The Virtues of Strife

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This is a companion fluff story for the /tg/ homebrew game Server Crash.

"The first thing you feel is cold. Even the ones who are born-'lectric, those who don't have a word for it, they know they're cold."

Snikt...Snikt-Snikt...Snikt-Snikt...Snikt-Snikt-Snikt. Below his robes, something-several somethings sounded like they were slithering and clicking across the floor, like some big nasty Cyber with scales bellying across a page.

"The hairs on the back of your neck rise. You start to twitch involuntarily."

Snikt-Snikt-Snikt-SNIKT. The others were pushing their chairs away from the table, the SK looking for all the 'net like a man with a shotgun pressed up a nostril.

"You might smell rotten meat. Sickly sweet, pungent, engrossing."

You could've heard a pin drop. You could've heard a lurker tracking a surfer - in Wiki. There could've been a /b/arbarian crusade passing right outside our door and not a soul would move or react. They'd keep watching what was going on.

Snikt...Snikt...Snikt...Snikt. He was standing before the kiddie. The braggart was sweating bullets.

"And then a little part of your meatbrain in the back from way back when we used to climb up trees to hide from tigers tells the big part of your brain in the front a very important message: 'Shit yourself. Because you're terrified of something that's going to eat you in the dark.'"

The SK lets out a whimper and starts to tremble. The place seems darker. The man puts his hands to the belt holding the folds of his robe tightly to his chest. I can see from the sides that the bottom of his robes seem to be shaking, frantically.

"An Old is an Old. You'll know it when you see it. There's nothing else that can describe the experience, because each one is different to the other, but yet, somehow exactly the same. -Because every fucking time someone sees an old, they're ALWAYS scared halfway out of their code and terrified that the rest of their lifetime is going to be utter torment unimaginable and that it is going to last a very, VERY LONG TIME!!"

He's calm. He's perfectly calm. He's the picture of stoic. He is the avatar of rationality. Not a single trace of a madman who was standing just where he was a nanosecond before screaming, hissing, and throwing spittle down a man's throat. A man currently knocked out of his chair, a piss-stain spreading around his pants. He's standing over the script kiddie. He hasn't moved since the outburst- except for his hands, playing with the cord on his robes.

"I was one of the first ones who tracked the lines down to the NORAD fort. One of the first Herders, when it was downright dangerous to be one of my kind. They thought the distractions would come in hand. They did, several times."

He paused. "It wasn't enough."