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Posts Tagged ‘nanotechnology’

Rod Serling

 

Let me set the scene for you. The time is a weekend thirty years in the future. The place is a locale sarcastically known by its denizens as Happy Acres Cyber Warfare and Retirement Home, and more affectionately termed The Dungeon. As this distant Friday fades to dusk, five people gather around a table in the rarely used conference room of said home. With them are a library’s worth of books, a Vegas casino’s allotment of dice, gallons of Mountain Dew, and seemingly every bag of Cheetos in the county. Welcome to the quarterly meeting of the White Walkers, an aged group of longtime frenemies who come together to solve the world’s greatest problems, while killing orcs, and killing time.

After all, time is the greatest enemy…

 

“…I told you I’d be playing Rolo again.”

The group groaned as one, eyes rolling.

“Jesus H. Christ, Marcus. You’ve been playing that bastard hafling for sixty years.” Ellie was slouched behind a cardboard screen of charts and tables surrounded by a faded border of formerly colorful monsters. Her pale blue gaze peered at the offender through holographic readers. Modern medicine had rendered her eyes perfectly fine, but theatrics called for glasses. “What is he now, 100th level?”

“112.” Marcus’ riposte was prideful. He appeared a hulking brute of a man, still trim and agile thanks to nanotechnology, but – unlike his friends – his thick pate of hair and beard a shocking white. “He still has some things he can do.”

“Yeah, there’s gotta be at least one dragon’s hoard he hasn’t pilfered yet.” This from a rail thin blonde across the table. Barely half Marcus’ size, Esteban could hold his own in any company just by the wicked glint in his eyes and the ever-present smile on his face.

“Says the assassin with a river of dead bodies behind him,” smirked Maisie. Even at her advanced age, her chocolate brown skin barely carried a wrinkle, while her natural hair fluffed around her head with only a teasing of grey.

“Hey, I never killed anyone outside of a contract unless it was self-defense.”

“Starting a bar fight doesn’t count as self-defense.” The final member of the group – a pale Asian with a spiked mohawk dyed bright pink, and gold-glitter eyelashes – looked up from one of their rulebooks. “And neither does running into a crowd screaming ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ and then changing your mind.”

“You wanted a diversion – you got a diversion.”

“Oh, please. How many times do we have to relive that one?” groaned Marcus.

Gold lashes fluttered. “As many as it takes, sweetheart. Elves don’t get resurrected. We had twenty years invested in that …”

“…beautiful bastard and you killed them,” the group finished in exaggerated unison. Artificially bright green eyes narrowed at them in annoyance.

“Kim, we’re moving on,” sighed Ellie. “Why don’t you join us? It’s not like the next character wasn’t just a name change on the first.”

“It’s the principle, dear. We had to start from scratch.”

Maisie smacked her hand flat onto the table, jostling dice. “That’s a fantastic idea. We all start from scratch.”

“What? Wait…” The flash of bewilderment faded from Marcus’ face. “You mean, roll up totally new characters?”

“Shit, we haven’t done that in decades,” mused Esteban. “I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore.”

“Yes, you do,” declared Ellie. She leaned back in her hover chair and released a sinister grin. “And furthermore, it must be a character race and class you’ve never played before. Under first edition rules.”

“FIRST edition?” Kim’s mohawk waved with the shake of their head. “My, aren’t we showing our age…”

“Don’t play that card, dear. I see your first edition books in that stack of yours.” Ellie gestured with a well-manicured hand. Kim’s lips tightened and they made a dramatic effort of looking away.

“Well, if we’re going to do this, we need some proper music,” declared Esteban. He called up a holoscreen from the watch on his wrist. “What’ll it be?”

“Led Zeppelin,” from Marcus.

“Aerosmith,” stated Maisie.

“The Monkees,” muttered Ellie. To which her companions laughed. She scowled at them.

“There is only one choice, my friends, for such a glorious new beginning,” began Kim, and they looked tellingly around the circle. “David Bowie, who constantly remade himself as we now do.”

“That’s the problem,” frowned Esteban. “Which version of Bowie do you want? Ziggy? Thin White Duke? Big 80’s Hair? Jareth the Goblin King? Tin Man? Sinister grunge?…”

“Ziggy, of course.” Kim sighed. “That’s like asking which group is better: The Beatles or the Rolling Stones.”

“Stones.” From Marcus.

“Beatles.” From Maisie.

“Hey,” Esteban broke in before the age-old fight continued. “Did you see that Keith Richards is doing another tour? He’ll be using holographic substitutes for Mick and the rest.”

“That man definitely made a deal with the devil,” Maisie shook her head knowingly, and reached for pencil and paper.

“The one on Capitol Hill, or the real one?” Ellie rifled through her stack of books.

“Aren’t they one and the same?” Digging through a large Royal Crown bag of dice, Marcus triumphantly pulled out a badly beaten plastic D20 with no discernible numbers on its face. “Hah! Found my lucky one on the first try!”

“Depends on whose side is talking,” Esteban commented, scrolling through the selections on his holoscreen. “There’s always at least half the country that thinks so.”

“What happened to our politics-free zone?” Kim huffed. “I get enough of that with the grandkids.”

“Mine still can’t get why we do this in person.” Marcus sighed. “Everything’s holo-conferenced now, and computer-supported. They don’t have to leave the house for school like we did. They don’t even have to write. Or read, for fuck’s sake.”

“Good for them,” nodded Kim. “They won’t have to suffer the bullying that we did.”

Esteban raised a dubious eyebrow at them. “Have you been on TwitFace lately?”

“I thought we met in person because Big Brother couldn’t listen in on our grand plans to overthrow the government.” Maisie’s dark eyes glanced over her companions. “You did all leave your syncs in the Faraday cage, right?”

While the others nodded, Ellie’s expression faded into a guilty smile. Maisie stared at her in disbelief.

“You didn’t!” she gasped.

Ellie shrugged apologetically. “You know I’m a tech geek. Now that they’ve got the bugs worked out, I don’t have to worry about headaches from the implant anymore.”

“No headaches, but no freedom anymore, either.” From Esteban.

“You can turn off the GPS function.”

“And they can turn it back on without you knowing it,” Marcus worried. “Jeez, Ellie. You were the last person I expected to do that.”

“It’s okay, hon.” Kim waved a magnanimous hand. “I’ll make sure you’re exempt from the listening rotations.”

“So I guess there’s still some things the President can do?” snorted Esteban.

“Some.” A wry smile played across Kim’s thin, pink lips. “I’m living proof that resistance is NOT futile.”

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