1 Dungeon, Guide and Grinding

'Waking up in 1989 as a baby was more than a little jarring,' I thought to myself as I ducked under the lunge of the slow corpse right in front of me, 'Finding out I was in the MCU was more annoying than anything,' I countered the lunge with a swift front kick to the rotting face trying to take a bite out of me, 'But this?' I mused, angrily, 'Now this, really takes the fucking cake.'

The Zombie fell to the ground and I looked at the groaning thing as I tried to fool myself into thinking this was a dream. But that box...THAT fucking box above it's head...!

[Zombie - Lv1]

'...This isn't a dream. It stopped being a possibility when I was attacked by one of these things and how real that felt,' I shivered as I walked over to the zombie before lifting my foot and slamming it down on the corpse's head.

*Squelch!*

The sickening sound echoed through the empty room I was in but the groaning was still present, so I lifted my foot and put more force into the curb stomp.

*CRACK!*

"...Huh," I murmured to myself as my foot not only crushed the zombie skull but also went through the floor boards below it. I was physically fit - I'd made it my goal to at least prepare myself for the inevitable future I knew was ahead of me. But to send my foot through a floor board AND a skull? I could do the skull part or the floor board but not both.

It was at that point that I began to realize I'd felt extraordinarily light on my feet ever since I woke up in the rundown version of the orphanage I lived in. I'd shrugged it off as nothing more than an adrenaline spike after finding myself in a different place...but even as I felt the adrenaline from my fight with the corpse taper off, the lightness and quicker than normal reaction speed was still all there.

'Put that together with that box above the Zombies' head and I don't like my odds of this not being what I think it is,' I frowned before deciding to try out what I thought it was, "Status."

I called out and low-and-behold, something did happen.

[Congratulations on taking your first step in transcending you limits as a lowly Human--Or should we say Mutant? Because that's what you are, baby! And this place, this system - that's your power!]

I stared blankly at the box of text before closing my eyes and sighing. While massaging the bridge of my nose, I thought about my options, 'I know Mutants are a thing. I've learnt all about how a blue-skinned Mutant threatened to shoot Nixon. I've seen video evidence of a blue-furred beast being restrained by metal railings that seemed to have minds of their own. So, I know it's possible I could be a Mutant,' I let out another sigh as I opened my eyes and regarded the box of text once more, '...But a sort of system ability? One which lets me go to a sort of dungeon to kill things? Then I should have a status--' just as that thought crossed my mind, the box disappeared, replaced with another.

[Before we get started with your stats and all that, we need to decide your class! Neither the system nor you have a choice as to what you can pick but please know that it only ever picks classes that suit the user--Or at least that' what it says on the tin, you know? You're the first guy to get this power in this specific universe. Who knows what'll happen.]

I felt like it just mentally shrugged at me and I wondered if this was the system or not...because if it was, I'd rather not have the system. It seemed a bit chatty.

[Hey! That's really hurtful, you know? Well, either way, I'm only a guide. I'll be leaving after I get you settled.]

'And were you brought into existence just for this or do you do this sorta stuff often?' I asked mentally, picking up rather quickly on the fact that the textbox could hear my thoughts, 'Because if it's the latter, how strong is my mutant power to be able to spawn some random thing into existence?'

[Yeah, kid, you've got some major reality warping power. No doubt baldie is shitting himself with the power you're giving off right now - you'd measure in somewhere above Jean Grey. Which, along with my sudden existence, shows how trippy your powers are. You've subconsciously spawned a system that can edit your physical and mental abilities. Too bad you can't consciously control it and give yourself admin permissions, huh?'

Stopping for a second at the influx of information from the textbox I just blankly stared at the words before letting out another sigh - I'm doing that too much, aren't I? - before I spoke aloud, "Well, yeah. Without 'em I'm gonna have to do it the hard way," I grumbled jokingly as I heard a creak from the hallway my room was attached to.

Freezing, I decided against speaking for now and just watched as the textbox disappeared before a new one appeared.

[Class Gained!]

[Barbarian Class given to William Hastings--Completed!]

I felt somewhat surprised by the class I'd gained but I didn't have any time to voice out my questions as another box popped up - a box I recognized as a status page. 'About goddamn time, as well. I'd called out the word how long ago?' I shook my head as I looked at the status.

[Name: William Hastings]

[Race: N/A]

[Class: Barbarian Lv1]

[Rage: 10/10]

[EXP: 010/100]

[Strength: 10]

[Dexterity: 10]

[Constitution: 10]

[Intelligence: 10]

[Wisdom: 10]

[Sense: 10]

[For reference, the peak a human can attain is 10-11]

[Class Abilities: Rage (Active), Unarmored Defense (Passive) and Danger Sense (Passive)]

[Skills: N/A]

'...Those stats would explain why I feel so goddamn strong,' I thought to myself before I found my eyes glued on the class abilities. Focusing on the first one, [Rage], I found another textbox popping up.

[Name: Rage (Active)]

[Duration: 1 Rage per 30 Seconds Active (Draining Your Rage Below 25% Enacts the Debuff)]

[Information: By taping into the primal rage all Barbarians can, you can temporarily buff your STR, CON and DEX by 25%. Overuse of this skill can lead to extreme exhaustion and a 25% debuff to INT, WIS and SEN.]

Seeing the information was useful for my current situations, I looked to my other class abilities.

[Name: Unarmored Defense (Passive)]

[Information: The Rage that flows through your body has increased your endurance and ability to take attacks, giving you inhuman toughness. (AC = 20 + Dexterity Modifier + Constitution Modifier)]

'Hmm...Hey, guide, you still there?' I wondered in my head.

[Yep! You need something?]

Nodding my head, I pointed to the part of the box that spoke about modifiers, 'What are these modifiers?'

[Well, modifiers are how your stats interact with your class skills. Right now, you add a negative modifier of -5 from both Dexterity and Constitution. Which leaves you with an armor count of 10. Which is like wearing soft padding that can soften blows and make your skin harder to cut. 20 would be like wearing top-quality steel plate armor. Before you ask...getting your modifiers to add 0 to the base 20, you need to get your Dexterity and Constitution to 100. Each. But each extra 20 you get in each stat will make that -5 go from -5 to -4 and from that it'll go to -3 and so on and so forth. Get it?]

'Pretty much, yeah. Every twenty stats I get in those specific stats, I'll make the modifiers for them better until they stop being negative and start instead being a positive,' I replied before narrowing my eyes at another piece of information, 'What does this mean? I don't have a race?' I asked, pointing at the 'N/A' part after race.

[You have a race, sure. You're a Human Mutant. But you don't get any specific bonuses from it, so the system left it blank. You'll get a chance at a race sometime in the future - all it does is give bonus stats and skills. You won't suddenly change appearance or anything like that.]

Nodding, I went back to looking at my last skill.

[Name: Danger Sense (Passive)]

[Information: Due to being in-tune with your primal self, you've gained an uncanny sense of when things nearby aren't as they should be, giving you an edge when you react to danger.]

'...Useful,' I noted as I felt some kind of feeling poking at the back of my head as I looked at the door to the room I was in, 'I presume this is Danger Sense?'

[It is.]

Having that question cleared up, I crept close to the door and the poking turned to a stab as I lifted my hand up to the door handle. Silently, I opened the door and peeked out before I froze and robotically closed the door silently again.

The hallway was filled with Zombies. They were awake and weren't groaning, but they were still alive - given the fact they were standing up straight and slowly swaying from side-to-side.

'Jesus Christ...talking aloud really was a bad fucking idea,' I reprimanded myself before looking around the room I was in before my eyes landed on the window. Creeping over to it with more self-conscious steps than before, I got a hold on my growing anxiety and kept myself calm enough that I wouldn't do anything stupid. Because if I did...I was gonna get ripped apart by a horde of zombies. In front of my window, I slowly opened it, cringing when it creaked ever-so slightly but continuing to open it when I realized it hadn't awoken the horde of zombies in the hallway.

Looking down at the one storey drop, I bit my lip before asking the guide one more question, '...Last question, guide. If I die, do I die for good? Or do I respawn?'

[You respawn, of course. But you'll still feel the horrible pain of dying. Say if those zombies broke in from the hallway, you'd feel the pain of being eaten alive. The act of dying is painful mentally, as well. I'd recommend not doing it too much.]

'Hadn't planned on it,' I weakly smiled before stepping onto the window frame, my bare feet impervious to the rotten wood's splinters. Holding the sides of the window, I took a deep breath before I threw myself out of my room. It wasn't the first time I'd jumped out my window, either. As weird as that sounds. But curfews are a bitch and when you need to make money like me...you do what you gotta do and sneak out the window.

Except this time, I had enhanced stats on my side. If 10 was the peak of a natural human, then I should be fine with this kind of fall, right?

I was, in fact, right.

The fall and roll that came after, were easy. Too easy. It was like my body was triple or maybe even quadruple times tougher than before. The fall felt...smaller, than I remembered.

Coming to a stop, I looked at my hands before shaking my head, 'You've discovered you have reality bending powers...and you get shocked when you can survive a single story fall? Get a grip, Will,' I chided myself as I brought myself back into focus, my eyes snapping around the dreary outsides of the orphanage.

The sky was dark, covered in storm clouds and a faint layer of fog was rolling across the ground as far as I could see. Luckily it was only ankle deep, so I could easily see the dead(?) corpses laying around.

'Getting ambushed by those would probably make me shit myself,' I joked as I stood up while continuing to look around. What for? A weapon, of course.

[You don't need a weapon, William. With your 10 in Constitution plus your Unarmored Defense skill, a simple punch can no longer break your skin, if that's what you're worried about. Neither can these zombies infect you and turn you into a zombie. You've been taking Martial Arts lessons, no? This would be a good time to put them to use.]

I took what it said with a grain of salt, not really sure whether it was playing up my abilities or not. 'Besides...having all that gore on my hands? Kinda makes me feel sick thinking about it,' I rebutted the suggestion but kept it in mind as I walked, following the wall to my left as I walked around the orphanage.

Unfortunately though every potential weapon I found was rusted, rotting or just plain out of steam. I doubt I could do anything with them even if I did use them.

So, in the end, I settled with wearing some gardeners gloves. Begrudgingly.

After all, what the guide had said did hold some weight. Specifically in what he said about me taking up martial arts. Ever since I could walk and talk to the orphanage matron and patron, I'd only ever asked for one thing: martial arts lessons.

Why? Well, to get my body into shape, for one. Secondly, doing martial arts would actually allow me to gain some level of power. My goal before this power was to join SHIELD somehow, get to Coulson or Nick Fury and then convince them about how HYDRA had infested their organization. After that, I'd be on the good guys side and I could either live it easy or somehow find out a way to gain superpowers.

Even after reincarnating, I wasn't some science whizz, so I couldn't take the Oz Serum and iron out the problems with it. Nor could I just take the spider bite from Peter Parker - not because I'm that nice of a guy or anything but rather because who knows how my body would react to it. Maybe it could kill me or mutate me into a Man-Spider creature. It was risk I wasn't willing to take.

So, I settled on martial arts. And good thing too. Why?

Because I was really fucking good at them. This body's natural talent for fighting and combat...was absolutely phenomenal.

All of which was put on display as I walked around the corner of the orphanages backyard and was face to face with two zombies who groggily turned to me before groaning and speed-walking at me.

Not wanting to wait for them to get to me, I burst forward and brought my right foot up and sent a hook kick at the nearest zombie's head. Slamming against the corpse's rotting head, it lost balance and slammed into the orphanage's wall with a dull thud. Taking advantage of the zombie's dazed state, I stepped toward the other zombie, ignoring a prompt that came up in the corner of my eye. Setting my stance into a steady one, I turned sideways and faced my shoulder at the coming zombie and then crouched slightly before leaning toward the zombie.

Once I'd down that, I extended my legs and drove my shoulder into the diaphragm/sternum area of the zombie with maximum force. A solid crack was heard as the zombie flew back, it's feet lifted off the ground and when I got a look at it's chest, I was somewhat stunned by the fact it was completely caved in like it'd been hit by a sledgehammer.

Though the stunned state lasted a mere moment as I turned my head to the zombie I'd kicked and I pivoted my feet to steady myself before I slammed my gloved fist right into it's head as I tried to recover from it's leaning state.

The head completely turned to gore, like I was sure it would, a small whipping sound coming from the air around my arm. 'Fast,' I noted, 'And incredibly strong. My punches were already enough to rock the block of just about any normal person I met...but they were never this strong,' I smiled to myself, maybe a little too wide, as I heard more groaning from the zombie I'd shoulder barged away.

Turning my head, I regarded the zombie with the caved in chest. Behind it, a few more zombies sauntered into the small alleyway between the orphanage and the building next to it.

My smile didn't disappear at the appearance of more zombies - in fact, it made my smile wider.

'...I always knew I enjoyed fighting a little too much,' I noted with a joking attitude, 'But gaining this power seems to have only made it worse!'

And with that, I burst into action.

. . .

[EXP: 040/200]

I looked at the bar of experience as I felt the recent improvements in my body. I'd leveled up in that last fight and it'd made me feel like I was on drugs as my body was flooded with power and vitality while my senses got even keener.

Taking a look at my status, I saw why.

[Name: William Hastings]

[Race: N/A]

[Class: Barbarian Lv2]

[Rage: 18/18]

[EXP: 040/200]

[Strength: 18]

[Dexterity: 10]

[Constitution: 18]

[Intelligence: 10]

[Wisdom: 10]

[Sense: 15]

[Unallocated SP: 5]

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[Class Abilities: Rage (Active), Unarmored Defense (Passive) and Danger Sense (Passive)]

[Skills: Beginner Unarmed Combat Lv1]

Leaning against my now ungloved hands, I looked at one specific place.

'Unallocated SP, huh?' I looked at it before easily deciding where these points needed to go, '5 SP to Dexterity,' I mentally mused, wondering if it'd work and to my surprise, it did. I felt like a bolt of lightning was travelling through my body and for a second, I froze as I felt every nerve in my body light up like a 4th of July firework party. But that quickly passed, alongside the buzzing I felt in my muscles and joints.

Once it was over, I felt even lighter on my feet and my control over my body and my strength seemed to have skyrocketed even further. Things definitely seemed easier to react to as well - the occasional zombie I could see were looking even slower than before.

Right now, I was on top of a rundown bus and because none of the zombies seemed to be able to look up, I was easily able to avoid their gaze and the subsequent ire they have for the living.

Out of nowhere, a textbox jumped up in front of me.

[It's about time I get going anyway, William, so keep up the good work. Oh, and you'll be summoned to fight the boss when you kill you 1000th zombie, so get ready for that. You also won't be able to leave this place until you kill the boss. Visits to this place after this instance won't be like this and you'll be able to come and go as you like - but this is a sort of tutorial, so it's a bit different than usual.]

"Hm," I nodded, "See-ya around then, guide. If that's possible or whatever," I waved at nothing and then everything went silent. Leaning back on my hands, I chewed the inside of my cheek as I wondered aloud, "The fact they gave my [Beginner Unarmed Combat] kinda pisses me off but I guess my experience with unarmed fighting will help level it up quicker..."

Though before long, the thinking began to bother me so I decided to get this whole thing over with and hopped off the top of the bus.

I had some level and skill grinding to do. Still had to test out my active ability as well.

So, smilingly, I got to it.

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