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Under The Lights: New Shadow Pokémon

The shadows looming over October are particularly spooky this year....
Hello again, fellow travelers! It's that PvP article guy (LXP, Community Day moves, and other moveset shakeup discussions and such), coming to you with my now THIRD article of the week! 👀 And what a week it’s been, with Master League returning to GBL, new Pokémon (and ones very relevant to PvP) being released into the game, AND now several new Shadow Pokémon to discuss! (Thanks to the awesome PokeMiners for digging up the info and giving a little heads up before they arrived.) They do not all have PvP impacts, but there are a couple that decidedly DO, including in some near-term PvP formats. So let’s not waste any more time... time to take a look!

(Flying) Rock Monster

🎼 At a Flying Cup party
Already invested deep
🎶 But a shadow starts to creep
It was a rock monster!
So our first contestant is AERODACTYL, now available (sometimes) from the “let’s rock and roll!” lineup. (Not for ME, mind you... I keep getting Larvitar instead. 😩) Aero is a ‘mon that seems to have so much potential with its unique Rock/Flying typing and pretty good movepool. But it lacks any Flying moves whatsoever, and that intriguing typing seems to have more holes than Swiss cheese. If it’s a format where Aerodactyl wasn’t relevant before, being a Shadow is very unlikely to help.
That being said, Aerodactyl seems to be one of those somewhat rare cases where the Shadow version is essentially a straight upgrade in Great League. The ONLY drawback I see is a new loss to Munchlax, dying before reaching a second Rock Slide, while regular Aero gets there for the win. But beyond that it’s all improvement over regular Aerodactyl, with every other win not only retained but improved upon, and new wins showing up for Shadow Aero against Abomasnow, Lapras, Mantine, and Skarmory, all VERY relevant in the Great League scene. That being said, a 28% win rate against the GL core meta isn’t going to wow anyone. Like I said before, Shadow Aerodactyl isn’t going to suddenly surge where regular Aero doesn’t already make at least SOME waves.
Of course, there is one upcoming meta where Aerodactyl already looked to be making a big splash: Flying Cup. Aero already looked poised to be top dog in the meta, its typing finally being less of an issue and the meta being ripe for it to prey on nearly everything as a super-rare Rock chucking monster. Looking at not just the core meta, but the entire format, there are only eight things that beat it head to head with shields in play: Steel Wing Skarmory (normal and Shadow), Gligar (normal and Shadow), Gliscor, Waterfall Gyarados, Mantine, and the new Shadow Jumpluff. That’s it… Aerodactyl beats the other sixty five ‘mons in the format.
Now, imagine that loss list being even smaller. Because with Shadow Aerodactyl, it’s cut in half. Now the only things that reliably beat Aerodactyl with at least one shield are Gligar, Jumpluff, and regular and Shadow Steel Wing Skarmory... and nothing else. Holy smokes, folks. That’s not a mere wave... that’s a freaking tsunami.
And perhaps the even better news? Unless we happen to get a last minute Rocket event where we can again TM away the normally-locked move Frustration, we’re going to be stuck with these new Shadows having only one useable charge move for a while (and only, of course, if we buy a second move!). That probably sounds like BAD news, but that is not so for Aerodactyl, because the only charge move it needs or wants in Flying Cup is Rock Slide, so it’s okay that it’s stuck toting around Frustration too since it doesn’t need any other move that could go in that slot anyway. Heck, you can arguably get by with Frustration as your ONLY charge move, as Rock Throw does most (if not all!) of the work anyway, as you can see in some of those sims. That’s right... you may be able to get by doing nothing but spamming fast moves, and maybe throw the occasional Frustration to try and bait shields with basically nothing to lose, since you don’t normally need charge move damage anyway! You can level up a fresh-caught Shadow Aero and invest nothing at all into charge moves and be done and ready, as the Team GO Rocket lady says, to rock and roll right off the bat!
Last thing is a quick peek into Ultra League... and yeah, while Shadow Aero is again a strict upgrade of regular Aero, adding wins over Abomasnow and Alolan Muk without taking on any (core meta) new losses, neither do enough to merit serious consideration. Move along, move along....
So what's the verdict? Shadow Aerodactyl isn’t likely to take anything new by storm, but it IS pretty much a strict improvement on regular Aero, and that means it’s even more dominant in Flying Cup. This is one to target for that reason alone and is worth hunting down if you intend to play in that one-day meta. I continue to hope for another Cup format down the line where Aero will justify our investment, and Shadow can only help give me more (false?) hope....

That's Skarmoré

Sorry in advance, Dean Martin... cover your ears!
When Moonblast hits your eye
And you still just won't die
That's Skarmor-é!
When the Grasses all cry
Fairies and Dragons whine
That's Skarmor-é!
So there are few better known commodities in PvP than Skarmoré... er, SKARMORY, that is. It's been a Great League staple from the very first Silph Arena Cup nearly two years ago and in each season of GBL thus far, and that's unlikely to change. It is truly unique as the only Steel Flyer we'll see until at least Generation 7 (so, sometime in 2023?), and therein lies many of its strengths. Steel mitigates Flying's typical weaknesses to Ice and Rock, and Flying gets rid of Steel's vulnerabilities to Fighting and Ground, leaving Skarmory vulnerable only to Electric and Fire overall, while it resists Fairy, Dragon, Flying, Psychic, Steel, Normal, and Ground, and DOUBLE resistances to Grass, Bug, and Poison damage. Add that all up and you get a Pokémon that is terribly oppressive against Grasses, Dragons, Charmers, most Psychics and Fighters and Muds, and even tanky staples like Lapras. Yes, it crumples quickly to any Fire or Electric damage, and with its own Flying moves being resisted by Steels and Rocks it loses to the majority of them as well. But there is a lot more good with Skarm than bad, and it can easily run over unprepared teams all by itself... and that's probably happened to ALL of us at some point by now. And no matter what new Pokémon and moves are released moving forward, Skarmory will always retain its inherit advantages and keep on plugging away.
If anything, Skarmory has only gotten better with age, with the buff to Brave Bird finally giving it a second charge move that has uses beyond the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency Flash Cannon.
But enough stats... let's get to some sims and comparisons. Here is the typical Skarmory performance in GL today, and over here is Shadow Skarmory's performance. They look really close, right? Well not exactly, as it turns out. As is the case with many Shadow 'mons, turns out Shadow Skarmory is not a big upgrade OR downgrade, but really just a side-grade. The overall performance looks about the same on the surface, but there are a number of key differences:
  • Regular Skarmory (roughly 105 Attack, 165 Defense, and 120 HP) is able to beat Sableye, Scrafty, Froslass, and Drifblim, while Shadow Skarmory cannot. (It's just too flimsy with the reduced Defense as a Shadow form to survive the high neutral damage from those opponents.) Regular Skarmory also shows an odd win over a carbon copy Skarmory, but of course that is very IV dependent and should instead really be viewed as a tie.
  • [Shadow Skarmory]() (very roughly 125 Attack, 140 Defense, and 120 HP) instead uniquely takes out Azumarill (able to kill it before Azu can reach a needed Hydro Pump), Mantine (who only has time to reach two charge moves as opposed to getting to three vs regular Skarm), Obstagoon (who similarly reaches one less charge move), Munchlax, and potentially Dewgong (though note that Gong CAN still win by going straight Icy Wind).
And in shared wins, sometimes regular Skarmory does better (AKA emerging with more remaining HP), including against Abomasnow, Lapras, Hypno, Meganium, Whiscash and others, and sometimes it is instead Shadow Skarmory that escapes with more HP left over, such as against Toxicroak, Victreebel, Shiftry, Cresselia and others. And sometimes there is virtually no difference, as with Vigoroth Tropius, and the Charmers. (None of those lists are exhaustive, just examples.) So like I said, Skarmory is not really "better" or "worse" as a Shadow, just different. Study its matchups well if you're considering springing for one.
A few more formats to consider:
  • In Flying Cup, we're once again looking at a sidegrade situation here with Air Slash Skarmory. Shadow Skarm beats Articuno, Mantine, and Steel Wing Skarmory, while Original Recipe Skarm instead takes out Shadow Articuno, Gyarados, and Aerodactyl. That last one in particular, while just barely a loss, is probably a dealbreaker.
  • However, as mentioned in my full Flying Cup analysis article, I think Steel Wing is actually the way to go for this format only because of how reliable it is against Aerodactyl (and Articuno, Togekiss, and a couple others). And in that configuration, regular Skarm and Shadow Skarm are much, much closer. Even the one additional loss that shows up there for Shadow Skarm is actually a win if you play it the same that regular Skarmory does. Once again, there are some matchups that swing a bit more favorably one way or the other (in terms of remaining Skarm HP), but either version of SW Skarm has the same win/loss record against the Flying core meta. I lean SLIGHTLY towards regular Skarmory due to usually emerging a little more unscathed from wins, but it's all well within the margin of error and both are pretty equally viable, unlike the clear advantages Shadow Aerodactyl has over its less smoky original version.
  • In the ongoing Silph Arena meta, Sunrise Cup... yep, sidegrade again. We've actually already talked about all the differences, I think: original Skarmory uniquely wins Shadow Articuno and Drifblim and is a bit less shaky in the mirror, Shadow Skarm instead has an easier time beating Mantine, Obstagoon, and non-Shadow Articuno (making it very difficult for Artie to reach a necessary third Icy Wind). I don't know that I'd build a Shadow Skarm just for that format, but it will certainly find a home on some teams better than regular Skarmory.
  • I've seen some mad lads even run Skarmory out there in Ultra League. On record alone, it's actually not that crazy. But here the slashing of its defense as a Shadow catches up to it more. It DOES notably pick up wins over Drifblim and Alolan Muk, which is nice to see, and more efficiently defeats stuff like the Charmers, Abomasnow, and even Dragonite. But the bad outweights the good overall, as it now loses to Machamp, Gallade, Toxicroak, and Snorlax with their neutral-damage-dealing Fighting moves overwhelming Shadow Skarm before they succumb to the Flying damage coming back their way. If you like Skarmory in UL, keep at it, but save your dust and stick with the non-Shadow you already have.

...And The Rest

Many of you are probably too young to remember a little show called Gilligan's Island. I'm not THAT old that I was around when it was on, but I saw a lot of reruns growing up and enjoyed the show probably more than is healthy. (I'm still more of a Mary Ann guy than Ginger, but anyway....) Well before I ramble on too much, the lyrics to the catchy theme song originally mentioned MOST of the characters before ending with "and the rest", before later being changed to "...the Professor and Mary Ann" so that ALL characters were mentioned by name, which was nice. (Take THAT, Ginger!)
Why did I just waste your time with that? Well, because "all the rest" I want to spend a little time on in this article basically ARE "the Professor" (Slowbro/Slowking) and a cute little country girl like Mary Ann (Jumpluff). It fits... kinda. 🙃🤷‍♂️ Alright, enough of the three hour tour of how my twisted mind works and on to actual analysis....
Mary Ann... er, JUMPLUFF first. I've actually seen Pluff make an appearance here and there in GBL Great League, and while it's not a world beater, you could argue that using it there is far from a hairbrained idea. I call it "Tropius Lite", and that's a good way to look at it: Tropius for those who cannot actually GET Tropius. And it does much of what Trop does, really. Between its Razor Leaf and Air Slash variants, Tropius gets Defense Deoxys, Hypno, and Sableye that Jumpluff cannot, but the plucky little Pluff can do everything else Tropius can, including beating RL Trop head to head. It's really not bad at all... just skim that list of wins I linked to sometime.
Anyway, there are two points to consider here. First, of course, is Shadow Jumpluff. As with Skarmory (and many other Shadows), this is sort of a sidegrade again, with new losses to Scrafty, Shiftry, Galarian Stunfisk, Wigglytuff, and Umbreon (though that last one was super close already, in fairness), but a pickup of Mew, Ferrothorn, Galvantula, and Defense Deoxys.
But the other thing I'm curious to watch in future metas... purified Jumpluff. Why? Because the fast-charging Bullet Seed paired with Return intrigues me. Now on the surface, it seems like a downgrade from regular Pluff, losing Cresselia and Whiscash and a couple others, but on the flipside it gains Hypno and wins some of its matchups more soundly than it does without Return. If you find one that has so-so IVs as a Shadow but really good IVs if purified, hold on to it... I think it might be worth something in the right meta down the line.
And then there is what's really the opposite of a professor: SLOWBRO. Now while Shadow Bro IS a slight upgrade of regular Bro in Great League, neither are really very good. More interesting is Ultra League, where the overall record still isn't great, but Bro has made a name for itself this GBL season as a favorite of some streamers and YouTubers as a solid way to counter things weak to Confusion while still holding up well against things like Lapras, Charizard, Articuno, Charmers, and Armored Mewtwo, and also toting Ice Beam as a nice all-around coverage move, good enough that Slowbro can even knocking off things like Giratina if given the chance (and many Dragons and Grasses and such in general if they're caught not shielding). But unfortunately, Shadow Slowbro falls apart on the Ultra League stage. The one positive is that it can rather remarkably pick up Empoleon, but it loses now to Giratina, A-Mewtwo, Clefable, Togekiss, and even Charizard. You may be better served purifying your Slowbro and running Ice Beam with Return instead, with which you at least get the normal Slowbro performance and a weapon that may surprise the heck out of an opponent when they smugly choose to let an expected Ice Beam or Psychic move through.
And no, Shadow is really no improvement for SLOWKING either, if you were considering it. King has Fire Blast going for it and basically operates as a slightly different Slowbro as a result, but the Shadow version is again just a bit worse. Shame.
And then there are the others:
  • Our bivalve buddy CLOYSTER is just clinging to the edge of viability in Great League already. As a Shadow, it looks like a smal slide backwards, but devil's in the details. True, it loses to Swampert, and then also Froslass, Munchlax, Galvantula, Sableye, Shiftry, AND Skarmory, but all of those were wins with only about 10 or often less HP remaining anyway. The gains are interesting too, with new wins against Venusaur and Umbreon, and then also Cresselia, Dewgong, and even Azumarill (!!!), which are all again very close wins (less than 10 HP). So interesting for sure, but still on the borderline of useability. Up in Ultra League, Cloyster is again frustratingly close to viability without quite getting there. Wins against all the Dragons, Flyers, most Charmers, Lapras, A-Muk, Swampert, and Abomasnow are very nice, but that's where the success ends. Shadow Cloyboy flips that holdout Charmer Granbull from a tie to a win, and also picks up Charizard, but slides back by losing to Clefable, Abomasnow, Swampert, and even Origin Giratina. Probably better to stick with its more solid niche as a non-Shadow, it would seem.
  • URSARING does get (mostly) better as a Shadow, gaining Registeel, Dewgong, Venusaur, Skarmory, Alolan Raichu and a couple other notable names over its non-Shadow original, but it also now loses Galarian Stunfisk, Shadow Hypno, Altaria, Drifblim... and still doesn't have anywhere close to an encouraging win rate. Better, but still a hard pass, I think.
  • KABUTOPS is also a slight gainer as a Shadow versus non-Shadow 'Tops, but even in Silph metas over the last two years, it has yet to break out and this is certainly not enough to push it over the... well, top. Same story in Ultra League. Cannot recommend it, and I LIKE Kabutops!
  • I won't even waste your time linking to AIPOM or AMBIPOM. If you're considering them... why do you hate winning? 😂 No no no... don't do it.
And that's actually all of them... whew! So now just a very quick TL;DR for those of you who like to skip ahead:
  • Shadow Aerodactyl is pretty much a straight upgrade, though Flying Cup is probably the only place where Aero will remain relevant anytime soon. It picks up wins over Gyarados, Gliscor, and Mantine and beats everything else regular Aerodactyl already did in that meta. And unlike the others in this article, you don't have to wait for an opportunity to TM Frustration away, as it can operate with just Rock Slide (added as the second move) or arguably even with JUST fast moves and lose little to no ground. This is the easiest plug and play option in this entire writeup and the one I recommend hard pursuing the most.
  • Shadow Skarmory is neither better nor worse, just different. If you want to see all the matchup differences, scroll up. There is a decent sized list.
  • Mostly the same with Jumpluff. The Shadow version and the purified version with Return are both viable and different flavors of a 'mon that is already a tad underrated anyway. Worth looking for a good one.
  • Slowbro/Slowking really don't stand to gain much from being Shadows, and in Ultra League where they have any real play at all, Shadow is a downgrade. Not one to prioritize for PvP purposes, IMO. The same can also be said of Cloyster, the most promising of the rabble left over.
  • The others are all pretty much worthless in PvP, even moreso than the Slows. Showoffs only.
Alright, thus concludes my THIRD and probably final article of the week. Hopefully you made it to the end and maybe learned something along the line. I sincerely hope you did, and that your time reading through was worth it!
For more PvP tidbits, you can find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon (with my own private server, if you're interested in that). And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I'll try to get back to you!
Hopefully your hunt for these new Shadows has been more fruitful than my own. (I don't WANT another Shadow Bat, lady! Give me my Skarmory!!) But as you search, please be safe out there, Pokéfriends.
Thanks again for reading, and catch you next time, when we finally get to that spooky Halloween Cup meta 🎃, and likely the Silph November meta as well!
EDIT: Added Cloyster, a bad oversight. Sorry about that! Thanks to u/Mieczyslaw010 for the reminder!
submitted by JRE47 to TheSilphArena


First Contact - Third Wave - Chapter 366

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USER NAME>Da'amo'o_The_Magician
PASSWORD (Never share you password. Neb-Steam Customer Service Will NEVER ask you for your password): [email protected]$$w0rd
Welcome, Da'amo'o the Magician. You have 14 new messages and one Urgent Message.
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TO: Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o
Your submitted game "Terran Maintenance Attack Simulator" has been reviewed by our Quality and Standards Team as well as undergone our six day playtest system. Your recent patch 0.4.1.A2.a (Food Dispenser Update) was received and applied.
We are proud to announce to you that your game, "Terran Maintenance Attack Simulator" has been approved for sale on Nebula-Steam as part of the Starlight Program, which seeks to amplify the reach of indie developers such as yourself.
Simply go to your Developer's Page and follow the instructions. Remember to upload both your 2D and 3DVR game cover art as well as double-check your splash-page stinger for translation errors.
At this time, you are approved for Early Access Release, Alpha Test Release, Beta Test Release, or Full Release.
Additional options are available to you for release of your media as well as advertising your media.
Once again, we here at Nebula-Steam would like to welcome you to our Starlight Program and we look forward to working with you.
--The Digitally Simulated Brain of Gabe Newell, Nebula-Steam LLC
Would you like to see your Developers Page and Tools?
Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o galloped around the relaxation lawn behind the Planetary Maintenance Facility, feeling his chest swell with an unidentified emotion. He knew that upstairs, on his computer, files were being uploaded to Nebula-Steam, rolling out the Early-Access Release of what had started as a mere way of passing the time.
Neo-sapients stared at him as he galloped around, but merely smiled to one another. Da'amo'o was known to be a bit eccentric for a Lanaktallan, but he authorized plenty of overtime, divided up maintenance across the planet into zones where one had to travel very little to reach a work order, and had even broken open the stores and allowed neo-sapients to use government vehicles rather than take public transportation to job sites.
Why, he had even authorized uniforms that displayed that a neo-sapient worked for Planetary Maintenance, complete with badges of ranks and coloration that displayed what part of Maintenance they worked for.
One of the Savashan sitting on a bench eating a sandwich (with actual RealMeatTM in it) had been accosted by LawSec two weeks ago. Most High Da'amo'o had arrived personally to release him from the jail cell, took back the tools, chastised the LawSec Commander, and then, weirdly enough, when heating failed to all of the LawSec Officer's offices, had put the repairs on low priority.
As far as that Savashan was concerned, if Da'amo'o wanted to run in circles wearing a purple paper hat and blowing a musical instrument, the Savashan would defend Da'amo'o's right to do so.
Da'amo'o himself was sweating and blowing heavy, his heart still full of something he couldn't describe, as he leaned into the corner he was running around. He couldn't believe it, it was too incredible, too outlandish.
He had logged into his "Developer Options" page on Nebula Steam and carefully read through the contract. It was mind-boggling. It was outrageous.
He retained full control of his program. All rights to it.
Nebula-Steam would host it on their servers, even offered the option for hosting of multi-player servers, and only asked for FORTY PERCENT! of the take. It was outrageous.
Then, he had discovered he could release different versions as long as they were functionally different. He had spent nearly a week coding heavily, allowing the VI 'supervisors' to handle the basic maintenance, and had come up with multiple versions of his game.
Why, he'd be getting six credits out of ten! He had set the price of one hundred twenty credits for the full version, sixty credits for the limited version, eighty credits for the multiplayer, forty-credits for the "Food Dispenser Panic!" DLC (what a wonderful concept. Downloadable content that could just be patched into the game, changing the game, updating it, without having to completely redo it! Just the thought of such a remarkable idea made Da'amo'o quiver with excitement), and the five ten-credit "World Map Packs" and the "City Procedural Generation Software" that was available as a free download to anyone who owned the 'Executor Freakout' version. Then there was the "Building Artpack" for various planets and species, even including a special building relevant to each species, for only five credits, that came bundled in the "Executor Freakout" version. Not to mention the Demo that would unlock into the limited version if a neo-sapient put in their worker ID number.
He had, at first, ensured the settings were put right so that his implant would be pinged for each sale. In the beginning, there was only a handful of pings the first few hours. Then more. Then even more. Until his implant couldn't keep up.
He was terrified to look into his Nebula-Steam wallet.
There was a shimmering in the air and he slowed down, coming to a stop and panting. He tapped the shimmer and a VR representation of a door appeared.
The Pink Panty Fairy stepped through, wearing her new outfit that he'd carefully designed for her. It was modeled after Terran "power suits'. Not the combat kind, no, the kind that projected authority and dominance, consisting of a pair of shined high heeled boots, slacks with creases on the front of the legs, and an official looking torso covering with long sleeves and cufflinks. She wore a pink sash that displayed that she was Da'amo'o's personal assistant and operated with his full authority.
Da'amo'o had carefully gone over Terran images of powerful females and what they wore. He had agonized over current fashions, dressing properly for various jobs, and other media.
He had eventually settled on a modification of the Space Force female Terran uniform, complete with sash.
"You made Gold, Da'amo'o, baby," she said, her glittering iridescent wings twitching. "Ten million sales in the last two hours."
Da'amo'o shuffled nervously.
"Even your map packs, the DLC, and the Executor Freakout versions are firmly in the Gold status," she said. She lifted up a clipboard and looked at it. "At current projections, you should hit Platinum within a week. Returns are less than two percent. Your rating is 'Oustandingly Positive' and average customer engagement on first playthrough is three hours."
Da'amo'o nodded, reaching into his pouch and pulling out a wad of carefully harvested expensive cud. He jammed it in his mouth and slowly began chewing it, thinking. He had been thinking of adding a "Work Crew Supervisor Expansion Pack" where a being could take on the role of a supervisor and move through a procedurally generated building to watch over the neo-sapients as they worked.
If the game was doing that well, he might have to adapt the old public domain software that generated dungeons that he had found on a code repository site. Combining it with the shopping trip simulator software that he had found abandoned might work...
"Currently, using proxy servers to upload the game mean that the majority of purchasers and interested parties think that the game was developed and uploaded from Hesstla, which still has a high Lanaktallan population despite being nominally under Terran control," she said. She lowered the clipboard and it vanished.
"So, Da'amo'o, baby, what's your plan now?" the Pink Secretary asked.
Da'amo'o trotted toward the door that would lead to the elevator that would take him to his office. "What's my schedule look like?"
The Pink Secretary looked at another clipboard. "Clear for the next two days. That's when you have scheduled an inspection of the worker's maintenance vehicles."
Da'a'mo'o nodded. That gave him an idea. "Maintenance Street Racing" where the players could race bulky, unresponsive cargo vehicles and tool vans through city streets to a job, competing with other maintenance teams to reach the contract and clock in first.
He quickly mentally jotted a note and passed it to his datalink to pass it to his console.
Perhaps have the wild card where overpowered flaming Terran vehicles attempt to run the maintenance crew vehicle off the road? he thought.
"How is the reference gathering for Project Blah Bleh Blah going?" he asked her.
She consulted a datapad. "Not well. Mostly we've had to use police sketches and mockups as well as video taken from Gal-Net."
Damnation and tarnation, as a Treana'ad cattle rustler would say, Da'amo'o thought to himself. He had ridden home in a limousine one foggy night, staring out the window, and had gotten the idea to create an entertainment game completely based on fiction, starring the Night Terran.
But he was having a hard time gathering concrete data on the elusive figure.
"You asked me to remind you about tonight, baby," the Pink Secretary said.
"The motion capture actors," Da'amo'o stated. He stopped and waited for the elevator.
The neo-sapients and a few female Lanaktallan were supposed to arrive at his domicile for dinner and then motion capture. He was planning on rewarding them handsomely.
Credits bought more cooperation than his rank, and he had learned to appreciate it.
In the elevator he brought up data on his retinal link, examining it. Most of what he wanted was available on the public domain software repositories. He'd gained an eye for being able to determine if the software might be usable. If it contained extensive documentation, it would be easily usable.
If it did not, there might be hidden gems within in, but by and large, the programmer would have been deceased for tens of thousands of years.
An idea for another entertainment simulation bubbled up in his mind and he clapped his lower hands together excitedly even as he made notes on his datalink.
True, most of his ideas would prove to be unworkable or not as exciting as he had thought at the time, but for every score that had be discarded one would provide the kernel of a great idea.
The door opened and he trotted down the hallway. Opening the door to his office he nodded at the Ikeeki receptionist, who professionally ignored him as she applied dye to the very tips of her pinfeathers with a small brush. She was wearing the finest clothing, her plumage was lush and lavish, and her jewelry sparkled in the light of the office.
Just her appearance had been enough to put many complaining Lanaktallan in their place. The fact that she was so pampered and lavished upon told all Lanaktallan that she was more valued by Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o then they ever possibly would be.
He sat down in his comfortable chair and waited for the backrest and armrests to rotate into position. He checked his real maintenance program, not his entertainment one, and authorized overtime, dispatched work crews, and scheduled time off for his crews.
Once he had spent two hours working, he had a break and leaned back in his chair, slowly chewing the expensive cud.
He had an idea.
Logging back onto Nebula-Steam, he perused the Terran Confederacy stores, using a proxy server to pretend he was logging in from one of the Confederacy controlled worlds.
He knew he had seen it briefly. Now he was sure.
He said the word slowly, savoring it.
Checking one of the most popular games, he then ran a search to see who was playing the game that had at least twenty hours into it. It was a popular game, a magical primitivism simulation where a user could fight fantastic creatures, romance attractive and unattractive beings, explore ruins and wilderness while wielding steel weapons or magic.
There it was.
Pinned Achievements.
He examined it closely. Terrans prized the most difficult achievements. Some achievements had been acquired by less than 0.0001% of those with at least 10 hours in the game. Such achievements as "I Tawt I Saw a Puddy-Tat" for fighting a giant saber-toothed cat with only a flint knife in a blizzard during the full moon while only wearing wolf-skin armor and a hat made from yellow bird feathers. Or the achievement "Chrome Lips Sink Ships" for any Battleship Gunner's Mate rating five or higher who killed at least one enemy vessel as their own ship was being destroyed and choosing to respawn in the ship's clone bank and return to their station even as the ship broke up.
Da'amo'o checked his schedule. He still had six hours he had to be at his desk. He checked the work program. The only thing that needed his attention was a Wandering Terran had set plants ablaze in a park in eVR enhanced reality and the maintenance team needed a Level III Exorcism team. He authorized it and closed the program.
What if I could make it a status symbol? he thought. Sashes proclaimed various ranks and awards, but if one had a retinal link, like any proper gamer (R-Link Lyfe Yo!) , then a being's 'gamer tag' as well as their Nebula-Steam Rank appeared in your vision when you looked at another gamer who was broadcasting his ID.
By nightfall, he realized he'd been in his office till almost dinner. He rushed home, hosted the fancy dinner, then used his motion capture equipment to record various beings doing mundane tasks, right down to washing dishes by hand. He paid everyone, then galloped down the hallway to a solid battlesteel door.
He quivered with excitement when his Gal-Net link cut off. The electronic warfare system he had managed to get transferred to him via a long looping shipping circuit kept anyone from accessing what was beyond the door from outside.
The door cracked open, white light appearing. He quivered with excitement. He had taken the visuals from exciting Terran games and he had to admit, it was psychologically powerful.
He trotted into what was beyond. What had been a wine cellar had been built, off the books, by heavily bribed neo-sapient work crews that he had paid in cred-sticks, promotions, and prestigious employment locations.
His programming lab.
Full eVI assist. Enhanced Virtual Reality.
He had modeled it after Vehicle Repairbeing v823 that he had managed to get onto his account.
He rubbed his hands together as he activated his assistants.
The girls from that wonderfully subversive program appeared, all working hard, with the exception of the red-head, who sat in the corner reading a magazine and smoking a cigarette, giving him a haughty look as she smoothed her black and red plaid skirt with one hand.
He worked far into the night, going to bed only after the Pink Programming Assistant Fairy woke him up for the third time.
Still, success.
He had done it.
He, Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o, had managed to complete the impossible!
When he trotted into work the next day, everyone could see scrolling on his sash the fact that he had platinum Nebula-Steam achievement awards, that his sash edging wasn't a straight line but was, instead, a flickering violet and pink flame pattern.
Da'amo'o could feel the envy of his lessers as they gazed in awe at the achievements displayed on his sash.
Any being could get attendance and good parking awards for their sash.
When he finished the morning's required maintenance he leaned back in his chair and pressed the eVR button.
The Pink Secretary Fairy appeared, holding a clipboard.
"How's it hanging, Da'amo'o, baby?" she asked, smiling.
"You tell me, dear one," Da'amo'o replied.
She looked at her clipboard. "The Retinal Link Nebula-Steam Account Interlink has gone platinum. The Sash link is the same," she smiled widely. "Nebula-Steam approved your proposal that only icons that match your specifications can be used as a basis for the award displays."
Da'amo'o rubbed his hands together. "And how many software entertainment organizations have purchased the icon and software packages I offered them?"
"All of them, Da'armo'o, baby," she replied.
"Excellent," Da'amo'o said.
"Already Dewie, Cheatum, and Howe have successfully defended your proprietary programming and styles," she said. She consulted her datapad. "They have been paid in full for their services and put on retainer."
"Excellent," Da'amo'o said. He thought for a long moment, swinging around to stare out the window. "I need another assistant, someone to assist me in this job to free me for my true passion."
The Pink Secretary Fairy frowned slightly. "Which is?"
Da'amo'o motioned with all four hands out the window. "To make work into something enjoyable. To use VR and Gal-Net to provide a sense of accomplishment that seems to have been stripped from real life."
He rubbed his hands together.
"To give everyone a sense of achievement."
Forty-Second Assistant Most High of Food Processors Ga'ame'er clopped into the lunch room of the massive building that housed licensing. He adjusted his sash and ensured his retinal link ID header was on as he crossed the room to the line waiting to order lunch.
He realized that in front of him was a Lanaktallan who had their gamertag, Nebula-Steam score, and achievements displayed on their expensive and fashionable sash as well as over their head.
The Lanaktallan, who's sash proclaimed him a twelfth Most High, had only silver achievements.
Ga'ame'er reached forward and tapped the other Lanaktallan on the side. The Lanaktallan turned, frowning, looking a Ga'ame'er.
"Move, lowly one," Ga'ame'er said, reaching up and tapping his sash.
The Twelfth Most High of Traffic Supervision Pehza'ahnt started to lift his lip and then saw the top ranking achievement far outstripped anything he had accomplished.
Feeling shame before one of his peers, he moved out of the way, letting Ga'ame'er take his place.
Pehza'ahnt ground his cud and promised himself that he would grind extra-hard that night. That achievement flaunted by Ga'ame'er would be his.
Oh yes, oh yes it would be.
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submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY