This post has the following content warnings:
Mar 28, 2023 1:45 AM
The System welcomes all to the Tutorial, even isekai'd catgirls
+ Show First Post
Total: 279
Posts Per Page:

Yep, fwomp she goes onto the ground, although she lands gracefully, poised to spring up.

Neat! (Ow.) So she can make essence just like the Pack Rats, she was wondering that!

Oops, she left her leather strip on the floor where she was dropping things; she rises and goes back to get it.

So, what just happened? She just had the impression of learning a skill. Actually learning a skill and practicing it for a year and then using it to perform a feat requiring all the previous practice, and being able to remember all the work that went into the practice, is evidence of not being in a Nexus. Because that's the secret: a Nexus doesn't actually make you live a thousand years in the space of a week, it just feels like that. With a whole bunch of other drugs to make it romantic or agonizing or noble, etc. (If the telepath is reading her mind then he already knows the secret... in general, she's not even trying to defend her mind from him; he's way too powerful.)

Unfortunately, crafting with Mana and Loot and Essence doesn't really exist, so if she hallucinates a doing a bunch of it, she might not notice inconsistencies the way she would notice, say, repetitive dance steps or an unrealistic order of mastering musical skills.

If it were possible to actually teach someone a skill in a Nexus, that would be sooo useful. The whole reason her father had her and her fur siblings was to give them a better education (and genetic modifications) than a Man child could get. And he invented the Nexus, so he's the perfect person to do this, if it's possible.

So that's one theory: her father is trying a new "Education Nexus" on her, with a fake skill that will be useless in a real world. And if she also ends up shattered and heartbroken, so much the better. Or it's one of the possibilities she already considered: it's just a normal Nexus and her "crafting" knowledge won't actually be solid, or it's a telepath playing a game with her.

Strolling out of the store again, she fills her mind with thoughts of how she Wouldn't Hurt A Fly. "Hello? What did you see, sir?" Is that person still here?


He's still there! Two guys in work clothes standing next to a pick-up truck in the parking lot, holding sledgehammers. 

"Hey, kid! Get over here, it's not safe! I saw more of those monsters running around a second ago!"

"The heck is she wearing?" 

"Keep a lookout, Sam, stay sharp. Whole world's gone insane now."


Is that an off-road car? How rustic.

She ambles over to 'Sam' and gives him and the other Man shallow bows. "At your service, sirs.

What monsters, if you please?

Oh this?" She looks down at her clothes, lingering a little and brushing one hip. (She's wearing a low-cut blouse and flowy pants, both made of light silk, red with black accents.) Wry smile. "My date stood me up."


"I don't know, they just started appearing out of nowhere. Gross pigs and a couple weird possum looking things so far. They just come charging at us as soon as they spot us, so don't go wandering please."

"You're wigging me out, kid. Is this an anime thing? I think I've heard of that. Cat people, something like that. Cat maids?"

"What do you know about anime?"

"My kid watches it sometimes. I don't get it, but whatever, some of it's not too sketchy."

"Anyway you're being rude to her. Fucking hell - pardon my French. Sorry about your date, but I don't think today is a good day for anyone. You seeing these blue boxes too, miss? I'm a Thug now, apparently. We're just trying to figure out what's going on. We're just landscapers, got a couple of buddies who went out to find out more. The truck's dead. All the cars and phones are, and the power's out."

"You live around here? I think we could give you an escort home, maybe."


"Ah, I've seen some of those! Thank you, sir."

She bows again to give herself time to think. Cat ... 'people'? As opposed to natural cats? But why 'maids'? It's normal for cats to be maids sometimes, although it's more of a dog thing... Oh, he must be one of those Men who thinks cats are only for sex, and that dressing them up and making them clean things in front of the whole household is perverted. ('People', then, meaning people capable of behaving in polite society.) And, furthermore, he thinks that there are educational programs for children that explain this away as them being maids... instead of just accepting that cats are actually maids sometimes!

So, while she should still hide her true intelligence, she should demonstrate her manners and self-control as much as she can, and stop trying to be infatuating.

What if cats here are actually not as smart, as disciplined? Then she's going to have to be more careful to blend in...if she wants to blend in. She suddenly realizes that she's been reckless. Here, a lost cat is - a lucky find to snap up.

And then the Man says he'll take her home. Which is a huge relief, except she does not live here, and anyway getting the telepath or her father to fake taking her to Chooda wouldn't actually accomplish anything.

"Thank you for your magnanimity, sir, but there's no need for you to trouble yourselves. I'm just visiting from the city." Most places have a 'the city', right? "Where cats may be employed as maids, and that is, both in theory and in practice, perfectly respectable."

Wait, they're landscapers? That must be pretty fancy landscaping!

She links her arms behind her back as an attentive Man student world; she already had her ears perked forward and still, as does a polite fur. "I regret that I have not had the time to cultivate an appreciation of landscaping, living in the city. Would you be so kind as to situate your art in context for me, sir?" Calling himself a 'Thug' must be the same sort of countersignalling humility as calling himself a mere landscaper. "I see the blue boxes too, sir. I'm a Bard."


"Bard? Okay, Bard. Can you pied piper the monsters, I wonder?"

"Miss, you don't have to act all - whatever this is."

"Let it be, Sam."

"It's weird!"

"People deal with things in all kinds of ways. Let it be."

Sam starts pacing around the truck, looking around nervously and muttering.

"Look- All we do is plant flowerbeds and hedges and stone walkways and stuff. I have no idea what's going to happen next. But we got a plan. In just a few minutes I'm sure, the boss is gonna be back and all us Dave's Landscaping boys are going to head out as a group to gather our families, then go to the workyard. It's a bit out of town, big concrete walls. It'll be safe-ish, we can wait for the police and the Army to figure things out."


She nods at the plan. "How far is your workyard, sir?"

He likes ancient literature? The downside of sidestepping Men's school is that she can't think of any witty literary reference to respond with. "Regrettably, playing the pipes makes my whiskers buzz. I was offered an 'Enthralling Performance' Class Power, which can hold someone's attention, but I wasn't sure if it would work on monsters so I didn't take it.

I have an upgraded ambush attack, I can dance for extra speed while fighting with my claws, and I have 'Stage Presence': I stay calm when disrupted as long as I am, in some sense, putting on a show." Compared to how she thinks cats usually act around here, that should be a believable lie, so that she's claiming to have spent about the right number of points.

She's not sure if it would be impertinent to ask about their Class Powers and Upgrades, or even if they're both 'Thugs', so she doesn't.


"That sounds like it'll be useful. Uh, it's six miles down the highway. Still in the suburbs, but far enough to be a bit out of the way. I'm John, by the way, what's your name?"

"We should loot the fucking seven-eleven, man," Sam says. "All we have there in terms of food is shitty coffee and mints."

"We're gonna take stuff from pantries. Also, that's stealing."

"Power's out, all the meat and dairy is gonna go bad anyway. I've decided, I'm gonna pick Mason, I'll be a Mason. Maybe it'll let me make magic walls to deal with the fucking magic monsters."

John rubs his temples in frustration.

"That's- Not a bad idea actually, given how today's going. We have a wheelbarrow, we can leave some cash for them... The pigs gave us some meat but I don't want to have to rely on that, no sir."

"Aren't video games supposed to give us inventories?" Sam grumbles.


Bow. "C'Esther, at your service." She pronounces it like 'kest-uh'.

Normally if she stole something it would legally be on her father, who would punish her, but given the givens... Also if they're talking about the place with the refrigerators where she was earlier, she already stole from it, oops. (She thought it was abandoned! She didn't even try the food because she thought it had spoiled long ago!) So she'll quietly go along with whatever they decide.

She nods at the magic walls.

"What's an inventory, sir?" Also what's a video game but she doesn't ask that aloud.


They glance at each other. Kid must not get out much. But they're going along with the weird by now.

"These boxes are acting like we're in some kind of game, right? In some games the player can carry way more stuff than they actually would, a power called Inventory. I asked but it said 'you cannot purchase any relevant Class Powers'. So Sam, maybe some people get inventories, but not-"



"Dodge when it gets close!"

And then the Lv. 3 Glutton Pig is charging straight at the trio. John yells and raises his sledgehammer, while Sam dodges away.


"Ooh, I wonder - ah!"

Oh no she startled - actually it's good if they think she wasn't 'putting on a show' right then

- oh those natural pigs move faster than she thought, it's good she didn't try to grapple the other one from below

- she should stay moving - Dancing Claw

She dodges, kicks the Pig's rear ankle (she's wearing sorta tightly-fitted sandals or open-toed moccasins that expose her claws), and jumps back with her other leg. That leads into a twirl-jig she composed, so she follows it: step to the side, spin around, and now she's ready to kick again.


The pig lashes out a kick with a hind leg towards her as it passes, missing. The pair of men swing their sledgehammers and hit with meaty thuds, dodging out of the way of the charge at the last moment. The pig strikes the side of the truck, leaving a dent in the metal, then immediately turns and tries to bite John the 'Thug'. John kicks it, scrambling back, and Sam swings again, hitting a rear leg. The pig squeals in outrage, and runs forward again, managing to headbutt John rather viciously, knocking the wind out of him and sending him sprawling to the ground.

But then, all this gives her more opportunities to kick and claw, and Sam the chance to whack it with a heavy chunk of metal again. That's about the time the thing collapses.

Lv. 3 Glutton Pig defeated!
Your contribution: 30%
Bonus experience for defeating an enemy above your level (+0.2)
117 Experience gained!

"God, that hurts!" John starts sitting up again. "I'll be fine, I'll be fine - that took twenty something HP off me, looks like, but it's coming back. Thanks for the help, both of you."

"We need guns," Sam complains. "Loot. Are those actual claws?"

The sparkling energy process starts on the pig.

"Did the System - transform you?" John asks, grimacing.


Whew. That was a lot harder than the Lv 1 Glutton Pig. Will she get that much stronger when she's Lv 3? The Men implied the blue boxes just started appearing recently, so it can't have taken that long for the natural pig to get to Lv 3.

She focuses on the word Experience. Any more information that?

"The system made me a bit stronger when I selected a class? ...ah, cats usually have claws at home." Now there's a worrying line of thought, but the Men were astonished more than scornful, so probably around here they just always grow cats without claws, rather than creating them with claws and then making a show of cutting them off.

"Is there anything worth salvaging in your truck, sirs?

Have any of your collaborators made a study of 'crafting'?"


Deep breaths, John. Deep breaths. "Heck if I know. Maybe someone can get it running again later if they become a Mechanic." He throws his hands up in the air.

"I still say we've got to actively go hunting these things. I bet most folks are just hiding out in their homes, and I think they're getting stronger. And, no, crafting? System, what's crafting?" His eyes go distant as he reads an invisible box.

System Inquiry Detected

Remaining Tutorial Duration: 9 Days, 23 Hours, 32 Minutes

Experience is a reward for accomplishing various tasks. Experience is used to increase your Level, and rarely for other benefits. Defeat enemies, explore locations, and craft items to earn Experience!

You have 217/1000 Experience to next Level.


She stands behind him, arms spread to catch him if he falls.

"I was thinking, sir, that someone - possibly me, I theoretically know how to 'craft' - could make an inventory with Glutton Pig leather and Pack Rat Essence. That's why I asked about the truck. Is there anything shiny or fiddly we can get anywhere? We could take some while hunting, sir, and trade it to any Pack Rats we see?"

Hunting sounds like a good way to get experience! And food, that's important too.


"You can trade with them? That's good to know, that's important information. We've got some tools and things in the back..."

"I saw something come out of the store just before you, were those the, uh, Pack Rats?"


"Yes, sir! I got some things for them that they couldn't reach and they gave me this." She reaches all the way into her shirt, turning away modestly, which isn't going to make her any less attractive but hopefully avoids angering the Men, and pulls out the gem to show off. "I could use one of those inventories myself..."


They glance away.

"Why don't you try it with what we've got already?"

He points to a small pile of bits of leather, tufts of fur, meat-bundles, and two big teeth sitting by one of the truck wheels.


She nods.

Sits down by the pile, adds her own leather and meat to it.

She has a bunch of fragments of procedural skill, really just visions of Mana moving and clumping and snapping. She does not have any broader instincts, like, so you want to make a bag of holding, here's what you need, or, so you want to carry stuff, here's the kinds of things you can make. Does she want a bag of holding, or multiple pockets that magically share a mouth, or a cloak that you can stick things to, like the Pack Rats stick things into their fur, or a necklace that makes her own fur (much thinner and softer than the Pack Rats' fur) sticky? It would be inconvenient if she has to take her shirt off to stick things to her back, where it's thickest...

She pulls some Mana out of herself and stretches it between two of the leather strips, watches how a seemingly random part expands and tears into loose fibers, globs it back together... She sings to herself and repeats this process in rhythm, trying different movements as she stretches the Mana: graceful, jarring, relaxed, tense, sensual, commanding.

And nope, crafting isn't anything like dancing. None of her sense of what makes a good dance (to the eyes, to the body, to the ears) means anything to the Mana.

But she has the disembodied sense that she finished doing something. Is it a Magic Thing? What materials did she use? How much did she waste?


There's an ineffable sense of being drained- A bit like being chilly, a bit like being parched. Her Mana is gone, most of it, at least. Most of the work was working with the materials - what they wanted to be, how they wanted to combine, what sense of purpose and stubbornness was in them. She's used all the leather and all the tufts of fur and her Pack Rat Essence, but now she has a thick and slightly ugly pinkish-brownish cloak, with grey possum fur trim on the hem and three pairs of pockets and collar, and rawhide ties instead of buttons on the front-

Coat of Pockets Lv. 3

Quality: 2%

The coat's six pockets each contain an internal volume of 3.3 cubic feet. Items of any shape can fit. Items carried in the pockets weigh 6% less.

Self-sizing (Humanoid).
120 Experience gained from Crafting!

John claps politely. "Well, that's definitely magic."

"Give it here, I'll fill it with food from the store," Sam says.

"Don't be stupid, who knows if there's a monster in there?"

"Then come with me!"


A Magic Thing!

Huh, there was a box a while ago with her hit points and something else called 'MP', does that measure Mana? Hit Points? Mana? she tries asking the system; if that doesn't work John at least knows how to read his hit points, but she doesn't want to let on that she doesn't know.


She hands the Magic Thing to Sam.

Her pork is still in the pile of materials but she can't take it back now... Oh well, she had nothing an hour ago, she'll just have to stick with these Men until she has a chance to hunt or trade some more. They seem nice.

HP: 60/60
MP: 43/110

Her MP ticks up to 44/110 as she watches.

"Oh, thank you. Yeah, hopefully we can get enough stuff to make two more of these, one for everyone. Or even more. Or different magic gear. Lots of stuff to get, huh... We can all go together. Watch each others' backs. Maybe look for nice junk to give the Pack Rats. We've all got a level now, we're not helpless."

"Oh, you did grab Mason? ...And we're back to looting." Sigh. "Fine, I get it. End of the world as we know it! Why not! Standing around at a time like this sucks. I'll get the wheelbarrow. Better than sitting here waiting for Dave."


Back into the store, then! She takes point, since she's the fastest; if something jumps her, she can dodge and the Men will have a second to maneuver their heavy hammers.

Also she can point out Pack Rats if they see any, before either side attacks.

It would make tactical sense to be putting on a show right now, so she can't get startled, but it would also make tactical sense to be quiet so she can Pounce, and that Class Power is real, so. 


The two guys stick close, quieting down as they all sweep the store. There's another Glutton Pig hanging around the back entrance, easily dispatched (40 XP for her, giving a total of 377).

Once inside, John points to the stock room first.

There's a lot of dust and general junk on the ground, it's pretty messy. That might be why nobody notices the thin white threads laying across the ground until they suddenly pull together in a net, binding C'Esther's legs together with a sticky mess and yanking her upside-down into the air! She comes face to face with a spider that's at least three feet across, nesting in the rafters. It clicks its pedipalps rapidly.

(Her companions are busy shouting in outrage and horror down below.)

Total: 279
Posts Per Page: