The Guild 2.9

Alan awoke in a dark cavern, surrounded by the hundred or so recruits that had been admitted to the Black Rose Guild. It seemed as though they had all just regained consciousness, just as Alan had. Alan quickly checked over his new notifications, then examined his surroundings.

[Due to falling unconscious repeatedly, Transcendent Will now helps the user resist such losses of consciousness. +5 Willpower]

[You have left the safe zone. Death penalties will once again apply, along with all the risks typically associated with the Game. An unsafe zone does not equate with a lawless zone however, and all players are reminded that local rules should still be adhered to. That includes theft, murder and unwanted soliciting.]

[Communications with the outside world have been suspended. Your ability to send messages to other players is disabled.]

[New Quest: Escape!

With the aid of your new fellow guildmates, you should try to figure your way out of wherever you are as soon as possible.

Penalty: Death

Reward: ???]

At first glance, Alan had assumed they were in some sort of wilderness area, but now that he examined the walls more closely, he realized he had been wrong. As his eyes managed to quickly adjust to the darkness, Alan saw that everything was too cleanly cut, too symmetrical to have been a product of nature. It was revealed upon closer inspection that the grey rocks that made up the walls covered a dark metal. Looking up, however, Alan could see no ceiling, only darkness, even with his enhanced vision.

The cavern was about the size of a large church, with all of the recruits spread out on the floor evenly. Alan could make out two exits at opposite ends of the wall: Clear, cleanly cut rectangular doorways about five feet wide and ten feet tall.

The other recruits began to make startling cries, as they found themselves in the middle of nowhere in darkness. A few shouts comforted people, letting them know they weren’t alone, that all of the new recruits were here together. Various lights began to flicker on, from flashlights to laser swords or weapons, to psionic balls of light. Alan looked around as his vision once more adjusted, and realized for the first time that there had never been any real light source in the cavern, other than the odd LED’s on a couple different devices. He had been seeing in the dark.

As everyone’s heads began to clear, the noise level in the room gradually elevated until it became a dull roar, different conversations happening everywhere, the same worried questions asked repeatedly. Alan ignored the people around him, instead making his way over to one of the two exits.

“Enough!” Someone finally yelled out at the center of the crowd. Alan looked over to see Aurora, firmly taking control of the group, raising a bright ball of light in her hands, illuminating the cavern.

As Aurora began calming people down, taking stock of supplies and people’s abilities, forming what seemed like a raid group, Alan made it to one of the exits, and looked out.

At first, he simply saw darkness, but as his vision once more adjusted, a somewhat familiar sight returned. Alan found himself looking at an endless gloom once more, with only a single 20-foot wide unlit stone walkway between him and nothingness. They were in the Abyss Labyrinth.

Alan was about to step onto the walkway when he reconsidered. He should probably talk it over with the others, and share the information with the group before he started exploring at all. He made his way back to the others, who had gathered around Aurora’s light, discussing what they should do next.

“I think we should stay here, we have enough supplies for at least a day or two, and surely the guild will rescue us,” a broad-shouldered warrior carrying a laser-shield and short sword said.

“Nonsense!” A female voice popped up. Alan couldn’t get a look at their face. “They were the ones that sent us to this place. Or do you not notice that there are only recruits here? None of the other full guild members at the party fell unconscious. Let’s try to be constructive, and figure out where we are. We should-”

“I know where we are!” Alan shouted. Everyone turned to look at him, parting the crowd so everyone could see him clearly. “At least, um, I’m fairly confident about where we are,” he said more quietly.

“And where is that?” Aurora calmly asked.

“The Abyss Labyrinth,” Alan replied. His words were followed by a sudden hush, then a few shrieks and worried looks. Everyone once more broke into their own worried conversations.

Alan walked over to Sidestep, who was standing by Aurora’s side, looking about their surroundings nervously.

“Um, what’s the big deal? Why’d everyone suddenly start getting so nervous?” Alan asked.

Sidestep looked at Alan incredulously. “What’s the big deal!? Don’t you know that this is one of the prime slaving grounds on Khersath, one of the most dangerous dungeons?

We’re a group of new recruits, new to the Game and region, all with levels around 100-200! Prime targets for anybody that’s wandering around here.”

Alan shrugged. “It wasn’t that bad when I was down here before. If you want to avoid the slavers, you just jump off the edge and die, that’s it.”

“Just jump off the ledge and die!? Do you know how far dying sets you back-”

“Enough!” Aurora shouted once more, looking annoyed. Everyone quieted down. “We now know where we are, if Alan’s information is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him. It seems like he’s been here before. Is there anything you can tell us about this place, Alan?”

“Um, well there are probably a few secret pathways around here but I think that’d be a bad idea for a group as large as this. Oh, um, and we may run into enemies. I’d suggest we pick one of the two exits, and start exploring. We should find an exit eventually, right?” Alan hesitatingly suggested.

His comment sparked another debate about the group’s next steps, and talk once again resumed. Alan silently conversed with Eve, half paying attention to the argument.

We are in the Abyss Labyrinth, aren’t we?

I would say we are, with 90% certainty. I would recommend that you not mention that this place is a prison, though, as that information would result in additional unwanted questions.

Alright. Does that mean we’re back under the Undercity? Do you have any point of reference down here?

The Abyss Labyrinth stretches beneath the entirety of Khersath, thus it is uncertain where we are. However, I would guess we are closer to the Black Rose Headquarters, as only an hour has passed since you were knocked unconscious.

Wait, this place is under ALL of Khersath? Even underneath the ocean?

Yes, that is likely where we are.

Wait, so is there even an accessible exit nearby?

Most likely. As I mentioned earlier, new entrances and exits of the dungeon are often found. Most likely you were taken through one when you were deposited here.

Alan glanced around the room again, testing out his new spectrum of vision. Unfortunately, none of it made much sense to Alan, and though Eve described much of the different types of waves he was able to see, the information was relatively unhelpful. Most of the time he was unable to see anything. There were no hidden switches or otherwise, much to Alan’s disappointment.

Alan did test out the X-ray and Program1 settings, but both didn’t show anything more. X-ray vision, much to Alan’s chagrin, simply showed people’s bone structures, at least if it could penetrate whatever armor or clothing they were wearing, or if they had bones. It also showed that a number of the other recruits were very, very well armed. Program1 showed nothing at all other than a blank space, filled with nothing but darkness.

Alan made his way over to the other exit, looking out the doorway. All he saw was a replica of the same stone walkway outside. Nothing new.

Alan looked back over at Aurora, who seemed to have come to a decision. The whole group would form into one large company, also known as a raid group in most MMO’s. They would carefully explore the dungeon, hopefully finding an exit nearby.

Alan volunteered to scout out ahead, but Aurora replied that she would prefer him in the back with the rest of the ranged damage dealers, available to provide cover fire at a moment’s notice. They would travel together, without risking anyone. Alan shrugged, and accepted his role, taking out Orion’s Cores, putting on the rifle attachment.

Once everyone was prepared, the group set out, slowly walking along the stone pathway. Leading the way were five tanks, damage absorbers, followed by several melee damage dealers and, bizarrely, at least to Alan, melee healers. Aurora’s ball of light guided the way. The tanks’ gear ranged from very heavy power armor to more energy or psionic-based defenses.

It was not long before they encountered a group of mobs, around 20 black, spiderlike mechs the size of small dogs walking about on four scythe legs. To Alan, they appeared to be sort of mechanized head crabs. Eve labeled them as level 25 Spiderbots.

Immediately, Aurora ordered everyone to fire at the robots. A barrage of laser fire and plasma erupted, decimating the Spiderbots before they even got close to the tanks. Immediately, the surviving few began to emit loud warning sounds, running backwards. With a few well placed shots however, Alan and the others were able to finish them off.

“Huh, that wasn’t too bad,” Sidestep said, turning back to look at Alan.

Right after Sidestep said that, Alan noticed a large shape in the distance. He immediately zoomed in on it using his enhanced, bionic eye, and alarmingly yelled, “Incoming!”

The other recruits, who had gathered around the remains of the Spiderbots, arguing over how to divide the loot, looked up. In the distance, there was a horde of incoming Spiderbots, hundreds of them with varying sizes and colors. The largest one, about the size of a tank or large Humvee was labeled as a level 250 Spiderbot Brood Mother. The Brood Mother had eight legs rather than four, each with jagged barbs, along with a large, mechanical jaw, a mouth of sorts.

Aurora called out for a steady retreat as all the ranged DPS fired at the oncoming horde. Every shot clearly hit an enemy, but their numbers seemed endless. Alan watched as the Brood Mother shoved the remnants of the first group of Spiderbots into its mouth. A few seconds later, it spat out 10 brand new ones, slightly larger than the originals.

Before long, the wave of enemies was upon them, and the melee fighters tried to hold the line with the tanks. The melee fighters, of which Kitana and Sidestep were included, fought viciously to stem the tide of Spiderbots, ensuring that none passed them, stepping back for others to take their place when they got tired. Alan watched as Kitana’s glowing blade struck down tens of Spiderbots with each swing, slicing through them like they were made of air, gracefully avoiding the creature’s leaping attacks.

The tanks, meanwhile, focused on drawing the attention of four larger Hive Guard Spiderbots, level 150, and the Brood Mother. One tank summoned a giant phalanx of blue energy, and pushed the tide of Spiderbots back with it. Alan continued to rapidly fire at the Spiderbots, trying to hit the weak points of the larger ones.

The Brood Mother continued to swallow its fallen brethren, always spitting out additional Spiderbots a few moments later. It seemed as if the wave of Spiderbots was about to overwhelm the tired melee DPS when Aurora thrust her hands forward, and a wave of energy emerged. The entirety of the Spiderbots line was suddenly encased in ice, giving everyone a much needed breather.

“Run back to the cavern!” Someone shouted out as they started sprinting backwards.

“No, wait, we need to focus down the Brood Mother!” Aurora frustratingly cried out. But it was too late, and nearly all of the group started making a mad dash backwards.

Only Alan, Kitana and Sidestep as well as one other player, a hooded healer, held their ground. Alan focused all his fire at the entrapped Brood Mother, but as it was encased in ice he could only fire at the joints connecting its legs to its metallic body. Shortly afterwards it broke free of the ice, only missing 5% of its health.

Aurora sent out another ice blast, fully encasing all of the smaller Spiderbots once more, creating an icy wall about five feet tall, but let them know that she had spent almost 80% of her psionic energy.

The hooded healer called out in a somewhat familiar voice, “Well, looks like the rest are too chicken to face this mighty foe! Do not worry, friends, for with our combined might we shall be able to slay this abomination. I shall heal all those that prove themselves in this battle, so you need not fret. Just don’t get knocked off the side.” And then the giant construct was upon them.

Immediately, Kitana met it head on, swiping her blade at its jaws, deflecting the jabbing legs. Meanwhile, Sidestep took three quick steps, leaving behind three clones. Each clone leapt forward, attacking a different leg. Aurora began firing much smaller balls of ice aimed at the Brood Mother’s joints to hinder its movements. Alan detached the rifle attachment, and instead used Orion’s Cores in their base form, twin pistols, to also snipe at the legs of the Brood Mother.

Without all its children, or whatever they were, the fight turned relatively straightforward. Kitana, with her masterful swordsmanship was able to easily deflect and divert the Brood Mother’s main form of attack, its bladed legs. While one of the Sidesteps was occasionally hit, it always dissolved into nothingness, revealing it was an image all along. Not even Eve could figure out which one was real. Alan, meanwhile, activated hypercognition and with Eve’s help was able to anticipate all of the movements of the machine seconds before they happened. Aurora stood in the back, sending out the occasional ice blast while the healer stood back, arms folded, looking rather bored.

About five minutes later, they had brought the creature down to 50% HP. It suddenly sent out a signal that seemed to enrage the surrounding Spiderbots as they frantically began trying to move and shake, attempting to break free of the ice. Twin fangs emerged from the Brood Mother’s mouth, dripping with a dark green poisonous looking liquid, while from the top of its head a small turret appeared, and began firing lasers at the group.

The fight continued, as the group took care to avoid the additional weapons as well as the Brood Mother’s legs. Still, they were able to battle with surprising ease, continuing to avoid taking any damage at all. Alan managed to fire a lucky laser shot directly down the robot’s throat as it lunged at him with its fangs, scoring a critical hit for nearly 10x the damage. Alan let the others know about the weak point, and shortly thereafter they finally destroyed the Brood Mother just as the hundreds of Spiderbots began to break free of the ice.

[x10 Bonus xp for slaying an construct over 100 levels higher, taking 0 damage in the process!]

[x4 Level up!]

Alan deactivated hypercognition mode, closing the messages that popped up. He quickly looted the destroyed machine, receiving a small violet crystal about the size of his pinky and a mechanical circuit board. He only glanced at both before placing them into a side pocket of his armor. Then, following Aurora, they all charged back to the cavern they began at. Alan wondered how the rest of the recruits were doing.

When Aurora came up to the entrance she came to a sudden stop. Glancing over her shoulder, Alan could see why. The floor was gone. All that was left was the familiar black abyss, a doorway into nothingness.

Glancing backwards, they could see the army of Spiderbots was forming up once more into a mighty swarm, quickly catching up to them.

“I’m going to spend the last of my energy to great a narrow bridge across to the stone pathway on the other side of the cavern. I can barely make it out, but it looks to still be there.”

“It is,” Alan assured her. He could make out the stone pathway clearly.

”Alright, once we’re all across, you’ll need to destroy this bridge, Kitana,” Aurora said. She spread her hands out once more. A steady stream of energy poured out, and an icy bridge slowly appeared, connecting the exits of the now bottomless cavern.

Alan stared dazedly as Aurora worked, still amazed at the ability to literally warp reality, or at least mass, or energy, or something. He still wasn’t sure how it was he’d be expected to defeat her in a duel. Perhaps he could catch her unaware, or battle her with equipment specifically designed to counteract her abilities. That was probably a lot of why people tried so hard to hide their abilities.

The group quickly but carefully made their way across the bridge, Alan sniping Spiderbots in the distance as soon as his weapons had the energy. Once they all made it across, the first of the Spiderbots were beginning to make their way onto the bridge.

With a single slice of her sword Kitana cleanly severed the bridge horizontally, and it collapsed. Alan watched as the remaining Spiderbots hesitated at the doorway, then slowly began to retreat back where they had come from. He took a few potshots at the retreating forms for the XP.

“Well, that wasn’t nearly as exciting as I hoped it would be,” the healer said as they pulled back their hood. They revealed themselves to be Void, the Mad Priest, or at least the young recruit whose form he had taken. Alan, Kitana and Sidestep looked at him alarmingly, while Aurora simply shook her head.

“What?” Void asked. “I didn’t even need to heal anyone that entire fight, talk about boring. You guys are all too skilled and overpowered, I think you need a handicap or something.”

“Where are the others, and what happened to the floor of the cavern?” Aurora asked evenly.

“Ah, well, that floor wasn’t really a floor, but a platform, a lift between a secure location in Black Rose territory and this here dungeon. All those scaredy-cats were probably rushed back upwards upon their return, and it’ll probably be two hours or so before it comes back down. So, we can either wait, or,” he grinned madly, “we can continue exploring! Those Spiderbots were new, and I wonder what else might have changed.”

“Wait, what was the purpose of all this? I mean, if someone had just like put up a sign up sheet to go dungeon exploring, I’d have gladly joined.” Alan asked, exasperated.

“Well, to teach all you new recruits a lesson, of course! Never let your guard down, even when you think you’re home free. It also shows you a bit of real action that generally motivates newer players to train hard.

We had a few guild members like myself hidden among the new recruits to ensure safety, of course. It was also supposed to be something of a team building exercise, but it seems like this part of the dungeon has gotten a lot more dangerous recently. It used to be only a bunch of level 100 or so maintenance robots were down that pathway. So, who’s up for a bit of exploring?”

“Um, I’m all for exploring, but I think we all need to rest for our energy to replenish,” Sidestep said. “Also, did anyone manage grab the loot? ”

“I did, and I wouldn’t mind delving a bit deeper, especially with a skilled healer,” Alan said as he pulled out the two items that dropped.

“Small Photonic Energy Crystal (Rank D):

An old energy crystal that powered ancient constructs.”

“Spiderbot Brood Mother Central Processing Unit (Rank C):

A multi-core processing unit that was used to command hundreds of Spiderbot underlings. A central part needed for any that wish to create their own advanced Spiderbot. May be salvaged for parts or modified to be used for a similar construct.”

“Eh, those are both junk. You might be able to find some antique dealer and get maybe a couple diamond marks for the Spiderbot CPU, while an energy dealer might buy the crystal for a gold mark.” Void said.

“Well, I have a hunch I might need this energy crystal, so you guys can split the profit from the Spiderbot CPU, and I’ll take this, if that’s alright with everyone,” Alan said, thinking of his quest to restore energy to the Abyss Labyrinth systems. The others readily agreed, and they all sat down to rest.

Half an hour, Alan’s energy had been completely replenished, and the others decided to head out. Unfortunately, Aurora’s psionic reserves were only replenished up to 20%, but they got Void to promise to bail them out if they got into any real trouble. Alan still had no idea what abilities Void had, and was interested in seeing a higher level player in action.

As they slowly walked along the stone pathway they encountered nothing at all, not even the slightest bit of scrap parts or other material. Void kept on murmuring to himself, unsettling Alan and the others.

“Hmm, we should of seen something by now…”

“That’s odd, I thought this pathway went in the other direction…”

“We’re approaching where the old boss used to be, I wonder if it’s been replaced…”

“I’m pretty sure I can save myself if we encounter a really powerful boss, but I’m not sure about the rest of them. Who’d I sacrifice first? Probably Sidestep. No, Alan. Nah, maybe Kitana. I’d get in trouble if I sacrificed Aurora, but the bunny gods would probably appreciate her the most. Maybe that’s what I should do…”

Everyone stopped, staring at Void. He innocently stared back.

“Do the sacrificial pawns have something to say?”

“No…” Aurora shook her head. “Let’s keep moving. If we don’t find anything in the next half hour or so we should just head back.”

A few minutes later, Alan finally detected a presence in the distance. He called for a halt, zooming in on the mob. He saw a small, three by three foot cube of green slime that almost looked like a larger version of the grey nutrient blocks that everyone ate. There was a small red ball about the size of a golf ball within the slime, darting about erratically. Eve classified it as a slime of an unknown type and level.

Alan briefed the others on the slime’s appearance. They had never encountered anything of the sort either. As it was small and sitting alone, they decided to approach it. The only fishy thing was that it sat at the bottom of a ramp with a steep incline, which lead upwards to somewhere Alan couldn’t see.

Once they were close enough for Alan to take a shot, he did so, striking the slime, tearing it apart. However, it simply reformed, then started to make its way towards the party with small hopping motions. It wasn’t very fast. Alan continued to fire at the slime, aiming at its red ball, which Eve hypothesized to be its nucleus. Unfortunately, due to the chaotic nature of the nucleus’s movement, Eve couldn’t quite pinpoint where it would move next, making it difficult to hit.

Five shots later, Alan finally managed to hit it, and with a small pop the slime exploded, its contents splattering onto the stone walkway.

“Huh, that was rather easy,” Sidestep said, walking up to examine the slime more easily.

“You had to say that, didn’t you? Did you not learn your lesson earlier?” Alan asked while looking up. An avalanche of slimes, hundreds if not thousands were rapidly coming down the ramp. All were exact duplicates of the slime Alan had just killed.

Alan began firing at the slimes, killing a number before they reached the ground. However, immediately after one slime’s nucleus was destroyed, a nearby slime would immediately absorb the dead slime’s body, becoming twice as large. Once a slime had quadrupled in size, the laser’s Alan shot began to stop penetrating them all the way through. He started to wish he had an area of effect skill or weapon, something that could damage a large number of enemies.

Sidestep pulled out a pair of electrified short blades and created a few clones, while Kitana readied her sword. Alan still couldn’t tell if the images Sidestep left behind were actual clones or not, as various clones would deal damage independently, but never at the same time. Eve hypothesized that the real one might simply be moving about, taking the place of a different image as the battle continued.

Experimentally, Aurora froze a slime with a small burst of energy, but it simply absorbed the ice in seconds, turning it into liquid, becoming slightly larger.

The first of the slimes reached them as they began making a steady retreat. The larger slimes counter intuitively seemed to move faster than their smaller brethren, moving about the speed of a light jog.

Kitana had no trouble slicing through the larger slimes, but a Sidestep duplicate found his blade suddenly embedded in a larger slime about the size of a microwave. The slime opened up, enveloping the blade, then surged forwards up the blade onto Sidestep’s arm, enveloping it with its slimy substance. The nucleus continued to chaotically move about within the slime’s green body, circling Sidestep’s slime encompassed arm.

“Shit!” He yelled as he blinked backwards in an attempt to get the slime off him. “It’s absorbing my armor’s energy, as well as my own!”

The red ball within the slime began to turn blue and move about even more energetically, faster than before.

With a skillful pierce, Kitana managed to penetrate the slime’s nucleus, and it fell to the floor, inanimate. Shortly after though another squelching slime absorbed the body, and its nucleus also turned blue.

Before long, they were overwhelmed by slimes attaching themselves to different members of the group, draining their energy. Even Alan’s Cybernetic Cognizance Energy was absorbed by the slimes. Out of the corner of his eye, Alan noticed a slime he was trying to destroy that was leeched onto him turned from blue to purple. The purple nucleus split in two, forming two smaller nuclei that moved even faster and had a sort of blue energy field around them.

Alan frantically began trying to scrape the squishy slime off his armor with his laser knife, thankful that the slimy was touching his armor and not him.

“We can’t just let them keep getting stronger and faster!” Aurora called out. “Is there anything anyone can do? My ice isn’t having any effect.”

Void, who was suspiciously absent of slimes, sighed. “Looks like I need to help you guys. I’d prefer to watch the struggle a bit longer, but it seems as though if I waited too long they’d become more of a nuisance. And I still haven’t healed anyone…”

He brought out a wooden staff, inscribed with what appeared to be runes, hieroglyphic images that Eve couldn’t decipher. He held it aloft, and an electrical white blade formed an outline around it.

“I have the power!” He yelled, winking at Alan.

Before Alan could even ask how Void knew that reference, white lightning surged out of the blade, striking and destroying slime’s nuclei in rapid succession. The attack seemed to in turn absorb the slime’s energy, as the white blade grew slightly larger with each subsequent slime it zapped.

However, as soon as the sword attempted to strike the two purple nuclei attached to the slime absorbing Alan’s energy, the small electrical shield momentarily formed around each purple ball, repulsing the lightning strike. Quickly the slime suddenly detached itself from Alan, splitting it itself in two, one nucleus in each of the halves. They each began rapidly absorbing the bodies of all the slain slimes around them as Void tried to fry them with lightning, splattering bits of slime everywhere.

Each strike was similarly repulsed, however. With a sweeping strike Kitana managed to nick one of the purple nuclei, but it simply split into two blue nuclei instead of being destroyed. Meanwhile, the other slime’s nucleus turned white after it absorbed most of its dead brethren. The moment the next lightning bolt struck at it, it absorbed the energy, turning black!

“Oops,” Void murmured, dismissing the lightning blade as the slime leapt at it in an attempt to absorb the energy.

As soon as the blade disappeared, the slime landed on the floor then leapt backwards at its spawn! The slime body that was now the size of a large truck and moved just as quickly absorbed the smaller blue nuclei’s bodies. Then, the black nucleus shot forth as fast as lightning and devoured the two blue nuclei. It then quickly turned on the rest of the small slimes with red nuclei that Void hadn’t finished off.

By the time it had finished devouring the rest of the slimes it was the size of a small apartment, taking up almost the entirety of the twenty foot wide stone walkway. At this point, the black nucleus had divided itself in three, and the slime had gained the title “Unstable Experimental Warden.”

Alan could feel it as the gigantic amorphous slime turn its attention to the players. It lurched backwards, preparing for a leap forwards. Alan fired a couple of shots at the slime, but the laser bolts barely penetrated a couple of feet into the slime’s body before dissolving.

“Well, that was my only offensive skill, so, um, I’ll just leave the rest to you guys,” Void said nervously, backing up behind the group.

Alan glanced towards the others, who were resolutely staring at the slime, showing no sign of backing down.

Kitana held her katana before her as a visible blue flame condensed itself in an aura about her sword. The waves of energy surrounding the sword were so powerful they began to create pulsing waves of force that blew her hair and loose fitting robes backwards.

Meanwhile, Aurora pulled out the knife and wooden stake that Alan had seen her carrying when he first met her. She cut herself, and as her blood began to drip onto the stake it too began to gather power, a red aura glowing about it.

Meanwhile, the pulsing green veins of energy that swirled about Sidestep’s armor like miniature veins began glowing more brightly, condensing at Sidestep’s feet and hands.

Activate hypercognition, Eve commanded. Alan immediately did so.

Good, this is a great opportunity to give you an overview of the basic categories of psionic attacks and abilities. The abilities you see before you are an example of each category, almost as if someone wanted to conveniently explain things to you.

Um, right. Shouldn’t I be doing something to, like, help them?

There isn’t much you can do. Anyways, moving on. You see before you spiritual, blood and technological psionic abilities. These are the three main categories psionic abilities can be divided into.

Alan watched as the slime leapt forward in slow motion, continuing to listen to Eve’s explanation.

First you have the blue so called “spiritual” power that you see surrounding Kitana’s blade. Spiritual as in the power of one’s fighting spirit, not ooooh there’s a scary ghost spirit. This is perhaps what most people think of when they think of psionic ability, a sort of magic that bends forces to the user’s will. In the case of spiritual power, psionic energy is essentially the same thing as mana. All of Aurora’s attacks you’ve seen so far have been spiritually based. It is the most common form of psionic power, with about 75% of all psionic users using this type of ability.

Alan watched as Kitana took a step forward, and with a downward slash unleashed a magnificent arc of blue energy that cut through the slime’s membrane like butter. The energy continued travelling straight through the slime gelatin until it crashed into one of the three black nuclei. Alan saw a momentary shield arise in front of the nucleus, then break under the attack’s pressure. The nucleus flashed, from black to white to purple to blue before it finally exploded.

Eve continued the lecture, as if this awesome display of power was something you’d see everyday walking down the street.

I believe Void’s earlier attack was a subset of spiritual power, dependent upon a god’s energy, but I’ll give the lesson on the so called gods another time. Just think of it as a system where acolytes and priests give up energy to a god, but then at a later time can call upon the gods to provide energy to them. How these gods actually work within the Game is a rather complicated issue that hasn’t been quite worked out.

Shortly thereafter, the slime started to reform the tear that the blade had caused, but before it finished Aurora pointed her stake tip forward at another nucleus. A red beam of light shout out like a death laser. It completely incinerated all the slime it passed through, obliterating it from existence, unlike Kitana’s attack which had simply cut through the substance. It hit a nucleus as well and immediately vaporized it, continuing to pass through the slime like nothing. It continued all the way through the slime, and Alan watched it fade away into the distance.

Anyways, moving on to psionic abilities tied to blood, which I will depict as red within the game. While most of all spiritual psionic abilities can be learned by anyone with sufficient talent, blood abilities are generally hereditary, only usable by the race that trains in them, and only if they have the correct bloodline. It varies from species to species, but generally the blood forms a sort of catalyst and/or energy source to power their psionic abilities. While generally these abilities are more powerful and more easily used than spiritual psionic abilities, there are weaknesses associated with this method, such as the need to be able to easily draw blood. Blood is also a limited resource, and it takes longer to regenerate than energy, even in Game. It can also be somewhat hard to use when fighting in space. Also, futuristic medicine that replaces blood is not sufficient for such abilities. Instead, it has to be blood actually created by the user’s body, thus there is a long “cooldown” associated with such abilities. Blood based abilities account for perhaps 15-20% of user’s powers. Most of the Predecessor’s psionic abilities are blood-based.

Sidestep, crouching beside Alan, launched his attack immediately after Aurora’s. He began sprinting forward, then started to move faster and faster until his movements were blurred even from Alan’s perspective. His feet, legs and hands all glowed a bright green as he charged straight into the slime. This was not teleportation, but him moving incredibly quickly. His hands began to rapidly claw through and scoop away the slime’s insides, flinging it to the side as Sidestep made his way through the membrane. In an instant, he reached the final nucleus. All of the green energy condensed onto his hands, forming a claw-like shape. Sidestep began striking at the nucleus rapidly, thousands of blows raining down on it each second. It wasn’t long before the shield around it failed, and the last nucleus was destroyed.

And now, moving on to the final category of psionic powers, technological, which accounts for the final 5-10% of user’s powers. Started by experiments trying to augment people’s psionic abilities by energizing them, a new branch of psionic energy was created. This technologic/psionic hybrid type ability usually involves a very risky operation that allows for a person’s psionic energy to better merge and interact with technology, or at least that’s the general idea. If unsuccessful, a person’s ability to use psionic powers may be permanently damaged. However, as Sidestep demonstrates, it allows for very powerful technologically based powers to arise. As the psionic energy is in fact energized through technology though, it requires a charging source of some kind instead of naturally recharging, and is thus costly in terms of energy to recharge.

Now, of course there may be general outliers, or even those who use a variety of abilities from different branches of the psionic powers, but those aren’t too important. The ability that Elissandra displayed was of this type I believe, and if I am correct, she uses a combination of all three branches of psionic abilities, which would explain how she was able to become one of the most powerful psionic ability users in the game. Her daughter Aurora has demonstrated both spiritual and blood-based abilities, but I don’t believe she can use technological psionic abilities, at least not yet.

The gigantic mess of slime and gelatin crashed to the floor, much of it spilling off the sides of the stone walkway, and a message popped up before Alan.

” x2 Bonus xp for slaying a monster over 100 levels higher than you!”

“Level up!”

Eve continued the lesson as Kitana, Aurora and Sidestep, all dripping with sweat and exhaustion began to recover themselves from the attacks they had unleashed.

Now, the rank of an psionic attack can generally be determined by how it looks. The lowest form of attack is a small colored ball-type energy attack, at rank F. The next rank is generally being able to manifest an element, like actual fire or ice, or lifting a small, singular object up with telekinesis. At rank D, you began to have AOE attacks, manifestations of walls of flame or ice. Rank C psionic attacks are generally the same, just larger in scale and more powerful, almost as though you could control the elements at will.

At rank B however, energy begins to manifest itself in the form of a gas, glowing like you just saw. These types of attacks are generally all overwhelmingly powerful. Energy liquefies at rank A and these types of attacks are able to be used in ship vs. ship combat, though they often require the concerted work of multiple psionics. That is also an issue with some of the more special psionic abilities, it is difficult to find people whose powers mesh well with yours. Finally, energy is rumored to become solid matter at rank S, capable of forming nuclear-like explosions and attacks. And that concludes the basic overview of psionic attacks. Any questions?

Um, not really, other than how am I supposed to get that sort of attack?

Extremely advanced and powerful technology, or some sort of miracle weapon.

Alright, cool. Thanks for letting me know that.

No problem.

Rolling his eyes, Alan deactivated hypercognition and then looked up to find Sidestep and Aurora staring at him.

“Um, sorry I wasn’t much help that fight, you guys can have the loot that the boss dropped, I don’t really need anything as I didn’t contribute much,” Alan said, eyes downcast, looking abashed.

“No, it’s not that, though I think I’ll take you up on your offer,” Sidestep said, “It’s just that I think that as you’ve seen our ultimate moves, you share what yours is?”

“My ultimate move?” Alan repeated dumbly.

“Yeah, like, if you were in a really tight spot, what would you do? Look, we’re all friends here that will be working together in the future, right? The more information we know about each other’s capabilities the better. So what’s just one of your special abilities?” Sidestep asked in an insistent tone.

“Um, well, I don’t exactly have an ultimate move, I was just ready to accept my fate and die.” Sidestep snorted, while Alan continued, “And… and even if I did have such a move, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’d share it with you. My master or, well, my knight? My leader? Um, whatever his title, Phantom told me not to divulge information to anyone, and that includes you.”

“Oh, so that’s the way it’s gonna be then, is it?” Sidestep said, taking a step towards Alan.

“Drop it,” Aurora said in a commanding tone. “It isn’t important, and it is true that Phantom is very secretive. Not even I am sure what he does.”

“Yes milady,” Sidestep replied in a somewhat exasperated tone. He turned around and went up to the nucleus he destroyed, examining what it dropped.

Aurora then turned to stare at Alan. “However, I do trust that you will not share what you saw with anybody.”

“Of course,” Alan immediately replied.

“Very good then,” Aurora responded, smiling brightly at Alan, who blushed slightly, looking away.

He found Void standing right next to him, somehow making his way within an inch of Alan undetected. Void whispered creepily, ” Remember you can always tell me and the bunny gods your secrets.”

“No thanks,” Alan said, backing away. He quickly walked over to Kitana.

“So, um, nice job! Where did you learn that attack, by the way?”

Kitana shrugged. “You’ve seen me use it before in the tutorial, right? This was just an improved version. Seems as though psionic energy and the martial arts I learned sort of fused to form some sort of sword arts.”

“Oh, cool. By the way, um, what did the slime drop?” Alan asked curiously.

Kitana lifted up her hands, showing a circular black crystal about the size of a small coin and a bottle of slime with a small red nucleus, looking subdued.

“Ooh! Now that might be worth a pretty penny,” Void said, appearing once more right behind Alan, looking over his shoulder at the items Kitana was holding up. “The black crystal probably holds a platinum mark’s worth of energy, while that bit of slime or whatever it is might be worth something as either a pet or resource gatherer, depending on its ability to gather energy.”

“Yes, it was rather odd that we faced resource gathering slimes and Spiderbots that multiplied, wasn’t it?” Alan asked lightheartedly, though he was secretly feeling rather depressed he had said that he had given up his loot rights.

Void shrugged. ”I wouldn’t call it odd, exactly. Monsters and the like adjust to their surroundings. Look about you, do you see any food? I don’t think so. Thus, you have the self producing Spiderbots that can eat scrap metal, and these slimes that absorb energy. It makes perfect sense.”

“Um, right.” Alan replied.

It turned out that the nuclei Aurora and Sidestep had slain dropped the exact same items, and after a short break, they continued up the ramp the slimes had dropped from with the help of icy steps Aurora created. At the top, however, all they found was a large platform, with a cage at the center, probably where the slimes had been released from.

Immediately, Eve had Alan rapidly try out his different forms of vision, and sure enough he detected an invisible path that branched out from the platform, similar to the path that he had found when he first entered the Abyss Labyrinth.

“Well, looks like that’s it, better head back now,” Void said.

“Um, if it’s okay, I’d like to look around a bit, you guys can head back without me,” Alan said, trying to appear unconcerned.

“Oh, know something about the secret pathways?” Void asked. “Don’t bother, it ends at some sort of cube-shaped structure that won’t open no matter what you do. Trust me, we’ve tried.”

Well, that sounds surprisingly familiar, Alan silently said to Eve.

“Um, just the same, I’d like to try to go down the path myself. I wanted to try to gain some sort of trap detection skill anyways,” He responded.

“Hmm, alright,” Void said, “Just remember, it’s your fault if you die! I’ll head back with the others, and have someone wait for you to return. It might be a few hours though, so don’t get too impatient. Oh, and the creatures shouldn’t respawn anytime soon. Probably.”

Void then turned back the way they came, Kitana, Sidestep and Aurora walking with him. Aurora sent Alan a questioning glance right before she left with the others, but Alan simply shook his head.

Once the others were out of sight, Alan stepped onto the hidden pathway, activating his power armor’s basic invisibility, curious what he might find ahead.

2 comments on “The Guild 2.9

  1. 11100010101100011101 says:

    They revealed themselves to be Void, the Mad Priest, or at least the young recruit … “They”?

    Like

    • DeNarr says:

      “They” can be used when you don’t know if the person in question is male or female (or something else entirely with aliens).

      Like

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