"I needed someone to test the time machine I made. And the first person I thought of was you. So do you want to explore the mysterious past everyone reminisces about?"
The "Genius" as media calls him or the Mad scientist as people call him or Just Idiot as I call him had a very lucrative offer for me. We have been friends for over 6 years. Our common interest in Science Fiction helped our friendship transcend the boundaries of age.
Let me introduce myself before we get into the exciting adventure of time travel. I a 4 years old no name orphan was wandering the streets of Santa Crux when I met him, the person who would change my life. He was my father not because we shared DNA but because he decided to weather the storms for me. Just like a father would for his son.
3 years later I was his legally adopted son. Rajas Shiromani, Son of Sarvesh Shiromani.
"Dad why are we going to Poringsa?"
I was wondering why we were boarding a plane in wee hours of morning leaving behind everything I knew to go to a foreign city thousands of miles away.
"Because I got an amazing job offer to
develop a Virtual Reality game"
My dad replied while ruffling my hair. I had never seen him so happy before. He was a game designer but his talent was never noticed. So when he received an offer last month to work for Fantasy-Builders Inc, he was over the moon.
Few hours later our plane landed in the beautiful city island of Poringsa. This City once used to be part of mainland of continent but stubborn few nations who refused to even accept the problem of Global warming caused several surrounding cities to go underwater. Even though those nations are long buried in annals of history but massive memorial for "Land that was Lost" reminds people to not repeat same mistakes again.
Four years passed in a blink of an eye since me and my dad arrived in Poringsa. Beta testing for the VRMMORPG was about to open. My Dad was invited as a representative of Game Designers team to test out the VR rooms developed by Gaming Nations Group specially for Myths Galore.
VR helmets although compact were more of think and what you think might happen type. They couldn't fully bring out the potential of real world actions in game. On the other hand VR rooms needed user to perform the actions they wanted their character to perform in game.
VR rooms also had a special feature. Playing in VR rooms, players had a chance to trigger Lethal strike, meaning strike which would ignore HP bar and kill opponent whether monster or player instantly. For example if players PKing are both using VR rooms any strike through heart or brain would be Insta Kill.
"Sarvesh... You are here and before time too... Guess you are excited to see your own work."
After the exuberant greeting the man's attention turned towards something peeking at him from behind Sarvesh.
"And who this young lad might be?"
Naturally the young lad in question was me who was intimidated by the hulking figure of project manager responsible for today's demonstration. He seemed to be in his 40's and and with his dark chocolate brown skin he lived up to his name of Chris Huge.
"Hello Chris. This is my son Rajas. He was adamant about seeing his father's work. So had to bring him along. I hope you don't mind"
"No Problem Sarvesh. No problem at all. In fact he can accompany my son Beck in the testing room. Beck turns 21 today but he is grounded for tampering with gaming pods for Royal road. He is Science nerd but just doesn't want to use his brain the right way."
Chris rambled on about various achievements or mischiefs of his son. My dad listened to him with polite smile on his face, not interrupting once. Seems like this is normal occurrence between them. Finally Chris realised that he was rambling and with apologetic smile he went to find Beck.
Soon he came back with lanky guy about 6 ft tall in a tow. He introduced him to me as his son Beck. This was my first meeting with the "Genius". Even though he had not started shining he was already on the right track. We went to the testing room after bidding good bye to our dads. We chatted about which gadget from science fiction would you like to have and which one of them was feasible to be made with current tech. My fascination for time travel was at peak then. And I answered him so.
" Within next decade I will make a Time Travelling Machine" This was Beck's bold claim.
"You are an Idiot" This was my response.
"What are the terms?"
"When you travel back in time, You have to speak the truth to first person you meet for one whole day"
"Agreed and I will call you idiot till you send me back in time"
"No fair you can't call me idiot before I even lose the bet"
"You are idiot for even making the bet"
Being the elder Beck had to concede for time being for fear of making me cry. Guess he has met some evil 11 year olds but good for me.
While we were chatting the demonstration was in full swing. Data bases were being uploaded with suggestion of experts who helped create the in game skills. Dad was pretty happy with the outcome. In VR rooms you could even feel the breeze blowing against your body, smell the fresh flowery aroma and also movement calibration was at 99.8%. Some movements for eyeballs were work under progress but they would be completed soon. Auditory sounds were all realistic. The VR rooms were ready for beta testing.
A year of beta testing later, game would be available on all platforms like gaming helmets, Gaming pods and VR rooms. A hundred and twenty five thousand VR rooms were made across the world in over 290 cities. For the target population of players across the world which was about 2 billions, this was just a drop in bucket. Masters of various crafts were given free reign to test functionalities of their professions in game for first 3 months. After expiry they would have to follow the Game's quest and rules to gather materials at the same time gauging the difficulty level of quests. Massive preparation had gone into making this game. And my Dad was proud team leader of team responsible for one whole main story line meant for Archers.
Soon after the demo was over Chris came to fetch us. He led us to one of the VR rooms. My dad was also waiting there. He led us into the room to connect us to the system. It was my turn first. Excited about finally playing the game my dad worked so hard on, I rushed through all the tutorials and warnings and rushed out safe zone into the groves. A class was randomly generated for me which coincidentally was Archer. I a fool who knew nothing about games was just wandering about in the grove when I stepped into a wild boars aggro range. As the boar came charging towards me I panicked and froze like a deer in headlights.
The boar's tusk skewered through me and a large 178 in red appeared over my head. I guess Chris had forgot to turn the Gore scenes setting off but when I saw blood coming out of my chest from the point the tusk entered me, it had scarred me for life. I started panicking and shouting. Dad sensing something was off, he came in and switched off the power expelling me out of game. Then he comforted me.
But that idiot Beck when he realised what had happened he guffawed so hard he had stitches in his ribs. Well Chris arrived just in time to see this and grounded him for another month. Serves that Idiot right.
But this incident made me swear off from "Myths Galore". For the next few months even the mention of game gave me creeps but I adjusted as years passed. I got over my fear of blood and gore but still I was away from Myths Galore. Reason being another Game designer's family member had used his relationship with Game designer to illegally gain some advantages in game.
Even though the AI was monitoring everything and generating and upgrading world inside Myths Galore everyday, but trigger points to some important quests and locations of Items weren't changed. Hence game designers had unfair advantage if they decided to play. So Fantasy Builders Inc had put a contract in place to prevent Game designers from playing professionally. More like they were not even on the same server as other players. After the misuse of Game designers knowledge was exposed another clause putting more stringent restrictions on Game designer's family members were added.
If you couldn't compete with other players what's the point of playing. Hence Rajas had completely given up on Myths galore.
2 years later me and the Idiot Beck met once again. This time he was buying some odd electronic parts while I was there to redeem my Smart watch. We chatted again and he remembered the scene from our first meeting and guffawed again. Me who had already left behind those embarrassing memories was not so eager to have them resurface due to him.
"I am long past those days. I am no longer afraid of any bloody or gory scenes."
"Oh really then how about a challenge?"
"I will show you some of the worst scenes of torture in history let's see how you stand those."
I regretted my words. He started with Heretics fork and by the time we reached Judas Cradle I was nauseated. I can say he was one sick bast*rd. But well he did stop idiotically challenging me later. And hence over the period of six years our friendship strengthened.
Everything was going fine until now. I had got a Girlfriend in my Senior High School. I was very happy with how things were. But I was missing my Home town.
"Dad why don't we visit our home once in a while?"
"Home is where we are Rajas. Any place where you and me are together is home."
Dad smiled cheekily. Even though I was happy I knew he was dodging the question.
"Dad I miss our home in Santa Crux. Why don't we visit there?"
"As you wish Rajas. We'll go as soon as your winter vacations start"
3 days ago, I, my Girlfriend Shirin and Dad were on a Train ride to our home town, Santa Crux. I stepped out at the station to get some fresh air and buy some snacks for dad and Shirin.
The sound of Bomb blast and laser firings were coming from the direction of Train we were on. I rushed over to see what happened. Only to see distressed crowd fleeing in all directions. Train was on fire and the compartment we were in was nowhere to be seen. Six people wearing masks were shooting at anyone that took their fancy laughing maniacally.
"Die atheists. You believe Science can save your lives. Fools! God is almighty he can give you life and take it away at the same time."
Their leader was preaching like this was supposed to be some kind of Sermon.
My blood boiled as it hit me that I might never see Dad and Shirin again. I was in suicidal rage. These bastards had taken my most precious people from me. They had to pay. Just as I was about to charge into fray and kill them and also possibly myself, the terrorists began falling like flies. The Station Sentries were here. Giant holes burnt through their chest as within seconds all six of them were on ground. But that Maniac grin was still plastered on their face. As my rage cooled down I howled like a wounded wolf, mourning the loss of only people who gave me unconditional love.
I was blaming myself. If not for my wish to travel to our hometown this never would have happened. If only we had delayed. If only I had taken them with me when I went outside. Thousands of reasons to blame myself but not one voice of sanity. With heavy heart I reached to Shirin's family to give them the sad news. But the blame was once again on me. Dad's colleagues gave their condolences but they all felt fake.
These past 2 days felt like sky had fallen on me. And I wasn't strong enough.
In those murky days filled with grief I received a phone call. It was not I am sorry for your loss. Neither was it blaming me for what happened. It wasn't even comforting me.