Chapter 001
First but Last?

“I will now pass the mic over to the CEO of SID Tec, Mr. Edward Sid Torren.”

“Thank you, as you all likely know the fantasy life online world also known as Flow is one of the first major full dive virtual reality games promising to truly take the potential of the full immersion V.R system to its limits and beyond, we at SID Tec are thrilled to bring you the live announcing of our year long competition, one year ago when we first announced our competition I was unsure as to how it would be received to be honest, at the time the quality of the V.R games available were suffice to say barely touching on what V.R technology promised it would bring. But after we got some of our beta stage videos out we were bombarded with interest as well as applications to our competition.”

The man at the podium pauses for a moment to take a drink and clear his throat before continuing.

“As you know in just a moment five lucky people will win our custom made V.R helmet, made specially with the comfort of our winners in mind with extra padding and neck support, our winners will be able to play longer and harder without having to worry about getting up with a neck cramp as was the case with the early models that were available when the helmets were first released. Each helmet is also signed by all the staff here at SID Tec, wishing our winners the best of luck and grand adventures in the world we’ve created.”

From the side of the stage a women in a sparkling black low cut dress walks up to the man and hands him a small stack of envelops before then taking a step towards the backdrop.

“Now before I read out our winners I feel there is something I should clarify, as you know six months after the competitions announcement we released information that the prize was not only the helmet and two years free subscription to Flow, but that our winners would also receive the option to take up one of five one of a kind character classes to play, this caused a lot of anger on the forums and so I will tell you now, while yes, these classes are one of a kind and hold unique skills and events that only they will receive, however each class still has its drawbacks, we’ve paid close attention to making sure each one stays balanced, if compared to classes that are available they will be on equal footing with the highest ranked hidden classes, and just like the hidden classes in Flow our winners will have to learn the secrets of their class themselves.” The man gives a grin.

“Now then, the moment you’ve been waiting for, for this completion we had our applicants fill out a number of questions as well as give us a small story about their lives and why they think they deserve to win, needless to say we had a very hard time sorting through so many applications but in the end we knew only five could win and so here they are, starting from our fifth place winner…”

The crowd is silent as the man opens the envelope and leans towards the microphone.

“In fifth place is Michal Darion.” There is only silence as the man opens each envelope and calls out each name.

“In fourth place, Lisa Everet… In third place, Henry Wicker…. In second place…”

In a small room surrounded by white walls a young boy looking no more than eleven or twelve years old sat up in his bed with his eyes glued to the TV as names were called out one after the other, beside him were several nurses and a doctor who also watched the TV with breaths held.

“In second place, Sera Loris.”

The boy let out a defeated sigh and flopped back onto the hospital bed, the nurses and doctor looking to him with sad but soft smiles, the nurse sitting beside him took his hand gently “Don’t worry Ren, you’re still going to get one anyway even without winning one of those.” Ren smiled to her, that soft smile and eyes that had been filled with hope just moments ago though were now crestfallen almost brought her to tears “Awww, come here Ren honey.” She leaned over the bed and gave him a big hug which caused him to blush, she always seemed to enjoy pressing her large bust against him when she hugged him, all the nurses did though to.

“..Haddon, so once again our five lucky winners are, Michal Darion, Lisa Everet, Henry Wicker, Sera Loris and Ren Haddon. My most heartfelt congratulations goes out to all of you and I very much look forward to seeing what you accomplish in game.” The man then stepped down from the stage, disappearing from view despite the sudden onslaught from reporters asking questions.

Ren was now staring at the TV with a stunned expression, as was the nurse that clung to him “I… I won?...” He blinked several times as the information began to register in his mind “I won… I WON!?!?” He jumped up and hugged the nurse closest to him tight “I won I won I won I won!” The nurses and doctor had never seen him so thrilled before but as happy as the doctor was for him he was concerned.

“Ren you need to calm down before…”

His warning was to late though, Ren fell into a sudden coughing fit and collapsed onto the bed, flecks of blood coating the sheets as he coughed into them beyond his control and then passed out.

“REN!!” the two nurses and doctor called out at the same time.

A whole two weeks had passed before the young boy finally regained consciousness and slowly sat up in his bed, what had happened wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, he looked around the room and shakily he slipped from the bed to make his way to the bathroom, plucking various monitoring patches from his body in the process, after reliving himself he stopped in front of the mirror and stared at himself, looking back at him was a boy that looked not much older than eleven or twelve years old, to sum up his looks in one word would be ‘cute’ short light blond hair covered his head and a pair of silvery blue eyes peered back at him from the reflection as he let out a sigh.

“You have to control yourself more Ren, you're seventeen but still act like a little kid…” He sighed again and headed back to his bed slowly and crawled back under the sheets to sleep a bit more knowing the nurses would check on him soon enough and seeing he’d taken the monitor pads off would know he woke up and prepare something to eat for him.

Down the hall a doctor was on the phone to the secretary of the CEO of SID Tec. “Yes, we’ve received the package but as I’ve already explained he can’t login yet due to medical reasons, you’ll just have to let the others pick and leave him with the last one, it’s unfortunate but I don’t think he’ll be to upset about it, he’s an understanding child…. Yes…yes that’s fine, once he wakes and we feel he’s ready I’ll give you a call when he’s about to login… yes.. thank you.” The doctor hands up the phone and sighs “Poor kid, I wonder how he’ll take the news...”

Ren laid in bed asleep, his body though would twitch every so often, his brow furrowed as he dreamed of the past, the past he desperately wished to forget but it would never let him. Images of his abusive parents flashed through his mind, large needles waved before him as they injected him with god only knows what kind of drugs which in the end caused his growth to stop and left his body weakened to point of near death until a drug raid by the police finally freed him from that hell. But always he would have dreams about his parents waving needles in front of him and needless to say he had an extreme fear of needles now.

He awoke in a cold sweat, eyes wide and darting around the room which quickly fell upon the nurse that stood at his side with a worried look on her face “Another dream Ren?”

Ren gave a light nod to which he received a gentle hug from the nurse “You're ok now honey, your safe here.” The nurse ruffled his hair lightly and smiled to him “Think you can get something down?” Ren just smiled and nodded, the nurse then pulling over a tray of food and sat there watching as he ate.

Just as he was finishing the doctor walked in and smiled seeing Ren awake “Ren, glad to see you with us again.” He had the nurse shuffle aside so he could take a seat beside Ren “I’ve got some good news and bad news for you though Ren. The good news is that a few days ago we received your V.R helmet.” Rens eyes lit up like fireworks at this causing the doctor to chuckle “Now now, calm down, the bad news I’m afraid is that we can’t let you login just yet, I’ve already contacted SID Tec and they understand the situation, if you can go a week without a relapse then I’ll let you login ok?”

Ren nodded, he knew well enough that he didn’t have a choice but also that it was for his own well being.”Good boy.” The doctor smiled but then sighed “There’s one other thing as well, though you won first place SID Tec couldn’t hold off on letting the other winners pick their classes, the date for the class selections was yesterday.”

It didn’t take long for Ren to comprehend the doctors words “It's ok, I understand, I couldn’t ask the others to wait a week till I recover.” He grins “I bet I’ve been left with some weird class but I’ll show them it’s the best out of the lot.”

The doctor chuckled and ruffled Ren’s hair (Everyone seems to enjoy doing that to him) “Well then we’ll have to get things setup in here so you can go kick some butt in another world even if you came first but last.”


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