I of course have – as would any good metaverse detective – a veritable army of alts. I have to use an Excel spreadsheet just to keep track of them: in addition to all the IDs and passwords, there’s their gender, sexuality, appearance, age, attractiveness, species and identifiable personality traits to record. Then there’s the places they hung out in on previous cases and the names of key people they met (with one asterisk to denote if I they might be inclined to try to kill me if they ever met me in RL and two if I had sex with them). I try not to take them where they might be recognised.
Whilst Trigger Masilovi materialised in Dominoes with Cassandra Corvette, then, Gutter Watkins found he’d been teleported by Burnished Oak to a skybox at four thousand metres, one of those New York industrial-style apartments with fake sunlight painted onto the floorboards. Whilst she pressed herself up against me in front of the window, removing her clothing a piece at a time to reveal black lace underwear, she asked me if I was dominant or submissive. I consulted my spreadsheet. “Switch,” I replied.
Back in the office, Honeycomb Crumbled was answering by herself some of the questions my primary hadn’t yet got around to asking, like if she’d actually verified that some of the dancers at Dominoes were previously her guests at Frederick’s. It was no longer an important question, since Cassandra and Trigger were now locked in slow dance number three across black and white tiles whilst an ad for Cialis played over the music stream. Burnished, I decided, was a dead end – or would be after a half hour or so. Whilst she arranged pose balls that required a standing position from me for the next few minutes, I asked Cassandra what was so good about our new venue in a way I hoped made it looked like I was calculating the probability of the move being a step closer to fucking her. After a fashion, she replied just that there were more people there. I put it to Honeycomb that sometimes all it took was just one or two people in the right moment to check some other place out – maybe a sim crash had occurred at Frederick’s one evening and a couple had relocated simply out of impatience – and the subsequent movement of the masses was no more a conspiracy than the flocking of dots in those computer simulations of traffic flow.
“I see I haven’t yet convinced you of the malice in all of this, Mr Luck,” she replied. “Very well. Then I will tell you how I came to know it. I’d hoped not to have to tell you this yet; I would have preferred you discover it independently so you wouldn’t think me paranoid or a drama queen. The fact of the matter is, I’m the victim of a shake down. There’s a group going round extorting money from venues in the metaverse. You pay them monthly and they ensure your reputation ‘remains intact’. I was approached a couple of months ago by one of their representatives. And I refused to pay, Mr Luck.”
Metaverse extortion. Suddenly, this case was altogether more interesting.
Part three will be published on Friday...