AS, V1, Chapter 2: Talent

I arrived a lot earlier than I expected. Obviously I used my bedroom computer to check on the internet the moment I arrived. Rather than ethernet or wifi, it worked through more magical means. From what I could tell, the Apocalypse hadn’t begun yet. I also had no clue what kind of calamity it would be, but I wasn’t about to take any chances by leaving the house.

One look out the bedroom window and I could tell it was the middle of the day. Then I looked closer and noticed that I had a beautiful view of the ocean. I was on a beach, but that didn’t really matter. My house could survive space travel; even being underwater wouldn’t be that dangerous, just bad for business. Though if it was a world of merfolk, then things would be different.

Anyway, the house was basically invisible to normal humans, animals, it wouldn’t even show up on most electronic devices. When I went downstairs, I could see two idiots on opposite sides of the building, talking with each other casually. As if they were only a few feet away.

“With such an obnoxious location, it’d be weird if someone didn’t notice.” I couldn’t help muttering to myself, it had been a really long time since the last time I spoke to anyone. Since I had so long to prepare, my storefront was already stocked and ready to go… For example, I had shelves along every wall, with a bunch of glass display cases near the backroom door. I had a small little area that was protected by a magical barrier, so even if they tried to rob me, it would only be a mild inconvenience. Then again, before the end began, it was unlikely for anyone to be able to harm me through conventional means.

If they walked into my shop with a rocket launcher, I’d just kick them out before they had the chance to destroy anything. By kick them out, I mean that I would press the dangerously red button on my desk, and they would be teleported away to some random, distant location. If they really pissed me off though, I would press the black button, which would send them directly to the Chaotic Void.

Just kidding, that would be way too expensive and mana-consuming. I just had a few guns behind the counter. If they tried to hurt me or damage my property, I would just shoot them. There really was a mana-barrier that could be deployed in emergencies, but it only activated when I needed it.

I actually could teleport people, though it wasn’t random or a form of attack. For a hefty price, I could send my customers anywhere on the planet. I even sold personal teleportation devices that would allow them to return to my shop. It was a pretty sound marketing tactic, but not something I could afford to do in the early days of an Apocalypse.

As I checked the desolate kitchen for some snacks to much on, I realized a terrifying problem: I was almost completely out of food. I had ten sustenance pills, but they were absolute emergency rations. I wouldn’t use one of those nasty things unless I was about to starve to death. There was a can of mixed vegetables and five frozen terror-geist eyeballs, but that was about it. The eyeballs were for alchemy, so I had one option.

***

As I was sitting at the counter, eating unseasoned carrots, green beans, lima beans and corn out of a small can, someone appeared in front of my front door.

“Jamie, I don’t think they’re open… Or even a store. There’s no sign or anything.”

Ah, I had totally forgotten to put the sign up. Well, I was afraid to go outside, so it would have been a little difficult. Anyway, I used the computer on the counter to unlock the door without having to actually walk over there. Then I watched as a little girl opened it and walked inside.

“Ah, excuse me, we were just walking along and noticed a umm, building in the middle of the beach.” The tall man behind her, closed the door as he followed the child into room.

I opened my mouth to speak, but my voice wouldn’t come out… It was kind of embarrassing, so I cleared my throat and then told them, “Feel free to look around. I buy and sell all sorts of things.”

“Wow, so this is like a pawnshop then?” That grey-haired man was immediately drawn to the wall on my left, while his daughter had much more expensive tastes. She was already looking at the items that were in the glass cases in front of my counter.

Now, while every merchant has their own tricks of the trade, mine are a lot more specialized. When you’re selling ‘Superpowers’, you really need to know a lot about a person’s medical history and ancestry. Otherwise, they might die due to an allergic reaction or some other incompatibility. Thus, I utilized my original Superpower: Eyes of Identification.

[Scanning targets… Targets have been identified.]

[Name: James Jordan
Age: 63 of 112
Titles: Potential Hero, Decorated War Vet, Peace Maker
Ancestry: African, though his ancestors have been in North America for several generations, at least 5% Cherokee Native American.
Profession History: Originally wanted to be a carpenter, but lacked talent. Became a soldier in the United States Army at 18, until he retired at 30. Fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing approximately 31 humans directly. Became a police officer and worked his way up to Captain after 20 years of service. However, he retired at 61 and has been mainly focusing on raising his daughter since then.
Notable Skills: Running D, Firearms Handling E, Commanding E, Training Instruction E, Knife Wielding F, Boxing F, Grenade Lobbing G.
Notable Talents: Adaptability D, Survivalism E, Danger Sense E, Child Rearing F, Training F, Fighting Instincts G.
Medical History: Tonsils Removed, Appendix Removed, Mildly Allergic to Chocolate and Cow Milk, One Gunshot Scar on the left shoulder, A Knife Scar on the Right Thigh, PTSD, Very Healthy Overall.
Observable Stats: Impressive for a Human, Roughly 1.1 on Average.
Superpower Potential: C to B.]

[Name: Jamie Jordan
Age: 12 of 28
Titles: Potential Villain
Ancestry: African, though her ancestors have been in North America for several generations, at least 2.5% Cherokee Native American.
Profession History: None.
Notable Skills: Cellphone Texting B, Keyboard Typing C, Firearms Handling E, Knife Wielding E, Boxing F, Grappling G.
Notable Talents: Adaptability B, Training B, Danger Sense C, Fighting Instincts C.
Medical History: Tonsils Removed, Adenoids Removed, Sterile, Survived Leukemia but is likely to have a relapse soon, Suicidal, Very Unhealthy Overall.
Observable Stats: Terrible, Roughly .4 on Average.
Superpower Potential: A to S.]

“Holy shit…” I whispered to myself. Yeah, I was really surprised at how lucky I got. Well, it kind of goes with the territory that the sooner you reach a planet, the better odds of finding talented people. To put things in perspective though, I had never actually seen anyone with A to S Superpower Potential. That was like, the ability to defeat the Demon King or Conquer the World by the end of the Apocalypse.

Of course, the main problem with Jamie Jordan was that she was basically dying. She wouldn’t have survived for long, even if her world wasn’t on the verge of cataclysm. So in a lot of ways, she was extremely fortunate to be in Ocean City Maryland on the day that I happened to arrive here. If Luck was a Statistic that could be quantified by my ability, hers would probably be around 10, which is likely the maximum. Then again, it’s hard to say she was fortunate at all, considering that she spent most of her childhood on the verge of death and then she was going to have to grow up in some form of hell.

Ranks for skills and talents start at G and go up to SSS, though I’ve never seen anything above A. Skill Ranks can be improved over time, but Talents are usually static. There are ways to improve Talents or even create new ones, though it’s often better to just focus on improving Skills instead.

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