The school bell rang, signing the end of school for that day. Jessica, a blonde girl with bright orange eyes, was walking towards the entrance of school. A brown-haired girl named Hanna rushed over to her with a boy strolling from behind.
“Jessy, wait up!” the brunette called.
Turning around, she smiled. “Hanna, Aliff. What is the matter?” she asked.
“My parents actually want to treat you two to lunch today,” Hanna explained.
“Lunch?” the girl muttered, blinking in confusion.
“To celebrate our end of UPSR,” Aliff replied, sighing.
Jessica smiled. “I don’t mind. My parents knew your parents so they would understand if I come home late,” she accepted the offer.
“Alright!” Hanna shouted happily.
Her parents’ car arrived at the gate. Aliff and Jessica were pushed into the backseat without their consent. Hanna hopped in after them. Her parents smiled at her two best friends. They nodded their head as a greeting. They sat quietly after that.
“Results will be out in a month,” Hanna announced.
“My, my, you sure are excited,” her father said.
“Well, yeah. It’s a chance to proof I’m better than Aliff!” Hanna replied, giggling.
Jessica giggled at her actions. Aliff snorted angrily. He looked out through the window. Hanna kept on chitchatting with her mother. The boy heaved a sigh at how energetic she was. They arrived at the mall. Hanna’s parents took them to Kids’ Palace, a place where children can enjoy their meal and watch shows they requested. Hanna and her best friends love to go there.
“What do you want to watch today?” the waiter asked them.
“Leoman!!” Hanna said excitedly.
“What she said,” Aliff replied to the waiter.
The waiter nodded and escorted them to their table. The two adults ordered the food while the three children started to watch the show. Hanna started to sing the opening of Leoman and his Cat Friends. Jessica chuckled at the sight. Aliff sighed again, ignoring the girls as he watched the show.
“By the way, my sister’s company just developed a new game,” Jessica spoke up.
“A new game?” Hanna turned to Jessica, eyes sparkled in excitement.
“Oh, yeah. That game that was released just when we were about to start our exam,” Aliff spoke up.
“Would you like to go hunt for it after this?” Hanna’s mother asked.
“Yes, please!” her daughter said and the other two kids nodded.
The parents nodded to their child’s request. After lunch, they headed to the game section of the mall, Gamers’ Road. Hanna ran around with Jessica and Aliff trailing behind her. They looked around for new games and new gadgets for them to use. They finally stumbled upon the game they were searching for. The box is quite large and the title is written at the front. Not much exposure was given on the box. It was not that attractive and looked duller than the other games. Hanna’s face didn’t light up upon seeing the boxing.
“Would you like that game?” the person in charge asked.
“Do you an example of the gameplay?” Aliff asked.
“Hmm, not really. This game is a bit complicated. It’s a augmented-reality type of game, a full dive maybe. You have to log in to play and if we do that here, the person logged in would have to buy it,” the person in charge explained.
“Has it been selling well?” Jessica asked, concerned.
The cashier came over and said, “Nope. Most parents don’t prefer their children to play. The boxing is not eye-catching and not much trailers were released along with it.”
“The title is very interesting, though. Are they making chapters?” Hanna asked.
“Not so sure,” the cashier replied, smiling, “But if you buy it, we’ll be giving a discount but you have to show us you playing and we would like the first few videos as well.”
Hanna turned to her parents and asked, “Can I?”
“Would you like to try here now?” the mother asked.
Her daughter nodded with determined eyes. The father said he would go and pay. Aliff and Jessica stood beside Hanna as she opened the box. A tab, a black cuboid and a pair of wristlets came out. Hanna tapped the tab on. A hologram screen popped up.
‘Welcome to Victoria Tales. Please type in your name to begin.’
Hanna did as told. She typed in her nickname for gaming. The screen faded to a new screen. It started to scan the girl’s face. Aliff and Jessica watched, full of anticipation.
‘Thank you for your interest to play this game, Moonfire. We have setup your account.’
Three buttons were revealed: blue, red, green.
‘Choose blue to create your device. Choose red to create your avatar. Choose green to begin.’
Aliff blinked, getting interested. Hanna’s parents noticed the change in his eyes. They bought one for him as well. Jessica already told them that her sister had given one for her for free but she hasn’t start playing yet. Hanna shut the device down.
‘Thank you for playing. We await your return.’
Hanna scrolled the tab for guidance on the game. Once logged in and put on the wristlets, game will commence anywhere she goes. She stared at the black cuboid in her hand.
“Here you go, Aliff,” Hanna’s father said, handing him a box of the game as well.
Aliff faintly blushed and said, “Thank you very much, Sir.”
“You don’t have to be so formal,” Hanna nudged him.
“It won’t be fun without you…” Jessica spoke up.
He nodded, avoiding eye contacts with the girls. “I have to get going home.”
“Would you like to get a take-away for dinner? Your Mom doesn’t have to cook,” Hanna suggested.
“Let’s all get a take-away,” her mother decided.
Jessica and Aliff were dropped off at their houses respectively. Then, the family headed home. The babysitter was just about to leave. Hanna’s mother paid her and handed her dinner for the day. The twins greeted their eldest sister. Hanna picked Afiqah up as Afiq clung around her neck.
“Now, now, you’re going to hurt Big Sis,” the mother said.
Hanna went to the bedroom. She took a bath and put on her pyjamas. She was on virtual call with Jessica immediately after dinner. They were excited about the new game.
“My sister had logged in and chosen my device for me,” Jessica explained.
“Oh! What’s your device, Jessy?” Hanna asked, full of interest.
Jessica showed the earring on her right ear. A simple love shaped amethyst was seen dangling on it. Hanna’s eyes sparkled upon seeing it.
“It suites you,” she said.
“Thanks. My sister is really good at choosing for me after all,” Jessica chuckled nervously.
Jessica and Hanna got an incoming call. Aliff’s hologram screen popped in beside Jessica’s. He raised his right hand as greeting. Hanna grabbed her hoodie and put it on to cover her arms. Jessica waved her right hand as a greeting. He showed them his device, a pair or rings with green gems. He wore them on each of his middle finger.
Groaning, Hanna said, “I’m the only one with no device yet!”
“You’re always simple minded. I don’t understand why you can’t create your device yet,” Aliff remarked teasingly.
“I want something light, easy to bring around, not too girly,” Hanna muttered.
“Why not we meet up tomorrow and get you a device of your choice,” Jessica suggested.
“I just want to get it over with and start playing the game,” the brunette mumbled.
They ended their conversation with a ‘good night’. Hanna switched on her holo-tab. She scanned for accessories and practical devices to get ideas on what to choose. Her purple eyes landed on a star-shaped strap. She suddenly had an idea.
Aliff switched on his tab. He sighed, staring at his device. He went downstairs to check up on his mother. The woman was busy washing the dishes. He offered to help.
“Hanna’s family has been really kind, buying you that game and all,” his mother said.
“Yeah. Once I’ve reached my goal, I’ll repay them for sure,” he replied.
The mother caressed his head lovingly. “You’re such a strong child. I wish I could do more as a mother.”
Aliff held his mother’s hand in his. He gazed into her eyes. “You’ve done plenty. It’s my turn to repay you,” he muttered.
The mother nodded. He escorted her to the bedroom. As she lied down, Aliff waited for her to fall asleep. He caught sight of a letter beside her bed lamp. It was addressed to him. He had been offered a scholarship to a science school. He glanced up at his mother. He put the letter back to where it was placed.
“Good night, Mom,” he whispered, exiting the room.
Hanna, Jessica and Aliff met up at the park. They chose a spot to sit down. All of them brought their tab with them. They tapped on at the same time.
‘Welcome back, Moonfire/Blaze/Aqua. Please log in to begin.’
“They know our name but we still need to log in,” Aliff sighed.
“Yeah…but, Blaze?” Hanna turned to Aliff.
“I like the name. It sounds cool…well, Jessica is staying with Aqua,” the boy rolled his eyes.
“It shows how calm she is,” Hanna backed her up.
“Let’s just log in and create our avatars,” Jessica cut their tongue fights.
Aliff and Hanna huffed. They turned to their screens and keyed in their nicknames. The blue button was darkened. The red button lit up in front of them. They pressed it together. A few pictures were seen and the middle on is blank with only the outline of a human.
‘Choose your race, weapon and features.’
Jessica pressed a few pictures and pulled them to the middle part of the human outline. Her human outline started to show a silhouette of long hair, a flower crown, a long vest and a skirt. She started to colour them and grabbed a weapon of her choice. Hanna and Aliff nodded to her, satisfied with her choice.
‘Aqua, you are a Fairy Healer. A healer supports her team and use offensive magic when in a pinch. You may choose an add-on weapon to protect you for close-range attacks.’
Aliff started on his screen once Jessica was done. The girls waited patiently for his choice. He grabbed a pair knuckles as his main weapon. He pressed the red button once he was done.
‘Blaze, you are a Human Vanguard. A vanguard covers his team and is always in frontline. You may choose two types of add-on weapons.’
Aliff and Jessica turned to Hanna who was acting all nervous.
“You’re up,” he said.
“Here goes,” Hanna grinned.
She started to pull a few pictures of her choice. She chose guns as her main weapon.
’Moonfire, you are Cyborg Hunter. A hunter specializes in long range attack and since cyborg is your race, you have a wide add-on weapon to choose from.”
“We’re all ready to go,” Hanna said, turning to her two best friends.
“We have to set up the trial level first so that no one detects us,” Aliff reminded them.
They waited for Aliff to set them up. Once everything was ready, they took out their devices and put on their wristlets. To activate, they had to press a small button on the gems. As they did, a virtual goggle was set up. Their chosen armours were set up. The field changes into a vast field with low level monster walking around.
‘Welcome to Victorian Land. Your trial begins here. Your mission for this trial level is to rise up to at least level 10 to proceed with PvP. Good luck and have fun!’
“Wait, what about our tabs and wristlets?” Hanna asked.
“The wristlets were automatically put on when we activated…and apparently, the goggles we’re wearing are our tabs,” Aliff said, scrolling in their FAQ page.
“Neat! Your sister’s company is so going to get good rating from me!” Hanna remarked to Jessica.
Jessica nodded. She pulled out her keyboard and started typing some words. “Now we have to keep our promise to that game shop.”
A small holographic camera was activated. It stuck close to Jessica as if it was her little pet. She patted it a few times. It started to record the whole area.
“That’s Jessy for you,” Hanna praised her.
“Let’s start with the smaller monsters. Wolves look good,” Aliff said.
“Okay! You’re up first, I’ll cover and Aqua here can practise on her booster spells,” the brown haired said.
The two nodded. Aliff hopped a few times before rushing in towards a pack of wolves. The wolves growled when they caught sight of him. He smiled punching one of them. Hanna came in with her guns. She shot their legs to paralyze them. Jessica casted a defensive spell to boost them up. The wolves bit them but they did not get any scratches. Even the HP was only affected a bit.
“Aqua’s gotten use to her spells already,” Hanna said as she shot another wolf.
“Yeah,” Aliff replied, punching another one before slitting its throat with a small knife.
The wolves disintegrated into thin air once defeated. Jessica received her points from booster magic and support magic. They moved in to a stronger type of monster. Hanna aimed for the airborne types and Aliff focused his attacks on the ones on land. Jessica supported them and attacked her choice of monsters as well to build up points.
‘Moonfire, Level 5.’
‘Blaze, Level 5.’
‘Aqua, Level 5.’
“Alright!” Hanna cheered.
“I think that should be all for today,” Aliff spoke up.
“I’ll send these videos out to the shop,” Jessica said, tapping on her keyboard.
They deactivated their devices. Their tabs were back in their hands. It was already evening when they were about done.
“Big Sis!” Afiq’s voice was heard.
Hanna turned around to see her twin siblings and Jenny, Jessica’s sister. The two kids ran up to their sister. Jenny took her time to reach them. Hanna cuddled Afiqah in her arms again. Afiq held on to her right arms.
“Did you have fun?” she asked them.
Nodding, Hanna replied, “Yeah, we did!”
“The field is very simple for a trial,” Aliff remarked.
“You haven’t seen nothing yet,” Jenny winked, looking proud at her company’s production.