4 First step

Aron rose from the ground, his breathing turned ragged and laboured after an intense series of push-ups on the grassy expanse of the park. As he tried to steady his breathing, he began to jog, his movements smooth and effortless as he traversed across the verdant landscape.

With each stride he took, he felt the muscles of his legs come to life, his feet pounding the soft earth underneath them with a steady rhythm. The morning sun shone down on him, casting long shadows behind him as he ran through the open spaces, his senses attuned to the sights and sounds around him.

Despite the challenge of the workout he had just completed, Aron continued to press on, pushing himself harder and harder with each passing moment. His breathing grew deeper and more measured, his body was also working in a perfect harmony as he ran with the power and grace like that of an athlete in his prime.

And the young man continued to do so until a screen appeared in front of him. That was when he knew that his training had finally come to an end.


[Quest completed]

[Reward 100 SP]

After taking a few deep breaths, Aron gazed at his current balance of SPs, which showed that he had only managed to get 400 SP.

And knowing that even the cheapest item in the system's shop would cost about 85,000 SPs, it means that he will either have to run for a really very long time or he will need to utilize the knowledge taught by the system very effectively in order to compensate for the little points he would be earning from these daily quests.


Upon his return to his home, Aron found his mother watching tv.

"Are you done with your exercise?" asked Rose as she fiddled with the remote in her hands.

"Yeah, today took longer than usual because I had to rest halfway through my jogging."

Aron nodded as he stretched his hand towards the bottle of water.

"Not that I'm against it, but why did you start doing these exercises suddenly?"

Rose asked with a complex look in her eyes as she looked at her son with worry deep in her eyes.

"I needed to do something to vent out my stress, or I might just go crazy from all the overthinking. That's why I chose to start exercising because when I'm tired, I won't be able to think about any such complicated topics, saving me from some depressing thoughts," Aron answered, revealing only half of the truth and withholding the other half about it being the System's quest.

"Okay, you know that you can confide in me right?" Rose said softly, showing that she really was concerned about her son.

"Of Course Mom, I know it," Aron smiled at her as he placed the bottle back, knowing that he had a place to call home and a family to rely on.

And this was also the final push he needed to motivate himself to come to a decision to begin his first step on this long journey for a better future for himself and for his family.


Aron sat on a chair after coming out of the bathroom after taking a shower, after being drenched with sweat from the intense exercise.

He was contemplating how he should be using the knowledge he had acquired from the system. The reason he didn't copy the program word for word from the system was because the system was just way too ahead of the current time and it would be useless given the current internet infrastructure. He would need to dumb the current program down a bit in order for it to be able to work on the existing programs and sites.

And that was also why it had taken him a week to determine his approach on how to dumb the program while still retaining its core ability intact.

You can think of it being akin to translation works, and since the program given by the system was designed to be intended to check programs that were written in the year 2100 and later, Aron needed to translate the system and make it compatible so that it could be able to work with programs that were written even earlier than that time.

And so, his work began. Aron started writing his program slowly while making sure that his program was still capable of detecting all sorts of vulnerabilities that could be exploited by others and was also capable of listing them out in an understandable manner for the users or the developers.

While the program's first function alone was game-breaking, its second function offered one of the best ways among which he could use in order to double his income which he would be getting by only finding the weaknesses in those programs.

It took him two whole weeks to complete the program, but those two weeks did not go peacefully without any interruptions.

When he replied to the email from the scholarship department, they informed him that he would need to visit them for a meeting, so that they could discuss the repayment plan.

However, when he explained to them that currently, he wouldn't be able to visit them for the meeting, they sent him alternative plans from which he could choose one to begin his repayment.

The choices were:

1. Lump-sum payment

2. Installment plan

3. Income-driven repayment plan

Each option among these three had its own difficulties for him, albeit for different reasons.

When it came to a lump-sum payment, he didn't even have a fifth of the total amount, so for him to be able to choose this option even if he wanted to was simply out of the question.

The installment plan was presented with its own difficult ways since he will have to be paying it off in parts over a long period of time. However, this also comes with its challenges since the interest rate options that they gave him were way too high for him to even think of accepting.

As for the third option, he couldn't choose it either, because he simply didn't have any income at the moment for choosing this plan.

So Aron found himself caught between a rock, a hard and tough place.

But after contemplating for a long time and with the other side urging for him to give them a decision, Aron ended up choosing the lesser of the evils, which was the second option that came with a hefty interest rate of 15%

Still, he couldn't help but wonder whether someone was deliberately trying to bankrupt him.

Because when he signed the scholarship contract, there was a provision stating that in case of repayment of the grant needed to be repaid, the university had the liberty of choosing the interest of the payment plan which would be ranging between 2.5% and 15% annually.

However, when he inquired about this provision, Aron was told that even if repayment was going to be necessary, the amount of interest that the university would usually choose would always be under 5%.

Hell, even the highest interest rate given to a debaucher student was 9%. So what the hell did he do to be forced to pay it with 15%, which was the full amount of interest?

Who the FUCK did he piss off to be subjected to all this?

Although it was the lesser of the three evils, it didn't leave him with any better taste in his mouth. Because if he continued with this payment plan until the end, he would have to pay almost $1,239,000 in the span of 27 years by paying a monthly installment of $1000 which was all he could currently afford.

$1,239,000 – that was the total amount of money that he would have to pay due to the interest rate that will be accumulated for the period of over 27 years. I mean come on, who the fuck would do that to someone who was once their student?

Aron swore that once he had completed the program for detecting weaknesses in the systems, he would start with his university's system and hack the shit out of the whole university to find out who the fuck was the mastermind that had planned this for making his life miserable.

But since this was the only option that he was capable of paying right now, no matter if he will have to pay an exorbitant amount of money, he still ended up reluctantly choosing it while seething in anger and clenching his jaws hard.

The only silver lining in all of this was the fact that he had managed to schedule another meeting in two months, where he would be able to choose another option from those three. That also meant that he wouldn't begin his repayment plan until after the second meeting, giving him a two-month grace period.

So, now that he had two months' worth of time period, Aron knew that he needed to earn the amount of money within this period, lest he ended up having to pay a million-something bullshit dollars.

That's also why, the very moment he finished developing his weakness-finding program – BugZapper, Aron kept the promise he had made to himself and tested it on his university's system.

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