Blade. Blade. Blade. Parry. Blade. Blade. Clash.
Blade. Blade. Shield. Blade. Shield. Shield. Dodge.
Matt quickly took a deep breath as he prepared himself for his next move.
Shield. Thrust. Chop. Chop. Shield. Chop. Swing. Chop. Blood.
Chop. Blood. Scream. Chop. Disarm. Stab. Thrust. Gurgle. Blood. Twist. Pull. Thud.
Matt selected Loot Body. A screen displayed showing the content of his fallen opponent’s sack of supplies.
Matt would likely never get used to the idea of the mixed gaming genre known as SciFan.
Grenades? A Laser Pistol? In a Fantasy world?
Technology mixed with magic just seemed a little weird to him, but at the same time he’d seen some pretty sweet weapons being used by higher level players. He couldn’t wait to get his hands on one of those Magical Anti-Gravity Guns that increase the target’s gravity. The results are devastating: crushes men, vehicles and buildings with ease, leaving nothing behind but rubble and blood.
The magic of the gun stems from the infamous Hammer of the Gods spell. The only downside of the weapon is that firepower exhausts a large quantity of the user’s Mana. An unskilled player would likely expend all of their resources, resulting in the death of their avatar. There are the occasional suicide bombers who give up all they have to destroy a city… but these are the rare techies who have bypassed the energy feed limiters just to experience the thrill of it. Apparently it creates a euphoric high when your avatar dies in such an explosion.
What ever happened to good old-fashioned drugs?
Matt dug through his fallen opponent’s bag of loot, taking any weapon or spell he could find. He pulled out a curious-looking hourglass with ancient runes carved all over it. It was then that @doomsday16 arrived after defeating his own opponent.
“What ya got there?”
“I dunno.” Matt studied the beautiful carvings, “Looks like an ancient artifact. Do you think it’s worth something?”
“I doubt it.” he scoffed, “I’ve learned that most things in the game that aren’t obviously a weapon are items that have been infused with some freaky dark magic. I’d stay the hell away from it, if I were you.”
But Matt felt drawn to the curious artifact, “Thanks for the advice, but I think I’ll keep it.”
“Suit yourself. It’s your funeral.” he shook his head in disapproval, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Matt ignored him, and tucked the hourglass away in his inventory sack. He then pulled up his stats to see if the raid had gained him any points.
Disappointed at the meager results, Matt followed @doomsday16 as they cut a path through the thick forest. Fortunately he had looted a sword from a fallen opponent during another recent raid and had ditched his pitiful spear, which would have been useless in cutting down these thick brambles. He also now had a breastplate that he had plundered, despite the fact that it looked rather odd with his loincloth.
“How far are we from the City?” Matt asked as he chopped away at the path.
“It will likely take a few days on foot.”
“Dang, that’s a long time.”
“Unless we can tame a dragon to fly us there,” @doomsday16 scoffed, “then I don’t see any faster way…”
Suddenly his friend stopped short and held a finger to his lips. They stood in silence for several minutes as both of them scanned their surroundings. It was dead silent, and Matt couldn’t understand his friend’s hesitation.
Then his eyes darted as he heard a shuffling sound to his right. Slowly, he raised his sword and shield as anxiety prickled on the back of his bare neck.
An inhuman screech erupted from a black mass that barreled toward him, knocking him into the sharp brambles. The pain from the thorns felt real, and Matt cowered behind his shield and swung his sword wildly in the air. He felt a sticky tentacle grab his leg and drag him forcefully through the sharp brambles at a tremendous speed. Matt could see @doomsday16 chasing but falling far behind in his pursuit, casting a myriad of spells and enchantments.
One of the spells struck the beast, stunning it momentarily. Matt took his chance, and swung at the black tentacle that had wrapped around his leg. The severed remains of the tentacle retracted into the black mass that resembled a land-bound squid, with hundreds of mouths gnashing their teeth. Matt made no hesitation, thrusting his sword deep into the heart of the nasty creature.
Dozens of sticky black tentacles wrapped themselves around Matt has he held on to the hilt of the blade, thrusting it deeper and deeper with all of his strength. The tentacles threatened to crush him, and the mouths threatened to rip his bare skin to shreds with their razor-sharp teeth.
One of the many mouths got ahold of his shoulder, and Matt screamed out in excruciating pain. He twisted the hilt and forced the blade in every direction he could muster, willing it to kill the gruesome beast. At last, the tentacles relaxed and the mouth released its hold. The beast shuddered several times as Matt held his stance. Finally, the dozens of tentacles fell and appeared to melt as they hit the ground. The giant mass of creature seeped into a messy puddle of a tar-like substance, staining his blade.
@doomsday16 arrived, panting from his sprint.
“You…” he spoke between breaths, “You did it!”
Matt stared at the mess of black goo at their feet and took several deep breaths to calm himself. He was surprised by how realistic the dark beast had appeared with its many tentacles and large gnashing teeth. But even more surprising were the voices inside his head threatening to consume his soul. Had he not obtained the sword and breastplate, he doubted he would have survived the attack by the loathsome creature.
“I sure as hell hope we don’t run into another one of those things!” he panted.
“You’d better get used to it.” @doomsday16 laughed, “Those nasty beasts are crawling around everywhere.”
It was nearing midnight in the real world, and Matt was caving fast. Regardless of the stamina his avatar had earned, Matt’s real body was starting to lose the ability to go on.
“Hey Price, how much farther do you want to go before calling it quits?” Matt asked, exhausted.
@doomsday16 ignored him and continued to forge ahead.
“Price?” Matt asked again, “Hello?”
“Are you talking to me?” @doomsday16 turned around to face him.
The avatar’s eyes were closed.
“Oh…” the realization struck him, “You’re not Price, are you?”
“No.” the avatar spoke gruffly, “Now stop following me or I’ll make mincemeat out of your naked Neanderthal @$$.”
Matt backed away carefully and struck off on a new path.
Why would Price just take off without telling me?
Matt was troubled by this new development, and was extremely tired from the lack of sleep from the night before. He pressed his right temple and was about to log out, when he remembered that he had silenced all of his communication channels.
He activated the virtual keyboard and logged into his communication channel. As expected, there were three voicemails, 26 messages, and an email from Tiffany.
I’ll deal with those later…
Buried in the messages he found three from Price:
All three messages had been sent an hour ago.
He glanced at his character sheet again.
Sighing at his minimal progress, he hit the Log Out button on his virtual screen.
He hesitated as his finger hovered over the Log Out button, remembering he didn’t have a place to stay tonight.
I doubt Derek would answer his phone this late…
He realized that he’d have to stay the night in a hotel.
Jeez! I don’t have a car…
Slowly his finger hovered over to the right. The entire concept went against his conscious, but after seeing the dismal stats on his character sheet…
What the hell. One night can’t hurt.
Chapter 5 is coming next Saturday!
Augmented Insomnia is a prequel to The SciFan™ Universe Series, which takes place about 10 years prior to the first installment, Conquest (GET IT HERE FOR FREE), which is soon coming to Audible! Check out this Book Trailer featuring a sample narration by bestselling narrator Andrea Emmes:
Here’s the blurb:
A primeval darkness threatens to destroy mankind…
The world’s largest gaming platform in the entire industry is led by a man with many secrets. The popular game DarkForce features the World of Zion which has been plagued by the destructive will of the Leviathan for centuries. What gamers don’t know is that the World of Zion actually exists, and the Leviathan has fed off of the souls of men and his fodder has become scarce. He now turns to Earth with an insatiable hunger. Only a woman from Earth who levels up to discover a divine inner power can challenge Earth’s Apocalyptic Fate.
You can follow him: