DIVA: Pick-Up Team

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Fri Apr 22 08:41:50 PDT 2016

It's difficult sometimes to write self-contained stories, because I always feel 
like asking 'but what happens next?' even if it's short.  For the sake of 
creating content, though, and introducing a new group of readers to the 
shenanigans inherent in the wonderful little section of the DiVerse called 
'Devworld', I've crafted a delightful (I hope) oneshot that follows!


Pick-Up Team: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Colin Stokes


Death didn't exist in the Devworld; not in the traditional sense.

It was a game world, or felt awfully like one if it wasn't.  There were safe 
zones and danger zones, statistics and leveling and skills and all, even if 
no manual existed to explain things fully.  And there was health, of a sort, 
and when it was depleted-

As it was about to be, Alessandra thought with a wince as she felt, more than 
saw, her energy reserves and shielding dropping; the Devworld was a very 
physical place, after all-

When your health was depleted fully, the world would fragment and glitch out 
and fuzz and fade, and after a period of blackness you'd be back in the 
nearest safe zone.  No one really knew how long the blackness lasted, but it 
always felt different each time; and every time, there was a nagging 
sensation that you'd forgotten something, something or someone, and it might 
have been an important memory, but there was no way to know now...

Some players - they all called each other players, even if some were here 
permanently and some only temporarily - said that it got easier with time, 
that the nagging feeling didn't bother you so much.  Alessandra wasn't 
reassured.  She'd only been 'restored' (the common term) twice, and she 
didn't like it at all.  Twice was two times too many, in her opinion - who 
knew what was really happening?

But now it looked like she was up for a third round of uncertainty.  She 
cursed in the name of some old forgotten god she didn't even believe in any 
more, and tried to skate away from the crowd with one of the few Wave skills 
left to her, boosting her speed and dropping her frictional coefficient.

It wasn't enough.  The Chaos Construct closest to her let out a staticky 
warble as it sprouted a mortar tube and launched a dull gray projectile with 
a *bwoop*.  It arced through the air perfectly, and impacted just in front of 
her with a thunderous crash - would've been on top of her, if she hadn't 
canceled the skill moments before.

As it was, Alessandra found herself on her back, glowing red fractures now 
spiderwebbed dangerously across her black metallic skin.  Maybe a beast form 
would have been better for running, but she didn't think the Constructs would 
be so... /aggressive/ here, this close to a major connection.  So much for 
safe practice grounds.

The sound of the Constructs' staticky calls got louder as she painfully 
struggled to a sitting position - pain was still a thing, fortunately, 
otherwise the Devworld players would have gone insane from the sheer 
unreality of the world a long time ago.  At least her health was low enough 
already that there wouldn't be much more pain to get through.

Her shielding wasn't even regenerating now and she only had a sliver of 
energy to use, not enough to power a single skill.  Helpless, Alessandra 
resigned herself to a third restoration, and waited nervously for the 
blackness to take her.

The lead Construct let out another of those chilling warbles and morphed 
again, deploying a four-pronged short-range beam array that started crackling 
with multicolored energy, making the sound of a flock of tiny, angry 
electronic birds.  As the charge and sound built, it advanced further across 
the slate-gray hexagonal ground tiles-

And shattered into static data fragments as a massive, gleaming crimson lance 
punched through it laterally at high velocity and winked out of existence 
shortly after.  Alessandra just stared in disbelief as she was pelted by 
little droplets of data, like rain, collecting them automatically as they 
touched her.

The other Constructs rotated to address the new threat.  Alessandra turned as 
well, and she saw her savior: a humanoid, not a beast form, which was even 
more impressive given the sheer power output of that lance.  Dark silver skin 
with a gleaming crimson emblem in the center - she couldn't make it out at 
this distance - and heavy armor covering the arms and legs, tinged a duller, 
less luminous red.  Well, of course this new person was a Shield, she thought 
with a sigh of relief.  That lance was one of the more advanced skills, 
though it was pretty impressive to be able to take out the Construct's core 
with a single blow-

The armor melted away and reformed, floating above the figure's shoulders and 
head as the triple-halo of a powerful Wave - far greater than Alessandra 
herself - and the figure made an expansive gesture.  With a bass note that 
nearly put her on her back again, the hex tiles under the Constructs pulsed 
with an ominous carmine gleam - and launched them into the air without 

A second figure, this one all black with jets of blue-white energy escaping 
its seams, slid out from beside the first and took up an aiming posture.  
Alessandra just stared, even more amazed, as the ranged Blade - a Blade for 
the moment, at any rate; how could a player /shift/ like that?! - Realized a 
winged, long-barred launcher that shone a brilliant gold.  She wasn't sure 
which was more impressive: the top-quality design that had probably come from 
serious searching and battling, or the five shots fired in quick succession 
without reloading.  Most launchers were considered 'overpowered' (or, to be 
fair, 'ridiculous') if they had even /three/!

The projectiles, winged themselves, shrieked through the air and detonated in 
a tightly-packed series of staccato thunderclaps, each one striking true.  
And once again, data fragments rained down, filling Alessandra's inventory.

She just sat there, not entirely sure what had just happened, as her savior 
(plus one) came over and shifted back to the heavy-armor Shield regalia; how 
that was done outside of a safe zone, she had no idea.  But she wasn't going 
to complain as the other player bathed her in a regenerative field, and the 
fractures in her skin sealed up and her shielding and energy started building 
back up.  "Uh.  Th- thank you," Alessandra managed, still a little in shock.  
"I don't know what I would've done if you hadn't come along.  I mean, I know 
what would've /happened/, but-"

"Are you okay?"

It was a vaguely feminine voice, but not very much so.  Voices were a little 
difficult to render sometimes; but then, the Devworld didn't have much in the 
way of intimate physical interaction - at least not in /that/ sense - so sex 
and gender were tenuous concepts at best.

The question confused her a little, too.  "Well, um, yes, you healed me back 
to full, thank you," Alessandra returned, hesitantly.

The other lady - for lack of any other definite characteristics - shook her 
head.  "Numbers only go so far."  She had a surprising gentleness to her tone 
for someone so accomplished in battle skills.  "Are you /okay/?"

Alessandra took in a deep breath - not that it was strictly necessary - and 
let it out, looking up at the deep violet sky (almost but not quite black) 
and its eternal starlight that transitioned to featureless gray mist at the 
horizon.  "You know," she mused quietly, coming to her feet, "I think I am."

"That's good, then," came the reply.

"I, uh," Alessandra began, wanting to fill the awkward silence that had 
suddenly formed, "I'm Alessandra!  Or- Or just Lessa because it doesn't take 
so long to say so if you want to call me that then that's fine too!"

A soft laugh.  "Nice to meet you, Lessa.  My name is... Lexicon, I guess, and 
this is my partner Stratos."

Stratos, still venting bluish energy from its seams, made a little bow at the 
waist before returning to its spot behind Lexicon's right shoulder.

"It's nice to meet you too, um, Lexicon; can I call you Lexi, is that okay?"

Lexicon nodded after a moment.  "It's only fair, I suppose."

"Then- ah, do you mind if I ask some questions?  I'm awfully curious..."

Stratos flared a little, and Lexicon just laughed again.  "I was heading to 
the Third Dynasty Gate, so I've got a ways to go.  If you're willing to come 
along, I wouldn't mind the questions in exchange for the company; there'll be 
plenty of time for whatever's on your mind, I think."

Alessandra brightened, and started Wave-skating after the other lady as she 
led the way out of the area.  "Gosh, where do I even start...?"

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