“Well, well, well!” Vraeden called from the plush couch in the break room. “Look what the cat dragged in! Rough night?”
“Go to hell.” Vraedyn sighed without much enthusiasm or threat. She dropped her lightsaber on the coffee table and collapsed into one of the recliners. “I swear by all that is holy, if I ever see a huttball again, it will be too soon.”
Her SWTOR compatriot, Sitharella, headed straight for the fridge, where she withdrew a pair of ice packs and a bucket of frozen margarita from the freezer. Vraedyn caught one of the ice packs using the Force and set it on her aching lower back, as Sitharella melted some of the margarita mix with her lightsaber.
The other SWTOR characters looked bored.
“What about you?” Vraeden asked. A group of hobbits and Sindar were playing cards at the dinner table. A twi’lek was teaching a couple of Norn, a High Elf and a Sylvari a new line dance. Lost in her own world, a night elf sat knitting a scarf while listening to something on her iPod.
“We just did some crafting,” her similarly-named twi’lek character flashed a half-completed Sudoku book as the other SWTOR toons settled in. “And yourself?”
“Most of the same,” Vraeden replied. “LOTRO is kind of dead right now. No one will admit it, but half the server is in the expansion beta and everyone else is kind of burned out on Wildermore dailies. Mostly He just logs us in to make some of the weekly guild recipes. Every now and then we run a 3-man or look for crafting mats.”
“At least He’s still playing your game,” Vraeden straightened out her Starfleet-issue tunic and pouted.
“I’ll trade you sitting around on your starship for the PVP beatdown we took tonight.” Vraedyn didn’t even bother to open her eyes as Sitharella handed her a giant margarita glass. Both Sith inquisitors gulped down the frozen concoction.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Sitharella plopped down on the sofa and hunted around for the remote control.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Vraedyn admonished her friend. “You get to stealth around and gank people when they’re not looking. I’m the healer! They mark me and they farm me! And you all know what a lousy healer He is!”
The others sympathised with her; life in PVP isn’t easy. Especially for the healers.
“Um, excuse me,” a deep, growling voice said from the door.
“Can you not get brimstone on the new carpet, please?” one of the hobbits yelled out from across the room.
“Sorry,” Thaurlach said apologetically. Only his head would fit into the room from the hallway. “The ice machine down the hall is broken. Do you know where another one is?”
“I think the iTunes playlists have one,” LOTRO Vraeden said.
“I’ll check with them. Thanks!” the balrog withdrew, only to poke in again. “Sorry about the floor. I’ll have someone from maintenance come up to look at it.”
The other toons waved away the winged giant’s apology as he went lumbering off.
“How are the Fantasy Football teams doing?” Sitharella asked after a few minutes of channel flipping.
“Four and two,” Voontak looked up from cleaning laser emitter on his BFG. “One of our teams got torched by Peyton—”
A commotion down the hall drowned out whatever else he had to say.
“Form up!” Commander Shepard yelled from the doorway. “The Lemmings are loose again!”
“Frak!” the Vraedens swore in stereo.
“When did He reinstall Lemmings?” Vraeomir unsheathed his sword and planted the Hope banner in the middle of the room, it’s glow marking the rally point for all to see.
“He was feeling nostalgic!” Femshep checked the charge and safety on her M8 Avenger as she ran past.
“I’ll show Him ‘nostalgic’,” Vraedyn grumbled as she downed the last of her margarita while summoning her lightsaber with the other hand.
“Whose turn was is to guard the Lemmings?” Sitharella asked no one in particular as the group headed down the hallway towards the excitement. She swung her arms in wide circles, trying to loosen the muscles up again.
“The Byzantines,” Commander Shepard didn’t even bother to hide the contempt in his voice.
“I knew we never should have trusted anyone from Civ 5 to watch those things!” Lieutenant Vraeden drew the phaser from her belt and set it to “kill”.
The Lemmings were making quite a ruckus amidst the stacks of bits and bytes. Some were building steps to somewhere, some were climbing the walls (literally) and some were digging into the flooring.
“Shoot them! Don’t let them corrupt the partition!” Femshep raised her weapon to fire. An explosion rocked the corridor. “And stay away from the ones with the timer over their heads; they’re the bombers!”
The snap-hiss of lightsabers and crackle of Force lightning joined the chants of the mages, rune-keepers and minstrel songs as the MMO toons leapt into battle against the onslaught of mindless Lemmings.
Above them all, a new battle cry sounded.
“Go for the eyes, Boo! GO FOR THE EYES! RrraaaAAGHGHH!!!”
An impossibly large human jumped into the fray, swinging a mighty sword with a berserker’s fury. Most of the others pulled back to get out of Minsc (and Boo’s) path.
“When did He reinstall Baldur’s Gate?” Vraedyn paused her Force Lightning Storm long enough to admire the muscular ranger’s battle form.
“One, Two and Throne of Bhaal,” Femshep paused long enough to re-load. “Word is that He hooked the joystick and throttle up again, too. Looks like X-Wing: Alliance is also coming back.”
“Who told you that?” Sitharella stabbed a Lemming through the neck with her double-bladed lightsaber, then cut two more down with a graceful spinning move.
“Jayna from Arcanum,” Femshep replied. “She’s usually in the know when it comes to what kind of mood He’s in.”
Minsc cut down the last of the errant Lemmings and let loose a thunderous cry of victory. “BUTT-KICKING FOR GOODNESS!!!!”
Some of the others headed back to the break room, while a few of the MMO toons tried to undo the damage wrought by the Lemmings. They gave up after a few minutes, figuring that the regular defragmenting would take care of it.
LOTRO minstrel Vraeden and Femshep stopped long enough to greet the young women who had followed Minsc towards the sounds of battle.
“Well, hello, strangers!” Femshep ran up to the wizards and gave them a warm embrace. “Who the hell do you think you are showing up out of nowhere?”
“Heya!” the taller of the two laughed. “It’s me, Imoen!”
Aerie, the shorter Faerûn elf, enveloped her Middle-Earth cousin in a tight bear hug. “Lots of new faces since our last install.”
“Yeah,” Vraeden agreed. “He likes to fire up a new game every now and then, but then it always seems like He goes back to the old faves.”
“Hence the BG reinstall, huh?”
“I’d say so.” The elves led the others back to where they were gathered prior to the latest Lemming escape. “So what have you been up to?”
“Just hanging out on the storage drive. Listening to Jaheira complain. Keldorn is going on and on about Paladin stuff. Viconia is bored out of her skull. You know: the usual.”
The pair had a laugh.
“There’s a dance party later tonight down in the Music library,” Vraeden slipped her hand into the crook of Aerie’s arm. “You have got to go out with me and the twi’leks. If I have to do /dance_hobbit or /dance_hobbit2 again, I’m going to go crazy!”
The crew settled into the lounge that was usually reserved to the MMO toons, catching up like the old friends they were.
All of the heads in the room turned when a scantily-clad human walked in.
“Hi, I’m Tori; I was wondering if you guys had anything to eat.” She seemed kind of embarrassed. “I was hanging out with the Microsoft applications but they don’t have any food. Something about it being a hardware issue.”
“All we’ve got is some snacky stuff,” Sitharella was the only one whose first instinct wasn’t to say something snide. “If you want real food, there’s a sandwich shop and a Starbucks over in the My Photos gallery. And I think a Panera just opened near Guild Wars 2.”
“Oh, I’d kill for a latte and a rueben right now. How do I get there?”
“Go down the hall and take a right when you get to the T. Get on the SATA-III bus to the hard drive.”
“Where am I now?”
“You’re on the solid state drive.”
“Once you get to the hard drive, take the escalator down to the second platter, hang a left by Williams-Sonoma and it will be on the left after that.”
Everyone’s eyes watched the leggy brunette saunter off.
“You can pick your jaw up off the floor and put your eyeballs back in their sockets now, Vraedan.”
The handsome Chiss turned to his fellow SWTOR character. “Really, sister? You’re a body type 4 in a metal bikini and you’re implying that she’s under-dressed?”
“I can’t help it if He put this ridiculous outfit on me! At least the LOTRO toons get dresses!”
“And she can’t help it that He forgot to clear the browser cache last night.” Vraedan vainly tried to defend his oogling. “Besides, all she wants is a sandwich.”
“From the look of it,” Aerie chimed in, “I’d say she was the sandwich.”
Everyone snickered as Vraedan blushed as much as his deep blue skin would show.
The lively discussion was cut short when the klaxon sounded.
“What the frak is He doing awake?” Vraedyn wailed, clearly not wanting to face several rounds of the Voidstar or the Pit. “He just went to bed!”
“Maybe He’ll spend the rest of the night watching cat videos on YouTube,” Sitharella allowed a sliver of hope to shine through.
“Or maybe He will take the Constellation out for a spin,” Vraeden smoothed out the creases in her Starfleet uniform “just in case”.
“I’ll bet He loads up SWTOR to check on some auctions He put up earlier,” Voontak reassembled the last pieces of his BFG in case their user decided to do more than just gouge people at the GTN. “Then He’ll probably write another ten thousand word article for that website that hasn’t had the good sense to revoke His login yet.”
A booming disembodied voice came over the PA.
“Attention: All SWTOR characters report to DDR3 SO-DIMM module 2 for loading queue. Remember to live every day as if there were no rezzes.”
The break room buzzed with activity as the Star Wars characters gathered their gear in case He wanted to take them adventuring.
Vraedyn was the last to head out. “I swear: If He sends me in to one more PVP match, I’m going to erase every bit that’s in the boot sector.”
“Stop complaining,” the Vraedens from Rift, Guild Wars 2 and Star Trek: Online called after her. “At least He plays your game!”