Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
The moment this statement came out, many of the players immediately thought of the Thirty Second True Men Group that had followed Black Star when he left and immediately felt discouraged.
Could it be that this is another test from Black Star? But your subjects here cannot achieve it! If we could, then we would have gone along with you to the galaxy outside during Version 1.0!
“As long as you can prove your strength by passing through the warriors under me, the doors of the Black Star Mercenary Group will be open to you,” Han Xiao simply explained before throwing out the mission that he had prepared beforehand.
Selection of Mercenaries
Mission Introduction: Black Star Mercenary Group has been on numerous campaigns everywhere in space, and all their members are strong experts. So long as you can successfully pass their test, one can join Black Star Mercenary Group, becoming an elite mercenary.
Mission Objective: Battle against an arbitrary mercenary.
Reward: 1 Experience, Black Star Mercenary Group Faction unlocked, +100 Black Star Mercenary Group Relationship
After frantically reading through, the players burst into discussion.
“Turns out, Black Star is not personally selecting this time.”
“The mission does not describe what sort of battle test it will be. Do you think it would be a one on one PVP like before?”
Han Xiao signaled with his eyes, and the mercenary behind carried out a translucent screen that had been prepared beforehand, erecting it at the side. Pointing to the screen, Han Xiao announced, “If you wish to participate in the selection, enter your information here. Phillip will assign a number to each applicant, and this will determine your batch in the selection battles. Pay attention to which one you will be participating in.”
The screen lit up, and a blue circle appeared in the middle, surrounded by little particles floating around. It gently bobbed, and the AI started to speak.
“Black Star Artificial Intelligence Phillip, hum… Very glad to be of service, hum…”
Many of the players let out an expression of surprise and moved to input their information such as name, profession, and other particulars. They received a number, which represented themselves, and very quickly, a new interface was soon displayed on the screen. It displayed a new selection process and invited a few hundred numbers onto the arena to take the test.
The screen also displayed the mercenary who was hosting this current selection—Herlous.
After studying it, the players understood the selection mechanism involved. This was not a one on one PVP but one against many. A Black Star mercenary would pit themself against a few hundred players, and all they had to do was persist for a period of time. Once the time was up, if one was not dead and still alive in the arena boundaries, they would have passed the test and could join Black Star.
At the same time, more than one selection would be taking place. The number of people in each selection would also differ, together with their opponent. It was up to chance as to which mercenary of Black Star one could meet. The most important point was, even if one failed the challenge, they could reapply through Phillip. There were no restrictions, and challenges could continuously be handed out.
The players were not suspicious of him at all. All of them felt that this was an interesting challenge, and their fighting spirits were stirred, causing more and more to apply.
Han Xiao was the one who had decided on this challenge method. This was to allow the hundreds of mercenaries under him to help in evaluating the players, since the mercenaries were idling by anyway. Instead of allowing them to play with cards every day to while time away, it would be better to use the time efficiently and save his strength.
This selection was actually just a formality. He was, of course, aware of the current standard of the players. While the more the merrier, he could not just accept every Tom, Dick, and Harry that walked over to greet him. That would be too easy. After all, for the elite factions, which one of them did not have any criteria? As such, setting up a selection was a clever way, which would make players feel that there was a threshold for joining the Mercenary Group. It provided a feeling of exclusivity.
He had thought about it the day before and decided to make this challenge into a daily activity for the players. A mercenary would select dozens to hundreds of players at a time—the specific number would be controlled by Phillip depending on the mercenary’s strength. This ensured that the strength of the players would be in an acceptable range for the mercenary, allowing them to easily handle any situations. Phillip, who was in charge of the data of every mercenary, would not make a mistake in this regard.
Each arena had thousands of players, and it resembled a battle royale. In addition to dealing with the Boss—or rather, Mercenary—they also had to prevent themselves from being schemed against, ensuring that they could stay till the end and be among the final survivors. This became a sort of competition.
In actual fact, Han Xiao’s original idea was not to have the mercenaries participate but rather to simply allow the players to select among themselves in a grand battle royale. However, the efficiency of recruitment would be terribly low because there would be no one with an overpowered strength like the mercenaries. Thus, every battle would last for a long time. Furthermore, they would not have been able to showcase the strength of the Black Star Mercenary Group.
Moreover, that sort of beast style selection would have raised a sense of dissatisfaction within the players as if they were being looked down on. Thus, Han Xiao finally settled on his current model, using his mercenary group to host a test. Not only did it improve efficiency, it also acted as a lubricant, reducing the probability of player dissatisfaction and making the selection less savage.
The participation of players did not consume any resources, and if they failed, they could wait for their number to be drawn again. This ensured that the threshold to accept players would not be high, which allowed a large pool of players to participate. In addition, the current stage of the mutation disaster only gave the players missions to rebuild a refuge. Therefore, this would bring more flavors to the players’ lives. This could be treated as a side dish to the main mission.
As for the selection venue, it was naturally the arena that Han Xiao had built in his Sanctuary. The Pro League had been held there, but now that it was vacant, Han Xiao had claimed it back for his own use. Bennett and Huang Yu had naturally not objected to it.
Ten minutes later, players numbering in the thousands flocked to the arena. This was the first selection battle, and even if it did not concern them, everyone chose to head over to spectate, to observe the specific process.
Herlous stood in the largest central ring while hugging his Battleship Slicing Blade, staring hungrily at the players surrounding him. He seemed to be surrounded by howling winds and icy coldness.
The spectating players began to discuss fervently.
“The limit is two minutes. After two minutes, so long as we don’t fall out of the ring and aren’t dead, we can then join the Black Star Mercenary Group.”
“With a few hundred here, holding out for two minutes should be simple task…”
“Simple? Stop joking. Didn’t you see the video series from Bun-Hit-Dog on Black Star? This guy is Herlous. He’s an extremely strong mercenary from the Black Star group. I think just a slash of his blade can pulverize this arena! Even if you have never seen his videos, you should have experienced the war yesterday, right? Didn’t you see him mowing down the beast horde?”
“Nope, didn’t see anything. I was dead at that time.”
Herlous surveyed his surroundings. Han Xiao’s instructions to him were to attack appropriately as he saw fit. If he put forth his full strength, two minutes would be more than enough to wipe the floor with them. Most of the players were still at Grade D, with some having only hit Grade C, a far cry from his current standard.
Seeing the insane throng of Supers, a blaze of fighting spirit was kindled in Herlous’ heart. Black Star was indeed not lying to him—this place really held tens of thousands of Supers!
With Planet Sunil currently suffering from a catastrophe, Han Xiao had once sworn to him to bring a human wave more frightening than the current horde from their catastrophe, to solve the Sunils’ problems once and for all. Herlous had always believed Han Xiao’s words, and upon seeing his promise in the flesh, he was moved to the point that he found his emotions hard to suppress.
Silently, Herlous grasped his Battleship Slicing Blade tightly, lightly nodding.
“The selection starts now, hum…” Phillip’s sound droned.
The next moment, the majority of players rushed toward Herlous from all directions. A variety of attacks were let loose along the way. The huge numbers on their side gave them assurance, and they decided to tackle Herlous like they would a Boss, outputting as much damage as they muster.
Only a small portion of players did not advance and instead retreated, hiding behind those rushing forward.
Seeing the mass of players rushing at him from all directions, Herlous’ expression remained impassive. He raised his blade and spun it around him like a whirlwind, releasing a ring-shaped blade waves around him that shot toward the players, covering almost half the ring. It annihilated all the long-range attacks, and as it approached the pugilists, they could not block the attack, directly being sent flying toward the edge of the arena. Their HP instantly fell about forty percent.
“F*ck me, this AOE is too scary!”
“That was too risky. I almost fell off the ring.”
The vanguard players suffered a huge setback, and their facial expressions greatly changed. The small portion of the players who had stayed outside from the beginning and thus escaped the attack were secretly relieved.
Thankfully, we didn’t have a hard head and managed to endure the urge to rush forward.
For the players currently, Herlous’ strength completely outclassed them. Han Xiao had long guessed that the players would have the mentality of attacking a Boss when they approached this selection battle. Thus, he had chosen to let Herlous handle the first round, giving off an image of invincibility in his Mercenary Group. As for the next few matches, all those mercenaries involved were also in his elite team.
There was no suspense regarding the result. Even if Herlous went easy, this group of players was still cut down effortlessly, one knife for one person.
The players could only change their thinking of clashing head on, instead frantically scrambling in all directions, roaming at the fringe of the arena to try and survive. This appeared to be extremely stimulating.
Then the two minutes were up, less than ten players remained alive. Only when Herlous sheathed his blade did the surviving players realize, as though they had just woken up from a stupor. Expressions of joy colored the faces of the survivors.
“We… we won‽”
The defeated players had expressions of envy and anger. To actually allow such sneaky b*stards to win the prize, was there no justice in this world‽
Out of the hundreds of participants, not even ten people had succeeded. The percentage was low, but this was deliberately done by Han Xiao. He wanted to push down the success rate, to give off the impression that winners would be rare, before gradually allowing the success rate to increase over time.
“Congratulations to those who have passed. Black Star welcomes you. When we go back to space, we’ll register you in the Mercenary Alliance. At that time, you will be actual mercenaries.”
Herlous extended his hand, shaking it with all the survivors present. This was another of Han Xiao’s requirements, to reflect the differential treatment between the two parties.
The survivors were exhilarated as they found out their faction interface had come to live. They no longer needed to find Black Star to browse the faction store, and the items within were no longer grayed out. While they did not possess any Enas to purchase the products, the world of colors was definitely better than one of monochrome gray.
Only the mission [Selection of Mercenaries] for this group of survivors was counted as complete, and they obtained 100 Faction Contribution Points. Having seen Bun-Hit-Dog’s videos, they understood that for Faction favorability at the [Friendly] Reputation or below, 100 points could only be bought using 50 Enas. All of them felt that they had technically earned 50 Enas!
The few of them turned ecstatic with joy.
The onlookers were envious, and they keenly noticed a key point in the conversation, which was Herlous mentioning, “Go back to space”.
“Does this mean, as long as we pass the test, we will be able to follow Black Star and leave Planet Aquamarine when this storyline ends?”
“We didn’t guess wrong; Black Star is indeed the interstellar travel guide that was sent to bring us in Version 2.0!
The eyes of the players lit up, and they all suddenly felt eager to move, unable to wait to participate in the next selection.
The next selections were carried out step by step, and Han Xiao no longer bothered to keep a watch.
Because of the large quantity of players, Han Xiao’s timetable showed a great many selection battles each day. A selection battle would be carried out roughly every twenty minutes, and in the numerous rings around the arena, there would be multiple selection battles being carried out. A rough estimate showed that around four to five thousand people would participate each day, with the pass rate maintained at around five percent.
There were over a hundred thousand players in the Sanctuary, and with every player having a chance, this activity could be carried out for a long period of time. A thin stream would allow the water to flow for a longer period. After all, not only was this challenge novel and interesting, the majority of players held on to the mentality that they would be lucky. The Great Mechanic Han had always believed that this sort of mistaken notion greatly helped in his plan, as it allowed the players to willing jump into his pit.
In another few days, the players will adapt to the selection battles. When they get on the right track and the success rates increase, I won’t need to worry about it anymore.
Regarding the plans for his faction, Han Xiao had prepared many methods. However, it was not the time to utilize them—this selection was merely an opener.
Furthermore, the difficulty of this selection process would also create a demand for players to get stronger quickly. This would also allow for an increase in his own sales, killing many birds with one stone.
From dawn to dusk, the square was crowded with people. After drowning in sounds for the whole day, Han Xiao prepared to pack up.
In just one day, his experience gained broke past the billion mark.
A total of 1.29 billion experience, I haven’t felt this refreshed in such a long time… Han Xiao comfortably breathed out, feeling extremely satisfied in his heart. The last time such a large-scale harvesting had happened for him was two years ago before he left Planet Aquamarine. It felt as though a dry desert was welcoming its first rainfall in a long time.
This amount should be enough for me to level up to 120, with some surplus left over.
Opening his interface, Han Xiao was prepared to level up. At this time, a rumbling sound echoed from the sky.
When he raised his head, he saw a new spaceship descending slowly. This was the spaceship that he had sent to fetch Frenzied Sword and the others. They had finally arrived.
The hatch opened. Frenzied Sword, Bun-Hit-Dog, Hao Tian, and the other players carried jetpacks on their backs as they descended to the square.
The majority of players present recognized this batch of high-levelled players. They all glanced over, with faces of amazement.
“Hey, you guys are back!”
Many people greeted them warmly. This group of players had performed brilliantly in the Pro League and had garnered a lot of fame. Furthermore, they had also gone off the radar for a long time.