A Pawn of Chaos in the Game of Fate

by

Allen Clark Copeland, Jr.

Rubble Rats — Chapter 73: Initializing - Planar One of System 232-B

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What seems like days pass. I have no idea what is going on. Since there is no sensory input, I have no frame of reference. At some point I fall asleep and wake when I hear a ding.

 

Drool sticks to the black floor I lie against as I sit up. My eyes widen in shock at a titanic screen in front of my face. To see it all I have to stand and take a number of steps back. None of the symbols on it make a lick of sense at first, until it clicks.

 

Welcome Traveler.

 

You have entered [System 232-B] governed by [Artificial Planar One 232-A] through an [Unknown] transfer.

 

This [Plane] uses a [Sensory Implant] to ensure visitors acclimate to the System. Upon initial scan it is inferior to your [Beholder of Truth 《Max》].

 

Do you wish to:

1. Replace [Beholder of Truth 《Max》] with [Sensory Implant]

2. Assimilate [Sensory Implant] into [Beholder of Truth 《Max》]

3. Return to your point of Origin [Unknown]

 

Warning: Returning to [Unknown] is not possible, selection of this option may result in a permanent status effect of [Eradicated].

 

Time Remaining: 30 seconds

Status effect, Beholder of Truth? I recall the first phrase from old school RPGs from Earth. Is Beholder of Truth another term for my Gift of Truth?

 

Ugh, confusion runs rampant in my mind at the events of late. I don’t have a lot of time left to make my choice. I touch 2. for Assimilate on the large screen.

 

The text returns to gibberish. The briefest twinge of pain hits my forehead and a golden sphere the size of a basketball pulls away from me. Is this my Beholder or Gift of Truth?

 

A silver speck of light flies down from above. It touches the golden sphere and both disappear. A breath later and the screen is legible again. Okay, that was pointless?

 

The screen fades from view and text appears in front of my eyes. I look around and the text sticks in place:

 

Prepare yourself: Entry into [System 232-B] requires you to be tested to determine your start level and stats.

Level, Stats, a screen that sticks in front of my face. I’m getting a strong game vibe from this “plane”. Is ‘Planar One’ a kind of cultivator? If so how high does cultivating go?

 

My thoughts are interrupted as the floor lights up in a lit white hexagon. A few seconds pass and another appears, then another. This repeats faster and faster until all I can see around me is a world of white.

 

That last screen said to prepare yourself. What kind of challenge am I supposed to complete? Do I need to walk until I find something?

 

Before I take my first step, one of the tiles ten paces from me turns black. A dark form emerges from the floor. The slab regains its bright color. Though I feel no wind the thin film of darkness around the form breaks away and scatters.

 

It’s an ugly dwarf like creature with green skin and a gnarled nose. Text appears above its head: ‘Goblin, Lv. 1’. The creature holds a rusty knife in its hand and without a word lunges toward me.

 

Pain lances through my body as I engage the Dancer of Death and another screen pops up in front of my vision:

 

You have been afflicted with: Torn Soul.

 

It seems as though your soul was recently ripped from your body. No care was taken in doing so. For the next twenty days you may experience unusual pain as you cycle power through your body. You may also find other abilities are diminished or do not work at all.

It’s just pain. Push through it. It beats what those bastards did to you. Wait… what? Who did what to me?

 

The creature snarls and I break from my trance. Its rusty knife is a few inches from my abdomen. The pain from the Dancer of Death is at least bearable. After I sidestep the Goblin’s attack I grab its wrist and lift.

 

The Goblin’s momentum carries it forward and I help it onto its back. Once I disarm the creature I take the knife and end it with a quick thrust to its throat.

 

Blood rushes forth. I am a bit stunned. At the experience, my haste to kill, and the ease at which the decision came to me.

 

Darkness covers the form and it flakes away like the film that covered it earlier.

 

Two additional tiles darken and two more goblins rise, each at level two. They move with a greater speed and skirt around me. Their hesitation tells me they’re a hair smarter.

 

The first goblin’s knife is in my hand, covered in its blood. I try to throw it at one of the ugly cretins, but it doesn’t even come close. My poor aim emboldens them. They rush me.

 

Their speed is leagues below Gibalter’s so I have no issues dodging them. Time passes through our exchanges. He was right: I am terrible. Even though these monsters are slower than me, they come close to tagging me with their knives.

I failed to prepare enough in the past four years. If it weren’t for those two intervening and the planar shift, the Sovereign of Light would have ended me.

 

A hammer kick is caught by one of the critters. It underestimates my strength and, though it blocked with its knife, my kick follows through. Its head caves in and it drops.

 

This challenge. It’s just what I need right now. I throw myself into the experience. Three level three goblins. Four level fours. All the way to ten level tens.

 

The boost from the levels appear almost exponential. They are now each half my speed and could easily outrun the fastest humans from Earth. The level ones were on par with a normal human. If this keeps up, I will soon hit my limit against these monsters.

 

Out of breath, with my hands on my knees, the next arrival is one monster. A rabbit with a horn sticking out of its head. ‘Unibun Lv. 5.’

 

This round starts at level five, huh? It’s so cute. I’m not sure I can…

 

A hot flash stings my leg. I look down. The Unibun hangs off of my leg with its horn in my leg. In an effort to free itself it flails about. I grab the fur ball and pull it from my leg. Its fight ends as I slam it into the ground along with my fist.

 

The pattern repeats for the next few hours. Those Unibuns are cute, the hounds, living trees and ogres are not.

 

I’m flat on my ass and my breath cannot find me. Six ogres at level twenty surround me. The first at level fifteen was a lumbering buffoon. These have thick armor, steel clubs and move with an unspoken language. Please let this is test, I don’t want to die.

 

Without the energy to mount a defense, I curl up into a ball and prepare for what comes next. The last set of five took everything I had. Pain explodes over my entire body as they turn me into meat paste.

 

A minute passes and the pain turns into pleasure as my body knits itself back together. My eyes snap open and I cradle my head. Griblin’s Giblets I never want to do that again!

In front of my face another bit of text appears:

Be warned, your death during the testing phase is a one time reversal. There are no second chances given by the [System].

 

Continuing transfer into [Hel] super cluster.

Expected difficulty: [Paralytic Nightmare]

 

Base stats determined, think [Status] for more information.

 

Before I can think the Status as the System suggests, everything blacks out. The briefest of moments pass and I stand on a hill with a topless Yuna standing feet from me. Crap, how do I explain this?

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A note from Allen Clark Copeland, Jr.

If you enjoy this work, please consider rating, following, commenting, or donating.

A developmental edit is planned, but due to the costs involved, it may take some time.

Volume 2 is in the outline stage. Stay tuned for more.

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Allen Clark Copeland, Jr.

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