Waiting, anticipating what would happen next, a message popped up in front of Alan:
[Welcome to the Game! As you logged in for the first time from the Earth, the United World Government would like to give you a presentation before you begin the Tutorial.
Accept and proceed to US spaceport. Decline and begin Tutorial immediately.]
Alan thought for a second, then motioned at the Accept button in front of him. Whatever the message was, it was no doubt important.
Accept, Alan thought, remembering Eve was somehow responding to his thoughts.
He’d briefly considered allowing for being able to push buttons he saw with his hands, but figured it would probably lead to more misclicks than he wanted.
There was a slight disorientation, then, a sudden blinding light.
Alan closed his eyes, and when he opened them once more he found himself standing in a cylindrical, mechanical tube, the glass in front of him sliding open.
Directly in front of him was a Caucasian male American soldier in full military gear, motioning him forward.
As Alan stepped shakily out of the chamber, he looked to his left and right, and he could see there was an entire row of the teleportation chambers, or whatever they were, with people stepping out of similar devices all around him.
As the soldier eyed Alan warily, Alan remembered the bow and knife he was holding in his hands.
“Wait, sorry, I thought there might be some sort of survival challenge or something. So I just grabbed what I found where I started when I logged in.”
“Umm… do you have anything that might hold this knife? Actually you can just have it, and the bow and arrows.”
Alan thrust his hands forward, holding both the knife and bow out.
It wasn’t like he was going to be able to do anything with them, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to go walking around carrying a kitchen knife. People would think he was crazy.
The soldier just stared at him blankly for a second.
“Uh, okay. Wait here for a moment, player.”
The soldier took the bow and knife, then started walking over to a small station of soldiers set up near the exit.
Alan looked around, trying to get a better sense of his surroundings.
It looked like they were in an airplane hangar of some sort, upwards of two hundred feet long and a hundred feet wide. There were maybe 50 chambers with players emerging out of them. In front of each chamber was a soldier holding an assault rifle. Everyone was being directed to the exit at the far end of the hangar.
Trying to see if he could spot Kitana, Alan looked at around at the players emerging from the teleportation chambers. Most of them looked the same as the people he’d seen back in real life, muscular, with a no-nonsense gruffness about them, in a uniform representing the company that hired them.
The majority of them also carried guns of some sort. Maybe Alan should of held onto the knife.
More interestingly though, there were a few people in jeans and a t-shirt like Alan, as well as people in more… colorful clothing.
There were a pair who passed by Alan, a knight and wizard. The knight wore a full set of armor and carried a sword and shield. He made a few loud clinking noises as he walked by Alan, clearly not used to the armor he was wearing. The wizard was wearing a blue robe and a blue pointy hat, both stylized with a few silver lines in a simple pattern, making wild gestures as he walked.
Alan heard a brief part of their conversation as they walked by:
“… some random place in the countryside. I spent half the day trying to get used to this bloody armor. Did you know that plate mail can really ride up your…”
Then, he saw that the soldier who had taken his knife and bow returning, carrying something in his hands.
The soldier walked up to him, handing over what Alan saw was a knife in a sheath.
“Here, put this in your pocket. It’s just a basic combat knife, my CO thought it might be useful. Anyways, just follow everyone else to the auditorium, okay?”
“Umm, alright, thanks,” Alan said, pocketing the knife.
“Okay, just remember, stab them with the pointy end!” The soldier said in a joking manner.
Alan nodded, trying to smile in a friendly way. He didn’t think the soldier was being particularly funny, he knew how to use a knife, but then again he didn’t want to piss off someone holding a fully automatic weapon.
Alan followed everyone else out of the hangar, walking through some sort of metal detector before exiting the building. Once again however, nobody asked Alan to empty his pockets or anything like that.
Emerging from the building, he saw that he was surrounded by at least 20 different hangars that had people streaming out of them. There were literally hundreds maybe thousands of people heading towards a large white tent.
Additionally, there were groups of soldiers of varying nationalities milling about, motioning people that were lagging behind onwards.
Eve, can you locate Kitana? Alan sent. Icewolf hold told him that Kitana was another new player that was in a capsule in the same room as Alan’s, and had recommended he contact her.
Eve highlighted someone on the minimap. She was walking with a group maybe 40 feet away, wearing martial arts robes, with a katana in a sheathe she kept one hand on, talking to an Asian guy along with the knight and wizard he’d seen earlier.
As Alan walked up to her, he realized she was in some sort of group. Maybe these people were all part of some sort of cosplay club?
A handsome Hispanic guy with a friendly face that looked around 20 years old, wearing a tailored white suit and somehow pulling it off, looked up as Alan walked over.
He stepped forward and said, “Hello, can we help you?”
While Alan stumbled forward, trying to figure out the right words to say, Kitana said, “He’s the guy I was just telling you about, Alan, with the advanced AI.”
“Oh, hello Alan, nice to meet you! I’m Thiago. I don’t know what Kitana has told you, but we’re basically a bunch of kids that have arranged to be on the same ship to Khersath. This is actually the first time most of us have met, and we were just getting to know each other.”
To Thiago’s right, the knight in armor lifted up his faceplate, so Alan could see two blue eyes and light brown hair. He was about a foot taller than Alan, but that might just have been due to the armor.
“KingArthur, at your service,” he said with a slight British accent.
“And the MadMerlin, at his!” The wizard next to him said, jerking his finger at KingArthur, laughing maniacally.
KingArthur just shook his head.
“Don’t mind him. He’s just convinced that if he acts completely mental the Game will give him a special class or something.” MadMerlin winked at Alan.
“Hi! I’m Daisy. I was going to be a freshman at Brown before this whole alien thing happened.” A pretty blonde in a yellow sundress wearing sandals said.
“You can call me Ace.” A short, brawny guy with dark brown hair wearing a military fatigues, standing beside Daisy commented.
The girl to Ace’s right introduced herself as Aphrodite with a dazzling smile, and Alan had to admit she had the looks to match the name.
She was just wearing a pair of black jeans with a grey hoody, yet it was clear she had a supermodel’s figure, with long brunette hair and a pair of designer sunglasses on.
Kitana, who was standing behind Aphrodite in line, just nodded at him, while the Asian guy standing next to Kitana didn’t even bother to introduce himself.
He wore a black suit with a black shirt. Holstered to his side was a submachine gun of some sort, making him sort of look like a gangster.
Everyone made small talk, Alan keeping sort of quiet towards the back of the group. Apparently Thiago was from Mexico, KingArthur and the MadMerlin were from the UK, Daisy from Canada, Aphrodite and Ace from the US, Kitana from Japan and the Asian guy Alan gathered was named DaLong, and he was Chinese.
The only other country Alan had ever been to was Canada, making him feel a bit out of his element. Alan still wasn’t sure how all these people had met each other too, and swore he saw a few members of the group throwing weird glances at him.
Alan felt a bit awkward and ended up walking behind everyone else. He muttered something about communicating with his AI, and decided to do just that.
So Eve, do you know where we are?
Location unknown. Current hypotheses: A new International Spaceport, or remodeled US Air Force Base.
Local network detected. May contain answer to question. Hack into network?
Hmm… it’s probably a bad idea to try to hack into an army network, yet at the same time, I’m sort of interested in seeing what Eve is capable of.
What’s the likelihood of detection should you attempt to hack into the network? Actually, also, what’s the chance it’ll be traced back to me?
There is an approximate 0.05% chance of detection of intrusion. Should access logs be reviewed and intrusion detected, there is a 20.34% chance that an attempt will be traced.
Ok, so only like a .01% chance of the hack being traced back to me. Initiate the hack. Also download any data you might find on the network.
Accessing network through backdoor… 7 other users detected… Network accessed.
Masking presence… Downloading data… Monitoring incoming data streams…
You are currently outside of Washington DC, at an International Spaceport that does not exist in real life.
Alan felt rather smug with himself, although he had absolutely no idea what Eve was actually doing.
How’d she just find a backdoor into the network?
He’d just downloaded a bunch of books on hacking for Eve, and had Eve “read” a bunch of forums as well. There were a few tutorials/testing sites as well that treated hacking like a game, so he’d have Eve “play” those too. Still, if it was this easy for Eve, maybe Alan should just sell her…
At this point, the group arrived at the tent. Within, Alan saw there were a few thousand seats, most of which were filled at this point. At the far back there was a stage with a podium on it, with a few seats behind it. Sitting on stage there were a group of important looking officials, along with the first alien Alan saw in person.
The alien looked like a human male, with pale blue hands, around seven feet tall. He, or at least Alan assumed it was a he, wore a skintight, thin dark blue spacesuit that covered most of his body. Covering his face was a helmet with a dark blue faceplate, with three horizontal silver strikes on it.
Next to the alien was a general, a diplomat and a US senator, at least according to Eve. Alan sort of recognized the senator from the news.
Daisy turned around and looked at Alan.
“Umm, sorry, but, well, actually that’s my mom up there,” she said, gesturing at the senator, a woman in a navy blue pantsuit on-stage.
“So, well, we actually have reserved seats near the front as a group, and unfortunately I don’t think there’s room for another. I think they’re expecting this place to be pretty packed.”
“Oh, well, uh, that’s fine. I like sitting in the back anyways,” Alan replied.
He felt that it was a bit unfair, they probably could have found him a seat, yet at the same time he sensed that there was something more to the group, and he was probably infringing on their privacy.
Whatever, once the game actually started he’d be able to find his own guild.
So, the group continued forwards, while Alan decided to take one of the seats in the very back near the entrance. He sat down, and stared at the alien.
What’s the name of that species again? he thought to himself.
He is an Ultihaxlard, the commanders or lords of the Haxlard race.
Oh, right, you’re listening to everything I think… not creepy at all. Well, what does Wikipedia have to say about the Ultihaxlard, and the Haxlard races? Just general information.
Alan probably should have memorized all this information about aliens and whatnot before entering the Game, yet he figured he’d have Eve to ask any questions he had once he downloaded all the information on Wikipedia. Thus, what was the point of memorizing anything?
Alan had ended up spending most of the time he was supposed to be preparing for the Game playing video games. Playing video games to prepare for one made sense, right?
The Haxlards are the initial race that introduced humanity to the interstellar world and the Game. Similar to the majority of races in contact and trading with humanity, Haxlards are humanoid in appearance and biologically. The primary difference being they have blue skin. The Haxlards are ruled* by the Ultihaxlards, who are rumored to demonstrate vastly superior strength, intelligence and agility.
*The exact relationship between Haxlards and Ultihaxlards is unknown, although Ultihaxlards have been seen ordering Haxlards on multiple occasions, and seem to be the only ones in any position of power within Haxlard society.
How exactly a footnote was implanted in a thought, Alan wasn’t quite sure, yet the information still came across clearly.
Alan wondered, Why are Haxlards as well as most of the other alien species I remember seeing online humanoid?
According to various scientists, the leading hypothesis is-
The senator, who was apparently also Daisy’s mother stood up, walking up to the podium. Alan didn’t see a microphone, yet when she spoke, he could hear her clear as day.
“Welcome, everyone, to the Game. I’m sure many of you are sitting here anticipating the adventures you might have, but I want to stress to you one clear, very important point. If humanity hopes to prosper in the days ahead everyone must remember this one, specific rule.”
Wait, this is just a game, right?
“The Game is not just a game.”
Affirmative. Eve answered.
“The Game is war, on an intergalactic scale. The Game determines the territory and resources that each civilization is allowed to hold and gather in real life based upon their standing in the Game. The reason why the in-game currency, credits, are used and accepted by every sentient being is that actions within the Game influence the real world just as much as any action outside the game, if not more.
Now, I am sure there are many questions many of you now have. Let me tell you how this came to be, and a few basic rules you should know.
We are told by the Haxlards that once there was a great war between the race we know as the Predecessors and another sentient race or group we know little about, they called themselves the Lords of Life.
Over the course of the war countless lives were lost, planets made inhospitable. Realizing the folly of their ways as both sides neared extinction, the waste that actual war caused, these two sides decided to finally fight within a virtual space instead, simulating all of the forces they had in real life, both sides agreeing to surrender should they lose this virtual war.
To ensure whichever side lost actually surrendered, both races created a gigantic machine fleet, the Enforcers, who we now know as the real life arm of the Administrators, the moderators of this game.
We know little about how this war actually turned out, however as far as we can tell the Lords of Life are no more, and the Predecessors still exist.
From that point on, all wars and battles were instead fought within this virtual world, which grew to encompass more and more of the known universe.
Just how large of a space the Game now encompasses no one really knows. What is known however, is that the Enforcers hold the only and largest combat fleet in the known universe.
Any race or groups that attempt to create a fleet are completely eradicated.
That then leads us to these Enforcers, and the AI that govern this game, the Administrators. There are many rules, such as not divulging information about the Game to people who have not yet undergone the Tutorial.
More importantly, newly found sentient races are introduced to the game, like humanity was, and are given a period of immunity before they are able to be attacked. This will last around three more years.
Once this immunity wears off however, we are allowed to be attacked within the Game by other forces.
Should another force be capable of holding onto our territory and fulfill various other objectives required by the Administrators, the conquerors are given control of the territory they conquered in Game.
Should we not develop ample forces fast enough or forge the proper allies, soon the Earth may no longer be under human control.
Thus it is imperative for you, who are about to enter this game to remember Earth. Remember humanity. Remember-”
GET OUT NOW. Eve screamed into Alan’s brain.
Alan leapt up, looking around. A few people looked at him, but most were intent on the senator’s speech.
Suddenly, a burst of gunfire was heard outside.
OUT NOW IF YOU WISH TO SURVIVE. FOLLOW THE GIVEN PATH.
Alan dashed outside following a blue line that showed up on the ground in front of him, oblivious to his surroundings, following Eve’s directions.
Outside, he didn’t immediately notice anything out of the ordinary, but continued to follow the blue line. Soon though, the sound of gunfire got louder.
Eve lead him into a nearby hangar, behind a door.
What? What’s going on?
The base is under attack.
Then, over the loudspeaker, a gruff male voice began speaking:
“People of Earth. You are being deceived, lied to with traitorous propaganda.
The United World Government is already in the palms of the Haxlards. If you hope for there to be a free Earth, a Earth free of alien control, there is only one thing you can do.
Join the Legion of Man, or die.”
Huh? Where is this coming from?
Another user within the network. It is their backdoor I used to access the network.
Wait… so you knew these rebels were here? Can you get them out of the network? Why did you tell me to get out of the tent?
Yes, the AI delivering the message was one of the other seven users within the network. I am unable to disconnect them. I detected a bomb within the tent, thus for your safety-
Wait, there’s a bomb in the tent?
Wait, can you broadcast that, wait no, broadcast the following: Everyone should evacuate the big white tent because a bomb is inside, you should be able to since you have the same permissions as these rebels.
Overlaid on top of the voice that was speaking on the loudspeaker, saying something about the tyranny of the United World Government that had arisen, was a female mechanical voice, that said:
“Everyone should evacuate the big white tent because a bomb is inside, you should be able to since you have the same permissions as these rebels.”
Wincing at the addendum, Alan waited, hopefully people were able to hear the warning.
A few seconds later, a huge explosion went off.