Author: Angelan PM
Jacen Kyler is an 18 year old high school student, who plays Virtual games in his spare time, even earning the name of Clearer, someone who professionally clears games. One day he gets an invite to play Earthwreck, an exclusive Virtual game. But everything about the game, including the full immersion system hides a dark secret...Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Chapters: 3 - Words: 8,030 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 03-28-13 - Published: 02-16-13 - id: 3101387
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
28th September 2027 4:56PM
Welcome to Earthwreck Player. Are you ready?
Those were the first words anyone saw as they entered the game. But I couldn't help think of them now as I watched the player before me as he attempted to kill the small creature in front of us. The creature was called a Momosi, a strange looking creature that resembled a rabbit the size of a small dog. It was completely hairless and covered in scales. It was normally a harmless animal, but once provoked it could be a dangerous creature to battle because of its reaction time.
I laughed for the third time that hour as my companion, Azurus was knocked on his backside by the Momosi's charge attack and cried out from the shock of the impact.
"It's not funny, Kyler!" Azurus exclaimed as he grabbed his sword and levered himself from the ground. "That last attack really hurt."
"Of course it does," I replied, "Its full immersion, remember. If you don't want it to hurt that much, increase the pain absorption rate."
"Oh right," Azurus replied, scratching the back of his neck, "I forgot about that." He lifted his hand and using his index and middle finger ran them down in a vertical line, bringing up the in game menu, which was only visible to him. I shook my head at this guy, who had run up to me the moment he saw I was skilled at the game and asked for my help. I normally didn't play with other players, but his light hearted attitude seemed to make things more enjoyable.
"Hey Azurus," I said looking at the player. His avatar was a medium height guy with bright red anime style hair and a tanned complexion. It was in contrast to my avatar design, which had jet black hair, pale skin and green eyes. My avatar was designed as much as possible to look like the real me. I never did like dressing my avatar up as someone that doesn't look like me. Unfortunately I had to get used to using the avatars of other games, which randomly generated an appearance based on a randomly generated number, with variations on hair colour, facial structure and body structure. There were an almost infinite number of possibilities, but with Earthwreck, the avatar was completely customizable.
"Azurus," I repeated again, this time he looked up at me. "You're going about it all wrong. You're following the example of all those knights back in the dark ages that would rather block with a shield than dodge the attack. You have to follow a specific pattern against faster enemies. Like this…"
I lowered my stance and braced my feet against the ground. I picked up a small stone from the ground and aimed it at the creature. As I moved my arm to throw the stone, I used the system to guide my movements. A prediction line that only I could see appeared in my vision showing where the stone would hit. Adjusting my aim slightly I centred the aim reticule on the backside of the Momosi and released the stone. It shot off like a bullet and hit the creature in the backside, causing it to squeal and turn to face me before charging. I waited for the creature to get close before I turned my body at the last moment; using the Evade skill I had invested my first few points in. The creature brushed passed within a hairs breadth and the moment I felt the breeze, I pulled the blade off my back and swung it around, slashing the creature along its back and reduced its health in half.
"With a fast creature," I continued after my display, "it's all about the timing of the attack. After a creature like this does an attack, there is a small window where it is vulnerable to a counter attack."
"I see," Azurus replied, "man I am such an idiot when it comes to games like this."
"Ah, don't say that," I replied, "you'll get used to the game with experience. You've picked things up quicker than most people I've seen today." I gave a quick glance at my Heads up display and saw the time. "Damn it's after five. Dinner's going to be ready soon. I've got to log out."
"Hey, no problem" Azurus gave a shrug," with everything you taught me today, I think I'm going to last a while. I might stay on a little longer."
I would have replied to him, but for some reason when I gestured to bring up the menu, nothing happened. The view in front of me blurred slightly, then returned to normal. I tried again but the menu still didn't appear.
"Hey, Azurus?" I asked, giving a puzzled look, "just before, you were able to use your menu, right? Can you access it now?"
"Um… sure. Let me try," Azurus replied. He lifted his hand and made the gesture to bring up the menu. "Huh!?" Azurus cried out, "What the hell? The menu's not showing up."
"But you were able to bring it up just before!" I exclaimed, "I wonder why it's not showing up now?" I went silent for a moment while I thought. "Maybe it's a system glitch or an update that affects the menu… I wonder?"
"I'm done for the day anyway," Azurus said, "We can always head back to town and exchange our money for better equipment or something while we wait for the Game Masters to fix the issue."
"Yeah," I replied, but I couldn't shake this uneasy feeling that had started the moment my menu didn't open. I'd never encountered that issue in a game before. "Let's head back. Maybe we can find someone who might know what's going on."
All players please report to monument square, or activate your communications terminal for System Announcement at 5:45pm.
Azurus and I stared at this announcement that had been broadcast to our communications system, and based on the expressions on the other player's faces; they had received the messages as well. After training on the field, Azurus and I had come back to the capitol city of Earthwreck, EBS Defiance. The unique element about Earthwreck was that the game centred on Earth in the distance future after a massive galactic battle. Humanity, having survived the war on the last space vessel, Defiance, returns to a desolate Earth littered with the ruins of humanities fleet both covering the surface and floating in space.
Players could develop their skills any way they choose. The levelling system designed in Earthwreck didn't focus on levels. Sure you gained levels each time you earned a certain amount of experience and you gained points to put into your core stats. But the skills developed as people used them repeatedly and you could only equip a certain number of skills at one time. However it was possible to level up all your skills to the maximum, but it would take a long time as each skill could reach mastery at level 1000.
It also meant there were many different styles for characters to play. You could choose to wield a sword or other melee weapon, or wield pistols or rifles any sort of gun. Many of the weapons were based on real world guns and there were some that are made up for the game. The third option was a little tricky to use as it requires both the expensive physics manipulator device and the resources to fuel it. The device allowed users to simulate the use of magic by the manipulation of matter. After learning to use the device, you have to learn the different classes of "magic" that can be used by the device.
The monument square was the central part of the city, located on the lower levels of the vessel in one of the larger cargo holds. People didn't know why it was there. There were no markings or writing to indicate what it was a monument of.
"I guess we better get going," Azurus sighed, "man this is annoying. Thank god we got our shopping done before then."
"Yeah," I replied as I started heading towards the meeting point. "I'm more curious as to what this is about."
"By the way," Azurus spoke a half smile on his face, "I like your sense of style."
I laughed upon hearing that.
"No," I replied with a smile, "I just like the colour scheme." The clothing I had chosen had a high mobility and medium defence rating, which worked with my play style. It was just coincidence that the colours were white with a blood red trim. "White and red, for some reason I like those two colours. It's much better than the black and red, which everybody seems to use."
By this time we had arrived at Monument Square to find at least half the players already waiting. I checked my clock and found we still had another five minutes before the system announcement. So I bided my time until the arranged announcement and looked over all the people amassed in the one spot. It was hard to believe that there were only 20,000 people logged in to the game, but that was how many invitations were sent out for the initial players of the game. I was lucky to gain one of those invitations.
But I sat there and wondered how many of these players were what they appeared to be. It was hypocritical of me to say so, but I started playing online games like these to get away from lies and deceit. While the player's appearances may change from their real world, I found that players tend to let their real selves loose in the virtual world. After all a PK or player killer doesn't have to suffer the consequences for killing someone if they just respawn. Players are free to do whatever they please while in the game. Of course most companies place restrictions on certain things. But that's just common sense.
I used VRMMO's to escape the real world and the lies that waited me there. Tensions had been running high between my family members recently, but after I found out the reason behind it, things only got worse and I spent most of my time online, escaping my family and all the secrets they kept.
Shaking my head to get rid of those thoughts I focused back on the present and realised it was nearly the appointed time of the announcement. I turned back to look at the monument standing in the middle of the square. When people first logged in, this was the first thing they saw. At the time it was a large, slightly foreboding statue of a person, kneeling in front of a gravestone. Below it was a large blank wall of Obsidian. But now I noticed writing on the formerly blank wall. I took a step forward to look at the writing, but at that moment, the lights dimmed in the cargo hold and focused into a single beam in the centre of the square, right in front of the monument. As everyone stared at the light, a figure emerged to stand before us.
The figure was glamorous and extremely beautiful to say the least. It didn't give a distinction of gender or age; their face was shrouded in shadows beneath a hood and a soft golden glow was emanating from the elaborate armour covering the figure.
"Welcome!" The voice boomed out seeming to come from every direction at once, "To the twenty thousand players, who received invites today, I welcome you to Earthwreck. My name is Joshua Miller. For some of you, that name is familiar, for others, this is the first time you would have heard it. I am the inventor of the FIS, the Full Immersion System you are using to immerse yourselves into this world, which is also my creation. I trust you have enjoyed your stay here so far."
I felt a chill run up my spine as those words echoed through the silent crowd. There was something about the way he said those words that left a foreboding in the air.
I created this world to be as real as possible," Joshua's voice continued and I tuned back in so I wouldn't miss anything. The sense of foreboding was still surrounding me and it made me uneasy, "I created this world the way it is so people would treat it like they would reality…" There was a pause. Joshua knew how to play the crowd, that was a given, but for me the sense of foreboding only got worse. Joshua was working up to something… but what?
"Some of you may have noticed that the in game menus are currently down for the hour leading up to this announcement. This isn't a glitch in the game, merely an update that is being run as we speak." Sighs of relief spread through the crowd as those words floated over them. But as Joshua paused to let this emotion run through the crowd, his hood shifted slightly, revealing the lower part of his face. In an instant it was gone, but for that brief moment, I thought I saw a smile on those lips and it caused chills. Something was terribly wrong here.
"As I make this announcement," Joshua's silken voice captivated the audience once more, "my cyber virus is currently re-writing the system as we speak. Right now, it is removing the option to log out of this game from all players menus, while at the same time, disengaging all safety measures on the FIS hardware that is currently connected to this server." Mutterings stirred through the crowed as people tried to understand the implications of what was being said. Even I was frozen for a moment in disbelief. If all safety measures were disengaged then that would mean…
"As many of you are probably thinking, if these safeties are turned off, there is nothing to interfere with the running of this game. As a result, everything you feel here is real to you, all the warmth of the sun, cool of the rain, the pain of your injuries… all of this will be as real to you as the reality you left behind. Even death here is real. The moment you die here, your body will simultaneously go into shock in the real world as your mind shuts down, followed by the other organs in your body until death has taken you."
Joshua paused here, as if expecting cries of outrage, but all that awaited his pause was a stunned silence as well couldn't believe the words that were spoken. I grasped a hand to my chest, my heart beating at twice its normal speed. Adrenaline pumped through my as fear set in. Death here meant death for real… I would die in the real world if I died here. It was unimaginable and yet…
"No way," Azurus muttered beside me, then in a clearer voice, "There's no way in hell people will let you do this to us!"
"But it has already happened to you," Joshua replied smugly, "Any attempt to remove you from the FIS will result in the player's avatar simply disintegrating and the body remaining in a vegetative state until the end of its life. The only way out of here, is to fight your way through the game and clear its final goal. Only then will you be free to escape this prison I have designed for you."
"YOU CAN'T DO THIS!"
Cries rang out through the square and fell on deaf ears as Joshua looked on in silence. So this was the foreboding sensation I felt; this sensation that was telling me my life was in danger from this… madman!
"I can choose whatever I want to do with your lives here," Joshua's voice boomed out, quelling the shouts in the crowd. "It was your choices to abandon your lives in the real world and come here. It was your choices to leave your bodies lying in a bed or a chair and enter this world. Each of you had the potential to make a difference in the real world, and squandered all your time in this make believe. This is my punishment to you. If you love this world so much more than reality; then is shall become your reality. I bid you good luck with your new lives."
And all we could do was watch on in anger, despair or denial as that figure faded from his stage and left us standing in the square, unsure of what to do next.
Welcome to Earthwreck Player. Here is your free item.
The message flashed across my screen before I felt an item in my hands. When I looked down at it, there was a photo of myself staring up at my avatar. It wasn't a photo of my avatar, but of the real me. I could tell because despite how close I got my avatar to the real me, there just wasn't the right option for the strange colour of my eyes, the mixture of blue and green.
Flashes of light begun to surround the avatars around me and then engulfed me. After a moment, they passed and as I looked around, the sea of faces had changed. I wasn't looking at people's avatars anymore. I was looking at the real them. I turned to face Azurus as he turned to face me and we both stared.
"What?!" We both exclaimed at the same time.
"Why do you look the same?" Azurus exclaimed.
"And why are you older than me?" I asked back.
The Azurus standing in front of me looked nothing like his avatar. He looked to be about twenty years old and had stubble on his face. His armour and clothing remained the same as the gear he was wearing in the game, but other than that, this was the real Azurus.
"Heh," Azurus looked lost for words, "Chicks don't really dig the scruffy look in real life," he explained, "They always want the fairy-tale knight in shining armour, so I thought I'd go with the look. What about you, why didn't you change?"
"This is how I look in the real world," I replied back, stifling a smirk at his reply, "I modified my avatar to look like myself in the real world. The only think different is my eye colour and hair I think."
"So what do we do now?" Azurus asked. "I mean we can't go out there and fight if we're going to die, but how else are we going to get out of this game?"
"I don't know," I replied, "but I'm not sticking around here." I felt a resolution in my chest. There was something I hadn't done in the real world that I should have a long time ago. It surprised me when that was the first through to jump into my head after Joshua's Proclamation, but I would use it to fuel me.
"I'm leaving the city today and I'm going to fight," I stuck out my hand. "Hope to see you out there some day. But until then, I'm not going to let death keep me from getting home. Joshua can screw himself straight to hell before I let his game beat me."
With that, Azurus and I parted ways with a shake of our hands. I didn't see him for a long time after that.