"The briefcase might have held a basketball or a watermelon, though it was rectangular, and had two golden clasps on either side of a black leather handle. Flipping these, the man lifted the lid. Sadie's grip on Jake's hand loosened as she half-rose to see inside and light glanced off the object to fly around the room as the man cradled it in his arms.
"Do you know what this is?"
It was a helmet, about the size of a soccer ball, of gleaming, blue-tinted silver. A glass visor covered the top half of the front, while the bottom was left open for the mouth and neck. Perfectly cordless, compact, and inexplicably real.
"How can you have one?" Sadie whispered.
"My name is John Jaggers," the man tapped a gold, rectangular badge pinned to his breast pocket, "and I work for an institution interested in providing more effective therapy for patients experiencing depression or the residual effects of a shock. I would like to make you an offer."
A virtual world, a brother who needs saving, a freckle-faced girl, her boy who doesn't exist, a lion master, a vengeful thief, a civil war, and some fancy armor. And of course, no way out.