Title: MISSION X
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Word Count: 73,000
My Main Character’s Most Fearsome Obsession is:
Xander’s most fearsome obsession is gaming, and he prefers to do it solo. Interacting with programmed, human-like game pieces is painful enough, but any social gatherings with other gamers require too much concentration for him to navigate. Xander prefers to get lost inside the virtual world, jumping from rooftops and speeding down highways on his Ducati. For Xander, winning is all that matters, and inside the game, he’s invincible and free. Too bad the programmers have other plans.
Eighteen-year-old Xander is an assassin, only he doesn’t know it. Raised in a virtual game world, he’s been trained in a range of skills, from hacking TSA security to shooting a president mid speech, in exchange for food and necessities. Except the bullets are real, as are the game pieces Xander is ordered to destroy.
Xander never considered leaving the game, but when he’s sent to the final level—an elimination-based scavenger hunt that will take him from Kyoto to Dubai—he learns the grand prize is entry into the real world, while the losers are stuck in the game forever.
The twelve players are forced into partnerships, and Xander gets paired with Akemi, the girl with a half-shaved head and piercings sharper than her attitude. But what really scares him is how easily she can stab another player while claiming she’s setting him free. In this final round there are no reboots, and Xander knows once you die, there’s no coming back. Xander wants nothing more than to stay alive and finish the mission—with or without Akemi. But when the programmers rig the level to make them fall behind, Xander wonders if Akemi is the one he should trust, or if she’s going to cost him his ticket to freedom.
Adrenaline pulses through my hands when I reach my checkpoint, but I shake the nerves away and slide into the Hummer limo. As soon as I’m situated, my retinal implant illuminates with instructions for three point six seconds.
FIND AND ASSASSINATE TARGET: Charles Hinder, CEO of 1337 Inc.
REWARD: 10,000 EUROS
CURRENT LIFE: ❤❤❤❤❤
THE CONTRACTORS THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. YOU HAVE 48 HOURS TO COMPLETE YOUR ASSIGNMENT.
I get to kill the CEO of one of the largest corporations in the Alliance?
Cars whir past, but the bulletproof frame blocks out their sounds, creating my own little haven. There’s something delicious about the silence, how my thoughts cram the void, with no interruptions to snub them out.
The partition window illuminates, and a manila folder containing assignment details blinks in the center. With two levels left of Assassinate, I better get started. I perform my counting ritual, a mélange of languages, to channel my focus.
Whahad, deux, drei, chetyre, cinque. Ready.
A side door slides open, and Akemí, another player, pokes her head in. My shroud of silence vanishes, and heat flashes through me.
“Hey Xander. Got any tech I can borrow?”
Does she really have the nerve to interrupt my mission? “Get out.” I push her half-shaved head away, but she bobs back in like a prairie dog.
“Please? Need to make a hack. My tablet just suffered death by drowning, and the Contractors are gonna have my ass if I reboot again.”