Here at the End

Ace hadn’t spent much time thinking about what the Raid sim was under the hood. Even after Dee explained its purpose it still felt abstract. Distant. It was still the game she’d been playing for years, right?

But she was helpless. Her teammates had gone down, one by one. Dee was the only one left standing, fighting like a frenzied whirlwind. It was obvious she’d been holding back in the past. Trying to pass as human. Now she fought with her own existence on the line. Her life, if the term applied.

So Ace wondered what this all represented. The flashy effects, the combats, the health points, the magic. It all represented something infinitely more complex. A struggle over system resources and accesses that was way over her head. She’d never even taken a programming class. Maybe Dee understood it better. Her purpose had been to study the Raid sim, after all. She had to know more than Ace.

Which also meant she knew why she was losing. Knew the futility of these last few minutes of struggle against the waves of minions dragging at her from every corner. Even a verse slot couldn’t stand on their own forever.

With no time to rez, there was nothing more any of them could do to help. Ace would be just as helpful logging off and crashing into bed where she belonged. Everyone else might as well. But even Gee was still logged in and he hated being out of the action.

Here at the end, though, she felt that Dee needed a witness. Maybe the others did, too.