In slightly less than a month since the opening of Many Worlds, Jules’ friends had managed to gather enough money to come to Fesmoilia from their various cities. This was a testament to the speed at which adventurers could gather money starting out with almost nothing. However, it was also somewhat of a testimony to their lack of requirements for some expensive necessities, such as shelter. As for food, most players seemed to eat whatever they could forage, or whatever was cheap. Though, Jules was planning to move toward as good of a balanced diet as he could get… since he was putting the food into a real body, even if it could function with just the bare necessities, he expected it would be better to have a good balance of vitamins and minerals.
The first thing Jules did after each of his friends arrived was to “unlock” the functions of their wristbands. The responses were varied.
Douglas stroked his dark-haired beard thoughtfully. “Oh, so there really are wristbands. Why were they invisible?”
Isaac shrugged his wide shoulders. “So, what did this do?”
Robert shook his head. “Well, I don’t feel any surge of super strength or anything.”
Jules explained, “Well, it’s not going to be obvious. You guys have had a long day traveling, why don’t we make some plans for tomorrow and then meet up then?
Of course, Jules’ intention with that was to have them all spend some time in the real world… on Earth, where they could notice their abilities were no longer restricted. He pointedly ignored the calls and messages from them throughout the day. He knew they would still contact each other, though. Jules didn’t want to shade their ideas of what was happening with his influence. Plus, he’d had to deal with it alone, so they would certainly be fine for a day with the support of each other. He imagined they’d have good theories.
Once back in the game, Jules asked each of them to summarize what they thought was happening in a single sentence. Though, he knew he wouldn’t get serious answers that way.
Isaac said, “The wristbands hypnotized us to make us stronger.”
Douglas responded, “Obviously, we’re in the matrix now. Maybe we always were.”
“That’s two sentences,” Robert noted.
“I’m glad you all put such deep thought into it.” Jules smiled. “Seriously though, what are your thoughts.”
Douglas took the initiative to be the spokesman for the group. “We discussed it, but weren’t really sure. Obviously, it’s related to the wristbands. The hypnosis answer was on the table, but… the effects lingered without the wristband nearby, and it was pretty significant.”
Isaac nodded. “Everything felt lighter. I’ve gotten a decent increase in Strength in game so far, and now I definitely felt it outside. There wasn’t any kind of unnatural tiredness from overusing my muscles, either, so it seems pretty… real. Not that we’re just convincing ourselves we can do things, and pushing ourselves past safe limits.”
Robert held up his right wrist. “These look the same in game and out, at least as far as I can tell. They’re tough, too.”
Jules nodded. “I can confirm they’re the same on the outside… and the inside, as well.”
“You got one open?”
Jules shook his head. “I learned telekinesis, which also has related abilities, such as sensing where things are, including being able to ‘see’ inside.”
“And… that works outside the game?” Douglas asked eagerly.
“It does.” Jules grinned. “Telekinesis is great. You should learn it. Though, I can’t say I’d be a good teacher, there is one in Fesmoilia. Speaking of which, have you interacted with NPCs much?”
Robert nodded. “Some of them, anyway. They’re um… very real.”
“That’s a good word,” Jules stated, “Real.”
Douglas nodded. “It has to be. Unless there’s secretly another planet nearby being used only for the purpose of running a game. The level of detail is too high. It would take a massive colony of servers and a lot of power, at the very minimum. There haven’t been any major changes in power usage, either. Though, that does beg the question of where the wristbands get power, because they’re obviously using at least some.”
Jules nodded. “I think there’s probably a wireless power receiver in them, but the technology is… weird.”
“What, like alien?”
Jules shrugged. “I couldn’t say that with any amount of certainty. However, it’s something completely different from the way a computer or phone is put together.”
“What if it’s just nanobots?” Robert proposed. “Like, doing the enhancing of our bodies. I’ve been feeling hungrier lately… Or maybe that’s because I forget to eat meals sometimes.”
Jules got a stunned look on his face. “I… can’t see anything that small. So I don’t know.”
“I think it might be. I’ve been feeling something like that,” Robert said.
“Feeling it… how?”
“Well,” Robert paused to form his sentence properly, “My secondary class is technopathy. I haven’t really developed it much yet. It takes money to buy anything that it is related to here, and a gun seemed more useful than a computer… and it’s weird to hang around things in a store. Plus, most everything is turned off there. Until just yesterday, the wristband wasn’t something I could even really tell was there, though I kinda have a feeling I could have noticed it on my own if I’d practiced more. Anyway, I’ve been having this vague feeling that adventurers were different from the natives here, like a glow. Then, in the real world, once I had the ability, I sort of felt it around some people, though I didn’t realize they were probably only the players of Many Worlds.” Robert got a shocked look on his face for a moment. “Wait, that doesn’t seem quite right. I didn’t notice it at the time, but I think some government suits I passed had that same feeling.”
“Well, it would make sense. I mean, they’re the ones who distributed the wristbands,” Jules pointed out, “Why wouldn’t they want to enhance the performance of their agents?”
“That’s a good point.” Douglas stroked his beard. “So, what have we learned today? Many Worlds is obviously something big, and more than a game… but not why it’s being done. Great.”
Jules sighed. “Yeah. So… wanna go kill some monsters?”