The morning dawn leaked through the blinds of a yogurt-colored room as the alarm clock hit the 6:20 AM marker and began emitting a high-pitched beam repetitively. The girl lying in bed blindly reached her hand out at the alarm clock, trying to punch on the snooze button again and again. Eventually, she got up and unplugged the power cord, finally turning off the sound. She then went downstairs and fixed herself breakfast when her mother came in to have coffee before she left to work.
“Nana,” her mother started, “Could you please take out the trash before you start practice again?”
Nana nodded as she drank her glass of orange juice.
“Thank you so much!” Her mother then kissed her daughter’s forehead and headed out the door to work.
As Nana finished breakfast, she looked at the calendar, reading the month of April. It was Sunday 12, 2437. There was a marked event that was circled around the 17th of the same week, reading Hedra-Hex Release. It was her older brother’s handwriting.
Dumb Kizami, she thought to herself, you and your games.
Nana then went to the separate small building that stood behind their house and changed into a Japanese-fashioned shrine maiden outfit. Returning outside, she began practicing her thrusts and swings with the family heir loom, the Bara-ibara.
“Roses and thorns,” Nana repeatedly called out. As she swung, thrust and impaled the air, her cellphone beeped, indicating that it was soon 7:30 AM. She changed back into her Western-style clothes and forgot something.
“Oh no!” she said, “The trash!”
She darted with the bag in her hand and saw the morning dumpster truck about to take off. As one of the men that held on from the backside, he saw Nana rush towards them with a full trash bag. He yelled to the driver to hold up a minute as Nana gave the man the bag. Nana made it just in time.
“Arigato gozaimasu!” she thanked as she bowed to the man.
“Next time,” he laughed with a smile, “try to make it here earlier.”
“Y-yes sir!” she replied with a firm stance.
The man jumped back onto the truck as it took off to the next stop.
Embarrassed, Nana went back inside to see that Kizami was sorting his gaming equipment.
“What are you doing now?” Nana asked with annoyance on her face.
“I have to go to the Hex Store downtown to have my Neuro Band calibrated for the Friday premier.”
“What, that game of yours you marked on the calendar?”
“Exactly!” Kizami looked determined. “It’s the next big game that will change reality forever!”
“That’s exactly what you said with all the other VR games you purchased last year.”
“I’m telling you, this is different! I’ve seen the demo testing last month. It will literally change the way we see everything.”
“Ah, that event you went to that day. I remember you wouldn’t answer your phone when I tried to tell you that it was dinner time.”
“Once again, I never got any missed call or message from you. And I know my phone wasn’t off.” Kizami looked at his watch and saw he was wasting time, “Anyway, I’ll be back. Just gotta run this errand of mine!” He then darted out of the house and into the streets.
Nana sighed, “Just don't be late to school…”
Near the city plaza, 17-year old Kazuma Yamatai was on his way to the convenience store when he was suddenly knocked down with someone.
“Dammit, that hurt!” Kazuma urked.
The boy who fell on him got up and bowed while helping Kazuma onto his feet, “Ah, I’m so sorry!”
Kazuma recognized the boy, “Jinnouchi?”
Kizami recognized Kazuma too, “Oh, Yamatai-san. I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I was just on my way to go get some groceries. What are you in a rush for?”
“Ah, I’m just heading to get my gaming stuff calibrated for the new game that’s coming out this week.”
“What,” Kazuma replied, “that Hex game you were talking about?”
“Yeah.” Kizami got an idea, “Hey, why don’t you buy it too?”
Kazuma laughed, “Sounds fun and all but I don’t have time for meaningless entertainment, Jinnouchi. It’s just a game.”
“Let me rephrase,” Kizami stated, “I wouldn’t consider it as a game in your case, Yamatai. It literally has the potential to take you to places you’ve never imagined. Believe me, I’ve seen it. You could create a reputation of your own in there. Besides, it would be nice if I had a friend to hang with me.”
Kazuma said nothing as he eyed Kizami’s Neuro Band and other accessories. Kazuma sighed, “I’ll think about it.”
“That doesn’t mean I said yes!” Kazuma snapped, “It just means I’ll give it some thought.”
“Well, try to make a decision soon. Hopefully before Friday because that’s when it comes out and you’ll need a Neuro Band set before Thursday.”
“Yeah, I got it.”
“Great!” Kizami began walking, “Well, hope to see you later, Yamatai!”
Kazuma waved and continued to the convenience store. He saw ad posters of the Hedra-Hex game alongside stores on his way. He thought about what Kizami said, your own reputation, huh?
In South Run, Serco, Maria Steinman and Aevella Tarion were having lunch at their favorite café shop, enjoying each other’s company.
“It sure is a nice day today,” Maria said as she sipped her iced mocha.
“Yeah,” Aevella agreed as she sipped her strawberry-pineapple smoothie, “it sure is.”
“Now down to business!” Maria began as she picked though her bag.
“Tada!” Maria placed a football-sized present on the table. “Happy birthday, ‘Vell!’”
Aevella gazed at the wrapped gift with awe, “Wow, thank you, Maria.”
“I wanted to be the first to tell you so! You’re 18!”
“Haha,” Aevella laughed, “I guess you’re right.”
“And,” Maria whispered, “That makes you legal now.”
Aevella flustered up and kept her distance, “N-nothing has really changed, Maria! Besides, I don’t trust anyone with that matter!”
Maria giggled, “I’m glad, Vell.”
“It would be a shame for you to change so soon and move on so quickly. Even though you have an infinite amount of freedom, I just hope you don’t forget about me.”
Aevella was stunned by her friend's response and then held Maria’s hands firmly in her own, “I’m not going anywhere. You can count on it. I promise.”
Maria smiled, “That’s music to my ears.”
The two laughed together. After a moment of awkward silence, Aevella broke the ice, “So, what did you get me?”
“Hehe,” Maria snickered, “Take a look for yourself.”
And with that, Aevella began unwrapping and tearing the gift open until a boxed electronic system was visible. She read the label, “Neuro Net system?” Aevella wondered why Maria would get her VR gaming hardware.
“Let me explain,” Maria answered, “See, I know you don’t play games or anything but I found a neat application that has a worldwide feature.” Maria handed Aevella a gift certificate that labelled Hex Grant. “You see, there is this new so-called game titled Hedra-Hex. It’s a VR program that lets you dive into a completely separate virtual place. Now, there are different playlists for the game so don’t fret. There’s a battleground server, which is where people actually do matches and games and stuff; the second server is a social lifestyle playlist where you can interact with people from all over the globe! The last server I don’t know of but that’s not important. I got you this because I thought we could dive in and meet new people from foreign countries together. I know how much you like social media and here is your chance to personally get acquainted with far-away people!”
“Maria,” Aevella said, “I can do that in real life right now.”
“True but this will save you time and energy. You don’t want to exhaust yourself, do you?”
“I guess not.”
“Don’t worry! We’ll do it together! Hey, you could even establish your own unique lifestyle for yourself. Have you ever wanted to try being someone different?”
Now that Maria mentioned it, Aevella has done things she wished she did differently in order to become someone she’d greatly influence others as.
Aevella made up her mind, “Okay. I’ll try it.”