Roguelike C@T

When I was fairly new to GameLit short fiction.

They called it war chalk, a specialized means of notifying other hackers whether certain places were hostile to open connectivity.

An underground sub culture, the under ground world of cracks in the walls. She had heard about things in her young years, however do to her aching legs as she wore her Bostons out in the world, she never braved herself to venture herself far into the technological wilds. She had been a portly child, not much smaller than a balloon. She would bounce up, up, and up as she went up, down, up, and down again over, over, and over the hills and rolling downwards. Full stop, the British English phrase applied to the city lights. Alissa the gamer, Alissa the hacker. Alissa the loser of the world, and armed only with pepper spray was attacked by boys with switch blades. But today would not be that day, and she ran, ran, ran, and slowed down to a walk.

She was pinned down by the boy.

-- So you thought you could get away from me, he said. He pointed at her menacingly.

-- Bye now, road kill. Alissa said.

-- What did you--

But before he could finish he was ran over by the train, herself barely missing the hit. He was pulverized, his parents mourning. Her parents were furious, and paddled her for losing her right hand.

But she didn't need it.

She was a lefty. And this lefty who hid her smoking habits from her parents, despite being thirteen was the only way to cope with the bullshit called life. She had gotten into rogue likes on a whim, after watching movies about alien invasions. But she became bored with speculative fiction, she wanted to live her own personal fiction, as her own alternate ego. She wanted to become part of the digital life.

Her life, her story.

At night she programs minor programs after school classes, writing class in Ruby for different kinds of functionalities, Super Bin being the latest program.

Designed to target specific programs, then write over these for twelve circles using a random algorithm, so that the more one write over a specific file the more expensive it becomes to completely recover a document, program, or image. You can use such functionality within the scope of War Chalk scanners, scanning for various open network ports within the city. She goes to the city to walk by a specific chain restaurant, marking it with a closed nodal connection to warn other hackers. This way those more experienced with breaking into connections, with more experience under their belt, can break into networks.

Alissa prefers to write minor viruses not affiliated with the inter webs, because of suddenly the web of social networking were to completely get sizzled over night, she can still spread viruses through earning the trust of various people in the real life, and sneaking onto their computer to various programs Ruby and Batch files:

SET a1=A; SET a2=L; SET a3=I: SET a4=S; SET a5=S; SET a6=A

ECHO %a1% %a5% %a3% %a2% %a6% %a4%


She had been hesitant to learn Batch programming. She was unsure how closely Batch was to C++ programming. She wanted to program a virus that turned her entire computer into a rogue like game.

Yet as she applied the code, her computer didn't shut down. She expecting her computer to just fart out dead, and she would have to turn it back on, but instead found herself pulled into a world of wired fairies, dragons, and other creatures in ASCII text. She fought in various classes in the science fantasy setting, whether that was a dragon depicted as a D, or a Wivern as a W, and so on. She walked through various dungeons, until falling for the first time. Yet she was caught by a young cyborg knight.

-- This isn't like most Rogue like games you know.

-- I thought some games didn't have an info dumper. Said Alissa.

-- Alissa, if that's your name. This is not a game. We are in grave danger. The cyborg night girl jerked her by the wrist, and gave her deck. Alissa injected a batch file that turned the dragon into weasel. She thought shot the weasel with her in game cross bow, and the battle was over.

-- What did you do?

-- I injected a virus that turned it into another monster to make it easier to kill, tweaking the code.

To the night, the girl seemed like she was pulling things out of thin air, but she knew that this was merely a game. Or so she thought. But she found herself unable to close the game. And when she fell, she bled. She wore a bandits hood on her head that ripped on the sharp rocks. With her two little wooden shoes, she found it difficult to walk at first. But eventually was able to pull herself back up. Unable to balance, she almost fell. Held up straight by the knight depicted as a K, she collapsed into his her embrace.

-- Most realistic game ever.

-- You are not in a game.

It was one of those communities, she remembered. In any one you might find, there was at least one dumb enough to build a Linux distribution based on their favorite bargain store. With her old group of friends, these were numerous. Never mind the fact they betrayed their on principles about strict anti-consumerism, when they can indulge in whatever cheap prices they can find on flat screen televisions, now currently prone to exploits such as Weeping Angel. Never mind if the new distribution had installed back doors, allowing their favorite bargain store to target them with advertising. After all, it's only a user-installed back door, and not Proprietary spy ware.

She had lost contact with these friends for months, preferring the glow of rogue like games. Yet now as she wandered into the village of the fantasy world of C@t, she began to crave leaving the game. Yet this game would not allow her to leave so easily.

-- There is an evil king at the bottom of her prison, I always knew we shouldn't have made the dungeon so big, but architects never listen to anybody. It was one of those seemingly generic flights of dialogue one might expect from an NPC, yet others still had more life like conversations, design to be based on random conversation non player characters bring up. No matter how many choices you program, it's still an AI and Artificially Intelligence has their limits.

Except for the Knight she had encountered.

In some ways she did not seem like a program, but another form of intelligence like herself. And it is this, perhaps, that made Alissa the most uncomfortable, but also morbidly curious. After all what would happen if she injected the character with self-replicating codes, ones designed to write themselves randomly across the terminal. Only she had somehow been injected into this fantasy world, a world where although traditionally they would have been depicted as ASCII text, instead they were people like her with their own programmed subtext and interactions. Even for AI, it was weird seeing some up close. After all she merely thought of them as binary ones and zeros.

She only thought of them as part of the game.

Part of a generic game engine.

An engine of self-replication. She found herself new friends, friends that would not--at least for now, not betray their own principles.

The program simply couldn't write it.

Alissa once wanted to make a video game. It was a game about a band of boys, who wanted to fly. There was a kind of double meaning, as the term gradually came to be redefined as wanting to eventually commit suicide. Despite having never been part of the suicide club culture in Japan, she had began to write a story about a similar thing. Alissa had a rough road of it on her own, having acquired the knowledge of what meant to come to Purgatory just down the road from the 6th street, and always comes knocking at your door step. But there was never was a black horse of the apocalypse, or anything symbolizing death. It was the isolation, the boredom, the assault on her lungs. The breath of fresh air having pancakes despite going a year without.

Part of those boys lived on inside her mind, as she played C@T. From time to time, as she reclined on her belly fat, she hallucinated of other teenagers inside the game translucent in nature, being liked ghosts in the virtual world none as the rooms in ASCII. Yet somehow the ASCII had managed to become alive through the computer virus that she had created to modify the rouge like. Little did she know that it would cause the artificial intelligence to become lifelike in nature, like characters in other novels flittering like Uploaded Fairies on the net. Alissa had no need to browse for open or closed connections, she was part of a larger world with its own way of things. As she scattered about into random bits of data, gradually building herself up into becoming whole. Life, like a stillness, can seem like a boring bowl fruit. And yet in this abstract surreality, there is a whole other layer of reality beyond the world of code and flesh, the slipstream where the two blend into one. This world was always there, some call it the human brain. Call it whatever you want, it wasn't anything like sneaker net.

It also wasn't like this.

It also wasn't like being chased by Seraph Viruses. And in this world, as she explored the world with her ASCII friend the knight. She found herself stalked by a certain kind of cult member, one species of witch one primarily finds on the net. One that has no central governing body, one that isn't ruled by a single seer. And as she gets lost, fighting abstract letters, she blends.

She bleeds out in ASCII. She has become ASCII.

It was her heart bleed.

She would make at first simple programs, such as ones that simply said hello world. She would move on to her first attempts at making video games. But these first attempts, when she wasn't doing simple battle system in Ruby, where little more than using stills to fight enemies. While she still hasn't quite gotten the hang of using attribute accessors, she knew that globals were the only way initialization variables wouldn't reset. People telling her not to use them likely only had experience programming calculators, web servers, and other mundane tasks. Even people she knew that worked on rogue like games, focused on using abstract symbols rather than the English language, or Francaise if you were French or from certain parts of Canada. Yet she had no interest in symbolism outside of the world of novels, poetry, and short stories about long lost Lenora, like Arragon losing her head.

She wanted to live her own coding life.

Her own life instead.

Yet now she was a code.

It bit.

This isn't the story of picture books or middle grade novels, or the stories of girls from the 19th century in wooden shoes battling class warfare while their friends spin old fashioned knitting machines in factories ran by masters far wealthier that can afford a Turkey dinner, and sell little boys off to men before becoming members of thieves guilds. Alissa was her own special kind of thief, in our world they called these sole proprietors. There was never any need to launder money, because she never earned a nickel in her affairs. Despite being thirteen, she had experienced life far more than most people in their early thirties. By eight she was already becoming middle aged, and cynical about the world around her, after her teachers had said, "We think Alissa's needs are better explored through public schooling."

The school would later become half private school and half Church. Until they went on to becoming a magnet school, moving into another building, and continuing to strangle kids. Yet now in the world of ASCII graphics and procedural generation, there was never any private schools to be kicked out of. There was never anyone to say she could indulge in her own personal fantasies, exploring the darkest layers of game play catacombs. She had been playing for so long she didn't remember whether she had built the game, or simply found it. By this point she had modified it enough where it no longer made a difference. The difference, though finite, was another to seemingly send her off into a world of her own making.

A world where girls lose their heads.

A world where no dungeon is ever the same.

A world where each story is always different.

She wanted to live in her own personal fantasy world, a world where humans as ASCII binary depictions had a certain kind of sentience. She didn't want to belong to a particular hero's journey, or follow the plot of mediocre story books. Certainly not one for younger children, and she liked to think of herself as being adult, despite sometimes picking her nose among other tale tale marks of immaturity when nobody was looking, besides her intrusive mother whom she had began to develop habits in her absence. "I want my lighter mom." said Alissa, but her mother wouldn't listen when they were in Washington D.C. Her mother doused in water, and then tossed it into a garbage can. If her mother did that know she would slit her throat. Even know as those craving of her former parents, before adoption, gave her temporary flights of thinking that her old mother, her old life, was still living with her. Even in the world of binary, as she slashed ASCII orcs and snake men, she longed for a certain kind of release.

The game wouldn't let her die.

She couldn't reload the game.

The fleet fell to the ground like droplets of rain from the city in the clouds. The mother Earth crying, as the sky slowly becomes more green. Alissa had not realized how green the sky was in the game until very recently, unlike her own world where the sky was blue. Ships like binary code darting down from the city of ASCII, filling the sky like grains of sand.

Every now and then she would still here the voice from her mother, calling for her in her sleep. And yet she had gotten to the point of pretending like she didn't hear the voice that was calling her, as nothing seemed to be able to pull her out of this dream like world, where machines blended with dragons with impunity, and difficulty could change at the drop of an exploit. Despite her experience with Ruby programming, the AI had developed a resistance because of the virus she used to infect the portable game console, leaving her life permanently in a constant game loop where she constantly died by whatever means "the programmer" had devised. Whether that be death by guillotine, death by headman's block, or hanging by the noose. She was even stomped on by a rabid moose, and chased after by wild dire wolves in ASCII hoping to make her their lunch.

Yet the core dialogue of the AI would never change, and it times it would seem like there would be some kind of continuity. The knight girl would remark about her she needed to be more careful next time, and how they would guide her through various processes in the title. For in the game, there were things far stranger than Spider Pigs and Ape Goats that were far more dangerous than skeletons, and she needed all the skills she could get to finally remove her from the world of binary code. It was a kind of peculiar mode seven, walls of black with green ASCII text forming a labyrinth of constantly looping spires. In the world of spires, she could expect various members of her party to die by various traps and monsters. For they were temporary, disposable. She wanted to be lost in the game forever, in order to ignore the various tortures of her own life.

She dreamed within the dream, worlds blending trees with hamlets.

She dreamed of worlds blending Helicopters with dragons.

She dreamed until there were no more dreams to be had, except for the constant desire to come home, where she would need to eat at some point, even if this was Chocolate Beer Bread and Chocolate Bar Burritos, something to give her a temporary sugar rush. Yet outside of the game her mother would tell her to hush, among some of the kinder things she had been told. And said no chocolate until she turned eighteen. Because at eighteen she could get all the sugar rushes she wanted, and she was going to need it if she was going to get a life and get a real job. And not be the fake person she always was.

She didn't want to leave the game.

But sometimes you have no choice.

She stretched out her cigarette pack over the current week, with only a few previously rolled ones left to go. Unlike her old room mate, she never chained smoked. Although her old room mate was more than happy to project the issue onto her. Her room mate did this for a lot of things, and not just that. Being rejected for disability hits you hard, and yet when you spend most of your days programming mail systems, you end up not thinking about it as much as you might expect you would.

In her younger life, she would refuse to go outside for walks. She had high arches all her life, and yet they had only recently began to bother her. She liked eating Mexican food, especially fajitas, and that contributed to a large portion of her weight gain. She cursed like a sailor, all profane. Then drowned the night away with Indian lager under the glow of hand me down lamp lights. She was concerned about her adopted daughter Alissa, and knew that she had come from a rough family. She was concerned about her addiction to video games, and wondered how it might contribute to her grades like any parent would.

The girl came to her one night, having ran away from home. She called herself Alissa, and that she needed a change of life. Yet the woman had never considered the idea of having kids, in many ways still feeling much like a kid herself. Between the worlds of Les Miserables and Grandia, her life was an odd mixture of adult cynicism and childlike optimism constantly at war with one another. The mother had attempted suicide five different times, this she never even told her own mother.

Whenever she slept in her room, she thought of weird things she found on the dark web. She wanted to protect her new daughter from the evils of the world. The world was filled with machismo and men who spent more time bragging about their own self-worth than overall improvements to society. Some would talk about the government currently selling out people's INTERNET browsing history, though for the most part in using the right browser this issue fell largely to the back burner. Yet now as the girl became established in her house hold, the girl being allowed to stay by the government as the old mother was investigated for child abuse, she wanted to give Alissa the best world she could have. Perhaps almost to a fault. She remembered when she had her own addictions to videos around her own teen years, when she wanted to become a game developer. Although this had fallen by the wayside, especially after her room mate said how she wasn't really a gamer, this was on the back of her mind as her world was filled with all sorts of self doubt; her world where she lacked mental energy.

Yet S was a woman that used her misery to give her strength. She wanted her daughter to not experience the same issues that she had when she grew up, even if on some level it was already to late, and Alissa had already been abused one time to many. After school they would go for a walk, and she would treat to different coffee shops in the area, and tried to encourage Alissa not to smoke. Yet she knew how difficult it was to bin the habit, as she had smoked many times before herself with her own mother. Indeed, in many ways she saw many aspects of herself in Alissa, and this was why she only gently smoke with her to stop smoking. She wanted to be the best parents she could be. And this meant finding therapy for her daughter.

She didn't want to smoke to cope.

She didn't want Alissa to be like herself.

It was a distant memory when her mother played games.

-- It's OK Devin, you will only remain here for the next one hundred years. It was an old voice, left over from the time when he and Julia were friend. He had saved her from own decapitation, and yet now she spitefully keeps him here in the dungeon, not so Disney like.

-- But we were going to have kids. Grow a family, take the kingdom in a new direction. And yet now you have betrayed me.

-- On the bright side, just remember I'm not longer royalty. The kingdom has fallen on hard times. We need someone new and different, perhaps more rebellions. Perhaps more female. My kinks have been craving something besides men lately.

-- Then I can arrange for the best concubines, if only you will let me go.

-- The power to do so is no longer my own sir Devin. Yet I shall, with a new leader, try to get it back.

It was one of those stories you might expect a night in shining armor, or some kind of clever assassin swift in their geta. But this time it was girl from outside of the world of their time, uploading herself from the world of meat space. The woman, pinkish-red headed, with Steam Punk goggles, would have rather spent time eating fruit flavored generic crunch on this morning, and now she was logged in having finished her new game engine for a new rogue like game.

The world of the dungeon seemed to randomly generate new dungeons, so it was difficult to find the girl who had summoned her. She had princesses, she hated acquired royalty. She had the very blood of princesses that made her blood boil. Eventually Julia found herself, lost in a catacomb of her own making, to make sure that she can find pursuers by they not find her in these world of rogue like dungeons. Only blessed with the power of the blessed one, can one truly escape. Now without the power of the statue made from rice by a blacksmith, from the story Galgameth ripped off of, there needed new measures to save their skin. But the New Hacker had grown accustomed to rogue like games.

-- Hey this is kind of fun, I wouldn't mind getting lost her on a fort night. Now where is my god damn cash princess.

-- We cannot pay you with cash, however if you accomplish just this one task--Julia was interrupted.

-- Wait, you're a security guard right, can't you save your own god damn kingdom?

-- Well last time it took a whole village.

-- So you're telling me you created this massive randomly generated dungeon in this game I'm uploaded to, and you still need a computer hacker to save your skin. Devin should have let your head fall off your body. Alright, who am I after?

-- The new king is descended from black night, and is angry that we had befallen him. You must murder the king on our behalf, because you ma'am are expendable. Chopped liver.

-- Inspirational.

The computer hacker however decided against rescuing the kingdom, she had other things in mind to do. Like look at Ero Guro at the midnight hour, masturbating under warm showers, and programming new extensions to her rogue like engine. She dreams of random crystal spires, and lunar trolls. All the monsters she slice in two.

Then she warps back into the dungeon.

-- I guess I don't have much of a choice do I?

-- No you don't. But I'll go with you.

-- Don't count on me saving you like Devin.]

-- I'm a god damn security guard.

-- Then act like one.

They climbed up the crystal spires into the castle, fought among randomly generated space trolls. Until eventually stumbling upon the king. But the king, President Boomer, saw something quite excellent that Julia did not see. He buzzed his hair, and with loud rowdy laugh said--and how may I host my attractive guests this fine evening.

-- Julia wants your head, I just want to sleep.

And with a louder rowdy laugh, he gave the hacker a high five. She gave Julia indefinite detention--at least for now. And the hacker dined the best of Middle Eastern cuisine.

When the Grandson came, who was born out of royalty, and forcibly took the throne. It was time to free Julia. But the hacker stayed behind to protect Devin, and tweaked the game code to let him out. -- Finally, I'm out I'm out. And you must be the hacker. Julia is a traitor, and you. I'm not sure what to make of you.

-- Just call me Sarah.

-- Now lets grab Julia's head.

-- But Julia isn't the queen.

-- Lets kill the king, and Julia.

-- We have no intention killing you sir, but a new royal master has taken your kingdom more powerful than I. The new king descended from the shadowed rogue like dungeon. And we must rely on your rice statue powers yet again.

-- But didn't it die in the water? Asked Devin.

-- Hey I guess you don't need my help if you still have this statue. Slinks out of sight.

-- Not so fast hacker, for this is a different kind of statue. It is a robot dog frozen in time.

The hacker Sarah was unsure who the robotic dog must be. But remembered that an avatar of herself had once considered tinkering with a robotic dog as a pet. -- Ah it must be that robotic dog I never got to have growing up.

-- It shall be the tool that saves us.

-- You know that thing is just decoration right?

-- The stage prop shall save us!

-- So what were we doing again?

-- We must kill the new king.

-- In case you didn't notice, I can log out at any time. Start a new world of my own. And we're six hundred feet, under the ground.

A long ways to do the top.

They stop on a land mine along the way.

A new game for Sarah.

The gamer saved an old save file, being the reverse engineer that she was. She never had a high opinion of Queen's and Princesses in general, although in this case it simply added fuel to a pre existing fire. Therefore she didn't care whether Julia and Devin's old forms continued to live on in the artificial universe that was the dream like rogue like game; a game of randomized dungeon; a game of randomized monsters; a game of permanent death. For open source games, it was a simple matter of respect. It took multiple lines of code, often in the millions to make a game. For games of post apocalyptic in genre and science fiction, there was often never any queens or princesses to rescue.

Women in games and women in the real life were distinct creatures, the former fluctuated between extremes of desirability and non desirability. For her, her games were her fall; he personal embrace of total oblivion. Le Rogue De Le Rouge. Le Rogue Rogue. The woman in the dark hooded cape, wandering the night, like some deranged alley cat neutered by the infinity that was the darkness. Most of her experience with cis women has been a matter of discrimination, to her not to them. She had just begun transition a few months ago, and yet as soon as money ran out this suddenly came to a screeching halt. And now as she wonders the endless rows of dream like binary in the midnight sky, she finds herself wandering a certain kind of darkness much different from her troubles before.

In the real life, she had tried belonging to the Satanic Temple twice, yet found the first one unable to deal punish activists enough being the hippies that they were. Yet the next one largely added her without much of an argument, asking her to talk about herself. She simply assumed that not talking meant that she couldn't be part of the group. She had already largely given up on belonging to groups in general, and this was simply the final straw. Yet now she seeks to be her own personal messiah in the darkness, to be her own red rogue. The follower of Asarathianist philosophy of death, rebirth, and desire. She consumed herself by flights of desire, and yet was uncommitted to oblivion. She was stuck in a cycle of constant unwanted rebirth over the artificial ages of her life. Yet in the world of rogue like games, where the dungeons of giant rats, giant people, and cave fungus fill the world like grains of sand.

She waited for days to see if she wanted to reload the game that was a fan made sequel to Adventure's Of Galgameth, starring various people from American Presidential history, among other recycled genres from fantasy to Cyberpunk. She felt like basketball tossed about by deranged men, bounced about and tossed into the net of the gaming world. The player pawns of even larger masters, those who thrive on airing out black and orange spheres of personal humanity. This was her life, the story of a girl who returned to gaming. Not because she had to, not because there was games she wanted to make.

But because she had nothing else left.

And yet in this darkness, there was a strange kind of hope. A hope that one can replay and tweak her own personal game, a game beyond the real life. A world of randomized death.

The life of a rogue.

The rogue in red.

She didn't have to be like the second Satanist group. She was her personal Asarathi Mara.

It took Alissa being coaxed back to dinner with her mother, to finally make herself exit the game world. But there was a part of her that will wanted to play her unbeatable game.