Chapter 969: First Battle

Even though Tang Wulin had a very negative impression of the federation, he had to admit that the federation had some exceptional scientists.

He didn't know much about the practical applications of artificial intelligence, but he could imagine how drastically people's lives would change once artificial intelligence became more prevalently used in all major fields.

Light flashed, and the scenes around him changed before he found himself standing on a street. At the same time, a voice sounded beside his ears. "You've entered the western competition region. Please follow the arrows to head to the western competition region lobby. At the same time, please select your mode of battle; would you like to participate in a Soul Master battle or a mecha battle?"

A shimmering white arrow appeared before Tang Wulin, and after following it for a while, he soon caught sight of a building that was as massive as a sports stadium. He could also see that there were many other people making their way toward the building just like him.

From the outside, this simulated world was nowhere near as realistic as the Spirit Ascension Plane. There were many areas that had to be improved, but taking into account the existence of artificial intelligence in this system, nothing else was all that important.

After entering the massive western competition region arena, light flashed in front of Tang Wulin, and a light screen appeared.

"Please select your mode of battle."

Tang Wulin chose both Soul Master battle and mecha battle without any hesitation. A large block of text was then displayed on the screen, and at the very top were the words "Registration Success" in large font.

This clearly indicated that his registration process was complete. Following that was a list of rules for the mecha battles and Soul Master battles.

Due to the large number of contestants, the entire federation was split up into eight competition regions, and the competition region that one belonged to was determined through the Star Cabin that they were using. Tang Wulin was situated in the Skyend Mountain Ranges, so he naturally belonged to the western competition region.

The mecha battle section only presented two options for the mechas that could be chosen; long-range or melee. There were no other options, and the enclosed explanation for this was that this was supposed to be a pure contest of mecha piloting skills, so one could experience what it was like to use the competition-stipulated mechas beforehand, but they couldn't specify exactly what kind of mecha they wanted.

This was undoubtedly very troublesome to many mecha pilots. Everyone was quite familiar with their own mechas, and their combat prowess would be significantly dented if they were to use completely unfamiliar mechas instead.

However, taking into account the fact that this system was only in its infancy, Tang Wulin felt this to be quite understandable. After all, if everyone brought their own mecha into this simulated world, how much extra data would that result in? Furthermore, a battle between mechas should indeed be purely based on the skills of the mecha pilots. Some mecha pilots with inferior skills could have access to better materials and weapons for their mechas, and that would simply make everything quite unfair. Hence, this rule made everything a lot fairer.

The Soul Master battles were even simpler; they were just straightforward battles.

One had to first make it into the top 32 in their regional competitions before they could qualify for the finals.

The format of the regional competitions was decided based on the number of participants, and generally speaking, the rounds consisted primarily of elimination battles.

The rules were very simple; due to the fact that everyone was in the Star Battle Net, they didn't have to worry about hurting their opponents. As such, they could unleash their powers to their hearts' content and do everything they could do to beat their opponents. It was as simple as that.

However, the simpler the rules of a competition were, the harsher the competition would be. Elimination battles entailed that if he were unlucky and encountered a powerful being in the first round, then he could be eliminated in the very first round.

Tang Wulin's lips twitched as he thought back to the horrendous luck he'd experienced during the competition he'd participated in on the Star Luo Continent. He could only hope that his luck would be better in this Star Battle Net. Even so, no matter how he looked at it, making it into the top three was far too difficult.

After all, he would be facing all of the powerful Soul Masters on the continent who were below the Titled Douluo level and hadn't yet attained their suits of three-word battle armor. He could only do his best. He wondered if his friends would also be participating in this competition. 

The confidential nature of this system ensured that their identities wouldn't be leaked, which was quite a good thing as that at least ensured that he wouldn't attract much attention in the initial rounds.

It was just a pity that there were no partners or group battles. Otherwise, he'd actually have a greater chance.

Of course, that train of thought only surfaced briefly in his mind before he dismissed it. He wasn't with his friends at the moment, so even if they were participating in this competition, there was no way for them to find one another and form teams in the Star Battle Net.

After reading through the instructions, Tang Wulin waved a hand, and the light screen before him disappeared on its own. He then made a lap around the inside of the sports stadium to assess what the competition venue was like and familiarize himself with everything.

The internal arrangement of the sports stadium wasn't very complex, and everything was quite aesthetically pleasing. There were a few noteworthy areas to him; the stadium was divided into two sections, one for mecha battles, and the other for Soul Master battles. At the same time, the Soul Masters who registered for both modes of battle had their battle times arranged by the system so that there were no clashes.

There were some experiences available in both of the battle areas; all one had to do was make a selection, and they'd be able to enter one of the areas to participate in a practice match. However, federal credits were required to access this feature.

I have to pay? 

As a stingy cheapskate, Tang Wulin's eyes immediately widened. This was way too inhumane!

And the prices weren't cheap, either! Using a combat room in the mecha area once cost 2,000 federal credits, while a combat room in the Soul Master area cost 1,000 federal credits per hire. This essentially meant that it cost 1,000 or 2,000 federal credits just for a single practice battle.

"Why don't these guys go and rob a bank?!" Tang Wulin exclaimed with a speechless look on his face.

Right at this moment, a voice sounded from beside him. "Even robbing a bank won't generate income as quickly as this." Tang Wulin turned around to find that someone had appeared beside him without him noticing.

After entering this battle net, everyone's appearances had been concealed to a certain extent, and masks had also been given to all of the participants. All of the masks were white, and their clothes were all entirely grey in color, so they looked as mundane as mundane could be.

The only things that set them apart were the nicknames hovering above their heads.

The man beside him had the nickname "Between Four and Six" above his head. It was a rather strange nickname.

"These prices are ridiculous!" Tang Wulin sighed.

Between Four and Six nodded firmly in agreement. "Do you want to give this a try?"

Tang Wulin said in a resigned manner, "Well, I have to get in some practice in this venue before the competition begins. I wonder how I can transfer my federal credits into this simulation, though."

His voice had only just trailed off when the artificial intelligence system swooped in again. A light screen appeared before him, and an electronic voice sounded once again. "Would you like to top up some federal credits?"

Tang Wulin couldn't help but grit his teeth with fury. The federation wasn't even trying to hide the fact that this was a complete money-grab!

"I'll top up 10,000 federal credits for now." Tang Wulin gritted his teeth and topped up 10,000 of his remaining federal credits.

After topping up, he discovered that the number "10,000" had appeared in the bottom left corner of his field of view.

"Should we give this a try?" Between Four and Six seemed to have also topped up some credits, and he extended an invitation toward Tang Wulin.

"Between Four and Six has extended a challenge to you; you'll need to spend 1,000 federal credits to access the combat room."

Tang Wulin was only here to accrue some experience anyway, so he decided to accept.

Two beams of light immediately descended from the sky before shining down upon the two of them. Their vision blurred, and in the next instant, they found themselves in another setting.

It was actually completely identical to a real sports stadium here, and it was only larger in area. They were situated on a massive competition platform that was over 300 meters in diameter, and it was truly an extremely grand sight to behold. There was enough space for them to unleash all of their power, and there were many seats around the stadium, but of course, there were no spectators...

"Three, two, one, begin!"

The electronic voice cut straight to the chase without giving them any time to prepare. The two of them had only just appeared 100 meters apart on the platform before the countdown immediately commenced.

Tang Wulin and Between Four and Six were both appraising one another, and in the next instant, the two of them charged toward each other in unison.

Neither of them had released their martial souls right away, and the distance of 100 meters was being closed down at a rapid rate. The two of them released their martial souls almost in complete synchronicity when they were only around 20 meters away from one another.

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