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by Mouser
Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2153346
Virtual Reality has its problems
The King

          The villain was defeated and the city was in mid-celebration. The hero was still in the control room after defeating the evil scheme with a sword in his right hand and a small, potent pistol in his left.
          The girl, Helena, was clinging to his chest. Her big tears of relief and joy were on his shoulder. He kissed her forehead and directed the last of his loyal followers to find someone to clean up the room. The last fight had been as vivid as his more and more jaded tastes could make it.
          He remembered the mad fight up the stairwell with ten picked men from his guard. Another mad whirl of bodies and death filled his memories.
          VR of this level operated based on the tastes of the player almost as much as the program. Judging by the ruins around him his tastes were getting awfully entangled with the fight more than the goal. They reminded him of the action movies of a century ago when people just watched the poor hero get beat up saving the day.
          Now he was panting with VR induced exertion, and winced with VR induced minor wounds to keep it real – to keep a penalty for not fighting hard enough.
          “Oh, M'Lord let me tend your wounds,” insisted Helena after a lingering victory kiss. She lead him to a convenient divan and called for his troopers to bring her dressing materials.
          They obeyed of course, she was a Princess of the blood.
          Her diaphanous gown did not as much cover as accent her voluptuous body. She reminded him sharply of the sleazier games possible in many venues. He had no desire to have some perverse techie watching him living out fantasies.
          As with most highly detailed VR Experience (VRE) programs this one had required monitors to handle the potential medical danger as well as to prompt the player back toward the main plot eventually. He always wondered how many people got tied up in brothels and affairs forgetting the plot for a long affairs.
          “M'lord Dugan,” one of his guards broke in on his thoughts.
          “Yes,” he answered trying not to wince as Helena bound a sword gash on his right forearm. He welcomed the diversion.
          “What do we do with the remainder of the Pretender's Guard?” he asked glancing at a half dozen prisoners huddled by the down stairwell.
          “Ask for Oaths of Peace in the Kingdom and offer them an escort out of the borders, or the chance to take the basic oath to defend the peace of the land.
          “Just for all our sake find the real rascals before offering the latter.”
          “It will be as you say, M'Lord.”
          The hero rose and stretched thinking that it was about the time for the computer monitor program to cut in to announce the game's successful resolution.
          Instead he was staring at the shapely back of Helena ordering the guard to find a retiring room where Lord Dugan might recover from his exertions.
          There was an odd flavor to the experience without the sense of mission which overlay all the first half of the VRE.
          At one hundred and twelve he found himself making these VR experiences a more and more frequent part of his life. He could afford it, and his children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren were all caught up in the real work world to spend much time with the old man.
          He shrugged and felt the double armful of Helena press herself to his left side. He looked down into the adoring brown eyes he had inadvertently chosen to look so much like his first wife's. She had been gone for more than forty years but when he thought of a woman it was almost always her mocking smile.
          He kissed this one. The hell with the VRE monitors, she was young and beautiful and here he was a handsome young hero. It was what the hero was supposed to do.
          The Guard escorted them to King Methran when he arrived an hour later and the crowds of the great city roared their approval. The King joined the hands his only daughter to that of the adventurer who had saved them all, announcing to all his approval of the union of the two heroes of the kingdom.
          The city already celebrating the downfall of the tyrant went wild with the wonderful news of the marriage, a just reward, which would also give the land a strong young King when they needed one.
          Subjective years have passed for the hero king, he and his lovely wife had four strong children, renewing the royal line.
          For days at a time the young King would be so involved in parenting and ruling that he would forget to wonder about the end of the game. It just began to be natural to be King of the land with a beautiful Queen on his arm.
          There were wars to be fought and all manner of enemies to deal with but being King it all seemed part of the job.

          “So let me get this straight,” the hero's eldest son said evenly, trying to hold his temper, “My Father is ignoring Game Over signals and writing more game plots as he goes along?”
          “More or less, sir,” the president of the VR firm tried to explain, “You see people come out when the story is over.
          “He's making his up as he goes along,” he shrugged helplessly.
          “We ought to sue you into bankruptcy,” snarled the angry son.
          “Grandpa,” laughed Tina a teenager, “Think about it. He's young and strong again, has a kingdom to rule and defend.
          “You really expect him to return to being old and alone most of the time?” she asked,”I wouldn't if I had the choice and he's apparently chosen one.”
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