Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 27: Interview With a Vampiress

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.

Strephon MacKenzie, a semi-immortal half-fae, and his acquaintance Cassandra True, a reporter for the Daily Oracle, are enjoying an evening at the Cyba-Netsu, a cyber-club owned by Aoi Kurayami. Cassandra has just discovered that some of the people at the club are vampires.  Meanwhile, Strephon recieves a message from Miss Kurayami.

Strephon sat frowning at Kurayami's avatar on his computer screen for a long time before he decided to accept her message.  He could not shake the feeling that the image of her with the enigmatic sphinx-like smile and the impenetrable dark glasses could see him and read his own thoughts.  Perhaps it could.  He gingerly clicked on the "Accept" button.

Kurayami:  Care for a drink Mr. MacKenzie? Your mortal friend is welcome too of course
 He hesitated, then carefully typed a polite reply.

A few moments later, he saw the crowd on the dance floor part like a mist and the Lady Kurayami striding smoothly to his table.  Instinctively, Strephon almost tried to rise at her arrival.  Unable to do that, he nodded his head in greeting.  "Good evening, Lady Kurayami.  You honor me."

"As do you, Mister Strephon."  She gestured and a passing waiter placed a drink in her hand, just as if he had been on his way to do that very thing.  Perhaps he had.  She sat down next to him.  "You don't seem to be enjoying your drink.  Would you prefer perhaps a rum and Coca-cola?"

"No... that seems to be Miss True's drink of choice."  How did she know that?  She must have been observing him at the party closer than he thought.  "Some tea would be fine, if you please."

Kurayami gestured again and Strephon saw another waiter flit off to the bar.  "We have a mutual association with Mister Aesermann, do we not?"

"We are acquainted," Strephon clarified.  "I have some small connections in the Faerie Court which Lord Melchior feels may be beneficial, but we have not yet formally agreed to a business arrangement.  And yourself?"

Kurayami nodded her head slightly.  Strephon wished he could see her eyes behind those sunglasses.  Were she a mortal, he might try to read her emotions, but as it was he felt no desire to match his will against a vampire, particularly one as powerful as she.  "Melchior possesses a technology which intrigues me," she said.  "I would like to use it; he would like me to distribute it.  A mutually beneficial arrangement, do you not think?"

Strephon tried to keep his face as cool and unimpassioned as hers.  "You say that as if inviting contradiction."

"I like to know what I'm buying.  Mister Aesermann's system is a beautiful black box.  You perform certain actions to the box, and it produces certain results; but as for what the box contains, that is a mystery.  Only Mister Aesermann knows how it works."

"Ah.  If you knew how it worked, you could duplicate it yourself and would not need Melchior."

Kurayami's smile became even more enigmatic.  "Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  But if I could duplicate the technology myself, it would give me some leverage should Mister Aesermann decide to alter our arrangement to my disadvantage."

Strephon shrugged.  "Alas, Lord Melchior has not confided in me.  And even if he did, I fear you and I would have to know each other much better for me to take that liberty."

"But of course.  There is another thing, however, that I would know.  As a rule, the fae do not deal with other races.  As a result, they are a closed book to me.  Another beautiful black box, if you will; but one whose function is not clear.  I am certain that Mister Aesermann has enemies in, as you say, the Unseen Realm.  If I enter into a partnership with him, these enemies could become my own,  I would like to know more about this man I'm dealing with.  Is that something you could honorably divulge?"

"Perhaps..." Strephon said cautiously.  "Unfortunately, I fear it will have to wait for another time."  He saw Cassandra returning to the table, her face pale.

Cassandra glanced uncertainly at Kurayami and leaned close to Strephon.  "Strephon!  We need to get out of here," she whispered.  "I think there are vampires here!"

"Vampires?"  Strephon said raising an eyebrow.  His eyes darted over to Kurayami.

Kurayami's smile spread from sphinx-like to Cheshire Cat.  "Indeed?  My establishment attracts creatures of the night and some of them relish the... unconventional."

Cassandra looked at her in confusion.  "Cassandra, I believe you will remember Miss Aoi Kurayami?  Miss Kurayami, this is my friend, Miss Cassandra True."

"Ah, the reporter.  It is a pleasure." 

Cassandra took her hand and mumbled a greeting, then turned back to Strephon.  "I just saw our waiter bite a girl!"

Kurayami's smile instantly folded into a scornful frown.  "I will have words with him.  My staff's personal life is their own affair, but I will not have them upsetting the customers."

Cassandra simply stared at her and sank into her seat.  At this point the green-haired waiter arrived with a steaming cup of tea and a rum and Coke.  Cassandra numbly took the drink from the waiter and downed it in a single gulp.

NEXT:  Right To Know ?

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