In The Beginning...

...There was VR.

Yo yo, it's ya gurl, Carthax_Report! That's Carthax like the dragon. Carthax Report, for when your car is dragon!

"VR For Every Human On Earth"

Back in 2018, a company called "Better Be Entertainment Group" created a VR headset. It was a smash hit, with a super cheap headset that used very little resources, and a "dream like" connection that let the brain's natural ability to fill in details do just that. The headset was super inexpensive, ultra low bandwidth, and natural enough that almost everyone could use it with no training whatsoever. Soon, everyone from home users to corporate big-wigs were using Better Be VR. It allowed unprecedented interaction over the internet - meetings could be held in VR, with people with no access to a headset able to join in by video. Virtual labs could be set up and scientists work together from the most remote of locations. Full VR cameras could be set up in any location and allow anyone to visit. Which, y'know, not all good. It looks like some early collaboration turned an already nasty virus into something absolutely terrible - the Coronavirus. It got accidentally released, and suddenly, everyone started getting sick. But hey, the world had VR, right? So people VR-commuted, and could still hug their friends, and could still shop at spotless clean stores, and the world moved on. Sure, there were lockdowns, and protests, and idiots, but most of the world just shrugged its collective shoulders and hopped into a quick VR chat with Grandma to complain. Who would want to go to Walmart if you could browse the aisles virtually?

Except for, y'know, people like us. We are "Essential Employees" - which means "Essentially Cheaper Than Hiring Some Guy Online". Warehouse workers, EMTs, all those jobs you can't do digitally, or at least can't do cheaper digitally. Yeah. Well, the good news is, if you're overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and overexposed, at least VR is cheap. A lot of businesses handed out headsets to their employees for "free" because it's cheaper than sending out a laptop, so everyone is online these days.

No clue why they
thought I was a guy

Anyway, that brings me to yesterday. I was talking to a couple friends who worked for Better Be, and suddenly, poof, they logged off, same time and everything. Turns out, they got fired. Right then. We had just been talking about some weird stuff going on, and then boom, they are out of work. One of them met me in person and said that if he said anything to anyone about what happened, he could get fired. Totally blacklisted in real life. Freakin' scary that a company can actually do that!

So, I'd made a few friends, and I miiiight have done some stalking and figured out who actually lived in Varten, so I pulled some strings and got them together. Cazeon, DapperDan, Kenny_the_Killer, and TheSurvivalist. We met at Julie's All-Night Diner (I got a PB&J - I have no idea how they do it, but the PB is so rich and thick and the jelly doesn't even soak into the bread, it's like a meal and a dessert in one - plus it's only like $4 for two sandwiches!), and re-introduced ourselves - they were surprised I wasn't a dude, even though they didn't say anything, I could totally tell. Oh, and Rosy might need a new spark plug or something because she's started making the loud EEEEE noise when I rev past 1k. Not like "replace the belt" but like "I built a Tesla coil then set it on fire" noises. "This is expensive" noises. "I hate vehicles" noises. Anyway.

Julie's All-Night Diner, ultimate fav, 5 stars!

Charles (not Chuck, not Chaz, not Charlie) the vet, Dave the night guard, Daryl the crazy Uber driver (he totally showed up with a Nintendo Power Glove. Mint condition. I was in awe), and OMG Kal the mechanic. He has a bunch of Instagram pics online but I thought they were Photoshopped but they are so not. Except he's like five feet tall.

AUTOMAT! This is why Julie's is the BOMB

So I introduced myself to everyone (again), "Hi, I'm Lex, super cool, bringing all the boys to my yard" (totally kidding, I was so freaked out I couldn't feel my fingers), then I introduced everyone to Luna15 through the app he built. I don't know why but his stuff is like scary secure - the guys were talking about VPNs and stuff but this guy's stuff is like Fort Knox on steroids inside a tank under a bunker. Crazy smart, but doesn't get out much. I think he might be disabled maybe? So I told my part about my friends, and Luna told his part about poking around the dark edges and finding some info. He sent me an address and a name: Sunny Acres Assisted Living Center, Shane Calhoon.

Me and the guys agree to meet there bright and early at like 10am, and I head home. I showed up a bit early, mostly to steel my nerves, because places like that creep me out. The guys showed up, and we went in to say hi to this Shane guy. He was super surprised we were all his cousins. Because only family can visit. Stupid virus. Anyway, he offered us some cooking - oatmeal raisin - which Charles handed off to his dog. Did I mention his dog? It's a Bermese Mountain Dog, which is not small. He brought it to the diner, it was crazy, the dog ate two hot dogs like they were M&Ms.

Yooooo it's Luna15

Shane talked about gaming with everyone - turns out, he used to be kinda a big deal. He started the Green Brigade with some of his friends, like OrcThanc and Nurse69. I don't even play Midsommer's Faire and I know those guys. Crazy! He pointed the guys to some neat secrets, like where Captain Scar's bandana is hidden (not telling where - but it's part of a set!), a secret area in Noir (can't wait to visit!!), and an easy-to-find magic item in MSF.

I asked a few more questions, especially about his injury - he can't play VR any more because of an injury he got at work, or at least that's what he says. He also says he was a lot smarter before the accident, and that he can't remember the accident at all - but he does remember the court case. Better Be Entertainment Group hired him some lawyers (plural!) and fought the chemical company Shane worked at, and got him a settlement, in court. Part of it was an NDA, though, so he couldn't say much more. He's pretty simple, but at least he's happy, right?

As we headed out, Charles and Dave accept some red jello, which frankly got me triggered - I ate a lot of jello when mom was in the hospital - and when some random guy started shouting at Charles, I booked it. He was yelling something about VR breaking his brain and making him violent, and demanding to know if they stole his "collectibles." I managed to fight off a panic attack but ohhhh boy was I not in a good place. Places like that are where people like my mom end up, chained to a bed and eating whatever came out of the blender today. Mom's not violent like that guy, just... tired all the time. It's not like the doctors can do anything for her.

So yeah, I made an excuse that I had to go shopping (haha, as if buying a loaf of bread, a cheap can of soup, and a can of mystery meat on markdown is "shopping"), and headed home.

The guys, with a rallying call of, "Introverts unite! Separately! In your own homes!" headed back to their places to do some gaming. Turns out Shane's info was correct - in the same place as the tutorial rats (you know, the cellar under the tavern), there was a secret area that you could only find after you leveled up a bit. Cazeon killed the first and second rats super easily, then he and Kenny and DapperDan took out this Rat King with a sneak attack. It sounded pretty gross, but also pretty cool - a Rat King is this bunch of rats that get their tails stuck together, and turn into this hive mind thing. It's got some pretty powerful magic, but no spells for you if you get ganked in the dark! They actually went and killed the Tutorial Rat, too, and got some sweet early-level loot - some rat tails, some coin, and a new quest, to collect 10 rat tails! Fancy!

The coolest part was the magic weapon, though - it's a +1 knife (no, seriously, that's pretty dang powerful) with three uses of an extra +2 damage for an entire battle. It's actually a little OP. If I played MSF, I'd be jealous. Oh, and they won free drinks at the tavern.

They headed off to see if they could find the buried treasure next - but I gotta sign off, those dailies aren't going to grind themselves! Oh and sorry about all the pics, I don't think there will be as many in future posts. We'll see.

Carthax_Report, signing off.