The Empire 6.10

The moment the dropship left Khersath’s atmosphere, the presence was there. It was as undeniable as bright sunlight drilling into Alan’s retinas. And his eyes were now more sensitive than most.

A living god. One of the Three. A behemoth that single-handedly swallowed up fleets and came out stronger when the battle was done. The Weaver.

It turned out they had met before. The Weaver had been part of the AI interaction examination. An entire galaxy, wrapped up inside a single construct. It had pierced through and examined Alan’s brain in an instant, reorganizing it and granting him computational energy, in addition to the data interaction ability.

All of Alan’s plans began to unravel. If this was the entity he needed to bypass, to fool, he would never have a chance. This signal was so strong, so powerful that it drowned everything else out. There was only one option.

Alan connected to the Weaver. The Weaver accepted the connection. Alan could feel that the connection was but one of millions. Billions.

I pledge myself to you, a loyal follower until I die, Alan sent. He tried to activate mental partitioning, but it was no use.

Starship sized planets tore apart his brain, scanned it, and then put it all back together. It took a moment for Alan to realize that it had occurred in Cyberspace, not the Game. Less than a millisecond had passed. He was still sitting in the Haxlard shuttle.

I’ll pass, the Weaver sent.

Wait, you aren’t going to kill me, delete me from existence? Alan asked.

To what end? Why do you think I granted you abilities in the first place, if not to use them? Your alert and subsequent actions have been increasingly helpful. I am only repaying my debt once more.

Alan breathed a sigh of relief. Can you convince Pharaoh to hand over his ship without a fight then? I think he’ll listen to you.

People think they can wield chaos. Luck, chance, random happenstance. Each event is independent. And that makes it wonderful. That toss of the dice, the moment of anticipation before the last card is turned. I live for those points in time. I applaud your gamble, but I will neither aid you nor harm you. That is my final gift.

How about a quest, then? Alan asked.

A quest? Now? A rumble of laughter sounded in Alan’s head, echoing on and on for an eternity. I forget the boldness of true mortals. Perhaps I turned your service away too soon. Perhaps in another life. A quest then, worthy of a god. Good luck, Traveler.

The Weaver ended the connection. It was still there, its signal broadcasting everywhere, but it was quieter in Alan’s mind. Like someone had turned the volume knob down halfway.

Two messages appeared, including a new quest:

[An End to an Empire:

 

Assassinate the Emperor. Strike a blow that will bring the Empire to its knees.

 

Option: Contact the Emperor, turn and destroy the Weaver instead. End the Haxlard Empire.

Penalty: ???

Reward: A path to greater power. Additional information on the Weaver’s class: God Machine.

Time Limit: Until the end of the Haxlard Crusade.

Threat Level: Beta]

[To unlock the quest to progress to the Machine Emperor class, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Become a major player.
  2. Install an A rank Machine Lord implant.
  3. Reach level 6000.
  4. Unlock the following abilities: Machine Overlord, Machine Empath, Machine Commander, and Machine Champion.
  5. Earn trusted reputation with either the Administrators or the Revenants.]

Alan took a few moments to reassess his options. Think over the Weaver’s words. He walked over and knocked on the door to the dropship cockpit.

“Pharaoh? A small change in plans, we need to stop at the main Administrative Center on Khersath first,” Alan said.

“What? We agreed—”

“I just interfaced with the Weaver and received a quest,” Alan said. “Would you ever doubt the Three?”

There was a pause. “No, blessed be the Three. Hang on, it may take us a moment to calculate a safe route. There are still many active combat zones, and while the Administrators are not directly opposed to us, we are not allies either.”

***

They made it to the old Haxlard embassy safely. Another coin flip in Alan’s favor. The building was now nothing more than a ruin. The Administrators were still keeping the airspace directly above the Administrative Center clear, shooting anything down that dared to enter it.

Alan took it in his stride, disembarking from the dropship and running to the Administrative Center, advanced stealth active. Khersath was no longer a safe zone.

The plaza that had once teemed with life was empty. Administrative guards still patrolled, still lined the edges of the massive pyramid at the center of the market plaza, but it was no longer filled with life, with activity. Instead everyone seemed on edge, weapons gripped tight, constantly scanning the surroundings.

Technically, players could hide out in the Administrative Center. It only cost 100 platinum marks a day or you needed to pledge yourself to the Administrators. It was funny, how everything seemed to work out so much easier in the Game once you pledged yourself to a cause. Almost as if that was one of the points to it all.

Still invisible, Alan connected to an Administrator.

Tell Chief Administrator 170 I have information worth the return of my items. I want to meet somewhere I can still maintain my Machine Lord implant. This is the player Alan.

Please reveal yourself, the Administrator sent.

Once the meeting is confirmed, Alan sent.

Chief Administrator 170 has agreed. You will be given 30 seconds once the meeting begins.

Alan deactivated his stealth. Surprised guards turned and trained their guns. One fired. The spectral abilities of Alan’s power armor absorbed the laser blast.

The guard was hauled off by a superior, apologizing to Alan.

Alan followed the Administrator into a familiar elevator. He rode it up and was let off in an empty room with a single capsule in the center of the room.

Converting the 10 platinum marks into 1000 ability points, Alan upgraded the ability Counterfeit from basic to advanced for 1100 points and then put the few remaining ability points into stats.

[Counterfeit (Advanced):

You are able to manipulate large messages, quest text, and details that you share with other players, such as your username, level, race, and reputations. You are also able to hide multiple small items or one medium size items from detection.

Note: Counterfeit (Advanced) will not stand up to the equivalent level of detection abilities and devices.]

He reviewed his status.

Alan was now level 1561. His intelligence, agility, and perception were now above 500. Strength, willpower, and endurance were around 300. Charisma and Luck were about 200. It seemed he’d earned a number of status points passively, but had been ignoring the single digit updates.

The majority of Alan’s abilities stagnated; he hadn’t had time to train while in a state of constant vigilance. He couldn’t afford to waste computational energy either when a fight could break out at any moment. The abilities that Alan used the most involved his railgun and power armor, but those abilities had been purchased. As a result, they didn’t grow.

 

Chief Administrator 170 entered the room on a hover board, mechanical appendages gripping the sides. “I told you to lie low. Explain to me why a monkey is throwing shit where it doesn’t belong.”

“I’ve never been very good at taking orders,” Alan said. “I have evidence that at least one of the Three are hacking the Game itself, granting players the ability to manipulate data.”

“An investigation will need to be launched. Those caught will be—“

“I know, and I don’t care,” Alan said. “I will give you evidence, direct from a player’s memory, on the condition that it is only used when the Haxlard Crusade is complete. Didn’t you say your experiment would be considered a success if I completed a beta rank quest or higher? Well, I just got one that I think I can handle.”

“That’s a big if. There is no reasonable way within the Game’s rules you could succeed in a beta ranked quest so soon. It will hardly be in my best interest if it’s discovered that the reason you have succeeded is hacking the Game itself,” Chief Administrator 170 said. “No, the best course of action is to—“

“I hope you ensure that the information is not leaked,” Alan said, “because I am moving forward with or without your consent.”

The Chief Administrator stopped. He ran a hand behind his head. Poked and prodded a few scars on the flesh-half of his face. “Do you know why I wear these scars, these augments? I thought I was a hero, a champion of my people. There are no heroes, no villains in the Game. Only sentient beings fighting for survival.”

“I am special, my species is better than yours. My faction, my world, everything must be mine. These are traps players fall into again and again. I wonder what a peaceful balance would look like, instead of one brought about by the destruction of everything until only one group is left standing. And even if your people manage to evolve, to thrive in the millennia to come, a balance must be made. The scale tips both ways.”

“I know I’m no hero, but that doesn’t mean I never dreamed of becoming one,” Alan said quietly. “But if the choice is to fight monsters and in doing so become one, or to give up, I’ll choose to become a monster.”

Chief Administrator 170 stared into Alan’s eyes. “I can see when my advice is no longer wanted. Congratulations, Alan. You have become a true player of the Game.”

A message appeared:

[Reputation with the Administrators has been reset to Neutral.]

The Chief Administrator continued, “I cannot return your items for information I cannot open at this time and an accusation I may not be able to act on.”

“What about a different trade? I have an organic Predecessor sample.”

“No, I am not authorized to—“

“What about the return of the stolen AI then, no questions asked,” Alan said.

Too risky, Lambda sent.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars. I always loved that saying, Alan replied.

It is highly inaccurate, Doppel sent.

That’s the whole point. It’s a long shot, but I’m taking it. The shot could end up lost in space, in fact it probably won’t even reach escape velocity. But given the information I have, given the choices available, I’m still taking it, Alan sent.

The Chief Administrator paused, at a loss for words for the first time in a very long while. “That, that I can do. But you will forfeit all other rewards if you want no questions asked, no investigation into how you came to posses the AI. What is your play here, Alan?”

“I’m putting everything on the line this time, all-or-nothing.” Alan smiled. “Really makes my heart race, thinking about it.”

“Do we have an agreement then?” Alan asked.

“We do. Upload the AI onto the Administrator network.”

Goodbye Lambda, Alan sent, I promise to follow through.

See you on the other side, Lambda replied.

A message appeared:  [Give up control of the AI Lambda? All data stored within the AI will be transferred over. Your capsule will regain 10% of its storage capacity.]

Alan selected yes. Like Eve, Lambda disappeared from his Machine Lord implant. It was a much more peaceful transition. The banks of data drained quickly, and he lost the hypertranslation ability.

Chief Administrator 170 opened a screen, and then frowned. “Where’s the rest of him?”

“The rest of who?” Alan asked.

“Lambda. Almost all their data is missing. Translation requires a wide depth of knowledge,” the Chief Administrator said.

Alan placed a data cube on the capsule in front of him. “That wasn’t the deal. But if you can remove a warning, maybe prevent a player from getting banned…I might be able to fill a few more of these up with the data you want.”

“Discipline is not within my purview. I can make no promises.”

Alan sighed. “Put in a good word for me if a case does ever come up. Keep the data cube, but promise not to access it until the Haxlard Crusade is over.”

“Very well,” the Chief Administrator said. He took the cube and left the room, leaving behind three items: a soulsteel knife, a void crystal, and a bottle of Predecessor blood.

Alan took the items, activating his newly upgraded Counterfeit (Advanced) ability to hide all three. He looked over the soulsteel knife’s item details again:

[Soulsteel Knife (Rank S):

 

A knife of soulsteel. Able to cut through virtually any material, this weapon should be handled with the utmost care. The item has been forcefully bound to the traveler Alan through blood. Only a powerful Predecessor is able to remove the bond.

 

Damage: Bypasses nearly all defenses. Whatever is cut is destroyed. Additional abilities.

Approx. Infinite Durability. Predecessor Blood, Strong Soulsteel Bond, Knife Fighting (Master), Enhanced Control (Advanced), Enhanced Movements (Advanced), Knife Mastery (Advanced) required.

Requires Predecessor blood essence to manifest, current supply: 100/100 units, 5 units consumed/min active. 1 unit/1.4 years regen.

Pure Predecessor Blood, Absolute Soulsteel Bond, Enhanced Control (Master), Enhanced Movements (Master), Knife Mastery (Master) recommended.]

Alan made a slight detour before returning to the Haxlard shuttle, depositing a few items in one of the safe houses Lambda had set up.

***

Alan appeared out of thin air, inches from Pharaoh.

Pharaoh turned. “Where have you been? We have been waiting here for almost three hours.”

Alan activated hypercognition, and attacked Pharaoh. Pharaoh leaned back in an attempt to dodge the blow, but Alan followed his movements. The soulsteel knife cut through the power armor and Pharaoh’s head dropped to the floor.

Two messages appeared:

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

[x23 Level up!]

The rest of the Haxlards on the shuttle were wiped out. The crimson blades made short work of them, and only required energy. The soulsteel knife required Predecessor blood essence to recharge, and Alan only had one vial of blood.

Alan scanned the aircraft, making sure no one else was aboard.

Humming to himself, Alan set the shuttle to auto-pilot itself back to the Titan. He had hacked the shuttle’s systems before he had revealed himself, making sure to gather the necessary security details to get him aboard the Titan.

Sitting back in the pilots chair Alan closed his eyes and took a short nap. Betrayal was exhausting.

***

Taking over the Titan was a straightforward process. Alan already knew the layout of the Titan, he had been a passenger twice before. The dropship, as Pharaoh’s personal aircraft, was allowed into the hangar bay.

Guards opened the doors, only to find the ship empty. Advanced stealth mode active, Alan crept by them and headed straight for the bridge, where the command center lay.

The two Haxlards in pitch-black armor with blood-red faceplates that guarded the central room proved no use against a seriously overpowered weapon.

Alan opened up the hidden room where the Titan’s servers lay, and begin to hack into the systems. The reason for the lack of any organized defense or alarm was soon made clear. The ship had been left with a skeleton crew, the vast majority of Haxlards on Khersath slaying infidels. In addition, the ship’s AI was now unresponsive. It was unable to do anything with its owner, Pharaoh, dead.

With Lambda’s absence grinding away at the shields in Cyberspace took much longer. While the hack took place, Alan stalked the Titan’s corridors, systematically slaughtering the crew.

With his cybernetic vision Alan could easily identify any isolated targets and enemies of interest. He took care of the odd Crimson Guard and grey-masked assassin, but most of the crew were grunts, worth little experience. Alan almost wished there were more Haxlards aboard the ship for him to harvest.

When half the crew, around 75 Haxlards, had been killed, people were finally starting to figure out something was wrong. It was probably all the dead bodies in one of the bathrooms. But by then it was too late.

Alan had control of most of the ship’s systems, his hack successful. He locked the crew out of key areas, such as the engine room and communications systems, and cut through the rest. The basic laser pistols the majority of the crew carried did almost no damage, often even letting Alan regain some energy.

Morale quickly shifted from anger to panic, as the crew still left alive, lower level grunts with poor weapons, tried to escape through the shuttle bay.

Alan left them access to one shuttle, watching through the ship’s cameras as the last 30 members crammed into the shuttle and took off.

Alan trained the Titan’s weapon systems on the shuttle and fired a missile. It exploded. A perverse sense of satisfaction and glee tore through Alan. He tried to suppress the feeling.

Messages appeared:

[x97 Level up!]

[No bonus ability points due to the ease of the battle.]

[+4300 Survival points]

A nearby ship, the Bastion, opened a communications channel with the Titan.

The Titan’s data banks had a history of messages that Alan drew upon to make his own seem authentic. The Bastion was informed that the blown up shuttle had contained players that had attempted to take over the Titan. The Titan had only sustained minor damage, and required no aid. Once the quest from the Weaver was shared, edited with Counterfeit to look more like an official order, it ended any questions. Direct orders from the Three were paramount.

Alan sent a few encrypted messages down to the Black Rose base, letting them know of his accomplishment.

***

“I’m sorry I ever doubted you, your work is most impressive. The Titan should have had a crew of at least a hundred,” S said. He stood around the Titan’s command table, a 3D map of stars projected above it.

“Most systems are going to need to be disabled if we’re going to fly this ship anywhere,” Enigma said.

Alan nodded. It had taken him almost ten minutes to re-arm the single missile he’d fired. Most of that time had been spent walking to where the missile launcher was on the ship.

“Wait, why are we not bringing any of the members of the Black Rose guild aboard the Titan? A few of them could help crew the ship,” Alan said.

“I don’t trust anyone not properly vetted,” S said. “They were sent into the Abyss Labyrinth, told to attempt to find and aid the initial raid group. For now, we only need the four of us, with one person keeping a careful eye on Aurora at all times.”

Phantom was with Aurora now, in the ship’s medical bay.

Alan said, “I want to prove my worth to the Empire.”

“You have already proven yourself more than capable, I will endorse your advancement to full citizen myself,” S said.

“I want to be more than a citizen. I read in files I was provided that political guests, diplomats and the like, were hosted in the Imperial Palace before the Extinction Event began,” Alan said. “A gesture of goodwill for the Empire’s potential allies, I saw a few names of interest. Kitana, Daisy, and Ace. I believe since I have already betrayed the Black Rose guild, I could convince the three of them that I have returned with Earth’s best interests at heart and speed up my homeworld’s entrance into the Empire.”

“A good idea, but you forget our initial mission,” S said. “I’ve already sent out a few feelers, to see if we can locate a nearby source of void crystals. It seems unlikely, but four fighters will hardly make a difference in the Empire’s defense.”

“Even with a spaceship?” Alan asked.

Enigma spoke up. “The Weaver worries me, in addition to the rest of the Haxlard fleet. The sooner we leave this region the better.”

S frowned. “The Empire faces the Smith, and a squad of them are said to be the equivalent to a Predecessor. They are fewer in number than the Weaver’s drones, but I don’t see how we could do much to help.”

“I’ve already defeated two Predecessors. What are a few Haxlards?” Alan asked. He unsheathed his soulsteel knife, the blade emerging from his arm into his hand.

S stared at the knife, and then turned to Enigma. “Where did this guy come from? We need to recruit the rest of his homeworld straightaway. Set course for the capital. I think the Emperor will want to meet you in person.”

“I can hardly wait,” Alan said.

84 comments on “The Empire 6.10

  1. Ephemerality says:

    Not much left, thanks for the comments! A few are surprising, I thought what’s happening would’ve been obvious by now 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Geckos_Rule says:

    2 chapters in one day? A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gun Nar says:

    Maybe you should try to write something that is at least somewhat logical and makes sense?

    I don’t know but I feel the “new chapters” are somewhat… unhinged?

    Like

    • Ephemerality says:

      I’ve rethought the ending/these chapters a few times, so I definitely need to go back and add more foreshadowing.

      Like

      • That might be for the best. I like what you are going for here in terms of pacing with all the rapid-fire betrayal, but I feel like it wasn’t fully scaffolded.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Also like I said consider this to be a rough draft where adding shit into the published books isn’t an issue. It just gives people more reason to read the finished product

        Like

    • Altar says:

      unhinged? Maybe. But we should view these as more of a rough draft for the book. Thoughts and opinions of the readers can make the final product epic.

      Like

    • TDM says:

      -1
      He is finally being proactive again. Seems like he is playing both sides, as previously discussed. Once he gets the kill switch out of his head, if he want’s to follow up his mega-quest, he can just kill the Emperor… at that point, his promise to the Empire is pretty much unimportant anyway. The Empire is pretty much screwing Earth frontward and backward, so…

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I feel like it represents his loss from Eve and his shift of ideals accurately, plus I’ve always loved a darker mindset

      Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    Excellent!

    Like

  5. Rick says:

    Awesome! Sad to see Lamda go…

    Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    This has been awesome! Loved every min of it so far! Looking forward to the rest! I just hope it doesn’t end on this arc!

    Like

  7. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with the posts of the “unhinged” nature, like others have said this should be a rough draft, get your ideas out and a story written then take some time off to polish, edit and rework for the book

    Like

  8. Sir says:

    Wow this chapter had a lot of things happening in quick succession. But it seems weird that S would be able to let him meet the Emperor.

    I’m guessing that his plan now is to detonate his void crystal when he meets the Emperor, validating his quest (although he’ll die too and won’t respawn until the end of the crusade).

    I have to go back and refresh my memory on what exactly the deal was with the chief admin and the beta quest. The payout would have to be worth such a big gamble.

    Like

    • sllious says:

      Or kill the emperor with the soul steel knife and then detonate the void crystal.

      Like

    • To complete weaver’s quest he also has to somehow reach level 6000, right? Or is Machine Emperor something related but not necessary for the “god machine” class? I think all of it has to be completed before the end of the Extinction event, so I have no idea how all that will work. There should still be a cap on the number of levels able to be gained in one go too… Allen, I hope you’ve got a real plan!

      Like

  9. User31 says:

    This was awesome, really liking the faster pace even if others say not quite as polished. This kind of chaotic action is what drew me into the story into the first place. Really looking forward to seeing how it all plays out!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Anonymous says:

    Very exiting. I am used to more Gore and would not be against more but the events still have me exited for more.

    Like

  11. Muffin says:

    Was the Lambda thing foreshadowed? It felt like an unemotional transaction from both sides.

    Like

  12. Cody. says:

    What an interesting and nice fast paced chapter left open to interesting and many possibilities, of what and who will be kill next lol. (Gotta kill them All.)

    Like

  13. oblivious says:

    Okay, that’s not how I expected Alan to loose himself from Phantom’s leverage.
    I’m guessing Alan plans to buy Lambda with Survival Points.
    I was expecting that Alan would be able to use Hypertranslation to insta-train Counterfeit. I guess it’s more about permissions than skill, though.
    Lambda told us in Arc 4 “never lie to an Ultihaxlard.” I guess that means Alan doesn’t need to do anything to convince Pharaoh that something is true, as long as it’s actually true.
    I like all these plot points, but it feels like things kind of turned too quickly and went too fast.

    So after half a dozen characters warning Alan to avoid the attention of the gods, and how this is especially important for him in particular, Alan meets a god:
    God: Hey man, hows it going? Haven’t seen you in a while.
    Alan: um… you’re not going to delete me?
    God: lol, naw man, why would I do that? You’re good people.

    I can only imagine Alan’s meeting with the Emperor:
    Alan: Oh, so you’re a Machine Emperor? Do you want to know how to become a God MAchine?
    Emperor: omg, YES!
    Alan: great! Just let me assassinate you real quick, and I’ll tell you afterwards
    Emperor: *bears neck*

    I’m not even complaining, that meeting with Weaver was great. My only complaint would be that immediately after saying he doesn’t rely on luck anymore, Alan falls back on luck. Alan obviously didn’t kill Sidestep thinking his long-term goal would be to kill the Emperor. I think it might help to show Alan using Hypercognition to update his plans with each new event, or something.

    So if all of this works out, Alan should have a clean slate wrt Lambda and Data Interaction. That would just leave him with Eve and Omega hanging over him.

    Like

  14. nizen says:

    I thought that you redacted the fact that Alan put the Soul Steel knife in storage, that the Warden confiscated it and gave it as a quest reward when the Abyss Labyrinthine came back online. When Void left the Guild he bought the Soul Steel knife.

    Like

    • oblivious says:

      There were two knives. In the first released draft one was lost, but people complained and Cosimo added the stuff about Charles recovering it. The other knife was always in storage.

      Like

  15. CCaprice says:

    Thanks for the chapter. I love seeing a plan work out.

    Like

  16. Tosk says:

    I just want to say how exciting it is to have so many chapters dropping so quickly. Thank you for your hard work.

    Like

  17. A Buffalo says:

    I’m conflicted…

    The chapter itself was awesome and I like seeing how Alan is playing one against the other and I really like where this is going. By the end of this gambit pileup, Alan would significantly change the status quo of the game. Depending on the condition the Emperor puts for an audience, Blacksmith might die at Alan’s hands before he assassinates the Emperor and then gets Weaver deleted after that. Taking out the Emperor and two out of the Three would boost the Alliance massively.

    On the other hand, I do think Alan is not thinking things too far ahead. Serial betraying would make it far more tougher in future as no one would trust him enough to ally with him.

    Other stray thoughts/questions-

    Wonder how killing the Emperor would actually work. I mean, he would just respawn after a while so I wonder what effects it would actually have on the Empire.

    Hope he can find a genius invertor soon or else his awesome armor would soon go useless without Phantom.

    Rewards for killing the Emperor seem a bit underwhelming. Just info on Weaver’s class? Especially when Weaver might get deleted? Hope he gets more.

    Hope Alan gets Lambda back, legally this time. That way he doesn’t need to keep looking over his shoulder. Though the Academy might get pissed though.

    Like

  18. Jay says:

    Wtf , Lambda gone??

    Like

  19. Malcolm says:

    ‘Starship sized planets tore apart his brain’ – > ‘Planet sized starships tore apart his brain

    That was some small planets that tore his mind apart.

    I like the direction, the story need some rework in order to prevent the reader from getting viplash. Some note they do not remember S this is mostley beacuse of thr year break as I think he was there at the end off laast part. Hm might have to put an reminder there if there are none.

    If the story goes abaout where I think you are headed this can be great!

    Like

  20. Anonymous says:

    OK, reading the comments and really surprised people didn’t even mention to my noticing at least the most important parts of the last chapter… Lamba leaving was at least partly by his plan, I mean Lamba would have had to tell Alan what to leave in the safety deposit box for him, to use, and how and when?

    He’s not going to be stuck there in the administrators for long, if he does not have a way out into Cyberspace and hacking shortly to help Alan I will be shocked!

    And just a possibility, What if when Alan meets the Emperor, he asks for a Quest to take down one of the Three?

    You know he already has plans to do so, or at least plans to blackmail one of the Three…
    Meet the Emperor and get a quest to do that … Then kill him … Then do the quest of the guy he just killed … And that may end the Event … Meaning a HUGE survival bonus on top of the quests he just did, although admittedly the quest that the emperor would give him is not needed, Just a possibility, theorycrafting stories is fun, but kind of pointless if you try and predict, especially with this author, I LOVE the twists and turns, As long as they make sense, at least at the time, or in the long run, or explained why someone did what they did, not just doing things for the sake of doing things, If you know what I mean!

    Like

    • Jay says:

      I can’t even start to formulate a way Alan could so much as scratch The Weaver, so I’m going to guess that his plan involves the Emperor.

      So let’s see.. in the space of an hour or two, Alan double-crossed Sidestep to gain Pharaoh’s trust, offered his allegiance to Pharoah’s boss, unsuccessfully, so he killed Pharoah to get the Empire’s trust, and presumably he now intends to use that to kill the Emperor, double-crossing Phantom and the Black Rose guild.

      Along the way, he sent Lambda back into captivity (hopefully with some sort of plan we’ve never heard about) and admitted to the Administrators that he has an ability that can get him perma-killed (and which undermines the Admin’s main reason for keeping Alan around, namely his experiment, which is already off the rails because it centered on having Eve use a super-fast clock speed, which Alan no longer has access to).

      Things certainly seem to have accelerated.

      Like

      • Jay says:

        (oh, right, he also is telling on the Weaver to get him banned by the Admins)

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        He has a Void Crystal, and I suspect Nukes are on board the ship, taken from the Vault, Remember the Anti Matter explosion discussion?

        ^^^ Same guy posting that first posted BTW 😛 lol

        Like

      • Muffin says:

        The Black Rose is infiltrated by, and not part of the empire.

        I’m still worried about his implant replacement after he crosses Phantom.

        Also even if he’s forgiven, the fact that he can edit the game makes him a liability. Why wouldn’t the administrators terminate him?

        Like

      • Jay says:

        “He has a Void Crystal, and I suspect Nukes are on board the ship, taken from the Vault, Remember the Anti Matter explosion discussion?”

        Yeah, I re-read the previous chapter and just came back here to post that, but you beat me to it :). I don’t know how he’d get close enough to the Weaver, but maybe the Emperor.. (except he’s fighting WITH the Empire, so he’s not getting any points for that assassination/sacrifice.. just getting the completed B-rank quest).

        I’d guess he Deletes a bit of the shell of the crystal and boom!

        Like

  21. Ivan Johnson says:

    >Alan took it in his stride, disembarking from the dropship and running to the Administrative Center, advanced stealth active. Khersath was no longer a safe zone.

    Pretty sure that “took it in his stride” should be “took it in stride”

    Like

  22. Anonymous says:

    Does the Weaver know Alan is planning on snitching on the Weaver? I mean Weaver did pretty much mind-rape Alan (if somewhat gently). Given how Alan pledged his servitude after Weaver broke mental partitioning, I’m guessing the Weaver knows and is cool with it because he just loved to troll.

    Either that or Alan only decided to snitch on the Weaver after he spoke to him. At any rate, I’m loving this new fast-paced story and fast-paced update schedule. Even if I am terrified of having to face withdrawal symptoms once the updates become less rapid-fire.

    Damn me and my gam3 addiction!

    Like

  23. Михалыч says:

    The Gam3 of Thrones. Hell, I like it.

    Like

  24. oblivious says:

    Phantom knows that Alan picked up a charged Void Crystal at some point, and unless Alan has hacked his occular implant, Phantom knows Alan just retrieved that charged crystal.

    Let’s try to disentangle Alan’s plots, given what he knew at each stage:
    1) Alan gave Phantom incriminating information and agreed to betray the guild to the Empire. We don’t know what Alan was planning when he did this, but let’s call it ‘Plan 1.’ It may have just been to faithfully serve the Empire until an opportunity arose.
    2) Alan received a bunch of information about the Empire and Earth. He also learned about anti-matter bombs, which clued him in on why he has an S+ potential Combat Rank. The reader doesn’t know what Alan realized, but it would apparently require ‘one choice, one moment of sacrifice.’
    At this point, Alan is probably still just tweaking Plan 1.
    3) Alan requested a nuke with his current information.
    4) Alan began an effort hijack a Haxlard ship to evacuate at least some people/things from the guild base. Whatever Alan’s plan was at this point, it required him to deceive Weaver.
    5) Alan met Weaver and immediately decided his plans were futile and authentically offered his service, which was refused. Alan learns that Weaver is cheating and collects proof. Alan requests a quest from Weaver, probably just for the sake of deceiving Haxlards. Weaver gives Alan a beta ranked quest which Alan thinks he might actually be able to pull off.
    6) Alan is now forming a plan to turn in Weaver in exchange for immunity. Call this ‘Plan 2.’ Alan is also forming a plan to complete Weaver’s quest. Call this ‘Plan 3.’ Alan could probably complete Plan 2 immediately with low risk, but that would invalidate Plan 3. He decides to delay Plan 2 until after the Event.
    7) Alan trades in Lambda to gain access to a charged Void Crystal and Soulsteel knife. This is probably in preparation for Plan 3.
    8) Lambda was already partitioned in preparation for this, although it seems like this is a deviation of Alan’s original plan (Lambda says it’s ‘too risky’). Probably the timing is off. Alan prepares some of Lambda’s memories to be revealed to the Administrators after the Event is over. Alan puts something in a safe house that Lambda knew about. This is probably for Plan 2.
    9) Alan indicates that he believes he will see Lambda again (‘I promise I’ll go through with it’ and ‘see you on the other side’). Let’s call this ‘Plan 4.’

    We don’t know what Plan 1 was, or if it’s even still valid. It could have been saving the Guild, serving the Empire, Fooling Phantom, beating the Haxlards, getting information to help Earth, whatever.
    Plans 2 and 3 are based entirely on new information from this chapter, and have sort of stolen the show (giving the appearance that things have turned rapidly). This is turning in Weaver and completing Weaver’s quest.
    Plan 4 could have been in the works for a long time, but its details are clearly in flux.

    Plan 3 is an immense risk. At a minimum, Alan is risking most of his substantial net worth. He could also be risking the successful completion of Plan 2, which risks his deletion. It’s possible that this is also a play to free Earth.
    I feel like for this to be satisfying, Plan 1 still has to be hanging out there doing something. Otherwise we jumped from there to here without connection.

    Like

    • oblivious says:

      I guess Plan 1 could have just been about opening up possibilities. For example, hijacking a ship opens up a lot of possibilities even if you had no specific plans about who or what you would pick up. Having Aurora on hand could be useful for a number of reasons that you haven’t committed to yet. From this perspective, getting a quest from Weaver would probably be considered part of Plan 1.

      Like

    • Jay says:

      I assume Plan 3 (and why he’s “S+”) is that he can break open a void crystal. I’d think a soulsteel knife could do that, but then anyone could manage it and he wouldn’t be special (remember Alan bought soulsteel needles for cash). Maybe he has to delete the shell with Data Interaction.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      He could have turned himself in for cheating but is leaving the final judgement up to the administrator. the Chief Admin may choose not to prosecute Alan after he pulls off assassinating the emperor and maybe destroying the weaver. He may choose to blackmail Alan for the video and also to regain Lambda, or he may have Alan join the Admin faction as an enforcer or something. (the Admin will already know of his cheat and will have made their decision already, thereby making Phantoms blackmail useless)

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Your theory leaves out the Forgery upgrade, what did he counterfeit? The evidence with the Administrators or Phantoms feed? Think on it.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        he could simply use the forgery skill to hide the predecessor blood and void crystal before he is ready to use them.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        Since his Counterfeit (advanced) skill won’t hold up against Detect Forgery (advanced), I’m pretty sure he’s not going to fool any Major Players, let alone a Chief Administrator…

        Like

  25. qaz says:

    I’m very glad to see the continuation of this great story. It’s definitely one of the most interesting stories I’ve read.

    Recent chapter(s) pack really nice action but do feel somewhat rushed. More inner thoughts and plans/plan changes would be appreciated.

    A few minor mistakes too. (Like, who is “Empeooror” in prev chapter?)

    Like

  26. Corwin Amber says:

    Thank you for the chapters. My only question(s) are: when can we all expect book 3 to be available for kindle? And how many books is the series expected to be? 🙂

    Like

  27. epicfail11105 says:

    The table of contents needs to be updated

    Like

  28. I know the info is uploaded to a public server, but I bet if Allen kills phantom his “cheating” won’t be revealed until after the extinction event. I bet he’s already covered himself for after the event with the whole “weaver is hacking players minds so they can hack the game.”

    Like

  29. Dan says:

    So if the Weaver’s class type is God Machine, and it likely has all of the Machine Lord skills as prerequisite skills, what does anyone think are the class types and potential prerequisite skills of the Blacksmith and the Shepherd?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Jaba says:

    Hey, any possibility to perhaps see a new chptr soon? 🙂

    Like

  31. oblivious says:

    Point of clarification: when we hear about the ‘Alliance’ in books 2 and 3, is it the same as the ‘Republic’ from book 1? A subset of the Republic? I don’t think we’ve ever heard where the Republic is, spatially.

    So Earth is at the intersection of Empire, Haxlard, and Independent (Guilds) space. IIRC Kersath is in Independent space, near the border with the Haxlards. It takes a month to travel between Earth and Kersath.
    So it should take at least a month to travel from Kersath to the Empire’s capital planet, and probably require them to travel fairly close to Earth.
    If for whatever reason Alan wanted to travel to the Emperor and then turn around and fly back to Weaver, Weaver would probably be done with Kersath after that length of time.
    If Weaver wanted to stay close to Haxlard space (or conquer the territory closest to home first), then Alan and Weaver might meet up again fairly close to Earth.

    Like

  32. Jay says:

    Just re-reading earlier chapters a bit..

    “Tired of the infidelity and treachery practiced by the Empire, Alliance, and others, the Three have declared that all except the Administrators must convert or face death. All worlds not under Haxlard control will face successive waves of increasingly dangerous zealots until every player has surrendered or fallen.

    Any survivor of the Haxlard Crusade (a player not killed or converted) will receive Major Player status, an immediate 1000 level boost, access to unique abilities, and fifty million platinum marks.”

    So.. what exactly is the end condition of the Event? It can’t be literally l”until every player has surrendered or fallen”, because (a) then nobody could get the Major Player prize, and (b) one guy hiding in a deep hole on some outback world could extend the event indefinitely.

    And then, at the end of the event, the bottom 10% are deleted. That’s NOTHING like what was being foreshadowed by the conversation with The Warden and Void. Why would Void panic if 90% of the people in the game are going to come back just fine? The 10% getting deleted are the normal citizens killed by The Three before they could do anything. They have 0 points. Void was in no serious danger, and quitting the guild in a panic makes little sense to me. Quitting strategically, maybe, sure, but not in a panic.

    Like

    • Jay says:

      (and nobody’s getting stuck in prison for a millennium either.. that wasn’t part of the event after all)

      Like

    • oblivious says:

      To be fair, it seems like there are a variety of Major Events and Void didn’t know which would occur. This could explain why, for example, Void thought the losers could wind up in the Abyss Labyrinth.
      Void also wants to avoid any attention from the Authorities, and we heard that they would be paying closer attention to the event. That could explain his hurried exit.
      It could be that the 10% are fairly random (tending towards people closest tot he Haxlard border), and the question is who can afford to revive those people. Let’s say there are 300 planets. Elites on the first 30 planets the Three attack are in more danger of deletion than Plebs further away. I doubt 10% of Players have been killed yet – Weaver is still on their first planet.

      Like

    • Ivan Johnson says:

      I think that the event won’t end until the Haxlards stop sending out “successive waves of increasingly dangerous zealots”. Maybe they stop because they’ve already conquered every single planet, or for maybe because Alan throws the empire into disarray by killing the emporer.

      And yea, 10% deletion does sound pretty mild. Then again, the leaders of The Black Rose empire were apparently wiped out before any of them even got on the leaderboard.

      Like

      • oblivious says:

        In addition to the 10% deletion, it’s unclear what the rules are regarding infrastructure being returned to a pre-war state. It’s possible governments will have their entire fleets wiped out, for example.

        But even just looking at the deletion, that’s a pretty big deal. Remember 170 talking about his people being ‘virtually extinct’ in arc 1? That could happen to dozens of planets. At least one empire is likely to fall (or decline massively) as a result. (especially if the deletions were concentrated in one political institution, maybe because their leader was assassinated). Stagnant institutions that were coasting on the status quo are unlikely to recover – which is probably the point.

        Meanwhile new empires could be fueled by the carcasses of the old. Groups with a lot of survival points would have a big advantage in gorging themselves. Imagine if, for example, the Alliance was the only group with enough survival points to maintain a fleet and intact economy. They’d thrive with easy prey and post-war reconstruction.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        I feel like, from the expectations that were set, it would be like 50% deletion or more. I mean, this event could go years (!), and yet I suspect everyone who’s still alive now (on the first day, even) is in the top 90%.

        Like

  33. dan.p says:

    “a miniature counter that increased at a rate of about one per second. There were his survival points.”

    Blowing up a ship full of Haxlards is worth 4300 survival points. If you get a point/second you will get that much just by surviving for 70 minutes. Either the counter needs to be changed or the points for blowing up the ship need to be changed.

    Like

    • Ephemerality says:

      The counter was changed, sorry I haven’t been going back and changing recent chapters instead of focusing on writing. No longer sure I can get the last chapter out tonight, but the next post should be the conclusion of this book since I don’t want to post a big cliffhanger.

      Like

  34. Anonymous says:

    holy shit, these last couple entries reminded me of why I loved this story in the first place. it got my heart pounding with excitement. I can’t wait for the next part

    Like

  35. Jaba says:

    Jaba is not amused. No cpts thats not optimal.

    Like

  36. Cody. says:

    So much for Friday release of wed before that sigh looks like author again up to old tricks wear says going release and day comes and no release or changes date and when new date comes around still no release sigh. This author grrr….

    Like

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