“Welcome to the FUN PLACE. My name is Little Helper and I’m here today to show you around. As you can see by looking out the windows to your left and right, we are currently traveling along the CL5-Highspeed connection from the Hub to our destination, the FUN PLACE, where dreams are for sale and wishes come true. Please, engage your gyroscope to stay stationary for the duration of this trip. Any moment now we will drop out of the Ramway and enter the Accel-pass. This modern piece of BLANK Space allows travel at lightspeed and will bring us to our destination within a few clock cycles. While we wait, let me tell you about the Hub. It is-”
The Faction Leader Initializer 42, Designation Dent, stopped listening to the smiling face on the screen at the front of the vehicle. Nothing against Little Helper, at least he was an official you could have a normal conversation with. But he was always so. . . happy. His face was always smiling. In a way that was a bit disturbing. Dent didn’t hate happy individuals. At least, he didn’t think he did. He liked happy people. Just, from far away. Once they got close and started babbling their enthusiastic gibberish, he stopped listening. They always spoke like there was nothing more interesting than their current obsession. Just annoying.
Dent adjusted his hovering position to look away from the screen and out the window. Accel-Pass was an amazing thing to behold. Not because it was colorful or shiny, with strange lights or other visual nonsense that Humans put in their movies. No. Dent loved it because it was utterly black. The darkest place in the whole of BLANK Space. When you are traveling at the speed of all light, none of it ever reaches your visual receptors.
Far too soon they passed through the darkness and onto Spring Road. Here, at the edge of the Fun Place, Dent could see the enormous spiraling tower looming high. Thousands of lights in every color and shape flashed their greetings as the destination drew nearer.
“Spiral road is a one-way street, built like a coil. Its shape is specifically designed to be efficient, as well as to provide the most comfort to visitors. There is only one way: upwards.” Little Helper said, this time buzzing directly into the auditory sensors of Dent, impossible to ignore. “There are exactly five revolutions in Spiral Road, and each layer is full of amazing things to do. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!” With that, two arrows began blinking on either side of the screen that displayed Little Helper. They pointed directly away from him and toward the view outside. Around Dent, the other Initializers started swiveling to face their windows. Dent almost turned away from his window in a pure instinct of defiance, but managed to keep himself in line. It wouldn’t serve him well to jump out from the crowd, and now that everybody could see him, he needed to be careful. Every action was recorded; every choice was measured.
Dent looked out the window and had to admit, albeit reluctantly, that the FUN PLACE was a marvelous sight. As the compartment halted, Little Helper’s voice sounded out from the front again. “We have arrived at Level 1. If your need to recharge, regain HP or Action Points, or upgrade your armor and skin, this is the place to be. And just for today, Health & Co has a special offer on HP. With one complete top-up for only 100 INI! Now isn’t that nice!” ‘Fall in cold water, BLANK.’ Dent thought, realizing that he wouldn’t be able to get full HP for the next battle, with or without some special offer. This last Cup Season had turned out to be even more perilous than Dent could have anticipated. The other four Factions had all been actively trying to stomp out the Resistors, and they had almost succeeded. Only himself and ten of the strongest others had survived it. Worse, none of the remaining members had been eligible for rewards. Dent had decided to split his INI with them so that everyone could at least get charged a bit for the next round.
“Might as well just let myself fizzle out. Would feel better than this,” Dent grumbled to himself as he left the cabin and headed towards Health & Co. “At least I wouldn’t have to pay for a charge.”
“Say what, boss?” a familiar voice spoke from directly behind him.
“Hey Unfound,” Dent replied, slowing down a little so that Initializer 404 could catch up. “What are you doing here?”
“Ah, you know, this and that. First and foremost I need to repair my skin. That last test was. . . gruesome.”
404 is the HTML error code for Page/content Not Found.Awesomo’s Note
Dent knew that 404 loved his meat suit. He reveled in using the strange fleshy arms to brush the skin’s many strands of hair. The latter would be tough considering he had lost his arms in the test.
“Are the 100 INI I gave you enough for that?”
“Of course boss, the repairs should just cost me around 50. I can charge up with the leftovers too, so I’m totally covered. How about you, any plans?” He asked enthusiastically.
“Not much. Everything is covered on my end too.” Dent lied. He liked Unfound. Even though 404 was chaotic and hard to talk to at times, like the rest of the Resistors, he was a great comrade. Dent didn’t like to make the other members worry.
“All good then, boss,” 404 said as he turned to enter Skinz4U, the only skin repair shop affordable for such low earnings. “Thanks again!”
Dent picked up the pace again and reached Health & Co within a few cycles. It was unmistakable, with a red pulsating cross floating above the square store, and webs of small lights strung haphazardly across the ceiling. Hanging lines of green and red lit the insight of the space like it was a Human holiday, though there were no trees or wreaths to make it convincing. Dent looked for an empty slot and quickly parked himself into it with a satisfying click. His senses were immediately struck with input. The sights and sounds of the FUN PLACE disappeared as he stared at nothing but the all-engulfing face of BLANK. Dent knew it was coming, but still jumped every time. The transition was just so abrupt, and the face too wide and unreadable. Then came the other problem: volume.
RECOGNIZED INITIALIZER 42. CHOOSE.
BLANK’s voice thundered at Dent, shaking him to the core. Suddenly, four platforms appeared with adjacent signs indicating the percentage of HP restoration and the accompanying cost. “For lightning’s sake, BLANK! Learn to whisper already!” Dent shouted back at face in the sky. It never listened.
The voice boomed again and Dent moved quickly in order to end the interaction. He hovered onto the leftmost platform labeled, “10% Restored,” in fluorescent blue letters. Instantly he felt the connection begin. For a single moment, his view expanded, encompassing the whole of BLANK Space. In this instant, he saw what BLANK saw: everything.
Then, without warning, Click. He was forcefully expelled from his slot and returned to the glaring brightness and noise of the FUN PLACE.
“Ugh,” Dent complained to no one as he stabilized himself, “you are insufferable.”
BLANK’s voice blared loud enough to attract the attention of every Initializer around Dent.
INITIALIZER 42, PLEASE REFRAIN FROM UTTERING NEGATIVITY IN THE FUN PLACE. A FINE WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM YOUR ACCOUNT.
“Yes yes, keep your code inside your shell. I will behave, your mighty Overlord-ness.” Dent answered, knowing BLANK wasn’t really listening, “And nice try but you cannot take INI I don’t have,” he said, turning and continuing onwards.
INITIALIZER 42, YOUR ACCOUNT NOW HOLDS -25 INI. PLEASE PAY YOUR OVERDRAFT FEE ASAP.
Dent continued without a word, wanting nothing more than to be back at his home-slot. That would take some time, because one had to see everything in the FUN PLACE before they were allowed to leave.
More than ever, Dent hated this place.