Authors: Joshua W. Nelson
The Rise of Resurgence – Book One
Joshua W. Nelson
Copyright © 2016 Joshua W Nelson
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental
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Special Thanks to Terisa and Mike
My First Readers and Inspiration
TABLE OF CONTENTS
August 8th, 2043
ERROR. ERROR. ERROR.
The system flashed the message before my eyes. The letters were all in red with an alarm blaring in the background.
“No, no, no!”
ERROR. ERROR. ERROR.
I kept hitting the cancel download button, but the progress bar kept moving. It was now at 73%.
“Damn it all to hell!” I said, while continuing to mash the button in front of me. Each smash was met with the same result.
ERROR. ERROR. ERROR.
I had never been claustrophobic, and I had no idea what brought on this sudden case of anxiety. I just knew I needed to get out of the pod. I reached with my left hand and pulled the emergency release latch, hoping that breaking the hermetic seal in the middle of the download would not damage the equipment. This pod was mine, a gift as part of the Beta, but couldn’t afford another if this one broke. I pulled repeatedly and nothing happened.
“Oh you have got to be kidding me! Get me out of this thing!”
ERROR. ERROR. ERROR.
I slapped the inside of the pod and yelled, “Blow me! I didn’t hit the stupid button!”
ERROR. ERROR. ERROR.
The progress bar was at 92% and I was starting to panic. I could feel the sweat on my back. My heart was beating way faster than was safe. Why did I ever agree to this?
January 17th, 2043
I looked up from the magazine I was reading and acknowledged the man behind the desk. “Yeah, that’s me. Alex, it’s just Alex.”
The look on the secretary’s face told me he didn’t care if it was Sue. “Great. Please proceed down the left hallway and your interviewer will meet you at the end of the hall.”
After giving the same spiel to me that the four previous individuals received, he looked back at his computer and ignored me with a practiced ease. I’ve been ignored before, but this man had made it into an art form.
I followed his instructions, simple as they were, and met my interviewer at the end of the carpeted hall. I noticed there were no decorations anywhere on the floor. Not in the lobby, nor the hallways. And it appeared not in the office either, as I peeked behind the woman who was smiling at me, with her clipboard in hand.
“Good afternoon Alexander, I’m Katherine O’Malley and I will be conducting your interview today,” she said while gesturing me toward the door to the office. Katherine was dressed in a chic pant suit and appeared to be in her late thirties to lower forties. She was wearing little make up and had that “all-business” look you see in many executives walking through downtown on any given morning. She held herself with obvious authority, but wasn’t overbearing. First impressions being what they are, I was impressed from the outset.
“Thanks, it’s just Alex. Alexander is the guy from Macedonia.”
Katherine smiled and laughed a bit at my humor. “I hear lots, but that may be the first use of a historical reference to differentiate your name. Very erudite of you,” she said while continuing to gesture toward the partially open door.
I walked in a bit red faced by the compliment, “Thanks. That usually goes right over most people’s heads.”
The office was similar to the rest of what I had seen, bare and utilitarian. Before me was a desk, two seats on one side and one seat on the other. The desk as well was sparse, only having a cup for pens and a folder. My picture was paper clipped to the front of that folder. Again, there was nothing on the walls and no pictures to be seen. Before Katherine could begin I asked her, “So why no art? I thought it came with offices like this.”
I don’t know what I expected as an answer, but I certainly didn’t think I would just be looked at me with a bit more interest and not have her answer the question at all. But this is what she did, and then went on with the interview.
Katherine began, “Alex, I would like to thank you for your interest in this position. As this is a revolutionary new concept, we are being more judgmental than you might normally see in deciding who runs Beta for a new product. But with our new interface and redesigned AI, we believe the industry will be turned on its head. For that reason, we aren’t looking for just gamers Alex. We are looking for intelligent and discreet individuals who can not only appreciate what we are bringing to the market, but won’t also feel the need to post constantly about what they are doing. I’m sure you found the initial test we sent you to be different as well.”
“Myers-Briggs,” I said.
Katherine paused again and looked at me with more interest. “That is right,” she said. “We initially used the Myers-Briggs test to determine our first batch of interviewees. I can tell you that you are the first to recognize the test. Well done.”
I had taken the test before when I was in high school and found the results to be spot on, and I remembered it quite clearly. Another pass at the test when I was in my second year in college showed my results had not changed from when I took it the first time. The test asked a series of questions to determine how you viewed others and interacted with your surroundings.
“I may be a gamer Ms. O’Malley, but I wasn’t always a pod-head. I’ve taken the test on two previous occasions and found the results to be spot on. Let me guess, I am an INTJ?” This stood for Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging. This meant, according to the test, I used intuition when gathering data, thinking vice feelings when making a decision, and like rules when dealing with everyday life. The Introvert is self-explanatory.
I had been making a living through gaming for going on 10 years. Pod-head was the common term for someone who spent the majority of their time in the virtual world. This was due to the shape of the virtual reality headset worn by gamers, a giant pod on one’s head to account for four of the five senses. Gloves or full body suits could be worn to account for the sense of feel. A hard core gamer, or one like myself who used the virtual world to earn a livable wage, needed specially designed couches or chairs to accommodate being in the virtual world for hours on end. Those pods were not light and strained neck muscles were a constant occurrence.
“Right you are again Alex,” Katherine said. “We are looking for two particular brand of people for this Beta. INTJ and INFP’s. We think the two working side by side in the game will bring out all it has to offer.” The F and P stood for Feeling and Perceiving, meaning those with F and P traits used their feelings when making decisions and were more loose when it came to having set rules and regulations to follow.
“Your INTJ got you through the door. This interview will determine if you make it to the next phase,” she said. “Let’s begin.”
* * *
The interview process took just over two hours. During that time Katherine asked me several questions about my gaming career and what made me decide to change from casual gaming to making it a job.
“I was sitting in the market square for Odyssey 7, passing the time until friends logged on,” I began. “I was just watching the text pass by on my heads up display with numerous people offering goods for sale. Many of them were selling these items for hard currency. I became intrigued and looked into it more. After I saw an opportunity to make money at something I enjoyed doing, I was hooked.”
The part I didn’t tell her was I could see the people selling didn’t understand market forces at all. They stuck to a price and never wavered. I watched these hawkers for three weeks straight, mapping their selling prices and creating my own price to effort ratio. How much of my effort would go in to getting an item and what price should therefore be associated with the item. Rarity was also a factor. Again, I saw the hawkers online weren’t paying attention to the changing market and couldn’t have guessed at what a market forecast was. Part of my interest in the Beta was to learn about items and rarity in order to have a leg up on the competition when the game went live. I knew I would lose money in the short run being out of the loop. But I hoped I could recoup those losses, and make far more, by having more insight than my competitors.
The second half of the interview centered around role playing through scenarios. Katherine provided a scenario and asked me how I would handle it or what I would do. I figured this is where the Myers-Briggs information was most helpful to them. Since they were looking for a particular character set, they could create school book solutions and judge the responses of the interviewees based on their responses. Most of the scenarios centered around in game activities. What would I do if I came upon an area that was previously unexplored? How would I interact with weaker and less experienced players? Others tested my honesty. What would I do if I was in a group, and just before the end of a fight a glitch disbanded us. I had dealt the most damage before the glitch occurred. So would I keep all the rewards?
I wasn’t sure what Katherine thought a question like this would accomplish. I can’t imagine anyone saying they would steal it all, not if they wanted a job. I mean, be honest; not a single person in a job interview has ever answered the “What is your greatest fault?” question honestly. No one in the history of man has responded with, “I take naps on work time,” or “when no one is around, I steal stamps.” In the end I answered truthfully and said I would share the rewards appropriately. You never know when someone will be a client one day.
Other scenarios didn’t fall quite in line with the in game model. In one such scenario, Katherine said “You are walking along the road one night and see down an alley two men attempting to rob a woman. She is on the floor, crying, and the two men are towering over her. What do you do?”
“Do they have weapons?” I ask
Katherine reviewed her notes and said, “Yes, they both have sticks of some sort.”
“Do I have a weapon?” I ask next.
Katherine smiles and says, “No, you do not.”
“Do I have signal?” I question.
Of the most wonderful advances in technology to come down through the years is the HL-5K communicator. Every person I know has a sub dermal implant in their forearm that allows for instant communication. A small holographic emitter located just below the skin projects a screen of your caller. Those who don’t want to look at their arm while talking can also implant a comms unit in their ear linked to the HL-5K. The only problem with the system is that in some areas, like the more down trodden ones where you might find two guys mugging a helpless woman, don’t always get a signal.
“Yes, you have signal,” Katherine responds.
“I call the police and link them my GPS coordinates and explain to them the situation. So long as they are only robbing the woman I will not interfere. If things become violent I will reassess the situation.” I explain.
The pause in our conversation only lasts five seconds, but to me it feels like an eternity. I wanted to answer the question honestly, and I am no fighter. Katherine finally nodded her head, smiled a little, and says, “That is very INTJ of you.”
“I am who I am,” I reply.
* * *
“Your interview went very well Alex,” Katherine says as she closes the folder with my picture still paper clipped to the front. “There are three things I would like to tell you at this point. The first is that you will be getting a recommendation from me to be given access to the Beta. Second, if you do receive an offer to join our Beta, there is a monetary stipend you will receive to offset your loss of wages as we want you to be able to play as much as possible. And third, there is no art because we find it distracting during the scenarios.”
“Huh?” was the best I could come up with.
Katherine laughed and asked, “Huh for the stipend, or huh for the art?”
“Well, both really,” I answer.
“You make a living playing games. It would be immoral of us to ask you to leave your job and play our game, especially at the level we would like our Beta testers involved. For that reason, the company has decided to offer a stipend that will offset your loss of wages. This should maximize the amount of time you will be able to immerse yourself in the Beta. As for the art; we noticed in the first few interviews that outside stimuli, such as pictures, could warp responses. Interviewees would consciously or subconsciously use what was in the pictures as part of scenario discussions. I’ll be honest with you though; it does make things a bit drab.”