OtherSpace LitRPG: Installment 2

“Finally awake,” Guthrun said as my eyes opened once more. “Told you he wasn’t…”

“Don’t touch my boot.” I snapped a warning look at the other alien, shifting upward so I could sit with my back against the side rail of the hovertruck.

“I am Guththrun Ubulbruh, of Clan Ubul…”

“Default.”

“What?” they asked, big head tilting.

“My name. It’s Default.”

“That is an unusual name,” Guthrun said. “Are you sure that’s the name you want?”

“Yes,” I said.

Their fangs clacked. Then they said, “I cannot call you that. Therefore, you must be assigned a default name.”

“Why can’t Default be the default name?”

“I shall call you Slow on the Uptake.”

The nameplate and portrait returned to the upper left of my view. “That’s just insulting,” I groused.

“Are you in the rebellion?”

I didn’t want another head squeezing. “Oh, yes,” I said. “Love the rebellion. Big fan.”

A message appeared beneath the nameplate:

YOU ARE NOW NEUTRAL WITH THE GRIMLAHD REBELLION.

“And what is your preferred role in the rebellion?”

“Line cook,” I said. “Deep fryer.”

Guththrun scratched their snout with a claw. “You like up-close combat, then?”

A metal cudgel appeared in my hand.

“What? No!” I flung the weapon out of the truck. It thumped along the ground a few times before dematerializing in a spray of bright single-digit numbers.

“Sniper?”

A pulse rifle blinked into existence, cradled in my arms. “I…no, I don’t think so.” I hurled the weapon, and flinched when it spanged off the metal hull of a passing hovercar and then vanished.

“Medic, perhaps?”

A white plastic briefcase imprinted with a red cross appeared in my lap. I almost tossed that when I furrowed my brow and frowned, resting my hands on the surface of the case. “No, I’m not a doctor. But something about this feels…” Well, if not right, I thought, at least not horribly wrong.

“Oh,” Guththrun mused. “You’re a jacker!” The case morphed into a laptop digital interface device. A word in bold white letters flashed in the holographic display that glowed from emitters built into the device: ACCEPT? The big reptiloid looked up into the sky at an approaching gunship.

“You should hurry,” the smaller alien warned.

I shrugged, ignoring them. After all, it was just a game. But I had this feeling that, in the real world, I worked with computers. A lot. Might even be a jacker. So why play that in a game? Wouldn’t that defeat the point? Deadly dull and predictable.

“If it’s a game, shouldn’t I get out of my comfort zone?” I wondered aloud. I looked over my shoulder for any signs of the weapons I had tossed aside. Of course, they were gone.

“Oh, no,” Guththrun said.

I looked back just in time to see that the gunship had closed within weapons range and opened fire with plasma cannons.

“Anyway,” the other reptiloid quipped, just before the blinding flash and searing pain led to blackness.

***

The scene re-set once more.

“Finally awake,” Guththrun said. “Told you…”

“Yeah, not dead, let’s move along,” I said. “My name’s Jack.”

The nameplate and portrait pinged into existence.

“Are you in the rebellion?”

“Where else would I be?”

YOU ARE NOW NEUTRAL WITH THE GRIMLAHD REBELLION.

“What is your preferred role?”

“Jacker,” I said. “What else?” The laptop device appeared in my lap. ACCEPT? “Yeah, I accept.”

PLAYER CLASS SET TO: JACKER.

“Can you help with that?” Guththrun asked, jerking a clawed thumb toward a tri-pronged gunship circling above the city center.

“You know,” I smiled and waved a hand over the sensor pad of the laptop, activating a programming interface. Statistics scrolled past on the left side of my view, below the nameplate, showing the skills required by the game to operate the device – all green, based on my background – and the available functions. “I probably can.”

The gunship hadn’t angled toward us yet. I lifted my hand and swiped across the distant craft, with a similar result to what I got for the laptop: a scrolling set of statistics about the gunship, its armaments, and its defenses. 

“It is susceptible to electronic infiltration,” the shorter reptiloid offered.

That seemed unlikely at this range. Unless I could boost the signal. “Do we have a transmission amplifier?”

“No,” Guththrun said. Then they jerked a big thumb toward the sky. “It will come into range soon enough.”

“They’re fast,” I said, tapping away in the air above the laptop interface.

“Be faster,” urged the other alien.

As I continued working, I asked the smaller alien: “What’s your name?”

“Sork,” they said.

“Just Sork?” I asked, targeting the gunship. The system showed it remained outside range for my infiltration attempt, but now the telemetry changed. We now had their attention. “No long, fancy title like your buddy?”

“I am Grimlahdi,” Sork said. “We are a humble people.”

“The Nall ship is growing closer,” Guththrun warned.

Good, I thought. The laptop reported that the gunship went from outside range, to within range (but possibly too challenging for my current skill level in the game). 

“Any time now,” Sork growled.

The gunship plasma cannons started charging up with a thrumming whine. On the laptop, the display read: ELECTRONIC INFILTRATION: OPTIMAL, with a glowing button next to it that said ENGAGE.

I tapped that.

“Oh, no,” I said, watching the gunship tumble in an uncontrolled spiral until it slammed into the pavement street and exploded. With a smirk, I looked toward my companions. “Anyway.”

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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