“Where is it?”
The pasty-skinned Light Singer sounded friendly enough as he loomed over the grayish-brown furred Lotorian chained against the rough stone column. Nothing friendly about that crimson aura, though. Or the eyes. Cold. Icy blue, like the frozen B’hira wastes.
Zoznazz tried avoiding the eyes, staring toward the broad maw of the planetoid’s cavern entrance, which opened onto a shimmering starscape. It might be the last thing he ever saw. That disappointed him. His final view should be something far more magnificent than a glimpse of stars from a Medlidikke pirate hideout. He’d seen plenty of stars before. What he had never seen, though, was his homeworld of Lotor. Not that he would ever be likely to see that fabled chunk of rock again. Zoznazz wanted to stand on the ancient grasslands, stare up at an impossibly blue sky, and smell the scent of–
Sharp stabbing pain, just above the right wrist. Spear point, rammed in by one of the Vollistan Light Singer’s companions – this time, a Hekayti pirate with skin the color of bruises, half a nose, and a broken horn jutting from the left side of his pock-marked skull.
“Difficult to focus?” the interrogator asked. He cradled the Lotorian’s whiskered snout in slender white fingers, tugging so that Zoznazz was looking at him again. “Come now.” A forced smile. “The sooner you tell me, the sooner this suffering can end.” The Light Singer released his snout, then clasped his hands behind his back and started pacing around the column. Six Hekayti pirates watched, while a dozen Nall warriors waited in gleaming black armor next to a shuttle that was aimed toward the stars. “You may think that I enjoy what I do,” he said, behind Zoznazz. Coming around to the Lotorian’s right shoulder, he leaned over to whisper, “You would be right. I do. Very much.” The smile wasn’t so forced now. He stopped, staring directly down at Zoznazz once more. “Imagine my disappointment if you deprive me of further amusement. I cannot tell you how angry I would be if you suddenly told me exactly what I wanted to know.”
The Lotorian gazed up at the interrogator, mouth falling open in confusion, eyes glazing. What he said made perfect sense. Just tell him. Take his fun away. He wouldn’t like that. No, he wouldn’t like that at all.
“You can do it,” the Light Singer assured him. “I won’t like it. But you can do it.” He turned to look out at the stars, the faint blue haze of the atmosphere containment force field barely visible. “The artifact’s location. Tell me.”
Zoznazz’s angular ears swiveled as he tried to work his way through the tangled confusion of his thoughts. He didn’t want to say anything. It felt like a trick. He knew all about the deceptions of the Kamir and their ilk. Like most Lotorians, he trusted no psionic aliens, but he was especially distrustful of Aukami, Light Singers, Timonae – direct descendents of the ancient and manipulative Kamir. Yet he wanted very much to make this Light Singer furious, and it seemed obvious to him that talking about the Kamir artifact he had seen on the derelict in the Plosa Nebula at coordinates…
“There we go,” the Light Singer said, aura shifting to a cool blue as a smile broadened across his face. He turned to the Medlidikke with the spear stabbed into Zoznazz’s arm and said, “Ready your crew. We have a location.”
“What about him?” the pirate growled, nodding toward the chained Lotorian.
Still smiling, the interrogator said, “Oh, I’m so enraged that I couldn’t possibly stand here and look at him any longer. So I want you to take him into the cell and finish him off for me. Don’t take too long, though. The Vox is waiting. He’s much less patient than I am.”
Back in March, inspired by Jonathan Coulton’s Thing a Week, I committed to writing at least one vignette a day about OtherSpace for 31 days straight. The result? This collection of short OtherSpace fiction.
It’s time to do it again!
Exercises like this have a few great benefits. First, they let me get my brain back into the ground-level storytelling elements of OtherSpace, instead of all the time I spend mostly looking at things from a stratospheric view. Second, it provides creative content for the blog. Third, it might encourage others to write their own stories. Creativity as a contagion! Fourth, these glimpses into the OtherSpace universe might draw more people to get involved in the game.
For those wondering about National Novel Writing Month in November, though, I’m sad to say that I won’t be participating this year. I’d like to, but Catherine and I are planning a trip to the Virgin Islands around Thanksgiving time and I just don’t want to put that kind of time pressure on myself with everything else that’s going on. Let me know if you’re giving NaNoWriMo a try, though. I’ll cheer you on!
That’s the sentiment someone shared in a discussion on the MUSH the other day. Despite the fact that OtherSpace gaining 450,000 players like the popular multiplayer space sim would be amazingly awesome, this comment wasn’t intended to be complimentary.
Dominion is an extension – call it an expansion pack! – of the basic OtherSpace crafting system, designed to allow players to go beyond simply making personal weapons, armor, and gadgets into the realm of macro-crafting – building on their professions, becoming business moguls, and maybe even shaping their own empires.
To the extent that you can use the system to create corporations, I suppose it is like EVE Online.
But the truth is, it’s not a fair comparison. Honestly, the real comparison that detractors should be making is something that probably will cheese them off even more: Dominion is much more like a Facebook game, such as Empires & Allies or Mafia Wars. You’re using limited but replenishable resources (Saga Points for OS, “energy” in Zynga games) to grow your holdings and you can’t do it all on your own. You need help from other friends who play the game. So, OtherSpace Dominion is much more like shaping a metropolis in Cityville than it is like zooming around the galaxy, blowing people up for fun and profit in EVE.
I don’t consider this a bad thing, either way. Roleplaying MUSHes are a rarity these days. A MUSH that provides a Facebook-style game with a text interface? I think right now that makes OtherSpace one of a kind, and something like Dominion might make our MUSH even more attractive to potential players who fall under the Socializer/Achiever/Explorer quadrants of the gaming archetypes.
We might trick all these Farmville players into joining a *truly* collaborative social online game.
Wouldn’t that be great?
The Road to World Conquest: Crime may not pay, but at least it’s not extorting me like being a good guy
I’m breaking the law.
My Alabama license plate expired at the end of July after we moved back to Durham, North Carolina. I’ve been trying to get new NC plates since we got here, but suffice to say that this has been…challenging.
Last week, I reported to the DMV with my old NC license plate, my Alabama car title (which I had just received after getting my Alabama plate in March), and a checkbook to cover the cost of the new tag. The amiable old man behind the counter looked up my license plate number and informed me that Wake County had a tax block on reissuing a tag. Apparently, I owed some money to the county from 2010. He didn’t know how much. Also, the system seemed to think that my GEICO car insurance had been cancelled, so I would need to bring in a Form FS-1, which I would have to request from the insurance company.
That day, I called the tax office and discovered that I owed about $6 somehow. Paid it immediately, removing the tax block. I called GEICO and requested the FS-1 so that it could be mailed to me.
Yesterday, the FS-1 form arrived. I had everything I needed!
This morning, I jumped in the Juicebox. When I got to the tag office, however, I realized that I had brought everything except the FS-1 form. Not to worry. Luckily, I live just a few blocks from the DMV. I drove back home, snatched the form from the box on the kitchen counter, and then made my way back to the mall.
The clerk this time was a kindly middle-aged woman with bleached blonde hair who took my old NC tag, my driver’s license, my GEICO FS-1 form, and my Alabama title. She started filling out a form on the DMV computer. Then she told me that because I hadn’t turned my tag in after moving to Alabama, and because the system showed my insurance as being cancelled, I would have to pay a $100 fine for driving without insurance before I could get a valid plate.
I’ve had car insurance the entire time. However, I shifted it to the state of Alabama after moving there.
“Can I make that fine go away if I can demonstrate that I’ve been insured the entire time?” I asked. “Because I have. My coverage never lapsed.”
“Oh, sure, you can do that,” she said. “You’ll need to get an FS-1 form from your insurance company.”
I pointed to the one on her desk. “Already did that, didn’t I?”
“That’s not for the right date,” she replied. “You have to get one that proves you had coverage on 1/22/11.”
“Really not making this easy for me,” I said.
“At least you’ll save the hundred dollars,” she said.
“Maybe,” I said. “Can I get a temporary tag?”
“Not without that form.”
“So maybe I’ll save $100, but maybe I’ll have to pay a fine for driving with an expired tag,” I said.
“I don’t know how much that would be,” she said. “I’m not a police officer.”
I checked the web. Non-moving violation fines like that can cost up to $500, but it’s probably more in the neighborhood of $150.
Now I’m back to square one. Gotta call GEICO again, swim through the bureaucracy, and snag a different FS-1.
It shouldn’t be such a hassle to try to be a good guy.