The Abyss 5.12

Time passed. Slowly at first, but before Alan knew it a month had gone by. Alan managed to reach intermediate in the Revenant training ability with Lambda, gaining a number of stat points in strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence along the way. However, despite the constant training, Alan was still unable to reach the advanced level of mastery in power armor instruction and energy efficiency. There was still a marked difference when using the scout power armor. Eve no longer had to devote quite so much attention to keeping advanced stealth mode active—Alan could pull some of his own weight.

Eve also continued to impart a plethora of knowledge, testing Alan periodically to make sure he remembered older lessons. Despite the biological advances and the implant in his mind, Alan did not have a perfect memory and occasionally had to re-learn facts or lessons that he hadn’t paid enough attention to.

In Cyberspace research finished, allowing Alan to construct a new set of units:

[Elite Scout, Rank C Program. Produced at Training Grounds.

Advanced stealth scouting program.
Cost: 300 Energy.
Upkeep: 60 Energy.
Attack: 125 damage/sec. (Ranged)
Defense: 20 armor.
Shields: 200 energy.
Health: 200 hp.
Movement: 4.
Special Abilities: Basic Invisibility]

The elite scouts turned out to be exceedingly useful, befitting their rank C status. Not only were they capable of killing marine units with one-shot from longer ranges, but their damage was more efficient than even sword guards energy-wise. The fact that they were capable of invisibility made it pointless for Alan to even use elite marines anymore—the only problem was his computational energy pool of 750.

Repeatedly Alan ran into problems due to this limited energy pool, effectively kept at 650 as divided mind required 100 computational energy. Alan’s other active abilities required computational energy as well. Hypercognition, cybernetic vision, and hypertranslation were all a drain on this valuable resource. A number of combat tests became a careful min/max game balancing his capabilities between in-game and Cyberspace.

Despite making solid advances, which included gaining four levels, Alan was getting tired of training. Twice Alan asked to be updated on the Abyss Labyrinth quest, and twice he was told he was being kept in the dark for operations security. The android Specialist told Alan to stay safe and keep an eye on the Abyss Labyrinth entrance, so that was what he did. After the initial swell of players, the number entering the dungeon dwindled. Too many people were dying without any major reward.

There was still the occasional thrill seeker or risk taker that made the trip, but even the guards seemed to be growing tired of their jobs. The gang members took longer breaks and began harassing passerby. Members of the Royals had approached the shop many times, but always received a notification that seemed to satisfy their interest. Alan was kept in the same small building, cut off from the rest of the world.

Then, one day, Alan woke to two messages:

[Missing Systems Complete:

Power has been restored. Visit the Warden to receive your rewards.]

[Prison Break Failed:

The Abyss Labyrinth’s power has been restored. The prisoners will likely never see the light of day. Reputation with the Abyss Labyrinth’s prisoners is now hated.]

Alan wanted to charge into the Abyss Labyrinth to receive his rewards, but the Specialist commanded him to return to the Black Rose guild headquarters first. Alan obeyed.

***

As soon as Alan arrived back at the Black Rose guild base he was brought below ground to the Council’s chamber. All of the guild’s officers were present, in addition to another player Alan hadn’t expected to see again so soon. S stood, facing all of the officers. Alan knew that S was a servant for the game’s Empire faction, but that was about it. He should be a newer player though, as S had started at the Academy at the same time as Alan.

Phantom sent Alan a message telling him to be quiet and stand behind him. Alan followed the orders, taking a stance with his hands behind his back, facing S.

“The Council has gathered here today to put the finishing touches on Operation Restore Light, and to discuss our ongoing relationship with the Empire,” Elissandra said. “Let the meeting begin.”

“Yes, let it, I’ve been waiting long enough already,” S said. “The Empire has held up our end of the bargain and restored the Abyss Labyrinth’s first level energy production facilities with the schematics provided by the Black Rose guild. A current production rate of three void crystals a year is estimated. Once the Empire’s initial investment of energy and crystals is recouped the Empire will provide the Black Rose guild with one void crystal a year. You still do not wish to take a lump sum?”

“We do not,” Elissandra said. Everyone on the council except for Mason seemed to agree with this sentiment.

“Then once Alan has turned in his quest and handed over the Empire’s portion of the spoils we should be done,” S said. “Our machine lords have reported varying rewards, generally in marks and experience, but also access to a second level of the Abyss Labyrinth. While at this time the Empire has not set its sights on delving any deeper into the labyrinth, I would highly advise against it if one does not want to lose their mind. We had to terminate one servant already, she began hearing voices.”

“Good advice,” Void said. “One who stands on the shoulders of giants should always be fearful of looking down.”

“Well then,” Elissandra said. “Alan will return to the Abyss Labyrinth under the supervision of Mason and Void once more, accompanied by S. Alan will receive 10% of the quest rewards, 40% will go to the guild, distributed based on contribution, and the final half will go to the Empire. Any objections?”

“10%? I was promised 20%,” Alan said.

“That was before we realized the scope of work and made a deal with the Empire,” Elissandra said. “We aren’t even charging you the normal rate for levels gained—you can thank Phantom and Void for that.”

Charge me for levels gained? Alan thought.

Standard leveling fees, Eve sent. Basically, they would take an amount proportional to experience gained out of your cut of the quest rewards, as levels are technically part of the quest rewards, but the guild doesn’t get experience.

Hmph, we’re improving the guild by being in it, Lambda sent.

“Speaking of the scope of work,” S said, “Did I mention the machine lord we lost? The Empire also had more difficulty keeping control of three S rank bosses while players flooded into the Abyss Labyrinth than—”

“The Empire agreed to half. No more, no less,” Enigma said. “Or are you going back on your word?”

“No, just airing a few grievances,” S said. “You can’t say it wasn’t worth a try.”

“Speaking of grievances, the Black Rose guild is not without loss as well,” Elissandra said. “We may have pissed off a certain Revenant faction by using the Empire’s corps of engineers to complete the repairs.”

“You have my condolences,” S said. “We should go ahead and finish this quest.”

“Are there any other questions?” Elissandra asked. No one said anything. “Very well, go and turn in the quest, Alan.”

***

Alan thought there should be more fanfare accompanying the completion of a high ranked quest. Cheering crowds, a display of fireworks. Something. Instead, he was being led around like a helpless puppy by a lot of gruff men in power armor.

The journey back into the Abyss Labyrinth was uneventful. Even though the power was supposed to be back on the place didn’t look much different. There were a few more active defenses, a few less wandering mobs, but that was about it.

It wasn’t until the party reached the first hub area that Alan noticed a sizable change. A strong machine presence reached out and connected to Alan’s mind.

Greetings Traveler, the Warden sent. You have successfully restored power to the Abyss Labyrinth. It’s nice being able to think again. Before I hand out your rewards I wish to deliver a warning. It has been determined by the Authorities that this instance is ready for the next phase.

“Oh shit, that isn’t fucking good,” Void said aloud. Everyone turned to him. “We’re all fucked. Fucked. God damn every damn god and every person who thought completing this quest was a good idea.”

What is happening? Eve sent.

Nothing good, like Void said, Lambda sent.

Do not worry, Traveler, the Warden sent. Your actions did not upset the balance; the coming phase has already been set in motion.

“Wait, that’s what the Empire and the Alliance have been up to? You fools have doomed us all,” Void said.

“Excuse me? I seemed to have missed a conversation,” S said.

“You, me? We’re mortal,” Void said. He turned and jabbed a finger at S. “We die. We live. We win. We lose. The Three are literal gods, and you think you can fight them?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss the Empire’s current or future plans,” S said.

Ah, well, I guess the worst case scenario is another few millennia stuck in the Academy again, Lambda sent.

Can you please explain what’s going on? Alan asked.

Reach level 1000, Lambda sent.

I can help with that, the Warden sent.

A series of messages appeared before Alan:

[Congratulations, you have completed a gamma-ranked quest, Missing Systems. The soulsteel knife lost by the Player Alan will be returned. The Warden has granted the Player Alan access lower levels of the Abyss Labyrinth (max party of five).

x217 Level up!

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

Minor increase in reputation with unknown faction.]

[Having reached level 1000 new information is available to you. You are now allowed to apply for Ascendance. Contact the nearest Administrator to find out more!]

I apologize, Traveler, but the rewards were decreased as you did not independently complete the quest, the Warden sent. Much of the work was done by others; you only brought them together.

Fine. Now tell me what is going on, Lambda, Alan sent.

The Game is just a game, Lambda sent.

Oh not this shit again, Alan thought.

Okay, not just a game, but still a game, Lambda sent. The war that started the Game, the one that happened a long time ago in a place far away, do you remember that story? Well, the Predecessors lost. They lost to the Lords of Life, who were themselves.

Excuse me? Alan sent.

The Predecessors and the Lords of Life were part of an alien civilization that went down two paths, Lambda sent. The Predecessors were the apex of biological evolution, countless generations created the ultimate warriors. The Lords of Life were members of the civilization that chose to develop technology to the furthest extent. They uploaded their consciousness to a series of networks: to computers, to drones, to spaceships, and to factories.

A schism formed between the Predecessors and the Lords of Life, based on the Predecessors underlying belief that the uploaded consciousnesses weren’t really alive, that they were a sick perversion, Lambda continued. But despite all the years of genetic enhancement they were defeated by an unending supply of autonomous drones, and forced into a simulation. That leads into the true purposes of the Game. It is not to maintain peace. The Lords of Life have long since split into many other groups, continuing to develop for countless ages.

“They have Ascended,” Void said.

Right, as far as you’re concerned they’re gods right now, Lambda sent. The Authorities, the Lords of Life that are in charge of running the Game, have full control of the universe you find yourself in. And the boundary of their domain is expanding as fast as technologically possible.

So these guys won this war. Why’d they make the Game? Alan asked.

“The Game is made to find those who are worthy,” Void said.

And to provide entertainment, but yes, to do that too, Lambda sent.

Another test? How does that make any sense? Alan asked.

Not just a test, but a simulation of reality, Lambda sent. Countless civilizations with different modes of thinking and beliefs are preserved, granted access to cutting edge technology. The Lords of Life did not want the Predecessors wiped out from existence; they did not want all sentient life they found to be killed off. At the same time, it was deemed unwise to let living beings go about the universe fucking shit up.  Thus the Game was created.

And any developments made—any new technology—could be used by the controllers of this game, Eve sent.

Yes, exactly. And any updates found in reality could be made in the Game. Central to all this is the goal of Aleph, to reach infinity by any means necessary, Lambda sent. Chaos, entropy, other advanced alien civilizations, these are still problems. The Game is a useful testing ground for tactics, for creating new tech. Without clear goals, sentient beings tend to wither away with apathy. Look at how quickly technology advances during wars. The Game is a constant war, with an abundance of resources to play with. How would you find the Einstein’s of the universe? The Alexander the Great’s? One day you might begin to reach the level the Lords of Life are at. That’s a long, long ways off though. A lot of people are also just bored, and the Game is entertaining.

Wait, so does this change Earth’s current predicament? Alan asked.

No, everything you’ve been told up till now is still true, Lambda sent. In order to prosper, humanity must do well in the Game.

Why would the Authorities give up all these resources to help Earth though? Alan asked.

It is too easy to forget how big the universe is, to stare into that abyss. You only need to focus on the here and now. That’s all the Game will ever ask of you, Lambda sent. There are far fewer solar systems with life—let alone sentient life—than solar systems total. Do you think the Lords of Life care about a few planets, a single yellow dwarf? They have countless fleets of drones harvesting materials and energy throughout the known universe.

Not all technology and research is accessible, Eve sent.

Yes, that is true, Lambda sent. Deadly viruses (both the biological and the software kind), nanotechnology, and the workings of the Game are a few examples of regulated information. The Game’s purpose is not to make everyone the same perfect killing machine, but to possibly develop new ideas. Yes, information is regulated. That should be obvious by now. New enemies found in reality might be introduced in the form of random bosses, or new races. Past so-called ‘patches’ with armies of clones or drones might be introduced or limited to try to spur development in certain fields.

How is artificial intelligence research regulated? Alan asked.

Ah, now that’s an interesting topic, one quite pertinent to us, Lambda sent. I can now give you a better background of types of artificial intelligence. It’s really a broad topic, we’ll need to go into more detail at a later date. The Lords of Life could be considered a form of artificial intelligence, as they are the uploading of biological consciousnesses. But they have since transitioned through so many changes that I’m no longer quite how to classify them.

Myself, the Warden, Cerberus, and Omega would all fall under the category of AIs that were designed to model Predecessor minds, Lambda continued. We should, for all intents and purposes, be equivalent to beginning Lords of Life. But we were found…lacking.

Now, the Administrators and Enforcers are generally pure AIs, with some of the Chief Administrators and Fleet Commanders being players, Lambda sent. Pure AIs are not modeled after a certain type of mind, they are generally just logic machines. Anyways, as far as I was aware no new experiments with AIs were allowedwe were considered too dangerous after what happened with the Erudites. If anything could potentially take over the Network, it would probably be a rampant AI with no sense of morality. This brings us to Eve.

Am I a pure AI? Eve asked.

I’m not sure, Lambda sent. I think your structure is at least partially modeled on a human brain, but this is not the place to have this discussion.

“We’re all friends here,” Void said.

“What the hell are you going on about?” Mason asked. “Have you finally lost your mind?”

“Sorry,” Alan said. “I’ve been having a conversation with my AI, I just reached level 1000.”

“Ah, yeah, that,” Mason said. “Good luck wrapping your head around that shit, I got drunk off my ass when I learned about the whole imminent doom stuff.”

Imminent doom? Alan asked.

This ties back to why Void got so upset, Lambda sent. Remember how I was saying technology advances the fastest in times of war? Well, part of the reason is that people try really hard not to fucking die.

“Yes we do,” Void said.

Well, without a real threat, the Game would eventually stagnate, Lambda sent. The cream would never rise to the top. At least that’s the logic I’ve heard being used. Again, I think the Ascended are generally bored and this helps disrupt their monotony. Anyways, some major event happens, and as a result, many races are eradicated. This time it looks like the Haxlards are going to go to war. The Three are probably Lords of Life that will have the full extent of their abilities unleashed. If the Alliance and the Empire are planning to go up against them they’re screwed.

“And the Black Rose guild is allied to the Empire thanks to this quest,” Void said.

What about Earth? Alan asked. He recalled that the United World Government had declared the Haxlards enemies of the state. If the Haxlards were only fattening up humanity like sheep for the slaughter, he supposed it was the right decision. Fighting a war you couldn’t win was stupid though.

Oh, they were probably wrapped up in the Alliance and Empire’s schemes, but don’t worry, the noob protection will keep Earth safe, Lambda sent. Actually, humanity might come out ahead after this war if every other major species gets nuked out of existence.

You make it sound like defeat is inevitable. Wouldn’t knocking everyone down to square one go against progress? Alan sent.  

No, it just means they were found unworthy. Power and knowledge are earned, the Warden sent. By reaching level 1000 you have proven that you should be allowed to know more about the Game. Major Players can earn some version of Ascendance, they can upload themselves permanently onto the Network and even perhaps gain control over part of it.

“This is also not the only game in town,” Void said. “Though it may be ironic that we were the authors of our own imprisonment.”

Oh, right, the Abyss Labyrinth is probably where all the losers of the last major events were locked up, Lambda sent. I bet the failures in this coming war will be imprisoned here too. And, thanks to you, there won’t be any chance for escape for at least a few thousand years! Oh, I should also mention the possibility of role-players. There are players that have Ascended and are bored, so they play a character in-game. But don’t worry about that for now. Figure out how we’re going to spend our new riches.

A chute opened above Alan’s head, and a soulsteel knife popped out. Alan shut his eyes. There was a lot to think about.

108 comments on “The Abyss 5.12

  1. Ephemerality says:

    I wonder what people think of this chapter. I generally find it unbelievable when against all odds a player finds and completes some major quest without appealing to a larger power. At the same time, I don’t think that I properly conveyed what was happening when Alan turned the quest over to the Black Rose guild (or the hiatus possibly made that part too long ago). Revisions will just incentivize people to buy the next book I suppose.

    Also, some pretty big plot points have been revealed. I wonder if it’s too much too soon. A few reviews seemed to complain that the first book was only an introduction, if only they knew. I really think I may have made the universe a bit too large.

    *Minor spoilers ahead* Character developments (how Alan is going to spend all his money, ability points, etc.) are delayed until next chapter as I decided to drop this info dump instead 😛

    Like

    • Rhean says:

      If I’m being honest, it seems that a lot of the disconnect I’ve been running into seems to be between the individual story of Alan and the larger picture that seems to just get tied into it.

      It could be that the plot is just advancing too quickly in the grand scheme of things that’s halting Alan’s growth arc tbh.

      Thanks for the update!!

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I liked it. I could see what your going for.

      Like

    • Evan says:

      I liked the new information. I thought that was really interesting. I am a bit disappointed by how the quest was completed tbh. It was really cool that he got this epic quest and all of the extra options to the quest. I was really interested in how he would complete it. I also thought it was cool that he realized he couldn’t complete it on his own and sought help from his guild. I was really interested in how he and his guild would work together on this. The first time they went into the labyrinth together was somewhat interesting but then to have the solution to this epic quest be “go sit over there and twiddle your thumbs while the big boys do the actual work and then gain a third of your current levels for doing nothing. The levels that he worked so hard to get so far seem to have been trivialized if he jumps up this fast without any strife or conflict. Honestly, this violates every rule of story telling. At least have him participate in something.

      This felt like reading a book where the main character finds out the big bad guy is trying to destroy the world and instead of fighting and destroying him he hires someone else to do it and goes and eats dinner. Its a logical solution but its not entertaining. I would rather read the story about the character that actually did something. Reading about a guy eating dinner the the crisis solves itself is…boring…disappointing…unfullfilling. Can’t really find the words. Asking for help in a story is fine but this was sad.

      Allen now has no incentive to complete quests on his own. If he’s smart he will sit back and whenever he gets a quest pay someone to complete it and get powerleveled. This has made the game unbalanced and taken away the incentive the protagonist.

      I hope this doesn’t come across as an angry rant. You asked for our opinion on your work. This is mine. If you find it helpful great. If not, I will still read your work. Please never feel like you have to pander.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ephemerality says:

        Thanks for the comment, it doesn’t come across like a rant at all. This was a reaction I was expecting, and I hope to solve some of the issues you presented. At the same time I want to try to get across the message that there are too many things happening in the Game for any one person or faction to do everything. Sure, there are pivotal figures, but Alan isn’t there yet, and that should be upsetting.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        “Allen now has no incentive to complete quests on his own. If he’s smart he will sit back and whenever he gets a quest pay someone to complete it and get powerleveled. This has made the game unbalanced and taken away the incentive the protagonist”

        I don’t think that’s exactly true. Alan was at least partially involved in doing the quest (for the first control point), and it took a major guild alliance to get this done. And the “help” aspect probably only applies to gamma+ quests, not regular quests. If he could somehow have done this himself, probably would’ve gotten 100x as much experience..

        This is not super-different from his first killsteal in the Labyrinth. That wasn’t that fair either, but involved a different sort of effort and risk to accomplish.

        Like

      • vonridel says:

        I think it was clear Alan was not happy about being sidelined. This opens up paths for his departing the guild, conflict with the guild, or a more individualistic approach to working on his quests.

        Alan also made new enemies (including possible allies of the imprisoned inhabitants).

        I think this chapter opens up a whole host of opportunities for the progress of the story. It would have been nice if there was some detailed effort Alan was involved in to complete the Abyss quest, but unless the Abyss becomes central to the story, it was time to move on as it would begin to dominate if more chapters were dedicated to it.

        Keep plugging away on it, Cosimo. I want to see where you take the story and suspect there are far more books in the series than three.

        Scott Reid
        Author of Nova Academy and a fan of The Gam3.

        Like

    • Ok, Seriously. Why can Void hear Alan’s conversation with his AI?! Its wigging me out and I didnt pick up on it the first read through.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        It was explained…. kinda…. previously when he learned about tbe floating mind thing void was the one mentoring him when he did that so we know void can comprehend his mind/data somehow thus being able to see or hear the mental/data exchanges of people around him isnt a far stretch for that ability

        Like

      • Aggro says:

        No. He said he could hear that there was shouting, and got a flavor of what their character was. There was a girl in the group that could hear more. Void is responding like he is a machine Lord

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Why did Void have to be telling the truth earlier?

        Like

    • Jay says:

      “Character developments”

      Yeah, totally need that. I’d be happy with a whole chapter on that 🙂 Especially if there’s advice from the other Major Players on the subject. Clearly some part of that will involve more comp. energy..

      Also, what is he researching in the background now?

      Like

    • JZ99 says:

      After this chapter the world seems really small when it should be incredibly large. Still not sure where Alan is in retaliation to everything. Is lvl 1000 the beginning? are most people level 1000? Why is he special it seems he just randomly lucks in to everything nothing is really keeping me emotionally tied to him. I am really only reading this because the world building is interesting but character development is lacking. The world building is pretty great but again with this last chapter it seems like the world you designed is pretty small.

      Like

      • Eh. I have always thought of Alan as a vehicle for the story. While he is getting less useless by the day( a feat most players arent doing BTW) He is more of a right time right place kind of protagonist. Just wait until it he grows into his power, and his AI arent doing all the heavy lifting. I think that’s the direction the author has been steering him in on this arc.

        I think lvl 1000 is the real starting point of the game. to show that you were committed and worthy of the truth, not just some casual breaking rocks on Mars. I mean, who does that!? As he becomes more machine, I think we will see him become more human. Lambda is playing a big part in his growth IMO. Id like hyper cognition, but id kill to have Lambda in my head.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        Back in book one or so, the Academy system was described as being basically there to power-level people to 1000. So I’d think 1000 is the start of the “Real Game”, for power players.

        Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Just finished reading your two books and found this website. Brilliant work!!!!!!!

      Keep on trucking Yap, you have a real gift!

      Like

  2. oblivious says:

    A lot of stuff has been hinted strongly enough that it isn’t a surprise, but the details are still new information. Like it was obvious after the conversation with the Lord of the Abyss that the Last War was a civil war, but the stuff about a society split in two even before war is new. I was expecting evolution to play a bigger role in the reveal.

    It’s nice to have confirmation that Cerberus is an AI, though I think not having him as a Contact mostly confirmed it already. His role in things is still unclear, though. He imprisoned Lambda, but he’s contained by administrators. He’s a major revenant, but he runs the Academy.

    It’s weird for Omega to be based on a Predecessor brain when he was created by Erudites who shouldn’t have met Predecessor’s yet. A retrofit, maybe? Or maybe the Erudites found some tech in space that their research was based on.

    Eve being based on real-Eve was something I’d considered, but I wasn’t expecting things to go in that direction. This recolors Lambda recommending that Alan ditch Eve in arc 4.

    When the quest updated, I thought it was weird that Void would go along with that outcome. I guess Elissandra didn’t trust him and he didn’t get much say. Seems like Phantom might be a role-player. It’s ironic that Phantom’s paranoia about AI led him here. Or maybe he doesn’t care, as long as he personally ascends.

    When Lambda said he was going to explain the kinds of AI, I though we were finally going to address that Players are obviously digital copies of their original biological entities. Guess we’re not there yet. I’m not going to get too hung up on it, since it isn’t really that different from Star Trek teleportation. Makes you wonder about the nature of ascension, though: do you get freed from your biological tether like a Lord of Life, or do you lose your ability to evolve and effectively get archived?

    IMO Alan should get some upgrade that eliminates the need for sleep. Time being the most valuable resource, and all. Turning in his class quest could get him a big boost, but it might be wise to research whether he could unlock one or more of those skills through some other means. eg It would suck to turn in the quest and unlock Machine Empath, only to later find the skill in some ruin. Either way, Alan retrieved his knife just in time to take an absurd risk by delving into the deeper labyrinth!

    Like

  3. Bart says:

    Ok, still don’t know what’s going on. How did Void figure out what’s happening so fast? If the Warden was willing to give Alan 217 levels, why not another 1000? Could he have? Why not ask for it? Who are these Three?

    Like

    • oblivious says:

      Void can listen in on Alan’s conversations with AI. The XP reward would have been determined by The Game, not by the quest giver. The Three are the leaders of the Haxlards. With regard to your comment above, you’re confusing Void with Enigma.

      Like

      • Bart says:

        Void still responded before people said things. Then how did Alan (presumably) get exactly enough xp to take him to level 1000?

        Like

      • Jay says:

        “Then how did Alan (presumably) get exactly enough xp to take him to level 1000?”

        It’s not exact.. the Warden marked the quest Complete, and Alan got the xp, and crossed 1000. The Warden just happened to know ahead of time what the reward would be and what Alan needed, so he was dramatic about it.

        Like

      • Bart says:

        How would the Warden have known how close Alan was?

        Like

      • The most important question is how is Void in this conversation! Its driving me crazy that no one is really discussing it!

        Like

      • Jay says:

        Maybe the warden didn’t know exactly, and he wasn’t certain Alan would get there, but he certainly knew that a huge quantity of exp would “help with that”

        Like

  4. I liked the info dump. It fits the genre you are crafting. I just wish i knew where this was leading. This reveal wasnt a great surprise to me, because of all the hints in previous books and chapters, but I like what you did with it. I hate hate hate, not exhausting the dialog tree when im playing a game, so id be super pissed that they finished the quest without letting him look into the other options. Im also interrested in seeing how the archivists react.

    So by completting this quest, he completed:
    one quest for his guild out of 3
    Cerberius’ revenant initiation quest
    and his Machine Lord G rank req.

    Did i miss anything?

    Like

    • Jay says:

      Also gets new implant slots. And if he’s mastered a skill (I can’t recall) he can even challenge the tutorial pred. And also maybe head back to see the Tyrant. And buy programs from Cerberus. Lots to do!

      Like

    • MalcolmR says:

      Actually isn’t this quest number 2 for the guild, phantom noted when he turned over the blueprints and the map of the labyrinth that it who’d retroactively be his first quest towards becoming a knight. As of yet no word have been written about the fact that this where not allowed by the consol’s so I at least have worked under the assumption that he already have completed 1/3.

      Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the update. Good info. I feel like this was logical. At first I was not happy with the empire guild deal. Not only was Alen not involved but the empire is trying to enslave earth. But I am back to being happy after getting a better picture of the gam3.

    Like

  6. eaa says:

    Thanks for chapter. He should buy A rank capsul so Lambada, Eve and he will get stonger,smarter. He can’t sold soulsteel knife he will need it to kill Predecessors…

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      He has 2

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        But one is with the administators, and he can’t get it back unless he proves he didn’t steal Lamda. Which he did. So, it’s probably gone unless, like CA170 said, he can provide them with information that’s worth their time.

        Like

  7. mikelols says:

    Love it, keep it up.

    Like

  8. One thing that isnt explained, as far as i can tell, is how Void is having this conversation with “the Alan 3”. I mean he is weird and powerful, but how is he completly in Alan’s head?

    Like

  9. CCaprice says:

    Thanks for the chapter.

    Very exciting information. I like the way the quest got finished too. Exactly what would have happened with a weak person who holds the quest in a strong guild.

    Time for Alan to upgrade his base tech. Like someone said, better capsule so Lambda can decompress a bit, get some computational energy so he has room to move and some mech upgrades. Alan does seem the type for mech upgrades and ascendance.

    Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the chapter. I know we have had a lot of explenations but there is still one thing I am not clear on. I would like to know at some point exactly what help the administrators are giving earth because if there is a set quota and Alen just gave a quarter of earths resources to the empire I am going to have to say this was a terrible deal (like Alen selling the world into slavery). But if they just help all the charecters the same at the start I guess it wouldn’t be as bad.

    Would like some clarification cause it seems like a really important thing.

    Like

    • Ephemerality says:

      Earth is doing their own thing. Alan is a wanted criminal there now…

      Like

    • Aggro says:

      Yeah I’m confused as to how you would think Alan had that authority, and who he said it to

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        This was obviously a question not a statement. The question was about what help the administrators are giving humanity during their three year protection. There are a lot of different ways to look at contracts and while Alen is not a member of the UWG he is from earth and could potentially be part of some kind of formula to figure out how powerful earthlings have gotten.
        I don’t think this is a real issue but without all the details of the contract (which would probably be boring to read) there are probably many ways to doop the new guys on the block.
        Which leads to a little anxiaty about making deals with a group of people who share the same name as Darth Vader’s people. So again valid question but not very entertaining.

        Like

  11. Jay says:

    I kind of liked the suddenness of the quest completion, and Alan’s disconnection. A different view of how things work at higher levels like that.

    “Myself, the Warden, Cerberus, and Omega would all fall under the category of AIs that were designed to model Predecessor minds”

    Okay, first of all, Cerberus?!? I didn’t realize he was an AI. That’s just weird. But Omega? How could he be designed to model a Predecessor when he was Erudite-generated and was added later?

    Suddenly Void can hear conversation details rather than just the murmur..?

    I’ve been assuming all along that the soulsteel knife reward was separate from Alan’s 20%. That’s only fair, since it was really his anyway. Also I think it’s perfectly fair that he gets 10% of the total reward, since that’s 20% of what the guild receives, though he should’ve been told :(. But also I have no idea what the other quest rewards might be, if any. Would be nice to see that here. a thousand platinum marks? And does Alan get 20% of the void crystal value that the guild is getting as income? I assume not even though that too would be fair..

    Good chapter.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      It says in the first part of the academy section that the academy is “controlled by a fiercely independent AI”

      Like

    • Guest says:

      AI like Omega and few others are AI who learn and advance. So maybe them being like predecessor model of minds is because they evolved to that stage, just like Eve is one that learns and evolves.

      Void can hear, but HE said he hears murmur. So maybe like Phantom who said he can watch just his Missions, lied. So Void is also lying that he can just hear a little. Many characters are lying.

      Icewolf schemed, but was over schemed by CA170, who was over schemed (or together with[I’m not so sure]) Omega. And maybe there is a Lord of Life behind everything (killing or saving Evelyn and making her a program that he downloaded.) Just so he can have a new god on his side. But this is just too much theorizing.

      Like

  12. oblivious says:

    Hopefully Alan can make the case that his reward was retrieval of the knife, rather than the knife itself. I’m also unclear on whether he continues to get 20% of a void crystal every year on an ongoing basis. But if the Empire is doing something stupid before they recoup their costs, maybe it would be smart to take the lump sum.

    I was looking over Ability Point earned/spent. Looks like as of the end of book two, Alan had spent in the ballpark of 3900 points out of 4100 earned (counting points converted to C, but not counting points earned through Gifted). I think he should have earned about 900 more so far in arc 5 (again, not counting Gifted), plus he could probably convert some Marks.

    Surprisingly as of the end of book 2, his single largest source of Ability Points was still his tutorial reward (1500). He converted 1200 from Marks, and levels were only the third largest source (~1000).

    In hindsight, Quick Learner and Thrifty stand out for being really expensive. Each was twice as expensive as unlocking a talent tree. Thrifty (which reduces Ability Point costs by 5%) in particular doesn’t pay itself off until you spend the equivalent of 10,000 points AFTER buying the skill. Alan didn’t pick it up until he’d spent ~3500 points. It’s not feasible to get 10k points through leveling, leading to the ironic situation where it only pays to be Thrifty if you’re rich (and can convert lots of diamond Marks). Even then you’d probably need to be ~level 2000 and be extremely wealthy for the skill to even pay for itself, making it a trap for almost anyone but Revenants. No wonder Eve advised against buying it until they found out about C!

    Like

  13. Jay says:

    Hmm so Alan can also now get his Machine Lord class reward, finish his revenant initiation I think, and even confront the Predecessor from the tutorial pretty soon now (though he really should wait)

    Like

  14. OD says:

    Can Alan be a Lord of Life role-playing as a human in a new race recently introduced to the Game? Maybe the human Alan is a former player that is replaying the game with new memories and a new body (Lord of Life must have the tecnology to create new bodies/life).

    The two Lord of Life that he connected to didn’t appear to be hostile to him, and he (to me at least) appear to have liked and maybe understood the infinity concept, but didnt have the processing power. And one has given him a power that change the game itself, maybe after discovering what Alan is.

    Like

  15. Anonymous says:

    So is Eve gonna be the rampant AI with no morality that destroys the Universe? Or at least the game?

    Like

  16. Ant says:

    I liked the chapter but think it could be smoothed out a bit… More importantly though – if the archivists were asking for 50% of the rewards and that is what the Empire got from the deal why did the Black Rose guild go with the Empire? Also this was Alan’s quest to join the Revenants… Which brings up 2 questions, why would Cerberus get Alan to do it and since Alan did complete the quest where is his notification from the Renenants?

    Like

    • MalcolmR says:

      But din’t he fail the revenent quest?
      [We’re Fine. Everything is Fine Here:

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

      Rewards: Full Revenant Membership, ???

      Failure: ???]

      The en result was that the authority desiccated to go ahead with there plans that is for me the opposite for doing nothing. So if I read this correctly his guild just failed him a major quest. And I have a feeling they are going to make the soulsteel knife his 10% of the rewards. Let’s see, this can become interesting, it’s a valid direction to go, but I am interested in seeing how he handles it.

      Like

      • oblivious says:

        I read it the same way you did at first, but I don’t think Alan provoked attention from the authorities. I think Charles is just informing Alan of something that was going on anyway. Alan’s actions just helped tie the guild to the empire, and made sure that the losers of the next big war would die in prison. In fact, if you review the conversation Alan had with Cerberus, Cerberus specifically wanted the facility to be repaired.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        That looks like a successful quest. It didn’t say anything about using Omega’s help or other Revenant help.. just that he needed to solve it so the Authorities didn’t need to come in directly and take action. Condition met. That the Authorities were going to kill everyone in the universe is a separate thing, as the Warden notes 🙂

        Like

  17. john doesnt says:

    I am confused if Alan’s soulsteel knife is a quest reward and therefore only 10% goes to Alan? I mean.. it was stated to be worth Billions (plural) which means Alan would receive at least 200 million credits… enough to buy all the diamond marks he needs to super power-leveled as well as buy all the equipment to make even a level 1000 jealous. Honestly it would be enough for Alan to retire away from Black Rose guild (pay his way out) and live comfortably… not that that would happen.

    Like

  18. RandomCommenter says:

    This chapter exacerbated what was already the biggest weakness of the story, which is the lack of agency on the part of Alan. There are way, way too many places where he just asks his AI what he should do, then follows their instructions until his problems go away, or where his AI magically gives him a skill by doing all the work for him. This is terrible storytelling, because it makes your protagonist a spectator in their own story.

    It’s a shame, because the world is interesting, and the plot is engaging, but the way you’ve made the protagonist fit in holds it back in many places. The story is great when Alan is going off doing things of his own initiative. Like the way his actions influenced the tutorial, or the way he decided to go dungeon diving in the Abyss on a whim (yea actually his AI suggested that and he just said ok, but if we ignore that detail for a moment, it was great), and this whole questline resulted from it.

    Now you just took this huge quest that he stumbled across which has the potential to have big impacts on the game, and not only did he not complete it himself, but he didn’t even make the fucking decision about which side to choose….. WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!

    While I’m ranting, the other weakness of the story is the random training montages. It’s fine to go train sometimes, but when all the action stops just so he can sit with his AI and develop random skills which are just another set of numbers, it bogs the story down needlessly. You’d be better served to have him develop notable skills from quests and plot points, and just sweep the more generic stuff that he gets from self-training under the rug and mention it briefly when needed.

    All this rant aside, I have been enjoying the story, but the last couple of chapters have abandoned all the good parts and emphasized all the bad ones, so it’s pretty frustrating…

    Like

    • Jay says:

      I’m hopeful that that’s actually a theme of the book. There are a number of times when various people (including Lambda, actually) are telling him to rely less on the AI help and do things himself. It’s an area where he should grow.

      Like

    • halycon says:

      I’ve said this somewhere else, but I actually don’t see Alan as the protagonist. He’s the view point character into a story, but the story isn’t actually about him. Unlike most all litrpgs this one seems to have a big enough world that the world can be the story. There’s random interesting stuff everywhere, and most of it doesn’t seem to be there for any particular reason that’s relevant to Alan. It is relevant to us readers if what we’re looking for is the story the game tells though.

      When I’m done with this book and add it to the pile of the thousands I’ve already read it’s not going to be Alan I remember, it’ll be the game world. It’s by far the most interesting thing going for it. What this story did, and most fail at, is make me actually believe it’s a real world that doesn’t just revolve around an plot armored protagonist. There’s stuff going on off the page, a lot of which we’ll likely never see and are talked about just enough to give us an idea that there are entire types of play and activities with it’s own backstabbing and plotting.

      I’m more invested in seeing what new thing happens with the game than I am with Alan, Alan will never be as interesting as the world he’s inhabiting. Alan is just the window into it as he passes through to me.

      Like

  19. Anonymous says:

    If the Black Rose guild has the schematics for the Uber energy production system (which they needed to repair it), can Alan get a copy and upload so he can make one in his citadel. It wouldn’t increase total energy he had, but the rate of recovery would go up massively

    Like

  20. Alan is life. Alan is love. says:

    Would be really interesting if Alan managed to get a female companion.Maybe through some sort of quest? One that is playful and can become batshit insane when it comes about money or power. Would love to see her as a card user, able to summon monsters from beyond.

    That being said, being a reader I really wish to see his character grow. Mostly on his social department. And please, I want Alan to have a giant cat as his pet!

    That would make him stressful…. I think.

    Like

  21. Eduardo says:

    I like this chapter and the realistic approach that Alan just started in this game and can`t really solve everything alone.

    Like

  22. Anonymous says:

    Where are you

    Like

  23. Ephemerality says:

    Looks like I’m not going to be able to get the chapter out tonight, at this point as I’ve already missed two Friday deadlines, which I know is bad. I’m probably going to make some sort of scheduling change, not sure what. I’m a bit under the weather and the recent heat wave hasn’t helped, but that slippery slope of continuing to delay things is what caused the last hiatus and I don’t want that type of thing to happen again.

    Like

  24. Christopher Phan says:

    I love this story and was wondering why MC doesn’t add more to his arsenal? I mean if he added land mines, grenades, grenade launchers, shotguns, etc. wouldn’t his kit become more versatile, maybe A-Rank worthy especially since you can swap ammo type for those weapons.

    Like

  25. Anonymous says:

    At least we got a comment on being late instead of just ignoring it. There just seems to be so many excuses. Every time I read author’s comments I cringe a little. It’s a good thing he is an author doing his own publishing. If he was in an actual workplace he wouldn’t last a week.

    As to the story, it is a fun an engaging universe and quite unique in litrpg. The first and second books were engaging, entertaining, and thought provoking. This last book is a giant mess. The pacing is all over the place and as others have said takes Alan out of the story. If he isn’t the protagonist, it shouldn’t have been written that way in the first two books. Expectations have been set.

    Like

  26. aaa says:

    Great to have u back baby ;DD best is back, And it’s truly great that you want and are the best in the world, and write the best LitRpg, just woried about jumping from grunt stuff of lvling killing and acquiring more stuff to some sort of godly, divine philosophical discussions about big picture stuff

    Like

  27. Bob Jr says:

    Just a heads up that 5.11 and 5.12 are not up on your table of contents…. How’s the next chapter release looking?? Seems like the chapter a week has always been a bit difficult for you… Was thinking it may be a better program for you to release chapters every 10 days instead of 7.

    Like

  28. Anonymous says:

    While I’ve been waiting for new chapters, I’ve been reading some other litRPG books and I’ve gotta say, The Gam3 is by far the best series I’ve read. I get how some people criticize Allen for not being very independent, but that’s actually what I love most about this series. It feels much more realistic this way; I hate stories where the main character disregards advice from knowledgeable sources and somehow succeeds anyway through dumb luck.

    Also, I’m all in favor of Ephemerality copying CGP Grey’s schedule; never give any indication of when the next chapter/book will be out, and just release them when they’re good enough.

    Like

  29. Marcus says:

    Thanks for the update

    Like

  30. marcus says:

    liked this chapter but 3 things stand out
    1 the quest is alans he asked his guild for help but they never confirmed with him being the owner of the quest who he wanted to do the “repair work” so to speak there for his quest rewards go to him and the guild as to his agreement the guild legally cant say you get less with out any consulting about payment change and why prior to contract signing therefor the admin will step in saying this is a 3rd party contract alans has only the original contract signed between him and the BLG.

    2 the second they see the word soul-steel they would start making plans to steal the metal as soon as they revived the quest ( i would not be surprised to read about a six man assassins squad from the empire and another squad from S personally. that being said what would take for other players from hearing a new race has some soul-steel and helping or making it worse.)

    3 the girl that he met on the trip to academy never said she agreed with her mother se was standoffish like she was doing but because her mother was saying she has to not because she wants to ( possible lover interest stands out to me but shes standoffish cause he never said what side he was on and she did not make it sound she was LOM.)

    Like

  31. 1illinois says:

    You’ve called this an info dump. so it sounds like you think what you’ve written is important to the story. So what are you missing to turn this into a mini story or story enrichment? More reaction from Alan? How he feels about the the way this quest went down?. A desire for growth? Alan knowing the reward was worth the compromise? A reminder that he can still save earth? Perhaps a feeling of betrayal? Redefining the players? Traditions that would explain why it went down this way?

    David weber is an author that does info dumps really well. One other tricks he uses is make the info dump into almost a ministory for a side character or new character. He also uses it to explain the history behind some of the reasons enemies or allies do things. Giving the reader another window into the universes workings. You can experiment with the voice or voices of the story this way and change things up.

    Thanks for the chapter.

    Like

  32. LITRP_Lov3r says:

    Where is the next chapter?

    Like

  33. Chance says:

    Let’s all make sure to vote for this story guys http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=the-gam3

    Like

  34. Anonymous says:

    I think it is very strange that they made a deal with the empire instead of the aliance considering the black rose guild owners live in the same house. I’m not saying it’s too weird but considering these role players and the way s was getting close to that princess, if I was Alen I would be seriously worried about the empire infiltrating the aliance through hacking.
    I hope lambda made sure no one could decipher where alens loot missions are when he stored the info on the black rose guild systems.
    This might not be an issue at all but by leaving Alen out of the negotiation loop we really have no idea about a lot of info so we have no idea what bad things might happen or even what things could be potential issues.

    Like

  35. random says:

    I actually like how the quest was completed, it made sense. While Alan definitely has to level/train quite a bit, maybe you could make it a bit more interesting like the training with ceberus.

    Like

  36. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone else think Alen might still be in Prometheus’s place in cyberspace undergoing some kind of test. Phantom is not a clean person the guild started treating him different and lambda suddenly has different stuff to teach him. Not to mention the story seems to have a different feel than I remember. Of course it is probably just in my head.

    Like

    • Jay says:

      “Does anyone else think Alen might still be in Prometheus’s place in cyberspace undergoing some kind of test.”

      No, not really.

      The test is a month of grinding skills?

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Did you forget about how time moves differently in the game and Prometheus is a God like creature. You’re argument sucks but you’re probably still right.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        Your thinking was that sure, he’s in a test, at Inception Level 4, where he sits and grinds his armor skills for a month while watching a doorway, and then he finishes his quest and learns all sorts of secret game information (which would have to be a complete lie, because we already know that level 800 Alan can’t be told the real information about the Lords of Life). Which is all imaginary. But *my* argument is the problem.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes you’re argument sucks. You have never met the dude and yet you think you know his mind. If it was a test it could have been anything from wanting to see how he spent his money, if he had patience, if he liked Alen, if he thought Alen was capable, or the more likely checking for tells that might let him know if Alen was some kind of spy or some other threat. So yes the above statement is true. You’re argument still sucks. But like I said you’re still probably right.

        Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m pretty sure lambda said he could tell him more stuff in cyberspace than in the game. But not that this is a real thing any how but why would it have to be a test he might just do it for shits and giggles.

      Like

  37. Anonymous says:

    Spend the money on computational energy a space ship and maybe some cool machine Lord personal combat stuff. Wait a second that’s a lot of money. Get the machine Lord combat equipment at one of lambda’s forgotten battle fields and not only save c but get better stuff.
    (Plus we need some more killing, not this nesasarilly but some form of robbery and killing would be great).

    Like

  38. Clearscreen says:

    Ok so i kist finished book 1 and 2 again and caught up with the story here for book 3…. there is a couple holes to fox from book 2 to book 3 but this will propably be done when it gets edited…. ss knove that the administrator took away as one example…

    Hope you get better soon as i am enjoying the story and would love to see the next chapter…

    Like

    • Bart says:

      “ss knove that the administrator took away as one example”
      What?

      Like

      • Jay says:

        “Ok so I just finished book 1 and 2 again and caught up with the story here for book 3. There are a couple of plot holes to fix from book 2 to book 3, but this will probably be done when it gets edited. One example is the fate of the soulsteel knife in the vault, which was locked up by the administrator.”

        (Although that all seems to make sense now to me, with the retcon on the Chief Admin locking it up)

        Like

      • Clearscreen says:

        Thanx jay. I was typing on cell and didnt see my error.

        Like

  39. Anonymous says:

    Where are you?

    Like

  40. jaba says:

    Back to the salt mines!!! 3rd book lol ;DD

    Like

  41. WierdDream says:

    Just bought the books on amazon and read all the chaps on Royal road. Can’t wait for the next chap.

    Thank you for the story. It has been a beautiful ride so far, and hope Alan gets smarter, starts understands the gravity of the situation and just stop giving information to people. (Like with Icewolf in the station[although I am comforting myself that the things he said to Icewolf just got translated into “[You do not have the requirements]”. And that the big “What?” was just his reaction to that.) Also stops trusting people. Maybe Aurora was just trying to make a connection or give him some sense to control him in the future, just like Arthur gives of that feeling to people that Lambda says its probably a skill.

    I reread the Rogue and Icewolf is using the second category for the rogue ” They may just as easily be the center of attention, charming and deceiving those around them. Answering to no one but themselves, rogues often follow the highest bidder. They usually rob the highest bidder as well. ”

    I wish Alan starts to act like he cares, but is actually just making plans. Maybe gets a hang of his though ability to read what others think and make schemes to make the most profit or gain from it.

    Like

  42. Ephemerality says:

    I’m feeling better now, next chapter is halfway done, should be posted tomorrow.

    Like

    • WierdDream says:

      High expectations. Also what is Alan good at without his AI-s? Sorry for asking, but I just don’t see anything there then good sync with AI. He tried knives and his guns but nothing else while he had no help from the AI-s. It just seems like the main character is just good at being ordered around by his AI. If it will be revealed in the future then no answer is needed, but if I missed it please tell me.

      Like

    • random says:

      Glad you are feeling better and hyped for the chapter. Also I very much appreciate your updates on how the work on the chapter is going.

      Like

  43. Brooks says:

    Didn’t Alan lose 50 comp energy from blood withdraw? So wouldn’t he get that back when he took more predecessor blood? Bringing him up to 800 comp energy?

    Like

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