Greeting fellow readers and writers! This is my 15th story so enjoy! Once again we enter the world of those brave fighters all things evil, The Ramblers. Now this story contains elements of The Matrix trilogy and the Resident Evil game series, none of which I own so don't sue me.

Be warned though, this story isn't for the faint of heart. If you happen to suffer from a weak heart, or are easily frightened, stop reading this story right now.

I see you're still reading. This is your last warning. I cannot take responsibility for what may happen to you as a result of reading this terror filled fic. For your own safety, please click to another page right now.

So you really think you have what it takes to survive this fic. Very well, but don't say I didn't warn you. Brace yourself for…

VZN: Virtual Zombie Nightmare

By AndrewK9000

Chapter 1: Game Start

There are those who say that genius is the ability to go from point A to point D, without going through points B and C. Albert Einstein could have easily gone straight to point G.

In this modern world there are a handful of individuals who can go from point A, all the way to point S in no time flat. One of them is Violet Baudelaire. The other is Virgil Blake. Both are Meta-Human, and both work for The Bureau of Paranormal Research and defense.

Both of them are different in many ways. Violet has a loving boyfriend, while Virgil is a loner. Violet is mostly even tempered, while Virgil tends to lose his cool often. But there's one major common factor linking these two Meta-Humans; they both use their advanced minds to benefit the human race.

This story is about one of their projects that went horribly wrong. Not of their own fault, of course. But even the best of projects are influenced by outside forces.

It all started one day in June of the year 2008. Virgil and Violet were finishing their latest invention, one that would revolutionize the gaming world. "One more circuit to connect," said Virgil, "and we'll be on the fast track to riches!"

"We're not doing this just for the money," said Violet, "Just think of the applications; not only will the military benefit from our work, but it can also advance education methods. With this you'll never have to sit through another boring history lecture again."

"Oh I already knew about the military and educational applications," said Virgil as he finished the final circuit, "But I'm mostly interested in the economical applications. I've given The Bureau some of the best years of my life. I deserve more than what I'm getting in my paycheck. As soon as I can get this declassified, I'm going to sell this little wonder to the public. In less than a year I'll be a multi-millionaire."

"Well let's see if it works as it should first," said Violet. She then paged her fellow members of The Ramblers to come down to the lab where she and Virgil were working.

The Ramblers were formed in 1999 when word reached The Bureau that the Y2K problem was a front for a demonic invasion. 8 Meta-Humans were picked to battle the demons before they could invade the world. Of those 8, only 4 are still alive. The are:

Max Kildare from Baltimore. As leader of the team, Max was born with the ability to instantly heal any wound inflicted on his body, making him all but indestructible. Max is also one of the most physically strong individuals on the planet. He can easily lift 50 metric tones with one hand without breaking a sweat. Yet despite his strength, Max thinks himself a gunslinger, he prefers to use his revolvers in a fight, before using his fists.

Next in The Ramblers is Leon Smyth-Falcon from New Orleans. Leon is a natural with Voodoo magic. With a single hair or a scrap of clothing he can take control of someone's body. He's also quite a fast runner. His talents has lately earned him the nickname 'Voodoo Child.'

The other two survivors of the original 8 are Andrew Carpenter and Jill Sparrow. Andrew is a natural with explosives. He can build and disarm a bomb in no time flat, earning him the nickname 'Demolition Man.' Jill is said to be descended from pirates, naturally making her favorite weapon a cutlass. Jill and Andrew were friends from the beginning, then very close friends, then lovers, and most recently, married.

Andrew and Jill were still on their honeymoon, so Leon and Max were the only ones from the original 8 to be there that day. Most of the rest of the team were there in The Bureau to witness the unveiling of Virgil and Violet's latest creation. They are:

Julie Eckheart, a natural with a riffle. Her talents, plus her hawk-like eyes, earned her the nickname 'Hawkeye.'

Laura Hurst is quite possibly the most powerful telekinetic person in the world, in terms of raw power. Her abilities are at their strongest when she is angry, but too much anger has caused Laura to create dangerous rips in the fabric of reality.

Steve Austin is almost as powerful as Max in terms of shear strength, but his skill in martial arts is superior. Perhaps his prowess in fighting makes up for his lack of common sense, for there are times when Steve acts like he has no brain. He and Virgil loathe each other for several reasons.

Michael Long, a former bounty hunter, is a natural sword-fighter. He uses twin energy blades, one green, and the other blue.

Simon, 'D.P.' Brotonoononowluski, a native of New Jersey, also possesses superior strength. On a previous mission his right arm was ripped out from the socket, so Virgil made a metal arm to replace the lost one. D.P.'s new arm works almost as well as his old one.

Dr. Aaron Spartan, MD, and his younger brother Tyler. The two brothers are geniuses in their respective fields. Aaron is a medical doctor how has studied nearly every field of medicine known to man, and a few other methods unknown to mortal man.

Tyler specializes in metallurgy and electronics. He invented a electronic suit of armor that collapses into his white vest. Recently, Tyler returned from Bangkok, where he was studying Muay Thai martial arts, more on that later.

Fay Valentine, knife expert. Infamously known as 'The Butcher of Boston,' Fay has a habit of acting recklessly in the heat of battle.

Alec Parkman and Denise Yeager were part of a different Bureau in a parallel Earth. That Earth has since been destroyed, but not before suffering a decade of chaos, death and destruction. Alec can become invisible, while Denise has super strength.

Finally there was Violet's younger brother, Klaus. The second Baudelaire child has the rare mental ability to remember every single word he's ever read. He is more than Violet's brother; he's her favorite guinea pig when it comes to testing out her inventions. We'll talk about Violet's other sibling, Sunny, later.

"So is this everyone?" asked Virgil as he took off his wraparound sunglasses to clean them, revealing his cybernetic eyes. Virgil's real eyes were burned out by demon worshipers on Halloween night, 2004. Everyone was used to the metal eyes by now.

"Andrew and Jill aren't due back from Niagara Falls until tomorrow afternoon," said Leon, his voice carrying a medium New Orleans drawl.

"And Maria is missing yet again," grumbled Max. Maria Van Helsing, a natural exorcist, has spent over half her career in The Bureau on various assignments dealing with demonic possession. Most of the time she shows up several days overdue, much to the displeasure of Max.

"Too bad for them and too good for you people," said Violet, "So stand back and prepare to be amazed!" She grabbed the white tarp covering the project and removed it with a flourish. Six leather reclining chairs surrounded a sophisticated looking square device. The chairs had metal helmets and electrodes, the kind that are used to take medical readings of the brain.

"Okay," said Steve, "I'm amazed. Now tell me what it is."

"Sometimes your lack of intelligence frightens me, Steve," said Virgil, "What you see is going to make the Nintendo Wii, the Play Station 3 and the Xbox 360 look like Pong. This is The Ultimate Gaming Experience, or the UGE for short."

"The device places you directly in the game," said Violet, "The helmets input the game data into the brain and the electrodes send your responses to the computer. It's like The Matrix, only without jamming a metal prong into your head."

"So," said Virgil, "Who wants to be the first to experience the future of video games?"

There was a few seconds of silence before the room was filled with shouts of "ME! ME!" and "Me First!"

Eventually six were sorted to be the first to try out the machine. Steve, Fay, Julie, Michael, Denise and Alec sat down in the chairs, while Virgil and Violet attached the equipment to their heads.

"So what are we playing?" asked Michael, "Resident Evil 4? Halo?"

"Final Fantasy?" asked Julie, "Or Kingdom Hearts 2?"

"None of the above," said Virgil, "You'll be playing a game of my own design. VZN: Virtual Zombie nightmare."

"Sounds creepy," said Fay, "I like it already."

"The object of the game is simple," said Violet as she fired up the hard drive of the machine, "Stay Alive. You'll have your choice of weapons to use against the endless hoards of walking dead. Also, you can choose what city you want as the setting for the game. You six will be separated at first, but your chances of survival will increase as you find each other.

"Once you've joined up, your challenge is to find a defendable location, someplace safe where you can hold up during the zombie uprising. At the same time you'll get extra points for saving civilians from being devoured by the ghouls."

"Cool," said Steve, Can't wait to get started."

"I'm always up for some zombie slaying," said Julie, "Real or simulated."

"I'm game!" said Denise eagerly.

"Same here," said Michael.

"Me too," said Alec, "But I've got just one question. What happens if we die in the game?"

"If you get eaten or turn into a zombie," said Virgil, "You lose the game and you wake up in the real world. You might be a bit disoriented when you wake up. The game will seem so real, you'll find yourself believing it's real at times. Of course you'll be in no real danger. I've installed safety protocols that prevent any real damage to you, physically or mentally. So relax and have fun, while being hunted by countless ghouls who are trying to eat you."

Five minutes later the six players were all hooked up to the system. They were in a dream-like state, yet totally lucid. They could communicate with the real world via a virtual cell phone.

"At this stage," said Virgil, "They're choosing what their character will look like in the game; clothing, hair style, also what weapons they'll use. They have a choice from hand guns to assault rifles to shotguns."

"The system has more than gamming applications," said Violet, "You could experience historical reenactments and other scholastic fields. Medical students can take virtual tours of living bodies. There are also the military aspects. New recruits can experience realistic battle situations."

"Like I said before," said Virgil, "We're going to be so rich!"

Violet was about to retort on how greedy Virgil was, when the main computer for the game beeped. "They've started playing," said Violet.

In the game Steve and the others had picked Philadelphia as the background for their apocalyptic adventure. He had chosen a 45 cal. Pistol as his primary weapon, with a 38-special revolver as his backup. He found himself outside Independence Hall, the steps of the building where America was born, now bloodstained. It was quite in the city of brotherly love, too quite for Steve.

There was a noise behind him, the sounds of approaching footsteps. Steve whirled around, his pistol ready to blast zombie brains all over the pavement.

"Whoa! Don't shoot! It's me!" said Denise. The Rambler from a parallel dimension had as her primary weapon an M1 Grand riffle. Her belt was full of pouches containing 8-round clips. A 4-foot length of led pipe was strapped to her back as a melee weapon.

"It looks so real," said Denise, "If I didn't know better I'd say this really was Philadelphia."

"I know," said Steve, "Me and Virgil don't get along most of the time, but you got to give hem credit when credit is due. I can't wait to start blasting ghouls."

"Looks like you've got your wish," said Denise. Three zombies were lumbering stiffly over to the two players. Taking his time Steve aimed and fired at the head of the nearest ghoul. The rotting head exploded. Denise aimed and fired at the second zombie, destroying it. Steve swiftly dispatched the third.

"This is intense," said Steve, "Virgil even got the smell of the bastards right."

"We'd better get moving," said Denise, "Our shots might attract more."

"You're right," said Steve, "We should find the others." He and Denise started walking when suddenly the environment around them flickered like an old fashion TV set would when the antenna signal was disrupted.

"What the f#ck was that?" asked Steve.

"Probably a glitch in the program," said Denise, "I'll bet there's a few bugs left in the game that need to be worked out."

Back in the real world Virgil had also noticed the brief but significant disruption in the game system. "That shouldn't have happened," he said, "Something's wrong."

"You shouldn't jump to conclusions," said Violet, "It was probably just a small power surge. We're doing this to get the kinks out of the system, that was probably one of them."

"That wasn't a damn power surge," said Virgil as he plugged his laptop into the UGE computer, "We put in triple surge protectors. No, there is something wrong going on here. Just give me a second or two."

As his laptop checked for errors in the UGE, Virgil, Violet and everyone else saw several more disruptions in the system of the game. "No!" exclaimed Virgil as his laptop finished scanning, several pop-windows appeared flashing red, "No, this isn't happening! This is not happening!!"

"What isn't happening?" asked Max.

"We've been hacked!" said Virgil, "Someone planted a virus into the UGE computer. If we don't get Julie and the others out of the game, they'll die for real!

The end of chapter 1. Next chapter, while Virgil and those on the outside try to figure out what happened, Julie, Steve and the other players find out that the game is more than a game. Reviews will be rewarded with cake, pie and juice. See you next time!