Chapter 2. Cube (2)

The world’s greatest training institute boasting state-of-the-art magic, science, and engineering.
[Cube]
Cube was the name of a huge island located in the East Sea. This artificial island was twice the size of Yeouido.
[1]
In this huge area, there were only about 5000 Hero cadets, of which 1300 were first-years. While 2000 non-combatants graduated two weeks ago, elite cadets from all over the world gathered here, making it more competitive than before. In a way, the place was too harsh and dreary to be home for 17 to 19 year olds.
And starting from the second year, magicians who chose to become Heroes would come from the ‘National Magic University,’ so that was another 200~300 cadets.

Furthermore, there were training instructors, cafeteria ladies, cleaners, recruiters visiting occasionally, government associates, engineers who did maintenance and operations, soldiers dispatched as securities, doctors and researchers for taking care of cadets, convenience store workers who worked under Cube, and more… With all these people, about 50,000 people resided in Cube.

Naturally, this place was a highly important hubbub where the attention of investors gathered. Given that my novel’s setting was faithfully followed, Korea was a world power rivaling the United States. I seemed to remember listing several reasons for it, but the more obvious reason was that I was Korean.

In any case, Chundong was a member of Cube so he could be said to be an elite. But I didn’t allocate any story for Chundong.
So Chundong’s destiny should’ve been to live in areas detached from the main storyline. While he would not have lived the important and burdening life of the main character, he probably would have lived a comfortable worry-free life.

… And that was the life I wanted too.
Staring at the door to the classroom, I sighed.

[Novice – Veritas]

Novice referred to first year cadets, while Veritas was the name of the class. Simply put, I was in year 1 class 1.
I knew what this class was.
Shin Jonghak and Kim Suho were in this class, and as cliques formed around them, many schemes, mostly started by Shin Jonghak and his followers, would make the class rowdy. As a member of the class, I would most likely be swept in regardless of my will.

“Huu.”

After collecting my breath, I slowly and carefully opened the door.

The interior was sleek; white with no sign of dust and three long desks cascading up.
Where should I sit? I looked around the classroom and found Shin Jonghak sitting on the farthest seat back. With his eyes closed and his hands in his pocket, he seemed imposing. Next to him was his childhood friend, Yoo Yeonha, chattering.
The two of them didn’t pay any attention to me.

Thank. God.

I sat down on the edge seat of the middle row.
Like a proper extra, I looked straight ahead in a daze. There was no chalkboard, but a projection screen for holograms to be shown.
Looking at it, I couldn’t help but sigh. After going through high school and even mandatory military service, I couldn’t believe I had to go back to school. There couldn’t be a worse calamity.

“… Huuaam.”

Cube’s semester began on February. The outside was cold and the inside being warm naturally made me sleepy.
Currently, it was 8 A.M. Class began at 8:30.
In truth, I didn’t expect to arrive this early. Going from Seoul to Cube was quick using the ‘Portal,’ but I expected to get lost once I got here. However, there was something called the Cube Bus, a bus that ran every 10 minutes around Cube that didn’t exist in my original setting.
Thinking about it now, it was a mistake on my part to have the main character walk around the huge campus all the time. Since the novel became a real world, it seemed it was fixing plot holes on its own.

… Anyways, let’s sleep a little. I don’t want to think anymore.
Closing my eyes, I dropped my head on the desk.

—Now!

A thunderous shout woke me up.
When I opened my eyes, the instructor was behind the podium.

“Today’s the first day, so there won’t be any special training, but I hope you all did your morning training. Training is never wrong, especially in the morning when mana density is high.”

Morning training?
…Oh, right. There was something like that. A training ground that opened up from 5 A.M. to 8 A.M. I had hurriedly stuffed it into the story to give the leading characters an opportunity to meet.

“Now, let’s start with self-introductions. I’m Kim Soohyuk, the instructor in charge of you all for the year.”

That name, I could vaguely recall it.

“My ranking point is 3850. World rank 9737. By the Association’s classification, I would be
high-intermediate rank grade 5.”

The students’ eyes lit up. It was understandable. There were around two million Heroes in the world. Rank 9737 meant he was very skilled.

“I think that’s enough for my introduction.”

Kim Soohyuk seemed to have liked the students’ reactions as the corners of his mouth curled up to a grin.

“The first day will feel special. You might not have slept due to excitement and worry, or maybe you’re feeling great about being able to improve yourselves. Heh, maybe you’re happy to see your crushes again.”

The cadets broke out into a small laughter. But the instructor froze his expression sternly.

“But Cube isn’t the same as it was before. I promise you, there will be no time for relationships. In Cube, you will experience several real combat situations. Look forward to experiencing how fearful the real world is.”

His roguish smile sent a chill down my back.
Combat training, I had to take part in that too.

“Next, Cube is objective. The only indicator of your success will be your grade. Guilds will only look at your grade. Thus, we will grade you accurately and strictly. If you underperform, you will be held back. Statistically, less than half of Cube’s cadets graduate without repeating a semester. Even then, you can only be held back up to two years. Any more than that, you will be expelled. If you can’t become a Hero, you will become an agent or a mercenary. I take it that that’s not what you want.”

After giving the students a scare, the instructor paused and scanned the students’ faces.

“I can already see a few faces I’m familiar with.”

It was the same for me.
Kim Suho, Shin Jonghak, Yoo Yeonha, Chae Nayun, Rachel, Yi Yeonghan.
These six were the important characters I could see at a first glance. Shin Jonghak sat with Yoo Yeonha. Since Kim Suho and Chae Nayun saw each other as rivals, they were distanced. Princess Rachel sat alone, and Yi Yeonghan sat behind Kim Suho.

“I repeat. At Cube, you will need to confirm the things you’ve learned until now and hone your skills to be used in battle. There will be no kind training here. Remember that.”

With that, Kim Soohyuk announced.

“Now get ready. What’s scheduled for today won’t take long. The first task is ‘main weapon selection.’”

*

“Any weapon you can think of should be here.”

A main weapon was exactly what it sounded like. High ranking Heroes called their weapons ‘treasured weapons,’ while weapons above [Unique] grade were given the title ‘armament.’

But I didn’t know what my main weapon was. I knew nothing about Chundong’s past.

“Stand in front of the weapon you want. We’ll supply you with the training weapons. But don’t look down on them just because they’re training weapon. Their market price is 5 million won.”

There were all sorts of weapons, more so than I could have ever imagined.
Sword, spear, saber, dagger, rapier, halberd, greatsword, zweihander, bow, gun, whip, gauntlet, etc… The 100 students of Veritas class stood in front of the weapon they wanted.

“Choose carefully. Once you pick your main weapon, you won’t be able to change it for at least 6 months.”

Sword and spear were obviously the most popular choice. Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak stood in front of a sword and a spear respectively. 70 out of 100 chose the sword, spear, or saber, the so-called Holy Trinity of weapons. On the other hand, Yoo Yeonha chose the whip, Chae Nayun chose the bow, and Rachel chose the rapier.
However, I simply stood in a daze.

“Kim Chundong, why are you standing still?” Kim Soohyuk asked.

I stared blankly at the one weapon no one gave a glance.
The weapon of choice in the modern world, one that didn’t require an instruction manual and one that anyone could use with a click. But in this world, this weapon was the weakest lump of metal, a weapon avoided by every Hero. Most likely, it was only here for the sake of having all kinds of weapons be here.

But this was the only choice I had.
I couldn’t use any close ranged weapons. Even if Chundong was talented in one, I didn’t want to participate in close ranged combat where blood splattered everywhere.

“Kim Chundong.”

The instructor’s voice fell low, and other students’ gazes fell on me. Shin Jonghak and Kim Suho were among them.
I didn’t like being at the center of attention.
I quickly walked up and grabbed the weapon.
I could feel the weight of the metal in my hand as the smell of rust tickled my nose.
More eyes fell on me.

The weapon in my hand was a handgun.

1. Yeouido is a large island in Seoul, 8.4 square kilometers in size and home to 31,000 people.

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