Nate walked out of the factory superintendent's office in his newfound stupor. Mr. Warren’s words had sounded more like a warning than advice, but Nate seemed to grasp onto the possibility of leaving the Grey Sector as if it were gold. Nate didn’t really know what to do, but this could be his chance to get out of this place. In his excitement over the potential change, he quickly moved back to his boarding room to begin making preparations. Since the superintendent had said that he may have to move, Nate decided to pack his belongings now. He didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary in this dump.
After getting into his room, Nate reached into a drawer and pulled out a backpack that he had used to bring study materials around when he was younger. It was the only thing that he had to pack up stuff. Standing in his little room looking around, Nate couldn’t keep a chuckle from escaping his mouth. “What fucking preparations? I could probably pack up everything I own and still have room in this bag.”
With that thought, Nate began to quickly pack up his belongings. He hurriedly stuffed the bag with his few extra changes of clothes, a blanket, his care supplies, and a few handfuls of daily nutrition bars. Even though he had four hours to report, Nate was rushing to get ready to report to the Sector Administrator to get a new job assignment.
Looking around the room one last time, Nate glanced at his work desk and was startled. He had almost forgotten his prized possession. Reaching into a hidden cubby behind his desk, Nate pulled out a knife that he had built from components salvaged from the trash bin at work. The blade was about as long as his hand. Employees of the factories were allowed a chance to take defective or broken parts for their personal use as a bonus for good performance. Over the years, Nate had performed very well so he had managed to get enough trinkets to build something of his own.
One of the main reasons for his good past performance at the weapons factory work was that the training had given him a fascination for the weapons he worked on daily. He didn’t have the knife for any other reason than a need for tinkering with things to relieve boredom. After looking it over for a minute, Nate packed the knife into his bag and zipped it shut. In only about a half hour’s time, Nate had loaded up his backpack with most of his belongings. He picked up the bag and left the room. As he felt the weight of the bag on his back, he laughed to himself, “Yep, not full at all.”
Following the directions of the factory superintendent, Nate meandered through the corridors of the Grey Sector to find the Sector Administrator’s facility. Walking up to the guarded entrance, Nate was immediately stopped by the two guards resting on a nearby chair.
“What are you doing here, kid?” one of the guards asked with a bit of attitude as he walked over to Nate. It seemed like this guy didn’t like his rest being disturbed.
“I was sent over here by weapons factory Superintendent Warren,” Nate responded as he handed the guard the medallion that the superintendent had given him, “I went through my Awakening last night.”
“Oh. A newly awakened system,” the guard said as he interestingly looked at the medallion, “Great. I was hoping to get a chance to see the Sector Administrator today.”
The guard looked Nate over for a second then walked him toward the Sector Administrator’s office. As he walked with the guard, the older man tried to make small talk.
“So how did your Awakening go?” the guard asked looking sideways at Nate, “I only awoke at Level 2 with average stats but I still ended up as a guard. You always have a shot.”
Nate looked back at the man for a second before replying honestly, “I awakened at Level 0 with low stats.”
“Oh,” the guard said looking at the token in his hand again, “Level 0. That sucks. Good luck anyway kid. You never know how things will turn out.”
After a few minutes of walking in the building, the two arrived at an office with a very large door.
“Stay here for a moment,” the guard said as he opened the door and went inside still holding the medallion that Nate had given him.
Nate waited eagerly outside of the office for a few minutes before the door opened and the guard invited him inside.
“Quickly child, come in,” a squeaky sounding voice came from within the room.
Nate walked in to see the largest man he had ever seen standing in front of a desk that was three times the size of the superintendent's desk.
“Great. We have definitely exceeded the quota for this week,” the gigantic man said as he glanced over Nate and spoke to the guard.
Despite his struggling mental faculties, Nate still got an uneasy feeling whenever he looked at the man. Something seemed off. Nate got a feeling that the man could see through him as the eerily big eyes looked Nate over.
“Oh, surprising,” the man said as he moved quickly to a shelf and pulled a book out of a stack of tens of similar books, “I have never seen a Level 0 before. Firsts are always enjoyable. As a gift for being special, here child, take this book.”
Nate moved without thinking and took the book from the Sector Administrator. He glanced at the cover to see the title, “Divine Light of the Singularity.” After he read the cover, a bit of nervousness sparked through Nate. He had heard rumors of a group of people that went against the usual flow of thinking that Singularity’s gift as a curse. Some truly believed it was a gift and actually worshipped the Singularity as a deity. Most people disregarded these few as a bunch of crazies, but it appeared that the Grey Sector Administrator was actually one of these lunatics.
Not wanting to offend the person that would dictate his future, Nate quickly thanked the man and tucked the book into his backpack with the rest of his stuff. The bag finally started to feel full.
Not slowing down any from his quick actions, the Sector Administrator said to the guard, “Quickly take him with the others that are scheduled for today. He would fit in well with that group.”
The guard grabbed Nate by the arm and led him out of the room. The whole interaction had only taken about a minute or two, so everything started to move very rapidly. With everything happening so fast, Nate was unable to mentally keep up with what was happening as the guard pulled him down a corridor. Along the way, a few other guards and people joined the group as they moved. Everything was happening so quickly that he didn’t really have a chance to look around or talk to the other people. The only thing that he was certain of was that he was leaving Grey Sector and he couldn’t keep himself from getting excited.
For some reason, Nate’s excitement seemed to grow as the guards escorted him and the others up through the different levels of Newcomb City. He was seeing sights that he had never had before and was struggling to take it all in. Eventually, the group arrived at a large door leading to a gigantic open space on the other side.
The scale of what was on the other side of the door startled Nate. The group continued to move forward. As Nate anxiously walked through the door, a bright light hit him directly in the eyes. After squinting for a second, Nate opened his eyes to see a gorgeous sunset over the wilderness surrounding the City. Nate had never seen the sky before much less seen a sunset. The sight was fantastical and wonderful to behold. Seeing the beauty of the world for the first time, Nate felt all his fear and apprehension fade away to the back of his mind as he savored the moment.
Just when he had mentally relaxed from sights of the natural scenery, a system alert sounded in his mind that drew him back to reality.
[‘Mentally Distressed’ status has been removed]
[A skill, ‘Mental Calm’, has been created]
[‘Mental Calm’ has increased to Level 2]
[Intelligence Stat has increased by 3]
“Move kid, you’re holding up the show. Get in the transport now,” one of the guards grumbled and smacked Nate on the back.
Nate didn’t have time to process anything that was happening as he was hustled across the open platform on top of the city. Regardless of the hurry, his mind had grown clearer with the removal of the [Mentally Distressed] status and he was now able to process information a bit better than a second ago.
Nate could see a long line of people being herded toward a large metal vessel sitting on the platform. Nate had seen one of these vessels before in a factory yard. From what other workers had told him, they were called helitransports and were massive machines that were used to bring stuff to outposts outside of the city. The heavily armored transport craft had large blades that spun to make it rise in the air. The blades were currently spinning make all sorts of air turbulence on the deck. Nate reached up to shield his eyes from the wind as he continued to move forward with the group.
His heart raced as he realized that he wasn’t just being brought to another sector in the city. It appeared that he was being sent out of the city on this helitransport. Without a clue to where he would be going, Nate began to grow nervous. Maybe his judgment had been clouded by the system status impairment before, but now he was aware of the possible dangers of his situation. The group that was moving across the deck consisted of about 25 people and 10 guards. In only a few minutes, Nate found himself inside the helitransport.
“Strap yourself into the seat and get ready to move,” said one of the guards overseeing the group.
Not knowing what else to do, Nate sat down while hugging his backpack to his chest and pulled the strap across his body. In less than a half-hour, Nate’s whole world had been completely turned on end. As the commotion of loading the transport continued around him, Nate became completely lost in thought in an attempt to comprehend the situation.
“How can I stay focused at a time like this?” Nate thought to himself. With a sudden realization, Nate figured out why he was somewhat calm despite the situation.
“That’s right. I got my first skill already,” Nate screamed excitedly in his head as he sat in the noisy transport. People that newly awakened to the system didn’t usually get their first skill until they trained for some time. Nate seemed to luck out and get his first skill in less than a day. Eager to find out exactly what his new skill did, Nate willed his user interface into existence. Finding the skill in the interface, Nate opened the description of the skill.
[Mental Calm (Passive)(Lvl. 2)(Exp. 18/200)]
[‘Mental Calm’ is a passive skill that allows the user an increase in mental focus during stressful situations]
“So, I now have the ability to focus more during a stressful situation,” Nate repeated the description to himself, “No wonder I don’t feel as overwhelmed as before.” Nate couldn't deny that the skill was helping him think clearly. After reviewing the skill, Nate decided to pull up his entire user interface to check what else had changed.
Name: Nathaniel Redsun
Level: 0 (Exp. 8/50)
Primary Class: None
Secondary Class: None
Speed: 1 Agility: 1
Stamina: 1 Strength: 1
Intelligence: 4 Perception: 1
Wisdom: 1 Will: 1
Stat Points Available: 0
Mental Calm (Passive)(Level 2)
Nate felt good seeing that he gained a few points in experience for his level. But, he was really excited about the extra three points in intelligence. A sudden jolt brought Nate’s awareness back to the inside of the transport.
While fixated on his advancement and his new [Mental Calm] skill, Nate was completely unaware that the loading of the transport was complete. The tremor running through the transport caused quite a bit of commotion among the occupants. With a shaky motion, the transport started to rise from the deck and quickly started to move in the sky. While listening to the droning of the blades lifting the transport, Nate couldn’t believe that he was actually moving away from Newcomb City. The whole event was a surreal experience for a kid that had been trapped in Grey Sector his entire life.
As he looked out the window of the transport, he could see the whole of Newcomb City in the distance. The extremely large dome structure protected the city from the surrounding wilderness. The vastness of it all made Nate feel as small as he looked out over the world for the first time. The sight caused a smile to creep over his face despite the situation.
“What you smiling at kid? You know where we are going right?” a grey-haired man sitting across from him angrily yelled over the mechanical sounds of the transport.
“What?,” Nate yelled back, “Where are we going?”
Almost as if the pilot of the transport had heard the question, a voice came over some sort of speaker inside the transport.
“This flight will take us through some inhospitable wilderness territory, so I would ask for everyone to remain seated and keep the commotion down during transport. The flight will continue for the next ten days until we reach the Bromfield Mining Outpost. If you have an issue, talk to the guards.”
“What?” Nate questioned as he was quickly pulled out of his own mind and back to reality. The realization that he was being sent to the mines hit him hard. The mines were basically a death sentence to anyone that was sent to live in the darkness of the caves.