Epilogue

Time stopped, and beings descended. They examined the frozen scene. A Predecessor in the midst of death, a Traveller erasing himself.

Wipe the entire server. It’s time we started from scratch.

No. There are too many ongoing storylines, too many resources already devoted to this project.

Reverse time. Fork it.

No. The Gam3 will not be restored by backups. Play with a copy on your private server.

It’s not the same. You never provide true copies.

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The Empire 6.12

The catacombs were laid out like a graveyard, a mass burial site for the living. It was as heavily guarded as the imperial palace, if not more so. Predecessors, giant mechs, and numerous servants stood at the gate and patrolled the grounds.

Extending his senses, Alan found that this place amplified signals rather than absorbing them. It felt like he could reach out and connect to the satellites and starships orbiting the planet.

A massive half-sphere mausoleum that looked like a space observatory lay at the center of the catacombs. A massive wave of signals was constantly being broadcast from it. Smaller half-sphere buildings dotted the grounds as well, also trading signals with the stars.

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The Empire 6.11

“Looking for something?” Phantom asked. He and Alan stood alone in the Titan’s hold, where the items from the Black Rose guild had been stored, as well as the power armor, weapons, and miscellaneous drops from the crew Alan had eliminated.

“Checking what was nabbed,” Alan said. “This has to be what, at least a few billion credits? I should get credit for retrieving some of it.”

“Don’t count on it,” Phantom said.

“I remember in the original message that if the Extinction Event is too brutal on the infrastructure then game areas may be reset,” Alan said. “Where did the nukes go?”

“They’re in a safe location,” Phantom said. “I couldn’t help but notice you took an interest in my bomb designs. Looking for something in particular?”

“Trying to figure out a weapon capable of killing one of the Three,” Alan said. He manipulated Counterfeit to bring up only the reverse option of the end to an empire quest and showed it to Phantom.

“That’s why you want to meet the Emperor, to complete a quest? Alan, let me tell you now, you do not want to meet the Emperor,” Phantom said. “Twice, twice I have met the devil, and each time brought new levels of suffering that I had not imagined possible.”

“Thanks for the warning, but I can handle myself,” Alan said.

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The Empire 6.10

The moment the dropship left Khersath’s atmosphere, the presence was there. It was as undeniable as bright sunlight drilling into Alan’s retinas. And his eyes were now more sensitive than most.

A living god. One of the Three. A behemoth that single-handedly swallowed up fleets and came out stronger when the battle was done. The Weaver.

It turned out they had met before. The Weaver had been part of the AI interaction examination. An entire galaxy, wrapped up inside a single construct. It had pierced through and examined Alan’s brain in an instant, reorganizing it and granting him computational energy, in addition to the data interaction ability.

All of Alan’s plans began to unravel. If this was the entity he needed to bypass, to fool, he would never have a chance. This signal was so strong, so powerful that it drowned everything else out. There was only one option.

Alan connected to the Weaver. The Weaver accepted the connection. Alan could feel that the connection was but one of millions. Billions.

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The Empire 6.9

Alan made a decision. It probably wasn’t the correct one. An unoptimal choice, as Eve would have put it. It still felt right to Alan. He had picked a side, though probably for all the wrong reasons.

“I am willing to serve the Emperor, with a few conditions,” Alan said.

“Go on. Though you wouldn’t be answering to the Emperor, more the Empire. Various cells working independently, it’s a complex beast, yadda yadda yadda,” Phantom said while waving a bottle in the air.

“I want access to all information the Empire has, including scans of high-rank AIs, a clear path to upgrading my Rogue class, and improved implants without the kill switch,” Alan said.

“That, and more, I can promise you. But only with time, only if you serve the Empire well,” Phantom said. “You can’t jump out of nowhere and start demanding the world. It doesn’t work like that. I can give you the information I have, the scan of Eve I performed when you first arrived. But that’s all I have on hand other than platinum marks.”

“Everything else will need to wait until the extinction event is over. I can promise you rank D citizenship in the Empire. Enigma is probably one of the best class mentors you can find, but given how things are going he’s probably dead. The Empire has a wide array of implant plans and options.”

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