Still a rough draft, will edit later.
“What the hell did you do?” I asked, looking at the ornate clock on the wall. Only six hours have passed since I got the game…? Wait.
“Time warp.” I looked at Carlos, who still grinned widely. “That what it does, right?”
The wolf nodded. “Yeppers! You now have control over the game time.”
“Game time.” I turned the phrase over a bit. “But not real time?” He nodded again. “But how much time have I spent in this game anyway?”
A small notebook appeared in Carlos’s hand, and he riffled through the pages. “Eighteen hours of your two week trial period.” He closed it, and it disappeared.
“Already?! How did that time fly by?” A fleeting image of me and Moose in the bedroom passed through my mind, and I blushed a bit. “Never mind…uhm, about those achievements?”
A throat cleared. “I think we can leave them at the door, m’boy,” a husky baritone said.
I swiveled around to find a slender man lounging behind an ornate mahogany desk. He wore an impeccably tailored green plaid suit.
“A greeting,” he said. “I am Customer Service representative number zero-one-eight-three, name of Gerome Hall.”
I looked at Carlos, then back at the newcomer. “Uhm…”
“Your case has been moved to the second level, and I was-“ here he paused a moment “-asked to look into it. And I might say, sir, that you have proven to be an interesting case indeed.”
I looked back at Carlos, but he didn’t respond. In fact, I got the strong feeling that he was trying to look as small and inconspicuous as possible, despite his size. “Really now?”
The man tented his hands, showing off a selection of jeweled rings. Even the suit sparkled a bit at the movement. “Indeed. You see, you were given a highly experimental version of the True to Form game. Kimera Enterprises feels that although you might damage your computer with this version, it might give us a first-hand look into this new version.” He smiled a brilliant smile, reminding me of the receptionist at the office. “All we ask you to do is to have a few environmental-slash-realitorical filters installed into the software itself.”
I glanced back at Carlos, who looked away.
“Oh, I would not worry about Eighty-Seven if I were you. As Mister Mackay must have told you,” he said, waving dismissively at the gigantic wolf, “this is nothing more than a small fraction of the main server-slash-personnel interface.”
“Now,” he continued, clasping his hands together again and smiling toothily, “shall we get down to business? As I said, we just need to install a few filters, which will help you prevent any future glitches that you experienced a few hours ago.”
“Out of curiosity,” I said, “but what if I do not to them?”
The smile, impossible as it may seem, grew more brilliant. “According to the Terms and Agreements of the Beta Testing Contract, Kimera Enterprises will take action into the testing itself. Actions, I might say, that I have every permission to grant.”
I did not like the threat given, and I told him so.
“My dear associate,” he said, leaning forward, “As I said before, you have an untested version of the game. One that was given to you by mistake, I am sorry to say. We are only looking after you and your interests.”
He picked up a sheet of paper. “Now, it says here that you are enjoying the –ahem- fruits of a side-game,” the smile grew lascivious and I blushed slightly, “which is alright, because it does help with us see if we can get an extension for the main game. Of course, that requires no filters at all, and if you would like to keep using that side-game, you only have to agree not to use any other facets of the game.”
“Of course. You will be allowed to make new characters, that is a given, but you won’t be allowed to change anything once they are created.”
I was about to say that I was not allowed to do that anyway, but he went on.
“Also, any environmental changes, achievements for example, will not be given. Of course, you will be allowed to keep what you have already, which should not be mess anything up. Except for Timewarp. Something able to mess with server time should never have been programmed into the game. Hm.”
He started to shuffle papers on his desk, apparently looking for something.
“A moment, sir… a-hah!” He pulled out a paper from the stacks with a flourish and handed it to me. “Here are the terms and conditions that we discussed. By accepting this paper, you are agreeing to the terms thereof. Nothing too much to worry about, of course.”
I glanced at it. On it was a word-for-word transcript of the discussion we had, including what he just said. Everything looked alright, so I took it.
“Excellent.” And he snapped his fingers.
“That was odd,” he said, riffling through papers. He pulled a few out and handed them over to Carlos. “Look these over, will you?”
Carlos read through them. “Hm.”
“I was about to tell you,” I said as he kept on riffling through the papers. “I already had the settings fixed.”
He looked up at me. “What did you say?”
I told him what the other person told me and what Carlos said before. How that happened and the achievements I got to get around that.
Carlos nodded, still reading the papers. “Apparently, that was so, sir. Someone already fixed the environmental settings.”
“That is odd,” the man said again, reading a paper. “No idea who did that?”
“Well, I guess we can try the new settings out now,” he said, gesturing for Carlos to hand back the papers. He looked at me and smiled brilliantly. “Keep in mind that your experiences in this stage will be most useful for when we get this new version off the ground.”
“You lost me,” I said.
The smile faded into a puzzled frown. “As you said before, the environmental settings were fixed so that you couldn’t do anything about them. This couldn’t be done; Phil had no authority for that. Even I couldn’t do that. I had permission from my superiors.” He sighed. “Well, no sense in crying over spilled milk.” He started straightening out the piles. “I guess we can test things out, just to make sure that the game is doing fine.” He looked at Carlos, who shrugged. “Alright, let’s take something from your files, hm?”
I was still adrift, and this got me even more. “You can get into my computer?”
He waved this aside. “Only whatever Carlos found. However, he should have found that the settings were fixed in the first place. This makes no sense at all…” He shook his head.
“Well, Moose did say he read my stories,” I looked at the wolf, who nodded. “How about something from there?”
“An excellent idea!” He took a pack of cards from a drawer and gave them a few riffles. Then he fanned them out in his hand, smiling. “Pick a card. Any card.”
“Ah yes.” He put the cards down. “I do owe you an explanation. What we are doing is testing a few things out. Most of the filters were already put into place, which doesn’t make any sense to me, but still…” He shrugged. “So now we are testing it with all the filters in place. If everything is alright, then we will conclude the session complete, and you can enjoy the rest of your trial period without any trouble.” He gestured to the cards. “So, go ahead and pick one.”
I looked at them and picked a green one.
“Ah, nice choice,” he said, and snapped his fingers.