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Ch 5: You Want Me To Go In There?

Bring! Bring! Bring! The sound of players earning experience from playing the mini games can be heard throughout the training area. Soldiers turning their scores into a competition to see who can get the highest. Men display their power and stats by pushing themselves to the limit for a crowd of cheering people. As the day goes on, more and more players return to the barracks and log off for the night.

The squad commander watches from an observation deck as every player ends their training. The pings become less and less until the training grounds are empty. The NPC squad commander stands up ready to leave when he hears a faint ping in the distance.

The squad commander peaks over to see Jamal still grinding experience points from each training station. In the beginning, he gained a few experience points from each mini game for his lack of skill and ability. However, by the end of the day Jamal has earned 50 experience points. To most players, this would be equal to killing one small monster on a side quest so they don't spend much time doing training camps. However, Jamal is too weak to kill a monster. This training camp is his opportunity to earn experience points for his mission.

He lifts a heavy maker and swings it at a platform. A steel piece of metal shoots up and rings a bell. Bring! Jamal throws his hatchets at a target and gets closer and closer to the target. Bring! Bring! He fails the intelligence test but very well in the agility test. Bring!

The squad commander sits and watches until Jamal finishes late at night. Jamal yawns as walks to the barracks and logs off with his points still pending distribution. "Hmm", the squad commander says with a grin. "Very interesting."

[Some sort of intro]

The next day, Jamal logs into the game after work. First thing he does is open his stats. "I have 50 experience points to distribute to my skills! Where should I assign them? Right now I'm all speed and no power. Would it be best to assign all of it to my strength? What about intelligence or agility? I'm already doing well in my classes so how can intelligence help me?"

All these questions buzz around in Jamal's head as an announcement echoes on the loudspeakers. "Attention all recruits! Report to the courtyard for weapons and armor." All the soldiers run out to the courtyards and run towards the 3 tables covered in items. Jamal is one of the last to arrive as he sees soldier after soldier grabbing all of the best items for themselves.

Jamal reaches for a giant axe that boost the user's strength, but it's snatched away by a larger soldier with a Viking like character. Jamal sees some boots that grant the user double jump abilities but a woman shoots the boots with an arrow connected to a rope. She pulls the boots to herself and Jamal is left empty handed. This repeats over and over as soldiers leave the tables, satisfied they equipped gear that will increase their odds.

Jamal looks around for anything left after the scramble but the tables are empty. Jamal stands up after being knocked around by one soldier or the next. As he raises his head, he notices some cloth pinned on the floor under the table. Jamal pulls the cloth out from under the table to find a glove with a shield on the palm. A screen appears in front of Jamal when he analyzes the glove. "Right on Target: Increase Accuracy +5% for all items thrown while this item is equipped on the user's right hand."

"It's better than nothing", Jamal says as he equips the glove to his right hand. Immediately Jamal's accuracy increases by 5 points. Big deal, maybe I'll be able to hit the target better on the training mini game.

All the recruits line up in the courtyard after equipping their new gear. The squad commander struts in front of the recruits. "Now that you are equipped with new gear, it's time to practice working as a unit. You will be separated into teams of 5.

All teams will investigate a local monster sighting that has been reported outside of town. Rumors say something has been attacking farm animals and novice players. Your team will investigate your assigned area and exterminate that monster."

All the recruits are dismissed and the players head to their assigned locations. Jamal looks down at his stat screen and the 50 experience points he still had to distribute. Later that day, Jamal arrives at his assigned area to find his 4 teammates waiting. "Oh great", one of the soldiers says. "We got stuck with the shrimp!"

Jamal recognizes his 4 other teammates from training camp. One large soldier is Brago, a Viking style warrior with a lot of experience points invested in strength and attacking. On a downed tree sits two brothers, Jack and Mack, who are quite popular on social media for their gameplay. The last of Jamal's teammates is a woman named Janet that stole the boots from Jamal with her arrows. "Hey!" Jamal yells as he stomps over to the woman cleaning her bow. "You stole those boots! You saw I was about to grab them."

"You watch who you are calling a thief!" The woman says as she points the head of an arrow at Jamal's neck. "Besides, finders keepers. You want it? Should have been faster or stronger so you can take it from me." The group chuckles as Jamal sits down.

"What are you sitting for?" Brago yells as he stands up with the rest of the group. "We've been waiting on you, ya slow poke. Let's go." Jamal stands up quickly as the group matches through the forest.

Janet shows her talents right away as a tracker. She takes the lead as the group follows a trail of broken sticks. Janet bends down to look at a footprint made from a very large creature. They follow the trail to a cave edged into the side of a mountain. The footprint of the creature lead right into the cave entrance where Jamal's group stands.

Brago nudges Jamal forward. "Well, you're the scout aren't you? Go scout it out and give us an all clear."

"You want me to go in there by myself?"Jamal yells, but covers his mouth quickly just in case whatever is in the cave can hear them.

Jack says, "Just go into the cave and locate the monster." Mack follows by saying, "If it's in there then come out and let us know. We will make a plan on how to kill it once we know what we are dealing with."

Janet walks Jamal to the front of the cave and says, "Just be very quiet, but if he does find you make sure to make a lot of noise and we'll see you when you respawn back in town hahaha!" Janet pushes Jamal deeper in the cave while the group laughs at his back. The sounds of their laughter echo around Jamal as his marches deeper into the cave.

The light soon dims while Jamal inches forward. The cold chill from the cave and the damp walls are so convincing that Jamal forgets reality. "Wait a minute", Jamal stops to think. "I can smell food, and I can feel cold. What would happen if I get eaten by whatever is here? How realistic did these game developers really make this game?"

Deep inside, the narrow cave hallway opens to a large room. The floor is slippery from water dripping off the stalactite covered ceiling above. Jamal sees a pile in the middle of the room. There are no other entrances to the large room and Jamal does not hear any sounds. "The monster must have left the cave."

Jamal walks towards the pile to investigate the monster's burrow. "Maybe I can recover some information about what we are dealing with here." The closer Jamal gets to the pile, the more the leaves in the nests seem more like cloth. Jamal focuses on the twigs, which now seem more like bones. Jamal accidentally kicks a rock next to his foot. The rock rolls around and stops in front of him. Two empty eyes stare at Jamal as he realizes the stone was actually a skull!

Jamal lets out a sharp. "Waaaa!" The sound of the yelp travels outside to cave to his teammates who are gathered around a fire. Brago sharpens his blade while the twins fight over snacks in their inventory. Janet opens some wine to drink when she hears the scream from Jamal. "Well, guess we don't have to worry about splitting the experience points with him hahaha."

Inside the cave, Jamal looks at the pile of bones in the middle of the room. Piles of bones skulls lay scattered around the cave. Each skeleton is covered in tattered rags that used to be wearable items. The durability of each item looks completely used up and all weapons are covered in rust. "These must be the corpses of players that were attacked by the beast and killed. So this is what the squad commander meant about leaving your equipped items after you die and respawn in town." Jamal sees one skeleton in particular dressed in a blue robe with something dangling off it's wrist.

Jamal moves some rocks and crushed bones out of the way to reveal a bracelet. Jamal picks up the bracelet and analyzes the item. "Painfully Aware: A bracelet that detects any aggression towards you. The range of this device depends on the user's level."

"Woah! This might come in handy during my scouting mission." Jamal equips the bracelet and watches the bracelet activate. Small white lights circle around and around the top of the bracelet until it makes a white circle. Immediately a portion of the circle turns red as if pointing behind Jamal.

Behind him, two eyes open from the corner of the room. Jamal slowly turns when he hears a low growl rumbling in the room. From the shadows a rat beast just like the one Jamal faced when he first came into this world pokes its head out. However, this rat it's almost 3 times larger than Jamal! It bates it's ugly fangs as red electricity zaps across it's fur. The rat roars so loudly that it scares the 4 soldiers waiting at the cave's entrance. The four soldiers grab their weapons and fearfully wait by the cave opening.

Back inside the cave, the rat charges at Jamal. It keeps into the air to pounce, but Jamal jumps out if the way. Jamal rolls away, while the rat slams his head against the wall. The whole room shakes and water drips down from the stalactites. The rat shakes it's head and looks for Jamal.

The young warrior stands up and pulls out his axes, ready to face his opponent. "Good thing I thought ahead for this." Jamal's confidence comes from his choice to add 25 of the experience points to his agility. Jamal's biggest advantage was his speed. However, in a forest he might not always be able to run on flat ground. In order to make sure he could dodge an attack from a monster while he was scouting, Jamal increased his agility to 25.

"So what did I do with the other 25 experience points?" Jamal thinks as he rears his hatchet back in his right hand. "I put 25 points into my strength!" Jamal throws his axe and the beast and it slices onto the rat's flesh. The rat sheiks backs as pixels flow around the beast. The axe hits the floor and Jamal fist pumps in triumph. "Ha Ha! That should do it!"

The rat opens its eyes even more angry than before. Jamal looks in terror as the HP bar appears above the rat, "1475/1500". The rat screeches at Jamal loudly. Jamal turns to run towards the exit, but the rat whips his tail around Jamal's leg. It whirls Jamal around in the air before throwing him on the other side of the room.

Jamal winces as his HP bar pings a warning notification, "5/25"! Jamal's character is almost out of life, but he feels no pain. He is short of breath from the impact of the ground, but he immediately stands up. The rat leaps high into the air ready to squish Jamal into a pancake. Jamal activates Nini's Favor around his neck and zooms across the room grabbing his hatchet along the way.

The rat's heavy body weight slams into the ground, shaking the entire cave. Rocks fall from the ceiling and Jamal dodges the debris. Some of the rocks land on the rat and Jamal sees the rat's health slowly decrease. "So beasts can be hurt by the environment?"

The rat charges head first at Jamal, but he's a little quicker than the rat with Nini's favor. The beast once again smashes it's head into the wall and lands on its belly. This time a stalactite is shaken loose and falls to the ground, barely missing Jamal as he dives out of the way at the last minute.

"Hmm." Jamal says as he thinks of a plan to escape the cave. The rat, once again, jumps into the air ready to squish Jamal. Jamal stands the pointy side of the stalactite that just fell toward the rat and dives out of the way. The rat lands directly in the rock shattering the spiked bolder on its belly. The Rat screams in pain as it's HP drops more than half. The rat wobbles to its feet, dazed and confused. The rat blindly charges forward, trying to finally catch its prey. Jamal sprints out if the way and the rat splashes the wall, decreasing its HP slightly more.

Jamal sprints towards the exit when he notices a crack start to develop on a huge stalactite on the ceiling. The rat shakes its head and regains its senses. Not noticing the huge spike on the ceiling between Jamal and itself, the rat keeps forward ready to end Jamal's life.

Jamal throws his axe with his right hand again, twirling the axe in the air and hitting the crack in the rock. The rock splits off the ceiling and falls to the floor, hitting the rat mid air. Jamal sprints down the hallway of the cave as a huge explosion erupts from the crash. The entire cave begins to collapse as Jamal sprints out as fast as he can. Pebbles and dirt swirl in Jamal's face and light peaks out from the exit approaching.

Jamal dives out the cave as the mouth of the mountain closes with a loud boom. Rocks and rubble fill the once open cave. Jamal's team mates stand back amazed and terrified that Jamal made it out alive. "What happened?" Brago asks while hiding behind his sword. Jamal turns over from where he landed, still in shock that he made it himself.

Janet stomps over to Jamal and picks him up by the collar. "Hey, we asked you a question. What happened in the cave?"

All of a sudden a toungue snaps out and grabs Janet by the ankle. All the soldiers scream in fear as the rat's head pokes out of the rubble. "He must have dug himself through all the rocks!" Jamal says as the rat pulls Janet closer to it's mouth.

"Help me!" Janet calls out, but no one replies. Brago hides scared and the brothers fight over who would have to fight the beast. "You go save her. No you go save her. No you! No you! If neither of us save her, then maybe we can split her equipment up amongst ourselves."

The twins continue arguing while Janet cries out for help. She looks back at the snarling teeth ready to eat her and begs for someone to come. Realizing none of her teammates would come to her rescue, Janet gives up on trying to fight. Depression begins to take over as she reflects on her choices that got her in this situation.

Just before Janet stops resisting, an axe goes flying into the rat's head. The HP bar rings zero and the creature dies. Jamal hears a notification ping so he checks his stat, while the other four soldiers watch the rat's body disappear. Jamal sees in big bold letters "level 2".

................................

Jamal's Stats

Level 2

HP: 50/50
MP:10/10

Equipped:
Nini's Favor: (+10% speed to the user whenever in danger)

Right on Target: (+5% accuracy to the user when wearing this item on the right hand)

Painfully Aware: (A bracelet that detects any aggression towards you. The range of this device depends on the user's level.)

Strength: 40
Speed: 21 (+10%)
Accuracy: 2 (+5%)
Intelligence: 2
Wisdom: 2
Agility: 46
Charisma: 2

EXP: 20
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