Manapocalypse

by

rykov00

Chapter 38 - Logging Data

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A note from rykov00

Please take a look at last week's poll if you haven't already. Chances are, I'll work around to getting all those stories completed, but they will be inbetween regular chapters so it will take some time for them to be done. I'll add them into the story in places as appropriate, so there may be some rejiggering involved in the chapter order.

 

Thanks to everyone for the recent Ratings and Reviews! Feedback, as always, is appreciated.

 

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Schedule: Release schedule is Mondays and Thursdays. Bonus chapters on major milestones

Mistakes: If you find a mistake, please let me know in the comments so I can correct it, thank you for helping make this as solid a work as possible.

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Enjoy the story!

Mark was super pumped. They kicked those thugs butts’. Well, Liz and his dad did, but Mark totally would have done something cool if they tried anything else. Mark thought about what he would have done and looked over his ever growing list of abilities.

Abilities

Level

Technomancy

1

Mana Manipulation

5

Chi

6

- Infused Strike

5

- Falling Step

3

- Explosive Charm

3

- Severing Blade

3

- Yo Yo

2

Meditation

2

Stealth

3

- Mist escape

2

- Mist Clone

3

There were a lot of options and he was certain one of those things definitely would have been cool. Probably the Mist Clone. That would have freaked them out and then he would have Falling Step thrown them somewhere. Maybe he should work on trying to get that made into an actual ability. He sighed in frustration. So much to do and not enough time.

Mark hadn’t really focused on trying to get lots of new abilities in the past few days. He’d probably could have gotten something if not for the fact that he was trying to get his throwing accuracy up. That missed shot on the giant Beak Bear was haunting him, and he never wanted to be in a position where his lack of aim caused someone to get hurt or killed. A few days and the system really helped improve his skill and after he gained a point he decided it was time to move on.

Dodging around and throwing things was cool and all, but sometimes a man needed to take a stand. And Mark was a man. I mean, really, legally, in the middle ages he’d be an adult, and the apocalypse was basically the middle ages, so it probably counted. Regardless, his strongest attack was his Severing Blade but he never got a chance to use it because all the stupid monsters were filled with teeth and claws. If he had a way to protect himself up close he could do a ton more damage to things, and then Liz wouldn’t have to be the one solely responsible for knocking holes in all the giant monsters they faced.

Mark sat and in his meditation he felt for the aura he had noticed. Since so many of his abilities seemed to depend on him shoving his awareness into different things he figured he could do the same for the space around himself. He noticed this seemed thicker when he was meditating so he might as well go for it. Mark felt like it was a lot harder to get new abilities now, and it seemed consistent with other people in camp who had multiple abilities. The more you had, the harder it was to get new ones. Mark wondered if the mysterious advancement points would eventually help with that. He was still annoyed he couldn’t click those.

Meditation, right. Mark took several cleansing breaths and focused on the space just beyond his skin. He was sucking everything he could from magic based mana cores and pumping it directly into the air around him. He swore that the air kept on feeling denser and denser but something just wasn’t clicking. Every day it felt stronger, but it still wasn’t working the way he wanted it to.

He thought back to where he was first struck with the idea, literally. When the golden apes had thrown that stone, Mark felt it’s presence a fraction of a second before it hit him and he knew that somehow he had slowed down the rock. He was pretty sure that was the only reason he was still alive. Mark tried to grasp that feeling again.

“Arrggghhh! I just can’t get it!” Mark looked around and saw Mike walking towards the newly formed bunker with some logs. Mark didn’t know Mike very well, and actually didn’t think he’d heard him say anything yet now that he thought about it, but he had an idea.

“Mike! Please, can you help me a sec?”

Mike glanced down to the bundle of wood he was carrying in a meaningful way.

“Yeah, I know you’re helping stock the bunker with firewood, but I need some help.”

A curious look came across Mike’s face.

“I need you to throw things at me. Preferably my head.”

An eyebrow was raised.

“Yeah, I know, but seriously, maybe even hit me in the head a few times with your baseball bat.” Mark nodded to himself. That should do it.

Although Mike wasn’t saying anything, it was clear he was saying that Mark was crazy.

“I’m trying to figure something out, just please help?”

Mike stopped and put down most of the logs in the bundle he was carrying. He picked one up and gave Mark the ‘are you sure about this’ look.

“Yeah. Ok, give me a sec to try and solidify this aura then go to town.”

Mark focused on the already thick layer of energy around him and closed his eyes.

“Ready when you are! OW! That hurt!” The log that smacked him in the forehead bounced off with a decent amount of force.

Mike raised his hands and shook them. What the heck did Mark expect?

“Ok, wait, try again, this time I’ll be more ready. Probably. Go for it.”

Mark heard the sound of someone slapping their palm into their forehead.

“Hey, no need to be rude about it. I’m ready by the by. Logs away!”

This time Mark formed an image in his head. He pictured the still thickening aura as a wall that nothing could penetrate.

“Ow! Blarg! Dammit that stings!” Mark rubbed his nose. The image clearly didn’t work. Mark could not figure out why this wasn’t working. What the heck was so different about the rock.

Mike held up one finger indicating that this was Mark’s last chance. While somewhat amusing, he really didn’t have time to stand around and throw logs at someone’s head.

“Ok. For reals. I need to you chuck the log faster. I think it needs to be more dangerous for this to work. And don’t look at me like that of course I’m sure.”

Mike just rubbed his temples.

“Let me prep one last time, and then go to town. Remember, whale that thing at me.”

Mark pushed his awareness out as much as he could as he entered the powerful meditative state his ability allowed. This time, he pictured his aura was a living thing that would react to danger. And logs. He pictured his aura would definitely stop those. For a split second he sensed something incoming. It was moving fast and before his mind could process his aura condensed around the point of impact and the log bounced off of his new shield.

Core Notification

Ability Gained - Meditation : Shielding Aura

“Wohoo! It works! It works! Thanks Mike! You’re the best! You chuck logs better than anyone else!”

Mark hi-fived the less than enthusiastic Mike who went to gather up with logs and continued on with his chores.

The successful obstacle course run combined with his new protective abilities gave Mark confidence that he would be ready for the infiltration. He would also totally be able to stand up to bigger monsters and use his other cool abilities. Maybe he should test it out on something other than logs first though, because if he developed an aura that only provided protection from logs he was going to be pissed. A solution to the problem presented itself almost as soon as he had the thought.

“Oh! Hey Liz! I need you to shoot me with arrows for a sec! Please?”

“Sure! This day rocks!”

*********

As fun as it may have sounded, Liz wasn’t going to shoot Mark unless there were some precautions taken. This included informing her parents before shooting Mark. She did not want to be part of of the conversation that started with “Why does your brother have an arrow sticking through his hand.”

After a bit of wrangling and tracking people down, Mom was present with healing potions ready and Mark had his hand extended. The experiment was to have increasing levels of force applied on the pull until they found the point where Mark’s shield would fail. Liz had to admit she was pretty interested to see what her crazy brother had pulled off this time. As she prepared her shot she thought about her own progress over the past few days.

Abilities

Level

Technomancy

1

Mana Manipulation

2

Archery Arts

5

- Power Shot

4

- Pathing Shot

5

- Mana Arrow

3

- Elemental Arrow

2

Animal Taming

5

- Eyes of the beast

4

She grinned at her list as Mark got ready. Her leveled up Magic Arrow cost a fraction compared to when she first started and it combined beautifully with her newly discovered elemental arrows. Fed up with things being able to outrun her, she spent the past two days fixated finding a way to slow things down. Animal taming provided the answer, and by studying the effects of her pets natural abilities she had figured out how to apply those powers to her arrows. It all came together recently and she could now shoot arrows infused with ice that would stop most things in their tracks. It didn’t appear to use moisture from the air either, which was convenient considering how dry Colorado was. The only downside was that after a few seconds the ice would just vanish. Still, that was more than enough time to get some distance or a Power Shot off.

If only she had been able to get animal riding figured out. A few attempts on Moonlight without the aid of an Ability let her know magical wolf riding was not something normal people could do. The speed and power that a magical creature had was way more than she could handle. A saddle might make it possible, but the lack of anyone with saddlery skills made that a moot point.

“Ready when you are sis!” Mark interrupted her reverie holding his hand out.

“First test, one pound draw.” Mom stated calmly as Liz held her bow pretty much right up to Mark’s hand. One pound probably wouldn’t pierce someone wearing a pair of gloves but Mom had insisted at starting at the very beginning. A soft thud later and Mark frowned.

“That was boring. Let’s go to ten!”

“Second test, five pound draw.” Mom droned.

“Comon Mom! Just let Liz shoot me with an arrow already!”

Mom’s reply was a withering glare.

“Or we can test a little bit at a time, but hurry up Liz. This is boring and I can totally take more.” He grinned maniacally.

“Here we go, five pound draw.” Liz took a few steps back since her arrow would actually travel some distance this time. With a soft clink it bounced off Mark’s hand.

“Not a scratch! See!”

“Third test, ten pound draw.” Mom continued to ignore Mark as she jotted down her observations.

Liz was using purely wooden arrows at the moment. They had points but mom insisted on using the basics before branching out into anything with more penetration power. Even so, a ten pound draw generated some decent speed. That would absolutely go through someone’s hand if it was unprotected. Liz involuntarily winced as the arrow thunked into Mark’s hand.

“Hah! Nada! Totally fine! Bring it on!”

“Fourth test, fifteen pound draw.” Mom’s monotone was a stark contrast to Mark’s exclamations of joy. Liz was torn between trying to be calm and giggling at the absurdity of shooting arrows at Mark. Sure, she dreamed of doing this from time to time, but she never really planned on shooting him full of arrows. Regardless, in for a penny, in for pound, or fifteen pounds as the case may be.

The arrow actually shattered as it hit Mark’s hand.

“Hmm, I actually felt that one. Also, I think that actually did some damage to my armor.” He held his hand up to his face. “Yeah, there’s totally a scratch on the aura. That’s so weird. Let me reset it. Okay, good to go again. Let’s do this!”

The next fifteen minutes were oddly cathartic for Liz. The tried shooting him in various different body parts and at varying strengths. They even tested out Mana Arrows and her new elemental shots. It was pretty funny seeing him encased in Ice. It dissipated before it was able to do give him frostbite but apparently he felt the cold. The end results showed that Mark basically had a protective shell that could block anything short of a full strength draw from Liz, and even then it would barely scratch him. Mark had wanted to try out the Power Shots but Mom put a stop to that pretty quickly. We had already measured the damage those things could do, and regardless of Mark’s wishful thinking, it was way more than his shield could handle.

“But still, this is so cool, I totally have magic armor!”

“Mark, I love you, but this is not an excuse to try and get in front of things that may harm you. I’m relieved you have some more protection but you still need to be careful out there.” Mom tried to rein him in.

Mark was about to say something but then stopped. He looked oddly pensive. At least, it that pensive look seemed odd to Liz. He really didn’t look that way very often so it was a strange face to see on him.

“Yeah. You’re right. But we don’t really have any tanks yet. I’m totally more melee and mid range DPS now. Some util and support thrown in too. At most I’d be an off-tank. I’ll be careful.”

“I have no idea what you just said, but I think we’re on the same page.” Mom smiled.

“Now, both of you get some food and get to bed. Tomorrow should be a big day. I know how hard you’ve been working on your obstacle course. I’m looking forward to seeing if you can get that damned paper from your dad tomorrow.”

“Mom? Really? I’d think you wouldn’t be that into this.”

“Normally, probably not. I don’t like the thought of you putting yourself at risk but observing you both these past few days has been nothing short of amazing. Haley is at the end of her rope and I think hearing news about how George is doing would do a world of good for her. I can’t believe your dad isn’t getting more updates from the sheriff, especially since he still insists on being the only one who can talk to him. It will be good to get more information for everyone’s sake. Also, if it means he stops being so damn smug about how super perceptive he is, you both have my blessing. I swear, if he brags about that one more night...”

“Don’t worry Mom, I think we’ll be able to help you out there then.” Liz smiled. Tomorrow they would get the paper, infiltrate the school, and figure out what was going on.

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rykov00

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rykov00 @rykov00 ago

OMG I cannot get the table width properties to save. I keep trying to set it but it ignores me. Anyone know how to get that resolved?

TruestMerp @TruestMerp ago

yay thx for the chapter

Bulwark @Bulwark ago

Thanks for the story it's been a great read Very Happy

Just started yesterday and I'm all caught up. I've been enjoying the direction you've taken the story, in that it's not focused on an OP MC looking to find and take down the big bad behind the 'system' but more focused on a (very strange yet extraordinary) family coming together to try and not only survive but thrive in this strange enviornment they find themselves in whilst also helping others and building up a 'new world' community. 

Personally I like the pace. I think thats partly because I read all the story up to date at once but also because I expect a slightly more slice of life feel to this story when compared to others in the same genre.

Problems I've had are 1st: dialogue. I've found myself thrown out of the flow of the story at times when dialogue is either a little stilted or worse, completely out of place due to either the character or just not sounding like natural speech (ie. too formal or too detailed), however this has shown up less often as the story progressed.

2nd: I personally didn't like the direction you've taken crafting. This material manipulation ability everyone pulls out is boring imo. It's just too easy and takes away from a lot of the fun I've gotten from crafting in stories like these and also meant that building up the town happened far too quickly and easily which drained any enjoyment or satisfaction I may have had in it also.

My last issue isn't really a problem. I just noticed myself getting annoyed when reading too many Mark POV chapters in a row :L he's a funny guy with an interesting perpective but... well, small doses are better than continued exposure haha.

Hopefully that's constructive. Overall it's been a great read and things have progressed logically which isn't as common as you might wish in online fiction. And you can see how our main characters aren't perfect narrators with things going on they either don't notice or make wrong/different assumptions. The characters themselves are well fleshed out and aren't static though perhaps other characters should be a bit more involved and fleshed out rather than seeming like extras, of course the town expanded pretty rapidly and I understand it can be hard to find the balance between character development and plot development.  I see this all as a sign of a good writer.

Looking forward to more chapters Very Happy Thanks for sharing.

    rykov00
    Author

    rykov00 @rykov00 ago

    Thanks for the feedback! Nice to have someone take the time, and honsetly, if you just copy pasted that into a basic review would probably help others in finding the story too.

    I definitely feel I have been getting much better at perspective writing as we've gone along the path, and a few aspects of the system were fleshed out late, so there is a lot of room to improve. I appreciate the townbuilding feedback is feeling like a bit of a cheat considering how difficult many other aspects have been and I will definitely consider revisiting how that is all building out.

    Mark can definitely be a handful, we have some bonus chapters and other fleshing out content that can probably help limit the doses there. I think the strain of his energy is useful ultimately for the story and hopefully you'll enjoy the payoff at the end.

    Thanks again for the criticism. It's nice to get detailed observations.