Zero Glory

“Gloria Ybarra?” A woman with shoulder-length chestnut hair asked the room. Almost two dozen men and women sat in a bright waiting room on uncomfortable plastic chairs. The brown-haired woman stepped out of her office every hour to call another name.

“Here.” A sixteen-year-old girl with dark brown bun stood as she raised her hand. She hefted her denim backpack over her shoulder and approached the woman that called her.

“Hi, I’m Melody,” the woman said and shook Gloria’s hand. “Come in and have a seat.” Melody ushered Gloria through the door and into a white office. She first noticed a depression in the center of the room filled with what smelled like fresh soil. Behind the soil sat a glass desk with a monitor and keyboard on top of it. One char sat behind the desk and one chair sat in front. Gloria saw nothing else in the room other than white walls and a white tile floor. Melody walked around the soil pit to the seat behind the desk. Gloria sat in front of her and dropped her bag to the floor.

“First of all, congratulations on being selected,” Melody smiled. “As you can imagine we had quite a list to sort through.”

“No kidding! That roller derby match was amazing,” Gloria smiled and inched forward to the edge of her seat. “I’m sure tons of people rushed to sign up.”

“It’s a shame the Luchadoras lost though,” Melody sighed. “I hope they’ll do better in their next match.” Gloria nodded eagerly.

“They definitely will!” Melody smiled then pulled a clipboard out of a desk drawer and handed it to Gloria.

“Let’s get started on your character. First, pick a class,” Melody said. Gloria glanced down at the paper on the clipboard and noticed a long list. “If you have any questions, please ask. Unfortunately, you can only make one character, so it’s important you’re satisfied.” Gloria read down the list.

“What’s a craftsman?” she asked.

“That’s the tradeskill class. If you pick that one you get to pick one of the trades,” Melody handed Gloria a small slip of paper with a short list.

“We can use trade skills in derby?” Gloria’s eyes widened and the corners of her lips lifted slightly. Melody nodded.

“They can be very useful. In fact, both teams at the match had a different craftsman with them. A blacksmith on one team and a programmer on the other.” Gloria looked down at the list again.

“Paladin,” she said. Melody nodded, then typed information into her computer.

“Now pick a race. Most paladins pick the tougher races. Troll, ogre, dwarf, slime, minotaur, or one of the elementals,” Melody suggested.

“I want to be an angel,” Gloria said.

“Nice choice. Now choose a soul. It can be any of the races, or any of the ones in the little box,” Melody explained. She pointed to a small boxed list on one side of the clipboard.

“Is there a bonus for doubling up? Like what if I go angel / angel?”

“There can be. Some skills work better the more of a “type” there is nearby. Any skill that benefits from angels in the area would count twice; once for your race and once for your soul. But that can also backfire because you count twice for enemy skills also.” Gloria stared at the list for several seconds. Finally, she made her decision with a nod.

“Light elemental.”

“Okay,” Melody typed more into her computer. “Good to go.” Melody stood from her seat and walked around her desk to the soil pit. “I’m going to need you to lay down,” she pointed at the dirt. “You can customize your appearance, and you need to complete the tutorial. After that, you’ll get a suit and officially be in the beta program.” Gloria stood and walked to the edge of the pit.

“Should I take off my shoes or anything?’ Melody shook her head. Gloria stepped into the soil and sunk a bit. She took careful steps to the center, then crouched and shifted her weight to her hands to lay down.

“Since this is your first time logging in you’ll get a notification about connecting to the other versions of you. In the-” Melody started to explain, but Gloria interrupted her.

“Other versions of me?” she sat up to ask, with a puzzled look on her face. Melody nodded.

“Alternate universes,” she replied with a shrug. “We have about 300 of you on record, but we only started keeping track when Ms. Sharp took over the AlterNet. There may be more. Once you set it up you’ll have access to a private chat channel with the other yous.”

“Whooooaa,” Gloria grew giddy at the thought and threw herself backward into the soil. “I’m ready!”

“As I was saying; in the interest of time, you should ignore the prompt for now. With as many dopplegangers as you have, you should set aside a couple of hours to do it.” Gloria sat up again in a hurry.

“WAIT! Can I know what they are?”

“No,” Melody replied with a straight face. “However, I will mention that more than half chose an angel as either a race or a soul.”

“Awww,” Gloria fell back into the dirt again. “Are any of them double angels?” Melody shook her head.

“Not anymore. There was one on record, but she hasn’t logged in in a while.”

“Okay. Now I’m ready. What do I do?” Gloria felt something tickle her right hand. Then her upper left arm, then all over her body. She looked down and saw dozens of tiny black spiders crawling out of the soil.

“Ignore the spiders,” Melody replied.

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