I’ve been working on a novel length story called War: Online which I’ve decided to self-publish as a serial novel. I am a huge believer in letting my writing speak for itself. Therefore, I am providing a short teaser excerpt for your reading pleasure. If you like it, please consider pre-ordering for your kindle. The story will be available for pre-order tomorrow or earlier with the official release on November 10th. I will be closely watching the sales for this book and, depending on the response and/or demand, I will release the next “episode” sometime in December.
Thank you in advance for reading,
by K. M. Limiti
It didn’t make much sense to me at the time. A mass multiplayer online first person shooter called War: Online, played with a virtual reality headset. Who could ever believe that such a game would be worth the three hundred dollar price tag?
However, as chief correspondent for Video Game Central, it was my duty to investigate as there had been a lot of ridiculous rumors about this game. Some of the more disturbing and far-fetched ones included notions that there was no logout button in the game and that if you died during combat, you died in real life as well. At the time, I laughed.
I purchased a copy of the game at a local retailer, brought it home, and logged into my virtual headset. An ominous black symbol of War: Online appeared in 3D and asked me to choose my name. “Born2Kill,” I said, with a grin. It seemed appropriate. Then it asked me to choose a faction. The choice was very simple: Red or Green. It seemed a little odd that there was no backstory for either of these factions. I made a mental note of it because since I would be reviewing the game, it might count against it in the end. I chose the Green faction for no other reason than green is my favorite color.
The screen turned from black to white and suddenly I spawned into a vast gray city with ruined buildings. Looking around, I noticed that there were hardly any non-player characters with the exception of weapons merchants. I checked my inventory and noticed that they didn’t supply a starter weapon. ‘Damn’ I thought. ‘That’s going to have to count against them in my review.’ I did—however- have five hundred credits. I walked over to one of the NPC weapons merchants and said, “Hi. I’d like to buy a weapon.”
A virtual screened appeared before me. There was a whole arsenal from pistols to assault rifles. However, the best weapon I could afford was an AK-47. I bought that, equipped it, and admired its handling. I sighted the weapon without thinking towards another player who was sitting down looking miserable. As soon as he saw what I was doing, he let out a gigantic yelp and started waving his hands. “Don’t point that thing at me!”
Despite how ridiculous his protestations were, I lowered the weapon. “You fucking noob!” he shouted. “ Are you out of your goddamned mind? Don’t you even know what kind of game this is?”
Above his head flashed his username, Billy Blunts. “Let me tell you something, Mr. Blunts,” I said, adding as much menace into my voice as virtually possible. “I’ll have you know that I’m a professional video game journalist with Video Game Central—“
‘I don’t give a flying fuck who you are, Born2Kill,” he replied with a sneer. “There’s no use in trading threats with someone who is about to die.”
And with those words, Billy Blunts stalked off into the distant streets. It was at this point that I started to realize that something was very odd about this game. Here you have a player, sitting on the ground in an apparently safe area looking utterly miserable. Why not just logout?
Then I remembered that rumor and decided to take a peak inside the menu … only there was no menu to be looked at. In fact, apart from the fact that our usernames were above our avatars, it would be very difficult to tell real life from the virtual world. I had not played this game for more than five minutes, and I was already beginning to come to the conclusion that this was the most immersive virtual reality game I had ever tried.
I was about to make a mental note of this when I heard a booming voice that sounded like it was coming through a radio inside my head. “Attention Green Army!” it said. “Mandatory attendance is required at the South Gate for an assault. All those who do not attend will be immediately disconnected. You have ten minutes. That is all!”
‘Immediately disconnected?’ I repeated to myself. ‘Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. That way I can log out.” I have to admit that despite being a wannabe journalist and a fuck-up, I had an immense personal pride and commitment to delivering quality game reviews to my employer. I knew that to quit now would be chalked up to a failure on my part. This needed my full attention. I checked a map that was supplied for me, and followed it toward the South Gate.
I watched the players follow the road I was on toward the South Gate. They marched without enthusiasm; as if they were being forced to partake in a game that they really wanted no part in.
“First time too?”
I turned my head and there was a sandy hair kid who looked like he was thirteen years old. His eyes scanned his surroundings with a nervous awareness of some greater reality. I nodded my head, but made no reply because I didn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t want to seem like a noob.
“Why did you do it?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” I replied, not understanding what he meant.
“Why did you join this game?”
“I’m a video game journalist,” I replied, with an air of importance.
“Wow,” said my fellow noob, his eyes lighting up.
I ignored the kid the rest of the way there. He made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve ever met another player like him, and I’ve played all sorts of mass multiplayer games: from fantasy themed adventure ones, to heavy player-vs-player, World War 2 themed ones, etc. He was clearly scared, but why? Nothing is going to happen to you. Why would anyone want to play a game like this? The community seemed full of strange people who were either angry or terrified. ‘It has to be the gameplay’ I concluded. ‘The game play must be phenomenal.’
I approached the gate and the rest of the players were already assembled in a neat row. There was a counter on the high end of the gate. We had two minutes. I looked around me hoping to see some kind of clue about what was going to happen, but there was no text or gamemaster to guide me through the process; just the counter and the crowd control methods of the community meshed with my fear of this unknown game that gave me nothing but hints and a terrible rumor that this was a game you never logged out from.
There was no tactic or strategy discussion as the countdown hit 30 seconds. There was no trolling and there was no hope.
Then, it was time.