Author's Note: I do not own Worm or The Gamer. This fic contains mature language and situations (as one might expect from Worm).
The Most Dangerous Gamer - Prologue
Jacob crouched down in the back of the van. It was pitch black with no sunlight, the armored plates that replaced the windows made sure of that. The smell was awful. The large creature next to him breathed in and out. It was the only sound he could hear. His own breathing was shallow. He needed to focus. *Clink* He tilted his head. Yes. It was starting. The faint clinking sound that he'd just heard was soon replaced with screams.
Jack Slash flung open the doors to the van. Crawler gingerly stepped out behind him. Once the massive creature was outside, he quit being concerned about breaking things. The black six legged dinosaur-like beast shook itself like a huge dog. It then bounded towards the arcade. Jack resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Why bother being so careful with their ride? The van was a temporary thing. Mannequin's improvements consisted solely of swapping out the glass in the back for metal plates. The same couldn't be said for it's front.
Not that the van still couldn't drive, but who wanted to deal with the glass shards? Besides, it had acidic drool in the back. That couldn't be good.
Jack unfolded a straight razor and began to whistle. He casually trailed the other member of the Slaughterhouse Nine. The ceramic-covered tinker stepped out of the van behind him. The two approached the now demolished wall of the arcade their target was in.
The boring wait was over. Now it was time for some fun!
Well, as much fun as could be found in a one-horse town like this. Really, a single gas station, a Dairy Queen, a dollar store, and the now wrecked arcade - that seemed to be all this town had to offer. From his research, Brooke's Creek, Texas had been in an economic slump for decades. The oil wells had dried up, and the oil equipment plant had closed its doors years ago. Still, there was a 2-a school, so that'd be good for some entertainment later.
If Bonesaw left any of them alive by the time he got there.
Still, he was in a good mood. Clay Price was an up-and-coming Tinker. One that had recently made some impressive Virtual Reality tech. An escape from the real world, where you could experience things in such vivid detail that you couldn't tell the difference. Clay was about to go public. Renovate the town. Make millions of dollars while improving the lives of countless people.
We couldn't have that, could we? Alan especially couldn't. The encapsulated Tinker didn't say much, didn't say anything really, but he seemed eager. Jack glanced at his companion as they strolled through the wrecked wall of the building. Clay pressed all his buttons. Rogue? Check. Tinker? Check. Using his ability to both make money and 'improve' the world? Check.
The shattered glass of a half-dozen arcade games crunched under his feet. Three kids lay bleeding on the ground, while an older, slightly obese man was slumped over in the back office. The pair moved to the only adult.
"This is a real shit-hole, you know?" He casually addressed the bleeding Tinker. "I mean, how many square feet is this?" Jack looked around. "I've been in bigger shacks."
"Wha-What do you want?" The portly parahuman blinked at him. Blood was pouring down his face from multiple wounds. Must make seeing a bitch.
"Why you of course." Jack smiled and flipped his razor into the air, catching as it fell. "We're here to offer you a position in our little organization." He leaned forward to whisper in the injured man's ear. "It's the Slaughterhouse Nine, not the Slaughterhouse Eight. We need pick up someone new."
"What?" The man's confusion was palatable. "What could I even do? I'm a nobody. I made a video game for God's sake!"
"Don't sell yourself short." Jack smiled. "From what we hear, you could create an interface that keeps people in any kind of situation."
The leader of the Slaughterhouse Nine's grin grew larger. "Think about it. They could be tortured in ways not physically possible. Feel pain that would normally cause them black out! Have realities within realities! They could escape one, only to figure out they never left! We could make our own brand of Simurgh bombs! People so convinced they're still in a game! Just waiting for the other shoe to drop! Never really believing they're out! Just imagine what even a few hundred of them would do in a place like Houston. Even Eidolon might not be able to handle it!" Jack couldn't help himself, he burst out laughing.
Beside him, Mannequin shifted forward. A chained arm shot out, its hand wrapped around Clay's throat.
"So, what do you say?"
"What? I could never..." The bloody Tinker's sentence was cut-off as Jack casually flicked his wrist. A new streak of red appeared on the fat man's belly.
"Now, I'd reconsider if I were you. You don't really have much of a choice. Let me show you what will happen to you otherwise. Ned, if you'd be so kind."
A deep chuckle came out of the largest member of the Nine. The Adaptive Regenerator had gotten on board after Jack suggested the VR might cause his brain to adapt in new and interesting ways. "Eenie... meenie... miney... mo!" Crawler's front right leg pulped one of the teenagers on the ground.
"Stop, please!" Clay shouted.
"Why?" Crawler asked as he licked the girl who had just started laughing uncontrollably. Her hysterical laughter turned to screams as the beast's acidic saliva started dissolving her alive. "One last chance." He moved over to the final teen.
Jack felt a pressure. Something was coming. Something huge, powerful... familiar somehow... He blacked out.
Jack came to. "Ugh. That was just like Bonesaw..." He sat up with a shock. Could it be? It'd be simple to tell, there was only person around who could've triggered. The boy.
The teenager in question was sitting with his back against an old game cabinet. His eyes shifted back and forth, over and over. He then blinked, and softly said. "Shit."
Jack smiled. "Oh, this is going to be fun. Come on Clay. Time to watch something even better."
The boy took in a deep breath and stood up. He wore a jacket, despite it being summer in Texas. Blood caked his face. His pants were also shredded and covered in blood, yet he stood up with no effort. A Brute? He looked around the ruins dispassionately. Interesting. Jack got a sense of apathy.
"Hey. Is that invitation open to me too?"