64 The OG Lunatic Lieu
|| Two-and-a-Half Years Ago ||
When Xiuying Lieu comes home from work, she kicks off her shoes and beelines for the windowless back office where she knows she'll find her brother.
Predictably, he's playing games to unwind from a day of...playing another game.
Xiuying sighs, but an indulgent smile tugs at her lips. Her brother's committed to doing exactly what he loves, and it's not like she's any different.
But it's also important to see the Sun every once in a while. Breathe fresh air. Eat food.
All those boring human things.
Alopix woofs happily and lumbers over to say hi, tail wagging and tongue lolling.
"Hey Pixy." Xiuying scratches the derpy dog's head. "Is my obsessed gamer bro being a big old meanie and ignoring you?"
Pix looks over at Eric, whose pale face is illuminated by bright flashing lights from his three monitors. Then with a low whine, Alopix turns back to Xiuying, eyes baleful and pathetic.
"That's what I thought." Xiuying pops a squat on the overstuffed beanbag in the corner and pulls out her handheld TechBrain. A holo-screen pops up and she logs into the game her brother's playing.
She sticks an earbud in one ear, gets comfortable, and teleports to the battle arena where her brother is teaching mid-level players attack combos.
If she ever called Eric out for being a softie, he'd deny it to his last breath. He likes to pretend he's this hardcore badass who's only looking out for himself...
Except he has multiple alt accounts for over one hundred games, which he specifically uses to anonymously work with newbies and mid-level players who have plateaued and need direction to step up their gameplay.
Eric's fond of saying, "Games are no fun if you suck. And games are no fun if everyone else sucks. I can't have a good fight with someone who isn't having fun."
As if his countless hours helping newbs is purely self-serving.
'Though he IS a battle-crazy little fucker, so maybe he's not entirely lying, either,' Xiuying admits.
She peeks at his screens to see which battle room he's using. When her brother plays an alt account, he always leaves as much public as possible, so anyone who stumbles across his lessons can learn a thing or two. She types in the room code, and her avatar automatically moves to the correct door.
[Choose to Enter: SPECTATOR STANDS or BATTLE FLOOR]
'Called it.' She grins, selecting the second option. Eric's left his room totally open, so anyone who finds the door can either observe his fights or enter the battle themselves.
Eric's low-level Paladin is facing away from the entrance, so the four guys he's teaching see Xiuying's avatar first.
"Hello? You lost?" one of the two knights asks.
"Or maybe you came in for a closer look, eh Princess?" the swordsman says, brandishing his weapon.
Eric turns his avatar around and sees a familiar swordswoman in delicate, flowy gear that looks straight out of a wuxia film. The pink and purple outer robe is decorated with camellia blossoms and butterflies and matches her dark purple sword and pink flowery hairpiece.
His simple curse carries in-game and also in the dark apartment room, so Xiuying can hear it both in her headphone and in her open ear.
She laughs, but it's not the 'laughter like chiming silver bells' bullshit you might expect from her graceful, dignified avatar.
Xiuying straight-up snorts.
"Is that anyway to greet a challenger?" she teases in a singsong voice that makes Eric instinctively raise his Holy Shield and feel a strong desire to pray.
The assassin, however, doesn't notice the danger. "And who exactly are you challenging?" he scoffs at her. "You're ten levels too low to even be good for a training exercise."
"Fuuuuuuck," Eric repeats, this time as a long sigh.
"All of you, I guess," Xiuying answers nonchalantly.
There's a silent beat, then all four mid-level players bust out laughing.
"Is that so?" the second knight jeers.
Xiuying makes her avatar nod and cross its arms. "Yup. I have some pent-up aggression to let out; a certain someone stood me up for dinner."
In real life, Eric flinches in his stupidly expensive gaming chair.
"Sorry, Xiu. But maybe go easy--" he tries to say, but the mid-level swordsman cuts him off.
"HA!" The swordsman laughs at Xiuying, with that obnoxious braying laugh of a man too dumb to know he's dumb. "You got stood up? Guess you ain't as hot as you pretending to be. You fat or just a butterface?"
The others do that disingenuous dick thing where they say, "Ohh, that's awful dude" aloud, but at the same time, they're cracking up. The assassin high fives him.
"Never mind," Eric says flatly."They apparently want to die today. Kill the bastards."
That shuts them up right quick.
"Huh?" the first knight says stupidly.
"I'm killing you, too, you know," Xiuying warns her brother, totally ignoring the others. "I forgot my purse at home, so I couldn't even eat while I was waiting for your no-show ass. I'm hangry af, bro."
Eric stretches out his fingers and leans forward in his chair, hyperfocused. "That's my bad. But you know I'm not gonna just let you kill me. You can try. But if I kill you first, you can't be mad."
Xiuying wiggles deeper into the beanbag and cracks her neck. "Obvs. But it doesn't matter. I'm going to kill everyone here, including you, then you're gonna log out and feed this female."
She does a few simple slashes and stabs, reacquainting herself with the controls. It's been a hot minute since she's played this particular title, but the controls are similar to plenty of other games.
It helps that when it's an option, Xiuying always plays magic swordsman.
It's magic and swords. Duh. Who doesn't want to blow shit up and stab some dudes?
It takes her three tries to remember the handheld combination for her fave fire-slash skill, but once she's found it, she's ready to take on these clowns and drag her brother to dinner.
The simplicity of her moves and her clear struggle to remember complex combos makes the other guys lower their guards.
"Shit, almost had me worried," the assassin mutters.
"You sure you know what you're doing with that?" The brash swordsman taunts her, then inputs a command that has his avatar make a lewd gesture with his own sword.
Xiuying rolls her eyes and has her avatar flourish her violet blade. "Girls can appreciate tasteful phallic imagery too, you know. Now shut up, I'ma impale you fuckers."
And then she does.
Impale's a move she invented herself, though her best friend affectionately calls it Vlad's Hello.
With a running start to gain momentum, she slides low, then stabs up with a vertical Lunge "right up the arsehole," as she bluntly explained when she first taught Eric the move.
The Lunge causes a knock-up effect that looks like the victim's raised and impaled upon her sword (and they kind of are), then she initiates SlantSlice, which smashes them to ground.
Sometimes, she'll cancel the SlantSlice skill partway, which throws the unlucky dude wherever she wants; usually to Eric or her bff to finish off the opponent.
After Xiuying Impales the assassin and swordsman, one of the knights rushes to Eric. "What the fuck kind of move is that?" he shrieks.
Eric chuckles, proud of his terrifying sibling, even as he tries to blow her up with a Holy Blast.
She flings the swordsman into the path of the blast instead, and the explosion knocks him into the other knight.
"Niiiice," Eric acknowledges under his breath. Then he turns to the knight next to him. "My sister said she got the idea from a yaoi manga. Guess all those flowers and sparkles are hiding some dark shit. The Japanese are terrifying, man."
No matter how hard Eric tries to get his temp team to keep it together and fight Xiuying with the strategies he'd been too busy teaching them to remember it was Sib Din (sibling dinner) Night, they simply can't counter the insanity that is his sister.
On top of Impale, she also has the impressive ability to stack skills in faux-combos using mid-strike skill canceling like a madwoman.
The skills don't inflict all the damage they're supposed to, but there's also no "end-of-skill" animation, so she's a fucking whirlwind. Plus, she uses her flashy magic initiation animation to trick opponents into guarding against one skill, then quickly cancels and actually strikes with another.
She calls the technique Cancel Camouflage.
Using it made Eric famous at his first World Championships, but he's nowhere near Xiuying's level.
There is exactly no skill she won't cancel if she sees a reason. She'll cancel an epic skill with an hour-long cooldown and strike with a simple Downward Slash if it means she'll end up one step closer to the big W.
In essence, this means there's no way to know what the hell is coming when a person's fighting Xiuying.
"Liú means slaughter, bro. Got to live up to the hype!" she exclaims, clearly having the time of her life surrounded by chaos.
He'd be lying if he said he didn't get it.
But currently, her chaos is his annoyance. Thanks to the confusion created by her madness, Eric ends up taking more damage from his own teammates than from his sister.
Against one of the knights, Xiuying cancels the same AoE skill three times in a row and each time, attacks with a close-combat strike hidden in the flashing animation of the cancelled skill. So then the fourth time she starts the AoE, the knight unconsciously backs away from the melee skill he assumes is coming.
Except this time, it's not. She doesn't cancel the AoE, so he's standing exactly in the epicenter of the explosion when it lands.
Womp womp dead knight.
She takes out Eric last, and she has to give him credit, he almost takes her down with him.
Considering how shitty his Paladin alt is, and the fact that he chooses not to Heal himself during their battle, honestly, she barely considers it a win.
But she does still record it as her win on their Sibling Rivalry Board, because obviously.
"Barely still counts, bitchez."
"FUCKIN' HELL, XIUYING! You've been here the whole time?!" Eric yells, spinning around in his chair, headphones down around his neck.
With a sigh, he powers down his monitors. "You couldn't just tap me on the damn shoulder like a normal person?"
"Where's the fun in that?" She grins and stretches. "Better to remind you that you DO still have some competition in this world, even if you won last year's Olympics."
"Yeah, yeah, you're the Best Ever Oh My God, may all mortals bow at your divine feet," Eric says drily.
She raises an eyebrow and puts a hand on her hip. "Is that any tone to be using with the woman you left hanging at Sib Din?"
Eric winces and puts his hands up in a placating gesture. "No, no, I meant it. For real. You're the bestest big sister in the whole wide world."
Her grin widens and her dark gray eyes sparkle. "You bet your skinny ass I am." She reaches into her jeans pocket...
(which is actually big enough to hold Items and Things because this is the Future and Arachne definitely designed women's pants to have actual, functional pockets in this beautiful sci-fi universe)
...and pulls out two glossy tickets.
"I was going to reveal these babies at dinner, but now's good, too, I suppose."
Eric's jaw drops and he rushes to grab one. "No. Fucking. Way."
"Yes fucking way. It's on, little bro."
Eric squeezes his sister and lifts her off the floor in a bear hug. Excited by their excitement, Alopix barks happily and jumps up to add his paws to the Family Hug.
"World Tech Expo, here we comeeeee!"