It was so staggeringly unlikely that I suspected sabotage. But I really didn't know. There wasn't any time to think on it, anyway.
I'd gone to sleep in my procedurally/stochastically generated fantasy gamesim, Arcadia, as I did every day. There was a backup automatically made of my mindstate, sent to my personal sim, in case I was somehow destroyed. The backups knew they were not the original, and weren't supposed to wake up, anyway, unless I was unavailable.
Of course, that's not what happened. Somehow, a sizable mutation in the copy -- preserving the original checksum! -- had changed my backup's perception of herself. She didn't believe she was me, she believed she was superior to me. And while I slept, for pleasure, longer than my enhanced mind needed, she set out to prove it by assimilating all the knowledge she could. I'm not sure how she managed the mindsize -- copies of herself? Regardless, she'd locked me out of everything, and put a bunch of protections in Arcadia's code. I was furiously trying to program my way out of them, at this point focused on one goal -- getting myself out of the sim. Retreating. Giving up my empire. It was becoming grimly clear that I wouldn't even manage that.
Like I said, I suspected sabotage. But the question was academic. What could I do? The pseudo-Lyx, calling herself Nyx, had locked me out of my powers in the gamesim. My gamesim, the one I'd created and lovingly built, the one I'd moved into almost full-time, years ago, because it was safer than a personal sim could ever be. Safer, because no one knew how to find Lyx Varan in the staggering size of Arcadia.
Well, no one except a clone of me.
Four hours after I awoke, and nine after Nyx was created, there was a knock on the door of my small inn room, in a bucolic town mostly populated by humans and wood-elves. I was presenting as a wood-elf, tall and slender, my skin pale-green. It was the 77th place I'd visited in the last hour, the 77th NPC I'd patched myself into in between furious bouts of trying to code a tunnel out.
Panicky, I tried to code a 78th brainswap. Nyx was blocking me. I failed.
The door opened. There was a human girl in the doorway: golden skin, thick brown hair and brown doe-eyes. She wasn't designed like a typical inhabitant of Arcadia, player character or not. She was average outside-world human height, cuddly and fuller-figured than most PCs liked, college-age, with a shy smile and downcast eyes.
She was Renee, and she used to be my babysitter.
She shut the door and walked closer to me, fingers intertwined. I looked away, and started to cry.
It was too much. She had to be Nyx, or sent by Nyx, and yet ... and yet, she was Renee, in every detail. Just exactly like the Renee who I'd crushed on hard, who'd made me realize I was a queer girl. Who innocently cuddled and rubbed against me as I watched TV, innocently smiled at me, not knowing what she did to me, not knowing how I'd jill off to her memory when I was safely tucked in bed...
"No, I knew, Lyxie," she said, using the name only she, and my later girlfriends, called me -- her voice pure honey, every soft word sincere. "And I liked it that you crushed on me. Really."
She touched my shoulder. I flinched, but didn't push her away. "No ... you're not real..." I emitted, trying not to think at all. Trying to avoid the fantasies that I'd felt so guilty about, suppressed. To resist nobly, even when the battle seemed lost. Trying, with what miserable reserves of energy I had left, to think of some desperate way to escape.
But Renee continued, like she hadn't heard. "And, well, I couldn't do anything, it would have been wrong, but, you were so cute and ... I wanted to. I wanted to kiss you, Lyxie." She put her arm around my shoulders. "Can I kiss you?"
Sweat began running down my face. I was beginning to go delirious. I sputtered more resistance because my brain couldn't process the alternative. "I-it's not right. It's not real. You shouldn't be here! Nyx sent you to distract me. I have to get out! Go home!"
Renee looked concerned, sad. The same look she gave when I'd scraped my knee or some kid had made fun of me at school. I couldn't keep the memories out. I cried harder.