Nineteen-year-old runaway, Kenneth Dekker, lives isolated inside hospital walls undergoing robotic treatment for COPD. He spends his free time inside the VR world of the game Atlas Quest, which bases gameplay around randomized quests. One day, Kenneth logs on and finds a new quest that requires two people. Intrigued he teams up with another player, a girl by the name of Byrd.
After playing through the quest and becoming acquainted, Byrd extends the invitation to let Kenneth quest with her. Despite enjoying himself, Kenneth turns her down out of mistrust. He leaves on his own, only to be suddenly pulled from the game. He wakes up to find himself taken into another medical procedure. Coming out of it the medical robots inform him his COPD will kill him in less than a year if he does not receive a lung transplant. They give him one month to make a decision.
Kenneth is aware he cannot afford the transplant, as all of his medical welfare is currently spent on hospital bills alone. He returns to the game looking for another break from reality and decides to track down Byrd, desperate to talk to another real human being again. He finds her and joins her in several quests.
The two of them grow to be close friends and Kenneth’s health continues to deteriorate over the course of time. Having made a new friend and beginning to find joy in life again, Kenneth tries to think of ways to pay for a transplant. Finding no options, he decides to call his mother, who he ran away from 5 years ago due to abuse and asks for her help, which she agrees to.
With his mother there, Kenneth struggles as she tries to micromanage his medical health. He throws himself into the game and ends up liking Byrd as their friendship grows.
Shortly before his operation, Kenneth throws a tray at his mother during one of their fights, afraid she will harm him. His mother angrily has his VR privileges seized for violence. Kenneth decides he’s had enough.
He runs away from the hospital and finds a remote place. There, he contemplates taking his own life. He thinks of Byrd and decides to log in to say goodbye to her. Upon finding her in the game, they talk. Byrd talks him down from suicide. She advises him and then the two pray before sharing their first kiss.
Refreshed and prepared, Kenneth returns. He undergoes the operation and afterward confronts his mother. There, he tells her he forgives her, but that she is no longer welcome in his life. He drops her and takes his health back into his own hands until he’s released. He regains contact with Byrd and the two agree to meet up in real life with the hope of continuing their relationship.
Intended Audience: NA 18-25
Kenneth struggling against his mom over his health
Kenneth fighting financial and medical battles
Romance between Kenneth and Byrd
Kenneth learns to stand up for himself in the face of his mom
Byrd learns how to be emotionally vulnerable again
Kenneth heals emotionally and physically
Romantic growth for both Kenneth and Byrd
- Diverse MC’s and cast
- Positive Body Image
- Accurate Mental Illness portrayal
- “clean” (no sex) romance
- Future worldbuilding
- VR usage and world