Game Clash

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I got this idea from a popular game I play online. It is a multi-player game and has some very interesting human beings in the clan I belong to in the game. The name of the game is Golf Clash and I love playing it as much as love being online with these virtual brethren sharing the hopes and dreams of winning every game we play in the expectation to excel. I have used the names of a few people from this clan of brothers namely, Deep, Jacky, Iliyas, Harshad, Deb and Satyajet in this story. I know them only virtually but I am sure that they are as human as you and me. I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed writing it.   P. Kasturi Rangan

Scifi / Thriller
Age Rating:

Game Clash

I work in a software company. Or I should say that I used to work in a software company. This was 6 months back but now I am a millionaire. I used to work like most of us do from sun up till sun down, caught inside a small room. No time for rest or food or any talking time with anyone. Just keep typing furiously into a one foot by one foot screen and make things work for people sitting thousands of miles away. Guessing what they might like or dislike and make the software run for them and hope that one day they will be happy and send me an appreciation letter. Come evening and rush back home, make dinner or get something packed or delivered home. Eat, sleep, repeat!

I was a junior game coder in a well-known gaming company and my work was to sensitise the code for one of our well-known games or in layman terms keep the code clean. Now code cleaning does not mean that I have a virtual vacuum cleaner and there is dust in the code but okay something similar. Codes have a habit of breaking-up or modifying themselves after a bit of time. Sometimes they break because of an external source like a virus attack or someone trying to use a cheat code in the game. And then the code starts behaving not normally. Which is sometimes good for the players or the company but most times it is not a philanthropic thing to virus bomb a game company server. So, my job was to catch such places in the code where these attacks happen and clean them up. I also was supposed to write preventive codes for such attacks so that they do not happen again. But I guess I am making it sound like too romantic a thing when in reality all I did was look all day long at endless lines of text on a black background and try to figure out if the code was working fine or not and if it was not then write something to control it.

Now most of times, the preventive bit of code we had to write was already with us - our Seniors - would have already predicted and written such codes to prevent any mishaps and all we were supposed to do was to pick and drop it where the code was broken and then back to monitoring the text. If at all we did find something for which a pre-written code was not there, we were supposed to only inform our Seniors about it and wait for them to take care of it or tell us what to do.

And trust me, viewing multitudinous lines of code on a black screen will give you a headache after just ten minutes of viewing. But this is not about my pathetic excuse of a life then but about the fantastic life I have now and the journey of my rags to riches.

On this particular day, just a normal day like all others till then, I had taken a break from my work to visit nature’s call. For those of us uninitiated to office etiquettes, nature’s call is the safest way to shirk work. They usually will not shout at you if you go to the loo and take a bit longer to get back to your workstation. You are allowed to have a slightly busy bowel movement. Or so I used to think.

But let me not digress. So I went for nature’s call and was sitting in the loo wondering how to waste a few more minutes in here. I know that they will make me stay back in the evening to finish my bit of work for my two minutes of apathy. But rebelliousness is the sign of a healthy mind. After passing an inordinate amount of time in the loo and exhausting all the curse words in my limited vocabulary, I sauntered back to my menial pigeon hole after a brief stop at the coffee machine. And who do I see but the CEO of the company standing at my desk with my line manager. I did mention earlier that I am the smallest fish in this ocean. I am but just a junior coder. I have on my head a senior coder whose boss is the project manager whose boss is the line manager and whose boss after a few more in that line is the CEO. So having her standing there looking around and my line manager almost at the point of breaking out into tears, I walk in with a cup of coffee in hand.

I had no intention of saying the things I did or meant to react the way I did but my advice to you is to not curse in the loo and make yourselves angry when you have to come back to your seat and work.

So our charming and viperous CEO, in what I call a jumpsuit but civilised people call a business suit and looking quite dapper even at her age and growing wrinkles was standing at my desk simply with a killer smile on her face. My line manager was standing next to her wringing his hands and looking as if he had a severe case of constipation, diarrhea and a heart attack combined. My heart went from “lub-dub” to “boom-bada-boom-boom” at this sight and I involuntarily turned 360 degrees to be away till the time the coast was clear. But my luck was not going to let me slave anymore and I heard my line manager cry out my name “Rakesh! Where have you been? We have been waiting here to speak to you.”

I turn back and mumble something but I manage to keep my eyes averted from both the CEO and my line manager. If I had a choice, I would have fought a wild bear than talk to these two. Not that I am on a friendly basis with these top people but I am sure this will not be good. So, I walk these last few steps to my seat in a daze and sit down and open my code and pretend to work.

I hear the sugary sarcasm filled voice of the CEO, “Oh! Rakesh is back after his break. How are you Rakesh?”

“Good thanks!” I mumble. Still not able to look up into their eyes. Guilt is something I do not handle well.

“That was quite an impressive break you have become used to nowadays.” my CEO continued in her acid laced tongue.

“The login details say that Rakesh has been taking breaks of more than 2 hours every day ma’am.” my Line Manager chipped in with an obvious but difficult to deny statistic.

I said nothing but something in me just blasted and I stared at my manager in anger and then just kept looking at them both and hoping that they would say something more. I guess they were waiting for me to respond. When the staring match did not resolve for around a minute, the CEO piqued “Let’s discuss this in my cubicle.” and walked away, closely followed by the manager and me, quite reluctantly. I guess I knew in my consciousness where this will lead.

Her cubicle is another pigeon hole although a lot bigger than my common workstation. And it is a lot chilly, not because of the air conditioning. In my last 6 months of work, I have not seen the inside of that room ever and do not remember an instance when anyone who was invited to that hell room did not come back looking harassed and worried.

C’est la vie. I stood up and walked behind them both to the room. To make a long story short, I presented that I do not have control over my bowel movements, they countered with statistics, I counter feigned with the information that some others in the team were taking unscheduled offs, they broke convention and instead of giving me a warning, asked me if I want to really continue working. I got angry, shouted at them and was served a notice to clean up my desk by the end of the day. I had but little possessions at my desk and did not wait till the end of the day but cleared up within an hour of this episode.

As I opened the front door a blast of chilly wind in July hit me with the realisation that now I have no job, no money to see me through the end of the month and no prospects yet of finding a replacement job. What will I do now?

The ride back in the metro served to cool me down a bit till I reached my crummy room. As I lay down on my bed, thinking of how to make some money and also make these people pay, I hit on a brilliant idea. I had been working on a game and I could maybe write a code to siphon off money from the company via the game. I jumped off bed and started my laptop. This will work. I have the access codes for the server and I do know the code well to hide my traces. This I can make work.

After a whole day and night of coding and thinking and re-thinking on my plans, I got six full grown code characters for the game who will behave as humans in the game and help me get some money from the company. The following is a list of these humanoid code robots I created.

DEEP: Directive and Effective Elimination Program or The mainframe of the code that ensures the cloud is used for all transactions making it difficult to find my real location. This code will take care of all the others.

JACKY: Joint Access Communication for Key Youth behaviour or the code that takes care of all human based communication to make it all look genial and normal. This code checks the conversations with humans from all the other codes and regulates them.

ILIYAS: Intelligent Low-Initiative Youth Access System or the part of the code that attracts real humans to the game who will buy the goodies. This code showcases the need for real humans to play better and introduce them to goodies for which they will want to pay.

HARSHAD: Higher Artificial Reasoning and Shared Asset Development or the code that takes care that all the other codes keep behaving as real humans.

DEB: Digital Efficiency Bureau or the code that checks the functioning of the other codes and provides reference points for better functioning and ensures that the payment after bouncing around on the cloud reaches my bank account.

And last but not least...

SATYAJET: Systematic Attention Yearning Access Jabbed Ethernet Technology or the code that mimics attention seeking youth behaviour to make the whole look like a normal group of people playing the game. To make this code mimic a human I ensured that it start every conversation with a Groot Salute i.e. say his name before and after any conversation. Irritating yet cute!

I chose the names of these codes after a lot of thought so that any data sweep activity from the company will see only normal humans playing the game and not find anything out of the ordinary, except for the fact that these people are really good at the game. I added these codes or humanoid code robots to a clan to make it sound even real and not leave them at random. This clubbing of the codes would give me easy access to them all instead of searching for them all over the code field.

These codes then were added to a clan named ‘Team India’ to give it a regional and nationalistic flavour. This should ensure that more people are attracted to the clan. I reviewed their progress the first few minutes. ‘Deep’ as expected quickly rose to professional ranking and then after a directive from ‘Deb’ started behaving more human and lost a few games. ‘Iliyas’ started inviting real human players to the clan so that they would share their player data and bank details. ‘Harshad’ scanned the databases and helped ‘Iliyas’ to choose only good players from other clans who have a record of buying various in-game goodies. And ‘Satyajet’ kept boosting real human player moral by sharing funny anecdotes and inspirational quotes with his quirky ‘Groot Salute’. Code ‘Iliyas’ in the meantime started sharing tips and tricks to play better which entails real humans to want to buy goodies to improve their game.

And soon, ‘Deep’ found a real human who was in the process of buying some better clubs and balls for a higher level game and redirected the money instead of to the company, into my private bank account. Code ‘Harshad’ quickly re-created from the existing code the balls and clubs the gentleman ordered. And so I made my first money from the game. An SMS from the bank confirmed that money had indeed been transferred to my account. The code was behaving and all I needed now was a bit of rest. This was turning out to be better than I had first thought. No work, all money.

The code and its bots will ensure I have a steady flow of money. I needed some sleep.

As I dozed off, I dreamt that I had made a million dollars through my code and was driving a Lamborghini Roadster. The CEO had her thumb out asking me for a lift which I refused and stuck out my tongue at her while passing. The Line Manager was standing behind her with a flabbergasted expression and staring at my success.

I woke up finally after 6 hours of a nice sleep and quickly opened up the laptop to check the progress of my bots. They had been really successful. The clan had risen not suddenly but seemingly gradually to a decent position and had attracted the best spenders in the game to help them line my pockets. I checked my bank account next and saw 10 thousand dollars in it. Not bad for a day’s work!

Basically one night and my bots do not tire of playing all day and night so they are better than real humans. I made a few changes in the ‘Deb’ code to dilute a bit of the directives that restricted other codes to get me more money. Real money. And soon I had another 10 thousand in my account.

I am an idealist and with over 70 thousand in my account in the next few days, made a list of things that I thought I would require to live like a king. The Lamborghini from my dream was the last of in that list. I shall get it soon. Maybe a month’s earning will get me my dream car.

I called up a few of my friends and decided to give them a party. That is what one does when they have a lot of money and time and no worries about waking up early to reach the office or any other niggling pains of normal puny humans. I did feel like a god.

Not all of the friends I called to the nearby pub made it for the party but the two who did were quite impressed with my new spending power. I was cautious even after a few drinks to not let them on to my scheme of earning easy money.

A few more days of this easy life and a few million dollars now in my account, life was turning a bit not so much fun as I thought it would be. I had no need to constantly keep a vigil over my code. I was content with life and the money flowing into my account and the almost constant pings from my phone regarding SMS’s from the bank account. I had even started getting unsolicited calls from the bank asking me if I would like to invest in various saving funds and such but I was not interested in earning more. My codes shall do all the earning I needed for me.

As I was lying prone on my bed around 3 weeks after my having quit the regular job and basically just living my life, my doorbell rang. I live in a small dingy room and was now planning to move into better accommodations, something that suited a soon to be billionaire. Maybe I should buy a Bugatti instead of a Lamborghini, or why not both. I sigh at my day-dream and I open the door. I had ordered a pizza online. My codes do not need sustenance but I do.

I find a tall muscular person standing with some papers in his hand and another person slightly leaner and scowling at the door. The muscular person said in a voice that felt like sandpaper rubbing on metal “Are you Rakesh?” I just nod my head. I had no idea that pizza delivery guys nowadays come in pairs. Oh wait, I do not see any pizza boxes or the smell of a pizza anywhere.

Suddenly the leaner fellow rushes at me and pins me to the floor with my hands in his steely grip and his knee to my back. I am not a small person myself but this sudden move was not I was expecting from a pizza delivery guy. I tried to buck him off my back but he pressed my hands together and his knees into my back even harder till I just gave up.

“I have just a few dollars on me. Are you robbing me?” I cried out.

I could hear the smaller of them two snicker and felt him shuffle something and felt something metallic clanging down on my wrists. No words were spoken by either of them. The older one in the meantime just sauntered into the room and made himself comfortable in my chair. I could only perceive his boots from my present angle. They looked like military boots. After adjusting his feet on my rather plain chair he grumbled “I am Sergeant Dibbs from the Economic Offences Wing. You are under arrest. We have a few questions to ask. If you cooperate, no harm will come to you.” He did not even bother to introduce the second man riding my back.

So, I was being arrested and not being robbed. That was a relief in itself. But I was being arrested. Why, what had I done?

And then it dawned on me that they must be from my past company who must have found out about my bots and their money making ways. I was prepared for this as well. I had thought everything through before I started on this path. I am not as big a nincompoop as my past CEO thinks. They will not find me involved in the suction of money happening from their accounts. I shall have my revenge on that acid-laced tongue.

“Can I sit somewhere please?” I said by now having quite recovered my breath and shock.

“I will cooperate for sure. I am not sure why or what you are doing arresting me but sure, I will cooperate.”

The second man moved off my back and walked away to stand next to the door. I am sure to intercept me on the door in case I felt adventurous enough to attempt running with my hands tied behind my back. As if I shall try something like that when I know how to get out of this situation. I have taken care of this situation even before it happened. That is why I had ‘Deep’ throw things all over the cloud so that they cannot trace it to me. I was again totally in control of this situation.

As I got up on my knees awkwardly, Sergeant Dibbs moved out of the chair in a cat like movement, grabbed my arm and pulled me right off the floor to deposit me in an instant on my small bed next to the chair which made all the air in me just whoosh out. Now I am not a small man but this guy was huge. Apes will look small going against him one on one. His bulk and aggressiveness did make me a bit queasy but I know he will not hurt me. Right? I am sure he should not. I hope I am right. I might be slightly larger than the second man but I am not at all an aggressive person. Any signs of violence and I will be a goner.

I blurted out “See I have done nothing. What is it that you want?” I felt my voice quiver. I am not comfortable with this ape of a Sergeant around.

The Ape smiled a yellow smile and took his seat on the chair just a feet or two away from me. I could smell his cheap cologne from this distance and see his unshaven two day old stubble from here and it was an ugly sight. And the smell from his now open mouth. Yuck!

Not that I had taken a bath in the last two days but I was only procrastinating whereas this fellow is supposed to be on duty and yet.

The Ape finally said “You know the cloud bouncing your IP all over the world was a neat trick but you shouldn’t have made the ‘Satyajet’ bot so gullible and human. All we had to do was pose as a girl and ask him for your address and he blurted out the whole plan.”

And that’s is how all my hard work and well earned money which I was yet to spend got confiscated. All thanks to a glitch in the behaviour of a too human adolescent bot who as per program could not divert his attention from a girl. ‘Jacky’ too had not been programed as well as I thought to control ‘Satyajet’. One more line of code into ‘Jacky’ and all would have gone as planned. All my Lamborghinis and Bugatti and bungalows… all gone in a mere instant. All my millions gone.

I am writing this from prison. I implore you not to follow my example as you too might reach this destination. Work hard and get your riches. There is no easy way to be rich.

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