5. Engineering a Body – Ligaments, Muscles, and Tendons
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Of course, System refused to give Flora couch and blanket.

Flora looked around for thing to use for comfort but found only bones and her jumping avatars.

'I could snuggle with my avatars, but the ground is still too hard. Maybe I can use their clothing?'

The stubborn System refused to create T-shirts on the ground, but he didn't vanish them when the avatars undressed. By carrying out a striptease marathon Flora and the avatar created a pile of cloth.

Flora judged it sufficiently cozy but felt that she missed a chance not utilizing the avatars. 'When do you get the opportunity to command your own clone army?'

So she fashioned a hammock out of the T-shirts and ordered her avatars to swing it gently. Also, she gave one avatar a shirt with a print with palm fronds to fan.

Satisfied, she lay down to rest.

The ringing of a phone woke her up.

"I'm coming! I'm coming! Where is my phone?" Flora fumbled for her mobile until she realized that she was in the virtual world. She was proud that she noticed it so quickly and even managed not to fall off the hammock.

"System, accept the call."

"I'm in the game. Where are you, Ma?"

"I'm creating my avatar, love. It'll take a few more hours, maybe days?"

"You are in there for five hours! Wait, with time dilation it's 10 hours! WTF are you doing?"

"I changed the bones, and then I took a nap."

"That makes a lot of sense. NOT!" Robby sighted.

"Sarcasm in this shape is not sarcasm, but a concession that you know the truth rationally but choose to deny it due to emotional reasons." Flora had explained this to him many times. Maybe that was the reason he still used it. "Sweety, I will call you when I'm ready. Meanwhile, work on harmonizing your rationality and your emotions. Love you!"

"Yes, Ma. I understand that you are scared. The virtual world is nice, though. Take your time. Bye-bye." He hung up.

Flora chuckled. 'That little rascal thinks I need so long because I'm scared.' She took a moment to go over her motives and feelings concerning the virtual world. Looking around and seeing her avatars, fanning her, doing jumping jacks, and swinging the hammock, she was extremely pleased.

'The real world is arguably a world based on mathematics. This world is unarguably one. Even the parts I don't understand yet like this attributes stuff is quantified. I'm an engineer: I harness mathematics to prevail. I got this!'

Motivated, she checked the avatars for injuries. They were still fine.

"System, show me the best ligaments, please include the bones they are attached." She scanned the model perfunctory.

"System, color every ligament purple. Replace it with its natural color after I modified that corresponding ligament on my avatar." Flora thought that the main challenge was not to get confused by 900 small strings and miss some out.

After she prepared her avatar and got the rating for her current ligaments (E), she requested System to aggregate a second model with the best ligament of the foot.

Then she started to modify the ligaments of the avatars foot. Basically, she applied the same strategy as with the skeleton. She reinforced them, exchanged material, and fortified the connection with the bones.

She slowly worked her way up the body and fell in a smooth rhythm of modifying, creating save files, testing, and checking the new jumping avatars.

In no time she reached the knee. She had trepidations about it because she had blown her ACL in the past and knew that the knee was the most complicated joint in the body. But the work on it went suspiciously easy, and there was less to change than she expected. Her avatar had a lot more ligament-like stuff than the model. System explained to Flora that only the mayor ligaments were relevant to the game and therefore rated by it. That cleared her confusion, and she resumed work. After finishing, System gave the ligaments a satisfying SS rating.

The significant next step consisted of muscles and tendons. Again, there was a discrepancy between the number of muscles and tendons on the model and the avatar. Also, the model was less bulky than Flora expected. When Flora inspected the muscles around the hipbone, she was relatively sure that they were part of the female anatomy.

"System, do you rate the vaginal muscles?" Flora asked perplexed.

"Yes."

"They are relevant to the game mechanics?"

"Yes."

"So, how do you rate my ... nevermind, I don't want to know."

Flora got the current rating for all the muscles and tendons of her avatar. Unsurprisingly, it was again an E.

Then she experimented with the model. She requested from System the muscles with the best strength rating this bulked up the model significantly. Then she asked for the best endurance rating, and the projection changed to leaner muscles. She settled on a model with the best pound for pound power rating.

This time, she didn't just specify 'the best' but optimized her requests for each body part.

Robby has practiced martial arts since he was a preteen. So Flora attended a lot of competitions and martial arts gatherings. She noticed that the best fighters got strong wrists and hands. Flora needed the best fine motor skills for designing and optimized her hands for that. But she went full pound for pound strength on the wrist, arms, and legs. Her goal was not to look like she abused steroids, so she went with endurance on the neck and shoulders.

After pondering too long about her looks, she realized that she was too old for vanity and that she should go with the best. In the real world, you can argue about what is best, but System ruled this world. Therefore System was the best judge.

The resulting avatar V0.48 looked uncanny. Due to the thin papery skin, the muscles looked like hawsers under a bedsheet. But it felt great in the test. Flora couldn't remember when she ever had been in that much control of her movements.

Jumping Jacks, check!

Sit-ups, check!

Push-ups, check!

Push-ups on the fingertips, check!

She summarized the testing experience with two words: 'Smooth and powerful.'

In her youth, Flora enjoyed going for hikes in the mountains. There she admired the climbers who could hang on a crevice with one hand and leisurely eat a cheese toast with the other one. Maybe the virtual reality had some lovely mountains, and she could pick up climbing?

Flora would like to test pull-ups as well but lacked a bar. Suddenly she got an idea.

"System, please aggregate the best fitness equipment for pull-ups."

Two poles with a bar appeared.

'I'm so stupid.'

"System, please generate the best coach, the fluffiest blanket and most awesome titanium ingot."

The workspace rapidly filled up with the requested goods.

She grabbed the titanium and replaced the shin bone of her avatar with the metal.

"And?"

"Worse."

"Alright, maybe to much weight?" Now, she just added a layer of titanium.

"And?"

"Worse."

"System, please aggregate the best material to coat my bones with."

A silver-blue ingot appeared.

"So, what do we have here?" Flora inspected the metal, knocked on it, smelled it, and even licked it.

System explained that it was mithril and forced Flora to google additional information. She found out that mithril is a magical metal. It interfered less than other metals with magic and was even capable of being enchanted and storing magic. The interference of mithril was one operative value (OV) per 50 grams. That was pretty good compared to the other metals listed. Titanium was the worst with 10 OV per 10 grams, iron 5 OV, copper 4 OV per 10 grams. The precious metals fared better 5 OV for silver, 2 OV for platinum and only 1 OV per 25 grams for gold.

The website was helpful to Flora. She bookmarked it immediately.

It provided links to 'operative value' and 'level value'.

Level value: Number that can be raised through training and leveling up.

Operative value: Number that is calculated via a logarithmic function from the level value and modifiers. In nearly all game mechanics the OV is used.

Flora knew of logarithmic functions. They were the spoilsports of mathematics and produced diminishing returns. For example, if you learned an additional hour, you could raise your grade by one, from a D to C, if you want to increase the grade from C to B, you have to invest two additional hours, and from B to A maybe even 5 hours. For the same increment in benefits, you had to spend more and more.

On the website were even calculations on how the OV handicap influenced spells.

Magic missiles:

Basic damage: 10 DMG

Skill level value 100 LV -> skill operative value 30 OV

Magical power attribute level value 100 LV -> attribute operative value 30 OV

Metal handicap: 5 OV

DMG = basic DMG + skill OV + attribute OV - handicap OV

65 = 10 + 30 + 30 - 5

The spell magic missiles may hit for up to 65 damage.

(Without milestone bonus, placement, perks, control, and weapon damage)

'Alright, I summarize: OV robs the players' hard work, and metal handicap hurts magic. So should I use mithril at all?'

Flora decided yes. Why? Because it was free of charge!

'I find a way to scrub it of my bones if it sucks. Let's go less than 1 OV, 20 grams.' She went to work.

This time system approved of her using the metal as a protective layer coating for her parts of her head, collarbones, shoulder blades, sternum, elbows, knees, shins, forearms, and knuckles.

She noticed no change in the test, but hoped, that people who were stupid enough to hit her would feel the difference.

When she finished, a big blue box with white text obstructed her vision:

Notification: Exploit detected.
Please wait for the arrival of the Administrator.

The box vanished and was replaced by a guy with sunglasses, a shirt with "ADMIN" printed on the front and a suit with animated matrix-like blue data streams.

"Hello, Flora Fluss. I'm the Administrator."

Admins Jacket

 

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