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On Earth, I am still in captivity.

I hate it, and I hate this cramped bedroom with no space for anything but sleeping. When the lights are off, it’s almost complete darkness. When the lights are on, it’s blindingly bright.

The U.S. government has treated me exactly as one might expect. They wish to know the secrets of the Destiny Deck System, and so they monitor me at almost all times. They are especially interested in the ways I gain Destiny Points and level up, so they have put me on the path towards becoming an S-Rank as quickly and efficiently as possible...

...And I have never begun to hate my own Destiny Deck System as much as I do in this moment.

Every single day, morning, afternoon, and evening, I am carted around this deep, hidden, windowless facility to perform whatever activities they think will help me today.

I play every fighting game ever released on every video game system until I have defeated every single opponent and no longer receive Destiny Points. I play open world games until I discover every location on a given map. Oh, by The Goddess’s name, the hours I have put into different Minecraft worlds...

Every meal is specially prepared for me to try the densest amount of brand-new food items, especially snack foods, and the calorie counts per day often surpass even 3000.

Often I am allowed to fight against opponents, U.S. government agents trained in hand-to-hand combat, to keep up my skill even as my body grows heavier and my eyes grow weary of the unchanging sights. I win them almost invariably, but usually with the sinking feeling that these fights were thrown in my favor.

I used to be strong, used to be brave. Now I am a test subject and a lab rat.

And today, I am being carted in a bound-up chair to the meeting room for my weekly consultation.

Occasionally, I can feel my powers just a little bit more than usual. The anti-psychic barriers here are strong, but at times it’s almost as if I can hear Francis, hear his emotional state with our [Empathetic Link.] But no matter what messages I send, I do not receive any response.

So I have no one but myself to interact with, for the government agents refuse to discuss anything with me except what they are authorized to do. I have tried my darnedest to strike up casual conversations, and they always fail.

It has been almost a year of consistent, grueling effort at gaining Destiny Points, as well as gaining weight as a side effect. And what do I have to show for it?

I’m Level 11, Rank B.

By mathematics alone, it does not compute that I would be merely at Rank B after so long of work. But, unfortunately, the U.S. government is to blame for this as well. They have forced me to waste almost all of my Destiny Points on Destiny Cards, so that I could show them every single one my Destiny Deck has to offer. I have been made to experiment with so many effects, rigorously studied and measured by people whose faces I have never even seen. Agent Miles will never tell me the results in his weekly reports, so I must simply trust that they have gone well.

My stats, at least, have risen considerably:

Strength

287

Speed

23

Agility

37

Wisdom

84

Defense

98

Charm

155

Viscosity

100

Deftness

67

Charisma

45

Manners

13

Power

179

Sturdiness

111

Aside from my [Manners] stat, which has not improved whatsoever but actually steadily dropped over time, every stat is now double or even triple its value at this time in Rank C. I am gifted by The Goddess with truly impressive stats.

However, here in this government facility, my powers are dampened by some mysterious force and I am unable to make great use of what I have gained. By now, surely I have the strength to take on even the mightiest of Maw Dragons on Mystix with my bare hands, or maybe one bare hand and a bow and arrow in the other, but I am unable to make sure except through my training fights, and those of course always feel completely staged.

And my current crop of Destiny Cards is nothing if not impressive:

Overload Spark: Rank 5. Deal electric damage to each selected target within one mile. Cost: 888 LP.

Super Reverse: Rank 4. Reverse everything in a ten foot radius around you. Cost: 100 LP.

Geochange: Rank 2. Change the matter type of one 10-foot cube of land. Cost: 150 LP.

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

Nature Power. Rank 3. Suck power from all plants in a 5 ft. radius. Cost: 600 LP.

Major Heal: Rank 4. Gain 3,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.

Clone: Rank 3. Make a clone for 5 minutes. Cost: 1000 LP.

Kaio Blast S: Rank 6. Triples combat stats for 3 minutes. Cost: 1500 LP.

Pickpocket: Rank 6. Use a random Destiny Card from target system user (the card is consumed for them). Cost: 1250 LP.

 

Willpower Boost: Rank 4. Enhance the willpower of yourself and everyone around you for 120 seconds. Cost: 1770 LP.

With my [Inventory Slot] cards gone, and with the extra cards afforded to me by being B-Rank, I can now carry with me 11 Destiny Cards at any time. Of course, my 11th slot is empty due to the [Fireball] I launched during my sparring match with Mestopholees last night, but as soon as the scientists discover that fact, I am sure they will force me to draw another. In fact, I might as well do it now, considering I have [567 LP] and am in absolutely no threat to losing my Life Points (which happen to be at a 25,000 LP cap).

Time to draw another card, then...

[-5 DP.]

Counterspell: Rank 5. Counter target magic. Scry 1. Cost: 188 LP.

[+2 DP.]

Oh, yes, B-Rank also comes with an amazing new ability: Card Discount.

If I draw a card that I have previously encountered before, half the points I spent will be refunded to me afterwards, rounded down. If I were to fill out my entire hand with a large [-30 DP] purchase (the minimum for B-Ranks), and half of them were previous encounters, that would mean 15 Destiny Points refunded directly to me. The ramp up into S-Rank seems frankly easy with such an amazing benefit, since I draw familiar cards more often than not these days.

This is far from the first [Counterspell] I have received, and it would be an amazing pull if not for the fact that I simply do not have any actual foes to fight against, and certainly none who use magic.

My advancements here are completely for naught.

And so I enter the consultation room, carted in by someone else, and am greeted by...

Not Agent Miles?

What’s this?

There are a group of young men, all of whom have glasses and lab coats on. Clearly, they are scientists, and they seem giddy to meet me, but I certainly do not have the same feelings towards them.

“Eryk Solbourne, in the flesh,” one says, gasping. “Wow. I’ve never gotten to see you up so close.”

“Can we touch him?”

“I’d rather you not,” I say.

“He’s rather overweight,” one scientist says. “Will he really be able to pass our next physical?”

“Yeah, don’t worry, dude. Weight’s not as important as tenacity, and this dude’s got it hella big. He’s like Ratatouille levels of tenacious.”

“Plus,” another adds, “Agent Miles says he’s fine.”

“Where is that guy, anyway? Is he behind the one-way mirror? Wait, crap, I wasn’t supposed to talk about that.”

The constant voices are very much annoying me, I must admit.

“What is the reason for your appearance here?” I ask these scientists.

“Oh, that’s easy,” one of them says, pushing up his glasses. “We’re moving to our next phase, so we’re gonna need your cooperation even better now.”

“We think we’ve really done it!” another adds.

Cease with your foolish vagueries, I wish to say, but that would lead to unfavorable consequences were I to speak it aloud.

“What, exactly, did you do?” I ask.

All of them answer in unison: “We’ve created a prototype Sorting Scepter!”

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About the author

Thedude3445

Bio: I like to watch movies.

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

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