The loud ring of a hammer hitting metal and anvil shouted out its noise throughout the large double garage. A heavy welder's mask hid the wielder of the hammer from view as sparks were jumping every time the hammer hit metal as it was exuberantly shaped to the creators design. She were bare armed though, showing sweaty but flawless skin to the shoulder, giving their gender away as being female. If the long brunette curls that fell freely down her back had not given the game away before that. She was of a slender build but showing quite a defined set of muscles, especially in the arms. She'd been working for several hours on that single item taking shape on the anvil.
Before Halloween, she had not had the first idea how to do something like that. During that night, though, she had worn a costume that had forever changed her. Although she did not know it, had changed her in much the same way as others had changed. Unlike Liam or Harmony though, she had at least known what she had gone as. She was a bit of a closet gamer and playing that particular game was one of the many things she enjoyed doing in the off hours from Fondren High School.
Amelia lifted the welding mask off her face and looked at the breastplate that had formed under her hammer. Dark blue eyes framed in an attractive face with pouting lips surveyed her latest masterpiece with some satisfaction. It had taken some time, but she was ready. For what, she was not sure. Only that the Light was definitely trying to tell her something and that she had to be fully armored to do it, to make the right kind of impression on the people she would be shortly meeting.
Again, she just was not entirely sure whom 'they' were, or in fact where she was supposed to go in order to meet them. The Light was funny that way she was finding; it was not entirely accurate, but so far it had not led her wrong.
The thing that had been Jason Bell was sat in his room brooding. It was not happy with the world in which it found itself. It was too bright, too alive and far too human for its liking. It had walked on many such planets, although they had usually been prepared for it' coming. After which point they were virtually lifeless husks perfect for its legion of demons and his glorious self. He was but a shade of what he once was thanks to a battle on a world in entirely another dimension, and had leapt on the chance of leaving the twisting nether without thought about where it might be going. He had himself on a planet not unlike Azeroth, but there seemed to be fewer races here but just as alive, just as mocking to his great self personally. That had to change and, while he was but a shade of himself, he could see various ways in which he could begin its ultimate conversion into a new base of operations. He would reach out to some of the puny minds around him, dominate them and control their actions. It would be slow going to begin with, but the more minds he controlled the less work he would have to do himself. His powers were greatly weakened by the crossing from the twisting nether but even then, he had the powers of the vessel which he inhabited. If he concentrated, he could just hear the pathetic whining of the vessel, pleading for its life. It was - pleasant - to have that noise, even though it was occasionally annoying.
Eyes aflame with nether energy he looked out at the pathetically tiny room he was currently forced to inhabit. It was hardly a throne room, but it would do. After all, it was but a matter of time and he could have one of the many slaves he would dominate make him a throne inside a place that befitted his position.
After Medivh had died during one of the entity's plans to rid himself of Azeroth forever, his spirit had been cast back into the twisting nether. At the time he had feared that there would never be a vessel to could contain his great power. Then he realized something quite important: when a vessel contacted him through the nether itself to another dimension entirely, he did not need the vessel to contain all of his regal self; he only required it to contain some of it, the parts that would lead to him cultivating a greater vessel, one that could contain his entirety. He would have to start slowly, which angered him greatly, but then he had eternity if he wished it. What was a few years? Therefore, he had taken the vessel on offer and allowed but a portion of himself to slip through and take it. Now he had to reach out and take this world for himself and build up his forces, build himself an avatar that could contain his greatness and then, and only then, he could reach out once more into the stars and across the dimensional plains to gain his revenge.
To that end he reached out to the minds of the frail humans within reach, within what he had come to find was called a 'frat house', and he took them for himself, made them his willing slaves. He sent them scurrying about to do his bidding and settled back to rest. He required much rest at that time, his powers not so easy to wield as they had been before. He of course blamed his frail shell for that, but in time it would learn to channel greater amounts of his power and then he would be able to do so very much more. Extend his reach past the humans in the frat house and perhaps take over much of the campus. But that was for later; first he had to gain some more power and he knew just how to do that.
Giles had to admit he was actually fascinated at the discussion going on around him at the moment. "So, the -urh- leader tells the other, urm, players what to do?"
"Yes Mr. Giles, but obviously the individual has to make their own decisions about a few things." Jonno replied respectfully. He, Willow and Buffy were all talking about the game that had spawned the changes in his life and, to his surprise, they all seemed more than a little interested in it. However, he rather wished that Xander were there as, frankly, he felt a little out of his depth around Xander's friends. Willow was asking the questions that one would expect a fellow computer geek to ask about how the game was run and what hardware was used in the actual delivery of the game to a user. Buffy was asking about the warfare aspect, and Mr. Giles was asking pointed questions about some of the tactics, team tactics and individual tactics that were used.
"What sort of individual decisions?" Giles asked.
"For my class the biggest ones are DPS and crowd control really." Jonno replied thoughtfully. "For a healer it depends on if it's a raid or just a 5 manner. If it is a raid then a healer could have one of a couple of jobs. A main tank healer just looks after the tank for instance, whereas a raid healer looks after everyone else."
"DPS?" Buffy asked. Jonno had to admit she was just plain gorgeous, and the way she asked questions made him think of a typical valley girl. Nevertheless, he knew differently; firstly he was not so stupid as to fall for the act, and secondly Xander always talked about her in glowing terms.
"Damage per Second. It is a nice term to say how much damage we are doing. If you do too much you can pull agro from the tank. That means the mob, urm, bad person, suddenly takes notice of the wrong person. So you have to keep your damage as high as possible without pulling the agro."
"Can a healer do damage?" Giles asked.
"Yes, but generally they don't. They have their own damaging spells and some of the end game healers have enough spell damage stat that they can really hurt when they hit. However, they have their own problems with threat to worry about, so they stick to healing, and of course everything takes mana and they save that for healing as well. Otherwise when someone needs a heal the healer might not be able to do it because they are what we call OOM, that's out of mana." Jonno said. In truth he was coming into his element talking about the practical details of the game.
"What have stats got to do with it all?" Giles asked looking slightly confused, "and what's threat?"
"The higher the threat, the more likely you are to pull agro from the tank." Jonno explained. "As for stats, that's getting harder to explain. You have base stats that grow as you level up, that is become more powerful. You can improve them further using talent point spends and gear. Some stats are not that important, depending on your class. As a mage for instance I need lots of Intellect for my Mana Pool, and spell crit., damage etc." Jonno smiled slightly. "The game uses these things to limit how powerful we can become. Xander and I are finding out that out in the real world things aren't so limited."
"That's almost worrying," Giles commented "after seeing the sheer amount of power you already command last night."
Jonno nodded, "I think it's now down to personal responsibility more than any game mechanic to keep things on a more even keel. In addition, just so you know, Xander and I were not going all out last night because we just plain do not have to. Vampires are not really that hard for us to kill. My main spells use fire by preference; we all know how they react to that. Xander's use nature energy for what of a better term, and it's like they're being staked with just about any spell he does. Even his arcane spells seem to hit them hard despite the fact that mine do not do as much damage. I think it is because everything he does comes from nature in some fashion and Vampires are allergic to anything natural. Then of course there is holy energy and vampires *really* hate that."
"Which of you uses that?" Willow asked.
"Neither of us does actually, but I can't say anything else."
"You know who this mysterious 'other' is then?" Buffy asked with a slight smile.
Jonno nodded. "I do, but I'm not saying. They asked me not to, not until they are ready, if that ever happens."
"I would think anyone would want to help us if they knew they could and what happened at night." Willow replied.
Jonno nodded. "I can understand that thought, but it doesn't apply to this person really."
"Why not?" Buffy asked.
"Because they don't think like that. To them this is all a bad thing that has happened to them personally and, while they are coming to terms with it, they have to get over that before they think about helping anyone else out." Jonno smiled again. "But that's really all I'll say on the matter. Any other questions about anything else?"
"I wanted to ask a little more about the tactics of the game." Giles jumped in with his question.
"Ask away." Jonno replied.
Xander walked aimlessly through town. School had just finished, and before he checked in with the others he wanted to go to the store and pick up a few items for his home. It was strange to him that he could do that anytime he wanted now. He did not have to beg to get grocery money and, if he wanted, he could go out and buy a lamp whenever he felt like it. Not because his father had broken one in a drunken stupor and required the only sane, i.e. sober, member of the family to go out and get one.
He was slowly filling his large apartment with things he liked and wanted. He had himself a nice computer set up, something he had never dared hope for before. He had to admit it was mostly for playing World of Warcraft, but still it was his and he could use it for anything he wanted. He did not have to worry about it being hocked or broken. His furniture was all new, his cupboards full of actual food, and not a drop of alcohol was present in the entire apartment.
Things, he decided, were looking good.
Xander paused for a moment as a chill went up his spine, and his dark eyes cast around the streets looking for the source of the strange feeling. At first he saw nothing, and then on greater inspection he realized that he was being watched from across the street. He blushed slightly, a leftover thing from when he had been just Xander Harris. Across the street from him was one of the most attractive girls he had ever seen. Long dark hair that cascaded down to the middle of her back. A slender figure, high cheekbones and a full mouth that was slightly open in shock. As he focused his other senses on her he felt a great deal of life from her. More than any 'normal' person he had met, more than his own, and he was wearing some of his stat gear. There was also a sense that she had some mana, though not a huge amount, not even to his levels. There was a sense of power about her, a good power, so he was fairly sure she was not up to anything nefarious. She seemed as surprised to see him as he was so see her, despite the fact neither of them knew the other. This was strange because she looked around his age.
Xander tilted his head to one side, almost in question, only to receive a nod and then the girl pointed to the coffee shop beside her. So Xander nodded at her and began to make his way across the road, ignoring the fact he was jay walking to get to her faster.
They arrived at the door at the same time and stood there for a moment.
"Buy you a coffee?" Xander said after a moment of silence.
"Sure," the girl said with a slight smile that twisted her lips in an attractive way. "Amelia Jones - pleased to meet you …"
"Xander, Xander Harris. It's a pleasure to meet you too." He said letting her go through the door before him, checking her out as she passed him. They quickly got their coffee ordered and went to a table near the window. One, Xander noted, that had a good view of the area in which they were sitting.
There was a moment of silence and then they both said at the same time, "Halloween?" in a questioning tone.
Another moment of silence and then a laugh from them both.
"So Halloween then." Xander said with a smile.
"Yeah, this is weird. I knew I would be meeting someone today, or some people; it wasn't too clear on that."
"The Light, the source of some of my abilities."
Xander thought quickly. Something about Amelia did not lend itself to a priest and with the amount of life she had then she almost had to be "A Paladin?"
Amelia's smile lit up the nearby area. "Nice guess. You play WoW then?"
"I do, yeah, more now than before actually."
"Me too, though it's weird because I know my character in a much more personal way than before."
Xander smiled slightly. "I would never have taken you for a WoW player."
Amelia half frowned. "Why not?"
"Urh, because, well, you're good looking."
"So, so are you."
Amelia blushed vividly and quickly changed the subject. "You're around my age but I don't know you. Therefore, that means Sunnydale High. Fondren here."
"Ahh, that explains that then." Xander said with a nod, "And, yeah, Sunnydale High here."
There was another moment of silence. "I'm told that you work for good yourself." Amelia said looking at Xander pointedly.
Xander nodded. "I suppose you could say that. Myself and a few others - we do what we can to keep the town safe."
"Not exactly, but something very much like them."
"How can I help?"
"You want to help? Just like that?"
"Yes, is that so unusual?"
"Well, no, I suppose not. But most of the people in the town seem to repress."
"I couldn't really repress anything after what happened on Halloween," Amelia said with a grin. "Now could I?"
Xander returned the grin with interest, and the two just smiled at each other for a beat or two longer than would be normal for total strangers. Xander shook himself, then nodded to himself. "Look, I have to finish off some shopping, and then if you like you could come with me to a meeting that's due later this evening."
"Sure, I could help if you like. I'm pretty good at carrying stuff now." She added with another smile. "Got way strong after Halloween."
"Yeah, I picked up a bit of muscle myself."
"I can tell." Amelia said giving Xander the once over. "So where are we going shopping?"
Xander smiled, surprised at how comfortable he felt around this virtual stranger, but then she virtually glowed with goodness. It was a heady feeling, but he could also tell there was an undercurrent of mischief about her that he quite liked. "I'm filling up my stores for my engineering. Have you remembered your professions?"
Amelia nodded. "Yeah, I just finished making my breast plate last night actually. It took me awhile to figure out the differences and what I could use here instead of the things that were available in the game. There's a magic shop not far from here that has some stuff in it I've used."
"I use it myself." Xander said with some surprise. "Small world."
"So engineering, huh? That must be fun. I used to do a little on another character, and some of the devices are wild."
Xander smiled again. "Tell me about it. I made and sold the designs for something recently actually."
"Really? Something that has real world applications? What on earth would that be, because I'm thinking a ray that makes you smaller is not so useful?"
"Field generator." Xander replied and winked. "Worth a few dollars to say the least."
"Sweet. What about your clothes? because they don't look store bought."
"I made them myself. I had to learn to skin, but after that I was well away."
"You can then? Skin, as in another profession?"
"Yes, we're not limited to two in the real world. In fact if you show me yours I'll show you mine."
"Now there's an offer!"