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[AWT-04] BTv2-01 Wearing a S'taur in the West

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    [AWT-04] BTv2-01 Wearing a S'taur in the West

    Hells Canyon; Taur Valley - Anime World

    [AWT-04] BTv2-01 Wearing a S'taur in the West.
    By Darrel Vanwinkle (Lord Pouchlaw)

    Chapter 01

    It was the following day in Bert's Nighthawk Games Entertainment workshop and he sat at his laptop programming computer in his Retrievertaur form as he busily worked on the programming for his newest Taur adventure game. He was keeping this one top secret so that Orion couldn't learn about it. Then there came a knock at the door. Bert quickly saved his work and switched the laptop over to screen number two, before he padded over to the door and opened it. Standing there was Orion and a lot of the other Taur gamers. "What's up, Orion? As per the request of your loyal warring gamers, I have stayed away from the S'taurrior Gaming System."

    Orion Foxtaur replied, "A lot of the players want to go on an quest with Lukas. And when I reminded them that Lukas was your character and how you were asked by anonymous Taurs to stay away from S'taurrior, they insisted upon coming over here. I told them it wouldn't do any good, but they were determined. I hope we are not disturbing you. I know you have been programming since this morning, but you won't talk about the project."

    Bert said, "It is to be a NGE exclusive. I am sure you would not be interested in a Sim styled game, Orion."

    He then looked to the others. "Make it good. I don't drag Lukas out for just anyone anymore..."

    One of the Taurs stated, "I heard from a friend that you were planning a Classic S'taurrior revival, Bert. And with a classic revival, I had hoped that meant a new chance to pal around with Lukas Quadwalker."

    Bert folded his arms over his furry chest. "I don't know whom told your friend that, but the only spin-off of the classic S'taurrior that I am running is S'taurrion Knights, of which Orion himself could have told you that he wasn't fond of the idea of Academy adventures. There is no actual Classic S'taurrior anymore aside from S'taurrion Knights. And if you are not interested in being a Quadi Cadet, then you need to go back to S'taur Trek: the Warring Edition. When I program these days, I do it in my Taur form. Orion is only in two NGE games currently; Quadrutaurian Adventures and Taurs at War. He avoids the others like the plague. And speaking of the plague... I found out recently from a good source that on Protectaur opening day, Orion offered huge in-game bonuses for all of his players to stay in S'taurrior when it was running originally. Only 50 Taurs ignored the free gifts. And now you want me to soil Lukas with this fake S'taurrior S'taur Trek rip-off? I have real work to do, get out of my muzzle." And he started to close the door, but another Taur caught the door before it could close.

    It was Stallone the road construction Equitaur. "Bert, are you in a bad mood because of what the Evil Sorcerer did while he was in Orion's body?"

    Bert smiled at Stallone briefly before putting the scowl back on his muzzle. "If Orion was truly being controlled by the Evil Sorcerer to only play War Games, then how come now that he is free of the influence, he had not joined any normal games. I also did some checking from before Orion ever programmed the original S'taurrior... he never played any normal games whatsoever. He was heavily into Risk, Stratego, and World of Warcraft. He never liked playing peaceful games at all. This is what made him perfect for the Evil Sorcerer to get in; Orion's mind was in turmoil so he was an open door. And now that he is free, he is still only playing war games or games where you can play a villain. I have to wonder if he is truly free or not. Not to mention, he has never asked me to rejoin his programming staff. As if he feels that he cannot trust me."

    He then looked at the other Taurs. "All of those wonderful add-ons I presented to the Classic S'taurrior are still in use within S'taurrion Knights. Global Chat; Adoption Services; and PVID. I even expanded PVID recently to include Group PVID capability, which is perfect for players partied together on missions. I know a lot of players want the original S'taurrior or nothing at all. But legally, I do not have Orion's permission to use the name S'taurrior in NGE at all. So if you were hoping that I was doing this behind Orion's back, I have to disappoint you. Now please leave me alone. The last letter made it clear that I am to stay out of S'taurrior entirely. King Kazma indicated that the last letter was written by a local Taur's hands but they don't know which one."

    Orion said, "So the implication is that there is still an Imperial in the valley? No wonder you are still uptight."

    Bert said, "Someone thinks that I ruined the original S'taurrior. But keep in mind, Orion, you were the one whom asked me to install game balance into a war game."

    Orion said, "It has been a week since I opened the new space game, Bert. So how many Taur players have joined S'taurrion Knights in the last week?"

    Bert went over and clicked on his player identifier console and it not only listed how many had joined but it revealed their identities as well. Bert's tracker was far better than Orion's old one had been. Bert could identify a player on a dime. "Seventeen in the last week. Mainly female. Only one male Taur joined and that was Felix Tyrannotaur."

    Orion said, "There are no Tyrannotaur citizens in the valley. I would have remembered that."

    Bert said, "Then you missed this one. I had Kazma and Medina verify and examine this one the moment I saw the name; he's for real. But there is one more verification I can make."

    Orion said, "Then do it."

    Bert activated his S'taurrion staff-to-staff communicator. "Hey Trina? It's Bert. Did one of the new players in the last week ask you about Classic S'taurrior in exactly those words?"

    The Staff Member, Trina the Siamese Feline-taur replied, "Yes, a player did do that. It was one of the new females, Selena Zebrataur. I mentioned the level 20 benefit."

    Bert said, "Not your fault, Trina. The new player leaked the info to players in Orion's game and they are directly asking me about it. Talk to you later."

    He then looked to Orion. "Selena Zebrataur was the sneak thief this time. All of you come inside and I will try to explain this."
    End of Chapter 01

    Chapter 02
    After the Taur players and Orion were gathered within Bert's workshop, the boy turned Taur closed and secured the door before returning to his workstation. "LucasArts is currently only giving me, and me alone, permission to run a Taur version of Star Wars, and that game is S'taurrion Knights. Initially they were going to give Orion that permission, but when he revamped S'taurrior into a Star Trek based universe and took away the exploration part of the game and replaced it with war gaming, both LucasArts and ViacomCBS Inc contacted me and they asked me if Orion had lost his mind. Making the game into a Wrath of Khan Returns styled game was unacceptable according to ViacomCBS. The said that Orion's new game was a parody of Star Trek using creative liberties. And the execs at LucasArts said that since Orion removed all mentions of Star Wars from his game, he would no longer have open permission to use any of their properties within his games. This also means that players can not use Star Wars related material in Orion's games either. Linus and I are not under the gun since we migrated our characters over to S'taurrion Knights a long time ago."

    Bert then addressed the real issue. "However in regards to the leaked information that the players incorrectly gained... LucasArts assisted me in revamping an old database after an integrity scan to make sure it was safe. The old Database was my old project of the original Quadrant: a S'taurrior Tale. This was the database we used to set the platform for S'taurrior MMO. Quadrant was originally meant to be S'taurrior III, but when all the trouble erupted, I canned part III and began to design Quadrant. One day Orion found out about Quadrant and I lied by saying that is was a sandbox platform for S'taurrior MMO. In truth, it was never meant to be part of the mainstream S'taurrior universe. I had been planning S'taurrion Knights way back then. And that was part of it. So when I rediscovered the old Quadrant database, I was thrilled to see it since I had misplaced it. I had thought that the Orion brothers had destroyed it. After the Anti-Imperial integrity scan, LucasArts assisted me in revamping the database to be able to fit into S'taurrion Knights as an expansion to the game for players whom reached 20th level. Since Linus, Trina and I were already at that level, we had been playing the expansion for at least a few weeks before Orion's new S'taurrior game opened. I renamed the Expansion as Rebel One; or the Rebellion Adventures. So at Level 20, S'taurrion Cadets can log into a new login interface that appears on the S'taurrion Knights log-in screen. In SK:RA, your characters start at Level 20, not the old Level 2 bullshit that was in the old S'taurrior game. Staff members do not get a free shortcut for the expansion. They have to reach Level 20 or they can forget about ever seeing Rebel One. Any questions?"

    One Taur asked, "Is there a watchable intro video for Rebel One or do we have to be enrolled in S'taurrion Knights to be able to see it?"

    Bert smiled. "If I showed you the intro video, would you be inclined to join the game or is this simply a reason to trash-talk the game once you go back to the War game where you get free ass-kissing bribes from a jealous Foxtaur?" He dropped the smile at that point. "The intro video is uploaded to the NGE Members Only MeTube account page. It is labeled as Rebel One, sponsored by LucasArts. You could probably find it using a MeTube search, but the video will not play if you're not a VIP member of NGE. Not even Orion is a VIP member. To become a VIP member of the NGE club, you have to have at least Level 10 in every Taur-Specific NGE RPG up to now, not including the new one I am working on. Taurs at War does not count; no offense to anyone. I don't call that one a role playing adventure. So it is a Freebie, which is why it ended up as a standalone apart from Protectaurs. I am planning a new expansion for the hero game which is called Golden Age Protectaurs which occurs during World War II, but it is not a War Game. The language filter is to be super strict in GAP."

    Orion then asked, "What about your newest project? It is driving me crazier than normal that you won't talk to me about it."

    Bert grinned. "The most I will say about it, Orion, is that there is no space age anything in the RPG. Taurs have to walk where ever they need to go. And that's all I should say about it. There could be some fighting, but the law will be present in the game. So if you don't like that idea, then stay the fuck away from my games. Anything else?"

    Orion sighed. "In the old days, you were more open about your projects."

    Bert said, "In the old days I wasn't nearly back-stabbed every time I had an idea for improving the game. Every time I added a new feature into S'taurrior, the players almost always cheered and said it was the most awesome add-on ever. But then when I would try to add in something that would balance the game to make up for the first add-on, I would hear, Aw man! Why'd you go and fuck up the game for! You're ruining it! When I heard that back during the Impirebel Fuels server days, I pulled out temporarily and took my improvements with me. I kicked all players back to Orion's Main Server after which he shut down the game to come talk to me. He was so sure that I was going to kill myself."

    Orion remarked, "I needed help with the old S'taurrior, Bert. I thought you were the one that could help. Thunder Rails back-stabbed me which hurt my feelings back then. So you were the one I was hoping would set things right. Now we are at horrible odds and most the of the local players are siding with me. Not the way I planned it, mind you."

    Bert then got snarky as he stood up and while shaking, he growled, "Of course you didn't plan it that way, Crown Prince Nebulan Epsilon Foxtaur the Second of Taurvaelis IV. Why would I think you were trying to set me up for a fall?" When everyone heard the full title, full name and home world issue forth from Bert's muzzle, the Taurs were all looking at Orion. "Are you surprised that I learned whom you really were, your highness? I had American Rabbit's son, the Red Scourge, go and do a universe search for your real name and old appearance. He successfully got me in touch with your parents whom knew nothing about their disowning you since you were next in line for your home world's throne. All of you... you know how Orion said he was barely getting by and he was lonely in the valley? It was all a lie. According to his parents, Orion had nearly fifty friends back on his home world whom supported his kicking his parents asses off of their thrones so he could clean things up back home. One day, Prince Nebulan up and ran away. They thought he had been kidnapped. So they had Missing posters out for the Prince's return. Rodney showed me one of the posters he found. Take a good look my gaming friends..." And he clicked a button and the poster appeared on the main screen for all to see. Complete with his pompous princely clothing and royal crown. The return reward was up to Two Hundred Million Creds. "Hardly the act of parents whom disowned him for changing his colors. They told me that regardless of your fur color, they still wanted you to come home. When I told them how you were living and the stories you had told the locals, they were disappointed that you were choosing to be dishonest."

    Stallone snuffed in disgust. He apparently didn't like noble rich folk whom had no honor. "What happened to the reward money, Bert?"

    Bert replied, "They donated the whole total to Nighthawk Games Entertainment for honestly bringing them information on their son's whereabouts. It was a fine investment which will allow me to improve my games. Also, Orion's parents are due to arrive in the Valley within the hour. They and Orion's betrothed want to see their son. That's right; he has a mate."

    Orion sighed as he sank to the floor looking embarrassed. Bert went all the way this time.
    End of Chapter 02


      Chapter 03
      Within the hour, King Kazma, his Red Rabbit Army, the Justice Patrol, the Hellhounds and the Taurs of the Valley witnessed a large Foxtaur shaped ship fly in and land on its four legs as a ramp extended down to the ground as the royal black and white Foxtaur parents emerged from the ship along with a Cotton Candy Pink and Snow White Vixentaur walking with them as well. Bert was wearing his Nighthawk Games Entertainment company jacket while in his human form as he stood to one side of the Red Scourge. "Sure am glad Lukas and I chose not to be Foxtaurs now." Rodney nudged Bert and shushed him. "Show respect." The Vixentaur was prancing around looking for Prince Nebulan like a flitting Tinkerbell.

      The games and quests were on standby while the populace got to see what the oh so honorable Orion Foxtaur was hiding from.

      Two heavily armored Red Rabbits escorted Orion Foxtaur out of his home and directly up to the royal parents. Orion was looking at the ground rather than up into their eyes. And then another Foxtaur emerged from the ship and this one was one the entire Justice Patrol as well as Bert knew all too well. "The Evil Sorcerer is back! Look out, your majesties! He is Vicious!" The royal parents glanced back at the dark Foxtaur and said, "Graelis is our royal advisor of many years, Bert Thomas. He couldn't have possibly have been in Taur Valley before today or else he would have told us of Nebulan's whereabouts himself."

      Bert was not convinced. "Dark Witch, Come here! Is this or is this not the Evil Sorcerer whom has on many occasions tried to destroy every Taur and Red Rabbit in the valley?"

      Dark Witch approached and without removing her mask, she cast a spell, "REVEAL SOUL CLAIM MARK!" And the spell went off. To the royal family's surprised eyes, a lady's lip marks appeared all over the advisor's muzzle and upon both ears, on his tongue (from the French Kissing) and upon both eyes and eye lids. She then said, "It is him all right! My kissy-pie boyfriend! I didn't just kiss him the last time he was in the Valley. I kissed him with a Soul Marking Enchantment so even if he switched bodies again, the marks would reappear on the new body yet again. The last time he was here, your majesties, he had your son and Linus Leotaur signed up for an Imperial Execution. Both were rescued and the Evil Sorcerer was punished by having to eternally see my ugly face and my lips even when his eyes were closed."

      The Foxtaur queen looked to Orion as she reached out and lifted his muzzle by his chin to look into his eyes. "Reveal the truth to your mother, Nebulan!"

      Orion slapped her paw-hand away from his face. "Nice try, bitch. That Imperial mind control might have worked had I believed that you were my mother. My real mother died and was buried in a pauper's grave to prevent my father from learning that you took her place. The day that I learned that you were not my mother, I ran away to try to find help. But as long as I looked like the missing prince, I couldn't convince anyone that there was an evil plot going on back on my home world. So I staged the chemical accident in the trade school so my fur and hide would be horribly scalded. Thankfully Professor Mylanus came to my rescue when I miscalculated the strength of the chemicals that I had used. I had almost killed myself. He coated my body in a Mobian fur tonic restoration fluid and that initially changed the color of my Foxtaur fur to the Brown Tails look. I didn't mind since it meant that I didn't look like Nebulan anymore. On that day, I took on the new name of Orion Foxtaur. Then after I got the S'taurrior game created for myself but not having my usual friends around almost made me confine myself to the game world to the point that my body would have died. Linus found me and he revived me, not the Epsilon fake that the Evil Sorcerer had told you about, Bert, when he fabricated the story lie to tell you about myself. The Evil Sorcerer tracked me down to Taur Valley and when he saw the game that I had created, he began to manipulate it so anyone playing it would join the Imperial Army of my home world, not another Taur Galaxy. Although, Lukas and Bert S'taurrior are really from that other galaxy. You lucked out on finding Quadi Knights in today's day and age."

      Orion looked to King Kazma. "My father the King is for real, but this woman and the phony advisor are imperials. Do your duty, King Kazma. Graelis has played mind games for the last time. It makes more sense now on why when we would banish this fucker back to his own galaxy, he would return the very next day. His own galaxy is our own galaxy, so in effect, we were not banishing him at all. We were only sending him back to Taurvaelis IV. And now to lay one final bit of information to rest. Taurvaelis I, Taurvaelis II and Taurvaelis III were all destroyed in gruesome Imperial Wars. When my real parents moved a small rebellion away from Taurvaelis III to a new colony world on the opposite side of the galaxy, my father made his only mistake. He named the planet Taurvaelis IV. All the Imperials had to do was check galactic records for the appearance of a new world with the old name. One day, Graelis and this evil Imperial shape-shifting bitch queen arrived on the rebel world. And when the king would not give them lodging because of their Imperial papers, they found a way to kill my real mother and bury her in a paupers grave in the far back cemetery. When I learned that someone had been buried there, my friends and I dug up the grave and when I saw my mother's body in the casket, I knew that I couldn't stay there anymore. The Imperials knew I was next in line to take the throne and they wanted to control the newest king. So when I ran away, they must have freaked out at first. Then I began to see the Missing Person posters pop up at every port I would go to. To me, the evil Imperials were worse than QC Planet."

      Before the guilty Imperials could react, someone quickly pulled a device out of their pocket and they zapped the evil queen and Graelis transforming them into solid figurines which were then encased in Time Force Holding Capsules. And then the capsules were zapped a second time to lock them into SPD containment cards. Medina said, "Hopefully we have seen the last of the Imperials. You notice that I wasn't taking any chances this time. Zecma has a place for people like this. Misery loves company they say..."

      The pink and white Vixentaur returned to the king and she said, "I cannot find that sexy Nebulan Foxtaur anywhere. In fact the only male Foxtaur present is that hideous sunshine colored Foxtaur over there. I want to go home, King Freydolf Foxtaur, sir." And she went back aboard the ship to go sulk in her cabin.

      Orion smiled. "There really are Red Rabbit gods! All I had to do was change my color and that pompous Tinkerbell lost interest in me!" He then looked to his father. "I have unfinished business here in Taur Valley, father. When I choose to come home, I will resume my rightful duties. But you always told me when I was growing up, to not leave a project incomplete. And if you forced me to come home right now, then you would be contradicting your own advice. Please do not tell Princess Primrose that it was Nebulan that she thought was hideous."

      Freydolf said, "When I return to the home world, I will dig up your mother's casket and give her a proper burial within the royal crypt. As for Primrose, I will wait until we are home before I tell her that she looked right at Nebulan and never recognized him. I will also mention that color should not affect true love. For if she only loves the colors of a skunk like Foxtaur, then there are others on planet whom have that coloration. ASIDE FROM ME, that is..." He winked before he hugged his son and then he gave him his birthright which was a Galactic Finances Card. "This is so you can fund your projects properly. But son... if you truly hate the Imperials and the fights they cause, then I hope your games are free and clean of the stuff which you ran away from. Otherwise, all you are really saying is that you cannot survive without Imperial Intrigue and Imperial like fighting." He the saluted Orion before getting back on board his ship, closed the ramp and then the Foxtaur shaped ship lifted off, heading of Anime World before making the jump back into space.
      End of Chapter 03


        Chapter 04
        Dark Witch said, "Am I ever glad the the ugly Tinkerbell is gone. Her colors almost made ME throw up."

        Bert walked over to Orion and said, "Another reason she didn't recognize you, Orion, is because Nebulan only has one tail and you currently have two. Your father didn't even notice."

        Orion said, "My father nailed me with his parting words. I need to learn how to find peace with myself or else my games will simply be an Imperial carbon copy fighting game. You will help me, won't you, Bert?"

        American Rabbit then walked over to Orion and handed him a packet of database discs with the words S'taurrior Database Justice Patrol Clean Up Edition and the date listed was before S'taurrior III was premiered. "Merry Christmas, Orion. Convert this over to DONK.OS coding and you will have your original S'taurrior Rebels game back. If you make it clean and without Imperials to start with then everyone wins. This is a copy of the one we keep in storage. As for the Angel Dogs, Bert... they were prevented from coming when I last called them. Apparently the Evil Sorcerer found a way to redirect them to the other Animated World when I would try to call them and the other Gerard Prince would tell them that he didn't call them. I think even Itchy was getting tired of the way the messed up contract operated in regards to me. Anyway, I need to get back and see about completing the mission I am doing for Freedom. If he called himself BatWolftaur then I would have to kill him for sure." And then the heroic rabbit departed with his team.

        Bert said, "We have some work to do, Orion. I am sorry for putting you on the spot. But at least we put the plot back home to rest finally."

        Orion hugged Bert. "Thanks for giving me another chance. But since I lost the LucasArts permission, I will just have to make something of my own."

        Bert said, "That might not be as hard as you think, Orion... The online DONK.OS code converter can convert the entire game and make a new database with any changes you may want to provide to the new S'taurrior role-playing world. Just do as your father has asked. I will help you as much as I can. But I am still working on Westaurn Ho. My Taur-specific old west adventure. That is the project that I have been working on these last few days."

        Orion smiled. "An old west adventure with Taurs. I could see that as fun. Let's get to work."

        The next few days was spent in converting the S'taurrior database and rebel specific game over into DONK.OS code. All player accounts were revived, but existing characters were restored to Level 1 so they could perform the new tutorial utilizing one of Bert's better ideas. Everyone could start game play at Level 10 rather than at Level 2 or 3. The harder than Hell portions of the tutorial were altered to make it more enjoyable for the players. Since this was to be an all new S'taurrior with a fresh start, that meant a new Intro as well as new voice-overs and new musical scores. Orion wanted the graphics to be three-dimensional with a controllable camera angle for game play. With Bert's permission, the more fun features were brought back to the game, such as Free Action, PVID, Party PVID, Global Chat, Guild Chat, Adoption Services, improved equipment and ships, as well as an improved Skills and abilities system with restructured statistics for every character. The new statistics were Apex, Coordination, Dodging, Endurance, Intellect, Leadership, Presence and Smarts. Eight stats instead of the original five. As for the new professions, Orion set the following choices: Mechanic, Electrician, Pilot, Programmer, Tank, Marksman, Navigator and Jack-of-all-Trades. All eight of the new professions were considered to be rebels within the new game. Every time a player completed a part of the Tutorial, the character was awarded 1,000 credits and 100 upgrade points for their home base. Players were required to invest some money within an in-game stock that would rise and fall depending upon how well the player did in the game. Dividends were direct deposited into the character's Cred funds. For every twenty levels, the player was permitted to start a new city on his character's home world. Cities could be improved upon endlessly. The choice was in the player's paw-hands. The new S'taurrior would be Simulation, Role-Playing, PVP, and Socialization. The new AI system would custom tailor quests to various home worlds, thus making game play more fun than it had been before. And then came the all-new Intro Movie.

        "Some say, that life here began out there... with tribes of Taurs seeking peace within a violent and dangerous universe. Some say, that there yet be brothers of Taur-kind fighting to survive in the vast reaches of space..." And then an armored armada of original looking Rebel ships piloted their way across the view as the title then appeared for all to see. "S'taurrior X: a Colonization and Survival game. Produced by Orion Foxtaur Enterprises. (Based on the original S'taurrior by former gaming company Taur Star Games.)"

        And directly under the login screen, were the words, "Players may log in using their original S'taurrior accounts from the old days which will all be honored." Then there were the buttons. [Log In], [Create a new OFE game account] and [Download all media files (warning, this is a 25 MB file and could take a few minutes)]. The third button was for Laptop and PC users. The 3-D holographic polygons were the newest that DONK.OS could offer especially since Orion wanted to wow the old players.

        Soon Orion got on the horn and he announced to all of his loyal Taur friends, "The all new S'taurrior X revival is now available. Sadly, I will need to assign new game collars for anyone wanting to play this game. The new collars will support the old games for anyone wanting to continue playing the other games. The new collars provide new graphics quality. Meet with me in Town Meeting Hall for anyone wanting to upgrade their game collars."

        And then Orion waited in the Town Meeting Hall to see whom all would show up.

        Bert arrived with a smile and then every taur Player in the valley as well as anyone whom had game collars on Earth logged in.

        One Taur asked, "Will the new collars only support one game company or both companies or what?"

        Bert would permit Orion to explain this since it was his meeting. "The new collars support both companies. When you log in, you will see a choice between [NGE] and [OFE]."

        "Simply choose the company for which game you are seeking," said Bert. "then on the next screen click the button for the game you want and you're in."

        Orion then said, "All games will be receiving the graphics upgrade. New game releases will appear as a new button on the game selection list."
        End of Chapter 04


          Chapter 05
          Not surprisingly, all collar users requested the new collars. When players looked at the NGE games list, they saw [Westaurn Ho] grayed out and unable to be selected. Hovering over the button gave a tool-tip about what the game was about. Players were excited now that they knew what Bert was working on.

          For Bert's newest extravaganza, he did away with stats all together. Making the Old West Taur adventure into a skill based system. The more skills you had, the more powerful you were. There were three basics. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Then the player got to choose one additional skill as a basic. The choices were Physics, Faith and Magic. These three gave bonuses toward learning other skills and using related skills more reliably. Experience Points and Levels were still in play, naturally. If a player chose Physics, then his character had a default as a Cowboy-Taur. If they chose Faith, then the character had a default as a Greenhorn-Taur. If they chose magic, then the character got to start as an Indian-Taur. Players learned skills outside of the extra basic at a -1 penalty, while compatible skills were learned at a bonus. This meant you could, with work, have an Indian-Cowboy with effort.

          Height, Weight and Bulk determined a players base stats if someone wanted to work it out like that. But the skills is what made the Taur in Westaurn Ho.

          Then there was Bert's all new opening movie to the game. A stampede of cattle rumbled past the stationary camera and then a sexy gray Panthrotaur stepped into view wearing a western vest and having a gun belt around the bottom of his torso. "Howdy folks. I am Marshal Tom Textaur. Welcomed to Westaurn Ho, a Taur-specific game set in the old west. During the Cowboy tutorial, as well as in other parts of the game, you will be seeing a lot of me. I will teach you how to be a proper Cowboy-Taur, how to use your guns and how to set up a homestead. When I need help against hombre-Taurs, I might give you a call." Then he glanced to one side and he muttered, "Oh my gods, here comes what I call a Greenhorn-Taur. Please have the decency not to end up being one of his types." At that point, a Ferret-Taur wearing the torso outfit of a banker stepped into view. "Well greetings, newcomers. Although the Marshal refers to my group as the Greenhorns, we are what makes up most of the rest of the standard professions throughout Westaurn Ho. We have bankers, bartenders, barbers, smiths, prospectors, as well as ministers, although I put little trust in that last type. Money is what makes the world go round, newcomer. And..." He stopped as he noted someone from the other side trotting up toward where their little gathering was stationed. "And if you thought the Marshal regarded my group as uncivilized, here comes one of those heathen-Taurs." And then a tribal painted Coyote-Taur with a feather in his headband trotted into view. "Mister Bosco... your cattle are about to collide with the bank." The Ferret-Taur said, "Excuse me, newcomers, I have to go stop a catastrophe." And he quickly ran off in the direction the stampede went. The Indian Coyote-Taur then said, "I am Moonfeather Windpaw, the representative of the Indian-Taurs in Westaurn Ho. Whether you start as one of our kind or you ally with us, you may find our association quite beneficial toward your success in Westaurn Ho." Marshall Tom Textaur then said, "Remember newcomers, the choice is yours..." And then sample scenes of game play and Cowboy-Taur examples were shown first. "You can be a Cowboy-Taur," and then more sample scenes of game play and Greenhorn-Taur examples were shown second. "You can be a Greenhorn-Taur," and finally sample scenes of game play and Indian-Taur examples were shown last. "Or you can be an Indian-Taur." And then a large group of in-game NPCs were shown in front of a western looking town as the title screen and game company appeared over the town in the sky. "All here in Westaurn Ho! Do you have the courage to travel back to those thrilling days of yesteryear? Join up today, partner!"

          Then the appropriate buttons appeared along the bottom of the screen. [Craft a New NGE Account] [Login With an Existing NGE ID Code] or simply [Login].

          To fully test the game, Bert ported in his favorite character, Lukas Quadwalker, having the same name as well. He chose the Cowboy profession arc of the game and this started him in one of the three starting locales. Cowboys had to report to the Marshal where they would receive their basic training and starting equipment. Greenhorns had to report to the banker and choose one of several starting jobs to prove they could sell all of their snake-oil tonics to the NPC locals. There were three routes to take when doing this. Cheat, Lie and Swindle was one of the choices. Fib about the Product wasn't as bad as lying, and could have better results. This was the second choice. And finally, the Honest Route was the third choice. Being honest could score contacts as well as monetary tips which could help in the long run. And finally Indians had to report to Moonfeather in his lone camp overlooking a popular western trail. Indians learned the basics of hunting, fishing, and tracking as well as receiving a bonus magical spell from the beginners list of magical spells. Regardless of player choice, the characters' next stop was in Tutaurial Gulch where the next part of their tutorial training would occur. Tutaurial Gulch was a neutral point in the game that players could return to at any time to learn guaranteed new skills, buy replacement equipment, or even to use the honest bank with no hidden fees. Players could spend as much time as they desired in Tutaurial Gulch improving their characters. But once a player clicked [End Tutorial], they were sent to a lone train depot in the Westaurn Wilderness where they could either go to the local town or opt to start their own town or personal ranch somewhere in the new local area. Preferable starting areas included clean water sources, fertile soiled terrain, precious metal abundant zones and natural resource zones (such as black gold, gem veins and star metal deposits.) Finding the last choice was extremely rare to difficult unless you were an Indian or had Indian training. Bert had Cowboy Lukas try to learn skills from all three professions, but overall, he would be an honest cowboy with minister training as well as tribal magic skills at a lower rank. It took twice as much effort to learn skills from one of the other professions.

          When Bert was satisfied with Tutaurial Gulch and everything he could do there, he clicked on [End Tutorial] and he found himself out at the Train Depot just South of the starting town of Taur-Ell West. At this point, he chose to have Cowboy Lukas use his new skills to go locate a good [Start Your Own] locale where he established the Oval Q Ranch which had access to Fresh water, a silver vein, fertile soil and a jade deposit. His ranch was the base for the new town that would officially appear on trade routes in the game once the ranch reached Level 5 and had its own general store, a bank, a saloon, a stagecoach depot and a church with cemetery. A Level 5 settlement with five structures and at least one resource. For every ten citizens, the settlements level increased by one. When the 5th level was reached for the new town, it was automatically added to the trade route maps. At current, The Oval Q was all Lukas had in the game. Other players could be invited to join the game and once they chose to end tutorial, they could start at the settlement where they got their invite to instead of at the base starting locale. To test this function, Bert invited Ernie Donkeytaur to join the game to see if he would arrive at the Oval Q Ranch after Tutorial ended. And when Ernie did arrive, Bert was satisfied with the gaming system and he uploaded the game link to the DONK.OS games list as NGE_WH and then he updated the company page for the new game.

          Uploading the new intro movie to the MeTube web site under the publicly viewable channel, marked the availability of the new game to the public. Bert then sent the game open advertisement directly into the transparent marquee parts of all of the games. "Westaurn Ho is open for game play, partners! You can port in favorite characters as is common for players of NGE games. Otherwise, you have to get a staff member to help you to port your character into the game. I am playing Lukas Quadwalker as a Cowboy in Westaurn Ho. The intro movie is available on the MeTube account page. I know most of you will laugh when you watch it. You can take as much time as you like in the tutorial before entering the game. Hope to see you soon."

          Bert was then sending Oval Q invites to all of his Hellhound friends while Ernie was sending invites to his nice Underworld and Digimon allies. Within the first two hours, Bert's new town of Jaded Chance was established at Level 6 and was added to the trade route maps. The town had over 60 citizens.
          End of Chapter 05


            Chapter 06
            The benefit of having your town on the official trade route maps was that Marshal Tom and Moonfeather Windpaw could pop into town whenever they liked. Players could join a town without an invite by sending the owner a PM to ask for citizenship in the town. For every level above 5, the town received a new business of the owner's choice. At level 10, a NPC army fort was automatically established near the town for added law enforcing authority to the owner's settlement.

            By the end of the first day, Bert was smiling; they had a little over 88,000 players in Westaurn Ho. Twelve thousand shy of the opening day numbers for Quadrutaurian Adventures.

            The new S'taurrior X game surpassed all opening records by scoring 199,000 players in one day. Orion had been ecstatic; S'taurrior X was an instant success.

            Eventually, Bert saw an incoming PM from Miner_Clan-Single(at)Linus.NGE. The message read, "I just got out of the tutorial. Man, Banker Bosco is a sleazy prick! How can I find your town, old buddy? Clan wants to tag up with Lukas."

            Bert typed out his reply with two choices in the reply, "There are two ways you can get here. Either choose to join my town as a citizen which will automatically transport Clan to my town, or you can go to the Stage Coach office in town and open the travel map and look for all Level 6 towns. At the beginning of the game, the default Level 10 towns are NPC controlled. There should only be one Level 6 town on the coach map. I will let you choose the method you wish to partake in." And below the message was a button marked [Accept Town Invite] along with a message that stated that the invite would expire in 4 hours.

            Moments later, Linus' character, the miner Leotaur known as Clan Single was shaking Cowboy Lukas' hand. "When I saw how much it would cost to travel from the starting town by stage coach to your new town, I chose to accept your invite. Since Clan is a Miner, I hope you have a good mine that Clan can work in."

            Lukas smiled. "Well, partner... you can either choose to work in the silver mines or within the jade mines. Of course, this is also a farming and fishing settlement as well as the mines. You don't have to do a day job every time you log into the game; we do have a missions board within the saloon itself. Bounties are available from the Jail in town. And don't forget that every time you reach a new level, your sponsor will PM you a new Level mission for you to complete. Level Missions cannot be shared between players. Miners fall under Bosco, so you will get PM missions from him at each new level. Cowboys get missions from Tom Textaur. Indians get theirs from Moonfeather. Just remember that you can return to Tutaurial Gulch at any time if you think there is something there you can still learn. What did you think of the intro movie?"

            Clan smiled in return. "Linus was laughing his ass off when he saw that opening. The stampede is heading toward the bank was so funny! Can players teach each other skills and what are the rules on that, if yes?"

            Lukas said, "Learning a skill within your starting class is learned at a -1 penalty if being taught by another player. A -2 penalty for out of class skills if being taught by another player. To reduce the penalties, return to Tutaurial Gulch and have one of the main three mentors to educate you in the skill in question. For same class skills, it removes the penalty all together. For the out of class skills, it restores the penalty to the game's default of -1. This means that in order to use an out of class skill at a positive level, you need to be Level 2 in the out of class skill in order to make it work at Level 1. There are two ways to increase your skills levels. Either do the skill in the field or return to Tutaurial Gulch and pay the mentor for quick way to increase the skill. In the field skill usage adds +0.01 to that skill for every successful use of the skill. Westaurn Ho is skill based. Returning to Tutaurial Gulch is always free as well as returning to the town you joined."

            Clan then asked, "How does a player quit a town if they are ready to move on?"

            Lukas giggled before he patted Clan's back. "If a player wants to do that, then they enter their character profile and they find the Citizenship link on the profile. The current town is shown next to that. We are in Jaded Chance at the moment. Click the town name and a drop-down menu will show two choices. In the first slot is the word Default; the second slot contains the current town name. Select Default and then click save profile. Make damned sure you have all business done in the town you are quitting because the second you click save, your character is auto-evicted and teleported back to the starter town and any town-specific missions you were working on are removed from your active missions log. The former town's map is also removed from your character maps log. So there is no stockpiling maps from every town."

            Clan whewed. "A bit extreme but I can understand why you set it up that way, old buddy. I have one more question. How does a player join the Westaurn Ho staff?"

            Lukas said, "One more note in regards to maps, if a player travels to a town the old fashioned way and maps it manually, they get to keep their maps but as with Level Missions, map sharing between players is banned."

            Lukas then took Clan into the saloon and got him a sarsaparilla drink before bringing him over to the missions board. "To join the Westaurn Ho staff, either talk to me out of game or do ten town missions in the game and then fill out a staff application form at the bank. And when I mean out of game, I mean face to face or muzzle to muzzle since I hang out in my Taur form a lot these days. And before you ask, no, Orion has not asked me about joining the Westaurn Ho staff although I know he is in the game and still in Tutaurial Gulch. He chose the Indian mentor route."

            Clan drank his drink and then he asked, "How is PVP handled?"

            Lukas grinned again. "One-on-One PVP is done in this way. First, you can only have Gunfight duels with players on their Dislikes list. These can happen at any time of the day. Second, once a day, friends can participate in a Fisticuffs duel. If this type of fight occurs within a saloon, then it becomes a Brawl. Citizens of the town do not have to pay for damages, so make sure you have cash on paw or are a citizen of the town before you have a fight within a saloon. Last, once a week, there is a Class versus Class PVP session that occurs within a sandbox version of Westaurn Ho. Anyone can apply to join this free for all. Gunfights and Fisticuffs are the only player versus player fights you can see within the main game. Otherwise, it is off to the Sandbox. I will be making these answers to your questions available in the Help section of the game for others with these same questions."
            End of Chapter 06


              Chapter 07
              A few days later, Bert was having a quiet dinner with Orion and Gawain. "Where's your little brother, Gawain? I haven't heard a peep out of him in days."

              Gawain replied, "Mom has him in a work detail around the homestead. And while he is doing that, no gaming of any sort. He is majorly bummed out."

              Orion then inquired, "Bert... is Linus acting normal when you see him? I spoke to him the other day in game and he was acting strangely as in such a way that wasn't normal for him. He asked me a lot of questions about the inner workings of the revamped S'taurrior game. Including how PVP was handled. The way he asked me about that and about being on staff put me on red alert and I decided that I needed to ask you about this."

              Bert replied, "He hit me with a bunch of those same questions a few days ago. But nothing ever came of it and I put it out of my mind since I was focusing on getting Westaurn Ho balanced and running smoothly. I figured he had been asking on your behalf but since he hit you with the same questions, that is reason enough for alarm." He got up from the table and he went over to his mainframe as he tapped in a game-wide search parameter. "List all on-line times for Linus Leotaur/Linus Ligrotaur in the last two weeks. Post results on the main screen." He then rejoined his two guests at the dining table. As they dined, the list was being posted. the first week had several log-ins from Linus across all of the games. But then starting the day after Westaurn Ho's grand opening, Linus had not logged in at all. It was as if he had died or was no longer in the Valley.

              Gawain said, "Um, Bert?" he asked paying attention to the screen. "His last log-in occurred the day Westaurn Ho opened. Then he simply disappears out of every game across the board."

              Orion said, "I always had issues with Linus but I thought we were beyond petty squabbles what with everything we went through recently. He may be in trouble. I hate to suggest this, Bert; but I think Medina should be called in to make sure Linus is okay. We know she is investigating missing players in a bunch of Zecma's games. And this may be cause for alarm. Better safe than sorry. If we went there, it could be a trap for us. I think we are both tired of dealing with the evil sorcerer."

              Bert raised his Justice Patrol Comm Unit and he pressed the Medina button. When she answered, Bert explained what the apparent issue was about how they were concerned but they didn't want to fall into a trap if one was in place. Medina responded by saying that she would look into the issue. Then the call ended. "Medina told me to say here at my place until she contacts me with information on Linus. You know... there is the off chance that he might just be sick."

              Orion replied, "I hope that is all there is to the situation. I know how much Lukas cares about Clan."

              Bert said, "Lukas also likes Nebulan. They are good friends to each other. Although I have noted that Clan had been on less and less up until Linus' disappearance out of the games. I did arrange an anti-deletion code on Clan Single in case Linus ever tried to delete the character. Clan doesn't deserve that."

              Orion said, "So you have Clan on protected status, is that it?"

              Bert replied, "In S'taurrion Knights, yes. Did he attempt to wipe his character out of the other OFE games?"

              Orion sighed. "Actually, yes. I had at first thought that he had done it as an accident; but then he never made a new character."

              Bert then said, "During protected status, the game would inform a player that the character had been deleted; but in truth, he would still exist in the Master Character Database that I use to back up everyone's characters just in case of accidents. I can call on the characters with my ability whenever I want."

              Unexpectedly, Bert's comm unit beeped. He answered it. "Go ahead, Medina. What's the story?"

              Over the open channel for all in the room to hear, Medina said, "Bert... I know you cared about him but... Linus committed suicide by poison, pill and alcohol overdose several days ago. His cold body is laying here in his home on the floor. His gaming collars are cut up in tiny pieces in a pile under his body. And he left a note... It reads as follows: To whom it may concern... I am sorry for being a lying filthy rebel sack of shit. Bert doesn't deserve this of a rotten feline like me. I have removed all of my characters from the games; I know Bert can save them if he wants. After my passing, the entire valley will be bequeathed to Bert Thomas as the new Valley governor. I've always been a hermit. When I first met Bert, I wanted him for myself. But as more and more people got involved with him, he began to slip further and further away from me. Please do not bother to have me revived because I will simply do this again. I guess I lose, guys. Long live the Empire. Signed, Linus Ligrotaur." Medina paused at that point before continuing, "I don't understand the signature, Bert. He is clearly in his Leotaur form but he wrote Ligrotaur after his name."

              Bert then opened a side channel and he said, "Time Shaman, I have a time mission for you. I need to know what happened to the real Linus Leotaur from two weeks ago up until he supposedly committed suicide. Word is that he tried to delete all of his characters before performing the overdose on himself. You don't have to change time unless it looks like foul play is involved. I would hate to lose a friend. In the suicide note, he made the mistake to write Long live the Empire in the way the leftover imperials would have said it. And then he miss-identified himself in the letter. Please Timesy... I'll show you another good time for your helping me with this."

              Moments later, a battered and bruised Time Shaman along with his friends Dark Witch, Midnight Maverick and Cruxes as well as Brightburst arrived as a group along with an unconscious Linus Ligrotaur looking as he had before the Imperial Prison incident. M.M. said, "When you promise a fight, Timesy, you don't kid around. And bringing the old group back together for this will surely piss Kazma off. But boy was THAT a lot of fun!"

              And then Medina arrived as she said, "Timesy, you need to get Dalis back to Camp World to PACE before Kazma catches him here. Good to see you again, Dalis. Now everyone hold still while I perform my doctoring of your bodies. Do I actually see a bruise on Lighty? That's a first. They must have caught you off guard, Brightburst. Sorry for the rhyme; accidents in wording happens sometimes as Dr. Warner used to say."
              End of Chapter 07


                Chapter 08
                Early the next morning, Bert and Orion were sitting in the bedroom waiting for Linus to awaken after the medical flushing that he had received from Medina. They had read over Timesy's report on how the Imperials had Linus in a chamber directly behind where the Leotaur had been found with Orion and the phony Linus actor played his part a bit too well right up to the end when he forgot to write the note as Linus should have wrote it. He had let his Imperial cape fall out and that was his undoing. It was lucky that Bert had gotten suspicious after the Imperial committed suicide after trying unsuccessfully to wipe out Linus' characters. Nighthawk Games protected all created characters just in case.

                Over in the bed, the Ligrotaur stirred slowly. "Ow... this doesn't feel like the dungeon cell in the Imperial Prison."

                Bert replied, "Well, old friend... I had to rescue the filthy rebel smuggler from ending up in deleted character Hell. You are in my bed within my home; your home is being repaired yet again. I don't know why the Imperials hate you so much. But I am having a wild idea on a possibility."

                Linus glanced out from under the blankets as he commented. "Do tell, game master."

                Bert then turned to look at Orion. "Do you remember Ernie Donkeytaurmon's character? Duke Donkeytaur? Whom had gotten into the real world and we had to call in Kazma, Dark Witch and Medina to deal with him? He almost caught me off guard that one time."

                Orion nodded his head. "I do recall that horrible character, Bert. What of him?"

                Bert said, "At the time, the only way for characters to get out of the game was through the Shared Experience setting in the Imperial menu. That's how a lot of the Imperials got out into Taur Valley that one time. However, I suspect that their doing it wasn't the first time that it had occurred..." He then turned to look back at Linus. "Isn't that right, Imperial Linus Ligrotaur? You were the character and Clan Single was the player whom you tricked into taking your place in the game world and when he couldn't figure out how to get back to the planet, you got a big kick out of continuing to play him as if he was the character and you were the real Taur. Not long after you were free, you met up with the fake Orion and his phony brother Epsilon. Thinking you were the player, they tried everything in their Imperial ability to get you killed."

                Linus arched an eye as he chuckled. "That's a fanciful tale, Bert. But sadly, no one would ever believe it because Clan Single got deleted from the games."

                Bert grinned. "You Imperials just cannot wait to fess up when you don't know all the details. Orion? I had Timesy go back in time to rescue this Linus and he is quoting a fact that occurred before I called Timesy. The only way he could know that the fake Linus attempted to delete the Clan character would be if they had planned it."

                Linus growled, "Be that as it may, Bert. Clan was deleted; you admitted it. Hard to recover a character from zero-one deletion. Besides, without outside proof, it is your word against mine." But he was about to lose his resolve entirely.

                At that moment, the closet door opened and King Kazma, Medina, Time Shaman, Lukas Quadwalker and Clan Single emerged from the space beyond. Clan said, "Fancy trick in trying to delete me, character. Thanks for the quick save, Bert."

                Bert replied, "When attempting to delete Main Story Line characters, a request is sent directly to my game master console. When I saw whom was being attempted to be erased, I denied the incoming request and placed Clan on Protected Status across every game that he is in of my game company. Had this been the old days, a deletion command would have completely obliterated the character without fail."

                The power cuffs were placed upon Linus as he was caged up for deportation. Kazma said, "Since your imperial fake destroyed all of your game collars, you won't be sneaking back into the games ever again. And to think we almost overlooked you as an Imperial."

                Bert nodded his head. "I recalled while talking to Kazma and the Justice Patrol that Nebulan's story of Clan in game mentioned that Linus had deleted his old character and made a new one of the imperial variety which he played rebel style to back stab as many Imperials as possible; yet he never attacked Nebulan whom was definitively Imperial in game yet was a perfect gentleman during the dinners we had as a group. That's when it dawned on us that Clan had originally been made from Imperial stock. Same as Lukas had."

                Medina said, "While I was examining you to see if their were any fatal injuries in your body, I found your fur pocket containing your Imperial Communicator and a spare game collar unopened for Bert's newest game collar edition. At that point I handed him the boxed collar and I gave the communicator to Kazma."

                Kazma said, "It wasn't just a communicator, Medina. It was a remote control for artificially doing the power trick that Bert can do to open a game door into the gaming universe and that is how the Imperials continued to get into the valley. I have chosen to give your back door gating device to Dark Vega since he wants to build a new army in the real Dark Nebula."

                Bert said, "The serial number on the box didn't match any collars in my company database, so I had the questionable collar dissolved in an anti-matter generator. That way, a nasty trap didn't befall a good player later on. My game company coding is different from Orion's as he and I both agreed that they should be."

                Within the cage, Linus looked furious that they had figured everything out and he had been found out finally. He was struggling to get free of the power cuffs to no avail. Worse, Bert and Orion seemed chummier than ever and they even had access to Clan whenever they liked.

                Bert said, "Your clone's nail in the coffin before he messed up the suicide note occurred when he asked both Orion and I questions about the PVP rules in both of our games. I must have disappointed him since he got answers for Westaurn Ho which isn't even set in a galactic setting at all. But now that we have you boxed up and out of our way, I will drop one last fact on you. I got suspicious about how the village basics could be as easy as you made them out to be. So I asked the mayor about it and I almost couldn't pass his test."
                End of Chapter 08