Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dark Redemption chapter 28: Right to Know?

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 accquaintance 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 and has been introduced to Miss Kurayami.

Either because the drink steadied her, or because she possessed a resilient spirit or perhaps just because she was easily distracted, Cassandra recovered quickly from her earlier fright. She fumbled an apology, and under the encouragement of Miss Kurayami's gracious reply, Cassandra steered the conversation into an impromptu interview.

After a while, Miss Kurayami rose and excused herself. "We shall perhaps speak again, Mister MacKenzie?" she added.

"I shouldn't be at all surprised," Strephon said politely.

Strephon and Cassandra stayed long enough to finish the refill of their drinks which the green-haired waiter had provided unbidden; then they left the cyber-cafe and headed back for Cassandra's flat.

"What did you think of Miss Kurayami?" Strephon asked as the cab pulled away from the club.

"She seemed very nice," Cassandra replied cautiously. "Very polite."

"But...?" Strephon prompted.

Cassandra hesitated. "She's a very intense person. When I was talking to her I felt like I was walking on the edge of a knife. Like she was a cat and I was some kind of small rodent; you know what I mean?"

He nodded. "She does seem to enjoy projecting a dangerous persona, doesn't she."

Cassandra shivered. "She gave me the creeps." She paused, and then added, "I really did see that waiter bite a girl."

"I do not doubt you. Do you think he's a vampire?"

In the driver's seat, Tobias glanced up in the rear view mirror, but said nothing.

"I don't know. Maybe he was just a guy with a kinky fetish, like Miss Kurayami said. There are a lot of people like that at that club. I've been there before with my roommate, Cecilie. But there was something about the whole thing that freaked me out; the way the girl seemed totally under his control. And she was bleeding, Strephon! Her neck was bleeding! And I'm sure I saw blood on his lips!"

Strephon kept silent. It might be safer for Cassandra to believe that the Cyba-netsu was nothing more than a night spot for young people with outré tastes. That evening had given her a glimpse of the hidden world beneath Redemption City's surface. Strephon realized that he did not want her involved in that dark world. Did he have a duty to warn her what she might be getting into? Or was his duty to protect her from this knowledge? The gloomy thought occurred to him that he might have no say in this matter.

The cab arrived at Cassandra's flat. As she climbed out of the cab, she stumbled a bit and placed her hand against the car to steady herself.

"You all right, Missy?" Tobias asked. "I think the Lady have a bit to drink. Maybe, Mister Strephon, you should see her to the door."

Strephon shot the cabbie a suspicious glare.

"I only had a couple drinks!" Cassandra protested. "I'm all right! I'll be fine!"

That settled matters. "You know, Cassandra, you did invite me to see your flat," Strephon said.

"Oh! That's right I did." Cassandra gave a sheepish laugh.

Tobias grinned broadly as he helped Strephon with his chair. Then, to Strephon's annoyance, he started up the cab and pulled away from the curb. "Let me know when to pick you up," Tobias called as he drove off.

NEXT:  Bangers and Fettuccini

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