Loading... Chapter Four
Screens that were once dedicated to every ESPN channel were now filled with snipers, boots scraping against prized digital ground, and other sounds of war. First person shooters may have lost their crown, but still held strong. Their clans mirrored the NFL's football teams and their seasons filled with fans just as loyal.
Only two members of team AK-aos were left defending their base. One was camping at the heart of it and virtually safe as long as they didn't move. The second was crawling around from vantage point to vantage point in hopes that he could pick off the other team one by one. It was a slow process as the other team went around picking up all the weapons and vehicles they could. But then, faster than a blink, the sneaking player got a rocket launcher to the face.
"I do envy how often FPS-ers can die without penalty," Owen commented as he sipped on his beer.
"It's not that bad," Neal said.
"Of course you wouldn't be afraid, you've died more times than Sean Bean," Owen joked. He tipped his drink towards Neal, who looked away towards the rest of the bar for support, but none was found as their friends broke out into a fit of laughter. "An inventory reset and drop in HP is basically your default character."
"It's an inspiration that you haven't given up yet. At the very least you'd think something would have rubbed off from watching Owen play," Emily said. She stood out from the group, not because she was the only female in the trio, but because her pregnant belly was so big that no one even asked if she wanted anything besides a refill of her caffeine free soda.
"Come on. I'm not that—"
"To Neal!" She raised her glass and Owen mirrored the gesture.
Neal fought the fake praise before he caved to bask in it. "I'm not handy with a knife, but I can whip you both in lore. And to that I will drink!"
"Oh, oh, keep it down for a second, I want to hear the halftime report." Emily leaned forward so she could focus on the TV in the noisy bar. No matter how big the screens were, it could still be hard to focus. The esports bar was close enough to Times Square that light from giant flashing billboard screens intruded through the windows.
"I'm Hank, and it's time for The Rundown." His words were broken up by the segment's title cards. "Developers of Age of Shadows have confirmed that one lucky player has reached a new milestone in game. No, the level cap hasn't yet been reached, but the record for NPC's has been broken. One player in the Spanish faction has somehow snagged himself two companions," Hank reported, before he turned to discuss it with the other gaming experts on the panel with him.
"I'm no MMORPG expert, but if today's game has taught us anything, it's the importance of teammates. I'm not sure how this guy snagged two, but kudos to him," said Jose, Hank's faithful co-anchor.
"Or them," Aaron, the third gentleman, corrected. His wardrobe was different than their suits. Being a former pro-gamer he got to wear his jersey. "Unlike other games, Age of Shadows doesn't show player information. They didn't confirm the player, did they?"
"Nope," Hank replied. "Meaning it's likely a roleplayer. All of the arena players are quick to announce themselves. The promise of sponsorship is just too good. Could you imagine a three on one match? It would be no contest."
"I know, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's analysis of it during #Rehashed," Jose said, before the ad break.
"Two?" Neal repeated. "Looks like someone is better than even you."
Owen said nothing. Even turned his head away to try and hide the sly smile that was demanding realty on his face. His hand soon pulled over to cover his mouth.
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...