Categories > Anime/Manga > .hack//Sign > The Rising of the Wave

Chapter I

by sargent_snarky 0 Reviews

Orca gives Kite a tutorial, or at least... that's how it begins.

Category: .hack//Sign - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters:  - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2006/08/16 - Updated: 2006/08/17 - 5889 words

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.hack//The Rising of the Wave
A fanfiction by Sargent Snarky

Rating: PG 13 for mild language, thematic elements, etc.

Summary: A novelization of the games. Nothing more. Nothing less. Kite is, of course, the central character.

Spoilers:Not if you take it as you play the game. If you haven't played the games and you skip to the, like, fifty seventh chapter, of COURSE there'll be spoilers, but if you just read it as you play the game or something like that, then there won't be.

Note: Although I will in many instances be taking thing directly from the games, in conversations, descriptions, et cetera I take artistic license, so it won't be exactly like the games.



Chapter I

The opening page of The World glowed in Kite's eyes and reflected off of his glasses lenses as he skimmed it. There were three options to select from: Log In, The Boards, and Log Out. Though the boards were bound to be interesting, Kite didn't want to make his friend wait, so he went ahead and clicked Log In, and in he went, after selecting the Delta server as his server to log into, of course.

0 0 0 0 0 0

Delta Sever: Root Town

Mac Anu

0 0 0 0 0 0

The first thing he saw was a black screen with a blue box stating where he was headed and a little loading bar. Once the bar was full, a brief flood of color, and then he saw in third person, his newly created character appear amid three golden rings within a cobblestone square in a teeming city.

Kite stared about in awe of the graphics, which were astoundingly realistic, and of the sheer wonder of it all. After taking a moment, also, to admire his very green character, he adjusted his headset a bit and picked up the controller. His character was a 'youth twinblade' model wearing a green hat over somewhat messy teal hair that fell into cerulean eyes. Upon each cheek was a red double triangle. Upon his body was a cream colored turtle neck covered with a green vest and tucked into brown gloves. On his back was a pack of sorts, and on his legs was a pair of green pants that puffed around the knee, where they were tied off around black socks, which were in turn tucked into boots with turned cuffs. About his waist was a belt with a loop on either side for his twin blades.

"Hey! You made it," called a nearby voice that was familiar, and yet not so.

Kite turned to see a taller man with a bare chest, half of which was blue green. The upper half of the man's face was also colored the same way, dived from the normal flesh tone with white. The color contrasted oddly with his brown hair, but it didn't clash too badly. He held an ornamented and unrealistic broadsword, rested upon one shoulder, marking him as a blademaster or a heavy blade, although the blade wasn't quite so ridiculously huge as that. Around his private parts, the man had a short skirt, but that, save for a pair of knee high boots, a cuff on each wrist and a strap across his chest, was his only clothing. He truly looked the part of a barbarian warrior.

Kite was a little taken aback. "Uh..."

The man grinned. "Hey, it's me: Orca, the Blademaster."

Recognition dawned on Kite. "Woah!" he exclaimed. "You look so different from the real Yasuhiko. Nothing like the real you."

Orca frowned. "Hey, in the game I'm Orca! Regardless of what I am in reality, I'm pretty well known here," he said in a dignified tone.

Kite chuckled a little.

"What...? Something wrong with how I look?"

"No, you look great," said Kite, adding on a keyboard :-) onto the end of his words.

Orca rolled his eyes. "Anyway, take this."

A moment later, a little message popped up in Kite's vision, asking of Kite wished to accept Orca's Member Address.

"Member Address is the Flash Mail address you can only access in The World," explained Orca. "With Flash Mail, you can exchange messages with others in real time, as long as you're in The World. It's mostly used by newbies to contact players to form a party."

Kite nodded, accepting the Member Address.

"Try it out by inviting me to join your party," said Orca. "You read the manual, right? So you know the controls?"

Kite gave him a Look.

"Hey, I was just making sure," said Orca, mock-defensively. "Anyway, open the menu and select Party. Under Add you can see a list of all the member addresses you have. Just select one you want to add to your party and then type up your mail and send it. Since you just started," he added in a playfully condescending tone, "you probably only have my member address. Poor, Kite... he's a lonely soul."

Kite rolled his eyes and sent the mail.

A moment later, Orca said, "Ah, got it! 'Wilt thou humble thyself to joineh my party, O Orca-sensei?' Ha ha." Orca accepted the Join Party request. "It's kinda weird mailing each other when we're fact to face. :-) Anyway, my name ought to appear under your screen. That means I'm in your party. Oh! By the way, Flash Mail is only available in Root Towns. And you can't contact people when they're not logged in. People do have lives, you know. We're not online 24/7! In other words, don't always count on the same members to form a party. So, try to get as many Addresses as you can. You'll have more fun that way."

"Yes, O Orca-sensei," Kite said in a drone.

Orca pointedly ignored him. "Well, how you play is up to you, but since EXP and stuff isn't divided among party members, you really don't benefit if you go solo."

"Whatever you say, O Orca-sensei."

"... Ok... Well, why don't we head off? There's nothing to worry about. I found a perfect place for newbies!" Orca then pointed, with his sword, to a twirling golden hoop that held a filmy blue portal within it. "This is the Chaos Gate, a sort of transfer device that takes us from one place to another. Put your target over it and select it. In The World, each play zone's called an Area, and it's determined by three Keywords. Selecting New Keyword will take you to the Keyword Screen. At the top is the Entry Plate. You put three keywords in one by one for each part, A B and C. You can get them either from the list on the lower left, or from reading emails, the Board, and from other players. Sometimes you get special ones by completing events.

"Anyway, you can select these three from the list, or just say them allowed, and it records them. Bursting, Passed Over, Aqua Field. Oh! One more thing. You see the symbol next to the keywords? That's the Greek letter for whichever server you're in. This happens to be Delta. The stuff on the bottom right is the Area Status List, and the shiny jewel things indicate which keyword takes precedence over certain area status things and whatnot, but you can just read about that in your user manual or on the board, 'cause it's pretty boring to explain."

"It is, sensei? I wouldn't possibly think anything could be boring," said Kite.

"Oh, shut up, Kite. Just select Warp so we can get going to Delta, Bursting Passed Over Aqua Field."

Kite did so, and the pair disappeared amid three golden, rune engraven rings.

0 0 0 0 0 0

Delta, Bursting Passed Over Aqua Field

0 0 0 0 0 0

The field they materialized into was basically a huge flat grassy plain. Some random stone claws or fangs curved out from the ground, and there were random bits of castle scattered about as well as, for some inexplicable reason, some wells. The detail was, while not as great or varied as Mac Anu, still astounding.

The sky overhead was a beautiful blue, with small puffy clouds rolling by on occasion, moved by a light breeze that rustled the grass beneath the low background music. The occasional generic hawk wheeled overhead in a fixed, never ending pattern. Kite was, nevertheless, a little awed by the wide expanse; the field was more impressive than he'd thought, given the screenshots he'd seen.

Orca interrupted his friend's contemplations of the local panorama with the comment, "Before we get going anywhere, you'll need to know about Camera Control."

Kite listened as Orca briefly explained the controls, then finished with, "And so, basically, if you're like most newbies and don't use the camera, you'll be dead before you know it. Cheers!"

Kite lifted an eyebrow. "What a happy thought."

Orca grinned. "Anyway, practice with it a bit. I just told you the controls. And remember, when the battle starts, constantly adjust your camera so you can see what the heck you're fighting."

"Yes, O Orca-sensei," said Kite.

"All righty," continued Orca as if his friend had not spoken. He gestured to the field at large. "Moving along... this here is the Field. It's the lowest level in the area, and it's where the easiest monsters generally are. It's also the only place from which you can return to town. To do so, open the menu and select Gate Out. There's a bunch of different field types, which can be set with different keywords... but I'll let you figure all of that out on your own. The area's also have elements, which are determined by field type and weather, and the monsters that appear coincide with those elements. And the items you'll find, too."

Kite sighed and asked, "Please say there isn't a quiz next period?"

Orca laughed, a fiendish gleam in his eyes. "No, but you'll be expected to have all the controls and the elements memorized by class tomorrow."

"Ok." Kite then began to sing: "There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium, and hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and - What?" Kite broke off his singing as Orca started to edge away, a look of bemused horror on his face. (1)

"That was very scary, Kite," said Orca. "Please never do that again."

Kite grinned. "Sorry... I learned the song from an old CD of my uncle's."

"Uh-huh. Anyway... Let's get going! Oh, wait... look at the map in the top right corner of your screen. You see the red down arrow? That's the entrance to the dungeon. We'll be going there soon. In its deepest level, there's a Gott Statue that usually holds a rare item or two. The goal, basically, is to reach this statue and take whatever's in it. However, enemies are often tougher in the dungeon, so gain some levels above before you head below."

"So, how do I gain these levels, then?"

"You fight monsters, of course!"

"... What monsters?"

"Well, you see that golden portal over there? Monsters are found inside those, and if you get close enough to them, the monsters come out. Although, sometimes treasure chests pop out instead. There is a backstory as to why the monsters are in the portals, but I won't bore you with a World history lesson. Wait a moment... here..." Orca used an item called a Fairy's Orb.

Kite glanced up at the map, after receiving the message that fairies were investigating the map, and saw that yellow markers of the portals had appeared.

"By using one of these," Orca explained, "hidden data on the map becomes visible, see? The yellow markers are portals, as I'm sure you can figure out."

"Uh-huh."

"I'm boring you again, aren't I?" Orca once more grinned. "All right, let's go pick a fight! Head for that portal."

The pair of them ran towards the nearest portal, then halted as it flashed and, with a twitch, faded away, leaving behind a Goblin. The Goblin was a little grey creature that, well, looked like a goblin. This one had a small curved sword in its right hand, and it twittered where it stood, making 'gobby' noises. Kite's cursor fixed upon the Goblin and turned red, while the Goblin's abbreviated stats appeared in the upper left portion of his screen.

"What do I do now?" asked Kite, stepping away from the Goblin as it made a clumsy swipe towards the twin blade.

"Attack it. Since the target cursor is red, now, you can attack it," said Orca, then continuing with a few words on which button to press.

"Ok," said Kite as he commenced his offensive on the Goblin, which squeaked and made rather poor attempts to defend itself. Still, since Kite himself was low level, the Goblin was able to avoid a few of the blows.

After several more hits, the Goblin's HP was reduced to nothing, and Kite looked almost surprised that he'd done it. After a moment, he looked to Orca. "Hey! I beat it:-)"

"You've started to get the hang of it, yes," said Orca.

"Yeah," said Kite, tone a little uncertain, as he noted a mischievous gleam in Orca's eyes. "It's not that hard... Oh dear, what is it?"

"Hm? Oh... nothing," said Orca, his tone the paradigm of innocence. "Anyway, let's try using skills. Open the menu and select Skills."

"Ok."

"Choose Repth; it's under recovery. Repth is your basic healing spell."

Kite did so and selected himself as the target, as the Goblin had gotten once slice in, knocking him down a few HP. His character avatar automatically made gestures in the air and a glowing white, circular symbol flashed briefly above his head, while a white circular glow also flickered beneath his feet. Then, soft whitish sparkles and a little bit of light surrounded him for a moment as he was healed.

"That's it," said Orca. "Pretty easy, huh? You can target party members for recovery and remedy skills, and the enemy for attack skills. And you can only apply skills to targets within your view. Again cometh the camera use."

Kite nodded with an audible sigh.

Orca chuckled. "Heh. Well, you must be sick of me at this point."

"Maaaybe."

"Tough. Anyway, keep in mind that, if you've got party members, you can always ask them to do something. Whether or not we do depends on whether or not we acknowledge you as the party leader and have respect for you. Or if what you're asking seems sensible. I mean, if you tell them to cast water spells on a Water tolerant critter, well, they're not going to."

"Ok then," said Kite, smirking. "Heal me, O Orca-sensei!"

Orca rolled his eyes. "Fine," he said. "Even though you're already healed and don't need any healing, I'll be nice." Orca then cast a spell called La Repth. "It's good to be the boss, isn't it? Don't let it go to your head, though, newbie. Ah well... By the way," he added after the spell healed them both a bit. "You can also activate many of your spells and skills by voice. You have to speak clearly, of course, but once you get to know the skills better, it's pretty darn useful. Anyway... that's it for now. I'll follow you for the moment... just do whatever. Get used to the controls, fight the other enemies on the field, and head to the dungeon when you're ready."

"Do you really need to tell me what to do all the time?"

"Of course! I'm your elder."

"Only by four and a half months."

"So? It's enough."

Kite sighed again and turned, running towards the nearest portal. From this one came another goblin. Kite immediately attacked it this time. As fitting with his defensive stats, his character avatar moved to block one or two blows. Once Kite had defeated it - with Orca watching the whole time - the twin blade turned to his friend.

"Aren't you going to help me?"

"Mm... Probably not for a little while."

"Why?" asked Kite, frowning.

"Because I'm at such a high level compared to this realm that I could kill it in one stroke"

"Oh. Um... What's this pool, here? I can target it, and it says that there's something strange about the pool - would I like to throw something in?"

"It's a Spring of Myst. Throw a weapon or piece of armor in there, and this creepy tear drop shaped monster comes out and asks you if you've lost a golden or a silver axe. Say neither, and you'll get the weapon or piece of armor back, but depending on the time of day, the weather, and all of that stuff, it'll either go up or down in level and change name. You don't have any spare armor yet, so there's no point, really."

Kite nodded and turned his eyes back to the rest of the field. He had just started towards the next golden portal when a soft twang sounded to his right, and from the corner of his vision, he saw something dancing. Stopping, the twin blade turned to face a... mandragora?

"Orca, what is that thing?" he asked, pointing with a blade. "The cursor says it's a Mandragora. But, is that an enemy or a plant or what?"

"It's Grunty Food," explained Orca. "You can read about Grunties on the Board. Just collect them for now by selecting them and pressing the confirm button. They'll automatically be put in your inventory."

"If you say so," said Kite, a little dubiously. After he selected the Mandragora, which kept repeating its name as it bounced and twanged, it vanished from the screen and the background music continued, uninterrupted by the noise some plant... thing.

The pair went on to the next portal, but Orca was the one to kill the Goblin, and he did indeed kill it in one move.

"I told you I would," said Orca.

"I never said you wouldn't!" protested Kite.

"But you were thinking it, weren't you?"

"Um..."

They then continued on to the final of four portals, and, upon killing the goblin contained therein, Kite received a message stating that all Field Portals were cleared.

"There were only four portals in this entire field?" he asked, lifting his eyebrows. "Shouldn't there be more? I mean, this is a pretty big area..."

"I told you," said Orca, starting towards the dungeon, his arms hooked over the flat of his blade, which rested on the back of his shoulders. "This is a newbie area. Think of it as a tutorial place. It's not going to be that difficult. Anyway, let's go into the dungeon, shall we?"

The blademaster lead his twin blade companion over to a low stone building with a single entrance. This entrance consisted entirely of stairs leading down into an impenetrable darkness. There were, oddly enough, however, two yellow spotty sort of flames, one floating on either side of said entrance.

Kite poked one with his blade, and nothing happened. "Why are these yellow things here?"

"Hell if I know... just go down the stairs," answered Orca.

And so down the stairs they went.

Their screens blacked out for a moment, with nothing save a loading message at the bottom, but it was barely a second of time before they found themselves in a gloomy stone dungeon. The walls were a dark blue grey, with a few faint designs painted here and there, as well as guttering torches spaced at intervals along the wall. The background music was quiet and sinister, and Kite only noticed it because it was a contrast to the livelier tune of the field.

"Now we can start exploring the dungeon," exclaimed Orca. "Remember, though, you can't Gat Out in a dungeon. You've got to go back to the field, instead. You can use a Sprite Ocarina to warp to the surface from anywhere in the dungeon, but you can't use it during a battle."

Kite yawned. "Oh now... not more lecturing from Orca-sensei."

"Oh, shut up." Orca then pointed to a yellow tan chest that was sitting not far off. "This is the Treasure box, but you knew that, right:-)"

Kite gave him a deadpan look.

Orca laughed. "Just making sure. There are two types of these. Normal and booby-trapped. This one's yellow, so it's normal, but the other colored ones are booby-trapped. Since this one's normal, just go ahead and open it."

Kite did so, and the box disappeared, right after opening. The twin blade received a Resurrect. Orca led him to another box and pointed to it.

"This one's blue, so it's booby-trapped. Try to open it, and you're screwed. Just use the Fortune Wire on it. This'll disarm the trap. And Fortune Wires are the cheapest thing under the digital sun, so you ought never to worry about not having one. Here... I'll use one." A light flash appeared around the box, and it changed colors to the tannish yellow. "Open it."

"Yes, mother," said Kite as he opened it and received a Gale Breath.

"I could just leave you here, you know, n00b."

"But you wouldn't, of course. Hey, what's a Gale Breath?"

"It's a magic scroll. It lets you cast magic spells without using SP or having equipment with a specific spell."

"Cool."

The pair then went through the door into the next room. A couple steps in, Kite paused, looking around warily. He couldn't place it, but he knew something wasn't right. And then, a few steps later, the background music stopped, and they heard a bang. At the far end of the hall was a T intersection, and suddenly a pale girl dressed in a shimmering white dress and with white hair floated across it speedily. She paused for barely half a moment, turning her head to look at Orca and Kite before speeding on.

Close behind her followed a strange and fell creature. It was difficult to describe, but it appeared to be of man shape, but made of sections of rock with stylized eyes on several parts of its body besides the head, which didn't seem to have any. It also floated without touching the ground. But the thing that stood out the most was its crimson staff. Coming to a point on one end, the blood red staff ended on the top with a large circle, like the eye of a needle, but with a random bit slashing across it in one 'corner.' This monster didn't seem to care that Kite and Orca were there.

And then, as quick as they had come, the monster and girl were gone, disappeared. A few seconds later, the background music returned. Kite frowned and Orca looked quite worried.

"What the-?" the blademaster exploded, turning to Kite. "Did you see that?"

"Yeah," said Kite, slowly. "Was that thing chasing her...?"

"Seems so," Orca said, nodding and turning his gaze back to the now empty hall ahead. In a softer voice, he continued, "But a thing like that...? On this level...?"

"Huh?" Kite was a bit confused and now his friend's worry was catching. "What's wrong?"

"Hmm? Oh... uh.. nothing. Nothing to worry about."

"Uh-huh." Kite sounded unconvinced.

"Look, I'll tell you later," said Orca. "Let's just finish the dungeon."

"Ok..." Kite still didn't sound quite mollified.

Orca remained silent as they ran down the hallway to the intersection, and he kept glancing around, not exactly nervously, but not exactly calmly either. Since the girl and the thing had headed from left to right, Kite turned right, and Orca followed. They went through the door at that end into another room that held... nothing. Nothing except a treasure chest.

'It's a dead end,' thought Kite, now more confused than before. 'That girl...'

Orca said nothing.

Kite queried, "Orca?"

"Mm... Just get the treasure chest, and let's move on."

Kite did as he was bid. "Hm.. A Speed Charm. Does that just speed you up?"

"Yeah." Orca said no more; he seemed distracted, but Kite put it off to him being just as confused about the enigmatic girl and monster as he himself was.

They went back into the T hallway and to the left side of the intersection. Just before they went through the door, before, a though occurred to Orca, and he stopped Kite.

"Wait," he said. "You should know that you can use Fairy's Orbs in dungeons, too, but there's not much point if you're just wandering around, because the map forms as you go, and the Fairies only show you the level you're on. You have to use a new orb for each level. However, if you're only there on a quest for the Gott statue or something, it can be useful for plotting the quickest route."

"Ok."

And with that, the pair entered the next room. Two steps in and a metal gate slammed shut over both doors. Kite started and crouched down.

"Better watch out," exclaimed Orca. "We're trapped in here!"

"Wha-?"

Orca suddenly started laughing. "Don't take it so seriously. It's pretty normal. In the dungeons, there are rooms with traps everywhere. The only to get out of most of them is by activating all the magic portals in the room and killing the enemies."

"All right then..."

"Let's go!" Orca lunged for the portal, and it dissolved to reveal another Goblin. It was easily dispatched. And so they moved on to the next room.

And this next room proved to be the staircase down a level.

"How many levels are in this dungeon?" asked Kite.

"Two, I think," answered Orca as they went down.

An even briefer loading time than before, and then they were in a small empty room with a staircase behind them. Therefore, they went into the next room, which was a giant cross. So, when they reached the middle, they went left first.

"Another portal?" said Kite as they were trapped in this one with more monsters. "They're everywhere."

"Yup. Get used to it."

This time, though, instead of a solitary goblin, there were two monsters, including a type Kite hadn't seen before. (which was to be expected, considering that this was his first field and dungeon ever) He made a comment to that effect and Orca snorted, killing the Goblin Mage, which was the new monster, with ease.

"It's a Goblin Mage. And I've encountered up to five or six monsters in one portal before. Only finding one monster on higher levels is rare, you know."

After Kite dispatched the Goblin and collected the treasure, they went back to the cross and took the room directly across from their current position. In that room there was yet another portal.

"Oh, that's nice," said Kite, as only a treasure chest was left behind by the portal.

"Yup. That's what happens when you get lucky," said Orca.

"And all of the dungeon portals are clear. So that means no more monsters."

"Right. So, let's go get the Gott Statue booty!"

So they left that room and took the only branch of the cross they had yet to travel upon. It lead them, conveniently, right into the chamber with the Gott statue. Kite stared at the statue with bemused wonder. The stone figure seemed to be a spiky haired demon holding a sword, which did seem a bit odd, but not so terribly out of place. Around the statue, which was floating above a relatively shallow pit, there was a golden ring, rather like one of the rings around a portal, carved with runes.

"And this is the room we've been waiting for; the Gott Statue room. There's only one of them at the dungeon's deepest level, and you can get rare items from it." Orca sighed, and Kite heard him crack some of his joints (probably stretching) through the microphone. "That's enough adventure for now, no? Go ahead and grab the treasure and we'll get back to town."

"All right. Don't you want some?"

"Nah. You're the newbie. If we had a Sprite Ocarina, we could warp out of here, but we don't, so we must backtrack."

"You only mind because you're lazy."

"True, but besides the point. A lot of the dungeons are really boring and rather monotonous after you've cleared out the treasure and monsters."

"Yum... monotony," said Kite, referring to an incident some years ago in which Orca had, for varying reasons, said that same phrase. It need not be recounted here, as it was one of those 'in the moment' things that would make little sense anywhere else.

"Oh, shut up and get your booty."

Kite opened the chest and received Steel Blades, a Grunt Doll and Yellow Candy. The golden ring around the statue disappeared, and the statue fell to the bottom of the pit, no longer needed as a guardian now that its treasure was gone.

"What did you get?" asked Orca.

"Steel Blades, Grunt Doll and Yellow Candy."

"Well, equip the blades, as they're better than your newbie weapons, and you can sell or trade the doll and candy. Otherwise, they're useless."

Kite wasn't exactly paying attention, for he had moved to the edge of the pit and looked over. "Does that always happen?"

"Yes," said Orca. "Let's go, already. I want you to meet some of my online buddies... slowpoke."

"Sorry," said Kite. "I've not played a video game in a while, and it's not like I've ever played this one before."

And with that, they left the room, heading back down the cross. As soon as they reached the center, where the four branches converged, there was a thud and static flashed across their screens.

"What the-?"

"What's happening?"

The two players gazed around in fear and worry as the dungeon dissolved around them, leaving them upon a strange island made of dirt and raw data, floating in a void with other segments of the same weird turf floating in the air here and there. The pair were just getting oriented again, from the burst of static and abrupt transition when the ground rippled and was tinted with colors. The white girl appeared at the source of the ripple, alone this time, and she gazed at them with large light blue eyes.

"Or... was the rumor true?" Orca breathed.

The girl floated close to them. "Take this," she said, a large book of some kind appearing in outstretched hands, whose skin was milky white.

"Huh?" Orca stared at it, unsure.

"Please take this," said the girl, her voice holding a desperate, pleading note, despite its surface calm. "There is no time. Take this please."

"What is it?"

"A great force. The power it holds can bring forth salvation or destruction at the whim of the user."

Orca took the book, and it vanished. "You're-" he began, but broke off just as quickly.

A sudden fear grew in the girl's eyes and she backed away. "It's coming!" she cried, a final warning before vanishing before their eyes.

At the same instant, the air nearby rippled in the same manner as before, and the floating creature of before appeared, red wand first. Kite stared at it, held by some unknown fear he couldn't place.

Orca, sounding truly anxious, cried to Kite, as the blademaster ran forward to attack the creature, "Run! It'll kill you!"

But Kite did not run. Where was there to go? Instead, he stared wide-eyed, the controller shaking in his sweaty hands, at the monstrosity and at his friend who attacked it. Again and again Orca struck at the creature, but to no avail. None of his hits or techniques even registered as having hit, and the creature began to block them with its staff.

"The hell?" he cried. "What is this?" A moment later, voice brimming with frustration, he shouted, "There's something wrong... nothing works!"

The creature apparently grew weary of the game, for it struck out with its staff, sending Orca sliding backwards. A strange transparent polygonal orb appeared around Orca and shattered. A moment later, Orca's arms and legs were jerked out straight, and he gasped in horror as his digital body was lifted up, pinned to the crimson wand, though not actually touching it.

The creature lifted up one of its arms, taloned fingers outstretched, and palm towards Orca. A strange light blue ring of polygons, a strange ornate bracelet, with occasional other colors flickering in it, too, materialized around the monster's wrist. It rotated a little, and then a larger ring of prongs sticking out, yet angled and kinked towards Orca appeared as well, as if unfolding. A moment later, and occurring almost instantaneously (rather like lightening) from each of the prongs shot forth many rays, both of pure color and light and of data code streaming towards Orca. The strands crossed together just in front of Orca, as though a lense were there, focusing the beams before they scattered again into Orca and going straight through.

There was a quick flash, a hint of something being broken, and, with a scream of pain from Orca... no, from Yasuhiko, that moment was frozen in time. It was frozen into Kite's memory as well. Then, the beams retracted into the bracelet, and it folded. Orca crumpled to the ground, unable to move a muscle, and the staff disappeared only to reappear in the creature's claws.

Orca, lying upon the ground, unmoving, somehow gasped out, "No... I... It wasn't supposed to be this way..." His eyes, half open and focused upon nothing, twitched towards Kite. "I'm sorry! Get out of here!"

An incomplete orb made from polygons and random swirls of light closed about him, and with a shattering sound, Orca faded to grey and was gone. But the shining bok remained where Orca had been. Before the creature could move to get it, however, the book vanished. Kite could do nothing but stare at where his friend had been for a moment, but his eyes were inexorably drawn to the monstrosity.

The creature didn't even bother to physically attack Kite. Instead, it lifted its arm, and the bracelet began to form upon it once more. Kite, eyes wide and expression twisted with shock and fear, slowly lifted his arms before his face in some vague, vain attempt at protecting himself. However, the creature never got an opportunity to do to Kite what it had done to Orca, for a short white staff suddenly rocketed from above into the ground. A shockwave pulsed from the top, and the monster recoiled. If it had a voice, it would have undoubtedly cursed. But it did not, so instead, it turned away. Kite was enveloped in a digital sphere not dissimilar from the one that had surrounded Orca before he vanished. Only this orb did not signal his destruction.

The last thing the boy saw before he was pulled into unconsciousness were the words System Error flashing across his view in stark red letters.

0 0 0 0 0 0

Kite's digital body lay in a realm of digital scraps, of pieces of coding merged together in a hodgepodge of styles and appearances. The body did not move and could have been dead for all one could tell by looking at it. However, the Woman in White, who watched from her perch in the sky, knew he was alive. Absently fingering her short white staff, she watched as the shining book the girl had earlier given to Orca floated gently down from the sky and dropped into Kite's own inventory. How... interesting...
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