The metal bulkhead of the battleship was full of ridges and holes, and its exposed energy lines were badly damaged, constantly sputtering sparks. The cabin looked like it had experienced a fierce battle, where flames crackled and raged inside, and the ground was covered in the broken bodies of the crew members.
A group of warriors wearing full body armor carried energy guns around to examine the bodies, and whenever they found a survivor, they would fire.
The killed crew were all Rock Sprites, an older race with rough, tawny skin, an average height of about three meters, and covered in hair. Although they were made up of flesh and blood, they had naturally rock-solid skin and were good at uncovering rare ores. With their metal resources, they were a relatively powerful star system level civilization in the Sea of Star Spirits.
The uniforms of all the crew members had the symbol of their civilization, proving that this was a regular unit belonging to their official civilization. Yet, it was attacked, and the entire crew was annihilated.
At the very end of this battleship was a huge metallic warehouse door, and at this moment, the leader of the attackers stood in front of the closed warehouse door and took out a specialized tool to crack the code. The disc-shaped device was pressed on the operation panel of the door, and a high-frequency beep sounded.
The next instant, the door rang loudly and released its locks, slowly swinging open.
The leader strode in and saw hundreds of Evolutionary Totems neatly arranged in the warehouse.
"We've got the goods. Clean up and bring them back."
The people nodded in satisfaction, waving their hands as they brought their subordinates over.
The Rock Sprites had purchased a batch of Evolutionary Totems from the Black Star Army, and when this news was leaked, their attackers set an ambush, with the goal of snatching these Evolutionary Totems.
To be able to clear out the guards of a star system level civilization so easily… it was obviously not a small bandit group.
These attackers were also interstellar mercenaries, but their nature was different. Mercenaries were separated into three types: regular mercenaries registered under the Mercenary Alliance, such as the Black Star Army; independent mercenaries, who are not registered; and the last belonged to black market mercenaries, who worked to supply the galactic black market.
'Black Jobs' referred to criminal jobs that violated interstellar law, and these were normally posted only on the black market. They included looting, kidnapping, and assassination of officials. Black market mercenaries were usually criminals… In fact, the majority of people in the industry were originally wanted criminals.
This group of attackers belonged to a black market mercenary group that was one of the top organizations in the black market—the Blood Gold Organization.
The Blood Gold Organization was a black market mercenary group that operated around the Sea of Star Spirits, Ancient Star Desert, and Primeval Star River, and the whereabouts of its members, spaceships, and bases were kept secret. Their style of action was also low-key, which led to their exact size being a secret, but it was obviously a behemoth to be able to conduct business in three different star fields.
At the same time, the Blood Gold Organization was also one of the upper echelons in the black market.
Wherever there were controls for trade, there would exist black markets, which would continue to breed and eventually form a huge chain.
There were also different levels within a black market, distinguished by one's region and business scope. From planetary level to star systems to star fields, slowly increasing in scope until the highest level, which was the galactic black market that practically dominated all other black markets.
And this black market of the highest level knew how to make a fortune, or else they would not have given themselves the name 'galactic black market'. Those who did not do this might still think it was a term and not an actual organization.
Of course, not all independent black markets followed under the orders of the galactic black market, just like how some hooligans did not know who the kingpin of their underworld was.
The galactic black market was humongous, and its business covered the entire universe. There were always some civilizations that wished to obtain certain restricted technology and would turn to the black market. Thus, everyone turned a blind eye to its actions, which acted as a cover for it. The galactic black market also acted as a communication platform for a huge underworld society.
However, not all criminals existed for the sake of being evil; a large number were only in it for the benefits, so they also required order and credibility, and they required someone to formulate rules for them. Therefore, the administrators of the galactic black market came into being, with representatives from the mercenaries, intelligence organizations, smuggling trades, contraband production, and other gray industries.
The Blood Gold Organization was one of the administrators of the black market, and they were equivalent to one of the tyrants of the underworld.
The Fallen Ark was not an administrator of the black market, as the administrators typically fell on the Lawful Evil side. They also disliked EsGod, who was a Chaotic Evil. While both of them were criminal forces, they did not belong on the same side. After Fallen Ark fell apart, the Blood Gold Organization accepted a large number of criminals and helped them achieve re-employment.
An officer came to the side of the leader, and watching his subordinates carry away the Evolutionary Totems, he could not help but smirk.
"The price of the Evolutionary Totem on the black market is extremely high now. As far as I know, there are many civilizations that are secretly purchasing. How much do you think we can get if we swallow this batch?"
"Don't even think about it. This is what our employer wants, and our job is to deliver it. To think of swallowing the goods, are you thinking that you've lived too long?" The leader shook his head.
After a year and a half of sales, the business of the Evolutionary Totem had basically stabilized. Some civilizations that relied on the Federation of Light as well as the Arcane Church could not have a relationship with the Crimson Dynasty, and so, they could only start moving now.
No one had forgotten Black Star's battle records a year and a half ago, so the difficulty of stealing from the Black Star Army's spaceships was too high. As such, they aimed at the other organizations that transported the Evolutionary Totems, focusing on the civilizations that purchased them.
Because this violated Galaxy's laws, the black market mercenaries represented by the Blood Gold Organization now came in handy. The Evolutionary Totem was near priceless on the black market and always in short supply.
After stealing the Evolutionary Totems from the Rock Sprites, they destroyed the spaceship completely before they left.
In recent months, such scenes had taken place many times in various corners of the universe.
"Another buyer got robbed midway?"
Within his office in the Black Star Army headquarters, Han Xiao closed the player forums, looking at Sylvia's long-distance projection as he frowned.
"Yes, if we count the Rock Sprites, then there are already thirteen star system civilizations that have been robbed. Thousands of Evolutionary Totems have now appeared on the black market."
"Where did this happen?"
"Sea of Star Spirits. The identity of the robbers is unknown, and preliminary judgment points toward it being under the same organizations as the previous few."
Han Xiao stroked his chin. "Pay attention to the black market. If there are no Evolutionary Totems on the black market for some time, it should be the black market mercenaries. They usually hand things over to their employers."
"Teacher, do we need to deal with this problem?"
"No need to care. I'm not in charge of after-sales. Whether they can protect what they bought, it is not my problem… of course, if they choose to hire my machinery troops, then it would be a different problem." Han Xiao waved his hand. "What did the Rock Sprite tribe say?"
"They're hoping that you'll give him another batch?"
"Give? Not buy?"
"That's right. They know that the Evolutionary Totem has a low base cost, and they are unwilling to buy another batch at high costs, so they hope you can send them a batch. You also know that the Rock Sprites are direct with their words." Sylvia helplessly shrugged.
"Tell them that I don't run an insurance business. If they want to buy, they can buy another batch. There's no such thing as a replacement batch. This is a matter of principles."
Han Xiao shook his head. If he agreed to this, who knew if some civilization would choose the method of 'robbing oneself' to obtain a replacement. He would not do anything that would bring him a loss.
This sort of thing was hard to predict. There might be civilizations privately reaching agreements with other civilizations who were not close to the dynasty, indirectly helping them to purchase these Evolutionary Totems.
Moreover, Han Xiao did not mind the Evolutionary Totems being stolen. The more they were robbed, the more he would sell, and a larger market would help to ease the pressure off him. He was not losing money at this rate anyway.
The only problem would be the dynasty, not him. As long as it did not reach the Black Star Army side, he did not really care.
"Understood, I'll relay the message to them." Sylvia then switched off the projection.
Han Xiao spat out a sigh, leaning back in his chair as he pondered.
In the past year and a half, the Black Star Army had gradually stabilized and consolidated their businesses and operations. They had been developing well. His style of doing things was finally akin to a mechanic. He stayed at home to build machinery and expand his legion while his mechanical army went around to hoard missions for random rewards, using them to draw his Mission Completion Cards.
His experience reserve had also slowly accumulated, and a part of his accumulated Potential Points were used to upgrade his Ultimate Knowledges. During this period, he got his fifth Ultimate Knowledge, [Ultimate Mechanical Engineering], from the Dynasty for six thousand Contribution Points.
This knowledge was related to the manufacturing of machinery, greatly improving one's manufacturing technology and production line capacity. He also unlocked a large number of blueprints, giving him the talent of [Ultimate Manufacturer] as well as an ability [Inspirational Creation].
[Ultimate Manufacturer]'s effect was simple and practical, increasing the base performance of his machinery by 25 – 30%, as well as his production speed by 300 – 500%. Obviously, this was the talent needed for creating an explosive number of soldiers.
As for [Inspirational Creation], it was an inactive ability. The activation condition was for [Ultimate Mechanical Engineering] to achieve the max level of five. Its effect was to combine an unlimited number of blueprints in any combination to undergo Blueprint Refinement, creating new improved or merged blueprints. One could also choose advanced settings such as focusing on certain aspects such as attack or defense, which was more stable than random blueprints.
Levelling up this ability just needed experience… an ocean worth of experience.
For players who were unable to change their blueprints manually, this skill was akin to magic, but Han Xiao could improve his own blueprints, so this skill was not very useful. However, it was not completely worthless, as it had an irreplaceable role.
[Inspirational Creation] had a slight chance to synthesize the blueprints of Universal Treasures and was the only way for a Mechanic to create Gold Equipment!
Right now, Han Xiao possessed two Universal Treasures, but he would definitely not complain about having more. It was just that synthesizing a Universal Treasure was not that easy, as it was not like gambling for blueprints. There was no fixed combination, and even if two people combined the same blueprints, the synthesized final blueprint would still be different due to randomization.
In his previous life, there were players that indeed created Universal Treasure blueprints, but there were two problems with it. The first was that they did not disclose the combination, and the second… none of the blueprints were for Mechanics.
The prerequisites were too harsh, and there was basically no possibility of manufacturing it below the Beyond Grade A level, so many players could not even satisfy the prerequisites.
Thus, Han Xiao temporarily placed [Inspirational Creation] at the back of his mind. To even reach max level for [Ultimate Mechanical Engineering] required too many potential points, and while he had a large experience reserve, trying to synthesize the blueprint of a Universal Treasure would mean less experience in other areas, particularly since he needed to leave a reserve for during the version upgrade period. Thus, he did not dare waste his experience.
The overall situation in the Gulal Civil War had also been stabilized, and they were progressing step by step. There were no issues in the process as the Pioneer Party was about to taste the fruits of victory. However, the attention of the players had already shifted to the Pro League.
Because of the increase in players, the popularity of this version's Pro League had also risen, attracting much attention. This time, they were similarly separated into the nine major regions, and the schedule had already undergone fine tuning.
For example, the heats and qualifiers started earlier, allowing for ample time and enabling more players to participate in the Pro League. At the same time, this also allowed them to decide the wildcard quota, as well as the Pro League regular season list.
Han Xiao just watched the video of the qualifiers through the forums, appreciating the weird antics and idiocy of the players.
During the official competition, in addition to the ring, group, individual, and team survival battles, there would be three special battle types added.
The first was Capture the Flag, which was a free for all, and each player would be resurrected indefinitely. The winner would be decided by overall points.
The second would be a team dungeon game, where many teams would enter the same dungeon and challenge missions to earn points.
The last would be the survival game. Just like its name, it competed on which team could survive longer in the dungeon, which was also referred to by the players in his past life as the 'competition to see who could hold their pee back the longest'.
The competitive form was much richer this time round, and the goal of the Pro League was to enhance the competitiveness and interest in the players. The goal of adding the dungeon battles was also to attract more PVE players.
The rules of this Pro League were also much stricter, with a 'Prohibited Items List' being released. Not out of his expectations, the [Black Star Army Badge: Evolution] was placed at the top of the list!
The Black Star Army players did not feel much about it since everyone in their faction could use it, but the clubs in other star fields heaved a sigh of relief. This equipment was too overpowered, and if the Shattered Star Ring all had one in their hands, they could just directly admit defeat!
However, Han Xiao did not think that this was the reason. He believed that because the aberrations were too ugly, it would be easy to scare off the ladies…
If one was ugly, they would have no rights. What an accurate saying!
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