The First Time (4-1-18)

[WP] Sunday Free Write: Copybara Crisis Edition [Link to post.]

“I GOT IT!!!” Edgar ran through school’s courtyard towards his best friend, Buddy. Edgar reached Buddy, grabbed the short boy’s shoulders with a vice-like grip, then shook him like a rag doll. “I GOT IT!” Buddy wriggled his body, pushing his friend’s arms away.

“That’s great, but take it easy,” Buddy said. Once he freed himself from Edgar’s grasp he resumed walking to his last period class. 

“*Take it easy*. Easy for you to say, you’ve been playing for months already,” Edgar matched Buddy’s pace, they shared the same last period. Buddy shrugged. 

“Just luck that they released it so close to my birthday. Anyway, if you go in knowing what race and class you want the setup process is quicker and you can go right to the tutorial. Altogether it’ll take you about an hour to log in the first time,” Buddy said. Edgar nodded as they reached their classroom. 

“Does your regular group need anything specific?” Edgar asked, wanting to be helpful. 

“Don’t worry about that, man. Just pick whatever you like and we’ll make it work,” Buddy said. The bell rang and the two friends went to their own desks on opposite sides of the room. After class Edgar bolted out the door, saying bye to Buddy through a text message that said, “See you in an hour.”

Normally it took Edgar a ten minute walk to get home from school, but he ran the whole way and made it in three minutes. Five minutes after the bell Edgar lay down on his bed, adjusting to the feel of the soft black helmet. He pulled a soft, silky mask down from the front of his helmet to cover his eyes, then pressed the “Start” button he held in his hand. Tingles trickled down his spine while a friendly female voice spoke into his ear. 

“Welcome to the AlterNet. You may feel random tingling throughout this orientation. That feeling is nanos attuning themselves to your body. If you feel noticeable discomfort or pain please remove the headset immediately.”  Edgar felt tingles in his eyeballs, then his vision brightened up. He knew his eyes were closed but he saw an endless field of golden wheat before him. The grains swayed in the wind. A beautiful young woman appeared in the field in front of him. She gestured at the field around them.

“This is a test lobby to help acclimate you to the Alternet. You should feel a breeze shortly.” A cool, breathy pressure flowed over his arms. He felt the same breeze that made the the grains bend over. 

“Whoa…” Edgar whispered to himself. 

“The AlterNet gives your consciousness access to an alternate Earth. When you connect, a body is formed from a swarm of nanos, and they are synced with the nanos now flowing through your body. Whatever these nanos experience is duplicated in your body, though there are safety features of course,” the woman explained. She walked forward and raised her hand towards Edgar’s face. She smiled at him and he leaned forward, though his body on the bed did not move. Her hand flew without warning and Edgar felt a sharp smack on the side of his cheek. 

“OW!” he yelled, and started rubbing his cheek.

“This is the current maximum pain threshhold. Would you like to modify it?” The woman asked. He almost said yes, but changed his mind. 

“*If that’s the maximum, then it’s not so bad. It’ll be more fun this way*,” he reasoned. 

“Would you like to see the list of 25 races and 25 classes, or have you already made a choice?” The guide asked. This is where he could save time. 

“I’ve already chosen,” Edgar said. “I want to be a faun bard.” 

“Faun bard selected. Are you sure? Please remember that this is a permanent decision. Due to the attunement process there is currently no way to change your character once choices are finalized,” she reminded him. Ever since Buddy explained why he couldn’t share the headset with him, Edgar thought long and hard about his permanent AlterNet avatar. 

“I’m sure. Faun bard.” The woman nodded.

“Would you like to maintain your current biological gender?” she asked. Edgar nodded. His vision went dark, the woman and the field disappeared, but her voice came through his ears.

“While the nanos in your body sync up with an AlterNet swarm we will begin the tutorial. The first lesson is communication.” Edgar felt a tingling sensation on his arm, and somehow his mind interpreted it as a message. 

[This is a Whisper. -Guide] 

“A Whisper is a text message sent through nanos. By default the sender’s name is appended at the end. The nanos in your physical body automatically transcribe the text to your mind as a thought. Security settings allow you to control who is able to Whisper to you. Now for the second lessson.” The guide held her hand out in front of herself and a grey steel longsword formed out of thin air.  

“Combat. Please remember that this will hurt.” She charged at Edgar.

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