Getting onto the stage, the past week flashed by in Daneel's mind.
It had started with the ETC. All he had had to do was sit down, and let the system take over.
[Ether rich environment detected. SAT-1 automatically deployed. Please communicate if the host does not wish for this to happen]
Daneel had heard this prompt as soon as he had entered the chamber. As this was something that would happen anyway, he hadn't said anything.
Only, a second later, he felt a prickling sensation around his body. Hurrying to his seat, he had sat down in meditation to see what it was.
After being seated, the prickling sensation instantly turned into a full-on stabbing sensation. It felt as if countless people were standing around him, holding knives and avidly plunging them into his body again and again.
Sweat beaded around his body as he tried hard to resist the pain.
At the point when he had almost given up and was going to command the system to stop, the pain started receding.
It had only been 3 minutes since the start of absorption. Daneel felt as if it had been many lifetimes since the moment he had sat down on the mat.
The pain receded to a level where it was manageable.
Now, the problem was that this constant pain disrupted his mind, not allowing him to even think anything else other than about the pain.
Daneel got through the first session in this way. Later came the sparring session which brought some surprises.
PAM-1 can now be used to develop the techniques Combat Technique-1. Time Needed: 24 hours. Would you like to proceed with the development?]
Daneel had been half-hoping for this.
"Yes. But will the system need to be off again? And why is it only 24 hours?", he asked, unable to stop himself.
[System informs host that resource diversion is unnecessary. Host has spent a long time on these techniques which has resulted in the development of the techniques being easier due to the muscle memory that has resulted from host's hard work. System congratulates host for working hard and becoming proficient in the rudimentary techniques taught. These will be the foundation for the advanced CT-1 that will be developed.]
The hard work had after all not gone to waste. Daneel had had the thought that maybe he shouldn't work so hard because he could get a better technique from the system anyway. This had made him remember the orphanage's old lady's words, "Hard work never goes to waste." Trusting both himself and the warm memory of the kind old lady, he had ploughed on.
Now, it was time to reap the benefits.
A day later, CT-1 was finished.
[CT-1 development completed.]
At night, Daneel snuck into the woods to test out his new technique. Thinking that maybe the system would take over his body again like it had during the deployment of SAT-1, he had ordered CT-1 to deploy and waited with his body limp.
A white figure materialized in front of him as these words faded.
Half-scared that it was a ghost, Daneel stood still, petrified.
The figure rushed forward and assaulted Daneel, punching his stomach.
"NOOOOOOO!". This scream sent the birds in the trees flying.
Feeling nothing, Daneel opened his eyes to see that the figure's fist was inside his stomach. The timely prompt from the system saved him from getting even more scared.
[System informs host that the white figure is the materialization of CT-1. It is an illusion made by the deployment which shall fight with the host to develop intuition and better technique. There are 2 types of training:
1. Mimic Training: This is when a set of basic stances or movements need to be learned. There is no mimic training in CT-1 as host has already learned perfectly the 3 basic movements taught.
2. Combat Training: An illusion is formed which combats the host to increase skill.]
Sighing with relief, Daneel chuckled at himself.
From that day started Daneel's midnight excursions in the forest near the trainee camps. Each night, he would fight the figure which seemed to have an endless variation of kicks and punches from all kinds of directions.
Facing such pressure everyday, Daneel's fighting skills improved by leaps and bounds. No longer would he have his flow disturbed by any factor. No longer would he be mystified by fast or erratic movements of trainees faster than him due to absorbing more ether.
Dodging, kicking or punching were fast approaching the realm where they would be indistinguishable from instinct.
Finally, it was the day of the competition. In the morning, Daneel refreshed his stats and gasped in shock seeing them.
[Host status refreshing.
Updated Host status:
Condition: Hidden Injuries Detected
Level Progression: 40%
EXP Points: 20
Faction Points: 1]
He was almost halfway to the Human-1 level! Calculating in his mind, Daneel found that his speed of refinement had doubled since the system had taken over.
A person with a low grade body typically needed 2 years to reach the Human-1 stage, assuming they trained in the same hellish way that Daneel and the others had. Now, with the help of the system, although his potential had yet to change, his speed had already doubled. In essence, this meant that he was already on par with those with mid-grade bodies!
Again, he was stunned by the sheer effectiveness of the system.
The rest of the fights had gone by as usual. At the end, he had challenged the first place.
As soon as the gong sounded, the kid sneered and said, "What arrogance. You trash with a low grade body think you can challenge me and get away with it? I still haven't forgotten how you made fun of me on the first day! I don't care if Master Banner puts me in a water bubble, I'm gonna hit you till you cry for your mummy!"
Deigning these childish insults of a 12-year old as too beneath him to reply, he motioned at the kid to bring it on.
With rage on his face, the kid started running towards him. It seemed that it was true that he was close to the Human-1 level as he was already twice as fast as Daneel.
This meant that a punch from him would really hurt. Yet, Daneel wasn't worried because he had the treasure of experience with him.
The white figure was faster than this kid although by not a very large margin. Thus, Daneel calmly waited for the kid to make his move.
Sure that he was too fast for the opponent to even respond, the kid aimed a simple punch at Daneel's stomach to floor him with the first move.
Unexpectedly, Daneel jumped in the air at just the right moment for the kid to pass from under his crotch.
Suddenly not finding his opponent, the kid felt a foot on his back which made him lose his balance.
Landing on the floor, he hastily tried to get up.
Before he could though, he felt two feet stand on his feet, digging into his upper back.
"3 hits! Daneel wins!", came the shout from the referee. The crowd erupted in cheers, with half of them both laughing and cheering at the same time.
Daneel jumped off the back of the poor kid. Instead of anger, he now had tears in his eyes due to being laughed at.
"You! Fight me again!", he screamed before getting up and running at Daneel.
Instantly, a globe of crystal clear water enveloped the running figure and floated out of the arena, dumping him outside.
"No rematches. If you lost, you lost.", came the gruff voice of the Training Hall Master as he came onto the stage.
Cracking a broad smile, he lifted Daneel's hand in the air.
While the crowd applauded at the entertaining performance, Felix spoke in a voice that only Daneel could hear.
"Well done kid. But we have to talk about exactly what ghost it is you are fighting with in the forest every night for the last week."