Bitter 476

“Battle royale,” said Britta. “that’s where we all try to kill each other, isn’t it?”

“Last man standing wins,” said Owen. “Or woman. Or whatever.”

“But it says we’re in a raid zone,” said Britta. “Isn’t a raid where you fight monsters?”

“It’s hard to know exactly what it means,” said MrKappa, “but, yeah, usually a raid zone means there’s some big boss monster here that’ll take a bunch of us working together to defeat.”

“So the game wants us to work together to beat a monster, and also fight amongst ourselves, too?” It didn’t make much sense, but then they were only speculating. They didn’t really know what was going on.

“It’s not very often they mix PvE and PvP like this,” said MrKappa, “so maybe there’s more to it. Something we’re missing.”

From what Britta knew about games, most of which came from Dad so was very biased towards his particular views on how games should be played, PvE (player versus environment) was where you fought against computer controlled creations. A raid was where the monsters were so tough you needed a large group of people working together to stand a chance of winning.

She had seen Dad take part in raids, and it had always looked like a chaotic mess. Players coordinated their efforts over group chat so they all knew where to focus their efforts, but it usually devolved into bad language and blaming each other for not doing their assigned jobs. And that was when everyone was on the same side.

Seeing people rage and becoming abusive over a game was not very admirable. Humanity had achieved a lot over the last ten thousand years but they hadn’t overcome their tendency to lose their temper over the smallest things. If it was an important evolutionary tool to be able to get red in the face because your healer was running around in circles to avoid getting hit when he should have been healing you so you didn’t die, then Britta would love to know where nature had intended that ability to come in useful.

There seemed to be an especially mean level of vitriol that the most passionate gamers seemed to think was acceptable. Britta didn’t see why anyone should be subjected to that kind of childish name-calling, reducing others to tears and making them quit the game altogether. Those sort of person was a blight on the gaming community, but he was her Dad, so what could she do?

“Could be that the game is still waiting for players to join,” said MrKappa. “You don’t normally have less than fifty people for a decent battle royale tourney. With this few… people could just camp forever.”

“Camp?” said Britta, not understanding what he meant.

“It’s when someone hides in one spot like a coward,” said MrKappa, “and waits for everyone else to kill each other.”

“Very cheap tactic,” said Owen.

“They wait until there are only a few people left, and then they jump out, fresh as a daisy. Look at me, I’m top three!

“Dull and unsportsmanlike,” said Owen.

“You have to spend the whole game just sitting there, doing nothing.”

“Pathetic,” said Owen.

“Even if you hear people nearby, you stay where you are, doing nothing, motionless like a big bucket of shit.”

“At least a bucket of shit has some uses,” said Owen.

“And when everyone else has done the hard work, taken the risks, used their skills to survive...”

“The way you’re meant to,” said Owen.

“That’s when Sneaky Beaky pops up and shoots them in the back.”

“Deplorable scumbags,” said Owen.

“Shouldn’t be allowed,” said MrKappa

“What’s even is the point of playing like that?” said Owen.

MrKappa turned to Owen. “You’re a camper, aren’t you?”

“It’s the only consistently reliable tactic,” said Owen.

Britta looked at her map. The six dots that weren’t them were spread out. Were they waiting for the game to start? If they needed more players, how was anyone meant to join if no one knew about it? It wasn’t making much sense.

“It definitely hasn’t started yet,” said Owen. “There isn’t a safe zone.”

Britta had also seen Dad play PvP (player versus player) games but she didn’t think they were very interesting. You wandered around until you bumped into someone, and then both people fired wildly at each other while panicking, until someone got lucky. There was probably some sort of skill involved, but Britta had never been able to identify what it was. Battle royale had the added element of a shrinking play area so people were forced to confront each other, which at least speeded things up.

There was no sign of a wall of gas or force field closing in on the map.

“The game hasn’t started yet?” said Britta.

“Doesn’t look like it?” said MrKappa.

“So if we find one of the players quickly enough, we can ask them what’s going on.” It seemed like a reasonable plan.

“I just hope we don’t trigger anything by getting too close to anyone,” said MrKappa.

“It said we’ve already entered the raid zone,” said Britta. “Nothing’s happened so far, has it?”

The three of them paused to listen, as though a klaxon might go off to announce the start of a tournament. The air was still and quiet.

“If we’re going to find these people,” said MrKappa, “we should probably do it sooner than later.”

Britta was about to agree when she noticed the top corner of her screen was flashing. She’d received a PM. She opened it. It was from Dad, or rather, it was from Guildford Underpass.

Hey, I see you. Welcome to the Thunderdome!

Britta had no idea what he meant, but clearly he could see her on his map like she could see him on hers.

Meet me at the northeast corner. Don’t worry, I won’t try to kill you.

That was a strange thing to say. Why would he kill her? Why would he have to even mention it? It wasn’t like he’d bait his own daughter into a trap just to get his first kill.

Would he?

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