writing chapter 17.3
Safely down on the ground, C3ll3r!, Evryplaya and Random joined the thousands of players milling around. There was little organization and no direction – the definition of a sandbox game, you could do what you liked. They all wanted something to eat, and quickly depleted the few food items in their virtual bags. But this only gave them enough energy to feel how hungry they were. Just surviving the fall took all they had.
C3ll3r! suggested they join a group making shelter, and Random thought this was a good idea, because maybe the workers would be fed.
Evryplaya complained bitterly but tagged along as the other two sought out something to do. “I’ll die of hunger before agreeing to lift a finger, ” she promised. “I can’t do any work before I eat.”
They ignored her. They changed their costumes, ditching the modified flying gear for carhartts – overalls and work boots with triple insulation, fur lined parkas and electrically heated gloves.
Evryplaya took the the opportunity to change her avatar as well, picking a big blonde brunhilda type that came with bronze breastplates and a horned fur lined helmet over the work clothes. “Gives me strength,” she explained.
“Gives you cold breasts,” C3ll3r! supposed.
Evryplaya shruged. “Beauty hurts, huh? How do you like the braids?”
They joined a group that was engaged in hut-raising. Several players stood surrounding a large flat boulder, concentration their attention on its weight. Together they imagined it was made of styrofoam, then bent to wedge their hands under it, and lifted it gently into place on top of boulders similar shapes and sizes, again and again until they’d constructed a round wall higher than their heads, with a single opening.
Then they ranged around for the perfect capstone, and finding none, carved one out of the flank of the mountain. They weren’t the only group quarrying. Some players were digging caves into the cliffs.
A settlement was developing. Dozens of workgroups were creating streets of little houses, each with its own little garden area. Other groups were going along persuading things to grow, having been shown secret stashes of seeds and starter plants that Fairy had laid down while they were still building the game. Grasses, sedges, tiny little spruce and birch trees, moss. Soon there would be herbs and flowers. Soon there would be hardy vegetables. Potatos, cabbage, carrots and onions, spinach and brocoleli, angelica, rhubarb. Soon the first restaurant would open. Everything was supposed to be cooperative, everything was supposed to be free. This was according to one of the rules hastily developed by Anomia and Fairy, who took note of the penguins’ larceny and took steps to halt the unsocial behavior. Fairy kept herself busy going around reminding people that cooperation and a generous spirit were key to a successful settlement and a happy life.
Evryplaya was totally convinced of this after Fairy touched her in passing, totally smitten by Fairy’s avatar – an angel in pink fur wafting a strong rose smell and transferring intense warmth with her touch. After Fairy moved on, Evrypaya dropped all pretence of working and contented herself with urging the others to peace and happiness thru submission to the greater good.
This lasted until dark, when a storm enveloped the settlement and the wind started howling with a force, howling with the force of freezing rain. Then it was Evryplaya for herself, as she beat the others into the shelter they’d made and sat closest to the fire.
The hut was larger on the inside than out, and a tiny fire of twigs was enlarged to fill the center of the space, smoke exiting neatly thru a carved hold in the capstone. At first the draft from the wholes in the holes in the walls threatened to blow the fire out, but the occupants increased a handful of moss and closed off the holes. Everyone downloaded sleeping bags and floor rugs, hung tapestries over the door opening, switched on lanterns. changed out of their work clothes into wool and down outfits.
Evryplaya, breastplates gleaming in the firelight, trying to look sexy, tried to convince the players nearest her that a quick fuck underneath the quilts would make them warmer. Nobody paid any attention except to move out of reach. She tried a joke – “You can eat me, if you’re hungry,” but nobody took her up on that one, either.
They were all hungry, but had nothing to eat, and nothing to eat it with. Some group concentration produced pots and pans, bowls, cups and utensils out of shells and twigs, so they were more than ready when Anomia came by with a team of people pulling a sledge with a huge, steaming cauldron on it, and ladled out a potful for each hut – a pot that remained full until everyone was stuffed and ready for sleep. Then there were shared beds and stifled sounds of satisfaction all around Evryplaya, who remained alone, complaining loudly about all the noise and how come she couldn’t get any.
Then it was light outside, the pot was empty and the fire only embers, and they all got up and went out to build shelters for the thousands of new players arriving on shore, cold and wet. Very quickly there would be a sizeable settlement, stone huts of every design lining streets that followed the contours of the little valley they were in.
They would call it Prime, the first town. It was a teardrop shape, roughly, the edged rising steeply above the valley floor. The houses on the hill had a good view and didn’t seem quite as crowded, but suffered from the constant wind, while trees would begin to rise in the town center, and the risk of avalanche kept the sensible players away.
A branch of the river would soon be diverted thru town and bridges would be built on the streets to allow channels to flow to every part. Then a team of engineers by inclination or training would discover hot water deep under the surface and dig a borehole, and use enlarged fluted shells for pipes, and soon there would be hot and cold running water. Another team would soon design sewage treatment, so there would be compost for the slopes of the upper valley, and another team would start a farm. A team of absolute geniuses would reverse-engineer a sheep, a goat and a cow from various leathers, and soon there would be flocks grazing on the shoulders of the mountain.
It was becoming a prosperous, vibrant community. Someone was even figuring out how to make paint and was going to start slapping up murals on the walls.
Fairy and Anomia could be proud of themselves. Except they weren’t.