The Guild 2.2

Alan awoke in darkness, breathing rapidly, jolted awake by- by something, he couldn’t tell what. His mind felt like it had been jump started, as the events of the previous few days raced through his head in rapid succession.

The Game. The battles. The tests. The warning. Alan blinked, shaking his head. That was… quite the way to wake up. Feeling fully alert, excited for the coming day, Alan glanced at the clock on his display. There were still a few hours left until the Titan approached the planet, so after performing a series of morning exercises Eve had planned out to strengthen his body, Alan decided to continue studying, leaving where he left off with Eve.

It was funny, in a way, that he was actually sort of excited to learn more about the Game. If Alan had spent half the time, half the effort he was putting into trying to become better at this game, he probably could have become a straight-A student or star athlete. Except, he’d just never really felt… the need, the motivation, the desire to do anything much in real life. It just seemed rather pointless. Yet, here he was in a virtual universe, more motivated than ever before. Of course, this virtual space effected the real world a great deal, but there was still this nagging doubt in the back of his mind.

All of this wasn’t real, after all. It might all simply be an elaborate hoax, maybe he went into the capsule and had never actually emerged, his mind simply creating this entire Game. Maybe it was all a lie, something to placate human-kind. Maybe- No, this never ending question of what if’s would get him nowhere. This world, this universe, was very much real, even if it was only a series of 1’s and 0’s stored somewhere somehow. Alan stood up, turning on the lights in the room, intent on absorbing as much knowledge as he could.

A few hours later, Alan was aboard a dropship, headed towards the planet of Khersath. He’d said a brief farewell to Thiago and the rest of his group. Things were still a bit tense between them, but at least they weren’t outright hostile. Alan didn’t think he’d see too much of Thiago any time soon. Kitana, on the other hand, had agreed to try out for the Black Rose guild along with Alan. Apparently the guild had a renowned arms master, or something.

Once the Titan was orbiting Khersath, Pharaoh sent Alan a somewhat cryptic message, letting Alan know that he was free to take a dropship to drop him off wherever he wanted to go on the planet, and that he’d be in touch. Pharaoh was definitely involved in human politics, somehow. The Titan was supposed to be an ambassador ship, after all. All these details and all these conversations seemed to blur in Alan’s mind though, as he was now focused on one thing, and one thing only. Khersath.

Using some of his new found knowledge, Alan opened up a screen that showed the shuttles descent from a cockpit perspective, and got a first glance at the planet itself. It was distinctly portioned, each quadrant appearing remarkably different, even from space. Almost half of the planet was the muted grey Alan had expected, the color of an endless number of buildings that spanned the planet, a single landmass, divided into the living and merchant quadrants. Another section of the planet seemed to compose of green land masses, small to medium continents as well as a smattering of islands, with a blue atmosphere. They looked natural, beautiful, almost like Earth from space. Alan assumed this was the private quadrant. A third part of the planet was hidden, blocked by a blue energy shield of some sort, most likely the military quadrant. A long queue of various specks Alan assumed to be spaceships were lined up outside this quadrant, waiting for clearance to enter. The central, final portion of Khersath lay beneath Alan, the Main Plaza, an open area of almost 250 square km, almost ten miles end to end, about a third the land area of New York City for a public square. At the center, Alan could barely make out the outline of a building of some sort. It’s size had to be unbelievable though for it to be visible from so far out in space.

As the shuttle continued to descend towards the Main Plaza it weaved into an unimaginable flow of traffic, cutting in and out of lane after lane of strange looking spaceships, flying contraptions, airborne creatures and unknown beings. Dumbfounded, Alan stared as what looked to be a dragon arched straight upwards, almost crashing right into the shuttle as another spaceship chased after it, shooting a barrage of red laser fire at it. The spaceship had some sort of cloaking enabled, making it difficult for Alan to see what it looked like. The pair were closely followed by a squadron of Administrator fighters, no doubt trying to keep the peace.

Alan watched the screen as the surface of the planet came closer and closer, their destination highlighted, a gigantic, 100-floor skyscraper located on the east side of the plaza in the residential quadrant. The building was of an indistinct, chaotic shape among a series of other just as humongous buildings, painted an aquatic blue. Up until now Alan had held back his sense of disbelief, thinking that the technology and abilities in this Game may be unlikely, but they weren’t implausible. Now, he had to wonder though. Was this all possible?

With a near infinite source of both energy and materials? With the capability to break fundamental laws of physics such as deleting unwanted items? With untold millennia to create, experiment and develop? Certainly such is possible, even expected.

Alright, um, good to know Eve.

The top portion of the building opened up, allowing the shuttle to enter into a hangar bay. A message popped up:

[You have now arrived on Khersath. The planet of Khersath is designated as a safe zone. Thus, should you die there will be no penalty unless you enter one of the areas deemed unsafe. You may not enter any unsafe area against your will. Any unjustified acts of violence or breaking of laws will be appropriately punished by the Administrators Guild, ranging from a simple fine to prolonged incarceration depending on the nature of your crime.

As a friendly reminder, most forms of public nudity and various obscene gestures are illegal, no matter the customs of your species. For a full listing of the 4,389 public decency laws on Khersath, please contact an Administrator. Have a nice day!]

Soon, the shuttle powered down, shutting off the display and opening its ramp, allowing Alan to disembark. Alan emerged to the now-accustomed sight of Haxlardian guards. These guards seemed to be remarkably better equipped and of much higher status than those above the Titan though. Each wore a blood red mask, in addition to dark crimson power armor with an emblem of a black mask engraved onto the front. One carried a gigantic laser sword best described as a warglaive, a double-ended glaive-polearm with condensed, fiery red energy as its blades instead of the traditional metal. The other carried a plain-looking laser rifle, but Alan was pretty sure the weapon was anything but plain. A light-blue masked Haxlard wearing light power armor stepped forward, holding a tablet of some sort.

“Welcome to the Haxlardian Embassy, Earthling, I hope you had a pleasant trip here. Is there any way I can be of assistance?”

“Um, actually, I was just hoping for directions to the Administrative Center.”

“Certainly, I’m sure one of our Crimson Guards would be happy to escort you.” The Haxlard gestured to one of the guards.

“I don’t really need an escort, just directions.”

“No, really, I insist. It’s the least we can do to assist our allies. As per our agreement with the United World Government, we would like to assist you as you get accustomed to the Game. Also, despite being a safe zone, Khersath is not as safe as you might think. Thieves and scoundrels are rampant in the streets.”

“Um, yeah, and I’d like to get outside and stretch my legs!” The Haxlard holding the warglaive spoke up and said. Despite his fearsome appearance, his voice sounded young, like a teenager.

“Oh, well, I guess I could use a bit of a guide, I don’t know too much about the city anyways,” Alan said, at Eve’s insistence. The so-called Crimson Guard would likely be a fountain of information.

“Wonderful, have a pleasant trip,” the blue-masked Haxlardian said. He pressed a few buttons on his tablet, then turned to approach another set of arrivals. The remaining Crimson Guard followed him as well.

“So, um, hey, I’m J-, I mean, um, I’m Red Death. The lift down is this way,” Red Death gestured towards the back of the hangar.

Grinning at the Haxlard’s name, Alan nodded, “I’m Alan, lead the way.”

Once they emerged from the building through a reception area, Alan stared blankly at his surroundings. In front of him was the public square, and with it were thousands of players of all sorts and size going about their business. A towering behemoth in a mechanized suit, small green plant-like men wearing dark green robes, and a group of figures in black armor levitating over the ground were but a few players that caught Alan’s interest. For the most part, though, everyone appeared to be surprisingly human, with slight differences in appearance. A more exotic skin color, a surprising appendage, a strange item of clothing or a difference in size was all that would set most apart from your ordinary human. A cosplayer from any large convention would fit right in with this crowd. No one would even take a second glance at them.

Everyone seemed to be either headed to the center of the plaza, towards the pyramid-shaped building looming in the distance, or back towards a different quadrant of Khersath. Numerous stalls were set up, full of merchants and players hawking their wares, from exotic foods to standard weaponry and ammo. Other than the designated spaces for merchants that were spread out every couple hundred feet or so, there was no main road or anything like that. Just open space, and the chaos of so many people doing whatever it was that they were doing. A hundred different sights, sounds and even smells assaulted Alan’s senses. Loud roars of spaceships overhead, the constant murmur of voices from an inhumanly deep baritone to an eerily angelic high-pitched chant, a battle between two miniature robots, a crowd betting on the outcome, a blur of movement to his left so fast by the time he looked it was gone, the scent of horrendous body odor which was quickly replaced by a whiff of an overpowering spice. It was overwhelming. Alan could barely process it all, and he could feel Eve was going haywire as she tried to analyze and categorize the entire environment to see if any might be a threat.

Alan realized he had stood, mouth agape, right at the entrance to the building for nearly 10 seconds, but Red Death didn’t seem to mind. Alan quickly stepped aside of the entrance to let a delivery through. Shaking his head, Alan tried to get his bearings.

“So, um, Red Death, where is the Administrative Center?”

“Huh, you don’t know? It’s that building right there, of course.”

Red Death pointed towards the center of the plaza, at the towering outline of the pyramid building Alan had seen from space. The building rose so high Alan couldn’t even see the top of it now that he was on the ground, as it was lost in a sea of clouds. Its base was simply massive as well. Alan estimated one side to be at least a few miles, as the entirety of the Golden Gate Bridge would span only about half the length.

Looking up, Alan stared at the sky for the first time. It felt strange, knowing that this planet was different from Earth, yet the sky looked similar, with an rising sun, white clouds, and blue atmosphere. The sun was too bright to directly stare at, but Alan was pretty sure it was yellow. Still, though, it would be interesting to see what the “skies” of the levels below-ground looked like. The number of people and structured here amazed Alan, but, if the globalnet was to be believed, this was but one level of hundreds. Unfortunately though Alan didn’t have time to sight see. He had things he needed to do, a trial to undertake. Looking at the time, he only had about five hours to do the errand, as it was around 6 a.m. local time. To Alan, though, it felt around noon. He blinked again, gazing about. He just realized it was so early in the morning, and if this was the crowd at 6 a.m…

“Um, alright, so, do we just walk there?” Alan asked. The building seemed pretty far away.

“Sure, or we could jog there. It’s a little over five miles from here, so it will take around two hours to walk, or a bit over an hour if we run.”

Once again, Alan silently thanked the Game’s translation functions, as it automatically translated units of measure as well as sayings and other small nuances.

“Um, are there any vehicles we could take? I have some stuff to do.”

Glancing at the map and quest marker, Alan saw the entrance to the Undercity was another two miles away from the Administrative Center, in the north east quadrant of the plaza, closest to the private quadrant of Khersath. The military quadrant was in the north west, while the living and merchant quarters, the part he was now at the outskirts of, were to the south.

“Unfortunately, the Administrators banned most private vehicles from the public square after a group of Revenants tried to use a few to take the central command point in the Administrative Center. You surely must know about this, right?” Red Death glanced at Alan. (Or at least that’s what Alan thought he did, it was hard to tell with the mask.)

“Uh right the…” Alan waited for Eve to supply him with an answer. He had asked her earlier about what a command point was, yet she hadn’t responded. He waited another second, then said, “Um, actually, I can’t recall.”

“You can’t recall the First Great Cyberwar!? It’s when the Revenants made their first move, you’re wearing their armor for god’s sake!”

“Uh, right, I haven’t had the chance to learn much history. Why don’t you tell me about it as we jog along?”

“Alright, well, I’m no expert of course, but, well I guess it began with the New Technology Law, but well, you wouldn’t know about that either would you? Well, I guess it’s sort of like…”

They set off at a jog towards the Administrative Center, Alan half paying attention to Red Death as he thought about what Eve had been teaching him. Most of Eve’s first lessons had been in the various types of classes and items in the game. She had moved on to different vehicles, and other things like military logistics. To be honest, almost none of what she was teaching him was at all about culture. It was pretty much just information that might help him in a battle. Of course, that was useful, but was Eve really prioritizing the correct things in her lessons? He supposed so. He could always learn more later.

As they ran along, passing by thousands of players, Alan tried to spot people with different classes. If he focused on one person, and they were in the public database he had gotten from the Thought Emporium, their level and class would pop up momentarily. In the Game, there were the traditional classes of an MMO: DPS, healer and tank, but there were a lot more specialized classes as well. Diplomats, pilots, engineers, scientists, merchants, laborers and such made up a lot of the players as well. His own class, a Rogue Machine Lord, was a sort of combination DPS and jack of all trades, at least from what he could tell so far. Eve would allow him to do things most others couldn’t quite easily, like pilot a ship, gather information or learn new skills. After a bit of thinking, Alan felt like this was probably his strong point at this place in the Game, his adaptability and fast reaction times. Once he got to the Administrative Center, he planned on purchasing skills that would increase his burst damage and help him get out of or avoid potentially sticky situations.

Running along, Alan felt surprised how good he felt. There was no way he would have become so fit in anyplace but the Game. Jogging along felt almost as easy as walking, although his stamina meter was slowly depleting at around 3/min, but that meant he could run at this pace for over an hour. He was getting used to almost always wearing the Revenant light power-armor too, despite the fact it was a bit more bulky than normal clothing. Still, regardless of the fact that the armor was made of an unknown metal and covered his entire body, it felt lightweight, like he was maybe wearing leather padding or a light Kevlar suit. Nowhere near as cumbersome as the full on power armor many players wore in the Game. Alan tried to get a better look at the gear other players were wearing as well.

According to Eve, items ranged from traditional sci-fi gadgetry, such as space marines in power armor with plasma/laser weapons and almost every variation thereof, to the more fantastical, almost magical items empowered or enchanted by psionic powers. A number of items combined scientific materials with psionic energy as well, although most forms of science and psionic ability were strangely incompatible. A surprisingly large number of players were wearing masks or helmets, often as a part of their power armor, hiding their faces. Additionally, most players had an emblem of some sort, similar to Red Death’s. Looking at a particularly elaborate green swirl, Eve finally answered Alan.

Capturing a command point is one of the mechanisms in the Game to take over territory. Shall I teach you more about the details of taking over a planet? I may have to suspend certain threat analytic processes, so please keep vigilant.

Um, alright.

Very well. Refiguring processes… Refiguration complete. Commencing lesson 34: The Capture System.

In the Game there are a series of Control Points in each area, also often referred to as Capture Points or Command Points or Objectives. Should you control a Control Point, you gain control of the surrounding area, which depends on the Control Point. Control can be held by an individual, but it is most often then attributed to a larger organization, a Guild, Government or other group. Most points are captured similarly to capture the flag, simply remaining in the area of the Control Point. However, Control Points often have boss class monsters defending them that must be defeated first. Players or machines or NPC’s may also be tasked with guarding a Control Point, and then receive a substantial boost in abilities while within the Control Point’s area.

Once a required number of Control Points are held by one group, an additional Control Point will appear, with varying levels of control attributed to the group. The levels of control are as follows: Plurality, holding the greatest number of points in an area, Majority, holding more than half of the points in an area, and Entirety, holding all control points in an area. The size of an area varies. Once you successfully capture a number of points in a smaller region, you can then move on to capturing a larger region. If you capture the towns of a surrounding city, you can then capture the city. Once you capture the cities of a country, you can capture the country. Once you capture the countries of a planet, you can then capture the planet. Once you capture the planets of a planetary system, you can capture the planetary system, and so on.

For instance, one Majority Control Point is the one that governs control of the planet-city of Khersath. It is located in the Administrative Center we are heading towards. The Administrator’s must also hold the majority of Control Points on Khersath, in addition to the Majority Control Point in order to hold onto majority control of the planet. If either this central Control Point or the majority of Control Points are lost by the Administrators, they will lose control of the planet. As majority controllers of the planet, the Administrators are able to implement and enforce a number of laws and taxes. The amount of control a group holds varies upon the level of control. Groups generally control the in-Game laws, and are only able to influence real world laws once they hold an Entirety Control Point and every Control Point in a given region. The United World Government currently has control over the entirety of Earth and has majority control of our solar system. A notable exception is that native, indigenous species of a given planet or solar system may govern the area’s real life laws and taxes while only holding a majority, rather than an entirety.

Most control points appear at points of interest, such as landmarks, places with large population density or places with valuable resources. For instance, a large asteroid might have a Control Point with a randomly generated mini-boss that must be captured before players are allowed to mine metal from the asteroid. Ship’s control points are often the bridge, or control room.

That concludes this basic introduction to the in-game Capture System. Further details on the Capture System will be found in lessons Attacking a Capture Point, Defending a Capture Point, Tactics: Controlling an Area and I’ve Captured a Capture Point, Now What?

Alan then proceeded to complete a number of mental quizzes and tasks, in addition to learning other details from Eve. Once finished, he looked around. It had been about half an hour and it looked like they were almost two-thirds of the way.

Looking ahead, he could finally see the Administrative Center in better detail. He had expected it to be in a boring office building, like a City Hall or a Department of Motor Vehicle. Instead, the enormous pyramid-shaped building could be the palace, or burial site, of a galactic emperor. The building was layered with sheets of black metal, with turrets and defensive shield generators located every few hundred feet. At the top of the building, Alan could see the outline of a cube shaped structure at the tip of the pyramid, but it was hard to make out, as it was nearly two miles up in the sky. Ahead Alan could already see two gigantic mechs guarding the front entrance, fifty foot tall armor plated machines of destruction, complete with an array of weapons and personal shields that could, according to Eve’s database, hold up even against an elite Predecessor. This main entrance was nearly four hundred feet tall and five hundred feet wide, but there were numerous side entrances that people were streaming out of and into as well. Scores of cyborg, machine and humanoid guards stood around the perimeter as well, wielding a number of different weapons, armors and insignias.

Unfortunately, however, even despite the size of the building, with its three mile length, it appeared there was still a queue to get in. Fortunately though, it appeared to be fairly orderly, with Administrators throughout the line moving people forward, asking questions, directing players to different lines and entrances. Alan begin to grow a bit worried. He had to make it to the Black Rose Docking Bay in another four hours, with a package, with no idea how far he had to go to get the package or where any of the places were. He might not have enough time at the Administrative Center.

Running a bit faster, Alan ran up to the end of the line that was snaking out of the main entrance. It was an orderly queue, with each party standing a few feet away from the next person in lane. Taking his place in line, Alan looked over at Red Death, and said, “Hey, thanks for bringing me here, I think I’ll be fine by myself here. Before you go though, can you answer a question? Why is everyone so orderly, staying a ways from each other? Even in this Main Plaza, with tens of thousands of people, everyone is staying a few feet apart. No one even bumped into me. Not that I’m complaining, of course, it’s rather nice.”

“Hmm? It’s generally considered common courtesy to stay at least a few feet away from other players, and is to prevent actions such as theft. As you’ve no doubt noticed, people have a number of insignias on their armor or weapons, to show their alliances, and to warn people not to mess with them. A few players are even so noteworthy their name and title will appear above their heads. You should generally steer clear of these people, as you don’t want to risk pissing a Named player off, and given the countless customs of players you’re more likely to piss someone off just being near them, either looking at them the wrong way or by not looking at them. Are you certain you’ll be okay alone?”

Alan nodded.

“Alright, it’s your choice. Honestly, given that you have no insignia and you’re wearing Revenant armor, most players are likely to consider you fairly suspicious, which might help you to a certain degree, or it might not. You should try to stick to the main streets and thoroughfares though.”

Alan hesitated, but Eve prompted him to ask the question.

“Um, right, except, well, what do you know about the Undercity?”

Red Death turned his head sharply towards Alan, then glanced about them.

“The Undercity? Why would you want to go there? I haven’t even been allowed there until I reach level 250 or meet… other requirements.”

“Um, just a bit curious, I read something about it on the Globalnet, that’s all.”

“Alright, well, my advice is to steer clear of that place. It’ll likely be a deathtrap for you. All sorts of gangs and pirates and even slavers hang out there. A single, low leveled player without even any guild or government to back you up would be easy pickings. Of course, you’d have to find an entrance first, and they’re rumored to be impossible to find.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have much of a choice. Alan thought. It looked like this simple task wasn’t going to be as simple as he hoped.

“Okay, I’ll definitely avoid the Undercity then. Thanks for your help.”

I definitely need to hide my level too, Then maybe other players will be more cautious…

Red Death saluted, then turned around, running back towards the Haxlard Embassy.

A few minutes later, Alan finally reached an Administrator directing players onwards.

“Greetings, player. How may we assist you today?”

Alan concentrated on the Administrator in front of him, forming a mental connection.

Well, I wanted to change my username, hide my level, and make other information private as well. I was also hoping to spend my ability points, peruse the vault, and also set my respawn point here.

The Administrator blinked.

Very well. Please follow me, Traveler.

The Administrator broke from the line of Administrators, another taking its place. Alan followed the Administrator, wondering what was happening. He didn’t notice any of the other players were being treated specially, maybe it was just a class perk. Perhaps sensing his confusion, the Administrator told him:

As an Chief Administrator is your mentor, your status has accordingly been upgraded. Given the various actions you wish to perform, I assumed you would want a private room for your transactions today. Is that acceptable?

Um, of course.

The Administrator deftly weaved in between the long lines of players standing outside, a few shooting envious or curious looks at Alan. Alan was led up a flight of stairs to the main entrance, guarded by the two mechs. Once inside, he could see long rows of Administrators assisting players. It was almost like a bank, with booths set up for privacy. Before he could get a better of look, the Administrator turned sharply, leading him into a corridor guarded by two small turrets and guards with laser swords. Within the corridor were a series of what appeared to be elevators. Alan followed the Administrator into one. Surprisingly, it appeared that it didn’t just move up, but sideways. A minute later, thoroughly lost after going up, sideways and down, the elevator stopped. Alan hoped he wouldn’t need to find his way outside.

The door opened, revealing a simple, plain looking room with a single Administrator and capsule. Alan stepped into the room, and the door to the elevator closed behind him, leaving him in this room without any doorways or windows, somewhere inside the vast labyrinth of the Administrative center.

Um, hello.

Greetings, how may I assist you today?

Alan then proceeded to change his username from AdamPwnage to just Alan, at least until he thought of something better, hide his information, and set his respawn point to this location. It all only cost 1250 credits, too. Alan then proceeded to purchase two main abilities.

Each class had distinct talent tress that branched off from specific paths. For example, for his Machine Lord class he could develop Eve as some sort of cyber weapon, to gather information and hack into secure networks or do whatever it was black hat hackers did in the Game. He could also try to develop Eve to the point so that she could control robots, a sort of Mecha Eve. Likewise for the Rogue class there were paths that were designed for assassinations, piloting, or a variety of other options. To unlock each talent tree, you had to purchase a central ability, which would cost 250 ability points, a hefty investment. Additionally, only one major ability could be active for any given class. Alan had decided on which two he wanted.

For the Machine Lord class, he selected Enhanced Control. It would enhance his ability to control his own mind and body, through Eve and his augmentations, which would be useful in a number of ways. For one thing, it would allow him to train faster and harder, as, despite everything that had happened, Alan was definitely still human. When exercising he could only handle so much pain, yet Eve believed he could push himself further without risk of injury. His body and mind just wouldn’t let him. This would help to break free of those bonds. The battles in the Survival Test had also been extraordinarily painful for Alan, and he wanted to mitigate that pain as much as possible, as he couldn’t imagine willingly going through such torture again, especially not when in a state where each second that passed felt like minutes. Additionally, it would be useful in masking his true intentions and presence. With enough practice, he would be able to control his heart rate and other factors that might lead to his detection or give him away when he lied. At least, that was the idea.

For the Rogue class, he chose the Jack of All Trades path. The ability was just like what it sounded. It would allow Alan to more easily gain and train new skills and abilities, and hopefully master them as well. Sure, the other options such as the Enhanced Stealth or Assassinate skills had more obvious, direct benefits, but Alan liked these choices. They would give him the greatest potential for growth.

His decision made, he spent the 500 ability points, opening up a series of additional abilities to unlock and train in. A few especially caught his attention. There was an ability in the Jack of All Trades path that would decrease the cost to purchase new abilities, but at the same time there was one that would further decrease the amount of time he’d need to spend to learn a skill. It would probably be better off only getting one. There was another ability that would reveal available combinations of abilities or hidden requirements to unlock skills, but Alan felt like this would probably be a waste of Ability Points. He could find the information online, and combinations of skills should be fairly straightforward, right? The Enhanced Control ability tree, on the other hand, was depressingly sparse. It appeared that Alan hadn’t met any of the requirements for the abilities on this path yet.

Then, they got to the point Alan was the most excited about.

I’d like to browse the contents of the Vault.

Very well.

The Vault. A collection of items that the Administrators traded for marks, rumored to be the largest and most varied collection of weapons, armor and vehicles gathered in the Game. These items were rumored to come from a variety of sources. They were items dropped by players due to death penalties, items taken from chaotic players that broke the laws in place, items developed by the Administrators or items bought by the Administrators. Each Administrative Center had its own vault, but the greatest and most expansive, where all the rarest items made their way, was here, in the Administrative Center at the center of Khersath. Alan needed a weapon, and he had one platinum mark, ten diamond and ten gold marks to spend.

Alan opened the list, and then sorted through the weapons in his price range. The weapons were surprisingly high-tiered, but considering his armor was worth 50k credits and a platinum mark was worth 100k, 200k if sold on the market rather than exchanged with the Administrators…

Unfortunately, a lot of the weapons which were rank B or above also hard a series of requirements, most of which Alan didn’t make. That seemed to be the story of the Game thus far. Combing through page after page of results with Eve, but hurrying as he still had the task to complete, Alan finally settled on an item. A highly modifiable pair of laser pistols, which, with the proper attachments, could be turned into a variety of weapons, including but not limited to a sniper rifle, plasma cannon or even laser sword. The laser pistols only came with the attachments required to turn them into a laser rifle, but Alan could gather the other components later. He also had already developed the basic energy weapon skills required to wield the weapon as well. The pistols themselves cost an entire platinum mark, and two diamond marks, while the rifle accessories cost three diamond marks, but Alan felt like it was a necessary investment. The Undercity didn’t sound like the kind of place he should go under-armed.

[Orion’s Cores (Rank B*):

Two powerful laser pistols with an enormous energy source capable of being transformed into a variety of weapons. Said to be the basic weapons of grunts in the Lords of Life’s army, these weapons eclipse most current technology. Accessories to Orion’s Cores may be dropped upon death, but the cores will not.

Estimated Damage/sec: 300-450

500 Energy, 1 Energy/shot, 50 Energy/min regen, 60 shots/min.
300/300 Durability each. Energy Ranged Weapons (Basic) required.

Dual Wielding: Ranged (Basic), Energy Efficiency (Basic) and Small Arms (Basic) recommend.]

[Orion’s Cores Rifle Attachment (Rank B+):

Combined with Orion’s Cores, forms a powerful laser rifle capable of firing astonishing bursts. Prone to overheat if fired for an extended amount of time.

Estimated Damage/sec 600-700

1000 Energy, 1 Energy/shot, 100 Energy/min regen, 400 shots/min.

Energy Efficiency (Basic), Energy Ranged Weapons (Intermediate) required.

Energy Efficiency (Intermediate) and Weapons Cooling mod recommended.]

The fact that the Cores wouldn’t be dropped either was a big plus too, as Alan wasn’t sure how often he might die in the Game.

Moments later, after Alan handed over the marks to the Administrator, the items popped out of a slot in the wall. Orion’s Cores were two sleek laser pistols made of a green-silver metal. They were completely devoid of any grooves or edges, simply curved weapons that appeared in a half-U shape. The rifle attachment was simply a larger U shaped weapon with two slot to put Orion’s Cores in. Thanking the Administrator for the help, Alan took an elevator back outside, ready to enter the Undercity.

3 comments on “The Guild 2.2

  1. Matt says:

    I’m really enjoying this series so far!


  2. eaglejarl says:

    Please stop doing massive unnecessary exposition dumps. Almost every time Eve talks she spends hundreds of words going on about some bit of worldbuilding that just doesn’t matter to the story, such as control points. The reader doesn’t need to know and many of us won’t care — bring it up when someone is in the process of conquering the planet, not when Alan is looking at a random building.

    Also, please stop giving Alan random power ups. Power needs to be EARNED or it’s boring. At this point I’m down to “oh, yay, another SuperAwesome widget. Skip forward a few hundred words to get past the gushing and back to story.”

    I was really looking forward to this chapter — Alan arrives on not!Trantor and goes into the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Undercity, where he has exciting fight scenes, tense negotiations, and terrifying chases through a burned-out, post-apocalyptic landscape as he desperately races the clock to complete his quest!

    Nope. Instead we got:

    * Alan looks out the window at a planet and gets an infodump.
    * Alan meets an Administrator and has a few moments of somewhat interesting social interaction
    * Alan looks at a crowd and a building. We get an impression of how massive and varied this city is and how much potential there is for adventure. This bit was good!
    * Ah, back to the exposition. Let’s talk about control points and how you conquer a planet, something completely irrelevant right now.
    * Alan has a completely robotic conversation with his escort in which the escort acts like a scripted NPC and shows no suspicion of Alan’s transparent lies
    * Alan stands in a queue despite being desperately short on time. Somehow, despite the queue being described as super long, he gets to the head quickly…so why was it even mentioned? It was built up as a challenge — “Alan doesn’t have time for the queue, so he has to find another way without falling afoul of unknown alien laws that carry unknown and dangerous conse…oh. No, he just stood in the line. Okay.”
    * Alan gets yet another unearned powerup

    This chapter, and most of its scenes, had tremendous potential, but unfortunately that potential was wasted. You have done a good job of setting up an interesting world with what feels like complex politics and background action. Unfortunately, you’re too excited about your worldbuilding and too desperate to make sure the readers knows every last bit of it. It’s okay to keep secrets.


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