To Boldly Go
- So tell me, did you find anything? - Miho asked as they walked down the street.
- Uhh... yes... all of it pretty much... but not the Endgames themselves.
- How so ?
- I scoured every inch of every official and fan ran forum that was left. I read some entries that were only saved in the Wayback Machine. You wouldn't believe, how much did the forum software change from our days... how could we even like that thing...
- Well there was a reason we went on IRC, you know...
- Yeah, I know. So there at the last post of one of the fan forums, I found this link. A Tor gateway.
- So it was true...
- Yes. And the post was made by someone going by EDDOM... translated from 1337 this one...
- So did you log in ?
- Yes. And initially it did show a page. Memories came rushing back. I tried the login link, but it was dead, 404... then I reloaded the page, and the entire entry page was gone too... like someone pulled a plug on it just then.
- When did you found that out?
- About a week ago. Almost exactly...
- 9pm ?
- Yes, why?
- I recall feeling a faint pain ... in my heart... about a week ago, about 9 pm. That's why I only could meet you today. They kept me for observation. Did your conscience show any signs of improvement?
- I saw her cringe at that moment. But then she put on her headphones, listened for a moment, then gave me a faint smile and a thumbs up. So maybe there is still hope.
- You think... what actually happen?
- I called Largo. Oh don't give me those eyes! You know he practically IS the Internet these days? He analyzed my Tor node and said he detected a faint trace of where this page was coming from. Turned out, it was in a big, big data centre... He pinpointed it to one of the physical machines, and I ran an inquiry to get into that one's backup. The admin told me he never backed up from memory... but he had in the logs something that looked like a big operation of his ISD bots, hunting down some rogue virtual machine...
- Oh my gosh. So it was true!
- Yes... but then he said, the image was encrypted and it wouldn't want to run anywhere he tried ... but he gave me a copy.
- Right ?
- Yes you see... When I ran it on my laptop,I was able to log on ... I went through the entire world... I asked the other avatars... no one has seen her. They said, there were stories going on, that someone like her, actually lived in the woods... on the path from the bootcamp... and took care of unwanted visitors. But when I went there, I only found remnants of a fire, some trampled grass and a hole in the ground... that looked like an escape hatch to the Void. Some of her things were scattered there... some clothes, still with my watermark... But she, she wasn't there.
- Do you think she got away?
- I ... don't know. I went through all of that again. With that admin, we found some logs of a dark Tor node... but Largo said he could not follow the scent, because the node was so old, it left a very different kind of data on the way... and he wasn't able to locate a sniffer for the old data before it was gone. He said though, that the logs of the Endgames virtual machine, indicated a copy was made, and then someone edited them to cover up the destination.
- So chances are that Pirogoeth is still alive?
- Honestly ... I don't know. Oh look, we are almost here. Let's think about it later. I need to reset.
- Yumi? Oh God don't sneak on me like that... or on aunt Miho... you'll give her a heart attack...
- Very, very funny, Piro... you know I can't have... - Miho interrupted seeing the look on Yumi's face - whatever is the matter, girl?
- Dad... did I just heard you saying Pirogoeth?
- I ... er.. what did you hear ?
- From the bit about your running it on your laptop.
- We found her. She is alive.
- WHAT?! Where ? How?
- I show you. Aunt Miho, you too...
They followed Yumi to the games room.
- Gosh how long how ... I wasn't there... in this room... nice setup you got here kids... and that server! is that where...?
- Yes. Hold on da, I'll ask Kirigashi to come up.
They waited for the brother to show up, while Yumi continued.
- So you know we like the old style stuff. We were on a forum of the Good Old Games Online Section. Someone posted that Tor gateway address. We went in just to look at it...
- So the bootcamp was pretty good actually. Artwork was a bit dated, but hey, this is a game that was 1337 in 1998. We chose to upload our own avatars... from the 3d models of us that you made ...
- Yes and so we went through the bootcamp, leveled up. Took us a couple of weeks. We have seen many try and fail the bootcamp and never return. We barged on. Soon enough we found that the code was written assuming pre-2005 controllers, with low data rates. So we upgraded to newer hardware and it got a lot easier - Yumi looked at her brother sternly - at some point this idiot even connected to it through his Neuralink. Almost knocked himself out of existence, trying to be a tank class.
- Yumi, concentrate! did you see Pirogoeth?
- Yes. Finally we met her. She turned our avatars into less-polygon-heavy ones, and we got to go sightseeing with her. She is much more advanced AI than all the others in that world. Did not explain to us how she got so. But we have our suspicions...
- Kirigashi... what else did you see?
- Well about a week ago, we went to see her. She said, that the Servers' ISD bots were on her tail and this is probably the last we see of her, like, ever... But Yumi had this briliant idea, to migrate the virtual machine to our own Tor node... she made a copy...
- But... but she wasn't in that copy that was left behind...
- Yes because the three of us, actually slid out through the hatch into the Void... and we saw the Void wasn't entirely what we thought... the world was like a metallic bubble, connected to power and to network and covered in something that looked like an onion... here is the pic I took... really don't know who makes this kind of artwork... like a really cheesy Minecraft map... look at the desing of those bots... someone had nothing else to do but design them like spiders... we'd laugh if we could have had the time... long story short, we fended off the bots that tried to eat at the power and network connection of the world... we made it, by the skin of our teeth really... then we ourselves jumped through the pipe and landed back in our own server... and we firewalled it off and gave her all the resources she'd need to live happy again. We've been playing with her like that for the last week.
- She gets really grumpy when someone of us slips in your name, Dad. She also keeps mentioning someone named M0h... Aunt Miho! what's going on with you? You are pale... Dad? Answer me... Mom ? How long are you here...?
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