The game had only lasted for an hour, unfortunately.
Jade stared down at her hands within the VR pod’s “desktop”, a sort of in-between space for when someone was in the VR pod but not actually in the game.
When Granduon had first put out the landing pad with the pods, it had just been a fairly blank-canvass room with the adjustable display for the menus, but with pressure from the public it had since grown into a fully customizable meeting point slash personal display slash artistic expression.
Hers, specifically, had at some point along the way changed from the dull gray box to a log cabin meets conspiracy board– the sub-menus were all on display at the same time, and the most effective way to move between them was to put a finger on the string connecting them, carrying the person touching it to the new subject, elsewhere on the wall.
She took advantage of the feature then to move to the “messages” part of the interface, moving up two stories in the cabin that expanded both upward and downward based on the needs of Granduon’s menus with their associated constant minor changes and messages she’d recently received.
This time it was fairly small though. Just another rejection of her counter-offer that she’d join someone’s team when they let her brother join as a starter, of course.
Or… that’s what it should have been.
That’s not what she was staring at at all, actually.
This one was… an offer for her to make her own team?
It took another few readings for her to notice the attachment.
The offer to sponsor her into Granduon’s tournaments wasn’t completely free, as she expected, but one of the orgs had decided, as one of its players retired, to form a subsidiary team+.
And that player had been the one who kept trying to pull her in, now given a chance to actually take her condition.
She just had to take a team to Nationals within the next year, and they’d pull her in.
Jade didn’t know exactly how to feel about the offer. She’d need to talk to her parents, of course. And Nathaniel too, given that she’d be asking him to join her.
And a support and ranger did not the backbone of a team make, usually. She’d somehow have to find people who were either not on teams or willing to join a complete unknown, and the only thing they’d know about the team they’d be joining was that it had a concentration-assassin ranger and a caster support.
Her head was in her hands before the dread washed over her completely, at least. Jade tried not to let the complete destruction of her confidence that had come with the realization of her circumstances drag her down too much.
It didn’t help.
Nationals had been last month. To make next year’s, a team would need to top eight at two Regionals, or top three at one.
To make a Regional, a team had to top three a Local, or top eight at two of them.
Locals, luckily, she knew she could seriously compete in. The issue was more with the fact that Regionals where held in each area once every three months, and there was no way she’d have a team together in time to manage it next month.
Which meant three real chances, of which they needed to get very close to winning at least one.
She imagined telling that to Nathan, then started laughing. She could just imagine the look on his face. A moment of incredulous shock, buried in under a second, then saying something ridiculous like “Well, we should probably start now, then.”
He was probably over half the reason that when her friend group had fallen apart last year, Rachel and Amanda deciding to get together and then breaking up in the messiest manner she’d ever seen outside a sitcom, that she hadn’t fallen apart with it.
Nothing she’d done could have matched up to that, and she was still a bit uncomfortable with moving past that, given that all the attempts she’d made so far had basically resulted in either her getting angry with herself for being too shy and taking that out on the unsuspecting people she was trying to talk to, or a group so boring that she wasn’t being shy, she just wasn’t at all interested in their conversation.
The latter was less of a problem in the long term, she knew, but at least the former felt like she was actually trying to do something instead of letting the world pass her by.
That last thought broke Jade out of her distraction, and she looked back at the information that she’d been sent.
Really, the biggest thing that she had to do was convince a good carry to join them. People were always looking at the carry damage rankings, and while there was essentially no variety in what they played, they were always highly competitive with each other, and people paid attention to it when someone moved up or down the charts.
That meant she’d have to learn to actually evaluate a carry, though, and she had absolutely no idea how to go about doing that. Luckily, Nathan could definitely do that.
She logged out, falling from the comfortable cabin into the hard metal of the VR pod.
It wasn’t literal falling, of course, but the feeling of it always made her jump strangely, landing back on the cushions as she fully came to.
Nathan thought it was just her being quick to be out, but it always made her heart jump in her chest in the most uncomfortable way and a need to get away from the landing point, a bit like walking after a hard landing less to get anywhere and more to convince yourself that you could.
This time, though, they’d started playing at different times, so as even as she walked over to his pod, she could see that he was still in a game. Forty-five minutes in, both teams missing all nine outer bases, with only their home circle remaining.
Fighting game, then. Good luck, Nathan,
Jade left the room, preparing herself for the conversation she’d need to have with her parents. That one would be a lot more difficult than the one with her brother.