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“Why are we being forced to take this ‘bus?’” I ask. And why must we wait for it for so long?

“Because, for one,” Francis says, “Delta had to return that rental car we used yesterday. For two, the bus only comes through our neighborhood twice an hour. Service cuts after the big economy stuff back when the 20s started.”

“Economy... stuff.”

“Uh, don’t worry about it,” he says.

I decide to no longer worry about it.

Today, we will be trying another task dedicated to the pursuit of Destiny Points. With 11,200/15,000 LP remaining in my system, I will need to level up in around eight days, or less if I become sick or get in any dangerous situations. So we will be “grinding” for those points by going to a boxing center. It is apparently something that has to do with hitting, which I am quite good at I will admit.

We wait for a while longer, and then Delta joins us at this bus stop.

“Hey,” she says. “Sorry I’m late. I had an ordeal at the office.”

“So you got the vacation time?” Francis asks.

“Something like that,” she says. “They’ll let me off for a couple weeks at least.”

“Just enough time to help Eryk become a big fancy S-Rank person!”

I look at them strangely. “You surely don’t think I could become an S-Rank [Adventurer] in a matter of weeks. I have been connected to the Destiny Deck system for over two years, and I am only a Level 17 D-Rank Hero. I have literally thousands of Destiny Points to gain before I can reach S-Rank.”

“You’ve never tried to game the system, though,” Francis says. “You said so yourself. We’re gonna help you do just that.”

“Does this involve eating so many combo flavors my stomach bursts?”

“Well, you’ll be trying new foods out, that’s for sure,” he tells me. “But mainly, we’re gonna focus on getting you to try out as many different things as possible in a limited time. We’re gonna try out a lot of stuff and see which one works best and fastest, then you’re gonna do only that one thing until you have a bunch of points.”

“That sounds like monotony to a considerable degree,” I say.

“You want to live, right?” Delta asks.

“I do wish to live...”

“How many Destiny Points is it gonna take for you to get to the top, anyway?” Francis asks. “Is it just 25 Destiny Points forever?”

“Ah, that’s something I should inform you of,” I say. “Right now I am a Level 17 [Adventurer] at D-Rank. It takes 25 Destiny Points to level up, and I have 38 right now, so there are 13 more towards the next level.”

“Okay, so let’s just assume you’re Level 18 and then those 13 extra points aren’t there, so we can play it safe,” he says. “How many then?”

“I must reach Level 20 to be able to increase my Rank,” I say. “That would be 50 Destiny Points then, under your conditions. Then I will be C-Rank.”

“And you just have to do that a couple more times?”

“Well, no. At C-Rank, you must gain 30 Destiny Points to be able to level up. To reach level 20 again, that would take... 600 Destiny Points.”

“Oh, geez, that’s a lot. So 650 to get to Rank B.”

“I’m not sure there are 650 different snack foods in the United States,” Delta says. “Bustable Lemons only has sixteen different flavors right now, and we’re huge.”

“That’s why we’ve gotta try more stuff out,” Francis says. “What about Rank B and A, then?”

“B-Rank heroes must gain 40 Destiny Points per level,” I tell them. “That’s 800 Destiny Points to reach the top. However, I must note that very few heroes on Mystix actually rank up at Level 20. Because of the increased Destiny Point restrictions, many heroes like to stay at lower ranks and increase their stats as much as possible before they rank up. I was over level 60 in F-Rank, actually, since that only required 10 Destiny Points per level.”

Francis counts some numbers on his fingers. “Okay, so... This is a lot of points so far. How about Rank A?”

“That’s the mysterious one,” I say. “People seldom ever reach A-Rank, but it is known that it takes 50 Destiny Points to level up. However, it also takes a higher level than 20 to be able to rank up. You must remember that there has not been an S-Rank Hero on Mystix in a millennium. It is possible that the ability to rank up to S is not even an option until Level 40, or even 50.”

“Oh, dang. So... 50 points to Rank C, 600 points to Rank B, 800 points to Rank A... 2500 points to Rank S if we’re stretching that... So if you want to get to the top, you need about 3950 more Destiny Points.”

“Precisely why I am skeptical about your idea that I will be able to reach the top in a matter of weeks. It seems nearly impossible.”

“Hmm... So if we’re working super overtime and you get about one Destiny Point per hour, that’s about 168 points per week, and... Okay, that’s about 24 weeks to get to the top. That’s not too bad.” Francis looks off into the distance as he checks his math. I am very surprised about just how intelligent this young man is. He is doing these calculations completely in his own head. “I don’t know about Mystix, but 24 weeks is about half a year. So if we work hard, you’ll reach the S-Rank by Christmas time. Or, um, I mean, by the end of the year. Winter time.”

“I see. That’s... somewhat remarkable. But it seems not too feasible that I could earn a full twenty-four points every single day. I only earned eleven yesterday, after all.”

“Once we optimize things, you’ll be a Destiny Point-earning powerhouse. Trust me,” he says.

“But what if I need to use Destiny Points to draw new cards?”

“...Don’t... Don’t do that. What is the point in cards and whatever anyway?”

“They’re the primary source of all magic... And it is quite dangerous to sacrifice Life Points for them, you know.”

Francis shakes his head. “You’re not thinking about this like a gamer. You’ve got to min-max. You have to grind for a few thousand hours and then you’ll be so far done that you can draw all the cards you want. Until then, though, you’ve got to find a way that doesn’t involve any cards.”

“Hmm...”

“Oh, I just realized, I forgot something at home,” Delta says. “When is the bus?”

“Fifteen minutes says the app,” Francis tells her. “So about nineteen minutes.”

“I don’t understand...”

“Buses are always later than the scheduled time, so we take that into account when we are scheduling anything. And since everyone is taking it into account and showing up later, the buses never change from being late themselves. It’s a bit of a paradox, really.”

Delta goes back into her home, which is actually right in front of the bus stop. It is a quaint and small one-story house, one that makes Francis’s household look quite massive in comparison. I am surprised that someone with such charisma and prowess as Delta cannot afford a much larger residence, especially if she already plans to sire a child through mysterious technological means.

San Fransisco must be a starter town, a place where those without wealth must make do with small houses in compact places. That would explain why everything is so close together and so small as well. I could never imagine a place like this being more than a month’s salary for someone in the Adventurer’s Guild.

The more I stare at Delta’s house, though...

I start to feel uneasy.

“There is a presence there,” I say.

“What?” Francis asks.

“In that house. There is a great strength emanating from the building Delta lives in. Something great enough that even my limited abilities can detect it.”

“That’s... that’s Julie,” Francis says. “Delta’s wife.”

“Julie. A strong name for a strong woman.”

“Yeah, she’s a professor at San Fransisco State University. And she’s... she’s a pretty tough lady.”

“I see... I’m a little nervous about that, I will admit.”

Delta comes back with a rucksack on her back filled with snacks for all of us to enjoy (but mostly me). The bus soon comes and we get on. But for the duration of our wait for the bus, my mind keeps turning itself to Julie Rafati, a woman with a power so strong I can sense it from across the street.

I feel like I may have to face her in combat one day. But I pray that it never comes to that.

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Thedude3445

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Mikayla Buan https://twitter.com/mikayla_buan

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