Monday, January 30, 2017
Multiverse Desperado - A JumpChain Fiction
Right now I have a bit on my plate, and the most recent presidency has been causing nothing but problems to a lot of people I love. But I decided to return to this blog with a new initiative of new posts this time three times a week. This shall be the Monday installment, basically a Jumpchain popularized by the /tg/ board. Yes, despite it being a pit of scum there are good ideas there on occasion. It shall be a palette cleanser and a true instance of unrepentant geeking in the face of my semi-professional obligations. Not familiar with a Jumpchain? That's why I wrote a prologue below.
The Cyber Tavern was empty, then again I'm the one to blame for that. What was once a haven for the oddballs of society, the ones I share kinship with, has become a ghost town. Paralyzed by the shock of the horrors surrounding us. Even the annoying ants had left.
I was tending to the bar, going through the rote actions of cleaning a glass for way too long, while eyeing a bottle of wide mouth bourbon. I told myself never again. Alcohol is the mind killer, and I do not want to lose what I hold so preciously close.
But the protests have begun. Information has become unreliable. People who I once saw as just heroes became complacent in the madness. Worse yet, my contacts have gone dark, meaning I couldn't even rely on my trade of game criticism and commentary without losing money.
It stared at me on the bar. Taunting me like a Faustian temptation. No one else will know. Drink up and enjoy the blissful numbness.
I finally put down the glass and picked up the bottle with my hand hovering over the stopper.
“You know that stuff will kill you right?”
I jumped a little and dropped the bottle of hooch. It clattered to the counter, the stopper popping loose and spelling the golden-brown poison. I reached below the counter and tried to sound as confident as I could.
“Who are you?” I asked, “ The Cyber Tavern is closed.”
“And yet here you are,” the stranger replied.
“You know it's dangerous around here right?”
“You know that you don't even have a gun under that counter?”
My heart jumped several beats. What the hell is going on? The stranger stepped into the light and revealed herself to be a woman. Six foot tall, leggy as hell, and rocked the kind of cheekbones that wouldn't be out of place on a strong-willed woman. She was wearing a simple black dress that flowed over every single inch of her perfect figure as effortlessly as a waterfall. In the most blunt terms, she was smoking hot. That made her suspicious.
“You better not be here to fool me there's attractive singles in my area.” I joked, trying to relieve the tension.
“What a mortal thing to do. Still, this form is the only thing I could think of that would make you listen to me.” She says, casually pouring a drink of vodka from the bar. Wait a minute, I don't recall having the bottle on the counter.
“Be a dear and hand me something to pair this with?” She said with a giggle.
I slapped the drink off the counter and got in her face, getting as angry as I could, projecting my frustrations into a righteous fury.
“Tell me why you're here before I throw you out!” I bellowed.
“You can call me Jump. Or Jump-chan if you like. And I am what you would call a God.” Jump responded, tilting her head in a cutesy-poo fashion. She then calmly pushed me out of her face. Strange how she got me to yield so fast.
“Oh lovely. What are you here for then Jump? Some angry rant about one of my pieces? Here to harass me about being political? Is it about my active Twitter use lately?”
“Oh heavens no. Truth is, I'm bored and I'd like to issue you a challenge. Consider it a wager if you will.” Jump explained, suddenly sipping on a perfectly mixed Shirley Temple that appeared out of the corner of my perception.
“How familiar are you with the multiverse?”
“Jump, I'm a high end nerd. Discussing and reveling in multiverses is my crack. What about it?”
“Well, it exists. Every world ever conceived from a creative mind, be it from a film, a book, or a video game. They all exist in all of their creative glory.”
“The powers, the settings, the characters? Everything?”
I shook my head casually. Of course they exist, they helped me at parts of my life, that is real enough to me.
“So what is your challenge?”
“I am going to make you a Jumper. A Planeswalker if you will. The ability to travel to these worlds. And just to sweeten the deal, it shall be worlds that you have personal investment in. Places that...shall we say, shaped you?”
“That seems awfully generous for a challenge.”
“Well, here we come to the rules. Before each jump you will have some resources to assist you in that world. Abilities that are exclusive to that place. Let's say the ability to fly like Superman, or to run like The Flash if you joined the world of DC Comics. However, you must live in that world for ten years, participate in the struggles of that world and survive along with the heroes, villains, and citizens of that plane. Either as savior, or conqueror, or that guy on the street that sells oranges. It doesn't really matter to me. Don't worry, your body will be at a different age in the world that isn't your own.”
“What happens after a decade?” I ask, my curiosity piqued.
“You are given a choice. You can simply choose to return home. To this watering hole and go back to your life as it was, with all of the wisdom, knowledge, and talents you have accumulated through your travels. Alternatively, you can choose to live in the world you spent a decade in. Life in this world will continue on as if you simply vanished, but you will be a permanent part of that world, for better and for worse. Finally, you simply Jump to another world, with all of the gifts and abilities you earned from before, so you may continue your quest.”
“A quest? That implies that there's an end goal for this whole thing. Cuz it sounds like you're giving me a blank check to become a demigod by going through multiple worlds like a superpower clearance sale.” I interject.
“Oh you are a sharp one. I like that. But yes, the consolation prize is getting different abilities, the prize is a place I have designated as an endgame universe. A world full of those that can challenge Gods. After you take as much time as you like, seriously take like three centuries I don't care, your final challenge will lie with spending a decade there. You will be a part of that world's greatest conflicts the entire time and no matter how great their might is, if you die you fail and are sent home. But if you survive the decade you must challenge that world's greatest hero and win.”
“And why would I want to go to those lengths? Demigodhood sounds pretty sweet already.” I query.
“How about Godhood?”
I take a step back and accidentally knock over some top shelf nanite gel.
“If you succeed, I shall grant you a Planeswalker Spark. This will allow you to travel the multiverse at will. Every life you lived will exist simultaneously, you can visit anywhere in the multiverse at will for as long as you like, and you can return home with all of this power and more.”
I pull up a chair and mull things over. A decade in a world to gain power, to make my own adventures, then the ability to rinse and repeat in multiple worlds to prepare for a throwdown with a grand hero with godhood as the prize. That just might be the greatest deal of my entire life. It's too good to be true.
“Alright, why are you doing this?” I ask, “There has to be a reason for this. Monkey's Paw? Lesson in humility? Some Never Meet Your Heroes nonsense?”
“I already told you. I'm bored, and it looks like you could use it. A little escapism can go a long way. Always so dry and analytical, why not live a little?”
“A decade is more than a little escapism, Jump.”
“Oh but there is the joy of this. Time will be still in this world. Win or lose, you will be back in about five seconds real time.”
I look around my empty tavern....
“So if I were to still do stuff here this would interfere with that-”
“In no way whatsoever.”
“Alright, Jump. You have yourself a deal. Any other rules that I should know about?”
“Oh just a few things. No matter the world's metaphysics about the afterlife or reincarnation, if you die in that world you will be thrown back home. No fighting your way out of Hell to continue the challenge.” Jump explains, suddenly in a cheesy devil costume, smiling coyly.
I roll my eyes, her trickster god act starting to wear thin. I motion her to go on.
“Alright. You also have some choices with how you enter your jump. But my mouth is getting a little dry,”
“Can't you just will yourself a glass of water or something?”
“Don't be a smartass. That's my job.” She snaps, drinking a glass of water fresh out of hammer space while handing me a piece of paper.
I quickly look over the paper, the rules for how I can stack my stays in my favor. Wait a minute...
“I can choose to have a history in the world I Jump to?”
“But how will I remember who I am?”
“You just will. But having a history will make people more trusting of you.”
“And this whole section about my age and...gender will be randomized?”
“Either stay twenty six or stay a dude, up to you.”
“I'll take being a dude please.”
“Alright. Also take this,” says Jump, tossing me a normal looking key.
“What the heck is this?”
“The key to the Warehouse. Think of it as a storage shed for the stuff you'll collect.”
“And the key goes to what door?”
“Like the Velvet Room?” I say, remembering the logic of a favorite JRPG.
“Sure, whatever. So ready to go?”
“Alright, beam me up, Scotty.”
I snap awake with a mild headache and shook myself out of my bed. The room was dark, save for a series of blinking red numbers on my right side. I reach over to hit the snooze button casually, only to have my hand go through the numbers. The lack of contact jolts me out of my sleep induced stupor. I pull off the sheets and get a better look at the clock. It isn't a clock; it's a hollow display. With the numbers 03:81.
Wait a minute, that can't be right. My eyes must be gunked together or something. I reach around in the dark, only to stumble to the floor. This isn't my bedroom.
“Dammit, where the hell is the light switch?”
A cool female voice croons from the ceiling, “Bedroom lights activated.” and the entire room is flush with color. Industrial metal floors? Pulp sci-fi décor with a hint of 21 Century Modernist influence? The fact that on a second glance the clock still reads 03:81? I shake my head in confusion and pull myself back to my feet, my slender blue arms pressing me up casually.
Oh hell no.
I dash towards the open bathroom door on my left side, it whooshing shut behind me. I take a seat on the U-bend and start taking some deep breaths. I look down and see the body of a conventionally attractive woman in a shade of dark blue instead of of my usually puckish male frame. I reflexively reach for my hair in horror, only for my hands to meet a collection of tentacle like appendages made of hardened cartilage slicked towards the back of my skull. Standing up in shock I grab a look at a mysterious woman in the mirror, only to discover that it was my new face. The face of an alien race notorious for being monosexual; all female.
“Jump, you devious bitch!” I exclaim, my voice coming out an octave higher than normal. She didn't mention being other species! I like romancing the blue women of the Asari, not being one!
“Attention all passengers. We have dropped out of FTL speed and are ready to dock at the Citadel. Please have your documentation ready for C-Sec clearance.”
My azure reflection became several shades whiter as I realized where I was. The optimistic future of the world of Mass Effect, about ready to dock at The Galactic Citadel, the center stage of some of the greatest conflicts of the galaxy. And it's a safe bet I have no papers since I still remember talking to Jump at the tavern with nothing else inbetween.
This is going to be a long decade.