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Chapter 18: Down the well again

The world around Leo no longer made any sense. It was wrong to even call it a world, as he fell somewhere between worlds. 

Into a well of constantly warping dimension. 

And the further down he went, the degradation of his probability increased. 

Stuck in the single instant of the blood from the punctured guts flooding his intestines, Leo couldn't even move an inch, not to speak about somehow finding a hold of himself and escaping the dive. 

But there wasn't anything solid around for him to anchor on. Leo's surroundings feel like mere projections of reality, all warped along the well's depth. And in such reality, how could he even go about grabbing something?

Struck between the increasing terror of distancing himself further and further away from the reality and rules as he knew them and the endless and perfectly uniform experience of pain…

Leo sensed it. 

The distant call of the corporate anchor. A link between the world he fell into the well from and the world he originated from. 

It was a faint feeling… But combined with the mind-boggling visuals that Leo's brain made out of his illusory surroundings and the presence of pain extrapolated from the stillness of the torture of having his guts lethally wounded…

Leo found the grip of the reality that no human was allowed to make sense of. 

The pain gave him a sense of reality. 

The call of the anchor gave him direction and the general idea of how the warp distorted the whole of the probability well. 

And the idea of time somehow fit into this picture like the last piece of the puzzle necessary for his brain to dissolve the illusion and give him a sense of familiarity within this weird, warped space. 

'It's like… finally seeing through the optical illusion picture,' Leo thought, finally opening his eyes in the proper way. 

And at this moment, Leo somehow noticed that the spare backpack he grabbed on right as a sword pierced his guts… Somehow ended up still within his grasp in this new, aphysical reality. 

The world around him continued to make as little sense as before. But now, Leo could, at the very least, grasp just how little he understood this distorted space.

But it wasn't about understanding this weird, warped dimension. 

He didn't need to know his way out, as long as he could feel it. 

And feel it Leo did, grasping with all his mental strength at the nearest sense of reality. 

The nature of the distortion around him changed… like its grain suddenly grew smaller and smaller, stretching a random reality out until the influence of this warping grew lesser and lesser. 

Like zooming in on a mathematically perfect picture of a fractal printed on a page that someone rolled into a ball and then stomped onto the ground. 

Once unveiled back to its natural shape and by looking in close enough, one could regain the perfect shadow of the original picture. The fold of each crease, when enlarged far enough, would simply turn into a new, perfectly flat canvas on which the fractal's original shape would return. 

Leo's consciousness zoomed on a fractal of reality just like that, one of the endless branches of the infinitely replicating shape. And yet, if Leo's original world was just like this, simply a different branch of this infinitely replicating and warping fractal… 

Then there was something hidden within this strange visualization of the distorted dimension that made each of its parts… unique. And yet, as if there was some sort of a beginning to this infinitely repeating pattern…

The world coalesced itself back into existence all around Leo. 

He latched so hard on one of the myriad parts of the fractal of reality that it turned into a completely fresh canvas. And just like it happened when his late team emerged upon the plains of that deadly world of bloodthirsty cultivators… 

Leo found himself stranded between the trees, right at the edge of a small clearing. 

A small clearing housed a group of three masked figures and then a group of fewteen armed knights. 

The reality condensing back into what Leo could comprehend also made the time quickly get back in its tracks. 

And with it, Leo fell down onto his knees, blood bursting out of his pierced stomach. 

Keeling over, Leo dropped on all four, his lungs inflating only for his stomach to tense up as his entire body jerked, throwing a choke-full of blood and vomit out of the young man's mouth. 

"Blergh…" 

Struggling to keep himself alive, Leo barely managed to raise his eyes a tiny little bit. 

For now, both parties on the clearing looked at him as if he just came out of nowhere…

Which he, pretty much, just did. 

But this wasn't Leo's first time stepping into a potentially hostile world. And the sight of the barred swords in the hands of both the masked and clearly outnumbered trio and the knights… 

And if that wasn't enough, all the swords Leo could see were already oozing blood!

'Not again!'

But again, this wasn't Leo's first time in a situation like this. And compared to before, he knew just how quickly things could go from awkwardly bad and unexpected to deadly worse. 

'Fuck!'

Screaming out in his soul, Leo simply gave himself to the nanites, surrendering his own flesh and blood to the procedures ingrained in those minuscule devils by the big devil, the Sava megacorp. 

He knew better than to cling on to his humanly freedom and bodily autonomy. 

And the nanites quickly proved Leo was only starting to understand their full potential. 

The young man's body moved faster than his thoughts. 

Before he could even recall he somehow brought over a fresh backpack full of perfectly sorted equipment, his hand already extracted two vial-like items from its insides. 

The first syringe-like object flew from Leo's left to his right. Using the solid cap on its bottom, Leo pushed the lone blade cut off from the sword that pierced him, extracting it out of his flesh without a second of thought. 

Leo's mind exploded in pain when the cold steel brushed and cut his intestines even deeper. And if that wasn't enough, his fingers flicked off the cap on the healing agent before unleashing an inferno of torture upon the wound. 

The healing agent acted as fast as it was merciless. 

Burning Leo's flesh to cauterize the wound, it also fed the gap with nanites specialized in the single task of closing it up. 

This allowed him to spare the general-purpose nanites in his blood while using the ones that, thanks to their particular and single goal-oriented design, fixed the worst parts of the issue nearly instantly. 

While it all happened, Leo's left uncorked the actual syringe with a needle as fat as a horse's… nightmare, before slamming it just slightly above his spleen, directly into the easily accessible vein. 

Leo's body rose up as if a divine puppeteer pulled it up on invisible strings. 

By now, Leo had grown so used to the constant torture of soul-shattering pain that the word started to lose its meaning… Until a fresh, third dose of nanites fused itself into his bloodstream. 

There was a reason why the corporation didn't feed its scouting soldiers several doses of nanites. There was the matter of cost, obviously… but there were also many risks of one's body easily falling into a state of dependency on this modern drug of engineering. 

But in the face of death, what could one, little addiction do?

"Haaa…"

Leo exhaled a long sigh, his body growing still. 

Three of the knights moved. The masked female in the middle of her tiny group took a step back. 

(Who the hell…)

Once again, Leo faced the uncomfortable feeling of having no clue what the other party was talking about. 

'But does it really matter?'

(Doesn't matter.)

A knight with clearly nicer armor and an unwieldy axe stepped forth. 

Leo's left hand reached into his backpack again.

(Kill it.)


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
MotivatedSloth MotivatedSloth

Kekeke :D

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