A/N

Idea for this came from me reading the Amazon preview of Dead Space: Catalyst, where Istvan claims that some colonists are "playing the game wrong (or words to that effect). Words spoken near the dome...as in a wall. The fourth wall, perhaps? I don't know, but it gave me this idea anyway.

Update (04/09/2013): Made brother age corrections.


How You Play the Game

"There's playing it wrong…they're playing it wrong!"

"Yes Istvan…of course they are."

Jensi Sato didn't know if he should humour his brother or ignore him. He wasn't a shrink after all-a shrink would have taken Istvan off Vingauga long ago and stuck him in some remote space station built to contain crazies like him. But as a brother, it was his duty to keep him safe. Keep him secret from the colony. To try and contain his outbursts of symbols, patterns and the desire to make things whole.

"They're playing it wrong!"

And in recent times, claims of "they" (whoever "they" were) playing it wrong.

What "it" was, Istvan also had no idea about.

"The controller," his brother whimpered. "Your controller is flawed…"

Sighing, Jensi got up from his desk and made his way over to the younger boy, huddled in their habitation unit's corner like a child. Heck, in a way, he was a child.

"Come on Istvan," the younger brother said. "What's wrong?"

"They're playing it wrong!"

The words had been screamed before. But what hadn't happened before was Istvan springing up, sprinting towards the desk and grabbing a pen and some paper.

"Istvan, what are you-…?"

"The symbols…need the symbols."

I should sedate him, Jensi told himself. It'll save me paper, save me ink,

"A…B…X…Y…"

And my sanity as well.

Istvan continued drawing, repeatedly drawing the same symbols in the same pattern, though "symbols" was too generous a term. They were simple letters-A, B, X, and Y in a diamond shape, and an L and an R above it. Kind of like a controller layout.

"They're playing it wrong...the system isn't whole."

"So, er…can you make it whole?"

"No!"

"…didn't think so."

The sedation option was getting more and more appealing. Whatever point Istvan was trying to convey had gone out the airlock long ago, but as he tore up the paper he was writing on, the point had reached the point of asphyxiation. Jensi watched as the crumpled ball entered the bin, its pitcher mumbling about controllers needing batteries, paying to use an online service and most terrifying of all to him apparently, a red ring of death.

"Okay Istvan, that's enough…"

It clearly wasn't. Because no sooner had the first ball of paper hit the bin, a second ball seemed fated to follow it.

"Playing it wrong…need to make it right…"

Yeah, you do that.

Granted, the paper had yet to be scrunched up at all. But looking at the symbols and their outline, Jensi didn't see any other hope for it. The layout was practically the same, only that the A, B, X and Y figures had been replaced with a triangle, square, circle and X. Istvan seemed quite happy at first, but before long, it too had followed its counterpart, its pitcher still moaning that the game wasn't being played right.

Istvan hoped it would end. But then a third piece of paper hit the table.

Oh, son of a …

"Make it whole…" Istvan whispered. "Play it right…"

What his elder brother was sketching, Jensi couldn't be sure of, but it faintly looked like a keyboard given how the letters were arranged. Sighing, he reached out, for his brother and/or his 'masterpiece.' He'd given him time. He'd given him patience. But Istvan had another thing coming if he thought his brother was going to stand around and wait for him to sketch a keyboard, let alone the rest of a computer.

"Not enough!" his brother yelled suddenly. "The memory isn't enough! The game isn't being played right! I can't play it!"

Screaming like a crazed bat and acting about as blind as one, Istvan threw the third piece of paper at the bin, and missed by an astronomical unit. Sobbing, he collapsed into the desk's chair.

"Not enough…can't play it…not whole…"

Without a word, Jensi hugged him. For all of Istvan's faults, he was still his brother. Nothing could change that. Even as his brother looked up at him, his eyes unusually red, he kept hugging him.

"I have it…make it whole, brother…"

Jensi withdrew. In part out of surprise that Istvan had addressed him directly. In part due to the sudden glow he saw in his eyes. But for the most part, he drew back because of the two letters that had suddenly appeared in his mind. Letters that for some reason filled him with unspeakable dread.

Letters that were WU.

And yet…he felt whole…