Zero Sensitivity

The knight relaxed and lowered his sword. His black chain armor jangled as his posture slouched. The white-robed healer and green-leather-clad ranger let themselves fall to the floor. The two women sat facing each other and launched into gossip about their guild as if they were sitting in a staff break room. 

“You too, Aaron,” The knight said while looking at an empty corner of the wizard’s throne room. A ghost-like hooded thief that only the party members could see shook his head and sighed. He was translucent and black wisps of energy rose from his body. The black tendrils dissipated and he became solid.

“He didn’t know I was here!” Aaron whined.

“Did too,” Malabad the wizard replied reflexively. A smokey grey, translucent slate hovered in front of the ancient, lean, bearded man. He held the puffy sleeve of his green and black robe out of the way with one hand. He tapped and swiped at the slate with the other; only he could read what was on it. He stopped interacting with it then dismissed it with a wave. The thief hunkered in a corner and relaxed against the wall. Malabad looked at him then pointed up at the wall behind his throne with his thumb. A large sun symbol made out of gold hung high on the stone wall. “It’s enchanted with Solar Sight. I can see everything in the room as if it were outside on a bright sunny day.” The thief grumbled to himself and pulled his node out of his pocket to play a game. Malabad turned his attention to the knight.

“There should be a GM here soon,” he said apologetically.

“There’s a GM here already,” a new voice said at the same moment that the Knight nodded at Malabad in understanding. Everyone in the room turned to see a kid with a jungle of dark brown curls sitting atop his head. He looked about 14 or so, younger than everyone else in the room. He wore blue jeans and a light blue shirt.   “You can call me Aury. Staff not working?” he walked up to Malabad and held his hand out. The wizard handed his staff over. The staff consisted of a mop handle with bright colorful streamers tied around the top half of it. The GM looked at it, then chuckled.

“I can already tell you the trouble,” he said. “Imported?” He asked about the staff as he looked it over carefully. Aury ran his fingers through the streamers dragging out the rainbow of paper-like strands. Malabad nodded.  “Damn.. this is nice work,” the GM said, mostly to himself. He rolled the long stick between his hands like a clay snake; the streamers fluttered and floated up as they caught air. Then, they fell again when the momentum stopped. “Real nice. Who did it?” he asked. “Ms. Sharp gives out recruitment bonuses,” he said then gave back the staff, Malabad chuckled.

“She already works for Ms. Sharp,” he said. “What’s the problem?” he asked. Aury’s own slate hovered in front of him; his fingers danced across its surface as he typed.

“The problem is… you didn’t read the patch notes,” he chuckled. “As of the last update, imported items need to be mentioned in the rules of any game agreements.” He looked up from his typing and looked over each member of the gathered group individually, then he went back to typing. “You guys run a regular game, I’m guessing, and just re-used the rules.” They all kind of nodded. “Who is she?” the GM asked again. “You said she works for Ms. Sharp already?” Malabad nodded.

“Jenny, the Luchadoras captain,” he said. The GM stopped typing and turned his attention to Malabad.

“No shit, really?” he asked. Malabad nodded. “Whoa, I had no idea that Zero was so smart.” 

“You got a problem with Zeros?” five voices asked him simultaneously. The GM shook his head and focused his attention back on the slate. Not that he needed it there, his hands continued typing even while he was sticking his foot in his mouth. The typing itself wasn’t entirely necessary either. Aury could reprogram the rules of their game using just nanos but he enjoyed the act of typing. After several more seconds of heavy silence, Aury stopped typing and the slate disintegrated into a white powder.

“Done. I changed the rules to include your staff for this one session. Next time you’ll have to add it yourself so make sure you go through all the rules and see if you missed any others,” he said. Malabad nodded. He lifted his staff in the air and it began to glow green with power.

“Awesome, thanks!” he said. Aury nodded and pulled a pitch-black business card from the pocket of his jeans. He dropped it on the floor and it opened a black hole. He stepped on it and began to sink as if he were riding down an escalator.

“Thanks for the tip about Jenny,” Aury said as the hole disappeared.

Malabad turned to face the knight. The healer and ranger got to their feet. He raised his staff.

“YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR M-” he began to yell, but his warcry was interrupted by a high pitched ringing sound. The thief appeared again, this time directly in front of Malabad, and answered his node.

“Hello?” the thief sighed heavily once the other voice started speaking. His demeanor shifted down. His posture slumped; his eyes focused on the cobblestone ground. “Okay, okay. I’m going. bye.”  He looked up. “Sorry guys. Time’s up, it’s my sister’s turn to use the mudroom.” He sighed and his body reverted to a black, featureless, floating mannequin. [DISCONNECTED] hovered above it in red text.

“Screw it,” Malabad said. “We’ll pick it up next week. 300 participation XP for everyone.” Small “300”s appeared over each of their heads and above the mannequin in golden numbers.

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