The cool breeze tickled Mipsy’s face as she looked out her window. She was really going to miss this place. Now that she was moving away, she had begun to notice all of the small things that she liked here.
The gentle breeze that lingered here, the great view she had from the tower window, even the strange smells that flowed through the house like a song only the nose could hear, were all things that she had come to realize she was going to miss.
When she had first told the Wizard that she was leaving, she had been afraid that he would become angry with her, that he would think she was deserting him. When she had told him, though, he had seemed completely unperturbed and continued stirring a potion that he was brewing.
Later, when she had come down to ask him how to do a spell known as Eradicate, he had said, “I know you must leave. Rohane needs someone like you to help him.” Then he had shown her how to cast Eradicate.
Question about that name had swum through her mind, randomly surfacing at random moments. Who was Rohane? Why did he need help? What did he look like? Where did he live? Was he an adult? Or a mere child? Her throat had burned, her lips wanting to ask the Wizard these questions, but every time that she had started to give into the temptation, the Wizard had nodded and knowingly said, “You will know soon enough.”
Despite what the Wizard said, Mipsy had pondered the name Rohane, trying to decide what he would look like and how she would recognize him when she finally did meet him. Or maybe, she had thought, he was a powerful wizard, much like the Wizard that she was apprenticed to and when she saw him she would just know. But then, why would he need her help?
Whatever the answers to these questions, Rohane was more than just a name to her, even now, when she didn’t even have a face to associate with that name. He represented hope, life, and a purpose to a life that she had yet to live.
THWACK! A loud clang rang out through the room, bouncing off the stone walls like a pinball, the sound continuing on indefinitely. The noise startled her, and she reluctantly left her memories and jerked back into reality.
She whirled around, looking for what had caused the noise. After a quick scan of the room, she noticed a large book that must have fallen off one of the many shelves in this musty tower room. Mipsy walked towards it, and curiously picked it up. Surviving the Simulations: A How-To Guide by Thelm Voshcan.
What was that doing here? It didn’t belong here. Looking around, she found the button that she had been told to press whenever she felt she was done with her training. Mipsy sighed and pressed it, leaving this safe and comfortable “reality” behind.
As Mipsy awoke, she looked around. The room looked the same, it hadn’t changed at all while she was in the Virtual Simulation Training Grounds, or V-STG for short.
OWWWW! Standing up, she gasped in pain. Her legs hurt to be stood on. How long was she in there again? Six months was the average, but she had stayed longer because they had felt she was not ready.
Mipsy rubbed her legs, trying to soothe the painful cramping that crippled her legs. Her arms also hurt, but not nearly as bad. Breathing deeply and trying not to yelp when she took even the smallest of steps, Mipsy slowly made her way towards the door.
After what felt like forever, she was there, and, breathing a sigh of relief, she commanded the door to open. Nothing happened. Once again, she told the door to open. The words SYNTAX ERROR ran across a screen above the door in harsh red writing.
Mipsy let out a cry of frustration, and, to her great surprise, the words PASSWORD ACCEPTED replaced the red word in a bright, somewhat calming shade of green.
The door opened, and Mipsy peered out into an abandoned, dimly lit hallway. She wanted to walk out into the hallway, and through the closed door at the end of her hall. Mipsy wanted to see someone, see another living soul. Sure, in the simulation she had the Wizard to keep her company, but the fact was, he wasn’t real. He was just some computer program, designed to help train her for both the Real-Life and Virtual missions to come. And besides, she wanted to know how that book had ended up in her simulation.
Strengthened by these thoughts, Mipsy took a step forward. A quick, dagger-like pain shot up through her leg, bringing her to her knees. She wasn’t going anywhere, not without help. So she sat there, waiting for someone to come by and notice her.
After what seemed like forever, one of the doors lining the hallway opened, and a figure stepped out. Mipsy couldn’t tell what they looked like until they stepped under the light. The figure was Kyrii, a yellow Kyrii with a grey dress on. She was holding something in her hands, carrying it like it was the most important thing in the world. Her dress was strange, the bottom half and the top half looked completely different, like a skirt and a shirt had been sewn together at the last minute. The bottom half was beautiful, with flowered designs sown across it. The top half, however, was decorated with thick horizontal stripes, a light shade of grey an a dark shade of grey. The two patterns on their own might have looked okay, but together they looked so comical that Mipsy couldn’t help but laugh.
As soon as the laugh escaped her lips, the Kyrii spun around, her eyes scanning for whoever had made that noise. Then she noticed Mipsy and walked towards her. “Why are you just sitting there?” she asked, staring at Mipsy curiously.
“Well....” Mipsy started, her face turning red. Now she felt like an idiot, not even strong enough to control her own laughter.
“Just out of Simulation Training Grounds #38795, I see,” the Kyrii said, offering out her hand. “I thought you weren’t due out until tomorrow. Why did you leave early?”
Mipsy wanted to ask the Kyrii how she knew which training ground Mipsy had been in, but instead grasped the Kyrii’s hand and said, “I had to ask a question. Also, what can I call you.”
“And your question couldn’t wait another day?” the Kyrii said, smiling. “Oh, and June, call me June.” June helped Mipsy up and continued, ”The reason you are unable to walk is not, like you probably assumed, because you were in the simulation longer than most, but because you came out before your scheduled time. If you were still in the simulations, then your physical body would slowly become animate again, in preparation for your consciousness to return. But since you decided to come out early, you don’t have that advantage, and therefore your body is still numb. Enough of that, though; we must get you to the Hospital Wing if you are to be healthy enough to receive your assignment tomorrow.” With that, June stopped talking and began helping Mipsy towards the Hospital Wing.
Looking into the mirror, Mipsy smiled. Most of her embarrassment from the previous day was gone, when she had found out that the book in her simulation was found in all simulations. It was one of the few things that all simulations had in common. It was there to give advice to those just entering a new simulation. The fact that she had not noticed it until eight months after she had entered was somewhat of an embarrassment to her.
Still, that was yesterday, and today she was going to meet her new captain. Mipsy straightened her pale grey outfit for the hundredth time, and then began once again pacing the room, waiting to be called. She paced, back and forth, over and over again, until she felt her legs tiring, and returning to adjusting her outfit in the mirror.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, a knock came on her door. “Come in,” Mipsy said, quickly looking away from her mirror. She did not want to make a bad impression on whoever was going to open the door.
Mipsy heard the commanding voice of an unknown figure tell the door “Open” and the door slid open. Standing in the doorway was a white Blumaroo, in a grey outfit similar to her own, only darker.
“Hello Mipsy, I’m Rohane. Would you like to take a walk through the halls with me?” the Blumaroo asked.
Rohane. That was the name she had heard the Wizard in the simulations say. Could this be who he was talking about? Or was it mere coincidence. No, it was not coincidence. Her experience told her that there was no such thing as coincidence. Everything happened for a reason, as a direct result of something else. But should she go with him? She wanted to meet her new captain, and she was afraid that they would call for her before they got back. Still, though, she was curious to learn who this Rohane person was. Mipsy had made her decision. “Sure, I’d love to.”
“Okay, come on,” Rohane said, and walked out of her room, Mipsy right beside him.
They walked in silence for a while, through the long and surprisingly empty hallways. Then Rohane broke the spell of silence, and said, “Big day for you today. Heard you are getting your assignment today. Nervous?”
“A little,” Mipsy admitted. “I keep imagining that I get assigned to an awful ship, and end up having to do something like oversee the reconstruction of Kreludor or something boring like that.”
Rohane smiled for a fraction of a second, before his face returned to that expression that most people spend most of their lives wearing, when they are neither happy nor sad, but somewhere in between. After studying his face for a minute, Mipsy decided that she must have just imagined the smile.
“Well, don’t worry, that team left yesterday. Oh, and I got you something,” Rohane said, and pulled something out of a pocket that she had failed to notice before. He handed it to her, and said, “Open it.”
Somewhat hesitantly, Mipsy unwrapped the small white parcel. Inside was a small patch, with a blue symbol that she didn’t recognize on it. “Here, let me help you put that on,” Rohane said, removing a clear film from the back of it, revealing a sticky surface. He pressed it onto the right shoulder of her outfit, and smiled - a real smile, that lasted.
Mipsy smiled too. “Thanks but, wh-” Mipsy started, but then it clicked. “You’re th-” Mipsy once again started, but was silenced when Rohane began to speak. “Yes, as you have probably guessed, I am your new captain, and you are going to be the second in command on my ship. You will have never heard of my ship, or the mission to which it is bound, so I have much to tell you. But that will have to wait until later. Come, I’ll show you the ship.”
Mipsy’s smile was even greater now. She could hardly wait, could hardly fathom what lay ahead for her. And as they walked towards the ship, Mipsy felt happy. Not just the happy that you feel win you win a paintbrush from the Fruit Machine, or from finally being adopted from the Pound by a loving owner after months, but a true happiness that one is lucky to experience even once in their life.