“Reinforcements?” asks Tricia.
“Yes,” the boss says. “You too will stay where you are and monitor the situation. Add more locks if you need to, and keep tabs on how far our subject progresses. The reinforcements are going to try to find Selena Amistad’s connection point.”
“Copy that,” Marco says. “Anything else?”
“Nothing further,” the boss says, and disconnects the line.
“Selena Amistad, huh? Never thought we’d have to deal with her…” Tricia frowns.
“Who in the hell are you?” I ask. “How did you appear in all of those dreams I had?”
“We’ll have plenty of time to talk on the way through this fucking dungeon,” Red Robes says. “Follow me.”
I would object, but seeing the massive power that she has, I figure it would be better to stick with her for a while. We exit the room, and the next chamber is, what a surprise, a pit of lava with stone pillars sticking up here and there. Goddamn it, Zelda. Those were always the levels I had trouble on.
Red Robes doesn’t hesitate for a moment and in less than thirty seconds is across the room. “Hurry up!” she yells.
“I can’t do this!” I yell. “I’m not some freaking superhuman like you!”
Red Robes crosses back to where I am and drops a pair of boots with little wings coming out of them. “These should help you,” she says, then crosses back to the other side of the room.
Hover Boots! Thank goodness for those things. I recall that they’re not all-powerful—they only allow you walk on air for a second or two—but they’re more than enough confidence for me. I take a running leap, land just shy of the first pillar, but am able to run to it without any difficulty. I finally make it over to where Red Robes is.
“I’m Selena, by the way,” she says. “Selena Amistad. Maybe you’ve heard of me?”
I blank out. “Er… No? Should I have?”
“Never mind,” Selena says. “Anyhow, I’m what you might call a dream hacker. My sole purpose is to try and free subjects captured by Oneirocorp.”
Are you kidding me? “I was captured by a corporate organization? Why?”
“They’re an information company that specializes in obtaining information by going through peoples’ dreams.”
“No freaking way, like from Inception?”
Selena sighs. “No. Nothing like inception. There aren’t architects and extractors. Simply put, they knock you out, throw you in a very complicated machine, and it induces you to sleep and have a nearly infinite array of dreams. Oneirocorp monitors you until you have a dream that reveals the information they need. Then they make sure you’re still unconscious and return you back from whence you came, and you just feel like you’ve had the best sleep of your life.”
“Sounds foolproof, but then, why do I know I’m dreaming?”
“Duh, because of me,” Selena says. “My appearance as someone or something unfamiliar in your dreams, yet reoccurring, drove your brain to start to catch up with you,”
“But how did you get into my dreams in the first place?”
“Sometime back, I stole the blueprints for one of their dream machines. I built one myself, and actually improved on the model. It’s a little more portable, so I can set it up in different places.”
I should mention that while Selena was answering all my questions, we were progressing deeper and deeper into the dungeon, slaying monsters and activating puzzles, as is the Zelda standard.
“Last question, then,” I say. “Why did you choose to appear now?”
“This is your final dream,” Selena says. “The dungeon dream is always the final dream of any person put in this machine. It’s a random sequence, though, so you’re pretty lucky that this dream came early. I want to help to get you out of here.”
“I won’t argue with that,” I say. Along the way I’ve managed to pick up a couple useful items, including the Longshot, the Fairy Bow, and the Mirror Shield. I feel slightly more prepared now than I did.
Together, Selena and I slay a room full of wolf creatures—Wolfos, I think they’re called—and once they’re defeated, a familiar chest appears. The boss key. Looks like it’s time for the final battle.
“Crap, crap, crap, crap,” Marco says. “Selena’s way too good. There’s no way the subject would have gotten through that many levels that quickly if it weren’t for her.”
“No kidding,” Tricia says, “But there’s nothing we can do right now.”
The phone rings. Tricia immediately puts it on speakerphone.
“We still haven’t found Amistad’s pod yet,” the boss says. “Although we’re close. You need to buy some time. Activate the resolution lock.”
Tricia and Marco look at each other nervously.
“Sure about that?” Marco says. “It’s—”
“I know exactly what it is,” the boss snaps. “It shouldn’t be too long.”
“As you wish, sir,” Marco says. The boss hangs up, Marco taps several buttons on the screen. First he pushes a slider up, then he presses another button. “Are you sure you want to activate RESOLUTION LOCK?” the message asks. Marco taps “Yes” and the lock is set in place.
“This is risky,” Tricia says, No doubt.
We unlock the chained door, and when we step into the final chamber. Immediately, both of us notice a difference.
“Do the colours look… more vibrant in here?” I say.
“Shit,” Selena says. “They’ve activated the resolution lock.”
“What’s that?” I ask. But I already begin to feel its effect. I am moving toward where I assume the boss is going to spawn, but I’m moving much slower, as is Selena.
“It’s a lock that slows us down by increasing the resolution of the dream beyond the full processing power of their machine,” Selena says. “As much as it slows us down, it’s risky for the Oneirocorp too, because the longer they have this in place, the harder the machine has to work. It could overheat.”
We finally get to the centre of the room, and a giant ant-like creature with deadly-looking choppers comes out. I’m glad that it is just as slow as we are, or god knows we’d both be killed, no matter how powerful Selena is.
Just as Selena is about to cast a fire spell, I notice she beings to fade. “Oh fuck–” are the last words she says before she vanishes.
Two men in black suits send a message via their walky-talky. “We’ve found Amistad’s pod, sir,” one of the men says.
“Excellent,” the boss says. “Detain her.”
“Sir,” the man says. The two see as the woman in the pod begins to stir, she removes her helmet.
“Gotcha,” the woman says.
The two men look at the woman in stunned surprise, seconds before a cloaked figure knocks them both out.
I realize that Selena’s not going to be able to do any more for me here. I run toward the ant, and for a few seconds I’m still slow, but then everything returns to normal. The ant bounds toward me, pincers chopping. I run out of its way, looking for clues along the walls and ceilings, as well as the ant’s movements, to see how I might defeat it. I get it.
I see some rocks with familiar chains on them. I aim my Longshot and fire it at one, and it pulls a boulder down that flatten the ant boss. I repeat this a couple more times, moving with a quicker pace as it gets faster and angrier, and then it finally keels over. That familiar sound rings out, and I see the portal that will lead me out. I step into it.
I half-expect to wind up in another dream sequence, and for a moment I think I am in one. I can’t see anything, until I realize that’s because I’m in a huge helmet. I take it off, and I see that I’m in a large laboratory. I’m actually in a big, clunky machine, and I struggle for a few seconds to finally get myself out.
I look around, bewildered, and then see that two people are slumped over a computer, which is in turn below a giant screen. The screen is blank.
Then I see someone else standing over them, cloaked in all black.
I try not to say anything.
“It’s okay, Tyler,” the cloaked figure says. The figure pulls down the hood, and I see that it’s Selena. “They’re not dead, just unconscious.”
“Selena?” I say.
“Yep,” she says. “No more talk, let’s get the fuck out of here.” I decide not to disagree and she pulls out a crowbar. She pulls out a few tiles from the floor. “Through that tunnel. Let’s go.” I hesitantly step down into the darkness, which begins to illuminate the farther down I go.
Selena comes after me, replacing the tiles as she comes down.
“How in the hell did you do all that?” I ask. “I thought you were disconnected.”
“No, I wasn’t,” Selena said. “It helps having a twin sister,” Then it clicks. How devilishly clever. The Amistad family. A pair of hackers. Genius.
“Well… Thanks.” I say. “I don’t know how to repay you.”
“Well, you could tell me why in the hell Oneirocorp might want you,” Selena says.
“Probably because I’m the son of the CEO of Megamax Corp,” I say. “You know, that really big R & D firm in Toronto?”
“Oh, right,” Selena says, She goes quiet as if contemplating something. She puts her arm around my waist. “Well, you’re almost home.”
The tunnel leads us to a parking garage. I tell Selena my home address, and she drops me off. I thank her profusely.
“No, thank you,” she says mysteriously, and then drives off.
I open the door. “I’m home!” I yell. Immediately my father runs down the stairs.
“Tyler!” he yells. He wraps me in an enormous hug. “I was worried. I thought those Oneirocorp bastards had you locked away for good. Did they…”
“No,” I say. “No information missing.”
He breathes a sigh of relief. “Well, it’s good that you came home. I want to show you the blueprints of the latest little thing I’m working on.” He shows me the plans for a pretty miraculous machine, no bigger than a wedding ring, that will be able to detect cancer cells in a person’s body. It would be fairly cheap to manufacture and could result in a huge amount of cancer prevention.
“The model should be ready in about a year’s time,” my father says.
“Impressive,” I say, “Anyways, I think I need to go change. God knows how long I’ve been wearing this outfit.” My father nods and I go to my bedroom. As I’m removing my belt, I feel a little bump on it. Confused, I examine it more closely. Son of a bitch.
It’s a tiny, tiny camera. And it recorded everything my father and I just discussed. I recall when Selena (really Selena’s twin sister) was telling me about how she had stolen the blueprints of the Oneirocorp dream machine and improved on it.
I decide, no matter how much money this may cost my multi-millionaire father, this will be Selena’s gift for saving me.