I’m not sure how long I spend playing around with the avatar customizer. It’s hard to tell time in the black void of the cosmos after all. Sadly, I can’t seem to revert to my original form when the avatar customizer is open, so I still have no idea what my “real” face looks like now. Though I think I’m finally satisfied with my new look.
Call me sentimental or egotistical, but I was rather fine with my body before, and if I changed too much how would Zeke still know it's me? So though I had the option to become anyone, I stick close to my original look. I do take full advantage of the creation menu to make myself a few inches taller, sadly it would seem the menu caps at 3 inches, so I settle for 5'5".
Being a half-elf, my ears are more pointed than a human’s, my eyes are a little bit bigger, and my features are more angler but, all in all, none of the changes are terribly noticeable unless you’re looking. My skin is the same shade of tan, my eyes still a deep earthen brown, pastel pink hair cut to just above my shoulders... Okay the pink hair color wasn’t very natural in my original body, and my hair had always remained a hazelnut color all my life (minus that one year in high school I thought I could be blond, no pictures exist of that tragedy anymore.) It was something I had always wanted to do, but in a family with tight money, where all paychecks were put towards food or my younger siblings, I had never given it a chance. Despite the insanity of this whole situation, it did seem like the perfect time to finally try it. If I hated it, I could probably cast this spell again and be someone else anyway.
[Finish creation of new avatar?]
[yes] or [no]
Hitting yes, the little stars around me glitter and shake, making soft chiming noises. Vaguely concerned for the poor little things that had been helping me for the last who knows how long, I reach up to cup a few in my hands. They make one last trill little chime, before slipping through my fingers and scattering off into the void. I wave them goodbye as a new text box appears.
[Please input name:]
“Name?” I question out loud, watching as a keyboard function appears under the message. “So, they don’t know our names…”
I start entering my name, Daniela, when a stray thought stills my hand. Whatever was going on they seemed to be extremely powerful. Would putting in my real name be a good idea? I erase the letters I had already put in and start thinking. Everything so far had been like a video game, so this wouldn’t be anything different than a username.
I theatrically could put anything in, but if actual people were going to call me by this name it seemed weird to put something normal for a username like “CatsGirl101” or “monsterXYZ”. This will be my new name after all, I don’t want it to be something I’ll regret.
I try inputting my nickname, Danny, as it's the most obvious choice, but I quickly delete it. Only my dad and younger brother can call me Danny. So, I try Sam instead, the nickname of my favorite protagonist, but I don’t even finish typing the ‘a’ before I immediately delete it. That name didn’t really fit, no matter how much I liked it. Trying again I type Azalea, one of my favorite flowers. I stare at the name floating in the text box for only a few seconds before I shake my head and delete it again.
“Maybe something star themed?” I mutter, staring off at the slowly spinning galaxies surrounding me.
“Stella?” I question testing the name on my tongue, it’s definitely closer but still not there yet-
“Ah!” and I start inputting the perfect name.
[Would the player like to confirm their name as [Nova]?]
With one last click of yes, in between one blink and the next, I’m no longer in the star-filled sky and instead back in the cavernous chamber.
I glance around quickly but everyone else seems to be just now starting to filter around the room. Frightened questions and loud arguments about the rest of the gear echo around the room as people start splintering off and forming their own little groups. It feels a little unreal, I know I probably took far longer than I should have in the customizer, but no one is looking at me weirdly (well weirder than anyone else). All of us have returned to the same point in time somehow.
Lifting up my hands I double-check that the spell is holding. They are the same tan I have always remembered, not a dust of purple anywhere.
I don’t even look up, already knowing it’s the little boy from earlier as I continue to check over the rest of my body to make sure there are no stars or transparent patches of skin.
“It’s no fair you got a fun hair color.”
His voice is much closer, and the pout is easy to hear in his voice. I snicker to myself once before I turn around to reassure him and stop in my tracks. He looks almost exactly the same, with a frizzy head of dark black hair and a scattering of dark freckles over his brown skin, except…
“I didn’t mean to pick this!” he protests, face as red as a tomato at my eyebrow raise, “I miss clicked! I wanted Fire Elemental but that guy took it, so this took its spot on the list and-,”
I blurt the first thing that comes to mind, “It’s cute,”
“HHEEEY!” he squeaks, black fluffy wolf-like ears twitching on top of his head. A long puffed tail wags behind him slowly like an angry cat. “I’m not cute!”
I know I shouldn’t ask, but those ears looked just like my cute little dog’s, and- “Can I pet you?”
“NO!” he huffs crossing his arms and stalking away, grumbling to himself about not being cute and being stuck as a Furry for life. Briefly, I wonder with minor horror how a kid less than 14 knew what a Furry was, but then I remember the internet, and sigh, what was it the old folks like to say again? 'Corrupting the youth or something?'
“Excuse me, Everyone!!!”
Standing on top of a small pile of mostly intact boxes is the other guy who chose his class last. He’s holding his staff proudly and waving it around at the gathered crowd. “I know things are looking down, but together we can figure this out and solve this problem!”
Murmurs of agreement and relief spread throughout the room and people start moving closer to the wizard’s make-shift platform. Crossing my arms, I stay exactly where I am by the wall as he continues to preach about teamwork and the good of the group. If there’s one thing growing up in the American foster system teaches you, it’s don’t trust anyone, especially people who claim they are doing something for your benefit or fairness, they are always a manipulative power-hungry jerk who could care less about everyone else.
I catch eyes with the little boy, he squints in my direction, and I smile back, motioning for him to come over. He glances over his shoulder at the wizard man, before frowning and scurrying over to my side. He’s got a sour look on his face, like he hates the idea of joining me, but he shuffles so close our clothes brush.
“I’m not cute,” he states.
Forcing down my immediate response to laugh, I nod. We both know it’s a lie, but he seems more at ease with my false agreement.
“What class are you?” I ask, trying to spot a weapon on his small form.
He puffs out his chest. Ears twitching and tail wagging like a dog presenting its first trick, “The best class! I’m a survivalist.”
“Oh, that’s pretty good,” I agree with a nod. While I didn’t have any real idea what that meant exactly, from my experience playing far too many games in my life and helping coach my younger siblings try their first games while crowded around on our threadbare couch, I could make a few guesses. It was a class focused on “surviving”, which could mean a whole range of things, but most likely it would fall into a sort of Ranger-like class with nature being the focus, but it could also lean more towards Rogue territory and have skills related to “surviving” the streets. Either way it seemed to be a class that boasted high versatility and resourcefulness skills. It was just a starting class for now, but most likely a DPS-leaning one, overall it seemed to be pretty good. “It’s a good choice, you use daggers?”
“Yep!” and he presents a mildly rusty dagger with a hilt that’s wrapped in a fraying brown stained cloth. It’s obviously not in the best shape, but if he has a sheath for it and the kid is careful, he probably won’t get tetanus…. Probably.
“What about you lady?”
“Can you stop calling me lady?” I ask, giving the kid a good ruffle of his hair to show just how much of a tiny meanie he’s being, “it makes me feel old.”
“You are old,” he defends ducking away outside of my reach.
I sigh, shaking my head. The youth these days. “Then how old are you kid?”
“I’m not a kid! I’m thirteen!”
“Well, if you can call me old, I can call you a kid.” I can see the battle raging in his eyes, his desire to annoy vs his desire to not be annoyed.
Taking pity on the poor boy I give him an out. I almost say my actual name by force of habit, before I catch myself last second, probably best to keep my real name a secret, “Just call me Nova.”
His ears twitch and he tilts his head up at me like a confused dog, “Nova?”
“It’s the name I picked when the window asked for one,” I explain, pulling up my window even though I know he can’t read mine.
“Oh!” He nods excitedly, pulling up his own window with a broad smile, “Nova is good, but mine’s better!”
I dismiss the stats screen and give my full attention to the kid, “And yours is?”
It takes me a second of looking at his expectant face to realize he’s being serious. “It’s uh,” I violently force down my immediate response to cringe, the kid looks so happy about it, I can’t say anything. “Pretty cool I guess.”
He nods very proudly, and I don’t have the heart to break it to him. I guess Hero isn’t so bad, it's painfully obvious but he could have picked something even more cringy like “herodude123” or “SuperManWrecks", or he just could have used the name of an actual hero, all in all, it could be far worse.
In the silence, the raising voice of the crowd behind us echoes, “So that is why must all work together and share everything with each other, only then-,” I tune back out the soap box wizard and start looking around at all the unchosen items littering the floor and walls. It would seem the further back one went, the nicer the gear. Maybe I could get Hero a better dagger that would actually cut something.
“You want to help me dig through this stuff?”
The kid’s eyes light up and he nods quickly, I try not to stare at his swinging tail, which even without his smile would give away his obvious happiness, “What are we looking for?” he asks, already starting to clatter around heavy pieces of shining armor.
“Anything we can use. You’re a light armor type most likely, and even if you weren’t most of this stuff would be too heavy for you.” I say as I struggle to move a large metal shield out of the way, “See, I can’t even move this.” With both of us, we manage to push it over and go back to sorting out the items behind it. “And if we want to apply normal rules of combat and apocalypse settings, then we shouldn’t get anything we can’t easily carry or use.”
“You know a lot about this stuff,” Hero notes as he carelessly tosses some arrows behind him.
I shrug, as I flip through the cloaks hanging on the wall. “I’ve got a better sense than most when it comes to living light and trying to survive. I mean I did-,” I cut myself off glancing over at the innocent expectant look on his face, best not to put a damper on the kid’s mood with the truth, “I did play a lot of video games after all,” I amend, while not untrue it is a better version of the truth and far more suitable for children, Zeke would be proud. “You play enough games and watch enough modern tv you pick up on a few useful tips. Also, try and look for another dagger, it would be good for you to have more than one.”
“What about your class stuff?” he asks placing a huge knight’s helmet on his head and almost tumbling over. He pulls the helmet off with an annoyed face, his ears twitching irritably, “don’t you need stuff?”
In all the excitement I had forgotten to check my class. I look around for the blue window, and it immediately “pings!” into life in front of me, showing my new stats.
I scan through all the information I already know, like my name, race, and age. Finally, I stop at the class category.
[Class: Acolyte (one sworn to serve the divine)]