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Which character/creature would you like to see art of next?

Mikey 0.14705882352941 14.7% [ 5 ]
John 0.14705882352941 14.7% [ 5 ]
Fluffs (post which one) 0.23529411764706 23.5% [ 8 ]
Father Garghoul 0.088235294117647 8.8% [ 3 ]
Malevobear 0.29411764705882 29.4% [ 10 ]
Other: Please post 0.088235294117647 8.8% [ 3 ]
Total Votes:[ 34 ]
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Berryfarmer's avatar

Winged Abomination

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For everyone who continues to read and hope and carry on the spirit of zOMG!

Chapter 24: The Longest March

Another shudder rocks this world. It seems that as our deadline approaches the entire virtual world moves closer to collapsing. I wonder if it will stay together long enough to stop The Phantom. We’ve spent the last few days marching across the wastes to Deadman’s Shadow. Despite protests for a slower pace, Mikey and Henry drive us onward; they both claim that we have to reach the caves with at least a few days left.

Even on the more talkative parts of the day Mikey keeps to himself, like he’s pulling away from everyone, lost in his own thoughts. John tries to liven the mood by sharing stories about how they planned various things and had to put some concepts away for a chapter three. Kerri lectures about badge hunting. Penelope drones on about how we should all have a day at the Florida beaches once we get home. Henry talks about a pizza place he loved and how he’ll get the food for the beach outing. Kimberly, she tries to understand all the jokes and stories we tell, I almost wish that she could come home with us. As for me, I’m the kid of the team; I really don’t have many stories that don’t involve me being bullied. See I’m a child genius or something like that. At fourteen years old I’m the youngest kid in the junior class of the high school I attend, and the other kids seem eager to remind me of that.

I figured it’s about time I started keeping a log of my take on things so here it is. Since I keep it safe, I figure I should use the tablet the Aekeans gave us to record it on. I just don’t know where to begin my story. I mean I know I’m smart it’s just between Mikey and Kimberly and John, I feel overshadowed. I’ve heard some of the stories Mikey’s told us about his life and I wonder, if I had to go through that, would I turn out as good a man as he has? I troll people, don’t get me wrong, but in the end I want to become the best man I can be, and I’ve got some big figures casting shadows. But that decision, I made that decision one fateful day two years ago. I guess that’s where I should start my story.

My father and I were taking a road trip a couple years back. And we stopped to gas up the car and get some snacks at a gas station at a city along our route. I wish I remembered the where; I wanted to go back someday. My dad and I were in line to pay for our stuff when a guy pulled a gun on the clerk. There was a woman and a guy in one of the aisles that acted so calm and collected. They both tried to talk the robber down, tried to convince him the money wasn’t worth it. But the robber, he claimed he needed the money to feed his kids.

“Look you don’t want to do that.” I can remember her voice so clearly, it was soft and soothing. She said that when the robber pointed the gun at my father and I. I remember being absolutely terrified, I couldn’t move or speak. I just was there, useless.

“I can’t, my kids need food and nobody will help us.” The robber’s voice was so rough and jagged. But I’ll never forgot the look in his eyes when he saw my dad and I. He was terrified.

“Please, it’s not too late for you or them. Here,” the man with the woman handed the robber a twenty. And the robber looked confused. He trembled a bit. And the clerk was terrified. I only found out afterwards that the drawer only had about five dollars in it. Then there were the sirens, the robber panicked as he heard them coming closer and looked like he was going to pull the trigger.

“No don’t.” I remember the woman’s wavy brown hair as she moved in front of my dad and I. Then the bang and flash of light. The robber ran, but he’d shot the woman in the chest, a shot meant for me. I remember hearing the yells of her partner. I watched as he held her in his arms, her blood was beginning to soak over him. His pain, I don’t know how anyone could feel that and keep going.

That was the day I decided I wanted to do something with my life to bring happiness to others; to do something that would not let her sacrifice be in vain. Since that day, I’ve tried to be the best person I could be. And yes sometimes I do troll people, but only those who deserve to be trolled. That’s why I’ve always tried to be the smartest. By knowing the most information, I would have the most ability to find what makes others happy. But I don’t know any more. Being with the others, I’ve begun to wonder if knowledge alone is enough. Maybe there’s something more, like the spirit and will behind it. Or the experience in how to use that knowledge? Mikey treats me like a little brother, says he sees a lot of himself when he was younger in me. But when I shared that story with the others, he seemed the most affected by it.

We had decided one night before sleeping to share what kept us fighting. Why we continued to push through the odds. It was Mikey’s idea, he said it would give us the focus we needed if we kept what why we were fighting in mind. His arm pulsed a faint crimson as he told us his reason for continuing on was atonement for his past, that if he could give hope to the future by his actions he would see his life as having meaning. I personally think that’s a bullshit story he’s telling us with that reason. Or he really is so haunted by his past that he thinks dying here would be better than living in the real world with those memories.

Penelope said something about this world, and the adventure it has spawned making her grow up, and the hope it could help others do the same. I don’t doubt that, given the spoiled princess she was before. But could a game really make people mature? It’s possible given the social aspect of zOMG!, but isn’t that true of just about any MMO? What makes this one so different?

Henry also had some story about growing up and finally realizing what it means to be a good man. He said, “The responsibility it has forced upon us with looking beyond our own desires has made me realize something. The people in my life I believed to be good weren’t good because they thought only of the present or their ambitions. They believed and strove to make things better for those around them. I understand that now, and I do want to make sure there’s more than just a hope for those people we’re fighting to protect. Does that make me a good person?” This Henry, he’s not the same guy from those weeks ago in Village Greens, he’s different. Maybe, even if he isn’t right about what makes good people, just believing in it has made him good.

Then there was Kerri who spoke about proving to herself that she could be more than just a badge hunting, socially awkward basement dweller. She talked about how she used to be terrified whenever she would read fantasy stories like the one we’ve found ourselves in, but now she knows she has it in herself to rise to the occasion and put aside her childish ways. She does seem to be more confident in herself now; maybe just the exposure to someone like Mikey has done it. The dude does seem to have a confidence that borders on arrogance. And it seems to have rubbed off on each of them.

When John spoke, he talked about cleaning up a mess that he and the other developers created. He said he was sorry for as many people that have been forced to get involved had. He looked sad about that when he said it. I still believe he misses his wife and worries that the worst has happened and she’s beyond saving. I can’t blame him, given he has a family to look after. I can’t imagine the pain and sorrow he must have felt when we had to put down the monster she and some other people, I’d honestly never heard of until this adventure, had become. They were family friends to him from what I gathered. John probably has a great deal of personal strength to have not broken down from that, I know I would have.

Kimberly, still getting used to calling KJ that, said she fights for hope. Our opposition to The Phantom has rekindled a hope in her that humans are capable of solving any problem with enough effort, including the problem of The Void that will affect any animated and NPC with chapter two’s release. “Your tenacity, your unwillingness to surrender, you’ve brought hope and inspiration to those here that believed in humans. And in the resting hours we’ve had, even during this ordeal, I’ve seen at least three promising ideas from just you six to solve our problems.” I guess she’s referring to some of the brain and program models Mikey and I have put together. We can’t really test them in this environment but this is just a teenager and underemployed engineer thinking and working. I can only imagine if we got experts in the fields of programming and biology working on this. Maybe she’s right about the human spirit’s drive to overcome problems with determination.

But what story did I have to tell? I’ve given up some of the troll I used to be, but what other growth have I had? I couldn’t even answer what I fight for. I’m the youngest one here; maybe I fight to prove I’m just as grown up as anyone else here? John suggested that what I fight for is probably the sense of right and wrong. He said, “I know before you used to troll people that were not keeping with a sense of morals you have. Like you would troll someone who was insulting other people or someone with an overinflated ego, and even some people that just pissed you off. That’s why I think you fight for your sense of right and wrong.” Henry smirked and nodded in agreement to that. Mikey suggested it was probably the most pure of intent reason any of us had. Kerri and Penelope both dubbed me the “Noblest of Trolls” as they giggled. Are they right about me? Is my motivation some sense of duty and right and wrong? I believe that there are problems in the world that need order to solve, but brainwashing and rewiring people to compliant zombies is not a method I can support. It takes away peoples’ free-will; it takes away the one thing that makes us fundamentally human.

I wonder about how I’ve grown. To myself I still appear that naïve know-it-all that can’t help but flaunt their intelligence. But how do they see me? I know Mikey said I remind him of his younger self, does that mean I’ll follow in his personality? No, I don’t think I could even if I wanted to; there have been events in his life, that I could never experience, that have molded him to what he is. Henry said I’m the typical nerd: socially awkward, big brained, but good hearted. Penelope and Kerri both have said I have the makings to grow into a good man. John just says I’m getting “there,” whatever there is. And Kimberly just asks me a bunch of questions about how and why humans grow up, she’s been very curious about humans the entire adventure. I would have thought if she was originally intended to put us down that she would have more information about her targets. That would be a glaring oversight in my opinion, something that were I an evil villain I would ensure to correct.

That makes me wonder though… Does The Phantom really want to be stopped? I mean he’s let us wander through here virtually unchallenged, when he probably could have crushed us at any point. And yet we’re still here. Maybe he wanted to draw attention, I mean he is an AI that was originally tasked with defending this world, and perhaps his method of protecting this world from an apparent “Void collapse” is to do something that humans can’t ignore. We have seen in the past that the people in charge of this site don’t act unless a situation becomes a near emergency; I have to assume he knows this too and is using that information to create a best possible plan for how to achieve his programmed goals. If that is the case, can I really blame him for what he’s doing? I don’t think I should continue along this thought process, I could start to feel too much sympathy for The Phantom and not be able to fight when we finally do reach him. No, if his plan was simply to create an emergency, I don’t believe he would need to cause so much destruction and death and pain, there had to be better ways to achieve his end without doing all this. Right?

I’m actually curious about the Anari; I’m told they were created when stray data fragments interacted with the initial interface data of some of the developers. How did such a random concoction create fully functional beings capable of flinging around elemental energy? Miles has been intrigued by my curiosity and has endeavored to answer as many questions as he can. He and McCoy seem to be the most down to earth of the six, they’re never afraid to answer questions or talk to us. McCoy even seems to have taken a shining to Mikey, and Miles to me. Hoshi seems the most anti-human, anti-socialize of them. She’s always so combative and suspicious whenever she’s asked a question. Like she’s giving up some big secret to even mutter a word to us, but she does get along alright with Henry. In fact, he’s the only one she talks to without being suspicious. Then there’s the enigmatic Sisko; an Anari of few words, but his words do tend to convey a dark sense of humor. He talks mainly with Penelope, and she’s always poking fun at his always smiling face. Deanna and Kerri are practically inseparable when they get to talking. She seems to be the kindly maternal type of figure, it’s her voice and Kimberly’s that tends to reach Mikey on this march when we get tired and need a break. Archer, he’s a bit of a hot head, but he means well. He keeps to John, and John is pretty good at keeping him calm. Maybe it’s because Earth and Stone are so close on this element stuff that they’re practically brothers? It doesn’t surprise me that they believe in humans so strongly; they seem to exemplify some of the better aspects of humanity.

I’m worried though, I’ve never been to Deadman’s Shadow. Mikey and Henry apparently have the most experience with it, and John has nightmares of programming the place. I’ve been asking a ton of questions… And while they’ve been good at teaching me the methods that worked in the past, Mikey believes that given the situation and where we’ll end up we need to revise the strategy to allow for seven generalist builds. They say because I’ve never been they can’t use something called the “Domo Door,” apparently it’s a shortcut that can drastically reduce the time needed. I feel like such an anchor now. We have to take more time because I never bothered to try the place out before it got pulled in preparation for chapter two. Mikey says it’s fine, but I can see him checking a watch every few hours or every time there’s a tremor.

Well, guess I better finish up this journal for now. We’ve arrived at the northern gate into the shadows. But we’re waiting until morning before venturing in. Making sure everyone is rested and such. The place looks spooky, but I hear the worst to expect is Night Frights and powerful vampires called Counts. Here’s hoping we make it through this.
anguls kushinoda's avatar

Shadowy Shapeshifter

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nice way of doing the story -mew
Berryfarmer's avatar

Winged Abomination

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So some questions to everyone reading:

What do you believe each of the characters fights for?
I want to see your interpretations, so list the character and what you believe their reason for coming so far is.

If you found yourself in the zOMC world, what would you be fighting for?
Mage The Red's avatar

Shadowy Demon

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Berryfarmer
To start, I love the way you wrote Jeremy's journal. Really kinda reminds me of myself, aside from being a genius. rofl

I think, honestly, that Jeremy's fighting for a way to make everyone happy. To protect everyone, and to be strong/smart enough to defend his loved ones in any situation. The strength to be the shield that everyone needs. Not the sense of right and wrong. At least, that's what I think.

If I were truly in the story myself, I think I'd fight for the same reason. If not to be the most versatile crewmate I could be.
Stop posting things while I'm trying to sleep, it makes me stay up longer to read them. neutral

I think you already know I'd be fighting for my friends. (My dialogue wouldn't be so cheesy and artificial though. Not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that stuff.) What I don't think I've mentioned is that I'd also be fighting to prove myself -- as a competent player, teammate, and human being in general, both to myself and to others around me.

Also, this
Quote:
Then there was Kerri who spoke about proving to herself that she could be more than just a badge hunting, socially awkward basement dweller. She talked about how she used to be terrified whenever she would read fantasy stories like the one we’ve found ourselves in, but now she knows she has it in herself to rise to the occasion and put aside her childish ways.

really spoke to me (?). I'm not sure why my browser is highlighting "we've" as a spelling error, but I'm not exactly the sort who'd do too well if plunged into an adventure story. But as I said in one of the above-linked posts, I do like to think I'd grow into it...
Might I make a suggestion? (I've had this in my head for a while, but been too lazy to put it into words...noticed it's been almost 3 months though, so figured I should get it in gear already.) I want to advise against changing too many things mid-story due to changes in real-life events. Incorporating Kamila and DMS worked, but things such as people changing their usernames, avatars, even interpersonal connections such as jobs and relationships...I think that should be left alone and written "as was" to avoid getting too tangled up in drifting details. It's already an AU anyway. I admit to being in denial of this for a long time because, well...full-immersion virtual reality by 2015? Sign me up! ...But it's 2014 now, so I've gone ahead and accepted it. xp So I don't think it would be jarring to take a snapshot of the way things were when the story was started and work from that instead of trying to keep up with little things that don't affect the plot.
Berryfarmer's avatar

Winged Abomination

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LabTech Kestin
sad ?

It's been a combination of writer's block, family commitments, and some health issues I've been dealing with. I've got maybe a third or fourth of the next two chapters written. After those two, it will mostly be typing what I've written down for the endgame chapters.

I've been haunted by a disjointed and eerie song whenever I sit down to write, so I've also been trying to track down what the song is.

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