A VIP as Soon as You Log In - Chapter 24: Breaking out of the Egg - 2
In the relay race, which began right after lunchtime in the afternoon, Baek In-ha was definitely in the spotlight more than anyone else.
He was usually a prankster, but no one could deny his talents. As soon as his turn came, he chased down the sunbae ahead of him in no time to his team’s victory. In response to his glamorous performances, people began to speculate, “When it comes to speed, isn’t he the best?”
Baek In-ha seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting. The innocent-looking boy smiled and waved his hands briskly, and those who didn’t know him applauded in response.
“Oh, so that’s the boy. . . . . .”
“What will happen to Korea’s superhuman industry in the future?”
“I’m looking forward to it in many ways, yes.”
After the relay race, which showed a glimpse of the students’ talents, the remaining superhuman matches were held one after another.
The most eye-catching of them was monster hunting, a CvC battle where students fought real monsters captured from the gates. Even though psyche magic had been cast on the monsters to prevent them from dealing fatal wounds to the students, there was a high chance that a very dangerous situation could unfold.
But the experience of fighting real monsters was an indispensable part of their training, and more importantly, the match was a great opportunity for the school to show the outside world of the quality of their education.
“I didn’t expect them to bring a B rank monster. . . . . .”
“Everyone will tackle the monsters in groups as we practiced! There’s no monster we can’t catch!”
“You all read the counter-strategy plan, right? Spread out!”
“Two at three o’clock! Five at seven! Respond!”
The seniors of 2nd and 3rd-year students, who had been through countless assignments such as monster practice, dungeon practice and independent assignments, calmly and stably competed in the match.
As they knew that their performances this day would affect their job search after graduation, they needed to emphasize their strengths and ability to cooperate with their teammates even at the risk of looking like clowns, being played by the school for spectator sports.
“We can kill this one! Push!”
“You fool, that one’s still full of strengths! Watch out, it’s about to shoot its scales!”
“When a shell wolf is struck on the top of its head, it peels off its scales to fire them! Did you even read the counter-strategy plan!?”
Meanwhile, the inexperienced 1st-year students made a series of mistakes as they were not able to calm down in front of monsters that they’ve never faced in their life.
A lot of them were already dropped out of the match, and one of them even turned pale and rolled on the floor after letting go of his weapon against a monster. The superhuman spectators would either laugh out loud at those scenes or shout out a big lecture at them.
“Hey, the formation at 11 o’clock is falling apart! Wait–they’re changing to an offensive formation!”
“Still, Shinyoung is Shinyoung, after all. No one has run away from the monsters yet.”
“They have the pride of being prospective elites, so they wouldn’t just turn their backs on those monsters. You can do it; I believe in you!”
“There! Hey, you can’t just let a monster perform a summoning magic!”
“This year’s sports day is fun too!”
Of course, the spectators made such commentary for their own fun; no one had actually expected these 1st-year students, who had been enrolled in the Academy for only two months, to calmly handle real monsters.
It didn’t matter that the students had natural talents. They were still immature, inexperienced.
No matter how much they practiced their formation and prepared for the monsters that were likely to appear in the competition, the fear of the actual experience was not something to be taken lightly.
Moreover, it was all the more so because unlike the previous monster practice, students were dealing with numerous monsters concentrated in a small area without the help of their teacher.
“Stay calm and stand in line!”
“Tsk, you guys just watch from behind. Heup!”
“Great–you can lure the monsters for us. Everyone else, stay where you are!”
Of course, the weight carried by the name “Shinyoung” wasn’t light, so there were quite a few 1st-years who stood out and bought the interest of many spectators. Of course, that included Kang Shin-hyuk.
‘I felt it during the battle against the War Troll, too.’
Kang Shin-hyuk thought while striking the nose of the D rank shelf wolf with the training-purpose knuckle given to 1st-year’s C-class.
‘I think I’m pretty strong in actual battles.’
During his encounter with the War Troll, the warning of likely death prompted him to take action before he could be frozen by fear. His head was constantly coming up with a counter-strategy plan, and his body was constantly always in motion.
‘Why was that? Was it because of spirit power, the faint memory of Anvil, or maybe my natural talent?”
‘. . . . . . It doesn’t matter, actually.’
He kicked the body of a shelf wolf that was rushing towards him while striking another one that flanked him from the side with his knuckle and pushed it away.
Instead of obsessing over killing as many as possible, he focused on kicking and pushing away the monsters that were trying to break into his class’s formation.
Kang Shin-hyuk took the role of a guard of his team’s formation for his ability to handle multiple enemies at the same time due to his high physical stats and impressive skills in martial arts. The role of dealing final blows to the monsters was handed to two other students.
“Damn Shinyok, your lower body’s tough! Gotta thank your girlfriend, am I right!?”
“Shut the fuck up, you dumbass!”
“Why is Baek In-ha so disgusting while having such a normal face?”
“That I wonder, too.”
The role of finishing the monsters was given to Baek In-ha, known to have the highest quality speed-type trait, and Karen Stringfield, who, despite being generally slower than Baek In-ha, could temporarily boost her agility to an extreme level by strengthening her nerves.
The two were speeding through the battlefield where weakened monsters were present to deal their final blow. High speed was an incredibly handy ability, and the D rank monsters couldn’t respond to the two appearing out of nowhere and attacking their vital points.
“You take care of that side!”
Although the situation seemed to be worsening on the surface, it was actually stabilizing for the student’s favor.
Without Kang Shin-hyuk, Baek In-ha and Karen would have lacked the manpower to protect their vulnerable teammates who didn’t know what to do, but Kang Shin-hyuk was practically doing as much as three tanks by knocking out the wolves attacking from every direction.
No, if you considered the students who weren’t doing their best, he was probably filling the duty of as many as seven people.
“Kang Shin-hyuk. . . . . . He’s amazing.”
“I think he has an eye on his back, too. How the hell do you do all that?”
“He’s not using mana, is he? Also, why is the sound coming from his fist so terrifying?”
“Hey, are we going to let him take all the spotlight? Don’t be so pathetic and let’s fight!”
Perhaps thanks to the presence of Kang Shin-hyuk, the 1st-year C-Class was able to regain its sanity faster than other classes and achieve a comparably high result.
Baek In-ha took it easy for the whole match as he thought it was meaningless to go on a rampage alone in such a team competition, so it was Karen Stringfield who broke the neck of the last remaining wolf.
“With this, it’s over!”
As she raised her hand with her trampling on the wolf’s neck, the buzzer rang right away and the record of the first grade C-Class was engraved on the electronic display. It wasn’t an all-time high score, though it was incredibly high.
“We finished faster than expected! Were we the fastest among 1st-years?”
“No, we’re behind Magic majors’ I-Class. Didn’t those bastards cheat?”
Since I-Class was brimming with notable talents, Kang Shin-hyuk’s C-Class was unable to annihilate the monsters at the fastest pace among 1st-year students, though they were the fastest among Knight majors.
It wasn’t a surprising outcome. I-Class had planned every step; they pulled a series of defensive and offensive magics in perfect coordination and whipped out 80% of the monsters before they had direct contact. They probably didn’t have much opportunity to experience the tension of real battle.
“But I think people would notice that their teamwork is countered by their lack of individual strengths. It’s not just a matter of finishing the match quickly.”
“Anyway, well done, everybody!”
“Wow, I’m tired. Is anyone hurt badly? The medics are coming soon, so raise your hand if you are.”
“Baek In-ha looked pretty cool earlier. He would be perfect if he doesn’t open his mouth. . . . . .”
“Karen was the best. I almost confessed by mistake earlier.”
While the class was excitedly chatting about their high score, Kang Shin-hyuk let out a deep sigh after confirming that he wasn’t hurt. Baek In-ha approached him.
“You were awesome, Shinyok. You were flying around.”
“Are you talking about yourself?”
“No, Kang Shin-hyuk, I’m serious. You were incredible. Our formation didn’t collapse in the middle of the battle thanks to you, and. . . . . . I hate to say it, but, Do Woojin.”
When Kang Shin-hyuk shook his head with a grin at Baek In-ha’s words, Karen approached him and complimented him, perhaps having heard their conversation. When the aces of the competition stood side by side and praised his performance, Kang Shin-hyuk finally made a proud expression and shrugged his shoulders.
Kang Shin-hyuk’s sophisticated movements and meticulous techniques had shone on one-on-one battles, but they shined just as brightly in a team battle.
But since the wolves were weaker than him in physical stats, he could take on as many of them as possible without retreating. So he just stood his ground and fought them, which seemed to have generated a deep impression on the people around him.
‘And well, about Do Woojin. . . . . . I’m sure he performed well with his abundant mana.’
Do woojin was originally famous for having the equivalent of a C+ rank mana. His trait was in fact higher in rank, but he had only been using his weaker skills because using his trait would have led to a penalty.
In other words, the other members of the C-Class showed worse results than Kang Shin-hyuk, who they had been ignoring for his inability to use mana, and Do Woojin wasn’t at his full strengths.
“I wish everyone had just pulled themselves together and gotten a higher score.”
“They’ve never been in such a team-oriented battle before, so they couldn’t help it. The real issue was you; why were you so good, Shinyok? You were almost like an experienced active superhuman.”
“Yeah right, all I did was knocking down monsters jumping at me.”
“. . . . . .Shinyok?”
“Hey, this guy’s just calling me whatever he likes, so don’t look at me with that weird look.” (1)
Kang Shin-hyuk cut Karen off before she could say any further. She mischievously smiled and asked him.
“If you tell me what you were talking about with the Thunder Empress earlier, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that nickname, Shinyok.”
“The Thunder Empress? You met the Thunder Empress, too!?”
“Ha. . . . . .”
This time, Baek In-ha bit the bait. Kang Shin-hyuk pushed him away as he was closing in with his eyes wide open as if to eat him alive.
“We didn’t talk about much. She just told me she enjoyed the game.”
“Really? The international celebrity Thunder Empress approached you and no one else and that’s all she said?”
“Yeah, that was all. Look, they’re calling for us. Let’s go.”
“Suspicious. . . . . .”
“I’m not lying.”
Kang Shin-hyuk pushed Karen and Baek In-ha’s backs towards where their class was gathered while thinking back to the conversation he had with her at lunchtime.
‘I was freaked out at first that she found out.’
The Thunder Empress Shin Eunah appeared out of nowhere to stare at him for a few moments and asked him to have a private conversation.
Karen lost her mind at the sight of a Top 500 superhuman and Kang Shin-hyuk had no choice to follow her while shivering at the idea of his identity being found out.
‘I saw the morning game.’
‘Kang Shin-hyuk. . . . . . I’ll remember you.’
‘I’ll look forward to the remaining games.’
She said those three sentences and left coolly, saying, “See you next time.” That was all!!
‘If that was the case, was it necessary to have a private conversation or stare at me so intently?’
‘Fortunately though, I don’t think she noticed I’m Anvil. If she did, she wouldn’t have had that look on her face.’
Recalling the facial expression of the Thunder Empress, which was ice-cold during the whole encounter, Kang Shin-hyuk sighed in his mind.
A stiff expression with a stiff manner of speaking. He wondered if she really was the “Eunah” who called him “Grandpa” like a child in the Hero Universe messages.
If she didn’t think of him as Anvil, why would she approach him in the first place? Was she capable of detecting spirit power like Claire? As a member of the same Hero Universe, the possibility was there.
“Shinyok, what’s wrong. Is it because of the rookie competition tomorrow?”
“Huh? No. . . . . I mean, yeah. I’m worried about that.”
Seeing Kang Shin-hyuk’s look of unrest, Baek In-ha patted him on the shoulder and talked to him. Kang Shin-hyuk knew very well that mentioning the Thunder Empress one more time would be self-destruction, so he merely nodded.
At that moment, his stick vibrated. When he took it out and checked, he found that the schedule for tomorrow’s rookie competition was sent. His opponent for the round of 16 was. . . . . . Do Woojin.
“Ha. . . . . .”
When he looked up, he could see Do Woojin giving him a heated look. Thinking that he was unnecessarily too heated, Kang Shin-hyuk shook his head.
The first day of the turbulent Shinyoung sports day was coming to an end.
(1) Since “Shinyok” is a nickname connoting a very close connection, Karen is (jokingly) suspecting that they Baek In-ha is his boyfriend.