Level 01:\NOAH Russia\Esfirasya\Startup -Welcome to NOAH-
« Russia\Samara, Samara Oblast\Razlineyka Residence »
The cold wind caressed the apartments' windows in the city of Samara. Esfirasya wiped her round eyeglasses in front of her foggy window. The window is her other source of light, and a window to the mundane outside world, as she often fought many battles in online war games every afternoon. She heard the smooth hum of her computer's system unit (often called as a CPU, or Central Processing Unit), then she reminded herself that Asch's humming is such a music for her ears.
"Don't fail me now, Asch!" she whispered to herself, as if her computer's human persona showed in front of her.
She wore her cleaned eyeglasses, then sat at her computer desk. It's cluttered with four portable hard drives, two game controllers, and six anime action figures posed as her keyboard's guardians. Her black desktop computer, Asch, stood mighty among its computer peripherals with its blood red neon lights. She spent two school years worth of her savings to build & upgrade Asch, to enjoy the games at their best performance.
Above her beloved, well-guarded gaming machine, five gold, and silver trophies from different Call of the Battlefield tournaments, stood on the glass shelves. “Next time! New game trophy will be ours, Asch!”
Esfirasya clicked on the System Test button at the game's splash screen over her anime-themed desktop screen. A second later, she heard a loud whirring noise from her system unit. Her computer gave warmth to her pale skin, until her grumbling stomach ruined her mood. Nope, she won't go downstairs for a while.
Instead, she grabbed one of her action figures, then whispered at its face, “Should this red beast pass system test, Sinon, we'll play NOAH together!”
Her screen showed a large fleet of ships approached the humongous planet slowly. Around it, eleven moons circled around the hulking world like a slower merry go round, bound with pulsating smoke-like lines. In this new game, players will assume the role of new colonists, out to take over the planet. Tonight, Esfirasya and her friends will be the first batch!
Another second passed, her computer screen flashed a message, «Your system passed the first segment of NOAH Online System Test!»
“All right!” Esfirasya raised her fist to the roof, as her computer met the game's system requirements. She heard someone knocked on her door thrice.
"There are snacks downstairs, Pepper!" Esfirasya's mom said behind her door. No wonder, her mother called her Pepper, over her dedication to PC gaming, troubleshooting, and customization.
The smell of a certain food made its way through her door. Her stomach growled at the moment she smelled her mother's snacks. She usually won't come down from her 'battle station' until she shut it down, but that snack downstairs nagged her senses.
"Da! I'm coming, mom!" she said, as she headed to her closet.
Esfirasya wore her track jacket, then her yellow skirt shorts (skorts) over her black mid-thigh spandex shorts. Who would want to see her walk around the house in spats anyway?
She stroked Asch's towering red system unit, "I'll be right back, Asch! I gotta recharge, you know?"
She walked downstairs to their dining area, then she saw Antony ate a piece of a blintz (Russian thin pancake) with her mom. She overheard them talking about them being the Global Beta Test participants of NOAH Online. Her mom asked them, "You guys will be playing another game again?"
“Da, mom. I'm tired of playing those military games.” She sat beside Antony, “That's why I saved up three months ago for Asch's memory chips and GPU.”
“I thought you upgraded your PC for those games? Why did you lead us to anime game this time?” Antony tickled her sides, “Again, you've been treating your computer like a boyfriend?”
“Cut it out!” Esfirasya tickled Antony's armpit, “And yeah, they're always the same thing.”
Her mom's eyes widened, “I hope you're not wearing yourself down for your computer stuff, Pepper.”
“Don't worry too much, mom.” Esfirasya winked at Antony, “Come on, I bet you're getting bored at Call'Field too!”
Ten minutes after snack time, Esfirasya and Antony headed to her room. Her right hand flew over her glowing black & red gaming mouse. Her computer screen showed another message, «Your system passed the second segment of NOAH Online System Test! Your computer has exceeded the system requirements!».
The two leaped with joy, as their computers passed the system tests. Antony set his gaming laptop at her empty desk, then booted up the NOAH game. Five seconds after, they saw ten picture cards of different humanoid races on their screens.
Esfirasya quickly pointed her mouse at the Bahamun race card. It turned out to be human with a pair of dragon wings, and a metallic, segmented tail coiled at one of their thighs. She created her character which nearly resembled her looks quickly.
“I'm Fleym, dragon girl with short shorts, okay?” Esfirasya giggled at her character.
“I made an elf in the game, Asya! My name would be Zoloto Archer, by the way!” Antony said.
« Logged into NOAH Online; Global Test Server as Fleym »
« NOAH Online\VR Training Deck »
Hundreds of colorful characters of different races and sizes appeared on a huge white room. Bright bluish grids carved on the walls glowed alternately, as if the whole room is a disco floor. Fleym heard chatter in different languages, then she looked at her own clothing. She looked like another anime character stereotype: Red track suit, and a pair of short shorts, but being a Bahamun made it cooler to wear though.
She stroked her bangs down, as she waited for further instructions from the game's staff. So, this is NOAH's tutorial area? It looked plain for me though.
Zoloto Archer tapped her shoulder, “Hey, how do I look?”
He has pointy ears, and fair skin. He wore a dark amber, balloon-sleeved shirt & brown puffy pants. He took a bow like a prince.
“Man, you looked out of place with that dress!” Fleym shook her best friend.
Zoloto Archer laughed at her, “I know, but this is a starting outfit anyway.”
“Do you think a rapier would still exist in the future? Future with over-sized beam swords, bending energy beams, and—”
They heard another mixed chatter of Khulazes (child-like people) & Dwargs (brown dog-like humanoids) with normal-sized swords and axes. She pointed at them, “Halflings? Cute werewolf-looking creatures?”
Whose ideas are these? The gaming world got used to these colorful Japanese-influenced futuristic games, but the inclusion of those halflings, and furries? That's over the top. Forget it, a long-running online game called Second Life did that thing already in the past. However, 'twas mostly heard in America.
“I'm sure they have it somewhere, Fleym.” Zoloto approached a brown-skinned Celestian (a halo-less angelic person). “Either way, this game's awesome for being crazy already.”
“For real?” Fleym followed Zoloto Archer, until their left arms let out a holographic screen with a message: «Welcome to NOAH Online's 2000-person; 195-country Global Beta Test! You will receive some on-screen instructions as we start our combat training. »
“Hey, wait up!” the brown-skinned Celestian chased them, “Let's team up!”
« Switching client. Session to be continued... »
Level 02:\NOAH Russia\Antony\Startup -Freeform Combat Training-
« Logged into NOAH Online; Global Test Server as Zoloto Archer »
« NOAH Online\VR Training Deck »
Zoloto Archer peeked at his brass-cased forearm communicator, then another message popped out on his screen, « I'm sure you guys know how to move around, right? Now, let's kill some slimes! ».
“Is it just me, or they are mocking us?” Zoloto Archer asked Fleym, while he materialized his personal holographic backpack window in front of him. His finger ran through bite-sized pictures of training-grade weapons, some vials, and his worn clothes.
“I think not, unless some of the players have not played games like these.” Fleym pulled out a pair of dirty hand wraps at the back of her hips.
Zoloto Archer browsed his inventory for the second time, then he chose a «Hunting Bow». In a snap, a short and small burst of energy shot from his left thigh. He saw one of the bow's limbs came out from the ball of energy on his thigh. He quickly dragged it out, then aimed his hunting bow at the roof, “All right, better be ready, Fleym!”
How do they draw out stuff from their backs? Sides? Or even at their belts? Those pockets of energy sprouted from their clothes are their «Personal Dimensional Inventory Terminal» or shortened as «PerDin Terminal». Simply put: their inventory.
Bright bluish grids below the trainee colonists flashed faster than the latest gossips posted on Facebook worldwide. Three seconds after, white tiles above them, spewed out glassy, cubic gels on the floor. He looked at his communicator screen, « Prepare for battle. Transformable training monsters set! »
“I thought we're going to fight aliens?” a dark brown-skinned Celestian, named Akeem-Spectre, flew away from the creatures, “But they gave us transparent slimes!”
“Akeem, they are actually aliens.” Zoloto Archer pointed one of the glassy slimes, “They only gave us easy monsters, to be honest.”
“Cover me, Zoloto!” Fleym wore her dirty «Training Handwraps», then she punched the closest slime creature.
“Got your back!” Zoloto Archer rolled rightward, then shot a thin white energy arrow at the side of the monster she attacked. The transparent creature remained at its place, then bumped Fleym's belly hard. His Bahamun brawler buddy fell on the glowing floor.
The slime headed to his direction, that it hopped at a rabbit's pace. As it reached him, he ran away from the aggravated monster, then fired another arrow at the transparent slime.
The monster took another arrow, then in a flash, it transformed into a glassy humanoid creature, armed with a short crystal spike. He leaped away from the enemy, then fired a pair of arrows at the monster's head. Bluish blood gushed into his face, then the monster stabbed his shoulder. “What the! Got blinded by this 'suka's blood!”
« Russia\Samara, Samara Oblast\Razlineyka Residence »
As his character suffered a blinding blow, Antony took a deep breath. One month before NOAH Online's beta test, and their last day of playing Call of the Battlefield Online. As he aimed his sniper rifle at the enemy team's VIP character, a white flash blinded him. He screamed a series of Russian cuss words, and emptied his sniper rifle without hitting anyone. At the final shot, something killed him in-game. He's outflanked by some guy with a small submachine gun.
“You okay?” Esfirasya said to him with a louder voice.
“Nyet. That blood-splat reminded me of our last match!” Antony moved his in-game character backwards, “Get that thing off me, please?”
« NOAH Online\VR Training Deck »
“I'm coming!” Fleym ran towards the armed humanoid, then she delivered a «Heavy Punch» to its head. Upon impact, its head flew away, as it was a spineless monster. First enemy downed.
“You all right?” Fleym wiped his face with her hands. “Better get patched up, elf boy.”
“Da, just a small stab wound.” He drank a small vial containing red liquid. “I think I should change my weapon, as it reminded me much of my bad sniper days.”
“That's normal, because we're in a different game.” she patted his shoulders, “We'll get used to this, and reach the end-game together!”
He nodded at her, then he aimed his bow at the farthest gel-based humanoid's head. I hope I don't miss it! He materialized another white energy arrow.
Here I go! He shot at the monster, but his arrow landed on its back. His target locked its sights onto him, then dashed at a speed of a wolf. He fired another arrow at its left knee, but landed at its shin instead.
“NYET! NYET! NYET!” he leaped backward, “Taste my arrows, 'suka! «Dual Shot»!”
While in mid-air, he shot a pair of energy arrows at the monster's head. Those arrows tore through the monster's forehead, that it scattered most of its clear jelly flesh on the floor. Yeah, like the slimes from Dungeons & Dragons, or even the cute-faced, pink Porings from Ragnarok Online. Too bad, the monster continued rushing at them. Without fear of death, or probably purposed to be slain by the colonists for training.
“I'll finish that off this time!” Akeem-Spectre flew over the injured monster, then slashed the monster vertically. In a split second, it exploded into puddles of slime.
“Der'mo! I could have finished that one!” Zoloto Archer took a deep breath, and packed his bow into his inventory. As his new in-game friend flew back to them, he pouted at him.
“No need to be angry, we're a team after all.” Fleym hugged him, then she patted his back, “It's all right. We'll train together, then kill 'em next time.”
He peeked at his communicator again, then he found a new window at the top-right of his screen. The brown-skinned Celestian who slain his target is actually the third member of their party all along!
He, and everyone else, let out a new holographic window from their communicators: «Prepare for a terrain change. We have acquired enough data for this adjustment. Don't move or attempt to slay our training monsters while zone transformation sequence is in effect»
“Why only now? I liked those clear slime guys...” Fleym placed her hands on her hips. “Then now, they'll change everything in this room?”
Zoloto Archer looked at her, “I guess this is why, we're on a beta test.”
The glowing floors' bluish lights switched to green, then it let out a bright green flash at everyone in the room.
Five seconds later, what used to be a bright gridded room, turned into a thick forest filled with towering pine trees. The slimy creatures they fought moments ago, transformed into hairy red humanoids with bandaged eyes. In-game name: «Lesudar Dushitel».
The congress of «Lesudar Dushitels» stood slouched as they wandered around the virtual pine forest.
“What the? We warped to another place?” Akeem-Spectre gripped his «Wooden Sword». “Well, I hope they retain this place as a starting point at launch...”
“I think not, probably we're still in a virtual reality zone.” Zoloto Archer brought his «Hunting Bow» out.
A pair of «Lesudar Dushitels» dashed at other colonists. A pale-skinned Diablon (horned human) tried to launch a fireball on them, yet the creature stabbed her right shoulder. The green-haired Gnome (a disembodied spirit that needed a physical shell to live in the surface world), parried the other monster's attack with his «Wooden Hatchet».
Zoloto's jaws dropped, as he watched those creatures attacked a pair of newbies. This could be my chance to make my aim right!
“Kusok der'ma!!!” Zoloto Archer fired three arrows in succession, then it struck the monster's chest. The stabbed Diablon magician dashed towards him for cover. “Get over here!”
The green-haired Gnome hacked the stabber's shin, then approached him in a hurry. He smiled at them, as he distracted the monsters with his attacks.
He performed another «Dual Shot» at the injured monster's head. Target down, without resistance. YES! I did it!
The Diablon girl, and the Gnome boy thanked him for saving them from death. They introduced themselves as Maldranza & Helmirr from Brazil respectively, then they asked Fleym to join their party.
« Switching client. Session to be continued... »
Level 03:\NOAH Staff\Henry\Startup -Opening the Gate-
« Philippines\Quezon City, Manila\Orion Digital Entertainment Headquarters »
Several computers in the spacious warehouse area blared zipping noises, as Henry walked to the meeting room. He saw the employees' flat screen monitors displayed messages from the players, then the young employees responded to them in a snap.
“Another complaint from an American player about our transforming slime monsters, sir Henry!” the bald employee shouted at him.
He approached his father's employee, with his hands in his fitted denim shorts, “For now, tell him to strike 'em at their sides.”
“You sure about this?” the bald employee raised his voice, “I died like five times fighting three of them, then we'll answer that?”
“Yes. Tell it to him.” Henry smiled at him.
The bald employee nodded at him, then he strode to the meeting room.
Henry panted after his hasty walk to their office. He saw his bespectacled siblings, and his father, sat at the long wooden table. He sat beside Iris, his twin sister. “What's up, Ate Iris?”
Iris whispered, “Papa has something for us.”
Orion, the white-haired father, cleared his throat, “Kids, from now on, you will be given a special NOAH Online character.”
“Would that mean, we get to play all day with you, dad?” Edgar, the spiky-haired brother with glasses, asked.
"Yes, but we won't be like the regular players though.” Orion smiled at him. “Those new characters you'll get are: our game supervision and modification characters.”
“That means, we'll be likely to use them for organizing events for the players, dad?” Valerie, the short-haired eldest sister, stroked her chin.
“Oh papa! How are we going to be noticed?” Iris asked.
While Henry's siblings asked most of the questions, he drew a mental picture of his other avatar.
In his mind, he saw himself as a dark blue-haired boy. He wore a short-sleeved baby blue uniform, with a pair of epaulettes. Should this game run as planned, I'm going to find this costume! If not, I can always model it myself.
In a split second, a short-haired girl with short cycling shorts hugged him. “Hope to see you again, Henry!”
A gentle breeze caressed his legs, then he found himself wearing a pair of yellow mid-thigh bike shorts. At the same second, his face reddened, either for his imagined girly-boy avatar? Or the sight of his schoolmate crush?
Edgar patted his shoulder, “Hats, why are you blushing?”
Henry shook his head, “I can't wait to see her again.”
Valerie sang at him, “Alicia & Henry under the tree—”
Iris joined her sister, “H-O-L-D-I-N-G!”
“W-wait a minute!" Henry waved his palms at his siblings, “It's not like I have feelings for her, but I like her as a best friend.”
“Your face's showing it! You like Alicia, bro!” Edgar laughed.
“Kids, let's set that aside.” Orion stood up in front of them, then he gave them golden cards. Each golden card provided a special username, password, and a mugshot of an in-game character.
Orion tapped a large touch screen monitor behind him, “Before I let you log into the game, there'll be unique characters in the game that will assist us in maintaining this game.”
“As in, AI partners, dad?” Valerie stretched her hands to the roof. “I hope they don't take over our place, dad.”
“Don't worry Valerie, they'll listen to me, the Granddaddy.” Orion patted her smooth shoulders.
Henry raised his hand, “Say, would the players even notice their presence?”
“They'll never see them, as if they're the Director from Left4Dead, son.” Orion tapped his shoulder, “Anyways, time to welcome our pioneers, son.”
« Logged into NOAH Online; Global Test Server as [Game Moderator] Reoruune desh-Kaidun »
« Briarwelt Moon\Walled Metropolis -Kanpeki Sekai- »
While most of the players trained themselves in the «VR Training Decks», his long-haired Elf avatar, Reoruune desh-Kaidun, materialized in the middle of a tree park.
He lifted his hands in the air, then his palms popped out holographic hexagonal crosshairs. At the same second, a holographic list appeared on his left arm.
“«Worldshaper» activated. Set to Object Mode.” a disembodied high-pitched female voice spoke from his gold jeweled belt.
"Henry, make the park welcoming for the new players, okay?" his father's disembodied voice said to him.
"I'm on it, papa!" Henry, as Reoruune, answered. He launched glassy holographic cubes at the park's paths, then he selected an archway with balloons on his holographic list. The cubes around him popped into archways in three seconds.
“Now, add in NPCs of varying ages and races! Just like at the start of the novel, okay?” his father radioed him.
Reoruune set his «Worldshaper» to an «NPC (Non-playable character) Spawner» mode, then he fired 20 reddish-orange, heart-shaped energy projectiles on the stone paths.
“Papa, do they have dialogue already?” Reoruune watched the smoking projectiles on the ground.
Orion said, “Yes, we have programmed them since Alpha Test, son.”
Three seconds after, heart-shaped projectiles on the ground turned into bystanders with varied clothing. The AI personality on his belt spoke, “«EMZARA» reporting: Bystanders done, Reoruune!”
People around him opened their eyes, then many wandered around the park. In front of him, two human teenager NPCs gazed at the colorful plants grown at the park. The spiky-haired boy held the girl's hand, “My love, what do we do next?”
“We'll travel around the world, then discover precious creatures in the wilderness!” the girl with a straw hat smiled at him.
Droplets of tears crept on Reoruune's pale face. How in the world did the in-game characters talk like real people? What form of sorcery or programming is this?
“Reo, «HAIKAL» wrote their destinies, and made them to live like us.” EMZARA spoke to Reoruune.
HAIKAL. An image of a flow-chart heavy page of the NOAH Online operation manual gave out its definition: Humanization of Artificially-Intelligent Kinetic Avatar Library.
“Say, where's Eden?” Reoruune stroked his chin, “I thought he's doing the starter map...”
“Eden's now in charge on what will happen here tonight.” Emzara showed herself as a female Elder Celestian, “Anyway, I'll show something to you!”
The NPC characters around him produced fiery blue lines headed to different directions away from their location. The human lovers' paths pointed to the north, while a new path appeared below him.
Reoruune stepped away from the blue fiery line, “What's this line?”
Emzara replied, “That's the path programmed for an upcoming merchant.”
He heard a whirring sound headed to his way, then he found a bearded Dwarg merchant, designed for selling newbie equipment. He parked a futuristic wooden wheelbarrow, filled with equipment from the medieval times, beside him.
The Dwarg merchant spoke to him, “Lookin' gaudy, my friend!”
Reoruune patted its furry head, until a reddish holographic window appeared on his left. « 70 players completed training! EMZARA, HAIKAL, and EDEN system in full operation. Welcome to BRIARWELT PLANET, everyone! »
« Switching client. Session to be continued... »
« Chapter Appendix: »
This is the first of the developer/staff chapters to appear in this version of NOAH Online/NetGameSaga story. Henceforth, some of the new names mentioned here are acronyms of a living system in the game.
* EDEN : Eternal Dynamic Entertainment Network
* EMZARA : Entity Management, Zoning, Assembly, & Restoration Avatar