Star Divers: Dungeons of Bane by Stephen Landry at its core is about losing a friend and finding faith in others. It tells the story of Breq a 17 year old kid living in the 2070s who works as a ‘Corpse Diver’ in a VRMMO called Bane. It’s a story of trust and vengeance.
The walk back to the shuttle was silent. Neither Nel nor I said a word to one another as I strapped myself in and programmed a course back to the planet Apus where the other Corpse Divers would be waiting for me. I already had a call from Cass asking me where the hell I had been. I lied and said I went to explore Alpha-3 Euthenia in quadrant 2, a low-level dungeon where newer players went to grind. When I first started it was a requirement to spend several days a week levelling up your character and traversing different environments. In the beginning it was a blast. The game world felt fluid and the enemies were over- whelming. Each kill was a rush. I can still remember having chills the first time I slayed a Wraith boss. I would have to hack the shuttle’s navigation and history before I logged out but that was easy. Hacking was one of the few skills I had that I was actually good at.
It would be another twenty minutes before the shuttle was close to Apus in Alpha-1…I had to speak to Damien. Nel had to be lying.
There was no one waiting for me outside my pod. No interns, no doctors, not even security marching up and down the halls. I unstrapped myself and pushed my headgear to the side. ‘How did Damien die?’ I wondered aloud, standing up, ready to ask him where it was he had gotten himself killed.
Next to me was an empty pod with a ‘Do Not Use’ sign taped on the front of it. I walked down the hall. I felt alone as I felt the cold air brush against my cheeks. I was wearing normal clothes…a graphic tee and some cargo pants. Nothing warm, even though the weather outside was changing. Anyway, Keen Industries were supposed to deliver me a jacket with their logo, so I didn’t see the point in buying anything new. Each of us were given what we needed and even assigned specific pods to use. They were ours, paid for by the corporation as another incentive for us to hand over everything we found in the game. Technically they didn’t have to pay for us to have our own pods but as much as they made selling artefacts it was cheaper for them than having players not able to login from broken dives at home.
Damien played for the love of the game. He didn’t need it like I did. He had a loving family, a home to go back to while I stayed in the shelter at the complex with several of the others, sleeping on a dirty cot. Sometimes I crashed at his place. He had his own personal pod too…maybe he had stayed home. Corporate were always doing maintenance on the pods, so maybe he had tried to come to work and couldn’t. No. It was rare if ever he would use his pod at home for anything other than personal gaming.
As I continued to wander through the complex my mind began to fill with terrible ideas. Nel couldn’t have been serious. Damien couldn’t be dead. Not really. He was already level 52 and had just purchased his own personal fighter with a bonus he made during Operation Two to Tango.
‘SIR!’ I yelled, finally spotting someone.
‘Kid? What are you doing wandering around here?’ said the attendant. It was a security officer. I could see he had a small fire- arm attached to his hip and he was wearing a bulletproof jacket over a t-shirt and name tag.
‘Do you know if Damien Walker came in today?’ I asked.
The security officer looked at me and down at the floor. ‘You’re on his team aren’t you,’ he said at last. His eyes looked hollow.
‘Yes sir, I’m a Corpse Diver, zeta-one-nine,’ I told him my in-game profession and call sign, as if that would mean something to him.
‘I’m sorry,’ the officer said, ‘it was heart failure about half an hour ago.’
You can only imagine my reaction. Damien was gone.
A Bite of… Stephen Landry
Why do you write? Money is an acceptable answer.
To create. To explore the unknown. As an escape from my own depression. I wrote my first little book when I was 12 and called it ‘Avalon’ it was bad sci-fi with superpowers and mechs. Not much has changed but my writing style has gotten a bit better. I’ve also been writing poems and song lyrics since I can remember. I’v always had a big love for cinema, books, and video games.
Facing your demons? How much of what you write could be classed as therapy?
Funny enough ‘Face your demons’ is something I have written in several of my novels. Every novel is therapy, without creativity I wouldn’t be able to function. I have poured my heart into every novel, every story, even the smaller ones are sprinkled with themes of hope, issues with depression, fear.
How much of your writing is autobiographical?
Since all of it takes place in the future none of it really but events, emotions, those are all real. Almost all of my main characters are musicians because I am as well. Music actually plays a huge role in my novels even if it’s subtle. Breq my main character in Star Divers also has a familiar names Aiko whose personality is a combo of my German Shepherd TT and Rottweiler Sadie.
Have you ever written somebody you love into a book?
Yes. Sleepers, a novel I wrote for NaMoWriMo is based on myself, my fiancée, her brother, and several of my friends.
Stephen Landry is a science fiction / LitRPG author known best for Star Divers: Dungeons of Bane and the sci-fi/survival horror series Deep Darkness! He is also a graphic designer, artist, musician, and film producer. He lives in Nashville with the love of his life, two rescue dogs, and a cat named Neelix. In his spare time he enjoys films, reading, hiking, kayaking, and playing video games. You can catch him on Twitter, support him through Patreon, or find him at home on his blog.