Chronicles of Kiera Freya Snippet Time!
This week we have a brand new series from the creative mind of Michael Anderle! This one is going to give you chills when you read it! Get ready for a whole new type of litRPG novel. One that will take you from the boardroom to the game room and back again. All while earning billions of dollars! Well, maybe not you, but hey, one can hope, right?
Here’s the first chapter, read, enjoy, and look for the link come Friday, June 21st!
Something was screeching at the top of its lungs, a grating sound that rattled the very bones of Chloe’s hollow skull. She rolled over, the light from her alarm clock causing her to squint as she slapped a hand on top. Once…twice…third time’s the charm.
She sat up slowly, the pounding hangover taking her. Her mouth tasted like someone had opened it and taken a dump straight inside. Her hair stood out at all angles. She closed her eyes, rested her head against the wall and tried to recall what the hell had happened.
Cosmos at some hipster joint on the square. Chloe and her girlfriends gossiping and living the high-life. Weekend binges and shopping sprees. Her girlfriends pulling the guys while she sat and held their bags. Round after round on Chloe, the youngest daughter of the Lagarde legacy. It was all she had ever known.
Then why didn’t it feel right anymore?
“Good morning, Miss Lagarde,” Tabitha, Chloe’s personal assistant, said. Chloe jumped. How long had she been standing there?
“Already? Can’t I have a few more hours?”
“Actually, I was being polite. It’s almost noon, and you have appointments to keep. Your father won’t be pleased if you miss them.” Tabitha studied her tablet, tapping the screen and casting the information to a projector built into the end of Chloe’s bed. A holographic image appeared several feet from Chloe’s face.
“Wow. Much excite,” Chloe said, scanning the list of board meetings and project reviews with bleary eyes. Things she had learned to abhor after she realized she offered no real value to them. Her brothers and sisters? They came prepared. They knew the ins and outs. Chloe just sat quietly in the corner, nodding at the right moments and casting votes whenever necessary.
“Can’t you just tell my father to shove it? And Mother too, for that matter.”
Tabitha rolled her eyes. “For the millionth time, Miss Lagarde, your mother and father are my employers, not you. My job is to serve the family and ensure that you are where you need to be at the right times.” She checked her watch. “Speaking of which, in ten minutes, you will be exactly one minute late for your weekly appointment with Mr. Smythe.”
Chloe sat up, cleared her throat, and said in her best version of a pompous British woman, “Well, we wouldn’t want that, would we, Tabitha? If you would be so kind as to get me some ibuprofen, a sick bag, and something to comb the chunks of last night’s meal out of my hair, I’ll gladly chop-chop toward Master Smythe’s quarters.” She paused, putting her finger on her chin before pointing it into the air. “Lickety-split!”
Tabitha rolled her eyes once more and left the room.
Chloe made it to the office exactly three minutes late. The ibuprofen had kicked away some of the headache, but she still felt the overwhelming sense of shame that was customary after an evening of late-night drinking. She rapped on the door three times, heard the cursory, “Come in,” and took her place on the couch.
“Heavy night?” Demetri said without even turning to look at Chloe. He was prepared, one leg crossed over the other and a notepad in hand with which he scribbled notes feverishly. Chloe always hated that. Before she’d even opened her mouth, she was being judged. If it hadn’t been a condition of her receiving her full inheritance, she’d likely have blown off every last one of these sessions. It wasn’t like they’d helped her at all over the years.
“Something like that,” Chloe said, tapping her fingers on her chest. “You know, I’ve always thought it’d be fun to bring my own notepad and write my notes about you during our sessions. See how you’d like it.”
Demetri looked over the rim of his glasses. “And how would that make you feel?”
Despite herself, Chloe chuckled. As useless as these sessions had been, he’d always had a knack of making her laugh.
“So what is it today, Doc? Going to probe my subconscious? Take another trip down memory lane? Going to dive down farther into my deep-seated family issues and tell me why every one of my siblings is a success and I’m just a layabout who pisses away her money on the weekends with a bunch of girls who only use me for it?”
Chloe’s face straightened. She definitely hadn’t meant to say that much.
Demetri straightened in his chair. “Something like that.” He smirked. “Chloe, I’ve known you and your family for a great number of years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve always been astounded by, it’s the question of how can such a rich, talented, successful, charismatic family raise six children, yet only five of them inherited the characteristics of the mother and father?”
Chloe rolled her eyes and crossed her arms as if to say, “Oh, here we go again.”
“I mean, it doesn’t make sense. If we break this down into theory and look at the nature versus nurture debate, there’s no reason that this should be so.” Demetri stood up and moved to the bookshelf, eyeing the tomes as if studying them. “If we look at Freud or Frankl or Skinner or Pavlov, there’s nothing there that correlates or makes sense.”
“Bring it on, Doc. Tell me I’m a failure. Tell me I bring shame to my ridiculously talented family. Tell me I’m the mortal among the gods. I can take it. It’s not like I haven’t tried to keep up with the Kardashians.”
“You don’t… You’ve never watched… Never mind.”
Demetri turned his attention back to the shelf, humming a little as he did so. He thumbed through a stack of books and extracted a thin, colorful item. “You know what you are?” He spun the book, displaying a cover that showcased a fluffy gray duck swimming amid its bright yellow siblings.
Chloe squinted at the cover. “A rat?”
“No.” Demetri chuckled. “An ugly duckling.”
“A duckling who just needs some encouragement and persuasion to reach the heights of her brothers and sisters.” He flicked through the pages, showing the duckling as it left its family, only to return as a beautiful swan. “Sometimes, it simply takes the removal of a person from their natural environment to discover who they are inside. To discover where their strengths lie, and what can help them excel in the world.” He replaced the book on the shelf. “A flower cannot grow in the shade.”
“So what are you suggesting? That I run off to Ibiza and spend some time discovering myself? Because I could really get on board with that.” Chloe’s wrist vibrated. She looked at her watch, noting the reminder that her next meeting was due to start in 20 minutes.
“Not exactly,” Demetri said, returning to his seat. He picked up a tablet, unlocked the screen, and passed it to Chloe.
“Finally! You’re ditching the pen and paper for something digital. I told you, Doc! Welcome to the twenty-first century. You don’t need paper anymore.” Chloe looked at the screen in her hand. There was an image of a blackened piece of glass in the shape of a rough-cut diamond. “What’s ‘Obsidian?’”
Demetri leaned forward, encouraging Chloe to swipe the screen as he went through the information Mia had given him, describing the fully immersive experience of the online virtual reality game and paying particular attention in relaying the potential well-being and health benefits the game offered its players. There were in-game images that looked as if a photo had been taken at a Renaissance fair, only with advanced CGI graphics for the trolls, dragons, and goblins.
“You see? With this, you can dive into a world in which you’re no longer a Lagarde. You can build colonies and alliances and guilds and towns and hash out any issues you have in the real world. You’ll start as a nobody from scratch. I can monitor you as you go, and we can track your progress as you develop. A clean slate.”
“This looks amazing,” she said, flicking through the screens. Her shoulders slumped as a realization struck her. “But you know my mother and father will never allow this, not with all the meetings and events I’m scheduled to attend. When will I ever get a chance to play?”
“That’s the best part,” Demetri said, handing over a crisp white sheet of paper with her father and mother’s scrawling signature at the bottom. “I’ve already spoken to your parents. You’re officially off-duty for the next two years. Doctor’s orders.” He winked.
“Two… Wait. I can do whatever I want for the next two years without a single interruption from my family?”
“You sure can,” Demetri said, pointing to the tablet. “As long as it’s in that world. You heard me say that it’s a fully immersive experience, right?”
Chloe didn’t know what to say. The idea that she could literally leave her life behind and see what her world would be like out from under the shadow of her family was an absolute dream. Would she miss them? Sure. But two years wasn’t forever, and the promises and benefits Obsidian offered seemed unbelievable. Almost too good to be true.
Which made her pause.
“Hold on a minute. What’s the catch?”
Demetri held out a second piece of paper. The black Obsidian logo on the top right, and there was a monetary figure in bold on the middle of the page. “This game is in early development. You will be among the first players to jump in and test out the environment. This could be your legacy, Chloe.” He held out a pen, clicking the top. “Are you ready to make your first real investment?”