I knew today would be the end.

Let me explain, and I know I might be covering things that you already know – but please be patient, this is for the people just switching in to this chat.

Everyone I know loves games. The older games, the kind that came on silicon and had to be physically plugged in to a bit of hardware (I know, right? That is insane!) still have a hardcore following even among the most ardent techs that I know.

Yeah, yeah, they don’t have the usual niceness of full audio, smell, taste, and all that – but that was part of their charm. You were looking through this small glass window into another world that was built of brightly glowing blocks of color.

So my friend, Ty, he’s off on one of his longer runs to get some crusty old tech from one of those ancient deposits of plastic and … uh… what was it called… “newspaper”? Yeah, the stuff that had words and non-moving pictures on them. He loves reading them after doing a quick assembly-scan from the fragments he finds.

He says its how he makes his own machine projects more “authentic” by using slang from the ancient aughts.

Whatever, I don’t get into archeology really. This is more about the gaming bit.

So Ty comes back with a dusty backpack full of Satoshi knows what, and I tell him immediately to put the damn thing on the floor because I’m not going to have my SmartCleen(tm) absorbing all those foreign particles. They have enough work to do around my place since I’m always working on sculpture and painting things. (Another topic, but yeah I don’t dig the AI proggies that do it all digitally.)

“But Ci, this is some good stuff!”, he says, rummaging through the many pockets and belted loops.

“Whatever. Just slot something interesting in so we can have a good laugh.”

I wasn’t trying to get into the relative merits of old-school games, I just wanted to see the oddly colored bits and hear the painfully 2-Dimensional music playing.

Ty triumphantly produces a rectangular plastic thing, and shoves it into the receptacle port of my Multi-D display.

Initializing — Please Wait…

That’s odd. Usually the intro menu pops up right away. I get irritated and suspect that Ty is wasting my time with another dud. I’m about to pull the nasty thing from the slot when something new pops up.

Greetings – You have one city left! Try to destroy all incoming enemies! This is your only chance!

I look at Ty and he just shrugs, “It must be one of those older games that were waves of enemies and not much else.”

I’m looking at the screen trying to get a handle on how the letters are formed, they seem to be melting and dripping in some weird way that I’ve never seen before. Not quite old-timey like some effects I’ve seen used in these games, but more slick. Something rising and falling out of the edge of the letters, like it was almost pushing at it like something alive trapped beneath.

I spool out a controller and reposition it in my now-sweaty hands. Something doesn’t feel right here.

Then the sirens started.

Moving to the window we see them high in the sky. The machine-precise weave of white contrails. Drones, thousands of them. They were meant to defend, but now they were screaming in at frightening speeds, vectoring in on MY building.

Ty looks at me and says “Well, better make it count.”

I began to play.