3 The Meeting
Tai was sitting on the carved out marble steps leading up to the administration building of the university. It had been just over two hours since he arrived back on campus and had just left the impromptu ambush of a meeting that was setup for him. Sitting there with his head tilted upward staring at the clouds Tai was trying to wrap his head around everything.
"Excuse me do you know where Professor Hoil's class is?" a peckish voice asked startling Tai from his thoughts. He shook his head quickly before looking around to find a young woman about five feet in height wearing a bright blue sundress standing in front of him.
"Oh I'm sorry, I graduated last year and I've never heard of that professor before" Tai replied and smiled. The girl thanked him and apologized for intruding on his peace before making her way to the administrative building.
Tai couldn't blame her for asking after all he looked like your typical college student, messy black hair, hazel eyes, a dark green t-shirt with the university name on it and blue jeans. You wouldn't know it by looking at him sat on the steps but Tai was taller than most of his classmates had been, standing at roughly six foot two. Some would describe him as having an athlete's build, tall and well built. Growing up he had taken advantage of having gym equipment and weights in his parent's basement. Eventually in college he shied away from lifting weights and instead started lifting his in-game characters to their fullest potential.
After being pulled out of his thoughts, Tai reached into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone. While doing so the business card he was handed a little bit ago fell out of his pocket and landed on the steps between his feet. Reaching down and picking the card up, he held it in his hand for a moment, rereading the information before tucking it away again. Now searching through his phone for a number Tai slowly got to his feet and started walking away from the university and into town. Finding the number he was searching for Tai dialed and waited for someone to pick up as he walked by the college bookstore and one of the cities higher end clothing stores, Bailey & Son's.
"Yo, what's up man it's been a bit, how's things hanging?" a chipper soft toned male voice asked through the phone.
"Hey Lee, I'm good, listen are you free to grab lunch today? I know it's short notice but I'm in the city so was just curious." Tai asked as he continued to walk down the street passing many small storefronts.
"Haha of course man I'll meet you at the usual spot in ten?" replied Lee.
"Cool, see you in a few." Tai replied before hanging up. He was halfway through the city at this point and was headed to a Korean barbecue spot that him and his best friend Lee Ru had frequented while in school.
The walk wouldn't be too bad it was only a few more blocks, however, the few minutes there felt like an eternity as Tai replayed the events of early this morning.
Sitting across from him was this somewhat older gentleman who had just handed him a business card. Red Sun Studios, the Game Developer for Dynasty Empire, whose ad he had just seen moments prior while on the tram. Tai could only question if this man, Jin Park, had setup the advertisement to run when he assumed Tai would be on the tram.
"How could he know...did he have that kind of control?" Tai murmured to himself as he stepped up to the glass door of a restaurant. 'Mee King's Korean BBQ' the words on the neon sign flashed. Tai pushed the door open and made his way inside.
Mee King's was a small establishment with two floors and enough seating for roughly one hundred guests. Having been a frequent customer Tai knew his way around and quickly made his way upstairs, waving at the staff that he recognized as he walked passed. Up the stairs, rounding the corner, Tai looked around before spotting someone sat down in the back booth.
"Yo! Tai, I got us the usual booth man." Lee said as he beckoned Tai to join him. Tai walked down to the both and sat down across from his buddy.
Lee was roughly the same height as Tai with a matching build. Schoolmates and friends always used to joke about how Tai and himself had to be twins. Few features set them apart, like Lee's bright blue eyes and what appeared to be recently dyed hair. Sitting in the booth in a gray hoodie and sweatpants Tai couldn't see his hair till he sat down.
"What is this?!" Tai asked laughingly as he reached across the table to flip Lee's hoodie back revealing the bright blue hair.
"Hey now! I told you i was going to do it eventually, don't laugh! My parents already don't want me over for dinner tomorrow." Lee sneered a bit as he pulled his head away from Tai's hand. "They don't want to be embarrassed by me" he continued, air quoting embarrassed.
"Aww come on man you know I'm not picking on you, it looks pretty awesome. My only issue is, you said you were going to do this, when we were freshmen in high school Lee" Tai replied chuckling a bit.
"Yea well, it's done now okay? Anyway, what's up? What brings you into the city today?" Lee asked curious as to what Tai had been up to earlier.
Tai seemed a bit hesitant to say anything at first but before he could the waitress had arrive at their table. Tai and Lee gave their orders and drink requests and the waitress was gone as quickly as she had arrived.
"Seriously bro, you can't just decide to not tell me" Lee said, still trying to prod some sort of information from Tai.
"Ok, ok, just, don't say anything until I finish alright?" Tai conceded. He felt that if he was going to talk about it, he'd have to get it all out before being interrupted.
"Deal. Now spill" Lee said as he sat back and looked at Tai with a mix of intrigue and curiosity in his eyes.
Tai reached into his pocket and took out the business card. He looked it over once more and slid it across the table to Lee. Just as he did the waitress returned placing down the food and beverages that they had ordered before turning and leaving them to enjoy their meal.
"Red Sun Studios? Who are they?" Lee asked while setting up the grill to get their food cooking.
"Well, they're a Game Developer and they have a new game coming out soon." Tai continued, explaining to Lee about his call from Jasmine and the tram ride with the game ad. He would continue the story up the part where Mr. Park introduced himself and handed him the business card that Lee currently had in his hand.
"Wow, this guy sounds a bit creepy. How much of a coincidence was the tram ad though? Like, he couldn't have planned that, could he?" Lee looked both confused and astonished as he asked Tai the same questions Tai had been wondering himself.
"To be honest, I have no idea Lee" Tai replied in what sounded like an almost defeated voice. "However! Here's where things get interesting," Tai quickly followed up while attempting to stuff his face with the pork that had just finished cooking.
Lee looked at Tai and couldn't help but laugh at him "Hey slow down man, the food isn't going anywhere" he said between chuckles.
Tai finished what was on his plate and scarfed down a portion of rice before finishing off the lemonade he had. Wiping his mouth and setting his fork down he straightened his back and continued where he left off.
"So after handing me the business card and explaining to me that Jasmine consulted with his company for different things, he got to the part where she suggested me as an alpha tester to his game. The company wouldn't have to waste time advertising for a tester and I would get to play a new game before anyone else. She thought of it as a win-win and I can say she's not wrong. The idea of getting a first hand look at a new game and getting paid for it? That's the best part." Tai had taken a breath and was curious to see Lee's take on things.
"Hell yea man! Do it! Besides you know I'm down to play with you when it releases" Lee said with a smile on his face. These two really were the best of friends. The genuine desire to want to back each other up and spend their time working towards something together, is what had kept them inseparable.
"Well, after he went over the basics he handed me a login card for the game. My guess is that it's setup with alpha access so I want to head home and pop it in. Take a look at what this game is all about, you in?" Tai asked even though he knew Lee would be up for it.
"You kidding me? Of course! Let's get going and see what you're getting into shall we?" Lee finished his food and slammed back his tea before getting up and stretching.
"Haha alright let's go pop into Dynasty Empire shall we!" Tai said as he quickly slipped out of the booth and together they headed for the stairs.
The two would head down the stairs, giving their thanks for the meal and paying with a generous tip. As they made their way out onto the street and to the tram stop, Lee grabbed Tai's arm.
"Tai. I know I said that guy was creepy and the tram ad could have been a coincidence, but," Lee didn't finish his sentence. Instead with one hand on Tai's arm he pointed his other hand at the media building across the street. Tai looked up and on the top of the building where news usually played on the big screen, there it was.
The Dynasty Empire ad, playing at the exact moment they reached the tram stop.
"Coincidence. Right." Tai said in both astonishment and hesitation.