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Alden Myro
Alden Myro
I’m a newbie writer who is still in the process of learning and unlearning.
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Alden Myro
Hello there!
Thank you for taking the time to visit my SubscribeStar page! I really appreciate it! To make your visit worth your while, allow me to explain what this project is all about.
I launched this personal endeavor as a means for my creativity and imagination to manifest into reality. I will be writing poems and serialized fiction novels about topics here and there that I find interesting. With all these, I intend to bring a wee bit of inspiration into our otherwise monotonous day-to-day routines.
Just to give you a heads up, I’m no expert in any form of writing! I have no formal training whatsoever to vouch for me. And, to be honest, I suck at it. I will simply be sharing the results of my writing experiments on a regular basis whether it be: finished or unfinished, edited or unedited.
I intend to become a better writer at some point somewhere through this entire process. And since I'm not even quite sure how to get from point A to point B yet, I'll take my cue from Brian Clark, a British playwright. When Mr. Clark was asked for his top ten tips to become a better writer, he said:

Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.”

This whole endeavor will showcase the path of my continuous learning experience. And my goal, since then and until now, is not to become an expert. Instead, my life remains a work-in-progress mainly because of the continually evolving nature of the world around us.
Feel free to share your comments and reflections in the spirit of kindness. I aim to keep this space free from conflict and full of positivity with a miniscule dose of reality that we call “constructive criticism.”
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Let me define life the way Neil Gershenfeld defines building models: “a never-ending process of discovery and refinement, not a war to win or a destination to reach.”
This is my life's journey! I would like to share it with all of you kindred spirits, like-minded guys and gals out there. I'm fervently hoping that this lifelong endeavor I'm embarking on will, in some way or another, be entertaining or useful to you, too (as you walk through your lives in your own unique ways, through the pathways and byways only you were created to trek)
Here's our salute to life (with all its surprises, the twists and turns that make every day such a joy to wake up to

Sincerely yours,

Alden Myro

PS: I'm pretty open to constructive criticism. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve your reading experience. Please don't hesitate to bring to my attention any incorrect punctuation, grammar and word usage, misspelled words, syntax and typographical errors that you might find anywhere in my writing. After all, "the only permanent thing in the world is change" and a writer's real work begins with each rewrite. Let's help make this world of words, pardon the cliché, a better place!

PPS: Be a Dear and follow @aldenmyro on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates!

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Alden Myro
Public post

The Exiled Prince - Chapter 20: Stalemate

“When the time comes, do not act rashly. Your survival solely depends on you now. So you must consider all of your options first and proceed with our plan cautiously. Otherwise, only death awaits you.”
Sitting in an empty cafeteria within the castle’s premises, Dimitri recalled the Headmaster’s last words while holding on to an antique-looking watch the old man had just given him after their talk. He couldn’t help but ponder on his looming punishment. Afterall, the ball was already in his court. Whether he lives or dies, it’s all up to him now.
“How can I get out of this mess?” Dimitri thought ruefully, ignoring the tray of processed food on the table. At this moment, he truly felt like being thrust into a stranger’s life, facing the consequences of someone else’s mistakes while his own life was at stake.
“Escaping now is not even an option.” Dimitri sighed and placed the watch on his left wrist, realizing how small of a frog he was in this huge well he felt trapped in. “That would surely hasten my death. I would only be digging my own grave without my knowing it.”
Dimitri absentmindedly started eating at a slow pace, still thinking about all the information he had just learned. The Headmaster’s words still lingered in his thoughts while he contemplated on every shocking detail of their long conversation. But what surprised him the most was the fact that he was really powerless to do anything about it right now.
“I’ll probably die in no time if I act recklessly!” Dimitri immediately lost his appetite with the mere thought of dying, putting down his pair of chopsticks on the tray. He stood up, grabbed his food tray, and walked towards the exit, forcefully disposing his barely touched meal in the trash bin on his way out.
“This world is just too small for me to fully escape their grasp.”
Just as Dimitri entered the strangely familiar training hall, Armand who was sitting on the ground suddenly threw a small box at him. The act of catching the box immediately disrupted Dimitri’s train of thought. All his concerns vanished in an instant.
Ignoring Armand’s menacing glare, Dimitri effortlessly caught the box with one hand, his eyes scanning the new space. This training hall, he observed, was obviously smaller than the previous training hall he had been to. Various equipment and gear scattered throughout the entire hall made the space look cramped and chaotic.
Holding on to the nondescript box, Dimitri eyed Armand warily. “What’s this?”
“Just put them on.” Armand stood up and began to jump around the small platform, stretching his arms and legs from time to time. “And hurry up! We don’t have that much time.”
“Why?” Seeing Armand’s fierce demeanor, Dimitri started to unpack the lightweight box. He had already figured out what the other man wanted to do. Pulling a pouch from the box, Dimitri unhurriedly scoured through its contents. He found one pair of shorts and several rolled bandages tightly cramped within it.
“Let’s see how much you have improved this time!” Armand temporarily stopped stretching and pointed at the rack of gear on one side. “And put one of those protective suits on as well.”
“I don’t want to break your fragile bones unintentionally.”
Dimitri sighed and shook his head without bothering to look at all the gear he could use. “No, this should be fine.”
“Suit yourself!” With a smug face, Armand merely shrugged and proceeded to stretch nonchalantly. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
“Again!” Armand demanded, breathing heavily.
“Are you sure?” Wiping the blood off his nose, Dimitri stared at the ceiling, enduring the excruciating pain all over his body. “I doubt that you can still hold on for much longer.”
Both men were lying on the ground, close to each other, completely disheveled. Their faces were covered with blood. Cuts and bruises could be seen all over their bodies. Their shorts and the bandages wrapped around their hands were all stained red.
“Aren’t we in the same boat?” Armand countered and got up slowly, still panting really hard. “I’m counting on you to fall first the next time.”
“In your dreams!” Dimitri chuckled, seeing Armand in a similar rumpled state. He then faced the ground and pushed himself up with extreme difficulty, wiping the remnants of blood from his hand on his shorts. “You couldn’t even defeat someone who could barely fight, much more so someone who had only lost his memory.”
“Says someone whose face has been beaten to a pulp!” Armand sneered, instantly shifting to a fighting stance. “Your face is mostly black and blue. I can hardly recognize you right now!”
“Look in the mirror yourself!” Dimitri smiled painfully, positioning both fists in front of his chest, his body leaning sideways, his right foot behind his left. “You’re all talk, no action!”
Both men were certainly on the brink of exhaustion, focused on defense, waiting for the other to attack. When one moved, the other reacted, moving synchronously, keeping their distance over two arms length away from each other. They knew that their fight could end mere seconds after the first strike.
It appeared as though both men were stuck in a deadly dance, keeping the same distance between them for a long time. Neither man advanced nor retreated. The situation seemed to be a stalemate.
“Come on!” Armand urged, his expression oozing with arrogance. “Hit me with all you’ve got!”
“I can sense fear from you!” Dimitri taunted. “Why? Are you afraid?”
“Isn’t it the other way around?” Armand rolled his eyes and raised a finger.
“Then, why are you not attacking?” Dimitri grinned, his tone dripping with mockery. “Afraid to be knocked out with just one kick?”
“Bite me!” Armand jeered condescendingly, his movements clearly taunting the other. “How are your legs so far? Still trembling from all that pain?”
“Why don’t you test them yourself?” Without warning, Dimitri kicked Armand squarely in the face.
Armand, however, saw through Dimitri’s intention right away. He quickly dodged the incoming kick while trying to punch Dimitri straight in the gut with his right fist.
But before any of their strikes could land on their targets, a semi-transparent barrier appeared in between them, knocking both men to the ground.
The fight instantly came to a standstill with both men lying on the ground. When Dimitri’s foot hit the barrier, he felt like he was electrocuted. Similarly, Armand also felt like he was electrocuted when his fist hit the barrier.
The electric shock sapped whatever strength they had left. It rendered them both immobile, too tired to move any further.
For a moment, the training hall became eerily quiet. Only the sound of heavy breathing could be heard. Until a familiar yet authoritative male voice broke the silence...
“Halt! You need to stop fighting right this very moment!”
With great difficulty, both men turned to the source of the sound only to see Mikhail, wearing his usual butler uniform sans the spectacles, hovering just outside the platform. 
“The Headmaster requires your presence!” Mikhail said matter-of-factly, oblivious to the significance of his words.
“The emissary has arrived!”
Author's Notes:
What do you think about Chapter 20: Stalemate? Do share your feedback with me in the comment section below. Also, kindly follow @aldenmyro on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates!
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Alden Myro
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The Exiled Prince - Chapter 19: Something Peculiar

“Were you able to remember anything from your past missions at all?”
Appearing out of nowhere, Dimitri suddenly found Mikhail standing right beside him. Clasping both hands behind his back, the AI butler had already donned his usual coat and tie sans the spectacles, Dimitri observed.
“No.” Ignoring the costume change, Dimitri shook his head and stood up, rubbing his hands, uncomfortable and barely tolerating the sticky feeling of sweat drying on his clothes.
“These videos are helpful. But other than that, I don’t really recall being on any of these missions.”
Both of their equally towering figures slowly walked towards the center of the now empty training platform, their eyes on the large virtual screen that remained still floating mid-air. The semi-transparent barrier, including the pile of trash Dimitri had accumulated over several training sessions, were long gone.
“What do you mean?” Mikhail turned to Dimitri with a questioning look. The training hall had already reverted back to its original pristine form, looking exactly as it was when they first came in.
“I simply couldn’t remember being on any of those past missions.” Dimitri shrugged, folding his arms over his chest, his eyes still focused on the multiple replays displayed on the screen.
It took them at least four hours to go through each detail of all the missions he had been on in the past. The entire ordeal was quite inconvenient and time consuming, a far cry from when the mysterious system hacked his previous training programs.
“Although the videos provide conclusive evidence that it was I, myself, who carried out those missions, I still feel a sense of detachment.”
“Mm-hmm.” Mikhail raised an eyebrow, keenly observing Dimitri’s facial expression.
“I mean, the man in each video is obviously me.” Dimitri turned to Mikhail and started to explain. “I recognize my face and figure despite donning various disguises. I also get the logic behind each action. But I feel like I am watching a stranger.
“I am completely positive that guy is me.” Dimitri continued, pointing to himself on the video. “But I still feel like it wasn’t really me. You get what I mean? I’m not really sure how to explain it exactly.”
“Go on.” Mikhail listened attentively as though he were analyzing Dimitri’s every speech pattern and gesture. Without Dimitri’s knowledge, the AI butler had been secretly gathering all these seemingly inconsequential data since day one, trying to sift the truth from all the lies.
“That man is absolutely a stranger to me right now.” Dimitri sighed and rubbed his chin with one hand, eyeing the virtual screen confusedly. “That’s all there is to it.”
“In short, you still could not remember anything.” Mikhail said matter-of-factly.
Dimitri nodded, completely lost in thought.
“Mikhail, have you noticed something peculiar about my last six missions?” Dimitri broke the silence and suddenly declared with intense interest. Both of them had been staring at the virtual screen for quite some time, replaying the mission surveillance videos one by one.
“Care to explain?” Mikhail asked nonchalantly, although not at all surprised by Dimitri’s observation.
Dimitri began pointing out the differences. 
“I am quite certain that you must have noticed that most of my past missions were quick and decisive. Did you notice some sort of a pattern? They were all skillfully and efficiently completed.”
“Go on!” Mikhail urged.
“The last six missions, however, seemed more elaborate and slow.” Dimitri added, still baffled by his past actions. “My inefficiencies were glaringly obvious. It appeared as though I was deliberately trying to sabotage or expose the Council by carelessly dropping some of the evidence.”
“The last six assassinations seemed to be completed by an amateur, not a professional.”
“And why do you think that?” Mikhail turned to Dimitri, again raising an eyebrow.
“Some incriminating evidence were haphazardly left at the crime scene.” Dimitri explained. “For example, I defied the mission parameters by killing the first target on my last mission out in the open. I could have done that discreetly, away from the prying eyes of the general public.”
“The mission parameters clearly stated that both targets should appear to die due to self-inflicted injury.” Dimitri explained further. “Now I understand why I had to undergo that trial by the tribunal.”
“The Council must have been pissed with my recent actions.”
“So you think your initial punishment was justified?” Mikhail asked with a smug look.
“I didn’t say that.” Dimitri countered. “I’m just wondering about the sudden changes in my behavior during my last six missions.”
“Do you have any idea why those sudden changes may have happened?”
“It appears as though you have been telling the truth all this time.”
Dimitri heard an old male voice say as he entered the cramped office space. The small room evoked a sense of familiarity. Just like all the other parts of the castle had felt familiar to him despite the fact that he thought he was seeing it all for the first time.
“Headmaster!” Dimitri immediately stood at attention when he saw the all too familiar old man. The Headmaster, wearing what seemed to be an intricately designed white robe, sat behind the large mahogany desk.
Ivan immediately noticed Dimitri’s stiffness. He swiped all of the virtual screens hovering over his desk away then pointed towards the two chairs across his desk. “Sit.”
Dimitri nodded and hung his leather jacket on the coat rack behind the door before sitting on the chair to his left. He now donned a fresh white shirt and blue jeans, his hair still wet after his quick shower.
“You still could not remember anything even after all those training sessions, could you?” Ivan eyed Dimitri, resting both of his arms on the table, his hands clasped together. The wrinkles on his face became more apparent in close proximity.
“No, Sir!” Crossing his legs, Dimitri sat more comfortably, sensing the old man’s amicable demeanor. “My memories are still as elusive as ever. I still could not remember a thing.”
“I believe you have no choice, but to bear with this loss for the time being then.” Ivan chuckled before his expression turned serious.
“I’m afraid so.” Devoid of any expression, Dimitri agreed, knowing there wasn’t really anything he could do about it. “I guess only time can tell.”
“Do you know why I summoned you here?” Ivan asked straight away.
Dimitri simply shook his head, uncertain as to why his last training exercise had been cut short. All this time, he had been looking forward to gathering more information about the Council. But it seems he had to put that on hold for now.
“The Council has already arrived at a decision on your case.” Ivan said solemnly and paused for a brief moment. “Unfortunately, we still need to wait five more days before we can hear it.”
“An emissary from HQ is on his way here, as we speak, to deliver the verdict in person.” Ivan continued while Dimitri stayed silent. “Do you know what that means?”
Dimitri merely shrugged, unsure how to respond.
“The severity of your punishment might be unprecedented.” Without waiting for Dimitri’s reply, Ivan answered his own question with a hint of concern. “No high-ranking official from HQ has ever had to personally be here to deliver a verdict throughout the long history of our outpost. Everything had always been done electronically.”
“His mere presence could spell our doom!”
Author's Notes:
What do you think about Chapter 19: Something Peculiar? Do share your feedback with me in the comment section below. Also, kindly follow @aldenmyro on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates!
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Alden Myro
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The Exiled Prince - Chapter 18: Deactivated

[Warning: Usage Restriction Due To Limited Function Mode Activation]
[System Availability Duration: Reached]
[Combat Simulation Program: Deactivated]
[Strategy and Tactics Program: Deactivated]
[Weapons Training Program: Deactivated]
[The Art Of War Program: Deactivated]
[The Art of Killing Program: Deactivated]
[Physical Fitness and Self-Care Program: Deactivated]
[Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Program: Deactivated]
[Camouflage, Concealment, and Disguise Program: Deactivated]
[Civilian and Military-Grade Vehicle and Equipment Training Program: Deactivated]
[Advanced Survival Program: Deactivated]
[Advanced Martial Arts Program: Deactivated]
[Initializing Integration]
[Integration Successful]
“Just as I thought!” Sitting cross-legged on the floor, Dimitri sighed, seeing a number of system prompts displayed continuously on the virtual screen that only he alone could see. “There really is a time limit for using such a mysterious system.”
Observing the new virtual screen interface, Dimitri saw a few changes. Just beside the gear icon at the top right corner, an almost empty battery icon kept blinking red. This meant power was dangerously running low. “Interesting!”
A line clearly divided the virtual screen interface into two. The upper half, now labeled ‘Active/In-Progress’, still displayed the grayed out light bulb icon. Stuck at 61.90%, it said ‘Host Memory Integration’ still in-progress. The lower half, now labeled ‘Deactivated/Integrated’, showed the icons of all the training programs he had just completed.
The already integrated icons looked different from their in-progress counterparts, neither grayed out nor active. The embossed logo design of each integrated icon seemed intricate, its metallic surface etched predominantly with gold.
Dimitri tried to tap on each integrated icon, one at a time. However, each one simply didn’t budge, no matter how many times he tried. No new window or system prompt appeared either.
“Integrated?” Dimitri’s face instantly brightened, realizing the fact that he could remember everything. He vividly recalled every detail from each training program, no matter how insignificant. “So these golden icons that just got deactivated have already been integrated into my memory?”
“Does this mean that at will, I now have access to all the data from all the training programs that I have completed?”
Without delay, Dimitri stood up excitedly and executed the martial arts movements that he had learned most recently. For a few minutes, Dimitri’s grunts echoed throughout the entire hall as he performed a series of punches and kicks, switching from one style to another a little bit crudely.
“I guess sheer knowledge is not enough.” Dimitri sat back down on the floor and began to contemplate, his face dripping wet with sweat. “I still need to train a whole lot more to adequately develop muscle memory. I must be able to switch from one fighting position to the next naturally with more agility and fluidity.”
“I guess I just need to rely on the current state of my skills, for the time being.”
“I wonder when I’ll be able to use the cheat feature of that black ball again.” Dimitri thought ruefully, looking over the vast ocean on the horizon. Already accustomed to the constantly changing scenery beyond the barrier of the training platform, he started to contemplate on his future plans.
“Are you ready for your last set of training exercises?” Mikhail asked.
“Yeah.” Dimitri simply nodded. He drank all his water in one go and wiped off the sweat from his face before turning to Mikhail. He threw the empty bottle and the used towel to the already growing pile at the edge of the platform.
“You look funny each time the scenery changes, by the way!” Dimitri said in a mocking tone. The AI butler’s tiny figure appeared to be standing on a small boat floating in an endless ocean, with the sun about to set right behind him.
“I will take that as a compliment. Thank you!” Mikhail smiled proudly, hugging his coat tighter. “I have been trying to integrate as much comedic acting as I can in my interactions with you bunch of buffoons, whether verbal or non-verbal. Unfortunately, most of my brand of humor comes off as offensive or undesirable to you people.”
“Just take it down a notch, then.” Dimitri laughed, finding Mikhail’s company nearly tolerable after going through so many training exercises with him. “I’m pretty sure you can make a grumpy guy like Armand laugh soon.”
“Believe me! I am constantly trying.” Mikhail merely shrugged, rolling his eyes “He, however, appears to be such an uptight person who is so easily irritated. You and the Headmaster, on the other hand, seem more amiable.”
“Really?” Dimitri chuckled, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, at least your old self seemed so much more charming and friendly.” Mikhail blatantly lied, his pretense clearly visible to anyone. “The new you, unfortunately, is a little bit stupid, always acting and sounding cuckoo, and quite temperamental, too. In short, you are turning out to be as uptight and a party-pooper as that fool Armand, and maybe even more so.”
“I am not quite sure which one of you is moodier, grumpier, the list goes on.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, then.” Dimitri grinned, pumping a fist. “At least, I am better than him in some way.”
“Well, you have always been better than Armand in so many ways.” Mikhail declared, trying to add fuel to the fire. “And that is why you do not see eye to eye and Armand can hardly stand being near you.”
“His pride must have been hurt all this time,” Mikhail continued, further fanning the flame. “But I am betting on the fact that your continued presence serves as a constant reminder of all his humiliating losses all throughout these years.”
“Is that why he always acts so rudely around me?” Dimitri probed.
“I am a hundred percent certain that he abhors only all of your achievements, not you as a person!” Mikhail said. “He does not really have any ill intentions towards you. In fact, he has constantly checked on your past achievements and compared them all with his.”
“Although he looks down on you more now due to your current circumstances.”
“Now that couldn’t be helped, could it?” Dimitri sighed. “I just hope that I would be able to remember everything or at least regain some of my lost memories sooner rather than later.”
“That way, I wouldn’t have to always walk on thin ice.”
“Do not fret!” Mikhail gave a thumbs up. “Based on the data I gathered specifically for your case, you have an 80% probability of regaining your memory as long as we steer you towards the right direction.”
“I should hope so.” Dimitri nodded, shifting to a more relaxed sitting position. “Because honestly, right now, I’m not even sure being an assassin is the right fit for me.”
“It is understandable that you would be having such doubts now.” Mikhail agreed, wiping the imaginary dust off his spectacles with his hankie before putting it back on.
“I mean, don’t take it the wrong way.” Dimitri explained further. “You guys have so many expectations of me. But I’m not even sure if I have the right skills, drive nor confidence to meet all of your expectations.”
“I don’t even know why I became an assassin in the first place.” Dimitri mused. “Why did I even choose to be one? Why did I bother to join the Council? I have been pondering on these questions quite a lot, lately.”
“As to why you chose to join the Council and become an assassin, you would need to personally speak with the Headmaster. Access to that information is currently restricted to his level.” Mikhail offered, his tone serious. “As for the rest of your concerns, it is a good thing that we saved this custom-built set of targeted training exercises for last.
“What do you mean?” Dimitri asked curiously.
“You will go through each recorded training and mission that you have completed in the past.” Mikhail began to explain the training mechanics. “Plus, you will be given a brief overview of each relevant piece of information about the Council that you have clearance for.”
“You have already learned all the skills required to become a professional assassin,” Mikhail continued. “The Headmaster hopes that you will finally bear some semblance of your old self when you complete all these training exercises.”
“Now is the right time to fill you in on some rather important details…”
Author's Notes:
What do you think about Chapter 18: Deactivated? Do share your feedback with me in the comment section below. Also, kindly follow @aldenmyro on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates!
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Alden Myro
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The Exiled Prince - Chapter 17: Cheat Sheet

“Why are you here?” Armand asked, not bothering to open his eyes, sensing another presence in the room. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, he appeared to be meditating on a platform similar to that of the training hall, albeit smaller. “I already told you to call me only when he’s ready.”
“Dimitri’s ready for the next set of training exercises.” He heard Mikhail’s voice say.
“Impossible!” Armand kept his eyes shut, his tone derisive. “It’s only been less than three hours since he started. No one has been able to complete the combat simulation program in less than a week, much more so in less than a day.”
“Apparently, it is possible to complete all 100 levels in two hours and fifteen minutes, to be exact.” Mikhail stated matter-of-factly.
“Impossible!” Unable to concentrate any longer, Armand opened his eyes and glanced at the clock on the wall. “Dimitri’s best time for Level 50 was three days and for Level 100, a little over a week.”
“After completing Level One, it only took him less than 30 seconds on average to defeat his opponent at each level.” Mikhail, standing just outside the small platform, summoned a few virtual screens in between them. The screens all displayed Dimitri in various simulated combat program levels. “Why don’t you see it for yourself?”
“What’s going on here?” Armand carefully observed each virtual screen, shock clearly plastered on his face the more he watched each video. “How can he possibly know where the opponent would strike next? Each level’s style of attack is randomly chosen and rarely repeated.”
“I have asked him the same question.” Mikhail, already standing on the platform adjacent to Armand, adjusted his spectacles, his eyes also glued to the screens. “He merely shrugged and attributed it to instinct and gut feel.”
“Impossible!” Armand frowned, still unconvinced of his rival’s new feats. “Dimitri and I are not at that level yet.”
“Well, the evidence before you proves otherwise.” Mikhail turned to Armand and smiled, his tone gripping with mockery. “What more can we infer?”
“But this is absolutely beyond reason.” Armand uncrossed his legs and stood up, ignoring Mikhail’s blatant provocation, still scrutinizing all of Dimitri's videos. “What is he doing now?”
“He is sort of polishing his skills by going through all 100 levels again.” Mikhail grinned with a proud look. “Although at a much slower pace this time.”
“I see.” Armand drew in a long breath and nodded with a composed expression. Despite his calm demeanor, his hands tightened into fists, betraying his threatened interior. “Just proceed with the next set of training exercises without me.”
“Call me when he’s done with everything.”
“Level 100 - Complete!”
“Just as I guessed.” Dimitri exhaustedly sat on the floor, panting hard, wiping off the beads of sweat on his face. Having completed all 100 levels twice with some trial and error, Dimitri finally figured out one of the core features of the mysterious system.
“It looks like the combat simulation program really got hacked by that black ball.” Dimitri concluded despite the absence of any visible wires connected to the platform. “Those faceless figures merely act as guides or cheat sheets. But I still have to do all of the heavy lifting myself.”
Despite feeling tired, Dimitri knew he had gained a lot from this whole experience. At this point, he could genuinely fight with anyone without relying on sheer luck or his erratic memory fragments.
“I could probably escape if the situation is not in my favor.” Dimitri crossed his legs, closed his eyes and began to meditate. He took long deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling very slowly, clearing his mind from all of his thoughts.
“I wonder what else that black ball can do!”
“You have successfully completed the combat simulation program.” Dimitri, still sitting on the floor resting, heard Mikhail say, disrupting his train of thought. “Let us proceed with your next set of training exercises, shall we?”
“What?” With a questioning look, Dimitri turned to the AI butler, still hovering outside the semi-transparent barrier. “You mean there’s more?”
Mikhail simply rolled his eyes. “Do you think that a mere combat simulation program would instantly transform you into a professional assassin?”
“I should hope so.” Dimitri countered, exhaustion becoming more apparent on his face. “So far, your training did not allow me any other choice, but to kill, did it?”
“Well, you are quite ill-informed.” Mikhail started to explain. “Being an assassin is not just about killing people. It is the art of intricately manipulating the situation to shift the blame to someone else or conceal the real cause of death, making it appear either natural or self-inflicted.”
“It all boils down to murder, does it?” Out of sheer exhaustion, Dimitri lay down on the floor and closed his eyes. “Whether it’s me or the target, someone ultimately dies at the end, right?”
“You can call it whatever you want, but isn’t it simply cold-blooded murder?”
“Of course, it is.” Mikhail agreed. “The Council has been established for centuries mainly to eliminate any internal and external threat.”
“How do you expect those threats to be eliminated without killing them?”
“As long as the weeds are not pulled out from the ground, they will continue to grow, depriving the real plants of their rightful space,” Mikhail continued, adjusting his spectacles. “It is your job as an assassin to skillfully uproot all those pests, preserving society’s equilibrium.”
“But, of course, I am just an AI.” Mikhail merely shrugged “So what do I know about human affairs, right? I am only here to fulfill the orders of my maker.”
“What a bunch of psychopaths!” Dimitri murmured, shaking his head. “Fine! So what’s next?”
Dimitri knew full well that he no longer had the moral compass to distinguish between what’s right or wrong. His past actions had already shown that he himself was indeed a cold-blooded murderer, with or without his amnesia.
“Strategy and tactics!” Mikhail declared before his figure vanished into thin air.
“This again?” Dimitri immediately stood up as the familiar heavy fog gradually engulfed the edge of the entire training platform. Unable to see beyond the barrier, he simply listened to the sounds of metal clunking underneath him, his expression filled with curiosity.
“I wonder if the black ball also hacked the succeeding training exercises!”
Author’s Notes:
What do you think about Chapter 17: Cheat Sheet? Do share your feedback with me in the comment section below. Also, kindly follow @aldenmyro on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates!
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Alden Myro

The Ultimate Troublemaker System (TUTS) - Chapter 2: Health Check

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The Exiled Prince - Chapter 16: Level One Complete

“Round Nine - Fight starts in 3...2...”
Time seemed to stop before the countdown ended. Dimitri glanced around the platform, curious to see the floating countdown currently stuck at number two. Just the multi-colored grid lines moved, pulsating everywhere up to the barrier of the platform like a heartbeat.
Dimitri realized that the mysterious system somewhere in his brain granted him an extra layer of vision strikingly similar to that of a color-enhanced x-ray, but different. He could clearly track the differently colored lines and shapes outlining every structure within the simulated platform, including that of the masked figure. Only Mikhail, who hovered steadily beyond the platform, didn’t have any multi-colored lines on him.
Standing at the center of the platform, Dimitri waited for his opponent to move. However, the masked figure simply stood still at the edge of the platform, unmoving as if frozen in time. Oddly, Mikhail appeared similarly frozen as well, his right hand raised midair with his mouth open as though he were about to say something.
Before Dimitri could observe his surroundings any further, the faceless multi-colored outline suddenly detached from the body of the original masked figure and ran towards him. Strangely, the original body of the masked figure remained immobile at the edge of the platform, his eyes still devoid of any emotion.
“Is there something wrong with the combat simulation program?” Dimitri thought, eyeing the static countdown still suspended high above the platform when it should have disappeared by now. Both Mikhail and the masked figure remained motionless at their current positions. Just the faceless multi-colored outline of the original masked figure moved.
”Is this another style of attack?” Switching to a fighting stance, Dimitri held his sword pointed forward with both hands, ready to face another bout of defeat. With his opponent’s ever-changing style of attack, he knew he wouldn’t be able to counter it without sufficient training.
Dimitri noticed the multi-colored faceless figure making weird hand gestures. Just like the original masked figure, his new opponent summoned two clones, one on each side. All three faceless figures were now positioned in a straight line.
Unlike the summoned clones of the original masked figure in the previous rounds, the bodies of the newly summoned clones in this round appeared see-through. Their transparent reddish outlines distinguished them from the multi-colored faceless figure in the middle.
By the time the two clones appeared, all three faceless figures immediately lost their momentum, now seemingly running in slow-mo.
At the center of the platform, Dimitri kept still and waited, carefully watching his three opponents from afar. He could clearly detect the movements of the multi-colored figure, constantly switching positions with his two clones.
Based on his experience with the previous rounds, Dimitri instantly knew that his main enemy was the multi-colored faceless figure, the only non-see-through opponent among the three. The two red clones seemed to be merely smokescreens, designed mainly as diversions.
As all three opponents got nearer, Dimitri discovered an anomaly. All three faceless figures left some static clones behind them as they started to spread out, marking their previous positions. Each marked clone resembled a dot connected by a line segment that traced their every move.
Ignoring the trajectory of the other two clones, Dimitri focused solely on the highlighted movements of the multi-colored figure now flanking his left side.
One of the two clones hit Dimitri head-on. But upon contact, that same clone disintegrated into red particles. It looked like the clone had turned into the smoke that engulfed Dimitri fully in the previous rounds.
Simultaneously, the multi-colored faceless figure on Dimitri’s left immediately jumped high up, unsheathing his saber, his strike aimed at Dimitri’s nape.
Just as the saber of the multi-colored figure nearly hit Dimitri’s nape, Dimitri dodged quickly, shoving his sword into his opponent’s left chest. He could feel the friction as his sword penetrated his opponent’s chest as though he were piercing through a real, living body. After being impaled by Dimitri’s sword, the multi-colored faceless figure limped before disintegrating into particles.
“Round Nine - Victory!”
Before Dimitri could even process what had happened, all three faceless figures vanished along with every multi-colored grid line and shapes outlining the entire platform.
“I highly suggest that you rest after this round.” Dimitri heard Mikhail’s voice say. He turned towards the now moving AI butler with confusion, sensing the normal flow of time.
“Round Nine - Fight starts in 3...2...1!”
With a baffled look, Dimitri promptly looked up upon hearing the already familiar automated female voice.
“Didn’t I just finish round nine?”
“Round Nine - Victory!”
“Level One - Complete!”
“I won?” Dimitri stared at his slowly vanishing opponent now lifeless after being impaled mid-air by his sword. The original masked figure’s style of attack looked eerily similar to that of the multi-colored faceless figure he faced earlier. “Deja vu?”
“I don’t think so.” Dimitri thought, tapping on the mysterious system’s sword icon that solely he could see. “I highly doubt that this is a dream, either.”
“So that’s how it works?” Still standing at the center of the platform, he realized that his first round nine victory earlier probably merely happened in his mind, like a premonition of how the masked figure would attack.
[Combat Simulation Program Active]
“Did that black ball hack this training program?” Dimitri eyed the system prompt thoughtfully, subconsciously rubbing his chin. His virtual sword had long been gone along with his opponent. Only the semi-transparent barrier remained at the edge of the platform.
Among the two icons displayed on the virtual screen, solely the sword icon seemed active, the lightbulb icon still grayed out. Had the gear icon not been constantly stuck at 2 o’clock, Dimitri would most likely have forgotten about this mysterious system.
Although Dimitri had a few suspicions of his real identity, his prior medical examinations had already ruled out the possibility of him being an AI or a cyborg. The tiny metal implant he had somewhere in his body was merely the Council’s way of keeping a leash on him.
Dimitri felt certain that the black ball inside that white sphere located somewhere in his brain was some kind system. As to how he knew, he didn’t know. He could simply feel it in his gut.
“Congratulations, Dimitri!” Mikhail cheered, clapping his hands. “You have completed Level One.
“As you probably know by now, you will only need to defeat your opponent once to proceed to the next level.” Mikhail explained. “Otherwise, you will completely be stuck in a loop.”
“Do you want to advance to Level Two right now?” Mikhail asked. “Or would you rather rest first?”
Author’s Notes:
What do you think about Chapter 16: Level One Complete? Do share your feedback with me in the comment section below. Also, kindly follow @aldenmyro on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates!
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