Hey, guys! I'm creating a novel ATM, (actually two but the one we're focusing on here is the one in the title) and decided to post some chapters here as I go! Currently I'm up to Chap. 9, and I will work on it more later. Chapter 1 It was an unwelcome invitation, and I had awfully big shoes to fill. I took a breath and then started checking the contents of the purse with my inventory tool. I don't know who lost this, in this large world, where everyone has an inventory where they can keep items. I guess it could be a quest? Sorry, I guess you haven't heard of me yet. I'm Rairi, the Enigma Knight. I was sucked into this virtual world alongside thousands of others, and six of my friends were brought in with me, apparently. I had yet to find them, and I was worried. We've been living in this world for a few days, and it's pretty massive. So, back to what's happening: I found a mysterious purse in a town on the edge of the desert, and I have no idea who dropped it. I haven't gotten any quest notifications, and no one is around. Maybe it's a trap...? I dismissed the thought, but kept my senses open. I put the purse and all of its' contents in my inventory, and headed out into the desert. I had been walking for a few hours, when I stumbled upon a body leaning against a sand dune. The body had a Colt M1911 pistol on it, and some hidden daggers in each sleeve of the arms. Using my scanning equipment, I checked for a sign of life. It was faint, but there was one. I pulled down the mask on the face and saw that it was a teenager, like me. Carefully, I picked up the body and started heading back to town. The person's vitals didn't look good, and the body was beat up, almost like it fell. But from where? There weren't any planes in this region, and where it was there were no high places from which to fall. On our way back, we were waylayed by bandits. They were one of the player guilds who preyed on others. They asked that I hand over all of my gear and the person's. I refused, and set down the body in the sand. I asked that the bandits stand down, and leave the area at once. "What consequences would there be, eh?" One asked. A shard of metal entered his chest, seemingly by magic, near-instantly. It was a piece of my scythe, which I can manipulate at will and hide easily. It has a grappling hook on one end, with a small scope for pinpoint aiming. The piece flies out of the other side of the bandit and re-attaches to my scythe. "Who's next?" I ask. The rest of them scatter, except for their leader, who charges me idiotically. I smirk at him and disappear as he slashes with his sword. "Too slow," I say as I stab my scythe into his spine. He chokes up blood for a moment, twitches, then, in a moment, he disappears into red shards. I pick up the body once more and head towards the town. A few hours later, we were in town. I brought the body to the hospital, and asked for some medical assistance. The lady at the front desk had an assistant move the person to the Emergency Room. I sat in the waiting room for a while, checking my inventory and checking the mystery purse one more time. I was surprised when I found a name tag on it: Kristal Moon. It was one of my friends' items! Quickly, I stuffed the purse back into my inventory as the door opened. A nurse walked in and told me that the patient was awake. I hurried over to the person's room and went inside. "Hey, how are you doing?" I asked the person. "Great, and you are...?" he responded with sarcasm. "Rairi, the Enigma Knight. Nice to meet ya!" I said with a grin. "What's your name?" "It's... uh... I don't know, to be honest." He says with a frown. "Well, I guess I can call you Gold, because of your shoulder armor color. How's that?" "That seems fitting. Okay, Gold it is then!" he says. I ask Gold if he'd like to accompany me, at least for a while. "Sure, I have nothing better to do anyways!" he says. We head to the armory to pick up some supplies for him the next day. He asks if they have any bows or enchantments. "Well, we have crossbows and bows here, but if you want any enchantments you'll have to head to the Alchemist's." "Thank you very much!" Gold says. I buy him their best bow, some ammo for his pistol, and we head to the Alchemist's. He asks for a certain type of enchantment, one that allows him to freeze opponents. I make sure it's their best type, and then enchant it for him. Afterwards, I check the stats on the enchantment, and it shows that it has a 50% chance to freeze opponents, and a 75% chance to hit with ice damage. "So, what do you want to do now?" he asks. "I'm going to return this item I found to its' rightful owner, that's what. I checked the owner's name of the item, and it's the same as that of one of my friends that entered this place with me. You coming or not?" I ask. "When do we leave?" "That's the spirit! Alright, we make preperation to leave after lunch..." Chapter 2 We decided to head out into the desert, and move eastward, towards where I had found Gold asleep. Neither of us felt like walking, so I purchased a small dunebike from the vehicle shop on the outskirts of the city. It was a three-seater vehicle, painted red and black. "Nice paint job, but could we add some yellow or gold color?" Gold asked. "Sure, once we get to the next town. Hopefully there will be a shop or two there that carries items. We might just find the correct color scheme. Also, I need to make some repairs and upgrades to my grappling hook on my scythe. There's supposed to be a good blacksmith in Koumaine, the city we'll be entering." "Alright, then! When do we get there, if you don't mind me asking?" "Hopefully soon. We could also stop here for a quick break if you w-." I stopped mid-sentence and motioned for Gold to hide. Through the corner of my eye, I saw a large group of bandits silently move towards the vehicle. As soon as they got close enough, I jumped out of the dunebike and landed at the first bandit's feet. "Yo." He jumped back, frightened. "Will you please leave this area? If not, you'll just have to die." He slowly moved back, just as I noticed a peculiar emblem on his shoulder. It was the mark of the bandits that I faced before. "Well, then. I guess you all came back for a rematch. I accept it, then." The bandit smirked as he and his buddies all moved in a circle around me. "You picked the wrong bandits to oppose, buddy! Hreeagh!" he said as he thrust his weapon at my chest. I sidestepped casually and hit him in the head with my fist. As he fell, the rest of the bandits charged. I sliced in a circle as they got within range of my scythe, and got them all at the waist. Before anything else happened, I jumped back onto the dunebike. "Let's get out of here!" I said as I turned on the vehicle. As I drove by, I tossed a grenade into the dying bandits. "Don't look back," I told Gold. "If you do, you'll be affected by what you see." All of a sudden, a large explosion rocked the ground behind us. I heard the shattering sound played when someone or something dies. Gold didn't even turn the slightest towards it. "Well, I guess we're heading to the city, then." "Yeah... to Koumaine." Chapter 3 Once we arrived in town, I immediately bought a map and stored our vehicle. Using the map, you can track any player inside of the safezone, and you get a list of names for each one. Since you can't be killed inside towns, unless it's an event, there isn't much of a worry for people mugging you and/or killing you. As I checked the list of names of players inside the town, I noticed a few familiar names... Mainly enemies, but there was one friend - Grey Washington. I had met him on the first day we were all trapped inside this world... A week ago I was so excited. Earlier today, I had gotten one of the rare copies of the new game that just came out this very day - The World! It had just finished installing, and I had created the account yesterday to prepare. Quickly, I signed in and chose my starter skills. You get 30 points for choosing 5 skill-sets: Speed, Agility, Strength, Magic/Shooting, and Endurance. Speed is how fast you run, agility is your athletic ability (How flexible you are, how high you can jump, etc.), strength is, well, you get it. Magic/Shooting is how strong your magical ability is, how good you are with guns, and what types you can use/perform. Endurance is how long you can run or attack continuously. For each level in the game, you get 5 skill points for putting into your different skills. You can put a maximum of 100 points into each class, and the max level is fifty. After a few minutes of thinking about how many points I wanted into each skill, I inputted my options: 10 speed, 10 agility, 5 strength, 10 magic/shooting, and 5 endurance. Those were solid options. I then selected my character's starting outfit. For some reason, my character already looked like me... It was strange, but I guess the facial recognition test wasn't for nought! After that, I selected my starting weapon, a scythe, and the two non-magical additions: A grappling hook and sight for it. The one magical addition I selected was magnetic, the one choice most people wouldn't even think of using. As soon as I clicked "Finish Creating", I felt faint and blacked out. "Hey, you okay?" I hear a voice ask. "I think... Who are you? Where are we? And why is everything black?" "You have your eyes closed, dimwit." "Oh... sorry." I open my eyes, and momentarily close them again. The sun is so bright... I look down and see that I'm wearing the armor I selected from the character creation. I had what looked like a bo staff on my back, but when I thought about the scythe part of it, metal suddenly came from the back of my armor and attached to one end of the bo staff. I checked my pockets and found a metal, electronic-looking grappling hook with a scope, like I put on the scythe during character creation. "I'm Grey, by the way. Grey Washington." "And I'm Rairi Enigma. Nice to meet you." I shook the man's hand. "Where are we, though?" I asked. "You can see for yourself. Just look." came the reply. I looked out from the building we were in, and saw that it was The World! Somehow, we were inside of the game! But how...? "But how are we here?" "I don't know myself, but there should hopefully be an answer soon. I don't want to live out the rest of my life inside of a video game, no matter how good it is." "Yeah, I agree. For now, do you want to travel with me?" "Sorry, but I'm a loner. I don't do well in teams..." "That's alright. Want to be friends, at least?" "Why not. I guess we could exchange info whenever we meet anyways, right?" "Sure, why not. Well, see you around, Mr. Washington!" "Wh- don't call me that! I'm a teen like you!" I blink in sheer confusion. What? How is he a teen? "Seriously?" I quiz him. "Yeah, and you don't forget it!" he says as he walks out of the building and disappears from sight. Chapter 4 I opened up my menu and PM'd Grey, asking him to meet me in the nearest cafe. After that, I told him that I was bringing a friend, and we had things to discuss. He replied with: "Gotcha. I'll head there now." "Who is this 'Grey' person you were PM'ing just now?" Gold asks. "An old friend," I respond. "Ah, I see. Is that him approaching now?" "Sure is. Hey, Grey! What's-" All of a sudden, I get a warning on my screen: WARNING! BANDITS HAVE INVADED THE TOWN! Shoot! I guess this meeting won't be as peaceful as I thought... "Hey, get ready, kid!" "Who, me?" Gold responds. "Yeah, you! Who else around here has those kinds of ears? Get inside, somewhere safe!" Gold shakes his head and chuckles. "You really don't know who I am, do you?" "No, and I don't care. Get inside!" "Hold on, guys! Grey, he's with me!" I responded. "Really? A Furran is traveling with you?" "Yeah, so what?" "Never mind that! Just get ready for a fight!" "I'll try holding back so you both get some kills," I said with a grin as the first bandit appeared in my sight. As he approached, I scanned the area for any more that could try to come from behind or the rooftops. Once I had identified where they were, I took out my scythe and rushed the closest one. He looked pretty startled as I sliced him in half. I jumped sideways and into a spin, cutting two more bandits into pieces. After I had cleared around a third of the bandits, I went back to check on Grey and Gold. I was surprised to find them holding their own easily. "So, you finally decided to join the party?" Grey said with a smirk. "You know it." "Hey, Rairi! Don't fight, just watch and see how I do holding my own!" "Fine..." I didn't like this... Something felt off, but I couldn't tell what. I decided to watch how they fight, while keeping an eye out at the same time. Gold was using his Colt to take out multiple enemies rapidly, instead of his bow, while Grey was using his shotgun to take out clusters of them, instead of using his sniper or combat knife he always had on him. I sighed and watched as they nearly got overrun without me. "Can I join in now, please?" I asked. "Fine... just make it quick!" Grey responds. I sprint ahead of them and create a whirlwind effect with my scythe's blade. Gold and Grey watch as each bandit is killed by the whirlwind, one by one. "Man... we have a ways to go to be on his level." "For sure." Chapter 5 Just as we were about to celebrate our victory, I heard a gruff voice behind me say "Hold up there, kid. We have some business with you!" As I turned around, I saw multiple players swinging their weapons at me all at once. There was no time to dodge them all... I sighed. "Guess it's time to finally use my power." I said as I focused all of my willpower into creating a living flame around my body. Each weapon the players used melted, one by one. "What in the... GAH! You'll regret this, punk... Watch your back!" the gruff voice said once again as the players ran off. EVENT OVER flashed in front of me. "Rairi... what was that?!" Gold asked. "Yeah, that was awesome!" Grey said. "Something I learned in the real world... I guess what skills we have there translate into the game." "'Game'?" Gold asked. "What, you didn't know this was a game? We have a lot more to talk about than just where to search next..." I responded as we headed into the cafe. Four hours later Once I had explained everything to Gold, we decided to use a player tracker to find Krystal. Player trackers were expensive, but well worth it. You can track a player anywhere, even if the worst managed to happen to them... If the condition applies. The condition goes as follows: If you die by natural means, or by any force other than your HP dropping to zero, your body stays until the HP gauge is fully depleted. "Ahh, I see now!" Gold said. "So, when do we leave?" "As soon as I get it working... Aha! There!" Suddenly the screen flashed on and showed a text box with "Name..." inside of it. I typed in the name Kristal Moon into it, and tapped on Enter. The screen transformed into a map with a beacon on it, slowly moving eastward. "Let's get a move on, then!" Grey said as he jogged out the door. "Uhm, which way are we headed?" "Just follow me. We're heading to the garage first to get dunebikes." "But... how do I drive one?" Gold asked. "When you buy your first one, you'll be taken to a tutorial where you can learn how. We'll wait for you at the garage entrance into the city, alright?" "Sure!" Chapter 6 After Gold finally finished the tutorial for driving vehicles, we headed out into the desert divide between towns once more. The blip on the tracker hadn't moved much... I began to worry. We were nearly there, but something felt... off. I asked Gold and Grey to go ahead, then turned westward a few meters. Like I had thought... An old base was right there! I checked to see if anyone had claimed it yet, and no one had. I decided to check inside. The place was empty, lifeless... It had a lot of room for upgrades, though. The base itself came with an upstairs bunk area, an inactive medical facility, a hatch leading to the outside, and a garage which had an entrance to the outside with room for 10 vehicles. Sadly, there was no electricity yet. The price was cheap, so I decided to claim the building. Before I left, I bought five upgrades: electricity, a cryochamber, a laboratory, repairs for the medical facility, and windows with shutting fortifications. Suddenly, I got a message from Grey, telling me to get to his position immediately. I didn't even bother replying as I zoomed off towards the marker on the map - A cave. As I arrived at the cave, I heard someone counting down. I powered down my dune bike and jumped on top of the entrance to see what was happening. I saw Grey, Gold, and a few other people lined up and tied. A band of players were aiming their weapons at them. They must be a faction, I thought. Their officer had a strange white figure behind him... I ignored it. They were on 3 now. "2..." Wait, they were going to open fire! "1..." I jumped forward, shielding the people with my flames. "FIRE!" The men opened fire, but their bullets melted before they could reach the prisoners. "What?!" their officer yelled. I grinned and dashed toward the firing squad with my scythe in hand. "You shouldn't go around executing people, pal!" I said to them as I slashed them in half with a combination of my scythe and my flames. Once they disintegrated, I walked over to the prisoners and untied them. "What happened?" I asked Gold. "They tied us up once we walked into the cave... I'm sorry, we were being idiotic... but wait! There was something we needed to show you inside the cave! Quickly, follow me!" "Alright..." "C'mon!" Grey said. Once we got into the final room of the cave, I stood still in shock, wide-eyed. "Kristal!" Chapter 7 I ran forward toward her slumped body, and checked her vital signs. She had been shot once, in the lungs. The bullet passed through cleanly, but the damage had been done. She was bleeding out, internally and externally. There was no way to do anything, except with a healer, which we didn't have. "Rairi...?" she faintly said. "Yeah? I'm here... What is it?" "The others... I know where they are. The locations are in my backpack... I had a spare in my purse, but I lost that in another city..." "Yeah, I found it and came looking for you." "I don't have much time... take the backpack and go... I would explain more of what I know, but the backpack has it all, and I'm dead anyways... Good-bye, Rai... ri..." "No... This can't be happening! No! NO!" I pounded the ground as tears streamed down my face. I'd lost a friend within the first five days of the game... this wasn't fair... why did it have to happen?! Suddenly, Gold walked up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. "We need to go, Rairi. Now." I nodded, grabbed Kristal's backpack, and walked back towards the entrance of the cave. "Whoever did this will pay..." Grey said. "Why're you so mad, Grey? You never knew her." "So what? She was your friend, which makes her my friend." "I guess so... Either way, I'm going to be the one who does it... Now, back to base." A few minutes later, we arrived at the garage entrance to our outpost. We parked the vehicles, and took the elevator upstairs. "Nice work." "Thanks." "You don't have to talk about it, y'know..." "Yeah. Don't remind me." "Sorry." The elevator doors opened. "Choose a bunk upstairs, there's plenty. Once you do, come to the command center across the hall. We have some planning to do." Chapter 8 Ten minutes later, we were gathered in the command center. The room had a large monitor on the far wall, and a large holotable in the center of the floor, with four chairs around it. "Sit down, guys." They complied. "This is the plan..." I pulled a disk from Krystal's backpack and placed it into a slot on the holotable. A 3D screen popped up, and showed the landscape of the desert we were currently situated in. "We're here." I pointed with a finger at our base on the map. "There are two people we can get to easily, situated here and here." I pointed at two more locations - a cave, which was probably a dungeon of some sort, and a trading town in the center of the desert. "Which ones are they, if I can ask?" Gold said. "That's a good question. I honestly don't know which ones they are... That information died with Krystal, I believe." "So we'll be flying in blind, then," Grey noted. "In a way, yes. I have, on the television over there, pictures and information on our friends." I pressed a button on the remote I was holding in one hand and the TV turned on, showing the info. "Whoa..." Gold said, wide-eyed. Then he noticed a fellow Furran on the TV. "Wait, there's another of my kind?!" I nodded. "Yeah. She's a good friend of mine. Quite a lot of people want her, for various reasons, so I protected her identity in the real world. Though I suppose this reality is just as real as the other one now..." "I see... Well, at least I'm not the only non-human here now!" he responded. "Not entirely..." I said. "Wait, who else?!" I sighed. "I am... The clan Enigma are not humans... not entirely. We're a bit of both Furran and Human, you see, and have harnessed the power of fire. We protect this secret art, and only use it in dire situations. Though it would look like I just use fire magic here, you see." "The reason why you can't see my ears and tail are because of vanity items I have equipped right now that hide them. Otherwise, they'd be sticking out of the sides of my head, where humans have ears, and the tail out of the... well... tailbone, of course." "Ah... That makes a bit of sense, now!" "Good story. Now can we get a move on? They won't be there forever, y'know!" Grey said. "Alright... we set out in half an hour. Both of you will be going to the trading town. I'll go to the dungeon. Prepare medical supplies, food, water, and weapons and armor. I want to make sure we are able to deal with any and all possible problems. Good luck, guys, and Godspeed." They both walked out of the room, leaving me to prepare and think of my plan for the future.