New experiences aside, I have 22 free Trait points to spend. A few skills hit level five and got their own Traits opened up, but…
|[Combat Synchronization (0/10): Increases user/skill synchronization, making warnings more noticeable and reactions quicker through automatic movement. Allows ‘Combat Proficiency’ to be leveled through use once the trait is maxed.]|
|[Destroyer (0/50): What you’ve done can never be forgiven. Lethality of offensive Energy increased by 1%/trait point. Consequences unknown.]|
They look very shady for widely different reasons.
Combat Synch looks pretty good, but it seems to involve giving control of my body over to the Combat Proficiency skill more than I already have. So far, it has just given me strong urges to do what it recommends, and that’s been extremely helpful, but if I gave it more control, I’d consequently have less. I don’t trust the game enough to give that kind of power over myself to it. Plus, maxing it out would make it much easier to level, and probably involve an even further loss of control. For now, I’m leaving it. The second trait also looks pretty good for parts, and exceedingly ominous for the first and last sections. The first section especially seems to confirm my fears that I’ve been doing something… drastic, with my Energy. What if there’s an afterlife, and everything I’ve killed this way doesn’t even get the chance to go there. Like, it’s ‘Gone’, never to be seen again. For some Fragments? Some trait points? I don’t… I don’t know. I almost hope that the Fragments are ultimately useless so I can just stop using Energy to kill things. Weaken? Sure. Intimidate? Yeah. Actually killing them seems to be… bad.
With both of these new Traits easily dismissed as choices for now, I turn to the one remaining option: my awful path.
|[Path of Denial (1/25)]|
Well, I can’t fill it out, but I can put a lot into it.
|[Path of Denial (23/25)]|
Nothing feels different. I really hope I didn’t waste those points. Either way, time to find out. I sink into my Energy view, and start the process of creating the rune, one more time.
This time, as the glowing reaches its peak, the message changes:
|[R0rrrrrrune cCreat12ion [email protected]@@@@tected. ERROR$Errrrrrorr Interference Detected. Remov-#.... Operation Failed. Fallback Creation Engine Activated: Warning! Non-Deterministic Operation Being Attempted. Consequences Unknown And Unadvised. CONTINUE? (N/N/N/N/N/Y/N/N/N/N/N/N/N/N…)]|
The notification appears, and with it, time seems to slow. I can feel the thing I’ve created reaching a critical point, and if I don’t stop now, something will happen. Something this world has never seen before. Anything, fortuitous or disastrous, could come to pass…
I grin, a small laugh echoing only inside my mind.
And something that was never meant to be, became.
It would scowl, if it was at all capable of such a thing. It could form the semblance of a scowl on the surface of its body, but that would be useless. There was nothing around to perceive it. It was left with a furious anxiety, and no good way of releasing it. Not yet, anyway. Perhaps later it would pay a visit to the holding cells and… ‘remind’ the inmates of their plight.
But, such pleasant thoughts needed to be reserved for later. It turned its attention back to the monitor. The display was a figment of its imagination, but served the same purpose as more mundane, pixelated displays available on some of the planets that had been selected for the trials. On it, a very worrying message blinked.
|[Error! System Interference Detected! Source Of Interference: Unknown]|
A pattern was beginning to emerge. These strange messages tended to coincide with new species being added to the trials. A recent occurrence, to be sure, but far from a welcome one. It knew of no other entity that had sufficient access to the system to interfere with it, and there was certainly nothing on this installation that had any ability to do so. Besides, it was sure it would have seen anything that tried. It had seen nothing, and yet the screen blinked. Something had meddled. Again. It looked like the interference had allowed the creation of some new kind of rune, which confused it, but ultimately it did not care overmuch. Runes were powerful, but new ones would certainly be unstable, and were terribly unlikely to be more useful than the basic ones that had already been discovered. Runes distilled the essence of matter, which was a very complicated thing, but their results were very simple. Making the runes more complicated would only muddy the meaning, damaging the outcome. It was nonsense, but nonsense was acceptable. Nonsense could hardly be dangerous.
No, the true source of its interest was, in fact, that there was a meddler in the system, and their continuous, and now, predictable, behavior. It ran another check of all the systems, but analyzing such a vast quantity of information was taxing, so it prioritized the main systems, leaving the data collection and storing areas alone. If an entity was hiding among the data, it would never be able to threaten the system as a whole, and catching it would involve it doing nothing but searching for a fairly long time, even by its standards. It did not relish the thought, so until this meddler did anything that actually unbalanced, or even broke, the system, it would remain a pest unworthy of its attention. It would smirk, had it the means or inclination to express itself. The likelihood that something could break the system it had designed, the system it now governed, was inconsequential. It was made to consider every possibility, but it knew the much more likely outcome was for the meddler to show itself in a display of force and attempt to seize control, at which point it would be destroyed. It had happened before.
The being dismissed the error, having concluded it remained safe, and appeared suddenly in the holding cells. Well, suddenly for the occupants of the holding cells, but quite a slow process for the being, as it had been entirely aware of every piece of it being deconstructed and reconstructed. Painless, if done correctly.
However, as these inmates were about to learn, it could be done very incorrectly.
Their screams were elegant music.