- Based on the MMORPG Shocklander
The bomber plane was flying low, heading towards the bridge. The bombs it had dropped made the few boats in the strait below either sink or flee. The pilot wasn't too good with planes, and he would have landed sooner, but all these kills had been getting him quite a few points for the ScoreBoard. Unfortunately, it had taken a few rounds of its own. I knew I had to land it soon.
A couple cannon rounds finished the job for me. Two engines broke right off, and the others were almost in the same condition. I couldn't land in the water if I wanted to survive and stay in the game, so I pulled up as best as I could, and turned towards the half-circle tower on my left, one of the only four buildings on the Bridge Map. Of course, my angle of approach was all wrong, but hey, that's life for you. Or, in this case, Virtual life.
Somehow, thanks to my amazing virtual skills, I landed safely on the roof. Sort of. My plane didn't make it: it screeched its way off the building after I jumped out, and fell into the sea. And crashed into a boat. Great, more points. And, anyhow, this roof was a perfect sniping spot. Most people probably thought I was dead (it was common knowledge that I couldn't pilot a plane). With the luck I'd been having for the past two hours, I might have made it to TopScore in all of Manhattan, but I doubted it (a lot. I was good, but many people were better. Very many). I looked up and around, making sure there were no planes or heli's, and crawled to the edge of the roof.
Below me was a great sight. I could see the whole bridge and strait, with clear views of the other three buildings. Nothing looked Virtual at all. I remember when VR first came out. Everything still looked digital. But now, the mental graphics were so amazing. The game I was playing, Shocklanders, had been around from even before VR, near the turn of the century on the computers. It only became popular recently, but it was always a great game. The goal was basically to kill your opponents, at the time, the bullets only being mimicked, harmless (although they could be made dangerous, convincing your mind that you're dead). The times you killed people and the times you were killed were subtracted and gave you a score, which could be compared at Burough, City, County, Region, Country, Continent, and World levels (seven in all).
I used a couple missiles, shooting at an APC (missing both), and realized my launcher was empty, and I had used all of my shocketts while replenishing my health. I sighed, knowing that bullets would miss at such a high altitude. I tried to think of a way off the roof, knowing that jumping would make me lose a point, and restart at the lobby. Then came my salvation. All of a sudden, a round of bullets dented the cement floor beside me, missing me by a foot. I turned to see a mini-jet flying straight for me. I looked at my enpty missile launcher.
My machine gun did no good, at all. Thank god this game's painless, I thought, for the millionth time. Even from a distance, I could see the jet changing its weapon from bullets to missiles. So much for being lucky. Or so I thought. A familiar, deafening sound came up from behind me. A bladeless, jet-propulsed helicopter. I assumed it was just another guy wanting to steal a kill. I was wrong about that.
First of all, the moment the heli' rose to an altitude level with me, it fired two rockets, which went past me, and hit the jet, obliterating it into smoke. Second of all, it didn't kill me after, but turned, making the open side face me. A black-haired girl was piloting the helicopter, and waved for me to come.
"Teams?" she said. Teaming's a major part of the game, where two players (obviously) help eachother kill more, and get killed less. Of course, people didn't usually save someone else, but hey, everyone's different.
"Of course!" I replied. I couldn't really refuse without getting killed. I hopped in, and strapped myself in the shotgun seat. Then, with a second thought, unstrapped myself. You never know when you have to jump out of a vehicule. Meanwhile, the girld piloting made a sharp right turn, and went back towards the bridge.
"Name's Jade." she said, without looking away from the windshield, with a sort of smile on her face.
"Joey. Heh, that's funny, we're both J's." she didn't seem to appreciate my annoying sense of humour, but she nodded her head, confirming my name, I guess. And, then, all of a sudden, she looked at me seriously and asked "What do you think about the violence of this game?"
Now, that completely took me by surprise. I hadn't had guessed that she would ask that (I don't think most people would), and it kind of baffled me. She seemed to see my bewilderment.
"Sorry. Journalist. Writing an article on in-game violence." She said. She apparently had no love of pronouns.
"Oh, well, in that case, I think this is an awful game. No one should play it. Killing and bombing and all that. No fun at all." I proclaimed, sticking my nose up arrogantly. I continued seriously. "You don't have to play a game to talk about its violence, you know." But I was still interested. Who knows, maybe I could have gotten my name in a NewsWeb. "What Site do you work for?"
She made a small, almost unnoticable laugh. "None, I'm with the New York times. Jade Joneston? Never heard of me?."
"I'm sorry, I don't read the works of tree killers. Paper-waster. I'm going to jump out of this vehicule right now..." I looked out the side and noticed the drop. "Nevermind." I looked out again, and shot a few rounds at a jeep. "Are you gonna play, or not?" She looked as if she was going to say something, when everything went black. I couldn't see or hear anything. I didn't feel like I was sitting on a hard helicopter seat. Actually, I didn't feel anything at all.
You know, it was a really strange feeling, being in that darkness. There was nothing, nothing to see, hear, feel. I thought I was dead. This had never happened to me before. I started panicking, as best I could. I couldn't really breath quickly or run around in circles, since I didn't exist, but in my mind (which apparently was nowhere) I started thinking about all the awful possibilities. But it didn't last long.
"Joey? Wake up!" said a voice. And all of a sudden, I could see again. I didn't dare open my eyes, but I knew I could see again because I could see the little colourful spots of light you see when your eyes are closed.
"Joey, wake the hell up!" said the voice again, while the hands that belonged to the same person as the voice were shaking my shoulders. I opened my eyes, panicking. I was ready to scream, but the face I saw calmed me. It was Leo, a friend of mine that worked at the VR station. Which was where I was.
"Damn it, Joey, you took longer than most of them to wake up." said Leo. At first, I didn't understand, but I looked around, and other people were being awoken in their VR seats. All the helmets were taken off, including mine.
"What happened?" I asked, standing up, brushing myself off, as if there were dust.
"Oh, just a black-out. The generator's up, but someone must have accidentally closed a switch. The Virtual worlds are down, but you can come back tomorrow, alright?" he said. I nodded, as we walked out of the hook-up room. Leo stopped at a wall-computer.
"Hey, look, you made seventeenth in Manhattan." he said. I couldn't help but smile. It was my best score in three months.
"Thanks. Leo, could I see that thing for a sec?" I asked him. He said sure, and I went to the wall. I closed the Shocklander's TopScore window, and opened the Guestbook, a list of people who had been in the building for the past hour (all buildings had this recently installed, to keep track of where everyone was). I searched for Jade Joneston, but she must have been at a different post in the city. I closed the computer, waved good-bye to Leo, exited out onto 34th street, and took the subway at the 34th Street/Herald Square Station. I got off at 72nd (next to Central Park), and made my way home.
I remember having bad dreams. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I just know I had nightmares. I woke up, not remembering the dreams, but I nevertheless got dressed and went to work. I'm actually a technician (in regular computers, not VR), and since VR has taken a major role on society, almost replacing computers, I had a small work day, allowing me to play Shocklanders as often as I want (don't worry, I don't wreck my brain playing ten hours a day like some people do. That might explain why I'm so low on the TopScore Boards.) My boss gave me a difficult day, complaining that I was slow with a repair (it was an old Vista-powered computer. Absolutely worthless), but I managed to finally fix it before my four hour day was done. After that, I did my routine, going for a long walk around Central Park, eating dinner, then going back to the VR station. I entered the large double doors, through which scanners identified me for the Guestbook and confirmed my balance account, and headed to the hook-up room. I looked around for Leo, but he wasn't around, so I got someone else to hook me to the metal chair. The metal helmet came down over me, the wires attached themselves to the healthchecker, and the view disappeared. I entered the lobby.
The lobby's a very different place then it was when this was just a computer game. It isn't just the place to enter six maps (and now there are around fifty maps). There was also a "locker" area, where you can change your outfit (the outfits don't give any protection or damage bonus, it's merely for show), and another place where you can use shocketts to get new outfits. There was a tutorial room for new players, and a waiting area for people who were waiting for a favorite map to have an empty slot. I just headed for one of the maps.
The Industrial map is one of the six Originals, along with the Bridge and four others. While the Bridge is only a bridge and four buildings, the Industrial is pretty much a whole city. I brown, dusty, industrial city like it's name suggests. I went there for a change in scenery.
I appeared in a random place. The worst possible spot. I was on a roof of a low building. Too low to be a good sniper, too high to jump off of any but one of the four sides (the only side low enough to jump off of appeared to have a lot of enemies) and very vulnerable from the air. No vehicules either. I decided to jump. Luckily, no one noticed me. Everyone was avoiding everyone else (and it seemed to be working. I didn't see one shot hit anyone). But there was something strange. The rockets and bullets created bigger dents then usual. Must be a glitch, I thought. I entered a dark alley between two higher buildings.