❯ .hack//CHECK – Mark ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

The sand swirled with great ferocity as the sun peeked over the western dunes. Next to the Spring of Myst, three figures stood.
« Oh man, this is boring… », remarked Stan as he stared through his binoculars. Stan was a short, thin, fair Long Arm wearing an unfastened tan vest and deep green cargo pants. His auburn hair blew in the wind while his blue eyes scanned the horizon through the device he held in his gloved hands. « This sucks… » Stan sat and continued to look through the binoculars.
« If you’re bored, I guess we can talk… », said Deacon as he leaned on his sword. Deacon, a Heavy Blade, was a tall man with a medium build, and lightly tanned. He wore what looked like gray « Samurai-ish » garb except he wore a shoulder pad on his right shoulder, and his right sleeve was seemingly missing. Above Deacon’s left eye, partially obscured by his blonde hair, was a scar. « I’m pretty curious as to how you got banninated. »
« Wait a sec. Stan got banned? », inquired Naomi. Naomi was a Twin Blade of an average height with a thin build. She wore a black leotard with baggy blue shorts that were kept hanging at her hip by a thick leather belt as well as gloves that covered most of her forearms and thick aviator goggles on her forehead. Naomi had caramel-colored skin and long, black hair tied behind her head.
« Yeah. » said Stan, « Stupid GM’s… What do we even have an ‘F’ word for if we can’t use it? Why do they have to be such a #-… »

« Uh, on a different subject, » interjected Deacon, « I’m glad to see you finally got World III, Naomi. It’s a heck of a lot better than the last one. Though, I’m kinda surprised that you payed the extra fifteen smackers to transfer your character to this version. »

« I’m not. », said Stan, still staring through the binoculars. « Remember the hell she went through to clear that goggle event? You think she’d wanna lose those? »

« Yeah… I guess you’re right… » commented Deacon.

« Hey, Deac, just what’s so different about World III? » asked Naomi.

« What isn’t so different? » remarked Deacon, « It’s almost like they gave the World a major overhaul. In addition to a greater frequency of events, they also included a few new weather conditions. See the blowing sand? »

« Yeah. »

« You wouldn’t have seen that in the old one. Also, due to somewhat popular demand, they’ve gotten rid of every single Noble Grunty. »

« How’d they get away with that? »

« The Grunty Plague. They said it killed off the Noble Grunties… No one complained… »

« Wow… »

« They also made Speed Charms an ordinary item. So you don’t have to wait for that stupid animation to use another one. And, Long Arms kinda got nerfed with the addition of the new classes… »
« Whoop! There’s our mark! », exclaimed Stan. He stood up. « What are we looking at, Stan? », asked Deacon. « Okay. We got three targets. », continued Stan, « We got a Twin Blade, Wave Master, and a Heavy Blade. » « What kinda toys they got? », asked Deacon.  » The TB has a pair of level forty-two daggers, the WM has a level forty-five wand… looks like it could be used for summoning… The HB has some kinda… big-ass sword… », replied Stan.
« What? »

« I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s not on any guide or database I’ve seen… None of the events so far have offered weaps, right? »

« Not to my recollection. These guys are not newbies… », said Deacon.

« … Just like the board said… », commented Naomi.
« Whoa! Just what was that?! » exclaimed Stan. « What? », replied Deacon. « Something on the HB flashed! It was on his arm… » « Let me see… », said Deacon as Stan handed him the binoculars. « . . . I don’t see anything. See?. », Deacon handed the binoculars back to Stan. Stan checked again. « You’re right. There’s nothing there. Must’ve been a glitch… », remarked Stan, « The targets are going into the dungeon. »
« All right! » yelled Deacon, « Time to rock! Speed Charms, everyone. » The three used speed charms. « And, a little music… » Just then, swing music began to sound from Deacon’s person.
« Dang it, Deac, turn your stereo down. », complained Stan, « Just what is it with you and that old-time music? It’s blasting into your freakin’ microphone, man! »
« I dunno. I kinda like the music. » , said Naomi, « But, you shouldn’t blast it. You could ruin your hearing. »
The three began to move towards the dungeon. « Hmph. You guys just don’t know. Swing is the kind of music that must be listened to loudly. If you don’t, you miss part of the song. », said Deacon.
« Hey, Deac, how many floors is this dungeon? », asked Naomi.

« Only two. », answered Deacon.

« So, this is gonna be a short op, huh? », asked Naomi.

« HEY! We even got a plan? », asked Stan.

« Yeah. ‘Plan A’: ‘Don’t do anything stupid’. », replied Deacon.

« Good enough. », said Stan.
They sped into the dungeon.


.hack//CHECK – Swing