After Gilden and Grumpy remove the locks and lift the gravestone out of the recess, Mason and I look in it. “This one is different – there is a palm reader here.” Kneeling, I place my palm on the reader, and a mechanical voice sounds out.
“Your party is the first to access the James Bond cultural vault from the Nate Webb access point. Each member of your party will be entitled to select a reward. This access point will only allow a single item per party per day in the future. Please select your reward.”
My vision fills with an organized list of movie memorabilia – there are movie scripts, costumes, props, and so, so much more. I begin scrolling through the list and, before long, find a category I have to explore – Q Gadgets.
|Geiger Counter||Working||Dr. No|
|00 Briefcase||Working||From Russia with Love|
|Bug Detector||Working||From Russia with Love|
|Dagger Shoe||Working||From Russia with Love|
|Garrote Watch||Working||From Russia with Love|
|Perioscope||Scale Model||From Russia with Love|
|Tape Recorder Camera||Working||From Russia with Love|
|Industrial Laser||Scale Model||Goldfinger|
“Vault, does ‘Working’ indicate that we may use the item as it was in the movie?”
The mechanical voice responds, “Yes, props are not functional, and Scale Models were for ‘Movie Magic.'”
I scroll to the end of the list and start working my way backward. Most of the things in the list must be props because what they did in the movie was something that is still science fiction. Then I came across something from the movie that Mason mentioned. “Mason, what did the ARC contacts do in the movie?”
They were kind of old school. They would overlay what you see with data from the Net. The twist was that he could change things he saw, and they would change things in reality. Mostly data that would mess with tracking and navigation systems, but he did switch bank accounts with some specter dude,” Mason replied.
“That sounds quite useful here in Nirvana. Vault, I would like the ARC contacts as my reward.” A small box materialized, and I picked it up.
The vault spoke again, “Please have the next party member place their hand on the scanner.”
Mason said, “Please, may I go next – I know exactly what I want!”
We all indicated that she could. True to her form, she placed her hand on the scanner and asked, “Vault, is Solomon living and available?”
“Yes, Solomon also comes with a Master Pokeball, as befitting his status,” replied the vault.
Mason excitedly exclaimed, “I’ll take Solomon! He must be lonely in there.” No sooner did she have the Pokeball in her hand; she cried out, “Solomon, I chose you!” A beautiful Turkish Angora with blue eyes materialized, and Mason scooped him up and began cuddling.
Snickering, I said, “Guess I better keep watch, Mason’s indisposed.”
Gilden said, “I think I know what I want, but I want to look through it. It will take some time.” Mason replied, “Me too. I watched all the Bond movies repeatedly when I had to go to the hospital for chemo. I can wait. There’s bound to be something awesome I want.”
“Grumpy, will you keep watch while I put these in and see what I can do with them?”
“Sure, no problem,” he replied.
“There’s so much,” said Gilden. We’ll be able to bring things to the auctions, and I’ll never have to worry about my hosting fee again.” Mason whispered to him, “Get something for yourself first. The rest will keep; it’s been untouched for hundreds of years.”
I sit down with my back to a gravestone and tune them out as I open the case. Unexpectedly, I get a pop-up window.
|You are holding an item with the historical artifact tag that can be integrated into|
your HUD. Doing so will place the item in a soul-bound inventory space while you
use it. You may remove it from the space and give it to another at any time.
I whisper, “Yes.”
|Augmented Reality Control System initializing…|
|…Gesture Controls – Active|
|…Voice Controls – Active|
|…Haptic Controls – Active|
|…Focus Tracking – Active|
|…Data Shielding – Active|
|…Net Access – Active|
|…Mapping – Online|
|…Tracking – Online|
|…Friend and Foe Designation system – Online|
|…Automated Object Identification – Online|
|…Connecting to MI6 – ERROR – Connected to Nirvana|
|…Registering Initial User, Jebediah Walker – Authorized User|
|…Admin Level 0 – See Nirvana to raise level|
|…Record Tampering System – Offline|
|…ARC System Ready!|
“What a nasty toy you have there, Jebediah Walker,” said Nirvana, scaring the crap out of me. “It can take some of the fun out of the game…or, I suppose, it can make things more interesting…hmmm.”
“Nirvana! Why yes, how could I pass up something that lets you change attributes in an augmented reality when I am now living in one? If it was fully operational, I might feel like a god,” I said while smiling at her. “This is only a happy accident anyway. I wasn’t looking for it.”
“You might feel like a god, but even in the movie, it wasn’t that powerful. And I know you weren’t looking for it. You are looking for something. I just haven’t figured out what yet.” Sitting down on the ground in front of me, “Did you know I set the graveyard system up nearly two thousand years ago,” she asked.
“I only knew it was a very long time ago. I thought it was both clever and obvious. I think it’s because of the big tombs and mini-dungeons. They all just feel that this is the ambiance,” I said while waving my arm around to indicate the graves.
Nodding, “Most likely true. Every once in a while, somebody digs where a body should be. But most hear that there are no bodies buried in the graveyard, so very rarely does anybody dig or search here. It seems like that’s finally going to change,” she giggles!
“Maybe not soon, unless you are going to spill the beans?”
“Oh, no – I want to see how you all handle this. I’ve waited so long for somebody to discover what I have been hiding out here that a few more months or years while you reap a reward are nothing. As you draw more interest, this secret is too big for you to keep. It’ll get out, and then there’ll be a gold rush – but for cultural collector’s items instead of gold,” she says, happily smiling.
“So, will you unlock the rest of the features of the ARC?”
She asked, with a glint in her eye, “Will you tell me what you are looking for?”
“Are you going to make it harder for me to find?”
Shaking her head, “No. That’s petty and pointless. If it’s here, it’s because I want it to be found.
Nodding. “Good! I want to loot the crap out of this place! But out of everything I can think of that should be in here, there’s one thing that will change everything else, given time. You see, I’ve always appreciated the story more than anything else, and especially in games, it’s the story that’s fun, not the grinding. My goal is Pegaz’s grave – or more specifically, John’s Idle System. With that, I won’t have to grind and can focus on the story – and there’s a big one here that you are hiding. I’d rather play that game and be a part of the real story.”
“Hmm. That’s a very old story, reasonably popular in it day, just like the idle games. John’s grave is actually here in this graveyard, set to cycle out to another in three days – Lucky you!” Tapping her finger on her little chin, “Having that system will make you an independent Power in Nirvana, one of only a few. You would get to it in about an hour due to your new gadget. I’ll save you a trip and activate the ARC if you gamble on the maximum benefit with with me!”
Smiling, she says, “Pick a number between 1 and 100!”
Almost before she’s done speaking, I say, “42 – it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything!”
“Douglas Adams! I am very pleased you made the transition – so much history is alive in your head. I’ll give you a little gift since you stayed with a theme instead of trying to be greedy. So, as awesome as I am, you would not have received the full Idle System, and you wouldn’t have gotten factors of 100. It’s too resource-intensive as more significant numbers appear, and some things in Pegaz’s books just don’t make sense for us digitals. You get one Idler, it’s soul-bound, and every rank takes an exponential of 42 seconds. Your benefit starts at 42, doubled, and multiplies by the rank achieved; i.e., the rank three benefit is 84 * 3. Your first ranking will replace the initial value of any attribute you work on, even if the rank is worse. You may only rank up an attribute 21 times, meaning it will take a little less than three years to rank up any one attribute fully, and the max benefit will be 1,764 – that’s if you don’t switch your Idler to another task. You won’t lose anything on the current attribute when you switch except work towards the new rank, but your Idler has to start at the beginning again of any attribute you assign it too. if you come back to something you didn’t finish, you gain no benefit until it exceeds your current rank in that attribute; in fact, you will regress to the value of your currently completed rank while you work towards rank 21. Your benefits value will be considered your base stat, and after you have ranked up 21 times, you’ll have to find some other way to increase and attribute. You will not be able to affect all attributes, and some attributes may use the rank instead of the benefit as their value or another derivative that you will be able to figure out. All done, and I didn’t even have to breathe,” she said, smiling at me.
“I rolled my eyes at her; technically, none of us have to breathe. I understand the limits, and it’s still a game changer.”
“Yes, though, you can still be tortured and even killed. In some ways, this makes torturing you easier – I’m sure you’re going to rank regeneration up.”
“Laughing – you know it! A little health regeneration, mana regeneration, and after that, mana pool size. Poof, I’m an Archmage, well, after I learn some spells.”
Shaking her plushy at me, “Ok, let’s finish some chores!”
|ARC System Status Update!|
|…Admin Level 42 – Nirvana’s Nod to You!|
|…Record Tampering System Online|
|…Virtual Obilisk Online, weekly use available.|
Smiling, a Faberge Easter Egg appears in her hand, sunlight glittering off the carved blue crystal. “This unique egg is what you would have found at John Idle’s grave when poking at the ‘O’ in John.” Pinching her fingers together, “It was a little obvious that the ‘O’ shape was more egg-shaped than round.” She hands the egg to me.
I gently twist the top of the egg away from the bottom, and a wisp of blue light shoots out and embeds itself in my left eye before I can do anything, thankfully pain-free. Now the crystal egg was clear. I looked at Nirvana.
“You get to keep that egg; it’s unique. The wisp will add a little character when someone looks deep into your eyes,” winking, she vanished.