EDIT: Just some little things here and there.

[begin A/N] This is my first story on fictionpress. I had worked on this for a while now, trying to make it at least presentable (in my mind). Oh gosh, the first draft… . Perhaps I'll post it some time somewhere. Anyways, I'll hopefully be driven enough to upload new chapters and revise existing ones in a somewhat timely fashion.

Concerning the title, I came up with the title of The Game for another story (long before I knew how to write fiction very well) before I even knew what "the game" was, so I apologize if you just lost the game (trollface). Still, I found the name fit perfectly with this premise, so it's sticking.

Inspired by many, many things, but the thing that really gave me the idea was TV Tropes and video games in general for the premise, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya for the narrative style, and TV shows in general for how the story is modeled like.

Enjoy The Game!

[end A/N]

The Game: First Week Arc

Episode I: Indicative

real time [Tuesday, September 27] (15:27)


Yep… that one word pretty much describes my situation. Actually, more profane words would better describe my situation, but I digress because, well, I am staring down the barrel of what appeared to be a Heckler and Koch USP.

I should probably give you a description of where I am at before jumping into things.

I was in Solra Park, near Solra High School, in the city of Solra. The world seemed to have stopped around me, as everything was completely still. All living things except for trees had disappeared and the air was completely unmoving. It actually reminded me of a technicolor Closed Space. This whole situation would've been extremely unnerving, had there not been very catchy battle theme music playing in the background. Well, more unnerving than it already was since I am staring down the business end of a pistol.

Wait… was in Solra Park? I am in Solra Park. Heh, I was never very consistent with my literary tenses. Whatever, this isn't an essay or anything. Besides, these are my thoughts. It's like talking, so grammar's going to be shot to heck. Like all those times people say, "Person A and me et cetera." And just be glad I've sworn not to say the word "like" every other word. Like, I mean, isn't it kind of, like, annoying to, like, listen to those people who like, say "like," like all the time? See? Granted, I'll try my hardest to keep things grammatically correct. Then again… maybe not.

For some reason, the tall, young man, no older than twenty-five maybe, holding the gun apologizes, "Sorry, kid." He's wearing a rather casual attire consisting of worn jeans, a black shirt and a coat. "Nothing personal or anything like that." Why does everyone say that? "I don't like killing kids, but I need the Experience."

Kid, huh? "I'm sixteen. I don't think I count as a kid anymore." As for myself, I am wearing a not-so-special school uniform if you were wondering. "Just so you know."

The man shrugs. "As you say."

I open up the Main Menu and looked at my life count; it read "Lives: 01". I probably could've guessed that I had only one life, but I just wanted to make sure. Yep, I confirmed that I am completely screwed.

Crap indeed.

It's just too bad there's a good five feet between me and the barrel of the gun. If he had been closer, I would've tried this one move I saw on the Military Channel once. An Israeli Commando, at least I think the person was, demonstrated a move to counter an assailant when they have a gun to your head. Unfortunately this guy is smart enough to make space between us.

I did want to know something first. "Can I ask you one thing before you kill me?"

My assailant nods. "Sure."

"I at least want to know the name of my assassinator. So, what's your name?"

"Raymond Kard." His name has a nice ring to it. Not that that matters.

"Well then, Raymond Kard, I lost The Game." Hmm… that's odd. The thought of dying doesn't even unease me in the slightest, and my life isn't flashing before my eyes. In fact, my mind is quite clear in its thinking, since, well, I am thinking clearly. That probably had to do with my mind being screwed with so I wouldn't give in to stress, but whatever. I'm about to be shot threw the head so all my thoughts will go to waste anyways. Probably should've said more poetic last words in a cool voice, like, "Send me out," insert dramatic pause here, "with a-"


[insert opening credits and opening theme here]


real time (15:28)

"I lost the Game."


"Ow!" A sharp, but not too painful shock ran through my head as the .45 ACP round, though that's just my assumption since the USP can accept other calibers such as the 9x19mm Parabellum or .40 S&W, slammed into me at about 400 meters per second if I remembered correctly. Did I really go through some specs of the thing that just shot me?

And wait… I'm not dead. Actually, I feel no different than how I felt before getting shot. What? Ow! Double tap?

Oh right. The gimmick of this edition of The Game is that it's like a video game. Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. Damn! How could I be so forgetful? I have a life gauge! Um… it reads 9166/10000. I was shot two times… 10000 - 9166 = 834. 834/2 = 417. So each pistol shot deals 417 points of damage. I'll keep that in mind. Hold on, why am I just standing here thinking?

Well, at least my assailant seemed to have been just as surprised as me with the results, since he has this perplexed look on his face and his aim falters. Lucky me. I promptly run away from him. Escape route, escape route…

There! Ow!

I sprint towards a car, since that was the closest source of ample cover. I serpentine- ow! That should throw off his aim. Yeah, it kind of sounded stupid, but hey, it's worked in video games so it might work for me now since normal physics did not apply. Ow! Damn it! Miss me already! I dive over the hood of the car, and another shot whizzes by.

I scramble to my feet, check my HP meter, and bolt off to the alleyway I chose to retreat to. Well, actually it's the only alleyway near the park, but whatever. It leads to a usually busy street with good cover and the way it opened is perpendicular to my assailant's line of sight. That meant once I entered the alley, I'd be safe for a bit.

Um… why am I not getting shot? I'm sure a pistol could reach out this far, especially if there was no bullet drop. Assuming there was no bullet drop in the first place. Wonder what he is do—

"Ah!" I involuntarily uttered a cry that was one more of surprise than pain as a heavy projectile hit me in the back of the head, jerking my head forward. The words "WARNING! STATUS: STUNNED," flash in big bright, glowing letters in the middle of my vision. I can't feel my body at all as I fall forward and face plant into the pavement. Mm… asphalt. Like getting shot, eating the ground didn't hurt. And hey, I made it to the alley!

On a tangent, I'm usually a bit snarky. I guess that's just how my mind works. Though I've noticed my snarkiness goes seems to either let up a little or increase a little when things get serious. Like now.

I dive sideways into the alley as soon as I get to my feet. Something supersonic whizzes right next to my ear. Actually, it was more of a small boom, but damn that was close. Wait, why am I so concerned about a near miss when I've been shot earlier? Heh, some amount of shock must be doing its job.

Glancing at my HP, I'm going to say a word I've been using quite a bit lately, "Crap." I had 7145 HP left. That's less than three-fourths of my total health, and I haven't even touched that Raymond guy. To add to my awesome situation, I have no weapons to speak of to fight with while this guy had a pistol and some other big gun, a sniper maybe. Even if it takes quite a few bullets to take me down, I'm ultimately screwed. There's no way I can take this guy. Regardless, I'm not going down without a fight. Or at least a game of cat and mouse, considering I'd be curb stomped in a straight up fight.

"Silly boy." A familiar female voice, hypnotic, melodic, and haunting all at the same time, calls out to me from seemingly all directions. Yeah, don't ask me how. And damn, she sure likes to drop in unexpectedly, huh? "You knew that The Game involved fighting others for survival, yet you never chose anything to defend yourself with." The world around me proceeded to fade to darkness in about a second, which is actually pretty trippy. "So… choose wisely, as your chosen tool will be with you for the remainder of The Game. Unless otherwise stated of course." Of course.

Suddenly, the walls of the room lit up, revealing a massive armory housing what seems to be every conceivable weapon of war man has ever produced from throughout history. That should say something about the size of this place. Wait, what? Where the hell am I? And how did I get here? First the disappearing of everyone and that ring of light, then the fade to black, and now this? It was as if I was watching TV and the show cut to another scene. Except, you know, I am part of the show.

The exotic voice spoke again, "I froze local time and transported your being here, to this magnificent armory that does in fact contain 'every conceivable weapon of war man has ever produced throughout history.'" Well, that answers my question. "And yes, I know you hate it when I read your mind." I was just about to comment about that in my head. "Shutting up now…" Thank you.

Hmm… decisions, decisions. What shall I choose…?

Ha ha, I'm so awe struck with all the stuff here. The thoughts and feelings I had now were very similar to the time when I went to my first J-Pop convention and my first rock climbing competition. In other words like a very shy kid who has to pay for his own goods by himself in a candy shop. If anyone can hear my similes-slash-metaphors-slash-euphemisms-slash-whatever, please tell me if I'm doing all right. Not you Xya.

Honestly though, from the start I knew what weapon I was going to choose. After playing so many video games and watching so many not-so-realistic TV shows, the answer to the question of, "What shall I choose?" was obvious. For whatever reason, in CQB, this type of weapon trumped almost all others. Perhaps due to the Rule Of Cool. And hey, I get to have a secondary knife too! I think I'll choose the legendary KA-BAR. Some text and a picture pop into my vision. The picture was of a futuristic-looking pouch and the text explained what it was. "The Gaming Pouch is issued to all participating Gamers. It is capable of storing all the equipment of a Gamer and will dispense or recover whatever piece of equipment is needed whenever needed, though restrictions apply. Items stored in the Gaming Pouch will not add weight to a Gamer. For further information, contact your Moderator." That's what the text reads. I look down at my waist and notice a Gaming Pouch had appeared attached to the left side of my waist. I reach in to see if my weapon and knife were in there and… yep, both are somehow comfortably fitted inside this little pouch. Yay for hammerspace!

Now it's time to kick some ass… hopefully…

My surroundings fade to black once again. Then I was back to where I had been, just like that. I proceed to pull out my weapon of choice from my pouch and hide behind a conveniently placed dumpster that wasn't here before today. I can't tell if that had been newly placed there in reality, or if it was inserted for the sake of Gameplay, but whatever. How did I know it wasn't here before today? It's because this is the alley that I just had to find that accursed cube. I hear the light footsteps of my enemy as he neared. Judging by his pace, he was probably jogging. I hold my breath to make sure I made absolutely no sound. The guy's footsteps are deafening in the silence despite being actually somewhat quiet. Well, I guess it's not really silent since music was playing in the background, but the effect was the same. Slowly he nears… and… he's pretty much on top of me.

I spring out of my hiding place and slash him in the face with a long sword. Yep, my weapon of choice is a sword. I'm guessing the sword's effectiveness is like that of meleeing in most games: powerful, but you have get up close and personal. Or like that of swords in animation where they cut through armor, meaning both the kind people wear and tanks, like a Prog Knife through warm butter. I should focus on what I am doing.

The force of the sword knocks my assailant backwards and off balance, causing him to accidentally fire his sniper. Either that or he actually tried to shoot me when he was hit, but missed. And, what the heck? What was with the bluish-green shockwave that came from his face?

Whatever. I slash him across the chest… and in return receive a rather painful punch to the face. I can't help but stumble back from the impact. Heh, that blow must have knocked some sense into me since I just got the shockwave thing. In quite a few games, there's pretty much always that colorful shockwave when someone gets hit. Like in Super Smash Bros. I guess they were trying to emulate something similar.


That was the sound of a bolt being pulled back on a sniper. That's not good. I regain balance and instinctively pivot so my side was to him and hold up my sword in a defensive manner. The loud crack of a shot reaches my ears and something impacts my sword with quite some force. Did I really just block a bullet? Well, I'm sure that was just dumb luck. If normal physics applied, the shot probably just would've gone through the sword.

I retaliate with another slash, but my opponent deflects it with his sniper. Something slices across my midriff—I've just been knifed! Damn he's fast. I jump back, barely avoiding a thrust. I swing my sword at him just to make him back off a little. Hmm… that's good. He dropped his sniper when he whipped out his knife. Looks like the CheyTac Intervention. Now it was a bit more even, with knife versus sword.

So now we are squared off the typical way people square off when armed with blades, like in action movies. I think I'll try to sum up my opponent, since he's probably doing the same to me. At this point I'm going to assume he's highly skilled in combat; he looked like he knew what he was doing. If I had to guess, this Raymond guy was about six feet in height. Since he now had his coat off, I got to see his powerful looking arms. I'm sure he could tear me apart with his bare hands if he wanted to. In fact, he looked like a badass mercenary right out of a war movie or game. And his knife… it was jet-black and tanto-style. If I remember correctly, that's a KM 2000. I almost forgot how cool they look.

Once again, for some inexplicable reason, he starts up another conversation. "Well, this is certainly an interesting change of events."

"Indeed." Hmm. I've noticed I've been using that word a lot after watching this one somewhat old sci-fi series. Anyways, it seems to me that The Game's fighting mechanics were similar to that of a fighting game, with flashing lights whenever someone is hit and a life bar…

"That sword was your saving grace."

"Yep." Continuing my thoughts, that means no matter how much punishment I take, I will be capable of functioning normally at all times until I die. If I die, that is. Gotta try and stay optimistic.

"I will admit that you managed to get the best of me just a moment ago, even if I was distracted. I will not underestimate you."

"I hope not." One of my pet peeves is being underestimated, in case you were wondering. I also don't like being overestimated either. I digress. Taking damage from any source didn't seem to hurt that much, so I suppose I could just endure through any pain. I could probably jump ridiculously high too, since video game characters, especially in fighting games, often like to jump ridiculously high.

"You know, I've always wondered—"

I jump high and forward as soon as his arm moves back. Almost before my brain could process it, the man's blade grazes the bottom of my shoe. I'm so glad I saw that coming. And whoa! I do jump high! My feet must have gotten at least five feet into the air. Now he's going to draw his pistol and—ow! Once again, he displays his speed. My momentum carries me to him in a split second and I land a beautiful slash right across his chest. Heh, good thing we were close together, or else he could've gotten off another shot.

The force of my strike with the weight of my body backing it, combined with surprise, knocks him off balance. I land then follow up with an upward slash. The Raymond guy just takes it and tackles me onto the ground. He pins my sword arm with his leg and jams the barrel of the USP into my face.

Rounds blast into me at point blank range, and let me tell you, it's not a pleasant experience. Well, obviously. I desperately grab hold of the gunpowder-heated barrel of the pistol and direct it away from my face. My arm vibrates as a shot goes off harmlessly next to my ear. Wow. The Game must give you eardrums of steel.

And an elbow crashes into my nose. Ow. Ah, lost my grip! And I get to eat lead three more times. Huh. Tastes a bit better than asphalt. Oh good, now he's out of ammo.

I draw my knife with my free arm and stab sideways at his pistol arm. I also make sure to turn my head the opposite direction. Once again, a shot goes off right next to my ear. I stab again. Then I slice. Then stab. Then stab again. I'm frantically acting without thought right now. What am I doing? I need to go about this smartly—oh. My sword arm's free. I stab awkwardly upwards at him with my three-foot long sword, forcing him to roll off of me to avoid the thrust. I shoot to my feet and face my adversary. Now the fight was fair again.

I lunge at Raymond with a thrust. He sidesteps so easily it's as if he read my mind. I suddenly find myself flipping head over h—wait. Aren't I normally head over heels? Okay, he flipped me, heels over head and now I'm on my back. And crap. I lost my grip on my knife. I lash out with my sword, making sure to keep Raymond at distance as I get to my feet. A bullet slams into my chest. Right, he has a gun; I don't want to keep him at distance. Actually, I'm bugging out. Hopefully what I am about to do works. I throw my sword at Raymond and bunny hop in a zigzag formation. Come on, it's not too far to the exit of the alley! Bullets hit me in the back, but I ignore the pain and impact. Almost there… ha, ha, made it!

I should really expand my vocabulary, but, "Crap." I have only 1617 HP left. This is not good. I lost over 5000 HP in that last engagement. Yeah, I dealt my fair share of blows to my opponent, but I'm almost sure he dealt more damage to me than I did to him. And I had less HP to begin with. Okay, okay, gotta stay calm. Panic will only get me killed. Like in those movies where the panicking idiot gets himself or somebody else killed. I will not be that panicking idiot.

I run a fair ways before I decide to hide behind a car… hold on, a car? That reminds me, stuff absolutely loves to explode for no good reason in video games, especially cars. Actually, I should really emphasize this fact…


And I remember what the description of the Gaming Pouch said, that it can, "recover whatever piece of equipment is needed whenever needed, though restrictions apply." I suppose that means… yep. I had reached my hand in my pouch and now I'm holding my sword… hey, my, knife's in here too. Restrictions… there's text with a timer reading "Weapon Recovery Cool Down: 27… 26… 25…." I'll take note of that. Well, I have no explosives or guns to make the car explode. Guess my sword will have to do, and so I begin to hack away at the car. I hope the physics in The Game are more like that of Halo, where even punching vehicles enough times would cause them to explode.

… Huh. Well, my sword leaves visible damage to the car…

I strike the car for the tenth time and am rewarded with the hood of the car releasing light grey smoke. Sweet. I hit it again and again, and with every hit the smoke grows darker. The eighteenth, and yes I am counting, strike lights the car on fire. Don't you just love video game physics? But, uh, now what? Is it still like Halo where fire just means weakened, or is it like other games where fire means it will explode on its own? Hmm… 1617 HP left, huh? Nope, not taking any chance, and so I jog away. I figure the racket I made alerted my adversary to my position. I wonder where he—


"Oh, Jeez!" I jump at the very loud noise and turned to see the broken, flaming husk of the car that I had been hitting with my sword.

A hysteric chuckle escapes my lips. I can't take this seriously. I've been trying hard to, but now it's getting to me. I mean, I just blew up a car by hitting it with a sword. And just listen to the background music. Dun dun dun dun dun dundun dun dun dundundundundun d-d-dundundundundundun duuuuuun. It's so catchy! And the video game physics. Just, the video game physics. I'm being hunted down by an assassin guy. In a video game! Or at least reality heavily screwed with to be like a video game! And the real kicker? The Game is some TV show aliens watch. Yeah, that's right, aliens. Who ever came up with this, let me ask you this: What. The. Fu—

A bullet annihilates a few strands of my hair, promptly shattering my jumbled thoughts and causing me to drop my sword. It was by pure luck that I had decided to stand up straight at that exact time.

Never mind, I can take this seriously. I can take this dead serious. Having your life threatened will definitely make anyone serious. If not, then they'll end up seriously dead. And uh, yeah, my sanity kind of slipped just then. Sorry. I guess stress and all that stuff isn't completely blocked out despite Gamers' minds being screwed with. Okay, now I'm fine. Time to get out of here by bunny hopping! A bullet cuts through the air between my legs. Crap that was close. Another bullet grazes the top of my head. Crap! That was closer! I make it behind a building just as another bullet narrowly misses me.

Now, one may be thinking that this guy's aiming sucks, considering he's been missing me a bunch. Don't blame him though. I mean, have you ever tried to hit a guy who is jumping five feet in the air, at running speed, with a .408 sniper while standing? Well, probably not, but I imagine It'd be hard.

Umm… yeah, thinking to myself again.

Focusing back to the task at hand, I just keep on running, weaving between buildings to try and lose my pursuer. I suppose I can simply lose my pursuer or just make myself too much of a hassle to follow. Perhaps if I ran far enough away, the world would return to normal because I escaped the boundaries of this battlefield. Yeah, I hope this works. Probably won't, but it's worth a shot. And so I keep on running, not getting tired at all thanks to video game physics and all.

Then suddenly, after running no more than a mile or so, I stop. Not because I stopped running, but because I ran into some kind of force field. I am running in place, as if the ground is completely frictionless. I step back and the field disappears. I reach out with my hand, and the field, a greenish-blue color, emanates from the air in front of my hand. Ha, ha. They actually have an invisible barrier. Well, that was predictable. At least they bothered to have effects for the barrier, unlike so many other video games. Now for plan B: get to high ground. Sure, I don't have a ranged weapon, but high ground is always good. In a neighborhood of mainly one-story houses with some two-stories scattered about, the only viable place with high ground near me is Solra High School, my school. It also happens to have gracious amounts of cover perfectly suited for CQB. Elevations are also diverse since the school is situated on a hill. Solra Park is located only about a fourth of a mile or so from my school, so it should be within the boundaries of this battlefield…

I facepalm. I'm a total idiot! I just remembered that a minimap of the area around me is in the Menu. I barely have to think "Menu" for it to pop up into my vision, and it shows me a list of options and other information that I ignore. I look at the minimap and it shows my orientation and position, represented by a green arrow, on a bird's eye view map of the battlefield. The battlefield is a circle centered where that Raymond guy shot me with a radius of one kilometer. I would change it to miles, but I'm trying to become familiar with the metric system. I mean, the English system is kind of insane. America is seriously the hipster country of the world. Metric system? Too mainstream. Either that or America just wanted to be "unique."

Damn, I can get so distracted. I'll complain about that later. Where was I?

… Right. Not that the information regarding the minimap helped me much, since I know the area like the, uh, like my house. I would've said the old "back of my hand," but I've never really paid attention to the back of my hand too much, nor did I ever particularly care to remember its features. I mean, can you recall the finer details of the back of your hand? Anyways, at least the minimap told me the boundaries of this place and that it confirmed Solra High was within those boundaries.

Well then, to Solra High!

Wonder where Raymond is, but oh well, so long as he isn't shooting at me, I'm okay. He's probably wondering where I am too, since I get to my school uncontested. I head over to a tall brick pillar that made up the corner of the school's library. It was about twenty feet high on this side, being on a hill and all. The thing about the bricks is that for aesthetics, the bricks hang out about half an inch out of the wall, with about half an inch of a gap between vertical layers of brick. That meant for about every three inches, estimating that the bricks were three inches thick, there was a nice long row of grippy half inch hand and foot holds. That's heaven for most rock climbers like myself.

I grip the rough edge of the brick and—ah yeah. These holds are just as awesome as I imagined. I'm loving the feel of the brick; it's like bubble wrap only without the bubbliness. So, yeah, maybe not. I proceed to establish on the wall, using the inside edges of my running shoe since my toe couldn't fit. It's actually not that hard to ascend up the pillar, well, at least for an experienced rock climber like me. While I'm not afraid of fall damage, rock-climbing shoes sure would help. I'm kind of missing my Dragons right now. I probably should've just jumped onto a low-lying overhang and go on from there to get on to the roofs quicker, but I'd been itching to climb this thing for over a year now. I can't believe I had resisted the urge for so long. I reach up and grab the gutter of the roof, giving it a few hard tugs to test how it holds up; it budges not one bit. Perfect. I haul myself up and over the side of the building without much difficulty. Well that was fun. Interesting, the gravelly roof makes a crunching noise every time I moved my feet, though the gravel did not actually move.

Okay, now I just need to wait for that Raymond guy to figure out where I am. I had noticed before that on the Menu screen there was this red sector pointing off somewhere, spinning to face a certain way whenever I changed directions. Usually when you see something try and point in a particular direction, it's important. So I open up the Menu and as if it had read my mind, which it probably did, information about the red sector displays on my screen. As I had figured, it did show something important: the general direction of where your enemy, or enemies is or are at all times. It is disabled once opposing Gamers come within about 50 meters of each other. And hey, mine's currently disabled.

I cautiously peer over the side of the building, and sure enough my adversary is now just walking past the library. He has his pistol aimed ahead of him, but his sniper isn't on him, though it's probably just stuffed inside his Gaming Pouch. I draw my sword and throw it at my adversary. Under normal circumstances, this would be very stupid, but the fact that I can recover my weapon at almost any time makes this a viable tactic.

And my sword harmlessly embeds itself into the solid concrete ground. Ah, come on! He just had to look up right as I threw it! Nice dodge though. Embedded itself into solid concrete huh? Love how that works.

I jerk backwards as the barrel of the pistol snaps to me, and bullet whizzes where my head had been. Time to displace. I proceed to run and leap across the school's rooftops, hoping my adversary will lose track of me. Ha, ha, I feel like Faith jumping from building to building, trying to avoid a guy with a gun. I kinda wish I could do this in more of a big city setting, with skyscrapers and all. With lots of and lots of white architecture, can't forget the white stuff. Now that would be the full experience. I love the fact I don't get tired at all, even while doing all this crazy stuff.

Hmm… pretty sure I lost him now. I make my way to one of the taller buildings of the school and hunker down. Having the high ground should help me find Raymond, though I just hope he doesn't get the same idea as me. That's probably asking too much, since if I thought of getting high ground, he probably has too. With that thought in mind I instinctively peer up at the even taller buildings overlooking me… and I jump off the roof immediately, making sure to catch onto the gutter so I wouldn't fall to the ground. The distinct sound of a bullet hitting the metal roof of the building reaches my ears. Thank you, my quick thinking! While I had tried to lose my adversary, he had made his own way to higher ground. Damn. My one advantage just went to waste. I edge my way over to a gutter drain, grab it and slide down. I'm not going to risk taking fall damage with such little health. Making sure to always be in sufficient cover, I make my way through the hallways of school until arriving at the Performing Arts Hall. There few ways in or out and it was indoors. And as should be obvious, guns perform much better in open spaces than in cramped spaces like indoors. It's urban warfare, the bane of conventional armed forces. I position myself behind an open door leading into the choir room. There is a small little crack that I can see through where the hinge was. You know what I'm talking about. Now I wait and hope he doesn't look this was too closely. Right, sword out.

Hmm… the BGM is actually really good. I should ask Xya if I could download it onto my iPod. The melody sounds a bit like the melodies of UN Owen Was Her? and Sinister Sundown mashed together, though it is certainly distinct, with a great blending of instruments to give it an orchestrated fight theme feel. The loop is also relatively long, four minutes maybe, so it won't get boring after a while.

I really should be concentrating on knowing when Raymond is close. Yeah, I'll do that. I check the menu for the vector, and there it is—oh. It faded just as I looked at it. Raymond's close. Okay, me, this is it. This is my last stand, right here, right now. Gotta get pumped! Fired up! Come on! … Fail. Never really could get myself psyched for anything; I'm too laid back.

Whoa. That was Raymond. He just walked by, pistol at the ready. I didn't even hear him. Retrieval cool down is… good it's zero. Well then, it's game time. I silently move out of my hiding place and face my adversary. I throw my sword then charge him. He turns at the last moment, dodging the blade, and I draw my sword. He jumps back to avoid my follow up strike and while following through, I jump. His counter attack knife lunge harmlessly cuts the space where I had been. I slice downward and am rewarded with a solid hit to the back of his head. Turning in midair with ten sensitivity speed right before I touch the ground, thanks once again to video game physics, I receive a bullet to the face as soon as my feet touch the ground. I slash diagonally at him, nomming another round in the process, and he catches my sword blade with his bare hand. Flashing red text pops up next to my health bar reading, "WARNING! HEALTH BELOW 1000," while my HP meter read, "783/10000."

Oh crap.

I try to free my sword from his grasp, but he jerks it out of my hand so easily I might as well have not been holding it. I drop to a kneel, draw my knife, and stab his foot before changing elevation by jumping into the air to avoid an inevitable counter. I go for his eyes with my blade, or rather I just aim at them and hope for the best. He deflects my thrust by hitting my wrist and jumps into me as I fall. His shoulder slams into my gut, knocking me backwards. I manage to stab him in the back with my knife before I fall to the ground on my back while he body slams me. An unpleasant wave of déjà vu runs through me; I remember this.

I had a good run, but now it's GG. Still, defiant 'ill the end! I try to stab up at Raymond, but he stabs down first. I feel the cold steel of the KM2000 painfully pierce through my arm and pin it to the ground. I don't know why, but this particular blow felt a lot worst than the other hits I took. Maybe it's because it sealed my fate, since now I'm once again staring down the barrel of his pistol. I go limp, the way animals sometimes do at the moment of the predator's leap.

This is it, man, game over. I lost The Game. Huh, that's odd. Even this time my life isn't clichély flashing through my eyes. Well, time to say my goodbyes. Farewell. Sayonara. Zai jian. Adios. Ciao. Dasvidaniya. Totsiens. Valete. Uh, what else is there… er, hej da…

Why am I not dead? I'm definitely sure Raymond's had enough time to pull the trigger. I mean, I can't be thinking that fast. I look at the guy's face and he has this perplexed expression. "What?" I ask.

He replies, "You are a normal high school student."

"A relatively normal high school student," I correct. When I think about it, I'm a bit… different. Just look at how jumbled my thinking is! And hey, kids can be just as competent if not more so at times than adults!

"You held your own against me. Two more hits of your sword and you would've won."

"That close huh?" My other arm is free and I think my retrieval cool down has, well, cooled down.

Raymond must have read my mind. "Don't even think about trying to get out of this. I'll shoot you before you even get your hand in your Gaming Pouch."

"No problem."

"Actually, it is probably because you are a normal high school student you managed to hold your own against me."

That's… actually a valid point. I play video games regularly and am the kind of guy who loves to exploit all there is to in the game. And now The Game is like a video game, but in real life. I am also very athletic too; quite a few of my friends think I should do parkour. I suppose it's only natural for me to have put up a good fight. "Well, that's true, though I still lost The Game."

"Maybe not. The Game incorporates physics similar to that found in video games. You seem to have already found multiple ways to use the physics to your advantage. I could use someone like you."

"Wait, you're not going to kill me?"

"If you join me, then no."

Hmm… refuse his offer and die, or team up with him and live. That's a real tough decision. "Okay then, I'm yours." Oh yeah, that's right. Per Gaming Server, the winners of The Game are the last two Gamers to be left alive. That means we can be allies until we win or one of us dies. Sweet, I won't have to worry about him. I think I might be getting ahead of myself.

"Good." With that, Raymond pulls his knife out of my arm, stands up, and backs away from me. I get to my feet.

"So, uh, how does this ally thing work—" a green text box titled "Friends" pops into my vision and has Raymond's name listed under it. "Well that was easy. So what now?"

"We go about our normal lives. We will have to organize meetings so we can learn from each other. You need to learn how to properly fight and I need to know more about The Game's metagame. Metagame is the right word, correct?"

"I suppose," I say, shrugging. "But really, I'm just using my knowledge of the video games I've played in the past to help me. I don't actually know too much about The Game. I'm just winging it."

"Regardless, you have the potential to be a formidable ally. We can discuss things later. I think it's time to depart." The world around me disintegrates into glowing, multicolored sand, blowing away in an unfelt wind. Now this is trippy. Once the world is a blank slate, a wireframe of the area, people included, around me forms. In a soft flash of light, all the details of everything fill in the wireframe outlines and I find myself in a familiar situation at Solra Park. A gun, hidden from public view by a coat, is pressing into my side. Yes, that's Raymond's pistol, and he quickly puts it away in his coat. He takes a step back, nods, and says, "Until next time." And just like that, he walks off and I watch him go for a while. Trying to act as if nothing happened, I resume my walk back to my house.

[insert ending credits and ending theme here]