The Academy 3.9

All of the Red Tyrant’s leads were dead ends. The guards saw nothing, the site of attack had nothing and the instructor knew nothing. Frustrated, Alan flicked through his quest log.

There are two events which require our immediate attention, Eve sent.

And they are?

Returning to Null Point Station, we are three days overdue on fixing the flight simulators, and contacting Celeste, she likely is one of the primary information gatherers within the Academy, she may have information about our assassin or may be able to train us in areas we are lacking.

Right, the virus clearing quest. I almost forgot about that, Alan sent.

He hurried over to the nearest Administrative Center and transported to Null Point Station, using his second teleportation of the day. He’d only be given one more.

“Halt. State your business,” the waiting guard said as Alan arrived. He was wearing the same lightweight power armor and jetpack.

“I’m here to fix a glitch in the flight simulators.”

The guard paused, looking over a message log that appeared before him.

“You are Alan?” the guard asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“You are three days overdue. Due to your negligence the virus spread and outside help was sought. You are hereby banned from Null Point Station for a period of 30 days. Please depart immediately,” the guard said.

“Wait, what? I know I was late, but there were circumstances beyond my control. I had to go get the upgrades needed to deal with the problem, which took a week in and of itself, and then I was assassinated by another player!” Alan said.

“You agreed to a contract and failed to abide by it.” The guard paused, reading a message that he had received. “Cobalt-1-7 says that it is only out of his respect for Cerberus that you have not been permanently banned from the station; you should have sent word when you realized there were complications. Now, I am asking you to leave.” The guard raised his weapon, pointing it at Alan.

“Okay, take it easy,” Alan said. He teleported to the Institute, with its long hallways of classrooms and lecture halls. He made his way over to Celeste’s classroom; this time determined to make a good impression.

He paused in front of the door, hearing nothing within. The door’s window was gone. He knocked.

“Come in,” Celeste said. This time the room was setup as an office instead of a classroom. Celeste was sitting behind an ornate wood desk; various trinkets, paintings and sculptures filled the room, probably representing some cultural significance Alan knew nothing about.

“Alan ,was it?”

“Yes,” Alan said. “I would like to apologize for my earlier behavior. It was uncalled for and rude.”

Celeste smiled. “I’d be impressed, if it wasn’t for the fact that Cerberus was here a few minutes earlier with a similar lickspittle speech. Now what do you want?”

“Why are you so certain that I want something?’ Alan asked, trying to look surprised.

“Don’t. I can see through you like a Haxlard wedding veil. I knew you were here for something because I have yet to meet a single one of Cerberus’s students that weren’t just like you; straightforward and unwilling to go out of their way if they didn’t had to. Direct, to the point, with a quest to complete, I think that sums you up nicely. Or am I wrong?”

“No, not really,” Alan said. “Can you tell me much about Cerberus’s other students?”

“It’s not really my place to say,” Celeste said. “But most have been like you: new to the Game, with a powerful AI at their side. Maybe one or two with every class of students, though the numbers have been waning of late. The only reason I’ve taken notice is Cerberus was never known to take many students, given his responsibilities.”

“Oh, interesting,” Alan said. There were other new machine lords like him? What were they doing?

It’s hardly surprising given the number of players in the Game, Eve sent.

Yes, but why did Cerberus never say anything? Alan replied. Eve had no answer.

“More information than you might expect can be gained from just a bit of chatting, asking the right questions or mentioning the right topics,” Celeste said. “Conversation is an art, one that you have far from mastered.

“Communication is paramount, and in your single-minded focus you will experience trouble sooner rather than later. Let me teach you the art, Elissandra is an old friend, I’ll forward the Black Rose Guild the fee.”

“Thank you for the offer,” Alan said, “but I’m not here to learn how to talk to people. I’m here for information, and maybe a bit of knife training.”

“You’re looking for your killer,” Celeste said.

“Yes, how did you know?” Alan asked.

“Talking to people,” Celeste said. “I’m afraid I can’t help you in that regard; I can, however, help you with the latter. For future reference, all Institution teachers have their schedules on the globalnet, where you will see I am spending today on private instruction. It just so happens that I am instructing someone in knife work today. I suspect that they’ll be happy to let you join, having another student could prove useful. I’ll forward the Black Rose guild the bill.”

“Alright, when do we begin?” Alan asked.

“How about now,” Celeste said, looking behind Alan. There was a knock at the door. Alan turned around. Daisy entered, shutting the door behind her.

Celeste waved her hands and the room changed like it was a simulation room. The office space disappeared and a city street replaced it. Based upon a pyramid-like structure in the distance it was supposed to be a street on Khersath. Pedestrians began appearing, along with a few street vendors.

“Hello Daisy,” Celeste said as bystanders, NPC’s began walking around her. “I hope you don’t mind if Alan joins us today, he’ll pay for half the lesson’s cost.”

“Very well,” Daisy said. She walked next to Alan on his right, looked at him once, then refocused her attention on Celeste. Alan shifted his feet, trying to hear Celeste over the noise of the street as traffic weaved around them.

“Knife fighting is a lie,” Celeste began. “Knives are weapons, but they are only useful when a target is up close and personal. You will not fight off swordsmen or riflemen with a knife. If someone attacks you with a knife, you most likely will not have time to react.”

To your left, Eve sent. Alan looked over to his left just in time to see a bystander take a shiv out of their pocket. He dodged out of the way.

“Ah!” Daisy let out a cry, two small sharp pieces of metal sticking out of her sides. The attackers disappeared into the crowd.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry,” Alan said. “I should have-”

“I’m fine,” Daisy said. She pulled out the two pieces of metal, tossing them to the floor; she held her hands over the wounds and a soft green glow filled the air.

“Healers,” Celeste continued, “will likely be the first target of any attack. As well as glass cannons.” She glanced at Alan. “You must remain vigilant against attacks at all times; be aware of your surroundings. There should never be a prolonged engagement, knife wielders are at a disadvantage the moment they are discovered.”

Two guards appeared. They looked around for a moment, searching for the attackers, then returned to their posts along the street.

“Now go, find and defeat your attackers,” Celeste said. She took out two sharp metal blades, handing one to Alan and Daisy.

Alan looked over at Daisy, still in obvious discomfort from the wounds. “You stay here, I’ll go out and find them.”

“No,” Daisy said. “And no helping me. I’m here to become useful.”

“Healers are useful! They’re one of the most crucial classes in games,” Alan said.

“Not when, as Thiago put it, a battle can last a single second, a single push of a button. There is nothing preventing others from carrying around medical kits, technology anyone can use to heal themselves. To be helpful, to make a difference in any party, I can’t simply be the healer.”  Daisy shook her head, then disappeared into the crowd.

Alan stared after her for a second.

I have located the two attackers, Eve sent. The attackers were highlighted red, allowing Alan to easily pinpoint them. Celeste noticed as Alan looked in their direction.

“Alan, you take out the guards, it looks like two street thugs are too easy a target for you,” Celeste said. “Getting close to people without setting them on guard generally requires talking to them.”

“Or an invisibility field,” Alan said, activating his armor’s basic invisibility.

Celeste frowned, pushing a few buttons on a screen that appeared before her. Two sentry robots with scanners appeared. Alan tried hacking into them, but they appeared to be nonexistent, a limit to the simulation. Oddly, he could sense the simulation itself, but he decided against hacking into it.

Instead, Alan activated his armor’s advanced invisibility, which the robots were unable to see through. He stepped right up to the first guard, and stabbed them in the heart.

They crumpled to the ground, dead.

Behind you, Eve sent. Celeste was behind him, holding two knives. It looked like she wanted to attack, but couldn’t determine his position.

“Enough, reveal yourself,” Celeste said. Alan deactivated his invisibility field.

“Why do you need training?” Celeste asked. “While I think your methods naive, they are doubtlessly effective. You’d likely be able to reach most targets.”

“Well, to access Volta, I was thinking of reaching master level in Knife Mastery,” Alan said. “I was also hoping you might have a database of information that describes various alien customs and cultures that I could consult.”

“Any reason for Knife Mastery in particular?” Celeste asked.

“I have a weapon that requires it,” Alan said.

“Very well, to master any skill you simply need to demonstrate a level of competency to the Game. I will provide you with a suitable training room. I had planned on teaching you how to reach targets, but I think your methods differ greatly from mine.

“In regards to your other demand, there are so many factors that go into any social exchange that I highly doubt you’ll receive decent results trying to calculate the suitable action, but if you wish to go down that path I believe I can recommend a list of books that should provide enough context to tackle basic social situations.” There was a commotion in the distance, raised voices and a crowd forming. “Now it looks like my other student needs me. Good luck.”

Walls appeared, enclosing Alan in a white chamber. Two messages appeared:

You have entered a simulated zone! All damage will be simulated and not actually affect the player. No death penalties. Severe XP penalties while in the zone.

Permissions: None, unable to call into being or change the simulation. Basic interaction with simulated environment allowed.

Welcome! The knife test will assess your knife mastery. Additional examinations may be needed. Data from your fights in the assessment will be analyzed. Are you ready to begin the test?
Yes No

Alan selected yes.

Preparing test…
Knife Test Initialized

The virtual space shifted, creating an obstacle course. Red outlined targets appeared all around Alan. He couldn’t see an end to the obstacle course, it surrounded him, extending in every direction. It grew more complex the further out Alan looked, with Eve highlighting numerous traps she had already detected. A row of knives appeared before Alan in a menu, ranging from simple metal combat knives to high-powered laser knives. Eve highlighted the weapons she approved. Alan didn’t find a soulsteel knife in the list of options.

After a bit of deliberation, Alan chose a pair of Elite Crimson Combat Knives, as they were similar to his newly acquired Crimson Blades, just smaller. Alan tested a few swings with them, they felt natural enough. He was able to activate the laser field on the  knives with a thought directed at Eve. A message appeared:

The Knife Examination will begin when you select ready. You will be tasked with eliminating all red targets. You are to avoid hitting any target of a different color. You will be graded on technique, targets destroyed and timing.  Black dots designate weak spots on each target.
Ready Cancel

Alan selected ready, then launched himself over a low grey wall that appeared in front of him. Eve plotted out a path through the obstacle course for him, and he followed it as usual. The first fifty targets were simple to reach, navigating to them no harder than climbing a wall or dodging a laser trap. Alan attacked each target according to Eve’s outlines, anticipating how the targets, which were all humanoid in shape, would move.

As Alan eliminated the fiftieth target a wave of five knife-wielding red thugs appeared, about his height. Alan eliminated them one by one, dodging all incoming blows. 10 knife-wielding red targets appeared. Dealing with them required Alan to follow Eve’s direction with the utmost care, each step crucial to-

Alan tripped, causing himself to fall onto an oncoming knife. A message appeared:

Knife Test Complete.
No new abilities gained or upgrade to ability.

Damn it, again, Alan sent. The test restarted, a familiar obstacle course appearing.

Shit, again? Alan sent, hoping there would have at least been checkpoints.

Yes, we should wait until you have caught your breath-

No. Let’s go. Alan made his way through the obstacle course, only slightly different from before. He took longer to get through the obstacle course, his tiredness taking its toll. This time when the first wave of attackers appeared he activated hypercognition. With ease he managed to deal with the first wave of attackers, the second, the third and the fourth. But his computational energy ran out before the fifth wave of attackers, a combination of melee and ranged attackers. Stabbing at the wrong angle caused him to lose hold of a knife. Shortly after a sword that he was unable to deflect or dodge stabbed through him. A message appeared:

Knife Test Complete.
Managing to destroy 50 consecutive targets with amazing control, you have learned Knife Mastery (Basic)!
+10 Agility +5 Strength +5 Endurance

Rest before the next attempt, Eve sent.

Fine, Alan replied. He sat down on the floor, going over the previous two tries. As soon as his stamina and computational energy were full he commanded Eve to restart the test. This time he would wait until the fifth round of attackers before he would activate hypercognition. He failed in the third round, ignoring one of Eve’s outlined movements, not seeing the attack that came from behind.

God damn it, again, Alan sent.



Very well.

The fourth and fifth tries fared no better than the second, the combination of precise balancing and control over his already tired body too much for Alan.

Try something different, Eve sent.

Like what? Alan asked.

Try splitting your mind, controlling the two different sides of your body.

The experiment failed, the sense of control too strange for Alan’s split mind; layered on top of the odd sensation of controlling half a body was the need for the two parts to communicate with each other to balance. Alan nearly fell on his face with the first step forward he tried take.

Try having one part of your mind control the top half of your body, the other your bottom part.

Fine. Alan did as Eve commanded. The sensation was odd, but it did make controlling his body a simpler, as instead of needing to keep track of every part of his body at once he only needed to control half.

Of course you came up with this idea, Alan thought.


Nothing. Again. The test restarted, but Alan barely made it three quarters of the way through the obstacle course; his lower half had tried to make a jump a tad sooner than his upper half had expected, resulting in a missed grab at an over-hanging bar. Alan crashed to the floor, landing on his face.

Again, both halves of Alan’s split mind sent.

It is unadvisable to-

Again. But this time add a timer to each action. Let me know if I end up out of synch.

Very well.

Alan managed to complete the obstacle course without any errors, but he was still slower than his first attempt. The wave of attackers appeared. Alan carefully followed Eve’s outlines and took them all out. He defeated the second wave as well. A third wave appeared, and despite a small misstep Eve was able to adapt, allowing Alan to complete the round. He activated hypercognition, which simplified things immensely, and completed the fourth and fifth rounds. No new enemies appeared; a short break allowed Alan to regain stamina and energy.

Good job, Eve sent. Alan ignored her, and the next phase of the test began. Another damn obstacle course, but this one had no obvious pathway, filled with treacherous footholds and hanging ropes.

Targets appeared like ninjas, attacking Alan as he traversed the obstacle course. He barely made it twenty feet before one sliced off a rope he was holding onto, causing him to fall to his death, despite the fact that he had followed Eve’s directions perfectly.

Sorry, that move was unexpected, she sent.

Again. And Alan tried the test again. Then again once more, on and on until four hours had nearly passed. Half the time Alan barely made it past the fifth wave of attackers, and never further than a hundred feet into the second obstacle course. As his body became tired, the time for breaks grew longer and Alan began to fail to make it past the third round of attackers.

“The others were like that too, or so I hear.”

Alan, drenched in sweat, spun around to find Celeste. She stood by a doorway, looking at him.

“The other what?” Alan asked.

“The other machine lords; they were all able to learn a new skill faster than any other, but few were ever able to train an ability past the intermediate level,” Celeste said. “Only a handful were able to master a skill and make it to Volta.”

“Master a skill? Don’t you mean two skills?” Alan asked.

“No,” Celeste said. “Were you required to master two?”

“Yes,” Alan said.

“Interesting,” Celeste said. “The Game adapts, everything is variable, from what you hear to say to quests to sound to what you see. Thus the need for clear communication.”

“Whatever. You’re supposed to be teaching me knife fighting, right? What advice or instruction do you have.”

“If your goal is to make it to Volta then my advice is simple. Give up. You have no aptitude for knife mastery, you lack the finesse, the refinement and the control that is necessary to master the skill. The only reason you’ve made it this far is because of the instruction of your AI.

“I can tell by watching you,” Celeste said. “Your movements are uncoordinated: wooden and mechanical. It’s like watching a Erudite try to dance. Mastering any skill requires years of training, you have to practice the skill to the point that ever movement is natural, ingrained into your very being. You won’t reach that level in a few months, certainly not by following a program’s directions without any understanding of why you’re performing your actions.”

“What do you mean?” Alan asked.

“Tell your AI to stop giving you commands,” Celeste said.

Stop giving outlines, Alan sent.

“Now,” Celeste said, “stab forwards with both hands.”

Alan blinked. He looked down at the knives in his hands, then tried stabbing forwards in the manner that felt most natural.

“Your grip is wrong, your footwork is wrong, everything that you just did is wrong,” Celeste said. “But you have no idea why, do you? Despite the hours of training that you just performed do you understand knife fighting any better?”

Alan thought to himself. “No, I guess I don’t. So what are you saying? That I just abandon my AI when I train? I’m obviously a talentless hack that can’t do anything without her. What would you advise?”

“You’ve managed to reach a level that takes most people a matter of weeks in a single day, and you complain about your talent? Daisy still hasn’t managed to reach basic knife mastery, you know.”

“Yes, but that was only with Eve, my AI. Without her I doubt I’d have many skills at all. The Game is only recognizing them as my skills, not hers, because I’m the one performing the actions, but she’s the brain, she’s the one coming up with every action.”

Celeste shrugged. “I can’t tell you how to play, but I’d suggest trying to find something that you are good at, not your AI. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s knife fighting.”

“No, thank you. This has been helpful. Do you know somewhere I can shower and sleep for free? I’m out of credits.”

“The student dormitories are in the directory, check in with them, they have open spaces for all Academy students. Where have you been sleeping up until now?” Celeste asked.

“Capsules, mostly. In my Home,” Alan said, trying to recall where exactly he had been sleeping. Mostly in Cerberus’s Revenant capsule.

Celeste put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her. “Are you all right, Alan?” Celeste asked.

“Why would I not be alright? I’m just tired,” he said, puzzled.

“Alright, well if you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to find me. I know that Cerberus is likely not the most talkative of mentors, given his predicament, and you need to talk to more people besides your AI.”

“What, you think I’m not getting enough human contact? I think there was some sort of miscommunication here, because I’m fine. Great. I’m playing a freaking virtual reality game so far advanced I can’t even begin to fathom how it works,” Alan said.

“Okay. Just remember if you ever need someone to talk to I’m here. It’s rarely mentioned, but the main source of death these days is suicide, so if you ever feel depressed-”

“I’m fine,” Alan said. “I just had a frustrating day and need to figure out what I’m doing next. Goodbye.” He turned around and left the simulation room. A message appeared:

Managing to defeat 100 consecutive enemies with amazing control, Knife Mastery (Basic) has been upgraded to Knife Mastery (Intermediate)!
+15 Agility +10 Strength +10 Endurance

Alan found his way to the student dormitories in the Institute, and was able to find a empty single room. He took a shower, found some food, then lay awake on top of his bed, staring at all his stats:

Status Window
Name: Alan Alignment: Neutral
Level: 508 Class: Rogue Machine Lord
Species: Human (Earth) Gender: Male
Black Rose Recruit, Revenant Initiate (Hidden)
Renown: Rank G (50*) Notoriety: Unranked (15*)
Health: 545 / 560 Health Regen: 0.06 / Sec
Computational Energy: 254/ 500 Regen: 0.06 / Sec
Shield Energy: 500 / 500 Shield Regen: 1.05 / Min
Stamina: 340 / 340 Stamina Regen: 1.25 / Sec
Strength: 69 Agility: 179
Intelligence: 117 Willpower: 54
Charisma: 1 Perception: 191
Endurance: 68 Luck: 42
Physical: 23.6% Mental: 87.1%
Psionic: 5.2%
Faction Standings
United World Government: Neutral* Predecessors: Neutral*
Legion of Man: Neutral* Lords of Life: Neutral
Haxlards: Neutral Administrators: Friendly*
Revenants: Friendly Black Rose Guild: Friendly
Ability Points: 387* Current Quest: Justice is Served


General Ability Window
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Acrobatics (Basic) F* ??? G
The ability to perform miraculous feats of agility and balance.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Detect Presence B* ??? B
The ability to detect the presence of others.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Gifted N/A N/A F
Grants an additional ability point every five levels to spend on attributes.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Skilled N/A N/A F
Grants an additional ability point every five levels to spend on abilities.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Talented (Undeveloped) ??? ??? D
Enhances your talent in various areas.


Combat Ability Window
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Energy Efficiency(Basic) E ??? D
The ability to use technology more efficiently, wasting less energy on extraneous actions.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Energy Melee Weapons (Basic) D ??? E
The ability to use energy based melee weapons effectively.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Energy Ranged Weapons (Basic) D ??? E
The ability to use energy based ranged weapons effectively.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Knife Mastery (Intermediate) C* ??? C
The ability to wield knives effectively.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Sniping (Advanced) A* B43522 B
The ability to fire weapons with deadly precision, no matter the obstacle.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Sword Mastery (Basic) D* ??? D
The ability to wield swords effectively.


 Hacking Ability Window*
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Connect C ??? B
The ability to mentally forge connections with machines. Somehow, your mind is able to comprehend and send digital signals.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Data Interaction S* ??? S
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Machine Communication C* ??? F
The ability to communicate with synthetic beings.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Mental Hack D* ??? C
The ability to seek and exploit weakness in connected minds.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Mind Defense B* ??? A
Your mind has been organized in such a way that it is only with much difficulty that a foreign host will be able to begin to comprehend it.


Machine Lord Ability Window
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Divided Mind A ??? A
You are now able to split your mind in two, completing two tasks at once or tackling the same problem from two sides. Costs 100 Computational Energy to activate.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Enhanced Accuracy B* ??? C
Gives the player enhanced accuracy when aiming, allowing them to precisely calculate where and when to attack to hit their target.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Enhanced Awareness C* ??? B
Gives the player enhanced awareness of their surroundings, allowing them to perceive their environment to a greater extent.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Enhanced Control (Advanced) A ??? A
An ability that gives you greater control over your own body and mind, allowing you to surpass normal limits and make precise movements.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Enhanced Movements B* ??? B
Gives the player enhanced control over their movements, allowing them to make precise movements with ease.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Ignore Pain E* ??? F
The ability to suppress pain with one’s mind.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Hypercognition B* ??? A
Allows the user to enter a state of accelerated perception, able to perform mental operations at an accelerated rate. Costs 10 Computation Energy/Sec.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Programming a Path C* ??? D
Programming a Path allows the player’s thought out actions to become almost second nature, allowing inhuman feats of precise movement.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Transcendent Will C ??? C
Gives unimaginable willpower in extreme situations, allowing the user to accomplish feats of will otherwise thought impossible. Also allows the user to remain conscious longer when they so wish to.


Rogue Ability Window
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Jack of All Trades N/A N/A E
Gives a basic understanding of many elementary skills. Allows player to acquire new skills more easily.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Quick Learner B* ??? C
The ability to quickly learn and develop new abilities and talents.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Sneak (Intermediate) E F1859537634 G
An intermediate stealth ability.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Stealth (Basic) E E434459 F
The art of moving about undetected.
Skill Name: Skill Rank: Skill Proficiency: Skill Rarity:
Trap Detection (Basic) F ??? F
The basic ability to detect traps.


AI Status Window
Name: Eve Classification: Undetermined
Computing Ability: Rank C Synchronization Level: N/A
Main Objective: Train Alan Current Role: General Functions
Operating System: Classified
Corruption Level: 19% Storage Level: 39%
Aberration Levels
Baseline: 23% Sanity Check: Pass
Administrator Warning Status: 2 Warnings

Alan stared at all the windows for a while longer before falling asleep, unsure what to do.

45 comments on “The Academy 3.9

  1. Ephemerality says:

    5 minutes late, hopefully not too bad :P. Some people were commenting about preferring a darker background with light text, vote in this poll for which you prefer so I can figure out if I should make changes:

    Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I can let users choose their own settings with wordpress.


  2. CJ says:

    I’d almost given up hope…

    Btw it’s saturday midnight not Friday midnight. 😛

    Thanks for this wonderful chapter!


  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much. An informative and important chapter.


  4. David says:

    Thanks for the chapter.
    I’m just a little confused. I thought good Ole cerberus broke alans follow the outline habit when he said stop relying on the a.i. for everything. Did he forget his training? Does he need his mind smited again? Most people remember what someone says for a little bit when that someone nukes their brain. Even if that means taking it out of context. Silly alan, outlines are for kids:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mordant says:

      Yeah, he is still over reliant on his AI.

      It feels like Eve is the Main Character that does all the thinking and acting, while Allan is hollow bot that does everything according to script.
      It’s like playing a game while reading complete walk-through, and doing exactly what it says. Where’s the fun in that?

      I have to agree with Celest here. He should find something he is good at or enjoys doing himself and focus on it, while have Eve provide only slight support. Other, non-focused actions would be fine while relaying on her. At least until he will have time to master them himself, and not just for Skill.

      To be honest, while contrary to what you might expect, I thought that focusing on human interaction would suit him. Or rather, hacking the minds of people. He have enough will and resistance for Mental Interference (or something like that). And when he was doing it, he did it himself, was quite good at it and it seemed he enjoyed himself…


      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        It does seems like a step backward:”How many times must I repeat myself you imbecilic time-wasting ape. You need to start making active decisions. Make your own choices. Act on your own based on information she provides….A slow realization began to come over Alan, or perhaps Eve,… Alan was amazed by his sudden awareness of where everything was, of its speed and direction, the model more detailed than any outline had ever been. … The model was amazing, showing him how much force he should exert to counteract the shifting floor, where each laser was. Each next step was obvious to Alan, the way ahead clear as day. He didn’t need an outline to show him what to do.”] -Ch. 3.4

        I wonder how far he would have gotten with sniping if eve would have taught him how, instead of buying the skill’s knowledge. It might be that basics and nuance are out of reach with mental commands. Maybe if Eve had a physical presence that he could interact with, so he could be adjusted. Then he might learn the basics, instead of: “Your grip is wrong, your footwork is wrong, everything that you just did is wrong. But you have no idea why, do you? Despite the hours of training that you just performed do you understand knife fighting any better?”-Ch. 3.9


  5. Anonymous says:

    I really thought that he would be better at using knives. Not like he can ignore melee combat completly. Right now I’m trying to remember what was mentioned that he was good at other than hacking and nothing comes up.


    • Gauntlet-KI says:

      after the assessment, it was said his specialties were A.I. Interaction, Sniping, and Stealth. Which is what he was testing on when joining the guild.


  6. Parsa says:

    I forgot. What are the stars for in the tables?


    • Anonymous says:

      Chapter 1.7 – The Tutorial

      Alan: Um great. Okay, other question, what’s with the asterisks by various things on my character windows?

      Eve: They imply that the information is circumstantial. Should the Legion of Man learn of your involvement warning everybody about the bomb at the airbase, I doubt they would remain neutral. The Machine Communication, Enhance Reaction and Knife Fighting skills are improved by me through the Computer-Human Enhanced Interface, emphasizing the importance of the implant once more. The G+ denotes that the skill is so common, it shouldn’t even be ranked.


    • Anonymous says:

      It reads like “*” (asterisks) are what Eve thinks the skill would be, by that definition.


  7. starfyre7 says:

    You wrote “should of”. I’ve noticed that you make this error a lot.


  8. Anacool says:

    I thought his relations with the predecessors were friendly. When did that change?


  9. Gauntlet-KI says:

    Left out in the stat sheet: Weak Soulsteel Bond, and Soulsteel Knife Sheathe ability. Though maybe the Bond, is a sub-ability of the augment.


    • Anonymous says:

      probably not. Data Interaction is also missing the (basic, intermediate, advanced, master) indication. it should be (???).


  10. Aner says:

    Thanks for the chapters. Considering how often he gets into conversations with high level players were he comes out not knowing what is going on, he should reconsider Celeste offer for conversation classes. As others have mentioned, it seems like Alan has taken a step backwards with his Eve dependency.

    “There student dormitories are in the directory, check in with them”
    shouldn’t it be “the student dormitories are…” or “There are student dormitories in the…”


    • Anonymous says:

      Could also be “Their student dormitories are in the directory” referring to the academy possessing the dormitories.


  11. B says:

    Website is easy to view as it is, a black background is so hard on the eyes. People please vote on the poll, black is wining. If people want black ground go to royal road!


  12. ShadowOfHavoc says:

    Great chapter! I am really looking forward to seeing more interaction between characters. I think the only issue I have had with this series is the lack of characters. I think seeing Alan as being a bit more of a team player will help, although his build is that of an assassin (I like his build though). I am curious though abou seeing what Alan will do know tht Celeste has suggested that he find what he is good at without his AI.
    Looking forward to the next chapter.


  13. aredaera says:

    “Alan ,was it?” -> Alan, was

    Also, it seems that you are using posts for your chapters. It would probably be better for you to use pages instead, and reserve posts for announcing the chapter itself. That way, if you have a message or something, you could put it on the post, avoiding putting messages in the comments if you’d like, and leave the page completely for the chapter.

    But anyway, just a preference. Thanks for the chapter!


    • Ephemerality says:

      How do people get pages to navigate with a next chapter/previous chapter button?


      • aredaera says:

        Those are manually added, I believe, but there may be plugins out there to automatically do it.


      • A lot of the time it also has to do with your theme. Some will have those built in. There are some good free themes out there that will have it all set up for you. The nice thing about changing the theme is that you can normally go back and forth between them with little effort or consequence. If one theme has a feature another one doesn’t and to switch back and forth, you may have to re-customize that feature each time.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Its amazing how long that stat sheet is, it took up a third of the chapter. but its was needed to be seen thought, he has been doing a lot of stuff.

    I’m wondering if an upgrade to detect presence will belong to rogue or machine lord skill tree. It seems most sniping skills, that the jack-of-all-trades tree would have gotten, have been trumped by the enhanced control tree: Aim-> enhanced awareness, steady hands -> enhanced control.


  15. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the chapter.


  16. eaa says:

    First Thanks for chapter. Second he can make Eve theach him from basic to intermediate(how to hold knife to how to fight with it) at all abilitiys,…get masters himself! 🙂


    • Anonymous says:

      He might need to have Eve teach him from basic to intermediate for all his abilities that allow it, because basic skills might be forgotten. It even seems that, though he learned knife mastery to intermediate, he might even lose that skill too because “…Everything that you just did is wrong. But you have no idea why, do you? Despite the hours of training that you just performed do you understand knife fighting any better?”.


  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but every time I see the corruption of Eve’s base code go up I get hype. I can’t help but feel that (from what we’ve been told so far) when the corruption level reaches about 60% or so (the level that Phantom mentioned the Administrators restart the AIs at) we’ll be seeing a big reveal of some kind. Plus Eve gaining more of her own personality will be interesting and make for more complex interactions between her and Alan.

    Looking back at the second half of the first book I feel like we get a bunch of fore-shadowing of what might happen at that point too. The Lord of the Abyss mentioned how the Predecessors lost a war (we don’t know which) and that the winners “sought infinity.” The only other time the concept of infinity has come up is when that one AI thought it at Alan in his AI connections training simulator. More interesting than that is that in the same Training simulation Alan encountered some massive AI thing that initially taught Alan Mind Defense. That being mentioned how “the others of his kind” were not so nice, implying that there is a race of AI beings living in the Game. Now, if we assume that the being who beat the Predecessors are these AI beings then maybe these AI beings are in fact the Lords of Life who ‘disappeared’ by digitizing themselves to live forever in the game!

    All of this connects back to Eve because of her weird knowledge of the Abyss Labyrinth (read Lords of Life Prison). It almost makes me think that the “base personality” of the more complicated AIs are somehow connected to the Lords of Life themselves, or that the AIs could somehow become like the Lords of Life (since clearly stand alone AI with their own personalities already exist). This might also explain why the Administrators restart the AIs as they get too corrupted. The Administrators are a balancing force, so stopping the AIs from being like the Lords of Life, becoming free standing entities in the Game, makes perfect sense.

    All of this also explains why the Predecessors are so ‘primitive’ with the technology they use. Shields, power armor, and other technology is all inherently hackable (we saw that Alan’s power armor was shielded by itself inside his mental realm). I’m ready for it all to start coming together more, though I know that won’t happen for a while since Alan isn’t powerful enough.


    • Anonymous says:

      shoot, now that you wrote what everyone was thinking would happen, he might change it all.


      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think so. It’s the mark of good writing and good foreshadowing that you have an idea of what’s going to happen, just not how it will happen.


    • ShadowOfHavoc says:

      I completely agree with others your assessment. However I hope that it doesn’t start for long time yet because I want to see Alan explore the game more all we have gotten so far from him is training, and the training is getting boring. I would love to see some space combat or even for Alan to get involved in the war on Earth. I think the Predecessor and the Lords of Life are trying to shape Alan/Eve for when their war restarts.


  18. Anonymous says:

    Alan needs dual wielding.

    Dual Wielding Pistols
    Dual Wielding Knives
    Dual Wielding Swords

    At *some* stage he should show a proficiency in it 🙂

    also, ambidexterity for the win!


  19. Ephemerality says:

    Idk if anyone will see this but new chapter may be delayed a bit.


  20. Shane Hamby says:

    That is ok but both my son and I are looking forward to your new chapters !


  21. Oak says:

    thanks for the chapter,
    it kinda seems like he doesn’t carry with him his understanding/realizations on how to play between chapters, when considering what he learned during his machine-lord training


  22. Anonymous says:

    It’s such a shame that Alan seems the type to not really learn AT ALL from experience. I mean it was mentioned already by Phantom that his over-dependence on Eve is detrimental to his own growth and once again pointed out by Cerberus. I think I recall Alan agreeing to this point and was adamant on trying to learn things on his own. The Abyss 2nd adventure with the traps was a demonstration, but then after that it was like Alan became this weird whiny kid. He is short with Eve in this knife simulator and complained a lot when they were tracking Ace and for no reason at all, though I assume it could be a plot excuse to open up his need to take Celeste’s course? It’s just a bit crude.

    Also, I remember during the survival test, Alan made mention of training “harder” to improve himself and catch up to Kitana but when the opportunity presented itself, the choice between hard training and survival resource gathering, he opted for the “quicker”and easier choice. I’m getting whiplash from his personality. Like he has multiple ones.

    And some things he completely forgets or neglects to address after being alerted to: like Eve’s 2 warnings. If I were him I would have asked right away. I mean he was shown to be slightly wary of Eve but then he completely disregards the possibility of Eve acting without his express permissions…

    I love this story so much but I hope the inconsistencies are addressed before the 2nd book is published. I bought the first one and was happy slight changes were made from the original drafts.


  23. cactuar0 says:

    > I’m obviously a talentless hack that can’t do anything without her

    Ah, so our MC actually is self-aware of his shortcomings! I was getting upset at just how much he uses Eve as a crutch for everything, but if he’s doing it deliberately to quickly rank up and ignore unnecessary training then that makes more sense 😛 . I expect that he will get around to actually weaning himself off delegating ‘thinking’ sometime in future when its more important.


  24. Kiwi Chris says:

    Great story!
    Minor continuity point.
    In the ebook, the last stat table had luck at 72+20. Now after more adventures it is showing 42.
    Doesnt make sense to me and a high luck is more in keeping with the character


  25. Jon says:

    I concur with some of the comments above, that it is a step backwards for him to be following Eve’s outline. Also why does he seem surprised that he has to learn a skill himself to go past intermediate? Phantom told him the exact same thing.


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