CONruption of Data
Category: Original Work, Creative Use of Cthulhu
The excitement built within Meredith as she took her first step into the convention center. The whole month she had been on pins and needles in anticipation for what wonders await her. Her friend Vanessa had been helping fuel the fire of her enthusiasm by feeding her tidbits of new information regularly. Now they both stood within the building, mere feet from their tickets in to the convention.
“Can you believe that we are only a few people away from an awesome weekend?!” Meredith asked with so much energy. “Its seemed like forever standing in that long line.”
Her friend chuckled at her enthusiasm and then said, “It's nothing new to me, I've been coming here for eight years. But hey, you picked a great year to be your first con. '2053 Half Way There!',” Vanessa quoted the conventions slogan for the year. “It's the cons fiftieth anniversary and apparently there will be a lot of new stuff this year.” She gave a short pause before continuing, “Well its all new to you.”
Meredith just rolled her eyes and then looked over at the long table just ahead of them. There was a glowing sign that floated in the air that read 'registration'. She looked at the people that sat behind the table; there was a zombie, some kind of robotic man, a character she recognized from a space adventure show and what looked like an Anime character. All of them had a slight glow around them, except the girl at the end. She wore an elegant green dress with frills and beads and had pointy ears and her hair in a very fancy braid.
“Hey, what's up with that one,” she asked Vanessa as she pointed to the girl, “why doesn't she have a glow?”
Vanessa looked in the direction her friend was pointing and smiled. “She is what they call a cosplayer, the original form of virplay, where you physically made your outfit. Looks like she is from some fantasy story, maybe an elf.”
“Made the outfit instead of program it?” she said a bit confused, “But why?”
“It's just another form of showing their enthusiasm to the fandom they enjoy,” Vanessa explained. “Some people get great pride out of their craftsmanship abilities, it's kind of a dying art now a days.”
The line moved once again and now they were next to get registered. Vanessa ended up going to the girl that was cosplaying, as Meredith stepped up to the Anime girl.
“Hello and welcome to the convention,” the girl said, as the characters mouth moved in-sync with her words. This was the first time Meredith had seen a virplay in person and she was amazed. The detail in the digital projection that surrounded the person entirely moved as she moved. “So all you need to do is type in you pre-registration code in to this pad.”
Meredith nodded and looked at the red touch pad strapped to her wrist. She poked away at the screen of her wrist mount personal computer, better known as a Go-far, until the e-mail with the code was displayed on her screen. She then tapped the pad on the table until the code she wrote matched the one in the e-mail. It processed and the Anime girl said, “Hi Meredith.” as she pulled a tiny chip and a pin out of the base in front of her. “This is your con identity pin, you need to wear this at all times while in the convention building,” she explained while holding the pin up, then she held up the chip. “You can plug this in to your Go-far and it will show you a layout of the entire convention center and a schedule for the entire weekend.”
Meredith placed the pin on her collar and smiled and nodded at the Anime girl as she walked over to where the entrance to the convention was. The man standing next to the entrance was dressed in all black with white letters that read 'Con Security' across his back and chest. He waved what looked like a wand over her and as it passed by her pin the tip blinked green and chirped. The man smiled at her and said, “Enjoy yourself.”
Vanessa was already there waiting for her. “Should have told you to have your pre-reg code ready,” she said. “Oh well, come over here.” Meredith followed her friend to a booth that had the words 'Virplay Registration' floating above it. An anthropomorphic wolf stood behind the crescent moon shaped table.
“One con virplay chip and one to register please.” Vanessa told the wolf as she placed a chip in front of him. He picked up her chip and placed it in his reader. A small 3-D model of an outfit appeared on a pad next to it.
“Very nice,” the wolf complemented. “A female warrior from Unearthly Dragon Three right?” Vanessa nodded in response. “I see you also have a weapon to register too,” he said as the image shifted to a sword. He reached for a cylinder and placed it on the pad causing the image to disappear. He then handed the chip and the cylinder to Vanessa.
She placed the chip in her Go-far and pressed a few times on the touch pad. Static appeared all around her but quickly started to form in to armor. First her shoulder pads formed followed right behind with her torso armor, then her gloves and leg armor was next and last her boots. She was now covered in a deep blue decorative armor with gold trim around all the individual pieces. She pressed a button on the cylinder and once again static appeared until it cleared and a large broad sword was now in her hand.
“Wow” is all Meredith could muster out as she watched her friends outfit transform right in front of her.
“Well now it's your turn.” Vanessa said as she grabbed the new chip that the wolf had placed down. “This is a con provided virplay chip, it has some generic virplays and a few of the more popular ones as well. Just place it in your Go-far and choose.”
Meredith did as she was instructed and as she placed the chip in to her computer an image of an outfit displayed on her screen. She slid her finger across the pad to shift through the choices until she found a familiar face. There on her screen was one of the main characters from one of the animes that she watched. The girl had long braided red hair green eyes and blue gown. She double tapped the girls image and within seconds static formed right in front of her and then a wall of pink with green eyes staring back at her.
“I can't see anything!” Meredith said with a slight panic in her voice.
“Oh yeah,” she heard the wolfs voice and with in seconds she felt her friend placing a pair of glasses on her face. As she did Meredith could once again see the world around her.
“The glasses will see through your outfit so you can actually see,” the wolf explained. “Anytime you have a full covering cosplay you'll need these.
Now that they were all set the pair started to explore the grounds of the convention. Vanessa showed Meredith the Virtual Interactive Rooms in which a person can interactively play a game, be part of there favorite episode or a many other number of things. They walked both floors, just observing all the different things they could participate in. Soon they stopped to check the schedule and saw that the opening ceremony was going to begin, so they headed down to the auditorium.
When they walked in there was several people already seated so they decided to go ahead and find a place to sit. After sitting the pair chatted to each other as they watched more and more people pour into the large auditorium. Most of them were wearing virplays, some basic and some crazily ornate. As time drew closer, the amount of seats left open was rapidly depleting. A female cyborg ended up sitting next to Meredith as the lights dropped down low to indicate the start was near.
Suddenly and without warning, a large green figure jumped out from behind the curtain. The creature had to hunch over slightly to even fit into the room. Its large bulbous head had tentacles where normally a mouth would be and narrow red glowing eyes. As it spread out its massive arms, a pair of large wings unfolded and it leaned forward and gave a mighty roar over the crowd. The whole display utterly frightened the unsuspecting Meredith, but seemed to cause the rest of the crowd to go into a frenzy.
Vanessa looked over and laughed, “I thought it would be funnier not to tell you. That's Cthulhu the con's mascot. It's only a virtual image, nothing that will hurt you.” Meredith relaxed at these words and watched as a man walked out from behind the giant creature. “That's the chairman of the con,” Vanessa explained. The entire audience sat and listened as the chairman talked, clapped as the guests were introduced and cheered at the mention of the new features of the convention.
After the opening ceremonies were over, the pair waited for most of the seats to empty before they departed in to the common area just outside from the auditorium. They spent the rest of the evening catching virplays, and a few cosplayers, that they wanted to get pictures of and interacting with people they ran in to that they knew. Before too long they grew tired and after Meredith gave back her borrowed virplay chip, they went to their hotel room and slept.
The next morning they had awoken with great anticipation for what the day held for them. They quickly got back to the convention after being green lighted by security. Vanessa activated her virplay from the day before but Meredith went to the artist alley section where she had seen a booth that had interested her yesterday. She walked up to the booth of a guy who personally programs virplays. All the different outfits he had programed had their own little 3-D models. She looked over them and found the one she wanted.
It was a character from another Anime she watched that was based in the old west times. The girl had long blonde hair braided in to two pony tails wearing a cowgirl hat. She had on a two tone blue stripped shirt, bluejeans with chaps and brown boots. She gestured to the one she wanted and the guy pulled the chip and handed it to her after she paid. “It comes with her double bladed ax as well, and I've designed it were it won't cover your face, so no glasses needed. Just go over to the virplay reg to get it activated,” he told her.
Now Meredith was they proud owner of her own virplay chip. After a quick trip to the wolf she was sporting her cowgirl look, and like her friend she had a prop cylinder that was projecting a double bladed ax. “What now?,” Meredith asked Vanessa.
“To the V.I.R.s!,” Vanessa hollered as she started walking towards the stairs. As Meredith followed, she remembered that the V.I.R.s were the Virtual Interactive Rooms that she was shown the day prior. They went upstairs to the lines of different rooms that held the separate activities that each V.I.R. had. Vanessa knew exactly which one she was heading for. The room that was currently hosting Unearthly Dragon Three, her favorite online game. When they got to the row of V.I.R. rooms that had the one she was looking for, they stopped and talked to the woman who oversaw that particular hall.
“Yep,” the woman confirmed, “it is indeed Unearthly Dragon and there are already two players in there. I'll signal the door when you get there and let you in. If you want out just say exit, and the door way will appear.”
“But my outfit isn't from that game,” Meredith commented as they walked towards the proper door.
“Doesn't matter at a con, it's set up to accept anything cause it's not an online set up. All that matters is that you have a weapon, and you do,” Vanessa explained to her.
They approached the door and as it slid open, Meredith realized just how deprived she was compared to her friend. The open gap showed a vast mountain range that was far too large to fit into the building. They stepped through and it seemed they were instantly transported somewhere other than the convention they were at.
It looked like a place that her parents had taken her camping before. They were on a plateau with rolling mountains as far as the eye could see and a river next to them that cascaded off the rocks and down below. Behind them there was no longer a door, but a forest of tall evergreens. Off on one side of the plateau was two other armor clad warriors battling a large ugly troll.
“Now we play.” Vanessa said with a huge grin on her face as she ran towards the fight. Meredith ran after her, not quite sure what to do. When they got to the troll the other two shouted, “Great, reinforcements!” Vanessa started to hack away at the troll and dodge its attacks so Meredith copied. She swung her ax hitting the troll and moved around to try to avoid not only the club it wielded but also its huge feet.
While she was trying to avoid one of the other players she saw the shadow of the club coming down on top of her. She flinched in anticipation of the pain that would come with this unpleasant situation but none came. When she opened her eyes she was surrounded by brown walls and when it lifted she had realized that the brown walls were the inside of the digital club. Now at her feet there was a green bar that had a red tip.
Vanessa pulled Meredith away a bit to explain that the convention had the safety on so she wouldn't get hurt and that the bar was her 'life' in the game. “If it goes all red then your virplay is deactivated for a few minutes in which you can't get points when stuff is killed,” she finished explaining before running back in and dealing the final blow.
They played in there for an hour, fighting all the enemies in their path and talking to computer created characters to advance the story. Meredith was getting tired of all the running and swinging, even if her ax had no weight, just swinging got to her arms. She told Vanessa to keep going but she was going to go enjoy some of the other stuff the convention had to offer. As instructed to her prior, she said exit and off to the side the door appeared as it opened.
She exited and walked back towards the woman overseer. As she walked by, the woman's Go-far started making a terrible noise that startled not only her, but Meredith as well. “Oh no an emergency,” the woman said as she dashed off. She joined the other overseers at the top floor as they all ran out of Meredith's sight. She looked over at the freshly vacated post and saw all the screens showing what each room she oversaw was doing.
Meredith looked over them to find the room Vanessa was in. While she was scanning the eight screens the power fluxed, causing her to back up to see if she had pressed something without knowing. Not seeing anything she went back to looking and saw the screen with three armored people fighting a knight twice their size. The knight took a large swing and its sword connected with one of the guys that was playing along side Vanessa. The impact sent the guy rolling on the ground, something that seemed to not only surprise Meredith, but the two in the game as well.
She watched as Vanessa just dodged an attack, then run to the guy grasping his arm. The other guy provided a distraction as she tended the fallen. 'Was this part of the game?' Meredith wondered. As she looked at the the events unfolding she doubted it greatly as the guy's face genuinely looked as if he was in pain. Venessa looked as if she was screaming out and when that didn't work she walked with her arms out stretched until she had reached the wall.
Meredith brought her Go-far up and tried to dial her friends Go-far's number but she had no signal of any kind. She saw a communication signal and pressed in the room number. The speakers at the station came to life as she heard the voice of her friend screaming out “EXIT!” She tried talking back, “Vanessa what's wrong?”
She saw her friend take a pause and look around before saying “Meredith? Where are you?”
“I'm at the control station for this section, the woman said there was an emergency and ran off,” she explained.
“Well, we have an emergency in here, the safety seems to have been turned off. This guy in here got hit with the sword. He said it wasn't sharp more like blunt, but he thinks the impact might have broken something. Can you open the door?,” Vanessa asked with urgency in her voice.
She tried but all that happened was a control locked message. She told Vanessa that she was unable to, but she would go find help. As she turned off the communication link she noticed on the other screens panic had hit all the other rooms as well. This was a bad situation getting worse and she needed to find someone to fix it. She ran clear through the top floor and couldn't find a single staff member so she ran downstairs, an action she almost wish she hadn't have done.
It was pandemonium down there, as there were digital monsters roaming the halls terrorizing all the attendees. She reached the bottom of the stairs just as a werewolf came running around the corner towards her. She instinctively raised her ax at it and hit but it didn't seem to phase the beast as it bowled over her, knocking her to the ground. She staggered up and tried to make her way to the front doors, fighting through the panicking crowd.
She dodged a few more monsters that plowed through the crowd and as another advanced on her with sharp teeth barred, she dove through a door she fell onto. It opened into a some what dark hallway, she hurried in and closed the door. Nothing seemed to burst through, so she walked down the narrow hall until she emerged on the stage of the auditorium. To her surprise she was no longer in her virplay and her ax was once again just a cylinder.
She froze when she realize that she wasn't alone, as the giant Cthulhu stood on the other side of the stage. It looked over at her with its red eyes but then looked back over the empty seats. 'Obviously this hologram hasn't gone crazy like all the rest,' she thought to herself. She walked over to the edge of the stage and sat down. “I wish I knew what to do.” she said out loud but to no one. “Vanessa needs my help, but by the looks of things so does the whole con. Why doesn't the staff shut things down or why don't people leave. Arg, this is so flustering I have to do something besides just sit here, but what?”
She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand on her shoulder when not a sound had been made behind her. She hunched down and looked back at the man that stood behind her. He was a larger man dressed in a black shirt, pants, a long coat and sandals. He had a short beard and short side hair but his longer top hair was pulled into a ponytail. His eyes where covered by a pair of sunglasses, but he wore a comforting expression on his face. The oddest thing about him wasn't just the glow about him but the green wings that were coming from his back.
Then she realized that the giant Cthulhu was now gone so she asked, “Who are you?”
The man replied, “The better question is what. I am the digital consciousness of the original chairman, the man who started all this. As to your other question, the staff is all locked up throughout the building and no one can enter or leave for the external doors are locked tight as well.”
“Well why aren't you going nuts like the rest? Isn't there anything you can do?,” she asked the projection that stood before her.
“My program is based off a separate one from the main computer so I am not affected, plus because of the programmer who developed my system, the system would probably go up in flames before anyone could crack the code into my system. However because of this, I only have controls over this room and this room only. If the attendees would come in I could at least keep out the rouge virtual projections,” he explained. “I am however linked to surveillance, hence how I know why everyone is trapped and where the problem is coming from. That is why I need your help.”
“What me!?,” she exclaimed, “I nearly got trampled by a dozen monsters and even more people?”
“Let me see your chip and cylinder.” He asked, so she handed both to him. His sunglasses glowed for a few seconds and he handed them back to her. “Go ahead activate them.”
She placed the chip back in her Go-far and activated the suit. Like before static formed around her but when it left a golden suit of fancy armor covered her body. When she turned on the cylinder a ornate sword appeared in her hand.
“These are my gifts to you Golden Warrior,” he started. “I tweaked this outfit for you, the sword will delete any virtual projection that you wield it at, meaning other virplays too so be careful. The armor will absorb the energy from any projection that hits you so you'll take a chunk out of them instead of the other way around. Now go to the third floor control room and stop whoever is ruining this con. And may the small ponies be with you.”
The last part made her raise an eyebrow, but she had no time to question it as she ran for the main auditorium doors. Just before she went out, she looked back in time to see him turn to static and grow to reform in to the icon of the convention. She burst out into the common area and came face to face with Frankenstein's monster. With a swing of her sword it stopped in its tracks as patches of it became fragmented and then the whole image disappeared.
She fought her way back through the crowd, this time with greater ease. She informed as many people as she could of the safety that Cthulhu was providing in the auditorium. By the time she reached the stairs, word seemed to have spread through the common area, for it was starting to thin out as people moved towards their only safe zone. She quickly climbed the stairs to the second floor, some people had found refuge up there but some of the projections had followed so she cleared away what she saw before proceeding up the stairs marked staff only. She made it to the door and then paused.
What now, how would she stop whom ever was doing this? She didn't know how to shut down an entire con, especially with the person causing it there to stop her. She shook her head, it didn't matter she had to do something to save her friend and everyone else. She tried opening the door, but it was locked. Flustered, she stabbed her blade into the door's lock panel, the lights on it went crazy and then shut off. Wide eyed she pulled at the door again and it worked, the door swung open without effort.
She burst through the door to find a surprised man looking back at her. “Haa how did yoo you get in here?,” he stammered out, obviously taken back by her being there.
“With this!” she said as she held up what once was her sword but now was again a cylinder. She looked at it and herself, the armor was gone too.
“No projection units up here, so what you going to do now little gir...” He didn't have time to finish as Meredith heaved the cylinder at his face.
It smacked him right in the nose, which threw him off and caused him to grab it in pain. She ran over to the fuse boxes on the wall. She might not know how to shut off the con, but without power it would anyways. She tore open the cover and started flipping the switches to each part of the building until the whole place was dark with nothing but the natural light seeping in to see by.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!,” the man yelled through a still clenched nose as he ran toward the fuse box. She brought a knee up and caught him right in the gut. The force doubled him over, but also knocked her to the ground too. It was enough however, for she could hear the sounds of feet racing up the stairs.
A few hours later everyone was gathered back in the auditorium, the lights back on and Cthulhu looking over them. The chairman called everyone's attention to him as he began to speak. “The culprit has been apprehended and is being processed as we speak.” This caused a eruption of cheer from the crowd and the staff a like.
After it died down, the chairman continued, “He was an ex staff member who left because he felt that the con was becoming too tech based and was diverting away from what it was originally. However like the original chairman would say, this con is meant to adapt to you the attendees and not get stuck in a loop that appeals to no one.” Again the crowd burst out in cheers of agreement.
“Now lets give a big hand to the one saved this convention on its fiftieth anniversary. The girl deemed by Cthulhu as our Golden Warrior, Meredith!” For the third time in a row the crowed broke out in a frenzy of cheers, even louder then before, as Meredith climbed the stairs to the stage. She was once again dressed in her golden attire and carried the sword. As she looked out at the crowed who was cheering for her, she wondered if any other con could ever compare.