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  1. #1
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Default The Griefers. [My NaNoWriMo novel] [First Draft]

    Somehow it only just occurred to me to post this here.

    Since DQ has limits on posting text and I don't actually want to go back and reformat a whole bunch of writing for the forums in one sitting, I'm going to post chapters on a semiregular basis.

    This is not yet edited, so it's a bit rough.




    Here we go!!!











    This is why I’m doing this right now
    LOADING PROLOGUE
    PROLOGUE LOADED



    HEROES OR LIARS?
    Six residents of the former City 135 are said to have redeemed the world. Could it be that they ravaged it first?

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the six heroes of City 135 and their heroic deeds to defeat the Party Box. I’m sure you’ve heard of the two siblings who were divided when one of them sacrificed everything to complete the deed. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors of their escape from the artificial mansions and their run through military fortresses.

    Have you heard, then of the rumor that none of this happened? A document made available last week, on the 5th, included listings for Party Box donor tiers, and when I received a photocopy of it on my desk, the highlighted words ‘Tier 10 Donor’ jumped out at me. This was marked on each of the six heroes.

    A closer inspection of similar documents revealed that all five of their friends who helped them, including the brothers, were at some point administrative officials under the Party Box. None of these officials have been tried for the crimes against humanity committed under their authority. The six heroes’ positions in the Party Box before the end are unknown, but it is known that they have been seen frequently on Party Box community servers, speaking in friendly terms with administrators and moderators there.

    The story of these so-called ‘heroes’ needs to be examined very closely and thoroughly to find out just what their role in the function of the Party Box was, and if they are further implicated they must be brought to trial for their crimes against humanity. We have not forgotten the horror of the arenas or the inhumane treatment by the moderators.


    She scrolls a bit further down. Surely this is just more conspiracy theorizing, right? The article already has over ten thousand likes. Something is horribly wrong here. She and those around her only want peace.

    It’s late and she needs sleep. She’ll talk with Liam tomorrow, but not now. She dismissed the messages from her friends about the idea of playing some midnight Minecraft and went to get a glass of water before bed. Tomorrow was almost guaranteed to be a very long day.


    She hoped that at the very least they’d be able to come up with a good plan.

  2. #2
    Apostolic Moderator Diplomacy Domination VictoryOne Time Chess ChampionDiplomacy Domination Victory Varthonai's Avatar
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    You alternate between past and present in the same narrative block ("She'll talk with Liam", "She dismissed"). Pick a tense and keep it consistent. I am intrigued though, it's a decent prologue.

    also you win best villain team name for "The Party Box"

  3. #3
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    I have a story to tell you.
    LOADING CHAPTER 1
    CHAPTER 1 LOADED



    Griefing is impossible to eliminate. The Party Box’s strict moderators could crack down as much as they wanted. It would always find a way to run rampant. Such is the nature of the beast. I for one had no love for griefers. When the Party Box announced their very strict anti-griefing policy, I almost celebrated, until they ruined that by announcing it would also apply to single-player gaming.

    Of course, I had even less respect for the Party Box and the administrators who operated it. I was only eight years old when their flag first waved over a real city in 2017. By the year 2020, when I was eleven, Washington D.C. folded and the Party Box claimed the last independent country. They had halted the progression of society entirely. It was now early December of 2031 and our gaming quality hadn’t changed since I was a kid. Barely any new games had been released, and those that had were only available to the wealthy.

    Even the real world, the one inhabited by people who leave their houses for fun, had ground to a halt under the influence of the Party Box. In fact, in most ways it got worse. Since they ran their gaming community with a pay to win mentality, they introduced donation tiers to the real world. You give them money, they give you toys. I was not a donor at all – I couldn’t possibly afford it. The world was in poverty.

    The money had gone into ridiculous projects. The Party Box was a gaming community, so they had interesting ideas of what they wanted the world to be like. Everyone, donor or not, had a cheap computer installed in their homes. I used to have a laptop with Steam on it. Steam was illegal now. I couldn’t afford to slip up using their machine. They monitor it closely. I am a gamer, and to the extent that it was possible, I was a gamer even before the Party Box was in control of my life, so their restrictions bothered me more than a bit.

    I lived in one of their ’16-bit cities.’ Taking a page from Half-Life 2, they relocated the civilian population to numerically named cities in unknown locations. City 135, block 240, building 13, room 235. My apartment address was: 135.240.13.235. This was just the start.

    I sat down today, in my cold, gray apartment at the huge, worthless box of a computer they had left me with. It was multiple decades old in its design. The very wealthy could afford the new computers being invented, on the basis of their ridiculously high donor tier. The games that those were able to run were so advanced I wouldn’t be allowed to play them if I had the money. Every gamer in this new world dreams of being a high enough donor tier to play Half-Life 3.

    The fans in the tower whirred to life and the small room was flooded with the light from the monitor, which was too cold to form a clear image. I poured myself a glass of water and waited for the image to come into focus. Eventually the login prompt was readable and I typed in my issued password. A pixelated image of the Party Box flag – a crudely drawn silhouette of a phallus against a background of many guns – briefly displayed on the screen and faded to my desktop, the background of which I had changed to one of my drawings of a stick figure being silly.

    I was on a watch list. I was branded a former griefer. I didn’t grief. I liked to escape the levels to explore the half-built world outside. Was that such a crime? Apparently, yes. I couldn’t play on private servers anymore.
    Today I didn’t have plans. I didn’t really have friends. I knew some people around the building, but most of them were afraid of getting to know me. Too much risk, being friends with a watched man. I idly stared at my desktop, not sure of exactly what I should be doing. My work day was over. I had nothing else on my plate, really. In boredom, my mouse drifted over the Half-Life 2 Deathmatch icon and double-clicked. I like these older styles of shooter.

    The Valve logo didn’t show. Instead, an official Party Box warning: You are playing a game created by an enemy of the state. Any sign of complacency with their cause will result in a ban.

    A fucking ban. They couldn’t just call it a prison sentence, or at least a detention. It was a ban.

    Out of the dozens of official Party Box servers accessible in City 135, only four actually had people playing. The rest were probably filled with bots. I chose one with four of twelve slots filled.

    Players Online:

    AndromedaPancake

    DangerDangerDangerDanger

    xXPartyBoxGurlXx
    Whenever someone puts ‘Gurl’ in their name, I automatically assume they’re a robot.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints

    DeadEye27


    AndromedaPancake was me. The rest were a mystery. I wondered if they ever-

    I Need A New Pair of Paints killed AndromedaPancake with Crossbow

    Right.

    It was a sniper map. A single house lay in the center. Cliffs ringed the map, with different platforms and rooms hidden therein. I don’t snipe well. Close range ambush is my game. I respawned in the house. This map looked like it was made in an older engine. The house was all right angles and low-res textures. I knew the map well though.

    Off to the side was what looked like a cliff wall. There was a secret passage accessible by walking through the wall itself. Immediately inside was SMG ammunition and another hidden passageway, which led to a stockpile of equipment. I held shift to sprint and made a run for the cliff wall.

    DeadEye27 killed AndromedaPancake with .357

    Deadeye27: Jeez man

    AndromedaPancake: I’m not great in distance combat.

    Deadeye27: I can tell

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: well this is a sniper map

    xXPartyBoxGurlXx: Buy Tier 2 Donor benefits today! Get spray permissions, glow effects, and more!

    AndromedaPancake: I knew it!

    DangerDangerDangerDanger killed xXPartyBoxGurlXx with Grenade

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: Nice.


    I respawned in a pile of very basic cubic crates on a platform above some small houses. Unfortunately for me, they weren’t physical actors, so I couldn’t move them. They would have made great shields. There used to be a way out of the map here, but the Party Box sealed it up. I crouched and made my way around the corner. INANPoP (?) was right there.

    AndromedaPancake: Boo.

    AndromedaPancake killed I Need A New Pair of Paints with Crowbar

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: well ill be damned


    I took INANPoP’s crossbow. Something moved at the upper corner of my screen. Someone in an open hole in the cliff face was taking aim. I hopped back behind my crate pile as a .357 shot rang out. A little bullet hole decal appeared in the cliff wall. I scoped on the spot and took a quick shot. DeadEye27, since I assumed that was him, ducked back into the tunnels before the bolt could reach him. I jumped back behind cover.

    DeadEye27: Pfffffft

    I scrolled over to ‘grenade’ in my weapon list. I had just one. I jumped up and threw it over my boxes towards his vantage point. The grenade hit the wall above the hole and fell away from him. Damn it. A distant explosion signaled my failure.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: you did that wrong

    DeadEye27: No shit

    AndromedaPancake: It was worth a try.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: youre supposed to grab the grenade with your gravity gun and shoot it at them

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: it makes aiming a lot easier

    AndromedaPancake: Whenever I try that, it just blows up in my face.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: XD

    xXPartyBoxGurlXx: Remember – Online griefing is punishable by bans of up to 5 years!

    DeadEye27 killed xXPartyBoxGurlXx with .357


    Bad move, DeadEye.

    AndromedaPancake killed DeadEye27 with Crossbow

    DeadEye27: Some reward I get

    AndromedaPancake: To be fair, you walked into that one.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger killed I Need A New Pair of Paints with Grenade

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: Boo.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints killed AndromedaPancake with Stunstick


    I was back in the house. My objective was within reach. I hit shift and sprinted it. No shot rang out. I made it. I picked up all of the SMG ammo and looked in my weapons loadout. Turned out I did actually spawn with an SMG.

    SERVER CHANGES MAP: 10 MINUTES

    I started to move to the next secret pathway, but stopped. I stepped back a few feet and sprayed the entrance with bullets. A triple explosion confirmed my fears. A S.L.A.M trap.

    AndromedaPancake: Hey hey.

    I hopped into the tunnel. A few shitty trusses gave the illusion of holding up the ceiling and at the end there was a large hole in the ground. I sprinted the length of the tunnel. The hole opened into a metal corridor with a long ladder leading down. I held my SMG at the ready and slid my way down. No-one greeted me at the bottom. Good news.

    I walked down the last metal tunnel and approached the door leading to the weapons cache, switching to my one grenade. Before turning the corner of the door, I tossed it in and it bounced off of the doorframe, rolling perfectly into the room. A fraction of a second later there was a thud and the grenade shot out of the doorway into the hallway. I backpedaled and it exploded. My health dropped to 50 and the ‘ears ringing’ sound played for a moment.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: hey hey

    He had the supply cache, so he’d already have suit armor and full health. I switched to my SMG again and charged. The grenade launcher on the SMG blasted the room to pieces and the bullets finished the job.

    AndromedaPancake killed DangerDangerDangerDanger with SMG

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: nice


    The supplies were scattered all over the room by the explosions. I ran in mad circles, vacuuming up health kits, ammunition, and new weapons.

    xXPartyBoxGurlXx: Sign up for a real-world challenge today! Some application offices in your city are: 135.130.37.148, 135.240.9.190, and 135.28.14.129!

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: This is really getting old.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints killed xXPartyBoxGurlXx with AR2 ball

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: Does anyone actually sign up for those?

    AndromedaPancake: I see a lot of people coming to the office on my block, usually. I think they WANT to mow each other down with guns.

    DeadEye27: Amateurs

    DeadEye27: They aren’t nearly skilled enough

    DeadEye27: They probably all died against robots

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: I wouldn’t mind signing up for the Minecraft stuff.

    AndromedaPancake: That costs a lot of money, and you have to be like tier 6 donor.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: i want to go to the minecraft one

    DeadEye27: You want to blow up the Minecraft one

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: who doesnt?

    SERVER CHANGES MAP: 5 MINUTES

    TauTaco has joined the game

    TauTaco is connecting from an unlisted location!

    TauTaco is a registered griefer! The Party Box will reward anyone who has information regarding their location!

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: Here comes trouble.

    TauTaco: Hellloooo my friends!

    TauTaco: /warn tautaco

    TauTaco is a registered griefer! The Party Box will reward anyone who has information regarding their location!

    TauTaco: I love reading that.


    I had never seen the /warn command before.

    AndromedaPancake: Wait, do you guys all know each other?

    TauTaco: /warn andromedapancake

    AndromedaPancake is a listed former griefer! If you see any suspicious activity from them, notify a moderator IMMEDIATELY!

    AndromedaPancake: Asshole.

    TauTaco: Just making sure.

    TauTaco: /locat andromedapancake

    AndromedaPancake lives at 135.240.13. 235.

    AndromedaPancake: /locat tautaco

    This command is reserved for moderators and up!

    AndromedaPancake: Um?

    TauTaco: lol

    TauTaco: I’m pretty good at what I do.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: here we go again

    AndromedaPancake: Now that I think of it

    AndromedaPancake: Are the rest of you griefers?

    TauTaco: We’re all in the same room.

    AndromedaPancake: I’m about to get visited by mods, aren’t I?

    TauTaco: Right, their little watch list.


    A blue light blinked at the top of my computer screen. That was the webcam turning on. I slowly backed away from my computer. The only people with remote access to my webcam are moderators. The frame rate on my game took a brief hit.

    TauTaco: You should know better than to leave your game unattended.

    TauTaco killed AndromedaPancake with Crowbar

    DeadEye27: Showoff


    The webcam blinked again, indicating that it had powered down. The computer’s tower made a funny sound.

    TauTaco: And now we’re off the cameras again.

    TauTaco: You use those muscles for anything, Pancake?

    AndromedaPancake: I am profoundly unsettled by this exchange.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: He’s always this creepy.

    AndromedaPancake: I work in assembly.

    AndromedaPancake: That’s all.

    TauTaco: Hey. Cameras are off.

    AndromedaPancake: There’s this place on block 241.

    TauTaco: Oh god.

    AndromedaPancake: Nonono. You know that the Party Box made martial training illegal for civilians?

    TauTaco: Say no more.


    I ran down to the supply cache and blew up TauTaco.

    AndromedaPancake killed TauTaco with SMG Grenade

    Once again, all of the supplies were scattered all over the floor and again I had to run around vacuuming it all up. I got everything except for a couple of S.L.A.Ms on the floor. Wait.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger: hey hey

    DangerDangerDangerDanger killed AndromedaPancake with S.L.A.M

    DangerDangerDangerDanger:

    TauTaco: *high fives*

    SERVER CHANGES MAP: 1 MINUTE

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: 135.231.15.130

    TauTaco has left the game.

    DangerDangerDangerDanger has left the game.

    DeadEye27: Seeya ‘round, Liam.


    How the hell did he know my name?

    DeadEye27 has left the game.

    AndromedaPancake: Um?

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: Mods.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints killed xXPartyBoxGurlXx with Stunstick

    I Need A New Pair of Paints has left the game.

    xXPartyBoxGurlXx: Buy Tier 2 Donor benefits today! Get spray permissions, glow effects, and more!


    I sat there for a while, a bit dazed by what had just happened. Eventually, I got my shit together and wrote down the address they left for me. 135.231.15.130. I’d have to visit that later.

    DeadlyArcher[mod] joined the game.

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: you with the griefers?

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: /warn andromedapancake

    AndromedaPancake is a listed former griefer! If you see any suspicious activity from them, notify a moderator IMMEDIATELY!

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: /locat andromedapancake

    AndromedaPancake lives at 135.240.13.235.

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: Mmhmm.

    DeadlyArcher[mod] killed AndromedaPancake with Crossbow

    DeadlyArcher[mod] has left the game.



    Shit.

  4. #4
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varthonai View Post
    You alternate between past and present in the same narrative block ("She'll talk with Liam", "She dismissed").
    Oh shit. The prologue was actually the last thing I wrote and by then, after a month of pretty much nonstop writing, I was not really paying much attention to what I typed. Thanks for catching that.

  5. #5
    Formerly Big Boom Avver's Avatar
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    Interesting premise and an enjoyable read.

  6. #6
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Thanks! I'm afraid the writing isn't quite what I would have hoped for it to be in some places.

    If I can edit it into something better, I'd really hope to get it into publishing shape. I even have a cover for it.



    I think I'm going to try to upload a bit more tonight to keep the ball rolling.

    Also, Varth, the Party Box is on Steam, but I don't really have any plans for making any actual stuff out of it.

  7. #7
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    In retrospect, this conversation is really Equius/Nepeta, isn't it...

    She was actually as a character just supposed to be creeping him out with flirtations. This intermission is something I'll have to rewrite before I take a stab at getting this published.

    LOADING CHAPTER 2
    LOAD OPERATION FAILED
    WOULD YOU LIKE TO LOAD AN INTERMISSION?
    /Y
    LOADING INTERMISSION 1
    INTERMISSION 1 LOADED

    TauTaco: /locat catswhisker

    CatsWhisker could not be found!

    TauTaco: /warn catswhisker

    CatsWhisker is a registered griefer! The Party Box will reward anyone who has information regarding their location!

    CatsWhisker: Youre allowed to just ask

    TauTaco: What can I say?

    TauTaco: I’m a showoff.

    CatsWhisker: *laughs and wiggles tail*

    TauTaco: Stop that.

    CatsWhisker: *bats your leg with my paw*

    TauTaco: Whenever you’re finished.

    CatsWhisker: Heehee

    TauTaco: I’m here to talk business.

    TauTaco: You live on block 240, right?

    CatsWhisker: Down the hall from the arena office

    TauTaco: You never told me that. Damn.

    CatsWhisker: Im getting out soon

    CatsWhisker: They actually came to my door the other day!

    TauTaco: I need you to check someone out for me.

    CatsWhisker: Who?

    TauTaco: He didn’t give us a name. Look for AndromedaPancake.

    TauTaco: 135.240.13. 235

    TauTaco: We accidentally got him into trouble with the mods.

    TauTaco: James accidentally switched off our server and it jumped back onto them hosting.

    TauTaco: They think he’s with us.

    TauTaco: Like it or not, we’re about to be stuck with him.

    TauTaco: We sent him to the old hideout.

    CatsWhisker: Oh for the love of

    CatsWhisker: *annoyedly claws at your foot*

    TauTaco killed CatsWhisker with Stunstick

    TauTaco: No.

    CatsWhisker: Ill help you out

    CatsWhisker: But only because of that thing in counter strike

    CatsWhisker: Meow!

    CatsWhisker has left the game.

    TauTaco: Don’t remind me.

    TauTaco: Damn it.
    Last edited by Ducky; February 9th, 2014 at 04:09 AM.

  8. #8
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    This and Chapter 3 are the worst that I can remember. I hadn't yet found the rythm and pace of a novel at all.

    Also the thing with Rosa. Reading it again, her personality seems way different than what I thought I was writing at the time. Gaaaaaah

    I think I’ll try this again.
    LOADING CHAPTER 2
    CHAPTER 2 LOADED


    I knocked twice on the door, then three quick raps. I didn’t know if there was a password to the door at 135.231.15.130, but it was better safe than sorry. The door didn’t open.

    “Hello? Is anyone in there? TauTaco? Paints?”

    “They wouldn’t come here.”

    A young woman, about five foot eight, brunette, probably around 25, with a t-shirt that read, ‘I’m the cat’s meow!’ and had a cat on it stood just down the hall.

    “And which one of them are you?” I asked. Was this a trap?

    “Me? I’m none of them. I’m here to kill you.” Yeah, definitely a trap.

    I raised my fists. “Stay back! I am combat trained!” I goddamn fucking knew it!

    She laughed and put her hands out, empty. “I love that line. I used it on Jacob when we brought him in. No, no, I’m just pulling you off the mods’ radar for a while.”

    My face turned red and I lowered my fists. “Sorry about that. I got into some trouble with the mods last night.”

    “Why do you think I’m here? This was a convenient rendezvous site. You should know that most of the griefers you were playing with last night would like to just leave you to your fate. John was the one who decided to help you out.”

    “And I assume there’s a catch.”

    She stood there and looked me over. “You think you could be a good griefer?”

    “There’s no such thing as a good griefer.”

    Another laugh. A kind of giggling one that would have been found by most to be attractive, but to me was just irritating. “Maybe not, but we can prioritize.”

    “You talk like you’re some organized group who are really important.”

    “The Party Box tried to make us vanish and in doing so made us important. We are their ultimate foil, no?”

    “Right, whatever.”

    “You could try being grateful. I might be saving your life.”

    And more embarrassment. I hadn’t meant to be so rude.

    “Sorry. And thanks. So what’s the plan here?”

    “First things first, you’re coming with me.”

    And so I did. We left the building and entered the street. City 135 used to be an actual city somewhere, but the landmarks got built over and everything was uniform. The building numbers were painted in huge, white block letters above large garage-style doors that provided entry to each building. Each block was marked in writing on the streets themselves, and no cars drove across these streets. No-one in this part of town was a donor.

    The city is a square, broken into 64 segments. In each of those segments is four blocks. The first segment has blocks 1, 2, 3, and 4, arranged:

    1, 2

    3, 4


    The next segment over would be:

    5, 6

    7, 8


    And on it goes. It is a stupid layout and I hate it. Neither of us were very good at navigating this layout, and it took us forever to reach block 32. Next was the alleys. The blocks are not small. Each contains 64 buildings, each of which was moderately large, with 256 apartment-sized ‘rooms.’ I don’t know what the differences were between all the cities, but this one was huge. Most of the buildings were deep in the block, accessible only through a grid of alleys wide enough to accommodate maybe two of me in a tight squeeze, and I’m only about five eleven, not very heavy. At the entrance to each building, the alleyway widened. Inside the building, you can see where it bends inward. My apartment is on such a wall.

    The widened spot here looked like someone had been playing Garry’s Mod in it. Walls of rusted sheet metal, backed by layers of cinderblocks, covered the other entrance. This one had a similar wall suspended in the air by very sketchy looking pulleys. I hopped through, not wanting to stand under it. There were building entrances on either side, but one was completely sealed over with cinderblocks and sheet metal. A pudgy young man, who balanced his food mass with a degree of muscle mass, probably just turned 20, with curls of red hair, thick-rimmed glasses and a permanent grin, waited at the entrance to the other building – Building 29. He wore a t-shirt with a Minecraft creeper.

    He waved us over and we followed. As I walked through the clearing I noticed the four mounted guns at various strategic points. Those couldn’t have been easy to get.

    Cat-shirt next to me shouted, “Jacob! How’s it been since July?”

    Jacob, clearly thrown off by her attention, stammered out a “good” and led us down the one open hallway. The rest were sealed off. I wondered what everyone else in the building had to do to get around this. Eventually we came to an apartment and Jacob opened the door for us. He followed us in and sat down at one of the handful of computers set up around the edge of the room.

    “Tania! Good to see you again!” A man about my age but at least four inches taller stood in the center of the large room. His black hair was buzzed, his jawline was excellent, he had the stubble of someone who had been to the countryside. He actually looked good.

    Cat-shirt, who I assumed was Tania, ran to the good looking man and hugged him. The man responded by looking tolerant and slowly hugging her back. “John! It’s been… Well, it was August when-“
    “Yes, that happened in August.”

    “But the last time we actually saw each other? Not since July. Why don’t you invite me more often?”
    “The fewer people that come and go, the better.”

    John and Tania continued on this way for some time. Tania continued in her thinly veiled flirtations while John tried to stay professional. I looked around. I could see the planks laid out on the floor and ceiling to make it look a bit more like this was one room, hiding the spots where the walls had been. Someone had really worked on this place.

    “Good, isn’t it?” A man probably closer to thirty, who appeared to be the thin and neckbearded brand of nerd, with longish brown hair and a very pronounced face, spun in his swivel chair to face me. There was a magnum revolver on the counter in front of his computer. “That was mostly Rosa’s work, but I helped a lot, too.” To illustrate how helpful he was, and his superiority in general, he flung his arm out into the air and flexed the pitiful muscles there. I made a show of being intimidated and impressed.

    A girl who looked like she was probably about a year older than me rolled into the room on a swivel chair, and I fell in love instantly. She had long, black hair, blue eyes, and in every way was perfect. Mostly because she rolled into the room on a swivel chair. I saw John smirk briefly and return to his struggle against Tania. The girl, who I assumed was Rosa, said, “Boo,” and rolled over to me, punching me in the arm.

    “Don’t let James scare you, Liam. You’ve gotta be at least twice his size.”

    James rolled his eyes and picked up his revolver. “Do I have to do this demonstration again?”

    “I don’t think you’re going to get the result you got from Jacob,” Rosa said, nudging me and gesturing towards a target at the opposite side of the room with a single bullet hole, dead center of the target.

    John walked over to James and gently eased the revolver out of his hand, placing it on the table. “If you fire that in here again… Just don’t. Now, excuse me, but who here is watching the gate?”

    He looked around the room. James stood up, a full head shorter than me, and walked as close as he dared.

    “Why doesn’t this fucker do it, since we went out of our way to save his sorry ass?” He wielded his words the way a toddler wields a sledgehammer. It sounded more like he was trying to make a show.

    “He’ll have his turn, once we know he can do it right.” That didn’t sound fun. It was cold out. “And since you are so eager to ensure we have someone watching the gate, why don’t you head out there?”

    The two stared each other down and James finally relented, grabbing his coat and seeing himself out, grumbling the whole way, I assumed.

    “How have you guys evaded the mods this long?” I asked, looking at the setup they had.

    John raised his eyebrows. “What’s ‘this long’ to you?”

    “Well, you didn’t build this place overnight. And that setup outside is kind of conspicuous.”

    “We covered our tracks getting here. This block was specifically chosen because it has very poor alley patrols. When one does come, they don’t have equipment. They have to move single file. We just close the gate and they don’t try to figure out what’s on the other side.”

    “No-one comes back to investigate it?”

    John put his hand on my shoulder. “You haven’t spent much time exploring the alleys, have you?” I shook my head. “The alleys are full of bad construction ideas. Ever noticed how none of these buildings have fire escapes? They tried that once and those got in the way. They tried to direct foot traffic in the alleys with signs and those got in the way. They tried to build a bridge between building 23 and building 15 and the one support beam it took got in the way. They tried installing bike racks in the alleys and those got in the way. You can’t spit in the alleys without it getting in the way. No one is surprised to see a weird gate in the alleys. It’s just another aborted project that got in the way.”

    “Oh.” I paused.

    “Rosa took a look at your file and managed to get something sent to an office near here. They confiscated it from you a long time ago. Like it or not, you’re a griefer now. Take a look at the counter.”
    My old laptop, black and unmarked, but unmistakably mine, with the same stupid smiley face sticker on the back, sat on the counter, with an empty swivel chair in front of it.

    “If you’re one of us, you need the right equipment. You see? It’s not all bad. I took a few liberties with it though. It was horribly outdated. If you’re doing something important, we can’t have you lagging.”

    I raised an eyebrow.

    “All of your old files are saved.” I raised my other eyebrow. “Including your Steam installation.”

    “Are Valve’s servers even running?”

    “Apparently. Wherever they went, Valve decided the show had to go on. The Party Box has been looking for them forever with no luck, even though they claim that the company is long gone.”

    “You guys never explained what your deal is.” Did they plan to fight as rebels? Or were they just being particularly organized assholes? “What is your goal here?”

    “There’s a free city in Canada, Liam. Ottawa, I think. The Party Box has been trying for almost a year to get it back now. They’re losing their footing and that’s the perfect time to make a life for ourselves. As a kid, I played on their servers. When they took Sydney in ’17, I didn’t grasp the concept. I was far too young. I kept playing. Minecraft, mostly.”

    “That’s nice.”

    “I met their head admin once. Total scumbag. Even at eight, I could tell that. How he got where he did, I just don’t know. His username was, if I remember correctly, DuckyRoanNubbles. Kicked me for building an ugly house. His was worse.”

    “You’ve started a team of griefers hiding in the alleys because the man who took over the world kicked you out of his Minecraft game?”

    “Would you let me finish? Did you not notice that nobody, not even the moderators, knows who the head admin is? That kind of information can get you pretty far. We’re not where we are because of motive, but because of opportunity. Our motive is the same as everyone else who’s picked up a gun in the past decade. We want to survive the Party Box.”

    “Okay, that’s fair. Here’s my next question.”

    Six gunshots rang out. John ran out into the hallway, followed by Jacob and Rosa. Tania and I, the only two who didn’t know what to do, looked at each other and followed.

    James was hunched over the bodies of two men wearing black uniforms with the Party Box flag on the back. There was far too much blood in the clearing for me to be okay with.


    “Moderators.”

  9. #9
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    LOADING CHAPTER 3
    /cancel
    /load I2
    LOADING INTERMISSION 2
    INTERMISSION 2 LOADED

    In a gloomy office, a moderator boots up his government issued gaming computer. He was never a gamer before the Party Box took hold, but was well qualified to moderation tasks. His sunken eyes study the screen as he follows the report generated by the machine. This is definitely related to a recent conversation with a certain contact.

    PARTY BOX SERVER CONSOLE 3.8.1

    /load chat

    [THE MAJORITY OF THIS CHAT LOG HAS BEEN OMITTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXPEDIENCE]

    TauTaco has joined the game

    TauTaco is connecting from an unlisted location!

    TauTaco is a registered griefer! The Party Box will reward anyone who has information regarding their location!

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: Here comes trouble.

    TauTaco: Hellloooo my friends!

    TauTaco: /warn tautaco

    TauTaco is a registered griefer! The Party Box will reward anyone who has information regarding their location!

    TauTaco: I love reading that.

    [SKIP]

    DeadEye27: Seeya ‘round, Liam.

    DeadEye27 has left the game.

    AndromedaPancake: Um?

    I Need A New Pair of Paints: Mods.

    I Need A New Pair of Paints has left the game.

    xXPartyBoxGurlXx: Buy Tier 2 Donor benefits today! Get spray permissions, glow effects, and more!

    He has a lead.

    DeadlyArcher[mod] joined the game.

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: you with the griefers?

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: /warn andromedapancake

    AndromedaPancake is a listed former griefer! If you see any suspicious activity from them, notify a moderator IMMEDIATELY!

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: /locat andromedapancake

    AndromedaPancake lives at 135.240.13.235.

    DeadlyArcher[mod]: Mmhmm.


    He logs out. That’s enough. This warrants investigation, and this AndromedaPancake, on the files as one Liam O’Connor, has to be brought in.

    A quick e-mail to his subordinates will solve this problem. The moderators will finally find that den of griefers.
    Last edited by Ducky; February 10th, 2014 at 09:35 PM.

  10. #10
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Possibly the worst action scene I have ever written is in this chapter, in addition to Ducky-knows-jack-shit-about-romance-and-still-wants-there-to-be-some-in-his-book.

    I’ve drawn this out long enough.
    LOADING CHAPTER 3
    CHAPTER 3 LOADED

    “Did you know about this?” The question was directed calmly at me by John. Tania leaned on the computer counter looking bored. I stood in the center of the room hopefully looking as sheepish as I felt. John sat in a swivel chair in front of me, looking masculine and amazing, but only because he wanted to. Rosa spun repeatedly in circles in her chair in the corner and laughed whenever she saw anyone looking tough, other than John, who seemed to suddenly turn tough without looking it. Jacob tried to look tough but just kind of looked confused at best and constipated at worst. James, who we had to hold back from teabagging the dead moderators, looked bored, presumably waiting to put a bullet in my skull. When he did try to look tough, he just looked dumb.

    “No.” I stayed as calm as I could. “There was a moderator last night who came in right after you guys left. He located me and left. I thought the whole purpose of this was to lose them.”

    “It was,” returned John, “and we should have. That’s what the whole thing with the fake address was about.” He turned to James and gave a theatrical show of the hand. James pushed closer and leveled the barrel of his revolver on my head. John continued. “The mods were clearly one step ahead of us. They offered you money to lead them to us. You got them this far and you waited.”

    “No! They haven’t contacted me! They didn’t need to! Why would they collaborate with a former griefer?”
    “Do it,” John said with finality. I closed my eyes. Nothing happened. I opened my eyes. John was holding a set of keys on a small ring. No bullet. “We know you didn’t know. We just wanted to see you scared for a change.”

    “Speak for yourselves,” said Tania, “I already saw him scared.”

    “These are the keys to this room and the other rooms we have here. Now that we’ve had our fun today, on to business. They’ll be back in force when their moderators don’t return. The gate stays closed until they leave. We can use the back way if absolutely necessary, but I’d prefer to keep that shut too.”

    “I didn’t show up for work today.”

    “Later, Liam. I want two gunners in the clearing at all times. Liam, James, you two are first. Rosa and Jacob will swap in later.”

    I agreed reluctantly.

    Tania entered the discussion. “What, exactly, am I going to be doing for whatever amount of time this takes? I’m not one of you.”

    “I can’t see that you have much else going on. If we send you alone into the alleys, you’re dead or worse. Liam, we’ll talk later.” John high-fived us all as we sprang into action. Rosa, Jacob, and Tania scrambled off to do something important. James and I calmly scrambled in a manner very similar to walking to the clearing. John scrambled to the room he was already in.

    The mounted guns were as such: Two were positioned at locations where they could not be seen from the alleys beyond, so as to give whoever was using them the element of surprise. Cinderblocks had been stacked at the end of the clearing opposite of the now-closed gate to form what looked like an ordinary pile, but was actually a small pillbox with another mounted gun inside. Sheets of what I assumed to be some kind of bulletproof glass or plexiglass covered the openings in the pillbox except for where the gun was. The last gun was atop the pillbox, with even more shielding around it. We were fortified.

    James took one of the ambush guns and I took the lower pillbox gun. The moment I put my finger to the trigger, I expected moderators to swarm the clearing. Not surprisingly, nothing happened. My first shift watching the gate turned out to be very boring. There was nothing to look at outside, as far as we knew. If there was, we couldn’t look at it because the gate was closed.

    “Sounds like John’s the one in charge?” I remarked, just trying to start conversation.

    “Fuck John.”

    “Where did you guys get these guns and fancy glass?”

    “Ask Rosa.”

    There was a long pause and I mulled the situation over in my head. I expected that when I left home today, it would be a short excursion. Now it was getting dim out and I didn’t expect to go home any time soon. I was trapped, practically kidnapped, by and among a group of griefers who had simultaneously endangered and saved my life.

    Jacob was probably DangerDangerDangerDanger. That fit.

    James was obviously DeadEye27. The revolver was a hint.

    John – holy smokes the letter J was common here – seemed most likely to be TauTaco. He just seemed to have the right personality to match with TauTaco’s behavior the previous night.

    Rosa had said ‘boo’ right before she punched me, like I Need A New Pair of Paints did. She also did all the construction here, it would appear. That fit with her username.

    Who the hell was Tania? xXPartyBoxGurlXx? No. No way.

    “James?”

    “Yeah?”

    “Do you like killing people?”

    “Yes.”

    Several minutes passed.

    There was an audible “shit!” from the other side of the gate. Loud footsteps. The sound of something being dragged. The siege had begun. James mouthed something to me and ran inside. Less than a minute later he ran back to his gun, followed by Rosa and John. Jacob and Tania ran too but stopped inside of the doorway. They both had pistols. John took the other ambush gun and Rosa took the gun above me. I didn’t envy her at all. No-one spoke. We all listened.

    “Get this open,” we barely managed to hear someone on the other side of the gate say.

    For more than two hours that’s what they tried to do. At last it was dark out when they had a different idea. A moderator’s head poked over the top of the gate and all of us opened fire. The poor bastard had no idea how nervous we were.

    John turned to James.

    “Did you choose to leave the bodies at the gate?”

    “I thought it would intimidate them!”

    “Damn it, Jim!”

    “Don’t call me that!”

    Another head poked over the gate and fired a single shot, which sunk into the plexiglass or whatever it was and stopped near where Rosa seemed to be. Down he went, plenty of ammunition spent on him.

    Gunshots rang out inside. Tania helped a wounded Jacob into the clearing, and they took cover behind the pillbox.

    “It’s a distraction. They found the back way!” From his vantage point, James had a clear shot down the hallway immediately inside of the building. He adjusted his aim.

    Near the doorway to the building, John shouted, “If your aim slips and you hit me, we’re going to have problems!”

    James started firing. Bullet after bullet hit his shield and he just kept shooting. Something bumped into the gate and moderators started to pour single-file into the clearing.

    “I’m speeding this up!” shouted John. He took a break from shooting to pull a lever on the ground near the gate, and sprinted back to his gun before a moderator could get a lucky shot. The whole apparatus shifted to life. The gate began to rise, scraping against the walls on each side. A wooden board, which had apparently been propped against the gate to allow moderators to reach us, fell flat to the ground along with two moderators trying to climb it.

    Rosa and I made short work of the single-file line in the alleys. Fish in a barrel. James stopped firing soon after.

    “Is that it?” He asked.

    An hour later, Jacob lay in the center of the computer room. No-one had the guts to strip him, so we looked for the bullet entry site.

    John did the talking. “How many times did you get shot?”

    Jacob looked around and began to mouth something, but seemed afraid.

    “Jacob! Stay with me! How many times did you get shot?”

    “Just –“ Jacob paused to suck in a huge breath through his teeth. “Just once.”

    James stood off to the side, looking somewhere between disappointed and bored. Anger and disgust began to well up in me, so I looked back down at Jacob before it could escalate.

    Rosa ran in with bandages and tweezers. It occurred to me briefly that none of us might know what we were doing.

    “It’s his leg,” I said, pointing to the entry site. “Jacob, can you lift it?”

    “Yes.” He demonstrated. “It hurts.”

    Before he could drop it to the ground, I looked underneath it. No exit site.

    “It’s still in him.”

    John took the tweezers from Rosa. “Jacob, I want you to sit very still. I have no idea how much this will hurt because I’ve never been shot and I’m not a doctor.”

    Jacob nodded. I held onto his leg while John fished for a bullet. He found three fragments, which appeared to be the entire thing. Jacob squirmed as John pulled the fragments out.

    “Jeez. We’re lucky here. His leg looks good, apart from the bullet hole. The bone didn’t get hit. Nothing else important is gone, as far as I can tell.”

    Eighteen dead moderators in all, if you count the two who came before the rest. Outnumbered three to one and we won. This was our casualty. It couldn’t always be like this. We’d scoured the addresses and there were no doctors we could get to from here. Our only option was to play doctor ourselves.

    Tania ran in with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

    “Jacob,” began John, “I’m going to bandage you. It’s going to hurt.” Jacob put on his best grin as the bandage went on. I could only imagine how the stuff stung on a bullet wound. He wiggled a bit and then slowly calmed down.

    “Liam?”

    “Yeah, Jacob?”

    “You can let go of my leg now.”

    We propped Jacob up on his swivel chair and made him comfortable. Looking around, I could see these people being nice. Even James – without anyone telling him to – ran to the other room to get a blanket. (He came back winded.)

    Rosa nudged me. “Can you come with me for a second? I need your help on something.”

    “Sure, I suppose. What’s going on?” I asked as we stepped out into the hallway.

    “More of them will be coming and we can’t do these shootouts forever. We’ll keep the gate closed, but the back way will be harder if they’ve found their way in there?”

    “What is the back way, anyways?”

    “It’s really our access point to the rest of the building. There are a few offices and such in here and a restaurant, a convenience store, what have you.”

    This was a strange feature of the city. Restaurants, stores, and all other business were assigned into the same quarters as apartments. They were typically widened, but generally there wasn’t much room. Occasionally one business would buy up a couple of rooms, but the quantity of rooms you can own was constrained by your donor tier, and this block looked even more economically troubled than mine.

    “So what are we doing with it?” I asked. I really didn’t feel like this was my fight, but I kind of wanted to impress Rosa with how cool I was.

    “Barricading it properly. This room –“ She opened one of the few unblocked doors. “ – is where we keep our supplies. We keep it cool.”

    “I can tell.”

    “Over there’s our fridge, there’s our freezer, pantry, cinderblocks, sheet metal, guns, paint, miscellanea.”

    “That looks like more than just a pair of paints.”

    “But it’s old. I want a new pair. Help me pile cinderblocks. We need a lot.”

    “I’m on it.” She rolled out a dolly and we piled cinderblocks onto it.

    “Hey Rosa, I have to ask. Where are you guys getting this stuff? How did you get my laptop back?”

    “I stole it. I steal things. That’s my niche here.”

    “And my niche? Why were you guys so hell-bent on getting me here? It’s been less than a day and I’ve been directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of eighteen moderators. Even if their siege ended today, I wouldn’t be going back to my apartment anytime soon after what happened here. In fact, all the talk points to this notion that my new home, as of only a few hours ago, is here. I’m not even a griefer.”

    “You say with seventy-nine words what I could say with just four. The answer is simple. We first brought you here for your own protection. If you’re interested, it’s James’s fault that we even had to do that. While Tania was getting you here, we took a look at your files – John is good at computers, don’t ask me how he does it – and we saw two important things.”

    “What two important things are those?”

    “One was your listing as a griefer ‘that likes to escape the level.’ The other was your Party Box threat analysis.”

    I never knew that I had one of those. They didn’t tell you, “Hey, you’re dangerous to us.” They let you think you’re harmless. “What does mine say?”

    “You have ‘tendencies typically found in a protagonist.’ I don’t actually know what they mean by that.”

    “I do. They’re afraid that I’m like some Gordon Freeman character, that all I have to do is keep going forward and I endanger my enemies. It’s bullshit through and through.”

    “I don’t know, you handled that shootout today pretty well.”

    “I was using one of the four mounted guns, all of which were in use by someone.”

    “And think how we were outnumbered. Sixteen moderators came in during that shootout, and there were six of us, only four of which were actually at the mounted guns. Not bad for your first day.”

    “Aren’t you guys supposed to be really mean?”

    “I don’t like antagonizing my friends.” That’s a development.

    She started wheeling the pile of cinderblocks down the hall. Behind me, I could hear the sound of gunshots, and for a moment I thought there was more fighting, until I heard Jacob shout his victory. Counter-Strike? Call of Duty? There were too many possible answers for me to tell by ear. We soon reached the end of the hall, where a door opening into other hallways had been kicked open, the padlock cut.

    We piled the cinderblocks by the door and went to get some mortar, which didn’t take very long. The process took a few hours and by the time we were done, my watch read 9:24. It was late to be doing this work and we were tired.

    “Wanna see if they’re playing anything fun?” Rosa asked me.

    “Sure.” We approached the computer room. John, Jacob, and James were at their respective computers. Tania sat next to John with a laptop. I didn’t remember her bringing it here. Rosa sat down at her own computer. I headed over to the swivel chair where my laptop was and unplugged it. Everyone had headsets in, and I was very uncomfortable because I didn’t think to bring mine, which meant I would have to have everyone hear my sound or play silently.

    I hesitantly rolled my chair and my laptop over to Rosa and motioned to ask if she minded my company. She gave a little nod and I wheeled to an outlet next to her computer and plugged my laptop in, prepared for a nostalgia trip. It had been years since I had used this computer. Rosa nudged me, holding another headset in her hand.

    “I keep an extra next to my tower, just in case. Get your own from the supply room tomorrow.”

    “Thanks.” I reached out and took the headphones, wanting to believe that it was no accident that her fingers brushed against mine. Likely story, Liam.

    My old desktop background greeted me. A sketch of a giant squid. I used to be really into cephalopods. I made sure the picture was saved and switched it to a picture of Ratchet from Ratchet and Clank that I had saved before. Before I left home and got moved to City 135, I had had a Playstation, and that was my favorite series. I still miss it.

    Steam. I hadn’t used that in forever. Not since it shut down with Gabe Newell’s declaration of war on the Party Box. They brought its servers up from some unknown location, maybe Ottowa, and some people used it as a gaming black market. As long as they were on a computer not monitored by the mods, Steam use and chat records were impossible for the Party Box to track. The Party Box asking Valve to give them access to all private user information and to link Steam accounts to citizens’ universal accounts had apparently been the last straw for Valve and Mr. Newell.

    I scrolled over to Terraria, which was tonight’s choice of game. I had five friend requests on Steam from the past week, as well as a handful from over the years. This would be fun.

  11. #11
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Why are the forums dead silent lately? Don't all die on me.

    They make some decisions that night.
    Things are going to change,
    and Liam is the cause of all of it.
    LOADING CHAPTER 4
    CHAPTER4.TXT UNREADABLE
    LOADING CHAPTER 4-ROSA
    CHAPTER 4-ROSA LOADED


    I joined the game as my character, creatively named Rosa. Liam, sitting next to me, had only a character named DingleDangle. I decided not to ask. He made a new character anyways. He named it DangleDongle. Not much better. Suddenly, he quit out of Terraria. He turned to me.

    He whispered, “If I live among griefers, I’m going to have to learn to grief.” I think I made too much of an impression earlier with my swivel chair antics. Still, it couldn’t be worse than James’s shockingly violent efforts to impress me when I first joined.

    He opened up some third party program. TerrariForm or one of those. He was doing something with his character. I elected not to watch.

    The other four had already built a decent house. Some space had been left for me to build a room, and someone had built a tiny outhouse with a sign that read, “Liam’s room.” Nice. The merchant was in John’s room. The demolitionist had moved into Jacob’s room, which was underground. Tania had the nurse. James, not surprisingly, had the arms dealer. Auxiliary housing had been built for whatever NPCs they might unlock in the future. Liam’s room was deemed by the computer to be unfit for NPC occupation. Brett the Guide lived in our dining room.

    DangleDongle joined the world.

    DangleDongle was jet black. Terraria limits player colors to a certain low, so normally you’re limited to dark gray. Using a third-party editor, you make a character true black, to the point of being a silhouette with eyes. I didn’t think he understood the nature of griefing, until he produced the one item he had added to his inventory: A pile of corrupt seeds.

    The corruption in Terraria is really difficult for early players to survive in, and we were not too far progressed, having focused mainly on building. The seeds were in place and spreading from too many different places for us to stop. Soon, the entire area of our house was corrupt.

    Dangerman: fucking really?

    Dangerman: its everywhere

    DangleDongle: That’s the idea.

    Kitty: Well shit

    DangleDongle: I hid a bunch of them.

    DangleDongle: So even if you clean up the part around the house, it’ll spread back.

    Gunner: Are you trying to make some kind of point?

    DangleDongle: Kind of.

    Gunner: It’s fucking stupid

    Gunner: We’re not going to be able to get anything done

    Gunner: Asshole


    James turned around in his chair to give Liam the finger. Those two just kept not getting along.

    Tau: The funny thing here is that in a way this is like

    Tau: extending the olive branch to us.

    Rosa: Lol.

    Dangerman: OH FUCK

    Dangerman had his innards turned to outards by Big Eater.

    Gunner: Smooth

    DangleDongle: Heeheehee.

    Tau: Really, nice one on this.

    Tau: You might fit in better than you expect.

    DangleDongle: Don’t get attached. I’m not sticking around.


    He said that, but I looked over and he was smiling at his work. I hopped over to the small storage room and swiped some building blocks. My room was to be at the roof of the mansion, so I put a little balcony on each side where I could stand and shoot monsters.

    The sun slowly went off-screen and the world got dimmer. I wasn’t too worried. We had our gold broadswords, our silver bows, our stockpile of arrows. James had a musket. There was no need to stay in the house. Liam ran off to explore or something. I stole some of his private money stash while he was so focused on his own screen. He should have invested in a piggy bank.

    Kitty: Hey rosa

    Kitty: Lets go to the jungle

    Kitty: Its still unexplored

    Rosa: Sounds cool.

    DangleDongle left the game.

    Kitty: John you wanna come?

    Tau: Why not?

    Dangerman: james and i will be the army and attack something

    Gunner: We will?

    Dangerman: yes

    Dangerman: lets do it

    Gunner: What can we attack?

    Dangerman: hell itself

    Rosa: Oh, the choices I have to make.

    Dangerman: its okay

    Dangerman: youre not dangerous enough

    Dangerman: like we are

    Dangerman: to brave the pits of hell

    Rosa: That’s what you think.

    Gunner: Pack your bombs, Jacob

    Gunner: I’m in

    Dangerman: hell yes

    DangleDongle has joined the game.

    DangleDongle: I’m coming!

    DangleDongle: I fixed my character.

    DangleDongle: Aww, all my money is gone.

    Rosa: Serves you right.

    DangleDongle: Um

    DangleDongle: Are we out of weapons?

    DangleDongle: I don’t see any in the storage.

    DangleDongle was killed by Small Eater.

    Rosa:


    Tania, John and I set off for the jungle, which was to the left. Liam dove down into the mine after James and Jacob, who were some small distance ahead of him. As we move towards our separate destinations, conversation inevitably fell back to our situation at hand.

    DangleDongle: We could take the fight to them, you know.

    Gunner: Fucking moron

    Gunner: What are we going to do

    Gunner: Grab our muskets and march on their castle?

    Tau: James, hear him out.

    DangleDongle: Not here.

    DangleDongle: We put everything here somewhere else for a little while. Let them think we flew.

    DangleDongle: While they look for us, we hit them hard.

    DangleDongle: You guys were able to steal an official Party Box game onto your own server.

    Tau: That’s me.

    DangleDongle: You can get us a map of the areas around the arenas.

    DangleDongle: We’ll split in two groups.

    DangleDongle: Our first team will lead the mods in circles in the city while keeping in touch online.

    Gunner: Weren’t you just going on about how you’re not one of us?

    DangleDongle: But I’m stuck with you.

    DangleDongle: I’ll be with the second team,

    DangleDongle: because I can find the ways out.

    DangleDongle: Then we wreak havoc.

    Gunner: And how does this help us?

    DangleDongle: They have such a huge PR fire to put out

    DangleDongle: and they won’t know it was us

    DangleDongle: that they will have bigger fish to fry

    DangleDongle: than some griefers hiding in the alleys.

    Tau: That’s a pretty ambitious plan dude.

    Rosa: Be fair here, it is something you would arrange.

    Tau: Not without a lot of planning in advance.

    Tau: And what? 3 people running around in and around the arena?

    Tau: 2 people back in City 135 rubbing the show?

    Tau: Running*

    Kitty: I’d help.

    DangleDongle: I think James, Jacob and I could do it.

    DangleDongle: You could mess with them from here in the city

    DangleDongle: to keep us off the radar.

    DangleDongle: If you have a different plan, name it.

    Gunner: I get to run in

    Gunner: Kick some ass

    Gunner: I’m in

    Dangerman: ill come

    Rosa: It’s better than waiting for them to come back.

    John: This is

    John: not a good idea.

    John: But I can’t stop you, I guess.

    John: Tomorrow, though. Tonight, we play.


    That was something to look forward to. John, Tania, and I arrived at the jungle and were immediately greeted by a lot of bats. Blah. It didn’t take very long to wipe them out. The sun was coming up.

    Dangerman: james bone serpent!!!

    Gunner: Pffft

    DangleDongle: Does anyone have a pickaxe that can mine hellstone?

    Dangerman: No.

    DangleDongle: Do you have dynamite?

    Dangerman: That’s a silly question.

    DangleDongle: I know.


    The most dangerous and rewarding part of the jungle is its underground component, so down we dove. Man Eaters reached toward us from inside of the walls, but rarely made it into the cave we were in. The bees were really a pain. We had to take shelter in each alcove we came across, hoping that nothing got the drop on us while we recovered from our poisonous stings.

    Tau: So what exactly did we come here for?

    Kitty: Treasure? valuable ore? i dunno.

    Rosa: The thrill of exploration.

    Tau: You’re looking for a gold room.

    Tau: Those like never happen.

    Tau: I’ve been playing this game since I was a kid.

    Tau: I’ve found maybe one or two.

    Rosa: Knock on wood.


    I heard Jacob knocking on the counter.

    DangleDongle: Argh, demons!

    Gunner: I got it

    DangleDongle: No, James, don’t be dumb!

    Brett the Guide was slain.

    Tau: Breeeettttttt!!!

    The Wall of Flesh has awoken!

    DangleDongle: Shit.


    Something gold glistened below us. I hopped down and held out a torch. A vein of gold. It was good news, but not a gold room. John and Tania stood on a ledge above me.

    DangleDongle: Jesus, Jacob, how many explosives do you have?

    Dangerman: not enough

    Gunner: I beg to differ

    Tau: You guys should probably be running more than chatting.

    DangleDongle: GAAAAH CLIFF.

    Dangerman: stand back!!!

    DangleDongle: There is no back to stand!

    Gunner: I’ll get the leeches

    Rosa: This is a really weird conversation out of context.


    I started to mine out the gold vein ahead of me. Fourteen pieces in all. A little projectile shot out of the darkness behind me and once again I was poisoned. John and Tania hopped down to help me out. More hornets were coming. I switched to my bow. John dove in with a sword, using the knockback to bring one to ground level. He was suddenly out of the torchlight along with the hornet.

    Tau: Ah hell.

    Damage numbers spewed out of some spot too dark for us to see. Suddenly they stopped.

    Tau: Got it.

    A light appeared. More hornets were coming up from a space below John.

    Jeffrey the Guide has arrived.

    Dangerman: FOR BRETT

    DangleDongle: Holy fuck how much dynamite do you have?

    Dangerman: a lot, actually

    Tau: He sells his ore so he can afford it.

    Tau: He actually does pretty well with what equipment that leaves him,

    Tau: which is basically just a ton of bombs.

    Tau: But it’s annoying as hell.

    Dangerman: sorry guys

    Dangerman: this cliff is too much

    Dangerman: time to make a stand

    DangleDongle: You don’t make stands with the Wall.

    Dangerman: YOU dont


    A few moments passed. Tania, John and I were taking shelter as a couple straggler hornets floated up

    Dangerman exploded.

    DangleDongle forgot to run.

    Gunner had a mining accident.

    The Wall of Flesh has been slain.

    The ancient spirits of dark and light have been released.


    An even longer pause.

    Gunner: DAMMIT JACOB

  12. #12
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    Too long.

  13. #13
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Oh sorry, I didn't realize that a novel had a maximum size of 'short story.'

    When I revise it for publication, I'll be sure to chop off the rest of the story.

  14. #14
    Ex-staff member Polo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    Oh sorry, I didn't realize that a novel had a maximum size of 'short story.'

    When I revise it for publication, I'll be sure to chop off the rest of the story.
    I suppose you might consider yourself defeated. Man, that was terrible. Sorry Ducky.

  15. #15
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polo View Post
    I suppose you might consider yourself defeated. Man, that was terrible. Sorry Ducky.
    No, no, you're right. I surrender all.

  16. #16
    DQ 1337 Member Maddermadcat's Avatar
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    to earn the defeat stamp of approval you need to end more sentences with prepositions, derive your vocabulary from a thesaurus compiled by vizzini, and generally contort language in an embarrassing effort to sound well-read

  17. #17
    DQ 1337 Member BanHammor's Avatar
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    Leave him, one-and-half-thousand-post-old. He's only 23, after all.

    I'm interested in how it goes, but I have noticed the world looks a bit... contrived.

  18. #18
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Yeah, I know what you mean. There are some places in the novel where that is a really serious problem.

    I should probably fill you in on something.
    LOADING INTERMISSION 3
    INTERMISSION 3 LOADED

    The rocket launcher is heavy in his arms, which shake like leaves. It is cold. He hasn’t eaten all day. He thought this would be easy money. It isn’t. His new uniform, colored red, is modeled exactly after the soldier from Team Fortress 2, but he’s never fought in his life. A bulky young man dressed like the scout is waiting on top of a rock. He didn’t double-jump there. He climbed with his hands and pulled himself up onto the top with his arms. Now he’s standing there with his bat over his head, his elbow scraped and bleeding.

    A bearded man dressed like the medic cowers, not knowing what to do. He has no medi-gun. That doesn’t exist. He has a first-aid kit and an AED. His bone saw won’t do shit against what’s coming. Nor will a gun that shoots syringes. The soldier is disgusted with himself for paying to do this. It’s like the lottery. The cash prize just ramps up with the more people who fail to win it.

    A thin man can’t even lift his minigun. He’s no heavy, but he signed up as one. He props it against some rocks so he can turn it like a turret. The problem is, it’s not attached. He doesn’t know the recoil of the real thing.

    The engineer has committed suicide. The machines have to be built and maintained by hand, and he didn’t have the expertise. That was the best death he could choose. His body has bled all over the blueprints he couldn’t understand. No-one has the courage or the time to move him. He’ll never be buried.

    The pale white demoman is crouched behind cover, sticky bombs not really sticking to the ground, a matter of meters away, just around the corner and in the path his enemies will take. He’s loaded his grenade launcher and said his last prayers.

    Now the robots are charging down the hill. A barrage of rockets flies towards the robots’ nearest target, the scout. He dives from the rock and snaps his arm on the ground below, barely avoiding the fast moving rockets. There are clangs as the pinpoint accuracy of the rockets brings them to collisions near where the scout was standing bravely only moments before.

    The soldier has to help. He can fire a rocket maybe once every minute. He doesn’t have a very quick understanding of the reload process. His one shot hits a group of robots, destroying them, but not enough. Shrapnel sinks into the walls around him, even at this distance.

    The scout gets up. His arm is a loss. He can’t shoot a scattergun with just one arm. He can barely shoot with two. He clutches at his bat, which has rolled a short distance away. A robot scout is closing in. It raises its metal club, bringing it down. The scout raises his bat at the last second and a clang sounds across the battlefield. The scout’s bat is knocked out of his hand and he gets up to run, but the robot is faster. There’s a crack as the bat hits the scout’s head. Second death on the team.

    The soldier manages to load another rocket in as the robots turn their focus to him. Rockets are approaching him, so he fires a shot, throwing himself behind cover with the force. A screw, flung by the explosion, penetrates the wall and nearly hits him. The medic is terrified. He looks at the labels on the syringes. Morphine.

    He takes four syringes and injects himself before the soldier can stop him. The soldier grabs the first aid kit and is about to run when bots start pouring through the doors. His last option is to take as many as he can with him. He grabs the grenade on his uniform and pulls the pin. Rather than cooking, it detonates instantly.

    The heavy watches the explosion with dread. Most of the soldiers are dead, and those that live still don’t have a clear shot for all of the scouts running toward him now. He opens fire and the minigun leaps into his stomach, knocking the wind out of him and falling on him, pinning him down. A few robot scouts are down. The rest are almost upon him. He screams his terror and in answer a red, glowing object flies into the bulk of the robots from behind, exploding.

    A fragment of steel, ripped into a sharp object, punctures the heavy’s ribcage and enters his heart. He lies there in pain, waiting for death.

    The demoman will die fighting it out. He can shoot two grenades per reload. This gives him as good a chance as he will get.

    A second shot, aimed for his dying teammate. He whispers his apology and prays for the dead man’s soul. He prays for all their souls. The bots are closing the gap. He runs to his cover and gets ready with the button.

    5

    4

    3

    2

    1

    The time is perfect. But the demoman doesn’t understand how powerful his bombs are. Even behind cover, a piece of a robot finds its way through to his spine. He can’t move his legs. No more robots approach. He’s won the fight, but not the conflict. The next wave is already on the way. The demoman, unable to run, unable to fight, barely able to move, twists to his back and shoots a grenade straight into the air. It falls onto his chest and sits there for a moment before detonating.

  19. #19
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    As things that are contrived go... This chapter. The moderator's reason for his decision. The thing with the combination lock. Blargh.

    There’s really nothing to say.
    They’re on their way to fix their problem.
    Is it too soon for them to do something right?
    LOADING CHAPTER 5
    CHAPTER 5 LOADED



    James, Jacob and I approached the door of 135.240.9.19. A monochrome display screen hung from the door. In spite of the dead pixels, we could clearly read it.

    TODAY’S OPPORTUNITIES:

    TEAM FORTRESS 2: MANN V. MACHINE (OIL SPILL)

    TEAM FORTRESS 2: CAPTURE THE FLAG (2FORT)

    AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT(SOLO)

    CALL OF DUTY: INFINITE FIRE

    CALL OF DUTY: INFINITE FIRE 2

    CALL OF DUTY: FINITE FIRE

    SOUL CALIBUR (ALL INSTALLMENTS)

    LEFT 4 DEAD 2

    DEAD SPACE (ALL GAMES) (SOLO)

    “I don’t really want to play any of these,” remarked Jacob.

    “We’re not going to play them. We get in, find the escape routes, get out. John got me a good map of the facility around the 2Forts, and I know how we’re going to get out.”

    James actually patted Jacob on the shoulder, although admittedly he might have been being less than benevolent in his intentions. “Don’t worry, you can be the demoman.”

    We opened the door. One large room greeted us, with many chairs and three desks. Each had a little paper sign that said ‘sign-up’ hanging in such a way to face the door. A few people were already in the room, waiting, but we were still early enough to be some of the first to sign up. We approached the middle desk. The man had a lot of facial hair and the look of someone who wants more coffee.

    He picked a pen and asked us for our names.

    “Jake, Jim, and Liam,” I responded. James looked annoyed.

    “Last names?”

    “Smith.”

    He looked at us skeptically. “You guys are supposed to be brothers?”

    “Jim’s adopted.”

    He accepted this as good enough and wrote it down. A man wearing the uniform of a moderator opened the door. We all turned to face the desk and avoided eye contact, hoping he wasn’t here for us. Could moderators sign up to go to the arenas? James shot his hand into his jacket pocket. You didn’t, I thought.

    The moderator seemed uninterested in us, walking over to the left desk. Nonetheless, I continued to look very interested in the little creeper bobblehead on the desk we were at.

    “…Sir?” The man at the desk looked a bit annoyed. “What challenge are you signing up for?”

    “Oh, sorry. We’re going to 2Fort as a group.”

    The formalities went on and on and that moderator at the other table looked as annoyed as I felt. At last, we paid the entry fee, which went into the prize pool for winners, and sat down. The price would have been prohibitively high, if we were actually paying it. The moderator sat down next to us. He looked about twenty-eight, with a respectable amount of stubble and a huge nose. Something moved in James’s pocket and the moderator raised his eyebrow, misinterpreting it entirely.

    “So what are you guys here for?” He asked, seemingly just trying to make conversation.

    I paused for a moment. “The TF2 thing. Capture the flag. 2Fort. Dingle.”

    I don’t know for sure what I expected, but what I got was an elbow right in the face. James went for his gun but the moderator managed to get a hold of it and threw it to the floor. Bystanders inched away, nervous.

    Moderators were meant to make their own decisions, based on the laws set by the Party Box. They were the prosecution. They were judge, jury and executioner. If they saw me committing an act of grief, it was at their discretion to punish me.

    “I’m sorry to tell you boys that you’re not going to 2Fort. You’re very easy to trail when you try to be furtive, let me tell you. Now, you’re going to tell us where TauTaco and the others are or I will punish you the easiest way I can.”

    Had they already found our empty nest?

    He pointed to the man at the middle desk. “Change their sign ups. They’re going to do Amnesia solos, separately, unless they tell me what I want to know.” The man scribbled something out and started writing. Sell-out.

    Jacob was terrified. “I can’t run, dude! I just got shot!”

    “You’d better start talking then. I can bring your punishment down to a couple years’ ban and that’s it.”
    His face changed in an instant. “I’d rather die.” I think he was thinking of Tania when he said that. Poor dude just didn’t get it. James nudged me and patted my arm. At first I thought he was being weird until I caught his drift. I shook my head.

    I whispered, “We need to get into the arenas dude. It’s this or nothing, now.”

    “What are you two talking about?”

    “Just debating which option is worse. We’ll keep quiet, thanks.”

    The moderator approached me and threw a punch. I caught it effortlessly. He didn’t know the first thing about unarmed combat.

    “I’ll get enough of that in Brennenburg.”

    The die was cast. The plan would be changing a bit. My biggest concern was that I wasn’t sure if Jacob could last very long with his leg injured. Running is kind of an important game element in Amnesia. I didn’t know how solo arenas worked, exactly.

    Jacob was shaking like a leaf by the time the helicopters arrived for the day’s sign-ups. I followed close at hand as he limped across the rooftop. The mod followed close behind, James’s gun in hand, not going to give us a break until we were in the helicopter destined for the nearest Brennenburg.

    At last, once everyone was packed into their flights, as the sun fell into the 16-bit city with its 8-bit microcosms that I called home, and had not been outside of since it had first come into existence, we departed for castle Brennenburg. I didn’t know what to expect.

    The Brennenburgs were built to the imagination of the architects, well beyond what appears in the game. You could be dropped off anywhere and the game was prepared in advance. Escape was going to be a lot harder than it would have been in 2Fort. There was little to no predictability. I needed to find a way to contact John and Rosa.

    Our room in the helicopter was sealed to all exterior light after a couple of minutes of flying. There was no way to know where we were going, other than what I could remember of John’s hacked map of the nearby arenas, which was very little. About ten minutes after all of the doors and windows in our cabin were shut, the lights went out and we were in blackness.

    “I’m scared,” whispered Jacob.

    “So am I,” responded James.

    “Keep it together guys, just get out of Brennenburg before the game can get going.”

    “Easy for you to say! Your leg is fine!”

    “Jacob, if you can’t get out, don’t progress the game. The monsters don’t show up instantly.” I paused. “Or at least, they didn’t in the actual game.”

    I shuddered. No-one knew how the party box got the monsters it used for the Amnesia arena, but it was a known fact to just about everyone that those monsters were there. Were they machines? Did someone do surgery on actual people? It was a mystery.

    The helicopter landed to refuel, and as it did the doors opened. Night had fallen. I could see, in the distance, that the ground dropped off in sharp cliffs, forming a circular crater in the ground a couple of miles across. What looked like pine trees grew within, though it was hard to tell at this distance, immensely different from the empty terrain around the site. A fog, probably artificial, appeared to be filling the crater, but I could still clearly make out the lights of half a dozen great mansions scattered throughout.

    “So that’s how they make simultaneous sessions work,” I said practically under my breath, beginning to comprehend how difficult it would be to find Jacob and James once we reached our respective Brennenburgs.

    James looked at me. “Do you think we could make our move now?”

    “Look at where we are,” I remarked, “we have more guns trained on us right now than wartime Leningrad.”

    “What the hell kind of an analogy is that?”

    “What? I know some world history.”

    Jacob shushed us and pointed to the window, still meshed over but now open, looking into the cockpit of the helicopter. The pilot had gone to get something to eat while they refueled the helicopter. Sitting in the cockpit, on the pilot’s chair, was some kind of smartphone device. That could be very useful.

    I peeked out through the door, being careful not to provoke the mod-trainees at the edge of the helicopter pad. The helicopter was plugged into a machine, which appeared to be monitoring the fuel on its own. With the trainees, though, we still couldn’t get to the cockpit from the outside. That had to be the most miserable job imaginable for those trainees.

    There was a door to the cockpit inside of the helicopter, but it had a combination lock.

    “Sorry guys,” I said, disappointed, “no luck.”

    James approached the lock. “This is a standard Party Box lock. John and Rosa told us all about these. Four-number combination, and you can always trick them. There’s a ‘factory reset’ combination that’s supposed to be a secret known only to the Party Box, for emergency use.”

    “They didn’t just give them a key or something?”

    “It’s stupid, but very convenient. For future reference, the factory combination is 9562.”

    “Why that?”

    “Because it means nothing and no-one would ever guess it.”

    The red and green lights on the keypad simultaneously blinked. James hit the zero key four times in a row and the door sprang open.

    “All you, brave leader,” he beckoned me into the cockpit.

    I lowered myself so that I couldn’t be seen in the windows and crawled in. It took a fraction of a moment to grab the phone. I stuffed it into my pocket.

    “What’s our pilot going to do when his phone is missing and the lock is reset to 0000?”

    James hit some other combination and once again both lights went on. He entered some arbitrary set of numbers and slammed the door shut.

    “He just forgot the code.”

    We waited, nervously. The pilot eventually disengaged the fuel pump and entered the helicopter. He looked around, but surprisingly seemed to assume that it had fallen or something. The rotors came deafeningly to life. The doors slammed shut and soon the lights went off.

    The helicopter touched down somewhere in the Amnesia forest and the door opened. The pilot got out and came in to our cabin. He pointed to Jacob.

    “This is your stop, buddy.” He looked fairly young, maybe in his thirties, with blonde curls of hair. “Good luck in there.”

    Jacob limped from the helicopter and into the trees, towards a mansion he could see but was not visible from inside of the helicopter. I had to find him in time. I could do it. Nevertheless, I worried, which I couldn’t prevent.

    The doors slammed shut and we were off again. The lights didn’t turn off this time and I looked at James. He was frowning. I supposed that meant he really cared about Jacob. That snippet of a chat log I had seen on Rosa’s screen the night prior came back to me.

    Dangerman: james and i will be the army and attack something

    Gunner: We will?

    Dangerman: yes

    Dangerman: lets do it

    Gunner: What can we attack?

    Dangerman: hell itself


    We were certainly attacking Hell itself now. I hadn’t picked up on how much James cared about Jacob’s well-being. I hadn’t had a brother, ever, but if I had and he had been younger I supposed that I would feel the same way as James appeared to feel about Jacob.

    Eventually, the pilot landed and led James away. Lastly, I rode alone for about half an hour until at last we came to a landing at my final stop. I stepped out of the helicopter and the pilot was already there.

    “You be careful in there,” he warned me before I started my journey. “You have my phone. I’m going to want it back once you’re out.”

  20. #20
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    I think this chapter is where I started to get it together as far as the writing was concerned.

    Also some kind of copyright infringement happens here.

    Liam is in his best form
    at his worst hours.
    LOADING CHAPTER 6
    CHAPTER 6 LOADED


    I thought about running off into the trees, but on closer inspection there was actually a fence. I approached it and it hummed in a sinister way. No dice. I followed the only optional pathway to an open door in the mansion. I stepped through, and the door slammed shut behind me. I was plunged into darkness. Strange noises came from the hall ahead, and I used them as my only point of reference.

    Eventually, I became aware that my hand was brushing over a shelf. I felt on it for tinderboxes, as I knew I was supposed to. I found one, and opened it. Inside was a strike-on-anything match. Just one. I struck it on the stone wall, and the room was bathed in a weak light. A torch was attached to the wall just down the hall. I walked over, careful not to move so fast that my match went out, and rested the flame at the head. The torch was soaked in something and caught quick.

    The hallway stretched about twenty feet further before turning a corner. There were two doors ahead, one to the right and one to the left. I eased the left one open and looked into a courtyard. Light from the moon flooded a small section of the room and dimly lit the rest. I could make out debris everywhere, and on a small table at the window, the silhouette of the lantern.

    Of course, finding oil would be a problem. I wondered to myself how much oil they wasted in these changed times to keep the arena faithful to the game. Was that why you had to be a donor to own a car?

    I looked around, having to look very closely at the debris to make anything out. Eventually, I found a couple of tinderboxes and put the matches into the first tinderbox that I had found, leaving the empty tinderboxes behind. I took a look at the courtyard. There was a small fountain and some dead plants. Something big shuffled past a window in a room on the opposite side of the space.

    I heard a strange ripping sound, wood maybe, right outside of the door. I stepped back from the door, fist poised to destroy the crossbars of the window if necessary. I wondered what this looked like on TV. That was an embarrassing thing to be thinking about, really.

    The noise changed to a screeching, like someone clawing at a chalkboard. It slowly faded into the distance. I hesitantly opened the door and stepped into the hallway. Three parallel scratches ran across the hallway side of my door, deep in the wood, and reached the floor, stretching endlessly down the hallway. I decided not to go that way, regardless of anything.

    The other room contained a tinderbox and – yes! – a small jar of oil. I poured the oil into the clearly marked ‘oil in’ hole of the lantern and used one of my matches to light it. The room was bathed in light and I recoiled in horror. The furniture layout was an exact copy, although with more thematically appropriate objects, of the bedroom of my apartment. I exited into the hallway and slammed the door shut. So much for drawing their fire, they knew exactly who I was.

    I looked down the hallway where the scratches lead. That whole pathway had been prepared for me. At the end of the set path was almost certain death. The courtyard was the way to go. I opened the door into the room and took stock of the area. The same room I had seen motion in before now had a light inside. Someone watched from the window, but upon seeing that I was there they ran.

    It took half an hour to fly to my Brennenburg. If the helicopter had turned around after dropping James off, maybe he could have circled slowly back to the same building as Jacob, but that person ran when he saw me, to say nothing of the fact that he was able to run. I tested the window. Locked, presumably to keep me from straying from my path of certain doom.

    I covered my hand with my jacket and punched the glass. Pain shot through my arm. This stuff was too tough to be ordinary glass. I looked around the room for something I could ram the window with. I saw a red blip in the corner of the room. Sure enough there was a little camera. I assumed that the blip was the result of my escape attempt, and within moments my fears were confirmed. Something growled down the hall.

    In the corner was a small crate, about the size of a computer tower but not as tall. I ran over to it and picked it up under one arm. Something crashed against the door. I ran awkwardly with my load back to the window. Another crash and I heard splintering. The crossbeams gave way to the impact of the crate and the glass fell away in four intact rectangles. My lantern. I ran to grab the lantern, which I had moronically left on the floor near the door to pick up the crate.

    There was one last crash and the door split in two. The latch side fell, while the other slowly swung open. Standing just outside was a grunt from Amnesia, and I vomited in fear instantly. What they had done to create this thing, I couldn’t imagine, but it was dead on. It began its stumbling march towards its next victim. I didn’t have time for this shit.

    I sprinted for the window. There was another floor of building between me and the ground, which was interesting because I hadn’t gone up any stairs. Perhaps the courtyard was lower than the existing ground level. I dropped the lantern first, not wanting to get drenched in burning oil and – an idea occurred to me, and later I would get to put it into practice – I followed it very soon afterwards. A torn hand swung out and missed me by a fraction of an inch.

    I landed awkwardly, but my legs were unharmed. I shook the impact pain out of myself and stood up. The monster stood there, seemingly not quite confident enough to go through the window. It eventually gave up and shambled away. Miraculously, the lantern was unharmed, and very little oil had been spilled. The lantern had gone out. I spent another match re-lighting it, bringing me down to one remaining match.

    Where to? Find a way out? Find this person who may also be trapped in the arena and possibly help them? Or could they have been someone responsible for the task of bringing about my doom? Was it a risk worth taking?

    Seemed unlikely. They seemed to have had too much access to be on my side. I looked for obvious exits. The courtyard was about two rooms wide and four rooms long. A handful of doors appeared to be open, and I picked one that looked like it might lead out.

    It led to a basement with a lot of blood. I backed out and tried another entrance. This basement had much less blood, so I closed the door behind me and crept forward. The floor dropped down to a small flooded section. I took a close look. Tiny jets had been installed at the floor of the flooded section. I put my foot into the water and sure enough there was a splash down the hall, then another in an approaching manner. Presumably there was also a mechanism to kill me if the splashes got close enough. I took my foot out of the water.

    I looked around for a flat board. I had had a very silly idea. I was going to make their machine fail. Eventually I found one that would fit and lowered it into the water. I held it in place with my hand, drawing the splashes closer. My now-empty stomach twisted itself into knots as the splashes came closer, but I held on. Suddenly, where there should have been a splash, there was a weak push against the board. Then another and another, still approaching my hand. I spread my fingers were the final jet would be, making sure they wouldn’t be directly over it.

    A strong burst of water shot out from the jet and I felt a significant change in temperature in the water. Shortly after came another. My guess was that this water would normally shoot into the air and scald someone to the point of injury or even death. I lifted my hand out of the water and waited for it all to cool down a bit.

    Eventually, when I felt that enough time had passed and I was sure the water was as cold as it would get, I squatted down on my little wooden board and started to scoot across the water, the illusory beast trapped below. The water got warmer and warmer and eventually a bit uncomfortable, but at last I reached the end of the water, soaked to the knees.

    A long spiral staircase awaited me at this side. Hung from a noose in the center of the spiral, all the way from the ceiling above, was a grunt. It had no visible injuries on it, and I wasn’t brave enough to take a closer look. I did notice that its skin looked as though it were made of rubber.

    The top of the staircase led to a door which opened to the entrance hall, designed after the one from the game. Where normally there would have been a collapsed doorway, I exited. Ahead was the great doorway that, in the game, is sealed with organic matter. Here it was webbed over with rubber of the same color. I reached around it and tested the handle. It could be opened, if there were no web over it.

    I scavenged the area and found two tinderboxes, as well as a jar of oil. This would be a good way to put that idea from before to use. I poured the oil all over the door, as well as the remaining oil from my lantern. It became very dim in the room when that went out. Lastly, I lit one of my matches and ignited the oil. The door gradually became consumed by the flame, which gradually spread to some of the furniture and building structure nearby. Since most of Brennenburg was stone here, I didn’t worry too much.

    I took a seat on the staircase and waited for something to happen. The rubber was that kind that doesn’t melt but burns. How had no-one else thought of this yet? A few red specks of light in different corners of the room caught my eye. There was a growl, which actually sounded very tinny, like it was coming through a speaker. A grunt was coming down the stairs literally right behind me.

    I jumped to my feet and ran, and it matched my pace effortlessly. Something about its movement seemed odd, like it was a video game character looping the same animation indefinitely. I used my jacket to pick up a burning chair and threw it as hard as I could at the beast. There was an even stronger smell of burning rubber, and I realized I had just made a flaming monster chasing me. It shifted into a ‘stumbling backwards’ animation, and I could see flashes of metal where the fire had burned away the rubber.

    It began its forward march once again, then it seemed to glitch. One of its legs went out of sync with the rest of its animation and it fell forward. Being hit hard on the chest by the ground, it attempted to do its ‘stumble backwards’ animation, but since there was no ground under its feet since it had fallen, the computer inside of it assumed it had stumbled off of a ledge, and it did its ‘fall’ animation, which looped indefinitely because it never landed.

    I stepped around it, giving it a lot of room, and went back to the staircase. Someone was there. Blonde but covered in grime, with the beard of a man who had not left Brennenburg for years. He reminded me in appearance of the helicopter pilot. Some gears clicked in my brain.

    “Hey,” I started, hoping he was in fact on my side. “I’m making an escape route.”

    “I see that,” he responded, sounding much younger than I expected, “Do you mind if I come too?”

    “Not really, if you’re on my side.”

    He picked up what looked like a touchscreen phone and pressed a button on the screen that I couldn’t see. The grunt went limp.

    “They haven’t figured out yet why their grunts keep dying. They think I died years ago.” He paused for a moment, looking around. All of the cameras hung limp from their posts. “That bastard!

    I took a step backward.

    “He sent me here! His best friend! We knew each other in middle school, God damn it!”

    “Who?”

    “I want you to trust me, so I can’t tell you now.” How had this guy held onto his mind for years in this place?

    Eventually, the great door became so damaged that it fell to the ground, sending a cloud of ash into the air. When it cleared, I could clearly see a dirt road stretching into the trees.

    “So what’s your name?” He asked.

    “Liam O’Connor.”

    “I’m Lucas. Good to meet you, Liam.”

    On our way out, Lucas knelt over the dead grunt. I suppose it wasn’t dead, since it was all along just some cleverly disguised animatronics. He produced a screwdriver from his pocket and opened a small case, which contained a tiny battery that could fit in a phone.

    “Dammit, it’s broken. The heat, I think. My own battery’s almost dead.” He held his phone up, to stress the value of said phone. “Hey, Liam, when we’re out of here, could I borrow your razor?” He gestured at his beard.

    “You might need a bit more than a razor for that.”

    “Yeah, probably. I’ve been here almost as long as this mansion has been here and I haven’t found one goddamn pair of scissors.”

    The forest outside was cold and I was glad I had my jacket. Lucas’s outfit looked very improvised, with curtains and the like used for a coat. It looked warm enough. I still wonder to this day if beards are warm.

    The small road led to another helicopter site, surrounded by another humming fence.

    “I’ve got this.” Lucas approached the fence and hit a button on his phone. The humming stopped. He picked up something heavy from the forest floor – I couldn’t really tell what it was in the dim light – and crashed it against the fence repeatedly until there was an opening. We tore the hole open, wide enough to crawl through. Something bellowed in the entrance hall of Brennenburg.

    It wasn’t a grunt. One single brute charged towards the fence. Lucas calmly raised his phone and pressed the kill button, but nothing happened.

    “Run!” He shouted. I cooperated.

    I stayed close to Lucas, since the fog made it especially easy to get separated. The scraping of metal told us that the brute was right behind us. The ground sloped upward. The fog thinned out. We were atop a small hill with a clearing, with a view across the top of the artificial fog. There was another Brennenburg dead ahead, some distance away.

    “I have friends in two of the other mansions,” I shouted as we ran downhill again. The brute closed in, then hit a tree and stopped to execute its ‘stumbling backwards’ animation. We kept running, and could no longer hear it following us.

    “Did we lose it?”

    “I think so.”

    I was exhausted from the running and the day that had led up to it. I was also very hungry.

    “What did you eat in the mansion?” I asked.

    “The mutilated pigs.”

    “Forget I asked.” I decided that I didn’t want to know where his water came from. We slowed down and walked for a while.

    “I think the helicopter pilot knew that you were in there. He gave me his smartphone.”

    “Blonde, looks a lot like me?”

    “Yeah, that’s the one.”

    “My brother Jack’s been helping me out for years, trying to find a way to make an escape route. No-one survives Brennenburg long enough to make an exit for me.”

    “Must be a huge cash prize if anyone actually finishes the arena.”

    That reminded me. I took the phone from my pocket and found PartyChat, an app which used your universal Party Box account as a chat account. I logged in.

    Welcome to PartyChat Mobile V. 4.25.1

    /search TauTaco

    Found 4 matches: TauTaco, TauTaco25, xXTauTacoXx, FuckTauTaco

    /chat TauTaco

    AndromedaPancake: John?

    TauTaco: Ah, Liam.

    TauTaco: Care to explain to me

    TauTaco: why you went to Brennenburg

    TauTaco: and split the group into separate units

    TauTaco: one of which is too injured to run

    TauTaco: and why they know you guys are with us?

    AndromedaPancake: A mod caught us on our way to 2Fort.

    Lucas nudged me as I almost walked into a tree and laughed at me.

    AndromedaPancake: His ultimatum was that we could give away your location

    AndromedaPancake: or go to Brennenburg.

    TauTaco: Well, our entire plan is fucked now.

    TauTaco: They know we’re behind it.

    TauTaco: Anything we do will just make it worse for us.

    TauTaco: IF you guys even survive, that is.

    TauTaco: This was a stupid fucking plan and I should never have allowed it.

    TauTaco: I should never have brought you in.

    TauTaco: Bring back my friends.

    TauTaco: If you come back without them.

    TauTaco: I’ll kill you myself.

    TauTaco: Bring them back, Liam,

    TauTaco: and then leave us alone.

    TauTaco has blocked you.

  21. #21
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    GLORIOUS SELF-INSERTION!

    LOADING INTERMISSION 4
    INTERMISSION 4 LOADED



    Greenroman11[superadmin]: You know what this is about.

    Redroman66[superadmin]: we have to confront you on this one

    Greenroman11[superadmin]: We use Steam like every day.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: You think I don’t?

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: I want Steam, but Newell has made his intentions very clear.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: There’s nothing else to be done. I’m sorry.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: You guys up for some Minecraft?

    Redroman66[superadmin]: we have to stop you

    Redroman66[superadmin]: and thats what were going to do

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Don’t make me do it, guys.

    Greenroman11[superadmin]: Do it. Let’s see what’s on your conscience.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: World domination is a sweet dish with a bitter pill.

    Greenroman11[superadmin]: Yes, of course.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: /demote Greenroman11 member

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: /demote Redroman11 member

    Greenroman11: Is that it?

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Collin?

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Yes?

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Jack can fly a helicopter.

    Redroman66: dont make me do it

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Have him fly Lucas to a Brennenburg.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: On it.

    Redroman66: im sorry lucas

    Greenroman11: Fuck you, Ducky.

  22. #22
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Another short chapter. I wasn't having as much fun with the arenas as I thought I would. A lot of the planned arena scenes ended up being adapted to the characters just playing video games on computers.

    And now, the beginning of a part that gets very much out of hand.
    LOADING CHAPTER 7
    /cancel
    /load C7-jacob
    LOADING CHAPTER 7-JACOB
    CHAPTER 7-JACOB LOADED


    I limped and stumbled my way down the corridor. My leg hurt like hell. Even in the moderator shootout the day before, I hadn’t been so afraid for my life. What explosives were likely to be in an old mansion? Liam may have been an expert on escape routes, but I could make a damn fine exit if I could only find something that exploded. Preferably something unstable like gunpowder, so I could do this relatively easily.

    My lantern cast light in most of the hallway. Wherever these scratches were leading me, my only option was to follow them. I could find no other way forward.

    I passed several doors, but they were locked. There was a shelf with an oil jar on it. I took the jar and poured it into the lantern. The scratches went towards a door and left marks on it. I limped to the door and slowly turned the handle. I didn’t want to know what was waiting for me on the other side.

    The room had collapsed a long time ago. Below it was a flooded room, with fragments of this room as stepping stones. I tried to lower myself down but fell. Pain shot through my leg. Splashes approached me in the water. How the hell did they do that?

    I dragged myself onto the safety of some rocks and inspected my leg. It looked fine. I sat there for a while, contemplating the circumstances. Gradually my leg began to feel better and I formed a plan. It would start with burning furniture and end with

    You know, I don't think we need to know where he'll be getting the saltpeter.
    /CANCEL
    /LOAD C7-JAMES
    LOADING CHAPTER 7 – JAMES
    CHAPTER 7 – JAMES LOADED


    I wasn’t afraid. I just don’t get scared. It’s not in my nature. The others probably were wetting themselves, but I just soldiered my way through the Brennenburg. There was a room with a lantern and I took it without hesitation. Something scratched the door, but it couldn’t scare me.

    The scratches led, eventually, to another hallway with a spiral staircase on one end and the entrance hall from the actual game on the other end. I approached the great door and tried to open it, but even my great strength was no match for the careful seal they had created. There was no chance of Liam escaping if I couldn’t. Maybe Jacob. Definitely not Liam.

    I sat by the door and waited for one of my very common flashes of brilliant inspiration to come to me, when I heard two growls coming from near the staircase. Bored by the lack of challenge, I prepared for another easy

    I can’t listen to this anymore.
    /CANCEL
    /LOAD C7
    LOADING CHAPTER 7
    CHAPTER 7 LOADED


    Lucas closed in on the electric fence, phone at the ready. He had taken the battery from Jack’s phone, since I no longer had a use for it. A quick press of a button and it went off. We prepared to get the fence open, but then the wall of the mansion off to the side, outside of the fenced area, exploded.

    “Today’s just full of people escaping, isn’t it?” Lucas asked.

    “I think that’s one of my friends.”

    A slightly chubby figure, silhouetted by the torchlight within, slowly limped through the new entrance to the mansion.

    Lucas lifted his phone and switched it to a white screen, using it as a flashlight. Jacob’s grin greeted me through the smoke.

    “Hey hey,” he said.

    He carried a small makeshift satchel over his shoulder. As soon as he reached us he lit his lantern and spilled the contents on the forest floor.

    “Those three tinderboxes are filled with extra gunpowder,” he explained, “I used the scissors to cut the wick on my bomb; we don’t actually need those anymore.”

    “Yes we do,” Lucas interrupted, and started trimming his beard.

    “Who’s this?” Jacob asked.

    I introduced them.

    “Anyways, I brought my lantern and some oil, too,” he finished.

    “That’s good,” I responded, “because something tells me James hasn’t escaped yet.”

    “How would lantern oil help with that?”

    “You’ll see.”

    Jacob pointed us in the direction he saw the helicopter moving earlier and we were off. The fog made it hard to see exactly where we were going, once we hit the trees, but we had a lit lantern now, which made it at the very least easier to stick together. I heard a familiar moan.

    “It’s back.” I whispered. “Jacob, put your lantern out!”

    Lucas readied his phone. I looked over at him. His beard was trimmed down to a neat, respectable, short beard that would last until he got a chance to shave. Excellent work, Lucas.

    We stooped down and moved as quietly as we could among the trees. The brute bellowed from a different side. Was it circling us or were there two? In answer to my thoughts, another moan came from the original source.

    Jacob turned to face me. “I can’t run,” he whispered.

    “Just keep moving. Quietly, carefully.”

    We kept moving, acutely aware of the brutes searching very close by. We heard the rusty scraping and squeaking of one of the brutes getting close. Jacob pulled one of the tinderboxes full of gunpowder from his satchel and punched a hole in the cap with the scissors. He then lit a match and jammed the unlit end through the hole, making a fuse. He threw it as far as he could in the direction of the brute.

    There was the sound of two metallic ricochets. I was about to ask if the match had gone out when there was a loud blast and a flash of light, and I fell backward. We stood up and moved as quickly as we could, which wasn’t very quick with Jacob injured. The brute was still moving around, but both of them sounded like they were converging upon the blast site to investigate. We once again began to go uphill, indicating that there was another lookout hill.

    I took a moment for the first time to really consider this place from inside of it. It looked a lot like a large crater, filled with pine trees, as assessed from the helicopter pad. There were Brennenburgs far away and three within walking distance – presumably my own, Jacob’s and that last one would be James’s.

    The fog itself, broken by tall pine trees, Brennenburgs, and the occasional lookout hill, stretched for miles. I wondered to myself what all of that space was for. I saw a helicopter circling in the distance and pointed it out to Lucas.

    “It could be Jack, I suppose. No way we can find out until we’re out of here.”

    “He’s gotta be tracking our escape closely if he thinks you might be with me.”

    The brutes started to get closer, and we took it as a hint to get moving again. We adjusted our course slightly, seeing that we were not exactly on target with James’s Brennenburg. We carried on this way for a while, quietly keeping ahead of the brutes. They made their glitchy way through the forest, not quite designed for its uneven surface.

    I heard the hum of an electrical fence.

    “Guys, we’re there,” I whispered. “Let’s get inside.”

    Lucas disabled the fence and we found that the scissors were able to make a small opening, which we tore open further. We were at the great door of the entrance hall.

    I got ready to pour lantern oil onto the door when I was interrupted by a scream from within: “Somebody help me!” To be honest, I had only really been around him for a total of around 36 hours, but I recognized the voice as James’s.

    The grunts, still outside of the fence, bellowed at James’s scream.

    “James, shut up and get away from the door!”

    We heard the sound of sprinting, then a mechanical movement.

    “Liam! Hurry up out there!”

    “Do it, Jacob.”

    Jacob backed us all up to the treeline and readied his second bomb, tossing it at the base of the door. The explosion threw me off of my feet and blew the door open. I peered inside. Two grunts had fallen over, felled by shrapnel in the circuits. James poked his very alarmed head around the corner near the staircase, then ran out to greet us. There were tears running down his cheeks.

    There was another bellow behind us and a rattling sound. The first brute charged into the clearing. Lucas raised his phone and tried again with the killswitch thing. The brute stood still, like a statue.

    “Much better,” Lucas sighed in relief.

    The brute suddenly resumed in its animation, charging straight towards its original target: me. There was more rattling as the other made its way through the fence. I sidestepped the first brute’s attack, landing a hit in the back of its leg. The robot didn’t even waver as it turned around for another strike.

    I threw my palm against its chest, and the sensor underneath registered it as an impact. The brute stumbled backward dramatically. My hand really hurt. The robotic monstrosity bellowed and charged again. I readied to strike it when something hit me hard in the side of the head, knocking me off balance. My vision cleared to show that two… three? Four brutes? No, there could only be two. Two of them were advancing towards me. I thought I heard the sound of a helicopter as I faded from consciousness.

  23. #23
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    I considered dividing the book into two major 'parts,' but honestly it would have been a bit odd. At any rate, this would have probably been the final chapter of the first part. Also, it turned out to really only be about a third of the story, so that wouldn't have worked out too well.

    Also, 'protagonistic' is now a word.

    Also, a fun fact: Jack and Lucas are actual people from real life.

    Also threw in a few discreet Castle references. Heehee.

    In which the griefers prove themselves.
    LOADING CHAPTER 8
    CHAPTER 8 LOADED



    I woke up to the definite sound of a helicopter. I was sprawled across some kind of mat, but I could tell there was a hard metal floor beneath it. I opened my eyes. Lucas was kneeling over me, his face clean shaven somehow.

    “No dilation.” He said calmly to someone I couldn’t see. “I think he’s good.”

    I sat up. “We made it then?” I heard a “yup” from the cockpit.

    I was starving.

    “They announced to all personnel that you and the other escapees were likely moving towards James’s Brennenburg. Jack got there before anyone else could.”

    I tried to stand, then fell and dry heaved.

    “Easy there, kiddo. You’re still going to have to recover for a few. Can you two manage him for a moment? I have to go discuss something with my brother.” With that, Lucas stepped into the cockpit, leaving me to discuss our plans with Jacob and James.

    “Have you guys got in touch with John at all?” I asked, hesitant to discuss it.

    “No, have you?”

    “I used Jack’s phone to chat with him earlier, before I found either of you. He’s mad. Says I need to bring you two back and leave forever.”

    Jacob and James looked at each other.

    “For real? He’s that pissed at you?” Jacob asked.

    “Yeah. He blames me for this whole situation.”

    James looked annoyed. “That’s bullshit. We all agreed to it, including him.”

    “Well, he’s mad at me, so I guess we’re going back to City 135.”

    “No, we’re finishing the plan and fuck him.” This was Jacob. “You saved our lives. No way are we selling you out because he had a temper tantrum.”

    “I think the whole thing here is that if we do anything they’ll know who’s behind it.”

    “Then this is where we make them compromise.”

    Lucas stood in the doorway to the cockpit. “We’re going to the station that we were landed at earlier. There are guns in the cockpit if you want them.”

    James got up and went into the cockpit. Jacob and I made our stumbling way after him. There were three pistols in a small container. Jack had a fourth in a holster.

    “During days when I wasn’t bringing people to Brennenburg, I transported mods,” Jack explained. Jacob and James took guns. I took the final one.

    “I liked my revolver, personally,” complained James. I shot him a dirty look. “But this is good too. Thanks.”

    I watched through the window in the cockpit, since as it happened this was the only actual window in the helicopter. We were coming in quick on the helicopter pad. Mod-trainees scrambled to and fro, taking aim. There were flashes of light. A bullet hit hard in the glass of the window, but only made a web of cracks.

    Jack hit a button and we heard the sound of something moving. We ran back to the door, which was now open. Bullets pinged on the inside of the helicopter. James took aim and started shooting as quickly as his gun would allow. A few mod-trainees actually went down. I tried my luck and missed wide on every shot.

    There was a loud crack and a flash of light. A cloud of smoke suddenly came into existence only about a dozen meters from the helicopter. James shouted, “Put us down!”

    There was another loud crack and the whole helicopter shook. My gun hopped from my hands and fell through the open door, myself almost following. The vehicle began to spin.

    Jack shouted, “I think one of the rotors is out. I’ve got no control!” All the noise, save for a single klaxon, had ceased outside of the helicopter. The bottom of the helicopter scraped against the ground and a wheel snapped off. All machinery went silent. We stepped dazedly out of the helicopter. James, Jack, and Jacob were at the ready with their pistols. Compared to the crater, the area up here was slightly hilly and almost devoid of trees. It was freezing.

    A few figures scrambled about the top of the helicopter pad. One waved his arm and pointed toward the helicopter, and a bunch of trainees ran down the flight of stairs to ground level. James leveled his aim and took one of them down. The others raised their weapons to open fire. Jacob lit his final tinderbox bomb and hurled it at the trainees. They tried to run for cover but didn’t have time. The ground rattled with the blast.

    There was a door to the attached facility not too far away. We moved as quickly as we could, accommodating for Jacob’s bad leg. The door had a keypad, and I was closest to it. 9562, right? I entered it and the red and green lights both blinked. 0000. The door shot open. A moderator was posted inside. James shot him before he could even turn to face us. His pistol was now empty.

    There was an assault rifle in the dead mod’s arms and two clips of ammunition on his belt. James took it all. “Oh hell yes,” he said quietly, in a manner which would have been really badass if I could take him seriously. Jacob took a hand grenade off of the man.

    We moved down the corridor towards another door. All of the people who had guns pointed them at the door while Lucas and I moved for the keypad. Suddenly the door opened on its own, revealing three similarly prepared moderators. There was a lot of gunfire and for a moment I thought we were going to lose someone.

    Three more moderators lay dead. Jack and Jacob replaced their guns. I looked at Lucas.

    “You want the last one?” I asked.

    “It’s been years dude. I’d need some training.” He waved for me to grab the last gun. It struck me as odd, until I remembered that there was no way he could know just how inexperienced I was. Jacob gathered up all of the grenades.

    “So Jack,” I began, as we were all creeping along through the hallway, “what is this place, exactly?”

    “The mods have a ring of bases like this around each city. In a situation where a hostile force is moving on the city, they’re supposed to be able to mobilize in full force in a matter of hours. Someone had the bright idea to use it as a pit stop on the way to Brennenburg, hence the civilian helicopter pad with all the trainees.”

    “We’re infiltrating a military base?” I asked, more than a little alarmed.

    “Yes. Yes we are. Expect heavy mods any moment.”

    “Do we even have a plan?” Jacob asked.

    “You guys want to wreak havoc, right? There’s a helicopter pad further in. I could see it from the air. I think they launch combat helicopters there. If we can get a hold of one of those, I can do some serious damage and we can, you know, get the hell out of dodge once and for all.”

    It occurred to me that some helicopters aren’t actually made to accommodate five people, but for lack of a better plan I followed him. I really wanted to kick a door open, but all the doors were steel sliding ones. I was highly disappointed. We heard the sounds of footsteps in another hall, approaching us at a corner.

    Three mods with body armor burst around the corner and raised their weapons to open fire. Heavy moderators were typically not deployed in a police so much as a military context. It made sense that they would be here as we got deeper into their base. Jacob had already pulled the pin on a grenade by the time they reached us. It rolled to them just as they turned the corner.

    I minded the blaring sound of the klaxton, underlying every sound in the area.

    “This can only keep getting worse for us,” I said. “If we don’t find that helicopter soon, this is a loss.”

    Lucas turned to Jack. “Dude, why didn’t we just go when we had the chance? Why did we have to jump straight from the frying pan and into the freaking fire?

    “And what should we have done? Flown all the way to City 135 on a half-empty fuel tank? Do you know how shitty the mileage on that helicopter was?”

    “Yeah, well if you hadn’t flown out here the moment he told you to..!”

    At this point their fight became much more physical and about a million times more stupid. The whole thing eventually just devolved into the two brothers just pushing on each other’s heads with all of their might.

    Jacob had had enough. “Guys! We’re in a military base!”

    “Oh no. Don’t be like him about us fighting.”

    “Well excuse me for being a bit uncomfortable when you fight in the hallway of a military installation with mods converging on our location! I am sorry for being a bit concerned about staying on task! Heaven forbid that we try to actually survive!”

    Jack suddenly poked Lucas in the stomach and Lucas jumped. They grinned and we resumed our journey. I looked at James and we both shrugged. Brothers, he seemed to say. They make no sense.

    At the intersection of two corridors was a dark screen like the one from the sign-up office in the city. Nothing showed on it.

    “Clever bastards,” said Jack. “Instead of painting something like ‘this way to the helicopters’ on their walls, they put it on signs like this. In an emergency, all they have to do is turn off the sign and we’re lost.”

    I enquired, “So we have to wander aimlessly through the halls until we find a helicopter? This place didn’t look too small from above.”

    Jack shook his head and produced from his pocket a small wire. “Before my friend became less of a friend, he explained to me the local storage on these things. Basically as long as no-one changes the display data, they always display the same text if they’re powered. It makes them pretty cheap to fill your buildings with.”

    He pulled the sign from the wall. The rest of us who had guns kept an eye on the halls. The back of it was attached with screws, but he just pried it off. Inside was a thumb-drive-sized storage device connected to a tiny board that then connected to the display screen itself. Jack fished around for something and eventually found it.

    “It draws its power directly from the wall, usually. They turned it off, soooo…” He took the battery that used to be in his phone out of Lucas’s phone. Lucas seemed a bit offended. He then ran the charge from the battery to some part of the sign, which I couldn’t really see.

    ^
    Civ. Helicopters: 300m

    < Mess Hall: 140m
    Mod. Helicopters: 200m >

    Barracks: 100m
    V

    This display showed for about thirty seconds before scrolling to the next set of directions. Jack gave Lucas his battery back and we starting moving in the direction instructed by the machine. A door ahead of us sprang open and heavy mods were on the other side. James and Jack were the only ones who could aim far enough to hit them.

    Jack shouted, “Go for the arms! Their vitals are protected!”

    Felled by extraordinary flesh wounds, the squad refused to give up until Jacob spent another grenade to finish them. James’s gun was empty again. I don’t think he comprehended the difference between ammunition in real life and ammunition in a video game.

    “Do you think they have supply room things?” I asked eloquently.

    “Probably. Keep an eye out for doors off to the side.”

    We explored relatively unhindered for a short while, travelling towards our destination. Eventually we did find a ‘supply room thing.’ It had guns for each of us and a lot of ammunition. The best surprise was the closet full of body armor. We each took a suit and put it over our normal clothes. I was shocked by how much mobility I had. Jacob stocked up on grenades.

    This line of text has no bearing on past, present, or future events of this novel.

    I noticed that Jacob was able to move a lot faster with the support of the body armor. He probably couldn’t run, but we were able to keep a much quicker pace. Soon, we approached a long stretch of window, looking into what at first seemed like some kind of huge courtyard. Then I noticed the three different helicopters.

    Dozens of heavy mods milled about the helicopters, presumably in a trap for us. We kept our heads low as we passed the window.

    “My vote,” said Jacob in a whisper, “is to not use the door.”

    “How many hand grenades do you think it would take to make us an entrance?” Jack inquired.

    “Just one if you know what you’re doing.”

    “Do you know what you’re doing?”

    “Usually.”

    “Go for it.”

    Jacob motioned us all to safety and rolled a grenade to a position right under the window. There was a loud blast and we booked it to our new entrance. The heavy mods were still confused by the sudden explosion when we got there. I opened fire and heard James doing the same behind me. A bullet slammed into my chest but didn’t make it through the armor.

    “The middle one,” shouted Jack. “Go for the middle helicopter!”

    Lucas, in spite of having gone years without touching a gun, managed to bring an impressive number of heavy mods to the ground. Before he went to Brennenburg, he must have been a killing machine.

    Jacob attacked the other helicopters themselves with his grenades, ensuring uncontested dominance of the air. The copious amount of explosions was unpleasant to the ears, but I could tell it was taking its toll on the mods. Jack moved ahead of all of us and was the first into the helicopter. He started the rotors.

    I climbed in after him and soon Jacob and Lucas followed. James lingered for a moment then climbed in. The doors slammed shut and I felt the shift in forces as we left the ground.

    “Alright, everyone, this helicopter has two guns on it, and neither of them are operated by the pilot,” Jack explained to us from the cockpit. “I want James on the machine gun. Jacob, there’s a missile launcher mounted near the back. You’ve got six shots. Make ‘em count.”

    James started to shoot at whatever James felt it was necessary to shoot at. I peered out of the window in the cockpit, for lack of anything else to contribute than my eyes. The flak started again. I could just barely see where the gun was. Jack turned the helicopter some number of degrees and Jacob fired his first missile. A plume of flames engulfed their only anti-aircraft gun.

    I watched closely. Their inner helicopter pad was already in ruins. Jacob took out the other one, where we had first landed for fuel. God I was hungry. Jacob carefully neglected to destroy the communications antenna until after their fuel reserves, barracks, and an assortment of buildings I didn’t recognize were smoldering. At last he had spent his last rocket and we got going.

    Lucas tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his phone. There was a PartyChat log open on it.

    You have updated your PartyChat Mobile to V. 4.25.1

    Semicolon[megamodadmin] is chatting you!

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I hadn’t expected you to rear your head.

    Greenroman11: Shocking, isn’t it?

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Nothing personal about earlier, you know.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I need to talk to O’Connor.

    Greenroman11: And I need to talk to Ducky.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Can’t do it, I’m afraid.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I know you are mad at him but I’m asking you to help ME out here.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I need to talk to O’Connor.

    Greenroman11: I’m not helping you.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I’m trying to find a way to resolve this conflict with as little bloodshed as possible.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: If you want to hold onto your grudge, fine. Be my guest. I’ll see you soon and we’ll fight it out and we both know I’ll win.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: But if you don’t let me talk to O’Connor

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: A lot of people are going to get injured who really don’t have to.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: That will be on your hands.

    Greenroman11: tl;dr

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Put O’Connor on or a lot of people will die because your little crew is unstoppable and so is mine.

    Greenroman11: Alright, but we’re going to have a serious discussion about Ducky.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: We’ll see.


    What the hell kind of secrets were Jack and Lucas keeping from us? I elected to wait until a better time to ask.

    /logout

    /login

    Username: AndromedaPancake

    *Password:•••••••••••

    *Note that passwords are case-sensitive

    You have logged in as AndromedaPancake.

    AndromedaPancake: I get the feeling that those two are keeping secrets from me.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Yes.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Yes they are.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: That’s an irrelevant issue, Mr. O’Connor.

    AndromedaPancake: Not when one of them is piloting me around god-knows-where.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Do you have any idea what time it is?

    AndromedaPancake: Not really. I’ve been a bit busy.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Serves you right for not enabling timestamps.

    AndromedaPancake: They clutter the screen!

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: It’s 4:27 AM where you are right now.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: It’s 2:27 AM where I am.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: That’s not a time that I like being called to hear that a handful of people are blowing up one of my bases.

    AndromedaPancake: Well, Mr. Semicolon, I’m sorry you had to wake up.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Actually, I was at a LAN party.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I might also be a weee bit drunk.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I want to talk peace, Liam.

    AndromedaPancake: We turn ourselves in and no-one gets hurt, right?

    AndromedaPancake: Still not going back on it.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I would assume that the plan was to do this damage incognito.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Thus making us too busy to chase after five or six griefers hiding in the alleys.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Admittedly, it was a bit stupid of Roberts to just send you to Brennenburg without even questioning why you were going.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Cut him some slack though.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: He just finished his training.

    AndromedaPancake: Okaaaay...

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: If what you want is a bit of room for your new friends

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I can get that for you.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I dug up the logs and I don’t think you actually were a griefer before the incident the other day.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I can make the mods of City 135 overlook this incident.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: As long as you’re not starting any new trouble, we can call it a truce.

    AndromedaPancake: You can do that?

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: If it means saving a few dozen mods from marching to their doom against you, sure.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I’m fully aware of your protagonistic traits, Liam.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: It’s all in the files.

    AndromedaPancake: A truce?

    AndromedaPancake: That’s it?

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: For now.

    AndromedaPancake: You have a deal.


    I rejoiced a bit inside and then told James and Jacob. They seemed pretty relieved. Finally, I handed Jacob the phone and Lucas seemed a bit annoyed.

    “Can you tell John about this for me? He blocked me on PartyChat.”

    With that I went to take the world’s longest nap.

    It was a pretty long nap.

  24. #24
    DQ 1337 Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Let's get this show back on the road.

    LOADING INTERMISSION 5
    INTERMISSION 5 LOADED



    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Here I was thinking it was just Ottowa.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I don’t think it’s all of City 135.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Seems like some griefers are trying to make some room for themselves.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Can we not kill them?

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: We could for certain, but not without doing a lot of damage to our own property.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I think it would be best to play diplomats for a little while.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I’ll offer them a truce.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: It isn’t over, I assure you.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I have reason to believe that TauTaco and AndromedaPancake are at odds already.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Besides

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: A newbie mod managed to corral three of them onto a helicopter when they were in the city.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: We’ll get them soon enough.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Jack and Lucas weren’t with them at the time.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I would hazard a guess that Jack and Lucas have bigger plans than whatever is cooking in City 135.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: I’m going to be posting a few extra h-mods around the Ducky-Fortress, by the way.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Lucas and I had a brief chat earlier and he seemed pretty steamed.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: You talked to him?

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Shit.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: They took one of our helicopters.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Wrecked the Brennenburg base.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: If they keep making themselves known, we’ll find them.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Excellent.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: LOL!

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Man, it’s really hard to laugh maniacally in a chat client.

    Semicolon[megamodadmin]: Just do it on voice chat later and we’ll say it was for this conversation.

    DuckyRoanNubbles[bestadmin]: Works for me.

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