The War for Earth 4.5

Alan was lead into a private room with a metal stool. As Alan sat down the doors shut behind him. A screen lit up in front of him. There was a click; Alan was cut off from detecting anything outside the room. He reached out his senses and only felt a void.

Standard Administrator security procedure for important conversations. No signal will enter or exit this room, Lambda sent. This might get interesting, whatever you do don’t mention me.

The screen was now displaying messages:

Contacting…

Handshaking…

Secure contact established.

The Chief Administrator appeared, walled in by screens of information, his cyborg appearance masked by graphs and simulations.

“Greetings Traveler, there was the recent outbreak of a program that has been known to exhibit destructive tendencies. You were located within the sector at the time of its escape thus it’s suspected you may have information about the breakout which was impossible according to our best systems architects. Do you have any information that might aid in an investigation?”

There was a half-second pause.

“No? Nothing? Good, I’ll report that,” Chief Administrator 170 said. He tapped a few keys. “There, it’s reported. However, if by any chance you were to run into the rogue program tell them I told you so. Of course, you should report the sighting to the nearest authorities as soon as you are able before doing any of that.”

Wait. That’s the Chief Administrator? Lambda asked.

You know him? Alan asked.

Maybe? I have the impression he’s a decent chap. Not sure how he ended up an Administrator, it’s been a while, Lambda sent.

“That being said, it is my obligation to inform you of the consequences of your actions should you be discovered to have aided the fugitive or be responsible for the destruction of system architecture,” the Chief Administrator said. “Releasing dangerous programs back into the Game earns you a 10000 credit, 1000 penalty point fine and you must capture the program and return it to the Administrators or face stricter penalties. Destruction of system architecture would net you a warning and 5000 penalty points. I see you’ve already earned one warning. Don’t earn any more.

“Penalty points I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about, but I would remind you that they must be paid back within a standard year of their acquirement. If they are not you are either imprisoned or forced into indentured servitude. Penalty points are earned through breaking Administrator laws or losing wars, the exact penalty depending on how high in the food chain you were and the destruction the war caused. Points are repaid by aiding Administrator forces or joining the faction and completing requests. Any penalty of 1000 points or greater will come with a task to help maintain order that you must fulfill. Any penalty of 5000 points or greater will result in your imprisonment.

“At this point in time I’m supposed to act as your mentor, but you’ve already found plenty of those. You made it to the Academy, and trained under Cerberus. Keep working hard. Or don’t. I don’t really care. Just try not to do anything too groundbreaking or system shaking; nothing that will result in untold amounts of paperwork. I actually might have a short break sometime soon.”

The Chief Administrator took a breath of air, about to continue his tirade.

“Wait, I have questions,” Alan said. “Is there a reward for the capture of the rogue program? And if I were to pick up a random program, what potential damage could they do to me, as a Machine Lord? Should I be scared of irreparable damage?

Hey! Lambda sent.

I need to keep up appearances, Alan replied.

“You should always be scared of irreparable damage and unknown programs,” the Chief Administrator said. “This program in question has been known to wreak havoc and destruction, but of in-game software, not Players. Unless you count senses of humor, they’ve likely ruined a few of those. You should not be worried about any AI that are listed as yours causing you harm, in the history of the Game there have been no recorded instances of AI acting maliciously towards their owners. They have however given bad advice and served as poor moral compasses, but nowadays, what even is a compass? I digress. To answer your first question, there is a 100 platinum mark reward and significant reputation gain for the capture of the program.”

If you sell me out- Lambda began.

Don’t worry. The thought hasn’t crossed my mind. You should know, you live there, Alan sent.

All possibilities should be considered, Eve sent.

Well, what about this possibility: you turn me in, I turn you in, and they now know you were the one that deleted their code, Lambda sent.

No one’s turning anyone in, Alan sent.

A few screens popped up, masking the Chief Administrator’s face completely.

“Oh, and when I said no more free favors the last time we talked I meant it,” the Chief Administrator said. “No more using my name to bypass lines or get free vault space. You need to pay the same as anyone else for storage. If you want perks you need to earn them by building up your reputation with the Administrators like anyone else. Let’s see here, the storage of three high-valued items in the Vault, bypassing Administrative lines thrice, and the storage of a large amount of trade goods in an Earth vault. I think your total comes to 3 platinum marks, 7 diamond marks, 2 gold marks and 4 silver marks. I’ll knock off the silver marks.”

“Wait, the trade goods aren’t mine,” Alan said.

“Fine, 2 platinum marks, 5 diamond marks and 1 gold mark,” the Chief Administrator said. “If you have important information, we might be able to work something out if you don’t have the marks on hand. Otherwise I may need to impose penalty points.”

Three items? You got three items from the Abyss Labyrinth? What else are you not telling me about? Lambda sent.

I have three items stored in the Vault: the soulsteel knife, a black power crystal and Predecessor blood, Alan sent.

Well, if the black crystal was powering the Abyss Labyrinth then it is a void crystal. They’re mined there by the prisoners. It’d take a few million of those green crystals to fill the void crystal, hundreds of billions of credits. Tell him everything about the Abyss Labyrinth, Lambda sent.

Everything? Alan asked.

Chief Administrators can see what items you have stored in Administrator vaults, so he’s likely put the story together himself by now,  Lambda sent.

Eve? Alan asked.

I concur, Eve sent. Begrudgingly.

Hey, look who’s learned a new word, Lambda sent.

Alan recounted what happened in the Abyss Labyrinth.

“To free the beast or become its prey; quite the dilemma you have there,” the Chief Administrator said. “Well it’s nice to have a horse in the running for once. I think that information is worth the fee, and tell you what. I’ll give you five permanent spaces in the Vault for small to medium sized items and let you continue to skip Administrative Center lines. Do what you will with the storage space. Rent it out, sell it, whatever.”

“Aren’t you concerned about the Abyss Labyrinth? The power running out, the inmates escaping?” Alan asked.

“Yes, but it’s one concern of many,” the Chief Administrator said. “And you say there are still thousands of years until system shutdown. Also you aren’t the only one aware of that particular quest. So if you want to make a move, it might be better to do so sooner rather than later.

“I see that you are currently embroiled in the so-called War for Earth. You worry about the future of your planet, your species, your government and way of life. My advice is don’t be. Time passes. Things change. There are countless conflicts, countless problems with the universe and the Game. Yours is but one of many. At least the Predecessor’s had the right idea, if no way to realize it. Aleph, a beautiful flawed dream, infinity manifest. ”

“Wait, weren’t you the one that told me your goal is to balance the Game?” Alan asked.

“The balance is about to break,” the Chief Administrator said. “The status quo is only the status quo for so long, progress always seems to get in the way. The Administrators have tried stepping in during major conflicts, but we’ve learned it’s best to pick up the pieces that are left afterwards. Easier, and less costly. Then we try to maintain a fragile peace for as long as possible.

“Speaking of balance, I should discuss with you the unlocked Machine Lord abilities. The requirements are 50 platinum marks, level 500, and the successful completion of one gamma-ranked quest or greater. I will only grant you one.

“Your options are as follows: Machine Overlord, which would allow you to command an additional AI, Machine Empath, which would greatly enhance your ability to communicate with machines and enhance your processing speed, Machine Commander, which would allow you to control one S-class drone or its combat equivalent, and Machine Champion, which would increase your base stats and allow you to train in a limited number of psionic-like abilities.”

“One S-class drone? That’s it?” Alan asked.

“The Administrators are in charge of balance, remember? Before the drone restriction that’s all battles ever were, drones fighting drones. Drones controlling drones. Drones running drone factories. Don’t get me started on the Drone Wars. Never should of happened. Cloning is banned for the same reason.

“Now I could go on about balance implementations for days but there’s more to life than arguing about things you can’t change. We’ll see who was right and who was wrong in the coming years. Oh, and I’d remind you that you can send me a message if you ever have information to share. Good luck.”

“Bye,” Alan said as the Chief Administrator ended the connection.

How do you know him? Alan asked Lambda.

I’m not sure, Lambda sent. Maybe it was just a guy that looked like the guy I knew. It’s all sort of fuzzy. I had a few memory wipes, and there are fragments. The story is on the tip of my tongue.

Well if you remember, let me know, Alan sent.

Yes boss, Lambda sent.

Alan was led out by a guard to Thiago and Kitana.

“Who were you talking to?” Thiago asked.

“Class trainer,” Alan said. “And you’re going to need to pay the vault storage fee.”

Thiago sorted out the storage fees and then they took an automated car to a safe house he prepared. The warehouse was compromised due to Aphrodite’s betrayal. She had gone radio silent or had ditched her armor and tablet, none of Lambda’s bugs picked anything up.

The safe house wasn’t much, an apartment room with basic security, but it was a place to sleep. The team turned in for the night.

***

“Why do you have a safe house, anyways?” Alan asked over breakfast. Gel cubes. They tasted blander than usual.

“Like I said, I have plans,” Thiago said. “That being said, we need to scope out the New York Stock Exchange. According to these blueprints while the base architecture is the same as the pre-game building there are additional barriers and scanners. There are bound to be unlisted defenses as well.”

“I don’t understand,” Kitana said. “Aren’t there redundancies, backups for the data? Shouldn’t we be attacking the data center?”

“We are attacking the data, but not directly,” Alan said. “All the data, all the exchanges, are funneled to a single point, the Market, the built-in Game architecture for trade. Once any data reaches the Market it’s untouchable; whatever deal you make is locked in. What we’re going to be hacking into is the servers that connect the trading floor to the Market, the servers that connect most of the capsules in the city to the Market in fact. At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see if it’s feasible.”

“Is that against Administrator rules?” Kitana asked.

Maybe, Eve sent.

Not if we do it right, Lambda sent.

Alan shrugged.

“But first we need to figure out how we’re going to get in,” Thiago said. “I’ve examined the background of a few of the workers and I have prepared-”

“Actually,” Alan said, “I think I can just walk in, invisible.” He had worked out the details with Eve and Thiago, they should be able to get through undetected.

“Just walk in? I’m not one to doubt your skills, Alan, but they’re bound to have some of the most advanced detection systems in-game,” Thiago said.

“If I was wearing basic Revenant armor like yours, I could see the problem, but trust me, my advanced armor has gotten me through tougher security than anything the UWG is capable of,” Alan said. Eve and Lambda concurred.

“Fine. Go. Be my guest, let me know how it goes,” Thiago said. “Kitana, you’re with me. I have the feeling we might need a bunch of muscle soon, I want to make a few enquiries. Make contact with a few old friends, put a bounty on Aphrodite. We meet back here at two p.m.”

“Sounds good,” Alan said. Kitana nodded.

***

Alan breezed through the security checkpoints placed throughout the city. The sensors were fooled by his armor’s advanced stealth mode. The ability to replicate the surrounding waves, from light to sound to smell was, he had to admit, over powered.

The entrance to the New York Stock Exchange, with its small doorways and Corinthian columns proved to be a minor challenge, but by timing it correctly Alan was able to enter a door right behind a random worker.

The trading floor seemed quiet and empty. There were no shouting traders in suits, no desks stacked with paper. The once open space now had three levels of capsules and screens. Technicians hovered about, making sure everything was working. These capsules seemed more advanced, with additional connections pouring in liquid silver and crackling green sparks.

Nanites and energy, Eve sent. Enough sightseeing, we have a mission.

Alan proceeded down to the server room, following the blueprints provided by Icewolf as well as Eve’s mapping of the building. The few times he encountered a locked door he was able to hack his way through; Lambda placed backdoors so that he would be able to access them later. Three locked doorways later Alan paused before the door that led to the main servers, doubling back and hiding in a bathroom where he could regain his power armor’s energy in peace.

A few close calls later Alan was back in front of the main server room. He initiated a hack.

Alright Lambda and Eve, do your thing, Alan sent.

There’s a slight problem, Lambda sent. Come see for yourself.

Alan activated Divided Mind, sending half of his consciousness into Cyberspace. As soon as he connected he saw the problem, there was a giant green shield covering the systems of the room. It had a million energy, far too much to take down before becoming noticed. Two large green beams of light shot off the top of the shield, going out into the distance, to who knew where.

Back out of Cyberspace Alan examined the room using his cybernetic eye. There was a similar laser field protecting the room, invisible to the naked eye, connected to two other constructs. There was no such defense in the schematics Icewolf had provided. Alan cancelled Divided Mind.

A three anchor shield system, Lambda sent as he probed the defense. All three anchor points will need to be taken down to destroy the shield, otherwise the other points will continually restart the shields. One anchor point is in the direction of the Capture Point, the other somewhere else downtown.

In other words? Alan asked.

In other words we’re not getting into that server unless we take down the Capture Point, this shield here, and whatever the last anchor point is defending, Lambda sent.

How is that even fair, or built, shouldn’t there be a weak point to exploit? Alan asked.

There may be one, but we don’t have weeks to try and pinpoint it, Lambda sent. The Haxlards have clearly invested in the city’s defenses, this reeks of their handiwork.

Great, so not only do we have to worry about their possible presence in the city, to potentially defend their assets, but they’ve installed security measures we know nothing about, Alan sent.

Pretty much, Lambda sent.

We should determine the location of the third anchor point and confirm the existence of the connection to the Capture Point, Eve sent. We can discuss a plan once we share our discovery with Thiago.

Alright, Alan sent.

He exited the New York Stock Exchange, locking onto and following the signal the shield system output. Amid all the signals flying about the city, it was hard to pin one down.

It’s that one, Eve sent, highlighting the signal.

As expected, the signal flew into the big blue shield that blocked the Statue of Liberty from view. That was one anchor point. Only a few blocks and half a bay away. To Alan’s surprise, the third anchor point was even closer, two blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange.

They have to be close to keep connected, Eve sent.

Is this really it? Alan asked.

Yup, Lambda sent. It appears the final anchor point is located in the Federal Reserve.

Alan sighed.

***.

“So you’re telling me that we have to break into the New York Capture Point, Federal Reserve and Stock Exchange?” Thiago asked.

“Yes, then break the shields within minutes of each other or they will keep resetting,” Alan said.

“Great, let’s do it,” Thiago said.

“What?” Alan asked.

“We each take an objective,” Thiago said. “You help Kitana into the Capture Point, then meet up with me and a team of mercenaries I hire to break into the Federal Reserve. Finally, you sneak into the New York Stock Exchange by yourself. If we succeed, we deal three resounding blows, and hopefully attention is spread out enough that no one faces too much resistance. Kitana, can you defeat the Capture Point Guardian and defend it against invaders?”

“If that is what is required of me,” Kitana said.

“I’m not sure this a good idea,” Alan said. “Think of the consequences if we do succeed.”

“Since when did you have morals, Alan?” Thiago asked.

“Since I was tasked with potentially taking down the world’s economy,” Alan said. “I don’t know about you but I don’t feel comfortable taking away people’s retirement funds and potentially leaving millions jobless.”

“Millions are already jobless, always have been, and always will be. They won’t starve to death, not with the Enforcers around, so you can clear your guilty conscious, Alan,” Thiago said. “It’s not my fault if others are too weak to defend their wealth. We are redistributing funds to a better cause.

“The world is filled with leeches and sycophants whose only desire is to get by, to ride on the coattails of others to greatness. Do you know where most retirement funds end up? In the bank. People are too scared to spend their wealth, and when they do it’s for drugs and sports cars, luxury items that serve no cause. Well I have a better cause. My cause.”

“But how do you know that’s the right cause, a good cause?” Alan asked.

“Who the fuck cares,” Thiago said. “I know it’s better than anyone else’s. Grow up, Alan. If you aren’t willing to take what you want someone else is. And even then stronger men will come along anyways and force you down. Look at the situation Earth is in now, we’re pushed along like little chess pieces, serving unknown masters. I say we take this wealth for ourselves, become a power in our own right.”

Thiago stepped over to Alan and put a hand on his shoulder. “You’re always training, trying to get stronger, grow your character, whatever that means. But for what end? Without a goal, without a dream, you’re nothing but a sad scrap of a man.”

“And what’s your goal?” Alan asked.

Thiago spread his arms wide. “Do you have to ask? To rule the universe, or at least as much of it as I can, and impose my will on the world.”

“You’re mad,” Alan said.

“Mad? Alan, you poor, sheltered gamer,” Thiago said. “Do you think the Game is fair? Do you think everyone is safe, that the United World Government is doing everything they can to help those that are in need? They aren’t, they’re too worried about covering their own asses and building up worthless favor with their masters. Follow me.” Thiago strode out of the doorway. Alan followed behind.

“You can follow me if I’m invisible, right?” Thiago asked.

Alan nodded. Thiago activated his armor’s basic invisibility. Alan activated his own, and followed Thiago down a few blocks. They stopped in front of a warehouse.

“Welcome,” Thiago said, “to the drug house of the future. Don’t worry about the noise, they won’t mind.”

Capsules lined the warehouse, basic models stacked on top of each other, crammed into every inch of space. Each contained a person within.

“This doesn’t seem so bad,” Alan said.

“It doesn’t?” Thiago asked. “Even if I told you not a single one of these people would leave their capsule for the rest of their lives? They’re all in the Arcade, moving from one fantasy to the next. They won’t help Earth. They won’t help themselves. Do they deserve the credits they’ve saved, spent on personal delusions and forgetting a real world exists?”

“And how would you change this?” Alan asked.

“I’d ban such places, put them to work,” Thiago said. “Make them earn their dreams. But does the UWG care? No, they’re taxpaying adults, who cares what they do with their lives? That’s why, eventually, they’ll fall. Have you noticed yet, Alan? There are no true democracies in the Game. Everyone rules through power: the Three, the Emperor, the Families. Democracy doesn’t work when fundamentally people are not equal.

“I can show you worse, much worse in this city. This is tame, these people are happy where they are. You’d be surprised what people do for money, when money can mean eternal bliss. On Khersath I witnessed hundreds of people willingly sell themselves into slavery. Chasing their damn high.”

Thiago spun on his feet, jabbing his finger into Alan’s chest. “You’ve probably got it worse than any of us.”

“What?” Alan asked.

“The Game has made a fucking art form out of addiction,” Thiago said. “They say drugs are dangerous because they provide a direct pathway to your brain, messing with the chemistry. What do you think the Game is? Could you ever stop?

“We’re lucky, the UWG in their infinite wisdom sold capsules outright. They didn’t have to, they could have rented them out. Then, over time, they could raise the rent prices, slowly and surely, draining everyone. But they didn’t. Tell me, Alan, have you looked into recent birthrates?”

“No,” Alan said.

“Well it’s safe to say they’ve nosedived straight off a cliff. Having babies is expensive, even more so when you need to afford a capsule for them,” Thiago said.

“But we have an increased lifespan-”

“And who takes care of the baby while you play the Game? You end up with spoiled children that never know their parents, pieces of shit with no regard for lives other than their own,” Thiago said. “I don’t know what you were doing in Khersath but let me tell you there were places where humans were luxury servants, a novelty. But there were other species as well, dying species that were special for their rarity. I won’t let that happen to humanity.

“So, Alan, you tell me whether or not the good people of Earth need a wakeup call, something to kick them out of their apathy.”

Lambda? How do I respond to this? Alan sent.

I think it best if you figure this out on your own, Lambda replied.

Alan leaned on a wall, thinking. The empty streets of Khersath popped into his head.

“I understand your concerns,” Alan said, “but I think you’re overplaying it a bit. There are just as many people who are actively trying in the Game. Who are getting stronger to defend Earth, who are trying to get settled and ready before having children. The people here, they’ll get bored. The knowledge that you’re interacting with others, with real people and making a difference is worth more than you may think.”

“I hope you’re right Alan, I really do,” Thiago said. “But you don’t know addiction like I do. I had hoped that if you tried the stimulants you would realize how everything is amplified in the Game. I need you to give it your all tomorrow, the plan has no hope without you.”

“I was always going to do it,” Alan said. “I agreed as a member of the Black Rose guild to win this war, and taking down an entire economy sounds like it could be fun.”

Bring up the matter of compensation, Lambda sent.

“But,” Alan continued, “I want 10% of what’s acquired from the raid on the Federal Reserve.”

“Fine, 10% of what we earn from the raid,” Thiago said. “Mercenaries are expensive, especially last minute.”

“If it’s net earnings I want 15%, under contract,” Alan said.

“Fine, 15% of net, do we have a deal?” Thiago asked.

“Deal,” Alan said.

A message popped up, notifying a contract had been formed. Thiago would pay Alan 15% of what was earned from the raid on the Federal Reserve.

Alan set back out into the city. There was a great deal of prep work that needed to happen if tomorrow’s plan had any chance of succeeding.

90 comments on “The War for Earth 4.5

  1. Ephemerality says:

    Welp, 1 chapter down. Was their too much dialogue? What lines were good or bad? I know dialogue is one of my weak points so I’m trying to improve ;P

    Liked by 5 people

    • toki says:

      It very well written. I dont remember any bad line that would struck me in the eye while reading.
      Thank you for the chapter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • John says:

      Just wondering about the line saying “babies are expensive, especially when you need capsules for them.” I thought at one point it was mentioned players weren’t allowed in the game until after hitting adulthood?

      Also, going back a few chapters to when he took out the bandits using the sniper, but the sniper’s scope was too weak to identify who exactly he was firing at, couldn’t he have used his eye’s 800x (if I remember correctly) zoom instead of the sniper’s scope?

      Just some questions I had.

      Liked by 1 person

      • qwer says:

        It was mentioned in one of the earlier chapters (somewhere near the start of Arc 2?) that only people playing the Game are allowed to have children. Also of note, in the middle of Arc 2 Eve mentioned that having sex in the Game could result in actual pregnancy under the right circumstances. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say those two statements are probably related.

        Like

      • qwer says:

        I completely agree about the scope/ his eyes.
        Assuming he can’t use his eyes and the scope together (and it seems like he should be able to), his eyes alone should have magnified that to the equivalent of 33 feet away.

        Like

      • h2h1zzz says:

        Qwer I think it mean IG babies not RL baby. So you be growing a digital representation of the two peoples’ union.

        Like

      • qwer says:

        @h2h1zzz
        Until we hear otherwise, I’m assuming that the capsules, uh… artificially inseminate them somehow. It the nanomachines in the capsules can surgically augment their bodies (and assemble components for that) and manage their bodies to the extent they do, something like artifical insemination would probably be relatively simple. Just speculation, but seems pretty likely.

        Also, nearly baseless speculation here:
        From how familiar Aurora was with the Homes (and how lived in it was, etc.) despite her being a new enough player to enroll in the Academy, I got the impression that people too young to join the Game could still use capsules (if only to go to their Home… and maybe to the Arcade or Marketplace).

        Like

      • oblivious says:

        @qwer yeah, my impression after we saw Khersath was that kids are still in virtual reality, just not the Game.

        Like

    • vonridel says:

      Dialog is the meat and bones of any story. I don’t believe it is possible to have too much.

      The art is in getting across emotions and characteristics of the setting within the dialog as much as you can and reducing the need for long descriptive paragraphs.

      Remember, there are very few books that can have Tolkeinesque length paragraphs and get away with it. Most bore the reader into putting down the book.

      Like

    • takdmo says:

      Dialogue reminded me of dialogue you have in a game. Just a neutral comment.

      Like

    • Mark Long says:

      Yeah the dialogue had no problems in it. It give more information about the characters. We never knew the Thiago wanted but now we do. And now we also have a insight to Alan what he think about the game. So its good.

      Like

    • CCaprice says:

      Love it, good chapter. Dialogue is important and you are doing fine. Keep up the good work.

      Like

    • ER1 says:

      Dialogue is very good in general. But the specific discussion and arguments you made were juvenile and immature. Your character argues that people who worked and saved for their retirement plans should lose them because your character doesn’t like the choices the make in using their money. So freedom of choice should be ripped away from them, in favor of a tyrant’s view of what they should do with what they worked for. Further, Alan bargains for net 15% of what is STOLEN. The moral high ground doesn’t exist in their arguments. If you want a moral high ground than you’d focus on the government’s corrupt role in promoting the wealth disparity where hard work and individual achievement are not rewarded by a corrupt system that fails to fairly present and execute a social contract where regulated capitalism with a mix of socialism, maximizes incentives for personal,achievement and reward, but redistributing some wealth to educate and climb the ladder of success those who are willing to work hard and contribute. For those who are unable, the social contract should provide health care, and a means to maximize their ability to contribute and heal from mental and other illness. About the only thing in which I agree is that addiction should not be promoted or rewarded. But it should be recognized as a disease, and treated as an illness, not a punishable offense. If someone truly can’t be treated, then not much to do or solve. But that still doesn’t justify theft or disruption of what people worked hard for. One problem is that your storyline justifies attacks on the innocents rather than the people in power. I’d have chosen to disrupt and take 95% of the wealth from the top 1% and redistribute it to incentivize people to solidify against the invading aliens. Change the consequences of corruption by making corruption punishable with the worst possible penalties. Force those in power to work as they should, for the better of all who would work to improve those who would contribute to society. Imposing his insane view of justified stealing and disruption on ordinary, non militants, non governmental individuals is a thoughtless, juvenile position. Put it this way, if the consequences were the ruination of his hard working parents, brothers, sisters, friends and loved ones, all of whom worked hard their entire lives only to wake up and find themselves without money to eat, to survive, would he still do it? Kill his family, friends and loved ones? Of course not. And if he were willing to, he’d be an unsympathetic monster who should be killed off.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        It will be interesting to see if his parents do become bankrupt!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ephemerality says:

        I think you raise some good points. That being said, Alan and Thiago are immature. I do not consider Alan to be a “good guy.” However, I do think I will incorporate into Thiago’s plans using gained wealth to get more humans into the Game and recruit them into his faction, spreading out the wealth a bit. He’d probably be most comfortable with something akin to a draft though.

        Like

      • b says:

        I would not really care if alans family were threatened .There has been little mention of them at all, and no screen time at all. I can not even remember if he has siblings or not.

        Like

    • Anonymous says:

      You should just stop working on whatever else your working on, buy shackles, shackle yourself to a desk and start wrighting more frequently because even if you released a chapter every second day it does not satesfy my need for this webnovel. Giod luck

      Like

    • blubb says:

      You should give Thiago a backstory, where he lost someone close to him to addiction.
      Or he has a big family and treasures connections between ppl.
      Else his motivation sounds rahter unbelievable

      Like

  2. Nope. Not too much dialog. It was necessary. Great chapter, it’s a build up for the next,which should be action packed. Keep up the great work man.

    Like

  3. Colbertopus says:

    I really liked it, it’s improved a lot since you first started. Thanks for the chapter!

    Like

  4. Dustin Boyed says:

    Great story work. I wouldn’t say ther ewas to much dialogue. You hvae a lot of stuff about to go down and it is good to know all the story. I couldn’t really pick out any bad parts. I like that you are making Alan think more for himself. He seems way to dependant on his two AIs. Overall a solid addition to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toki says:

      I would say that in the past chapters he let almost all decision to AI, but in this chapter there is clear distinction between Alan and AI. You can see that he has a character. Even though he is dependant on AI, it is shown as his quirk/personal characteristic.

      Like

  5. Melancholy says:

    Aww man, I hoped he would’ve just killed Thiago…maybe I’m a bit too vengeful though

    Like

    • vonridel says:

      Kill Thiago once you have th loot. 100% is better than 15%. And, Alan can then put his vision of the future into play and not Thiago’s.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Remember, Thiago could revive and just go bite him back in the ass.

        Like

      • qwer says:

        And piss of the Black Rose Guild for killing his employer.

        “Good luck on the mission, Alan. And do watch out for Thiago, I don’t trust him either. If you disobeyed one or two commands, no one ever need to know; it’d be his word against yours.”
        >one or two commands
        He’s got some wiggle room, but not for anything important or remotely traceable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • vonridel says:

        True. Killing Thiago and taking the loot could only be done after he fulfilled the guild’s obligation.

        I suggest it be done about two seconds after. No telling how it would be moved off planet, but Alan would be well equipped to take it by any number of methods.

        I like the idea of it happening, anyway. We’ll have to wait and see what Cosimo has in a store.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        The deal (message prompt that came up) was only for what was stolen from the federal reserve…nothing about from the stock market. He can just keep quiet and take the lot from there

        Like

  6. Ermenegildo says:

    Loved it… and the line between the “real” world and the game blurry always more

    Like

  7. Philo says:

    I like how he is eventually realizing that he has no purpose in the game. He’s not fighting for a cause, not trying to gain power over others, he’s just puttering by. I suspect reasonably soon we will see a drastic character change (though I can’t say I’m necessarily looking forward to it). I REALLY hope it’s not some moral cause like ‘save Earth’ or ‘make the game better for people’. I appreciate that Ephemerality is leaving him open: not a hero, not evil.

    Like

  8. Sweet, keep it up

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    I Like that Alan is his own character and isn’t defined by stereotypes

    Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    Nice chapter🙂

    as Thiago left the Academy at the same time, can Alan implicate him in Lambda’s breakout and get him permanently jailed?

    In regards to those machine lord skills, as the chief will only grant him 1, he should probably inquire as to who can grant him others🙂

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Did He not already get one of the skills from the vault that Lambda came from? so wouldn’t this be the second one.

      Like

      • qwer says:

        It would be his second one.
        But knowing he can get more than one would be all the more reason to find out how to get a third or fourth.

        Like

    • Gauntlet-KI says:

      Yes, if lambda doesn’t have the information then, we really need to get that Jack-of-all trades skill requirement wiki ability. “Oh to get machine champion (hopefully not an augment {stat enhancers??} all you need to do is 1) _____, 2) ____, 3) ____, …etc.. though maybe there are some skills you can’t get without purchasing, or having it given to you😦

      Like

  11. h2h1zzz says:

    Fair job on the dialogue, you might have done better somewhere but I couldn’t say where (I suck at detailed/organized writing). All in all good job and (the ever present) MOOOOAAAAAARRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  12. gallandro83 says:

    Just bought your book and found my way here after.

    I have a couple of questions that came up that deal with continuity issues.

    1. What happened to the additional Charisma and Luck stat points Alan had at the end of book 2. The last status window showed charisma with a 24+20. I had assumed he still had the 24 basic points in addition to the 20 given for the General Status Enhancer Implant. Once the Enhancer was consumed by the Blood Rite it still should have left Allen with his 24 points rather than 1. In addition Luck went from 72 +20 to 42 which made no sense to me at all.

    2. What do you mean when you say Alan needed to master 2 skills? I am assuming that ties into the Skill Proficiency aspect of his status window. I am confused though since his ranking changed from book 2 to 3 where it went from A3422 to B43522. It seems that the B level means his ranking slipped but I can’t figure out why. Also he has two skills Knife Mastery and Sword Mastery that seem to imply he is beyond the basic stage. Just how is this calculated in game (not that we may see him do this and go back to the Academy) but it was confusing to me?

    I am also wondering how Phantom knew Alan had an A combat rank. It isn’t part of his status screen and I can’t see that Cerberus would make the combat rank Alan gained in his private obstacle course public knowledge. Is this something that being a Black Rose Guild squire gives Phantom as his mentor/knight or is it something everyone can find out/know?

    In addition I think Alan needs to contact Phantom and discuss the contract that the Black Rose guild is operating under. Thiago sounds like he is in it to become emperor is the contract with Thiago personally or is he just an agent of representing a faction/government that the Guild has a contract with?

    gallandro

    Like

    • gallandro83 says:

      sorry the proficiency rank was for Sniper (advanced) that changed from book 2 to 3

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      He lost the +20’s when he lost the general status enhancer. he then lost 30 stats in each category after he died in the snipers game (shot by thiago) down to a minimum level of 1. That *may* get changed in the future during editing as he hadn’t achieved the +200 lvls from finishing intermediate combat exam at that point and his penalties would have been less. Maybe. The academy arc is getting changed around a bit so who knows how it will end up.

      Death also causes a loss of levels (he lost 30 iirc. Again, that may change), and also a reduction in skill levels, with possible loss of skills too.

      At what rate do Players lose levels/stats? that is hard to say. we currently have 2 points to work with. under lvl 100 he lost 5 on every stat and 5 lvls. being around lvl 520 he lost 30 on every stat and 30 lvls. At a guess, this means that they lose 5 on every stat and 5 levels for every 100 lvls or part there of they have acquired.

      Like

      • gallandro83 says:

        but that was a death in a safe zone so it shouldn’t have effected any of his levels and all his gear was saved by admins at that time as well which is why it is so odd for me

        Like

      • gallandro83 says:

        Sorry found where he lost the levels in the assassins game can’t believe I missed it

        Like

      • qwer says:

        @gallandro83
        It wasn’t a safe zone, it was a zone with people policing it.
        And his gear was saved by employees of the Academy, not by Administrators.

        Like

  13. Tokenup! says:

    Not that it really matters, but why does Alan and Thiago keep saying sniper instead of rifle? I mean the sniper is the person not the gun. And another reason to kill Thiago….the bounty from the warrior teacher. Awesome story!

    Like

  14. oblivious says:

    CGPGrey put out a youtube video recently called ‘you are two,’ which might be of interest to Gam3 readers (I won’t link it because I don’t know what this blog software will consider spam). It made me think of Alan’s spar with Red Tyrant, where he doesn’t realize he’s acting on Eve’s suggestions. There was also a line from last update (“No. Let’s get moving,” Alan said) which sounded like an Eve line. We might have to wait another 2/3rds of an in-game year before we get to see Alan’s synchronicity with Eve😦

    Looks like Machine Empath is the tactician/leader option, and Machine Champion is the frontlines/solo option. Would increasing “base stats” mean that he’s stronger than the rest of his race at every numerical stat value?

    I think this is the first time it’s been mentioned that Thiago was wearing Revenant armor or that his armor had an invisibility function. I find this interesting because it means both of our known human rogues (aside from Alan) ripped off elements of Alan’s build after seeing what he can do. Thiago even ripped the invisible sniper shtick.

    It looks like Thiago is maybe being set up as Alan’s foil. Compare Thiago’s position in this chapter (“virtual reality is a drug”) with what Alan told Daisy at the Academy (“what’s the difference between bits and strings?”).

    The dialogue in this chapter is good. 170 is sort of strange, but in a way that I’m sure is deliberate. Reading Kitana speak can be weird because her ‘voice’ mostly involves not speaking and disinterest, so I guess I find it jarring when she acts like a person. In general the dialogue problem in The Gam3 is probably the vacillation between one-liners and long monologues, but that isn’t a problem in this chapter. It feels like Alan is having conversations in this chapter, where it has sometimes felt like an NPC is dumping information on him in the past.

    “However, if by any chance you were to run into the rogue program tell them I told you so.” It took me a while to parse this. Partly it’s the ‘singular they.’ Partly I thought “I told you so” was supposed to be a reference to something he had just said, not the literal content of the message.

    “reap havoc.” I think this should be “wreak havoc.”

    I agree, Clone Wars and Drone Wars never should have happened. What kind of scifi universe is this!?! And don’t even get me started on the micro-organism explanation for psionics. However, this seems at odds with an earlier explanation that Players are used instead of robots due to cost.

    I had to look up what the Federal Reserve building in New York might be storing that’s valuable. Apparently they do store gold reserves and stuff, but when I hear “federal reserve,” I think about hypothetical money on computers. This might just be because I’m not American.

    “He had worked out the details with Eve and Thiago, they should be able to get through undetected.” Should this say “Eve and Lambda?”

    Why have birthrates already been effected? Alan has only been a Player for a couple months or something, and capsules were rare and expensive at that time.

    Exciting (and long!) chapter. Thiago’s impression of Alan has clearly gotten a boost.

    Like

    • qwer says:

      “Why have birthrates already been effected?”
      Because the Enforcers are regulating them.

      Like

    • Ephemerality says:

      My argument would be that drones were cheaper when they were mass produced and able to be controlled freely without much regulation. Now, when they are customized with specialized parts/designs that are no longer produced en masse and require certain skills they’re more expensive.

      Like

  15. Pepirauks says:

    “Never should of happened. Cloning is banned for the same reason.” Yes, That mistake never should have happened.😦

    Like

  16. Ifoldforweed says:

    mad props

    Myself included, where bitching about the acadamy arc. I really enjoy the the new arc. It feels like storys goes along and every chapter we get some new pieces of the gam3 universe. Keep up the good work.

    Those dialog chapters are very likable, if you dont over use it will be fine.

    Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    Also, “wreak” havoc, not “reap” havoc

    Like

  18. Gauntlet-KI says:

    -Machine Overlord, which would allow you to command an additional AI; sweet we already got it.

    -Machine Empath, which would greatly enhance your ability to communicate with machines and enhance your processing speed; Greatly enhance… better than data-interaction?

    -Machine Commander, which would allow you to control one S-class drone or its combat equivalent; I guess he can get a pet…

    -Machine Champion, which would increase your base stats and allow you to train in a limited number of psionic-like abilities; remove the major weakness that he has? um Yes!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You can hardly judge before even knowing what a S-class drone or its combat equivalent is capable of.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        For a machine lord, a S ranked drone sounds like a capital space ship🙂

        Like

      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        I can judge, though it was a judgment about wither or not it would be nice to have a drone/slave in the story.

        Like

      • Tokenup! says:

        drone/slave…really? lmao that is like calling a hammer a slave.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        If swords and AI can generate souls in-game, why cant drones? Maybe there is a planet of dwarf or gnome like people that handcraft everything and they have leveling hammers with souls the way Kitana has a leveling sword with a soul. And they can get enslaved!!!!!!

        Do not knock Hammer Soul!

        Like

      • Tokenup! says:

        haha souls? Isn’t that politically incentive to atheists? Which brings it back to my original thought, political correctness is stupid. I don’t think that sword has a soul, I think it eets em to get stronger. +12 Hackmaster!

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Its politically insensitive for atheists not to acknowledge the beliefs of those who have souls! How dare they disparage the beliefs of the Bunny Overlords with the fastest of hearts and fluffiest of tails. The swine!

        Like

      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        Tokenup!, slave hammer? I don’t know how that relates. A slave does work for you, not the case with a hammer. you do work with a hammer. The drone is probably a robot (robot means slave), and you have slave computer systems doing work all the time IRL. so yes drone/robot/slave same thing.

        Like

      • Tokenup! says:

        Gauntlet, the comparison is a drone and a hammer are both tools without sentient thought. I see what you are saying about slaving a drive though…anyways just seemed like the message was don’t kick robot dogs (insert shrug here)

        Like

    • Conrad says:

      Chanpian sounds bad, he doesn’t need spooning abilities, it’s not his MO

      Like

      • Conrad says:

        Psionic, autocorrect is odd

        Like

      • qwer says:

        It increases his base stats in addition to granting limited spooning abilities.
        Which is to say, it removes all of his glaring weak points.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        weak points are good. I would have preferred if the increased base stats and spooning abilities were from 2 separate skills, and he never got spooning abilities. Given he has predecessor blood though, that seems unlikely.

        Like

      • Tokenup! says:

        Psionic ability like EMP burst maybe??

        Like

      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        It seems like Alan really wants spooning abilities “How do I get power like that”, he is already going for LASER EYES <)' ======= (BOOM) More spooning seems like a synergetic effect.

        Like

      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        Alan seems like he really wants the spooning upgrade thought. He is already going for the spooning eyes upgrade to shoot LASER BEAMS FROM HIS FREAKING EYES! [“Alan where is your sniper?”-Thiago “I am the sniper”-Alan] so I’m down for more spooning synergy.
        <) ===== **boom**

        Like

    • Now there is someone who thinks about what he reads

      Like

  19. Buddytime says:

    I think the line about AI never acting maliciously against their owners is very important for later on in the story. if AI corruption level is their ability to feel emotions and be more human who’s to say that AI with high corruption are not just humans with no “physical” body. i think this line foreshadows that in the future Lambda or Eve will turn on Alan and outright do something that will try and kill him.

    Like

  20. Can we expect the MC to start his own Guild/Corp in the future?

    Like

  21. Kallen says:

    Just one minor item that when I was reading that I noted

    “Actually,” Alan said, “I think I can just walk in, invisible.” He had worked out the details with Eve and Thiago, they should be able to get through undetected.

    I think that you meant Eve and Lambda and not Thiago. Other than that great chapter hope that you go with Champion. Keep up the great work.

    Like

  22. Chance says:

    Lovin the story, keep up the good work

    Like

  23. Anonymous says:

    The comment on the falling birth rate feels off. Aren’t capsules really expensive? How the hell would the game have an effect if only corporations, super wealthy and the government can afford it.

    Like

  24. Anonymous says:

    Its obvious no? Data is most important. Who control data control all. Even if boring goal, smallest goal ransom data big money get. Big goal control all of all. AI makes easier doing.

    Like

  25. Chance says:

    When’s the next chapter coming out?

    Like

    • Ephemerality says:

      Soon. It may or may not have been delayed by Pokemon Go. (Also I might just post one super long chapter, or two subsequent ones tomorrow.)

      Also you can now vote for The Gam3 at topwebfiction.com/?for=the-gam3

      Liked by 1 person

      • qwer says:

        Ayyyyyy…! 9th place in SciFi already.

        “It may or may not have been delayed by Pokemon Go.”
        Have you tried getting a chaperone and writing in transit?

        Like

      • oblivious says:

        that link tells me my vote for The Gam3 has been registered, but it doesn’t actually cause me to vote. I still needed to navigate to the listing and hit the vote button. People who follow that link might think they’ve already voted when they haven’t.

        Like

      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        Pokémon Go…I have already seen too many posting their screen shots. I grew up playing Pokémon yellow, but why Nintendo why? Stop giving crack to kids

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Ephemerality is trying to ascertain the degree of addiction required and the mindset to incorporate it into the story.

        Like

      • Gauntlet-KI says:

        I will do some Modern Physics problems while I wait for this “one super long, or two subsequent chapters” today

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m hyped for the one tonight really badly.

        Like

  26. illinois1 says:

    I like the dialog. I’d think he’d need more than day to pull such a big job. Especially the escape and moving any money, Kitana seems like she will be dead meat without a really good escape plan. . We had a lot about consequences in this chapter are the character going in as ninja’s? Has Adam completed a gamma level quest? Where is the quest for this mission?

    Like

    • qwe says:

      “Has Adam completed a gamma level quest?”
      No, but he won’t have 50 platinum marks until (at least) after he gets paid for finishing his mission.

      “Where is the quest for this mission?”
      Not on the scale at all. But the War for Earth is gamma-ranked.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      The Gamma Quest he is aware of (but not completed) is the abyss labyrinth

      Like

  27. Anonymous says:

    How many business’ like Icewolf’s Omnitech industries will Alan be able to acquire for a long term passive income during this heist?

    Like

  28. Nathan Striegel says:

    Psssssst. Do we still get chapters today or did you evolve your Evee?

    Like

  29. Anonymous says:

    Stronger hacking skills would be nice, pscionic power and everything nice but makes him more all around instead of specialized which is what Alan wants to do to be the best you need to stick to 1 field and rule the world aka hacking.

    Like

  30. Oak says:

    Thanks for the chapter

    Like

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