{Francis, can you hear me?}

{What the... Eryk, why are you... in my head?}

{Come back to the pier. I have something to show you. Something to fix us.}

I do not hear any specific thoughts, but I feel the emotions from my friend. Confusion, anger, and a bit of sadness all mixed into one mental slurry.

This is a brand new, very confusing phenomenon that I am experiencing. ESP, but not quite as distinct as that. It is more like the powers of an empath, with the ability to sense or project the emotional state of another, and somehow I am interpreting some of these feelings as words.

What an indescribable sensation. And yet not one I regret.

Francis returns to the pier to confront me, tears in his face and swirling unhappiness in his mind.

I tell him all about our new Mental Link, about the card I cast for all of this to happen:

Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a Mental Link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.

But I do not tell him with my mouth. I tell him with my brain waves.

I project my calm, rational, friendly aura in his direction and hope that it can overwhelm his sadness and turn it, too, into positive feelings.


It doesn’t work.

His sadness subsides, but almost entirely replaced by rage.

You did WHAT?” he screams out loud.

I, um, wanted to find out if you really loved me,” I say. “We are not great communicators, I will admit. So my thought was that we could improve ourselves with enhanced...” I trail off, realizing the great folly of my words.

Tears well up in his eyes. Horrible sadness clouds his entire being once more. Thanks to our shared empathy, I can absorb every bit of his emotional being, and it is one of the most tragic things I have encountered in a long time.

{Eryk... he’s... just like the rest,} his emotions project.

{No,} I respond with my mind. {I’m your friend! I just want to make you happy!}

{Stop reading my emotions!}

I apologize,” I say to Francis out loud. “I do not know how this power works just yet, and I do not know how not to read your emotions. It was a mistake to activate it on such a whim.”

You think, dipshit?”

All I wanted to know was if you loved me.”

What? So you could make fun of me?” he asks. “I don’t like men, and I never will. You’re one of the dumbest people on the whole Earth and I hate you!”

Biting words. But his emotions tell the truth. He is hurt, and he is vulnerable in the softest of ways. My guilt surges up all around me, that I have allowed this man to feel worse than he already did.

This link is a two-way street, by the way,” he says. “I can read your emotions too. Your little pity party for me... Don’t think you can hide it. Now I finally know, after all this time.”

Know what?”

That you just see me as some puzzle piece on your path to RPG glory. I’m a little sidequest broken character you need to heal for some EXP. But in the end, I’m just optional bonus content.”

These video game metaphors are slightly confusing.”

Let me put it this way: Make this shit go away now, or I’m never speaking to you ever again.”

...Oh, my. Francis, I’m so sorry. I’ll fix this. I promise.”

And, in fact, I already have a great card just for that:

Cancel: Rank 2. Stop the effects of an ongoing Destiny Card skill you have activated. Cost: 39 LP.

My plan was to use it on the Clone Eryk one his purpose had been served, but he will only be around another 5 days anyway, so it is not a big matter.

I select the card with my internal HUD and find a list of the ongoing Destiny Card skills, and...


Oh no.

[Perfect Clone] is listed. But nothing else.

That means [Empathetic Link] is not an ongoing effect. It was a one-time skill that has already taken full effect.

Full, permanent effect.

{You... idiot...} Francis shakes his head, sensing my horror before I can even speak the words.

I cannot use my [Cancel] card on [Empathetic Link.] Destiny will not allow it.”

Francis screams out at the ocean, so loud that a child nearby on the pier starts to run away crying. Then he, too, starts to cry. Every tear that drips off his cheeks is like a saltwater bomb to my heart.

He finishes his shout, consumed by dark negativity, and storms off once more without another word.

Unfortunately... I can still feel him, clear as day. His thoughts blur, but the radiating anger, the tears... they’re still in my mind’s eye, clear as day.

This time, I do not chase Francis down. I stay on the pier and reflect on my actions, on the fact that I set out for today to be amazing, to lift Francis’s sullen spirits, but instead broke them even further.

Have I been this dumb the entire trip? Why has no one told me?

Oh, Francis. I’m so sorry...



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About the author

B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

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