Chapter 05: Rogue of Malice
He clenched and unclenched his fists and felt the strength they had on them. He stood up and much to his amazement, the leg that had been subjected to the metal braces doesn’t feel as though it had one.
With a light swoosh, he made a kick and then he positioned himself straight again.
“My body… it’s… it’s healed?” Terrified of this fact, he went on and dialed a number on the comm list.
After four rings, his Uncle Faust, eyes filled with a dark layer underneath, answered the call.
Rex was about to say something when the man on the other line spoke irritably, “What do you want at this late an hour?”
Rex felt puzzled as to why the sudden change in his attitude. Before, Uncle Faust had been waiting for any news about him but now, he was a man whose irritated by just having him call this late an hour. His heart that seemingly had undergone a change he wasn’t even aware of himself, felt that this change in attitude was abrupt and abnormal.
“Uncle Faust… I…” Rex tried to explain and start all over again but before he could even say the next part of his speech, he was already cut by Faust’s sharp stare.
“Rex, right now, I am in an important breakthrough so if you have nothing good to tell me, please refrain from disturbing me from now on. I am researching something very important and you will be informed once it is complete.”
“B-But Uncle Faust…”
“Just follow my advice, Rex. Right now, you are disturbing me.’
These words felt like specially sharp daggers to Rex.
The call was cut and he was left there staring at nothing. He was in shock, wondering what happened to his once caring and overly worried Uncle Faust.
This commutative change was unprecedentedly too sudden that, to the Rex at the moment, was a shock that was on a completely different level. He felt his chest hurt, he felt abandoned and alone… seated there petrified, eyes trembling, hands shaky and unsteady from the shock, Rex tried to work his mind to patch through everything that’s happening.
“Uncle’s expression…” he recalled the angry look on Faust’s face and knew that it wasn’t just a façade. He was ultimately annoyed by Rex for some reason.
He looked at his hands and then to the list of names on his list. In fact, there wasn’t even much to look at and even the call from AG earlier had been from an untraceable number that he can’t call back.
He walked towards the gate, looking out for the house in front of his. He had been warned not to get in touch with anyone in this whole neighborhood.
The deal he had made with AG had been one that entailed him to be alone in the first place so why should he feel sad? Walking back towards the house, Rex took a long cold bath and then opened the [email protected] to tune in on Terroa Day Today.
There, he saw Kathleen Brew.
She was excited. Extremely so. And as the headline beside her head says in red flickering bold letters [EXCLUSIVE], Rex was instantly curious.
Kathleen Brew anchored the game-exclusive show on TV called Terroa Day Today. This show had always featured the biggest and latest significant news about Terroa. That said, Rex tried to think that everything is just temporary and thus focused on the things at hand in front of him.
With the show just about to end, Rex tuned in.
“Kathleen, what is this exclusive scoop you’ve been talking about earlier?” Brad, her partner and rival in the same desk, ask in curiosity.
Aside from him, only a select few are actually aware of the real ‘scoop’ that Kathleen was talking about. And although he was feigning curiosity in front of the camera, he was doing a good job with it.
In the studio, with cameras directed at her face and staffs curious to her said ‘EXCLUSIVE’ scoop, Kathleen beamed a big smile as she took a secret glance to the director behind her teleprompter.
She gave him a meaningful look and a frown that the director found very alarming considering Kathleen’s temperament and her authority.
“Right.” She said and reported. “As many of you know, there had been a massive event that happened in Terroa lately.”
“Are you talking about the Grand Quest?”
“It is indeed.” Kathleen enthusiastically said this part and then, with a slide at the side of her face, a panel showed a fear-inducing fight between two characters.
She said, “Yesterday, that’s three days ago in Terroa, all players logged in at the time experienced a very special phenomena where an event actually triggered a reveal of the grand plot of the game.”
“Oh! I heard about it!” Brad chuckled. “Posts all over the net had been buzzling about this ‘Siva’ and the way he was connected to the three Primordial Gods of the Terran Universe that ultimately had something to do with why the alien demons are attacking the planet.”
“That’s not all,” Kathleen cut in. “According to my sources, this said Grand Quest is but a small part of the real Grand Quest that ultimately leads to the destruction of Terroa!”
“Whoa! There is actually something like that?!”
“Yes indeed.” When Kathleen nodded, a video of an intense battle played out. “THIS is the exclusive scoop I got for our viewers and I have a full six hour event of this video available for you guys in a special screening only in this channel.”
“I’m not a hard core player myself but,” Brad faced her. “Just seeing this preview, boy, makes my blood boil like a hot kettle. Well, there you go folks. The good times in Terroa are ultimately changing and we are the ones who are going to bring you the news in its freshest state and the latest fashion.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow, guys.”
“I’m Brad Goldini and this is my partner, Kathleen Brew…”
“This is Terroa Day Today, signing off.”
When the segment was cut, a date and a time were displayed in the holo-screen.
The intended showing of the exclusive cut was to be made tomorrow night, at the start of the airing of the Terroa Day Today and will last until tomorrow, with commercials and such.
It was like a long movie.
Rex turned off the [email protected] and lay there on the sofa for a few moments, staring at the blankness of the wall in front of him as his mind was unable to think of anything else.
Because… his eyes didn’t betray him, it was as clear as day. On the video that he saw, as short as it was, is undoubtedly his face battling Hagrid.
And he, not knowing anything that had happened on that fight was abnormal.
He gripped his head and leaned forward. Horrified.
Just now, he remembered when it all began. It all started when he was called in by Cedric and told him that he will not be able to get out of the arena.
He remembered telling himself that he will kill them all… and at the moment that he drowned in the fires of rage and hate, he saw a person.
“It wasn’t my face!” He gasped when he recalled the moment he was about to lose himself. “That’s not me, it never was… it was Rogue!*”
As soon as Rex muttered the name, a cold malicious feeling could be felt caressing his nape… a feeling he trusted in all his years battling in the streets.
(*Siva and Rogue met at the end of Volume 2)
“How is this possible? How can a character steal my body like that?”
Rex was trembling, wide-eyed covering his face with his hand. Fear embraces his heart. He was terrified by the idea of an NPC, a computer program, shutting his senses off and overtaking his avatar, feeding his mind with foreign memories.
But more than that, he was terrified of the idea that he was forcefully made unconscious by that computer program!
Yet before long, he was already forcing himself to stay calm. No, in fact, he actually found himself in a more surprised state as he was already calming with only a few moments of these ominous thoughts.
“Thinking about how it happened, I might have been forcefully ejected from the artificial neural network and was trapped into a separate server… aside from that, there was also the possibility of me still being in the game but was dragged into a ‘quest’ and was held there for the sake of its progression while Rogue took over my body.”
Thinking about it, from the first time they have met, Rex, as Siva, already felt that there was something disturbingly alarming about the man.
It was a feeling you get when in front of a criminal whose murdered countless lives by his own hands.
There was a presence of a murderer around him that made even the ‘Siva’ who can put men in the toes of fear think of the man called Rogue as someone really dangerous.
Now that he had seen the video and recalled whose face in that dark world on the other side belonged to, he was positive that Rogue was not a ‘player’ but was instead an NPC.
–an NPC that had something BIG to do with this talk about the Grand Quest!
As he panted there on the sofa, he joined his left hand to hold his head as an agonizing pain suddenly began to drill his mind.
It was this same feeling again, but worst.
Even as he was seated there, he could feel the world around him revolve. Faster. Faster. Faster and faster...
“It’s this feeling again!” Rex felt the fear in his heart.
With a quick movement, he swiped the air and quickly made his finger press on the emergency dial.
A quick access to a person to call immediately pops in and the name [GRAHAM] in big letters instantly appeared with his contact info in it.
Rex did not waste any more time and he punched the hovering holographic panel.
There was no call window that emerged but there was a red blinking message info that appeared at the top right corner of Rex’s display panel.
Help was on its way.
Eyes closed tightly, he fought the drilling feeling that felt like his brain was being fried from the inside.
Cold sweat formed together drenching his body. The beads of sweat in his forehead now converged into rivers that flowed down his face and neck.
Breathing unsteadily, the short pants in between was indication that his bodily balance was off. Rex was constantly fighting with this looming feeling of the agonizing sensation of being in a repeating loop.
Again, his nemesis had appeared.
His nose began to bleed. He was vomiting. His body started to shake violently yet still had his sense of self and leaned back on the sofa, ripping his shirt off to at least relieve himself of the sense of suffocation.
Just now, he felt like his body was really burning from the inside, like his bones were made up of coal and his blood is lava.
Who knows how long it took them to arrive.
A screeching sound of wheels against the road echoed outside the gates and sounds of hurried footsteps and the hulky gruff voice of Graham rang outdoors.
“We’re on it!”
“Don’t forget the BOX. It’s Father’s orders.”
“I have it.”
It was at that moment that the gate of the townhouse banged open as the hulking British Twins, Hank and Frank McCullers, rushed in towing behind none other than Doctor Martinez and Graham himself.
The night was deep and this commotion alerted the sleeping residents of the townhouse.
Some of them peeped out on their windows while there are some who went out to see what the commotion is all about. Those who had heard some of the rumors couldn’t help but whisper in pity.
“Poor kid, so young and yet he’s dying.”
“So it’s that kid again huh?”
“I heard he’s got broken bones and a weak body?”
“Well, I heard the other kids’ his age who managed to befriend the lad speaking in whispers. They said that he had a very unique constitution and that when he exerts himself even just a tiny bit, his condition worsens.”
“Ah! What a poor lad…”
“Yeah, really a pity. Good thing he had a family that had the means and money to be able to call such a group of doctors to monitor his health.”
The neighbors began to talk about him but they did not dare to let their voices out louder than whispers in fear of the hulking man in the black suit. In fact, even if those twin doctors have a more approachable presence, they still didn’t dare to make their whispers heard by them.
All they could do was peek from afar and then pry with their ears as wide open as they can.
Inside, when Graham saw Rex, he immediately knew what was happening.
The McCullers twin set up the same things as before as they tried to inject relaxing liquids on Rex’s forearm.
Doctor Martinez on the side attached a few sensors and pads on Rex’s body and then activated the BOX that he carried with him from the car.
The BOX was as large as the square of his leg and as heavy as half of his weight. But because of the sense of emergency, he was able to carry it with one hand and brought it alongside the twin doctors.
Rex began to scream and his voice echoed outside the house into the listening crowd.
Majority of them began to gasp and there are even some of them who tried to call for other professional help only to frown when they realize that their modes of communication were somehow blocked.
No signal came in the area and even the dial tones for their Video Calls were also a static sound.
From across Rex’s house, Matt peeked off their gate and he clenched his fists as he stopped his sister from coming towards Rex’s house.
He looked down and with a frown, lightly shook his head towards his sister.
“Don’t. At all costs… don’t.”
His expression grave, Anna understood and she lightly gave him a nod. All they could do was to wish that Rex will be alright. They already knew who Dex –no, Rex Kingsley was and also had an idea as to what kind of deal he had made to save his brother.
Everything in Terroa, everything around him, all of it was, from the very beginning, wasn’t a game.
However, on Matthew’s heart, he does not want to let things slide as it was. He was, after all, Rex’s friend and as a friend, he just can’t let Rex suffer this kind of torment without doing anything.
Swiping the air, a holo-panel appeared in his vision.
In it was a contact ID. The person who owned that contact information used his in-game name and as such, Matthew –Volt– also gave his own in return.
Looking at the gate in front their house, Matthew bid a frown and clenched his fists. He pulled his sister back to their house, enduring the fact that he was still powerless to help his friend alone.
“But rest assured I will definitely help you, Rex.”