The university entrance exam would span the duration of one month and candidates were required to not only survive the attacks of other students but also a critical lack of supplies.
Food could be obtained from either foraging berries and fruits from plants or by hunting down and cooking the wild animals scattered around the exoplanet.
The most common reason for elimination was not from combat but rather by starvation or dehydration.
Each barrier device also served as a SOS signal that students could send out by entering their candidate ID.
Upon the detection of the signal, students would then be teleported back to the transport ship before the exam ended and be eliminated.
Exoplanet T-980's surface was mainly covered by rain forest biomes which caused the air to feel particularly humid.
Sophie had to constantly wipe off the beads of sweat forming on her brow as she recalled the three basic rules of survival taught to her by the duke before she left Gaia.
The first step was to find a clean source of drinking water.
Next was to create a base with sufficient shelter against harsh conditions or enemies.
And finally, cautiously expand your hunting range to find food.
She had already found a stream, but the location was far too close to the meadow which would increase the odds of running into another student.
Sophie planned on following the winding stream and see if any suitable base locations were along the way.
"Okay let's see what is inside this thing first?" Sophie muttered to herself.
Outwardly there was nothing special about the crate as it was a small box made of a strange metallic element.
There was a visible button on the top of the crate, so Sophie pressed down with her index finger and the crate unfolded to reveal the contents within.
Sophie pulled out a water pouch, several nutrition vials, a piece of parchment and a sleeping bag which doubled as a backpack.
The number of nutrition vials inside the crate would last about a week so Sophie made the decision to only use them in emergencies.
She was quite disappointed to see a lack of weapons inside the box but at least the sleeping bag would make the nights more bearable.
It was an undeniable fact that the larger crates would have weapons inside, but Sophie did not want to take the risk to go back and check.
Cultivators at the qi body and spirit stages were indeed more powerful than ordinary mortals, but they were by no means invulnerable.
Sophie estimated that she only had the ability to face a maximum of three qi spirit opponents at the same time.
It was important to take this time to refill the water pouch, so Sophie crouched down and unscrewed the lid of the pouch before gently placing it into the stream.
Water flowed into the opening and Sophie placed the pouch next to her new backpack when it was finally filled.
She looked up and saw red birds flying overhead while joyfully singing cheerful songs and making the forest seem more vibrant.
This peace and tranquility were soon shattered by the sounds of people trampling through the wilderness.
"Check out these footprints!" came a deep voice near Sophie's location.
"Maybe one of those kids who grabbed a crate went this way"
Sophie's pointed ears perked up and her eyes slowly shifted from their typical golden hue to a more reddish colour.
She clutched her chest in pain as her heart rate began to speed up.
Sophie's heartbeat rose under an unfamiliar emotion as all she could hear was the loud pounding noise of blood being pumped furiously through her veins and arteries.
She gazed in the general direction of the intruders and the bushes, trees and grasses all melted away as the scenery shifted into a world of orange and red.
Five humanoid figures were walking in her direction and it would only be five minutes until they reached the stream.
This emotion. Sophie had felt it once before when Jack had challenged her to find his location in the holodeck.
It was not fear.
It was not nerves.
Sophie's mouth formed a twisted grin as her fangs lengthened and gleamed sharply under the beams of sunlight.
It was the urge to hunt and devour.
At the end of the bloodbath for the supplies at the center of the meadow, only fifteen students were left standing.
Everyone's qi reserves had been heavily exhausted, so the formation of an uneasy alliance was created among the survivors.
They were all split into different teams by a noble girl named Elevora Matrell who had taken over as the temporary leader due to her strength.
Ayasha's team was in charge of hunting down the students that fled with the supply crates into the jungle and eliminating them.
It was a five-man squad that was comprised of two regular humans, two mendolesa warriors and one member of the quafes race that had transformed into a human girl.
She did not know any of her teammates prior to the exam but it was unlikely experience a betrayal so early in the competition.
They were all armed to the teeth with weapons from the supply crates and a certain amount of confidence filled their bodies as any lone cultivators encountered would not be a threat.
It was an eagle-eyed Mendolesa warrior named Elijah who noticed the tracks on the ground and soon the team headed towards the direction of the cultivator who made them.
Their journey soon took the team into a small clearing with a stream flowing through with crystal clear water.
"Strange. why is no one here?" Elijah said with a frown.
It was indeed a weird situation as there was an opened crate with supplies thrown onto the ground near the riverbank in a messy state and with no person was in sight.
What happened to the student who fled with this box?
"This doesn't make any sense. This exam would not have candidates encounter beasts capable of killing students with one blow," reasoned the other Mendolesa.
Their squad captain walked up to a water pouch on the ground and held it in his hands for a brief moment before turning around and speaking in a puzzled tone.
"This has clearly been filled up using water from the stream."
"Why would a person take the time to do this and then leave without it?"
The other members of the team walked towards the bank of the stream and started to investigate the rest of items to search for any clues.
Ayasha looked at her teammates busily moving about and headed under one of the larger trees at the edge of the clearing to get some shade.
She yawned lazily and could not understand why the team leader was making such a fuss.
Wasn't it a good thing that there was no one guarding the supplies on the ground?
Ayasha closed her eyes and started circulating qi around her body to recover back to her peak state but a loud cry broke her concentration.
"Ayasha get away from there!" Elijah shouted in a fearful tone.
"She is in the f.u.c.k.i.n.g trees!" yelled the other warrior.
Mendolesa warriors had a much stronger sense of smell than other creatures but the lack of any visible opponents had caused the duo to relax their guard.
Ayasha glanced upwards in a panic before something heavy dropped onto her body and her vision faded into darkness.