Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chapter 26 - Smuggler's Reach

To say that Don Veta was pleased to see us was only partly true. He was, of course, very happy to see his daughter again. He was less pleased to see Jackson still drawing breath, instead of having his accident. That changed when I informed him of how I found his daughter, and what had been done to her. When I told him that I brought Jackson to him for a father’s retribution, he smiled at me, just barely covering his rage. “You have done well. Whenever you are on Primo, come and see me. Do you know where you will be going next?”

“Well, I’m looking for a quiet yard where I can have some improvements made to my ship, and maybe another I ‘found’. After that, I’ll be heading through the Gate, probably out of Imperial space.”

The Don nodded, and said, “Well, as thanks for bringing this scum to me, I will do two things for you. First, here are the coordinates of an outpost where you can get the work you need done. My name will allow you into the shipyards, since they usually only work with trusted clients. Second, I will give you a letter of recommendation. Take it to Elnaril Triswynn on the knelfi world of Diymia, and he will know you are a trustworthy sort. He may also have work for you, should you be interested.”

I bowed my head to the Don, and said, “Thank you, sir, and may your ‘discussion’ with Mr. Jackson bring you everything you wish to hear.” The Don laughed at that, and had one of his men bring us a bottle of wine on our way out. Just so he could say to his men that he gave us something for our trouble. The real rewards were, of course, the stuff we’d stolen, and a place to get our ships modded, if I decided to keep Jackson’s ship.

Said ship, when we found it, was a pretty sweet little thing. As the title said, it was a light shuttle, but that hardly did it justice. This little beauty had been put together for the sole purpose of moving about as quietly as possible, and then making a loud noise when you got there. It was as much a ‘light shuttle’ as a battleship was a ‘large boat’. This was an Imperial Navy assault shuttle. Checking the files I had access to, it seemed that this was an old surplus model that had been sold, unarmed, after the last war, twenty years ago. I don’t know where Jackson got his hands on it, but he’d updated the shields and engines to current military specs, and he’d gotten a full stealth setup on it. The little thing wouldn’t carry much, but it was small enough to fit within the Raven’s cargo bay.

We’d stopped by the Raven before heading this way to unload the goodies (and the new slaves) and pick up the package for the Sunside bigwig. I put the package in the shuttle, and told the others to head back to the ship, except for Shearah. A We’d meet them in orbit, after flying the shuttle, which I named Stiletto (instead of the Willing Wench, as it had been named), to make the delivery.

Mail Order Delivery

Samantha Hart, of the Hart Trading Company on Primo has purchased a ‘special’ package through an agent at the Choson Ring. Now, she just needs her new toy delivered to her residence on Primo so she can enjoy the Sunside’s heat. Discretion preferred.
Difficulty
D
Task
Deliver the stasis pod (unopened) to Samantha Hart’s residence.
Payment
50000 Credits (Bonus of 50000 Credits if delivery is not noted on local news networks. Bonus of 50000 credits if package delivered within 7 days.)

We got the full payment, since there was no news about Ms. Hart getting her new ‘pool boy’, who happened to look a lot like the new Emperor, and we beat the seven day timeframe. Pretty clear where that doppleganger sold at the slave auction back on Choson Ring went now. But the kinks of rich business women didn’t concern me, so long as I got paid for helping to service them.

The shuttle flew like a dream, and soon were were docking with Raven in orbit. While I was gone, the crew had taken the initiative to lock the two gravcars we ‘appropriated’ to the ceiling, leaving plenty of space clear for the shuttle to land. Because it was so small, it only took up a quarter of our cargo space. According to Shearah, the shuttle was fully functional, and hyperspace capable, so I just had to find some weapons and install them.

Once we broke orbit, we made our way to the outpost given to us by the Don. Smuggler’s Reach was, as the name suggested, a haven for smugglers, cutthroats, and ne’er-do-wells. Not the kind of place you’d want to take your family for a vacation, unless your vacations included the possibility of getting stabbed for your wallet, but it was a sight better than some of the places you might end up when you needed to find contacts on the less than legal side of things.

The outpost was based in a series of hollowed out asteroids, linked by several permanent walkways. From what I had been told, the authorities knew about it, and so long as things didn’t get out of hand, they were content to let it remain. The reason, of course, was because it served to concentrate anyone they probably wished to keep an eye on in one area, so if there was a time where they did need to intervene, they’d have a target to hit. Kindof like how RL cops know which clubs the local Mob owns, but they don’t do anything to rock the boat unless mob violence is getting out of hand.

Anyways, we docked in the shipyard, which they let us into once we gave Don Veta’s name as a reference. That was the easy part. The hard part was getting all the upgrades I wanted to both Raven and Stiletto. And let me tell you, it was one hell of a price tag. Even stretching my Negotiation skill as much as I could, I still ended up draining most of the money out of not only my account, but also the ship and corporate accounts! No one complained, though, since I was in charge of the Corporation, and it was going to make our ship the nastiest smuggler around. Did manage to get them to chop almost 20k off the final price, though.

Ship Upgrades
Mk VII Armor Plating (Concealed)
25000
Using advanced materials to replace the hull plating with composites that have greater strength than the original. Repairing hull damage becomes more expensive as a result. Requires 2 weeks in a shipyard.
NullScan Hull Paint
4300
Replace the standard black paint job with a ‘darker-than-black’ scheme that disguises the ship’s lines, and passively absorbs sensor radiation, making the ship much harder to detect while not using gravitic engines. Requires 4 hours in a shipyard.
Mk IV Reactor
200000
Provides a 25% better power output at 13% better efficiency than the current Mk III reactor. Useful for keeping weapons, engines, shields, and life support all working at peak levels simultaneously. Requires 48 hours in a shipyard.
Military-grade shields
125000
An upgrade to the shield emitters allowing for military-strength shielding from attacks and impacts. An improvement of 125% over current civilian model. Requires 12 hours in a shipyard.
Enhanced Thrusters
3000
Minor physical adjustments to thrusters, combined with enhanced control software, giving a 10% better performance rating, with 40% better efficiency. Requires 4 hours in a shipyard.
Mk V Gravitic Engines
400000
Replaces the current Mk IV Gravitic engines with the Mk V model, giving 25% greater range, and sublight speeds up to .5c. Requires 96 hours in shipyard.

Shuttle Upgrades
Mk VII Armor Plating (Concealed)
2500
Using advanced materials to replace the hull plating with composites that have greater strength than the original. Repairing hull damage becomes more expensive as a result. Requires 2 weeks in a shipyard.
NullScan Hull Paint
2000
Replace the standard black paint job with a ‘darker-than-black’ scheme that disguises the ship’s lines, and passively absorbs sensor radiation, making the ship much harder to detect while not using gravitic engines. Requires 4 hours in a shipyard.
Mk IV Reactor
25000
Provides a 25% better power output at 13% better efficiency than the current Mk III reactor. Useful for keeping weapons, engines, shields, and life support all working at peak levels simultaneously. Requires 48 hours in a shipyard.
ID Spoofer
1500
Special device allows for switching between real and false vehicle identification signals. Quality of fake depends on Forgery skill.
Military-grade shields
100000
An upgrade to the shield emitters allowing for military-strength shielding from attacks and impacts. An improvement of 125% over current civilian model. Requires 12 hours in a shipyard.
Enhanced Thrusters
1500
Minor physical adjustments to thrusters, combined with enhanced control software, giving a 10% better performance rating, with 40% better efficiency. Requires 4 hours in a shipyard.
Mk V Gravitic Engines
40000
Replaces the current Mk IV Gravitic engines with the Mk V model, giving 25% greater range, and sublight speeds up to .5c. Requires 96 hours in shipyard.

Since both the Shuttle and the Ship were getting worked on, and they were doing multiple upgrades at the same time, that meant we only had to wait on the longest upgrade, the two week armor replacement. That was to be expected, since they were literally taking the hull apart.

That meant we had two weeks on station, with nothing to do. Fortunately, that drone body we stole from Jackson was one of those really high end models, that were almost impossible to tell from a normal person. OK, so it was a sexbot body, crafted in the likeness of one of the hottest women in the world. And it was Raven’s brand new physical avatar.

This meant we had Raven actually with us, instead of just talking through our bracers. I shared the cost with the ship account to get her equipped with weapons and armor, so she could go ‘have fun’ with the rest of us. Seems she really didn’t like that she had to remain behind when everyone else got to go get into exciting gunfights and the like. I also ‘invested’ 10k on two copies of a hacking suite so she and I could get into enemy systems if when we needed to.

The slaves we picked up from the gambling hall were all pretty much worthless, as far as a ship’s crew went. None of them had any marketable skills, other than serving drinks or fucking clients. And I didn’t want to settle down and start a brothel, at least not at this time. Even if my debuff let me, I couldn’t free them in Imperial space, since they were all non-humans, and would get enslaved again immediately. This left me with seven extra mouths to feed while we stayed at one of the local hotels, which was draining my account further, and I hadn’t even armed the shuttle yet!

That, of course, meant that I would have to make some money, somehow. Fortunately, when you’re on a station with a bunch of underworld types and spacers, there’s always a few things you can count on to be present, no matter what: alcohol, hookers, and gambling. I had my girls, so I didn’t really care about the other two, the gambling was a profitable venture. If I could win.

OK, so I might have cheated a bit. And maybe hacked a few systems to get free booze. Or a few other minor things. And seduced a few people while convincing them to make stupid investments in a mine on Ganymede. And maybe I practiced forging IDs. But is that a crime, really? 66000 credits in profit isn’t THAT much.

Analyze has increased to 12/100.
+1 WIS

Seduction has increased to 12/100.
+1 CHA

Con has increased to 10/100.
+2 CHA

Computers has increased to 4/100.
+3 WIS

Software has increased to 4/100.
+3 INT

Hardware has increased to 4/100.
+2 DEX, +1 WIS

Hacking has increased to 4/100.
+2 INT, +1 WIS

Lockpicking has increased to 4/100.
+3 DEX

Forgery has increased to 4/100.
+2 WIS

Judge Intentions has increased to 6/100.
+2 WIS

Gambling has increased to 8/100.
+3 CHA

Of course, then I heard about the all station Poker Tournament.




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Be sure to read my published works!

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ52G37

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VR7M41/

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):


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Friday, June 23, 2017

Chapter 84 - Firewatch

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEE!

OK, evil possessed whatever the fuck the queen is sounds pretty angry that we just torched… well, everything. Too bad I’m not in a mood to care about her feelings just yet.

“Yukiko, Nithroel, Kamla, and I will hold the bitch’s attention! The rest of you, this is no different from any other large boss fight we’ve been in. KILL THE BITCH!”

And then it was too late for more, as the Queen, moving faster than I would have expected her to given her size, was upon us. Yukiko and Kamla attacked the creature’s legs, while Nithroel used the mobility of her wings to attack the creature’s torso from above. Severa darted in, slashing at the creature, always moving to avoid counters. Della healed us whenever someone was hit too hard, and Hrozne laid on some impressive debuffs which weakened the Queen.

Kylana surprised me. For the first time, I saw what a Transmuter can do when they focus their attentions on the enemy’s body. The Queen’s exoskeleton would turn soft or brittle in some areas, or perhaps her joints would lock at an inopportune time. And she laid buffs on all our fighters, as well, making them grow in size and strength, so that they were hitting the Queen harder and faster than before.

And then there was me. Still in my drake form, Kylana placed that buff on me, and suddenly I was almost as large as the Queen herself. Roaring a challenge, I charged in, and my clawed hands grabbed the Queen’s two hands, crushing them in my grip. She made that screeching sound again, and attempted to cast a spell, but I breathed hellfire in her face, burning her terribly.

There’s a reason why overly large bosses aren’t used that much in VRMMOs. Sure, in the old school MMOs, it seemed like every boss was at least twice the size of the players, if not more. But when you’re playing on a computer screen, and all the characters are grouped up, then you needed a big target to prevent constantly losing track of the enemy in the scrum. But in VR, where everyone is controlling their own characters directly, that just makes your boss a bigger target, with bigger weak spots for rogues and other precision damage types to take advantage of.

In the old days, a boss fight would have all the melee types scrummed up against the boss, while ranged types hung back, never moving as they cycled through the ‘correct’ sequence of hotkey attacks, and so on. A boss fight was basically a 10 minute solid grind, maybe up to a whole hour if it was a particularly nasty raid. It was long, and frankly a bit boring unless you were really into that kind of thing.

In the VR era, however, boss fights were fast, brutal, and unpredictable. Most, regardless of level, were over within 5 minutes. A couple of our really nasty boss fights took almost 30 minutes, but they were ones we didn’t have any advantages over. Rule of thumb was that if your fight lasted more than 10 minutes and you hadn’t gotten the boss under half, you should run, because you were all going to wipe. That’s because bosses that were the same size as you found it easier to attack YOUR weaknesses.

The fight with the Queen lasted 20 minutes, once I locked down her arms and kept her from casting spells. We discovered quickly that spirits, like some other types of creatures, didn’t have weak points to crit on, so we had to grind down her HP the hard way. But the buffs and debuffs made it so we could grind through, and I keept the Queen from unleashing her powerful attacks.

It wasn’t my preferred choice of tactics, but if playing kaiju works, it works. And in the end, hellfire and enchanted steel brought down the ugliest ant I’ve ever seen.

For defeating a Queen Spirit, you have gained the following Perk:

Firewatch
Originally an order of Knights Errant from the kingdom of Ares Mac’ro Tek, on the command of their king, Damian Knight, the Order of the Firewatch was formed to combat the original Invae threats, before the Scourge. As the Invae threat spread, the Order took in all who had the will to fight, no matter their race or their crimes. If you were willing to stand between the Invae and the innocents they took as hosts, then they would see you trained to kill as many as you could before death claimed you.
+10% damage to Invae (after all other effects)
-10% damage received from Invae (after all other effects)

So, a perk and a loredump, huh? Interesting that there was once an order of knights hunting creatures like that. But the loredump hinted that it came with a rather short life expectancy. That was probably a given, since the damn things were really tough to put down unless you had fire on your side. Well, you could probably find weapons that were enchanted specifically against Invae, but those would be rare as hell, in this time, if any still survived.

Grimoire of the Ant
Type
Tool
Rank
Rare
Not a tool for the faint of heart. This tome contains the secrets of summoning the Invae, specifically the breed that appears in our world as Ant-like creatures. To walk this path is a sure road to madness and self-destruction, but there are always those who will take up the mantle of an Ant Summoner, whether out of desperation or spite. Reading this grimoire conveys power and madness. Be warned.

Upon reading:
+1000 INT, -1000 WIS, CHA set to 1
Lose current subclass (if any), and replace it with Ant Shaman.
+10000 Infamy
Your body counts as a prepared vessel for a summoned Ant Spirit.

Insectile Cleaver
Type
Greataxe
Rank
Artifact
Damage
140 – 400
Damage Type
Slashing
This deadly double-bladed axe was made from the mandibles of a Queen Ant Spirit, infused with magic, and inlaid with Mithril, bound to an Adamantine haft. It can only be wielded by one who has faced the Invae in combat, for above all it hungers for the essence of the Invae.
Requires: 100 STR
Requires: Must have faced the Invae (any species) in combat before.

+100 STR, +100 CON, +100 DEX
+200 to all stats when facing Invae
3x damage against Invae
Insect-calling – All Invae and insect-type monsters or magical beasts within 20 miles are drawn to your location.
Insect Foe – All Invae and insect-type monsters or magical beasts attack you on sight.
Invae Fury – Go into a rage, further increasing all stats by 100% for 10 minutes when facing Invae, but taking -50% to Defense. After duration, suffer Exhaustion and -25% to all stats for 1 hour. Can be used 3/day.
Cursed: Deathbound – Once wielded, this weapon cannot be discarded, sold, or traded while the wielder lives. When equipped, it cannot be unequipped until it is used to strike the killing blow on an Invae.

Signet of Ares
Type
Ring
Rank
Unique
This ring was worn by the last King of Ares Mac’ro Tek, Damian Knight, and was his personal signet ring, and sign of his power. Though it contains little of its former glory, one might yet find someone who knows a use for it.

+20 INT, +20 WIS, +20 CHA, +20 Luck
Quest Item

Soulbound Codex
Type
Book
Rank
Unique Artifact
This curious book appears to be undamaged, if rather old, and its pages are completely blank. The book is clearly magical, and cannot be damaged by normal means. Beyond that, its purpose is unknown.

Quest Item

Sekrety Bessmertiya
Type
Book
Rank
Unique Artifact
This book, though written in a foreign tongue, appears to contain what the writer believes is the secrets of immortality. How much of this is truth or lies is uncertain. This item’s true powers cannot be revealed by less than Divine rank skills until they are discovered by its owner. The only clue to its true contents is a smudged name on the inside cover, ‘—sputin’.
Requires: 200 INT

Well, shit. Some of those were pretty badass. And the quest items were definitely a good bonus. Problem was, I needed to find the quest they went to! But the Grimoire of the Ant? Oh HELL no! That thing was going to be locked away somewhere nice and safe, where I won’t ever have to hear or think about it again. I was NOT going to have those creepy fuckers around my people.

What injuries we’d taken during the fight were minimal. Though I am sure Yukiko and Nithroel did not enjoy being kicked in the face by the thrashing Queen, it didn’t have the same impact as her full attack or if she had started using spells. Sure, my DPS was crap for this fight, but locking down the enemy allowed us to kill her with only minor injuries, easily healed. So it wasn’t long before we were ready to go, having only rested for a bit to recover our MP some.

Walking through the door that had opened for us, we found ourselves on a set of stairs, spiraling upwards. Exactly one hundred steps, no more, no less, found us upon a landing made of stone, in a chamber that just barely held all of us. A door made of obsidian sat before us, and, like all the others, it opened at our touch. There was a bright light, and then we were back outside the dungeon, exactly where we had entered it.

The guard outside the entrance of the dungeon nodded to us. Of course, the guard wasn’t there to keep anyone out, but more to just let anyone who overestimated their abilities have a second thought before throwing their lives away, and keep the unwary from entering by accident. He promised that he would send word to the Princess that we’d conquered the dungeon, and come through intact.

As we rode away from Black Rock Hold, we talked about what we had found in the dungeon. Specifically, about this ‘Firewatch’ perk, and what these quest items might lead to.

Nithroel shook her head, and said, “I am not familiar with this order of knights, nor of the kingdom mentioned. If it was from a time before the Scourge, then only a few places may still have memory of them. I would suggest exploring the Royal Library back in Wyrmwood, or seeking access to the legendary archives of the Dwarves. Otherwise, you’re looking at trying to find undiscovered thaigs that may or may not have been broken open and filled with Terrors and Terror-spawn.”

I frowned as I considered that. “Well, getting access to the royal libraries shouldn’t be too big a hassle, since I’m a knight of the realm, and the Princesses are fans. Probably would be something I’d have to do myself, though, not sending someone to research for me.”

“We’ll see if the Dwarves have anything in their archives, first. The Hardbottle Clan is apparently some kind of big shots, so we may have an ‘in’ there, once we complete the quest by bringing Brylres the heads of her former team. This is something to think about over the long term. For now, we have a long road ahead of us. There will be plenty of time for wondering as we’re wandering later.”


With a laugh, we set off, heading away from the Tribeslands that had given us so many interesting adventures, and more than a couple unanswered questions, and looking towards the distant mountains, where the dwarven kingdoms awaited us.



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Be sure to read my published works!

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ52G37

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VR7M41/

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):


LitRPG facebook group:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chapter 25 - Todea

With two (now) derelict ships in tow, we made our way to Primo. OK, so we weren’t actually towing the two ships. I had Raven run the mostly intact ship by remote, after I was able to list it as salvage (since there were no living crew on board). We then used its grapple system to grab the hulk of Black Don’s ship, and drag it with us. That made the going slow, but we got to Primo regardless. The sale of the two hulks netted a cool 500K, mainly because the first ship was mostly intact, and could probably be quickly repaired, once a new bridge was built. So we were basically selling 80% of a ship, and a pile of scrap.

Jaynie and Sheila split the sale of the two slaves, since they were the only free members of the crew. A healer and a mechanic, even if the mechanic was one of the reptilian Ihm, were quite in demand on Primo now, since the recent earthquakes had wreaked havoc on things. They managed to get 200K for them as a set from a crew that was running disaster relief.

Of course, we handled all that on the orbital. No way the two pirate ships were landing, after all. With that cleared, however, we had cargo to deliver, so we began making our way to the town of Todeo, on the night side of Primo. See, Primo is strange, in that it is tidally locked, always one side facing its sun. And yet the atmosphere and tectonic stresses were mild enough that people could live and work on the surface without suits. I suspected that the in-game reason would turn out to be some alien artifact deep in the core, or some craziness like that, but I wasn’t interested in looking for it. Maybe if I had a treasure map, though…

Anyways, we landed at the small emergency field outside of Todeo. Since this was the center of the disaster relief zone, there were a few light freighters lined up in what used to be a nachtwheat field, along with some shuttles, either from larger freighters, or from people moving cargo long distances over the planet. I saw a bunch of emergency shelters nearby, along with what looked like a supply depot in the making.

As we opened the cargo hatch, we were met by a group of Imperial Red Cross workers. Medics and disaster relief outfit, as the old American and International Red Cross organizations used to be. I identified myself as ‘Captain Okuda’ of the Azeroth’s Call, and showed them the mission receipts to deliver the disaster supplies.

Protein Pack Delivery

The recent earthquakes on Primo have devastated food production for some of the smaller towns in the colony. Protein packs may be tasteless, but they are well suited to being used as emergency rations until production can be brought back online.
Difficulty
D
Task
Deliver ten crates of protein packs to the Quartermaster at the relief station outside Primo, outside Todea.
Payment
20000 Credits

Medical Resupply Run

The recent earthquake on Primo, orbiting Proxima Centauri, has caused a shortage of desperately needed medical supplies for some of the smaller towns on the tidally locked planet. Worse, we have reports that pirates are attempting to intercept relief shipments for sale on the black market. While the towns are short on cash due to the disaster, they are willing to offer goods in trade.
Difficulty
A
Task
Deliver four cases of medical supplies to the town of Todea on the Night Side of Primo.
Payment
200 units of Centauri Power Crystals (retail value 200,000 credits)

The two men were extremely grateful for the medical supplies. Things had been running short, it seems, since the last two transports had been hit by Black Don’s crew. Hence the lack of money for the desperately needed medical supplies. It was only four crates, but you could fit a LOT of medical grade nanomeds into a single 1m x 1m x 1m container. There were two of those, and the other two were filled with high grade painkillers and other medicines. They promised that the 200 units of power crystals would be in our hold within the hour.

We had similar good fortune with the Quartermaster. With the disruption to the food production network, emergency rations were all they had to keep people from starving until things could be brought back online. Protein packs were basically a step up from those, since they were tasteless, instead of actively cardboard-flavored. You could eat them raw, if you were desperate, or you could cook them and season them to give some semblance of actual food. Properly rationed, a single protein pack could feed a family of four for a month.

Needless to say, the Quartermaster was happy to see them, since the officials were on the same emergency ration diet, so he paid us quickly. Unfortunately, our request for a shuttle to deliver a crate to a private residence on Sunside was turned down, but it was worth a shot. Best the quartermaster could do was give us a lead on someone who had other work to be done, and might be willing to let go of a transport.

Don Vivaldo Teta was the Sicilian-born local leader of the Biagini Family, a group of ‘legitimate businessmen’ and their associates who occupied much of the underworld of Alpha Centauri. Well built, even at age 60, he looked like he could take on most fighters and at least make them work for the win. He looked up when we were brought in to his cantina, one of the few buildings still standing in the neighborhood.

“Ah, so Georgio sent you to me? And you wish the use of a vehicle to transport your goods to discrete clients, hmm? Well, I believe we can work something out, yes. You see, a soon to be former associate of mine is very clumsy. I’m told that he is about to have an accident, and will no longer have need of his cargo hauler. If you would do me a service, then there may be rewards for you, yes?”

I nodded my agreement, and said, “What kind of service would you ask of us, Don Teta?”

Teta smiled, and said, “Ah good, good. Now, it is a very simple service. This associate, he has been considering seeking fresh employment elsewhere, you know? But he lacked the funds and connections needed to travel freely. So he made a deal with the Green Tiger Clan. They agreed to help him visit his family on C’attan Prime, but they required a price to be paid. They wished a hostage to better negotiate with me in an unrelated matter. I should like this hostage retrieved, before the insufferable Green Tigers get their hands on her. By coincidence, she is being held in a building belonging to my former associate.”

“Naturally, I have men who would normally be used for an undertaking like this, but I believe they are under observation by the Tigers, so they cannot make a move, or the hostage will be harmed. But an unrelated group? This is not something they will expect. Oh, and if you see the building’s owner, I will render extra payment if you arrange for his accident.”

I nodded as he sent over the data on the hostage, the address of the building, and the other particulars. The building was owned by Milo Jackson, a small-time hoodlum with delusions of grandeur. He was a local pimp and sidelined in running a small gambling house. Jackson had the hostage in a secret compartment of his mechanic garage that he used as a cover for his gambling house.

I gathered the crew, except for Carissa, who I left to watch the ship, and we geared up for a bit of dashing villainy. Making our way to Jackson’s garage was easy enough, since most people were in the refugee camps outside the city given that most of the buildings had fallen during the quake. The garage was still standing, and a sign said it was open for business. I saw the guard at the side door that led to the gambling room in the basement.

He put up a hand to stop us, and said, “Sorry, ladies. Private function today. Guests only, I’m afr-AKK!” Random Guard A got a little strange there at the end, probably because I used my pretty new Widowmaker dagger to slice open his throat. Bladeshimmer was definitely a cool ability. His weapons and armor were crap, but that suit was pretty stylish, and would fit me as Mirikon, so we stripped him. Unfortunately, he only kept 200 credits on his bracer, and everything else in the bank, so I didn’t bother stealing that. Did take his keys, though.

Weapons at the ready, I led the way down into the gambling club. The guard at the bottom of the stairs turned to look at me, but I unleashed a Mind Pulse, stunning everyone in the room for ten seconds. Ducking to the side of the door, my Energy Blade and Widowmaker made short work of that guard, while the girls behind me unloaded with their guns, taking down the rest of the guards. Does it sound like I was cheating? Well that was just the in-game equivalent of an entry team tossing a flashbang into the room and then clearing it out while everyone was stunned.

Checking the rest of the room, there were fifteen people left alive in the space. The bartender was the only member of the staff who was free. The two dealers and five waitresses were all slaves, a mix of knelfi, ihm, and one gauz male. The patrons were all human, and all but one were male. I spotted the person I was looking for though, since he was dressed in a stupid purple felt suit with a matching wide-brimmed hat.

Milo Jackson
Human Male
Level 25
Titles: Thug, Pimp, Slaver, Mechanic

Switching to my Psybreaker, I shot the man in the chest, while the girls covered the rest of the group. While he was stunned, I switched weapons again, grabbing my Onyx Psyber, and shooting him in the face with Stun shots until the clip was empty. Must have been a few crits in there, because that was enough to knock the fool out. The man wasn’t armed, but I drained 50K credits from his bracer, as well as the title to a modified light shuttle, which was apparently berthed in a hidden hangar outside the city. As an afterthought, I transferred the slaves to the Corporation.

Rosita Veta
Human Female
Level 3
Titles: Slave, Stepford, Companion

When I found the hostage, my vision pretty much went red with rage. Some sick bastard took a child, couldn’t have been more than twelve years old, and put a Stepford Defiance collar on her, and apparently trained her as a ‘Companion’? Oh HELL no! Using the sick bastard’s code, I deactivated that collar, cursing as the downside of my power boost tried to tell me otherwise, but damnit there were lines you don’t cross! Once the collar was off, I stunned the girl, so she wouldn’t have to see what was about to happen.

Carrying Rosita in my arms, I said, “Kill the free ones. Leave the sick bastard.” Seeing that the hostage was a young girl, the girls turned and coldly blasted the bartender and patrons into oblivion. No clue whether they were involved, but they picked the wrong day to be gambling.

Half an hour later, the best of Milo Jackson’s possessions (including: 20 cases of different types of alcohol, 30 kilos of assorted jewelry and precious metals, several rare art pieces, 8 TB of movies and books, 243 TB of porn, a Mk 10 Mitsuhama Nadeshiko drone body designed to look like Jessica Alba, and a small tactical fusion bomb) were all loaded up into the two grav-haulers Jackson kept in his garage. The seven slaves, one rescued hostage, and my girls all got into the two haulers as well. They were basically built like cargo vans, so there was a lot of room if you didn’t mind getting cozy with people. Oh, yeah, Jackson was in one of them, too, still knocked out.


I took Jackson’s grav-bike for my own, however. It was a sleek craft, and better yet, it was armed! I grinned and led the way back to Don Veta’s place. After what I (assumed) his daughter was put through, it was only right that I offered him the chance to make a personal contribution to Jackson’s demise.



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Be sure to read my published works!

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ52G37

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VR7M41/

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):


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