I’ve been looking at Chuck Wendig’s outline advices here, and I tried to give it a shot, but the outline I ended up with is kind of all over the place…
Here’s the overarching summary of the whole story, including the bits that’s too unedited to end up here:
In a world where your rank decides everything you can have and everything you can be, entering the Arena to try for the Programme is the only shot at upgrading to a better life. For Alistair, getting into the Programme is the only way to save his sister from being a Delta, the lowest of all ranks – something not even considered, or treated as, a human. Along the way, he met a few who were willing to help him, but their individual motives and unknown origins could, eventually, end up dragging him off the beaten, worn and tough but present path into the gaping unknown.
This outline is kind of mainly driven by character, with the story unfolding around the main character, Alistair Frost, in a colony world on the moon a few centuries after Earth is gone and computers became obsolete, because people could literally plug themselves into the virtual world that is named the Net as of now, because I can’t find a better name. Leave me a suggestion if possible!
There’s quite a lot of localized lingo that would be explained in the story, hopefully.
The story starts with Alistair watching his adopted parents get sentenced to life in Tartarus Colony for treason, and then he was separated from Elysia, his adopted sister. Because they commited treason, they were stripped of their Omega ranks (Omega & Alpha is highest in this world) and their children were demoted, too.
Because, when his parents died, this couple saved him, he decided to repay them by trying for Omega/Alpha so that he could adopt Elysia out of the system, too. However, for someone demoted to being promoted directly to Delta, the slave class, after he hits thirteen, his only way out is to enter the Arena, where he has to play in the game to earn a chance to enter the Institute, and possibly the Academy, to get at least a Beta (normal citizen) place, if not an Alpha/Omega position of power.
The slaves, Deltas, belong to the Council, the ruling board that governs all the Colonies, made of the strongest Alpha/Omega from each Colony. They look at the Arena to find a prodigy to groom as a successor.
In the transport for Alistair to another Colony where he would be raised, he was left in a holding barrack with a lot of other kids. He left the place, saying that he’s going to the shared toilet outside the bunks, with the actual intention of looking for Elysia, to reassure her, even if he has no idea where she is.
However, they were next to the door opening to the empty air and someone was landing that night, apparently, forcing him to hide in the nearest storage facility to avoid detection.
The airlock opened to allow a recently returned spaceship to enter. There was a real buzz because this spaceship has apparently found something on Earth, marking the third return trip from Earth. There was nothing form the first two trips noteworthy, except for a whole new supply of water and some animals to be bred and examined – to see if they’re edible. Nobody thought of going back to Earth because it’s wild there now, uncivilized and dangerous.
The area he was hiding in was dusty, and the door opened while they carted in a pod. When they left, discussing their intention to come back the next day to mark the package and decide what to do with this thing, Alistair got curious and came out of hiding and realised that there was a boy in the pod. He was lit with the soft blue light emitting from the pod. As he got close, he realised that there was a weird board with loads of little pushy alphabets on it, and that when he pressed the circle button with a line in it, the whole thing lit up. The most notable thing was the little hole/depression with a…tree? Cactus? Psi? Trident? Next to it. It matches with the symbol on his key. The one his father gave him and made him promise to keep until it is time to use it.
When he was with Ivan and Bryn (his adopted parents), they have told him about the old world back on Earth, with wonders like computers and phones. He asked about it, but he received no answer. In fact, Ivan and Bryn got warnings for raising forbidden things – he learnt his lesson and kept his mouth shut for them. This key was one of those things he wasn’t supposed to have too.
But anyway, he found the little ‘lock’ matches with his ‘key’ and he plugged it in, startling himself when there was a ‘ding’. Then there was an initialising that asked him to enter his username (?) he wasn’t sure what it was. Hesitant, he decided to type in Acrisio, because it was almost the only thing he associated with his parents, just like the key. Surprisingly, it worked.
The pod split open, and the boy woke up.
They had a real argument, with the boy insisting to meet his parents and siblings and looking devastated and then completely, utterly disbelieving and shocked to find that it was no longer the twenty-first century and him freaking out “You’re a human? You’re alive?”
In the end, the boy apparently ‘remembered’ something, and looked really freaked, then he asked in a small voice, “It’s really been __ centuries since you came to the moon and never came back?”
Then, insert conversation where Alistair figured out that Regin was hosting an AI, a Watcher AI who’s been watching from Earth, with the horrible signals, the buzzy and static version of what’s going on. And he’s updating Regin. And Alastair realised that, with Regin, he’d have a really great shot at winning the game by breaking it, by cheating. He’d be able to hit Omega/Alpha, if he had Regin around. And Regin was just confused and lost and utterly no clue what’s going on, so it wasn’t hard to persuade him that this has to be done, especially since his AI, Sicarius, has not much idea either, having been blotchy and limited to the edge of the Net. AIs are legendary in their ability, and they are dangerous and powerful in the Net, with one on his side, he’d be able to get Elysia. He was willing to manipulate this person for that. After all, Regin was just a stranger. And Elysia was more important.
Besides, without him, Regin wouldn’t be awake.
They logged in, with a port they dusted off in the warehouse, using Acrisio’s hours, before realising that as a watcher, Regin has unlimited access really, and his AI pretty much ensures that he cannot be tracked by any of the other AIs, who don’t see him as a user. That was also when he realised that his house was a fragment of Regin’s AI, a glitch caused by the fact that Regin’s AI was not fully uploaded into his Avatar, leaving behind 2 % that latched onto Ianthe Bentley’s user because Ianthe was Bennett’s friend and they were both hackers. Then Ianthe passed the house on in his family together with the thumb drive – the key to Alistair – in real world so that someday, he could fulfill the promise to Bennett-chan and revive her little brother, Regin.
But the most important thing was that Alastair discovered, from Regin, that this Net was half game-platform (RPG) and half for preserving human memories and imprints, which meant that there were pre-coded choice for you to choose your avatar, and customise the abilities. Because it was not developed, it is up to the individual user to code the online avatar, and without any laptops and pcs and mobiles, there was no way for the people to do so, nor was here knowledge to do so – the Net is entirely sustained by the solar panels and the repair & watcher & guardian AIs who would code the default avatar for every new user, a human replica of themselves in real life. With Regin, however, his AI has knowledge of the old world unlike the AIs who are created every century to replace the old ones who ‘retire’ and become dormant codes, hence the new AIs wouldn’t know what computers and things like that are either, just that they are forbidden directives. Regin’s ability to hack also allowed him to use the computer on his stasis pod to connect to the Net and customise their avatars and mask both of them. Then, realising that they needed to go, Regin plucked the laptop out – surprising the hell out of Alastair – and grabbed a charger and followed Alastair back to the bunk. He hid the laptop – a handheld model that is folded to be the size of a larger book with the book jacket to go with it in a corner and they were scolded. Before, in his hacking, he had already registered himself in the system as ____. Whenever a new person is born, they report to the council who would tell an AI (Guardian/Watcher) who would update the status in the records library, the same for someone who died. Regin simply hacked it and added an entry for himself – it was really easy enough, name, parents, date of birth, status. Pick deceased family and you’re ready to go.
The two of them were sent to Vesta (One of the colonies?) and they tried to stay safe. Met Jack, and, in the orphanage port, found a user named Rhea who is unidentified, too. Regin’s AI identified her as an AI, but also a user, similar to Regin. It worried the two of them.
They signed up for the tournament and entered the arena, given a name each. Minimum of 10 to upgrade to Beta, above 50 for a chance to enter the Institute or the Academy if you’re not already a child of either an Alpha or an Omega. The person you get could be user, could be AI, nobody knows. Except, with Regin, it was truly easy to just breeze through, and with Rhea on their side, it was frankly amazing. Jack, too, helped them.
Except, Rhea wasn’t in the game, but Jack was. And Jack picked Regin’s name out – Aloysius Reginald Chance. And he didn’t know who it was, but he was determined to hit at least Omega/Alpha, and there was only one name left.
He shot Regin out.
They have to spend one month connected, however, they are woken once every week to exercise, and he realised that time that Regin was taken away.
He tried not to feel guilty, because he wasn’t friends with Regin, he just needed Regin to get his sister back, and Regin knew that. He still felt bad, though. And he can’t even hate Jack – Jack was doing this for his sister, too, his twin, Jill, who wasn’t able to participate because she cannot connect. Alistair had never heard of that condition, but he was willing to give Jack the benefit of the doubt, especially since Rhea appears to believe it.
He got into the Institute/Academy.
Any advice? It would be largely appreciated! I’m trying NaNoWriMo for a second time, but this is the first time I’m doing an original work, and I would really love it if you would tell me what you think of this plot. There’s some other characters too, and arcs for the other characters, but this is the first main character.
And, if you could think of a name for a virtual world or a title for the story that you wouldn’t mind me using, please drop it here too!