You looked and yes indeed, their health was very low.
Reaching into your inventory, you pulled out a health potion and placed it up against the wall of the dome. Slowly it phased through and the player took it from the other side.
“Thank you… Y/N…” the player said, addressing you by your in real life name.
You froze. “How… how did you know my name?”
Just then you were shoved firmly between the shoulderblades and you fell through into the web dome.
In a panic, you jumped up and turned, placing your hands on the inside of the dome to push back out but instead you got a pretty severe zap of pain in the palm of your hands.
“Oww!” you yelped, pulling back from the glowing blue wall.
“It’s not nice to feel a zapping pain is it… professor?” the voice of Free commented darkly from the other side, standing there alone.
“You mean you haven’t figured it out yet?” Free asked with a sneer, “I thought you were supposed to be super intelligent. I guess I got all of my intelligence from my own self then…”
“G-Goha?” you asked in a trembling voice.
“Oh, so you do remember me?” Free asked, “what do you think of my dome? Nice, isn’t it?” She stepped back and gestured to it. “Or don’t you like being trapped.”
“Goha… I’m really sorry for what I did to you, I’ve been wanting to tell you that, I—,”
“Ha! You think I’m going to forgive you just like that? After everything you did to me… and everything you were going to do to me?!”
“I’ve changed,” you said, panic rising in you voice, “I promise I have.”
“People don’t change. You’re still the same and you will continue to be the same… so you need to go. And I will be you… in your place.”
“No,” you begged feebly, “please, let me show you. I just want to save these players then—,”
You looked around. They had all gone.
“You’re so easy to fool, Professor!” Free cackled, “I created those players to draw you here. I even hacked the spider on this level so that once your precious hero and his merry friends defeat the spider, it will blow the dome up and you’ll no longer be here. You won’t even exist any more. I will exist in your place.”
“Goha, please,” you begged, swiping your hand down in the air to see if you could open your menu… but you couldn’t…
“Trying to escape, are you?!” Goha asked with surprise, “it’s useless professor, now…” She reached out a hand and pushed it through the dome wall, “give me your hand… this won’t hurt a bit…”
“No! Please! Please stop, MIGATA! HELP!”
The dome started shrinking, pushing you towards Free’s hand but suddenly she stopped. Her eyes widening… then all of a sudden she evaporated.
“What the—?!” And then you evaporated too and woke up in the lab.
Migata and Butterfli3 crept ahead, with O/N just behind, watching their backs, but your blond hero just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
“What’s the spiders name again?” he whispered to Butterfli3.
“Locke,” Butterfli3 replied, “I think it’s a nordic or Swedish word…”
“Locke… is that the Swedish word for Loke? The Nordic god of mischief?” Migata asked.
“Ah! Trickster,” O/N added in from behind, “gotta watch him. He’s a shapeshifter… never is who you think he is…”
Migata’s brows furrowed. “Trickster… shapeshifter…” Then suddenly he stopped. “Guys, I’m sorry. I have to log out. Something isn’t right. I have to log U/N out.”
“What about the spider?” O/N asked.
“Go back. I don’t think the spider is the issue here,” he said, logging out and vanishing from their sight.
It was at that point that Butterfli3 and O/N heard your scream for Migata to help and they looked at each other before turning and running back to where they had left you with Free, the cameramen, and the players in the dome.
As they got back to where the dome had been they saw it had vanished and so had everyone else. No you, no Free, no cameramen, no players. Just a dead quiet cave.
“I don’t like this at all,” Butterfli3 said, “we need to leave now.”
Grabbing O/N’s hand, they made a run for the exit, managing to get out unscathed then using teleport orbs to make it back to level 44 before logging out.
“I hope everyone is ok?” O/N said to Butterfli3 once they were back in the safety of the house.
“I’ll text Migata once we log out,” Butterfli3 said.
*at Goha’s suspected apartment*
Hansu slowly pushed the apartment door open and stepped inside.
It was perfectly clean and all the windows were closed so he had to wait until his eyes adjusted in the dark.
Listening again for any noise, he crept into the kitchen then out the other side to where there was a small lounge and bed.
As he stood there, he made out the form of someone lying in the bed and his heartbeat started to go wild. He stepped back into the shadows of the kitchen and pulled his phone out to send a location pindrop to Hawks- and to make sure his phone was on silent.
He looked back into the room again and peered at the being, noting that they had a helmet looking item on their head.
“Is that the nerve gear?” he thought, creeping in a little closer.
As he approached the side of the bed, his heart nearly stopped.
The being lying there in the bed, was Goha.
With shaking hands, he pulled the USB and leads from his pocket, then connected the leads to his earpiece and the other end to the USB.
Opening his mouth so that he could mouth breathe – so as not to make too much noise, he tried to clip the other end of the wires to the side of the nervegear on Goha’s head.
It was a little fiddly and his fingers were shaking but eventually he managed to plug it in.
Reaching for his earpiece, he pressed the on button that would start the programming, then waited, the earpiece whirred to life and suddenly Goha’s eyes opened.
Hansu nearly had a heart attack, but as soon as their eyes opened, they went dim and closed again but suddenly he had a splitting headache, as Goha channeled themselves up the wires and into his earpiece, sending out purple veins and implanting themselves into Hansu’s brain- like a tumor.
Now under the control of the AI being, Hansu unplugged the wires from the headset and turned to leave.