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Chronicals of the Unnamed, Chapter 1

Mood:awake
Type:Story
Added:September 11th 2010, 01:15:12
Visits:1397
Series:[ The Chronicals of the Unnamed ]
Rating:Not rated yet.

Description:
Chapter one of Book one(of 5/10, 2 books per one novel; Book one named The Game, Book 1 in novel one named "Expansion").

Copyright Steve Eik, somewhere between 1999-2099

Chapter 1 – The Launch



My name is Steve, Steve Smith…or at least that was my name. It was a name I stopped using along time ago, but a name I will always remember and have inside me. It’s not a name that I am particularly proud of in any way as it reminds me of a life that I’ve been trying to forget every day, but it is a part of me perhaps…more real.

My story is a long one and although I’m not sure how interesting it is in comparison to the other adventures that people had in The Game it’s a story that I feel I have to tell, a side of the story I have to let people have known.

A lot of people wondered why I did what I did, why I chose the path I chose and I always avoided the questions, the insinuations and just about anything else that was thrown at me. Now I am going to answer these questions.

But not for them, I do this more for me then for anyone else. For me to remember my life, to know myself before I die, and maybe redeem myself in the eyes of the people I care about most.



My story starts in the real world, in March 2005.



“Get over here you little shit!” My dad screamed at me, grabbing at my leg as I tried to hide under a desk. I kicked at him, pushing myself under a bit more as I screamed, my mom coming from behind him and trying to pull him away. “You don’t learn either.” He said with a snarl, his voice almost breaking through my temples.

I watched him as I always did, as he beat my mother. She cried and she screamed and she tried to get away, but he didn’t seem to give up as easily on her as he did with me. I watched for as long as I could stand, as long as I could hope he would do it before I screamed louder, begging for it to end.

He turned to me and growled, sounding more like a monster then a man as I blinked realizing how big I was under the desk before it was thrown off of me. I looked up at him and then back down at myself realizing what was happening and waking up with a shock.

I blinked again back in my room sitting up breathing hard. I looked around after a deep breath waking up and wiping some sweat off my forehead I reached over to my small dresser next to my bed where I left a cup of water and took a sip to my dry mouth.

I got out of bed walking past my dresser to the door after seeing the time, 4:41. I had slept a little later this morning, but knew there was no going back to sleep for me. Leaving the room I quickly used the bathroom; only slightly eyeing the bottles of pills in the cabinet.

As my inherent withdrawn nature became more apparent and overbearing my parents had the bright idea to try and medicate me, as if that would somehow solve my problems. I had been reluctant to start taking the pills though seeing what they’ve done to my best and only friend outside of the computer, Chris.

I shook my head, not wanting to think about that now, returning to my room and moving over to the desk across from my bed. Without missing a step or breath I turned on the monitor to the already active computer, checking up on a few things before logging into Everquest 2.

I had played video games for as long as I could remember, because for as long as I can remember I have wanted to escape. Escape what I didn’t know; it wasn’t life because I was terribly afraid of death, one of the many phobias I had brought upon myself as I grew up.

Though I suppose it wasn’t brought on by me, as my therapist says it was brought on by my surroundings, and the main cause of my father, whose real life abuse didn’t differ much from the constant nightmares.

Video games were always there though; ready to take me away to a better place. There was always a silent dignity in the games, everyone was always ready to fight for their beliefs, and I don’t know whether I envied the fighting or the fact that they had those beliefs in the first place. This wasn’t so much true in the multiplayer games like Everquest, even on specifically designed role-play servers people still act like…people.

I sighed as my stomach grumbled and I decided I should go eat, one of the many burdens of a reality I hated. “I’ll be right back. “ I said into my microphone to a friend from the game that was surprisingly on this early in our voice chat program before getting up and heading downstairs.

My house was pretty big, my mom never divorcing my dad like any sane person would do, I always wondered what her parents had done to her to cause whatever self esteem problem she had to stay with him and allow the ruining of another persons life, but always stopped at the point where I would start to blame her, which I didn’t want to do. I sighed staring at the door to my parents’ room that was in the den on the way to the kitchen. I shook my head and just grabbed some cereal and got back to the game.





The few hours I had left passed pretty quickly, as they always did when I lost myself in games. Lately I had been mostly playing massive multiplayer online games like Everquest, I think because it provided a world easier for me to immerse myself into, seeing as they all had their own actual virtual worlds, filled with thousands of other people playing.

“Time to go Steve.” My mom said knocking lightly on the door.

“Ok.” I said sighing and typing to the few people I was grouped with.

“Did you take your pill?” I sighed louder, as a more of a gesture to her as I got up and turned around shaking my head. “Why?”

“I told you I don’t want to take those drugs.” I said softly.

“You want to keep feeling like your feeling? Or get worse?” Concern filled her voice.

The way I feel no drug could help, I thought. But I said nothing of course and just shrugged, putting on my backpack and taking a sip of water before inching my way past her and downstairs. “Bye.” I yelled up before leaving, not really paying attention to anything else she was lecturing me about.

The cold sting of the morning hit me as I looked to the still dark sky. My thoughts focused heavily on my mother and her concerns for me. I totally understood them, but living in the same house as the person who caused all these problems will always stand in the way of any possible relief. Of course I could never tell her that, though I have gone over it a million times in my head on ways how to.

I waited on the corner for the bus to come, trying my best to stand as far away from the other kids as possible. I had never really had any friends, most kids seeing me as the outcast that I was and I was easy prey for bullies since I never really fought back. I did then what I was doing now and what I did whenever I was forced into this society and away from my computer, get lost in my head.

This method seemed to work well, as I did seem to have some imagination, and time always did seem to pass while I thought of circumstances and stories of my character in the games, which I always liked living more then my real life.

The bus eventually came and I got in, sitting down in the front where I always sat. “What time did you get up this morning?” My friend Chris Jenkins said as I rested my backpack on my lap. Chris was my only friend, slightly shorter then me but the same skinny build, with brown hair and eyes. He was my only friend outside of computers, and much like me didn’t have the best of lives, past or present.

His dad was arrested when he was a baby; he never really knew him or even met him. His mom was rarely home having to work two jobs to support him and his brother, who unlike us went extrovert as a result of his upbringing. Chris was on a variety of psycho-pharmaceuticals, a cocktail of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic meds…with another handful of pills he takes just for side effects.

I never really knew Chris before he was medicated, but he always came off numb and uncaring which he attributed to the meds. He never talked about it much, and I didn’t pry except for a few times when he has told me how he misses being able to feel, and even he himself had forgotten what he felt like without any meds.

“Early.” I said with a yawn, giving him a slight smile and putting my head back against the window, letting myself drift back off into my head to try and forget about the day of school I was about to endure.





It was a blur, sort of like a dream that I drifted in and out of. That was the way I liked it as I didn’t have much interest in the real world. Throughout all the experiences of my life in the real world I had decided it was no good and just not worth the trouble. Whether or not the fact I never had any particularly good experiences in the real world contributed to that determination I could never say but it was something I had come to accept by then.

Life held no interest at all, unless you include the newest ways to escape it, so of course school was not high on my list of priorities. I never really paid attention or tried but was able to get through it, and nearing the end of the senior year the thoughts of what would have to come next actually had me wishing I would have to stay there longer.

My dad had been hinting that he would want me to get a job if I didn’t go to college, which I had little interest in doing. I sighed, thinking about having to work as the bell rang ending the current class I was in. I slowly put my books away, the pages mostly empty since I paid little attention and made my way out of the room behind the joyously oblivious chattering students. Sometimes I wished I could laugh like that.

I had lunch this period, and I wondered if they had something edible today as I made my way to the cafeteria. Chris had this lunch period as well which I was glad for, my first three years in this hellhole were spent eating alone on the corner of the least populated table I could find, then sitting there sleeping with my head in my arms until the bell woke me up.

He was there waiting right inside the cafeteria as he always did, today with a magazine in his hand. I showed the guard my program card and he nodded letting me pass, and I walked up to him as we started towards the line. “Look at this.” He said giving me the magazine and pointing to an article. “It’s you’re dream.”

I looked at him confused and took the most recent Game Informer and read the article entitled ‘The Game’ as I got my lunch and sat down.



Virtual Reality, a venue that has been pursued only slightly by the gaming industry, with mostly failed attempts of sub par work or very pricey toys that only the wealthy can attempt to try out. Self-made billionaire William Banks has declared he is about to put an end to the failed attempts and offer the world the last and only game that we will ever need…The Game.

Mr. Banks, the president and CEO of Banks Gaming, one of the most popular American video game companies put out a press release on Friday saying that the game is starting to finish up beta testing, which apparently has been going on for almost five years, and hope for a July or August release.

A lot of people in the gaming industry are a bit skeptical, wondering if this is some sort of publicity stunt, as the game has been pretty much unknown until last Friday. There was little information on the actual game, all the representative said was that it would be complete virtual reality, with not just sight but taste, feel, touch…all of the five senses in a totally real living world.

Many skeptics and rivals of the company say it’s just a publicity stunt, some saying that it would be impossible to totally hide an operation like this while some question the motives behind such a move. After the uproar during the weekend from the press release Mr. Banks himself made a statement Sunday night.

“This has been a personal dream of mine to make this happen my entire life, and I needed it to be perfect without the outside influence of anyone outside of my team before going public.” He added that “I have been getting help from some of the industries best, though they are all still under contract to keep the project a secret. This isn’t about making money, though I’m sure they wouldn’t have gotten involved if I couldn’t.”

He was extremely vague in all his answers, and refused to answer any specific questions about the game, repeating the same statement as his spokesman, that it would be a fully living world that you could easily mistake for the real one.

Whether or not this is a marketing ploy or the real thing we’ll just have to wait and find out, some people have already made their minds up but we prefer to be patient. It is very possible that it is just some sort of marketing ploy, as the technology that they have referred too has never been discussed outside of fiction. But perhaps they have stumbled onto the formula and made it happen, and in four or five months we all could be exploring the uncharted territory of some amazing virtual reality game world. You never know.



“So?” Chris asked as I put the magazine down and took a bite out of my sandwich.

“So…I’ll believe it when I see it.” I said unenthusiastically.

“That’s it?” He asked taking back the magazine. “I expected you to go nuts over this.”

“Why?” I asked. “When have you ever known me to ‘go nuts?’” I asked, making the quotation gesture with my hand as I said it.

“Well true, but I can remember specifically at least three times in the past week where you’ve wished for this exact thing to happen.”

I smirked at him. “Smart ass.”

“Come on can you imagine it? A fully 3-d virtual Everquest?”

I could imagine it, I imagined it every day and in fact I was imagining it right now. The article did give me some interesting thoughts and feelings of excitement, but I lived by a code never to get excited about anything, as it usually tends to disappoint, so I suppressed it. “Yea, but like they said it could be a scam, once I see it I’ll be excited about it.”

“Fair enough.” He said flipping the pages and reading, the rest of the period spent in silence amidst the roar of a happy community.





The rest of the day was spent much like the first, with me inside my head. My thoughts centered mainly on the article Chris had shown me, and as much as I tried to resist it I couldn’t help but get excited wondering about this game. I imagined all the possibilities of actually being there totally inside a game world, what I would do…what I could do, and how they would do it.

I got home and went strait to my room, booting up my computer and taking my cup downstairs to get ice cubes. I came back up and loaded up the voice chat program and Everquest 2, a few minutes later Chris coming on.

“You know man I think I might be getting a little excited about this virtual reality game.” I said when he came in.

“You mean The Game?” A friend asked before Chris could respond.

“Yea I showed it to him at lunch.” Chris said as his character logged into our game.

“Its all anyone can talk about.” Our friend responded. “Do you think it’s for real?”

“I dunno.” I said as I read the private message coming from Chris’ character. ‘I thought you didn’t get excited about things?’

I laughed as more people chimed into the discussion about The Game. ‘I usually don’t…but like you said…it’s my dream.’ I typed back.

‘Well don’t get too obsessed with it. You want to get a group going?’

‘Yea.’ And so we went to it, playing together until his mom kicked him off at 11:30 to go to sleep. My parents had been yelling at me most of the night too but I just ignored them and continued playing, dreading going to sleep for the nightmares I was sure to have.

And that was my life…my life in the real world, but how could I possibly know that my excitement at the time was justified? How could I have known my life-and myself with it would change so much? The philosophizers would’ve told me that I should have known, that everything changes. But I’m sure even the best of them couldn’t have told me what to expect. That every adventure and dream that I’ve ever imagined would pale in comparison to the real life experience that was only 4 or 5 months away.



*** Four or Five months later***



July 30th was the date at the end of my calendar as I yawned and started my computer; taking a sip of water. The summer was already half over and it felt as if it was just starting. I had been spending most of my time on the computer playing Everquest, Chris doing the same, the two of us not really seeing a lot of each other without being forced to go to school.

My dad had gone beyond the just hinting of wanting me to get a job by now to demanding that I did, and although over the years since he’s stopped drinking the physical abuse has stopped; the mental abuse was just as sharp, and he used it the best he could. I didn’t know how that was supposed to motivate me to do what he wanted, but of course I never argued with his logic.

My mom who was usually calmer about things and the “good cop” so to speak was even getting fed up with me. I still refused to take the pills despite being taken to therapy now weekly, and my “inability to want to get better” was wearing her out. If I didn’t even want to try to get better, then I had to work. Again I didn’t understand her logic, if I don’t want to get better how is it even possible to bring yourself to even think about work? But again I never discussed my thoughts with her.

I didn’t want to get a job, but I didn’t want to get thrown out either. I didn’t know if they would actually do that but the threats have been getting more and more frequent, and I didn’t want to take the chance. I had planned to just try and delay it for as long as I could, perhaps getting an after school job next year.

I glanced away from the screen hearing the phone ring, and looked oddly at the caller ID. It was Chris. I turned back to the computer to ask him what he was doing to see ‘ANSWER THE PHONE!!’ sent to me. I sighed picking it up. “Yea?”

“Turn on channel 5 quick!”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it!” He urged. I shook my head grabbing my remote and turned on the TV which sat on the same large desk that my monitor sat on. “You watching?”

“Yea.” I said, turning mute off.

“…a total virtual world; and today for the first time ever, we bring you the trailer for this revolutionary game as well as the webpage to learn more information, as it goes live right now.”

“What is this?”

“The game.” He said, “Watch.” The click of the phone was next.

I hadn’t actually thought much about The Game in the past months, the stories dieing out after no more news was heard at the end of April. I had to think for a bit to realize what he was talking about, learning it actually from the TV and not my memory. I could hear others in the voice chat program screaming about it as I removed my headphones and watched.

The screen went black and came too in a lush forest. It seemed to have a sort of extra glow, almost like CGI over the real world, like the best computer animated graphics beyond the likes of which I had ever seen. Everything looked crystal clear and completely real, a stream of water flowing past us, shining back rays of the sun that made their way through the trees.

The camera then panned down further, at a body and arms that rose and moved around. At the bottom of the screen the words ‘Actual live footage of The Game’ as the camera which I now realized was the first person perspective of a character turned around and looked ahead, running to the end of the forest and out into a large field.

My heart was in my throat, beating faster then I can ever remember as I heard the sound of his sword being taken out and watched as the wind blew the tall grass besides the feet of some monster that he was running towards.

I could guess from my years of fantasy gaming that it was an orc, it was about a foot shorter then the character, but almost totally muscle. Its skin was a pale yellow, and it screamed in a language not recognizable by me, grabbing a hatchet and throwing it at the camera.

I watched in awe as it got closer to the character and watched the camera move back a step and swirl around, the character’s sword flying up as he twirled around the camera doing a full 360 degree spin before centering quickly on the floor to show him steadying himself with his knee and sword sticking into the ground before quickly shooting up and towards the orc, who now took out a large battle axe.

The orc began swinging first and the character swerved quickly out of the way to the right of the creature, quickly turning around and jabbing at it. This caused nothing but a laugh as it pushed the strike away with the handle of the axe as we could get a glimpse of it beginning to raise the weapon above its head for another blow before the camera was spun around again, the character using the force of the block to twirl him around; the sword slicing through the thing’s stomach while the axe was still above it’s head.

To my amazement the sword went right through, slicing in a good amount of the blade into its belly, but no blood was seen. It made a slight tear in almost the fabric of the being of the orc, and like a zipper closed right up, like his body was made of sand. The orc cried out in pain stepping back as the camera steadied itself and went at it again, swinging down fully with two hands on his sword cutting right through the thing’s chest in the same manner.

This time the orc fell to the ground lifeless, the body looking completely untouched as the character bent down to pick up a small piece of paper that had materialized onto the chest of the beast.

Now the camera was looking up at a beautiful sun and spanned down to a huge city full of people walking around. The camera started to move, showing off some of the statues and buildings of the city, before it changed yet again to watching two people fighting each other. The words ‘Actual footage of The Game’ again flashed a few times as the fight became larger and it showed fist fighting in first person.

Again it switched, to the top of a horse that was speeding through the forest on a poorly made path. Again it switched to following a group of people in a dark cavern like dungeon into a big open area were a huge dragon awaited, opening its wings and breathing fire. And then again the screen went black. Against the black backdrop appeared five words: ‘Don’t play it, live it.’

The program went back to its anchor who sat next to another man. “Amazing, we have with us William Banks, the man who created The Game and is here to tell you more about it.”

The camera moved in and focused on Mr. Banks, who appeared very confident, with blonde hair and blue eyes. “You’ve just seen just some of the footage taken directly from the beta testing of the game that has been going on close to five years.” He said finally. “They where not exaggerations at all, in fact what you saw was only 1/5th of experiencing it. For what you saw, they felt, smelt, heard, and experienced it first hand, just as real as I am experiencing this and you are watching this show.

The Game is a project I’ve been working on officially for about seven years, but in all reality been working for all my life. Using breakthrough and completely safe technology you can be completely immersed inside The Game, walking, talking, fighting, anything that you want.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt you but how is this possible?” The anchor broke in.

“It is pretty complicated.” William said rubbing the back of his head. “Most of the technical details are located on our website which we are about to open in the coming minutes. This is to help calm the nerves of would be critics that would say that we are doing something dangerous or immoral.

In its simplest term we are actually implanting the game inside your brain, and harnessing its power in order to allow for the virtual reality environment. Again though this is completely safe, and no one has to have any ports installed into their heads or anything.” He said with a slight laugh.

The anchor laughed with him, adding a smile. “After your press release a few months back you mentioned that this wasn’t about making money which a lot of people didn’t take seriously. How is it you’re going to handle it? With the way you describe it, it sounds like a pricey piece of equipment. How much will it cost?”

“Well that’s the tricky part. We’re not actually selling anything per say, as you would have to come in to get into the game.”

“Come in where?”

“We’re starting to set up some sites where we will operate from, depending on how popular it becomes, and again it’s hard to explain but you can’t just wake up and flip a switch or something, you actually do leave this world when you enter The Game. Because of the liability of that, people could go into the game and never come out not feeling hunger and starve to death, and the equipment needed which would be too expensive and complicated for most we are setting up these sites to house the people in The Game.”

“You make it sound so…appealing.” The anchor said lightheartedly. “So how much is it to stay in one of these sites?”

“At first only a fifty dollar startup fee. After that you can stay inside The Game as long or as short as you want to. You can come and go as you please and can decide whether or not to stay in The Game permanently.”

The anchor’s eyes rose. “Permanently?”

William nodded. “Yes, those who wish to stay in The Game permanently would then sign over their possessions in this world to us.”

“Wait a second…you expect people to sign over everything they own to live in a game?”

William raised his hands in defense. “I know it sounds bad but yes they already have. A lot of our beta members have already decided to stay there for their entire lives, as hard as it may be to admit, sometimes earth can be pretty hard.” He said softly, as if speaking to me.

“If the participant ever does decide to go back on his decision and come out of the Game, we will return all of their possessions, or if land was sold or otherwise used they will be paid for it in full. This is a requirement we have worked out with the government directly, for those afraid we might be trying to scam.”

“The government is involved?”

William nodded. “It was required for a lot of the things we were planning to do, and some arrangements have also been made to help fund it were sites will replace prisons and-.”

“So prisoners will be playing The Game too?”

“Not the same game.” William said. “They will be in the same program but will not be able to contact anyone there by their own will. It will be a place made just for them, and will be set up much like a prison but will still follow most of the basic rules of the game.”

“And you think people will be behind this? Punishing people by sending them to play a game?”

“Possibly.” William said rubbing his chin. “But it is by far the most agreed upon better route for them. They no longer can hurt each other or anyone trying to control them, as they will need no one to control them. They will not be playing the game as their world will be much different then the one you would enter to as players, and even their race will be different.

Their world will be a dark jail like place, and we will be using some methods that have been used with the beta testing to make their time seem like a lot more than it actually is to make use of some rehabilitation programs for those who can be released.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well again it’s very complicated and isn’t even involved really into The Game, but it is based on the old theory that rehabilitation will eventually come with time, and with the prison population of the game we will use certain techniques to make their time in the game seem a lot longer. Basically one year for anyone out here or in the normal game will seem like ten to them, and their world will act accordingly, again this is explained in full detail on our website for purposes discussed before about people with doubts of what we are doing.”

“It isn’t hurting them?”

William shook his head. “Not at all.”

“Well I have a hundred questions, but we are out of time. What do you say we start up that web page?”

William nodded smiling. “The web page will not only include all the technical details and how to join in your area but also all the mechanics of the game and what to expect when trying to decide if The Game is right for you.” My eyes almost bled as I kept them open waiting for them to say it, and as it flashed at the bottom of the screen I spun around opening my web browser and typing it in, the page loading incredibly slow as I imagined half the country doing the same thing.

The phone rang again almost instantly after the credits started and I answered it seeing it was Chris. The quick glances I gave to Everquest and the sounds of the talking that started up through my earphones showed me that everyone else seemed to be having the same reaction as us. “Oh my God.” Was all he could say after I answered.

“I know.”

“Are you going to the web site?”

“Of course.” I said taking a drink of water to my dry mouth.

“Are you excited?”

“Oh yea…are you?”

The phone was silent for a moment. “Yeah.” Came the response finally. I shrugged it off as the page finally gave me a splash screen that loaded with a question similar to that of The Matrix, and almost had me wondering if I had the website wrong.

Two pills were on opposite sides of the screen with a question in big letters asking whether I wanted to take the red pill or the blue pill. “You see this?” I asked confused.

“Yea…the red pill takes you to AOL.”

I made a face at that and clicked on the blue pill, the one at least in the movie symbolized staying in the machine. I watched as a small silver box appeared in a flash animation and opened up in different parts getting bigger and bigger revealing the web page, pieces of it flying off and to the side and becoming links and a main page sort of showing in the center with a short message.



The Game is here. A fully interactive virtual world unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Whether you have heard about us or this is the first you’ve heard about The Game, this website will tell you everything you need to know about it and whether or not it is for you.

This site will be updated regularly in the coming days and weeks with all the information available about The Game and its features, as well as places where you can sign up to enter it.



There were only four links on the side, and I clicked the first one, Introduction to The Game. A few side links dropped down under the initial one, History, Legend, NPCs, You. I clicked on History and it flew from the side growing and replaced the main page, another short few paragraphs displayed.



The Game’s history in the real world began as a child. I had always wondered of the possibilities of virtual reality, and a game where you actually were the character. As technology advanced and my company grew I put more and more effort into developing an actual way to get it done.

In 1999 that way finally became realized and thanks in part to some of the brightest minds alive today, The Game could become a reality. With the help of some of the best in the industry, after a year of initial development the game started testing in the middle of 2000, official beta starting early 2001, and by the end of 2002 we had over 1,000 people living inside The Game.

This was only the beginning of development, as we continued to build and test things, determined to make sure it was absolutely perfect before release. Of the 5,360 total beta testers we had by the end of beta, only 500 of them chose to leave.



Then to Legend, where the same animation took place but included with the text was a picture. A map of three continents came up, two shaped and close together; the top one almost an opposite of North America connecting with a skinny part to the top of the middle continent, which was skinny at the top that included a chain of islands connecting the two and curved up around the middle to a sort of tear drop shape for the entire continent.



The third and lowest continent on the map was circular shaped, but what looked like jagged mountains surrounding it’s entire outer shell. The continent looked mostly barren and destroyed and black, with the center a huge crater apparent.



The legend of the game, the history of the in game world, is in the world of Desex. Humans came to be and populate the upper continent of Ly, and have created their own religions and lifestyles. Unbeknownst to them on the lower continent of Drandel a massive population of Orcs was rising.

Most of the history books of Lydoria, the longest lasting and main kingdom of Ly, the Orcs came to this world in a comet from a distant planet. They weren’t thought of much as most of the human population were happy staying on their continent, and assumed the orcs would cause no trouble.

But as humans do, fights broke out and rose to uprisings. A faction broke out from the rule of Lydoria and everything they stood for. Labeled evil these members were chased to the edges of the continent, eventually building a small civilization on the upper portion of the middle continent of Syllembia.

War broke out between the two factions, as the orc population that had risen and grown to include most of Syllembia attacked the humans living there. They in turn in a surprise move traveled to Ly and attacked the kingdom of Lydoria which was on their way to attack the city at the bottom of the continent.

The opposing faction were wiped out fast, their forces separated at the time and when the orcs who had destroyed their villages on Syllembia made it across and coupled with the orcs who had just defeated Lydoria’s armies, the humans stood no chance.

Most knew almost nothing of these orcs, who only seemed to want to kill and destroy. They spoke their own language, and any attempts and peace were quickly proven hopeless. They were great in number, and Lydoria was soon in a war unlike any they have previously had with themselves.

The orcs were ruthless and took control of most of the lower half of Ly, strict city limits being put in effect for women and children while more and more soldiers were needed to fight the endless supply of orcs that continued to come every day.

It is not a good time for the continent of Ly, and few of the citizens have much hope for the future of the human race either. Perhaps that is where you come in?



NPCs was the next one I picked, again a picture of a few people in the same graphics as the commercial, almost too real to be considered real. “Dude.” Was all I managed to say suddenly remembering I was still on the phone as it loaded.

“I know.” Was the response.



NPCs or Non Player Characters of The Game are actually a form of Artificial Intelligence. They are constructed each with their own individual personality and feelings and have had their own lives in The Game with their own histories and religions.

Some would consider this technology dangerous, but the artificial intelligences are only inside the game world, they have no idea that there is a world outside of The Game, and don’t consider themselves as artificial intelligence but actual intelligence, and within The Game, they are actual human beings.

Most of the beta world was filled with only NPCs, and upon entering the game you will notice a lot more of them then actual players. They have their own lives, and they keep the city you will live in alive and working.

NPCs will work on a different scale then players, in certain instances as in guards of the national boundaries that hold off orcs, as well as certain knights. For the purposes of the story, and to assure that the city is never overrun by Orcs, who respawn these guards and knights will respawn as well.

This is actually giving some NPCs certain player characteristics, as making individuals for the sole purpose of dieing over and over again didn’t seem like the right thing to do. The NPCs who respawn (which will hopefully change over time once players become the dominant force in The Game and they are less needed) also have their own personality, thoughts and feelings, with probably family back in the city or towns like every other guard or knight. Just upon dieing they will respawn at certain respawn points, the same as a player character, with a portion of their memories erased.

To do this required certain techniques onto the AI and its memory during death and respawn as to not cause suspicion of his reality. More detailed information on that is found in the technical part of the site.



“Jesus AI?” I murmured.

“You read too fast.” Chris complained.

“Sorry.” I said. “Listen I’ll talk to you online or on the phone after I finish reading all this.”

“Ok.” He said hanging up as I clicked on the final sub link, you.



Every player will enter The Game at age 17, and will be restricted inside the city of Lydel for one year when they become ‘adult’ or until they reach level 50 and pick their starting class. You will be human; there is no other playable race at this current time.

You will go through a very detailed character creation process which will allow your character to become completely unique in the game world. You can look as you look now, or something totally different.

Between age 17 and 18 you will go from different “models” where one you are an young adult, and when you go to adult you look like an adult, it is a sort of automatic switch, and as of right now we do not plan on adding any older looking models, once you change to your adult look you will keep that look for as long as you play that character.

You can choose to allow the look to automatically be made by process of determination of what you look like in your young adult model, an example being if you wanted to look as you look in real life, entered the game at 25, you would look like you did at 17-19 for a year, then strait to 23-25. You can also make your adult look however you want to yourself, totally changing your looks as a young adult if you wish.

You come to the city of Lydel in one of two ways. You can choose to be born there, in which you can choose to have NPC parents and spend your year as a young adult learning from them, or you can choose to be born outside of it. This can include other small villages or in the opposing faction. You have found your way there, or have been found and taken there during the escalating war for safety, and without parents learn by yourself or with the help of some of the free schools put in place to train potential guards.

If you are entering the game with family, you can become siblings, but parents must be NPC. If you are entering the game with friends, then you can be friends in the game as well, but we will not make you family if you are not actually related.



The more I read it the more excited I got, and the more questions I had. I still wondered in the back of my head if this was for real or just some sort of scam moving my mouse to the 2nd main link, ‘Live it’. Again a few sub links formed underneath, this time they were Interaction, Class and Skill, Monsters and Battle, Life in The Game.



I went for Interaction, working my way again from the bottom to the top, this time the black background being replaced by a scene of nature that was again in the same ultra real graphics. It was the same field from the TV, the grass actually waving with the wind as the text appeared in dark silver letters, surprisingly easy to read.



Interaction within The Game with the world and everything in it is exactly like interaction with the real world. Sight, smell, sound, taste and touch, all five of your senses will be fully aware and perhaps even more enhanced to everything in The Game.

Pain and death are the only things different between real life and the game. Those who are familiar with these games will recognize the concept of HP, or Hit Points or in the case of The Game, Health Points. HP is different in The Game then most others as most classes will have very low HP, and staying alive in battle will greatly depend on a good suit of armor with a lot of AP, or Armor Points, as well as skills in battle to dodge deflect and parry attacks. If your HP is depleted, which can be by one good blow to a sensitive area, you die. IE a scratch by a dagger to your thigh will barley take any HP away, while a stab to the neck will probably kill all but those with very high HP.

There is no pain or traditional wounds. There is a confirmation, whereas you will know if you’ve been scratched on the thigh or stabbed in the neck, but there will be no pain associated with those actions. It will just be another sensation, neither pleasant nor painful. Beta testers have described it as a detached association to the body of a feeling they could never describe.

Death in the same way is much different then that of real life. It is indeed impossible to truly die in the game without leaving it forever. Once your HP has run out your character will fall to the ground dead, upon which you will “respawn” back at an area that is choose-able and changeable at any time by you. These will be specific places found at certain high density locations like city and town entrances, dungeons, outposts and the like. Again there is no pain involved, beta testers describing the process as falling suddenly asleep, and having a dream change from one place to another before awakening, some even practicing the process of delaying the respawn, staying in a sort of detached position inside their body as they watch what continues to go on around them, which may be a secret to finding a way to practice resurrection to avoid respawning when far away or in the middle of an adventure!

Every player will have a console, a sort of super computer attached to their right or left arm. This will be basically a 3-d screen and keyboard that you can will to come out whenever you choose to by thought alone, and either typed in or directed in thought to the many aspects of The Game, most importantly for the new player, the guide. This will tell you in depth information about every aspect of the game.

You can also use the console for communication with friends, two earpieces able to be taken from the console and set up for group or private chat. This system will eventually be upgraded for guild chat as well in the near future. You can also private message friends through the console with the keyboard by either typing or thinking. The console’s possibilities are endless, and the few features it has now will be added to continually over the process of The Game’s evolution.

The skills you will learn which are talked about more in the next section will be given to you by The Game, which is discussed in great detail in the technical section. You will learn them in two senses, one you will gain this knowledge from The Game instantly upon getting it. In some cases you will go from your current abilities with say a long sword, to instantly being able to fight adeptly at it. You will then be able to learn more and unique styles of fighting with the long sword, by gaining experience with actual experience, and not just a number.



I was just about ready to sign myself up to be plugged in, and continued reading the Class and Skills section, which was back to the black background.



Everyone will start at level 1 as a commoner class. This class comes with the Common skill, which will give you basic movement skills, jumping skills as well as evasion skills and language skills as the level increases.

Skills as previously mentioned are learned from The Game to become second nature when attaining them. With all skills upon leveling come sub-skills, which cannot be leveled individually but all combine to make the certain level of the certain skill. A low sub skill for the Common skill for example is the back flip, which is gained at level 3 for Common. In this example upon gaining level 3 you will instantly be able to perform a back flip, although it may not be perfect. Upon leveling the Common skill more, and upon practicing the back flip, which will gain experience for Common, you can hone the skill more, being able to perform it more perfect and precise and effortlessly, eventually even combining it with such sub skills as wall jumping or fighting moves.

These sub skills are more noticeable with skills that have no specific place with themselves. Such as Common or Magic skills as opposed to fighting skills like swordsmanship or hand to hand combat, where sub skills are much rarer and tend to be considered just another advancement in style, like Swordsmanship’s level 37 sub skill Spin, which allows the person a short subhuman boost of speed for a quick whirlwind 360 degree slash around himself.

Classes in this respect are not definitive. Upon going from a Commoner to your choice of Class at level 50, you can become either a Fighter or a Magic User. Again upon level 99 you will again branch out to another class, and so on and so forth, each class gaining a new skill to your unique character. No class is a label for anything, and no skills are performed exactly the same by any two people, unless of course intense practice is taken with another person for synchronicity.

This isn’t to say you have to level up. That is only one of the many things you can do, and there are a whole separate line of classes for people who don’t want to take the adventure route, and want to just live out a normal Ly life. These Sub-Classes can be taken by anyone at any time, and while some are easy and require little work, a lot can only really be advanced in with a lot of experience and work put into it, and for that to be possible you have the option to make them main classes, with fighting classes as sub-classes. This allows for just as a meaningful and rewarding experience even for those who aren’t the adventuring type, many taking up many of these Classes as main, mastering many trades.

Then again you don’t have to do that either, you can simply get a job for an NPC or eventually a player who may come to own establishments. You can make a wage and live comfortably with friends and just relax all day at the tavern drinking ale. Alcoholic beverages have the same effect as they do in the real world with two noticeable exceptions, one…no damage to the brain, as it is technically only an emulation of the effects there is no side effects or damage to any part of the body by drinking, and two there are no hangovers. There have also been reports of some species of plants providing altered states, but they aren’t condoned by the kingdom of Lydoria.

And then again, you can do all three, or whichever combination you desire. You’re experience in The Game will be totally up to you, and you can always go back and pick a different path, though any experience you’ve gained cannot be recovered, so it is recommended you be sure about which Classes you pick, more so in the adventure route then the city-man.

There are two forms of leveling up, one main Class level, which will determine your main HP, as well as your stats. Each level you will be able to raise one stat, becoming more strong, intelligent, agile, tough, smart and charismatic. Each of these stats will play direct roles in how well you perform your skills, certain sub skills requiring high strength or dexterity. It is again highly recommended you keep in mind your class choices and what stats are most important before spending too many points.

There is no max level, upon reaching level 100 you are given a bronze star, which symbolizes the 100 levels, and begin the climb again to level 100 starting at level 1. Upon reaching 10 bronze stars you are given a silver star. These will show up in your console as actual star icons for each one you attain, next to your level. Once you get to 10 silver stars, you are given a gold star. So for example, 2 gold 4 silver 7 bronze level 34 would in all actuality be level 24,734. There are plans for eventually adding platinum star, but is not needed yet as no one in beta has yet to get a silver star.



Next was monsters and battle.



The main force of monsters you will find yourself hearing about are the Orcs, though you probably won’t be fighting them for quite some time, but they are not the only monsters you fill find in the world. There have been reports of Goblin like creatures appearing and some say they are the evolutionary mistake between humans and orcs. Goblins are a lot weaker when compared to orcs and a lot sneakier, finding their ways through barricades and guard posts.

Monsters are mainly found in dungeons, found mostly outside the city limits though there are a few within. Skeletons and zombies rise from the grave with the help of magic, necromancers taking home in many places, where as some cemeteries are avoided by most due to misplaced magical energy.

Humans aren’t the only beings that have evolved on Ly, Cyclopes, Trolls and Ettins are seen among the southern planes, and mutations are staring to occur the place where the orcs first landed, spreading to where they ambushed and destroyed the rebellion of Lydoria, making the southern portion of the continent as black and dead as their own. Giant spiders and snakes have been reported, with other animals like wolves and bears actively going after humans, as if they picked up the hatred of them from the Orcs. These of course are the only known monsters of Ly, there may be more, especially on the other continents and surrounding islands.

Monsters and animals aren’t the only things you’ll need to worry about, for some humans still refuse to accept unity against the war and hide up at different parts of the continent. These former members of the revolt who have survived now live in the wild and attack most any citizen of the Lydorian Kingdom. Most are thieves and just trying to stay alive, while some can be quite skillful and plan attacks on towns.

All monsters have their own AI as well as NPCs, though generally greatly different in regards to intellect and ideals and purpose. Orc in particular are a peculiar psyche that human beings of Ly have been trying to figure out for years. Most monsters found in the wild will not wear armor, with the acceptation of some orcs, and most have considerably more endurance and HP then humans.

Battle combines the skills that The Game gives you with your own personal take on them. While the game may teach you how to fist fight like a martial arts expert or to swordfight like a knight of old, they are still only the base of your application of it. Once you know the skills and are able to do these things, you will make your own style and fight accordingly.

Fighting is just as fighting would be in real life, without pain or death. With the addition of the skills you gain you will be amazed at the things you are able to do, and what a rush it is to take down a huge towering ettin, with some reports of people even seeing dragons.



Finally I clicked on Life in The Game.



Life in the game may be difficult to get used to for some, but with the help of the guide as well as NPCs we hope to make it an easy transition. There are so many things to learn and consider, beyond just the class and skill system. The world of Desex is vast and mostly undiscovered, who knows how many other continents are out there beyond the few islands found around the three known continents.

Ly has its own currency and economy and the NPCs will keep up their lives much in the same way with or without you. What your life is going to be like is the question. Limitless possibilities are ahead of you in The Game, do you wish to become a famous hero, or a respected craftsman, will you be a thief or a guard? The choice is yours, and the skills will be yours as well to make your dreams a reality.



I skimmed the technological link, most of the subsections on the actual brain activity and specific frequencies of light and sound that they used to induce you into the state to enter the game. They also went into great detail about their synthetic nerve type agent that is injected and connects to the end of a nerve ending in your body that will allow the game to connect to your spinal column and brain which allows towards basically connecting to the game and learning it’s skills in that world.

Most of it was extremely complicated, and besides the basics I couldn’t understand any of it. Quite frankly I couldn’t concentrate on it enough with thoughts of the actual game running through my head so I went to the last link, which by now I was most interested in; Enter The Game.

“What are you still doing up?” My dad said passing my room, distracting me for a moment as I sighed and turned around.

“Just reading.”

“I’m sure; you’re playing that fucking game still. I thought I told you to get a job?” He actually made the effort to make it sound like a question a midst the anger.

“I’m not playing anything, look.” I said moving back away from the screen, pretty positive he couldn’t make out the Everquest 2 writing in the taskbar.

“Well what about the job?” He demanded. “That doesn’t look like a job search going on there.”

“I don’t really want a job; I thought we were waiting until September?”

“Bullshit!” He yelled, his voice rising as my mom came up the stairs.

“Calm down.” She said. “But we aren’t waiting until September Steve. You have to get a job, or find another place to live.”

I nodded as they turned away and went back downstairs. “And go to sleep!” My dad yelled back. I shut my door and went right back to the computer, little did they know I just might have found that other place.





The next day I went to Chris’ house, who was watching the TV as a news broadcast was interviewing someone, who didn’t look much older then us. “He’s a beta tester.” Chris said as I walked through his living room and sat down on his couch next to his brother Duncan.

Duncan looked a lot like Chris, just with more hair. His brown hair was grown long and he usually had a bit of stubble. He was about my high, maybe an inch or two taller. He nodded to me as I sat down and I turned my attention to the TV.

“I’m here with Peter who was one of the thousands of beta testers to actually play The Game. Now the first question of course was what was it like? Is this for real?”

“They’ve been having these people on all day.” Chris explained. “And all of them say the same thing, that it’s for real.”

“Oh it’s real all right.” Peter was saying on the show. “It’s as real as this television studio.”

“It said on the website that they are buying out the old theater for a site in town.” I said. After my little fight with my parents I had found out that at the moment there wasn’t a site, but from pre-signed signups there were enough people to warrant one being made here. This was good as I don’t think I would have liked the idea of having to go to a different city or even state. “In a week or two, we could go into The Game.”

“Whoa, whoa.” Duncan said getting up and raising his hands. “You two are actually thinking about going into this science project waiting to explode?”

Chris’ head lowered and he kind of shrugged but I spoke up. “Hell yea, if this thing is for real and has been going on for so long then it has already been proven it won’t explode. And even beyond that the things it is offering are worth a little risk.”

“Bullshit.” Duncan said. “That thing is an accident waiting to happen, and I want no part of it.”

“Well fine, you don’t have to go. We aren’t even talking to you. I’m still going.” I said, somewhat surprised at my directness.

In all of our time in our reality I could never realize why Duncan was always hanging out with us, when we did hang out in person. He had plenty of friends, and wasn’t into any of the things we were. As I said before he went with a more extroverted path, lashing out at authority, doing drugs, random petty crime… he had been arrested a few times but never sent to prison. It was the main reason for his mom wanting to medicate Chris.

“What about you?” Duncan said turning to Chris.

“I don’t know…” Chris said softly.

“What do you mean? I thought you were the one all excited about it?” I asked.

“Well I guess I still didn’t believe it was actually real.” Chris said. “It is kinda scary if you think about it.”

I sighed rubbing my temples. “Well I want to do it.”

“And I think you’re fucking crazy.” Duncan said with a smirk as he walked upstairs.

“Is this just cause of him?” I asked after Duncan had left.

“I don’t know.” He said with a shrug.

“You could always just come back out if you don’t like it.”

“I know.”

Silence filled the room as I went back to watching the TV show. “…the fighting is amazing; mostly because you don’t really think you can do all these amazing things that you have the ability to do in The Game.” Peter was saying.

The anchor was shaking his head in disbelief. “Well perhaps the most interesting question I have then for you is, why did you leave? You were given a choice correct?”

Chris’ attention turned to the TV as Peter thought deeply. “My family was pretty against me volunteering for this…and as much as I loved it in there; I had to set things right with them. I will probably return as a regular player in the future.”

“See.” I said. “That guy was in there for three years and he’s fine.” He just sighed. “Come on you can’t tell me your not excited about this, even I was and I’m not excited by anything.”

“It’s your dream.” He said.

“Well yea, but isn’t it in a way yours too? You play just as much online as me.”

“I don’t know…” he said again more firmly. “I really have to think about it.”

I just nodded to him, willing to give him his time. I myself couldn’t wait to get in, to experience this first hand, to explore the world of The Game and become the adventurer I always imagined myself when thinking of my game characters. Now I had the opportunity to actually become him.
















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Unnamed Guy


show details Jul 29


Chapter 2 – Enter The Game



The website was updated a great deal within the next few days with more in depth information that would for a normal game be included in some sort of strategy guide. But for this revolution everything was available. From skills and classes for the first 100 levels, to maps of Lydel and the surrounding environments to actual feeds of current players inside The Game; we couldn’t even think to ask for more.

Each day I was getting more and more excited about it, and with each news story and feature added to the site I was able to realize it was actually happening. Chris had kept pretty much the same attitude, where he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to do it or not, which I still believed had something to do with his brother thinking it was a bad idea, but I hoped he would come around by the time they set it up.

And that day was quickly approaching, according to the website the site would be ready by Friday and accepting signups into The Game. I couldn’t wait; though another side of me in all actuality was pretty scared-or at least wondering if I should be scared.

“You’re doing what?” My dad yelled after I had told him my plans.

I sighed looking to the floor. “You haven’t seen the news?”

I knew the answer to that already before I even finished asking. He rarely watched TV, not even the news. “Of course not and this is exactly why.” His voice shook as he began pacing back and forth until my mom came downstairs.

“What’s happening now?”

“He wants to move into the abandoned theater-.”

“It’s not abandoned it was bought.” I interrupted, almost instantly regretting it as he turned around and glared at me. “Sorry.” I said softly.

“He wants to move into the abandoned theater to live in a fucking game.” My dad finished.

“Not this game thing I’ve been hearing about?” She asked with a frown. I just nodded. “Absolutely not.” She declared.

I stayed quiet as my dad went off again. “You are supposed to get a job Steven, not find some other stupid fantasies about some bullshit game. You’re about to be eighteen for Christ’s sake.”

“Yea.” I said, quickly trying to think of something to follow it as they stared at me. “And that means it’s my choice.” I said finally. “I won’t be living under your roof so you can’t tell me if I can do it or not.”

My dad was stunned as this, probably almost as much as I was. But it was true and I had decided to do it already, and I wasn’t going to let him stop me this time. “Well you live under it now, and I don’t think you’ll be signing up for any fake scam if you’re locked up in a mental institution.”

“For what?”

“For thinking you can go live in a fucking game!” He screamed. My mom held his arm to try and calm him down but he quickly pulled away. “Do you realize how crazy that sounds?”

“Well its for real dad, just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t mean it’s crazy.” I turned and walked out the front door before he could start yelling again. I had made up my mind and there wasn’t anything they could say to change it.

He was screaming for me to come back, and for a moment I was afraid he would start chasing me to actually try and have me committed, but he didn’t and I made it down the block and his yells were soon lost to me as I made my way to Chris’ house.

He opened the door with a smile and a nod and let me in; I held back a sigh seeing Duncan sitting on the couch watching TV shaking his head. “This thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” He said.

“Maybe because it’s actually real.” I once again surprised myself with my retort before sitting on the chair next to the couch and glancing at another news show interviewing someone. “Do they know how many people are signed up and inside?”

“Last we heard it was about 7,500. Not sure if that’s counting the people who stayed from beta though.” Chris said sitting down on the couch next to Duncan.

“Have you come any closer to making a decision?”

Chris shrugged as Duncan spoke up. “I’m actually starting to think it might be a good idea.”

I was surprised at this, and apparently so was Chris. “What?” We both exclaimed in unison.

“I want to join it.” Duncan said getting up and going into the kitchen.

“Wait a second.” I got up following him, not intending to let it go that easily. “You were almost as against this as my dad, why the sudden change of heart?”

“It’s real.” He said with a shrug. “And it does sound like it would be pretty cool.”

I looked at him oddly as he put away a bottle of soda and walked past me back into the living room. “I don’t get you sometimes.” I said finally returning to my chair.

“You don’t need to.” He said smugly taking out a cigarette and offering. The two of us shook our heads as I turned back to Chris.

“So does that mean you’re coming too?” I asked hopefully.

Chris just shrugged again getting up and walking to the computer in the corner of the room. “It would definitely be interesting.”

“Oh come on.” I said getting up and standing behind him. “It’ll be a lot better then just interesting and you know it.”

“Maybe.” He said. “But I doubt our mom will be much more receptive to it then your parents.”

I sighed. “Yea and I don’t really want to wait till I turn eighteen to go in.”

“Well I can fix that.” Duncan said, his feet resting up on the coffee table.

“How so?” I asked reading a forum post that Chris was looking at entitled ‘Philosophy of the game. Have they proven the existence of a soul?’ “What is that?” I whispered.

“A pretty heated debate brought on by the way your conscious mind is put into the game.” Chris said as Duncan walked up and patted me on the back hard. I jumped slightly at this turning to him as he smiled at me blowing some smoke in my face.

“Fake ID.”

I waved him away with a nod. “Maybe.” I offered softly.

“Whatever.” He said with a shrug going upstairs as I turned back to the computer.

Chris had been interested in philosophy for awhile now, as well as the many religions of the world, though I’m pretty sure he never truly believed any of it. “You know how they use the lights and sounds to apparently put you in a receptive state?”

I nodded. “Well the popular theory is that this is just another form of an out of body experience, that they have somehow found the right combination of sounds and light to put you into a highly meditative state to somehow cause a permanent-or at least controlled for however long you choose out of body experience, focused and centered in The Game.”

“Ok.” I said, trying to follow.

“Well that means that there could be something inside you coming out to connect to the game, and a lot of religious people are calling it the soul.”

“Makes sense.”

“Some are even sure that we could be in the game world with just the light and sound technique they use without having to be hooked up to the synapse, which is just what they have to do to have everyone’s out of body experience connect in one game world, though most consider it required for the feelings to be sent to the brain, which of course is bringing up another debate of whether or not these feelings will transfer over to the “soul” when we are somewhat out of our bodies.”

“Well I see why you chose the word interesting then.” I said moving back to the couch, not really interested in that sort of thinking at the time and more focused on the actual experience of The Game. “You think Duncan is serious about the fake id?”

“Probably.” Chris said still deeply involved in his reading. “He knows those kinds of people. Why don’t we just wait the month though?”

“Because I don’t want to wait the month.” Determination filled my voice for the first time as I got up and began walking to the stairs. I was finally excited about something in this life; albeit another way to totally escape it, but I still counted it. “I’m gunna ask him.”

“Ok.” Chris said still lost in his reading as I went upstairs to Duncan’s room.

He was sitting at his desk on his computer listening to music and surprisingly reading The Game’s official site. I tapped him on the back as I sat down on his bed next to the desk. He turned around taking off his headphones and grinned at me. “What up?”

“About the fake id…”

“I can get it for you for pretty cheap, though where we’re going I guess we don’t really need to worry about money anymore huh.” He said with a chuckle.

“Yea…” I said uneasily, still somewhat confused by his sudden change of heart. “Anyway, we won’t get into any trouble or anything right?”

“Nah, I can give my friend a call and have him come over, quick picture and he’ll have it made by tomorrow, or Friday.”

“Great so then we can go in The Game on Friday.” This was more an affirmation to myself then an answer to him.

“Is the site going to be ready by then?”

“Says so.”

He clicked his mouse a few times. “Huh, well you sure are in a rush aren’t you?”

I got up leaning in a little closer. “If I could I’d be in there already.” I whispered with an excited smile.

“So you want me to call him?” He asked as I left the room.

“Yea, please.”





That night wasn’t any better then the morning. My father yelled at me pretty much constantly when I got home until he sent me to my room to go to sleep. He actually took the plug from my monitor to my keyboard so that I couldn’t get on, but luckily I kept an old one from a previous computer and got on as soon as I figured I had given them enough time to fall asleep.

He was extremely mad at me for running out on him this morning, and again told me that there was no way I could do this. I didn’t want to escalate things so I didn’t tell him about my plans, but lying in my bed thinking waiting for them to sleep had me wondering if I really did just want to run away possibly never to come back.

I had no problem leaving my father, but my mother I loved. I didn’t want to disappoint her, but at the same time didn’t really believe I could convince her that this was what would make me happy.

I was sitting at the computer when an instant message from Chris popped up. ‘I’m gunna do it.’

‘Great! You’re brother’s friend said I’ll definitely have the ID by Friday so we can go in then’ I responded. Duncan’s friend has shown up a few hours after my little talk with him and after a few questions took my picture and left. We had decided to make my birthday this month since it was so close anyway, and I hoped it would look at least somewhat legitimate.

‘You’re really excited about this huh’

‘Of course aren’t you?’

There was no response for a few minutes. ‘Yea’

I sighed, wondering if he really wanted to do this or if it was just tagging along with me and his brother. ‘You sure?’

‘Yea, just a little nervous I guess’ Came another response after another few minutes.

‘Well try not to worry its gunna be great’ I typed, hoping to reassure him.

‘Thanks, I’m gunna head to sleep now I think’

‘Ok, I’m going to keep reading, I’ll talk to you tomorrow’ With that he logged off and I found my way back to The Game’s page, reading until the sun came up, my thoughts swimming in my head. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep even if I tried.





The next day was mostly spent arguing and fighting more with my parents. Not getting any sleep kept me pretty quiet and when given a break I took a little nap after lunch. I had talked with Chris who informed me they still hadn’t gotten the ID, and by the end of the day I was worried that our plans wouldn’t work out.

I slept that night, getting up early to see if Chris was on to find out if he heard anything about it; but he wasn’t. I looked at the clock to see 6:43, pretty surprised I had slept so long and just realizing that I didn’t have any nightmares. I let out a soft almost unheard laugh; The Game was already making me a happier person.

I made my way downstairs to get some cereal and found my mom sitting at the kitchen table. She looked at me when she heard me and just shook her head at me taking a drag on a cigarette.

“You don’t smoke.” I half questioned as I stopped a few feet away from her.

“I do when my son is thinking of running away.”

“I’m not running away.” I said with a sigh sitting down next to her. “I’m moving on…what’s the difference between moving out into this or moving out and living life out here?”

She just looked at me her mouth half open. “It would seem like an obvious answer Steven. Your talking about fantasy, it’s not real no matter what kind of technology they have.”

“Can’t you accept that this is what will make me happy?”

“Oh stop with that, you just don’t want to get better.” She was annoyed now. “Life is what you make of it and if all you do is whine and bitch then its not gunna be that fun, but you can’t just run away from it even more. You have to work at it and get better.”

I just lowered my head. “This life isn’t for me…it never was.”

“What do you mean?” She asked after a moment of shocked silence, with a hint of fear in her voice.

“I don’t belong mom! I’ve never fit in and I have no interest in doing so. Going out and getting a job I hate to barley survive so I can make other people rich, all this work for a supposedly better life that I’ve never seen any proof of…especially not in this house.”

She was even more shocked at that and closed her mouth standing up and turning away from me. “How dare you.” She whispered harshly.

“I’m sorry. I just don’t want…” I sighed struggling to find the words.

“Don’t want what?”

“Don’t want my leaving to just be some escape in the night; I want you to be ok with my decision. I want you to understand this is what I really want and I am going to do it.”

She just sighed sitting down. “I know we can’t stop you if you are truly set on doing it, but at least we have a few months to try and make you realize you’re making a mistake. Cause as crazy as this company is I doubt they will let a minor sign in.”

Not wanting to give away my plans I hid any emotional reaction and just sighed as she would have expected it. “Well just remember this is what I want with my life.”

“You can’t possibly know that.” I stood to walk away. “It will just be a mistake!” She paused, “just be glad you have nothing to sign over to them if you do make it so when you realize it you’ll have something to come back to.”

“And if it isn’t, if I decide to stay and live my life there?”

She looked at me with sorrow in her eyes. “Then I will miss you.”

I sighed again, not sure what to say next as she went back to staring off into space. “I’ll miss you too.” I said finally before turning around and heading back to my room.

It wasn’t until I got back and sat down at my desk that I realized I didn’t get any food, any my stomach was rumbling. Not wanting to go back down I took a sip of the warm water that was left over from last night to tide me over and walked to the bathroom to take a shower.

After I got out my mom had gone back to bed or at least wasn’t in the kitchen and I was able to get something to eat, Chris logging on around 7:30 to tell me the good news of the ID. Duncan’s friend actually ended up dropping it off a little after 4 am, and they were holding it for me, ready to go.

I checked The Game’s site and sure enough it was updated saying that the site in our town was now open and accepting applications. I quickly got dressed and as quietly as possible left the house, spending a minute in front of my parents room saying a silent goodbye.

I practically ran to Chris’ house, my heart racing, my mind still going a mile a minute and the slight fear I had been feeling getting a bit stronger as I realized what I was actually doing.

What happened if my parents came after me, found out where I was and told them I wasn’t 18, would it matter if I was 18 by then? Would they force me to come back out, maybe for good? I tried my best to ignore these thoughts as I made it to Chris’, the door already open and him waiting for me sitting at the computer.

I walked over after closing the door to see him hold out a small id card. “Well, I guess I’m eighteen.” I said catching my breath.

Offering me an obviously nervous smile he handed it to me. “Happy birthday.”





We arrived at the site about an hour later. None of us wanted to wait any longer; possibly because of excitement and probably before we would lose our nerve. The old movie theater, which hadn’t been used in years had been made up quite nicely in such a short period of time, they must have been planning it for longer than I had thought.

The outside of the building was totally changed, sleek silver metal covered it entirely and the doors were now automatic. A big banner over them read ‘The Game’; and of course we weren’t the only ones heading inside.

Upon entering we saw the entire inside had been changed as well. Walls were removed and after going through a second set of automatic doors directly after the first, we entered a large open area, with people lining up in front of counters in the center.

“Well this is it.” I said gathering whatever courage I had inside of me and leading the way to the back of the line.

Most of the room was bare, the same metallic substance of the outside covering all the walls and making up the composition of the counters. The only light was artificial, and it was air conditioned almost too cold, I hugged my body as we waited.

The wait was pretty long, making me wish there were some TVs or at least music to distract myself from my thoughts. We made nervous conversation with each other, but usually it didn’t last and consisted of a variety of this is going to be awesome comments.

After an hour and a half it was almost our turn. There was just one group of people left in front of us, and I could make out what was behind the counters. It looked like most if not all of the original construction was changed, and one huge wall was now separating the room we were in now with another, two small double doors in the center. I assumed this was where everyone who was in The Game was, and as the last people were called and we were next my nervousness raised even more, my mouth dry and my heart racing.

“Well I guess this is it.” Duncan said somewhat mocking me in a veiled attempt to deny his own possible fear as we watched the people filling out forms and talking, each silently wondering who would finish first. “Next.” I jumped being pulled back to reality looking to the farthest counter on the right, a young woman smiling and waving us over.

All three of us approached as the same time as she greeted us. “Welcome to The Game, are all three of you friends?” We nodded. “We are offering group sign ups that will allow your names to be automatically added to your consoles so you can find each other when your inside.” She said warmly.

“Ok, that sounds good.” I said halfheartedly.

“I know it seems like a lot of work but it’s really easy to get inside. We just need to see some IDs to make sure you are eighteen, and you’ll all need to sign this.” She said offering out three contracts.

“What are these?” Chris asked as we all took out our ID’s. I was nervous as I handed her mine but she seemed to accept it.

“Just saying that you entered The Game of your own free will, and also if you decide to stay in the game you will sign over your possessions to us.”

“We aren’t signing anything over by signing this are we?”

“No no.” She said shaking her head. “This just tells us that if you do decide to stay in the game that you agreed to have your things signed over to us. It has no effect if you come out of the game or anything. It’s mainly there incase you don’t want to come out just to say you want to stay in.”

She nodded her head slightly as she looked over the IDs before handing them back. “I’m also going to need fifty dollars from each of you.” She took the cash and wrote down on some forms. “I see you two have the same last name, siblings?”

Chris nodded. “Yea.” Duncan mumbled uncaringly skimming the form and signing it at the bottom.

“We offer a sibling program inside The Game as well; you can be brothers in there if you want.”

Chris shrugged looking at Duncan who just rolled his eyes. “Sure whatever.”

She smiled taking his form as Chris signed his. “Great.” She took his and me; the one who was most excited about it was hesitating. As she made eye contact I swallowed hard signing it and handed it over. “Ok just head through those doors back there and someone will get you into The Game.”

“How do we…”

“It will all be explained to you.” She interrupted, pointing and waving for the next person in line to come.

I shrugged to the others and we made our way across the rest of the room to the doors. Heading through we saw the other side of the building was much the same as the first, though it was a lot more then just half.

Set up in rows throughout the entire place were metal bed like devices, with a large metal headpiece that almost looked like half an MRI machine that was hanging above them. There were already plenty in use that I could see, the headpiece not hanging above but covering whoever’s’ face was lying underneath.

There was someone standing by the door in a uniform, and a bunch of other people waiting just beyond the doors in a small area outlined with silver marker or something on the floor. The man in the uniform looked at us and smiled. “Just a few minutes.” He said handing me a small robe that looked almost like a hospital gown.

He pointed us a few feet away on the edge of the wall where a set of changing rooms were set up, and we each made our way to them and changed into their robes. I was extremely cold now and realized there was no back to the lower portion of it, but more of a flap.

I made my way back to the waiting area with Chris and Duncan watching as someone dressed in the same silver uniform as the man who gave us the clothes (which looked more like tin foil then clothing) came and took a large group of people waiting away.

Within a few minutes a few people came in from behind as another group was led away, and another person quickly came after pointing out five or six people in front of us and me and Chris. “He’s with us too.” I protested, pointing to Duncan.

“Ok, you too.” The man said leading us away from the entrance and down the same row of beds. There wasn’t much room between them so we all went single file, and when we reached the end there was some of the people we were waiting with already laying down; a person each working on getting them situated into the machine.

The man instructed the people in front of me each onto a bed, and made his way to me, as I again hesitated trying to look and see what was happening with everyone else. “Just relax.” He said laying me down flat on my back, and pulling off the flap at the back of my robe.

I realized that there was a small section of the bottom of the bed that had a hole in it and was hollowed out, and didn’t really want to think about it as my heart continued to beat faster and faster, my head really unable to move in the neck piece that was fashioned into the top of the device.

I looked strait up at the headpiece, which on the inside had numerous bulbs of different sizes and color, with earpieces connected as well on each side that looked more like earplugs. “I’ll see you in there!” Chris yelled to me; I couldn’t tell if his voice was nervous or excited.

I managed to shout back an enthusiastic “yea!” as best I could while someone approached the side of my bed and looked at me.

“What’s going to happen?” I asked.

“Have you read about the process on the site?” The man asked, taking my blood pressure.

“A little.” I managed to choke out, my throat suddenly very dry.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about.” He said reassuringly. “You will see flashing lights and hear noises, and you will enter a sort of trance like meditative state. It’s not uncomfortable or painful in any way.”

“What about the injection of the nerve thing?”

“You may feel a slight pinch, but by then you may be already too disassociated from your body to really notice. We’re going to also inject you with a small dose of Ketamine to help you become more receptive to the procedure.”

I looked at him. “Ketamine? Isn’t that illegal?”

He shook his head. “No it is used as an anesthetic, though usually only with children. It is necessary for this procedure though and has been approved, don’t worry.” I nodded, or at least tried too as he searched for a vein. “You may feel a slight burning when it is injected, but we are going to hook you up to an IV now before hand so you won’t have to worry about much pain with it.”

“Why do I need that?”

“You know, just to feed you and keep you alive.” He said lightly. I managed a weak smile as I winced with the pain. “All done,” he smiled at me. “You ready?”

“I think so…how do I do all this stuff once…the procedure happens? Do I need to keep my eyes open?”

“It will all be explained to you. Just try and stay calm you have nothing to worry about, it doesn’t matter if your eyes are open or closed.” His voice remained as serene as ever as he lowered the headpiece over my face. He didn’t lower it totally, and with the little remaining light that was left I could see his hands reach up to the ear piece and pull each of them out. They were connected by wire, and he placed them each in my ear pretty snuggly, totally cutting off any sound stimuli.

Once he was finished with that my anxiety reached its peak. I could feel the headpiece lock into the table as all light was cut off and I was left in complete darkness. The man’s attempts at keeping me calm had utterly failed.

Panic was beginning to set in as I wondered if I had made a mistake. I almost prepared to get up and run away from it when the first flashes started. They were bright and fast, and I closed my eyes at the suddenness of it. That didn’t change how bright they were, and as they continued to change patterns I could make out colors flashing around the center of my vision. I didn’t know if this was colored lights or hallucinations, but I kept my eyes closed as my body began to feel light.

Suddenly I heard a high pitched tone tear across the inside my head as the lightness continued to spread through my body. My right arm felt extremely heavy as the lights somehow became brighter and brighter.

The heaviness from my right arm quickly spread throughout my chest down to my legs, and for a moment I thought I was dieing. I couldn’t perceive myself to be breathing or hear a heart beat, and pretty soon my entire body was a foreign concept to me. I couldn’t feel any part of it and in all actuality couldn’t even remember ever having one.

The combination of the lights and the high pitched sound had me figuring I had gone blind and deaf, though the concept of sight and sound was also foreign. My mind was blank for a moment I suddenly felt my lower body, a very small but noticeable pressure under my left leg.

But as quickly as it came it was gone, and I was back in the brightness that continued to intensify. The tones that I heard became more sharp and echoed throughout my entire being, as the flashing seemed to become one steady stream of dazzling light that was brighter then anything I could have possibly imagined.

It continued to get lighter as a thought of my discussion of the soul popped into my existence, and I wondered if I was now existing as my soul, and I could feel myself rising and rising, with so much intensity that the stream of whiteness became all encompassing, it was my entire existence and it was more vivid and pure then anything I had ever experienced before.

As it continually got brighter and the tone continually got more high and the rising was felt more and more intensely I felt my essence almost peak, and suddenly out of nowhere the sound vanished, the whiteness turned to dark, and the rising leveled out and I felt as if I was floating in a position I had never felt before or even could be explained in the language of man in a void of darkness.

I was almost positive I had died, and wondered what would happen next, and for a time nothing did. I stayed floating in this place, my body, or whatever was left of it feeling calm and at peace. Through the time I almost totally forgot about that body and the life it had, when eventually I heard a voice.

“Welcome Steve.” I couldn’t tell if it was coming from inside my head or me since I didn’t really have a head, or from within whatever space I had now occupied. “Don’t be alarmed.”

“Who are you?” Again I wasn’t sure if I had spoken this, or if it was thought by me, but whoever-or whatever this was heard me fine.

“I am an artificial intelligence program designed to guide you through the character creation process and help you enter The Game. You may call me CC.”

“So I’m in The Game? I thought they said the AI was only used on NPCs that were inside of the world and they weren’t allowed to know they were actually computers?”

“As a rule yes this is true, but I am a special program aimed to help guide and accommodate your transition to The Game; as well as create your character and answer any questions. I am not technically a part of The Game nor real life; though I can communicate with you in The Game through your guide on your console.”

“So I’m not in The Game?”

“Not yet. This is a space designed just for my program, to make the characters before implanting them into The Game’s world. You can consider it a sort of staging area.”

“Like the Matrix?”

“Exactly.”

“So what do I do?”

“We make your character. First things first, what would you like to look like?”

“I’m not sure…”

“Well would you like to look as you did in real life?” As he asked that colors began to form in the distance of the darkness and I could see myself begin to materialize. “You are about the same age as the young adult model so you can look virtually identical to your previous self in The Game if you wish.”

I somehow managed to zoom into the brilliant colors that made up my former body and examined it from a third person perspective. “How am I doing this?”

“Everything you are seeing is made with the help of your own mind. You have total control of everything you see, and can change whatever you want to look however you want.”

“And this is how I make my character?”

“Yes.”

I surveyed the body. “What about muscle?”

“Body mass is attained in game through stat gain. Endurance and strength are the main governing stats with agility playing a secondary role. You will essentially be able to tone your body to your own specifications through tools provided in game in ways of exercise.”

“So it’s pretty realistic then?”

“For the most part, but since through the leveling process you can gain so many points that your body mass would become huge certain restrictions have been put into place. You can exercise according to three categories, though they have unlimited customization for each person within the boundaries.”

“And these boundaries are?”

“Slim build, where even with high strength and endurance you still appear small compared to a muscular person, this will focus on exercises to concentrate the muscles within your body while keeping a small and slim but tone build.

Next is medium, where the muscles are normally grown as they would be in real life. The exercises focus on normal growth and these would be the usual body type, ranging between slim and huge.

Finally, just added today there is big build, where with much work the muscles can grow even further, and can possibly even change your entire body shape to a larger taller bigger creature. This requires a lot of work, and for the latter extreme work which is considered to be very long, hard and almost impossible.”

“Some?”

“Some of the NPCs. Things added to the game are rarely added at a pure technical standpoint, unless it is a fix or tweak to certain mechanics. There will always be rumors and myths about certain things, mainly upheld though NPC communication. Though many of the more hidden aspects most NPCs do not know about.”

“Wait, so there could be things like hidden classes that no one knows about?”

“Correct, as well as less public ones that may require getting into specific circles of NPCs that will try and keep it secret. But you will enter the game as a commoner and any class questions you have can be answered later.”

“Ok.” I said focusing back on the projection of me. “I guess I will keep my basic face structure.” I said as it almost imprinted into the blackness, becoming more vivid and realistic. “Do I have any limitations of hair or eye color?”

“No, any color you wish. Hair color can be changed in Desex, but eye color cannot so choose carefully.”

I wondered how I would look with green eyes, as the color changed instantly from blue to green. “I like that.” I confirmed to myself, and changed my blonde hair to dark brown. “What about the cut…does hair grow back?”

“Yes, and you can change your hairstyle whenever you want by allowing it to grow.”

“Allowing it?”

“You can turn growth on and off, when you find a hair style you like you can keep that for as long as you’d like, and then if you wish to change it can turn on growth and have it cut a different way.”

“Ok…” I had my short hair get even shorter; a buzz cut…like one would get in the military, and liked the setup. I let myself grow a slight goatee, something I never was able to do in real life, and was mostly satisfied with the way I was looking. “Will I need to wear glasses?” I wondered, eyeing my ears.

“No. You can for show but it is not required.”

At that I made my glasses disappear and lightly moved my ears that had started to stick out slightly because of them a bit straiter and closer to my head. I also totally cleared my skin of any problems, a couple of bumps and a birthmark, as well as any acne that had found its way to the image. “None of that will come back will it?”

“Not if you don’t want to.”

I looked at the image again, zooming in and out and looking at me from all sides before fully satisfied. “Well I think I like it.”

“Very well, upon reaching the adult model in one year would you like to do this again, or would you like it to be an accurate portrayal of the aging of this image?”

“Well what would it look like?” Another model formed from light and color to answer my question before I even finished asking it as I looked at the future me. The facial structure was what I mostly looked at as the hair could be changed. “I like it.” I said after the same inspection and the two images disappeared into the darkness.

“So you’ll take the predetermined avatar?”

“Yea.”

“Now you can determine your starting stats, as well as the build you would like to be. You can also choose no build if you are not planning on taking the adventure route. Your build choice can be changed in game but you cannot change the choices for your starting stats, so choose carefully.”

“Ok…remind me of the stats again?”

“Strength; this will determine how strong you are. This will determine the amount of damage you can inflict in combat, as well as how much you can carry. It also plays a direct role in muscle development for your build. It is the most important stat for a strait melee class, and very important also as secondary stats of the agile melee classes.

Dexterity determines how accurate you are. Not just in combat but using sub skills as well. It also determines how well you can block with a shield or other device. Along with agility they are the most important stats for the agile melee class, and are also very important as secondary stats for pure melee classes.

Agility determines how fast you are. It determines how well people can hit you in melee, and how fast and successfully you can maneuver. It also determines how much stamina you have and how graceful you are. It is a secondary role in muscle development determining how much and how long you have to work out for to maintain and strengthen your build. As said it and dexterity are the most important stats for the agile melee class, and they are also very important as secondary stats for pure melee classes.

Endurance determines how tough you are. It determines the amount of health points you have, and how many are taken away when hurt. It also plays a direct role in muscle development more so with intense work of advancing the build then basics. It is important to all classes as it determines how long you will stay alive, but more important in the agile melee and magic classes who don’t depend as much on armor.

Intelligence determines how smart you are. It also plays a direct role in the use of magic, which makes it the most important skill for the magic classes, though it can be important to everyone with its help with social skills and logic.

Charisma determines how charismatic you are and helps you mostly with social situations. A good leader has to be charismatic, as well as any higher ups in the kingdom’s army or running a shop, therefore is also an important skill for non adventure classes. It also influence some rogue skills as well as magic, charm and persuasion skills. Someone with high Charisma and Intelligence could easily dominate the conversation over someone with low intelligence.

You are given 75 startup points to put in whichever stats you want, and I must remind you again to think carefully about it when thinking about which class you will ultimately want to peruse.”

“You mentioned agile melee classes, what exactly are those?”

“Rogue, ranger and monk type classes.”

“When you say monk you mean like a fist fighter?”

“Yes.”

I had always loved playing monk classes in the games that had them, though some games used Monks as names for their Clerics so I had to make sure. With that in mind I decided my most important stats I would need would be strength dexterity and agility, though I would also need a lot of endurance, and I defiantly didn’t want to be dumb or even worse shy and quiet like I was in real life, so I would also need a good amount of Intelligence and Charisma.

“I’ll start off giving 10 to each of them.” I decided first off.

“That will leave you with 15 more points to give out.

“Give five more to dex and agility.”

“Five more.”

“Two more to strength and endurance, and one more to intelligence.”

“So your stats will be strength: 12, dexterity: 15, agility: 15, endurance: 12, intelligence: 11 and charisma: 10. Are you positive this is what you want?”

“Yes.”

“Done, now you have the choice of being born inside the city of Lydel or to arrive some other way.”

“Arrive some other way.”

“Do you wish to be born in one of the other villages under the rule of the kingdom of Lydoria, would you like to have survived in one of the settlements of the old rebellion, or would you rather not know?”

I thought about this for a moment. “If I don’t know, is it just randomly chosen?”

“Yes.”

“Can I choose to be from the old rebellion, but also not remember?”

“Interesting...” The voice was silent for a moment. “Yes that can be done, upon your implementation into The Game you will have forgotten the request and will not know where you are from. This will also by default choose you as an orphan, at least not knowing who your parents are.”

“That’s fine.”

“I will finally need a name for your character. Since you are to be an orphan with no memory of your parents or where you came from a last name is not required.”

Again I thought about this for awhile, I was never good at making names and usually just clicked the random name generator on most games until one sounded somewhat acceptable. I didn’t want to do that this time around though…but I didn’t want to keep my real life name either. I finally decided and asked the question hoping it would be allowed. “Can I be Unnamed?”

“Interesting...” Was the repeated response and yet again I was left in silence for some time. “I understand it is acceptable. You will be known as Unnamed.”

If I had a face I would smile. “Alright, anything else?”

“That is all for character creation, once in the game you can use the guide to learn about anything and everything you can imagine.”

“Alright, thanks.”

“It is not a problem…welcome to The Game.”

I suddenly felt strange, as if my existence was being stretched and skewed. I felt the black space slipping away as I could once again start to feel my body. As I became more and more aware I could feel myself crouching and the feeling of soft ground on my hands and legs.

Realizing that I had my eyes closed, and opened them to see the short grass blowing in-between my fingers. I blinked, focusing on it… the world having the same beyond real look as the videos when I understood what had happened. I was in The Game.

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