Farker hated falling asleep in a link bed. Or rather, he hated that awful moment when you wake up and find yourself paralyzed, held in the grip of the brain's natural mechanism to prevent you from walking around while asleep. Dream-actions are inhibited. The same system was activated by the link bed when the cranial transceiver pillow enfolded your head and logged you into a full-body immersive virtual reality. Otherwise your body would move in real life and maybe fall out of the bed.
Thus while going virtual you were paralyzed as if dreaming. This was a real hassle with the earlier model link beds because it might take up to 10 seconds for the bed to decide that you were awake and turn off the paralyzers. You woke up petrified.
Farker gritted his teeth and waited it out. It seemed a lot longer than 10 seconds. Did it take longer to wake up enough for it to show on the bed's monitors when you got older?
Then he sat up and took stock. He had apparently passed out shortly after saying goodbye to Darla. He had intended to accomplish more but the strain of the anomalies had exhausted him. He started poking menus slower and slower and the next thing he knew he was waking up paralyzed. The reason that waking up that way shook him so much was because he always wondered if going virtual could happen one time too many, and something in the brain or something else could go wrong, and he could wake up with permanent paralysis.
But not this time. Hmm. Apparently Darla has become quite attached to Aes, he thought. Her defense of his authenticity was moving, if ill-founded, Hope I wasn't a condescending bastard as usual.
Three anomalies now. Cheiron comes and goes as he pleases. Aes wanders but never vanishes or logs out. Dunno how the newest one will act.
It's all impossible, he reflected, but it's going to take a little more than impossible for me to start thinking gods can influence my software. She's anthropomorphizing active code, and it's my fault for making him out of some serious roleplay modules.
He opened a bin, dug out protein bars and water, and replenished himself as he thought about the fact that at this point he was obligated to tell Max there was something wrong with the PanGames hypercomputer. What made it possible to keep silent so far was (a) the certainty that there was no malfunction, (b) that only one user had so far been impacted, and (c) he had recruited her to do reconnaissance on the anomaly, which kept her from the media, killing two birds with one stone.
So he had effective containment on these anomalies as far as user impact went. If that held constant, perhaps this would never become serious and would inevitably be eliminated. In that case, he rationalized, there was no need to involve anyone else. If anything else happened, however, it was going to hit the fan.
Nothing will happen, he told the universe firmly. But visualizing what you do NOT want to happen is a rookie mistake of wizards, so naturally something happened immediately. Since he was not in Tweedledum the wall screen lit up with the a mere 3D rendering of the menu space of the Problem Finder. Farker did not believe in giving cute human names to computer hardware or software, so instead of Hal or Tron or Gort the oversight system was just Problem Finder.
Currently PF had been favoring imitating an old video character named Max Headroom, but he wasn't doing comedy. A grim visage delivered the news. “Farker, I think that a couple of Players just died in Realm of Egypt. Not died-and-resurrected died. Died-and-I've-lost-their-avatars-and-the-customers-aren't-waking-up died.”
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