Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 17: Questions in a Cubicle

Beneath the gleaming skyscrapers and picturesque facade of the City of Redemption lies another city; a community of dark and ancient magic populated by creatures of the night. Dark Redemption is a shared-world novel based on an online role-playing game by James Crowther.

While attending a party thrown by Melchior Aesermann, reporter Cassandra True and one of Melchior's game designers were trapped inside a virtual reality game and attacked. Cassandra's date, Strephon MacKenzie, was able to rescue her. Now detective Isaak Masey, another of Melchior's guests, has taken charge of the incident.

Once he had summoned the paramedics, Detective Masey turned his attention to Strephon. "What exactly were you doing here?"

Strephon had pulled himself back into his wheelchair. "I noted that Miss True was missing and I became worried. I went looking for her and found her here."

"And how did you come to be on the floor?"

"It's rather difficult to administer first aid from a seated position."

Melchior came into the room. "What's going on?"

"Look after Miss True, would you? The paramedics are on their way." Masey resumed his questioning. "You weren't exactly candid with me yesterday."

Strephon waited until Cassandra was out of earshot. "Well, I had to be discreet, didn’t I? Miss True is not aware of the existence of werewolves. Besides, for all I know the ones who attacked me could be members of your pack."

"My pack?"

"You are a pack leader, are you not?"

Masey reddened. "Actually, Lucinda is the leader of the pack and she had nothing to do with your attack."

Strephon blinked. "That woman? The one you were with? My word." He had never heard of a female werewolf pack leader. Then again, ever since Margaret Thatcher, he supposed it was only a matter of time.

Masey's jaw also sagged. "My God, Lucinda. I forgot all about her! I didn't tell her where I was going!" He started to dash out the door, but met Melchior coming back.

"I think Ms True is feeling well enough to make a statement," Melchior said ushering her into the room. Masey stifled a curse, but pulled out his notebook again.

"Byron wanted to show me this game he designed," Cassandra said in a distant voice, as though she was remembering something vague and foggy. "We were fighting monsters and it was like we were actually in the game. Then one of the game monsters killed Byron and I couldn't get out."

Melchior removed the disc from the console. "Nowyr 2 Run, Nowyr 2 Hyd. Reckless fool. We decided not to develop any combat games for our virtual reality platform for just this reason; they become too intense. We have safety protocols to prevent this sort of things from happening. Ms True here could have been seriously hurt!"

"And Mister Sanders was," Masey added.

Just then the paramedics arrived. Strephon had to assure them repeatedly that he was not one of the injured people. They carefully placed Byron on a gurney and wheeled him out to the waiting amubulence.

As they left, Cassandra frowned as if trying to remember something.
* * * * *
From his office window, Melchior watched his guests leave the building. "That was a very imprudent thing you did," he said coolly. "It could have jeopardized our whole product launch. We do not need bad publicity."

Lilith slid up behind him. "Sanders was proving unstable. He was about to talk to that reporter."

"Keeping Sanders under control was your job. Fortunately, I believe I have minimized the damage. I was able to edit Ms True's memories to place the blame on our irresponsible young programmer. We should be able to cover the matter up." Without looking at Lilith, he narrowed his eyes. "You weren't feeling a bit jealous of Ms True, were you?"

"Jealous? I?" Lilith smiled "I thought you wanted me to cultivate Mister MacKenzie."

"I want Mister MacKenzie watched. I want him influenced. I want him finessed. He could be very dangerous to us, or he could be very useful, but he will require subtlety."

A petulant frown crossed Lilith's face. "You intend to use that girl as a lever against him, don't you!"

It was Melchior's turn to smile.

NEXT:  Taxicab Digressions.

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