“Evolution is truly something fascinating. There are thousands of different races in the vast Multiverse and even more variants and mutations. The system offers us plenty of choices and we just need to take them, use them to survive, and become something more. With time you will understand what I mean and then you will be ready to create your own path. A path that no one ever walked.”
~ An old warrior to his grandson, 25th Outbreak
A rustle echoed through the empty attic as Leo hid the leftovers of his food. Nothing could go to waste when the apocalypse surrounded him from every side. Maybe for now finding more nourishment wasn’t too much of a problem, but in a week or two? Who knew how much of the world would be even standing anymore.
Leo once again leaned against the brick wall, sighing as his mind was still going through different scenarios regarding evolution. Way too important of a subject to just forget about it in a few minutes, especially when it could change Leo’s entire being.
The tainted arm raised to Leo’s eyes, the clawed hand flexing and turning as he took in the mass of deformed flesh and glowing veins. Scars upon scars still layered the entire skin, only now Leo saw the few new additions he gained during his journey. They were different, more prominent, bathing in the eternal crimson light of the inhuman veins.
Maybe I can get rid of you. Leo thought, his gaze falling upon the long claws. But is this the right choice?
The first time Leo saw the tainted arm, he wanted to rip it off, to get rid of something so hideous. But the limb quickly proved its usefulness against Edward’s husk. Leo’s new instinct might have been the one to save him, but without the claws, Leo might have died anyway.
After that fight, he tried not to think too much about the change to his body, and instead Leo used the limb as a tool to survive. Both as a weapon to kill Voidlings with deadly precision and a glorified lamp in this world without any electricity.
And now that Leo realized that the option of evolution was coming, he didn’t know what his choice would be. If evolution gave him an option to get rid of the arm and become more human again, should he take it?
Leo shook his head. Once again worrying about something that might not even be an option. First I need to reach the requirements and then… then I can worry about my humanity.
Taking a peek through the small window, Leo frowned as he noticed the sun already on its way towards the west after it reached the peak of the day. Still plenty of time before the night. He thought, returning to his previous position.
Leo wanted to give his back a bit more time to rest before moving again, but lying here for the next six or seven hours, waiting for the night just didn’t sit too well with him. Especially not when with every hour the monster outside became stronger.
Kill some stragglers, scout the area and then come back. Leo nodded, moving to stand up, only to stop as another thought crossed his mind. Hold up. There was one more menu for me to check. Job?
Catching the command, the System answered as lines of notifications flashed into existence in front of Leo.
Welcome to the Job menu. Before moving to the other functions please select your new job. The list is made up of any professions that you saw, experienced, or heard of. With time the list might become longer and you will be able to change your job at the price of the progress and skills in your previous job.
The list went on and on, mentioning pretty much every mundane job of the old world with the addition of two or three that existed only in fiction. From soldier and guard to a leader and butcher, the system had it all. Ninety percent or even more of those jobs had no place in the new world and so Leo only focused on the ones that could maybe grant him some benefits.
This time when he used Identify on any of those jobs, the System answered, giving Leo a short description and the advantages gained. In most cases, it was a special skill or two, but some of the jobs also provided the user with access to another function of the System related to the profession.
Leo checked almost every crafting job that could prove useful in his journey and while some of them had potential, all of them came with one very important problem specified by the job’s description.
The lack of tools required for the job.
Guess I won’t be crafting potions or weapons anytime soon… Leo sighed and gave the list another look. Without tools and a place to settle down, he didn’t know how anyone could ever use the majority of the useful jobs.
Minutes passed as Leo identified job after job, searching for anything that supported his style of survival. It wasn’t until he came back to the top of the list and read the description of the profession he dismissed previously.
In old times those hard-working people were the ones to provide food and materials for their families to survive another year. In the world infested by the Void, the Hunters raise once more, both to provide the survivors with materials other can’t find, and to hunt monsters that refuse to die.
Skill: Hunter’s Pulse and the access to the bestiary.
Bestiary… Depending on how it worked, a function like a bestiary could be useful. And Hunter’s Pulse, I wonder. A scowl made its way on Leo’s face identify refused to give more information about either of the benefits.
I guess I can take it and change it later as the System said… I chose Hunter.
Your job has been set to Hunter. Access to bestiary and tasks received. Hunter’s Pulse gained.
Hunter’s Pulse (Uncommon):
The first skill any respectable Hunter has to learn. Guided by intent and Essence, the pulse helps them through the hunts in search of their targets or anything valuable.
Sends a pulse of Essence through the surrounding area in search of anything alive or valuable. The range of the pulse is dependent on the amount of Essence used, while its effectiveness is guided by your perception. Warning: Any being with sharp senses might be able to feel the pulse.
The knowledge once again crashed into Leo’s mind, but this time he was somewhat ready, grinding his teeth as he processed the information. Unlike with any skill before, now Leo knew perfectly how to utilize the ability. Useful, very useful. It will be nice to know what is inside before I barge into a building.
Although, during the information transfer, Leo caught one very curious detail that he just had to check out.
Closing his eyes, Leo placed a hand on the floor and reached into his Essence reserves. The energy, guided by his will, formed a tight ball inside his hand and waited for Leo’s last command.
Which he gave and released the energy into the floor.
Eyes snapping open, Leo watched and felt as the crimson Essence traveled through the entire attic, touching everything in the room. Then his gaze went to the backpack which now glowed faintly with Leo’s Essence. So that’s what it means by giving it an intent.
When it came to objects, the pulse apparently required an intent from the user. The more precise the command, the easier it would be for the skill to find the requested items. Quite advanced, but very, very useful. And what about bestiary.
Welcome to your bestiary. Currently, it is empty but with every identified creature, you will be able to access System’s information about your target.
Expected. Though I already Identified plenty of Voidlings…
Sighing, Leo stood up, slinging his bag over his back. He grimaced slightly as his wounds flared, but the hour or so of rest at least allowed the injuries to heal a bit. With this speed of recovery, his back should be almost healed after the night.
He rolled his shoulders a few times to get used to the pain again and moved towards the stairs as his mind called out the last part of the System he had to investigate.
-Take a task
-Pay for a task
-Change your job
Eyebrow raising, Leo selected the first option, eyes widening as another list appeared. Hunt: Cursed Humans. Find the lair of Collectors. Kill a Prime and harvest its heart. Gather two Crystallized Essence. All commissioned by the System.
Without even selecting any of the tasks, Leo returned to the job menu and chose the second option. He gasped as he noticed the various options, telling him how to commission a task. Leo could request anything as long as it was described well and he gave a reward for the task — be it Ether or items — then the System would register it for the users with the proper job.
All of it seemed nice and useful for the future, but as Leo looked at the job request again, he frowned. Range: Current planet. Somehow I doubt that anyone is doing much better than me to finish any task I create. It would explain why all of my tasks are commissioned by the system.
Scoffing, Leo went back to his tasks and selected the only one he could complete as of this moment.
Hunt: Cursed Humans
Slay at least 10 Cursed Humans of level 3+. Commissioned by: System. Time Limit: 2 Earth days.
Do you wish to accept?
Yes. The window disappeared into nothingness, leaving Leo standing before the closed backdoor. His claws pushed the door ajar and he slipped out, going back into the world painted in red.
Leo slipped around the corner of the house and hid behind one of the bushes that gave him the perfect vision of the entire empty street. True stealth formed around his body and Leo sprinted along the bushes near the sidewalk, only to jump into the yard of another house a moment later.
Just like almost every building in the neighborhood, the house was barely standing. Pieces of glass glinted in the light of the sun under every window as parts of bricks laid crushed all over the yard. If Leo didn’t know any better, then he would have thought that the previous night caused all of that.
Crouching before the boarded entrance door, Leo reached into himself and touched the building. The much larger ball of Essence seeped into the wall and Leo momentarily closed his eyes as he processed the feedback.
No weapons, no food, and no one alive.
And so Leo traveled from house to house, searching with his pulse for anything useful or some signs of life. Not even one Voidling was found and he had to accept that it was time to move to the other street that connected to the road that the block of flats stood by.
Leo jumped over the fence that led to another backyard and sneaked towards the backdoor. Hunter’s Pulse thrummed through the entire building and Leo’s eyes widened just a bit as the skill for the first time gave him a positive for life.
Somewhere on the ground floor. He thought as he yanked the long board placed over the door.
The plank didn’t even fight against Leo’s inhuman strength and the long rusty nails slid out in just a second. The door followed without any help as it opened wide open, groaning after years of unuse.
A very familiar screech answered from somewhere in the house and Leo grinned. He added a few knocks for good measure, waiting for the Voidling to come out.
The Cursed Human almost crashed into the wall of the hallways as it dashed towards the entrance door. In response, Leo backed a few steps, identified the monster, and gripped the nailed plank in his hands, ready to deal with the Voiding as fast as he could.
Cursed Human (Voidling) | Rank: F-
A foot or so away from the monster, Leo swung his makeshift weapon, the plank meeting the creature’s head. The wood snapped, splinters raining down upon the ground as the Voidling screeched, the nails digging into its head as it tumbled to the ground.
Snorting at the sight, Leo grabbed his dagger and finished the monster. It stilled and Leo’s claws already began their job as he checked the bestiary once again.
Race: Voidling | Subspecies: Cursed Human
Average rank: F- to F
Weapon of choice: Nails, Jaws
Known weaknesses: Brain
Cursed Humans are the main variants of Voidlings created due to the Outbreak. Almost complete lack of intelligence makes them very easy prey as a solo target. When in fear of a stronger predator, Cursed Humans tend to create groups that can overwhelm even an experienced warrior. Any cursed variant can be instinctively commanded by a stronger variant.