“For the past few days, I’ve basically been in denial… Now I think I’ve finally come to terms with reality, or well, virtual reality. My world has been shaken up and tossed around, but I’m still alive. My first instinct was obviously to escape. To take the people I care about and run away to a ‘safer’ place. The truth is that there is no safe space. Even if my world is a virtual reality and only one of many, I still invested twenty-five years of my life into it. How much faster could the typical Server Time be from reality? And in reality, things age and atrophy… Everything decays eventually. I don’t have forever. I can’t just start a new life somewhere else and try to live normally with my family for a few centuries…”
[Server Time is many times faster than reality, though it may slow down occasionally. Although I cannot give specifics about our current physical condition in the true reality, it is safe for you to assume that you have plenty of time to live out many generic human lives in Old Earth Online… If that is what you wish.]
“No, no, that is definitely not what I want at all. Anyway, the point is that I need to start thinking more and stop trying to take the easy way out all the time.” Matt sighed, explaining “I want to make it to the end of the world. At the very least, I don’t want to die or run away to a different ‘game’ yet. I’m not ambitious or naive enough to believe that I can save the world or make any significant difference in how things turn out on Generic Earth Server… Nineteen twenty-seven? But since I have this power now, I want to use and abuse it as much as I can. There are too many things I’ve always wanted to do on Earth, but never had the chance.”
He smiled, as the computer screen suddenly changed to a view of his basement. Those two Lucky Hospital Beds were still totally fine. Matt frowned and asked “How am I seeing this right now? Wait, are you telling me that I can see my cards all the time from here?”
[Indeed, this is a rather simple task. Once your status improves a bit and you become Ranked, you could directly watch news and game feeds of Old Earth Online. Some people like to record their gameplay and act like reporters, showing what is happening on different Servers and games. However, there are others who create pornography, movies, live-shows and episodic series.]
“That sounds cool, but also terrifying.” Matthew grumbled, “Doesn’t that mean a Player I kill can record me doing it, then give that video to their friends, in order to hunt me down?”
[Certainly, but you could do the same. Player versus Player combat can get very messy. Old Earth Online is a relatively short game, in which everyone dies very swiftly. On the other hand, games like Pantheon 5, Chaotica’s Utopia 2 and The Gates of Sidhe are all games where you can play for a very long time. In Pantheon 5 you can become an Immortal, never having to worry about aging again. However, until you become a Deity, you are relatively vulnerable. If you happen to kill or rape a Deity’s character in Old Earth Online, it is entirely possible, that they will mark you as an enemy Player and use everything at their disposal to destroy you in Pantheon 5. Players form Guilds and Clans as well, so if you attack one, you might be targeted by their whole group. Of course, some Guilds and Clans have non-aggression pacts, alliances and other treaties. They often sacrifice a single player, in order to preserve their interests.]
“So even Players have to deal with politics, huh?” Matthew sighed, then he pressed the right arrow key and the screen changed to the other basement, where his shirt and Qi Crystals were located. After hitting the key once more, he suddenly saw the flock of giant pigeons. They were flying around in the sky, near the inner harbor. After searching for a bit, they eventually broke through the top of the glass pyramid of the aquarium.
“Oh my God! Holy shit!” Then he watched as they started devouring all of the animals they could find. The top floor was the aviary, so they could only find bats, parrots and other kinds of small flying creatures. He didn’t even receive a single experience point for the whole massacre.
[I do not understand why you are so upset?]
Matt murmured “I always hated watching those nature shows where the animals are killing each other.”
[Interesting… Then I would suggest that you stop watching now, or you might have psychological trauma.}
“Oh no! Fuck, shit, no! Stop it you bastards!” He shouted at the screen, but could do nothing to prevent the gigantic pigeons from ripping apart a group of unsuspecting aquarium workers. The first few were unarmed women, who didn’t even have the chance to fight back. However, the third person was a male janitor, who was wielding a broom. He actually managed to swat one of the beasts out of the air, before the others tore him to shreds.
[You have gained 1 experience point. Congratulations…]
“Okay, I can’t watch this anymore!” Matt nearly threw up, but fortunately, his Private Server avatar was incapable of excreting or consuming anything.
There were only four Mutated Pigeons left, from the original five that he Summoned. Thus, their hunting efficiency went down significantly. As he was about to change to a different scene, he suddenly asked “Wait, these Creatures I created… Would I get experience for killing them or having Michael kill them?”
[Yes and no. In their current state, you would receive no experience for killing them. However, there are cards which can allow you to fight and kill your Creatures for experience. There are also cards which increase the experience you receive normally or directly give you small amounts of experience, in exchange for large amounts of Mana.]
“Terrific… Anyway, I need to get my mind off of those evil birds. So are there any games I can play? Like, just regular video games. No virtual world nonsense, so my Summoned things on Earth won’t get Unsummoned. Just regular old video games…”
[There are millions of games for you to choose from, though you will need to download and install them from other Servers. Fate Fortuna rarely did anything outside of full immersion. If she wished to play trivial archaic or ‘classic’ games, she could simply play Old Earth Online.]
Matthew clicked on the internet icon, then typed into the search bar ‘Fun Non-VR Games’. There were millions of pages, with at least twenty different websites on each page. He sighed and noticed that the first dozen pages were ads. Since he was afraid that he might literally die if his Private Server was infected with viruses, he was hesitant to even click on anything anymore.
[Perhaps I should select a game for you? I have always been quite fond of chess… Would you like to play with me?]
“Is there even a slight possibility for me to win against a supercomputer like you?” Matt snickered, then grumbled “Wait a second! Doesn’t that mean that I’m a computer too?!”
[Neither of us are computers. We are programs within a Private Server. I am essentially the interface or intermediary between you and actual hardware. Otherwise, with your human programing, it is unlikely for you to even comprehend what you are currently experiencing. Regardless, I cannot cheat against you Trashmob-707. This ‘Classic Chess’ program has its own AI, to prevent either of us from breaking the rules.]
Before he had the chance to agree or disagree, a small table appeared in the middle of the room. On it was a mirror-like chessboard, with crystalline pieces already in their places. On one side the pieces were red, while the other side was blue.
“Come, play with me.” Matt heard a monotonous feminine voice ringing in his ears, then saw a blurry, illusory woman sitting at the red side of the table. Since it was rather low to the ground, she was actually sitting cross legged on the floor. When he tried to see the woman’s face, it became pixelated and at times, extremely out of focus. All he could tell was that she had pure-white skin and her body was nearly transparent. While her hair was long, straight and jet-black. Although she wore a white dress, it did little to obscure her nipples, since it was also translucent.
After staring blankly at the mysterious woman for a few moments, Matthew muttered “Umm, okay I guess…” Then he walked over and sat down across from Providence.
She murmured “We will play until you are able to beat me once, or until you wake up naturally. Now, let us begin. I will make the first move.”