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    Facing Nightmares

    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 17th April 2019, 8:24 pm

    What?:

    Free form job
    Approval, post 94

    Katsumi paced in the center of the square. It wasn't the main square, not filled with tons of people. Her uncle had chosen a good place to hide his projects. Right under the noses of the magic council. Those righteous bastards hadn't realized he made two additional death games until after he'd vanished and SAO was well underway. She shuddered trying not to succumb to the memories of that horrible game. They were all gone now. Everyone she'd made friends within that place. They'd vanished into the aethers the moment the game had released them all. Maybe those relationships hadn't been as real for them as they'd been for her. Okay, maybe not everyone was gone. There were a few she still saw. Elizabeth being one of them. Katsumi wouldn't have her Henkan without that woman.

    Now she had to face that terrible reality again. Her uncle had created GGO and ALO in addition to SAO. The magic council wanted her to enter each of those games and find a way to shut them down. A task that was nearly impossible by herself. Perhaps that was why they'd sent out a notice. A notice that was vague as could be. 'Help wanted by the Magic Council. Will be paid 25000 jewels and get recognition from the MC.' Then it rattled of this square's address and Katsumi's name as the contact. Bunch of idiots.

    They expected her to make the initial dive today with whoever showed up. Brilliant idea. She'd be taking a newb into a potentially deadly situation with little idea of what they faced. All she had an idea of was the pictures and the project names her uncle had used. Project Fairies and Project Guns. There were helpful little pictures on the consoles thankfully. ALO was a game centered around Fairies. GGO was the one centered around guns. Despite being a Rune Knight, Katsumi wanted to strangle the magic council. How was she supposed to keep a newb alive in a place she was unfamiliar with?

    GGO seemed to be less complicated from what she could see. Point gun, shoot things trying to kill you. However, it was also designed to be more deadly as a result. Nearly everything was trying to kill you. The environment, the creatures, even the NPCs around town. Kiyaba Akahoshi really knew how to put a downer on games. ALO was more complicated, more fantastical with a worldwide war going on between the races of the fairies. Simple enough especially with safe neutral zones provided for rest. Katsumi was leery of those, however. Her uncle wasn't one to provide safe passage in his games.

    A few people walking into the square caught her attention. She put on her best smile and strolled up to them. They were clutching the notice in their hands. "Hello there! I'm Katsumi Akahoshi. I see you've brought the notice from the council. Would you be here about the job offer?" After a round of mumbled assurances, Katsumi gestured to the dead fountain in the center of the square. "Join me over there then please and I'll explain what we'll be doing today. You can decide if the reward is worth it or not afterward." A few gave her surprised looks. They apparently hadn't thought it would be that dangerous. Two actually dropped the notice and walked from the square. That was fine. Where they would have been headed wasn't for the faint of heart.

    Katsumi climbed up onto the edge of the fountain. There were about five people still here. Good. That was a fair sized party. Assuming all of them stayed that way. "Right I'm not sure how many of you heard about SAO. It was a game designed by a madman that managed to kill four thousand of the initial ten thousand players. It did this by trapping them within the game and magically frying their brains if they died in the game." Katsumi took a deep breath. Now to deliver the final blow. "The magic council discovered that madman created two more games. Today, I'll be leading you into one of them on a cursory exploration. We won't go too far in but the chance of death is very real. If you can't handle that please leave."

    Unsurprisingly, none of them really wanted to stay and risk their necks. Katsumi sat down on the edge of the fountain dejected. She wasn't sure she could do this by herself. SAO she'd known like the back of her hand. Heck, she'd even brought its 'magic' out into the real world. These games would be entirely new. She needed someone to watch her back or there wasn't a chance in hell she'd make it back out alive.

    WC: 856
    856/7,000
    @Shane Stern


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 24th June 2019, 7:57 pm

    Shane read the message addressed to him with frown on his face, as he tried to come to terms with the contents. It was a request from the Magic Council, a follow up to what was once a major event in Fiore caused by a game designer called Kiyaba Akahoshi and a virtual reality game he had created that had trapped the minds of the gamers within the game for a few years. Their only salvation: for the gamers to beat the game and escape their virtual prison. And the kicker? Death was very permanent in that game.

    Within the letter, it was stated very clearly that Katsumi Akahoshi, one of the survivors of that death game and also the niece of Kiyaba, had been dispatched to check out two more games. Apparently, Kiyaba had created two more virtual reality games, and considering the lesson learnt from the first incident, the Magic Council wanted to make sure that the two games were safely closed down. However, what struck Shane as more important was that Katsumi was also a member of the Spec Ops division.

    The letter had mentioned that the Magic Council had also sent out various requests to other guilds, for any interested job-takers who would want to join Katsumi on her mission. The place to rendezvous was in the letter and that was all Shane needed. The Rune Knight took his legs off his office desk and leaned forward in his chair, his booted feet dropping down to the ground with a loud thump. He made no effort to keep the volume of his actions low, since the shared office was only occupied by him right now. There hadn’t been another Captain appointed for the Spec Ops division, as far as he knew of.

    The Rune Knight Captain stood up from his seat, tucking his chair into the table’s leg space before turning around to the right. The office was a simple affair, with a door in the middle of the wall to the left. Anybody who came in would find themselves into a rectangular room, the door in the middle of the rectangle’s long side. There would a desk on each side of the room, facing each other with a bunch of filing cabinets behind each table. And to the wall facing the door, another steel locker would be perpendicular to the filing cabinets, where the Captains could hang up their coats or store their weapons.

    He opened the locker, his right hand reaching out for the hanger of his uniform and then paused. Since it was virtual reality, there was probably no need for him to be formal. With a nod to his own thoughts, the Rune Knight withdrew his hand and then moved it downwards as he picked up Breaker in its leather sheath and tied it to his waist, the sheath and weapon positioned horizontally at the small of his back, with the handle protruding out to the right side.
    With nothing else to take, since the majority of his weapons were in his storage dimension,
    Shane exited the room, closing the door slowly behind him. It took him only an hour by motorcycle, as he sped down the roads between Crocus and Era. Disregarding traffic laws that he was supposed to enforce, the Rune Knight maintained his speed as he drove through the wide streets of Crocus, masterfully evading the pedestrians and other vehicles with ease until he reached the square.

    The Rune Knight Captain jammed down on the brakes right before crashing into the fountain, causing the brakes to squeal and shriek from the sudden activation and friction. The rear wheel slid on the ground, the bike held in place by the already stopped front wheel until the entire vehicle was parked parallel to the fountain’s edges. Burnt rubber marks had been traced into the ground, but nothing a little good scrubbing couldn’t get rid of.

    “Hi Katsumi. I’m Shane Stern,” the man said as he got off his bike and walked up to the brunette sitting at the edge of the fountain. With a grin on his face, he continued to speak.
    “We fought together during the HQ invasion. Ah, although when you saw me, I was looking… slightly different.”

    [699 words]
    [Total WC: 1555 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 25th June 2019, 1:10 am

    Katsumi sat on the fountain with her head in her hands. She struggled against the avalanche of feelings that threatened to overwhelm her. She hadn't made it through SAO by herself. There had been those by her side helping her along the way. Each had fallen away, some dying, some giving up hope, others stepping down a darker path. She'd been weak. Unable to handle things without a hand to hold. Once all her support was gone, the black swordswoman had stopped. The murder was the only reason she had pushed forward once more. Now she faced yet another death game. One that could easily swallow her whole. She might never come back from GGO.

    The squeal of tires broke her reverie. The swordswoman leaped to her feet. Henkan I came out, activating with a flourish. Confusion crossed her features at the friendly greeting. Did they know each other? Was he here from the Council? The tip of her sword dipped at his approach. His smile set off all her womanly desires. His further explanation led to the Henkan returning to her belt. Since she had seen the redhead around HQ recently, this must have been the gray-haired gentleman. She wasn't sure if she should mourn the loss of that bod or celebrate this new one.

    "Hi!" She piped up happily. A wide smile spread across her face. "It's nice to officially meet you. You definitely look different. Did your Strength stat increase?" Katsumi paced around Shane, taking him in. She might be able to translate his abilities into GGO if needed. There might be some difficulty - OMG was that a knife?! And not just any knife! She could feel power pouring off of it. "Shane! Shane! What's your knife's name?! What can it do? What's it made out of? Do you know if it was enchanted with runes or sequences?!" She fired off one question after another without hardly any breath in between. All of a sudden she stopped and held out a chocolate cookie to him. "Would you like a cookie?"

    Katsumi was painfully aware her Charisma score was very low. It always got her into trouble. Some people saw her as cute. Others saw her as annoying. If Shane was here to help, she didn't want to drive him away. Cookies provided a big boost to Charisma challenges. Though it might only negate the negatives of her weapon babble. Katsumi couldn't help it. When she saw a weapon, she couldn't help but want to know what it was all about. Speaking of which, she needed to fix the Henkan and make her own unique weapon. Scythes were cool. A big Scythe would make people take her seriously.

    "I'm sorry. I get excited when I see a cool weapon. Let me begin again?" Katsumi cleared her throat. "Are you here to help me with the GGO problem? Please say yes. The other mages that came left once they realized how dangerous it was." Katsumi bit her lip, looking at the ground. Her hand came up to clutch her arm. "I don't know how much you know about the SAO incident. I can explain if you wish. Um, I do want to say I don't think I can do this without help. I won't force you to stay though." Katsumi started rubbing her arm. Shane was her last chance to have someone at her back. If he left, she'd be on her own. "There is a very real chance that we won't come back. If we're detected while scouting out the game, Uncle... Kiyaba... Mr. Akahoshi can lock us into it. That will force us to complete the game before we can escape. Realistically that could take years." Katsumi slowly raised her face. Her eyes were steely, her mouth set in a firm line. "Are you with me?"

    After Shane's answer was given, Katsumi walked to a nearby wall. If his answer was positive, she walked with a skip. Otherwise, she walked with her head down. Placing her hand upon the wall, Katsumi put her face near a peculiar hole in the wall. A blue light shot out to pass over her eye. The same light passed over the hand on the wall. 'Emergency Administrator Katsumi Akahoshi recognized. Unveiling the Portal of Guns.' A robotic voice informed them after a moment. The wall melted away to reveal an archway. The arch was created from many guns melted together with the barrels all pointing toward the top. Katsumi gave Shane an embarrassed smile if he was still there. "I'm not sure why he made me an admin. Making me a mere mod would have been sufficient for his plan. Unless there's more to it I can't see..." Katsumi pulled out a cookie to nibble on it nervously as she stepped through the archway. Her resistance to fear was nowhere near enough for this situation. Katsumi had no idea what they were walking into.

    WC: 824
    Total WC: 2379 / 7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 26th June 2019, 12:47 am

    Shane was reassured when the smile returned to the female Rune Knight’s face at his approach. It seemed like the Magic Council’s attempts to build her a squad for the upcoming mission had fallen apart. He understood though, that it was an unnecessary risk to ask of the average mage. Dying from gaming wasn’t exactly the most honorable way to kick the bucket. He agreed with that point, but for now, his intention was to make sure his colleague was safe and would return in one piece, not with her brain fried. But Shane wasn’t prepared for her rapid fire questions. He had only gotten a taste of it during the invasion, but that had been a fleeting memory.

    And then a chocolate cookie was thrust out. The moment Shane nodded and accepted the cookie, Katsumi began speaking again, this time going directly into the meat of the subject. Knowing that it was an unstoppable train once she began to speak, Shane made sure he caught everything as he nibbled on the cookie before finishing it in three large bites. It was a good cookie.

    “Okay, first up. The knife. It’s called Breaker. I’m not really sure what it’s made of, but it can do this,” Shane explained as he pulled out his weapon from the sheath behind his waist. He held it with the tip pointing upwards and at his mental command, Breaker fully extended from a combat knife to a spear, the end of the hilt hitting the ground with a dull thunk. “Handy eh?”

    Once the demonstration was done, Shane commanded it to return to its combat knife form and sheathed it back. His hands then moved to his chests, crossing them and he gave Katsumi a more concerned look.

    “I wasn’t in the Rune Knights yet when the SAO incident hit the news but I did glint enough information from the local news network at that time to get the gist of it. I do understand the danger of it all, so yea, I’m prepared.”

    When he had said his piece, the two of them then walked over to a nearby wall. Katsumi walked with a skip, Shane taking it as a positive indication as he walked behind her. What happened next left him stunned as the wall melted away, brick after brick, to be replaced by an arch completely made up of guns of all shapes and sizes.

    “The Portal of Guns…” Shane mumbled as he touched the firearms that made up the arch. They were all real. He tried to look into the portal but it was all a blurry mess, showing nothing useful beyond the archway.

    “Is there anything that I need to be aware of before I go through? Oh never mind,” Shane said, his question too slow as Katsumi had already crossed into the archway. Shrugging, Shane strode through the arch as well, not knowing what would take place on the other side.

    [492 words]
    [Total WC: 2871 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 27th June 2019, 8:06 am

    Katsumi oohed over the weapon. Her eyes sparkled as she analyzed the weapon. "Interesting. The enchantment is woven into the fabric of the metal allowing the expansion or reduction of size. Definitely handy." It would be beneficial to bring such a weapon with them into GGO. It would be an instant red flag though. Whenever Shane used it, Uncle Kiyaba would be able to hone onto their location. No Stealth stat would be high enough to hide them. Katsumi rubbed her chin. Did the pros outweigh the cons? A question to answer later.

    On the other side of the arch, Katsumi froze. Her cookie nearly dropped to the floor. SAO was designed to be played from the safety of one's room. The Magic Council had never allowed her to see the servers. This was a look at the inner workings of her Uncle's games. Several large lacrima stood in rows on either side. Each pulsed slowly with magical energy. The clear color of the lacrima was disrupted by veins in a variety of colors. The overall effect looked like the lacrima were alive. These were the information lacrima. Damage to these could cause GGO to destabilize and shut down. The MC had almost done just that. Katsumi shuddered thinking of the thousands of lives that had almost been snuffed out.

    Past the massive Lacrima were five beds. They looked like beds anyways. Blue lacrima jutted out from the wall above them. The rectangle had metallic bars rising from every side. The entire thing was bathed in blue light. Katsumi remembered helping her Uncle code the magic for those. She shivered, rubbing her arms at the memory. She could have stopped all this. To the left and right of the beds was a series of rectangles set into the walls. Touching those would bring up access and information holograms. There was a cabinet set off to the side. Those probably held the Augment. Made entirely out of Lacrima, those devices allowed one to access her Uncle's games. Her fingers came up to idly trace the scar on her cheek.

    Looking behind her, Kat saw Shane step through the portal. Good, his HP hadn't dropped to zero from the trip. Katsumi nearly handed him another cookie. "Welcome to the server room of GGO." Her voice lacked its usually cheerful demeanor. The expression on her face wasn't happy either. Being here obviously drained her spirits. Her Wisdom wasn't high enough to hold back all this spirit drain. "Before we get started, is there anything you want inside GGO? A weapon, your magic, anything? I can code things so what we are inside isn't much different from out here. I could also boost our stats but that wouldn't really help. It'd be one massive signal to my uncle. Though too much use of foreign elements - aka anything I code for us - will send up a signal as well."

    The black haired woman led the way to the back of the room. Stripping off her Rune Knight overcoat, Katsumi stood in a black bodysuit. "I can, at least, give us our current stats. If you wouldn't mind climbing into one of those bed-like things?" A swipe of her hand brought the holograms online. She tapped a hologram a couple of times. A masculine figure filled the screen. The figure lacked any details and was completely grey. Katsumi smiled at Shane. If Shane climbed into the bed, the blue light swiftly transferred his image onto the hologram. Katsumi tapped a few things before telling Shane, "All done!" Otherwise, Katsumi began filling in the magical code herself. The petite woman did her best to get a close approximation of Shane and his abilities - those she knew about anyway.

    Katsumi reached into the cabinet. There was clear hesitation in her movements. Taking out two of the Augments Katsumi held one out to Shane. "This is how we'll enter the game. Put it on, like so." She demonstrated. The Augment lined up perfectly with the scar on her face. Little doubt could be had as to what left that mark. "Then slide your finger along this part. That'll pull you into the game. Make sure you're lying down first though! Otherwise, you'll fall over."

    Katsumi took a deep breath. "You'll be in different clothes and probably holding a gun when we arrive. The idea is to see how dangerous this game is as well as attempt to locate the players... If it isn't too bad, the MC will send in their own squads to deal with it. We... I have to shut it down if it is above their acceptable threshold. Um, that's it. Let's go." Katsumi sat down in a nearby chair and activated her Augment. It went through the system checks before sucking her mind into the game.

    The Rune Knight came to in a desert. There wasn't any sign of civilization that she could see. A few scraps of metal jutted from the sand. Great. Middle of nowhere. Time to see what her avatar was equipped with. She looked down. The shriek that left her mouth would have stunned a level 21 goblin. She was in a bikini! Worse than that, the bikini didn't cover hardly anything! Katsumi dropped the pistol she'd been holding as she crouched in the sand. Her knees came up to her chest and she wrapped her arms around them. Her Intelligence score wasn't low enough to walk around like this. There was no blonde bimbo here! What was she going to do?!

    WC: 924
    Total WC: 3775 / 7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 29th June 2019, 3:02 am

    Unsure of what to expect beyond the portal, Shane had thought that the Portal of Guns would have directly brought them into the virtual world of Gun Gale Online, but it seems he was misinformed. The blonde soldier looked around the moment he was completely through the portal, which had disappeared after he had walked through it. What greeted him was a rather interesting room. And it seemed like the one leading him into the room, Katsumi was surprised in equal measures as well.

    As Shane took in the layout of the room as well as the strange looking equipment in the room, he walked around, lightly touching the items that he passed by with his fingertips. He definitely recognized the large lacrimas that stood in rows, the magical energy pulsing within them influencing his breathing as it matched the rhythm of the lacrimas’ pulse. The magical energy in the entire room was dense, struggling to find an exit as they were contained in the room.
    And then it all made sense when Katsumi said this was the server room. Shane was already at the beds, standing at the foot of one of them. They were probably going to do the dive in one of these specially prepared beds.

    “I think it’s fine. You can just connect us into the game. As long as there’s a weapon, anything at all, when I appear on the other side, I’m good,” Shane said. It was a handicap to be going in without his magical abilities, but as Katsumi had explained, if they were to enter the game with anything that wasn’t within the game’s parameters, her uncle would know of their presence.
    When Katsumi said that he would equipped with a gun when they arrive, Shane was slightly relieved, showing apparently on his face.

    “We are going to shut it down when it comes to that,” Shane reiterated after Katsumi had corrected herself, smiling reassuringly when he said it. Lying on his selected bed, Shane followed exactly what Katsumi had instructed and within seconds, he was no longer lying on the bed.

    The next time he opened his eyes, Shane was standing in the middle of a desert. A wave of nausea swept over him, as his mind fought against what his senses were telling him. While his mind was continuously telling him this was a virtual world, all of his senses perceived this place to be real. Dropping to his knees, Shane dry heaved for a bit before he could finally stop. As he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, Shane took note of his current appearance. Eyebrows raised as he looked down, the Rune Knight was dismayed to find himself wearing only a black shorts, tightly hugging his pelvic area.

    A leather holster was tied around his right thigh, prompting Shane to pull out the gun and inspect it. It was smaller than what he handled normally, but the lightness of the weapon along with its larger capacity made for an intimidating weapon. Once done with his self-inspection, the Rune Knight turned around in place, and his eyes widened again when he realized he was alone. There was no sight of Katsumi at all.

    Shane sighed in annoyance, but he figured that it was probably the random spawning mechanic of the game. Just as he was pondering what he was to do now, he began hearing loud laughs and conversation. A quick look to his left showed him a huge rock and he dashed over to it, laying in its shadows as he watched the approaching group of players. There were three of them, all dressed in a thick hooded robe that protected them from the elements of the desert. And behind them was a horse, laden with their items and gear.

    Smirking, Shane pulled his gun from his holster and waited for them to come closer. It was fortunate for him, that they would pass the rock, the trio continuing to chat and laugh. Shane could hear them boasting about some type of record, their best sniping distance or something like that. This was a game where players would combat each other with guns, and Shane was more than prepared for this.

    The moment they passed by the large rock, Shane skulked around the rock and with a swiftness only a trained soldier would have, Shane’s left hand wrapped around the neck of the player lagging behind and pulled to the left with an abrupt motion, spinning the player right into the rock where a sickening crack sounded. But the Rune Knight didn’t even bother to look. He would have to take down the other two before they could react. They outnumbered him and were probably better equipped than he was. Gun in his hand, Shane crouched down and sprayed them with bullets, making sure to only hit their hands.

    “These guys die in real life if they die here, Shane. You better not trip up,” the Rune Knight mumbled to himself as he finally forced the two of them to drop their weapons. He couldn’t see their HP bar, but Shane was quite sure that they had taken some substantial damage, since he had been quite true with his aim. The one who had been smashed into the rock began to groan and get back up to his feet. Without any warning, Shane stood back up and kicked the player in the back of the knee, causing him to buckle and drop into a kneel.

    It was convenient for Shane as he just moved slightly and then used his left hand to hold the kneeling player’s lower jaw tightly with an upwards force, while his right hand, holding the gun, was placed to the side of his head.

    “Are you a Red?”

    “His diamond is still black. But I bet he’s one of them Reds. One of the newer ones.”

    “Does this gun to your friend’s head not bother you?” Shane snapped, frowning at their attitude despite this being their actual life and death.

    “He’s right guys! Can you just shut up for a second? Hello, it’s my head being held to a gun here!” the hostage shouted at his comrades, equally peeved at their nonchalance and panicking. He had heard the rumors that those who did die in the game was as dead as possible in the real world.

    “At least someone’s paying attention here. Listen up! Drop your cloaks, your weapons on hand, your clothes and empty your inventory,” Shane ordered. When the three of them didn’t make any move, the Rune Knight lowered his aim and shot the hostage through his shoulder. A cry of pain and shock came from the guy. “Now.”

    With a hurry, all three of them began to drop everything they had that could be physically seen and also whatever was in their virtual inventory. Shane had moved his gun slightly and withdrew his hand, but his gun was still pointed at the back of the player’s head. When the three of them, thankfully all males, had been stripped clean, Shane motioned in the direction that they came from with his head.

    “Good. You guys can go now,” Shane remarked casually, gun still held high, as he moved to face the entire trio. The trio looked at him with vengeful expressions, but unarmed and the risk of death very real, they withdrew and ran back in the direction where they had come from. They didn’t even try to bargain for the horse, knowing that it would probably just get another bullet and drop a notch further in their HP bar.

    When he had finally made sure that they were out of his sight, Shane began to check the three piles on the ground. The Rune Knight sifted through the three piles, pulling out articles of clothing that would suit him and began putting them on. When he was finally done, he was wearing a pair of black jeans with knee pads buckled around it, a white short-sleeved T-shirt and a black bomber jacket with fur-lined collar. A new pistol with a full cartridge was sheathed in his thigh holster, while he strapped a submachine gun across his front. Three grenades were clipped to his belt. The rest were all bundled up and stored into his virtual inventory.
    They would be given to Katsumi when he finally found her.

    “Looks like it’s just you and me, buddy. Well, time to look for Katsumi,” the blonde soldier said as he pulled himself onto the horse and began riding towards one of the higher sand dunes.

    [1435 words]
    [Total WC: 5210/7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 7th July 2019, 11:47 am

    Katsumi rapidly shifted through every option she had. Somehow the spawning had gone wrong. She'd ended up with nothing more than a pistol for starting gear. Shane was probably in the same boat. Logging out was an option. It would be a waste of time. Now that the data was set, they couldn't alter their starting gear. It'd be the same problem all over again. Opening a back door gleamed as an option. She could open doors into the program. Pull out the biggest, baddest weapons in the game. Wait. Katsumi checked the stats of her pistol. As the screen popped up on her HUD, the swordswoman cursed. There was a stat requirement for weapons.

    Checking her personal stats came next. Her STR stat was low. Not a huge loss despite it preventing her use of heavier weapons. Her AGI stat was abnormally high. It looked like there were a few bonus skills attached to that. She'd have to check them out later. Her VIT, DEX, SEN, and LUK stats all appeared to be normal. With the danger in this game, those SEN and LUK stats would need to increase quickly. Right after she found herself some gear. Katsumi had nearly forgotten her predicament while wrapped up in her stats.

    Staying here wouldn't help her. Breaking into the code now would only alert her uncle. Curse the Magic Council! There was a reason Katsumi didn't like going to the beach. Other girls had bodies to be proud of. Katsumi hated hers. She was still rather thin from SAO. There was no chest or butt to speak of even when she was in shape. The black-haired mage sighed heavily. Why couldn't she be pretty? No boy would ever stay with her. There'd be too much eye candy luring them away.

    Katsumi shook herself. Enough of that. Self-defeating BS was what had caused her friends to die. Her cowardice had held them back. She wouldn't do that anymore. She wasn't a frightened little girl. This was her world. A rumbling noise drew her attention. Katsumi blinked. Motorcycle? GGO was different from SAO. Yet that noise took her by surprise. She was in the middle of a desert and a motorcycle was tearing through the sand.

    Her old gaming instincts took over. The mage dropped to the sand. The motorcycle had to be nearby. Judging by the sound, it would come over the far dune about... now! Sure enough, a sleek metallic shape crested the dune. It didn't look like Shane's motorcycle from earlier. There were no wheels and a black top covered the rider. The rider's sides were left open. It appeared to be hovering over the sand. As the vehicle approached, Katsumi noticed the red particles leaking from the player's avatar. They were injured. Most likely, a bleeding effect kept their HP dropping for a set amount of time. She could use that. They would have to stop soon to treat it or risk dying. All the swordswoman had to do was wait.

    Katsumi was up and running the moment the motorcycle stopped. The top opened. It revealed a woman in a black bodysuit. A sniper rifle hung over her shoulder. Twin pistols were strapped to her thighs. A few clips were stuck into a bandolier crossing her body. Long blonde hair caught in the wind. Katsumi noted her name . The gamer cursed briefly. She was an idiot. There was a friend system in this game. It functioned the same as SAO. She could easily send Shane a friend request. That would allow the two of them to find one another. Time for that later.

    L3x1 climbed off her bike to open her inventory. In those scant seconds, Katsumi hopped on the bike. "Sorry, I'm borrowing this!" She shouted. The top came down over her. The vehicle roared, rearing in the sand as it shot forward. Katsumi lost her breath. Note to self: learn how to drive vehicles in GGO. A blinking red light on her HUD warned her she'd nearly blown up the bike. A secondary red prompt told her being caught with stolen goods brought down the law. Katsumi shuddered. The law functions in most games were vastly more powerful than players. They were often designed to kill players who committed crimes the creators found abhorrent. She'd have to ditch the bike before they went into any town. Pity.

    Once she was far enough away, Katsumi sent Shane a friend request. She snickered a little at the name she'd chosen for him once the prompt appeared. >Kirito< has sent a friend request to >Captain Fiore< There was a glitch in the system from the looks of it. The friend request shouldn't have let her see Shane's position until he accepted it. Despite that, she could clearly see where Shane was on her minimap. That worked out well. The motorcycle turned with her mental command. Time to go collect her teammate.

    Katsumi slid the motorcycle to a stop fifty meters from Shane. It seemed he had spawned in with clothing. Lucky bastard. How to do this? She did not want Shane to see her unattractive body. With how hot that man was, Katsumi would die of embarrassment. The swordswoman had forgotten the sides of the motorcycle were open for all to see. She opted to stick a hand out. Waving at Shane, she called out "Hi Shane! It's me, Katsumi! You wouldn't happen to have any extra clothing, would you? I was spawned in with barely a stitch on me." Hopefully, he had something to spare. Maybe he could give his shirt up if he didn't. Katsumi would not mind staring at that chest for the rest of the day.

    WC: 952
    Total: 6162/7000


    Last edited by Katsumi on 12th July 2019, 11:38 am; edited 1 time in total


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 11th July 2019, 2:49 am

    As he rode the horse aimlessly through the desert, only hoping that the randomly selected direction would bring him to Katsumi, Shane took his time to observe his surroundings. The environment of the game felt so real to all of his senses, as if he had really been transported to Desierto instead of inside a game. The arid wind, the few vultures soaring in the skies above, the cloudless sky, and even how the sand reacted to each and every step of the horse’s movements amazed the Rune Knight. It was no wonder that some of the players in the previous LAO game had been so deeply immersed in the game that the game had become a second life to them, apart from the fact that they were trapped.

    Shane also understood how this was a way for people to escape reality, to get away from the confines of the real world. It was a gateway to a new world, where the anonymity and ability to choose how they looked like, made the access even more desirable. As another gust of wind blew past, Shane’s sight was occupied by the horizontal bar that was permanently situated at the top left of his sight, currently entirely filled with green. He knew it was his HP bar, and should it ever drop to zero, that would be his end here and back in Fiore. He tried moving his head a few times, shifting his vision but the bar remained floating in the same position.

    He heard a rumbling in the distance, the sound getting louder and louder rapidly as whatever caused it got nearer. Shane recognized it, the sound of a motorbike, but the sound was more streamlined. Smoother. And he smiled when the rider poked out a hand from the side of the vehicle to wave, the voice accompanying it laying rest to his worries.

    “Well, you won’t believe my luck then. I bumped into three players and robbed them of their items,” Shane said as he dismounted from the horse by directly jumping off it. He landed in the sand with a soft thump and then walked up to Katsumi’s vehicle, his fingertips brushing along the curvature of the top. “How do I pass the stuff to you? Earlier they just dropped it onto the ground, but I think there’s some trading mechanics that we could use?”

    Once Katsumi taught him how to trade, he would be able to pass him the remaining clothing he had robbed from the three players earlier which consisted of the desert cloak and other clothing articles that he didn't bother to identify. He figured Katsumi could just take a look and choose to put on whatever she wanted. He would also pass her a pair of pistols and a submachine gun. He gave the vehicle another lookover.

    “Would this thing be able to take two passengers?”

    [482 words]
    [Total WC: 6649 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 17th July 2019, 9:02 am

    Katsumi frowned when Shane mentioned trade. Were the mechanics the same in GGO as they were in SAO? Probably if dropping things onto the ground still worked the same. She brought up her interface. A few swipes later brought up the trade screen. Grinning happily, Katsumi sent the request to Shane.

    >Kirito< sent >Captian Fiore< a trade request!

    The gamer girl realized something. Shane probably didn't know what all the little icons in his vision were. HP was easily figured out as was Stamina. Both decreased with various actions or as direct consequences. "Uh, there should be two flashing icons in the top right corner of your vision. The first is a friend request. It'll allow us to find each other while in the game. The second one is a trade request. If you open your menu, you can access both with the second to the bottom option. Once you input what you want and what you want to trade, hit accept. I can do the rest."

    Katsumi waited until Shane got the hang of it. With the completion of the trade, the girl happily clothed herself. The light green shirt cut off at her midriff. The pants reached down to her ankles to be stuffed into a pair of combat boots. The cloak Shane sent over require stats she didn't possess, unfortunately. It wasn't perfect, like a long black coat with a matching outfit but it would do for now. She climbed out of the motorcycle for Shane's inspection.

    "It should fit two..." Katsumi said dragging up the motorcycle's stats. It did say two passengers. It could also hit a top speed of near 200 MPH and that was while carrying a max load. Katsumi let out a low whistle. This was an impressive machine. She almost felt bad for stealing it. "It fits two. It'll be tight though..." Her face got red as she imagined them sitting together. "I uh...I don't have the Driving skill. Perhaps um, I should sit in back?" A few buttons were tapped.

    >Kirito< has granted access of [Aerocycle S1C17] to >Captain Fiore<

    Katsumi turned away from Shane. The blush was embarrassing enough. She didn't want him to point it out. Looking at the map might help. They were here to flirt... scout. Urgh! Her blush got deeper. The map was covered in FoW, a Fog of War. Large swaths of it were grayed over, invisible until explored. There were a few things marked out. A major ruin, two cities and a third icon that Katsumi didn't recognize at all. The ruin was probably a story point for the main game. The cities were safe spots in this PvP arena. They'd have to eventually explore both. For now, simply reaching one would suffice to fill their objective.

    The swordswoman showed her map to Shane. "We should probably go to one of these." She said indicating the cities with her finger. "They should be safe spaces and will be crucial to exploring the game. Given that we are.... here, this one is the closest. Shouldn't take too long to make it if monsters or players don't attack us." Either was a possibility. It was an extensive distance to the city. The Aerocycle wasn't cheap nor built for combat. If they were attacked, they'd have to exit and fight. Katsumi double-checked her starter pistol. When they got to the city, she was definitely getting a new weapon.

    "Shall we go? Once we reach the city, we can log out of the game. The Magic Council doesn't expect us to survey everything in a single day and we've already been logged in for..." A glance at the clock on her interface gave her the answer. "...two hours. It'll probably be another two hours to reach the city if we're lucky."

    The gamer looked at the motorcycle. Her feet shuffled in the sand as her hands clasped behind her back. "So uh how does one ride a motorcycle with two people?" She'd never done it before though she'd seen others doing so. Since she wanted Shane to drive, Katsumi would be pressed intimately against his back. The Aerocycle didn't allow for another option. The blush that had faded swiftly returned.

    WC: 703
    Total: 6865/7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 22nd July 2019, 6:32 am

    At Katsumi’s words, Shane began to take a closer look at the stuff that had been hovering around the periphery of his vision. It was true that he hadn’t figured out what most of them were, except for the HP bar naturally, but he figured she would just guide him about it later, which he had been correct. Still it had taken some time to ignore those icons, since it was counterintuitive to his job nature. But a more pressing matter had to be addressed first.

    “Hold up,” Shane said as he squinted at the window that had appeared in the middle of his vision after he had pressed on the second icon. The Rune Knight Captain stared at the two names that were in the translucent white window. After having confirmed twice that he had not read the name by mistake, the blonde mage turned his head to look at Katsumi with a deadpan stare. One of his eyebrows was raised in a sceptical expression, while he pursed his lips for a second.

    “There was no better name than Captain Fiore?” Shane asked with exasperation, moving his head as he spoke, and then holding his hands out with his palms up as he waited for an answer from the girl. Still, they were in the middle of a desert and it would do them best to just get everything over with and get out this place. Shane followed Katsumi’s instructions from earlier on and after a bungled attempt at the trade, he managed to get it right on the second time, successfully clearing his inventory and passing the items over to the girl. Watching Katsumi equip the items in the virtual world reminded him of his Requip magic.

    Despite the usefulness of the desert cloak, Shane was dismayed when Katsumi couldn’t equip it, but it wasn’t too bad now that they had the motorcycle. It was definitely better than the two of them galloping on a horse to who knows where. Shane continued in a circle around the motorcycle as Katsumi transferred the vehicle access to him. When he pressed “Accept”, the Rune Knight grinned as he took in the stats displayed in a smaller translucent white window.

    “200 MPH, huh? A true beast then. I wonder if we can hit maximum speed on all this sand,” Shane pondered, but still climbed into the vehicle nonetheless. Katsumi had offered to sit in the back, which Shane agreed to. Where was she going to sit if not in the back? His thoughts was quickly pulled back to the map that she had shown him, taking note of what she had pointed out.

    “City it is then. Let’s take this one. Aldebaran City,” Shane read as he zoomed in on the map, enlarging the city and its name, spelled out in white font.
    “Just get up on the seat behind me.”

    He pointed to the slightly raised seat behind his driver’s seat. When the girl was finally safely on the back, Shane feeling her weight against his back, the Rune Knight put the motorcycle into ignition and felt the kickback from the engine as it roared powerfully to life. With one hand pressing down tightly on the brakes, Shane twisted the accelerator back as much as possible, the back wheel kicking up a fountain of sand as it struggled to release the pent up power. The engine continued to roar, until Shane suddenly released the brakes.

    The motorcycle sped across the sands, hitting 160 MPH within five seconds. The windshield kept the sand and wind out of his eyes as he kept feeding the engine with fuel. He handled the motorcycle with ease, repeatedly bringing the bike to skip over crests and dunes, as though they were riding a speedboat on the ocean.

    As he continued driving, alternating between keeping his eyes on the road or sand ahead while checking the map to make sure he was driving in the correct direction, a question seemed to have struck Shane.

    “If this game is a death game like LAO, and we can log out, what’s keeping the Magic Council from forcing everyone to log out and then shutting the game down? Wouldn’t that be a much more feasible option than sending us out here to investigate?” Shane turned his head back slightly, not quite enough to look at Katsumi. As he spoke, he realized another thing about the motorcycle that he would have loved on his own bike back in the real world. The soundproofing was godlike, his words not even marred by the roaring of the engine outside the windshield.

    Waiting for Katsumi to answer, Shane focused back on the map and then on the road ahead.

    “Map shows we will be reaching in five minutes. And my eyes are showing that we are going to have an easy way into the city,” the male Knight said matter-of-factly. As they neared the city, Shane had seen sentries posted around the entrance. There were a lot of them, and judging from the guns that they held, especially of those that had pointed them in their direction, Shane expected that they would probably have to fight their way in.

    When the distance between them and the gate was a mere three hundred meters, the captain turned the steering bar to the right, immediately causing the entire bike to swerve to the left, kicking up a wall of sand. Countless red lines appeared in the air, and stopped when they hit the windshield of the motorcycle. Bullets followed soon after, accurately tracing the prediction lines and a few of them hitting the windshield even as Shane had tried to get out their firing range.

    “Windshield durability at 80%...” a female voice chimed from the dashboard.

    “Windshield durability at 50%.”

    “Windshield durability at 30%,” came the third warning after a few seconds. Shane revved up the engine to its very maximum, delivering another much-needed surge of speed to the vehicle as they finally escaped the hail of bullets just a final one hit the windshield and shattered their only protection against the harsh elements of the desert.

    Shane brought the bike to an unmanned part of the wall, easing up on the accelerator until they finally stopped. His hair was swept back the wind, and he moved one hand over them, ruffling it.

    “What’s up with this place? Those didn’t look like NPCs to me,” Shane queried as he jerked his thumb in the direction of the gate.

    [1083 words]
    [Total WC: 7948 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 1st August 2019, 5:56 pm

    Katsumi drew upon every point in her Charisma stat to keep a straight face when Shane asked about his name. Thousands of answers flashed through her head. Which one would be the best though? Katsumi didn't know if Shane was the type of guy to take a joke. They hadn't known each other that long. They had fought together but that didn't say much about a person. Katsumi decided on a fairly vague but still truthful answer. "I'm sure there were others but I didn't want you to get stuck with a fairly lewd name or a name with many numbers at the end. I hope you don't mind." She twiddled her fingers, twisting back and forth while looking up at Shane through her lashes. The overall effect was supposed to be bashful shame. Whether her Performance skill was high enough to pull that off remained to be seen.

    The swordswoman's face got red when she realized she'd been right. Pressed up against a magnificent specimen like Shane... she could die happy after today. It didn't matter that their bodies were made of pixels. This man had the nicest body she'd ever seen. Being pressed against his back would be like touching divinity. She carefully climbed into the seat. Her chest pressed against Shane's back, her hands placed chastely on his hips. That didn't last long. Shane drove like a demon. The sped and dunes had Katsumi's arms wrapped tightly around her fellow Rune Knight. Her face was buried in his back. There might have been a few shrieks emitted from Katsumi. Yet somehow her brain found the time to note how Shane smelled. Cookies, light rain and some kind of spicy cologne. She'd happily breathe that in. So long as she didn't need to watch the sand fly by. Aka watch Shane try to kill them with speed.

    Katsumi was engrossed in Shane's scent to the point she almost missed his question. She stumbled over her words as a result. "Perhaps, assuming my uncle didn't booby trap this game as he did SAO. The magic he used to create these games is written like a code of sorts. Each code is transmitted into lacrima fragments lodged in everyone's system, thereby allowing them to experience the games." There were other issues to address. How to easily explain it to Shane... "We are also using a backdoor created in his magical code. That's what allows us to log out without issue. It's a small glitch my uncle overlooked. I know the code well enough from my time in SAO, that I can help out the MC a bit." Now she was rambling and probably not making any sense. Katsumi winced, trying to clear out her mind and get things straight.

    "Sorry, let me try again. Think of GGO like a sticky blanket thrown over all the players. The 'glue' of the blanket, if torn off in, say a forced logout, will deal damage to the players. If the MC initiated such a plan, at least half the players would die horribly and another quarter would be rendered comatose. And that's only if they can get past my uncle's traps. My uncle engineered several curses with his unique magical style then wound them through the game. Deactivating one usually triggers another. The only way to free the players is by playing the game." That should be a sufficient explanation. If Shane had more questions about that part, she'd happily go more in-depth. There was another thing to explain though. "As for how we can be here and log out without problems, imagine there are holes in the blanket. We've covered ourselves in anti-stick stuff and dove through one of those holes. However, if we disturb the fabric too much trying to free the others, the blanket will adhere to us, trapping us within the game ourselves. Hence why the MC needs us to investigate here. I hope that helps explain everything, this is your friendly neighborhood Katsumi, signing off."

    As Shane headed straight for the entrance of the city, Katsumi tried tapping his back. GGO was built around PKing. In fact, it might be an easier way to escape this death game. The best way to score a PK kill was by hitting lone players before the entered a city safe zone. Katsumi's warning was a little too passive. Prediction lines shot out from the entrance of the city. The swordswoman drew her weapon intent on returning fire. That was until she noticed the little indicators next to their names. She cursed, holstering her pistol. To make matters better, a bullet grazed her just before they were out of range. Her HP bar plummeted and she was granted the bleeding status. Excellent. A great finish to her day.

    Shane seemed to be in a rather similar frame of mind. Katsumi eased off the bike once they stopped. Tearing up some of the clothing Shane had bought, she applied a makeshift bandage to her leg. The swordswoman spared the captain a glance at his question. "They weren't NPCs. Those were players. GGO is built mainly around killing other players. In essence, the longer people are trapped in this game, the more people die. Potentially, the more serial killers and psychopaths are born. From my brief glance, there are a certain number of kills needed to exit the game. That's not including defeated bosses. Anyways, the ratio appears to be that of the required enemy kills, if you kill 10% of that number in PKs then the game will also release you. It encourages killing other players." She finished up the bandage.

    Popping up, Katsumi placed her hands on her hips. "We've reached the city. We can either log out now or continue to explore. Given the state of our Aerocycle, I doubt we'll be able to make it to another city. We were lucky a monster didn't attack us out there. Though..." Her fingers rubbed against her chin. They could spend some time grinding levels. That would allow the purchase of and use of higher-level items. It was a plan she could get behind. "We can also grind up our levels now if you wish. It is your choice. I'll abide by your decision in this, Captain." Katsumi gave him a cheeky salute.

    WC:1051
    7916/7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 27th August 2019, 6:23 am

    The assault from the players guarding the entrance of the city had left Katsumi with a wound, one that had taken a chunk out of her HP. Shane checked his own bar, and was relieved that he had managed to escape taking any damage from the encounter. His Rune Knight colleague continued to speak, answering the question that he had raised, while she tore up one of the incompatible clothing from his earlier raid and used it as a makeshift bandage around her leg. Shane could see the bleeding status which had been eating away at Katsumi’s HP bar by small amounts stop when the bandage was completely applied, prompting a quick elevation of his right eyebrow at the new discovery. At least for him, it was.

    “Basically the longer it takes for us to investigate this game, the more people are gonna die from their in-game actions or inaction, for this matter. And this even serves as a training ground for would-be killers,” Shane added his own opinion, taking the time to ponder over what Katsumi had said to him. LAO had already been a major issue and since he had taken up this mission, Shane was really not intending for the same thing to happen all over again.

    “I think we should continue to explore. The faster we get this over with, the more lives we can save. How do we grind? Are there any monsters for us to fight and kill? Or is it necessary for us to kill other players to level up?” Shane asked, probing further into the issue. If Katsumi’s answer was the latter, then it would seriously land the duo in quite the predicament. Shane chose to ignore the salute that Katsumi had given him, knowing it was nothing more than a mischievous gesture. He merely made a face of mock frustration.

    However that very expression changed almost immediately, his face turning serious. His eyes were looking directly over Katsumi’s shoulders, towards the direction of the city. His eyes glinted with a dangerous aura, and instinctively, his right hand had gone to the submachine gun strapped around his shoulders, holding the weapon up high in a ready position, stabilized against his shoulder.

    “Now, this is the tough question. Do I get any EXP from just hurting them? Or do I have to kill them?” Shane asked as he moved. Not waiting for Katsumi to turn around, Shane lunged forward to grab the girl by her waist and immediately turned around as he bolted for a cluster of black rocks that jutted out from the sand, situated a few feet behind his original position. The black rocks would provide enough cover for them to manoeuvre around their opponents instead of shooting it out over the bare sands.

    A group of five men had actually exited the city, obviously part of the group that had shot at them as they headed for the city entrance. Apparently, just scaring them off hadn’t been enough for them, and now they were sending out a hunting party to make sure that Shane and Katsumi were well taken care of. The moment Shane was among the black rocks, he quickly let Katsumi down and pulled out his pistol, taking a half-kneeling position on the ground with his back pressed against one of the rocks that was just right between him and the approaching group.

    “How’s your aim?” Shane asked with a grin, as he inched up slightly, trying to sneak a peek at the approaching men. He was forced to drop back down, as a few bullets pinged off the top of the rock.

    [605 words]
    [Total WC: 8521 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 4th September 2019, 12:17 pm

    Katsumi paused in binding up her leg at Shane's sentence. Her eyes were filled with dark memories as she looked up at him. LAO had been the same thing. The higher they went, the harder it was to level. The scarcer drops seemed to be. It had become easier to kill each other. The only difference was it wasn't the main focus of the game. "What did you think LAO was intended to be? My uncle wanted to create an army of psychopaths. Impossibly powerful mages with no empathy and a willingness to kill others. At least, that's what I've always thought." She turned her attention back to her bandage. Ignoring her Bleeding status was a good way to run out of HP.

    At Shane's question, Katsumi cursed her low Charisma score. Her explanation earlier must not have been very clear. The swordswoman tested her leg carefully as she stood up. Pain twinged through it. Nothing she couldn't handle though. The Bleeding status was gone too. "I'm sorry for not being clear. There are monsters in the game." She gestured out toward the desert around them. "Out there. We can kill those instead but we need ten times the number of kills to level up. Hence the need to grind." Katsumi faced the desert. The information about this game was fuzzy. A long time had passed since her uncle talked to her about the concept. Was it better to hunt in the desert or the distant jungle?

    "I think... Whaa?" A small screech escaped when Shane grabbed her. The sensation of his hands on her waist. Mmmm. It wasn't the time for such thoughts. Katsumi still blushed anyways. Shane got them to cover. Moments passed as Katsumi tried to orient herself. Shane's question, they were being shot at. It took a few seconds for her brain to work. "Your skills go up for fighting with them but you won't gain any XP unless you kill them. Aim for blowing off their legs or disabling their shoulders."

    Katsumi pulled up a see-through red keyboard. Shane's question made her wince. "Its awful without a scope. I prefer fighting up close." Her fingers flashed over the keyboard. When it vanished, a handle materialized along with ammo for Shane's gun. Katsumi snatched up the handle. A blade extended from the end once she touched it. The blade was a glowing light blue color. It hummed softly as Katsumi waved it back and forth. Excellent. This would do nicely. "Cover me."

    The swordswoman leaped over their cover. Her head down, she ran across the distance. The Bullet Lines lit up immediately. Katsumi sent her sword into motion. None of the bullets touched her. The blade intercepted each one before it reached her. A fierce grin spread across her face. There was only one issue. Her leg protested the accelerated movement. She could ignore it for now but if more than these five came out, Katsumi would be in trouble. The shooters panicked the closer she got. They began firing more randomly. Two started backing away. "Too late" She muttered, already among them.

    Purple whirled through the small area. Guns shattered into data bits. Legs and arms were severed. Katsumi only hoped Shane had stopped firing. Otherwise, she'd be in for a world of hurt. When Katsumi stopped moving, the attackers lay on the ground. None had a bleeding status but each was in the red for HP. Looking over them, the swordswoman relaxed. Then she did a little girly jump into the air. "I can't believe that worked!" She cried out before rushing back to Shane. "We should get outta here. They'll be sending more soon, I'm sure. Especially since it looks like they've staked out this city as their territory. We'll have to salvage or craft gear in the wild. Hopefully, we can find another vehicle or at least a safe zone."

    The black-haired girl pulled up a virtual map. She pointed out a green section well to the east of where they were. "We should head toward the jungles. There should be more plentiful monsters there." Closing the map, Katsumi began skipping in that direction. It wasn't the smartest plan. However, Katsumi was running on the high of a harebrained scheme going well. There weren't many practical thoughts in her head at that moment.

    WC: 721
    8637/7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 17th September 2019, 3:07 am

    Shane lamented at the fact that he wouldn’t be able to level up without killing, which was the reason they had entered the game. To stop the killing. He didn’t have too much time to dwell on it though, as Katsumi summoned a keyboard out of thin air and began typing furiously into it. The moment arrived and left equally as quick, and in place of the keyboard was now a handle. Shane looked at it with narrowed eyes, yet to distinguish what the item was but he immediately recognized the bullets that had appeared alongside it.

    Katsumi snatched up the handle, emitting a blade of light the moment she brandished it. It hummed as the weapon waved through the air, the owner testing it out with a few test swings. It was just two words from the female Rune Knight, but Shane had no doubt the girl possessed a plan to get them out of the situation. At least, until he could figure out a way to effectively destroy his enemies without destroying them.

    The moment Katsumi leapt clear of the rock they were using as cover, Shane turned around and raised his submachine gun above the rock. The attackers were firing at random, knowing that just a few bullets hitting Katsumi would do the job. Shane was still puzzled on what Katsumi had in mind, but within seconds, his question was answered. It was extremely impressive sight as the seemingly innocent girl turned into a whirlwind of destruction, every swing of her blade rendering her invincible as no bullet could pass her lightsabre’s movements.

    With all five of their enemies positioned immediately in front of Katsumi, Shane had no way of covering her without the risk of shooting his own ally, but the Rune Knight still held his firearm at the ready to pick off any stragglers that tried to escape the situation. The blue whirlwind of destruction, humming ominously with each swing, advanced further forward as Katsumi engaged the shooters in direct combat. Nothing could stand in the way of the blade as guns were quickly shattered while a few of them were dismembered, their limbs disappearing into data bits.

    Two of the attackers tried to run from the swordswoman, abandoning all notions of attacking but Katsumi had backup. Aiming through the iron sights of the weapon, Shane pressed down on the trigger a few times, releasing bullets in burst shots at the backs of the retreating gunsmen. The first one caught five bullets in the back, the impact throwing him into the sand while the other one took three bullets to his left thigh, stumbling to the ground as well. Their HP bars dropped drastically but stopped declining when it arrived at the yellow zone. Shane kept his sights trained on them, as they got up, in case they retaliated but the two of them were too demoralized to try anything funny and just ran away as fast as they could.

    Katsumi’s cry of victory brought him back to her, and he beamed with a wide smile.

    “That was probably the best swordsmanship I have ever seen in a while,” Shane complimented generously, while mentally taking note of the female Rune Knight’s ability to think up of a plan on the spot aside from her obviously overpowered skills with the sword.

    Shane peered at the map and agreed with Katsumi’s idea as she was more familiar with the game and the mechanics within. He would play his role of guardian, keeping two of them safe. Shane walked over to the Aerocycle and tried to key the vehicle into ignition. Despite the broken windshield which had acted as a literal shield, Shane wanted to try if the vehicle could still go on. Pulling back on the accelerator while keeping the gear in neutral, a very familiar roar came from the engine as the Aerocycle came to life.

    Shane climbed up on the bike, and called for Katsumi to hop on. The moment they were on, Shane swerved the vehicle in a wide turn and went all out towards the jungle area. It took them less than ten minutes and fortunately so, as the Aerocycle came to a stuttering halt just outside the jungle. Shane took a look at the fuel gauge, and saw the indicator showing E on a background that was flashing red and white.

    Hopping off the bike, Shane rested his right hand on his submachine gun’s handle again, holding it ready but in a low position, near his waist. Roars and groans could be heard echoing in the forest, with the occasional high-pitched shriek. The forest looked ancient, the plants and trees unlike anything Shane has seen in real life.

    “Let’s go,” the Captain said as he led the way, shifting his submachine gun higher, resting the it against his shoulder.

    [807 words]
    [Total WC: 9444 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 6th October 2019, 2:10 pm

    Katsumi blushed at Shane's compliment. She bowed at the waist. "Domo arigato, Shane-sempai. It's a skill leftover from my time in LAO." The swordswoman slowly straightened. Dark memories rose from the box she'd kept them in. A smiling face. Congratulatory words. That same face with red pixels rising from a wound. The face, once more, with a pained smile before it shattered into blue glass pixels. A tear slipped involuntarily down her cheek. Katsumi brushed it away with her free hand. That was in the past. She would never be that weak again. Nothing would make her hesitate like that again. Not when others were counting on her.

    The roar of an engine was a surprise. The Aerocycle had looked like it was on its last legs once the windshield shattered. Katsumi hopped onto the back of the bike. "You have a gift with bikes, Shane. I never would have gotten this going again." She scrambled around for a place to hold on. Stuck with wrapping her arms back around Shane's waist, the swordswoman blushed fiercely. "Excuse me." Katsumi murmured as she held the captain. All kinds of thoughts filtered through feeling that chiseled body pressed close. Katsumi's cheeks blazed red. Those weren't the thoughts to be having in this game of death! The raven-haired woman buried her face in Shane's back as the bike took off.

    As the bike came to a halt outside the jungle, a wave of humid air washed over it. Katsumi shuddered with displeasure. She didn't like the dry heat of the desert nor the wet heat of the jungle. Maybe she didn't like heat at all. Give her a rainy day, a handheld game and a couch for a good day. The swordswoman climbed off the bike. Roars and screams could be heard from the jungle. That was a challenge she'd face in a moment. Once Shane climbed off the Aerocycle, Katsumi looked it over. The gauge was on E. It was doubtful they'd find fuel here. She opened the menu for the bike. Selecting dismantle caused the bike to break down into its various parts. Those parts were deposited into her inventory. "Nothing more could be done with that..." She muttered under her breath. The parts weren't very useful without the Mechanic skill though. It was scrap metal without that skill.

    Katsumi turned at Shane's words. The jungle looked dark and foreboding now. Fellow gamers had attacked them. Her uncle had created a death game geared toward creating psychopathic killers. Laughing Coffin must have been a delight for him. There were some warnings to give Shane. She'd hate to be responsible for his death. "Don't forget to log out when you're in the red or tired. We can still die if our HP hits zero. If you see a creature with a skull over its head, run away. It's too high level to even damage much with your current level. Make sure you pay attention to how much damage you're doing. Monsters without skulls can be just as dangerous as those with them."

    Important stuff out of the way, the swordswoman plunged into the trees. She noticed a symbol appearing in her HUD immediately. It looked like a gray half-closed eye. A breath sucked through her teeth. Fantastic. That meant they had limited visibility while in the trees. Monsters had a better chance of sneaking up on them. Ambushes had a higher chance of critical hits. They'd have to proceed carefully. Katsumi retrieved her photon sword. Her pistol stayed where it was for now. There wasn't much ammo left for it. Besides, fighting up close and personal was more her style anyway.

    A snarl brought her attention to the left. Three glowing eyes met her gaze. A white name hovered in the darkness. Cyber Jaguar. The photon sword hummed as it activated. The two of them stared at each other. The air was tense with anticipation. The Jaguar shifted, an indicator of an attack sequence. Katsumi stepped at the same time. Red pixels floated from them both seconds later. Katsumi checked her HP. Near an eighth had been knocked out. On the Jaguar, a small sliver of HP had been chipped off. Too much for one person to handle. "Need some help here, Shane." She called out, switching to a defensive stance. The Jaguar had started pacing. Perhaps it was another indicator of an attack sequence. The jungle might have been a little over their heads to start out with.

    WC: 747
    Total: 9384/7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 14th October 2019, 12:33 am

    Shane took Katsumi’s advice seriously, her experience with the game extremely valuable towards their progress. With her warning, the Rune Knight Captain began to doubt the dependability of the submachine gun in his hands. He had seen what the attackers had used earlier, and putting skills aside, their weapons definitely had more punch in them than the ones that Shane was using. Right now, he began to question if it was right to just rush into the forest. They might encounter monsters but would they be able to kill them off?

    Shane glanced in Katsumi’s direction, taking note of the photon sword, wishing he had something like that. A snarl floated through the air, and Shane’s head quickly whipped to the left. It was looking in their general direction but it seemed like the Cyber Jaguar, as the name hovering in the darkness shone brightly, was focused on Katsumi instead. Before he could even think of a way to fight it off, cybernetic animal and virtual swordsman charged at the same time, red pixels splashing into the air, as the two attacked each other at the same time.

    Shane turned around as the Cyber Jaguar was now behind him, the creature wheeling around after its lunging attack. A quick glance at the HP bar below his, indicated the damage that Katsumi had taken in the encounter. The Cyber Jaguar lunged again, its tail snapping taut after it fully turned around, claws out front and jaws open. With surprising agility, Shane ducked down low as the Cyber Jaguar flew over him, the sharp claws so near to ripping out the skin and flesh of his back. With the first part over, which happened to be the tricky part, Shane turned around on his heels as the Cyber Jaguar continued its pounce forward and grabbed the cybernetic by its tail.

    It was a gamble, since he didn’t know the limits of his strength in this virtual world. Shane pulled hard on the tail, pulling it towards him. In the real world he would have been able to swing the creature and throw it away but right now, due to the limitations of the game, the male Rune Knight only managed to stop the Cyber Jaguar midway through its lunge, causing it to drop to the ground which was already more than enough for him. Coiling one arm around the tail, Shane held it as tightly as he could and held up his submachine gun with his free hand.
    His index finger pressed down on the trigger in multiple short bursts, each time releasing three to five bullets. Every burst was aimed at the Cyber Jaguar’s head, some of the bullets ricocheting and leaving nothing but a scratch while some managed to gouge their way into the creature’s head. Shane could see a small sliver of HP removed from its total HP bar, but the damage that it had endured wasn’t enough to put it down yet.

    “Katsumi, time to put that sword to good use,” Shane called out as the tug of war between the Cyber Jaguar and himself began. His submachine gun was still firing, bullets pinging off the creature’s face as it turned around to snarl at Shane while it tried pulling away from the latter. And then the most dreaded sound came to ear. The continuous click click click of a firearm completely out of ammo. Hastily, Shane released his grip on his weapon and concentrated all of the strength in both his arms to stop the Cyber Jaguar from moving, waiting for Katsumi to quickly finish it off.

    [600 words]
    [Total WC: 9948 / 14000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 27th October 2019, 2:38 pm

    Gratitude swept through Katsumi when Shane stepped in. She took a moment to catch her breath. Facing off against the players, even losing HP hadn't been an issue. Now, facing off against this monster, she felt the claws of anxiety in her chest. The swordswoman bent over, heaving for air. Nothing filled her lungs. She couldn't breathe. The sounds of combat faded away. Her heartbeat thudded in her ears. Katsumi squeezed her eyes shut. Her hands slapped over her ears. It didn't help. The screaming started. The sound of shattering glass. The images of her friends reduced to blue pixels again and again. Klein, Asuna, Silica, Sachi, Sinon, and Leafa dying repeatedly. Agil turning his back on her when he learned of her cowardice. Lizbeth's disappointment every time they saw one another. A scream welled in Katsumi's throat. One that she couldn't release. It choked her, smothered her.

    Shane's shout snapped her out of her crisis. This wasn't the time to break down. They were in another death game. Losing it here meant Game Over. Not only for her but for her companion. Her hand tightened on her sword. Never again. Katsumi took a moment to assess the situation. The Cyber Jaguar was about halfway on health, thanks to Shane's efforts. Still... only halfway? They needed to hit its critical spot. A few strikes to that should lay it low. Katsumi's eyes ran over the metallic body. The plates overlapped going backward, providing an excellent defense. That meant her best shot was underneath.

    "Captian, lift it up!" Katsumi said racing forward. Once she was close enough, the raven-haired swordswoman dropped to her knees. Her sword flashed twice as she slid beneath it. A neat little red X marked its stomach. The Cyber Jaguar's health dropped. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near what they needed. Katsumi wanted to scream again, this time in rage. How in the hell could they beat this thing? Perhaps it was time to draw a little attention. Katsumi pulled open the backdoor she'd put in place beforehand. Her photon sword glowed with pale blue light. The resultant leap and stab blasted a hole through the Cyber Jaguar. It howled, its HP rapidly decreasing until it burst into blue pixels.

    An idea struck Katsumi at that moment. "I'm an idiot!" She cried out. The swordswoman plopped down on the ground. A red transparent keyboard popped up in front of her. A similar screen appeared before her. "We don't need to shut the game down, at least not initially. We just need to introduce a little virus." Katsumi muttered to herself. She was so intent on the screen, the Rune Knight missed leveling up. Each of them had jumped several levels. Images flashed rapidly through the screen before her. "Aha!" She flipped the screen around so Shane could see it properly. It depicted a map of the area with several large red dots depicted.

    "It looks like no one has really hunted in the jungles. That's good since it leaves us three choices of Field Bosses." She explained rapidly. Excitement coursed through her entire body. "Each Boss is a door into the main code of GGO. A direct door that can be used to change the main processes of the game itself." She glanced at Shane's face to ensure he was following. "That means if we can defeat one of these field bosses, I can plant a virus that will swap the values of EXP granted by kills. Essentially PvP will become worthless and mob kills will become very desirable. It'll give us time to level up, perhaps even bring a full squad into the game to shut the whole thing down." The swordswoman beamed up at Shane. This plan was brilliant. Her uncle wouldn't notice it until GGO was completely shut down.  

    WC: 634
    TWC: 7,412/14,000


    Last edited by Katsumi on 29th October 2019, 11:45 am; edited 1 time in total


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 29th October 2019, 3:28 am

    Just when Shane thought that it was over for them, with seeing Katsumi bent over gasping for air, the black-haired Rune Knight had suddenly jolted awake at his shout and in return, called for him to lift the Cyber Jaguar. Raising an eyebrow over the request, Shane wondered if he could do it with the level of strength he had in the game. He hadn’t attempted anything that required logic-defying strength in this virtual environment, this being the first. With the Cyber Jaguar’s tail coiled around his left arm, Shane moved forward to meet the Jaguar’s charge and expecting a slash from its mechanical claws, the male Rune Knight ducked low and punched the jaguar in the gut to lift it into the air.

    Katsumi’s sword glowed as she slid beneath the lifted Cyber Jaguar, drawing two red lines that formed an X across the creature’s stomach. But it wasn’t enough. The Cyber Jaguar ignored Katsumi and pounced on Shane again the moment it got back on its feet, but Shane was quicker. He shoved the submachine gun into the jaguar’s open mouth while the creature thrashed.

    “Katsumi!!” Shane called out again for the swordswoman to her thing with the sword when all of a sudden the glowing sword in her hand shone with a blue light. A single blow took what was left of the Cyber Jaguar’s health, the blade piercing through the initially unbreakable defense of its metal plating and then it disappeared in a burst of blue pixels.

    Shane quickly checked his HP bar and found that he had only taken a rather small wound, just missing 25% of his total HP. It was negligible. Rather he was more interested in Katsumi’s exclamation of her intelligence right before she summoned a transparent keyboard and screen. Watching the girl type on the keyboard as she spoke about some virus, Shane multitasked between watching and checking the stats on his character and what he would do with the new bunch of skill points that he obtained after leveling up.

    The “Aha!” from her quickly got back his attention and when he looked back at her, she had already turned the screen to him. When Katsumi explained the plan to Shane only did he finally understood.

    “So, which of these three should we target? Are any of them actually killable by a party of two?” Shane queried as he looked at the locations of the three Bosses. They were rather far apart, so there would probably be no chance of them stumbling into another one while fighting. Shane tried tapping on the screen, on one of the red dots in particular, to see if any information would pop up regarding the bosses,” Shane answered as he looked at Katsumi with a look of concern.

    “Is there anyone you would recommend bringing into the game? It would be better they were in LAO previously?” Shane considered his words as he suggested it. “But before that, since we aren’t caring about your uncle noticing anymore, could you give me a weapon? Are there shields in this game?”

    [515 words]
    [Total WC: 10533 / 14000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 29th October 2019, 12:52 pm

    Katsumi rubbed her chin at Shane-sensei's question. How to answer that one? "In theory, its possible for any boss to be defeated by a group of two. All it requires is sufficient levels, gear or items, preparation, and strategy. A complimentary build between the pair is usually helpful as well. One can take the damage while the other deals the damage. Kinda like what we just did." She flashed him a smile. Her attention turned back toward the map. Brushing the transparent screen, the raven-haired swordswoman brought up the general stats of each boss. A wince tugged at her facial features. Then a speculative one crossed her face.

    The Rune Knight was deep in thought as Shane asked his followup question. It went in one ear, scrambled around a bit, then went out her other ear. His final question brought her out of her thoughts. "What gave you that idea, Shane taichou? The magic I used? That was a choice between being discovered and dying. I'd rather be discovered than die, wouldn't you? As for getting you a shield, that's absolutely doable." Katsumi brought up another screen and moved it over to Shane. "Enter the information you want there. You may want more than one since all items here have durability... uh, your shields will shatter after a certain amount of damage." Katsumi rubbed the back of her head. Trying to translate everything to a noob was hard. A little flashing blinked in the corner of her HUD.

    "Oh! We leveled up, Shane-sensei! Do you know how to improve your character?" Katsumi pulled up her character screen. They'd gone up something around six levels. That wasn't a good sign. The Cyber Jaguar would have had to be around level ten to level fifteen. If it was the weakest of their opponents, they needed to tread carefully. The swordswoman carefully applied her skill points. Each one was allocated to allow her to use a sniper rifle. The leftovers were dumped into her SPD stat. One couldn't go wrong with high SPD. With that finished, Katsumi turned back to her keyboard. A few strokes brought forth lots of extra ammo for both Shane-taichou and herself.

    After collecting her portion - a collection of pistol and sniper ammunition - Katsumi sat back on her heels. She watched the jungle surrounding them. As long moments passed, Shane's question finally filtered back through her mind. "I don't think...bringing veterans of LAO is a good idea, Shane-sensei. Those that managed to survive are scarred by the experience. Not to mention a great many blame me for their misfortunes as well..." Her voice got quieter as she spoke, trailing off at last. Katsumi stared hard into the darkness of the jungle. She didn't want Shane taichou to ask the question. People always asked the question. She always answered honestly. It changed the way they looked at her. Moments of silence passed before Katsumi continued. "Besides, you saw how many people showed up for the Magic Council reward. No one wants to accidentally get trapped in a death game or worse, die in one. Not for any kind of reward. Unless you know someone crazy enough to join us, we're kind of stuck without reinforcements or backup."

    Satisfied by her staring that the jungle was clear, Katsumi turned toward Shane. She spread the map horizontally in front of them. A couple taps made the whole thing bigger. "I have a crazy idea to beat these field bosses. They're pretty standard. Titus the Seismic Smasher, level 34, high in attack power, moderate defense, moderate movement speed. Regulus the Lightning Lion, level 43, high movement, moderate to fast movement, low defense. And finally, Wallace the Land Leviathon, level 45, high defense, moderate attack, low movement speed." She pointed to each as she spoke. Their general stats popped up, hovering above the corresponding dot. "Obviously each one has special attacks we can't plan for. Normally, a party - four to six players - would need to be at least level 30 to take on any of these monsters. Well, 28 for Titus. However, we've only got two people - which normally needs a higher level - and limited time to stop wholesale slaughter. Seems kinda helpless." Considering it normally took many kills to level up even once and her uncle had tilted things against their preferred path, it seemed hopeless too.

    Katsumi smiled slowly. She brought up a floating picture of the Aerocycle. Stats appeared next to the bike. "However, there are vehicles in GGO. My uncle would have to compensate for that. The Aggro - the likelihood they'll attack - will be very high and will probably affect vehicles. As such, we can use them against each other. Ride a bike or car in there, get their attention and then run them into each other. They attack each other and we finish off the remaining boss. Mind you, we still have to level to at least twenty for this to work. Twenty-five for a safe margin. Plus, we need another two bikes that I can mod to be fast enough against these bosses." Katsumi looked up at Shane. "Sound good to you, Shane taichou?"

    WC: 864
    TWC: 8,276/14,000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 30th October 2019, 12:29 am

    Shane nodded at the raven-haired swordswoman’s remarks and then he turned to the map the same as Katsumi. The data on each boss was pulled up and Shane got a good look at them, but other than their appearance and names, there wasn’t much else he could decisively conclude from the rest of the data. At least not without properly taking a look at them first. He had no basis for a reference, so the least he could do was to memorize their appearance names for a smoother discussion. When Katsumi agreed to his request for additional weaponry as well as how he might need more than one shield, Shane began to ponder about it as well. They were to be fighting three bosses, and with just the two of them, the more firepower they could output the better.

    “Right. In that case, I will need more than just a shield. Since defending isn’t gonna do any good, and I can’t even use lethal force against the human players, I’m gonna need a sword, a shield and a pair of tonfa,” Shane mumbled to himself as he scrolled through the screen and began selecting whichever weapons he would need from the system’s available resources. Each time he pressed down on the image of a weapon, it would materialize below the screen, assembling itself from nothing but blue pixels in mid-air before landing on the ground. When he was finally done, there were a pile of outlandish weapons by his feet. Outlandish, in the sense that this was a game that focused on the utilization of firearms, while everything that Shane had chosen were melee weapons.

    Smirking, Shane attached the shield to his back in a similar way to how he did in the real world. Next up was a photon sword that Shane clipped to his belt. The pair of tonfa would be used on human opponents, so he allowed them to disappear into his inventory. A combat knife was also present, one out of metal instead of photons, so Shane just secured it to his left thigh. He picked the very familiar handgun with a grin, and slotted the seven-shot high caliber handgun into the holster on his right thigh. The rest of the ammunitions that he could use was stored in his inventory and then Shane began arranging the newly gained skill points.

    After scrolling up and down through the skill tree, Shane split it three ways going to SPD, STR and the balance to his mastery with handguns. The SMG provided him with the ability to shoot in bursts, but the Rune Knight Captain was still far more used with handguns and more lethal. When he had spoke about bringing others in to the game with them, the response from Katsumi had been subdued and for a moment, Shane could sense something troubling her. He frowned slightly in concern, but if she wanted to speak about it, she would. No point to prying it out of her.

    The girl recovered in a split second and then began explaining her strategy to him. It was a high risk, high return strategy but as he listened to it, Shane smirked. He most definitely had no problems with employing this. Shane made a mental note to pay more attention to this Spec Ops member. However, before he could convey his agreement to Katsumi’s plan in full, the Rune Knight Captain’s right hand instantly shot to the handgun by his right thigh and he held it up at chest level, while he slightly bent his kness. His left hand supported the bottom of the grip as he turned around and began to sweep his gaze across the bushes behind him.

    “Plan’s good. But before that, we got company. How many more do we need before we reach twenty-five? The levels?” Shane quipped before charging forwards, moving his gun arm down and swiping upwards with the knife he had pulled from its sheath in one fluid movement. The same time he had moved, something had erupted from the bushes as well. The cold steel of the combat knife slashed through the air and collided against a metal pole with a hollow clang, followed by the sounds of three ringing gunshots.

    The shrieks of the predator turned prey was loud as it retreated, but still in plain view. The shrieks were joined by a chorus of hoots and shouts, as its companions began to show themselves. This time, the name of the creature was very plainly shown above its head.
    “Cyborg Apes,” Shane read out breathlessly, judging the ridiculousness of the monsters. All of them were part monkey and part robotics, and they walked upright. Most of them held metal sticks and clubs as weapons. And there were five of them.

    “Time to level up!” he called out to Katsumi who wasn’t any slower in reacting to the situation. With a combat knife in his left and his Magnum pistol in his right, Shane charged at the one he had clashed with earlier. It was bound to be a very messy fight, but they would probably be able to win it. The Cyborg Ape wore an expression of rage and proceeded to seek revenge. Another two charged at Shane at the same time from each sides, each wielding a large club. Shane increased his speed and leapt into the air, flipping himself over the one he had injured. The barrel of his gun aligned perfectly with the top of the creature’s head and within two seconds, Shane had let out four blasts from his weapon.

    With these four shots and the three shots earlier, the Cyborg Ape collapsed to the ground as its legs gave way. The HP bar, which had originally dropped to 70%, rushed all the way to the end before the creature disassembled into blue pixels. The death seemed to agitate the two Apes even more and they attempted to fight Shane with renewed vigor and more ferociously. The Rune Knight Captain was quickly engaged in a series of evasive maneuvers as the Cyborg Apes coordinated quite well with each other.

    There were times when he couldn’t dodge in time and Shane had to parry the blows with his combat knife, or shoot at the clubheads to throw them off mark while rolling away. But as the situation played out, Shane began to regain the upper hand. The Cyborg Apes hunted in packs and would often overwhelm players or their preys with their overwhelming numbers. Extended combat wasn’t their forte and their stamina just didn’t allow it. As their movements grew more and more sluggish, Shane sheathed the combat knife to free his left hand.

    He spun around as one of the Cyborg Apes swung downwards with its club, and used his left hand to grab the Ape’s neck. Catching it by the neck with his left hand, Shane jammed the barrel of his Magnum and repeatedly fired, releasing the contents of the cartridge into the back of the Ape. It shrieked out loud in its dying throes. Shane leapt back slightly when the remaining Ape fighting him attempted to strike him with a flurry of swings, but the moment the club touched the ground, Shane stepped down on it with his left foot and instantly send his right foot smashing into the Ape’s nose. The damage wasn’t much though.

    But Shane had only done it to buy him some time. By the time the Cyborg Ape had got back up on its feet, the gun was jammed into its face and once more Shane fired till his gun was empty. A flick of his fingers released the emptied cartridge while his left hand popped a new one with the agility of a trained soldier. He was turning to look at Katsumi and how she was doing when even more hoots erupted from the jungle to their right. The sounds of their battle had gotten the attention of the rest of the pack.

    “Summoning those Aerocycles would be a very good idea now,” Shane laughed out loud in the face of their crisis.

    [1353 words]
    [Total Personal WC: 8071 / 14000]


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    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 85
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 1,418

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 5th November 2019, 8:51 pm

    Katsumi was amazed by the sheer pile of weapons Shane brought up for himself. He clearly knew what he was looking for. She could only hope he knew how to use them as well. The odd part was they were mostly melee weapons. Given GGO focused on range, she wondered how the captain planned to make up for the discrepancy. Enemies weren't usually like the Cyber Jaguar. They had ranged attacks or high defense to close the distance. The latter usually came with devastating melee attacks. Katsumi pulled the window to her before closing it. A Hephaestus II sniper rifle materialized at her feet. A Triton IV pistol lay next to it. Katsumi also took the time to upgrade her generic photon sword to a Hades III. Not the best arsenal but it worked for her current level. Everything went into her inventory.

    Shane's question seemed a little strange to the gamer. How many levels? Do the math! They were both sitting at level six. She had about half an XP gauge full. Give or take that was eighteen and a half levels before they were level twenty-five. A long way to go for this plan. There had to be a quicker way - that didn't involve the deadly PVP - to accomplish their goal. The ringing of combat knife on metal pole brought Katsumi's attention around. Oh! They were being attacked now! Katsumi wanted to rub her temples. They needed to get a common dialogue between them before they got killed.

    The Hephaestus appeared in the swordswoman's hands. A booming shot rang out. The head of one of the attacking 'Cyborg Apes'. Critical hit! The sniper rifle vanished to be replaced by the photon sword. The blade on this one was purple. Shane appeared to be taking on three of the enemies. That left one for Katsumi. It rushed for her already, swinging wildly with a club. The raven-haired woman shook her hair out of her face. Amateur. She stepped into one swing. A purple flash filled the area immediately around the ape. When Katsumi reappeared on the other side, the Ape's HP bar was down by half. "Tsk." Single strike kills were what Katsumi was good at. It would take some getting used to that things worked differently here in GGO. It only took a stab to the base of the skull to finish the ape. Her XP bar crept up in response.

    Katsumi chewed her lip. The Cyber Apes were low level then. Crowd mobs. Not what they needed. More hoots - the battle cry of the Apes - echoed from the forest to the right. Shane seemed to have lost it. He made an unreasonable request while laughing. "What?! I can't just whip up the Aerocycles! I have to build them from the ground up, coding each bit! My uncle made weapons generic, vehicles each unique!" The overwhelming odds they were about to face were getting to Katsumi. She felt her chest tighten in fear. Anxiety caused her heart to beat quickly. Why did this have to happen? She had a plan!

    "Taichou! I'm logging out! Hold them off for..." She checked the time on her HUD. In-game time was faster. Katsumi quickly did the math. "Ten minutes. That'll give me enough time to code one Aerocycle for us if I rip some code. I'll code everything else we need once I'm back in the game." She pulled up the red keyboard. A few taps placed a little clicker in Shane's belt. "Push the button for an instant reload. It should last for fifty to one hundred clips. Stay in this clearing!" Katsumi pushed her logout button.

    The Rune Knight awoke rapidly and shot upright. Reaching out, she dragged a computer close. "Two minutes. Two minutes." Images flashed across her screen. Her eyes moved with them. Her fingers typed rapidly. To her right, a three-dimensional model began to take shape. Sweat rolled down her forehead as the deadline drew near. This would be shoddy work. Another one would have to be made to replace this. Katsumi growled, slamming the last parts into place. Laying back down, Katsumi dove back into GGO.

    The swordswoman reappeared in the glade. The Hephaestus sniper rifle was nestled in her hands. The barrel boomed a few times as she picked off a couple of the Cyber Ape swarm. There were too many. The sniper rifle disappeared, replaced by her sword and pistol. A few taps had the new Aerocycle appearing beside her. "Shane-taichou! This way! Hurry!" She couldn't see anything with the amount of Cyber Apes in the glade. Katsumi frowned, holding off the few that engaged her, best she could. What the hell was in the jungle food? These mobs should not be in such a large swarm. The swordswoman could see her HP dropping rapidly. With so many mobs around, she couldn't put her SPD to good use. They were constantly landing hits. "Taichou! Hurry! Please!" She called out one more time. Hopefully, he could hear her. Otherwise, they were both headed for the graveyard.

    WC: 846
    TWC: 9,122/14,000


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    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 638
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 88,425

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 13th November 2019, 12:58 am

    Shane heard what Katsumi was saying but the meaning of it was lost on him. He wasn’t a gamer after all, and even in the game right now, he still had trouble trying to separate his real world logic from game world logic. But he didn’t have much time to break down whatever she was saying. The summoned Cyber Apes had arrived, and in a far greater number, Shane found himself constantly on the move with his pistol in his left hand and his knife in the right. The knife served as his main defense, using it to deflect any melee blows that the blasted monkeys could attempt with their crude weapons, while the gun in his left hand would be firing non-stop anytime he found an opening. Often, he found himself emptying an entire magazine just to kill one Ape, with Katsumi thankfully giving him a device that was buckled to his belt. Every time he was out of ammo, the Rune Knight would press down on it, instantly refilling his ammo.

    Despite managing to fight off the hordes, Shane was still anxiously looking at his health bar that was steadily dropping as he continued to fight. Katsumi had asked for ten minutes and he had just fought through two. In that two minutes, he had blazed through twenty cartridges worth of bullets and his health had already dropped to 60%, the bar now no longer green but yellow instead.

    “This won’t do,” Shane spoke to himself as he looked around him. Slashing and kicking and shooting as he pushed his way through, Shane finally reached one of the tallest trees in the area and sheathed his knife. With his right hand free, Shane leapt upwards as high as he could and caught the lowest branch with his right hand. With a grunt, the Rune Knight singlehandedly pulled himself up the branch. Retreating back from the branch towards the trunk, Shane climbed as quickly as he could in a race against the Cyber Apes who were climbing up the same tree as well. He would fire every once in a while, keeping the Cyber Apes from climbing too quickly.

    It wasn’t until Shane reached the highest possible point that he could climb to and he crouched on the branch. With one hand supporting himself, he leapt from branch to branch around the tree crown, firing at will at the Cyber Apes that tried to climb up after him. By then, it had been nine minutes and he had spent five minutes in the trees. When his pistol ran out of bullets again, Shane automatically pressed down on the clicker again, but the automatic reload never came. The Rune Knight clicked a few more times on the device while stomping down with his right leg on one of the Cyber Apes that managed to make it, finally realizing that he had actually used up all hundred clips.

    Without wasting time, he manually reloaded the weapon and kept on firing to keep the creatures at bay. With every screech or howl that indicated a Cyber Ape’s death, Shane’s experience bar would slowly climb. When he finally shot down Cyber Ape number thirty, the experience bar for Shane finally reached its end point and a notification informed the player that he had gained a level. It was also the same time that Shane finally heard someone calling for him.

    “Katsumi!” Shane blurted in response. Inching his way to the very end of the branch, Shane could see that his coworker was directly beneath him, and she had managed to bring one Aerocycle with her, regardless of how she had done it. The Cyber Apes were relentlessly swarming around her and without any time to waste, Shane pulled off a crazy stunt, not even sure if it would result in his instant death by the game standards. A wild screech to his left caught his attention and when he turned, he was surprised to find a Cyber Ape having leapt off from the tree and trying to catch him in mid-air. It was failed attempt, but the Cyber Ape had managed to push Shane slightly off course and grabbed onto his ankles.

    Shane felt the tug but before he could do anything about it, the Cyber Ape had crashed into its own brethren, resulting in a pile of broken Cyber Apes, which Shane landed on. It wasn’t the landing pad that he would have preferred but at least he survived the fall. When he looked at his HP bar again, 10% had been deducted, possibly the fall damage.

    “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Shane called back to Katsumi as he fought his way through the unending horde of Apes and quickly hopped onto the passenger seat of the Aerocycle. He whipped out two guns from his inventory and fired to his left and right with precision, not enough to kill the Apes but just enough to push them and their grubby hands from attacking the Rune Knight duo. “You drive! I’ll shoot!”

    [838 words]
    [Total WC: 8909 / 14000]


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    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt

      Current date/time is 17th November 2019, 6:48 pm