Level Two, Part 2

Ace stared in wonder at the complexity of what she was seeing. The linear maze of the standard Raid sim had been replaced with three dimensions of twisting passages. As she watched, the tunnels drifted, suggesting there may also be a fourth. Possibly more.

“You built this thing?” Zee asked. He sounded more amazed than skeptical, but there was some of both.

“I helped architect it,” Dee replied. Her avatar was running back and forth across the various entrances casting… something. “I was not part of the final design team. That was reserved for – for people of higher status.”

“So what do we do now?” Gee asked. “I don’t see any mobs or rogers. Any bonus spawns. Really, it barely looks like a Raid at all.”

“It’s deceptive,” Dee said. “We’re not actively against security yet. It’s evaluating us. Watching our actions and interactions. Learning before we even start.”

“That hardly seems fair,” Zee said. He threw an LOL emote.

“It wasn’t designed to be,” Dee said. She still never picked up on sarcasm. “It was intended to be the ultimate defense against Raiders. My… boss wanted something that the CSO would drool over. Something they’d write a blank check for.”

“So what happened?” Ace asked. “Why didn’t he sell it to them? Why are Raids even around anymore, if this thing exists?”

“He grew obsessed with perfecting it,” Dee said. “He was advancing in age and I think his mind may have been going. This project became everything. Days would pass without sleeping, just to tweak some small parameter. Every fragment of information he gathered about the Raid sim and its users went into building it. But he was never satisfied. And then he died.”

Gee whistled. “I almost feel bad,” he said. “Except for the part where he was part of the corrupt establishment who was working to take even more away from the people.”

“Sounds like we have a hell of a ride ahead,” Zee said. “But it’s still just a Raid. A game. What’s the worst that could happen?”

It was several moments before Dee replied. “If we take too long – or, perhaps, if we fail in the wrong place – I will die.”

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