Although Frenzied Sword and Hao Tian had both accepted the selection mission, neither was confident about passing. Now, with Han Xiao's direct offer, the two could finally let out a deep breath.
This was a golden opportunity, and of course, none of them would want to reject it. Bun-hit-dog was especially happy about it. He understood the impact that being one of the first few players to journey into space could have on his videos. Moreover, most of the people to follow Han Xiao would certainly be exceptional pro players, allowing him to interview them whenever he wanted to boost his show's popularity.
At first, he had felt heartbroken when he saw the requirements that one needed to meet in order to join Han Xiao's journey. He was not a particularly skillful player, and he had thought that he had no chance of following along Han Xiao.
In this moment, Bun-hit-dog was so excited that he would have jumped through the ceiling, but he stopped himself after he thought about the fines that he would have to pay if he did.
To Han Xiao, Bun-hit-dog was the perfect reporter. Although he did not even think that Bun-hit-dog would be good enough to be cannon fodder, his role in the group was still irreplaceable.
Bun-hit-dog's shows served as a bridge between Han Xiao and the players, and it helped to boost his popularity. Han Xiao leading the only group of players who could adventure in space would definitely bring in loads of attention. So, he would be able to continue to leave a deep impression on the players despite having left Planet Aquamarine.
The player's curiosity for the space in Galaxy as well as their fan-craze on the pro players would ensure views for Bun-hit-dog's 'Exploration Diary'.
After all, things like this were highly entertaining for the players and would be in high demand.
"Are you really going to space?" asked Maple Moon curiously. She was a big fan of anything plot and lore-related.
Han Xiao's eyes flashed. He glanced at Bun-hit-dog before saying in a cryptic way, "This planet is about to witness an unprecedented calamity. Only the endless reaches in the galaxy beyond hold the key to saving the planet."
Calamity‽ The four were shocked.
Bun-hit-dog had started recording their conversation the moment Maple Moon asked that question. He had a feeling that what Han Xiao had said just then could be something big very soon.
A few days later…
Within the flashes and sounds of explosions stood the Second Prince, who was still hanging on for all he was worth.
The surrounding crowd counted down in excitement.
"C'mon, you can do it man! You must join the thirty-seconds club."
Sun Eggplant was fanning the flames from the side. He stood with a small group of people who had all passed the test. Han Xiao had secretly weakened his attacks for certain players as they were the one that he wanted on his team. Most of them were big names in the pro-scene and those that had performed well in the tournament.
The onlooking players could only feel envious about it, and they comforted themselves by telling themselves that those who had passed were all godly pro players. The group of people who had passed were then called the 'thirty-seconds club'.
"Damn, you just needed another second."
"Why do I keep finishing early?"
During the days of the selection, Han Xiao never changed his attacking style. He just stood still and controlled the Sonic Spheres and the turrets to suppress the challenger. This gave the players hope, as they believed that this was just like clearing a dungeon. They could always learn and analyze Han Xiao's moves from the others' attempts and even their own failures, thus gaining an advantage for themselves later on.
However, try as they might, no matter how much the players learned about the fight, most were completely suppressed by Han Xiao and could not even last longer than ten seconds.
Second Prince, huh… He's not bad, thought Han Xiao as he slowly let up his attacks.
An opening! Second Prince's eyes flashed, and he threw himself on the ground and rolled out of the range of the attacks. The rain of bullets slowly inched toward him, and he did not even have time to get back up on his feet before he started to wiggle around on the ground in a desperate attempt to stay alive.
"… two, one, zero!"
"He made it!"
"I can't believe he used his trump card—Repeated Barrel Rolls!"
The crowd started laughing at the pro player's sorry state.
Second Prince got back up with a face covered in smoke and dirt, and Sun Eggplant, who stood to the side, raised his thumb before snickering. "You have really opened my eyes today. You even pioneered your own fighting style, becoming the grandmaster of rolls. What a man."
King Admiral pretended to be comprehending something. "It feels like it would be quite useful. How about you learn it as well, Li Ge?"
Li Ge remained expressionless. "What an embarrassment."
"Screw off!" Second Prince was enraged.
This bunch of star players were opponents in competitions, but they were also old friends, and they often bickered among each other whenever they hung out.
Han Xiao had basically gotten all the members that he needed. He had already gotten a hold of pro players from the four big guilds and from the top eight teams. Most of the top eights from the individual matches had also joined his team. After counting up everyone, there was a little over fifty people total, but it was not a big deal, as he could simply purchase the new tickets on board.
Thanks to the official tournament, Han Xiao had an easy time looking for talents. He had packed most of the top rankers on Planet Aquamarine into his group in one go.
To him, not only were the players the best cannon fodder, they were also his main information channel. Galaxy offered countless storylines, and Han Xiao could become the middle-man to offer all these missions to the players, just like he did on the planet. That way, a part of all the pro players' earnings would go directly into his pocket. He had basically acquired a group of sweet, little bees that would work tirelessly for him, earning the resources that would have gone to the other NPCs instead.
This was the correct way to utilize the players' advantages.
Ultimately, Galaxy was like a theme park, full of distractions. He would need to use some methods if he wanted to ensure that these players stayed by his side. Now, having established his position among the players as 'one of their own' combined with the benefits that moving together as a single party would offer, there should not be any problems in the short run. Han Xiao would not have to worry about the pro players being tempted by something else in space for now.
Regardless, Han Xiao had long since become accustomed to being prepared for anything. He had already come up with a more concrete plan to deal with issue. However, he would have to wait until they actually entered space before he could start implementing his plan. This was not some sort of idea that had sprung out from a moment's brilliance, but rather, a plan that he had thought up after considering the big picture, and it was a crucial step for his future developments.
"They're all star players. Isn't this too extravagant of a line-up?"
"Doesn't it feel like we're a few persons short?"
The more meticulous fans realized that Hao Tian and Frenzied Sword had not come for the mission.
"All the other pro players came. How could they let go of a chance like this? Even other Long Sky members participated in the selection."
The star players had also realized this, and Li Ge frowned. "Where are those two? Where's Hao Tian?"
Sleepy Winter felt helpless. "I have already asked. Old Hao and Frenzied Sword were already qualified to begin with."
The crowd could not process what Sleepy Winter had just said for a second.
Hao Tian and Frenzied Sword had triggered Black Phantom's Hidden Storyline. Was that why they got this special treatment‽
The bunch of pro players suddenly felt a sense of unfairness in their hearts. They could not believe that they had to come here to get tortured over and over again, while those two just backdoored their way in.
Where was the justice in that!
The pro players were jealous to no end. They also wanted to receive such benefits.
Once the testing was over, the crowd started, albeit quite unwillingly. However, at that moment, Han Xiao silently sent out another pre-written mission to the surrounding players.
The Last Bastion
Mission Type: Prize-Pool Mission
The players stopped dead in their tracks and focused on the new information.
"What a sudden mission. Where did it come from?"
"Black Phantom didn't say anything, right? Could he be the one who sent it?"
"Prize-Pool… What's this?"
"1,000 experience points are required to accept this mission. Let's try it out."
Many could not hold back their curiosity, and immediately accepted the mission. However, they were all surprised when they all found out that this mission was grayed out.
Mission Introduction: Someday in the future, a calamity will strike this world, and Sanctuary Three will become the last remaining bastion for humanity. Protect this dwindling flame from the encroaching darkness. Only then will there be hope to overcome this calamity.
Requirement: Protect Sanctuary Three. The destruction rate must not go above 50%.
Mission Status: Frozen
Start Date: Unknown
The grayed out name implied that this mission had not started. This was the first time that the players had seen a mission with the 'Frozen' status, and many were mystified. Word soon got out, and more and more people learned of this news.