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7 Chapter 7 – Specters

"I'm in!" Nick immediately answered.

Wyntor was a bit taken aback.

"That was quick," he said with a couple of blinks. "Don't you want to know anything about your job? Salary? Duties?"

"Is it worse than my current situation?" Nick asked.

Wyntor glanced around the broken and dirty home. Even though this was one of the bigger houses in the Dregs, it was still in horrendous condition.

"The chances of death are rather high," Wyntor commented. "After all, you have to interact with Specters."

Nick nodded. "So, I gotta beat some Specters up. No big deal."

Wyntor furrowed his brows in skepticism. "Do you even know what a Specter is?"

"Powerful animals or humans with some abilities, right?" Nick asked casually. "As long as I can punch them, they can die, right?"

Wyntor took a deep breath and sighed.

"That's true for some of them, but that is not the majority," he answered. "Do you know what Zephyx is?"

"Stuff we get from Specters," Nick answered with a confident nod.

"Yes, but what is it?" Wyntor asked with another sigh.

Silence.

"Energy?" Nick asked with uncertainty.

Wyntor just snorted. "That's a copout answer. You can say everything is energy, and you wouldn't be wrong."

"Have you ever heard of Prephyx?"

"Prefix? The stuff you put before words?" Nick asked.

"No, Prephyx, spelled P-R-E-P-H-Y-X, not P-R-E-F-I-X. It's like Zephyx but with pre- instead of ze-."

Nick shook his head.

"Alright," Wyntor said with a bit of annoyance. "Lemme just give you a quick rundown of how the world actually works."

Nick nodded and listened to Wyntor.

"Prephyx is an invisible force of energy that exists all over the world. It can only be detected by very advanced equipment and by very powerful Extractors. Prephyx has an incredible amount of energy stored inside of it."

"Sadly, we can't access the Prephyx in the atmosphere. We simply don't have any means to actually make use of the energy stored inside the Prephyx."

"When the Prephyx in the atmosphere gains a certain level of density, it can create a Specter. A Specter is something that can transform Prephyx into Zephyx, which is a usable form of Prephyx."

"A Specter is not necessarily alive, and it is not necessarily intelligent. Additionally, Specters are unique, which means that there is only one Specter of any kind in the world. There are never two or more Specters that are identical. In general, Specters appear in one of three different forms, but there can be exceptions.

"One, a Force Specter. A Force Specter can be an intelligent or non-intelligent being that consists of forms of energy. For example, the Specter we call The Fog is a formless cloud of something that mimics fog."

"It is unintelligent and only follows its basic instinct. From time to time, it wanders through some parts of the city and engulfs someone. That person will then wander aimlessly in the fog until they die of starvation."

"You can't feel The Fog. You can't punch The Fog. You can't run out of The Fog. If it catches you, you will die unless you are a strong Zephyx Extractor that has equipment and abilities based on Zephyx."

"Is The Fog still around?" Nick asked.

Wyntor laughed bitterly. "Have you forgotten what I said earlier? When Prephyx reaches a certain density, a Specter can appear."

"Something like The Fog is extremely difficult to contain. Additionally, it only consumes about one human every month. The Fog is a level two Specter, which makes it stronger than the most common Specters, but it only consumes one human every month."

"Now, if we were to kill it, its energy would disperse into the atmosphere again, and we would quickly find a couple more level one Specters in the world, and chances are that they will cost more human lives than The Fog."lightsnovel

"Wait!" Nick shouted. "But can't we just store all the Zephyx of The Fog after killing it?"

Surprisingly, Wyntor nodded. "We can."

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"But it doesn't change anything."

"What?" Nick asked in surprise.

Wyntor nodded again. "Naturally, when we kill a Specter, we store all their energy, but it doesn't change anything. If we ignore all the energy and let it disperse, a couple of level one Specters will appear. If we store all the energy and don't let it disperse, a couple of level one Specters will still appear."

"No matter what we do, killing a Specter will always result in the creation of more, weaker Specters."

Nick looked at the ground with a worried expression.

That was… troublesome.

This meant that they couldn't possibly get rid of the Specters.

Wyntor noticed Nick's crestfallen expression. "It's not as hopeless as you think."

Nick looked at Wyntor.

"Humanity's ultimate plan for survival is to contain every single Specter in the world without killing them. If we can do that, all the Specters would essentially become irrelevant since they wouldn't be a danger anymore," Wyntor explained.

Nick furrowed his brows again. "That sounds difficult. There are probably a lot of Specters."

"Oh, the numbers aren't the problem," Wyntor said casually. "You have no idea how powerful Extractors can become. The issue isn't the number, but the power of the Specters."

"Please remember that everything we are talking about is subject to the NDA. If you tell anyone else about it, your life will essentially be forfeit."

Nick nodded.

Wyntor nodded back. "Specters are categorized into different levels of power. Every new Specter starts at level one. This makes them more powerful than every normal human, but people with an attuned Zephyx Synchronizer can fight them."

"Specters and Extractors can both become more powerful. The strongest Zephyx Extractors that exist are level eight, and we have a single-digit number of them."

"However, there is a two-digit number of level eight Specters in the world."

Nick looked with shock at Wyntor.

And then, Nick remembered something he had witnessed several times by now.

"What about Nurse Alice?" he asked.

Everyone knew about Nurse Alice.

Everyone in the Dregs had seen Nurse Alice.

And everyone knew that Nurse Alice was a Specter.

Wyntor sighed. "Nurse Alice is one of the five level nine Specters."

Nick took a deep breath.

"There are exactly five level nine Specters in the world, and even if all of humanity banded together, we wouldn't be able to stop even a single one of them."

"Nurse Alice is probably the most damaging Specter in the entire world. She kills hundreds and sometimes even thousands of humans every single day."

"But her power is so great that nobody can do anything against her."

"She does whatever she wants, and we can do nothing but watch."

"And there are four more like her."