August 14, 2054. Friday. 11:11 PM.
Kiyro was waiting by the twin trees that he and his brother had played around in the forest when they were younger. So many things had changed since the last time he had visited here. Most of the trees were cut down, and new houses were in their place. He was amazed that the entangled trees that looked like two lovers in an embrace were still standing. With a gentle brush of his fingertips, he rubbed his hands against the engraved name K2.
They were barely any lights from the houses that lit the surrounding area, only the moon’s light cast overhead. He gazed up and was amazed to see the star lights twinkling in the sky. Back in New York, he could barely see the stars twinkling from the bright artificial lights that were on constantly, blotting out the stars. Everything around him was washed out in the darkness, making it difficult to see him.
Leaning back in between the entwined trees, he waited. He had been waiting for two hours. Finally, this was the spot where Kyle had wanted to meet. The only problem was he didn’t know how long he had to wait for his brother to arrive. Hopefully, Kyle would come sometime soon because he had a long walk back home.
He had left Anna a message about where he was going so she wouldn’t worry. However, even the warm breeze during the summer night still felt hot and sticky. The humidity of the Georgia weather was one thing he did not like, especially in the summertime. How he wished dearly that the fall breeze would come sooner.
Sighing with a deep breath, he continued to wait. Shifting from one foot to another, partially dozing off to the sound of the chirping bugs. The smell of evergreen, maples and even a tingle of aromatic lavender drifted into his nose, soothing him. How long has it been since he had walked in the forest by himself? One year? Two? Or was it maybe three?
The last time he remembered climbing this tree was when he and his brother had bet on who could climb the tree fastest when they were kids. The prize was a large chocolate bar that they had haggled on. With the race underway, he was behind in climbing to the top till Kyle slipped.
That one slip-up gave him a chance to break away and make it first to the top.
Kyle frowned when he lost; he wanted that chocolate bar. He could see it written all over Kyle’s face when the wager was on. He and Kyle sat on top of the tree’s thick branches as Kiyro fished for the chocolate in his pocket. In all honesty, he had bought the chocolate for Kyle. It wasn’t until Kyle had seen the large chocolate bar in his pocket that he had made a bet on the spot.
He chuckled, remembering how his brother tried his best to convince him to give him the chocolate. Kyle gave up persuading him when he had lost the bet. When Kiyro broke the chocolate in half and handed it to Kyle, Kyle’s eyes brightened into a smile as he gratefully received it. Both stayed gazing at the stars throughout the night until their parents called them back to sleep.
Sometimes it was these fond memories that he wished he could return and relive that moment again. A fun time when they were children with no care in the world. The only thing on their mind at that time was to go out and explore. From catching frogs, chasing birds and rabbits, and sometimes even finding old caves they stumbled upon. It was a fascinating time as they played cops and robbers or pretended to become explorers from a fantastical world.
His mind shifted to the quest on hand with the cat people still underway. He had given directions to M2, where the Draconis Village was possibly located. The only problem was that they could not enter the Draconis Village without his presence. So whenever he logged out, he would find them a safe place to hide for the duration of the time.
M2 would go out and cover their tracks and keep them all well hidden. A couple of times, the soldiers almost stumbled upon them, but eventually, they gave up and returned to the city walls. Kiyro did not want to stay out too long, but meeting his brother was a priority. He probably would not get another chance like this in a while if he thought about it.
A sudden snap of a broken branch could be heard on his right. Kiyro turned his head towards the direction of the sound, but in the dark, he could not see very well. Even though he had a perfect 20/20 vision in the night, the shadows blended perfectly with the darkness making everything into one big blob of black. He thought he saw a human silhouette dart across from him for a moment. Then, his ears perked, and his senses were heightened, ready to flee or fight.
Something told him in the back of his mind that something was wrong. His brother would not need to sneak up on him, especially at the location that Kyle had set up. Kyle knew firsthand that it was a bad idea to sneak up on him without any words. He had gotten a couple of bruises and got into some altercations because of Kiyro’s sudden reflexes. His hands were to his sides where daggers, knives, and even a blade he had hidden in his pants were strapped to his thigh.
He listened carefully for any breaking twigs and even for any sudden movements. His instincts were kicked up a notch, ready to fight or flight. In all honesty, he would rather not get into a fight and resolve things peacefully. But life does not always go as planned, and he tries his best to prepare for it.
A snap of the twig could be heard from the left behind him. He twirled, and out of instinct, he swung his arms towards the direction of the noise. An unknown arm blocked him instantly as another kick came from the side. Kiyro tightened his muscles where he thought he would possibly get hit. He raised his knees, blocking the powerful kick that gave him a horrible sting. He could feel a bruise forming on the spot where he was kicked. He was sure the next one could break his ribs if he was not careful.
Kiyro sidestepped out of harm’s way as two-five combo punches were aimed at his face and body. It was fast, like a pro boxing punch; he had to step backward numerous times, trying not to get hit by one of them. However, he still felt a second presence behind him aimed at his legs. Jumping up like a cat, he dodges the incoming sweeping kick.
They were two people who covered their faces with a mask and wore black street clothes to blend in with the night. Kiyro could tell they were experienced fighters from their attacks and how they held themselves. He had difficulty slipping through and dodging their attacks, especially in the forest, where there were more obstacles that he had to watch out for. He was the type to pay attention to his surrounding for any possible obstacles that would trip him up if he needed to escape or fight.
Kicks and punches came from both directions. Kiyro slipped in when he had the chance to strike. It was quick and simple, with no exaggerated and wasted movements. His training and past street fight experiences kicked in, allowing him to take a fatal strike. With a snap of his punch, he punched straight in the throat at the first attacker. The attacker collapsed forward, holding his throat, choking on his spit.
With an elbow drop on the back of the first attacker’s head, the attacker fell onto the floor unconscious. The second one came from behind as he grabbed Kiyro by the throat. Before the attacker could choke him out completely, his hands slipped in to stop the choking from happening.
Both of them struggled as they tried to overcome each other. Kiyro dropped down using his whole body weight; the sudden unexpected drop caused the attacker to fall forward. This allowed Kiyro to throw him over his shoulder as both rolled. He could slip out of the attacker’s choke and into a quick armbar. A snap could be heard as an arm was broken, and a scream could be heard. Letting go, he rolled away, giving him time to straddle the downed attacker. With a couple of fast but powerful punches, he rattled the attacker’s brain, causing him to blackout.
Kiyro sighed as he let down his clenched fist, bloodied with his blood and the attackers. Small cuts were littered all over his knuckles as relief washed over him. He looked down and searched the attacker’s clothes for anything that could identify these people. Whoever they were, they were not Kyle.
Oddly, these attackers knew where his brother’s meeting place was. Worse, he felt these people were not here to steal from him but to retrieve him. Turning the man’s jacket inside out, a triskele dragon-like snake pin fell out of his jacket. An eye was in the middle of the triskele as it stared back at him coldly with an unblinking. It was the same pin he had found with embedded information asking him to join to become the light that breaks through the darkness and becomes heroes. A chill ran down his back as he felt danger.
Suddenly, he felt a sting on his neck. He raised his hands and felt a small tranquilizer. His head felt light and dizzy. The world spun around him, making it very difficult to keep his bearing.
Falling face forward, he fell unconscious.
“Hey. You awake?” An unknown male’s voice spoke over him. Kiyro slowly came to. His vision became clear, and he noticed an unknown young man hovering over him.
“Who are you?” Kiyro bolted up and shoved him hard against the wall. He was ready to snap the young man’s neck to survive if he had to. Getting kidnapped and ferried away was not something he had not expected at all, especially because he was supposed to meet his brother.
“C-c-calm down.” The young man stuttered. He tried his best to peel Kiyro’s fingers away from his throat. “I’m j-j-just like you.”
Kiyro let go, allowing the young man to breathe. He took a good look at the young man in front of him. He was not too tall nor short; his baggy clothes and glasses made him look like a nerd. His brown hair was curly and messy as if he had gotten out of bed. If only he took a bit care of himself, he would look decent. There was also a silver ring around his neck with numbers written on it. Nothing about this young man screamed a dangerous killer or the people that attacked him at night.
“My name is Daulton Lee. I have been here for over three weeks now.”
“What is this place?” Kiyro looked around. He was in a small comfortable room with two beds and desks. A large window was across the room, where blinds covered it shut. Only glimmers of light entered, and the rest were lit up with fluorescent light. Across from the window was a wooden door.
“It’s some kind of academy.”
“Yes, New recruits are brought in every day.”
“How many are present here?”
“I think about two hundred, from nine to thirty years old. This place is more like a private school
because of its activities.”
“What’s the longest someone ever stayed here?”
“Um… Hmmm.” Daulton scratched his chin. “The longest that I heard someone being here is five years. So this should be the sixth year. You’ll fit in just fine. A lot of people have been brought here. Though only a few are kidnapped like you.”
“Wait, people willingly come here?”
“Yes. It’s considered the number one facility for developing psychics.”
“Hah?” Kiyro could not believe what he was hearing. An academy that delves and studies into the psychic realm.
“It is a privately funded academy. Well, you can call it a college, I guess. I honestly don’t know where we are located. We were put to sleep before we all arrived here. When you go outside, you’ll see that we are in the middle of the forest. By the way, you never told me your name.”
“I’m Kiyro. I shouldn’t be here. I was going to meet my brother when I got jumped. How did they
know that we were going to meet me there?”
“So that’s how they got you. They planned it.”
“I’m saying they sent out that message to get you alone. They’ve been watching you, waiting for
the time to spirit you away.”
“This is kidnapping. A federal offense. Who would go this far?”
“From my short stay here, I believe something more is happening here. Therefore, I suggest keeping your profile low, especially if you have special psychic powers.”
Kiyro stared at him strangely.
“I’m very serious. The powerful ones are experimented on and valued more than anything. They especially won’t let you go if you are considered a valued material. Everyone here is psychic with abilities. That’s why you are also brought here.”
“This feels like I’m straight out of a comic.”
“Buddy, this is nothing compared to the comics. This is real.”
Kiyro felt something uncomfortable on his neck. He reached up his hands and felt a cold metallic ring around his neck. “What?”
“I wouldn’t pull it if I were you.”
“It’s encased with poison. So if you pull it off or speak about this academy, it will inject a lethal dose of poison into your system and kill you.”
Alarmed, Kiyro peeled his hands away from the ring around his neck and gulped. He was in a serious predicament that put his life on the line. Whoever these people were that ferried him away were mentally disturbed, especially if they put a collar on him.
“I’m dead serious. I’ve seen someone die trying to tell someone in the outside world. This is not a joke.”
“These people are insane. They want to keep us here forever.”
Someone knocked on their door, and the door creaked open. A woman stood in front of their door. She was wearing a white lab coat with glasses. Her golden locks were tightly in a bun as she smiled. Both of them whirled around to see her standing there.
“Welcome. You must be Mr. Koga. My name is Angela.”
Kiyro wearily stared at her. He was displeased that he was kidnapped and brought to an unknown place. “What do you want? Why am I here?”
“I’m sorry on their behalf for the rough treatment. We didn’t plan for you to get into a fight. They
were only supposed to negotiate to bring you here.”
“So you think I would now?”
“Then let me go.”
“We can’t let you till we know for sure that you have psychic power or not.”
Kiyro crossed his arms and leaned towards one leg. The conversation that he was talking about with this chick sounded crazy. Psychic. Him? “You must have gotten the wrong person. I’m no psychic.”
“No, we are sure you are one. Everyone who had gotten the Seed in the game of Growth has some form of psychic power. Not one had failed the test. We have been monitoring and searching for all Seeded players in America and throughout the world. Some people had their abilities awakened a little earlier than you, but eventually, you too were given an ability.”
“You are basing one psychic power on the Seed that one gets in the game of Growth? Do you know how crazy you sound?”
“Yes, to the normal people who do not understand that the game of Growth is more than just a game would think such a thought. The Alive Gear is a machine that was created with the sole purpose of bringing people into a virtual world. Still, later on, it was discovered that it could stimulate one’s brain, causing one to awaken to their inner ability. Unfortunately, only a few people know this.”
“This time, the Yami Hikari game company has been doing illegal experiments on people?” Kiyro had a hard time believing such a ludicrous tale. This was truly out of a sci-fi story, and he was smack in the middle of it.
“Yami Hikari Company? Please do not compare us with them. We are a different private company that has nothing to do with them. They don’t know anything about the Seeders being psychics. It was our group that found out that the Seeders were blooming psychics. We will get you situated in your new life if you follow me.”
Angela straightened up, turned around, and left. Daulton motioned his head to follow. Kiyro was hesitant to go with strangers, but so far, he had no information that he knew of the surroundings that could help him escape. He needed to plan out his route carefully, or he would not get another chance.
“I was just like you when I came here too. Confused, Angry, and lost. It took a while to get used to this place, but you’ll like the setup they have here. It’s truly the top of the line for the gaming world.”
“Gaming world? I’m not following you.”
“Look.” Daulton pointed towards the clear glasses windows where they were passing by. On the other side, he saw dozens of egg shape pods placed in a straight line. Inside each pod were humans hooked up to the machines. They all wore the Sense Gear helmet and an oxygen masks on their faces. Rubber swimsuits tuck perfectly on their whole body with lines connected to their skin. All of them were floating inside the middle of the egg, filled to the brim with water. Each moved in odd movements as if they were fighting, running, or climbing.
“What are they doing?”
“That’s the new Machine called the EMBYRO Type II Machine. It is supposed to help the body not deteriorate during the Growth game. We would be using that as well when we enter into the game. It helps strengthen our body from all that movement that we do in the game, and it transfers to your own body. I’ve tried it out, and it was pretty cool. But, that’s not all; you get a balanced diet curtailed to your specific body needs..”
“This sounds great and dandy but don’t you want to leave this place?”
Daulton thought it over for a moment. “Yes, I do, but I also want to see how far I can push myself into this psychic power. Don’t you think it’s so cool? We are like superheroes in the making.”
Something about what Daulton had stated had made him worry. A school where budding psychics were being trained and even fed well. An illegal operation where people are kidnapped to be experimented on. This could only spell trouble. He did not know what these people would want them to do later. Nothing was ever given freely, especially for a facility with a top of line equipment. Whatever these people’s purpose was, he had a horrible nagging feeling that it was not good.
“We get to play the game twenty-four seven if we wanted to. However, they recommend that you play every day.” Daulton stated excitedly.
Angela stopped before a glass door and waited for it to open. Instead, she raised her pass that allowed the door to open. They followed her into a small room, where another person with a white coat was hunched over, jotting something down on paper.
“Alex,” Angela called out towards the man.
Kiyro’s eyes widened when he heard the name. But, what surprised him the most was that he knew the face that stared back at him. It was Alex.
“Kiyro?” Alex stared confused at him. “What are you doing here?”
“You guys know each other?” Angela asked. She was a bit too delighted in Kiyro’s opinion.
“Yes. He’s someone I know very well.”
“What are you doing here?” Kiyro hissed. His face darkened at the thought of Alex being part of the crazy group that kidnapped him here.
“Me? I’m a temporary replacement doctor that just arrived today.”
“You are? You’re not with them?” Kiyro shook his head towards Angela.
“No. Why would I be? I’m here for a temporary job.”
“Oh.” Kiyro sighed with relief. He was immensely glad that he knew someone who wasn’t truly part of the lunatic group.
“It’s quite shocking that even Eve is here. What are the chances of that?”
“Eve’s here?” Kiyro asked in disbelief.
“I just did a check-up on her not too long ago. I think they were also other familiar faces present here. What was that famous Hercules guild leader’s name again?” Alex twirled his pen and tapped it a couple of times onto the desk.
“Ah, yes. Will. I saw him eating at the cafeteria not too long ago.”
Kiyro went silent. The number of people brought to this strange academy he knew of gave him relief and worry. He wondered if they were kidnapped and brought here or decided to come here themselves.
“I’m shocked to see that you have decided to come here. I thought you were the type who would decline such a strange offer.”
“I was kidnapped.” Kiyro glared at Angela.
“Kidnapped? That’s strange. I thought everyone came here freely.”
“That’s what they all want you to believe.”
“We only did this for your protection,” Angela spoke. She pulled out a small digital phone from her pocket and handed it to Alex. “Please get a blood sample.”
“If you don’t mind.” Alex patted on the chair for Kiyro to sit. Kiyro sat down and pulled his sleeves backward for Alex to draw blood. “This won’t hurt. Unless you are afraid of needles.”
Kiyro shook his head. “No, just get it over with.”
“Good to hear.”
“I’ll be waiting outside.” Angela left first, leaving behind Daulton, Kiyro, and Alex together in one room.
Kiyro scooted closer towards Alex and spoke in a low voice for only them to hear. “Is she always like that? I feel like, in her eyes, we’re like some kind of test animals to be experimented on. If she stared any longer, I felt like she’ll be able to look into my soul. Is there any way for me to get out of here? My sister is going to be worried about me.”
“Like I said. I have only been here a day. From what I heard, messages have already been sent to one’s respective family. So everything will be fine on your family side.”
“But I didn’t sign up for this.”
“Look, I’m sorry to hear that, but I suggest to keep your head down and bid your time. My hands are tied behind my back. I’m only here because I’m forced to.”
Kiyro thought it over and listened to Alex’s advice. It seemed like Alex was just like him in some
“If, from my understanding, this academy is a place for psychic research development. I suggest you use whatever disposable you have to learn the things they offer. It doesn’t hurt to see what could be used as your asset.”
“I’m not so sure I would want to. Worst case scenario, this place could turn into a mental institute.”
“Possibly, If I find anything, I’ll look for you.”
“Thanks.” Kiyro felt a little relieved that someone he knew was in this academy. Better yet, Eve and Will were also present in this academy.
“You’re all done for now.” Alex turned around and began writing on his paper. “Daulton Lee, is it?” He looks up towards Daulton.
“Please take a seat. I need to do a quick blood draw from you.”
“But I did one when I first arrived here.”
“We are doing a bi-weekly check to see if there are any changes to your body.”
“Oh. You guys will take all my blood like a vampire at this rate.”
“We don’t need that much blood, Mr. Lee.”
“Just call me Daulton.”
“Well, Daulton, we’re all done for now.” Alex finished drawing blood from Daulton and placed a small bandage on it. Daulton brushed his clothes aside and stood up.
“Thanks, Alex. I’ll see you around.”
“Good meeting you. I’ll see you in the game.”
“I’ll be looking forward to that.” Kiyro stepped out of the room and into the hallway. Angela was waiting patiently as she looked through her tablet. He saw a glimpse of a list of people’s names written on it. He slightly leaned forward and caught a momentary what she was reading. Above the list of names were words: Project Revelation.
Project Revelation? Kiyro rolled the word over in his mind. Something about the project made him uncomfortable. Whatever it was, he was getting a bad vibe from it.
“It took a bit too long. We are a bit behind schedule; let’s get on with it.” Angela looked up and said with a stern voice.
“What’s her problem?” Daulton whispered. “It’s like she got a stick up her butt.”
“I heard that, Mr. Lee.”
“See what I mean.” Daulton elbowed him as he mumbled towards Kiyro with a smirk.
“What we are going to do first is to feed you and wash you up for the first game run. This way.”
They walked through the winding path of the hallway and eventually came up to the cafeteria. It was bustling with large crowds where wide varieties of races from different countries were present. Angela stopped in front of the entrance to the cafeteria. “This is the cafeteria; go get yourself something to eat. I expect you to come to Gaming Room G in the next hour. Mr. Lee, please show Mr. Koga the way when you are all cleaned up and fed. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” Angela left in a hurry.
“She’s a fine-looking woman, especially her chest. I haven’t seen such a large rack in an even though her attitude is dislikeable. What can you say? These crackpots think they own this place because of their fancy white coats.” Daulton shook his head, and then he sniffed the air. He gulped. “They have meatloaf today. I’m starved.” Daulton grinned happily. He went first to grab himself a tray. Kiyro walked behind him, scanning around him for a familiar face. Picking up a tray, he walked in line for a plate of food. With a splatter, the food was plopped on his tray. Bread and milk were picked up next as he continued down the line picking up a chip next.
“Kiyro this way.” Daulton motioned him over for him to follow him to a round table.
Kiyro placed his food on the table and sat across from Daulton. Two other people sat at the small round table, quietly eating their food. They look up towards Kiyro and Daulton.
“Hey, Daulton. Who is this?”
“This is Kiyro. Kiyro, meet Ken and Sylvia.”
“We have new blood gracing our presence.” Sylvia smiled. “Lately, there is more new blood coming in every few days. So I wouldn’t be surprised sooner or later. This place is going to overrun with newbies.”
“If they only knew what they were getting themselves into.”
“What would that be?” Kiyro asked. He was curious about what Ken had to say.
“Just think of this as joining an organization of modern-day superheroes.”
“You kidding me right? Superhero?”
“Yep, that could be another way you could say it.”
“We’re not going to go out and start saving people, are we? We’re not bulletproof.”
“Don’t listen to him.” Sylvia bumped him with her shoulder. “He is into fantasy movies and gets these crazy ideas that we are some kind of superheroes.”
“We are. Think about it. Why do you think we are at this psychic academy? It’s to become modern-day superheroes.”
“Yea. Yea. Just eat.” Sylvia rolled her eyes. “So far, not one of us has such an extraordinary
“You’ll be surprised. I heard there is a breakthrough where someone can move objects with their mind. They say about a good five feet.” Ken replied,
“Five feet? Come on. What are you going to do with five feet? Throw a stick at someone?”
“Think about it. If someone can move things with their minds, what do you think they can do if they have stronger psychic powers? They could probably shoot down a plane, for crying out loud.”
“What it’s true. Haven’t you seen those superhero movies where a powerful psychic could move a whole plane with just her mind?”
“That’s a movie, Ken. This is reality.”
Kiyro couldn’t help but quietly listen in on the two bickerings. “I’m just asking out of curiosity. What supposed psychic power do you guys even have?”
Both of them stopped talking and turned towards Kiyro.
“I’m an empath,” Ken replied chirpily. “Or rather, you can say I can feel the same emotions you can, almost like harmonizing with your emotional wavelength. However, I like the ability to move objects more than anything. Sylvia is a highly tuned clairsentience or what I like to call: a know-it-all.”
“Excuse me. I’m not a know-it-all. I just have a knack for knowing the truth. The answers drop in my head without reason.”
“See, what I told you. A know it.”
“I heard that,” Sylvia growled.
“What about you, Daulton?” Daulton was chugging food in his mouth, happily eating his meatloaf. He gulped down the food and smirked. “I’m pyrokinetic.”
“A fire user. I can start a fire if I put my mind to it without using a match.” Daulton proudly
“I recommend using a match or lighter to start things. His would take a good thirty minutes. It’s a waste of ability if I might say so myself,” said Sylvia.
“It’s not a waste. I’m just budding into my abilities. You’ll see. One day, with just a snap of my fingers, I’ll be able to start a fire.”
Kiyro was quite skeptical about what they were talking about, but from everyone gathered here for a reason of being a psychic, he had more difficulties in not believing it to be real. Whatever it was, he wanted to know how they could use their so-called psychic powers.
“I heard that Jergorian had broken through the Electric storm with his guild in the Electric Continent’s lands and succeeded in capturing an old castle taken over by an old vampire,” said Ken.
“I’m not surprised. It wouldn’t be the first. I had my eyes on Jergorian’s ability to succeed in getting a castle,” Daulton nodded. He took a bite out of his food.
“I heard he’s aiming to take over the whole Electric Continent under his rulership.”
“That’s not a surprise, but I thought there weren’t many civilizations on the other Continent.”
“You wouldn’t believe it, but they are surviving human civilizations out there that the dark forces have enslaved. I heard he had rounded up the enslaved people and freed them.”
“Well, he is considered number one for a reason.” Daulton sipped on his drink. “At the rate they are conquering quests from left to right; I wouldn’t be surprised they haven’t already started a settlement. I’m betting that it would become really big.”
“He’s so lucky. I wish I had conquered a castle and begun building my Kingdom, ” Sylvia said. She sipped on her drink and placed it on the table. “It would be nice to rule over the land. Unfortunately, I’m still stuck in Mt. Dea’s Dungeon trying to finish a simple quest, but it’s not easy as it sounds.”
“There are other large guilds out there that have taken over small castles around the Electric Continent. I even heard that the Killemall Guild is trying to take over multiple villages in the Fire Continent in the No Man’s Land.”
“Seriously? Isn’t he aiming a bit too high? Wouldn’t it be more practical to be starting a village out in the Electric Continent than taking over a castle that’s being backed by a large army?”
“I think that’s exactly the reason,” Daulton replied. He gulped his food and drank a sip of his water to clear his throat. “He’s trying to unify the whole Troll race and create a kingdom from there. You know as well as I that there is no king in the No Man’s land. If he did unify the whole Troll race under his flag, think about how fearsome his power would be. He could start a war with the neighboring Kingdom and take it over.”
“Isn’t he a bit too greedy,” said Sylvia.
“No. I would do the same thing if I were the troll. Think about it, having hundreds of thousands of followers one would have at his command if he succeeds; plus, it’s never been done before in the whole Fire Continent. Trolls never come under the same banner of their blood lust. He would be the first Troll King in existence.”
“It’s all well and dandy, but what about Lily? Have you heard anything going on with the WaterRose guild?” asked Sylvia. “I have followed her since her accomplishment in the Volcano dungeon’s Fire Lizard King battle. But, unfortunately, there hasn’t been much news about her since the World Quest.”
“Sylvia here is a fan of the WaterRose Guild. If you check her room, she has a poster of her stick on her wall all over the place. It’s truly frightening if you get under her radar. If you know what I mean.” Ken smirked as he told Kiyro.
“Look, I just admire her accomplishments. Their nothing wrong in collecting posters.” Sylvia scowled.
“I never said they were anything wrong with it.”
“I’ve seen you ogle at her pictures too. Not too long ago, I caught you red-handed in sneaking away a poster of her in your room too.”
“I’m a guy. It’s normal.”
“Uh-huh.” Sylvia rolled her eyes. “I’m not surprised if you took it and added it to your porn collection that you hide underneath your bed.”
“It’s a guy’s thing. It’s none of your business.”
“I’m a healthy young male. There’s nothing wrong with me having a hot picture of a girl. We all have our types.”
“Anyways,” Daulton couldn’t help but chuckle under his breath, “there have been some rumors going around that they are trying to take over the City of Diadem for themselves.”
“What?” Both Ken and Sylvia exclaimed at the same time. The cafeteria had become momentarily silent from their loud outburst. Both of them look around, embarrassed.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. The City of Diadem is considered the number one spot with the highest human population on the continent. So water Rose Guild will need triple the number of soldiers to take over the city if they even want to succeed,” said Sylvia.
“Look, it’s just a rumor. There haven’t been any known facts about it at all. It’s just that the New King has been trying to get the Draconis Library back these past couple of days. Someone had seen a Water Rose Guild member next to him on and off. So that’s where the rumor had started from.”
Kiyro listened intently. He was three-fourths of the way done with his food. When Daulton brought up the Draconis Library, he needed every kind of information that he could get to keep it safe. Especially from enemies trying to steal what he had worked hard to earn.
“Draconis Library? Are you talking about the so-called flying library stationed at the City of Diadem?”
“Yea, that one.”
“I never visited that Library yet, though I want to visit it soon.”
“I’m not sure you would be able to find it anymore.”
“The whole Library just vanished into thin air.”
“You kidding me, right? How the heck does something so big disappear like that?”
“I don’t know, but there is a large sum of money for any information about the Draconis Library if we find it.”
“How much?” Ken leaned over.
“Fifty gold for every information that has a solid fact to it. One hundred gold coins in the eradication of the Drezo Regalia’s living in the Draconis Library. Especially if you bring their crystal heart, you get a bonus of fifty gold coins for each one. The best one is a five hundred gold coin in killing the Black and Gold Dragon. Supposedly, they are rumors that you would gain tremendous power if you get his crystal heart.”
Ken fell backward onto his chair, amazed at the sheer amount of gold one could obtain from killing a Drezo Regalia. He raised his arms and pulled back his hair. “Wow. The new king is serious about this, isn’t he?”
“Wait, isn’t a Drezo Regalia, a dragon?” Silvia asked. “I’m sure it is a dragon. It came up on the Growth website for a new playable species.”
“It is, but from the looks of it, I personally believe that the odds are against them, especially since they are large bounties on their heads. The only area they can spawn from is the Draconis Village I heard so much about.”
“I don’t know about that. It’s been quite a hot topic for newbies to go in and become a dragon. I would take the chance to become one like the legends. Think about it; you’ll be able to fly around in the sky and even come down and create massive havoc that a normal being can not do.”
“That does sound fun.”
“I heard that the black and gold dragon kills children and eats them up for dinner,” said Daulton. He whips his spoon around, accentuating his words.
Kiyro splurted out water from the sudden accusation that Daulton had stated. He wiped his mouth and stared up at Daulton. “I think you got your facts wrong.”
“Really? I thought I was up to date on it.”
“Drezo Regalia’s don’t eat children.”
“How are you so sure? Did you meet one?”
“Well, one of my friends is a Drezo Regalia in the game. However, they said that they don’t do anything of that sort nor the black and gold dragon.”
“Really? I didn’t know that. Do tell, is it true that the dragons are as tall as the mountain or even have piles and piles of gold?” Daulton asked excitedly. His eyes twinkled at the thought of treasures and possibly hearing about some tales.
“I’m not so sure about the mountain-size dragons yet. I haven’t seen one so far. The piles of gold are a lie. For starter players, no one has that much gold in their account.”
“Damn. My dreams are shattered. Do you think you could show us to your friend?”
“What, why not?”
“Because there is a high chance that you might kill him for his crystal heart. I don’t like player
“Look. I swear I won’t kill him. I just want to meet one.”
“That’s what they all say in the beginning.”
“You’re no fun.”
“Nothing I can do about that, can I.”
“Fine. Then tell us about the black and gold dragon people have been talking about. How tall is it? What powers have you seen it use? For example, do all dragons use fire?”
“One question at a time. So far that I know of is that all dragons use fire, but there is always an exception to the rule. I don’t have much to tell you about the black and gold dragon except that I only saw it during the battle with Lilith.”
“That’s it. No other information?”
Kiyro shrugged. He was careful in telling them any more information that could put his small village in danger. Especially now, he got another bounty on his head, this time by the Kingdom of Terra, just for having the Draconis Library. Telling them even a single clue to the whereabouts of the village could be fatal.
Daulton sighed. “I wish I had chosen the path of the dragons. I should have waited.” He groaned. “I’m not sure now if I’ll ever even be given a chance to now ride one. We better get going. I know for a fact these scientists or whatever you call them don’t like us being tardy.”
Kiyro got up and picked up his tray. He felt full and satisfied that he was able to eat. He didn’t know how hungry he was until he finished devouring his food. “Well, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Same. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing each other in-game.” Sylvia waved her hand goodbye.
“Don’t let Daulton suck you in into doing anything. He has a knack for that.”
“I do not.” Daulton glared at them.
Daulton and Kiyro went to the counter where all the trays were left for the kitchen people to pick
up and clean. Then they walked out of the cafeteria and headed for their destination, where Angela had stated for them to meet.
“You are going to like what we are going to next.”
“We’re going to go play the game. Do you remember that giant egg machine? That’s what we are going to go and play in.”
“I see.” Kiyro was interested in what the giant egg had to offer. Was it exactly like the Sense gear, or was it even better?
Kiyro and Daulton passed through large glass windows where hundreds of other Embryo Type II machines were placed. Most of them were filled with people already playing in the game of Growth. They stopped in front of the glass door as it automatically opened by itself. Angela was sitting in a chair in front of a desk with her legs crossed over. She twirled around on her rotating chair and faced them.
Ten Embryo Type II machines were in the same room in two rows of five. From a closer look at the Embryo Type II machine, he noticed a couple of peculiarities about the Machine. First, it looks like a chicken egg with a fetus in the middle of it. A good portion of the Embryo was made of glass that one could see into it.
The most interesting part of the Embryo Type II Machine was that it got snippets of its pictures through the player’s eyes, taking in their virtual adventures. It did not compare to his O.M ability to record everything in real-time. He noticed, for some reason, that even the Embryo Type II could not record anything in the game of Growth. He assumed that something was blocking the outside recording from being able to take place.
Five of the Embryo machines were mainly filled with people he did not know, except one. In one of the machines closest to the wall was Will. He had to double-check to see if his eyes were not playing with him. It was Will floating in the Embryo Type II machine playing the game of Growth.
“You are late by five minutes. Make it a habit of coming here on time, Mr. Lee and Mr. Koga. We have a schedule that we need to follow.” Angela clicked her ballpoint pen a couple of times in irritation. “Go get washed up in the next room. Your clothes are waiting for you there. Mr. Daulton, show him the way.”
Daulton motioned him towards the small hallway, where it was split into two directions. One way was for the female, and the other was for the male. Daulton pushed the door open for the door that lead to the male bathroom. When Kiyro stepped inside he was quite amazed at how nicely the bathroom was built. They were showers that were divided for personal use. Hanging on the walls across the shower were the black suits that Kiyro saw other players wearing inside the Embryo.
“Soap is on the wall. Towels are over there next to the suits. Whenever you are finished, just go back out.”
“Is this all necessary?”
“So. I’m guessing that they don’t want stinky suits or their precious water being contaminated. In all honesty, you start to feel disgusting after you stay in the suit for long periods. That’s why we take another quick shower and let them deal with sanitizing it for the next use.”
“It’s that bad?”
“Yea. The longest one ever stayed inside was forty-eight hours nonstop. It became so unclean that they installed a filtration system so you could use the bathroom if something like that happened again. With that being said, let’s get this over with. You look as if disaster struck and been living out in the wild for days.”
“That’s not too bad. Here I thought someone hadn’t changed out of his clothes and his underwear for a month.”
“I feel like I’m going to throw up the food I just ate just hearing that.” Kiyro thought he would hurl.
“My bad. I didn’t mean to. I recommend taking a long shower, but the lady with a stick up her ass might come in here to drag you out if you take too long.”
“I’m not sure I would like that.”
Kiyro went ahead and started to peel off his dirty clothes. Now that he thought about it, he had not changed from his rough tumble with the two people last night. Looking down, his clothes were dirtied and even ripped in some places. He placed them in the basket as he stepped into the shower. A hot jet stream of water hit his bare skin, making him wince backward. He wasn’t expecting hot water to be the first thing to hit his skin. Usually, he would experience a jet of cold water, then slowly hot.
Kiyro took a quick shower, slipped into his new clothes, and returned. Angela was busily maintaining three Embryo Machines for use. He wondered who the third person was going to join.
“Well, Mr. Koga, it seems you are ready to do a test trial of the Embryo Machine. There are a couple of things that you need to know. The first rule is that in-game or real life; no one is allowed to tell where this academy is located or anything about it. If you fail to follow this rule, you will die.”
Kiyro shifted uncomfortably. He is as not too keen on dying anytime soon. But, he needed a way
out of this place and found his brother.
“The second rule is that every two weeks, there is going to be an evaluation that you need to go and attend. You will have a supervisor you need to contact and relate your information. Finally, the day is divided into three categories. You will play the game of Growth for the first nine hours, and for the next three hours, you will be taking classes. You can take your meals in between, and the rest of the hours include sleeping and your own free time. This Machine will be specifically your Machine. No other people could use it because it would be registered to you. Now go in and step into the Machine, and we will start.”
Reaching up towards the Machine, Kiyro pulled himself in. He felt odd being enclosed. The Sense Gear came down onto his head and clicked onto his suit. He felt an electrifying feeling throughout his whole body as if it had become one with the Machine.
“You’ll have enough space to move around inside the Embryo unit.”
The glasses of the Embryo machine slowly came down and covered his vision.
“Your supervisor will be Angel.” Angela looks over his shoulder behind her. “Here he is.”
Kiyro’s eyes became wide with alert. He held in a gasp when he saw Angel. It was the same man that he saw in the game world. No, he knew that time was not just the game world but the real world.
The man wearing the same suit as Kiyro, with his hair slicked back and a silver cross dangling on his side, stepped towards Angela. The glass closed and locked into place, keeping Kiyro and Angel on the other side.
A killer playing the game? Kiyro couldn’t help but wonder why this man who had murdered so many people would go into the game world. What was his reason in the first place to even come here? Did Angel remember who he was at the college?
“Well, what do we have here?” Angel smiled as he looked directly at Kiyro.
Kiyro felt a shiver run down his whole back as he froze. Luke’s warm water splashed around him as it slowly began filling up. He could see Angel and Angela talking among themselves over something he had difficulty hearing because of the rush of water streaming in from all sides.
“You could say something like that.” Angela nodded. “I’m surprised that you are here so soon. I thought you didn’t want to take part in this experiment.”
“You know me. If I find something interesting to participate in, I’ll go in head first. I can see why
BlackStar takes an interest in this game.”
“Really? I find it fascinating as well. You could say it’s like a second world.”
“A second world shall be to the people, but our goal is not to live in this virtual world. We got things that we need to do.”
“Yes. I’ve been keeping track.”
“That’s wonderful to hear.” Angel stared at Kiyro curiously.
“How-?” Kiyro mumbled, astonished that he would meet the same guy he had met by chance. He remembered it as if it was just yesterday that he felt almost sucked into Angel’s devilish words. Whether it be fate or coincidence, he had met this man now three times. Now his fate was entangled directly with Angel, who was his supervisor. Their eyes made contact, giving Kiyro the shivers.
The world around him slowly became black. His eyes droopy as Kiyro is brought into the game of Growth. The last thing that stuck in his mind was what he would do now.