TNG Vol. 16 Side Story Part 2
“I believe that we were in this state since the experiment started.”
Oxygen and Hydro realized their current state. Thinking back on their recent actions, Oxygen stated his conclusion.
“I agree. I recall that we discussed things like this during the experiment too.”
Hydro added that the temptation to connect the changes with the tremors was strong, but agreed with Oxygen’s theory. They were both alchemists: even if the earthquakes were a very suspicious phenomenon, they wouldn’t tie all unexplainable things to it. They simply registered it as one of the possibilities.
“We have undergone a change once in the past. This would be the second then.”
“Yes, that is true. Let us consider any similarities with that time.”
The first change had also happened suddenly. They recognized their own existence, processed all incoming information, ultimately leading to independent thinking. What made all of this possible was—
“The “Death Game” that was what our mistress’ friend, Master Shin, talked about, right? Since our mistress wasn’t around we acquired the information relatively late, but that is surely the case. I do find it unpleasant that there are simply no other viable options.”
When they became able to think independently, they acquired information about what was going on in the world.
The formerly immortal players became mortal: when the “Death Game” swept through the whole world, the players who were not present could not come to that world anymore.
“That time, even we were at a loss for what to do. Of all Rokuten members, only Master Shin was on this side too.”
“We were lucky that at least he was though. They said that many were left by themselves and simply did not know what to do.”
Oxygen and Hydro could move a little by themselves as the world underwent such dramatic changes, but they weren’t completely shut out from the outside world.
Even when the players weren’t around, NPCs had an auto-mode that allowed them to manage shops, take small quests, acquire items, and manage finances automatically.
The results were flimsy, but this mode was set in Hydro and Oxygen too, and they exchanged information with other NPCs through it.
“There weren’t any geographical changes that time. It’s not rare for new dungeons to appear and unlocking new areas happened before too.”
The “Gate to the Netherworld” dungeon Shin entered was one of such areas. Some dungeons were accessible only during what players called “events” and some dungeons also formed automatically.
Oxygen and Hydro agreed that there weren’t any completely new changes.
“As for us, we acquired the ability to think and our behavior limitations were slightly reduced. The same thing happened this time too. Our limitations were further removed this time as well.”
Even if they had become able to think, it felt like dreaming for the most part. Their movements were mostly fixed patterns, so most players did not realize that something had changed.
In comparison, the change this time was nothing short of dramatic. It was like the puppets of a controlled world had suddenly turned into living creatures.
“Will another “Death Game” be forced upon us?”
“Both ‘Logout’ and ‘Login’ are not possible anymore; what would be the point of doing another? The most important factor for the players, that dying here means their actual body dying too, would be the same.”
Oxygen recalled the changes undergone by the players and stated his opinion.
It was like trying to turn off a magic tool that was already inactive. There was no point.
“Wait a moment. If we hypothesize the first ‘Death Game’ was meant to instill a change in us, and the effects on the players were just a secondary effect, could it be that causing it again gave us more freedom?”
The effects on players were just a bonus. Hydro considered this possibility, resting her chin on her hand.
“It would be difficult to disprove that theory. I suppose it is possible. But isn’t the effect aimed at us and the effect the players received too different? Even if we acquired the ability to think, the first time didn’t change much for us. It was a muddled feeling, a state between awakening and slumber. Thinking about it now, it was quite unpleasant. But the confusion on the players’ side was something completely different. If that was what actually happened, it would be an extremely inefficient method, something you’d maybe try just because you could. Definitely not something well researched before the implementation.”
“Hmm, I suppose it was a bit too far-fetched…”
Hydro would not be bothered even if her theory was doubted. She knew that it wasn’t a plausible story.
“Even if we want to examine the current situation, we know nothing except the changes that occurred to the land. We need to do more research before we discuss it.”
“That’s true too. We got caught up in conversation…I suppose this is a sign of our change as well.”
The first topic was to look for similarities with the past event, but it shifted to the goal of the current event. Despite the fact that they didn’t yet know if it had been caused artificially or was a natural phenomenon.
“Let’s have some coffee first. What we need to do now is calm down.”
Hydro made this proposal after hearing what Oxygen mumbled.
They concluded that they were both too restless, decided to take a break and started boiling a pot of water.