Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Volume 3 - Chapter 4 - The Value of a Question

Biological signature confirmed for Hector Li, deviation of 3.7% detected, permission granted.

Biological signature confirmed for Alan Tachibana, deviation of 7.8% detected -Warning, potential medical attention might be necessary, your doctor has been notified-, permission granted.

Biological signature confirmed for Xin Yue Harris, deviation of 11.2% detected -Monthly cycle in effect, exception granted for breaching deviation threshold-, permission granted.

Biological signature confirmed Xin Xin Yamashiro, deviation of 4.8% detected, permission granted.

Situated 20 floors down below ground and serviced by a separate elevator system is a heavily guarded underground facility. A single hallway leads to a room that is guarded by six armed security officers in the front half while the second half is guarded by sensors tied to the numerous state-of-the-art rapid-fire metal-stake turrets lining the walls and ceiling, leading to the entrance of the conference room known as ‘The Cage’.

[T/N: The metal-stake turret should technically be translated to dart turret as the kanji used were 棒手裏剣, but considering the size, appearance and everything, it would be more accurately to call them stakes. (You can google image search them up for reference)]

The four individuals wait at the end of the hallway as they are greeted by the distinct, melodic female voice talking to them in a monotone from the metal door in front of them as their identities are verified. The door leading to the room consists of three separate layers of half a meter thick metal walls made with different properties in mind. As such, if the sensor responsible consider anyone to be hostile, they would be stuck at a dead end and be one-sidedly fired upon. Finally, a small, single doorway surrounded by powerful magnets stands guard as the final layer of protection, against electronic devices.

The conference room was originally designed to store the single piece of ancient artifact that entered into Leviathan’s possession decades ago, surrounded by a combination of a complex series of Faraday cages and living layers constructed since time immemorial. After the artifact was finally accessed, it was decided that it -along with all the equipment- will be moved to the then Leviathan Conglomerate HQ across the Kelantan Strait to the east, leaving this secretive space empty.

Following the removal of the previous owner and the restructuring of the conglomerate into a single corporation, the space has been re-purposed. The unique machinery built with information extracted from the artifact -which subsequently caused the downfall of the previous owner- is now stored here. Originally, it was thought that the Faraday cage would isolate the machinery from interacting with the rest of the world, thus reviving the victims that resulted from the previous owner’s reckless research. But beyond all expectations, the machinery kept working, with the victims still connected to it somehow. This machinery is known as the Prime Server, unknown to the rest of the world, it’s the server that runs Second Phantasia.

“Greeting everyone.” The CEO greets the hundred odd people already waiting within the spacious conference room. All the people present politely nod at him and the new arrivals, everyone who’s present are department heads, each being responsible for their selected projects related to Second Phantasia. Behind the CEO are the three colleagues that requested this meeting in the first place.

The rectangular room’s interior is like a step pyramid, with the center at the highest point. The quartet makes their way to the top, with the three of them stopping at the level just before the apex and taking a seat. As soon as Hector steps onto the top, images showing his figure are projected all around the room as the sound amplification system silently kicks in.

“Sorry for the abrupt meeting, I know many of you are busy and eager to get back to work.” The man looks at the various empty seats. “Some of our colleagues can’t make it due to the sudden nature of this meeting, but it can’t be helped.” The man stops speaking for a moment as he mentally prepares himself for his next sentence. “But we have come upon some new information about the System.”

“New information?!”
“Hmm… we already got topographic information last time… maybe languages this time?”
“It could also be about the sudden appearance of the Beast-form avatar…”
“Nah, Sharon’s team is working on that.”
“Then what…?”

The room becomes a buzzing beehive as everyone talks to those next to themselves, throwing speculation back and forth. After a few moments, Hector clears his throat with a *keho*.

“We have reasons to believe that some users have found a way to gain a higher level access than us and bypass our current limitation systems.” The room is so silent that a pin dropping could be heard. “As you all know, the Prime Server only gives us limited access to its data and heavy restrictions for the manipulation data sent to it. Mainly, the abilities within Amoaltz are too numerous to count, we have only been able to rearrange and repackage them into categories and set them apart as Classes. But, some users have advanced beyond our settings.” The man nods to Xin Yue who is sitting just below. The woman opens up the large brief case and passes stacks of paper to the people nearby, who grabs one and pass it along until everyone has a copy.

“We all knew of the rumours, starting with the conflict in the center of the continent, with the Cult of Vengeance and Missouri being the center of attention. But I’m sure all of you also heard about the accounts of irregular abilities spotted during a fight between two guilds at the eastern edge of the continent months ago.” The man holds up his copy of the paper, the others look down at the paper and read the contents.

“Our research team scoured the forums and interviewed participants, the data has been cross referenced with time of death and inventory changes, they are all consistent. The massive fireballs, the fire devil, the large explosive projectiles, flames that seem alive and move of their own accord. Following that, we have the post and confirmation by the guild that cleared the 3rd dungeon that were assisted by a group of powerful users.” The people are reading the various accounts on papers attentively. The sounds of *hmm* and *ah* fills the room.

“Then we have a reliable first hand account that users have access to the ability to customize magic, also the ability for NPC followers to directly message users. They were called Custom Magic system and Gods system.”

“Custom Magic?!”
“Isn’t this bigger than the Kingdom system we had to build to cover up Missouri?!”
“Who are these users?! We have first hand accounts, so we know who they are right?!”

The room exploded as the attendees react differently. The External Information Surveillance affiliated attendees were high-fiving each other and smiling, happy that their thousands of hours of work enabled them to track down a big lead. The Programming side is demanding more information as they will need to work on a new interface option to hide the fact Second Phantasia isn’t under the direct control of the company. The Research and Development colleagues want access to the users so they can learn the methodologies necessary to access these different systems. Of course, there is also the Communications researchers that are silently thinking, as they are the ones responsible for finding and sieving through the limited data accessible via the Prime Server to isolate the information necessary for the programmers to work with. There are also the Medical and other field specific department heads that show their own expressions as it relates to them in different ways.

“As usual, sort it out and get moving on making that new interface for these two systems! You know what you have to do!” The CEO raises his voice over the clamouring. “This is just like the Kingdom system, do your best work!” It can be said that it isn’t necessary for the CEO to say the last bit, as every researcher present is grateful to be working on Second Phantasia.

The Prime Server itself is still beyond their comprehension, but the chance to study such advanced technology is any researcher’s dream. All the data derived from working on Second Phantasia gets filtered and passed down onto the manufacturing side of the corporation, giving them the ability to stay on the bleeding edge of technology in almost every field. Even continuous failures on understanding how the Prime Server connects with all the units around the world has proven invaluable, the company was able to introduce the first Wireless Communication system in the world years ago thanks to these data. Most importantly of all, Second Phantasia provides all the funding necessary to run all these researches through its subscription based system on top of the unit purchases and rentals. That’s why even though the System was proven to be dangerous in the past under the previous owner, it’s still actively running to this day.

“Oh right, congratulations to the Lucio’s team for locating the first of the 99%ers, the contact information will be sent to you guys later. With that, the meeting is over.”

The excited voices and discussion stops at that as everyone look at a male with a small stature showing a complicated expression - the colleagues nearby that worked with him react in the same way. Their joke has now backfired on them and bit them in the ass, the various masters’ pressure on them are not a joke as each of them wield considerable influence within their respective countries. The others shake their heads after looking at them, silently reminding themselves that they should never do something similar lest they suffer the same fate. The attendees quickly resume their previous vigor as they try and divide the various tasks that are going to be needed amongst themselves.

* * * * *


“Yes, Uncle Hank?”

The two of them are seated in a private room at the still relatively new training facility, which is now alive with excitement. The Untouchables hired by them are in ecstasy as they took turns logging in with their limited amount of units, it wouldn’t be unimaginable to see others fight for the machines. Yet, the fights never occurred. These people has been living at almost sub-human standards for a long time, they all know how precious this second chance at life means. After going through the recruitment process and being given the explanations and the expectations of the employer, they wouldn’t dare to do anything to get themselves fired. The pay is paltry, it’s actually less than the government pittance passed off as support, but after taking into the fact that living expenses such as boarding and food are covered with on-site doctor and a famous field medic nearby, it’d take a fool to say that the conditions are bad.

“Does anyone else know about Gui? I mean, from inside the game and that Gui is actually a fox.”

“Hmm? I don’t think so? You were acting strange about this yesterday as well, what’s going on?”

“Kun, you aren’t aware of various things since you lived by yourself here…” The scarred man makes a serious expression as he faces the young man. “If others find out that Gui can understand us, they will find a way to take him away to use as research material.” Kun’s face turns into a frown, before he can ask, Hank continues. “It’s simple, we have war dogs, carrier pigeons and even war raptors like eagles and hawks, but having an animal that can understand and speak human words, can climb, swim and scout ahead in virtual silence, every General in the world would want that. Gui belongs here, not in some damn lab, so make sure no one finds out who Gui is. Since the trainees will see Gui in both here and in the game, it isn’t unthinkable that news of it will leak out.”

Kun has a contemplating expression on his face as he processes the information. What Hank said make sense, although he considers Gui understanding him as normal, it is very likely that it isn’t normal to the rest of the world. “Then wouldn’t this be a simple matter? We will just tell Gui about it and ask him not to speak when others are around. Rick and them already know about him speaking, so it should be fine as long as we don’t meet in real life, not that that would happen as we are quite far apart.”

The scarred man nods. “Alright, then let’s go with that, log in with Gui and let him know about it. Also, check up the progress on Lidi. I hate to admit it after all these years, but I think she might actually be onto something.” He makes a slightly embarrassed expression. “In the meantime, I will get in touch with Barthos - eh, that old buddy of mine that helped us with the construction of this place, we should be able to get a test run going with the trainees as soon these guys calms down.” A deep smile appears on his face despite the serious talk just now.

“Got it, I’ll leave it to you then, Uncle Hank.”

* * * * *

“And that’s the jist of it, got it Gui?”

“Yes, Brother!”

With the setting sun as the background, the man and beast talk to each other quietly in a secluded part of the camp, although it’s still early afternoon where Kun is. The demihumans are looking better, with some of their usual liveliness being restored. Standing in front of a large white tent is Bell, keeping an intense eye on the entrance. Inside the tent is Lindia and Till -forced to enter by Bell before Kun logged on- who are currently having a session. Rick is still out in the jungle somewhere, foraging for food with Sammy, who is traveling on the top of the canopy, causing birds to fly away wherever he goes.

“For the last time, there’s nothing wrong with me.” The girl answers coldly as she was merely told that the person in front of her is a doctor, and that Till needed to be checked by her.

“If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be here.” The gray-haired woman answers just as sharply. “If there’s nothing wrong with you, why are the rest of the children terrified of you even though it’s quite obvious that they greatly admire you?” The doctor continues without blinking. “Is it normal to torture others like you did when you could have easily killed them off?”

For the first time in her life, Till is left speechless as she ponders those questions herself. Narrowing her eyes, she tries to divert the subject. “Did Bell put you up to this?” There’s a trace of hostility within her voice.

“Does it really matter who? They obviously cared enough about you to get me to help you. Want me to get them? To listen to that tone of voice of yours? What, are you going to try and hurt them for trying to help you?”

A look of confusion appears on Till’s face as she realized that she did have a sense of hostility speaking those words. Her twisted sense of self-preservation cultivated by her previous school environments is screaming at her to not relent, while another part of her conscience is telling her that these people, practically strangers, do care enough about her for this to happen in the first place. Does it matter if it was Bell, Kun, Rick or even all three? They are all still here, if they wanted to avoid her, they can simply just go away, but all three of them are here, right outside.

The woman breaks her icy look and softens. “Look, I can’t say for sure if I’m right all the time. I have never coddled my patients, even if they are a child. I believe that all trauma can be overcomed if the person has a chance to process it. Post Trauma Stress Disorder comes about because a person couldn’t process a given event and the person stays locked in a perpetual flight or fight state. If you want to talk, I will be here for a while longer, to help your… adopted siblings, was it?”

Till’s face twitches a little as she can’t deny that that they do have a better complexion and seem somewhat better after only three Amoatlzan days. Closing her eyes and calming her turbulent mind, she dips her head once toward the doctor before exiting the tent.

“Hmm…? You done kiddo?”


The aquamarine-haired girl suddenly bites the felinoid in the arm. “That’s for making me enter there~ Is there anything to eat~?”


Bell lightly bops Till on the crown of her head with a fist. “And that’s for making us worry about you.”

From the dark jungle, a group of silhouettes can be seen approaching the camp. Above the trees is the furry white blob that jumps down onto the grassy savannah and travels with the group. After meeting up, the four of them went to check on the demihumans resting in the other white tent and the rest of the demihumans before having a quick dinner.

“You know, if we can find the base of where these god damn bastards are at, we could ask the 1st Princess what the hell is going on.” Rick complains while sipping a cup of tea, relaxing next to the crackling campfire in the warm, pleasant night. Bell, Kun, Rick and Hank already discussed and tried to figure out the situation to no avail previously. This time, Till is included to see if she has any insight into the matter, which turned out just as fruitless.

“Oh, you mean those bad people from the other day? They are there in the jungle.” Gui says it offhandedly as he lays on the ground next to the campfire, obviously enjoying himself with half-closed eyes.

The four of them look at gray fox simultaneously, unsure of whether to laugh or to cry.

“Why didn’t you say anything?!” Rick is the first to recover and blurts out with an exaggerated gesture.

“You never asked.” Gui yawns comfortably, opening his mouth wide before closing it, licking his lips.

“When did you figure out where they were, Gui?” Kun knows that Gui doesn’t share information pointlessly as it would be a waste of energy, so that sort of reply makes sense to Kun who has experience in hunting with the gray fox.

“That day when we had the s-s-s-s” Gui flicks his tongue a bit before trying again. “Snake, you told me to drop what I was doing, Brother. So I stopped watching their hideout and came back here.”

“Can you lead us to them?”

The fox stands up and sniffs the air with a *kunka kunka* “Maybe…?”

The four looks at each other before nodding.

* * * * *

“What the hell?! How come there are so many monsters not in the online bestiary out here?” Rick complains as he takes down yet another monster that’s a cross between a snake and a civet which tried to ambush them just now. He first stabs it overhead with the dagger in his left hand with a reverse grip, the right dagger slashing it normally following the path of the left hand soon after, and then ends it with a outside in crescent kick with his trailing right leg.

“Well, it’s not like anyone would come to grind when it’s night out…” Till also senses a heart-pumping fear spreading throughout her body, reminding of her past. But it’s also the same for Rick, who is lashing out against it. As for Bell, she has nightvision since she’s a felinoid. Kun and Gui are both accustomed to night hunts due to their past, this makes it somewhat easier for them as gray foxes are naturally nocturnal animals.

“Well, at least the leather is nice… these would make some amazing jackets.” Kun makes quick work of the carcass. “Too bad we don’t have enough time, otherwise I would butcher it for the meat.”

Gui is walking around in a wide circle, keeping away from the monsters with his sense of smell. It has been a few days since he last rubbed his body against the trees, his scent trail is now extremely faint, so he needs time to pick up his own scent markers as they make their way to the hideout.

“Hmm…? There haven’t been any monsters for a while…?” The blond youth walks carefully, making sure of his footing lest he falls into another puddle. Till is leaping from tree to tree, so there’s no problem for her.

“We are almost there.” Gui silently sprints forward and then climbs up onto a tree. He moves silently across the branches as the group follows him from below. After a while, a faint light can be seen, with the clear silhouette of a large man stretching his arms being outlined.


Bell hisses sharply while staring at the man with her iris contracted.


  1. nice one again.
    and thanks for that !

  2. Thanks for the chapter.

    I have many questions that I hope will be answered in the next chapter:
    Who is the silhouetted man, is he even important and what is happening with the princess?

  3. Thank you for the Chapter!
    wow.. wonder what bell is seeing ? and lol "99%ers" i cant even spell it out right.. "ninety-nine percent'ers".. i read it as "ninety-nine presenters"..


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