Always remember...At the heart of all fiction is a truth.
It was just another very late evening in the Editorial Office here at Tip.It when a man burst through the door. His hair was a mess and his face wasn't looking much better. A small waterfall dripped from his jacket, accompanied briefly by the pitter-patter of the rain outside on the street, until he let the door slam shut.
You may have expected me to be startled. You may have thought I would be frightened. But no, I was just tired. Even the numbers of the clock appeared to droop with sleep. I could barely make it out: 3:31 in the morning was the time. Everyone else was asleep, but here I was, trying to compose an article for later that day. Tripsis was supposed to be here at8, and I knew she would kill me if it wasn't finished. Maybe this man could give me some inspiration.
"What do you want?" I asked him sharply. It came out a bit more harshly than I had intended. I had forgotten how cranky coffee made me.
The man looked turned to me, his face safely concealed by the veil of a hood. "I have something important to tell you," he said quietly, almost in a whisper.
"I don't," I began, shoving my chair backward, away from the desk, "—have time—" I stood up, "for 'tell me's!" I hurled the cheap ballpoint pen I had been holding across the room and extended one long, bony index finger toward the door. He did not react and I stood there, trembling slightly.
"There's no need for anger," he said in a deep voice, "I offer one more time, or there will be grave consequences for all."
I sat back down. Then I stood back up. The thought of an overdose of caffeine making me look ridiculous coursed through my mind. I really needed to cut back. My eyes met where I imagined his were. I had two words for this guy. "Show me."
We sprinted through the streets of Cambridge, taking no care to dodge puddles, until we arrived at St John's Innovation Centre. The hooded stranger took out a key chain and tossed and caught it deftly by a sparkling silver key using two fingers. Effortlessly, he slid it into the lock and there we were, walking in through the front door in the middle of the night. I started to gaze around but he caught my attention, holding a finger to his lips to indicate silence and then taking off. I had no time to observe my surroundings, and used one hundred percent of my energy to follow him. Several times he dodged around apparently invisible obstacles, and I copied without question.
Then we dived into an empty room and he motioned for me to get under the table. He took out an object that resembled a knife (although it was an open question as to how much identification could take place in the near darkness) and etched a line in the floor. It glittered slowly, then disappeared, and we sat on opposite sides. "Listen," he told me, "When you find out what you need to know, leave here and warn the others. Do not cross this line and you will not be harmed."
Then he paused. The low contrast between his hand and the ambient darkness was no barrier to seeing it tremble as he finished. "You have to let them take me."
It was at this point that I had a strong feeling that I had been duped by this guy. "Now you look here," I said, shaking my finger at him. "You drag me here into this building in the middle of the night, and then you go on about this. Well, I've had just enough of this nonsense." I suddenly lunged at him, but in mid leap, as my fingertips were about to cross the line drawn, the sound of a heavy footstep made me stop dead. The lights flicked on. I sat there petrified, and more and more followed. I noticed the chair legs moved back and human legs appeared there. There must have been people arriving for a meeting of some sort.
"Alright everyone, let's review the plan for the takeover," droned a familiar voice. It was Mod Emilee. Could she be plotting something sinister? Of course not. But what was Jagex doing meeting at...4 am? Was that the time?
"As you all know," she continued, "We are in the final stage of Operation Takeover." There were no capital letters, but it sounded like there should be. "We have been massively successful in our true ambition, which is..." There was a dramatic pause. "Dividing the players!"
Wild cheering and stamping of feet broke out. I had to tuck my hands closer to my body for fear of being crushed.
"All this year we have made players at each other's throats. Whether it's the next update or the Squeal or Fortune or Solomon's General Store, players have fought consistently. And while they are distracted, we've progressed with our plan to take them all over. So tell me now, ladies and gentlemen..Who is going to take them over?" The sound of a fist slamming the table thundered through the air. The chairs pushed back and people rose, chanting "Ja-gex, Ja-gex, Ja-gex!"
"There is just one little nuisance to clean up first: the Tip.It Editorial Panel office," and I heard her spit. My blood coursed through my veins. I was livid.
"And then everyone's left wrist will be branded with Jagex, and we will take over the world!" screamed Mod Emilee. At this point, I had had enough. I stood up and I smashed my head on the table. That made me mad. I lifted the table, carried it, and smashed it into someone's chest. First I saw her legs flailing wildly, and then I saw her face: it was Mod Emilee I had gotten. Now the room was quiet, and the Jmods were all looking at me, with fire in their eyes. There was only one thing I could do.
"He did it!" I exclaimed, pointing at the old man. But as I looked back, I froze. He had ripped off his hood and his identity was crystal-clear: the gentleman Alg had told us about, for the Behind the Scenes article we had gotten earlier in the year. But in my moment of hesitation the Jmods had caught me. They held something to my arm, and suddenly I knew no more.
Someone was shaking me. It was Tripsis waking me up, and my heart sank as I realized I had fallen asleep, with no article. "Very nice," she said, much to my surprise. I looked down at my desk, and there was not only an article, but it was a vivid transcription of the events in that night's dream. I looked up awkwardly, not knowing what to see. Slowly, my left shirt sleeve slid down to reveal "Jagex" tattooed on it, with nearly perfect coloring. I flicked my wrist back and forth several times so that both Tripsis and I saw it. I felt my eyes dilate in horror.
I don't know which one of us screamed louder.