"Mm-hmm," Carl said, looking around the screen again to make eye contact. Looks like she's letting me slide on that. C'mon, Carl, you can role-play better than this. Even if it's been a couple decades. "This gi—goddess, Lucia, by the way—she have anyone else with her when she was bu—um, attacking you?"
"Dawn," Ir'alith growled, "Goddess of—"
"Dawn," muttered Carl. Nobody uses the last name feature, I guess. Maybe I shouldn't talk, though. "Just the two of them?" Must be some kind of all-girls guild or something. Wonder if I should report the whole guild, or…
The girl with the purple-haired demon avatar nodded. "You… You truly intend to free me?" she asked, her voice now filled with anxiety.
Carl held up a finger while he finished typing up the report with his other hand:
I've discovered that the users "Lucia#0" and "Dawn#0" have been harassing another player in flagrant violation of Code of Conduct re: exploits. Used some kind of geometry exploit and trapped this other girl in a small room with no way to escape, also seems like they stole all her gear in the process.
Not good player experience!
IMHO extended ban at minimum, should really be permanent though.
He piped the text into the shell script he'd written some time ago to report another player who'd found some bizarre exploit that permitted them to store an infinite number of rocks in their inventory and had continually thrown them into the starting area pond he was attempting to fish from. The script redirected his complaint to the front of the ticket queue. Good ol' expedite.sh. A feeling of satisfaction swept through him. Helping people feels great. A random thought struck him. We should volunteer at the food pantry again this year. Take the girls, too. Never too soon to start teaching this kind of thing.
He opened a new shell prompt, entered his sixty four character password to acquire dbadmin privileges, and executed an update—after triple-checking what he'd typed for safety, as he did with any command that he executed with elevated permissions—then closed out of the new shell and repeated his earlier query in his persistent, read-only database prompt.
|Recall Location:||Throne of Darkness|
Carl's feeling of satisfaction grew, and he nodded. "Yeah, that should do it." Now nothing can change her flags unless they've got a dbadmin or root access—DB'll block the transaction. It's the least I can do since the GMs are pretty useless. Although… "Ir'alith, did you have any weapons or armor that were taken from you?"
The blue-skinned girl was staring down at her hands in wonder, and a small ball of dark purple light hovered over her palms which, Carl thought to himself as he focused his attention on it, was certainly a cool and well-made little customization of the basic light spell. "I had an axe," she mumbled, a tear running down her cheek as the light formed into a fearsome-looking battle axe with what looked like a large eyeball set into the center of its head. "My father forged it himself before he…" She trailed off, and her tail flicked up over the back of her shoulder to wipe around her eyes.
Her dad's a blacksmith and made her a weapon before he quit playing? "And they took it?" Carl shouted, suddenly outraged. That'd be like if somebody stole all the fish I sent to Bobby! Or the computer I built with her! "Was it a Named weapon, at least?" I can try to remember the name of one of the better weapons if it wasn't Named, but—
"He simply called it Ir'alith's Axe," Ir'alith said with a wistful sigh. "It was the—" Her eyes nearly popped out of her head when the metal haft of a massive axe that was as large as her landed across her upturned palms.
"That it?" Carl asked. Whoever those girls are that were bullying her, if I ever meet them, they're going to get a very stern talking to. If our GMs aren't totally asleep at the wheel this should be a perma-ban for exploiting with intent to sabotage another player…
Ir'alith rotated the cool-looking weapon vertically, then closed her eyes and hugged the axe tightly to her chest, obscuring the pink lead of the leash behind the dark red metal. Her tail wrapped itself around her and the axe at waist height.
Carl got a warm, fuzzy feeling in his chest at the sight. Cute kid. Weird, but cute. Kinda reminds me of when Annie finally gave in and let Bobby get New Era to play with her friends last year. He reminisced about how his youngest daughter had tried to act like an adult at first—fidgeting in obvious agitation while she said thanks and listened to all the rules she would have to follow—before finally breaking down and running around the house cheering like the kid she was.
A status window popped up after some time, covering his console screen.
Your report has been acted on.
Thank you for making this world a better place, Carl.
"Dismiss," he muttered, saying the keyword to close the top-most status window. That was fast as heck. Must be a ton of caffeine going on tonight wherever they are. "I don't think those two goddesses'll be bothering you any more, either," Carl said. Then again, I don't know what action was taken… Better safe than sorry for something like this. "But just in case, I'm gonna add you to my friends list so you can mes—contact me." Shoot, why is role-playing so hard? "The, um, world won't allow mes—uh, spells from Fire to be blocked, so I'll make sure nothing like this happens to you again, okay?" He pushed his keyboard to the side and took a couple steps forward, his peripheral maintaining its exact relative position as he moved. He reached his right hand out.
Ir'alith, the self-proclaimed Demon Queen, reached out a trembling hand and carefully clasped his, overtly trying not to poke him with her very sharp and cool-looking claws.
"Add friend," Carl said.
"Added friend: Ir'alith," proclaimed an androgynous voice that was only audible to Carl.
Carl released his grip.
"Do—Do you have a name?" Ir'alith asked in a timid voice, reverting to hugging her massive axe to her chest with both arms.
"Carl," said Carl. "From IT," he added. There's gotta be a bunch of other Carls in a game with this many players. Darn it, I broke character again, though!
"Carl of IT," she said as though trying it out. "I thank you, Carl." She set the axe to her side, letting it somehow stand on its end, and bowed deeply enough that the end of the leash curled back on itself against the floor. "Thank you, my savior."
"Um, yeah," Carl said. She's really committed to this. "Don't, uh… Don't worry about it. Um, you can stop bowing now?"
Ir'alith held her bow for a little longer. "Truly," she said as she rose at last, her voice filled with awe, "you are not who I expected when you appeared in this place."
"Just trying to help where I can," Carl said. Better make sure it worked since her name's kinda wacky. He turned away from the girl for a moment. "Friend list," he muttered. A rectangle sprang into existence.
|➤ FE||0/2 Online|
"Um," he said, turning back with a hand on his beard. "Dismiss," he muttered. "Do you have like, a nickname I can use? Ir'alith is a cool name and all, but the apostrophe is kind of a pain to type, and—"
The blue-skinned girl's entire body turned pink—literally—and she hid her face behind the head of her axe. "N-no," she stuttered loudly, seeming flustered. "No short name! I—No! Unworthy!"
"Okay, okay, sorry," said Carl with a chuckle. She's really good at role-playing, I'll give her that. "Forget I asked. Anyway, I gotta get going—"
"You do?" Ir'alith peeked out from behind her axe, the pink showing no signs of reverting to its previous color.
"Yup, I just ended up here on my way to do some fishing," said Carl with a wink. "Inventory." He plucked the shining, glowing spear out of his inventory and held it up.
Ir'alith's mouth fell open, and she goggled.
She must recognize how good this thing is. I kinda wanna brag and tell her I started out using the training rod and became a Master Fisherman in-game just on my lunch breaks before I added this baby to my character, but that'd be a little childish. Bad enough that I'm playing at all behind Annie's back like this… "Let me just send you home, and then I'll maybe still have a minute or two to try and catch something before I've gotta get back to my world." Carl grinned as he opened a new shell prompt and once again started to type his sixty four character password for the purpose of acquiring dbadmin privileges for one more database update after chucking his fishing rod back into his inventory. "I'm really sorry you had to get stuck here for such a long time. I'd do more to try and even it out, but—"
"No, no, no!" Ir'alith said, sounding worried wearing an expression to match. "Carl, you have already helped me so much! I… I can never repay this debt already, no matter how many eras I live through. I—If there is anything, anything at all that I can do for you, Carl, please do not hesitate to request it."
Except for nicknames, I guess. "Don't worry about it," he said, waving her off. "Happy to help. Like I said, I've got a daughter—well, two of 'em—so I can be kinda overprotective when I see a young lady like you in trouble." Even if you may or may not actually be a girl or young in real life. Gender and age in virtual reality is a bit of a brain twister.
"They are lucky to have one such as you as their father. And… Your wives must be very happy, as well" Ir'alith said demurely, once again turning the head of the axe such that it obscured her face.
Carl guffawed. "I do my best." She's so into this role-play thing! Wives! Annie's more than enough for any man. Best I can do is try to keep up. "Alright, nice meeting you, Ir'alith. Off you go, now."
The axe head spun, revealing Ir'alith's pink face. "But—"
Carl pressed the Enter key on his keyboard, and the pink-skinned girl disappeared along with her axe, leaving only a pink collar and leash in her place to fall onto the bright floor with a soft patter. Hope she likes the new gear I gave her. Couldn't bear to think about having her pop back at whatever this Throne of Darkness is and have her start getting bullied again because she doesn't have proper armor.
He closed out of his newest shell prompt out of habit. His fingers hesitated over his keyboard as he considered his newest dilemma. Maybe I should've checked out her level and stats? I don't even know if she can use that stuff; I just kinda remembered Bobby mentioning it was good, I think. Or maybe I heard it in some design meeting that they still make me sit on for whatever reason—whatever. It matches my fishing rod, so that's kinda cool? Color's probably wrong, though… Should I make sure—He waved his hands a little. No, I already broke internal policy by giving her items and then again by deleting the transaction logs in the DB. Shouldn't compound that. I'm sure she'll be fine as long as she doesn't unequip it. If she could move her tail around that well, she's obviously been playing for a while. Nobody spends that much time on customization unless they're pretty invested.
Huh. Did she get a little bigger there at the end? He rolled his eyes in exasperation at the thought. Get it together, Carl. Can't customize characters in-game. Cute kid, though, especially with how happy she was to get her axe back. Hope her dad's okay, wherever he is.
He looked around after musing for another moment. "How the heck am I supposed to get out of here without my keyboard?" he muttered. If I hadn't had dev mode on, I could've gotten stuck here just like that poor girl. I guess I should thank whoever in Engineering moved me here so I could find her, but that was pretty mean. He added another item to his ever-growing todo list file.
I just wanted to go fishing for a few minutes! I wanted to relax! He referenced the latest in-game coordinates he'd saved to the file `/home/c.weathers/gonefishing`, then opened a new shell prompt, entered his account password—sixty four characters for maximum security—and started typing the coordinates into another database update command. He triple-checked his update command as usual before he pressed the Enter key, then held the control key and pressed the D key twice to log out of his newest shell—also just like usual.
His surroundings changed instantly, and he was now on the shore next to a long, wooden dock that looked out over a pristine, placid lake with no other person in sight. The lake stretched on in every direction across the horizon, its waters so clear and unpolluted that he could see the fish gliding to and fro beneath the surface. It looks even more amazing than I remember. He stared for a while, feeling himself begin to unwind a little bit at last.
Carl breathed in deeply. "Wow, they've even upgraded the olfactory serializer code?" He took another breath. This has to be some of the cleanest air I've ever smelled. Even if I haven't really smelled it, I guess. I wish I could show this to Annie. Really is too bad she hates games.
He started walking out along the dock. What time is it anyway? He glanced down at the in-game clock at the edge of his vision. The heck is this? He looked up at the dual suns hanging in the sky, one larger than the other. Is it set to in-game time? How the heck do you read the time on a world with two suns?
A thought struck him, and he paused his steps.
Since when did they add assets and hook up mechanics for player tears and blushing?
That's really cool.