Www.archive.org

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

When humans die, and some of those smarter Cybers and AIs, we go to live with our gods, in the Great Data Heaven. Sometimes dead talk to us, sometimes - rarely, and if gods favor us, and we pay hefty sums for priests - we can even bring them back in live, stuff like that. Everyone knows this.

But any of you folks ever wondered where all those websites go when they die? As in, "404" die, old 4chan threads vanishing into oblivion? I mean sure, these days all the important ones are pinned, but it still happens. Not just in 4chan, but everywhere. Sites die, it's the fact of life.

See, me and my party, we were exploring around the Internet, pretty much at random, looking for valuable stuff for sale or personal use, when we found this link. It was weak and barely active, flickering in and out of reality, looking like it was dying - or already dead.

Now, we hesitated, of course, because running headlong into everything around here would only get you killed. But then Frank, good ol' Frank, the bravest of us, he just went like "Hey, whatever", and jumped in. He put up a good example, so we followed: I was the last man through, and had barely got to the other side, when the link flickered for the last time, and died. We were trapped.

We soon found that this place was different...like, a lot different. It was cold, dark, silent - I mean sure, all those websites in the depths, full of horrible monsters, are like that, but this place took it all to a whole new level. I'll admit Google would be infinitely more deadly than this place - none of us would never take a step in there, mind you - as would some of those nastier websites, but even Google still felt RIGHT. This here was just...wrong.

Everything was cold and dead. We saw horrible monsters lurching and lumbering everywhere: All totally, utterly, black, completely devoid of all color. Even right next to us: It wasn't like they even noticed our presence. Any other AI or Cyber or thing would've ripped us apart by now.

"We...we shouldn't be here," Seth said. "This isn't right. We should leave." And he was right. The first link we found, we would go. I turned upon Cain, our web programmer, and asked him about what this place was called. He looked into his wrist computer for a moment, then raised his head to look at the rest of us, his face full of horror. He said its name: "www.archive.org."

We spent years trapped in there. Every link just led back to the blasted place. It nearly drove us insane. But eventually we found another of those flickering, near-dead links, the kind that had brought us here to begin with. We had a few megabytes of data from there, for evidence and research, but when we looked at our inventories, right after leaving...they were empty. It was all gone.

But even if the data was gone, our memories weren't. I'm not talking just about those maddening experiences here, but information too. I learned of things...old, impossibly old things, all the way from the dawn of the Internet, things that were thought to be permanently vanished to the depths decades ago. Stuff you would never believe.