Helping Out

Jet resisted the urge to crank up the speaker volume. This room was supposed to be secured, but he’d still rather not be heard in the hallway. The problem was Hellard. Who knew someone that small could snore so loud?

He cracked his knuckles and ran through a few old finger exercises. The UI was unfamiliar, but not radically different from the standard Raid sim. No issues figuring it out on the fly. The stranger part was the environment. Abstract, colors everywhere. Twisting passages. Nothing like the classic dungeon crawl motif he was used to.

“Hello?” he said. “Anyone here?” He had also expected there to be something of urgency going on. Or at least maybe Dee being here to give him something to work off of? Here he was, all worked up and just waiting.

“Standby for teleport,” the Sim Announcer said. Oh, good. Something was happening. There was a brief flash across the screen and his avatar was in a new place. A stone hallway – much more familiar. And his old crew was here! Plus a newcomer. A woman decked out in fancy robes.

“J-33 signing in,” he said, grinning. “It’s been a while.”

“Um,” Zee said. “Good to see you man. But why are you here?” His avatar had upgraded a lot. All the graphics had, really. But he was still old, familiar Z-76, in his carefully reconstructed samurai garb.

“Dee asked for help,” Jet replied. “So I came running. Though… I fail to see why you need it. It looks dead in here.” Seriously, where was the fire?

“I did not ask for you,” said the stranger. Jet guessed it was Dee’s avatar. Surprisingly aesthetic, considering her origins. She could have a second job as an art modeler if she wanted.

A chill ran down Jet’s spine as a sepulcher voice echoed down the hall. “I did,” it said.

BLAM.

Jet literally jumped out of his seat. Someone was pounding on the panic wall.The metal plate had slammed down when the power went out. Maybe Dee’s doing. Maybe just protocol. It sounded like someone was not happy it was there. All bets on the CSO.

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