I stood unsure of myself as my new boss left. I had no idea what to do now. I have no experience at all for this and had no idea where to start. One step at a time, so they say. I introduced myself and asked who was in charge of keeping up the house. The cat girl raised her hand slowly and answered in a very cute and high pitch voice. I nodded and asked her for a tour and instructed the others to wait here for me. With a curt yes sir she led me to the lounge area just off the entrance. “What is your name?” I asked as I followed her in. “Pharaoh did not give me a name sir. Whenever addressing me he only referred to me as cat.” I thought about that as I watched her walk in front of me. Her figure was very attractive. I couldn’t help but watch her ass and swishing tail in front of me. “This is the lounge area sir, most often clients wish to sit here for drinks and sometimes to eat as they either decide who they wish to see or wait for their choice to be available. Not infrequently some clients will just want to relax here with a sexy companion for a while before going home.” I looked around the area. There were lots of heavily padded chairs and loveseat couches. Here and there were some large couches and coffee tables. I estimated perhaps 30 or 40 people could comfortably sit here without being too crowded. “Is the lounge area on the other side of the entrance set out the same way?” She simply nodded. “What is your given name? I don’t want to simply call you cat.” She smiled at me and answered after a thought, “Yes sir but it does not translate. All of my owners chose not to try and simply call me cat.” That was sad. I’m terrible at picking names. “I will call you Minnie”. She smiled and quickly gave me a jumping hug. “No one has ever given me a name before. Thank you so much sir.”
Instinctively I hugged her back. Minnie felt so soft. Her body hair was short but very soft and light. There was no denying the body underneath it though. I could feel happy tears hitting my shoulder. I didn’t really understand how it was such an emotionally charged moment. I set her down lightly. Minnie looked down shyly. “I’m sorry sir. It won’t happen again. I will keep my emotions to myself”. I gave her a quick hug, “Don’t worry about it. I prefer to know what is really going on so please don’t hide your feelings or thoughts”. Minnie led me through the lounge towards the back. I could a connecting hallway to the lounge on the opposite side. It was a wet bar prep area with a lot of familiar cocktail implements and storage for bottles and light food. I stepped in to look through what was there. I tried to pick up what looked like a basic cocktail shaker.
Item: Cocktail shaker
Requirements: Mixology Level 1
You are unable to use this item
The information came up in thin air next to the shaker in my hand. I picked up a few other items to test the information. I couldn’t use any of them without taking the mixology skill which I didn’t bother to do. Everything in here was of fine quality. Either we didn’t have very high end things or they were kept aside for special occasions but I didn’t doubt that these things were a notch or two above any other establishment outside of the inner city. At the back two hallways continued towards the rear of the house. They were each lined with basic bedrooms. I noticed none of the doors had locks. At the very back of the house there was a rear entrance from an alley, a kitchen, and several store rooms. They were all filled with dry goods, cleaning supplies, linens, and basic household items.
I asked Minnie to take me upstairs. I followed her past the other standing right where I left them. At the top where to two sets of stairs met much more decorative hallway led towards the back. The sides were lined with paintings, modest sculptures, and were well lit. The first thing we passed was a modest office. It was on the smaller side but looked comfortable and well appointed. I expected that is where I would be working from. There were a couple of smaller rooms that looked like private lounges or smoking rooms. These were clearly meant for a more intimate relaxing area for high value clients. The hallway ended and continued left and right. There were 4 very large bedrooms. They could rival any presidential suite back in the real world. Here every item was of exquisite quality. No expense had been spared for these 4 rooms. I could see that part of the connecting walls could be pulled back to open them all together. They seemed very thing though and I couldn’t see how they would give any privacy or noise protection. Looking closer I could see intricate designs painted in relief on each movable wall. They seemed to have an inner glow of some kind. I reached out to touch it.
Item: Runic spell
You are unable to identify this *********** or its function
As far as I knew this kind of thing hadn’t been seen before by any players. I’d never seen any mention of magical *********** in the forums or wikis. I suspected this would make the thing walls soundproof or maybe just made them act as if they were thicker. Whatever skill set it took to understand it I didn’t have.
I followed Minnie back to the top of the staircase. I asked for their attention. They turned around and all looked up at me. Suddenly unsure of myself I told them I would like to speak with each in turn up in the office. I asked Minnie to follow me in first. I went to sit behind the desk and told Minnie to sit in a chair in front of me. I decided to begin with a soft touch. “Minnie, what is your role here as far as you understand?” She looked at me with a nervous look, “Whatever you wish of me sir. I do not have any instructions”. Ok, this was going to be more difficult than I thought. She was either to afraid, unwilling, or just incapable of independent action. “What are you good at? What are your skills and background?” This time I got a questioning look. “Sir, can you not simply read my information? I thought all travelers could do this.” I felt like hitting myself. Newb mistake. I focused on Minnie and her information materialized just like it did with any tool.
Age: undetermined, young adult
Housekeeping - Level 32
Administration - Level 14
Oral sex - Level 23
Sex - Level 1 restricted to beastkin
Scribe - Level 9
Cooking - Level 18
Mixology - Level 12
Trading - Level 15
I thought about it. Her skill made her role pretty obvious. “Minnie you would clearly make a good housekeeper for the Sphinx. Is that what you would like to continue doing?” She looked down at her hands, “Yes sir, if that is what you wish me to do” I had to will myself not to sigh or roll my eyes. It would take baby steps. Very small baby steps. “Ok then. Go send in another and then you can go through the house and make sure everything is in order. We won’t be opening for a while but we will be living here until then.” She began to leave and then I thought of something. “Minnie, I want you to tell me at dinner what skill you want to improve most or a new skill you want to learn.” She replied with a customary yes sir and left. I met with each person and reviewed their information. They all had some pretty clean skills and experiences that I expected. A few random and odd things were mixed in that I had to clarify.
Occupation: Slave, The Sphinx
Sex - Level 34
Oral sex - Level 37
Anal sex - Level 28
Massage - Level 15
Dancing - Level 19
Singing - Level 6
Occupation: Slave, The Sphinx
Sex - Level 28
Oral sex - Level 32
Anal sex - Level 40
Dancing - Level 5
Massage - Level 6
Occupation: Slave, The Sphinx
Sex - Level 31
Oral sex - Level 20
Anal sex - Level 23
Massage - Level 10
Mixology - Level 12
Cooking - Level 11
Crafting - Level 18
Occupation: Slave, The Sphinx
Sex - Level 29
Oral Sex - Level 17
Anal Sex - Level 25
Massage - Level 13
Mixology - Level 14
Sex - Level 23
Oral Sex - Level 8
Anal Sex - Level 17
Breeding - Level 11 restricted
Wrestling - Level 25
Martial Arts - Level 21
Oral sex - Level 3
Cooking - Level 10
Mixology - Level 8
I would almost certainly need to find more people to work here. Six NPC escorts weren’t going to cut it for long. I tried to log out and work on a plan. To log out of a full immersion game it only required a direct conscience thought to bring up the button interface to “press” log out. Now normally you simply come back to your senses and remove the helmet, get out of your VR pod, or whatever you did depending upon your equipment. Instead my entire visions went to monochrome white. There were no edges, contrast, or defining features. Slowly a completely empty room came into focus out of the white nothingness. I seemed to be unable to move or cause anything to happen. Edges of what appeared to be a door appeared in front of me as what could only be described as an invisible door opened. Chris Price walked in. How did I know that? I’d never seen a picture of him that I remembered. Sure I knew the name and his role in game development but I shouldn’t have been able to recognize him. He walked a few yards into the room and began to sit down. Somehow there was a chair there for him. I didn’t even perceive it as appearing. The character creation room and process had some incongruous aspects but this was a level beyond that. He just looked at me. I couldn’t sense my own body. Was he waiting for me to say something? I couldn’t imagine how I could with no form. He smiled and gave me a little nod. “I see you haven’t really figured out what is really behind the game. You are the first to have truly interacted with The World. I guess I’m here to soon but now that I am I can’t take it back. This is unfortunate. Let me help you.” A moment after he said that I could sense my body. I had form again. Am I going crazy? Going from an incorporeal consciousness to immediately having a body should do something to me right? Maybe go into shock? Price just gave me a look like a disappointed father might and continued. “Yes, to soon for sure. Time to make lemonade as they say. You accepted a real contract in The World. Now normally you shouldn’t be able to leave until it’s conclusion. It would cause too much instability in The World. Instability isn’t the right word really but probably the only way you may grasp some of this. It's already very unstable but we can’t do anything about that. Sorry I’m rambling. There are two options for you. A legal representative of mine will be arriving at your apartment in about two hours, so you will have to decide by then.
Option one is very simple. Your character will be deleted, so to speak. You will also be banned from the game for life so you don’t cause this issue again. You will be refunded all costs associated with the game that you have incurred to date. I’ll even pay for your VR equipment to be nice.
Option two is not so simple. You will be offered an employment contract with an incredibly strict and expansive NDA clause as well as a truly medieval level of punitive measures for any violation of the agreement. You will come and work for us. You will not be allowed any contact with the outside world for the five years that you agreed to with Pharoah. Not exactly five years because the time isn’t exactly a 1-to-1 comparison with the real world but close enough. You will be paid a $250,000 annual salary that will be placed in escrow until the end of your contract. Everything you need for these five years will be provided for you and my agents will deal with any issues with your employer, outstanding arrangements such as your apartment lease, and provide a plausible story to your family and anyone asking after you. At our expense of course.”
Price finished his explanation and simply continued to regard me with a contemplative look. No matter how I tried I couldn’t respond in any way. I was for all practical purposes mute and paralized. There was that patronizing look again. I simply couldn’t understand. Sure I heard everything and knew what the words meant. But the wider context and meaning were lost. The most frustrating part was that I knew I was missing it. That if I could just think better I would understand. “You have a long way to go to simply survive. As it is your time is draining away so I will release from the game. It will either be your last time or not. Up to you in the end.” Price said in as dismissive a way as any I’d ever heard.
Just like that I was back in my room. It wasn’t too late into the evening yet. I had only been in the game for about 3 hours. I wasn’t sure what to believe. While I didn’t think I had made it up I couldn’t discount the idea that it was all just a weird game phenomena. Not a glitch per say but maybe part of an unfinished story line that shouldn’t have been released yet. I got online to look up Chris Price. Thanks to Google images I knew that is who had spoken to me. But the Price that I remembered in the game environment didn’t look like the same age as in reality. I would have guessed he was perhaps 30 instead of the 40 he reportedly was. That was a minor detail in any case. I decided to ignore the whole interaction. I got onto some game forums and starting writing posts for people to come work at the Sphinx. I thought it would be more fun to have real players as the escorts I would be in charge of instead of NPC characters. I made special note that any with verified identify would be eligible for additional compensation of some kind. I had no idea what or even if I should be paying people in game for the job so I kept it vague. I also had the idea that I shouldn’t tell anyone on an open forum which establishment I was in charge of yet. It was just a gut feeling.
Before I knew it, there was a hard knock on my door. On instinct I checked my phone as if I had forgotten something. A cold shiver rocked my spine. It had been just over two hours since I came back to reality. With a dry mouth I robotically went and opened the door. “Mr. John Micheals?”, asked one of two unassuming men in three piece suits? I had to swallow hard before answering yes. “We are here on behalf of Mr. Price. I understand you were expecting us. May we come in?” I stepped aside mechanically and motioned to kitchen table. One man sat without comment. The other pulled out two bound stacks of documents. One was the size of a textbook. The one laying out the documents continued dryly. “I am chief legal council for Mr. Price. I understand he verbally explained the situation. I am sure you understand his verbal explanation was legally non binding and can not be enforced against Mr Price. I am here to answer your questions and provide the legal contracts for either decision you make.” I was still holding the door open. He motioned to opposing chair. Closing the door I grabbed a large glass of water on the way to the table.
“What exactly is going on?” I asked after fixing the dry mouth issue.
“Did Mr Price not explain in a general overview of why we are here?”
“Yes, I think so. It was in the game and I didn’t even think it was legit”
“I assure you it was. I am here to receive your decision and conclude with the necessary legal paperwork. In the case of option number one I have a basic NDA form for you to sign as well as a copy of the game terms and conditions you agreed to upon registration that I will also need you signature on just for our personal records.”
The other man finally spoke up then as he put an envelope on the table. “I am Mr. Price’s financial manager. I have here a check in the amount of $5,000 which should more than cover the cost of your 6 month game sub***********ion as well as your VR gear. I assumed you had purchased high quality equipment and do not need to audit what you actually have unless you believe this is an insufficient amount.”
I told him that amount was fair. My average quality gear was sitting on the couch not 10 feet away from him. I could see that he had made note of it but I’m sure the five grand was to him the equivalent of the coins I had left on the counter behind him.
The lawyer then continued impartially and slid over the novel size stack of paper. “This is the employment contract if you choose to accept it. It is rather long and technical. I will summarize it by saying that you will not be allowed to discuss your work now or ever in the future. If you do you shall forfeit all income associated with Mr Price as well as be liable for punitive legal action. Your total compensation for the 5 year contract will me 1.25 million dollars which you shall receive in full at the conclusion of the contract. Do you have any questions?”
I had to force myself to drink and start thinking. It wasn’t the first time I had found myself in a meeting way beyond my understanding. “What if I wish to terminate the contract prior to the 5 year term?”
“You of course are legally allowed to do so. In that case you will be granted a prorated salary for the time committed. However I should advise you that in such a circumstance your only guarantee is transportation to the nearest source of public transportation and Mr. Price is not required to provide any other method of return.”
Considering the closest public transportation was likely a rural North Korean village bus stop I could easily see the implied threat. But then again what did I have to look forward to? Sure I had a decent job but I wouldn’t be getting a promotion any time soon. Why not take a gamble. “I would like a 50% increase of the salary and then I will be prepared to agree.”
The lawyer quickly pulled out a second copy of the thick contract. He obviously had several pre arranged contracts for different amounts in his briefcase. I should have asked for more.
“Please sign and initial where indicated.”
It took me a full 10 minutes to finally sign and initial everything. I didn’t read most of it and I would most likely regret that for sure. After I was done the lawyer packed up the completed contract and called someone and simply said we would be there in 30 minutes. No idea where there was. I was rushed to take only my essential things, including passport. I was then escorted down to a waiting SUV which we drove to a small private airport. The car stopped right beside the waiting stairs of a private gulfstream.