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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36. Chapter 36

The six of us sat in Honoria’s hideout. There were two stories to be told. One was the story of what happened in Queenstown. The other was Thunder’s story. 


Thunder quickly told the story of she and her brother Saaler survived the massacre in Praya, escaped the city and eventually met us in Intos. Honoria was quite surprised when Thunder told her and she and Saaler were Praya players. 


“I thought everyone except me had died,” she said with genuine surprise in her voice. 


She then turned to the rest of us. 


“So...Queenstown. Tell me more.” 


I swallowed. Where should I even begin? What details should I include. For few moments I remained silent, trying to find a good place to start.


“Start from the beginning,” Flower prompted me.


I began. I told Honoria of how we had all received letters of invitation to the iSync project at the vulnerable times of our lives which caused us to accept such a strange and rather suspicious invitation. I told her how we were introduced to Sven, how players like Irady and Iren escaped and we had to venture out Queenstown to find them in order to log out. I then told the tale of how we captured Saaler and Thunder, thinking that they were escaped Queenstown players. 


“After that we made our way to Praya, since that is where Irady said he would be and it would be the next logical stop if we wanted to help Saaler and Thunder look for more surviving players. Once we actually got to Praya, Irady told us about the New Victory dungeon where there were two escaped Queenstown players along with Yamil. Yamil almost fooled us by pretending to be a normal player, but Flower managed to outsmart him.  It quickly became obvious that none of us had a chance to win in fight against him since even Saaler could only buy us a few valuable seconds.”


I took a deep breath and sighed.


“And so right now, Saaler is most likely still alive, but trapped down in the dungeon with Yamil holding him hostage.” 


Honoria sat comfortably against the wall, listening to the story. For one reason or the other, everyone else had let me tell the story without a single interruption. Especially Irady. He had become almost a ghost, hiding his presence perfectly. Maybe he was afraid of Honoria. Maybe he felt the way I portrayed him in the story made him sound like nothing but a trouble causing insect that needed to be squashed.


And that was fine by me. 


He almost yelped like a dog when Honoria pointed her finger at him. 


“Surprising how such a low level, unskilled player like you can cause so much trouble for everyone else,” she said.


Irady’s eyes were glued to the ground. Since Irady was stronger than most us, he should have a better measure of just how ridiculous her strength was. I didn’t care to mention that Irady had pretty much all Queenstown players beat when it came to fighting strength. If she thought Irady as weak, then what would that make the rest of us?


“Ah...I’m...uhm...sorry,” Irady mumbled under his breath. 


Wide eyed I turned to Irady. It didn’t sound like a sincere apology, but by just pointing her finger at him, Irady gave in? Just how afraid was he? 


Letting out breath, Honoria stood up and looked out one of the windows. With her arms behind her back, she examined the city like a general looking at the battlefield. We all looked at her back, wondering what she was thinking of. With Darwin’s law of the survival of the fittest, she had automatically become the top-dog in the room. Instinctively we all listened to her word. 


“Basically, you Queenstown players need to collect all the scattered players in order to log out, and this Saaler player from Praya is trapped in the dungeon with Yamil.” 


“Yes,” I confirmed, surprised by how quickly she managed to grasp the situation and sum it up so briefly. 


Honoria turned around, her face devoid of any emotion. 


“I knew that I wasn’t the only surviving player in Praya since I couldn’t log out,” she said. “But now that you and this Saaler have returned, we should be able to make a log-out if we can get all the players to the central plaza in. The biggest problem is that Saaler is being held hostage by the anti-virus program Gavin had installed. Once we free Saaler and move him out of the dungeon, we should be able to make a log out.”


She pointed her finger at Thunder. “You and I will go down into the New Victory dungeon and rescue your brother.” 


Then she looked at all of us. “I will not help you capture Queenstown players. My first priority is gathering all Praya players and logging out. Once we have Saaler back, I will immediately log out.”


“But-” I began, but Honoria cut me off.


“I have no reason to help you,” she said. “The Queenstown issue is not my problem. My only problem is that I am still inside this virtual world.”


Grudgingly I forced myself to not say anything anymore. Her cold and emotionless deduction made perfect sense. She was only one player away from logging out from iSync. She was so much stronger than us that we would only get in the way if we tried to help her, hence there was no need for her to return the favor and help us. Helping us would only cost her more time and delay her log out, further endangering Saaler’s life. There was simply no benefit for her to corporate with us. She was too strong.


“But Yamil is too strong,” Thunder said. “Even if it’s the two of us, we wouldn’t be able to defeat him.”


“We don’t need to defeat him,” Honoria returned immediately.  “I’m probably not strong enough to kill him, I am able compete with him.” 


“What do you mean?” asked Thunder.


Honoria pointed to all the stuff around her. The food and arrow supplies. 


“Where do you think I got all this stuff from?” she asked us. “In terms of raw strength I am able to fight with Yamil. Since he is a computer program, in a longer fight I would lose since I would suffer from fatigue. But in terms of running speed, I am slightly above him. That’s why I could outrun him while taking some supplies from the dungeon.” 


I gulped. So she was that strong. 


“Who are you?” Thunder asked.
 


It was an obvious answer. She was Honoria. But perhaps what Thunder was asking for was more than that. 


“I am Honoria. The first player,” she answered. “I was the very first player that entered this world which you people call iSync.”


“How long have you been testing iSync for?” Thunder asked.


For the first time, I saw Honoria smile. “Fifteen years. I have been testing iSync since the first workable prototype.” 


I remembered that Saaler had told me and he and his sister had been testing iSync for about two years. Honoria was the very first player, the player with more experience than anyone else. She had fifteen years under the belt. She had been fighting in this world since the first prototype and seen and experienced all the changes the programmers made. 


That was why she able to fight so well. She knew every move, every stat, every line of code. She was the premier player. 


While of us were awestruck by this, she opened her AirMenu. I’m not sure what she did, but her AirMenu displayed far more options, and when she opened her maps option, it was far more detailed than the maps our Queenstown AirMenu’s displayed. It was in full 3D just like our maps, but it had far more details in it. I could see the individual bricks on houses, and every tiny leave on the trees. I could see a few of the dead players which Yamil controlled. Honoria map displayed their movements in real time, with a red dotted line behind them indicating the path they had walked up to the current time. 


Then, she zoomed in on the central plaza. It was wide and empty. There were a series of red doted lines all headed for the same direction. She zoomed out. The map showed a thick chunk of red dotted lines all headed in the same direction. They all went to the city gate. 


She scowled. 


“We have a problem.” 

 

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