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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chris and Victoria begin to mingle on their way into town

Chapter 6 (v.1) - Bounty Mark

Submitted: December 23, 2018

Reads: 80

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Submitted: December 23, 2018



"So if all of this is digital, how are we able to feel the temperature outside on our skin, bleed when we are injured, eat and drink when we feel hungry or thirsty, and smell the leaves and trees during the morning fog?"



Chris kept close to Victoria on the dirt path heading back into East Town from his cabin hideout, keeping his knife equipped outside of his backpack and making frequent peripheral checks on the path behind them as they proceeded. The fog inside The FREY never completely dissipated, even though the later in the day it became, the less thick it was, but Chris came to realize that visibility was limited out to a range of about 50 yards without any kind of ocular device; he wondered if this was The Archetype's way of consolidating everyone's visibility down to the same level.


The air was moist with the smell of rain, which never fell, and the cool, tingling sensations of fog particles danced across Chris' face.


"It's hard to believe all of this is a digital construction sometimes; it looks like a landscape you'd see somewhere in Montana, or in the Midwest," Chris admitted, watching Victoria as she turned right from the dirt road onto a slightly-paved asphalt road heading into town. She didn't bother to respond, keeping herself alert, but she cut her eyes over at Chris for a split-second, and then picked up her pace.

"You've got a lot of knowledge on outdoor survival, tactical techniques and martial arts, and some bushcraft skills in your Personnel Manual, right?"

"What the hell, Victoria--did you read my entire book?!"

"I read enough to know you're not officially an agent, but you're just as skilled as one."

"What's your point? Why do you think I'm some kind of agent?"

"You named yourself 'GhostEyes', and using the name 'ghost' usually links to the organization I represent; either way, like I said before, someone on the outside looked into your file, so I know what you can do."

"Well damn, then. I don't know anything about you, really; I mean three weeks ago you were an American student at my high school, and now you're some Russian-accented undercover agent who knew about this whole thing ahead of time."

Victoria stopped in her tracks and turned towards Chris with a sharp scowl, locking her hands on her hips sharply.

"What the hell are you trying to say, GhostEyes?"

"You hacked through the statwatch like it was nothing, you've contacted the outside--nobody else has a 'log-out' option in their statwatch menu, but are you even really trapped in here with the rest of us?"

"What?! Just because I have a few skills up my sleeves doesn't mean I'm behind this whole thing, okay? I mean if you wanna go there, technically your parents worked on the project behind The FREY for months--how do I know you're not some spy for the system?"

"You read my file, Victoria!"

"I'm trapped in here just like everyone else, GhostEyes--that's part of my mission! If I fail, I die in here just like everyone else; my organization gave me enough tools to help me shut this thing down from the inside, meanwhile their technicians are stuck drilling on this from the outside! You wanted to know, so now you know--this is either a suicide mission or one hell of a gamble, but either way you and I are in the same boat, only we happen to know a little more than the rest of the Candidates in here!" Victoria asserted sharply, turning around slowly as her hands dropped to her sides. 


Chris let out a regretful sigh.


He stepped up to her and nodded, careful not to alarm her, and cleared his throat. Victoria raised an eyebrow at him and began walking again as he followed. 


"I'm sorry, Victoria--I'm not used to people knowing a lot about me if I don't know who they are."

"That's obvious, all of us are that way."

"I mean it, it wasn't fair for me to assume you're not dealing with the same stress as the rest of us."

"The only difference between you and I, Chris, is that I handle missions all the time; however, I still get nervous, and I still have my moments--we're human."

"Must be something to save the world, huh?"

Victoria turned towards him with a lesser-stern, almost-friendly expression and ran her left hand through her hair slowly.

"Once you've done it, you tell me, okay?" she jeered.

Chris chuckled, and they continued their trek for a few more minutes, heading into the foggy cloud, which surrounded them unendingly. He noticed the dew drops on leaning blades of grass, ants running alongside the road in their familiar scouting patterns to find food, and even a few grasshoppers bounding from the tall grass on both sides of the road, and then disappearing once more; the reality of the virtual world was astonishingly accurate, and Chris began to wonder how much of the detail was from the artificial design, and how much was being enhanced by his own neurological perception, thanks to the direct link The FREY had to the Candidates' minds. He felt Victoria peeking at him from his peripheral, and then she sighed, and Chris began looking ahead once again.

"Yeah, if you're not careful, you could get lost in here," Victoria replied, keeping her gaze ahead. Chris realized she was responding to his comment from before, about how realistic The FREY was.

"For me, I started each day reminding myself that if I don't wake up in my bed at home, I'm still trapped in this virtual reality; you seem a lot more accepting, comfortable--how do you maintain your sanity in all of this?"  Chris inquired directly.

"Real life doesn't have mods like the ones I have in here."

"Wait--you have mods in here? I thought Dr. Himmenson said hacking wasn't allowed in here!"

"You know, you quote Dr. Himmenson a lot--just because he said hacking wasn't allowed, doesn't mean that you can't hack if you know what you're doing; technically hacking isn't 'allowed' anywhere at all, but people still do it."

"I, mods, huh?"

"Yep, for example, night vision, reflex enhancement,--you know coding, you can make your own."

"Really? Care to share a couple?"

"I'll think about it--probably wouldn't hurt to give you reflex enhancement or something if we're going to be working together."

Chris nodded with a smirk, eying his statwatch with child-like enthusiasm as the ghostly outline of East Town finally grew visible through the fog in the mid-distance ahead. Chris likened the layout of East Town to the city of Dodge from an old television Western his parents used to watch, called Gunsmoke, where all of the buildings in the town faced towards each other in a parallel fashion, with a main road directly through the center. East Town was set up the same way, with a few stand-alone buildings directly up ahead facing towards the road, and a few smaller roads leading to motels, storefronts, and other miscellaneous buildings on both sides of the town. The buildings all looked time-worn and old-fashioned, which Chris believed was The Archetype's way of taking the virtual world back to moderately-early civilizations. Victoria slowed her step, walking alongside Chris now, which he couldn't figure out why, but as they entered the small group of seemingly-abandoned buildings making up the town, she grabbed his hand and stopped, moving in to hug him. A small group of girls in an alley up ahead on the left looked at Chris and Victoria cautiously. 


"Keep what we talked about between us, GhostEyes; slip up and say anything, and I will kill you," Victoria whispered.

© Copyright 2020 Ghost Fox the Harbinger. All rights reserved.


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