Many Worlds Chapter 28
It turned out that killing monsters was a more complicated proposition than it seemed for Jules and his group of friends. Their equipment wasn’t as good, since they’d had to spend money on travel. Jules would have felt guilty, but he felt that it was better to get them together with their bracelets “unlocked” as soon as possible. However, it did leave them a bit under equipped. This wasn’t a large problem, as they had over a month still until the landshift, when they would need to be as strong as possible. However, it also meant they had to be more cautious than when Jules was with Mary’s group. Of course, they could have joined with Mary’s team, but 8 people was overkill most of the time, and it would be more efficient to hunt separately, at least at the current stage.
For one thing, the group didn’t have any melee combatants. This was perfectly fine as long as they could kill enemies before they got to them, and terrible if they couldn’t. Isaac and Robert were using assault rifles, though Isaac was planning to upgrade to something even heavier once he could afford it, but not before acquiring some good armor. Douglas used a laser pistol, which was more accurate than a slugthrowing weapon, but not as good against armored targets. Because the general quality of their equipment was low, however, they had to pick and choose what they fought carefully.
This was somewhat harder than it sounded. Unlike a normal game, or perhaps it would be more correct to say a real game, monsters didn’t just spawn in one area, with a certain type or few types in an expected location. Though studying the habitats of animals worked, with more real monsters coming out of the caves every day, it wasn’t known exactly what to expect. Monsters didn’t remain stationary either, so they would often find Jules’ group instead of the other way around. None of the group was particularly specialized in scouting abilities, so they often ended up fighting in disadvantageous situations. Because of that, they didn’t always win.
The group was looking for animals, preferably larger ones, that had been displaced from their homes by monsters. The income from animals wasn’t as high, but it was safer than hunting true monsters with equipment that wasn’t ready for them. Unfortunately, today wasn’t going well for them. They hadn’t found much of anything, and had only succeeded in getting exercise. Then, they saw a spined horror. It too saw them.
The area they were in was mostly rocky terrain with a few trees, so there wasn’t much hope of hiding, even if it hadn’t seen them already. Thus, they prepared to fight it, since they couldn’t outrun it. The group let fly a hail of bullets, as well as laser fire. Over time, their accuracy had improved to where they could often hit weaker spots, but the spined horrors weird eyestalks were still hard to hit at a distance, as well as with its quick movements. The rest was still covered in the spines that served as armor.
The group placed what trees and boulders were around between them and the spined horror, but that only slightly slowed it down. It soon had charged into the group, clawing at Isaac who barely managed to get out of the way as it passed, and even then he couldn’t avoid getting scraped by its claws as well as a few scratches from the spines, which fortunately were pointed toward the rear of the creature.
At this point, nobody held anything back, and they attacked with all of their ability. Not that they were generally prone to holding back, but they at least tried to conserve ammo in most cases. In addition, Douglas used some ability to enhance his laser fire. Instead of any color you would expect from a laser, red, blue, green, or anything of that sort, his pistol started shooting black. Where it hit, black fire lingered, and seemed able to actually break some of the spines, damaging the actual creature. Unfortunately, the spined horror was smart, and knew that he was dangerous. It charged toward Douglas, who looked exhausted from just a few moments of using his ability. He couldn’t get out of the way at all, and was trampled with a terrifying *crunch*.
Before anyone really had time to process the situation, the spined horror turned at the rest of the group. It charged Jules specifically, who managed to dodge to the side… but couldn’t do anything about the spines it shot out as it passed. He was only partly expecting it, and could only deflect them away from their targets a small amount in the distance they had to travel. He ended up with one in his left shoulder and one in his side. It hurt more than he had imagined. It was excruciating, and he even had the pain settings turned down. Jules would have wondered if they were fake if he hadn’t tested them. However, he only had to experience the pain for a moment before the tail- spined horrors had tails? Came toward his face, and he experienced death for the first time.
Even though he knew he would be revived, death was a terrifying experience. Jules had tried not to think about the possibility that he wouldn’t be revived in the game since his wristband was “unlocked”, but he had anyway. He even became worried that he wouldn’t even end up at his body on Earth. However, he still also thought about it as a game, so his worries had faded, until the instant it happened. Then, he was terrified… but not for long.
Quite quickly, he found himself back in his body on Earth. He got a message in his head telling him that he would have to wait twenty four hours to long into the game as a death penalty. This was true, but Jules thought it was probably also because they had to fix his body in the “game” or construct a new one. Probably the former, since it would likely be more energy efficient. With the death would be experience loss. Jules wasn’t sure if that was a necessary component or not, but it certainly discouraged dying in the game. The biggest factor, though, was the death itself. It was terrifying. Even if he hadn’t known that it was a real event that had happened, it would have terrified him anyway. Being helpless and unable to stop it… Jules swore he would do his best to avoid dying ever again, even if he could revive with no penalty.