Standard Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world which they reside in. They were created by the amazing people at Zombie Orpheus Entertainment for their fantastic RPG Masters of the Metaverse. Type it into your search engine of choice now!
Finally it was here, the pay off for all of his hard work, the reward for his dedication, the prize for his sacrifice. Brony Robbins took a breath and looked around him, their sacrifice he corrected as his gaze fell on his partner Crash Jaxun. The pair looked like stereotypical gamers, pale skin, less than ideal physiques and even worse fashion sense with Crash in cargo pants and a Games B4 Food T-shirt and Brony similarly dressed apart from his T-shirt bearing a logo for a band called Death From Above which all pointed to poor attempts at personal hygiene but neither cared. They were here in Las Vegas for the grand final of the World Video Game Tournament. The pair had spent the last year travelling the entire globe for this. They’d played Tekkin in Tokyo, Need for more Speed in the Naples, Marioh Kart in Melbourne and even Doome in Dublin. They’d been unstoppable, the team supreme with each playing to their strengths and covering the others weakness.
Now there were only three people remaining between him and the title of the best video gamer in the world. It was actually four but had Crash had agreed to second place in return for the fact it was Brony’s parents who’d financed the pair of them. I mean where was a pair of eighteen year olds going the get the thousand dollar entry fee and purchase flights around the world. He remembered how he’d begged his father for the money even the promise of free advertising and prestige for the family firm wasn’t enough. In the end Brony had been forced to submit and promised to do the one thing that he’d sworn he never would. He told his father if he didn’t win then he’d give up gaming and enrol in law school and become an attorney just like his elder siblings. That more than any other reason was why he couldn’t let anyone else beat him especially not that no good Dixon kid who’d nearly button bashed him into defeat at StreetWarrior in Seattle.
Brony was snapped back to present by a sharp elbow in the ribs from Crash. He glared at his friend and ten realised that the commentator has began his announcements and that he should pay attention.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, video game fans of all ages, welcome to the 6th Annual Video Games championship grand final. Today our five finalists will take part in a series of games with the lowest scoring competitor being eliminated. Then when only two remain they’ll compete in a head to head match with the winner be crowned best gamer in the world and receiving a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar cash prize plus a years contract with Project Metaverse games.” The compeer boomed into his microphone.
The comment caused Brony and Crash to look again neither had heard of the games company and all their research had drawn a blank. It didn’t concern them though as being paid to play games was their idea of heaven so they didn’t care who was paying the wages.
The announcer continued as he moved on to introducing the players to the audience.
“First hailing from London, England, the current holder of both UK and Europe gamer of the year awards, Neville Quinn-Smythe.” There was rapturous applause as the spotlight picked out a young man in his early twenties. He was well dressed in an obviously expensive suit and a red with white spots bow tie.
Brony and Crash both sneered as Neville waved politely to the crowd. This fop wasn’t any competition as he obviously cared more about looking good than playing the game.
“Next he’s been called the bad boy of gaming, current holder of the record for times suspended from an online platform. The mayor of his hometown asked me not to mention them so I’ll just say that he is from here in the USA, Larry Dixon.” The applause was louder but it didn’t quite drown out the booing and catcalls. Dixon stood in jeans and a plaid shirt grinning despite or maybe due to the obvious ill feeling towards.
This time Brony and Crash frowned before nodding in agreement as Larry was to be their first target. He was a possible threat as well being a world class pain in the ass.
Next came the announcement that Brony had been waiting for, not his own or Crash’s as they were due to be introduced fourth and fifth. No, the third contestant was the mysterious wild card. They’d been picked (supposedly at random) from everyone who taken part in all of the qualifiers. This meant that the duo had not had the opportunity to develop a strategy.
“The third of our competitors resides in Calgary, Canada and has held the title of Best Lady Gamer for three consecutive years. Please give a warm welcome to Tessa St.Claire.” The applause had again increased as the spotlight came to rest on a petite blonde young woman; she was wearing slacks and a blouse.
Brony raised an eyebrow to Crash enquiring if he knew the girl because there was definitely something familiar about her. Crash just shrugged as if to say that he didn’t even know that they gamed in Canada.
“And finally the dynamic duo, winners of the All America Gaming Open Team tournament, Brony “the bulldozer” Robbins and Crash “the Gatling gun” Jaxun” The applause was thunderous and Brony punched a fist in the air but it was only increased when Crash smiling his little boy lost smile raised a single finger as if to signify number one.
Brony frowned surely that was number two as they’d agreed, he scanned the audience and saw more Crash than Brony banners. Well as least Crash would have people to console him when he came in runner up. He tapped his friend on the shoulder and gestured to the left to indicate he wanted a quiet word before they began. Crash shuffled off still looking slightly bemused and waving to people in the crowd.
“So it’ll go as we agreed, the Canadian girl doesn’t change the original plan. We get rid of the no good Dixon boy first, then the posh brit followed by the girl.” Brony paused.
“Then I take a dive and you win. Yes I know, you’ve only repeated it a couple of thousand times.” Crash sounded frustrated.
“We didn’t know who player 3 was so it might have changed.” Brony retorted.
“And now we do and it hasn’t, let’s go before we get disqualified for being late.” Crash was heading to the stage before he finished speaking.
The first two games went entirely as planed it seemed that Neville and Tessa had an equally low opinion of Larry and had assisted in his elimination. The game had been had a Rapid Racer, a straight forward street racing game involving hot rods and requiring quick reflexes. The players had ensured from the beginning that Larry was in last place and stayed there. If he tried to overtake at least one of them moved to block him. They all knew that they didn’t have to win they just had to not be last. Neville came first, then Brony followed by Crash next was Tessa and finally Larry. True to form Larry Dixon stormed off the stage but not before hurling his controller through the screen and when threatened with the repair bill laughed and said to send it to his sponsors.
Brony was smiling from ear to ear, one down two to go. It was all going to plan and he could already see the life-size Lora Croft poster on his office wall.
Neville went next but he didn’t go without a fight, the young Englishman might look like something out of GQ but the G must stand for gamer. They were playing Alien Attack next, a game with the title telling you everything that you needed to know. Crash and Brony worked as team making sure they provided covering fire to each other whilst isolating the others and denying them first aid kits, ammo and power ups. Tessa and Neville despite this survived an extraordinarily long team displaying Special Forces levels of marksmanship.
“Well played Mr Bond” Tessa quipped to the Englishman and it was that momentary distraction that spelt his end.
It was as he paused to respond a hive queen decapitated him causing the loss of his fourth and final life. Shortly after Tessa also fell but Brony got the impression that she just couldn’t be bothered now that she was through to the next round. The Englishman headed off stage with his head down and his shoulders slumped clearly disappointed then as he was passing Tessa she handed him a piece of paper. Brony couldn’t see what was written on it but it was apparently enough to cheer Neville up and then some. When he held up the piece of paper and to Tessa and she answered with a wink the Brit completely missed the stairs and stepped off the edge of the stage. This was of course hilarious to the audience who howled with laughter and Mr UK gamer when he stood back clearly uninjured joined in.
What a jerk, Brony thought clearly more interest in a pretty face than winning the game and that was why he lost. The points were the most important thing because they made you a winner and if you weren’t a winner then you were a loser. Anyway he didn’t have time to about all the losers in the world as all he had to do was get rid of little miss gamer and then he’d be the world champion, well once Crash submitted anyway.
Brony could have cheered when they announced the third game Dungeon Gauntlet was a dungeon crawl adventure game, a game with no player on player attack options but it was probably his best game. He doubted that he’d even need Crash to help him. Then it got better still as he was given his signature character the axe wielding barbarian. A bucket full of hit points and doing huge damage, it was only magic which could take him down. He’d already won before he’d pressed a single button.
The game started and he hurtled towards the monsters hewing zombies to the left and orcs to right. He was stacking up kills like cordwood and collecting gold as if it was going out of fashion. Brony glanced up the scoreboard after five minutes and he was already on five thousand, seven hundred and sixty five points, Crash as the elf archer was on three thousand and something and Tessa playing the fey witch had less than two thousand. Brony laughed this was too easy and when he looked again at ten minutes he’d more than trebled his score and Tessa was only just on three thousand.
Then when there was only thirty seconds on the countdown it all went suddenly and unexplainably wrong. The barbarian was at the front of the party when the fey witch pointed her wand at him. What was she doing Brony wondered there was no PVP in this game then as the lightning bolt hit and words “Hack Attack” flashed on the screen his world came crashing down around him. As the clock counted down the final seconds the smug grin slid from the face of Brony Robbins because his and Tessa’s scores had been reversed. He’d been eliminated but how?
He was still trying to puzzle it as Tessa obviously excited at avoiding elimination jumped up and down so much that the blonde wig slid from her head. Her hair wasn’t blonde it was brown, the same brown as Crash and then it struck him. He’d never seen the girl before it was her resemblance to Crash that’d made him think that he had.
She’d noticed him staring at her and was approaching so he squared up ready to tell her what he thought of her dirty tricks but she spoke first. “I know you don’t think so but trust me Brony I’ve done you a favour maybe even saved your life. There will come a day that you’ll thank the Founders for what I’ve done here today. Besides I couldn’t bear to see my brother lose” She walked off before he could respond and he saw her giving Crash a familiar hug.
Brony left the stadium without even waiting to hear the results of the final match. He didn’t care who won just that he’d lost because they’d cheated. They would never have beaten him without their Hack Attack whatever the hell one of those was.
He picked up the phone and dialled.
“Robbins, Robbins and Robbins, how may I direct your call?” The receptionist at the family firm asked. If he was lucky then his dad might let have a Lora Croft poster on his office wall.