Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Chapter 102 - Sudden Assault

“Halt! Who goes – GHAAAA!”

“Gate guards have gotten so original with their banter now that we’re in the caverns of the drow, don’t you think?” Strangely, none of my companions responded to my comments, perhaps because I had just ‘accidentally’ relieved the drow guarding the entrance to House Sylrya of his life. He was only level 55, and barely even adequate to be considered my opponent, even if he had been ready to receive my attack. Well, I guess that the cannon fodder is always like that.

After a few seconds, Della just sighed, and said, “Master, you really are too vicious. Are you sure that Loviatar isn’t a better fit for you than Sharess?”

I smirked at Della, and said, “Seems like it has been too long since I gave you a demonstration of why I am a follower of Sharess. Perhaps we’ll do it like in that temple from when we first met?” By now, they’d all heard the story of how I got my start in this world, so there were chuckles at Della’s expense while Jastra used her knowledge of her family’s defenses to open the gateway into their estate and disable a few key wards.

Striding through the doorway with my party, I opened up the guild chat.

Z.Darkmore: Is everyone ready?
Lexichan: Yeah, everyone’s gathered in the shrine.
Raunaeril: Are we really doing a long-distance raid?
Bercilac: And is it true we’re raiding the Drow?
Z.Darkmore: Yes, yes. We’re doing the first raid as Aria of the Twilight, and we are going to completely tear down House Sylrya! Have the raid groups prepared, I will open the portal as soon as I reach the shrine!
Lexichan: We’ll be ready!

We managed to reach the courtyard where the Dark Shrine was located easily enough, having only passed a couple guards who had barely managed to get the alarm out before they died. In the courtyard, however, we found that House Sylrya was not to be taken lightly, as we found ourselves faced with almost eighty opponents, most of whom were slave warriors or tamed monsters, but at least a dozen of which were drow in the level 70-90 range.

The leader of this group of drow (a woman, of course) stepped forward to say something, but stopped as I threw back the hood of my cloak which I’d been wearing to hide my presence while walking through the streets. Nithroel stepped up to my side, and activated a high level protection effect known as Aegis. It could stop all attacks for sixty seconds, but had a really long cool-down. But it was necessary so I wouldn’t be interrupted as I secured our victory. Without needing to worry about getting shot in the back, opening the portal to the dark shrine beneath Lithaes Castle was child’s play.





And through the portal charged the forces under my command. The players and NPCs who made up the Aria of the Twilight were there, charging behind Lexichan as she crashed into the monsters before us. Iqnora the Red had come as well, lending her magics to the assault. Gadriel and Deghu were there, aiding in the assault. Severa’s pet celestial was there, her eyes burning with desire to smight some drow. The vampires Kamla had created and their spawn came, able to bring out their full powers in the Underdark. The werewolves under Savina were there, in their wolf forms, their howls bringing terror to creatures who had never heard a wolf in these lightless depths.

It was the first Guild Raid of Age of Anarchy Online, and it was not going against any raid dungeon or enemy fort, but against a house of the Drow, deep in the Underdark, for the simple reason that one of their number had a quest to complete, and everyone agreed that it would be both an excellent chance to grow stronger (and wealthier), but also one hell of a party. I heard that Cookie had already made preparations for a feast to celebrate.

Of course, the plan was for more than just a simple run of ‘kill everything in the place and take their stuff’. That would work in dungeons, especially in older games like WoD, but here and now, against the drow? We had to make sure that they didn’t do anything crazy. Desperate spellcasters can create all kinds of nasty long-term problems if they are certain the only other choice is death, or a fate worse than death.

And so, while the Aria of the Twilight clashed against the soldiers and slaves of House Sylrya, and began driving into the complex, clearing out rooms as they advanced, I and my party, slipped through the hidden door known only to those members of the ruling family, and made our way to the heart of the complex. I did, after all, have a quest to complete, and I couldn’t have the Matron and her daughters ruining it because she either escaped or tried to do something suicidally dangerous to turn the tide.

This secret passage brought us, through a variety of twists and turns, to an old treasury located just behind the throne room. It was intended as a way for the Matron to be able to escape while the bulk of the enemy forces were concentrated on overcoming the defenses of the House. The door at the other end could only be opened by one with the blood of House Sylrya, so it was useless to invaders, unless they had a traitor in their midst.

Which, naturally, was why there were plenty of traps in this tunnel, because the drow don’t trust ANYONE, most especially their closest family. The traps were all of the extremely lethal type, and most of them would reset themselves after a certain time, allowing them to be used again and again, if anyone tried to move a large group through the halls that were too narrow for one to do more than walk single file. There was no way a rogue or other trapfinding type could stay and constantly disable the traps to allow an army safe passage.

Making it through the traps was easy enough for Severa with her skills, and soon we were in the treasury, as I said. Though it was called a treasury, this was filled less with piles of gold and jewels, and more with items of power and other items which one could use to carve out an existence in the wilds of the Underdark that was more than simply living. Naturally, I stole it all.

With the treasury empty, I listened at the door that was enchanted to allow sound through from the outside, but not from inside the treasury. It was a tricky enchantment, as one might expect. Creating a barrier that muffled sound passing through it, or even perfectly blocked sound from passing it, was simple enough, though one required more power than the other. The selective features on this door, however, were purposely designed to allow someone inside the treasury to do just what I was doing at this moment: eavesdroping on enemies in the throne room. It was a method so that one could determine the danger any invaders posed without risking detection through active spellcasting (there was enough enchantments and passive effects in the building that one would have to be especially skilled to note the sound barrier from the other side, and even then, it looked as though it was cast upon the entire room. It was misdirection and function rolled into one: the utility of being able to call for servants but not have them hear secret meetings disguised the presence of the hidden exit.

Never, ever underestimate the cunning of the drow.

Cunning aside, their arrogance was top notch as well, as evidenced by the fact that no one had thought to put a barrier to prevent eavesdropping in this critical time. Which is why I was able to clearly hear a very interesting conversation.

“Mother, it is impossible with our own forces alone! The invaders are too numerous and high leveled!”

“How did they get through the outer defenses? Were the guards all asleep?”

“One sentry reported seeing a small group of surfacers with a drow approaching the gate just before everything started. They reported the drow looked to be Lady Jastra.”

“WHAT? Has that bitch turned traitor after so long following that Traveler wench Kali?”

“But wasn’t Kali’s group destroyed by surfacers? The spies said that even her property was transferred magically into the ownership of another, and all those undead slaves she made for the priestesses have become free living drow again!”

“A-hem. It would seem that the Lady Jastra is under the control of this surfacer, then.”

“Damnation! If it is a slave collar, then they could easily get the secrets of disabling the outer wards. But how did such a large group get inside without being seen? We should have had reports of a surfacer army before now!”

“The leader of the group Lady Jastra is in appears to be a Warlock. It would seem that, once the wards against transportation were taken down, he opened a portal to wherever his army lay waiting.”

“We have to regroup! There are only a couple hundred of them! Have the mages been sleeping? Tell them not to worry about damaging the estate, but destroy the intruders at all costs!”

“We must flee! If we can escape, then we can rebuild, and repay these surfacers for their treachery!”

“Matron, the wards have been activated under Lady Jastra’s authority! Using transfer magic is impossible until they are dispelled!”

“WHAT? Why wasn’t that bitch removed from the permissions?”

“ENOUGH! If there is no escape, then we must fight, and pray to Lolth to find favor with her in our struggle. This is a trial, and we shall survive it! All of House Sylrya is to join in the defense, not just the soldiers! To fail is to be found as wanting in the eyes of the Spider Queen!”

“Yes, Matron.”

“As you will, Mother.”

“We obey, Mother.”

I decided that this was my cue. With all the stealth I could manage, I slipped out of the hidden passage, and stepped into a large throne room, made with black stones and polished statues of exquisite detail. I was hidden in this little niche I found myself in, which is the only reason my stealth, still only in the Advanced levels, was able to hide me from the Drow. That, and the fact that they were quite preoccupied with the news of the invasion of their House by the Twilight.

With both swords drawn I stepped into the light, and drew the attention of everyone to myself, “Then you are all doomed to be found wanting! Not one of you shall escape this place both alive and free! I swear it upon the name of the Aria of the Twilight!”

Previous Chapter                                    Table of Contents                                           Next Chapter

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/
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Volume 6 - Taking the Show on the Road https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075ZFY3PR

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
Book IV - Aquarian Desert https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756V1VX5

City of Champions Online (Superhero LitRPG):
Issue I - Origin Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SHXQS1

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Epilogue - Patch Notes 5.X

(Virtual Room in NERV HQ)

The destruction of Jagloth was horrifying to watch. Even though they knew such weapons were in the game, the gamemasters and others who worked to try and make sure that the code and hardware kept working smoothly were stunned to see one actually in use.

“Deus meus, ex toto corde poenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando, non solum poenas a Te iuste statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia offendi Te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum. Amen.”

Morgan wasn’t sure who said the prayer, but she mumbled an amen after it was finished. She wasn’t even Catholic! But she was more a once a month type of Baptist, if that. There was always so much work to do. She simply stared, dumbly, at the screen, watching a planet burn. She simply didn’t have the words to express what she felt at the sight.

Isaac, however, did, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Morgan blinked, and turned to look at the man. He was clearly in shock as well, his infinitely refilling plate of nachos forgotten in front of him. “What?”

The head GM of DAtS looked sheepish as he noticed that Morgan was talking to him. “It is an old Hindu text, translated by an American. He was one of the ones that made the first atomic bombs.”

Morgan nodded slowly. “I guess that fits. But how did you know that quote?”

Isaac shrugged. “I was watching Hunt for Red October last night. Never was there a more Scottish Russian naval captain, I assure you.”

A cough came from behind them. “Um, sir? We have an update on the Jagloth situation.”

Isaac laughed, “Yeah, I think we all just saw the last ‘update’.”

“N-no. We have an update on who likely started the Jagloth situation.”

That got Morgan’s attention, fast. “WHAT? We’ve been looking through the logs of everyone on the damn planet? Should have taken another few accelerated weeks before we could comb through everything, right?”

“Yes, ma’am. But one of the techs was listening in on the bridge conversations of the Starlight Raven. A player identified on the forums and chat logs as LeashLord implicated himself as being either behind the Legion, or being somehow able to affect it.”

Isaac nodded. “And once you had a single person’s logs to run through than God knows how many, the search sped up considerably, yes?”

“Yes sir. We found proof of what happened. He didn’t hack the game code, or use any kind of illegal exploit, so the AI didn’t flag his actions for review.”

Isaac sighed. “Damn. Another exploit caused by players doing things we never expected. All right, how did this one happen?”

“It appears that he gained access to both the highly restricted Hundeherstellar nanites, as well as some medical gear and nanoware implant tech. If Jagloth’s police were still around, they’d be arresting him for all manner of ‘illegal use’ and ‘illegal modification’ charges, even before the charges he’d face for actually creating the Legion. But he used in-game tools and in-game knowledge to do so.”

Morgan nodded. “Meaning we wouldn’t catch on until it was too big to stop. Asshole. What are we going to do about making sure this doesn’t happen again?”

A second tech spoke up. “We can put a patch in the monitoring code that flags people with the in-game skills and knowledge, so we can keep a closer watch on them. Having the governments in-game use this as a point to crack down on the illegal nanite trade would probably help make sure anyone with the ability to cause a disaster like this would be noticed and caught either in game or out of it before they can cause another calamity.”

Morgan nodded. “I like that. We can spin that easily, in game and out. We’ll even get some of those people who are complaining to shut up if they realize it was an extreme griefer using in-game tools rather than illegal hacks, which is why we took so long to identify the culprit. We’ll frame it as a privacy issue. ‘Just because we have logs of everything that happens in-game, we do not and will not invade our users’ privacy by actively monitoring everything they do…’ Yeah, that’ll work…”

As Morgan went off into PR spin-space, Isaac turned and looked at the others. “All right. We’ve got a patch to write, and when Morgan comes out of her happy place, she’s going to want to know what penalties we’ve slapped on LeashLord for trying to break the game.”

“The AI apparently already has taken steps. LeashLord’s character is locked, so it cannot be traded or deleted, and his respawn has apparently been locked to the center of the crater that used to be Jagloth City. As soon as he runs out of food, water, and air in the Gubernatorial bunker he was hiding in when the attack started, he’s going to die, and then be respawned on the surface of an airless, lifeless world in his underwear. Every time.”

Isaac whistled. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the AI was angry at him. All right, that works. Write it up so it looks like one of you came up with it, instead of the AI. And check all email, social media, and bank accounts associated with the player’s account, so he cannot just try and make a new character or get around the ban in other ways.”

One of the techs who was observing the situation elsewhere in the galaxy groaned. Isaac looked over there, “Hendly, what did you find?”

“Daft bastards intent on making the Empirie go into all kinds of strangeness, is what I found, sir. Don’t know what is going on, but the word from the Imperial fleet is that the Emperor got involved in something on the planet, and no contact with them since.”


End of Book V.

Previous Chapter                                       Table of Contents                                         Next Chapter

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/
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Volume 6 - Taking the Show on the Road https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075ZFY3PR

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
Book IV - Aquarian Desert https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756V1VX5

City of Champions Online (Superhero LitRPG):
Issue I - Origin Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SHXQS1

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T

LitRPG facebook group:

Chapter 50 - Exterminatus

(Aphrodite Colony, Venus)
Emperor Travis looked in the mirror of the dressing room that had been provided for him. The negotiations with the powerful AI that controlled this colony had been quite fruitful. It seemed that the century of exile had left the AI in an appropriately humble mood, and it had wanted to rejoin the Empire again.

As any right thinking individual ought.

As tribute, the AI had offered up the most vexing ability that the Nomads possessed, Immortality. Travis did not understand the technical details the AI had used, but apparently in its exile it had forged vast server farms from the materials in Venus’s rocky soil, allowing it to process information far faster than any normal computer could. In the several months the Nomads had been traipsing about the galaxy, doing as they pleased, Deus had spent the equivalent of several decades studying them, after one foolish Nomad had, apparently, managed to circumvent the fleet base above, and got captured by the AI.

That research had gleaned the truth of their immortality, and some of their other unique abilities. It had even uncovered a secret communications network that only Nomads could use, which would have allowed spies and traitors to send information to contacts across Known Space without any Imperial forces being the wiser!

Such a thing could not be allowed to pass unchecked. Travis would not allow any threats to develop against his empire. They would be torn out, root and branch, and cast into the fire, making the galaxy safe for all citizens of the Empire. The citizens would love him for the safety and security he would provide for them. Even the Xeno slaves would come to fear and respect his might. He would lead the Empire to a new golden age!

But first, he needed the power of immortality. Travis stripped off his clothing, and considered himself in the mirror. He was not normally known for being vain, but he could not help but appreciate his own form at times. His genes were, of course, perfect, and he had gone through extensive modifications over the years, so that now he looked like a god straight from the myths of ancient times, well-muscled, and with an impressive ‘hammer’ between his legs that his pleasure slaves and lovers had always appreciated. Conditioned both by genes and training for strength and endurance, Travis might not be in the same category as the brutes that filled out the heavy infantry in terms of raw power, but he could not but admit to being in the top 1% of the 1% of humanity’s gene pool.

He was not ashamed of his nakedness, though he did not make a habit of strutting around without some measure of protection. After all, it was far easy for an assassin to strike you down if you weren’t wearing armor. Even if he achieved immortality, royal clothing and powered armor gave an image of strength that his subjects and enemies alike would understand all too well. That would prevent many foolish attempts on his life, allowing his spymasters to focus on the ones that truly mattered.

Now, though, he walked across the drab, grey room, lit only by a murky pool swirling with chemicals. To one side, several of his Palace guards were waiting, and watching. In front of them was the physical avatar the AI had selected for this meeting, a servitor drone in the likeness of a man with a long, angular face, neatly trimmed goatee, a black turban upon his head, and robes of black and purple in an old Arabic style. In one hand, it held a scepter shaped like a cobra. For some reason, the AI chuckled as it called this drone ‘Jafar’.

Travis looked at his small audience, and said, “Now is the hour of our destiny! Now is the hour of our triumph! For too long, the Empire has been held back by those who would deny us our birthright! Now we take the universe into our own hands! With the secrets of immortality within our grasp, the Empire shall reign eternal, and all the galaxy shall be under our rule! Whether they are traitors or xenos, none shall stand against the might of the Immortal Terrans!”

Turning to look at the pool, Travis said, “But first We must be reborn into immortality! The powers of the Nomads are now Ours for the taking. We shall bathe in the pools of Venus, and when We emerge, We will bring destruction and death to those who thought to deny Our rule, and risk civil war on the brink of our new conflict with the Confederation! All witness the glory of the Empire!”

As one, the Guards snapped to attention, and there was a clashing of gauntlets against armor plates as they saluted, and replied, “HAIL THE EMPEROR! GLORY TO THE EMPIRE!”

The Jafar drone watched the guards, and then copied the salute, in a manner one might expect of a creature not used to physical interaction. With a smile upon its face, the drone said, in a low, seductive tone, “Glory to the Empire, indeed!”

Travis nodded, and then steeled himself. The AI had told him that this would not be a pleasant experience. Gaining immortality had a price, as all things did, and for this, the price was pain, immeasurable pain. With the resolve to hold, no matter what happened, he entered the bath, until he was chest deep in the chemicals.

It started as an itching, and then a slight burning, all over his body. As the pain grew worse, it finally grew to the point where Travis could no longer keep from screaming. He looked back to the drone, and saw it still standing there, smiling… no, smirking!

It was only in the moment before he lost consciousness that he wondered whether the AI had dared lie to him.

(CNS Yesbalar, Jagloth Orbit)
“…have no other choice. The civilians in the ships and station can still be saved, but Jagloth is lost. Destroy the infected stations immediately. I don’t know how, but sensors say the attack we made on those coordinates we were given anonymously caused the Legion to become disoriented temporarily. Trawarin will give you a second distraction. The infected stations must be destroyed in this time.”

Captain Aimi Pranxo, one of the few Felisan officers in the Confederate Navy, nodded gravely. “Understood, Commodore. The stations will be eliminated. Sylkranna, Herven, and Shadove all have target locks. Yesbalar and Glory of Aynov are maintaining anti-missile cover for the station.”

Pranxo winced as she her readouts saw the Trawarin getting hit by multiple nanite missiles. The doomed ship’s bridge crew began screaming and scratching at their skin as the nanites began infecting them, but Commodore Eladisys gritted his teeth to keep a semblance of composure. “Good. Good. As my… last command as – ugh! – Commodore of the Quarantine Group, I am i-issuing Standing Order 666. Auth—mph! – authorization Alpha-Echo-One-One-Two-One-Eight-Three. Do your duty, Commodore.” And then the screen cut out, as the Trawarin’s reactor shut off the magnetic bottles on the antimatter stores, bathing the ship in instant annihilation.

It was a portent of things to come.

Captain – no, Commodore Pranxo sighed, and entered a series of commands on the screen set next to her command chair. The forms that had to be signed and acknowledged by the ship’s AI for what she was about to do were long, complicated, and worded with the most dire of warnings for those who failed to complete them properly. As one might expect of Standing Order 666. By the time she had finished filling out the forms, the three infected stations were already destroyed. Only Satsuki Station remained.

The acting Commodore took a breath, and stood from her command chair. “Communications, open a channel to the squadron, and to all ships within range. Put it over ship speakers as well, so the crew can hear.”

She waited, and once the communications officer gave her a nod, she began. “To all the Officers and Enlisted of the Special Quarantine Group, and to all the civilians within the sound of my voice, I ask for your attention. I am Acting Commodore Aimi Pranxo of the CNS Yesbalar, and command of the Quarantine Group was passed to me before Commodore Eladisys was lost with the Trawarin.”

“For those of us who wear the uniform, our highest purpose is to be the shield that protects the Citizens of the Confederation, and the sword that strikes at those who would harm them. The Trawarin is dead, lost with all souls aboard. The men and women of Trawarin died as heroes to the Confederation, protecting civilians from a fate worse than death. I have noted their sacrifice in the official logs which shall be delivered to the Admiralty this day.”

“For weeks, you have seen the horrors running rampant on Jagloth, despite our best efforts to contain the threat of the so-called ‘Legion Virus’. For weeks, we have tried, and failed, to discover a cure, a way to help the poor souls who have been trapped within a waking nightmare as the force behind the Legion turns their bodies and souls into little more than puppets to be used as chattel. And for weeks, we have seen the Legion adapt, and find new ways to try and escape the quarantine imposed upon them.”

“Before he died, Commodore Eladisys invoked Standing Order 666 of the Confederation Constitution. As of this moment, Jagloth is considered a clear and present threat to the safety and security of the Confederation as a whole, a threat that cannot be contained or eliminated through conventional means. As the senior ranking officer of a Special Quarantine Group, it is my duty to carry out the actions proscribed in the Standing Order.”

“What we do here this day is an act of horror beyond imagination. It is an act that no Officer should ever have to contemplate in a just and kind universe. It is an act of utter evil, born of desperation and the knowledge that not acting would be a far greater evil.”

She paused, gathered her thoughts for a moment. This next part would haunt her sleep, to say nothing of her career, for the rest of her life. “Weapons Control, arm the Bra Crematorium Vapen.”

The weapons officer gulped, but did as he was told. “Weapons ready, Commodore.”

“Target the southern continent. Ready to fire upon my command.”

“Target locked. Ready to fire on your command.”

“By the authority invested in me by the Confederation Senate and the Confederate Navy, I, Acting Commodore Aimi Pranxo of the CNS Yesbalar, declare that the planet Jagloth shall be purged under the Exterminatus Protocols as listed in Standing Order 666 and Section 3.14.159 of the Constitution of the Confederation of Allied Planets. Lieutenant Mattox, I order you to fire.”

The Yesbalar was a Heroic-class destroyer, not typically something that one could count on to ‘purge’ an entire planet. But each ship in a Special Quarantine Group was issued a single special torpedo, one that no sane person hoped they would ever be forced to use, one that took fifteen minutes to arm so that one could not fire it in haste. It was the Bra Crematorium Vapen, chillingly named in one of the languages of Earth, where its creator had originated from. It had only one purpose, to enact the Exterminatus Protocols, should they be invoked.

A single torpedo left Yesbalar, and when it hit, a world burned. The atmosphere caught flame, the fire spreading to every corner of the globe, destroying all organic material on the surface of the planet. The seas and rivers were boiled away, and habitats that had formerly been underwater were not spared the fire. For a full day, the fire burned. There was no atmosphere remaining, no water, and the only living creatures was Leash Lord, with a pair of his Legion in the bodies of hot knelfi women, who had been ‘entertaining’ him as he recovered from being sent to a reset unexpectedly, and even then, it was only because they were far underground. They died not long after, unable to escape their bunker prison, starving to death (again and again, in Leash Lord’s case).

Pranxo watched as the fire began to burn. “May the Creators have mercy on our souls.”

Previous Chapter                                    Table of Contents                                             Next Chapter

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/
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Volume 6 - Taking the Show on the Road https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075ZFY3PR

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
Book IV - Aquarian Desert https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756V1VX5

City of Champions Online (Superhero LitRPG):
Issue I - Origin Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SHXQS1

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T

LitRPG facebook group:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chapter 49 - Evacuation

Much to my relief, the Shadowdancer’s crew were at the very least proficient in their jobs. While they all had problems of some sort that led to their being forced into service, at the very least I didn’t have to worry about them being bad at their jobs. Even that shady merchant who I’d bought to be Shadowdancer’s Quartermaster.

The story on the nanites wasn’t as bad as I feared. He used to be a dealer in nano-augments, which used nanites to either enhance brain function, or do other work that was too subtle for larger scale augmentations. When the local government made all nanite sales illegal when the Legion virus started spreading, he had ignored them and tried to offload his current stockpile. He was caught, and enslaved.

He was also really good at turning a profit, so I felt confident in allowing him to act as the ship’s Quartermaster, since there was only one of Raven, and I wanted her with me. Thankfully, the Quartermaster had quickly realized the potential profit in his new position, even if he was a slave. That, and the fact that the other group that had been considering buying him was a suspected front for Hundeherstellar merchants, made him recognize this was the best deal he was going to get.

The Valkyries were settling in nicely, as well. They liked the idea of being what amounted to a strike team or operatives, especially when we were going over their skill sets, and they saw how the group was balanced. They’d be able to deal with a wide array of problems, and I’d purchased gear that made sure they weren’t going to be just charging to their doom. The hacker practically creamed herself when I told her I wanted to hack any ship Shadowdancer fought and get any information she could off them.

I was in Raven’s bridge, running my preflight lists while listening to Nyna running Shadowdancer through hers, when the call came in. Jagloth, which had been mostly dark on the communication networks, suddenly went bright as daylight, transmitting to the entire system. Annoyingly, it was a ‘push’ transmission, which automatically played on any active readers once it was received.


That wonderfully cheery message was followed by a whole lot of panic as everyone in the system started trying to get clearance to run the hell away. Both Raven and Shadowdancer were assaulted by comms from people begging for us to get them out of the system. But one message in particular caught my eye.

LeashLord: Hey, M.Mollen? You still got that really fast ship from Earth? Could use a lift out of the system. Lot of places to see, and conscriptions have plateaued.

M.Mollen: Kindof full up right now. But hey, pass me your coordinates, and I’ll have someone swing by to service you.

LeashLord: Hah! I saw what happened last time you called someone in to ‘service’ a member of my Legion. Losing the Spriteshack building set the conscription of Jagloth back a lot, you know.

M.Mollen: Glad to be of service.

LeashLord: Look, I’m willing to cut you in on this. Your own personal Legion. You’d be able to do anything you wanted!

M.Mollen: Already can do anything I want. And right now, what I want is to pass the coordinates from the backtrace of this comm to the Fleet.

LeashLord: You idiot! You could have ultimate power!

M.Mollen: Yeah, but where’s the fun in that? Anyways, I’ve kept you talking long enough, so I’m just going to sit back and watch the show.

LeashLord: What do you mean?

On the surface of Jagloth, the coordinates Raven tracked the transmission to lit up as several kinetic weapons hit in close proximity, their overlapping blast waves annihilating anything in the area. I was happy I’d forwarded the transmission in realtime to the Navy while Raven backhacked the coordinates. That talk of ‘conscriptions’ was too coincidental.

Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem, only delayed it. After all, LeashLord was a Nomad, so he’d be back after a short reset period. However, it seemed that his ‘Legion’ was good for more than just conquering the world. I was immediately assaulted by messages from LeashLord saying how I would regret blah blah blah. Anyways, it seemed like he was using the minds of his Legion to remain active while he waited for his body to return. Sneaky bastard.

We had just cleared Charybdis Station’s docking ports when everything TRULY went to hell. Weapons were launched all over Jagloth. The missiles exploded over the uninfected landmasses, and we saw people quickly succumbing to the Legion. Somehow the bastard had been working on weaponizing the fucking thing and making it super fast-acting.

This caused a general panic, as you might expect, which only got worse as missiles were launched at the Navy ships and the stations still in orbit. It seemed that LeashLord had decided that the time for the ‘long game’ was now over, and he was going full Borg. I hated it when people went full Borg.

The Navy ships were able to destroy the missiles targeting them, as well as some of the ones targeting the stations, but three of the four remaining stations in Jagloth orbit were hit, the Legion quickly moving to assimilate the stations and their inhabitants.


I didn’t like that message at all. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t against helping out, but the whole ‘here’s a crisis, everyone’s conscripted until we say otherwise’ thing didn’t sit right with me. The Navy I used to be in was all volunteer, after all. And even in an emergency, we didn’t just conscript every ship in port. They were demanding people helped, instead of asking, and that just rubbed me the wrong way.

To be on the safe side, though, I concentrated on slipping into one of my alternate guises. Someone was going to call and order me to do something I wasn’t going to like, and I’d probably get my picture put up on a bounty board somewhere. I brought out my Okuda Riku face from back in Alpha Centauri. Fortunately, I had just finished the change when we were hailed.


“That’s a negative Trawarin Control. Metrion’s Favor is heading outsystem loaded with cargo and refugees from Charybdis station. Ones that are actually paying for this ship to take them outsystem. You and your Captain can kindly get bent.”

With that none too original insult, I cut the line and pulled the Raven into a turn, matching Shadowdancer’s course. Naturally, Shadowdancer was in stealth, so the Navy ships hadn’t spotted her yet. We could jump to hyperspace from deep in the system, but the drive reacted oddly to gravity wells sometimes, and it would require more maneuvering to clear the different gravitational effects and remain on course. It wasn’t as bad as with a Transition drive, which you had to be at the heliopause to use, but jumping to warp next to a station could be Bad.

Unfortunately for the Navy crews out there in the picket ships trying to intercept us, Charybdis was out of the way (on purpose), which left a big gap in the defenses, and while they were calculating for intercept jumps, Raven had already finished calculations for both Raven and Shadowdancer, and passed them along. We were receiving another set of hails demanding we cut acceleration and prepare to be boarded when we made the jump to warp. Sucks to be them, but I wasn’t sticking around in this system any longer.

(CNS Trawarin, Jagloth Orbit)
Captain (Acting Commodore) Ayluin Elaxisys bit back several unkind curses about the captain of the freighter that had just jumped out of the system, especially when it was detected that there were two warp signatures outbound. That meant there was a stealth ship with the freighter. Coming from Charybdis, it could only be a smuggler, or one of the syndicates.

One of the sensor officers spoke up, “Captain, we have a possible visual confirmation match on the freighter with a contact report from the Aquaria system.”

“To my screen.”

The knelfi captain looked at the readout that came up, comparing the visuals they’d gotten on the Metrion’s Favor before they escaped to a ship called the Azeroth’s Call which had slipped through the Aquaria Gateway over a month ago. The visual spectrum data was inconclusive, except for the fact that both ships were equally difficult to make out, given their extreme black coloration. That in itself was telling, as black was an unusual choice.

Sensor data from the two events was similar in its inconclusivity. The damn paint scheme appeared to absorb sensors somehow, making all sensor returns weak and diffuse. If they didn’t have visual confirmation of a ship’s presence, it was to the point where it might even be brushed aside as a sensor anomaly. And the black color against the blackness of space made visual confirmation difficult. Clearly, this was a ship up to no good.

Still, shield and engine patterns were enough to say that this was at least the same size ship, with the same type of engines and shields. Combined with the coloration, Captain Elaxisys was willing to accept the analyst’s 75% prediction as fact, for the time being. Which was a problem, as this ship was currently wanted for questioning, even if they hadn’t ignored the Evacuation Order, due to the fact that it led four Imperial ships through the Gateway, where they were promptly destroyed.

“Captain!” His musings were interrupted by the sensor analyst again. He flagged the report for passing information on to command, before looking up from his screen. And again bit back a curse.

The stations which had been hit by the new infection missiles were bringing up shields and weapons, and had already fired on two ships that were approaching the uninfected station. “Weapons! I want those stations brought out of the sky, now! Have all the conscripted ships alter their approach vectors to compensate!”

“Captain, additional missiles are launching from the planet! There’s too many of them to intercept!”

Captain Ayluin Eladisys was a patriot. He knew what had to do. If this Legion virus got out, then it would be unstoppable. The Confederation would fall, and over a trillion souls would be condemned to a fate worse than death. That could not be allowed. With grim certainty, he typed in a code only known to himself and the admiralty, and verified it with a biometric scan.

Self-destruct activated. Countdown to antimatter release: T-2 minutes.

“Helm! Set course for the primary launch site for the surface missiles, maximum acceleration! Take us between the station and the planet to do so! Weapons, prioritize fire control on the surface missiles targeting the station and civilian ships!”

His crew performed their duties without question. They all knew the stakes, and knew what awaited them, what awaited their friends and families back home, if they failed. All it would take is one ship escaping to be a blow the Confederation might never recover from. They would do their duty.

“Communications, get me a line to the Yesbalar.”

Two minutes later, a fireball erupted over the base where most of the missiles had been fired from. Twenty-five missiles had delivered their nanite payloads to Trawarin. None hit the station or the civilians.

Previous Chapter                                      Table of Contents                                           Next Chapter

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/
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Volume 6 - Taking the Show on the Road https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075ZFY3PR

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
Book IV - Aquarian Desert https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756V1VX5

City of Champions Online (Superhero LitRPG):
Issue I - Origin Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SHXQS1

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T

LitRPG facebook group:

Monday, October 9, 2017

Chapter 48 - The Market

If you’ve seen one interstellar slave market, you’ve seen them all.

Can’t really believe that I just thought that. This game is too real, and yet too different from real life. Makes it easy to get lost in things, and just go with the flow. And I guess that’s what I’ve been doing, except for a couple times when I took preemptive action to make sure I had cards to play if I needed them.

At any rate, the statement wasn’t false. The slave market on Charybdis Station was remarkably like the one on Choson Ring. The auctions were postponed because of the volatile situation (no one wanted to draw more people to the station when it took time to carefully check every passenger and piece of cargo offloaded), but the market itself was still open for business. I just hoped we would be able to find enough skilled crewmen to man the Shadowdancer. Of course, I’d settle for a handful of skilled crew, and a group intelligent enough to learn.

Now, instead of paying for the slaves, I could always have gone out hunting and ‘found’ enough freshly collared slaves from some of the local ships that I could crew the Shadowdancer, but the Confederacy was stricter with who could be made a slave than the Empire. Part of the way they enforced those restrictions was by mandating that slaves be registered, and part of the registration included a requirement to have a licensed slave trader sign off saying the slaves were legally collared. You could get around it, sure, but that was annoying to have to jump through the hoops, and it drew the wrong kind of attention. ESPECIALLY when bodysnatching nanite plagues were running around.

With that thought in mind, Cali, Carissa, Nyna, and I entered the slave market the morning after I purchased Shadowdancer. I’d paid for the ship out of my own funds, but the slaves were going to be bought out of the Corporate account. Mainly because I’d spent the majority of my personal funds getting the damn ship, and I wanted to keep a heady reserve, in case I really needed something. Call it Murphy Insurance.

Jeffery Blue
21685 Credits
Level 20 Human Male. Former Lieutenant in Alliance Navy. Reason for Enslavement: Assaulting a Government Offical
Khess Darkscale
1500 Credits
Level 13 Ihm Female. Trained Mechanic, and Bladesmith. Reason for Enslavement: Captured in pirate raid.
Seirye Binan
32000 Credits
Level 15 Knelfi Female. Trained surgeon from Diymia. Reason for Enslavement: Medical Malpractice.
Anna Chase
3000 Credits
Level 30 Human Female. Trained ship gunner and raider. Reason for Enslavement: Captured in pirate raid.
Galen Grinelis
500 Credits
Level 5 Knelfi Male. Trained starship pilot. Reason for Enslavement: Sold by Parents
Lornic Barrelbow
1000 Credits
Level 10 Gauz Male. Trained navigator. Reason for Enslavement: Defaulted on debts.
Sam Spacey
100000 Credits
Level 50 Human Male. Former Imperial Navy Marine. Reason for Indenture: Buying passage for family out of Jagloth System
Ayla Kelthyra
2100 Credits
Level 20 Knelfi Female. Trained bodyguard. Reason for Enslavement: Defaulted on debts.
Taenya Elro
2500 Credits
Level 20 Knelfi Female. Trained companion and gunner. Reason for Enslavement: Murder
John Dusk
2300 Credits
Level 16 Human Male. Trained Merchant. Reason for Enslavement: Sale of Illegal Nanites
Gaxl Bladeshimmer
5500 Credits
Level 23 Ihm Male. Trained bodyguard and companion. Reason for Enslavement: Captured in Pirate raid.

The first eleven purchases rounded out the crew of the Shadowdancer nicely, when one counted Nyna’s abilities in the mix. Some of the purchased slaves were of questionable provenance (I would have to have a talk with that merchant about the illegal nanites before he got on board), but the collection of victims and rogues was somewhat to be expected given where they were and the current situation.

A quick conversation with the former Marine, and his wife and two children were loaded onto the Raven, once they’d been cleared of nanites, and we’d set them up someplace on Dimiya. That made the Shadowdancer’s new security chief and chief gunner very happy. He was also the only Indentured rather than Enslaved person I picked up for the crew, but I counted it as my good deed for the day. He’d be mine to command for five years, after which he’d be free and we could renegotiate his service at the next port of call.

Jeffery Blue would be the XO of the Shadowdancer. Nyna had my trust, and she might have the title, but she wasn’t a seasoned starship captain. Blue would help her along, and take care of the logistical nightmares one might not immediately consider as a new captain.

The knelfi doctor was apparently a rising star in her medical practice, back before she’d picked up a nasty opioid habit. Doing surgery while under the influence was a bad thing, and when someone had died on her table because of it, she was picked up and enslaved by her insurance company. She was actually serving her enslavement on a corporate ship until pirates captured her, and sold her to the market.

The rest of the group was filled out either by captured pirates, those captured by pirates, criminals, or a young boy who had been sold by his mother after she remarried to a younger man. Of course, that probably saved his life, since he used to live on the main continent. Kid had the Hotshot title, as well as pilot training, so I was looking forward to see what he could do.

Jackie Day
12000 Credits
Level 30 Human Female. Trained fighter and bodyguard. Reason for Enslavement: Assaulting a Police Officer
Viessa Balthana
50000 Credits
Level 25 Knelfi Female. Trained hacker and electronics expert. Reason for Enslavement: Hacking Government Computers
Abby Quest
50000 Credits
Level 32 Human Female. Former Confederate Army Medic. Reason for Enslavement: Assaulting an Officer
Nerila Hammerfeet
125000 Credits
Level 28 Gauz Female. Trained in demolitions and heavy weapons. Reason for Enslavement: Arson
Ashera Joxidor
200000 Credits
Level 40 Knelfi Female. Former Confederate Senator’s aide. Trained Professional, Companion, and Bodyguard. Reason for Enslavement: Embezzlement

Of course, if I was going to have a raider in my group, I needed some raiders! Or at the very least a team that could do all sorts of jobs for the Shadowdancer while she was away from me and my crew. These were all criminals, of one stripe or another, but I figured I’d give them a chance to prove themselves. I promptly named this group my Valkyries.

All this cost 172085 credits for the crew, another 437000 for the Valkyries, and an extra 50000 to kit out all of them with ship suits, armor, and weapons, so they’d be ready to fight in the very likely event that we saw combat with someone or something that didn’t care for us. Only reason the equip cost was so low is that Spacey, as an Indenture, still had his own gear, which was as good as anything sold on the station.

Since the ship was crewed entirely by slaves and indentures, that meant the profitsharing went a little different from normal crews. For the Shadowdancer, I decided that it would split four ways. As the Owner, I would get a share. Another share would go to the Ship, for repairs and resupplies. A third share would go to the Company directly. And the fourth share would be for the Crew. Spacey would be entitled to 5% of that share as part of his indenture, held in escrow until his indenture was up, but the rest would be under the control of Nyna, to manage as she saw fit, though she would have to send expense reports to Raven, just to keep her honest.

Now, however, I needed to make some money to get my mind off the literal millions of credits I just dropped on all of this. And what better way to make money than by picking up some jobs at the bar? With two ships headed to the knelfi world of Dimiya, we were able to get quite a few jobs set up, for both the Raven and the Shadowdancer. There were a couple cargo hauls, with expensive items people didn’t want to be caught up behind the quarantine, and a couple evacuation jobs for Raven, but Nyna and I were pleased to see several bounty hunter and pirate hunting jobs, which the Shadowdancer gladly took.

Preservation Run

The Legion’s scourge threatens to make several species of flora and fauna unique to Jagloth go extinct should the Navy decide a quarantine would be ineffective at containing the threat. A stasis chamber with genetic material from Jagloth’s wildlife has been prepared, and rendered nanite free. This chamber must make it through the quarantine to Windrunner Spire in the Quel’Thalas Nature Preserve so these specimens can be preserved.
Deliver stasis chamber to Windrunner Spire.
Do not deliver the stasis chamber.
1 Million credits

Netherstorm Delivery

A Confederate courier vessel containing Councilor Socrethor was destroyed by quarantine forces. However, Socrethor’s personal effects were recovered by ‘salvage’ workers. The workers were then infected by nanites, but the Councilor’s personal data module was scanned and rendered clean of nanites. Interested parties on Dimiya’s Netherstorm Station would like to review the Councilor’s effects before usable information can be changed.
Deliver data module to Ravandwyr on Netherstorm Station.
Do not deliver the data module.
Copy the information on the data module.
500000 Credits


Alais Loraric, the most famous performer in Jagloth City, was touring the system when the Legion virus claimed her home town. Now stuck on Charybdis Station, and with everything looking like it is only getting worse, the songstress wants to get out of the quarantine zone, to Dimiya, where she has family. Unfortunately, there are some who may try and take her off your hands once she is away from the safety of station security.
Transport Alais Loraric to Shvehona City on Dimiya.
Alais Loraric is not brought to Shvehona City.
Alais Loraric is enslaved, kidnapped, or killed.
Alais Loraric is infected with Legion nanites.
2 Million Credits
Increased reputation with Confederate factions

Bellerophon Prototype

Before they were wiped off the map on Jagloth, scientists working for Spriteshack Industries managed to create a prototype weapon against the Legion virus. Called Bellerophon, the weapon is supposed to seek out and cleanse an individual of Legion nanites. Unfortunately, the device was still in the prototype stages when they were attacked by members of the Legion. The prototype does purge Legion nanites, but it unfortunately is not yet able to discriminate between Legion nanites and other nanites. Or cybernetic implants. It also has a distinct tendency to make a test subject’s flesh melt. But the nanites were destroyed, so it is important that the prototype get to Spriteshack headquarters on Dimiya for further testing and refinement, in case the Legion virus spreads.
Deliver the prototype to Spriteshack Industries headquarters on Dimiya.
Do not deliver the prototype.
Increased Reputation with Spriteshack Industries
50% of any one augmentation for each member of the Company from Spriteshack Industries.

Naturally, I was going to scan the hell out of any of the packages or people I brought on board the Raven, but this looked to be a very profitable trip to Dimiya, if we could just escape the quarantine, and not get infected by the Legion. And with Shadowdancer watching our backs as we played bait for pirates, this would be a good chance for the crews to work together, and see the full potential of my new ship.

If we didn’t die horribly, that is.

Previous Chapter                                        Table of Contents                                      Next Chapter

Be sure to read my published works!

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Frozen Soul https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071R125QT
Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ52G37

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 1 - Tutorial https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VPRNDB
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VR7M41/
Volume 3 - Wyrmwood https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072QKVBYV
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Volume 5 - Power Base https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074KGVN5T
Volume 6 - Taking the Show on the Road https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075ZFY3PR

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book I - Game Start https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071LT5WGL
Book II - Choson Ring https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071X3LL9D
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
Book IV - Aquarian Desert https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756V1VX5

City of Champions Online (Superhero LitRPG):
Issue I - Origin Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SHXQS1

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T

LitRPG facebook group: