Prologue

There are some places that man was never meant to go; some things man was never meant to see. Some of the things were seen anyway; some of the places visited. And sometimes, however good some of the discoveries seem, thing are not always at they seem. And sometimes, when power falls into the wrong hands, regardless of how trustworthy they seem, terrible, terrible things happen.

Mr. Chandler was an easy going man of 41 years. He lived in a beautiful three floor, split-level Victorian home, with a decently large lawn, full of lush, green grass (except for a five foot brown spot in the backyard, which he covered with an above ground swimming pool). He had a successful business life, working in the Pentagon. He was married, and had one son, Zak. He and his wife, Jenny, were thinking about another child, but were not sure yet. He had kept Zak on track with school, and, according to him, he had also done a very good job at keeping Zak off drugs, which (if you asked him), was a trial for any parent in the ever more corrupt world of 2007. Even though Zak had never had any interest, whatsoever, in drugs. Another thing Mr. Chandler would tell you, if you asked him, is that he was happy with his life, having accomplished most of the goals he had previously set for himself, and well on the way to accomplishing the rest. Beside that, he was an accomplished ex-officer in the military, having been honorably discharged. And, up until Monday, the 7th of May, he was alive.

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Chapter 1

5/6/07

73 Oakland Dr.

Fredericksburg VA, USA

Zak Chandlerwas a mess. His life was a mess. He didn't know what to do. The cops were after him, but what they didn't know was that he was just trying to help (and, maybe get in a little sweet revenge). All he did was shoot someone, and steal some guns; hack the VR main frame, and screw with the system.

Perhaps I should start from the beginning. Everything was going good for Zak. He was popular, he had a lot of friends, and he had Krista. Not to mention that if you asked any of his female friends, he was very good looking, his dark brown hair, always messy, hanging loosely about his head. His deep aqua-blue eyes, always thoughtful.

On a Sunday evening (5-6-07. Yea. weird date, huh?) Zak was at home, in the basement. He sitting on the love seat, with Krista, talking.

"Zak, how long will you be alone?" Zak loved her soft, sweet voice

"That depends..."

"On what?"

"On how long you stay with me."

Krista smiled, as Zak kissed her. She kissed him back. It started all tight lipped, but ended with Krista on top of him, as they made out. I don't think it is necessary to elaborate.

Jon, a highly trained, highly respected assassin, snuck around to the side of the pentagon, the explosives secured on his back, hidden by his trench coat. 'This time,' he thought, 'we will succeed. 3rd assassination attempt. But now that I'm on the job, Subject eighty-three will finally die.' Subject eighty three was actually Brandon Chandler, and soon to be, Jons' eighty-third victim. But as a rule of thumb, assassins generally didn't even know the actual name of their target, for that would make them seem more like actual living things, and in the case of an assassination, it can cause you to personalize them, and rethink what you are doing, and hesitate. Hesitation leads to failure, and failure is not tolerated.

Zak awoke on the floor, with one of the couch cushions. Krista was still lying on sofa, buried under the blanket. Great way to wake up, huh? Go to sleep with your girlfriend, wake up with your pillow. And the taste of feathers in your mouth. Anyway, before you go thinking that Zak's some perv, sleeping with his girl friend, you need to understand that both of Krista's parents had been drafted into The War, and would probably only come back in body bags. Not to mention that, thanks to the new laws that defined adults as someone 15 or older, Krista was alone. And without a full education, the only work she could get would be manual, at minimum wage. Krista needed comfort right then, so that's what Zak gave.

Zak wondered what had woken him up, anyway? DING-DOOOONG. DIIIING-DONG. DING-DONG. That must have been it. Zak got up and ran up stairs, leaving Krista sleeping in the basement couch. He looked out the window that was next to the door, and saw Mike, his best friend since grade school.

"What's up?" Zak asked

"Dude, didja here?"

"Here what?"

"'Bout the bombing."

When Zak just stared blankly, Mike burst into the house with out even bothering to be invited. He ran down stares, flipped the TV on with the remote, then sat on the couch that Zak and Krista were on last night.

"Uugha" came the muffled cry from the couch. Mike jumped up from the couch and screamed. Prior to that, Zak had had no idea that Mikes voice could go quite that high.

"It talks! Kill it! Kill it! aaaahh!" yelled Mike, still sounding like a little school girl.

Krista emerged from under the blanket on the seat, "Its me, you moron!! And thanks for waking me up... again."

"So you're not the living dead, but… you did scare the crap out of me," was the only retort he could think of, even though no one was listening. Zak and Krista were both mesmerized by the display on the TV screen.

The reporter was saying: "…anyone knows what to think. I don't think anyone knows what to do. The event that has just taken place is very shocking, and no short of terrifying. We do know that this has to do with the war, and sources tell us that this was an assassination of Mr. Chandler, though that information is still unconfirmed. Since 9/11 the military and government has been taking many precautions, so no one knows how he got past security, but..." His voice droned on. Zak wasn't listening; he was staring at past the reporter, at the list that was being displayed.

Fatalities:

Brandon Chandler

Jennifer Chandler

John Cover

Jacob Cush

Adam Day

No. Zak didn't believe it. He cursed. Several times. It wasn't real. It couldn't be. Now, if his mom and dad were dead, he was on his own. He cursed again. The names rolled up the screen, and were replaced by new names. Krista threw her arms around him, and tried to comfort him.

"Oh Zak, what will you do? Oh, I'm so sorry…"

Zak just sat there not sure what to do. One thought lingered in his mind, though I'm not going to write it, for reasons you can probably guess(especially because on fictionpress, you can't use that much language). Mike had no clue what was going on, because he didn't see where it said that Zaks' parents were dead. He turned and saw that names were going up the screen, and, finally, he got it.

Jon pulled himself up, out of the drain pipe, and brushed some dust out of his pitch-black hair. He stood at exactly six and a half feet tall. He watched, un-noticed in all the mayhem that he had created. He waited for the dust to settle, and when he saw that the pentagon was nothing but a heap of rubble, he smiled to himself, and disappeared in to the early morning. The explosives were placed expertly under Mr. Chandler's desk, and were activated by a laser light when he pulled his seat under it…

Zak threw some blankets in to the back of his mom's Volvo, and grabbed a few other things. Namely two 9mm's, his backpack, which he put his survival kit in, among with some other things that he thought would come in handy. He also grabbed his wallet, which contained his driver's permit, $569 in cash (he had a summer job), his debit card, which had $7,800 (his life savings) and his dad's credit card, which maxed at $7,000. He didn't think he'd need all the money, but Zak figured it'd be better to have it, and not need it, then to need it, and not have it.

Krista figured out right away where he was headed, and told him that regardless of what he said, she was going with him. Although he didn't want to endanger her, he knew Krista, and knew that when she made up her mind, there was absolutely no way to change it.

"Hey! Where do you think your going? Dude, there's no way you'd even think penetrating VR without me!"

Zak knew if anyone could get him into the Virtual Reality, it was Mike.

So a few minutes later they were on the road.

"Hey guys, if you are all coming with me, we gotta make a quick stop, ok?" Zak said, keeping his voice steady. He still didn't believe his parents were dead.

"Sure, where?" Came Mikes reply. For an answer, Zak just pulled in front of a store called "Guns and more", and got out, followed by Krista, and Mike. Zak first walked into the shop next to it, called "creditdebetcheckCA$H", then walked back out two minutes latter, having totaled his dads credit card, and emptied his debit card. He now was carrying lots of cash. He and the others then walked into "Guns and more".

Inside, Zak picked up a combat knife, twenty throwing knifes and extra ammo for his 9-milimeters. Mike grabbed a 10 gage m47 sniper rifle with 300 rounds, a bipod, and a 12 gage shotgun. Krista picked a assault rifle, a knuckle knife, and a Katonah. The man at the desk, who had been playing an X-Box 360™, hadn't noticed them till then.

"Wa'do a bonch o' li'l keeds like you all need all diss for?" he asked. It was then that Zak realized how big this guy was. Zak hoped he was bribable. He kept reminding himself to keep his cool. Don't let him know you're afraid of him.

"How's this," he said coolly, weighing each word perfectly, "you forget who we are, and why we need this," Zak slapped down what the weapons were worth, "and u get something extra," he slapped down $1000 more. The goon thought for a minute, then said,

"Bud it'ud be on tape."

"Nope. There's already a ten second loop being fed to the camera," Mike said, a gloating smile on his face, "Check," He did, and all he saw was him self, sitting at his desk, playing 'MECH ASSAULT: Lone Wolf', on Xbox 360. What ever he said would possibly determine the fate there mission.

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Chapter 2

5/6/07

118 Lincoln Way (Guns and more)

Fredericksburg VA, USA

Krista got into the car, riding shotgun. Zak was putting the gear that they had jacked in the back. Here's what went down in the gun shop:

"You keeds mus' tink I'm stoopid!" the goon yelled, "Don' know 'ow you deed your fansy wark wif da saceer'ty, but you ain't getting' pas' me." He cracked his knuckles. Zak just stood his ground, waiting for the casher to finish.

"I really didn't want to do this the hard way," was all he said, before he made his move. In one fluid movement, he pulled his backpack off his shoulders, and grabbed out one of his 9mms. He aimed it at his right shoulder, and fired once, then aimed down at his left leg, and fired again. Mr. Jerk-wad was down.

Mike cursed, "Man, what the hell was that for, the cops'll be all over here in seconds!"

"By then, well be long gone," Zak said calmly, "Come on."

So, that's where they were, putting the stolen goods into the back, getting ready to leave, when they heard sirens. Mike and Zak cursed at the same time. As a police car round the corner, Mike jumped in to the drivers seat. Zak jumped backward into the car, through the open back window.

"Drive!!" Zak screamed. Mike jammed the gas, and the car shot forward.

Right into the car in front of him.

"Dammit," Mike cried, "I hope they have insurance."

"They might, but you don't!," Zak then proceeded to call Mike some names that would make a sailor cringe.

Mike put the car in reverse, backed up, and kept driveling. "We gotta get some stuff from my house."

Zak knew what. Mike pulled up in front of his house. He ran to the door, and tried to open it, but it was locked. He backed up a few feet, and charged at the door. He stuck his foot out to kick the door down. He more or less bounced off it. Needless to say, his attempt to break in to his own house had failed. So he ran to the window, kicked the glass in, this time being successful, and climbed in. He came out two minutes later, with his laptop case in one hand, and an inch brief case. He also had on his backpack. He jumped in to the back seat, and told Zak to drive. He said he needed to finish a hacking program. Zak pulled himself into the front seat, by putting one hand on the shoulder of the of the drivers and one on the passengers seat. He started the car. Or, attempted to anyway. The engine turned over a couple of times, and then went dead.

"Come on!" Zak said in anger as a police car pulled up next to him. Zak turned the ignition again and slammed his fist down on the dashboard as the ignition turned over. Then, as his fist collided with the dash, it started. As they accelerated, the officers who had gotten out jumped back into their cars.

Mike grabbed his rifle, and as he loaded a magazine, Zak unlatched the roof, and it folded back. Mike stood, leaning against the back of the drivers seat. He took aim, fired, aimed, and fired again, blowing out both front wheels. The cop car swerved back and forth for a moment, then flew off the road, hitting the back of a car that was parked on the side of the road, and somehow ending up upside down, on top of a mini van, that was parked in its drive way. 'jeez,' Mike thought, 'that sucks for them,' but the thought was quickly pushed away, as two more cops pulled up, one to the right side, the other in the back. Krista reached into Zak's pack, and pulled out a bottle of cologne. She pulled her arm back, and as she was about to through it, Zak cut in:

"What the hell are you doing with that? That was forty bucks!"

"And what difference does that make? Check your wallet! You shouldn't have brought that anyway!" Krista glared at him for a second but Zak had turned back to watch the road. Just watching the road. So she pulled back her arm once again and hurled the bottle at the driver's side window. Both items shattered. Cologne spilled all over the driver and he surely smelled magnificent, like the natural fragrance of fresh, crisp cinnamon, as he got a face full of glass shards.

Now, if you've never experienced this for yourself, you could never even begin to understand the difficulty of driving with shards of glass flying into your face and eyes. Needless to say, the cops swerved off the road. By that time, Mike had taken out the other car's tires. Zak turned down an alleyway, then to onto an unpaved country road. He cut through a small cluster of trees, and was back on the road. This time the cops, as well as Zak, had no idea where he was. All Zak knew was that he needed to head south, to South Carolina, the location of the main VR Head Quarters.

The ride was mostly uneventful. At one point, shortly after the encounter with the cops, Zak pulled off to the side of the road, and changed the current license plates out for some old ones that he had kept from old cars (he had originally intended them merely as souvenirs, but brought them along just incase). They didn't stop after that, except for gas, till they reached the NC Holiday Inn.

Zak told everyone to wait in the car until he came back. He got out, and walked away.

When he came back, the sun had nearly set. As soon as Zak got back in, Krista through her arms around him, and kissed him. Zak was happy to return it. Mike sighed and said: "Get a room." When they pulled away from each other, Krista looked up at him and said

"I was so worried. I thought something happened to you."

"I'm okay. I just needed to get this," he said, holding up an ID that apparently belonged to Brice King. Then to Mike: "I am getting a room. But really, you didn't expect me to check in under my name, did you?"

Krista Laughed. Then, looking surprised all of the sudden, as if something had dawned on her, She asked: "Wait, so your going to put your Picture over his? Your going to make it look like you're Brice King? But, But, that's illegal!" this time everyone laughed.

After a while, Krista fell asleep, but Mike and Zak were up late, finishing the fake ID. When they finally finished, Zak put his arm around Krista's neck and his head on her shoulder. He was asleep the second his eyes closed. Mike sprawled out on the back seat, and, as with Zak, and asleep instantly.

The next morning, when Mike and Krista awoke, Zak was up and waiting. It was a beautiful summer day. Not a cloud in sight, and perfect blue sky. The top was open (if you haven't guessed by now, it was a convertible) and the sun was pouring in. Both of then woke to the fresh smell of the sea, mixed with warm pancakes and maple syrup.

As soon as they were up, Zak put on a huge grin and said: "IHOP." Mike, looking confused asked

"You what?" but before Zak could answer, Krista rolled her eyes and answered for him

"I-hop. Don't tell me you've never been there with your family before. International House Of Pancakes?" Because Krista didn't really hang out with Mike, she didn't know that much about him. Zak, however, spent much of his time either at work, or with Mike, and knew that Mike came from a, well, not exactly rich family (He had his laptop and stuff from Zak, as a birthday present), and was afraid that this remark would hurt him. But Mike was a good sport, and just retorted in a mock irritated voice:

"Well pardon me for mishearing, Miss Perfect, but I assumed that Zak was telling us what he did on a pogo stick"

They continued to joke and talk and laugh, all through breakfast. Zak was mostly going through the motions, for one doesn't usually forget about his parents death that quickly. When they all had finished, Zak told them they needed to check in. He Mike and Krista got out. Mike jumped over the edge, rather than opening the door.

They walked into the hotel, and up to the lady behind the counter. They were in a spacious room with halls leading to the rooms, the administrative offices, and other places. The walls were panted green, except for a mural of the fonder of the building. There were some benches for people to wait on, but since there was no line today, they just walked up to the woman behind the counter.

"Hello, how may I help you?" she asked looking up from her book, which, Zak noticed, was the 7th Harry Potter book.

"Yeah," he said "I'd like to get a room.

"Okay. Do you have ID?"

Zak handed her the ID that he and Mike had made last night…

Up in the room, Zak and Krista were talking. Mike had gone ahead to the swimming pool. Krista had stayed behind, claming that she needed to talk to Zak alone, about something of up most importance.

"So… Which bikini do you think I should where?" Krista asked, like it would determine the fate of earth

"How about the pink one?"

"Are you sure?"

"Well, no. Actually, you would probably look best in… nothing." Zak was never afraid to tell Krista that she was drop-dead-gorgeous in anything, and he never had to lie. Krista, at Zak's remark, smiled, blushed, and playfully smacked him. "Hey," Zak exclaimed, as if he was in agonizing pain, "what was that for? It was a compliment!"

"I'm flattered," Krista smiled as she walked into the bathroom to get changed.

Zak rubbed his cheek.

They walked out together, Zak's hand around Krista's hip, her head resting on one shoulder, her arm around the other. They often walked like this, but this time Zak held her even closer than normal. He wonted all the other guys to know that she was already taken.

They walked out into the sun, and over to a patch of lush, green grass, where they spread out there towels. They sat down, and Krista opened her handbag. She took out some sun lotion, and started rubbing it on her face and stomach. Zak sat, watching Krista. When she saw him staring, she shoved him back, and he rolled over, exaggerating the action.

He got up and said: "Okay, jeez," then walked over to the waters edge. He never burnt, so he just got right in. Mike, who had been watching, pulled himself out of the pool and walked over to Krista, who had just gotten up, to get in.

"Why do you tolerate that?" he asked, playfully, "He treats you like dirt. Why waste your time with him, when you could be with me? You know, I would g--," Krista shoved him into the pool. She then stepped right up to the waters edge, preformed a five star double front flip, to a perfect dive, with nearly no splash. What she didn't notice, was the little tile that Mike had been standing on. The tile that said "4 FEET". Zak had his back turned, and Mike was still under water. Neither of them noticed.

Though Mike had no idea, he was right under Krista, so instead of her head slamming into the bottom or the pool, she just smacked square into mikes back. Krista was fine, Mike unfortunately came up with a scratch his stomach.

"Nooooooooo!!!" he yelled, "my washboard abs!!!"

Zak shoved him back under water. When he came up again, Krista thanked him for being under her, and stopping her.

Mike smiled "So… you sure you don't wanna go out with me?" this time Krista and Zak both dunked him. As the dunking, and general screwing around continued, Zak wasn't really with them. At around one o'clock, an hour after they got in, Zak was sitting alone on his towel. He told Mike and Krista he wonted to work on his tan, but he actually just needed some time alone with his thoughts.

As Zak sat there, Krista walked up to him and sat down.

"What's on your mind? It seems like you've been miles away all day," Krista was sincerely worried.

"I don't know, its just like… okay… so, why me, you know? What did I do? What the hell did I do?… I just don't believe they're dead…." Zak muttered on, but none of it was understandable.

Krista put her arms around him. Tried to comfort him. It was pointless.

Zak sat on the edge of the bed, in the dark hotel room, alone. Truly alone. Zak looked down at his shaky hand. The hand that clutched the freshly sharpened knife. He looked at where the knife was lightly pushed against the underside of his wrist, where blood was already dripping, flowing down his wrist. Hot tears stung his face. Life or death. Life or death. He could end it all, all right now. All the pain would… stop. What was there to live for? As Zak sat, he heard the door creak open, and dropped the knife. before the figure, that turned out to be Krista, could make it into the room, He acted like he was asleep. Kristas angelic figure slid over to Zak, and she looked down at him. She smiled, and said goodnight, even though she thought he was asleep. She kissed him, then retraced he steps, out of his room, to leave him in peace. When she licked her lips, she subconsciously notice the salty taste of Zaks' tears, but didn't associate it.

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Chapter 3

5/8/07

5623 Carma Ln. (SC Holiday Inn)

New Morna , SC, USA

Zak and Krista were alone, an a never-ending meadow of beautiful, pink and white flowers. They were like nothing Zak had ever seen before. They were like roses, but the stems were perfectly smooth. And they weren't near as fragrant. Flower petals danced across the scene, and twirled through the air. Krista was on the other side off the meadow. She was running toward him, her arms out stretched. Zak was running too. They met in the middle. Zak longed to hold her. To here her soft, sweet voice. As they met, in the middle of the field, Krista threw her arms around him. Zak did the same. As they made contact, Zak didn't feel her. For a split second, she gazed up at him. Then, she was gone. She went right through him. Zak tumbled to the ground. He stood, and looked behind himself. There she was, suspended in the air, staring back at him, horror etched into her face. The pasture sucked its self in to nothingness, like a collapsing black hole. Zak stared at Krista, as she was suddenly yanked away by some unseen force. Zak then found himself walking down a cold alleyway. He reached the end, and was suddenly looking down a large corridor, with large tanks, about a foot apart. They were all full of a bubbling green substance, that appeared to be a little thicker than water. There were what looked like premature babes in them. The tanks were giving off an eerie greenish glow. The floor was grate-like, and looked sharpened. Zak turned around, and saw the same thing. Gone was the cold, dark, shady alley. This strange passageway continued on and on, as far as the eye could see. Zak wandered down this passage way for the longest time. Then, in the distance, he saw a human figure. He sprinted toward the figure, to find that it was Krista. A guard walked up, and right through Zak and Krista. He stopped a few feet past Zak, and turned toward the wall. He flipped open a section of the wall, and punched in a code. The wall slid back to reveil an elevader. The guy stepped in, and the wall slid back into place. Zak turned back to Krista, and he tried to grab her again, and again his hand passed right through her. She was then dragged away, by the same unseen force. As she left, she turned transparent, and disappeared. Zak fell to his knees, and put his hands on the floor. They got cut on the sharp surface, and began to bleed. He didn't care. He stood up, using the wall to keep himself steady, smearing his blood all over the wall in the process. He then collapsed back onto the floor, and began to sob.

Zak woke up in a cold sweat, fresh tears on his cheeks. He told himself, over and over: 'it was just a dream, it was just a dream…'. But some how, the dream seemed so…real.

The next day, at about 5:00 am three teenagers checked out of he building. They had vary little with them, and they seemed to be in a rush. This is what caused Kelly, the clerk, to take subconscious notice of them. There were tow guys, and a girl. The adolescent male with dark hair, what was his name? Brian? Brice? Well, regardless, he seemed to have quite a close relationship with the girl, Kristy, or something. The last one, with dirty blond hair, seemed energetic, and hyper. he seemed to be the life of the group. He was about up to the other ones shoulder, but also looked as though he could really take care of himself on the street, if fate called. They went out, and got into a silver Volvo convertible. They drove away. Kelly forgot about them completely, until about three o'clock, when a man with jet-black hair, wearing a leather jacket walked in. He looked to be around twenty-five, and had an air of confidence about him.

He approached the desk, but instead of checking in, he asked about a guest he believed had checked in recently.

"I'm sorry, but we have a guest-privacy policy."

He reached into his coat pocket, and put his hand around a hand-gun. Before taking it out, he squeezed the trigger. It made no noise, due to a silencer that shouldn't be available for another eight years. Kelly didn't even notice until surveillance camera behind the desk stop putting out video feed as a bullet slammed into it. before she could do anything, he twisted the gun around, and, without looking back, fired again. The other camera was out. The only evidence was the broken cameras, and two small holes in the leather jacket.

Now it was just him and Kelly.

He pulled out his hand and along with it his gun. He aimed it square at her head. his hand didn't even quiver.

"Now," he asked, "what of your 'guest-privacy policy'?"

Kelly's jaw trembled and her eyes locked on the barrel of the gun. She stood completely still, for a one-second-lifetime, petrified in udder terror, then fell to her knees and crowed into the back room. Jon mumbled something about hating having to do stuff himself. He kept the gun in his left hand (he was ambidextrous, but favored his left hand over his right.) and typed with the other. he checked the recent check-ins. He came up with Brice King, who looked suspiciously like Subject eighty-four. Checked in: 9:46 am, 5/7/2007. Checked out 5:12 am, 5/8/2007. Room 18, First Floor. There was more, but Jon had all the info he needed. Jon ran to room eighteen, but not before smashing and completely destroying the keyboard. He didn't want anyone to have his finger print. Out side the room, he shot the door lock, and kicked it open. he conducted a quick search, to find: nothing. He noticed the blood on the floor, next to the bed, but didn't pay special attention to it. He took out a spray bottle, and sprayed all the surfaces with a chemical that would pick up even the slights trace of presser having been exhibited on the surface. He didn't have much time left. Surly the clerk had gotten help by now. He cursed himself for not killing her when he should have. He told himself that next time he would kill right away, rather than having some fun. After thirty seconds, the chemical had done its work. He checked the surfaces again, to find a poorly drawn map, leading from here to the virtual reality complex, in South Carolina. It appeared that someone had drawn it on a sheet of paper, and now he was picking up the marks left from the presser of the pencil/pen that was used to draw it. Unfortunately, there was also a mark that was probably from where the artist had rested there hand. He photographed the map, and was out the window, and gone just as the hotel security came in.

He stopped at a motorcycle supply shop, and grabbed a new jacket, identical to the old one (except for a lack of two bullet holes) and walked out, without bothering to pay. He just ripped off the tags, and walked out. He got in to his car, and through the old jacket in the back of his car. Once he was home, he would pin it up on his wall, with the rest of his collection of clothes and tools he had ruined on the job. His car was a sleek, jet black Ferrari, with vertically opining doors. On the hood, there was a decal of a skull, with snakes slithering in and out of the eye holes. There was also flames streaking down the sides. He started the car, and drove off, into the horizon, his car engine purring like a happy kitten.

After driving for about thirty minuets, Zak was about to turn, when he was cut off by a black car that flew past him. They almost collided. Zak yelled a vulgarity, and screeched to a stop. The black car stopped a few yards ahead. The top-of-the-line car and top-of-the-line brakes didn't make a sound as it came to sudden stop. The driver got out. It was, you guessed it: Jon. He reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out his gun. He aimed, and fired. His target? Zak.

The good thing about a car windshield, is that, when looked through from an angle, it slightly distorts images, when you on the out side. The bad thing? They hare a tendency to shatter, when bullets fly through them. The bullet, due to distortion, buried its self harmlessly in the headrest. Well, harmlessly isn't the right word. It would be better to just say that it didn't hit anyone. The reason that I say it wasn't harmless, is that, like I said, glass windshields have that tendency to break. Needless to say, glass shards darted into the air, seeming to target Zak, Krista, And Mike. They all covered their eyes and head, and ducked low. They escaped any series injury, though Zak had a pretty nice slash on his upper arm. Mike was in the back, so he was fine. Krista, however, wasn't as lucky. She had a deep gash on her shoulder, and a fair sized chunk of glass imbedded in her elbow. She would be fine, but she needed to be taken care of. He looked at Mike, and with a look, told him to take care of her.

"What about you?" Mike asked, looking at the cut on Zaks arm.

"I'm fine. Take care of her."

He grabbed his 9 millimeters, and got out. He wished he had gotten a bazooka when he was at the gun shop. He ducked behind the car for protection. He checked to make sure that both his weapons were loaded. He peeked out from his hiding place, only to see… nothing. Zak stood a little higher, but still couldn't see anyone, or anything, but the car. It was completely black, with flames down the side. He could see into the drivers seat, and no one was there. 'where is he?' Zak wondered and stood up strait. He immediately started to crouch back down. He realized it was certainly a trap. He was just starting to bend down, when he looked down. What he saw didn't make any sense. He saw two hands reach out from under the car. They grabbed his ankles and pulled. Zak felt his feet fly out from under him. It seemed that someone had hit the slow button. He fell. It seemed he was falling a mile. Then, all of the sudden, he hit the ground. It hurt. Bad. But Zak didn't have time to worry about petty things, like pain just then. The assassin was already out from under the car. He locked his aim on Zak.

"You may have escaped the first shot, bit not this one," Jon smiled a cruel and grim smile, and pulled the trigger. Zak had to act instantly. He heard the click of the bullet slide into place. He had about point five seconds, until his head looked like something the cat drug in, ate, and threw up. He did the only thing he could do. It would have been pointless to try to roll under the car, it would take to long. He couldn't run away, there was nowhere to go. And it would take to long. So what did Zak do?

He shot Jon.

The bullet slammed into his chest. Jon stumbled back. This came to a surprise to both of them. Jon had never gotten shot. Especially by some kid. It was a good thing (for Jon, anyway) he had worn a Kevlar vest, just incase. Zak was surprised because he had never shot anyone. Zak recovered faster than Jon. He jumped to his feet, and, holding his gun in a shaky hand, he fired again. Not at Jon this time. At his gun. It flew out of his hand, and, just Jons' luck (heavy sarcasm), landed in a storm drain. That was something else no one had ever done. Disarmed Jon. Now Jon was really pissed off. He reached down, grabbed a manhole cover, and hurled it a Zak. Zak sidestepped, and it flew harmlessly by. Now Zak had the upper hand. Yet another thing no one had done. This day was full of surprises. Jon jumped into the manhole, and disappeared. Zak ran back to the car. Krista was fine. He got in and started the cat. As he drove away, he shout out the tires, and the windshield of the black Ferrari. Revenge is sweet.

A shiver shot down Zaks' spine as he drove. Far away, a robed figure watched him on a huge plasma screen tv.

"Very good, Zachary Joseph Chandler. You may someday grow to be a worthy apponent. Your friends, of course, will have to be disposed of. As will the Assassin, who has proven himself unworthy. I can only hope you get this far, so that I can kill you in person."

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Chapter 4

5/9/07

Marken Ave.

New Morna, SC, USA

After about an hour, Mike offered to take the wheel, so that Zak could catch some Zs. Zak gratefully excepted. If you were to ask him, he would tell you that me merely shut his eyes to think. However, if you asked Mike, who drove for approximately three hours, listening to Zak snore as loud as a fully automatic machine gun, he would not quite agree with Zak. Fortunately, Mikes suffering was put to an end when he pulled to a stop, only one forth of a mile from the VR complex. He woke Zak, and told his companions that they were there. Zak and Mike began to talk about the means to go about infiltrating the facility. Mike easily hacked into the mainframe of the US government building and began to look for a map of the layout of the building, or at least a blueprint. In no time, he found the blueprint, and printed it out. Zak and Mike studied them, looking for the best path.

Krista, who seemed to think outside the box, a bit more than Zak or Mike, suggested that the get a violin case to put the big guns in. She was elected for that task. By the time that she got back, Zak and Mike had finally decided there route. They determined it would be best if Mike and Krista want one way, and Zak went a different way. One of the reasons being that, although Zak was very talented with both gun and knife, he fought best alone. On the simulators, he could always kill all his opponents, and would have been recruited long ago to be trained to fight in SWAT, or the army, but he wasn't. the reason although he eliminated his opponents, every time, and set speed records, he had a tendency to inadvertently kill his allies as well.

The plan was simple. It was to do nothing but get information. Why was his dad dead? Who killed him? These, and other questions would, hopefully, soon be answered.

So, with everything decided, they walked the quarter mile to the complex, Zak carrying the violin case. Once there, they walked in the two story government building. There was old, worn, ugly yellow paint on the walls, that did a poor job of covering the reinforced steel of the walls. There was also a vomit green carpet that wrapped itself around the floor. Zak could see further down one of the corridors, and saw that it was better decorated than the "beautifully" (heavy sarcasm) decorated lobby/entry area. The halls had bare, metal walls and floors with florescent lights lining the ceiling.

There were tours that cost ten dollars per person. They paid, and started walking with the rest of the tour group. The guard at the front desk stopped them, and asked if they had gone through the metal detectors. Zak said they had. The guard asked for there names, as he began to look through a few papers. Krista shot Zak a warning glance. Zak got the message. He walked up to the guard so silently and gracefully, it would have made a cat look like a fat, drunk ogre. When Zaks shadow fell upon the guard, he looked up. Big mistake. Zak brought the violin case up and it met with his chin. Quite hard. Quite painful. Zak twisted around, spun, and brought it down on his left temple. The guard was out before he hit the ground. Zak threw the violin case to Mike, who popped open the case, and pulled out a shotgun, and a sniper rifle. He held the shotgun, and put the sniper on his back. Krista grabbed the remaining gun, and checked the ammo. Four-hundred fifty bullets of flying death. Krista and Mike turned, and ran toward the surveillance room. They had noted its location on the map on the wall. Zak want the other way.

They would always be in communication through NET, or Neural Emissions Transceiver. The way is worked, is that you slid a small device into your ear, that was more or less an amplifier and a receiver, but it worker on a whole different wave frequency. If you haven't guessed, it uses brain waves. It amplifies them, and sends them out, just like a radio, and the receiver picks them up in the other person ear. For a long time it was thought imposable, but after many years of development, it went from a fantasy to a reality. This breakthrough opened many new doors, such as mind-reading, but that is a whole other story. The NET ear piece was just one of the many items that had been under development for years on end, secretly, in the military, that Mike and Zak had obtained illegally. Zak ran down the halls, twists, and turns. Another gizmo that Zak had brought along was a Eye-PC. It was the shape and size of a contact lens, but was actually a mini computer. You slid it into your eye, and you had a hands-free computer that you could use any time, without anyone else knowing. You could use it with a wireless remote, or, the way Zak had it, you could feed commands into it with a NET device. It took a lot a eye development to develop the double vision required to be able to use it, seeing as to how your eye isn't use to seeing that close. It also took a lot of mind development to be able to sift through the random thoughts that just pop into your head, and actual commands that you want to give. Zak Mike and Krista had all spent much time on both NET and Eye-PC, So it was nothing new to them. The real reason they hat them in the first place, was so they could pass the SAT's, without having to do a ass-load of studying (its not cheating, unless you get caught. They didn't plan to). Zak was currently displaying a map of where he was, in comparison to the blueprints that Mike got. Zak knew where he was headed.

The Generator.

Alarms blared as they ran down hall after hall, corridor after corridor. Mike and Krista had been lucky enough not to cross paths with anyone so far, but as they rounded yet another corner, their luck gave out. There were four guards, all in full armor. It was red, with plates (of something even Mike didn't know) over the areas that didn't need to flex, and a black martial on the joints. He thought they looked vary much like storm troupers, from the Star Wars movies. They saw Mike and first, and that would have given them an upper hand, but they had to verify that they were in fact the enemy. This took only one, maybe one and a half seconds, but that was one and a half seconds too long. Mike fired before Krista, and fifty small spherical bullets slammed into the legs of the front two. After three more (probably unnecessary) shots, they were gone. Next it was Kristas' turn. Two sweeps of her Assault rifle, and the rest were out. They pressed onward.

Zak didn't have the same approach. He had taken the key card from the guard that he bashed, who appeared to be vary… tired (he was taking a nap on the job). The alarms were screaming. Zak shot out every camera he came across, and did it with only one shot. He soon came across a group solders, and had to hide. Fast.

He tried to open the door, but it was locked. Before he panicked, he remembered the key card. He got it from a low level officer, so it wouldn't open too many doors, but luckily, it opened this one. It slid open, and shut, concealing Zak, just in time.

The room was nothing but a storage closet, and was shoved full of creates and boxes. It was dark, the only light coming from under his feet, and above his head, because all the floors and ceilings were, was a grate-like surface, and you could see up to the top of the building, which was only a floor up. You could also see down about five floors, to the bottom of the complex. There was, in one corner, an unconscious guard, who was snoring loudly. He appeared to have taken an unscheduled break, and nap. His helmet was discarded, and there were a few empty bottles of beer, scattered at his side. A cigarette hung out of his mouth, the tip still slightly glowing. Zak crept up to him (he seemed to have been doing a lot of creeping lately, huh?), and whacked him on the side of the head, with the butt of his gun. The man looked to be about twenty, and only a few inches taller than him. Zak stripped him of his armor, and the jumpsuit underneath. With the guy in only his underclothes, Zak tied his hands and feet, and gagged him. He then peeled off his over garments, that stuck to him with sweat. Pushing away the wave of disgust, he pulled on the jumpsuit, and the armor, and stood to observe his work. To finish it off, Zak opened up one of the boxes, and dumped the Sleeping Beauty in. He blind folded him (all of this he had been doing with duct tape), and taped the box shut.

He walked out, and down the hall that he was headed originally, this time though, he didn't, how shall we say, 'deactivate' the cameras. After walking for only about half a minute, he rounded a corner, right into a guard.

"Where are you suppose to be, solder? Where is your crew?" This guy was obviously in charge, plus the four stars, engraved on his helmet and breast plate, were a bit of a give away.

"Sir, I was reporting to the operator. My crew was killed by the intruder, but I managed to kill him, before he got me to."

The general seemed to buy this excuse, though it was evident he didn't fully trust him. "I will… escort you there." There was no arguing with that, so he began to lead him to the operator. Zak could feel him studying him under a microscope.

They, after an everlasting minuet, came to a door. Dread started to fill Zak, when he saw that the door was unlocked with a retinal scanner. Relief sweated over him, as the man pulled off his helmet, and held his face over it. Zak was behind him, so he didn't see his face.

They walked into the room, and the door slid shut behind him. They were in a room about ten feet by ten feet, with a five foot hallway centered to the door, facing the same direction. There were three visible computers, and beside them, an elevator. The Guard didn't put his helmet back on, so when he turned around, Zak immediately recognized him. Anger, pain, And fear welled up in Zaks' chest, so mixed and intertwined, that even Zak couldn't identify them. Next was the wave of loathing, As Zak gaped at The man who had killed his parents. The man who had tried to kill him. The man who turned his life upside down. The man who, Zak realized within him self, Zak bitterly wanted to kill. No. He wanted more than that. He wanted this man to suffer, to suffer like Zak had suffered. He wanted to see the pain on his face. He wanted to see his blood spilling onto the floor.

Zak realized that he was now locked in a room with this man. An evil smile formed on his lips.

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Chapter 5

5/9/07

652 Devained Blvd. (VR Headquarters)

New Morna, SC, USA

Zak suddenly leapt at Jon, catching him off guard. They fell to the floor and rolled. Jon, who was quite a bit stronger than Zak, through him aside, and grabber his AK47, which he had just reloaded. Zak dropped to the floor, and brought his foot around to trip him. As Jon plummeted to the floor, he squeezed the trigger. Bullets flew past Zaks' head, smashing a computer, and then the electric box. The lights, in perfect unison, went out. Zak immediately, using his mind, exited the map, and, on his EYE PC, Brought up night vision. Because There was no camera on the EYE PC, It took the visual from his other eye. It then amplified the light, and, through the NET, sent the image bake to the other eye, whale displaying the image on the screen for the eye holding the EYE PC. Zak Kicked Jon, with his steel toed boots. He heard a few ribs crack. He jumped on top of Jon, and began repetitively slamming his fists into his face. Jon pushed Zak away, subsiding him long enough for Jon to stand. Zak grabbed a dagger off the desk, and went for Jons throat. The fight that followed, to any onlooker, would have appeared to have been choreographed. Each time Jon raised his gun to take aim, Zak pushed it back down, sometimes trying to disarm him. Every time Zak raised the knife, weather to slash or stab, Jon pushed it away. They were almost a perfect match, both of them putting in all they could, and more. What Zak lacked in strength, he made up for in speed, and vice-versa for Jon. After a long and intense struggle, Jon finally whacked the knife out of Zaks hands and brought the gun up. One of them would die before this night was over.

Before he could fire, Zak pushed the gun up farther, and twisted it down, and up under Jon's chin. Before Jon could react, Zak pushed Jons' hand down. And with it, the trigger.

It would be impossible to describe to sound Zak heard, even if I wanted to. The bullets ripped through Jons' head, in the chin, and out at the top of his head. With out even flinching, Zak eased the gun out of Jons hands, and wrapped his hands around the handle. Jon fell to the ground. For a moment, Zak felt week, like he had gone days without sleep or food. Then energy, mixed with rage, pumped back through him again, as he aimed down. He first aimed at the face, then down the side, as bullets disfigured the lump of blood, flesh, and bone. He kept firing, till the magazine emptied, and the bullets stopped flowing. No one knows how long Zak stood there, holding the gun, aimed at a an unidentifiable glop of what had killed his mom. His dad. His life…

Finally, Zak felt a wave of exhaustion, and slumped down. Realization dawned on him. He had killed a human being. That wasn't like killing an animal: a rabbet, a deer, a bird, or anything else. He had ended a life. Zak felt a presence leave him, leavening him tired, scared, and alone. A twenty ton weight suddenly fell on his shoulders. 'What have I done?' he asked himself. How could I? He didn't dare look at what once had been Jon. Deep in thought, Zak didn't notice a robed figure enter the room, from the hall.

"So nice to finally meet you, in person, Zachary ," said the cold, harsh voice.

Zak looked up at the figure. He was in a hooded black robe, that extended to the floor. His face was hided in shadows, even with the night vision.

"Quite a nice show. Although I don't much appreciate you making the assassin almost shoot me. How ever, what did you think of m-"

"What the hell was that!? What the--" Zak interrupted, jumping to his feet, then was interrupted himself,

"DO NOT interrupt me!" shouted the figure, suddenly extremely angry. The voice returned to normal, as it continued: "as I was saying, what did you think of my ED/A? It stands for Emotion Dictator/ Alternator. With it, I can control you, or anyone else.

"I'll bet you didn't think you could actually kill someone, did you? well, you did. Did you feel that rage? The anger? The hatred? Wasn't it beautiful? I'm still working out a few kinks, but if will be perfect soon enough. Yes…" he seemed to trail of, "regardless, I will gloat latter. Now, farewell, for now…"

Zak was so happy. Elated. He was in a never ending white, pure white field. He could see no end, any where, just white. Pure white. Forever. Krista was with him. She was asleep, nestled agents him, breathing softly. 'Am I dead?', Zak wondered, 'or sleeping? or high?' Zak sat up. and looked around. Only white. Nothing else.

His movement disturbed Krista, and she stood, stretching. "Za---"

She never even finished his name. She started to fall. Zak tried to catch her. she passed right through him. She passed right through the ground. Zak was sad, but his sadness quickly turned to rage. He began to thrash around, freely giving fuel to his rage. There was, for one second, a part of his mind that asked what he was doing. A very small voice in the back of his head, but it was quickly swept away into a wave of rampant fury.

Zak was pulled away. Now he was falling. No more white. Only black. Just falling. His anger didn't dissipate from the free fall. It never subsided. At all. Zak finally, and suddenly found himself in a underground chamber. He was holding a sward. He was walking out on the cat walk, there appeared to be magma flowing beneath them. There was Krista standing at the end of the path. She was crying. As Zak was walking closer, his already immense anger grew. Now Zak reached her, and he pulled back the sword. He was almost blind with rage. Suddenly, he wasn't just angry. He was angry at Krista. Zak didn't know why, but he was. The sword quivered slightly, then stopped. Everything stopped. Time no longer held any value. Zak looked into Kristas eyes. Her deep, hazel eyes. He held her gaze, never breaking eye contact, as he plunged the sward forward. It slowed slightly when it met human flesh, but only a little. The Folded steal, laser-sharpened blade then did its job, and sliced open the skin, sliding into the hole that it had made. The blade didn't stop until it came protruding out the back of the victim, a good foot and a half. Zak collapsed in a heap, exhausted, and light headed at the same time. When he looked up a second latter, everything was gone. Once again there was nothing but black. The huge empty vastness of it was oppressing. Zak was not on any solid ground, but he wasn't falling. He floated, and slipped away, into a welcome and dreamless sleep.

The next time Zak woke, it wasn't in the same far off realm of dreams and nightmares. It was, he first thought, in Hell. He was chained to a wall, fire burning all around him. Zak wasn't a particularly religious person, but he believed in God, Satin, Heaven, and Hell. Zak had never done anything that would get him sent to Hell, he didn't think. Once he stole a move from a Blockbuster, but had felt bad, and returned it. Beside that…

'Oh yeah,' Zak thought, 'I brutally murdered a man, then disfigured his corps. I guess something like that gets you sent to Hell.'

The sound of footsteps coming his way cut into Zaks thoughts. Zak wanted to look at who it was, but his neck wouldn't lift his head. Zak was still chained, when he felt a prick in his arm. Even though he couldn't look up to see who in was, he could see his arm, and the syringe that punctured the skin on his arm. He watched helplessly as a blue fluid flowed into his arm.

Zak felt the effect within the minuet. It was a cold feeling, that swallowed him back up into unconsciousness.

When Zak woke again, he felt rejuvenated, and energetic. He was still in the fiery, hellish pit that he was in before. But now, he knew he wasn't dead, because he hurt all over, and pain, he thought, was a sign of still being alive. At least, he hoped it was. It would really suck to still hurt like this, even when you're dead

Now that Zak could look up and around, he could take in his surroundings. The room seemed to be circular, with many doors on the walls. There was a twenty foot ledge, that then gave way to a fifteen foot drop, which, at the end, became a pit of what looked like magma, about three hundred feet in diameter. Zak noticed a cat walk that extended out to the center. Ht had metal grate floors, and worn hand rails. The cat walk seemed to be supported only by thick metal wires, that extended from the walk way, to up above, out of view, and then secured to the ceiling of the cavern. There were quite a few of these bridges all around the pit. They all met in the center, where there was a metal pipe extending down into the magma. He had no guess as to what it was for.

Zak didn't notice someone approaching him. he felt the chains fall to his feet, as they were removed. Zak turned to see someone in a suit similar to the one he had been wearing. Zaks suit had been stripped off, but the jumpsuit remained. It was black, and fairly comfortable. It hugged tightly to Zaks form, showing off his figure. Zak would have been embarrassed to wear it to school, because they seemed like underclothes, which they were. Zak also had on some sort of black boots that, Zak would have guessed, were Timberlands. Zak felt uncomfortable with the guard there, because, with the visor down, Zak couldn't tell where he was looking. He resolved to get some decent clothes on, as soon as possible.

Zak looked around, and saw no one else, and wandered why he had been unchained. The guard prod Zak toward a door, with the AK47 that he was carrying. Zak stepped up to it, and it slid open. Another jab told him he was suppose to go in. Zak reluctantly stepped in to what he now saw was an elevator. The guard marched in after him. He reached down into his collar, and pulled out his dog tags. There was also a key on the chain, that he held, and slid into a key slot. The guard replaced the chain on his neck, and tucked it back into the armor. Zak tried to contact Mike and Krista with NET, but couldn't. That meant that they were either out of range, or, the more likely solution, the elevator was guarded agents Neural wave lengths. That was okay. Zak, without any prior indication, reached over, and grabbed the guards helmet. When he had retrieved the key from his neck chain, Zak had noticed that the guards helmet was not fastened, so when Zak reached over, it was easy to pull off the guards helmet. With the helmet off, it easy for Zak to knock him unconscious.

Zak removed the armor, and dressed himself in it. He also took the guards tags, along with the key. When the elevator stopped, Zak stepped out, leavening the guard with one last thwack on the back of his head, just for good measure.

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