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Author’s note: This is a fanfic that takes place in the “Ready Player One” universe. If you haven’t read “Ready Player One” this story won’t make much sense. Also it has some spoilers, so you should definitely not read this if you haven’t read the book.

Ready Player One” is copyright 2012 by Ernest Cline.


Lacero sat in the shuttle’s cargo bay, lost in his own thoughts. Actually, he was in a haptic feedback unit in his living room. But within the world of the OASIS, he was cruising across the sector in a dilapidated cargo ship based on the Eagle Transporter from “Space 1999”.

Two egg hunters, or “gunters”, sat across from him discussing their plans for finding Anorak’s Easter Egg. The woman, a techie, wore a skin-tight jumpsuit with numerous belts, each laden with technological gadgetry and weapons. The other, a man sporting a long grey beard, wore a blue robe decorated with occult symbols. Theirs had been a good partnership, effective in both magic and tech zones and especially strong in chaos zones.

“How about you, friend?” said the wizard.

“Huh?” asked Lacero.

“What will you do if you win?”

Lacero rolled his eyes. “I’m not a gunter.”

The two adventurers smirked to each other then turned back to him. “Suuure,” said the techie. “You just happen to be a well-armed, high-level guy headed to planet Gygax?”

“Yeah, come on,” said the wizard. “Thanks to that idiot Pendergast’s press conference last week, everyone knows about the Copper Key clue. And it obviously refers to the Tomb of Horrors. Every gunter in the OASIS is headed to Gygax nowadays. There’s no official Tomb of Horrors zone there, but seriously, where else could it be?”

“Fine,” Lacero sighed. “I’m looking for the Easter Egg, but I’m not a ‘gunter’.”

The techie frowned. “Looking for the Easter Egg is the definition of a gunter, isn’t it?”

“No!” Lacero said. “You gunters are part of the problem!”

The two looked at him quizzically.

“The whole world’s going to hell,” Lacero said. “And OASIS is why. People care more about this collection of bits and bytes than they do about the real world.”

“Oh come on,” said the wizard. “Life’s tough, yeah, but you can’t blame OASIS. The fossil fuels ran out, corporations got too much power, and-”

“Bull,” Lacero interrupted. “That’s just an excuse people use to dodge responsibility. The world is what we make it. We could have found solutions to the energy crisis if we’d tried. And the corporations only took over because no one else was willing to deal with the crap necessary to run a society. No one cared. The whole damn world is obsessed with this place. It’s a constant escape from reality. But it’s not reality. And the real world is crumbling around us while the people obsess over idiotic video games.”

“OASIS does tons of good for people,” the techie protested. “Their schools are the best primary educational system in the world, and they’re free.“

“Yeah whatever,” Lacero said. “A few PR stunts doesn’t absolve GSS of their sins. You know what they are? Drug dealers. They sell is escapism and the whole world is addicted. And it’s every bit as destructive as heroin. A few schools won’t wash the blood off their hands.”

“Oh come on,” said the wizard. “What blood?”

“My sister, for one,” Lacero said darkly.

The two gunters remained silent for a moment. Then, the wizard said. “Okay… what do you mean?”

“She spent every waking moment in her haptic,” Lacero began. “She ignored friends, family, and anyone else who cared about her. She’d only leave OASIS long enough to eat and sleep. And half the time she’d do that while wearing her haptic anyway. She lived in a meth-infested tenement, spending what little money she had left from Dad’s will on her stupid obsession.

“When Halliday died she went in to overdrive. When the hunt first started, people didn’t realize everyone would get stumped. Some thought it would only be a matter of days, maybe weeks before it was all over. She became obsessed. She stopped sleeping because it took up too much time. She started taking meth to stay awake. She figured she could sleep later. You can guess where this is going.

“She’d been dead in her haptic for three days before she was discovered. The only reason anyone noticed was because neighbors complained about the smell. Drug overdose, of course.”

“Sheesh,” said the techie. “Sorry for your loss. That’s terrible.”

“You want to know what I’ll do if I win? I’ll shut down GSS. Dismantle everything it has and sell it off. OASIS will be dead, and people will have to face reality. They’ll be forced to live in the world they’ve been neglecting. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll start to make it better. Meanwhile I’ll be rich.”

“You’re kind of a zealot,” said the wizard. “You know that?”

“Damn right I’m a zealot,” Lacero said. “This isn’t a game. The fate of the world is literally at stake here. And I would happily kill for this cause. And I don’t just mean avatars, either. I mean in the real world. You get me?”

The two gunters were cowed into silence. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t interested the approval of escapism-addicts or anyone else in the OASIS. As far as he was concerned, they were all enemies.

Gygax turned out to be a bust. Not only was it crawling with gunters, there was no hint of the Tomb of Horrors anywhere. It would be another two months before he made progress.


Having researched the matter thoroughly, Lacero knew that one of Halliday’s first purchases when he got rich was a reproduction of the DeLorean from Back to the Future. It was a popular model of transport in OSAIS, and one of the game’s original available craft.

Of course, the Time Control circuits were just for show and the Flux Capacitor did nothing. OASIS could do a lot in its simulation, but it couldn’t make you travel in time. It would have to reverse the levelling and progress of all the other players. No, it wasn’t possible.

Or was it?

There were numerous areas in the OASIS that were “instance zones”. That meant they would create a duplicate of themselves for everyone who entered. Each person would get their own private copy while they were there. It was a common video game technique dating back to the early part of the century.

Lacero realized that an instance zone, having only one player to work with, could actually have time travel as a mechanic. So he bought a DeLorean time machine (they were available at countless shops), and started exploring as many instance zones as he could. At each one, he would try the various dates Marty McFly travelled to in the films: November 5, 1955; October 26, 1985; October 21, 2015; and September 2, 1885.

It never worked. The car would go through the motions of sparking, flaming tire tracks, and a bright flash when he reached 88mph, but no time travel would occur. At least, not until he got to Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Cloud Cuckoo Land was a planet covered with the most extreme and bizarre conspiracies anyone had ever come up with. It had a number of scenarios players could take part in, from uncovering an Illuminati to finding crashed alien spacecraft to any other strange or new-age ideals people could imagine. On Cloud Cuckoo Land, they were all true.

Occasionally, people wondered why there was a reproduction of Mt. Shasta in an otherwise unimpressive mountain zone. Those that had visited it also wondered why they were placed in an instance zone when there wasn’t anything worth doing there.

Lacero had picked up on this oddity while searching around for instance zones and decided to check it out. Once there, as usual, he tried the various Back to the Future dates. He had the flying version of the DeLorean, so getting up to 88mph was not a problem. But as usual, nothing happened other than some special effects. He was about to leave when a thought struck him: What’s so special about Mt. Shasta?

He did a simple search online for Mt. Shasta in the 1980’s, and found something significant: The Harmonic Convergence.

The Harmonic Convergence was a new-age cultish phenomenon that came and went in 1987. It was supposedly a major event in the Mayan calendar that coincided with a planetary alignment. The convergence was strongest in certain “power centers” of which Mt. Shasta was the most potent. In reality it was just a bunch of drug-addled hippies convincing themselves they’d had a shared experience. It was a perfect scenario for Cloud Cuckoo Land. But there was one catch: The Harmonic Convergence could not be done at any old time. It began on August 16th, 1987 and only lasted two days.

Lacero typed the date into his Time Circuits. He gunned the hoverdrive until he hit 88mph and the usual flash happened with flaming tire tracks left behind him. But this time, something was different.

A moment ago, it had been winter. Now it was much greener, and a large crowd was visible at the base of the mountain. He’d “traveled in time”. He landed the DeLorean at the edge of the crowd and joined them.

At least 100 people, all in 1980’s apparel, sat in a circle and chanted. Had they been real people, he would have been disgusted by the ridiculous display. But these were just NPCs, controlled by the computer, and part of the scenario.

He sat among them and half-heartedly chanted as well.

After a few moments, clouds formed over the chanting circle and the wind picked up. The NPCs cheered as the Harmonic Convergence began. Then, words appeared in the sky and the booming voice of James Halliday read them throughout the heavens:

You seek solutions to the gates,

But know you what reward awaits?

Like Kirk, Scott, and Chekov, too

The genesis is all for you

Lacero laughed. He’d figured out the meaning immediately. At last, he saw a way to make it all happen! Everything he wanted! It could be done!


“I have to say, you tested in the 99th percentile of all candidates,” said the interviewer.

“Thank you,” said Lacero.

“It was one of the shortest hiring discussions we’ve ever had. You scored extremely high on intelligence and determination. Also, your knowledge of Halliday is exemplary. We believe you could be a valuable addition to the IOI family in our Oology Division.”

Lacero nodded. “Sounds great.”

“We’d like to offer you a full-time job.” The interviewer waved his hand and a contract appeared in the air. It flew to Lacero and hovered in front of him. “We’d like an answer within 24 hours. Feel free to review the contract. But I can give you the basics: Free room and board at the real-world IOI headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Medical, dental, two weeks of vacation per year, the usual stuff. And if you are the one who actually finds the Easter Egg, you’ll get a twenty-five million dollar bonus. Of course, should you find the Egg, all benefits from it become the property of IOI.”

“Understood,” said Lacero. He took a moment to look over the contract. There was a lot of legalese, but it was clear that IOI would get all the GSS stock if he found the Egg, and they would also control any special abilities his avatar got as a result.

It didn’t matter. They’d never get a chance. The Harmonic Convergence made that clear.

You seek solutions to the gates, but know you what reward awaits? It didn’t get much more blatant than that. The clue wasn’t about the Copper Key. It was about the prize itself.

Like Kirk, Scott, and Chekov, too, the genesis is all for you. The names mentioned were, obviously, all characters in Star Trek. While the TV show was from the 1960’s, four of the Star Trek movies came out in the 1980s. Right in Halliday’s wheelhouse.

Within the Star Trek universe, the “Genesis Device” was an invention that could create life on a lifeless world. It would also destroy any life that was there to begin with. So the winner of the Egg would have the power of life and death in OASIS. That was hardly notable. In fact, it was pretty much to be expected.

More important, though, was the mention of Kirk, Scott, and Chekov. It was a reference to a specific scene. In the two movies related to the Genesis Device, there was only one scene where those three characters, and only those three characters, did something together: When they entered the self-destruct codes for the Enterprise in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

So there it was. The winner of the Egg would have the power to destroy the entire OASIS. It was Lacero’s dream come true. If he won, he would activate the self-destruct immediately. That would be it. IOI could cry about it later, and they’d probably sue the pants off him. They might even try to kill him out of spite. But it they wouldn’t be able to bring OASIS back.

“I’m sure everything will be in order,” Lacero said, pressing his thumb to the contract to sign.

“Great!” said the interviewer. “Oh, and we’re going to need to know your real name, for legal purposes.”

“Sorrento,” he said. “Nolan Sorrento.”

The interviewer shook his hand. “Welcome aboard, Nolan. Your employee number is IOI-655321. I think you’ll fit right in.”