Luminos City, Industrial District (Dusk)
It’s been exactly one week since I got that weird e-mail and pulled into an even weirder dream. At first, I thought the mark over my eyes would be a problem, but no one’s noticed it so far. Not even Rikku. Maybe it’s something that only people who got the same message as me can notice.
Whether I’m right or wrong doesn’t matter; I’m finding out tonight.
The weather report was right about it being cold. My breath forms clouds in front of my face as I stand here in this cramped alley. The thin jacket doesn’t help one bit against the wind.
“Five more minutes.”
Another message from the unknown source showed up in my inbox yesterday. There weren’t any words. Just numbers, letters, and a countdown. Although it took some trying, I figured out what it meant.
Cold and sort of lost in thought, I didn’t even notice the other people coming out of nearby alleys. Some were checking their phones, others looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. I take out my own phone.
“Two minutes left.”
No one in the maze of alleyways looks especially fishy, but you can never be too sure. That’s why I brought my knife. The metal handle feels even colder tonight, not that I mind. No one with a sense of self preservation would go to this place alone at night and unarmed.
A chill goes up my spine. Ever since coming here, I’ve felt like someone’s been watching me. My eyes sweep the area and come up with nothing. Then someone, or rather something, catches my attention. He’s on the second floor or a building to my right. I can’t see his face at all because of the dark sunglasses, but his obnoxiously blonde hair sticks out against the darkness like a sore thumb.
No sooner after noticing him does a shock run through my body. Everyone freezes on the spot.
What happens next is almost too strange to believe. It’s like walking into a virtual reality simulator except there’s no gear or set up. Clusters of pixels start appearing all over the place until they’ve covered everything. Only the people and myself are untouched. They start to blend and flatten out, creating an overlay of the space around us.
This is just like in my dream. The sky is purple and green, no clouds at all. Do night and day even exist in place? It was dark when I got here, but now everything is well lit, albeit in a different color than normal. The so called sky above ripples like water. Various panes of glass floating above start to gather.
[StaGE Set. WElComE to LUNASEA.]
That voice calls out again as a timer appears on the make shift screen in the sky. The words battle royale and a 30 minute timer are the only things it displays.
“Battle royale round? What’s that even supposed to mean?”
Wait, what am I even supposed to do?! The other people run, where to and what for, I have no idea. In just a few minutes there’s no one left but me. Going off the message in the sky, this must some sort of free chance for people to take out their competition.
But all I have on me is my knife. I’m not planning on killing anyone! I didn’t ask to be pulled into this game!
Something howls behind me. Turning around, I spot a large thing that can only be described as a sort of hound. It’s not a real animal, that’s for sure, but its stance and jaws full of sharp teeth are enough warning.
Am I supposed to fight this thing?
Where’s everyone else?
What’s going on?
Suddenly, I’m shaking. My hands feel so clammy and useless that I barely have enough time to open the knife in my pocket. To fight or run? Which one’s the better option here?
It’s got its eyes locked right on me. Each step brings it closer, making it look even bigger and more menacing.
Run. Run. Run. Go or you’re dead meat.
It’s now or never, so I turn around and sprint. I go as fast as I can. Down one alley and into another, into a clearing, and left. Where I actually isn't important as long as that thing doesn’t get me. But it doesn’t matter how fast I run; I can feel it catching up bit by bit. Where the hell am I supposed to go?! Why isn’t there anyone else to get rid of this thing?!
Just my luck, the very last turn I take is a dead end. What am I supposed to do now? There’s no fence to climb and no side door to get out.
The monster chasing me is standing at the end of the alleyway blocking my only way out.
Damn it…. This is how I’m going to die? Mauled to death by some weird monster in this messed up place?
It pounces, and I swing the knife in front of me. It’s a desperate move, but I have no other choice. I can feel the jaws of death close in.
―But they never touch me.
Instead, there’s a yelp and then laughter. A little girl’s laughter. She’s there at the clearing I came from, wearing an expensive dress and sitting in a wheelchair.
Things just keep getting weirder and weirder. I’m confused at first about what she did, but then I see them. Large hands that are almost see through float next to her and move to pummel the monster. Each hit brings out a yelp from it and high pitched giggling from her.
“Oh…gone already. That’s wasn’t much fun. What were you chasing?”
Just when I thought one problem was over. Was I saved from one monster only to be targeted by another? Her wheelchair moves on its own and now she’s looking at me dead on.
“I’ve never seen you before, are you a new player?”
“I wonder what you can do.”
Without warning, those hands reappear and move towards me. They might be slower than the hound, but there’s still no way I can get out of here. Those hands are too big to run past.
What’s she planning on doing? I can’t let those touch me; I’m dead if they do.
There’s no time left to think about it. I can’t even move out of the way. The flying hands close in and like before I’m braced for pain, but the hands never touch me.
It’s one of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever had in my life when my body goes right through them without getting hurt.
“Hey! What’d you do just now!?”
Like any kid her age, the little girl screams. Those giant hands she’s got are stuck digging into the wall behind me. How did they even get there? The alley’s too narrow for them to get past without smashing me into the wall.
Pass…That’s what the voice in my head told me. Is that why she couldn’t grab me?
There’s not enough time in this situation; everything’s going too fast. Her hands are already coming out of the wall before I know it, and soon they’re going to take another shot.
My only chance to run is here, so I take it.
Pure survival instincts and adrenaline lead me. When the word registers in my brain, there’s that feeling again. Going forward with the knife still gripped tight in my hand I narrowly dodge her hands and slip back into the clearing.
This place looks like it’s got the same layout as the industrial district, but there’s no telling if it’s the exact same. Not that it matters because I’ve never even been in that part of Luminos until tonight. I have no clue where I’m even going.
Just run, keep on running. Even if there’s nothing chasing me now, something could show up. I have to keep moving until the timer runs out. The other people here are probably thinking the same thing. They want to avoid me just as much as I want to avoid them.
“Runnin' like that’s not gonna help ya.”
It came from above the maze, on the roof. The blonde guy from before is standing there, looking down on me from behind those sunglasses.
“I’ve been watchin’ ya this whole time.” He laughs. “For a newbie ya sure are fast, almost lost track when ya got past Charlotte.”
“Charlotte? You know that kid?”
He laughs even harder.
“Do I know her? That’s not for me to say.”
This guy pisses me off. Acting all high and mighty in a situation like this, who the hell does he think he is? For just a minute, I think that maybe, I can take him on. After all, he doesn’t like much of a threat.
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“You're lookin’ at me like ya want to cut me with that fancy knife, am I right?"
"Don’t do it. ‘Cause I’m here to help.”
A show off, that’s what he is. My point’s proven when he jumps from the roof and lands in front of me like it’s nothing. The knife I’m holding immediately points at him.
This guy’s a threat. No way am I trusting him. No one out of the goodness of their hearts just goes to help out a stranger, especially in this place, whatever it is.
“For all I know, you could be lying. Why should I trust you?”
“Hehe, smart. I like that.”
The knife I’ve been holding starts to shake when he begins walking around me in a circle.
“Didn’t I say not to try that? I don’t have Charlotte’s ghost hands, but that doesn’t mean I can’t kill ya all the same.”
That annoying laugh comes out his mouth again. Oh how I’d love to wipe the grin off his face. He stops right in front of a broken window and puts his hands in his pockets. Despite the knife I've got pointed at him, he treats this like the most unthreatening and casual situation.
"Listen up, newbie. I’d learn to use that power if I were you. Somethin’ as flexible as that doesn’t show up often.”
“What do you mean? Are you talking about what I did to get past Charlotte?”
“Bingo! That’s exactly what I’m talkin’ about! Ya pick up fast, newbie!”
Every word that comes out of his mouth pisses me off more and more. He laughs again, and disappears behind a lamppost.
“But you’re going to need to be even faster.”
What comes next could be seen as a friendly smack on my back, but the pain and force knocks me to the ground. Air is forced out of my lungs when my body hits the pavement.
I’ve had enough. Adrenaline and instincts take over when I feel my body move on its own toward him. The knife flashes before my eyes.
I don’t know what happened. One second he’s there, and the next he’s gone. Rather than stopping to even try and figure it out, I keep going. In a rage, the knife slashes over and over only to hit air.
“Hey, hey! I’m tryin’ to help, ya know!”
One last time, I try to hit him and I miss. Not that it matters, he’s against a wall now, and there’s no running away. But that grin’s still there.
“What’s so funny? I’ve got you cornered.”
Silver flashes as he lifts a long finger and points it to the sky. It’s flashing green as the space around it dissolves into black.