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A note from Drew Cordell

Welcome to Star Exile: Singularity, the first novel of a Sci-fi LitRPG series infused with action, alien magic, epic starship battles, and much more!

 Come hang out with me and awesome readers like yourself on my official Discord server!

I hope you enjoy the read. and be sure to drop me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

- Drew

A blaster bolt whizzed by my head, so close that I had to close my eye as a torrid heatwave flushed over my face. I grimaced, ducking behind the alloyed bulkhead I was using as cover. Damn. A quick check of my AIAO (Artificial Intelligence Assist Overlay) connected me to the neural chip network implanted in my character’s brain. My blaster pistol’s charge cell was still at 65%, but I considered changing it out since I wouldn’t be able to move from my position until Brandon could give me some cover fire.

I constantly had to remind myself that Eternity Online wasn’t real—that I was technically sleeping right now in my real life. The adrenaline I was feeling now felt as real as anything else. I craved it, and let it fuel my actions.

“Can I get a little help here, Brandon?” I growled, pressing my body as closely as I could to the bulkhead in front of me. A Barrage of enemy blaster fire that would chew through my armor surged past, blurring my vision as plasma bolts slammed into my cover with reverberating impacts.

“Working on it,” Brandon shouted from somewhere behind me, his deep voice filling the square hall around us.

I still had all of my mana ready to spend on shielding the two of us, but one well-aimed blaster bolt to either of our EVA suits would make this mission a lot more difficult if we had to float through vacuum on our exit. The clock was counting down to my alarm, the one that would pull me into the responsibilities of my real life and this wasn’t where we wanted to be when that went off.

Shouting in the strange, slurping Virodesh language echoed out in front of us from our enemies. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but the message was probably simple enough.

One quick glance from my cover told me that this freighter had a lot more goons to fight than we had expected. We had intended for this to be a typical repossession job without bloodshed: Infiltrate a Virodeshian freighter, retrieve their warp drive, and leave their ship in the void to crawl to the nearest station. Since there weren’t supposed to be any actual players on board, I didn’t feel bad about it in the slightest.

The Virodeshians were squid-like alien creatures controlled by the AI Overlords running the Eternity Online game engine. As far as I was aware, their race wasn’t playable by normal players. They were tall and slender, green, and had scaly skin and tentacles all over their bulbous faces. Of all the monsters and aliens I’d seen in my first two weeks of playing Eternity Online, these were among the ugliest.

Brandon made his move, emerging from whatever cover he was hiding behind and firing off his heavy shotgun. As a colossus, he stood almost two and a half meters tall and looked comical in the cramped hallways of the grimy freighter. His massive weapon thundered in the enclosed space, sending aching waves of pain splitting through my skull, leaving my ears with a lingering, numbed pain. I considered activating the helmet of my suit, but it made it harder to see and fight so I powered through the painful noise. I emerged from my cover, hoping not to take one of the massive shotgun slugs as friendly fire. Even at 25% pain threshold conversion, it wouldn’t feel good to disintegrate into a cloud of blood.

Just as I emerged, one of Brandon’s slugs demolished the chest of one of the squid-like Virodeshians, splattering gooey green gore all over its comrades as it collapsed to the floor in a motionless heap. The alien wouldn’t be getting up.

Brandon’s weapon used technology that was primitive compared to what was available to us in Eternity Online, but Newtonian laws dictated that a large piece of metal accelerated to nearly four times the speed of sound was going to do a lot of damage when it struck something.

More enemy reinforcements arrived, rushing down the featureless metal hallway and taking up defensive positions with the others. The Virodeshian goons responded with an attack of their own, firing automatic pulse rifles and blasters at us. I concentrated, activating my Mana Shield ability and channeling it on both Brandon and myself at fourth rank.

Our EVA suits, specially designed and fabricated to soak up some damage would probably have prevented most of the damage from the retaliation, as would a first or second rank Mana Shield, but I was trying to minimize our risk as much as possible. We were already in this deep enough and I had no idea what else would go wrong since our intel on this repo contract was clearly misinformed at best.

At fourth rank, my spell would protect both of us for 110% of our maximum health for the duration, but it was going to eat four mana every second since I had two instances of the ability active, a large expenditure considering I only had 35 total points in my reserve. My AIAO tracked my mana bar as I waited for the opportune time to drop the shields. Enemy fire dissipated mere inches away from our bodies, evaporating as harmless mist. I took my opportunity, pulling up the targeting sight of my light blaster pistol.

One of the enemy combatants was still exposed from the bulkhead it was hiding behind, firing at my mana shield with a wild spray of plasma bolts as the barrel of his blaster glowed red hot. The goons were chipping down our shields at a dangerous rate, but we didn’t need much time to shift the tide of battle—especially since these seemed to be fairly low-level opponents.

I lined up the compact red dot sight of my pistol with a writhing, tentacled head, squeezing the trigger firmly and feeling the weapon kick back in my hand. The blue blaster bolt turned half of a Virodeshian’s head into a fine green mist, and its body collapsed.

The other enemies took grim notice of the kill--or maybe my use of Strexian magic, laying off their onslaught of weapon fire and trying to take cover, but it was already too late for them to effectively pivot their strategy. I decimated more aliens with my blaster before they could hide. With their numbers dropping, Brandon and I emerged from our cover, rushing forward and killing the rest of the enemies as both instances of my Mana Shield ability were close to breaking.

I stopped channeling Mana Shield, breathing heavily as I checked my reserve to see I only had 11 points of mana remaining. We had cut it a little close with our gambit. My mana would automatically regenerate by itself as soon as my reserve dropped below my maximum, and that rate of recovery would improve further if I didn’t cast any spells for at least 30 seconds. In less than two minutes my mana would be completely recharged. As I improved my Mind attribute, that recharge rate would increase.

With the fight finished, my AIAO displayed the summary of the encounter in accordance with the player preferences I’d set.

 

End of Combat Summary:

Enemies killed: 9

XP gained: 38

Net major reputation changes: N/A

Personal Estimated Cost of Combat: 4 credits (74% of 1x standard light blaster pistol charge cell.)

Skill Progression:

  • Mana Shield Level 2 + 2%
  • Light Blaster Pistols Level 3 + <1%

Overall Personal Performance Rating: S+

 

“Nice job,” Brandon said, walking up from his position behind me and clapping a massive, meaty hand on my shoulder. His voice sounded distant, and there was a painful ringing in my ears from the cacophony of noise. If he was discomforted by the encounter and the unholy decibels of his shotgun, he wasn’t showing it.

“Yeah, you too,” I said, ejecting the mostly-depleted charge cell from my blaster and depositing it into my normal inventory with a quick mental command. I grabbed one of the fresh charge cells attached to my utility belt, clicking it into place in the grip of my blaster and flipping the weapon needlessly in my hand before sliding it home into my hip holster.

It was time to clean up these bodies and make our way to the engine room to recover the property we came here for. As a colossus, Brandon had almost double my carry weight as a human, making him our designated cargo hauler in most situations. In Eternity Online, the inventory system gave players a base weight capacity and volume limit for their inventory, with ways to modify both stats. Since Brandon’s EVA suit was both heavier and larger than mine, its storage module could store a lot more than mine given the simple volume/weight calculations Eternity Online used to decide if a player was over-encumbered.

As we closed in on the alien corpses, the smell of rotting, half-cooked fish mixed with the sour odor of spent gunpowder was overpowering—apparently the Virodeshians smelled worse on the inside than out. This time, I deployed my helmet, feeling the Nanotech materialize and seal me in. The external odors were replaced by a clean, sterile scent as the air jets in my helmet kicked into action, filtering and pumping the outside air into my suit with a sharp pressurized hiss.

“Yeah, that’s bad,” Brandon complained, wrinkling his nose as we trundled through the ichor-like green blood coating most of the floor to get to the bodies.

“So a fish smell bothers you, but you can fire a cannon without ear protection and not feel any pain?” I asked, surprised to see him react to something. It wasn’t that he couldn’t hear as well as me, his race just had ears that were less sensitive to intense decibel ranges.

Brandon shrugged and activated his helmet, causing it to pixelate and appear on his head. “It smells bad. I’m pretty sure your blaster bolts half-cooked most of these guys. Can’t even market ‘em as sushi at this point.”

I laughed at that, checking the corpse of the single elite enemy first, not expecting to find much worth taking after seeing the massive gooey hole through his chest. “Blaster bolts might cook them, but your gun liquifies them and ruins perfectly good loot.”

 

Virodeshian Goon (Elite) - Dead

Level 2 Humanoid

Allegiance: Neutral

Obtainable loot listed below.

 

Standard Credits: 17

 

Virodeshian Mechanic Vest (Critical Condition) - Uncommon

Light Armor. Basic.

  • Armor: 5 0. (provides no protection while in critical condition.)
  • Overall Durability: 1/100
  • Weight: 5.00 Standard Kg.
  • Carry Capacity: +0.20 M3
 

Mods

  • None.
 

Attributes

  • Provides a 10% chance to generate additional bonus XP when performing Mechanical non-combat skills.



Unlicensed Blaster Rifle (Battered) - Common

Blaster Rifle. Crude.

  • Overall Durability: 19/100
  • Weight: 3.8 Standard Kg.
  • Range: Mid-range.
  • Damage: 5-11 plasma damage (-10% weapon damage, accuracy, and optimal range while battered.)
 

Mods

  • Stub Barrel: -10% damage, cooling power, and optimal range. +25% accuracy in CQB-close range.
  • Hair Trigger: +15% rate of fire. -10% accuracy and cooling power.
  • Cut-Rate Blaster Rifle Charge Cell: 65% charge remaining. Plasma Damage.
  • Iron Sights: +10% accuracy in CQB-close range. -10% accuracy in mid-long range.
 

Attributes

  • None.



Had Brandon’s shotgun not done so much damage to the elite’s mechanic vest, it would probably be worth a lot more. Now, we’d probably have to scrap it for crafting components to sell to other players. With the mods and cheap build, the blaster was beyond awful for anything other than close-range spraying.

The remainder of the bodies, all level one generic NPCs with semi-randomized trash-tier loot yielded a shoddy pulse rifle, a few pieces of bad armor, some charge cells, 31 standard credits, and a few blaster pistols to turn into scrap.

“Come on, let’s finish up and get out of here, we have work in less than an hour. It’s time we have another word with the captain,” I said. Just as I’d said it, an alarm sounded in my helmet and alerts flashed across the visor of my helmet and in my AIAO. Another ship had just warped one kilometer away from the freighter and our ship, Exowurm. When I pulled up the visual feed from our ship’s external cameras, I knew this was about to get a lot more complicated.

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About the author

Drew Cordell

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Bio: Drew Cordell is an Entrepreneurship and Innovation student at the University of Texas at Dallas in his senior year. In addition to writing, he enjoys reading, PC Gaming, board games, hanging out with his awesome girlfriend, and cycling. Drew enjoys writing science fiction, particularly a hybrid between the Cyberpunk and Hard Science Fiction sub-genres. You can find his novels on Amazon.

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jakepwright @jakepwright ago

When a 500-year old peace treaty from a war people to refuse to forget expires, the major political empires of the galaxy agree on a new way to settle the dispute for good

small typo in your summary

tarakis @tarakis ago

Thanks for the chapter.

Very Happy CHEERS ©

MADAO is life @MADAO is life ago

I picture an Illithid when you describe the Virodeshian, also great first chapter.