Chapter 9: First Blood
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Treading through the dense forest, before long Alter found one of the entrance to the underground bunker.

Because he rushed in at full speed at the beginning, he calculated that he was probably among the first to discover an entrance.

The door to the bunker was circular with a rotate-action lever which was the style usually used for submarines among other things.

At first glance it was quite well-hidden from amateurs' eyes because of the grasses and fallen leaves covering it.

"Found you." Alter whispered.

*CREAK*

With a bit of strength, the door was easily loosened as the rusts on its joint caused quite a creaking sound when opened. Without further ado, Alter entered the shaft and slide through the ladder into the bunker.

'As usual, the interior was quite contrasting to its outer appearance.' Alter noted as he looked around the surroundings.

Different from the rusted door and the shaft, after reaching the floor and coming out the corridor, the inside of the bunker was clean and installed with the latest technologies and sturdy materials.

At first glance, it even looked futuristic.

"Oh, welcome!" A middle-aged man greeted from one side of the white interior of the bunker.

"Congratulations on being the very first examinee to discover an entrance."

*CLAP* *CLAP*

The middle-aged man with quite a bit of grey hair congratulated Alter with a smile.

'All the armory supervisors should be frequently in contact with each others through their comms. So I should truly be the first one to arrive, not bad!' The edge that the first person had was huge for Alter, he will have enough time to scout and prepare many things.

'This will do quite nicely.' He thought to himself with a grin.

'Now...' Alter finished his thought and looked towards rhe middle-aged man in the room.

It was quite weird, the supervisors didn't seem to even want to try initiating any conversations, he was just looking at Alter with a polite smile.

Furthermore, inside the room with white walls and floor, there wasn't a single trace of any equipments, there was only the hallway that led to the shaft, and an elevator door behind the supervisors.

When Alter encountered this for the second time, he realized that all these was deliberate. If a normal examinee arrived to this scene, they would've wasted quite a bit of time assessing what 'this' weird arrangement supposed to achieve.

In truth, one need only to ask the supervisor to gain access to the equipments. The thing is that supervisors will only act on the bare minimum of your inquiry.

If you asked if there are any weapons or equipments here, he'd say yes. If you asked whether you can see them or not, he'd say you can.

This was not designed solely to irritate the examinee, this was designed to teach the examinee how to efficiently communicate with the least amount of time consumed in a time crunch situation.

One of the best ways would be to directly ask them to let you see the equipments or the armory.

'Well, there are faster ways though.' Alter smiled wryly remembering his irritation at the supervisor the first time around.

The key is that the supervisor were obligated to not only answer any inquiries but comply to any requests or orders related to the procurement of equipments that is this stage.

"Alright!" *CLAP*

Alter thought for a bit and clapped once before starting to arm himself. The supervisor still stood silently looking at him without a change in his emotion.

"Supervisor, sir! Can you give me a set of standard military-issue attire, including the kevlar and body-rig,

two Type-7 Fenrir handguns,

two standard military Heat Dagger,

one set of throwing knife,

an S2-Bandersnatch sniper rifle with scope attachment,

and...

Oh, and a wire trap kit!"

Alter finished his orders in a single breath as he tried to think if there's anything he missed.

At this, the supervisor in front of Alter widened his eyes in surprise. In all his years being an exam supervisor, there had been several exam formats where he had to be the equipments supervisor such as this.

But in all his years, he almost never met anyone who had already known everything he wanted going in. Even weirder that he didn't seem the least bit surprised upon seeing the bunker's empty interior.

The surprise caused him to lag on his reaction for a couple seconds, prompting Alter to ask him again.

"Well?" He asked, "Oh, do tell me if any of those orders aren't in accordance to the rules."

"For bullets, I assume you already have a regulation as for the maximum number of ammunitions I can get for each type of firearms so just give me the max amount."

"..." Even after that, he was still greeted with silence, "Um..."

"...Ah, right!" After coming out of his stupor, the supervisor quickly turned his back and put his hand on certain part of the wall beside the elevator door.

When he put more force into it, the square part of that area of the wall sank in and caused a mechanical sound to reverberate throughout the underground bunker.

Slowly, the two opposing sides of wall perpendicular to the corridor and the elevator door lifted up showing a seperate space on both sides.

The two additional partitioned space were filled to the brim with racks and racks of various equipments and weaponries.

The supervisor were observing Alter's reaction to the mechanism, but to his disappointment, the examinee in front of him didn't show even the slightest emotion on his face.

Alter stood still while looking at the supervisor as if asking why he still hadn't bring him the requested weapons.

The supervisor could only awkwardly walked to the side and started collecting the requests.

.

After receiving the equipments and firearms, Alter didn't dally and quickly put on the sensory suit before also putting on the standard military-issue uniform.

After equipping all his items, Alter's outer appearance looked like that of a full-fledged army man. His body rig carried the two handguns close to his armpits and below that were a set of throwing knife on both sides.

The heat daggers were strapped on his left and right thighs whereas his main weapon, the sniper rifle, were slung with a loose strap on his shoulder.

'It's been a really long time since I've been this heavily armed, not since the last year of the war I think...' Alter briefly reminisced, 'It does carry the sense of security.'

Alter smiled.

***

After approximately 15 minutes into the practical exam, Garr, one of the examinees with the most muscles, finally discovered his entrance.

Through his observation, he should still be one of the earliest one who found an entrance since even when he found it, there were still some examinees within the vicinity of the bunker door searching left and right.

Knowing this, Garr had been so careful as to not get noticed when he entered his bunker door and went down the shaft.

Inside the Bunker, he went through the same experience as Alter where the supervisor of the bunker gave the bare minimum answers for his every questions. In fact, the supervisor was exactly the same one who handled Alter.

Confronted with the annoying back and forth between himself and the middle-aged supervisor, his face muscles contracted several times as if testing his patience.

Alas, that particular part of the test is not one that would stump anyone with a little bit of brain in their head, so eventually, Garr too were shown the whole content of the armory.

He spent a few more minutes going around the room picking suitable weapons for the exam until finally, he too was heavily armed with weapons, even more so than Alter.

Going by the fact that the other examinees in the vicinity still hadn't discover the bunker's door even after he armed himself, he thought that he did pretty alright in his procurement process as he rode the elevator down.

The room inside the elevator is cylindrical with only some patterned dim lights surrounding it. Garr rode the elevator and it automatically went down with a pretty high velocity.

"Amazing... How deep does this thing go?" Garr himself couldn't help but be amazed the longer the time he spent inside the elevator.

.

Finally, when the elevator truly stopped, the door opened for Garr and the scenery in front of him amazed him even more than the long elevator ride.

It was a really huge and wide mining cavern with a pretty decent lightings and several branching and winding shafts going in different directions. Some paths were installed with rail tracks, carts, and electrical cable, while some were comparably darker.

"This is unbelievable, how long does it takes to build a simulated mining cave this big..." He mumbled subconsciously.

When both his feet finally stepped out of the elevator, the door quickly closed itself cutting off any escape path from the soon-to-be underground battlefield.

The path that Garr were dropped off was one of the open areas where one can view with better clarity the actual size of this place.

Garr figured that not all of the elevators will put you in an open area like this one. Realizing this, he felt that he was really lucky in finding his entrance.

The area he was in had a long spiralling path that led to the center of the room on the lower ground. On different levels of the spirals, there were several branching pathways that would probably lead to a large maze that might eventually connect to a different open area.

Garr steadied his mind with a couple deep breaths and finally took a step forward towards the edge of the spiralling pathways closest to his side to get a clearer view.

But.

Just as he reached the edge and grabbed the broken manmade railings, a familiar sound roared across the whole open area.

*BANG*

Before his mind could register the sound, Garr felt an enormous pressure on his neck pushing his whole body backwards and up.

The sensory suit, being an equipment at the forefront of technological advancement, didn't disappoint and quickly activated its function.

The lights on both sides of Garr's shoulders lit itself through his kevlar, showing a pair of soft blinking red lights as the sensory suit activated the alarm hinting his elimination from the exam.

Garr himself didn't have enough consciousness to respond to it as he was already knocked out on the ground with bubbles on his mouth.

If one were to remove the sensory suit from his body, one would be able to see a dotted blue spot at the center of his neck.

As the instructor had said, the bullets weren't exactly harmless.

***

At the entrance to a pathway at one of the lower levels of the spiral, Alter relaxed his grip on the S2-Bandersnatch sniper rifle that still had some smoke coming out of its muzzle.

*PHEW* "One." He counted after a sigh.

He then stood up from his semi-kneeling position where he folded his right leg while stretching his left leg straight to the front.

Of course, he didn't forget to reload his bolt action sniper rifle that currently had one less bullet inside.

The non-lethal bullet, or dummy as they called it in the military, was quite an innovative invention. It had the same anatomy as a normal bullet with the exception of the projectile at the tip which were made of some sort of synthetic rubber.

The synthetic rubber were etched with a 'runic formation' using the aether crystal ink that strengthened its durability enough to withstand the heat and propelling force of a firearm while still maintaining its somewhat elastic nature and form.

In Myr, even though magicians no longer exist due to the condensation of Aether in the atmosphere into Aether Crystals, it didn't mean that magic no longer exist.

As long as the source of magic, the Aether, still exist, even in the form of a mineral, then magic too shall exist.

What disappeared was the possibility for a living being, especially human, to make a natural connection with the Aether in the air to conjure magic as they were all already in their condensed crystal form.

But what of the magical beast who, with their constitution, could directly consume Aether Crystals to get stronger and store magical energy in their bodies?

The existence of magical beast itself is proof that magic still exists.

Although humans were limited by their species, as the creature with insatiable greed and intelligence, they always find a way to survive and progress.

And that way is, Runic Formation!

By processing Aether Crystal into its liquid ink form and engraving it, as if following certain laws in the patterns, the magic energy contained within will naturally trigger a reaction with differing effects depending on the patterns carved.

And once again, human progresses.

Maintaining a delicate balance between the magical beast and their civilization.

***

At this time, Alter already turned back around and went deeper into his pathway.

In actuality, Alter preferred to focus on hunting the lowest tier magical beasts to stack points rather than hunting other examinees.

The reason for it is that if he could help it, he wouldn't want to affect the future too much by having a different cast of people passing the entrance trial.

He simply wanted to add his own name to the list.

Frankly speaking, the current him could easily eliminate anyone of the Shining Generation candidates at the moment. That's why he needed to be careful in not eliminating anyone who in the previous future even had the slightest bit of reputation. This was so it wouldn't affect his mission.

Nevermind the Shining Generation, he wouldn't even want to eliminate the future top students of each class if he could help it.

The problem with this plan is, since he failed this trial before, he didn't really know if hunting just magical beasts will give him enough points to be put in the same class as Anastasia which was the special class for all the cream of the crop in a batch.

He needed to follow Anastasia's footsteps to follow the ledger's footsteps and complete it. That's why he couldn't risk not being one of the best examinees in this trial. This is of the utmost priority even beyond not changing the list of people who passed.

So when he heard the elevator with Garr in it reached his previous starting point, he decided to collect the easy point before moving on.

As far as he knew, there were no reputable graduates with a face like Garr in the future. Of course, he couldn't possibly remember every top students of every class when it's not even his generation, that's why the risk will always be there.

He could only hope he didn't change too much of the starting lineup when the trial's over.

 

Here's the next chapter, thanks for reading!

So first of all, a bit of news from me. Because of my schedule, I'd probably be releasing approximately 3 chapters/week, or hopefully 4 on a good week.

I would like to thank everyone who have read the novel and rated it highly (it truly motivates me!), and to ensure everyone that I intend to see this novel through to the end~

 

So thanks again, and I'd really appreciate it if everyone would still give this a chance despite the slower release rate T_T

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