1

Jaito
Loading…loading…loading…it had been almost 15 minutes. Reformatting and reloading the OS on his portable didn't take this long - and Michael knew, because the first install crashed and corrupted his entire system.
Michael_Lin sighs a bit to himself. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
7:09 PM Jaito
Finally, after what feels like a lifetime, a pile of legal documentation and license agreements "flop' onto Michael's lap, glowing faintly in that ethereal way ARc does.
7:10 PM Michael_Lin
Michael leans back against the wall of his apartment, in the particular corner that he liked, turning through each page. Reading through it.
Jaito
<Scholarship: PASS> Most of the details are usual butt-covering details, with a few interesting permutations related to SEVERE penalties for hacking into the core software due to the financial instruments involved. National and international securities organizations monitor the game traffic…interesting.
7:14 PM Michael_Lin
Michael frowns a bit. That is interesting, but it makes sense with what he's heard of the game before. Read. Read. Turn a page.
Jaito
Finally, after interminable amounts of boilerplate, including several pages on intellectual property licensing (there's separate documents for content creation)…Michael gets a registration screen. Social network info can be pulled, or he can enter fresh data…including tying to a bank.
7:16 PM Michael_Lin
And entering fresh data. He doesn't have a social network account, unusual as that is, and hopefully it's optional to tie to a bank.
7:19 PM Jaito
Totally optional. Luckily, he already owned the software thanks to Aunt Iris.
7:19 PM Michael_Lin
He'd never have been able to afford it otherwise.
7:19 PM Jaito
There's initial loading…loading…LOOAAAAAAADING…
7:19 PM Michael_Lin
Maybe he should just go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
7:19 PM Greenling has joined the channel.
7:20 PM Jaito
And then suddenly there's a four-foot tall, puffy creature standing in Michael's lap with a jester's cap and a smile somewhere between friendly, hungry, and just plain disturbing.
7:21 PM Michael_Lin
"H-hello?"
7:21 PM Jaito
"Hee-hoo!"
7:24 PM Michael_Lin
What now?
7:25 PM Jaito
It's just…staring. And swinging its arms. Is it…is it supposed to do something?
7:25 PM Michael_Lin
A good question. Is there an instruction manual?
He likes books. It might be easier to read about this.
Jaito
Apparently not. Iris said that the game pretty much teaches itself…but this is less than help-"Are you sure you're just a human? You smell funny…I bet you taste even funnier!"
Michael_Lin
"I'm,ah, sure."
Jaito
"All right, then! If you insist…do you want to take a path to Paradise, human? I doubt you have a choice. But it's okay. I'll guide you to the starting point, hee-ho!"
7:29 PM Michael_Lin
"I'll follow you."
The creature hops off of Michael, flailing with joy. "Great! I might just make my quota, hee-ho! You can call me Jacques! And l'm supposed to ask you something…ah! Hee-ho! Do you KNO-O-OOW what's been happening?"
7:32 PM Michael_Lin
shakes his head uncertainly.
7:33 PM Jaito
"Well, it seems like the world is changing! The fairies ought to know, we've been here longer than anybody. But there were two big BOOMS!" Cue sound effects far beyond normal volume. "And then there were demons all over Japan! And I hear they've gotten all over the place. Isn't that great?!"
7:34 PM Michael_Lin
Michael tries to resist the urge to cover his ears. "T-to someone, I suppose."
7:37 PM Jaito
"It's hee-larious!" Jacques nods emphatically. "But that gives you so many chances…so many paths to walk! Isn't that EXCITING? You could work with demons like me…you could discover your TRUE SELF…you could even eat people!"
7:37 PM
"Plea-hee-eese don't eat me, though! You'll just get a knuckle sandwich!"
7:37 PM Michael_Lin
"I, um, won't eat you."
7:37 PM
"I promise."
7:43 PM
What paths were there, anyway?
7:44 PM Jaito
"The paths in front of you are…um…the word…many! You could be a Devil Summoner and work with cool guys like me-hee! Or you could look into yourself and find your TRUE SOUL!!! OR, or, or you can become a Tech Specialist and fight the Good Fight!"
7:44 PM
"oh, and there's also the Atma-corrupted. But you promised not to EAT me-hee, remember!"
7:46 PM Michael_Lin
"I do," Michael says, quietly, trying to consider. Find his true soul…no, he isn't so sure on that one.
7:48 PM Jaito
"We recommend a devil summoner for starting players, as we demons are VERY helpful. We help ourselves all the time, hee-ho! But if you need more time, you can always choose later."
7:48 PM Michael_Lin
"I'll choose later."
7:51 PM
"If that's alright." he adds, a bit hesitantly.
7:52 PM Jaito
'Great! Well, you're registered. If you'd like, you can help me and some friends of mine…or you can just dive in to the goings-on in your city! There's lots of things for even a weakling like you to do. I smell some Japanese- have you considered supporting the 1500?"
7:58 PM Michael_Lin
"I haven't thought about it."
8:00 PM Jaito
"Me, neither! But I have a cousin who's big in Japan! Very hee-roic!" He bounces a few times. "Your account is fully created. And you have a message! Just contact STARTER_JACQUES if you need anything!" And in a great wave of mist, he poofs away.
8:00 PM
"Me, neither! But I have a cousin who's big in Japan! Very hee-roic!" He bounces a few times. "Your account is fully created. And you have a message! Just contact STARTER_JACQUES if you need anything!" And in a great wave of mist, he poofs away.
8:01 PM Michael_Lin
A message? And going to check it.
8:02 PM Jaito
There's two, in fact. One from IRIS LIN…and one that looks like a garbled mess for sender and subject. Both are voice messages.
8:03 PM Michael_Lin
…checking the one from his cousin first.
8:05 PM Jaito
"Michael…I was worried you wouldn't try, but I'm glad you did. I've put a lot of work into this, and I think….well…" Her tone of voice drops, almost to a whisper. "If anyone can leave their footprint on the game, it ought to be you. Just be careful - you can't trust everyone. And…though I know you've got hard times ahead and in front of you?"
8:05 PM
"…try to have fun. I love you." END OF MESSAGE.
8:10 PM Michael_Lin
sighs a little. His cousin really did mean well, but what did she mean about 'if anyone can leave their footprint on it'?
Michael_Lin
And going to check…whatever this other one was. Probably spam or something.
Jaito
WHEN YOU ARE READY. WHEN YOU ARE IN DESPAIR…GOD SHALL COME TO YOU WITH BOTH A MIRACLE AND A BURDEN. BE READY, CHILD OF THE CREATOR. THUS SPEAKS THE METATRON.
The message deletes itself.
Michael_Lin
….the voice of God? What? What kind of game /is/ this?
8:15 PM Jaito
…that's odd. There's a faint gleaming light in the other corner of Michael's room. An AR program…but why is there something already in his home?
Michael_Lin
….That is strange. And going to very cautiously get up and walk over towards it.
Jaito
As he gets close, it coalesces into the shape of a little girl. Dark hair, bright eyes. Just…staring. "Are…are you real?"
Michael_Lin
"…sometimes I think I am." he says, his voice soft as dust.
Jaito
A glowing specter in pale blue, she reaches up a hand to touch Michael's cheek…and he feels a faint, buzzing tingle before the hand passes through. "No…you ARE real…but only in the real world. You should be real here, too…" She frowns. "But you can't hear it. Maybe…maybe someone else will save you."
She suddenly blinks and starts. "I've…I've got to go!" And like that, the ARc disappears.
…weird game.
Michael_Lin
….very strange game.
"…I don't think anyone should try to save me." he murmurs to the spot where the girl was, because there is no one here to hear him, and focuses again. What is there next?
Jaito
A whole town full of events, surprises, and instances…outside of his window, Singapore glows with AR ads, lights, and sounds…the choices can be overwhelming.
Michael_Lin
And sighing quietly and going to put his shoes on.
Jaito
As Michael heads out of the house, a screen pops up: "Do you want to switch to low-power mode to save energy? This will restrict AR displays to reflective surfaces."
Michael_Lin

8:35 PM Jaito
Many of the bright lights in the horizon disappear, with a few floating pointers showing at the periphery. However, there IS still something reflecting in Michael's window…is…is JACQUES sitting outside of it? (A real feat, depending on the height.)
8:37 PM Michael_Lin
…he isn't sure that he wants to ask questions.
8:38 PM Jaito
JACQUES hops down and out of sight, appearing again in the windows of passing cars. Michael hears a whisper. "Heeeeeeeeey-ho. I need a favor!"
8:41 PM Michael_Lin
"A favor?" Michael whispers back, his voice barely audible.
8:44 PM Jaito
"Yeaaah….some of my friends are in trouble. And…well…I think that humans might be turning them into Bufu Stones. Which is a hee-horrible way to go!"
8:46 PM Michael_Lin
nods, his avatar's long hair falling over his face. "And you want help to stop them?"
8:48 PM Jaito
"Yes, if you've got some time! And…maybe some power! And a tank, if you can spare. You see…I…er…the place is kind of DEFENDED…and worse, some OTHER friends might be making mischief! There's a….hee-ho. Wanna help?"
8:49 PM Michael_Lin
"…I can try. I'm not certain how much help I can be."
8:50 PM Jaito
"Well….as long as you can fight,we'll be fine! Take this, just in case." A display pops up. STARTER SET acquired.
8:50 PM
"Well….as long as you can fight,we'll be fine! Take this, just in case." A display pops up. STARTER SET acquired.
8:52 PM Michael_Lin
takes it. What is in it?
8:56 PM Jaito
A pair of studded boots and a buckler shield, it seems. Oddly, the boots are marked as WEAPONS.
9:00 PM Michael_Lin
Boots can be weapons, he guesses. And where to next…

9:00 PM Jaito
And with that…
9:00 PM
~ To Be Continued