I was in a white room with a courtroom setup. On one side was Rycran and Steele, and an empty table across the aisle for them was obviously for me. A white robed figure with gold trim was seated in the judge’s seat, and slightly lower was another robed figure with silver and gold trim.
“Please be seated. As these two have not seen your avatar name, for these proceedings you shall be referred to as Kobold. Is that acceptable?” The judge had an artificially deep voice, obviously meant to highlight his importance.
“I’m fine with that.”
“Good. Now, Steele here has on several occasions accused him of cheating.”
“That’s cuz he’s a dirty cheater!”
“SILENCE! I’m placing a gag on you right now, you will only speak to answer questions.” The judges voiced boomed during this part, as if he were a God calling down divine wrath upon blasphemers. His gavel boomed in finality, and though Steele’s mouth was frantically moving, no sound would come out.
“Better. Now, previous accusations have all been deemed without merit, and we won’t be going through those again. We will also not take any action against the Steele Legion for taking control of the dungeon entrance. Though this is frowned upon, we leave it up to people in game to rectify any issues of this nature. Instead we shall watch this current incident to determine possible violations and punishment.”
A screen appeared to our left, and we watched as Steele entered the dungeon and started ranting. Soon Rycran transported right next to him, and the judge paused the video.
“So, Rycran. You are a level 78 dwarf paladin, yet the dungeon settings explicitly prohibit teams with a combined level higher than ten from entering. Explain how you managed this.”
“Steele sent me a party invite before he entered the dungeon. After he entered, I accepted and he used a guild teleporter to transfer me to his location.”
“Ah, so that’s how you did it. Impressive. While this is technically a violation of the dungeon rules, it was done in a way that merely exploited a loophole in the dungeon programming and no manipulation of the game code. As such, I hereby rule that this is not cheating. For finding a major bug in the code, we shall award the normal finder’s fee. Steele and Rycran shall both be credited with $300, either to be used by their in game accounts or able to be withdrawn without penalty. Kobold shall have his account annotated with finding of a major bug, and this shall be patched immediately.”
“Thanks.” Rycran replied.
“Now, let us continue watching.” The view switched to Rycran’s view as he moved through the dungeon. I saw myself in the edges of his darkvision, but he still seemed confused as the video played.
“Excuse me your honor, could you explain where that rock came from? Even knowing it is coming, I still couldn’t determine it. I just want verification that there was no cheating.”
“I object! Your honor, showing him will reveal my strategy that has worked extremely well for me and will put me at a serious disadvantage in the future. I still have one more day in this dungeon.”
Nodding along at my explanation, the judge said, “You bring up a good point. I will leave Rycran with a choice. First choice, there is no explanation. Second, you get an explanation, but both you and Steele will be bound to not disclose this information to any outside parties. What do you choose?”
Looking at his brother obviously holding up two fingers, Rycran nodded. “We choose the second option, your honor.”
“Very well. Look at the top portion of the screen. Kobold was hiding in tunnels he created in the ceiling.”
We watched again as the rock came arching out and removed the first skill of Rycran. He just smiled. Turning to me, he gave me a nod of his head and said, “Brilliant. Everyone forgets to look up, don’t they?”
“Yep. Only in the spider dungeons do people look up.” The viewpoint increased speed until we came to the dark tunnel. It was interesting watching from a view where people used skills I had never seen before. [Detect undead] sent a green wave pulsing out from the paladin’s hand. Portions of it clung to the walls, sparkling like green lights floating in the air. You could tell that there was a wall there, but that the pulse went beyond the wall as well. I wonder what color would show up when it connected with an undead? Soon enough a blue screen informed everyone that Rycran was dead.
“OK, I still have no idea how a level one kobold managed to kill me.”
“Can we switch to my point of view your honor? Starting from when Rycran started walking down the hall.”
“Very well.” The viewpoint switched, and we saw me walking up to a massive rock plug.
“I dropped that on your head. The swinging hammer trap wasn’t my only ceiling trap, and this one I had to activate myself.” I explained as we watched Rycran walk down the hallway. A flash and everything was falling, to be surrounded by dust.
“Well, I can’t complain about that. I doubt that anyone could survive that much rock falling on their head.”
“Before we go on, could I make a request your honor?”
“Go on, we might not honor it.”
“Understood. Could you remove that trap? Make it so that it never existed. I was never going to use it on any adventurers of the proper level, and it’s doubtful that someone else is going to find a completely different way to smuggle in a high level character.”
“If we do this, the system will destroy any attempts to recreate this trap.”
“That’s fine. I only have one more day there anyway, and I’m going to keep pushing the undead kobold theory.”
All this time, Steele was frantically gesturing at his mouth. Finally, the judge decided to relent, but not before a stern warning. “No disparaging Kobold, understood?”
Nodding, the judge gave a slight bang on his gavel and Steele was able to speak. “What was it that he used to kill me? I’ve seen that blue glow before, but it wasn’t nearly that large.”
“I remind you, you will be unable to speak about this after the hearing. Here we go.” The movie resumed, and when my view was tinged bluish white from below, it paused as the item description appeared off to the side.
“You made a granite sphere big enough to hold 350 mana?” Rycran was stunned. “That is insane! Who knew we could add mana to plain rocks? I thought they had to be mana stones!”
“It is a really terrible return though. A baseball sized rock can only hold 25 mana. I’m sure a mana stone of the same size could hold ten times that amount.”
“True, but still it could work in a pinch.”
“Ahem, if there are no further questions?” the judge interrupted.
“Sorry your honor, got distracted for just a bit. Can I be informed as to what I lost as equipment?” Rycran asked, and with good reason. After level ten, you lost experience with every death. In the case of a death caused by another player, you had a chance to lose some of your equipment.
“Sorry, I am not able to discuss that.”
“That’s fine, I’ll find out eventually. Steele has no questions either.”
“I’m fine on questions as well, your honor.”
“Excellent. As everyone can see, there was no cheating on either side. One last time I remind everyone that battle strategies employed by Kobold are not to be discussed with anyone, and I will also warn that there will be sanctions for anyone reporting cheating from this incident. You both are also banned from entering the Kobold Warrens for the next 48 hours. This last bit is for you, Steele. You have shown a propensity to abuse the report ticket system. I will personally be reviewing any more tickets submitted by you and your guild, and if I should determine that they are frivolous you will be sanctioned harshly, including deletion of your avatar. Am I understood?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“Good. Now, all of you are free to exit. Farewell and enjoy your game experience.” With that final bit from the judge, we all headed back down the aisle and toward the exit doors.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Emily removed the uncomfortable headgear that allowed her to quick access her manager avatar and started massaging her neck. She needed a break, but at least she wouldn’t have to deal with that snide Steele’s reports ever again. Hopefully Mike put the fear of a god into him when he threatened him with avatar deletion, but she doubted it. She had never seen any pricks as self-entitled as that smug bastard ever change with a warning. Oh well, it was no longer her circus and not her monkeys.
She headed to her desk to start filling out paperwork. Thankful that at least she didn’t have to fill everything out in triplicate anymore, there were still an inordinate number of pages to fill out for each incidence. She had just gotten the first few pages done when there was a knock at the door. “Come in.”
“Hey Emily, you still filling out paperwork for that Kobold Warrens incident?” Mike asked as he walked in.
“Yeah, I should be done in another 15 minutes or so.”
“There’s one more thing I would like to have you fill out. Pull up form ID-10T.”
“Heh, Frank loves little jokes like that. What it does is set up an algorithm to listen in on anyone speaking certain keywords. We have to limit it a bit, so for the next 24 hours I want anyone associated with the Steele Legion flagged if they mention kobold, ceiling, or explosion. Those should be general enough that we don’t have many hits, and everything will be reviewed by two separate people in our division.”
“That’s. . . a fantastic little piece of work. I’m assuming this isn’t the first time something like this has come up?”
“No, and I doubt it will be the last. The lawyers are happy with this because we have at least five different people working together so it can’t be a railroad job. I’m happy because I just know that little brat isn’t going to keep his mouth shut. I’ve already saved the log files and transcripts from our little trial, and look forward to nailing his ass to the wall.”
“Mike, you sound rather ticked off. I didn’t realize team leaders were allowed to swear about users like that!”
“You don’t know the half of it. You should see what we say about all our employees at the manager’s meetings!”
“Ha! As if you guys would gossip like that. OK, I’ll add this form to the rest of the batch, then I’m out for the day. I don’t care if it is early, after all that I had to do after that kid I deserve an early day. It’s just too bad that there isn’t a place where I can have a cocktail and enjoy a pedicure.”
“Well, I don’t know about the pedicure, but I do think you deserve a bit off. Thanks for all the hard work you are doing on this project.”
“You’re” the click of the door interrupted her mid-sentence “Welcome.” Shaking her head, she went back to her paperwork so that she could get out for the day.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Marty was the last to arrive at Café Oblivion, and flopped bonelessly into his chair. “Sorry I’m late guys, had a cheating trial and got to deal with Steele and his brother face to face.”
“Oh really?” Jon drawled. “Care to fill us in? That’s an awful lot to just drop in our laps without a lot of detail.”
“Yeah, first let me get a drink. I think I’ll start with a shot of 151 and have a Jack and Coke as well.”
“Damn, that is a rough day” Derrick commented.
Slamming down his shot, Marty’s face scrunched up as the liquid burned its way down his throat. He waited for a count of ten before taking a sip of his other drink, “Ugh, I needed that burn. They sure got at least that part right with the drinking.”
“Exactly. Now, about that cheating trial? I’ve never had one of those, what happened?” Derrick pressed.
“Eh, some corporate person acted as judge, no name and no face that we could see. Reviewed the incident from my character’s point of view, and from Rycran’s viewpoint. We all agreed that no cheating occurred, and Rycran and Steele are forbidden from discussing any tactics that I employed in my dungeon.”
“You know Steele is gonna break that, right? Any plans for what to do when he does?”
“I’m working on something, but I’m sick of talking about him. How did you guys end up today?”
“Hehehe, I got the most trollish kill possible I think. Hopefully they even give me an achievement like ‘Spittoon’ or something.”
“Spittoon? Oh this has to be good. So what’d you do Derrick?”
“Ok, so there I was fighting a group with a tank, healer, and rogue. I had knocked the tank down a few times, and managed to turn and get a brushing strike against the healer, taking him into the red. The warrior panics, runs over and immediately casts his warcry to get my attention. Well the healer was busy trying to save his own hide, the rogue was off somewhere, and the tank wasn’t healed. So I picked him up, bit his head off, and spit it at the healer. The flying head hit the healer hard enough to kill!”
“PFFTBWAHAHAHAHA!” I shot my drink out my nose from my sudden laughter. “Oh god, it burns. Kleenex, my kingdom for a Kleenex!” Jon passed me one and got a nod in thanks in return. “Ok, I’m ok. Reminder, no drinking during story time. OK, so what happened to the rogue?”
“He got wide eyed and stared at me, like did that just happen? Then he turned and ran away. I’m sure that story is going to be on a message board sometime tonight.”
“No doubt. Jon, Phoebe? You two are awful quiet. What happened with you guys?”
“Nothing as interesting as you guys. I dug a few pit traps around the place, but they are fairly easy to avoid. Jon? What about you?”
“Well, I thought about my daggers for a bit. Beginner equipment is indestructible, so I took a page from dear old Marty here and used them to chip out some handholds leading up to a little ledge. I’ve gotten accurate enough that I can jump off with a battle cry and get both eyes of the adventurers when I come down. It makes it fairly easy to take them out when they can’t see where you are.”
We spent a few more hours just relaxing before heading towards our own homes and some much deserved rest.
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.