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Here is "Wide Open Spaces." A look into the world of Avara, and a supplement to the gaming experience. What you read here is a blend of fiction and real games that I have played, my own experiences with Avara. Some of the names have been changed to protect the weak. Remember, all players are respected until defeated in battle; while playing Avara, you have the right to remain silent, any wise-ass remark is liable to get you shot; you have the right to bring an attorney, be aware that lawyers are my number one target; and last of all; enjoy "Wide Open Spaces."

-- Joshua Bruce, creator of "Wide Open Spaces."

Episode Three

Prologue

Here is the dawn of a new era. The era of man versus machine. It is 2023, and a machine race unknown to human kind has invaded Earth. Fantastic warships and quick strike craft barrel down from the sky, unleashing their fury, not on humans, but on our mother; Earth. The biological warfare kills off all vegetation, and the face of the world is drastically changed. Human life is scattered to the four corners of the globe, and alien force begins the grim task of scouting out and killing off the remaining humans.

On the distant shores of Turkey, human casualties number in the millions, as the large city of Istanbul is the first to be destroyed. Left behind are few survivors. One of them is a young man who has lost his family and friends... all alone in the safe haven of a building burnt to the ground years ago, underground and safe from the biological weaponry.

Troy

He awoke with a start, like from a bad dream of terrors. He realizes however, that his dreams were real, that he saw his family die, and remembers vaguely falling down, into the very Earth it seems. He looks around, not knowing where he is, never seeing this place before. He recognizes from somewhere, but he knows not where he's seen these walls before. Tall, proud walls surround him and hold up the dirt that surrounds the city, but, there is light shining from somewhere... he goes towards it, but then holds back. He remembers the horror of choking and gasping for breath; the sting of burning gas, and he steps away from the wall. Instead, he looks for food, water, anything that will help him survive.

The dark walls are twisted, battle worn, and the young man starts trying to piece together the mystery that has become of him and this place. He searches corridors, long and short, twists through the castle maze until he sees them; two awful wooden planks, ten meters high. They are the Scean Gates, the gates that once held the Greek Army from laying siege to the city of Troy. The young man turns around, he stares into the dark courtyard behind him, straining for the clue that he needs. And as he peers into the darkness, walking ever so slowly, light breaks into the cavern, revealing a horse's head... made out of wood.

He backs up in horror, the word "Troy" rings in his head. The light grows larger, and with a large thud of dirt hitting the castle floor, an object appears out of the light. It is round and terrifying , it's large circular shape broken in the front, giving the appearance of claws, massive claws, guarding a large orb of intense light. The young man is frozen, entranced by the glowing center piece of this invader, watching it grow slightly in intensity. Something triggers in his mind, and he leaps to the left, as a bolt of searing energy zips by him. The energy star hits the castle wall, shaking the entire city. Dirt falls all over, and the young man sees only that, and the pale reflection of the wooden horse before a rock hits him on the head.

Avara

"Where..." He rises slowly, his head throbbing in pain.

"Sit down, man, rest up. Take your time, you're safe."

"Huh?" His vision begins to come to, and the distortion of colors blends into tangible shapes. He sees bright lights, like a doctor's office that he went to, and he tries to think back, tries to remember what it was that he was doing there.

"Don't think to hard, I can't remember anything much either." The speaker is another young man, older than him, but not by much. "Name's Dstortion... what's yours?" he asks.

"Name? I can't..." he sighs in resignation. "What good is it? What would it mean?"

Dstortion laughs. "Good point. I guess that's why we all have different names now, no point in trying to remember something that doesn't exist, I guess." Dstortion sits about five feet from the young man, leaning towards the young man on the couch.

One name pounds in the young man's head, even though he knows it is not his real name. It is a name from antiquity and stories; it is a name from Troy. "Achilles," he says.

"What was that?"

"Achilles. Call me Achilles."

Dstortion smiles. "Achilles it is. Here, let's get you up and introduce you to everyone." He stands up, helping Achilles to his feet and leading him down a corridor.

Achilles looks around, looking at the walls, covered with sensors and lights. "How did you find me? Where am I?" Nervousness pads his voice, and he struggles with the notion that he is safe.

"From what I know, they found you in a buried castle or city or something. They kept mentioning irony for some reason." Dstortion laughs. He realizes how odd this must be to the new arrival.

"They, who's 'they'?"

"My friends. That's who we are going to meet. I didn't go with them when they went looking for survivors. But they put me in charge of looking after you. Hey. Go figure."

"Saying 'they' all the time is making me nervous."

Dstortion smiles. "Yeah, I guess it would. I'd try to explain what's going on, but it's a long story, and Berserkir explains it so much better."

Achilles shook his head. "I'm not going to ask."

As they walk in a large room, Achilles looks around at the technology littered around the room. He remembers what those boxes on the desks are called. "Macintosh."

"Heh Heh. The power to save the world." Dstortion quotes the Apple commercial from 1996 in which the Mac was featured in the movie about saving the world.

"Classic movie," remarks Achilles. "Independence Day. Kinda scary, we're in our own little version of that, it seems."

"How right you are, my friend," says a figure out of another corridor. His accent is thick with a southern twang. "And welcome to the freedom fighters." He smiles. "My name's Cajun."

"Achilles." Achilles offers a shaky hand.

"See you met Dstortion. Well, there's a lot of things that you should know, but I want to throw you into the thick of it right off the bat. You'll have plenty of time to ask questions, but I think a lot of them will be answered out there." He points to vast wasteland that sits outside the window.

Achilles approaches the window. The land is barren. No vegetation, no mountains are visible. He shakes his head in disbelief. Then something catches his eye. There is a structure, just off to the left, like a square, lifted off the ground by pillars, and connected to the ground by ramps. There are small barriers and one large block, that black is connected to one of the small 'walls' by another ramp. But even more appealing to Achilles eye are two roving machines... both bipedal, attacking each other. As the battle wears on, one of the machines lobs something at the other, and destroys it. But the material falls away, and soon, a new craft is created, as the previous victor runs off.

"What the..." he can not even finish his sentence.

"Ever hear of the HECTOR project, Achilles?"

"Yeah... by," something clicks in his head. "my god. Those are HECTOR's?!?"

Dstortion looks out on the crafts in the distance. "Yep. Those are our last chance to fight off the UFO's."

"UFO's?"

"Those round thing-ama-bobbers. The ones that look like evil flying saucers. Those are what we go to kill."

The specter of war looms in Achilles' mind. The young man looks out at the wide open spaces before him. Something from his past tries to work it's way into his head, but like the man said... there is plenty of time to ask questions. The real question is out in the Avara.


This ends episode three of Wide Open Spaces. In episode four, we follow our new found friends Dstortion, Cajun and Achilles into the training wheels of the HECTOR program, and meet many new people involved with the quest for knowledge, control of the Earth, and freedom. All of this to be found in the vast open of the Avara. For further reading of Wide Open Spaces, check out http://indy.mvbms.com/~pulse/avara/pub/wos.vault.cgi.

Ed Note -- Joshua Bruce is a computer science major at the fine university of CalPoly. Aside from finding new ways to not do his homework by playing games, Joshua is regarded as the best trash talker in the game. Joshua can be found in the world of Avara as 'Achilles', and if you really want to know more about him, visit http://www.calpoly.edu/~jbruce/. See you on the battlefield.


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