"Damn it!" Dai said before punching the nearest wall.
Noah was with Gabriel and Dai a mile or so away from school. They skipped their afternoon classes after they got out of the white room. They didn't think there was much of a reason to attend.
"This is only my second year here! And now I'm in the Games!" Dai punched the wall of the concrete building again, this time wincing in pain.
The Eden Games. A game held once per year to receive funding to keep E.V.E. around without needing to charge the people who go in. Not with money anyways. A large group of E.V.E. citizens are sent to fight each other in an all-out battle royale. Only one is left alive.
"You should not complain!" Gabriel said, probably the first time Noah had heard him angry, "Noah has only been here a month."
A month, it felt shorter than that to Noah. He hadn't said anything since the white room, must have been shock.
"Why do these games even exist? It's immoral to force people to fight each other!" an ironic thing for Dai, a guy who constantly picks fight, to say.
"That's how this world operates," Gabriel started explaining, "No one wants to die. The people who own E.V.E. use that, in the form of the Eden Games, to keep everyone in both E.V.E. and the material world in check. Hold people in fear that they will be the next to go."
Dai turned away from the others and started walking. "Man, I'm out."
"Where are you going?" Gabriel asked. Noah could tell he was annoyed by Dai childishly leaving.
Dai didn't turn around. "I've got stuff I have to do before then," was all he said before running off.
Noah felt like running off too. He needed time to think things over. But there were things to be done. There were lost memories to retrieve.
"We need to go to that guy," he told Gabriel. There was grim seriousness in his words, as well as desperation.
"Of course we do, now more than ever," Gabriel responded. They headed to a nearby Link Box. Gabriel scrolled down the listings. "We need to head to the Elite sector."
"What's in the Elite sector?" Noah asked.
"It's a special residential area that houses the veterans of the Eden Games." He continued scrolling down. "The problem is that you need special clearance to use a Link Box to get there. Its to keep the winners away from anyone that my be unhappy about their victory, such as if they had family in that game."
'Veterans, people who have gone through the Games and come back.' Noah thought. 'Why are we going there? If it's to ask them for advice, I bet everyone has already thought of that.'
"The guy, Seth Patten, was last year's veteran. I'll give him a call to let us in." Gabriel got out his hologear and started up the video communicator.
"I see you did end up calling," said a voice through the hologear. Although a voice could be heard, the only thing on the video monitor was the label Video feed offline. "Be glad you asked for my help before. Word is that the first groups for the Games were chosen. Soon the sector will be swamped with desperate people wanting help."
"Let us in, Seth, there has been a change of plans," Gabriel said into the hologear.
A few moments later the Link Box activated and the flash came. It took longer than normal, probably because they were going far away, but they soon got there.
They ended up in a large room with gray walls. The back half of the room was only occupied by the Link Box they came out of. The only source of light in the room came from dozens of computer monitors on a large desk that occupied the other half.
"What kind of changed plans?" That was said by the guy Noah presumed to be Seth. He was sitting on a wheeled computer chair near the monitors facing the others. There was a white jacket with a 01 on the breast pocket in black hanging on the head of the chair.
"It's about the Games," was all Gabriel said to answer. Seth seemed to understand what he meant because he started to nervously stroke his messy jet-black hair back.
"No, no, NO!" Seth said, upset. He got up from his chair suddenly. He was fairly tall, about five inches taller than Noah. "You know it's against the rules for players to receive unfair advantages. Not only would Eve make things hell for you in the arena but she'll try getting to me too."
"I've heard that Eve couldn't touch you because of some special agreement when you won last year. That makes you the perfect person to train us."
'That's what Gabriel wants,' Noah thought, 'Seth was supposed to get my memories back but instead we need him to train us.'
"Even so, I can't help you. It's not worth Eve breathing down my neck. I can still retrieve those memories if you like." He sat back down on his chair and turned around to face the monitors.
"What use is that?" Noah said now that he was caught up with what was going on. "If I get my memories back I'll just lose them again after I die again."
Seth didn't turn back around. He kept looking towards the monitors. "Don't you think it would be better to live your last moments with your loved ones from before in your mind."
"Dying would be harder if I knew there was someone that I left behind."
The room fell silent after this. Everyone seemed to be waiting for Seth to make a decision.
Seth made a deep sigh. "The games start on New Year's. That gives us twenty-two days to get you two ready. Let's just hope Eve doesn't find out about this."
It was the ninth day of training. Rumors were that five more groups have visited the white room. Noah and Gabriel have been training with Seth every day after school. They'd rather have not gone to school and train full time but that might have attracted the attention of Eve, the moderator of the world. They tried to get Dai to go with them but they had only seen him once since the white room and he denied.
They had been training with a large variety of weapons such as pocketknives, daggers, longbows, and broadswords. Seth was trying to prepare them to use any weapon they can get their hands on. Today they were going to learn about further details of the Eden Games.
"I've never heard of Battle Apps" Noah said. He was standing in front of Seth in the room; the computer monitors had been removed. There were now Florissant lights hanging from the ceiling and training weapons scattered on the floor.
"Battle Apps are the tools you use in the arena to fight." Gabriel explained next to him. "Battle apps were also used to get all the weapons here and the gun Dai used awhile back."
"That's right," Seth conformed. He was now wearing his jacket over his black turtleneck. "Battle Apps have always been used to attain weapons in E.V.E. But they are different in the arena."
"They could kill us for real, right." Noah said. He got that much from what he had learned. While right now if he were to get injured in any way, it would heal. In the arena all that changed, he could die just like people normally do.
"No not just that. They have this other capability that can't be done by any other weapon." Seth walked over the far side of the room, where the computers once were. "Pick up a broadsword and attack me with it."
'What would that prove?' Noah thought. During all of training time, Seth has never fought once. He merely shouted out orders and had Gabriel spar with Noah. Although hesitant, Noah grabbed a nearby sword and prepared to charge at him with it.
"Alright, here I go." Noah charged straight at Seth, sword up high ready to swing down at him. Seth had no weapon, no way to defend. The only real reason Noah was attacking is because he knew that Seth would quickly heal. He swung the blade down at Seth once he got close.
"Void Lock,"two words, spoken just above a whisper by Seth. Noah came to a complete stop. He pulled the sword down to reach Seth but something was latching on to it. Noah tried to move himself but the same force didn't let him move his legs.
Noah looked down to see what was wrong. What he saw was two black orbs attached to his legs. "What is this!?" he yelled out. He saw that another orb was attached to the tip of his broadsword.
"A special Battle App," Seth said. He moved slightly to the left and then the orbs disappeared. Noah's previous swing resumed and hit the solid ground. "One that doesn't even take the form of a weapon. Battle Apps in the arena are going to be like that. You'd be able to fight in ways previously seen only in fiction."
"Amazing," Gabriel said in the sidelines.
Noah dropped the broadsword on the ground and turned to Seth. "We should have been training with one of those. Wouldn't it be more useful that way?"
"You can't," Seth plainly said, "They only appear in the arena and I'm the only one that currently holds one. That was just to show you what you should expect."
"So when we get to the arena, we have to get our hands on one of those," Gabriel said.
"Right. There will be thousands of them in there, all of them unique." Seth said. "Now that's enough training for today. Get out."
Sixteen days, sixteen days. Noah was repeating that in his head. Only sixteen days until the arena.
Noah was wondering the streets in search of Dai. He hadn't been coming to class. The class rep, Gabriel, wanted to make sure that he made it to the exam set for tomorrow.
Noah wandered into some unknown street in an unknown sector. He could have checked where he was on his hologear but chose not to. The street was completely empty and was lined with buildings that also looked empty.
Out of the silence he could hear noise nearby. The sound was faint but Noah could tell it was two people talking. One of the voices sounded like Dai.
He walked over and turned at the corner. He saw Dai sitting on a bench alongside a girl Noah didn't recognize. It didn't look like they realized Noah was there.
"You really need to stop doing this Dai," the girl said. She had long brown hair with streaks of blond and a small blue bow. She was wearing a blue dress that went down to her knees.
"You shouldn't worry too much, Megumi. I'm only acting ou- Ouch!" Dai said. The "ouch" was because the girl just put a Band-Aid on a cut on Dai's forehead. There were a lot of cuts and Band-Aids all over Dai; his left had been also covered in rags.
"Only lethal wounds heal quickly, wounds like this take time," Megumi said then went silent for a moment before speaking back up, "Come on, tell me what's wrong."
"I can't," He answered, "It's not your problem."
"Ok, fine. I won't ask you again," she said, "But you still need to go to your exams tomorrow. I might not go to your school but I'll know if you're not there."
"You win," Dai said giving in, "You talked me into it."
Exams were done. Even though Noah spent most of his time training he got away with 80%. Good thing he got a good grade on the exam that is right before he is sent to death.
He was walking out of school when Gabriel and Dai joined him.
"It's been awhile since we've all been together," Noah pointed out.
"It was inevitable," Gabriel joked, or tried to.
"Ha-ha, sorry I wasn't coming guys. I was doing some training and stuff," Dai said.
"I got an eighty. What about you two?" Noah asked.
A perfect score, as expected from the class rep. But Noah was surprised that Dai got such a low grade like sixty.
"Can you pass with that grade?" Noah asked Dai.
"Does it matter?" Dai responded, "I'm not going to be around much longer."
The once joyous mood darkened. No one wanted to remember about the games.
"This is it," Gabriel said, "We'll be in the arena soon."
They all stayed silent.
"Are you all prepared?" Seth asked. Seth, Noah, Gabriel and even Dai were all in Seth's training room. In a matter of minutes, three of them would be sent to fight for their lives.
"Yes," they said in unison. Although Noah said yes, he was doubtful. He did not believe only a month of training was enough. He felt like he was still unprepared.
"They should be gathering the participants in about ten minutes." Seth explained. "I'd like to speak to Noah before you're off."
As Seth and Noah went to the computer filled half of the room, Dai and Gabriel decided to get a bit more training done. Seth sat down on his chair and started typing on a keyboard.
"What's the matter?" Noah asked Seth.
"It's about your memories," he responded.
"I thought you weren't working on that because of what I said." When Noah said he'd rather not remember of his past, he assumed Seth wasn't working on it.
"I was working on it," Seth said, "For a while now. It wasn't progressing much so I didn't talk about it."
"Then I guess I'm going in without it," Noah said. After two months of not knowing, he had accepted that he would never know.
"But there is a chance you could," Seth said, "The reason why getting your memories wasn't going anywhere is because I was trying to look for fragments inside your memory space."
"You're saying that there aren't any fragments. So there is no way to get my memory."
"There is a way." Looking away from his monitors for a moment he looked at Noah's right arm and gestured to put it on the desk. Noah did just that, palm facing up. "There were locked files inside your hologear that I decided to look at.
Noah hasn't thought of those files since he first arrived to E.V.E. He turned his hologear on and the familiar holographic images appeared.
"I found out what the files are for," Seth continued, "They're part of a program installed to your hologear."
"What does that have to do with my memory?" Noah asked wondering if this is going to lead to anything."
Seth stopped typing and pulled out a computer chip from one of the monitors. "Just watch." The chip glowed blue much like the hologear did. Seth gently put the chip and pressed it onto the hologear's screen. The chip disappeared like it was absorbed by the screen and the hologear image started to change.
"The program was a backup memory device made to keep people from losing their memories during a transfer. It's rumored to have started beta testing not too long ago. I guess it was glitchy and caused all of your memories to be lost and your backups to be locked."
The hologear image finished changing and showed a main menu, like in a game. Sweet Memory was shown in white cloud like letters across the screen. There were also two other words underneath that in bold blue letters: Lost Library and Sanctuary.
"I can have my past back," Noah said thankfully. He pressed on Lost Library to see if it would show his memory. All that came up were the words Library Empty.
"I'm sorry man," Seth apologized, "I was only able to unlock the program. The memories should come back on their own now, but it'll take time."
A pain shot through Noah. He had his hopes up for just a moment, and it came crumbling down. At least now he knew it was possible to get his memory.
"It's alright," Noah said, "I'll just have to get them in the arena."
Eve brought them to the Gate through the same flash as before. No one has been at the Gate since first arriving. The group was much larger than the one in the white room; it went past the grass field horizon.
"All players are accounted for," Eve announced. There were screens spread across the field so that everyone could see. "I welcome all of you to the Eden Games. We shall start shortly."
Noah was separated from the others when transported. He didn't bother looking around to see them in this crowd.
Noah heard a voice among the crowd. A voice that he thought was directed at him. He could hear it even in the noise of the crowd.
"Good luck in there."
He saw that it came from a girl standing next to him. A girl with long bluish black hair that went down to her waist. Wearing a plain green blouse and black pants. And Noah remembered that she had a book in her hand like the last time he saw her.
He couldn't respond because before he could another flash blinded him. A flash that took him to the Eden Games.