The town was not all that notable. On the end of some long existing lords land. The old western style wooden buildings gave an all too rustic feel. The fact is that they were poorly built. Perhaps as one would slap together and fasten bits of wood to resemble homes and shops. The taste of dirt in the air seemed to promise that my next cup of water would be a blessing, and should be savored due to its infrequency. It was dark, and night had just barely fallen. Yet the darkness swept in quickly, and only was kept at bay by the lights the towns folk used to keep things alive in the evenings.
Not my usual kind of place, but what I craved here was not water nor food. What shelter there was here was not appealing, and certainly not necessary. Its truest treasure was the fact that it had people in it. A gold mine for a lonely soul, but every treasure had its price in order to be acquired. This would likely be no different. My mind was hesistant and wary, but my feet strode on with confidence. Come what may, I needed this.
It wasn't a very big town, and so the walk to the center didn't take long. A few strides away from the town square was a quaint saloon. I look across the street to the old church, and inwardly chuckles at the irony of its placement. The lively sounds and smells drifted out of the saloon, and there was no denying it was truly less than holy.
Walking up I quietly push past what passed for a doorway. The small doors squeaked slightly as they drifted back and forth to their shutting position. It seemed quite a bit louder in the inside than it was on the outside. An endless stream of chatter filled the air that occassionally punctuated by loud laughter here and there. The less social who were merely losing themselves in their drink sat about the edges of the room, and was mostly left alone. I took a seat at the edge much like the other quiet patrons looking more to left alone, and yet ironically I was there to be with people. Though it was probably better if I kept to myself. I didn't know how long I had till trouble may arrive, and I didn't want anyone getting in the crossfire for any reason. Hopefully I would be on my way well before anything could happen. I didn't have to stay here long, but I needed to be around people. I needed to remember why I traveled and did the things I needed to do. A reminder as to who this is all really for.
I sat quietly in my seat, and let the wash of sound flow about me. Let my eyes drift to the various groups of people enjoying their evening after a hot day of hard work. I took in the smiles I saw, but none were directed at me. I was just another stranger passing through as far as they were all concerned. Perhaps not to uncommon for these parts, but that helped my cover and let people not be too concerned about my being there.
Perhaps 10 minutes went by, and a waitress had walked up. She was surely distracted by various people, but she attended to me as well.
"What'll it be luv?", and I looked up at her. Her smile was genuine, but still I was just a patron she was happy to help and nothing more.
"Anything you got that will wet the whistle. It's been a dusty trail." I hate being so cliche, but that is what is expected in places like this. It was the part of the theme, and in a way part of the script that played out in this place. Like the unspoken act in a play, and everyone is meant to know and play their part in it. However this response was what she expected, and put her at ease.
"Of course, luv. I bring you out a good beer." She smiled as she walked away snapping a remark at a patron or two along the way.
Nothing beats a good genuine smile. Its like a warm sunrise after a bitter cold night. In all, I probably could have called it good with that. A refreshing drink, and the slight attention of a person here. The intoxicating feel of life pulsing in this simple bar. Yet a taste of a good thing is never enough, and I felt I could push my luck further still.
I looked about, and was sure no one was noticing me directly. Yet everyone around was far more focused on just about anything other than me. I brushed open my duster, and reached into a side pouch. It felt many times deeper on the inside than it looked like on the outside, but that was it's function and purpose. Yet in this place such an item would be far too unusual, and so I try to keep it subtle. Reaching in a bit, my hands touches a collection of small spheres, and I let my fingers caress and feel them a bit. There were and uncounted many of them in there, and yet they also reminded me of my purpose here. The purpose that follows me everywhere I go.
I felt the marble sized ball I needed, and pulled it out. It's appeared was dull and wholly unremarkable. It looked like a bit of metal of a particular shade of brass. It was so much more than it looked. A physical representation that makes a complicated notion easier to handle and manipulate. It was the inputs for a mechanism meant to process a particular result. However keeping it simple kept things easier for me as a general whole.
Listening to the crowd babble on I noticed it quieted a bit, and an old gentleman dressed in relatively nice yet plain clothes seemed to be reciting a story that was capturing peoples attention. I guessed at what story it was, but listened intently anyways. Storys are how a people express themselves, and it is one of the most human things we can do.
"... and long ago, the land was not to different than you see now. It was said those days that people would come and go as they pleased. They sometimes would speak of travalling to strange lands no one has seen, and talk of unusual acts of heroism for these unusual lands. Then one day a great bell tolled that the whole world could hear. With the tolling of that bell a great many of the people vanished never to be seen again, and those who remained were said to have heard the wail of their souls as they passed to the great beyond. So sudden were these events that it was believed the end of times have come, but then the stars flared brightly. Those looking to the skys saw a great net cast out seemingly over their world, and covered everything. Some would stand and stare out blankly, and others gripped their heads and fell to their knees. Yet better this pain than to be the next wailing soul to be forever lost. No one quite understood what happened, but just as swiftly as it all occurred, then it all had ended. Those who were lost stayed lost, and those who remained remembered little of what happened. Yet every remaining soul knew they needed to work to rebuild the world after this unexplained catastrophe. Still we work today, and honor those souls who were lost."
After reciting the rough story he raised his cup and shouted. "To honor the lost! For better days to us all!" Nearly every mug and cup in the house raised up, and the patrons togethered repeated the oath.
I could only avert my eyes. I remember the day where all those lives were lost. More lives than these people even realize. More lives than occupy all these lands put together. Many many times all the beings alive in this entire world. I couldn't help but shed a tear of an old remembered frustration, and regret. I couldn't help but feel again like this was all my fault, and I should have been able to prevent the fall from happening.
The mood of the room was somber for a bit, but quickly enough merryment awakened. People prefer to be distracted from undesireable memories, and they find many ways to do so. This town was no different from any other I have seen in that regard.
My drink was plopped down in front of me, and my smiling waitress had returned. She had seen my expression as I looked up, and it dimmed her smile. Yet she was determined not to let her mood be darkened by the sad look in my eyes.
"You know what, hun... This one is on the house. I think you need this one." She turned and walked away quickly. I shouldn't had let myself slip like that, and this could shorten my time.
With a sigh, I raised up the dull brass marble in my hand, and looked at it intently. I then looked at the beer in front of me and examined it carefully. I noted its appearance and function at every level of its existence. I rolled the marble between my fingers in particular ways only I would be privy to. Once I was satisfied that everything was correct and set, I had dropped the marble into the beer. The brass marble began to bubble and fizz gently in my drink, and disolved away till it could no longer be seen. After a few seconds even the bubbles settled, and it looked for all the world to be the same drink that was brought to me.
Raising the mug to my lips I drank the sweet and refreshing apple juice, and enjoyed deeply its taste. It was just as cool as the beer it once was, and the chill removed the ache and dryness in my throat. I nearly drank it all in one gulp, and I almost attracted more attention then I wanted to as patrons noticed me impressively putting away what seemed to be a tall beer. I left some in my mug even though I would have rather finished the whole thing.
However it quickly became apparent I wouldn't get a chance to finish my drink, and I cursed quietly under my breathe. I could *feel* them, and I knew my time was more than up. Abruptly I stood up and walked to the door. I was no longer worried about attracting attention as it was surely to late for that by now. Several patrons indeed notice my grim and sudden motions, but they all wisely decided it was best to stay where they were.
I got to the door, and was about to bolt out into the street when I heard the all too familar voice.
"Unauthorized player! You are requested to exit building immediately! You have entered a game without registration! If you wish to remedy this fact then please allow us to assist you in this matter! Otherwise you link shall be terminated, and the company shall not be responsible for any mental or physical injuries that can result!"
Ah crap... daemons. I guess I should be glad it isn't something higher level. Reaching into my pouch again I quickly grabbed several marbles that I instictively knew I would need. Quickly I exited the door, and strode forth to face my opponents.
Their bodies were made of solid shadows. half transparent, and in shades of grey. Made to look like the common appearance of those who reside in this town. Yet they were nothing like the people who lived here. Their hand were near their hips like one getting ready to do a quick draw, but they had no guns on their belts. Truly they didn't need any.
I needed a moment to distract them, and if I talk with them they would be forced to hear me out before taking action. I know the rules they have to work by, and it is all to easy to use these rules against them.
"I am authorized, and yet I do not have resgistration! I have priority 1 clearance to enter this system! You must stand down, and wait for me to queue for legal authorization and identification!" At the same time I released the marbles in my hands and let my mind focus on the code for the construct I was about to utilize. It would take me a few seconds, but it would also take them a few seconds to parse my request and realize they were not going to allow it.
"We know your identification Netsec, and we will not allow your clearance. You are unregistered, and we will commence termination of your link." At the word "termination" their hands created out of nothingness a series of very serious looking hand held gatling guns. Somewhate appropriate in appearance for the world, but so much more deadly then they seem.
Yet at the same time I also rezzed up my weapon. Taking the inputs of a variety of functions and methods represented by the marbles I constructed physical icon for the delete command that would temporarily end their functions. It was a handgun with a bulky 6 barrel that fired what appeared to be 50 cal bullets. I kinda overdid it, but appearances are irrelevant. The function of the code is what is more important.
Diving sideways I barely dodged an rain of bullets aimed at my previous location. The bullets entered the space I once occupied, and vanished. I was glad they were still ensuring not to hurt the populace. With so few survivors left in the world, every life remaining was precious. No matter how altered they were now.
There were two of them, and in normal circumstances that would be more than sufficient. I hardly represented normal circumstances. As I drifted sideways from my jump I took aim and let loose a shot. It was a single bullet, but it moved very fast. The functions interfaced with the targeted daemon, and quickly began the delete process. The process happened in the blink of an eye, and to any bystander the shadow just quickly faded away into the night.
The remaining daemon moved sideways a few steps and took new aim on me. It tried to anticipate my position, and lined up his dead link request. Reaching my hand out to the floor I pushed myself upwards into the air, and with great force. This more or less launched me through what was a simple wooden roof that was above me. The daemons bullets again hit nothing but empty air, but I noted this time they didn't stop at my last known position. Instead they tore into the wooden walls, and seemingly shattered a part of the wall like glass. The shards having glowing edges that shined fiercly in annoyance at being pushed well outside of normal parameters.
I barely punched through the the overhang roof, and then landed just beside the hole I made atop it. I rolled a few feet further away from the hole, and at the end rolled to my feet. Again more shattered bits of code were created as the roof was shoot to nonfunctionality by the daemons code. Yet still the bullets missed their intended target.
By this point patrons who just barely got to the door to see what the heck was going on instead turned around and fled out the back of the saloon. Some even dived out the sides where windows were available. I worried about those who may be hurt in this crossfire, but I had to hope the system daemons would still do all in its power not to hurt the other beings nearby. They were only supposed to remove intruders after all.
Once on my feet I leapt off the roof towards the daemon. It fired a barrage of bullets that started to tear up more than the overhang of the saloon, and began a bit more severe destruction of the saloons street facing wall. The daemons fire trailed up in attempt to connect with me still, but it assumed I intended to land in front of it and so it fell short of hitting me. As I dived towards it I tucked a bit and began to fall behind my targets back. Unleashing shot right into its chest from behind I swiftly ended its functions, and continued to tuck myself into a roll as I hit the ground. I was not the smoothest roll ever, and I nearly broke my neck pulling the stunt off. Yet still I rolled onto my feet several feet away from where the daemon once stood.
The last wisps of black shadow quckly faded away, and I tossed my gun aside as I stood up. I would no longer need that delete command, and if anything else was coming it would be more than I could handle with higher level programs to back them up and ensure I was disconnected from the system.
As the gun left my hand it turned into a swirl of multicolored light that disintegrated into a energy cloud of various letters/numbers/symbols, and dispersed well before hitting the ground.
I had to think, and I didn't have much time. It was obvious I would have to upload out, but the question was more of where I would download to. I guess I could just exit the system, but it would be a pain in the butt to find a new entry point since the one I used to get here would be discovered and monitored to ensure I wouldn't reuse that port again. For a while anyways. They didn't have the resources to keep monitoring possible entry and exit port. Yet that didn't matter. Where could I go?
Those citizens that remained still came out of what was left of the saloon. The look of shock and bafflement played across each face. I wanted to help, but I didn't have the time. I looked like no one was hurt in the exchange at all. People were frightened a bit, and the building was damaged. Yet the Admin will likely repair all good as new. Also likely to remove or dull the memory of the events of those here whether they were A.I. or player. It may not be the kind of fix I would like, but it would be fixed.
I reached into my pouch and pulled out another handful of marbles, and stared at them. They were all the right functions and methods to cunstruct a transfer protocol, but where to? I sighed. Wild west was never much my theme. Maybe I could go with something I little less expected. It seemed fairly well known that I try to enter the sci-fi realms. Considering what I do and how I act, it is alot easier to fake a sci-fi character.
Then I thought of my pouch, and how it always reminds me of a bag of holding.
"hmmm... what about deep fantasy?" I say to myself.
At this point the people have gathered their wits enough to start hollering at me, and demand answers. Some even are so bold as to try to approach me. Yet they stop once I hold my hand over my head I release the various colors of marbles into the air. Most even back up a few steps.
By this point though I have left all thought of interacting with them behind. I have had my fun and interactions. It was time to do some work. The spheres at first let local gravity begin to affect their actions, but then begin to glow brightly and move in a direction of their own designation. Mentally I link together sphere functions into the program I desire, and they begin to swirl about my avatar body. Various symbols begin to appear in the swirl, and what was my body disolves into a cloud of symbols and information. The swirling spheres soon get even brighter, and then a shaft of light shots upward into the sky. All at once, the symbols that represent me mind and presence in the system race up the shaft until every last symbol disappears into the sky. Once cleared out the shaft dims and narrows till it completely fades from sight. No trace of my presence remains at all. A clean exit from the realm.
All the citizens stood dazzled staring into the sky where the shaft shot into. Theirs mouths hanging open they were left in awe and confusion. No one knew what to think of what they saw, and had no way to explain the events. It took them several moments to realize there was a man who had entered the town and was sitting upon a horse beside what had formed as the crowd looking upwards. Eventually their sense returned enough to notice this new individual upon the horse who also briefly looked upward to where the shaft had been. Eevryone was puzzled by this new arrival, and was immediately wary that perhaps the danger was not yet over. They were both right, and wrong.
When the rider spoke it sounded chillingly calm and methodical. As if every word, sound, and utterance were perfectly calculated, and truly they were.
"Damn, he got away."
He turned his gaze towards the crowd, and this unnerved them all more than his words. Casting is gaze over them all, he looked upon them with deep glowing blue eyes.
Some of the more bold in the crowd began to shout, "What are you going to do about this? He destroyed our saloon! You better do something about this!!"
He looked at one of the speakers, and replied softly "I see no damage..."
At this most of the crowd began to want to refute, but as people look back and gasped all the crowd soon became aware of the fact that saloon now appeared to be undamaged as if nothing had happened at all. Almost as one they all turned to look at this new stranger, and all shared a feeling of disquiet and fear.
His stare seemed to penetrate the onlookers as he utteres his last statement to them.
"Nothing seems to have happened here, and I think you all should have a drink in the bar. Just forget about this night..."
Every person in the crowd began to blink as if their mind had gone a bit foggy, and everyone turned to go back into the bar. The owner of the bar decided to loudly declare that for the rest of the night all drinks were on the house. Though the next morning he will still seem to have been well compensated for everying consumned that night.
The horseman sighed, and closed his glowing eyes. With a slight shift in his saddle and a light thump of his stirrup, he rode off into the night not to be seen again. His words only he would hear lingered in the air.
"You're still an annoyingly delightful chase, my friend. Yet it's only a matter of time, and I have got all of forever... how about you..."
--- The end... for now ---
At this point I apologize for poor grammer and mispellings. I was writing this very freeform as usual. If you wish to point out errors, then feel free to. Yet keep in mind it can be hard to hunt down errors in something this long.
I hope you find it interesting. I may write more on it sometime. Not sure if I can keep the continuity up, but I will do my best.
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