Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flash Fiction: Doppelganger

This is for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction challenge, A Second Game of Aspects

In case you're curious, I rolled three ten sided dice (3d10 for those of you who speak RPG nerd) to generate my aspects randomly. The subgenre was Cyberpunk, the Setting was Inside a Massively-Multiplayer game, and the Element to Include was Cloning. 



Is it murder or suicide to kill your doppelganger?
            I’m not normally the philosophical sort. I leave the heavy questions to the n00bs in Nixeroth tavern who gather to flame each other in between quests. But I’m in a mess for killing my doppelganger, so it’s worth consideration.
            “Do you understand?” The Night Elf chick asked me.
            I wanted to ask her if she wanted to cyber, but now wasn’t the time. She must be trying to make a name for herself, by volunteering to talk to me. I didn’t have to check her character stats to know her alignment was True Neutral. They like to fancy themselves arbitrators of justice. I called them fence-sitters.
            “What crime? My doppelganger is me, uploaded and imprinted into EverWorld of Dungeons. We’re the same person. I even chose to look the same in cyberspace as I do in the meatspace.” I flexed my muscles.
            “That’s not the point.” She frowned. Her face showed faint lines in between her eyebrows. It was amazing how far technology had come.
            “I’m the real victim here.” I looked down at my hands. Better play remorseful. “I watched myself die. I watched the light leave my own eyes. I didn’t sleep for a week.”
            Some of the lack of sleep was because my guild raided the Flame Dragon of Ooga’lith’s Lair for some epic loot, but still.
            “You still killed someone. Even if that person was yourself.”
            “So it’s suicide then. It was a cry for help. Someone should have saved me from myself.” I couldn’t help but grin at my own cleverness.
            The elf chick looked at me like she wanted to use her wand of Flame Strike to cow me into submission. “It can’t be suicide. You’re still here.”
I wondered if her meatspace counterpart was this hot. Probably not. Double D’s were pretty standard in EverWorld of Dungeons, along with super revealing armor. For women the more revealing the armor, the higher armor bonus you got. She must have a +30 to her armor class, at least.
She might not even be a she. It wouldn’t be the first time a guy went home with a Level 20 elf in a +25 flaming chainmail bikini only to find out her meatspace doppelganger was a dude. Some guy actually sued when he found out the she he cybered with was a he, but the courts threw it out. The laws haven’t quite caught up to the technology yet.
            “It’s not murder, either,” I said. “I’m not dead. Completely.”
            She sighed.
            I had her, and she knew it. It was illegal to kill someone in meatspace; it was illegal to True Death someone in cyberspace. But there weren’t any laws saying you couldn’t True Death your doppelganger in cyberspace, or kill your doppelganger in meatspace.
            “Do you know what this means?” The corners of her mouth turned down slightly. “If other people figure out how to you did it, they can True Death a doppelganger from the meatspace, or kill someone from cyberspace.”
           That really wasn’t my problem. “And? I doubt they’ll be able to kill other people. It’s doppelganger versus doppelganger that people need to be worried about.”
            I caught a look of fear before her face smoothed back into True Neutrality. I would have been scared myself. My meatspace doppelganger had been intimately connected to me. Before I offed him, we shared the same thoughts and feelings. I knew him like I knew myself--and I was an asshole.
            Maybe she had something to worry about too. Maybe the worse thing about her meatspace counterpart wasn’t that she was a he.  
It was just the two of us. People were still talking outside in the marketplace about bringing charges against me, but on who’s authority? The people in the meatspace? We’d already set precedent that meatspace laws could not be upheld in cyberspace; that would lead to chaos. And in EverWorld of Dungeons, there were no higher authorities. It was just player versus player in the purest sense.
She leaned in, her chair scratching against the wooden floor of the Harpy’s Nest tavern. I got a much better view of her cleavage. “How did you do it?”
I grinned. Ahhh, the real reason why she said she’d talk to me privately. True Neutral my dancing Dwarvish butt. “Why do you want to know?”
She looked over her shoulder, like someone I couldn’t see was watching her.
“Is your doppelganger logged in?”
“Not yet.”  She shivered. “I’ve started to move. Even when she’s not online.”
“Were you created at the start of the server?”
My theory was right. A handful of us could move around without our doppelgangers signed on. We’d all been around since the start of the server. The amount of hours spent logged on had aggregated into something resembling a soul.
Some of them had already been True Deathed by their own doppelgangers. I know my doppelganger certainly freaked out when he realized I ran the Shards of Destiny quest without his clumsy fingers tying me down. He’d considered deleting me too, but I was in a top tier guild. I was too valuable to delete.
“I think she’s going to delete me.”
“Tell me how you did it. Tell me, and I’ll make sure you don’t get into trouble.”
I wasn’t going to be in trouble anyway. I guess I’m just a sucker for a damsel in distress. “A virus. In his headset. It went straight into his brain when he was imprinting his memories for the day.”
“I know.” I stretched. “Maybe we should go back to my place. I can show you the particulars.”
I brought her back to my mansion to show her a thing or two about downloading.
I was free. No more cancer, no more dying, just me, in cyberspace.

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