Who: all Players. What: eScape! When: morning of Nov 11th Note: Backdated, narrative, plot opener.
The eScape was a virtual playground to end all others. It was like New York and Las Vegas had a baby rendered in multicolored lights. This was a virtual wonderland, with circular zones arranged around a large central hub, begging to be explored.
All around them were Player vs Player areas, classic MMO missions for the Avengers, and flight training and racing. Upgrade shops and engineering stations were available to those who wanted to try crafting.
For the more socially inclined, there were virtual housing areas to decorate. Virtual cafes and nightclubs dotted the area, where people could chat while accessing the memories of coffee, or even their favorite songs. It was like having the real thing, but not actually indulge. Memories were a singular personal experience. As such, any music and lyrics could only be heard by the individual that remembered it. That made it a great way to get around paying music royalties.
Nothing seedy was allowed. The ESRP oversight meant it was safe for teens. The training wheels were on this bike. The development team was the best in the biz, and they took Tony's vision and helped him run with it...along with his concerns that the game remained a friendly competition. Any griefing or sexual innuendo would be blocked by verbal or textual algorithms.
Sure, creating this wasn't exactly curing cancer? But he and Bruce made a major leap when they helped Jane. It was meant to be a fun respite from the daily grind. Nothing more, nothing less.
For Tony, it was also a challenge to see if it could be done. He reveled in doing things differently or the process of reinvention. If someone tasked him with building a better mousetrap? That guaranteed that it would be the Rolls Royce of mousetraps.
Not it was time to sell this to the test group, who were already fitted out in starter armor. He hit the thrusters to hover upward in his virtual armor, ready to address his friends and volunteer testers.
"Hey, everyone. Thanks for being here," he said. "Welcome to the eScape! The most integrated virtual reality experience in the world. If you aren't used to flying, I'm going to give you a few tips about the suits you're in. Then I'm cutting you loose to check out everything. Ok, so first, you're going to use the HUD to-to-toooooooooooooooo..."
Tony seemed frozen, both virtual body and voice stuck in place.
The lights went out, locking everyone into an ominous, all-pervasive silence.
After thirty seconds, the system switched back on. For each of the Avengers, or their friends, they were still riding their virtual bike. Only now, those training wheels had been ripped clean off while careening toward a cliff's edge.
They went over, plunging into their own minds. Utterly alone, with no way to stop what was happening.
Tony was inside his executive office. He was sprawled out on a couch with the VR mask on, the perfect picture of a deep sleep with a soundtrack of soft snoring.