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Rioku stood at the bizarre shaped tree. It seemed like a quaint place to be at the moment. She had just needed a quiet place to sit and think while Zike and Vult contacted some other players in the game. She sighed and closed her eyes. It was all becoming so real.
One minute, she had been a regular, ordinary girl in her own boring life. Now, she was a very lost and confused warrior with her three friends in a world full of glitches and diseased people. She wanted to go back to the old boring life at that second. Just wanted to wake up in her bed, her nice soft bed, and know that it was okay and it was all just a bad dream. If she could feel that security of being back in the real world, she would be happy and safe.
Her reality had been shattered though. Here she was, sitting under the cybernetically generated tree, making little silly thoughts of her real life. She looked around. At least the three of them had escaped the many noises of the people back in the various towns and player-populated areas.
“Hey, how ya doing, Rioku?” It was Vult. He walked up, his baggy pants blowing around in the wind, his spiky hair tied up against the red bandana, and his red vest covering up most of his washboard abs. He approached the shaded area of the ground and sat down next to Rioku. He then leaned back against the trunk and crossed his arms behind his head.
“You know…” he opened one relaxed eye and stared at Rioku, “I think Zike likes you.”
Rioku giggled a bit. She knew that Lee liked her. He had liked her ever since she had turned nine. It was funny, how even though they were best friends, they seemed like much more then that at times. She sighed and smiled to herself. She then looked back at Vult. It seemed he had started to fall asleep. He was sort of cute. He was cute in that boyish and manly kind of way. She then sighed and leaned back against the tree. A nap wouldn’t hurt that much. She closed her eyes and felt the wind blow against her warm face as she drifted off.

“Hey! Rise and shine!!!” She turned a bit and opened one her eyes slowly. Zike sat next to her, smiling. She gave a yawn and stretched her arms. It was realistic. It had felt like a real nap. She wondered if she had fallen asleep in the real world at the same time. She stood up and looked around. They were still at the tree. Vult stood a bit of a distance from them, looking over the hills and into the chaotic towns at the bottom of them. Rioku walked over to the edge to see too. It seemed like it was getting worse. They had to find a way out of the game… or they had to find the cause.
“Guys, after making a few calls, I discovered that there is a secret base in the game. It was supposed to be for just administrators who work in the game. It is password protected, but I obtained the password from a good friend. We should get a move on to the forest if we want to get out of this darn game.
“I just want to let you guys know, that of any of us turns into one of those beasts, we must do what we have to. It isn’t the best thing in the world and I sure as heck don’t have any kind of solutions to get glitches out of players, so lets just try not to let that happen, okay?”
Zike stood up and grabbed his sword hilt off the ground. He strapped it back on and adjusted his armor. Vult yawned and stretched, then looked down at his side to make sure his dagger was still in its pouch. Rioku put her hand behind her to check if the sword was still there. It was. She sighed and walked over to where Zike and Vult were now standing.
“You guys all ready?” Zike put his hand out, palm down. Rioku put her hand on top of his and then Vult followed in by placing his among them too.
“Let’s go!!!” they all shouted as they lifted their hands into the air. They started to run down the winding hills and into the territory of the giant forests.
From the distance, a young girl with black hair, wearing a samurai style hat looked on as the three travelers ran by. She smiled and started to follow behind them slowly, her short kimono waving with her hips, hoping that she could catch up in time to help them.

Rioku stopped and looked around. It felt like they were being followed. She looked behind them quickly and sensed the presence without a visual form yet.
“Guys… I think were being followed…”
“Nonsense. No one even knows that we are going here,” Zike whispered assuringly.
“I dunno, Zike. The girl might be right…” Vult then shook his head and hoped Zike was listening. He turned back to smile at Rioku. Rioku nodded thanks and then looked up as they approached a large shadow in the middle of a clearing. It was odd. The spot was empty, but there was a big shadow on the ground. Zike walked up and put his hand out to knock on something. He knocked and three banging noises followed shortly after. He looked at them as if he were a brilliant archaeologist that had just found the skeleton of a lifetime.
Vult and Rioku laughed as Vult leaned against the metal building that seemed to not exist. Zike then cleared his throat, which got Vult and Rioku’s attention.
“Eh-hmm! Now, I shall say the password. No one speak, okay?” He smiled and took a deep breath. ” Admins are nice, cool, and awesome people! I was once a newbie, but I have stepped to the ranks of a god! Grant me access to this great euphoria of gaming!”
A sudden loud metallic noise could be heard from outside the structure. It seemed like gears were turning and a small ding assured them the door was open. Zike bowed and pointed to the dark passage in the middle of the now visible gray building. Rioku stepped in and walked down the dark hall to see what would await them next.

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