Virtual Mortality Part 2

“Gabe? Are you with me?”

Shaking, so much pain, a deep agony he couldn’t writhe away from. Reality thundered towards him like a steam train. He ripped the tube from his arm, rolled off the couch and fell to the floor, bucket ready for the inevitable. Lena gave him a towel and a few minutes to settle his stomach.

“It’s getting worse Gabe.”

“I’m OK, really. Just spent a little too long in there. I was close this time.”

“You’re going to burn yourself out if you are not careful. You can’t save everybody.”

“I do what I can. What has to be done. You know that” he snapped.

A flash of sour on her face and she changed the subject.

“Are you ready to talk about Alice?”

Gabe wrapped the blanket around himself, settled back on the couch. “OK, tell me.”

“I caught her trace on server nineteen. It was faint and I nearly missed it but it was definitely her.”

“How long ago? She still there?”

He knew Lena, and that she’d never say for certain. Still, he could hope. Almost two years to the day since his sister vanished on her first jaunt into Alterlife. All his fault. If he just hadn’t badgered her into joining.

Expression stark, Lena looked at him as if she could see directly into his soul. Like she could see the guilt he longed to hide. “So, server nineteen is dedicated to Fleet Wars Five.” He noticed she brushed over his last question.

“Damn, is that still going? I haven’t played since version three. Pretty good at it too…” He recalled his former career as Captain Osred ‘the Imposter’ Zain – leader of the mightiest pirate armada and scourge to peaceful traders and colonists. Being the bad guy had been so much fun. Impossible to wipe the shit-eating grin off his face at just the thought of it.

“There have been a lot of changes since then,” Lena explained. “The fleets are larger, the galaxy much bigger and, unfortunately for us, most of the planets and moons now have thriving colonies. She could be anywhere.”

“So we have a whole galaxy to search? Great. Any idea where we start?”

“Praxus V is the biggest outpost so it would make sense to begin there. But there is a problem.”

“Of course there is. So what’s new?”

“Well, you had better not show up as a newbie given your past skills. You would draw too much attention and get flagged to hell. So I recommend you revive the not-so-good Captain Zain.”

“Well, that’s not a problem. Might even be fun for once.”

“That’s not the problem Gabe. Praxus V is under the protection of Alpha fleet.”

If there was an armada more feared than his, Alpha was it. Dedicated to ridding Fleet Wars of powerful bandits who preyed upon weaker players, they saw it as their mission to prevent such abuse. With the push back of the pirate fleets, many users – Gabe included – abandoned the game once his armada’s numbers dropped to unsustainable numbers. Being bad was no longer profitable.

Gabe chugged down the remainder of his energy drink and tossed his blanket to the floor.

“Right then, let’s do this.”

“Gabe, no…”

“Lena dearest. You know as well as I do that time is not on our side.”

“OK,” she sighed. “This time we go through the front door.” She began punching commands into her console, loaded up Captain Zain’s profile and set Gabe’s destination. “No use setting the sentries off too early. As a bonus, it won’t hurt nearly as much. This hunt is going to take a while.”

Gabe lay back down on the couch, readied his arm for Lena to reinsert the IV. To think I used to fear that damned needle. “Juice me up, baby.”

Lena smiled. He put on his happy-go-lucky mask to hide his worry, his mental fatigue.

“Ready for the prick?” she smirked.

“You know I’m not that kind of guy.” Lame reply, as usual.

The cold fluid rushed through his veins, blasted into his heart and flooded his brain. The familiar nausea kicked in. He gulped it down.

“And we are go in five, four, three, two, one.”

The last number echoed and bounced through his mind, sound upon sound, agony after agony. Then silence, a terrifying, empty nothing. Familiar this place – the gates of Alterlife.

Read Part 1 HERE

Originally posted on Steemit – where you earn to blog.

© 2017 GMuxx

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