Dark Mode

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

It was funny how much he used to love the dark, rooms lit only by the electric blue glow of his computer monitor. It was easier to hide in the dark, to sink into the forgetful oblivion of the game world, to lose himself behind the handle and persona of Brony Robbins. Of course the darkness caused by several tons of rock and debris on top of his metapod was far less reassuring.

Robert tried to breathe in but stopped himself halfway. Every breath came with the sensation of searing pain and oozing blood. He had a pretty good idea of what was happening to him. He had felt it happen to John Hardin. Maybe that was why the points had stopped mattering. Maybe somehow he had known, on a subconscious level, that he was dying and he had finally wanted to do the right thing.

He had tried to help John. He hoped that he had. The avatar almost frightened him at first. The darkened rage that boiled up from within, covering up the almost endless sorrow. It had felt like all the times when he had modded a game out to capacity and gone full murder hobo. Except this time it was all true and he knew the names of every person who had died. Robert had nearly run away then, trying to hide himself completely and allow John to take full control, when he saw her. A tiny spectral wisp, floating around John’s heart, radiating love and warmth in a sea of despair. Her name was Jane. And because of her, Robert found out that he was braver than he thought he was.

He had never spoken to her. He had only fully seen her once. At the end, as he felt John’s body ripping to pieces around him, a hand had reached down and pulled him out. Face to face with this woman, Robert found that he couldn’t speak. She had smiled warmly at him before her expression faltered, turning suddenly to concern. She had placed her hand on his chest and he felt a warm pulse flash through him. She had kissed his forehead and whispered, “A little extra time. Thank you.” Then he was pushed away, out into the darkness of his pod.

It had been a relief to go back into the Metaverse after that. It had even been a relief to find himself in the body of Ezekiel the Undying. Standing in the prison cell, listening to the strange artist nearby rattle on, Robert had smiled to himself. It felt good to be here again.

Games had been a way to escape. Robert knew it was an unoriginal solution to an age old problem, but then why mess with success? He had always been aware of how other people viewed him. His demeanor was a response to their reaction. Better to put on a facade closer to what people believed him to be than to show them his true self. Besides, in games you can be any one. So Robert Munson, the loner, the loser, the guy no one wanted to talk to, the person everyone assumed was an asshole, became the best gamer he could be. He became every hero he wished he was and every villain he feared he would end up as. And he was very good at it.

They started offering him money. Money to do something he would have happily spent the rest of his life doing for free. He took the money and ran with it. He bought things he wanted, things he didn’t need, things he knew other people desired. He built his reputation and found that he suddenly had friends. Well, okay. Not friends but at least people who would come over to his house and watch him play video games. People who would ask for a photo with him. People who would actually talk to him, even if they had no idea who he really was. He relished every ounce of attention. Even the trolls and haters, the people who woke up at 3am just to leave a comment on a video telling him how much he sucked. He embraced their rage and took their power for his own. Better to be hated and talked about than forgotten and ignored.

It had all been going so well. Until the first time he placed second.

A horrible crunching sound brought Robert’s attention back to the present. For a moment he was certain that the pressure had finally become too much and the pod was about to collapse. White light suddenly blinded him. He blinked and saw the sky overhead. Beautiful blue sky. It struck him then just how long it had been since he had seen the sky and known it was his own. A shadow fell across the pod and Robert found himself face to face with a scruffy young man wearing ear plugs and dark glasses.

“Oh, hi Brony!”


Crash Jaxun.

Why had he hated Crash? A few months ago, Robert likely could have given a long list of reasons but somehow none of them seemed to matter now. The first time he had lost to Crash, he had sworn revenge. He had told everyone that Crash had cheated, that he was a poor sport, an insufferable winner. He had called Crash every name that he had ever heard used for himself. He did his absolute worst and he swore he would unseat him. When Project: Metaverse came knocking, Robert saw it as a chance to finally prove himself the best, to knock Crash back down into the shadows. Beating Crash had been his goal for so long, he could hardly remember when he had decided he didn’t like him…or why.

The truth was that in Crash, Robert had seen himself. But instead of reaching out as a friend, he had pushed him away. It was simpler that way. It was the only time in his life he had felt power over someone else and he wanted to see what it was like to use it. But Crash had never hated him back. He had never gotten angry. He had never said one unkind word. That was the thing about Crash that Robert had never been able to understand. No matter how cruel he was to him, Crash never got angry. He never retaliated. He just stood up and smiled. Every time.

Crash crouched down and peered at him, “You’ve got a post in your chest.”


“So, don’t move okay?”

From the back of Robert’s mind came a crazy thought. Crash was going to lift him out of the ground. But how was that even possible? It was likely the blood loss talking. Unless… Hadn’t Jedediah told them that Crash was part of the other group of pilots? The ones that they were sent to find? Did that mean that he had powers too? Robert wasn’t stupid. He knew he should have been dead hours ago. But something was keeping him going, something that felt ancient and undying. But even that was fading now. It was getting harder to think. That was probably why he thought he saw Crash throw a large boulder over his shoulder like it was nothing more than an energy drink can.

“It’s okay.” Robert muttered, “I’ve seen this before. It’s a repost.”

Crash blinked, “Okay. You’re going to have to tell me about that. I want to hear about the repost.”

The joke had been weak. Robert just didn’t have the energy for anything better. He felt sort of like he had after his second heart attack. Only this time it was his brain that was breaking instead of his heart.

“This is going to hurt. A lot.”

The pain that enveloped him was immense. He felt himself beginning to pass out. As the world went dark around him, one final thought crossed his mind. If he was going to die, he was glad Crash was there with him. It wasn’t good to die alone.

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