Five minutes before the early morning of September 30th, 2143. A very special moment will occur in five minutes.
Shi Hao, an ordinary freshman of University C in Province H, was currently lining up in a game equipment store outside the school.
At the moment, a roommate of Shi Hao named Feng Tianhao was tagging along with him. Feng Tianhao’s height was standard, the versatile 185 centimeters. His body build was also pretty good, the muscle lines were visible. Everyone could tell from a glance that it was the result of professional training. In contrast, Shi Hao was shorter in height, about 170 centimeters. Although he was not fat, he was obviously not as well-built as Feng Tianhao.
Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao immediately hit it off at their first meeting. They became like brothers just by a month of getting along together.
“Little Hao, do you think we could still grab the game helmet when it’s our turn?” A hint of anxiousness could be seen in Shi Hao’s handsome face. If not for the crowd of girls who were also focusing on fighting over the game helmet, they would have probably been charmed by Shi Hao.
The game helmet was an essential equipment to enter the online game called «Kingdom». The first batch of the product will go on sale only on September 30th. Only those who were lucky enough to get the first batch would have the honor to be the first to enter the online game «Kingdom».
«Kingdom» was the first online game to have a major breakthrough in the gaming industry. It was a game of establishing and rewriting history, building territories, and fighting with each other in wars. The flow of time between the game and reality was 10:1, meaning that ten days in the game was equal to one day in real time. Within the game, there would be some historical figures who will appear as NPC. All of the NPCs had a very high humanoid intelligence.
Moreover, the humanoid intelligence of the NPCs in «Kingdom» was reaching a record high. Until now, apart from the information that the leaders of several large countries⸺including Country Z⸺being involved within the game, no one knew its true origin. However, this didn’t affect the popularity of the game, because the leaders of the various countries have made it clear that they’ll promote the game at all costs so that everyone could participate in it.
To this end, Country Z with its abundant financial resources specially released the policy to sell the bronze-grade of the first batch of the game helmets by promoting them at a low price. Besides, the government had guaranteed to put the players who could achieve outstanding performance inside the game in an important position within the government.
“No worries, our position is pretty good. We’re only a bit away from the door. Wait a minute, I’ll snatch some lines. You should find somewhere empty to squeeze into.” said Feng Tianhao.
Eventually, their turn came.
“Everyone is rushing through!” Be they male or female, old or young, all of them were swarming around.
“What the f***!” Feng Tianhao’s muscles bulged up, his veins visible. But him doing so didn’t actually help them much with the situation.
“S***!” Shi Hao who stood behind Feng Tianhao’s protective back was suddenly being pushed aside without reason and lost his precious position.
Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao finally entered the game equipment store after they struggled for a long time, only to find that it was already completely empty.
Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao returned while feeling disheartened. To make things worse, they ran into a boy behaving with unbearable insolence at the school gate.
The boy’s name was Wu Batian. Wu Batian’s family was very rich. His father was the boss of a local public company. His mother was a senior financial consultant of a finance company. Hence, Wu Batian had lived in an excellent environment since he was young. He was even admitted to a famous university in Province H. Now, Wu Baitian was Shi Hao’s schoolmate and rival.
Wu Batian liked Shi Hao’s childhood sweetheart. The goddess’ name was Su Xiao.
Su Xiao came from a wealthy family, at least not much different from Wu Batian’s family circumstances. A few days before the school opening, Su Xiao helped Shi Hao to move his luggage to University C. They happened to run into Wu Batian on their way. Wu Batian fell in love at first sight with Su Xiao. Unfortunately, Su Xiao gave him the cold shoulder. After that, the two had to deal with a lot of questions from Wu Batian. Shi Hao and Su Xiao can’t be considered dating, after all. Moreover, Su Xiao’s family strongly disapproved of Shi Hao’s ordinary circumstances. Su Xiao’s brother, Su Wu, one to many times had harshly criticized Shi Hao. He thought of Shi Hao as a hideous toad lusting after a swan’s flesh.
“Oh! You two sure look a lot like stray dogs. Could it be that you can’t get even a single game helmet?” Wu Batian winked and casted a glance at them, hands holding a shining game helmet. Some of his ‘little brothers’ followed after him from behind. He made all the efforts to ridicule Shi Hao, while also ridiculing Feng Tianhao in passing.
“Don’t be so full of yourself. When the next batch of the game helmets arrives, we’ll catch up.” Shi Hao said disdainfully. He didn’t feel like seeing his look of a villain holding sway. What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.
“Haha! You’re such an idiot. How did you even get admitted into University C with that IQ of yours? I don’t get why Su Xiao liked a fool like you.” Wu Batian burst with laughter, then said, “Could a poor wretch like you even afford the price of the game helmet? If it were not for the government subsidizing most of the cost to promote the helmet, would you even have the qualifications to line up in the store?”
What Wu Batian said was right. The price of the cheapest game helmet was tens of millions. The most expensive one was even much more unimaginable. The range of the prices was at least within the amount of ‘100 million’. Such high-grade helmets have a price but no sales, because after the helmet was brought into the game, players could enjoy the privileges of high-level VIP. The main advantage was that they could get more starting goodies when they were distributed.
According to the promotion content of «Kingdom», an ordinary person bringing a bronze game helmet to the game would find out that they’ll only have the initial funding of 1000 copper coins. On the other hand, the ones with the highest Diamond VIP level would be surprised to find out that other than the initial funding of 1000 copper coins, they’ll also get three Diamond Grade lottery tickets.
If they were on a roll, they could draw a lot of incredible treasures from the lottery. If they draw an uncommon weapon by chance, they’ll become unstoppable. Even if luck wasn’t on their side, they could at least draw some copper coins, which was certainly enough to make them more powerful than ordinary people.
Furthermore, this kind of ‘special treatment’ was very important in the initial stage. Using the advantages, the player would be one step ahead of everyone else, taking the lead in every step.
It was said that the players who could bring a high-level helmet into the game were remarkable ones. At least for someone with such an overweening attitude like Wu Batian only got a not-so-high-grade helmet. But Wu Batian regarded this helmet as a treasure like his own life.
“Idiot. Just keep your eyes on how Su Xiao and I are going to be touchy in the game! Oh, I certainly won’t be forceful. You won’t be able to see that kind of thing though, haha!” Wu Batian put on the golden game helmet and left with the group of ‘little brothers’.
Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao returned to their dormitory. When looked carefully, they noticed that University C’s condition was actually pretty good. The dormitory was ideally a two-person room. Shi Hao slept on the lower bunk, and Feng Tianhao slept on the upper bunk.
“It’s alright, Little Hao, don’t mind him.” Feng Tianhao consoled him and said, “When the second batch of the game helmet is out, I’ll buy two of them. Don’t worry, I still have enough money!”
Feng Tianhao wasn’t bragging, his family’s condition was indeed very good. His parents were senior managers of two local companies, it wasn’t difficult for them to earn the annual household income of millions. Feng Tianhao had originally prepared the fund of a million Yuan to buy a silver game helmet. With that silver helmet, he might be able to develop and establish his own territory rapidly in the game.
However, he had no choice but to give up on his plan for Shi Hao’s sake. Feng Tianhao intended to use the funds to buy two bronze helmets instead. He won’t get the advantage of getting lottery tickets for the initial stage, but the lottery was nothing compared to his brother. Only by having a brother could one have the whole world. The world where the king stood was also where his brother stood.
“But…” Shi Hao felt deeply moved. He wanted to turn down Feng Tianhao’s kindness, but was unable to say it out loud. He can’t turn him down at all, because Shi Hao not being able to enter the game was equal to giving up his beloved Su Xiao to someone else.
A few days ago, Su Wu⸺Su Xiao’s brother⸺met Shi Hao in secret. Su Wu had clearly told Shi Hao that he wasn’t qualified to be the son-in-law of Su Family at all and asked him to leave Su Xiao. Nevertheless, Su Wu loved his sister dearly, so considering Su Xiao’s devotion towards Shi Hao, he implied a way out for Shi Hao.
At that time, Su Wu said, “Try playing the online game «Kingdom». If you could join a powerful force in the game and acquire the position of a core member, I’ll give you and Little Xiao a chance.”
His words had been disturbing Shi Hao’s mind for a long time, unable to fade away. Shi Hao liked Su Xiao a lot. She wasn’t just his ‘girlfriend’ he had known since childhood, but also a ‘goddess’ every boy longed for. Shi Hao had long since given Su Xiao the role of his wife. Su Xiao herself had always regarded Shi Hao as her husband, too. What was left for them to overcome was Su Wu’s words.
“Su Xiao, I’ll definitely succeed, so wait for me!” said Shi Hao resolutely.
“That’s right! Let’s go to the store to keep an eye on the helmet again tomorrow. Someone might scalp the helmets by then. After all, this batch of bronze game helmets were all sold at a low price. A lot of ‘butter’ would probably resell things by scalping. Rather than waiting idly for the next batch, it’d be better for us to immediately buy one tomorrow! Buying the helmet earlier might close the gap between us and those who got it first.” said Feng Tianhao suddenly.
The next morning, Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao went to the doorway of the game equipment store again. A great number of veteran ‘butters’ were playing a waiting game.
“Hey, young lads! Take a look at my bronze game helmet. I’ll sell it to you as soon as I get it. It’s a fixed price, only 400 thousand Yuan for an item.” said a ‘butter’ uncle.
Feng Tianhao looked at the bronze game helmet carefully and noticed that there wasn’t anything unusual about it. He responded, “400 thousand is too expensive. I want 400 thousand for two helmets.”
“Hey, why don’t you two just rob?” The ‘butter’ uncle gave them a disdainful look. “400 thousand for two bronze helmets, right? «Kingdom» will officially open the server at 9 PM. That’s just how the market price of the bronze helmet right now. If you don’t have money to play the game, don’t come out just to fool around. Go away, don’t interfere with my business!”
Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao tried to stroll around nearby, but the prices being offered to them were mostly the same.
“How about we just use 800 thousand Yuan to buy two helmets? We won’t use the money for anything else, anyway. As long as we could enter the game earlier, spending this amount of money won’t make us lose anything.” said Feng Tianhao, his voice somewhat irritated.
Feng Tianhao had a reason to get angry. The price of a bronze game helmet was only 10000 Yuan after the compensation. Even without compensation, a new bronze helmet only costs around 150 thousand Yuan at full price. 300 thousand Yuan should be enough to buy two helmets at full price, but it became 800 thousand Yuan now.
Above all, just a bit more than a million was already enough to grab a silver game helmet! For those who will enter the game, a silver helmet was much more valuable than a normal bronze helmet.
“No! We won’t let that bastard off.” Shi Hao was even angrier than Feng Tianhao.
Looking at how these ‘butters’ trying to pit Feng Tianhao who had paid the helmet for him, the Shi Hao who had never accepted defeat can’t just leave the matter at that.
Shi Hao stated, “Let’s go to another place. No one is offering a reasonable price here, but there must be some in another further place!”
Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao continued their tough trip. They drove a small luxury car of Feng Tianhao’s father and went traveling all over the places around the university town, be they large or small.
Eventually, Shi Hao and Feng Tianhao ran into an uncle who gathered junks.
“Uncle, are you selling these helmets?” Feng Tianhao took a look at the uncle from head to toe. He didn’t have anything valuable with him except two dirty helmets in his hands. Standing from this distance, Feng Tianhao can’t quite see the color of the helmets nor its grade clearly.
“Yes! As long as you paid enough money, I’ll sell them to you.” The junk-gatherer uncle replied with a smile. For him who didn’t really know the use of these two helmets, they were obviously useless. As long as he could get some money for him to eat, drink, and sleep well, it was better than nothing.
“Okay, how about 50 thousand Yuan? Give me both of the helmets and 50 thousand Yuan will be yours.” Feng Tianhao took out a wad of bills, then counted it. It was exactly 50 thousand Yuan, just the right amount.
“No. I picked these from a garbage can in a laboratory. The security of that laboratory is very tight. It’s thanks to me being crafty that I could get them, other people won’t be able to do so. Therefore, the price had to be 100 thousand Yuan. Give me 100 thousand and these helmets will be yours.”
“Alright!” Feng Tianhao took out a pile of money. He didn’t count the amount again and immediately handed 50 thousand Yuan over to the uncle, then took the two helmets into his hands in passing. Feng Tianhao rubbed the anti-counterfeit label on the helmets lightly as he noticed that the label wasn’t fake.
Feng Tianhao grinned, then dragged Shi Hao back to the dormitory with him.
However, the junk-gatherer uncle also had a broad grin on his face by this time. Actually, he stole one of the helmets. Last night, he came across a crowd of dead drunk fellows. He smoothly raked a cyan helmet and even overheard them saying that it was worth 10 thousand Yuan. The other helmet was indeed gathered from a research laboratory. It was a peculiar one, perhaps it was just junk. He originally thought that he’d be able to sell these helmets at approximately 20 thousand Yuan at most. Little did he know that a foolish spender would come and gave him 10 thousand Yuan at once. Hence, the junk-gatherer uncle showed a beaming smile all over his face.