As many of you are already aware, I’ve long suffered under the misconception that I’m a funny person. You know that friend you have – the one who makes everyone groan before they’ve even finished a joke’s setup, then, once finished, spends a solid ten seconds looking around the room for a reaction, mouth agape and eyes darting about like a shit-eating Felix the Cat clock? That’s me. And while realities to the contrary may occasionally stop me in my tracks like a social-pressure bear trap clutching onto my calf, on the internet, there’s no one here to stop me.
I was laboring (or, given that this happened at work, avoiding laboring) under this misconception when I came across MassivelyOP’s daily thought-prompt asking readers one short question: How do you envision your favorite dead MMO coming back?
Now most people took what I’d describe as a pragmatic approach to answering this question. They reminisced on time spent in their favorite long-dead lands and thought of building museums showcasing final glimpses beyond the grave into the histories of once proud games.
I, on the other hand, had other ideas:
Star Wars Galaxies emerged from the Lazarus Pit with a gasp, her long-dormant body bursting in a spasm from the waters of unnatural life. She looked around the room with quick, darting motions of her head, her eyes boring deep into the souls of those surrounding her. They were her compatriots in better days, but the ravages of dark times passed had delivered them well beyond any recognition. Time stretched out as the water fell from SWG in slow moving droplets, little pieces of her sanity trailing behind as the waters made their journey to the ancient stonework below.
A hooded figure stood across the room, waiting cautiously as SWG regained her bearings. His robes were dark and nondescript. Voluminous as they were, they did little to mask the glut that had set in over the years she’d been gone.
SWG locked eyes with the figure, focusing through her overloaded senses to make out the features beneath the hood. Though the passage of time had muddled his features, they remained unmistakable: this was her old partner, SOE. She took a cautious step forward –
“Daybreak!” shouted an unfamiliar voice from across the room. “Be wary of the madness! We have no idea how the pit will affect someone who’s been gone for this long!”
SWG narrowed her eyes as SOE reacted with visible trepidation. Daybreak? Who the hell is Daybreak?
She looked down to her hands, testing her fingers in small flexing motions. Her skin was wrinkled from lengthy exposure to the water; she must have been in the pit for some time, then.
A sharp voice visited her from a recess of her mind she had never heard before, nothing more than a whisper, yet still striking with its remarkable force. It was that ephemeral, smoke-like wisp of a voice – the one that visits you when falling in and out of sleep. It was the voice where words are naught but muddled nonsense, but meaning nonetheless comes clear as day to the subconscious from whence they began. SWG’s subconscious was no exception; she received the message loud and clear. The voice spoke to her the impulse that any creature feels when backed into a corner, when its instincts tell it that danger is coming. Whether it was that creature instinct or the madness of the pit she knew not, but its meaning was clear. It wanted her to kill.
SWG’s pulse quickened as adrenaline coursed through her veins, the blood in her head pulsing in and out in the droning beat of a war drum only she could hear. Her demeanor changed in a flash of sound and fury as the transformation took hold, the world fading to roiling clouds of red and black.
She awoke from the storm feeling a sickly wet, having to consciously pull her arms apart from the old stone floor on which she lay. The room was a wreckage of cloth, blood, and gore – a grisly spectacle that said all that was needed about how her reawakening had ended. She stumbled for the door, grasping at the walls for support while her senses returned.
SWG leaned on the doorpost, looking down the barren hallway beyond to a warm light shining through in the distance – the way out. As she willed herself through each slow, deliberate step towards the shining world beyond, the muddled voice of the pit spoke once more, softer this time, in the tongue that only dreamers can know: survive.