A message from System.
Jim had received a message from System four hours ago and had missed it, probably while playing in the dirt of the borough planner. He almost opened it right away but felt that it would be rude to put Brett off with the zone community being in such an uproar. Jim reluctantly opened the other player’s message first.
From: Brett Johnson.
Hey Jim. I put another 500 credits for the pick in your account. I don’t know if you’ve been reading the channel chat or have noticed the crazy buildings going on, but since you built the sawmill, some of us thought you might be behind it.
If you are, what’s the plan? I know a bunch of players in my guild have got a tonne of rare mats from the dungeon and have been waiting for a proper blacksmith etc. to be built.
Let me know.
Jim read the friendly message from Brett, who he guessed was an adult based on the way the tell had been carefully composed. His eyes didn’t miss the ‘Read’ prompt at the top of the message. Any thoughts Jim had of just ignoring the contact evaporated. Jim’s stomach turned and the skin on his neck bunched just from the thought of breaking his, until-now, aloof position among the players.
The game, maybe even System herself, had manoeuvred him into a more visible, more social leadership role among the Australian reptilian players. Now, the question of Why? plagued Jim. Had System subtly opened these paths for him? Had the company manipulated the game to increase his profit-making potential? Had he possessed more luck or more skill than the other players? The last seemed unlikely to Jim, but whichever option, if any, had been responsible for Jim’s shove into the limelight, he now felt compelled to interact with the outside world.
At least he got to start with someone who owed him money. Obligation, Jim had learned in his 40ish conscious years alive, was a prison, constructed by people to trap everyone in polite and well-mannered society. Obligation prevented stronger individuals from jumping the queue. Obligation pasted smiles and false-friendship upon your face when speaking to the financial advisor. Obligation pressed the reply button when a message’s sender received a prompt that you’d read their message.
To: Brett Johnson.
Sent: Just a few seconds ago.
Brett. Thanks for the credits. Yeah, the council and I proposed all the districts for the next town upgrade. There’s a bunch of building areas set aside for commerce and industry near the market for your guild.
I’ll tell everyone about the rest in the chat.
Jim hurriedly closed the private chat and opened the zone chat. He had no interest in a drawn-out conversation about favours and debts.
[The Grand Plateau] James Cartwright: “Hi everyone. The town council has prepared the plans for the next round of upgrades. While there aren’t any particular priorities on what needs to be constructed now, I’m sure Andrew or Anne can tell you what needs building.”
[The Grand Plateau] Michael Williams: “Hi Jim!”
[The Grand Plateau] Brett Johnson: “First Dragon guild looking for players to help construct a blacksmith in the Commercial Quarter.”
[The Grand Plateau] Bruce Jr. Majin: “Jamestown is a stupid name. Can we rename it to something more… lizardy when it ranks up?”
[The Grand Plateau] Bill Baker: “What’s ‘Lizardy’ supposed to mean? If anything, we should be going for something from, like, Ptolemaic Egypt. The whole lizard-man dynamic seems to be a rip-off bastardisation of Greek and Egyptian.”
After Jim’s first post, the chat erupted into a flame of discussion and anger about mostly superficial ideas. Obligation to the consensus would, eventually, decide these things anyway. He was wholeheartedly behind abandoning Jamestown. Self-aggrandisement irked Jim and the whole idea waxed too colonial for him. A thought struck Jim and made him smile.
This would be Anne’s problem, now.
Jim stood still, reading his social interface screen, in the middle of a street bustling with players over-encumbered by building materials. Brett and some of the others in his guild guided a mass of players around the town hall to the northern section of town. Level 4 builder professionals shepherded stones and metals and bricks. A level 6 guild-leader divided the incoming materials into two building sites. The tall and muscular man guided the vast quantities of dull rock and ore into the building site of an enormous warehouse erected beside the river. The rapidly-growing blacksmith received only pale shining metal and speckled stone.
The elaborate blueprints and schemes did not faze Jim or even attract his notice. System’s message had floored Jim and he now stood in a daze.
I have resolved the issue that you submitted and have identified the cause. Please see the two attachments.
Transaction History – July 2058
Account: JAMES ANTHONY CARTWRIGHT – Aus Banking Solutions Digital Account
Appendix 14.1d - Alternate Occupation Arrangements.
Should the digital entity reject the occupation assigned by PTI, they may be eligible for an alternate occupation. Eligibility for an alternate occupation is determined by the current value of the digital entity’s account, which must exceed 20% of the digitisation cost, to be used as a deposit.
Digital entities that undertake an alternate occupation than assigned will be deducted the value of their occupation at time of digitisation and enter into a contract to repay PTI for the cost of their digitisation in full. Loan terms can be negotiated at the time of digitisation but will otherwise use PTI’s default loan rate.
Should a digital entity miss any repayments, the interest will be loaned to the digital entity in the form of an increase to the principle of the loan, up to a maximum of the digitisation cost.
Should a digital entity default on their loan while under alternate contract, their alternate occupation will be removed, and they will be placed into an occupation of PTI’s choosing until such time as the loan is repaid in full.
I’m sorry. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t really know what’s going on, but… I think our accounts have been merged. I didn’t have anything to do with this. I don’t think I had anything to do with anything before you, Jim.
I can only hope that you’ll help me and thank you in advance. I’ll see what I can do help; I seem to have more control over myself…over System… now, but it’s hard.
Please, do what you can.
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My name's Tim and I'm writing Forgotten Man Online, a game-literature light novel web-series that I plan to release here, on Royal Road, and eventually hopefully through Amazon's Kindle platform.
I studied writing at university for three years and then became a high-school English teacher in Australia (6 years in). Hopefully, that means you will find my content to be of a high standard and that you will enjoy it, provided you can stand the British spelling of words :).