“Whatever you do, don’t die.”
The words echoed in Rory’s brain as she stood outside the non-descript building, her new place of employment. She drew in a long breath, filling her lungs with oxygen. This often helped to calm her down. It was her first day reporting for duty after months of training.
The advice of her friend, Tinto, had been on her mind for days. She and Tinto had met playing video games together. What started as an online friendship had turned into a real life one when they met for the first time at a game conference. Rory had surprised everyone by winning the big competition, beating out a cadre of mostly male contenders, many of whom were more experienced than she was.
It was at that same conference the two of them were…noticed. It was well known in the gaming circuit that conferences were a good way to get recruited, if you were into that sort of thing. Rory was always undecided about how she would feel if she were to get recruited. She never really thought she had a chance of being noticed, so it wasn’t something she spent time thinking about. Tinto, however, dreamed of being recruited. He knew there were risks, but also the potential for big payoffs. Money that he could use to help support his family.
Tinto and Rory had been celebrating the big win when a friendly man, with a trim moustache and a thick, bush of dark brown hair approached them. Right away they knew what he wanted, to enlist them in the government’s digital war training program.
Information about the program was carefully controlled by the government. People that had gone into the program, many of whom came out again, were sworn to secrecy. There were rumors about what it was like and what happened when you fought a war virtual-reality (VR) style. But nobody on the outside knew for sure. The added mystery heightened Tinto’s curiosity making him eager to join, but it had the opposite effect on Rory.
She was cautious by nature, it’s what made her a gaming champion. She evaluated risks and options differently than Tinto, assessing before deciding.
In the end, Tinto signed up that day with the recruiter. Rory started the program a few months later, after careful consideration.
How did one prepare to fight a VR war? Rory would find out.