iAntivirus: Black and White

iAntivirus: Black and White

A Story by Scyoni
"

The story of how Fraze joined the online game Cyberpolis. Based on an RP character from http://z3.invisionfree.com/iANTIVIRUS

"

The sky was blue and the grass was greener than green, the world was at its peak of beauty. Birds sang songs, dogs barked, cats ran in the streets. People laughed and walked with their friends, heading to parties or out shopping, wherever it pleased them.

There was a park on the one street. It shone brilliantly with the previous night's rain, and many children played about the slides and the kiddy-swings. They laughed and danced with each other, pleased by the mere action of running at all, of feeling things. Children were often like that, weren't they? They liked to feel things, to be alive and accepted by their peers.

So Dezz thought. He swung forward slowly on the swing, watching the other children playing. The world had been so much fun until that year... Everything had been so easy, and so carefree. He smiled as he remembered it. Life until he was eleven, that was when everything was great.

He'd thought it took longer for people to embrace the great and dark oneness that was the love of fashion and movie stars. He'd thought that, being in elementary school, he didn't need to know who acted in what movie, or what style was 'in'. He thought it was okay to like reading stories, and that school was fun.

Apparently he'd been wrong.

He sighed irritably and pushed a bit harder off the ground, but not too hard. He remembered what had happened when, coming back to school after the summer, he'd suddenly felt out of place. His classmates all wore 'fashionable' clothing, and talked about celebrities and whatnot. What use, he had wondered, did they have for that? Especially at their age?

When they'd started ignoring him because of his lack of knowledge about their little worlds, he understood it was acceptance. He'd learned so much more that year in school than he ever had. He learned that it was wrong to be different, he learned that having blond hair and black eyes made you a freak, he learned that being small made you an easy target.

He learned how it felt when someone deliberately broke your leg.

He swung gently forwards again, the ghostly smile on his face fading quickly. He was tired, he suddenly realized. Not tired from actions, but tired of that world. A year living with the reality that he didn't fit, and that he likely never would, had exhausted him. He thought for a moment about what they called it when you killed yourself... suicide? Was that the word? Maybe he'd try that.

As he stood and got his crutches under his arms he plotted his way home. He lived a short ways from the park, in a more country-like district closer to the outside of town. His house was big, just like his family, and they had a separate building in the back that nobody really used. They lived on a farm, actually, and his parents and eldest brothers worked on it. They all knew Dezz would never be fit to work something like that. He was weak, and he tired too easily to get a job like that. One day it would be a problem, because there weren't many jobs for teenagers in their area that weren't physical labor, more or less. It wasn't a large town they lived in, and all of the girls seemed to get the positions as cashiers.

When he got home, Dezz was more or less assaulted by his family shouting things he could hardly understand for all of their volume. It hit him sometime in between the 'H' and the second 'Y' that it was his birthday. Not much to celebrate, he thought.

“Hey, Dezzy! Guess what we bought you?” his mother said in her cutesy little voice that she reserved just for him. She held a box up in front of him, covered in blue paper with the word 'DIGIMON' all over it. He didn't like digimon all that much... and he hoped it had nothing to do with the gift. In fact, he hoped the gift has nothing to do with kids stuff. He wasn't all that immature- for his age he was smart, and mature, and he had no interest in the fads and pointless styles, as mentioned before.

“A toaster?” he asked rhetorically, accepting the box as he sat on the couch. His brainless, bulky, siblings all sat excitedly around him. Somehow he was the popular child among his brothers, they all wanted to do everything they could for him because he was smaller and weaker... It made him feel useless. He grabbed the wrapping and fussed with it for a moment before tearing it open.

Once he'd removed the disgusting stuff from the box he could clearly see it: the green box with a picture of a city. A small clear window displayed a controller and an elaborate headset. Printed over the top were the words that then meant nothing to him, but eventually would mean everything.

Cyberpolis.

***

The cake and the party were okay, but they only left him exhausted. Dezz tiredly trudged up to his room, one step and one heavy pull on the railing at a time, before finally reaching it. His room wasn't big... it was puny, really. He had enough room for his bed, a small end table beside his bed, and his computer sitting on that table with the small crate he used as a chair. He contemplated just going to bed- but decided he'd rather test out his gift.

“Cyberpolis,” read the box. “The land of fantasies and excitement! Create your own character, go on quests, defeat horrifying monsters, raise pets, make new friends from around the world!” He laughed lightly after reading the description and ripped off the sticker holding the acid green box shut. He took out the controller and set it on the bed, and then took out the headset. That, he examined for a moment, his love of electronics getting the better of him.

The design was intuitive. Headphones made the base of the structure, and they weren't cheap headphones. They were the kind that blocked all the rest of the sound from you, so you only heard what they projected. It made him raise an eyebrow, quality stuff. The 'bar' going over the top and strong, along with an elastic strap around the back it held the goggles themselves. They were lightweight, with tiny projectors and three layers of lenses that he could only assume were meant to add realism. The lenses also filled the entirety of the inside, so they were all you could see. Strange. There was also a mic positioned at the front, and somehow the whole contraption was wireless, like the controller.

Dezz started the computer with a click and a familiar humming sound. The login screen came up and he spent a few seconds entering his password, exactly fifty digits long. He opened up firefox and typed in the website address, up came an anime-themed website with all of those 'happy-go-lucky!' pictures.

“I wonder what the graphics are like?” he said quietly to himself, searching for a screen shot section. He found none, and this only dropped his spirits. In his experience, that usually meant horrible graphics. Oh well, he still had to try it.

He went to the sign up page and typed in his e-mail address, postal code, and all the other things the page demanded, as well as the account name that this random narrator was not privileged to see. Upon acceptance, he hit the download button. The little loading bar he loathed so much appeared, and he sighed. He was in for a long wait...

While the game loaded he decided to read a book.

He woke up eight hours later.

“Darn, I fell asleep?” he murmured as he rubbed his tired eyes. He made to stand, but felt his cast the instant before he would otherwise have smashed right into the ground. Finally easing himself into the chair, he found a prompt on the monitor.


Download finished! Would you like to start now?
Yes No

After a moment's thought he clicked yes. He was off school that day, and for the next two months. How glad he was that school was over. With a computer generated 'ding' another prompt appeared.


Please put on your headset and take hold of your controller.


There was no 'ready' button, which Dezz thought strange, but he put the headset on anyway. Once he got the goggles over his eyes he found more writing on them.


With this version of Cyberpolis, many controls are handled through voice commands. At any point in the game, should you require assistance, merely say 'command help'. When you wish to start the game, say 'ready'.


The voice commands intrigued Dezz, and a small smile found him. “Ready,” he breathed into the mic. Even at such a low level, it picked up, and the green lines that had consumed his visual range shot forwards, as though he were moving through a tunnel, with the brightest kind of light on the other side.

***

At first, there was darkness. Then came a voice. “What is your gender?”

“Male,” Dezz replied without thought. He wouldn't be caught dead playing a girl, especially with a voice like his. His voice didn't suit him. His voice was, well he was almost tempted to think it sounded cool, where he obviously wasn't.

“What's your favorite colour?” asked the voice.

“Blue?” Dezz said, honestly wondering. He didn't really think about those things.

“You are unsure?” queried the game.

Dezz frowned, looking into the darkness. It recognized tone, as well? What kind of game was this? “Unsure,” he responded. “Either Blue, red, or gold...”

“That answer is acceptable. In what month were you born?”

On went the questions. What letter does your real name start with? What country do you come from? What animal do you prefer? What picture do you prefer? Dezz was starting to wonder at the point of it all when the world re-formed itself before his eyes. He stood in a small room with a maroon curtain in front of him, dark wooden walls and a hardwood floor.

He plucked a note off the curtain in front of him with some difficulty discovering the controls. It read simply that there were a few items for him to 'equip' behind him. He turned back and looked at the pile sitting on a chair.

Clothes.
Oh.

It took next to no time for him to get them on, and the very instant he did a number of pixels swirled in seemingly from nowhere to form a person standing in front of him. It was a boy, maybe three years older than him, and as realistic as anything he'd ever seen. The boy smiled warmly and gave a slight bow.

“Welcome to Cyberpolis!” he said cheerfully. “Is this your first time with us?”

Dezz took a moment to digest the fact that the 'welcoming party' was another real person. Then he nodded nervously, blushing slightly.

The boy sighed, “Awww, are you shy? There's no need to be shy here! In this world, you make your own life. You can start by looking yourself over, hm?” He walked over to the maroon curtain and pulled it aside, revealing the full length mirror hidden behind it. Dezz walked over and was immediately stunned.

He was not scrawny. He was not pale. He didn't have blond hair and black eyes. He stared at the mirror until he felt he might fall into it, because the person standing on the other side wasn't him. The person on the other side was about his age, much better built, and tanned like he spent nary a moment inside. He had jet black hair and amber eyes, and the outfit he'd just put on looked like (and probably was) made just for him. The shirt had no sleeves, and was a deep orange colour with a gold rimmed collar. A deep yellow sash around his waist held up his dark blue pants, and long fingerless gloves of the same colour as his shirt went almost halfway up his arms.

“That's... me?” he whispered, and turned back to the boy behind him, who promptly nodded. Therein fell some explanation that avatars were created to suit their users preferences and personalities. Dezz had no idea how it fit him, but he liked it.

“So, do you need help with anything about the game?” the welcome party asked. Dezz declined, he'd read the manual before falling asleep, he knew the gist of what he had to do. “Then welcome to Cyberpolis,” the boy said with a laugh. “Remember to be kind to the other players- and think up a name as soon as you can. You can't go through life without one!”

The whole room seemed to dissolve into pixels, and Dezz fell into an infinite darkness.

***
“You can open your eyes now.”

The world came back. Dezz had to blink a few times to clear his eyes. He was sitting on a bench on a bridge of some kind... Brightly coloured leaves fell around him onto the worn wooden walk, and another person wearing the same simple, white outfit as the first was standing in front of him.

“This is the game world, or more specifically, your hometown!” the greeter said with that same overflowing enthusiasm. “The system says you should be in Awetum- the city of wizards and magic. Do you like this city, or would you like to choose another?”

Wizards? Magic? “This one is fine,” Dezz replied, feeling that insane enthusiasm himself. He was getting excited, despite his earlier cynicism. That world looked and sounded so real- to use magic, or see monsters there, what would it be like?

The greeter nodded happily and the world around seemed to shift- suddenly there were other players all around them on the walk. “Then welcome to Awetum. Have fun exploring, and when you think of a name please add it to your profile!' the greeter laughed as it disappeared.

Thus did Dezz finally see the real Cyberopolis. He stood up on the bridge and looked over the side into the depths of the forest below. It was so real to him, each leaf so individual, each sound so clear and well directed. He saw the cloudy sky, and the shops in the distance. Some people walking by waved and had their smiles, saying things (none of which seemed unkind) about just how cute the newbies were.

Of course, at eleven years and almost looking it Dezz wasn't going to argue with them.

He was just going to run around and see as much of that world as he could. Of course he started with Awetum. The giant trees, as tall as mountains, they seemed to him, were intriguing. He smiled as he ran over the bridges. The people lived in the trees, their houses built to varying degrees of complexity either on the sides of the massive forest trees or into them. Houses... He stopped to pull up the help prompt and looked them up.

Player owned housing is one of the many features of the game! By speaking to someone in your town office, you can purchase a customizable house of your own for entertaining friends, storing items, and for use as a personal savepoint!

Of course the price tag was less than welcoming to the newbie, but he knew how these games could work. After a time he was sure he'd save enough money. He found the market place and stared at the elaborate and beautiful weapons inside. It occurred to him that he had his starter money in his pocket to buy a weapon with... He walked inside.

A while later he came out with a smile and staff- a very plain and simple staff, but it was still his. To his amazement, the shopkeeper had been another player. He'd asked the man about NPCs, to which he'd received a laugh in return. According to him, this game had no NPCs, people did all of the jobs. That was... strange.

Regardless, he had a weapon! That meant he could probably fend off anything that might attack him along the traveling roads, because the only truly difficult monsters were farther into the wilderness. Time to visit the other towns.

Spa'ring was an enjoyable place. Dezz had never been overly fond of the wet season, but the flowers were nice, and the weather was clear that day. It took next to no time to realize that the inherent ability of the people of Spa'ring was speed- the way they zipped around all the time. It was intriguing, and it made Dezz wonder just how fast he might be able to go if he put a bit in his own speed stat.

Sum'meria was nice, but disorienting. Players who looked like a slight wind should blow them over lifted swords twice their own size... At least the sea shore scenery was nice. When Dezz decided to leave, heading along the beach towards the docks again, he was confronted by a crab. For a moment he merely stared at the small white orange and red thing, then it snapped its claws.

“This is... a monster?” the newbie wondered aloud, pointing at it. The small information window popped up- it was indeed a monster, a level one monster. A smile spread across his face. “time to try fighting~!” he said melodically, and held his staff at the ready. After a moment it occurred to him that he'd forgotten to look up how to fight with magic... The crab snapped at his toe, taking away a fifth of his pathetic newbie HP.

“Stupid thing!” That was when he found the other use for the staff. Hitting things; the most basic and yet effective way of beating something down. After scattering every pixel of the little creature to the wind, Dezz knelt and picked up what it had dropped, a coin. He smiled, it was his first victory, no matter how pathetic.

When he got onto the boat bound for the other side of the 'sea', his precious coin now in his inventory, he pulled up another help screen. Time to learn some magic.

Magic can be a simple thing or a difficult thing in Cyberpolis, owing to the different ways of casting it. A user with the keyboard only function may choose the key-cast option, where typing in certain phrases casts spells. A user with the headset may choose verbal commands, which function in the same way. These spells are of average effectiveness. For easier to cast (but much less effective) magic, one may use hot keys. The cast time is slower, and the spells don't do quite as much damage this way. For hardcore wizards who want devastating effects, using the controller and the headset at the same time allows you to use motions and words to create much more effective spells!

“Really now?” the apprentice whispered, looking over the screen. “All it takes is memorization then?”

So maybe being a geek would come in handy after all.

***

Dezz had to log off after he reached the other shore. It had been much later than he'd thought. He lay in bed that night staring at the ceiling in his room and smiling. He liked that other world- that other place where nobody judged him, and where he was just another person. He fit in there, and it didn't matter that he was short or a geek, nobody else knew that! Nobody else had to know that! In that place he was just him- a wizard, from Awetum who needed a name. That gave his cause for pause... a name... He'd find one soon enough.

When he closed his eyes that night he dreamed of fighting monsters, and finding his own band of would-be heroes. He dreamed of having friends so close that they would risk their virtual lives for one another, and finding the girl of his dreams, like an angel, who would never question him. He dreamed many things, most of which he'd never even considered before.

When he woke in the morning, he spared only an hour to wash up and eat before he logged in again. His parents were pleased that he seemed to like the gift they got him- and that their plan might be working...

The world dissolved and Dezz suddenly stood in the port again. The same smile, still unfamiliar to his face, discovered him as he ran off down the road towards the north. On the way he ran into a small fox creature, and he laughed. He raised a hand a whispered three words into his mic; a blade of wind cut the creature's hitpoints in half.

Magic. He'd just used a spell.

Elation spread through him. With only words and gestures he could make things happen in that world! He did it again, gathered his spoils, and skipped off again down the road. He saw mountains rising in the distance, and he could see his virtual breath in the cold. His character was most certainly not dressed for Winwintar, the winter city, but then it was a game, right?

The city peaked his interest. As far as atmosphere, it was his second favorite (there was something about standing a thousand feet from the ground in Awetum he couldn't get enough of). The cottages in the mountains, with smoking chimneys and pine trees around, the snow covered streets and light dusting of snowfall that came even as he walked; it was like walking into a Christmas story without the lights. He could almost see the Grinch sliding down from a mountain cave to steal lights off the giant, solitary pine tree in the town square.

With the monsters he'd killed on the way there, Dezz also found he had some money. He found a cheery little cafe and walked in, ordering a hot chocolate and sitting down at one of the tables alone. He didn't mind it right then, his mind was reeling. He was in love with that world, with the idealized cities mingling with harsh wilderness and everyone accepting everyone else as they were, with the magic, with the monsters, with the depth and the realism and... everything. In all honesty, he never wanted to log off. He hadn't even seen all the cities yet, though.

When his drink was ready he downed it with a frown. The one drawback was the lack of sensation. Experimentally he went and made a real hot chocolate and drank it as his avatar sat in the cafe, looking around curiously as most newbies do. That, he decided, was heaven.

Of course the time came soon enough for him to leave Winwintar. He moved on to Yanathrea and blew his own mind. The buildings towered over him in the strange metropolis, so different from the rest of cyberpolis and so much more fitting in a sci-fi world. Shops clogged the market, and people ran from place to place delivering materials and products, messages and god knows what else. Users of all types grouped in unlikely seeming parties or followed by small pet monsters made up a mob of traffic that, though it contained no vehicles, was more difficult to navigate than any traffic jam Dezz had ever seen on his trips to the big cities.

It was fun to be there, of course- like visiting NewYork or something, but he didn't stay for long. Dezz was much more fond of his 'hometown' back in Awetum, where things moved at a much slower pace and it wasn't rare to find someone just watching the leaves fall from the trees.

When he got back he found a place on the forest floor, far from the busy streets above, that held a patch of sunlight. There he fell back on a bed of leave and stared up at the falling leaves from the sky. Heaven, he'd thought before... this was heaven.

“This is my world,” he whispered to nobody but himself. “This is my world! This place is where I should be!” The latter came as an elated cry, in a tone that so suited his voice although it had barely been used. Dezz rolled in the leaves and scared the squirrels, laughing the whole time. His sadness, and his bitterness were forgotten. In two days it seemed he'd a new way to live. He hugged a pile of the virtual leaves to him and sighed contentedly.

Outside the door of his room, his mother smiled. It was working.

In a tree some distance from where Dezz lay, a shadowed figure watched him with some amusement before turning away and heading into the forest, but not before writing down his ID number. This one, he decided, would be interesting to watch.


The name came to him on the third day. He was swinging from the Awetum trees, looking for bird monsters to level up on (because of his constant playing he'd reached level three already) when he realized with a jolt that he didn't have a name. He dropped then to the ground and considered. He wanted a name that sounded nice on his ears, that he could stand listening to day to day... But it had to be more than that. He smiled, remembering the gossip he heard in the cafe and on the streets of Yanathrea, people talking about legendary players. He wanted to be one of those names, one day. He wanted to be someone that everyone else would remember.

He thought that over and typed a mass of pointless letters into a box, looking around and trying to get some ideas. He just picked the letters that caught his eyes, and his ears in a sound... F... R... A... he hummed to himself. He wanted something of his real name in that name. ZE.

Fraze. That was his name. He smiled and typed it into his ID box. Now he had a name.

“Fraze?” a deep voice laughed behind him. The wizard spun and saw nobody. He frowned and shook his head, then jumped up and grabbed another branch as he pulled himself back into the trees to play once again in the branches of Awetum.

Those branches that would become his playhouse. For the next two months, he spent a lot of his time flipping through them. The spinning twisted first person view of twirling through the trees excited him, and at least once a day he had that rush before running off to find a party and level. He was addicted, if one might be willing to say such a thing of someone who spent almost all of their time in the game.

It was having strange effects on him, too...
He got back to school in September, and he wasn't himself, by which of course it's meant he was happy and undaunted by the prospect of being stuck in a room with thirty other kids his age. When he got to the school yard, they started bothering him, laughing at his choice in clothes and as always his strange black eyes. At first he ignored them. Then he got fed up.

“Who are you to tell me what I am?” he snapped, as always in his unfitting voice. That only made them laugh more, although they were justly surprised. Dezz never stood up for himself, ever. This was new. He continued ignoring them in his way and arguing back for about a week. Then he came home missing a tooth and wearing a black eye. He didn't argue after that. He ignored them all and avoided them, and when he was at school he either read books and strategy guides for the game or drew doodles of his avatar. Things settled back to normal.

Meanwhile, in the gaming world, he became much more aggressive. Newbie parties began to take some notice of him, for his skill with magic despite his level. He became a regular with some of the more dedicated teams. After one successful round with one of his regular teams, the lot of them sat in a field outside Spa'ring. They were laughing about their victory, and talking about getting famous one day. Of course there came some joking about hacking, and a mock conversation.

Some distance away, another player sat on a hill with a friend. The two were on duty for a certain... organization. One was small, and brutish. Looking at him one might be reminded of a bulldog, for all his strength and his pretty face, he couldn't keep a nice expression on it. His icey blue hair was unkept as it fell around his pale face, and his green eyes watched the small party anxiously over his worn and old looking black shirt and pants, plain and simple. His name, about as original a thing as he might come up with, was Brad. He was veritably shaking with anticipation. “Come on, you know they hack, let's get em,” he whispered, knowing full well he was lying.

Beside him sat the most exquisite creature a girl might lay eyes on, and a source of jealously for a number of boys. Sitting tall and strong, for his graze and almost elven figure, was Dawniel. His eyes were a crystal blue as they watched the small party, alert and curious, yes, but never accusing. His lips were a hard line, he did not approve of his ally's attitude. There were many other things about Brad that Dawn disapproved of, his attire, his demeanor... And it would show, just to compare them. Dawn wore bright clothes. A white shirt with a silvery cape, armor about his shoulders befitting his self proclaimed station as a knight, a sword belted at his hip and tight fitted boots halfway up to his knees. His hair, no less bright white, fell long down his back even as two locks framed his perfect angular face. He gave a melodic but disdainful hum. “No. They've done nothing wrong.”

Brad growled, then laughed in his deep, rough, voice. “You're too soft, Dawn. It's people like that that turn out to be hackers, you have to nip this kinda thing in the bud.” He made a move towards the group.

Dawn punched his squarely in the face, taking a good chunk of his HP. “No,” he said in a condescending tone, “you have to give the kids a chance to realize what's right and what's wrong. To err is human, to forgive divine.”

Brad winced and sat back, waiting. For some time they sat there together, talking about meaningless things, until Dawn had to leave. Brad smiled, his friend was too trusting... And stupid, he thought. He got up and held his hand out to the side, from under his shirt zirus blades came along the length of his arms and he slowly, casually, approached the group.

“Heya kiddies,” he whispered once they were in earshot, “guess what the teacher's got for class today?”


“ALLEY!”

“RANN!”

Names, screams, echoed in the field. The virus player, merciless as he was, actually caught Rannlas (the supposed leader of the party) and deleted him. Then he set about on the others. He was not merciful, he wasn't even doing his right job. When Dawn logged back in a moment later he was not amused. He pulled out his broadsword and rushed at his supposed friend.

“YOU LIAR!” he yelled in accusation, swinging strong and almost catching the assassin's arm. “You know that the overlord'll have your head if he hears about this!” He took another hard swing, but Brad rolled under the blade and came up right in front of him, zirus blades poised at his neck.

“And what if he tries?” he growled again. “I could probably take him.” What a bluff. He was trying to bluff Dawn, too... and the swordsman knew it.

Carefully pushing Brad's arm away, Dawniel smiled. “I'm sure you could,” he whispered, “whenever you figure out how to take me, first.” With that Brad's eyes widened and fell to the blade that had so carefully, and so skillfully, been plunged into his virtual heart. Then he exploded into a shower of pixels.

Where most of the party had scattered, Fraze hid in a tree. Staring at Dawn as he was then, frozen and gaping, most wouldn't even notice him. Dawn turned to stare right at him. His fingers promptly failed him, and he fell hard to the ground. When the swordsman came towards him he, thinking Dawn was Brad's accomplice in the former massacre, scrambled to his feet to run. He'd barely turned with the Spa'ring warrior caught his wrist.

“Wait.” He did as he was told, and looked back at Dawniel, who then smiled. “I'm sorry that he bothered you, where did your friends go?”

“They-they left,” Fraze muttered, and a nervous, hysteric kind of smile crossed his face. “Running for their lives, you know?”

Dawn nodded slowly and glanced back at the field, “Casualties?”

“One...”

“I suppose that's not all that bad then, is it?” Dawn asked with his charming smile. He looked back at Fraze and frowned, “Wait, Fraze- you're that Awetum kid, aren'tcha?” Fraze could only numbly nod. He'd never seen Dawn before, although apparently Dawn had seen him. That, and there was a bit of trauma still lingering in his mind after seeing Rannlas violently hacked apart by the other virus member.

Dawn gave him a consoling pat on the shoulder. “Well then, Fraze, why don't you come with me? I know you're probably a bit queasy after that... I can buy you some tea?” Again he only nodded, and he was staring to wonder what had really just happened there in that little field outside Spa'ring.

 

***

“So, you're a wizard?”

“Well I'm from Awetum... so yah.” Fraze stilled his tea absently and watched Dawniel, confused. The older player smiled, and laughed at his worry.

“Why are you so twitchy? You think I'm gonna go off and try to delete you the way that idiot did your friend?” he asked incredulously. Fraze shifted uncomfortably in his seat and stared down at his drink instead of looking into Dawn's eyes. He didn't know what he thought, he was just nervous.

Then Dawn patted him on the head. He looked up at him with very confused eyes, and more than a little indignation in them. Dawn was still smiling. “Well I'm not gonna do anything to you, little guy. In fact, if you want, we can be friends.”

“Friends? Me and you?”

“Yes.”

That whole conversation was giving him the creeps. Fraze laughed lightly to try and make the feeling go away. “I-I guess so! So... uhm... do you want to go level or something?” he asked pathetically. He wanted to leave the cafe, he knew that.

“Level-?” Dawn asked in confusion before cutting himself off with a laugh. “Level? Well, I hate to burst your bubble there, Fraze, but I'm transcendent.”

“You're what?”

Dawn appraised him for a moment, his confused expression and his careless tone. He really didn't know that much about the game then, did he? “It means level ninety nine,” he replied, carefully watching for Fraze's reaction.

The wizard stared for a second before smiling. “So you've been playing a long time? That high of a level, you must be strong!” he'd completely forgotten his earlier concerns. He assaulted Dawniel with questions about his character, and his stats... Dawniel was happy to hear them and glad to answer. He was from Spa'ring, his STR stat was... high for a Spa'ringer, and let's leave it at that. He'd been playing for eras and eras, and though Fraze didn't get the exact number, he could easily assume that Dawn was from as far back as the third.

Hours passed. Eventually the younger player had to log off, but of course he added Dawniel to his friends list first. The hours spent in conversation had convinced him that he wanted to take up that offer from Dawn, and be friends. He didn't have anyone on his friends list, really, so far he'd only spent time with those he met, and again if by coincidence.

When Dezz lay in bed that night, his computer less than a foot from him in his small dark room, he couldn't help but wonder about this mysterious knight. Dawn had fought off the monster that deleted his party leader... So he must be a good guy, right? And besides that, he seemed more than amicable. The way he spoke, the way he looked... Most certainly if Dezz was was anything but straight he'd be smitten by those deep blue eyes. What was there not to like?

He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly, he made a friend. Most likely he'd also met his mentor in that world. The thoughts lulled him into a comfortable sleep, filled again with dreams of things he never thought he'd be able to do.

***

A few months later, Dezz had a day that was next to unbearable.

“Dezz!”
“Dezzzzz!”
“Dezzy!”

The relatives had come. Dezz shivered and sat there while his many aunts and cousins “squee'd” in delight at the sight of him. Cute little Dezz, like always. No matter that his siblings were readily available for hugs and doting, he was the immediate target. He sat there and endured.

When he finally lost his novelty he let his hair fall back into his eyes, pulled off the ridiculous clothes they bought him, and hid in his room again. Or he tried to. He was hauled back into the room with his brothers and his extended family to talk and be a part of the rough housing so common among the large, strong farmboys in his family.

It didn't really end well. At the end of the wondrous event he almost fainted and his mother sent him up to his room to rest, he gratefully complied. Without hesitation he returned to the online world, where he spent his day with Dawn doing a hundred and one things. When it was finally time to log off, he waved to his friend and made to take the headset off… And he realized his hands weren’t moving.

“Uhm… technical difficulties,” he said with a bit of a laugh. He tried to move his hands again, this time with a bit more success. They felt strange… He hit the transparent button on his visor and looked down. For a second he just stared, then he returned to the game and released the longest string of curses he had in a long time. Fraze was left standing there, panting, and staring at the ground.

Dawn tried to supportive, while still not able to wipe the surprise completely from his face. “You okay, Fraze?”

“I would be,” the boy answered, “if my HANDS were not DUCT TAPED to the damned CONTROLLER!”

A cricket chirped. Fraze growled. “I have company,” he said simply. A bunch of idiotic- … oh boy, take advantage of my pain killers to tie me up and- GAH!” He stopped for a second, and then smiled kindly up at Dawn. “I’m kind of tied to my bed with my hands duck taped to the controller and the headset locked on… soo…”

“You’re stuck in the game?” Dawn asked, stifling a giggle. Fraze turned away in a huff. Dawn smiled happily, shaking his head. “It’ll turn out fine, Frazey. Here… try hitting these buttons in this order, okay?” He gave the other player a combination. Fraze frowned, but Dezz still hit the buttons.

CONTROLLER DISABLED

He blinked twice, the sensor in his headset made his avatar mimic the motion. Then he glared at Dawn, “You did that on purpose! I can’t reconnect this thing without getting off! Dawwwwwn!”

The swordsman knelt by his friend, easily the paralyzed avatar to its knees. “Don’t worry,” he said with a smile, “you won’t need to worry about anything.” He knelt closer, his blue eyes staring into Fraze’s gold. Fraze’s eyes widened.

“D-Dawn what are you doing?”

Dawn hugged Fraze’s little avatar and picked him up, holding him easily. “I’m going to take you back to my house, aright? I need to talk to you about something important. It’s just more convenient if you can’t run.”

Fraze felt like some kind of doll, unable to move as the transcendent warped them his, rightly named, estate. Dawn dropped him on the couch of his livingroom and smiled. “So… Ever heard of two small things called Virus and Firewall?”

© 2008 Scyoni


Author's Note

Scyoni
This was technically never finished, but the endpoint was the end of a chapter. Some prior knowledge required for full comprehension. (Virus and firewall are essentially gangs, fyi)

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Added on August 7, 2008
Last Updated on August 7, 2008

Author

Scyoni
Scyoni

Canada



About
A 16 year old author, I've been writing for two years and have completed two novels that I'm currently attempting to publish. On the side I write some 'bored stories' which are exactly as implied- sto.. more..

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