Just to give a little context to this excerpt, Adam and Mike are attending an end-of-finals party in Virtual Reality (or Virtual Conferencing, as I refer to it) for an exclusive club called the Elitists. This picks up right after they arrive at HotSpot, a popular social networking “site” on the Mainframe. –ACE
Mike plopped himself down and leaned to Adam. “Stop making goo-goo eyes at her.”
“You’re drooling all over the table man.”
Adam tore his eyes from Vonya to glare at Mike. “You’re not funny.”
He held his hands up. “Just sayin’ you’re being really obvious about having the hots for Fynn’s girlfriend.”
“Shut up; you don’t know anything—”
An enormous sausage of a tentacle slammed into the table in front of Adam, nearly knocking over the whole table. He jolted and yelled, falling out of his chair. A large ruddy face peered at him from around his now vacated chair. One half of the face was encased in a network of wires and metal plating that whirred and blinked. “Haha whoopsie. Scared ya.”
“Watch it Arnold. You almost spilled my download.” The female avatar to Adam’s left scowled, clutching her glass and trying to steady the table at the same time.
“Oh, sorry. Hey anyway…brought you your faaavorite download A’dm. Right here for ya.” He jabbed at the table with the tip of his tentacle. The lone sucker on the end made a wet kissing sound as it attached and detached from the table. In his other hand, he gripped an empty glass tightly with all eight fingers and set it solidly on the table. Arnold released the glass, his eyes widening. The camera lenses creating his eye slid back and forth as he focused on the bottom of the glass. “Hey…where’d the Brin go?”
Regaining his feet, Adam straightened his jacket and tie, disgusted.
“Get lost Arnold. I’ll order my own drink.”
Arnold blinked, confused. He looked back down at the glass. “D’j’you drink all the Brin already?”
“No I didn’t, idiot. Why would I have a Brin when I could get a Page?” Heat rose in Adam’s chest. He turned to the rest of the avatars at the table. “Who let him get overloaded? He shouldn’t be overloaded.”
“Calm down man. He’s only trying to help—” Mike tried pulling Adam back into his chair. Adam ignored him.
“Why do we even keep him around?” He jerked his thumb at the blinking cyborg-octopus.
“For the same reason we keep you around—he’s a genius,” Fynn interjected. “Now get a hold on yourself and sit down. You too Arnold.”
Fynn steepled his fingers for a moment, waiting. Adam slowly sank into his chair, still fuming. As soon as Arnold made his way back to his own chair, Fynn spread his arms wide. “Now that’s settled we can get started. As you all are very well aware, we have reached the end of another testing cycle. Tomorrow you will all receive your scores, and for those graduating, the statistics that will carry you to graduate level and decide your career. As such, each one of these contains 1,000 credits to spend as you like.” Fynn put a thumb and forefinger together then drew them apart. A gold card embellished with purple and black lettering grew between his fingers, rotating in the air a moment before descending into Fynn’s open palm. He pinched the back of the card, pulling up and the card duplicated to fill the space. “Keep in mind they expire at the end of your V-Con session and that Commencement starts at 10.00 hours sharp for Graduates.”
With a flick to the rear of the stack, the cards zipped to each avatar surrounding the table. Adam snatched his out of the air, pulling his suit sleeve up in a swift movement and placed the card on the underside of his wrist. He watched the card liquefy and sink into his skin. A faint tingle spread through his forearm as the credits loaded onto his signature; he heard the sound of children yelling “Hooray!” and a bright purple “+1,000 C” exploded off his wrist in bubble letters, spraying the table with confetti. Adam’s hands shook, fingers aching as he pulled down his sleeve.
A chat notification appeared on his screen; Adam smiled as he read it.
Vonya: Meet you in Sector 12 at 22.00. Come alone 🙂 21.20.00 hrs.
Before he could reply, Mike slapped Adam on the back, almost knocking his forehead into the table. “Come on Adam; let’s catch a round of Code Bender in that arcade over there.”
“Don’t touch me.” Adam growled.
“Lighten up already.”
Adam took a deep breath and followed Mike out of the privacy bubble into the chaos of the club, formulating a plan to lose him.