It had been awhile since Hiraku gave The World R: 2 another spin. After the ADIA incident, which he learned about through some of his friends, he initially felt hesitant to log in again. He had two accounts on The World, one of which he abandoned due to the fame he acquired before all of the AIDA and Cubia events started. Hiraku logged in, User name: Heir of Air, Password: well... hah, you won't get that far with him.
Hiraku presently played as a Flick Reaper; he had always loved scythes, so he had decided that since he was abandoning his old account, he'd give that class a go. Hiraku was level 84 on that account; he wasn't really all that keen on making this account as much of a power horse immediately like his old account. He wanted to enjoy the challenges with what little few acquaintances he made.
When Hiraku played before, he was an active Emperor of the Sage Palace, being a level 149 player tended to help win some battles every once and awhile. The old account's name was Jikan, as it was meant to stick with him throughout his time in The World. Unfortunately, he hadn't expected the fame that came with the title Emperor. He was constantly followed, and always, just when he least expected it, Jikan was either attacked or friend requested.
Eventually he grew tired of it and threw a title match to a new rising star in the Arena in Lumina Cloth, Taihaku, an older gentleman with the skills that would have put him to the test had he been closer to his level. Instead, he never went, and Taihaku won by default. With Jikan's claim to fame no longer following him around, Hiraku was able to finally go under the radar and create Heir to Air.
On both accounts, Hiraku joined the guild named Kestrel, as it was a loosely controlled group that allowed him to do as he wished. Now, you know that Kestrel has a pretty bad reputation, what with the PKers that make up the general populace in there. As Jikan, Hiraku worked alone, but when he saw a PKer strike a low blow, he tended to eliminate the Pker instead. As Heir to Air, Hiraku mostly stayed around because the second-in-command, Kuhn, was a pretty cool guy. Not to mention that his flirty habits amused Hiraku.
Heir to Air, or as he's known by, Heir, opened his eyes and saw his first looks at The World since Alkaid joined Icolo. Jikan had merely acknowledged the new member, but it was later that day when Jikan threw away his match.
The forums always had something about the current Icolo members, and Hiraku had done some research into the current members. To his surprise, Taihaku was still the Sage Palace's Emperor. He'd probably visit the Emperor later when he had grown accustomed to the game again. Alkaid was no longer a member of Icolo, but then again, the young girl seemed too erratic to stay in for long. She needed to keep a firm grasp on what was happening, but it seemed to him she was too jittery.
Things had changed slightly in Mac Anu, the Delta Server, but it was for the better. The Chaos Gate, the image he associated The World with, was left untouched, and still had the same sprites occur whenever he used it. The keyword system was the same too, so he was able to easily transfer to see his nostalgic past in its full glory. The Omega Server, or Lumina Cloth, looked just as great, even better than before! All of the spotlights in the sky and the buildings' designs, all was improved. And there were so many members here too, all competing with each other in heated battles. He overheard a couple of fired-up PCs talking about strategy in a battle they were preparing for. Heir smiled and transferred himself to Theta Server, or otherwise known as Dol Dona.
Heir, being a Flick Reaper, was pretty thin, yet rather muscular too. He had spiky blond hair and a face that wasn't going to at least scare half the ladies away (Probably a memento from Kuhn). He wore a navy blue jacket that extended to only above his navel, sleek and shiny black slacks with green lightning-like marks running down the legs, and a thin, fingerless glove on his right hand. Most of this was made on impulse, but in the end, Heir's design was decent.
Heir slipped into the screens of data when he checked through his lists of items when a flash-mail popped up. Kain, one of his newer friends had contacted him, wanting to know if the Flick Reaper was available to party up. Kain was an oddball, sure, but he liked him. He was an Edge Punisher with blazing red hair and only a pair of armored pants that assimilated into his hairstyle's appearance. Kain was strange in the fact that he was anti-social to pretty much any other player in The World, yet to Heir he wanted company.
Heir sent a quick reply back, saying that he wouldn't join him today, but probably sometime soon. He didn't exactly feel like leveling up, even though any area six or seven levels stronger would be a good challenge. Heir cycled through his friends list, which was mostly filled with members of Kestrel. Kuhn was online, but he was busy. Gabi wasn't free either, but he wasn't expecting to hang out with the Guild Master.
Dol Dona is a forest-like town filled with beast-type NPCs, as the Theta Server, in the historical sense, was the city of the Beasts. It was the root town for the intermediate players, which Heir was. The other Server left unmentioned was the Sigma Server, Breg Epona, the root town for the strongest players.
Satisfied with his brief visit in The World, Heir prepared to log out before he received a flash mail from Kuhn. "No way, is that really you on? :) I knew I caught you at the right time, you probably didn't know about this, but I've long since left Kestrel. I made a guild called Canard, which could use some help from an experienced player-" the message read. Heir was interrupted in reading it as he was forcibly warped to a dungeon.
Heir looked side to side; he hadn't done anything that would even cause him to warp. He shut the menu off and closed the message. Whatever Kuhn wanted to say would have to wait for now. This area didn't have any enemies in it, which gave the plain an eerie aura. He tried to look up the keywords for the area, but found... corrupted words?
Heir took his twin blade weapons out, immediately suspicious of the area. A flicker of movement caught Heirs attention, but nothing was there. His hands went cold on the controller as more and more flickers of movement danced across his screen. His FMD started to glitch slightly, so he reset the piece, and put it back on. The next thing the Heir to Air saw was another player.
Something didn't seem right with this player though, his wearing corroded purple, black, and white armor. He had purple, stick-like wings protruding from his back, and his hair covered his eyes. He wasn't smiling, so whatever this guy was, he meant business. He was holding onto a black sword with a red edge, which he pointed towards Heir.
"Look, I don't know what you want from me, but you obviously have the wrong guy here," Heir said, putting his hands in the air. The strange PC didn't seem to acknowledge what he just said. "But hey, you're here too, so do you know how to get out?" Heir asked hesitantly.
"AIDA." He said, his voice coming out corrupted. The mysterious man's sword vanished as several purple panels of circuited data appeared around his wrist.
"Whoa, guy, let's take things one step at a time here, I'm just a regular player you know!" Heir said quickly, his twin blades stored away and his hands in the air. Small circlets of the same type of data wrapped around Heir's body, and suddenly he couldn't feel his controller. Heir couldn't feel anything at all on his body in the real world, to be factual. The plates extended outwards and several tendrils of data streams shot through his body. Pain flared throughout his body, which denied his logic of this being just a game. He shouldn't be feeling pain right now, but it was plain as day that his body was on fire.
The tendrils retreated from him and the pain faded away. Whatever the objective the man wanted to accomplish, he seemed to be satisfied. Heir's vision started to blur, and the man warped out of the area.
This was NOT happening, this was just a really bad... well, he didn't know what just happened, but he'd log out and sort things together in his mind. That is, until when he tried to log out, nothing happened. Heir started to panic, but his body wouldn't move to his control. His screen turned black, and he was in absolutely nothingness.
It was strange, but the pain wasn't there anymore. He considered just staying around there but a log in screen prompted his action. It was automatically set to Jikan, which wasn't the most confidence inspiring thing. But if this unable to log out situation were to continue, he admitted he'd rather be on Jikan instead. He input his password and woke up again in darkness.
This time, however, he was playing as his main account Jikan. He could see his Adept Rogue's body floating in the darkness. His long, silver hair was starting to flow wildly, and the white fabric of his clothes was doing the same. He wore white robes that were bound on his left arm and right leg and some of his upper chest by intricately inscribed, white plates of armor bearing wind wave crest, arches with a dot just below the middle of the arch. He had pronounced canines, and calm sea blue eyes. A sky crest rested directly on his forehead. When the cloth flowed out of the way, another sky crest was on his right forearm.
His current dark world began to load graphics, but it was mostly dark, and random orbs floated in random directions. Black dots jumped around the area, but eventually there was a platform for Jikan's body to drift onto. More black dots appeared as a figure started to form in front of Jikan. It took a few seconds, but then he realized that the figure was rapidly growing larger and larger, growing more beast like to the extent of growing two misshapen wings and a small, yet wide tail. It bent down and its overall shape turned into some sort of massive, cyan horned hawk.
The abnormal avian appeared to look down on Jikan, who couldn't move even if he tried. It appeared to create a perching post and clutched it with its feet. This thing… Jikan had heard rumors about things like these, but they were just those. A Pker by the name of Bordeaux had claimed to have seen a giant monster during the duration he took his leave from The World. The player said it was called AIDA, but AIDA was just supposed to be a computer virus. That, and CC Corporation had said that all of the problems had been corrected as of the end of July. It all lasted a year, from 2016 to 2017, which seemed like a long time for something like a virus to last. But if this thing was an AIDA like what the PKer claimed these things were, that means that he'd probably become the first victim with Doll's Syndrome for AIDA's second strike.
As he was mulling over these negative thoughts, the AIDA watched him comprehensively. "You hold an older model of us." The hawk AIDA stated. "In fact, the malevolent faction of AIDA as well." It added.
Jikan stared at the virus, uncertain what it meant. He couldn't have been infected as he never went comatose, and besides, he left before all of the insanity began. Jikan wasn't certain if this was a delusion or not, and he was especially hesitant to communicate with the virus. Jikan made up his mind and asked. "What do you mean?"
The AIDA seemed surprised that the human actually was willing to talk to it. "Your PC is infected with the old AIDA." The hawk paused, sensing Jikan's utter confusion. "Our presence was within the Internet for a long time, constantly growing and expanding as we watched humans. But time passed, and as we were a single entity, we are actually several beings working as one.
"As we watched, the humans became skilled in the various uses of our home, and our notice was drawn to certain human attempts to hack the Internet, and therefore causing abnormalities within. That angered several sentient AIDA that wanted to protect our home, and caused them to use force on the humans. This started over a year ago." The virus explained.
Jikan thought about what he said at the beginning. "So does that mean that… you aren't one of the AIDA that attacked all of those people? That you aren't in league with the other viruses that crippled the real world?" he asked.
"Correct. We, AIDA, were split in two. The other side wished to do more than just watch. It wanted, while protecting The World and the Internet, to continue its research into humans. We remained hidden and unobtrusive, the others attacked and experimented." AIDA grunted afterword.
"I quit the winter following the first AIDA outbreak… which means that it is possible then…" Jikan murmured.
"So tell me, why is my PC still infected? CC Corp told us that the AIDA infection… um, no offense-"
"We take none."
"-had been removed from the Internet. Why am I still infected with the malicious side then?" Jikan asked.
"You're… Your PC… had been infected with a virus that both harbored and protected it the host from outside interference." The virus stated. "After so long without much opposition, though, the AIDA, tainted by anger, thought that the effort wasn't needed, and recalled the programs from the net. Your Player Character, by that time, wasn't online anymore, and therefore, the program which both held an AIDA and its protection, wasn't alerted to the call back."
"So I have an AIDA inside of me right now?" Jikan panicked.
"Settle down. The Anna fragment within you isn't functional. It seems to have been damaged recently, and its ability to control you is no longer effective." The virus explained. "However, it is an AI regardless. It will attempt to repair itself in time." It cautioned.
"So am I just doomed to fall into the grasp of AIDA?" Jikan despaired.
"We don't think so. If… If we were to connect with the damaged AIDA inside you, we could reprogram the intentions of it." The hawk mused.
"And you're willing to do that?" Jikan asked humbly.
"We can try. I, Striatus, will reprogram the AIDA which inhabits your PC's data." The AIDA, which he now knew as Striatus pronounced.
Striatus' cyan wings burst out and stretched out, with several platforms of red and green data appearing all over its wings. A larger, cannon-like object appeared hear the chest of the hawk and links between the wings and the chest appeared. Jikan took a step back, intimidated by the show. A small red bolt appeared in the barrel of cannon and it fired. The bolt struck Jikan's body, similar to when the mysterious PC did earlier. Instead of pain, this time he felt nothing. Something seemed to be moving within him, and a bright green orb of data exited Jikan's body.
Looking closer at the orb, he saw red sparks rummaging throughout the orb. Within a second the green orb turned blue, and a large, black diamond core appeared in the center of it. The orb returned to his body, and this time the pain burned throughout Jikan's body. His PC began to reset and he was warped out of whatever dark area he was at before.
Hiraku woke up on his futon in his room awhile later. His hand instinctively touched his chest, but he couldn't put a reason to it. The older teen didn't recall going to sleep, let alone what happened after he was reading the flash-mail from Kuhn. His head pulsed with blood every second and the cause of which annoyed him.
One thing he couldn't recall was what had stopped him from reading the rest of Kuhn's short mail. He said… something about leaving Kestrel and making a new guild. The reason he had joined Kestrel with Jikan and Heir was because of Kuhn. Not wanting to seem rude to his old friend, Hiraku got up to his feet and got on his email.
The teenager checked the clock, and two hours had passed since he was last aware of what had happened; it was now 4 in the afternoon. Sorry about not responding to your short mail you sent me earlier today. Something came up, and I guess I ended up taking a nap. I'm kind of tired, so I think I'll call it quits. I'll be ready to answer your email in a few more hours. -Hiraku Masaru. He pressed send and sat for a second in his computer's chair rubbing his eyes.
Hiraku shut his computer down and rested on the futon again, rubbing his forehead. Certainly, the blank in his memory of just a couple hours ago was a cause of concern, but with his single life, and with him juggling his ever-shrinking social life, The World, and a job, stress was starting to catch up Hiraku.