It had been a while since Jessy had seen tamed chaos.
He had to admit it was a bit of an oxymoron there. How could you tame randomness?
It was quite easy and difficult at the same time. It was the same way you could have dysfunctional order. Chaos, like madness could be manageable.
There was out of control chaos with explosions and screaming with a lot of stampeding.
You could have that shocked chaos where something so unbelievable happens that you stand there unsure if there world was ending.
You can even have that fun kind of chaos when a bizarre set of circumstances saves someone’s life.
Then you could have that controlled chaos, like a handful of farmers trying to migrate a hundred cows over a river, or a kindergarten teacher trying to manage twenty brats hopped up on sugar. This was that kind of hell.
Moving what looked like thousands of people and mythical creatures were a dozen game designers, all of whom were trying to move the crowd on quickly without causing a panic.
As Jessy and his hostages approached the thousands of individuals, one of the elf-like humanoid with cool white skin and demon black eyes pointed what looked like a rifle straight at Jessy and his escort. She shouted a warning in what sounded like Swahili.
This day was just getting better.
The crowd turned to Huebsch and her group, many of them looking scared. They held makeshift weapons in their hands and pushed children back into the crowd. Some were carrying bags of supplies and two people were carrying what looked like a coffee table.
“Wait.” Jessy called out and slumped more than landed to the ground. “Crap. Wait.”
An older looking human with an unusual shade of red eyes came forward, “Whowa ‘re yew?” he said in bad English.
Jessy looked at him, stunned, “W.wait. You speak English?” As far as Jessy knew only the people who spoke English were those he came to this world with. What in Fuck’s name was going on?
The man made a universal hand gesture, meaning he knew a little English. Jessy wasn’t expecting the man to recite Shakespeare, but him able to understand even a sentence was highly peculiar.
A brown lizard in fur robs came forward. To Jessy the creature looked like a velociraptor in a weird shaman get up. He or she was old, with small rodent skulls hanging from its neck. “I ssspeak better.” The shaman said slurring its Ss that reptiles did in books.
“My name is Jessy.” Jessy calmly pulled out his wallet and showed the dinosaur his card. His picture was on it along with the Techscope logo.
“I work for the…” he didn’t know how to say it. “I’m here to help. Is there anyone wounded?”
The lizard woman approached Jessy, she looked at his Techscope ID and then placed her clawed hands on his shoulders.
Hubusch’s unit stiffened.
“It’s okay.” Jessy said in Elvish, trying to calm the situation. He secretly hopped that the lizard wasn’t going to bit his head off.
The lizard sniffed Jessy, “You have kind eyes. You have their eyes.”
“I’m not kind.” Jessy said. Her reference to their caused him to think about the gamers who had gone with Arcade on his treasure hunt. The word ‘Kind’ and gamers really didn’t go well. The assholes he worked with liked to to set thermal sensor bombs under toilet seats.
The dinosaur showed it’s teeth in a vicious smile, then she nodded at the building, “You will find wounded inside Aamorlock.”
Aamorlock. Jessy guessed that was the dome, or it could be the dinosaur’s version of Hell, either way Jessy was getting in there.
“Did they say what they called this situation?” Jessy asked the lizard.
The lizard thought for a moment and spoke to the people behind her in sharp tones.
There was some mumblings but there was one word Jessy picked up, “Bio Pit.”
“Fuck.” Jessy cursed, as if they didn’t have enough scary shit to deal with.
Bio Pit was a game from twenty years back. It featured a plague that transformed people into sleeper cells. It was a pretty fucked up game with cannibalism, a large boss monster, and really big explosion. It was that explosion part that Jessy was more interested in.
Jessy spun towards Huebsch, “I need a medical station set up to heal the wounded. You need to be careful about any foreign diseases. Wear bandannas soaked in whiskey over you noses or mouths. Or any highly concentrated form of alcohol to lessen the chances you infect them or they infect you.”
“Treat this like a city under plague, and a battlefield, and on fire. Find the other Techs to learn where to set up. Send a runner to town to pick up everything. Tents. Clothes. Hack saws. Get Kollkie to help you set up a quantitate.”
Jessy turned to Lez, “Lez. You and I need to go in there and start hauling bleeding people out.”
Lez wearily examined the daunting structure. “I…”
Seeing Lez’s questioning his commitment to Jessy’s service, Jessy dug into his back pocket and pulled out four gold coins.
The coins were entirely blank, neither minted nor marked in any way, their value residing in their gold content.
“Fine. You can get a ride with the nuns.” Jessy said handing the coins to Lez, who looked as if he would suffer a stroke at any moment at seeing the glinting coins that were now resting in his palm.
Now standing upon the seat of the cart, Jessy looked over the hundreds of people and sort-of people who were observing him curiously. “I need a driver to help me go back in there and haul out sick and dying. Who’s up?”
The elf with the dark pitless eyes and ghostly white skin slung her rifle over her back and pushed her way through the crowd.
With only a cheeky grin the sickly tanned elf pulled Lez off of the cart and took his place.
There were shouts of disapproval from the crowd as human men tried to take up the cause. Jessy figured that they wanted a bit of gold, but first come first served.
Jessy’s new driver snapped the reigns, but their path became quickly halted by Chief Exorcist Huebsch, who cut the pair off.
“You will tell me where the fox is.” Huebsch said her eyes nearly glowing red with intensity.
“Get a life.” Jessy said.
There were gasps from the crowd and heads swung back to the dome to see another ship, this one more like a World War Two German submarine with a huge turbine in the middle of it slowly ascend through the hole.
The crowd watched and winced as with an agonising slowness the flying submarine tore through the dome’s skin. The thing looked like a child was trying to squeeze a circle peg through a square hole.
Jessy felt his sphincter tighten as a sound like nails being put in blender screamed through the ear.
The sound caused Huebsch to hold her ears in pain, her sensitive hearing for once turning against her. He also thought he head something come from under the cart’s tarp, but didn’t think much of it was he was watching a fucking huge submarine squeeze out of the dome and start flying.
“This is a fucking weird day.” Jessy said to himself in English
Their obstacle distracted, Jessy’s driver snapped the reigns.
The strange white woman let out a laugh and spoke something in what Jessy assumed was her native tongue.
Jessy held out his hand to his new partner, “Jessy. Game programmer. Ex-bank robber.”
The elf looked at Jessy’s hand and laughed again as she took it, “Venarium. Daughter of the Iron Clouds. Pirate. Mercenary. Pilot of the Hamorjon”
“I like you already.” Jessy said.
The crowd exiting the domed structure was thickening as hordes of people and animal-like beings were trying to escape into the open air.
As they passed Jessy tried to absorb all the people he was seeing, just like in school there were groups or cliques, you could see relationships by the way people ran. You could tell the outcasts from the popular kids, could see couples in the masses.
Being an outsider and thanks to Arcade’s guidance, Jessy could see it all.
This was just one of the reasons that he had been chosen as a diplomat. There were others more qualified, nicer, maybe even smarter. They could have brought a droid over to do his job. But Jessy could see the patterns. He knew systems, and more importantly he knew how to exploit them all to get what he wanted.
But that was the thing, that was the draw back of coming to RPG land. After some other guy beats the dark lord and you can swim in a bath tub of gold coins, you discover there isn’t anything that you want.
Venarium say something on Jessy’s face and commented on it, “Why are you smiling?”
Seeing the wondrous, incredible chaos around him and the opportunity to forget his boredom, Jessy felt alive for the first time in weeks.
“How many people are there in there?” Jessy asked in English.
“Around ten-thousand.” Venarium said “Many of them old slaves or refugees. It’s never fixed.” Venarium spoke this last point sourly, and Jessy picked up on some bitterness in her voice. “Somebody always leaves and we pick up strays.”
A hovering bus exited out of the hole in the dome and what looked like the Chinese version of Mr Soot clung to the hovering barge for dear life.
Asian halflings. There was something new.
Jessy heard the roars of disapproval from the other side of the dome as the bus moved with the agonised slowness of a parade float. He also heard the curses his new partner was spitting out as they were waiting for the bottle neck to unplug itself.
The halflings pointed at the cart, but rather than the blue haired boy with horns or the elf with the rifle slung across her back, they seemed more interested in the horses.
“It’s like they have never seen a horse before.” Jessy said.
“Is that what these things are?” Venarium said looking at the beasts that were pulling their small cart.
Her words were not filling Jessy with confidence and he thought about jumping off the thing. He got here, did his job, quest complete.
The moment the bus passed through Venarium didn’t allow a second to pass, she snapped the reigns and Jessy had to close his eyes as there came the screams of a lot of pissed off people. He just hoped that the bump the cart hit was no one he knew.
That’s when Jessy saw them. Hundreds more people were blocking the road. This time they weren’t on foot, most were riding cars, carts, one Dark Elf was riding a giant lizard with six legs. They were all loaded up with personal possessions and what looked like pieces of machinery.
The city looked like something from a post-apocalyptic futuristic civilisation. Like seeing the Emerald city out of the wizard of Oz after a nuclear strike.
Black cylindrical pillars rose up to support the dome, from the lights Jessy was sure that not only were the towering structures designed to keep the sky from falling but they were also doubled as housing.
A highway of bridges linked every ten floors, most were intact, but some had the signs of explosives. The gamers sure went to hell on this place.
Some of the pillars looked stable enough, but others appeared as if they were held together by spit and happy thoughts. One tower hand lost its foundation and clung to the ceiling like a stalactite.
The ground floor of the tower looked less impressive. Black tar roads hugged the buildings and some streets were blocked off by shanty towns and outposts.
It looked like the dome had a way to go before it was truly evacuated.
Dreading the answer Jessy had to ask, “Why is everyone getting out of here like it’s on fire?”
“The Signeir who built this place want it back and have been dogging us for the last year. One of their agents sabotaged our fuel tank the new one’s a little unstable. The thing only has a few more jumps in her, but it’s the end of the line for us.”
Jessy groaned. There was so much wrong with that sentence. Signeir? A year? Arcade had only been gone for a handful of days by Jessy’s watch, but everything was pointing towards one giant cluster fuck of an adventure across time.
If Jessy had to hear how Arcade had a threesome with Cleopatra and Marilyn Monroe he would have to shot himself.
As Venarium weaved through the incoming traffic like a bunny on crack, Jessy thought about what Arcade was planning.
It looked like a classic play of Arcade driving a crumbling police car with a hole in the gas tank. A thousand cops behind him shooting, and a pack of screaming kids in the back. The answer seemed pretty obvious.
“He’s going to dump the building somewhere else, and when the Signier turn up the whole thing explodes in their faces. They think Arcade died, when in fact he’s here laughing his head off.”
Venarium seemed impressed, “You know of Arcade’s tactics.”
“I’ve seen him do it before on a smaller scale.” Jessy confessed. The question was how much did these Signeir piss him off, and how much time did Jessy have before everything turns to shit?
People had to hug the sides of the roads to escape being trampled by the pirate and the bank robber. Hmm. Jessy thought it sounded like a good plot to a movie.
As they turned the corner, Jessy looked back at the shanty town. He saw other gamers over there helping people move boxes into… Nah, that couldn’t be right.
“Was that a bag of holding?” Jessy shouted.
“The Signeir had a factory hooked up to a spatial wizard.” Venarium laughed, “I heard that they were really mad.”
Jessy could only imagine, the gaming department had this habit of pissing off the biggest and meanest bullies in the school yard.
Jessy’s phone chose at play the theme song to the Adams’ family. At first Jessy couldn’t believe that sack of shit actually survived, and he hesitated answering. But curiosity won out.
“What’s up, bra?” Jessy said knowing that the person on the other head hated when anyone said “Bra.”
Usually Gomez was a whinger. He was a throwback to a darker time in Techscope history, and the other departments had thrown him and others like him Arcade’s way in the hope that Gomez would die a horrible death in some humorous accident.
The last time Jessy had heard, Gomez had volunteered at gun point to make sure Arcade didn’t cause too much trouble. The fat fuck must have been half cockroach to have made it this far.
“Jessy?” Gomez said harshly, “Where the fuck are you?”
Jessy was momentarily speechless. The only time Gomez swore was when he was drunk off his wide ass, crying about his pathetic life.
Jessy had to look at the caller ID to be sure who he was talking to.
“I’m in Armour something.” Jessy said.
He held onto sweet life as Venarium made a sharp right turn. He had to wonder how a car going twice as fast on the same corner would have felt less nerve racking?
“You are?” Gomez said sounding confused, which wasn’t a difficult thing for him. “Hang on a second. Jessy. Jessy. Calling you.”
“I’m right here r-tard. Do you need a fucking neon sign? How can you miss me? I’ve just scored like two million points driving over little old grannies.” Now that Jessy said it, it did sound a little counter productive to kill a bunch a random j-walkers when trying to give people help.
Awl well, cant save a few kittens without kneecapping the fireman.
Gomez spoke slowly as if speaking to a deaf pensioner on ADD, “Jessy. This is very important. Where are you?”
“I’m…” Jessy was about to shout out that Gomez’s mum was giving him a freebie and that he was much biger than the family schnauzer, but he hesitated as a thought crossed his mind. “Did you just try to echo me?”
Echoing meant several different things. In this context it was when you heard your own voice shout back at you on a phone call.
Jessy closed his eyes, able to picture Gomez’s fat finger hovering over an intercom system.
“Gomez. The amour lock thing. Is that the name of the dome?” Jessy asked.
“No. it’s the name of the fucking giant space dildo I’m flying.”
Jessy looked to Venarium. He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t upset, he spoke as if he were incredibly tired, “ Venarium. Where are you taking me?”