A note from D.H.Hansen

EDIT 05/12-19: I know there's a lot of dissatisfaction with this chapter, and I apologize for that. In hindsight it was handled badly, but fixing it will require a larger edit. Which will happen eventually. I hope you'll give the rest of the story a chance despite this.

Here's the promised Epilogue of Volume I. Fret not, Volume II starts posting on Tuesday.

Help the story to stay on Trending by rating or reviewing, if you've not already done so.

As always, this is a rough draft.

“Hello Mister Pryce, my name is Alex Knight and I’m a lawyer here to talk about representing you against BIS,” Marcus said, lying about his name and occupation, and proceeded to sit down. Keeping a facade up was not something I was able to do, I just stared at him, with both fear and confusion, which was probably projected by my facial expression.

“I can see you look confused,” he said with a smug smile. “Perhaps the ditzy airhead upstairs relayed wrong message.”

“Yes, uhm, Mister Knight, I thought a lawyer from the BIS was here to offer a settlement,” I finally stammered.

“Not quite. To be frank it’ll be a hard sell to any judge that you need to be compensated, but I’m willing to do for you, pro bono,” Marcus said as he pulled something out of his pocket. Looked like a small rectangular flat metal box, about the size of his palm.

“Then I think we’re done here,” I said and started to stand up.

“Sit down Archivist, or I’ll be visiting dear old Miss Elleby, and give her the same treatment as Amber. You remember her, right?” he growled.

Hearing my former title made me panic. All I could think was, ‘How the fuck does he know about the title? And Amber?

“What are you talki—” I started to protest, trying to play ignorant. I was interrupted when a hologram appeared on the table. It showed my assistant from the previous timeline. Only someone had cut her multiple times, mutilating her beautiful face. The head and arms were separated from the torso. I could also see burned skin, skin that seemed to have been removed from the flesh. The sight of what had happened to my young assistant, and the thought of the pain she must had experienced, made the blood drain from my face. Everything started to spin from the lack of blood, and for a moment I thought I would pass out. I fell more than sat back on my seat. Then the thought hit me that he would do the same to the woman that raised me for ten years, and possibly any kids she was taking care of. It made me throw up.

Leaning back in his chair, the smile was back on his face as he looked at me. “Now that you’ve seen what I’m willing to do, sit down. And let us speak without any pretenses.”

“You’re sick, and the police will be here momentarily. The surveillance in the room will have picked up what’s going on here,” I weakly muttered, the bile threatening to spill forth once more. The hologram flickered out of existence.

He tsk-tsked a few times, before saying, “Come now Damian, you don’t think me that foolish? I’ve been reliving this timeline over and over again. You don’t think I’ve invested just one or two of them to learn how to circumvent the surveillance? Right now all they see is the two of us having a discussion about your case against BIS.”

“Wh—what?” I stammered. Confused I asked myself, ‘He’s implying that he’s a time traveller as well?

“This little box alters the feeds,” he said, pointing to the metal box on the table. Looking up at me, he grinned. “Oh, you meant the reliving part. You didn’t think you were special, did you?”

“I don’t kn—”

“Stop playing the fool Damian. You’ve always been a horrible liar, and I’ve known you for two thousand and seven hundred ninety one lifetimes. Imagine my surprise when Major Daniels told me the real identity of the guild leader of Blue Lotus,” he said as he leaned forward again.

Thinking I might get some useful info about my false arrest, I asked, “Major Daniels gave you my name?”

“Ah, fishing for more information. It matters not, he’ll be on the run from the BIS soon enough, for the murder of your precious Amber. And the judge will never reveal why he signed a bogus warrant. Never understood why you never fucked that one. I mean, not once in almost three thousand lifetimes did you fuck her. And trust me, she was a good one. Almost as satisfying as a lover, as the satisfaction she gave me while I cut her up,” he said, while studying my face intently. “Matters not.”

“Why would Major Daniels and the judge do your bidding?”

“It’s amazing how much dirt you can dig up on people when you know you’ll get to live the same timeline over and over again. The judge would rather lose his job than be investigated for what I know. Daniels was quite open for a bribe, always has been. Too bad he has let me down, need to find a new lackey,” Marcus rambled on. Looking me deep in the eye, he said, “Anyway, someone is playing with the time continuum, I don’t know who. If you’re anything like the previous pawns, you know nothing of this. Am I right?”

I just stared at him, having a hard time comprehending what he was saying. He flashed a smile, and continued, “No need to say anything. I just need you to listen. Having spent thousands of years studying body language and microexpressions, I don’t need to hear your lame attempts at lying to know what the right answer is.”

Gathering all my willpower, I stood up on shaky legs and said, “Mister Knight, I’m not sure what’s going on here, you’re clearly delusional, but I’m leaving.”

“Always slow on the uptake, eh Damian?” Marcus laughed. “You’re a smart cookie when you got all the information, but I’ve known you for over twenty thousand years. Let’s just say you’ll never be a threat. Why they would choose you as champion, I can’t understand that. At least the previous champions have had some qualifications. You’re just an analyst, a damn librarian. Made me waste two perfectly good pawns.”

“Champion?” I asked, my curiosity winning over my urge to get out. If I had not been granted a second chance in life I would think he was spouting insane nonsense. Well the insane could not be disputed, not after seeing what he had done to Amber.

“Yes, every goddamn new reset, some new bugger has knowledge from his previous life. I call you champions. All of you are goodie-two-shoes, wanting to upset the status quo. I quite like the status quo. When I win the third challenge, I let Silvertech rule like they want to, and live the rest of my life in lavish luxury,” he said with a hint of petulance. Then he started laughing. “You know, I usually don’t have a chance to talk about this. Well, I do with people before I dispose of them. But with you, I know you so well. You’ll never become a real champion. You’ll peter out and become nothing. I think I’ll enjoy your fear, it’s already so sweet. Almost arousingly so.”

Gulping, I asked, “So are you going to kill me?”

“Unfortunately I can’t. Can’t even hire someone to do it, not before the Challenges are over. Of course you’ll lose like almost everyone else did, so whether I kill you or not depends on how much of a nuisance you are.”

My curiosity made me ask a very stupid question, “Why can’t you kill me?”

“Oh, I guess I could. But when I break one of the unwritten rules, I spend the entire next lifetime in pain with every breath I take. And one of the unwritten rules is that I can’t kill or maim the champion, or arrange for others to do it, not until the Challenges are over,” he said with a look of disgust. Which then turned almost savage. “Not a rule against killing your loved ones, though. And even if I don’t do it in this lifetime, I’ll just keep doing it over and over again in my next lifetimes. Even though you won’t be there to see it. You champions never return after you’ve failed. Removed from the time continuum somehow.”

“You’re sick,” I said.

“Didn’t start out that way, but once you’ve experienced all the pleasure in the world for several thousand years, it starts becoming boring. I only really derive pleasure from causing pain and misery. It’s new every time, the way someone reacts to being flayed alive is so sweet,” he said with an almost euphoric smile.

I did not say anything, but he seemed like he did not need a prompt to keep talking. “There was this champion a thousand lifetimes ago. He got involved with everyone’s favourite female game reporter. He made me so mad, so now I’m punishing her every time after a reset. Driving her to suicide.

“There’s not a lot of fun in it any longer, I got the necessary triggers down to a science now. Brainwash Aragoth into blackmailing and raping her is usually enough. Did you know she has only ever slept with one guy? Who’d have thought, right? Anyway, it’s almost so boring I feel like stopping, but you know why I don’t? Principles. I promised him I would make his loved ones pay, so I’m doing it. Well, I’ve been doing it until now. Your little stunt gave her enough time to get out of Aragoth’s noose. But don’t worry, I’ll find some other way to make her pay, and don’t interfere with it this time. For now Amber have sated my desire, and if you don’t fuck up my plans any more, this will be the only lifetime she suffers.”

“So you’re here to threaten the shit out of everyone I care about?” I asked. Finally having found a form of mental equilibrium.

“Yes. I was actually all set on actually demonstrating what I could do, until I learned who the new champion is. The powers that put both of us here, removes my knowledge of everything inside the games on every reset. But that won’t give you enough of an edge for you to win the Challenges, you’re simply no threat. Because they keep changing small details, at least the previous champions whined about that before I killed them. One of the details they change is how the new champion finds out,” he ranted.

He stopped and looked at me, “They also deletes all memories of my last lifetime, but give it back after the next reset. To sate my curiosity, tell me how did you find out? Did they go with the disgruntled council member spilling his guts? Oh that reminds me I should start replacing those fools. Or did you get all the way to the end before you found out?”

I did not answer him, but he was studying my face intensely. He broke into a grin, “So you didn’t make it to the end. That means they went with the memo play. Let me guess you received a memo you shouldn’t have received, detailing the deal between Dawnguard and Silver Tech. You got all self righteous and I killed you? Ah, your face tells me all I need to know. Did I make you suffer? No? Huh, I must have been in a hurry.”

“If you’re just going to be threatening me, I don’t see a reason to continue this,” I said and started for the door.

“Don’t be too much of a nuisance, or I’ll just live with the pain in my next lifetime, not knowing why until the next lifetime again. Think about Miss Elleby, Amber and all your little guildmates. I’ll make them suffer for every hindrance you put in my way to win the Challenges, in this lifetime and all those that follows,” Marcus called after me as I stepped into the elevator pod.

Holy crap. What the hell is going on? Is there more time travellers out there? What the hell am I going to do?’ was all I could think about on the way back. This changed everything. He might be lying about not knowing ingame details, but everything else he knew. There was no way he could know that without being a time traveller. All my plans and hopes for the future went out the window. I had to figure out what my new priorities would be.

Should I tell the others about this wrinkle?’ I thought before stepping out of the pod, and headed back to my room. It was time to make some new plans. First order of business was to find a way to secure Miss Elleby and the family of my guildmates from the madman.

A note from D.H.Hansen

Phew, we made it to the end of Volume I, clocking in at over 120k words.

Volume II will start posting on Tuesday, but you can read the Prologue and three first chapters already now on my Patreon.

As always any feedback, comments, follows, favourites, ratings, reviews and support on Patron will be greatly appreciated.

Have a great weekend, and see you on Tuesday for the start of Volume II.

Support "Carn Online: Second Chances"

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jonnnney ago

Gotta say having a mustache twirling all powerful villain reveal his evil plan directly to the MC out of the blue kinda kills the vibe of the book. You gotta be more subtle with it, don't just blow your wad, romance us with implications that there is an antagonist who is also an unwilling time traveler. It would match the bored immortal character of Marcus and it would prevent this book from suddenly becoming horrible.

    D.H.Hansen ago

    Thanks for reading, and sorry you do not like the direction it's going in.

    Amended to be less dismissive. Which was never my attention.

    I respect that you feel Marcus should be playing subtle games, and I agree that's the way it's usually done. For me, Marcus has already been playing all these games several hundred times, and he has grown tired of them. He has found far more success with a blunt sledgehammer. I also want to focus the future story on what's going on with the time travel shenanigans, instead of a subtle game of cat and mouse.

      Quantum_Mechanic ago

      Yeah, gotta agree with jonnney. This little interaction is a huge strike. While it's your story, I find it minorly offensive you just give us a, "Sorry, that's the way it is." Instead of some consideration for our opinion. That is the advantage of submitting chapters for reading than just compiling a book.

      Scarlust ago

      Gotta agree with jonny, whilst the twist itself is good, the reveal didn't have any kind of build up. It was just suddenly, i raped and dismembered your assistant/love interest from your last life, I'll do similar to those around you if you are a "nuisance" to my plans which always work anyway

      D.H.Hansen ago

      I can definitely see it's out of the left field.

      In the edits I might drop a few hints in the 3rd Interlude. However, with having one PoV who's completely blindsided by this, it's hard to drop hints.

      D.H.Hansen ago

      I do consider your opinions. And yeah, this interaction have been poorly handled. I feel bad about that Sad

      He has a interpretation of how a person who have been doing this nearly three thousand times should act. For me, Marcus is tired of the small cute games, he's been doing it for so long it has lost his appeal. Why bother being subtle, when you can achieve a much greater effect by being blunt.

      nnds0605 ago

      Marcus character can be compared to a man playing GTA games for so many times. but what i noticed though with myself and other people i know is that you would only be murderous AF about sometime and then rather than escalate is that people tend to be more mellow down the road and be less overdramatic with how they do things. An example would be: for the first few time would try to use every type of weapon to do the missions (or kill civilians) then you would go the choose from there which is the most violent one but after that is you would just go to the most efficient one.

      Maybe Marcus still hasn't gotten past the Murderous stage yet. but with "thousand" iterations..hmm..

      MalcolmR ago

      Also 10 years of torutre from time to time when he fuck up an rule.

      jonnnney ago

      If you want a baby eating villain the go hog wild. The stupid baby eating villain who tells the MC the whole plot and then leaves after a few threats and admitting that he won't kill the MC is the real problem.

      D.H.Hansen ago

      Only if the MC is a coldhearted person who cares about no one.

      gyro42 ago

      Im with the reasoning behind marcus' actions. It would be far easier for him to live this life they way he wants if he puts the champion in their place from the get-go. He cant kill him. all he can do is threaten his family/friends and such. I think you did a decent job explaining the exposition. perhaps it could be fine tuned to make it feel more fluid, but its good

      D.H.Hansen ago

      Thanks for reading.

      Yeah, exposition is always a problem. He's already rambling quite a bit. I'll have to see what I can do to make it more fluid.

Aetholite ago

Thanks for the chapter, damn thaf was an unexpected turn of events

Sebastian Chow ago

Time traveler battle...

Simulated world...

If there are psychic spiders coming up in the next volume, I'm out.

Enjoying it so far though, I love stories about noncombatant schemes.

    D.H.Hansen ago

    Thanks for reading.

    I think you're referring to MoL, which I've not read more than 20 chapters or so of.

    I'm quite certain I'll not be adding a lot of psychic monsters to the book. If there's any form of psychic monsters, it'll only be attacks.

Ulvlar ago

Eh dont like this new development, it just had more where it is enough

Lokumi ago

Nope nop nop, don't like that sorry.

    D.H.Hansen ago

    Thanks for reading, and sorry you feel that way.

      Lokumi ago

      You don't have to excuse yourself, it's your story not mine. Though I feel like I should at least explain why I don't like it. So there's multiple reason:

      - I like when the MC is special, now he is not anymore he is just like dozen before him.

      - The antagonist is just bad, 1 dimensional if you want no personality or nothing just "I want to hurt the world", that just bad writing.

      - Because he is immortal he has to be immoral/criminal? It would make more sense if he was apathetic. Also in thousand of reincarnation he always did the same shit ? Aka playing the game and win for silvertech why not try to do other thing? I mean other than playing the game like I dunno, becoming a painter ?

      - You passed the difficulty of the task from hardly possible to impossible without plot armor. What I mean is that even with an idea on how the future would go on it would have already been extremely hard to win be cause the MC was against a super large corporation. It's a bit like how today if someone (a normal person) wanted to go against google, it would be almost impossible. Except that the corporation seems larger and more powerful than google.
      So what made it possible for him to win was having knowledge of the game. Not knowledge of the future since the future is already changed by him (just the fact that he created a lucky charm thing earlier should have enormous consequence on how the player base developp).
      Now you're in a position where the MC has absolutely no advantage, he is himself at a disadvantage.
      The MC is nothing really special, he is a good analyst, that's all, not politically smart, not riches, not powerful, not good at combat, not good at managing, not good socially ect ect... So how does the MC win without plot armor ?
      I also saw that you wanted to have the MC change (less passive) but putting him in this position with the personality the MC has shown, it seems more likely that the MC would fall in line rather than doing anything...

      Edit: Another point that was already pointed out by other, it was just so sudden, no foreshadowing. Also as someone said it feel like a change of type of story, like before this chapter we were in a relatively light-hearted story and now we're in full grimdark.

      Even though I expanded a lot on the last point each point is has bad as the other for me.
      Anyways I wish you good luck in your future chapter.

      D.H.Hansen ago

      Thank you for explaining your reasons.

      While Marcus revealed a lot, he didn't reveal everything. There a lot of rules he has to follow, which he learned the hard way.

      I will point out one thing that you seemed to have missed or I've failed to properly communicate: According to Marcus his memory is erased of ingame knowledge. If believed, Damian is still the only one with ingame knowledge.

      Thanks for reading, and I'll see if I can use your feedback to improve the story.

      Lokumi ago

      Oooh, I don't know if I missed or if you didn't convene it properly (right now I don't have time to re-read) but that change thing a lot, I'll check the next few chapter to see how it goes from there, I can't promise I'll like it though.

Eleven ago

Hate saying it, but this twist will probably make me drop the story. It was very good up to this point though, so thanks for writing :)

    D.H.Hansen ago

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you will stick with it despite hating the twist. If not, I'll just say thanks for reading so far :)

      Eleven ago

      I really doubt it tbh, the whole immortal rapist/torturer/murderer is really offputting. That shit with Amber alone, I mean damn, why would that be necessary in any story.

      D.H.Hansen ago

      I can see where you're coming from. Especially since my story has been pretty light on those things. And I promise they'll not become a regular thing.

      I can't go into specifics about why I felt I needed this scene without being spoiling a lot of the story, however, I can say that I did to force a change in the MC. He has been passive. Trying to play it safe. That will have to change.

ElSod ago

Unlike some of the other commenters here I do like this twist. Time loop stories all tend to run into the same issue: the MC can suddenly remember future knowledge at will to deal with any issue they encounter. The hole the MC starts in can only be so big; once the MC can get established things get stale. Introducing a rogue element with future knowledge raises the stakes and sets up more uncertainty that the MC has to cleverly handle.

    D.H.Hansen ago

    Thanks for reading, and I feel the same way about it.

    And while Marcus claims not to have any specific ingame knowledge, he represents a huge outside threat. And the forces at his commands ingame is not small either. Yet, he also knows the MC pretty darn well, and see him as no threat.

    nnds0605 ago

    I also like to twist. That there is someone else time travelling and it is the antagonist.

    Its just that the reveal is too sudden. It could be better if there are short snippets of the antogonist and then the reveal to build up momentum. And the psycopathic antagonist in Marcus is overly done. If he was truly bored he won't just reveal himself to the MC, rather, he would play with thr MC first until the MC is directly disturbing his plans. And it seem that Marcus isn't that great either because after so many timelines reverted he still hasn't won the game.

    And I'm guessing that Mr. MASTER is the one choosing the Champions.

      D.H.Hansen ago

      Hmm, maybe I failed in making this clear. Marcus is winning the game nearly every time.

      I agree that it has no build up. Maybe an error on my point, and I will most likely add some subtle hints in the edit of Interlude 3 and maybe 2. Though I disagree with the whole playing with the MC. He knows the MC well, and feel he'll be no threat, as in no fun, so he just does away with all pretenses. Also, having been doing this so many times, for me Marcus has already played all the mind games several times. They're just as boring to him as everything else.

      nnds0605 ago

      Uhhmm.. What i mean by "play" is not stratigic-mind type things but rather like a catplaying with a mouse before he eats it.

      MalcolmR ago

      If you want to add an hint, in the prolog afther the bet comment have marcus respond 'he is always quite predicted'. Or something like that. Some might pick up on it most only on the second read if then.

      Friendly_Bee ago

      Perhaps something where Marcus does something the other timeline Marcus didn't do, that there was no way could be a butterfly effect, and really early on.

Plastik289 ago

To be honest I was liking the story before this epilogue. Unless this turns out to be a joke chapter I’ll be out.

iku450 ago

just a reminder that commenters are always the minority, the majority of us just lurk, enjoying the stories in silence, so don't be discouraged by all the comments saying they don't like the twist, I've seen many author give up after giving in to the minority (like habeshabro with "The science of magic", it's been so long but I still remember it cry) so please keep writing what you have planned :)

    Quantum_Mechanic ago

    You can take the commenters as a visible response to the chapter of the readers as a whole. Here we have 8 or 9 commenters that are negative, bordering on dropping if not dropped, 2 that are positive and a few that are unclear or ambiguous. Unless there's an outpouring of support for this "twist" the negative comments are by far not the minority.

      kewllewk ago

      The difference, really, is that most readers that enjoy the story, as he said, just quietly page on and continue reading. It's not really the first thing they consider to drop a comment on every single thing they like about the story, even if it is a big one. Meanwhile, people on their way out are much more likely to be emotional and vent on the author for his plot twist they hate, so while it may or may not be a minority opinion, approval still has more weight than dissaproval when it comes to comments on stuff like this.

    D.H.Hansen ago

    Thanks for reading and the encouraging words.

    I've realised that especially through the people who still follows and support me. It's hard to take critique sometimes, and while I will listen to what they have to say, I will remember that those that keep reading still supports the story, even if they don't comment. It's often easier to voice your disagreement than your agreement.

    Posting this chapter, I already figured it would catch a great deal of flak. So I will continue the course I've set for the story.

    Once again, thanks for your support and encouragement. I hope you'll continue to enjoy what I offer.

      MalcolmR ago

      I just want to tell you that this version of the chapter is a lot better than the first veraion on patron. I liked this, yes it is bot the expected way for the story to go. However I am ok with that, and I am going to continue suporting.

    Souleater335 ago

    Yup, Defintaly like the change even though it was compeltly out of the left field. I really enjoy watching Survivor which is a reality tv show about surviving on a island and being the last one standing. It's a fine mix between winning challenges, making alliance and plotting plans. Really neat stuff and some of my favourite parts are when people are surprised by a move which is called a "blindside". Makes things intresting. This move really makes the thing more unqiue then other vrmmos. Though, i don't know if the author has read mother of learning which has quite the similar premise. Overall quite a change in flavouring and I can't say that i like it. I'm excited to see where this will take it.

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