Mike caught the goblinoids completely by surprise.
Crashing into them from the rear, he’d killed three of them before they even realized he was there.
Laying about with his ax, no skill was required, just repetitive swinging motions, like chopping wood. Limbs flew, heads split and goblins died.
In the craziness of the melee Mike didn’t even notice Nikki and Radio had joined in the slaughter until a goblin off to his left sprouted an arrow from the throat.
Momentarily distracted he watched as the scrawny creature reached up with its comically over-sized hands to clutch at its throat. Gurgling its last breath it collapsed to its knees.
The scene was so utterly human Mike felt a moment of pity.
It was gone in the next moment as the contents of the goblin’s necklace drew his attention.
The little bastard had been collecting human ears.
Mike felt his rage boil over in an instant.
Howling in anger, he waded into the goblin horde. All thoughts of playing it safe at the edges, and not getting surrounded, were replaced with the urge to slaughter them all.
Abandoning the efficient wood chopping technique he’d been so casually employing he struck out with ax, fist, elbow, knee and foot. He became a veritable meat grinder as his superior strength and speed tore deep into the horde.
Ignoring a system notification of a level up, he continued, deeper and deeper into their ranks.
At some point, even through the rage Mike, realized that something was wrong.
Their numbers were off.
Radio had said something about thirty.
He’d killed at least that many, but their numbers hadn’t thinned.
Either Radio had lied, or the little bastards had deliberately laid a trap for them.
Neither possibility was acceptable.
If Radio had lied, even though it was undoubtedly with the intention of saving people, it meant he’d misled his own team. He’d brought them into a dangerous situation with the wrong information. It wasn’t the kind of thing Mike would be able to forgive. He wouldn’t kill Radio over it, but he would kick him off the team, his sob story be damned.
He really hoped Radio hadn’t been so naive as to say a lower number to influence his decision on whether they should help or not.
But then the other option was considerably worse for their future.
It meant the goblins were intelligent.
They were weak individually, only about three to four foot tall with scrawny bodies, overlarge hands, nose and feet, and floppy bat wing ears. One on one against a zombie, Mike would bet on the goblin, but only just barely.
The zombies were arguably stronger, but the goblins used weapons like spears and short swords.
If they also set traps, things were serious. Even as weak as they were, with enough numbers they could overwhelm just about any group. That wasn’t the really scary thing though. The scary thing was, if they were smart enough to set traps, they were smart enough to figure out where the compound was.
Zombies would never get in without a major screw up on the part of Wilson’s people.
The goblins would just have to be persistent.
And it got worse. If such a low level monster was capable of such cunning, what about the higher level ones? Did they really have any chance of keeping the compound safe?
Mike knew if he survived the current battle, and kept his impulsive actions in check in the future, he’d likely survive. It might not be a good life, but he could keep himself alive. He knew how to cook, and hunt, he could dismantle his pray to use all the parts, and the system would steadily make him stronger.
He vastly preferred a world where he had a place to fall back to, maybe even call home.
Killing while his mind spun out of control was a unique experience for Mike. He found it both interesting and terrifying. His body maintained its destructive rhythm like it was running a program while his mind was almost completely occupied.
Against a strong enemy it would have been suicide.
Against the goblins, the problem was keeping up the rate of death, and for that, Mike’s autopilot was more than enough.
Still he was more than a little glad, when Radio finally shouted, “Mike, fire in the hole.”
Then a few seconds later Radio belatedly added, “To your left,” at almost the same time an explosion went off six feet from him, sending him sprawling onto concrete, and covering him with bits of goblin viscera.
After the dozens of them Mike had killed, the grenade was too much, and the goblins finally broke.
Standing up Mike dusted himself off. Wiping his ax on a a dead goblin’s hemp vest, he looked up to see a furious Nikki stomping over towards him.
He rolled his eyes even before she started in on her lecture. Then cutting her off mid sentence Mike asked, “Where did you see the people fighting them, kid?”
Already having scanned the entire area, Mike saw signs someone had been fighting, he just didn’t actually see them anywhere. There were no human corpses either indicating they were too late.
Nikki wasn’t happy with being ignored but she put up with it. Looking around she spotted a trail of blood leading through a set of double doors. Mike felt a bit embarrassed to realize he’d looked right at the trail no less than three times without connecting the dots.
Clearing his throat he said, “Alright, let’s head in, keep your weapons out, your eyes open, and nobody do anything stupid.”
“Like you should be the one telling us that,” Nikki muttered, just loud enough for Mike to hear but not acknowledge.
She had a point and he knew it. He’d let his sudden anger take control. It would have been no one’s fault but his if the grenade had failed to send the goblins running.
The goblins really were weak, that didn’t mean when they stabbed him he wouldn’t bleed. Enough weak goblins stabbing him, and even with his lesser regeneration, strong body, and cultivation level, he would have died.
They followed the trail down a hallway in the employee section of the hotel till it hit an intersection and disappeared. Confused for a moment Mike remembered his tracking skill and feeling like and idiot he activated it.
The skill told let him know the reason the trail abruptly ended was the one who’d made it had backtracked. Using Mike’s skill it wasn’t long until they found the person they were looking for.
He’d managed to prop himself up on the steps of a stairway leading down into the hotel’s basement.
He was a tall, thin man dressed in the tattered rags of what had likely been a hotel uniform. A name tag hung from his left breast pocket, proudly proclaiming him as one:
Loosely gripping a broken rapier, a sword that looked like it actually came from the renaissance era not a fencing foil, he dropped it as he struggled to move. With the ring of metal on stone it clattered to down the steps.
From the amount of blood they’d seen on the ground, Mike had known he would be in bad shape when they found him. But he’d been hoping poor Gregory had a healing skill or a bloodline that made it so blood loss didn’t matter.
One look was enough to tell neither was true. The man was dying, it was a miracle he’d lived as long as he had considering his body was a patchwork of cuts and puncture wounds.
Seeing them Gregory’s mouth started to move. It was obvious he was saying something. Mike knelt by his side, leaning in.
“Protect them for me.”
The words were quiet, but clear as day.
Immediately Mike asked, “where are they?”
But it was too late, his message delivered, Gregory had let go. He was gone.
At a momentary loss, Mike inexplicably felt tears staining the corners of his eyes.
Here lies a true man, he thought to himself as he brushed the tears away. He faked sneezing to cover the action and his image.
Then turning he said, “He was protecting someone. We have to find them.”
A handful of minutes later they did.
Behind the splintered door of a storage room, down the same basement stairs Gergory had come back to guard, they found the bodies.
Mike couldn’t tell what had killed them. He couldn’t even tell how many of them had been in the room. There was just a large hole in the middle of the floor, and blood everywhere.
“Radio. Take a good look, then report everything it to HQ.” Mike said, then turning, he left Nikki and Radio standing there in silence.
Searching room by room, Mike went through the entire hotel building.
He broke down doors, checked in closets, he even opened all the stall doors in the public restroom on the ground floor.
He didn’t find a single survivor.
Everyone was dead.
Impotent rage washing over him in waves, for the first time Mike felt a driving need to end the system. Risks would have to be taken. He couldn’t defeat the system while worrying about his own life. But for some reason, that didn’t feel like it mattered.
Mike refused to be another Gregory, endlessly fighting until he was overwhelmed. Dying while achieving nothing. He would end the system in the city. He would accomplish something. Even if it really did cost him his life.
Had he been more rational, Mike might have stopped to consider that he didn’t have to do everything alone. He could slowly build a group to take down the system. It wasn’t all on his shoulders.
But Mike wasn’t rational in that moment, he was only resolved.
This is our first official sponsored chapter of SWRPG. (*steve’s site) Thank you everyone for your donations. They meant a lot. As a side note, I simplified the donations section into text. I think it looks better, hopefully you guys agree. I also changed my Patreonquite a bit. The rewards are simplified, and the goals more evenly spaced. It’s probably not worth checking out if you’ve been before.
Now I have a question for you all. It has been mentioned to me several times that the chapters feel too short. This is obviously because I’m rushing to get them out and am “thinking short” so to speak.
So the question is, would you guys prefer if I cut back on the amount of chapters in favor of longer ones? This would mean one maybe two chapters a week instead of five, but the experience each time should be more enjoyable. Let me know in the comments please.
Author : The Steve