"Haha, you’re a candidate! Ah, it’s a total misunderstanding on my part!" The middle aged man fidgeted with his hands, feeling very awkward.
"What did you misunderstand about?" Ye Chong asked.
"Haha." The middle aged man grew more embarrassed. He was going to cover himself with a laugh, but seeing as Ye Chong continued staring unblinkingly at him, he explained awkwardly, "I … I thought you were from the Sanctuary!"
"From the Sanctuary?" Ye Chong found that odd.
"Yes. Almost all the ones as young as you around here are from the Sanctuary. In all these years, this is the first time I’ve seen a candidate as young as you!" The middle aged man showed great curiosity towards Ye Chong.
"Why are young people usually from the Sanctuary?" Ye Chong could not see the relationship between being young and being from the Sanctuary.
"All the detainees here are those who passed the Level Three Trial, but did not pass the Level Five Trial. Usually, candidates at this level are aged 35 and above, rarely are they in their twenties. The young people here are usually elites trained by the Sanctuary. That’s why I misjudged you earlier!" The middle aged man saw Ye Chong’s perplexity and explained patiently.
"Do you not like the Sanctuary’s people?" Ye Chong asked directly. While he did not tell the whole story, he could clearly feel the middle aged man’s hostility.
"Hmph, the Sanctuary’s people? Who among the detainees here would like them?" The middle aged man’s expression turned into anger.
This was obviously not a good conversation topic. Ye Chong moved on tactfully, "Then how’s you know that I’m an applicant?"
"Hah, that’s really easy, it’s just that I didn’t notice earlier, hehe, or I would’ve known. Your travel wristband, that’s something only we detainees will have on. I’ve never seen the identification pass for the Sanctuary’s people, but I know that they don’t wear this thing." The middle aged man laughed, pleased with himself.
"If you don’t even know what a Nine Gates point is, then you must be a first time applicant. Hehe, this d*mned place, to those who are not applicants of the Sanctuary’s people, they wouldn’t be able to get in!" The middle aged man continued on.
"Oh!" Ye Chong realized now.
After studying him for a few moments, the middle aged man said, "Young man, you look like a decent person, so don’t walk around idly. You’ll most likely end up in Ancient Terminus, so best if you go back and prepare for the Trials. If you manage to pass the Level Three Trial, you’ll even get to stay here."
"Ancient Terminus? Where’s that?" Ye Chong asked.
"Heavens! Your guide is too irresponsible, how could you not know that? Since when did the Sanctuary’s people become so careless?" The middle aged man wore an expression of disbelief.
"I just arrived today, right off the ship." Ye Chong explained.
"No wonder, you’re an eager fellow! Hehe, then let me tell you all about it. Of the five Trials, you must start from Level One, and if you can’t even pass that, you’ll be punished by the Sanctuary. Hmm, as for what that punishment is, I have no idea. If you have passed Level One, but didn’t pass Level Three, you’ll be sent off to Ancient Terminus. If you passed Level Three but not Level Five, you’ll be detained in Nine Gates. Hehe, if you really passed Level Five, you’ll be allowed to leave the Orbits, and they’ll allocate a starship to send you off. Understand now, young man?" The middle aged man explained in detail to Ye Chong.
"I see." Ye Chong began to understand the situation, and asked further, "So what is this Nine Gates point?"
"Nine Gate points are points for your service in Nine Gates, and the local currency." The middle aged man said, "For example, that Eden-IV you’re looking at is worth five Nine Gate points."
"Hmm." Ye Chong nodded in understanding, the truth not far from what he had guessed.
Just then, the travel wristband on Ye Chong’s left wrist made a sharp buzzing sound. Noticing Ye Chong’s confused expression, the middle aged man immediately spoke up to Ye Chong, "That’s someone calling you! Sigh, how could you come out here without knowing even that? You’re a real piece of work! See, that leaf is the connection button!" The middle aged man pointed towards an etched vine leaf beside the holographic projection aperture.
Ye Chong quickly pressed the leaf as instructed by the middle aged man. Beep, a soft sound was heard. An image of Wei Xi immediately appeared above the holographic projection aperture, with Wei Xi’s attractive profile shrunken and suspended in the air above the holographic projection aperture as her mellow voice came through, "Mr Ye, please return, there are some changes to the Trials. Please return immediately to the Sanctuary’s trial center." Wei Xi was cordial, but allowed no disobedience.
"Er, where’s the Sanctuary’s trial center?" Ye Chong asked.
Wei Xi recalled then that Ye Chong did not know where the trial center was, and panicked as she fumbled around, bowing a little as she searched using the photon processor before her, her confidence earlier gone without a trace. The middle aged man saw Wei Xi’s clumsiness from the side, and sympathized with the misfortune of the delicate young lady to be assigned with such a candidate.
After some long moments, Wei Xi finally lifted her head and recovered her smile as she spoke, "Mm, about that, Mr Ye, here is the exact location of the Sanctuary’s trial center!" Wei Xi sent a holographic map marked with the trial center’s location.
"Okay!" Ye Chong nodded, and began to look through the holographic map.
The middle aged man could not stand it any longer, and pulled Ye Chong to the door. As the man closed in on Ye Chong, Ye Chong’s misgivings for having anyone near him almost made him react reflexively to avoid the man. However, he remembered that Wei Xi was watching, and did not wish to show his true abilities. Besides, the middle aged man was probably not an enemy. With that, Ye Chong suppressed his reflexive reaction and allowed the middle aged man to pull him.
The man’s reaction was also a surprise to Wei Xi, in her holographic presence.
As the middle aged man reached the door with Ye Chong, he pointed towards the huge building opposite the street and said to Ye Chong, "I’m truly speechless with the both of you. Look, that’s the trial center! Do you really need a map for somewhere so near?"
Wei Xi blushed deeply in the holographic image, but Ye Chong only acknowledged flatly. The middle aged man had enough of Ye Chong, and waved him off, "Now get going!"
Ye Chong replied, "Okay," and left immediately, not realizing that the holographic image with Wei Xi’s awkward expression was still present, and swinging along with Ye Chong’s left hand.
To prevent another humiliating episode, Wei Xi decided to meet Ye Chong at the entrance of the building.
Ye Chong’s room, according to Wei Xi, would be for his perusal during the trials.
Wei Xi spoke with a serious expression, "Mr Ye, due to a special case this time, the masters who were supposed to manage the trials had other tasks to see to, and so we’ve decided to fall back on the Fifth Interim Protocol."
"Okay." Ye Chong was seemingly unaffected, with an almost expressionless face. Seeing that Ye Chong did not react with surprise at the news, Wei Xi approved of his mental fortitude, even though his lifelessness also made her furious at the same time.
Wei Xi was an elite non-combatant of the Sanctuary, and quickly noticed her emotional instability. She quietly chastised herself and adopted a more serious expression.
"The Fifth Interim Protocol permits a free lifestyle. For every applicant, the Sanctuary will allocate a proportionate initial capital based on his or her contribution to the Sanctuary in the past. The fund is in Nine Gates points, the local currency, and will reflect your contributions to the Sanctuary. The goal of this Trial is for every applicant to accumulate 1000 points in three months. This means that the final Nine Gates points in your personal account must be 1000 points more than your initial capital.
"Please note that any fraudulent trading in your effort to gain more Nine Gates points is prohibited. Your every transaction is monitored by the Sanctuary. If anyone is found to be engaged in fraudulent trading to gain more Nine Gates points, your candidacy will be revoked, and you will be severely punished!
"Your final Trial result will depend on both the final number of Nine Gates points you earn and the value of the products you created in this duration.
"There are many ways to earn Nine Gates points. One of the most common is to sell products you made to the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary will award you with Nine Gates points based on the value of your products. Another way is to sell your products in the market in exchange for the corresponding value of Nine Gates points. These are the main ways for non-combatants to earn Nine Gates points.
"However, as a reminder, the quality and creativity of the products you create will make a huge difference on its value! Hence, if possible, focus your efforts on increasing the quality of your products.
"On the other hand, any special formulae and creative ideas or products of yours can be proposed to the Sanctuary, and the Sanctuary will award you with the appropriate number of Nine Gates points. For this option, the Sanctuary’s awards are usually very high. If you have any new and unique theories, you can submit them to the Sanctuary. After review and acceptance by our Masters, the amount of Nine Gates points you earn may be high enough to allow you to pass this Trial immediately.
"The difficulty of this Trial is Level Three. If you can, with your own strength, earn 1000 Nine Gates points here in three months, meaning you are able to survive in Nine Gates city. The detainees in Nine Gates are all candidates who passed Level Three Trials. Low quality products have no place in this city. If you wish to accomplish your task, you will have to produce high quality products. This is why we grade this Trial as Level Three.
"If you pass this Trial, you can move on the next one. If you do not pass, we’ll study your performance in these three months and send you to Ancient Terminus or give a certain level of punishment.
"Your room’s photon processor is directly linked to the market. From there, you can choose your materials. If you can’t find them there, you can inform the Sanctuary, and the Sanctuary will do their best to fulfill your request, but the costs will be very high.
"Alright. Since you had provided three interesting mechs to the Sanctuary before, the Sanctuary’s award for your contribution translates to an initial capital of …
Wei Xi looked down at her files, but when she saw the figure, her bright sparkling eyes immediately turned to a disbelieving stare.
"400 points!" Wei Xi pronounced those few words with great difficulty.
For such a huge amount of initial capital to be allocated for such a young man, it was nearly impossible! What sort of mysterious occupation was skeleton carving? How was this expressionless guy special? What sort of mechs did he provide that could amount to a total of 400 points?
Numerous questions came to Wei Xi's mind!