Time for War
A few days after the boss fight with Hygon, Trent was talking to Mr. Vermillion in a simulated room. The Vermillion Entertainment CEO had set up a meeting time, and Trent obliged by Diving and joining the call. As with his old classroom programs, Tent was dressed exactly as he was physically as he reclined on his bed in Nevada.
Jacob Vermillion had found out about the threat to Trent’s family. Trent wasn’t sure what he was more surprised about, the big man apologizing for the oversight, or his offering to pick up the tab for the security company, effective immediately.
The little virtual meeting room wasn’t as lifelike as SOO, but it was close. Jacob paced his side of the table; the man’s arms were folded and he was scowling. “Like I said, Trent, I’m really sorry that any of this happened in the first place. The person who is responsible for indirect streamer welfare has been terminated. I’m not trying to point a finger, I’m just telling you this so you don’t think that my company didn’t care.”
“Yes, that’s what you sai—” began Trent.
Jacob held up a hand. “No, this is a serious matter. We may be one of the larger streaming companies, but something you may not know is that until you came along, we didn’t have any high-profile streamers. By that, I mean the top five in the world. You and your group are obviously on that level.
“My employee did not touch base with my security team about your family’s situation. I think a lot of people had just assumed it was taken care of. So as I said earlier, I want to pay for the service you’ve already hired to protect your family, and volunteer a Vermillion Entertainment asset as well.”
Deep down, Trent still felt some anger and resentment towards Vermillion Entertainment, but he had to admit that Jacob seemed sincere. From the beginning of the meeting, the big man had seemed legitimately upset. “How did you find out about all of this in the first place?” he asked.
Jacob stopped pacing and sighed. “Your mother called and told us. She called customer service and spent all day on the phone. Believe it or not, she did finally get through to me. I think she’s the first person ever to do that. Now she has my cell phone number.”
“What?” exclaimed Trent. He knew his mama could be fierce, but to think she had browbeaten an entire business? He wasn’t sure whether to be horrified or amused.
“Yes. It’s not every day that a streamer’s mother tells me directly how lax my company has been. The worst part of it was, she was right. She immediately understood what must have happened when you moved your entire family. It’s why she said she didn’t argue with you.”
Trent felt his head spin. It was the strangest sensation ever to be in his early 20s and still feel like his mom was talking to adults over his head. “So, what now?”
“Well, we obviously can’t make up for the Monarch Stone that you gave up.” Jacob looked incredibly embarrassed. “I actually had a meeting with some of my executives about this matter before meeting with you, Trent. I want you to understand that this issue has shaken my company from the top to the bottom. I want you to know how personally I take this. Not only would I be appalled as a person if anything happened to your family, but could you imagine what it would have done to my company?
“How many streamers would want to join a company that can’t even keep its employees’ families safe?”
“Okay, you have a point,” said Trent. “Wait, are you trying to say I should have contacted Vermillion? Who could I have even talked to?”
Jacob sighed. “That was one of the issues my leadership team and I have been hammering out. The short version of the changes we made is that Florinia, your asset coordinator, basically got another promotion. She’s been elevated to a level she can contact anyone in the company. If anything like this happened again, you could contact Florinia and she’d be able to take immediate action directing any appropriate resources in the company.
“This will never happen again, Trent. We’ve asked your family to live in a secure Vermillion Entertainment house as long as you’re a streamer. Your mom said she’s considering it. We’re making sure that your family won’t be otherwise inconvenienced.”
“Wow, I’m impressed,” said Trent. And he was. The fact that Jacob wasn’t trying to deny the tough spot he’d been in was actually going a long way. “What about this asshole, Miguel Veneno, though? And how did you know about the Monarch Stone?”
Jacob grinned and said, “You are still a streamer, Trent. As soon as your mom spoke to me, directly mind you, on the phone, I’ve had a number of people getting to the bottom of this entire mess. As for this Miguel person, we still don’t know who he is, which is strange, to say the least.”
“Will you keep me posted?”
“Yes, absolutely. And while I can’t make up for the Monarch Stone you gave up, I doubt you would have wanted to use it anyway.”
“Yeah, I really didn’t want to become a barrel monster with wings and tentacles and no real head anymore,” said Trent. “But I’m still furious that those rat bastards got a hold of it after threatening my family.” The old, familiar heat started rising in his chest again, but he pushed down on it. Now was not the time to let the rage rise up. There’d be time for that later.
“True, the First Things race is pretty hideous-looking. I am actually not sure how the game would even work for a human player in the body of a creature like that. But regardless, that in-game item was worth a lot of money. You lost it because our company had an oversight. I want to make it up to you.”
“What do you mean?” Trent said warily.
Jacob beamed. “As one of the larger entertainment companies in the world, we have access to information the general public doesn’t. We have a direct relationship with Yggdrasil Entertainment, and they sometimes tell us things ahead of time.
“To celebrate their one-year anniversary and the fact that several Monarch Stones have been used, Yggdrasil is launching a patch in a week.” Jacob smiled, obviously excited.
“Yes. Official PVP is coming to SOO—something to do with the First Things players wanting to take over the game world. Basically, factions are being implemented.”
“Okay, but we have player-versus-player fighting, now,” Trent said. He didn’t understand where the conversation was going.
“Ah, you don’t get it!” said Jacob, practically bouncing on his toes. “There are going to be official, country-level war quests. Parties are going to be expanded from five players to six, and Yggdrasil is introducing airships.”
“Airships? Seriously?” Trent had not expected that.
“Yes, airships. What’s more, to help make up for your loss of the Monarch Stone, I’m putting you in charge of our company’s airships. We got two of them from Yggdrasil, and we’re giving them to you and the other streamer team living in your compound.”
“Wait, what?” Trent shook his head and said, “This is all a lot to—”
“Oh, but that’s not the best part,” said Jacob, grinning. “While on PVP quests or in PVP status, players will have chances for great rewards, more XP, and, most importantly, death lockout times will be an hour per day. This means you’ll only be out for seven hours if you die.”
“What do you mean?” asked Trent.
“Look, as a human character, you normally get locked out for seven days if you die, right? That will now be seven hours if you die while fighting a war. The Abyssal Ones have a lockout of two days, right? So they’ll be locked out for two hours if they die in official PVP combat.”
Trent’s jaw dropped. With respawn times of less than half a day, players all over the world would play in a completely different way.
Jacob Vermillion laughed out loud. “In addition to the ships, I have one new player in particular I would like to join your team, if you’re okay with it. I think you’re going to like him.”
Trent blinked and leaned back in his virtual chair. He had a lot to process, but from the sounds of it, his group was going to war.
After a few moments, he decided he was fine with that. If the First Things leader was involved, he’d gladly join the fight.
Nobody was allowed to threaten his mama in the real world and just get away with it.