An adventure story set in an MMORPG.
The sunlight was painful to my half-opened eyes. I groaned, and as I did so, heard someone chortle in the background. I blearily pulled myself to my feet and looked around. There was a boy standing in front of me, looking rather unnatural. A shock of white hair was sprawled over his head, and his excuse for a fringe, though it fell over his eyes, also covered most other things down to his chin - though not his thin and extraordinarily long nose.
His outfit was rather plain - a pale blue shirt and jeans, though his tanned skin was laced with blue-inked squiggles. I recognised them immediately as the Aua markings, and that could mean one of two things. Either this guy was an Uber, or I’d fallen asleep online again. I groaned. Looking at my costume, it was clearly the latter.
“Woken up, sweetie?” he asked. I glared at him. Whatever charm he was trying to ooze at me, it wasn’t working. But that was OK. I could have some fun with this. Making sure not to grin in case my avatar gave me away, I put one of my hands behind my back and made the shortcut gesture to switch voice mode.
“Yeah, thanks,” I replied, my voice now sounding convincingly like a 30 year old male bodybuilder called Mo.
The boy’s eyebrows jumped a little at first, then he grinned, showing a perfect set of white teeth. I grimaced. I was obviously hanging around a total newbie - everyone else preferred slightly aged or yellowing teeth, which gave a better impression of character.
“Nice voice,” he commented. “But since we both know you’re a fifteen year old girl, you might as well turn the voice changer off again.”
I did turn it off at that point, but not because he told me to. “How did you know I’m fifteen?” I asked, staring suspiciously at him. “And how did you know I was asleep before? I could’ve just left my avatar on standby.” All of a sudden, I reached a logical conclusion. “Are you stalking me?!”
He laughed a lot then. “Of course I’m not stalking you. I have other things to do with my time, thanks. As for how I knew you were fifteen, I checked your profile.”
My eyes narrowed. “My profile can’t be viewed by the public, and besides, anyone can write any age down, it doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“Perhaps,” he replied, “but although tonnes of teenage girls claim to be otherwise, very few others claim to be teenage girls.”
“You still haven’t explained how you managed to view my profile, or how you knew I was sleeping.”
He paused and twisted his mouth into an odd expression. “I, uh...I can view most people’s profiles. And you left the mike on while you were snoring.” He smirked as he said the last part.
I ignored it. “You can’t view hidden profiles if you’re not on my friends list,” I argued. “What are you, some kind of hacker?”
“Mm...some kind, some kind. Resonance,” he said, holding out his hand.
I made no attempt to shake it. Rather, I fell backwards onto the grass in hysterics. “Hah,” I said, when after a few minutes I’d run out of laughing juice, “that was a good one.” I wiped a tear from my eye.
He looked at me, his facial expression the epitome of innocence. “It was only a handshake...” He sounded rather hurt, but to be honest, at that point I felt he deserved it for mocking my hero.
“Please. You’re trying to tell me you’re the fourteen year old hacker genius made the original administrator for Senta?”
He scratched his head. “I wouldn’t say genius...and I’m nearly twenty now...” He paused. “That’s...a scary thought, actually.” He laughed nervously. “I’m twenty next month.”
I sat up abruptly. “You mean...you are Resonance?! But...but...why do you have such a young avatar?”
“Oh, that. When Senta was originally created, the avatar ages went up in tens. I was fourteen, so I got a ten year old one, and I’ve...never bothered to change it. Most of the administrators did, and use all the latest items, but Res is from the original version of the game, and isn’t compatible with any of the new items.”
“Oh.” I paused to look more closely at his avatar. Now I was paying proper attention, I saw what I hadn’t noticed the first time - his newbie clothes were the ones from the Origin Alpha version of Senta - the earliest online version of the game made available to the public. I checked the tags of the clothing. All of it was from Essen - again, the first shop for online items made available to the public. I should know. I was their first customer (I got a free item for it, too). But enough about that. “Why don’t you just update your avatar?” I asked. “You said you couldn’t be bothered, but surely it would be easier in the long run?”
He shook his head. “There’s emotional pain involved. The original server could only support 300 users. That means only 300 of the original avatars were ever made, and 30 of those were admins of various sorts. This avatar was one just thirty original administrative ones ever made. And the old server was never able to cope with renaming avatars - if I’d created a new avatar, I would have to delete this one so I could stay under the name of Resonance.”
I nodded. I knew firsthand how painful it was to delete an avatar, even a mule - it was why I’d left my original avatar alone and created a new account with a different name rather than deleting what I felt was a part of my history.
“You can’t really understand what the original version of Senta was like, because the modern updates are so different, but...” he sighed, “even though it was slow and clunky, and without all these new features, I still miss it.” Again, I nodded. It seemed we shared similar views. “I go back there sometimes, but it isn’t the same without the people,” he murmured wistfully.
My ears pricked up. “Wait, you can get back to the original sever?” I asked curiously, trying to hide my excitement.
“Of course you can. The modern program was completely rewritten, but the base program it was modelled on still exists on the old server,” he explained. “Of course, you’d have to create another avatar in the old way to be able to function there, but--“
“No, I wouldn’t,” I interrupted. “I was one of the 300. I’ll meet you in base Delta Slang.” I waited just long enough to grin at his shocked expression before I logged out.