16: Perspective
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Danika didn't try to analyze why she followed Shinichi's instruction the next morning, but she made herself crepes and piled them with fruit, using the excuse that the fruit was going soft. Shinichi was somewhere that he could message freely, and they exchanged dozens of messages before her shift started.

She started the day with a smile on her face that only got wider when Devon Yu started their morning meeting with, "In a few minutes I'd like to introduce those of you who haven't met him, to the man who designed most of the underlying framework of the spectacularly realistic landscape of 'Living Jade Empire'."

Danika was a bit excited about it, but she suspected that she was probably the only one who had no idea who Devon Yu was talking about. The few other members of the sixth who hadn't been working since before the Beta ended, looked interested but knowledgeable.

Devon talked briefly about several points that had been noticed by players since the expansion. One was that the unplanned sea seemed to be as full, and as populated with new species of fish and plants, as the desert had been, with its carefully chosen plants and animals. Another was that NPCs of many races were also migrating from the established boundaries of the Empire into the expanded region almost as quickly as the players were.

Then, like a wizard conjuring an elemental, Devon summoned the designer to talk with them. Myles Blue had a somewhat sour expression on his face as the cloud of colored smoke dissipated.

Danika's expression soured as well, and Devon Yu lifted one eyebrow at her. She quickly tried to make her face neutral, but she wasn't certain whether or not she succeeded. Myles Blue didn't give any sign of recognition when his gaze passed over her though.

The rest of the hour would have been moderately fascinating if Danika hadn't been focusing more on trying not to glare at the programmer who had deleted Kit's baby and marriage than on what was being said.

Devon coaxed Myles into describing how the animals and plants had been designed so that the system could produce half breeds with functional bodies. They discussed how the incredibly detailed terrain was generated, while still maintaining simplified game interactions.

Myles cheered up and became enthusiastic while describing how he and his assistants had come up with algorithms to generate realistic stratification in the soil and rock, that rivaled the efficiency of a famous mathematician's formulas for rendering the movement of water.

Danika could, a bit grudgingly, see how he had risen to being the second in rank in the seventh. His recent demotion wasn't mentioned, and Danika knew that her grudge was entirely personal, but she just couldn't make herself focus on all the good things he'd brought to the game that she'd come to love so much.

Ariana noticed that Danika wasn't asking anything, and sidled over to ask softly, "What's wrong? Are you feeling sick?"

Danika blinked at her. It was a shock to realize that Ariana, and everyone else outside of ZipZing's guild, had no idea about the events of the weekend. "Tell you later?" she whispered. She didn't want to try to explain in front of Myles Blue.

Ariana gave her a searching look, and then nodded.

Devon Yu took over the discussion again, and began speaking of how they could use a better understanding of the structure of the world to enhance their quest designs. He also said, "I know you all feel like coasting for awhile, but it's time to start work on the mid summer event."

Everyone either laughed or groaned, but Devon just winked and started outlining a list of ideas. He instructed them to come up with other ideas, or improvements for one of his, during the week.

When the morning meeting finally ended, Ariana beckoned quietly, and Danika followed her.

When they arrived at Ariana's space, Danika couldn't think of a good way to start the conversation without sounding whiny. Her celestial dragon assistant spoke up first, "ZipZing has fourteen messages from Magna Silvam."

Danika flinched. She'd forgotten that Lin Hao had said he'd be waiting after the morning meeting, and he had no way of knowing that the meeting had been much longer than usual.

Ariana narrowed her eyes and asked, "Who's messaging you, what's going on with you today?"

"Lin Hao, I better answer him first, and then I'll tell you what Myles Blue did," Danika replied swiftly.

Ariana's eyes widened, and then she asked, "He did something to you while you were here for training?"

Danika shook her head and scrolled through Silvam's messages. The first ones were filled with ideas he'd thought of regarding the cats, the latest were all inquiries about why she wasn't replying. The last one was rather petulant, and made Danika think that he shouldn't really be playing yet, since he asked if Devon Yu had instructed her to ignore him.

She sent back: "Sorry, the meeting was extra long. Myles Blue came to talk about how the physical structures are generated… Should you be resting more?"

Silvam replied instantly: "Oh. That's probably my fault, I asked Devon to get him out of Josh's hair for awhile."

Danika sighed, and then looked up to see Ariana's crossed arm pose. "This weekend Myles Blue deleted the traveling merchant's baby and marriage with Kit Tay, a friend and guildmate of mine. Magna Silvam is also in our guild, although I'm not entirely sure why. But since Lin Hao is sick and he assigned something to do with cats to me, he was going to talk to me about it this morning," she tried to explain everything at once.

"Wow, you really do get involved in a lot of events," Ariana replied after a moment. "The traveling merchant just says the baby is no longer within the Empire and he no longer has a wife though. I thought it was some sort of story about how the mother ran off with him."

Danika shook her head and grimaced. Ariana stepped forward and patted her shoulder.

"So, let's fix it?," Ariana suggested.

"How?" Danika asked. She explained about how Josh had said that a system generated NPC couldn't be recovered, and Myles Blue had set the merchant so that he couldn't get married again. "And Lin Hao doesn't want to restore the marriage because it messes with things, and it might have to be dissolved again in the future anyway."

Ariana bit her lip, but then nodded. "I guess that does make sense."

Silvam's next message instructed, "Load the mobile version of the game so that we can talk directly. There's a few things I want you to check for me."

Danika replied: "Is that easier than if you submit a bug report, and ask that it be directed to me, so that I can interact with you directly?"

"So, if a project has been assigned to you, accept it. Let's see what we can do there, if we can't help your friend directly," Ariana suggested.

"You're going to help me today?" Danika questioned.

"Why not," Ariana replied airily. "I can be moral support, which you'll probably need if Lin Hao is trying to sneak work time through you. Plus I have more experience, so you never know, I might actually be helpful."

Danika laughed for the first time since she'd seen Myles Blue appear in Devon Yu's puff of smoke. "I'm sure you'll be helpful," she assured the older woman.