Feature #4

This came off the Forever Knight FanFic list. I thought it was absolutely hilarious, so I decided to share it here. If you do not have a clue what Forever Knight is, then I suggest that you either not read this, or check out the The Forever Knight FAQ before going any further.

Hi all! There's some bad words in here, but my muse decided they were necessary for the full effect of the dialogue. If you are under 18 or are offended by a few curses, please delete this. I also had to take some liberties with the layout of Nick's building because I don't have SciFi and can't remember exactly how it looked. And I didn't know how many vampires were in residence at the Raven, so I improvised that as well. Thanks to Robi for assistance. Enjoy!

The Age of Technology
by Sue O'Reilly
A Forever Knight story

Natalie Lambert was extremely pissed off.

Nick was supposed to pick her up an hour ago. He hadn't shown up, hadn't even had the decency to call. She deeply hoped that something terrible had happened to him, because it would save her the trouble of doing it herself.

She had a lot of work invested in this evening. Nick had finally stopped breaking into hysterical laughter at the mention of the word "curling", but it had taken weeks to make him agree to try it. Cajoling, threats, bribes, extortion--it made her head ache just to think about it all. She was beginning to wonder why she'd ever cared what he thought about the sport. But it was too late to stop. You didn't swim three-quarters of the way across a river and turn back because you couldn't remember your reason for diving into the water. She'd be damned if she was going to give up now.

Especially since she *knew* her happy little vampire buddy was at home. His phone line had been busy every time she called. Natalie smiled grimly as she inserted her key in the door. He was going to regret giving her a copy.

The elevator slid open and she stalked out, yelling, "NICK!"

Which she instantly regretted, as several pairs of vampire eyes looked up in response.

<Oh, *shit*,> she thought frantically, backing up into the elevator, realizing that she'd once again forgotten to wear the cross Nick had given her, that she hadn't eaten garlic in weeks, that...

That it didn t seem to matter. Nothing was happening. No one was trying to rip open her jugular, an observation she could make with relative confidence since it would be a difficult point to miss.

She peered into the dim room cautiously. Though it was noisy, filled with yells and snarls and curses, none of the commotion appeared to be aimed at her. There were actually more than a dozen vampires scattered around the large living room and most hadn't bothered to look up from their computer screens. On second appraisal she even recognized some of them from infrequent visits to the Raven. Vlad, who was one of the bartenders, and Alma, Urs--

<Hang on...computer screens?>

No, she didn't need glasses. Every single one of the vampires was hunched over his or her own computer; the room was strewn with cords and power strips. They all seemed to be playing some sort of game, albeit a very loud and emotion-producing game. The din was terrible.

Natalie was starting to feel slightly foolish. She'd been hiding in the doorway of the elevator for several minutes now, holding her purse in front of her like a shield. She straightened up slowly and risked another step into the room itself.

Once again there was a noticeable lack of vampires going for her throat.

She didn't understand this at all. It was like being an atheist who couldn't get a conversation going in a roomful of Jehovah's Witnesses.

"Um...excuse me, Alma?" She tried one of the female vampires she'd met briefly, who had seemed fairly pleasant and rational.

"You asshole, that's my ammunition! Give it back!" the pretty young vampire shrieked at her computer. "Oh, you're gonna pay for that!"

Okay, maybe not so pleasant and rational. "Alma?"

"What?" Alma grudgingly spared a glance from her game. "Oh, hello, Dr. Lambert."

"Hello," Natalie said carefully. "Do you know where Nick is? We had something planned for--"

"Yes! You don't know what PAIN IS!" Alma howled triumphantly, hammering her fingers down on one of the keys. "What? Oh, Nick's upstairs. Lucky bastard, he's got the big speakers."

Natalie didn't even try to decipher that comment. "Thank you." She backed up quickly and stabbed the button for the next floor. It was with no small amount of relief that she watched the doors slide shut.

Until, that is, they slid open again and she was nearly knocked to the floor by a wave of deafening sound. Stunned, she clamped her hands over her ears.

'He's got the big speakers' was now fairly self-explanatory.

Detective Nick Knight was crouched over his computer like a man possessed--or like a vampire possessed, which is a slightly more impressive sight. He had rigged the system's sound to a set of speakers that would fit in nicely at Stonehenge, and the machine-gun fire pouring out of them was terrifying. Natalie saw the huge volume dial, ran for it, and twisted it sharply, saving her eardrums from imminent destruction.

"--blow your ass away! YAAAAAAAAAA! Take that!" Nick was screaming when the gunfire quieted to a safer level.

Natalie finally found her voice. "Nick! What the hell are you *doing*?"

His eyes barely flickered from the screen. "Oh, hey, Nat. Don't interrupt me, I'm deathmatching against Vachon!"

"You're *what*?" She thought she'd been angry on the way over, but this was getting ridiculous. "Nick, you were supposed to pick me up!"

"Wait, wait! I've almost got the Spanish bastard!"

He showed no indication of hearing her. Mentally lashing her temper down with duct tape, Natalie walked up behind him and took a look at the computer screen. It was a 3-D view, showing endless gray walls and rooms. Something was protruding from the bottom of the screen as well, a gun of some kind. Nick was operating it with amazing speed; the point of view rushed along hallways so fast that it almost made Natalie dizzy. Impatiently she broke in, "Stop with the game, all right? We were supposed to go curling an hour ago and--"

"THERE HE IS!" Nick yelled, nearly leaping out of his chair. "Say your prayers, Javier!"

And Natalie watched, aghast, as Nick cocked the gun--a shotgun, she could see now--and fired at a dim shape in the distance. The point of view moved forward like lightning, shotgun still blazing away, and a man in combat gear shrieked as his chest was blown open and spread over the floor. The body crumpled to the floor.

To which Nick reacted like a kid on Christmas morning. He let out an ear-splitting yelp of joy, throwing his arms up in the air, and crowed, "Yes! Knight wins again! The crowd goes wild!"

Natalie stared at him, open-mouthed. "Nick, are you insane? What kind of sick game *is* this?"

He stared right back. "What, you live in a box? You never heard of DOOM?"

She shook her head. "You mean to tell me..." she began slowly, "that you didn t pick me up because of this computer game?"

"I started playing last week. You can play by yourself, or call someone else and play against them. Best invention since the blood bank," he asserted. "We were supposed to go curling? Oh, well. Must have forgotten."

And he turned back to the computer, immediately firing up another game.

To have a fight with someone, it is vitally important that they realize you are having one, and fight back. Natalie could feel herself losing momentum as Nick emptied his gun cheerfully into a dozen identical soldiers. "But what are all those vampires doing downstairs?" she demanded, trying hard to keep the venom going.

"Them? LaCroix kicked them out of the Raven."

"And you let them come *here*?" she said incredulously.

He shrugged. "Why not? They're not rich, you know. They spent practically all their money on the computers. Either I let them stay with me or they'd be doing the flambe shuffle at sunrise."

<Flambe shuffle?> "I need to sit down," Natalie said weakly.

The old Nick Knight, an officer and a gentleman, would have leaped up find her a seat. This Nick merely pointed with his chin, eyes fixed on the screen, saying, "I think there s an extra milk crate over there somewhere. If the gang downstairs didn't take them all."

She gave him a look that suggested she was reviewing dissection procedures in her head. Unfortunately, Nick was too busy dissecting demons with a chainsaw to appreciate it.

"You aren't worried about having all of them here? The other vampires?" she asked, sinking down on a cardboard box.

"Nah. Nobody bothers to actually *fight* anymore. DOOM' a much better way to resolve your differences," he said. "And they don't want to take the time to hunt, so they just drink cow blood. I figure this game's saved dozens of lives by now.

Natalie gaped at him. There had to be some way to argue with that logic, but she couldn't think out exactly *how* right now. She took refuge in sarcasm instead. "So LaCroix kicked them out? Thank god there's one vampire with the sense to avoid this game."

"What? Oh, no. He got paranoid that they were messing with his WAD files while he was sleeping," Nick explained.

Natalie had the distinct feeling she was trapped on a verbal merry-go-round with no exits in sight. "What's a WAD file?" she asked helplessly.

"Computer files of different levels. We were bored with the original ones, so everybody started designing their own."

"And LaCroix...?" She didn't want to hear this. She *knew* she didn't want to hear this.

"He's working on a special deathmatch level set in Roman catacombs. It's for the big competition next weekend. He bought a server and a bunch of extra phone lines--we'll all be able to play simultaneously!" The enthusiasm in his voice made Natalie close her eyes. "Whoever survives will win the Deathmatch trophy, so fairness is very important. I hope somebody finally wins it away from Danny."

Natalie's eyes shot open. "Danny?" she squeaked. "Nick, she's only fourteen!"

"Fourteen, my ass! You ought to see her with a rocket launcher," he spat. "That brat's killed me more times than I can count. She's the one who got everybody playing."

A beep sounded from somewhere in the computer equipment. "That s Janette!" Nick announced gleefully. "I shotgunned her to hell last night and now she's back for more."

"Janette? Where is she?" Natalie asked, startled. Nick had been very upset when Janette disappeared, and he certainly hadn't mentioned being in touch with her.

He was typing away furiously, establishing a connection, and he shrugged at her question. "Ah, who knows? She's got a modem, that's all that counts." Seconds later he was distracted again, running through the corridors and sweeping every corner with a huge machine gun. "Come on, get out here where I can kill you!"

This was too much. Natalie leaned over and put her head between her knees.

It mattered not in the least to Nick Knight. The silence from Natalie was easily filled with shouting and cursing in several languages, the roar of weapons fire, and the hideously explicit sounds of injury that echoed from the speakers.

When she was feeling more in control of herself, Natalie raised her head wearily. She was just in time to see a line of red-lettered text appear at the top of Nick s screen.


"Fists? Fucking right!" Nick screamed in delighted fury. "Bring it on! I'll show *you* who fights like a mortal, you bitch!"

"Nick!" Natalie was stunned; she'd never heard him talk like this before.

He completely misunderstood the horror in her voice. "Oh, don't worry, she can't hear me," he assured her. "The game doesn't have a voice pickup. I have to type it into the keyboard."

Natalie was afraid to stop and consider any of this for too long; her brain might spontaneously combust. "What does 'fists' mean?"

"You and your opponent agree to put your weapons away. Kind of like a duel, you know? You can't get most of those goddamn younger ones to do it, they just shoot you in the face when you put your gun away."

"Kids are funny that way," she said steadily.

"Damn straight," Nick agreed. He leaned even closer to the screen, his left hand pounding at the keyboard. "Your ass is mine, Janette!"

<I refuse to have this conversation for one second longer.> Natalie told herself firmly. She picked up her purse and headed for the elevator. It was a wonderful feeling to take some measure of control in a world suddenly filled with vampires playing computer combat video games.

Nick didn't even notice her departure. An extremely colorful-sounding stream of French followed the elevator's descent to the garage.

There was one small good side to this, a shell-shocked Natalie decided as she drove home. A cure for vampirism now looked easy compared to a cure for DOOM.

What d'you think? Give it to me! I can take the abuse, I play DOOM!
I hope I caught all the apostrophes this time. Let me know if you see a
mistake, okay?


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