Power Punch - Chapter 1

Published at 23rd of December 2022 05:28:44 AM

Chapter 1

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LilRora Before I begin the story, I would like to mention a few important things here.

First would be my thanks to QuietValerie, her girlfriend Trashlyn, and Elamimax. These are three authors that had the largest impact on my writing and self-awareness. I won't be describing the details here, but one thing that stands out is QuietValerie's fantastic Trouble with Horns that was the first time I interacted with transgender themes.

All three of these authors showed me a lot both in regards to myself and to writing and I'm eternally grateful for their works and their role in my life. If you haven't yet seen their stories, I recommend you to give them a read.

Now, Power Punch. This story was inspired by the transgender ones I have read on Scribble and will be a sort of introduction to a number of more I intend to write in the future. The writing quality, characters, plot and worldbuilding are not perfect and in many ways worse than in many stories you can find, but they are what they are and I'm trying my best to be a good writer. Power Punch nevertheless is the first story of mine I am personally satisfied with and proud to share.

One last thing, and that's something I'll be saying before every novel I might write in the future. Power Punch features transgender themes, including dysphoria, and includes same-gender relationships (both girls and boys, though the latter is only mentioned). If you're uncomfortable with them, you have been warned. There will be some more or less sexual content as well, including a few kinda explicit scenes later on.

With that said, read on, and enjoy.

The alarm clock starts ringing, the loud, buzzing, intruding sound reaches my brain and tears me out from my peaceful sleep as a small electric signal wakes my brain up to useable state. I slam my hand over the holographic button by my bed and blink groggily. Huh. Did I have a dream? I think I did, something about flames...

I lazily rise up from comfortable bed and rub my eyes, then get up and pull out some clothes from the closet. After dressing up in shorts and casual T-shirt I go to the bathroom for a moment to freshen myself up and then look at the clock displayed by the House AI.

Seven fifty, classes start in ten minutes. Uh, another boring day. At least it will end better today since VOW is getting released.

I go down the white stairs and through the white corridor to the perfectly white kitchen with marble on the walls and flat surfaces. Typical for the middle-upper class my family stands in, and annoyingly so considering that literally every house here is built in this trend.

“Morning.” I say to my mother when I notice her putting on a coat as I sit down on my chair.

“…Morning, Zenon.” She says, turning around and glancing at me, frowning lightly, most likely at my clothes that look very casual unlike what she prefers. “Father went ahead because his boss had something urgent, so you’ll be alone. Learn well in school.”

“Mhm.” I nod, digging into a toast.

As she goes out, I frown in displeasure at the name she uses. I don't yet hate it, but moderately close to that, because of how rough and how businesslike it sounds. Like a dude from your company at somewhat higher position I don't want at all. I am supposed to take over my father's business in some time, but I like that prospect about as much as the economy course I was put on without the option to go my way. Ah, also, because my parents use it, I guess?

After breakfast I go back to my room and sit on a couch, launching the holographic projector and opening whatever I will need for the classes, followed by a chat window that flares to life in the corner.

Alex: Hey, Zeny, wanna talk about VOW? I wanted to discuss our roles a bit.

Zen: Wait a moment, gotta do a few things first.

I quickly type in a reply, smiling wryly at the nickname Alex started calling me with a few months ago, and finish preparations for classes, looking out of the window along the way.

It opens onto a huge wall of glass behind a row of white buildings with a lot of, guess what, glass. It's a huge dome, the outer wall of Acrology Elisium. Planet Gaia, our new home. It was a fair bit higher than Mars on ESI scale and it’s been increased further with terraforming to the point you can walk normally with no suits or anything out in the mostly barren land.

It’s one of the best habitable planet found after Mechanical War around five hundred years ago that wiped out but a single percent of humanity that scattered around the galaxy using wormholes, one of which was found in Oort Cloud.

Things really changed since then, but we live in relatively good times now. Political squabbles are back since times unknown, but we have luxury, safety and quantum FTL Network among other things. It’s been around fifty years since a group of enthusists recreated proper games described in novels from Earth times, and that’s what VOW is.

Or rather, VOW, Veil of Worlds as is the full name, is the next step comparing to most described games. First fully immersive virtual reality game. There were many other VR games before, but not fully immersive, at best they translated feelings from game to your real body, and it was not a complete new body with matching senses where your conciousness is transferred.

And VOW starts this afternoon. So now just survive the classes and we’re good to go.

I sit in a jelly seat with the holographic screen in front of me as the class, or lecture in this case, goes on, and look at the window on the side.

Robert: Hello! Ready for VOW?

David: No shit, I spent like whole night looking around forums and guides.

Derrie: So what are you all choosing? I think I will go spirit and mage.

Robert: Not sure about race, but I’m definitely picking engineer, probably something physical.

David: I’m going full knight, more on damage side.

Alex: You sure about spirit Derrie? It’s like, incorporeal, so it’s a pain in the ass to get used to.

Oh, right, did I mention? It’s not just the fact that you can greatly change your body and you’ll feel the actual virtual body and not the sensations transmitted through your real one, but it’s also possible to make the body completely different than in reality. And it’s not limited to adding additional features like wings, tails or horns, not to things like two pairs of arms or being a chonky stone golem or fucking tiny pixie, but it’s even possible to play as animals, ghosts, slimes, eldritch horrors and a whole lot of other things you'd get a headache only trying to remember.

That’s the biggest attraction of VOW side by side with unique ability and magic system.

Derrie: Yeah, but I like it. And it is great for magic. Allows a lot more flexibility.

Alex: Good luck then. I’m going for spellblade, but race beats me. There are waaaay too much.

David: Practically infinite amount of combinations, so yeah.

Robert: And you’ll be playing a hot chick eh?

Derrie: Yeah! Go for it!

Alex: …No comment. No seriously, I have a good idea, but you’ll see in game.

David: Sure. What about Zen?

Zen: Not sure. I spent whole week thinking about it, but I have no idea what race I should pick. I think I’ll make something with a punch that can take a hit, magic is not my thing. Don't like all the intricacy.

Derrie: Good! We’ll see how it goes, our composition is not bad, but could be much better. Any chance you could get something ranged Zen?

Zen: I'll see, but no promises.

So yeah, a spirit mage, knight more on offensive side, spellblade and engineer, plus me. We have nothing ranged and no healer, but I’m guessing Robert as engineer will get some guns or something, and even without him it shouldn’t be a large problem since spellblade and mage can do good enough in ranged department. Then for healing Derrie should be good enough. You could say we're treating this a bit too lax, but we're here to have fun, not to make the best team. And we can always team up with someone.

Well, so that is that. This conversation says a whole lot about our bunch.

Robert is an engineer and programmer and he always seems to be in good mood. Kinda the joint between others in the group, he always seems to know what to say to make you feel comfortable.

David is a neet no matter what angle you look at him from, unless it’s gay side, and fortunately he is not a hopeless case. Still most likely already with a shiny and showy full plate knight in mind for his character as it is in the anime he watches.

And, an important part, both these guys are gay, or put bluntly, they are… boyfriends? That doesn’t sound exactly right linguistically, but conveys the meaning. And they are a… wild pair, let’s say, because they somehow mesh with each other despite the differences between them, but, well, it’s not my thing to question how their relationship works.

Then Derrie is a kind of a nerd, she is also quite well-known from how well she plays chess. She is the only reason we four dorks can learn something in school, and she is studying economy with me, but her real interests are elsewhere, just like in my case. And she knows a lot of stuff, including magic she already studied quite a bit. I mean, the magic in VOW. Clarify just in case.

As for where she studied magic, there was an article released around a week ago that described the character creation and basics of VOW, including magic, so that players won’t be searching completely blindly. And considering they explicitly stated that one person can have only one character and you need to pay a lot to change it, you don’t want to do something stupid during character creation.

Back to our group, Alex, the last one, is transgender. She has no money for full transition so her body in real life doesn't really look as she wants, but in games for as long as I know her she is playing as a hot, confident and sometimes bashful girl as long as game allows. The technology to fully change your body exists, including even organs in better cases, but it’s stupidly expensive for a number of reasons and even my family wouldn’t be able to afford it easily. I mean, if you want full change. Hormone replacement therapy or other things similar to that are easily affordable and Alex has been on it for a few years, so right now she looks much more like the woman she is than a man how society understands it.

We had one more person in our group, but the guy found himself a girlfriend and went his own way half a year back and we're only occasionally chatting with him. A nice man though, maybe we'll meet with him in VOW. When we talked with him a while back, he was interested in playing, but had little time.

Suddenly a new chat window pops up next to the group one and I look at it.

Alex: Hey, mind telling me what are you looking for in your build?

I scratch my head with a grimace at this question, aware no one is watching me.

Zen: Not like I mind, but I myself am not sure. It’s like, there is nothing calling to me, if you get what I mean.

Alex: Oh, okay. I had similar problem a few years back when I just realized I was transgender, I was like, I know I’m playing as a girl, but no clue what build and how should I look. I needed to discover myself properly. How about going for random then?

Zen: Uh, I thought about it, but that’s a bit… well, risky.

Alex: Dunno about that. If you can’t decide, make yourself a hot flaming chick with huge ass sword or something, you know, go wild, make it on the go. Worked for me personally.

I blink at her example and think for a second.

Zen: Do you remember what can be changed if you randomize?

Alex: I think nothing apart from stats and skills, imma check.

I wait for her reply as I mull over her suggestion and wonder what I could do about it, and the message comes much quicker than I anticipated.

Alex: Two skill trees in limited scope apart from racial one, stat distribution, gender in most cases and minor details in appearance that don’t change overall image of the character.

Zen: Thanks, I think I know what I’ll do. And what about you?

I smirk lightly as I think how wild of a ride it might be.

Alex: Ass I said, spellblade. Though I'm wondering about the hot chick, I'd like to try something different.

I almost choke at what she wrote most likely intentionally and laugh at her confidence. In real life she is much more reserved, but when she plays, she is always a cheeky, confident hot chick, which even became her nickname a few years back despite her protests, and one thing I love about her is how she can express herself freely. I wonder what does she want to try.

Zen: That’s a good one. But I mean, details, if you don’t mind? What are you aiming for?

Alex: Something fast, strong, deadly and with a lot of flexibility. Probably large sword for weapon. I’m thinking about light or thunder for my attribute, and definitely I won’t be going for anything defensive.

Zen: Cool. Have you thought about space or fire? They don’t give speed exactly, but both would be good with a greatsword if you could use it to boost your attacks or propel yourself.

Alex: Not really, I mean, speed is exactly what I want, so yeah. Good suggestion though.

We talked about our builds, mostly Alex's though, and after classes I came down to eat dinner, impatient to play VOW.

“Mechanical are apparently sabotaging our supplies.” My dad says at some point as we are eating. He usually gets to hear a lot of political news at work, and it's not uncommon for him to share some during dinner.

“What!? Again? I swear, these machines should all be destroyed!” My mother practically shouts in borderline furious voice, making me flinch. What a woman.

“Yeah. They are uselful as labor, but they should have never been created.”

“I swear, why can’t people be normal? All those freaks, and now all these AI and machines want their own rights or whatnot.” She says and I barely notice a frown on my dad's face.

“Yeah. They claim that apparently they are normal humans in machine bodies, but I doubt that's possible."

"Hmph. Humans are humans, right, Zenon?”

I barely restrain a flinch at the question flung my way during the usual discussion during dinner. My father brings up a topic, stays more or less neutral, while mother expresses her opinion in the most annoying way you can imagine.

“Mechanical are certainly not normal humans.” I say in bland tone, playing it safely lest I want a lecture about the whole shit. As if I cared about it.

Mechanical are an unknown bunch that are apparently humans whose consciousness was transferred into mechanical bodies. But, you heard it, they are an unknown bunch, so like hell I know what they are for sure and what to think about them.

As for gay and transgender people, because that’s what mother was talking about in roundabout manner, three of my closest friends fit these categories, so, yeah, I’ll surely fuck up my relationship with sixty percent of my friends because of my parent’s worldview, right?

My father nods, though I can’t tell what is it supposed to mean, and turns back to his meal.

“How was school?”

“Not bad. As usual I’d say. Online classes end next week though.”


Damn, it’s seriously bad for my heart.

I wouldn’t say my parents are awful, because they aren’t exactly awful, but they have very… drastic opinions on certain subjects and I need to be careful all the time not to slip up lest they will be awful. And I don’t need to check to know that both would get, like, royally pissed off if they learned two of my friends are gay, one is transgender and one is a nerd on top of the fact I’m learning martial arts and I don’t give a shit about economy course they put me on.

So, yeah, that about sums it up.

I honestly envy David and Robert sometimes. Not in the way of being gay, I’m straight and have no plans of changing my orientation, but it’s just that their parents give them a lot more of freedom and no one raises a fuss about what they do. My parents, to put short, are bigots that will be great to you as long as you don't happen to be in the opposing camp. Especially my mother.

I could only learn martial arts because I do it in VR, so that’s another thing. If my mother caught me doing some moves in the house, she would first question my sanity, then question what the fuck I am doing, make a fuss about how I should be studying economy and not learning useless things, and last make sure I won’t be ‘thrashing around’ anymore. Or something along those lines. There was already an episode with a bike, and I don't want a repeat of it.

After dinner I head upstairs to my room and prepare to go into the pod to play VOW.

It’s a pod with all the systems that keep your body in good condition, feeds it some nutrient goop, removes waste, and in better cases, including mine, with other things like muscle stimulation so that playing a lot won’t lead to muscle loss and atrophy.

It’s also possible to use headsets to go into VR, and I think Alex is either doing just that or has some low quality pod, maybe even a second-hand thing. The point is, these pods are expensive, especially the better versions, but with headsets you need to log out every few hours to eat, pee and basically don’t make a mess of yourself or die for a number of reasons, which can be really annoying and leads to worse in-game experience generally. In a pod meanwhile you can spend at least a few days and even up to months if it’s a top tier pod.

Anyway, the point is, I prepare myself to enter the pod, and by that I mean undress, take a shower and put on the tight, sleek pants from some special material.

When I am ready, I enter the pod, lay inside the oval, three feet tall shape, and watch the lid close over me, the mask that will feed me nutrients positioning over my mouth. Good it has the decency to wait to put the pipe in my mouth until after I lose consciousness.

I wait for a short while as the capsule comes to life, all the systems turning on, and I relax inside just before the world turns blank.

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