"So let me see if I can get this straight. You can make computer programs that the mind of a person can enter, like virtual reality, and live out scenarios?"
I took a sip of coffee. I was off the bed, recuperating from my experience. I had been pretty shook up for about thirty minutes after the whole ordeal. I was sitting in a break room of sorts with Jennifer. That was the pretty woman who had assisted me in the lab. Well, more than assisted me. She had written the whole Star Wars program. With different levels and everything. If I had gotten past all the droids, there would have been other things coming. But I hadn't. I had failed.
"But why? What's the point? I mean…" and I held a hand out in apology. "I love the program. Running around as my favorite Star Wars character was absolutely amazing. I want to get right back in!" She smiled. "But what's the point? It can't be purely for enjoyment."
"I don't know. There's a lot of money in the entertainment business. But no, you're right. There is an ulterior motive."
She stood, setting her coffee mug down on the glass table. She began to pace, which wasn't too easy, because the room was quite small. She moved back and forth for a minute or so, then sat back down.
"There's a madman trying to blowup the world."
The abruptness of the statement made me sit back. Any other time and I would have laughed at the lady. But I had been having the most spectacular day of my life, and this girl seemed very trustworthy. Even when she spouted impossibilities.
"Absolutely. He has bombs planted in all the major cities of the world."
"Wow." I picked up my coffee and downed the rest of the half-filled cup. That shook me up. I shook my head, trying to explain this.
"What do I have to do with anything?"
"The man who has control of the bombs, is a lot like you."
"Like me?" A thought dawned. "Wait a minute. You don't suspect that I am the…"
"No. Oh no, absolutely not. I just mean that he is a lot like you. His interests. His likes and dislikes. And we needed someone like him to fight against him."
"Fight? I'm a cop, but I don't think I could do much fighting."
"We would train you. And it wouldn't be in the real world. It would be in the Matrix."
"The Matrix. Could you please explain?"
Jennifer sat down beside me and folded her hands in her lap. She took a minute to compose herself, then started.
"The man who has planted the bombs goes by the name Sauron. We do not know his real name, and we have no idea who or what he is. We don't know his nationality, his race, or anything else. We don't even have pictures of him. We just call him Sauron, because that's what he wants to be called.
"Sauron has built a computer program that he calls the Matrix. It is much like the Matrix program in the movie, but it has several programs. Sauron is a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic. He seems obsessed with the same things you are. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean. He has built the program so that it will act much like the one you just came from. People can enter, through the computer hookups, and play out the stories as the character of their choice. Sauron has given the main governments of the world one week to raise up a challenger to fight him in his fictional world. That person is you."
"You have seen these movies that I've mentioned? You know the characters?"
"Yes. I own almost all of them. You mean, this guy, Sauron, could load a program where he is a Klingon commander, and I would battle him as Captain Kirk?"
"Or Picard. Or Archer. Or Sisko. Yes, he will load the different programs and engage in battles."
I sighed. This was preposterous!
"How much time?"
"You start tomorrow. All the games will happen in real time. If you do not defeat this man in one week, then he will initiate the sequence to explode the bombs. If he does that, three fourths of the world's population will be annihilated."
"And he will most likely change programs at any time?"
"Absolutely any time. The disadvantage you will have, is that you will not know what is coming next. You could be battling an army of Orcs in the Misty Mountains one minute, then be fighting Darth Vader in a space battle the next. The advantage you have, is that you will have the ability to switch characters at any time. The characters have to be from the same medium though."
"You mean, I could be Wolverine on minute, then, as the circumstances arise, have the ability to change into…Ice Man?"
"That is correct. Do we have a deal?"
She held her hand out.
"Woah, woah, woah. I can't just make a decision like that. I have to think about it."
"You don't have time to think about it. You have to enter the Matrix at eight o'clock tomorrow morning. Any later, and he will initiate. We have to use the time from now til then to train you. You have to go through our programs, so you will know kind of what to expect."
I stood up from the couch and paced like had done minutes earlier. This was too much for my mind to process. I finally had the chance to enter some of my favorite stories, to become my favorite characters. But I could be dead in the next week.
"Three fourths of the entire world Matthew."
"Stop pressuring me!" I yelled. I sat in a metal chair at the small table, placing my head in my hands. I sat there for a few minutes, then looked up at her.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell. I'm just so, stressed out right now. This is the strangest day of my life."
"I know how you feel. But we need your answer. Now."
I had no family. Practically no friends. I was not married, not even a girlfriend. The only things dear to me that I would be leaving, were my pets. But as she said, I was their last hope. I felt like Neo. They were counting on me. I turned slowly to her, taking a deep breath.
"Alright. I'll do it. Let's go train."
I lay on the bed, straps surrounding my body. It was necessary, Jennifer said, that I have them, otherwise, my body could go into a seizure or something. There were tekkies working on the computers, loading the program for my next adventure. Jennifer came up to the bed.
"Where am I going to be? Who?"
"We're not going to tell you. Sauron will most definitely change stories very fast. You need to get used to taking in your surroundings fast, and reacting to them. We'll go slow at first, but as it progresses, it will get faster. Now, it is in real time. The time you spend in the Matrix, is the same time your body here spends. Remember, in our programs, you cannot die. When you enter the real Matrix…" She stopped.
I reached out and grabbed her hand.
"Don't worry. I'll be fine. I know as much about this tuff as any one."
"Let's hope you know more than Sauron."
I just smiled. Jennifer turned to a technician and nodded. He nodded back. Jennifer squeezed my hand, then let go, strapping my arm down. I closed my eyes, waiting for it.
Nothing happened. I felt nothing. Heard nothing. Did it happen? I opened my eyes very slowly, not sure what I would see. It surprised me greatly.
"Oh my gosh…"
I was standing in the middle of a large hallway. I knew immediately where I was. It looked so much like the movie! I was very impressed. They had replicated it perfectly! To my right was a long silver wall, studded with round doors. One was open, which revealed a room with several uniforms hanging in stasis chambers. On my left, the same wall, except no open doors. Directly in front of me, was a large round door, with an X that extended from the top of the door to the bottom. Next to the door there was a keypad of some sorts. I could not believe it.
I turned to me left and walked up to the wall. It was reflective enough that I could see my image in it. Wow. I was buff! My arms were large and full of muscles. My chest, which was covered in a white undershirt, stuck out almost past my chin and well toned six-pack abs showed as well. My hair was jet black, with long sideburns. I raised my hands and looked at my knuckles. Could it be?
I didn't know which muscles to flex. I tried all I could. I moved my fingers all around, trying to figure it out. Extend dang it! I yelled in my mind.
Instantly, three claws of metal extended from each of my hands. I screamed in pain, falling to my knees. The pain! It was excruciating! I grunted, trying to calm myself down. The pain went away in seconds. No pain. I raised my hands again, staring at the claws in fascination.
They extended from each hand, in between each finger, where the finger joined with the rest of the hand. They were each about ten inches long, curved slightly away from me. I reached with one hand to touch a claw on the other. I brushed my finger across the blade. Ow! I cut myself. I looked at the slit on my forefinger in awe. It slowly disappeared, the tissue repairing, the skin sewing itself up. The pain went away. This was incredible.
I was Wolverine!
I got excited then, blood coursing through my body. I slashed at a silver door. A hole opened up, three slashes straight down the middle. I slashed again. The hole opened up more. It felt like slicing through butter. I knew the metal, adamantium, was practically indestructible. I could do this all day long and not get tired. This was absolutely incredible! Now, where was someone to fight?!
I got my wish.
Around the corner a figure came running. I gasped. It was Sabretooth! I looked behind me. The hallway ended about ten feet away. Dang! No where to run. I grunted. What was I saying?! I was Wolverine!
Extend! I thought in my mind. The claws shot out. I gave a grunt. I was getting used to the pain. Sabretooth stared at me, then smiled. I just glared at him. I raised my hands, showing the claws. Sabretooth smirked, and then started to run towards me.
I crouched into a defensive mode. Sabretooth came running, the hall seemed to shake. I brought my claws up to protect my face. I had no idea what he might do.
Ten paces from me, he leapt into the air. Soaring like an anvil, he came directly toward me, crashing down. I spun to the side, going in low. I brought up a hand and felt the claws rake his chest. He let out a roar and fell to the floor with a crash. He leapt up instantly though and spun towards me. I was already on the move.
I ran up to him, raked my claws across his face and jumped over his shoulder. He screamed and tried to grab me by the waist. He didn't succeed, but he did manage to catch my foot. I crashed to the floor and rolled against the wall. His hand still held my foot, and he pulled. I spun through the air, ramming the giant X door and falling heavily. I felt a cut on my head and reached up. Blood. But no abrasion. I had no time to think about it. He was running toward me again.
I leapt up and raced toward him. Midstride, I launched and grabbed him in the middle, like a football tackle. We both hurled backwards, falling to the floor. I grabbed his arm and spun him around. I let go, letting him crash into the wall. I started to advance, when I felt something like a rope curl around my foot. My feet were pulled out from underneath me and I fell with a bang. I looked around. There. Toad. He crouched on the ceiling, smirking at me. I glanced at Sabretooth. He lay on the floor, groaning. I turned my attention back to Toad. He wasn't there.
I felt the small body wrap itself around my torso. I arched my back and pushed into the wall. Just before impact, the little dude leapt off and swung towards the other wall. He was good. I crashed into the silver wall and pushed off. But I headed not toward Toad, but toward Sabretooth.
I leapt in the air and spun around. Landing with both feet, I pressed into his chest. The large man grunted and stopped writhing. Not a second later, I felt the rope around my wrist. I looked down. Toads tongue was around it. I looked at him. He smiled. I smiled back.
I twisted my hand, and before he could react, I sliced off the end of his tongue with my claws. He screamed in pain and fell to the floor. I raced toward him. He scrambled out of the way and drew his tongue back in. Blood spattered the hall. I leapt in the air with a feral yell and held my claws out before me. Toad lay there, defenseless. I was about to kill him.
Suddenly, I stopped in midair. I wasn't moving. I hung there, immobilized. I couldn't figure it out. The only muscles I could move were the ones in my face. I looked to the side and groaned.
Magneto stood there, framed in the doorway. His hand was outstretched and it held me in my state. Mystique stood beside him, smiling with her seductive way. Magneto moved forward, keeping me in the air exactly where I was. He pulled up right next to me and smiled. His ridiculous helmet graced his head. He held the end of his cloak in his other hand.
"Really Logan, you need to learn how to fight. If you are ever to become an X-men, you need to learn discipline." He smiled as only Magneto could, eyes twinkling as an old grandfather would, but a deep evil behind them. I tried to move, but to no avail. He smiled.
"No use here Logan. I have you right where I want you."
"This is just training!" I yelled in a singsong voice. "There's no need for the sarcasm!"
"Yes there is. Do you think Sauron would spare you?"
Jennifer's voice filled my head. I grunted.
"Now, close your eyes."
"You need to advance to something else. You did very well here. You are now a level 1 in fighting."
"Thank you so much." I closed my eyes and waited. Nothing happened.
"Jennifer? Jennifer?!" She didn't answer me.
I opened my eyes. What I saw made my breath go away.