Sword Art Online: Recurrence/Rebirth



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Max

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Recurrence/Rebirth



Our party walked through the town together like it was a regular thing. I walked alongside Viola while she did her shopping and we made casual conversation and laughed, nothing eccentric like earlier. Crod went about gazing at armor like he was child in a candy store... or a pervert in a candy store. I don't know, I was beginning to think he liked armor better than women, maybe he wasn't a threat after all.

It was interesting, I looked back on this past day and couldn't believe everything that had happened to us had happened within the time span of a few hours. I was on a quest chasing a Den, and Viola took the kill right from under my nose. While I felt disappointment at first, she struck me as a very interesting person, and I used my smooth samurai charm to work my way into a party with her. I vowed to protect her, and she replied with... something about me doing crossword puzzles for her.

Shortly after we partied up, Crod appeared before us, and he just let off a super-perv kind of aura. I could've sworn he was going to try and take advantage of Viola! So I stepped in and initiated battle with him. Honestly, he didn't really seem like that bad of a guy, just a little awkward. But I was having too much fun to say it to anybody else, so I just rolled with it.

In the end, Viola snapped us both back into reality before either of us actually killed each other, and she settled things up. It was decided that the three of us would party together to work towards defeating the Floor 30 boss, which leads us to where we are now.

Viola brought up the fact that she thought we should maybe have a larger party to take on the boss, and Crod concurred right before he let us know he was logging off for the night and said his goodbyes. After that, it was just Viola and I sitting at the town fountain.

"Don't worry Pumpkin Pie," I said to Viola with a smile on my face as I looked up at the virtual sunset in the sky, "Even if we don't find another party member, I think the 3 of us could probably handle the boss. We'll see what happens. I stood up and stretched before letting out a heavy sigh. "Well my lady, I need to be logging off too, I have to work in the morning (sorry for talking about Real Life while I'm in character, it happens)," I whispered as I finished up.

I opened up my menu and brought my finger to Log Out button, and turned to Viola before pressing it. "I had fun today. I'll see you tomorrow, okay Viola?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
July 1, 2034

"Sir, I'm not going to give you a refund for this coffee," I said to the stubborn old man.

He let out what sounded like a little growl. "But why not?! It didn't have two squirts of vanilla, it only had one!"

"It did have two squirts of vanilla, I made it myself! And even if it didn't, you drank the whole thing, so I'm sorry but I can't refund you!"

The old man stormed off out of the café. This happens every Tuesday.

The coffee shop I work at is simply called Ned's Café. Ned's father named it after him, and it was passed down to him when he got older. Ned was an average looking man who appeared to be in his early 40's, and he was a really nice guy. He was always smiling, and very sociable. And I was his go-to guy for covering shifts and taking care of things when he wasn't around.

I set up a bagle-rack by the door that could be seen from the outside window, and then I wiped off the counter as I listened to the sweet music filling the place. The café had a stage built into it, so we had people performing quite frequently. Ned's favorites, as well as most everybody else's, was a duo that came in all the time and played Violin and Piano. Ned told me to make a tip-jar special for when they came in, and I left it on the counter so that people coming in and leaving would pass by it. It simply read "The Talent", and had a couple of musical notes on it.

The girl who played violin was Zoey. She was an interesting girl indeed. She typically wore bright colored clothing, and she had long brown hair that she let run wild and free.

"Excuse me, I was um... Wow, this is kind of embarrassing, did you want to do something when you got off of work?" A woman's voice pulled my attention away from the duo's music, and I turned to face a pretty young girl, maybe in her 20's. She had on red lipstick and had some dark eye-liner. Her blonde hair was very wavy and shaped around her face perfectly. She wore a blue dress with a black cardigan over-top of it.

"I'm sorry," I replied to her. "I, uh-"

"Don't worry about it," she cut me off, "Your attention seemed to be elsewhere anyway." She walked off without another word. I felt a little bad, but it happens. I've been rejected on several occasions. You see, this girl was pretty, sure, but she hid behind all of that make up, and she looked looked like she may have spent 40 minutes on her hair. While I enjoy the company of women, I truly appreciate the ones who are... Natural. I shifted my gaze back to Zoey. She probably didn't spend any time on her hair. When you were near her, you could see the faintest freckles on her face. You could tell she wore what she wanted, what made her comfortable. She was real. She was also a bit ditzy sometimes, but you never had to wonder if she was bullshitting you when you talked to her. Viola kind of reminded me of her. I've never really talked to Zoey outside of work, but she was always pleasant and talkative.

Was I a hypocrite? The things I enjoyed most about women like this were the total opposite of me. I was like two completely different people online and offline. Which one was the real me?
 
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Cassette-Disk

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"What are you thinking about?" She whispered to me from her stool.
"Bears." I whispered back as I tightened my grip on the violin's neck.

"Bears?"
"Bears, yeah. Big brown things. They eat trash and stuff."

"Is that what a bear is? I thought they were the the small white things with horns."
"That's a goat."
"Oh. You learn something new everyday, I guess."
"Wait, you never talk during a performance."
"And you never skip a bar line." Whoops.
"Little thoughts."
"Little thoughts, yeah. I thought as much. Little bear thoughts."
I closed my eyes as we entered a more complicated fast-paced part of the duet. The sheet music in front of me wasn't going to help at this point; in front of a live audience it was all muscle memory working its magic until we made it through the tunnel. My roommate kept quiet next to me, knowing full well my half of the song just became more complex as she followed behind with scales and chords. 'it's always just scales and chords' she always told me. Sometimes I had it easy while her fingers flew from one side of the keys to the other while others we both had to focus during certain points. It all depended on the song and how our fingers were feeling. I let the bow slide across the violin as my last note quietly rang throughout the cafe and made out the piano play us out.

"Cashier Guy's checking you out." She hummed quietly at me. Instead of looking directly in the direction of the cash register I instead focused on the center of the room and used my peripheral vision.
"I think that's his girlfriend." I told her as she ended her last notes. "Probably making sure their date is set."

"Autumn Leaves, Jazz rendition!" My roommate said aloud to the crowd while tapping away at her keys, suddenly switching songs on me as she repeated her intro. "You need the practice." She explained before bringing her voice back down as I gathered myself to catch up. "Nope, she looks too pissed to be his girlfriend."
"Are you sure he wasn't looking at you? They always flock to you for some reason. Might have something to do with your purple eyes."
"He wasn't. Or at least, I hope not, unless he wants to fight an Irishman."
"Probably just watching the performance. I hear the two girls playing are pretty good." We played the rest of the French originated song in silence, and I made sure not to skip over any notes and/or an entire line of notes. Had I really done that? Ha, oh well.

Around three minutes later, we bowed and made our way down the small stage. It always surprised me how thirsty and worked up I got over playing in front a live audience, even if we've been doing this for roughly a year or so. I quickly packed my violin into my bag and followed my roommate to the cashier.
"Yo," I told Cashier Guy, thankful for the lack of line. "Two of those big chocolate drink things, please."
"'Two large Pure Chocolate Shakes' is what she means."
"Yeah, that. With whipped cream on mine."I was surprisingly anxious to get back home. I wanted to take my new shield out for a test run as soon as possible, and was also a little excited to see both Crod and Musa again. Assuming they don't try to kill each other for whatever reason. It was pretty frustrating to have no one to talk to about this, though. My roommate didn't really care for it and I didn't want to bore her to death, so I just kept my mouth shut about it. It was kinda funny to think about though. Here I was, some girl who can play violin, while in that world I was literally a warrior...one who could also play violin. Maybe I needed to be more imaginative in that world.
 

LatinoHeat90

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" H i, my name is Carlos. Then reach out your hand for a polite but firm hand shake. I saw the sign out front that you were hiring. I would like to apply. That sounds good. Just say that and I will be golden.” I reassured myself as I went through my plan. I had been sitting outside the cafe for about an hour, giving myself the pep talk I needed before my confrontation. But the whole time thinking about standing up, heading home, and jumping into SOA. I knew I couldn’t do that though, I needed this job. The music continued in the café, it was loud enough that I could hear from the bench outside of the building. It was good music, but it wasn’t the kind of music I would listen to if I had a choice, it was the kind of music I would have to hear live to enjoy. I found myself listening to it and my mind started to go blank. I found myself staring down at my hands with no thoughts in my head. I don’t know how much time went by but I snapped out of it when the music stopped. Perhaps that was a signal to stand up and go in that café and get this job.


I stood up quickly, turned around, and started toward the door. Shit, I shouldn’t have stood up so quickly. I stumbled to the door trying to grab the handle too steady myself, but instead I burst into the café door in an awkward rush. My light headedness went away and I regained my posture but it was too late, I was already three feet into the café. The intro attracted nearly everyone’s attention. I felt my face grow red. I tried to play it off the best I could by walking to the counter and looking at the chalk board with the drink selections. What now?


I let some time pass as the employee behind the counter conversed with two young ladies. One had an instrument in bag so I assumed they were the musicians I had heard while I was outside. In my heart I hoped that they would continue talking for a while so I could just give up and leave the café. My prayer wasn’t answered. They walked way for a moment and it was me next in line. I moved up the cashier. Both of us made eye contact. It was time for me to go through with the plan.


“So…I need a job.”
Damn it.

 

Roxie1563

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~ July 1st~

I took one long deep sigh in annoyance at the man next to me who kept on pestering me for my number as I took a sip from my mug of coffee while sitting on my favorite spot in the cafe where I was working at as a cook. I mustered the courage to give him the nicest look to him and told him that I wasn't interested and that I am only interested in girls.

With that, I got up from my seat and walked to the nearby trash, throwing my mug away while holding the laughter that wanted to come out from seeing the face on the poor man when I told him that. I took out the time card and punched it then walked through the employees' door, grabbing my apron and tying the ropes behind my back as I gave out a wave to my boss who was kind enough to give me some help and got into work.

It was then after delivering the customers their food that I took an peek at the guy up front that seemed to be talking with one of my co-worker, Max. I was able to read his lips and figured out he was asking about the job sign that has been hanging out for a week or two. I sighed at this; I was tired of having to deal with men, even there are women around here.

I turned to turn over one piece of hamburger while checking the fries. My smile kind of slid up my mouth as I thought of returning back to Sword Art Online. It had been some time since I played online.

I hope there's something to do online once I get home.. I thought to myself as I got the hamburger out and fixed it up for the customer who became pleased at this. I glanced up at the clock and inwardly groaned. I have been working for close to 6 hours and I still had one more to go. But I wasn't one to complain; I wanted to do this so I'd have a life, other than avoiding anything that had to with my brother's death.

Once the thought came across, I stopped to take a deep breath and told myself not to do it. Once my nerves has been calmed down, I once again went back to work, my head full of thoughts about S.A.O while waiting for the slow clock to speed up so I'd get back to my 'real' work online.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see Max smiling at me; I smiled back and tried my best to slowly sign my words so he'd get it all.

"Hey, Max. What can I do for you?" I signed to him while looking over his shoulder, seeing the same man that asked about the job.
 

Shinra

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~July first~

Renn looked at his phone as it vibrated. It was a text from a high school student he was tutoring.

Hey Gurski-sempai? I'm trying to figure out the equation you gave me for question 7, can you give me the steps?

Renn took off his glasses and rubbed between his eyes before texting back.

First off, remember the Key value that I helped you figure out for question 5? Take that value for question 5 and multiply it by the answer for 6... You should figure it out from there and it should be easier to calculate the answers through the rest of the worksheet. I told your teacher to list that on the sheet but it seems he must have forgotten again.

Okay Thanks Sempai.

Renn knew that was coming because the teacher tended to cut corners lately because he was drinking too much. Renn slipped his phone into his pocket as he pushed through the door to Ned's Cafe.

He walked up to the counter and said: "Give me my usual, large Caocao Mocha Expresso with Whipped cream and milk chocolate shavings." Renn was a known chocoholic and he never held back. Tonight he was gonna get the chance to grind for the first time in three weeks since he started playing SAO and he planned on staying in for a week, only interrupted by a single study session with Kohai on Friday. Then two days more until he had to go back to work as the accountant for a lawyer's firm.

 

Kiba

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Sam sat at a desk she’d set in the corner of her dorm room. The mess of dirty clothes and old class notes littering the floor made it appear even more minuscule than it already was. Posters of Sam’s favorite bands were hanging up covering every inch of bare wall. A large american flag hung on a wall centered between an old Green Day poster and a WoW poster that had been left there by the previous occupant of the dorm.

The current occupant, however, was working on three of the many assignments her professors had piled upon her. She had three books open, her eyes jumping from one paragraph to another. It was probably why she had somewhat mediocre marks. Her study habits were efficient, but not practical. For example, on her last Chem 32 exam she’d written in an calculus equation. In her mind, she had jumbled her chemistry text book with her calculus textbook. The grade wasn’t very pretty.

“F!” She cried out and slammed all three books shut and then dropped her head onto the top of the centermost textbook. Her arms splayed across the desk. “I’m never gonna pass these mid-terms. Never, never, maybe. Nope, never. I might. Nah. Won’t happen.”

With an exasperated sigh, she slinked out of her clothes and threw herself onto the bed. Her mind went to earlier that day in Aincrad. Another stressful situation had arisen in the game: She still hadn’t found a partner or clan or party to join before logging out. The portal town was crawling with people when she’d returned from her hunting expedition, but not a single person she’d asked had wanted her in their party. “Too weak.” “Too girl.” “Much doge.” Oh, wait, no. That last one was a meme she’d seen while browsing the web after logging off. Her heart sank. What if I never find a party? I’ll be stuck on the 29th level. All the rumors of rare golden crops that yielded actual Col instead of items would be mere rumors unexplored if she didn’t make it past the level. Also, the watermelons! It was impossible to grow watermelons on the 15th floor. She wanted a house on a higher level. Bigger field to bigger house. I NEED IT!

“I have to find a team!” She exclaimed and jolted upright. “Tomorrow.”

She flopped back down onto the bed and pulled the covers over her head. A thought popped into her mind right as she was about to fall off sleep’s cliff and into a deep slumber. She was wide awake now. “I still haven’t taken a shower!” The enticing call of Aincrad had pulled her in after her running class. She had made a mental note to take a shower after playing, but then homework happened and it got late. “Tomorrow, for sure!” She promised herself. “NO take backs, Sammy. Shower. Morning. You're stinky. Do it.”
-

She didn’t. Her alarm hadn’t gone off, and she was 10 minutes late to class. Instead, she spritzed herself with a bottles worth of body spray and ran out to class— hair wild, teeth unbrushed, and yesterday’s clothes. Class lasted for half the morning. By the time it ended, her stomach was growling furiously. FOOOOD! She thought loudly. Or did she say it? Either way, she pushed out of the class and ran to the cafeteria for some healthy, artificial university breakfast.
 

Max

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Zoey hadn't looked my way throughout the entire performance. Man, maybe I was just too ordinary for her? Was I too plain? Did I need to pizzazz it up a bit? No no no, she's just focusing on her music of course. Two more customers slipped tips into the duet's tip jar as I sat and listened to them play.

After the performance, the two took their bows and started heading right my way. This was something I could always depend on, they got drinks after they played almost every time.

"Yo, two of those big chocolate drink things, please." Zoey said as she approached the counter. This was how she always ordered drinks.

"'Two large Pure Chocolate Shakes' is what she means." her friend translated.

"Yeah, that. With whipped cream on mine."

"You got it," I responded with a smile as I started to get their drinks ready. If I asked Zoey out on a date, how exactly would this work? What if we went to some restaurant, and she was just all like "Hey waiter dude, I want that one thing, with the bread. OH, and ketchup." What would I do? Surely the server wouldn't have a clue, yet I don't know her well enough like Crystal to decipher what exactly it is that she means when she orders. I've started picking up on drinks okay, but anything else and I wouldn't have the slightest clue. I guess it's just something that would come with time. I can't be worrying about that right now though, first I need to determine what exactly to say to her.

"You guys were pretty good today," I said over my shoulder as I finished up with their beverages. I turned back to the counter and handed them each their drinks. "It's on the house." By on the house, I mean I have to pay for them before I leave. "So Zoey, there was something I wanted to talk to you ab-"

That's when a man burst into the café awkwardly and with little grace. I stared at him for a second before returning my attention to Zoey. Okay, this needed to be said just right. "Anyway Zoey, so-" and then the awkward man made his way up to the counter. Great.

“So…I need a job.” The man said to me. I looked him in the eyes for a moment, then started heading back to the employees only door.

"Hey Zoey, just give me a sec, okay?" I looked over at her friend, and pleaded with my eyes. "This will be real quick, I promise."

I went to Ned's office and peeked inside. "Hey, I've got a guy out here who needs job."

Ned looked up from his paperwork and smiled at me. "Okay, give him one."

"Drug test? Paperwork?"

"We'll deal with that, just show him around and get him acquainted. We haven't had anybody interested in a job here for a while, so let's just put some faith in the guy that he isn't on crack. I can deal with some paperwork while he's in training, and if it doesn't pan out then we'll find somebody else." Ned's smile was still on his face. That was just like him, very trusting in people, and the most positive attitude you'd ever seen. I told him goodbye and went out to our applicant.

"Come with me," I said to him as I led him to the back room. "You'll be working back here with Alex for a good portion of your day. She does the cooking. She'll show you the ropes. If people are ordering things like burgers and whatnot, you'll be the one to serve their food while she keeps things going back here. If someone spills, you'll clean it. Dirty dishes, you'll clean them. If someone knocks down that whole bagel rack out front, you'll have to pick them up and replace them. I'll do my best to help you out in the front when I can, but I mostly have to deal with the customers so sometimes I can't do much."

When we made our way over to Alex, she signed to me slowly so that I could pick up what she was saying, "Hey, Max. What can I do for you?"

"This guys our new trainee, I'll leave it to you to show him how things work in the back. When it comes to anything out front, I'll try to help him out." I turned back to him. "Alex is deaf, but she can read lips. Just make sure she can see your face if you need to tell her or ask her anything. Ned's office is back in that corner, you'll want to talk to him before you leave. You'll start tomorrow." I started to walk away, then turned to him one last time, "I'm Max by the way."

I finally made my way back out front and walked around the corner over to Zoey. "Sorry about that. Anyway..." Man, I had this worked out perfect in my head... I just needed to focus and make my way through this. "So, do you remember that one time this past winter, when that guy decided to propose to his girlfriend. You were wearing jeans, and this kind of dressier green shirt. You guys were performing, and the music fit the moment perfectly. It was-" Then I heard the front door open. What now?

"Give me my usual, large Caocao Mocha Expresso with Whipped cream and milk chocolate shavings." It was Renn. He was a regular here, a pretty bright guy too. I'd talked to him a few times on occasion when he stayed and listened to the music in the past.

"Sorry Zoey, sorry!" I said as I held up my finger suggesting that I'd needed just one more moment. I headed back behind the counter and made up Renn's drink real quick. I handed it to him and didn't tell him the price. I didn't need to, he knew what it was by now. "Sorry I can't chat today man, I'm trying to get a date," I whispered as I glanced over to Zoey.

I grabbed the duo's tip jar and took it with me as I headed back over to them. "Okay, so anyway, you guys were playing, and this guy decided to propose to his girlfriend. The moment was perfect! The atmosphere of the café mixed with your music; it just seemed like a scene out of movie. Of course, she then declined him and told him that she'd been cheating on him with his brother..." God, why did I bring that part up? "That's not the point! The evening was beautiful, like y-" Nope. I choked, the compliment was denied by my mouth. "You know, it's just, you were there, and I was there, and the atmosphere wasn't just like that for the two of them, well him. I'm sure it was-" Okay, so it's become obvious that I liked Zoey more than I thought, and I was calling my first attempt at letting her know a complete and utter failure. I was stumbling through my sentences, and fiddling with their tip jar in my hands.

I reached out my arm to hand her the tip jar. Okay, just hand it to her and ask if she wants to hang out tomorrow. It's not that hard, I could just be like want to do something after I get off work tomorrow, or what are you doing tomorrow evening? I thought we could hang out. It's as easy as that. Just say it. Just say something. Don't just look at her any longer than this or it will get weird, just ask her so you can both move on with your lives.

"Well anyway, I'll see you tomorrow Zoey."
 

Shinra

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Renn smiled as he pulled out his wallet, grabbing a couple bills... He handed them to Alex as he whispered:

"Okay then... Sorry I'm late today but give the change to Zoey ok? I would've been here earlier but the firm ran me dry..."

Renn took his drink and pushed out the door again. "Ah young love..." He said as he took a swig of his beverage.

He arrived in his apartment not 15 minutes later. His rent was paid, his fridge was full and his custom-made beast of a computer was the single most prized possession because he sinks about a grand a year into it just to keep it maintained and constantly up-to-date with the heavily modified computer scene... His was meant to be the best of the best. but he dedicates it to gaming and work mostly... He works part time as a landscape designer for Yggdrasil inc, the company that manages most of the new VR MMO's produced by the world seed, including the new SAO... They haven't called him in yet for about a week to work on anything.

He slipped his modified nerve visor over his head and pulled a jack out of his headphones and into the side, hooking up his MP3 into the set.

"Nerve gear, boot up sword art online."

"Yes master Renn..."
 
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Roxie1563

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When I read Max's lips and figuring it out that the man is apparently the newbie in the cafe, I dropped the spatula on the side of the grill and reached out for a piece of paper and wrote out what I wanted to say to him. Hey, I'm Alex. Pleased to meet you and Max already explained it all to you, so I'd glad if you would be careful around me and don't worry about doing anything wrong for this day, but starting tomorrow, please do your absolute best and we'll do just fine. What's your name, friend?

I then gave it to him and went back to work, picking up the spatula and flipping the burgers. I made sure to keep my eyes open on him so in case he needed some help or questions that should be answered as I wrapped up the double set of burgers and set it on the tray, passing it to the new guy for him to take it to the customers. I took one quick glance at the clock and it was nearly close for me to be off work. A grin made its way up my mouth as I looked forward to my evening, back to S.A.O and see if I missed anything or not.

"I can't believe this is almost over!" I thought to myself in excitement, "Once I'm off work, I'll have to do the basic stuff then log in."

When I finally did end my job as a cook, I patted the newbie on his shoulder to let him know he did fine and as a good-bye then walked away, untying my apron and hanging it up on the rack. I took my time card and punched it in then put it up as I waved Ned farewell.

I started to walk, but realized it was going to be bit dark and it wasn't safe for women to be out in the open. I sighed and decided to sit down on the bench nearby, waiting on anyone who was off work to take me back to my apartment. It was then I realized that due to me being so busy that I forgot to ask Max if he ever asked the violin lady out yet.

I even glanced at her from time to time, but I felt sure she was interested in guys.. Guys like Max. I snorted as I shifted my leg to the other to wake up the sleeping leg, waiting, waiting, my head lending back against the wall.
 

LatinoHeat90

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It was all moving way too fast. The cashier had came out of the office and I had a job, no interview, no paperwork, nothing. I took me to the back and I got to meet Alex. She was deaf so she wrote me notes as I worked. I introduced myself on paper, Carlos. It was all surreal. I thought that I was going to be rejected like the other jobs but instead I am busing tables trying to figure out what they hell is on the menu. Everybody was supportive, except Max, he was hitting on the musician that was playing earlier. When I say hitting I mean failing. He was even more awkward than me, and that is a slap in the face. At the end of the night I was exhausted. I sat at one of the tables and laid my head down. I wasn't even dressed for work. It seems like a casual place but I would have at least put a nice shirt on. With my head on the table I glanced at my shirt to see a stay, something that occurred when I spilled some coffee on myself.

Ned, the owner of the cafe walked up to me.
"I see you survived your first day. How was it?" He had a large smile on his face, knowing that I had a helluva time. "To tell you the truth it all hasn't really hit me yet." I lifted my head off of the table and stood up. "I really have to thank you for giving me the opportunity to work...." "It is nothing my boy, we are happy to have you. And there is no reason to talk like that to me or anybody else that works here. We all try to be friends. Rest up because I expect to see you tomorrow." He walked away, having the last word. I had to smile, this wasn't your average workplace. I don't have to act like I have a stick up my butt, I can just be myself. My smile went away. I hope everybody likes me. If I act like myself they could think I am weird. But then I thought of Max and how he was kind of a loser with the ladies, it cheered me up.

Alex gave me a pat on the my shoulder when she was leaving. She had been my savior. I thought that she must of hated me for running to the back so many times to ask her questions. I could have sworn each time I asked her something her mood would have changed and the knife or spatula she had in her hand would become the instrument of my destruction. I was happy to see that was not the case. I hope I can work with her every day.

I said bye to the remaining employees. I passed Max as I left. I tried to read his face when I said bye but it gave me no clue to what had happened with him and the musician with the violin. If he was smart he would have serenaded her like how Mushashi serenaded Viola in SOA. Even though I thought those two were an odd pair they were a couple. I shouldn't insult Max though, he doesn't seem like an idiot. Mushashi is an idiot.

I stepped out of the cafe and began to walk home, SOA now on my mind. "I have to jump on to meet up with Mushashi and Viola." Speaking out loud to myself. My thoughts ceased when I saw Alex sitting on a bench. I looked up an down the street, thinking she might be waiting for someone. I walked up to her, her eyes were closed, her head was rest on the wall. I looked at her for a moment. Alex was pretty, her pink hair really stood out but it was attractive. My thoughts moved from her to my memories of my ex girlfriend. I remembered how comfortable I was around her, how I felt with her, and what my future could have been with her. I had to let her go, I was holding her back. I realized I was just standing there looking at Alex and I made myself jump. I am a perv! At least that is what it looks like. I collected myself and tapped on Alex's shoulder. Her eye's opened and she stared at me.

"Uh...are you waiting for someone? If you are not, I could walk you home."
I could feel myself get fidgety. "
I mean, it is dark so it would be safer if I walked you home." Good Carlos, you are trying to protect her. I reassured myself on why I was asking her. I knew that it was more than that but I was not ready to try to be more than a friend. Maybe someday I could be more.
 

Roxie1563

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I was deep in thoughts, my eyes closed when I felt someone tapping me on the left shoulder. I opened my eyes to see the newbie, Carlos, standing front of me and wondered what he wanted while giving him a brief smile as I got up to stretch around from sitting on the bench.

It was then while I moved around and reading his lips, I was kind of surprised and flattered to see that he offered to take me back to my apartment; Normally, it was Max that usually did it for me, but seeing how Max was preoccupied and who knows how long it would take for him to be done, I decided to take on his offer by nodding my head to him and grabbing his right hand and started walking to the stoplight.

I wanted to talk to him, but I was kind of shy around him so we just walked in silence until we reach the corner that led into an alley and kept on walking. It wasn't until I noticed some older men that gave out toothy smiles; I shivered internally and without thinking, put my arm around Carlos and got close to him while pretending to laugh out loud at his jokes, despite my deafness. I hoped to myself that by doing that, I didn't make him nervous or anything and this was purely needed until we got out of the alley.

I'm just doing this to get out of this kind of things.. I thought to myself as we walked out of the alley, relived to see the sight of my apartment building coming to sight.

Once we arrived and past the entrance, I took out my arm of his while giving him some sort of apology through my smile, my cheeks becoming red, chagrined at what happened moments ago. We went up the stairs and turned left then stopped at the second door which belonged to me. I wondered if I had any sort of mails and tried to reach the mailbox that was above my head and failed; I groaned loudly and once again, cheeks red, I used my index finger to point to him then the mailbox, hoping he got the meaning.

While I waited for him to reach and get my mails, I took out my keys that I usually put in my left front pocket and took it out. I started to put it in, but the keys fell down to the floor as I felt it pinging. I hid my growl as I bended down to pick it up, not knowing I accidentally brought something out of Carlos' lower region as I picked my keys and straighten up and firmly unlocked the doors and turned the light on then turned around, smile on my face as I got my mails from him then waved him good-by and went in, closing the door and locking the door.

I sighed and walked to the kitchen, laying the mails on the counter and cooked myself some quick supper which turned out to be Ham and Cheese sandwich, eating it in silence and deep in thoughts. I went through my mind of my long day and the way Carlos performed today as I reached out to get my mails and opened it, reading. I gave out a snort when I read one of the letter that said about coming over to some sort of meeting for something and crumpled it then threw it away to the trash, basketball style.

Once done checking my stuff and eating up my sandwich, I walked to my bedroom then took off my shirt and jeans and grabbing my Super-Girl shirt and putting it on while unhooking my bra and hanging it on the shower door. I ruffed my dark-pinkish hair with my right hand as I walked over to the computer and logged on. I got online and checked for any e-mails, only to find out there wasn't none; I pouted at this and sighed as I logged off and walked my way to bed.

I turned my head to see the item known as Amusphere on my nightstand and grabbed it with my hands. I put it on my head as I laid on my bed, looking at the ceiling, my poster of S.A.O and my main character, Maya. I smiled, wondering what the night would bring for the next two hours.

"Link-Start!" I cried into the voice adapter that was recently installed for people who was deaf and loved to play online as the screen came on and pulled me into the world of Sword Art Online, smile on my face.

~~~

I woke up inside my room at the hotel which was used for resting as long as it was paid for. I yawned and got up, stretching my virtual body and gave out a deep sigh. I went straight to the shower so I'd feel better, even though it wasn't nighttime yet.

Once sorted out, I put on my clothes and headed down the stairs and out through the front door. Looking around, I realized that it seemed to be quiet, but it was to be expected since most people that filled the entire ground of Floor 29 came from the servers in America. I tightened my sheath that contains my rapier and took a deep breath; as I started to walk around town, I received one message from the Board.

I opened my menu and checked my message, becoming excited about the prospect of joining the tournament as I read on. Though there was no one around me, I couldn't hold my gigging as I walked on. I stopped and realized that to order to join in, I'd need a group. I let out a groan, my head down but quickly back on track.

I knew I needed to find someone, anyone that is willing to partner up. Determination on my face, I went forth in search of a group who I hoped would accept me as who I am. Who am I?

I am Maya and I'm the one people should fear and respect me in terms of fighting skills instead of treating me like a queen meant to be protected! I mean, why is it that men always, ALWAYS has to be telling me that I needed to be protected? I usually handle them by flinging them away against the wall, despite my lack of strength; but hey, it's a virtual world, so anything goes.

I gave out a laugh as I thought back to that strange man that attempted to ask me out on a date; I responded right back by punching him in the face, what was his name... Mushashi, I think was his name, some few days ago. I sure hoped he learned his lesson as I kept on looking for anyone to join in.
 

Cassette-Disk

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"You guys were pretty good today,"
"I, uh, yeah well, you know..."
"We were awesome." I said, interrupting the Purple-Eyed Wonder. Just take the compliment, lady! Well, I messed up once or twice, but I doubted the audience even noticed it. And it wasn't like either of us were going to--
"Let's just try to stay on the same bar line from now own." Ack.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." I said as Max rounded back on us and gave us our drinks.

"It's on the house." He told us. Nice!
"Thanks." Crystal said suspiciously as she raised an eyebrow. What's your deal, girl? It's not everyday we get free stuff.
"Yesssss." I said, "You're the best, Max. For real." I took a sip and smiled. "This is how you know we made it." I told them. "Free chocolatey liquid. We're at the top of the mountain." Cashier Guy said he wanted to talk about something, but someone busted through the door. Jeez, that's awkward. He tried again to tell me about whatever, but Awkward Dude asked him about a job. Max went to the back room, asking us to wait for a bit, to which I nodded.

"What's up?" I told Awkward Dude as we waited. "We got free drinks today. It's alright to be jealous."
"Would you stop that?" my roommate told me. I just shrugged as I took another sip.
"Just thought I'd share." I said before Max came back and pulled Awkward Dude away to the back. Was there a test for him to take?
"You've gotta pour twenty drinks in ten seconds or you'll never make it here!" That's a scary thought.
"What do you think Cashier Guy wants to talk about?" I asked.
"I have an idea." She said, eying me before taking a sip of her own.
"Probably something about our next performance. Maybe we'll finally get some pyrotechnics in here. That'd be neat."
"I...don't think so." We didn't have to wait too long before Max came around again, and when he did he started retelling us about the time we performed while someone proposed to his girlfriend. I didn't see it, but next to me my roommate's face was filled with a knowing smile. Once again, Cashier Guy was interrupted and asked us to wait.

"It's cool," I said, waving his apologies, "we aren't in any rush." When he got back for the nth time, he quickly recapped himself, including the downer ending. Neither Crystal or I drank any alcohol, but that night we both agreed to a bottle of beer, just to try to ease the pain. It didn't help, and we both disliked the taste of it.
"That's not the point! The evening was beautiful, like y-"
Max cleared his throat, stopping himself from...whatever he was about to say. Crystal also started coughing as she choked on her shake. Did I miss something?
"I gotta," she said as she regained herself, "I gotta...piano. Off tune. Arpeggio's last notes felt too heavy and the una chorda pedal was...not...soft...enough? It's all complicated music stuff. Excuse me." She said as she walked back to the stage and fiddled with her instrument, leaving me alone with Cashier Guy. What the hell was that about? What was with all that nonsense jargon? The piano sounded fine, or at least I'm pretty sure it did. Max kept talking as my roommate looked watch over us from behind her piano. What was he saying? Atmosphere, him, me, and--oh. Oooh.

Oh shit.
"Well anyway, I'll see you tomorrow Zoey."
He told me, offering the tip jar. I awkwardly took it and balanced it under my arm. Wh-what now? I wasn't trained for this. I wasn't trained for anything, actually, but this in particular wasn't something I expected.
"Yeah." I told him, doing my best to keep my cheeks from turning red. I doubt I did a good job. "Yeah. I, uh. Yeah. Yeah, I should," I stuck a thumb towards the door with my hand holding the violin case. "I should yeah. Yeah." Stop saying yeah. "Yeah. Yeah, I'll just...yeah. Um. Yeah, I'll see you. Tomorrow, yeah. Bye." I turned and walked slowly towards the exit, unsure of myself. I left the building and walked towards home, it didn't take long for someone else to catch up to me.
"What happened?" She asked me, easing the burden as she took the small jar from me and put it into her bag.
"Yeah." I answered. "Uh. Oh Jeez, Crystal..." I filled her in as best I could on the short walk home.
"Well?"
she asked me.
"Well what?"

"What do you think of him?"
"I don't...! I don't know. He's Cashier Guy! He's always just...there? Does that make sense?"
"Come on, Zoey! This isn't hard."
"Oh, I'm sorry!" I snapped at her, "I'm not the one who's been in a stable relationship for years now. Some of us have gotten hurt and can't afford to let it happen again. Things aren't always as easy as you make them seem, you know."
...

"Zoey, I--" I stopped her by hugged her tightly outside the entrance to our apartment.
"I'm sorry." I said. "I'm sorry I'm sorry. It's not your fault. I'm just confused and scared and I need time and chocolate and video games." I felt Crystal's arms wrap around me.
"We have that here." She said softly before she let go of me and opened the door.
 

Max

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Zoey took the tip jar from me, and her cheeks suddenly started turning red. "Yeah. Yeah. I, uh. Yeah. Yeah, I should," She then proceeded to point to the door with her thumb.

"Um, Zoey? Are you alr-"

"I should yeah. Yeah." She didn't even hear me. Dear God, what did this mean? Did this just mean she was as awkward as me and she liked me? Or did this mean that she didn't know how to tell me she finds me utterly repulsive and I need to hit the road?

"Yeah. Yeah, I'll just...yeah. Um. Yeah, I'll see you. Tomorrow, yeah. Bye." With that, she was out the door.

"Hey Crystal, did you get that piano thing figured out-" Nope. She didn't hear me either, she raced right on out the door after her friend. Great, I couldn't even question the best friend about the situation.

It was closing time, and the other employees had left, all except for Ned. As I did some last minute sweeping and cleaning, I went back and forth from butterflies in my stomach at the thought that maybe she liked me back, and the feeling of projectile vomiting because she may think I'm a total weirdo. What if she simply just does not find me attractive whatsoever?! Maybe she likes men with big bulking muscles. Or maybe she prefers a more sophisticated man that can talk to her about music. Or for all I know, maybe she's already interested in some high-class college guy with an IQ of 700...

Ned walked out and approached me as he got ready to close up. "Everything alright Max?"

"Ned... Am I an attractive man?!?!" I asked him pleadingly as I grabbed onto his shirt.

After I calmed down a bit, Ned realized he didn't have anything to worry about and that it was just girl issues. He asked right off the bat if it was Zoey. Was it really so obvious? He told me he thought I should talk to her about it, but we'll see. I think I might get a second opinion before I decide to go embarrass myself.

After we locked up, Ned and I said goodbye and parted ways. I looked over to the bench that I typically found Alex sitting on, but she wasn't there tonight. "Weird. She must have got tired of waiting."

I pushed my hands into my pockets and started my walk home. All I was thinking about was each and every possibility of what might happen with Zoey. Suddenly, worst case scenarios started going through my head. "What if Zoey asks me for another drink tomorrow, and I trip when I go to hand it to her? I might accidentally spill the chocolate all over her, which could cause her to jump backwards in shock. If there's a customer behind her, he may very well get pissed and shove her forward. This could in turn propel her forward with enough momentum that she hits the counter and flips over it, placing her right in my vicinity. The force from her being launched over the counter and into me would then knock me back into the coffee machine, busting it up and having hot coffee spray around everywhere behind the counter. It would spray all over me... And all over Zoey, leaving us with severe burn marks for the rest of our lives. I can just hear her screaming as she lay on the floor, hot coffee trickling all over her as she wishes I was never born..."

Wow. I really hoped that didn't happen. As I was lost in my thoughts, I ended up bumping into a man in the alleyway on the way home.

"Sorry, I-"

"Yeah, you're gonna be sorry!" The man barely managed to spit those words out from between his teeth as a few of his friends surrounded me.

"Listen," I said as I looked around at the four thugs. One of them was holding a chain in his two hands, another had a pipe. The two that were blocking my way home didn't appear to have anything. This usually meant that they had knives. Or guns. "I'm just trying to get home, I didn't mean to bump into anybody."

"Give us all of your money!" The man with the chain demanded. Without another word, I reached into my pockets and fished out everything could. $7.50. I had seven dollars and fifty cents.

"This is all you have?" The man I bumped into asked as the man with the chain counted the money several times. I nodded my head, and then the man with the pipe took a swing at me and hit my left arm pretty good.

I let out a bit of a grunt, it absolutely hurt like hell, but I had to push through the pain. I ran forward shouldering my way between the two guys blocking my way out. I could hear their footsteps behind me, and then I heard the clingy-clangy noises the chain made as it whipped into my legs. I fell to the ground, and the man I initially bumped into jumped on top of me and started hitting me. He landed a solid blow in my eye,and another into my cheek right below my eye. I managed to get a punch into his face as well from down below, and I pushed him off of me.

The guy with the pipe came running right at me before I could get up, and raised the pipe above his head. Just as the pipe came down, I rolled over and it just missed my head. I could hear the vibrations from the pipe hitting the concrete, and while the thug tried to recover I grabbed at his pipe and pulled it away from him, quickly following with a blow to his back. He dropped to the ground, and the other three surrounded me. The toothy man who started it all pulled out a switch blade. The man with the chain spun it around and around like some kind of pro. The third man remained unarmed, and he looked the most tense.

They all came at me at once. I decided that the man with the knife was the biggest threat, so as he lunged his knife at me I smacked his arm away with the pipe. He let out a shriek and dropped the knife as he backed away, gripping at his arm. It looked like I hyper-extended his elbow, and then I felt the chain whip me in the back. I fell forward, and as I turned to swing I quickly changed my mind and jumped backwards. The unarmed man had picked up the switchblade and made a stabbing motion at me. He missed when I jumped backwards, thank god, but the knife still came down and manged to make a light cut down the left side of my neck. Way too close. I then smacked him in the head with the pipe and he went straight down. I kicked the blade away this time so it wouldn't be used against me again.

The man whose arm I broke was sitting against the brick wall of the alley cursing at his friend to kill me. The man who I'd hit in the back with the pipe still remained on the ground unable to get up, while the man I hit in the head was unmoving as well, only letting out faint breaths. The man with the chain looked nervous. He couldn't have been as nervous as I was. I was sweating, my head was pounding, my face felt like it had a heartbeat. The man with the chain started running at me, and I chucked the pipe I was holding as hard as I could at him. It hit him in the chest hard, and he seemed to lose his breath. I didn't waste any time charging in and whaling on his face. Now my knuckles hurt to. He dropped to the ground, trying to cry between swollen eyes, and I turned to look at the ringleader. He started trying to get up and go, and I walked over and pushed him back down.

"You're not going anywhere," I said to him as I took out my cellphone and called the police.

About an hour went by. The police were there quick with an ambulance. The ringleader-thug tried giving them a story about how I had jumped them. I gave the police my side of the story, and they said that these guys had given them trouble in the past. One of the people from the ambulance took a look at me and said that they didn't think I got any serious, injuries, though I sure felt like it. They said I may just be bruised up for a good while, and it may be tough to move around like normal, but everything should heal on it's own. They offered to take me to the hospital, but I declined and an officer took me the rest of the way home even though it was only a couple minutes away. On the plus side, they gave my money back.

At home, I looked at myself in the mirror. I had a black eye, but luckily the area of my cheek where the guy hit me wasn't swollen, it was just pretty red. Blood was dried up on my neck where I got cut, but at least it had stopped bleeding. When I turned to look at my back in the mirror, it had black and blue spots all across the lower area of it where I had been hit by the chain. My left arm had a solid bruise on it as well from the first swing of the pipe. After I cleaned myself up, I made my way to to my bed with aching legs.

As I laid down on the bed, I looked at my Amusphere. "Maybe I shouldn't play today, they said I should rest..." I thought to myself as I now held the headset in my hand. I needed to get on though, I wanted to ask Viola for advice about Zoey. "Oh shit..." I muttered out loud. Zoey, what was she going to think when she saw me now?! If she happened to find me unattractive before, then she would really think I looked like some kind of beast now. Or what if she thought I looked perfectly fine, but now she suspected I was some sort of thug. "Or what if, worst case scenario-"

No. No more worst case scenarios. I put on my Amusphere and logged on. "I hope I didn't keep them waiting too long..."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I entered the world of Aincrad with a smile. Suddenly my aching body was met with relief. My body no longer felt like it had been hanging from the ceiling of a gym all morning acting as Bruce Lee's punching bag. I stretched and felt Aincrad's warm sun on my face. Thank God I didn't decide to just go to sleep.

I walked over to the fountain where I had parted ways with Viola last night and I took a seat. I opened up my friend list and sent her a message. "So, where should we meet up honey bunches of oats?"
 

Kiba

Ours is the Fury
Joined
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The water was colder than she expected. Slowly, Sam slid into the tub. Her bathroom was nothing special. It was small and needed a good deep clean, but with college and laziness Sam had no time to spend a day just cleaning. She had other things on her mind. A small shiver was sent throughout her frame as she submerged her entire body into the water. Eyes closed, her mind lost in one of the millions of thoughts running through her head, she sat.

After she’d eaten her lunch, she attended her afternoon classes. Physics and Running. Two of her least favorite classes. Though she secretly enjoyed running since it allowed her to see the city she was too busy to view when she wasn’t in class or working on homework. New York City was as bustling and hustling as it’s always been. She found herself enjoying the runs she’d take away from all the touristy attractions like Central Park or Time Square. Some days she’d find herself running through small alleys that brought her to some not so safe areas of the city. It didn’t bother her, though. No one ever paid her any mind. She wasn’t pretty or rich enough to mug.

That day, though, she’d stuck to her normal trail of Greenwich Village. Running mostly around the area that the NYU campus—if you could call it a campus—was located. She’d taken her time though. Stopping more than once to say hello to a random pigeon and wonder from what grander species of bird it had descended. Or, to say hello to a person she thought was a friend, but was really just a stranger who looked like a friend. That, in turn, made her think of Elize and how she was doing.

Elize was Samantha’s first roommate. A true friend and someone that Sam regarded highly. They shared an apartment since most third and fourth year students were unable to get a dorm room. She was the first person to introduce Sam to SAO and VRMMORPG’s. They had played together throughout Sam’s first year of university. Unfortunately, Elize was on her fourth year and left NYU and Sam at the end of that year. The next year Sam moved into one of the single-person dorms. Elize hadn’t contacted Sam or logged into the game for several months. It was somewhat strange of her. Before leaving, she’d been so interested and invested in Sam’s life and then she seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. It left Sam to wonder if something had happened to her. Something bad.

Sam pushed the thought from her head as she lifted herself from the tub. No use in thinking that. She was probably just really busy. After all, she was going for her masters. People going for their degrees had theses to write and internships to fulfill. Sam understood. She was sad. But she understood.

Water dripping, she toweled off and looked at herself in the mirror. Her lips pursed as she placed her hands on her hips. “Chubby.” She said, pouting. “Oh, well!” She tried to make something of her frizzy hair, but had no luck so she just put it into a very messy pony tail. There was an oversized blue Yankees shirt on the counter that she threw on and then slipped into plain white undies.

Her NerveGear sat on the table beside her bed. It was an old clunk of thing. One of the first models they’d made. It was all she could afford though. She’d found it used on eBay and after several days of bidding, it became hers. “As long as it works,” she would tell Elize who had one of those new AmuSphere things.

“One day, I’ll get you the best VR helmet, Sammy.” Elize would reply. She’d swear that she was going to be rich one day. Sam would make fun of her, but she knew she was right.

Sam placed the NerveGear on her head and lay back, her head resting on her pillow. She closed her eyes, the noise of the city outside her window filling the quiet room. A sigh escaped her lips as she said:

“Link Start!”

And the world around her changed. Her mind focused. The noise dissipated and was replaced with the noise of a different city. Aincrad. Level 29. The portal city. Hostene, it was called. Chatter could be heard from the streets below the window of the inn she’d booked before she logged out the night before. She opened her eyes slowly taking in her surroundings. To her left, her clothes lay neatly folded on a crudely made oak chair. She stretched her arms out as she sat up. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.” She said to the air. The jump from reality to virtual was still strange to her.

The Inn wasn’t big by any means. The owners were an old NPC couple who were always smiling. Her room wasn’t anything to brag about either. It was small with brick walls on one side and wooden walls on the other. The roof was a high enough to allow her to stand, but no higher. Anyone taller than her would hit their head every time they stood up. There was a feather bed, an oak desk with a lit candle set upon it, a mirror, and the old oak chair. Before clothing herself, she stepped in front of the mirror and smiled sadly at what she saw. “Not chubby.”

Kali was thin. Lean, wiry muscles covered her arms and her torso was toned and slim. She ran a hand through her long straight black hair. No frizz. Easy to maintain. Kali was beautiful where Sam was just mediocre, almost ugly. Brushing all sad thoughts away, she clothed. Denim short-alls and black and white 3/4 sleeve shirt covered her body. Flicking through her inventory, she materialized a black sun hat and donned it.

After putting on her shoes, she walked down a flight of stairs and exited the inn. Hostene was full of people. All of them probably looking for a party or preparing to fight the level 30 boss.

“Time to find a party.” She said and walked into the crowd.
 

LatinoHeat90

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I was surprised at her response. I didn’t think she was going agree to let me take her home, no reason to think that but that is how my mind works. The moment Alex's hand touched mine I felt a jolt, my nerves all pinched, she caught me off guard. We began walking down the street, we didn’t talk much, and I think she was nervous. Who am I kidding, I was more nervous and I still hadn’t recovered from the hand holding situation. My thoughts focused on her hand as it held mine. It consumed me until we walked past a group of rough looking dudes. They looked like they were out for blood. I felt Alex as she leaned into me. It was purely instinctual, but I felt me body stiffen and my shoulders widen. We walked past with no incident, but I would hate to be the person that ran into them tonight.

I walked Alex up to her apartment and helped her get her mail. She fumbled her keys. She bent down to grab them and on the way up she looked at my mid region for a second, and then continued up. She had a huge grin on her face and she quickly said goodbye and went into the apartment. I was perplexed. What was that all about? I thought for a second outside her door. I looked down at the floor then my pants. My eyes grew wide. “Did she see my PEZ dispenser?” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my elephant PEZ dispenser. I could feel my face turn red. She probably thinks I am such a geek, loser, child, and any other type of person that carries around a PEZ dispenser. I dispensed a PEZ and headed home, the whole time thinking about how I should explain the candy dispensing apparatus to her and why I carry around with me.

It was an extra twenty minutes but I think it was worth it. I didn’t want to run into those guys again so I took the long way home. I walked into my apartment and went straight to the cabinet. It was Ramen night, just like the night before, and the night before that. I surfed the web and chowed down on my noodles. I glanced at the time. It was moving too slow. I wasn’t meeting up with Mushashi and Viola for another hour but I was getting antsy. “I could go to the shops again and see if I needed anything.” A great excuse. I leapt onto the bed and slid my NerveGear onto my head.

“Link Start”
------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Butt-face, the item is mine, end of discussion. I got the last hit on that monster so I get the drop.” “But I dealt the most damage. Hell, you just sat back and watched most of the fight waiting for the opportunity to get the last hit.” A group of players, that look like they just got back from grinding, were arguing about their recent item drop. “diddly off.” One player'ss temper finally erupted. At that point I decided that the little event was no longer worth my time. I walked away hearing the group continue to bicker. The area was filled with players, all still buzzing with the news about the next boss and how it has to be tackled with a party. I assumed most of the players in parties were friends, it would make sense because they wouldn’t have to worry about situations like the other party had gotten into. Actually, how was my party going to deal with situations like that? Mushashi and Viola are a couple so they would share their items willingly, but I am the odd man, the third wheel. When we grab more players to play with their will be more chances for confrontations to occur. The whole train of thought was unsettling.

After making my rounds in the shopping district, I made my way to the town square. I started to message Mushashi and Viola when I noticed Mushashi was next to the fountain, messing around in his menu. “I guess Mushashi logged in without Viola." Perhaps they only know each other in the game world.” I knew this wasn’t uncommon. A lot of relationships start in the virtual world. Sometimes they even transcend into the real world. I don’t know what kind of relationship they have but I didn’t know them well enough to ask.


I walked over to Mushashi.
“Hey, Mushashi. How is it going? Will Viola be on soon?”
 

Shinra

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  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy
Renegade jumped into the air and twisted around, placing his clawed palm onto the flat pommel of his sword, driving downward diagonally toward the ridged spine of the feline monster known as the Coeurl, his sword clad in a bright blue aura as his sword skill activated. Then his favorite melody ringed in as the MP3 player fed his victory music into his auditory receiver in the nerve visor. He felt invigorated and he dodged to the side as a Falchion, An aptly named armored falcon swooped in with iron tipped talons and forced him to duck and his battle theme started up again.

His hand swiveled as he sheathed his blade and kept his eye on the Falchion. His hand clenched inside his claw and he turned around as the bird dove toward him again. The talons plunged for his neck but Renegade swung another ninety degrees, and they plunged into his armored shoulder instead, and although he could feel the slight pain in his shoulder the Falchion was trapped and he with a simple upward motion punched the claws through the torso of the bird.

He smiled as he said: "That was interesting..." Renegade soon looked at his shoulder, six holes pierced into the side of the pauldron, more into his arm than into his back. He pulled off the piece of armor and saw the wounds he had obtained, two sets of three linear wounds drew slight blood and he reached into his pouch and pulled out a roll of white bandage cloth and medical tape. He sliced off a strip of bandage and placed it over the wounds and applied the tape to hold it in place then slipped the sleeve of his t-shirt.

He soon looked at his pauldron and said: "You've served me well... I think it's time to upgrade. Warp, Floor 25, Marketplace."
 

Cassette-Disk

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I fell head first into my bed. Uggh. My stomach hurt, probably from downing that chocolate drink thing too fast. I stayed still for a few seconds, letting my belly try to get through whatever it was doing. Probably fighting chocolate ships with stomach acid. I pushed myself away from the bed and reached to the MP3 player connected to a small set of speakers. Going through menus, I found a playlist titled "Garden State Soundtrack" and hit the play button as The Shin's "Caring is Creepy" started playing. I fell back into my bed, this time falling on my back. The music played for a while, and once the song was over the player switched to The Cary Brother's "Blue Eyes". I wish I had blue eyes. My eyes were boring. Purple eyes were probably too much though, that'd bring way too much attention. There was a knock at my door, snapping me away from my little thoughts.

"I'm naked!" I lied.

"Why are you naked?!" She asked through the door.
"Um. I'm changing."

"You're such a liar. Are you just listening to the Garden State soundtrack?" Damn it.
"Nope." There was a moment's pause before she answered.

"Is that The Cary Brothers?"
"Nope!" Another pause.
"I can help you to stand~ Saved it up for this dance~!" She sang along.
"Nopenopenopenope, you're hearing things." Crystal opened the door despite my protests with a small smirk. "Aw come on," I said while pouting, "what if I really was naked?"
"Worth the risk." She answered. "Hey listen, I'm making some Mac and Cheese. Want some?"
"Nah, I'm not hungry."
"You sure? I'm putting little pieces of bacon on them."
"Oh god." I literally started to salivate at the thought. "Serve it up."

After having possibly the best bowl of cheesy noodles ever, I went back into my room as Crystal sat at the couch to watch TV.
"I'm probably gonna just play a bit before conking out," I told her, "you sure you don't wanna play?"

"I already have to deal with you full-time here," She said jokingly, "I don't think I'd be able to handle another universe with your wackiness."
"Your loss." I closed the door behind me and once again fell into my bed. Cashier Guy. Graaah, I needed to clear my head. It was still pretty early but I reached between my bed and my nightstand, looking for the visor that granted me access to the virtual world. Sliding it over my eyes, I powered it on and closed my eyes.

---

Viola ran through a tree-filled forest. Where was it? She knew she had found it somewhere on this floor in the past, and it was definitely near this forest. The problem would be finding it again. The first time was a complete accident, and the second time was just pure luck. The pink haired girl ran passed a familiar tree and stopped, backing up towards it.
"Damn." She had definitely already passed this tree, there was a marking on it that she had left when she accidentally charged into it. Instead of once again running forward, Viola decided to walk backwards and leave. Maybe she'll find it next time. Though she tried to exit the forest, she instead found herself in front of a large lake. The exact lake she had been looking for this entire time. "What." She said, confused. Could she only find this lake when she didn't mean to? How would the game even know when she had given up the search? Deciding it wasn't important, Viola instead sat on top of a boulder near the shore and removed her shoes, letting her feet dip into the water. She watched the small fish below the surface swim around her as a frog hopped out of the water, landing near her. "Hello." She told it, not expecting any real answer. It croaked once, but remained otherwise unfazed by her greeting.

Staring over the lake, the girl let her mind wander. She wandered through thoughts of how the breeze felt so real. Of how the frog sitting next to her sounded just like a real frog. Cashier Guy. Shields. The next boss they were to fight. Violin strings. And-- bip! A small letter icon flashed in the top right of her field of view, and she tapped at it.

"So, where should we meet up honey bunches of oats?"
Musa. The girl looked around at the hidden sanctuary she had stumbled upon. She didn't want to share this place; this was her spot, it wasn't even located on the map.
"I'm heading back to the town we logged out of," she answered as she stood, causing the frog to jump back into the lake, "I'm using a warp thingie, I'll be there in a few minutes."
 

Max

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I sat at the fountain in the middle of town as I waited for Viola's reply. I looked around at all of the players moving through the area. We were on the 29th floor, right in the center of all the game's current hustle and bustle. Floor 30 was available, sure, but there wasn't a town on floor 30. There were some big open fields with a portal in the middle, and somewhere along the way there was a dungeon. The depths of that dungeon held our boss. I figured that tonight we could hopefully grab a fourth party member, and then scout out the 30th floor. We could take this opportunity to fill in our maps of that floor and find the dungeon, and maybe even navigate the dungeon to try and find the boss chamber. This could probably score us a few levels, and then we'd be prepared to go back whenever we were ready.

I also needed to talk to Viola before the night was over. I wanted some advice about Zoey...

“Hey, Musashi. How is it going? Will Viola be on soon?” I turned to see Crod: The Abominable Pervert standing beside me, his armor glistening in the sun. Before I could respond, a notification went off for a new message.

"I'm heading back to the town we logged out of. I'm using a warp thingie, I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Speak of the devil," I said as I looked up at Crod from my seat. "Viola just messaged me, she'll be here soon. Then we'll get started." I looked at Crod for a moment while I wondered to myself if maybe he could give me advice about Zoey. "Hey, Crod..."

Pfft, was I really about to stoop so low as to ask super perv about women? He'd probably give me advice about how to strap her down. "That's just wrong man, I can't believe you." Whoops, he didn't actually say anything to me. Oh well. "Nevermind, listen, I need to talk to Viola about something important. If you wouldn't mind, could you go snoop around a shop or whatever you do for a minute once she gets here?" I should have probably asked nicer. "Please?" There we go.

I looked back up to the virtual sky once again as I awaited Viola's arrival.

 

Roxie1563

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"What?!" I shouted at the greedy blacksmith, my hands on the table. "What do you mean, you won't accept my money?" I gave out a growl at the odd-looking bearded man who claimed to be the best of the best in forging anything as I stared at him.

I took an break from looking for anyone to join up for the Floor 30th Boss fight and thought it would be prudent to upgrade my rapier to some couple of levels, so I headed into one of the few Blacksmith shops around in Hostene only to be denied just because there has been some recent raise on prices for forging, or so he said to me.

The man gave out one crooked smile at me and without a trace of apology in his voice spoke. "It's not my fault if the prices are increasing.. After all, it's the tournament we're talking about here." I glared at him, wondering what to do next. An idea came to me and slowly my mouth became a grin.

I cleared my throat, my hands on my hip, grin still on my face. I knew what I would do next wouldn't be great for his business, but hey, it's his fault for not accepting my money which was all right, considering. "Well, if you won't accept my money, I'd have no choice but to report this to the Council or the Board," I said to him as I opened up my menu and looking for the list of members of either one.

The blacksmith's face paled and started to stutter, his hands waving around. "Uh, uh, wait! Wait, surely we can work something out.." He pleaded to me.

I closed one eye while looking at him with the other, my hand on the name I wanted to sent the report to. I gave out a sigh and closed the menu while putting one hand on the table, the other on my hips as I bend over the table, making sure to expand my chest.

"Well, how about this: I pay you 5,000 Cols for upgrading my rapier, plus I won't have to report this to the higher guys." I said to him, eying him. I could feel his eyes gazing at my chest as he debated with himself; I shuddered at the thought of him trying to pull off one of his moves on me.

The middle-aged man closed his eyes in defeat and I gave him my money while smiling at him and handing over my dear rapier. He went to the back to work on it, so I took the time to recheck my stocks as I walked around.

I pouted at the sight of my slowly declining of Cols and thought it would be a good idea to do some grinding so I'd have enough to gain it back. Once I gained my rapier back, better and newer, I stepped out of the store and gave out a loud sigh.

I knew my plan worked, but suddenly I had the need to take a fast shower to wash off whatever cooties that old pervert guy had. I shook my head to shake off the thoughts of it and walked down to the middle of Hostine. Speaking of perverts, I wonder if that Musashi guy ever learned his lesson and gave out a snort as I reached the fountain and sat down on the bench, wondering what to do next when I heard the unmistakable voice of Musashi and turned my head to my right.

I gaped at the sight of him and oddly enough, it WAS him. I didn't want to meet up with him, but knowing I needed someone to join up for the battle, I groaned inwardly as I got up from the bench and walked up to him.

I loudly cleared my throat close to his ears and spoke while putting my hands on my hips, cocking it to my right. "Well, who do we have here?" I smiled an deviously smile at him while waving to his friend. "I'm surprised to see you again, but then again, this is the floor you usually visit to find some ladies using your 'samurai' charm, which I find gagging."

It was the truth though and it was mainly the reason I hated men trying to protect me. Not to mention, he was in the wrong bar. I tried to hold in my laughter as I remembered the memory of it. It was one of those nights that I just finished up a quest for a friend of mine when he came in and asked for a drink, not knowing this bar was only for ladies that are interested in the same sexes. He then sat near me and started flirting, which I ignored for a bit until he asked me out.

That was the cue to promptly put his place down by punching him in the face and shoving him outside, which was well received by the women who cheered and pretty much paid for my drinks and hotel bills for the next few days. I shook my head, clearing the memory away as I looked at Musashi and his armor friend, waiting for him to say something nice.

"Also, I'm joining the tournament and as much I hate to admit it, I am willing to work with you for the time being," I spoke to him as I reluctantly sent him a friend request. "I don't know if you're a good fighter or not, but I'll be watching you and don't even try to pull that charm on me.." I gave him a quick glare to prove my point.

I sighed, wondering if this was certainly the best thing for everybody.
 

Shinra

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  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy
Renegade kept a cool demeanor as he checked the prices of better pieces of equipment, but he knew his patience was wearing thin, he had enough for a full set of new armor but none seemed to sell his favorite armor class which was a mix of heavy armor and clothing, providing a good armor rating, but also a decent boost to his evade rating, he also saw several one handed swords and claws but none were as good as his current gear.

After the last shop he decided on his next move. "Warp, floor 29, armor shop."

He walked into the shop and looked at the shopkeeper, one of his colleagues.

"Renegade! Long time no see you finally made some time to stop by!"

"Yeah... work's been swamping me lately... listen I'm looking to upgrade from my novice gear, it has served me well but their dexterity has compromised their ratings... only my weapons are holding up." He hoisted his pauldron onto the table. "I would ask you to fix it but I would have to ask again after 5 floors."

"Touche... so you want an upgraded version while still maintaining a similar style and color?"

"Well I like this T-shirt because it was custom-made for my avatar, can you fix it and upgrade it?"

"no problem I can do that with my eyes closed... if I ruin it, you get to pick any piece of equipment out of my shop for free."

Renegade shelled out the gald and his friend took the shirt off and after a few minutes it was finished. "There you go."

Renn slipped the forest green shirt over his head again and looked at the stats and grinned. "You know what I'm gonna go full clothing class... show me any jackets you got..."

"Oooh I had a feeling... how about this?" He pulled out a black coat with a strap going across it in place of a zipper.

"Wait... Soren... this is..." Renegade said as he looked at the coat.

"Just got it today... it's a replica, but it evolves into the same type of coat HE used."

"You got it in Red?"

"There's two black and one red left... Red is going for 14,000, black for 12,000."

"hmmm a bit pricey. I'll sell you my pauldron which you can use for scrap ore, made of silversteel alloy, best novice class material."

"I'll take your pauldron and give you a discount, I'm asking 10,000."

"hmmm if I pay that much I won't have enough to upgrade my jeans or shoes..."

"Well I'm standing at 10."

"Drop it to 7 and I'll work 48 hours a week before overtime for a week after vacation."
Soren rubbed his chin. "Deal... you sure know how to persuade."

He bought the coat and walked out with it on. He saw the weapon shop across the street. He looked at his nature claw... fully upgraded... but not as strong as other claws he had seen... He walked into the shop and in one of the glass cases, he saw a pair of black claws with solid length and sprouted from a targe on each wrist. Renegade checked the stats of one of them and it blew his nature claw out the water. And he had just reached the requirements.

"How much for the claws?"

"5,000 for both."

"Hmmm I do want to get better armor too but I barely have enough... Can I buy just one?"

The merchant's eyes went wide... "You mean you only use one?"

"Yeah so?"

"I was just wondering... that and I made a bet with a friend that there wasn't one that uses only one claw in battle... I'll give both to you for free."

"oh thanks. let me give you my old claw then."

"Okay..." Renegade took the claws and handed his old one over to the merchant and walked out into the town square.

He spotted a boy walking toward a samurai sort-of dude. The samurai was paying little to no attention until he spoke up.

“Hey, Musashi. How is it going? Will Viola be on soon?”

Musashi... He's a pretty solid player... And he must be Crod... wait he sounds familiar... Renegade's memory kicked in as Musashi spoke.
"Speak of the devil, Viola just messaged me, she'll be here soon. Then we'll get started."
It is Max!

Renegade smiled as he walked up to the group. "Hey there... I'm heading upward as well mind if I join your group? I'm Renegade."
 
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