Chapter 1

January 1, 2030: Gamestop 11:50 PM

The eve of 2030 is throwing a huge curveball for humanity. This year, Time Square is brimming with all walks of life, but not because of a festive ball dropping to signify a new year. No, this year, Alchemy, creator of the highly critically acclaimed Galbadia Prime Online is having a field day, because it is launch day. Ethan Patterson, eager to get his hands on this game since it’s initial announcement at E3 2025, was just one of the many thousands packing the lines of this New York City Gamestop for a chance to immerse themselves in a world which they could shape long-term only by becoming a permanent resident. For Ethan, he was ecstatic. He felt like this world, as real as it may be, offered him nothing of significant value.

Sure, jobs were coming back to the country, but for Ethan, who worked at the local Starbucks, this mattered little. He had no family to speak of, save for a mother in Florida who did little to raise him, unless childbirth and being dumped at the nearest police department is actual parenting.

Ethan looked down at his designated number so he can pick his game rig up and get to exploring. “Only 14 more of you filthy people to go...” he sighed. Alchemy’s marketing campaign was in full force for this game. Around the store, all one could see for entire wall lengths were screen after screen of starships in a galaxy the likes of Star Wars. Numerous displays featured ships firing lasers and cannons against what Ethan assumed were other players. Player verses Player battles. Then, there were screens introducing other activities. Back at the beginning of the line, Ethan saw a small, simple starship gathering debris from other destroyed starships and other materials floating in space. Another showed a cargo delivery ship from Avogadro Industries, which Ethan assumed was a cargo delivery company, en-route to it’s destination when it was promptly shot and destroyed by a rival delivery company ship. The screen showed the victor gaining some kind of points, indicating some kind of currier war system.

On the way out of the store, Ethan, now carrying the box that held the secrets to his possibly only future, saw something on one of the screens that made his blood boil; it made him think he should do exactly what it says and smash this box right in front of store employees. The picture was sick and disturbing. A user of Galbadia Prime Online sat in his gaming rig, playing as usual. The helmet and everything else looked to be in place. There was something odd about this rig though. There were four spiked blades that issued fourth from the outside of the device, dismembering flesh and bone as they sliced. They inflicted gruesome pain, as the face on-screen was a mask of horror, but it appears as though the user granted this request. Besides the rig turning against its user, the only words that can be scene on-screen were “Yes, “No”, and, in the upper right hand corner, the word “Caution” blinked continuously until the blades completed their handiwork. “Handiwork” is quite the understatement. There was literally nothing left of the guy. A stump of what used to be a knee, countless pieces of hair from god only knows where now, and the view screen didn’t even show all of it. But, there was really nothing to see. Judging by the rumor mill surrounding the game, Ethan hoped that Galbadia Prime Online was heaven compared to New York. He hoped for the recently departed dead dude on the viewscreen, and he hoped for the people that, if his assumptions are correct, will be going through that very same process over the next 24 hours.

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Story tagged with:
War / Aliens / Space / Alternate Universe / Robots / AI /