Qayid Aljaysh Juyub
Story XXXII: The Great Game
Dat Conalf, demigod and mighty warrior lord from Nusquam, attacked the troll goblin with his magnificent two-handed sword, the Night Dragon. The muscular Nusquamnese now faced the beasts in the enchanted fortress all alone, as the remaining members of the 'Raiding Party' had already met a more or less sad end and resurrections in 'lethal dungeons' were not possible. Well, that's what happened when you went raiding with low level characters.
These 'newbees' just sucked. Magister Potteros Harry, the level 3 mage of the party, was a ridiculous wretch and blew himself and half of the party back to the real world with an accidentally shot fireball as soon as they entered the dreadful fortress. That, in order to finish off a shabby pack of Hobgoblins - it couldn't have been more pathetic!
Okay, friends, you're wondering what's going on here? We are in a not too distant future alternative, where virtual reality has evolved a lot. Instead of the VR goggles that are already common today, there are now multimedia devices tuned to brainwaves that let the player dive into virtual worlds at a low price - including an adjustable degree of pain in case of injuries or the premature death of the avatar. Somehow I'm too lazy to describe these things in detail - it doesn't matter.
But on with our dubious story. For Conalf in his glittering diamond armor, called 'the terror of Aquilonia', the Troll Goblin was no match. Our enchanted hero would normally eat such a puny level 10 underboss for breakfast. Thus, after the third round, the 'Night Dragon' cleanly disintegrated the grunting Troll Goblin - in slow motion and true to detail as a special treat for the gamer. As preset in the game options, a moderate endorphin rush flowed through the mighty monster slayer.
The 'Paystation 08/15 NG' already offered the user some features, but that was nothing compared to the deluxe version 'Greenwash Light Warrior' made of climate-neutral high-tech components with which one could even have phenomenal sex with other players or NPC's, but that marvel of technology, as is well known, could only be afforded by the really wealthy or, of course at state expense, eco-functionaries 'of the party' and our hero was just a small state employee with medium income.
The virtual warlord and real-world apparatchik now set about looting the corpse of the downed enemy. Since it unfortunately only consisted of digital parts, a veritable bloodstained loot bag could be found instead - it was easier for the 08/15 to program than to distribute all the junk in the room. Besides all kinds of healing and magic potions, there was a no-name longsword+2 and a potency potion+5 along with a fluted condom with a gold edge, although the last two items were intended for the lucky owners of a 'Greenwash Light Warrior'. Now don't ask me what one should actually do with a condom in a 'sentient' but virtual world, since even the most gifted software developers in this universe didn't come up with digital STDs, but as a slightly rotten role-playing grandpa, the author already found the most curious items during the previously described process.
The mighty warrior, whose physique made even the incredible Hulk seem like a lanky fellow, emitted a triumphant laugh in his manly, melodious voice. Now it wasn't far to the first boss, a living corpse with magical abilities named Lemal Trivial. The evil finger probably intended to contaminate the world with the help of magically generated atomic power and to overthrow his lasting holiness, the saint-like druid of Tingeltangel. Besides, probably that unspeakable creature of the night, the incarnation of all ever lived light figures, planned to infect the childlike empress Gretel*i_n with a terribly coronigenous death virus from his plague laboratories. On top of that, the guy smoked, too, although that probably wouldn't be all that harmful to an undead.
Dat Conalf walked with a determined step towards the Ishtar Gate-like exit of the dungeon, relying on his powerful magical amulet representing Saint Haraldus -patron saint of all alcoholics- anointed with noble whiskey by the great prophet Jürgenos of Horsteria, before any possible traps. Thus protected and self-assured, our proud warrior passed through the gate to witness the virtual world suddenly disintegrate into its component parts.
The first thing that Citizen_in - recently the official name for the inhabitants of the Absurdist Democratic Republic - Sus Pauperem alias Dat Conalf saw after his rude awakening from the virtual wonder world and the removal of the mobile paystation was the large mold stain on his ceiling. Although he regularly scraped away the harmful fungi, the permanently damp spot allowed them to sprout regularly. Since his 35-square-meter apartment belonged to the state as part of the big real estate deal, his horrendous rent had nevertheless kept increasing, but the once already rudimentary service and maintenance measures had now been dropped altogether, and the already dilapidated building fabric was allowed to continue to deteriorate blithely. Nevertheless, the small official at the 'Authority for Combating Hate Crime and Subversive Opinions' could consider himself lucky to have received his flophouse with running water from the walls at all by means of a 'certificate of entitlement for system-relevant citizens 3rd class', since the majority of the population now had to live in worse hovels.
Although rather puny built, the small apparatchik raised his untrained, rather corpulent body from the worn armchair, which belonged to the run-down sparse interior of his chamber, to check the fuse box. In the first moment after the virtual Armageddon, our good little citizen suspected that he had simply been kicked off the net or that the server of the MMORPG 'World of Fakecraft' (WOF) had once again collapsed. However, when the virtual warlord and real-world servant noticed the total failure of his beloved Paystation, Sus was overcome by a bad premonition. Our petite bourgeois stubbornly hoped that the slightly life-threatening fuses would blow out, but unfortunately the gods and the 'Federal Office for Climate Neutral and Gender Equitable Energy Allocation' didn't mean it so well with him. There were no abnormalities in the distribution box and a start-up of the government-imposed televisor failed for lack of power. Not that the latter action was a great loss, although our good citizen, in accordance with the 'Good News Law', tuned in every evening to the five-hour newsreel of the state TV; however, even the subserviently propaganda-educated official sometimes found the debility-price-worthy residual program too annoying.
Sus Pauperem sighed resignedly, obviously one had taken once again the quarter from the power supply system for lack of energy. Well, one had to expect that at this time of year, which was actually too cool and rainy. Since a climatically wise government took all conventional power plants out of operation a few years ago, only renewable energies remained, and in the meantime foreign countries were no longer selling coal and nuclear power so generously to the energy barons of Absurdistan. However, there hadn't been so many shutdowns in such a short period of time since the third climate lockdown and the hunger riots. As a precaution, even the elections for the Absurdistan National Assembly had been postponed to sunnier seasons. Of course, since the verdict of the politically well-favored Constitutional Court 'for the protection of climate-neutral sinecures of future oligarch descendants', the electorate was not entitled to have a say in the composition of the parliament in any way, since through various quota regulations and heritability of deputy seats that was fixed anyway, but with regard to the identification of any kind of dissidents (='right-wing scatterbrains', 'climate deniers'...etc...), the election theater was of inestimable value. Since the law on the 'gender-equal steering of democracy', every inhabitant had only to vote via internet in irregular intervals whether he or she agreed with the current policy, stating his or her personal data. Of course, the official results always showed a 99.9% approval rating, but state security and our apparatchik's employer regularly had plenty of work to do to bring the incorrigible, democratically subversive elements to heel. That it nevertheless actually still this kind of thought terrorists, who propagated the climate-sinful thought of liberty, although one furnished recently even lasting internment camps for these humanity criminals, remained for the proudly humble subject Sus Pauperem an unsolved mystery.
After this visionary excursion into a stolen future, we turn back to our history, although I can think of a few more things to say about the Trojan eco-ash of totalitarian minds. Like many in the privileged civil service class and top earners in the remnants of the private economy, our Sus Pauperem - a hint, dat is Latin - had a large accumulator for such unfortunate cases. Of course, the accumulator 'Wuhan Pride', which was manufactured in China by industrious, lawless workers, was a standard model with a limited runtime, which even the lower functionary aristocracy with its rather limited means could afford. This option, however, was only available to civil servants because they were largely exempt from income tax and other levies, which amounted to a whopping 75% of gross income for the working rest.
Full of pride in his privileges, the subaltern civil servant activated the emergency generator, thinking with false pity of those who now had to unpack spirit stoves and candles. Sus thanked the climate god that there was still sunlight for at least a few hours that afternoon and that he would not need his EU-funny lighting until later. Nevertheless, the circumstances required some reflection, which our well-behaved good citizen sweetened with the enjoyment of a vegetable meat substitute, at times thinking maliciously of the majority of the population, whose state-produced poverty forced the unfortunates to make do with delicious insect-based dishes. Since in the meantime the absurdistani agriculture was permanently ruined by all kinds of laws and regulations of ministerial luminaries, one was forced to import food on a large scale. In addition, energy taxes disguised as environmentally friendly price increases made food even more expensive, so that the cost of living literally exploded; in contrast, prices for consumer electronics remained relatively stable. Since religion and climate belief, as opium for the people, only reached some of them, a means was finally needed to befuddle the senses of the rest.
Okay, as a loyal subject Pauperem could badly leave the Televisor switched off during the newsreel, although he could not follow many things despite the simply one-sided contents and used, simple language by the gendering practiced there. As much as he would have liked to escape back into the illusory world of his Paystation, reason told him that the power cut could last for days and that the battery would only supply energy for 24 hours at most with moderate utilization. Oh, how the little apparatchik would have loved to be a functionary in the higher service from ecologically valuable relationship cultivation! They had at their disposal, at state expense, noble high-performance accumulators and even food rations made of real meat, not to mention the fact that they received many times his salary and were allowed to live in fancy single-family houses, which by law were not available to ordinary mortals for 'climate protection reasons'. He did not dare to think of the Olympus of the leading elite of the economic-political-media complex, since in these times the only qualification for belonging to the ruling class was birth in the right family. As usual, the colorfully painted noblesse led a great life without restrictions in luxury. Because remember: Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi! And a wine-drinking authority, according to the statement of the powerful and their sycophants, did not counteract the correctness of the ascetic water sermons for the lowly subjects.
The ringtone of his smartphone jolted Sus Pauperem out of his envious sweet reverie. Annoyed at first, but then anxious after identifying the sender of the text message, our petite bourgeois registered the message that 'Potteros Harry' had sent him. In the real world, after all, the incompetent magician was Pauperem's boss and belonged to that aforementioned noble class of privileged expense knights who had a high-powered battery. Since, thanks to modified 'labor protection laws', the little civil servant found himself in a certain existential dependency -vacation days, suspension of civil servant status ...etc...- to his superior, he had to show a certain diplomatic concession to his role-playing enthusiastic executive in the virtual world as well. The ornament of all upscale armchair farting sorcerer's apprentices with a penchant for incompetence -any health ministers may not feel offended!- asked his lackey to participate in a WOF raid against the climate-denying Prince Cretinissimus with his alter ego after all. Normally, the experienced gamer would have cancelled, since the dungeon, in which the completely dumb aristocrat resided along with dumber monsters, was definitely no challenge even for beginners. However, for the reasons described above, Sus could not refuse his superior, whose professional qualifications resembled the cognitive abilities of the virtual prince. So our Sus Pauperem reluctantly connected the paystation to the emergency generator and put it into operation in order to lead a humane existence at least in the virtual world of illusions.
Disappointed, friends? I can understand that, but it's getting too depressing for me, since there is no small probability of this dystopia occurring.
© 2021 Q.A. Juyub
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