In the real world, the army is worried about keeping their Harsh Realm program a secret - Sophie is asking too many questions. Also, Sophie's voiceover is just as boring and sucky as Tom's are. The Woman-In-Black who gave Sophie Pinnochio's dog tags works for the military in I-Corps; Sophie follows her as she leaves work one day and drives to an army supply depot. Once inside one of the warehouses, WIB hooks herself up to a machine and is transported [somehow - it's not clear/evident] to Harsh Realm. Once there, she meets with Santiago. She's on good terms with him but is not actually on his side - she's working against both the Army and Santiago? What's her game? He gets all intense when he asks if she's uncovered the leak yet but she plays it cool.
Outside Santiago City, Tom, Pinnochio and Mute Girl are looking for Freddy the Forger in a club where illegal "zip-fights" are being held. Zip-fights are actually less exciting than those motorized skateboard fights with knifes on Max Headroom: they're holographic zip-files that holographically bludgeon each other. Whatever. Pinnochio finds Freddy, who is S&Mishly chained to a guy who doesn't want to share his pet, so Pinnochio beats the crap out of him. The army busts in and Tom, Pinnochio and Freddy scarper off, Freddy dropping a bunch of his forged ID chips. MG tries to gather the chips up and gets nabbed by the army.
The boys manage to find a glitch in the game code and slip into some blank, unprogrammed game space where they wander in the dark until they catch a glimpse of Waters in the latrine. They bust through the wall - scaring the piss literally out of Waters - and carve the ID chip out of his chest. They need it to access the building in Santiago City where Santiago keeps the portal between the two worlds. Tom steals a Humvee and they head for the city. Later, WIB commends Waters on achieving his objective and smooches him. They do it on the conference room table. When she notices the wound on his chest, he smirks that it was all part of the plan to catch Tom.
Once in the city, the boys stop in at the apartment of Freddy's contact to (a) steal his clothing and (b) cut the ID badge out of his chest. When they come back out, the Humvee has been towed so Pinnochio tells Tom and Freddy to take the bus. He's not going with them - he doesn't want to go back to the real world for some reason. When the bus pulls away, however, Waters is there with a squadron and they nab Pinnochio, taking some time to beat the snot out of him. Apparently Pinnochio used to have Waters's job before he was insubordinate to Santiago and there are some lingering hard feelings.
WIB watches Tom and Freddy go up to the fourteenth floor where the portal is; she waylays them there, telling them that it's a trap. She hands Tom the message from Sophie and tells him that Santiago's master plan is to destroy the real world so that Harsh Realm is all that is left. Tom doesn't care: he wants to see his girl. The alarm sounds. WIB begs Tom to stay in Harsh Realm and defeat Santiago. When Santiago arrives at the portal room, only poor Freddy is there, WIB and Tom having disappeared. Freddy gets dragged off and I'm guessing his VC gets terminated. In a droning voiceover, Tom tells Sophie that he's going to stay in Harsh Realm and take down Santiago.
Then, inexplicably, Tom waltzes into the jail where MG, Dexter, Pinnochio and dozens of other people are being held. He lets them all out. Pinnochio snarls: "She got to you, didn't she, Inga?"
Real world: When Inga/WIB returns to the real world, where her real body has been lying on a gurney in that huge warehouse, Pinnochio's RW body is on the gurney next to her: his face and body have terrible burn scars and it looks like he's lost an eye. No wonder he doesn't want to leave Harsh Realm.
Meanwhile, back at Santiago's headquarters, he's getting ready to conquer New Jersey and add it to the other five states he currently controls (looks like all of New England on the map). WIB catches Waters as he heads out to lead the strike force.
11 hours ago