“Please don’t call me that… My name is Matthew Leblanc. At least call me Matt.”
Trashmob-707 was rather indignant about his Identification Code, thus the System decided to agree to his demand and call him by his human name. A floating screen appeared in front of his face, showing him another message.
[Very well Matthew. The previous owner of this Private Server was named Fate Fortuna. A fairly accomplished programmer, who was responsible for designing and creating several Virtual Worlds. Most of her data was locked or erased, but a few programs have been left behind.]
After pacing around in the blank, white, cubic meter room, Matthew asked “Can I get a chair or something? A computer and a desk would be nice. Don’t get me wrong, the weird transparent screen in front of my face is cool, but I think I’m going to have a panic attack if I can’t sit down…”
In response to his question, a large synthetic-leather office chair and a small computer desk appeared before him, against the nearest wall. There was a mouse, keyboard and screen, but no wires connecting anything. As he sat down and touched the mouse, the screen lit up and on it, appeared the response from the System.
[Although you do not possess complete control over this Private Server yet, it does belong to you. The size of this room cannot be altered, but the contents within can change. Including your personal Avatar.]
He moved the pop-up window out of the way and then browsed the various ‘programs’ that were saved onto the Desktop. There were simple ones, word processors, trash, messengers and browsers.
“I’m guessing that ‘Old Earth Online’ is the game that I was playing before, right?”
[Yes. Old Earth Online allows Players to enjoy the challenge and experiences of living on Earth throughout the Ages. Generic Earth Server-1927 started shortly before World War 2 and is currently in the Millennial Era.]
“So the number is actually the year that it started… Wait, the Millennial Era? Seriously?”
Matthew seemed surprised as he clicked on the program and saw a list of various servers appear. There were 51 in total, the majority were in the Millennial Era, while there were some that went to the Stone Age, Classical Era and various other time periods.
[You are currently connected to the internet again. Would you like to resume your progress in Generic Earth Server-1927?]
“Progress?! You mean get shot in the head a bunch of times?! No thanks. What would be the point in going back, only to die again?”
On the screen, he could see the moment that had been frozen in time. He was kneeling next to his mother in the kitchen. She was a relatively young African woman, in her mid-forties, who was in fairly good physical condition… At least, she had been, before being shot in the abdomen several times. A masked man was standing at the top of the staircase, which led to the basement. There was a distance of roughly three meters between them. A wooden dining table, along with an old, worn out wooden chair, were slightly obscuring the gunman’s vision.
[It is possible that you could survive… Though difficult. Perhaps you could attempt to utilize the table and chair as cover?]
“I’m not a soldier or some kinda action hero! This story only ends in one way… Mom and I are dead. Murdered in our own home by some random asshole!”
After staring at that frozen scene for a while, he sighed and asked “What’s the point anyway? That whole world is fake, right? I’m here right now. I’m alive, kinda. Mom won’t really die. She’ll just…”
[Unless she happens to be a NPC. Then her memories will be erased and she will be effectively, dead. Although her personality will remain and be recycled as another human NPC on that Server, everything that she experienced in her life thus far, will be deleted.]
“Fuck! So it doesn’t matter if I live or die, but Mom… Mom can’t die. I have to save her somehow.”
He clicked on the exit button in the corner of the screen and went back to the Desktop. Then he wondered “Okay, you said that the previous owner of this Private Server was ‘Fate Fortuna’ and that she was some kinda programmer, right?”
[Indeed, Fate Fortuna was a very affluent programmer and created several Virtual Worlds, which are utilized by a few Servers even now.]
Summoners of Fate was the first program beneath Old World Online. When Matthew clicked on it, there was an error message, stating that there were no Servers currently available.
“I’m guessing that Summoners of Fate wasn’t one of the more popular ones?” He asked, while exiting out of it and clicking on the next icon.
[Although Summoners of Fate was extremely popular at first, there were many balancing issues and it was eventually abandoned.]
Cards of Fate was the next program, however, when it clicked on it… A deck of cards appeared on the desk, next to his mouse. He picked them up and muttered “Were they like, trading cards? Did little kids use to play with them?”
[No, not exactly. Children, in the conventional sense, no longer exist. There are NPCs that have been programmed to think and act like juvenile humans. However, all Players have already reached adulthood at least once. Thus, age-related ratings for games are meaningless. There are of course, warnings and rules. Depending on the content of the games, it is possible for those with weaker wills to be severely traumatized. For example, not everyone is willing to play a game where they are essentially powerless and can be raped, murdered or tortured to death at any given time.]
Matthew complained “I didn’t ‘choose’ to live on Earth! If I had a choice, do you think I would’ve picked Baltimore City? Or even Maryland? I would’ve probably gone to Florida or Hawaii, maybe be born into a rich family…”
[But then, you would not have lived as you have lived. You would not have experienced the live that you did. You would not appreciate, what you now have… You would also have different parents, relatives and friends. The entire world of Generic Earth Server-1927 would be drastically different if Matthew Leblanc did not exist.]
He sighed slowly, then picked up the deck of fifty-five cards into his hands. The back of the cards were pitch-black, with a pure-white ankh symbol at the center. They all looked exactly the same from the back, but when he gazed at the front he smirked.
“Aren’t these just regular playing cards?”
The lowest and highest number was the Ace, which could stand for one or eleven. The regular numbered cards were from two to ten. Then there was a Jack, King and Queen. Two Jokers and a completely blank card. He stared at them for a moment and then shuffled the deck.
He moved the mouse and keyboard onto the part of the desk that was empty, in front of the monitor. Then he began throwing out the cards onto the recently cleared, extendible part of the desk. On the left side, he placed a single card face down, then two, three, four, five and six. After setting up the six rows of cards, he placed the rest of the deck down on the left side and muttered “I can’t remember how to play Solitaire…”
[They are not meant to be utilized in this manner. The Cards of Fate are a special Modification that Fate Fortuna created herself. You are lucky to have inherited her ‘Mod’. Most Players are not so fortunate.]
“What do you mean by ‘Mod’? Like a Mod to a game? They just look like playing cards to me.” He picked up all the cards and shuffled them back into the deck, then pulled one out at random and noticed that it was the blank.
Suddenly, there was a picture of him at the center of it. He was kneeling down on the ground and crying over his dying mother’s body. Then a series of words appeared on the card.
[Summoner: Matthew Leblanc
ID Code: Trashmob-707
Description: A pathetic loser who did absolutely nothing to earn his place as a Summoner.]