Chapter 2 Rayleigh Rush

Four-year-old Rayleigh Rush was abruptly awoken from his sleep by the sound of shouting outside his bedroom window. He just had the strangest dream. He was having a dance battle with the Mad Hatter but got served by the Mad Hatter's futterwacken.

Oh, and he got hit by a truck, died, ended up in a Tavern, and agreed to reincarnate into some kind of Game. Certainly, an odd dream.

The room the four-year-old found himself in upon awakening was bare of the essential amenities usually found in a small child's living quarters. Other than the presence of a small, stained mattress on the floor, one would never think that this was the room of a child at all. Half the room was filled with junk belonging to the boy's father, clearly marking the room's purpose as closer to that of a storage closet than a child's bedroom.

The sole window in the apartment was in this room, and it did not open. It was also airtight and bulletproof. Considering the noisy side-walk and traffic at the other end, the window's presence was not a great benefit to the room. The apartment's second, larger bedroom, was on the opposite end of the property, as far from the window as it could be.

When Rayleigh moved the window blinds to see the source of the disturbance that had awoken him, he was both surprised and not surprised.

Outside his window were two humans in security uniforms shouting abrasively at three aliens. The aliens had four legs and two chunky arms and looked kind of like centaur-humanoid-scorpions, minus the tail.

The surprise came from the fact that he was looking at aliens. The lack of surprise came from his existing knowledge that those aliens were the local species of this planet and that they were common enough to see around. Rayleigh felt both surprised and not because his two sets of memories were conflicting with one another and it was starting to give him a headache.

[You have been invited to Orientation. Select Enter to enter the Tavern.
Enter | Not Now]

Rayleigh took a moment to look over the pop-up in front of him but didn't question it. He mentally selected Enter and his field of vision whited out.

When his senses returned, there were several changes. The first and most noticeable thing was that he was sitting at a booth table in a large, cozy, warmly lit Tavern. The second change was that he was no longer in the form of a four-year-old but had a figure closer to his late teens or early twenties, making him a young adult. He was wearing brown robes, and there was a mirror on the wall at the end of the booth.

Rayleigh took a look at his reflection and mentally sighed. This wasn't the face of his past life, but an older version of his current form as Rayleigh Rush. He was handsome, with a slender face and a sharp chin, but he had brown eyes and brown hair. Why couldn't he have been a blonde or a redhead? This was reincarnation, right? Why couldn't his hair be multicolored with highlights like certain card-paying anime characters? He was far from ugly, but he didn't stand out in any way either.

His observations were interrupted by the thump of something being set on the table. He turned and saw a beautiful brunette woman with wild hair and green eyes setting down a large glass mug of beer. She wore a server's uniform with a frilly apron and skirt and assessed him for a moment before she pushed the perspiring glass towards him with a smile. "This will help with the headache, Red will be over in a few moments to give you the Orientation."

Without waiting for Rayleigh to formulate a response, the bar maiden left, though Rayleigh couldn't guess why. The Tavern was very large, with over a dozen booths on the walls and many large, round, wooden tables with chairs evenly spaced everywhere. There was easily enough room for a hundred people to sit comfortably, but Rayleigh didn't see a single soul in any of the other seats. Even the barstools and the long bar table at the side were void of occupants.

On the other side of the Tavern was a set of stairs that led to an upper deck that overlooked the lower Tavern. The layout of the Tavern actually reminded him of the Guild Hall of Fairy Tail. Rayleigh couldn't see what was up there, but he did see a lumberjack slowly descending the stairs. Rayleigh wasn't sure if he was actually a lumberjack, but the man had a massive frame with bulging arms and a thick red beard. He wore a beanie, a red and black checkered plaid shirt, jeans, overalls, and thick black boots. If there was a textbook definition of a lumberjack, this man's picture would be next to it, minus the ax.

The red-bearded man approached the booth and stopped before taking a seat, meeting Rayleigh's gaze. He pointed at the beer and said, "Drink up while it's cold. It'll help."

Rayleigh figured the man was talking about the headache. The barmaiden did claim it would help, but last he checked, beer didn't make headaches go away, it made you too wasted to notice. That being said, this mighty lumberjack wasn't someone Rayleigh felt he could win an argument against and come out in one piece, so he lifted the glass and easily downed a third. It was the best beer he'd ever had.

The newcomer nodded and took a seat opposite his own in the booth. "Due to some circumstances, you're the only Player who didn't sync completely, so we invited you first for Orientation to help the synchronization go through."

It was then that Rayleigh noticed the headache was fading and his scattered, jumbled head seemed to be rearranging itself into proper order. Now, he remembered a few things. He looked up from the glass and said, "Hello again." This red-bearded man was the one he had spoken with before his reincarnation. The one who helped him decide his backstory. Just about everything that was Rayleigh's life was decided during that time. He'd made it that way on purpose to ensure he had no attachments before being taken by the Jedi.

At the beginning of his setup for the Game, one of his five rolls was a fantastic set of [18, 15, 12.]. He assigned the 18 to his Primary Class of Jedi and the 15 to his Secondary Class of Hunter. He even took the 20 Talent Bundle for his Jedi Class and remembered meeting Red, who gave him six cards to choose from. Not all Players got to choose details of their backstory; it depended on what Skills and Talents you picked, and that determined how flexible the Tavern could be. The 20 Talent Bundle included an Instant Mastery, but which one he chose would heavily determine his backstory, so he had to choose wisely.

[Trained by the Masters of Coruscant; Instant Mastery: Battle Precognition.]
[Trained by the Archeologists of Tython; Instant Mastery: Psychometry.]
[Trained by a Wandering Jedi; Instant Mastery: Tutaminis.]
[Trained by a Wandering Sith; Instant Mastery: Midichlorian Manipulation.]
[Trained by a Veteran Bounty Hunter; Instant Mastery: Drain Knowledge.]
[Not Trained, born into a Wealthy family; Instant Mastery: Precognition.]

An Instant Mastery was a high-level skill he'd be able to use right away at the level of high mastery, even without obtaining the prerequisite proficiencies the skill initially required to learn. He had chosen [Trained by the Archeologists of Tython; Instant Mastery: Psychometry.]

The reason was that Psychometry was a broken skill. In the 7th Star Wars movie, the MC obtained Luke Skywalker's skill with a lightsaber just by holding it. The mechanism behind this was Psychometry. Drain Knowledge only allowed someone to steal what a person knew. Psychometry allowed someone to obtain someone's actual skill and wasn't a Dark Side technique either. Since he'd lose all his Metaknowledge during Gameplay, this was an extremely useful cheat to have right from the start. All the disadvantages that came from not training on Coruscant could be negated through the clever use of Psychometry.

That, and Tython was way more fun than Coruscant.

As for everything else he obtained, he didn't know. Red had told him that it would be decided by how many other Players chose the 20 Talent Force Bundle.

Red nodded back to Rayleigh's acknowledgment and stated, "The main reason for your headache was because of something we weren't expecting. Of all the Players who got a 20 Talent Bundle, you're the only one who got one for the Jedi Class. Everyone else with a 20 Talent Bundle selected a different Class."

Rayleigh asked, "How many got the Bundle? And why did that give me a headache?" In fact, his headache wasn't completely gone, so he downed another few gulps of the healing amber nectar.

"Can't tell you how many. In fact, with the exception of those who got the bundle, everyone else won't even recall the existence of the bundle even at the Tavern. It's up to you if you want to tell anyone. As for why you got a headache, this is what we ended up including in your Bundle."

Red then snapped, and a pop-up appeared in front of him.

[Rayleigh's 20 Talent Jedi Bundle.
-Jedi Talent: Midichlorian Count of 39,000
-Balance of the Force

Instant Mastery (Can be used without Prerequisites.)

Easy Mastery
-Sense (Locked)
-Alter (Locked)
-Shatterpoint (Locked)
-Dark Transfer (Locked)

-Lightsaber Customization Kit
-Mandalorian Melee Shield
-HK47's Head]

Rayleigh did a spit take at the massive list, but the beer vanished before reaching Red, and the glass was refilled. Not bothering to question either, he instead asked, "Isn't that a lot more than 10 points of stuff?"

Red nodded solemnly, but a bit of a smile was poorly hidden behind the beard. "The Bundle includes the Super Talent and a Special Ability, and the rest comes from a pre-allocated list of free stuff. The free stuff is supposed to be evenly distributed among everyone who chooses the 20 Talent Bundle. Usually, there are at least two, three, or even four per Class. There certainly were for the other Classes. This is a first. Since you were the only recipient in the Jedi Class, you won the Jackpot and got all the freebies. We also threw the head in since no one else wanted it."

Rayleigh quickly began to feel excited, but the moment he looked over the list again, he deflated. "Why isn't immunity to personality changes there, and what is Balance of the Force?"

Red chuckled. "Noticed that right away, huh? Well, I guess there's not too much harm in telling you. All the 20 Talent Bundles include weaknesses to prevent them from becoming unbeatable. Those weaknesses are hidden in their exclusive Special Abilities. The Jedi Special Ability is derived from being the Chosen of the Force. The Ability, Balance of the Force, increases your Force abilities the closer you are to perfectly balanced in the Force. However, if you veer too far from being balanced, your Force abilities may weaken. We estimate Anakin and Luke Skywalker had this. That is why Vader became weaker after falling, not because of his missing limbs. Since you are stronger if balanced, we can't just give you an ability that automatically balances you; you have to do it on your own."

Rayleigh downed another bit of his glass, but the refreshing brew couldn't hold back his frown. "With that much power and without anything to stop me, aren't you worried I'll become some kind of mad supervillain?"

Red chuckled again but didn't answer.

Rayleigh's eyes widened. He voiced his suspicion, "Is that what you want to happen?" What made him most suspicious was Dark Transfer. That was considered a Dark Side skill and abusing it or even just using it incorrectly could easily unbalance him. Why include such a skill in a list to freely give to those who will already be overpowered?

Red answered this time, "Well, it makes things interesting, don't you think? If some of you 20 Talent Players become Villains, the other Players will be forced to team up and some strengths are only shown when Playing in Co-Op. What's wrong with having a dozen or so surprise bosses show up here and there? Besides, we're not making anyone do anything. If you go down a path of evil, it's your choice. No one's gonna force you. Hehe, get it? Force?"

Ray gave him his flattest stare and asked, "Is it okay to tell me this?"

"Sure. Your metaknowledge isn't sealed in the Tavern, but you're certainly not going to recall this information when you return. You can tell others in the Tavern if you want, but most will figure it out on their own, and telling them reveals you are one of the 20 Talent Players. Anyways, finish your glass and we'll begin your Orientation."

Rayleigh nodded and emptied his mug.

Red started, "First, the basics. That's the stuff I have to at least say once aloud. Although plenty of Players will do evil things, there is a limit to what you can do. If you do something completely evil to someone who doesn't deserve it, we'll know. If you're about to do something that goes beyond a certain line, you'll get a pop-up warning. If you do it anyway, you'll get sanctioned and get a bounty. You won't be able to return to the Tavern and other Players will be able to get a reward for killing you."

"If you die, all your Class progression goes to zero. For example, the Jedi train by strengthening their connection to the Force. If you were to train for a decade as a Jedi and die or get killed, your connection to the Force will be reset and you'd have to train to reform the connection from scratch. The same goes for your progression in all class skills and abilities, so try not to die pointlessly. As for how dying and coming back works, you'll find out later unless you die from something stupid early on. If you do an unreasonable number of evil things before dying, you won't be allowed to revive either."

"Once a day, you can enter the Tavern for two hours. There are two ways to enter the Tavern. If you enter while in an enclosed space or under observation, you will only enter mentally. Your body stays where it is and goes into autopilot, just doing things you'd normally do. If something dangerous happens to your body while it's on autopilot, you'll automatically return to it, even if you haven't spent a full two hours in the Tavern. You'll always have the memories of your time on autopilot upon returning. During each visit to the Tavern, you can get one beer for free. Once you're strong enough after having trained your class for a while, you can go upstairs and start doing Tavern Missions that award Mission Points. Among other things, Mission Points can be used to buy more food and drink from the Tavern."

"If you are not in an enclosed space, you can enter the Tavern physically. Doing so makes you vanish from where you entered, though you can't enter if observed or restrained in any way. Some things available in the Tavern can only be done if you physically enter. World Travel, for example. Also, if you enter physically and then order some food, you can eat with your real body. All Tavern food is delicious, nutritious, and filling, no matter what you order."

"Class skills and abilities cannot be used in the Tavern, though there is an Arena you can use to fight certain figures, and it can even be used to fight Players that agree to a match. Fighting inside the Tavern outside the Arena can get you penalties and fines. Any questions so far?"

"Yeah, when can I start doing missions?"

"Well, you have a Lightsaber and an Instant Mastery which doubtlessly gives you some advantages. If you reach the point where you're pretty sure you can hunt a pack of a half dozen hungry wolves on your own, that'd be good enough for the First Mission. Don't overestimate yourself though. Doing the First Mission too early has something of a penalty if you're too weak. Other questions related to Missions and Mission Points can wait until you're strong enough to take them."

Rayleigh had more questions about that but decided to hold them for now. Next, he asked, "When can I go to the Hunter World to unlock my next class?"

"Technically, whenever you want, but I'd hold off for a while. Your first Identity for your Primary Class World and the MCU World are both free, but creating an Identity for your Secondary Class is not. If you go there without spending any points, you'd have to start in Meteor City since you wouldn't have an ID or backstory. You'll just appear there with your Metaknowledge sealed, clueless about what to do next. You should wait until you have enough Mission Points to buy a good ID before going to another world. The more Points you use, the better the ID. For example, with enough points, you could start with a bank account that has a hundred billion Zenny and have Two-Star Hunter as a private Tutor."

That got Rayleigh's attention. Greed Island was purchased for 3 billion Zenny, so that kind of start-up was very tempting.

Next, Rayleigh asked, "What about timelines? When am I in the Star Wars Canon and when would I enter the Hunter Canon?"

"All Players are the same age as the Main Character for each World, give or take a few months. Those characters are Goku, Harry Potter, Naruto, Gon, Luffy, and Anakin."

"Wait, so all the Wizard Class Players will be in Harry Potter's Year?"

"They can be, but they won't. We've changed the Canon for each world to accommodate the Players. The U.S. in the Wizarding World will include two more Schools. One for Voodoo and Hoodoo in the South, and one for Shamans in the West. Though those are just specialties. General Wand spells are about the same in most schools. Players who choose Wizard as their Primary Class can attend Ilvermorny or those two or any other existing Magic School like the one in Japan or Africa, so there won't be a massive jump in students for Harry's year. Those U.S. Schools will even have their own U.S. Triwizard Tournament, so the Wizard Players in the U.S. will have plenty of fun and a lot less danger. Another change we made is that Branch Hyƫgas won't get the Caged Bird Seal and Uchihas of Sasuke's age and younger won't be killed by Itachi, so the Players who chose the Uchiha bloodline won't get killed off at the age of 8."

He continued, "Since you chose Tython, we made some changes there as well. We also made a change so that the first time you get your Midichlorians checked, an error will occur so that the Jedi Council won't know you're a Force-Born, though if you bring attention to it or get tested again, things will go sideways quickly."

Red then looked over at a wall before turning back and stating, "Alright, you get one last question."

"What? Why?"

Red smiled, "Is that gonna be your last question?"

Rayleigh quickly shook his head and, after another moment, asked, "When will I meet a Jedi?"

"That would be today. Hmm. Most of what you've learned is Metaknowledge, so it will be sealed when you return, but I'll let you keep that one. I got more Orientations to do, so time to go. Oh, and don't forget to open the Chat Room."

Before Rayleigh could ask what the Chat Room was, the space whited out again and he lost all his senses. It took a moment for him to get them back, and he found himself in bed again, back in his four-year-old body under the covers.

Ray no longer had a headache, but his head was still strange. All his knowledge from his past life and his memories from the Tavern had been separated from his current four-year-old life's memories. Inside his head, there was now a separate room with a glass wall and a door. All his knowledge, minus the Metaknowledge from the classes, of his previous life and the unsealed knowledge from the Tavern was in that room.

If Ray looked through the glass wall, it was like having some access to knowledge from his past life. If it didn't look through the wall, then he didn't have access to the knowledge and wasn't too different from a normal four-year-old mentally. If he entered the room, he had all the knowledge and experience of his past life with one exception. He could not recall his name from his previous life.

Ray didn't want to get caught acting like a fake kid, so he would avoid looking through the wall when adults were around. For now, there were some things he had to deduce.

Much of his conversation with Red was filled with static, except for his last few sentences, informing Ray that he'd meet a Jedi today. Even with his Metaknowledge sealed, little Ray still had an idea of what a Jedi was. Most kids in the Republic grew up raised on stories of the Jedi, so Ray's knowledge of them amounted to benevolent Knights with Laser Swords.

Ray also remembered what Red said about a Chat Room. He wondered for a moment what it was before he noticed that in the corner of his vision there was a blinking icon, a set of three horizontal lines in a circle. The Universal sign for Menu.

Ray concentrated on it for a moment, and a see-through window appeared in front of him.

[Rayleigh Rush
Roll: 18, 15, 12. Age 4
Primary Class: Jedi]

[Open Chat Rooms]
[Open Item Inventory]
[Open Class Talents and Masteries]
[Open Point Store (Locked)]
[Go to Tavern (Locked/Used Today)]

Before opening the Chat Room, he opened the Inventory and Talent and Masteries sections.

-Lightsaber Customization Kit
-Mandalorian Melee Shield
-HK47's Head
-Zoldyck Family Adjustable Training Weight Set]

[Class Talents and Masteries

-Jedi Talent: Midichlorian Count of 39,000
-Balance of the Force (Power Amplified when in Balance with the Force)
-Hunter Talent: 1 in 10,000,000 Nen Talent (Locked)
-Pirate Haki Talent: Prodigy (Locked)

Instant Mastery (Can be used without Prerequisites)

Easy Mastery
-Sense (Locked)
-Alter (Locked)
-Shatterpoint (Locked)
-Dark Transfer (Locked)
-Enhancer Proficiency (Locked)]

The long list of items surprised and pleased the four-year-old child. It was like Christmas and his Birthday at the same time, with double chocolate cake!

He clicked on a few of them, which caused a new page and a description to appear.

[Lightsaber Customization Kit: The tools needed to change a Lightsaber into a Double-Bladed Lightsaber, a Lightsaber Blaster, a Lightsaber Whip, or any other configuration that exists. If you have a Lightsaber in your Inventory, customizations done using this Kit will not be reverted if the Lightsaber's projection is disabled and re-enabled.]

[HK-47's Head: The head of the notorious Assassin Droid HK-47, a Hunter-Killer model droid built and programmed by the Sith Lord, Darth Revan. Contains knowledge about the Jedi, the Sith, how to effectively kill them, and just about everything else. The Droid's memories will not be reset if the projection is disabled and re-enabled.]

[Control: The ability to control the Force within your own body. Trained through meditation and self-discipline.]

[Sense: The ability to sense and interpret the Force outside the body. Requires greater Control Proficiency to Unlock.]

[Dark Transfer: The ability to inject the Force into perceived weak spots. Can be used to destroy or heal. Requires greater Shatterpoint, Healing, and Alter Proficiency to Unlock.]

From what Ray could tell, a Jedi seemed to be a kind of psychic, and since he had a laser sword, it could be something of a martial psychic. This pleased him.

In his past life, the class he liked the most was Dungeon&Dragons 3.5e's Psionic Striker Class. The Jedi seemed to have more than a few similarities with one, and in his past life, he meditated a lot, which he figured should help with the training. Though he didn't meditate because he was spiritual or needed balance, he meditated because frequent meditation made you healthier and that was cheaper than going to the doctor for a checkup. He was very, very cheap in his previous life.

From what he had available now, he could take out a lightsaber and use that, or use Psychometry. He immediately decided against the first. A Laser sword was not a toy. Psychometry, though, was worth testing. Ray got off his bed and touched one of the pieces of junk stored in his room. When he used psychometry, he received a memory of the item going through his father's hands, but that was it. The item had no other memory of being in the hands of another being. That wasn't too surprising. Even with his Metaknowledge sealed, Ray's past life knew what psychometry was from other sources. It granted access to the memories of interactions with living people. Most of the junk stored in his room was made by robots, so he couldn't see much except for his father taking it from somewhere and putting it in this room.

That said, there was another thing in his room he could test his Psychometry on. Ray moved his bed, and beneath it was a hidden safe. His father threw Ray out of the room and closed the door anytime he opened it, and never failed to remind him what he'd do if Ray ever touched it.

So Ray touched it. From the safe's memories, he could see many times his father entered an eleven-digit passcode into the safe. The passcode used every number from zero to nine, so the fact that every number was a bit worn from use wouldn't give any useful hints to someone trying to guess the code.

If someone entered the wrong code, the alarm would sound, and it was quite loud. Ray's father got it wrong once or twice by accident, so Ray knew how loud it was. Still, Rayleigh entered the correct eleven-digit pin and the safe opened successfully. Inside was a pile of cards called "cred chips" worth a fortune and some data drives that probably had a lot of valuable, dangerous information within.

What followed next showed very clearly how much love and care Rayleigh had for his father. Ray got his backpack and emptied the safe's contents into it before closing the safe. Yep, he was robbing his father blind.

Rayleigh Rush's father was not his biological father. The man met and married Ray's mother a year ago, and six months later, she died of sickness. His name is Dilton Mallaray, and he's the Head of Security for the local spaceport. He's also scum and hid his true nature from Ray's mother right up until she died.

The main reason Mallaray didn't throw Rayleigh onto the street then was that he got his boss to give him a raise when he explained that his wife died and he needed more money to raise her child as his own. Such a heartwarming story actually worked, but Ray's standard of living certainly didn't improve from the man's additional income.

The planet they are on is called Monasta, and the mountain that the port city was built on contained metals and minerals that were heavily resistant to corrosion. These were the planet's exports, and both were mined by the planet's local species, the Scorpions. At least that was what humans labeled their species in Galactic Basic. The entire mining company was owned mostly by humans and other races, while the Scorpions were all second-class citizens or lower.

Humans didn't like this planet or the locals for a couple of reasons. The planet often rained acid, and only the Scorpions could handle it without a problem. The Scorpions were, by the standards of most races, ugly and scary-looking. And they also had a smell that many claimed to be unpleasant.

Because of these issues and many others, most humans were incredibly racist here, and Dilton Mallaray could easily be considered one of the best examples.

Mallaray was corrupt, cruel, and callous to just about anyone and everyone. The reason that Rayleigh, a four-year-old, knew so much about the planet was not that Mallaray had been diligently teaching him, but because he used all these points to threaten and scare him.

Mallaray would often claim that once Rayleigh had turned twelve, he'd force Rayleigh to work in the mines with the 'bugs'. 'Bugs' is the racist slang for the Scorpions, as if labeling them scorpions in the first place wasn't insulting enough. Some humans did work in the mine, but it was dangerous and depressing work, so it was done only by those without other options.

Ray was under the impression that once Mallaray no longer benefited from keeping him, he'd either toss him out or kill him directly. Neither option would surprise him.

So yes, Ray was going to take everything Mallaray valued and throw it away. By the time the racist scumbag figured out how screwed he was, Rayleigh would be on another planet and Mallaray would likely be killed. He knew this because when he used Psychometry on the contents of the safe, he knew that it did not belong to Mallaray. It was just held by him for some unsavory types, and they would not be pleased when they discovered Mallaray lost it.

Once his petty revenge was taken care of, he would forget his father and never think of him again. That was for the best.

For now, he had something to check out, so he tapped on another Icon in the Menu.

[Open Chat Room]

[Username: Swordsman]