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“Well, that wasn’t the Nihilist Imperative. They use berserkers and suicide bombers as pawns. Not Frankensteined kaiju.” Rhynn shakes his head.
“I talked to somebody named Kushpok who said they were responsible for the kidnapping because they wanted to talk to me.” Kushpok looked super spooky but did not seem like they were trying to kill me.
“Kushpok? Okay. That’s actually okay. Kushpok’s really a reformist, not a nihilist, we’re fine then. Okay. Yeah. He might throw some spoilers at you but that isn’t too big a deal. We may not need to investigate in here anymore if that is what it is.” Rhynn stopped and looked at me. “I will leave it up to you if we should continue a sweep in here or go ahead and get out of here. I’m fine either way.”
“I wanted to finish our conversation actually. What is the system? What are players? What the fuck is actually going on?”
“That’s the other reason memory status effects are banned, because nobody really wants to talk about that shit. Which question do you want me to start with?” Rhynn has the look of a man who has just found a tax bill he was previously unaware of. “Not sure that it matters, you’re pretty much asking the same thing with all those questions.”
Rhynn lights another cigarette and pulls out a flask.
“Fucking inventory locks, and all my good smoke is in my inventory. So, the system is a place for players to play. Time works differently here, so a day here is a millisecond back in our reality. We could have better dilation, but then we would have less space for shards and players. If you’re a player, you should have a body outside the system. We’re trying to get some answers about that, but because of the time dilation we have to wait a while to hear about that from an admin who isn’t in the system.” Rhynn pauses for to take a swig from his flask.
“Aren’t there admins inside the system who can help?” That seems like an oversight.
“You’re looking at one. But internal admins work on shards, and usually also are the ones creating shards. You need external admins to get access to all the tools to check into the buggy bullshit, because you may have to check into the code to track down a specific issue. Trying to modify code from within the system tends to crash it, so we try to make sure we get players off the shard so external admins can fix it without impacting the player experience too much. We’ve been waiting for you to be able to get off the shard before we start trying any crazy fixes, because we don’t want to crash the shard while you’re stuck on it. We’re not sure what would happen to you.”
“Okay. I might be able to do that soon now that my brain got unfucked.”
I just stopped trying to mess with the settings window at some point. I’m not sure why. I can probably make some headway with sorting out the weird menus now.
“If we can get you onto another shard, we can see if the issue is just your character build on this shard. If you go to another shard and everything is fine, it may just be best if you don’t come back to this shard.”
Wait, I’ve been doing some math in my head about that conversion rate.
“How long will it take for an external admin to get to a bug like this?”
“They’re usually pretty busy checking into reports on Ravaged. They have to authenticate that the player data is corrupted as reported. You will eventually pop up in the queue, since I already submitted the report. You figure if they’re on top of it, it may take them less than fifteen minutes. If things are busy, it may take a few hours.”
“An hour is like ninety-eight hundred years? You’re saying somewhere between twenty-five hundred years and like twenty or thirty thousand years for an external admin to check this out?”
“I know it’s not ideal, but we were looking more for longevity than, you know. Serviceability. Longevity meant more time to work on some things. But not everybody can contribute equally, so tasks aren’t mandated to players. Kushpok doesn’t like that. Thinks we should be able to assign tasks and hold people accountable for not completing them and make a formal player’s guild everyone is forced to join when entering the shard. I’m not down with authoritarian regimes, so we formed a Constitutional Coalition way back that allows pretty good exchange of goods and ideas, players too, and we all agreed to an interpretative AI to generate content based off the settings the local content creator had put in. Kushpok has even signed off on the constitution, but still bitches all the time about wanting to amend it. They just wanted a seat at the table to complain. Each nation can run their own guild however they want, and there’s more than a few national branches that run internationally to provide more diverse options with assisting players story hooks to get into other nations. Kushpok’s jealous players don’t like getting horrible quests from their faction of communist undead and just use it as a raid target. Go figure nobody wants a quest where they research depressing garbage from the old reality.”
“You and Kushpok disagree about how quests should be assigned?” Rhynn is kind of all over the place. The cigarette’s already done and he’s lighting another.
“Yeah, and the scope of the system and the goal of us being in here and on and on. Dude thinks we should be playing a losing game of save humanity instead of let’s enjoy an arbitrarily large number of lifetimes as a last hurrah. We already got odds of saving ourselves rattling around in the system, and the shit he wants us to do is just a waste. You want to check his shit out, go for it. Just don’t sign up with the fucking nihilists. Those kids are crazy.”
“The world is in trouble and the players are in here hiding from that?” I mean, saving the world sounds like something one would be in favor of.
“Not hiding. There are plenty of research shards. Kushpok thinks the players on this particular shard aren’t contributing enough, because this shard has a pretty high population and Kushpok thinks that means we have a duty to correctly use that resource, and I am over here saying we’re not running experiments on our player population, because that sounds like something an asshole would do. If that makes us horribly inefficient, oh well. If he can convince the population to sign off on it, more power to him. We’ve got a decent game of Society and Civilizations going and that in itself is giving us some data. We don’t need any diabolical plans against our player base. For one thing, that would make a lot of people bail, and then that precious resource and his plans go up in smoke.”
Every answer just keeps raising more questions. I don’t know that keeping us in here to get every question answered is the best plan.
“Okay, I have more questions, but you’ve given me something to think about for a minute. Let’s get out of here.” I’m sick of dimensional magic blocked zones. I miss being able to open gates to anywhere I want and barely walking. Air springs only make it so much better. I really miss my bed.
“One last question: How long have you guys been in the system?”
“Let me pull up the exact numbers for you… Got it. We’ve been logged in to the system for almost four years of real time. Which we have experienced as millions of years. People do have a sleep feature to take a real-world nap or get a full sleep cycle so most people aren’t logged in all the time. Only real loonies like internal admins would try to stay logged in all the time.”
“Okay, that sounds fucked. No, don’t rebut me on that. I don’t want an argument, I want us to get out of here now.” Fuck all this, players have all been alive for millions of years in the system? I don’t even know why that makes me angry!
I cast fly on everyone, and we take off through the pipe I came in from. Alba and Podlihob are really impressed I can limit break the zone. I guess that is what going out of bounds like this is called. Our flying speed is fairly high, so we reach the entrance to dungeon in under ten minutes, leaving some wraiths shrieking far behind as we speed past the dungeon area beneath us in this void.
I destroy a room full of undead that I think was the entrance and go up some stairs into sunlight.