Crystal Realm: Apocalyptic Presentiment (C.R.A.P.)

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Patrick rushed back from work that afternoon. It was a stormy afternoon, the kind that soaks you up to your underwear, turns trees roots up, and blows your neighbor's paid tv antenna.

He rushed to watch the new season of The Glorious and the Infamous, his favourite soap opera. He made some popcorn, actually, a large bucket. The tv show ended in a nerve-gripping, highly promising scene, meant to be continued next week.

''Oh My!'' Patrick cried out of excitement.

The doorbell rang.


Then Patrick remembered. All his friends were gathering that afternoon to play Crystal Realm: Apocalyptic Presentiment. He shook the sofa cushions, ridding it of spare popcorn, turned on his laptop, and rushed to the door.

He opened it. In came Rick, Marcus, and the young Katja.

''Come in dudes! Let's do this! Let's play C.R.A.P.!!! ''

And so, the odd group of friends sat in front of the laptop, looking at the screen with excitement. But, storms sometimes do more than just turn trees upside down and ruin your hair.

Ligthning struck right at Patrick and his friends.

By the time they recovered their consciousness, they realized something terrible.
They were stuck inside the game.

And they were level 1.
Marcus meticulously reviewed the outline for his psychology paper. The project would account for ninety-five percent of his final mark. It required Marcus to construct a sound thesis regarding his chosen area: conflict resolution. The thesis would be created by applying the concepts he learned in class to a conflict in the real world. For his paper, Marcus decided to deal with the conflicts individuals typically encounter in an online gaming atmosphere. He would play the role of the healer, symbolically mending the relationships of the players whilst also mending their characters. "This will be the fulcrum of my career." Marcus thought ambitiously. The excitement was almost too much.

It was a dark and stormy night, but the game was still on. Marcus and his friends were meeting at Patrick's for Crystal Realm: Apocalyptic Presentiment. They all arrived with computers ready, unintimidated by the weather outside. "Surge protectors, smurg injectors." He thought and laughed. But it was a foolish decision, one that would soon be regretted. There was a loud boom as the power went out and lightning hit the group. A surge of electricity travelled into and then out of their computers, somehow sucking each of the friends into the game.

With a throbbing headache Marcus awoke in a strange, yet familiar place. At first he thought it was some sort of dream or psychosis. The world resembled C.R.A.P. But it felt so real, and as Marcus went to check to see if his heart beating he noticed something strange about himself. 'Whoa." His eyes lit up. Although he still spoke with a masculine voice, the massive lumps on his chest suggested his form was now female. Cautiously he began bouncing up and down, curious as to the new sensations upon his chest.
Patrick woke up.
He somehow felt... weigthless. Yes, weightless was the word.

Am I dead?

He stood up and looked at his surroundings.
He was on a paradisiac place; although a bit fake and flat, but anyway... Patrick stood in the middle of luscious gardens, with flowers and trimmed trees; far in the background, a huge palace shone under the golden light of the sun.

A path right in front of him led to a large, round fountain. At the centre of the fountain, there was some sort of small temple with a bright clear crystal floating right at the centre. A woman of fancy purple and white clothing was standing at the edge of the fountain.

Patrick looked at himself. XSallyX, he read in a small grey square that popped in front of him.

''Whoa'', he heard. That was definitely Marcus' voice, but it came from some elven maiden that was jumping, apparently entertained with her anatomy.

''What?'' he said, with a very sensual, feminine soft voice. ''Is that you, Marcus?'' he asked, as he saw another grey tag upon the elven lady that said Serenity1. He- I mean she's looking so friggin hot! ,he thought. ''Hey look, I got boobs too!'' Patrick said, as he joined Serenity1 with the jumping around.

''This new voice is awesome! Boing, boing, boing!-hey, hey hey hey! Let's jump against each other in the air! Boobclaaaash...!''
Rick was soaked, and he quickly laid on the carpet so that all of the moisture would be sapped from him. It wasn't his house after all. Then he opened up the computer and quickly opened up the game. He had played on his computer many times during storms and never been affected so why start now? He grinned as the game opened up and he typed in his information so that the world would be open to him. He looked at the others. We were all ready. And then lightning struck.

Next thing Rick knew, he was standing in not his friend's room but the world of the game. He looked himself over. None of the character he created had changed. He even had the gray bar above his head that said his character name: "Ryozo." He cleared his throat and looked up to speak but saw the characters XSallyX and Serenity1 doing some interesting things.

"Hey! Stop fooling around you two!" he snapped, amazed to hear his own voice. "We need to figure out what happened and how we're gonna fix it. I didn't read the game manual, so what are we supposed to do?"
It took Katja a good hour or two to convince her father to let her go to her online friend Patrick's house to play C.R.A.P. Her innocent charm and the batting of her eyelids eventually did the trick. Her father finally gave in and allowed his daughter to go to some strange man's house to play this one game that he failed to take pleasure in. Happy as can be, Katja had ran out the door, into the rain, without waiting for her father to find his keys to the car. Though he trusted Katja would be safe.

The rain soaked her rather baggy clothing. The rain however, did not hinder her ventures to join up with her friends. She felt somewhat uncomfortable being the only girl but she considered herself more as a boy than a girl. Katja was so excited to play her new Beastfolk Monk that she power trained to level fifty. The group assembled their computers(luckily Katja ran out the door with her messenger bag that contained her laptop) and soon thunder struck and everything seemed to go black.

Katja regained her senses slowly. The first sight she took in was Patrick and Marcus's character bumping their chests together. Then Rick's snapping brought her to full attention. She examined her surroundings and saw that her friend's character names hung above their heads. She decided to look up to see if her character name was present. Sure enough it was. She looked further up and saw her class and level.

"LEVEL FRICKEN ONE!" she yelled, clearly frustrated and um. . . pissed.
''And who ever reads the friggin' game manual, you partypooper?'' XSallyX answered to Ryozo. Patrick was having such a good time with all those... anatomical wonders and bouncing around. Now he was... distracted once again.

''Hey hey hey let's go check out this chick over there!'' Patrick yelled, as he ran towards the lavishly-clad woman besides the lake.

Crystal Priestess, the gray square said above her head. XSallyX bumped against her, like held by some sort of invisible barrier.

The Crystal Priestess was ignoring XSallyX, so Patrick decided to run around with his character. He threw XSallyX to the round lake, and discovered a school of colourful fish.

''Fiiiish! Here, fishy fishy!'' XSallyX called, as she punched, and missed, at the fish. Finally she managed to hit one. A message came into Patrick's mind, saying, ''You have harmed a sacred animal. You lose 1xp''

''Oh crap!'' she said. Or he. Patrick was starting to feel very confused at the moment. And terribly in pain.

''You are running out of air. You start losing your health'', another message pointed out.

''Oh, craaap!'' XSallyX said, as she ran out of the lake. The group was gathered in front of the Crystal Priestess now, who was still looking idle.

Above XSallyX's name tag, her level said, ''Level 0''.


Once the team of four players was facing the Priestess, their bodies became frozen. They were forced to watch the Priestess secuence.
The Priestess opened her arms wide.

''Welcome to the Sacred Gardens of the Crystal Realm'' she said. ''You are the chosen ones, the only ones meant to fulfill the Prophecy'', she continued, as she closed her arms. ''I am the Crystal Priestess, Guardian of the Crystal Realm. As you know, our lands are protected by the power of the Great Sacred Crystals of the Crystal Realm. But I had... a vision. A Presentiment''

She kneeled, looking at the sky, and her eyes went white. She spread her arms again. Her voice started to echoe.

''The Presentiment.... that Darkness is upon us.... You.... must find the One Responsible for this... and save... Our Realm... please... Time is... running out... The Crystals... are already weakening.... ''

She stayed like that for some seconds.

The players recovered their movement.

Patrick felt something was added to him. He could see XSallyX's inventory in his mind. ''Wooden Bow. Weapon lvl 0 '' it said.

In Ryozo's inventory, another Wooden Bow, lvl 1was added.

In Serenity1's, a Wooden Staff, lvl 1

In AuroaTheBrave, one Iron Shortsword, lvl 1

''So. Now, wot?''
Marcus joined Patrick in a jolly, jiggly, breast bump. He couldn't lie to himself, it was fun. The body he inhabited was like that of the girls seen in skin magazines. Although the thought of inhabiting such a body was strange, Marcus found some interesting thoughts swirling seductively above his head. "I could do that. Or maybe I could try this. Maybe I should . . ." A light-bulb appeared above Serenity1's head. ". . . change my thesis! I could write a book! I could revolutionize gender studies! I could – I could . . ." Before he became swept up in all the possibilities, Rick's character, Ryozo, brought Marcus back to the reality of the situation. Well, the virtual reality anyway.

Embarrassed, a large tear-drop shape slid down alongside Serenity1's face. "S-Sorry. It's just well." He hesitated to gesture at his own breasts, but he did. "You're right though. We need to do something about this." Marcus watched, through his avatar's eyes, as XSallyX skipped off to the priestess. He, and the others followed, frozen suddenly as the in-game character began to speak.

As she spoke Marcus began to wonder if he was dreaming, and if he weren't dreaming if the woman before him was speaking the game's dialogue or an actual prophecy referring to the group of friends. He began evaluating the situation as if it were all a part of his internal psyche. Perhaps he secretly always wanted to be a woman? Maybe he was a lesbian trapped inside a man's body? Was life just a big game to him?

When the priestess finished a window opened next to where Serenity1 stood. It was an inventory screen, and in it was a level 1 staff. As he hovered his fingers over the staff he could see its various stats and attributes. There was a minor bonus to spell-power as well as a relatively low attack range. He equipped the staff and immediately in Serenity1's left hand appeared a long, scraggly staff.

Curious, Marcus probed the Priestess with some questions. "Is this real? Can you tell us how to get out?" He inquired, not knowing if he'd get any answer. No answer would be better than being de-leveled to zero like XSallyX.

Rick was a little miffed at the others, but decided to go along with the way things were going at the moment. He followed them to the woman, which XSallyX so graciously pointed out. He listened to the less than revealing dialogue the woman said, and he found himself even more irritated than before.

"You have got to be kidding me. A prophecy?" Obviously he had never even picked up a game in a while. Were they all like this anymore? All about the riddles and that sort of thing? Where was the fighting and the action?

He was given a bow, and hastily equipped it, testing the draw and nodding. It would work until he could find something better.
Throughout the whole princess sequence, AuroaTheBrave grumbled about how unfair it was being level one. After her long hours of tedious training, her character was reduce from level fifty to a meek level one. Her previous monk character was hacked and had achieved its next specialization. Upon receiving her starting equipment, a frown grew across her face.

"Ah come on! I'm a monk, I suppose to punch things" she said, interrupting her teammate's question to the princess. Almost immediately her pants caught a flame and she was granted the mute debuff. Without the ability to speak, AuroaTheBrave ran around in circles, motioning at her pants.
The Crystal Priestess stayed like that, arms open wide, white staring at the sky. No answers, no movements.

XSallyX laughed stupidly at AuroaTheBrave, who was running around on fire.


Just as everybody had a chance to equip their weapons, a sound effect, like a stormy wind, was heard.

Eight black bears were summoned right beside the adventurers. Or players, whatever suits best. Just by looking at them, one could see that these were an easy thing to get rid of. Black Bear, lvl 1, the grey tag said when one focused on them.

''OMFG!'' XSallyX yelled, as she started shooting at the bears.
Each of her shots produced a small 0.5 DMG that soon faded in the air.
Her friends seemed to be doing a bit better. 1DMG, their attacks produced.
[ALIGN=left]AuroaTheBrave immediately went to work on patting out the flames that had grew upon her pants. None of her teammates didn't seem to notice or were to busy laughing at her misfortune. Either way, she snuffed out the flames just in time for an encounter. Swiftly, she unsheathed her blade ready for battle. She was no longer silence and so let out a mighty war cry. "ARRGH! HOW COME I'M BACK TO BEING LEVEL ONE!~Nyaa." In her blind rage and frustration, she didn't realize that she made an audible meow. She ran head first into the fray, slashing at the Black Bears wildly. "NYAA-NYAA!"[/ALIGN]
And so, XSallyX and AuroaTheBrave got rid of almost all the black bears.
Some sort of strange thing was going on with the other two players. Like lag... They were not moving much.

''Hey. What's wrong with you two huh?'' XSallyX asked as she leveled up, and a beam of light from the sky illuminated her . Yes! Level ONE...! Wait... It's still crap.

Another beam fell down, over Auroa. She also leveled. LVL 2

The last two remaining black bears ran up to Ryozo and Serenity1.

XSallyX kneeled on the grass to recover. She had lost most of her combat energy.

''I'm not movin' a finger for those. I'll watch them bears tear 'em apart... and then resurrect at the temple. BTW, nice ears babe'' XSallyX said to AuroaTheBrave.
Ryozo sighed and lifted his bow as one of the bears ran for him, shooting arrow after arrow as it came towards him. As they hit and the bear kept going, he started to run backwards and pray his arrows continued to hit. When they didn't, he got mad and kicked the bear in the nose.

"HA!" he yelled before he realized the bear was still alive. "Oh shit!" He began to run away from the bear in circles.
[ALIGN=left]Auroa's rage wasn't settled despite her level up. In her berserk state, she didn't hear Patrick's comment. Gripping her sword tightly, she rushed after the Black Bear that was chasing Ryozo. With a mighty leap that would require a lot of dexterity, she flew in the air towards the Black Bear and landed on its back. "NYAA~NYAA! I'm want to be back to level 50 you son of *****! NYAA~NYAA!" she said, as the blade plunged into the back of the Black Bear. Soon the Black Bear vanished into data, causing Auroa to fall to the ground. The other Black Bear was about to deal a lethal blow to the healer but some how Auora crossed the distance in no time. 'CRITICAL' the word appeared above the Black Bear as Auroa dealt a lethal blow in mid rush. The Black Bear vanished into data, leaving a still really angry Auroa standing and panting. [/ALIGN]
Something strange had happened to Marcus. As the bears appeared, he found himself suddenly paralysed. Was it fear? No, it was something else. He could feel his lithe, female body stall within a single frame. The data which compromised his avatar had become 'stuck'. Serenity1 was lagging, and badly. Patrick's character, XsallyX, called out to him, but his responses just didn't compute.

Marcus watched in terror as a black bear was about to swipe his face off, but just as the claws were to meet Serenity1's face, a miracle happened. The swift swing of Aurora's blade finished the creature off in the nick of time. He was thankful, but before he had the chance to say anything all of the actions he had attempted before were processed. 'NO TARGET, NO TARGET' The text appeared above his head as his previous actions failed, the bear, his target, was dead. "Help! Help! I can't move! Someone! Anyone! I don't want to be ganked!" He shouted so quickly and simultaneously to the point where his speech was illegible. "Lag, is a terrifying experience." He muttered after, making note of the fact for his thesis.

Seeing his companions tuckered out Marcus had a thought. Gesturing a cross-like shape with her hands, Serenity1 spoke. "Betty: goddess of endurance and frozen pizza. Please hear my prayer. Bless my allies with stamina." Sparkles surrounded the others, rising up and restoring some of their stamina, and taking some of his mana.
And so the odd team of adventurers was blessed with some holy computer graphic effects of lights flowing around them.
They recovered most of their stamina, and felt ready for a second wave of whatever the game could come up with.

The sky went dark. Ligthning and thunder were seen and heard.
A foul masculine voice was heard echoing around the sacred gardens.


and then, a malevolent laugh.

XSallyX looked at the others with a puzzled look. Well, not exactly, since her facial expressions were quite limited in this game, but at least Patrick tried real hard in his mind to make XSallyX look like puzzled.
As the sky cleared, she commented,
''Does anyone remember this happening? It did not happen like that last time I played at least''

She sheathed her bow, ignoring whatever she recieved as an answer. XSallyX, or Patrick, was not really good at paying attention for too long.

''Hey. Hey. So. Do you guys remember which is the village we are meant to go first?''
Ryozo frowned. He had never played the game before. What did XSallyX mean by this not happening before? The only reason he bought the game was because everyone said it was awesome and then suggested a group session.

"Perhaps that one over there?" he asked, pointing to a village not far from where they stood. Then he paused a moment. It must have been a lagging problem that they hadn't seen it before.
''Ooooh yeah of course. That one. Well I guess we need to cross the river first and then walk those ten metres of forest road to make it there'' XSallyX replied, as she saw the graphics loading.
Everything was coming back to Patrick's mind.

''Oh and what were we supposed to do there? Was it the shop or the pub or both? The lady that gives you that silly quest, is she in this one or in the next village?''

Well maybe not everything. In any case, she started walking towards the bridge that crossed the river.
Auroa, still frustrated beyond mortal belief, decided to follow the party towards the bridge. She wasn't in a talking mood but her low grumbling sounds were certainly audible enough, "Curse this game! Freakin weeks of training wasted! *mumble* *mumble*. She was lost in her own little angry world where no one else existed. Suddenly out of the blue, her character turned a shade of green. "Um guys what the HECK is going on?!" she asked as she took in the sight of her body turning into a dark shade of green. Immediately she felt noxious in her stomach and felt the urge to vomit. Swiftly, she ran past the rest of her party members and towards the bridge however she didn't make it in time. Clutching her stomach, she bent over and um, became sick. Above her character was the word Poison.
''Hey I love this game guys!! Did you know you can actually vomit?!!''

And it was a lucky thing indeed that Auroa ran past them right over the bridge.

The bridge collapsed.

A badass looking crocodile was upset.

XSallyX drew her bow and started shooting.