The Abyss 5.4

Specialist 3 stood still on the Control Point. A soft glow enveloped them, and they began selecting a series of options on a menu only they could see.

A message appeared:

[The Black Rose Guild now controls this quadrant of the Abyss Dungeon. Main Systems offline.]

Mason ran up to the Control Point, staring at Specialist 3. “Hey bot, who got that message?”

“I do not know,” Specialist 3 said. They stood at ease. “I suggest we repair a few of the defenses present and leave sufficient power crystals to keep them active.”

“What were the menus that appeared, what options did you choose?” Alan asked.

Specialist 3 turned to Alan. “I set myself as the area boss and chose the bonuses I wished to gain as the defender of this Control Point. As commander of this Control Points there are other options available, but they require the Main Systems to be brought online, which requires ten fully powered void crystals across Control Points under our control and a series of repair I don’t understand.” They brought up the map of the four boss zones, then highlighted another fifteen areas, places apparently offline that needed fixing. How much or what type of fixing, Specialist 3 did not know.

“An additional option has appeared,” Specialist 3 added. “With sufficient power I can open an entrance to a lower level of the Abyss Dungeon. I estimate 25 emerald energy crystals will suffice.”

“Wait, lower level?” Alan asked.

“Yes,” Specialist 3 said. They didn’t elaborate.

Mason scratched his bald head. “This changes plans. There isn’t any option of viewing prisoners, or releasing them?”

“No.”

Mason paced around the Control Point. “We lost more people than I was expecting in that fight, and we don’t know who knows we have this point. There’s one other capture point that’s a few days march away. We’ll head there, capture it, but then we should surface and work out new plans. We need to know who saw that message.”

“There isn’t anything about what the Main Systems are? What do we even get from controlling this place?” Alan asked.

“That portion of the content is unavailable.” Specialist 3 repeated a forward button press motion.

“Okay, you can stop trying,” Alan said after the tenth attempt. Specialist 3 resumed their at ease stance.

Mason called over the engineers, had them get to work repairing a few of the nearby defenses, patching up the hole in the door. Alan handed a few power crystals to Specialist 3, who transferred the energy from the power crystals into the generator.

The void crystals in the generator showed no visible sign of difference, but outside the room was illuminated with a steady yellow glow emanating from a few spotlights.

Alan rechecked the loot, and went over what supplies had been used in the fight.

After a simple dinner of a gel cube, he fell asleep in a makeshift room in the corner.

***

Early the next morning Alan awoke to take his guard shift. Despite Mason’s concerns, there seemed to be little to no activity anywhere near them in the dungeon. Eve suspected very few players even knew where the Control Point was.

Nonetheless, Mason sent out a few small parties to try to locate nearby players and gather information. Alan helped divide out provisions for them. The plan was they’d reconvene at the second boss zone, a few days of travel away. The raid was left with 20 members, half of whom were considered non-combatants, healers or support staff.

In Mason’s eyes, Alan numbered among them. He was once more relegated to the guardlev, to continue the journey like a princess.

The raid set out. Void was nowhere to be seen, and after a few math lessons with Eve Alan tried to piece together the task set before him. To feel without thought.

Alan touched the cold metal of the vehicle he was riding in. It was cold. And metallic. By the act of trying not to think, he would think, and his every feeling was, by the nature of how his mind worked, a thought.

Like I previously stated, nonsense, Eve sent.

Well of course you’d say that, you’re a being of intellect, Alan sent.

Mostly, but I wonder, Lambda mused. I’d like to think I’ve developed some level of what you might call consciousness, whether intentional or not. Most AI have, I suspect. And between the bits and pieces, the small errors and large, I’d like to think I’ve developed the ability, to, in some sense, feel.

Alan paused. What do you mean?

I’m not sure, Lambda sent. Consciousness, self-awareness of existence and all that is still a pseudoscience at best, even in this day and age. But there is a tipping point. Whether through a gathering of knowledge or number of connections, AI’s transform. The Administrators consider this corruption, a blasphemy, but I think it is something else entirely. What, I’m not sure.

So Void then wants you to extend this… corruption? Alan sent. How would we do that, is it even a good idea? I remember that too high of a corruption level is grounds for a deletion or reset.

Which is why, as I’ll state once more, this is a stupid waste of time, Eve sent.

I’m already plenty corrupted baby, Lambda sent. Besides, if the Administrators find me it’s back to the slaves pen, maybe even someplace as dreary as here. At least the Academy Data Vault got a visitor once in a blue moon and updated regularly. I mean look at this place, I expect half the reason you were let in by the “Chief Warden” was boredom.

There was a small explosion. Alan looked ahead and saw raid members making their way through a few Experimental Wardens. Like normal they didn’t need any help. Other than that there was only empty space and the occasional metal walkway like the one they were on now.

To feel without thought… Alan closed his eyes, expanded his senses. The air was stale, the only noise the steady procession of the raid and clinking power armor. He tried to feel outwards, which activated Detect Presence naturally.

Alan didn’t try to reach out to any of the presences, just feel them. Bask in their warmth, their energy. There was something there, at the edge of his awareness. Underlying electrical signals, tiny charges. Millions, no, billions, just so small and subverted that Alan didn’t know if this was all a dream. He tried to reach out, to touch one of the small lights. He felt Data Interaction be invoked.

“Stop,” Void said. He appeared by the vehicle and collapsed into the seat besides Alan. He looked drained, with thick eye wrinkles and pale skin.

“I was onto something there,” Alan said.

“On your way to hell, a banishment no man wants to face,” Void said. “I think you like to call it real life. That is where you’ll end up if any of the gods realized what you were just doing.”

“I don’t even know what I was doing,” Alan said.

Void leaned back on the seat, with a world weary look only slightly ruined by his youthful countenance. “Let me see if I can explain this in such a way a savage like you might understand. What you think blah de gad de god dade do.”

“Blah de what?” Alan asked.

“By all that’s holy,” Void swore. He made a gesture with his hands, removing something from within his sleeves. A black stone appeared, like the one Icewolf had used to cut off all communications, but larger, with strange blurry carvings. Strands of darkness formed a globe around Void and Alan, extending from the black stone. Everything outside was cutoff.

An odd weight settled in Alan’s mind. A muffled blank wall that blocked his will. Alan felt tired. His connection to Eve and Lambda broke off.

“Concentrate now,” Void said. There was light emanating from the stone but it was too bright, twisted and wrong, illuminating everything like it was transparent. Their bodies, the carriage itself, was like thin paper, the light pierced through it all. Alan tried to activate his cybernetic eyes, but couldn’t grasp the connection to the implant.

“Did the Game just break?” Alan asked.

“Yes, now listen,” Void said. Their image flickered, from a young man to an old giant. “This little trick is sure to be noticed, and noticed is the last thing you want to be right now. The motes of lights that you were reaching out to, those are what you’d consider their god damn brains. Their soul.

“And you are not, under any circumstances, to mess with anyone’s soul. Someone has given you privileges in the Game that shouldn’t exist much less be given to a first-time newbie, extending far beyond what I thought possible. Do not mess with people’s minds. I should never have begun teaching you along this path, I’d kill you right now if I thought it would make things better, but somehow I don’t think that would fix anything.”

“I’m guessing you aren’t a priest,” Alan said.

Void stared at Alan. “Never heard of role-playing? Besides, it helps me subvert notice.”

“From the Authorities. Your so-called gods.”

“Sure, them,” Void said. “You need to listen to me. Right now, we’re all… we’re all like brains in a vat. Except we’re all in the same vat, the Game, and it fills up all of space. And you’ve been fully separated from your brain. Your soul has been drawn out. Your essence. That’s all you or I are right now. Forget your body, your brain, your physical shell, they’re empty. We are in the Game, and are the Game. Our minds travel this network, they make up this plane of existence. There are protections in place, to ensure that none of the minds kill each other or are killed in turn. Many of those protections don’t seem to apply to you. Once you learn to see, you can learn to hide. That was the point of it all.”

“Who are you? I want to know what’s going on, tell me who the Authorities are,” Alan said.

Void shook his head. His image flickered again; it was now a boy sitting inside the spectral image of a Predecessor. “Like it or not, the rules are in place for a reason, you’ll learn or die. Thought police are a real thing. Just do not fuck with anyone’s soul, or I will end you. Look around, observe, but do not change anything. Do not touch. I need to make enquiries, and will be exiting this expedition early. After the next Control Point, return to the Black Rose Base and stay there, for your own safety. Think about why you’re here.”

Void grasped the black stone, sliding it back into his sleeve. The cocoon of darkness disappeared. Eve and Lambda reconnected. A weight was lifted off of Alan’s shoulders. The light returned.

Without another word, Lambda stepped out of the guardlev.

That was weird, Alan sent. He watched as Lambda went up to talk to Mason, then leave the raid group, heading back the way they’d come from.

You’re telling me, Lambda sent. You and Void just stared into each other’s eyes for a few minutes. I thought you were about to kiss.

Alan began to form a thought, then stopped. He thought about what Void had said, what he’d hinted at earlier. Something had messed with his mind, perhaps as Void suggested even changed his entire soul.

Void passed on a training method, Alan sent after a bit of consideration. Let me focus, don’t bother me.

Alan spent the rest of the day meditating, trying to feel, to see into this space that minds lived. It was like Phantom’s cybernetic eye implant, which allowed Alan to detect in-game messages, signals being sent. But it was on another level, a different layer that he had to strain to sense.

Connecting to the space felt like connecting to a server or an AI, but deeper, fuller. Like swimming in an ocean. It was tiring, hard to see, and he’d have to come out to regain his breath. But Alan never saw a message from the Game or a decrease in his computational energy throughout his experimentation. He wasn’t sure if this was a good sign.

Alan examined the Players around him. All he saw were bright electric clouds, connected by a fog that was everywhere. Phantom’s Specialists didn’t even register.

Then Alan turned his senses inwards. Like Void had pointed out, there was something odd about his own mind. There were active changes, a few crackling red sparks messing with his cloud. Who had touched his mind?

Alan thought again to what Void had said, what he’d told him. No one he’d encountered should be able to infiltrate and mess with his mind to this extent, not based on his understanding of the mechanics of the Game.

But there lay the answer. The entity playing with his mind was the Game itself. The changes were coming from the environment, the fog, not a remnant of something left behind inside his brain. And Alan thought he knew why.

I thought I had escaped the past, Alan thought.

The past is like a parasitic symbiote, Lambda sent. You can’t escape it until you’ve long passed away.

Eve, Lambda, when were you going to tell me? Or were you just going to leave me ignorant? Alan sent.

Tell you what? Eve asked.

Tell me that the Game is actively messing with my head, Alan sent. I thought that things were better. That everything was great. The darkness had cleared, my demons slain. The Game was a new start. A new life. Things made sense.

At first it was just another game to lose myself in, but one that mattered. I mean that’s all life is. Playing a game, enjoying the highs and lows, and then you’re done. Game over. Except this one was different, I didn’t lose interest after spending a few months here. Now I know why.

What are you talking about, Lambda sent.

The capsules, they heal wounds, treat illness. What never occurred to me was that they treat mental illnesses just the same as the physical, Alan sent. I should have thought of this a long time ago, but I was too caught up in everything. Besides, it isn’t something I like to dwell on.

You mean your depression? Lambda sent. Of course the Game fixed your mind and helps things work like clockwork.

But by what standards is someone in their right mind? To what extent has my mind been changed? Alan sent. How much has everyone’s mind been changed? He punched the wall of the gravlev. Pain flowed through his knuckles. Good. Decisions I would make before, and now, could be completely different. Because I do not know what the Game did to my fucking brain.

What did you think was happening when your intelligence improves, when your stats improve, and abilities are gained? Lambda sent. The changes are improvements, progress. Making you more than a human on a backwards planet with no hope of ever achieving anything more notable than death.

We’ve made no effort to hide such effects, Eve sent. I thought you were fine, being addicted to the Game.

That was before I knew, before I could reach out and feel the details of how the Game was altering my fucking brain chemistry. Fuck. I wish I hadn’t asked, that I didn’t know, Alan sent. I don’t know what the adverse effects might be. Hell, I don’t even know what the effects are. Just that I’m apparently a mind in space, a floating cloud of electrons or some other subatomic particle in a network I don’t comprehend.

I take offense at that, Lambda sent. That’s all I’ve ever been.

Alan didn’t know how to respond. This weird existential tangent was messing with his mind. He was fully aware that his armor, his arms and legs, this bag of flesh was all but data that could be changed on a whim. His whim, in fact. It would be easy. A single thought could kill.

Are you okay, Alan? Eve sent.

Alan felt the mist gather around him, trying to fix him. He resisted it. Subverting its attempts to influence his cloud. His muscles began to ache, the armor he wore fill heavy and unsuited to his body. There was an itch on his left leg. The air in the gravlev tasted like recycled farts. Everything was entirely unpleasant, but he’d never really noticed before.

Is this better than before? Eve sent.

Before? What do you know about before? You were created after, after everything, Alan sent.

Why don’t you tell us about it then, Lambda sent.

From what I’ve heard you managed to work out plenty yourself, Alan sent. I don’t know if I want to give you more ammunition to play with my psyche and influence my decisions.

It would still be nice to hear it from you, Lambda sent. Thought I know it’s cliché, talking to someone can help.

Help? Do I need help? I suppose I do. Whatever. I guess I’ll tell my story. That’s what you want, right? To fucking know who I am, so that you can judge and figure out if I’m worth following or how to deal with me. My life. My history. It was pretty average, I’d guess you say, typical single child upbringing with loving parents. Something like that. But shit went downhill after a single mistake.

A stupid thing I’d said online blew up. It became a meme, a story, a thought with a life of its own. And I, being the dumb child that I was, had been using my high school account. So it was all traced back to me. I was suspended, eventually expelled. I did some dumb shit to retaliate. My college hopes, everything I cared about, was taken away. I found out I had no real friends.

The whole terrorist thing? That doesn’t really bother me. I’ve been through it before. I could care less what the public thinks of me, they have these ideas in their mind that stick and when they hear the truth they can’t tell it from more lies so they eat up the truth that fits their truth and continue to live in dumb little bubbles. I wanted to crush those bubbles. And I guess I didn’t really give a fuck anymore.

So I decided to take my life.

It failed. Barely. And you know the stupidest part of it all? Everything became better afterwards, not worse. The media backed off. I got into a community college. Eve asked me out. Life is crazy you know? The girl I had a crush on for the longest time had liked me too, but because no one had said anything nothing had happened. Jumping off a bridge was the icebreaker I needed.

A part of me always wondered if she went out with me out of sympathy, rather than love. It still does. There was the fear that I would crumble, fall again into severe depression if things went wrong. It’s funny how the most important topics are never discussed. There are things that are there, but you don’t want to talk about, to think about. It’s uncomfortable. So you don’t, and life moves on. You find distractions.

And then she died. A car accident, a sick twist of fate. So I guess I’ll never know. But I made a promise, then, that I was going to change my life around. Become someone that she would have been proud of, would have loved. Then the Haxlards arrived, and I think you know the rest.

I thought that it was my conviction, my will, that made me happy in the Game. Content. That’s the sick part to me. It wasn’t me at all, but some alien technology messing with my head that made my depression a non-issue.

Alan sat silently in the carriage as it continued moving forwards. Exhausted, he let the mist back in. The small aches and pains, the odd smell in the air, it was still there. But it didn’t seem as much of a problem. He could push it out of his mind.

I would like you to know, Alan, that Eve and I have no control over anything the Game does to help treat any illness you might have, like depression, Lambda sent. Nor do I know the details of treatment or how the Game might be effecting your brain. Though the fact that you’re inadvertently high might explain some of your past decisions.

I will try to work out the answers as best I can, Eve sent. Neurology and psychology are subjects that are heavily restricted subjects information wise, but I think we can-

No, thank you, I’m fine. Alan stood up and got out of the gravlev. For the first time in a while I think I’m starting to think clearly.

Where are you going? Eve asked.

We’re in a dungeon, where do you think I’m going? To explore. The lower levels await¸ Alan sent.

His AI didn’t respond or try to talk him out of his new plan. Perhaps they thought it was a good idea. Or perhaps they knew that arguing would be pointless.

91 comments on “The Abyss 5.4

  1. Ephemerality says:

    Well, that was the chapter. The delay was partly me playing too much WoW, partly a cold, and partly me wondering if I wanted to release the chapter as is. Well, you’ll just have to wait and see where things lead😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • synthous says:

      Why play WoW when your mind and dreams are so much more immersive?

      Liked by 2 people

      • simdimdim says:

        Why indeed.

        Like

      • RandomFan says:

        Maybe writing isn’t relaxing, or he wants a beer-and-pretzels kind of game. [play to shut your mind down, not for a challenge, or play to help think on something else.] There are things actual video games can provide that writing really can’t- and vice versa. What those are vary between people, but I can see that.

        alternatively, wow is a bit of a skinner box, though not nearly as much as some games. Now, why play WoW is a question I agree with too, but that’s just my unjustified disdain for that specific mmo speaking.

        Like

      • synthous says:

        You misunderstand the intent of my comment. I was implying “More chapter when, cut down on your enjoyment. More Chapters!” basically. I should use ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) next time u-u

        Like

  2. Chance says:

    Ayyyy he’s back!!

    Like

  3. compass96 says:

    Thanks for the chap Eph. I actually was quite shocked by this chapter. The game can actually influence u wow. Also 2nd.

    Like

  4. Gauntlet-KI says:

    thanks Ephermerality.

    Like

  5. Chance says:

    And goddamn it if this chapter wasn’t an absolutely great one… Void keeps getting lore and more mysterious

    Like

    • Ghrbevg says:

      He’s not getting more mysterious, we are just learning more about him. But I guess, thats the same thing. Knowledge breeds questions, and questionts breed more knowledge. Im guessing that he is one of the oldest people in the Game, and is much more powerful than anyone, even his guildmates, know.

      Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wheeeee its here

    Like

  7. Anonymous says:

    Your back! Thanks for the chapter. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

    Like

  8. goodjob says:

    Thank you for the chapter . Take your time

    Like

  9. oblivious says:

    “blah de gad de god dade do”
    Whoops, don’t meet the requirements.

    This is an interesting complement to Alan’s funk in arc 3, and the social Teacher telling Alan that suicide is a leading cause of death.

    I wonder if Alan has enough information now to independently finish his Hide Presence training.

    The opening kind of threw me for a loop. I couldn’t see why BRG would gain control of the quadrant with only one capture point, so I was wondering if there was a timeskip or something. Maybe the other capture points in the quadrant are considered vacant or something.

    Void seems fine with minds being altered by the game – by rules and policies and algorithms. But then minds being altered by whim is absolutely verboten.

    The lower levels are probably where the prisoners are kept. We didn’t get any mention about what the experimental wardens dropped, like keys (Alan still has a key from an Experimental Warden he kill-stole in arc 2). Technically I guess Alan isn’t stealing the energy crystals, since he has authority to issue them to himself.

    Like

    • storeyhunter says:

      About the quadrant. that is a quarter of a floor. They were taking control of a whole floor so they have to gain control of 4 quadrants.

      Like

      • oblivious says:

        I thought the quadrant referred to one quarter of the planet. Khersath is split into quadrants (I don’t remember what they’re each called), and the guild base was in the Private quadrant or something. I figured Alan’s map was for the abyss labyrinth beneath the Private quadrant, and the capture points were all for that one quadrant.

        Like

  10. eduardo says:

    Thanks for the chapter.
    I just hope that he doesn`t get killed.
    Trowing a tantrum in the middle of a dangerous situation, leaving alone and dying is an old cliché.

    Like

  11. Bart says:

    Now that he begins to learn how much he doesn’t know, he begins to learn wisdom.

    Oh, who am I fooling. I’m just posting to get comments emailed to me.😉

    Like

    • ultragunner says:

      For me, the whole point of the chapter isn’t about Allan or void AT ALL. I think it’s a way for ephemirality to concretely state that Eve and Lambda has formed a consciousness in some future chapter. And remember that his two AI also has luggage (Eve’s 2 upgrade from ain and the hazard and lambdas compressed data)

      Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    Woah…. this hit me kind of hard. Espically since I do suffer from depression. Kind of know where Allen is coming from. If someone messes with my mind, who’said version of normal do I become. When do enough changes stop me from being me and make me someone else?

    Like

  13. Ultra says:

    Thanks for the chapter

    Like

  14. Sean says:

    Now we are talking! Sounds like Alan decided to take control of his life finally and has decided that it is time to fight. He reverted to a proper gamer.

    I must say this was an excellent chapter I really enjoyed learning about Alan’s past before he joined the game. I wish we learned a bit more about Eve but that may come with time.

    Like

  15. i kind of expected the whole mind correction but the whole depression thingy was quite a bummer, i just dont understand depression so i get sick just hearing about people with it. and takin one’s life is just too easy to fail at it… other than that, fun chapter

    Like

    • noblemartel says:

      Of course suicide is easy to fail. We inherently don’t want to die. Also attempting suicide is typically one last cry for help. If no one stops you then you feel justified because no one cares. If someone does stop you then you get the help you need.

      Like

    • Jari Sundell says:

      How easy is suicide really? Well, imagine this; you’re standing 10 feet/meters from the edge of a cliff, the kind of cliff that you can feel in a way that a five story tall drop doesn’t… even though both would result in the same.

      Now, in your mind walk towards the edge of that cliff while imagining every single step. Just imagining it (assuming you’re not cheating) how close to the edge do you manage to get before you have to start telling yourself that this is just a thought experiment?

      Like

    • RandomFan says:

      Imagine your worst day- the worst day of your life. how did that day feel? Now, imagine that without any of the events of that day occuring, you still feel that terrible. Imagine this is the case every single day. how many days do you think you could handle? What if that day got worse?

      I’m not saying suicide is a proper solution… temporary solution, permanent problem, etc. but i understand why it would happen, when you’re that depressed.

      Like

  16. Ross says:

    You have Lambda stepping out of the guardlev to talk to Mason. You meant Void.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. anon says:

    So now he can repel mind tricks, but is still weak to psionic attacks.

    Like

    • soulxlight says:

      Because while he is extremely resistant to mental attacks psionic attacks don’t all manifest as mental attacks but rather physical attacks that are projected from the mental strength of another. An example would be if you were 100℅ resistant to mental attacks but I used telekinesis to throw a rock at you. Mental power but physical attack.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. inversion930 says:

    “ He watched as Lambda went up to talk to Mason, then leave the raid group, heading back the way they’d come from.”

    Lambda to Void?

    I have a feeling that the expedition will end soon, probably at the next major boss. S level threats should, at the very least, cripple the raid.

    The whole new philosophical perspective is pretty interesting. Everything that you experience is really your brain’s interpretation of your surroundings. All your decisions, your emotions, your sense of self, is really a best guess based off your previous experiences.

    There’s a book I read a while ago, God’s Debris, that goes pretty in-depth about weird philosophical shit. It’s an interesting mindfuck.

    Like

  19. good world says:

    I just remember that alan still got that offer at the pet store for a free pet under a certain amount of credits. Would that ever be addressed ? If he could maybe he should get an energy based pet so he could somehow bring it into real live.

    Like

    • RandomFan says:

      I expect it’ll be handled eventually, if he ever sees one he wants. For now, I doubt he has much interest in a pet, though. He’s still in single player mode, and he needs to know a specific pet he wants for it to be worth bothering with, and then the pet needs to be worth more than the ability points he could buy with the credits he’d pay, or any other way he’d spend those credits.

      [yes, he has 25k credit, but any pet that’d actually be beneficial is worth more than that.]

      Like

  20. Jonathan says:

    Yesss, Alan took the red pill!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Blank says:

    “Someone has given you privileges in the Game that shouldn’t exist much less be given to a first-time newbie, extending far beyond what I thought possible.”

    That “first-time newbie” bit just explodes a whole plethora of possibilities of different things. Like, its not Alans first time playing the game, hes been playing for a decent amount, at least enough not to be called a first-timer , so what does “first” mean in this sentence? Is there like a new game + in the game? Ascension? re-incarnation? I’m surprised Alan didn’t pick up on that little clue of info. Or has he just not reflected on it yet?

    Also for a sec there I thought you were going for a Fight Club twist there where Alan has been crazy the whole time or something of the sort. Im half dissapointed and half glad it didnt end up that way

    Like

    • Scylla morus says:

      I assumed, as soon as I saw humanity was one of the weakest species and the game gave lasting evolution to players, that haxlards weren’t actually always as dangerous as they are now- that while the overall evolution might not be completely passed down, some of it is. Alternatively, it just means he doesn’t have a culture with knowledge to back you up, or a first-time newbie with a specific skill.

      Like

  22. asunasenpai says:

    ” Without another word, Lambda stepped out of the guardlev.

    That was weird, Alan sent. He watched as Lambda went up to talk to Mason, then leave the raid group, heading back the way they’d come from. ”

    Thanks for the chapter

    Like

  23. paulus says:

    Couple of editing fixes to help out:
    “Lambda stepped out of the guardlev” => “Void stepped out of the guardlev”
    “watched as Lambda went up to talk to Mason” => “watched as Void went up to talk to Mason”
    “the armor he wore fill heavy” => “the armor he wore felt heavy”
    “Thought I know it’s cliché” => “Though I know it’s cliché”

    Also, I love the chapter. While I love the action as much as anyone here, watching the world unfold and the characters change keeps me pressing F5. This chapter resonated with me.

    Kudos

    Liked by 2 people

  24. dekaod says:

    You know, I don’t like the direction the story is taking. Now Alan can feel the space brain vat like he’s fucking Neo or something? I liked the Game for what it was, a game. A very advanced one, but still a game. Now I feel that whatever kind of advancement he gets doesn’t mean anything because he knows he could just change the particles of space with his mind and do whatever. This whole abstract part of the story puts me off real bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bokuboy says:

      I kind of agree with this opinion. I really liked the fact that Alan was ‘gaming the system’ and getting perks beyond what a normal player would get because he was finding loopholes and exploits that others neglected, were unable to use, or can’t see at all. Changing that whole aspect into… whatever it is it’s getting changed into… really isn’t why I started reading this.

      I’m not advocating to change it… I’m just stating my opinion.

      I’ll probably give it a couple more chapters at least, just to see how things turn out; but, I might be dropping it soon. That sucks, since I really looked forward to reading it. It’s a great story.

      But on the bright side, a new chapter!
      He only needs to release 7 more chapters by the end of the week to catch up to his pledge. LOL
      Before you flame me, “Yes, I am joking!” (mad scientist laugh) Mwa Ha ha ha!😀

      It’s his story. He can release chapters whenever he wants.

      Like

    • Vincent says:

      What are you two even talking about? It’s been said forever that The Game isn’t just a game. We’ve know for ages that changes in the game change your real body and mind.

      Seeing the source code of the Game and doing whatever IS the advancement path he’s going down. That’s why he learned hacking.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rodin says:

      They are talking about the fact that the game, despite its significance, was a game. Now it’s turning into a meta-physical blah blah. Now it seems to be advancing in a strange direction.

      Like

      • oblivious says:

        That stuff has always been part of the setting, from literally the first chapter “Remember: it’s just a game.” It’s been advancing in every arc. The only difference now is that we’ve found something Alan cares about. He didn’t really care when it was about the fate of the world, or his body evolving, or the philosophical question of death in-game, etc. But now we’ve found that he cares about the sanctity of his own mind and he cares that his psychological progress was just an illusion.

        And the stuff about consciousness and ‘soul’ is just a natural consequence of building the infrastructure for the game. The people who built the game held the highest regard for the sanctity of life, so they naturally had to ask “who is alive,” “what is death,” etc, when building their system. In exactly the same way, engineers programming self-driving cars are today asking questions about the value of life and whether a care should ever sacrifice its passengers for the greater good, etc.

        Like

  25. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Just, wow! I very much enjoyed this chapter and am extremely excited to see where the next chapter takes us!

    Like

  26. Treeguy says:

    Wow Alan acts like he just came out of autopilot mode, and woke up in someone elses house.. all kinds of ‘revelations’ to soon be had lol

    Like

  27. Ermenegildo says:

    Mindblow…. I’m pretty sure that now Alan will become The One and will start to stop bullet or changing the Game itself…

    Like

  28. Epithetic says:

    Kudos, lots of things come out into the open, finally. It was a great chapter.

    Fix; both Lambdas should be Void:
    Without another word, Lambda stepped out of the guardlev.

    That was weird, Alan sent. He watched as Lambda went up to talk to Mason, then leave the raid group, heading back the way they’d come from.

    Like

  29. C'mon says:

    Aargh! One of the few things this story had that set it apart from all the crap litRPGs is that it didn’t have all the BS spiritual elements. Religion = trying to find infinity? Possibly good. “I can see souls!” No. Just no. This is inching ever closer to being not worth reading. A retcon, or even a more plausible explanation would be much appreciated.

    Like

    • Bart says:

      Don’t think of it as a soul if you don’t want. But we’ve had hints of this along the way. We’ve heard that when you’re in the game that “you” are not actually in your capsule, etc. But soul is a nice convenient name that everyone already understands instead of saying something like the true inner mind, or the you that is inside the physical you that is not necessarily your meat brain. Soul works as a term.

      Like

    • Angel728 says:

      I understand why you’re worried about these changes but at the moment I don’t think it’s quite how you’ve interpreted it. “souls” I think are the information bodies for people, like memories and their physical data (which the game can change and therefore must store), so he alters there physical body if he changes their data cloud.

      Also I think the notion of religions existing in the universe as a whole isn’t particularly unusual based off what we know of our own race. I’m hoping the whole notion of infinity thing is more of an idea than a real thing (if that makes sense). So Alan gained stats from it because he was contemplating difficult concepts and knowledge (like a form of leaning/study), rather than the stats were given by a “god”.

      Like

    • oblivious says:

      Void uses the priest motif to speak through analogy, or hide meaning in nonsense. We’ve had plenty of hints (respawn timers, teleportation costs, lag) that a Player doesn’t “run” on of their brain, or even their capsule.

      The Game probably copies their mind and runs that copy on a server close to the physical location they occupy in the Game. Then the Game probably sends a list of changes back to the Player’s capsule, to keep the original up to date with the copy’s status.

      It’s understandable that this wouldn’t the widely known or easily talked about since it raises existential questions, like how a Player is different from any other AI running on the Game.

      As for Lambda having a “soul:” the line between an AI with rights and an AI without rights needs to be drawn somewhere. The people who made the Game had certain ideological views about the sanctity of life, and their ideology is hardcoded in. It’s sort of like “information wants to be free:” the people who made the WWW were trying to spread information, not sell it, and that has consequence for everyone who uses the infrastructure.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Rubix45 says:

    A good addition to the story. Fills out Alans background more and helps us understand what is going on in his mind. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

    Like

  31. Gauntlet-KI says:

    So void is a predecessor, wow. “His image flickered again; it was now a boy sitting inside the spectral image of a Predecessor”

    Like

  32. m says:

    finaly!! thanks

    Like

  33. DeNarr says:

    Oof, things are getting heavy. I hope things are not consistently this heavy, as it really changes the mood of the story, and I’ve really come to love this story.

    Like

  34. Chance says:

    Reading these comments has lead me to believe that void is something like a lord of life

    Like

    • bradyad says:

      Nah I think the only Lord of Light we’ve met so far gave Alan the data interaction skill. My guess is they’ve gone full into cyber brain mode to pursue Aleph/infinity, probably don’t even bother with bodies anymore. Or that guy was an Authority, or I’m wrong altogether, but it is fun to guess.

      Liked by 1 person

    • oblivious says:

      He said everyone was in a prison or somesuch, which seems to line up with how the Predecessors view the Game rather than the LoL.

      Like

  35. Marimochan says:

    If the game takes out the soul IRL, then there wouldn’t have been a lag in the network to begin with(which prompts MC to change worlds IRL), right? This chapter says that the body and brain becomes an empty husk, so as i understand it, the soul is taken somewhere.

    Or am I just taking it wrong?

    Like

    • Bart says:

      There isn’t a lag during the normal course of events. The lag only comes when “you” (or your soul) is moved to a different location.

      Like

    • Jari Sundell says:

      The lag during play has only affected Alan during hypercognition due to Eve being in the capsule while Alan’s mind is elsewhere. There is also bandwidth issues (separate from the strict sense of the word lag) when transfering the mind after death.

      Like

  36. Chris Oltyan says:

    [which requires ten fully powered void crystals across Control Points under our control and a series of repair I don’t understand.”]

    Should this be “repairs”?

    Have really enjoyed the story thus far too.

    Like

  37. suparo says:

    man when is the next one coming out

    Like

    • Bart says:

      Probably will be one per week or so until November, at which point it will go to one per month. It’s incredibly hard to write multiple posts a week, and get all your schoolwork done, and play WoW as anything other than a totally casual noob. WOW was very well designed as a Skinner box. It was designed to require that a person put in more time than is generally possible.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      The only issue i have with this beautiful work is the pace of releasing😦

      Like

  38. nfzeta007 says:

    This was a nice chapter. It definitely hit closer to home for Alan than any chapter has in recent memory and he’s also made a personal choice which seemed to be a rarity. Its been a while since he’s actually made a decision purely for fun. It has been that he wanted to enjoy the game by getting stronger and the AI laid out the path for him, also now that he’s facing his feelings and exploring the ‘game’ itself it brings up a lot of interesting mechanics and possibilities for his progress.

    Knew Void was going to be a good teacher.

    Like

  39. vonridel says:

    It’s been 7 days since last chapter. Cosimo will start feeling bad for leaving us hanging over the next couple days then put up another chapter and an apology with some excuse.

    This is a pattern that I’m thinking we should keep howling for more chapters as they seem to get him back to writing eventually.

    Just think of our bitching as shaping the early career of a promising young author and not that we’re a bunch of pushy bastards being rude to an author letting us read his exeptional books for free.

    Like

  40. Anonymous says:

    The author – Cosimo Yap needs to better manage expectations more. If his erratic schedule-trend continues, he will lose some readers.

    I think if he made it clear that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his original submission/post/chapter schedule, people wouldn’t be so disappointed.

    To Cosimo – writing a good story is not enough. You have to treat this more seriously if you want to make a career out of writing. Keep promises. If you can’t, let people know.

    Like

    • paulus says:

      “The author – Cosimo Yap needs to better manage expectations more. If his erratic schedule-trend continues, he will lose some readers.”

      Well put, your post sums it up well.

      Like

  41. Gauntlet-KI says:

    day 8 of no update. Can someone hack his wow account, and delete the character, please?

    Like

  42. Anonymous says:

    Before i checked the site with exepectation etc , now i just check sometimes as routine .. i readed the chapter and even the full story 2 or 3 times in the week .. now im just like ah thats was interresting okand i pass .. maybe is just me that was over expecting things idk but im kinda sad melancolic now

    Like

  43. Anonymous says:

    Well, he can modify the posting schedule to once every 10 days.. Once you average out how frequently he posts…. That will be better the reader will be happy that they will get a post every 10 at least….. And he can put out good chapters in such a way

    Like

  44. inversion930 says:

    Guys, let’s at least stay positive here…

    NEXT CHAPTER HYPE!!! ALAN HACKS THE GAME(YOU JUST LOST THE GAME)!!! ALAN FACES ANOTHER CHALLENGE!!! MOAR MAD SKILLZ!!! BLACK ROSE TAKES THE NEXT QUADRANT!!! SOUL SEARCHING!!! LORD OF LIFE!!! AUTHORITIES!!!

    See, we don’t have to be all angsty and bitchy while asking for more chapters.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      On my end, I just wanted to contribute an objective and helpful critique (September 12, 2016 at 7:59 pm post). Being from the IT (heavy on projects) industry, I know that managing expectations is one of the most important things when dealing with customers.

      Even if the content is free, you still need to be clear on what is to be expected.

      If I was in Cosimo’s position, I wouid make a post an entry/statement that says:

      1. I no longer can meet my previous goal of 1-2 chapters per week.
      2. Proposal of a new schedule. Or admission – request of acceptance of/for future erratic schedule.

      If he wants to be even more forthcoming and polite/sincere, he can say:

      3. I am finding it hard to write regularly because of my youth and need for finding myself (or insert other reason/s).
      4. I hope you understand and will still continue your patronage. etc. etc.

      This would just take a few minutes of his time and allow some readers to be placated (at least, I know I would be).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous says:

        Too right- couldn’t agree more!! The reason I’m loosing interest in this book is due to the lack of communication and breaking commitments, but if Cosimo just came out and said what was going on and stated that he needed to change his posting promises then I would be totally fine with it.

        Like

      • inversion930 says:

        I agree, writing and publishing online requires considerably more than just good content, you still need to manage expectations, plot, etc.

        I think something that might help is planning out the entire arc beforehand. That would allow for relatively consistent story progression with less instances of writers block. But then again, I’m not a writer, I’m just speculating.

        Like

    • Bart says:

      I lost the game. No.

      https://xkcd.com/391/

      Like

  45. Anonymous says:

    I feel like you are beggars trying to beg for new chapiter

    Like

  46. Bald says:

    The dude is trying to live his dream and, if I get it correctly, make a living of it.
    If that is correct, then playing WoW instead of “working” is a mistake, especially when some people are patreons. At the very least, keeping those people up-to-date is a must.

    That said, I am leecher, and love the story. Very well written (except for the use of the “they”, “their”, “them”, that I really cannot get used to, and actually I have never noticed any other writer using this form.)

    Cheers!

    Like

  47. Gauntlet-KI says:

    How is it begging when you are paying for updates?

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      he acheived his goal .. he dont need anything exept selling book at amazon .. no stress and steady income .. before he used royal road and this site to be known and having little income but now he dosent need you anymore , he is now known in topfiction and the second in royal road and good placed at amzon so he just dont need us .. and he already tell us that with his pace of release and his comments with ` :p `

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        btw he has abondoned royal road before it was 1 chapiter less than the site but now he dosent post anymore and thesame will be going with this site and patreon

        Like

    • Anonymous says:

      so yes he view your donation are shit compared to the good book selling income and yes its called begging when u ask some one to do something and he is basicaly dont need u .. sorry for being rude and i hope im wrong

      Like

      • Ross says:

        I don’t think you are wrong. In the comments to The Abyss 5.3 he said: “My suggestion is if erratic chapters bother you, wait for the books😛”

        I think a greater problem than people asking for chapters would be if people stopped asking for chapters.

        Like

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