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Interlude: NPC- When Life Gives you Bears…

Cayenne was running through the forest, torch in hand, sword drawn. Followed by a pack of dire wolves far below her level, she was unafraid- they would not be able to harm her when they eventually caught up to her, but she saw no reason not to indulge their instinct to chase their prey- or, this time, the bait that would inevitably become a deadly trap. She saw the clearing she had been looking for, a moonlight arena for the upcoming battle- epic enough. The trees were a strange shade of green this time- but it was still better than the last time she saw them. She stopped, killed the wolves and breathed in the air.

The phone rings. And rings. Hands are busy clicking. Let it ring. 

Distractions. Four screens, a city, one world, then another world, and another, and another, all of them waiting to be tended to. Meanwhile, life lingered, untended by those busy hands and the profits, the good- often through violent means, the bad, through differently violent means, though with the same frequency, rolled in. And then the farming- the kingdom, then the farm, the other kingdom and the mines, then to collect the daily prizes and use them to give boosts to production. This was not management, or multi-tasking, or a workflow, this was an empire of many small and disconnected digital provinces, very much in touch with the spirit of the 21st century. A workflow that allowed him to make sure that the profit and wealth this empire accrued daily only increased.

The vacuum cleaner gathers dust on the open floor. It had been clean when this implement had last been in use, which must have now been a while back. I’ll do it tomorrow, my hands and my head are busy. 

Exponentiation- increasing returns and inflations of scale in matters of mass resource production and fairy bonuses; hard, manual labour- fights and gaining XP in the wilds of the aforementioned forest; staff management and tactical planning- ordering his gang in a personal quest to become capo da capi. This filled every minute of his day with satisfying, personally enriching stories and somewhat meaningful tasks, the occasional camping in the wilds and a personal income (after deductions for safes, sofas, chemists, SMGs and a level 25 Grenadier) of 250 000 000 a day, not including the small change from sales of hides, pies, Frozen Dryad Claws From the Witchmist Cemetary- again, after expenses for raw materials for forging, smithing and tempering, of course subtracting the time used in the procurement, production of the above, of course mining and slaughtering of continents of bandits and the occasional 30 metre high bear. 

And messages incoming all the time! Later- finish this first. Hands busy.

Those only appear around level 125 and scale to the much- f§abled 50 metre high God Bears of Gnomebania, Devourer of the Worlds Of the Myorks®™ and the Smelfsmermerlfs Very Much ®™ at level 135- some crazy Iranian modder had added an extra set of arms and four new moves with amazing animations. It was important to have something to work towards. When life offers you bear-god modded megacreature high-level challenges, you make yourself a new, preferably katana-looking, dragon-something that can be elegantly dual-wielded and set off to murder that son of a bitch with your trusty custom companions who trust you and you know it because you did their trust quest, too. Life was sometimes good that way. You might get married to one of them, who knows. The health perks might be worth it.

Sometime life goes away. I hope it does so that I no longer have to look after people- I have people to look after. And while that is loading, I can quickly check on the Hideout.

Cayenne and Geramalt, followed by trusty animal companions and power-up spirit afreets, run towards the tip of the mountain that can be reached only through the secret passage that opens on the 24th of Suns Turning.

Which corresponds to the 24th of June. You can actually open it by setting the System Clock on your computer to that date and then rebooting. 

Their raised, newly-minted swords glint in ENB lighting and motion things, the background slightly blurred by the next-gen bokeh and lit by the new, particle-sensitive God Rays and Ecological Particle Simulation Algorithms with a light-weight Season Simulation Engine and Dermal Sensing Simulation. Their perfect XBBE-F bodies shone through the smoke and fog effects, glows and refractions, every hair simulated in semi- real time.

This was one of the first things that got taken apart about that one. But it looks so good. I really outdid myself this time with the light and colour enhancement load order. Oh Look what that crazy Iranian did to him- her? Bear-Mom-Goddess? The lore is not quite clear on that one. I’ll have to ask on the forums. They let out a perfectly synchronised battle cry as the music kicks in behind them.

Unlocked that track at some point. A rock band, a symphony orchestra and an ethnic Latvian band with electronic influences. Amazing Track. Not in the original game, but with a bit of love, now in the game. 

The Camera pans from behind them, moving from their running, potion-chugging figures up, up, the body of the Bear- Maybe Mother Modded Monstrosity highlighting mucus and scale and the leftovers of bodies simply squashed in previous encounters. Legend has it that an American President™ is hidden somewhere in that digital fur. Flames burst forwards from every orifice that will allow it (not mother after all) and cover the screen in HDR 16K flames with 128-bit depth. Slamming forwards towards Cayenne and Geramalt, the camera follows a monstrous, rune covered arm towards the powered-up figures of the two tiny heroes. The Bear-God-thing does not yet know whom it faces. It does not yet realise that for the only time in its existence, victory is not the only outcome of this battle. And then…

Of course, it crashed. A world froze. He was back in the frozen world. Anhedonia- the negation of hedonism. At some point, he had developed a physical reaction to multiple messages arriving at the same time. Disgust. And the world- reality- felt wrong. Work felt wrong. He felt out of phase with what was happening around him, walking at a different speed, decidedly receiving signals half a second more slowly than the people that surrounded him. And so, he stepped back and retreated to a place where his perception didn’t matter, and the rest of the world didn’t, either. A nostalgia for aborted futures overtook his ability to look into the present and see where it was going. But at least, he had a bear to beat.

This story is published as-is. It's what led to the NPC series and is part of it mostly for completeness' sake.

<< Rant: NPC IV //// NP-Me (in a reality)


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