It had been a while since he’d been in the game, but the world statistics showed he was still above average in terms of resources. Aeon hid his metrics so he wouldn’t face adverse selection for challenges- it’s no fun only getting challenges from opponents that overwhelmingly dominate you. The distribution of resources didn’t look more skewed than normal though, so it was unlikely he’d randomly encounter a vastly out-equipped opponent, or look like an especially attractive target to anyone. Aeon’s plan was to target opponents of similar or slightly lower rank, and run from stronger players and teams.
Aeon steered his flying giant squid Q into a dark forest. He turned on a basic chameleon mode for both of them, gripped Q’s sides, and sniffed the cold wind. Q pulsed through the air, slurping between trees without touching them, arms closing and opening as though to invite the wind in. Nothing felt as sweet as this kind of flight. Connected to everything, alive in the palm of a universe that also beamed with life- flying in this world, you remembered everything else as some bland waiting room you’d been loitering in until you could come home again.
Home. The idea tugged at something in Aeon’s mind. A face? He shrugged it off, mentally closed his eyes, and in half an exhale the feeling was gone. No distractions- the other world had no place here, the other selves had no place here. Here he was Aeon Alpha the First, leader, founder, and sole member of House Alpha. An other self wasn’t scheduled to engage for another 6 hours. He’d reposition then. For now, Aeon focused everything on this game, sat deeper into this self and this goal. This game was real. This world was home. This place was freedom.
Sensing an energy source, Aeon guided Q towards it. Q was his favorite ride and animal companion- it takes a lot of digging around in the physics engine to figure out how to engineer a custom flying squid and Q was something he splurged on in his glory days. If he won a few more battles he might be able to upgrade Q to fly underwater and other thick fluids as well. The basis of Q’s intelligence was a copy of Aeon’s own past self with its agreeableness and conscientiousness greatly amplified. In this world, Q was his greatest friend and ally, an extension of his own mind and personality, an intelligence he trusted implicitly, their goals completely aligned.
Just as they approached the energy source, Q heard an anomalous low frequency vibration through his skin. Wavelengths mapping to ranges his real sense organs could detect were displayed as such, like light spectrum radiation displayed as sight. Aeon had set non-mapping wavelengths such as infrared or ultraviolet to be detected through his skin suit and Q’s skin.
Commanding Q to hover behind a tree, Aeon sent out a camera missile to circle around the source of the vibration while wondering what wavelengths he and Q should go dark in. He started setting up a cold shield in case the opponent had enough energy to blast the whole area at the slightest hint of another.
But before he’d made much progress, his camera sighted the opponent, and vice versa.
“Whoa,” breathed Aeon. Get ready to run.