Champions of Andartha (A VRMMO/MOBA Story)
September 1, 2031
Ring* Ring* Ring*
I woke up at the sound of my phone alarm ringing. I reach out to the small table beside my bed where I usually put it. It's still too early, I have 2 hours before my class. I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep.
*A couple of minutes later
My phone rang again albeit with a different tune.
"What is it this time." I pondered irritably
Bleary-eyed, I took a look at my phone. I reflexively straightened my back when I saw my mom calling. She's probably checking to see if I'm already awake. If I don't answer this, she will think I'm still asleep and get the scolding of my life the next time we meet.
I answered the call.
"Honey, have you already prepared for school? It's your first day at the university and I'm gonna be mad if you're late again." She inquired.
"I-I'm almost done"
Shit, my dry and croaking voice probably gave away that I had just woken up.
"Katherine Katyusha, if you don’t get out of your bed this instant, ill halve the allowance I’m sending you." She said in a cold and intimidating voice.
How was she even so sure that I'm lying! She even used my whole name, sending chills down my spine. I instantly hopped out of my bed.
"I’m already awake! Let’s not be too hasty mom." I said placatingly.
"Honestly, you should grow out of your habit of staying up late at night. It’s your first day in your college and you would’ve been late if I didn’t wake you up again. I worry about you living alone in that apartment." She said worriedly.
"I'm fine now Mom I'm old enough to handle myself. I'm gonna get ready for school now. Bye! Love ya!" I said quickly.
I hung up immediately so that she would not transition her call to an hour-long scolding, which in turn would definitely make me late for my first class.
After my morning stretches, I took a quick shower to get my blood running.
Then after drying with a towel, I positioned myself in front of the mirror to get changed into my attire.
In front of me is a 5'⁹ tall black-haired girl. Ocean blue pearls encased in a sharp eye, white skin due to lack of sunlight, marble-like nose, and mature looks with a fit body shape and moderate breasts.
After dressing up in my casual wear and brushing my shoulder-length black hair to look more presentable, I went to the mini kitchen in my apartment and prepared breakfast. Bacon and eggs were the obvious choice, easy to make and satisfying to eat.
I placed the meal I cooked in front of the dining table and called out in a moderately audible voice.
The television which was prompted by my voice command turned on. Technology nowadays is more convenient than ever, I thought as I watch. The channel seems to be focused on news and current events. Since I currently don't have anything I want to watch, I ate while listening to the newscaster's voice.
"In other news, the prize pool for the popular VR MMORPG Champions of Andartha's Andartha Cup was revealed. It has yet again surpassed the record for the highest prize pool in a single tournament in the history of e-sports. The current prize pool is a whopping 47 million dollars for the whole tournament!" The newscaster exclaimed.
"They outdid their selves again huh," I murmured.
Nowadays, the rising popularity of e-sports made it comparable to normal conventional sports. It is not that unusual to see it being headlined in the news, especially those tournaments with a huge prize pool. Compared to being debated as a 'real' sport back then, it is a major improvement for gaming fans alike.
"But that has nothing to do with me."
After finishing my breakfast, I put the plates and utensils in the sink for me to wash later. I brushed my teeth and did my final preparations before going out the door and pressing the button on the elevator in the hallway. I am currently on the 8th floor of the building so walking down would be quite tiring. After waiting for a while, the elevator opened revealing 4 people riding it. It is a little bit cramped but what can you do, it is a busy morning after all so the majority of people go to work or school this time of the day.
"Excuse me," I said politely as I entered the elevator.
As the elevator door shut, I waited for it to arrive on the ground floor while trying my best not to yawn.
After arriving at the ground floor, walk briskly to the exit of the high-rise apartment complex passing by the guard who voiced a quick morning greeting (to whom I nodded in acknowledgment), I walk into the underground station just around the corner of the street.
A part of why my parents decided to pick the apartment complex was that it was well-guarded and close to the train station on a crime-free street. They're quite overprotective I know, but every parent who cares for their child's wellbeing is the same.
There are many people in the station due to the rush hour but thankfully it is offset by the fact that there are more than 10 payment terminals. I flashed my phone and it scanned instantly prompting a confirmation in deducting money from my account.
I don't carry any wallets since it has become obsolete nowadays due to the ease of payments using e-wallets. It's also harder to steal your money as it needs confirmation from you.......... unless they cut off your finger and brutally torture you to use your voice to bypass security.
Just as I bypass the terminal onto the railway, I hear the bullet train fast approaching. I rode the semi-crowded train while pondering what the first day of my college life has in store for me.
After arriving at the train station stop and walking a few meters, I arrived at the front gate building of Summit Peak University whose name is plastered into its gate building in a mix of blue and gold colors. In my previous visits here for my enrollment and my entrance exam, I know that the university has 4 main buildings. First is the one in front of me, the gate building. It mainly accommodates visiting guests and checks if students have the proper authorization to be let in. The security team of the university is also stationed here. Second is the east building where I'm supposed to head right now for my first class. The third is the north building (Also known as the main building) which houses most of the clubs and other important facilities. Last is the west building where I also have some of my classes for later.
I nervously walk as I entered the gate building among the many students who is also heading in the same direction I was. I was promptly stopped by the scanner wherein I flashed my id card to gain entry. Inside there are plenty of security officers roaming around whom politely greeted students as they enter. I reciprocated the ones who greeted me as I headed for the exit onto the east building. As I exit the gate building, I passed the beautiful park-like courtyard of the university and saw many students who are sitting on benches and relaxing under the red oak tree. I kind of envy them since I too would wish to spend my time here if I didn't have my first class to attend.
I arrived at the east building while taking in the scenery and slowly headed towards the classroom I am assigned to. My social anxiety started to kick in. I was a bit nervous and apprehensive as I stopped a few meters away from the door of the room. I saw other students walk inside and composed myself to do the same.
After a short while, I took a deep breath and mustered my courage as I entered the door. What greeted me inside was a large room with seats connected in a curvature elevated with each row for an easier view of the back rows. There were more than 20 students as far as I can tell and most of them just keep to themselves save for a few who probably knew each other beforehand. In the middle of it all was the teacher's podium with a large screen as tall as me at the back it's back. I saw an empty seat at the farthest back corner and tried to make myself look as small as possible while silently walking past the other seats to arrive at my goal all the while ignoring the curious stares I received.
I sighed in relief as I got seated on the farthest row of the classroom. I immediately brought up my school-issued tablet and very carefully attached it to the table. The tablet was still school property unlike my tablet and phone so it would be very bad if I damage it. Aside from paying the fine, it would be quite embarrassing to explain my clumsiness. It fit quite well with a satisfying clink on the metal-like structure for its intended purpose. As I finished my preparations, I overhear some of my classmates talking to each other.
"I heard from my sister who studies here that our professor in this class is kind and considerate." Came from a male voice.
"For real? I hope so, I'm kinda scared, to be honest. It would be a huge relief if our teachers aren't super strict. For real!" A high-pitched female voice responded.
I'd be more relieved if you could just speak normally, for real.
Though to be honest, I am also quite glad that I'm not the only one apprehensive about the class. Misery loves company, I guess.
"Have you watched the game yesterday between RG and Eclipse?" A boisterous voice said.
"Of course, you know I'm a big Zetta fan, I wouldn't miss a single one of his matches." A cheerful female voice chimed in.
Zetta is a name I haven't heard for quite a while. The mention of it made me do a quick look at the one talking.
As I turned to look at the source of the voice, I saw a blonde girl with a bubbly disposition. She had a pretty-looking face, more on the cute side than beautiful but pleasing to the eye nonetheless. One distinctive feature that I immediately noticed is her breast which looks like it is constrained in her casual t-shirt and skirt wear. God it's huge, does she ever have back pain in those?
"Hmph, I can beat that guy if we ever have a 1v1 match without set advantages." The boy said smugly.
He was a lanky boy with sharp facial features and brown hair with a faded cut. He has an air of arrogance and confidence around him. He gives off an aura of someone who is prideful and hates to lose. I'm probably wrong but that is just the impression I get from looking at him.
"If you can't even win against me in a 1v1 fight, how can you expect to win against any pro? And Zetta no less?" the girl defended her idol.
"I was just holding back because you're a girl! If I got serious, you won't stand a chance." The guy bit back.
"Again with your excuses! Just admit I'm better than you!"
I get that trash-talking is a part of playing competitive games, even more so between close friends but pick the right place and the right time for Pete’s sake. You guys are garnering stares you know, I feel a second-hand embarrassment just by looking at you two.
Thankfully the professor arrived halting their bickering. No, wait! not 'thankfully', I haven't mentally prepared myself yet! I blame these two for this.
Having not even the slightest idea of my internal plight, the professor confidently walked to the center. He is tall, cleanly shaven, and has short-cut dark hair. He is probably in his mid-thirties judging by his mature looks which are enunciated by his black suit and tie. He proceeds to prepare his things while completely ignoring the class as if it were a daily occurrence, which to be fair, it probably is. That went on for a while and no one in the room dares to even utter a single word. As the silence was becoming unbearable for me, the professor suddenly voiced out for the very first time since he entered.
"Good morning, everyone. I will be your World History A010 instructor, I am Mr. Abel Jones or you may simply refer to me as Mr. Jones“ He said in a loud clear voice all the while his whole name flashed on the large screen at his back.
The whole class responded to his greeting though not in unison and with different audibility.
"Before anything else, I have only one house rule you must follow during my class, and that is not to interrupt me while I am teaching," He said commandingly.
"I do not care if you do not listen as long as you pass the practical and exam but do not spoil it for those who are willing to learn. Do I make myself clear?" He said in a loud, intimidating voice.
A resounding 'Yes sir' came from the whole class.
"Good, as long as you follow that simple rule, we will get along just fine. Moving on, first on the list is attendance. Please verify your attendance"
At his cue, a verification screen was prompted into the student-issued tablet. It was a form of attendance and very efficient at that. All you have to do is to verify your thumbprint on the tablet and you will be marked as present for the given class. It beats having to roll call every time since it is time efficient and cheat free……Unless you cut off your classmate's finger and bring it to class for his or her attendance....... what the heck is wrong with me with these grim thoughts just randomly popping out of nowhere today.
"So, everyone is present except for..... 'Mr. Harison Walker'?" He said as if expecting the Harison guy to interject, but no voice came.
"Now to start your very first day of my class, ill pair you into groups of two." He said as the screen behind him showed the whole class's Ids in pairs of two.
I took a look at the face (taken from our id) and name I am paired with and realization dawned on me. It was a picture of the blonde girl from before who was arguing with the boisterous guy. I took a look at the girl, Elizabeth Miles. For a moment she seemed to be searching for her pair but when our eyes met, she flashed me a dazzling smile. I nod in acknowledgment and instantly took my eyes off her pretending to listen to the professor in an attempt to hide my diffidence.
"These groups are randomly computer generated so there are no biases. What I would like you to do for today is to write a biography about the student you are paired with. It will serve as a practice for writing an autobiography about yourself for one of your later projects. You will send it to me at our next meeting via your class tablet. Keep it short for now, just a general summary biography of about 250 to 500 words. Do note that you will be graded individually. Any questions?"
A girl in the front raised her hand, it is hard to see her features from here but she seems nervous.
"Uhm.... my pair is absent." The girl said in an almost inaudible voice.
"Oh, I forgot about Mr. Walker. You join another group for now." He pressed something on the podium and one of the pairs became a group of three. "The three of you decide on who writes about whom. Any other questions?"
After a short while of silence, he continued.
"Okay, you may begin, move to your pairs as you wish." He said as he took an old-fashioned copy of a book (something you rarely see nowadays) from his bag and started to read, leaving us to our own devices.
What that guy said earlier about the professor seems true. While he may be intimidating at first glance, he probably paired us in consideration of those who have no acquaintances yet in this class to make friends. Like me for example...... How depressing.
As I was ruminating about our professor's actions, I heard someone call out to me.
"Katherine Katyusha, right?"
Came a polite sound from the girl who was supposed to be my pair. Okay, Kat doesn't screw this up, better make the best impression you possibly can.
"Elizabeth Miles, I presume?" I gave her a polite smile
'I presume' my ass! Now I sound like a stuck-up honor student. God, I'm not used to interacting with other people.
"You can just call me Elizabeth, or Liz for short"
I nodded not knowing how to respond to her straightforwardness.
"Ohh are you Russian? I mean your surname sounds like one."
Is she doing the activity thing already? Probably not judging by her demeanor. I think she is just genuinely curious.
"My father is half Russian and half American but my mother is pure American so..... that makes me a quarter Russian I guess."
"Ohh really!" She said excitedly
Where do your folks live?
"I came from a town called Ardmore just west of this city so, I'm new here to the city so I don't have that many acquaintances."
None at all in fact besides my aunt, but let's not tell her that.
"Ohh I grew up here in Philadelphia so you can ask me anything you'd like to know!"
"I'll keep that in mind. But first, let's continue while we write the information. It would be bad if we forget what we will write in the biography."
"O-ohh...... I uhmm... almost forgot about that." She said apologetically while looking sheepishly at me.
Thought so, she's not writing anything and I doubt she has a perfect memory.
Our conversation continued while writing the important points. It was surprisingly easy to talk to her with her leading the conversation of course. When it came to hobbies, she became much more energetic and expressive than she usually was (which is a lot). She talks about her being a streamer of the game Champions of Andartha. A game I am very familiar with.
Champions of Andartha or commonly called CoA by its players. It was the most successful game that came out when the new technology full immersion virtual reality pod was in its initial stages of becoming well renowned. It has drastically risen in popularity along with the full immersion VR with a current player base of over 870 million and rising, according to the article I read. It is mainly due to its competitive scene that garnered a lot of attention for potential players and the like. It was out for almost 4 years but every year the player base keeps increasing or so they say. Its biggest event, the Andartha Cup, a yearly tournament held every late November has the largest prize pool in the history of esports and is also integral to its popularity. Being a champion in that tournament can set you up for a lifetime of luxurious living, except for the first tournament though.
"How about you? What are your hobbies?" she asked curiously.
"I uhh..... play VR games too. Mostly single-player ones".
"Ohh! You should try playing Champions of Andartha! It's very fun especially when you play PVP with a team!" She voiced out loud getting a few stares from our surroundings.
"I..... already played it," I said in a subdued voice, prompting her to keep it down.
"Really!? What's your ign? What level and what role are you specialized in?" She said excitedly, akin to a child finding a playmate for the very first time.
"It's not my account though, I just used someone else." I half told the truth.
Memories of my sister flashed by. My heart sank while bile began to escape from my throat.
Not here not now Kat. Hold it in. Do it only when you're alone.
"Ohh sorry! I didn't hear you, I was lost in thought. What was it again?"
"I said, my friends and I scheduled a friendly match later with the local VR cafe players. Wanna come with me later? Pleeeeaasssee?" She begged cutely making me want to accept it there and then.
VR cafes huh, never been into one but I heard it became commonplace after the rise in popularity of the VR pod. The news I read said that it will experience a boom just like those PC cafes back in the day, though I was probably a baby back then.
I pondered my choices for a second. A voice inside me wants to spend more time with Liz, while another, the logical part of me doesn't want to go.
"I told you, I don’t have an account." I made up an excuse, mostly for myself than for refusing her.
She smiled a bit smugly.
"I have another account that I don't use that much anymore. Max leveled at that. If you come with me later, I promise that you can use it anytime you like.
Very tempting. To think she'd go that far, basically almost giving me free use of an account just to spend time with me makes me feel guilty even thinking about rejecting her.
"I'll think about it," I said neutrally.
She pouted but I ignored it.
"But right now, let's focus on the activity." I forcefully changed the subject.
We talked a lot sharing most of the things we are both comfortable with sharing like our courses and such. I mostly avoid the topics about my family and thankfully she doesn't pry either. I also found out that aside from being a streamer, she is also the guild leader of Concord of Heroes'. It doesn't ring a bell, though to be fair, I'm not up to date with the current popular guilds. She is adamant about only recruiting members that she knows personally, a big reason why she wants me to play with them later and also to join her guild. Time flies as we talked and listened to things about each other and pondered what we are going to write in the bio. She is surprisingly fun and easy to talk to, even for an introvert like me.
Our teacher suddenly interrupted the whole class, prompting both of our thoughts back to the present.
"As the time is up, those of you who are not yet finished may continue even after our class if you wish. Just be sure to pass the bio of your partner on to our next meeting on Wednesday. That is it for today. Class dismissed." He left the class as eye-catching as he entered.
Elizabeth and I both looked at each other.
"Time sure flies when you’re having fun huh." She said as she smiled.
I smiled back affirmingly.
"Ohh. you got any more questions for me?" She suddenly asked.
"I'm all good, I can work with what I have. You?"
"Hmmm.... I do actually," she said as she smiled mischievously. "Soooo.....about the PVP game later, you’ll come with, right?" She asked hopefully.
"Fine, fine" I conceded.
I’ll just make an excuse if I actually can’t play it later but ill lay it aside for now and let the future me handle it.
"See you later then!" she waved as she headed for her next class, which is disappointingly not the same as mine.