SPACE 2. The Best Hunting Ground
Ark sighed. He had been on the verge of applying for an extension when there was a mass case of PK! This unprecedented event was definitely a fatal blow to Ark. So far he had identified the death toll at 230 people! But the problem wasn’t the deaths. The incident happened in just 30 minutes. The fact that there were 230 deaths in such a short time meant that the Laius company had a minimum of 100 people hidden in the dungeon. They also had to have considerable levels and skills to PK the users hunting in Mt. Fargo. More than 100 chaotic people had infested the dungeon.
“Damn, how can we hunt in a place like this?”
“Does it make sense to pay for a dungeon infested with chaotic people?”
“Isn’t the sector manager going to solve this problem?”
“Allowing chaotic people in the first place is inconceivable!”
The users’ complaints were directed at Ark. Strictly speaking, it was Ark’s responsibility. There were ways to hide an identity in Galaxian. There were even items that make noise to prevent the opponent from figuring out their personal information. If the Hyde Helmet was used then even the appearance could be changed. Therefore most cities and sectors had devices installed at the entrance to detect those types of items and skills like ‘stealth.’ But Ark was poor.
He had been saving all his money to install the Fairy and exclusive route. But that meant he couldn’t install the search device. The boundary of S-20 was only marked with a fence and rubble. In addition, Ark only had 10 people to maintain the boundary. If someone wanted to sneak in then it was easy. The auditor was correct when he pointed out that S-20’s security was low. He didn’t even have the minimal amount of equipment to stop a situation.
‘Those guys aren’t hiding in that way……’
Even if there were no security facilities, there were the eyes of many pioneers in the dungeon. There had to be a way to hide 100 chaotic people in the dungeon. Perhaps they were in a normal state before entering the dungeon. In any case, the damage was huge. Many users in the same party had died. If they were normal before PKing then there would be no way to filter them out even if he had search devices. But that wasn’t an excuse. He couldn’t avoid receiving the blame so he took the dungeon entrance fees.
‘It’s fine if they blame me. The problem is that there is no way to resolve this situation.’
This was the reason for Ark’s sigh. Usually a sector would request intervention from the federation in cases like this. However the range of S-20 was up to the entrance of the dungeon. They had to pass through S-20 to do to the dungeon so the users paid a separate admission fee. But the dungeon itself wasn’t owned by Ark. In other words, it was no different from the Outlands. That’s why he couldn’t stop Bain from drilling a tunnel to the dungeon even though he was advertising it for free.
“We’ll handle this!”
At that moment Berad stood up and shouted. Ralph and Kalliben also followed him.
“Yes! We’ve sweated blood digging in the dungeon. I can’t just let those vile henchmen steal all our hard work!”
“Don’t be stupid.”
Mellin jumped in with a frustrated expression.
“You’ve spent a month there so you know how big and complex the dungeon is. How can 10 people find all those guys? You need to find a minimum of 100 people. If we enter then they will systematically deal with us. We’ll just be surrounded by them in the dungeon and get wiped out.”
“I’m not afraid of death!”
“Yes, what does it matter if we die once or twice?”
Mellin sighed and shook his head.
“That way won’t solve anything.”
Mellin’s words were correct. In fact, not all the users had been scared off by the PK case. Users like Ciel and Kuma who fought with Ark weren’t put off by it. But that was only dozens of people. There were over 100 chaotic people and he wasn’t even sure of the number but he wouldn’t have enough to deal with all of them. He had to admit it. Mt. Fargo’s dungeon had been seized by Laius. And……
|*Sector Management Information Window*
Sector Code: S-20 Sector Rating: Lv. 1
Sector Range: 1 kilometre around the entrance of Mt. Fargo.
Sector Manager: Ark (Agent: Dark Eden)
Number of Stores: 12 (7: Duty-free shops, 5: 5% tax of the income)
<Notice: 2 shops destroyed and 4 damaged and business is stopped until the damage is compensated>
Sector Assets: 4,374 gold
He sighed over and over again.
“Why did something like that happen? There’s no Fairy here so all the experience gathered from the past few days just flew away! No matter how precious the gallstones is from the Thanatos, it isn’t worth the risk and anxiety.”
“Refund our entry fee!”
“Yes, I won’t be hunting here anymore!”
A large number of pioneers requested a refund since the PK incident. 1,000 people had left the sector. And Ark was forced to refund the 1 gold dungeon admission fee. However now money wasn’t the problem.
‘There are 13 days left for the audit command. Currently the only way to complete the quest is to expand the sector.’
The condition was that the population of 2,000 needed to be maintained for a week. In other words, he needed to attract back the pioneers and maintain it for at least 6 days. However the population couldn’t increase when the dungeon was basically closed. There were other hunting grounds around S-20 but that would only attract users for a short period of time. And there were other sectors in the Outlands. There was also no guarantee that the PK wouldn’t happen again. No, he was sure it would!
‘There is only one way to solve this situation.’
Ark would also hire pioneers like the Laius company! He could hire mercenaries to sweep through the dungeon. That would also fill up the population so it was killing two birds with one stone.
‘The problem is funding. It would cost quite a few gold to handle the chaotic people in the dungeon. A minimum of 100 people is necessary. Employing users in that method would require thousands of gold. My remaining 4,374 gold might not be enough.’
It would be useless even if he hired the mercenaries. He wouldn’t have the money to expand the sector as planned. He would fail the audit command!
‘No, there has to be some way! I can’t give up S-20 like this! I have to defend it! Chaotic…..if only I could pull out those damn chaotic bastards…..but the dungeon is outside my sector and they’re trapped in there……’
It was at that moment. A lightning bolt flashed through Ark’s head.
“Yes, that’s right! I’ve misjudged the situation! Pioneers aren’t entering the dungeon because of the chaotic PKers. So I thought they seized the dungeon but it is actually the opposite.”
“The opposite? What are you saying?”
The Royal Guards were bewildered by Ark’s words.
“Even if they infiltrated the dungeon in the normal state, they’ve all become chaotic once they killed the pioneers. They won’t be able to leave the dungeon in that state. Many pioneers left but there are still more than 1,000 users in the sector. If they exit in a chaotic state then they would only be committing suicide. No matter how level they are, they won’t be able to deal with all the users in the sector. If they enter the sector then that will also give the federation the chance to intervene. The Laius group knows of the relationship between Marquis Martin and me so they won’t take that risk. So those guys are trapped in the dungeon.”
The Royal Guards thought furiously. Their expressions were asking why if mattered if they were locked up. But this difference was great for Ark.
‘Yes, I don’t need to have complicated thoughts!’
Ark ignored the members’ ‘?’ and looked around. The man wiping the Silver Star caught his eye. His name was Kurakan. He had kept on challenging Rapid while Ark was away and eventually won. However Ark got annoyed and beat him in a duel, sentencing him to serve the sector for a week. Honestly Ark hadn’t expected Kurakan to keep his promise. Ark thought he would run off as soon as possible. However Kurakan had been obediently fulfilling his service time in S-20 with chores. In Kurakan’s words……
“So far I’ve duelled with hundreds of users and I’ve never lost. Dying is not the same as losing. Ark is the only one who I admitted defeat to. So I will keep the promise. It isn’t because Ark-nim knows my recognition code. I will look extremely cowardly if I run away. I can’t become Ark’s student if I commit such a cowardly act.”
“I intend to be a disciple that is like your subordinate.”
Kurakan snorted and struck his chest.
“When I started Galaxian I vowed to defeat 1,000 users. I won a duel with more than 500 users until I was beaten by Ark.”
He could guess how Kurakan won. He kept on challenging Rapid until he couldn’t rest and became sick. Well that was until he met Ark.
“But if I lost before 1,000 wins then that person would become my Hyung-nim. That is Ark-nim. You’re the only person in Galaxian who won against me.”
He couldn’t agree that Kurakan won against the other users but……
“Okay. I’ll see what you do from now on and I will decide.”
Ark agreed that Kurakan would be a candidate to become his subordinate for the moment. His level and equipment weren’t that great but he was persistent in applying for the duel. That’s how he eventually managed to win against Kurakan. He could probably make use of him somehow.
‘That time is now.’
Ark grinned and beckoned towards Kurakan.
“Hey you. Look over here a moment.”
“It’s a little sudden but……”
Ark pulled out his blue lightsaber.
“You have to die.”
–Has it been going as planned?
A husky voice flowed from the monitor. Just by listening to the voice, you could imagine that it came from a man in his 50s sitting arrogantly in a swivel chair and biting a cigar.
Bain replied subserviently.
“They’ve receive an unrecoverable blow this time. The decrease in population ruined his plan to expand the sector and take the research centre. And the population will keep on decreasing as long as our criminals are here. That guy has no way to recover. Now we just need to wait for the audit time limit……”
The man shouted in a harsh voice. He stared at Bain with an unpleasant look and said.
–What is happening in S-20 right now can’t be related to the Laius company. The Laius headquarters doesn’t know anything about this. If there is a problem then everything will be blamed on you. Am I wrong?
“T-that’s right! I’m sorry!”
Bain closed his mouth and quickly lowered his head. The man then started talking again.
–The important thing isn’t the process but the result.
“I’m aware of that.”
–You’ve already done enormous damage to headquarters. Originally you would’ve been fired already. Have you forgotten who made sure you still have your neck?
“Of course! I will never forget Vice President-nim’s mercy!”
–But my benevolence has a limit.
The Vice President rubbed his cigar onto an ashtray and said.
–If you fail this time then it is the end.
“That will never happen!”
–I will believe you.
The man shut off his monitor at those words. Bain finally sighed with relief after a long time had passed.
He wiped the sweat on his forehead. He had no choice. That was the Vice President of the Laius company! His mood on that day could determine whether Bain’s neck stayed on or not. And Bain had been in danger of losing his job last time. The research institute built on the slopes of Mt. Fargo had been smashed. Bain was the warden so naturally he would be smashed as well. Yet he had been revived as a phoenix because of the Vice President’s mercy. If the Vice President abandoned him then he would be screwed!
Responsibility →Dismissal → Poverty→ Homeless→ Desperation→ Death!
The route for a gloomy life replayed through his head. No, he wouldn’t even last that long. The Laius company was behind the S-20 incident. If it was discovered than the Laius company would suffer a huge blow. The Vice President would definitely push it all on Bain. Bain would become the scapegoat of all the illegal actions. If that situation occurred than he would be treated as a ‘thing.’ The Vice President had saved Bain. Thus he was a cannon fodder when there was a crisis. It wouldn’t just be a dismissal if he failed. He would probably push all the responsibility on Bain and then silence him! His body would probably be found somewhere having died an unnatural death. No, if it was the Vice President then he would definitely do that.
“But there’s no need to worry about that.”
Bain who had been looking uncomfortable smiled and shook his head. Everything was going according to plan. He had the airship crash into the sector and sneaked assassins into the dungeon. As the result the population of S-20 had decreased. Now the sector expansion was completely blocked.
‘Even if Ark manages to obtain the money from somewhere and passes the audit, he won’t be able to sustain the sector. He will know this no matter how stupid he is. He would have no choice but to give up. Ark would have to beg to buy it at 500 gold. But I have no intention of giving him even 1 gold.’
Bain’s mouth rose in a smile.
‘That Ark bastard, this is payback for treating me like a fool in front of all those pioneers. He will realize what a big mistake he made.’
Bain laughed crazily as he imagined the future. Suddenly the door opened and a guard ran in.
Bain choked with surprise.
“Holy shit! You almost killed me! Do you know how to knock?”
“There’s no time for that!”
“There’s no time? You mean you don’t care if I’ll choke and die?”
“I mean……look outside!”
“I don’t know what’s going on. Now you want me to check outside……”
Bain suddenly flinched and closed his mouth. Bain was sitting in the office on the top floor of the institute that had been completed. His balcony looked over S-20 so he could watch Ark’s efforts to revive the sector.
“What the hell is going on?”
Bain looked back at the guards.
“I don’t know. Why……?”
The guards answer became buried by an ensuing explosion. The clouds scattered because of a storm. The space distorted and an airship appeared with a flash of light.
“Che, they’ve all gathered.”
The man talking had a thick scar carved on his face. Then someone near the man laughed and said.
“They’re all at a similar level anyway. There is no need for Hyung-nim to worry.”
“Hrmm, am I that strong?”
“Of course. Who is Hyung-nim? Hyung-nim is the great warrior who wiped out dozens of great worms! Isn’t that Hyung-nim? I decided to serve Hyung-nim because of that strength.”
“If Hyung-nim is with us then we are stronger than all those users!”
“Hyung-nim is the king!”
“Huhuhu. Yes, that’s me.”
The man with the scar laughed. The man had henchmen that were clamouring away. His party had challenged the dungeon with the highest difficult in Istana’s southern region. While everyone was wiped out by the last boss, he had fought the great worm and won. His name was Hoover. He was called the worm slaughterer by other users.
Naturally he had the best equipment that couldn’t be compared to general users! He was wearing one of the best hybrid armour and a level 100 diamond coated axe with a particle cannon as his secondary weapon! This equipment was something anyone could boast of.
Players checked out other players. Any user with experience could check the performance of equipment.
“W-what is that?”
“What type of rich person is he? Those are all unique equipment.”
The surrounding users chattered as they stared at him with envious eyes.
“There is no one here who can beat me in a 1-on-1 fight.”
Hoover started bragging further as he was complimented. Numerous people found that their most exhilarating moment was when connecting to a virtual reality game. That’s why users spent money to buy better equipment and stayed up all night to raise their skills. In reality they might be service industry workers, parents, students or unemployed but they could brag about their characters in game!
‘Huhuhu, keep on being envious! I stayed up all night playing the game to obtain this!’
However Hoover’s pleasure didn’t last long.
“Hey, look at that!”
“Whoa, what the? That armour? It’s not a joke?”
The users were suddenly interested in something behind Hoover. Hoover and his followers turned around and their mouths dropped open. The players split like the Red Sea for a long haired user wearing distinctive armour! It was black armour spewing blue lights that unfolded like wings.
“The armour, somewhere……”
Hoover muttered blankly.
“That armour, I’ve seen it before! It is the armour that is only given to users within the top 10 at the arena in Kurim! That means the user has reached at least the top 10 in a tournament?”
“I heard it was quite a high level tournament……”
“That’s right. I only finished in the top 300.”
There was equipment that couldn’t be obtained no matter how much money the person had. Binding equipment was given after completing certain quests or defeating certain boss monsters. That guy was wearing an armour like that. It was quite a difficult armour to obtain. It was proof of the person’s skills.
“Hyung-nim, doesn’t that guy seem strong?”
Hoover’s followers asked. Hoover’s mouth was gaping open but he quickly closed it after hearing the question.
“Bah! He just needs to place 10 to receive the item. If I participated in the tournament then I would’ve placed 1st.”
“I-is it like that?”
Hoover snorted and replied. Then the long-haired guy passing near looked at Hoover. A cold light sparkled in the grey eyes.
“That……what did I just hear you say?”
Hoover stepped back with an embarrassed expression. Then the long haired man walked by Hoover without a smile.
The henchmen looked at their leader with disappointment. The shamed Hoover turned towards the long haired man.
“Hey! You over there! What’s with the attitude? If you want a fight……”
“Shut up. Don’t block the road and get out of the way. My autobots can’t pass.”
An irritated voice was heard from behind him.
Hoover flared up as he turned around only to retreat again. Two robots armed with various weapons were behind him.
“What’s with this reaction? Is this the first time seeing autobots?”
A small body riding on the back of a dinosaur like robot laughed.
“I call them autobots but they are just lumps of machine parts. I painstakingly constructed this for a few months and created a special edition. Did you just talk about a tournament? You mean that guy wearing the armour?”
“Y-you know that guy?”
“I know. I’ve met him a few times. Well I’m stronger than him. If the tournament rules had allowed autobots then I would’ve come on top instead of that guy. Isn’t that right?”
–It is like Master said.
A robot answered in a hollow voice. Among the engineer professions, there were those capable of controlling combat robots so they were called controllers and were similar to summoners. They could use robots called autobots. They needed various production related skills as well as a huge amount of money to make the robots. Therefore Hoover had only seen a controller a few times.
The autobots that Hoover saw were at least 1 metre in size and were similar to the battle androids. However the autobots in front of him were nearly 2 metres in size! Making an autobot of that size meant he had a significant engineering skill. And he had two. The autobots were capable of moving automatically but the controller had to control the small movements directly. In other words, that person could direct two robots at the same time.
‘What? This place? Is it a convention?’
It was ridiculous. The controller continued talking like he hadn’t noticed Hoover.
“That bastard, he obtained the armour at the Kurim tournament because I couldn’t show the power of a controller. This place doesn’t have stingy regulations like the arena. But that isn’t my purpose.”
“Hey Park, you came as well?”
Then another user approached. This time it was a woman but the equipment she was wearing wasn’t a joke. They seemed to know each other well as the controller called Park pouted.
“Kaya? Sheesh, can’t I come?”
“That’s not what I meant. No, I thought you would come. You need money to create the autobots. If you saw the image than it is impossible for you to hold still.”
“What about you?”
“Of course I have the same purpose.”
Kaya grinned and showed a picture saved on the Nymphe.
A few hours ago.
An event occurred that would definitely shake Galaxian. The thing that shook many users was a post.
-Jackpot! Loot all the time!
That was the title of the post. The users who checked the post were shocked. The attached screen shot showed a user making a V sign next to a corpse. The really shocking thing was the items around the user! The armour was worth hundreds of gold. Dozens of gallstones were also scattered around.
Today S-20 became infested with a lot of chaotic people.
I’m a user with some skills. I came looking for gallstones to upgrade my equipment. The chaotic people appeared after I entered the dungeon. So we fought. I defeated him and a whole bunch of items poured out. The situation had reversed.
This was the contents of the post. That was what surprised the users. Like any other game, Galaxian’s site had dozens of posts a day bragging about the items obtained. The items shown in the screenshot didn’t have a significantly higher value than other posts. The reason it had so many hits was because the user who dropped it was chaotic.
-Hey, is this real?
–This is the lottery. Did all of this really come from one guy?
–Isn’t someone doing a trick just to arouse some attention?
At first the reactions were disbelieving. They might’ve been items obtained from other users. Anyone who saw it would have a pain in their stomach. So initially there wasn’t much of a reaction. The explosive reaction of users started from some comments.
–This is probably true.
–Yes, I heard from a friend that the dungeon in S-20 is dominated with chaotic players.
–Hundreds of users have been subjected to PK.
–The users killed by PK dropped quite a few equipment and gallstones.
–I heard the chaotic players are still there. They can’t leave because the entrance of the dungeon opens to a sector. They probably intend to leave after gathering a bunch of gallstones.
The information was transmitted one after another! Once again, a chaotic state had a considerably large penalty in most virtual reality games. They were branded as criminals and punished by law. However users were afraid to become chaotic for a separate reason. It was reverse PK!
They could get PKed by other users. When a user died, there was a chance to drop equipment. If a regular user died then that chance was only 5%. But it was different when talking about the death of chaotic users. There was a 100% chance of dropping equipment! If a chaotic user died then an equipment would drop unconditionally. 2~3 random items from their bag would also drop as well.
‘If I can win!’
The rewards were definitely worth hunting down chaotic users. The situation changed 180 degrees once that idea caught hold. S-20 had chaotic users PK hundreds of people. This meant they had high levels and used expensive equipment. If they decided to gather gallstones while trapped there then there was a high chance of gallstones dropping.
Dungeon infested with chaotic players → expensive items dropped.
They dominate the dungeon and don’t leave → they are trapped like rabbits.
This formula was immediately made. In other words…..
‘This is an opportunity for a jackpot!’
Chaotic players were a dangerous existence that users had to be careful of. But that was only if the user couldn’t win. Items dropped by chaotic players were like those from a boss monster. Furthermore, they were criminals. Killing them would increase the federation contribution. That’s why all the pioneers flocked to S-20. The dungeon was hiding more than 100 chaotic people! Some users might fear the dungeon. But those with a lot of skills considered it the best hunting ground.
“I can’t let a treasure chest like this pass by.”
Kaya said with a smile.
“But my purpose isn’t the items. I was thinking of forming an agent but my federation contribution is a bit lacking. It is easier to gain contribution from killing chaotic users than from doing dozens of miscellaneous quests. But that doesn’t mean I won’t eat the items.”
“Bah, do you think I will leave you a share?”
“That’s what I want to say.”
“Let’s see who can gather more. Let’s go!”
The two autobots thumped towards Mt. Fargo at Park’s command. Kaya wasn’t to be outdone and also ran towards the dungeon.
Hoover exclaimed as he stared after them.
“This isn’t good! We have to hurry! Our prey might be snatched from us!”
Hoover and his henchmen chased after them. It wasn’t just them. Dozens of airships were continuously appearing at S-20. Users poured towards the dungeon after landing. And 1 person was watching the scene with a pleased look!
“It’s a success!”
Ark was S-20’s administrator. There was no need to explain at this point. Ark was the one who created the post that shook Galaxian!
–Those guys are trapped in the dungeon!
It all began from this thought. He found a way to solve all his problems. Attract users to the dungeon using the lure of chaotic items! The problem was how to quickly spread the news. This was the reason for Kurakan’s sacrifice. Ark killed Kurakan in a duel and took a screen shot with is items scattered around. Of course the face was hidden behind a mosaic.
This was the result. Users arriving one after another. If they came to hunt chaotic users then there was no need to ask about their skills. But he assembled the users for a different reason. Ark’s purpose was the users themselves!
‘The population of the sector is growing again!’
He still had 10 days left for his <Audit Command>. The population would increase to 2,000 by then and the situation would reverse.
“Now it’s your turn. What will you do?”
Ark looked up at the Laius’ research institute and laughed. Bain was squeezing his head on the balcony of the top floor.
“It can’t be! What? All these peopleeeeee!”