The Name of the Game
a RWBY/The Gamer crossover, SI.
Arc 1: New Game +
Chapter 1: Welcome to the World (of Remnant)
'Why do I smell a hospital?'
My first thought on waking was that where ever I was smelled like antiseptic and sick people—opening my eyes confirmed my suspicion. Currently, I shared a small hospital room with one other person—blonde, female, probably in her mid-twenties if I had to guess. The girl sat sleeping in a chair at my bedside, dressed in what looked to my eyes like some sort of cosplay—very, very high quality cosplay. She was tall, or would be when she stood, and wore armored greaves, bracers, spaulders, gauntlets, and a breast plate—in addition to a metal head piece of some sort. However, under the armor, were fairly normal street clothes one would expect on a girl her age—jeans, a white hoodie, high-heeled leather boots, and a belt. What was most out of place, however, was the text hovering over her head.
The Eldest Deadly Sister
My eyes darted back and forth between the words, her face, and her armor several times.
I froze, eyes going wide as they tracked a sudden obstruction of my view of the girl. The obstruction in question was a box—blue, semi-transparent, with white text.
[Alert: A skill has been created through a special action! Observing someone or something for a prolonged period has created the skill Observe!]
I stared. When it refused to go away, I found the [X] in the upper right hand corner of the window and tapped it. Immediately, another box popped up under the first.
[Observe: Level 1. Active. Through continuous observation, a skill to observe objects, situations, and persons was generated allowing the user to quickly gather information. The higher the skill, the greater the data obtained.]
Narrowing my eyes, I tapped the close button again and turned my gaze away from Miss Arc. Closing my eyes, I focused inward to think. 'Okay. So. What do we know? Firstly: I'm in a hospital. Secondly: there's a cute cosplayer I don't recognize in my room. Thirdly…'
[Alert: A skill has been created through a special action! By turning your focus inward, you have created the skill Meditate!]
[Meditate: Level 1. Active. Through continuous inner focus, a skill to sharpen focus, order thoughts, and increase clarity of mind and awareness of body was created. Passive effect: increases VIT, INT, WIS by 20%. Active effect: while meditating, increase HP and MP regeneration rate by 100%.]
Sighing quietly, I reached out and closed the boxes before returning to my… meditation.
[Meditation's skill level has increased by 1!]
'Oh for fuck sake! I get it, okay?! Thirdly: somehow, some way, against everything I understand of science, my life has become a video game. There, are you happy?' I fumed. 'Now, the questions I sorely need answered: Where am I, why am I here, what the hell happened, and what next?'
[A quest has been created!]
[Not in Kansas: Gather Information!]
[You've woken to find yourself in a strange place, surrounded by stranger people—it's happened to everyone at least once, but probably not like this. Investigate your surroundings for clues!]
[Reward: 1000 EXP, answers, quest continuation. Failure: confusion, frustration, quest continuation.]
Rolling my eyes, I tapped the button marked 'Accept' and looked around the room. Immediately, my eyes caught sight of a device in the upper left corner of the room. It looked absolutely nothing like a television, and yet there was a screen broadcasting imagery from somewhere with a person apparently giving some sort of news report. Noticing the sound seemed to be off, I cast around for a remote before finding a box labeled with channel and volume controls hard wired to the bed. Adjusting the volume, I began listening to the report, before an idea occurred. Looking at the girl to my right and making sure she was still asleep, I turned my attention back to the television thing before whispering, "Observe."
[Telescreen. A two-way communication device similar to a television. This model appears to be set to receive only.]
Closing the information window, I strained to make out the man's words without waking the other occupant of my room.
[Alert: A skill has been created through a special action! By trying to focus on a source of sound, you have created the skill Listen!]
[Listen: Level 1. Active. Through focusing on sounds, a skill to pick up distant or quiet sounds, or specific sounds out of a crowd was created. Passive effect: increases basic listening by 50%. Active effect: increases range and clarity of listening by 150%.]
"That's going to get real annoying, real fast," I decided. A quiet snort from the girl drew my gaze, before she sat up slowly and opened her eyes. Bright blue eyes set in a heart shaped face locked with mine and I knew I wouldn't be able to say no to this woman.
"You're awake." Her voice was soft, either from just having woken or natural inclination, I couldn't tell.
[Quest Not in Kansas: Gather Information, failure! You did not gain enough new information from your surroundings to determine where you are beyond what you had already deduced!]
[A new quest has been created!]
[Not in Kansas: Pumping Miss Arc for Information (as opposed to fun)!]
[Now that the Eldest Deadly Sister has awoken, perhaps you can get some answers from a human source? Why don't you try asking?]
[Reward: 1000 EXP, answers, quest continuation, increased closeness with Joan Arc. Failure: frustration, decreased closeness to Joan Arc, quest continuation.]
"Jaune, are you okay?" she asked, standing from her seat and moving to turn on the room's lights.
"Peachy," I grumbled, closing windows and suppressing the desire to murder someone.
The lights clicked on and she turned around in time to see me finish a final, vicious stab at the last window. Frowning, she stepped up to the bedside and put a cool hand against my forehead—her hand was calloused, I noticed, but still soft and smooth. "No fever. You look fine, but..."
I shook my head. "I'm not fine." Seeing her worried expression, I gestured for her to sit back down while I sat up. Thankfully, I wasn't clothed in one of those asinine hospital gowns. Unfortunately, I was clothed in some sort of blue onesie. Frowning at the outfit, I put it aside for the moment to focus on more important matters. "Where are we and why am I here?"
"You don't remember?" she asked, growing visibly more worried. "You went out on your own into the forest to train and some grimm attacked…"
"Wait. What." I blinked. Joan Arc. The name didn't ring any bells, but Jaune Arc did—and so did grimm. I had thought she somehow knew me, my name being John, but no… Turns out, she knew 'Jaune,' and not 'John.' I would have dismissed it as impossibility except, well, video game interface staring me in the face. "Grimm?" I asked, to be sure.
"Yes. You were attacked by a couple of Beowolves."
'Oh. Hell. I know where I am.' Palming my face, I quietly asked, "And I got hurt bad enough for a trip to the hospital?"
Joan nodded. "Jun found you and dragged you back herself."
"Who's Jun?" I asked, confused. Like Joan, I'd never heard the name. I hoped I was wrong, but 'Grimm' and 'beowolves' were pretty distinct. Not to mention, now that I was aware of it, I realized I recognized the onesie. It was from a web series created by a man who had died earlier in the year… I had only seen the first two seasons and had been waiting for all of volume three to be released before watching it, but to my knowledge Jaune Arc had never been injured by grimm, at least not bad enough for a trip to a hospital. What I did know about Jaune was that he had seven sisters… ''Seven Deadly Sisters' is not just some bad pun, then. But it seems they don't follow the color naming rule. With names like 'Joan,' and 'Jaune,' and 'Jun' there is a pattern... Wait. Did this thing imply boinking Jaune's sister?'
The blonde blinked, before all expression left her face. "Jaune, who made you that onesie?"
I blinked, looking down to take in the monstrosity as I was pulled from my thoughts, before looking back up at the young woman now wearing a stony expression. I honestly had no idea. "You?"
The expression cracked and she sighed, seemingly collapsing in her chair. "How much don't you remember?"
Shit. I was caught. Well, I didn't really expect to be able to fool someone who knew Jaune for more than a few minutes. I had a few options at this point, however. Option one: come clean and tell the truth—that instead of this girl's brother, she's been talking to a thirty year old man this entire time. Yeah, like she'd buy that—and if she did, odds didn't look good for what happened to me. After all, my personality and memories had somehow displaced those of her younger brother—that was not a friendly resolution waiting to happen. In fact, considering my video game themed circumstances, it screamed Bad End all the way around.
Option two: roll for bullshit and lie my ass off. She'd already supplied me with an opening, so I might just be able to pull off the 'amnesia' card. I couldn't just come right out and suggest retrograde amnesia, however. "Honestly?" I asked, and she nodded. "It's hard to say. I honestly don't know who I am, let alone who you or Jun are. I'm sorry."
Joan shook her head before standing up and heading for a phone mounted on the wall near the door. "It's okay, Jaune. I'm going to call the doctor back and we'll fix this, I promise."
[Alert: A skill has been created through a special action! By successfully lying to Jaune's sister, you have created the skill Bluff!]
[Bluff: Level 1. Active. Through the act of lying, a skill for the creative use of mistruth and misdirection was created. Active effect: increases likelihood of deceiving others, either through words or actions.]
[Bluff's level has increased by 1!]
"Jaune? Why are you punching at the air?" Joan asked, and I sighed before gesturing towards the remaining box.
I honestly felt bad lying to her, but I couldn't just tell her that as far as I knew the brother she knew was dead. This, however, I could answer truthfully. Besides, it would distract her from the whole 'amnesia' thing and likely lend credence to it by heaping strangeness atop strangeness. "You can't see that, can you?"
Sending me a confused look, the young woman shook her head. "See what? That's not the first time I've seen you do that since you woke up, either."
Observant little thing, she was. I nodded before tracing the outline of the window with my finger. "Ever play video games? I have a confirmation dialogue right here."
Joan frowned. "You remember video games, but you don't remember your family? How does that work?"
"Weird, right?" I asked, before tapping the button to close the window. "I've been getting notifications since I woke up about skills and such."
Biting her lip, Joan sent me a conflicted look. "Jaune, I would like to believe you, but without some kind of proof..."
"Okay," I nodded, thinking it over. If my life was like a video game now, then some basic commands were universal. The observe skill had worked by voice command, so I figured most other things would as well—especially since the alert windows refused to close unless I actively reached out and touched them. "Bag?" Nothing. "Inventory?" A window opened showing a scale model of what I assumed to be my body, surrounded by several individual boxes. The body itself showed 'me' in my current state of dress—or, rather, displayed Jaune Arc wearing his onesie. Below that were rows of more boxes. 'If I were an obnoxious game designer with an emphasis on tactile interface use, how would I force the user to use this? Ah!'
Grabbing my pillow, I picked it up and pushed it at the window. The moment the pillow made contact with the window's surface, the window rippled like water and Joan's eyes went wide. Clearly, she could see that. Pushing the pillow the rest of the way in, I let go and was unsurprised to find that there was now an icon in the first box at the bottom of the screen in the shape of a pillow. Tapping it, a small window popped up.
[Pillow: a plain white cotton pillow. It is over-starched and scratchy. L5.]
"What does 'L5' mean?"
"Five lien," Joan muttered, moving so she could look over my shoulder. Seeing nothing, she waved her hand through the air she where had last seen the pillow disappear, to no effect. "Where did it go? Into your… inventory?"
I nodded. "Yeah." Reaching in, I retrieved the pillow and put it back where I'd gotten it from. "Believe me now?"
Joan leaning closer and wrapping an arm around me to pull me into a hug was not what I had expected—nice though it was, aside from the armor bits. "I do. It seems you've awakened your Semblance."
I knew what a Semblance was, but for the sake of supporting my alibi I asked, "My what now?"
[Bluff's level has increased by 1!]
I dismissed the box as Joan answered. "A Semblance is a manifestation of a Hunter's innate power, unique to the individual—in most cases, at least. Its nature tends to reflect something of your character… Hmm."
"What?" I asked, recognizing the considering tone. She had either figured something out or made some leap of logic.
Joan proved me right with her answer. "The Jaune I know… Jaune was driven, absolutely determined to follow in our footsteps and become a Hunter. Our parents, they just wanted a normal life for you—to the point that they refused to train you, and forbid us to either. When you continued trying, I remember them saying that if you did it on your own not only would you have earned the right to decide for yourself, but you would have earned their blessing. It's why they never unlocked your aura, either. You are the only son, and they didn't want to risk you..."
"Yes," Joan nodded. "Aura is… the light of our souls. It fuels a Hunter's abilities, including their Semblance. Generally, one's aura is unlocked one of three ways: either through rigorous training, if someone else unlocks it for you, or when your life is in danger. Unlocking someone's aura is a very… intimate act, so teachers at the academy tend not to do so—likewise, you have to possess a minimum level of control over your own aura and a fairly large aura capacity before you can unlock someone else's and a willingness to share that intimacy with them, which is why you don't see many academy students unlocking each others' auras."
"So you're saying I took the third route, intentionally or not?" It wouldn't surprise me. What did surprise me was that little revelation over just how intimate unlocking someone else's aura was supposed to be. It shed new light on Pyrrha volunteering to unlock Jaune's. Well, I supposed that would make the shippers happy. 'Wait. Wait a damn minute. Pyrrha has—will have?—a crush on Jaune. I'm Jaune now. Ah, crap. Moral dilemmas abound.'
[Wisdom score has increased by 1!]
"So it would appear," Joan agreed, before asking, "More pop-ups?"
"Mm," I hummed agreement, before a thought occurred. 'Universal commands are universal…' Running through my options, I picked the one that might just tell me the most. "I'm going to try something. Character? No. Stats? Ah ha!"
[Name: J̤͇̹͇͈̃̓ͧ̓̑ah̻͈̼̝͇̝̜ͮ̿ne Ao̤͚͉̺͖̚cĺͤ̓͋ͯ̒̀ȋ̦͙̤̥̞͋ͨ̌ͯ̒g̼͉͇̮͛h̜̪̬̣̖ͥͣ͋͂t͊͗͏̣̫̟ͅ]
[Class: The Gamer]
[Title: Tͨ͗̆͘҉̻͚́h̤̬̔̔ͨ̐̓e̤̠̰̝̠̳͛ͤ͘ͅ ͉̜̤͚̱͕̆͜͝O͋̍ͥ͒̑͆͒̃͡҉̗̙̯͇͍̲̬̗́u̠̣̠̫̗̠̹̘̔ͪ̅̎͐̌́t̷̪̰̬̟̺͍̜̼̉̒s̤̰͐̂̀̕ï̷͈̜̤̆̿͂͢ḏ̬̫̼͈̩͇̱͑ͧ͘͝͠ẻ̩̥̹ͤ͐ͫ̏͛̚r̸͈͙̘̣͛̈̀ (lvl MAX)]
[Semblance: The Gamer]
[INT: 10 (52)+]
[WIS: 11 (40.3)+]
[CHA: 10 (26)+]
[Money: 0 Lien]
"Ow, my brain," I winced. I tried to focus again on my name or the title, and earned another icepick to my brain for my trouble. Brushing that off as an impossibility at the moment, I focused on my scores. Somehow, I had something modifying my intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores if I was reading that correctly. Tapping one of the + icons beside the highest produced detailed results.
[INT: 10 (52): ((10 + 30) + 30%) -]
So, where were the extra points and the bonus percentage coming from? Well, most bonuses tend to come from skills, either active or passive, so the obvious answer would be… "Skills."
[Gamer's Mind (passive) lvl MAX: Allows the user to calmly and logically think things through. Grants a peaceful state of mind. Grants immunity to psychological status effects.]
[Gamer's Body (passive) lvl MAX: Grants a body that allows for the user to live the real world like a game.]
[Outsider's Perspective (passive) lvl MAX: As an outsider to the world of Remnant, you see and understand things differently than the natives. Grants the title 'The Outsider' and allows the importing of skills, levels, and stats from your previous save data.]
Skimming through the skills, I paused on the last one before rereading it twice to make sure I had understood it. ''Previous save data' my ass. That's my life you're talking about!'
"Find anything interesting?" Joan asked, bringing me back to the here and now.
"Yeah," I groused, closing the Skills window. I was thus surprised to see that the mess that had been where my Title was had resolved itself into 'The Outsider.' My name still hurt my brain to look at, but I could ignore it. Tapping the title brought up details.
[The Outsider: Grants a 30% passive bonus to INT, WIS, and CHA due to experience gained in a previous save. Grants the use of knowledge beyond the world of Remnant.]
"Basically, I have a couple of skills that say, essentially, 'you behave like a video game character.' 'Gamer's body,' would basically mean that like a video game character, I don't take permanent damage. Instead, I have health points or hit points and if I take damage, that number drops. It likely also means I can probably fully heal overnight so long as my HP isn't reduced to zero," I began, only for Joan to interrupt.
"In which case, you die," she pointed out, and I held out a hand and waved it back and forth in a so-so gesture.
"I don't want to test that theory, but maybe." I didn't want to go into details, but that would really depend on the rules this thing was operating by. Most RPGs went by the rule that if your HP hits 0, you die. Other games, like Dungeons and Dragons, went by different rules however—by those rules, in order to die my HP would have to hit -10. Distinguishing between those rule sets wouldn't normally be an issue—you can look at them and tell them difference, just by looking at something as simple as a character sheet or stats page. However, my stats page was different.
Normally, games with a luck score don't also have a charisma score, and vice verse. To have both… well, it opened up possibilities. For instance, in most RPGs—especially the MMORPG variety—you don't generally get the option to lie, steal, bluff or have any real dialogue options effected by your stats, exceptions like Dragon Age notwithstanding. D&D however, was all dialogue and had very little in the way of being able to directly effect your luck—the dice rolled as they may, and made or broke a character. Realistically, it told me that not only could my stats change things about myself, but they could manipulate others, or at least their reactions to me—and if the luck score was anything to go by, possibly causality itself. Not something I wanted to screw with on a good day, so I wouldn't be changing that.
Besides, luck was about the most useless stat to dump points into, in any game, ever. Depending on what sort of character and class a person wanted to roll, they would dump points into the important stats for their class and put a few into others for flavor or to meet prerequisites. For instance, a fighter would want his points in STR and VIT primarily, with INT or DEX as a high-priority second depending on the genre and the rules—an MMO character would want those points in DEX for crit rate while a D&D character would want them in INT, for access to more skills. A rogue rolled primarily off of DEX, with INT and either VIT or CHA as high second choices depending on play style. A skill-whore rogue—that is, a rogue made specifically for a wide range of skills—would want the points in INT, while a silver tongued rogue would want them in CHA, and a survival rogue would want them in VIT.
My stats, however, already leaned towards some sort of magic build—with my bonuses, depending on the rules of the game, I could potentially do some serious damage. With INT as the highest, if I were going by MMORPG rules, then I would be a high damage mage likely with lots of spells and skills to choose from—depending on whether or not skill books existed, or I could create my own skills. Given the fact that new abilities kept just popping up, I was leaning heavily towards being able to create my own skills. A high WIS meant I would likely have a high regen for mana, and somewhere between those two I should have a high defense against magic. The charisma, however, gave me ideas. If it wasn't for use like a sorcerer in D&D, then it was for use as a rogue—lying, cheating, and stealing. I was okay with that, to be honest—my preferred play style was either rogue or mage, or some combination of the two if at all possible.
"You said 'a couple' of skills? What were the others?" Joan asked, effectively regaining my attention.
"'Gamer's mind,' which basically says I'm immune to mental effects—mind control, fear effects, confusion and the like. Also, it allows me to calmly think things through instead of panicking."
Joan hummed, and while I couldn't see it, I could hear the frown. "Wouldn't all mental effects include things that tampered with your memory?"
I shrugged. "Maybe. You said I was injured. Maybe something got knocked loose?" She raised a finger to make a point and I shook my head. "I know, Gamer's Body should have corrected it if it was physical."
"Well, I suppose..." Joan began, only for a knock at the door to cut her off.
The door opened and a woman in a lab coat walked in, sending us a smile. "Mr. Arc, it's good to see you're awake and doing much better, I'm Healer White and I'll be overseeing your care. Ms. Arc, you said there was a problem?"
Joan mussed my hair before slipping off the bed. "I'll be right back, okay kiddo?" she asked, taking the healer by the sleeve and leading her outside.
Attempting to hear them through the door, I felt my Listen skill activate—which brought a small sigh of relief from me. It seemed that some common sense skills could be triggered by the act of doing them, as opposed to having to voice-activate everything. If you were trying to sneak around or listen, for instance, you wouldn't want to announce your presence by having to vocalize those acts. Outside, Joan began to detail my condition to Healer White and I split my attention between that and going over my stats in an effort to break them down.
"He says he doesn't remember anything..." The worry was back in Jaune's sister's voice, leaving me feeling like an absolute heel, but there wasn't anything I could do. How the hell was I supposed to give up this kid's body and go back to… where ever I had come from. Where had I come from, come to think of it? I mean, sure, I remember growing up in the country-side, learning skills, going to school, but… but no one really stood out. I couldn't tell you the names of any of my former classmates if I tried. I mean, sure, I graduated high school more than a decade ago, but the same thing applied to the people I had met in college as well—everyone sort of blurred into one person. Frowning, I tried for more recent stuff. I'd had a few girlfriends, even a fiancee at one point, but memories that I remembered being clear and distinct to the point of being near-photographic simply weren't any more. I could remember things we did, but I couldn't remember their faces, or the way they smelled or tasted…
'Well, maybe this Gamer power decided not to make a liar out of me,' I mused. I'd had a family, parents, a younger brother, a nephew and niece… but I couldn't even remember their names. Worse, I knew I should feel terrible about that—sad, angry, even terrified that something was screwing with my head… But I didn't, and that made it so much worse in a way. I could see the horror, the threat mental manipulation at that level posed, but I just didn't care. It didn't matter, somehow. I was here now, and neither the how nor why nor the things I left behind truly mattered. All that mattered was that I was here, occupying the body of a teenage boy in a world that had been make believe for me just the day before—a world full of heroes, and monsters, both of the supernatural and the human variety. 'Fuck it. I'm here now, and whatever I left behind couldn't have been too important if I can't even remember most of it. There are things that need doing here and now, and with what I know—even as hazy as it is—I can still maybe, possibly make some sort of difference.'
[System Alert: Synchronization has passed 50%! Stability achieved! Beginning error correction and debugging…]
I frowned, watching a progress bar slowly work its way across the bottom of the alert window. Finally, it filled and another box popped up.
[Enter Character Name: ]
So, it seems I'll be forced to choose sooner, rather than later. 'Fine. I've made my decision.'
[You have selected 'Jaune Arc' as your character name. Are you sure?]
Hitting the 'yes' button, I watched the window disappear before a thought occurred. Opening my Stats page, I found that my name no longer induced aneurysms upon looking at it and the extra text, which I assume had been part of my original name, was gone. Going back to my original task, I attempted to break down my INT stat. With an MP of 620, most of that had to be coming from my ridiculously high INT. Some quick math left me with ten points of MP per point of INT, plus 100. My HP at level one was 100, so I could assume that my MP would be as well. I would have to just wait until next level to find out.
Outside, the conversation ended and the door opened, while at the same time I got an alert telling me how Listen had gone up a level. "Well, Mr. Arc, it seems some tests are in order," the Healer smiled, stepping up to my bedside as Joan took a position beside the door. She held out a hand and I watched it light up with a soft green glow.
"Hm? Oh, this?" she asked, her smile widening a bit. "It's a technique used to examine someone for injury and heal them if necessary, using my aura."
I blinked, looking between her face and the hand resting just above my head. "Is that your Semblance…?"
"Oh, no," she laughed. "Not at all! While it is a rare skill due to the difficulty in learning it and the requirement for fine aura control, not to mention needing a high level of aura to even use it, it is a teachable skill."
I hummed, considering the woman before me and the technique itself. With my high INT and WIS, control wouldn't be an issue—at least, not at higher levels. Caster-class characters were great for dishing out damage, but if I was going to be a caster I didn't want to go the full glass-cannon route. With a team backing me yes, I could, however… being able to heal your tank meant keeping the enemy off of you for longer. Of course, there was also the ability to heal oneself that came with that—and heals are good. "Can you teach me?"
Healer White looked pensive as she moved her hand about, humming in indecision. "I don't know..."
[A quest has been created!]
[You've discovered that the healer is holding out on her skills! Convince Healer White to aid you in your quest to learn healing magic.]
[Reward: 1500 EXP, skill book(s), increased closeness with Joan Arc. Failure: decreased closeness with Joan Arc. Time limit: 5 minutes.]
'Well. That's a thing. Okay, I can do this. Let's put that higher charisma score to work, shall we? Question is, how should I go about doing this?' Glancing over to Joan, I hummed as a plan came to mind. "Healer, my sister told me that all my life, I've been trying to follow in her footsteps and become a great Hunter like her, and my parents, and the rest of my sisters. I don't remember any of that, but it feels… right, somehow, to continue along that path. Maybe, just maybe… if I pick up where I left off it might jog my memory—shake something loose upstairs, you know? However, I realize now that being a Huntsman isn't all about learning the best place to stab or shoot a creature of grimm. While the grimm may be gone once you've dealt with them, the damage they've left behind remains. Not everyone is as lucky as me, to wake up from a grimm attack in a hospital little the worse for wear. Being a Huntsman isn't just about killing grimm, or giving people hope and security—it's also about making things right and making sure they don't take more lives than they already have. If that means having to study and put in the work to do it, then that's what I'll do—whichever path saves the most lives. Please, will you help give me some idea of where to start?"
As I spoke, I felt something—much in the way I had felt the Listen skill activate silently, I could feel that charisma imbuing every word of my impassioned plea. Honestly, what I'd said made sense and I did agree with it—even if I was channeling my inner Emiya Shiro to do it. And that thought itself gave me pause. 'No problems remembering popular culture references, but ask me to tell you what my parents' names were and I couldn't answer you. That would be sad, under ordinary circumstances. I wonder if this… apathy extends to all emotions, or only those related to my old life. I hope not—otherwise, what's the damn point? To never truly feel again…'
The glow surrounding the healer's hand died down and she sighed, before nodding. "Okay. I think I have some old reference books in my office. It's not much, but it's a start..."
[Charisma score increased by 1!]
[Charisma score increased by 1!]
[Quest Healing Touch completed!]
[You gain 1500xp!]
[Your level has increased by 1!]
As the healer turned away and lead my sister outside, I grinned. Activating my Listen skill again, I opened my Stats page and looked it over. Charisma was now sitting pretty at 12, which after modifiers was 28.6. In addition, I now had five points to spend however I wanted. I was sorely tempted to do so now, but remembering the skill books to come my way, I thought better of it. Some skills had prerequisites to learn—either other skills, or a minimum number of points required. In most games, that minimum number of points was applied to your base number of points, not your modified point score—meaning that while I had 52 in INT, it didn't mean crap for skill requirements as my base was still at 10.
Closing my Stats page to avoid the temptation of those points burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to try something different. "Settings," I whispered, and was surprised to find it produced results.
Reaching out, I tapped the option for difficulty.
Almost unsurprisingly, the option was grayed out and couldn't be changed. Well, it's not like I was expecting to go through life on easy mode anyway. Closing that, I moved on to Sound, where I discovered that I could disable system notification sounds. Finally, that irritating dinging would stop! Viciously, I stabbed the option with my finger and smirked upon receiving a confirmation message. Moving on down the list, I found the option for BGM—background music—and enabled it. What most veteran gamers had quickly learned was that a game's BGM was a sort of barometer for mood, be it for the environment or individuals. For instance, in an open field BGM tended towards lighthearted, airy pieces. Likewise, creepy areas tended to have creepy music, while boss battles were typically announced by a change in music—the level of danger from the boss itself directly correlating to the music. Characters had their own image songs, usually with vocals by the voice actor/actress of the character in question. An easy way to tell an important character from an NPC or minor character was whether or not they got their own image song.
Satisfied with the BGM, which was currently playing muzak as befitted a hospital, I moved on to Commands and immediately felt my jaw drop. 'It's the holy fucking grail.'
Contained in the Commands section were commands—every voice-activated command for every option available at the moment, separated by use. For instance, skills such as Listen and Observe were listed under the 'Skills' section, which was itself a command to bring up the Skills window. Smirking, I skimmed the list for need-to-know information—I could get into the minutiae later. I struck gold immediately with several common commands such as Transparency, Party, Map, and Minimap. Two quick whispered commands later, I had a minimap displayed in the bottom right corner of my field of vision and a larger, more detailed map of my current surroundings—specifically, the floor plan for the hospital, by level.
Checking the map itself, I found drop down menus to change the map view from local to area, switching from the interior of the hospital to the city of Vale. Another selection allowed me to switch from the city to the continent, though at the moment that information was vaguely useless to me. Shrugging, I switched back to the city-wide map and studied things over for a moment before closing it. A look at my minimap showed the interior of the hospital, but as with the full-sized map it could be toggled to show the local area of the city within a few block radius. Another option toggled icons: waypoints, friendly characters, party members, quests, quest-relevant characters, even enemies. I enabled everything except friendly characters after testing it once to see what it did—having NPCs show up all over my minimap would clutter it up if it showed every nearby person.
'Maybe I shouldn't call them NPCs. I mean, yeah, I don't know everyone but they're still people as opposed to mindless automatons or AIs reading off a script. Joan, for instance, is not an NPC,' I mused, before I realized the door had opened and Joan had returned without the healer.
"So, what's the prognosis?" I asked, smiling up at the taller blonde woman—she had to be at least 6'2".
Joan blew a sigh of air upwards, blowing away a couple of strands of hair that had slipped in front of her eyes. "She doesn't know. Physically, you're healthy as a horse—or 'fit to return to training,' as the healer said. Mentally… she's got no idea. They're wanting to set up an appointment to transport you to Atlas and stick you in some Schnee machine and let it scan your brain..."
"Uh huh," I hummed, before asking, "And how much is that going to cost?"
"Heh," Joan chuckled, looking sheepish. "Even with insurance, a lot."
I shook my head. "In that case, forget it. I won't be a burden on you, or our parents, over something that may not work in the first place. I say let's just give it time. Maybe, if I were in a familiar environment doing familiar things it would help. Then again, maybe not. Either way, I meant what I said, earlier."
Sighing, Joan nodded. "So, I suppose this means you still want to go to Beacon?" she asked, and upon seeing my manufactured look of confusion, clarified with, "Beacon Academy for Hunters. It's like… a finishing school for Huntsmen and Huntresses. Before all of this, you were… let go from Signal Academy. Your grades weren't really good enough to continue, or get into Beacon."
"Firstly, yes, I think I'd like to try. If it helps, great. If not… we'll go from there," I shrugged, earning a nod from Joan. "Secondly, if my grades were so bad, how am I getting in?"
Chuckling again, Joan had the good grace to look sheepish. "Well, you see, what had happened was… we sort of pulled some strings, called in some favors, and um… forgedyourtranscriptpapers."
"Forged my transcript papers?" I asked, getting a shy nod in answer. "Somebody's been a bad girl."
"Shush, you!" she hissed, blushing to the roots of her hair. "A-anyway… If you still want to go, we've got a month to run you through a crash course of the basics to maybe, hopefully get you up to speed. Think you can hack it, little brother, or was all that talk about hard work just blowing smoke?"
Deciding to play along, I grinned. "Ah, but my dear sister, have you forgotten already? My Semblance makes me the ultimate bullshit character when it comes to that sort of thing. It'll take some testing to figure out its limits, but if it's anything like I expect it to be, catching up shouldn't be a problem."
The door opened and Healer White returned with a set of paperwork on a clipboard and a pair of thick medical books. "If you'll sign these discharge papers, you'll be free to go home Mr. Arc. And here, these should help you on the path of the healer, so long as you study hard."
[You've obtained the skill book Beginner Level Aura Healing! Would you like to learn this skill?]
[You've obtained the skill book Beginner Level Aura Examination! Would you like to learn this skill?]
Smiling and thanking Healer White, I waited until her back was turned to tap the 'Decline' button twice. If there was any sort of visual effect or light show, I didn't want to alarm the healer—and if there wasn't, I didn't want her wondering where her books went if they disappeared while they were supposed to be in my possession. Likewise, I refrained from stuffing them into my inventory for the same reason. Beside me, Joan finished signing the paperwork and handed it to me before indicating where I was to sign. For a moment, muscle memory almost had me signing my own name, before I caught myself on the second letter. Turning the 'o' into an 'a,' I finished the signature and handed the clipboard back. "Well, it looks like you're all set, Mr. Arc. If you have any problems, don't hesitate to call me," the healer smiled, stepping out of the room and closing the door behind her.
"So, ready to go home?" Joan asked, shooting me a smile.
"Absolutely," I nodded. "Just as soon as I have some pants on."
Joan blinked, suddenly seeming to realize that I'd been in that ridiculous onesie the entire time, before covering her mouth as her eyes went wide and she stifled a giggle. "I'm sorry, I'll let you get dressed. I put some fresh clothes in the closet there," she managed to get out before slipping out the door, where her laughter grew noticeably louder.
"Laugh it up, Chuckles," I groaned, slipping out of bed and opening the closet in question. Finding the clothes, I began stripping out of the onesie before I paused, zipper half open. "Inventory."
Checking the inventory, I selected the onesie and moved it from its equipped position into the boxes that made up the rest of my inventory as opposed to my equipment. Looking down, I found myself left in a pair of green boxers, which revealed another box on my equipment screen. Out of curiosity, I selected the boxers and moved them from equipment to inventory. The scale model of my body updated accurately and looking down provided the expected results. Shrugging, I re-equipped the boxers and began pulling out clothes and dropping them directly into equipment positions. Pants went into the leg slot, which moved to cover the underwear slot and revealed another slot labeled 'armor.' Humming, I equipped the rest of the clothes—shirt, socks, boots, and hoodie. Closing my inventory, I reached down and unzipped the hoodie before heading for the door.
"That was quick," Joan commented, a confused look on her face.
"That's because I didn't get dressed, I equipped my clothes."
Shaking her head, Joan gestured down the hall. "I'm jealous. Well, come on, let's get going."
[Quest Not in Kansas: Pumping Miss Arc for Information (as opposed to fun) completed!]
[You gain 1000 EXP!]
The Arc family home was located on the edge of Vale, more than one train ride away from the hospital and a good walk past the last stop. My handy Map showed that it was located on the border of the Residential and Agricultural districts, near the river. While still inside the relative safety of the patrol zone for Hunters around Vale, it was still fairly isolated from the main roads of Vale or any nearby neighbors. The house itself was a large, two-story affair similar enough to those I'd seen in my previous life for me to pay the design little notice beyond its familiarity. The home had a large front and back yard, though I couldn't actually make out anything of the back yard from where we stood at the front door. Faintly, I could hear the hollow thump of wood striking wood from somewhere nearby.
"Well… this is it," Joan sighed, unlocking the door and gesturing me inside. The first thing I noticed were the framed pictures of the family lining the walls—more than one of which was group shots, where Jaune stuck out like a sore thumb as the only boy amidst a group of six or seven girls depending on the age of the photos. Oddly enough, I noticed three of the children pictured had red hair and green eyes, as opposed to blond hair and blue eyes. While not entirely unheard of, the fact that their faces were all slightly sharper than that of the blonds seemed to me like a good indicator that they had different parentage. It was odd, to say the least. I got my answer when I came to a photo of Jaune's parents by themselves—all three of them.
Joan must have caught me staring because she made that little embarrassed chuckle of hers and gestured towards the picture in question. "I see you've noticed…"
"So, our dad has two wives?" I asked, getting a slow nod in answer. "Sequentially, or at the same time?"
"At the same time," Joan confirmed quietly.
I hummed in thought before asking, "On a scale of one to ten, how weird is that?"
Looking sheepish, she thought on it before answering with, "About a three. It's not as uncommon as it used to be, any more. You don't remember, but this is actually common knowledge. What you have to understand is that after the great war, women have outnumbered men on average four to one—six to one if you take the Faunus into account. It's actually weird that dad doesn't have three wives, minimum—or at least a mistress or something."
"And you're okay with the idea of sharing a guy with between one and three other women?" I asked, to which Joan shrugged.
"Pickings are slim and I'm not a stingy person. It's a fact of life we've learned to deal with. The alternative is worse."
I suppose that made sense. If the alternatives were either seeking company among other women or doing without, sharing wouldn't seem like such a bad option—especially if you were looking to start a family and pass on a lineage of your own as opposed to adopting. Deciding that it didn't particularly matter at the moment, I asked, "So… what now?"
Joan grinned in answer. "Now, the training montage begins. Go get your armor on and meet me out back."
Nodding in agreement, I turned to head for Jaune's room, only to stop and turn back. "Uh, which room is mine?"
A look of understanding crossed her face. "Upstairs, third door on the left."
Making my way upstairs as Joan made her way deeper into the house, I opened the door to 'my' bedroom and looked around. It was… an absolute pigsty. Sighing, I palmed my face. "God damnit Jaune," I grumbled quietly.
[A quest has been created!]
[Dealing with the Remnants: Cleaning House]
[It seems Jaune has left you with some work to do. Clean and sanitize Jaune Arc's bedroom.]
[Rewards: 500 EXP, increased closeness with the Seven Deadly Sisters, increased closeness with parents, self-respect, the satisfaction of a job well done, quest continuation. Failure: decreased closeness with the Seven Deadly Sisters, decreased closeness with parents, shame, self-loathing, disgust, inability to sleep. Time limit: 10 hours or until you go to bed.]
Sighing, I hit the button to accept the quest. 'Damn right I won't be able to sleep. No one could sleep in this mess. Ugh. Teenagers.'
Looking around the room, I found Jaune's closet and waded through the mess on his floor before opening the door and finding his armor, along with what looked like some sort of phone. Hitting it with Observe, I found it to be a device called a Scroll, which was the functional equivalent to a cell phone. Opening my inventory, I threw it inside and quickly vacated the room, noticing in the corner of my eye as a new element was added to my HUD: time and date, and a signal meter that I assumed was for whatever version of cellular or wireless Remnant used. Once downstairs, I made my way out the back door and found Joan outside with another, much younger girl.
The Seventh Deadly Sister
'Even Jaune's little sister is stronger than him. Me. Us. Damnit, one of those,' I mused before shrugging it off. As soon as she caught sight of me, the girl in question was replaced by some kind of human-shaped guided missile, flying across the lawn at a speed I had trouble tracking and slamming into my midsection with enough force to send me to the ground.
[Repeated struggle has caused your VIT to increase by 1!]
'I knew she was stronger than me, but isn't that taking things a bit far?' Shaking the thought off, I looked down at the girl. Out of curiosity, I used Observe on her.
[Observe's level has increased by 1!]
I skimmed the background there and quickly closed the window before shaking the girl around my midsection. "Are you going to stay there all day, Jun?"
"But onii-chan just got back from the hospital! You were hurt and there was so much blood!" the girl cried, and I felt her chest shaking against me as she broke down into tears.
I had never been able to stand a crying girl, but I'd never been particularly good with kids. Looking to Joan for help, I found the traitor hiding a laugh again. Okay, fine. "Sweetie, as you can see, I got better. I'm fine, I promise."
"Really?" she asked, hope audible in her voice.
"Really, really," I agreed, and the little redhead popped up from my lap, seemingly intent on confirming that for herself.
Finally, she stepped back and beamed a grin. "Ne, ne, onii-chan, you really are okay!"
''Onii-chan?' I wasn't hearing things the first time. Seems like someone's been reading too much manga.' With a smile, I stood and dusted off my pants. "Well, mostly okay."
"Un! Onee-sama said you didn't remember us!" the girl confirmed what I'd suspected, that Joan had gone ahead and told her while I was otherwise occupied.
Looking up over her head, I met eyes with Joan. 'Onee-sama?' I mouthed silently. That was going to get old, fast.
The elder blonde nodded and sighed. 'Humor her, please,' she mouthed back.
"She also said that being here and doing stuff you're familiar with may help you remember," the girl continued, and I nodded along. "But what if you never remember us?"
Seeing the girl's sudden shift in mood again, I knelt down to eye level with her. "Well then, I suppose I'll just have to be the best brother I can be. That's a promise, and I don't go back on my word."
Jun's face lit up in joy and I looked up to see Joan staring at me. She broke eye contact with a blush the moment our eyes locked and I shrugged it off as a side effect of a higher charisma score. Standing, I brushed the grass off my jeans and asked, "So, where do we start?"
"Ah, where's your armor?" Joan asked in return. She rolled her eyes when I called up my inventory and equipped my armor. "Not fair."
Between us, Jun's eyes went wide. "Wait! Onii-chan found his Semblance?!" When she saw our nods of confirmation, she continued with, "That was an inventory! And you equipped gear! You're a video game character!"
"Yep," I agreed.
"Then, then… we just need to help onii-chan level up so he can be the strongest!" Pumping a fist in the air, she turned a beaming grin on her eldest sister. "Then I can marry onii-chan!"
I blinked, what she'd said taking a moment to register. When it did, there was only one response available that summed up exactly how I felt. "What?"
[A quest has been created!]
[Romancing Remnant: The Art of Love and War.]
[Scattered across Remnant are lots of lonely women in need of love. Women outnumber men six to one in the world of Remnant (counting Faunus, because a cat (girl) is fine too). Help do your part by romancing six or more lovely ladies.]
[Rewards: EXP to be determined, lifelong love and companionship, more kinky sex than you can shake a stick at. Failure: No EXP, no love, crushing loneliness, no kinky sex.]
Even as I frantically dismissed boxes, Jun turned around with what would have been the most adorable look of determination I'd ever seen—if I hadn't been aware of exactly what it was she was determined to do. "Onii-chan! I promise, I will marry you! And Arcs don't go back on their word—it's our family motto!"
"What?!" Ah crap, she was serious.
[A quest has been updated!]
[Romancing Remnant: The Little Sister Route has been unlocked!]
[Jun has given her word that one day, she will marry you. Help her keep her promise. Alternatively, find some way to let her down gently without breaking her heart.]
[Rewards: EXP to be determined, increased closeness with Jun, increased closeness with the Seven Deadly Sisters, +1 love interest. Failure: decreased closeness with Jun, decreased closeness with the Seven Deadly Sisters, the shame of breaking a young girl's heart.]