22) Not the best day

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

At 9am exactly my cell alarm woke me and Nilla. I’d slept a bit less than 6 hours, enough I’d hoped to recover to max but also hopefully not be essentially if another search went past. There was no sign I was detected which was good.

It was Sunday so most people should be home and I was hoping their searches would hit the residential areas or maybe spread to the edges of the city since they didn’t find me yesterday. I lived within 200 feet away from the downtown business area. There were plenty of houses around me but I had some hopes for a peaceful day.

It struck me just how much I was hoping this, hoping that. A far cry from the confidence of the other night. But ambushing a few guys in the distance in the dark with all the skills I had now was a far cry from going head to head during daylight if I was caught by surprise.

I’d built my skills around stealth, and essentially information warfare. I wanted to be able to track them while they couldn’t track me.

Yet another hope was that they all still had jobs. If they hadn’t quit their jobs then any with 9-5, Monday to Friday jobs would have to head back to wherever sometime tonight.

If they just left a couple behind then it was sniping time again.

With those dark thoughts I started up my morning routine. After days of short walks or none at all I took Nilla for a slightly longer one to the Waterfront.

We passed a few people jogging and a few others walking their dogs. Most of them weren’t as calm as Nilla when passing by. Nilla had almost never barked at other dogs in the past but she had a habit of whining a bit since she wanted to go play even if they barked aggressively at her.

When a rather loud terrier was going by I was able to ‘feel’ Nilla talking to another dog. I’d never felt her talking to Crystal or the neighboring dogs so it was fairly new. I couldn’t quite tell what she was communicating to the other dog but the dog which was half again her size suddenly crossed to put it’s owner between it and Nilla.

I’m not sure if Nilla was bullying the bigger dog or just standing up for herself. Either way the teenager owner seemed to be annoyed. Maybe he liked his dog harassing others? Or didn’t like being cut off by his dog suddenly switching sides.

Anyway, at our walking speed we were long gone before he could think of an excuse to start anything.

Other than that the walk was relaxing and helped clear my head of a lot of the stress I’d accumulated in the last 24 hours.

I started making plans as I went. Most of the mental resistances I had no clue how to unlock. I suspected I needed to be attacked mentally before I could unlock them, similar to how Nilla’s pee begging Psi attack unlocked that.

However Sleep and Light were both doable later tonight. If Monday was likely to be fairly safe then I could stay up until I unlocked Sleep Resistance and then sleep to recover.

Light Resistance seemed doable at work. We had 3 tanning beds at work along with free tanning for staff. The main problem is that like any work place people gossiped. And I was easily the whitest guy on staff, one coworker a decade past had called me Casper the Unfriendly Bitch for being so white and anti-social.

Most of the staff were too new to remember that, but if I tried grinding Light Resistance by taking several short tans in one day, across several people’s shifts, they would all know about it. And the chain’s policy restricted you to only tanning every second day.

If we weren’t a 24 hours club I could easily set it up for myself after close but the next time we closed was Thanksgiving in early October.

Even the simplest things had complications if I wanted to avoid calling attention to myself. The same as the cast on my left arm. The arm had been perfectly fine for days now but taking it off before at least 2 weeks had passed would likely be noticed. I doubted anyone was counting days but it needed to be long enough that I could claim I felt mostly okay and broke it off in annoyance.

Nilla was still going strong now that her stamina and energy levels were high but I wanted to head back.

We were cutting through a park when I felt the Resonance. I had longer range than Nilla due to my higher {Increase Mental Sensing} but I still couldn’t quite detect how many there were. The Resonance felt a bit strange too, in a way I couldn’t describe. The only slightly useful information was that one seemed vaguely familiar. It wasn’t Shockandrun, perhaps one of those that passed nearby while I was working last night.

They seemed to be heading south but it was strangely hard to tell. The angle the Resonance was at didn’t move as fast as it should and the feeling wasn’t growing either so they weren’t heading straight for me.

About 20 seconds after I felt them Nilla updated a map window for me and I could see why.

They was 3 of them and they were twice as far away than I’d thought they were. I immediately pulled up Nilla’s skill list in reflex.

“Pet Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 13.1%
{Climbing} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 4.8%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 85.7%.
{Dodging} (Beginner, Active) EXP: 1.7%.
{Hiding} (Novice, Active) EXP: 29.1%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 41.3%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 36.8%.
{Jumping} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 79.6%.
{Knife Fighting} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Mapping} (Novice, Active) EXP: 53.7%
{Memorization} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 20.6%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 1.5%.
{Running} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 64.8%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 48.4%.
{Sneaking} (Novice, Active) EXP: 12.5%.
{Swimming} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Throwing} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.1%.
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.1%.
{Walking} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 89.5%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 41.6%

I wanted to comment on the fact that her freaking {Will Crafting} was higher than mine but it wasn’t the time. Pulling up her skills was definitely a brain fart on my part.

I was clearly feeling Resonance at twice the previous distance and so was Nilla. So I didn’t need to look at her skills or mine, I knew it wasn’t a result of skill increases.

It had been exactly a week since the World map thing was added. The most likely answer was that whoever or whatever was behind these powers was messing with us yet again and had doubled the range everyone could feel each other at.

The park we were in was right beside the street they were heading south on. I’d been heading towards that road to go north and home and was less than 80 feet away.

I immediately turned and ran with Nilla deeper into the park causing the few people playing near to give us a glance. They weren’t important though. I needed to get at least 160 feet from the street.

My {Increase Mental Sensing} paid off again. It took them more than two minutes to get through the lights and traffic to get near the park which meant I could have walked the 160 feet.

A bit of panic wasn’t a bad thing. We were in sight of the car as it drove past but I was already holding Nilla under my shirt in the shadow of a tree. {Hiding} had shown the best spot for me to watch them from while still being in view to try and see them.

The car windows were tinted and only the passenger side window was down. I had a vague view of long blonde hair past the passenger but couldn’t see enough to bother using {Memorization} on the driver. The passenger though was smoking a cigarette and looking in my direction. I got a clear view of his face and was able to sort his Resonance out a bit from the blur.

I’d have preferred to see him walking by himself to get a better memory of how he looked in total, and his solo Resonance, but beggars can’t be choosers. He wasn’t the slightly familiar one from last night. Either the driver or the passenger was one of those that went past work then.

I waited until they were a good block past, heading towards Crystal’s old workplace, behind rushing home.

My place wasn’t as safe as yesterday now that their sensing range was doubled. Before they had to drive exactly by my house on the cross street. Now if they were at the intersection on either side of me they would be able to feel me.

I could grind {Decrease Mental Presence} but it was already at Master level and would take at least 5 hours to reach Grandmaster based on my training with Crystal the other day. And training at max distance seemed far less useful than being inside the other person’s sensing range when trying to gain EXP in the skill.

Which meant I had to be within 160 feet for 5 hours or roughly around 10+ hours of being within 800 feet.

I texted Crystal to see where she was while I hurried home.

I didn’t bother taking off my shoes when I got home in case I needed to hurry outside and get some distance from a searchers path.

Four slices of toast later there was still no reply from Crystal so I set up a Resistance grinding station again. I didn’t want to be nauseas so I skipped the Poison Ivy. And I couldn’t take off my shoes so I couldn’t do the heater or bug zapper the same as early this morning.

I double checked my Resistances with “Resistances Window”.

Mental
Fear N/A
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Allergy 92%
Cold 67%
Static 79%
Fire 0%
Light N/A
Pain 46%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 2%

I rolled up my left pant leg and put the space heater right against the skin before turning it on. Cold packs in the underwear again. But the bug zapper was held in my right while the left was being zapped.

An hour later there was still no reply from Crystal but the more important thing was Fire Resistance hadn’t moved even slightly from 0%. The front mesh which felt like it was burning my skin just felt pleasantly warm.

In the same time period Static had gone from 79% to 87% while Cold increased by a smaller 5%, from 67% to 72%.

With an hour going by and no searchers I was a lot calmer. Going from near invisible to the enemy to being slightly vulnerable had racked my nerves.

I didn’t even know if they had figured out someone who could hide their Resonance did the attack on Shockandrun and WannabeThor. The only one who could report back was Shockandrun and it’s entirely possible he thought the attack was from extremely long range. Or by an angry teenager who likes to hit people with rocks.

That wasn’t something I could rely on though. They definitely knew someone was in town from the World map ability everyone gained a week ago.

Trying to puzzle out what they might know, or guess, while I waited for Crystal to reply consumed another hour.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By noon Cold Resistance had hit 76% and stopped no matter what I did or how many I used. I came to the conclusion that the freezer just wasn’t cold enough. The dial in the Freezer was set to normal so I switched it to the colder setting. A quick check online said that was likely around -18C and -23C respectively, but without the manual I couldn’t be sure.

I stopped using the ice packs and put them back in the freezer. I figured I’d try again later when the freezer hit it’s new colder temperature.

With it being a while since I ate I went back to grinding Allergy Resistance with Poison Ivy and Static the bug zapper I’d grown to hate.

A bit over an hour and a half later I had my reward that was worth swallowing my vomit a few times.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Title.
Moderately Masochistic has evolved to Obstinacy III.
You have gained 10 EXP.

Which was followed a short while later with the window I’d expected.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Resistance.
Allergy Resistance has become Poison Resistance.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 50 EXP.

That only left Static Resistance to grind since I was fairly sure that Poison Ivy wouldn’t raise Poison Resistance after what happened during the Heat to Fire Resistance change.

Which meant it was time to go back and research while zapping my knee. So I looked up food poisons, with one hand, that seemed the easiest to find. Most of the results were fairly useless. I was sure I could find dangerous mushrooms for example if I searched, but enough to be useful?

Crystal finally replied halfway through my search. The OPP had moved her temporarily to a detachment 30 minutes east of the city at a small town of 2000 people. They wanted her to be safe as they sorted out how to best use her power with their higher-ups down south.

Funnily enough I hadn’t gone by the station on the bypass during my searches, just within a block, so I didn’t know they had moved at some point. Crystal was a bit annoyed I’d told her to go to the wrong address…but she was also a resident! How was it only my fault?

So that was totally useless in terms of me grinding {Decrease Mental Presence} but very good for her. Sending her to them was exactly the right decision it seemed since they were taking it seriously.

Going back to my research I found Red Kidney Beans was the answer I was looking for. They were bad enough that if you ate 5 raw ones you could be sick within 10 minutes if unlucky, and you would certainly be sick within a few hours.

A bit less than a half hour later I hit my final grinding goal.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Resistance.
Static Resistance has become Electrical Resistance.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I kept on using the bug zapper for another 10 minutes but didn’t get even 1% into Electrical Resistance.

I really had no clue how to go on with a couple resistances. Cold might level up after the freezer temperate change, or it might not. I didn’t want to start shoving forks into electrical sockets.

The two that seemed simple though were Poison and Fire. For poison a quick trip to the mall for a package of Red Kidney Beans would do it. If I slowly chewed them like hard candy I had no doubt it would raise Poison Resistance.

For Fire Resistance I could likely just buy a bunch of lighters.

Both Resistances seemed like they would grind my {Regeneration} ability too. Without {Regeneration} I’d likely end up with burn scars and half my stomach lining flushed down some toilet.

Around 3pm I took out Nilla and then headed to the mall.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was time to begin hunting. Armed with my grocery bag of Red Kidney Beans, a fistful of lighters, a couple latex gloves, and a dozen good throwing stones, I started my search pattern.

I started east of the mall and jail and worked my way north then west. I’d searched the area just a week earlier so my {Mapping} skill had an accurate map of it.

The fact that the Resonance range was twice as long and I now had {Increase Mental Sensing} on top of that meant it was dramatically easier to search. A given area took a third as long to check.

Two Resonances were inside jail when I went near it. One was Arsonboy and the other I was fairly sure was WannabeThor. I only sensed him briefly before I ran away Friday night but it felt right.

The most unsurprising thing was that I could feel a few bloodlusts in the area around the prison. I assumed they were from plain clothes police ready to step in if there was another attempt on the prison. It wasn’t worth going close though to find out if I was right.

I could use the two of them to raise my {Decrease Mental Presence} but it would mean staying most of the evening and into the night nearby. With only a couple restaurants and one 24 coffee shop to hide in that likely wasn’t the best idea. I’d definitely stick out after a few hours.

I swept north towards the Airport. Previously I’d never searched around the Airport, just the base of the hill to it, because it was a pain and likely to be fruitless.

After walking up the steep 3 block long hill and searching…it was fruitless. I went back down the hill and started a zigzag towards the University area.

The only productive thing was Poison Resistance was at 7% and I was getting down the timing of how often to eat without feeling too sick. It had been slowing me down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A bit after 7pm I got my first hit. Someone was driving the bypass and heading west to my south. It felt weak enough I knew I was outside their range.

Continuing my search I passed by the hotel I’d stayed in two weeks earlier.

I reached to store where I bought the jogging suit when I hit paydirt.

To the south, across the bypass, was a residential area made up of houses, a couple apartment buildings and a grade school. There was at least three and likely less than 6 Resonances from there.

I needed time, or getting close, to sort it more clearly than that, but one of them was definitely the passenger from the car in the morning. One was likely Shockandrun.

It was like listening to people whispering at the edge of your hearing around a corner.

I tried to triangulate them on my the map in {Mapping} as I slowly moved west. After a few hundred feet I was directly north of them and had roughly located them as just south of an elementary school on the other side of the bypass.

Checking my skills I could see {Increase Mental Sensing} visibly moving. {Decrease Mental Presence} had moved a percent for the first time since Friday so I was sure I was at the edge of the 800′ range. The brief encounters Saturday and earlier Sunday weren’t enough to increase a Master level skill.

“Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 58.6%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 7.9%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Master, Passive) EXP: 46.7%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 8.8%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 64.9%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.6%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 19.5%
{Jumping} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 4.7%.
{Knife Fighting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 2.7%.
{Mapping} (Intermediate, Active) EXP: 78.2%.
{Memorization} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 91.4%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Master, Passive) EXP: 26.2%.
{Running} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 83.9%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Master, Passive) EXP: 51.8%.
{Sneaking} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 46.7%.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 3.2%.
{Throwing} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 96.1%
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.0%.
{Walking} (Master, Passive) EXP: 35.1%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 17.3%

I was currently in some scrub behind a car dealership north of the bypass. There was a strip mall nearby so I headed there to buy another hoodie from the same sports clothing store that I bought the last one from. This time I bought a dark blue one.

I headed west to the highway cross at the new hospital, then south and around to the elementary school. I needed to get closer and pinpoint them a bit more.

As I walked I started timing the how long it took for {Decrease Mental Presence} to change by 1%.

The first thing I noticed was that the old elementary school had apparently been torn down at some point and a new one was being built. The frame of the building was up but the grounds were extremely messy with mud and gravel. A few construction machines were scattered around the edges of the building. I ducked through a gap in the fencing into the yard.

Trying not to sink in the mud I crossed the yard to the south side. On that side the road was shaped in an L as it passed along the front of the building. I was at the corner of the L, with the long section running east, and the short part running south.

A house on the street south from me had 2 cars in the driveway and a third on the side of the street. I could feel the Resonance from inside it.

The sun was already going down when I reached my viewpoint but there was still light enough that people nearby could see me if I hung around out in the open on the construction site.

And I had no clue what the hell I was doing there. I’d kind of went with the flow but forgot to make any sort of plan.

I had no quest. No real chance at storming and defeating what was likely a half dozen people with powers in the house.

Calling the cops from my cell would just give away my number and they might not take it seriously. Even if they sent a car to check it out there’s no way for them to know who has powers. And one or two cops likely had no chance if the people with powers attacked first at close range.

I checked my calculations on {Decrease Mental Presence}. It was going up 1% every 6 minutes. At 48.9% that meant roughly 5 hours and 6 minutes before it hit Grandmaster if I stayed not too far away.

I decided I’d walk around the neighborhood until it was solidly dark. Provided I didn’t go to close I could raise my skill while slowly chewing the kidney beans. The lighters just sat in the bag in my pocket. It wouldn’t be smart to try burning myself while wandering around to say the least.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was close to 9:30pm when I came back to the construction site which was barely lit up by the waxing crescent moon. I’d passed within view a few times over the last hours. The only change was that a new car now was at the curbside. A half an hour earlier I’d felt some of them come back and a few of those at the house leave.

I assumed it was them switching shifts in their searching patterns.

I’d raised my Poison Resistance to 13%, and {Decrease Mental Presence} was at 64.9%. I needed 3.5 hours to reach Grandmaster. Which didn’t feel all that long after 3 weeks of training various things. If nothing else the past weeks had increased my patience level for things other than books and games.

I’d also slowly been able to distinguish between the different Resonances too. Two of the ones I’d learned to recognize left at the shift change. Of the two who came back, I was sure one of them was Shockandrun. The other’s resonance was easy to memorize now that I knew everyone else inside.

The problem was I still didn’t have a plan other than grind {Decrease Mental Presence}. There were 5 of them inside in total, that plus the other 2 meant I now could at least differentiate 7 of the 9 power users.

There was one small thing that had happened that worried me a bit too. As I’d walked the neighborhood I’d twice felt a strange but light mental pressure that was hard to describe.

Each time Psi resistance had leveled up 1% but nothing else happened.

I setup in the deep shadows behind a backhoe where I could see the house but none of the houses had a good view of me and waited to see what I could learn. It wasn’t a good plan, but the only one I could think of.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At midnight the final two I didn’t recognize came back while 2 others went out. This time I was able to see all four even if not very well.

Leaving was a middle aged guy, maybe Asian, along with a younger blonde guy as the passenger.

Coming back was a tall, but otherwise average, brunette and a shorter, chunkier male. I was fairly sure they were the driver and passenger that passed me by in the morning.

A few minutes later {Decrease Mental Presence} had just reached 89.1% on the window I kept up when I felt that strange mental pressure again.

I pulled up my Resistances Window.

Mental
Fear N/A
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Poison 17%
Cold 67%
Electrical 0%
Fire 0%
Light N/A
Pain 47%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 5%

I had time to notice Psi went up another 1% when suddenly I felt the general bloodlust in the house spike up.

I’d felt bloodlust from the house all along but it was mild and not really focused so it wasn’t painful. This was.

It was directly stabbing me and it was clear someone had somehow noticed me. Seconds later other bloodlusts were reaching in my direction. They weren’t as clearly focused on my body, but still in my direction.

I was already standing after the first hit of bloodlust pain. The bag of kidney beans went into a pocket as I started running west through the school yard. There was a small section of bush to my south but it basically connected to the houses back yards and would be a poor choice to hide in.

I didn’t know they found me but it was clear that only one of them could track me. The rest just seemed to know what direction I was in.

The main thing was to not panic, try to get distance so the one person would hopefully lose me, and avoid letting the others get close enough to sense me themselves.

Within a minute I knew that wasn’t going to work. I’d climbed up and over the school’s fence into some kind of industrial area. It wasn’t big with one large building and dirt parking on the east side. I didn’t take the time to try and figure out what they did there, I raced through the property and hopped a fence into someone’s back yard.

I could feel two of them circling the block south of me, two to my east circling that way, and one still back at the house.

Crossing through the yard and across the road I saw the car south of me heading my way.

My body was on automatic {Running}, {Climbing} and {Jumping} while I tried to make a plan. West of me a block was a main road, then industrial area, then mixed bush with houses and industrial areas all the way to the Reservation’s land miles away. The industrial areas were particularly bad though since you could drive onto the large lots and except for some vehicles and containers the line of sight was far longer than residential areas.

North was the highway/bypass and beyond that residential and a few businesses until the hill. East I’d just come from.

South was houses until the downtown business area. I was roughly 8 blocks north and 8 west of where I’d had my arm broken by the construction worker.

I decided to head south. I needed an hour with as many of them within 800 feet of me as possible to grind {Decrease Mental Presence}.

With tons of backyards to cross and {Hiding} to help point out when I was out of sight I had no doubt I could do it. As long as they stayed in their cars and others didn’t come.

Due to your actions you have gained a Resistance.
Panic Resistance has reached 1%.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I still had the breath to laugh since with my stats I hadn’t dug deep into my stamina after a few minutes of running. Checking the resistance window Panic Resistance replaced Fear on the list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the first 20 minutes it wasn’t very hard. Fences didn’t pose a problem to my {Climbing} skill. And with only two cars they could only race to block me off only for me to double back and cross the street behind them.

They could have used the two cars more aggressively but they seemed to be content to just stay near me.

That started to worry me. If they were willing to do U-turns or other illegal driving then things would have been a lot harder. There were a couple times I crossed behind their cars that if they reversed I might have been hit. But the only one breaking any laws was me as I trespassed through dozens of yards.

It was clear they were playing a waiting game. And the mental pressure never went entirely away. I did lose it occasionally when I switched directions in deep shadows only to be found again when I was lit up by streetlights as I crossed to new blocks.

Suddenly I felt two more Resonances approaching. That meant 6 of them were near me. The one left behind in the base never joined up.

It wasn’t long before a third car was in the mix and then it was infinitely harder to keep away. Two of the cars would circle whatever block I was inside while the third tried to block ahead. That was awkward but the main problem was 3 of the 6 got out of the cars and chased me on foot.

One was the tall brunette, the other was the young blonde guy, and the third I couldn’t see but I knew it was the shorter chunkier guy from his Resonance.

For the first time I could start to match their powers to them. The chunky guy was invisible most of the time. Invisible was mostly a useless power due to Resonance and {Sense Bloodlust}. It would be dangerous to girls in locker rooms but not to someone with a power.

The blonde guy though was far more dangerous. When he ran seemed to almost teleport each step. He would take a step and be 5 feet ahead suddenly, next step he was another 5 feet further along.

I still didn’t know what the brunette could do but she was in good shape and while she couldn’t close she didn’t fall far behind either.

With them using their powers it reminded me of the list for the area. My body and brain had been on automatic as I’d moved south through the residential area.

The list I’d had was: Lightning God, Atmospheric Pulse, Poison Fiend, Ice Hand, Shelter, Dominator, Variable Invisibility, High Speed, Time’s Timer, Healing Wind, Light Mind, Distant Viewer, Firebringer, Shadow Forger, Laser, True Light, Air’s Birth, Pathmaster, Punishing Fist, Meteor, Heart of Glass, Garden.

Likely the invisible guy was the owner of Variable Invisibility. The blonde guy likely High Speed. I mentally labeled them Invisdude and Highblonde. It was a bad habit but convenient.

The strange thing was that Highblonde never left the sidewalk or streets. The first block after they jumped out and pursued on foot he was always easily pacing me but never went into the dark between houses.

The problem was with just a few glances at his power as I ran down the center of the block, the long way, I could tell there was no way for me to cross streets with him now around.

I slowed down and fumbled out the bag I’d brought. Ignoring the kidney beans spilling from it I grabbed at the rocks I’d put in the bag and carried all those hours earlier. When I pulled my fist out of the bag I had 4 rocks and a lighter in it. I wasted time throwing the lighter back in while the two behind me slowly got closer.

I put the bag back in, 3 rocks into my left, and headed to the end of the block where I’d have to cross.

Shockandrun along with Highblonde were waiting for me. Stopping in the shadow of a 3 story house I whipped a stone at Highblonde only for him to warp away as he stepped 5 feet towards Shockandrun instantly.

The next rock went at Shockandrun but this time he didn’t run. He reached up an arm and a small area in front of him seemed to pulse out a shockwave that blew the rock off at an angle. Luckily it seemed to blow Highblonde away too.

It was clear they hadn’t practiced fighting together.

The third rock went at Highblonde as he was struggling to regain his balance. This time he didn’t see it coming as it stuck him on the left side of his stomach.

The problem was that the brunette had time to catch up to me as I stood there throwing.

I had time to turn and try to block the arm she reached out with my cast. She grabbed the cast through the hoodie and squeezed hard as she closed her eyes. A blue flash came from her hand and my arm instantly went numb. A cold feeling swept through my body and made my arm shake as I punched her in the throat.

It’s hard to punch anyone in the throat seriously, much less a woman, but I never claimed to be nice when my life was on the line. My full strength wasn’t behind it originally and even less after whatever she did but she still went down.

Chunky Invisdude was still a few dozen feet behind her when I turned and stumbled off at an angle from Shockandrun.

He tried to intercept me but even shaken I was far, far, faster than him.

I heard car doors slam as I ran into the driveway of a duplex across the street. I tried to pull back the arm of the hoodie but it was stuck to my left arm. I could feel with my right arm that the entire arm was cold but I couldn’t do anything with my left.

My left arm just hung there. I couldn’t open my fist with the rock in it. None of my muscles responded. There was no pain in the arm but some in my shoulder and chest. It was clear that the woman had frozen my entire arm.

{Regeneration} had helped my chest and shoulder a bit as I crossed out the other side of the block, but the arm stayed frozen as I dodged one of the pursuing cars yet again. It was clear the driver still wasn’t trying to hit me and he didn’t get out and chase.

The only good thing was {Running} had adjusted my technique for the dead arm but {Climbing} was difficult in spots still.

Both Shockandrun and Invisdude were in one car chasing me. Apparently neither had stayed to help the two I hurt.

The close encounter had several benefits though. {Decrease Mental Presence} spiked up a few percentages when I checked it as I ran. Panic Resistance and Cold Resistance were both visibly counting up when I checked the Resistances window. Panic Resistance was at 23% while Cold Resistance was 94% and going up every few seconds. Psi Resistance had spiked up and reached 17% without me noticing until then.

Less than a minute into crossing the next block I got the window.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Resistance.
Cold Resistance has become Ice Resistance.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I still had no feeling or ability to move my left arm even with the evolved resistance.

We were less than a block from the lake when they got serious. I wasn’t quite sure what my plan was. Each time I went into shadows I lost the mental pressure for longer periods of time but it still found me.

I’d come to the conclusion that the mental pressure was the person back at the house using the Distant Viewer power. With a cell phone the Distant Viewer would be able to guide others to me. I’d made the guess that the power partially used a Psi lock on the target once spotted to follow it. It clearly wasn’t entirely by Psi lock or I wouldn’t lose it in shadows. And if it had only a remote viewing ability with no lock then I wouldn’t have any ability to resist it.

{Decrease Mental Presence} was about to level to Grandmaster but that wouldn’t save me like I’d thought earlier.

I needed to go somewhere they couldn’t follow me.

Passing through the center of the last block, I was now at the lakefront on someone’s private beachfront. Swimming seemed my only solution at this point. I could lose the four following me. I could hopefully lose the Distant Viewer watching me in the waves, especially whenever the clouds covered the moon since there would be no streetlights near.

The main problems were, swimming with heavy clothes is damn tough, and I’d presumably ruin my cell.

Running down the beach across people’s property I was a few hundred yards from one of the public beaches when I thought of the solution. My power was slowly adapting to my needs and desires. All I needed to do was throw all my focus and willpower into one thing as I let my {Running} skill guide me down the lakefront.

I started chanting between gasps.

“Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!”

Two hundred feet later my power responded to my desperate focus.

Do you want to sacrifice 5 in all Basic Stats to convert that power to opening your Inventory Window?
Yes/No?

“YES!” I screamed as I streaked towards the public beach.

You have unlocked your Inventory Window early.
-5 to all Basic Stats

“Help Inventory Window”

Any non-living object on you or in your hands can moved into an unique space at will. Current limit is 2 cubic feet.

I pulled out the grocery bag to test it. Willing it into my Inventory I could see it disappear from my hand only to show up in a ghostly box floating ahead of me.

Next was my shoes and socks. I stumbled a bit as they disappeared into my inventory. The sand and grass felt slightly chilly as I ran along the lake.

A small island about 200 feet offshore was almost parallel to me. I decided to run/swim to it. The lake generally wasn’t very deep even if it was huge. You could often wade out hundreds of feet but it was kind of tricky. The water might be two feet deep, then a few feet past that it would drop to five feet deep, then back to three deep for a hundred yards.

I heard car doors slam behind me as I raced into the surf. The waves were maybe a foot and a half at most deeper in but not very big where I was.

The plan was to get behind one of the trees on the island, grind out the last 2% of {Decrease Mental Presence} and hit any of the bastards in the head with a rock who followed me.

My cell and wallet went into the inventory next as I waded in.

I was almost at the island when the first of them stumbled into the backyards. One of them was shouting into their cell when I looked back so likely the person back at their base told them to stop trailing along the road and go get me.

The rock I pulled from inventory missed but they still took cover.

They let me scramble up onto the island and hide. The island was the largest of 5 nearby. But even the largest was only 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and had 3 trees in the middle. It was still possible to hide where they couldn’t see me but I was easily visible from other angles.

With time to catch my breath I had time to finally wonder why they hadn’t tried to kill me like they had Arsonboy and had actually killed Jason Gagnon along with the constable.

Were they trying to capture me? That would make their actions make more sense.

{Decrease Mental Presence} hit 99.0% and I said screw them to myself. I only needed them to be within 800 range for 6 more minutes. If I started wading out into the lake now I would reach Grandmaster before I was out of effective range.

Slipping backwards into the water I started wading out just as the bloodlust behind me spiked massively. I could feel the stinging pain all over my body as {Sense Bloodlust} kicked in overdrive.

I turned a dived under the water. It was only three feet deep there but I kicked myself down as my instincts screamed at me to get deep. Trying to dig deep into the sandy bottom with my one good hand and anchor myself futilely.

The water exploded with light and pressure and a sudden searing pain in my legs. I was tossed forward by a shockwave and almost tumbled by it. The shockwave forced the breath from my chest as I gasped out the air into the water.

A few moments later I tried to stand and get away only to find I couldn’t stand.

Flipping on my back I reached down with my good hand to try and feel what happened as I looked back.

All I could feel at first was my pants were ripped and torn from the middle of my thighs downwards. Slowly I could feel that my legs were literally missing chunks and my feet felt uneven. At first there was no pain.

As I slowly tried to move backwards into deeper water the pain came as shock wore off. It was incredibly painful despite all my pain resistance and pain tolerance skill.

30 seconds after I was hit a second strike was came. And this time I could see it. Falling from the sky were 4 balls of fire that hit where I was before. I’d only moved a few dozen feet since my speed was crippled and the shockwave threw me another couple feet back towards the center of the lake.

I turned and made the best speed I could for deeper water. I couldn’t walk properly and could only use my right arm but I still swam as best I could when possible.

Another 30 seconds had passed when a third strike came in. Happily I was outside the shockwave range that time.

A fourth, fifth, sixth, and even seventh strike came farther and farther behind but the person gave up. I could only assume that one of them had the Firebringer power.

I could feel them spreading out along the beach either direction. But I was definitely outside their sensing range. I didn’t follow the shoreline though. The mental pressure seemed to have been lost ever since sometime before the third strike. I didn’t notice exactly when it disappeared.

{Regeneration} was busy sealing my wounds still as I kept heading out until I got the notification.

Through use of the skill {Decrease Mental Presence} it has reached Grandmaster level.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 50 EXP.

“Help Decrease Mental Presence”

{Decrease Mental Presence}
Novice – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 5%, must be stationary.
Beginner – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 10%, can move slowly.
Intermediate – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 20%, can move normally.
Advanced – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 40%, can move at a fast walk.
Master – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 80%, can do any actions.
Grandmaster -User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 95%. Requires 20 Willpower to enforce upon the world.
Demi-god – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 99.5%. Requires 70 Willpower to enforce upon the world.

I would have laughed if I didn’t worry about swallowing one of the waves. There was a level past Grandmaster. And it required an absurd 70 willpower. As a plus though with 99.5% reduction in sensing they would need to be within 4 feet of me at Demi-god skill level to sense Resonance.

Now that resonance was down to 40 feet I headed south. It would take a long time with my current body before I was directly west of my house but there was still 4 hours until light.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was exhausted when I reached the point nearest my house. I’d long ago moved closer to shore where it was two feet deep.

It was 3:30am according to my cell. I’d pulled it out when I could safely check it. I didn’t think I was bleeding anymore but I was lightheaded and dizzy.

Between me and my house was a bar that closed at 3am. I was long past the point of caring if some random person saw me staggering past with burned and ripped pants. I mainly was waiting for the police patrols to move away.

They normally patrolled the bar area heavily until a while after they closed. But tonight I’d seen them going by along the waterfront a bunch. Likely at some point our running chase had stirred up some police attention, maybe someone spotted the Firebringer strike. The cop cars were giving off a fair bit of bloodlust.

When the timing was right I slipped up the beach and staggered home. It was impossible to force my feet into shoes. I couldn’t look down without wanting to puke.

Using my Obstinacy titles and every bit of pain resistance I slowly staggered home. The 4 blocks felt like the longest trip of my life. In the middle my last shameful title evolved to Obstinacy IV which helped ignore a bit more pain.

I opened the door, sat in the doorway and ordered Nilla to go outside by herself. It would have been almost impossible a few weeks ago but she went, peed, and ran back.

I closed the door, grabbed some granola bars, pulled myself upstairs and ate on top of my comforter where I wouldn’t stain the sheets with blood. I knew I needed all the food I could tolerate to rebuild.

After 4 bars I turned off the light and fell asleep. It hadn’t been a good day after all.

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