Jason reached out to tap the box filled with undulating static. He noticed as he did so that he touched it with a green pseudopod."Your only goal was to kick ass and take names. To be stronger than before."
The voice was...monotonous? Female? Distorted. Robotic? Masculine. Powerful? Faint. A whisper. A recording? "You assumed to be like the apex predator. To find water, to find prey. But your rashness showed you your limits."
Jason would remember in a flash of insight how he paddled helplessly in the water after assuming he could swim like a crocodile. Had it not been for some quick and creative thinking, would he have ended up food for...whatever was in the pool?"You witnessed the nature of this world, survival of the strong. You saw an opportunity to make an ally. You withdrew from a threat you knew you could not handle...and immediately began plotting their future demise. You trained to become stronger. Joined forces with a brother. Your first thought upon finding other "heroes" such as yourself was to secure alliances for survival. You wanted power. To survive? To rule?"
The memories of his previous life played out somewhat distantly. It had been only days, yet somehow felt like months had passed."Eliminate the threats. Your first and only plans for those who oppose you. Betrayal, your greatest fear and unavoidable fate. You had to be the first one to set the terms for an alliance. They owed you the Mana Crystals, and the other resources. You had to be the one in control. You had magic. You had power. Why did Asteria have to skew everything to her twisted point of view? They should have had faith in you. You didn't know them, so you had to be in charge to make sure they could be trusted. They just had to have faith in you, because you can be trusted. You're in control."
Jason couldn't figure out, from the distorted, digitized tone of voice, whether it was just stating his thoughts or mocking him. After all, it felt like...a really long time...since some of those things had happened. This new world had changed him, hadn't it?"You knew you had to go. Something was happening. You had to be part of it. It can't happen without you. It won't be right. You have to be there to guide it. They found the cache, they drove the Goblins from the Bonfire. Now it was your time. Your time to swoop in and turn this rabble into a real army. The goblins were going to come back. You could protect them all. You were the seasoned commander. They needed to be good soldiers."
"Mourningstar. She didn't want to listen from the start, did she? No wonder she betrayed you later. How furious did that make you? Why? Why didn't she listen? But you protected them. You kept the filth away from your comrades.
You proved that you were strong. You transformed, became greater. This was only the beginning. You could grow stronger, be better...better than before. Stronger than the Old Life. You defeated Rattleskull--you were the one to end his wretched life.
And you were chosen.
You became the boss because no one else could. It had to be you, of course. The core picked you. All you wanted was to learn, to understand, and to become stronger. To do that you had to use the core. To do that you had to protect the cave. You had to protect your soldiers. But the core was trying to influence you. You didn't want it to, you knew it was trying to subvert your will. You had to be in control. You had to be the strong one. But you wanted some of the same things the core wanted. That was okay, wasn't it? Gathering the undead, that was okay. You were putting them to a purpose. You were going to free their souls. Using them as labor and as soldiers was just part of the process. A means to an end. They were yours to do with as you pleased anyway, weren't they? It was only right. You were the Boss. You had the power. You had control.
But the others didn't understand. They were fools! They were traitors! They were sickening! Destroying what you created! Destroying what you built! The Core wanted them gone--but you weren't being controlled by the core! You wanted them gone! Because you were in control. Not the core. Right?"
All these images playing through his head, Jason could see them from a completely different perspective. Right now he was outside looking in. Right now he was completely tranquil and clear. Right now he was uninfluenced, he was pure, he was truly in control of himself.
Did everything still look right to him?
No. Whatever was speaking to him, in narration of his life in this world, clearly had a few things oddly wrong, or skewed in some way. "Firstly, it's never truly been about power... Power is nothing more than a tool with which I can achieve my goals, and protect that which I care about."
he called into the void. "Beyond that, I never claimed I was owed anything from my allies, the reason I wanted to be given the crystals, was simply because I was the only individual among us that had any practical use for them... Despite the arrogant foolishness of some of the others, the only individual that betrayed me up to this point was Mourningstar, which was before the core became a part of me..."
a slow realization crept into Jason's mind. "How much of the Core was in you, Jason? How much of Jason was in the Core? Do you submit to death? Is this the end of your story? Are there no more chapters?"
The voice asked one last question."Who and What are You?
""I am Jason, former Warlord of the band of Valk, but now a budding mage in a new world. It looks to me that despite the fact I once was a man... I'm a slime in this world, one that still has hopes, dreams, and ambitions to fulfill... Thank you. You have opened my eyes."
Without hesitation, Jason hit the slime button on the menu, ready to re-enter the world.
The core needed to be dealt with.