Yay. Another gamer/worm fic. Don't expect too much from this since I'm just using it to kill some boredom, but a co-writer could go a long way, especially when it comes to names. (I get writer's block over names a lot.) The gaming system won't be too different from the original concept, but I made some changes to make every stat seem useful without being out of place when applying them to a real person. Enjoy.
PS: Here's her starting stats.
Name: Taylor Anne Hebert
LV: 1 (Next LV: 0/100)
HP: 70/70 (REGN: 4/min.)
MP: 200/200 (REGN: 9/min.)
Unspent Points: 0
I opened my eyes suddenly as a loud familiar sound registered to my ears. My memories were foggy, and I made no effort to restore them.
My vision cleared up quickly, but it wasn't all that great without my glasses.
You have slept in a bed. 100% HP and MP recovered.
You have received professional medical care. X2-HP-REGN for the next 24 hours.
That's why the crystal clear floating text within blue boxes stood out to me even more than it should have.
A sense of panic rose from my chest, strangling my trachea and threatening to come out as a high scream. Just as I opened my mouth, the feeling fizzled out into nothing, as if it was nothing more than a figment of my imagination. I knew that it wasn't normal to shrug something like that off like it was nothing, but I was glad I had.
That left taking in the screens floating before my eyes. Nothing was different except for noticing a small x at the upper right corner of each text box. (Because what else could I call them?) Compelled by my modern instincts, I reached out to the X on the lower screen and tapped it.
I flinched away due to the synchronized tactile, visual, and auditory surprises. As expected, the lower text box disappeared, leaving the one about HP and MP. It reminded me a lot of a video game, which I only knew about through Uber and Leet's antics. My family lacked the funds and I lacked the inclination towards them.
I knew HP stood for health and MP stood for mana points, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I already felt regret for getting rid of the other text box since I could have learned a little more from it, and I didn't take the time to memorize its contents. I decided to get rid of the other one.
That left taking in my surroundings. Obviously I was in a small hospital room with one other person on a bed hidden by an opaque tan curtain. The walls were an aqua green while the ceiling and floor were off-white. The sheets were pure white, better for showing off any surprise blood stains. There was a nightstand to my left where I found my glasses. I put them on.
Finally I sat up and looked at all the wires and tubes connected to me. I knew that ripping them out was the last thing my caretakers wanted, so I searched for the call nurse button instead.
I waited through the onslaught of beeps until finally, a larger woman walked into the room. She wore simple nurses' scrubs that stood out against her dark skin. "Hello child. How are you feeling? You've been out for a while."
Her tone was steeped in motherly care that put what little turmoil remaining in my mind to rest. "How long?" I wanted to know as soon as possible so I wouldn't get blindsided.
"You were out for nearly a week, five days to be exact."
Just like before, the panic built up then fizzled out without getting anywhere. I decided to give her my full attention and went into full open mouth shock at what was floating over her head.
LV: 3 Laura Moores
Just like with my panic, it faded, but the damage was already done. "Now I know that's a shock, but I promise that it's not so bad. Most comas last for weeks."
It was fortunate that my blatant surprise wasn't too out of place, or it could have been awkward. I nearly asked for her name before taking notice of the name tag over her left breast, identifying her as Nurse L. Moores. It was all the proof I needed. I took in the woman's identity and then glanced back at the message hovering where I left it. I had no idea what to do with it other than study it thoroughly. That got boring quickly enough, so I returned my attention to the woman writing on the clipboard tethered to the foot of my bed. Somehow, without looking, she noticed me staring at her. "Did you remember anything child?"
I took a second to process the question before looking up at her in surprise. "How?" I never told her that I couldn't remember what happened to me.
She first chuckled before responding. "You look like someone who is lost, or like you forgot something important."
There was a sense of awe I felt at how well she read me. "You've dealt with amnesia?"
"Every day. That fool husband of mine always forgets where he left his keys." After a blink, I joined her in a short bout of laughter. "How much do you remember child?" I told her that all I remembered was waking up on January 3rd for the first day of school after Christmas break. Anything after entering the building was a complete blank.
"I think that's for the best. I would only wish what happened to you on the likes of Jack Slash. Things like that are best left forgotten."
That's what she told me, but I couldn't help but feel intense curiosity. It was then that the blue boxes decided to throw me for a loop.
You have woken up in a hospital without any memory of how or why. You can ask, but you've been told that you don't want to know.
Success: +100-EXP; Unlocked traumatic memories
Rejection: Memory remains repressed
Alongside the small wall of text was the simple options of yes or no. The sheer weirdness of it all stunned me for as long as it took for that strange emotional control to calm me. While I didn't know how I ended up there, but who was responsible was obvious as the nose on my face: Madison Clements, Sophia Hess, and Emma Barnes. For three semesters, they tormented me relentlessly. In hindsight, I should have known they'd do something serious. This left me with an important choice. Whatever the boxes were, they weren't sugar coating anything. I didn't understand what the 100-EXP was worth, but being outright told that the memories were traumatic was something to hesitate about. Then there was the other option. I understood memory repression, but I didn't understand how it would manifest. It would be pretty awkward if I was unable to recognize anyone telling her what happened, but I reasoned that it wouldn't make sense that way.
After some consideration, I decided that it all depended on if I had any use for the memories. That depended on the answer to one question. Fortunately, Laura was only just finishing up on my comatose roommate. "Mrs. Moores?"
"Do they know who did it?" I already knew her answer to my question in the instant she grimaced. "If not, then no, I don't want to know." Suddenly the quest box vanished and was replaced by another. (26-EXP)
Due to careful analysis, you gain 1-WSDM. WSDM=9
This time, I was able to school my expression. "Are you sure child?" I nodded back at her, my mind focused on what the latest box meant. WSDM obviously stood for wisdom, and I knew that wisdom was an aspect of one barely familiar game, but I couldn't remember the specifics. Even more important than that, the box said that it increased. I didn't feel any wiser, if that's how it worked, but eight to nine isn't that sudden of a change. There was also the EXP that flashed by. If getting twenty-six could happen just like that, then rejecting those memories was the right choice.
Still, figuring out what was happening with me was starting to become a headache, but everything was lending credence to my game theory. Entertainment options were pretty limited too.
Looking at the three remaining boxes, I ruminated over every detail and their implications. I could heal myself completely just by sleeping in a bed. I had MP, which implied that I could use magic of some kind. (Not that I'd tell anyone that out loud. Myrddin 2.0: no thank you.) Last and most importantly I was able to raise my wisdom through some vaguely specified method. That rose the question: if I could increase that aspect of myself, what else could I increase? There was only one way to find out.
Carefully, so I didn't accidentally pull out any of the tubes or wires attached to me, I began doing sit ups. I only got to three before it was too difficult to do any more. I decided then to give bicycles a shot, timing each pump with the clock's second hand. After nearly a minute, I was reaching my desired limit. (16-EXP)
Due to sustained activity, you gain 1-ENDR. ENDR=4
Four! I couldn't even put to words the indignation that I felt from the insultingly low number. Worst of all, that four meant my endurance was three before. I put an end to all the boxes then flipped myself over a bit less carefully and began a push-up. As scrawny as I was, even that much weight was a challenge, but I would not be deterred. Through struggle and control, I was able to push up from the bed. It was a good lesson on why people did push-ups on the floor. Unwilling to be satisfied until I saw another box pop up, I dropped to my knees and did two more push-ups. (14-EXP)
Due to strenuous effort, you gain 1-VIGR. VIGR=3
Three. That was even worse than my endurance. I knew that vigorous was one of the last words I'd use to describe myself, but three just felt abysmal. Aside from the disappointment about what the boxes were saying about my vigor, it also rose the question of how vigor and endurance were different. Unfortunately, my lack of a dictionary kept me from an easy answer.
That didn't matter to me either way; only those low numbers did. Using the insulting message for motivation, I forced out another push-up then switched back to bicycles. When that became difficult, I stood up and did some amateurish squats.
"Miss Hebert, what do you think you're doing child?!"
And that's when I first learned how awkward pop-ups we're when talking to someone, especially someone angry at me for doing something that I should have known not to do. Turns out that nine wisdom wasn't much to write home about either. That left me stuck trying to come up with an answer to what I was in no condition to realize was a rhetorical question.
"If you can't answer me, then I'll tell you what you are doing?! You're getting back in that bed, you're going to eat this soup I brought you, you're going to lay down, then you're going to wait patiently until the doctor gets to see you. If you're that bored, you can read these." As she finished her tirade, Laura grabbed one pamphlet of each type on a rack near the front door and toss-handed them over. She then put the soup on the adjacent table. "If I hear of you doing that nonsense again, I will strap you down."
After another second of glaring to get her point across, she left me semi-alone again. I sighed and picked up the first of the first aid pamphlets.
You have acquired the Skill Book: Basic First Aid (Dressing Wounds) Do you want to learn this skill? Y/N
My jaw dropped. I tapped the Y then watched in horror as the little pamphlet lit up like a flare and burst into marble sized motes of light.
You have learned Basic First Aid 1/5 (Dressing Wounds)
The booklet vanished, and new information slotted itself into my mind. I knew how to clean wounds, how to prevent people from losing too much blood, and how to bandage them properly. All that played second fiddle to making sure no one else noticed the light show. Fortunately, there was a reassuring lack of anyone running into the room yelling about me being a cape.
And that's when it really set in. I had a power, one that let me improve myself just by putting in the work. It even quantified how I was improving and how much I've improved. There was also what I learned from the pamphlet, and what I could learn from the others.
Taking a quick look at the closed door and my motionless roommate, then cover myself with my blanket and turn my back to the door. Sure that I was safe, I began consuming the others just like the first.
You have learned Basic First Aid 2/5 (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation)
You have learned Basic First Aid 3/5 (Setting Bones and Joints)
You have learned Basic First Aid 4/5 (Asphyxiation Treatments)
You have learned Basic First Aid 5/5 (Burns)
By obtaining all Basic First Aid skills, Basic First Aid has evolved into First Aid.
The influx of info flooded my mind, telling me everything I should and should not do with an injured person, how to identify and prioritize the most sever cases, and how to deal with all the most common injuries I could ever expect to come across. All of it was at my fingertips, waiting for a chance to be used. (Not that I wanted to be in a situation where I would need them.)
Was there an upper limit to my power? Was there a limit to what I could learn? These questions dominated my mind, but I decided that I was getting too far ahead of myself. I had just woken up from a coma, and I was already on the way to thinking I could be Triumvirate level.
I held my arms out and began observing them as I flexed my fingers and rotated them. They were thin, spindly even; a far cry from the sleek and powerful definition that Alexandria possessed. My left hand began threading through the long wavy hair I inherited from my mother. Despite it being nearly a week since I could care for it, it was just like I last remembered it.
I continued doing that absentmindedly while pretending that I was lifting dumbbells in my right arm, wishing that I actually had some weights. Even if I was stuck within human limits, being told how I was improving had a powerful psychological effect that had me craving more.
On a whim, I began flexing my arm. This made moving it significantly more difficult, but I kept at it. What else was I supposed to do? I was trapped inside quiet possibly the most boring hospital in the city with a Spartan Nurse who won't allow me any opportunity to explore my power further. I closed my eyes, sighed, and let my warm arm stop. There was nothing I could do but wait for the doctor to inevitably show up to give me a clean bill of health. I did feel perfectly fine after all. After a while, even the fatigue I felt from my frantic bout of exercise was gone.
It was only after a few more minutes of waiting silently that I finally remembered the bowl of soup that Laura left on the nightstand to my left. I picked it up and observed it closely, finding it to be cheap alphabet soup from a can. Only the best for the sick and helpless after all. It smelled fine and looked appetizing enough, but it didn't elicit a single pang of hunger. That was odd since I had been without solid food for nearly a week. Even stranger was that I wasn't feeling any nausea alongside my lack of hunger. I pondered that mystery for as long as doing so remained entertaining before finally eating it in just a few gulps.
Thankfully, someone who had to be a doctor walked into the room and gave me a practiced smile. "Good afternoon Miss Hebert, I'm Dr. Henderson." A quick glance up confirmed this and let me know that his LV was five. "I just need to take a good look at you to make absolutely sure you're in good health. Just promise to save testing your fitness for last."
My ears burned as I picked up on what he was alluding to. 'The sooner we get it over with, the sooner I'd be able to start living that down,' was what I thought.
As he began going through the rounds, he decided to strike up a conversation. "You're very lucky Miss Hebert. I understand that you don't care to hear the dirty details, but let me say that it is a mystery how you came to us unscathed, aside from the coma. Honestly, all you needed was a wash, a bed, and a IV drip. After that, you looked like it never happened."
I stamped down on the embarrassment from imagining who could have washed me, and how thoroughly, and focused on thinking about the three who had gone too far. No, they went too far long ago, I only just then began to see it. They destroyed my homework almost every day, stole my assignments, ruined my academic credibility, bruised me, and put me down at every opportunity. There was nothing anyone could, or even would do to help me. I was done suffering under their rule in a vain hope that they would finally get bored of me. Like usual, the idea of giving up and letting them win rankled me, but for the first time, that thought was silenced by me realizing that they had already won. I was just too stubborn to see that before.
No matter what, I couldn't think of a way to beat them. I was playing their game, by their rules, with everything rigged in their favor. Fuck that! The metaphorical powers fairy must have agreed, because I had a new game to play…right after I stopped having such an infantile thought process. I even groaned loud enough to alert my physician . "Does something hurt?" I doubted that he had a cure for childishness, so I just shook my head. "In that case, I'd say that you're good to go right after your father wakes up and signs your release forms."
My eyes shot open. "My dad!" Guilt from having forgotten about him welled up before abruptly vanishing.
"Is fine," he answered me with a reassuring tone. "You have a good father Miss Hebert. That's a rare thing in Brockton Bay. If you don't mind me saying, you should talk to him."
I didn't mind, but, "How do I tell him that I want to drop out?"
That seemed to catch the doctor off guard for a moment before he sighed his surprise away. "As a father speaking on the behalf of another, I'd say that you tell him the same way you told me. I know that I'd want my son as far from whoever did that to you as soon as possible. You look like a smart girl Taylor, so you should know that contrary to what the government would have you believe, school isn't your only option. There is online education, homeschooling, working towards a GED, or you can let yourself fall back a year and apply elsewhere."
"What about transferring."
His grimace wasn't encouraging. "Unless you're talking about moving out of the city or some other extenuating circumstances, it's too late for that. Transfers within the same area are usually planned to happen over summer break."
"Hospitalization isn't extenuating enough!" I'll admit that I put too much bite into my tone.
The doctor took it as if it never happened. "In Brockton Bay…no, it isn't." I could almost scream at the unfairness of it all, if I didn't suddenly become calm again. "If you want my advice, ask the school to let you drop out officially. It won't look bad on your record, and you can easily add it in as part of the settlement the school is offering."
That was news to me. It really made me wonder what happened, because it sounded worse every time I heard anything related to it. This only hardened my resolve.
You have decided that it was time to move on from Winslow High and leave your past behind. Finalize your plans to do so before school begins next week. (Time limit: 69 hours)
Failure: Continued enrollment in Winslow.
Before I could read it over, the doctor decided that it was time to remove the IV drip from my arm and turn off the heart monitor. "I'm sure that you'll want to remove the rest yourself. The plastic bag under your bed has a change of clothes that your father brought over. I think it should be you who wakes him up."
I nodded in his general direction while reading the latest pop-up, wishing that I could just move it to the side. I nearly facepalmed when an irritated wave of my hand ended up moving it just as I wanted it to. With the blue box out of the way, I removed the wires attached to my skin and found the promised clothes. What I found in the bag were year old clothes that I never got around to throwing away. They fit, but the legs were too short, which was a testament to how much taller I became.
I glanced at the box to my right side before deciding that my priorities lay with my father. With strong and sure steps, I made my way out of the room. Of course the first person I'd run into would be Laura, who was giving me a stink eye.
LV: 3 Laura Moores
I seriously wondered when that had changed, but it wasn't important. Thankfully, the hospital seemed to be more of a bigger clinic in size, making it easy to navigate and reassured me that the incident wasn't going to be too much of a financial burden on our limited funds. We have never been truly secure, especially since we lost mom. An overwhelming sorrow was ready to take me, but it changed into a sense of loss and a wish that she was still with us. A stray tear of gratitude came out when I realized that I was still feeling the most important emotions in the face of whatever was obviously suppressing any potent emotions I would have normally struggled through.
That was how I was when I made it to the lobby to find my dad laid up on five lined up chairs. I mostly ignored the info floating over his head.
Dockworker's Union Head of Human Resources
LV:8 Danny Hebert
Even that many chairs were not enough, forcing him to be curled up slightly. The signs of sleep deprivation and prolonged worry we're obvious even to the most untrained eyes. He never looked great since we lost my mom, but never that bad. I realized then that what they did to me, they did to my dad too; and for that, they would pay.
I turned my attention back to the quest and made sure to glean as much info from it I could. I thanked my English professor of a mother for the knowledge needed to parse through the grammar. Unlike last time, there was no pros or cons involved, only rewards or punishment. I tapped the Y while idly wondering if there was a precognitive element in this strange power. (That's what the question marks were implying at least.)
I struck the unimportant query from my mind, walked up to my dad, then shook his shoulder. "Dad."
He stirred, his awakening fitful, quick, but incomplete. "Annette?"
I felt my heart tear at his error. "No dad. It's your little owl."
Light filled his eyes, then it all hit him at once. "Taylor?"
"Hi dad." His tears soaked my shoulder.
*L8: 11-2; 11-2; 10-2; 17-5; 20-5; 21-5*
He had been looking over an important work contract near the end of the day when he got the call. Learning that his daughter was on her way to the hospital was one of the last things any decent father would want to hear.
He dropped everything and raced to his truck. Nothing would stop him from getting to his daughter as soon as he could, which was why the infamous Hebert temper burned like the sun when a cop had the nerve to pull him over for going ten miles over the limit. He would have jumped out of his car to give the man a verbal lashing if the more rational part of his mind didn't warn him that doing so would only delay him further.
He instead waited for him to saunter up to the window before silencing him with a glare. "My daughter, is in the hospital." It was Danny's shortest traffic stop ever, the officer only having the guts to warn him to be careful.
When Danny learned what happened, he stormed up to Principal Blackwell and demanded to know how she let that happen. She just sat there in her dreary funeral suit and ridiculous bowl haircut. She then had the gall to offer a settlement when he threatened to sue.
When he returned to Taylor's room, all burnt out, he realized that sueing them wasn't an option. He swallowed his pride, called her back, and told her that he needed to think about it. She gave him a week to decide.
Danny took time off work to be there for her. The men understood and tried to make things at work as easy for as they could. Still, seeing his daughter oblivious to the world around her drained the life out of him. Sleep came and went, but the orderlies were kind enough to let him sleep in the lobby whenever he could manage it.
He dreamed of his wife's wake, of looking down at her still body. Annette's daughter looked somuch like face blurred, until he couldn't distinguish between them. Both of them were beyond him.
An earthquake shook the world around him. Everything crashed and crumbled until the waking would claimed him once again. Through blurry vision, the face of the one he lost looked down on him. "Annette?"
The young woman smiled and shook her head. "No dad. It's your little owl."
"Taylor?" Her eyes were different. Many say that she got his eyes, but only Annette could have that spark. Her vitality spilled out and lit a flame that had been dull for nearly four years. He had wallowed in self pity long enough…but first, he was going to hug his daughter.
Yeah, that's about it for the prologue. I think I want the early arcs to be more character, emotion, and event driven with her stats being a side focus. As for future build, Taylor is smart, so mage is inevitable (as is munchkin-ing.) Thing is, mage has plenty of sub-classes and potential for creativity. I won't be giving you guys a flying artillery gamer here.
Ultimately, I just wanted to put my system out there for some others to make use of. So many people forgot that Han Jee-Han could get a little EXP when stat grinding, even the original writer. (Or maybe his EXP needs became too high for it to make a dent.)
PS. Here's her current stats.
Name: Taylor Anne Hebert
LV: 1 (Next LV: 56/200)
HP: 80/80 (REGN: 5/min.×2)
MP: 200/200 (REGN: 10/min.)
Unspent Points: 0