Advertisement
Remove
Settings

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

When Yu Xian regained consciousness, he found out that he was wearing loosely fitted green armor. Underneath that was even stranger clothing. He subconsciously knew that his 'kit' was the standard wargear. It included a bayonet and a lasgun.

He was still in his body. His new body. Underneath the wargear, there was the body of that 15-year-old boy.

After the initial shock wore off, he realized he didn't have a cultivation base! He was just a mortal. Then it hit him, this was an illusion!

Looking around, he saw thousands of soldiers taking cover among the ruins of a… city? Yu Xian had never seen any city, or civilization like this. The word factory came to his mind, but he didn't know what it truly meant.

*Low Hum*

Like every other soldier inside the ruins, Yu Xian looked towards the direction of the sound. He climbed onto a boulder to get a better vantage point. In the distance, he saw a red light touching down to the ground. Between the red light and the ruins were empty dust plains.

Soldiers took their positions and got ready for a fight. In that instant…

""""INCOMIIIN-""""

* CRASHHHH *

* * *

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

When Yu Xian regained consciousness, he found out that he was wearing loosely fitted green armor...

No, he went over this before. He had no idea what happened just then. Some soldiers started yelling and without a warning, his consciousness went black. He realized he had died, somehow, he was just startled by the suddenness of it!

*Low Hum*

He took the same vantage point and decided to watch for the thing that killed him. This was an illusion, he was in no danger. Though it was eerily realistic for a completely otherworldly environment, Yu Xian didn't feel threatened.

""""INCOMIIIN-""""

*Crash*

Yu Xian was thrown away by the blast and hit an iron pole at an odd angle. His entire body started screaming with pain. Just barely opening his eyes became a monumental task. When he finally succeed, he saw his lower half, disconnected from his body.

Though this was an illusion, the dissonance between his mind and body was also carried over, therefore the sight immediately instilled terror in Yu Xian. He lost consciousness as he uncontrollably wailed from pain.

* * *

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian broke into a cold sweat. The taste of sweat and dust, the feeling of the wind, the pain. They were all too real. This wasn't a throwaway illusion. It was meticulously designed. But for what purpose?

*Low Hum*

By now Yu Xian realized the explosion hit random places. At first, he was at the center of the blast, but the second time he just caught up in the shockwave. However, he still couldn't see where the source of the explosion was coming from. Taking cover at a better place was the only option!

Yu Xian decisively started to run backward! Some of the soldiers looked at him with contempt, while others were discreetly checking towards another direction.

""""Incomiin-""""

This time the explosion was far away. ‘Perhaps now I can explore and try to make sense of this place!’ he thought as he ran. A few moments later though, the sound of heavy footsteps suddenly appeared right behind him. It was then, he heard the whispers from the soldiers nearby.

"The commissar…"

The illusion gave Yu Xian basic knowledge about his equipment, everything else was a mystery. He didn't know what the soldiers' whisperings meant. He turned back, only to see an imposing man with strange, almost ceremonial clothing. The man spoke to Yu Xian with disdain.

"On charges of cowardice, you are sentenced to death!"

*BANG*

* * *

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian closed his eyes to clear his head. His hands were shaking nonstop. Though he experienced 'death' in many other illusions before, the current him was occupying a teenager's body. The previous him also died in body, and almost died in soul before arriving at this world!

At first, the illusion's effect was only momentary. He knew it was only an illusion, he knew the pain wasn't real. But, after dying thrice, clinging on to that idea became harder. The survival instinct of a mortal body was stronger than he realized.

A few soldiers saw Yu Xian's condition and shook their heads.

*Low Hum*

Not wanting to experience another death, Yu Xian decided to participate with the illusion this time. The commissar was nowhere to be found, one part of Yu Xian's mind still wanted to find a more ‘secure’ place, but he reigned his emotions. There was a high chance that 'commissar' had some cultivation, or some other technique that allowed him to observe others. The fact that he could move silently when needed was telling!

""Incomiin-""

The explosion was even farther away now. There weren't as many screams as Yu Xian expected. The soldiers were already at the ready and weren't disturbed at all. Only Yu Xian was wasting time observing others.

The ruins started vibrating. Then came the accompanying sound.

*Low Rumble*

Dust started to rise from the plains. Soldiers removed their lasguns' safety in unison and vigilantly stared at the dust cloud. Yu Xian tried to imitate their behavior as he wrestled against his instinct to run away.

"""" Imperial Guards! Get Ready!! """"

A horde of something was closing in on their location. Not even a minute later Yu Xian realized he could hear strange sounds among the rumble. Thousands of lasguns started firing at once. Echoes of beast-like screams came from the dust cloud as a response. Soon, the beasts were close enough for Yu Xian to clearly hear them.

They weren't beasts, they were netherdemons! Hordes of them were charging towards the ruins. The lasguns were only effective against the weaker ones. Stronger variants were only injured, and became even fiercer as a result!

Yu Xian also started firing with his weapon, but he knew that this was a lost cause. As the demons finally hit the covers and started devouring the defenseless soldiers, Yu Xian once again started running. Just 30 seconds later, he heard the familiar heavy footsteps.

"On charges of cowardice, you are sentenced to death!"

*BANG*

* * *

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian was speechless. The demons were devouring the soldiers alive, but this hateful commissar still killed him in the middle of the battlefield!

His arms started to tremble. Even breathing became an ordeal. As he wrestled with his instincts, Yu Xian realized he was about to lose control. This 15-year-old body was only one lapse of judgment away from devolving into a beast.

*Low Hum* ""Incomiin-""

Yu Xian lifted his hea-

*CRASH*

* * *

15 cycles later…

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian held his lasgun tightly. Each cycle was short, which was a blessing, and a curse at the same time.

*Low Hum*

“… radiant and peerless, knowing, seeing, hearing. Are the same as the everlasting pain…”

Who would’ve thought that the Enduring Sutra he learned in his youth, would end up being useful after countless years!

Yu Xian kept repeating the sutra over and over again, until…

""Incomiin-""

His body moved on its own to take cover. Though the action was meaningless, after experiencing death so many times, Yu Xian realized he could not prevent some of his actions anymore.

*Low Rumble*

Yu Xian stared at the dust cloud with a grim expression. He recited the enduring sutra once more.

"""" Imperial Guards! Get Ready!! """"

Each passing second, netherdemons got closer and closer. The simultaneous firing of thousands of lasguns could not drown out their terrible cries. Yu Xian waited.

“Keep FirAaaarh-…”

One of the smaller netherdemons slashed the sergeant's legs away. Finally, Yu Xian gathered his courage to start firing. But it was all moot at this point. Their lines were breached; this cycle too, was a lost cause.

After the sergeant’s fall, the rest of the squad followed soon. All around Yu Xian were cries of pain and desperation. He closed his eyes, and waited for the inevitable. Unfortunately, this time, the end didn’t come from the giant demon upfront.

Something sank its teeth at Yu Xian from behind! Instinctively, he tried to fight, tried to get away! But the netherdemon didn’t care for his feeble attempts. A moment later, sickening sloshing and crunching sounds followed the unimaginable pain. Yu Xian opened his eyes, but that too, was a mistake.

Legs, arms, and even part of his abdomen, Yu Xian felt everything before he died.

* * *

27 cycles later.

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian dashed towards the left flank. Though he could not spot any patterns so far, he knew he had to keep trying.

*Low Hum*

“… No wisdom, or the beginning of it. Nor the end that comes of ignorance…”

His hands were still shaking, but he persevered.

""Incomiin-""

*…crash…*

His eyes shook with the distant cries for help. But Yu Xian didn’t move.

*Low Rumble*

"""" Imperial Guards! Get Ready!! """"

Finally, he stopped reciting the enduring sutra. As the inevitable came closer and closer, he took deep breaths and reminded himself that this was an illusion.

“Keep FirAaaarh-…”

As expected, the right flank fell nearly instantly once again. Yu Xian took cover and tried his best to target the netherdemon’s weak points. Either by luck or by providence, Yu Xian heard the muffling sounds of the lascannon.

The bigger netherdemon retreated, but the small ones remained. By their nature, netherdemons were far worse than violent beasts. At least you could scare the latter, but netherdemons didn’t care for pain. Yu Xian was too busy with his lasgun to notice that!

Only a few moments later from his perspective, Yu Xian found himself on the ground. At some point, he was somehow thrown backward. The air was filled with the stench of burnt meat. Once he looked at his left arm, Yu Xian understood why.

* * *

9 cycles later

“Keep FirAaaarh-…”

Just like the sergeant’s last words, Yu Xian kept firing. He stood his ground, and kept firing until his last breath.

* * *

111th cycle.

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian started walking towards the western section.

“2 minutes until the dust cloud.”

Each cycle his body would be renewed, but in the end, it was only a 15-year-old body with no cultivation. Yu Xian realized he had to pace himself!

*Low Hum*

Approximately half an hour later, Yu Xian, surprisingly, was still alive. His left thigh was punctured, his left hand was broken, and his right eye was lost. But he was still alive.

*slice*

Suddenly, the world started rolling.

* * *

300? Cycles later.

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian sighed, then looked all around him with complex emotions. He felt shame that it took him this long to notice.

Similar to the case with the sword flight and the miraculous healing pill, Yu Xian guessed that this illusion was the way Han De was showing favor.

The more he experienced pain and death, the more stable his mind became. Slowly, but surely, he was recovering.

*Low Hum*

This couldn’t have been a coincidence. Clearly, this was a training illusion meant to cultivate one’s mind.

Inside the inn, Han De had shown his unbridled killing intent. Yu Xian now understood the reason. It was all to test him!

""Incomiin-""

13 minutes later, Yu Xian’s vision darkened as he drowned from his own blood.

* * *

100? Cycles later.

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian calmly breathed the dusty air. ‘Why not’ he thought, as he walked towards the sergeant.

“You should not wait on top of that rock.”

This unfortunate sergeant had died almost as many times as him. Illusion or not, Yu Xian felt compelled to give a warning!

Unexpectedly, the sergeant smiled!

“You’re a good kid. Now get back to your position.”

Yu Xian froze. He did not expect the illusory sergeant to answer him. “You knew?” he tentatively asked.

The nameless sergeant smiled once more, but this time Yu Xian spotted the helplessness beneath.

""Incomiin-""

Once more, Yu Xian helplessly watched as a netherdemon started chewing his intestines with great relish. This time though, he could tell that the screaming he heard in the background, was actually himself.

* * *

After getting surprised by the life-like response from the sergeant, Yu Xian realized he could talk to the soldiers.

The more he listened, the more he realized that this wasn’t a simple training illusion.

* * *

Approximately 2000 cycles since the start, Yu Xian finally thought he was getting somewhere. Though he could last longer at the western section, his starting position was the key.

As soon as the cycle started, he first ran towards the eastern wing to get the grenade launchers, then headed back to the starting area. Only 4 soldiers were capable of using them, and they needed to be placed at the back so that they could bombard the western side.

As long as random bombs struck non-critical sections of the perimeter, the guardsman had a chance of pulling through.

* * *

Approximately 2500 cycles since the start, Yu Xian finally defeated the wave of the nether demons. By his estimates, it only took him just over 2 months to get to this stage.

Unfortunately, he was heavily injured in the process and his guts were already outside his body. He wished the commissar would appear and send him to the next cycle already.

While he was barely enduring the pain to welcome the sweet embrace of death, strangely shaped dark red metal boxes started landing near the ruins.

"...Drop pods?"

After one soldier said it, what was left of the 341st regiment raised their heads with hope. Even the wounded wanted to get a better look.

Yu Xian finally died, but before he died he heard the reverential whispers of the soldiers.

""Space Marines...""

* * *

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yet another cycle began. Which meant that either clearing the wave wasn't the condition, or maybe he needed to survive in the end.

Yu Xian gritted his teeth. That 'victory' depended on random explosions hitting specific targets. Therefore, the result was random. What kind of training was this?!

*Low hum*

Rather than giving it another serious try, Yu Xian went over to the nearest soldier.

"Brother, what's a Space Marine?"

The soldier was baffled by the question. After noticing Yu Xian's serious expression, his eyes were full of pity. The soldier was a veteran and had seen many people lose their minds after a battle. It was truly a pity that this young boy started showing signs before his first.

* * *

""""" SIR! YES! SIR! """""

Yu Xian had gone through more than 2520 cycles since the beginning. He even wasted a dozen or so just to talk with the soldiers and find out their strengths and weaknesses. But he never bothered to ask a more fundamental question. What was happening? Why were they here, why were they fighting?

Only after 2 months of constant fear, pain, death, and fighting, his mind reached a stable enough state to be concerned by things other than survival.

He spent the last 10 cycles just to get information about this illusory world. Learned about the Imperium of Man, the Space Marines, about the never-ending wars that the mortals were fighting. They had no cultivation bases, according to rumors some could achieve a small degree of success in mental arts, but they were susceptible to… miasma? Yu Xian wasn't clear on that one. It seemed that the mental cultivators here would often succumb to the netherworld and become heretics or demons. A novel idea for the world he was from, but eerily possible once he gave it some thought.

*Low Hum*

On a battlefield, he couldn't ask detailed questions. Everything he had gathered was only bits and pieces. The so-called Space Marines couldn't control the power of space. They weren't cultivators, they just had special bloodlines that made their bodies stronger. That bloodline had some relation to an emperor.

Ultimately, learning more about the illusion's story didn't benefit him in any way. He had tried to leave the illusion, and failed miserably every time. He could only hope that meeting these 'Space Marines' was the exit condition.

*Low Rumble*

Yu Xian returned to his spot, this cycle was already lost since he had skipped his usual preparation plan.

"""" Imperial Guards! Get Ready!! """"

The sound of Yu Xian's lasgun didn't stop until nether demons reached the perimeter. He calmly used his bayonet to kill two lower-level demons, then continued to alternate between ranged and melee attacks.

Through his efforts, the soldiers around him were able to live and fight for a few more minutes.

* * *

Soldiers whispered amongst themselves.

""Space Marines...""

Five hundred and sixty-two cycles and five close encounters later, Yu Xian was able to see the drop pods once again.

'Finally…'

Two metal puppets exited from the first two pods. They were quite big and bulky but still had enough finesse to quickly take position between the far away beam of red light, and the other drop pods that were still landing.

Each pod seemed to carry 10 space marines clad in bulky, blood-red armor. Their weapons were completely different from what Yu Xian had seen until now. Some of them even carried mounted weapons.

As the space marines took formation, the atmosphere surrounding the imperial guard soldiers tensed up.

"... So many..."

Yu Xian glanced at a few soldiers and saw their stoic expressions. He couldn't understand why the soldiers reacted this way. There were only a little more than 100 space marines, and only 2 metal puppets!

'Could they be body cultivators too?'

While Yu Xian pondered on the space marines' abilities, the hateful commissar was talking with a special group of space marines with golden adornments.

****Hum****

The red beam of light expanded without warning. As many times before, a humming sound was transmitted to Yu Xian's mind. Space marines started their advance without delay.

"Fix bayonets! Guardsmen! Equip your bayonets and march!!!"

Commissar gazed at the remaining imperial guard as he gave the order. As for the guardsmen, they had no choice to follow the order. A few of them were reluctant, but they didn't dare to disobey. Yu Xian thought some of them would run, but even the wounded grabbed their weapons and started their march.

Dust and vibrations from the netherdemons’ charge appeared once again. Yu Xian followed suit and soon saw the space marines engaging the nether demons. Some of them were fighting with swords, and even the long-ranged supports were advancing while firing their weapons nonstop.

As they passed long-ranged support, Yu Xian spotted a figure kneeling in golden armor. He was praying with a huge hammer right beside him.

"Venerate the Immortal Emperor!"

The figure's words echoed in the plains despite never-ending sounds from weapons and demons. Then, he charged. A shield appeared around him just before he reached the front line.

The world started swaying, and soon Yu Xian found himself in a weightless environment. The only thing he could see was endless gray fog in all directions.

As he wondered about his experiences, a large panel made of blue light appeared out of nowhere.

------------------------------------------------

Name: Yu Xian
Difficulty: 13
Record Time: 56:10
Total Simulation Time: 76.02 Days
Total Tries: 3041

Progress:
------------------------------
1st Wave Cleared
2nd Wave In-Progress
3rd Wave Locked
4th Wave Locked
5th Wave Locked
6th Wave Locked
7th Wave Locked
8th Wave Locked
9th Wave Locked
10th Wave Locked 
11th Wave Locked 
12th Wave Locked
13th Wave Locked
...

Evaluation
------------------------------
Final Score: 8
Notes: Repetition is the key to mastery.

------------------------------------------------

* * *

Yu Xian woke up with a headache. He was still inside the same inn, sitting at the same table. Nobody seemed to be willing to meet his gaze when he looked around. He couldn't recognize anyone, but that didn't come off as a surprise. The memory of his current body wasn't as good as his previous one.

There were 10 sparkling gold coins on the table, that was the only difference he could spot. Naturally, Han De was nowhere in sight.

Yu Xian decided to sit for a while to let his body recover. Though he was tired and aching everywhere, he was no longer swinging between extreme emotions. Time spent in the illusion helped him get used to his body. Nearly 3 months of constant life and death battles were worth more than years of bitter cultivation.

Once he felt better Yu Xian stood up and went to the counter. The same waitress with freckles hurriedly lowered her head. Though he recognized her, he didn't really care about what he said before.

"How long was I out?"

The waitress flinched, then answered with a hushed tone, clearly being wary of Yu Xian.

"T-three hours…?"

Yu Xian put down a gold coin and left without any expression.

A cultivator had to cultivate. Cultivation required resources. The fattest sect he knew was that of Han De's. And Han De was subtly steering him towards recruitment. Yu Xian had made up his mind nearly 2 months ago. He no longer doubted himself. He no longer needed to observe and over-analyze Han De's behavior. Good or bad, he could handle anything.

Advertisement

About the author

LivingSpoon

Bio:

Achievements
Comments(33)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In