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Chapter 6: That Explains a lot

At that exact moment, people started coming inside Erik's class. A grin was plastered on his face since he heard the students talking about the bathroom fire.

He immediately understood he was successful and got a lot of pleasure from it. His face was so radiant that multiple people noticed the odd behavior, but Erik didn't care. It felt great being able to manipulate someone like that without them even noticing.

"All right, guys," Mr. O'Leary said.

"We will spend the next hour trying to establish connections between the brain and the crystal, the neural links. As I explained multiple times, neural links are important to increase ranks. Most of you are currently at the σ level on the Idor scale, which classifies the number of neural links you made. From one to three, you are σ individuals, regardless of the Ferebitz and the Jorm scale; from four to six, you are ρ individuals." Mr. O'leary said while walking around the room. The teacher used a very calm tone as he spoke, ensuring everyone understood him clearly.

"As I explained several times," he said while looking at Erik. "To create a neural link, you have to channel mana through the brain crystal and connect the crystal to the brain. You must open a path between the brain and the crystal and use mana for this purpose. It is natural, this operation, I mean. You should understand what to do once you channel mana through your brain." The teacher looked again at Erik, knowing he was the only one in class still at the σ1 level while most of his classmates were at the σ3 or the ρ1.

"I can't stress enough how important neural links are. They allow you to control your Brain's Crystal Power more easily and generally represent your power. Yeah, you also have to consider the Ferebitz and the Jorm scale to fully understand how good your power is, but still. Everything starts from how you can use your power, not on how much mana it can harness or how useful it is. Lastly, the higher the number of neural links between the brain and the crystal, the greater the amount of mana that can flow through your body. This makes you mutate; your DNA gets empowered, making you faster and stronger."

The teacher looked at the students with a severe look. "Now, let's channel mana again, all right?" Mr. O'Leary asked.

Everyone nodded and began using their brain crystals to create a new neural link. The task was not as simple as the teacher made it look, and it took months for the students to reach the level they were. Making brain crystals was natural yet insanely hard, at least with their current technique.

This spoke volumes about individuals at the ALPHA level if they existed. Many said that not even Solomon Judd could get to the ALPHA level, which was why he perished during the expeditions to the other continent, and that he was X-ranked was a lie.

The strongest person in Frant currently was General Becker, who was "only" at the Aη2A.

Erik focused on the task at hand; this was one of the few things he desperately tried to accomplish. He wanted to become stronger, to get out of his insufferable life. Even though he knew it would never happen, he kept believing there was a way to escape.

A chance to leave everything behind and live without concerns, but that was only possible through having more neural links. That daydream always gave him hope when reality became too harsh.

He concentrated harder than ever before, focusing on the task at hand. He tried to channel mana through his brain crystal. Still, he couldn't feel the feeling of mana flowing through his body anymore.

This was a usual occurrence. He couldn't go past this point because every time he used mana to make a neural link, he lost connection to the ethereal substance without reason. However, something different happened this time.

[WARNING: A DEFORMITY OF THE BRAIN CRYSTAL HAS BEEN FOUND. USAGE OF MANA IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED]

<WHAT?!> Erik was almost shouting.

[WARNING: A DEFORMITY OF THE BRAIN CRYSTAL HAS BEEN FOUND. USAGE OF MANA IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED]

<YOU ALREADY SAID THAT, PLEASE CLARIFY THE SITUATION!>

[THE HOST HAS A SLIGHTLY DEFORMED BRAIN CRYSTAL. THIS DEFORMITY STOPS MANA FROM FLOWING CORRECTLY. THE HOST IS ENCOURAGED TO TAKE ACTION TO REMOVE THE PROBLEM.]

<Stops mana from flowing correctly?> Realization downed on the young man. Were all his problems increasing in ranks, possibly due to this deformity? What if he was only F-ranked because of this? What if he could control more mana?

<The problem is that my power is still useless... Though If what the system says is true, I have hope. System, you said there is a solution. Do you mind clarifying?>

[YES. I CAN MODIFY THE DNA AND THE BRAIN CRYSTAL. THE FUNCTION IS, THOUGH, LOCKED, BUT THE HOST CAN TEMPORARILY USE THE POWER BY CONSUMING DNA POINTS]

A spark of hope ignited in the young man, not only because of the possibility of solving his deformity problem but also because of what the biological supercomputer said: the power to modify the DNA and the brain crystal. Erik wasn't sure what this meant or implied; he couldn't see the future. Still, he couldn't stop thinking about it.

<You still haven't explained what the DNA points are,> Erik inquired.

[ANSWER: DNA POINTS REPRESENT THE ACCUMULATION OF GENETIC MATERIALS AND ENERGY. IT IS REQUIRED TO USE THE POWER OF THE BIOLOGICAL SUPERCOMPUTER; ENERGY DOESN'T COME FREE AFTER ALL.]

Erik was perfectly aware he could get DNA points from quests, but he wondered if he could do the same in another way.

<Are the DNA points acquirable only through quests?>

[ANSWER: QUESTS ARE SIMPLY TASKS I GIVE THE USER TO PUSH HIM TO DO THINGS THAT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO BOTH THE HOST AND ME. THEY DO NOT DO ANYTHING REALLY. MOST OF THE QUESTS I WILL GIVE WILL BE RELATED TO KILLING, AS EVERY TIME A CREATURE DIES, IT RELEASES ALL ITS MANA INTO THE ENVIRONMENT. DEPENDING ON THE QUANTITY RELEASED, I CAN STORE VARIABLE AMOUNTS OF MANA. SOME WILL BE KEPT TO IMPROVE THE DNA, HENCE WHY DNA POINTS, SOME WILL BE USED TO INCREASE THE SYSTEM'S FUNCTION AND IMPROVE YOUR BODY, HENCE WHY EXPERIENCE.]

<Killing?> Erik asked.

[ANSWER: YES. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO GATHER MANA SINCE I CAN ALSO TAKE IT FROM THE ENVIRONMENT, BUT THAT IS SLOW AND INEFFICIENT.]

<All right, what must I do to use the power?>

[ANSWER: THE HOST NEEDS TO COLLECT A HUNDRED DNA POINTS TO USE THE POWER AND REMOVE THE DEFORMITY. THE SYSTEM WILL DO THE REST]

<Luckily, I already have twenty DNA points...> the young man thought.

***

After an hour of class, in which the young man didn't even try to make another neural link, the lesson finally ended.

Then the other classes followed suit; math, geography, history, and the like were the subjects taught. Erik didn't have particular problems since all he could do in his free time was study, so they went on without a problem.

Then lunch break began. The students had it at the cafeteria.

Erik, as usual, sat alone in the corner of the room, but this time, he was as happy as ever, not only because of what the biological supercomputer said to him about his deformity and its solution but also because of Logan's misfortunes.

He heard that he was summoned to the principal's office, where he talked to him for at least an hour; no one knew the content of the conversation. Still, he imagined it didn't go well since Logan and his friends had dark looks on their faces.

Lunch break passed quickly; soon enough, the last bell rang, announcing the end of the day. The students hurried out of their classrooms, heading towards the exit.

They gathered near the door, waiting for someone to open it. While they waited, some students started talking among themselves.

Erik was listening with great interest to the conversations going around.

They talked about Logan.

Erik was perfectly aware what he was doing wasn't right, but he couldn't stop feeling great about his actions. Did he possibly ruin Logan's and his friends' lives? Regardless, he hoped he did.

The young man hurriedly went out of the building. Usually, people his age remained at the gym to train their bodies and brain crystal powers, but Erik could do nothing here, or he would become a target.

So, he was headed toward Mr. Fox's farm and then planned to train at home and make the second daily quest.

Still, he didn't want to garner more attention than he already did by having an F-ranked power on the Ferebitz scale.

He didn't want to risk bullying, beatings, and swearing, so he simply decided to go to his workplace, where he could use his power and complete the quest. If everything went well, he could level up in four days and cure his brain crystal deformity.

The young man had to go to the northern district to reach the place. As usual, he had to take the train to get there, so he started walking.

The city was as lively as ever; the streets were full of flying cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians walking down the busy streets free from vehicles traveling into the air. The young man walked along the sidewalk, looking at all the shops.

Most of the buildings looked new and had a militaristic style. Erik cringed at this stupid nation's taste for aesthetics, but that was the last of the problems that the higher-ups there really had.

As he walked, he saw people going in the same direction, the young man was still injured, and people looked at him occasionally, but no one stopped to ask if he was okay. No doubt, everyone here was used to seeing people like him.

As he got closer to the train station, the city became dirtier. More homeless, beggars, and drug addicts appeared. There was a large area covered in trash and garbage. People who lived nearby were cleaning the mess.

Soon after, Erik reached the train station; it was huge compared to others in the city. He bought a round-trip ticket to the north part of town, as he did every day, and then entered the train and sat. Soon he arrived at the destination, the farm.

It was surrounded by fences made of steel bars, the gates were locked tight, and the young man approached them cautiously. He put his hand inside the pocket of his hoodie, took out his keychain, and inserted the key to unlock the gate. After opening it, he entered the premises.


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