by Addemup (2018)
Cloudless every day you fall,
upon my waking eyes.
Inviting and inciting me to rise...
Alam slouched down in his polymorphic couch, mentally browsing page after page of information on the Known Net. He had been bored out of his mind ever since his only friend went on a trip to the nearest gas giant three weeks ago, and he didn't know when (or even if) he was going to get back. Alam tried consistently calling his friend every hour for a week - at least to make sure if he had made it - but to no avail. Now, he had pretty much given up trying to contact him and started browsing the Known Net a few hours ago to see if he could find anything interesting.
At this point, he was merely looking at archived infopages that dated back to the First Federation era, trying to see if any of it piqued his interest.
And that's when he found it.
He was browsing the discussion forums of a long-defunct First Fed archival project (which was, ironically, on an archive) when he stumbled across a particular thread that did, in fact, pique his interest.
The only post on the thread read as follows:Hey guys,
I recently found an interesting information age website that uses the HTTP protocol. It dates back to circa 50 AT(!), and I'd like to see what you guys at the project thought of it.
The address is https://travellermap.com, for those who would like to see it.
Personally, I think it's some sort of 2D astrographical map detailing a fictional universe, but of course the superturings here can figure this out much better than I ever could.
Alam was fascinated by everything that had to do with SolSys. It was the birthplace of terragenkind, both chock full of history and rich in culture. Of course, he would never want leave his home system - where he lived out his entire life from birth to the present - but he still was very interested in the amazing place that was SolSys. In particular, he liked the history of pre-Technocalypse SolSys - a mysterious portion of terragen history that no one truly knew that much about, due to the horrible infoplagues that destroyed and corrupted data during the technocalpyse.
And so, this random discovery was to become something truly amazing to Alam - he was about to embark on a piece of Old Earth history that nearly no one knew about anymore. He followed the website link and lead him to what seemed to be exactly what ProudPlutonian290 described: a two dimensional, interactive astrographical map depicting what seemed to be a fictional Old Earth setting.
Looking around at all the fascinating places that he saw in front of him, he realized that mentally clicking on one of the circles placed inside the much larger hexagons resulted in an infobox appearing on screen. Of course, most of these characters were all unrecognizable to Alam - but the thing that he saw as the most interesting part of the infobox was that there was another link to something else.
And so, Alam proceeded to follow it. And that link quickly led to another link being followed, then another link, and another link, and yet another link. He browsed this network of websites for hours, only stopping once to eat dinner. By the time evening came to his home planet, he got a fantastic and ambitious idea that would practically set his fate in stone.
Alam called his personal vot in front of him. "What do you need?" it asked him.
"I would like you to reconstruct Charted Space in virch form," Alam instructed his vot.
Within milliseconds, the vot constructed five copies (or simms) of Alam's mindstates, afterwards asking these mindstates thousands of questions in parallel:
"How much of Charted Space do you want me to reconstruct?"
"Do you want me to present the virch to you in a similar fashion to the Traveller role-playing game?"
"Do you want me to construct the virch in a random or radial fashion?"
"What sector do you want me to start in?"
"What planet do you want me to start on?"
"When would you be ready to enter the virch?"
All of these questions and many more were answered within five seconds.
"I'll get started right away," the vot announced, disappearing from Alam's living room immediately afterwards.
And that was the beginning of a grand adventure for Alam, one that would affect him greatly both within the virch and out in real life.
After ordering his very first virch, Alam quickly went to sleep on his soft and comfortable smart matter mattress. He was very tired, and he didn't really want to enter the virch as soon as it was ready; instead, Alam opted for entering it in the morning, right after he ate breakfast.
And so, that was exactly what happened - the next morning, Alam woke up from his bed, got dressed in his casual, around-the-house clothes, and ate a gengineered banana with a small glass of milk for breakfast. As he was cleaning up, he asked his vot about the progress it had made on the virch he had ordered overnight.
"The first planet is ready for you to explore," it responded quite cheerfully. "Would you like to go ahead and enter it now?"
Alam weighed his options for a bit. He could either leave his house for a while and talk to some of the sophonts that lived in a nearby community, or he could enter the adventure virch that he had ordered for the rest of the day. Either way, he would be doing something different from what he had been consistently doing for the past few weeks.
"Sure, just let me get situated first," Alam told his vot after a few seconds of considering what exactly to do. He immediately went over to his living room and laid on his couch, ready to enter his new virch at any moment.
"Alright, then!" exclaimed Alam's vot, who proceeded to begin the countdown. "Entering your new adventure virch in 3... 2... 1... "
Alam's vision became blurry for a moment right before he closed his eyes, making everything went to black. He was completely deprived of all of his five senses for a short while - but he wasn't too fazed by this, as he knew that his character's creation process would begin soon enough.
As the world began to come back into focus, Alam heard a very loud noise coming from nearby. He didn't know why, but the noise scared him, causing him to flail his arms and legs in seemingly random directions. Then, he felt something pick him up and hold him, scaring him even more. And that was when he realized that the noise was coming from him! Alam was now a newborn infant, and he was going to determine his own gender.
Alam didn't think he would be comfortable being a female in the virch, so when the option came for him to choose his gender he proceeded to gently touch the male option with his tiny index finger.
After that, Alam's character's parents began to talk to each other in a language that he didn't (and wasn't supposed to)` understand. But what he didn't know was that they were trying to decide a name for his new character. In the end, they would settle on the name "Lukas".
Everything went back to black, and Alam was deprived of his senses once more. This time, once the short loading period finished, his character was a young man getting ready to leave his parents' house in the city to start the next chapter of his life.
"Goodbye, Lukas," his character's mother said, a tearful look in her eyes. During the short loading period between infancy and adulthood, Alam's mind had been temporarily seeded with the memories of his character's childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. He remembered that his character had recently gotten a job as an accountant, and that he had finally saved up enough money for a down payment on a house that was much closer to where he worked. It was going to be hard for him to leave his character's parents and siblings, even though he knew in the very back of his mind that they were all just part of the simulation.
"I love you guys," he said to his parents. "I'll make sure to visit you."
And with that, he went to go off and start his second life in his personal adventure virch.
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