A cutie with light pink hair sits in a car. It just so happens that today is nothing special and she’s stuck in traffic for who knows how long. Around her, her car is full of trinkets and cat related objects. Her car has not moved in 30 minutes. She turned it off 20 minutes ago. She does not know that a huge portion of the highway was destroyed by a small meteor. She does not know that there is a bigger meteor headed towards her in less than an hour. Right now this Cutie is waiting to get home to play the latest immersive sim, SBURB 2.0.
I wonder what her name is?
> stone cold bi-
>Pure and sweet cinnamon roll.
That’s better. But still not correct.
Gabriella Montague fidgeted with her phone. She was getting a little anxious with literally nobody moving and she even thought she saw a few people leaving. The offramp was closed and with nowhere to go, she was stuck. Carstuck if you will.
EC: That pun was horrible even for you.
I like to think that my gifts are not appreciated. Anyways, you’re being introduced so we need less Meta and more getting the hell on with things. You have a huge long journey ahead of you and I need to get through it quickly.
EC: Fine. Continue with your horrible puns.
Right, Where was I. Carstuck.
Gabriella gave a huge sigh and messaged her friend.
EC: So I think I’m going to be stuck in traffic for a while. How hard do you think it would be for me to just do the game from here? I preloaded the game on my laptop while at work but didn’t touch anything of it.
RA: gurl you can do whatever you want. I say go for it. Ur hubby has been out there pegging me left and right trying to get me to wake up poor sweet precious Allison. But he refuses to send the Beats. THE BEATS EC. I NEED MY BEATS.
EC: I regret to inform you that I also have no beats. However what I do have is concern and I wish to rectify that. What is wrong with poor sweet precious Allison?
RA: She bonked her noggin with a bowling ball. I’m at her place rn and there’s strange purple orb that just keeps flashing it’s biz at me.
RA: not that kind of flashin
EC: still I D: is she alright?
RA: yeah, there’s just some sort of magic spirit quest I gotta do for her while she’s out there in dream land.
EC: Spirit quest?
RA: Yeah, there’s like this strange card with holes and a Egg looking thing?
RA: Yeah, ur hubby keeps blathering on about cruxtroopers and popcornsprites. But gurl, i do not have a single idea of what he’s saying.
EC: oh! You gotta like put the punch card in the big thing with the platform and use a big cyllinder to cut it was some sort of station.
RA: Why is everyone speakin french i don’t know what’s going on.
EC: Find the machine that looks like a punch card would fit in and use the strange cylinder that comes from the countdown thingy.
RA: Ohhhhhh! Thanks babe.
EC: No problem love!
Her friend was in trouble and she was stuck in traffic with no way out.
She did have her laptop and a mobile hotspot.
There were things one could do.
She flipped open her laptop and activated the mobile hotspot on her phone. The server side had finished downloading while she was at work and the client side wasn’t really doing anything? It kept saying “Awaiting connection.”
The server side immediately activated as it was booted up and gave the message “Connection established.
It needed a few minutes to load.
She rolled her eyes and picked up her phone.
EC: my love!
EC: love I am connecting to you now, but i’m using my mobile hotspot.
MS: Hot shit, okay.
MS: We get a bunch of freebies but aside from that everything else costs this strange element called “Build grist” also this affects reality so don’t freak out.
EC: Oh I gathered that from what RA was saying. It appears our dear friend Allison is unconscious from a head injury.
MS: unfortunately so. I told her to use something lighter but she had already stopped looking at her messages. quick note, it appears that you need to hit the cruxtruder with something heavy to open it.
EC: That’s a strange way of activating.
MS: this appears to be a strange game.
MS: also I heard you were in great danger. Is everything alright? Can I do anything to help???
EC: Uh, not that I can see, just complete deadstop traffic for as far as the eye can see. We haven’t actually moved in about 30 minutes. Apparently the highway got destroyed up ahead and we’re all stuck here. We actually have a lot of empty cars around here.
MS: Hm. That seems to imply that the countdown on the cruxtruder is a bit of a warning. Luckily we have about 40 minutes until whatever happens happens.
MS: when allison opened the thing with the bowling ball 20 minutes ago it started a countdown. Exactly one hour.
MS: this game is all sorts of odd honey. I don’t think this is a normal game.
EC: where did alice even find this game anyways?
MS: I mean all mainstream media has covered it, but apparently it’s been in development since april of 2009. Technically, nine years old today.
EC: That’s an oddly specific way to release a game. Well either way, I’m connecting to you.
MS: I can see you’ve established a connection. You’re going to want to deploy the cruxtruder from the phrenalia Registry, the pre-punched card, the alchemiter and the punchcard station and the totem lathe? Please put them in good places, I’m not sure where they’ll fit.
EC: while you were typing away I started putting them out and there was just this nice divet where the big thing fit.
EC: I uh, blocked the door.
MS: Now I’m stuck here at home.
MS: Just kidding, I can leave through the garage at any time.
EC: yes darling?
Gabriella looked around at her house. It was perfect! All the devices fit! All those years of playing animal crossing finally paid off!
MS: You’ve blocked me in my office.
EC: Hold on, I’m about to do some extreme redecorating.
Gabriella grabbed the toilet inside the other room and made a door.
MS: Honey, we still have a house payment.
EC: Nah watch this! I can copy the doorway and move it there! I can fix this!
Her fingers soared over the keyboard and with the revise and copy feature she created a doorway from the bathroom to Xavier’s office.
MS: couldn’t you have just…. Made a door there without throwing a toilet through a wall?
MS: Okay honey.
MS: Hold on I’m getting a message from RA.
MS: Oh shit.
> be RA
Listen that’s not how this works, but I’m going to use that as a transition anyways because I don’t really want to write something a bit more full.
A girl sits in a ditch where a house just was. She’s laying on her back and is staring wide eyed at the sky with a phone on her face. Just a few seconds ago there was a house where she was standing and now there wasn’t. She was very confused. Her username is RogueAscendant, and boy does she love chill beats. I wonder what this confused girl’s name is.
>a combination of roxy and kan-
This is the last character that this is happening for. Stop that. Just stop. You don’t get to name anyone. Stop entering dumb names in a non existent prompt that doesn’t exist. Man I’m so glad I don’t have to do this anymore.
Charity Farelli was sitting in a ditch. Just a few seconds ago she was standing on a nice spiral pattern with a slightly cracked egg sitting on it. She shrugged and cracked the egg and then fell 5 feet to the ground in a hunk of dirt with Allison’s house nowhere to be seen.
She pulled up her phone and messaged Xavier.
RA: I just cracked open an egg on allison’s face, and got my ass kicked by a disappearing house.
RA: That’s all there really is to say on the matter.
Charity closed the chat window and shoved her phone in her Kiss modus, sealing a small box with a kiss. She stared at the sky for a few seconds. Her car was still parked out front but the house she was just standing in was gone. She could hardly believe it. This game seemed to be… a lot.
She started getting messages from Xavier again but she ignored them.
This was not normal for the Charity.
She picked herself up off the ground and walked towards her car. With a kiss towards a box her key fob popped out and she clicked the key inside. She placed her head down towards the horn and a loud obnoxious honk continued out for two minutes. She heard a tap at her window and she moved her head so that it was still pressing against the horn, but so that she could see the person.
They gave her a look that screamed stop but said nothing. Charity moved her head back down towards the horn and pointed towards where Allison’s house had just been moments ago.
The tapping stopped.
After 5 minutes she pulled her head up. The messages were getting more and more frequent.
She kissed another small box and her phone hit her on the head and fell to the ground.
She turned her head towards her phone and flipped it over.
A single message stuck out.
MS: Where are you? The countdown is at 32 minutes and we need to hustle.
She thought back to the countdown time in Allison’s house. It was counting down to something. But what. She pulled her head off the horn and leaned back in her seat, laying flat against her completely reclined seat.
Her eyes landed on an object in the sky.
It was getting close.
That’s what it was counting down for.
Charity began to laugh as she pulled herself up. She laughed and laughed until it was more of a shrill shriek and not really a laugh anymore.
She flopped back down on the seat and chuckled.
Her phone kept buzzing.
She finally opened the chat.
MS: where did you go?
MS: What disappearing house? I can still see her lying unconscious.
MS: you just disappeared from the house.
MS: are you still there?
MS: Charity, I’m worried about you. Are you alive?
MS: Where are you? The countdown is at 32 minutes. We need to hustle.
MS: Okay Allison woke up and she doesn’t know where you are. She never saw you.
MS: please respond. I need you in this.
RA: dude chill your shorts for a hot sec. We are all gonna dies, there’s a big ass meteor coming down.
MS: how big is it?
RA: how should I know, probably the size of jupiter or somethin, why it matter?
RA: We need to get you to wherever Allison is, she says she’s not in her neighbourhood anymore and there’s a bunch of stars.
RA: well whereever she is, her house aint where it was supposed to be.
MS: Okay. go home. And get connected to Allison. We can get you to safety.
Charity turned the key in her engine and Drove off.
Allison Wyles was unconscious. And then Allison wyles was dreaming.
It was a different dream. A far off dream that she had had so many times before. Her body felt different. Floaty even. Lighter, smaller. She was usually about 6 feet even but here she was something else. It was strange. There was a window with clouds. The clouds showed… Something? Something strange. She squinted.
Images started to make themselves out in front of her. They were short and brief. First and image of her dead on a strange black slab. An image of Charity speeding home and running into her house just as a meteor soared towards her house. She saw Xavier with twin crowbars fighting… something strange. Something ferocious but iconic. She saw a portion of highway disappear with cars falling down on fearful people. She saw a girl on a train with cards flying around her. And lastly she saw someone else. Someone familiar in a long black dress with a swirling white symbol in the center. , She wasn’t sure where she had seen her before, but it made her feel happy.
And then she woke up.
The first thing she noticed was the silence. Normally there were the sound of cars or dogs, but there was nothing. Only silence. She pulled a d20 out of her Strife specibus and gripped it in her hand. The tiny plastic die wouldn’t do much but it was a good distraction if someone jumped at her. She regretted the day she allocated that object to her strife specibus. At least she still had her other one. Rulebookkind, which could get pretty hefty when Pathfinder was involved.
She walked past the cruxtruder, the strange weird flashing seizure orb nowhere to be found.
Allison’s hand closed around the door. It was strangely cold. She turned the knob and pulled it open, Revealing a vast sprawling landscape of soft blues and greens all around her. She looked up towards the sky.
Stars littered the skies, galaxies surrounded the spot and she could see everything in crystal clear detail.
She pulled out her phone with her journal modus and sent a quick message to Xavier.
SW: I don’t know if you’re seeing what I am. But the stars are beautiful here.
MS: I can see you but the camera does not appear to be pointed up. Have you seen Charity by the way?
SW: I can’t say I have. I just barely woke up a few seconds ago. She didn’t say anything if she was in here.
MS: hm. She says she got her ass kicked by a disappearing house. She apparently got you to wherever you are right now.
SW: Well Xavier, wherever I am, it’s definitely not my neighbourhood. There’s a bunch of stars and rolling hills. It’s quite serene.
SW: hold up the weird flashing orb is doing something.
MS: Gabriella mentioned something about “prototyping it again”? Maybe throw something in there.
SW: yeah okay.
Allison put her phone back in her journal modus and walked inside, the strange orb flashing behind her through random different monsters? It was strange. She could have sworn she had seen those faces from somewhere. A book maybe?
She walked back into the house and inside her room. Whoops, guess she took her roommate’s stuff with her.
She scrunched her face up and her eye’s settled on a poster.
It was a poster that she had gotten from a road trip with a friend to see a podcast live show.
“My Brother, My brother, and me/ The adventure zone.” It depicted the brothers fishing and their dnd characters in the water.
It was special, but maybe…
She pulled the poster off the wall. And shoved it at the sprite.
It made no resistance.
Almost immediately a whirring noise of gears turning echoed through the room. Pistons sounded off in the distance and three tiny creatures spat out of the factory.
She suddenly realized where she had seen the faces from before. They were all from her Fifth edition Monster Manual. The kernelsprite was no longer an orb and now was a small factory.
The factory that had just spit out monsters.
She had created a literal monster factory.
A deep voice boomed overhead before the thought had time to sink in.
“THE MCELROY SPRITES ARE NOT EXPERTS.”
A smile started to form on Allison’s face.
“AND THEIR ADVICE SHOULD NEVER BE FOLLOWED.”
She started jumping up and down with a bit of glee.
“TRAVIS INSISTS HE’S A TRAP EXPERT, BUT IF THERE’S A DEGREE ON HIS WALL… I HAVEN’T SEEN IT”
It was almost impossible to contain her excitement.
“ALSO THIS SHOW ISN’T FOR PIXIES. WHICH I ONLY MENTION SO ALL YOU PIXIES OUT THERE KNOW HOW COOL YOU ARE FOR LISTENING. WHAT’S UP YOU COOL PIXIES!.”
She screamed with delight as the three sprites were almost perfect facsimiles of her three favorite podcasters, The Mcelroy brothers.
The black haired one moved forward with a voice as smooth as silk, “Welcome to My Skaia My skaia and me. An advice trio for the Modren era. I’m you oldest host, Justin Tyler Mcelroy”
The second taller one flew forward, “And I’m your Middlest host, Travis Patrick Mcelroy”
Lastly, a smaller one with glasses flitted forward, “And I’m your sweet baby fairy, 30 under 30 Prospit Luminary, Griffin “The Beans” Mcelroy.”
The one called justin sat on Allison’s shoulder, “Folks. Today we are here to be your personal guide to skaia, the Land of Stars and frogs and More.”
The one called travis then sat on her shoulder following suit, “However, due to the mysterious nature of SKAIA ABOVE, we must be cryptic. And only speak in riddles!”
The last one sat on her head and ruffled her rather long hair, “so like, Just know that it isn’t exactly our fault/intention if you kinda get lost. Sometimes the riddles have dumb answers that don’t make sense.”
“Anyways while we are obligated to give you a lore dump, we think that’s dumb and I think that instead we’re gonna put our own little spin on it. Hey Griffin, How about a Yahoo?” Justin said laying down on Allison’s shoulder.
“Alright this one is from yahoo answers user GhostlyTrickster, Who Asks: HEY. What that Medium do?”
“This is a wonderful question because it assumes the Medium does something, instead of just existing out there in the meatspace.” Travis said with a wry wink.
Griffin nodded at her, “That’s right, the medium isn’t actually doing something. It just is there! You’re here now on your planet that just came her as you arrived, but also, has been here the whole time! It’s like a cool paradox or something. How about a question Justin?”
“Sure. This one says, ‘Hello Brothers, I have just arrived in the medium and am on my special planet quest. And there’s this big chess board in the sky now. I am confused. Do I need to play chess? AM I playing chess? Is chess something that I need to know how to do? Help me Brothers’ and that’s from Losing cool in the Land of Heat and Clockwork.”
Allison begun to move towards her computer, she knew she needed to get Charity in the game due to the closed daisy chain. She booted up her small laptop and was about to click the server side of her client when a chilling realization hit her.
The server disc was still with her roommate on Earth. She pulled out her phone and messaged her friend Xavier.
SW: Uh hey Xavier. We have a problem of massive size.
Xavier’s Computer has Exploded.
SW: Ah shit.
Huh. you know what. That’s actually a lot better segue than I had planned and also it dresses the narrative in a way that is more narratively relevant than anything I’ve got.
We start being Xavier.
Back when his computer wasn’t exploded.
You are now Xavier.
Xavier Montague sat in his room watching Allison discover her fanciful new land and also interact with those tiny little sprites that kept flashing green spirographs while being blissfully unaware that his computer was going to explode in a short few minutes.
EC:. Okay! I think everything is out? That’s everything that we can get out except for the intellibeam laserstation.
MS: what does that do?
EC: dunno. Something about reading captchacodes.
MS: oh like the ones that are on the back of our captchalogue cards.
EC: Is THAT what those are? I never noticed.
MS: either way I need to get in the medium I guess. So. I’m ready to go?
EC: Hold up. Let me get the cruxtruder opened first so you don’t get knocked unconscious like poor sweet Allison.
MS: speaking of which she’s awake, her house is gone and she says she’s with it on this strange place with a lot of stars.
EC: huh. That’s really weird. Do you think we’re biting off more than we can chew?
MS: either way, Charity thinks we’re all gonna die if we don’t get in soon since there’s a meteor coming down towards us.
MS: honey are you there?
EC: Sorry I was looking at the meteor and also screaming. Now there are a lot of people screaming too.
MS: by my calculations we have exactly 25 minutes.
EC: that’s oddly specific.
MS: Well that’s what the cruxtruder says.
EC: Oh. So it does.
MS: and it matches up with what’s on Allison’s cruxtruder.
MS: hold on what’s this?
And then Xavier’s computer exploded jettisoning him through the door that his wife blocked with the totem lathe, sending both of them through the other side of wall.
And in a universe far off in the distance, a creature with a hat that looked like it held the cosmo’s itself cheered with victory.
He felt his consciousness fade to black.