Ever Rain: Nine Kings Episode I

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Chapter 10

Kellerika landed a meeting with one Will Dannenfield, albeit a virtual meeting over the phone.

“At least I’ll only have to wear the top half of that stuff suit.”

She flushed and went to the sink to wash up. The cold tile floor felt good against the summer heat. After a quick dry, Kell padded into her bedroom and got into the ivory blouse and charcoal jacket. She looked down at her bunny slippers. “It’s definitely gonna be a Jockeys and bunny slippers kind of conference.”

She went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of black tea before meandering into her office half-dressed for a meeting with the chairman of TycoSoft. A few sips into her Scottish black, and the phone rang.

Join conference?

She plugged in and waited.

A young man with red hair cropped close to his scalp appeared. A bookshelf arranged with plaques and books sat in the background. “Agent Sellers?”

Kell flashed her signature fake smile. “Mr. Dannenfield. Thank you for carving some of your busy day out to chat.”

Dannenfield waved it off. “Call me Will, and it’s no trouble at all. What seems to be on your mind, Ms. Sellers?”

“It has to do with the string of murders and disappearances.”

Will’s head tilted back. “Ah, yes. I heard about those. Have you and your colleagues made any progress?”

“Some.” She sat her phone against an empty bottle on the coffee table. “I’m not going to question you directly in relation to that.”

“Whew.” A light chuckle. “Good. I’d rather not have to call my attorney back in for yet another conference call. Those things are getting expensive.”

Kell took a nip of her tea. “I have a question regarding BABY-X.”

Will’s guard lowered further. “Oh, that.” He laced his fingers on his desk. “Of course. What would you like to know?”

“How is it related to your recent release, Ever Rain, and what is it for?”

Will leaned closer to his screen. “Ever Rain is our most ambitious project yet. We set out to create the scariest horror VR game on the market, and from preliminary data, we’ve succeeded.”

Kell took another drink. “It appears to be very popular. How does BABY-X tie in?”

His brown eyes narrowed. “How did you find out about it, may I ask? You don’t seem like the gaming sort. No offense.”

“None taken,” she said. “We found it written down on some evidence from the scene of one of the deceased in the case.”

“I see.” Will eased back into his executive seat. “One of our programmers built in a beast mode option. You know, a super difficult version of the game.”

“I follow just fine.”

Will crossed his arms. “All right. So, the code was meant to give the hardcore fans another version of the game once they beat the factory set version. That way, they don’t get bored after a few days, and we hold on to our customer base.”

She pretended to make some notes. “Okay. How exactly does it work? How does your code alter the original game?”

He sipped from his own tumbler of water. “The player hooks up a conventional controller and taps B-A-B-Y-X three times at the intro screen followed by START. What it does, exactly, is make every level that much harder to beat. Scarecrow is more difficult to kill. Has more health, more stamina, and more speed.”

“I see.” Kell shifted her weight on the cushion. The wedgie forming was getting uncomfortable. “What do you make of all of the disappearances and murders yourself? Off the record, of course.”

Will rocked in his chair. “I’d really have to bring my lawyer in for those kinds of questions, and as I said, I’m not in the mood to do that today.”

The connection grew cold. “I understand completely. One final question, and then I’ll let you go.”

“Go for it.”

“Can I get in touch with the programmer of the code to ask some follow up questions?”

Will rested his hands on the desk. “I don’t see why not. I’ll send his company email to you after we’re finished here.”

“Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Dannenfield.” Kell picked up her phone once more.

“Anytime, Agent Sellers. Good day.”

A few minutes after their meeting, a new email popped into Kellerika’s inbox as promised. She fired off a message to the new email: [email protected]

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