The Reaper Files: The Chaser Infection

Chapter 5

Outbreak

A/N: In this chapter, the power of the Reapers continues to evolve, becoming a major problem for the system. Sorry for editing the previous chapter. I had made a drastic error regarding one of the characters.

Gamoden's eyes opened slowly as he came to in the Lobby just as he had the previous time. He tried to sit up. However, the pain in his chest was making it difficult. He pushed himself up a few times, his right hand turning into a fist as he banged it against the floor. Times like these were when he hated being right. He looked at his fallen comrades around him. Things had grown a lot more complicated now with the addition of Dani and Dawn were now stuck in the world just as the others were. Dani lived with her, so at least for her, it wouldn't be long before the people she lived with would find their comatose bodies. Dawn was a different story though, she lived with James and Michelle. He was sure by now though, that their entire roleplaying guild knew about the situation. Hopefully that included their best friend Bobbi. She would figure it out… he hoped.

At last the pain subsided and Gamoden managed to get to his feet and make his way over to everyone else. He placed his hand gently on his wife's shoulder and then brushed his hand through her hair gently as she began to come to. He looked around at the other members. Sunlight and Dani were still lights out, the first time seemed to be the hardest on the body as their mind seemed to have to interface with the digital avatar that would now be it's new vessel. Everyone else, just as Gamoden and Misheru had, were coming to.

"Love, are you alright?" Gamoden asked, concern evident in his voice as he held her body against his own.

"I'm alright… that just really hurt," she stated as she wrapped her arms around him, her body shaking fiercely.

"That really hurt….," Dani muttered as she finally began to come around.

Gamoden kept his distance from her. He hated to think about it negatively, but they had brought it upon themselves. In his mind, they should have heeded his advice, then they wouldn't be in this situation. As Misheru let go and pulled herself up into a couch in the Lobby he followed her and sat down next to her, his hands hanging limply between on his legs as he looked down at the floor. He smiled only slightly as Misheru placed her hand on his shoulder. His right hand slowly reached up and grabbed her hand.

"I warned them…," he muttered. "Why didn't they just listen to me?"

"They did what was right in their eyes, regardless of the outcome, I am sure that they accept what has become of them," Misheru stated quietly.

"That doesn't change the fact that now, just like us, they're stuck here. Good thing Joe didn't come with us, or he would have ended up the same way." Gamoden replied and let out yet another heavy sigh.

"I I have a few other friends who play this game. Though they're not on nearly as often as they used to be, but I'm sure that no matter what happens, we won't be without connections." Kichi stated. having finally managed to regain his senses as well.

"Excuse me…, what has happened here?" asked a random player who had apparently noticed all of them. "I've never seen players unconscious as you guys seemed to be."

"The system is having problems, I suggest you stay away from Chaser Matches unless you want to end up like us," Gamoden answered, not even looking up at the person.

As Sunlight finally began to come around, Gamoden rose to his feet and made his way over to her. Regardless of how he felt , how stupid he thought their getting themselves involved was. Dawn was a member of their family in real life, no matter how annoyed he may have been at how they acted, he still cared about her like a sister.

"Dawn, are you alright?" he asked as he helped her get to her feet, like so many other times he had called her by her real name.

"That hurt…," she replied with a wince and a hiss as she managed to rise to her feet.

Gamoden and Misheru helped Sunlight over to the seat next to where they had been sitting.

"So that's what it was like for you guys? I can still feel the pain. How is that possible?" she asked, it seemed as though the was still in disbelief.

"Yeah, only for me, it was like I had gotten hit right in the chest twice. The Chaser that did it to me had a Burst Shotgun," James replied as he sat back down.

"It was a lot of small hits for the rest of us, the Chaser used a Heavy Machine Gun on us," Mantis replied having finally managed to get up herself.

Not even ten minutes later, the rest of the group had regained their senses. Again, as if it had become habitual, they sat down together in the chairs in the Lobby. Back where they started. However, Gamoden could already tell that it was getting worse. The announcements had become garbled and it had never shown the Chaser enter this time. Normally, he wouldn't have been able to enter, the room had been locked. Though he knew that their password was relatively easy, and had been guessed upon a few occasions. He was positive that was not the case this time.

"I'm going to contact Leo, the situation has become a lot more complicated," Gamoden stated as he pulled out his My Panel.

He quickly set to work on typing up a message to the System Administrator, the message read:

Leo:

The situation is beginning to deteriorate. The modified chasers have returned. Two more members of our clan have now been virtualized just as we were. Their names are FewSunlight and DaniNotte. We request that you add data tracers to them as well, so that they can help. The rooms themselves are beginning to be effected by the Chaser's appearance, the announcers messages during the match when the hacker showed up sounded somewhat garbled this time. We fear that the situation will only continue to worsen and believe that soon it will not be a small number of players who have been virtualized.

Gamoden

"Look good love?" he asked, handing her the panel to read the message. "If so, sign your name as well, you all do the same alright?"

Misheru looked over the message, being sure to read it and nodded her head, confirming that it was alright. She then went ahead and signed her name on the bottom of the message as well. She then handed it around to the rest of the group and after reading it they all signed it as well. When Gamoden got his My Panel back he sent the message to Leo. When it was finished, he leaned back in the seat with a sigh as he waited for a reply. After awhile of waiting though, no reply came.

"Well I don't know about you guy, but I really don't feel like waiting for his reply," Dawn stated, her impatience showing as she stood up. "Let's go do something."

"Let's do a Battle Royal," Arcana suggested as he too stood up and stretched a bit.

"Yeah, alright. Let's do it," Gamoden said, standing up as well before offering his hand to Misheru to help her up. Though in this game she didn't really need it, she took it regardless with a small smile.

"Start show me your S4!" came the announcer's voice and the Battle Royal was on!

Gamoden appeared on the lower level of the large airship Galleon, The room as per Kichi's usual style was called Muramasa's Ship, another Touhou reference. He called to his hands his Twin Blades and dashed and ran to the center corridor and up the stairs. On his My Panel he saw the announcement that Kichi had already beat Owl. The first kill of the match, making him the "King" and on his My Panel he could now see Kichi's whereabouts on the map. He seemed to be a good ways from Gamoden, and right now that's all that he cared about.

He held out his arm, his blades disappearing and instead the yellow and silver semi-rifle appeared in his hands and he took aim, unleashing a magazine of bullets at Sunlight as he ran forward. She turned and began to return fire with her submachine guns before escaping into an open doorway that led into what looked like the states room of the ship. Gamoden followed suit switching back to his Twin Blades as he closed in to melee range. She of course brought out her trusty Storm Bat, attempting to smash in his virtual face. However, he jumped, swinging the blades forward in an upward arc, knocking her back and allowing him to finish her off with a few strokes of his blades. However, he hadn't gotten through their exchange undamaged. His attention turned too late as Dani appeared right behind him and the curved blade of her Spy Dagger sent him flying into a wall, defeated. She had been invisible, which is why he hadn't seen her coming.

"That trick is getting really old…," he stated with a growl as he reappeared in a room back down on the lower level, much to his misfortune, right where Owl had apparently been camping. "Oh crap."

He quickly feinted out of the way of the large gauntlet of Owl's Counter Sword as it came down in an attempt to crush him, and then jumped out of the way of the telekinetic energy fist that rose out of the deck. His semi-rifle was back in his hand as he began to open fire. He hit Owl a few times before suddenly the sound of Heavy Machine Gun fire erupted throughout the room. Finishing off Owl, granting Gamo an assisted kill. However, he too was finished off by the rapid paced bullets coming from none other than Misheru.

Gamoden respawned, this time right outside of the room Misheru had just killed him in, and he looked in to see her still there. However, she was currently occupied with Arcana. He figured this would be an awesome time for payback as he brought out his own Heavy Machine Gun. The drum of the machine gun already spinning as he unleashed a fury of bullets of his own, taking down Misheru and Arcana. He paused for a moment to take a look at his My Panel. Kcihi's lead that he had started with as per usual, had not only held, but grown. Arcana and Owl nearly tied for second. This was the general chaos of the Battle Royal match. Just as the name implied, there were no real rules, and no teams. It was an all out war.

They all knew all too well where Kichi always was on this map, that was never the problem. The challenge was getting there without getting killed by someone else beforehand. Still, taking out the "King" was the best way to rack up points in this match, so that was Gamo's plan. However before that…

"Gah!" he yelled out in surprise as a psychokinetic fist rose up from the ground, smacking into the wall defeated. This time from none other than Mantis.

That was also standard for this time of match, hold still for too long, focused on your Map or the scoreboard and you were a good as dead. Back on the plan of attack now, Gamo respawned and immediately ran up the stairs, trying his best to avoid anyone. However, just like all best laid plans… they never fully work out right. He came face to face with Tao. He would be clever this time. He "dashed" away from Tao, dodging his opponent's bullets as best he could, though as usual a few hit. He rounded a corner into a room and brought out his Twin Blades yet again. He held their tips close together, sparks crackling off of the blades as he prepared the powerful charge attack. The chains wrapped around his wrists and he brought them crashing down in a powerful downward strike, defeating him with in one shot.

"That always happens, now to get Kichi," Gamo muttered as he continued on his way.

It seemed luck was finally on his side as he managed to reach the chute that led upward and to the area he knew Kichi was at. His semi-rifle was at the ready as he dashed in and opened fire. Much to his fortune, or possibly his misfortune, Kichi was already engaged with Owl. The two of them were jumping around, guns blazing as they maneuvered up and down the ramp and the area above. Right as Gamo reached them, Kichi managed to finish off Owl with his Spy Dagger. Gamoden opened fire, being sure dodge Kichi's attack as best he could. In the end, Kichi jumped down the chute at the very end, falling down to the lower level.

"You're not getting away!" Gamoden yelled as he quickly jumped down after him. As he landed he turned just in time to see Kichi get defeated by not only Sunlight, but also Misheru. "Darn it, he was mine!"

Gamoden's Heavy Machine Gun roared to life as he tried to take both of them out. He succeeded in defeating Misheru. He was just about to defeat Sunlight too. However, Kichi respawned and came after them with a vengeance. Finishing off Sunlight with his "Pimp rifle" his nickname for his special golden semi-rifle. His attention then turned back to Gamo and before he could find a counter to it, Kichi had closed the gap and the Spy Dagger finished him off. The chaos eventually concluded with Kichi winning with the required 70 points before the timer on the match ran out. However, he didn't win by much, the person in last place was only ten points behind.

"Awesome match guys! You all are really improving!" Kichi stated with a smile on his face as they all appeared back in waiting room. "So what now? You guys want to go again?"

"Sure, why not? That was fun!" Sunlight yelled in agreement, right next to Gamoden's ear.

"Ow… Dawn, volume please…," Gamo muttered, accidentally falling back into real life names, his right hand held up to his ear.

"Sorry…," she replied with a sigh. Sunlight had always had a very hard time controlling the volume of her voice, even in virtual reality, it seemed that was the case.

The general consensus of the group, was indeed to do another round of the Battle Royal. However, this time they decided to switch the stage to Neoniac. It was not long before the stage below the Waiting Room had changed. The large square office building visible through the glass floor they all walked on as they optimized their equipment and entered their names. Soon after, they were all transported to the stage below.

"Start! Show me your S4!" came the voice and the match was on.

They all raced toward the center, where immediately an all out fire fight began. Gamoden and Misheru's Heavy Machine Guns ripped to life as the bullets flew. Kichi unloaded with his semi-rifle. Tao and Arcana with their Rail Guns from the that surrounded the square middle of the stage. One of the Rail gun shots sent Mantis crashing into the wall, the first kill was Arcana's. However, Kichi dispatched him immediately afterward with a one-shot stab from his Spy Dagger. Allowing Kichi to claim his typical place as "King" for the time being.

Suddenly things started to go wrong though… a flash of light could be seen and static heard briefly. The scenery around them all flicked and they all ceased firing. The static sound returned and the flashing became more and frequent, as if the very stage on which they stood was fading in and out of existence. The scenery then began to get darker, as if someone was dimming all of the lights.

"Guys! We should leave now! Something is clearly wrong here…" Kichi stated, worried about the situation.

"It's no good! I've been trying ever since it started!" Owl yelled out in response, looking around warily.

Gamoden accessed his My Panel only to confirm for himself what Owl had said, the screen that had the Leave Room function was filled with 1's and 0's. As if the function no longer worked, or wasn't even there. Suddenly, the screen he was just looking at changed to reveal the Daemon viruses head, leering and laughing at him.

"Heads up guys! This is Clan Reaper's doing!" Gamoden yelled, his Heavy Machine Gun back in hand, his eyes darted around looking for the Chaser.

Suddenly, the Daemon virus appeared, floating down from the ceiling, stopping in the very middle of the stage. His scythe swung and he plunged it into the floor the field. It phased through, black energy emerging from the floor. The virus then brought his scythe out and from the ground, as if summoned rose a female. dressed in what looked like a racing suit and helmet. Though the suit was black and the detailing was all red. The visor of the helmet was pulled down, but one could tell the gender by the figure of the Esper.

"This match has been taken over by Clan Reaper! The rules of the match have been rewritten into a Chaser Match! Reaper BloodyDeath presiding. Bring It!" announced none other than the Daemon virus.

The members of Clan Shinsei knew they were all in trouble now. They made to get away, running for the sanctuary of the side rooms. However, they all noticed as soon as they reached them, that the rooms were sealed off. Leaving on the center square and the crossed pathways available to them. Not only had the Reapers altered the match rules. They had changed the entire setup of the stage too. There truly was no where to run and hide.

"Nothing to do but fight now!" Sunlight yelled as she charged forward, her Earth Bomber in hand as she lobbed it at the Chaser.

The explosion was actually effective, it sent the female reaper back aways at least. However, it didn't stop as she immediately charged forward with a weapon none of them had ever seen before. It was like a metallic gauntlet, similar to the gauntlet of the Counter Sword. However, it was sleeker and had wicked looking blades on the back of the fingers. With nowhere for Sunlight to run, her only real defense gone, the reaper soon closed in a blast of energy at close range immediately ending Sunlight who let out a horribly pained scream.

"What on Earth is that!" Gamoden yelled as he watched the wicked weapon quickly dispatch Sunlight.

"I have no idea!" Owl shouted as he opened fire, his rail gun managing to hit the chaser and knock her back.

However, that only seemed to agitate the Chaser and she set her sights for Owl. She charged forward, she quickly feinted to dodge another blast from Owl's rail gun. However, she got nailed by Kichi's sending her forward, only to get closer to Owl. Owl's yell sounded just as painful as Sunlight's as he too was defeated with what looked like a simple blast of energy at close range. She then quickly closed in on Kichi and succeeded in doing the same thing.

"That has to be the most powerful weapon I've ever seen…," Gamoden stated as he watched the Chaser quickly dispatch Tao, Arcana and Mantis.

Gamoden seemed frozen on the spot, his heart racing, fear paralyzing him as he watched his fellow clan members being destroyed by this vicious weapon. There was no charge up to it, just a simple blast of energy and that was it, they were finished. He had noted that unlike every other match, there were no targets and no timer. No brief end of round reprieve came this time. This was the reaper's game now, and they had no choice but to play.

"Eat this!" Gamoden yelled running around the corner and unleashing his Heavy Machine Gun in a barrage of bullet, doing his best to slow down the Chaser.

Much like all of the other ones though, it seemed to do nothing but make the Chaser angry as she began to close the distance. Gamo switched to his Twin Blades and using the jumping attack, knocked the Chaser back briefly as she got close, her energy attack falling just short of the mark. However, he didn't get lucky twice a she lunged forward and the energy struck him. He knew before he even felt anything that it was all over.

"Gaaaaaahhh!" Gamoden yelled out in agony as the energy seemed to course through his body, causing pain throughout as he faded out of the room.

It would not be long before the remaining combatants were defeated as well . All nine of the members laid on the lobby floor, seemingly unconscious after their most brutal encounter with Clan Reaper yet. However, this time things were different, they were not the only ones laid out on the floor. There were at least ten others who were in the same situation. As they all slowly came to, Gamoden pushed himself up off of the floor. His attention turning to his My Panel where he could now see clearly that there was a message from Leo. He raised himself to a seated position on the floor and opened the message. It read:

Understood, the System Administrators are preparing counter measures for when that happens. The data tracers have been added as requested. Contact me immediately regarding any further developments.

Leo

Pentavision System Administrator

"Looks like they better get a move on on the counter measures then," Gamoden stated with a sigh as he pulled his My Panel off of his wrist to his lap and began to type up a reply. His reply read:

There have been major developments, we need to speak with you and the other System Administrators immediately.