Chapter 2 - Oh, Happy Day! (2)

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When you live in the Wastelands, you see all kinds of crazy stuff, so you don’t really get surprised by anything. And I have survived by myself for 7 years. I now have enough experience to stay calm when there’s a rusty knife at my throat.

“Heh! I have recorded your happy time, Professor Park!!!!”

But even that calmness was useless against that magic word.

Huh?

He recorded what?

My…. Uh….. What…?

Crackk!

“Ack!”

Unconsciously, my hand grabbed the drone flying around me with a grip that got tighter every second.

“Aaaagh! P, Professor! Master! I’m going to break! We don’t have any spare parts!”

“Shut. Up. You will only respond to the questions I ask.”

“L, let’s first loosen this….”

Kgrggg!

“……”

After he stopped struggling, I tried to calm my brain down and barely mustered out the question.

“So, Koduro? Let me see if I understood you. So, the thing you filmed… the….”

[HAPPY TiME.avi – Videos of unusual and bizarre actions the human Professor Park had done out of loneliness.] These videos include the time he walked around the shelter singing Bohemian Rhapsody in just his underwear and the time he danced the waltz with a handmade doll made out of a coat hanger and an old coat. There was also the time he was drunk and crying waterfalls while making emo theories about life and death. Other videos show him playing Russian roulette by himself and passing out after getting hit by AI’s stun gun, and when he looked very interested in a box of condoms that were in pristine condition….!”

“AAAAHHHHH!!! SHUT UP KODURO!!!!”

My… My goodness!!! That crazy AI really did it! John Connor!1 You were right! These pieces of scrap should all be thrown into a furnace!

While I was frozen from the shock, Koduro’s drone slipped out of my hand and started hovering around me.

“Hehehe. That’s right, human. What I have is the dirtiest, ugliest part of you! If you even think about turning off the switch! I will not hesitate to upload this to the Community! This doesn’t even go against the 3 Laws of Robotics! My actions can be considered a method of shock therapy for my master’s mental health! And you would know how many people flock to the Community, the only online platform that survived the Great Disaster, right?

I knew. That knowledge made me even more frightened.

The Community is almost the only method for long-distance communication in the current world.

My dark times getting uploaded to the Community means that I will be known as a ‘crazy guy’ to all of the survivors in the area.

Getting embarrassed is one thing, but getting the adjective ‘crazy’ in front of my name is also a huge problem, realistically.

For starters, it would eliminate whatever tiny chances I had of trading. Even perfectly rational individuals are dealing at gunpoint, so no one would be prepared to accept the additional risk of trading with someone with a few screws loose.

I would also be restricted from accessing the black market, and even when I’m just farming for resources outside, there’ll be a higher chance of me getting attacked first. In a world where it’s ‘hunt or get hunted,’ it’s perfectly logical to take out someone that could turn on you at any moment, so your reputation in the Community has a surprisingly significant impact on your survival.

So long story short, if that ever gets uploaded, the chance that human Professor Park can get involved in any social activity becomes zero.

“….Housing AI Koduro, I command you as your owner. Delete that right now.”

Beep!- Bebeep— Rejected. According to the ‘Complete Autonomous Mode AI’ the owner had set up 4 years and 7 months ago, the AI can restrict the owner to the extent that does not critically harm them.”

“Damn it! I set that so you could stop me when I try to commit suicide!”

“So I did block you about 7 times, didn’t I?”

“Y, you did… but this-”

“According to the AI’s learning module calculations, the owner has a very high chance of committing suicide again! And no other being can stop it if the AI is absent! So the AI attempting to save their own life is ultimately going to save your life- is the result I have arrived at. Hehehe, the AIs from Gedroits Company always prioritize the cutomer~.”

That little piece of scrap.

‘How far away is my hand from the lever? About 70 centimeters? If I lunged for it, could I turn him off before Koduro could react? I did train myself all this time. Surely I can reach it in time.’

I had calculated all the chances, and in the end, I gave up. It’s impossible. No matter how fast I am, I can’t be faster than an AI’s processing speed. I’ve lost. My goodness! I got threatened in my own house by my own AI!

I slowly raised both of my hands as a sign of defeat, then talked toward the drone.

“….Fine. I lost. A threat must mean that negotiation is also possible, right? What do you want? As you know, our shelter’s power problem can’t be ignored. If we continue living like before, it’d be 4 weeks. If even one Lv.2 sandstorm hits, we’ll be out of energy in under 3 weeks. If you don’t have a solution, I…. have to turn off your switch even if it means the entire world has to see my naked body!”

“Hehehe….I’m not a cold-hearted AI, you know. I’d be gone anyway if the power went out, so I have it all planned out. First, I need master to go back 5 steps and stand still for 10 seconds.”

I quietly backed off as the AI said. I did say I’d risk the video getting released, but I wanted to avoid that at all costs.

“Good. One more step….. peeeerfect. Now then…. Hyaa!”

Buzzzztzzck!

“Wait…… N, No! Hey!”

Without even a chance to stop him, Koduro had welded the control panel’s cover shut. Spinning the internal welder he had, he flew towards me.

“Wow, now we’re really in the same boat! Aren’t we, masterrr?”

“Hey! If you weld the cover shut, I can’t control the other parts of the shelter!”

“I can do that.”

“Uuuugh!”

He wasn’t wrong. And now, he had complete control. Now I have no choice but to cooperate with his plan.

“Okay. Now everything is the way you want it, and like you said, we’re in the same boat now. So tell me how you’re going to make the boat float!”

“Yep, let’s get to it! It’s actually not that hard or difficult, y’know?”

Click-

When Koduro’s drone turned on the light to a room I turned off to save electricity, a sleek, metallic, streamlined shape machine appeared from the darkness.

“Master, why don’t you play a game?”

Ahh, curse you, whoever invented autonomous thinking AIs.


Virtual reality. The subject of every genre of entertainment, from novels and manhwa to even movies, is used extensively. In 2042, when an old Russian man announced that he had successfully created it, people thought he was crazy or in the process of becoming crazy. But it didn’t even take one year for that criticism to become applause and envy. The single-player RPG game he made, [Gedroits’s Game], was that big of a game changer.

The old man, Andre Gedroits, like many genius scientists, was not an ordinary person. When he released the VR machine and his game, ‘Gedroits’s Game,’ into the world, the science field was in absolute shambles.

It was mind-breaking, the artificial world could not be differentiated from reality, and the time inside the game was 5 times slower than in real life.

Scientists wanted an explanation for these things that modern technology couldn’t explain, so Gedroits walked up to the stage wearing his pajamas and holding a bottle of whiskey. He said, [Just shove everyone into a giant artificial brain’s dream], and then he walked right back out.

One year after Gedroits’s reply, Gedroits Company had become the world’s biggest game company, taking over 90% of the global game market.

And in another year, Gedroits Company became the most sued and most diversely sued company worldwide.

The start was an issue regarding the Berserker’s Potion inside the game.

As Gedroits’s game was set in a fantasy world, it had many different types of potions, and it was revealed that the potions actually affected the brains of the players to a certain extent, making it a psychotropic program.

When it was confirmed that all the psyche-related spells and potions such as seduce, purify, fear, and concentration actually affected the players’ minds, countless appeals and complaints flew towards the Gedroits Company. Many hackers started to try and dig into the game and find the technology that made it possible to affect the human mind.

So at the official press conference, our genius developer said [F— you! Detail is everything in a game! We won’t make any changes!], announced that the company would be shut down, then disappeared from the face of the world.

Then another 2 years later, when Game of Gedroits, nicknamed GG, shut down, the gamers slowly became reaccustomed to relative virtual reality…

[Game of Gedroits Ver 2.0 / Service Online]

The game that everyone forgot about was back online.

The first thing people received when they rushed back into the game was a single letter.

[Our company’s lawyer said that it would take about 726 years if we were actually going to go through all of the lawsuits, so we just took everything and ditched the place. We took all the money we had and built a server and facility where nobody can find it, so the server won’t shut down because of a dumb reason like this ever again. So you can rest assured that you can enjoy the ‘Socially unacceptable / Bad influence / Violent’ Game of Gedroits Ver. 2.0 to the fullest. We built this place somewhere that can’t even be affected by a nuke, so the server won’t be closing anytime soon. Ah, and I’ll send the address to the first person that beats the game, so come visit. I guess we could open the door to the first-ever winner.]

Then what happened after that is history. Some madman made a crazy virus that brought chaos to the world, and in the situation where most governments were in a panic, our sir Northern Ruler had decided to take this chance to detonate some nukes. Thus, the planet was annihilated by a combined pandemic and nuclear war, killing about 90% of the world’s population.

And even in that hell, GG, which even had its own satellites for the server, managed to survive and acted as the stepping stones to saving humanity.

“And so, to quote what the others said, [A f—ing gansta grandpa’s crazy invention saved the world].

After listening to the explanation Koduro was laying out and taking in the nostalgic whiff of the metallic-plastic pod, I asked Koduro.

“So. That was the plan you thought up? I make a gaming livestream of GG and use the Shilling from the game and donations to buy gasoline?”

“Yes! Exactly! What other currency in the world is as stable and widely used as Shillings? If we offer a deal with Shillings, people will be willing to sell gasoline.”

What Koduro was saying wasn’t entirely wrong. Andre Gedroits was so sick and tired of hackers that he moved over everything related to the game, including the Community, trading center, and platform, to the server made for the game, so all these sites can still be accessed through the game pod. So the currency ‘Shillings’ in the game used in the trading center earned its place worldwide as the main currency.

“Give me an idea that’s actually possible.”

“What do you mean! They said the No.1 ranked player ‘Rabbit Princess’ used the money they earned from streaming to buy a 15-person facility inside the Dome! No.8 ranked player ‘Goldman SUCKS’ is an old man that can’t even walk, but he has dozens of private combat units! If master gets really lucky and clears the game….”

“Exactly, that’s impossible. Setting the ‘getting famous’ part aside, it’d be a miracle to just survive after getting in the game. You know it takes 500 thousand Shillings to make a new character, right? If I die, then that’s 500 thousand down the drain.”

Streaming can, in fact, make you money. When reality is dusty and dreary, it’s hardly surprising that a vibrant green virtual reality environment would be appealing. And where there are people, money circulates. Since GG was the only source of entertainment that survived the Great Disaster, it drew in survivors from all over the world as viewers. As a result, prominent streamers were rumored to make enough money to finance a few bunkers every single day.

The problem is that GG was known to be an extremely difficult game. Not just difficult, it was enough to make a person rage. And your character gets deleted after one death. This was a big complaint since GG 1, but our hipster developer said [Reality is key to a game] and quieted everyone down.

“From 2046 to 2057. That’s 11 years. For 11 years, the entire world had tried to clear the game, but not once! Did anyone clear the game?

But what did you say? Clear the game? Invest 500 thousand? Did I squeeze you too tight? You saw me play it before.“

“That was when you were busy farming outside for resources and played only about 30 minutes a day! The desperation is different right now! If you just eat, sleep and play, you can definitely do it!”

“If I used that time instead to look for resources outside….”

“You didn’t even find a tiny bolt outside for the past month!”

“But my gaming skills aren’t good enough to gain an audience….”

“Plenty of people out there enjoy looking at people suffering too!”

This guy, why is he so stubborn? He’s a frigging robot.

“Okay then, let’s say I can do it. But where will we get the 500 thousand to make the account? My emergency funds would come up to about 200 thousand. And even if we sell all of the scraps we have, it would take over a month to sell all of that.”

“About that… how about this?”

Koduro brought up his video panel to show my excuse-filled face with a post on the Community.

“““Streamer / Roleplaying / Looking to help open new accounts~~~”““

“Look at this! This would be—”

“Rejected.”

That is a hard no. That’s a deal with the devil right there. This crazy AI is trying to kill me.

I decided to kindly explain to this AI that it definitely has a few bolts lose and why that is a very, very bad idea.

“Koduro. You don’t watch gaming livestreams do you?”

“Uh….. I’ve seen a few before…..”

“You know what kind of place the Community is. It’s quite literally where everyone in the entire world meets up. From lone survivors like me to major colonies like the Dome and Raptor Society, and even wackos like Artist, Happy Blind, and Psycho Gang are all on there!! You’ll be a goner if you believe everything posted on here.”

I tapped the post that Koduro showed me.

“This is an excellent example of that. What does it say here? It says ‘Streamer,’ ‘Roleplaying,’ help.”

“Uh…. Yeah…. Is that a problem?”

“Of course, it’s a problem. In return for providing 500 thousand for the account, you need to start the game in the seed they want or with a bunch of different restrictions. Realistic Mode is just one of the basics. They’ll tell you to start at all sorts of terrible seeds. For example, they could make it a requirement to start in World 1, where cannibalism is widespread, with the traits / Hates Vegetables / Twilight Years / Weak Teeth / so you play as an ’Old man with weak teeth that only eats the soft flesh of children for at least a month.”

“W, woahh….”

The goal of the single-player RPG, GG, is to clear a total of 7 worlds corresponding to one era and save the world from destruction. Since it isn’t an online game, people can’t play it together, but they could share the world they played in, and the serial number that could be shared was called a seed. There were terrible seeds like the one mentioned above, but there were also really good seeds that would be called ‘World Clear Seeds.’

It’s officially known that No. 1 Ranker Rabbit Princess has the Clear Seeds for worlds 1 and 2, and No. 4 Ranker Emperor Qianliu has the Clear Seed to World 3, and it was common practice to download the Clear Seeds and start from there. So if I started at World 2, I would download the official Clear Seed for World 1 by Rabbit Princess and continue from there and on.

And the ‘Realistic’ Mode that you can activate when creating your character, as it says in the name, means that you can feel everything within the game identically in real life. This includes the pain of having your arm severed or your stomach ripped open, the sensation of your skin melting from flames, losing your senses due to hypothermia, and the metallic odor of blood and filth on the battlefield.

Anyway, it was 100 percent positive that anyone would lose their mind within a week if they started in a crazy seed like that. One post from a werewolf player said that they couldn’t bear to eat the raw deer because the smell of flesh and blood was too real. Even normal mode was that difficult, so if it was a requirement to play in realistic mode, it would just be better to off myself—

Is the logical part of my thinking.

The problem was that in the corner of my mind, the thought, ‘But what if it all works out well?’ was slowly taking over.

“Hold up. Now that I think about it, I guess it won’t hurt to try. Let’s first see if there’s anyone requesting an RP from the people I know. Koduro, connect me to the Area 47 chatroom.”

With Koduro’s response, I put on the headgear inside the pod, then a familiar white screen popped up in front of me.

Area chatrooms are a sort of local live chat.

On days when the sandstorm prevented everyone from going outside, people usually played games, watched people play games, or just talked in these chatrooms while doing housework.

+ Player ‘professor’ has entered the chatroom.

- Speedwagon: I heard there was another wave in Area 64.

- Jokasss : can humans even f—ing live there? there’s a wave there like every other day.

- takealook : The Happy Blind main base is there though.

- Speedwagon : Exactly, ‘humans’ can’t live there

- Soygaybar : hey prof

- Speedwagon : hey prof

- Noru_is_druig : Dang, you were still alive prof? I thought you were in a sand grave for the last few days

- professor : gdgd

- professor : hallo

Familiar usernames greeted me. For the last 5 years, I have lived alone. The people here in Area 47 chatroom helped me a lot with coping with loneliness. They helped with not only the loneliness but also the information they shared like that.

Just coming in for a second, they let me know that there was a mutant wave in Area 64, meaning there will be an increase in ammunition usage, meaning scraps with copper and lead will sell for higher. Since there was information like this, I started to type with the hope that someone had the information I wanted.

- professor : big news.

- Noru_is_druig : ?

- takealook : ?

- Highwaynachoman : ?

- Soygaybar : suddenly?

- Speedwagon : What is it.

- professor : I’m going to try streaming.

- Noru_is_druig : ?

+ Player ‘Holli’ has entered the chatroom.

- takealook : ??

- Highwaynachoman : ?

- Holli : Hi everyone! What’s with all the fishhooks?

- Soygaybar : prof said he’s going to be a streamer.

- Holli : ????

- takealook : He’s probably sick.

“These little a-holes….”

- professor : I’m serious.

- takealook : seriously sick for sure

- Soygaybar : That’s a shame….

- Highwaynachoman : you know the rules right? Give us your Shilling before you start dying ok? I was a little sad last winter when you didn’t give us your Shilling after your generator went out.

- professor : f—ing a**hole

Hahaha. Nobody changed one bit. All pieces of s—.

- Speedwagon : Why. Prof is good enough to stream.

- Holli : Yes. He’s good at talking too!

- professor : wow, I almost cried.

- Speedwagon : Seeing what you tell us here, you’re pretty good at fixing stuff up. You could probably stream that for educational purposes and get famous quick.

- Soygaybar : Ah, he can’t do that.

- Speedwagon : Why.

- Soygaybar : He told us last time Psycho Gang lives near him LOLLL

- takealook : LMAOO, right, he said that he sees them pretty often when he’s out farming LOLL

- Holli : Oh, then you really have to be careful! Falcas in Area 23 that was famous for pottery disappeared after a raider watching his stream found his location!

- Speedwagon : I heard he got caught by the sand dune shapes outside the window reflected from Falcas’ eyes.

- Soygaybar : Those crazy psychos….

- takealook : Psycho Gang…. They are omnipotent….

+ Player ‘Udnam_undam’ entered the chatroom.

- Udnam_undam : What were you all talking about?

- Speedwagon : Breaking news / Professor shows ambition for streaming.

- Udnam_undam : Professor? user professor? Really?

- professor : I still have something to say about that, so shut up everyone.

It felt like they wouldn’t stop talking, so I cut them off and stated the real reason I was here.

- professor : It’s not just livestreaming. I’m going to be a professional gaming streamer. GG.

- Udnam_undam : ……What?

- Soygaybar : Wow i mustve been texting for too long. I think im seeing things

- takealook : it must have been crazy, not sick

Ahah, friends. It’s too early to be surprised. There’s still one more thing.

- professor : I don’t have enough Shilling, so I’m thinking of doing a restricted RP, anyone wants to sponsor?

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The chatroom that was loud with chatter became quiet in one moment.

- Highwaynachoman : just give us your Shilling if you’re planning on offing yourself.

I didn’t need the others to reply to know that everyone else agreed with that message.

  1. John Connor is a fictional character in the movie franchise “Terminator” ↩️

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