There was absolutely nothing like the feeling of rolling over into the pod - which was so proto that it even had bits of duct tape glinting dull silver in the light of the room - and settling her head into the cradle for the first time. She had been working on this for ages, all of them had. Some had been writing the program, some debugging, some working on the physical aspects and hookups, and some working on conceptualization. They all had their roles. She was a little bit new to the company and not very established. Sometimes she felt like a complete newcomer, even though she had been working like the rest of them in the field for a while now. She was excited to be in on this project, whatever the case.
Perhaps she imagined it, but she thought she felt a tingle as she let her head rest in the cradle for the first time. Nothing more than what might have been static electricity, a little zing on the back of her neck. It could be that the room was kept at low humidity, to keep the machinery running properly. Humidity could wreak havoc on the complicated equipment, almost as much as heat could. The room was cold, at that, but she had dressed for it. She had worn faded jeans and a long-sleeved shirt underneath a button-down blouse, and she'd snagged a pair of terrycloth ballet-style slippers to keep her toes from freezing. Didn't want to wear her shoes in the pod, but didn't want to wake up with frozen toesies. Her chin-length hair tickled the back of her neck as she settled her head into place. One might have expected a morass of electrodes and wires inside the pods, but all of that was built into the carefully cushioned cradle. Electromagnetism didn't exactly need contact to work. She had heard that the company had even brought in a quantums specialist at one point, a real mad science type, to make sure the fields wouldn't scramble anyone's brain.
Clearly that had not worked with poor James over there.
There was a low hum as the pod activated, and she had to force herself to lay back instead of sit up and look around at everyone else. It wouldn't work unless she let it, and she wasn't about to miss this for the world. The feeling of vertigo made Trieste's stomach flip, like the first hill of a roller coaster. Her eyes flickered, open but sightless under the dim glow of the interface, and slowly she sank back into the feeling of falling. It was disorienting and thrilling all at once. It's almost like being born.
They had talked about what kind of world to create for themselves, going around and around with different ideas. Trieste had thought the whole 'matrix city' thing was somewhat overdone but she had been outvoted. She expected to see some sort of random Zion lookalike. The reality of it was far, far more spectacular. The first thing that blinked into existence was not, as expected, the floor. Instead, it was a massive picture window in front of her. From moment to moment, more things blinked in: furniture, a marble fireplace with a high, merry flame in it. Elegant artwork on the walls. Soft classical music wafting through the air. The scent from the bouquet of lilies on the mantle. Her bobbed hair and pale skin all but glowed in the light from the fireplace, the heatless flames dancing off of the synthetic surface of her formfitting clothes. She was aware of none of it. The city before her was sparkling
It was night, of course, and she stood in a tower of her own that scraped the sky. The massive window went from floor to ceiling, giving her the illusion of a sea of diamonds laid out at her feet. They even glinted and twinkled; she was high enough that the occasional cloud, invisible in the night sky, passed between her and the buildings below. This must be what Queens of past ages felt like, looking out over their demesne. Trieste's gloved hands slowly crept up until her palms were pressing on the glass pane, her fingers hardly hardly casting a shadow against the expansive vista before her.
It was not a night for romping, at least not yet. It was a night for tasting, savoring, sampling the fine things around her. Trieste poured herself a glass of wine, relishing the exquisite crystal that seemed as if it would break if she looked at it too harshly. She didn't know what a two hundred year old wine tasted like, but the nigh-on effervescent taste of the white wine she was sipping was how she imagined it would. She didn't intend to spend her time in VR sleeping, but that didn't stop her from trying out the exquisitely carved cherrywood bed she found in the other room, either. Its oval frame was something she had always wanted to try out, and ... well, it was like laying on a cloud. Like jilling off on a cloud, too. She had no idea how others' VR phases were, filtered through their minds and desires. She was aware that it was usually seen just a little bit different by each person, based on vagaries of personality, brain chemistry, and mere desire. This - this was what she desired, so this was what she received.
There was more to come, a mix of upscale and wild. Days seemed to fly by as she reveled in the new world opened to her. It was hard to believe that only a few hours were going by in real-time. She was almost loathe to leave. Almost.
Rising from the depths of her adventure, she almost didn't notice that Biggs wasn't rising with them. It wasn't until someone made a comment about what was on his hard drive that she realized, sitting up somewhat groggily, that there was someone 'stuck'. "That wasn't supposed to happen," she said, her face going pale. Paler, anyway. "Uh..." She shifted uncomfortably, seated on the edge of her pod. "Sasha
, you didn't, uh... You didn't decide to get revenge on Biggs for that promotion last week, did you?" Her brow furrowed with concern.