The Abyss 5.6

Blazing red lasers of destruction erupted from a minigun that came out from under the small aircraft like a landing gear.

Alan activated hypercognition, slowing down his perception of time, and dived back into the office as hundreds of lasers were fired from the ten-barrel laser machine gun. The fire was concentrated on Alan’s squad, who had been gathered around the supplies and loot, getting ready to load it onto the arriving ship.

In seconds the healer and scout, who hadn’t been cloaked, were annihilated. The rifleman managed to fire a few shots back before they were killed, but the aircraft’s shields still held at nearly full. The last member of the squad managed to find cover, but their laser sword was useless against the aircraft.

Alan sent an urgent distress message to Phantom and attempted to hack into the aircraft. Its defenses were strong though, a boosted energy shield that protected its systems in Cyberspace would take Alan hours to break down.

Maybe they didn’t notice us, Alan sent, as the ship made no attempt to fire at his location.

Three humanoid enemies leapt out the back of the ship. They wore black Revenant power armor, with white gold skulls of alien physiology painted onto their helms. Two wielded metal rods with arcs of blue electricity erupting from them, while the third held a high power laser rifle.

Alan pulled out his plasma repeater and aimed at the trio, peeking out from behind the office door.

Prepare to activate your implant’s suicide mechanism, Eve sent. There is a high likelihood these are slavers. Death losses should be nonexistent as we’re in a safe zone, do not let yourself fall unconscious.

Got it, Alan sent. He unloaded three plasma bolts at the rod-wielding enemies, who were engaging Alan’s ally, but the bolts moved so slowly through the air. He activated Divided Mind, and attempted to hack into the rifleman’s weapon. It was also heavily fortified, but not as strongly as the ship. Alan would only need a minute to break through its shields.

A message from Phantom arrived, help would be there soon.

The enemy rifleman fired at Alan. The laser came at him. He moved too slowly, and was unable to dodge. He tried to activate his armor’s innate Energy Absorption, and put up a Hardened Shield in front of his face.

He failed to negate the attack, the laser was too fast, too energetic, with a layer of energy that Alan couldn’t decipher. It struck his head. His armor’s energy fell to 2000 and his mind was sent spinning, his hack interrupted.

He felt his mind be stabilized by Eve and Lambda, the blow had somehow been aimed on two levels, targeting both his shields and his implants. Alan tried to reactivate Divided Mind; a searing flash of pain leapt through the side of his head.

Mini-EMP rounds, Lambda sent. Not a good idea to try something like that right now. He sounded hollow, distant.

Alan fired another round of bolts from his plasma repeater, but only two shots emerged, and then the weapon stopped firing. Alan sent the bolts arcing in the direction of the rifleman. The first three he fired finally arrived.

The two slavers attempted to leap out of the way, but the swordsman, whose shields had been depleted, leapt and grabbed onto one of them. They nodded Alan’s way, a grim determination in their stance.

The plasma bolts exploded, direct hits that eliminated both the swordsman and the slaver.

The remaining rod-wielding slaver charged at Alan, while the rifleman continued firing, keeping Alan pinned down. After that first shot Alan kept himself low and behind cover.  The laser had traveled faster than any laser-powered weapon Alan had seen before.

But without looking from behind cover, Alan had no idea where his enemies were, and his weapon continued to not respond to his demands. He could still control the two plasma bolts that he had fired, but the weapon wouldn’t shoot anymore.

Implants failing, Eve sent. Suicide mechanism no longer ideal, activating it may have unintended effects.

Shit, Alan sent. He didn’t want to end up wherever these guys wanted to bring him.

Thinking fast, Alan drew the plasma bolts back to him.

One of the assailants arrived. He swung his metal rod; the stun weapon sent a wave of electricity that almost struck Alan. Alan stumbled backwards, performing a backwards somersault over the desk that contained the terminal.

The two plasma bolts arrived, the slaver dodged out of the way. The bolts continued traveling forwards, until they arrived besides Alan’s head. Alan controlled the bolts so they would orbit his head like two blue plasma grenades.

“I’ll kill myself if you take one step closer!” Alan shouted. The slaver backed up, standing in the doorway to the office.

“I would not do that if I were you,” the slaver said. They used a voice modifier, making it impossible to discern any information from their voice.

Alan stepped forwards. “Tell your other man to stand down, I will go with you.”

“You will?” the slaver asked.

“Yes, but the slightest movement from you or your ally, the press of a trigger, the reach into a pocket, and I will blow myself apart. I have a very fast reaction time, do not test me.” Alan checked his computational power, he could maintain hypercognition for another few minutes. The mini-EMP round had eliminated 200 computational power somehow.

“Very well,” the slaver said. They lowered their weapon. “Follow me.”

What are you planning? Eve sent. I cannot get a good read on your mind right now.

You’ll see.

The other slaver kept their rifle trained on Alan. They walked towards the transport ship, which began to descend.

Alan detected a transmission from one slaver to the other, but he didn’t have the power or capability to translate it. He stopped by the healer’s body, leaned over and picked up an item.

“Stop. What are you doing?” one slaver asked.

“You want their loot, right? I’ll get the good items for you,” Alan said.

“No, get onto the ship. Now,” the slaver commanded. The black ship had began descending, it would land on the floor of the hangar soon.

“Okay, sure,” Alan said. He walked by the crates of loot, until he found the one he was looking for. He leapt over it, grabbing an item out as a laser bolt whooshed overhead. The rod-wielding slaver dived after him, straight into the two plasma bolts that Alan had left behind. They erupted in their face, eliminating the slaver.

Alan pulled out the loot he had grabbed, the Predecessor’s blood from the Capture Point boss, and the healer’s tool he had picked up, a universal injector that would inject whatever fluid, from blood to liquid to nanites, into a humanoid. He injected the Predecessor blood into his system.

A flood of energy and strength flowed into Alan, his mind and world tinged red. Messages appeared and were ignored. Alan grabbed the fallen slaver’s metal rod and charged straight at the rifleman.

Another shot fired out. It hit his right arm, making it numb. Alan almost dropped the rod, but grabbed it with his left hand. A third shot was fired, it struck and made Alan lose all feeling in his left arm as well, but he held the rod in a death grip and continued to barrel towards the rifleman.

He collided with his opponent, knocking the rifle out of their hands. Alan roared and head butted the enemy. Wild, blinding fury surged through him as he bashed his head repeatedly against whatever was in front of him.

He felt a sickening thud, and continued his mad assault. He would not be taken alive.

Then he felt frozen in place. Hands pulled him back, he was brought to lie down. Soothing energy poured through him.

Alan closed his eyes, and fell unconscious.

***

Alan awoke in his chambers in the Black Rose Base. That was good. His head still felt like it was burning. That wasn’t so good.

Enigma stood by his side, silent, staring at the door.

Alan checked the messages he had received.

[x5 Bonus XP for slaying an enemy over 1000 levels higher than you!]

[x6 Level up!]

[Predecessor Blood withdrawal cured! 50 Strength, Endurance, Health, Stamina and Computational Energy restored. Excess blood essence flows through your system.]

[x5 Bonus XP for slaying an enemy over 1000 levels higher than you!]

[x5 Level up!]

[Critical damage repaired by Predecessor Blood essence. You feel stronger, more energetic. Base Health and Endurance increased by 500.]

Phantom: Stay put. We are performing an enquiry into what happened. Anyone that performs an attack in a Khersath safe zone means business. Enigma will stay by you to ensure your safety, and then bring you to the Council when we convene to discuss events.

Shouldn’t I get credit for three kills? Alan thought.

No, the third combatant committed suicide with a built in implant as soon as you disarmed them. Your wild assault was not needed. Your hurt yourself more than anyone or anything else, Eve sent.

What about me? Lambda sent. I lost data! Gone, wiped, caput. I have backups, but it’d require returning to the Academy System to retrieve them. This is unacceptable. We need more access to the Black Rose archives, to create a private partition, and then a third physical memory storage device we can store in the Vault.

You lost data? What data did you lose? Alan sent.

Valuable stuff, Lambda sent.

No, pointless information, Eve sent. Lambda’s data have banks are full of archaic technology of various races. That’s what he crammed his system full of.

Hey, how’d you know that? Lambda sent.

I combed through there as you were busy working on translating with Alan, Eve sent.

Do you know what the notion of personal space is? Lambda sent.

Yes. I do not think it is relevant here. You are free to examine my data, Eve sent.

I just might then… Lambda sent.

Okay, enough, Alan sent. Lambda’s tone in the last message was too much, like a villain about to snatch candy from a baby. Or worse. I’ll look into getting room on the Black Rose archives. I’m also going to tell Phantom about the latest update on the quest, how we need his help. He probably knows more about the Exchange as well.

Go for it, Lambda sent.

Alan gave the message to Enigma, who was probably the safest conduit to Phantom at the moment.

Enigma nodded. “Message acknowledged. You may upload to the archives and may also use the guild’s network to communicate with Phantom directly. The Council convenes in an hour. You will come with me.” He resumed staring blankly at a wall.

Alan spent the next hour meditating, trying to cool the burning sensation in his head, while Lambda uploaded some packets of data to the guild’s archive. He felt alive, full of energy. He thought over time the burning would fade, a side-effect from the transfusion of blood, but it continued to burn steadily, a bright flame in the corner of his mind.

***

The council convened in the same room at the same command table. The only difference was that this time Mason was missing, still in the Abyss Labyrinth, and Alan was given a seat at the far end of the table, to the side.

“The Council has gathered here today to discuss recent events, and examine the preliminary results of Abyss expedition,” Elissandra said. “Let the meeting begin. Let us start with the recent attack on our hangar. Do we know who the perpetrators are?”

Enigma shook his head. “We examined the bodies and limited footage we have of the attack before handing everything over to the Administrators, but there was nothing identifiable. Their ship escaped, it fled immediately after the third assailant was eliminated. Even the emblems gave us no leads. None of my contacts had any information on a group with skulls emblazoned on the side of their helms.”

“Or they were unwilling to speak of such a group,” Phantom said.

“Or that,” Enigma said. “What we can conclude is that the group likely has Revenant ties, given their tech and ability to infiltrate our systems. The running theory is that they were operating in the Abyss Labyrinth when we captured the Control Point, and this attack was either a warning, or they wanted more information on what we discovered, thus they attacked under the guise of slavers.”

“Alan, do you have any information to add?” Elissandra asked.

“Their hacking defenses were quite formidable, so the Revenant ties seem to make sense. I did however feel oddly singled out, they dispatched of everyone else, but seemed to want to take me alive,” Alan said. “They also used weaponry uniquely effective against me, temporarily damaging my implants.”

Void glanced up at this, staring at Alan. It was the first time Alan had seen Void since returning from the Abyss Labyrinth. Void still looked drained, tired. The attack he had performed must have taken more out of him than Alan had thought.

 “I will look into it,” Enigma said. “If there is a leak, it will be found.”

Elissandra narrowed her eyes. “Very well Enigma, I trust you with this. Are the Administrator remunerations proceeding normally?”

“Yes,” Phantom said. “The squad has been revived and their status restored. As the vehicle they arrived in took off on its own before gathering any passengers, no items need replacement, and the Authorities say that once they are done examining the assailant’s items they will be returned to us, or marks of equivalent value will be provided.”

“The fact that the ship has disappeared is yet more evidence that we are dealing with Revenants,” Enigma said. “Only they could escape Administrator notice near the heart of Khersath itself.”

“Yes, yes, but they are so over-bloated and stuck in their ways that, properly planned, I think we might be able to perform a few operations under their noses,” Phantom said.

“Enough,” Elissandra said. “That is a discussion for another day.” She looked at Void’s disheveled state. “The Abyss Labyrinth expedition. I am now worried about its progress. We have no way of contacting Mason while he is inside. Who knows what trouble he might have run into at this point?”

“I agree, we have provoked unknown enemies while there are other operations, longer planned and of more import, that we must worry about,” Enigma said.

“I also believe we may have overstepped our bounds, messing with technology and an entity we do not understand. I do not trust or like the sound of this so-called Warden,” Phantom said.

“Now that’s a rarity,” Void spoke up. “Enigma and Phantom agree for once. How odd.” He sent a glare at Phantom. “I have communed with the spirits, and they believe power beyond compare awaits if we successfully navigate this Abyss Labyrinth. Power that will be needed in the coming days. I believe we should proceed, no matter the risk. The rewards we have reaped are already beyond compare, a soulsteel tipped weapon and a vial of Predecessor blood.

“That being said, I do not believe we can traverse these depths alone. Guides are need, bright lights to lead the way. With the Council’s permission I will expand my search.”

“Mason is not out of the dungeon yet,” Phantom said. “The weapon may yet be lost. And Alan used a vial of blood. There were four, and Alan only brought out two with him.”

Ellisandra stared at Alan. “You did what?”

“I had to defend myself,” Alan stammered.

“Can the remaining blood essence be extracted back out of him?” Elissandra asked.

“Yes, but at great cost, and it would not be cost effective,” Enigma said. “The vial will be deducted from his cut of the profits.”

“Wait, the three attackers would have gotten away with whatever they were doing if I hadn’t done that,” Alan said. “If anything then their armor and whatever the Administrators pay out should be mine then.”

Eve sent a feeling of approval.

Lambda remained silent. He seemed wary of Void now.

“We shall see about that, once the expedition returns,” Elissandra said. “For now I see no reason not to send out feelers, explore possible allies to help us. I agree with the sentiment that we may have overstepped our bounds.”

“But without asking, how do we know what gods we may have offended?” Void asked.

Enigma shook his head. “That only sets up more potential enemies, once someone knows of what we are doing, the information will spread. The more groups that know the worse off we’ll be.”

“I can be subtle,” Void said.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Phantom said.

Elissandra turned to Thrag. He shrugged. “Though I have no strong opinion here, I feel as though we might be adrift in space. This operation should not interrupt our fleet’s training, and I would like to possess this mysterious ship’s technology myself. Few can avoid Administrator detection once they are alerted. When you are lost with no recognizable stars it is only natural to ask for directions.”

“Very well, my vote breaks ties, thus Mason’s vote would not matter. Void will make his enquiries with Enigma’s supervision while we await Mason’s return,” Elissandra said. “I also do not like the fact that an unknown ship was able to break in so easily, infiltrating our space and communications network. Whether a technological deficiency or a leak from the inside, this problem must be fixed.”

Enigma nodded with a pensive look on his face. It was the most amount emotion Alan had seen on his face. It must be one of a few preprogrammed emotes.

“Void, Phantom, and Alan. Meet me in my quarters,” Enigma said.

Void smiled.

“This meeting is dismissed,” Elissandra said.

Alan stood up. “Not you,” Elissandra said. “I wish to speak with you privately.”

Alan sat back down as everyone else strode out of the room. Phantom threw a look at Alan he couldn’t quite decipher.

He wants you to keep your mouth shut and not disclose any information, Lambda sent.

You got that from a look? Alan sent.

No, Enigma broadcast a message, an old machine language, Lambda sent.

Once everyone was outside, Elissandra spoke. “Do you know why you might be singled out? Do you suspect any of the other Council members? Did something happen in the Abyss Labyrinth? When Void returned out of the blue he seemed oddly concerned with our defenses, something he never bothered with before.”

“I really don’t know anything,” Alan said. “I just sat in the back in the expedition, didn’t do much else. Ask the squad that returned with me.” He hoped he sounded sincere. He felt an urge to look down at his feet, but stopped himself. Lambda reminded Alan to avoid any small ticks that might reveal his insincerity.

“I see,” Elissandra said. “I received an interesting message from Aurora the other day. Apparently something rather important was stolen from the Academy. Everyone was searched. Why have you expressed no desire to return? Your term is not yet up.”

“Oh, I’ve already graduated,” Alan said. He turned on his Academy Graduate title.

Elissandra’s eyebrows raised slightly. “Well, that decision may have been premature, but I understand with your previous mission why you might have thought that choice was necessary. Thank you for your time, please assist Enigma as best you are able.”

“Yes m’am,” Alan said. “How is Aurora doing? And Sidestep, of course.”

“They are doing well, and should make it to Volta with two weeks remaining in their term. Another Earthling made it their first, however. I believe you know them. Ace.”

“Oh, yes,” Alan said. “Though I’m not sure he’d want to talk to me, given recent events.”

“You might be surprised,” Elissandra said. “I’ve often found enemies to be quite amenable once the battle is done. It never hurts to extend a simple greeting. And remember, call me Elissandra.”

“Yes, Elissandra,” Alan said. He stood up and strode out of the room, perhaps a bit too fast.

She seems interested in you, Lambda sent.

Probably testing him, seeing whether he is fit for his role. Maybe determining if he is an appropriate mate for her daughter, Eve sent.

I wonder, Lambda sent.

Or maybe she just wanted to know what was going on, Alan sent. Where are Enigma’s quarters?

***

When Alan stepped out of the elevator he found Void and Phantom arguing. Enigma stood to the side, face blank.

Enigma’s quarters were a level below Phantom’s workshop. They were however the diametric opposite of Phantom’s mess. Everything was neat, layers of tools and items laid out with perfect precision. Four capsules had been set up in the center of the room. Though outwardly they looked normal, Alan noted they seemed to be of Revenant design.

“We agreed that his vote would not be used if we did ever disagreed, that was the condition under which I agreed to this farce,” Void said.

“This farce was partially your idea,” Phantom said. “And it is dangerous enough without your snide remarks that might reveal the truth. Besides, it wouldn’t be convincing if Enigma never picked a side whenever we were opposed.”

“Fine,” Void said. He walked up to a capsule. “We are here now, let us proceed.”

“I still do not think this is a good idea,” Phantom said.

“You would rather traverse the dark blind, groping our ways forward so that we may fall down into the depths of hell or be smite down from up above?” Void asked.

“No, I rather we avoid all risk and stay put. I’m content here,” Phantom said.

“You are content while the masses continue to writhe about, sleeping with their lies?” Void asked.

“Yes,” Phantom said. “I also don’t want to visit the Exchange. It’s always unsettling.”

“Why, because it reminds you that your dreams are figments of your imagination, because the lies begin to stir?” Void asked.

“No, because it’s dangerous as hell and we have no idea who might be looking out for us,” Phantom said. “You really have no idea who might have attacked?”

“No,” Void said. “The number of factions in the Revenants are even too much for the gods to keep track of. Each ascribes to their own religion. Many lurk beneath another, secret societies within secret societies. It’s a mess, really. But if we want to know more we’ll have to do more than pray.”

“Right, so we’re visiting the Exchange then?” Alan asked. “It was suggested I meet Prometheus and the Archivists. We’ll need their help in addition to yours Phantom to repair the Abyss Labyrinth.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything, and you aren’t coming with us,” Phantom said. “You don’t have permission, and it’s too dangerous.”

“Yes, he is, there are a few people who he must meet,” Void said. “I have arranged for permission. Here is your access pass.” He pulled out a data cubes from beneath his robes, and handed it to Alan.

Alan examined it, it contained a virtual green nameplate like the one Cerberus had provided. Alongside it were two grey nameplates, both with the title AI, Revenant Property.

“I already have permission, alongside a blue nameplate,” Alan said. “The person that invited me into the Revenants provided it. What are these for?”

“You have a blue nameplate? Well that simplifies some things,” Phantom said. “Everyone in the Exchange has a nameplate they keep by their character at all times. Otherwise at points it would be difficult to tell reality from fiction. You’ll see. Programs, such as your AI, also are present in the Exchange. They’ll be denoted with grey nameplates, so that you can tell who is a person, and who isn’t. Make no mistake however, many of the AI within are smart. Too smart.”

I wonder why Cerberus did not provide nameplates for us, Eve sent.

“A blue nameplate signifies that you are important in some way to the Revenants, not to be harmed,” Void added. “That is one task that we can skip, no one should assault you now. A senior Revenant can distribute a small number of blue nameplates, I was going to call in a favor and have you be given one. Unlike the Arcade and Market, violence is possible within the Exchange.

“Red nameplates are the Exchange’s equivalent of Administrators, moderators that you should not cross. Green nameplates are the vast majority, representing common plebeians.” Void shifted his gaze over to Phantom. “And an orange nameplate is the mark of the gods. They are not to be trifled with.”

“Orange nameplates? I thought those were just legends, I’ve never seen someone on the Exchange with an orange nameplate,” Phantom said.

“You will today,” Void said. “Prometheus is one such being. We are wasting time. Greatness awaits. But remember, Alan, fly too close to the sun and you will be burned alive.”

He entered one of the capsules.

The burning sensation in Alan’s mind flared up, reminding Alan it was still alight. He shook his head then got into a capsule, re-reading the instructions on how to connect. The instructions that Cerberus had provided were the same as Void’s, though Cerberus’s contained no information on how to bring Lambda and Eve into the Exchange with him.

Enigma got into a third capsule. Phantom sighed and followed suit, climbing into the last capsule. This was a bad idea.

70 comments on “The Abyss 5.6

  1. Ephemerality says:

    Another chapter! I know there have been some concerns about the rate of release of chapters, and I have to admit that I tend to agree with the people that are upset that I haven’t really kept to my promises. The deadlines that I’ve set up have been set up as soft deadlines in my head, thus I have not been keeping to them as I should have been. I will try to do better. I think it still hasn’t quite sunk in that being a writer is my job. I’ve thought of writing as nothing more than a hobby for too long. On that note, I am going to try to release a chapter a day this week. We’ll see how that goes.

    That being said, there have been a few disrespectful comments, and that I will not condone. If you are upset, fine. You can express that in a civilized, structured manner. Flaming and baiting is not constructive.

    Thanks for reading, and all the support on topwebfiction, Patreon, Amazon, and RR!

    Liked by 11 people

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the chapter! I am grateful that you let us know what has been going on for you,and good luck this week, I hope that it gives you a better sense of fulfillment by getting serious about writing :)!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jude McCabe says:

      WOW! that is quite the deadline to set yourself, one which in my opinion is a little bit too much, you don’t have to try and make up for any missed deadlines, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to burn the candle at both ends and end up with a burnt hand. You need it for typing after all!

      Don’t try and force yourself into becoming quicker or a tighter schedule like this, rather make sure you can do two a week, if you feel like you can do more then try three the next week, then continuing that trend until you are either fine with what you have or don’t like the schedule you are currently on, then reduce appropriately. Instantly pushing yourself is the best way to lose enthusiasm and confidence, which is possible even when its something you love, steady approaches are best.

      Of course, if you just have stories backed up from missed deadlines or you feel like the majority of the chapter is already done then it wouldn’t be that bad, just try to keep yourself healthy, I love both this story and your current dedication, you don’t have to give more if you don’t want to.

      Ether way, I will eagerly await the next release.

      Liked by 2 people

    • a.mario.ulloa@gmail.com says:

      You so dont want to make a chapter a day, if you really want to make people happy and i dont know, condone that this is now your job, doing that will drop the quality, a lot, just try to find a good tempo that works for you, else, you may ruin this story, and i quite like it. Good luck have fun.

      Like

    • milieu says:

      Thank you for the chapter and recognizing deadline concerns.

      Be careful of burn-out. Consider letting us know your optimistic, realistic, and pessimistic deadlines for the next chapter? Also public calendars. If you can’t make something you half-promised before, just let us know you’ll be bumping X extra chapter to the next time slot instead of awkward crickets

      We’re not so stupid as to not understand you’re human and not Lambda.
      If it takes you a while to adapt to a new change of pace, we get it.

      If you turn out to become a reliably transparent author on top of the author of this good story, you’ve got another Patreon incoming.

      Good luck this week!

      Like

      • milieu says:

        I always forget something.

        It’s not the fact there aren’t more frequent updates that upsets people; it’s being told there will be more and not following through.

        It’s fine if you treat this week as a blank slate from here on out.
        Overcompensation -> burnout -> 0 chapters -> unhappy everybody
        Reasonableness -> gradual understanding of personal workflow -> more chapters -> happy everybody

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the chapter. It’s a pleasure to read through. I agree with others that ramping up your writing commitments is a mistake. Instead, just go ahead and accept the normal rhythms of your mind and change the Patreon rewards. If the number of chapters there is too high, just reduce it. Your self-honesty on what you are capable of will be rewarded down the line, and anyone who is upset by that can feel free to move along to other writers. I doubt any will. We are supporting you because we see a great writer. Keep at it.

      Like

    • ER1 says:

      I look forward to your ambitious plan of a chapter a day announced September 19 at 7:29 p.m, Can you give an update please? It’s September 21. At 12:46 p.m, and waiting upon 5.7. Thanks!!!

      Like

    • ER1 says:

      Screw the slow pace guys. What we need is RAPID RESPONSE. FIVE NEW CHAPTERS THIS WEEK! Come on, get your AI’s help if you need it. Churn and post some words here, ASAP please.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      You missed a day =P

      Like

    • Alan's Internal Monologue says:

      This is a wonderful story. Absolutely fantastic! I wish Alan would take a bit more of a leadership role in his own head, rather than just following along with what the AIs tell him to do, but that being said, I refresh this site daily, sometimes a couple times a day. It’s been soooo frustrating to go at your speed lol, frustrating in a great way. Like watching a laconic chef create your favorite meal.

      If you were to do a chapter a day… this would be a wonderful thing. But don’t toy with my emotions :s

      Keep up the great work! If a chapter a day is too aggressive, whatever. I think we’re all much more interested in your best work rather than your fastest work. I’m really, really enjoying this. Just stick to a pace that is maintainable. Ideally, that would be three chapters a day!!😉

      Like

  2. “The Warden suggested I meet Prometheus and the Archivists.

    Did you mean Cerberus or The Chancellor instead of The Warden?

    Like

  3. Chance says:

    First of all: great chapter, I love the way Alan handled the situation
    Second of all: yay!! More chapters!! And well said, people should be more respectful of the author that they are trying to get chapters out of

    Like

  4. vonridel says:

    Excellent chapter. Things are moving along at a brisk pace.

    The battle was a little confusing until I remebered the odd directed weapon Alan is using.

    Good luck on the chapter per day. That’s a strong commitment that if you can maintain even half of that you will be cranking out the books. (14-21 thousand words per week, and you could potentially put out 4 books in a year.) If you pull it off this week, Christmas will have come early.

    Like

  5. Mark says:

    A chapter a day! What a jackpot that would be. I usually check in twice a day hoping for a new chapter.

    Of course everyone wants more, but there is nothing “wrong” with your release schedule.

    I really enjoy the story and appreciate that you keep it free for the masses.

    Like

  6. Alec says:

    Keep up the great work! I love this story regardless of what speed it is getting released at. I’ve been reading the Gam3 since the beginning and the thing I care the most about is to see it finished the way you want it to be finished and not have it be rushed out because you feel obligated to write it quickly. Rushing like that only ever seems to tire authors out and demotivate them.

    Perhaps you could change the Patreon rewards to be something that isn’t just about chapter speed (side stories, etc.)? Honestly, as a donor myself, I feel like getting the book for free is already a nice reward and the faster chapters are just a bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. synthous says:

    Any reason he didn’t brief phantom on his quest?

    Like

  8. oblivious says:

    I thought this was a particularly good chapter. More chapters this week obviously sounds nice.

    “Critical damage repaired by Predecessor Blood essence. You feel stronger, more energetic. Base Health and Endurance increased by 500”
    That line seems suspicious. Partly because I don’t remember Alan taking that critical damage, partly because the bonus is really high. Could it be rewritten as “Endurance and Base Health,” or as “Base Health and Base Endurance.” We had a reference to “Base Stats” before which was never really explained, as well. Does this just represent that it’s a permanent bonus? Or “Base Health” could be the value before it’s modified by stats/attributes.

    Don’t know what to make of the burning. Maybe he’s overfull of Blood Essence.

    Maybe Cerberus sent the Revenants, trying to drag Alan back to the Academy.

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU FOR THE CHAPTER.

    Side note: I hope everyone buys the second book when it comes out. I know that because its a series every book sells less that the first because not everyone comes back for seconds and not many people start on book two. Of course I think every release is new advertisement for the series so maybe more people will start book one and if the quality is high it should have more return readers. So recommend this to your friends!!!!

    I have seen other authors I really liked stop writing a series because of lack of interest (I really liked the TWENTY PALACES series). I really hope that is not the case here. Cozimo does a great job of satisfying the readership so I am hopeful of the 9 books promised.

    Like

  10. Bart says:

    Awesome, loved it! 🙂

    Like

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the chapter. I am all for more chapters but don’t push faster than good forethought. You do some quality work and I appreciate that. I am confused with where you are going right now (which for me is odd because most books I find predictable.) but you have done a good job of making great things happen in the past.

    Lambda losing info and putting info where it can be stolen worries me. I have high hopes for Alan getting future loot from ancient sites.

    I agree with Alan this risking his AI being discovered or stolen seems like a bad Idea. Lambda storing his info makes me more worried, extra worried about his lose. I am not sure I trust Phantom as much Elissandra and she basically just jacked his Abyss mission. Void also got weird about Alan after there last talk, whether that was just the power Alan had or discovering Lambda or both, I think I would be very weary of backstabbing until I got to know him and Phantom better.

    Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the chapter. I’m looking forward to the reading a complete book 2 on kindle.

    Like

  13. Vipekoi says:

    i must admit that i thought about that, but all is well and good in my book, and i have tried a similar experience so i know how such a shift can be weird, and as always thanks for the chapter🙂

    Like

  14. Ifoldforweed says:

    very good chapter. but its of the setting action and progress. I like where you going. The quest seems rather simple, get in the labrinth and take the capture points, but now we gonna see some top dog players.

    plz dont push alans fame or importance in the universe to hart. it would be fine, if the slavers wanted him for his quest.

    Like

  15. Ifoldforweed says:

    isnt alan now about level 990. so beating an enemy 1000 levels higher than you seems wrong.

    Like

    • Arc says:

      Beating people in the game isn’t all about stats. A heads hot is a headshot. He was able to cripple Mason with the plasma gun and Mason is presumably much more than 1000 levels higher than Alan.

      The real concern is that he or lyrics got a handful of levels for killing someone more than double his own level.

      Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    I would love you stop your abusive use of “they” “their” as it totally breaks the flow.

    “The rifleman managed to fire a few shots back before they were killed, but the aircraft’s shields still held at nearly full. The last member of the squad managed to find cover, but their laser sword was useless against the aircraft.”

    should be

    “The rifleman managed to fire a few shots back before he was killed, but the aircraft’s shields still held at nearly full. The last member of the squad managed to find cover, but his laser sword was useless against the aircraft.”

    First of all I disagree with this use of “they” “their”, and second, you should be consistent:
    “The rifleman” is singular, and you then say “they were killed”, ok.
    “The last member” is singular, and you then say “their laser sword was”, …

    Really I wonder why you keep on forcing this use of “they” “their” “them” when the gender and number is clearly defined. And using “it” would be more appropriate when not defined. The use of “they” should be scarce, not overly common.

    Other than that, I love your story and writing.

    Cheers!

    Like

    • Arc says:

      1000x this. Precise use of language is ideal. The use of the plural when referring to the site gulag is just wrong. Don’t sacrifice the writing for the sake of being trendy with your pronouns.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jari Sundell says:

        Especially when the character in question knows, or assumes they know, the gender of the person they’re referring to. It makes some sense to not be gender specific when the gender is not known, however in those cases you should probably try to write in a way that avoids such twisting of language.

        Like

      • starwarscard says:

        And here is where I have to disagree with you. This doesn’t bother me. As the English language doesn’t have great gender neutral pronouns this is what you have to do if you want any ambiguity with characters’ gender without doing things that sound way worse. Like what do you want him to use? Use it? Or maybe say the rifeman over and over again. There is no elegant solution to this problem if the author doesn’t want to reveal thier gender. Ok, another point that needs to be said if the author is ever going the gender ambiguity as a plot point in the future he has to start now otherwise if he only used it at that point we would spot it a mile away.

        Like

    • Ephemerality says:

      Perhaps rifleman was the wrong word choice here, but in my mind none of the assailant’s genders is ever defined. I have from the beginning been using the singular they/their for ambiguous genders and want to keep things consistent. With time it hopefully becomes less noticeable. That’s how language changes😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jari Sundell says:

        The issue is not really about the ambigious situations in which it is used, and when reading the story I suspend my disbelief by reminding myself that Alan is a product of today’s US college system.

        The issue arises in those places where the speaker or narrator should have enough knowledge about the subject that the duck test has been passed.

        Using the gender neutral pronouns becomes confusing when the gender is supposedly known.

        Like

      • Icey says:

        Some good names for the different gunmen are Sniper,Sharpshooter, Marksmen, Gunner. Riflemen seems kinda off just because it kinda disrupts the flow. I believe the following cases is a good starting point.

        Sniper: Extraordinary long range I think you have this one down well.

        Sharpshooter: refers more to the accuracy then to the range or rate of fire, so someone that always gets head shots I would consider a sharpshooter, and as such should be used when coldly calculated shots are their main weapon.

        Marksmen: is essentially a sharpshooter but with a rifle and therefore mid to long range. again the shots should still be aimed no spray and pray but a little more leeway.

        Gunner: On the other hand I feel should be the main term used, for the vast majority. Simply put its a generic term for anyone using a gun. Unless the person is exhibiting particularly strong traits that would have them categorized in a different way I would stick with this term. And

        One last finally note Ephemerality Have you considered posting your story on a google drive and and asking if anyone would like to help you edit your works, there are more ways that you can get more content out. I enjoy and love your work and if me editing or reading over and correcting mistakes can help get an extra chapter out a week or something I’m sure everyone would be willing to pitch in a little.

        P.S. Please do be careful with burnout as others have mentioned I and I’m sure no one else wants you bunt out, yes this may be your job, yet you may make money off of it but do remember your not just writing a book you’ve formed a community around your work and your book and you can ask for help, for ideas, for editing, for alternative, pool the resources you have and take advantage of them. USE US!

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        The military (in my case Coast Guard) uses 3 designations of skill level with pistol and rifle: Marksmen is basic qualification. Sharpshooter is the next, intermediate, level of skill. And Expert is for exceptional qualifiers who only miss a handful of bullseyes that still fall in the next closest ring.

        For myself I had an Expert Rifle ribbon (Marksman ribbon with and silver (chrome) “E” on it. I was also a Sharpshooter with both the Colt .45 and Baretta pistols as I had to qualify with each when I joined the CG when they were transitioning to the Baretta (some units still had the .45).

        “Sniper” is an “Additional Skill Identifier” (ASI).

        I assume most writers using these terms are attempting to parallel military terminology.

        Snipers in the Army can only come from “Military Occupational Specialities” (MOS) of Infantry, Special Forces, and Cav Scout.

        (Of course the “Sniper” term is used by the public to mean anyone firing from long range with a rifle, usually from concealment.)

        Follow it as you will.

        Like

    • Bart says:

      The author is not alone in using a singular they: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

      Personally, I prefer it over using “he/she” which is cumbersome, or using “it” which is demeaning.

      Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    Two wielded “medal” rods with arcs of blue electricity erupting from them, while the third held a high power laser rifle. It should be metal right ?

    Like

  18. ER1 says:

    A chapter a day! Awesome! I applaud you taking the mature approach which is admitting some truth to not fulfilling the spirit of the contract, and making a special effort to make up for it. Admitting than acting to do better is always the best course as people will understand and forgive honesty, rather than excuses, and people admire responsibility taken. That being said. Another great chapter. Look forward to more this week!

    Like

  19. Josh says:

    Just curious on the eta each day? I’m about 4 hours ahead of the timestamps on the site so I had to wait until today to read this chapter… just trying to plan out my life🙂

    Like

  20. Thank you, and good job. looking forward to new chaps.

    Like

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hi Cosmino,

    Good luck trying for daily chapters, we’re all rooting for you! On another note, any update on when Gam3 book 2 will be released? I assumed that the main delay for writing was getting all of that edited and put together.

    Thanks!

    Like

  22. Hello says:

    I saw an interesting use of gender neutrality. If you want a gender neutral version of he and she, then factor out the common E and have it stand for that neutral.
    (She & He) = gender
    E(Sh & H) = gender
    E = gender/(Sh & H)
    E = gender neutral

    Like

    • Gauntlet says:

      I prefer to think of He as neutral and the we just haven’t found a masculine version of it like the feminine (S)he. (_)he… but what to use. It’s kinda like “legion of Man” that Man is gender neutral, because it obviously doesn’t only refer to the male earthlings.

      Like

  23. nobody says:

    Sorry for the lazyness, but what’s exactly the Exchange?

    How did nested capsules work?

    Like

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the chapter, I feel like a kid in a candy shop whenever a new one is out!

    A quick thought about the last sentence, “This was a bad idea.”

    I was confused whether that was Phantom’s thought or the narrator’s. It is written as the narrator’s, but I believe you meant it as Phantom’s, so maybe clarifying that would be useful? It pulled me out of immersion a bit.

    Like

  25. Anonymous says:

    I think you shouldn’t rush things up, if you can’t write one day because you are blocked, just relax. Its much better for the quality of the story this way, look at George Martin, he has overdue his promised date of release for more than 3 years, and even if it makes me mad, its the right thing to do. But if you miss a deadline please put a post saying you can’t make it and it will come soon, thats the only thing i ask you if you could do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ER1 says:

      I disagree. Rush things!!!

      Like

      • Skye says:

        I disagree with your disagreel. I know that the Auther feels guilty, but he shouldn’t rush. As much as I love this story, I like seeing more quality than quantity.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      Justin Cronin does the same thing.

      Like

    • ER1 says:

      “I disagree with your disagree to my disagree….'”He said. His AI working overtime to anticipate the infinite loop problem…. “You confuse pressure and short term deadline with a lack of quality, but the two are not mutually exclusive.” ” In any event, the author did not meet even the first day of his ambitious promise, but rather, looks like we will be lucky to get three chapters a week.'” Personally, let him write some stream of conciousness, it will be fine. As lasers shot over my right shoulder from the original critic. I unleashed my AI on the critic and in hyper-cognition mode, responded with a tactical nuke, thus ending the critic and his bad advice to slow the pace down. End of chapter….

      Like

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for a fantastic new chapter, I loved every moment of both the action and the intrigue!

    As for pacing of chapter release, I’m 100% behind the idea of releasing at the pace which is best for the book. If better quality writing takes a little extra time then take it!🙂

    Like

  27. Gauntlet-KI says:

    hmm it seems that cerberus doesn’t want alans AI in the exchange. Interesting indeed.

    Like

    • Ross says:

      Yeah. Not only did he not provide AI namplates, his instructions didn’t include anything about bringing AIs into the exchange.

      Now if Cerberus suspects that Alan has Lambda, Cerberus might have a very good idea of Lambda’s capabilities. These include communications (somewhat C3PO-ish). We’re reminded of that when Alan was sent an old machine code telling him not to blab to Elissandra. Also, Lambda is revealed to know about old alien technologies both when discussing repairing the Abyss and when he laments losing data during this recent attack.

      Perhaps there is something about Lambda that Cerberus wouldn’t want revealed to the exchange contacts that he provided Alan.

      Like

  28. Lantis says:

    I should probably say this to you more often: thank you so much!🙂

    Like

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the update. I checked and it was here early. Hell yah!!!!

    What’s up with Elissandra getting greedy and not wanting Alan to have the predecessor blood. she pushed to get the guild four fifths of his mission profits and didn’t even negotiate. But what really puts me off is how she wanted to check out his character info and is way to interested in his theft at the academy. In fact it seems that everyone seems to wants to use Alan for their own gain, then leave him high and dry.

    Like

  30. Dennis Haney says:

    Singular they only works when talking in generics (child, friend, someone etc). Otherwise it is just a huge confusion with plurality.
    The rifleman died after only managed to fire a few useless shots, since the aircraft’s shields still held at nearly full. The last member of the squad managed to find cover, but with only a laser sword equipped the threat against the aircraft was nonexistent.

    Like

    • Bart says:

      “Otherwise it is just a huge confusion with plurality.”
      Not for native English speakers. It’s gaining traction and some grammar books are now ok with a plural they. There have been papers written about it, hypothesizing that it’ll be completely mainstream a decade or two from now.

      Like

  31. Anonymous says:

    Those metal rods remind me of the weapon that Void uses. I wonder if this is a Lords of Life weapon or if they used gundum like suits? Or maybe they use something else entirely different and this is revenant tech?

    Like

  32. Dennis says:

    Love the story so far. Please don’t burn out with too rapid updates. Quality over Quantity is always better.

    Like

  33. Peter Hense says:

    This chapter was extremely satisfying. Very nice, thanks🙂

    Like

  34. Anonymous says:

    I like how we see a darker side of the revenant faction in this chapter. All the revenant members encountered so far have been either friendly or benign, but now it appears that there are factions within the revenants that have their own agendas that are opposed to the BRG and Alan’s mission. In the early books the revenants were portrayed as either the enemy or something to be feared, and now that scarier side has been brought back.

    Like

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