July 24, 2019
Laaysa ordered the second round of drinks as they continued to talk. As they dove deeper into the company’s details, Laaysa noticed something about herself. She was excited. She had not expected to be. When she received the message, she was happy that Shen was okay and moving on from losing against Maxen Mellinfous. But not only was he okay, he had rebounded. He was nervous and awkward—that had not changed. But there was an energy to him, born from an enthusiasm, perhaps even an anger, to do the impossible. He had come up with a game idea that truly had the potential to surpass all other games. It was ambitious, extremely ambitious. Of course, Laaysa knew that having an idea wasn’t the same as implementingthe idea, yet she felt her hopes rising.
“I was thinking you could start things off in the design department,” Shen was saying. “But eventually we’ll need to grow the team and raise money.”
Laaysa nodded. “The thing we’re really lacking right now is a business person.”
They looked at each other and said the next words at the same time: “We need Armont.”
“He’d know the best way to get the company up and running,” Shen said.
“He’d have business contacts that might be interested in investing,” Laaysa said. “What we’ve been discussing will take money. A lot of money.”
Armont had been Capricorn’s treasurer. Though the guildmembers did not speak about their real lives often, from what Laaysa knew about him when the conversation did come up, Armont was a man in his late 60s and retired. But before retirement, he had been a Vice President at a major corporation—which one she did not know.
“Do you have his contact?” Shen asked.
Shen sighed. “Me neither.”
“About a year ago he said he started playing another DR game,” Laaysa said. “It was a new one that had just launched…”
“Do you remember the name?”
Laaysa was rubbing her temples. “Something’s Blessing… I can’t remember off the top of my head right now,” she said apologetically.
“How do we know if he’s still playing it?”
“I bet he is,” Laaysa said. “He said the game mechanics were similar but better than Constellation, and I’m pretty sure he said it wasn’t a Colossus game.”
“Hmm…” Shen said, thinking. “I guess it can be pretty safe to assume he didn’t go to a Colossus game afterward. I can’t imagine anyone from the guild doing that after what they did.”
Laaysa nodded. “I’ll go home and look it up, it shouldn’t be hard to find. I’ll also check into a few other things for our next steps. I have an AI license and can start getting some of the design going.”
“Thanks, Laaysa. You have no idea how much this means to me,” Shen said.
She noted that this time, he held her eyes for a moment. She smiled in return.
Then his awkwardness returned and he looked away again, taking a sip from his orange tea.
Laaysa smiled at this too. “While we’re looking for Armont, I’ll also start coming up with designs, but without him, it’ll be tough to get funding on our own.”
“Finding him will be difficult. He might be under a different username,” Shen said. “But if you’re sure he’s in that game, I’ll go.”
“I am,” Laaysa said. “I remember he said he wanted to move Capricorn to this Blessing game after Colossus announced they were going to shut down Constellation. He never mentioned it to you?”
“No. But maybe that’s because I started the petition soon after that announcement. Maybe he was going to wait until after…” Shen trailed off in his sentence, a sad look on his face. After I had defeated Maxen, which I didn’t. “He probably didn’t have a chance to tell me.”
“It’s alright, Shen,” Laaysa said, lightly touching his arm. “We’ll find him.”
Shen nodded. “Yeah, then we’ll start our company.”
“What’s the company called by the way?”
Shen smiled, his gaze returning to her again.
“It’s called Caps.”
* * *
Laaysa lived in a three-bedroom apartment in an affluent neighborhood on the northern side of the city. When she returned home, she found Jamie on the phone in the middle of what sounded like a work call.
He smiled and waved at her, then turned away to continue the call.
She went into directly into her study, closed the door, and logged into the computer to do research. Her mind had been buzzing with ideas the entire way back from the cafe.
A few minutes later, she heard a knock on the door and Jamie entered. He was a tall, handsome man in his mid-thirties. He spoke with a deep voice that was often interspersed with a laidback smile.
“How was seeing your friend?” he asked.
“It was great, we had a good conversation,” she said. She did not yet want to tell him that she was going to start a company with Shen.
“Is he doing okay?” Jami said. “You said he hadn’t responded to your messages after your game was closed down right?”
“Yeah, he’s good. Actually, he’s looking for some of our old friends. I’m going to help him do some researching.”
“That’s good. But you look a little flushed,” Jami said.
“Oh, am I?” Laaysa said, feeling her cheek.
“Yes, of course. It’s just…”
“Just what?” Jamie said softly with a lazy smile.
Laaysa thought back to her conversation with Shen. Despite the short, skinny, awkward young man sitting before her, there were a few moments where she had felt something that did not appear the first time they met face-to-face. She had felt that she was speaking to Chryses, the relentless, captivating guildmaster of Capricorn.
Perhaps, his persona had not been killed after all.
Or if it was, it had been resurrected.
Jami arched an eyebrow at her.
Laaysa shook her head. “No, it’s nothing.”
“Mmm…,” Jami said, taking a step toward her. “Well, I’ll leave you to your work.”
He crossed the small space of her study, leaned in, and gave her a deep kiss. Then he walked out of the room and closed the door behind himself.
Laaysa rubbed ran her hands through her hair, feeling even more color in her cheeks than before, then began to search for Armont’s game.