Chapter 17: Riko’s Choice
In the afternoon, Riko brought Shi Xiaobai around Steel City. Steel City was divided into five zones. The jurisdiction zones of the four Divisions were separately the north, south, east and west. In the middle was a joint area with buildings for meetings as well as shared facilities.[Gaia]’s reputation was now in decline, but it had once been brilliant in China. [Gaia] Base had been established back in its glory days, hence, the facilities in Steel City were considerably adequate. It could be said it had everything. It had restaurants, supermarkets, karaoke bars, bars and other entertainment outlets. It even had a game arcade.
However, this world’s “virtual reality” was surprisingly well-developed. Every game was basically a “virtual game” meant for training the abilities of Heroes. Shi Xiaobai’s eyes glowed immediately as he yearned to try them out. Riko did not have that much time to waste with him at a game arcade, so she pulled him away. Shi Xiaobai lamented in pity as he decided that he had to find an opportunity to play every game in the game arcade in the future.
It was unknown where Riko obtained a car from. The duo drove around and walked around, traversing most of Steel City in its entirety. Of course, the main introduction was [Annihilation]’s jurisdiction zone.[Annihilation]’s jurisdiction zone was located to the south of Steel City. The facilities it had were not any different from the other three jurisdiction zones’. The main thing Riko wanted to do was to let Shi Xiaobai understand the structure of the jurisdiction zone, so that he would not get lost while outside. As for whether Shi Xiaobai was listening attentively or not, that was unknown.
The results of the Rookie Evaluation Test were out in the afternoon. A few text messages were sent to Riko’s cellphone. Shi Xiaobai had naturally received first place for [Annihilation] in this batch of rookie evaluations. He also became this year’s second S– Class rookie. If Shi Xiaobai had received one more point in the ability test, he could have had a chance to achieve S, or even S+ Class. After all, his dual S Class natural endowment was something that only appeared once in several years in the entire world, while he was the first in [Gaia] ever since its establishment.
There was another text message which was quite thought-provoking. According to the organization’s investigation, Shi Xiaobai’s identity came up completely blank! This meant that even [Gaia]’s intelligence agencies were unable to obtain any information about Shi Xiaobai. There were only two possibilities for this to occur. Either the confidentiality of Shi Xiaobai’s identity was above [Gaia]’s clearance level or Shi Xiaobai had appeared out of thin air. The former was unbelievable, while the latter was preposterous.
But in any case, [Gaia] would not easily let an uber-class rookie not seen in a hundred years disappear from their grasp. Even if they had to resort to brainwashing techniques, they would do so just to make Shi Xiaobai have a sense of belonging to [Gaia].
This matter resulted in two conflicting text messages. One of them was sent by the upper echelons of [Gaia]. It vaguely hinted to Riko that while protecting herself, she should try her best to make Shi Xiaobai have a sense of belonging to the organization. It implied a request for Riko to play with Shi Xiaobai’s feelings, making Shi Xiaobai fall for her. On this matter, it made Riko unsure whether to laugh or cry, but at the same time, she was infuriated.
The other text message had healed her hurt heart. It was a message sent from her father. Her father’s text message cussed at Shi Xiaobai, sternly requesting Riko to distance herself from Shi Xiaobai. He also expressed that he would settle any problems that came from the organization’s upper echelons. He wanted Riko to focus on her own matters and to not make any compromises.
Riko immediately replied her father’s text message, explaining the misunderstanding. She also depicted her understanding of Shi Xiaobai. After Riko’s father received the text message, he immediately responded with—”There’s really such an idiotic child?”
Riko immediately laughed in stitches as she began tapping noisily at her cellphone, producing a large passage mentioning how silly Shi Xiaobai was. Immediately, her mood turned better.
After that, Riko sent another text message to the organization’s upper echelons. She explained that Shi Xiaobai was a pure and kind child, and that she treated Shi Xiaobai as her younger brother.
The reaction from the upper echelons was swift. They immediately responded with a text message that gave Riko a headache. In summary, the organization decided that Riko was to play the role of Shi Xiaobai’s rookie counselor. Also, as there were not enough room in the rookie dormitories, Shi Xiaobai was to temporarily stay with Riko, and they had even used “a younger brother living in his elder sister’s house is completely reasonable” as the corresponding reason.
In accordance with established practices, [Gaia] would specially match a corresponding counselor to rookies at A Class or above. The counselor would guide and help the rookie in the beginning stages. The counselor was typically assigned to a young staff member of the organization as a side job. However, Riko’s status was extremely special. Not only was she the daughter of the Minamiya family, she was even this generation’s Oceanic Pontus. With her status, there was no need for her to shoulder the responsibility as rookie counselor. This was clearly arranged deliberately by the upper echelons.
As for there not being enough room in the rookie dormitories, that was even more preposterous. As a famous Hero organization in the country, and even internationally, how could [Gaia] lack a dormitory room? This excuse was too perfunctory! It was clearly forcing Shi Xiaobai to live with her!
Riko was so furious that she nearly threw her cellphone. Actually, with her status, the upper echelons could not do a thing if she directly rejected their request. If not, the upper echelons would not have used a negotiatory tone, or even have the need to use such a lame excuse.
However, Riko did not immediately reject them. After she sank her thoughts to ponder over it, she finally decided to agree to the upper echelon’s request. Firstly, Shi Xiaobai was recruited by her, so she had a certain amount of responsibility. Secondly, she did not hate spending time with Shi Xiaobai. Besides, Shi Xiaobai was still a child. The place she stayed at did have many spare rooms. Thirdly, she was afraid that after her rejection, the organization would find another beauty to seduce Shi Xiaobai. When the time came, she would feel sorry for the beauty that had been coerced by the organization.
For the organization’s upper echelons to go so far for Shi Xiaobai showed how stunning his natural endowment was. Riko did not wish for Shi Xiaobai to become a war victim amongst the rotten management of [Gaia]. She felt that it was her duty to protect this thirteen-year-old boy, just like an elder sister.
Along the way, Riko’s mind was weighed down by various thoughts, while Shi Xiaobai had problems on his mind too. Back when he first met Riko, the scene of Riko instantly slicing the calamity fiend, Sahadun, to pieces was imprinted in his mind. Back then, he told himself—This Girl is the Heroine he had always been looking for. He definitely needed her to join Xiaobai’s Hero Squad.
Now, he had finally gotten his wish, and because of that, another wish rose up to the surface of his heart.
However, due to his reservations as King, Shi Xiaobai forced himself not to say it. Neither after dinner, nor after he followed Riko back to her home—a warm house constructed in steel encasings—and even when she turned on the television and watched the flashy fighting program about the Heroes league on a forty inch crystal display. Only when Riko was about to go for a shower did he lose his wits, unable to hold it in any longer. He tugged at her hand and let out the words buried deep inside his heart all along.
“I want to become stronger. Please help me.”
Shi Xiaobai was not aware of how his future would be hallowed, or of how many organizations and the interests of a select few would pursue him. He only knew that he was still an ordinary person at this moment in time. He was still the same weakling who was powerless in front of that Sahadun. And because of that, he wanted to become stronger. And the girl in front of him was a member of Xiaobai’s Hero Squad, his ally. He wished that she could help him.
At this moment, Shi Xiaobai no longer called himself “This King”. His eyes were as bright as the stars and as deep as the starry sky.
At this moment, while looking into this youth’s eyes, Riko was very glad that she had chosen to agree to the organization’s request.
Author’s Note: Shi Xiaobai is a funny person, but he is not an idiot. He will bring joy to everyone and will move everyone sooner or later. Everyone, please wait and see!