End By End III

“What do you think he meant, Elz?”
“I know exactly what he meant, and after this score, we’ll be having a chat with him.”
“Ugh, he’s so boring and technical, I can’t stand his mumbojumbo.”
“This isn’t the time for games, it’s time for The Games.”
“Lag off, I fragging got it. I’m better at these than any-”

Bullets begin firing with full realism of physics. Just like the real thing, but better, less at risk. Unless that was your setting. Few have chosen the ultimate rounds, for that deletes your entire profile if one loses. In true rounds, with respawn and bench, one has never won multiple full matches in succession. There were too many people, the playing fields were level. It would be hard to blame some for experiencing the power over bots almost programmed to lose, with their AI’s intentional inferiority to the human brainwave. Killer-bot tournaments were always the best to watch. Only on special occasions though, so that The Permanent Mind could flex his digitized hands, lording his power over us as a benevolent god of cyberworld. An endgamer with no more masters, though he maintains corporate sponsorship from whence he came. The developer, long dead.

In a final hail of gunfire and explosions “THE ONSLAUGHT IS OVER.”
“We did it! we won!”
“Yes, I knew this strategy would work, man, we are fast!” The UEC is deposited into their private accounts.
“We should go now, this is a huge haul. I feel so silly now for being worried.”
“Worried? What abo- hold on, I got a pm”
“WINNER. You have been entered in a special bonus round.”
“Sweet, a bonus round.”
“Don’t bother with it, we have to go.”
“It’s a timed request, it won’t take long, I’ll meet you la-” he dematerializes, transferred to the bonus round.

In the Outerworld, both users never became logged on, the paradisio drive saw to that.
“Why do you think it didn’t work, Elz?”
“I’m not convinced it didn’t, I just need to figure out how to get our rigs up and running again.”
“What do you think went wrong?”
“The paradisio drive, it takes up a lot of power, probably blew out a couple of things.”
“Hey, I never asked you, why do you work out so much here?”
“Helps me think, plus, this is a good spot, it’s my room.”
“You know what I mean.”
“So that I can trust what I feel when I am me in the web, know that it’s not some weird fake cyber feeling. I like to experience the ultimate me all the time.”
“But we’re all gonna be digitized anyhow, body’s gonna crap out or something the way this world’s a wasteland. I feel more free in there.”
“I can be in my own mind when I just exercise, none of that bombardment of intertainment, just me, focused.”
“Intense, I just listen to music.”
“You always listen to music.”
“Yeah, but especially when uploaded.” They share a smile.
“But this is just for me. I still think the boundaries should be preserved.” A stunned silence, then, a sort of agreement. “There’s hope for this place, but it’s found in the cyberworld. We just need UEC funds.”

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