It was six in the morning, and just like yesterday, Robert Mathers clambered out of his bed. His muscles ached. They ached a lot.
Thankfully, It wasn't as bad as it was yesterday, but still, the pain was only tolerable when Robert remembered how understanding and kind Chris, the Mine Foreman, had been to him the past two days.
Both on Robert's first day of service and yesterday, he had been forced to stop at only an hour and a half of mining and spend the rest of the time on the jewel and mineral refinement even though he had agreed to do three hours of each.
It was simply too much of a change in the man's lifestyle and his weak body couldn't handle the mining as much as Chris had hoped it would have been able to, so he afforded Robert some leniency.
"Haaa," Robert exhaled deeply and looked at himself in the mirror as he brushed his teeth. It was at that moment that he noticed something... odd. "Have I lost a little bit of weight?"
The ex-mayor was never an overweight man, no, but he did have some extra meat on the shelves, that was for sure. It was strange. He was skinny almost everywhere except for his face and stomach, now though, Robert felt like his cheeks had slimmed down a tiny ounce.
"Maybe it's from the mining? But I've only done that for three hours total, and I definitely wasn't swinging the pick with my face..." Robert decided to ignore it and finish getting cleaned up.
What he didn't know, was that the mine, like any other official work-place sanctioned by the system, would boost your natural body or mind, depending on the nature of the work. This was why he was slowly getting into shape despite the minimal work hours.
Robert stepped outside with his new miner gear, namely, a white tank top, a pair of loose trousers, steel-toe-capped boots and a hard hat with a light fixed onto it.
Robert grabbed his shoulders and shuddered a little. "It's really cold this morning. Well, I guess it is the beginning of November, but really? This cold in California? I guess I'm glad I'm working in the mines today..."
The Robert from two days ago would have never said something like that. He had really changed in the short span of forty-eight hours under the guidance of Chris. In fact, it had even reached a point where he didn't need to be escorted around by the two soldiers anymore unless he didn't show up to the mines on time... just like yesterday.
The ex-mayor quivered at the thought. It was dreadful. He was practically carried by the guards and thrown into the mine. To ensure that didn't happen again, he had made sure to get up early today.
Lyle tossed and turned in his bedsheets. He was having a dark and vicious nightmare. He awoke gasping for breath and covered entirely in sweat.
Today would make Lyle's second full day that had passed without using any heroin. His body didn't like the sudden lack of the substance it had grown to rely heavily on upon. Lyle shook greatly and stumbled onto his feet.
He wandered out of his room and down the hallway of the cabin he shared with several other citizens before he found the door he was looking for. With ragged breath and weak movements, he knocked on it a few times.
Perhaps a minute later, there was movement from the other side. Opening the door slowly, Mave, the short glasses-wearing brain surgeon, looked at Lyle's condition and sighed. "Well, you'd better come in."
Lyle followed her into the room and took a seat on the sofa. His back glued itself to the fabric thanks to the sweat that was coming through his shirt and he immediately began biting his fingernails while his mind was filled with dark thoughts.
Mave pulled out a few tools from a cupboard and brought them over to Lyle. After measuring his blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature levels, Mave sighed.
"You're still in the peak of your withdrawal, but you are slowly stabilising. Anyway," she said as she leaned back and began putting her tools away, "What brings you here this early? Do I need to add insomnia to your list of symptoms? You do know that no matter how much you ask, you're not getting any more methadone than you need, right?"
"I... I know... I just... I wanted someone to talk to... I'm sorry if I'm being a bother..." Lyle replied with a distinctly depressed tone in his voice.
Lyle stood up and his entire body jolted in response. "I... I'll go back. I didn't mean to disturb you so early..."
Mave could see how terrible his condition was, so she shook her head lightly and walked over to Lyle. She gently pushed him back onto the sofa. "Don't be silly. I'm already awake, so it's fine. Besides, doctors are used to a lack of sleep," she joked in a monotonous tone before she asked, "Want some water?"
Lyle was momentarily startled, but he nodded his head ever so slightly. "Thank you... I would.... appreciate that."
Lyle was certain that if it wasn't for Mave's help, he wouldn't have been able to quit his life-long enemy, heroin. With her by his side, guiding him through this painful process, Lyle was hopeful that he could fully recover and return to his position as Daz's advisor.
Ellie Richie, unlike most other citizens of Fort Skip who were busy sleeping, was in an open grassland area of the outer fort with her Automaton pet.
Mini Daz was flying around her head as she tried her best to move the Automaton, oddly named, 'M Destroyer'.
It clumsily hovered in the directions Ellie wanted it to, but it wasn't as accurate as she would have liked. "Mmm, it's useless like this... I should really use my merit points on upgrading you, shouldn't I, M Destroyer?"
Just saying the machine's name brought a smile to the young woman's lips. It did, after all, hold a very significant meaning to her.
"System, how many points do I have?" Ellie asked politely.
|Confirmed. The total merit balance of the host is now 100,000.|
"Right... I put the rest in the bank... How did I forget that?" Ellie asked herself with a slightly confused tone. "I must not be fully awake yet..."
Of course, for her actions during the fourth attack, she had been given the attention of several gods, so Ellie felt stuck for choice when it came to using all of these merit points.
She had decided to store most of it in the bank for if Daz ever required them or if there was something that she desperately needed to buy later on that was expensive. Ellie had always been better than her twin, Sarah, at saving money, and apparently, that life skill had translated into this new age.
"System, how much will it cost to fix M Destroyer completely?" Ellie asked as she looked at the poor machine's crumpled up arms and perfectly split core.
|Confirmed. 475,321 merit points are required for the system to completely repair the [Makrov Tank Issue Mark V Automaton: M Destroyer].|
"That's too much," Ellie pouted. "How much can you repair it if I only use one-hundred thousand merit points instead?" she asked.
|Confirmed. All critical damage can be repaired to sub-optimal levels and the left photon-powered laser cannon can be restored to minimal operable conditions.|
Ellie smiled. "That'll do. Please confirm the purchase."
As the merit points left Ellie's balance, the gaping wound in the robot's core became a bit shallower and the left laser cannon, as promised, was fully restored. Ellie took a moment to inspect M Destroyer's status now that it had been somewhat fixed. "Machine identification."
|Controlled Makrov Tank Issue Mark V Automaton|
One of the final remaining Tank-class Automatons in the discontinued Makrov line of war Automatons.
Defeated as it served the system faithfully, this machine was granted life by the host, Ellie Richie.
It has the potential to grow a consciousness and evolve.
|Owner's Worldforce Capacity:||500/1,000(2,000)|
|Photon Laser Barrage [Inoperable]|
|Self Destruct [Half efficency]|
It would appear that the machine's available stats had almost doubled and gotten closer to their full potential. Also, the new stat, Range, had appeared, as had the skill, Self Destruct.
Ellie pumped some of her worldforce into the robot and began testing it's repaired laser. Roughly twenty minutes passed and she was very happy with the results. "This is great! Now I can help even more during the attacks!"
Ellie was genuinely proud of how far she had come. Only a week ago she was an audibly impaired young college student struggling to do much more than study and care for her family, but now she had a chance to make a difference! She could build a new life for herself here and finally fit in.
It was during that train of thought that a small blob of a fluffy white substance fell onto Ellie's nose. She felt it melt and sink into her skin before she looked up. "Snow?"
Ronny got out of his bunk bed that he shared with the healer of their group, Ben, and he quickly noticed that his roommate was missing.
Ronny scratched his head and decided to get dressed first. 'I wonder if he's with Trish? Probably, those two lovebirds...'
As suspected, in the communal area right outside of the living areas, sitting on a picnic bench, all of Ronny's friends were happily eating breakfast. However, one teenager was missing.
Ronny approached the bench lazily and sat down next to Samantha. "Mornin'."
"Morning," everyone replied.
"Where's Xing?" Ronny asked as he stole a slice of Ben's toast.
"Hey, get your own!" Ben grumbled as he moved to protect the rest of his food.
Trisha and Samantha laughed. "Xing stormed off this morning when we said we wanted to help in today's attack. He said 'We shouldn't be helping these freaks, we should be running away!' or something like that," Samantha explained as she waved her bowl of cereal around dangerously.
Ronny frowned. "He still feels bitter? I really can't understand him. Life here is far better than it was at the arcade."
Samantha shovelled a mouthful of lucky bits into her mouth and nodded. "Mright? Re's such ran idriot."
Trisha giggled softly. "Don't talk with your mouth full, you dummy."
Samantha swallowed her food and stuck her tongue out rebelliously in response.
"I don't get what Xing's problem is. Why is he so against Daz and this place? I get that Daz was a bit... intimidating back in the dungeon, but he did rescue us, and Crusher even saved Ben's life..." Ronny was feeling like he was a failure of a group leader for not understanding Xing's feelings.
Ben averted his eyes as he looked at Trisha and bit into his toast. "Y-Yeah, it's weird."
The four teenagers soon finished their breakfast and were heading to the barracks to train a bit since it was still very early, but at that moment, it suddenly began snowing lightly. "What the hell?" Ronny said as he looked up.
"Pretty..." Trisha mumbled.
Rare was it that it snowed in Waterford, even during winter, so the young girl took the chance to appreciate the natural occurrence while the boys stared at it dumbfoundedly. It was only a shame that it was anything but a natural event.
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