Disclaimer: Saiyuki Gaiden, Reload, Gunlock, and Gensomaden are the sole intellectual property of Kazuya Minekura.
This fiction is a tribute to my fellow proboard authors.
Betas: treneka, and elven dreamer. Thanks so much.
"Time for your next dose, Samantha," the nurse proclaimed cheerfully. It was the latest breakthrough in robotics, letting them express feelings through their voices. Robots really loved their jobs, and they were the only talking creatures Sam saw nowadays, apart from family. The girl accepted the replacement with resignation: she was on an intravenous red blood cell feed - the doctors had decided to hook her up to it all day long. Litres and litres of bloody stuff that made her like some kind of vampire. She would probably be the first to die of her disease, too, the fourteen-year-old thought morbidly. Not that it was a common infirmity. Which was exactly why she was kept away from everyone else, and they from her. But it was the only way to keep her alive - her platelet count was the lowest in a decade. Her disease was incurable, and the statistics of her acute case said she had a low chance of surviving. They had a cure for practically everything else in this world, but not her illness. Not for this mutant strain, anyway. She was simply in stasis until they took her off the machine. Then she would die.
"Thank you," Samantha said politely to the nurse. The biobot nodded and beeped out a,
''You're welcome," to the girl’s thanks. The nurse inserted a needle into her flesh, but Sam had no reaction, she was used to it now. The vampire reference She thanked the robot again, and it gave the answer it was programmed to say. Sam's parents had raised her to be polite, but sometimes she just wished she could jump up and down and swear at the top of her voice. She would paint her room black and pierce her tongue, maybe go out with the 'bad boys and girls' in her year and graffiti the school. Like that was ever going to happen. Sam couldn't move from the room because of her weak immune system. It was enough to make anyone claustrophobic, but she bore with it. Purified anti-bacterial air was fed into the whitewashed room, and she rarely got visitors, excepting her mother and father. Her parents visited daily, going through a gruelling thirty minute cleansing beforehand to ensure no viruses or bacteria would enter, and therefore endanger their beloved daughter. Nowadays, her only refuge was the Net. Three days ago, she had purchased a VR gaming visor with her credit chip, which had been a surprise present for her birthday. Most people didn't get their own chip until they were twenty one at the least. It was unlimited and connected directly to her father's account, so they were trusting her implicitly. She would never abuse her father's trust, of course. Her birthday had been three months ago and this was the first thing she had bought on the GG. Once mankind had expanded onto Mars, political correctness had insisted that the World Wide Web be changed into the GG - the Galaxy Grid. However, the old word internet had stuck and been shortened to 'Net'.) Her visor had been specially disinfected by the biobot staff; they had nearly been in throes of ecstasy to help her. Of course, they were programmed for that sort of thing, and had probably been ordered to take special care of her. Her family was paying through the nose for her exclusive treatment, even though she knew they could afford for ten such remedies. This was because her mother and father were the founders of CommŽ Industries; all electronic household goods were produced in their eco-friendly factories. Stock prices increased every week, so if there was anything they were lacking in, it was definitely not money.
Samantha scratched the back of her hand in irritation. The needle always itched but since the feeling was under her skin, she could do nothing about it. To take her mind off the aggravation, she reached over to her holographic screen Comm-puteŽ. Responding to her body heat and fingerprints on the screen, the background picture came up: a red paper plane. It was the company trademark; her father loved making them. Many a day she would sit in their garden with him, and he would teach her origami. Her father had been found floating a river as a baby, and picked up by Buddhist monks and brought up in a monastery nearby. He left at sixteen to go to university early, graduating top of the class, and accepted a job from Microsoft, soon to become a major shareholder. After setting up his own company, he bought it out and it became but a small subsidiary in the fast growing CommŽ Industries. Sam would listen, spellbound and wide eyed. She thought it was the most romantic story ever, and would often imagine herself in that situation, even working in Microsoft. Mia (her mother) would come out afterwards, and laughingly declare,
"Kwan! You spoil her." She would smile and ruffle her daughter’s jet hair fondly. "You're definitely your father's daughter." She didn't actually spend that much time with her mother, who spent more time at work than her spouse, and was always attending important functions here and there.
'Name,' the PC demanded. Enunciating clearly, she spoke into the headset everyone had from the age they could speak. It was programmed to her personal Comm-puteŽ and the link was wireless yet instantaneous.
"Samantha Zoë Taozhi." The password she entered by speaking quietly, letter by letter. They appeared as asterisks on the translucent screen. The last three letters she typed on the wafer thin extendable keyboard, and then gave the verbal command to 'Input'.
"Welcome, Samantha," the smooth voice said in her earpiece. She used the CommŽ-pen to click on the Net icon, two capital G's entwined, one a reflection of the other. It used the ancient Yin-Yang concept of black and white, each 'g' contrasting, with a star behind, the colour opposite to the foreground, and an obsidian line dividing it in half. She was very proud of that line. Her father had visited the man commissioned to design the icon and she had followed him to work that day. She had been five at the time. The designer’s name was Howard, she recalled.
"Look at that Sammy," he had said, propping the little girl up on his lap.
"Sammy, don't disturb Uncle How-"
"That's alright," Howard interrupted "I have kids too." Sam had looked very seriously at the sketch and said,
"There's not enough, Uncle Howard."
"Why, so there isn't!" Howard had exclaimed in mock amazement "What do you think we should do then?" Samantha picked up the pencil and drew a line across the star, though it deviated from the intended course a little. The pen was digital and automatically went white on black and black on white.
"Your daughter's a future artist, Kwan!" the designer laughed, replacing her in her father's arms. Daddy set her on the floor and patted her bottom lightly.
"Why don't you go back to my office now, Sammy? Uncle Howard and I need to talk about business." She skipped back to the office merrily, where she had a special corner of her own, not knowing that Uncle Howard would actually keep the line in, or how many millions of people would use that icon daily. When she had discovered the Grid herself, she had only remembered when Daddy had pointed it out to her.
"Address URL: GG.gamechat.ame," dot com had been the old way for an American website, but the grid had changed it several years back to the first three letters of the given country.
The web page loaded immediately. She randomly chose chatroom 35.
"Please input your screen name. Please keep in mind that this will also be your gaming name,” flashed the warning on the screen. Samantha decided to use both her names; SamZoe. However, she decided to game as a guy. She backspaced one. Samzo. Then she realized she had accidentally pressed the wrong key; instead of Samzo, it said Sanzo. She gave a mental shrug. It sounded okay.
She pressed the enter key and immersed herself in the gaming chatroom.