By Merry Doc (Kai-Uwe Fröhlich)
After my documentary about the daily unlife on the upper levels, I managed to install a microphone far deeper. The atmosphere is much more professional there, but I am afraid most of what the inhabitants have to kill is time. --
"Anybody interested in another game of poker?"
"Can't we do anything else? I would be a level 50 gambler just for getting an experience point for each Full House. If Bloodlust would join us, we could play Bridge, for a change."
"She refused to come to Laz's room from the first day on. Do you know why she is so mad at you, Laz?"
"Sure. When she applied for the job, I showed her around, explained the rules, presented her the gifts to drop, and then offered her the Blizzard standard conditions: free silicone implants, free potions, 1000 coins per customer for killing him or dropping him a gift. But having seen the store, she became greedy and argued that it would be unfair that the players got the good stuff and she only a few coins. So I made her a special offer she fell for: She would get the equivalent of whatever Diablo would drop. She expected that to be a great deal, extrapolating from the normal boss drops, and signed a 5 years contract, non-revocable. You all know by now what a miser the red chic... um, the chief is. Look at this actual example: from 6 Diablo kills last week some random Mage, MerryDoc, got: 218 gold, nothing, a plain buckler, nothing, 233 gold, and nothing again. Keep in mind that Bloodlust even has to pay for the Mana (not to forget the installment for the implants), and you know why she is not overly fond of me."
"OK, any suggestions for some entertainment?"
"Trolling on AGD," Vex suggests.
"Admittedly, your woman-hating '50 yr old Marriage and Family Counselor' was a perfect scream," Jade replies, "but if you do it too often, someone might get suspicious. And the umptieth 'Want to become the greatest player, post all hacks for me,' just to annoy Paladijn has also become a bit long in the tooth. If only Steve would post the next part of HellCraft where I will be starring. By now, you got all the good scenes."
A ringing interrupts the talk.
"Lawyers office, Lazarus, archbishop and advocate, what do you want?"
"Oh Gris, it's you. I was expecting a call from Blizzard, which should call any minute. You know, I will handle the legal formalities for Diablo II, shipping immediately."
"I already told you when? 18 months ago? Maybe, but now it is really just round the corner. But why d´you call? Oh, I see, a visitor. Thanks for the warning, bye."
Putting his Bountiful Very Short Staff of Telephone back in his coat, Laz starts shouting orders: "Visitor approaching, switch on the player monitor. You two, teleport over and arrange the altar at once. You messed it up last week. If that warrior had not worn a Gotterdamerung and been only interested in the drops, he would have been mighty surprised to see a pack of cards and three glasses of champagne instead of a dead boy. If ever Blizzard finds out you can forget the job of Harem supervisor in DII for sure. Jade, Vex, grab your gifts. No, not a Naj's, it is just a beginner on his first trip, level 17 and fireball at three. Too good droppings that early spoil the game in the long run, and we want him to buy DII, don't we. Hey, look at the monitor. A PK has arrived, smashed the other visitor and is approaching. Level 80, Godmode, all spells at 30, ain't that the hacker who is bragging about his great trainer on AGD? Girls, grab the cheap pack: Book of Firebolt, Godly Cap and Rags of the Ages."
"Wait," Jade interrupts. "For that special guy I have been planning a surprise since long. You still have that unique perfect Godly Full Plate of the Whale? What do you think I have been knitting all the time? Look, a Lightforge Crown, made from the odds and ends of broken stuff. Think of what happens when he posts on AGD about these items dropping legally? How many people will believe him, however often he will repeat it? It will drive him insane."
"A hellish idea," Laz exclaims. "I will suggest you as a member of the brain storming team for Diablo III."
Immediately after taking these notes, Merry Doc went down to deinstall the microphone (even an Archbishop has a right for some privacy without constant observation by Dreadjudge Starreye). Jade dropped him the long hoped for Dreamflange, probably to compensate to the ridiculous gifts of the big boss. Thanks, Jade.
By Steve Dong
Later that evening...
Lazarus came running at the sound of Black Jade's familiar cry of pain and rage. Obviously, some hero had broken into the temple and had King's Sword of Hasted her. He cursed. No one had told him that there were heroes in the labyrinth, and he had been in the john with the HellCraft script memorizing his (few) lines. The point was, he hadn't been in place when the hero or heroes breached the temple. He was in deep Brown Runes. He wondered if anyone would believe that he'd just lagged out. Or maybe he could say it was just one of those random never-repeated anomalies like encountering Diablo in the Butcher's room or finding a Gnarled Root ring.
"Abandon your foolish quest!" he shouted running into the temple. Then he stopped. Black Jade was alone. She held the HellCraft script in one hand and a cell phone in the other. She stared at the phone, her eyes full of venom. Then she hurled it to the stone floor. She blasted it with a couple of Bloodstars just for good measure.
"What's the matter?" ventured Lazarus. He'd seen this mood before and would have run for cover if she hadn't already spotted him.
"Look at this!" she demanded pointing to the script.
Lazarus looked, but wasn't sure what to say. At least she wasn't scheduled to go under her own knife on the altar.
"It has me listed as a Special Effect!" cried Black Jade. She was uncharacteristically near tears. "A CGI!"
"Well, at least you'll get the voice-over," offered Laz.
Black Jade spat. "Synthesized and modulated. No one will know it's me. And on top of that, they made me fat. I mean really fat, with spiny legs. Lots of them!"
"There, there," soothed Laz. "It's not as bad as all that. People always remember the special effects in these things long after they've forgotten the actors."
"You really think so?"
"You think people went to see Jurassic Park to see Jeff Goldblum? Trust me on this," Lazarus assured her.
"Actually, I went to see Laura Dern running around the jungle in those shorts," admitted Black Jade.
"She was a special effect too," said Lazarus. "Besides, look at my part. Dolt pulls me out of a pod and then Red Vex kills me. Plus, I'm not comfortable with the nude scene. It's gratuitous. Why can't I be in a tattered robe or something?"
"Hey, gratuitous nude scenes made me what I am today." Black Jade winked.
Laz sighed. He did not stare at her bare breasts. He saw them every day, after all. "I think it's not quite the same with me," he said. "You're coming off in this a lot better than I am. You even got to appear as yourself, even if it was only in a flashback. What I want to know is who Red Vex slept with to get such a choice part."
"Ha! Who didn't she sleep with?"
"Not Steve," said Laz. "His wife'd kill him real slow."
Black Jade had a thought. "You know, we can neither confirm nor deny that Red Vex slept with Steve. Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Laz?"
"I think so, Black Jade, but how come you can find the Rod of Onan in multi-player games too?"
"Try to stay with me here. I'm saying that once things get into the rumor mill we have no control over them. We could make things very uncomfortable for a couple of deserving individuals."
By Merry Doc (Kai-Uwe Fröhlich)
Realizing that I obviously deinstalled the microphone too early, I reinstalled it in Laz's chamber again - not out of curiosity, just to keep the public informed.
Jade enters Laz's chamber. She obviously is in the best of moods. Laz just as obviously is not.
"Where in hell have you been?!" he shouts. "You have missed your office hours since yesterday. Luckily all visitors used Fire Walls to clean my room, so we could cover up by painting a bare ass with bright colors on the floor. But next time, you are definitely fired."
Jade's mood is undisturbed. "I made a short trip to Hollywood. Now I have good and bad news for you. Which first?"
"The bad one" Vex yells, but Jade replies "That would spoil the point. Good one first. HellCraft will be made into a major movie. I had an intimate talk with Steven Spielberg. He just loved the special effects. Actually, he also liked the story of HellCraft, which I showed him afterwards... Now for your bad news: Pam Anderson is babysitting, so I could convince him that I should play the Vex. Sorry, babe, you are just not the type. He wants to get Tom Hanks for Gris. Any suggestions for Ichabod?"
As I know kids may read this I will skip Vex's reply, just summarize that it is verbose and loud enough to be heard in the catacombs. Finally she calms down.
Jade continues: "Of cause, much has to be rewritten. It will be a movie for the whole family, so our love scene has to go. But the battle scenes will be gorgeous; Steven assured me that the computer-generated Zergs would look exactly like the real ones. The exploding Cain will set a new standard in special effects. Oh, drop a note to this guy Steve that he should start HellCraft II ASAP*. If HI will be a success - and who can doubt it with this director and especially with this leading actress - a sequel will be in quick demand. BTW, this does not mean that I have forgiven him."
"And what about me?" Laz asks.
"You will have to look for a new go-go."
* I second this suggestion
By Steve Dong
"Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and die!" Cain burst open in a spray of poison gas and writhing parasites.
Red Vex stood back and allowed the gas to dissipate She then knelt down and sorted through the blood-sucking worms until she spotted the one that was her agent.
"I need to speak with you," she said holding the slimy creature between her thumb and forefinger.
"Look, if this is about that whole Black Jade/Spielberg thing...."
"What can I say? I know I dropped the ball. You wanna kick my ass? Go ahead, I deserve it," said the worm.
Red Vex smiled. "First of all, you don't even have an ass. Second of all, it's no big deal. If this was still a local production, I'd be upset about Jade playing me. But by going to the big boys, she's opened up a whole new can of worms." She paused. "Um, no offense."
"None taken," replied the agent.
"I managed to get some copies of some documents and share them with some studio execs I..." She chose the word she wanted to use. "...know. Their unanimous reaction was, 'Who the hell is this? We want a big name in there for that kind of money!' Jade's out. She'll be lucky if she gets a walk-on."
"So they're going with Pam Anderson again?"
Red Vex chuckled. "No, thankfully. She's got the IQ of dryer lint."
"So? If Hollywood prohibited stupid people from working, the unemployment rate would skyrocket," noted the agent thinking of several of his clients.
"True, but she can't act. Did you see her in Barb Wire?"
"No," admitted the worm.
"Neither did anyone else. I'm thinking more along the lines of Sarah Michelle Gellar for me. I think she could do it. She's popular and cute and has experience with the whole monster/SFX genre. If you want a radical casting choice, maybe Traci Lords."
The agent squirmed with delight. "Who else?"
"Maybe Sandra Bullock as Solo and, definitely, Matt Frewer as Ichabod. Haven't thought of anyone for Dolt. Someone big and glowering. Maybe an ex-athlete. Someone suggested Tom Hanks as Gris, but I've always pictured more of a Colm Meaney/Chief O'Brien kind of character."
"So what do you want me to do?" asked the parasite.
"I want you to go bore into a few studio brains..."
"There's an oxymoron."
"....I want you to bore into a few studio brains, or whatever it is they use, and lay a few eggs. You know, put some ideas in some heads. Make sure someone good plays me."
"Cool. I'm on it," said the worm. "By the way, did anyone find out about HellCraft II?"
"I asked Steve about it," said Red Vex. "He began weeping and locked himself in the bathroom."
"Good. At least he didn't say no."
By Steve Dong
"Z-E-R-G-L-I-N-G," spelled Red Vex emptying her rack. "On a triple word score with a 50 point bonus for using all my letters."
"I challenge that," said Black Jade coolly.
"That's a load of Brown Runes," snapped Red Vex. "Everyone knows what a zergling is."
"Everyone except Merriam-Webster."
"Maybe we ought to take a break and do something different. Crool's new show is opening up in the gallery. He's added an espresso bar," suggested Red Vex hoping to avoid an exchange of Bloodstars.
"I remember when it used to be the church," complained Lazarus. "How's he going to explain all that if some hero ventures in?"
"Won't happen," said Vex. "They're all playing D2. Nobody's been down here in ages."
"Even Dolt managed to weasel his way into D2," said Black Jade.
"I thought there were no cross-overs," said Lazarus.
"I heard they made an exception. After all, the whole War Cry thing was his idea," said Vex. "I heard Solo convinced them she was a Sorceress."
"But do we get in? Noooo! Ungrateful fickle bastards," grumbled Black Jade. "I hate 'em all."
"Oh, you're just still sore about the Academy Awards," said Laz. "None of us got the recognition we deserved."
"Personally, I thought Nicole Kidman was perfect as me," said Red Vex. "It was like looking in a mirror."
"I thought Michael Dorn was outstanding as Dolt," added Lazarus. "By the end of the movie, everyone was going 'Worf who?' And don't forget James Earl Jones as the voice of CowLord."
"I don't want to hear about it!" snapped Black Jade. "I just don't want to talk about it anymore."
"I don't know why you're so bent out of shape," said Red Vex. "You're the only one who even got nominated."
"Best Performance in a Supporting Role by 3.3 Gigabytes of Data," said Lazarus with vicarious pride.
"It's an insult just to be nominated," muttered Black Jade.
"It's a bigger insult to lose," said Red Vex. "But it's not like it's her fault that Phantom Menace came out the same year. She should've taken it."
"Let's not talk about it anymore, okay?"
"Another game of Scrabble?" suggested Red Vex.
"How about Dungeons & Dragons?" suggested Lazarus.
"You are such a nerd," said Black Jade wrinkling her nose.
"How about Monopoly?" offered Red Vex.