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"It wasn't a bad bargain, all things considered." After trying out the armor for a bit, Han Sen grew rather fond of it. Its properties were right up his alley, in how it masked the user inside and obscured their lifeforce. Its defense-boosting was remarkable.

Geno core armor was also defined differently than beast soul armor, and if you wanted to, you could use a set of each at the same time.

"I should really get to first place again. Maybe someone else will want to make a trade with me, too," Han Sen said to himself.

Before he returned, though, Han Sen took the time to plant the super spirit tree's seed in the garden. He used a single lifedrop from the black crystal on the tree, and watched as it immediately sprouted and began to grow.

One lifedrop was the equivalent of one year of growth, and he wondered how long such a tree might take to fully develop and bear fruit.

The next day, Han Sen returned to the Geno Core Storage and challenged Ghost Eye. When the panther received the challenge invite, he declined it and told Han Sen, "I gave you the seed in order to achieve first place. Why would I hand over this lofty seat so soon?"

The panther had never planned to give it back to Han Sen at all. And he had even gone so far as to get in touch with other spirits who were willing to trade with him for the first position instead.

The panther received another challenger's invite, which he accepted merrily.

It was a spirit that wished to buy his way to first place, too. The spirit was the sort with a fat wallet, and the panther was sure to walk away with wealth that would cover the losses he incurred to Han Sen, and then some.

Han Sen wasn't angry over the panther's rejection. In fact, he understood and laughed. "If you think you can avoid me forever by declining my challenge offers, you are a naive little brat."

Han Sen exited the Storage and summoned his Real Blood Geno Core for a re-entrance.

Upon re-entry, Han Sen used his Real Blood Geno Core to complete the ranking test.

The Real Blood Geno Core had absorbed twenty percent of the Black Crystal, an amount that was double what the others had. If that was any metric for the strength of this Geno Core, then it was sure to be even greater than his other cores.

Rockman's third eye scanned the geno core and began counting down from a dizzyingly high sum again. Inside a certain battleground elsewhere, the panther was engaged in a discussion with a spirit with red hair.

"So, you met the Crystal Core owner? What powers did he employ against you?" the red-haired spirit asked.

The panther gave a wry smile and answered, "I didn't beat him, actually. I spent a fortune to achieve first place instead. I didn't even get a look at his geno core."

"Were you able to tell if he was a spirit or a creature?" the red-haired spirit asked.

The panther said, "No, he was shrouded in a dark mist. I couldn't get a good look. If I knew these sort of things, I'd far sooner be auctioning the intel rather than this first place."


The spirit nodded, and he knew that if the panther had known what the Crystal Core's master looked like, he'd have put that information up for trade as well. It'd also work as a form of life insurance.

"The items you want are here. Take them and throw the fight," the spirit said, after summoning the items they had settled upon when forging a deal.

The panther's eyes suddenly lit up with an immense amount of greed. The items he was about to receive far outpriced what he had given to Han Sen. Things had turned out very well for the business-savvy feline.

But just as the panther moved forward to collect his prize, the ranking leaderboard shone brightly. It made the two figures freeze. Their trade had not yet been completed, so their ranks should not have yet switched.

But there was a change. All of a sudden, the panther found itself in second place. Taking his spot in first was a new geno core called Real Blood.

The panther was in disbelief. He knew the red-haired spirit's geno core was not called Real Blood, too, so why did the ranking move?

"Are you now in first place?" the panther asked the spirit, just in case.

"How dare you? What is this? Are you trying to scam me out of all this wealth?!" The red-haired spirit was suddenly brought to wrath, and he swung a fist at the panther.

The panther was far weaker than the spirit was, so he did his best to explain the situation rather than fight back. He pleaded, "I wouldn't dare scam you out of this stuff. See? I didn't touch your items. I didn't expect any of this to happen!"

Red Spirit God knew this had to be true, ultimately. Holding onto first place was silly, considering the wealth one could achieve by bargaining off the position. It was just bad timing, really.

The punch, more than anything, was to release the anger that had suddenly rushed through his heart. He had come very close to losing a fortune.

After suffering the blow, the panther was already coughing up blood, and with a wheezy voice, he rasped, "I know! It must have been another geno core that was able to reach first place again."

"Another one? So soon after Crystal Core? Gah! Who might it be this time?" Red Spirit God's face looked ill, and he suspected this might have been the case, as well.

The panther was upset, and he writhed around on the ground in sadness. He had come so close to receiving all the wealth laid out before him, but now, he couldn't take any of it. All he had received was a punch.

"This sucks! Why would a geno core suddenly appear and knock me off the leaderboard like that? What poor timing!" The panther was on the precipice of crying his eyes out.

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