Loading... Chapter Forty Six
Owen stood with Andreah for a while as a party went on around them. They were newer on the scene, but had gathered enough attention on the stream to officially be included where the 'big leagues' partied. Owen recognized more and more people every time he went to these things. The easiest to spot was Elliot. He was the real life version of the cardboard cut-out Owen saw in the fnVR lobby. The tuff of brown hair on top of a pastel purple undercut must make it nearly impossible for the graphics department to match him to his avatar. The host of #Rehashed was also here. Owen recognized her voice before he found the group she was standing in.
Instinctively, Owen felt like he should listen from having the show on almost daily. It didn't take long before Andreah shifted away like someone who wanted to flip the channel. "I'm gonna go get a drink, do you want something?" she asked.
Owen shook his head. "No, thanks though."
Andreah turned on her heel and left as Owen watched her for as long as he could. They still hadn't really talked about things or established what their relationship was now. He figured she didn't feel obligated to hang around him all night, and wandered around until someone ended up inviting him over.
"Hi, I'm Asha. I'm a streamer too, and one of Tiansheng's friends." Owen only knew the second name because that was the username of the item hoarder who constantly bested him on the leaderboards. When the small Latina girl saw the name register with him, she perked up. "I've been hoping to run into you. We all would love to chat with you a bit."
Owen wasn't sure who she meant by 'we' but with a shrug, he agreed.
She brought Owen over to a corner that was roped off, even though he didn't quite know why. It wasn't on a higher platform, nor did it appear to be an official VIP section. More like they had just claimed this area and someone let them.
With a username like Tianshena, he assumed the player had an Asian background. Only one person of three fit that bill. Asha soon confirmed his guess with a proper introduction.
"You're that role-player, right?" Tianshena asked, as he sat forward to grab a finger sandwich off the table.
"Yeah." If Owen sounded unsure, it was because the question sounded like a judgment. Perhaps Tianshena was one of those people who 'didn't play for the story.'
"That's pretty cool," replied the other man on the couch. Owen hadn't recognized him until he spoke. This was Hank, the co-host of The Rundown. "We caught your last stream."
That refocused Owen's attention. As much as he wanted to say Daniel was his, and that he didn't care if anyone else knew his story, he still did. He wanted people to care.
"Yeah, but didn't you want more that night?" Hank said. "I would have taken her right then."
"Excuse me?" Owen asked, being formal instead of cursing.
Tianshena slapped his friend on the arm. "He can't do that sort of thing now that she's not an NPC."
Owen blinked hard. "I think you misunderstand. Amilia isn't there to fulfill my, or Daniel's, desires. She's a person. She should have a say in the matter. NPC or not. You can't just discard that because you think your male entitlement is worth more."
Tianshena was taken back enough that he sat up. No one moved, except for Asha who shifted uncomfortably on her heels. "What is this PC bullshit?" Hank blurted.
Tiansheng fixed his eyes on Asha. "You've never complained, so why do you look so uncomfortable?"
"Well...I mean, I don't disagree with what Owen is—"
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...