Steel Soul Online
Steel Soul Online
Author: Jaxer30
The end is where he began

The First VR capsule, The V-1, sold to the market in 2035, was a turning point for the world. The entertainment industry experienced a revolution when this platform came to people's life: VR games, concerts, interactive movies, and books, even tourism! A lot of companies and countries had to keep up with the changes or get left in the dust.

But, the new technology first conceived for entertainment purposes got new uses. Like Architecture projects, martial dojos, military training, prototype testing, even schools, and colleges opened online. The new community born from these advances grew as the technology got perfected over the years.

Ten years later, Steel Soul Online came to bring something new to the table: Magic and science coexisting in one universe. It was the most ambitious project from TriDa games, the official distributor of the first VR capsule model. They promised hundreds upon hundreds of worlds, quests, unique classes, and races, all in just one game.

This story will follow David Torres, a 35 years old lawyer specialized in civil law working in an office owned by a teacher from his college. He has a rather average height of 1.75 meters, light brown hair with some streaks of yellow, and brown eyes. He is a casual player that loves videogames and is the prideful owner of an old V-4 capsule from 2039.

On that fateful night, David got off work a little later than usual because he was reviewing some older cases. It helped him think of a new approach when he was in a tight spot in a case, and he needed a new perspective.

"Goodnight, Mr. Torres," said Patricia, his secretary. "please don't use the highway. There's a traffic jam there."

"Goodnight Patty, Thank you for the advice." Replied the man while stretching his arms and neck. "Your boyfriend comes to pick you up? If not, i can take you home".

"Don't worry...he'll come in a couple of minutes, thank you for the offer anyways" the girl smiled and took two helmets from the lockers behind the counter.

"Just don't get too late tomorrow, ok? I'd hate to nag you about the unmistakable smell of cheap hotel soap." He took the black helmet and left the white one on the desk. "leave the white one. I'll go straight home tonight."

"Ok! and don't worry about that, we'll wait until marriage for those things!" the girl knew he was just joking, so she didn't take it at heart.

"Ok, my bad fine young woman, see you tomorrow" both chuckled a little, and he left the building but turned back before the door closed and left a briefcase on the desk. "Save this too, please, almost forgot it." He waved at her and went to the parking lot shortly after.

He got on his bike and started it with the pedal, it was a customized black chopper bike he got in his 30 birthday, and since then he uses it to travel everywhere.

In a couple of minutes, he left "la Alpujarra" and took a secondary route to go to his home in Envigado, he heard the faint noise of the honking cars on the highway and thanked Patricia in his heart, she saved him a couple of high-stress hours.

"Well...it's still early though, I might get home just in time to watch the Livestream of the launch of SSO." He mumbled to himself when he stopped by a red traffic light. "Maybe i should take tomorrow off to play all night...it's still a couple of weeks before the trial, so it shouldn't be a problem if i took just one day..."

When the light switched to green, he started his bike again. But just before he passed the junction, his brain just blanked. David didn't know what happened, but there was a high pitch noise in his ears, and he couldn't feel his body at all.

---

"Where...am i?"

David woke up against the only tree in an endless grassland. There were flowers of various colors and little animals like bunnies, birds, and some that he didn't recognize, he tried to imagine being in another place, but even after a few attempts, it didn't work. 

"This doesn't feel like a lucid dream..."

He tried to stand up, but a bunny jumped on his lap, he petted it a few times and scratched its head. The feeling of the fur was too real to be a dream.

"I guess this is the end." He softly sighed and closed his eyes. But a burst of soft laughter coming from behind him spooked him a bit, he stood up with the little bunny in his arm and faced the unknown figure, it was a boy of maybe 13 years old with white hair and white robes, and a red cross hanging on his chest.

"You haven't died David Torres, you're just unconscious," said the boy, his voice was like that of a child, creating the impression that he was younger. "My name is Alex! I'm the AI of the capsule you're using right now, you are currently in the San Vicente de Paúl Hospital."

"Unconscious? Capsule? What?" David frowned and let go of the bunny in his hands. He couldn't remember much of what happened that night, no matter how hard he tried. "Can you explain what's going on?"

"Understood~!" the little boy nodded. A screen appeared in front of David, showing him a human body with all the wounds that he received in the accident. "You were involved in an accident. Your motorcycle got hit by a car, and you received multiple fractures in both legs, your right arm is in 4 pieces, and two of ribs got broken: This one and that one! But don't worry! Your lungs weren't perforated, and the helmet saved you from a concussion. And it was merely an accident, so you don't have to worry that the insurance doesn't cover the damages."

"What happened to the other driver?" He crossed his arms and frowned, thinking about anyone that could help him in a possible criminal process.

"The other driver had a heart attack, so he couldn't stop his vehicle from crashing against yours. He is currently recovering in this hospital as well. That's why it's merely an accident." 

"Oh...nervermind, then." He sighed and preferred not to sue, one scuffle with the dead was enough punishment in his book. "Moving on, tell me about the capsule, please."

"Yeah! You're currently in the last model available for the public: The V-10! while you're in the induced coma, you'll stay here and receive notifications when the doctors need to change bandages or something that may arise. So you don't have to worry and enjoy your time here!" the boy sat on a little cloud that appeared behind him and floated in front of him.

"Here, here?" He looked at the grassland, and even if it is a breathtaking sight, he will get bored of it after a couple of hours.

"No, that would be silly, you can request old console games, VR games, movies, even different sceneries to explore! Even Steel Soul Online is possible!"

"Huh...that will be interesting...wait, do my brother knows I'm here? What about my family?"

"Yes! He was the one that signed all the bureaucracy to let you stay here, wait a moment, please." Alex made strange motions with his hands, and a little screen popped up in front of David, where he can see his brother visibly relaxing.

"Heyyo Nanobot," said the older brother with a little smirk on his face." Too bad you didn't die, i was planning to take over the house."

"I will not die so soon, Whale" David showed him his middle finger, and both laughed heartily.

"I'm glad you're ok bro, my heart nearly stopped when i received a call in the middle in the night saying that you were on the street choking on your blood."

"Come on, don't exaggerate, I'd be dead if i something like that happened" he shook his head and laughed softly "...mom and dad know I'm here?"

"Yeah, it was hard to calm them down, they almost boarded the next plane to Colombia" David felt his heart a little warm when he heard that.

"What about Camilo?"

"I can't reach him, not even Milagros' phone was available. Maybe they're just asleep." Andrew shrugged his shoulders.

"Hey, i can play SSO here, so why don't you go home so we can play for a while." Andrew saw the hour and nodded.

"Yeah, the game got launched hours ago, I requested my vacations these days to check you up, I'll be back in a while.

"Fine, see you in SSO."

"Goodnight, Nanobot." Andrew showed him the middle finger to the screen.

"Goodnight, Whale." David did the same thing, and the call ended.

"But it's 8 am, so it should be good morning instead," Alex said, and David just chuckled and patted his head.

"I know, boy, just start the game, please."

"Understood~!"

---

Everything disappeared and got replaced by darkness, then Alex appeared in front of him again. He was smiling at him and was still sitting on that little cloud.

"Welcome to Steel Soul Online! I'll be your AI assistant in the game too, so feel free to ask me anything!" stars illuminated the darkness, and beautiful nebulas formed different and colorful shapes. In front of him appeared three little orbs that looked like planets. Every planet is for a different type of player: the first one is for the ones focused on magic, and the second on technology, but each one has a little of the other system, so you can freely visit anyone you want. The third one is the chaotic zone that many people know as the underworld, meant for players seeking a challenge in their gameplay. You can choose one of them and begin your adventure!"

"Hmmm...The first and second one sounds very standard, but I have all the time in the world to enjoy myself, I'll choose the third one, please."

"Understood~" the first and second orbs disappeared, but the third one grew larger. David could see more clearly see a planet filled with snow, storms, floating continents, and even creatures that were as big as countries walking in the frozen wastelands. His expectations rose to the stratosphere.

"Now, you can choose one of the basic magic affinities and one of the basic technological affinities, or let a roulette choose for you!"

"huh?" he was a little startled, "affinities?"

"Yes! Affinities are the talent in a specific area, see it as an innate bonus for every new player, you can choose between the basic ones: elemental magic, electricity, marksmanship or mechanics. The roulette has more unique ones, but those are more uncommon.

"hmmm...then spin the roulette, I guess." He shrugged, and the little boy nodded before showing two roulettes with a lot of colors, every one representing a different affinity.

"I hope you enjoy your experience! Just call for me, and I'll appear immediately!" the boy disappeared and the roulettes started spinning before stopping 15 seconds later, he heard a cheering crowd and confetti got shot from the darkness.

[CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WON THE "SOUL MAGIC" AFFINITY].

[CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WON THE "MECHANICAL ENGINEERING" TECHNOLOGICAL AFFINITY].

[ENJOY YOUR EXPERIENCE IN NIFLHEIM].

[IF YOU FIND A BUG OR AN EXPLOIT, PLEASE REPORT IT]

---

When David opened his eyes again, he appeared in the middle of nowhere. No character creation, no nickname, even without a body, he was a small ball of light blue fire with black beady eyes that floated over a big frozen wasteland, unaffected by the chilling winds.

"---"

He couldn't speak or do something different from float or see the world around him, he tried to summon Alex with his mind, and he appeared before him unfazed by the freezing temperature.

"Hi David~" the boy waved his hand at him and smiled "I forgot to say to you that special affinities often came with special secondary effects, as you can see, you're currently a bodyless soul! i recommend you to "call" your status screen! I'll explain everything you don't understand, but I'll warn you, this is going to be an info dump!".

The boy sat on the snow and David was left speechless for a moment, he sighed and just accepted it, he had to go through this cliché if he wanted to understand what was going on, it left a bad aftertaste in his nonexistent mouth.

-Status!- he thought, and a screen appeared in front of him.

---

[Name: ???]

[Level: 1 (83 XP left to lv2)]

[Race: Ghost]

[Life points: ∞]

[Mana points: 10]

[Attack: N/A]

[Defense: ∞]

[Dextery: N/A]

[Agility: N/A]

[Inteligence: N/A]

[Spiritual Force: 20]

[Skills](^)

- Possession (Lv 1) (No MP) (v)

The user can possess a body, puppet, golem, or mecha if its ownerless or if the user has a stronger spiritual force than its owner.

- Soul devour (Lv 1) (1 SF/s) (v)

The user can 'swallow' a soul or a ghost to gain a permanent boost to his/her spiritual force. It's the only way to level up for ghosts

- Weak mind blade (Lv 1) (2 SF) (v)

The user can conjure an attack that it's aimed towards the mind of the target, it doesn't affect hp, and only spiritual force is affected

- Weak Telepathy (Lv 1) (1 MP/s):

The user can connect a mind bridge between him/her and the objective.

- Appraisal (Lv 1) (No MP):

The user can 'appreciate' things and obtain information about that thing, the amount of information obtained depends on the ability level

[Affinities] (^)

- Soul Magic affinity

- Mechanical engineering affinity

---

-Huh? Infinite health and infinite Defense, but no attack power whatsoever...- he was silently contemplating the pros and cons about this setting, and almost forgot the existence of Alex. He looked at him after a couple of minutes and the boy waved in response. -Why are my stats like this? They are pretty unorthodox for an RPG-.

"Because you're a Ghost! You see, when you have a special affinity and live in an environment that 'boost' that affinity there's a chance to be allowed to change your race, those are the 'special secondary effects.' you spawned here, so it is logical that you ended up as a ghost". The boy summoned a little cloud and sat there. "Ghosts don't have a physical body, so they're immune towards almost every type of damage. Except for soul attacks, mind magic and soul bound weapons, but that means that they don't have an Attack, Agility, Intelligence or Dexterity stat, and their spiritual force is their life points."

-I understand, but why i don't have Intelligence? isn't that stat used to measure mana points?-

"Intelligence doesn't equal mana points! They're two separate equations." The boy stopped floating and made strange gestures with his hands, and a little screen appeared in front of David, there a ball of flame entered a dead rabbit that left jumping the scene after that. "When you possess a body, you gain the stats of said body. It could be an organic or artificial being, even living beings with weaker spiritual force than yours can be possessed."

-Hmmm...it works for me- he shrugged his nonexistent shoulders -and two last questions: what happens if i encounter another ghost, and why are you answering all of my questions? isn't it against the rules or something like that to say this much information to me?-

"A Ghost can eat another ghost, that's how you level up and gain spiritual force apart from doing missions!" The boy jumped off the cloud, and it disappeared when he touched the ground. "And you're special, the VR capsules for hospitals and rehabilitation centers often use AI to guide the patients in the early stages of the games they play or fully guide them through other things, like social media or learning platforms."

-Thank you for the help, Alex- he 'bowed' towards the little boy, who only laughed at this gesture.

"No need~ it's my job, after all. Any more questions?"

-No, thank you, again- The status screen disappeared, and the boy waved at him before vanishing.

He wandered for a couple of minutes until he saw a forest in the distance, but before he reached, a deer covered in blood jumped to the open, chased by what appeared to be a wolf.

White fur covered the deer, and icy antlers protruded from its head. The wounds in its stomach and neck that tainted the snow with every step it took. The wolf was pure white too but had eerie blue eyes and parts of its skin missing, even the bones of its ribcage were visible, and a pale blue light could shine through them.

In a swift motion the wolf slashed its claws and a blue blade shot towards the deer, it didn't cut his skin but passed directly through it and vanished when it touched the snow, the animal lost the focus on its eyes and dropped dead.

-Well, that was pretty shocking, I hope TriDa has a parental switch because this can cause nightmares for children and their legal team if not.- He sighed and remained where he was watching the wolf, who noticed his presence.

The animal opened its mouth towards him like he was inhaling something, and it was, David felt a strange force pulling him, and before he could process the situation, he was swallowed up by the wolf.

[YOU DIED]

[THERE IS NO PENALTY FOR DYING BEFORE LV 5]

[YOU'LL RESPAWN IN A RANDOM AREA IN 5 SECONDS]

He was speechless and confused about what happened and how he ended up dying. He thought about it for a second and remembered his skills.

-Of course, that was soul devour.- He sighed and decided it's best if he could possess a body to be more comfortable. He waited until the timer got off and appeared in a new area: A destroyed city littered with corpses.

-That one will do- he said to himself while approaching the half-buried body of a middle-aged man, it had a muscular body with a sliced-off head that was a couple of meters away. -Well, being a dullahan doesn't sound that bad, at least i can scare my brother when i encounter him-, he chuckled a little before touching the corpse with his flames

-Possession!"

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