Chapter 8:

Racing into the Nide


Maniavolution had been a blast so far. Maybe too much.

He expected a warm welcome. Instead, he was greeted by the devil, and death followed closely behind.

Death to everything that came his way, at least.

Yet, despite several close encounters and ageing several decades over, Jason was as weak as he first started. And he was about to get weaker.

Alice and Jason were caught off guard by the sound of a growl. No enemy in sight, but the devil was ready to throw hands at the slightest movement.

“Eyes open, Jason. I don’t recognise that sound,” she clutched her weapon tightly. Shoulders tensed. This was an adversary she had not faced before, and being careless was the fastest way to die on this server.

“Hey Alice, I think that came from me…”


It was the sound of the Hungry affliction. Typically, players never needed to worry about their hunger and thirst—resources were abundant in the official release. But such luxuries were a pipe dream in Maniavolution. Thanks to her class, Alice didn’t need to care about basic needs, but the same couldn’t be said for Jason.

Jason looked through his status. If his needs reached zero, he’d be taking damage over time. While his exploit meant that he’d survive, being Hungry still caused him to move 25% slower—a highly undesirable debuff. Couple that with Thirsty for another 25%, and he might as well be playing as his actual self in real life.

“Say, you don’t happen to have any food on you?”


“What? You photosynthesise then?”

“Nonsense. I’m an Abyssal Reaper. I’m free from base desires such as hunger.”

Abyssal Reaper?

Jason had never heard of that class before. If anything it was probably a later addition to the game. All things considered, it was a fitting class for Alice. She probably ate human souls instead of food, he thought.

“But we are in a bit of a pickle. I don’t like you slowing me down anymore,” she bit her thumb, weighing the options in her head. “Oh well, it can’t be helped then."

Holding an engraved gem out of her hand, she chanted, “Come forth, Abraxas!”


It was a name all too familiar for Jason. As the boss of the first act of Aksara Online’s mainline quest, Abraxas was known as “the wall”, the first major difficulty spike in an already punishing game. Beating Abraxas was a rite of passage of sorts—it separated the ordinary gamers from the AO gamers. Jason himself spent countless attempts trying to slay this wretched beast.

The ground before them began to quake as lightning bolts struck in five corners, forming a pentagon. Jason steeled himself. Was Alice summoning the boss as another bizarre exploit? Was it friend or foe? Regardless, countless memories began to resurface once more. Part of him didn’t want to meet the boss that made him cry as a child.

A low, malformed gobbling sound seemed to reverb around the air. Smoke poured out from the earth as before them stood the gargantuan physique…

…of a chicken.

Unable to contain his shock, Jason fell to his knees.

“I know right?” Alice smugged, “Back on the official servers, I couldn’t get him. But here, I did it.”

The absolute unit of a chicken was indeed Abraxas, but in a chicken cosmetic skin. It was an extremely rare mount, part of a collaboration with Chickawings. Only players who visited the fast food joint in real life were eligible for a raffle. Alice didn’t have a real life.

Snow white feathers. A magnificent red comb. It was no different than a hen, just the size of a pickup truck.

“What, you want me to eat him?”

“Are you insane?! Braxy is like a child to me! How dare you!”

Great, she even gave him a nickname…

Jason may be unkillable, but his brain cells were not. They were dying at an alarming rate, unable to fathom that the cockatrice that gave him sleepless nights as a young boy was just a domesticated farm animal.

“We shall ride Braxy towards Pallas Plains. But we have to be careful.”

“Why didn’t we use him EARLIER?!”

“Because the MOBS, Jason. They’ll eat poor Braxy alive…”

If he facepalmed any harder, damage numbers would appear.

Poor Braxy my ass. That thing looked stupid! It’s stupid! Good lord, she treats people like ants but her pet chicken like royalty! Which time traveller messed up the timeline for humanity to come to THIS?!

“You should feel honoured Jason. I’m putting Braxy in danger just so that your starving ass won’t slow us down. Hmph.”

“Oh god, just kill me please.”

“I’d love to, but I can’t. Now get on the steed. Chop chop.”

Haemorrhaging mentally, Jason grabbed Alice’s hand, yoinking him on top of the oversized poultry.

His soul left his body. Once as a child, when he faced Abraxas head-on. Now, as an adult, when he faced Abraxas’s back.

“Onwards, Braxy! Be one with the wind itself!”

Braxy ran, and ran like the wind he did. To its credit, Braxy was extremely fast. The only mount Jason ever had was a pony. Comparing the two, Braxy was like an F1 car, cutting across Novice Island at breakneck speed—an apt description considering its head which oscillated back and forth like a metronome.

Jason suggested, “It can fly right? Why aren’t we flying?”

“Did the exploit affect your brain, too? Mounts don’t fly. At least, not until the Hysteria update. And we don’t talk about the Hysteria update.”

Flight and aerial combat did end up in Aksara Online much later, but the mechanics were handled so poorly that NGPlusworks, the studio that bought over AO, was slapped with a hefty class action lawsuit over thousands of players getting hit by nausea and vomiting episodes.

Thankfully, riding on an ultra-rare mount like Braxy was like riding on a luxury convertible with the roof down, wind kissing your face. For Alice, that was. Jason didn’t know where to put his hands as he sat behind his partner.

“It feels nice, right?” she asked.


Alice sighed, sensing the discomfort of her companion.

“You know, it’s obvious you’ve never ridden on a bike before. If you’re sitting on a bike…” taking his hands, she placed them around her waist, “...this is where you put them.”

“You…ride bikes?”

Not only was it an extremely rare method of transportation these days, the image of Alice riding a motorcycle was…difficult for him to imagine.

“Behind my dad? Yeah. I don’t own a license. Used to bring me around town for joyrides.”

“Used to, huh?” he muttered under his breath.

“Sorry, you said something?”

“Oh—I meant that’s cool! You just didn’t strike me as that kind of person, is all.”

“What kind of person do I strike you as, then?”

Jason paused. He didn’t really know where to go with that question. It just felt…off. Being this casual with Alice.

“I don’t know…you want my honest opinion, or the answer I think you want me to say?”

“Honest opinion.”

“Chicken-loving, new player-hating, killing-obsessed AO junkie.”

“Haha! Chicken-loving. I like that,” she looked down, somewhat unsatisfied, “How bout the other one? Hit me with what you think I want to hear.”

“You really know how to enjoy life.”


“If I’m wrong, you can say it to my fa—”

“Life, huh?” she looked up, really pondering what he just said. “Isn’t it ironic? The one who enjoys life does so by taking others?”

He’d always felt that Alice was somewhat off. But this time it was different. She wasn’t being one screw loose in the head-kind of off. There was a sadness in her voice down there. Bittersweet, even.

“I find it fitting. In this crazy server where everything’s gone tits up with actual crime, you’re just one girl making sense of it all in her own way.”

Adjusting her hair, she smiled at him as she looked back.

“I want that in the documentary.”


“One girl making sense of it all in her own way…I want that as my character introduction. I want the audience to remember me that way.”


“Thanks Jason. It’s been really fun. Thanks for putting up—”

“—Bah! Stop it. You’re being sappy. Out of everything I said so far, sappy ain’t it, chief.”

“Whatever you say, Mr Filmmaker.”

Cruising through the day on a large chicken, Jason noticed that blades of grass were starting to pepper the landscape. Some semblance of normalcy has returned. They’ve finally made it past Novice Island and into Pall—

“Jason, hang on tight!”

Alice drifted, steering Braxy at an angle while maintaining momentum. The sudden jerk caused Jason to grab her tightly by the waist. But this wasn’t the time to feel all shy and embarrassed.

A Tyrannosaurus rex had appeared.

“What the heck is that doing here?!”

There was no T-rex in the original game. Like Braxy, someone modded it into Maniavolution. The dinosaur towered above the chicken, several times its size. Perhaps it was fitting—a match between an ancestor and its descendant.

“What a weak mob,” Alice snorted. “And here I was thinking you were a subspecies…

Give ‘em hell, Braxy!”

As the T-rex roared, Braxy clucked. But there was a reason why Abraxas was such a popular mount. And the chicken was about to demonstrate it to Jason first-hand.

[ Medusa’s Wink ]

In a heartbeat, the mighty reptilian found its body refusing to listen to its commands, for it had been Petrified. Mounts weren’t ideal for combat, but many of them had a unique skill that gave them some form of utility.

Braxy’s skill just so happened to have one of the highest Petrification rates in the game.

Seeing the T-rex shatter as Braxy charged through sent shivers down Jason’s spine. This was the same way he got game over’d so many times when he fought Abraxas long ago.

Best to think twice about calling this chicken stupid.

Taylor J
Dhamas Tri (dmz)