Leo felt nostalgic walking through the streets. He lived in the poor part of Freedom City. Remembering how different he lived in his past life he remembered his vow to never take what he has for granted.
The streets were narrow with tall buildings everywhere. With the population increasing at an ever-increasing pace, living space became more and more of a problem. Buildings started expanding both upwards and downwards in order to facilitate more people.
Even though the war halved the population, housing still remains a problem more than 10 years after the war ended. This situation is one of the contributing factors to Ekalius Online’s future success. The populace would be more inclined to accept a smaller living space when they could spend their time in an open fantasy world. With a close to 100% immersion rate, Ekalius would become like a second home to Earth’s populace.
After walking for 20 minutes Leo arrived in front of the Crimson Dragon Dojo. The dojo was created by former General Jack Whiterman. He decided that his retirement from the military came too soon. Still full of life, he decided on starting this very training facility.
Outside the dojo were a scarce dozen or so people. With most people in the area struggling to even pay their rent and put food on the table, this outcome was all but guaranteed.
At the time even Leo wondered why someone would put up a dojo in this part of the city. Only after people started realizing the benefits of the game and companies starting investing like crazy into it did he understand.
With the game’s combat system being so realistic, a strong foundation and knowledge in fighting was essential for anyone wishing to become an expert player.
At the moment players can run around from morning till night without even breaking a sweat. Unfortunately those days are limited and will be gone forever after the first evolution.
Leo walked up to the entrance.
“Hey! This ain’t no place for a scrawny kid.”
Leo looked at the 30-year old looking man. Based on his posture and muscles he could easily tell that this man was well versed in martial arts.
Although he did not like being looked down upon, considering what the man said was true he really could not rebuke him.
To others, he simply looked like an underweight 18-year old kid. Even during his time studying for his degree countless people mistook him for a lost child.
Leo had for as long as he could remember always been a genius when it came to studying.
Anything he read would almost instantly ingrain itself in his brain. Complicated theorems naturally made sense to him. If it could be explained with logic he would learn it almost immediately.
This led to him skipping several grades and finishing his degree at the young age of 18. This was a record low age for his specific field of study, which had an average graduation age of 40. The degree, although labeled as a master’s degree on paper, was more like several PhD degrees put together into one complicated mess.
Although he could be described as one of the smartest persons alive, he never once though he deserved such a title. In his opinion he only received such a prestigious degree through luck. He felt that he never put in the work and everything was just given to him from birth.
This is the main reason he originally wanted to take a degree in literature. In sharp contrast to his logical thinking ability his literary understanding was far weaker. He had always struggled with words and emotions.
He would constantly spend all his money on books trying to understand the author’s way of thinking. Constantly spiraling down a road of literary texts and philosophy.
Although he learned a lot and change drastically from his former almost robotic self, he still had a long way to go. Even now he sometimes questions whether his emotions are real or merely him reproducing what he thinks they should be like.
He was lost in thought while the man started becoming agitated.
“Did you not hear me kid? Scram!”
His words brought Leo back to reality, and he simply gave an innocent looking smile while answering.
“I appreciated your concern, but I can assure you I have proper reason to be here.”
The man looked at him like he had just told him a sheep was making its way to fight a lion.
“Hahaha, is that so? Well don’t blame me if you end up hurt.” The man laughed out loudly, his words reaching the ears of everyone around.
Leo could hear countless voices mocking him for looking down at the tournament. They were all amateurs yet any one of them could send him flying with a single jab.
Some participants could even be considered intermediate martial artists, but lacked the formal match records to promote to intermediate status.
Leo could only smile and wait his turn for registering.
Time flew by and the tournament started. In the tournament hall were fifty or so people. There were twenty participants and the rest were either instructors or investors.
The tournament served as a way to display the dojo’s potential. The level of fighters they could pull in right after opening would be the standard for how much investment they would receive.
A newly established dojo is bound by certain rules. The first being that they cannot accept members above amateur level.
To advance to an intermediate dojo they need to win a specific amount of matches, based on the total amount of dojos participating each year. This rule exists to ensure the overall quality of any given dojo.
In his past life Leo was an advanced level martial artist. He could have gotten higher, but besides using the dojo for training he really did not care about tournaments. After failing to show up for several matches he lost the right to advance in rank.
Him participating in this tournament could be considered breaking the rules. Luckily there’s not a single law prohibiting reincarnated people from participating in lower ranked tournaments. At least he assumes there’s not.
Match number 3 has now concluded. Winner is Joe Copperfield.
With the match completed he would be up next.
Match number 4 starting. Leo Claude vs Erich Leimester
His opponent is a 22-year-old student. Erich could probably pass the intermediate rank if he completed enough matches. He is only amateur ranked because he broke his leg before the advancement trial. Left with no choice but wait for next year he decided to try to win this tournament.
Erich ran towards Leo the moment the match started. He was aiming for an instant KO in order to save his strength for the next match.
Unfortunately for Erich, Leo is not the scrawny kid he thinks.
Leo calmly positioned himself into a battle stance, ready to intercept the attack.
The several core instructors' expressions immediately turned serious the second he finished positioning himself. They were all war veterans with countless battles under their belt. This battle stance was not something taught in normal martial arts classes. This stance was purely for killing an opponent as fast and efficiently as possible.
To the other participants, this stance looked flawed with too many openings. They could not possibly comprehend the massive difference between themselves and Leo. Every so called opening was actually a trap.
Seeing his opponent's amateurish stance, Erich made a smug smile. At the start of the match he was slightly cautious about Leo. He thought there might be a chance this kid in front of him was not as simple as he looked. Now however he held no caution whats-however. This kid was in way over his head.
Erich rotated his body slightly and sent his fist forward with tremendous speed. It looked like he wanted to send Leo to the hospital for months. The fist was aimed directly at his face, not even trying to hide his intent.
To the spectators this attack looked incredible fast and no one doubted the outcome.
To Leo on the other hand, this punch was practically coming at him in slow motion. Every movement was telegraphed as if Erich was purposefully trying his best to get countered.
Leo moved to the side and rotated his body right before the punch could land. His every move without any unnecessary steps, flowing like water. He raised his leg and aimed at Erich’s kidney. Right before he could land the hit he suddenly changed the trajectory slightly, narrowly avoiding hitting the kidney.
Leo barely managed to hold himself back. Even with his scrawny body, using his techniques and hitting the kidney of an amateur martial artists might very well end up killing his opponent. Although changed at the last moment the kick still connected and sent Erich flying to the side.
Using his opponent’s punch to deliver a counter kick significantly increased the kick’s power.
Erich fell to the ground his entire body convulsing as he gasped for air. He was immediately sent to the hospital with a few broken ribs.
After the match the other participants conceded and Leo won by default. No one looked at Leo the same after seeing how Erich ended up.
The instructors looked at each other and then at Leo like he was a rare beast for their exotic zoo. The others might have only seen the end result of the fight, but they knew exactly how close Erich was from death.
Leo walked out of the fighting ring and noticed the head instructor coming towards him. The instructor’s every movement was solid, showing no openings at all.
Leo could only sigh. He might have easily beaten an amateur fighter in a single move, but compared to a true expert like the instructor, he would be lucky if he could even see the attack before blacking out.
“Congratulations on winning the tournament!” The head instructor said while smiling warmly.
The instructor guided him towards an empty conference room and presented a contract.
The contract was fairly standard. He would receive free access to the entire facility, in return he would be unable to join or represent another dojo for three years. If he decided to end the contract after three years, he would lose his benefits.
After reading through it carefully, Leo looked at the instructor, a slight confusion showing on his face.
The instructor immediately noticed this and said with a warm smile on his face.
“Curious why the contract does not mention obligatory matches?”
Leo softly nodded.
“We both know that you are no amateur level fighter. Based on technique I would estimate somewhere between advanced and master ranked. Although your body is not strong enough, such a simple problem can easily be fixed.”
“What you displayed was no ordinary martial arts. I can still not entirely explain what you are. Had it not been for your young age and scrawny body I would easily mistake you for a trained assassin.”
Leo looked at him, slightly surprised. Although he was in fact not an assassin, playing Garius Online for 15 years certainly had him face deadly battles on a nearly daily rate. His standard way of fighting is to kill as fast as possible.
In his past life he was no-where near the top of the player-base. To the people of the now though, he would seem like an unreachable existence.
After signing the contract, Leo bid the instructor farewell and exited the dojo.
A smile could be seen on Leo’s face. For the past three months he had been unable to truly train his body. His apartment could only facilitate simple exercises, and he could hardly afford enough nutrients to facilitate muscle growth.
With his new status in the Crimson Dragon Dojo, he would at least be provided with nutrients while training. This would significantly reduce the burden on his budget.
Thinking about his current situation, he could not avoid seeing the irony.
With his genius like analytical abilities and his past knowledge he could easily play the stock market and practically become a billionaire overnight.
Unfortunately that’s not something he could do. The stock market banned all AI driven program due to an incident several decades ago. The incident was well covered up and there’s still a lot of confusion around it. The publicly released statement was that an AI driven program had caused damages of trillions of units.
The massive loss led corporations to push for a full out ban of all AI in the stock market. This rule also extended to any human deemed to posses mathematical abilities over a certain thresh-hold. There were only five or six individuals capable of exceeding the thresh-hold when the law was originally written.
The advancement in technology led to an increase in gifted geniuses and the number of individuals exceeding the thresh-hold is currently 864. Leo only learned about this law when he took the entrance exam for his field of study. One should not underestimate the lengths corporations would go through to protect their own interest.
The only way to trade on the stock market is to use a computer. Computers had for the past hundred years evolved from a physical box with hardware into a small chip, directly attached to your head. The chip can read information directly from your thoughts, making it possible to display a holographic window with everything an old computer would offer.
Leo would have to get another computer chip if he wanted to access the stock market without immediately alerting the government. The chip would also need to be unregistered and specially reconstructed to be untraceable.
Leo was registered as a potential threat to society due to his abnormal abilities. This led to him being closely monitored by the government to ensure public safety. Normally that would not be a problem. Privacy is already a thing of the past for most people and even if he complained no one would care.
Even if he could somehow get his hand on an unregistered computer and access the stock market without being detected, he still would not make much from it. He would have to invest slowly to avoid drawing attention. He would not even be able to freely use the money as any large purchase would easily give him away.
The risk simply outweighed the reward. He could easily make money by working for a fortune 500 company and not risk anything.
Leo was not in a rush to make money. Blinded by greed in his past life, he decided that living a struggling life for a while would not be so bad.
When the game opens the currency exchange platform, he could earn himself the money then. Unlike the real world, the game had no laws against people like him. The game is extremely fair in this regard. His brain is considered a natural talent and the main system would not restrict this.
Even though he would not be as restricted in the game, he knew perfectly well how volatile the auction house market was. Without the support of a giant like Elecur, he would need to use his own abilities to succeed.
Thinking about it he realized how easy he truly had it before. With near infinite amounts of capital and players of all classes and abilities, making money from the auction house was a walk in the park.
Leo thought more about it while walking home. He was determined to make a name for himself this time around and to do that required money.
As he walked through the apartment door, heading for his game capsule he finally decided. He would constrict himself to making money in the game. Although taking up a temporary job would solve his problem quickly, Leo was unwilling to work for another company right now.
He could not fully understand why he was doing this to himself. Logically his actions made no sense, yet he felt like they were the right decision.