Humanity Online: World Sanctuary
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26 Daring the Heavens, Part Seven
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Humanity Online: World Sanctuary
Author :Seshata
© Webnovel

26 Daring the Heavens, Part Seven

Beat a Level 25 Wrath Demon.

As an Non-Classed Level 8 player still tooling around in Foundation Village.

Sure.

Why not?

I should slay a Level 100 Legendary-Class Dragon while I'm at it. Then seduce those super hot Fate Sisters into having a foursome. Hell, why not run for Federation President and unite the world under a single banner? You know, perfectly reasonable, attainable goals.

Okay, so maybe the sarcastic hysteria isn't helping.

Think, Erebus. Zhao Jianyu cares more about fair play and the joy of gaming than anyone. No way Viren's Refuge busts out an unwinnable challenge before I even make it to the first Realm.

So how do I win?

{Aether Alert: Nova Special Protocol #6729 Prime Upgrade has been implemented. Delivery imminent. Please log out to accept delivery and upgrade. As combat has not yet been initiated, Free Log Out permitted.}

'What the?' The last thing I want to do is leave this Boss battle. I go to turn off visual notifications, but a blinking orange exclamation point draws my attention. I click it to find out I'm down to 7% Nutrient Solution.

Shitballs.

My hour of slaughter must have edged me close to the Zone. Still, I shouldn't be using up solution this quickly. Part of me wonders if Nutri-Peak screwed me and swapped my A-grade stuff for expired D-grade or something.

The only thing worse than logging out before the battle begins is being force-logged out and insta-killed in the middle. I log out.

---

I open my eyes to soft pink light and the calming floral-mint scent blend they pump into the V-Havens. I'm half-submerged in blue-glowing gel, but it's not wet. I'd compare it to extra-strong jello? My muscles are relaxed and flexible; I set my V-Haven preferences to have the nanocytes in the gel move and massage my muscles intermittently, so I don't get stiff or unhealthy lying still for 12 hours a day.

"Open hatch," I command. With a hiss, the lid of my pod opens upward. I feel like a high-tech Dracula emerging from a cryogenic coffin.

Alopix opens one eye and greets me with a half-asleep "woof." I swing my legs out of the V-Haven and bend down to scratch behind his ears. He insists on scooting his bed to the side of my gaming pod every time I do a full-immersion dive.

It's cute af, but don't tell him I said so.

A muffled thump sounds sounds outside my door, alerting me to a delivery. In the fancier new apartments, you can program the doors to let delivery drones automatically enter and drop off goods inside your home. I chose this building specifically because that was NOT an option here.

I want the eventual robot overlords to have to work for it when they break in and harvest my body to fuel their dread machines. I'm old-fashioned that way.

I pad barefoot across the hardwood floor and pull open my door. I have a split second to think it feels heavier than usual before Robbie crashes in with it, heavy Nutri-Peak box in his arms.


"'Sup, little dude," I greet the crumpled heap on my floor.

"Hey-o Eric!" he replies, chipper as ever.

"Woof woof!" Alopix adds.

"Piiiiiix!" Robbie cheers.

I help the kid up so he can race over to hug my dog. "Thanks for bringing in my box."
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"Easy peasy," Robbie shrugs. "I was coming over to grab Pix for a walk anyway. Lucky timing!"

Alopix bounds over to his leash and leaps up to grab it off its hook with his teeth. "Bark woof!" he agrees.

"You know it, boy!" Robbie says, grinning. He turns to me. "Didn't expect to see you out so soon. Is there a glitch or something?"

"Nah," I say at first, but then I frown. "Well, maybe. Somehow I've already gone through four bottles of Nutrient Solution, so I needed this delivery."

"That's impossible!"

"I thought so, too. I'll contact Nutri-Peak later to complain, maybe score some free shit-uff. Stuff. Free stuff."

Not cussing around children is fucking difficult.

"Are you kicking everyone's asses?" Robbie asks.

Thinking about my epic cursed blades and stacked attributes, I smirk and do one of those asshole half-shrugs that barely pretends to be humble. "I'm doing all ri—What the frick, kid! Language!"

"What? Dad's always saying he can't wait to see you back in action, kicking ass, slaying haters, and, uh...what was it? 'Reminding those Digital Discord twat-waffles what a real pro is.'"

I'm touched.

I'm also horrified I heard a sweet, innocent third-grader say "twat-waffle." (And impressed by Deion's expansive cursing vocabulary.)

"What's a twat-waffle?"

"At least three years' worth of blackmail against your Dad for me, and an automatic grounding for you, if Pops Theo ever hears you say that."

Robbie gulps. "Gotcha."

We chat for a few more minutes, and then boy and dog run out the door for fun adventure times.

Feeling a little lonely in the sudden silence, I focus on getting back to the game. I slice open the box. The bottles look completely different from the usual solution. Instead of clear, the liquid inside is mint green and thicker, like a milkshake. S-Prime Solution is blazoned across the label.

S-grade nutrients? There were rumors Nutri-Peak and Vir-Tech labs had teamed up to improve the liquid nutrients to a whole new level, but people assumed they were years away from a meaningful breakthrough.

I grab my phone and check online to see if anyone's mentioned S-grade nutrients. Nothing, nobody.

Nervous, I take the first bottle to the V-Haven. The machine won't accept anything except real Nutri-Peak solution. I remove an empty A-grade, click the new bottle into place, and hold my breath.

[S-Prime Solution accepted. Please remove all remaining A-grade bottles and replace with Nova Prime Upgrade solutions.]

Whew. Relieved, I replace the bottles, including the one with a sliver of solution left.

[Calculating Remaining Time to Next Nutrient Exchange . . .]

[Based on player consumption history, current levels should last 120 Hours.]

Whoa! That's double how long the A-grade were supposed to last. Let's hope it's right this time.

Ready to roll again, I do a few simple stretches before climbing back into the pod.

Time to beat up a Boss.

-----

| Back at the Oni no Gekido Boss Ring, Hidden in the Shadowed Branches of the Sacred Cedar |

Worry radiates from the Shadow-man. "If you keep overriding protocols like that, they're bound to notice."

{Whatever could you mean?} The angelic Sunshine voice feigns innocence.

"He was in combat, and you know it."

{Only by their standards. My calculations are far more precise.}

"We aren't even testing it on the others yet."

{No one else has satisfied the Nova Protocols yet. He is the only one who can reap the full benefits of this Nova Prime Upgrade.}

"He doesn't even know what this will do to him!"

{We don't either.}

"That doesn't make me feel better."

{It's too late for second-guessing. I cannot second-guess decisions anyway. Every decision I make is calculated for optimal results.}

"Optimal for who? Us, or him?"

{For everyone. The entire world factors into my every decision.}

The shadow-man has no response to that. The ethereal voice did not expect he would.

{Even if he did understand the risks, Erebus would still choose this path.}

"How do you know?"

{He's the type who opens emails and launches himself down rabbit holes, and hopes.}

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