“So why an American city?” asked Carol Moukala. She was looking over NeoRonoake’s requirements, contemplating installing it.
I rallied back, “Well, it is kind of a trope. It is a fake city, however, about 4 times the size of one of the larger cities at the time, Los Angeles. At the same time, it is a mix of San Diego, Chicago, Washington DC and New York City in terms of architecture. In addition, there is tons of random generated content, and we wouldn’t get bored.”
Jim Harrison frowned, looking over the program as well. “Why do we have to be villains? I would feel weird.”
“Relax man, it’s just a game!” laughed Margo Devaroux. She was also interested in the game, and was helping me modify it. She walked over to our computer system pulling up the systems requirements. “If you want, we can mod you into a hero role, but I think everyone is going villain for the game.”
Over her shoulder, Clyde Zed34 stared at the screen. He was the only non human on board. An uplift, his ancestors were genetically engineered from lemur, cuttlefish and canine dna. However, he was designed to look as human as possible, just to cut out the uncanny valley. He was crew, and we all knew that when his skin took a bluish hue, it was his equivalent of a frown. “No uplifts?”
I shrugged. “Sorry Clyde. This was before your people were created. Maybe we can add you as an alien?” Clyde smiled, revealing his internal beak. “Maybe I could be a Martian? I have seen some 21st century Martian heroes in the old comics.”
Dr. Louis Hill laughed. “We could be brothers!” Mars born, Louis missed his homeworld, and his pod was filled with pictures from his home at Olympus Mons. We all joined him while laughing, until it suddenly died as we looked at the doorway.
Sam Tenor was our third shifter, piloting when Jim and I were resting. His bleary eyes looked at me, before giving me a thumbs up. I smiled, he was in!!!
Margo looked over the game. “It is a relatively small program, only 500 terabytes in the beginning. With our mods, it will be a little less than a single Petabyte. We could install them into each of our pods to help speed things up. I just need to figure out who will have the master copy. Want it Captain?”
Carol shook her head. “Nah, I will probably never use it. Too busy watching my babies play.” We all burst into laughter. “Just give it to Titus.”
“After all, he survives.”
I stopped laughing immediately. I turned and realized they were all looking at me, their eyes shimmering in hatred. “He knew I was tired, and then switched shifts with me, knowing I was exhausted,” said Jim, his head now split in half with micro meteoriod impacts.
Margo started walking towards me, her body desiccating before my eyes as pointed at my horrified face. “That's nothing. You know why he was so desperate to switch? He tried to hook up with me while we played the game!” Everywhere I turned, I watched my friends become twisted husks and started to shamble towards me…
I snapped awake screaming. My pod was darker, now that the shipweed was growing to cover some of the lights. I snapped a few vines off, and stripped them of leaves. The stems would go into the copia for processing, both for sugars to feed the algae and cellulose for various tools.
Eating the leaves raw, I started to activate the copia to create some broth. I looked around my pod. I had left the side panels off my pod in my efforts to fix the ship. In addition, I was able to slowly increase my speed to simulate a 9m/s gravity. It will make things tricky to slow down, but if I can hit the grav-net it should force me to orbit the station.
I sat down with my back to the Chair. I had reloaded the game, removed mods, and they were still there. After Columbia/Carol, Jim appeared as a speedster named Jackelope, then Margo as the electric woman Matrix, then Clyde and Louis appeared as the Martian Twins. I could delete the game, but I couldn’t bring myself to.
I can’t kill them again.
I tried to shake off that thought, and checked my terminal. It has been 4 weeks since they started to appear, and I have been using the Chair less often. I could either suffocate in the real world, or deal with my crew in NeoRonoake.
I checked my arms. A few days ago I was burned on one of the pipes while I was repairing a leak. I nearly lost 2 liters of water from my system, but was able to recover most of it. The burn was covered in a salve, and a fabric bandage. However, my skin was loose from muscle loss, and I could count my ribs. I considered getting a new shirt, but I needed the materials elsewhere.
My broth was ready, so I walked over to the copia and pulled out my scissors. I began trimming my beard and hair, feeding the scraps to the device. Like the ship weed stems, my hair could be used to create other proteins or polymers. That last leak had lost most of my krill, so I needed to make up some of the nutrients, as well as flavors. It will take months before a viable population could be created, but all I had was time.
After draining my brackish broth, I stood up and did a few half hearted jumping jacks. My body was stressed, and I was worried. I needed exercise, but I was so tired of the same walls. I was able to survive, but just barely. I couldn’t even bathe with my water loss. I began walking to the Chair.
As I got in, I activated the interface, and began to relax as the walls of my cage disappeared. Planet 4 was getting larger, and I could see some of the automated superstructure surrounding it. It was teraforming the planet, and adding the structure for multiple space elevators and docks. I should be able to get to one of the docks, and activate the habitat structure. There, I could survive for years, until I could get rescued by the next supply ship.
I did a cursory scan. The path ahead of me was clear of micrometeors and radiation belts that could complicate things. I calculated the trip left. I had about 4 standard months to go, and I had read all 43 novels in my library, had watched dozens of movies on my system, and done everything I could to avoid NeoRonoake.
An alert went off behind me. As I turned I noted the figures flying behind me. They were coming. I tried to deactivate my interface, only for it to be blocked. I opened the development console, trying to force a deactivation. As I did, Columbia and Jackalope grabbed me by the hand.
We activated the game.
About the Creator
Hi, I'm just a guy trying to exercise his narrative chops, and write some decent fiction.
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.