Two modes of play

Author's notes: A hack:// fanfic based loosely off of the Hack://Infect storyline. Written to "1000 nights" by See-Saw from the Hack Anime.

Intro: Unless you Run

There were two modes of play, regular and cinematic. In the mundane mode, embraced by the masses for its simplicity, you simply put a controller in the computer via the proper port. Play was simplistic, just follow the book's instructions and "The World" became a sprawling dungeon crawl. With nearly unlimited combinations of key words to thread together the possibilities were endless. Controls were… generic, limited by the medium they were offered in. Mathematical in form and formula, the route went thus: Dual stick one equals "walk", Dual stick two equals Camera/Perspective, and so on and so forth.

Even with the goggles set over the eyes Dual stick two would twirl perspective about for you, no motions of the neck required. Though, despite knowing consciously of the system, there were many who turned their heads about anyways even as their thumbs pushed the controller and twirled the camera about.

Instinct was hard to shake. Consider it's track record, it's with us since the start. Sight –the root of "The World's" stimuli- struck the heart of mankind. With calculated precision the corporate had struck impulse, the brother to instinct, and it drove reactions and sales up. So heads turned, hands shook, blows –when struck and received- coaxed miniscule winces and shakes.

The World hit the world running, and never slowed.

Two million copies sold, two million people picked up controller and counsel. Hooked software into computers, updated soundcards, and when all was in place plugged in their goggles and set down on seats of varying comfort. Two million manuals were consumed, skimmed, considered, contemplated, than forgotten.

As for the masses, few read the final lines of the manual, a warning to those who dabbled in keyboard forum of play. Typed in garish reds, cast in miniscule print, on the back of the "Notes" section the warning hung, unnoticed by all. "The World" knew it's limits, and in a way encouraged them so it's fullest potential would never be realized.

Controllers were sold with the sets, encouraged with planted, premeditated, enthusiastic voices scattered amongst the boards. The masses bought the message, so the messengers were recalled.

But, at times the best-laid plans fall awry. As always, it comes from an unexpected quarter, the unanticipated land where reality meets theory and triumphs around the edges. Poverty and obsession dovetail into a bizarre, bitter, acidic, elixir that allows its imbiber to surpasses the preset. The results, however, are never guaranteed.

But then, satisfaction is never guaranteed. That's a quote from the CC corp.'s contract, the last line on the first page of the "Rules and Agreement" to be exact.

Shaking hands scrabble through the refuse bin behind an electric goods store. Carefully withdrawn are the shattered computers those "out of date models" that never sold at discount price. Gloved hands paw through the shattered plastic shells, picking through the fragments, the husks.

He smiles, weary, but triumphant, it's a secret smile that he never lets anyone see. Ever

From bits and pieces, constructed without guilds and manuals, temporized and adlibbed, it's built. A shrine to his want, it runs sickly green as electricity fills pilfered bulbs and bursts forth with a light akin to carrion at it's late stages, but not the latest. The goggles are taken, bent and broken, snatched from the brow of the obsessed and tossed out a nearby window in a show of intervention born drama. That last is a godsend, sent straight from above. He swipes them, that precious, final, piece, before the trash man can. Above, an argument rumbles, thunderous, from the window that his find fell. Chasing him, for he runs, and its participants are oblivious that he exists but still the words roar.

And he runs, after all, you can't be chased unless you run.

WARNING: There are two forums of play, "Controller" mode (this forum is standard to traditional gaming systems) and "Cinematic". Default is set for "Controller" but those without the CC Corp patented controller will be swapped over to "Cinematic" automatically. Those prone to seizures, with a history of epilepsy, should not play "Cinematic" mode and it is highly recommended you should see a doctor if disorientation occurs while playing in "Cinematic" mode or at any time while playing "The World".

He handles his latest find as if it's sacred. Hiding it under his shirt as he walked in, the coast is clear and despite that assurance he keeps it secret thought it's warped edges bite hard and deep. Only when his door is closed and locked does he pull his latest –most precious- find out. It's worn, much loved and looking it. Despite the electric tape wound about the cord and bent goggles he smiles and hugs it tight.

All's in place, at long last.

Booting up the computer, never minding it's garish greens and scratched sides, he waits, made patient by impatience being worn out. He pulls a disk from his backpack, having ferried it here, there, everywhere in fear of it being lost. Its illegal contents were hard to get, so he strives hard to hide what no one must find. Masked by the CD's generic brand name, obsfusified by the fact it bares the mark of a band in his own hand sketched in sharpie black, he hides crime with a lesser sin of "Song burning"… For safety's sake, he carries it about in a CD player, singing snippets of songs in another language when anyone draws too close.

That generally encourages them to pull back, and so his secrets remain secret.

With a click and whirl, the plastic tongue extends, accepts the disk as offering and withdraws. Electricity and light chase over a cyclic ream of zeros and ones, humming all the while, as if the motherboard and it's various attachments are sampling something sweet.

To the familiar sound he hums along, smiling his secret smile all the while. Hands tapping imaginary rhythms to the high pitched whine on the desk, he watches the screen shift and shape, its pixels melt and morph into facsimiles of liquid. As crystallization into familiar, forbidden, logos commences he almost laughs.

Almost…

The door slamming jars him from his euphoria. That mundane sound stills the tickling in the back of his throat and steals his smile. He wakes from the dream, regrets that he hadn't enough time to make it form into real.

"Sweetie?"

so close…

He sighed, bitterly, even as he turned to address the door.

"In my room Mother, I'll be out in a bit."

A few thumps herald the fact that she's carrying something, setting them down noisily. It's a not so subtle warning that he'd better go down and help. She probably had bought groceries, or some other type of shopping bag that demanded bulk since there were so many thumps. Mother was always shopping and father was always working to cover Mother's expenses. Those were the two norms in his life.

"Well hurry up with the "whatever" you're doing in their mister and get your butt downstairs, this stuff's heavy!"

Wasn't it always?

Still, he didn't have time, time to loiter or banter, the taboo needed obscuring. Papers scattered over cords, monitor unplugged and stuck in one drawer, that hidden by a swarm unfolded, unbound socks. As for the tower, that was the easiest to hide, he just stuck it with in the box by his bed, covering its existence with the horde of other gaming systems.

Satisfied that his tracks were covered he unlocked the door and padded down the hall. As he had expected Mother and her omnipresent bags were waiting after one turn in obvious impatience. Well… rather mother was impatient, the bags after all were inanimate, sagging, skins of plastic. They couldn't exude anything as vehement or violate as impatience, only sag limply amongst themselves and fly away at a good breeze.

Forcing a smile, a tight paralyzing of his lips and the smallest baring of his teeth, he approaches. Deflection, he decides, is the best route.

"Hello, Mother, how was your day?"

She leans forward, though does nothing to draw near. Eyes squinted tight, she scrutinizes, crowding close without taking a single step. Though a few feet separate them he considers her detachedly. She's a monolith atop a pile of bags, spearing him with a long look that covers that space with presence and smothers. Through it all the he smiles his forced smile and tries to look innocent.

"Don't "Hello; Mother" me, young man! Your eyes are red striped again! Have you been playing since I left?"

"No Mother."

"Don't lie to me, young man."

To that he's silent, he was out and the breeze had been blowing something fierce when his last piece –the last, wonderful, piece- had fallen from heaven. She wouldn't understand that, so he simply quirks his lips a little wider and sighs.

"It's not like you can hide anything from me, young man, you're as transparent as glass."

"I'm… sorry."

"Don't be." Stepping from her horde of just had to buys all wrapped in transparent, white tinged, shrouds. She waddled over a forest of random leaning handles, passed silk plastic shores, to cross a blue tile sea and tower over him. "Just put all this away, and while you're doing that remember, I know when you're lying. Dishonesty only doubles your work you know."

Lesson done, she passed him by, passed from kitchen tile to living room rug only to find the tile once more. A slam and click from the back of the house, where the bathroom resided, told him where her journey had likely ended. Heaving a sigh, content she wouldn't hear him over the sound of the running water and pile more work on him –for his "lip"- he looked at the pile of bags and it's lumpy contents.

She'd gone shopping, again. Food shopping, this time, "to get necessities" she'd call it.

Considering the fridge was already full –nearly to bursting last he checked- he hardly considered it necessary. But she did, so he bent and picked up the first of many, making the first of many trips form the pile to the fridge.