Da Boyz Isekai
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Mark Nicholson isn't your average African American otaku from Alabama, but one thundering night everything changes. Hooked up to the Nerve Core Virtual Reality gaming set, Mark and his childhood friends, Bonner and Q are sent through the tunnels of light and dark to another world resembling that of a video game that they attempted to play together during a mystery update. Craving for change and thirsting for adventure. Mark casts aside his own mediocrity in order to don a new name and alongside his friends and gains a lofty ambition: World Domination. Though a world stuck within it's own ideals is sure to resist, but can Mark and his friends gain the power necessary to become conquerors of their new world?!
Prologue: Fledgling Medocrity
Mediocrity is something that everyone is bound to encounter throughout the lengthy journey that they refer to as their lives. Some more than others, but that was a perceived fate for myself, Mark Nicholson. I was a guy that currently believed that it was my destiny to waste away working in the warehouse for individuals that I will possibly never meet or recall the name of.
The constant routine of traveling from home to work, and then from work to home had me seeping down with the depths of despair the longer that I was caught within the vicious cycle. If you were to ask me about my current predicament I would likely tell you that I was no different from any common machine. I stood at six feet tall and hailed from African American descent, I often felt small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Unfortunately, even to myself I was often not unremarkable in my own eyes, but my deep rooted insecurities caused me to shy away and stand within the shadows. My inherent ability to conceal my presence and in essence become a fly on the wall was something that I learned early on in my lifetime.
As I stood there I learned to become soaked in the conversations of others despite not really caring about the specifics of the conversation. That was just the way that I was, so I just often embraced the nature of myself.
The current time was nine o'clock and the familiar sound of tape being slashed was often drowned out by the loud beeping of the nearby machinery. Standing within the confines of one of the many workspaces of the facility, I found myself reminiscing about my desires that I had once possessed.
Naturally, one may find me standing there doing my job of opening the overabundance of boxes and locating the proper location to slide them in. Despite having mixed feelings about the job, I took my job extremely seriously,
"How idiotic can a bunch of people be? It is a simple job and these fools can't do the job that even the most basic of commoners could do."
A wrinkle in my bushy brows formed as I spoke with the utter disappointment and annoyance that I felt when I located an error that one of my predecessors had left behind. My glasses began to slide down the slit of my nose following the comment. Tilting my head forward allowed me to gain a better viewpoint in order to properly assess the situation.
Quickly using my unoccupied hand to slide them back upon their rightful place. I once more found myself standing amongst the sea of cardboard and dust that lined the row of shelves in front and behind me. I had a lanky, but yet lean frame that stood out amongst the much smaller boxes.
My eyes squinted and my thoughts began to circulate. These types of mistakes often brought out the verbal disapproval and animosity that I reclusively kept locked within. I utterly despise the sheer incompetence of most of my peers that worked the same job. My slim fingers twisted the unkept edge of my bushy and untrimmed mustache that wrapped around my upper lip as if I were some type of vaudevillian. I found myself taking some semblance of pride in my facial hair despite the lengthy time it took to grow it, but my mustache had yet not connected to its goatee counterpart.
Much like my mustache, my goatee and sideburns remained untrimmed and bushy as that was its natural state. Dumbfounded with stupidity I spoke once more out loud to air my grievances,
"This clearly says that this box belongs to 66 -64 -Tier 4 - Position 5. People who slip up and make errors like this lack both the brain cells and mental fortitude as a damn Jumping Spider. Now I must correct this issue."
Issues like that often pop up during my shift and at this point, I became more frustrated as things progressed throughout the night. My fingertips would easily fit within the grooves of my trusty silver boxcutter as I slid the blade down back inside of it in order to place it down safely in his utility belt. It was his duty now to correct the transgression. Crouching down to one knee and slid the medium sized box safely from its place on the bottom shelf.
"Then you should correct the issue without a single argument. That is what Jesus would do. He would do what is necessary without complaint. After all, when he took to the cross for your sins, he did not voice a single complaint."
I was slightly spooked by the sudden confrontative voice, but my nerves soon loosened when I recognized the tone of the voice. Glancing over from the corners of my eyes from the crouched position I resided in, a response was due immediately,
"Bonner. Jesus healed the injured and tended to the lame and as a reward for his labor, they strung him up like common livestock."
The response would prompt a chuckle from the group as I rose to my feet to greet the person greeting me. My brown eyes would immediately associate the two individuals that now stood before me with familiarity. Standing before me were both of my closest friends that worked the shift with him.
The one that spoke was Bishop Bonner or simply referred to as Bonner by those close to him, and the other was Qayshaun Bedgood often referred to as Q or Jacket. Bonner was the smaller of the two when it came to height. Standing around five feet, eight inches tall, Bonner was the closest thing that we have to a monk in my actual life.
The male had darker skin shade than myself, but he was arguably the healthiest of us three if not by a slim margin. He actually took the time to work out. His physique was more toned and trained. He held Christian belief for the most part and used it as a guiding principle, but ultimately much like the rest of us, his hypocrisy reared its head at times. His hair was black like ours, but it was much shorter and more trimmed than my own.
While mine was akin to a wild and untrimmed medium sized afro, Bonner had a more kept and refined look to his short afro. We did have one physical aesthetic in common and that was our glasses. We both had comically bad eyesight as we both are nearsighted, but Bonner had the superior eyesight as mine were destined to get worse as I age.
Bonner is an individual that holds his own moral etiquette on a pedestal and would not hesitate to call out others on their breach of it. It was always an experience to witness Bonner call out some poor sap on Infinity Unleashed, just for his ill temper to flare up and he contradicts himself right there.
Q on the other hand had a different build than us. He was more stocky and a bit darker, but he had the unfortunate inability to grow facial hair. Although when I mentioned it, he would always insist that it was on the way. His hair on his head was a different case though. He had no problem growing there and he was often seen braiding his hair to keep them maintained. He was about five feet-ten inches tall with brown eyes like the rest of us. All three of us are of African American descent, so it's only natural that we have certain physical aspects that are similar.
Personality wise, Q was typically more impatient than the rest of us and more instinct based, especially when it came to video games. He was a man that spoke his piece whenever he wanted and let his opinions be known with confidence. Although we all squabble from time to time, Bonner and I respected his opinion and the vice versa was also true. He was quite the jokester when we were in high school and he was always there to make us laugh and we all participated in a friendly rivalry in that regard. Always attempting to one up each other with our snarky remarks and our overall asshole nature.
"That's not the point, Mark. You gotta do it, so might as well do it.", Q adds in teasingly.
"I ain't got to do anything, but be black and die. Fixing the mistake of some smooth brained imbecile wasn't in my job description.", I retorted.
As we spoke the loud ringing of a bell echoed throughout the facility as that was the indicator needed for us to recognize that it was time to head home. We looked at each other, but the unspoken desire to head home was common amongst our collective. With long strides, all three of us would inevitably clock out from our job and walk out of the door of the facility that we work after another day spent as essentially cogs in the corporate machine.
As we moved past the security measures of the exit, I could hear the heavy patter of the rain outside of the facility. Though I anticipated that the rain would happen due to the weather report, it appeared that the rain had come earlier than I imagined. I was frankly caught off guard since I didn't bring a jacket, and the fact that I absolutely hated it when my clothes got wet didn't make the experience any better.
"So, You gents, hopping on Infinity Unleashed tonight? I believe that there was supposed to be this massive update earlier today. There is supposed to be a big event going on. ", I asked the two once we made it to the car and entered it.
Infinity Unleashed was a major MMORPG game that I had been playing for a while now. Bonner and I discovered it together a couple months ago, so we've been playing it longer. Q on the other hand wasn't that big on the genre, but I was able to convince him to download it.
Infinity Unleashed boasts itself on the user's ability to direct their own destiny and have near infinite choices on their experience. A world that sits outside our own with superpowered beings where one person could be a world saving knight and another could pursue their dreams of being a baker on the same server.
It was truly a marvelous game and since it was the Nerve Core Virtual Reality set, then it allowed for full immersion for the player. It didn't take a genius to figure out why something like that became an instant hit on par with the Call of Duty games. For the last two months, me and the boys have been logging in together and doing whatever we deemed interesting at the time, but this next update was supposed to be a game changer. I read online that the company that runs the servers stated that there was supposed to be this huge event that happens if you were logged on at midnight tonight.
"Yeah. We still have to finish what we were doing yesterday anyway. We were close to the edge of the map. That Lynx beast was supposedly there and you'll get mad XP if you manage to defeat that thing. It's on par with a mythical beast.", Bonner answered.
Since we all worked together and we lived in the same apartment complex, all three of us decided to carpool to and from work. As the only one with his license. I was our designated driver and thus as I drove us home we usually talked game jargon to pass the time.
"I think its a level 60 monster, so that shit will be hard as fuck. No problem though, but y'all gotta make sure to keep me alive. I'm looking at you, Bishop.", Q added. A smirk appeared on his face when I glanced into the mirror.
I snickered lightly as the meaning at the jab sparked the memory of the event. It was common for Bonner to completely abandon us or his teammates in first person shooters or MMORPGs despite being the character that we rely on for healing. It was what would be referred to as an "Bonner Moment." A Bonner Moment is a moment when a person breaks down in times of stress and indecision clouds their mind. They then decide that the best course of action is to flee without thinking of others, even when there are better options on the table.
"Now listen. It was your own fault that charged those weak ass Kobolds and got down. Them bitches were like level 37 and you were only level 25. There were like twelve of them.", Bonner says.
"It was your fault. Mark came in to help, but you just left us. You were our healer, and you ditched us just to go die anyway."
"Nah. You ran in and got Mark killed too. I can't heal y'all like that. My spells got them long ass cooldowns. They still need to buff that honestly. I have to wait twelve whole seconds just to heal someone. It shouldn't be like that."
"A lot of the stuff in that game is unbalanced. That's why you see a lot of small Kitsunes running around the place. They are amongst the strongest races they have to offer. Especially full bred Kitsune Knights and Mages. They are incredibly busted.", I chipped in.
It did not take long for us to reach our respective homes and the rain hadn't wavered throughout the long commute. Our conversation managed to stop there for now, but we all had agreed to log on tonight and play until midnight to see the event for ourselves. There was little time left until said event would be transpiring, so I undertook my after work routine of showering, eating my dinner and lastly logging on. A process which normally took an hour.
Nothing out of the ordinary had happened at first, but I grew excited by the prospect of the secret event that was going to happen now in a few minutes. I sat down in my Nerve Core VR gaming chair and began to synchronize my senses to the party system of the console once I placed on the helmet. In an instant, I had what would be described as an out of body experience and I was linked to our established party.
" Well- Well look who decided to show up. We were just talking about you.", Q mused as soon as their avatars came into play.
"You're late Mark. Do better.", Bonner snapped, but I was quick to retort.
"Pot meet Kettle. You are always late, Bonner. Late to every fight, Late to every decision. I arrived on time. You two are early in this specific instance. Anyway, Things set up on y'all end? I'm logging in as we speak."
They both confirm that they were logging in to the game as I was. The familiar jingle of the theme music started playing and as usual the standard NPC characters appeared on the screen in a cinematic video, but something unusual happened. While there is no defined main character other than your own avatar, there is the a few notable ones that show up throughout our journeys. There they all were moving to the rhythm of the surprisingly catchy theme song, and unleashing their badass fight chorography. As I was enjoying myself a thunderous boom could be heard from the outside of the gaming set and then darkness ensued.
"Tch- The power went out.."
At least that is what I had initially thought. As I sat there with my headset on I could not see nor sense anything, but darkness. Perks of virtual reality as one may expect, but after all the hours that I lived within that environment I could tell that this experience was fundamentally different. Drifting within this newfound limbo I now began thinking that this must be the new event promised to use by the developers of Infinity Unleashed.
A black hole event, perhaps? No. That couldn't be the case. There has been no indication of such a thing in the history of the game up to that point. For the lack of a better phrase; I was at a loss. I could not firmly grasp the situation as it appeared that my perception of my current reality was being bent and twisted.
It remained like that for minutes until I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Not figuratively, but actually literally. Within that tunnel of darkness was the first indication of change that I had come across since my introduction to the event. The power of this light was blinding, so much so that I instinctively closed my eyes. Even then I found that this light pierced even my eyelids. It was inescapable.
Left floating towards the light I could sense an uncharacteristically pleasant feeling wash over my being. It was like stepping into a perfectly temperature shower after a long day of work. Washing all of the grime and worry that I had picked up in an instant. Stress, pain, all of it was no more. It was almost angelic, but as I feared all good things must come to an end.
As more of the light enveloped my body I could sense that my equilibrium was suddenly thrusted off its axis. I began to shake as my body began experiencing intense pain from various parts. My ears, mouth, and lower back were all shooting with burning pain that I had never encountered before.
It was as if something was tearing those areas apart. It was the worst feeling that I had come across in my entire life and my body withstood a car accident and my ACL was severed into oblivion. This was bad, but I had no way of shutting off this pain. I wish that I did, but I couldn't. In the end I was powerless before it and I hated it.
I hated it with a passion. My nerves felt as if electricity shot throughout my body and my blood replaced with boiling magma. Everything was happening to me and it was all due to that mysterious light. The light that expanded until the darkness that was once there was no more.
'The hell is going on?! What the hell is happening?! Why is this happening?! Why am I so heavy?!'
Those were the questions racing through my mind, but as sudden as the pain started it had ceased. Much like a heavy stone dropped into a still lake, I fell out of the light.
A loud thud could be heard as I fell out of the light and cast into an unfamiliar place. The ground was firm and ragged, but surprisingly enough I did not feel even an ounce of pain from the fall. My vision was blurry indicating that my glasses were not currently present on my snout. Though even without it I could sense that I was no longer within the security of my room.
I could not grasp a proper understanding of my surroundings due to my poor vision, but I could speculate. Immediately I propped myself up and began reaching around with my bare hands. The terrain was solid and rough indicating that I was touching some type of rock. It could've been the same material all around, so I squinted in a vain attempt to get a better look. Then it hit me. My questions slammed into my brain like a runaway train.
'What was that pain from earlier? That light… That heaviness. All of it was odd. Did the game glitch…malfunction? Am I entitled to compensation now?'
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