Tutorial Level, The Game, Cyberspace

"Um…is anybody here?" Les continued shouting. "Darn," he added to himself. "Why the hell am I screaming my head off? It's a waste of my voice; I never programmed any non-player characters into this thing!"

"Who is shouting?" Les jumped and swiveled around. There was no one to be found.

Well, the voice had seemed distant, he thought. Just then, he saw a boy about his age running faster than he had ever seen anybody run. The two eventually locked eyes and the other kid began running toward Les. When the boy was about six feet away from Les, he took a leap and landed inches away from the amazed genius. Les took a step back to put more space between him and the jumping boy.

"Who are you?" asked Harry Drake. "Where am I?"

"I am Les Manding," replied Les, "and let's just say you're not in Kansas anymore."

"I'm from Pennsylvania, not Kansas," Harry muttered under his breath. To Les, he added, "And where exactly is 'not-in-Kansas?'"

Les sighed. "You're in a virtual reality world called the Game. It was designed by me to train people with certain talents for war. I have no idea how you got here already, Harry Drake, or what exactly your talent is."

Harry narrowed his eyes. "How do you know my name?"

"I actually have no idea. Maybe the Gamemaster is supposed to know all the Player's names. I am, after all, the Gamemaster."

Harry grunted. The two of them swerved around as they heard two other voices, distant at first but getting louder.

"I am having a major skull cramp, man!" one voice was saying.

"I felt like we just went down the garburator!" the other added.

"Have ever been down the garburator?" the first one inquired.

"No, but I am pretty sure that's what it would feel like!"

Two boys that looked like they were in their late teens came into view. One of looked like he was growing a small, orange beard. They were still conversing about how they were lost, had been abducted by aliens, and had incredibly painful headaches. Then they looked up and saw Les and Harry.

"What are you looking at?" spat Keith Marrier.

"Yeah! What are you looki---sorry," Joel Nison stopped mid-sentence when Keith shot him a look.

"Hello boys," Les greeted calmly. "How's good ol' Tronno?" The two Canadians just stared at him dumbly.

"Keith, Joel," he said, "I am the Gamemaster, Les Manding of Maryland, USA. Matt Jones should be arriving soon," he added. And then the first four Players saw a dirty-blond haired, short kid running to them.

"Hi! Do you know where the hell I am?" he asked a little too cheerfully.

"I do, Matt Jones," Les said. Just then, the ground began to quake. The very earth on which they stood began to split apart. It became wider and wider…and them it stopped.

"Damn!" said Joel, impressed. A large fissure stood between everybody else…and Harry.

"It's gotta be some kinda test!" Harry figured out.

"It is!" Les explained. "This, being a video game, in a sense, needs to have some sort of beginner's level. This is the Tutorial Level, the training before the training. I assume, by the Game's behavior, you must be a good leaper, Harry!" Harry nodded. "Then show us what you've got!"

Harry backed up. He rushed to the edge of the dark, deep fissure, took a great leap of faith…and landed safely on the other side. Barely. The track and field wizard slipped and clung onto the side of the cliff with one hand.

"Help! Someone pull me up! Please!" he cried. Then the fissure began to close. Harry screamed. In his fright, he gained a burst of strength and used his arm to pull himself up. "Please tell me that that's the hardest it's gonna get!"
"This is just the tutorial," Les pointed out, much to Harry's dismay. "Hey! Where did those to Canadians go off to?"

They looked around and eventually saw Keith and Joel climbing…nothing.

"Woo-hoo! It's great to be climbing again!" Keith shouted. "What a second. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" he added, horrified.

The other three boys suddenly saw that Keith and Joel were climbing a rock pillar…and that a large spider was crawling towards Keith! At the top of the pillar was a spray can of spider killer.

"Go! Hurry! I don't want to be an arachnid's lunch!" Joel cried. The two scrambled up the pillar as quickly as they could. The spider was about to take a bite out of Keith's leg when Joel shook up the can and sprayed it right in the giant bug's face. The spider dissolved into green binary code.

When they got to the bottom, they didn't bother to ask if it was going to get any more difficult; the answer was obvious: of course.

Just then, a robot made of aluminum came up behind Matt and withdrew one of its hands and replaced it with a laser gun. Matt spun around and did a fast karate chop.

"Ow! Oh, that hurt like hell! Oh," he moaned after his hand glanced right off the robot. The robot's gun made a high pitched noise. It was charging up. Matt threw his leg at the robot's chest…and dented the metal! "Its chest must be its weak point!" he said.

Matt kept throwing punches and kicks at the robot's middle until it didn't look like anything else but some scrap metal.

"Gamemaster?" a distant voice shouted. The five Players looked around. A group of five more teenage boys was making its way towards the trained five.

"It's about time you got here!" Les said. "Guys, these are the other five Players. They have already passed the Tutorial Level like you have. This," he said, pointing to the short, brown-haired kid that had called out his title, "is Chase Muller, whose talent is…digging?! Um…OK…. Anyway, this," pointing to a tall, dark-skinned kid, "is Garrett Kingston, who is good at handling weapons." Garrett grunted. "This," Les continued, referring to a thin, blond-haired boy, "is Jacob Hart, who knows a lot about gadgets and other things that will be considered 'items' in the Game. This kid right here," talking about a kid about Les' size who actually looked a lot like Les, "is Dylan Manding, my…cousin. He's good at identifying creatures, monsters, and aliens, because…he…well…because he reads a lot of science fiction books." Dylan smiled. He had braces. "Last but not least, is Heath Forager." Heath was a burly kid with spiky, yellow hair. "He's excellent at, um, a variety of things, actually. I think. I can't find the data for his talents. Oh, well!"

"Thank you for the fine introductions, my fine Gamemaster," Heath said. "Now, may we please proceed to Level One of the Game?"

Les gave Heath an odd look, and then straightened up and announced, "It's time for us to move on to the first Level of the Game! It will be pretty easy, although it will quite obviously be more difficult than the Tutorial Level. You ready?"

"YEAH!" the Players cheered. Les took a pen out of his pocket that he had no idea he had, and he drew a circle on the ground. Instead of ink coming out, though, a string of binary code came out. He "colored in" the circle, and the code became a metal door. The door's two halves pulled away from each other.

"Jump down and you'll be in Level One," Les instructed.

As the other Players leaped down further into the Game, Harry stayed back and said to Les, "That tutorial was hard! Please tell me there are only two or three levels in the Game!"

"Sorry, man! There are seven. This is only the beginning." And Les jumped into the hole, leaving Harry with no choice but to follow Les into the official beginning of the virtual reality known as the Game.

Author Notes: "Skull cramp" means headache, "garburator" means garbage disposal, and "Tronno" is Toronto. This is all Canadian slang that I actually had to do research to find!

This chapter was difficult to name! First I had "Training," then "Tutorial," but I thought, and still think a little, "Tutorial" is kind of a bland name! But since I couldn't come up with anything better, I kept it! At least it makes sense! :)

This has the most "bad language" I've put in one chapter to date (Early December 2008)!

This is a work of fiction. The characters and situations in this story are elements of the author's imagination. They are not real. Any likeness to real people is entirely coincidental. (As of now, most of the situations in this story are impossible.)