5 Goodbye at the Dry Rock Valley?
Accelerated Reactions. This power belongs to me, so I would like to think that I've already unlocked all of its secrets, and I should know all of its strengths and weaknesses.
This low-tier power does not increase my physical abilities in any way, nor does it make me smarter, but it does have its uses. In raid parties, I can utilize my power in the front-lines, bombarding monsters from any angle with any weapon that I have in my hands. Although every encounter will have its own risks, my life always hanging on the line between life and death, Accelerated Reactions continues to make dodging attacks aimed at me a breeze.
The world seems to slow down around me, but I know that it is just the effect of this power, when my brain's processing speed surpasses that of what any human could normally handle - as if I were using 100% of my brain!
As amazing as all of this sounds, my power is not omnipotent - I can only react to what I can sense. Every human has the five basic senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Yes, you can say that my power, Accelerated Reactions, is just extreme sensitivity to the aforementioned senses.
Let us take for example the current situation, where the giant armoured rabbit in front of me has lifted its head and arched its body back. To the normal person, all of this happens in just a matter of seconds, but to me, from the moment I activate my Accelerated Reactions, I can already determine just what actions I may need to take to survive what's to come next.
The armoured rabbit seems like a statue, under my watchful eyes, but I can see its stomach expanding. The gentle breeze, that had already been disturbed by its previous attack, now feels like it's being sucked in toward the rabbit at a frightening speed - so I can conclude that the rabbit's next attack will most likely be a breath of some sort.
I once again dive away, easily dodging the high-velocity cannons of air that the armoured rabbit shoots at me. I do not stop with just defensive maneuvers, however, and I tuck into a roll to get farther away from Aaron's five-man party. I need to give them the chance to save their friend.
The armoured rabbit finally gives chase, its paws crushing the grass underneath with every leap. I regret having thrown away the sword that I had picked up on my way over to intercept the beast, but it's too late to double-back and grab it now. If today's visit to the fields were not an outing with Emily, or if she wasn't so eager to come to the Outer Lands quicker, I would have spent some time to equip myself with something before leaving. I raise my wrist to my face, calling out for the map of Gortum Fields, knowing that I cannot run forever.
The holographic display expands to show the entirety of Gortum Fields in a 2-D format, the GPS (global positioning system) built into the device also constantly updating my location. Scrolling to the left, at the very top of the display, my update to the previous alert could be read. I can see that people, marked by the blue dots on the map, are already making their way to where I was. It would be very nice if waiting for them to coming were an option for me, however the snarling giant behind me doesn't seem to have any intention of giving me the chance to do so.
I reassess the situation, now that I've made it to section M-22, and notice that there is a mountain path ahead of me. The mountain path leads to another area, one that has a Danger tier rating of DT-3, but the cover of rocks and boulders is much better than the cover of... open land. I just hope that I won't encounter 'them'.
"Super ID Marc, Accelerated Reactions, low-tier," I pant into my wrist once again. "Gortum Fields section M-21 update. Armoured rabbit cannot be subdued, so I will lead it over to Dry Rock Valley from section M-22 entrance. Please send reinforcement."
"Update received," a woman's voice replies this time. "Marc, we've confirmed that the guard patrol in Gortum Fields have already dispatched a full squad to the previous location."
I already know this, having checked on the map before, but I let her finish. "As we speak, I have a colleague who's contacting the squad captain to update them on your location. We're going to try get to you as soon as possible, Marc. Please keep us updated. Transmission over."
"I just hope that your squad makes it in time," I mumble under my breath before trying to call Emily. "Start call. Emily Wilton."
The holographic display changes to show my face in a box to the bottom right, with the main part of the display being left blank for the pig-tailed head that's to pop up in the middle soon. "Marc!" Emily shouts at me through the MVI. "Where are you? Are you okay?"
"I'm still fine," I reply between my panting. "Are you safe?"
"Yeah! Why is your display shaking so much?"
I let out a laugh, nearly tripping on a rock, because I can't believe that she set herself up like this so easily. "I'm playing with something big, right now."
"Marc!" she exclaims, her previously worried face now getting angry. "If this is another one of your... 'down there' jokes!"
"See?" I say, moving my wrist away from my face to show her the armoured rabbit still chasing me.
I continue to laugh because her reaction is exactly what I was expecting. "Marc," she says quieter than before, the hologram of her face showing the tears rolling down her face. "You're coming back, right?"
I stop my laughing and remain silent, not wanting to make a promise that I may not be able to keep. "Right, Marc?!"
"Em," I finally reply back to her, trying not to make what I say sound like an apology. "No matter what happens, I hope that you will try your hardest to become stronger. Although we're both low-tier power holders, I've always admired just how headstrong you are. Don't change that part about you for anything, got it?"
The narrow and straight path up the side of the mountain, that the armoured rabbit has been chasing me on, will soon change into a more jagged and rocky climb around to the other side. "Take care of yourself," I say quickly, and end the call with Emily.
I know that I need my full attention on the upcoming climb to the other side of the mountain, so talking with Emily will have to wait until this giant beast stops chasing me. The ground shakes every time the rabbit pounces at me, the impact of its giant body knocking rocks down from above.
Successfully clambering up the side of the mountain, I stop to look down at the hulking beast still trying to make its way to me. The way that its massive paws keep slipping off of the rocks relieves a bit of the tension that has been weighing down on me since before coming into the valley. Unfortunately, as I raise a heavy rock above my head, to try throw it at the root of all of my problems, a particular smell being carried by the wind comes from the other side of the valley triggering my Accelerated Reactions.
Blood-stained clothes, trinkets made of bone, and a thirsty stare that you can literally feel piercing your heart. Their bodies reek of the blood of their fallen foes. I see them, and they see me see them.
It's 'them'. Bandits.
There are seven bandits standing on a ledge, at the other side of the valley. I watch them carefully, slowly putting down the rock in my hands. The smallest of the seven men points down at the armoured rabbit trying to climb up to me. The distance between us is far, but I can make out that his finger is starting to shine.
The ground beneath me shakes violently, bringing me to my hands and knees.
Was that a power?!
I look toward the bandits, who seem to be looking up at something in the sky, and I follow their gaze. What I see flying towards me frightens me, but Accelerated Reactions makes my body move out of the way just in time.
Half of the armoured rabbit's body lies sprawled out in front of me, its eyes looking right into mine. The scene is horrific, but any veteran Super would have seen much worse, so I manage to collect myself and look back at the now laughing bandits.
I need to run.
I scramble to my feet, breaking into a sprint, but it is futile. One of the bandits that were on the other side of the valley appears in front of me, stepping out of thin air, as though he had just ripped a hole in the air. Another follows him, and another after, until all seven bandits are standing around me.
The shortest of the bandits, the one whose shining finger can make giant beasts explode without even touching them, walks up to me and takes a closer look at my clothes. "Are you from The Wall?"
"Yes," I answer calmly, though my heart feels like it's ready to jump out of my chest.
"Are you a Super?" he continues to ask, now walking around me in a circle. "Do you work for the military?"
I feel a bead of sweat rolling down the side of my face, and I want to wipe it away, but I don't want to do anything to set these men off. "I'm a Super, yes, but I do not work for any military."
"Oh?" the bandit utters, and circles me a few more times before signalling one of the other bandits to get something. "Then you wouldn't know what this is, would you?"
The bandit that had first stepped out of thin air reaches his hand out and pulls a dark suitcase out of nowhere. It must be his power! What is it, though? Teleportation? If so, that's a power of the highest tier.
"This is something we've just picked up," the one circling me continues, smirking to himself and showing me the opened suitcase. "We found it in a top secret military research facility, inside of a heavily guarded vault."
"This little weapon here has yet to be tested," he says, pointing something that looks like a paintbrush with buttons on it directly at my head. "Today, you have the blessing to be our guinea pig. What do you say?"
Everything in my body is telling me to try make a run for it, but I just cannot see any way out. "You ask me like I have a choice in the matter."
The main bandit harrumphs and bursts out into laughter. The other bandits laugh with him before he cuts them off with a wave of his hand. "I like you," he says to me slowly, handing the paintbrush-looking thing over to one of the other bandits. "But no one talks to me that way. Do it."
I close my eyes and turn my body away from the bandit, the fear of death plaguing my thoughts, and I remember how I used to cry into my pillow every night. I remember how I would curse myself for being too weak, back then. How pitiful my life has been, constantly rushing to the Outer Lands and injuring myself, barely able to bring home enough money to pay for grandma's medical bills. The memory of suffering from hunger pangs from when I tried to save what money I could for my sister's schooling resurfaces, and it overwhelms me.
My life is not to be pitied, for it will end soon. The one to pity are my grandma and sister. Without me, how are they to survive? Will Karen have to become a drop-out, like me, just to pay the bills? Grandma...
I'm weak. I'm weak! I'm weak!! I'M WEAK!
I want to be stronger. Stronger than anyone. Strong enough to beat all of these bandits. Strong enough to never be chased by a level two mutated beast again. Strong enough to make sure Emily never has to worry about me! Strong enough... that I can give my only family a chance to live their lives like they were meant to...
"I don't want to die!!"
My eyes open wide as I wake up screaming, my voice echoing into the darkness. The fluttering of the torch fire makes every shadow look ominous, but it's only thanks to the fire that I can see my surroundings: dusty stone floor, stone walls and metal bars. A prison of some sort?
"Where am I?"