“I wish I could play, but I’m stuck in this fleabag motel tonight.”
That was the latest text from Eraser, I mean Razor, to our online chat room. He’s one of our team of five that plays DayZ together. Having five of us together had only happened once, and it hadn’t ended well. Razor joined the other four of us without identifying himself, acted weird, and we blew him away.
DayZ is just kinda like that.
But with five of us, it was getting more and more common to get two or three of us togther. We were trying to get a couple more people to join us, so that there’d be less chance anyone would have to solo. We’d all learned how nice it is to have another set or two of eyes in the game, and nobody liked going alone any more.
Tonight we would have three of us online. Razor would have made four, but he was somewhere between somewhere and absolutely nowhere out on the road. Closer to nowhere. The picture he’d posted of the motel’s sign was not promising. Who would even name a place “Axe Clown Inn and Suites” anyway? You’d have to be very, very careful asking for that place with directory assistance.
We commiserated with him in the chatroom, then set up voice chat so that we could talk freely as well played. It took us forever to find one type for voice chat that worked for everyone, though what we’d settled on was a pain in the tookus for me. I had one set of headphones on my ears, and other with a better microphone hanging around my neck.
Trigger found us a good server, then we logged on. Every so often, we’d drop a note in the chatroom so that Razor would follow along to some degree.
“Dang, the airfield is untouched! And the only other players on are ‘LuZer’ and ‘BruZer’. Two to our four. Bet they don’t even want to touch us.”
“That’s great guys,” posted Razor. “If you find an M4, can you get it for me? I’ve already got all the stuff for one.”
“Even the buttstock with the Richard Nixon commemorative coin inlay?” asked Boomer.
“Mine’s got Lyndon Johnson,” posted Razor.
“Does that mean we have to be enemies?” posted Boomer.
“I...don’t even know what you mean,” from Razor.
We went through several buildings on the airfield. We couldn’t believe the stuff we were finding. It was absolutely untouched. We got clothes, backpacks, guns, ammo, medical supplies, and, most surprising of all, storage boxes to put it all in. We’d never been so well supplied.
“My inventory is full, but I think I can carry this M4 for you, Razor,” I posted. “I just can’t use my own rifle until I give it to you.”
“What’s its condition,” he replied.
“Pristine. Everything I’ve got it pristine. I’ve been tossing aside ‘worn’ stuff and replacing it with pristine on everything. Even my bootlaces are pristine. You wouldn’t believe the stuff we’ve been finding tonight. Boomer is throwing away shotgun ammo.”
“No way. I’ve got to get in on this. There’s got to be some way I can get on.”
I looked at my screen. I had a red ‘link’ symbol, meaning that my computer wasn’t talking to the server any more.
“Anyone else getting a no-contact message?” said Trigger, over voice chat.
We all came back, we were all getting it.
“Must be server reboot time,” said SoldierA. “You know what that means?”
“Find another server?” said Boomer.
“No, it means we log back in to the same server, and it’ll be totally restocked.”
There was a lot of jubilation on voice chat over that, though we were all stuffed to the gills with everything we could ever want. By the time we actually got kicked off the server, though, Trigger and Boomer decided they were going to call it a night.
“I don’t know what else I’d get,” said Boomer. “I’ve got four plastic cases stacked with shotgun ammo, a can opener, and, like, two cans of beans. Oh, a box of cereal, too, but I think all that’s left is the prize in the bottom.”
“And I’ve got work early tomorrow,” said Trigger. “Maybe we can log on at lunchtime and give some of this stuff away to bambies.”
“Yeah, then they won’t be bambies any more,” I said.
“Right,” said Trigger. “Which means we can shoot them.”
There was a moment of silence.
“If,” added Trigger, “they, you know, become bandits or something.”
“Right,” I said. Funny how there were always more bandits around when Trigger was there.
We dropped a message or two into the chat room letting Razor know what was up.
He came back, “I think I’ve got a way. My laptop’s up. I’ll log in as soon as I see you guys on. You’ve been driving me crazy with all the stuff you’re getting.”
SoldierA and I logged back on. In a moment, Razor was there, too. Even in voice chat. He was a little choppy, but we could understand him just fine.
“Got the internet password from the lobby?” I asked.
“Yeah, but their internet kept kicking me off. The ten minutes I managed to stay on, I couldn’t even get to my email,” said Razor. “Now it’s dead. I called the lobby, but they said the technician won’t be in to fix it till morning. I tried to get them to reset their router, but the lady up there is scared of it. She thinks it’s nuclear, like a microwave oven.”
“Microwave ovens aren’t nuclear.”
“I know that, but she thinks they are because everyone says they ‘nuke’ their food. So I’m on my own, here. Are we going to loot this place or what?”
The three of us backtracked over the course we’d taken before the server reset. The place was packed with stuff. As good as the first pass was, the second was even better.
“SoldierA, did you even know there was a platinum-covered can opener in this game?”
“You’re making that up.”
“Here, look at it,” I dropped it to the floor. A pristine platinum coated can opener. To be honest, I’d been sorely tempted to leave it behind and take the pristine aircraft-grade screwdriver on the shelf next to it.
“Armor piercing ammo!” said Razor.
“Is that good for my Mosin?” I asked.
“No, it’s for my M4!” said Razor. “Wow. That and the underslung M203 grenade launcher. Am I loaded for bear, or what?”
“They’re supposed to add ammo for the grenade launcher next week,” said SoldierA.
“Well, that’s what they said in this morning’s progress meeting, but one of the devs texted to his wife that he thinks next week’s schedule isn’t going to happen,” said SoldierA.
“Where do you get all this stuff?”
“A guy on the boards found the NSA tap on the dev’s phone, so all his texts go out on this Twitter account he set up now. Most of it’s stuff about their kids and cars, but every so often there’s a little gem like that.”
I shook my head. “Insane.”
“You’re the guy who paid for a game where the paint cans kill you,” said Razor.
“Twelve time,” I replied. “Point taken. Are you full on storage boxes yet, Razor? I’ve got a yellow one here. Pristine.”
“Uhhh. I’m looking for a green one now, actually. I want to color code them.”
SoldierA laughed. “Would you listen to us? Now we’re fussing over what color our pristine stuff is! Who would have ever thought we’d get equipped like this?”
“It is amazing,” I said, as I tossed a ‘worn’ trauma plate aside for another ‘pristine’ one. “Too bad they fixed the bean can bug. We’d be driving pristine T-72 tanks if they hadn’t.”
“What?” said Razor. “Tanks?”
“I’ll tell you about it another time,” said SoldierA.
“Portable blood bank,” said Razor.
“What?” said SoldierA.
“I just picked up a portable blood bank. It’s got like twenty slots, with prepared I.V.s of type O positive blood. It was right behind the three hundred round ammunition drum I picked up for my M4. It was full, too, by the way.”
“Guys, we have really struck it rich tonight,” said SoldierA. “Those items weren’t even supposed to be in the game yet.”
We heard a scream and the argh-I’m-dying sound of a character being seriously injured.
“What was that?” I said.
“Bandits? Razor, did you just kill someone?”
“Couldn’t have been someone killing him,” I said. “Not with all that armor on.”
“I don’t see him. Razor, were you by the stairs?”
I closed the door of the building, then crouched inside with my rifle.
“What do you think got him?”
“I don’t see him. Razor, hello?” he was using the in-game audio to call him, in case the voice chat connection had dropped out.
Then we saw something rise out of the floor. A body. It was like a ghost. It floated up into the air, hovered at waist height for a moment, then disappeared into the ceiling above.
“Was that a sign, or something?” I asked.
“Watch the door. I’m going upstairs,” said SoldierA.
“Don’t walk in front of any windows,” I said. “Darn bandit snipers!”
While he ran up the stairs I was wracking my brain, trying to think of whether there was any other way to get in or out of the building. I was reviewing the cover and concealment we had outside, trying to plan a route of escape. If they really had the drop on us, we might have to just log out here.
“He’s not up here. No body, nothing,” said SoldierA.
“Can’t sleep, clown’ll eat me...” I muttered.
“Guys? Hey, guys?” It was Razor!
“We hear you,” I said.
“Sorry about that. A call came in on my phone. Do you see me anywhere?”
“No,” said SoldierA. “I’ve been all over. Did someone shoot you?”
“I don’t know what happened. I think I’m dead. But I don’t know where. Can you get my gun? I really don’t want to lose that gun. I’ve think the flares for the Very pistol will shoot out of the M203 until they get the new ammo loaded. I really don’t want to lose that gun. I’d just upgraded the buttstock to the JFK commemorative model, too.”
“Wow,” said SoldierA, “the boards say that one makes it 14% more accurate than either the Nixon or Johnson commemorative buttstocks. We’re looking. You were still inside, right?”
“Yeah,” said Razor. “I was up near the head of the stairs. I went to answer the call, then when I came back the screen said I was dead.”
“Bandits,” I said. “You were right next to a window there. And probably silhouetted, at this time of day.”
“Darn. You can get my stuff, right?”
“I’ll drop my portable surgery,” I said, “and grab one of your containers. If we can find your body.”
“I guess I can give up the vehicle diagnostics kit and the Jerry can of gasoline,” said SoldierA. “We can probably get new ones before they add the vehicles in, anyway. But your body isn’t here.”
“Maybe it went through the wall,” I said, slowly. “Like when I died that other time.”
“When Boomer and I were with you,” said SoldierA. “Yeah. That means it would be outside.”
“Don’t go near the window!” I said.
“I’m not stupid,” said SoldierA. “Usually.”
We sat in the gathering darkness and thought. Razor let us know he’d started a new character, and was running in from the coast. Apparently the rest of the server was in good shape, he’d already picked up a screwdriver and a can of spaghetti, was wearing a Sid Vicious hoodie and a pair of cargo pants.
“They’ve got more pockets than usual, but I think I’m moving slower if I put stuff in the top pockets. They’re like, right at my crotch. Have you found my body?”
SoldierA and I looked at each other. Or, our characters in the game did. I did the ‘winding up’ movement, then moved over to open the doors and rush out. Maybe the bandits figured they’d got the only person here and moved on. There was probably other stuff in the game we didn’t know about yet, like one of those Austrian sniper rifles that can blow over a coffee can at a hundred miles. Maybe they were on a mountaintop somewhere, and not even looking at the airport now. Though SoldierA usually knew about that stuff.
I popped the doors open, then swept from side to side, looking for a target. Nothing. He rushed out, to the north side of the building.
“I found him.”
I rushed out. Fortunately, the body was laying in a clump of bushes. He looked so...peaceful. Except for all the weapons on the body, of course. The chainsaw bayonet on the M4 looked particularly wicked.
“We found your body,” said SoldierA.
“Oh, thank goodness!” relief just melted off Razor’s voice. “Just get the gun. And one of you might want to take the blood bank. You can have it. And anything else off the body. Just, please, bring me the gun.”
SoldierA and I were going through our inventory, deciding what to drop. We’d decided to get as much stuff back to Razor as we possibly could. Bad enough having to spend a night at the Axe Clown motel without losing the coolest equipment you’ve ever had on your character.
“I hate to have you drop the torsion bar,” said SoldierA, “because once they get the tanks in the game that’s the repair item that’s hardest to find.”
“So the Norden bombsight, then?” I asked.
“Yeah. The chances of us getting a bomber back in the air with only five of us are pretty slim. Besides, if we put together a gunship we won’t need a bomb sight.”
We were chucking incredible stuff all over the ground around us, making room. Finally, we’d each given up about a third of our inventory. We came back to the body.
“I just ran past Brezhneviola or something like that,” said Razor. I’ve got a good set of clothes on and a wood axe. Just grab the gun and start running toward me, please?”
SoldierA and I looked at each other. How could we tell him?
“Um,” I started, trying to break it gently, “we can’t get the stuff off your body.”
“It’s all here, we see it. It shows up in our inventory. But when we try to take it, it just pops back up in your inventory.”
“You’re kidding,” his voice could have frozen lava.
We heard a scream and arrgh noise over voice chat, then nothing.
I turned to SoldierA. “I’ll give him my .45 with the auto-targeting sight. And the electric can opener.”
He said, “I’ll give him my radioisotope thermonuclear generator so that he can run it. Is it AC or DC?
“I think it’s 220AC, 50 cycles. Looks like a British plug.”
“I’ve got the adapter for that. Yeah, I dropped it over here. Let’s get this stuff up and head toward him.”
“Think we’ll find another M4?” I asked.
“Like that one? No way. Never again.”
“Think we should tell him?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Hey, guys? You there?”
“Yeah. Well, I just figured out what killed me. Whenever my phone rings it kills me for some reason. I just died again. I’d just found a robot dog or something, too. I was trying to figure it out.”
“Oh, right,” I said, “you’re getting internet through your phone.”
“Did I hear you right?” he said. “you can’t get my stuff?”
“No, we can’t,” said SoldierA. “But we’ll give you some of our stuff, and we’re looking for another M4 for you.”
A dark cloud hung on the other end of the voice chat. We could feel it.
“Look, don’t bother,” Razor said. “The chances of another pristine match-grade Matthew Simmons signature U.S. Olympic Team 2004 M4 rifle with custom trigger job turning up tonight are negligable. I’ll probably never see another JFK stock, either.”
A heavy sigh came across the line.
“At least you know what killed you,” I said. “Can you block calls? I’ll cover you on another airport run tonight. I’ve got nowhere to be tomorrow morning. There’s only, what...two other players on. We’ll practically have the place to ourselves.”
“No, forget it. I think I need some time to deal with this. I think this killed me before, too, when I gave you all that stuff, Goose. Every time I get stocked up in this game, I die. I’ll talk to you later.”
We heard the line drop on his end.
SoldierA and I looked at each other.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I’ve got work in the morning,” he said. “I’m going to go out into the bushes then log off. What about you?”
“I can stay up a while. I’m going to run for the coast. I’ll pick up some extra food and an M4 if I see one. I’ll be nearby when he comes back.”
What didn’t sound good, though, was the pair of gunshots that came out of the woods to the east of me and SoldierA. LuZer and BruZer did well that night.