Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 25: Tutorial

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.

The full moon has risen, but others besides werewolves are out on the town. Strephon MacKenzie, a semi-immortal half-fae living among the humans of the city has made the acquaintence of a reporter named Cassandra True. Cassandra has landed an important scoop, thanks in part to Strephon's help, and to celebrate has invited Strephon out for dinner.

Less than twenty-four hours after resolving never to see Cassandra again, Strephon sat across the table from her, trying to assume a relaxed manner. She wanted to celebrate her good fortune and repay Strephon's kindness by taking him out. A generous impulse should not be scorned.

So Strephon found himself seated in a dim, neon-lit club in front of a sleek laptop computer as Cassandra tried to show him how to create an avatar. "It's really easy," she said. "This way when you talk to other people, you have an image next to the text to represent yourself."

"I generally use my face for that purpose."

The club was called "Cyba-Netsu" and it had a decided computer theme. Cassandra said it was a "cyber-cafe". Each table came equipped with computer terminals and the cover charge included a temporary guest account on the club's server.

"It works like this," Cassandra said. She typed a bit on her terminal and a window opened on Strephon's screen (directly underneath the pop-up ad for hair coloring) containing the image of a puppy and the cryptic letters:

CassE: How R U, Strephon?

"They do require journalists to spell these days, do they not?"

"It's Netspeak, Strephon! That's how everybody IM's."

"But as we're both facing each other at the same table, wouldn't it be more convenient simply to speak to each other?"

"Devon wasn't kidding. You aren't very up on the 21st Century are you."

Strephon scowled. "The staff do not seem to be very attentive."

"Here." Cassandra leaned over to his keyboard, bringing her body disconcertingly close to his. "Just click here where it says "Menu" and that pulls down the... well, it actually is a menu in this case. And double-click to make your order."

Strephon gingerly followed her instructions and at her suggestion ordered an iced cappuccinette.

Cassandra looked at him thoughtfully. "Is he really your cousin?"


"That Devon guy."

Strephon bristled. "Ah. Yes, his mother is one of my eccentric aunts. I have several." He paused. "Did he... say anything to you?

"Not much," Cassandra replied. "He's not at all like you."

"Thank you."

"Except when you're cranky."

"I do not get cranky." He tried to cover his annoyance by fiddling with the trackball on the computer keyboard. He looked up again and saw that she still regarded him with that odd speculative look he was trying to discourage.

"You're not jealous of him, are you?"


"That he can walk and you can't."

"Ah. Yes. Well, I suppose it would be natural. Really, I don't think of it all that much."

Fortunately, a waiter came to the table at that moment with their order; a thin man in a black turtleneck whose pale skin looked blue in the neon lights of the club and whose hair flouresced green. "Enjoy your evening," he said with a smile.

The smile gave Strephon a sudden chill. Undead. Then he remembered what Cassandra told him the night before; that Miss Aoi Kurayami owned a string of cyber-cafes.

She didn't know that Kurayami was a vampire.

NEXT:  Iced Cappuccinette

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