The Past

<Jaito> Writing code is one thing…having the gear on and waiting for it to boot up is another. Here she was…about to take on, with a very serious mind…a video game. But first? Paperwork. Dozens of pages of license agreements.

<Will> Oi. Well, she'd been through it once with Freyja, who had (surprisingly) needed help translating a couple of terms in the early beta. This stuff was always… Oh, wait. Access to social networks? Meh, whatever. Name? Will… Lawrence. No sense giving them *all* her info. She quickly creates a new social network profile, complete with quickie background, before continuing. Birthdate. Email. Languages. Sexual… orientation? Why the balls did that matter? Whatev.

<Jaito> Parental controls?

<Will> None.

<Will> Why the hell do they ask some of these… Oh yeah. Part of the game was meant to be geared as a learning tool. She sighs.

<Jaito> Noted! After the boilerplate, the character generator comes up. Will had done some work with this. Keeping body movements natural while minimizing the "moving parts" to keep things flowing. She'd really be more 'real' to people with better gear and hardware. The uncanny valley of the have and have-not, she heard somewhere.

<Will> Eyes? Grey, same as her beloved Freyja's. Hair? Keep it long and pink, one of her partner's favourite features about herself, and screw not letting this avatar match her. Skin tone, height, clothing style, all fairly easy. She chooses one of the least expensive clothing sets for now, which makes her avatar show up in raggedy jeans and a black off-the-shoulder blouse. A rig that opens up facing her is strapped to one arm… and done.

<Will> Hmm… Will stares at the blinking avatar name field for a good long moment before settling on Hildegard Tamm. Defending what's hers.

<Jaito> The design is approved and a 'brief' loading sequence follows…and just when Will's patience was starting to fray, a Pixie poofs into her field of vision, about two inches off of her nose.

  • Will blinks. "Um. Hi. I… don't think I programmed you."

<Jaito> The Pixie blinks, then shrugs. "Welcome~ My, but we've got an educated inquisitor this evening. Do you want to walk the road to paradise? It's very fun~" She blows Will a kiss. Very cute for a six-inch tall Tinkerbell.

<Will> "Paradise I've had, and I intend to get 'er back, little Pixie." The programmer quirks an eyebrow. "Kinda wonderin' which of the collaborative xeong xie sha-xiaos came up with this business. Anyway, I just want t' get into th' game world, lass."

<Jaito> "Are you already ~experienced~ then, Hil-dee-guard? Do you know the path you want to walk?"

  • Will chuckles at the program's pronunciation of her chosen moniker. "Yeah. I'm gonna rely on me own programmin', so I'm a-thinkin' devil summoner'll gimme th' best chance."

<Jaito> "Ooooooh~ You know what you're doing! And you're already looking for something! Have you considered joining a tribe?" The pixie rests on Will's shoulder, literally weightless.

<Will> "A… tribe?" Will looks over at the pixie. That was new, to her knowledge. Eh, she'd play along. "That'd be a neg, but I'm kinna curious, little pixie. What d'ye know about 'em?"

<Jaito> The Pixie shrugs, flitting down to the ground to pace back and forth. "Oh, they're so fun! They're like demon clans, but made of humans! They work together, solve adventures, and pool their resources! Some of them even become famous and take on the BIG BOYS! Since you're sooooo knowledgeable, I figured you might be part of one already. "Is that…is that a passive-aggressive pixie?

<Will> "…" Will has to suppress a snicker. Man, that response almost came back like something Freyja might say when they were play-fighting. …Aaaaaaand that is a sobering thought. Straight-faced, Will considers. "Solve adventures, hey? Ya t'ink one o' 'em'd be up f'r one what might not be 'zactly written into th' code? It's worth a shot, anyrow. C'n ya direct me t' one of 'em, lassie?" She crouches down to try to reach Pixie's eye level (unsuccessfully).

<Jaito> The pixie buzzes up to meet her in a somewhat-disorienting near-collision. "Certainly! There's lots of tribes interested in the secrets of Paradise! The Khakham are a larger guild in the area, would you like to request an invitation?"

<Will> "As good as any, yeh. Do I need t' make an official request of ya, or jes' give my say-so?"

<Jaito> "I'll send a message along - and, look, you have an audio message waiting. Do you want me to play it?"

<Will> Already? She has just created Hildegard. "Sure, lass. Thanking you."

<Jaito> There's a brief static crackle, then an ARc window opens with a voice synthesizer display…that looks ominously like a green flatline. A few spikes appear as a brief message plays: "Something's happening. Can't talk. I love you. Stay out." Freyj- the message deletes itself.

<Will> "JESUS! Where th' bloody 'ell—?" Will looks sharply at Pixie. "If 'at's a bleedin' joke, it ain't funny!" Freyja… She hadn't heard her love's voice in weeks. And stay out? To hell with that! Will opens up the little device strapped to her arm, virtual fingers flying over the keys on it as, outside the game world, Will tries to track down where the message went or came from.

<Jaito> The message was dated…well, roughly 12 minutes before the 'accident' and was programmed to "find" Will by voice signal. The message files themselves are still there, but the content was wiped completely clean. Designed to scrub.

<Jaito> …there is, however, a recent modification to the file. The original message was two seconds shorter.

<Will> Aloud, in the game world, Will's eyes refocus. "Bloody fuckin' 'ell." Her crouch becomes a full flat-out sit-down as her legs give out. It takes a few moments, but she's finally able to calm herself with one huge breath. One hand clenches into a fist. "Thank you, babes. I *knew* I was right…"

<Jaito> "You've been rejected! Sorry, honey! Would you like to start playing now?"

<Jaito> The pixie looks a little…awkward.

<Will> "Well, those sods t'ink it's jes a game anyrow, lass." Will gives the program a half-hearted smile. "And yeh. Ye want t' tag along? I'm startin' t' think I might be a bit in over me 'ead here."

<Jaito> "…could you say that again? I'm an American Pixie, but my cousin's Welsh! I think she's allergic to vowels."

<Will> Finally, a smile from the pink-haired girl, even if it's a small one! "Heh. Sorry, me accent's kinda fried from livin' in Sweden fer a while. Do ye want to tag along with me?"

<Jaito> "Sure! You look pretty tough! I bet you'll just punch demons and make 'em call you guvna, pip pip!" She starts boxing with the air.

<Will> "Right then. Let's go see what we can find out, hey? And what should I call ye, lass?" The programmer starts looking around for a door out of the entry area.

<Jaito> "Pix! I think we're gonna be friends for a loooooong time!"

<Will> "Okay, so question, Pix. Did ye ever see an avatar named Freyja or…" Oh hell, what other names might Freyja have taken in the game? Will makes a mental note to check her lover's rig later. "Just Freyja about at any point?"

<Jaito> Pix tilts her head. "Freyja? Sounds Norse. Those guys tend to be…scary."

<Will> She nods. "The god prolly is. The girl? Not so much. She'd be a real person, like me."

<Jaito> "Sorry! I don't know any real people. I hear they eat pixies. Isn't that just gross~"

<Will> Will nods, an eyebrow quirked. "Yeah, kinna. I ain't never heard that, meself, but then this is me first time through here as a player."