A Sequel to Gamers Belong
Gamers Unify
CHAPTER
1
Anna
Before we adjourn, let us offer one last thank you to Anna for joining the team—or guild that is!” That got a chuckle from the group. “We are confident that you will go far in your career here at Sword Swift!”
I smiled slightly as the board of executives clapped enthusiastically. The Chancellor, as the employees at Sword Swift like to call him, stood at the head of the table. His steely gray eyes were bright as he gave me a kind smile, his cheeks dimpling. The clapping ceased from the other executives, and so we each began packing up our laptops and other materials. I slowed my pace as I slid my sleek new computer into my bag and stood. I waited patiently for the other employees to file out as I stood by the door. Finally, I was left alone in the meeting room. I had wanted to take a chance to look out the window since I stepped into the building. The New York City skyline lay outside, all different colors melting together to create one fantastical scene that was like no land I’d ever encountered in the virtual world. That was one thing that video games seemed to lack—the reality. It never quite met the beauty of the real world, and yet it surpassed it in so many ways. They were still so different. . .
“It’s a beautiful view, don’t you agree?” I turned suddenly to see the Chancellor clutching his bag to his side and smiling at the view. He seemed to peer at something far in the distance. His eyes were a solid gray; it reminded me of water in a pot as it starts to boil.
“It is,” I replied softly, and then turned back to the window. I still couldn’t believe I was actually in the Sword Swift Headquarters. It still seemed like a fantasy.
“You’ll do well here, I’m sure. Stay as long as you like. I’ll see you in two weeks.” Then with that, the Chancellor was gone. My new boss, whom I wouldn’t be able to see again for two whole weeks disappeared around the corner. At that moment, I couldn’t feel sad because I knew that once I got home I would be with my friends, Will Ferris and Triston. We would play Combat Sorcier Online—an MMO we’d just started playing made by Sword Swift—and I could tell them my ideas for the beta of Sword Swift’s next MMORPG, mass multiplayer online role-playing game.
Smiling to myself, I made my way through simply decorated halls and past offices until I reached the elevator. The steel doors showed me my reflection, and I noticed a new look in my light gray eyes: hope. I’d never seen that expression on my face. Running my fingers through my newly dyed blue hair, I sighed and pressed the button beside the elevator doors, knowing that I wouldn’t press it again for two weeks. I will be back though, I thought, feeling my lips twitch upwards briefly. I was in a pleasant mood as I stepped into the elevator with my computer in tow. I waited patiently for the elevator to bring me to the ground floor. As soon as the doors opened, I stepped out into the lobby and darted past the chatty receptionist. I gave a quick, “Bye Terry,” and didn’t wait for her reply.
I was just to the huge glass doors, when I noticed that a single person was sitting in the waiting area. The striking blue eyes took me off guard, but I couldn’t help but grin as I turned to look at the boy. His hazelnut brown hair was neatly combed, and his impish features looked even more mischievous than usual. I remembered the time when I first met this boy and thought he looked like an elf in one of my RPGs. Had I known he was much more arrogant than any elf I’d encountered, I probably wouldn’t have thought as much. Sighing, I narrowed my eyes at Will Ferris.
“How do you always manage to track me down?” I muttered. He didn’t reply, only stood up from his chair and walked over to me, taking me in his arms. He leaned down and took my chin in his hands, tilting my head up as he kissed me gently.
Will Ferris and I walked into the coffee shop where I knew my mom would be waiting. She sat at a table with a book in her hands, her brown wedged hair hanging in her face. As I walked through the door, her gaze darted up and she smiled bright. “Anna! Hey!” I felt my cheeks redden in embarrassment.
The first second she saw Will, she jumped from her table and walked over to give Will a hug. He laughed at me when I rolled my eyes. We’d been holding hands until we reached the cafe for just this kind of scenario. My mother loved Will Ferris. I think she just likes to make fun of me but I can tell she genuinely cares about him.
“I’ll leave you two alone to talk,” my mom said as she turned to go back to her table. I was about to protest, but in truth, I’d been praying she would let us talk between just us. I needed someone to tell all of my ideas to. I would explode if I didn’t. Since the meeting, my mind had been filling with different concepts for skills and weapons, even just simple side quests. My mind was a blur of RPG enhancements. The Chancellor probably had no idea he’d hired such a hardcore gamer such as myself.
Will and I sat across from each other at a small table next to a window where I could see residents of New York City strolling by. With my laptop on the table, I scrolled through files where I’d scanned drawings of weapon designs and armor, as well as even physical customization options. Will Ferris simply smiled and nodded as I explained each one in detail. He listened intently while he sipped his coffee and watched me with his sky blue eyes. Finally, I had to pause for breath and take a gulp of my latte when I looked up and Will Ferris was smiling bright. I raised my eyebrows. How long have I been talking? I wondered.
“That’s so cool, Anna,” he told me. He wrapped his hands around mine as I held my coffee cup. My cheeks reddened slightly at his touch. I still wasn’t quite used to it.
“Thanks,” I muttered, shying away from his gaze. He took his hands back and sat up straight, tensing up as if he was trying to hide something. “What is it?” I asked, now curious at his odd demeanor. Will fidgeted with the zipper on his jacket.
“Well,” he began nervously. I nodded for him to go on. “I was wondering if you’d be interested in something. A tournament for teams of three, tomorrow at a convention center. You know, it’s the biggest tournament in Combat Sorcier. So I thought maybe, you, me, and Triston could fight. I hear the rewards are unheard of for any normal tournament.” I hesitated. I knew we could win it. The only thing was. . .
“It sounds worth checking out, but Delyder is a new avatar for me so she’s not that experienced. Besides, I’ve only been practicing my archery skill. You’d have to be vanguard in a match like that, since I can only use ranged attacks.” Will nodded and raised his eyebrows as if he’d already thought about it. I scowled in contemplation.
“It’ll be fun,” Will added in a sing-song voice. I couldn’t help but smile easily as he said this. When I was with Will I couldn’t help but smile at him. He was my best friend. I nodded in agreement.
Just then, Will Ferris stood up from his seat, zipping up his jacket over his shirt. I gave him a questioning look as he pushed his chair back under tha table and placed a few dollars before me. “For your coffee. I have to go now. My mom won’t be happy that I went to New York City without permission. I’ll text you the address to the convention center, okay? See you tomorrow.” With that, I sat bewildered as Will started out of the coffee shop. He passed the window out on the sidewalk right by where I sat. For a moment I sat there frozen, unsure of what to think. It was so sudden.
What kind of a goodbye was that? I asked myself, slightly angry. My face red, I jumped up from my seat, leaving my laptop open on the table and ran after Will. I darted past groups of strangers, my boots pounding on the concrete. He was standing at a corner waiting for a taxi when I ran up beside him. “Wha-?” He started when his wide blue eyes caught sight of me.
Despite the fact that I was out of breath, I cut him short as I firmly pressed my lips to his. My mind was completely still as I kissed him for only a second. With that simple action, I leaped back, smiling slightly. “See you tomorrow,” I whispered, breathless.
I started sprinting back to the coffee shop, looking back only once to see Will Ferris standing motionless with his mouth gaping.

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