Entry Nickname: Making Boys Cry
Title: Virtual Rebel
Word count: 90,000
Genre: Science Fiction
The warrior. It's a title 18-year-old Kali Ling earned bringing men to their knees -- inside video games.
In 2054, fully-immersive virtual reality plugs a player directly inside a game, turning digital battle tournaments into a national sport. As an athletic avatar, Kali's living the high life: ultimate fame, zero consequences, and an endless supply of drugs, win or lose. Because really, nothing is worse than losing.
But when her teammate Nathan overdoses and Kali is named the new team captain, she's confronted with a concept called, ugh, being an adult. She finds guidance through her Chinese heritage, immersing herself in Asian philosophy and martial arts training with her team's latest recruit (whom she can't help picturing in nothing but a strategically placed controller). But just as she attains inner peace, the Virtual Gaming League erases Nathan from its database and whitewashes the truth behind his demise for the sake of ratings.
For ratings? Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong.
Furious, Kali swaps fame for fighting in his memory in the VGL's championship tournament. But the industry threatens to strip away everything she's become if she doesn't back down. As team captain, it's not just her future on the line. But if Kali can convince others to join her, together they could stand against an industry that cares more about its popularity than its athletes. This time it's game over. Permanently.
First 250 words:
This wouldn't be the first time I died. Sure as hell wouldn't be the last either. But while most watched this virtual world from the safe haven of reality, there was nowhere else I'd rather spend my Saturday night.
Crouched high on the tower's parapet, I overlooked a sea of wheat fields. The scent of lavender and the taste wheatgrass wove together in the air, drifting alongside the breeze that swept through my hair. I took a deep breath and smiled at the irony, as thick as the mountain air filling my lungs. Lavender. Wheat fields. Tranquility.
Peace, in a place anything but peaceful.
Movement in the fields caught my eye, down and right. A zigzag carved its way through the ten-foot tall stocks, heading straight for the tower. My smile widened. Maybe this sucker had the balls to take on Kali Ling.
I stilled inside. Even breaths. No fear. At the field's edge, the stocks trembled violently. The air filled with the rainstick rustling of brush and dry grass. Yes. Someone would emerge. I gripped the sword sheathed across my back and waited, muscles tight, mouth watering. Come on. Give me something. A brute. Six -- no -- seven feet tall, wielding a mace. Or an axe.
Give me anything.
A rabbit scurried out from the field. Nothing followed. The grass fluttered in the breeze. Birds chirped, nestled in the nearby sycamore trees. It was the rabbit, and only the rabbit.
I punched the parapet's brick wall, but instead of frustration, irony reverberated through me again.