt!"
"No need for a METAL suit, I'm just here for some fun," Wang Tong said and smiled at his opponent.
"Then you die!" Without even giving a fraction of a second for Wang Tong to get ready, Gale-Blade lashed out a strike which emanated a sharp and powerful force as it traveled through the air.
Silence fell, Gale-Blade's weapon magically disappeared from his hand before it reached Wang Tong.
This turn of events had shocked everyone. The audience who had stood up to leave then, sat down and watched in bafflement. "What the heck had just happened?" they all asked the same question in their minds.
Wang Tong cracked a broad smile as he handed the blade back to Gale-Blade and said, "I'm sorry, here is your blade, let's try it again, this time hold your weapon tighter, butterfingers."