World Servers - Dawn

by

obran

Chapter 11 - Stepping off planet

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“She is right you know. Gamer violence has become endemic high,” Robert Loblaw the current Chief of Staff said.

“I know. But what can we do?” Asked President Humongous Testicles.

“We already designate certain specific areas as PVP and most other areas are safely non-PVP, but the gamers have ways around that. We can’t ban them from the server entirely Bob. Almost anyone can become a gamer.”

“Most Gamers play for a few years. The go up a few levels, put points in a few valuable skills, learn the how the system works. Bob, we’re talking about some of our most productive citizens here! Hell, you and I both gamed when we were young or else we wouldn’t be here.”

“I know. I know,” said the Chief of Staff, “Humongous, let’s face it. Most people aren’t gamers. Most people don’t like the inconvenience of going about their business, getting shot, burnt, stabbed, bludgeoned, strangled, run-over, electrocuted, burnt, drowned, teleported into outer space, chain-sawed, made to sleep with the fishes, breaded and deep fried, circumcised, eaten, hydrogenated, exploded, vacuum sealed, depressurized, pressurized, pasteurized, homogenized, radiated, exfoliated, did I mention burnt, decapitated whatever, and then suddenly waking up in bed a couple hours later after respawning.”

“Bob we’ve lowered the pain and realism threshold to 0% for Civs until level 10. It only goes up by 1% every level after that. And anyone can lower their own personal pain level at any time. What else can we do?” wondered the President.

“That’s the thing. I don’t know.” Robert Loblaw looked vexed. “A great thinker once said, ‘Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.’

The President sat down behind his desk and thought about the quote for a couple of seconds.

“Martin Luther King right? It doesn’t apply. He was trying to bring a whole people who’d historically had their rights denied to them into equality. Violence was something a terrified and racist society used to suppress an entire people, Bob.”

“Killings someone today just doesn’t carry the same sting of repression and persecution. After all, when the person you’ve just murdered wakes up a couple hours later, feeling refreshed and awake, you’re not exactly taking away anything except maybe an afternoon’s plans.” Humongous Testicles said.

Robert Loblaw walked over to the President’s desk. Behind him the curtain was open. An NPC with top secret clearance would come in after they’d left and clean the place up.

“There are the NPCs. They don’t have the same rights as normal folk,” said the Chief of Staff turning away from the window.

“We’ve given some of the longer lasting ones the right to vote,” Humongous said. “Most servers don’t even give them that. Let’s face it. Most people just generate an NPC for a once off task and then delete them. Imagine if all algorithms had full rights. The chaos.” Said the President.

“Huge, that’s what those in power have always said about people who don’t have it,” said Robert Loblaw. “The difference between people and NPCs really isn’t as different as you want to believe. We limit the complexity of NPCs on purpose. It gives us a sense of superiority. But it isn’t righteous.”

“Ugh… Well talk about NPCs some more after the meeting. As President I don’t have a mandate to be righteous, Things like morality and justice, simply get in the way of doing my job sometimes. As for the Civs. What if we lowered the respawn time from 4 hours to I don’t know, say 1 minutes? Then we allowed players to respawn near where they were killed.”

“The Government tried that once. Remember the Spawn Camping incident of 2123? It was a massacre,” said Robert.

“Yeah. I remember. Ancient History. Those were some dark days in our past. But certainly when we removed the experience, and lowered the drop rate on low level players, that ended? Everyone has always had the opportunity to choose among multiple respawn points.”

“Unfortunately not. Most Civs don’t bother setting more points than their work, hobbies and bedroom. Some of the lazy Civs and their NPCs actually kill themselves every morning to get to their work or hobby, and then kill themselves in the evening to get home. So what if it eats up 8 hours of the day. At least they don’t have to take public transit.”

The Chief of Staff continued. “Then there are the players actually enjoy pain and mayhem. I remember this gamer girl I dated for a couple of weeks a dozen or so years ago… What was her name…”

Robert Loblaw thought for a moment, dredging up some bad memories. “Shrike. Yeah, her name was Shrike. Hot Girl. A lot of fun. A bit crazy, but you know – crazy girls have that reputation for a reason. But…” The chief of staff shuttered… “let’s just say there are circumstances where our memory filters for traumatic experiences kick in. Our programming causes us to block out some memories for some pretty soul crushing reasons. There are things that used to be illegal for a reason back when we were simply flesh.” He shuttered.

“Yes. Yes.” The President said. “The world is a fershlugina. Lots of meshuggina people in it and of course, politically speaking all of this is my fault. Without that crazy Jew with his terribly big balls, we would have a nice Gentile as Commander and Chief with tiny little danglies and everything would be rainbows and pony rides. Thanks Humongous Testicles!”

“That’s not what I meant…” Said the Chief of Staff, but he was cut off when Becky the Civ administrative Assistant, buzzed into the room.

“Mr. President. You wanted me to let you know when it was time to head out to Earth.” Said Becky.

“Fuck.” Said the President of the United States. Then Humongous Testicles turned to Robert Loblaw and said. “You coming? Want to waste an afternoon listing to a bunch of self-righteous know-it-all’s drone on and on about their petty grievances, and the self-important make power plays for minor bits of position at every one else expense. You know, politics.”

“What, you’re going to be speaking?” Bob said.

“Funny, but yes probably” said the President.

“I may as well go.”

The two of them stepped out into the White House hallway. Around them a detachment of the secret service moved in to escort them.

This was a team that had been selected to keep the President safe this afternoon. Two battlemages; a mage who specialized in teleportation, and one who specialized in shielding, stuck closest to the President. Two gunmen, took the forward point, and a different two gunmen took the back point. Everyone carried a sword.

“I wish they’d let me carry a sword,” said the President, “It would be just like in the old days.”

“You’d simply become a target,” said the Chief of Staff.

“More than I already am Bob?”

“just so.”

Everyone on the secret service payroll was a gamer.

Most people the secret service hired were people who had been born in the virtual world, and had no memories or loyalties to old earth. But not this team. Each and every person on this unit spent as much time training on the physical earth as they did in the virtual world.

Skills were different on earth. Keeping the President safe was not just a matter of assigning the right points to physical attributes, and grinding weapons skills. People on Earth actually had to keep practicing a skill or else they might forget it. Reflexes were a lot slower. You weren’t nearly as strong, or fast, or quick witted.

Plus, the bodies they used, itched. Humongous hated them. It was a weird having a skin again. A person couldn’t call up their stats or see their status at a moment’s notice. Oh, they wore cybernetics that tried to estimate things like hit points, strength, agility and so on and then present a friendly but faux status screen. But it just wasn’t the same thing. Everything was hideously analog.

Duty trumped personal whims, of course. He would wear that clunky klutzy sack of meat, and Kvetch with a room full of bloated wind bags, because he was President and that was what Presidents were elected to do.

The security team marched through the west wing, towards one of the two Intra Server Gateways in the Whitehouse. The most commonly used one. The second was in the White House situation room, but that was kept top secret.

C.J. Cregg, the White House Press Secretary stepped into the hallway, and merged into the armed secret service procession.

“Mr. President, the media wants to know your position on the Ships. Do you know what you will say?”

“Tell them my position has not changed.” Said the President.

“There are a lot of people who will be disappointed to hear that. Those ships cost our server a lot of money, and we Americans get no benefit whatsoever from them.”

“Well tough titties. The ships are good for humanity as a whole,” said the President, “not just this Server. Sometimes we have to look beyond our own regional needs to those which do the greater good for humanity.”

“People won’t like that. They are already calling you the Human Welfare President. They say that you should focus on the good of your Virtual Citizens and leave poor old obsolete Homo Sapiens to their own resources,” Said C.J.

The President stopped walking. The team of Secret Service Gamers stopped walking with him. C.J. Cregg and Robert Loblaw stopped walking too.

There were times when President Humongous Testicles would just stop walking for no apparent reason, it messed with everyone’s minds, because when he stopped decorum meant that everyone stopped, though most people never complained. Not a peep. Sometimes he would spend as much as an hour or two, avoiding work, just walking up and down the hallway, stopping at random times, in random places, for random reasons. It helped him think, and annoyed the staff.

“C.J. I don’t give a rats-ass what a bunch of people who probably didn’t vote for me anyway have to say about me. Yes, yes, yes! I know my duty is to govern for all citizens of the 21st century American republic, not just my party, but it is at times like this that I discover just how much I don’t care.

“For all their flaws, humans have valuable genetics that need to be nourished and sent outward into space to thrive. Who knows what mutagen or genetic-shift will benefit our decedents or our decedents-decedents. Who knows what clever idea their organic minds will come up with. These are our parents and grandparents too you know. Some of them are our children and grandchildren.”

“We may think they are backwards, and frankly even spending ten minutes in a human skin makes my whole body itch -- and don’t you dare tell the press I said that -- but homo sapiens are still an important branch of what it is to be humans. Under my administration they are not to be referred to as being… Obsolete.” said the President.

“So what should I tell the press, Mr. President.”

“Why not tell them to go fuck themselves.” Said the President of the United States cordially.

“Ha, Ha, really. Talk to me, and this time don’t say something every President since the original George Washington hasn’t already said, but has kept quiet in the interest of media relations.”

“Tell them, I am consulting with the other leaders of different World Servers and that my position has not changed. Tell them that this is a time of transition. Tell the press that events over these next few days will alter the course of humanity for the better. Over the next few years and likely over the next few millennia,” said the President.

“Thanks Mr. President,” said C.J. Cregg, who walked away towards the press room.

The President, Chief of Staff, and their team of Secret Service guards stepped into the Intra Server Gateway Room.

The gateway in a basement beneath the rose garden. Rumor had it that there used to be a nuclear missile located here during the cold war between Russia and America in the 1950’s. But ever since America went virtual, this was where they kept the first of two White House ISG’s.

The gateway itself was massive. It was one of the bigger ones on the server. Forty feet high by Eighty feet long. It shimmered opal. Humongous always imagined a hum, coming from the gate but his engineers kept telling him no, that he was imagining things, and his doctor kept checking him for Tinnitus.

A contingent of guards, both NPC and gamers, stood ready to stop any attacks that came through the gateway. These brave soldiers were highly trained specialists from US Military. Not just anybody could work in the White House.

Their duty was to hold the door long enough to close it in case of an attack. Three times in the History, gaming raid groups had tried to come in using the Intra Server Gate. It was a hard way to come since, you pretty much had to fight your way through the Hall. Besides most Gamers didn’t like how Intra Server Gateways logged their name, spawn points, character stats, skills and home world, every time they passed through. That said, already three times during his Presidency, gamers had tried it.

The commander of the gate guard came to attention and saluted the President. The rest of the guards stayed focused on their duty. It was an honor to see the President Humongous Testicles, but duty always came first.

Inside the Gate Room a steady stream of office workers, bureaucrats, journalists, secret service employees, NPC, FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS, ABBA, ABC, 123, U&Me agents, Policy Wonks, Aides, Senators, Congressmen, Biographers, Llamas, Thriller Novelists, Nut Jobs, High-Priced Call Girls, Boy Toys, Egg Plants, Tourists, Xenophobes, Team Mascots and Politicans came through and left this particular Gateway. If they had business with the Federal Government, often times, the best way to get inside the White House was through the ISG.

Someday, Humongous thought, if Humanity in its myriad shapes, bandwidths, and diversity, were to meet an alien life form – and not just some those the freaky outer edge server folks who already came through the gate regularly – but a bonafide Alien Thingy-ma-Jiggy that wanted to visit these United States, they too would probably step through this gate.

Statistically, on a normal day, traffic through this room was nearly a thousand people every hour. All of this traffic however, moved out of the way to make room for the President of the United States.

The room hushed as he walked by, but his secret service guards remained anxious and alert. Too many people had access to this room. They’d all been vetted for entrance to the White House grounds, their inventories thoroughly searched. This was a non-mana, non-pvp, mid-tech zone, but there was still a danger.

Withholding the sudden urge to yell out “See you, wouldn’t wanna be you. Bye you shumcks” to the crowd, The President in all his honor and dignity stepped through the gate, and was transferred into the Hallway.

The Hallway was every bit as opulent as the White House. Of course this wasn’t the hallway proper, but rather the space the 21st Century America Server had bought from the Hallway for added office space and official government purposes.

The United States owned some rather sprawling real estate. Power in the Hallway was often measured by how much space you took up, and the White House in this zone was huge.

Generations of Presidents and their First Ladies, First Gentlemen, and in one extremely bizarre and hushed-up situation, one President and his First Goat, had laid their personal mark upon these rooms.

This was the room where much of The North American 21st Century Server took care of much of their international trade. This was where much important inter-world and maybe soon even inter-stellar treaties were signed.

There was also a currency market here. Exchanging American Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Mexican Pesos for the Hall's ubiquitous Platinum, Gold, Silver and Copper Coins. And other more esoteric currencies. It wasn’t the biggest or the most important currency market. Not even in terms of 21st century North America, but as it was directly in touch with the AI of Monetary Policy, Taxation, and Banking it was a damned important market.

The White House’s Hallway Building was also a hotbed of journalism. Every major News Network across the vast web of Worlds that touched the Hallway had a branch office here. Hundreds of the Big Networks and an entire village of rooms for stringers from the smaller new organizations.

In the 21st Century North America Server, people mostly spoke English, with pockets of people who spoke French, Spanish, and Creole with even tinier pockets of people who spoke Athabascan, Iroquoian, Algic, Siouan, and Salish.

Out in the hallway there were thousands of languages.

There were at least four different major hallway AI dedicated to languages and translations. After all any group or organization that wanted a server, and could afford the hardware and processing power, could establish a world. On past walks through the hallway, President Humongous Testicles had speculated that it was exactly this point of language and culture which had led people to establish the entire system of server worlds. Though Humongous could also be very wrong, since one of the very first established Server worlds spoke nothing but Klingon. Another called Lothlórien where they spoke primarily Elvish.

In the vastness of the interconnected system, there were other Americas. Though in humongous’ mind, none as great. Still, some, every bit as populous as this one. Others were closed systems that kept their populations purposefully small, and immigrants out. But between the different Americas there was often a shared sense of unity that often transcended regional and trade based friendships.

As a 20th century politician had once said, America doesn’t have friends, only interests. Well, Humongous speculated, these interests between different parallel Americas were often very closely entwined.

President Humongous Testicles had gone on a couple of diplomatic missions to some of these worlds. It is all about that shared a common American Ancestry, the President reflected.

Frankly, he often enjoyed some of these trade and diplomatic missions. Pre-revolutionary war America Server was a bit too rugged for his taste but he could see why so many people loved living there. The Post Holocaust America fashioned after the Fallout series of Video Games had some extremely unique spell like mutations, weaponry and robotics that they could trade with the Testicle’s more commonplace vision of the American experience. Black Panther America, had gone from being an act of civil disobedience and defiance towards being one of the biggest trading partners in the entire American commonwealth.

There was an America which had been taken over by Dinosaurs. Even an American Server where the Nazis had won the second world war. He’d never been to that one, being Jewish and all, but it was, in its own way America. Robert Loblaw had gone on that diplomatic mission, and had come back saying that blowing away Nazis was very cathartic, but Humongous thought it was still in bad taste, and so he’d lobbied congress hard, and successfully passed a minor variation on Goodwin’s Law, stating that if anybody mentioned Nazi America they automatically lost their argument.

All of these versions of America were a part of the great cultural, and social, diaspora that living in Virtual Reality represented. Sometimes it bothered him that the sheer diversity of worlds and peoples these worlds catered too, had led at first to homogenous populations. Even thos barriers were breaking down. Race was a minor variable after all. Something which represented nothing real in terms of gameplay. People who couldn’t deal with the monumental variety of cultures outside their doors of their server, usually never left their home anyway. And in Humongous mind, if they wanted to, they could emigrate elsewhere.

There was a train that ran through the center of the hall. This train, he’d been told was basically the representation of a data-packet. Step aboard the hallway rail and become converted into a secure form of data structure.

In here was the truth of the hallway. To a virtual human, it was a huge room that seemed to go on forever. A person could start walking, and spend thousands of years without even crossing a millionth of it. Visiting culture after culture, seeing people after people.

In terms of engineering though. It was a massive interconnected network of laser beams passing data through the depths of space from one server to the next. From one node to the next. There wasn’t enough fiber optic cable in the universe to contain all the data that whizzed around the solar system. So they used massive chains of laser beams to move all the necessary data from place to place.

The hallway was the virtual representation of data trying to find the quickest path to reach its destination.

It was the closest thing the solar system had to neutral grounds. This was where the real trade took place. This was where the biggest Gamer Guilds and Corporations did their business. This was where Server Worlds protected their inhabitants, this was where the Gamer Mercenary armies and NPCs hired by Intra Solar system Dictators moved their troops.

And through it all, moving as slow as the speed of light, the Humongous Testicles, President of the 21st Century American server made his way, to the birthplace of his species, Earth.
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About the author

obran

  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • The enima of my enemy is my friend

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