My week at the range passed by so quickly. Sanych, in the end, gave me some discouraging feedback: He kept saying that I was so worthless and I couldn’t do anything, and I didn’t know anything, and so on, just like he liked to say about all other newcomers. But it was clear that he was simply afraid of a new wave of boredom, which would come soon. I was now sitting and sorting out my stats, trying to decide in which direction I should continue to develop my character. Yeah, I actually didn’t even know what I wanted. I’d gone into the virtual world, so as not to be completely frustrated before my oncoming death. I ran around a little and shot someone… So what?
Now what? I have enough of the local currency. Now, I will haggle a little with Carefire, angling for several exciting items, and try to squeeze a trophy replication capsule into my share, pick up a couple of sets of equipment for different purposes, or maybe a couple of sets to use for the growth of my stats, if something interesting should happen. That's it. I don’t even know what to do next. I don’t want to turn into a dumb grind machine, I have nothing to earn and win, and I was lucky enough to have made a fortune. I’ll at least check how my character is looking…
Armor (average): 1
Carrying weight: 7.2 / 60
Strength - 6
Dexterity - 9
Endurance - 6
Perception - 9
Intelligence - 6
Mind - 1
Luck - 8
Charisma - 5
Handling one-handed guns - 58%
Handling machine guns - 56%
Handling automatic rifles - 53%
Handling firearms - 61%
Handling one-handed energy pistols - 68%
Handling energy pistols, machine guns - 71%
Handling energy shotguns - 27%
Handling automatic energy rifles - 63%
Handling energy rifles - 93%
Handling single-handed pulse pistols - 72%
Handling impulse submachine guns - 78%
Handling pulsed shotguns - 67%
Handling automatic rifles - 41%
Handling rifles - 87%
Handling thermal one-handed pistols - 23%
Handling thermal pistols, machine guns - 35%
Handling thermal shotguns - 62%
Handling thermal automatic rifles - 27%
Handling thermal rifles - 82%
Handling knives / daggers - 54%
Handling energy knives / daggers - 62%
Handling swords - 2%
Throwing grenades - 69%
Shooting with both hands - 63%
Combat engineering - 26%
Explosives - 32%
Pitfalls - 32%
Optical sighting devices - 53%
Digital sighting devices - 76%
Dressing wounds in the field- 12%
Fast reloading of automatic weapons - 52%
Silent movement - 48%
Searching caches - 7%
Mechanical hacking of locks - 25% (further development is blocked until your status as a third-class specialist is confirmed)
Regeneration - 12%
Trade - 6%
Torture - 25% (further development is blocked until your status as a third-class specialist is confirmed)
Vivisection - 25% (further development is blocked until your status as a third-class specialist is confirmed)
Interrogation - 25% (further development is blocked until your status as a third-class specialist is confirmed)
Intimidation - 25% (further development is blocked until your status as a third-class specialist is confirmed)
Injury - 25% (further development is blocked until your status as a third-class specialist is confirmed)
Step beyond – You’ve looked into the face of Death itself. Who are you? Are you lucky or you are just a loser? After all, not only have you looked into the eyes of Death, but It also looked into yours.
Executioner - There are no people who remain silent and keep secrets under any conditions, there are just poorly interrogated people. You have proven that, if necessary, you can get info out of anyone.
The emblem "The will to live" - a triangular sign with a hand depicted on it, clutching a bloody heart in its fist
Every true warrior, after seeing this badge, will respect your will to survive. After all, the main goal is to survive, in order to fulfill the remaining orders.
Classification icons: [Expand]
Killed neural network owners:
Persons dangerous to society: 19
Personal account: 2 378 925 credit points
What astounding progress I’ve made in just a week! Still, now every new percent point will be like bliss for me. I have already reached my limits, brought with me from reality, for basic skills, although I’d thought there would’ve been much more. It seems that, due to the fact that I hadn’t applied my skills in reality for a long time, they’d deteriorated a little, or the criteria for evaluation are stringent. My thoughts were interrupted by a flashing mail icon.
Sender: Alexander Carefire
Text of the letter:
Need to talk. Urgently! Waiting at the base.
Quickly jumping up, I began to gather my things. I don’t know what’s happened with Carefire, but it seems that something serious has gone down, since he doesn’t usually send me such short messages with orders in them. Putting aside my set of armor, which I’d taken from the base of the bandits, I jogged along the corridor in the direction of the elevator. I reached the office of Carefire in the administration building in less than three minutes. The commander met me, pacing nervously from one end of the room to the other. Seeing me, he immediately stopped and focused his gaze on me.
- Tell me, what shit have you stepped into?
- What do you mean?
“In ten minutes, an investigator is going to arrive from the Alfarome Internal Security Office. I'm trying to figure out which of the three options available to me I should take. First, if you aren’t guilty of anything, then we simply meet this investigator, and then give him a kick in the ass. Secondly, if you’ve gotten into some trouble, I’m facing the question: either I’ll give you time to run away, or I’ll detain you for a little while and give the order to take you into custody.
So, dealing with the mutants has finally become a problem. Krill did warn me that I should keep silent about meeting him. It’s just unclear how this investigator learned about the mutants. Damn, I remember that the robot was shredded to pieces by Krill, but a couple of turrets were left alone. And, it seems, the information about them got into the reports, so the security guards got interested. If it’s all just conjecture, then I don’t need to worry, I just have to avoid directly lying… Fuck, who knows how advanced the polygraphs are in here. Stop it. And if they have any proof of me helping the mutants, how can that be an issue for me? Maybe it's really worth getting away before it’s too late?
Damn it, my thoughts are too jumbled up. So, I first need to calm down and think clearly - what can they do to me? Yeah, they can't do anything, I constantly forget that this is a game, but I perceive it as the real world. Well, they can put me in jail, but I think it’ll just be for a short time. I think the devs wouldn’t have created prison sentences lasting several years, that would break the game for every criminal, surely. Phew, now I feel relieved. Well, let's look at this investigator in person.
- “Why are you silent?” Carefire was clearly starting to get nervous.
- Well, I was just wondering if I could have, unknowingly, done something bad. It seems to me that I couldn’t have done anything illegal.
- “Okay, then relax,” – the commander replied. Those feelings of nervousness and tension that had made him so alert have finally vanished. Until the investigator arrives, there are a couple of minutes to discuss other issues.
- Yeah, but I have a question. What about my problem with Carso? -
- “I don’t know,” he frowned at hearing my question. “The guys from the Centre said that they can’t help for the time being. They promised to include this issue in the trial. Then, if you're lucky, according to the court ruling, the Server itself will send you data about the decisions. And why do you care about those things, are they that good?”
- Well, the problem is that I don’t know. I haven’t seen such a thing before, the Server doesn’t provide any description on the neural interface and when the rifle was examined, it exploded with such force that I thought they’d put a couple of kilograms of synthetic explosives in it. -
- “So it’s your crap that exploded at the research center?”
- Well, yes, it is, - I couldn’t object to such an obvious fact.
- I agree; it’s better not to sell such things right away. By the way, about the trophies… Have you already decided on the list of trophies?
- When could I have had the time to think about it? First, I spent the whole week at the range, and today you pulled me out of bed. -
- “Yes, I’m not hurrying you, I just have a suggestion. I’ll have the capsule and all the heavy weaponry, along with the furniture and thirty-seven percent of the total production. The difference, respectively, will be paid to you.”
- Stop, Alexander, I want to keep the capsule for myself, - I tried to stop this quick-witted boy.
- No, Volper, listen to me! First, capsules can’t be personal property. Secondly, where will you put it? Thirdly, who will service it?
Looking at it like that, Carefire was right. But, damn, I’d really wanted to get hold of my own capsule. That would give me a great advantage. It would be possible to organize a small division and engage in mercenary activities, even conduct further raids that would be practically impossible to do alone. Fuck you, you can have the capsule, but I’ll squeeze something useful out of you, but what can be gained here isn’t clear ... Oh, I know.
- “Give me a couple of hours to think it over, and then we’ll get back to this matter. OK?”
- Deal! The investigator is going to be here any minute. His vehicle has just arrived.
While waiting for the investigator, we stopped talking for a while. I was making plans for the future. I really wanted to be able to do far away raids, because that could give me access to various interesting locations: the laboratories of corporations, research centers or even some kind of secret military bases or test sites with limited access. Given the estimated size of the fifth level, I doubt that all these locations could be in one place. But there are several things preventing me from exploring properly: there is no technical nor research support backing me up.
I have no desire to give all of this to a third party. Well, Carefire seems to be a good man, although this is also questionable, I haven’t known him that long, but at the moment, he seems better than the scientists from the corporation. Again, the question of transporting valuables from the cleared locations arises. First, you need something to take them out with. Moreover, they also need to be transported somewhere. This can be organized, but then another question arises - I don’t want to start a clan or any other organization. I don’t want to be responsible for other people's lives. I’ve had enough of that to last me a lifetime, two even. I’m tired of it. Yeah, I understand that death here doesn’t mean the end, but psychologically, I can’t stand going through it all again.
Therefore, I can invite only a loner, or, at most, a group of several people who I can trust with my life. My musings were cut short by the door that opened and the man that entered, wearing an official looking, dark gray suit of an old cut. Such suits had been popular in the 21st, maybe the 22nd century in the real world. This isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed the fact that here, in Alfarome, ancient objects can exist alongside high-tech equipment. The man who’d come in looked around the room with an arrogant gaze and turned to Carefire.
- Good afternoon, gentlemen! I am the special investigator of the internal security of Alfarome, Mr. Survaker. I’ve arrived on behalf of the governmental department dealing with the affairs of mutants, or, to put it more precisely, because of Krill! Well, let's see what can tell me: I would like to interrogate a replicant at this outpost, from a cast from the long-term storage archives. This replicated person was registered by a representative of the replication center under the name “Volper”. I demand that you, in the shortest possible time, bring this person in for interrogation. And until this person is delivered to me, please leave the office. I need to prepare for the interrogation. -
Okay, what the fuck? I wonder how far the crematorium is from here. In my opinion, this dandy would be easy to deal with it. I doubt I’d get a chance to try it, though, as I can see Carefire is already red in the face with anger. OK, I’m going to put on a show now.
- Don’t you know that it’s polite to knock on the door before entering? - I asked Survaker.
- “What did you just say?”
Oh, yes, I recognize that look, it means: "How dare you speak to me without showing me the proper respect?" The commander also stared at me. It seems like he’d expected a lot from me, but not something like this. Well, I will now put on a show, even if it’s for only one viewer.
- I’ll ask you again: “Don’t you know that it’s polite to knock on the door before entering?” No? Well, I guess that means I’ll have to teach you, - I continued, still sitting in my chair. -We move our hand like this and knock on the door from the other side with the knuckles here… - Carefire was shocked, but I had my usual expression. The investigator, on the other hand, had begun to blush. -After that, we open the door a little and ask if we can enter, - after concluding my demonstration, I rose and approached the investigator. - And now, let’s practice! -
I take him by the shoulders, turn him around and push him out into the corridor. Then I shut the door. Turning my back to the door, I take a step forward and step slightly to the left and stop, stretching my right arm to the side parallel to the floor, while lifting my left hand up in a “stop” gesture, facing Carefire, without letting him ask any questions. One, two, three, the door opens at once, and I turn back around.
- “What are you doing?” The investigator began shouting at me.
- Wrong! - I interrupt him, and then quickly slam the door closed in his again. Only this time I’m stopping him from opening it easily.
“Umm ... what was that?” Carefire asked.
- I don’t like men like him! So I’ve decided to teach him a lesson. -
- “You’ll get into a whole load of trouble.”
- Alex, what’re you talking about? I’ve done nothing wrong at all; let's look at how he’ll report on the situation. I asked him one innocent question. Not having received an answer to it, I simply shared the information that I had, and offered him a chance to practice, in order to master this skill. On his part, there hasn’t been a single word said about his unwillingness to do this. -
Carefire literally froze for a few seconds, and then he began laughing wildly, doubled over. To my surprise, nobody was trying to open the door anymore. Gently letting go of it, I went to the chair where I had been sitting before, and then took out a knife. I began to calmly clean my nails with the tip of the knife. Carefire, still laughing, looked up at me and started shaking even harder, slowly falling under the table.
- Hahaha ... He’s demanding that my fighters ... Hahaha ... throw us out of the office ... Hahaha ... and arrest us, because: "These plebeians do not realize who they’ve messed with," - someone knocked on the door and we stopped laughing, and stared at entrance together.
- Please enter! - Carefire shouted, after someone knocked again. A man of about 40, wearing the same kind of suit Survaker had worn, looked into the room.
- Good afternoon! I'm looking for the Commander ... Yeah, I guess I’ve found him. May I come in? - After Carefire’s nod, he entered the office and introduced himself. - Investigator Stepanenko. I understand that you are the commander of outpost No. 5-17-23, Alexander Carefire? - a nod in the direction of the commander followed his words. - And Volper, a participant in the project to restore the fifth level, who we need to talk to, or, as people might call him, the replicant, which is strange, because we all go through replication process, but the name, for some reason, was given to the participants of the project. But that doesn’t matter. As far as I know, you’ve already met my partner. -
My and Carefire’s nodding confirmed it for him. This investigator was strikingly different from the first man’s. He had a pleasant voice, choosing his words carefully, trying to avoid upsetting us or saying anything that might be perceived in the wrong way.
- “I apologize for my colleague,” Stepanenko continued. “Unfortunately, he’s the son of one of the shareholders of the pharmaceutical corporation and has decided to work in our service to raise a few levels, to show off his status later. While he’s running around like mad and writing angry letters to his daddy, demanding the rude individuals be dealt with, you, in this instance, we can calmly resolve our issues.”
This guy was far from simple. He’d managed to get rid of a pain in the ass by using us. He’d most likely managed to plan it out based solely on our profiles. True, my psychological profile is only a couple of pages, but I suspect analysts in his department do their work well. And now he was emphasizing the fact that he was supposedly the skilled one, not his partner. I get the feeling he’d accept any concessions with a smile and offers of eternal friendship, while angling to stab you in the back.
- “Please, go on,” I responded. - What do you want to know? -
- Don’t worry, Volper, just some trifling questions. Our service received a report on your joint operation with Alexander Carefire, during the destruction of the gang that had been led by a certain Alckor, and we just need to clear up a few things, regarding that. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
- “Please do, I have nothing to hide,” I said. Of course, there was something I was hiding, but I wouldn’t admit it, obviously.
- To start with, tell me how it all happened, starting from the moment you learned about the location of the base, - he took out some kind of rectangular device and put it on the table. – And I will record our conversation to help with my reports, if you don’t mind.
- “Not a problem, please feel free to record! So, it all started when I returned to the technical tunnels and cleared everything up...”
Then I briefly told him about what happened, from the moment I discovered the place, to the moment the reinforcements came in with Carefire. Only I didn’t mention Ellie and Krill.
- It turned out that, when you went down to the eighth floor, the security robot had already been destroyed? -
- “Yes, when I passed through the 8th level, going further down, the robot was lying in a pile of debris.”
- You mentioned that all the cells in the room were empty. -
- “Yes, there was only one security guard for the entire lab.”
- Try to remember more details... -
He tortured me like that for another thirty minutes: asking questions, periodically returning to different points and formulating the question in a new way. If I hadn’t been expecting such a thing, I’d most likely have already let something slip a few times by then; there were some tricky questions. I formulated my words so that they sounded true. Never giving a definite answer, I always answered in detail, implying one answer, but in a way that it allowed it to be taken as an answer to another question.
- Last question. Have you ever seen this person? - Stepanenko opened his right palm, and Krill's hologram appeared above it.
- “Let me think,” I began to drag things out, trying to quickly put together an answer. “Most likely not, but I won’t exclude such a possibility. I wasn’t paying particular attention to the people who were there. I was trying to survive and make my way out of the jammer’s range.”
- Hmm ... Well, then I won’t keep you any longer, I still need to find my partner, lest he end up doing something with unpleasant consequences. Goodbye, gentlemen.
And then he left the office. I don’t know whether he believed me or not, but for the time being, I was free of the investigator. If I end up working with the mutants again, it’ll be necessary to make up more details for the story I’ll tell anyone who asks about it.
- That’s strange! - drawled Carefire.
- “What’s strange, exactly?” I turned to him.
- I’ve heard about this Stepanenko. In general, he deals with quite complicated matters, so I don’t understand what he’s doing here, dealing with such an ordinary case.
If you take Krill’s level into account, then I’m not at all surprised that a proper investigator was sent. I felt like something else was off, too. If he’s such a good investigator, then why did he leave so easily? Okay, so far, I’ve dealt with this problem, although it may come up again in the future. I’ll focus on more personal plans for the future, for now.
- Alex, fuck him. Instead, tell me, how do you feel about the notion of working with me?
- “What is the plan?” He asked, trying to get more details about my request. “Do you need a reinforcement group again?”
- No, this time, I need the opposite. Let me describe my idea better, and we will sit down and think about how to implement it. -
- “Well, let’s discuss it, then.”
- I want to start doing raids on places far from here, but I just can’t stand carrying out other people's orders, and I would like to be self-employed, so to speak! -
- “So register your own clan...”
- Wait, – I interrupted him. – Look. As I said, I want to work alone, but not because I need a big income or something like that, I just want to be independent, not reporting to anyone. A clan, of course, can help me with this, but there’s another issue: I don’t want to manage any people; I already told you that I’m tired of it. But without any support, I cannot fight properly. I need a material and technical base, equipment, doctors, etc. Hell, I even need a skilled warehouse manager! My plans won’t work out if I don’t have all of that. So I suggest you provide me with a base, all the necessary personnel for its maintenance, plus a trophy unit, under the guise of a battle group, to carry the loot for me. On my part, I’ll give you half of the loot, and I’ll just reserve the right to have first pick of the trophies, with you being able to take all the excess from me at the estimated cost of the system. What do you think about my proposal? -
- “And why don’t you want to serve in one of my military units? I’ll form a new squad, consisting only of you, and assign you the appropriate logistics and facilities.”
- Alex, you told me that the property and trophies are distributed according to the hierarchy. That is, as far as I understand it, if I enter your service, most of the loot will then simply be assigned to the outpost. I suggest we sign some kind of agreement or whatever; I admit I’m not that informed about the system when it comes to these matters. The agreement will include the following: the outpost will provide me with all the necessities I require to do my part. Like rooms, workers, and equipment, maintenance, etc. In return, I’ll pay a certain amount of money for your services, or provide you with half of the looted trophies, if the estimated value of that half exceeds the required payment amount. Plus, you’ll have the exclusive right to buy the remaining trophies from me first. Or something like that. -
And in response, there was only silence. The poor man was thinking it over hard; he was used to doing everything through direct orders and protocol, as it happens with the bulk of paramilitary formations. But my commercial approach to this issue has caused a mental block. I can practically hear his brain creaking, processing the information it received. His forehead was wrinkled. It wasn’t because he was slow or stupid; I know from experience that it’s hard to think like a civilian, after getting used to a military way of thinking.
- “Ok, wait,” the deep thinker woke up. – “In a nutshell: you continue to clear the territory yourself. The outpost provides you with repair, maintenance, and treatment services, and warehouses for all the looted treasures, and you give us half the trophies for it?”
- Yes. -
- “I still don’t understand… what do you get out of this? You can rent a warehouse and get everything else at the research center by just paying for their services. There are doctors and engineers there. And everything will be much cheaper.”
- I don’t agree. My contract with you ensures I have a base where I can always return to rest a bit and where everything is looked after by specially trained people. Also, I have the support of a rather serious, at this level, organization, in the form of your outpost, which is very interested in providing me with all the services I need, and the highest level of services, at that. I no longer need to dig through trophies to sort them out, and I don’t need to look for a place where I can get rid of my excess loot, somewhere I can get repairs or medical care. I don’t need to haggle about the price of the services or worry about their quality. That is only a small list of upsides for me, especially when you consider the support, the teams that will carry everything for me... My benefit is saving myself a lot of time and effort that I can invest into searching for new targets, or on individual private orders.
- “Well, yes, you’re right. For me, as the commander, such an offer is profitable as well.
And then we started to hash out the contract, discussing various force majeure situations and the rest of the red tape questions, which took us a lot of time, until evening, in fact. I’d wanted to sort out some trophies from the bandit base so much, in order to pick up some new equipment and weapons. Alas, it seemed like I’d have to wait until tomorrow.
Changed the date of publication of the book on Amazon
The full version of the 30 parts, can only be found on Amazon by preorder or starting January 16, 2019