"Endless options! Ninety-five percent real! You can do anything you want with this game!" Miranda exclaimed.
Marcella replied, "What?"
Miranda hit Marcella and said, "How do you not know about this game!? Everyone - and I mean everyone - knows this game! It's not just a boy game and it's not just a girl game! It's both!"
Marcella laughed, "You sound like one of those advertising people."
Marcella's tiny laugh soon turned into a long one. Miranda impatiently waited for her to stop.
Miranda said, "It's sorta expensive, but it's totally worth it! You have to get it, Mari! It's called 95%. You have to get it!"
Marcella noticed her car and said, "Oh, there's your car. Bye." Marcella stifled a laugh still thinking about Miranda in a commercial advertising something.
Miranda repeated as she left "You have to get it!"
Marcella soon found her car and went inside. Marcella wasn't into games at all except for a few but they would easily bore her. Games that included violence were another world to Marcella and she knew she'd never be into one. Miranda always played fighting games so Marcella was sure this one was also a violent game.
Marcella's phone began ringing while she was eating. She checked it and saw it was Miranda once again telling her to get 95%. Marcella ignored it but suddenly her phone started ringing ten more times. She checked it and realized all her friends and even a few she didn't know were texting her about 95%.
"What?" She said aloud in confusion.
She put her phone away and continued eating. It continued ringing so she turned it off. Marcella ate peacefully and slowly so she could savor her food's flavor.
The next day at school while she was at her locker she could hear people talking about 95% everywhere. Her friends told her about it as she was wandering the halls to her classroom. During class there was the slight murmuring about it. In science, the teacher had a long conversation with the class about it but since Marcella didn't have the game she couldn't say anything. At lunch it was all her friends talked about. The conversation was endless and everyone kept trying to convince Marcella to get the game.
Later that day she noticed that her dad and brother had disappeared. She was about to go look for them but then she saw them coming out from the garage. Van was holding some big box. It looked like a game so Marcella decided to ignore it and continue watching television. She felt her dad set another of the same box next to Marcella.
He said, "It was a buy one get one half off sale."
Van rushed to his room to try out the game. Marcella looked at her box and realized it was the game everyone had been talking about all day.
Marcella opened it out of curiosity and saw a headset or goggle thing. There was also a pamphlet and instruction manual inside. Marcella wasn't fond of reading so she just did the whole calibration thing and tried on the headset.
It was pitch black for a second before words popped up. It had two choices:
- Modern life
- Medieval life
Marcella touched the modern life. It sent a ticklish sensation through her fingers as it disappeared and more options appeared. Marcella noticed she was no longer sitting now as she fell deeper into the game.
The options glowed and were shaped like buttons for Marcella to press. Above the buttons it said, 'You may choose a maximum of three' It had:
- Love story
- Fighting story/delinquent/supernatural
- Family story
- Friendship story
Marcella thought for a while then wondered what it was like to be in a love story and pressed the button. It once again tickled her fingers as it disappeared. A rectangle appeared and words said above it "First and last name". Marcella noticed a pen had appeared in her hand so she wrote her name in the box. It glowed white seconds after she scratched it in and disappeared along with the pen.
A voice echoed throughout the darkness "Thank you for registering Miss Marcella Manalili. I am here to instruct you about the contents of the instruction manual that you must know or may have missed. As you may know, you are only allowed to have one account and this headset is now specifically only for you and will not work for anyone else. If you are still wary of your account being stolen you may have a password. Your avatar will look exactly as you look now however you may change tiny things such as your clothes or your size. Because you have chosen modern life you will start off with the clothes you have now but you will have clothes in your closet. If you are not happy with the clothes you have you may change them. If the NerveGear is taken off suddenly by someone else outside the game, you will be automatically logged out. I'm sure you will figure it all out as you progress through. Please enjoy your time here and if you have any more questions just look at the Game Help. Oh, and to get there you have to say Menu Function and find it."
The darkness faded to reveal what her avatar looked like. Marcella was too lazy to change anything so she went on to the next step. It asked what kind of love story she wanted. She picked appropriate and cute. It told her that the story was up to her to create but the boy would act appropriately as she asked. Marcella stifled a laugh at the thought of people who chose mature and did that stuff with an NPC. The last step was to create a password if she wanted to. She decided not to since she felt she wouldn't be on this game much unless her friends forced her to.
The darkness evaporated to reveal a house she didn't recognize. She wandered around and realized this was her house. Her NPC parents were busy sleeping in their room. Marcella looked at the calendar and figured out it was summer vacation.
She walked outside and saw a girl at her neighbor's door.
The girl confessed, "I like you!"
The boy she confessed to shook his head and said, "I'm sorry, Nicolet. I don't like you that way."
Nicolet gave a look of despair then ran away with tears in her eyes.
"I don't get what's going on..." Marcella muttered.
The boy called out to her "Hey! You're new here right? If I remember correctly your name was Marcella."
"Err, no it's Skylar." Marcella lied then thought 'Gotta change my account name.'
"Oh man! I was way off! Sorry about what you just saw by the way." He said as he ran over to her.
Marcella walked over to the sidewalk to walk with him. She wondered if this was the guy she was supposed to go with.
He held out his hand and said, "I'm Yuuki."
Marcella didn't realize he had held out his hand until he put it back down.
She laughed, "Sorry!"
As she continued to laugh, he began to stifle a few laughs. It was a habit of Marcella's to laugh more than normal.
Yuuki said, "You're interesting. I haven't known a girl that is as free-spirited as you."
Marcella stifled her laugh and said, "You seem as sensitive as a girl."
Yuuki raised an eyebrow and asked, "Is that an insult? Never mind, you don't need to answer that. I'll take it as a compliment."
Marcella said, "Are you just an NPC?"
He paused at that sentence then asked, "What's an NPC?"
Marcella replied, "Never mind. I don't even know what it stands for."
The walk became silent. Marcella wasn't sure if it was an awkward silence or not but she decided it was when she saw his serious expression.
"So who was that girl that confessed to you? It sounded like you two knew each other well." Marcella said trying to create conversation.
He replied, "She's a friend I made about a month ago. I – I just feel so confused about her right now. I just want things to stay the same. Fun and relaxing."
'I guess this isn't the guy I'm supposed to go with,' Marcella thought to herself.
"I saw a drama like this. You should… like, think what you'd feel if she went with another guy." Marcella said.
He furrowed his eyebrows as he thought about it.
"No, I'll think about it later. This must be ruining your time." He said with a guilty smile.
Marcella was about to nod and say 'Yeah, sorta,' but thought the better of it and said, "It's better than school."
"I guess so." He said. His watch began to ring. He looked at it then said, "I didn't realize it was already afternoon. I guess I'll be going now. Bye, Skylar."
He ran back to his house. Marcella wasn't sure what to do next so she wandered around until she found herself at a school playground. She wasn't sure about her way back so she called out her menu and sought out a map.
"Ahhh!" She screamed in excitement when she reopened and closed her menu. It was like having powers in her hand or something.
When she was done playing with her menu she went to the swings and started swinging for a while.
Back at her house, her fake parents were up and about.
Marcella was about to log out but suddenly she was in darkness. The darkness choked her. She scratched at her neck trying to make the hands that weren't there go away. Her lungs were screaming for air but to no prevail could she escape. She struggled to log off but the darkness was sluggish and held her in place.
The rest was a blur. She was able to breathe again and the darkness was fading. She didn't have to look to know there were bruises as her neck. A figure hovered over her then she blacked out.
It was dark once again then she realized her eyelids were close. She forced them open but they'd only open into a slit. She realized she was floating in water. Her arms and legs were lethargic and wouldn't move so she could only flick her eyes around. She was in some sort of glass and somehow she didn't need to breathe. Soon exhaustion took over her again and she closed her eyes.
The next time she was conscious her eyelids were still very heavy and her body sluggish. She forced her eyes open a little bigger this time and caught sight of a science room or laboratory or whatever. She closed her eyes again. She continued to slip in and out of consciousness.
Once again she gained consciousness but wanted to move. Strangely enough, she wasn't hungry but she really wanted to taste something again. Marcella just loved food and even if she wasn't hungry she'd want to savor her food all the time.
She was able to move around her arms a little but that easily exhausted her. She pried open her eyes halfway and saw a man working on stuff. She was conscious of the other glass containers around her.
Marcella felt fear hit her when she saw a creepy figure in another container. There were a few times when the body would deform or detach a part then its flesh would piece back together. She couldn't see things properly with all the bubbles around her but she had a strong feeling this was a bad place.
She moved her legs around in attempt to try and kick the glass but it only felt like walking through deep, sticky, and hard snow or goopy mud. She felt herself black out.
Marcella for the millionth time gained consciousness again. This time Marcella really wanted to get out. She felt stiff and uncomfortable and definitely didn't want to die this way. Marcella gathered her strength even though she knew she was weak and made a loud bang on the glass. Now her toe was aching and she was tired. She opened her eyes then banged on the glass again.
She heard something like when you first open a soda can. She kicked again then the bubbles around her increased in amount. She felt her shirt floating up a little from the large rush of bubbles. It was painful to not laugh from the tickling feeling, but she couldn't for her lips wouldn't move or open and she was completely exhausted.
Suddenly Marcella felt the water rushing through her nose, and her lungs starved for air. She could move again but she couldn't get out. While she collapsed onto her knees she started beating on the glass. The longer she held her breath the more she felt her head would explode. A large stream of bubbles came out of her mouth when she couldn't hold in her breath any longer. She struggled for air but only got more water down her mouth. She was losing consciousness once again except this time drowning.
When she opened her eyes again she saw a man staring at her. She stared back at him.
"You are awake." was all he said then turned to go back to whatever he was working on.
Marcella looked around and realized she was still in the laboratory. The scary creature in the glass looked like a regular woman figure now that she got a look at it out of the water.
The man said, "You are stronger than I expected. I think I might just make you one of my workers."
Marcella slid back a little feeling panic rising in her chest. At times like these she'd usually let them kill her and give up on life easily, but that man seemed to have put something in the water that changed her. Actually, water is most likely not even the right word. It should just be called a liquid.
He said, "Sorry, but I'm going to have to put you through another experiment. You have high chances of living, I'm sure."
Marcella's body was still aching and tired so she had to use the counter to pull herself up.
"What did you do to me?" She asked.
"I made you stronger although there are probably going to be a few side-effects." He said.
Marcella placed her other hand on the counter to support her but ended up touching some smooth spherical surface. Before she could figure out what it was she was surrounded by light. The man shouted something at her but she quickly appeared somewhere else. She looked around cautiously and realized she was in a cave. When she felt it was safe she tried to log out but somehow she couldn't.
Marcella limped through the cavern until she suddenly found herself in the middle of nowhere.
She looked around then opened her map. It showed her where she was and everything miles around her. She shuffled to the nearest city.
When she arrived she saw many other players dressed in medieval things. She looked down at her clothes and saw she was wearing a similar style over her regular clothes.
She noticed a crowd and went over to it. In the middle were people fighting. She backed away then thought to herself 'I'm in the Medieval World! How do I get back? Is this some seriously bad glitch?'
She found Game Help and literally read through all the instructions. It didn't say anything about glitches. Changing worlds was also not allowed unless you talked with the game manager.
Marcella looked around again to make sure she was really in the Medieval World. Knights wandered around. People were using elemental magic. People had swords, axes, and all those weird weapons.
She looked around her menu but found nothing that could help her. Suddenly she noticed something weird at the side of her menu. It said 'Level 100 capped.'
She looked at everyone else's and realized they had levels too. A few hid their levels or capped them so she wasn't sure what their real level was but no on in the area was a level 100. She capped hers to 60 then walked around.
She learned that people who just recently joined the game would be in Caldimoor. She capped her level to one then used her map to find Caldimoor. It was a long walk through plains and deserts. Sometimes she'd hear things scurrying around her. She'd freak out and run. Soon she made it to a forest and hesitantly walked through the trees.
She felt fur skim past her. She turned but saw nothing. She began walking again but suddenly she heard rustling. She stopped and strained her ears to hear it again but nothing came. Just when she was ready to move on again she heard growling. She turned and ducked just in time to dodge a beast that jumped at her. She backed away with wide eyes of shock.
The beast growled, "Who are you and why do you trespass my territory?"
Marcella replied, "I – I just wanted to get to Caldimoor! I'll leave immediately."
The beast snarled, "What business do you have there? If you were new then you wouldn't have come from Sarepta; Sarepta's where the strong people go."
Marcella realized he was level 10 and asked, "Are you like the first test for newbies?"
He pounced again and this time found his claws into the flesh of her shoulders. She winced in pain.
He hissed, "You're just a measly weakling. An idiot who went too far ahead with her friends."
Marcella shut her eyes and waited for her death but suddenly she felt the beast's weight get lifted from her but the claws somehow stayed. She opened her eyes and saw a group kill the beast. They were all level 15.
A girl asked, "Are you okay?"
Marcella flinched when she remembered the claws still in her shoulders. Another girl in the group bent down and plucked them out while healing the wounds it left. Even when the claws were out my health points continued to drain slowly. The healer had to rest a little before healing the poison.
The third girl asked, "What are you doing out in the Groton Grove capped to level 1? This place is full of level 10s."
Marcella said, "I'm new and wandered off with my friends."
"You should just train if you want to spend time with your friends. That way they won't have to be protecting you every second." The healer said.
The first girl who spoke said, "Well, we'll take you back to Caldimoor. You train there until your better."
They began walking through the forest together.
The third girl said, "I don't understand why that beast didn't kill you immediately. It just stayed on top of you and growled."
"That was weird," The first one agreed. "Oh by the way I'm Rune!"
The third girl said, "I'm Zephyrinus Lumina. You can just call me Zephyr though. That last girl is Vince Guizett. We really went for those medieval names."
Rune asked, "What's your name?"
Marcella replied, "…Skylar."
They continued walking. The girls easily killed the beasts that would attack them out of nowhere. Somehow Marcella felt as though she sensed when the monsters came quicker than the group did.
At some point they made it to Caldimoor. The girls said their farewells then departed from Marcella. Marcella decided to hide her level so people wouldn't see she capped it.
She found the square and saw many people gathered at the bulletin. She went over to it and saw they were all looking for missions to do. She noticed all of them already had people they worked with so she looked around and noticed a team-forming section in another part of the square. An NPC stood nearby. Marcella guessed that was who they had to talk to, to have their teams formed.
Marcella was just there to figure out what to do next. She couldn't log out and that creepy man might find her again. She tried logging out again but failed. Marcella sighed and walked into a shop to rest.
The shop owner shouted, "If you're not here to buy something then get out!"
Marcella glared at him then walked back out. She looked around feeling hopeless then spotted a building that said 'Healing Center'. She entered it and saw people resting and chatting there. Others were injured people that were being healed. Marcella sat down on a bench and tried logging out again.
Suddenly there was a beep and everything flashed black. It was a confusing feeling but she began to feel she wasn't sitting on a bench but a couch with her head laid back and her eyes closed.
She opened them to see darkness then remembered she was wearing a headset. She unlatched the headset then looked around. She was on a comfy couch with a television in front of her. It was her house. She sighed in relief. Although it was midnight, she was still relaxed because it was Saturday. She put everything back in the box and closed it. She knew she wasn't going back to the messed up game. She won't tell her friends either or else they'll only learn that she now has the game and force her to go on it and meet with them.