Yvvaros: The Digital Frontier

BOOK: Yvvaros: The Digital Frontier
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Yvvaros: The Digital Frontier

Alex Mulder

 

 

This digital book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this title with another person, please purchase an additional copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. All other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Alex Mulder

 

Kindle Edition

CHAPTER 1

 

“Yvvaros is more than just a game. It's the next step. Yvvaros is a living, breathing world, the final frontier. It’s as real as the world we're born into. Yvvaros is the paradigm shift we have been waiting for.”

The promotional video ended. Luke Smith stared at the computer monitor with one eyebrow raised, intrigued and more than a little skeptical. His best friend, Ben was watching him carefully, his fingers interlaced in front of his long pale face, waiting for a reaction.

“Well, that's certainly quite the pitch,” said Luke. “But honestly, I don't see anything all that special here. It's just another online role-playing game, complete with a monthly fee, probably just as much of a time and money sink as the rest. I'm not sure if it's worth taking a ride on the hype train for.”

Ben smiled at him and then shook his head.

“I'm telling you, dude, this one is going to be different. You can play it with one of the Gamesoft VR headsets. It's going to be… unbelievable. Like, for real.”

Luke could hear the excitement in his friend's voice and found it annoyingly contagious. He shrugged his shoulders and then took a look at the thumbnails for the other Yvvaros related videos on the side of the browser window. The number of views on most of them was a little staggering.

“This is the one that's based on the books by James K. Douglas, right?”

Ben nodded.

“After they had done the TV show, they were looking for anything they could find to capitalize on their popularity,” he said. “This isn't just going to be the most immersive MMORPG ever, it's also going to be one of the most mainstream.”

Luke scratched his head.

The most mainstream, huh?

He wasn't sure if that was a point for or against the game, but it did make him a little more curious about what the community would be like on release. He glanced back over at Ben to let him know that he'd keep an open mind, only to see that his friend was pulling a tiny pipe out of his desk.

“Are you serious?” asked Luke. “We have to be at school in twenty minutes.”

“That's why I'm getting high now,” said Ben. “It's going to be a long day.”

He lit the bowl, took a heroic hit from it, and then tried to pass it over. Luke held up his hand and shook his head.

“Not today, man,” he said.

Ben exhaled, blowing smoke toward Luke, who quickly stepped out of the way of the billowing cloud. Luke shouldered his backpack and got ready to head out, but Ben motioned for him to wait.

“Here, I'm not going to take no for an answer,” he said. Luke thought he was talking about the pipe, but Ben walked over to the closet and pulled something out of it that looked a little bit like a dark pair of scuba goggles.

“This is… your VR headset?” he asked. “Aren't you going to need this for the game's release tonight?”

Ben shook his head.

“I have the newer one I bought back when the drivers stopped working with this one,” he said. “It should be fine now if you run the update. Just promise me you'll give it a try?”

Luke sighed and shrugged his shoulders.

It's not like I have anything to lose, other than the cost of the game, right?

“Awesome! This is going to be a good old-fashioned blasty blast, just you wait.” Ben let out a rough smoker's cough into the crook of his elbow and stood up. “I would have figured you'd be more willing to consider trying it, what with your dad being one of the developers and all…”

Luke sighed and started for the door.

“Yeah, you'd think so, wouldn't you?”

The walk to school was short. It was the middle of fall, but the weather was still warm outside, and the sky was painted with lazy-looking white clouds. They arrived a few minutes before the first bell and streamed in through the front doors along with the other fresh-faced students.

“Alright, see you this afternoon man!” said Ben, as he split off in the direction of his locker.

Luke shot him a confused look.

We don't usually walk back together on Thursdays?

“In-game, dude,” said Ben. Luke nodded, already feeling as though his friend was taking the prospect of the virtual world a little too seriously.

He headed toward his own locker and mentally began shoring up his defenses in the same way he did on every morning. After unshouldering his bag, Luke got through the first two digits of his combination before he felt another student jostle his shoulder.

“You'd better hurry Slow Mo!” he yelled. “First bell is about to ring!”

Luke ignored him. It was something that had been a part of his life since freshman year, back when he'd never been able to wake up on time and get to school early enough. The nickname had stuck, and he didn't actually mind. The more physical stuff and crueler pranks were something else, though it was nothing that he hadn't grown used to over time.

He pushed his backpack into his locker, feeling the VR headset at the bottom as he hung it off one of the hooks on the wall. Luke's first class was calculus, and after grabbing the books he needed he hurried down the hall.

“Slow Mo is here!” yelled Brett. “You seriously need to learn to set your alarm, retard.”

Laughter erupted from the classroom. Luke rolled his eyes and glanced up at the clock. It was still only 7:59. He wasn't late, but his classmates were more interested in enjoying the joke at his expense then being technically correct.

He walked across the room and down the aisle toward where his desk was, or rather, where his desk had been. There was still a plastic, metal framed chair in the spot, but the desk was nowhere to be seen.

“We thought that you weren't going to be here, so we moved your desk into the closet,” said Brett. “Man, you really need to start hustling on your way to class.”

Luke glared at him, feeling his anger outpacing his ability to stay calm and controlled. He forced himself to walk to the back of the room where the closet was and opened the door.

One of these days, I'm not going to be able to just brush this kind of thing off anymore.

The sound of something falling reached him first, followed by cold water drenching his clothes. Someone had balanced a bucket on the top of the door. He wiped off his face and hair and then turned toward Brett, who was sitting at his desk with a self-satisfied look on his face.

The laughter in the room was biting and cruel. Luke began to stomp his way over to the jock, unable to contain himself any longer.

Enough is enough!

Before he'd made it across the room, Ms. Stiles, their authoritarian, no-nonsense calculus teacher, had walked into the room. She took one look at Luke and shook her head.

“I don't know what's going on, and I don't care,” she said. “Get your desk Luke and get in your seat.”

He sighed, and walked back over to the closet, feeling defeated and more than a little bit worn down. For the past four years, this was how every day had played out. Luke’s resolve was part of the reason he’d become such a target, durable entertainment for the serial abusers of his high school.

“Your shirt looks wet, you know…”

It was lunchtime, and Luke had thought that he was sitting alone. Ben usually dipped out during lunch to head to his car and get high. Today, however, a familiar face had sat down next to him.

Sam Jennings had been Luke's next door neighbor for as long as he could remember. They had gone to kindergarten and grade school together, and though their relationship had ebbed and waned over the years, she had always been there for him. Luke turned and smiled at her, trying to act as casual as he could, given the circumstances.

“One of the drinking fountains exploded on me,” he said. “You know how it is.”

She smiled back. Sam was one of the most eye-catching girls at their high school, short but with a cute face and a good sense of fashion. She was a little too focused on grades and school work to ever fit in with the popular, party obsessed cliques, but she'd never been a target of abuse like Luke was, either.

“Yeah Luke,” she said softly. “I do know how it is.”

She reached over and rubbed his shoulder. Luke rolled his eyes at her and shrugged her hand off. Sam was concerned about him, and he knew that she meant well, but it had never been his style to offload his problems onto other people.

The last thing that I need is for her to worry about me. I can take care of myself.

“Anyway, what's up?” asked Luke. “I thought you usually ate lunch in study hall.”

“I wanted to eat with you today,” said Sam. She pulled out a cute pink lunch box from her bag and opened it up, revealing food that looked a lot more appetizing than the plain tuna sandwich and carrot sticks that Luke had brought with him.

“Alright, knock yourself out,” said Luke. He had talked to enough of the guys in school, Ben included, to be aware that most of them were a little intimidated by Sam. It had never been an issue for Luke. He remembered her peeing her pants in kindergarten, literally crying over spilled milk in first grade, and enough other revealing things from over the years to be able to see beyond her alluring eyes.

“Thanks,” she said. “You can try some of mine if you want…”

Sam looked away from him for a second, and Luke didn't hesitate to take her up on the offer, plucking a dumpling out of her lunch box and tossing it into his mouth.

“Yum,” he said. Sam smiled at him and poked him in the arm.

“How are your calculus grades?” she asked.

“Fine.” It was a lie, but the last thing Luke was about to do was admit that he was struggling. Sam looked entirely unconvinced.

“Luke, why do you always try so hard to push me away when I try to help you?” she asked. “I could be your tutor, if you wanted.”

Luke shrugged his shoulders. Even though he loathed admitting it, part of him wanted to take her up on the offer.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, even if she is a bit of a know it all…

“We'll see,” said Luke. “I'm uh, really busy over the next few days.”

Sam glanced away from him with a sigh, and her cheeks turned bright red. An awkward silence hung in the air for a second, and then she closed her lunch box and stood up abruptly.

“Whatever, Luke.” She started walking away from him. Luke scratched his head and wondered if he should call after her or not. Before he could make up his mind, she had already disappeared, squeezing into an open spot at a table full senior girls. He sighed, and turned back to his food.

Am I really that much of a loner, or do I just like to make myself suffer?

The rest of the day went by quickly. Luke brushed off more insults and jokes at his expense and did his best to focus on paying attention in his classes. His mind wandered, as it always did, and he thought about the headset that Ben had given him, along with the video they'd seen that morning.

Finally, the last bell rang. Luke headed to his locker, weaving through the overcrowded hallway as quickly as he could. His backpack felt heavier than usual on his shoulders, as though the headset had pushed it over an invisible weight threshold.

The walk home was brief. Luke stopped as he approached the driveway, noticing his dad's car parked in it.

Damn it, I thought he'd still be at work.

Luke tried to open the front door as quietly as he could, hoping that he could get inside without making a scene. His dad was sitting on the couch, and looked at him blankly, almost without any recognition.

This is how it's always been, and how it always will be.

Luke had been four when his mother had died, and it had left him and his father holding the broken pieces of a newly dysfunctional family unit. They had had relied on her for everything, or at least everything that mattered.

Luke understood the pain that his father had felt at the time, even as a four-year-old. Unfortunately, Chris Smith's way of dealing with it was to close himself off and bottle up his emotions until they came to a head. When that happened, as it had so many times before, Luke was the only one around to be a target.

“I'm just going to head up to my room and work on my homework,” said Luke, breaking the silence. “Just call me when dinner is ready.”

“You're making your own food tonight.” His dad's voice was cold and uncaring. “I have to go out.”

“Oh,” said Luke. “Okay.”

The look that his dad shot back at him was enough to cause his body to tense up, as though he was a mouse trying to go unnoticed by a hungry cat. He felt his own anger building up, boiling over, inviting him to run out of the house to get some much needed space.

His dad turned back to the TV and Luke walked upstairs. He desperately wanted to try out the headset. It was less about his curiosity and all of the hype the game had garnered over the last several months and more about a need to temporarily escape reality.

Luke took the headset out of his bag and spent a minute hitching it up to his computer. It didn't look much different from other VR headsets that he'd seen, but after trying it on, he found that it fit over his eyes much more snugly.

It also came with two tiny USB webcams. Luke read through the instructions on the back of the box and saw that they were meant to be set up on either side of his laptop, facing toward him diagonally. They would pick up the movements of his arms, body, and legs, and translate them into the game.

BOOK: Yvvaros: The Digital Frontier
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Rival by Penelope Douglas
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Honor Bound by Elaine Cunningham
Deadly Dozen: 12 Mysteries/Thrillers by Diane Capri, J Carson Black, Carol Davis Luce, M A Comley, Cheryl Bradshaw, Aaron Patterson, Vincent Zandri, Joshua Graham, J F Penn, Michele Scott, Allan Leverone, Linda S Prather
El caballero del jabalí blanco by José Javier Esparza
London Bound by Jessica Jarman
90 Miles to Freedom by K. C. Hilton