The War for Earth 4.4

“Is that what you’re wearing?” Thiago asked.

Alan looked down at his power armor, then at Thiago’s suit. “Yes.”

“Do you have another outfit?” Aphrodite asked.

“No. Let’s get moving,” Alan said. He walked out to the armored black Mercedes-Benz that had arrived, sent by Thiago’s contact. It sat by the curb, motionless. Alan saw no driver, and when he tried the door it was locked.

Looking back at the warehouse, Alan listened in on Thiago and Aphrodite’s conversation.

“Are you sure I can’t come? I’m certain Kitana can handle any would be thief,” Aphrodite said.

“It’s not thieves that I’m worried about, but unwanted attention,” Thiago said. “You can deflect interest better than her. A trail of dead bodies is not what we want, not in the city. I also want you to talk to Kitana, see how amenable she is to the plan.”

“Fine,” Aphrodite said, “but I think I’d be better at convincing Alan.”

“You wouldn’t,” Thiago said. “He’s still convinced this is all a game.”

“Yeah, who only has a single outfit? I think he’s autistic,” Aphrodite said.

Alan sighed as Thiago came out of the warehouse. The armored car’s back doors popped open. Alan and Thiago got in; with the power armor on Alan was a tad cramped. The car had blacked out windows that prevented them from seeing where the car was taking them. Alan was sure this had been illegal at some point.

The car’s engines roared to life and it began moving.

The vehicle is also blocking all incoming and outgoing signals, Eve sent. However, based on acceleration forces I can estimate where we are headed.

“Alan, I am going to be direct,” Thiago said, turning to face him. “How happy are you with the Black Rose Guild?”

“Quite happy,” Alan said.

“Really? Even after they pulled you out of the Academy and forced you to pick a side in this war?” Thiago asked.

Alan hesitated.

Be honest, Lambda sent.

“I learned what I needed to at the Academy, and at this point don’t care who I fight for. Both sides are trying to do what they think is best for humanity,” Alan said.

“But they can’t be paying you very well,” Thiago continued. “You stayed in a tiny room aboard the Titan, and have only been eating those tasteless gel blocks. As you’re aware, we’re funded, and can pay well.”

“I’m bound to the Black Rose guild for five years, and to buy out the guild contract would cost a million credits,” Alan said. “I’m not sure what your offer is here, but the Black Rose guild has contacts and tech that you don’t. And for your information my diet and quarters were of my own choosing to save credits.”

Thiago frowned, and said, “So we build those contacts and gather the resources ourselves. But fine, I can see you’re uninterested in leaving your guild. Still, fucking indulge a little, Alan. You can do what you want here, taste whatever forbidden fruits you desire. And you’re what? Sitting in your room all day training, eating sand.”

What an idiot, Eve sent. Alan agreed.

I’m not sure, he may have a point, Lambda sent.

“I’m happy playing the Game as I have,” Alan said.

“You have no desire for building something greater, something more? I could never be content being someone else’s lackey,” Thiago said.

“I think you should concentrate more on improving your abilities,” Alan said. “Then naturally whatever is more will fall into place.”

“Fine, fine,” Thiago said. He pulled something out of his pocket. “But here, I insist you take this. Don’t use it if you don’t want to.”

Alan examined the small clear capusle Thiago handed to him. It contained a red liquid:

[Berserker’s Blood (Rank C):

A battle stimulant. Grants greatly increased strength, stamina and health. Lasts 1 hour. Potential debuff after use.]

“I told you I’m good,” Alan said.

“Not even in case of an emergency?” Thiago asked.

Accept it, Lambda sent. He’s pushing this too hard, we should examine the stimulant’s properties at the very least.

Alan took the  drug, pocketing it. “Fine, it might come in handy.”

Thiago smiled. “Trust me, it will.”

The rest of the trip continued in silence. When the car finally turned off its engine Alan checked his map. According to Eve they were in Downtown Manhattan, having only travelled a few miles despite half an hour of transit.

The car doors opened. Alan stepped out and found himself in front of a restaurant named the Wolf’s Head Steakhouse.

A bouncer stood at the entrance. “No weapons allowed inside.”

Try to detect their security scanner, Lambda sent. I would prefer to not enter this meeting defenseless.

Alan stretched out his senses. Other than the bouncer’s armor, a few tablets and the security cameras he didn’t detect anything. Maybe there weren’t any scanners.

No, they’re somewhere. Hand over everything, Lambda sent.

Alan slowly pulled his pistols, rifle attachment, and sword out and handed them to the bouncer. The weapons were placed in a keypad safe by the entrance.

The maître d’ greeted Alan and Thiago at the entrance to the dining room. It was lit by a crystal chandelier and held a handful of diners in formal wear. None wore armor.

“The sky was once blue,” Thiago said. Alan glanced outside, it was grey and cloudy.

“And how large is your party?” the head waiter asked.

“Two, but with the hope for more. If the resistance is not too great,” Thiago said.

“It is not. Please follow me.”

Alan and Thiago were past the main dining room and up a flight of stairs. Two additional guards stood outside a private room. The waiter knocked on the door.

“Your guests have arrived.”

“Let them in,” a familiar voice called out from inside. The door swung open to reveal Icewolf, seated at a table set for three, wearing a suit and tie. Three freshly cooked rib-eye steaks with all the fixings sat on the table alongside a bottle of wine and pitcher of water.

“Please, come in,” Icewolf said. “Good to see you, Alan, and nice to finally meet you face-to-face, Thiago.”

Alan and Thiago sat opposite Icewolf, shutting the door behind them.

“I hope you like your steak rare, I’d rather not be bothered while we eat, and the fewer that know you’re here the better,” Icewolf said. “Please, dig in.”

They began eating. Alan bit into the marbled beef. It was juicy and tender and quite possibly the best cut of meat he had ever tasted. Maybe he was missing out, he had half forgotten what real food tasted like. He felt Eve sigh.

“Now, to business,” Icewolf said after taking a few bites out of his food. “We’ve recently learned that the UWG has recalled their main players. We need to get off Earth and back to Mars before they arrive, so our schedule is tighter than I would like.”

“Their main players?” Alan asked.

“The original soldiers, the spec ops forces that joined the Game. They’ve been off who knows where training and leveling, but it seems the UWG think the Legion is enough of a threat to warrant their return,” Icewolf said.

“And they weren’t here originally why?” Thiago asked.

“I don’t know,” Icewolf said. He took a sip of wine. “We’ve been quiet, preparing other operations, maybe we spooked some official. Either way, these people have been in-game years longer than you have, level 1000 plus, bad-ass commandos. You do not want to be around when they arrive.”

“Okay, so what’s the operation?” Alan asked.

“New York is thriving,” Icewolf said. “On account of the nature of the Game it was only natural for all the financial institutions to transition to in-game offices. Faster connections, more time, unique technology, larger markets, and special abilities; what more could be asked for? That’s why you may see people wandering about unarmed, they have non-combat classes. Don’t harm them, it will give you penalty points.”

“So all the banks, they’re in the Game now,” Alan said.

“Yes, as are the stock markets and the quants and every other company,” Icewolf said. “The economy is run more or less the same way it’s always been. In other words, everyone continues to invest, trying to make a quick buck, except of course now the major currency is credits and the New York Stock Exchange is small potatoes compared to the Khersath Markets. Everything is more or less the same, the rich get richer, the fat get fatter. But we’re going to change that.”

“We are?” Thiago asked.

“Yes,” Icewolf said. “The plan is simple. We are going to cause the single largest market crash, the greatest recession, Earth has ever known. With the UWG already drowning in debt they’ll run out of money and take themselves out. We’ll sit back, comfortable on Mars, as they bleed to death.”

“So that’s why you had us transport the precious metals and commodities, they’re hedges,” Thiago said.

“Yes, plenty in the Legion are poised to make a pretty penny if this plan works out,” Icewolf said. “Also get that stuff into an Administrative Center Vault as soon as possible, even I don’t know what all the other teams are doing, and I think more than a few are planning on robbing a bank or two.”

“And how are you going to manage this great recession?” Thiago asked.

“Well, with the recent lull in the war, markets have rallied, stabilizing,” Icewolf said. “However, when new attacks begin, twice as fierce, concentrating on relatively undefended warehouses and factories, the market will take a sizeable hit. Compounded on that, we have a number of portfolios that we will liquidize, causing greater panic. A few other operations are underway as well, but they aren’t your concern.”

Icewolf pointed his fork at Alan. “Your job is to hack into the stock exchange and do everything you can to incite a depression. Make numbers disappear, corrupt data, overload servers, I don’t care. Get in there and mess them up, but not so bad they can’t sell their assets.”

“And when will this happen?” Alan asked.

“Day after tomorrow,” Icewolf said. “Get what preparation you can done. I have plans of the New York Stock Exchange building, and ID badges for you.” He handed a data chip to Alan. “I am playing the faithful portfolio manager, running Omnitech Industries’ investments.”

Alan raised a slice of meat to his mouth then froze. There were two additional presences outside the door, standing there.

89% chance of hostiles, Eve sent.

“We have company,” Alan said. He activated his power armor’s advanced invisibility.

Icewolf pulled a high powered laser rifle from beneath the table as Alan shoved the door open. The two guards looked his way.

Alan rushed passed them, downstairs through the dining hall to the safe at the front of the building.

He heard laser fire overhead. Diners began screaming; there was a mad dash for the exit.

1119, Eve sent as Alan reached the safe.

Alan entered the code, grabbing his weapons and two grenades next to them. He glanced at the other weapons in the safe.

No time, get back up there, Eve sent.

Guided through the crowd by Eve, Alan reached the upstairs hallway in time to see one of the guards beheaded by a silver masked Haxlard.

The other guard clutched their arm, screaming in pain.

Activating hypercognition, Alan attempted to hack into the Haxlard’s armor.

Their shields are too strong, we don’t have time to break through, Eve sent.

Time to put your sword training to the test, Lambda sent. A series of green outlines appeared in his head, various combo attacks. Alan executed one.

Right slash. Left slash. One dead Haxlard, he never saw Alan’s attack coming.

The other turned to Alan, raising a blue laser-sword.

Don’t directly block any attacks, your strength is inferior, Eve sent.

Besides, it’s bad for the blade, Lambda commented.

The Haxlard faced Alan’s crimson blade; Alan stared back. A flurry of laser bolts came through the door, striking the Haxlard.

Taking advantage of the distraction Alan lunged forward and with an upward thrust pierced the Haxlard’s faceplate, killing them.

Alan glanced at his experience bar; he’d gained 10% of a level.

“When did you start using a sword?” Thiago asked.

“I think we should be more concerned about why there are two Haxlard assassins here,” Alan said. “Aren’t they not allowed to interfere with the war?”

“They aren’t, but they can defend their assets, and right now they own most of Earth’s debt,” Icewolf said. “What I would like to know is which of you two tipped off the Haxlards.”

He raised his laser rifle.

Lambda? Alan asked.

It wasn’t us, nor was it Thiago. Who’s the weakest link? My bet is Aphrodite, Lambda sent.

Right, her friends with power armor, Alan sent.

“It was Aphrodite,” Alan said, turning to Thiago. “She told her friends we were here, but I have to imagine even she isn’t stupid enough to randomly let people know our whereabouts after your explicit instructions not to.”

“Shit, and she’d know where we were as soon as we emerged from the car,” Thiago said. He froze. “The goods, they’re all with her and Kitana.”

Thiago flipped open his tablet. “My messages aren’t getting through, neither she nor Kitana are responding.”

“They wouldn’t be able to, no messages can get into that warehouse,” Icewolf said. “Making sure that capital is safe is our first priority, I’ll take care of this.” He gestured to the dead Haxlards.

Alan and Thiago ran back outside. It was pandemonium, with screaming pedestrians and a number of military and police vehicles already converging on the scene. They hopped into the armored car which took off like a rocket as soon as they were inside. There were a few crashes as it raced through the city, but Alan paid no attention.

Eve and Lambda tried to develop simulations for potential battle plans against Aphrodite, Kitana, Thiago, or any combination thereof.

The car stopped and let them out a few blocks from away from the warehouse. Alan leapt out with basic invisibility activated. He sprinted to the warehouse, Thiago right behind.

Alan burst into the warehouse, and found Aphrodite sitting at a table, legs up on the desk, chatting with Kitana.

Kitana unsheathed her sword.

“It’s just us,” Thiago said, looking around the warehouse. He walked up to the metal boxes, making sure everything was still there.

“Back so soon?” Aphrodite asked.

“We had a run in with a few Haxlards,” Alan said. He watched Aphrodite’s and Kitana’s reactions.

Slight surprise on both their faces, but that could mean anything, Lambda sent.

“Neither of you would know anything about this, would you?” Thiago asked.

“No,” Kitana said.

“Of course not. Why, do you suspect one of us?” Aphrodite asked.

Push the issue, Lambda sent.

“Yes,” Alan said. “You specifically. Give me your entire data log for the past month. I can look up your friends, see if they’re legitimate.”

“What? You want to perv on my friends?” Aphrodite asked.

“Give him the names,” Thiago said. “The entire data logs includes personal stuff, like quests and abilities, I think handing that over would be overkill.”

“She can lie about the names,” Alan said. He thought for a second. “Show me the contract. If it’s broken, then we’ll know you’re working with the Haxlards.”

“What contract?” Aphrodite asked. “I never signed any contract with you. The one that I was forced into was by him.” She pointed at Thiago. “Maybe he’s the one you should be worried about.”

“The contract not to reveal any information gained before and during the Tutorial,” Alan said. “I’m fairly sure that’s the only information you’d have about me, and that the Haxlards would have wanted it.”

Alan looked around at everyone. “Actually, it would be best if everyone brought it out, just to make sure no one has broken it. I’ve learned a bit about contracts, and if someone did break it, that wouldn’t be revealed until we examined their contract screen. Here, I’ll start.”

Alan brought up his contracts screen in a menu that appeared before him, and showed it to the others. Unbroken.

Kitana revealed hers also unbroken.

Thiago sighed. “I got an offer from the Legion of Man I couldn’t resist. But hey, it’s how I got this job. Guess I owe each of you 125k credits.” He turned to Aphrodite. “However, there should be no reason for you to have broken the contract unless you really did backstab me.”

Thiago grabbed Aphrodite’s arm; she flinched.

“No tricks now,” Thiago said. “I know all your dirty little tricks.”

Aphrodite stared back at him, head held high. “Well then I’m glad I learned a few new ones.”

AC-

Aphrodite’s eyes flashed blue and a pulse of energy rolled through the room. Alan fell to the floor, clutching his head. Intense pain radiated through him, his implants scrambled. Eve and Lambda yelled at him, but they were muffled, behind a sound barrier.

His vision blinked in and out, he saw Kitana and Thiago knocked out cold on the floor. He fumbled around for his laser pistol, trying to locate Aphrodite. He saw her standing over Kitana trying to grab something. Kitana’s sword.

Alan fired off a round. The shots bounced around wildly, Alan was too dizzy to aim. He stumbled towards Aphrodite, tripped and fell to the floor.

When he looked back up Aphrodite had grabbed Thiago’s sniper instead and was preparing to fire it at him. Alan struggled through the pain to activate the bug placed on the weapon, forcing it to overheat.

Aphrodite let out a yell, dropping the weapon as plasma fire raced up her arms. Alan fired off a few more shots, he was closer to a hit this time. Aphrodite grabbed a metal box and ran out the door. Alan tried to give chase but ran into the doorway. He lay on the ground, trying to refocus his thoughts.

Minutes later Thiago and Kitana regained consciousness. Alan began to regain his balance; he felt Eve and Lambda reconnect.

What was that? Alan sent.

Some version of a mind blast, Eve sent. We’re lucky it’s a primarily mental based attack rather than psionic.

So there are players walking around that can just set off mental concussion grenades? Alan asked.

Yes, but they’re rare, an ability in one in thousands of psionics, Eve sent. And, such skills are generally banned by the Administrators as they can potentially cause permanent harm, thus many able Players do not ever learn the skill. I’m curious where Aphrodite learned it.

“Shit, what happened?” Thiago asked.

“Aphrodite used a mind blast, wiped you two out. I was able to stop her from killing all of us, but she managed to escape with a box of loot,” Alan said.

Thiago ran over to his precious goods. “Damn, that bitch stole a box of power crystals. You weren’t able to do anything?”

“You’re lucky to  be alive,” Alan said. “Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the fact that we’ve been travelling around with a mole, one with abilities you weren’t even aware of.”

“Fuck, you’re right,” Thiago said. He looked around at the metal boxes. “Come on, let’s get this back in the truck and to an Administrative Center Vault. Who knows who she’s contacted by now.”

Our bug on her tablet, Lambda sent.

Alan checked it, and found that Aphrodite hadn’t sent any messages. Yet. He contemplated disabling it from afar.

Keep it on, the information gained could be useful, Lambda sent.

“I think I can track her down, get back the stolen crystals,” Alan said.

“No, the first priority is getting what we have to the Administrative Center vault where it’s safe,” Thiago said. He looked at his sniper, it seemed damaged by the forced overheat. “And what the fuck happened to my weapon?”

You used a skill, deflect, Lambda sent.

“Had to use a special skill,” Alan said. “You’re lucky she didn’t get Kitana’s blade. If she had we’d be dead.”

“She was not worthy to wield Murakumo,” Kitana said.

“You named your sword?” Thiago asked as they loaded the last of the boxes into the truck.

“Alan named his machines,” Kitana said. “Besides, a weapon is the clearest manifestations of one’s soul. More so in this Game than anywhere else.” She gripped her sword and it let out a flash of light.

Holy shit, I think the Administrators gave her an evolving weapon, Lambda sent.

One that absorbs the energy of defeated foes, increasing its own strength over time? Alan asked.

You got it, Lambda sent.

I was wondering why she was carrying the same weapon since the tutorial, Alan sent. He got into the back of the truck.

They headed north to the Bronx, where the nearest Administrative Center was located. Icewolf seemed to have smoothed things over with the local authorities, and had sent a single message.

 

Icewolf: Follow through, that’s all that matters. I’m a bit held up now with the investigation into what happened at the restaurant. Busy with the cleanup, don’t contact me unless it’s an emergency.

 

He wants us to focus on the plan to take down the UWG, and he’s now probably being watched, Lambda sent.

I got that, thanks, Alan sent.

The simplest of messages can be lost in translation, Lambda replied.

Alan rolled his eyes, scanning his surroundings for potential threats.

***

“I don’t like this, we’re sitting ducks out here,” Thiago said. “Aphrodite could have told half the thieves guilds in the city what we’re carrying.”

They were in a line of vehicles transporting goods to the Administrative Center Vault. The Administrative Center looked like it used to be an governmental office, a DMV on steroids. 10 lanes were open to vehicle traffic, five in and five out, but there was still a backup that rivaled a freeway at rush hour.

“We’re right next to the Administrative Center, attacking us here is tantamount to suicide,” Alan said.

“I still don’t like this,” Thiago said.

Alan sighed, then connected to a nearby Administrator standing outside the Administrative Center.

Greetings Traveler, the Administrator sent.

Hi, we’re here to deposit some goods in your vault, is there any way you can speed the process up? Alan asked.

Certainly.

Ten Administrator guards walked up to their truck, five humans in advanced power armor, five robots which scanned the truck and its contents. The truck began weaving through traffic to the front of the line, the other automated vehicles making space for it.

“What’d you do?” Thiago asked.

“I have some clout with the Administrators,” Alan said.

Once the truck had been guided inside and all the goods had been deposited into the vault Thiago finally let out a sigh of relief.

“Well that’s stage one of our mission complete at least,” Thiago said after he received a receipt from the Administrator. Now that his materials were in an Administrative Center Vault, he could retrieve them from the same vault. Alternatively, he could get them shipped to a vault at another Administrative Center, but the cost was prohibitive, which was why they had brought the goods from Khersath in the first place.

Items sold and bought on the Market, meanwhile, had to also be dropped off and picked up from the nearest Administrative Center Vault. Khersath and the Academy were outliers in that items could be traded from any nearby capsule directly due to their unique designations by the Game.

As they turned to leave, an Administrator stopped them. They connected to Alan.

Please wait, Traveler. Chief Administrator 170 has requested to discuss matters with you as soon as he learned of your whereabouts. Follow me, the Administrator sent.

“It looks like I have business to take care of, please wait here,” Alan said.

Thiago and Kitana watched Alan leave and enter the Administrative Center, unsure what was going on.

57 comments on “The War for Earth 4.4

  1. Ephemerality says:

    Sorry about the delay, new computer issues. Also had to deal with a number of business matters >.>

    Anyway, this next week I should get up 3 chapters since only 1 was put up this past week.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Chance says:

    Ayyy Alan is learning… I like it

    Liked by 1 person

  3. asunasenpai says:

    wonder why i was never informed before that next week is Christmas, must be if there are going to be 3 chapters.

    Like

  4. vonridel says:

    Sorry to hear about your computer issues. Hope you have a screaming fast system to replace the old one.

    When do you think you will have 4.5 out?

    Noted two typos:
    Posed should be poised. (Yes, plenty in the legion are posed to make a pretty penny.)
    You should be out. (Aphrodite let you a yell)

    Good chapter. Feeling the build up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anthony says:

    Thanks for the chapter I like the way the story is evolving

    Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    alan is understanding

    Like

  7. I wonder what 170 has to say

    Like

  8. Highblast21 says:

    Alan should really know how to do a mental hotkey on his active skills, hypercognition specifically, as soon I read the “AC-” i knew he’d be fucked up. And i think Alan is gonna be in shit since i had a feeling they already knew his prison break on Lambda, shitstorm on the loose

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      How? he didn’t even receive the prompt from Eve in time (again). Until he can run hypercognition continuously, or develop a ‘spidy sense’, it will continue to be an issue for him. It may be possible to set it up so that if Eve senses danger she has permission to activate it. Or would that be something that constitutes another warning for Eve?

      He needs to work on reducing the warnings both he and Eve have so that they can run those sorts of calculated risks.

      Like

      • David says:

        Nah, sounds like too much of a quick fix. He should just learn to recognize when violence is about to happen. Cornering a spy? Usually never goes well. Then he should just recognize that you win some, and you lose some. The only thing slowing down time would have done is made his suffering longer. Probably. He’s an assassin type player that isn’t ready for violence at the drop of a hat. Getting messed up should probably be a daily occurrence for him

        Liked by 1 person

      • Highblast21 says:

        True that, an ideal solution is for lambda and eve to observe minute details on individuals and run simulations and predictions for when certain individuals might turn hostile, giving time for Alan to activate hypercognition, and btw based on my understanding AI companions cannot activate skills, they do not have control over the person or his assets, merely there as guides, i think.

        Like

    • qwer says:

      170 was directly responsible for getting Alan into the Black Rose Guild, making him indirectly responsible for sending Alan to study under Cerberus. Add to that 170 probably knowing Cerberus (all of the machine lords are associated with the machine lord faction/brotherhood/whatever) and Cerberus explicitly stating that the Revenants have spies high up in the Administrators… and I’m pretty sure 170 is a Revenant.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Anonymous says:

    Alan needs to question Thiago about which academy Aphrodite went too, and her teacher, so he can have Lambda or Eve data mine possible skills that she acquired.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. GoGet says:

    Thank you very much for the up date. I’m just happy to have you and this story, I don’t mind the delay!

    Like

  11. good world says:

    How did Aphrodite grab a metal box and leave? I thought that they weigh like a couple ton including the stuff inside them, please explain.

    Like

    • Mark says:

      The box she grabbed was not metal but energy crystals hence less weight. Of course one would presume those crystals are light.

      Like

  12. vonridel says:

    Can someone reminfd me of the significance of “AC-“?

    Like

  13. vonridel says:

    Nevermind. AC- CTIVATE HYPERCOGNITION. the warning was cutoff. I was trying to relate it to so ething earlier in the story

    Like

  14. Flakes says:

    Oooh. Aphrodite stole a box of power cubes so that Alan can steal them back from her thus fufilling his quest in the labryinth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rchampsy says:

      Didn’t think of that. Rather convenient! Still wondering where this will end up and who is supporting who.

      We’re in for quite a few twists/backstabs for sure. I wonder how Alan will come out of this as (neutral?) party while still aligning with his guild mission.

      Like

      • Mark says:

        You know I am kinda sad about the whole civil war thing. There is a saying from Arabic world, “…me and my brother against my cousins, me and my brother and my cousins against the world…” In this case should it not be “me and my brother and my cousin and my world against the universe?” I think from my perspective humanity will be just like Administrator 170 or phantom if not worse if the factions do not unite. Earth divided will make it easy picking for bigger factions. It is from a personal perspective that Alan SHOULD attempt at saving earth by uniting the factions this more reward and further the goal of saving earth. Look Epi causing a big market crash is like stabbing one side of your body it will only hurt later on for humanity. Like honestly there must be some kind of credit rating in the Game, over throw gov and not paying debt is kinda low.

        Like

  15. Ifoldforweed says:

    great chapter. I really enjoy it reading the new arc. Its just better to read chapters with an ongoing story. great job.

    Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    Given he only has the one set of clothes, what does Alan do to combat the BO?🙂

    Like

  17. Josef says:

    Alan should report Aphrodite…. to the Administrators

    Yes, but they’re rare, an ability in one in thousands of psionics, Eve sent. And, such skills are generally banned by the Administrators as they can potentially cause permanent harm, thus many able Players do not ever learn the skill. I’m curious where Aphrodite learned it.

    Like

  18. 14simeonrr says:

    small mistake the chapter is listed as 4.3 while it should be 4.4

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oak says:

    Thanks for the chapter

    Like

  20. oblivious says:

    So on the surface the UWG is suspending debt payments and recalling their forces under the pretense of fighting the Legion, when really they’re preparing for war against the Haxlards. Meanwhile, on the surface, the Haxlards are pointedly unconcerned with Earth politics, when in reality they’re posturing to invade under the pretense of protecting their assets.

    Both sides are gaming the contract rules, the key being information (or willful ignorance) that justifies certain actions under a false narrative. The Legion is a useful false narrative for the UWG, such that it might even be the UWG funding them.

    Alan only has one sword now.

    An immediate suspicion might be that 170 wants to talk to Alan about Lamda or hacking an admin. But the phrasing here was interesting: “as soon as he learned of your whereabouts.” 170 could have messaged Alan at any time. Maybe he’s just being discrete, but it sounds like 170 wasn’t interested in talking to Alan until he found out Alan was on Earth. Maybe he has a use for Alan, or maybe he’s just interested in why Alan isn’t at the Academy.

    An obvious potential source for Aphrodite’s banned skill would be Revenants. Maybe 170 want’s Alan to investigate Revenant activity on Earth (or whoever else she might have gotten the skill from). Alternatively, as qwer points out above, 170 might be a Revenant, and might want to make sure Alan *doesn’t* report anything.

    Everyone is being forced to show their cards except Thiago. We haven’t seen anything to suggest he has a combat class, but that’s about all we know.

    It was neat having Alan face a duo similar to the one that outclassed him in the Tutorial. Shows his progress.

    I guess Thiago had already been told about Icewolf’s relationship with Alan. Either that or he just didn’t get an opportunity to express his surprise. The meeting seemed rushed though, like it was more routine than it should have been.

    Like

    • qwer says:

      Thiago and Kitana were in cahoots before Alan recommended her to the Black Rose Guild. How much she told Thiago before then (or since then) hasn’t been addressed, but she knew that Icewolf was Alan’s sponsor.

      Like

      • qwer says:

        Though I agree, it would have been more clear to get a line about Thiago about being surprised or not being surprised. Or whatnot.

        Like

    • Flakes says:

      It does’t have to be Revanants. I am sure there are other criminal organizations out there, and just because something is banned doesn’t mean people don’t use it. Think about pot in our world. It is a banned substance, but you really don’t have to be part of a globe spanning organization or crminal cartel to get access to it.

      Like

    • Mark says:

      I can’t click like button but I like what you are saying. I agree and can not wait for what Epi is going to write. We the readers have pointed out the possible routes the story could go now Epi you set the story in stone!!!

      Like

    • qwer says:

      “Everyone is being forced to show their cards except Thiago. We haven’t seen anything to suggest he has a combat class, but that’s about all we know.”
      He was in the game of assassins, so we know he enrolled in the Rogue program.

      Like

  21. Injest says:

    I read your first arc on RRL last year and I’ve finally caught up. Thank you for sharing your story online, from a humble beginning into the success it is now.

    I’ve been trying out a whole slew of litRPG stories and I can safely say this is definitely at the top. I think a major weakness of most litRPGs is the premise and you’ve come up with an excellent one for why the virtual world is in place and why players would actually want to stay in the game and excel. Following the unique premise, the worldbuilding (and game-building) is exceptional.

    Your set-up for the stats and game messages are clean, though I feel the skills are somewhat repetitive (flaw of the genre?).

    I also love your implementation of AI into the game with all the different parameters and their role as an actual “race” with personal/hidden motivations.

    However, it wouldn’t be a good review without a critique. In terms of the writing holy trinity, I’d say the best part of The Gam3 is the setting, followed by plot, then lastly characters.

    Character interactions are generally weak, and dialogue is occasionally stilted with a very artificial feel. Most characters are quite scripted in their roles and completely forgettable once they outlive their situational relevance (e.g. whole group at the start). That is, they feel more like part of the setting than individual agents who can dynamically engage with Alan (the only exceptions are the AIs, the Lord of the Abyss, and to a lesser extent Phantom). Even Alan is underdeveloped and hard to empathize with because he’s too often the naive teenager who can only think in one direction. I think it would be difficult to create many compelling characters in such a diverse world/universe, but it’d definitely bring the story to new heights.

    Some minor gripes:

    There are some inconsistencies with how his AI will fortuitously warn him about some dangers but totally ignore others until it’s too late.

    The hacking system developed recently is very clunky. It’s overly wordy in trying to replicate an RTS-game process and the transposition itself is a bit awkward (marines shooting each other for digital dominance?). I actually like the RTS analogy; it’s just that the system with buying units and leveling them reads strangely.

    Regardless, I’m excited to see where the story goes next. I’ve gotten the first volume and once it’s finished and if it doesn’t crash and burn (no pressure!), I’ll buy the rest. Don’t traumatize your readers like GRR Martin!

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      GRR didn’t traumatize them. He allowed them to explore different aspects of their own psyche. If Cosimo can get anywhere near that level of attachment to his characters I’d rather say it would be awesome.

      And hey, apart from a few hacking deaths in cyberspace, everyone else gets to respawn. You should be safe…

      Like

    • Mark says:

      I love the setting and the world I do have to agree the main character’s development is slight behind the world development. It feels like Alan did not have personality as of yet other than a child guided by AI. Perhaps you should attempt to do what more of what Cerebus said. Alan being a true machine lord.

      Like

      • Ifoldforweed says:

        Thats his true strength. People think he plays the game like a retard. But he sees the gam3 us a game other person see the game as reality. Alan needs to keep the innocence to have an impact on the thegam3 universe.

        Like

    • Ghrbevg says:

      To be clear, it was explained by one of his AIs that the marines, like the bunny virus, were just the game making it understandablefor him, while Eve would have seen it like strings of data. Therefore, they arent really soildiers, they are bits of code that he interprets as people, and as the guys get better, the code becomes more complex and better at combating other codes.

      Like

      • Injest says:

        Read my last sentence in that section. It’s just awkward because it requires a lot of filler text that’s bland and uninteresting. Doesn’t matter what the in-universe explanation is. It could be cultures of bacteria competing for resources for all that the analogy matters.

        Like

  22. Anonymous says:

    Pondering over the chapter, Alan seems to be a lot more loquacious then he has at any other point in time. Not only this, he diverted and over-road Thiago’s comments multiple times. Even though you have been leading up to him being insubordinate to Thiago in the past couple of chapters, with his attempts and failures at information gathering, the way it’s presented at the moment seems skewed.

    He also seemed to be missing a sword. If you are going with the more sensible option of him only wielding 1 sword for now, despite obtaining two, you may want to introduce that (or the basic type/style of swordsmanship he will learn) back in the training section when Lambda introduces himself as a swordsman.

    On the wish fulfillment spectrum, I would like to see Alan introduce Kitana to the hacking game so she can challenge Lambda to ‘friendly’ duels.

    Like

  23. Anonymous says:

    THIS STORY IS AWESOME!!!
    it makes me feel like a kid watching dbz for the first time. i agree with the guy further up saying the premise is great, i totally agree. but i’m sorry to say it is hard to be the first (I first saw aliens fighting wars with games instead of soldiers on the FIRST star trek with William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy). although this universe is a really cool place. almost everything modern came from the twilight zone, star trek, hp Lovecraft, mythology, religion & some other people i will remember later. hell i’m not even sure Philip k Dick, Ursula Le Guin or Larry Niven came up with all there stuff first. Was Jack Finney the first one to do body snatchers? (I think so but I’m not sure hmmm…)

    Like

    • Injest says:

      You’re misunderstanding what I mean by the premise. I don’t think anyone else has ever done a story where people are thrown into a virtual reality to fight a proxy war that defines territories in their universe.

      Concepts and tropes are a different story.

      Like

  24. Dustin Boyed says:

    Great addition to the story. Keep them coming!

    Like

  25. Love the story!!
    This the start of a new age of writing

    Like

  26. Anonymous says:

    FIVE STARS. great pace, great plot, great action, great tech, good main character everything is can think of about this book i love.

    These books are AWESOME!!! I think I am addicted.

    Like

  27. Anonymous says:

    This Universe is cool

    Like

  28. Anonymous says:

    With Eve and Lambda being able to talk inside Alan’s head, are they literal incarnations of good/evil such as Qareem. Or are they both the devil such as graced Carcer in discworld?

    Like

  29. jmike010 says:

    Have you had any thoughts on writing any side stories for any of the other characters or places in the Gam3 universe? Love the story cant wait for more!

    Like

  30. Faustabor says:

    Alan down at his power armor, then at Thiago’s suit. “Yes.”

    Should be

    Alan looked down at his power armor, then at Thiago’s suit. “Yes.”

    Like

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