A note from Zogarth

Intermission 1/4 coming over the next two weeks.

There will be an additional intermission between today and tomorrow (at a random time for funsies), and a third one tomorrow at the usual time.

Next weekend, Intermission 4 will come (a 2-parter).

For her, it had just been another typical and tiring day. She had to get up early, clean her room, and make it all nice and tidy before heading off for breakfast. After that, she would have to do a bit of studying before a nice workout in the yard. Then it was work time, a bit of recreational time in the evening, before her early bedtime.

It was a constant routine that she had done now for nearly two years. It wasn't that bad, and she got used to it. Of course, it was a bit of a downer that it was involuntary. Prison as a violent offender wasn't exactly the beacon of freedom after all.

Now, what exactly had the little harmless her done to land herself here on a five-year sentence? In a word, revenge, two words, justified revenge. Arguing the second point hadn't helped her much, however, as apparently that just meant the act had been premeditated.

Oh well, do the crime, do time. She had accepted it, and to be fair, the prison wasn't that bad, actually. She was lucky she lived in a country with a somewhat lax prison system focused on reformation over punishment. Which isn't to say she altogether avoided violence in there. But fucking someone up to the point where even the prison guards didn't recognize them apparently had done enough for others just to leave her alone. Though it didn't look perfect on her record.

Her story started 25 years ago when she was born. A bit cliché, but what can you do? After that, she grew up in what could only be described as a high-class family. One, she sadly didn't fit in with. Despite being a girl, she didn't precisely follow the expected customs of looking pretty and becoming a good wife but had interests that her aunt described as "unrefined and unsightly." Stuck up bitch.

Luckily her parents were the right sort. Her mother had married into the family, and her dad had always been a bit of an outcast himself. One that didn't get better when he allowed his wife to give her a Spanish name over a more Italian one. Carmen.

Carmen had grown up with that horrible extended family - one that would chastise her at every turn. "Why don't you wear a nice dress?" "Oh goodness, boxing? Wouldn't Ballet be more fitting for you?" and the worst one of them all. "Why can't you be more like Beatrice?"

She hadn't ever been the smartest or the prettiest girl. She wasn't delusional and knew this. In fact, she had that fact hammered into her skull constantly growing up because of her aunt's beautiful, smart, and just all-around perfect daughter. In other words, her cousin.

Her dad had never liked his own sister, and Carmen could see why. She was indeed the stereotypical entitled parent who believed their little angel to be perfect in everything. And annoyingly enough, Beatrice was just too damn close to perfect.

Her cousin had the highest grades, worked as a child model, and even had an acting gig when she was 8. She only grew up to be smarter and more beautiful than any of them imagined and finally managed to get into one of the best universities overseas.

Though Carmen did have to admit that it may just have been her own bias. When you are told something constantly, you begin to believe it. And she honestly did believe her cousin to be better than her, ending up in her suffering from a severe lack of self-esteem growing up. Every single family gathering was comparing her to her cousin, always with her losing out.

Despite it all, Carmen had tried to be her cousin's friend. Who wouldn't want to be the friend of miss-perfect? And for the most part, her cousin appeared to accept her as her little follower. That was how her childhood went. Carmen had always been the second fiddle. That was until she turned 18 and was introduced to an entirely new world: boxing.

It turns out that while Carmen was a dunce with a book, she was really good at hitting people. Impressively so. She began to build up her own self-confidence and began to finally find herself. She got new friends, a boyfriend and finally, she was her own person. Something she came to learn her cousin didn't like.

Carmen began not to give a shit about how her cousin got into the best university, or that she had gotten that new job as a model, or how many goddamn Facebook friends or Instagram followers she had.

But stupidly enough, she hadn't completely cut off that part of her family. To her parents, the family still mattered a lot, and she cared about her parents. So she stayed cordial and took the battering from all their relatives who disapproved of her life choices.

Honestly, her entire family was toxic as fuck. She even found out her grandmother had paid off her first boyfriend to leave her because he didn't "fit." Fuck her and fuck that guy.

Through those years, Carmen got better and better at boxing. Her coach was even confident that she could go pro if she kept up her practice. In the ring Carmen was happy. Until her cousin took that from her.

It was a simple favor. "Come help clean my car.". Thinking back, it was actually more an order than a request. But stupidly, she had gone to help her hopeless cousin. She had helped clean it with her cousin standing to the side on her phone. This day, however, Carmen had decided to stand up for herself.

She called out the bullshit and told her lazy cousin to get off her ass and help clean her own damn car. After a bit of bickering, her cousin had agreed, and for the first time, Carmen believed she had gotten one over her 'perfect' cousin.

That is just until she was in the car cleaning, with one of her hands in the gap of the open door. Without any warning, the door slammed, her hand caught in it. The sound of bone being crushed was loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear - the blood making all the cleaning a waste of time.

Her dear cousin had slammed the door on her hand, with full force. It was a memory Carmen would never forget. Not because of the pain and distress but because of what she saw. Looking up as she was screaming in pain, she vividly saw her cousin looking back at her, smiling. Her hand holding the door closed on her hand.

After that, Carmen didn't remember much, just that she was taken to the hospital and told that her hand had taken irreparable damage. Nerves were crushed, bone splintered. She would never be able to make a damn fist again in her life without significant pain, and she would likely be on pain medication for the rest of her life.

This would then be the part where charges were pressed for assault against her cousin, who so clearly maliciously attacked her and did grievous damage. The part where the police arrested her, and she got justice. The part that, of course, never fucking happened.

She cried crocodile tears, and it was all deemed a sad accident. So the situation was left with her poor cousin seen as the victim because she had such a hard time with the guilt. The police had asked Carmen if she wanted to press charges, and she sure as hell did.

All this had resulted in was her entire extended family shunning her and her parents for trying to 'ruin her cousin's life over a small accident'. How could the perfect cousin have even the slightest blemish on her records? Her aunt and uncle some-fucking-how ended up getting the charges just thrown out, and everyone moved on. Everyone except Carmen. She tried; she really did. Yet that fucking smile just stayed on her mind.

For more than a year, she didn't see her cousin. In this period, Carmen's life had just gone down the shitter. She was told she would never box again, to no one's surprise. Even a year later, she couldn't even properly type on a keyboard without constant pain. Her life was fucked permanently because of her petty cousin.

She had tried getting a job waitressing but couldn't hold plates with one of her hands. It turns out that when you are semi-disabled, everything is just harder. The government was a hard-ass with actually giving out disability; employers prefer employees with two fully functional hands.

All of it came to a crash fourteen months after the 'accident.' Carmen was at the time unemployed, drinking a bit too much, and back living with her parents. That day they got an invitation to a wedding - her cousin's.

Carmen didn't want to go. Of course, she didn't. But she was made to go anyway. The wedding was to be perfect, the entire family of both the bride and groom there. As her father had recently gotten promoted to a high position, she knew the only reason they were invited was to brag about how great their family was.

As the wedding had to be perfect, they had to do rehearsals - all of which they wanted Carmen to attend. They had to be sure she looked 'representable' for the big day after all. She went, got forced into a dress for the first time in years, and overall just wanted to get it all over with.

The first rehearsal she had gone to went smoothly as far as she knew. Yet afterward, she was dragged aside by her aunt, the perfect cousin’s mother. Turns out her mangled hand wasn't pretty enough, and she would have to wear gloves. She should also stop looking so down but smile more because that is easy when you spent most of your time contemplating suicide or murder.

Carmen could only grit her teeth and hold her emotions in. This continued as she was pulled aside and admonished over and over again. Told what to say if asked, told what to wear if seen, what to do if prompted, and finally to be nice and leave early.

It all was just building up inside her. She wanted it over with until the final straw broke the camel's back.

Her cousin pulled her into an adjacent room, just the two of them. She said words Carmen would never forget.

"It is your own fault you had to be a bitch and get punished. Ladies shouldn't need to use their hands anyway, so stop being depressed or whatever."

These were the first words her cousin had spoken to her in fourteen months. No asking for forgiveness, not even a damn apology. She just made that same fucking smile.

So Carmen showed her that she could still make a fist – even if it hurt.

She showed her that she could still punch someone – her strength not any lower than before.

She showed her that she could still beat the living shit out of someone – that she was still not to be fucked with.

She showed her that she hadn't forgiven her – and that she would eventually always get her revenge.

It didn’t continue for long before the screams caught the attention of the others. They rushed into the room, dragged Carmen off her cousin, and held her down when the soon-to-be-wed girl was taken to the hospital.

Carmen would never forget how her cousin looked when she saw her in the courtroom. Her face was unrecognizable. Carmen hadn't gone easy on her but let out all her frustrations.

In the end, her perfect cousin had been made not-so-perfect. Her beauty ruined forever. During the… 'altercation,' Beatrice had several bones broken that ended up requiring reconstructive surgery. She lost an eye, most of her teeth, and from what Carmen had heard, she still suffered from problems with her memory even half a year later.

During the trial, Carmen hadn't even tried to defend herself. She was, without a doubt, a nightmare to her attorney. But unlike her cousin, she didn't lie. She said exactly why she did what she did and exited the courtroom after getting her sentence by giving her entire extended family a fat finger.

Her next two years were, of course, spent in prison. Until one evening, it happened. The system arrived and changed her fate.

Now, two months later, the tutorial was about to come to an end. It had been quite a journey.

On that day, they were all whisked away, granted powers, and then put back in the exact same prison again. Except it wasn't. It was larger, the layout different, and now filled with zombie-like creatures. The prison guards had been transported to one end, with the prisoners in the other. It was set up as a war between the two with zombies in between.

It turns out that violent prisoners welcomed a chance to get back at the guards - especially the creepier guards who, as men, had chosen to work at a woman's prison for their own perverted tastes. It was a chance for revenge that they were more than happy to receive.

On the side of the prisoners, a being appeared. A woman in a haggard dress who didn't fit in, but she was powerful. She was there to lead them in the revolt, and her goal was to kill a similar figure on the guards' side. Simultaneously, the zombies were innumerable and had tens of variants and even a few leader-types.

Carmen didn't give a flying fuck about the whole revolt-scenario. On the very first day, she dove into some of the narrow hallways and began picking off zombies one by one. She had chosen Heavy Warrior but quickly found that she didn't like swinging around a weapon. Her fists were back, after all, so she threw the stupid axe she had picked to the side.

She began killing the zombies day in and day out. She got further and further in, killed stronger and stronger enemies, and just had a swell time. She entered something called a dungeon with zombie-beasts of some kind and a big wolf at the end. She killed all of those, too, although it had been pretty hard, and she did get half her body bitten off at one point. Thank fuck for self-healing.

In the end, she cleared three of those dungeons total. Met some weird woman who called herself a god, who she bluntly told to fuck right off as her arrogant demeanor reminded her way too much of her stuck-up aunt. Then she met a second one, a bloke who was actually quite lovely and ended up giving her a blessing or something. Good shit, as it increased her strength even further.

Now, on the final day, in the final hour, she stood in the hall where it all began. The prison guards' scenario versus prisoners had ended in slaughter to the surprise of absolutely no one. The two powerful characters who had wanted to kill each other both died in the battle, taking each other out, leaving only a few human survivors.

She herself knew that those two entities weren’t the real final bosses but that it was some other monster her quest hinted at after she killed the wolf in the dungeon.

The prison guards won the scenario. The only remaining survivors on the guard side were the warden and a dozen or so of his crew of creepy fuckers. Of the prisoners, she saw nine of them - some of the prettier ones lay naked on the ground, defiled and dead. All of them clearly evolved at level 25 in their race.

The warden had taunted her of how he had won. How he was going to become a lord in the new world.

“Oh, Carmen, you were always a tough one to deal with. But I promise you that if you are obedient and become my woman, I won-“

That day she found out that her fists crushed skulls far more efficiently now.

She then found herself in a white room once more with the little dude who told her stuff. She was praised, which was nice, and given access to a store. She had earned quite a few points, gotten barely 600 million after all the math, netting her a title and quite a lot of points to spend. She even got points from some Lord title she didn’t notice before? But the juicy one was what she got from her performance.

[Rising Star of the 93rd Universe] - As the curtains fall, some stand ahead of others. You have shown yourself to be a promising new initiate of your universe. But beware, for the road is long, and even the talented can fall due to a single misstep. +10 all stats, +5% all stats.

That one felt good. She quickly bought some skills as she didn’t really need equipment and prepared to return to Earth.

She had a… reunion with her dear family to attend.

A note from Zogarth

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