Chapter One

Invitation

It was the first day of Senior year, the entirety of the school was in the gymnasium to hear the student council president's commencement speech. The president was droning about working hard and team spirit, the same speech everyone had heard from authority figures at some point during their school life, and most could probably recite the general idea off the top of their heads.

Tetsuo was zoning out the speech entirely, looking at e-mails from his friends, wondering if it was worth the trouble of diving. As he looked round, one of his class mates caught his eye. Mikohina Sayu, the class representative for 3-A. He shot her a smile and a wave, before sending her a message.

MESSAGE: Sayu-kun, how was your summer break, did you do anything exciting?

REPLY: I had a really good summer actually; I went to Osaka to see my grandmother and met a lot of new friends. Meet with me after school at the game shop in town, I have something exciting to show you.

REPLY: Okay, I'll meet you there around 4ish, I have to grab some soy sauce for my mother.

The short exchange between the two of them ended, deciding not to dive, Tetsuo loaded a video and began to watch, trying to look like he was paying attention to what was being said.

The rest of the day passed without incident, the teachers all game the same speech about dedication to study and achievement, how this was their final year of school before some of them went on to college. He was also briefed on the year's curriculum as well as their responsibilities to their lower classmen.

Finally, the bell rang for the end of school. Tetsuo picked up his bag, and made his way to the bus stop. As he was waiting for the bus, he couldn't help but wonder what Sayu had to show him which she couldn't show him at school. The bus soon came, and he made his way into the local shopping district to pick up his mother's soy sauce and meet Sayu. Shortly after he sat down, the bus arrived at Tetsuo's destination, and he disembarked.

Tetsuo quickly popped into the convenience store, picked up his mother's things and made his way to the game shop. When he arrived, Sayu was waiting out front for him. The two greeted each other and made their way inside the shop.

"So, Sayu-kun, what was it you wanted to show me?" Tetsuo asked casually

"Before I do, direct link with me, it's very important that this is kept secret." Sayu responded in a hushed tone, handing him the other end of her cable.

Tetsuo, plugged it in, and almost immediately he received a pop-up notification to receive the file Brain_ . He didn't accept right away, not because he didn't trust Sayu, they had been good friends since lower school, but because he had never heard of anyone who used this program.

What is it? Tetsuo asked over the link

It's a very special kind of game, my cousin gave it to me in Osaka and it's the most fun I've ever had. Sayu replied

Okay, gimmie a minute to install it Tetsuo said.

He pushed the install button on the notification, and the link wire seemed to burst into flame as the new game installed itself into his neuro-linker. Soon it was done, and he received the notification 'WELCOME TO THE ACCELERATED WORLD'.

Accelerated World? Tetsuo queried Sayu

Oh good, it installed properly. Now I can tell you everything you need to know for now. Brain Burst is a very special game, it accelerates the user's brain to 1,000 times it's speed and sends them into a VRMMO where they fight for the ability to keep accelerating, with the eventual goal of reaching level 10. Every user of Brain Burst has a unique avatar which the program creates from the user's mental scars. Sayu explained

So, how do I open it to play? I can't find a launcher anywhere. Tetsuo asked

I'll have to explain the rest to you tomorrow, tonight; you're going to have a scary dream while the program creates your duel avatar. So for now, disconnect from the internet, and don't switch it back on until you get to school tomorrow. That part is really important. Sayu told him

So, you've stuck me with a game I can't launch, will cause me to have a nightmare when I go to sleep tonight and for some unknown reason, have told me I can't even go online until I get to school tomorrow. This had better be worth it Sayu. Tetsuo stated

Oh it will be. Anyway, I've got to go, meet with me tomorrow inside the school gates before classes start and I'll finish my explanation, I have some preparations to make in game. Sayu said as she disconnected her cable from Tetsuo's neuro-linker.

Placing her cable away, she swung her bag on her back and dashed out of the store, shooting Tetsuo a wave, a wink and a smile over her shoulder as she went. Tetsuo sighed, disabled the internet connection on his neuro-linker and headed home, feeling anxious out the coming night's dream.

Tetsuo soon arrived at his door and entered his modest home, calling out to his mother that he had returned from school. Hearing no reply, he placed his mother's soy sauce in the cupboard and went to his room to start on the day's homework. An hour and a half later he was finished, he placed his books back into his bag and headed for the shower before he changed into his regular clothes.

The evening passed uneventfully, he watched an old 2D film on his computer and read some of his manga, mainly to stave off the bredom of being unable to dive or call his friends. The evening soon turned into night, Tetsuo looked at the time on his HUD and decided to go to bed, realising he probably wouldn't have the best night's sleep. He changed into his sleepware and laid on top of his bedsheet, waiting to fall asleep.

Tetsuo's eyes shot open, though it wasn't much help, he was surrounded by an empty blackness, he tried to call out to someone to no avail, his cries were muffled. Getting to his feet he moved to walk around, when out of the blackness, heavy chains bound him tight, the blackness closed in on him, the chains pulling in solid metal walls to box him in, followed by a loud, dull clang as the walls closed in together, appearing to seal him in, he was trapped. He could hear voices outside, telling himm he was a good-for-nothing bum like his late father, that he'd amount to nothing, that he was a disappointment to his family. The vices got louder, comparing him to his successful older brother, then he heard Sayu's voice,.drowning out the rest of them "Look at you, you've trapped yourself, you'll never escape the box you've placed yourself in, you may think you've changed, but to everyone at school you're always going to be a deliquent good-for-nothing, trapped in your little self centred box. I know you like me, I've seen you looking, but girls like me don't go out with deliquents like you, I nly hang around with you because it means the rest of the scum at school will leave me alone." A black ooze began to fill the box, seeping in from every gap possible, covering Tetsuo, finally drowning him. Tetsuo was panicing, he screamed once more, protesting his change from deliquent to star pupil, protesting he'd succed at life, screaming defiance at all of the nay sayers and peple who's doubted him, his scream broke the box, the ooze dissipated, the chains dropped around his feet. A light appeared ahead of him, he began to run, run past all of the voices, reaching toward the light, willing himself to get more speed, to get there faster, to accelerate beyond every barrier in his way, then as he reached the light, mere centimeters from his finger tips, he let out one last triumphant roar and jumped toward it.

Tetsuo shot up in bed, he had broken out in a cold sweat, his alarm was buzzing in his ear. He looked around, we was back in his bedroom, on his bed. The time on his HUD was displaying 7:30am. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Tetsuo got out of bed and got ready for school. After his dream last night, he couldn't wait to hear what Sayu had to say about Brain Burst, about his dream and about the Accelerated World.