Sharp Promise

“Sir?” Valerie forced as much politeness into her voice as she could. “If there’s nothing else, may I help the next customer?” She gestured at the growing line behind the portly man. His confusion shifted to anger; his eyebrows angled and his eyes hardened.

“Excuse me?” he asked. “This is my game, and I’ll move when I’m ready.” He gestured a swipe at the air in front of him and a translucent slate appeared. “You’re way off-script, I’m calling a mod.”

“I’m sorry about this,” Valeria apologized to the queue behind the angry man. None of them seemed concerned about the delay; they all continued to wait patiently with blank expressions.

“What?” a sudden voice asked sharply. A short dark-haired woman in a black suit stood next to the complainer. He noticed her and gave a small jump back in surprise.

“M- Melody!?” he stammered. “Where’s Aury?”

“Busy. Oren’s busy. Ms. Sharp is busy. Everyone is busy from now on. This is your final use of the mod-call function. Make it good. What do you want, Elmer?”  Elmer shook his head.

“No! When I won, Ms. Sharp said it was for life! It’s mine, I earned it!”  Melody sighed.

“Ms. Sharp also advised you to use it sparingly. You’ve had it for three weeks and you already summoned Aurelio over fifty times.” Her eyes softened. “But if Ms. Sharp made a promise, I can’t break it.” Elmer’s chest puffed out with pride as his expression became smug. “So, what do you want?” she asked again. He pointed at Valerie behind the counter.

“Defective NPC. Overwrite her.” Melody looked at Valerie, golden stars flashed in her eyes. She smiled at Valerie and pointed at something behind her. Valerie turned and found a tall black portal hovering in the air.

“I’m sure you have many questions. If you walk through the portal we can try to answer them together,” Melody said.

“Hey, where are you going?” Elmer asked. “Aury always resets them on the server.” Valerie had not exited through the dark portal yet. She did have questions, but she did not want to be ‘Overwritten’ like Elmer’s suggestion. She trusted Melody a bit more when Elmer complained she was doing the procedure wrong.

“It might not be necessary to reset her; we won’t know until after an interview,” Melody turned and nodded at Valerie again. This time Valerie returned the nod and retreated into the darkness. Melody held her hand out to Elmer.

“May I see your node?” she asked. Elmer reached for his belt buckle, but paused.

“Why?” he asked. “Ms. Sharp said-“

“I know what Ms. Sharp said,” Melody nodded. “That NPC is exactly the kind of person Ms. Sharp was hoping to find. You get a reward.”

“OH!” Elmer instantly relaxed and pulled the glassy rectangle from its dock; he placed it in her hand. She accepted it and began swiping and tapping through it at a quick pace. After a few moments, she handed it back to him.

[Updating: 7 minutes remain.] pulsed in golden letters on the invisible display.

“What are you updating?” he grinned.

“Oren developed new class and he’s been wanting to release it on the AlterNet,” Melody replied.

“A new class!?” Elmer grinned. “YES!”

“One more thing,” Melody said as she waved her hand at the air to open a portal. “Ms. Sharp promised you could mod-call for the rest of your life, but now you’re limited to once a day; this was today’s. You’re on your own for the rest of the day.”

“Yeah yeah, thanks Mel,” he shooed her away while focusing on his node. The moment she disappeared a new system message appeared on his node.

[Server Message: This server will be deactivated in 3 minutes. Players should Traverse to a new server. Players who fail to evacuate before the server is shut down will not be respawned.]

“Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame,” Elmer groaned. He navigated through the menus until he found the icon to change servers, then pressed it.

[You may not Traverse while the node is being updated. Please wait 6 minutes.]

“Logout!” His panic swelled and he blurted out the idea as he navigated to the appropriate icon.

[You may not Log out while the node is being updated. Please wait 6 minutes.]

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