“What do you mean I am fired?!? We started this company together and struggled together for the last five years and you are telling me this?”
“Look James, I told you already this is all out of my hands… After we got acquired by Apex Corporation, they carefully tied our hands with multiple layers of contracts that we thought were just protection for the corporate secrets surrounding their VR tech.”
“Ha. You mean that you thought Kelvin. I TOLD you it can’t be that simple, I read the contracts thoroughly and found several loopholes and warned you but you ignored it anyway.”
“Yes, you are right alright. But you must admit it is still lucrative for us at the end of the day, I mean at the price they are buying you out, you earned about twelve million.”
“Tch, the money is great but I won’t stand for the reason for firing me… Just because some idiot manager think I’m not necessary because I don’t have a technical degree? That’s bullshit, I was the one who came up with most of intrusion measures and counters for them…”
“Look man, at least you can relax while I still need to slog away here under the damn corporate structure and dozens of useless rules they implemented. Besides, they are giving you one of the premium early access capsules for Ascension, so go and enjoy life bro… Don’t do anything stupid just because of one idiot.”
<Blackshield Inc. Office>
‘Grr... I can’t believe this bullshit. Kelvin won’t budge on telling me which idiot manager was responsible for the decision and immediately cut my employee access so I can’t even find out damn it. Tch, if I found out who that asshat is, I’m going to make his life difficult… If only I still had access, I can at least mess around in the systems to screw with his work, wipe all his damn emails, reroute, set in some automated codes to randomly change words in his outgoing mail to curse-words…’
Stalking out of the office preoccupied with his thoughts of exacting vengeance, James absentmindedly shoved the heavy main door open with his hand.
“HOLY SHIT.” The pretty receptionist jumped up from her workstation only to sweat-drop at the sight of an embarrassed James scratching his head and apologising awkwardly.
“Oh crap, oops… Sorry Belinda. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Ugh boss… Kelvin is bad enough with his absurd brute strength. Please refrain from breaking the office as well.”
“Heh roger, although you won’t have to worry about me anymore… Anyway see you!” Glancing back at the receptionist, James’ eyes widened slightly as he noticed the state of the door and he quickly hurried off.
‘Huh. Wonder what James meant by that parting statement… Anyway, I better inspect the damage this time. Luckily it can’t be as bad as the other time our gym-rat boss Kelvin broke the handle accidentally with his ridiculous muscles.’
Walking over, Belinda took a look at the damage and gasped. “Good Lord.”
‘He didn’t just break the handle… the marble tiles behind got cracked.’
< On a bus>
“Did you hear? The new game released, Ascension is a complete virtual reality! They say you have full control and can do anything in-game, not only that all the NPCs and even the monsters are supposedly intelligent AIs!”
“Yeah, I even heard that you aren’t restricted by classes and can learn any skills be it combat, crafting or whatever. They even said new skills can be created! I can’t wait to play it!”
“Guys, guys, you all are totally missing the most important part. Apex Corp said to incentivise players, they are giving out 10% of their shares to the first person who manages to ascend! That’s a huge amount of cash we are talking about! It is probably at least one billion dollars and they are definitely going to be worth much more after the launch of this game!”
Standing quietly in the crowded bus, James’ attention was dragged away from his schemes by last bit of gossip from the teens discussing Ascension with great fervour.
‘10%... Wait, that will be the ultimate way to get back at that asshat manager, that’ll be more than enough to get me on the board of directors and easily screw with that guy. Muhahaha-‘
“Hey move it chink, I need more space for my bag.”
James’ thoughts was broken by a burly student with a group of fellow jocks had been shuffling other kids around and knocked into him as well.
Glaring at him for the unwarranted insult, James controlled himself as he felt a surge of irritation rise especially with all the earlier anger he still had.
‘He’s just a stupid kid, there’s no need to waste my time. Just ignore him...’
“Heh, what you got a problem?” The kid looked James up and down derisively, deciding that he was an easy target to push around with James being a young half-Asian wearing a simple black t-shirt and jeans hanging somewhat loose on his slender, almost girlish figure. Looking like a geeky university student with his young looks, plain spectacles and an extremely pale complexion probably led the kid to decide he was just another student to push around despite being in his late twenties.
“Hey be careful man, he’s an Asian. Maybe he is some martial arts master! Heh, computer kungfu maybe!” Another of the jocks spoke up, mocking James and inciting the others to join in laughing.
‘Those damn kids. Too many witnesses to teach them a proper lesson… But maybe… Well it’s my stop next anyway.’
Pressing the alight button, James quietly shifted himself as though moving towards the exit and fleeing the students, allowing them to get in a last laugh as they jeered at him for running away.
Waiting for the bus to come to a jerking stop, James “stumbled” and fell hard onto the loudmouth jock who shoved him… elbow first and with so much force the student went crashing back into his group.
“Ah sorry!” With a quick insincere apology, James darted off the bus and strolled home.
‘Well, that should have bruised his kidney, kid will probably be pissing blood or vomiting later… too bad I couldn’t get the other guy. Ah well, looking at the way the kid fell into them, they’ll probably all be somewhat bruised.’
‘Time to get to work and gather concrete information about this game before the capsule arrives, considering the prize at stake, professional gamers will be gunning for it as well. I’ll need a good plan to quickly advance in the game and secure a head-start.’
Sitting down at his workstation with three different monitors lit up and displaying immense amount of information, James quickly worked his way through data from official releases, teaser videos, conference releases, play-testers’ reviews and even papers written about the VR technology and company reports about Apex Corporation.
‘Looks like the actual game details are sparse, from what I gathered all the usual MMORPG elements are used such as basic stats, races, classes, skills and levels. What is novel is the lack of a strict class system; any player can learn any skills without penalty but classes gives bonuses for class-related skills. Excellent, that means there are more likely to be exploitable cheese combinations! There isn’t enough data on the skills itself so I’ll have to wait till in-game to decide on my build but I did learn something very interesting about stats…’
Looking at the research paper in front of him, James focused on the segment about real-life skills being ported over into VR simulations and the postulations about VR skills being able to be ported back into real-life which will be invaluable for military or even medical skills. This was followed up by related topic on in-game balance for VR games requiring real life skills to be re-practised in VR but inevitably a faster acquisition rate will be guaranteed.
‘So I’ll definitely have a head-start in close combat, but I can’t rely on that especially in a fantasy setting, I’ll get screwed by some mobs with physical resistance or immunity. Given the lack of skill restrictions, I should at least get some basics for different types of elemental and magical damage, sharp and blunt physical damage as well as different ranges of attack… Can’t forget healing and regen either. Too bad, I can’t play my usual alpha strike glass canon build with the open-ness of the world not giving me enough info to min-max some cheese build. Oh well, I’ll just go with acquiring passives from skills to start with, hopefully I find some good stackable multipliers…’
Did some formatting edits as I realized all the spacings in my word doc disappeared when ported over. Thanks for the follows and comments! The next few chapters are already planned out and so hope you guys are looking forward to them :)