CAPS – Chapter 9: Potential

They were sitting in the same seats they had taken the last time they met at Jay cafe. This time, Shen had arrived first. There was a cappuccino waiting for her on their table when Laaysa walked into the cafe. She was surprised he remembered.

“Hey Shen, it’s great to see-,” she said, sitting down.

“I’m starting a new guild,” Shen said, hunched over his orange tea. “Well,” he said before she had a chance to get a word out. “Not exactly a guild but a company. A game company.”

If she looked surprised or staggered, he did not seem to notice.

“I want to take down Colossus,” he said. “I want to make sure what happened to us never happens again. I haven’t done a lot of design work, but I know games. I know you told me once you were a programmer and you’d worked on a few games in the past, and so um… I was thinking… I mean I was hoping we could do it together.”

“I’m in.”

“I know it sounds ridiculous. We’re up against Colossus, and an AI license will be expensive, and it’ll be even more expensive to rent an AI core, then there’s the cost of getting servers—wait.” Shen paused, registering Laaysa’s words. It was his turn to look surprised now. “You’re in?”

Laaysa nodded.

“B-b-but we’ll be competing against Colossus Industries. And Maxen Mellinfous! And we have no money. And you haven’t even heard my idea yet!” Shen found himself standing, leaning over the table now. Other patrons of the cafe were looking in their direction.

Laaysa put her hands on Shen’s shoulders and gently pushed him back into his seat.

Taking her own seat again, she said, “Do you know why I joined Capricorn?”

Shen shook his head. “No.”

“Because of you,” Laaysa said. “You were always there to lead us to the next mission. Even when players were decreasing and moving to other DR worlds, you found ways to keep the game fun and exciting. For two months after the game was shut down, you did not reply to my messages. I thought something terrible happened. Now you are here meeting with me, telling me that you want me to help you to start a game company to get revenge on the people who deleted our characters, our world, and our friendships. My answer is this, of course, I will help you, my guildmaster.”

Shen blinked. There was something wet in his eyes. He slurped on his orange tea, then very quietly he said, “Thanks Laaysa.”

“Tell me your game idea,” she said.

And so Shen did. Going into detail. Short term goals and long term goals. He told her the reason he came up with the idea. Why it meant so much to him. The mechanics of the game. The reason why players would want to play it—the reason he wanted to play it.

The entire time Laaysa sat quietly and listened. Afterwards, she raised a question here and there, to which Shen had the answer or he didn’t.

“So what do you think?” he asked her when she had nothing more to ask.

“My god, Shen,” she said, her thoughts making squiggles in her mind. She did not speak for several seconds, her gaze far away.

“Laaysa?”

She looked at him. “Do you have any idea of what you’re proposing?”

“Um-”

“To be able to rival Colossus—which I don’t think I need to remind you is the largest and most powerful game company in the world-”

“I know but-”

“-You would need to create a game that completely changes the industry-

“Oh man…”

“A game that plays under new rules and operates radically different from any game before it while providing an experience, a better experience, that no other game can reproduce.”

“H-”

She covered his mouth before he could interrupt her again and stood over the table in the same manner he had minutes earlier. “The game you have just described to me has the potential to do all of this.”

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