-- There was a flash of blue light --

Sam blinked a few times, trying to take in his surroundings. He felt dizzy, but knew it would pass; it always did. After a few moments had gone by, he was able to discern the somewhat large group of people assembled before him.

"And?" one of them piped up. The man looked disheveled, wore an eyepatch, and had a whip at his side. He was quite clearly expecting Sam to continue explaining something.

"And... ah..." Sam turned to the board behind him, gesturing at it with the pointer he seemed to have in his hand. Vague sketches of some building or structure with which he had no familiarity adorned the wall. "This one here..." He chose one at random. "Is different."

There was an angry rustling of movement as some shape detached itself from the shadows in the back and moved toward him. All thoughts of attempting to make up a speech fled him as he saw the large, green /thing/ approach.

The beast came up to him and stood there, staring into Sam's eyes. "Give me that," it finally said, taking the pointer.

Sam couldn't move. The lumbering beast had just spoken to him. It talked. To him. Threateningly. Sam replied the only way he could think to.

"Oh boy."

Quantum Gears
by Roger Ostrander


Sam sat through the speech, completely dumbfounded. The large green man talked about the building displayed on the screen, something about "Outfitting the gears", and finally how much contempt he had toward 'the doctor', presumably Sam, for either forgetting the briefing or being too lazy to give it. The entire lecture, especially the last part, contained far cruder language than Sam expected from a briefing, but considering he wouldn't expect language from a large green man-beast in the first place, he decided that he would simply play along.

Where the hell /was/ he? He found his mind going along that train of thought for what must have been the tenth time. The room he was in wasn't decorated in any style he had seen before; it vaguely reminded him of a ship, but the flags he'd seen adorning it weren't of any country he recalled. His memory was swiss-cheesed, true, but he couldn't imagine it would be so far gone as to have forgotten something like this.

The green man finished his speech with an emphatic "And hopefully the good doctor over there will be kind enough to give us a /real/ briefing later today" and walked out of the room. There was a moment of awkward silence, followed by everyone else filing out, attempting not to make eye contact with Sam.

Except for one - Tall and wearing an eyepatch, but much more regal than his vision-impaired comrade, the man lagged behind the rest. Once the others had left, he made his way toward Sam.

"Hyuga, you don't seem well," The man said, sounding very worried. "Events lately have taken their toll on everyone - if you need to rest, please do so."

Sam nodded. "Ah... thank you for your concern... old friend."

The other looked slightly confused by the hesitancy in his friend's voice, and Sam felt slightly confused at his sudden use of the phrase "old friend". There was a moment of silence.

"Stay well," the other man finally said, and left.

Sam sat back down. He supposed he should get up and look around; try to take stock of his situation, but he simply couldn't make himself do it. No, this was far too strange a situation to take stock of. He entertained the thought that he was on some sort of television show, but discounted it - there were no cameras, no production crew. He then entertained the idea that he was going insane. It seemed far more likely.

"Sam!" A familiar voice called.

"Al!" Sam hissed sharply and turned around, glaring at the man. He knew it wasn't likely Al's fault that he was in this situation, but the hologram could certainly have arrived a little sooner. "What the hell is going on here!?"

Al had looked uneasy upon his entry and now seemed doubly so. "Well, ah... it's a long story, Sam." He gestured toward the door. "Come on, I'll show you where you live."


"Your name is Doctor Citan Uzuki," Al pronounced, stumbling a bit over the last name. "Also known as Hyuga Ricda... Ricde... Hyuga. You're from the Sacred Empire of Solaris. There, you were a member of an elite squadron known as the Elements, working with Ramsus - he's around here somewhere - in an attempt to revolutionize the Empire, etc. Here's an interesting part - While there, you met and fell in love with Sigurd Harcourt, one of the other Elements and a former surface-dweller."

"Sigurd Harcourt?" Sam blinked.

"He's the well-dressed guy with the eyepatch. Let's see, Sigurd..." With this, Al began punching various buttons on the handlink.

"/He/?" Sam replied.

"Yeah. Says here that he's 'A man who has known life's greatest joys and wishes nothing more than to share them with the rest of the world.' Sounds like your type, Sam."

"Al! This isn't helping." Sam stood up from the bunk and looked around the rather cramped room. "Where am I?"

The hologram began looking nervous again. He'd been in his element up until now. "Well, we know that, we just haven't got the 'how' part of it figured out yet."


"Well, you see...." Al began pressing buttons on the handlink again, mainly in an effort to appear as though he was doing something productive. "All that information I just gave you came from records we've found in Ziggy's archives."

Sam sat back down. "What about the person in the waiting room?"

Al looked annoyed. "He's got even more questions than you. At least he has some patience - I'm getting to a point here! Anyway, " he continued, "that info I gave you isn't official, because... ahh..."


"Because I'm not that far in the game, okay?"

There was a moment of awkward silence during which Sam stared at Al, and Al tried to avoid eye contact with Sam. The latter finally spoke up. "Game?"

"Yeah..." Al started punching buttons again. "As near as Ziggy can figure, you're in a game."

The concept continued to be lost on Sam. "Game?"

" 'Xenogears', developed by Square corporation and published by Sony for the Sony Playstation. Released in October of 1998, and widely regarded as a damn fine game. You really need to play it Sam, it's absolutely -"

"Game!?" Sam looked both puzzled and upset. "Al, I'm in a game? How can I be in a game?"

"I told you, we don't have the 'how' worked out yet. Or the "why". We sent the intern out to go find us an old strategy guide, or a walkthrough, or something, but until then we've just got Ziggy's archives. And those are a bit... spotty."

"I noticed. So, does anyone have any idea what I'm supposed to be doing?"

Al suddenly seemed more cheerful. "As a matter of fact, we do. Ziggy says that there's a 75% chance that you're here to..." his slightly happier demeanor faded as he read what the handlink was telling him. "Um... to kill God."

"Kill God."


Another uncomfortable silence ensued.

"So Al, what you're saying..."


"Is that I've somehow become trapped in a game,"


"And the only way to get out..."

Al nodded.

"Is to KILL GOD!?" Sam stood up from his bunk. "That's insane! Are you sure about this? I mean, really, really sure? Nothing like this has ever happened. Nothing! And now, suddenly, out of the blue, something figures out how to take my theory and apply it to video games? And to get out I have to kill God?"

"That's... ah, right about where we're at, yeah." Al sh