Hi again readers. This is to make up for my month and a half writers block. This chapter is delving into our protagonists mind even more.

Chapter 6

It's been a week since I visited Aracadia, and I haven't been back on since. All over the news there have been multiple reports of players getting sent to Intensive Care units, ranging from nerve damage to comas to deaths, rumors spreading that the cause is from various online games. The reports all saying the same, "damaged data, possible epidemic, unexplained connections between the victims" and all this has been happening since the start. Am I infected? If I am, what will happen to me? Will it affect me offline? My thoughts freeze for a second, trying to comprehend all this. 'I need some air' I grab my coat and walk out, feeling the cool winter breeze brush past me. I have no destination, walking through the early morning city among the rush of those on their way to work. I decided against going to Chinatown, the markets would be far too loud to think. 'Do I really want too think though' I know pushing it aside wouldn't help, but still, the thought of a virus that might kill me made me squirm. Without realizing it, I had walked myself into the middle of a park within the city. A deep breath to relax my nerves and I drop onto my back on the grass. The open blue sky unobscured by buildings and the cool grass helped me forget about the situation, lulling me into a quiet sleep.

My mom was a kind person, and she would take her time with any problem, especially if the problem had to do with me or my dad. A skinned knee, a scrapped elbow, a fight at school, a nightmare. She was also easily scared, fussing over me whenever I had gotten hurt. I remember her voice too, a soft, withheld voice that always spoke volumes of caring. So very much unlike my dad. He was a silent business man, constantly away in far off countries to negotiate. His voice was deep and sharp. I rarely saw him, and can if only maybe remember a few words he had once told me. what were they? oh, 'know your friends, know your love, know your world.' I don't really understand what that means, but that is my one real memory of him. 'know your friends... Ciel... Thebes... Aracadia. Know your love...' The wind is echoing in my ears now.

Before my eyes I see the trees, and with each movement I'm flying past them. The quick push of my leg sends me over a tree, a twist in the air helps to move me into reach of a branch that I grasp and swing from to the ground. I roll and continue, jumping again and twist so my feet land against the bark of another tree, jumping again and sending myself towards another tree, repeating till the world is a blur. All I feel is the rush of air, and I come to a realization. This rush of air is what I need. A rush… S4 league gave me the chance to feel that. Companionship was one reason why I started playing. The sense of family that had left me long ago was their with Kamichi. The rush was why I stayed. But what about now? The virus is...

I wake up abruptly, catapulting up from the grass and looking around. I'm still in the park, and the sun has moved behind the clouds. A cold speck lands on my hands and when I look up, all I see is white. A closer look at the park and I see that it had only started snowing a few minutes ago, but nonetheless I shiver, as I have only my jeans and a thin wind breaker on. Standing and turning my eyes skyward, The snow enchants me, and I imagine what esper city would look like if it snowed as well. Would connest have my favorite tree covered in snow as well? A chuckle escapes me, and I head back to my apartment. I have my answer though. I'm going to continue playing. And maybe DaCiel will do something for me if I get her an early christmas present.

Who are they in real life? DaCiel told me she was from a small countryside home in France, but moved into a boarding school in America. And Thebes is from Egypt, and is currently in college in England. Why am I doing with myself? I set out for my home, so I can warm up and keep myself from all this contemplating. Aracadia I knew very little about. Even his voice was just disguised behind a voice modifier. He never even gave a hint of what he does in his normal life. Maybe he's an AI. Probably not. The white is starting to blur the world around me, and I notice no one is outside, and the wind is picking up. I can't really tell where I'm going now, and I'm stumbling and slipping on the cold wet concrete. The street lamps are flickering on now, and I notice they aren't the same as the ones around my neighborhood. Instead of being tall and having an arm that held the light over the streets, these looked like old fashioned lamps, with dull orange tungsten instead of the bright white flourescents. A large building easily 4 stories is now in front of me, with a wide open courtyard and people walking through the snow. I peer closer and all the people are wearing similar black coats with green ties and either slacks for the men, and skirts with leggings for the women. Shaking my head, I lean on a brick wall with a wire fence atop it. A cold placard is digging into my shoulder, and I look at it carefully. 'Delphian Boarding school' it bore in its rusted state. I guess I had wandered in the wrong direction and landed myself in a dull looking school. I sigh and stand straight, brushing some snow off my shoulder and looking towards the students. My luck wasn't the best today or even this week it seemed. I wasn't going to trust myself with finding my way home in this weather, so I bit my tongue and ventured into the school building. If I'm lucky, I can just ask someone a way back towards chinatown. If I get kicked out, then I'll just see if I can backtrack to the park.

Inside the building I notice the older look of the hallway and the openness of the 'lobby'. 'I'm in luck' I think as I walk up to a desk with a girl in the same coat and tie sitting behind it. She seemed a little bit busy, but she probably could take few minutes to help a lost man find his way home. I stood in front of the desk, clearing my throat lightly to catch her attention. What I noticed first was her dual colored eyes. Deep brown on the outer edges that slowly turned to a golden brown as it got closer to the center. She gave me an apathetic look before saying in a very deliberate voice "What, are you lost?"

"Yes, in fact, I am lost" I said back in an attempt to mimic my dad from way back. Her eye twitched a lil, most likely from annoyance, before she sighed out loud and pulled her hand through her shoulder length brunette hair. "Of course you are" she muttered under her breath, and I started to notice a strange similarity to another voice. I couldn't really say who's though, but I know the voice from somewhere. "Look" I said "if you can point me to chinatown, then I can hopefully find my way home."

"chinatown is 4 miles the opposite direction, and I don't think you would make it half way that far with this snowstorm right now" She replied. "But I have to get home. Something important came up" I half-lied to her. Her glare sent a shiver down my spine, and I decided to choose my next words clearly, otherwise I'd after venture towards my home without any idea where I was going. "Is there anything you can do to atleast help?" I asked. I was a little desperate to get home, and this situation was helping to give me a few things to occupy my mind with. "And why would I help a stranger? I don't even know your name, let alone why you are out in the snow wandering into a private school" point taken. I could atleast humor her a little, right?

"Fine then, my name is Jack, Jack Mickel. And I was out before it started to snow, I just happened to fall asleep in the park and woke up when the snow started falling" I was calm when I told her this, yet I had a feeling she was hiding something from me. "Fair enough I guess. I'm Mary, and if you'd like, I can see about lending you a coat as long as you return it later" she got up and walked down the hall. I followed behind her, admiring the various display cases holding awards and achievements for a wide assortment of things. I stopped when Mary stopped in front of a door and looked around, turning towards me and saying in a whisper to keep an eye out. I nodded and she disappeared behind the door, and I stood with my back to the door, keeping look out as my cohort took her time to find me something to wear in this weather. It took 5 minutes before she reappeared, holding onto a back of clothes in one arm and locking the door with the other. She thrust the bag into my arms before pointing me to an empty room, saying she'll be look out now. I nodded and walked in, noticing the rows of tables and the large desk at the far end of the room. I checked inside the bag and grinned a little. "A full uniform huh? Must come in sets I guess" I quickly discarded the wet windbreaker and jeans and T-shirt I wore and hastily threw on the white dress shirt and slacks. The coat came on next, and it all seemed to fit me just fine. "She's got a good eye" I must stop talking allowed, but I just shake my head. 'Might as well go all the way' I thought as I pull out the tie and leather shoes, taking my time to get the tie knotted beneath the collar of the dress shirt, and putting the leather shoes on one at a time and tieing them tight. I threw my wet clothes into the back, and looked at myself. I felt like I could blend right in with the students with this.

I looked out from the door and nodded to Mary, stepping out and smiling when she looked at me with shock. "Is it really needed that you have to use the entire uniform" she growled out. I laughed a little. She sounded really familiar right now, still can't say who though. "So what? All my clothes are wet, so this works out perfect" I laughed more. She placed her palm in front of her face and sighed. "Okay, I think you can go now. Just follow the street lights south til you get to a 5 way intersection and then take the right most street. That will take you straight to chinatown and the hell away from this school. You can keep the uniform if you want, I'll say the last guy miscounted the inventory" she said before walking back to her desk. I smiled and waved, she scoffed, and I was out of the building in a matter of seconds.

The snow was still falling, but not as much now. I could make out the surroundings as they appeared as an old fashioned town, not unlike where my parents and I used to live. I shake my head and continue down the sidewalk, following the lane I was on til I had found the park I was at earlier. I smiled, and continued on the directions she had given me til I was sure I was on my own street. My apartment wasn't to far away now, and my mind went back to my previous thoughts. Specifically on the identity of who Mary sounded like. Maybe DaCiel? Possibly, maybe, I highly doubted it though. DaCiel could be a bit snarky at times, but I don't think they could be the same. Who else then. Her voice was similar to someone I knew, but the way she talked was more like DaCiel then anyone else. Mystery aside, I walked up the stares and head toward my apartment quickly so I can dry my clothes and get warm.

Thats the end of this chapter. Kinda died down at the end, but then again thats mostly because its 4 A.M. and I'm tired as all get out. So please read and review, and try and convince me to stop writing at 4 in the morning.