Chapter 1: White Grubs  

"1023, no, 1025—!"

Light flashed within the damp cave, and a silvery arc parted the jelly-like flesh of a white grub in half. The flesh evaporated into the air in a white mist.

The youth picked up the white half-orb that remained, wiped it off on his grubby hemp tunic, popped it straight into his mouth, chewed slightly, then swallowed woodenly.

[You successfully killed a white grub, but did not obtain a soulshard. For consuming the flesh of a white grub, you received no basic gene fragments.]

Zhang Lie: a mortal lifeform

Framework: Foundation, Lv. 10


Genes: Basic, 20

Soulshards: None

Have I consumed too much white-grub flesh??Zhang Lie wondered to himself.

In truth, it had been three months since Zhang Lie was last able to obtain gene fragments from white-grub flesh. Considering his current growth, white-grub flesh was nothing more than ordinary food, providing only basic energy and nutrients.

White grubs were the most basic of bug-type lifeforms. In fact, they were much like what the online games of the past would call 'slimes'. A single grub consisted of a soft core the color and consistency of white jade, surrounded by a layer of jelly-like flesh.

After three months of relentless slaughter, Zhang Lie was so familiar with their body structure that he could kill them with a careless wave of his sword.


As he glanced at the white grubs that filled the entire cave, Zhang Lie let out a huge sigh. "It's been three months since I reincarnated, but I still haven't managed a breakthrough with my foundation. And where am I supposed to find the superior-grade white grub that's rumored to be around here somewhere?"

Zhang Lie couldn't help but feel a little deflated as he inspected the warped blade of his sword. It was little more than a piece of scrap metal now. He'd swung it around thousands of times a day, so it was natural that it would warp—but, more importantly, the sword had been the cheapest one he could afford at the time.

It was nearing nighttime, and Zhang Lie had no choice but to return to the nearby settlement. The dimensional world was particularly dangerous at night.

At the start of the last century, the Milky Way had been beset by war and strife. Alien races had forced mankind into more and more hostile locales, but, just as all hope was lost, a series of mysterious portals was discovered within ancient ruins. Humans who passed through these portals would be transported into what would become known as the dimensional world.

Curiously, no electronics were usable in the dimensional world. Firearms, missiles, and even nuclear weapons simply stopped functioning. Amidst a bevy of lifeforms that had reached the peak of evolution and genetic enhancement, mankind became the lowest level on the food chain.

It was only when a lone hunter fortuitously slew a relatively weak beast that the secret of the dimensional world was revealed: as the will of the world was transmitted into his mind, his body underwent an earth-shattering change.


Humans quickly realized that, as they gathered more genetic fragments, their lifespan would increase. Thus began a new era, one dominated by genetic enhancement.

The Blacksteel settlement was a small-scale human settlement within the dimensional world, only a ten-minute walk from the white-grub cave. The imposing steel gates were criss-crossed with scars, a reminder of the strife and struggle that had been overcome since the settlement's founding.

As Zhang Lie stepped through the gates, he was immediately recognized by one of the teams of hunters resting near it and quickly welcomed with a bout of mocking laughter.

"Look who's here, the king of the dumps!"

"When I first entered the dimensional world, he was already at the bottom of the gene leaderboard—and he's been there all this time!" "If I were him, I wouldn't be so thick-skinned as to remain here."

"There's trash everywhere you go, isn't there? Maybe he'll still be at the bottom even when I'm fifty!"

"Fifty? Even if you lived to two hundred, nothing would change about this fellow's ranking!"

A skinny hunter turned to an attractive girl beside him. "Wang Xiaohua, I heard that you were childhood friends with this guy?"

Wang Xiaohua had lowered her head upon seeing him, her face flushed red with shame. Her teammate's callous remark instantly caused her to yell out, "Childhood friends? How could someone like me, Wang Xiaohua, ever favor such a trashy fellow?! It was just that my dad pitied them and was generous enough to let them stay in one of our lodgings—nothing to do with me, you hear?"

Zhang Lie scoffed to himself as he passed by, not saying a word in retaliation. There was no need for him to interact with fools. If a dog were to bite him, was he to bite back? Zhang Lie would probably work himself to death if he actually followed such a policy—after all, there were too many wild dogs roaming around the dimensional world.

He raised his head to the electronic screen set up in the middle of the settlement, the so-called "gene leaderboard" that the hunters had been discussing.

#1: Yun Bing, 12000 strength

#2: Chu Feng, 11950 strength

#3: Qin Xiao, 11900 strength

Hunters were ranked on the gene leaderboard based on the number of gene fragments and soulshards they possessed, which were directly correlated with their attack power.

At present, Zhang Lie might be the lowest of the low, but an ugly duckling would eventually undergo a metamorphosis. He didn't care about idle gossip; after all, as a reincarnator, he had a decisive advantage over any other hunter. His genetic enhancement plan had been perfectly optimized, and he was now only waiting for the chance opportunity that would be his first step to advancement.

He approached the point-conversion counter situated near the middle of the settlement and placed half the white-grub cores that he had gathered over the last three months within the metal box displayed prominently on it.

As the lid shut automatically, words appeared on the electronic screen before him. [For donating a thousand basic gene fragments, you received a thousand points.]

The settlement was constructed of a unique material that restored electronic functionality within the settlement, but fighting was strictly prohibited. Any offenders would be swiftly punished by the robotic guards hosted within the settlement.

Zhang Lie stored his remaining half of the white-grub cores in the settlement storehouse, an integral part of his future plan. "Craft me a C-grade steel blade, then convert the remaining points into money."

[A C-grade steel blade will cost 800 points. The remaining points will be converted into 20,000 dollars.] As the synthetic voice spoke, the lid of the box slid open once more, revealing a sword and a stack of red dollar notes.

Subsequently, he passed through the teleportation device and returned to the slums of the city of Ning. Technology had advanced to the point that each household would own a teleportation device, just as they would a television. At only a few hundred dollars each, they were relatively cheap.

Zhang Lie walked out to see a girl of flawless beauty quietly reading in a wheelchair. She evoked grace and purity with every action, as though she were a flower carefully cultivated by the heavens themselves. magic

As she heard the teleportation device activate, she raised her head and smiled beatifically. "Welcome home, Brother!"

Zhang Lie, usually cold and aloof, mirrored her smile. "How've you been?"

"Well, of course."

He caressed his sister's pale cheeks, and she nuzzled back like a small kitten.

Zhang Hanxiang was Zhang Lie's sister. Ever since their parents had gone missing, she and Zhang Lie had had to survive on their own. Her legs had been paralyzed from birth, but she was otherwise hale.

"Brother, let me warm you a meal."

"There's no need—it'd be inconvenient for you. I've already eaten in the dimensional world. Do you remember how long I've been gone?" Time flowed about ten times faster in the dimensional world.

"You've been gone for ten days, Brother."

"Where's Madam Zhao?"

"She's long since left. It's quite late at night, after all."

Zhang Lie nodded, then handed her a bundle of money. "Here's 8,000 dollars for this month's living expenses. Please pass it to Madam Zhao on my behalf."

Because it was inconvenient for his sister to move around, and because Zhang Lie had to hunt in the dimensional world for a living, he needed to find some sort of caretaker for his sister. He had reached out to his neighbor, Madam Zhao, for help: in this case, nothing more than bringing her food on a daily basis.

"It'll be your birthday in another six months or so. Is there anything you'd like as a present?"

"I don't need anything, Brother, except to remain at your side." She clasped her brother's palms within her own.

Even though the traces of a smile still hung on Zhang Lie's face, worry had crept into his eyes.

His sister would be turning 18 soon. By law, upon adulthood—upon reaching 18 years of age—she would have to enter the dimensional world. The dimensional world was filled with strife and death, and it wasn't something his pure, sheltered sister could get accustomed to, not to mention her inability to walk.

In his previous life, he hadn't managed to protect his sister, and had been forced to watch her tragic death. In this life, he swore he wouldn't repeat the same mistakes.

Of course, there were ways of bypassing the laws. Certain special-class citizens had the authority to prevent one of their direct relatives from having to hunt in the dimensional world. When he grew into his power, when he had enough authority to shield his sister from any harm that could befall her—only then could he bear the thought of his sister entering that cruel world.

At the dawn of the last century, the united world federation began segregating citizens based on the number of gene fragments they possessed. Those who had reached their basic gene capacity were standard citizens, with the benefits afforded to those of their rank; those who had reached their mutated gene capacity were first-class citizens; and those who had reached their superior gene capacity were special-class citizens.

Zhang Lie's gaze landed on the books stacked beside his sister's wheelchair. She was very fond of reading, and intended on becoming a researcher or author in the future. Their parents had only been standard citizens; in order for her to attend the best high schools, he would have to become a first-class citizen.

He had wasted too much time since his rebirth. When he entered the dimensional world tomorrow, if he remained unable to find the rumored superior-grade white grub within the damp cave, he would have no choice but to give up on his plan. Nothing was more important to him than his sister, after all.

Suddenly, a few knocks sounded from outside. Zhang Lie opened the door and found, to his surprise, Wang Xiaohua. Frowning, he asked, "Why are you here?"

In disgust, Wang Xiaohua replied, "Do you think I would come to a ramshackle place like this of my own volition?"

His sister pushed her wheelchair to Zhang Lie's side. "Long time no see, Sister Xiaohua."

Wang Xiaohua's gaze landed on Zhang Hanxiang's paralyzed legs, making no effort to hide her disdain. Her lips twisted in a mocking smile.

Zhang Lie narrowed his eyes. He didn't care what others thought of him, but he couldn't stand their contempt toward his sister. If not for their childhood friendship, Zhang Lie would already have made a move.

Wang Xiaohua harrumphed coldly. She pushed Zhang Lie aside and strode into the house, announcing scornfully, "What sort of unkempt mess is this? It's almost as bad as a pigsty! But of course I couldn't have expected any better from you, Zhang Lie."

Zhang Lie's features resolved into calm hostility. "If you're here only to mock our living conditions, then you're not welcome. Please leave immediately."

"As I've said, would I drag myself here without any reason? I'm here to reclaim this property."

Zhang Lie and Zhang Hanxiang both recoiled in shock.

Wang Xiaohua retrieved a sheaf of papers from her handbag. "I found a rental contract at home—and, guess what? It turns out that your rental period is almost up."

Zhang Lie took the proffered contract and scanned it, a frown gradually marring his face.

Wang Xiaohua smirked. "According to the contract, this property was leased to your family for eighteen years. Now that the eighteen years are up, it's time for you to vacate these premises."

. Wang Xiaohua (王小花) is the type of name you'd find for a female character in a grade schooler's essay, so you can clearly tell that she's doomed.

. Think Nunnally from Code Geass.