Flora landed in front of a grand building. The architects had delusions of grandeur or maybe wanted to win a bet how much precious materials like polished marble and gold they could stuff on one facade.
After entering, Flora saw the interior was designed in the same opulent style. The tellers were half-hidden behind a shimmering veil. Robby ignored it and walked straight to a booth.
When Flora passed the veil, the other tellers vanished, and only a blue-skinned woman in fancy business attire behind a single counter was in front of her.
"My mother, Flowing Flowers, wants to open an account."
The teller asked Flora to lay her badge on a glowing device and checked her screen. "You already have a registered account. Do you want to create an additional one?"
Flora wasn't surprised. She guessed it was another inherited feature from the CAD System. But she was excited to check her balance.
2.375,50 VirDos from Huffgrin Skateboards and Active Wear
3.660,23 VirDos from Cetviwos-Shop - home decoration
7.923,50 VirDos from Cetviwos-Shop - workshop layout
614.299 Credits from Huffgrin Skateboards and Active Wear
"What's up with all the different currencies?" Flora complained. "I got something called VirDias aswell!"
The teller explained it to her. VirDias, the short form of Virtual Diamonds, is the currency of the Cetviwos Shop and worth around 0,1 Euros.
VirDos, the short form of Virtual Dollars, is the currency of the Metaworld and tourism worlds and worth around 0,1 Euros.
Dits, the short form of credits, is the currency of the Merc-Game and Space-Game and worth around 0,0001 Euros with intense fluctuations.
GC, SC, and CC, the short forms of gold, silver, copper coins, were the currency of the Kingdom Building-Game and no exchange was possible.
At Central Bank, you can exchange Euros and VirDos to a maximum of 100 Euros a day per direction.
At the Cetviwos Shop, you can change VirDos into VirDias or max 100 Euros per day into VirDias, one direction only.
At the Interplanetary Exchange Station, you can exchange VirDos and Credits."
"The hundred Euro rule is because of consumer protection and money laundry. The modern version of mobsters winning the lottery multiple times per year was the professional gaming star gangster. They funneled millions of illegally acquired funds into the game and exchanged it back as fruits of their excellent gaming." Robert explained. "The business world hates the hundred Euro rule because the Cetviwos are a growing market, and they want to invest in it heavily. Lobbying has been successful, and CentralTank and European Union came up with the courier system. The companies can hire couriers who get the money into the game for them with a standardized paper trail. This is where we need a favor from you, Ma."
"Sure, I play your courier." Flora agreed without being asked. "Just make sure, everything is kosher."
Flora wanted to give her whole limit to the boys, but they insisted on only 20 days per month until Flora knew how much she needed to enjoy herself in the Cetviwos. Without any hustle, they signed the contracts and arranged the transfers.
After that, Robby and Hub wanted to show Flora their clan and company, but Flora was exhausted and opted out. So they hit a supermarket for food and told her how to access her lair.
'Yeah, I have a lair!'
"BLEAMTO Flowing Flowers' Lair TOBLEAM"
The promised lair was a room as large as her living room on the 154th floor of a high-rise in a Hongkong-like suburb of skyscrapers. Flora was massively disappointed and realized after checking the Cetviwos Shop that she might need the money transfer just for expanding and furnishing her lair. And maybe moving to a more delightful neighborhood.
After they arranged to meet up at the Riverstones Headquarter the next day, the boys said goodbye.
Now Flora was alone in her room. She would love to take a shower and brush her teeth, but a red couch, a picture of a globe, a black coffee table, a lamp and a mailbox at the door were the only commodities available. So she sat on the couch and ate a bowl of ramen and wondered about her new life.
It was a new start, but she didn't have to start from zero. Though she wouldn't admit it publically, she enjoyed the little robbery adventure. Her lair might be more paltry than a dorm room, but she had the funds to change that. All the new concepts and terminology were confusing, and she was sure that she would make more mistakes and mix-ups. But what did she have to lose? Nothing but face. She was used to be respected by her peers and the generations after them. But in the years of her retirement the respect, she had previously received, waned. Even Robby treated her more like a child than with filial piety. Nobody expected anything from an old woman in a new game. She would prove them wrong.
'First, I need knowledge or better a guide. Let's buy an AI.'
The Cetviwos Shop resided on one of the tabs of the menu. Next to it were the attributes, the skills, the abilities, the achievements, the inventory, the equipment, the options, and the rating page and a few more.
The shop claimed to sell only items of convenience which had no impact on the power of a player, but Flora doubted that when she read the description of the AIs. You could choose between AIs rated from A to D. An A-rated helper could control three devices in battle or double out of combat. You could give it three personality traits. In contrast, a D-rated AI could control one device and had one random personality trait.
Of course, Flora took the best. She only regretted that no S-rated AIs were available. Quickly, she configured the parameters:
Name: Aiden. (She resisted the sudden urge to call it Bob.)
Trait 1: Loyal. + 5 OV hacking resistance / affinity.
Trait 2: Respectful. Holds owner in high esteem.
Trait 3: Proactive. Suggests action alternatives.
An upgrade package with knowledge about the Cetviwos, the help files, and standard apps was included. Additionally, she bought 'Current slang and gaming terms' and 'Independent access to Cetviwos-Forums'.
1030 VirDias spent and her mailbox vibrated.
After removing the packaging, she held a disc, shaped like a flying saucer with jacks protruding, in her hands.
"Yes, please keep calling me that! I'm old enough to have eighth-grader-syndrome again!" Flora snickered. "Please tell me what the jacks are for."
"The jacks are for controlling devices and for communicating directly with the owner."
"So I have to insert one of those into myself? How?"
"It goes into a nape-sockets."
Aidan explained to her the nape-sockets or nocks. He even could manifest a holographic display for illustration. After the players bought nape-sockets from the Magetech Institute, they implanted them on the back of the player's neck. Via the nocks, the users could form links to drones, mech suits, AIs, and other machines. If Flora inserted Aidan's jack into her nock, Aidan would be able to influence her heads-up-display, manage her screens and options. They could even communicate telepathically. Unfortunately, the nocks consisted of metal and therefore, would impact her magic.
Flora decided, she wanted this though. Of course, it was a scary thought to give an AI so much control over her avatar, but it was so convenient! She sighed. It had been incredible witnessing over the years what features entrapped people into giving up their privacy and sovereignty. An AI secretary was a way better reason than a facebook farming game, in Flora's opinion.
"Put a visit to the MI on my agenda for tomorrow. The meeting with Robby is at 9 o'clock. We'll see when I wake up, whether we do it before or after it."
Flora grinned excitedly because of the next topic. "So, please tell me, how can I get access to my design workshop?"
The workshop was purchasable in the Cetviwos Shop, too. You had to plugin with your nock. It existed as a virtual subspace in the virtual world. Unfortunately, you needed a 3D printer to construct the designs. The workshop was quite cheap, with only 100 VirDias, but the price of the printer was horrendous, 30 installments of 1000 VirDias. And you could only pay one installment per day because of the consumer protection regulations. Flora bought the workshop with the same attitude other woman bought stuffed animals. Although she couldn't use the studio currently because she had no nocks, she could pet it, snuggle with it and make 'cooing' sounds at it.
The last issue she wanted to tackle today was the money from Huffgrin Skateboards. A few decades ago, she held a workshop about design-life-cycle-management at a skateboard start-up who wanted to professionalize their workflows. She used a skateboard as an example in her powerpoint presentation. As a middle-aged woman she figured, she had no chance to design a 'cool' board that wasn't embarrassing. So she went the other way and made a daisy pattern and called the skateboard model 'Granny's Knickers'. The skaters loved not only her workshop but the skateboard as well, and the boss told her he would include it in their catalog. That was the last she heard of it. She only remembered it, because they gave her the board as a gift and Robby played with it until he was old enough to understand the English print.
With Aidan's help and another purchase at Cetviwos Shop, she accessed the marketplace of the Metaworld. There you could list your shop, your wares or requests.
Quickly, Flora found the Huffgrin shop. They had over 200 000 skateboard models! One of the boards was Granny's Knickers. It had only twenty sales registered in the last year, so she went back in time and found a spike one and a half years ago. It seemed that it went from zero to viral and back to practically zero. Nonetheless, Flora penned a short thank you message to the contact she found in the company information.
Then she looked up what it would cost to open her own shop. There were toasters justing waiting to be sold! She suppressed the urge to puke seeing the prices. 500 VirDias to register a virtual shop, 1000 VirDias to register a shop customizers could visit, 100 VirDias rent per week!
"Aidan, remind me to create a shopping list and a wish list tomorrow. Please use the time when I'm asleep to browse the forum. Concentrate on newbie tips and information first, then crafting and trade, at last, game mechanics and character progression."
Flora was more than ready to call it a day, but her notifications button has been glowing for a while.
"Negotiation: + 1 Level."
"You gained the Ability: 'Melee'"
'That's it?' Flora was stunned. It appeared to her that she last checked it ages ago, but it has been just a few hours. She didn't know what she had expected, but one thing was clear, she expected more growth than that. The meager results hammered home that only doing errands and getting abducted now and then wasn't going to cut it. She had to step up her training. But first, she had to sleep.
'It would be nice if I could train while sleeping ...'