I don't own CCS, but I do own the story in this fic and things that are non-CCS related. All the name of places, historical events and other things mentioned, which you don't seem to know IRL, are products of my imagination. Any similarities with the actual thing is purely coincidental.
This chapter was successfully edited/proofread (11/22/2006).
This is a very long chapter. I am trying to make up from the previous short one. Enjoy.
From Previous Chapter:
"Do not worry yourself, lad." His voice croaked as he tried to suppress a cough. "I will not die. Not yet. I've sworn to myself that I shall accomplish it." The old man said, looking up at the stars as it slowly appeared in the dark sky. "Like these stars I see every night. Like how they turn-up...one by one..." He said with perseverance; pointing one thin finger up "...step by step...I shall. Ever since that day my brother told me the truth...just before he died."
The young man could only look at the old man. He admired his dedication and sense of duty. But inside him, he knew that when the time comes...he...himself...would be left with a huge chunk of his being gone.
"If you say so." He finally spoke. Despite of everything, he could not place what he really want to say into words. He wore his glasses back on and started to walk away with the same casual face. He was about to turn towards the park's exit when the old man called after him.
Chapter Five: The Ultimate Patch
Sakura flopped down the hotel's queen-sized bed. It was almost midnight and she was very tired. The fashion show took longer to finish than expected. There was still an after event party at one of the hotels shindig halls, but Sakura couldn't bare to dance nor to eat nor to socialize any further. All she wanted to do now was to sleep. Still wearing her stylish satin dress, Sakura closed her eyes slowly. Flat on her back, she was very grateful with the room's soundproof walls. Aside from the shindig hall, the whole island was still very alive. Parties from every corner was still being held.
"They would probably go on till morning," Sakura whispered, letting herself be drowned in the inviting softness of the mattress.
The hotel room assigned to her was not as big as her room back in the Kinomoto mansion. But its desirability was not affected by its size but with its exotic aura. Fantasy illuminates even in the shade of the night as aztec walls flourished with vine-like ornaments beckoned the room. The bed was supported by four stone-like posts adorned with white orchids and carnelias. The ceiling fan above rotates in a lullaby together with sprinkles of fragrant herbs. At the side, two sliding glass doors were evident. It lead to a balcony overlooking the island's white sandy beach and deep blue ocean.
Normally, Sakura would have slide the doors of the balcony open to let tropical air into the room. But unfortunately, the noise below was too loud that she had chosen to just shut it and turn the aircondition on. Much to her relief, the room had proven to be quite solemn and peaceful when casted away from the parties below. Now she could finally catch up with sleep. George had already unpacked her luggage and had taken care of every tiniest detail that there was nothing left for her to do. She reminded herself to thank her dear butler in the morning. He even brought her laptop, knowing that she had always used it.
Her laptop. Sakura's eyes flung open.
'...it is of grave importance that you read my private message. A-S-A-P.'
Damaski-is' SMS rang inside her head. Sakura turned sideways to look at the machine resting on top of her bedside table.
'...of grave importance...'
She groaned. Damaski-is had been keeping her up for nights now. There had been a tournament inside InterVEST and Damaski-is, as usual, had been giving her a very hard time.
No. She thought and closed her eyes once more. Enough with all that for now. I need to get some sleep. Let him be. That's his problem.
Sakura's forehead creased in a frown inspite of closed eyes.
'...This goes way beyond our rivarly...'
She twisted, face down to the mattress and buried her head under the pillows.
'... shall define both OUR FUTURE in InterVEST...'
"I know what I'll do." She murmured beneath the covers, eyes still closed. "I'll think of Yukito instead." She desperately tried to think of her special moments with Yukito that day. Unfortunately, George's pale ghostly face kept popping out of nowhere with his banana headset. Sakura ended hugging the covers more.
'...read my private message...'
She slowly opened one eye and peered at her small silver laptop resting invitingly on the table. Time seems to pass as she laid unmoving. An ancient looking clock on the wall ticked, indicating a quarter after midnight.
-- tick --
Sakura's eyes were both opened now as she dazed more intensely on the machine.
-- tick --
-- tick --
-- tick --
"Wai!" Sakura finally said, jumping out of the covers. "I can't take this anymore." She exclaimed as she reached for her laptop and placed it on her bed. She didn't even bother to turn the lights on. Instead, she hurriedly flipped the laptop open.
"I'm so weak." Teary-eyed Sakura said to herself as she waited for the OS to load.
Syaoran rested on a wooden chair near his pool with eyes closed. One hand dangles on the side clutching his cellphone. He had lost track of time as he battled within him on whether or not to send Agatha another message. It had been morning when he sent the last one. Now, it was already night time and he had not gotten any reply from her. Most of the time, Agatha replied promptly. But this time it was taking a while. He wondered if she had read his private message already and perhaps thought he was insane and decided not to communicate with him anymore.
"That is very unlikely." Syaoran said to himself as his flipped his eyes open. "Not with her character." He continued to stare out at the sky above him.
Stars spread like glittering pieces of a broken glass at the clear dark sky. Cold air blows softly, lightly rustling his plain white shirt and loose khakis. Syaoran was at his condo unit. One hundred stories above ground, it was one of the highest building in the city. And he, Li Syaoran, got the priviledge of owning its penthouse. The unit was vast and has its own rooftop pool which now sparkled beneath the light rays of the moon.
His hair ws still damp from swimming earlier. He could not sleep so he decided to go for a dip in the pool. After that, he changed clothes to go to bed but sleep still would not come. Anticipation was killing him as he thinks of what Agatha shall answer. Finally, he decided to go out and sit on his lounge chair to pass time. Inside he knows he was waiting too patiently. But he was too proud to send out another message to her. It would look like he was relying with her that much. He wouldn't have his InterVEST rival to think such a thing.
Syaoran turned his head towards the tall glass doors of his penthouse. Inside, only the light from his flat screen computer could be seen. The rest of the unit was dark and impersonal...like him.
Many people often called him as such. In their eyes, he was no more than another brutal businessman which shall destroy any livelihood they got online. Very few people will defy Damaski-is inside InterVEST.
Syaoran turned his head back to stare out at the night sky once more. He was a game veteran. He had spent years building up his reputation and income. He wouldn't care less of what people will say as long as he got what he wanted. Everything was a breeze...until one day...a rogue character showed up. A very feisty character named Agatha. She was either too brave or too stupid to stand up against a veteran player like him. Nevertheless, he was amazed at how Agatha was able to build her networks, assets and stats in matter of months. Weeks even. Most beginners would observe or go to starter quests. But Agatha...she jumped in ahead to places beginners shouldn't be in. Luck seemed to be on her side as she always ended up alive in each risky task. Hence, she earned bulks of experience points.
He tightened his grip to his phone which almost turned his knuckles white.
"Damn it. What's taking her so long." He muttered under his breath.
Sakura was staring at her laptop. She had finally logged on InterVEST...in invisible mode. George also played online since he was also her assistant with the things she did inside InterVEST. Eventhough she was not a full player, her massive assets were hard to manage alone. Hence, convincing George to log on as well. Somehow she felt that it was best to keep her online status not known from him. Recalling the conversation they had that morning, she could just predict what George was going to think if he found out that despite of her tired self, she managed to go online just to read Damaski-is' message.To be honest, she was feeling quite guilty sneaking like this. May it be from George or from Yukito.
Yukito. She wondered if he'll get mad if he found out that she was talking to another man. Then, she shook her head as if to erase the thought.
"It's not like I'm cheating on someone," Sakura said out loud. "This is just something online. This is just a game." She pointed out to herself.
She inhaled a deeply as her mailbox came to view.
'You have 10 new messages in your inbox.'
Sakura opened her inbox. Most of the messages were regarding bids and assets. She skipped them to find the message which she really needed to read.
'Subject: InterVEST is getting ambitious, we should as well.
She clicked the link and waited for it to load on her screen.
I know this is uncalled for, but I would like to share something I just found out. It has something to do with the new InterVEST patch the admins were planning for a long time. Yours truly has gotten first hand information about it and would like to share this to you. You might be thinking why I am telling this now. Me of all people. But realizing the bulk and potential of the patch, I think it is best that we BOTH look into it. I am talking here as a businessman ...and this is another deal. I know that you are not that thrilled to do business with me, but considering this massive issue...I am not blind to see who I can cooperate with in this matter, for both you and I had established our own domes inside InterVEST.
The matter at hand is too important to be discussed through private messages. I would like to request that you and I talk in a private chat channel in Ilgoin, south of Mandana. We could talk in a secluded pond at the far end of the meadow. I don't think people will be roaming around. Give me a buzz and I will be there in less than five minutes.
I would not like chance to pass us by...so I am risking it in meeting you in a friendly environment...unarmed.
P.S. Don't you dare bring your torch blower. I come in peace.'
Sakura couldn't help but to smile a little at the comment about her torch blower. It was a something she ended up using against him when she miscalculated her real weapon's ammo. Heck, it was able to burn something so why not use it as a weapon? It was unorthodox for her, but nevertheless her character survived that ordeal with Damaski-is by utilizing it.
She once again looked at the screen and re-read everything from top to bottom. The new InterVEST patch? Was that real? For all this time it was just a rumor that the developers and admins were planning to do something grand with InterVEST. Another first for an online game. But she also heard that it was too ambitious to be done. As for its details, she had no clue. But now, Damaski-is wanted to tell her about it.
"Is there such a patch? Or he is bluffing?" Sakura asked out loud. For all she knew it could be a trap. Again, Sakura found herself weighing to decide the course of action she needed to do. Once again, Damaski-is was giving her a hard time. May it be a friendly attempt or not. She sighed and dropped down sideways on the mattress, her eyes still fixed on the screen.
"He sounded okay...should I...or should I not?"
Sakura pulled herself into a sitting position. Will she risk it? Logic told her that it was not wise to meet that private with the Damaski-is. But somewhere inside her guts, she felt excited and curious. IF the patch was indeed true, what were its contents? Was it really that massive? And why does Damakaski-is willing to deal with her? Was it really worth it? It was rare for a full player like him to come strike one with a rogue like her. Petty trades were common but 'deals' were another thing.
There were three kinds of players in InterVEST; Full players, half players and rogues. Full players were people who walks inside InterVEST who could do dealings inside it and it will be valid in real life. Their identities may or may not be known by other people but being a full player you need to be registered officially in InTerVEST using your real name. Only game admins has this record and were strictly confidential. You get your own bank account in real life that was connected within the game. Meaning you could transfer real game money to its equivalent IRL. Its either that or you could find clients within the game that would very much deal with you IRL. They also have the high playing fee due to this.
Half players were also people registered with the game admin's knowledge of real life identities but were only 50 involved with the real life legality priviledges. They paid half of the fee full players pay.
Rogues were people who could play the game for free. InterVEST admins do not care of their real life identities due to the fact that they were not entitled to the real life legality rule. They were just there to enjoy InterVEST as a game and help in building up the economy and social community. And also another attribute was that, they do not have last names in the game. Only full players and half players were allowed to have full names. Damaski-is' first name was Helroi, but she doesn't think anyone ever calls him that.
InterVEST, indeed, was another world and Sakura became addicted to its fantasy and sense of being who you wanted to be without anyone restraining you. She felt free. Free from rumors...free from angst...free from the dangers of the real world.
Sakura gave out a sigh and clutched the edge of her toes as she crossed her legs to bent over her laptop. She typed hurriedly on its keyboard and sent it out. Moments after, she finally clicked 'Enter the World' button.
She was a rogue after all. She has nothing to loose.
Syaoran woke up in a jolt at the sound of a loud buzz. He realized that he had fallen asleep. He straightened himself up and checked the time in his cell phone which he had unconsciously dropped at the ground. Thankful that it was still in one piece, he read the time. It was almost two. He was glad that he woke up cause if not, he would have gotten a cold in the morning if he stayed out there sleeping.
Another realization hit him. He woke up...no...he was waken up...by a buzzing sound.
He quickly glanced at his computer's screen inside. From afar he could still see the large lighting alert.
'ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
You've received an ALERT from Agatha.'
Syaoran stumbled to his feet. His left leg hit a picnic table near the lounge chair. He muttered a curse under his breath and limped towards his computer. He clicked the red blinking sign as he sat on a cushioned steel seat. Unlike his massive executive desk in the office, this particular one was just a small modern table. Actually, his whole condo was interiorly designed using modern pieces in both art and furniture. It was also equipped with the most hi-tech gadgets and devices since he was after all, running an IT company.
He read the message in the Alert.
'Ilgoin it is.'
Syaoran took a deep breath. "Here we go."
Sakura was laying flat on her stomach on top of her bed. The silk pink nightgown she changed into was slightly disarranged as one leg swings up and down at the back. She was now using her character, 'Agatha', as she strolled about Ilgoin county. She clicked her mouse to indicate Agatha's destination. There were five major cities in InterVEST. The rest were small villages. Ilgoin happened to be one of those remote and poor villages. People rarely came here. The truth was, she doesn't know why the county was there in the first place. Not a single quest even utilizes the county. No businessman would even bother to come here as well since the place has no natural resources at all.
"A very good place to be for people who don't want to be found." Sakura told herself.
Her character, Agatha reached the said pond. Sakura rotated the camera view, there was no one there. She was half relieved. The thing was, she was actually nervous. She doesn't know what to expect from Damaski-is. She was glad that no one could see her right now. If she was to meet someone like him in real life, she wouldn't know how to react. But inside InterVEST, her character looked cool and collected. She wondered if she could be like that in real life under same circumstances.
Sakura let her character sit down on top of a rock by the pond; legs tucked under her. Her eyes surveyed the 3D world before her. There were barely trees around as rocks and mountains beckons. She couldn't help but praise the likeness of the things inside the world of InterVEST to the ones in real life. The view in Ilgoin county was not that good in the eyes since the place was more often deserted and dusty. But still, to be able to produce such an effect was truly amazing. Even the tiniest detail as to how the short green shrubs moves due to the wind was evident. The water in the pond which laid still sometimes got disturbed by sudden movement of a small fish. Although one could not literally feel the game using the sense of touch, your eyes made it seemed real that you could almost taste it.
Sakura took her eyes off her laptop's screen and looked at the clock in her hotel room. Damaski-is said that she would only buzz and he would be there in less than five minutes. She did just that and wondered if he would really come. Inside InterVEST, it was only sunset. The retreating sun was casting shadows in the mountains and hills nearby. But in real life, it was already two in the morning. Who would be up in this wee hour? Aside from her that was. But nevertheless, she decided to wait.
But for five minutes. Just five minutes.
Syaoran was already logged in InterVEST even before Agatha had sent her Alert. It was easy for him to teleport his character, 'Damaski-is', towards the remote county of Ilgoin. Inside he was both excited and anxious. This was the first time he would ever chat to Agatha in a friendly manner.
The surround sound system he got in his condo now vibrated the sound effects inside the world of InterVEST. He led his character to the said spot. As he drew near he saw her. Agatha was sitting on top of a large rock on the pond; her fair legs tucked beneath her. She was one of those players, who like him, had the luxury in modifying their characters to their heart's content. Only elites could do this in InterVEST. Again, there were very few rogue players that had accomplished this status. His eyes were full of admiration as his character approached the girl.
Agatha turned her head towards his character. Her vibrant blue eyes looks at him as he stepped nearer. Her copper hair braided in two in front of her chest. She was wearing a hooded short cloak and short brown leather skirt which showed her smooth legs. A fitted leather-like armor protected her body yet does not compensate the curves that she has.
A few feet away, he noticed that she doesn't have her usual set of weapons with her. Syaoran leaned back in his chair smiling. At least she trusted him with that.
It was a start.
Sakura's heart almost jumped out of her throat as she recognized the approaching character. Damaski-is' form became evident. His long velvet hair was tied in a neat ponytail at the back. His tall lean body was covered with protectors. His armored booths make cracking sounds as it crushed small stones below. Sakura studied the man and was relieved to see that he was indeed unarmed.
Damaski-is stopped beside her character and a window popped up in her screen.
'Damaski-is invites you in a private chat channel.' 'Accept' 'Deny'
Sakura exhaled heavily as she looks at the screen. She paused for a moment to doubtfully look at Damaski-is. She pulled herself up in a sitting position once more and clicked 'Accept'. In an instant another translucent window popped up, positioning itself in the middle of the screen. Their two characters still in the backdrop.
'Welcome to InterVEST private chat channel in Ilgoin. Enjoy.'
Damaski-is started to type in the other end.
Damaski-is: What? no torch blowers? I'm disappointed.
Sakura typed her reply.
'Agatha: I am starting to regret not bringing one. Wow, you actually came...in less than five minutes.
Damaski-is: Of course I would. I always keep my word.
Agatha: I did not think you would still be up in this hour.
Damaski-is: But you are. And that is what matters.
Agatha: Do not patronize me. Go straight to the point. What is this nonsense about a new patch?
Damaski-is: You don't waste any time, do you? Good...good. We are going to get along in that area.
Agatha: Getting along with you is in the least of my pariorities.
Damaski-is: Ouch. And I am kinda hoping you and I will.
Agatha: What on earth gave you that idea?
Damaski-is: Three words. InterVEST Ultimate Patch.
Agatha: that patch again...
Damaski-is: You're doubtful about it?
Agatha: Who wouldn't be? As far as I am concern, it is just a rumor. What are you upto, Damaski-is? Are you trying to trap me?
Damaski-is: I am not trying to trap you. And for your information, the patch is not just a rumor.
Agatha: Oh really.
Damaski-is: What I say is true. It is real.
Agatha: Stop wasting my time.
Damaski-is: Oh but, do you really believe I am wasting your time, Agatha? Coz if you really think I am, then you wouldn't meet now.
Damaski-is: See? You know that there could be some truth behind what I say. So far InterVEST had been successful introducing unrealistic features and no one can really predict what they would come up next. Anything is possible with them.
Agatha: Okay, fine. Let's just say, what you say is true. What does it have to do with me?
Damaski-is: Are you contented in being a rogue player, Agatha?
Agatha: What do you care?
Damaski-is: Just answer my question.
Agatha: I think I am doing well where I am.
Damaski-is: That's about it?
Agatha: Look...it will be 3 am in half an hour and I'm really tired, Damaski-is. Just say what you want to say.
Damaski-is: Fine. Fine.
Damaski-is: What I am about to say to you is very confidential. Promise you would not tell anyone.
Agatha: You're actually going to trust me to keep this as a secret? Are you feeling well? oO
Damaski-is: I'm serious, Agatha. Promise and I will tell.
Agatha: Okay..okay..fine..I promise. (But I am only doing this to shorten this conversation because I want to sleep already)
Damaski-is: I'm quite happy with that for now.
Damaski-is: As I was saying. This is about InterVEST's Ultimate Patch.
Agatha: I'm listening...and snoring...ZZzzzzz
Damaski-is: It's already been installed.
Agatha: Excuse me?
Damaski-is: It's here, Agatha. Right before our very own eyes. It has been uploaded last maintenance day.
Agatha: Oh really?
Damaski-is: You don't really believe me, do you?
Damaski-is:sigh: I don't blame you. But don't pm me when the official announcement comes out. I would hate to say "I told you so". My resources had never let me down before.
Agatha: Fine. Let's just say that it is already been installed. Isn't this something you shouldn't be telling me about? Me of all people. What's the catch?
Damaski-is: The catch is that the potential power of this patch cannot be utilize by only one person. It needs two to get things working.
Agatha: In short, you want to use me.
Damaski-is: How direct of you to say that. In one area you can say that.
Agatha: Ha! And what makes you think I would let you use me in this scheme of yours.
DAmaski-is: Because you will be getting something of same equivalent in return.
Agatha: And that is?
Damaski-is: You will be using me as well.
Damaski-is: The word "use" is kinda a more morbid term of partnership in my vocabulary.
Agatha: You want "partnership"?? with me????
Agatha: You can't be serious.
Damaski-is: I'm not joking. That is why I am asking you earlier if you are contented in being just a rogue. As far as I am concern, your InterVEST assets and performance can be compared to any full player's stats.
Damaski-is: I want you to register as a full player.
Agatha: haha...and what makes you think that I will comply just because you told me so?
Damaski-is: You are really difficult to deal with.
Agatha: This is my character in InterVEST. Deal with it.
Damaski-is: Your character in InterVEST? So does that mean, you are not like that in real life?'
Sakura was thrown back at his question. Was she really different IRL? This was the first time Damaski-is ever mentioned something about real life background. Something was not right. She knew its all going to be a lie, but still... he seemed really serious.
'Agatha: Are you trying to trick me? Coz now you are asking about what I am like in real life. We have an agreement, Damaski-is. No real life reference.
Damaski-is: It would help to get a little IRL information if we are going to be partners.
Agatha: That "partner" thing again. Do not jump to conclusions. I am not going to be your "partner". I can't even think of any reason why I should end up as one.
Damaski-is: The ultimate patch will cover it. Look, I am going to go over the contents of the patch. The important things, that is. It is up to you whether you will be believe it or not. But at least I know you will think about it. The official announcement date will be two weeks from now. As a veteran full player, I want to get ready. I want everything to be set to get a head start before everyone else. And as an elite player, you should be planning as well.
Agatha: I am a rogue. I just want to have fun in InterVEST.
Damaski-is: Is that really all? I think you also crave for things and you are just using that as an excuse.
Agatha: I am not just using it as an excuse.
Damaski-is: Don't you really? Either way, here me out. The Ultimate patch is the most ambitious thing, InterVEST ever had. It takes legality to full swing. It will be more than just money conversion or business dealings. They are uniting real life assets into InterVEST's world.
Agatha: Wait, wait...real life assets into InterVEST?
Damaski-is: Yes. People behind InterVEST had stroke another deal with the government. Full players will have the outmost benefit. If you own a mall within InterVEST, it is very likely that you will also own a mall in real life?
Agatha: What? I'm getting confused. How is that possible?
Damaski-is: Establishments in real life, as well as companies, now has the option of putting their business inside InterVEST. For example, the Jade Restaurant in 4th street Avalon. Have you eaten there?
Agatha: Yeah. My brother loved their fortune cookies.
Damaski-is: Its owner will be given an invitation. An Invitation to incorporate his establishment inside InterVEST. Have you ever wondered why I chose this place, Ilgoin county, to meet?
Agatha: Coz its secluded and no one comes here?
Damaski-is: That is only a part of it. Another will be because, two weeks from now, this path of Ilgoin county will transform. Beyond these rocky mountain and hills, the largest city in InterVEST will rise.
Damaski-is: For all this time, this place had been kept barren but now I know why. It is because they had been developing something big for it. And within this city, if the owner of the Jade restaurant agrees to incorporate his business in InterVEST. Then the very same Jade Restaurant will be created inside. Profits and liabilities made in real life and within InterVEST will be the same. For full players, thare is no longer such a thing as "just online" or "only in real life" issues. Everything will be consolidated. Now imagine...if everything will be equally the same in monetary value and asset. How do you think that will affect elite players that are very much established in InterVEST? It would be a chance to monopolize the industry.
Agatha: If that is really possible...then it is indeed very ambitious of InterVEST to do. I still don't see why you need me, Damaski-is. As far as I am concerned, you are already rich in this game. You'll do well without me.
Damaski-is: There is just this tiny little problem.
Damaski-is: There is a certain requirement before you can enter this new city. And the very reason why I would like to propose something to you...now.
Agatha: ...certain amount of asset?
Agatha: ... liquidated gold quota?
Damaski-is: No. It is just something related to the characters' roleplaying socially within the community to add a more realistic "feel" to the whole thing.
Damaski-is: You needed to be binded with someone conjugally.'
Sakura's surprised face cannot be described as she stopped typing her answer. His last words rang inside her head as realization dawned at her.
'Damaski-is: Umm..hello? Agatha are you still there?'
Without really thinking, Sakura reached for her portable mic and jammed it in her laptop which automatically activated the voice chat function and shouted with all her might, "HELROI DAMASKI-IS! Are you actually suggesting that I marry you in InterVEST??!!!"
I'm back from my trip. :throws confetti: It took me so long to do this chapter. I think I've typed way beyond my quota. lolz oh well. I hope this chapter answers some questions. You know, I really encountered an online game before where you needed to be married with someone or at least have a lover inside the game in order to gain access to some places. I think it would be fun to add it in the storyline...okay well...to exaggerate it a "little".
To all reviewers...thank you very much.