City map

While I’m not exactly keeping where I live a deep secret I’d still prefer not to name it. But here’s a map of the areas used in the story for those interested. If you do recognize the city please don’t name it.

A quick note: The curved road just south of the University marking actually rises a couple hundred feet. The roughly top inch of the map is much higher than the rest of the city though it doesn’t show well in this pic.

 photo 8d71d91e-2326-4b34-9ddc-211a1d2af03f_zpssmaxseha.png

Edit: added police station and hardware store

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.

21) 50% less Shameful

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

I woke a bit after noon with the dog sleeping on top of the pillow beside my head. Trying to avoid waking her I started planning what to do before and after work. I’d had a few thoughts last night on the long tour of the city but I needed to gel them into a plan.

One thing was clear, I didn’t really see most of these people with powers as anything but clowns. It wasn’t that I was smarter or stronger than them exactly. It’s that they didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves now that they had a power.

The two new guys last night showed up outside a prison, low security though it may be, without an attempt to hide. Getting a power didn’t make you some superhero or supervillain. Even if you had a power that could kill anyone you can see, it wouldn’t stop a sniper, a guided missile strike, or even a simple booby trap on your car.

Keeping low profile was the most basic of ideas and none of the one’s I’d met, even Crystal, seemed to get that. She mostly was low profile because she didn’t realize she had a power until the day I told her. I expected her to be on some TV show with trained animals as soon as the idea occurred to her.

I was also pretty sure the lightening guy aka WannabeThor and his friend, who I’d already nicknamed Shockandrun, were trying to kill Arsonboy last night. It’s possible that WannabeThor was charging to electrify the fence after Arsonboy escaped but I doubted it. Unless he continually applied a current, or had some similar skill, it would just dissipate into the ground.

But at the same time Arsonboy was clearly expecting them and escaping towards them. So he must have thought it was safe.

I’d spent hours going in mental circles after the jailbreak attempt trying to figure out possibilities and still had no answers. Maybe the police had some answers by now but I doubt they were handing them out. I’d check the news later but I expected a brief section with no mention of motives. WannabeThor likely had a broken jaw and wasn’t going to be explaining things too soon.

In the end the facts were simple. There were several hostile people with powers who might escape and attack. They might have more friends. Even if we were hours north of the 95% population band there was still a few hundred thousand people within a 2 hour drive, meaning 20-30 powers. Within a 4 hours drive there was over 2 million people which meant 200+ people with powers.

Presumably most of them didn’t want to fight anyone. But I couldn’t rule out that whoever or whatever is behind these powers is subtly encouraging it with higher aggression levels. There’s already rewards of greater strength in your power if you fight others. And last week they added the map so you could see how many others had powers in various ranges. Checking the map took a bit of concentration but last night after I was clear I found 6 people with powers including myself.

I guess the next step was double checking that.

I closed my eyes and tried to visualize the map. It made my spine tingle in a way my own power didn’t. Trying to control the map wasn’t hard but it felt cold and foreign in a way I couldn’t describe.

Nine. There were nine people with powers in a 50 mile radius now.

Fuck the dog sleeping, I reached out and texted Crystal a warning about the situation and got an acknowledgement back. The dog was awake and unusually she seemed to be paying attention to what I was typing on my phone. I doubted she was anywhere near close to being able to read but it was definitely a sign she was getting smarter.

I had memorized all 1427 powers in the province and their locations. Many of the minor towns weren’t familiar but sorting through the ones I knew were near I had a rough list of powers nearby at the time the list was made. If someone was in Toronto or on a trip somewhere while the list was made they wouldn’t show I assume so I couldn’t fully trust the list.

The list I made, excluding the original 4 of us 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.

The chances that the Lightning God power belonged to WannabeThor seemed high. And Atmospheric Pulse was likely Shockandrun. Many of the other powers weren’t very clear at all.

For example Poison Fiend could mean anything from being able to create poisons, to breathing it out or even having blood that’s poisonous to others.

After last night I understood that even if I thought of WannabeThor and Arsonboy as clowns their powers were still serious ones. So the obvious step seemed to be to reduce the usefulness of their powers before I saw them next. If they were determined to escape I doubted the prisons could hold them long. That was especially true if they got outside help.

“Resistances Window”

Mental
Fear N/A
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Cold N/A
Electrical N/A
Heat 13%
Light N/A
Pain 33%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 2%

I should have started on Heat resistance grinding as soon as I found out the arsonist actually had a fire based power but minutes later he was caught by police so I’d shelved it.

The first three resistances, Fear, Forced Mental States and Insanity I had no clue how to train. I doubted scary movies or books on Cthulhu would work. Sleep resistance I could likely train by not sleeping until I got it, then staying up to grind it longer. It seemed useful in the long run but in the short run the tiredness and mental fatigue would mess with everything else.

Cold, Electrical, Heat, Pain were clear enough. Light not so much. Would staying outside at the beach give it to me before I got skin cancer?

KI and Magic I still had no clue with. But Psi had gone up to 2% from 1% at one point. Maybe from Nilla pestering me in my sleep? Too vague to make a serious guess at really.

One that didn’t show up was Poison. With someone like Poison Fiend on the nearby list that seemed important.

I went downstairs, took the dog out, made some toast and started researching poison resistance along with looking up easy sources of electricity, heat and cold to grind with. I needed something cheap, immediately available in town and could work for hours.

The research led to Mithridatism, along with the fact that it’s mostly fake. Ingesting most poisons slowly over time just meant a fatal dose built up in your body. There seemed to be a few exceptions like possible resistance to snake venoms but it’s not like I had rattlesnake poison easily available. Drinking some poisonous material under the sink didn’t seem the best way to start. I needed something mild that wouldn’t send me to the hospital…and I really wanted to avoid puking up my lungs too.

Searching through links took a while but eventually sent me into a detour. There were therapies designed to build immunity to allergies by slow exposure. A chance link in there lead to something that actually seemed useful.

Apparently some hikers would chew parts of Poison Ivy to build an immunity to it. It was an allergic reaction but my power seemed at least somewhat amenable to how I think of things. Evolving {Increase Mental Sensing} to be a passive skill instead of active showed that.

After I’d decided on getting some Poison Ivy things went fast. I memorized the look of various Poison Ivy types using {Memorization}. With that I could use {Identification} to find it in the nearby woods if it existed there.

Heat, I could use my space heater. For Cold I had an ice pack for injuries over the years, all I had to do was pick up a few more so that I could rotate them through.

Electricity was a bit harder, sticking a fork into a socket was a good way to wreck the socket and was a bit of an overkill. Same with a tazer stun gun if I could even find one in town. The only practical example of electrical shocks I could think of was those buy zapper lanterns you can buy. Researching them though gave an even better solution, the tennis racket type electrical bug zappers. One of the chain hardware stores sold them.

So my shopping list was: 3 Ice packs, a tennis racket bug zapper, and lots of rechargeable batteries for it. If I brought some gloves and a plastic bag with me I could try to find Poison Ivy on the way back by detouring to the woods.

A quick shower and I was on my way around 1:30pm. I told Nilla I would be gone for several hours which was a regular ritual, but for the first time I felt like she partially understood.

I had until 8pm before I had to be at work so I had a few hours of grinding available after shopping if the Poison Ivy didn’t take long.

While walking I pulled up my Character Window.

Class Explorer Level 2
EXP 2020 Next Level EXP 3000
HP 230/230 MP 325/325
Physical Energy 280/280 Mental Energy 790/790
Psi 394/400 KI 240/240
HP Regen 3.68/min MP Regen 0.33/min
PE Regen 0.28/min ME Regen 0.79/min
Psi Regen 0.4/min KI Regen 0.24/min
Title: Polyglot I
Agility 19/19 Hand-Eye 17/17
Intelligence 40/40 Luck 9/9
Mental Stamina 79/79 Physical Stamina 28/28
Strength 24/24 Vitality 23/23
Wisdom 32.5/32.5 Willpower 23/23
Titles available:
Slightly Masochistic, Not So Slightly Masochistic, Moderately Masochistic, Seriously Masochistic, Polyglot I

Walking along I started testing my hypothesis from the previous night.

“Help Level”

Level is an indicator of your relative strength.

“Help Quest”

A task with a reward in power strength.

I’d looked briefly at the text both them before but I hadn’t paid any real attention since they seemed reasonable. But now the help on them stood out a bit.

The normal definition of ‘Quest’ is the search or pursuit of a goal. Like the quest for the Holy Grail, or a quest to find a killer. There might be items at the end or knowledge but they weren’t given as rewards, they were found or truths realized.

The ‘Help Quest’ text though mentions ‘task’ and ‘reward’. Meaning it’s given by someone and rewarded by someone, or maybe a system. But that meaning of Quest is similar to modern games definition of quests.

The ‘Help Level’ text says it is an indicator of ‘relative’ strength. Similar to how a thermometer is an indicator of temperature.

If my power reaches a certain level to unlock something, that had nothing to do with formal ‘Levels’. It explains why I didn’t gain stat points or HP’s or anything in particular when I level unless something else happened like when Escape Capture completed and I gained a bunch of power.

The scary part though was the danger the Quest system implied. One, that something was handing out quests to fight. Two, that it could possibly read our minds depending on how it knew when the construction worker had decided to capture me. And three, that others were likely getting something like Quests. Since I didn’t see a message on the site’s FAQ about Quest windows, or voices telling them things, it was likely unconscious hints.

The last part was what I’d wracked my head over and extended my walk the night before. I doubted I was being given information that no other person with a power was. I think my power was just displaying it to me unlike most others. There were bound to be others with powers that let them clearly see the information.

I tried to think through all the implications of that as I walked to the store and shopped.

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

I picked up what I needed with less than $70 for the one bag worth of stuff. It felt expensive but being able to resist various power attacks was easily worth the price. I was fairly confident it would work since Heat and Pain resistances weren’t too hard to get weeks ago.

Heading to the woods I decided to browse local news. That late in the afternoon I figured they should have something about the prison jailbreak attempt by now. It was a bit awkward finding the local news on my phone since I had to browse through a few pages with one hand.

The top news wasn’t the jailbreak attempt.

The top news was the death of Jason Gagnon in the hospital where he was recovering from a second surgery for complications from the gunshot wounds the other day. He and one of the two Constables, Steven Couchie, were electrocuted at roughly 2:30am by assailants. One of who was believed to be in custody from the failed jailbreak attempt.

The first death, and of someone who directly attacked me. I was also the one who basically swatted him. If he wasn’t shot he might have been able to fight or at least run, or even been behind bars where he was safer. It’s not like I forced him to fight the cops and get shot, but still it was hard to know what to feel.

There weren’t many details beyond that since the police were keeping a lid on details. But they were asking for the public’s help in finding a person they had a security camera picture of. It was definitely the Shockandrun guy.

They were also warning that people who had a power see the police for protection before more fighting broke out.

I immediately texted Crystal the link then hurried towards the woods. Using {Running} I was at the woods in minutes.

I started running through every small trail of the woods, jumping up on any outcroppings and scanning the area. It took an hour and a half before I found enough Poison Ivy to fill the extra bag I’d brought. There were two types spread over a small area. It was a bit tricky not to get any on my arms while pulling them up with the gloves I’d bought the other day but was going smoothly when a blue window from Nilla popped up.

I didn’t even know she could do that. There were still way too many unknowns.

Explorer’s Pet ‘Nilla’ wishes to add map information.
Yes or No?

“Yes”

The city map that I’d used {Memorization} on popped up inside a window. Near my house were two blinking dots. They were both moving southwards at either a run or a slow car’s driving speeds. One was an end of a block to the west, the other 2 ends to the east.

It was obviously a grid search for Resonance. Nilla had the {Sense Bloodlust} ability but it wasn’t leveled so the only thing she might sense a few hundred feet away would be Resonance. I didn’t know she could even sense it before now but it was the only thing that made sense. I’d never felt Resonance from her so she was safe.

At least I now had a clue why the Explorer Class required a pet. A question for later was what else Nilla could do.

Something else occurred to me. If Jason Gagnon was dead then of the 9 powers this afternoon at least 4 were new and 2 were the ones I ran into last night likely. 5 of them were free to search for Crystal and me.

I watched the map as they passed by my place and continued south while my hands kept squishing as much Poison Ivy as I could into the bag. After a bit the markers disappeared off the map and I was finished harvesting.

I was about a mile southeast of my home in the woods but I headed to the nearest edge instead of directly home.

I texted Crystal to close her store and head to the OPP station along the bypass. The Ontario Provincial Police had a station in town about a half mile west of the jail. It served the roads and some of the towns too small to have police stations around us. They had a lot more resources than local cops and could help her get to other cities if need me.

She was reluctant since her mall would fine the company for closing early but not being dead was yet again more important than money. When texting didn’t work I switched to calling her. After a few minutes she agreed, and agreed not to mention me to the provincial police. I headed home at a fast walk after that.

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

I got home a bit after 5pm. First up was taking the dog out and eating as quick as possible. I quickly threw in a microwave dinner and let Nilla pee. The cold packs went into the freezer beside the one I already owned.

Ordering Nilla up onto my chair I set up on the ground in my office. First would be Electricity. I unwrapped the tennis racket shaped bug zapper and put some batteries in.

I turned it on and slowly reached out to touch it briefly with my other hand.

ZAP! And it hurt just like I expected it to. It was worse than the static shock you get when you touch a doorknob but it didn’t seem that much more. That might have been {Pain Tolerance} and Pain Resistance though.

Gritting my teeth I kept at it. Repeatedly shocking myself again and again. It wasn’t the first time but I wished my power was a bit less painful overall.

After roughly 20 minutes and a few hundred shocks I got the window as my skin crawled and muscles spasmed.

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

I checked my Physical Stamina immediately. It was down 10 while the cap went up, 18/29. So the cost was similar to learning new skills. Likely the fact that I didn’t have much Physical Stamina was what put me down when I gained the 2nd Resistance that night 2 weeks earlier. It also meant I couldn’t gain more than 1 more Resistance without resting or I’d pass out.

One other problem was the window said Static Resistance not Electrical. I pulled up the Resistances window.

“Resistances Window”

Mental
Fear N/A
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Cold N/A
Static 1%
Heat 13%
Light N/A
Pain 36%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 2%

Electrical Resistance was definitely replaced by Static. Which was more than a bit confusing but maybe my power was adapting to my thoughts again?

I left it alone since an answer didn’t seem forthcoming and switched to my bag of Poison Ivy. I really, really hadn’t been looking forward to it. But an Itchy tongue and sore throat would be alleviated a lot by my pain abilities and unlocking it now would give me a chance at resisting any poisons in the future.

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

And I don’t think I’ll ever describe in detail that small slice of hell other than to say itchiness is apparently different than Pain so my skill and resistance didn’t help much.

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

Again a Resistance I didn’t expect though this one made more sense since it was an allergic reaction. Kind of disappointing but it would help with my minor allergies. I still had almost 3/4 of a bag of Poison Ivy left too.

The problem was it was 2 hours until work and I was down to 8/30 Physical Stamina. I couldn’t gain Cold Resistance without a nap. Or I could gain it along with a forced nap after it knocked me out.

So my choices were grinding Heat, Static or Allergy. Or a nap before work.

I choose the nap. I might have a run in tonight with someone so being refreshed wouldn’t hurt. I could grind after work. I set my alarm and laid down to sleep with Nilla after hiding the Poison Ivy away. Just because she’s smarter didn’t mean she’s smart yet.

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

Woke up from the nap with a text from Crystal waiting for me. The OPP were going to help her and in return she would be a trainer for their K9 units. They might ask her to use Resonance to track criminal power users too. That didn’t sound entirely safe but I assumed they would assign bodyguards if she was helping track as a civilian.

I sent a text telling her to keep contact between us a secret and left for work. My Physical Stamina had recovered to 17/30.

I had a 4 hour shift which went fairly smoothly. There was only one disruption when a few Resonances passed by a street over around 11pm. I guessed they were heading somewhere in the north since they weren’t spread out or going slowly. I couldn’t guess how many there were but one felt a bit familiar. If I had to put money on it I’d say that was Shockandrun.

About a minute or two later Nilla updated my map with 7 Resonances marked in three clusters in line passing briefly through the far west side of her awareness.

If Nilla’s 7 was right then they had been reinforced again. I found a quiet spot and tried to summon the what the web site called the World Power Map for a second time today. It showed 11 powers in the 50 mile area.

Things were definitely heating up.

The rest of the shift finished smoothly. It felt dangerous to go home but not too much. With {Decrease Mental Presence} they could drive by on either side of my block and I’d still be outside their range. Only if they drove down my side street would they feel me. If I could just level it up once more then I doubted they would feel me more than 20 feet away.

I got home, took Nilla out. I wanted to make a quick snack but since it might end up in the toilet during Allergy Resistance training it didn’t make sense to eat first.

First up though was gaining Cold Resistance. I went all in, grabbed 2 cold packs and stuffed them in my underwear.

15 minutes and possible frostbite later I had it.

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

Physical Stamina was down to 7/31 while Physical Energy was at 200/310. Unlike Stamina the Energy regenerated at a point every 3 minutes that if I was sitting or resting.

Now was the time to go absolutely nuts. I had roughly 5 hours to grind before I’d need sleep. Trying to add Sleep Resistance training in now would only leave me crippled tomorrow but was definitely another goal.

So, I grabbed a fresh cold pack while returning the current 2 to the freezer.

I turned on the space heat and putting my left foot almost touching the ceramic mesh. Stuck a cold pack in a place that didn’t want it. Put my right heel on the mesh of the bug zapper and used the weight of my calf to push it’s button down. That left one hand to hold the Poison Ivy bag and the other to feed it to me with a glove.

I was a pain machine for 4 hours with only breaks to change ice packs or bug zapper batteries.

There were two important updates though in that timeless misery.

Heat Resistance, which had a head start on all but Pain Resistance, was the first to reach 99% near the end of the training time.

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

The cost for that was 5 Physical Stamina, leaving me with 2/32. Not enough to upgrade another Resistance but I kept working at it for a while longer since none of the others seemed to be too close to 99%. They were all rising much slower.

The second update was split into two windows and was far more gratifying.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Title.
Slightly Masochistic has evolved to Obstinacy I.
You have gained 10 EXP.
Due to your actions you have evolved a Title.
Not So Slightly Masochistic has evolved to Obstinacy II.

Help Obstinacy II told me that it allowed me to ignore 10% of pain, discomfort or distraction while focused on any task.

Losing those two titles and the prospect of losing the others in the future was definitely worth it.

I safely packed up everything, cleaned up the splatters around the toilet, and took Nilla out one last time before bed.

Lying down I checked my Resistances one last time.

“Help Resistances”

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%

20) Don’t let anyone see your butt at the city jail or … it will hurt

Friday, September 18th, 2015

I woke, fairly refresh, at 11:40 when my cell alarm went off. The dog was calmly waiting for me while lying on my pants. She had dragged them over to beside my head. I took that as her attempt at being subtle in wanting to go outside.

After taking her outside I started breakfast while trying to plan the day. I had a 2 hour shift, then a few hours to do my shopping and eat supper, then work again until 12:30am, and the jailbreak quest started at 3am.

There really wasn’t much time to train and I was still lacking one piece of information. Was the jailbreak from the police jail, or the city jail? That wasn’t a particularly hard question to answer but I needed to go slightly out of my way to check while heading shopping.

The police station was about 3 blocks north of the direct route from work to the main mall. And the city jail was about 4 blocks northeast of the mall. Since I could detect the resonance from a bit more than a block currently I didn’t even have to come into view to tell which one had a person with a power in it.

I was hoping the jailbreak was at the police station though. It was closer to home and I really didn’t know the area around the city jail at all. I’d went near the city jail while searching the other day for the construction worker but that didn’t gain me anything more than basic knowledge of the area. In contrast I knew every laneway and street around the station, including a lot of good hiding spots.

Putting aside speculations I still had almost 2 hours to browse the site I found the previous day. First up was committing to memory all the powers of those in my province, Ontario, in the second section of the web site. There was around 1400 people with powers in the province, many of them listed as being near small towns I didn’t know. Adding on that I knew most of the names of the small towns near me but not all them, then I could roughly sort which powers were near me.

I wasn’t sure that helped a lot but knowing more never hurt. Apparently the powers weren’t updated regularly so some of them might be dead or have moved. Just adding 1400 power names and locations to a database once likely took a lot of time, updating it regularly was likely too much to ask when they still hadn’t finished adding in all of North America much less other continents.

I wasn’t really interested in the first section’s news stories of fighting or ‘superhero’ groups forming in general. I did want to search for local or regional events but that could wait a bit.

The most interesting section was the FAQ in the third section, the science/research section. It was created by Researcher, one of the two owners of the site, based on what people knew or strongly guessed.

It still took over an hour of skimming of reading the FAQ and some expansions of questions in separate links to get an overview.

The first interesting thing was that not only was each power unique but most seemed to be linked to something in the person’s past. A made up example was used.

Take 4 different people with fire related powers. Two had their houses burned down as children, one of them with serious burns. A third was a childhood fan of a hero who could turn to flame. The fourth was an arsonist who became fascinated with fire at 19, a late age for an arsonist.

The one who had his house burn down but, escaped safely, became a firefighter and recently gained the power to dampen flames, but not start them or anything else.

The one who was burned as a child gained an ability to be immune to fire but nothing else.

The third gained a power to cover himself safely in flame and is mostly immune to other fires.

The arsonist gained a power to create fire, and change it’s color, but isn’t even slightly immune to flame.

The FAQ went on to state that each power seemed to be wish fulfillment but not consciously so. Each person they interviewed wanted the power badly, or was fascinated by it, at some point in their life.

Because of that there were quite a few dark powers related to assassination, rape, theft, mind reading, stalking, peeping, etc..

On the positive side there were many people who had wanted their parents to get over a disease, or injuries, so there were a lot of variations on healing powers out there.

There were psychics, martial artists, magic users, and many more that were impossible to understand with current science.

Finally, everyone’s power started weak and slowly grew stronger the more they used it. What was interesting was that fighting each other seemed to raise it much faster than normal. Which gave me a theory on how my Quest and Level stuff actually worked. One I don’t want to write until I’ve finished the Quest tonight, since I should level if I’m successful, and had a bit to brood on it.

Beyond that most of what I saw made sense from my experience. RPG Growth was likely picked for me based on all the games, thousands of novels, and daydreams over the years. Which lead to one question the web site couldn’t guess at answering.

How did we get the power? Everyone that had contacted Researcher and Psychicchick that had any kind of detective or psychic skills was unable to find any clues or hints on it. Maybe someone who hadn’t found the web site had a clue but hadn’t released it. The two of them, plus their volunteers, had browsed dozens of theories given out by various people with powers in interviews but nothing stood out as useful.

Most people with a power were no more reliable at guessing than my coworkers who had guessed God, Satan, aliens, the CIA, vaccinations, and growth hormones in animal feed so far. Plenty of religions, special interest groups, random celebrities were talking out their asses on TV at how they had the absolute answer. Which made me even less interested in the news media section of the site.

I’d run out of time so I grabbed the 4 books to return to the library and headed off to work.

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

Work was boring and over fast. I thought of doing at least one set of the strength raising circuit but time was tight.

If I hadn’t been running late I could have dropped the library books off on the way to work, but running late hadn’t changed upon getting a power.

On the way home I dropped off the 4 books, picked up Hindi, Italian, Korean and Portuguese, dropped those 4 at home and headed to the mall.

I picked a route that passed about a block away from the police station and sure enough the police weren’t kind enough to jail the fire guy near me. I still didn’t know his name since I didn’t read up after they released the two names so I’ll call him Arsonboy from now on. That leaves Asshat as my nickname for the construction worker.

I really didn’t like how they had disrupted my life. It had already gotten complicated and painful enough with just gaining the power.

Passing the station I kept heading northeast past the mall. Just under two blocks I felt the Resonance from the direction of the City Jail. Considering how much I had decreased my presence I decided to walk past it and up a side street.

What was interesting was the Resonance felt a bit distinct. I hadn’t noticed in any of the previous adrenaline filled interactions with the two but after being near Crystal for hours I could feel that each Resonance was somewhat unique. I couldn’t compare it to how distinct someone looked or sounded but it did feel different somehow. It was worth considering later if I could tell people apart from a distance or not.

The jail was at the roughly southeast corner of an irregular shaped block. The north and west sides had a row of trees with houses beyond, the east side was a minor side street, and the south side was a main street running roughly west to north north east.

It was fenced in, maybe 100 beds and I’d guessed would count as a low security prison serving mainly the regional courthouse. I didn’t think Arsonboy would have any trouble burning his way out through a wall and the wire fence if he wasn’t being watched.

The problem for me was all the cameras. There would be dead spots created by buildings nearby but if I wanted to be close to react to the jailbreak then I’d risk being filmed even with {Hiding} helping mark things.

As I walked by {Hiding} was showing me dead or low coverage areas. But that didn’t mean that he would break out in my direction. If I was on the east behind a building there’s no reason he couldn’t break out to the northwest through the trees into the residential area.

I turned down the side street leading north away from the mall. I wasn’t particularly slow, or acting weird, but I was memorizing everything I saw to make it easier that night. The street turned a bit farther in so I wasn’t in view of the jail anymore. At that point I circled and headed to the mall. The side trip had taken a good thirty minutes of my limited time.

I hit the mall, grabbed a few things I needed like latex gloves, and paper towel, then I hit the grocery store. A freezers worth of frozen dinners, chicken burgers, hamburgers, and various other items were quickly picked up and I was on my way home in a cab.

I dumped it all in the fridge and freezer, took the dog for a quick walk, ate a frozen dinner, and was off to work again. I’d barely worked in everything I’d needed.

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

Work went smooth. People were discussing Arsonboy vs. Asshat and other stuff so it was hard not to throw in a few nasty remarks about the two. But resisting temptation is a virtue or something.

I was off like a shot to home at 12:45am and Home by 1am. I had 2 hours to grab a snack, prepare a plan and be in place.

My skill set was fairly limited though so there wasn’t much to plan.

“Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 58.2%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 7.9%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Master, Passive) EXP: 46.0%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 8.8%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 43.7%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.6%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Beginner, Active) EXP: 32.9%
{Jumping} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 4.7%.
{Knife Fighting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 2.7%.
{Mapping} (Intermediate, Active) EXP: 40.6%.
{Memorization} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 91.4%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Master, Passive) EXP: 26.2%.
{Running} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 78.3%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Master, Passive) EXP: 48.5%.
{Sneaking} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 36.8%.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 3.2%.
{Throwing} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 94.4%
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.0%.
{Walking} (Master, Passive) EXP: 34.8%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 17.3%

My only distance attack was {Throwing} but it was at a level where I was very accurate and if I was careful it couldn’t be traced back to me.

The one regret I had was that I had a ton of Magic, KI and Psi but no abilities that used them other than talking to mammals. At no point had I suddenly felt KI rushing from my dantian or magic aching to be released so I still had no feeling or clue how to use them.

I grabbed a few latex gloves, a couple sheets of paper towel, switched to some darker clothes, which was hard due to my mostly light colored clothing buying habits, and headed out.

I had one last stop along the bypass. I searched along the ditch for decent rocks. Each one that seemed about half an egg’s size and roughly round I picked up with gloves and put on one sheet of paper towel. I used that to wrap it them.

It was almost impossible for me to eliminate any DNA off the rocks, even if I was wearing gloves some hair or something might fall. But making it harder to find never hurt, and the less there was the more likely it would scrape off if the rock hit the ground or something. Wearing gloves was a bit risky though so I brought several pairs. The first pair I stored in a zip pocket on my jacket so I wouldn’t lose them.

By the time I got to my Resonance range it was a quarter to 2am. I still had a bit over an hour so I headed east of the jail to a coffee shop that was roughly outside my sensing range. Grabbing a couple donuts I sat outside at the outer limit of my Resonance range. I wanted to grind {Increase Mental Sensing} a bit and try an experiment.

There was no reason that {Increase Mental Sensing} had to be an Active skill when {Decrease Mental Presence} was a Passive. Since skills were some kind of mental construct in my head I should be able to change them it seemed. Since my skill was RPG Growth then shouldn’t I be able to grow the skill any way I wanted?

I wasn’t sure if I was trying to convince myself that or really believed it. But I felt strongly that my frame of mind interacted with my power to create skills.

I decided to go with the same mental image I’d used for {Decrease Mental Presence}. My mind was represented by a mostly sunken rock whereas Arsonboy was a big rock at the edge of view making large ring shaped waves. That wasn’t too much different than when I first got {Increase Mental Sensing}. That time I imagined myself at the edge of the pool with my hand in the water feeling the waves.

This time I just calmly pictured the waves washing up and occasionally over my rock. I didn’t have a hand to reach out and do anything. Instead I passively just felt the Resonance waves coming in. Slowly the waves seemed more defined, sharper. They didn’t grow larger, but I could feel them better.

Weirdly I felt like the waves then suddenly grew much larger. Pulling back my mental viewpoint I looked towards my rock icon for Arsonboy’s presence only to see two other rocks creating massive waves as they rushed towards us. The extra practice from sensing them must have put me over the limit since I suddenly saw the blue window and felt the pain.

Due to your actions you have evolved a skill and it has reached Intermediate level.
The skill {Increase Mental Sensing} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 0.7%, has been created.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.

The pain from the skill leveling woke me from the trance I’d been in. A quick, entirely reflexive, check of my stats showed I was down 13 Mental Stamina, the cost was the same as creating a skill plus leveling one.

I couldn’t see who the two new Resonances belonged too from where I was almost two blocks east of the jail though.

I checked my cell, and was surprised to see it was 3:57am. I’d been in that trance for roughly two hours.

First things first, I moved into some shadows, pulled on a pair of gloves and started running to my preferred hiding spot a 150 feet northeast of the jail. There was a good shadow there that let me see most of the north and east side of the jail.

I got there as two people stepped out of a dark green car on the side street east of the jail. It wasn’t particularly easy to see them from my angle without stepping out, but they didn’t seem at all worried about the cameras. One seemed thin, tall, and blonde, the other a bit older and even taller with dark hair. I couldn’t make out their faces from the angle other than they seemed white…maybe. They had parked at a really bad spot from my point of view.

They simply stood beside the car doing nothing in full view. That wasn’t exactly suspicious and there was only occasional cars along the road south of them. But neither looked at anything other than the jail.

A few minutes went by when one of the doors facing them started to glow a bit around the handle. It wasn’t hard to guess what that was. Moments later a piercing alarm was going off as the door was flung open.

I grabbed a few rocks with my left, picked a favorite with my right and got ready to bean me some escaping convict points. Picturing it as a game helped release a bit of the stress of coldly targeting a person. A rock could kill if I was unlucky.

By the time I was setup and ready to throw, Arsonboy was already at the fence and starting to melt it nearest to the two waiting men. I was going to try and hit him in the leg or stomach as soon as the fence was melted. I wasn’t sure if I could throw at the other two. They hadn’t ever done anything to me and even if they were helping him I wasn’t sure what to do. Maybe try and damage the car windows so they would easily be spotted/stopped by the police?

The tall blonde guy stepped away from his taller friend and towards the fence just as Arsonboy was about to break through. As Arsonboy grabbed the fence to try and push and shake the melted parts to the ground, the blonde held up a hand to the sky. Lights started going around the top of the building, lighting up the yard.

The hand slowly seemed to glow at first. Then small sparks came off like one of those lightning generators you see at a science exhibit. Arsonboy was busy with more melting and glances at the building where the alarm was peeling so he didn’t notice. So far no one had come out of the building.

A guy slowly charging lightning. Another dumber guy holding a metal fence. And a third guy ready to do who knows what. It wasn’t a complex scenario to figure out what was happening next even if I had no clue why.

The first rock was fired and took WannabeThor on the side of the jaw. I’d been aiming at the side of his upper chest facing me but I didn’t regret it.

The second rock missed Arsonboy when he turned to face a shout from the building’s exit he came from. The third hit him in the ass and knocked him sprawling.

The taller dark haired guy was already reacting even though the three rocks took less than four seconds to throw. A massive shockwave blasted out from him in all directions. Even if I’d thrown a rock it wouldn’t have gotten close.

What was weird was he didn’t seem to care that the shockwave flipped his car one way and tossed his blonde friend into the base of the fence because of the angles. He was off and running south away from me with continuous shockwaves blasting out. When he reached the edge of the main road he cracked a hydro pole in half just by running near it.

Looking at the prison, the guards rushing out, the 2 men on the ground, it was clearly time for me to go. I was off like lightning to the northeast away from town. It was a few blocks to the base of the ski hill and running up the woods along it as sirens wailed in the background.

It was more than worth taking the long way around even if it meant it might be two hours before I got home.

Along the way I got the notification I’d expected.

Your quest Jailbreak! was successfully completed.
You have gained +1 to all basic stats.
You have gained 500 EXP.

Followed by a second window.

You have reached Level 2.

The windows seemed to confirm my theory on how the quests and levels worked but I decided to try and do some internet searches to confirm my theory the next day.

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

It took until almost 6:30am before I was home. I’d circled north, then northwest to near the college, then came back home. It was likely overkill, and I was exhausted, but being safe was worth every minute.

I took the dog out, and slept the instant my head hit the pillow.

Fake Side Story #2

Fake side story set in I Shall Seal the Heavens this time.

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

Meng Hao flicked his sleeves as the last of the Heaven Defying Spirit Pills flew from his cauldron into a bag. He had spent three months creating them ever since he ‘gained’ the formula from another alchemist.

His eyes glinted as he looked at the bag of the Cosmos. It had been almost six months since he last checked in on the Blood Mastiff. The Blood Mastiff had been slightly stirring in his sleep at that time.

Pulling the blood-colored mask from the bag of the Cosmos he poured his Spiritual Sense inside.

A strange expression immediately appeared on Meng Hao’s face, as though he didn’t know if he should laugh or cry.

Inside the blood-colored mask he could see the Blood Mastiff had woken with its full power. However it had shrunk nearly back to its initial cute size from the start of the Blood Immortal Legacy tournament.

The first shocking thing was that a white dog, with brown markings, that he had never seen was also in the bag of the Cosmos. Even more shocking was the four red and white puppies that were playing around the Blood Mastiff and white dog.

Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed as he started thinking of ways to make Spirit Stones from it all.

19) Doggie Training Days Part 2

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The dog was calm for once when I woke up just before 11am. No running around the bed, no fiercely wagging tail, or whines. Instead she was just curled up watching me.

I projected an image of her outside and she was off the bed and running down the stairs before I could even reach for my clothes. That much hadn’t changed at least. As I went to take her out I checked her stats.

“Pet Character Window”

Name Nilla aka Vanilla Poo Level 1
HP 50/50 MP 20/20
Physical Energy 80/80 Mental Energy 80/80
Psi 30/30 KI 30/30
HP Regen 0.05/min MP Regen 0.02/min
PE Regen 0.08/min ME Regen 0.08/min
Psi Regen 0.03/min KI Regen 0.03/min
Title
Agility 5/5 Hand-Eye 3/3
Intelligence 3/3 Luck 8/8
Mental Stamina 8/8 Physical Stamina 8/8
Strength 3/3 Vitality 5/5
Wisdom 2/2 Willpower 10/10
Charisma 10/10
Titles available:
Owner of Food Slave

She had gained a few points in almost every stats. The two that stood out though were her Intelligence tripling to 3, and her Wisdom doubling to 2. Both were still low compared to me but I wondered what her limits were.

After I took her out I texted Crystal a time and place. It was 2pm at the edge of the bush I’d trained in before. There was a small piece of city property that used to be made into a small skating rink each winter when I was a child. Now it’s just a small fenced in lot alongside the bike path.

Basically the street went downhill to dead-end at small park, past that was the bike path that ran along a creek, then on the far side of the creek the rocky outcrops sloped up a good 30 feet. The rocks stepped up in 2 to 3 foot levels similar to the side of a pyramid so there wasn’t any climbing challenge even for kids but it was a fun area for them to play in.

First thing though was preparing a pack again. I put in everything the same as last time except for a couple changes. This time the shade would be two old blankets with no sticks. And I brought a bit more food so I could share.

After packing I still had an hour and a half left before meeting up. I’d left that on purpose so I could start researching things I hadn’t had much time to look at before.

I tried looking for overviews and scientific reports on the powers first. There was very little useful hits on the searches at first. Most of it was guesses or bits and pieces of information. It wasn’t until I found a volunteer site a few pages down in the searches that I hit gold.

The site was just a few days old and had been born from a blog that started the same day I got my power. Since the blog and the following site were new they didn’t show high up in search engines but they had an amazing amount of information.

The about section of the site stated that the two people running it had powers themselves. They had nicknames, Researcher and Psychicchick. They didn’t explain what Researcher’s power was, but Psychicchick’s power was able to identify people’s power using some type of clairvoyance. It didn’t say if that was her actual power, or just a byproduct of her power.

The site had 3 main sections run by various volunteers. First was a daily news section that linked to various news media reports. Second was a slowly growing list of powers associated with most cities in North America, including mine. And third was a list of links to scientific research or speculation on the powers.

The first was something that could be browsed endlessly since there was hundreds of additions per day in a wiki style format. There was links to articles on superhero groups forming, a few wannabe supervillain ones, and a lot of publicity seekers who tried to get multiple news outlets to cover them each day.

The second section was of more interest to me though. It listed all 4 of our powers as being in the city. And listed several surrounding towns and cities with the powers of people there. A city an hour and a half west that was twice the size had 11 people with powers listed. The most worrying ones were ‘Dominator’ and ‘Laser’. I wasn’t likely to run into them but still those didn’t sound good.

Listed for my city was ‘RPG Growth’, ‘Projective Telepathy – Mammals’, ‘Thermal Projectile’, and ‘Psi Strength Enhancement’. The first two were obvious enough and the third seemed reasonably clear. The fourth one was obviously the power of the construction worker and seemed curious. It seemed to imply his strength wasn’t physical but using psychic power to either enhance his strength. It was somewhat interesting, but since he was in hospital it wasn’t urgent.

The most important part was that people could find out my power, and I could possibly look for people’s powers I wanted to buy, or trade for. Similar to how I gained Crystal’s power, except most people aren’t anywhere near as trusting as she is.

The third section with all the speculation and research links looked interesting but, like the first section, it would take hours to sort through.

By the time I even lightly touched on various sections of the site though it was almost 2pm and time to go. I grabbed the pack, put the leash on the dog and made my way to the park.

Crystal was already waiting when I got there. The plan was for her to play with the dog and using her power teach it some tricks, help it train a bit, and generally let the two of them have fun. I planned to run some of the trails through the bush and swamps beyond the park.

I setup a resting shelter from the two blankets for them using the corner fence spot.

Temporary Makeshift Shade.
+1 to all Regens.
-6 Psi/min to Creator.

Yesterday I’d learned it only cost me when someone or something was using it. Today I wanted to test out how far away I could be before it failed. With that information I could plan different ways to use the skill.

After explaining the shelter to Crystal, who seemed to accept it like the sky was blue, I started across the bridge over the creek only to be stopped by a window.

A quest has been created.
Jailbreak!
You quest is to ‘Prevent the Successful Jailbreak’ between 3am and 5am Saturday, September 19th, 2015.
Rewards:
500 EXP, +1 to all Basic Stats
Failure:
Possible death or discovery.
You cannot refuse this quest.

…I didn’t know how to retort to a window other than WTF!?!

First of all what’s with all the ‘You cannot refuse this quest’ stuff, why not call it ‘Demands’ not ‘Quests’? Second of all, how come these quests seem to know far more than I do and have specific times? For example the first quest ended at exactly 12:34pm. Now suddenly I knew the prisoner would try to escape exactly in a 2 hour window?

There was no reasonable way I could tip the police that. I mean even if I used a pay phone somewhere to call it in, when they asked ‘how do you know?’ what do I say? A little blue window told me? I couldn’t imagine a lie they would believe. If I knew who he had talked to maybe I could use {Acting} to pretend to be one of them but I didn’t know anything about that.

The only option seemed to be to prevent it myself. Which called for me to watch the police station or city jail if he’d been transferred. And then somehow stop him.

It didn’t take more than a minute before I had a plan that worked and would let me release some of my frustration.

Instead of going running and trying to get {Running} to Master, I went searching for rocks to throw. It took a while to find a decent amount but after that I setup a distance away on the rocks overlooking the park and started grinding {Decrease Mental Presence} using Crystal, and {Throwing} using trees in a distance.

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

By 7pm when it was starting to get dark I had grinded {Decrease Mental Presence} to Master, and {Throwing} to near the peak of Advanced.

My accuracy and distance with {Throwing} was near a non-pitcher professional baseball player level already thanks to my cheat skills. And Master level {Decrease Mental Presence} was 80% reduction in the range people could sense me. Meaning if they could sense me at 400 feet before, then now at most they could feel me at 80 feet. The help showed that Grandmaster offered 97.5%, meaning 10 feet was the max range.

I did wonder if that might help hide from people like Psychicchick. If her range wasn’t infinite then it might help. If it was say planet sized, maybe 20000 miles, then Grandmaster would bring the range down to 500 miles. New York, Michigan and a few other states were inside that but most of the US where she likely lived wasn’t.

All that was speculation. But if others had powers like hers I really wanted to avoid notice.

To pay back Crystal for all of Nilla’s stat and skill training I offered the most valuable skill to her.

“Copy Decrease Mental Presence”

Would you like to copy the ability {Decrease Mental Presence}?

After saying yes I didn’t pass out this time since I hadn’t used up much Mental Stamina just leveling a couple skills. But it did cost me 30 Mental Stamina, 3 times the normal cost to learn it myself.

The universe was cruel and definitely unfair. Crystal didn’t feel a thing either this time or when I gave her {Regeneration}. I didn’t doubt the copy worked.

Thinking about it, 30 Mental Stamina is twice what learning a skill from a book is. Maybe I was mentally buffering her and suffered both her and my pain?

Yet more questions to try and figure out.

I headed home after Crystal was gone. Even if she seemed trustworthy I still didn’t want her knowing where I lived.

I still had a few trivial things to do and wanted to add a few languages for lazy stat grinding. Even if I had a super power I still needed fresh laundry for work tomorrow.

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

The rest of the night was fairly normal even though Nilla seemed a bit more active in playing by herself. While the laundry was running I napped a couple times, picked up German, Dutch and Arabic.

Heading to bed I made my plans for the next day. Work, shop for some food for my empty fridge, work, stop an evil super villain from escaping jail.

Okay, maybe he wasn’t too evil or super, but anyone who burns down other people’s houses is definitely a villain.

Before I slept I checked my Character Window one last time. It wasn’t perhaps the most productive day, but I had new questions, a site with possible answers, and a chance to let off some steam tomorrow on the person who ultimately made the construction worker a loose cannon who harassed me.

“Character Window”

Class Explorer Level 1
EXP 1510 Next Level EXP 2000
HP 220/220 MP 310/310
Physical Energy 270/270 Mental Energy 386/770
Psi 376/390 KI 230/230
HP Regen 3.52/min MP Regen 0.31/min
PE Regen 0.27/min ME Regen 0.77/min
Psi Regen 0.39/min KI Regen 0.23/min
Title: Polyglot I
Agility 18/18 Hand-Eye 15/16
Intelligence 36/39 Luck 8/8
Mental Stamina 13/77 Physical Stamina 27/27
Strength 23/23 Vitality 22/22
Wisdom 30/31 Willpower 22.5/22.75
Titles available:
Slightly Masochistic, Not So Slightly Masochistic, Moderately Masochistic, Seriously Masochistic, Polyglot I

Fake Side Story #1

Author’s Note: This is a brief fake story set vaguely in ā€ˇMushoku Tensei for my amusement. If you don’t like Nilla feel free to skip past since it doesn’t affect the story. It’s just something I wrote between my two shifts today.

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King Melquin sat upon his throne and looked past the summoning circle to the crowd of trash filling his throne room. The humid air was rank with perfumed oils the various nobles used instead of bathing.

At the edge of the summoning circle stood the magician the King had lured to his kingdom with far too much treasure. Every time he thought of how much he’d given the strange old pervert to come serve his kingdom his headache and rage spiked high.

Today was the day it would all pay off though. He had secured a great treasure that would bind the heroine they were summoning to sexual and martial slavery. The magician had painstakingly crafted the circle to only summon a beautiful female hero.

With a powerful hero devoted to himself the King would be able to get rid of some of the more uselessly uptight nobles and conquer the neighboring kingdoms.

“Begin the summoning,” commanded the King when the magician was finished his preparations.

The hired Sword King and his Saints apprentices surrounded the circle to prevent any disruptions of the ceremony as the Magician began his long chant.

The circle filled with light as the Magician continued to chant. 10 seconds, 20, 30, almost a minute passed by before the circle was too bright to look directly at.

With a flash from the circle that blinded everyone the chant finished.

As the King’s eyes adjusted back to normal lighting he saw a small white and brown dog in the center of the circle.

“You damn pervert,” he yelled at the waste of a Magician who was looking happily at the dog.

“Someone kill that damn thing,” was the next yell from the King as his was rage unleashed on the cute dog.

The Sword King pulled his sword and before the Magician could protest swung it down on the small dog who was staring up at them with a seemingly puzzled look.

The sword slashed down in a blur…only to bounce off the touki the dog had raised as armor around itself.

The small dog gave a last puzzled look around, jumped up and bit the balls of the Sword King through his touki and pants, and swiftly escaped from the throne room to begin her adventures.

Excerpt from Rise of the Bite Empress Nilla.