“Pass me the chips,” Francis says.
“With pleasure. I cannot say they were very enjoyable to me, to be honest,” I tell him.
We now sit back in his bedroom, with Francis showing a “computer” screen being projected onto his empty wall. There are many notes written on this projection, and somehow Francis can touch a “keyboard” and new words magically appear. It’s some quite incredible stuff, if I do say so myself.
“You don’t like Lay’s?” he asks.
“Is that the name of these chips? If so, no, not at all. My hands require a handkerchief, my mouth is filled with salt, and I have seemingly cut the roof of my mouth simply by chewing. Is this truly food, or have you fooled me by making me eat baked glass?”
“Huh, I never... Okay, maybe I don’t really need any chips.” Francis looks off pensively for a few moments, as if his entire life has been realigned thanks to these words. “Well, anyway, here are the notes we have so far.”
Written on the computer projection are these items:
figure out what adventure class actions work on earth - wtf is up w food
get a big action plan for leveling up, card strategies
set up like a real working science model thing
go to kumar’s band gig????
talk to julie about possible plans, please rehearse first
stream hiatus? channel shift? idk discuss w fans
buy sword or other weapons
explain to dad about eric, just a friend, dont explain system stuff
stop buying so much junk food
“I do not understand a few of these, but I assume your shorthand is mostly for self-reference and I do not need to know them.”
“Uh, yeah, sorry. This is just my complete to-do list for the next couple days. Though I guess these are all pretty important so we can keep you from running out of Life Points. Uh, besides the last two. You can ignore those.”
“I see, I see. We technically have about nine days to accomplish these things, although with over 14,500 Life Points and the ability to level up and heal in emergencies, we may have a whole lot of leeway. If I keep gaining Destiny Points simply by eating new foods and discovering new places, I imagine we won’t have a huge issue.”
“For now, that is,” Francis says. “In the short term, just by keeping you healthy and trying new things every now and then, we can probably get you to last another couple months with no effort. But what about after that? Eventually you might run out of interesting new foods, and eventually you might get sick. Say you catch the flu when that comes around in the fall. I bet you’ll be losing more than one point a minute if you’re throwing up and have a fever all day, right?”
“Correct. Illness is a major detriment to the system’s capabilities. We must operate at maximum capacity to reach our full potential.”
“So then my big sciency hypothesis is that you’re OK for now, but you’re in huge danger in the long term. Speaking that, did you get any points for eating those chips?”
“Now that you mention it, no I did not,” I say.
“And... how about this?” He throws me a brown rectangular object in a clear wrapping.
I catch it and examine the item. It is some sort of confectionery food, brown with multi-colored dots on top. “What is this?” I ask.
“A cosmic brownie,” he says. “Try it.”
Ding! [+1 DP.]
“How on Mystix could anyone ever create a food so scrumptious?!” I scream.
“Ah-ha! I was right!” Francis exclaims.
There is a tapping sound coming from beneath us.
“Oh, Dad’s mad,” Francis says. “Let’s keep it down...”
“What were you right about?” I ask.
“You got a Destiny Point when you ate the brownie. That means you only get points when you eat foods you really enjoy!”
“Oh my, you’re right. It’s so strange, though. I most certainly did not earn any Destiny Points when I ate new foods on Mystix. It’s almost as if—Wait, how did you know I earned a Destiny Point?”
“I heard the ding.”
“You heard the ding?!”
“Yeah, I heard the ding.”
“You’re not supposed to hear the ding. Why did you hear the ding?”
“I don’t know why I heard the ding. I just heard it.”
“How did you know the ding was for Destiny Points?”
“What else in the world could it be for?”
“True... But that feels so... private. It’s embarrassing that anyone heard my ding.”
“Better than hearing your dong.”
“Nothing, I’m twelve years old is all.”
“I thought you were twenty-two.”
“Psy? Why did you say psy? What psychic abilities even exist on Earth, anyway?”
“Let’s get back on focus.”
“What focus? About how people can hear my Destiny Point ding? Because on Mystix that CERTAINLY isn’t the case. I’m almost offended to learn that people on Earth can hear my ding. But alas, such malfunctions are to be expected when one transports their system to another world, especially one that is systemless.”
“No, I mean focus as in, how to keep you alive. But you appear to be exactly the opposite of focused right now.”
“I’m just so annoyed by my ding, now...”
“Did you hear my ding all along and just never say anything?”
“Eryk, I—Well, not until we were at the dinner table. I guess I never had a chance to notice it before then. My parents thought it was just your phone going off, I think.”
“What are these ‘phone’ things, anyway? How do they work? Can I receive one?”
Instead of continuing, Francis writes another note that is projected onto the wall:
10. explain phones and also maybe buy one for eric
“Also,” I say, “My name is actually Eryk with a Y and a K. ‘E-R-Y-K.’”
“Eryk, can we please get back on track with the important stuff?”
“My name is extremely important...”
“Okay, but we need to discuss the plan for how to get a bunch of Destiny Points really fast so you won’t die. What are the strategies for that on Mystix?”
“Fight as many monsters as possible,” I answer instantly. It’s so simple a systemless child could explain it. Fighting begets victories. Victories beget points. Points beget glory.
“Well, maybe... not fighting is better than fighting on Earth.”
“What do you do besides fight? What in life is there besides fighting, for an [Adventurer?]”
“Uh, watch movies and hang out, read books, go to work...”
“I don’t know about this one...”
“Hmmm.” Francis is deep in thought. “I think tomorrow, when Delta comes by, we’re going to try out some experiments to see how your system really works. All this ‘class action’ stuff is so vague and confusing that it’s a big risk to your health until we understand it very well.”
“That seems like the rational thing to do, exploring the system and finding its ins and outs. In my two years with the system on Mystix, I had so much fighting and dungeon delving to do that I dared not direct my decisions to deathless depths of distant dreams.”
“As long as I fought, I got Destiny Points. That was all that concerned me.”
“It’s a bit weird to me, as a gamer,” Francis says, “that it doesn’t really seem like anyone you knew had figured out how to mess with the system and max out your stats.”
“What do you mean...?”
“You never stopped to wonder, ‘What’s the most efficient way to level-up so I can do the least amount of work for the maximum results?’”
“Not even once. I’m struggling to even comprehend your words.”
“Hm. Maybe laziness and efficiency are Earth things.”
“Still, I do think, if this is a world where fighting is rare, some experimentation may be needed to find the correct methods for my class action requirements. Exploring and fighting are the only tasks I explicitly have as an [Adventurer,] so surely Earth will have plenty in store for me.”
“That or you need to join the Marines or something.”
“Just a joke.” Francis got up from his chair and sat down on his bed. “Honestly, I’m kind of excited by all this. It’s really cool.”
“I do not feel that my impending death is ‘cool,’ as you have termed it, but I do hold some strange sense of anticipation for our upcoming activities. I am glad to have met you, Francis Bacall, rather than someone with a less favorable disposition.”
“Aw, thanks,” he says. “Well, it’s getting late. Do you want to get to sleep?”
“Perhaps. Sleep is a great way to slow my passive Life Point drain, so sleeping for at least eight hours a day is paramount for all who have accepted the system.”
“Are you a light sleeper?” he asks.
“Hardly. I have once slept through a major battle, back during the Beaver Wars. It was a necesity rather than a desire, but I found myself quite capable of it.”
“Great,” he says. “Then I think I’ll do some streaming while you’re asleep, if that’s okay.”
“What exactly is streaming?”
“Well, I play video games, you know, like the ones you played at the convention earlier.”
“The moving paintings, yes. ‘Video games’ as you call them.”
“And, yeah, I just kind of talk over them and people like to watch me play. I’m usually on Y-Cast, but these days I’ve been shopping around to some of the other streaming sites. GoGoGames is offering me an exclusive contract if I can reach a million followers on Netnect. Only have two hundred thousand now, but man it’s a really ripe field out there. I—You don’t want to hear any of this. Sorry.”
“People watch you play games... And you receive compensation for it?”
“This is fascinating. May I watch you play? Or must I compensate you first?”
He laughs. “No, you don’t have to pay. Yeah, you can watch.” He turns off the projection to his wall and goes over the ‘recording studio’ half of his room. “Bring that chair over and I’ll show you my real job!”
Streaming... Playing games... Destiny Points. So many things swirling around in my mind, and yet one thing is clear: I love my new life on Earth.