Chapter 9: — VR Headset Obtained!—
Jack’s eyes slowly fluttered open, a smile still plastered on his face from yesterday’s event. He could feel it; this was the beginning of his new life, a good one! He slowly fished his pocket for his cellphone.
— You have 7 new messages—
This had to be his boss a the burger joint. Tony was an abusive piece of shit that had obviously flared out with Jack missing his shift. As if the asshole had the right to complain considering all the unpaid overtime he always made them do!
In Fat Tony’s eyes, workers were nothing but disposable pawns. Jack had to miss the old man’s funeral in his previous life because this fucker wouldn’t allow him to take a day off without being fired. Rent had to be paid, after all…
Jack happily keyed in the number to Tasty’Burgers.
“Hello there Tony, it’s Jack! Kindly go fuck yourself. I won’t be coming in anymore! See you never!”
“You worthless little ungrateful bitch! You think you’re anything special, eh! Your family’s gonna end up on the street! You’ll be begging me to take you back, you bastard! You—”
What a dumbass! Anyway, it was time to go shopping! Jack left with a pep in his steps and a huge smile. But, he was intercepted a few meters away from the door!
— A wild hobo appeared!—
What would Jack do?!
– Fight? – Ignore?
– Item? – Run?
The man was wearing rags, was dirty enough to make a pile of shit look clean, had the breath that went with it, and teeth more rotten than politicians.
“H-help me. Help little ol’ me. Just a few credits will do! I’m so hungry!” He pleaded, trying to grab onto Jack’s clothes.
Grave mistake, very grave mistake! This place was considered a “good” neighborhood. That’s the reason their family had come here in the first place, for Lilly to be safe. Jack could already see the public safety agents heading over.
They wore black military suits, armbands identifying themselves and carried electric nightsticks. Before the hobo could even react, they were already violently beating him, so much that he was now convulsing and coughing blood.
But, a middle-aged lady suddenly cried out: “Stop! What are you guys doing! Are you out of your mind?!”
In the victim’s eyes, there was a faint trace of hope, one that was bound to disappear with her following words.
“My taxes pay your salaries! You need to be careful! You’re getting blood all over the street! Also, go easy on toasting him. It’s gonna smell of burnt hobo now!” She criticized harshly, many concerned citizens nodding in agreement.
Jack kept walking, used to such scenes. F Hobo! One thing for sure: he’d never fucking allow Lilly to suffer a similar fate! Never! He would conquer Infinite, make tons of $ and protect his family at all costs!
—Welcome to the shopping district!—
It felt like another world and was so damn lively! He could already notice flashy signs, cute-looking U-bots singing publicity jingles, pop music in the background, the smell of hot dogs drifting from food carts, and tons of happy passerby.
Life was good in the city. It was safe, void of beggars, there were great schools and plenty of entertainment. This place was a happy haven— for people with Credits at least. Jack could already notice a queue of youngsters at his destination.
—Reached the VR Shop!—
The building was 70% covered with a huge screen that showed various VR games. Yes, various of them, even if today was the launch of goddamn INFINITE! Why?! Well, people and businesses were skeptical about the game.
Jack could hear echoes of discussion about the topic. He listened as he had nothing better to do. It was 13:07, and the game would launch at 17:00. Infinite headsets took time to buy as they required on-site calibration. He’d be there for hours…
“I’m so hyped to buy Infinite! I’m gonna be gaming all night! What about you guys?!”
“Oh, it’s a scam, you know? I’m here to buy Desolate Desert Online! You should try it. It’s fun!”
“What?! The best game ever is releasing, and you’re not here for that?!”
“I’m not here for Infinite either.”
“Alright, out of the 50 of us, who here is waiting for Infinite?!”
Thus began a survey with very mixed results.
1. (28 individuals) Waiting for Infinite with great enthusiasm.
2. (24 individuals) Trying to buy other stuff. (Archaic Age, Always Winter, Guilds at War, Eldritch Scrolls Online, Eve of Day Online, RuneLandscape, World of Much War and Little Craft, etc.)
“So, why are you guys even here. Infinite requires a special headset, but can’t you guys just order your stuff online?”
“I don’t trust my neighbors enough to order a headset by delivery. What if they try to steal it?!”
“I can get an exclusive skin if I buy in-store….”
“I can’t believe you guys are missing the best game ever! The game footage of Infinite is so damn amazing!”
“Yep, the NPCs feel so damn real! It’s like it’s truly a new world!”
“Aren’t you guys going to mention the fact that the devs are lazy as fuck? The only race available in Infinite is human! There is no Class choice either!”
“Bro, you obviously didn’t research properly! You can be whatever Class you want, even create Classes! It’s possible to learn everything you see in the game!”
“See, that’s the problem! There is no way such a thing is possible! It’s just impossible to develop and balance something like this!”
“That’s why Infinite is the fucking best! They use an AI to take care of all of this. That’s OP, am I right?!”
“What about races? Are you going to tell me that people can just change their races?!”
“They said it’s possible to change race too. I’m just not sure how….”
“Eh, once you have this figured out, then maybe I’ll change my mind!”
That’s when Jack chimed in.
“It’s called Race Change Ritual. With the right conditions, usually enough affinity with a specific race, you can convert species. One just needs to be careful with the alignment: there are good and evil races.”
“OMG?! That’s epic!”
“So I can play a dragon?!”
“Dragon? Yes, but remember that the stronger the race, the harder it is to achieve. Dragonewt would be easy, but dragon…good luck!” Jack chuckled.
“This guy is an expert!”
“What about Quests?!”
“I heard they are infinite too!”
“Wouldn’t that be overwhelming?”
“Maybe it just means repeatable ones?”
“Expert, do you know anything about this?”
“The AI generates personalized quests for every player based on their gameplay style, thousands of them at any given second. You’ll only see a few at a given time, but it’s impossible to run out. You’ll see, it’s fun.” Jack assured.
“Wow. That does sound really cool!”
“It sounds too good to be true….”
“But what if it IS true?!”
“You can refund, you know….”
“Seriously?! I’m buying Infinite right now!”
“Guys, the queue is moving forward!”
That’s when the guy in front turned around and pointed at Jack.
“Hey, expert! I was going to miss on Infinite, but you’ve convinced me to try it! Let’s switch places!”
“Are you sure? I only said three sentences….” Jack was baffled.
“It’s about how you said them. You make it sound like it’s amazing! I feel like trying it now!”
“No need to switch. You can just go ahead. It’s evident you’ve researched the game a lot! There are only a few hours to the launch. It would be a shame if you missed it.”
“Yeah, just go ahead.” The crowd agreed.
Jack nodded as he entered the building. Instantly he was welcome by a cute and lively brown-haired girl in a school uniform. What kind of businessman would do such a thing?! A smart one! (duh)
“Welcome to VR world! What are you looking for, mister?” She asked.
“I’ll need an Infinite VR headset.”
The girl jumped in surprise. She had been fooled by his outfit: jeans with holes in them along with an old hoody. How could someone dressed like that afford a 1500 Credits headset?! This was months of income!
No one sane would wait such a long time just to browse! That’s when her expression changed as an impish smile adorned her sweet face. She had figured out Jack’s secret! He was obviously a rich young master in disguise! How humble!
“Please follow me, handsome!” She gently said as she guided him toward the back toward the VR calibration room, trying her best to walk elegantly, swaying her hips.
Jack almost laughed out loud. What was she even trying to do? He silently followed her all to a small room with the calibration machine that looked identical to a massage chair linked to the test headset.
“Please sit down, and be comfortable. I’ll be right back with my associate.” A few minutes later, the girl came back.
Her associate turned out to be Lilly, which wasn’t too surprising. She froze when she saw him. What was her brother doing here?! She knew their financial situation better than anyone else!
Still, she didn’t dwell too much on the situation. Jack probably had a good reason for buying this. Instead, she turned toward her colleague with a teasing smile.
“Just to confirm, he’s the guy that you said you have dibs on, right? Is he the reason you redid your makeup just now? Have you asked for his number yet?” Lilly asked in succession.
“W-what?! Whaaat are you talking about?!”
“Oh? Guess I misunderstood. Sorry! Guess he’s up for grabs then….” Lilly “apologized”.
“W-wait! No! That’s not…you traitor!” The girl cried out, half in tear.
“Hahaha.” Jack couldn’t help it. He chuckled madly, without regard for the poor girl’s feeling. She appeared so confused!
“Pfft— hahaha” Lilly couldn’t help it either as she loudly giggled.
The other girl was left standing there in shock. What was happening?! “Hey, Lilly. Do you guys know each other by any chance?!” She tentatively asked.
“Let’s put it this way. I have his number in my contacts. I even have a heart emoticon there too.” Lilly mischievously and very misleadingly added, even winking!
“What?! Oh my god! He’s your secret boyfriend?! That’s why you aren’t interested in any of the boys at school! Oh my god! This is a huge secret! Don’t worry. I will keep it with my life!” She excitedly screamed.
That’s when Lilly showed her friend her cellphone. There it was: “Best Big Brother Ever! ??” That’s when the poor friend showed the expression of a goldfish, mouth wide open in shock! Had she really tried hitting on her best friend’s brother?! How embarrassing!
“Alright, can we proceed with the calibration? Otherwise, people are going to die out of boredom outside….” Jack remarked.
“Sure, thing! Alice, let’s get to work!”
So the weird girl was called Alice. Jack was glad to see that Lilly had at least one close friend. He closed his eyes as the process started. It honestly felt like taking a nap on a dentist’s chair. After close to 10 minutes, it was over.
Jack left the place, escorted by a blushing Alice. This had been Lilly’s suggestion, teasingly reminding Alice that dibs were sacred.
At the entrance, there was a dumb bitch trying to cut the queue, arguing that Jack had done the same. The nerve of some! She even tried claiming that she knew him. How preposterous!
He would have to remind Lilly to be careful of vile scammers like that lady. His sister was smart but maybe a little bit too kind-hearted for her own good.
Anyway, it was time for Infinite!….
Young girls sure can have vivid imaginations! I have no idea what that Alice girl pictured exactly, but she was showing colorful expressions. Then again, she would probably get mad if I called her a ‘young girl’, especially in my younger body.
Use arrow keys (or A / D) to PREV/NEXT chapter