Chapter 12) Self-mutilation is for losers.

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

A sudden barrage of pain woke me up early. I could feel the aggression pouring in through the east windows. By the time I had sat up, and jumped out of bed, the pain had moved to the south wall.

There was a brief moment of resonance and then the pain moved towards the west wall. I quickly threw on some clothes and in my bare feet ran out the door to the window at the south end of the corridor.

The traffic on the bypass was passing by a hundred feet from the window. I tried to flatten my face to see west lane but all I saw was dozens of cars and two transports steadily driving away. None of them stood out from the others as the pain gradually dulled and disappeared.

You have gained 1 Luck.

It the was first time I’d seen my luck go up, and considering I had such a low stat in it I needed it badly.

I headed back to my room after checking the time. It was 6:48AM. Happily my keycard was in the pants I pulled on so I wasn’t locked out.

I changed into some clean clothes even though there was no time to shower and left the hotel. The goal was to get a good block and a half from the hotel and highway as soon as possible and see if the guy came back. I wanted to be outside the resonance range but inside my {Sense Bloodlust} and try to get some information on the guy like what he looked like, car he drove, or anything possible.

I was in this for the long haul, not looking for a fight I couldn’t win yet. The longer I had to train the more skills and stats I could grind. I really wanted to raise {Unarmed Throwing} but walking up to random people and throwing them wouldn’t go over well for some reason.

Joining most martial arts clubs would also likely be pointless since I doubt they would let me walk in and start throwing people either. I tried to think through my options while looking for a good view of the hotel.

A street corner a bit away still gave a decent view of the hotel’s parking entrance so I sat there for good 30 minutes while waiting.

Nothing.

Either the guy was headed somewhere he couldn’t be late, didn’t notice the resonance, or wasn’t the driver, or maybe some other reason. I wasn’t going to bet on him not noticing the resonance.

While I waited I had time to think of what to do if he didn’t show. I decided the morning would be spent training until around 11am. There’s was small chance he might come for me during lunch so I’d setup like this again.

After eating lunch if he didn’t find me I’d try to locate wherever he worked in the afternoon.

I headed back to the hotel and started grinding for strength points for an hour and a half.

Three strength points later it was time for breakfast and the next step in my not very cunning plan.

A department store was about four blocks away so I picked up some swimming trunks, a hooded jogging top and pants. Afterwards I headed back to the hotel to get a new skill and hopefully more stats from gaining it.

A half hour later I was in the pool trying to gain {Swimming}.

Gaining another movement skill was a piece of cake after learning {Running}, {Climbing} and {Jumping}. A headache, large mouthful of water, and coughing fit later I had the {Swimming} skill.

Due to your actions you have gained a Skill.
The skill {Swimming} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.4%, has been created.
You have gained 0.5 Agility.
You have gained 0.5 Strength.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 1 Intelligence.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.

The clock on the wall said 9:47. I had an hour to grind the swimming skill before I had to worry about my theory of him coming back at lunch.

Through use of the skill {Swimming} it has reached Beginner level.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 3.2%.
You have gained 0.5 Agility.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.

“Help Swimming”

{Swimming}
Novice – Swimming is 5% less tiring. Very basic treading water is automatic.
Beginner – Swimming is 10% less tiring. Simple dog paddle is automatic.
Intermediate – Swimming is 15% less tiring. Competent technique breaststroke and backstroke are automatic.

Again, even though I was only at Beginner I could see the next level which was a bit useful in planning.

I took a shower, switched to my new track clothes, ate lunch at the hotel, and downloaded an app over the free Wi-Fi before heading to my viewing spot. Happily I had remembered to pack my sunglasses so I sat down and watched a bit before loading the new app.

One bonus was that apparently a middle aged man sitting at the side of the road on a work day really annoys some people. {Sense Bloodlust} was slowly going up as drivers passed by.

The new app was a simple free memory testing game. Since I’d have lots of time I started grinding {Memorization} while I waited. I didn’t want to waste any of my time other than eating and other requirements of life.

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

Two hours later the sunglasses were in my pocket, an intermittent mist like rain was falling, and I’d leveled up {Memorization} twice to Intermediate.

My patience and mood had dropped as fast as my headache had risen.

While I was already stronger than I started that morning I still had no clues on the enemy.

I started sorting out where he could have went. If he had stayed in the city then if he turned right he was near the new hospital, or up top the hill near the College and University campus.

If he turned left and went south he might be downtown, near the Courthouse, near the Humane Society, or in a small warren of housing near the highway. Or in any spot between.

The left exit was a much, much bigger area than the right since the hill was basically a plateau running along the entire north side of town and not as much was built up top it.

I decided to search the right side exits of the highway first. That side was roughly a mile long strip with a road up to Campus at the far end. If I jogged in a zigzag pattern I could search most of it with {Sense Bloodlust} in less than 30 minutes. Adding on searching the campus and I could be done before 2:30pm. That would likely let me pass 90% or so of the people at that side of the highway.

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

A whole lot of nothing later I had crossed the highway near some of the industrial areas past the Humane Society and was working my way back towards downtown. The area on this side was at least three times bigger but I didn’t have to run up a long sloping road to go up 300 feet so it was a much easier run.

It was almost 4pm and still lightly raining when I felt the resonance. For some reason my {Sense Bloodlust} hadn’t triggered first this time. The neighborhood was a mix of houses, a few regular office buildings, and a number of houses converted to be offices. Traffic was a bit snarled from road construction but nothing else really stood out.

By that point I still had a headache, was damp but not quite soaked from the hours of light rain, and long since lost any patience.

I kept moving forward trying to pin point the resonance. It didn’t seem to match with any of the people I could see but was steadily growing much stronger than I’d felt before.

I was starting to get cold feet and thinking of turning back when the passenger door of a pickup 20 feet from me blew off into the sign for a lawyers office.

A maybe 25 year old man wearing jeans, t-shirt, and an orange safety vest sat up and climbed out of pickup. He was still wiping the sleep from his eyes as he turned to me.

“Motherfucker,” was all he yelled as he jumped towards me in a single bound.

It was all too fast for me to run or even jump out of his way. A nearby older woman with faster reactions than me was already screaming as he landed in front of me.

{Sense Bloodlust} shot a pain to my face.

Whipping my face to the side as fast as I could I dodge a fist that might have crushed my skull if it hit.

Due to your actions you have gained a Skill.
The skill {Dodging} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 4.2%, has been created.
You have gained 0.5 Agility.
You have gained 0.5 Strength.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 1 Intelligence.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.

He had already pulled his fist back and was throwing his entire weight behind another punch, this time to my chest, when the {Dodging} window popped up and the headache hit.

I barely got my left arm in the way of the punch before his fist hit it and crushed it into my chest. With a crunch, and massive pain, I was sent flying for the first time in my life. Landing on my ass more than 10 feet back I was already sure I’d had another first, my first broken bone.

A second woman had started screaming as he closed on me.

“This is for burning my house down,” was his second shout.

He pulled his leg back as through he was trying to kick my nuts into the distance and let it fly at me.

Dodging to my right my chest shot sickening pain into my brain as he missed and fell backwards from the strength of his own kick. It was obvious again that he wasn’t used to his super strength as he flopped onto his back.

I scrambled to my feet and started to run. Ever breath hurt my chest but there was no way I’d try to keep fighting.

{Sense Bloodlust} was going insane and hit Master as I ran. I ignored the window while the pain was barely a blip compared to everything else.

The pickup door flew by so close I could feel the wind.

Despite all the jogging my {Running} hadn’t reached Master, because I hadn’t done any very challenging running, but my recent agility and strength gains had improved my running speed.

As I bolted down the street I ran into driveway and started crossing through backyards to cut across blocks while activating {Sneaking} and {Hiding} to try and break line of sight from him. Resonance might tell him in what rough direction I was but the farther I got the bigger the errors would be. And if he had to go around a block I might be out of resonance range before he made it.

The pain in my chest and arm started to diminish as it spread across my body similar to how it had in workouts. Even with one useless arm I was up and over most of the fences in moments with {Jumping} or {Climbing}.

By the time I was three blocks away from where we fought I could feel him from {Sense Bloodlust} only. I didn’t stop running and headed away from downtown and my hotel towards the new hospital. I really didn’t want to check in there since there would be questions from the Emerg staff and maybe police. Being linked to the fight with the construction worker would likely get my name in the paper or news and I needed to avoid that.

I was most of a mile away when I slowed, found a quiet shaded spot where I was out of view and looked at my arm. The track suit had a red stain halfway down my forearm.

The bone in my left arm was snapped and one piece was poking out through the skin slightly. There was blood slowly leaking from that while the skin was flushed and discolored in a 4″ band around where he hit. My chest had the start of a large bruise and what I was guessing was a cracked or broken rib or two.

With my adrenaline starting to fade the pain was mounting only for me to get another window.

Through use of the skill {Pain Tolerance} it has reached Intermediate level.
{Pain Tolerance} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 5.6%.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.

I quickly checked my Pain Resistance and it was up to 8%. I still felt like someone had beaten me with a 2×4 all over my body even if my arm and chest hurt no worse.

Trying to set my arm was basically impossible for me. There was no way I wanted to try doing it while relying on YouTube instructions from my phone or something silly like that.

I decided to sit there a bit and let {Pain Tolerance} and my pain resistance level up. The bleeding was barely a trickle and the longer I could put between my going in to the hospital and the fight, the better I could pass it off as a jogging accident or something. Especially if I tossed my jacket and just wore my t-shirt and jogging pants to look different than any eye witness views. I doubted anyone had a good glimpse of my face with the hood up.

Over the next half hour I went through what happened. I assumed he was taking a nap while waiting for a ride or to drive someone or some other reason. The few words he spoke obviously meant he mistook me for someone else. And almost certainly someone with resonance that he didn’t previously get a good look at. So somewhere around the city there was another power user, maybe with a fire ability but obviously willing to burn down a house just from feeling resonance in it.

The pain from my arm was distracting so it slowed my thinking down but being sure about all the implications was important. I’d gotten my ass kicked with no real ability to fight back because I was impatient.

By the end of the half hour my {Pain Tolerance} was at 35.8%, and Pain resistance hit 10%, when yet another window opened.

Due to your actions you have gained an Ability.
The ability {Regeneration} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.2%, has been created.

It took a moment for me to process that it was first time I’d seen that window. I thought it was a skill window at first, but it said Ability and there were no stat bonuses.

“Ability window” got nothing.

“Abilities window” got nothing also. I assumed I needed to unlock a few abilities before I could see the list.

Next I tried “Help Regeneration”.

{Regeneration}
Novice – Heals small scrapes, cuts and bruises at 2 times users normal rate.
Beginner – Heals cuts less than 1/4 inch deep, deep tissue bruising, small bone cracks, and 1st degree burns at 4 times users normal rate.

That was dramatically different than my skills which seemed mentally based.

I had a flash of insight that made me wonder how I could have been so dumb all along despite all the intelligence upgrades. I’d done help on a number of skills and the new ability but never the basic windows.

“Help basic stats”

Basic Stats are primary physical and mental stats that Advanced stats are derived from.

“Help skills”

Skills are mental constructs that control your mind or your mind’s control of your body at the lowest level. Higher levels affect the universe.

“Help quests” and “Help advanced stats” gave nothing.

However, “Help abilities”

Abilities are physical powers that adjust your body’s parameters. Higher levels go far, far beyond human limits.

Thinking about the help messages and the new Ability {Regeneration} made the difference clear. Abilities were things that affected the body instead of the mind. It might even be possible to get a {Superhuman Strength} one that went beyond human even at mid levels. Whereas Skill based Strength would be focusing my strength and leverage to the max, at least until the Grandmaster level that I saw mentioned in {Walking}.

The problem was that Novice {Regeneration} seemed essentially useless for the injury I had. It was slowly going up but since it was only closing the wound where the bone poked slightly through and my bruises at 2 times speed it would take days just for the lightest damage to heal. And the bone or my ribs wouldn’t be fixed until it leveled up.

In the 10 minutes I had running through different windows and ideas {Regeneration} had only gone up 0.1%. I wasn’t sure if it would hit Beginner unless I waited for hours.

And that’s sadly when I had my second brilliant idea. I took my jacket, rubbed the blood stain on the arm in some mud to hide it, and headed to the drug store 3/4 of a mile away.

I bought a 2 dozen protein bars, 4 large elastic bandage wraps, a package of pins, a pen knife, and some scissors, then headed back to the hotel.

With the increase in my {Sense Bloodlust} range I didn’t care if he came at me. I’d sense him before he reached the hotel or resonance range. Likely he was dealing with the police or on the run with his coworkers being questioned.

I stripped down to the buff in my room, grabbed everything I bought and headed to the bathroom. Sitting with my feet in the tub I wrapped my left arm up to hold the bone from moving too much and then started on my idea.

I slowly stuck pins into my upper thigh on both legs, high enough that if it left marks they would be hidden by shorts.

{Regeneration} started gaining EXP faster.

Ignoring all windows I slowly marked up my skin with pinholes, then cuts from the knife, that went deeper and deeper, from 6pm until 3am. The only breaks I took were to eat, since I needed my right hand to hold food, and to wash off the blood.

At 3am I was too tired and dizzy to continue. I cleaned myself and collapsed into bed.

Fuck my power. Fuck losing the fight. I refused to check my progress as I drifted to sleep.

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