Chapter 23) Calm before the steel-toe buttkicking

Monday, September 21st, 2015

A window was waiting for me when I woke.

Due to your actions you have gained a Resistance.
Infection Resistance has reached 3%.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I had slept for less than 2 hours when the pain, and the gross feeling of lying in wet clothes, woke me again. The biggest blessing from this power was the fact that it distributed the pain across my body instead of crippling pain in one spot, but even so I felt like I’d been beaten across every inch of my skin and my bones were cracked.

Careful of how I moved I threw the granola bar wrappers into the garbage by my bed and started stripping down to see the full extent.

My pants came off easily, but the hoodie was still partially stuck to my arm. Pulling it off was possible unlike the night before but skin came with it in spots.

Under the hoodie my left arm was cool but not frozen like it initially was. The cast was cracked in multiple spots and there was bruising up into my shoulder.

It was impossible for me to tell what happened inside my arm but I was fairly sure I had a lot of tissue and even bone damage from the Ice attack.

I’d avoided looking at my legs for the longest time, the brief glance I’d taken last night was enough to turn my stomach.

I was missing three toes on my left foot, burn craters going to the bone ran all the way up my calves to my knees. If the skin hadn’t regenerated while in the water I clearly would have been staring at bone instead of fresh skin. Large chunks of muscle were missing and the flesh on my right knee was gone down to the bone. I couldn’t feel any tension in my left Achilles tendon.

It was clearly impossible for a normal human to walk with that much muscle, and likely tendons, missing. The walk the previous night was a blur now but I could only assume my power held my body together enough to make it home.

The first step was clearly pain pills. I basically had 3 different things helping with the pain already, Pain Resistance, {Pain Tolerance}, and Obstinacy IV, but being clearheaded as possible was a priority.

Using the walls I pulled myself to the bathroom and sat on the toilet cover while I ate a couple ibuprofen.

Staring at the bottle I had an idea a bit late. I took a third pill and tried to concentrated my willpower on it.

A window popped up.

Temporary Pain Pill.
100% Pain Resistance for 1 hour.
-5 Psi/min to Creator

All I could do was laugh after I ate it. I took advantage of the pain relief to smear my legs with disinfectant, to help with infection, while I thought.

If I’d had unlimited time to grind all my skills then last night would have turned out far differently. Though if each of them had unlimited time to grind their powers up to maximum it might have gone far worse too.

They were also clearly trying to catch me, not kill me until the very end. If the guy with the Firebringer power had used that when I was crossing the open street between blocks I doubt I’d be alive now. Maybe I would have dodged some of it, but with others blocking me I would eventually have been burned to death far before I could get any kind of Fire Resistance built up.

Even the Ice Hand power could have killed if she’d frozen my head. It took hours for my resistance and {Regeneration} to get back even limited use after she touched it for a moment.

{Regeneration} had been stuck at Advanced level every since it healed my broken arm, but I was fairly sure rebuilding my body would bring it to Master level. The first question was would I need it to be Grandmaster level to heal everything or not.

“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.
Intermediate – Heals serious cuts, bone cracks, and large 1st degree burns at 8 times users normal rate.
Advanced – Heals all stab wounds into muscle/skin, almost completely broken bones, and 2nd degree burns at 16 times users normal rate.
Master – Heals minor organ damage, resets and heals broken bones, 3rd degree burns at 32 times users normal rate.

The burns covering my legs were clearly 3rd degree burns in the deepest spots with 2nd and 1st degree burns along the edges.

The main question was, do toes count as minor organ damage or not. I had a bad feeling that they would take Grandmaster or even Demi-god level regeneration.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see the progress level of {Regeneration} since it was my only Ability. I needed to create another ability somehow and soon. If {Regeneration} stalls after healing everything but my toes I wouldn’t know with the way things stood.

The clear goal of the day was healing and gaining a new body based Ability somehow. Preferably one that would help if I ran into another situation like Sunday night.

The phrase ‘armies study how to win the last war’ came to mind but I wasn’t sure I could even guess at what future fights would be like. The variety of powers out there made things too uncertain.

I slide down the stairs on my butt and grabbed some more granola bars and a water jug before heading back upstairs to my bed. I grabbed a hair dryer as I passed the bathroom, plugged it in beside the bed and let it try to dry the large oblong wet spot on the comforter while I sat and ate. I wouldn’t bother with the sheets below the comforter.

Besides getting enough calories into myself to help {Regeneration} the next step was sorting out the aftermath.

“Resistances Window”

Mental
Panic 36%
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Poison 17%
Ice 42%
Electrical 0%
Fire 4%
Light N/A
Pain 59%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 24%

I’d gained a bit of Fire Resistance from the attack but not much since the damage was done so fast. But Ice, Pain, Panic, and Psi resistance had all went up a fair bit compared to Saturday. I never did get a chance to unlock Light or Sleep Resistance but Sunday night didn’t exactly go smoothly.

I’d hesitated to open up my Character window since it had taken a hit when I created the Inventory window but meh.

“Character Window”

Class Explorer Level 2
EXP 2550 Next Level EXP 3000
HP 197/220 MP 280/280
Physical Energy 310/310 Mental Energy 760/760
Psi 306/350 KI 190/190
HP Regen 3.52/min MP Regen 0.28/min
PE Regen 0.31/min ME Regen 0.76/min
Psi Regen 0.35/min KI Regen 0.19/min
Title: Obstinacy IV
Agility 14/14 Hand-Eye 12/12
Intelligence 35/35 Luck 2/4
Mental Stamina 70/76 Physical Stamina 27/31
Strength 19/19 Vitality 22/22
Wisdom 28/28 Willpower 23/23
Titles available:
Obstinacy IV, Polyglot I

I didn’t regret the 5 point cost to create an Inventory Window but I was definitely a bit weaker in most ways. There was two surprises though.

The first was that Willpower didn’t drop. I’d assumed it was based upon Wisdom since I’d noticed it went up a bit every full point in Wisdom. So I thought it would drop but apparently not.

The other was that I had 2/4 Luck. 4 was still more than I’d started with but I’d never seen Luck being used up like that.

Checking Skills was next to see where they were at.

“Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 60.3%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 18.5%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.7%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 38.4%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 75.2%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.8%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 99.9%
{Jumping} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 61.2%.
{Knife Fighting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 2.7%.
{Mapping} (Intermediate, Active) EXP: 88.6%.
{Memorization} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 91.5%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Master, Passive) EXP: 70.3%.
{Running} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 99.9%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Master, Passive) EXP: 62.7%.
{Sneaking} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 51.4%.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 76.3%.
{Throwing} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 98.2%
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.0%.
{Walking} (Master, Passive) EXP: 38.5%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 26.7%

The shiny Grandmaster {Decrease Mental Presence} obviously drew my eyes first. But after that I scanned down the list and spotted the two skills at 99.9% which confused me.

I could understand one skill happening to stop at 99.9% but two seemed unlikely.

I wasted 20 minute of my pain free time trying to come up with a theory of why those would stop at 99.9%, especially {Running}. And the only theory I could come up with was that my power was reinforcing the power up of {Decrease Mental Presence} as a priority even over running. Since I couldn’t escape by just running away, I needed to lose the others.

I’d slowly been realizing that my ‘RPG Growth’ power wasn’t quite what I thought it was originally but I started to wonder if these powers were fundamentally different than people seemed to think they were even on the site.

My power seemed to draw from my mental state on how it developed. Presumably I had one major advantage over most of those with powers. I could see how my power responded to me while they just had feelings or guesses.

Why didn’t I gain a {Cooking} skill? Or for that matter a {Cleaning}, {Vacuuming} or even {Mopping} skill from work?

My guess was that my power had somewhat realized I didn’t want to develop in that direction. Now that my willpower, and perhaps intelligence, was higher it seemed to respond better. Thinking back even those titles were likely because my willpower and mental clarity were too low, leaving my power partially confused on why I was so happy as my skills went up. Normally my brain was all over the place with no clear direction.

Sorting through that used up most of my Psi energy and a lot of the hour the will crafted pill gave me. I decided to sleep while the pain was gone, recover PSI and then create another pill when I woke.

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

The familiar pain of a window woke me about 4 hours later at 11am.

Through use of the ability {Regeneration} it has reached Master level.
{Regeneration} (Master, Passive) EXP: 2.6%.

Checking my Character Window again gave me:
“Character Window”

Class Explorer Level 2
EXP 2550 Next Level EXP 3000
HP 198/220 MP 280/280
Physical Energy 310/310 Mental Energy 760/760
Psi 306/350 KI 190/190
HP Regen 7.04/min MP Regen 0.28/min
PE Regen 0.31/min ME Regen 0.76/min
Psi Regen 0.35/min KI Regen 0.19/min
Title: Obstinacy IV
Agility 14/14 Hand-Eye 12/12
Intelligence 35/35 Luck 3/4
Mental Stamina 76/76 Physical Stamina 31/31
Strength 19/19 Vitality 22/22
Wisdom 28/28 Willpower 23/23
Titles available:
Obstinacy IV, Polyglot I

My HP Regen had doubled, and my Luck had recovered a bit back to 3/4. My current hps had gone up slightly but obviously there was some cap caused by the wounds or it would have reached max in a few minutes.

I will crafted another pain free pill and took it.

First up was calling and telling my boss I needed Tuesday off, I told him I’d hurt my back again and while I could work I’d likely be crippled for days.

The call went fairly quick and he gave me until Friday to recover. I trusted him and could have told him the truth about everything but what he didn’t know, couldn’t be read from his mind. I felt like I was getting a bit more paranoid every day but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Next up was opening the door to let Nilla out to pee. She was more than capable of doing it now without supervision. I didn’t have to worry about her running off.

I took a brief shower, smeared more disinfectant while trying not to look at the fresh skin in the craters, and started cooking a ton of food. I wasn’t quite starving but the hunger never went away for long while I was regenerating.

There was no sign of the 3 toes growing back but already there was some tissue between my skin and bones. What had been bone barely covered with skin now had a slight amount of sponginess when I touched the wounds.

All the while I was pondering abilities like super strength or speed but I had the instinctive feeling that those were too powerful. That if I tried to create them my RPG Growth power would essentially halt any progress at all.

That ‘feeling’ opened up more questions. Could powers themselves be warped by their users? If someone had say an ‘Ultimate Ice Skating’ power could they warp it to be say the ‘Ultimate Hockey Player’ power?

It was a silly example but I felt there was a System behind all our powers. Trying to find out what rules it had might be easier for me than most even though I was far from having any good answers for my questions.

Thinking on the previous night though there was only one ability that easily came to mind. The ability to see in the dark. I’d stumbled a number of times when I couldn’t see the ground ahead. The combo of flawless balanced running from {Running} and instant memorization of the train ahead when I did have some light helped a lot, but couldn’t perfectly help in shadowed areas.

I could have run a lot faster if I hadn’t had to avoid shadowed areas. Normally when being chased those shadowy areas would have helped but not with Resonance guiding other power users.

What I needed next was a way to make it clear to my power or the System behind it what I wanted to do.

Sitting in a closet trying to read a book in the faint light coming through the crack above the door felt fairly childish. I’d blocked the bottom crack with a towel so only a small bit of light was coming into the closet.

Almost 20 minutes of straining my eyes, that could barely see I was even holding a book later, and the usual pain showed. Not terribly surprisingly the pain seemed mostly focused on my eyes until it slowly spread across my body.

Due to your actions you have gained an Ability.
The ability {Night Vision} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.2%, has been created.
You have unlocked the Ability window.

“Help Night Vision”

{Night Vision}
Novice – Allows the user’s eyes to collect 5% extra light.
Beginner – Allows the user’s eyes to collect 10% extra light.

“Ability Window”


{Night Vision} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.2%.
{Regeneration} (Master, Passive) EXP: 21.5%.

{Regeneration} seemed to be grinding fast even after reaching Master level. Perhaps because I mostly wasn’t using my other powers, even gaining {Night Vision} didn’t take long. Or because my injuries were so bad.

The three toes though didn’t seem to be growing back. The stubs of them seem to have just sealed over.

It was a bit before noon when the day’s plan seemed fairly clear. To avoid grinding most of my skills and try to concentrate my power and reach Grandmaster {Regeneration} as soon as possible. Toes are good to have.

At exactly 11:59 my cell alarm went off. I’d set it earlier so that I didn’t sleep in past the noon regional news. Today was the first day the courts were open since WannabeThor had been captured at the jail.

I logged into the new channel on my computer and started to watch. Even though the regional news covered a few cities the case was first on the show.

The summary of the appearance before a judge, the lawyer’s statement and the police was:
– WannabeThor’s name was Richard Mathews and he had a fractured jaw…
– He claimed to have confused memories of the previous 2 weeks, but couldn’t deny the two killings
– He had been reported missing by family a bit over a week ago

City police also reported during an interview that two people were found wandering the western part of the city with confused memories early in the morning. Both had powers and had been missing for days from roughly the same area as Richard Mathews.

I went and made another pain pill after that. I needed a clear head.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that those 2 were likely the two I hit, Highblonde and the brunette with the Ice Hand power. The chance of two other people coming into town and wandering that area was low.

It could be two different ones of those chasing me, but all of them were still chasing me until 3am. I could occasionally feel them in the distance before I came out of the water and made my way home.

The things that the three of them had in common was they had confused memories, were missing a while, and I hurt them.

Sadly I actually considered for a moment whether I had the power to confuse people I hit but that seemed extremely unlikely since no skill or ability showed that. I’d wondered more than once when all that extra Intelligence stat would kick in.

Mind control was the next thing that came to mind. If someone had a mind control ability that would explain why they disappeared and perhaps why their memories are confused.

The question was if that was true, was it pain, or shock or something else about the fights that broken the control.

My evil inner child kind of liked the idea of hitting people with a rock from 300 feet to ‘save’ them. But without knowing what other factors were involved it was hard to go on a rampage and save people.

Not including that I could barely walk even with all my pain control. Walking too while overriding the pain would likely rip the healing areas to shreds too.

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

The obviously suspicious one was Dominator. I couldn’t quite rule out Light Mind and Heart of Glass though. Anything with Mind was suspicious, and Glass reminded me of how easily pain seemed to break people out of the control.

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

Hours went by with endless tail chasing speculation, brief naps, and steady healing, that was only broken when I felt 3 familiar Resonances off in the distance. It was a bit after my 6th meal of the day at 8pm. I’d first felt some strong bloodlust’s off in the distance but that wasn’t uncommon after I hit Master level in {Sense Bloodlust} so I wasn’t suspicious until they reached Resonance range.

It was Shockandrun, the Firebringer guy, and what I was pretty sure was the resonance for the Distant Viewer, moving along the waterfront to my west.

Moments after I felt them my {Increase Mental Sensing} leveled up.

Through use of the skill {Increase Mental Sensing} it has reached Advanced level.
The skill {Increase Mental Sensing} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 0.1%, has been created.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 10 EXP.

I’d been using 800 feet as the rough range of sensing Resonance even though I’d never been able to measure it. Advanced {Increase Mental Sensing} gave me an extra 40% range, which meant 1120 feet. A bit less than a quarter mile.

What was interesting, besides the fact that they didn’t go back to their jobs, was that the road along the waterfront only connected with the rest of the roads at certain spots due to the train tracks downtown.

For the first time I was able to estimate the full range of my {Sense Bloodlust} and it was apparently affected by the {Increase Mental Sensing} 40% too. That would make it’s range around 2240 feet. If I could learn to distinguish particular bloodlusts like I can with Resonances, I could identify people at even longer ranges.

So far I’d never really felt a special ‘fingerprint’ to the bloodlusts but that didn’t mean I couldn’t evolve my power slightly to do it.

There wasn’t much I could do about them searching for me other than stay hidden. If they did come along my side street I could hop the back fence into the neighbor’s yard and avoid their range but that was less than ideal, especially if it happened during daylight.

About my only other option was leaving the city. I wanted to avoid going to the police if at all possible. Even if the government didn’t seem to have any plans for people with powers yet, I didn’t want anyone knowing about me.

The backlash caused from the fighting all over the world was swiftly bringing hatred and jealousy out in the open from large sections of the population. Those that didn’t already think we were tools of Satan thought it was unfair and too many of the people with powers were acting badly. Even the pastor with the ability to heal in the US had been harassed with death threats.

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

A bit after 10pm I got the next window.

Through use of the ability {Regeneration} it has reached Grandmaster level.
{Regeneration} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.

It seemed incredibly fast for a Master skill to level up, but I was trying to avoid splitting my power. The extent of the injuries this time likely helped too.

The toes stubs felt itchy. The next pain pill was will crafted to ignore itchiness too even if it cost an extra .5 Psi/Min. I really didn’t watch to interrupt any healing, if it wasn’t just in my head.

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

At 11pm I was on meal #8, and I can’t count how many trips to the bathroom, when I sat down to watch the evening news to see if there were any more developments. The 6pm news was just a rehash of the noon show plus things I didn’t care about.

The police tactical unit had raided a house, around 7pm, on the west side of the city after interviewing the 3 people with powers. Backup from local and provincial police was involved. They didn’t find any of the other power users there. A dead body believed to be the owner of the house was found. They weren’t releasing details but a source had stated to a reporter that the person had been dead for several days.

I didn’t know what to think. Had they killed the owner of the house to get a base? What the hell is wrong with renting rooms at a motel? If they were living there after then there’s a ton of DNA and fingerprints there.

It didn’t make sense. All of the behavior seemed self-destructive in the end. Why kill the guy in the hospital and his police guard? Why try and kill or lightly electrocute Arsonboy, whichever it was they planned? Why kill what was likely a normal person instead of brainwashing him?

Again, thoughts and plans chased around my head for hours while I healed.

I still avoided learning any languages or other skills I could work on at home to concentrate on {Regeneration}. But I spent time browsing the Researcher’s site on powers. Nowhere did I find answers to my thoughts on how powers work though. I didn’t even find any of my personal questions. Just miscellaneous theories by people about aliens, gods, and time travel.

By the time I went to bed at 3am {Regeneration} was at 7%, the toes were a bit longer, and I’d decided that tomorrow, when I was fully healed, would be a good day to go hunting.

Last time I ran into them I had no plan and they could find me. My Psi resistance was up, my {Decrease Mental Presence} was leveled. They wouldn’t know I was there until I hit them.

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