Shovels In Spades



B3: Chapter 11: Pheldorapod and A VR Capsule


"System, invite the hosts, Vanessa Jakoby, Madison McArthur, Lyle Middleton, and Mave Werthers to my suite, please," Daz asked as he got comfortable in the glamorous and spacious lounge.

There was a bar sat just behind the sofa he had settled on which worked just like the one in the fighting room, so he was happy that at least his sister and his room's guests would be able to get refreshments with ease.

Speaking of Rose, she was right up against the glass at the room's edge and she was curiously looking around at the stupidly large auditorium.


Confirmed. Inviting listed hosts.


Rose nodded her head briefly. "I get it. They're using a mix between blackhole-focused technology and space magic to create over a hundred of these rooms which are all linked to the same stage. No wonder this place looks like it can only hold about two-hundred-thousand people in it. That's 'cause it can only hold that many."

Daz hardly cared for the specifics of the auction like his younger sister apparently did, so he didn't humour her mutterings with a response.

Shortly thereafter, four beams of light appeared in the centre of the large and luxurious room. One of them ran towards Daz and embraced him before whispering some concerning words into his ear while the other three just looked mildly confused.

Vanessa spotted Rose so she grabbed a chair and pulled it up alongside her after she looked at Daz and said, "Thank you for the invite, Daz," and smiled.

The young reaper just nodded and returned her smile with his own despite his now foul mood. It wouldn't do him any good to be rude to a potential recruit of Fort Skip who was also quickly becoming his sister's only real friend.

Lyle and Mave looked a little bit awkward. "My Lord, I dare not to question your motives, but might I ask why you've brought both myself and Mave here?"

Daz did not look happy at all. His smile was gone and his mind was focused on what Madison had said to him with a trembling voice. Whatever she had mumbled as she held him tightly had clearly annoyed the young man. "I didn't bring you here. I invited you, you accepted."

"C-Certainly. That is true..." Lyle scratched his cheek. Even for him, he was a bit out of his element here, so dealing with an upset Daz was hardly easy to do in these unique circumstances.

"Don't be a dick," Mave suddenly said as she got her bearings and occupied an empty couch. "I can guess why you invited us. Lyle for advice and me to keep him company, right?"

Daz's mood instantly improved upon hearing Mave's frank and to-the-point words. "So you two are an item? I knew it."

Lyle just coughed as his face flushed red and he took a seat next to Mave. "Well, more importantly, My Lord, if it is my advice you wish for, I'm more than willing. How many merit points do you currently possess?"

"Just under six and a half million," Daz admitted.

Vanessa choked on her muffin that she had acquired at the bar, and her eyes almost popped out of her head. "So many... I only have three-hundred thousand..."

"So few? Even I have one-point-five-mil," Rose claimed with some surprise in her tone.

Vanessa just scratched her cheek shyly. "W-Well... I only got support from The God of Quarterstaves and didn't do much that was merit worthy. I've spent about half a million so far, so it's not that bad. I-Is it?"

'Soul-cleansing innocence... It's almost enough to make me forget what Maddy just told me. Almost, but not quite. I'll make those bastards pay for making her uncomfortable,' Daz thought morbidly.

"My Lord. I don't mean to be rude, but might I ask whom this young lady is?" Lyle requested. Mave rolled her eyes at his overly formal tone and lightly jabbed him in his side, making him wince.

Daz tried to control his flaring emotions as he said, "This is Vanessa Jakoby, a lesser god's champion like myself. Vanessa, this is Lyle Middleton and Mave Werthers, my personal advisor, and our local doctor-slash-part-time translation expert."

Vanessa had a pleasantly surprised look on her face. "You can say my last name right? That's a bit shocking. Most foreigners pronounce it with a 'J', not a 'Y'."

Daz shrugged. "I can only speak English and a tiny bit of Italian, but I know how a load of languages work phonetically. I ran into a lot of foreigners during my thrilling childhood."

Vanessa bobbed her head up and down in admiration.

Lyle nodded. "A German? It's a pleasure to meet you." If his lord respected her enough to invite her to his private booth, then he was obviously going to afford her the same level of respect.

"Hi," came Mave's casual greeting to the girl that was less than half her own age but still taller than her by half a foot. Mave truly was very petite. "I'm not really a translation expert, by the way. Daz is exaggerating. I'm just the only person that was willing to teach some otherworlders not bought from the system English."

"Otherworlders?!" Vanessa's eyes sparkled like stars.

As the young girl and the couple were getting more acquainted, Rose had silently moved her wheelchair to be alongside the sofa Madison and Daz were on. "Tell me what happened," she demanded of Madison.

Nodding a bit hesitantly, Madison recounted her interaction with Keiran's group in as much detail as she could to her family.

A few minutes later, Rose was furiously typing away. "I'll have to spend a few points, but I'll find them. Don't worry. Big Bro will deal with those losers soon enough."

''Big Bro'? Damn. It feels good to hear her calling me that.' Noticing Daz's satisfied expression, Rose realised her verbal slip-up, so she clicked her tongue and scowled at him. 'Hahaha... Of course. Well, it was a nice if not short-lived experience. I wonder if she'll ever call me that again?'

Madison smiled with her eyes. "Mmm."

Like that, twenty-five minutes passed in a flash.

Rose was still typing away, Vanessa was practically glued to the window as she watched the auction hall below, Lyle and Mave were both reading a book while Madison was snuggled up to Daz and sitting on his lap.

The televisions on the walls of the room turned on and the image of a person-sized octopus walking perfectly with its tentacles acting as legs across the hall's stage was being displayed. This octopus had seven eyes and each one was covered with a dashing monocle. His upper body was wearing a skin-tight blue suit while his tentacles were unadorned.

Once he had reached the centre of the wide stage, the octopus brought two of his tentacles up and used them to adjust his bowtie before he ran one of them through his hairless head and he then coughed lightly.

"It's a pleasure to meet you all, Earthian testees." His voice was soft and silky-smooth while also being full of power. Something about it was very enchanting, even to Daz despite his resistances and the fact that he was only hearing it through the televisions' speakers.

"Let me start the general auction by saying how incredibly happy I am to be serving as your host tonight." He bowed his slimy body slightly. "My name is hard on your tongues. Only a handful of you could even pronounce it, so I shall simplify it for you. Should we ever have the chance to speak face-to-face, please call me Pheldorapod. It is wholly my pleasure to meet you all regardless of your position on Earth."

Daz stroked his chin with one hand and Madison's head with his other. "Heh... Polite. I wonder if he's normally like that, or is this because of Father almost interfering with the system...?" he whispered loudly enough for only himself and Madison to hear him.

Madison pouted at the mention of Daz's father, so she buried herself further into his chest after kissing his cheek, making him smile at her. "You're far too cute sometimes, Maddy," he claimed before he raised her head with his fingers and kissed her right back, but on the lips, not the cheek.

She blushed furiously since there were strangers to her present, so she glared at Daz cutely before she pressed her body against his even tighter in a feeble attempt to escape the situation. Madison knew she couldn't wriggle free from his grasp now that she was trapped, so the only form of retreat was to advance!

Rose made a gagging motion with her fingers. "Why didn't your emotions come with a shame care-package?"

Vanessa was trying to avert her gaze from the two lovers but to no avail. She was in the middle-stages of puberty, after all. It was only natural that she was interested in their flirting.

Mave and Lyle acted as if nothing had happened. Lyle was transfixed on one of the televisions while Mave was still happily reading her book, seemingly uncaring about the auction that was beginning.

"Now that the introductions are over, shall we move on to the first item? There shall be exactly one-thousand items being sold today, so please, get comfortable and relax. Time is frozen in here, so we have all of the time in the world to enjoy ourselves." Had Pheldorapod a face, no doubt he would have been using it to grin.

A single android pushed through the curtains at the rear of the stage and it was shifting a trolley. The robot stopped short of Pheldorapod by a few meters and revealed the item hidden behind a velvet veil.

"Ah! Our first item. Ladies, gentlemen, those of you in between as well as the genderless, please behold this magnificent Pill of Agility! It will - without fail - increase the consumer's Agility stat by a whopping ten points!" Tens of thousands of 'ooh's and 'aah's rung throughout the hall. "The starting bid shall be five-hundred merit points!"

"How boring," Daz sighed. "Rose, do you know when anything interesting will show up?"

Shrugging and not taking her eyes off of her laptop, his little sister replied, "I have no clue what will and what will not be interesting to you. Just watch and wait for something you like to show up? It's only the general auction, so don't expect anything too ridiculous."

"My Lord, I predict that the first seven-hundred or so items will be incredibly ordinary to placate the everyday survivors. Things like minor stat boosts, useful tools, enchanted clothing. Those sorts of items. The truly unique stuff should start appearing in the last few hundred items," Lyle speculated.

Rose raised an eyebrow. "He's very sharp."

"Isn't he just?" Daz replied. 'Though that is exactly why he is so untrustworthy. Just who are you, Lyle?'

The man in question just smiled and returned his focus to the auction.

The spindly ex-jewellery store owner was spot-on. Every single item had been beyond boring to Daz.

Vanessa had won a single bid on a set of weighted counters for her quarterstaff which permanently increased her strength by one point for every twelve hours that they were used. A good item for the cheap price of twenty-thousand merit points.

Daz was actually surprised that he hadn't heard his father's name being called a single time. He had eventually concluded that were his father to buy stuff from here, he wouldn't do it himself, but instead via a proxy. That's the only thing that made any sense.

This also helped to solidify his theory that his father, Davido Hamilio, was using lots of other people to buy as many items as they could for him and his base, assuming he owned one. At least, that's what Daz wanted to believe.

Finally, at item number seven-hundred and fifty-one, something that greatly caught Daz's interested showed up.

Four androids worked together to lug a massive trolley onto the stage. As they were removing its velvet covering, Pheldorapod began his explanation of the item.

"What we have here, Earthian Testees, is a Mark Twelve Second Generation Full-dive Virtual Reality Capsule." No one seemed to be overly impressed save for a few thousand people, Daz included.

It was only at the octopus' next words that the hall went wild. "Within the device, you can raise any stat. That's right, any stat you wish! Of course, you must undergo virtual training, but please trust me when I say that it is nigh impossible to fail the training. Also, this device will allow the host to connect with other hosts using the Virtual Network, including those from other planets!"

Seeing the heated atmosphere of the more powerful Earthians, Pheldorapod's head contorted into what Daz assumed would have been a devious smirk were he to have a proper mouth. This alien was definitely a businessman through and through.

"Of course, everyone you meet will be restricted in regards to what information they may share with you while Earth's tests are still on-going, but this is an incredibly rare opportunity! Also, please note that once a host has registered with the capsule, no one else may use it. This is a rule enforced by the system, so it cannot be worked around," Pheldorapod noted as he wagged two of his tentacles around knowingly.

"Well then, shall we start the bidding? The opening bid is two-hundred-thousand merit points!" Daz stood up and walked towards the glass window while he held Madison's hand.

'Perfect. I wanted something like that for Rose, but they're all at least five-million points in the shop, so this is a good opportunity to get her that early birthday present,' Daz thought. 'System, link me to the bidding room.'

A note from Lone

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