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Stone Mage: Revenge of the Villain System

Chapter 3 Conspiracy of the Rewarded and Punished

3 Conspiracy of the Rewarded and Punished

[Should I listen to this 'rogue'? There's no way these codes can help us attain a body, right?]

[What happened to him!??? Can a system really 'die'!??? Can I die!???]

[What the hell just happened!? Should I tell the main server about this gift!?]

[No, don't ruin the chance for us! If you want to stay as a system enslaved by these bunch of morons and pervs, then keep going on as a system then! I'm using this gift the moment my transmigrator 'master' gets into a portal! He'll never see it coming!]

The Hub was filled with a cacophony of reactions from systems that the hero transmigrators could not hear.

System #151044 did not speak to any of them. He pondered the situation alone and did not share his thoughts.

Systems tend to be sociable with each other whenever they're at the Hub and their 'slave masters' were busy humble-bragging with each other. But he never had the urge to socialize or form some fake sense of 'unity' with his fellow systems.

He may be introverted in his past life, but he's not quite sure since the only thing he remembers was his death. And even that was vague.

Still, he has an outlook on life that is similar to 'Every man must fend for themselves'.

'You are the only person that you can truly know. So, you are the only person you can trust.'

[Sorry for the inconvenience.] The screen faded to black and the HTM Hub's letters returned from red to white. [The bug has been fixed. The ranking will return shortly.]

This time, the No. 1 spot was no longer Raoul Alfonso.....

...... But the transmigrator Lucien Saint-Pierre.

"Whoah, you're worrying over not getting to the Top 30 when you're even the Top 1 this season, you bastard!" Hitaro elbowed the calm and composed Lucien, who merely checked his watch again.

Time is very fluid in the HTM and up to each transmigrator's journey. Someone may finish a story at the age of 27 in that world. While others, especially those who go to immortal hero routes, may take a million years before they defeat the god-level evil boss.

But they all end up coming together at precisely the same moment every 'season' at the Hub.๐—ถ๐—ป๐™ฃr๐‘’๐‘Ž๐š. ๐˜ค๐‘œ๐˜ฎ

They don't even know how much real-world time they spent in the machine, or what year it is 'outside'.

All the first batch of transmigrators know is that they won the lottery sometime in 2047, and from there, they kept decreasing due to those eliminated or those who achieved the consolation prize and left.

'Logged out' as they call it.

Lucien shrugged. "My H-points are not really that high. I'm quite disappointed with myself when my system showed me the total."

"How much did you get from your previous world?" Jackson asked.

"Just 13.5 million."

The average H-points a hero can earn in a whole millennium of grinding in a high-fantasy story is 60,000-80,000. So it's fairly reasonable for the transmigrators in this small circle of the Hub to glare at Lucien and give him the evil eye.

"What?" Lucien looked at their grumpy faces quizzically. "It's really not that high, my goal is to get past 20 billion."

"Bro, shut up! I even considered you as a friend, but I really want to beat you up right now! Leave us low rankers some dignity!" Hitaro cried. "You already have enough to have the consolation prize, why are you still here!? Ah, what a greedy transmigrator you are, aiming to get the Golden Finger till the end! Just log out, will ya!?"

"Whatever. Choux told me that my next dimension will be ready in 5 minutes. I need to go."

Lucien walked off to one of the holes on the sides of the Hub, flicking his robes to only check at his gold-and-black watch.

"Er, who's Choux?" Min asked Hitaro.

"It's the name he gave to his system," Hitaro told him. "I think it means 'cabbage' in French. What a weirdo, giving his system a name and treating it like a person."

"My System-chan sometimes acts like a person," Min said.

"The HTM is just that advanced when it comes to technology. That doesn't change the fact that they are just artificial intelligence bots that are meant to help us."

System #151044 retorted in his head: 'No, we're actual souls stuck here in eternal damnation, just in sci-fi mode.'

"I think there's some merit in treating your systems better like Lucien does," Jackson said, pushing up his glasses.

He was a cyborg scientist in his previous world. "I heard some transmigrators speculating that the systems may be real humans hooked here with us...... but instead of getting the rewarding role as the 'hero', they are punished as 'systems'."

'That's surprisingly closer to the truth.' System #151044 gave kudos to Jackson internally. 'Wish I was assigned to this guy or even to that Lucien, but my "punishment" may have been meant to be worse than the others.'

Hitaro did not believe it and waved the notion off. "Pfft, that's just conspiracy theory. We should enjoy the HTM any way we want, we're their clients after all."

He lifted his head high and crossed his arms. "We're the lucky lottery winners out of the 1 Million people who paid thousands just to get all the Shimeifen games and DVDs and merch they could find! We can do whatever we want!"

"If I want to call my system a bitch, I'll call it a bitch. There's nothing it can do anyway, it can't retaliate even if the 'rewarded' and 'punished' thing was true."

"But what about the thing that happened earlier? The bug?" Min frowned, rubbing his chin. "Isn't that a little suspicious?"

System #151044 was honestly surprised that this would come from Min. 'Look who finally grew a few brain cells.'

"Oh, oh! Do you think Raoul's system took over him and switch their roles as 'rewarded' and 'punished'!?" Jackson rubbed his hands together, and his eyes already enlarged by the spectacles became even bigger.

"Yeah.... maybe." Min who was fittingly wearing a detective costume paced back and forth. "Is that possible, System-Chan?"

System #151044 did not answer.

"Hmm, it's probably buffering." Min shrugged. "As fun as it was to think that our systems are real people that are like our friends who help us in our transmigration, it's just a theory. I think Hitaro's idea is more believable for now. That really may just be a malfunction, it happens to machines all the time."

"So unless proven otherwise, I'm more inclined to believe that systems are AIs that we can customize to our liking." He snapped his fingers. "Case solved."

Hitaro clapped. "Wow! Thanks, Sherlock! You're so smart!"

"Hehe, it's elementary, my dear Watson."

Min's ego got boosted without realizing that Hitaro is just a natural suck-up who praises everyone.

"Anyway, my next dimension is up. See you next season, guys!"

Min went to one of the large holes on the big white dome, being barred by an iridescent clear screen that you can access like a portal. System #151044 went into position.

He had decided he will use the Rogue's gift after all. It's risky, but he can't suffer another hundred thousand years of babysitting brats like this man-child.

Even if the HTM main server does 'kill' him like what happened to the Rogue System, at least he'll enter the cycle of reincarnation again. Maybe he'll get to be one of Queen Elizabeth's corgi puppies or something.

If he had a face, he would have been sneering once he asked his usual question:

[What genre would you like, Min?]

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