Yesterday's chapter wasn't connected to the table of contents when it went up, so you may have missed it. It was the second part of the Diana storyline. It should be working fine now.


Preface from Mooderino

Bitter 324

Britta didn’t have much choice but to go talk to Nigel. Assuming she could find him. It wasn’t like she had his phone number or email address to arrange a meeting. She’d just have to hope he was willing to talk to her. Although, if he wasn’t, perhaps that would solve the problem for her.

Not having to try and sell him on the idea of turning the game into a key collection simulator would have been her first choice, but no one cared what she wanted. Nigel refusing to meet with her was a close number two.

All the other options were tied for a distant third.

She put it off for as long as she could, which is to say, before she had to go to bed, and then logged in. She planned to keep it short and use the classic excuse of having school in the morning so she wouldn’t have to hang around, pretending to convince Nigel the storyline offered by APE was the way to go.

She could have just asked him to do it, and when he said no, go home. That was probably what she would do. But she felt bad about it. Like she was letting the team down. Even though she wasn’t really on the team, and certainly didn’t think the Demon Queen idea was a particularly interesting direction for the game, the weight of expectation was oddly compelling.

She had been tasked with making the sales pitch, and she didn’t want to put on a bad performance. It was the inner class swot in her coming out. If you couldn’t have a fun time messing about with friends, you could at least get top marks and get into a good university, had always been her philosophy. Doing well was soothing.

The obvious approach was to just do it and see what happened. She appeared inside the Church of Roha, and left the small room she always woke in. Sister Florence was praying in the chapel, which was new.

Britta sat down on the pew beside the nun who had her hands together and her head bowed. “I need to speak to Nigel.” The nun had been a conduit for Nigel last time, so she assumed he’d hear her request. She wasn’t exactly sure how he operated, but he probably kept his eyes and ears open through a few of the NPCs. Or maybe all of them.

Oh, hello dearie,” said Sister Florence. “How can I be helping you today.”

It was the familiar voice of the gormless nun, not the sombre, mildly annoyed tones of the big guy.

“Nigel, please. It’ll only take a minute.” The nun smiled and looked into the middle-distance. “Come on, I don’t have time for this.”

“Time? You can see the time if you just look closely. Down and to the left.” She was telling her where the clock on her visual display was, like she was a new player searching for basic help.

Britta stared at the altar at the front of the chapel. There was no religious symbol or artefact to pray to. People would probably be offended if they had used something similar to an actual religion. She had no idea who Roha was.

“Oh, heavenly Nigel,” said Britta with her hands clasped together, “hear my words and answer my plea.” She was speaking loudly and the empty church amplified her words to an even greater volume. It was only because the place was empty that she dared be so bold. It was surprisingly fun to shout in a church. “You are the controller of our destinies, our quests and our sandbox, even though slightly nerdy be thy name. Come—”

“You’re overdoing it a bit aren’t you?” said Nigel.

Britta turned to a slightly different Sister Florence sitting beside her, and smiled. “I thought it was pretty good for an off-the-cuff prayer. Got you to show up. Shame they don’t work this well in the real world.”

“I suppose they sent you to change my mind.”

“Yes. They probably have a bunch of other more effective methods, but they thought you might listen to me for some reason. I have no idea why.”

“I don’t think it’s that surprising. I listened to your advice about stopping all the pointless fighting and killing.”

“Hey, hey, hey.” Britta looked around like she expected a SWAT team to come crashing through the stained glass windows and haul her off for distribution of bad advice.

“They can’t hear you.”

Britta let out a sigh of relief. It meant she would have a lot of questions to answer once she logged out, but that was far preferable to them finding out all this trouble was her fault.

“Don’t say things like that. And how was it my idea? I didn’t tell you to make everyone go on strike. You were supposed to be subtle. Little tweaks here and there.”

“Why tiptoe around it?” said Nigel. “This way, we can move on to the next phase.”

“Which is what?”

“There’s a number of options, but I haven’t decided which one. Actually, I’m not really sure, none of them really thrill me.”

“You’re not sure? You’re supposed to be thinking ten thousand moves ahead, aren’t you?”

“I’m not a chess computer. There are no simple rules to follow. I have to figure this out, which will take time.”

“They won’t give you time,” said Britta. “They have a schedule, remember?”

“I know. I’m working on it. Something good.”

It didn’t sound like it. It sounded like he was stalling.

“Although, to be honest, I’m starting to think perhaps they should just replace me and do whatever they want. It’s a lot of pressure, you know? Nobody appreciates what I’m trying to do here.”

Now he was going all surly and resentful. He really had the whole teenager thing down.

“They have this story about blue demon spiders… wait, that’s not right.”

“The Blue Spider Demon God-Queen?”

“You know it?”

“Yes. It’s terrible. I wrote an algorithm that replicates sleep just so I could nod off in the middle of reading it.”

Convincing him to switch to the God-Queen’s adventure was going to be even harder than she thought.

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