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    Facing Nightmares

    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 60
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 368.75

    Facing Nightmares Empty Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 17th April 2019, 8:24 pm

    What?:

    Free form job
    Approval, post 94

    Katsumi paced in the center of the square. It wasn't the main square, not filled with tons of people. Her uncle had chosen a good place to hide his projects. Right under the noses of the magic council. Those righteous bastards hadn't realized he made two additional death games until after he'd vanished and SAO was well underway. She shuddered trying not to succumb to the memories of that horrible game. They were all gone now. Everyone she'd made friends within that place. They'd vanished into the aethers the moment the game had released them all. Maybe those relationships hadn't been as real for them as they'd been for her. Okay, maybe not everyone was gone. There were a few she still saw. Elizabeth being one of them. Katsumi wouldn't have her Henkan without that woman.

    Now she had to face that terrible reality again. Her uncle had created GGO and ALO in addition to SAO. The magic council wanted her to enter each of those games and find a way to shut them down. A task that was nearly impossible by herself. Perhaps that was why they'd sent out a notice. A notice that was vague as could be. 'Help wanted by the Magic Council. Will be paid 25000 jewels and get recognition from the MC.' Then it rattled of this square's address and Katsumi's name as the contact. Bunch of idiots.

    They expected her to make the initial dive today with whoever showed up. Brilliant idea. She'd be taking a newb into a potentially deadly situation with little idea of what they faced. All she had an idea of was the pictures and the project names her uncle had used. Project Fairies and Project Guns. There were helpful little pictures on the consoles thankfully. ALO was a game centered around Fairies. GGO was the one centered around guns. Despite being a Rune Knight, Katsumi wanted to strangle the magic council. How was she supposed to keep a newb alive in a place she was unfamiliar with?

    GGO seemed to be less complicated from what she could see. Point gun, shoot things trying to kill you. However, it was also designed to be more deadly as a result. Nearly everything was trying to kill you. The environment, the creatures, even the NPCs around town. Kiyaba Akahoshi really knew how to put a downer on games. ALO was more complicated, more fantastical with a worldwide war going on between the races of the fairies. Simple enough especially with safe neutral zones provided for rest. Katsumi was leery of those, however. Her uncle wasn't one to provide safe passage in his games.

    A few people walking into the square caught her attention. She put on her best smile and strolled up to them. They were clutching the notice in their hands. "Hello there! I'm Katsumi Akahoshi. I see you've brought the notice from the council. Would you be here about the job offer?" After a round of mumbled assurances, Katsumi gestured to the dead fountain in the center of the square. "Join me over there then please and I'll explain what we'll be doing today. You can decide if the reward is worth it or not afterward." A few gave her surprised looks. They apparently hadn't thought it would be that dangerous. Two actually dropped the notice and walked from the square. That was fine. Where they would have been headed wasn't for the faint of heart.

    Katsumi climbed up onto the edge of the fountain. There were about five people still here. Good. That was a fair sized party. Assuming all of them stayed that way. "Right I'm not sure how many of you heard about SAO. It was a game designed by a madman that managed to kill four thousand of the initial ten thousand players. It did this by trapping them within the game and magically frying their brains if they died in the game." Katsumi took a deep breath. Now to deliver the final blow. "The magic council discovered that madman created two more games. Today, I'll be leading you into one of them on a cursory exploration. We won't go too far in but the chance of death is very real. If you can't handle that please leave."

    Unsurprisingly, none of them really wanted to stay and risk their necks. Katsumi sat down on the edge of the fountain dejected. She wasn't sure she could do this by herself. SAO she'd known like the back of her hand. Heck, she'd even brought its 'magic' out into the real world. These games would be entirely new. She needed someone to watch her back or there wasn't a chance in hell she'd make it back out alive.

    WC: 856
    856/7,000
    @Shane Stern


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 473
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 19,325

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 24th June 2019, 7:57 pm

    Shane read the message addressed to him with frown on his face, as he tried to come to terms with the contents. It was a request from the Magic Council, a follow up to what was once a major event in Fiore caused by a game designer called Kiyaba Akahoshi and a virtual reality game he had created that had trapped the minds of the gamers within the game for a few years. Their only salvation: for the gamers to beat the game and escape their virtual prison. And the kicker? Death was very permanent in that game.

    Within the letter, it was stated very clearly that Katsumi Akahoshi, one of the survivors of that death game and also the niece of Kiyaba, had been dispatched to check out two more games. Apparently, Kiyaba had created two more virtual reality games, and considering the lesson learnt from the first incident, the Magic Council wanted to make sure that the two games were safely closed down. However, what struck Shane as more important was that Katsumi was also a member of the Spec Ops division.

    The letter had mentioned that the Magic Council had also sent out various requests to other guilds, for any interested job-takers who would want to join Katsumi on her mission. The place to rendezvous was in the letter and that was all Shane needed. The Rune Knight took his legs off his office desk and leaned forward in his chair, his booted feet dropping down to the ground with a loud thump. He made no effort to keep the volume of his actions low, since the shared office was only occupied by him right now. There hadn’t been another Captain appointed for the Spec Ops division, as far as he knew of.

    The Rune Knight Captain stood up from his seat, tucking his chair into the table’s leg space before turning around to the right. The office was a simple affair, with a door in the middle of the wall to the left. Anybody who came in would find themselves into a rectangular room, the door in the middle of the rectangle’s long side. There would a desk on each side of the room, facing each other with a bunch of filing cabinets behind each table. And to the wall facing the door, another steel locker would be perpendicular to the filing cabinets, where the Captains could hang up their coats or store their weapons.

    He opened the locker, his right hand reaching out for the hanger of his uniform and then paused. Since it was virtual reality, there was probably no need for him to be formal. With a nod to his own thoughts, the Rune Knight withdrew his hand and then moved it downwards as he picked up Breaker in its leather sheath and tied it to his waist, the sheath and weapon positioned horizontally at the small of his back, with the handle protruding out to the right side.
    With nothing else to take, since the majority of his weapons were in his storage dimension,
    Shane exited the room, closing the door slowly behind him. It took him only an hour by motorcycle, as he sped down the roads between Crocus and Era. Disregarding traffic laws that he was supposed to enforce, the Rune Knight maintained his speed as he drove through the wide streets of Crocus, masterfully evading the pedestrians and other vehicles with ease until he reached the square.

    The Rune Knight Captain jammed down on the brakes right before crashing into the fountain, causing the brakes to squeal and shriek from the sudden activation and friction. The rear wheel slid on the ground, the bike held in place by the already stopped front wheel until the entire vehicle was parked parallel to the fountain’s edges. Burnt rubber marks had been traced into the ground, but nothing a little good scrubbing couldn’t get rid of.

    “Hi Katsumi. I’m Shane Stern,” the man said as he got off his bike and walked up to the brunette sitting at the edge of the fountain. With a grin on his face, he continued to speak.
    “We fought together during the HQ invasion. Ah, although when you saw me, I was looking… slightly different.”

    [699 words]
    [Total WC: 1555 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 60
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 368.75

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 25th June 2019, 1:10 am

    Katsumi sat on the fountain with her head in her hands. She struggled against the avalanche of feelings that threatened to overwhelm her. She hadn't made it through SAO by herself. There had been those by her side helping her along the way. Each had fallen away, some dying, some giving up hope, others stepping down a darker path. She'd been weak. Unable to handle things without a hand to hold. Once all her support was gone, the black swordswoman had stopped. The murder was the only reason she had pushed forward once more. Now she faced yet another death game. One that could easily swallow her whole. She might never come back from GGO.

    The squeal of tires broke her reverie. The swordswoman leaped to her feet. Henkan I came out, activating with a flourish. Confusion crossed her features at the friendly greeting. Did they know each other? Was he here from the Council? The tip of her sword dipped at his approach. His smile set off all her womanly desires. His further explanation led to the Henkan returning to her belt. Since she had seen the redhead around HQ recently, this must have been the gray-haired gentleman. She wasn't sure if she should mourn the loss of that bod or celebrate this new one.

    "Hi!" She piped up happily. A wide smile spread across her face. "It's nice to officially meet you. You definitely look different. Did your Strength stat increase?" Katsumi paced around Shane, taking him in. She might be able to translate his abilities into GGO if needed. There might be some difficulty - OMG was that a knife?! And not just any knife! She could feel power pouring off of it. "Shane! Shane! What's your knife's name?! What can it do? What's it made out of? Do you know if it was enchanted with runes or sequences?!" She fired off one question after another without hardly any breath in between. All of a sudden she stopped and held out a chocolate cookie to him. "Would you like a cookie?"

    Katsumi was painfully aware her Charisma score was very low. It always got her into trouble. Some people saw her as cute. Others saw her as annoying. If Shane was here to help, she didn't want to drive him away. Cookies provided a big boost to Charisma challenges. Though it might only negate the negatives of her weapon babble. Katsumi couldn't help it. When she saw a weapon, she couldn't help but want to know what it was all about. Speaking of which, she needed to fix the Henkan and make her own unique weapon. Scythes were cool. A big Scythe would make people take her seriously.

    "I'm sorry. I get excited when I see a cool weapon. Let me begin again?" Katsumi cleared her throat. "Are you here to help me with the GGO problem? Please say yes. The other mages that came left once they realized how dangerous it was." Katsumi bit her lip, looking at the ground. Her hand came up to clutch her arm. "I don't know how much you know about the SAO incident. I can explain if you wish. Um, I do want to say I don't think I can do this without help. I won't force you to stay though." Katsumi started rubbing her arm. Shane was her last chance to have someone at her back. If he left, she'd be on her own. "There is a very real chance that we won't come back. If we're detected while scouting out the game, Uncle... Kiyaba... Mr. Akahoshi can lock us into it. That will force us to complete the game before we can escape. Realistically that could take years." Katsumi slowly raised her face. Her eyes were steely, her mouth set in a firm line. "Are you with me?"

    After Shane's answer was given, Katsumi walked to a nearby wall. If his answer was positive, she walked with a skip. Otherwise, she walked with her head down. Placing her hand upon the wall, Katsumi put her face near a peculiar hole in the wall. A blue light shot out to pass over her eye. The same light passed over the hand on the wall. 'Emergency Administrator Katsumi Akahoshi recognized. Unveiling the Portal of Guns.' A robotic voice informed them after a moment. The wall melted away to reveal an archway. The arch was created from many guns melted together with the barrels all pointing toward the top. Katsumi gave Shane an embarrassed smile if he was still there. "I'm not sure why he made me an admin. Making me a mere mod would have been sufficient for his plan. Unless there's more to it I can't see..." Katsumi pulled out a cookie to nibble on it nervously as she stepped through the archway. Her resistance to fear was nowhere near enough for this situation. Katsumi had no idea what they were walking into.

    WC: 824
    Total WC: 2379 / 7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 473
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 19,325

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 26th June 2019, 12:47 am

    Shane was reassured when the smile returned to the female Rune Knight’s face at his approach. It seemed like the Magic Council’s attempts to build her a squad for the upcoming mission had fallen apart. He understood though, that it was an unnecessary risk to ask of the average mage. Dying from gaming wasn’t exactly the most honorable way to kick the bucket. He agreed with that point, but for now, his intention was to make sure his colleague was safe and would return in one piece, not with her brain fried. But Shane wasn’t prepared for her rapid fire questions. He had only gotten a taste of it during the invasion, but that had been a fleeting memory.

    And then a chocolate cookie was thrust out. The moment Shane nodded and accepted the cookie, Katsumi began speaking again, this time going directly into the meat of the subject. Knowing that it was an unstoppable train once she began to speak, Shane made sure he caught everything as he nibbled on the cookie before finishing it in three large bites. It was a good cookie.

    “Okay, first up. The knife. It’s called Breaker. I’m not really sure what it’s made of, but it can do this,” Shane explained as he pulled out his weapon from the sheath behind his waist. He held it with the tip pointing upwards and at his mental command, Breaker fully extended from a combat knife to a spear, the end of the hilt hitting the ground with a dull thunk. “Handy eh?”

    Once the demonstration was done, Shane commanded it to return to its combat knife form and sheathed it back. His hands then moved to his chests, crossing them and he gave Katsumi a more concerned look.

    “I wasn’t in the Rune Knights yet when the SAO incident hit the news but I did glint enough information from the local news network at that time to get the gist of it. I do understand the danger of it all, so yea, I’m prepared.”

    When he had said his piece, the two of them then walked over to a nearby wall. Katsumi walked with a skip, Shane taking it as a positive indication as he walked behind her. What happened next left him stunned as the wall melted away, brick after brick, to be replaced by an arch completely made up of guns of all shapes and sizes.

    “The Portal of Guns…” Shane mumbled as he touched the firearms that made up the arch. They were all real. He tried to look into the portal but it was all a blurry mess, showing nothing useful beyond the archway.

    “Is there anything that I need to be aware of before I go through? Oh never mind,” Shane said, his question too slow as Katsumi had already crossed into the archway. Shrugging, Shane strode through the arch as well, not knowing what would take place on the other side.

    [492 words]
    [Total WC: 2871 / 7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 60
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 368.75

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 27th June 2019, 8:06 am

    Katsumi oohed over the weapon. Her eyes sparkled as she analyzed the weapon. "Interesting. The enchantment is woven into the fabric of the metal allowing the expansion or reduction of size. Definitely handy." It would be beneficial to bring such a weapon with them into GGO. It would be an instant red flag though. Whenever Shane used it, Uncle Kiyaba would be able to hone onto their location. No Stealth stat would be high enough to hide them. Katsumi rubbed her chin. Did the pros outweigh the cons? A question to answer later.

    On the other side of the arch, Katsumi froze. Her cookie nearly dropped to the floor. SAO was designed to be played from the safety of one's room. The Magic Council had never allowed her to see the servers. This was a look at the inner workings of her Uncle's games. Several large lacrima stood in rows on either side. Each pulsed slowly with magical energy. The clear color of the lacrima was disrupted by veins in a variety of colors. The overall effect looked like the lacrima were alive. These were the information lacrima. Damage to these could cause GGO to destabilize and shut down. The MC had almost done just that. Katsumi shuddered thinking of the thousands of lives that had almost been snuffed out.

    Past the massive Lacrima were five beds. They looked like beds anyways. Blue lacrima jutted out from the wall above them. The rectangle had metallic bars rising from every side. The entire thing was bathed in blue light. Katsumi remembered helping her Uncle code the magic for those. She shivered, rubbing her arms at the memory. She could have stopped all this. To the left and right of the beds was a series of rectangles set into the walls. Touching those would bring up access and information holograms. There was a cabinet set off to the side. Those probably held the Augment. Made entirely out of Lacrima, those devices allowed one to access her Uncle's games. Her fingers came up to idly trace the scar on her cheek.

    Looking behind her, Kat saw Shane step through the portal. Good, his HP hadn't dropped to zero from the trip. Katsumi nearly handed him another cookie. "Welcome to the server room of GGO." Her voice lacked its usually cheerful demeanor. The expression on her face wasn't happy either. Being here obviously drained her spirits. Her Wisdom wasn't high enough to hold back all this spirit drain. "Before we get started, is there anything you want inside GGO? A weapon, your magic, anything? I can code things so what we are inside isn't much different from out here. I could also boost our stats but that wouldn't really help. It'd be one massive signal to my uncle. Though too much use of foreign elements - aka anything I code for us - will send up a signal as well."

    The black haired woman led the way to the back of the room. Stripping off her Rune Knight overcoat, Katsumi stood in a black bodysuit. "I can, at least, give us our current stats. If you wouldn't mind climbing into one of those bed-like things?" A swipe of her hand brought the holograms online. She tapped a hologram a couple of times. A masculine figure filled the screen. The figure lacked any details and was completely grey. Katsumi smiled at Shane. If Shane climbed into the bed, the blue light swiftly transferred his image onto the hologram. Katsumi tapped a few things before telling Shane, "All done!" Otherwise, Katsumi began filling in the magical code herself. The petite woman did her best to get a close approximation of Shane and his abilities - those she knew about anyway.

    Katsumi reached into the cabinet. There was clear hesitation in her movements. Taking out two of the Augments Katsumi held one out to Shane. "This is how we'll enter the game. Put it on, like so." She demonstrated. The Augment lined up perfectly with the scar on her face. Little doubt could be had as to what left that mark. "Then slide your finger along this part. That'll pull you into the game. Make sure you're lying down first though! Otherwise, you'll fall over."

    Katsumi took a deep breath. "You'll be in different clothes and probably holding a gun when we arrive. The idea is to see how dangerous this game is as well as attempt to locate the players... If it isn't too bad, the MC will send in their own squads to deal with it. We... I have to shut it down if it is above their acceptable threshold. Um, that's it. Let's go." Katsumi sat down in a nearby chair and activated her Augment. It went through the system checks before sucking her mind into the game.

    The Rune Knight came to in a desert. There wasn't any sign of civilization that she could see. A few scraps of metal jutted from the sand. Great. Middle of nowhere. Time to see what her avatar was equipped with. She looked down. The shriek that left her mouth would have stunned a level 21 goblin. She was in a bikini! Worse than that, the bikini didn't cover hardly anything! Katsumi dropped the pistol she'd been holding as she crouched in the sand. Her knees came up to her chest and she wrapped her arms around them. Her Intelligence score wasn't low enough to walk around like this. There was no blonde bimbo here! What was she going to do?!

    WC: 924
    Total WC: 3775 / 7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 473
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 19,325

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 29th June 2019, 3:02 am

    Unsure of what to expect beyond the portal, Shane had thought that the Portal of Guns would have directly brought them into the virtual world of Gun Gale Online, but it seems he was misinformed. The blonde soldier looked around the moment he was completely through the portal, which had disappeared after he had walked through it. What greeted him was a rather interesting room. And it seemed like the one leading him into the room, Katsumi was surprised in equal measures as well.

    As Shane took in the layout of the room as well as the strange looking equipment in the room, he walked around, lightly touching the items that he passed by with his fingertips. He definitely recognized the large lacrimas that stood in rows, the magical energy pulsing within them influencing his breathing as it matched the rhythm of the lacrimas’ pulse. The magical energy in the entire room was dense, struggling to find an exit as they were contained in the room.
    And then it all made sense when Katsumi said this was the server room. Shane was already at the beds, standing at the foot of one of them. They were probably going to do the dive in one of these specially prepared beds.

    “I think it’s fine. You can just connect us into the game. As long as there’s a weapon, anything at all, when I appear on the other side, I’m good,” Shane said. It was a handicap to be going in without his magical abilities, but as Katsumi had explained, if they were to enter the game with anything that wasn’t within the game’s parameters, her uncle would know of their presence.
    When Katsumi said that he would equipped with a gun when they arrive, Shane was slightly relieved, showing apparently on his face.

    “We are going to shut it down when it comes to that,” Shane reiterated after Katsumi had corrected herself, smiling reassuringly when he said it. Lying on his selected bed, Shane followed exactly what Katsumi had instructed and within seconds, he was no longer lying on the bed.

    The next time he opened his eyes, Shane was standing in the middle of a desert. A wave of nausea swept over him, as his mind fought against what his senses were telling him. While his mind was continuously telling him this was a virtual world, all of his senses perceived this place to be real. Dropping to his knees, Shane dry heaved for a bit before he could finally stop. As he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, Shane took note of his current appearance. Eyebrows raised as he looked down, the Rune Knight was dismayed to find himself wearing only a black shorts, tightly hugging his pelvic area.

    A leather holster was tied around his right thigh, prompting Shane to pull out the gun and inspect it. It was smaller than what he handled normally, but the lightness of the weapon along with its larger capacity made for an intimidating weapon. Once done with his self-inspection, the Rune Knight turned around in place, and his eyes widened again when he realized he was alone. There was no sight of Katsumi at all.

    Shane sighed in annoyance, but he figured that it was probably the random spawning mechanic of the game. Just as he was pondering what he was to do now, he began hearing loud laughs and conversation. A quick look to his left showed him a huge rock and he dashed over to it, laying in its shadows as he watched the approaching group of players. There were three of them, all dressed in a thick hooded robe that protected them from the elements of the desert. And behind them was a horse, laden with their items and gear.

    Smirking, Shane pulled his gun from his holster and waited for them to come closer. It was fortunate for him, that they would pass the rock, the trio continuing to chat and laugh. Shane could hear them boasting about some type of record, their best sniping distance or something like that. This was a game where players would combat each other with guns, and Shane was more than prepared for this.

    The moment they passed by the large rock, Shane skulked around the rock and with a swiftness only a trained soldier would have, Shane’s left hand wrapped around the neck of the player lagging behind and pulled to the left with an abrupt motion, spinning the player right into the rock where a sickening crack sounded. But the Rune Knight didn’t even bother to look. He would have to take down the other two before they could react. They outnumbered him and were probably better equipped than he was. Gun in his hand, Shane crouched down and sprayed them with bullets, making sure to only hit their hands.

    “These guys die in real life if they die here, Shane. You better not trip up,” the Rune Knight mumbled to himself as he finally forced the two of them to drop their weapons. He couldn’t see their HP bar, but Shane was quite sure that they had taken some substantial damage, since he had been quite true with his aim. The one who had been smashed into the rock began to groan and get back up to his feet. Without any warning, Shane stood back up and kicked the player in the back of the knee, causing him to buckle and drop into a kneel.

    It was convenient for Shane as he just moved slightly and then used his left hand to hold the kneeling player’s lower jaw tightly with an upwards force, while his right hand, holding the gun, was placed to the side of his head.

    “Are you a Red?”

    “His diamond is still black. But I bet he’s one of them Reds. One of the newer ones.”

    “Does this gun to your friend’s head not bother you?” Shane snapped, frowning at their attitude despite this being their actual life and death.

    “He’s right guys! Can you just shut up for a second? Hello, it’s my head being held to a gun here!” the hostage shouted at his comrades, equally peeved at their nonchalance and panicking. He had heard the rumors that those who did die in the game was as dead as possible in the real world.

    “At least someone’s paying attention here. Listen up! Drop your cloaks, your weapons on hand, your clothes and empty your inventory,” Shane ordered. When the three of them didn’t make any move, the Rune Knight lowered his aim and shot the hostage through his shoulder. A cry of pain and shock came from the guy. “Now.”

    With a hurry, all three of them began to drop everything they had that could be physically seen and also whatever was in their virtual inventory. Shane had moved his gun slightly and withdrew his hand, but his gun was still pointed at the back of the player’s head. When the three of them, thankfully all males, had been stripped clean, Shane motioned in the direction that they came from with his head.

    “Good. You guys can go now,” Shane remarked casually, gun still held high, as he moved to face the entire trio. The trio looked at him with vengeful expressions, but unarmed and the risk of death very real, they withdrew and ran back in the direction where they had come from. They didn’t even try to bargain for the horse, knowing that it would probably just get another bullet and drop a notch further in their HP bar.

    When he had finally made sure that they were out of his sight, Shane began to check the three piles on the ground. The Rune Knight sifted through the three piles, pulling out articles of clothing that would suit him and began putting them on. When he was finally done, he was wearing a pair of black jeans with knee pads buckled around it, a white short-sleeved T-shirt and a black bomber jacket with fur-lined collar. A new pistol with a full cartridge was sheathed in his thigh holster, while he strapped a submachine gun across his front. Three grenades were clipped to his belt. The rest were all bundled up and stored into his virtual inventory.
    They would be given to Katsumi when he finally found her.

    “Looks like it’s just you and me, buddy. Well, time to look for Katsumi,” the blonde soldier said as he pulled himself onto the horse and began riding towards one of the higher sand dunes.

    [1435 words]
    [Total WC: 5210/7000]


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 60
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 368.75

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 7th July 2019, 11:47 am

    Katsumi rapidly shifted through every option she had. Somehow the spawning had gone wrong. She'd ended up with nothing more than a pistol for starting gear. Shane was probably in the same boat. Logging out was an option. It would be a waste of time. Now that the data was set, they couldn't alter their starting gear. It'd be the same problem all over again. Opening a back door gleamed as an option. She could open doors into the program. Pull out the biggest, baddest weapons in the game. Wait. Katsumi checked the stats of her pistol. As the screen popped up on her HUD, the swordswoman cursed. There was a stat requirement for weapons.

    Checking her personal stats came next. Her STR stat was low. Not a huge loss despite it preventing her use of heavier weapons. Her AGI stat was abnormally high. It looked like there were a few bonus skills attached to that. She'd have to check them out later. Her VIT, DEX, SEN, and LUK stats all appeared to be normal. With the danger in this game, those SEN and LUK stats would need to increase quickly. Right after she found herself some gear. Katsumi had nearly forgotten her predicament while wrapped up in her stats.

    Staying here wouldn't help her. Breaking into the code now would only alert her uncle. Curse the Magic Council! There was a reason Katsumi didn't like going to the beach. Other girls had bodies to be proud of. Katsumi hated hers. She was still rather thin from SAO. There was no chest or butt to speak of even when she was in shape. The black-haired mage sighed heavily. Why couldn't she be pretty? No boy would ever stay with her. There'd be too much eye candy luring them away.

    Katsumi shook herself. Enough of that. Self-defeating BS was what had caused her friends to die. Her cowardice had held them back. She wouldn't do that anymore. She wasn't a frightened little girl. This was her world. A rumbling noise drew her attention. Katsumi blinked. Motorcycle? GGO was different from SAO. Yet that noise took her by surprise. She was in the middle of a desert and a motorcycle was tearing through the sand.

    Her old gaming instincts took over. The mage dropped to the sand. The motorcycle had to be nearby. Judging by the sound, it would come over the far dune about... now! Sure enough, a sleek metallic shape crested the dune. It didn't look like Shane's motorcycle from earlier. There were no wheels and a black top covered the rider. The rider's sides were left open. It appeared to be hovering over the sand. As the vehicle approached, Katsumi noticed the red particles leaking from the player's avatar. They were injured. Most likely, a bleeding effect kept their HP dropping for a set amount of time. She could use that. They would have to stop soon to treat it or risk dying. All the swordswoman had to do was wait.

    Katsumi was up and running the moment the motorcycle stopped. The top opened. It revealed a woman in a black bodysuit. A sniper rifle hung over her shoulder. Twin pistols were strapped to her thighs. A few clips were stuck into a bandolier crossing her body. Long blonde hair caught in the wind. Katsumi noted her name . The gamer cursed briefly. She was an idiot. There was a friend system in this game. It functioned the same as SAO. She could easily send Shane a friend request. That would allow the two of them to find one another. Time for that later.

    L3x1 climbed off her bike to open her inventory. In those scant seconds, Katsumi hopped on the bike. "Sorry, I'm borrowing this!" She shouted. The top came down over her. The vehicle roared, rearing in the sand as it shot forward. Katsumi lost her breath. Note to self: learn how to drive vehicles in GGO. A blinking red light on her HUD warned her she'd nearly blown up the bike. A secondary red prompt told her being caught with stolen goods brought down the law. Katsumi shuddered. The law functions in most games were vastly more powerful than players. They were often designed to kill players who committed crimes the creators found abhorrent. She'd have to ditch the bike before they went into any town. Pity.

    Once she was far enough away, Katsumi sent Shane a friend request. She snickered a little at the name she'd chosen for him once the prompt appeared. >Kirito< has sent a friend request to >Captain Fiore< There was a glitch in the system from the looks of it. The friend request shouldn't have let her see Shane's position until he accepted it. Despite that, she could clearly see where Shane was on her minimap. That worked out well. The motorcycle turned with her mental command. Time to go collect her teammate.

    Katsumi slid the motorcycle to a stop fifty meters from Shane. It seemed he had spawned in with clothing. Lucky bastard. How to do this? She did not want Shane to see her unattractive body. With how hot that man was, Katsumi would die of embarrassment. The swordswoman had forgotten the sides of the motorcycle were open for all to see. She opted to stick a hand out. Waving at Shane, she called out "Hi Shane! It's me, Katsumi! You wouldn't happen to have any extra clothing, would you? I was spawned in with barely a stitch on me." Hopefully, he had something to spare. Maybe he could give his shirt up if he didn't. Katsumi would not mind staring at that chest for the rest of the day.

    WC: 952
    Total: 6162/7000


    Last edited by Katsumi on 12th July 2019, 11:38 am; edited 1 time in total


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 473
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 19,325

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 11th July 2019, 2:49 am

    As he rode the horse aimlessly through the desert, only hoping that the randomly selected direction would bring him to Katsumi, Shane took his time to observe his surroundings. The environment of the game felt so real to all of his senses, as if he had really been transported to Desierto instead of inside a game. The arid wind, the few vultures soaring in the skies above, the cloudless sky, and even how the sand reacted to each and every step of the horse’s movements amazed the Rune Knight. It was no wonder that some of the players in the previous LAO game had been so deeply immersed in the game that the game had become a second life to them, apart from the fact that they were trapped.

    Shane also understood how this was a way for people to escape reality, to get away from the confines of the real world. It was a gateway to a new world, where the anonymity and ability to choose how they looked like, made the access even more desirable. As another gust of wind blew past, Shane’s sight was occupied by the horizontal bar that was permanently situated at the top left of his sight, currently entirely filled with green. He knew it was his HP bar, and should it ever drop to zero, that would be his end here and back in Fiore. He tried moving his head a few times, shifting his vision but the bar remained floating in the same position.

    He heard a rumbling in the distance, the sound getting louder and louder rapidly as whatever caused it got nearer. Shane recognized it, the sound of a motorbike, but the sound was more streamlined. Smoother. And he smiled when the rider poked out a hand from the side of the vehicle to wave, the voice accompanying it laying rest to his worries.

    “Well, you won’t believe my luck then. I bumped into three players and robbed them of their items,” Shane said as he dismounted from the horse by directly jumping off it. He landed in the sand with a soft thump and then walked up to Katsumi’s vehicle, his fingertips brushing along the curvature of the top. “How do I pass the stuff to you? Earlier they just dropped it onto the ground, but I think there’s some trading mechanics that we could use?”

    Once Katsumi taught him how to trade, he would be able to pass him the remaining clothing he had robbed from the three players earlier which consisted of the desert cloak and other clothing articles that he didn't bother to identify. He figured Katsumi could just take a look and choose to put on whatever she wanted. He would also pass her a pair of pistols and a submachine gun. He gave the vehicle another lookover.

    “Would this thing be able to take two passengers?”

    [482 words]
    [Total WC: 6649 / 7000]


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    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt
    Katsumi
    Katsumi

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Feeling Empty
    Position : None
    Posts : 60
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 368.75

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Katsumi on 17th July 2019, 9:02 am

    Katsumi frowned when Shane mentioned trade. Were the mechanics the same in GGO as they were in SAO? Probably if dropping things onto the ground still worked the same. She brought up her interface. A few swipes later brought up the trade screen. Grinning happily, Katsumi sent the request to Shane.

    >Kirito< sent >Captian Fiore< a trade request!

    The gamer girl realized something. Shane probably didn't know what all the little icons in his vision were. HP was easily figured out as was Stamina. Both decreased with various actions or as direct consequences. "Uh, there should be two flashing icons in the top right corner of your vision. The first is a friend request. It'll allow us to find each other while in the game. The second one is a trade request. If you open your menu, you can access both with the second to the bottom option. Once you input what you want and what you want to trade, hit accept. I can do the rest."

    Katsumi waited until Shane got the hang of it. With the completion of the trade, the girl happily clothed herself. The light green shirt cut off at her midriff. The pants reached down to her ankles to be stuffed into a pair of combat boots. The cloak Shane sent over require stats she didn't possess, unfortunately. It wasn't perfect, like a long black coat with a matching outfit but it would do for now. She climbed out of the motorcycle for Shane's inspection.

    "It should fit two..." Katsumi said dragging up the motorcycle's stats. It did say two passengers. It could also hit a top speed of near 200 MPH and that was while carrying a max load. Katsumi let out a low whistle. This was an impressive machine. She almost felt bad for stealing it. "It fits two. It'll be tight though..." Her face got red as she imagined them sitting together. "I uh...I don't have the Driving skill. Perhaps um, I should sit in back?" A few buttons were tapped.

    >Kirito< has granted access of [Aerocycle S1C17] to >Captain Fiore<

    Katsumi turned away from Shane. The blush was embarrassing enough. She didn't want him to point it out. Looking at the map might help. They were here to flirt... scout. Urgh! Her blush got deeper. The map was covered in FoW, a Fog of War. Large swaths of it were grayed over, invisible until explored. There were a few things marked out. A major ruin, two cities and a third icon that Katsumi didn't recognize at all. The ruin was probably a story point for the main game. The cities were safe spots in this PvP arena. They'd have to eventually explore both. For now, simply reaching one would suffice to fill their objective.

    The swordswoman showed her map to Shane. "We should probably go to one of these." She said indicating the cities with her finger. "They should be safe spaces and will be crucial to exploring the game. Given that we are.... here, this one is the closest. Shouldn't take too long to make it if monsters or players don't attack us." Either was a possibility. It was an extensive distance to the city. The Aerocycle wasn't cheap nor built for combat. If they were attacked, they'd have to exit and fight. Katsumi double-checked her starter pistol. When they got to the city, she was definitely getting a new weapon.

    "Shall we go? Once we reach the city, we can log out of the game. The Magic Council doesn't expect us to survey everything in a single day and we've already been logged in for..." A glance at the clock on her interface gave her the answer. "...two hours. It'll probably be another two hours to reach the city if we're lucky."

    The gamer looked at the motorcycle. Her feet shuffled in the sand as her hands clasped behind her back. "So uh how does one ride a motorcycle with two people?" She'd never done it before though she'd seen others doing so. Since she wanted Shane to drive, Katsumi would be pressed intimately against his back. The Aerocycle didn't allow for another option. The blush that had faded swiftly returned.

    WC: 703
    Total: 6865/7000


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Katsumi Akahosi - Sword Arts - Sage Arts - Bank

    Facing Nightmares 2auuzck
    Shane Stern
    Shane Stern

    Player 
    Lineage : Unbreakable Hero
    Posts : 473
    Guild : Rune Knights
    Cosmic Coins : 30
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 19,325

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: All Might 2.0
    Second Magic: Warfare Requip
    Third Magic:

    Facing Nightmares Empty Re: Facing Nightmares

    Post by Shane Stern on 22nd July 2019, 6:32 am

    At Katsumi’s words, Shane began to take a closer look at the stuff that had been hovering around the periphery of his vision. It was true that he hadn’t figured out what most of them were, except for the HP bar naturally, but he figured she would just guide him about it later, which he had been correct. Still it had taken some time to ignore those icons, since it was counterintuitive to his job nature. But a more pressing matter had to be addressed first.

    “Hold up,” Shane said as he squinted at the window that had appeared in the middle of his vision after he had pressed on the second icon. The Rune Knight Captain stared at the two names that were in the translucent white window. After having confirmed twice that he had not read the name by mistake, the blonde mage turned his head to look at Katsumi with a deadpan stare. One of his eyebrows was raised in a sceptical expression, while he pursed his lips for a second.

    “There was no better name than Captain Fiore?” Shane asked with exasperation, moving his head as he spoke, and then holding his hands out with his palms up as he waited for an answer from the girl. Still, they were in the middle of a desert and it would do them best to just get everything over with and get out this place. Shane followed Katsumi’s instructions from earlier on and after a bungled attempt at the trade, he managed to get it right on the second time, successfully clearing his inventory and passing the items over to the girl. Watching Katsumi equip the items in the virtual world reminded him of his Requip magic.

    Despite the usefulness of the desert cloak, Shane was dismayed when Katsumi couldn’t equip it, but it wasn’t too bad now that they had the motorcycle. It was definitely better than the two of them galloping on a horse to who knows where. Shane continued in a circle around the motorcycle as Katsumi transferred the vehicle access to him. When he pressed “Accept”, the Rune Knight grinned as he took in the stats displayed in a smaller translucent white window.

    “200 MPH, huh? A true beast then. I wonder if we can hit maximum speed on all this sand,” Shane pondered, but still climbed into the vehicle nonetheless. Katsumi had offered to sit in the back, which Shane agreed to. Where was she going to sit if not in the back? His thoughts was quickly pulled back to the map that she had shown him, taking note of what she had pointed out.

    “City it is then. Let’s take this one. Aldebaran City,” Shane read as he zoomed in on the map, enlarging the city and its name, spelled out in white font.
    “Just get up on the seat behind me.”

    He pointed to the slightly raised seat behind his driver’s seat. When the girl was finally safely on the back, Shane feeling her weight against his back, the Rune Knight put the motorcycle into ignition and felt the kickback from the engine as it roared powerfully to life. With one hand pressing down tightly on the brakes, Shane twisted the accelerator back as much as possible, the back wheel kicking up a fountain of sand as it struggled to release the pent up power. The engine continued to roar, until Shane suddenly released the brakes.

    The motorcycle sped across the sands, hitting 160 MPH within five seconds. The windshield kept the sand and wind out of his eyes as he kept feeding the engine with fuel. He handled the motorcycle with ease, repeatedly bringing the bike to skip over crests and dunes, as though they were riding a speedboat on the ocean.

    As he continued driving, alternating between keeping his eyes on the road or sand ahead while checking the map to make sure he was driving in the correct direction, a question seemed to have struck Shane.

    “If this game is a death game like LAO, and we can log out, what’s keeping the Magic Council from forcing everyone to log out and then shutting the game down? Wouldn’t that be a much more feasible option than sending us out here to investigate?” Shane turned his head back slightly, not quite enough to look at Katsumi. As he spoke, he realized another thing about the motorcycle that he would have loved on his own bike back in the real world. The soundproofing was godlike, his words not even marred by the roaring of the engine outside the windshield.

    Waiting for Katsumi to answer, Shane focused back on the map and then on the road ahead.

    “Map shows we will be reaching in five minutes. And my eyes are showing that we are going to have an easy way into the city,” the male Knight said matter-of-factly. As they neared the city, Shane had seen sentries posted around the entrance. There were a lot of them, and judging from the guns that they held, especially of those that had pointed them in their direction, Shane expected that they would probably have to fight their way in.

    When the distance between them and the gate was a mere three hundred meters, the captain turned the steering bar to the right, immediately causing the entire bike to swerve to the left, kicking up a wall of sand. Countless red lines appeared in the air, and stopped when they hit the windshield of the motorcycle. Bullets followed soon after, accurately tracing the prediction lines and a few of them hitting the windshield even as Shane had tried to get out their firing range.

    “Windshield durability at 80%...” a female voice chimed from the dashboard.

    “Windshield durability at 50%.”

    “Windshield durability at 30%,” came the third warning after a few seconds. Shane revved up the engine to its very maximum, delivering another much-needed surge of speed to the vehicle as they finally escaped the hail of bullets just a final one hit the windshield and shattered their only protection against the harsh elements of the desert.

    Shane brought the bike to an unmanned part of the wall, easing up on the accelerator until they finally stopped. His hair was swept back the wind, and he moved one hand over them, ruffling it.

    “What’s up with this place? Those didn’t look like NPCs to me,” Shane queried as he jerked his thumb in the direction of the gate.

    [1083 words]
    [Total WC: 7948 / 7000]


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    Facing Nightmares Z9G4aIt

      Current date/time is 24th July 2019, 12:06 am