Trapped in the Source Filmmaker
- Aug 5, 2013
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I sat down and pulled out my notepad. I was aiming to make today the day! I was going to win our tattoo contest and give out the most of anybody! We had two hours to pull over people walking by and pass out the most of our artistic thoughts and scribble them on anybody who was willing to let us. But I had a special secret weapon today. And I was going to walk away with the last laugh.
I pulled out a Sharpie. This one was silver, but it glowed many colors in the light. If I had my imagination...couldn't it be anything I wanted it to be? I called over a little girl who was travelling with her mother. She was dressed up like she was in some sort of RPG; blonde hair tied up to the sides of her head in huge pigtails with spirals flowing down the sides. Her dress was white with metallic-looking embellishments, and she wore small white gloves with swans on them. Her mother stood next to me as I popped the cap.
"What did you want me to draw?"
She leaned down and whispered in my ear that she wanted a swan just like her outfit. I smiled and she showed me the back of her hand. I started drawing, careful to make sure I didn't ruin it by being clumsy. When I was done, I let her marvel at it for a moment. She was so happy her eyes glowed like little stars. It was things like this that made me think gratitude was worth more than money.
"Want to see something magical?" I asked her, smiling. She shook her head so hard her pigtails bounced like springs. "Watch this." I tapped the swan then I tapped her forehead. "Close your eyes."
She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, making her little nose wrinkle up. He mother typed away on her phone, not really paying attention. Ignoring all the sounds of the people walking by, I also closed my eyes. Soon the girl faded into view standing in a dark space. I walked up next to her and tapped her shoulder so as not to startle her, and she whirled around seeming a bit confused. I held out my hand and in my palm was the Sharpie. I popped the cap again and started to draw into the air; streaks of silver hanging suspended where the tip brushed. When I was finished, the swan floated there and I nodded to the girl. Her look of astonishment turned to wonder as she touched it and the bird unfurled silvery wings and stretched. Looking into her eyes it wrapped a wing around her and she reached out to brush the feathers with a broad smile.
I stood in front of her and drew wings atop her back while the swan looked on. When I was finished they swept the ground with a swoosh of air in the dark space. I gestured to the place around us. "What do you want this place to look like?" I asked her. The surroundings faded into a forested clearing with a beautiful water fountain in a wash of paint and bright colors. Squinting against the light, she adjusted and her mouth hung open in a silent gasp. The wings I had drawn began to lift her off the ground without her realizing, and the swan followed her gracefully up into the sky.
We both opened our eyes and she just looked at me for the longest time. Peeking at her swan as if to ensure it wasn't going to take off anywhere, she hugged me. She reached for her mother's hand and walked away, waving goodbye to me and casting glances at her little tattoo as she went.
I had a secret weapon. I was going to make others smile.
I sat down at my desk and picked up my M2D. I knew that with this Virtual Reality headset I could play games and surf the Web anywhere really, but I always preferred the dark silence of my room and getting the chance to pay full attention to the game. The sounds, the sights...Everything was vivid and beautiful. The World was a testament to our generation. People often created their own personas in this place without concrete rules, but most made their own so that they might better enjoy the game itself. Of course I had my own rules and ethics by which I played the game, but it wasn't so for everyone. PKs (Player Killers) stalked the root towns where they couldn't draw their weapons, simply lying in wait for groups of weaker-looking players to warp to a field using the Chaos Gate. They would input the previous coordinates of the players and follow them to their destination, PK-ing them for sport. Many used The World as an outlet for their anger, fear, and stress. These people were no different. I slipped on my copper-colored M2D, the startup screen for the game popping up immediately. I smiled, ready to head back to my Guild and get to work.
~~~~~~~~~~"Where've you been all day!?" a voice screeched in my ear as I entered the Guild @Home. The home base of my Guild was pretty simple, but more members were joining our ranks and soon we might be getting an entire Area with our own coordinates. It was becoming too large for town, really.
I turned to the source of the noise. My best friend in the game, Kelikka stood there. She was a Blade Brandier: a class that used a sword in combat. It was the most balanced class of all of them, both quick and hard-hitting. Weapons manifested only when you needed them though, so you had to know a person or see them fight to know what class they used. Or you could just ask. She stood there glaring at me. Lightweight green armor plates covered her shoulders and legs with banded leather underneath for speed rather than defense. Her skin was adorned with the occasional yellow spiral tattoo. They used to signify what element you were associated with, but The World R:2 had done away with that so that they were just cosmetic, now. She had shoulder-length blonde hair tied up in a ponytail by a big green bow, and her eyes were a ruby color. They reflected her mood at this particuar moment. She was pretty stormy. "What?" I asked passively, smiling.
She reached out and smacked my PC over the head. "We've been waiting to got on this exploration all day and you can't even be bothered to get here at the time you specified! That's 'what.'"
"I know, I know." I waved a gloved hand at her as if to calm her like some sort of animal. She huffed and turned away with her arms crossed over her chest, knowing full well arguing wasn't going to get us anywhere. We both knew it never had.
"Maybe if you'd play the game in other places rather than just your room, perhaps you'd be on time for these things..." she grumbled.
I smiled back at her widely. I was going to reply, but our resident Harvest Cleric popped his head in the door. Grinning like an idiot, the team healer came up to me and input the command for hugging VERY tightly into his command board. "Kimra! We just started waiting for you, no worries!" he said in a deep and cheerful voice. He was a tall beastman with gray fur and a lion-like face, whitish tufts spiking from the tip of his swishing tail and running down his back in a prickly mane. A purplish-gray robe with long sleeves flowed down almost to the huge pawed hands that gripped me. There was a smear of purple battle paint on his left cheek, and his eyes were a sharp yellow color with feline pupils.
I shrugged him off. "You always know how to greet someone properly, Gruff." I patted him on the back to make him feel better. His PC name was actually Gruffen, but we all just called him 'Gruff.' "Now that the three of us are here, shall we go explore the place I mentioned?" Parties could only consist of three PCs at any given time, but you were more than welcome to travel in larger groups. For what I had in mind, I only wanted the three most senior members - which would be us of course - to be there at first. We had just discovered a new place and we were itching to explore it to bring back information to the Guild.
Gruff smiled again and smacked Kelikka on the back. "The boss hath spoken!" he mocked, saluting to me and marching exaggeratedly out the door. "Her signal we must always follow!" He disappeared out the entryway as Kelikka and I shared an exasperated look. Other guildmates sitting around the room in private chats waved to us and wished us luck. A lot of them had asked to go, but I wanted to ensure their safety first. If there were any bugs in the area it was our responsibility to warn the admins at CC Corp (short for CyberConnect Corporation) so that our friends would be safe in the area once debugged.
__________We approached the Chaos Gate. To warp to an area or field, you had to input three words from a pool of existing nouns and adjectives. Each combination led to a unique place with a previewable monster level and corresponding element. People were still discovering that new combinations led to new places that had never been explored every single day. It was my Guild's job to search for special places like this named 'Lost Grounds.' These places were left from a previous and unfinished part of the game called 'fragment,' and CC Corp didn't take them down on the grounds that the areas were normally the safest places one could visit outside the root towns. They held many things such as ruins, temples, churches, lakes, and forests. But each Lost Ground was much smaller than a normal area, and there were never any monsters. Weapons could be drawn there, but people mostly came just to admire their mystic beauty and wonder what the structures might've once stood for.
I input the coordinates starting with the two keywords 'Hidden' and 'Forbidden.' All Lost Grounds were in a Hidden Forbidden setting; one simply had to figure out what the third keyword was in order to discover one. But across all the servers and all the languages spoken...there were a LOT of words. "Our new discovery is at Hidden Forbidden Waterfall," I told the two of them, inputting the code. Our party was engulfed in a swirl of blue light and when I opened my eyes again we were there. It was the top of a giant limestone temple with the setting sun casting an orange glow over the space. A single bridge led out from under the small dome held up by pillars that housed the swirling metal-ringed Chaos Gate. The bridge seemed to hover over nothing and lead to nowhere. A sheer drop faced it all around, and waterfalls pounded down from somewhere high above and made it impossible to tell where we were. The lower portion of the temple was shrouded in mist caused by the cascade, and there was no way to access it from where we were atop the structure. I walked out onto the bridge, my coppery-brown armor glinting in the setting sun. Time was at a standstill here, and the sun would forever glow orange as it tried to endlessly meet the waters before they fell.
"Whoa...This place is beautiful..." Kelikka stared in openmouthed wonder as she walked across the bridge. She looked down over the edge and shouted something unintelligable, perhaps to hear her own echo.
Gruff pulled out his staff and tapped the ground and sides of the dome, searching for any abnormal sounds that could mean hidden passages. I walked to the end of the bridge as Kelikka kept rushing around in an excited buzz. When I'd first discovered this place, I was transfixed by the waterfall. The light played on it in a way that had made me think I was actually seeing images of something. As I approached the sheer water once more, my heart began to race, and a feeling of intense unease spread across my mind like a dark hand covering my eyes. I could almost glimpse something there again. Gazing deeply into the water, I took a step forward so that I might see it more clearly. There was...a dark figure there, wielding some kind of long weapon. It glowed with a murderous ruddy light as it swung, and scores of figures fell before its might like so many puppets having their strings severed by the hands of the puppeteer. Lifeless they lay as the thing set its eyes on me. I had seen this creature before in the first version of The World when I was young. I had seen it destroy anything in its path without feeling, ever pressing onward as though seeking something...or someone.
I turned away from the stare of its intelligent red eyes, but I could still feel them boring into my back. The feeling of unease only worsened though, and I suddenly realized that it had not come from the images in the water at all. "Gruff! Kelikka! Get behind me right NOW!" I yelled, pulling out my weapons. Two crescent daggers appeared in my hands, showcasing my affiliation as a Twin Blade class of character. I hated to resort to violence, but whatever was coming did not share this sentiment. I'd never had an intuition like this before, but I could feel my old instincts as a PKK coming back to me. I had once made a strong reputation for myself hunting down Player Killers as a Player Killer-Killer, but starting my Guild was meant to distance me from that. Only Kelikka and Gruffen knew of that darker part of me, and I had hoped to keep it buried. My daggers sang with violence as they remembered cutting down my foes in the name of some kind of misplaced glory. I rarely drew them these days. I preferred spells to their alluring ease of cutting, and my allies knew I was serious immediately when they saw them.
I could feel the eyes behind me still, assessing my actions as the Chaos Gate shed blue light onto the bridge. Three players walked out and squared off with us, smiling with pleasure at finding the three of us here alone. "And I thought I'd have an entire entourage to slaughter..." the leader grinned, sharp teeth flashing in the orange light. Her skin was pale white with jagged black tattoos that had always reminded me of broken glass. Choppy silver hair tufted around her shoulders and her armor was red as a rose with as many sharp points to compare. Her silvery eyes bored into mine as she drew her own dual blades, her party members doing the same. I didn't know who they were, but I knew this woman all too well. We had once been partners, and her love for bloodshed had almost made me lose sight of the potential for justice in this lawless world.
"What do you want, Zena?"
Thank you so much X3 I'm incredibly proud of this story so far: I've been having a rough time with my muse of late, and I was hoping that finally bringing a REALLY OLD character of mine back to life would help inspire me. I've never used Kimra in this setting before, but no matter what story she's in she's always got her 2 daggers.Chibi, you made my night. I absolutely can't wait to read the second half! To think Kimra was a former PKK and has to face off her old partner is both intense and exciting! I love the new World they're in. Especially knowing they're on the look out for bugs/glitches/anomalies too. And I really like how you described everything so well without interrupting the flow of the story. The chemistry of the characters so far are awesome too. If you ever decide to write more of this in the future, you know I'll read it in a heart beat! <3
The woman chuckled, gazing wistfully down the slender sides of her twin daggers. They were completely black; shaped like long and pointed triangles with sets of hooks coming out the sides. I'd seen what they did to her foes. Many players had been cut down by those blades in our time together, and yet still...having them trained on me was not a feeling I was unfamiliar with. I didn't know who her lackeys were, but I assumed they weren't just here following her orders blindly. Zena was an expert liar and could craft a story to make a mother give up her child, but even an idiot could see that she wasn't here to simply have a nice 'chat.'
"Is that any way to greet an old friend, Kim?" she sneered, lowering her swords. Her allies seemed confused by this, but they followed her lead and their weapons angled towards the limestone path. Kelikka and Gruffen remained poised by my side and wary of any tricks, but I gestured they do the same. We all laid our arms at our sides, but we were far from calm. "I just came to join the party."
"It's not like the Lost Grounds belong to anyone, so I'm not stopping you," I said tersely.
She stalked up to me. Not wanting her too close to my allies, I met her in the middle. The waterfalls roared all around us and the sheer drop on the side of the bridge reminded me of how my heart also felt like it was plummeting down into the dark waters below. "Feeling a bit tense, aren't we?" she snickered. Suddenly her face turned serious, and she leaned in next to my PC and whispered, "Don't think you'll get off as easily as last time." She stepped back, smiling once more. The air seemed charged. Gesturing out to the grand waterfalls, she yelled for all to hear, "My offer today is pretty simple!" Her blade pointed at me. "Kimra will come with us back to Kestrel. There's some friends of ours there who would like to have a...word with her."
"And if I refuse?"
Her gaze caught my friends and my grip tightened on my daggers. "Any interference from you and I'll make sure you won't leave this place alive. Trust me kids: once I'm through with you? You won't want to log back in."
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was one thing to be killed in an online game. You could always come back later and try again. But a lot of victims of PK-ing stopped playing afterwards because of the various kinds of emotional trauma. Some people are hounded by a single PK for days until they quit. For some, the manner of their death is traumatic enough to keep them away for quite some time. "Don't you threaten them," I snarled. With a flash of light and rush of air my blade came up to her neck in a silver arc.
She seemed shocked for a moment, eyes widening. Then her smile returned and she pointed her black dagger at my own neck. "Last time you won the day," she said quietly. Her voice suddenly filled with anger, face contorted in fury as she spat the next words like venom, "I was left for dead and you betrayed me! I'm going to make sure you never forget what it felt like!" Her blades spun down, clashing against mine in a spark of steel. The look in her eyes was practically gleeful.
"You betrayed me!" I raged, swinging my swords to attack once more. She knew she could rile me up easily enough by making me remember. "You lied! You said they weren't innocent!" She parried my thrusts and created her own avenues of attack; the silver steel of my blades flashing against the obsidian of her own. It was almost as if we were dancing in the center of the bridge. My vision narrowed until I could only think of how much I wanted to kill her. "You said what we were doing was the right thing!"
Her blades hooked mine and she pulled me in close. "Of course I did!" she smiled. We pulled apart and started swinging again, matching each other stroke for stroke. "I never lied! Not once in the time we spent together!"
I kicked her hard and she smacked the ground, rolling back up to her feet in one lithe movement. "You said they were killers!" I charged at her and she grinned hugely. She knew we were both enjoying this. Zena always had a way of drawing out the part of me that enjoyed killing. There was something about the feeling of my blades striking an intelligent opponent. My joy in battle scared me, even now. Back when I first joined the game, I'd met Zena in a field. She helped me defeat a boss I was struggling with, and we partnered up and got the temple treasure together. We became fast friends; always meeting up and challenging bigger and stronger opponents. We made the perfect team.
Then one day, we saw a player attack another. We easily beat them and rescued the victim. I'd never felt so good about any deed I'd ever done, and I thought Zena felt the same. We tracked down PKs on the BBS boards together and rescued their victims. Zena even started up a Guild for us, and after I began high school she took the time to find the targets while I was away. It was amost a year after we'd met by that point. Things was going smoothly, and we had plenty of members join for reasons like 'justice' and 'revenge.' Some simply admired our strength and wanted to be like us. I loved fighting other players, and I was quite skilled at it. The thrill of killing another player knowing you could stop them from committing the act to another...I thought that was why I was staying in The World.
But then one day, the two of us went out on a mission she chose. We easily dispatched our foes, but one of them ran from us. I pursued him through the temple and into the treasure chamber where I cornered him. My blades at the ready, he cowered and begged me not to kill him.
"You brought this on yourself. No one has any right to attack those weaker than them and leave them in fear."
"B-but...I never hurt anyone!" he quivered, holding up his spellbook like a shield. I stopped my advance in shock. Leaving him alive, I sent him away with a warning, believing him to be a liar, but also too weak to threaten anyone.
Zena and I fought later. I confronted her in anger, soon realizing how foolish I'd been to blindly follow our friendship. I hadn't wanted to believe the PC earlier, but his words had been gnawing away at my heart. Zena only confirmed my suspicions of our activities without remorse, and it was apparently no Guild secret. I blamed her...but even then I realized I'd known what was going on in the back of my mind and had chosen to ignore it. We had been PK-ing people who weren't guilty of anything. Breaking my trust and turning me into the very thing that I thought I'd been saving others from all that time...
We fought. And I destroyed Zena. Magmell - the great stone dragon who floated in the background of Hidden Forbidden Battlefield - was the only witness. They say Man had wished for one thing during the fight that left that Lost Ground a scarred ruin, and that was the power to turn their true terror, Magmell the dragon, to stone. Petrified forever he wrapped himself atop a temple in the sky. The rumor was that you could make a wish of your own if you got to the temple...but there was no passage to it anywhere in the game. I had a different wish.
I cut Zena down and left her there with no one to help her. I broke her like glass, severing our friendship and defeating her out of spite. My wish after that day had been to petrify my true fear of myself; turn it to stone within me and let it sink into the depths never to resurface. I promised that I would become better, that I'd find a way to make up for what I'd done to harm those who hadn't deserved it. As hypocritical as I knew I was, I no longer had the stomach to fight. But seeing Zena again after so long had driven me into a rage. She was the catalyst to my internal torment. Not the source of the blame, but the finger on the trigger.
"How could you betray my trust like that!?" I cried, spinning in an arc and knocking her weapons from her grasp. Her allies cornered Gruffen and Kelikka at the end of the bridge. Kelikka fought beautifully: every move like the dance of someone on a grand stage. Her green armor flashed in the light as she cut down her opponents with almost gentle strokes. Not a single movement was wasted in her flurry of parries and thrusts. She knocked her foe to the ground and ran him through, protecting Gruffen as he cast spells from behind her. A shard of ice impaled the last PK, and he fell to the stones with and audible thump.
Alone and defeated again, Zena sneered at my from where she lay on the ground. "Well? Are you and your little friends going to kill me or not!?"
I shook my head. Seeing my friends protect their own ideals while not interfering with my own past...Something in me had clicked. I held out my hand to her. "Zena, I-"
She smacked it away. "To Hell with your pity! It's all just a game, Kimra! What we do here has no grounds in the real world! Why do you get to act so high and mighty because you feel like you're right when everyone else is wrong!?" I started as I saw a tear run down her PCs face. She shook her head quickly. "I don't need your..." she trailed off, staring behind me. Her eyes widened like saucers and she fell silent, mouth agape. I turned.
There was something coming out of the waterfall. It looked slightly humanoid in shape, but its body was completely black and it was constantly shifting certain aspects of its form. One moment it had two arms and a leg, the next it had three wings and a tail. A glowing purple eye pinned its gaze on my friends, who stood ramrod straight, completely immobilized by shock. The only one to try and act was Zena. She scrambled to her feet and ran for the Chaos Gate, all the recent events forgotten in her mad dash to escape. The thing caught her movements and extended a slimy black limb towards her, extending it at an insane speed. The edge was sharp.
I stood over Zena as she lie on the ground again, a look of sheer terror on her face. I was leaning into the Gate with my arms spread over her like an arch. In my shadow, I could see data fragmenting. Normally when a PC dies, it's similar to reality. There's game setting that let you adjust how graphic it is though, that way no one has to feel pressured to see the morbidity. But this was different. The thing withdrew its dark appendage from my back, ripping something with a glowing blue light from my PC. I fell to the ground next to Zena as she sat up. Realizing what happened, she used a warp scroll and rescued my friends before anything else could happen to us. She tried using one on me but it wasn't seeming to work.
"You're not...a bad person...you know..." I said to her, smiling. I coughed. Something was wrong with my real-world self. My vision blurred.
"Kimra! What's going on!? What do I do!?" she panicked, the thing looking her way again.
I staggered upright, lifting my blades to my sides, gaping hole in my PCs chest. "Run. And don't come back this time." I charged the creature as she warped out in a flash of blue. The thing held its ground and hit me again well before I could strike it.
I fell from my desk, M2D spinning onto the ground and shattering into pieces.