Chapter 2 I Must Take the Martial Sciences Examinations!
In the classroom.
Fang Ping was extremely confused, and his heart was filled with trepidation.
Only until the discussion died down did Fang Ping nudge Chen Fan beside him and ask softly, “Is Grand… Grandmaster Ma, Ma Huateng?”
Chen Fan’s expression became stern instantly, and he said seriously, “Fang Ping, calling a Grandmaster by name is the most severe show of disrespect!”
Fang Ping, “…”
Fang Ping had wanted to cry. Damn it, now he could not even mention him by name. This power of Brother Ma was even more terrifying than that of the president’s.
Fang Ping got one thing confirmed, though: Penguin Group’s CEO was still Brother Ma.
The corporation and its CEO matched what he knew; the only inconsistency was the Martial Arts Powerhouse thing that everyone was talking about.
He felt like something peculiar was jammed inside everything he ever knew abruptly, causing a feeling of disjointedness.
He suppressed his urge to retort and said nonchalantly, “I was busy preparing for the Gaokao, so I did not read the news that much. Tell me, is there anything interesting recently?”
Chen Fan did not put the strange request in mind. He answered, “There’s nothing new. Only Grandmaster Ma achieving Rank-8 could be said to be slightly unexpected.”
Chen Fan did not like gossiping that much, but the would-be bearded man in the front row, Yang Jian, liked to talk.
The school bell still had not rung. Yang Jian heard Fang Ping’s question too, and so he turned back and replied softly, “There isn’t much big news that is confirmed, but I looked at the gossip a few days ago and got wind of some backdoor rumors. I don’t know if they are accurate, though.”
“Rumor says that Master Ma from Raccoon has broken through Rank-7 and is now a Grandmaster!
“Grandmaster Li from Baidu seems to be getting ready to cultivate and break through Rank-8 too. Master Li and Grandmaster Ma reached Rank-7 at almost the same time, but Master Li was not progressing as fast as Grandmaster Ma in the past few years, so it’s hard to say if he can achieve a breakthrough.
“Also, there’s news that Governor Zhang from our Nanjiang province will achieve a breakthrough to Rank-7 soon.
“If Governor Zhang reaches Rank-7, it’s going to be awesome. Nanjiang has been weak for years, with only several Grandmasters from the past generation holding the fort. Governor Zhang is still quite young; if he achieves a breakthrough, there is hope for another step forward toward the recovery of Nanjiang’s longstanding weakness.
“Also, it seems like our school has invited a senior that was admitted into Nanjiang Martial Arts University last year to give us a speech before this year’s Martial Sciences Examinations…”
Yang Jian talked on and on, but the gossip he shared was all Greek to Fang Ping.
The gossip news Yang Jian talked about was mostly about martial artists: this guy was going to achieve a breakthrough, this so and so was cultivating…
Some of them Fang Ping had heard of. They were not only limited to the business field; some of them were artistes or even politicians.
From what Yang Jian said, Fang Ping could infer the high social status that martial artists had in this society. Yang Jian called any powerhouse lower than Rank-7 “Master”, and those higher than that “Grandmaster”.
Another point he observed was that everyone famous seemed to also be a martial powerhouse.
Or rather it should be said that anyone would fail to be famous if he was not a powerhouse.
Sometime in between, Fang Ping had asked nonchalantly, “How powerful are those people?”
Yang Jian replied unceremoniously, “Any random martial artist can beat us to a pulp!”
After the bell rang and before the teacher came in, Yang Jian said somewhat ruefully, “If I don’t get admitted into martial sciences and become a martial artist, the rest of my life won’t amount to anything. If I were to be a civil servant, I won’t be able to go beyond this city. It’s the same if I’m to venture into business. An ordinary citizen wanting to stand out… It’s difficult!”
After he said that, Fang Ping froze again.
Chen Fan, who did not speak much before, was also quite dejected. He said quietly, “Martial artists are the minority, after all. Also, speaking of us, we won’t be able to reach that level anyway, so we don’t need to care.”
Fang Ping sensed something from their conversation.
According to what he understood, if one was not a martial artist, he would not be able to advance higher than Bureau-level if he was to join the civil service. If he was a businessman, he would not be able to expand further than the city.
He did not know if all of that was black and white, or if they were just unspoken rules that everyone agreed to.
No matter which one it was, Fang Ping still felt the massive disadvantage he had in this world.
If he did not become a martial artist, a powerhouse, he would be mucking around in the lowest level his entire life.
The main point: Fang Ping was now seriously doubting if he had really simply resurrected.
Although his classmates all looked the same as before and had the same names, and all those big names and corporations could also be matched with what he knew, but this strange occupation came out all in a sudden. Was the rest really identical with what he remembered?
He wanted to ask a few more questions, but the teacher entered the room. The others all returned to their seats and stopped chatting.
Also, everything he wanted to know was common sense to the others, so Fang Ping did not want to ask for too many details.
If he did, those guys would probably think he had amnesia.
He thought for a while, and asked Chen Fan when the teacher turned away from them, “Is…is there still an Internet café near our school?”
Chen Fan looked at him strangely but still replied, “Of course there is. Didn’t you always go to the Blue Sky Internet café before?”
Fang Ping exhaled and nodded without words. It seemed like some things were still the same.
For example, this Internet café with its old-fashioned name was still there. If that was so, that meant that some things had not changed. If he went there to search for information after school, he should be able to obtain the answers he wanted.
Seeing Fang Ping’s relieved expression, Chen Fan reminded him kindly, “Although we can’t get admitted to martial sciences, we should not give up too. If we get good grades in social sciences, we can still become outstanding. We may have a chance to become martial artists in the future.
“The Gaokao is near, you should go there less often…”
Fang Ping nodded with a smile. As the other member of the Mediocre Duo, Chen Fan still showed concern for his deskmate although he was pretty quiet — both of them came from similar family backgrounds.
When the school bell finally rang after sitting through the few periods in the morning, Fang Ping walked out hurriedly.
He had a belly full of questions that needed to be answered.
Seeing his actions, Chen Fan caught up with him after a moment of consideration, and he asked, “Are you going out for food or to the Internet cafe?”
“You should return earlier. The first period in the afternoon is the class teacher’s.”
Fang Ping replied with an affirmative. In this time period, his parents were still working, so he always ate his lunch in fast food restaurants nearby instead of going home.
During his free time in the afternoon, compelled by his incessant urge to learn, he dashed to the Internet cafe immediately so that he could figure out the stuff he did not know.
Walking swiftly, Fang Ping glanced cursorily at his surroundings.
Everything was the same as it was in his memories. He saw nothing different in Sun City No.1 High School, his teachers and classmates showed nothing out of the ordinary, and he did not see anyone doing things like scaling walls or walking on ceilings.
If he really wanted to say that something was different, it would be the strange slogans and banners displayed everywhere in the school.
“Prepare for the Gaokao, Martial Sciences, here I come!”
“Give it my all and strive for Martial Sciences!”
“If you want to take the Martial Sciences Admission Examinations, come to Green Bird — Green Bird Martial Arts Supplementary Classes, your best choice!”
“One Vitality Pill, ensuring your admission to Martial Sciences!”
If it was not for the blatant display of those peculiar slogans in the school, Fang Ping would have good reason to believe that “mediums” and swindlers had infiltrated the school.
At this moment, judging from everyone’s nonchalant attitude toward those posters, Fang Ping understood that this was not the world he was used to after all.
As for how different this world was, he would have to figure everything out before he could make sure of it.
Ten minutes later, Fang Ping arrived in Blue Sky Internet Cafe not far from the school.
Its style and slogan were what he was familiar with.
The cafe, which had seemed grand to him in the past, was now dilapidated in his eyes. The four words “Blue Sky Internet Cafe” were almost impossible to read.
He stepped into the cafe. The person behind the counter near the entrance was still the familiar yet somewhat unfamiliar female employee, a young girl.
Fang Ping thought of his past, a time when his hormones went rampant. The employee who dressed more maturely than normal students had snuck into his dreams and committed unspeakable acts with him quite a few times.
Fang Ping came to the conclusion that his eyes definitely did not function well during his teenage years.
That was reasonable. If she was astronomically beautiful, would she merely be an employee in an Internet cafe?
He gave the girl a cursory glance. Fang Ping did not have the intention to pursue girls. If he did, girls of this caliber were not suited for high-and-mighty revenants.
When he thought of “Grandmaster Ma”, his confidence wilted instantly.
Revenants were indeed quite high-and-mighty, but they first had to be reincarnated into the right place!
After mulling those thoughts mentally, Fang Ping did not dally and went straight to the point. “I want a computer. How much for an hour?”
The female employee replied promptly and continued, “Are you a member? If you aren’t, then sign up for a membership; top up 50 bucks and get 10 free.”
Fang Ping, with his arrogant expression, did not bother to answer her.
Only giving out 10 bucks for free after a 50 bucks top-up… this is too stingy!
In addition… Which eye of yours decided that I look like someone who has 50 bucks?
During his morning classes, Fang Ping figured out how much he currently had: 28 bucks, no more, no less.
This sum of money included his lunch money, too. If he had wanted to top up 50 bucks, then he would have to be able to afford it first.
Disregarding the employee’s promotion pitch, he took out a 5 yuan bill from his pocket and slapped it on the table arrogantly.
Of course, the employee also ignored a poor student like him. She did not bother with him after tossing a temporary membership card to him.
Fang Ping had wanted to shout, “Don’t bully young men because they’re poor!” but then he considered the lowly status of Internet cafe employees — this should be saved for more important people. He did not fight with the employee and went to a corner with his membership card in hand.
In a corner in the Internet cafe.
After the computer fired up, Fang Ping searched for the information that he wanted to know eagerly.
The ominous blue light of the monitor made Fang Ping look quite scary.
If someone sat next to Fang Ping, they would sense his abnormal tendencies.
Sometimes, the expression on his face changed. Other times he looked furious or gritted his teeth menacingly.
Some swear words escaped his mouth sometimes; no one knew if he was cursing the universe or anyone else.
An hour or so later, the computer shut down automatically because his computer time was up.
Fang Ping did not intend to top up again, and so he walked out of the Internet cafe, somewhat lost and decisive at the same time.
The moment he stepped out of the Internet cafe, Fang Ping’s expression steeled, and he gritted his teeth. “I must enroll in martial sciences!”
As if that was not enough to prove his resolve, Fang Ping added, “I must take the martial sciences examinations!”