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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, '10, 6:48 pm
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Chapter 4


Pacific Avenue was as busy as it always was, being the main commercial street in the city of Mudville. The quarter-million inhabitant city's two shopping malls were located on this street, plus numerous shopping centers and movie theaters, not to mention part of the campi of the city's two colleges. It was around the midpoint of the avenue, beneath a bridge that passed over a small creek running behind one of the colleges that a there lay a bike-path that extended from the far eastern end of the city to the far western end, near the river delta. The bike path, especially around the two or three bridges that crossed over it, was a breeding ground for gang activity, since they could often hide under the bridge at night to use drugs or engage in other activities, whatever they might be.

It was a clear sunny day and today, at least at this hour, which was around noon, there were no signs of gangland activity in that stretch of the path. There, beneath the bridge, the air began to churn and distort. The ground shook lightly, so much so, that only someone within the immediate vicinity would be able to notice anything. However, as there were no bikers or joggers on the path at the moment, and the cars which crossed the bridge were completely oblivious to what was happening, nobody saw the brief flashes of light followed by the sudden appearance of three people in the middle of the of narrow paved road that was the bike path. The three people stood on the path and stretched their arms, and walked up the staircase to the sidewalk that ran along the bridge. One of them was a tall, thin blonde man dressed in black trousers and a white shirt. The second was a sturdier fellow with short brown hair and was also in black trousers, but wore a simple red shirt. The third was a red-haired lady wearing brown pants and a white blouse, different from the usual red leotard that was accustomed to using.

The three looked around them and the two boys immediately recognized their whereabouts.

"Dude, hecka the Pacific Avenue!" exclaimed a content Jack. "Haven't been here in phatty years."

"It has been longness," agreed Piotr. "So, let's get down to business. We need to get access to the Internet from here. How can we do that?"

Jack stroked his chin and thought for a few moments. Mieu said nothing, but simply observed the new world that she come to for the first time. The cars, the buildings, the style of paved roads--all was new to her.

"Piotr, did you bring any cash with you?"

"Well, not any dollars, no. But I did bring this small bag of gold coins. But I wouldn't know where to cash them in. A bank maybe?"

"Well, let's head north," said Jack. There must be a number of jewelry shops that we could ask the owners how we could proceed with that. After that, we'll look for a coffee shop or a cyber-café with internet access. I think that'll be okay."

Piotr pondered that for a moment and then nodded. "Come Mieu, let's go."

The three started off down the sidewalk, heading north toward the more popular commercial areas of the city. It was a short walk indeed, for upon having passed up the first few buildings, all of which belonged to the college nearby, they spotted a store that caught their eye. There was a small building with a sign reading "Pawn Shop." Piotr and Jack stopped looked at the establishment for a few moments, and then looked at each and nodded.

"Hecka forgot about this baby. This trip may be easier than we thought," said Jack, already breaking into laughter.

The two walked into the pawn shop. Mieu stared at the numerous pieces of watches and jewelry in the cases near the counter, but was particularly interested in the number of electronic appliances that adorned the shelves. While Jack and Piotr went to the talk with the owner, Mieu examined the different pieces of equipment to satisfy her curiosity.

"May I help you, gentlemen?" the owner, an older man with a head covered with straggly grey hair, said.

Jack played the part of the spokesman. "Why yes, my good man. You see, my friend just inherited a house from his grandmother, who just passed away. While going through her stuff, he came across this." Jack reached over and pulled out a small handful of coins from Piotr's pouch. "We're not quite sure what to do with it, so we were wondering if you could tell us if it's authentic or not."

The old man kept the same polite, but reserved expression on his face as Jack handed him some coins. The man looked at the coins for a few moments, held them up in the light, and even bit down on a few of them. "Well I'll be. These are made of solid gold." The man weighed the coins in his hands for a few moments, and then asked the two if he could weight them. With their consent, the man produced a small electronic scale from behind his counter and placed the coins on it. Looking at the weight, the man silently moved his lips as he performed a few mental calculations.

"If you want, I'll give you $500.00 for the coins," he said brusquely.

Piotr opened his mouth to speak, but Jack waved him to be quiet and said, "Agreed."

The man left the room and in a few moments, returned with a small wad of cash. He handed it to Jack, who in turn handed the coins to the man. Jack counted the bills and nodded. The two shook hands and Jack and his companions turned away to leave the establishment.

Jack then turned back to the owner and asked, "Hey sir, do you know where there's an cyber café around here?"

"Check the shopping center down the street. I think there's a coffee shop that has paid internet access."

Jack nodded and left the store.

"Hecka only five-hundred bones, dawg?" was the first thing Piotr said.

"Well, if you think about it, we only need to pay for the internet use, maybe something to eat, and maybe buy some little presents for the ladies."

"Yeah, that's true. Very well. Let's check out this coffee house."

The small shopping center was only two blocks away from the pawn shop. The three walked around the sidewalks until the found the coffee shop. They walked in and felt the immediate blast of cool air from the air conditioner, which startled Mieu's temperature sensors. Not wanting to draw any attention to herself, she stayed quiet and followed two men. Fortunately, this coffee house did have internet access and Jack paid up front for two full hours of internet use. He also bought three raspberry smoothies and a chocolate chip cookie for Mieu to experiment. The three gathered around the computer as Jack got onto the net.

"Well, the first place to start is to find a list of games that may be possible candidates for places Corg might be," Piotr observed.

Jack typed in a few commands into the browser and soon a list of sites appeared on the screen. He scanned quickly through him and clicked on the first site that caught his attention. The page loaded quickly and a list of video game titles and release dates showed up on the screen.

Jack nodded and said, "Heck yeah. Now we're talking."

He began to scroll slowly down the list, mumbling the names of the different games. Occasionally, he'd pause and open another window, type the name of a game in the browser, and pull up a list of images from the game. He'd then ask Mieu to take a good look at the screen shots and say if she recognized it from her dreams. The first several times he did this, Mieu shook her head and said that no, it didn't match the place she had seen in her dream. He continued doing it.

It had been nearly a half-hour when Jack pulled up a list of images, and Mieu performed a spit take, covering the screen in bits of chewed cookie. Jack and Piotr started laughing out loud at that. After wiping down the monitor, the three took a closer look at the images of the game. Sure enough, the graveyard and the caverns matched exactly what Mieu had described to them.

"Hm..."Altered Beast." Let's take a look." Jack pulled up a synopsis of the game and the three read it quickly.

Piotr and Jack looked at each other and nodded contently.

"Let's see, monsters, Greek mythology...that's definitely Corg," Piotr observed. "It's all so obvious that I can't believe I didn't see it coming before."

"Yeah, that's definitely our man. And wuddiyaknow, it's about guys being brought back from dead. I don't know if it's a coincidence or if Corg did it intentionally, but man, you couldn't find a more appropriate place for the sucker to be."

Mieu said nothing, but simply nodded as she stared unflinchingly--she was unable to blink--at the screen, sipping on her raspberry smoothie. After a few moments, she said, "Wow. That's exactly the place I dreamed about. But, what do we do now?"

"We gotta play this baby, that's what we gotta do. I'm not sure how this transport stuff works, but it'd be good to have a fairly strong vision of the game in order to transport ourselves there correctly."

Jack typed in a few more words into the browser window and a number of emulator sites appeared. He clicked on one, and clicked on the link which allowed him to download the platform emulator. The download was finished in a matter of seconds. He repeated the same process for the game itself. In a moment, he had opened the emulator was at the title screen. Jack pulled up a window to configure the keyboard to accept two players and Piotr placed his hands on the appropriate keys.

The game began. Jack and Piotr began navigating their characters, two Roman centurions who had been brought back from the dead by Zeus to rescue the goddess Athena, through the graveyard, being beset by zombies on all sides. With quick reflexes, the two centurions punched and kicked their way through their enemies. Occasionally, a two-headed dog would show up. When the players kicked him, a blue sphere would appear. Touching the blue sphere made the centurions stronger and soon there were two werewolves onscreen, throwing fireballs at the legions of zombies that attacked them.

Having defeated the first boss, a huge mass of flesh that threw his head at the characters, they reached the second stage. They were inside a cave, the same cave Mieu had seen. Huge blob-like monsters hopped around, trying to jump on the characters to suck their energy away. Jack and Piotr handled them with a few well-placed kicks. Occasionally a bird-like monster with a long tail, known as a chicken-stinger, would show up and try to swing its tail at the centurions, but Jack and Piotr had no problem getting past them. Soon, they were transformed into the lighting-shooting dragons and started flying around the screen, destroying all their enemies with well-placed bolts of electricity. The boss of that level was a huge plant monster that fired eyeball-like spores at the hereoes.

The third stage was another cavern, this one inhabited by giant snails and bipedal ants who tried to run the centurions down. They were a bit trickier, but Jack and Piotr were able to make it the boss, a huge dragon whose coils made it look part snail, in the form of a pair of were-bears. The fourth stage was what looked like a city, filled with arches and vaults and columns in the background, all of which were blue in color. There were numerous structures for the centurions to jump on, and in addition to zombies, they were attacked by flying demons armed with mallots. At the end of the level, they faced a monster that looked like a crocodile hugging a fireball in the form of a were-tiger.

The final stage was a barren wasteland of the Underworld. In the background of the screen, the three could see numerous rock outcroppings and boulders. In the foreground were the distorted, horrified faces of the souls of the damned. They were attacked by a number of enemies from all the previous levels, but were soon able to reach their final transformation: a golden and silver werewolf. They reached the final boss and defeated him pretty easily ending the game. Jack then closed the window and stretched. It had now been around an hour-and-a-half since they had begun.

"So Mieu, did you take all that in."

Mieu just nodded, sipping the last of her smoothie.

"Man, you hecka enjoyed that smoothie, didn't you?" Piotr said, chuckling.

Mieu grinned.

Jack and Piotr got up from their seats.

"Well, now we know where we have to go. We should be heading back the valley soon, but first, let's get our ladies some presents."

"Yeah, and I'm kind of fiendin' for something to eat."

Jack nodded and grinned. "Ya' know, Piotr, I think it's the law that we introduce Mieu to the wonder that is a good ol' fashioned pepperoni pizza."

"Dude, you're hecka right."

Mieu looked at both of them and smiled.

Last edited by H-Man on Tue Jul 27, '10, 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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