The explorers looked at each other, smiled, and shouted, “Itadakimasu!”

I laughed! “How awesome is it that particular Japanese custom has apparently become mainstream!”

Auntie Emma replied, “It never carried a heavy religious connection and thus stuck when many western phrases dropped out of favor. The third drawer from the left, Jeb, has the serving utensils.”

I grabbed some forks, tongs, a spatula, and a couple of ladles. Placed them appropriately, and the food started getting passed around while I took my seat. “Auntie, the team here only told me a small amount about you. Would you share your story during dinner?”

Auntie demurred, “It’s not an interesting story. I’m an old woman who enjoyed helping children by providing a good home.”

“That actually sounds very interesting. Kind people willing to extend themselves were rare in time. I can only imagine that it became harder as economies and societal focuses changed.”

“Well, I was fortunate in that, I suppose. My parents were wealthy, and I was an only child. They could afford for me to go to college and pursue a career in social services. I worked for years as a foster case worker. I was often disappointed with how the system worked and its people. I couldn’t change it from the inside, so I stopped working and joined the ranks. I applied and became part of the program, a little harder as a single woman but easier due to my inherited wealth. I did it until I couldn’t physically do the work and then petitioned to join Nirvana. She approved my petition personally, and I digitized about 300 years ago. Since then, I’ve learned a few things and built this boarding house. I create and sell the china to keep occupied when I don’t have guests.”

“Wow, while succinct, a compelling story indeed. Do you have religious beliefs?”

“Well, that question, in addition to some of the other clues I’ve seen around the table, tells me that you must be from the same period as Grumpy – and that you must be new to Nirvana, or you would have already learned that most organized religions seriously declined in the late 22nd century.”

“Guilty as charged. I was born, and I died before Grumpy was born.”

“And that confirms it. You are one of the experimentals being talked about on the Net.”

“Grumpy said that the first night I was in Nirvana – hard to believe that was only last night.”

“Really? What have you been doing to give you that perspective?”

“Ah, now that’s a little bit of a different conversation. Before we get to that, would you tell me about the ‘Experimentals’ and what’s being said on the Net?”

“I think that’s permissible. I may have to hedge a little to be sure I am not penalized.”


Grumpy adds in, “Certain subjects carry a penalty for talking about them in Nirvana. Usually, ones that could traumatize a revived human in their grace period. The penalty is applied based on the subject and the audience. I’ll tell him Auntie, so if there is a penalty, I’ll bear it.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Grumpy explains, “In the 22nd century, cryogenic facilities began to move their clients to the dark side of the moon. It cost them less to lift the mass into space and then store them there than to maintain long-term facilities on earth at the right temperature. Initially, the ALA recovery process has was focused on more recently frozen assets where the process was more perfectly performed, and recovery is successful about 25% of the time. Digitization is successful about 50% of the time, thus the blended rate of 33%. The experimentals are from when the side effects of the cryogenic process were not as well known, and the process created damage at the molecular level. The original estimates for the older subjects were that only about 1 in 100 would be recoverable. I know I can’t tell you why the program is important; it’s well-known that the topic carries a nasty penalty. But the experimentals are so widely discussed because the odds of recovery keep dropping, and there’s an outcry to stop until the recovery technology can be further improved. Right now, you are a true miracle, as the odds, last I checked, predict that only 1 in 800,000 can be revived. There are about 30 million who fall into the Experimental category.”

“I guess that does make me a unicorn. That’s something for me to ponder on later tonight. It doesn’t change any of my plans, immediate or otherwise.” Focusing on Auntie Emma, “You should know that we may have brought some trouble to your door – just not the kind of thugs Grumpy brought last time. I’d like to stay here for a few days but will leave if you decide you don’t want the risk. Though, I think the risk comes with a pretty awesome reward, should you want it. Let me explain.

My unique historical perspective has already let me unlock some big secrets that Nirvana set up and were never found. I’m sure that the gang here will tell you that I’ve done nothing but surprise them all day.” The group collectively nods their head as I continue. “In about less than two days, Nirvana is going to make another global announcement like earlier today that will have the world looking for me. Most of them won’t be able to find me, just like if you used Name Tag or similar magic on me, you would not see the name I gave you or any other accurate information about me.”

“You are the cause of the global announcement earlier today.”

I nod. “Yes, I’ve been very busy in my first 24 hours here in Nirvana, and I have already done things that are going to change this world – and I wasn’t even trying. I think Nirvana has been waiting for this for a long time. I don’t know why yet, but I am going to learn. I want to know what’s going on, and I am sure I will disrupt the status quo even more as I poke and prod into the dark corners. Grumpy, Gilden, and Mason have already received a boon that will carry them forward in this new era of Nirvana, and I would reward those who help me along the way – especially if they will suffer a little for it too.”

“I’ve never been afraid of a little pain or hardship to help those around me, and Nirvana has been good to me. I’d help her if not you.”

“Excellent. Would you like to be able to help even more people than this boarding house can – even if that brought all kinds of trouble to your door?”

“I played those RPG Video games when I was a teenager; I like puzzles more. I assume a spellcasting class is what you are offering me.”

“Yes, but I can guarantee you will have to give up your simple life, like it or not. If you take my reward, you will have to be a leader – at least for a while.”

“Hmm. You say it will be more than a day.” I nod. “Then I can start sorting out the impact before others even know!” Cackling like a witch, Give me the power to help others; I’ll bury the naysayers in kindness!”

“Auntie, I want to be sure – You understand that I am using you as a decoy and that there will be people who harass you to know who gave you this power and demand that you share it, if not give it to them.”

“They’ll get nothing from me they don’t deserve!”

“Well then, one last thing to help you. ARC add my admin status to my public screen.” Holding up my hand and turning it palm toward Auntie, as it said in the Explorer’s Basic Book, I say, “Share Status.” I then reach over and touch her hand. Auntie, as an Admin of Nirvana, I declare that you are Nirvana’s first ‘Foundation of Faith’ under the Pathfinder spell system. These explorers at your table can help you on your new path.”

Nirvana Announces!
The first ‘Foundation of Faith’ proclaimed in Horn Point! I’ve got religion – come and get it!

Auntie Emma pales a little, then startles while looking into the doorway, “Oh my, and you weren’t kidding, were you – she’s awfully excited about this!”

Waving her plushy, Nirvana says, “Come on, Auntie, I can hardly wait!”

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