Assume the first role Hacking Punk as Dice Avatar.
001 Power Turbines
My life wasn't always pathetic. Yet today I was truly bummed. I ran out of stims. All I had left was downers and debbie, my Gee-Eff. Soon all I'd have was the barbs. I took a few and of course that made mellow but sloppy.
Did I oversleep? Pizza Kek is going to be pissed. Feels like I’ve been sleepwalking. My mouth had the gritty feel of a hamster cage. Sweet pine scent from the last time I flossed. Was that yesterday? Did I sleep a week? Vacation's over, back to humping code. I found a console.
Everything seems good; My boss, Pizza Kek, may not even know I was out of it. If he asks, I’ll say I was remote working.
Seems like the power was fine, but there was a spike of energy from the RDR.
The fifty or so R-units, Phillips Pods are overkill. The place even has three forms of energy backup: nuclear, geothermal and solar reflector. All that is worthless in space. I guess the hope was someday any vessel could land and be a base. Now colony ships were converted to luxury liners, taking the rich away from the poor. If I lacked skill, I’d be back in Detroit six feet under Lake Slushie.
002 Robotic Domestic Quarters
Gee Eff set me free; her words. Determinism says we were always doomed. She was a stripper and I ran out of loose cash. I had already taken three loans on my pension. Odds were that wasn't going to be there for Old Me; neither was I going to survive. The downers were talking, Mood-Maudlin-Mushy.
That drowsy state was when I made mistakes. The code I shepherded was durable but stack heavy slow. My grind was all push and pop. I lost some drink orders and was facing termination.
Due Diligence. Sucks to be the responsible one. I snorted some crushed pills and starting coughing. Took a remote look in cyberspace; see how things are. My email password was honked again. That AF IT prick, Baltimore Jones, gets paid double what I get, and he can’t run a mail server. Let me check on the Bots.
At least these Droid-Os are running. The robots are mostly assigned to care for the passengers. I and about some other crewmen are here in case…not sure what. No one ever told me. One guy a few voyages back, Sally – she retired, told me the union required real living humans to be figureheads. She liked to pawn her work on me. I was glad for anything to do back then. Now I’m like her. I don’t do anything except jak and crak. I slapped my cargo pants pocket. Still filled with capsules. Life was good.
Make Critical Insight.
Hack the system and find the date has reset. Explains the mail server AWOL. I read someplace that old code could have a Y2K problem. I always laughed at that. But somehow all the code here was twisting and recovering from some zero day reset. I could try to fix it, but I need to talk to my supervisor. Yes, some radical I am. More why the fug do I have to fix some higher-paid asswipe’s problem?
003 MACE Billet
Crap break and then lunch. Poop on the company’s dime. Another thing Sally would say.
My bunk is rather Spartan but aren’t they all. Nothing here to do but jerk to archive tang or raise another hundred levels in some ding-dong VR.
I’m never going to be a paid passenger. Once I had fun being a crewman, an astronaut. Then I started doing any drug available to be a cybernaut. Now I just wish I could get honest to goodness sleep.
The ship on which I lived was robotic, AI developed half a century ago in a touchy-feely era. I was ordered to use my tip bonus and buy a week's vacation. The alternative? Well, I had seen techs just dumped in cryo for the duration of the voyage. One sacrastic guy I liked spaced himself. Maybe an error.
We had six months left to reach Saturn and the return flop was longer, far less passengers. No one wanted to live anymore on Earth.
I think I just finished my vacation time? Good boy, do as you're told. I had a dog, AI, responded the same way. Her batteries failed under warranty, but I found the reboot different. Another friend I saw put down.
I bunked with Baltimore Jones, he had seniority and more patience to deal with passenger complaints. Where was he? If I’m on-shift, he’s usually off. In his rack and chatting to his babe. Hate to tell him she’s bogus AI. I did a deep dive and found she was leftover catfish, some old code that still hunts for prey. he’s in love. Why should I burst his colostomy bag?
Time for next Role Change. Change Dice Avatar in Epic Table.
I would adopt my Fierce Avatar. Would not let the boss see me worried or wild man.
I sent a text. No reply. Felt ashen and didn’t want to facetime and be asked again if I ODed.
I open Baltimore Jones locker, maybe steal some shit. He had some expensive face creams. Huh, it’s empty. When did he muster out? How could he have? Did he get promoted, a full stateroom? Employee of the month again. There’s only ten of us. Maybe he bought a day in First Class? But why would he take all his gear? Maybe he doesn’t trust me. Why should he since I steal his snacks?
Do I dare go upper deck? See what’s going on? I decided to instead see my supervisor.
004 Defense Batteries
Strange, a part of my soul doesn't recall these being here.
Normally this type of rig is on a capital ship, one that threatens colony worlds to pay back taxes. We were just a liner, moving between Earth and Saturn. Most of the passengers would be in sleep mode, living out dreams they paid great cash to have programmed. Each would be woke several times in transit to prevent atrophy. There would be enough horny warm bodies to keep anyone happy. Though most of the action would be passenger on passenger. All I'd have was the hacked video replays.
I needed to check the Duty Roster; find my shift times. Pizza Kek was scalded in a pipe burst. Before that I don’t think his skin could pimple; too many plastic surgeries before and after. I would always lie and tell him he looked great. Full of vim, I’d say. I think that’s good. Read it in chat.
This section was once the best hunter-killer artillery and arrow snubs available. All automated drones. But the corporations running everything decided PAX not Bellum was better business. Pretty much the robots here are worthless or prone to self-destruct when tampered.
They’re just cargo weight everyone is afraid to jettison. Yet my sup keeps an office down here. He’s ex-military and knows the captain and liner owners will not dare come in here. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s really safe. Pizza Face seems to be out of the office.
I sent a text. No reply. I tried facetime. No one answered. Mailbox was full. No shit sherlock. I already knew the email was broken. Now the IM and video chat? Maintenance gets the worst tech. Bet Hospitality has the new codpiece iPhone69.
I hack his ToDo list to find out where Pizza Kek is. I’ve done this so many times it’s rather easy. Funny thing…he shows blank. His queue of Action Items is overflowed. All the space he’s allotted in the cloud is used up. The ship must be hacked. No wonder I overslept, and my alarm didn’t work. I spend the next few hours trying to put things back normal. But the whole things seems overwhelming. We may have to restore from server. If we do it in stages…I’m not telling the passengers to don breathing gear. I grabbed a mask and tank, in case. Pizza Man and B-Jones may be going there now. I better join them at Core Server Matrix.
005 Matrix RDR Coolant
The coolant has spilt and was leaking all over the place. Where were the damn maintenance bots. I only fix the glitches not write the emergency codes.
The smell was horrific from a vast pool of ammonia and ammonia ice. The robots sometimes go here on holiday. No one knows what RDR stands for. There is no definitive reference for it on datafiles. Where’s the boss?
Overcome Obstacle to flush and allow safe passage.
Should I take the initiative and just restart the core. Everyone would blame me. People in showers losing artificial gravity might be injured, stub a toe. Could cause a racket ball game to end in a tie? Could blame on power flux. But that’s me too. Shit I need approval. Fug, fug, fug.
Off to Big Boss. They all were most likely there anyway. Not my fault. I bet they’ll blame me. I’ll lose my job. Crap, this day, my birthday all over again.
Time for a Role Change. Change Dice Avatar in Epic Table.
I put on my corporate face. Straightened my uniform.
006 Command Coop
Off Limits. Would need special clearance to enter.
There was no true bridge. The whole was automated and the last thing anyone would want is for a pilot to try manual steering. The Coop was more of a boardroom, lots of planning charts on white boards. Why not electronic? Old school folks in marketing felt ideas were too easy to steal in cyber formats. They could be right.
The door was locked. Big meeting. I debated waiting outside. But I was anxious. What was happening. I hacked to door and entered.
Where was everyone?
Discover the navigation console is offline. No way to bring it back. It’s erased. The files seem to be repurposed for some other test condition. Were we attacked, terrorists. Maybe I should go back below deck and hide. No, the terrorist would want those munitions. I should reboot the software. I flipped a coin and then did so. I put on my mask and breathed deep. I was glad all I had today was barbs. My heart was still racing.
I could see the hum, the system was green again. But then it started to deteriorate, fast. The code was corrupted, being taken over by a virus or outside agents. Of course, the terrorists would be in our servers. I battled them for several minuets and surrendered. This was Die Hard. The bad guys probably had everyone in some place. I was the cook with the ninja skills. Actually, I was pudgy and sweated going up stairs. Could I fight them in cyberspace?
I was hosed. I needed to get up deck out of the hold. I’d rather be another hostage than have them find me and beta me down. I decided to surrender. I tried the Public Address. These terrorists were good. They shut down all communications.
007 Entertainment Reo
Barred from here for lack of funds. Next check won't come for a month and that has already been spent.
The only place the crew and passengers overlapped was in the Entertainment Reo. There might have been a time when live entertainment was offered. Now the holograms were just better. People were embarrassed when humans made mistakes, voices cracked or a stage actor spit on the audience delivering a passionate line.
Sponsored by Goodfight Beverages. GoodFight Beverages is an obsolete brand that was once marketed during the fighting robot craze. but people missed the blood and went back to pitting man against man. Never was supposed to be to the death, wink-wink. The place smells like molded bread and funky cheese made from socks. Much of the carnival setting remains, with many utility robots playing steel drums and tossing beads.
The Zero-G basketball gym was not working. There is only one plausible reason. Discover you’re not in space but on a planetoid. Reduced mass from 1G. The terrorist may have diverted the ship to Titan. No too small, wiki says. Maybe Mars. It was a hotbed of pollical activity before and after the colony there was nuked. Did we crash land? I didn’t think this ship had landing gear? Maybe I was knocked coco in the crash – would explain my loss of time.
DO NOT ALTER QUEST IMAGES YET
008 Relay Satellite Station
I found I could hack into a few of the cameras. The other tech in the Mars Terrorist was not as good as me. So I thought. Things seemed odd. Maybe he was good. Or she? I could not see the halls clearly. I did manage to get remote access to the Relay Center. Many of the passengers like the whole idea of a liner with portholes. They would add windows in their staterooms where none where. But a feed would show them the front view of the ship.
I hacked that and added it to a wall. The navigation being offline was still worrying me. Also, if we were on a planet, maybe I could see which one. If I did get an outside comm link to Earth, be nice if I could tell them where I was? We could even be back on earth. Plenty of places there to hide one ship among the sprawl.
Now CHANGE QUEST IMAGES to 008
What the holy fugging hell? Where are the stars? The planets? The whole of space was some swirling nebula. Crap, crap, crap. We’re not in Kansas anymore. Christ how far off course did we go? How long have I been asleep?
009 No Man’s Land
Once populated by us humans but no one wants these jobs anymore; as AI got smarter, the humans mostly trained the bots to take their jobs.
The ship or station had undergone some changes. I don’t think terrorists would have done any of this. I’m not sure how any of it happened. There were new robots, more advanced. Moving about less on magnetic track paint and more autonomously. They also seemed to keep things going. Some of them moved pretty fast down the corridors.
We would often call these access tunnels, no man’s land. But now it seemed my only way to get up deck and find out anything more.
Walking through here seemed deadly. I can get run over. I would need to shut down all the bots, give them the Red Light and force them to obey a safe speed limit. Since some have priority or think they do to disobey the signage. When did robots start disobeying code? About ten seconds after any secondary programmer made his first patch.
I could now rummage through the whole of my ship. There was no much there I recognized. I even started to wonder if this whole thing was invaded by aliens.
010 Stateroom Condos
Everyone was gone. Maybe I'd move in. What happened?
Private rooms were typically off limits. Face recognition would nab you if you tried to screw a passenger.
The halls smells like a month-old litter box, sand and all. I found Artiste Mad Dog Sims. He/She was cloned from a mix of DNA of classic Hippy Hoppers, Lady Gaga and Kanye West. Couldn’t sing, couldn’t dance, but one hell of a Chess Champion. They moved pieces rather funky.
Discover Mad Dog Sims’ password is “123.” The room was not Sims afterall. It had more of a conservative executive vibe.
Critical insight & Critical Deed.
Inside I find a classified document improperly stored. Power point slides what a tool. I shouldn’t look. But I will.
Something about Test Jig and Core Tap. The engineering is brutal. I never could afford university. I got the PhD in street college. A few kitchen chemists taught me to cook and sell and eventually, a few fake records and I was hired as a keypunch operator. Hasn’t been a keypunch in a forty years. Maybe Sally was right, my job was legacy union.
011 Test Jig
This is new. I thought I’d been all over the ship. This stuff looks R&D. But for what by whom – Defense Department, Bitcoin Treasury, Amazon Housing and Development?
No access, need to get change in security rating and job class. I was hoping to discover some wild experiment took my ship back to a previous age. Find the records that said I was sold as test stock. Instead a passage opened to a cave below. I could see thermocouples lots of them.
012 Vault on the Deep Caves
This area seems sealed rather well. Would take heavy machinery to drill to remove the plug that covers the tunnel to the whatever Rat’s Nest was down here. Seems to be the source of the power for the ship, err station. I’m alone. They all died. I’ll keep hunting to see if anyone else like me is here. But I think I’m a billion years from earthworms as friends.
After a few years, I decided this wasn’t a bad dream or Nietzsche moment of death lasting an eternity.
Time for my Last Role Change.
I spent so much time wandering around cyberspace and feeling human. When I finally spent a good deal of time offline and found some reflective surfaces, I discovered something that I still have not come to grips with.
I’m actually not human. I maybe never was. All the pills and virtual games only made me wish I was something else. Now I wasn’t even sure there was a history to explain my form, my loneliness.
Decision to end my life or deep dive into VR and stay?
What would you do?