Bucket Bros: The Carpenters of Comedy
The Dogs of the Void
Sarah opened the e-mail.
You have been invited to join a limited beta of War of Mechs!
Hmm, like a mech moba or something? thought Sarah. Sure, i'll install it, whats the worst that could happen?
As the ten gigabyte zip file installed to her pc's hard drive, she read up on the games lore on www.warofmechsgame.com.
The year is 4529. The rich have become AI, living in a virtual utopia. Egalitarian terrorists have hijacked a human-to-AI conversion center, uploaded their minds to the cloud, and taken control of vast armies of AI controlled Mechs.
The supercomputers housing the AI of the wealthy, top politicians and other elites have been mostly destroyed by "The Dogs of the Void" terror group. The rest have been driven underground, outer space, and in obscure safe houses. The White house, senate, and all other major bodies of government world wide have succumbed to the massive Mech army. The realm of politics have been turned over to the AI routines of past presidents and world leaders.
Small military outposts are all that remain of human civilization. One by one they fall, as soon as their locations are found. Humanity fights back, yet they are vastly outnumbered by the dogs of the void. The end of human life on earth seems inevitable.
Sounds real fun! thought Sarah. This game is gonna be filled with angry, horny teenage boys. I'll just put everyone on mute. I've already been trolled online enough to last a life time.
As she fired up the game, an uneasy feeling came over her. It looked like an N64 game, with lots of low poly character models, none texture mapped polygonal environments that looked sort of like Mechwarrior 2. Despite the uncanny valley effect of her squad leaders face, and the rigid animation as his hands waved around emphatically during his brave heart speech, she felt oddly immersed, giving her nostalgia for playing Mario 64 for the first time, when she was little.
Like she was stepping into another world. A real world, devoid of DLC, micro transactions, constant pleading for the insertion of more real world funds, and "50% off select skins!" messages on the main page. This combined with the free to play model made Sarah wonder how the game could make any money at all. Maybe when it comes out of beta, they'll wipe the servers and reset everyone's progress, and then insert the usual CUTCO style hard sell bullshit.
Sarah stayed up all night, enjoying herself, but also wishing the game was actually fun and not just an oddly compelling time sink like Civilization, but blander, duller, bleaker. And basically a strangely addictive deathmatch game, hearkening back to the Quake dark ages of internet multiplayer deathmatch.
As the weeks passed, Sarah became hopelessly addicted to War of Mechs. Ignoring friends and family, half assing her job at the post office, barely sleeping, eating, or dreaming. When she did dream, it was always about War of Mechs.
Explosions. Shrapnel flying everywhere. A sense that hope was already lost, that the war had been won by those on the other side. The ghosts in the machines. The Dogs of the Void.
She dreamt of shrinking ration supplies, of cafeterias that felt like they belonged in a prison. Of beds that should be in a dump somewhere. Of rumors about major military bases falling, one after the next. Rumors that the "elite military outposts" were really just abandoned shopping malls, stocked with higher quality mechs, and soldiers in the top 10% on their evaluation metrics. That these elite outposts were without walls, or bomb shelters, and that they were better mainly because they were in the middle of blown up cities, sprawls of rubble where Chicago used to be, New York, Los Angeles. Places where the Dogs of the Void had long stopped looking for signs of life, as they had been reduced to ashes and rot over a thousand years ago.
The more sleep deprived she became, the worse the hallucinations got, the harder it became to differentiate the computer game from reality, reality from her dreams.
She stopped showing up for work, and started charging her rent and bills to her credit cards. Eight months and ten thousand dollars of debt later, her life was in shambles. But she had made it to the Elite military base!
She was scoring near the top of all metrics! Shot accuracy, kills per day, covert operations, hours worked per week, psychological exams. The more she lost her mind in the real world, the saner she became in the game. Or were the psych tests in her dreams? Did computer games simulate psych tests? She couldn't remember if that was normal.
Was she still even playing War of Mechs, or had the game morphed into visual and auditory hallucinations and lucid dreams?
As she barely choked down a protein drink in real life, she imagined eating eggs and bacon and drinking orange juice. She was on pregnancy leave, after all. Four months ago, in January 7th, 4531, she had signed up for maternity leave after being artificially inseminated July 4530.
Just a small room, eight beds, some magazines for light reading, jello cups and grilled cheese for lunch. Usually frozen fish for dinner. But the breakfasts, oh the breakfasts! Like something from a farm! They were always so big and fresh. She was eating for two after all.
Sarah was on life support in the real world. But as she dreamt, half comatose, she was told that War of Mechs was not a computer game at all, it was a portal into the future! She had traveled in time! She was helping to save humanity from the Dogs of the Void!
As her vital signs reached critical in the real world, her baby was being born. She was a mother now. Her child with it's genetic pre-disposition of being a top ten percentile grade soldier was going to carry on her legacy of valor.
She had been told that once of body died in 2016, she would pass over fully into the future.
Her time of death was 2:32 am, friday october 7th, 2016.
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