92 Secret Warning
"Yeah... He's gorgeous." Jun Li was sitting on the beach watching a few members of Inferno play in the water.
"Gorgeous and fluffy, I want one of those." Semmi wore a one-piece white swimsuit that Nix had made her.
"Raaawwwr" The huge bear splashed through the surf, his shaggy fur sending droplets of saltwater in all directions. Every once in a while he would plant his butt down and swipe at the water with his huge paws. The result would be a massive wave of water being sent at his playmates. Mina and an Aquarion healer named Saji were laughing loudly while they played with him.
"Where's Nix?" Jun Li had been watching the events for half an hour, as of yet, there was no sign of the Inferno guild leader.
"Sleeping it off I assume." Semmi had witnessed a certain young Fire Mage sleeping on his deck. "Nix, Chael and Wind decided they could drink more than Pon."
Jun Li snorted, "no one can drink more than that old fish."
Semmi nodded in agreement, "he put them all to sleep."
Nix opened one eye, someone had helped in into his bed. The last thing he remembered was sleeping on the deck. He sat up slowly and noticed a person sitting patiently on the edge of his bed. She handed him a glass of ice water, which he gladly accepted. "Thank you."
The young blonde looked like a college kid, she wore a white t-shirt and cut-off jeans, her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. "We should talk Nix."
"Sure... You start." Nix stood up and stretched, he was shirtless but thankfully wearing a pair of boxers that he made. He shuffled slowly to the bathroom, intent on washing his face.
"I've received notification that I'm being released a bit earlier than planned." Darsi watched him wash up, she wasn't usually impressed by avatar physiques because you could choose whatever you liked. She had the feeling Nix hadn't changed anything.
Nix dried his face and grabbed his toothbrush. "How much early?"
"In few days. I'm actually unhappy about it," she admitted.
Nix felt she wanted to say more, so he began brushing his teeth without comment.
"I'm a hacker Nix, that's my reason for being incarcerated." She smiled when he had no reply, "not just a regular hacker, I specialize in infiltrating stasis facilities."
Nix finally stopped and looked up, his yellow eyes expressionless as he rinsed his mouth. "That's remarkably specialized."
"How much do you know regarding Gladis Corporation's legal battles?"
"Nothing. I didn't even know there was an issue." Nix had never spent a night in the Gladis Crafter Village, and he never read the forums.
"They have their hands in dozens of VR games and Worlds, it has reached the point where other companies are feeling the heat."
"Is the government stepping in? As far as I know, Gladis has strong ties to the government. That's how they were able to land all the convicts."
"The government is obligated to follow up on charges of monopolies and tampering."
"Tampering? As in giving their lifestyle players certain enhancements?" Nix grabbed a fresh shirt and slid on some pants. "This have anything to do with why you are here?"
Darsi nodded, "I was part of a group hired by an unknown entity. They paid me more money than I'd ever made."
"We were to look for evidence of foul play. Any kind of smoking gun or money trail that could be used as leverage."
"Their cybersecurity measures were too high. I suspect they have an AI running it." Darsi frowned at the memory. She had dived into the Gladis Server virtually, she should have been invisible; instead, she had been immediately discovered before she could even do anything.
Nix raised an eyebrow. "An Ai? That's illegal, isn't it? And very risky."
Darsi shrugged, "there's a fog over everything Gladis does, no one seems to be able to prove anything.
"It's ironic that you ended up working for the company you tried to hack."
"I've thought the same thing myself." She leaned forward and lowered her voice. " I want to tell you something important, but you mustn't share it with anyone."
Nix nodded, "not a word."
"Gladis is going to be targeted again."
"How do you know?"
"I was part of a team, the only one who got caught. They are making sure that I'm in the loop."
"Are you still with them?"
Darsi nodded, "I don't know the specifics. They can't give me any details while I'm still here. It's going to be different this time Nix."
Nix stood up and started gearing up. "Different how?"
"Less finesse and more force." Darsi stood up also and handed him a small token.
Nix glanced at the token. "You won a first aide token?" The first aid support skill was the most sought after of all the skills.
Darsi smiled, "don't get attached to it. Just hold it for me. Once I'm released, it will be a while until I'm able to return."
"Are you suggesting that Gladis hub might be shut down?"
Darsi shook her head, "I doubt anyone could pull that off. However, it may come to the point where they aren't ignoring their lifestyle players so much."
Nix frowned, he definitely didn't want to leave his friends. "They might come after me?"
"That's about all they can do. They don't own Colonial, nor do they have access to the server. I suppose they could threaten you."
"An ultimatum? Come back to the hub or we'll wake you up?" Nix still remembered the corporate ass who informed him that Gladis was done with him.
"Not sure. This is all speculation on my part." Darsi moved toward the door, "don't lose my token. When I return I'm going to get my shop back and start leveling up!"
"Thanks for the info Darsi. Count this as me owing you one."
Inferno spent the next few weeks recovering and prepping. Nix successfully brought in the Provost Marshals Office with the newly promoted Captain Ton in charge. Ronnie and Wind were racking up quite a few kills with their new ships. The Corvette was smaller but worked well when paired with the larger Galleon that Wind used. Darsi disappeared, presumably because she was released. The small mid-tier guild continued building their strength.
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/Inferno: Nix: Enough laying about, everyone report to the guildhall. Time for a raid. Mina has a shortcut for us and we are pushing ahead on the Onion Quest.
/Inferno: Semmi: A shortcut in Mermaid City?
/Inferno: Nix: No spoilers.
Within a few minutes, the guildhall filled up. Donri, Sila, and Nez were finally going to join a raid.
Mina waited until everyone sat down. "As many of you know, Inferno is currently on the 5th floor of Mermaid City. Recently I was able to save a gate location to the 3rd stage of this floor."
Semmi was reading the information that Nix had downloaded regarding 5.3, "this is the Pinnacle raid?"
Nix nodded, "we are also doing Onion, we will be dividing into two forces for this one. As long as the division is viable, you can sign up for whichever one you like."
Ronnie's hand shot up. "Which one are you doing Nix?"
"Both." Nix and Mina switched their Deep Blue bracelets. After he was done with Pinnacle, she'd use her ally ring to summon him to The Onion quest. "Sending everyone the details of Pinnacle, you can make your decisions after you read it."
Although Pinnacle is located in Mermaid City, it is not a water zone. A multitude of pumps keep fresh air coming in and the seawater out. Why is there an Air Zone deep in Mermaid City? What are the Aquarions hiding there?
Destroy the pumps, clear the zone and solve the mystery. Most Importantly, continue the march upward.