After Gabriel Green a young entrepreneur wins an international computer games tournament, his world is turned upside down by a visit from a mysterious stranger.
The large hall buzzed with electrical energy, the packed crowd jostled briskly to get the best spots. The hall was well lit with silver fittings and neon flashing signs. There were 2 larger than life screens with many smaller screens surrounding them. The screens played constant adverts for upcoming releases.
Stood around everywhere it seemed, were sales people from various games companies. Some in costume, offering gifts and vouchers. It reminded me of the stock exchange but without all the screaming and shouting.
Across the tanoy rang out
"the final round will begin in 5 minuets, will competitors please return to your console".
With this the crowd shuffled more than before to get a spot to watch Gabriel.
It was my first time at anything like this so I wasn't sure about the etiquette to be honest. I was a bit out of my depth. It was my first real chance at an article for the local paper, the Boston Herald. I had sent me to cover the tournament.
"Hey buddy, Dave Strand, Boston Herald can I ask you a few questions?"
He watched the fan shug his shoulders.
"How come this Gabriel is so popular?"
his reply left him with nothing worth printing.
"Dude this guys the bomb! He's a freaking genius man"
"Great thanks, very helpful".
The large framed computer geek was obviously a Gabriel fan, it said so on his t-shirt.
"Don't you need my name?"
"No your fine, thanks anyway!"
I had to shout the last words over the claxton announcing the final was beginning. They were playing the latest game from Metaphysics INC the worlds largest corporation. It was called Lone Shark a virtual reality tactical urban combat game played simultaneously by the 8 finalist in various locations across the globe. Dave mingled with the crowd trying to get an interview.
Gabriel strutted out in to the hall. The crowd cheered. This was it 7 months of tournaments, playoffs and high score breaking all led to this moment. Gabriel was ready.
The rules of the game were simple, stay alive longer than everyone else.
Gabriel didn't seem intimidated by the swelling crowd as he came up to the podium waving and shaking hands. He was tall with thick wavy hair, his handsome looks made him very popular with the girls; that and the fact he was a multi millionaire.
By looking at him you wouldn't think he was the CEO of a very large and successful company, he wore faded jeans a Dreamscape t-shirt partly covered with a loose fitting shirt. His canvas sneakers that were worn and obviously well loved.
His company Dreamscape was as popular as Pepsi. His games were legendary and amongst this crowd he was seen as a God like character.
Gabriel was by now fully kitted out in the machine, his headset and gloves were booting up and suddenly the screens in the hall changed to the view that Gabriel had.
He (or at least his avatar) was standing in a derelict building. His first job was to survey where he was and get a weapon. Weapons were randomly placed around the game field.
Way off in the distance a large explosion drew his attention, he looked out of the window to see a smoking building. "Shit someone found a rocket launcher" he thought. In the top corner of the screen a small pop up appeared which simply read "7 players remaining". To his left he noticed a glimmer, this was how you found weapons. He sneaked to the spot only to find a cut throat razor.
"Only good for close quarter fighting"
Worth keeping just in case . Players could carry only two weapons at a time, tactical thinking was critical.
Suddenly he heard a vehicle, a 4x4 buggy raced passed the front of the building and reved off into the distance. Gabriel made his way out of the building on to the main road which was deserted. Down the other end of the street he saw another glimmer. He ducked down in front of the first burnt out car in the street, then the second. A shot rang out splintering the cars windscreen "shit". Another shot rang, missing the car completely hitting the wall behind him. He darted to the next car then quickly jumped over the wall, affording him some proper cover. A shot rang out again hitting the wall.
Ping the pop up flashed up again "6 players remaining". Gabriel waited for more shots but none came "great" he thought "someone's done the sniper".
He ran towards the glimmer and found a handgun.
"Not brilliant, but better" he thought.
A noise caught his attention he swivelled on his toes and began shooting, head shot. Ping "5 players remaining".
That was too close "I need a better weapon" the thought just bounced through his head and he darted in to an abandoned hotel. Ping "4 players remaining". Another glimmer "jackpot" a rocket launcher.
He could hear the vehicle coming back around. Gabriel set up on the first floor and drew a bead on the vehicle as it came closer, then whoosh the rocket propelled grenade shot toward the vehicle followed by a large explosion, ping " 3 players remaining".
As he had feared the explosion drew attention to his location, the two remaining players would be on their way to find him. Across the street he saw movement, he shot the launcher at the building a large explosion followed by a partial building collapse. He waited "shit" no ping. At that moment the window shattered under a spray of bullets shards of glass and wood flew around his head, he hit the floor and crawled to a door at the back of the room.
It opened to a fire escape, as he climbed down he could still hear bullets hitting the room above "good" he thought "he still thinks I'm in there". He made his way to the corner of the hotel, he could see across the road. Momentarily the assailants head popped up from behind a vehicle. Without even thinking Gabriel had fired a shot across at the car. The explosion was enormous followed closely by ping " 2 players remaining"
The excitement in the hall was hitting fever pitch Gabriel fans were now chanting in chorus "Gabriel, Gabriel"
Back in the game; Gabriel had found his last opponent, his rocket launcher was empty. Quietly he sneaked closer to the last opponent he was set up on a rooftop scoping for Gabriel. He was only feet away he drew out the cut throat he slid forward and with a quick slice the last opponent was gone. Ping "1player remaining".
The crowd cheered and shouted loudly as Gabriel came out of the machine. The tanoy announced "ladies and gentlemen we have a champion". The crowd cheered even louder as Gabriel came out on to the podium. The prize money was insignificant to him and he had offered it to charity if he won, which he knew he would.
The downside to winning was the extra publicity, he felt sure that Metaphysics INC would be on the phone making some kind of offer of employment or even another offer to buy Dreamscape again. He would never let that happen, his company was run a little different to Metaphysics INC. For starters they don't have a day each month where they smoke pot to come up with new game ideas. Gabriel couldn't understand why, his team had come up with some of their greatest ideas when they were all stoned.
As he walked down he was approached by a somber looking man.
"Gabriel, can I have a quiet word please"
"Hey fella what ever your offering I'm not interested!"
"Please just a few minutes you'll be very interested in what I have to offer".
Gabriel stopped walking and turned to look at the man. He was tall all dressed in black nothing to distinguish him.
"Are you from Metaphysics INC? I'm not really interested".
The man stared at Gabriel as if reading him.
"No I'm not from Metaphysics, they do not concern me at the moment"
"Who then? What do you want"
"Actually I work for an organisation called Q"
"I've never heard of them, are they a..." before Gabriel could finish the man cut through his question.
"You won't have heard of us no one has".
This puzzled Gabriel.
"if no one has heard of you, how do you sell your products?"
"we don't, look we need your help to save the world"
"That's a little over dramatic don't you think?"
"No not at all, I'm deadly serious!".
Gabriel was starting to get fed up with the conversation.
"Look, thanks for the offer but I'm busy...I gotta go".
The agent handed him a business card which simply read Q October 898 47219.
"You can contact me if you change your mind, when it begins".
Gabriel pondered as he walked off then he stopped turned and started to ask
"when what starts?"
But the agent was no longer there.