Shovels In Spades



Book 3 Chapter 42: Shift Locking and Naming


A note from Lone

Second and final guaranteed chapter of the week.

Daz helped Rose out of her chair and into her bed. "No falling asleep on me this time, okay? I know you're mentally exhausted, but you're telling me everything, 'kay?"

Rose pouted. "I was gonna do that anyway. I'm only mentally tired, not physically. Do you see me yawning?"

"Less sass, more explaining," Daz demanded as he lovingly pinched his sister's cheeks.

The girl batted his hands away. "That hurts..." Rubbing her cheeks, Rose sighed. "So, Dad first, or bloodlines?"

"Father," Daz immediately replied with zero hesitation in his tone.

"Thought as much," Rose muttered as she shuffled about and got herself comfortable.

She put her laptop to the side and stretched her neck. "I wasn't sure if I should have ever told you this before, but I guess I was being naive. I was kinda hoping you'd never meet Dad or that you'd just be able to, I dunno, somehow beat him easily?"

Daz raised an eyebrow. "That's a bit childish coming from you."

"I am a child," Rose complained before she frowned softly. "Anyway, for starters, I can tell you now that only you and I were allowed to see what Dad did on the stage. Pheldorapod could somehow see on his own. That alien is both very dangerous and very powerful. He seems to like and respect you though, so he's not a concern for now."

Rose thought about her next words for a second before she spoke them. "Dad actually didn't use his second power beyond altering everyone's perception of the stage for a while. He used it later in the fight again, but when Rimmy's attacks were completely missing Dad and when your chains and skulls didn't target him properly, that was wholly because of Survivor's Instincts."

"What?" Daz asked in shock. "How is that possible? Survivor's Instinct can alter reality or something?"

"Kinda?" Rose asked back with a troubled expression on her face. "I mean, it's different to Madison's Alteration. Once Survivor's Instinct reaches level-five, well, it kinda starts warping the surroundings of its owner to help them succeed. It takes a lot of focus and isn't passive. I have no idea why Dad used it in front of you when he could have used his second power from start to finish."

"That is insanely powerful... Bending reality to help you succeed... Anyway, his second power? Tell me about it, please," Daz requested of his little sister.

"It's called 'Shift Locking'. To explain it simply, it, um, well, it can shift the state of things and lock that state in place? It sounds kinda stupid if you don't understand it," Rose admitted as she scratched her head lightly. "It's a power from the Ming dynasty. Dad inherited it from our great, great, great, great, great, great, great-grandpa. A power getting passed on from so far back is rare, but it happens sometimes."

"Okay... Now, help me understand something, Rose. How'd Father use that power to hide our 'fight' from everyone and how'd he use it to negate all of Rimmy's and my clones' attacks later on?" Daz asked curiously.

Rose tapped her chin lightly. "Well, for the 'hiding', he basically cut the moment as the fight started and then locked it in place for everyone watching who weren't you or me. He added a small loop so it didn't just look like you two were frozen in place, honestly, really masterful work. Doing that needs at least level-three mastery over the power." Daz flicked her forehead. "Ow! What was that for?!"

He frowned in response to his sister's question. "Don't praise him."

"Who's the childish one now, huh?" Rose quipped in a snarky voice. "Yeah, he's an asshole, yeah he was a shitty father to you and me, but you can't deny that he's a God-damned genius when it comes to his esper abilities."

"I refuse to acknowledge any of his hard work or accomplishments," Daz said with a light scoff before his eyes softened. "Anyway, the attacks?"

"Right..." Rose's forehead stung a bit, but regardless, she continued her explanation. "He used the level-five application of the ability to shift lock a moving object - himself. He locked himself into a state of temporary existence, making him unable to be attacked, but at the same time, unable to attack. The only parts of himself that he made non-temporal, were his chest, his arms and his mouth when he, uh, when he hugged you..."

"I see... That makes sense... So both of his powers are at max strength, right? Also, are there any other uses for both Survivor's Instinct and Shift Locking that I should be aware of?" Daz asked very maturely as he tried to forget his recent 'embrace' with his father.

Rose tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Well, all esper powers only grow stronger per level, but at levels four and five, they unlock new... uh, applications? Like, Survivor's Instinct helps you survive and succeed. The help for that grows stronger per level, but at level-four, you can very rarely get glimpses of the future. Dad's eyes turned gold, right? That's the level-four effect happening. At level-five, you can basically make your instincts convince the things around you to avoid you on their own, like what Dad did with Rimmy's attacks. That costs a lot of internal energy though, especially with more objects, which is why he swapped to his Shift Locking when Rimmy started using his Crystal Cannon. As for Shift-locking, I have no idea what it does at level-four. I know it lets you shift lock moving things at level-five though."

Daz wore a ponderous expression for a moment before he asked, "Okay, and 'internal energy', what's that?"

"Think of it like your death energy. You'll know when you're using it and when you don't have any left. Madison needs it to use her power. In fact, Survivor's Instinct is one of the few esper powers that doesn't use any internal energy at the base level. My power, All-round Enhancer, is the same. It costs nothing at the base level. Only the additional applications at level-four and level-five consume internal power," Rose explained a little bit pridefully.

"Huh. Is that rare? Being passive, not active?" Daz asked.

Rose shrugged. "Not overly, no. About a fifth of all known esper powers are passive at the base level."

"Okay... By the way, what level is your power at? One, I'm assuming," Daz asked.

The girl nodded. "I'm really damned close to level-two though. It'll probably kill me if Madison isn't constantly healing me and if Crusher isn't on standby to give me her blood in a worst-case scenario. Unlike you, I don't have a bloodline to stabilise me. I was honestly really worried about that before the system came to test us since you can't stop a level-up from happening."

Daz wore a mildly anxious expression upon hearing that before he forced a warm smile onto his lips. "Don't worry. You'll be fine. Maddy will help you, and I'll make sure Crusher gives you a hand, even if I have to force her to," he said as he patted her shoulder with care.

"Thanks... Um, by the way, while we're on this topic, uh, you won't like this, but espers who have trained for years and years can move their internal energy out of their bodies. Dad did that when he kissed your head to, uh, hasten your level-up. He basically supplemented the energy that the level-up needed. You were generating it on your own, but, yeah, he helped. That's what causes the pain most of the time, by the way - the expanding internal energy," Rose confessed.

Daz frowned, but he didn't allow himself to get angry. That would not only be pointless, but it would also result in a win for Davido as far as the young man was concerned. "Well, so long as he didn't plant a time-bomb in me or something, then good. He hasn't won any favours from me by helping, so it's his loss."

Rose smiled weakly. She had a retort for that but saying it would only result in her getting an injured forehead once again. "Anyway, bloodlines, right? You wanted to hear about them?"

Daz nodded. "Yeah. What are they and why do they matter? I have a general idea from what you've already told me, but I'd rather you just spelled it out for me."

"'Kay. Well, I honestly don't know a huge amount. Neither do any of the governments that have researched espers, to be honest. Dad probably knows more than I do," Rose claimed with a soft sigh and a shrug.

She opened the drawer of her bed's side table and pulled out a can of coke. Cracking it open and taking a gulp or two, she continued, "All I know is that they're pretty much required to survive birth if you're born with a power. I'm a rare exception to that. Past that point, there's a zero-percent chance of surviving a level-up without a bloodline unless, I dunno, someone with a power designed to make that easier helps you. The system's kinda curbed that point though."

After saying that, Rose stayed silent as she sipped on her coke.

Daz blinked his eyes a few times. "Really? Is that all?"

Rose bobbed her head up and down. "Yeah. Well, you need a bloodline to pass down an esper power, but that's not really relevant unless you plan on knocking up Madison."

Daz smacked his sister's head gently. "Never talk about sex ever again in front of me. As your brother and your guardian, it's pretty damned awkward."

"Noted. Anyway, is that all? I have work to do, and so do you," Rose said as she gestured to her laptop.

'I'm kinda curious where bloodlines came from and how old they are, but I suppose that also isn't relevant. Either that or Rose just doesn't know,' Daz concluded mentally. "Sure. Thanks," he replied with a tender smile on his face.

Rose grunted in response as Daz ruffled her hair and said goodbye. Just before he left, he made sure to take out the VR capsule and place it in a corner of Rose's bedroom.

Daz and his two clones along with Rimmy's core were all now stood in the courtyard of the keep. Clone One had a look of mild excitement on his face while Clone Two was as passive as ever.

"I was thinking something simple like Alpha for you," Daz said as he pointed at Clone One, "and Beta for you," he added as he pointed at Clone Two. "Any complaints or names you'd rather have?"

"None, Original," Clone Two answered stoically.

Clone One shook his head. "Alpha is fine, Original."

Daz nodded. "Okay. System, I name this clone Alpha and this one Beta."


Confirmed. Applying designated names to the host [Daz]'s [Death Energy Clones].


A pale glow surrounded the two clones for several minutes before it finally subsided.


Designated names for the host [Daz]'s [Death Energy Clones] have successfully been applied. The skill [Death Energy Solidification] has been altered in response to the naming of the [Death Energy Clones].


Naturally, Daz checked exactly how the skill had been altered immediately.


Death Energy Solidification [S-Rank (Higher Tier)]

A rare skill unique to Reapers which allows them to mould their own Death Energy into a physical substance.

It was created by the famous Reaper and Necromancer, Abos Maloy, in an effort to create clones of himself that could assist him in his necromantic rituals.

I wonder why Abos didn't just ask his friends to help with his rituals instead of going out of his way to create a skill? Must have been one lonely son of a bitch.

Allows the host to solidify their Death Energy. All solidified Death Energy will no longer be usable for casting skills and spells until returned to an energy state.
Allows the host to create a clone of themselves that has 60% of the host's abilities and power. It is made purely out of Death Energy. Cost: 1,000 Death Energy. Limit: 2 clones. [New!] Due to being named, the clones may now refuse orders from the host should the clones believe that the order would negatively impact the host. Current clones; Alpha, Beta.


'What the... That's not nearly as bad as I thought it'd be... I guess I should have just asked the system what would have changed from giving the clones identities. This explains why my instincts didn't react at all to me naming them,' Daz thought as he scratched his neck.

"Well, I've got an order for you two," Daz announced, returned Alpha's attention to him. As Beta seemingly hadn't formed a personality yet, he hadn't stopped focusing on Daz at all.

"Go and level Waterford. I need to rebuild the city so everyone that I promised to recruit actually has a place to stay. Use your new inventory skill to transfer the materials to Sandy. Start in the city centre first and work your way outwards from there," Daz ordered.

"Yes, Original," Beta replied without any hesitation and then ran off.

Alpha stayed for a moment longer. "I'll do so, Original... and... and thank you."

Daz just smiled faintly in response to his clone's thanks. Knowing what his original and master was thinking, Alpha returned his smile then followed after Beta.

Daz stretched lightly and turned to Rimmy. "Well, I think I should upgrade myself and you before I spend any of these two-hundred-million-plus points on Fort Skip or Waterford, huh?"

"Rimmy!" his jewelled best friend responded happily.

A note from Lone

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