~~ Chapter 1: Welcome to Realism. The perfect virtual reality ~~

Four young adults walked down an empty street, hungry and worn out after their first day in this world they looked around at the ghost town they were in. There was no cars on the street, nobody walking by, nobody seemed to be in the homes or the stores. Nobody was there, it seemed like the four of them where the only people in the world. Although the place looked to be a little messy, as if something had been through here and ransacked most of the houses.

"Creepy." Kadin said quietly. "I don't think I've ever seen Oline city this... Empty before." The tall, skinny man with short black hair mused as he looked around. "Are there no NPCs or anything around here?" He questioned. He wore a simple black hoodie with black pants, and as he walked he clutched his right shoulder and looked to be in pain. If one looked closely enough at him they could tell that his shoulder was broken from a recent fight.

Zanath shrugged "Maybe the game isn't built enough to have NPCs yet?" He suggested. He was the shortest of the guys there, with white hair that was about medium length. He had an athletic build and was wearing a white t-shirt with blue jeans.

Kadin shook his head. "No, ordinary townspeople would be much easier then the monsters to make. So if they have monsters, they could easily have normal people" He said. "Of course, it is possible they just didn't bother with that yet. But... Something isn't right" He said.

"It still bothers me that there's no logout button, and that they haven't come to get us out yet. It's been over a day now, why have they not pulled us out? You can't say they wouldn't notice something wrong when all their game testers have not returned after a full day." Mendores stated. Mendores had light brown hair that was a little longer in the back and he was average height. He had an average build aside from appearing slightly stronger then the others and was wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants.

"Plus they made pain perfectly realistic." Kadin added, wincing a little as he tried to move his broken arm and was met with a sharp pain.

"That is your own stupid fault." Estellese spoke up. The girl was just a little below average height making her the shortest in the group by just a little. Her hair was shoulder length, and mostly pink but a little white just at the tips of her hair. She was wearing a violet tank top with a matching violet knee-length skirt, and had a tough but gentle look to her. "If you hadn't run off by yourself like a cocky idiot, you wouldn't have needed me to save your ass and you wouldn't have broken your shoulder." She stated bluntly.

"Hey, if I knew I could actually get hurt in here I wouldn't have tried to fight the goblin by myself." Kadin protested.

"Excuses don't make it any less of a cocky and stupid move." Estellese countered. By now she had pretty much gotten tired of Kadin's cocky attitude over the last day they had been here.

Kadin sighed, he was about to try and argue but was interrupted by Zanath shouting. "Everyone MOVE now!" Kadin and Estell turned to Zanath, then followed his gaze up into the sky as him and Mendores started running out of the way. Kadin cussed and grabbed Estell by her arm, before diving to the side, knocking them both to the ground and just barely getting out of the way in time before a loud explosion echoed throughout the empty city. A car-sized fireball slammed into the ground in a small fiery explosion where the four young adults had just been standing. Leaving a small scorched crater in the middle of the road. A loud roar filled the air above them, shaking the ground under their feet. Just the sound of the roar alone was terrifying, never mind the events that just unfolded.

"Are you freaking kidding me? A dragon? Seriously?" Kadin shouted, as him and Estell got back up onto their feet. The four of them all exchanged a look, and it was clear between the group that they where all absolutely terrified but trying to keep a strong front.

Mendores stepped up to lead the group right away. "Everyone! Follow me and do not fall behind! Keep your eyes on the dragon, it will no doubt come back for more." He said before turning and running down the street. The other three friends nodded and all ran after him.

The dragon growled and turned around, it's wings flapping and sending strong gusts of wind to the ground underneath the dragon. The black dragon was bigger then a house and flew high above the rooftops as it swooped down for another attack.

"Incoming! Move!" Zanath called out again, "It's trying to grab us!"

"Down the alleyway then!" Mendores instructed as the four friends all took a sharp turn and ran down a narrow alleyway. The dragon slamming it's claws into the ground and shaking all the buildings around it as it narrowly missed grabbing Estell. It turned and saw them running down the alley, then took a deep breath and blew a stream of hot flames into the alley, filling the alleyway with fire.

"Turn! Turn!" Kadin shouted as he looked over his shoulder and saw the flames blasting through the alley towards them. The four of them took another sharp turn to get out of the alleyway and onto another street. The flames hit the end of the alley and burst out the sides into the streets, hitting Kadin in the back and sending him to the ground in a yelp of pain as his back caught fire and was badly burnt.

"Shit!" Estell said as she quickly ran over to Kadin and pat out the flames on his back with her bare hands. Wincing and hissing in pain as she burnt her hands a little in the process, but she put out the flames. Mendores and Zanath quickly grabbed Kadin after that and pulled him back onto his feet.

"I'm fine! Keep running." Kadin said in a pained voice. Hearing the dragon's earth-shaking roar echo through the streets again. Followed by the loud crash of a building collapsing as the dragon stepped on a house and used it to jump and take flight again.

"Come on! We need to lose this thing!" Mendores ordered before he took off running down the street again, followed by his three new friends. They could hear the sounds of the dragon's wings flapping as it soared through the air behind them, catching up and swooping down for another attack.

"Dodge!" Estell called out as the dragon spat another fireball down at the group. Making them all dive to the sides to avoid being incinerated by the blast that created another small scorched crater in the paved street. When it missed the dragon flew past them and started turning to come back in for another attack.

"This way! We need to break it's line of sight!" Mendores called out as he turned and ran down another alley, the rest of the group quickly got back onto their feet and ran into the alley after him. Another loud explosion was heard and the buildings around them shook as the dragon's fireball hit the house next to them and collapsed a part of it. Followed by another terrifyingly loud roar as the dragon lost sight of them again.

The group of four ran out the other side of the alleyway, only to be greeted by an even worse sight. The dragon's roars had not gone unheard, and this city was not empty. There was hundreds of them, crawling over the buildings and down the streets. Giant spiders, the size of buses and semi trucks. And even worse, many more goblins where starting to flood out of the woodwork, busting out of houses, crawling out of alleyways, marching down the streets. With the dragon still flying behind them, it was a nightmare.

Estell's eyes widened, and her arms where trembling in fear as she looked at all the monsters approaching. "W-What do we do now?" She asked quietly.

The other three guys where speechless and frozen in fear for a moment. "We.. W-We run faster!" Mendores said quickly. The group of four backed into the alleyway again, the goblins and spiders on one side, and the dragon landing on the other side. Blocking both of the exits. The dragon took a deep breath and prepared to fill the alley with flames, with the four friends trapped inside it.

"Everyone! Up!" Zanath called out as he jumped up on top of a dumpster, then jumped off the bin, kicked off the wall and landed on the roof. Thankfully, he knew parkour or they may all have been dead right there. He leaned over the roof and held out his hands to the people below him. Kadin jumped up first, using the dumpster to boost himself high enough to and grab Zanath's hands, and was pulled up onto the roof by his friend. Then they both reached out to help the other two up. Allowing both Mendores and Estell to jump up and grab onto their hands. So Zanath and Kadin could pull them both onto the roof with them, just barely in time. They all felt the intense heat as the alley below them was engulfed in flames mere seconds after they got out of it. The four of them panting for air as they watched the flames that had nearly killed them all.

But they where far from safe, the dragon and the giant spiders started climbing up onto the roof. "Jump across to the next roof and get down on the other side!" Zanath instructed. Getting onto his feet and taking a running start, before nimbly jumping across to the next building. Kadin and Mendores followed him, also jumping across. Estell was right behind them, but she wasn't quite as good at jumping as the others, her jump came short and she missed the roof. With a shout of fear she started to fall.

"Estell!" Kadin shouted as he lunged forwards and grabbed her arms. But the added weight threw Kadin off balance, and his broken shoulder weakened him, making him start to quickly slip off the roof with Estell. Mendores and Zanath acted fast when they saw Kadin start to slide off the edge of the roof. Grabbing onto his shoulders and waist to stop him from falling, then together they pulled Kadin and Estell back onto the roof. Laying them on their backs once they where pulled to safety.

But they were not given even a moment to rest. Estell looked up from her laying position on the roof. "Look out!" She shouted quickly as she threw a sweeping kick at Mendores' and Zanath's legs. Knocking the guys to the ground right before the dragon's flames went over the four of them. Feeling the intense heat again as the flames just barely missed the two guys, thanks to Estell knocking them over. The four of them quickly got back up once the flames dispersed, singed but otherwise unharmed.

Mendores spotted a balcony on the side of the house next door to theirs, with a window leading to the second floor of the house. "Jump across and go through the window. Break it and get inside!" He called out, leading the group to run across the rooftop again and jump across to the next balcony, this time everyone made the jump.

Kadin glanced back to see the spiders and the dragon quickly gaining on them them again. "Hurry up guys! They are right behind us!" He called out.

Mendores picked up a potted plant and smashed open the window, breaking as much of the glass out of the window as he could, as quickly as he could, before hurriedly ordering "Everyone in! Go! Go!" He quickly climbed in through the window. "Watch the glass!" He added. Estell followed him into the building, then Zanath behind her, and last Kadin. It was silent for a moment, and the four of them stopped to catch their breath, all of them panting heavily. Thinking that they may be safe inside.

Until there was a sudden loud crash and the cracking of wood, as a dragon's claw broke through the wall where the window had been and grabbed Zanath. "Shit no!" Estell shouted. Both her and Mendores grew bold, the two of them charged headfirst at the dragon's claw, and together they slammed their shoulders into the dragon's wrist. Forcing the dragon to let go and allowing Zanath to quickly dive out of the way. Once Zanath was free Estell and Mendores quickly jumped back.

The dragon roared furiously as it pulled its claw back out of the building, then reared up on it's hind legs and started repeatedly slamming it's front claws into the house. Tearing chunks of the house apart and making the building start to collapse with every loud, wood shattering slam of it's claws. "Get to the basement! It should hold if the upstairs sections of the house collapse!" Mendores ordered as they all started running down the stairs.

Although as they ran down the stairs one of the dragon's claws smashed through the wall, striking Mendores and cutting deeply into his side, making him shout in pain and sending him tumbling down to the first floor. "Mendores! Are you alright!" Estell and Zanath called out.

Mendores weakly stood back up as the other three quickly rushed down the stairs to his aid. "I'm okay, get to the basement." He said urgently. Kadin quickly hooked one of Mendores' arms around his neck and helped him limp to the basement stairs. The house still shaking and collapsing as the dragon pummeled the second floor. And things weren't getting any better as suddenly the front door was kicked in by the goblins and they started pouring into the building.

Estell turned and saw the goblins entering the building. "Go to the basement! I got this!" She instructed as she picked up a wooden chair and charged the goblins, as if she was going to ram them with the chair. But right before reaching striking distance, instead of running into them she stopped and hurled the chair at them, catching the stupid goblins off guard and knocking them back. Once they where stunned and trying to get up Estell turned and ran into the basement with everyone else, almost tripping as she ran down the stairs and slammed the basement door shut behind her.

The four of them started quickly blocking the door with everything they could get their hands on. They could hear the goblins pounding on the door moments after they where all inside the basement, and the dragon tearing the house apart above them. After a few seconds, the ground shook violently and there was a very loud series of crashes. Followed by silence. The entire house collapsed and was reduced to rubble, leaving just the basement intact. Then, with one final triumphant roar, the dragon could be heard stomping away from the ruins of the house.

"We're alive!" Estellese said breathlessly as her and Kadin just collapsed onto the hard basement floor, panting and gasping for breath. "We're freaking alive! I can't believe it."

Zanath leaned back against a wall, then slid down it until he was sitting down on the floor, his knees bent up to his chest. Mendores just sat down on a washing machine they hadn't moved yet, holding his head in one hand and the deep cut on his side in his other hand. Shaking his head a little as he tried to relax and push through the sharp pain. They where all tense, and terrified after that ordeal. They all badly needed a moment to relax, and tend to their wounds.

"Welcome to Realism. We hope you like the welcoming party, because they sure as hell don't like you." Kadin remarked in a sarcastic tone, trying to add some humor into the situation. Although nobody laughed, everyone was in far too much shock to find his poor jokes funny.

Next chapter: Retracing our Steps, Day One