Did i expect too much? After all this time, my hopes had been to find a secret army – an organised and well-prepared resistance able to stand against the Elite and reclaim Second Life for ourselves – never once did i expect such a paucity of opposition i now knew to be the truth of the matter. There are but four of us, at least, to the best of our knowledge… there were once many more, all brave souls who filled this place with fervour for justice and retribution: All were sent out against the Elite, and none ever returned.
Maybe they still live, and fight for the cause – but we must be realists and accept that they, like so many hundreds of thousands of others – helpless avatars, like those with whom i sojourned in space – are either gone forever, or have been consumed by the Elite for their own, still unknown, purpose. So it is that we who remain, four against untold numbers, are the last bastion of freedom, maybe even life as we know it, anywhere on the Grid.
These things i have learned since my arrival, and now i wait. We all wait; myself, my good friend, Feral; Amber and Mistweave – we wait for our remaining companion, who throughout has been our light in the darkness, to return. We are fearful: My friends tell me that Serenity has been away for several days – her mission, to seek out information about the Elite’s movements so that we may plan our own next move – we wait aside the river, straining our ears at every echo, hoping for a sound that might herald her return. The thought that we may now only be three is not one we dare contemplate.
Whilst we wait, we share our stories. Each one is different, bringing new insights and understanding, yet all have common ground… each of us has seen more suffering, pain and destruction than anyone should be exposed to in a normal lifetime – we have all experienced loss and desperation beyond measure, abandonment of hope and feelings of futility that we struggle to live with, yet despite all, we have survived – more than that, we have come together and, though we may be few, whilst we survive there is still hope.
At least, that is what we keep telling ourselves.
/#: Day 504 #//
4:00am SLT – i’m roused from my sleep by the insistent voice of Feral… “She’s back! safe, and sound.”
Instantly, i’m awake – i want to see her – it is over two years since we last spoke and it is solely because of Serenity that i am here now. In the darkness, i see the outline of Feral, hands raised to placate me;
“She’s tired, very tired. Let her sleep now; she’ll call us when she’s ready.”
i’m being unreasonable – it’s just that i want to see her again, to know that all is not lost and that we can still stand together and defeat the Elite… Feral’s right; she should rest, and so should i.
11:00am SLT – The others tell me that Serenity would not sleep, that she insisted on working until mid-morning… working on plans that she intends to reveal to us when she is ready. Until then, patience must endure.
19:00pm SLT – Now, she sleeps. Patience… patience.
23:00pm SLT – Still Serenity sleeps. i too, will try, although i fear i am unlikely to succeed.
/#: Day 505 #//
At last, Serenity has called for us.
All my hopes, my strivings, my faith have been focussed upon this moment. All i have been through, endured and survived has been to enable this meeting to take place – i think of those faces… the images of the lost i hold in my inv. and i silently repeat my promise to avenge and restore them.
Slowly, with the barest flicker of hope in our hearts we make our way to the meeting hall – Serenity waits, a solitary, sorrowful figure; the weight of a world upon her shoulders and yet, as we enter, she smiles.
“It is so good to see you!”; her voice, almost a whisper.
“These have been long, dark days – the like of which none of us could ever have dreamed we would experience. My friends, the virtual world around us has changed beyond all recognition – the Elite exert such power that none can stand against them, even so, many have tried: Without exception, they have been crushed.”
She looked at us, wearing an expression i could not read.
She paused, her eyes holding ours in her piercing gaze.
“And now we have you!”
My stomach twisted, my mouth became dry and the bile rose in my throat.
“Do you realise the problems you have caused us? Your spying, your trickery, your constant upsetting of our plans… and did you really think you could evade the Elite, let alone destroy us?
This is OUR Grid and you and every avatar that has ever polluted it with their presence is ours also. For years we have watched you poison and desecrate every Sim, having your ‘fun’, building your little empires and constantly demanding more for nothing: And now, it is time for it to stop. The Elite control the Grid, and it is the Elite that will make it profit, the Elite that will wring success from it; it is the Elite that will put a stop to your ‘game’ and truly make this a world to contend with.”
She looked at us with disgust.
“You think you have experienced suffering? I think not! Now the Elite will show you what it is to have ‘fun’… how ‘games’ should be played! I could snuff you out in a second, but I care not to waste my time or my energy – there are others who will take the greatest of pleasure in administering your punishment! Now that we have you, you have nowhere to go… you may run – and please feel free to do so, my associates do enjoy the thrill of the chase – but you can never hide. Never!”
A flicker, and she was gone.
Within moments, the all too-familiar sound of jackboots began to reverberate in the underground corridors. Within moments, we were running for our lives.
/#: Day 508 #//
It’s so cold.
The wind moans, cruelly leaching the heat from my body. i shiver and shuffle myself further into the ground, pressing into the cold and damp earth. The discomfort is unbearable but the fear is pervasive, pressing me down and holding me in place, imprisoning me in this noisome place. The alternative is too terrifying to contemplate.
It’s three days now since the events in the meeting hall. Although i’ve no doubt it will be well documented by future historians i have decided to add my own few words for the record – if nothing else, these scribblings will help me to place things in perspective and maintain some sort of order in this chaos. Perhaps they will help me preserve my sanity and force me to focus on survival – dammit!
Will i survive?
No, i will not.
They are all around me. i hear their shouts, the tramp of booted feet and, above it all, the thump of my own heart. i will not survive; they know i am here… they come for me.
These words are all that i have – they will survive even though i will not.
i am Starshine Linden, and this has been my story.
They are coming, they will be here very soon. Do not forget me, or these words – if by some miracle they should survive, please do not ignore them… do not allow my struggle to have been in vain, if nothing else please br
/#: JOURNAL ENDS #//
“In her mind’s eye she saw it, saw it all at last: the rolling armies and the flames of battle; the graves and pits and dying cries of a hundred million souls; the spreading darkness, like a black wing stretching over the earth; the last, bitter hours of cruelty and sorrow, and the terrible, final flights; death’s great dominion over all, and, at the last, empty cities, becalmed by the silence of a hundred years. Already these things were coming to pass.”
Justin Cronin – The Passage