[Second Saga], a new VRMMO. An idea that was completely unheard of until now. The creator, Phoenix Enterprises, announced a miracle. The first quantum computer was officially created. An uproar was the least that was expected in this case. While Phoenix did not release the identity of the person in charge of the creation, they did however tell the world their plans. It was to create a virtual reality. A different type of shock covered the world. Everyone excitedly anticipated the arrival of such a dream-like existence. Thus Phoenix stocks rose to a whole new level within minutes. People were constantly arguing over whether they could buy more. With such a powerful existence backing them, the quantum computer, they could even fight against the world. That was just the power of a quantum computer, but instead they decided to bring virtual realities into the world and become the pioneer into new technology. Though it may have seemed like the government would claim to have rights to the quantum computer, they were no match to the power Phoenix had already gained. Thus Phoenix became an existence surpassing any company and it led the world into a new age of entertainment.
Landon returned quickly from the cemetery. It was not a place he would like to have lingered too long and even more so, he could not afford to. He was walking on the streets back to his apartment to get changed from a mourning dress suit into his work clothes. The two sisters were, of course, nowhere to be found as it was too early for them to be let off to bother their big brother until the afternoon. In his cheap paled jeans and plain white V-neck shirt, he rushed back towards the Old Man’s restaurant.
“Welcome. Sorry, I’ll be there as soon!”
A lovely sounding voice greeted Landon as he entered, but he did not bother waiting and crept passed the entrance into the lobby area.
“No worries. It’s just me, Sarah.”
“Oh! Alright. Landon, the boss will be happy you’re here. Go let him know. I’m so busy. I don’t even remember half the orders….”
While her attitude started strongly cheerful, it became more depressed as she was reminded of her work load. Landon smiled wryly but did not say anything and continued to the kitchen.
“Yo, brat, you’re here, aren’t you?”
Before Landon was able to greet the Old Man, he was found out.
“Yeah, I hear you needed help.”
“Of course I need help on my busiest day!”
‘Then why did you give me the day off,’ Landon grumbled and somehow he felt guilty
while he was the victim. Though it was not something he would say to the Old Man as while he might be old, he was definitely lively. In the beginning, when he, the Old Man, recruited him from the streets, the first thing he remembered was being beaten every day. Landon trembled at the thought and shook his head to forget about it.
“Yo, what’s wrong? Well, I knew you wouldn’t take the day off anyways, so I only told you that you could take it off to. You can thank me later. Hurry up and put on your vest and get started.”
‘Why would I thank you if you told me your scheme now…’
Once again feeling wronged, Landon dragged his unmotivated body into the back and got changed. As he came out, the Old Man turned around and called out to him.
“I got something for you after work, so be sure to stick around until I’m done.”
Like that, he went back to tossing the frying pan up and down while an omelette flew and landed perfectly back into the pan. Landon was always amazed at his ability to do things greatly with little effort, but complaining would solve nothing and he knew that it took considerable practice to be able to cook like the Old Man. It was the Old Man who taught Landon most of his recipes. After all a cookbook would cost money, money which Landon did not have. Inhaling with exaggeration, Landon started his day. Because the restaurant was small, it gave off a fun atmosphere; the people who came were friendly and most of them were regulars. Therefore Landon and Sarah did not have much trouble serving for them. While there were the few odd misfits, once the Old Man appeared, they would act like angels and even give an exorbitant tip.
Today was luckily one without hassle and all the regulars came, and teased Landon about getting a wife. Of course the one they were referring to was Sarah. Sarah who overheard their conversations was dyed with a flush of scarlet and ran away to avoid being teased any further. Though, this was exactly why they did it. The reaction was too cute and as adults, how could they not understand the vibe. Although, at first Landon did not pay attention, after the constant jokes, it was hard not to notice how beautiful she was. With shoulder length blonde hair, with every step, it would bob back and forth. Her smile was so bright her first greeting alone was able to bring her tips to the max. Her green eyes were deep and sucked you in. When Landon was busy staring, she would get nervous and start to blush breaking eye contact. Landon would realize his mistake and apologize, but it was a regular occurrence and even still, she could not keep eye contact with him. The sight of her hugging the tray while asking for an order was enough to make any guy want to hug her tightly and bring her home. Of course anyone who made a single step met with the wrath of the Old Man. Why? Because she was his daughter and as a protective and completely and utterly terrifying Old Man, no regular would dare tease her too far.
The day went quickly. With a job he enjoyed and customers being friendly, it was hard for the day not to go by fast.
“Landon, Dad’s waiting for you upstairs. He said, when you’re done, to meet him in his room.”
While Sarah was talking to him, she was avoiding his gaze with all her power and even then, she was becoming redder than an apple.
“Thanks, Sarah. I just finished, so I’ll be going up.”
She brightly smiled in response while he could not help but feel embarrassed thinking how cute she was at that moment. He rushed up the stairs to avoid being found out that he himself was turning red.
Knocking on the door once and about to for the second time, he was urged in with a ‘just get inside’. Landon entered and stared at the Old Man. In fact at this very moment, he was terrified. The death glare that was being given off was enough to make him immediately close the door and walk away for a second.
“If you don’t get back here, you really will die before you get outside.”
“Yes, sorry. I just felt I walked into the wrong room for a second.”
A simple look was enough to make Landon stop his jokes and he sat down reluctantly in front of the Old Man. Leaning over his desk with his chin on his hands, he became even more serious.
“Okay, Landon, jokes aside. Marry my daughter.”
‘I THOUGHT YOU JUST SAID JOKES ASIDE’
Landon screamed in his head. Although he was screaming inside his head, there was absolutely no trace of it on his expression. In fact, there wasn’t even a twitch of his muscles as if this was an everyday occurrence and actually that was indeed the case. The Old Man would drag him into this terrifying mood and bring down a bomb on him. But in the Old Man’s case, he was completely serious.
“Okay, you’re still young. You can think about it more. But if you break my lil’ girl’s heart…..”
It didn’t even need to be explained as Landon’s gaze met with a clenched fist giving off the aura of death.
‘One day, he’s seriously going to kill me.’
Landon felt depressed, but it was no different from another day. So as long as he treated Sarah right and worked hard, the Old Man acted more like a father than anything. That was indeed something he was grateful for so he never once did something that would make the Old Man disappointed in him.
“I’ll be sure to be careful.”
Landon responded as he tilted his body in the direction that would allow him to be farthest from that fist.
“Now, for once, I have called you to be serious.”
‘You weren’t serious the last hundred times! Liar!’
Nodding in his head, his inner monologue was for him to know only. The Old Man continued.
“I know you’ve been staring at the billboard across the street for a while now.”
Landon gave a confused glance at the Old Man’s ambiguous statement.
“I have a few shares in Phoenix and I’ve been given a Box Unit, and although I played games back in my day as well, it’s simply not something for me while Sarah’s interest is well…too focused on one thing at this moment.”
“Sorry, I’ll have to refuse.”
The answer was quick and how wasn’t it? It was obvious. There was simply no way Landon could take a game unit from his boss that cost a few thousand for free.
“Hey, I didn’t say it was for free. Okay, who am I kidding? It’s free so take it. I already sent them the address for the installation of the unit. Also I got a hold of your two sisters and made sure they were in on it.”
He gave a hearty laugh like a child succeeding in their first prank. Landon was defeated. If it was something his sisters were in on, then there was no way from him to argue at all.
“I’ll take it on one condition….”
“Wait, I didn’t even say what that was.”
“It’s simple. You want to pay for it.”
Landon opened his mouth which dangled there for a few seconds before closing and nodding.
“Brat, let me tell you a secret. The reason why I gave you this unit is for your own
good. You’re a smart kid so you should know the expense on buying these units and better yet, who buys them.”
Landon nodded. It was obvious. Only the rich could afford it, but what Landon didn’t understand was what that had to do with the current topic.
“Of course, you might not understand with just that so let me explain to you.”
The Old Man curled his finger and gestured him to come closer.
“You’re going to become a Core Gamer.”
Landon had already left the restaurant and now he was slowly walking towards
home. Staring at the ground, of the snow that was covering the ground. He watched his steps sink into the snow, his mind was wandering and he was thinking of many things. Money, his family, his deceased parents, his father-like Old Man and his friend Sarah. He was given a chance. There was no way he could deny that. Clenching his fist with new determination, he sprinted home. For the first time, he didn’t look at the billboard because he was given the chance to change his life.