iSync

Trapped in an online world called iSync, Issa meets a thousand other players from every corner of the world, who all go by their online ID names. Struggling to survive and fighting for a way out, he meets Flower, a mysteriously smart girl. How will a human mind survive in conditions evolution hasn't prepared it for?

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11. Chapter 11

Chapter 11

 

The three of us remained completely still, not saying a single word. Who were those players outside? They shouldn’t be from Queenstown, or else Sven and Safire would have told us that there was someone heading our way. If they were May Day members, they shouldn’t be wondering where this town is, since they would also be coming out of Queenstown.

 

Those are definitely two of the escaped sixteen players. Since they ran away in the first two hours of iSync, they didn’t receive the information and training Sven gave out until after they ran away. If they haven’t figured out how to open the Map option, it would be no wonder that they were lost.

 

Without a word, I opened the Air Menu, and summoned my Moon Blade and Feather’s Cross. Flower drew out her Eagle Crossbow. Quaker took out his Queenstown Wall, just in case if the escapees somehow had gotten their hands on high power weapons.

 

“I told you not to come down this way!” the first voice complained. “Now we have no idea what direction Praya is, and we have no compass either!”

 

“Just let me think for a bit,” the second voice let out a profound breath. Whoever this person was, he was tired.

 

“I think the first voice is a girl,” Flower whispered.

 

I nodded. Judging from the pitch, and sound of it, it was most likely a girl. But from behind these walls, it was difficult to be completely sure.

 

I looked around quickly. Berry’s Inn only had one entrance. As far as I knew, there was no backdoor. One way in, one way out.

 

“Quaker, you go first. Me and Flower will rush out from behind you,” I whispered as quietly as I could.

 

“Issa, should we...” Quaker whispered.

 

I shook my head. “No attacking. We aren’t 100% sure of who they are, but have your weapons ready. We don’t shoot, unless they shoot.”

 

I heard Flower lock an arrow into the Eagle Crossbow.

 

With my hand I signaled Quaker.

 

3...

 

2...

 

1...

 

Go.

 

At fast jogging speed, Quaker burst out of the door, with Flower and I following behind him, hiding behind his Queenstown Wall. We quickly moved closer to those two players before they even had time to react.

 

“Don’t move!” I shouted while pointing my Feather’s Cross at the two.

 

It was indeed a guy and a girl. The girl was roughly about Flower’s height, with long brown bangs partially covering her left eye, light chest armor and wielding two swords. The guy had shoulder length brown hair, equipped with a dark silver sword I had never seen before. He too wore the basic upgraded light chest armor.

 

“What?” the guy managed to stutter in his surprise.

 

The girl shrieked in terror and hid behind the guy. Was he her boyfriend? Or maybe her brother?

 

“Don’t move!” I repeated.

 

There was a moment of silence. The guy and the girl stared at us, and we stared back at them. We had them outnumbered and surrounded, but had no idea about what to do now. We had no ropes, no handcuffs or anything else that we could use to capture them. How would we transport them back to Queenstown?

 

“Please!” the guy said. “Don’t shoot! You survived like us right? At Praya!”

 

I had no idea what he was talking about. Flower and Quaker seemed just as confused. Praya? Was that the new name the 16 escapees had come up with for Queenstown?

 

“Flower! Quaker! Let’s move them back to the inn!” I called out.

 

They nodded.

 

“Quaker you walk behind them, Flower in front, I’ll take care of the side,” I quickly instructed. If they decided to suddenly burst through and barricade themselves in the inn, then Flower could shoot at least one of them down, and from my close distance I could take care of the second one. With Quaker in the back, they wouldn’t be able to run away either. It was a plan with a thousand faults, but in the heat of the moment, it worked.

 

The guy growing exceedingly nervous, and the girl clinging to his arm, we moved them into Berry’s Inn, and had them sit down on some chairs placed against the wall.

 

To be honest, I felt pretty bad doing all of this. It made us no better than Irady. But at the same time, we needed to capture these two to be able to log out.

 

We placed two chairs and a table a few steps away from them. Quaker put away his Wall and summoned a standard issue default crossbow. It was time to find out who those two were.

 

*  *  *

 

The guy’s name was Saaler, and the girl was called Thunder. It was pretty obvious that the guy just used his given name from real life, and the girl had used the first word that came to her mind for her ID name tag.

 

“Where are the other fourteen escaped players?” I asked straight away, without introducing ourselves.

 

“What other fourteen players?” Saaler asked.

 

Letting out a deep breath in annoyance, I pulled out my Moon Blade, walked over to them and pressed it against his neck.

 

“Look, we don’t have time for these games,” I hissed. “Maybe you don’t know it, but players have already died. We need to log out as soon as possible, and it is you guys who are making it impossible.”

 

“Where are the other fourteen players?” I asked again.

 

“You mean fourteen more survivors from Praya?” Saaler returned, his voice sounding as if he was at a complete loss.

 

“Queenstown,” I growled. “At least get the name right.”

 

“What’s Queenstown?” Saaler shook his head.

 

I snapped. I raised my fist and was about to punch him, when Quaker reached from behind and grabbed my arm. He shook his head.

 

“Let’s listen to their story first. Maybe they aren’t even from Queenstown.”

 

Letting out a breath, I stepped back. I could see relief on Saaler’s and Thunder’s faces.

 

I sat down on the table. Flower moved next to me.

 

“There is a chance that they are actually not from Queenstown,” Flower said to me.

 

“What do you mean?” I asked.

 

“Sven wasn’t the only developer,” Flower explained. “It is entirely possible that there are other places populated with players like Queenstown.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Flower shook her head. “I’m only guessing. But judging from the sheer scale of iSync by the distance between Queenstown and Intos, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are other towns. If a place like Intos exists outside Queenstown, maybe this place called Praya also exists.”

 

I nodded. After calming down and listening to Flower’s theory, it did make sense. Considering that iSync was built on such a large scale, beta-testing it with only the players in Queenstown would be a waste. Each server could serve one town, and servers could be interconnected with each other.

 

Quaker came back. He nodded. Saaler and Thunder were ready to tell us their story.

 

*  *  *

 

“We are from a city called Praya,” Saaler began to explain. “We are just like you guys, we are also testers for this virtual reality technology.”

 

Nodding, we encouraged for him to go on. My gut feeling told me that his story would soon turn pretty ugly. Why else would he have called us ‘survivors of Praya’ earlier.

 

Saaler continued. “When our minds were connected to this world, we were in a city called Praya. We had a moderator from the development team, but he got killed very soon after the developers couldn’t solve the logout problem.”

 

As the memories came back to him, I could see his expression growing darker.

 

“Our moderator’s name was Gavin. A few hours into the game, when he announced that we couldn’t log out anymore, panic broke out. I don’t know what caused the hundred-or so players to turn into animals like that. They demanded for Gavin to log them out, yet there was nothing Gavin could do. The crowd moved in on him, started pushing him around. He became the aim for all their anger. They punched him until his body was beyond recognition. Then when that wasn’t enough, since they still couldn’t log out, they literally ripped him apart, hoping that something would happen.”

 

Thunder lowered her head and clutched her own arms. Just the memories of this were making her shake with fear.

 

“The panic escalated into hysteria. The players all turned into animals, and before the blackout eclipse happened, testers summoned their weapons, and in the panic, even more got killed by stray arrows, throwing knifes, or players who completely lost their minds and were hacking to death anyone they saw.”

 

Hearing Saaler’s story, it made me feel so sick I had to clutch my stomach. How could human beings be reduced to panicked animals? Yet, it didn’t surprise me. Flower had warned me of the same thing happening to Sven if he wasn’t careful. It seems that this Gavin guy wasn’t so lucky.

 

“I’m not sure, but I think me and my sister might be the only survivors. We quickly ran away when we realized that the crowd was turning murderous. We ran until we saw a village. But along the way…the entire time we heard people screaming, losing their heads in hysteria, the sound of bloodshed.

 

“Afterwards, we didn’t dare go back. We simply kept running and running, afraid that panicked testers might chase after us and kill us.”

 

Thunder, who hadn’t said a word the entire time, was crying, her shoulders shaking. Quaker, Flower and I all felt sick to our stomachs after hearing their gruesome tale. We now felt so grateful that we only had one arrogant Irady to deal with. We felt so grateful that the Queenstown players hadn't turned into a panicked mob.

 

Yet, I couldn’t be sure if Saaler was lying or not. Surely, such a story would be difficult to make up on the spot, but if he and his sister were one of the escaped sixteen, then he had plenty of time to come up with something like that. I looked at Thunder. Is it possible to summon such a strong emotional reaction if the story was a lie? Saaler looked like as if he was going to puke just from telling the story.

 

Before I could ask Quaker and Flower if they thought the Praya story was true or not, Flower turned to me with her AirMenu open.

 

“I have a message from Safire.” 

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