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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3. Chapter 3

Chapter 3

 

“What the hell was that?” I thought while clutching my chest.

 

This sudden pain followed by the two screams, did it mean that Flower’s theory was true? We were all united as one body, and we would literally feel the pain when someone else died.

 

After about a minute, the pain subsided. With some effort, I managed to stand up. Fefe and Faith were both lying on the ground. Quaker and Flower were on their knees, trying their best to stand up. Sven was completely ignoring the pain and navigating the AirMenu with the desperation of a madman.

 

Around me, all the players were on the ground, clutching their chests. Whimpering and groaning in pain. Some could barely move, others were like me and tried their best to stand up.

 

I stumbled over to Sven. “What was that?”

 

Sven gave me a blank look, then went back to his AirMenu.

 

The cries came roughly from the same direction where the the red-headed girl and her group went off to. Did that mean that they exited the city gates and encountered something?

 

I turned to Sven again. His eyes were glued to the transparent window in front of him. He wasn’t going to be much help right now.

 

“Quaker. Flower. Come with me,” I helped both of them stand up.

 

A bit unsteady at first, but they both managed to get up. A few moments later we could walk normally again despite the slight lingering pain in our chests. Other players around the plaza were still lying on the ground, some in a complete state of shock.

 

“I think that red-headed girl and her group walked past the gates Sven warned us about earlier,” I said. “Maybe this sudden pain has something to do with them.”

 

“Should we go after them?” Quaker asked.

 

I pulled up my AirMenu and summoned a medium length long sword and a wooden shield. I also summoned a plain wooden crossbow and equipped it to my belt like a gunslinger. Very basic equipment, but it will have to do.

 

“It’s the only thing we can do,” I said.

 

Together, the three of us walked off into the direction where the scream came from.

 

“Your theory might be true,” I said to Flower in a whisper as we walked.

 

She looked up at me with worried eyes.

 

 

“I hope I’m wrong...” she averted her eyes.

 

“If you’re right, then God help us all,” I let out a profound breath.

 

Minutes later, we had arrived at one of the city gates. It had an ominous presence to it. Large and imposing, it’s black color along with engravings of flowers made it impossible not to notice. More than that, it made you wonder what was beyond it.

 

Curiosity killed the cat.

 

And that scream certainly came from a curious cat.

 

“Let’s go,” I simply said.

 

This wasn’t a time for grand speeches or group discussions. We had to act fast before we would hear another scream and fall to our knees.

 

Quaker and I put our weight into it, but we soon as we touched the gate, it opened by itself. We almost stumbled forward into the endless darkness that the gate revealed.

 

Before any of us could make a comment, a bright light shone through the darkness. Hypnotized, we stared at it until we had to look away. The light grew brighter and brighter until it completely swallowed the darkness and us three along with it.

 

“What the?” I exclaimed as the warmth of the light went through my body.

 

Moments later, we stood on solid ground again, and the blinding white light was gone. Instead what we saw was just as incredible.

 

The red-headed girl was there, alright. But it was what stood between us and her group that my heart stop.

 

What that the danger Sven warned us of?

 

What stood there was not human. It was two heads taller than a full-grown man. It had a twisted face which roughy resembled that of a horse. It’s tall body was covered with patches of fur at it’s legs and arms, and had some sort of scale armor around it’s neck and stomach. It didn’t have any weapons, but instead it’s long claws made up for it.

 

Then I noticed it.

 

It’s claws were covered in blood.

 

So that’s where the screams came from.

 

I felt someone squeeze my hand. It was Flower. With terror in her eyes, she watched the monster.

 

Letting out a roar that was neither human nor animal, it charged towards the group of players.

 

Some players held up their shields in a desperate attempt to block the attack. Some were frozen in fear and did not move. Tears covered their faces, their bodies shook all over.

 

Caring nothing for it, the lizard aimed straight for those who had lost the will to defend themselves. With one quick motion, it attacked a player who drew out his shield at the last second. The shield shattered and the player received a wound to his arm.

 

“Arrrrrgh!” he screamed in pain.

 

There was little we could do.

 

I felt Flower let go of my hand. I turned to her. She had a crossbow loaded.

 

Before I could say anything, she fired at the lizard.

 

Maybe it was the adrenaline slowing down my perception of time. I watched as the arrow flew and with a “whoosh” sound stuck itself in the lizard’s back.

 

With a roar of pain the lizard turned around, scanned for the source of the ranged attack. It’s eyes locked on the defenseless Flower who had nothing but a crossbow in her hands.

 

I had split seconds to decide what to do. Fight? Defend? Let Flower dodge?

 

I went with the second choice.

 

“Quaker!” I yelled. “Equip a shield! Now!”
 

“A shield?”

 

“Just do it!”

 

We both fumbled with out AirMenu and summoned a shield just in time.

 

The lizard entered its attack motion and sprinted towards us.

 

Quaker and I readied our defense. With Quaker’s larger build and my added support, we should be able to fend off the initial attack.

 

The lizard raised it’s claws in mid sprint. With the full force of its running momentum, the claws came down on us.

 

“Urgh...” I sounded as the force of the attack nearly pushed both of us over.

 

We couldn’t go on like this. We had to go on the offensive.

 

“Flower! Shoot!” I yelled.

 

 

Complying with a calm nod, Flower raised her crossbow and fired another shot. This one found it’s mark right in the right eye of the lizard.

 

Suddenly a swarm of arrows flew towards us.

 

Instinctively, Quaker and I raised our shields upwards. Flower hid behind us. Some of those arrows landed on the lizard, some landed on us.

 

It seemed as if the red-headed girl told her group to copy Flower’s move.

 

 

Yet it appeared as if all those arrows did little damage. The lizard’s back was covered in scales, and our arrows were simply too weak to break its natural armor. We had to aim for the face.

 

I could hear Flower sliding her crossbow into her belt to reload.

 

As soon as the wave of attack was over, Flower took a step back and aimed at the face of the lizard.

 

She pulled the trigger too fast. She didn’t have enough time to focus. She missed.

 

“Krrragh!” the lizard roared and raised it’s claws.

 

Confidently, Quaker and I raised our shields. Wrong move. There was one thing we didn’t know, and it was that the attack algorithms of monsters in iSync were constantly evolving. Constantly trying to be one step ahead of the player.

 

Hiding behind our shields we couldn’t see it, but upon bring its claws down on us, it also entered sprinting position. With the force of its claws and knees, it shattered our wooden shields.

 

Quaker flew far and hit Flower.

 

 

I only flew a few steps.

 

“Quaker! Flower!” I shouted, but before I could get any further, the lizard was right on top of me.

 

It raised it’s claws to finish me off. But with one eye gone, it couldn’t aim properly. It brought its claws down, and at the very last moment I rolled to the side to dodge. I could feel the flying debris on my face.

 

With an annoyed growl, the lizard raised its claws again.

 

I had to make a decision.

 

I drew out my crossbow. With a cry, I leaped forwards, ignoring how close I would come to its claws. At point blank range, I fired the arrow into it’s chest, shattering the armor and piercing its heart.

 

There was a moment of silence.

 

The lizard let out one last inhuman cry, then broke up into a million tiny, colorful polygons. They dissolved before they could land on top of me.

 

Eyes still wide open, panting hard, I stared up at the sky, my mind still in shock about what just happened. Did I just kill that thing?

 

“Issa! Are you alright?” Quaker asked.

 

Lying on the ground, I nodded. Speaking was too much of an effort now. Wordless, Flower knelled down, but averted her eyes.

 

“Thank you...” she said, and helped me stand up.

 

When I got up, the AirMenu automatically opened in front of me and had a Inventory list open. In it, it listed two items: Eagle Coat, and Eagle Crossbow.

 

Surprised, I selected the Eagle Coat.

 

The next moment, the jacket I wore disappeared, and instead a long coat replaced it. The coat reached down to my ankles but was very light, it had a matte silver color to it. The collar was marked with a patter of dark blue and white. The sleeves were marked with a black strip, stylizing the silver edges.

 

Instantly, I stood out from everyone else. It made me very self conscious.

 

I selected the Eagle Crossbow.

 

It was larger, sturdier and even lighter than the crossbow I had used previously. Its handle was made out of wood, but the trigger and rest of the crossbow were matte silver, matching the coat I wore. At the front, it had wings spanning along the strings, matching its name.

 

“How did you get that?” the red-headed girl asked, or rather demanded.

 

“A ‘thank you’ would be nice,” I thought, but decided not to say it.

 

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Maybe it was an item drop from the monster?”

 

“Why do you have it?” the red-headed girl sounded jealous. “You didn’t even do most the damage.”

 

“Hey! Leave him alone,” Quaker put himself in front of me with his hands at his hips. “If we didn’t come here, all of you would have been slaughtered by that monster in all the confusion.”

 

There were some nods in the group. The red-headed girl scowled and without looking at me, walked back to Queenstown.

 

“She could have at least thanked us...” Flower pouted.

 

“Just leave her be,” I shrugged. “She just saw someone die. She’s probably on edge already.”

 

Locking the Eagle Crossbow into my belt, we walked back to Queenstown.

 

After about twenty minutes, we reached the fountain plaza.

 

Sven's face was sick with worry. When he saw me, his eyes brightened for only a moment before falling into deeper despair.

 

“What’s wrong?” I asked him, ignoring all the players staring at me.

 

“How did you get the Eagle Coat?” he asked, and put both his hands on my shoulders. 

 

“It got it by killing the monster that attacked the first group outside the gates,” I answered.

 

Cradling his head in his hands, it seemed as if he was about to cry.

 

“No...no...no...they couldn’t possibly have initiated that update...”

 

“Initiated what?” I asked.

 

Without any warning, a sharp sound pierced the air, forcing all of us down onto our knees. I made eye contact with Quaker and Flower. They were just as confused as I was.

 

Before I could ask Sven what was happening, the whole world went dark.

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