Chapter 13:

The Secret Ingredient Behind Gamer Girl Bathwater


[ In queue: 19 players ahead of you ]

Not as bad as last time, but there was little excuse for a private server to be this bad at managing its server load. Maybe a quick nap would do to kill time.

After all, he barely slept after the long gaming session yesterday. All the time that was supposed to be spent going through his footage was instead used to research VirtuaSim-related accidents.

What he saw yesterday was etched deeply into his psyche. For a player avatar to perform such expressions of anguish…there simply wasn’t much information he could find online. Not only was the VS not designed to transfer pain, but it was also illegal to do so.

He read a few accounts of people being hospitalised after playing on a modded VS, but they were all self-inflicted. Those stories reported of modded headgear artificially triggering pain receptors in response to the player getting damaged or losing HP. Alice’s scenario was different. Her avatar didn’t receive any damage. It was as if her avatar was portraying what the actual human under the VS was going through.

He changed his focus to a different angle—could hackers hurt someone physically via VirtuaSim?

No dice.

All stories of VS hacking yielded the usual. Info theft, scams, system crashes—a VS isn’t capable of hurting a human being. The equivalent would be one of those antique video game controllers causing harm to the player. Unless you physically threw them at someone, there was no way they could hurt a person.

But just in case, Jason reached out to his brother last night. Food allergies didn’t stop him from making it big in the world. A pentester at a cybersecurity firm, if anyone knew anything about hacking a VS, it would be Peter Null.

According to Peter, hacking a VS to hurt someone was like using a handgun to shoot down a plane. Was it possible? Theoretically, yes, if the bullet just so happened to hit the cockpit’s windshield, just so happened to penetrate it, and just so happened to injure the pilot enough that they couldn’t do their job. But there were so many “just so happeneds” that there was no practical explanation.

But just for safety, Jason installed the Intrusion Detection System that Peter sent him into his VS. It was probably a first for gaming consoles, but considering the risks chasing Black Hat entailed, it might turn into a necessity. Would it stop a hack? No, but it would alert Peter if a threat actor tried to. Besides, no idiot has ever installed an IDS into a VirtuaSim before—the equivalent of setting up an alarm system in your doll playhouse. Him and his stupid examples, Jason chuckled.

[ In queue: 0 players ahead of you ]

He was so lost in his thoughts, it was already his turn to log in. Once again, his mind was whisked away from the real world and into the virtual one. As his eyes flickered open, he found himself on the bed that he marked as his checkpoint.

[ HP: 0 / 0 ]

Good. Glitch’s still there.

The licks of fire on the torches all over danced as he got off the bed. There was no lava trap. The coast was clear. A sigh of relief escaped from his mouth. He didn't need to waste the Heavenforged Desire Alice gave him.

Going through the dinky dirt corridors that he dug yesterday, he found himself right underneath the surface of the ground. One poke from his Stone Shovel and light came spilling through. Like a mole, he stuck his head out, looking around.

Everything changed.

The entire area had been decimated. Any signs of life evaporated. Someone deforested the whole area!

That was when he saw a half-destroyed hut. Was this the decoy house that Alice built? Whatever the case, it definitely served its purpose. As he walked around the dilapidated rubble, relief overcame him.

Alice was there, good as new.

Standing in front of the decoy house, six wings spread triumphantly. Her face was blank, empty even. Did she just wipe out this entire area clean off the planet?

Not exactly. In front of her was a crystal—proof that a player was just killed. With Alice being the one still standing, Jason had never felt happier to see a murderer.

“Morning Alice!”


Using [ Blink ] to appear right in front of him, she surprise attacked him with a hug. The force nearly knocked him down, but he was somehow able to steady himself. Since when was she this touchy? Perhaps the incident last night made her feel a lot more comfortable around him. But the mix of embarrassment and arousal that he was feeling was suddenly replaced with something else.

Alice’s white hair exuded a floral fragrance. Jasmine, camellia, petunia—a mix of traces of pleasant aromas charmed Jason’s senses. He never realised how great her aroma was, or how much he liked it.

But it was wrong.

The VirtuaSim was able to replicate the human sense of smell and transfer said information to the player’s brain. The smell of the outdoors, the dankness of a dungeon, or even the woody, rich aroma of a library—he had experienced all these flavours of the in-game world before.

But there was no way a player could customise their scent. Their clothes, their facial and bodily appearance—all of that was fair game. But shampoos, perfumes—or any kind of scent customisation wasn’t available in Aksara Online. Or any game that he knew of for that matter.

Never once did he encounter a player with a distinct scent from others. Until now.

“Say Alice…”

“Hmm?” she stepped back, pulling away from the embrace.

“You smell great.”

“Oh no!” she wrapped her arms around her body, wiggling them. “A pervert! Whatever should I do?”

“I’m serious. How do you smell so good?”

“Y’know, science says that if you like someone’s smell, it means you’re attracted to th—”

“Players can’t customise their scent, Alice. How’d you do it?”

“Huh?” she scratched her head. “Of course, we can’t customise our scent. I’ve always smelled like this.”


“Okay hold up. Serious question—how do I smell?”

“What, you think I’m a pervert?”

Despite saying that, she leaned in and sniffed Jason, only to immediately pull back, shocked.

“You…actually smell nice. Kinda similar to my bolster…wait what?”

“Okay that’s downright weird,” Jason thought for a while, pacing back and forth trying to make heads or tails of the situation. “You’ve been on the server for so long. Surely you’ve smelled other players before right? Don’t they all smell the same?”

“Hell no! Most of the players here stink! Lizardmen and Orcs smell like animals!”

How in the world…

All players, irrespective of race, smelled the same to him. And for any other player, too. But Alice perceived smell differently, even having her own unique scent. Just what was going on?

A part of him wanted to press further. Alice, there was no such mechanic in the game! Alice, did you modify your VirtuaSim? Did someone do something to you?

But he feared that it might trigger her like yesterday. While the itch to uncover her secret was repeatedly tingling all over him, the last thing he wanted was to hurt her.

At the very least, it didn’t feel like Alice was lying.

“Anyways,” she turned to the crystal, “I’ve got you a gift! Tada~”

Curious, he approached the remains of the dead player. Once he was about an arm’s length away, a popup appeared, revealing all the past belongings of the deceased fellow.

The loot contained a variety of resources, most of which were survival-related, like food and drink. But there were some items that stood out to Jason—a complete set of Leather Armour, with an Iron Sword to boot. As an Adventurer, the class that all players start with, he had virtually no restrictions to the type of Equipment available to him, so everything was up for grabs.

Most Equipment that players find in Aksara Online were either level-locked or Soulbound—only able to be equipped by the first owner. Thankfully, the Equipment that the fallen player had were neither of those. Basic as they may be, they were a great boon to the Lvl 1 Newblood.

The Leather Armour set provided Jason with a cooler look. While not the most fashionable of apparel, it was definitely more dripped out than the starter clothes. Other than that, the armour was useless—it only provided DEF and MDEF bonuses, two stats that were completely irrelevant thanks to his exploit.

The bigger fish in the pond was the Iron Sword. With the ATK it provides, he finally had a way of hurting the Lvl 10+ mobs that wandered Pallas Plains!

To stumble upon so many useful items…Jason thanked the dead player and offered a silent prayer in his heart. May he respawn far, far away from Alice. Amen.

Upon seeing him in his new clothes, Alice scanned him from top to bottom, “Dayum, looking good!”

“Feels great to not be wearing the basic-ass tee and shorts anymore. Thanks Alice,” he said as adjusted his wedgie. “Just curious though, the guy you fought was just a low-level player, right?”


“Why do you need to destroy the whole ecosystem just to get him?”

“He was digging underground near your base. So I got a little mad.”


He had seen her smile, laugh and even cry.

But he swore—NEVER to make her angry. 

Taylor J
Dhamas Tri (dmz)