9. Central Bank Robby
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Flora felt as if someone seized her nose and pulled her through a tornado by it. Before she could analyze what was happening, it was already over, and she found herself in a warehouse.

While she oriented herself, a blue box appeared:

You entered the scenario 'Central Bank Robbery'.

This scenario was not started by your party.

You may choose one quest option:

Option 1: Quest 'Join the CB robbery':

Join the main party and raid the Central Bank.

Difficulty: A

Possible rewards: Fame and fortune

Possible penalties: Reputation loss with CB, prison time

Option 2: Quest 'Law and Order CB':

Prevent the heist and apprehend the gangsters.

Difficulty: A

Possible rewards: Reputation gain with CB, Money

Possible penalties: Nothing, getting implicated in the Crime (see above)

'Oh, no, no, no, no, no! I want money from the bank but not like this. How can I exit?'

"BLEAMTO Central Bank TOBLEAM!"

"This zone doesn't support beaming."

"Exit scenario!"

Nothing happened.

"Abort mission!"

The doors of a black minivan opened and four people ran towards her. One even pointed a small gun at her. Flora held up her hands reflexively.

"What are you doing here?" the tallest of them, a black-haired guy with a Mediterranean complexion, yelled in a french accent.

"Well, it was an accident." Flora was out of her depth on how to explain the situation. Therefore she kept it simple. "A piano fell on my son."

"Let's shoot her!" a wiry guy yelled. His twitchy gun hand made Flora nervous.

"Don't be *bleep*ing stupid, *bleep*head!" hissed a blond woman with arching eyebrows. "When she respawns she will call the cops on us!"

"And whose fault is she ever landed here?" the twitchy guy interjected. "Didn't Chef tell you to change the scenario name to something unique?"

"Central Bank Robby instead of Central Bank Robbery is pretty unique!" Mrs. Bitchy snapped back.

Mr. Twitchy and Mrs. Bitchy had french accents aswell.

"I choose Option 2," Flora said. 'Because I must stop all Frenchman, I mean robbers, I must stop all robbers!'.

"What option two?" the tall one asked.

"You will let me go, of course!" Flora improvised. "I don't know your names, so I have nothing to tell the police. I don't even have a mobile to call them.'

"Can't you read?" the chubby fourth girl asked chewing gum. She pointed on her massive chest, where a badge was attached.

Flora focused on the badge.

Nickname: Bubble-Gum Bubble-Fairy
Level: 2
Class: Driver
Clan: StrikerDesHauteurs

"Oh, thanks, that's helpful." Then Flora checked the other badges, and the gang continued berating each other.

Mrs. Bitchy:

Nickname: Violoniste DeDestruction
Level: 3
Class: Robber
Clan: StrikerDesHauteurs

Mr. Twitchy:

Nickname: Couteau DeLHorreur
Level: 2
Class: Thief
Clan: StrikerDesHauteurs

Mr. Boss:

Nickname: Chef DesTénèbres
Level: 3
Class: Shock Trooper
Clan: StrikerDesHauteurs
Rating: A

Herself:

Real name: Flora Fluss
Nickname: Flowing Flowers
Level: 1
Class: none
Clan: none
Rating: F

'System, can you hear me?' Flora sent her thoughts out.

System to Flowing Flowers: "Yes."

Flowing Flowers to System: "Hide my real name, please."

Flora checked again. It had worked.

Flowing Flowers to System: "Please tell me how to exit the scenario."

System to Flowing Flowers: "You have expended your daily limit of system requests. Please raise your limit in the Cetviwos-Shop."

Flowing Flowers to System: "Are you kidding me?!?"

System to Flowing Flowers: "No."

"Stop that clamor!" Chef said, interrupting his colleagues. "We take her with us."

In no time Flora's hands and feet were bound, and Mr. Twitchy threw her with great effort into the back area of the van. Mr. Chef and Bubble Fairy took the front seats, and Mr. Twitchy and Mrs. Bitchy joined her in the back.

Flora was disgusted by their amateurishness. They used shoelaces as bonds, and it would be much easier to let her enter the van by herself and then shackle her. She did not doubt that her 36 LV strength could win against the thin laces. Furthermore, she had a blowtorch in her inventory. 'I just need an opportunity.'

Carefully, she memorized the location of her adversaries. Mrs. Bitchy sat to her right on the floor, leaning against the van and playing with a handheld device. Mr. Twitchy starred at her from the left whirling the gun in his fingers. He had abysmal control and regularly dropped it, which prompted courses from Mrs. Bitchy. In the front seats, Bubble Fairy and Chef discussed something about escape routes.

Suddenly a blue box appeared.

RadGlory Flow invites you to his party.
Do you want to join?
(Y/N)

'That unfilial son of mine wants to throw a party when his mother gets abducted? Does he want to toast to my misfortune? What have I done wrong?!?' Flora furiously declined the invitation. The box vanished, but a second later, it reappeared.

RadGlory Flow invites you to his party.
Do you want to join?
(Y/N)

Flora forced herself to cool down because Mr. Twitchy had noticed her agitation and pointed his gun at her again.

'Maybe it's a rescue party? I should give my son a chance to explain himself.' This time she chose 'Yes'.

RadGlory Flow to Party: "Don't say anything out loud, Ma! Just think very hard with the intention to broadcast it to the party."

Flowing Flowers to Party: "I don't know if I want to speak to you at the moment, let alone think to you!"

RadGlory Flow to Party: "It's all Hub's fault!"

RadBear Stone to Party: "Sorry, Auntie Flo! But the falling piano was kind of funny, right? Would you have preferred an anvil?"

Flowing Flowers to Party: "Okay, the prank was amusing, but why do you want to throw a party of all things? Please tell me how I can beam away instead of celebrating my bad luck!"

The chat was silent, but Flora could hear muffled laughter outside. She started coughing to cover it up. 'Imbeciles surround me! The Chef-guy seams to be the only half-competent person.'

"*Bleep*! There's someone else in the warehouse!" Chef said and left the car in a hurry. "Guard the captive! Bubble, and I will check the surroundings."

Mrs. Bitchy stood up to look through the window at the tailgate, which meant that her back was turned to Flora.

'That's my chance!'

Flora focussed on Mr. Twitchy's gun and fetched it via telekinesis. She sprang up, ripping her bonds and aimed for Mrs. Bitchy's head with the butt of the weapon. The woman heard her and turned, but Flora still managed to hit the side of the head, which turned out to be enough to drop her.

Mr. Twitchy had sprung up as well and lunged at Flora. This caused her to panic. She couldn't commit to shooting a human and froze. Fortunately, her instincts took up the slack, and as soon as Mr. Twitchy was in reach, she headbutted him. Mithril reinforced bones meet normal bones and the former won.

Flora took a step back. Her head was spinning from the rapid events and possibly the headbutt. She frantically watched the two downed robbers. As soon as one of them tried to move, she smashed their heads with the gun again.

Now she noticed fighting sounds from outside. Of course, she wanted to rescue her son and maybe Hub from Mr. Chef and the Bubble Fairy but thought it would help them more if she prevented her two robbers joining the fight by keeping an eye and a gun on them.

Flowing Flowers to Party: "Are you alright, darling?"

RadGlory Flow to Party: "You are asking ME? Of course, I am, what about you?!?"

When Robby answered her, adrenalin drained away, and she realized that she was not okay.

The tailgate opened, and Robby looked into the van. Immediately she rushed in his arms and started sobbing.

"It was so horrible, sweety. I nearly shot them! I'm not a violent person! And I DID smash their heads!"

"It's fine, Ma. It's just a game. They can do nothing to harm you!" He padded her back.

"I'm not speaking about them hurting me! What do I care about some Frenchman, I mean criminals!" After letting Robby go, she looked him in the eyes. "I'm a Killer! I did this and this and then this ..." She reenacted the fight by swishing her arms and head. "And then they dropped! But I didn't stop!"

"Ma ..."

"I've got killing instincts!"

"Ma."

"Am I a danger to society?"

"Ma!"

"Video games lead to violence! I experienced it myself! We have to stop playing! We have to go out and plug some flowers and sing happy songs! No, that kills the flowers! We have to plant some trees, and you have to sire kids to compensate for all the killing!"

Robby facepalmed. "I need some help here, Hub!"

The chubby blond knight had rounded up the robbers and shackled them to the bumper. "I'm doing all the work, why do you think that you are the one needing assistance! But, sure, you're my best bro, I will always help you! So how can I lend you a hand?"

"Help me placate my mother!"

"Oh, sorry, I'm busy." Hub smiled apologetically and turned around fast to recheck the bonds.

Robby saw that his mother was lost in her thoughts and called the police. Flora used this time to get a grip on her emotions and was ready to ask Robby about the party.

He explained to her that a party was a group of players. In parties, their area of effect skills did not hurt the other members, they could locate each other on the map, and they could communicate telepathically. If your not in a group you could only message players directly when you were friends with them. By bumping the badges, you became friends. Of course, Flora, Robby, and Hub took off their badges and knocked them together.

"Do you want to befriend RadGlory Flow?
Which level of friendship do you want to have:
1 - light - Features: messaging
2 - regular - Features: messaging, telepathic messaging and priority messaging
3 - tight - Features: the above and locating."

Without a second thought, Flora chose option 3. Then she looked at Robby threateningly. 'You better make the right decision, bucko.'

Their identical gazes meet, and they grinned.

Nickname: RadGlor Flow
Level: 5 (208)
Class: Martial Monk
Clan: Riverstones
Active Title: The Righteous
Rating: S
Dungeon Rating: S
Relationship Friends 3

Nickname: RadBear Stone
Level: 5 (207)
Class: Radiant Paladin
Clan: Riverstones
Active Title: The Righteous
Rating: S
Dungeon Rating: S
Relationship: Friends 3

The Badge Crash-Course continued. They showed Flora how to use it for communication, how to set her title to active and explained what the public information meant.

Level: The value in the braces was the real level of the player. The maximal level of the zone capped the first level value.

Class: A class is something like a profession. You can gain them the easiest in the Cradle world. You can have as many as you want, but only one active class. Hub recommended that Flora researched this topic in the forums because it was a broad field including hidden classes, specialized classes, legacy classes, and the hierarchical order of them.

Clan: Likeminded individuals banding together for a common goal. Riverstones was a clan but at the same time a part of the security company of Robert and Hubert.

Rating: This value is aggregated from the five best subjects someone has. The display and rating feature in total could be disabled because many people hated to be judged on "every fart they let fly," as Hub phrased it.

Dungeon Rating: One of the subjects people were rated and a point of pride to professional gamers. Many pick up groups only accepted people with a rating close to their own.

Flora's head spun from all the information and questions she had. It was a long day, and no end was in sight, so she refrained from asking.

Finally, the cops came. A mage in a robe fashioned like a police uniform confirmed the attempted robbery and abduction via truth detection magic and Flora completed her first quest.

Quest 'Law and Order CB': Prevent the heist and apprehend the gangsters.
Difficulty: D
Completion: A
Rewards: + 8 reputation gain with Central Bank
+ 333 VirDos

"So what is happening to the Robbers?" asked Flora while watching the sorry looking bunch getting taken away by the cops.

"A day or so in prison. Just enough time to leave the game and catch up on real life. Loosing the 1000 VirDias, they paid for the scenario angers them more, probably." Robby shrugged. "What about you? Do you want to leave the game, Killer-Mama?"

"No. The key to handling primal instincts is not to suppress them, but to control them." Flora said righteously. "I will learn to control my killer instincts and use them for the betterment of the world!"

"Um, yeah, groovy, Ma." Robby sighted. "We exit the scenario and then go to the bank. Hub will demonstrate it for you."

"EXITTO Metaworld TOEXIT" Hub said and vanished.

"Very wise, letting him go first."

 

New companion Vid "Welcome to the Metaworld": https://youtu.be/HV7F5cCYm2M

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