(Virtual Room, NERV Headquarters)
Morgan Elliott was stunned at the developments she was watching. There wasn’t really a better way to say it. Isaac had warned her that something big was going down in Sol System. Her department had been receiving increasing numbers of bug reports over the last few days, all related to content in Sol and Coldana. Not NPC or gear bugs, thankfully. Those could have a devastating effect on an in-game experience. Sure, environmental bugs, like the ones that had been reported, were unusual, but they weren’t as likely to spread outside of a localized area, and were easier to patch out.
Unless, as it seemed, they weren’t bugs at all. Desperate for answers, she looked out in the chaotic maelstrom that was the virtual control room for DatS, looking for Isaac. Surely, if anyone in this madhouse knew what was going on, it would be him. Surely, he’d have answers for her.
She found him at the eye of the storm, quickly snapping off commands to his subordinates, attempting to do… something. She heard snippets of jargon, but ‘fourth-level containment scripts’ and ‘reversing the polarity on the text converter’ and other such things meant nothing to her, even though they sounded impressive. Fighting her way through the mass of programmers, coders, and game masters, she made her way to the lead GM’s side. One look at his face made it clear that, if he had any answers, they wouldn’t be ones that she’d want to hear.
“What happened, Isaac?”
Isaac looked over to her, and shook his head. “We’re still trying to figure that out. Best we can figure, we had a seventh-degree background convergence through the background systems.” He paused, seeing that Morgan didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. With a sigh, he said, “All right, you know how the game world for Dreams was basically ‘grown’, right? We basically set up the galactic map based on what we could see, and used procedural generation for the rest. But that was only for the basic things, like stars and planets.”
“When we started with the NPCs of the world, we started on Earth, naturally, basically putting everything up to 2010 as it happened, and then letting the computer run things forward from there. But we didn’t have historical data on alien civilizations, obviously, so we went to literature to help out. Fantasy and sci-fi for the most part, naturally, but others were included as well. There are petabytes of data in the archives which helped form the alien races, cultures, and technologies which encompass Dreams.”
Isaac held up a hand. “I know what you’re going to ask. Yes, we’ve added a few special touches here and there, like the explicit references to other games or popular books. But the deep lore, some of the big things that have been at, well, the core of the universe, are grown from this lore. We didn’t want things to get stale too quickly, so we cast a wide net when adding to the lore archives.”
“So, what does that have to do with whatever just happened in Sol?”
“Well, you see, some of the programmers who worked on the archive project were gamers. Well, we were all gamers, but I’m talking about tabletop gamers. So, they collected a bunch of lore books from various game systems, and tossed them into the mix. We had safeguards in place to ensure that actual copyrighted information didn’t make it into the game of course, not even in the source code, so dataminers couldn’t get their grubby little hands on it. But it did form some of the background info for the entire game world.”
“One of those things which made it into the game world is the idea of other dimensions, both parallel ones and ‘stacked’ dimensions, for lack of a better term. Parallel dimensions would be like your normal ‘alternate universe’ or ‘multiverse’ stories. But the stacked ones are basically higher and lower dimensions, ones that occupy the same space as the material dimension, but have different properties. Some of the Lost Tech options involve the use of these stacked dimensions.”
“It seems that, when the AI incorporated some of these different ideas, it set values on the strength of the barrier between dimensions. Not a problem, really, except that it also set values on the damage that people in the world could do to those barriers. It seems that certain forms of FTL travel, namely the Transition Drive, have a very high damage ratio. Specifically, it damages the barrier between the material world, and the realm where psy users get the energy that allows them to do impossible things.”
“Anyways, the damage buildup, combined with some recent events, led to a full-blown rupture developing in Sol, and a lesser version in Coldana, thanks to the Harvester’s death. The two rifts were connected, or at least close enough that affecting one would affect the other. Unfortunately, the ships defending Coldana from an attack coming out of the rift did not like the look of the second wave starting to exit the rift, so they used FTL torpedoes on the enemy, despite the instability in the area.”
“God damnit! I knew those things were going to be trouble! What did they do?”
Isaac shrugged. “Well, the second wave was destroyed in the explosion, sure enough, and the blast managed to seal the rift in Coldana, while also battering all the ships in the system. Unfortunately, that energy gained intensity as it traveled through the dimension the rift is in, and when it reached Sol, things got… strange.”
“Strange as in normal strange, or strange as in I’m going to need to start spinning things to keep a PR disaster at bay?”
“The normal kind, so far. Basically, the explosion coming out of the rift was pure psychic energy. Anything nonliving in the system is just fine, but any potential psy users in the system are now active psy users. And they aren’t all weaklings, either. See, as a psychic event, it tapped into the emotions of the individuals it passed through. Several key figures in Sol have been… augmented. In fact, if you look at what happened to the Empress…”