71 The Cold and a Reunion

    --Eira POV--

    It took a bit of time and convincing before Granny allowed me to stay with her with minimal questions asked. So finally she brought me to an army green, military tent that's made of PVC tarpaulin or something. I only know that because I heard someone complaining to a soldier about their tent leaking or something before asking to speak to their general. Anyway, the tent seems to be a 12x12 square with six sleeping bags set up.

    "Is this going to be okay, dear? The other gals are staying here too so the room will be quite cramped." Granny says.

    "This is fine, Granny! Thanks for letting me stay here." I give Granny a big smile.

    "My, what big white teeth you have! They're very pretty."

    "Thanks, Granny!"

    "Anyway, I'm going to go get breakfast, do you want anything?" Granny asks.

    Glancing out the tent door I can see the sun shining brightly. While using the top hat I can't cover myself as well as I usually would, so the sunlight is making me itchy and uncomfortable.

    I shake my head, "No, thanks. I might take a nap actually."

    "But... it's the first thing in the morning? Didn't you just wake up?"

    I stare at the floor and kick it lightly, "N-No, I couldn't sleep last night because of all the gunfire! It kept me awake all night."

    "Oh, you poor dear. I'm sure it was scary. Well, you can use my sleeping back over there." Granny points to a red bag in the corner. "There's also ponchos and other supplies they left for us in the corner in case."

    "Thank you!" I say cutely.

    Granny leaves and I enter the sleeping bag zipping it up completely to block any sunlight.

    My body relaxes, 'Much better. I'll stay here for a bit and recharge.'

    Deactivating the top hat and pushing my arm into it I pull out a blood bag and poke a small hole into it. Placing my mouth over the hole and laying the blood bag over my face I suck the blood through the hole.

    'This stuff doesn't taste very good if it isn't mixed with platelets and plasma, but... I need this after the day I've had. Status.'

    Name: Eira Callista

    Gender: Female

    Level: 5 (0/100)

    Health: 312/350

    Strength: 20

    Endurance: 22

    Agility: 24

    Intellect: 20

    Constitution: 35

    Talents: Paranormal

    Skills: Intermediate Blood Magic; Novice Scythe; Novice Shadow Magic

    Titles: Goddess of Blood (Infant); Human Hunter (Lesser)

    Essence: 320

    'I really like having the stored essence, but... Ego, let's go ahead and level twice.'


    [Achieved Level 6!]

    [+1 Bonus Stat Toward Constitution.]

    [+1 Bonus Stat Toward Agility.]


    [Achieved Level 7!]

    Like last time I leveled twice my body turns warm and my eyes reflexively close to better enjoy the feeling. Even the mediocre blood bag seems to taste better.

    'Hmm, wait? There was something extra there... bonus status points? Status.'

    Name: Eira Callista

    Gender: Female

    Level: 7 (0/200)

    Health: 332/380

    Strength: 20 -\u003e 22

    Endurance: 22 -\u003e 23

    Agility: 24 -\u003e 27

    Intellect: 20 -\u003e 22

    Constitution: 35 -\u003e 38

    Talents: Paranormal

    Skills: Intermediate Blood Magic; Novice Scythe; Novice Shadow Magic

    Titles: Goddess of Blood (Infant); Human Hunter (Lesser)

    Available Points: 9

    Essence: 70

    'These are the available points for manual distribution the Cosmic System mentioned, but what triggered the bonus stat points?'

    [Host, bonus stat points have always existed but were simply rare. Perhaps, the 'Cosmic System' is going to be distributing them more frequently. As I am sure, the Host has noticed the 'Cosmic System' is acting differently than in the past.]

    'Yeah, I've obviously noticed that; it used to be a stuffy straight forward interface for the most part, but now it seems much more involved. Oh well, I'm not going to complain. Although figuring out when they trigger will be something I'll need to look into in the future. For now though, put two points into constitution and three into intellect.'

    A bit more warmth fills me as my constitution rises to 40 and my intellect to 25, 'Ah, I was hoping that would maybe trigger something. As for the remaining four points, I'll hang on to them in case of an emergency, or I uncover more information.'

    With the blood bag empty and the remaining warmth of leveling up still filling my body, I enter a state of half-sleep while I contemplate our situation.




    Around four hours later, I notice the sounds of rain hitting the tent. Activating the top hat and unzipping my cocoon through the entrance of the tent, a mix of rain and snow greets me.

    'This might be a good opportunity; if they're using thermals they'll be less effective in this type of weather.'

    Taking a quick look around the tent and finding no one else here, I deactivate the top-hat and remove a rain jacket from storage. Slipping on the rain jacket and pulling it tight, I also grab one of the ponchos, putting it on as well.

    'No one should think it strange that I'm wearing two layers of rain protection, I hope.'

    Leaving the tent, my face is instantly assaulted by the cold.

    'Did a cold front move in or something? I don't remember it being this cold. It wouldn't be that strange; it is almost that time of the year anyway.'

    Glancing around, I can see many people running toward their tents, so before the old ladies return, I take my leave and make my way toward the military tents on the other side of the camp. While walking I tune my ears to the camp's chatter and eventually hear an interesting conversation between two men.

    "These clouds came out of nowhere and I swear it dropped twenty degrees in less than an hour."

    "Yeah, you don't think this will delay evacuations, do you? I was supposed to leave tomorrow."

    "I don't know, man... but let's not think about that. Did you hear about the guy who wanted to join the soldier on the wall? He was screaming about levels or something."

    "People are losing it. I just want to get my family out of here."

    'So there's at least one person here in the beta. I'd wager there's many more than that though.'

    Continuing past the two, I eventually come across the military tents. These are beige and resemble half-cylinder tents. They're much longer and better setup than the civilian tents.

    'Let's just watch for a bit and see if there is any sign of anyone I know in their camp. I'd like to find Eden sooner rather than later.'

    Finding a partially hidden location, I watch as the mix of rain and snow starts to churn violently. My eyes struggle to adjust, but luckily with my stats and vampiric body, it's at least possible to see some of what is happening. However, what is happening is nearly nothing as everyone, excluding some guards, retreats into various long white cylindrical tents.

    'This is useless. I'm just wasting my time while looking suspicious.'

    Leaving I continue to explore while listening to more conversations and rumors. Some involve the 'Cosmic System' and reports coming out on the internet. Most people seem to be dismissing it, and most of these articles seem to be disappearing or are outright called fake news.

    'My guess is they're going to suppress information on the Cosmic System until they get a grip on things before holding a press conference. Either way, though, those people with access to the system will use it, and the cat will quickly be out of the bag.'

    Passing by the front door of the hospital, I notice a huge group of people gathered around the television in the hospital lobby.

    "Wh-what is happening? Is that real?" someone says with a shaky voice.

    "Dear lord... we're never leaving this city, are we?" another says.

    My curiosity piqued, I squeeze in and look toward the TV where a male and female news anchor pair sit discussing some type of weather phenomenon. The male anchor with dark blue hair sits with a grim expression and across from him the female anchor with cherry-red hair does the same.

    "Jesse, when did you say this storm cell appeared?"

    "Well, James, late last night satellites picked up a strange storm system forming in the North that has been expanding and developing rapidly."

    The TV changes from a newsroom to the weather radar. Near the center of the Arctic Ocean, a gigantic hurricane-like cyclone can be seen rotating.

    "The system has stabilized, but now covers Alaska, large parts of Canada including Vancouver, substantial parts of Russia, and most of Greenland. The area within the storm is expected to experience significant levels of snowfall as the temperature continues to drop rapidly."

    Jesse takes over, "And this is especially devastating for the Anchorage area as moves have been made to finally lift the lockdown as further research has uncovered the means of infection behind the Crawler virus. Camp C was allowed to start evacuations yesterday, but just as evacuees crossed the border into Canada this morning, they were stopped by the storm."

    "However, worst of all is Camp B, which is still stuck in a precarious situation in the middle of the city. The only safe means of evacuation for Camp B is via helicopter, but it's unknown how much longer that will be viable as the weather worsens."

    "It's a bad situation, to say the least, James. Along with this news, South America is reporting rapid vegetation growth near the Amazon, and various other forests around the world seem to be reporting similar happenings. Meanwhile, in Seattle, violent protest and civil disobedience have been reported as some are calling for war against China, claiming they are responsible for the Crawlers and now the weather in the Arctic. Then in New York, reports of a blue meteor and a girl that was described as 'darkness itself' was reported by some; however, the girl quickly vanished."

    "It's strange and uncertain times we live in, Jesse. As things have worsened, all over the world, cults of various types have been appearing like mad claiming the end of the modern world is near while offering their own brands of salvation. Some of these organizations have been reported to be involved in many criminal activities and are reportedly stealing and hoarding a large number of weapons. The actions of these cults have some state governors calling for military aid which has slowed the Anchorage response."

    "That brings us to our next story where some, including these cults, are claiming to have had some kind of experience where they were recognized by something called the 'Co..."

    Suddenly the anchor stops speaking midsentence and someone in the background can be heard yelling. The anchor's face turns a bit red and she looks back toward the screen, "We'll be back after these messages."

    Commercials start playing and the people in the room sit quietly for a moment before beginning to panic as the brittle balance of 'optimism' and 'positivity' suddenly shatters.

    "They're gonna **in' abandon us here aren't they?!"

    "Lord! What if the soldiers get called away?! We'll be left to be eaten alive!"

    "No! No! I'm not staying here to be frozen food for the Crawlers."

    Meanwhile, I'm lost in my own thoughts, 'So are there some big players who have already appeared? Or is this just things returning to normal? Let's hope it's the latter and it's only temporary. Still, if things continue to worsen this can be the opportunity I've been hoping for. The return of the cosmic mana stream was part of the reason I felt comfortable acting a bit... impulsively.

    I'd be lying if I said initially the Beta didn't make me nervous as although I wasn't completely sure how the return would happen, I leaned toward everything happening at once. At that point, I'd quickly be forgotten and left alone... if anything this is a relief. Some magical beings will hide, but others will immediately begin acting; hopefully, this will create more and more distractions.'

    Absentmindedly, I leave the building continuing my thoughts, 'But I still want those important people outside of Anchorage. What if we get stuck here disconnected from the outside world? My only connection is the Congressman who I've lost leverage over and Annie... I don't think Annie can handle things alone. Hmm, the Congressman leaves today, I think I'll say hello before they leave. In the meantime, I should look for Eden.'


    --Eden POV--

    Sylvia, Albert, and I are standing outside an operating room speaking to one of the surgeons. Albert's face is red with pain and embarrassment while Sylvia's simply expresses pain.

    "Are these two soldiers? Also, they look a bit pale, are they okay?"

    My attention turns to the two Tremble streams, 'Probably the frostbite from hiding in the hospital's freezer under a mound of frozen bags of vegetables for several hours.'

    With my usual expression, I return my attention to the surgeon and answer him as casually as I can manage, "No, Doctor, these two aren't soldiers, and yes they're fine. They are civilians that were hit by stray bullets last night. Could you help them out? This one has a bullet in her arm and he has one in his butt."

    "Hey... could you not say that so loud?" Albert asks.

    "What? About you having a bullet in your butt? There's nothing to be embarrassed about being shot in the butt." I reply.

    "...Y-Yeah. Please, just stop." Albert responds.

    The surgeon points without looking, "Why did you come to me directly and not the receptionist or even a nurse?"

    Turning around I look at the empty receptionist desk and then the hall full of random civilians.

    Without blinking I stare at the surgeon, "Because there aren't any?"

    For a second the surgeon looks confused, "...Oh. Yeah, most of them left or abandoned their positions. Sorry, I must have forgotten."

    "That's fine. I understand."

    "Just... we don't have a way to take insurance or payment anymore so just come back in a few hours and we'll... I'll remove them."

    "Okay, I..."

    Suddenly some doors at the end of the hall open and a familiar man in a gurney is being pushed down the hall. My heart rate increases rapidly as my blood begins to boil. I can feel my legs shake and my eyes burning.

    "For some godforsaken reason, they thought it was a good idea to transfer someone here. I don't know who pulled the strings, but whoever it was must hate this guy." the surgeon looks at me and raises an eyebrow, "Do you know him?"
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