Monstrous Compendium Ch 11 Ficbit – Aftermath

Fourteen. Fourteen of us gone.

Kirito leaned against Asuna’s shoulder, blue feathers half-wrapped around him as they wavered on their feet. Both their HP bars were lower than he’d like, despite the cure grievous potions they’d drunk, but he couldn’t complain. With the shreds of healing magic that had fallen into player hands since Klein had called the Silver Flame, a reluctant high-level ranger had had just enough cure spells to keep the pair of them on their feet. Klein and Issin were laying their cures on the last players still suffering the undead corruption left in the Skull Reaper’s wake. Moonswords didn’t have to worry about that. Much.

Still hurts like hell, though… fourteen. I can’t believe it.

“We lost a third of the raid.” Asuna wrapped her wing tighter, voice dazed. “Seventy-fifth floor, we knew there’d be a difficulty spike, but… so many of us, this will break guilds, and where will we find more clearers willing to take on bosses like this, before…?”

Before we hit Recon’s time limit, and everyone is yanked into Aincrad whether they’re willing or not, Kirito finished silently.

He’d done research; he knew Argo was doing more. Nothing they’d found had given even a glimmer of hope they might be wrong. ALO had to be Beniryuu’s backup plan; his way to deliver on his end of the bargain with Aincrad no matter what happened in SAO. After all, clearers might die. Players might give up, and retreat again to the Town of Beginnings. The Japanese government might despair of saving anyone from Kayaba’s deathtraps, and unilaterally pull the plug on every player left. If Aincrad was going to play Beniryuu’s part in the Draconic Prophecies, the ancient red had to have another plan.

I was in ALO. I fought there. The system recognized me. Even with Stheno’s magic to transfer my spirit across the planes… we saw what happened with the bebilith. The game glitched around it, because Cardinal had no stats for a demon. But ALO handled me perfectly.

Which meant SAO and ALO avatars were compatible. Which further implied the games and worlds were compatible, and one could substitute for the other.

A backup plan. And there’s probably a backup for the backup we don’t even know about yet.

38 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch 11 Ficbit – Aftermath

  1. And one potential backup plan I can think of is having some people kept in Aincrad no matter what, until the planar conjuction so they wake up in the ‘proper’ world. If that happens, some necromancers would get rich by repeatedly raising a dragon.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hmmm… Backup for the backup you say?

    (Am I the only one thinking of the Sleeping Knights from Mother’s Rosario? I mean- Gun Gale Online is technically a possibility, but not one I’d expect.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. *snaps fingers* darn… Well, just another argument for my first guess… Unless CrossOverCreativeChaos is planning on throwing in Elder Tale or something.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. … or is it?

        What if in MCO, the SEED is one of Beniryuu’s backup plans?
        VR, people killing each other, doing what they‘d never do IRL… that might just generate enough power for such a backup plan.

        Keep in mind that the oversized handbag-to-be does. Not. Give. A *brown smelly pile* about Earth. Aincrad is in the Prophecies, Earth is not.
        If our plane is destroyed (Demon Invasion, Earth-Shattering Kaboom, Zombie Apocalypse, take your pick) after he‘s snatched enough souls to supply Aincrad with the promised warriors, no scales off his nose, we’re just two-legs.

        Plus, he can play the long game. A planar conjunction implies it might happen again, and with magic cropping up on Earth, that bridge just might be easier to anchor on our side.

        I well and truly hope somebody terminates that bloody dragon with prejudice. Permanently. …Darkfire has been demonstrated to reach across planes, no?

        Liked by 3 people

      3. “Darkfire originates from Shadow, and Shadow goes almost everywhere. (Not sure about the Positive Energy Plane.)”

        The six Inner Planes (Positive and Negative Energy and the Fire/Water/Earth/Air Elemental Planes) are ‘close’ to pretty much all the other planes, and one of the ‘easiest’ ways of traveling from plane x to y is by taking a shortcut through one of them – presuming, of course, that you’re equipped to handle the local enviroment until you can find a portal off the plane in question. Aside from Air (and to a lesser degree Earth) they’re actively lethal to an unprotected traveler.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. They would be, but I wasn’t thinking of just the Sleeping Knights.

        If we’re talking back-up-for-a-back-up territory then a …non-ideal… result may be seen as acceptable.

        The Sleeping Knights were an experiment in using VR tech with terminal patients who wouldn’t survive outside of isolated care so said patients could still experience… Life, or the world, or something even if they were still trapped in their hospital beds.

        As mentioned elsewhere Beniryuu can afford to take the long game, so if he’s already gotten to third time’s the charm scenario I totally buy him actually trying something subtle, and just designing the system so that – like ALO – the players can log-out, it’s just that if they die while plugged in the (Eldritch) machine catches the soul and transmits it to a new body in Aincrad instead of letting it pass on normally. Or hell, maybe the machine is set up so that with enough extended use (and therefore enough levels gained) it eventually makes their body die and sends them to Aincrad without waiting for their terminal illness to get them first.

        In the case of such a plan, The Sleeping Knights would just be the first of many.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I mentioned previously that I don’t consider myself an Evil DM… But my players have frequently complimented me on how monstrous, evil, and clever my villains can be. I just have the most fun role-playing said villains when they’re having a meltdown at being thwarted.

        I have a bad habit of giving all of them variations on the same weakness: they tend to get impatient in the final stretch. Once they’re close to their end goal their eagerness tends to get the better of them and they’ll start to be a bit sloppy or making mistakes in their rush to finally get what they’ve been working towards.

        And almost none of my villains are good at adapting to defeat. Except one, but he’s the final Greater Scope Villain Man Behind The Man Behind The Man Dragon-In-Chief Ascendant Manipulative Bastard Corrupt Corporate Executive Beware The Superman Big Bad of my longest running campaign.

        A lot of my inspiration for him/his methods actually came from Witchy Woman and imagining someone calmer and less arrogant trying a much larger scale version of Kanryuu’s business strategy/idea with Kurogasa.

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  3. Aah, draconic arrogance. Yes, i imagine benniryu has all the backup plans he can afford. And is now busily scrambling to setup more. Possibly frantically. Funny thing-d&d/pathfinder usually doesn’t /allow/ the kind of scale of effect thats going on here- artifact or no. When it does, though…mystic backlash rules tend to get carted out. Saw some of those last time i looked at eberron. Benniryu, whatever he anticipated, is unlikely to have willingly put himself in the path of most of a million souls worth of backlash. That could kill a god, much less an ancient red. So…he probably just didn’t anticipate alo to reach major mmo popularity. He probably thought sao’s. Incident would keep people cautious of it and he’d get a few thousand brave souls more. Instead…..well. he certainly cannot afford failure in magical terms now.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. yep. I mean – there’s a good possibility given the lower numbers/Higher power relationship that generally applies to predatory populations that the population of /SAO/ was a significant portion of the population of the youkai lands. Not completely huge -they’re being groomed as champions, not rank and file – but say…maybe 5%.Initially.

        If so the full population of ALO is /more than half again the entire population of the youkai lands/. No wonder he wants a restricted quest being the access!

        Likely the idea that our earth has that many people willing to randomly walk into your trap for fun doesn’t actually /click/ for Benniryu until after it happens; Seven billion is just a number when you hear it, it doesn’t really describe how may people we have now in ways you can understand. It isn’t until you do the math – and nobody has a census, Benniryu probably can’t do the math on his homeworld’s population – and realize that our earth has a /disposable/ population – that’s people our societies could just absorb the loss of, it’d hurt, but we’d go on – larger than his homeworld’s /entire/ population *including monsters* that it hits home.

        I mean, it could be worse. There are several reasons why ALO might not reach the population of a modern our world major MMO (VR is more expensive, and harder, depressing effect of SAO actually exists, but internet, etc)…

        ../that/ population average is in the 2.4-5 million range for a ‘small to middling’ mmo these days.

        In so very many ways, Benniryu has allowed Eberron to grab a tiger by the tail. It’s a tiger itself.

        But society vs society… this is pretty much a fair fight. Either side, given the right fallout from the incidents ongoing, could conceivably stomp on and/or absorb the other.

        Our current societies have a /lot more practice with absorbing others/ than Ebberon has. That’s kind of a chilling realization.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. -Fourteen. Fourteen of us gone.-
    And so it has come at last. The beginning of (to quote the episode title) “The End of the World”.

    Will the hero (Kirito: “Not a hero.”) uncover and defeat the evil dragon (Beniryuu: “Not evil. Just focusing on the bigger picture more than those stupid mortals ever could.”) or will the villain of this tale triumph?

    Of course there’s the possibility of everybody’s plan going kaboom resulting in a mess that will result in Lady Stheno needing to restock her willowbark tea, AGAIN.

    Though in regards to powerful dragons disguised as mortals, I’m reminded of one episode from the series Tales from my D&D Campaign (seriously, the story and campaign setting Demonac made are awesome, even if you don’t like D&D it’s a treat).

    So at the point the party was at, they were pretty high leveled to the point that taking on a dragon would in theory be possible (if not desirable if any other option was available). Long story but in a fit of paranoia/’the DM could not be this cliche/craziest Xanatos gambit plan ever on a dragon’s part’ the artificer casts True Seeing and looked at the civvie they rescued in case she was a polymorphed dragon.

    To quote the DM: OK. Huge ****ing blue dragon.

    Artificer manages to hold it together just long enough to lean back around the corner and run off to inform the rest of the party. The cherry on top was that said dragon was wearing two rings and a set of metal claw covers that would occupy a glove slot.

    A dragon…..with gear. Diplomacy jumped up even higher on the ‘options that result in us living’ list.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I like that the phrasing here suggests that Argo is a strategic option who ought to be labeled with a minimum safe distance.

        It’s as wonderful as Argo is adorable 🙂

        Liked by 4 people

      2. -“Woohoo! Guaranteed phat loot!”-
        -…Ever read the Draconomicon? Dragons with equipped items are scary.-
        More then that. Dragons going ‘naked’ as it were in a fight even when they have access to magical equipment would generally be due to arrogance and pride. After all, they’re a DRAGON, what do they have to fear from mere mortals?

        A dragon using gear when they aren’t expecting to fight another dragon is one who has good control over their ego and/or is varying levels of genre-savvy. In that they realize and accept that humans and other species can pose a threat to them. And as such, cover their weaknesses/improve their strengths.

        That means in a fight the dragon won’t play around with/dismiss the humans attacking it. Instead it dispels their buffs/resistance spells before blasting them from a safe distance IE taking them seriously. Because except in do-or-die cases, if a mortal attacks something; they at least think they have some sort of chance.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. And I’m suddenly realizing a drastic gap in my gaming experience. I’ve only been involved in one “attack a dragon in its lair” event, and even that wasn’t quite “in its lair” (it came out and attacked us, when we hadn’t known it was even there. our information was that there “used to be” a dragon there “a long time ago”, but there lots of other foes there). I’ve never had to deal with the “be all paranoid and prepared before hunting down the dragon”.

        Most of my encounters with dragons were like Kirito vs the Bebilith here. *sudden dragon attack, not everyone can get away, must fight* And I still stand by my reasoning that made one character I played almost die to two different dragons, because of charging and soloing them for a bit (in both cases, the rest of the party was already busy and unable to deal with the sudden and unexpected dragon, and everything we had suggests both cases would have been TPKs if I hadn’t, and my soloing the dragons until the rest of the party could help was all that saved us), even if the rest of the players thought I was stupid for doing so “because your character charged the dragon without the right gear, and almost died”.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Shiroe is hard to get right as ’tis. I’d never put him into a crossover that already has this many elements to juggle.

    What about a straight SAO/LH cross?

    Usually, the premise is to stick some to most of the SAOvivors in Elder Tale, in time for the Catastrophe – I don’t think I’ve actually seen a fic yet, where Elder Tale players get caught in Aincrad. (About the closest I’ve seen was a throwaway comment in Racke’s fic “Aincrad’s Landing”, where Shiroe mentioned that he’d considered trying SAO, but missed the chance to.)

    Seeing how Shiroe the Strategist’s presence and talents would affect the development and politics of the Clearers would certainly be interesting, to say the least.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I know of someone who has significant notes for a fic like that, but I’m not sure it ever got written.

      Hmm. It’s just the whole LH “everyone is a hero” theme versus SAO “Kirito is the main protagonist” that makes it tricky. Plus, politics. Ugh. Writing that leads to madness….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s actually kinda the point.

        To use a Dynasty Warriors reference, where Kirito would be the Liu Bei (or maybe Guan Yu, if only because Klein would absolutely be Zhang Fei) to Kayaba’s Cao Cao, Shiroe would be more like Zhuge Liang – he makes the plans that earn them all victory, but not by fighting at the front of the vanguard.

        Or a similar image: Kirito may be the tip of the spear, but Shiroe would be the one ordering launched a volley of arrows, wounding and weaken the enemy line ahead enough for that spear to punch through.

        I must admit, the idea of forcing Kayaba to shift gears away from “Shining Hero battles Evil Overlord in a 1-on-1 Final Battle, Winner Take All” and have to fend off against multiple “main protagonists” is a rather enticing one.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. There’s one quote from a book on NYC cops that’s stuck with me. “If the odds against anyone else being your suspect are a million to one, there are eight of them within a mile of Times Square.”

    People are really bad at grasping numbers and risks when there are that many zeroes–I had a discussion with a guy about vaccine side-effects where he insisted that because the (known, established, etc) rate of serious (maiming or death) side effects for a specific vaccine was roughly one in a million, then it was a wash with their chance of exposure and thus it was OK to require the vaccine.

    I used a variation of that line to point out there were not a dozen cases in New York city, much less serious outcome cases.
    (can’t remember what vaccine it was, just that it’s not currently mandatory and the rate is relatively low before one considers effectiveness and half-life)

    Thing is, he’s quite well informed and IIRC even works in health care…..the number is just too big to effectively grasp.

    Liked by 1 person

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