Chapter 24) Streaking for the win.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

I woke up a few times from the pain but managed to get back to sleep, and eventually got up at noon.

It was kind of hard to guess how developed my toes were. They looked not quite full grown but who the hell memorizes how big their toes are? I took a guess that they were 3/4 grown based on how the left ones compared to the right ones.

The other injuries, even the inch deep gouges, were long healed and fresh skin covered the previous deep wounds. Presumably the toes took longer because bone and nerves had to be regrown along with muscles, blood vessels and skin.

It had taken roughly 24 hours to regrow the toes to 3/4 size. That meant I should be able to go hunting around 8pm, after dark, with little or no issues.

The first question was should I try and train something even if it puts me back a few hours. The second was what should I train if I do.

Both questions were easy to answer. I had no particular need to rush out right away, and while the rocks were a good non-lethal long distance attack it would be best to have some kind of short ranged attack.

The {Throwing} skill was excellent since ammunition was everywhere and it was a lot easier to ditch than a weapon. But pulling back my arm to throw at close range left my body open, especially if I stood still to increase accuracy.

I still had no clue how to use my KI and MP but the fact that my power seemed to be responding to my intentions as my willpower and focus increased gave me some confidence. I couldn’t feel either my KI or M
P, but if I could clearly ‘communicate’ with my power I should get some result.

I took Nilla out and made breakfast as I pondered which made more sense to try for.

Magic seemed like it would be harder to focus on one intention. When I started to review all the different systems of magic I’d seen in games, novels, and manga, I was past 50 different types before I even got started. Just the paper RPG game novels I’d read as a kid had a dozen different systems alone.

KI seemed a bit easier to distinguish. While every Xianxia or similar system was different they usually had meridians and dantians.

While I couldn’t ‘look inside’ me like every cultivator seemed to, I did have KI and my power seemed extremely flexible.

So I sat at my desk, browsed a bit about meridians and Dantians and wrote out by hand a fairly common system to clarify my intentions and focus my willpower. I pictured the Dantian as storing power while meridians stretched out from it, like a combination of arteries and veins, to the surface of my skin. They would carry power from the Dantian and distribute it to my body while also letting power from outside flow in.

That seemed a bit weird but was the clearest image I could make and clarity seemed much more important after the example of creating the Inventory Window and other things this last month.

By 1:30 PM I had a rewritten it in short point form on a piece of notepaper along with a simple drawing of a human with meridians and a Dantian at the stomach.

The next step was to sit cross-legged on my bed, settle Nilla so she wouldn’t distract me, then review my notes a few times.

Closing my eyes I started imagining absorbing energy from outside my body through lines running from the surface of my skin to my Dantian. I imagined it filling the dantian then flowing back under control through my meridians to reinforce my muscles, tendons, and skin.

I slowly lost track of my surroundings as my willpower focused deeper on the task.

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

Due to your actions you have gained an Ability.
The ability {Super Ultra Mega Fantastically Weak KI Reinforcement} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.1%, has been created.

It wasn’t the first time I thought my power was sentient and fucking with me. After I’d gained {Night Vision} yesterday at least partly so that I could see how far along {Regeneration} was I now gained another ability.

I didn’t feel like commenting on the name but I was fairly happy I’d learned how to evolve skills. I’m pretty sure as my feelings about that name got stronger it would evolve to a more serious name.

I didn’t want to say the help with that name out loud so I put that aside for later. I still wasn’t able to see inside myself or watch some weird energy flow around but I could feel a subtle energy inside. A quick experiment of imagining it flowing towards my hand seemed to have a response. The problem was that it was so weak I couldn’t quite be sure it wasn’t my imagination.

It was already a bit past 7 PM, over 5 hours had flown by during the trance I sunk into.

I threw the hoodie and a load of other clothes into the washer. I wanted it cleaned so I could use it again tonight. It was a bit damaged but still the damage shouldn’t be noticeable at night.

My toes seemed a bit behind schedule but not much. After pulling out a measuring tape they seemed to be roughly 9/10th’s of my right toes. 11PM seemed a reasonable new deadline.

As soon as 11PM came by I’d be able to go out and search for them while practicing skills.

“Help Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 60.3%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 18.5%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.9%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 38.4%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 75.2%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.8%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 3.1%
{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: 72.8%.
{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: 86.3%

The obvious quick stat benefits would be from leveling up {Running}, {Mapping}, {Memorization}, {Throwing}, and {Will Crafting}. All 5 skills were close to leveling up and with a bit of planning I could likely level them within an hour after my toes were healed.

The next thing was my abilities. {Night Vision} should level just from using it while out walking. {KI Reinforcement} might be a bit tricky but it’s not like I had to call it’s name out loud to use it.

And last was my Resistances. I still had a ton of stuff for grinding Poison Resistance in my inventory space, along with lighters for Fire Resistance. I had plans for Light and Sleep, but Light would have to wait for the weekend. Sleep should be possible to unlock tonight if I stayed up late. Last was the thought that KI Resistance was within reach at least in theory. If I could get a firm understanding of {KI Reinforcement} then some kind of KI projection should be possible, and grinding a Resistance to it also possible.

The other skill I really wanted to grind was {Sense Bloodlust}. The range on that was very large and gave me a lot more safety when dealing with people without Resonance like police. Or when dealing with psychics or others who could reduce their Resonance range like I could.

To grind {Sense Bloodlust} fast at the Master level though I needed to be close to a few people with strong bloodlust directed at me, or near a large number of people with bloodlust in general.

I started trying to sort through ideas for that when I was interrupted by a window.

A quest has been created.
Jailbreak ver 2!
You quest is to stop the Jailbreak between 1AM and 4AM Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015.
Rewards:
1500 EXP, +3 to all Basic Stats for stopping the jailbreak.
Failure:
Possible death.
You cannot refuse this quest.

The rewards were definitely pumped up this time and the wording was slightly different. I had to assume the difficulty or danger of the quest was harder than previous ones too.

The thought popped into my head that being in jail was likely a perfect way to grind {Sense Bloodlust}. Not that I was going to allow that, but having a lot of people angry people around me would work.

That lead to thoughts of sports games. Being at a Blue Jay game or Maple Leafs game when they are losing in front of thousands and thousands of fans would likely grind {Sense Bloodlust} up to Demi-god level, fast.

The biggest games in town were the local team for the Ontario Hockey league. Next largest was likely University or College basketball or high school football.

A few minutes browsing the internet showed various university teams playing games, but more importantly the opening game for the hockey season was Wednesday night. It should be an opportunity to grind some Ice Resistance too if I dressed lightly.

I took Nilla out again and let her run around in dark along the driveway for a while while I sat on the pavement and played a bit of catch with her. I’d been concentrated so much on my RPG Growth power the last few weeks that while I took care of her basic needs I hadn’t played much with her. The last day and a half of recovering was the first really long time we’d spent together without grinding some skill or ability.

By the time we were done it was 11PM and I had time to eat, shower, and finish the laundry before heading out.

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

At 12AM I examined my toes. They seemed full size and while the skin was slightly tender all the pain was gone.

I redressed in slightly warm but clean clothes with the hoodie last. Nilla’s food and water was topped up and then I was off.

Stepping outside felt good. {Night Vision} was activated immediately. I tried activating {KI Reinforcement} and imagining KI energy flowing through my feet into my toes. It was tough to be sure but it seemed to have activated.

Next was {Will Crafting} as I went down my front steps. I infused Fire Resistance into my hoodie, pants, and finally shoes. The result was immediate upon the {Will Crafting} on my pants.

Through use of the skill {Will Crafting} it has reached Beginner level.
{Will Crafting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 7.2%.
You have gained 1 Intelligence.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 50 EXP.

The small windows over my clothes said +10% Fire Resistance for a cost of 1 Psi per min per piece of clothing. Which seemed fairly low but not something I’d quibble about.

I then opened my map and set out running for the mall. I was planning on searching an escape route this time. This time I wanted to take an almost direct route west along the rail line back to the bush near my place.

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

Forty-five minute later I was pretty much done mapping trails behind the mall after leveling up {Running}, {Mapping}, and {Memorization}, which were all close to leveling before. The stat gains were a welcome bonus after having to sacrifice stats the other night.

Along the eastern edge of the mall ran a railway line. The line ran northeast and also southwest across the highway into the woods. I’d used it weeks ago to train but now it was my planned escape path.

North of the railway line and mall, but south of the jail, was some light woods and several winding streets. A number of trails lead through people’s backyards to the mall, likely made by kids and others who didn’t care about trespassing and didn’t want to go the long way to the mall.

I had never walked the trails before so using {Memorization} and {Mapping} to plan a few routes ahead of time while I waited seemed wise. During the previous jailbreak quest I ended up escaping the long way around, and the other day’s escape straight into the lake was even worse.

Grabbing a pine-cone off the ground to finish leveling {Throwing} as I walked was also a critical part of the plan. It was at 98.2% before I started throwing them at various targets like a particular branch or stump.

I wanted to test a theory that I’d gain EXP faster in the skill by picking less aerodynamic ammunition, and trying things like bank shots off one target onto another.

It was really hard to tell though since I hadn’t worked out an estimate of how fast normal throwing leveled. The idea seemed sound though, similar to how practicing bank shots improved a persons game in pool.

In the end I leveled up {Throwing} a bit after 1AM. Leveling up so many skills in just over an hour gave me a light headache, nothing like the crippling pain that happened back when my Mental Stamina was extremely low.

“Help Throwing”

{Throwing}
Novice – Throwing is 5% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Beginner – Throwing is 10% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Intermediate – Throwing is 15% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Advanced – Throwing is 20% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Master – Throwing is 25% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Grandmaster – Throwing is 30% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy. Can slightly change trajectories in midair. Requires 20 Willpower to enforce upon the world.

The help for {Throwing} up to now had been terribly boring and predictable. But after reaching Master I could see the help on the Grandmaster level. And that seemed to be a very nice upgrade.

The image that immediately came to mind was someone jumping up to avoid a rock and me curving it slightly up to hit them in the nuts.

I was more than a bit angry and fed up with these people after days of their shit and tonight seemed a good night to work out some of that anger on them.

I headed towards the jail, crossing through a few people’s backyards as I tried to map at least one good route from the start of the trail to the street out front of the jail.

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

Around 1:15 I was a block from the jail and got my first surprise. The number of resonances I could sense from the jail was fine, but I could feel two others a bit to the east of the jail.

I slowly headed east until I was on the opposite side of the road from the coffee shop I’d previously visited. The coffee shop was set back about 75 feet from the road but with my improved {Night Vision} and the backlighting I could see Firebringer and another man sitting in a booth.

That was a pleasant surprise. I’d really wanted to find him before he found me and pay him back a bit. It might not be fair to blame someone being mind controlled for almost killing me but if I didn’t work off some of this hatred I’d definitely go squirrelly.

Neither seemed in a hurry to do anything, they were just sipping coffee and talking occasionally.

The first two questions that popped to mind were, could I find a good rock for Firebringer, and were they waiting on others to join them? It wasn’t until I started pondering those questions that what should be an obvious third question occurred to me. What was the power of the person with Firebringer?

He wasn’t someone I’d felt before. It was at least possible he was even stronger than Firebringer.

I’d thought on Firebringer’s power before and it seemed reasonable that he couldn’t use his power too close to himself. Even if he was immune to his own fireballs he shouldn’t be immune to things sent flying by the fireballs. For example if he blew up a car in the parking lot of the coffee shop he wasn’t likely immune to being cut by flying glass or metal.

The next step was a waiting game. I could likely throw a rock through the windows and hit one of them but despite my vicious mood there was too many negatives. The window pane could change the trajectory of the rock and let it hit someone else, or even the glass could cut other customers and staff. That didn’t even count that I’d be hurting the business for no reason, especially considering I liked their glazed cinnamon rolls.

Instead I moved into the shadows across the street and waited for them to come out while looking around for a decent rock, or four. Not too big, not too small, just right for Mr. Firebringer.

The pain should break the mind control like it did with the others. In theory I was saving him. I couldn’t make myself believe that, but it was going to be my excuse if I had to explain myself.

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

It was a long wait. I’d found some decent rocks, put on my gloves and even explored a few of the properties of the businesses on my side of the street to help plan getting away even better.

Police patrols were heavy in the area but they had no real chance of noticing me with my {Hiding} skill. I could feel the bloodlust of them prowling around the jail regularly. I imagined that even if they couldn’t see a quest they must know that someone was likely to try a second jailbreak and cleanup loose ends.

It was close to 3AM when Firebringer picked up his phone and seemed to read something before typing a reply. Grabbing their coats they headed towards the exit to the parking lot between us.

Carefully looking both ways, I dashed across the main road to their side of the street while pulling the best two rocks from my pocket and moving into the shadow of a SUV.

They were out the door and a good 10 feet into the parking lot before I wound up and threw the first rock at Firebringer. At that point I was just outside the range he could feel me so the rock was a complete surprise.

The rock caught him square in the stomach. The second rock was on it’s way and a second later and hit the leg of the second man before he’d fully realized what had happened to his partner.

Quickly running at them I wanted one good kick with my KI enhanced foot on Firebringer then I’d let the police pick them up.

It wasn’t until I was standing above Firebringer and pulling my foot back to give him a kick that I felt the bloodlust spike, not disappear.

Firebringer was glaring at me from lying on his back and he was clearly not fuzzy from the mind control being broken. His partner had lost all bloodlust and was standing there confused with a complete lack of bloodlust.

I let fly with the kick to Firebringer a lot harder than I’d originally planned. The original plan was more of a token kick to deal with some of my feelings.

The kick I did was far more, my spike of adrenaline made me infuse all the KI I could into the kick at the last instant as I felt the fear he’d instilled, with the previous fireballs, into me.

I could feel and hear his leg crack when my foot hit his thigh. It spun him like he was break-dancing a backspin.

What happened next though shocked me. I was starting to worry that he would call down a strike on both of us. Instead glowing images started spawning around his head. A blue car, the house they were hiding in the other day, the jail, and what seemed like a youngish blonde girl. Each image was crisp and distinct despite being only a few inches tall.

A quick glance around showed images around the heads of a couple frozen thirty feet away, an older woman at the window of the coffee shop and everyone else I could see nearby with one exception. Firebringer’s partner was standing confused beside us but no images popped above his head.

It was immediately clear that whatever was happening was due to his power. As I was trying to figure out what that power was, Firebringer had stopped his spin and despite what must have been massive pain was reaching in my direction and screaming at me.

As the night was lit up by fireballs falling I turned and ran. The fact that he wasn’t mind controlled threw my entire plan to hell. I’d have to hold him down or even kill him to stop him and there was no way I was going to hold him until the police showed up.

The first strike exploded behind me, mostly missing me but it felt like 1 Fireball hit me. I felt the explosive blast and a strong push. I could feel the clothing I’d enchanted with {Will Crafting} pulling PSI energy from me to resist the flames.

The hoodie, shirt and pants damped down the fire damage to the point where my innate Fire Resistance was able to handle it, with only a bit of a burn.

The problem was apparent a few seconds later. The back of the hoodie, shirt and pants over my ass literally exploded into lint. Somehow resisting the fireball used up the durability of the clothing. Half of the back of my underwear was left but my pants were falling down and the hoodie and shirt were trying to slide down my arms.

Grabbing my pants I kept running.

I could hear the couple screaming in fear as I dashed between the parked cars. Another strike came down but missed by a wide margin. From the corner of my eye I caught the sight of a small car basically exploding as the fireballs ripped it to shreds. I was sure he’d missed so badly because he couldn’t see me any more from the ground.

Using {Dodge} and {Running} I was across the street and running through the back lot of a small engine repair business while more strikes came down far behind me.

It wasn’t until I was a block away that I felt somewhat safe. At the same time though I finally felt more resonances behind me.

It seemed like Firebringer had been coming outside to meet up with others. There was no way they could have reacted within 2 minutes otherwise. My timing was lucky as hell, if they had shown up and more of them were not mind controlled I could have been surrounded in that parking lot.

I felt the resonances starting to split up and head in my direction, but they had literally no chance of catching me.

I had an escape route, they barely had a clue which direction I’d left, they couldn’t sense me, and even if they could they wouldn’t be able to drive their cars through the trails.

There was no way they could carry out the jailbreak now. Not with how many cops were likely responding to the explosion a block away from the jail.

Another five minutes and I was streaking across the bypass at the railroad crossing south of the mall.

Ten minutes after that I was at the exit of the bush a few blocks from home.

From there the only exceptional thing that happened was {Night Vision} reaching Intermediate while sneaking through people’s backyards half naked.

It took close to an hour to cross 3 blocks since I had to wait for no nearby cars at each street I crossed.

At home I checked my burn, which was very light, changed clothes, and took Nilla out to poop.

I seemed to have gotten away safely. At 4:01 AM I got the quest reward.

Your quest ‘Jailbreak ver 2!’ was successfully completed.
You have gained +3 to all basic stats.
You have gained 1500 EXP.

That was followed up by a level up window which I waived away without reading. I really didn’t care about the level.

The most important issues were that some of the enemies were willing participants, not mind controlled, and thereby far, far more dangerous than I thought. I’d only found out the other day that they were likely being controlled and the control could be removed by pain, and now that helpful fact had been crushed along with my hopes to end this all fast.

The other issue was even more terrifying. What images popped up around my head and was Firebringer able to tell anyone about them. I didn’t clue into it in the heat of moment while trying not to die but I doubted I resisted having images of my life float above my head.

Browsing through the list of powers the only one that seemed to match was Light Mind.

There wasn’t too much I could do about it though. I packed a bag in case I needed to run, put my wallet in it in case I needed a hotel, and went to bed after a quick snack.

I felt more rational after having gotten some of my hate and stress out. And I was further ahead, there was no way either of the two would be attacking me anytime soon. I’d deal with whatever happened next as it came.

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