The Abyss 5.5

“No, you will stay with us, then return to the base,” Mason said.

“There is more to the Abyss Dungeon, and I can get us information no one else can, the Warden won’t communicate with anyone else. You don’t need me to get through checkpoints; let me double back to the Capture Point,” Alan said. “If it doesn’t make sense for me to continue down, I won’t. I’ll head straight to the base, back the way we came. If anything, that path is safer, as we have no idea what’s up ahead.”

“That’s why we have scouts,” Mason said. He watched over the caravan. “Fine, head back, but you’re taking a squad with you. Send at least one person back to base, let them know that every Player within the sector on this floor was alerted when we captured the Control Point, so there are sure to be enquiries made soon.” Mason shouted out at the convoy, “Assault Team 3, you’re with Princess.”

Princess? Alan sent.

Your designated code name, Eve sent.

When did that happen? Alan asked.

No doubt when you were being carried about in your carriage, Lambda sent.

Ignore it, being underestimated can be useful, Eve sent.

Alan sighed. At this point he wanted to get on with things already. He quickly determined a suitable amount of food, power crystals, and loot to take with them as they headed back to the Control Point they captured.

A small four man squad went with him: a scout with cloaking abilities, a nanotech healer, a medium ranged rifleman and a close combat specialist, at least according to Eve’s information. The trip back was quick, they covered the same amount of ground in nearly half the time, as they did not have a large supply train and none of the enemies respawned.

Once they had arrived at the Control Point they found Specialist 3 standing in the exact same position as when Alan had left.

Alan approached Specialist 3. “Can you connect me to the Warden?” Alan asked, something he probably should have asked earlier.

“Given the requisite energy,” Specialist 3 said. “One emerald energy crystal should suffice.”

Alan handed an emerald power crystal over, he had brought along 40 from the main supplies, as 25 were needed to access the lower level.

Why did neither of you mention the Warden again? Alan asked.

It hadn’t crossed my mind, Lambda sent. I doubt they’ll be too helpful.

Eve remained silent.

Alan felt a presence. The Warden. He connected to it.

Your conquest is not yet complete, the Warden sent. You barely control one quadrant of this floor of Sector 3. Contact me when you have control of the floor.

Wait, about that first floor thing, how many floors are there? Alan asked.

Access denied, the Warden sent.

What can I find below us?

Access denied, the Warden sent.

C’mon, can you throw us a bone? Lambda sent.

If you proceed below this floor you will be deemed hostile targets. All you will find is oblivion, the Warden sent.

Is there any way that we might be deemed non-hostile? Alan asked.

The Warden took a second to process. Your party does not meet the requirements. Control of this sector floor with sufficient power is needed. Conversely, sufficient repairs made as a sign of good faith would be sufficient for friendly designation beyond this floor. You do not have the abilities, tools, or materials to make necessary repairs.

Can you give me the amount of energy needed, or a list of requirements to make repairs? Alan asked.

Affirmative. The Warden sent a solid wall of text and data. A messaged popped up before Alan:

[Missing Systems Updated:

You have the optional task to make repairs to the Abyss Labyrinth. As repairs are made additional subsystems and options may be made available.

Rewards: Variable based on repairs completed.]

The allocated power for this connection has run out. The Warden disconnected.

Alan debated using another emerald power crystal, but one cost almost as much as a platinum mark, making it an expensive call.

You received the information you wanted, as well as another warning not to proceed further into the Abyss Labyrinth, Eve sent. Our next step is obvious.

Fine. We’ll head back up to the Black Rose Base, Alan sent. He let the squad know what they were going to do, then set up camp for the night. He pulled up the information the Warden had sent as he prepared to head to bed.

Alan checked the first optional requirement. Four filled void crystals and control of all the Sector 3 Control Points on this level. That wouldn’t happen without significant investment from the guild, and he didn’t know if they were up for another, larger dungeon dive. What made it even more dangerous was that Mason’s scouts had discovered that any Player in the region that was captured would get a notification. Most Capture Points functioned in this way, and had been an oversight to not recognize that other Players would notice their actions.

To make repairs over a hundred abilities were listed as necessary, many requiring intermediate or advanced mastery. Alan begin reading them, but it was all just technobabble to him. Eve grouped most of the abilities under advanced fields in electrical engineering, power crystal physics, and drone maintenance. The last ten abilities she didn’t even recognize. Something about the transference and capture of energy.

Lambda? Alan asked.

I haven’t a clue, Lambda sent. I have some information on old technology, but nothing this advanced.

The list of materials and tools needed for repairs was just as long and tedious. Hundreds of millions of credits would be needed to procure the items that Eve recognized. There were around twenty items that were unknown.

At least a small map with additional details was provided. It noted the location of where damage was located. Upon further scrutiny Alan realized that the map also contained which abilities and materials were needed where, thus Alan, or whoever was brought to make repairs could make them as long as they met the requirements at the specific location.

There seemed to be two major repair points: a robotics facility and a power station. It looked like if the robotics facility was repaired, workers to assist with repairs could be constructed, but would take expensive materials to build and power them. The plans for the power station were confusing. It was labeled as a power station, but Alan and Eve couldn’t tell how it generated energy or where the energy it made went. It all hinged around a device called a Translateral Absorber that was broken. Eve had never heard of it. Then there was a lot of general maintenance, old machines falling apart, walkways and defenses that needed tuning. It was too much work for one person.

Then there was the third option, shooting or sneaking their way through. Forcing the door open, the Warden be damned. Right now that option appealed the most to Alan, but he had other plans he wanted to try first. He was getting tired of being yanked around on a chain, going whichever way the wind blew.

***

The trip out of the Abyss Labyrinth into the Black Rose hangar bay was uneventful. As soon as they had left the confines of the dungeon Alan was able to send an update to Phantom. Phantom didn’t seem too surprised by the new information. What did surprise him, however, was Alan’s request.

Phantom: You want to what?

Alan: There must be a central Revenant planet or facility or secret base. Someplace. I want to go there. I need better hacking software and security, a more powerful capsule, and proper power armor training.

Phantom: All of those things require reputation and money that you have not yet earned. You haven’t even completed your initiate quest yet.

Alan: I’ll talk with him then. But you know too that if we want to do this Abyss Labyrinth job we’ll need more outside help. I’m sure there are plenty Revenant members who would sell their right arm to put their hands on the technology that needs repair, and we can give them that chance.

Phantom: I’ll consider it. Void had a similar idea, and was reaching out to contacts.

Alan: What do you know about Void? The information you sent on him was barebones at best. It contained no information on what his class might be, his abilities, or even his species.

Phantom: Don’t ask. He’ll just mess with you. Once I was convinced Void was a devout monk to an obscure Predecessor goddess before I learned the goddess never existed a year and a half later.

Alan: And you just work with him?

Phantom: He’s always loyal to the guild. You can talk with him yourself once you arrive.

Alan: He’s at the base?

Phantom: Yes. Where else would he be?

Alan: Never mind, see you soon.

Alan ended the conversation. He then searched his list of contacts. Oddly, he couldn’t find who he was looking for. Cerberus was not on the list of Players he could message.

If you want to talk to Cerberus you’ll have to find a terminal, Lambda sent. I don’t think he trusts the in-game wireless communication network.

Alan went to find a terminal to use in the hangar bay. They were a few minutes flight away from the main base, but as his team’s arrival hadn’t been expected they had to wait for a ride.

It was a small hangar, with only enough room for a handful of smaller aircraft and one medium sized shuttle, the one that had first taken Alan and a few hundred initiates from the main city of Khersath to the Black Rose Base.

Other than the open space for vehicles and the lift down into the Abyss Labyrinth there was a small office in a corner. Alan used his access level as a Squire to enter it. There was a desk with a terminal in it, which he booted up.

He made a search for Cerberus’s contact information, but couldn’t find anything, so he instead connected to the Academy’s main help desk instead. As soon as he was connected he was transferred. A floating hand filled the display. It waved.

“Hello, Alan. You took off at the most interesting time.” Cerberus said. No mouth was shown on screen.

“I apologize, my home planet’s war came to a head and I was ordered to intervene. I’m sure you’ve seen the news.”

“A waste of time,” Cerberus said. “Any information released is outdated by the time it hits the net. Are you returning to the Academy soon?”

“No,” Alan said, “I don’t think so.”

“Really? There are still a few weeks left in your term. And there are recent developments which I think you’d be instrumental in solving,” Cerberus said.

Shit, he’s onto us, Lambda sent.

Wouldn’t he send the Administrators after us, if he was so sure I’d broken into the Data Vault and got you out? Alan asked.

No, he has no jurisdiction outside the Academy System. At least I don’t think he does, Lambda sent. And the Administrators won’t intervene without sufficient evidence.

Looks like we shouldn’t set foot in the Academy System again, Eve sent. She sounded sad.

“Anything I can help with from here?” Alan asked.

“No. Forget it. Water under the bridge. Can we say your term at the Academy has completed then?” Cerberus asked.

“Yes,” Alan said.

A series of messages appeared:

[Congratulations, you have completed the Rogue Combat program at the Academy. New title: Academy Graduate. All marks and commendations converted to experience. For acts of distinction, the Academy Chancellor has provided the Player Alan access to the Academy System. Volta, training, and similar rewards will not be available unless an advanced program is entered.

x239 Level up!

+100 ability points for gaining over 100 levels with one action.

Minor increases in reputation with the Predecessors, Lords of Life, Administrators and Revenants.]

“Wait, I graduated, just like that? What kind of messed up school system is this?” Alan asked.

“One where deeds matter more than words. You were in the combat program,” Cerberus said, “and your graduation project was most impressive. I can also skew a few things. Now, for your Revenant initiate quest. Fix the Abyss Labyrinth so Authority aid is not required.”

A new quest appeared:

[We’re Fine. Everything is Fine Here:

Solve the Abyss Labyrinth’s problems so Authority intervention is not needed.

Rewards: Full Revenant Membership, ???

Failure: ???]

“Why are you concerned about the Abyss Labyrinth?” Alan asked.

“Like the Academy, the Abyss Complex was built to fulfill certain needs,” Cerberus said. “Right now it is not operating at full capacity which could cause issues further down the line. You, I think, more than anyone, would want to avoid the Authority’s attention.”

“Let me guess, you can tell me more when I reach level 1000,” Alan said. Now that he was up to level 830 that didn’t seem too far off.

“Anything is possible. Now, you have no hope of fixing the Abyss Complex alone, but I know a few people who might help. Here are a few identification keys so they’ll know I sent you. They have points of contact either in Khersath or on the Exchange, which I grant you access to. Good luck.” Cerberus transferred a packet of data files through the terminal.

Alan tried accessing them, but they were hard to decipher, fragments of data that made no sense in his mind.

Bring them into the Armory, Lambda sent.

Okay, Alan sent as he entered Cyberspace. The Citadel was like his mind’s base within the Game, his central command center for hacking. This was all done in Cyberspace, a underlying layer in the Game. He envisioned hacking in the Game as a 3D real time strategy game. Alan’s base had a few structures: a research center, a supply depot, a medical station, barracks, and energy pylons, but they were all dwarfed by the Armory.

The Armory was why Alan had named his base the Citadel. It was a 150 meter tall structure, a massive, intimidating fortification of dark metal with ten levels. Its central tower contained Alan’s Command Center, where he commanded his forces during hacks and worked with base management. In addition to being a defensive fortification, the Armory could also train and develop new abilities and equipment, as well as appropriate data Alan found.

Right now the Citadel was mostly empty, a few units patrolled around, but as they cost computational energy as upkeep Alan kept his defenses down to a bare minimum. Lambda and Eve could also manifest here, and were much stronger than the basic units.

Alan focused on the Armory. It was converting a sniper rifle into a piece of equipment that could be used in hacks. The sniper rifle was the semblance of an AI that Alan had previously defeated in the hack on the New York Stock Exchange, and would hopefully provide additional utility to Alan’s hacking abilities.

Pausing this research, Alan focused on the packet of information Cerberus had sent. It moved  almost of its own accord from the terminal into the Armory. Four dark data cubes appeared. The future’s version of a USB, these small cubes of metal were shaped like marks, but had intricate circuitry that would alight when used. It took Alan’s enhanced vision to even see the circuit lines.

Alan had Eve and a few units take the data cubes into a room at the base of the Citadel. It wasn’t likely, but Cerberus could have hostile programs hidden in the data cubes. Opening a data cube in the Armory was akin to opening a treasure chest in a game, Alan wasn’t sure what might pop out. If anything too bad popped out, Alan could seal off each level of the Armory.

The first data cube contained a virtual blue nameplate that would float by Alan’s side. An accessory. The name currently read Alan, but could be edited. The title below was Revenant Initiate, Human. A list of instructions was also contained in the data cube, protocols on how to connect to the Exchange. It looked like it was similar to the Market and Arcade, but hidden so only Revenant members could connect to it.

The second data cube unraveled into a physical golden key. It was named Phantom’s Key. The description read: Android and Robotics Specialist. Khersath.

Huh, looks like Phantom will be needed to fix the Abyss Labyrinth. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince him, Alan thought.

I am not so certain, Eve sent.

Alan opened the next data cube. It contained another key, Prometheus’s Key. The description read: Energy Specialist. The Exchange.

Prometheus? That’s a human legend, Alan sent.

Remember, the Game translates everything so it makes senses in context, Lambda sent. Most cultures have a story similar to stealing fire from the gods, and his name is likely a reflection of that.

The last data cube contained The Archivists’ Key. The tag read: Predecessor Technology Specialists. The Exchange. Approach with caution.

Alan spent a few minutes examining the keys, but couldn’t make heads or tails of their purpose, he’d have to ask Phantom. He then received a message from the squad, their ride had arrived.

He exited Cyberspace, returning to the Game. He got out of the office into the main hangar. The doors opened above, revealing a sleek black transport ship.

It opened fire.

52 comments on “The Abyss 5.5

  1. Ephemerality says:

    Another chapter. Some revisions I’ve been making are clearing up/expanding on the Academy more. The program that Alan, his guild mates, and the others are enrolled in is distinguished as the combat program, where it’s more about learning how to fight/etc. The more traditional education experiences of the Academy are explored a bit more too.

    Also I’m not sure if I made this clear elsewhere, but the bonus points that Alan receives for getting 100 levels at a time or something like that is tied to the five times your level ability points you can purchase. Thus, in total, between bonus points and purchased points, you can have five times your level extra ability points to spend, so bonus ability points are basically freebies for talented Players, but can also just be bought out.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yay new chapter!

    Like

  3. Zolf says:

    That ending…😮

    Well, that’s a bit short. Thanks for the chapter

    Like

    • synthous says:

      Sleek and black. Sounds like the Revenants. That, or a super secret society that wants the abyss to either open or close. Staying in stagnation could be another possibility, that or the authoritehs.

      Like

  4. The Savage says:

    thank you for the chapter

    Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the chapter. Any idea when the next book will be out.

    Like

  6. merr49 says:

    No not a cliffhanger.
    😢

    Like

  7. coolazura says:

    This just keeps getting more and more interesting. Last chapter had Alan freaking out about something that just is, but this one finally progresses the quest some more.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gauntlet_K.I. says:

    Interesting. Thanks for the chapter. Good luck with the next.

    Like

  9. eduardo says:

    Was Black Rose infriltrated? …
    Thanks for the chapter.

    Like

    • Vincent says:

      I think one of the other guilds may be trying to intercept them. After hearing that they captured a point.

      Like

    • Rodin says:

      Maybe it’s the other player that received the quest, just like Alan did. Or may be it’s a faction that had previously controlled the quadrant they are interested in. Lastly, it could be a party that is interested in keeping the Abyss Complex dilapidated. Either way, I wonder if they will sort out their differences with words or with guns?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Bart says:

    “The sniper rifle was the semblance of an AI that Alan had previously defeated in the hack on the New York Stock Exchange”
    Ah, so he did get some new loot. We were speculating about whether some of the previous changes would reflect that or not.

    Like

  11. Vincent says:

    Good chapter. It’ll suck if he dies before getting to allocate the stuff he got from leveling up.

    Like

  12. Chance says:

    I just wanna see the rest if the abyss labyrinth, and I want Alan to meet enough requirements to hear all about everything that gets garbled in his mind

    Like

  13. blubb says:

    Not much happened in this chapter
    at least throw us a bone what of the rewards could be
    like “variable rewards” additional “1 pound Lords of Life elexier”

    Like

  14. Ifoldforweed says:

    good chapter, thats the way how alan can contribute to his guild,

    Like

  15. Ross says:

    It’s beginning to pick up plotwise IMO. So now there are two broken abyss facilities to consider: a robotic one and and a power station needing a Translateral Absorber. I like the sound of that last device. It sounds like the flux capacitor of the Abyss. I also like the intriguing plethora of abilities and materials needed for repairs.

    And things are moving forward with Alan’s determination to get Revenant training and capsule upgrades, etc.

    It looks like Alan’s revenant mentor, Cerebus, is also interested in not getting the Authority involved in things as the quest he gave Alan is to fix the Abyss so that the Authority needn’t get involved. Alan also likely wants to avoid the Authority because didn’t the Warden in the abyss send an alert to the Authority about the presence of Lambda?

    At this cliffhanger moment Alan is right outside a little office in the hanger that he might be able to hide in because it has some kind of barred entry that he previously needed to use his squire authority to enter.

    I don’t see how Alan can handle a transport ship shooting up the hanger but we’ll find out next time.

    Like

  16. anon says:

    “Volta, training, and similar rewards will not be available unless an advanced program is entered.”

    Does this mean that he could go back to the academy for advanced training?

    Like

    • Ross says:

      It sounds like he could but Alan and his two helpers think that Cerberus might have informed the Administrators at the school about the data vault break-in and don’t want to risk getting within their reach.

      Like

      • Ross says:

        Oops I got that wrong a bit. The Authority won’t intervene without proof so it must be something else school related that they fear has been told about Cerberus’ strong suspicion of Alan’s involvement in the data vault break-in.

        Like

      • Ross says:

        Gah. I meant Administrators not Authority.

        Like

      • soulxlight says:

        There are no administrators at the school, only trainers. Cerberus doesn’t exactly get along with the administrators who blockades the academy system and let’s Cerberus handle that system however he wishes.

        Like

    • oblivious says:

      Sounds like an attempt to tempt Alan back, which Alan believes is not a good idea.

      Like

  17. oblivious says:

    I had been wondering about those bonus ability points, since no one seemed very concerned about minmaxing them. Makes a bit more sense if they’re basically equivalent to money, and can be procured through other means. This makes me wonder about the ability points lost through death penalty, though. Do they come out of the same pool?

    Various plotlines converging. I was expecting the Revenant quest to be the next arc. If Phantom was going to give Alan the same initiate quest as Cerberus, then it might make sense that Phantom would assemble the same team as Cerberus. ie the Archivist could be Void (a Predecessor Revenant), and Prometheus could be Mason (a Revenant who specializes in techno-psionics, ie energy). That could explain why Mason is so protective of Alan – he’s the fourth specialist they need.

    I’m also suspicious about the healer in Alan’s squad.

    Like

  18. Rubix45 says:

    Good addition and starting to thicken the plot a bit. I’m glad to see Alan seems a bit more independent of his AI. Not always asking them how to do things.

    Like

  19. Arc says:

    This chapter felt a little schizophrenic/ADD. We barely get into the Abyss and now we’re back out with some brief resolution to the Academy arc and a quest chain that seems like it will consume the remainder of this arc with little time spent in the Abyss. It’s great that Alan wants to go off and level up, get a new capsule etc, but none of that seems achievable in the time he has allotted for the guild’s quest.

    Also is there some reason he’s not talking to the guild leaders about the new quest? It seems well within the guild’s means to achieve.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Anonymous says:

    Damn cliffhanger has me checking for the next chapter already.

    Curses.

    Like

  21. Anonymous says:

    huge fan of your Han Solo reference for the quest, rock on

    Like

  22. Rodin says:

    One question though. The sniper rifle as a semblance, does that mean that when the Citadel finishes with decoding the rifle, will it spawn a new AI? How about his capsule, Lambda filled it right up, so how will the new AI function? Or does a new market place to sell AIs exist?

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      This confused me as well. I thought the armory was where known items were made and the research facility was where the research was done.

      Like

    • Ross says:

      I think I recall the writer talking about having made changes so that if someone else recovered an AI remainder like Eve’s wings they could reconstruct something. I can’t quite recall but I think it was in the direction of getting an AI from it. So this seems to support getting an AI from the rifle semblance. Alan is now looking for Revenant guidance and help including getting an upgraded capsule. This may be in keeping with Alan unpacking Lambda fully, upgrading Eve and potentially adding more AIs. The Revenant exchange is open Alan now and this come from progressing with his Revenent mentor. Maybe this exchange will support AI market transactions. The type of people Alan now has mysterious keys for may may indicate something about the exchange; some are them reachable through the exchange. Another thought is that the extent of changes that a capsule could make to Alan himself depends on the capsule’s level.

      Like

  23. LitRPG_Lov3r says:

    Exiting ending(:

    Like

  24. Ross says:

    I just reviewed things and one of the requirements that Alan didn’t meet for his Revenant powered armor was being at Revenant Initiate level. But just now moments before the cliffhanger attack, Alan was graduated from the academy, granted Revenant Initiate level as indicated by a display accessory and given a Revenant Initiate quest. The point being his powered armor may now work better than when he tested it. Maybe the energy absorption feature will work better – just in time for this attack.

    Like

    • Zolf says:

      Are u talking about his power armor that’s being sent from mars, or his current one?

      Like

      • Ross says:

        His current armor. There is still some training that he is missing but maybe it still will work better than when he tested it. I assume he is Revenant Reputation: Friendly at this point because just elevated him.

        The armor requires:

        “Energy Efficiency (Advanced), Power Armor Instruction (Advanced), Revenant Training (Intermediate), Revenant Reputation: Friendly required.”

        When he was testing it earlier it said:

        “[Warning! Due to not meeting the minimum requirements of your current armor, it will be unable to absorb energy attacks. Instead, when activated Energy Absorption will only negate attacks. Hardened Shields will only result in an armored shield with 100 armor.]”

        Like

  25. Ephemerality says:

    New chapter should be up later today, along with a statement addressing the concerns a lot of people have been expressing about chapter release rate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • synthous says:

      I think it might be better if you also include this replying to a message close to the top, so people can see it more easily since there are quite a few comments.

      Also, can you add a sleek, tear-drop shape, with the curl facing down, and either it comes down as a hanger, or the bottom uses a tractor beam/drop down, to allow things inside? If it’s a small advanced shuttle, or even the one mentioned last, that’d be cool.

      Like

    • Drag0nslayer104 says:

      I always love posts that give us a eta on the next chapter. Your story is awesome, don’t worry about all the flak from people complaining. Haters gonna hate.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Ross says:

    I wonder what kind of implants Alan will get when he reaches level 1000.

    Eve selected his nube implants.

    His level 100 implants were used up by Phantom’s eye prosthesis implementation.

    Along the way one of Alan’s implants became a weak Progenitor implant but then Alan ran into trouble with Progenitor berserker blood incompatibility.

    Level 1000 approaches with a new mechanical and a new biological implant available. Dun dun DUN!

    Like

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