Actions

Work Header

Defying the Gods

Chapter Text

Prologue and Match 1: Nick

“Just hold on a second!” I yelled at my laptop.

“All of us are already on, waiting for you,” a male voice urged through the computer’s speakers.

“Just gotta get my headset on.” I picked it up off the desk. It was a white band that would cover my eyes and wrap around my head. Once it was on, it would close on my face to make my vision perfect. “I’m getting in now, just meet me at the lobby screen.” I climbed up onto my bed and laid down. Carefully, I plugged the headset into the outlet behind me and placed it over my eyes.

“I’m gonna kick your ass when you get in here,” the voice went on.

To quiet the voice, I yelled again. “Link start!”

The darkness in front of my eyes turned white in a flash of light. Colored orbs seemed to rush at me with words like “Vision” and “Smell” on them, turning green as they checked out. A loud ringing of music, signaling that the game was fully function danced in my ears. Finally, I saw darkness.

“Blink hard, now.” The tutorial’s female voice instructed. I blinked.

I was standing on a small, black platform with a nighttime sky all around me. The constellations were clearly identifiable, and moved slowly with the rest of the stars. Surrounding me were pictures of the gods making a circle around the platform.

I looked down at what I was standing on and it reflected my image in the darkness. I looked exactly as I did in the real world. Light complexion, dark, honey-colored hair that almost reached my waist, and blue eyes. Yup, that was me.

“Welcome to Smite,” she said. “To access the menu, swipe to your right. To access your Friend List and Notifications, swipe left.”

Interrupting her as she said “left”, I heard the loud, familiar clanging of a party invite. I swiped left with my forefinger and the Friend List appeared to my right and Notifications to my left. It felt like I was swiping on a touch screen in the air.

“Cool.” I tapped the Accept button.

Now, I felt myself lifted up slowly, and then suddenly launched straight into the sky. I yelled out of surprise but then I started laughing. It was truly amazing.

I landed hard and fast on the ground. The impact was absorbed entirely by the floor, no pain felt at all.

I opened my eyes to see I was standing in the Jungle Practice Base.

“It’s about time….” said a little girl’s voice. I turned to my right to see Scylla, a tiny little girl glide toward the base from the Ra camp. She was dressed in the fashion of something out of a Tim Burton movie. When her dress reached the base, she burst into particles the color of her dress – a deep evergreen – and transformed.

She reappeared as my boyfriend, Ross. He jogged over to me and my jaw dropped. “That was awesome! Oh my gods!”

He laughed at me. His chocolate brown eyes were sparkling. “Come on, everybody’s practicing for the first match!” He took my hand in his and went to start walking but then stopped. “Oh, first swipe right on your menu.”

I let go of his hand and swiped right.

“Now you have to pick…” he leaned over my menu, his wavy brown hair flopping in his eyes. “That one.” He pointed to a little blue button.

The menu was a horizontal line, reading “Profile, Gods, Store, Social, League, Wisdom”. The blue button was where the “Smite” logo usually appeared between Store and Social. I pressed it with my index finger.

The normal Gods menu appeared in front of me with all of the character icons. Ross nodded to me to pick a God. I picked my main, Neith. Once I tapped her, I was able to select from her skin icons, and – as always – I selected Buccaneith. The menu burst into white particles and a message appeared in front of me: God Locked.

“So you just picked the God you want to play when you leave the base. You can come back and try another one at any point.” he explained. He scratched his stubbly chin as I looked around a bit. “This is basically our party’s home base. We can come back here between every match.” When I looked back to him, he was smirking.

“What?” I said, my voice rising.

“You’re cute when you’re excited.” I smiled at him.

He took my hand again and led me toward the Ra camp. My pace slowed as we approached the edge of the base. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t feel like anything.” he said. Still holding my hand, he passed over the edge of the base, and I gasped. He started to transform with the green of Scylla’s Daisy Despair dress engulfing him. Other than the change in size, he kept holding my hand and it had felt like nothing had changed… except that I was now looking down at and holding the hand of a little girl.

I took a deep breath and stepped forward.

I felt a tingling sensation around my entire body. Brown sparkles – the color of her outfit – collapsed on me all at once and in a burst of bright white light. When the sparkles settled, I grew a little taller and wore boots, a skirt, and a bandana on my head. I felt a weight on my right shoulder and looked up to see a little monkey with a matching bandana smiling at me. I let go of Ross’ hand and pat his head with my free right hand, holding my blunderbuss in my right.

I beamed at Ross and squealed. “This is amazing!”

He chuckled and shook his head at me, playful but it felt condescending coming from a little girl.

“I have a monkey!” I scratched under his chin. “That was the whole reason I got this skin!”

“I know,” he said, smiling at me still.

“I want to name him….” I thought for a minute. “Can I name him Sun?” I knew Ross occasionally played Sun WuKong.

“Go ahead,” he said, shrugging.  “It’s not like it’s my name.”

“Then I’m calling you Sun,” I told the little monkey. He made a little chirping sound and climbed up onto my head. Ross motioned for me to follow him and I jogged along. At the Ra camp, I saw Prizefighter Mercury spinning Ra around in circles.

“Hey Nick!” he called to me. He punched Ra in the face, and the god erupted into a burst of light, screaming as he died. He dashed over in a whirlwind and stroked his mustache. “How you liking the new Smite?”

“It’s amazing,” I said to my friend Morgan. He hadn’t even broken a sweat fighting Ra… as usual.

“It’s pretty fuckin’ awesome.” Ra appeared again behind him and he held up a finger. “One sec.” He dashed over to Ra, spun him around and dashed through him as the god screamed again. Two seconds later, he ran back over to me smirking.

“Is Chase here, too?” I asked.

Mercury and Scylla nodded. “He’s over by the Fire Giant,” Mercury explained. “He’s determined to learn how to beat it as Sylvannus.”

“Isn’t he the one that said Sylvannus has no attack power?”

“He did,” Scylla agreed. “But he wants to make one of his stupid builds for when we play smurf games later.”

“Alright, you guys do your thing,” I said. “I know Ross wants to get back to practicing.” I leaned down and kissed him – as Scylla – on the cheek. He blushed a little through the green skin.

“Okay, that’s weird,” Morgan said, laughing. “Nick, you’re dating a little girl.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’ll be around,” I said. I held my breath and jumped. Just as I always have, I used Neith’s ability to leap backwards into the air. Only this time, I was the one flipping. I let out a “woohoo” as Sun gripped me a little tighter on the head. I landed perfectly on my feet and created a weave where the guys were standing. “I love this game!” I yelled back to them.

I started jogging toward the base again where I swiped right on my menu. In a burst of light, I transformed back into myself. I hit the little blue button again and thought of how I might be able to make my build. But when I did, my build was already listed under Neith. Apparently it now defaulted to your custom build, and I was level 20. “Perfect.”

I jogged – that was all my movement speed basically allowed – toward the Fire Giant. Leaving the base, I transformed again. That was going to take some getting used-to. When I got there, Chase was getting tossed into the air. “Hey Chase!” I called to him.

“Hey there,” he said, dully. The voice came from Sylvannus, not Grover. It was pretty weird to see him as a decrepit old man riding a tree. He stopped fighting and steered Grover toward me. “Like your new pet, too?” he gestured to the monkey on my shoulder.

“I love it.” I said, petting under Sun’s chin again. He closed his eyes, seeming to enjoy it. “How you liking yours?”

“Are you kidding? I ride a tree.” he said, patting Grover. “I’m gonna build movement speed in a bit and race Morgan.”

“You’re gonna lose,” I said.

He laughed a little maniacally. “We’ll see about that. Oh, Melody is over by the minions, I believe. She’s excited to see you.”

“I figured. Alright, go back to your movement speed tree.” I said, rolling my eyes. He cackled again.

“See ya.”

I jogged back to the base, transforming back to myself, and leaving the base I transformed back. I shook my head when I left feeling a little disoriented. “I think I need to do that a little slower,” I said mostly to myself. Sun seemed to nod to me. “You can understand me?” He chirped. “Well, alright! I’ve got a little friend.” He jumped up and down on my shoulder, excitedly.

“Nick!” Melody called to me. She was swinging her shovel – as Beach Babe Aphrodite – at the minions. When she cleared the wave, she glided over to me and hugged me.

“Hey girl,” I said, hugging her back.

“How’s school been?” she asked. “I haven’t seen you since you left!”

“I know,” I said. “It’s been okay, I guess.”

“Hey, don’t do that,” she said, lightly touching my arm. Then she noticed Sun. “You have the monkey too! Can I pet him?”

“Sure. He likes chin scratches.”

She leaned over and pet him under the chin.

“What’s his name?”

I smirked. “Sun.”

“Niiiiiick….” she said scolding me for the joke. “He’s so cute though.”

“I know. I still can’t get over the powers though!”

“Have you tried them all out yet?”

“Just the backflip.”

She took my hand. “Well what are you waiting for?! Let’s go get Ra.”

“Ross and Morgan are already there, though.”

“Then we harass them until they pick something else to fight.”

I rolled my eyes as she dragged me back to the base. As she glided in, her body burst into pink sparkles and she transformed back to her usual self. As she spun around to watch me transform, her long, brown wavy hair swung in her face. “Isn’t that so cool?” Her freckled cheeks met her brown eyes as she beamed at me.

“It could take some getting used to,” I said, holding my head.

“Yeah, well you’ve probably been bouncing between camps too much. We did that at first too and quickly found out that you can make yourself sick that way.”

“Thanks for the heads up. A little late for that.”

She waved the comment away. “You’re fine. If I can handle it, so can you.”

We went over the edge of the Ra camp, bursting back into our gods once again and catching up to Ross and Morgan.

“Alright, it’s our turn to mess with Ra,” I said to them. Ross had just I’m-a-Monstered Ra, probably for the umpteenth time in a row. He sat there – still in monster form – getting ready for Ra to spawn again.

“Come on, Nick. That’s the twentieth time in row he’s looped it. We wanna see how many times we can do it before the first match.”

“When is the first match anyway?” I asked him.

“The way this game works is that since so many people are online at once, they schedule the matches for certain times of day to ease the strain on the servers and give them a break. Our first one of the day starts soon.”

“Well then let her get some practice!” Melody said, lightly shoving Morgan’s arm. “She hasn’t gotten to practice any of her abilities yet.”

“Oh, well in that case…. Ross!” he called over to him.

Ross struck Ra again. “What?”

“Nick hasn’t gotten to try her abilities yet. The first match starts soon and she needs some practice with the controls.”

“Oh yeah….” Ross finally released the monster form and glided over to us. “You should probably practice.” He gave me a big grin.

I flicked him on the forehead. “Yeah, no kidding.” Finally, I jogged closer to Ra and took aim.

Playing like this was strange. I was actually holding the gun in my left hand; in the real world, I was right-handed. But it felt natural, and it was light enough that it was comfortable to hold exactly the way Neith did in the original version of the game. I pulled the trigger.

One shot, and half of Ra’s health was gone. I looked back at the three of them and they smiled as they watched me. I turned around and Ra was about the flash light to blind me, but I leaped backward out of the way and landed on my feet. I took aim again, only this time, I used the larger trigger just in front of the smaller one on the gun and fired the Spirit Arrow. It flew straight through him, sending him screaming into oblivion.

A few seconds later, he respawned. I crouched on the ground now, taking a deep breath. I looked down the barrel and my vision became narrowed, and I only had eyes on Ra. I fired.

He exploded again into oblivion.

I stood and looked back to my friends. “I could get used to this.” They clapped, jokingly.

Chase came up behind them, towering over them. “Guys, the match starts in ten minutes.” I swiped right on my menu. I hadn’t been keeping track of time.

“Alright, well we should all get a chance at Ra. Who hasn’t gotten to play him offensively?” I asked.

“You know I don’t play anything but support,” Melody said.

“Well, actually I haven’t,” Chase said. Ross and Morgan held out their hands, offering up Ra like a sacrifice.

“All yours, my friend,” I said, back-flipping out of his way. I landed next to Melody. “Gods, I love doing that.” She laughed and Ross groaned at the pun. Chase swiped at his menu and transformed into Mariachi Loki. A few jabs later and Ra was gone.

“So let’s talk strategy,” Ross said, his tone changing. “I think we should all play as our mains for the first match.”

I groaned. “I wanted to try Sol like this. She has my favorite powers!”

“Listen, hear me out. We don’t know how to play other gods like this yet, so I think our best bet is who we just practiced with: our mains.”

“I’m fine with that,” Melody said.

“You only play Aphro,” Morgan said. She shrugged.

“So that means I’m Neith as A.D.C;” I said, “Ross is Scylla in mid, Melody is Aphro as support, Morgan is Mercury as the jungler, and Chase is solo Loki… or Chaac…. He can never pick a damn god.”

“Probably Chaac would be best for solo right now,” Morgan said. “He practiced with him earlier and really enjoyed looking like a mass murderer.” The only skin he ever played with was the Slaughterhouse skin.

“I would imagine….” I said, rolling my eyes.

“It would be good to have at least one person be kinda tanky for team fights later anyway.” Ross added.

“Five minutes remaining….” echoed the tutorial voice.

“Chase!” Ross called. Chase looked over with his knife jabbed into Ra’s stomach as he burst into light. Chase turned invisible before appearing between Melody and I, making her jump and I squeaked. He laughed at us. “Okay, so here’s the plan. You’re doing Chaac solo.” Chase smirked. “Yes, I know you love dripping with blood. Nick and Melody are in duo, Morgan is jungling and I’m in mid.”

“Are the rest of you using your mains?” he asked. Ross nodded. “Alright, hopefully we won’t get slaughtered.” I snorted at his pun.

“We’re not ready for this,” Morgan said, shaking his head. “We’re gonna get fucked.”

“Probably!” Ross replied, “But hopefully, we’ll have fun doing it!”

“Yeah!” I said, laughing.

Melody laughed, saying “Oh no….”

“The match will begin shortly.” the voice said overhead.

We all went back to the base, transforming back to ourselves. Morgan stroked his clean-shaven upper lip. “Aww…. My mustache is gone….” He pulled his glasses out his pocked and put them back on. He ran a hand through his hair, checking that it was still swept up in the front.

At some point while running, Chase has transformed into Slaughterhouse Chaac and came into the base running and screaming. My eyes widened at the sight. But as he stepped into the base, he transformed in a burst of blood red sparkles and became his still-tall but lanky self. He smoothed out his light brown hair as a bowl cut and strode over to us in the center.

“Chase, you’re fucking terrifying,” Morgan said to him. Chase just laughed.

I sighed, shaking my head.

“Prepare for battle!” the voice called out.

We all looked to each other as we all launched into the air. Screaming, we all flew up, soaring through the night sky. In seconds, we were landing hard in the Order Base of a Conquest map.  All of us transformed into our respective gods as we landed.

We looked up and saw the roster over our heads. Underneath was a note that said if we wanted to see the scores, we blink hard to signal for it. It looked like Nu Wa solo, Janus mid, Rama and Athena in duo, and Thor jungle. Their mastery ranks were no higher than four.

“Ugh! I put a point in the wrong skill!” Ross complained. “How did I even do that?”

“How did you do that?” I asked. “I don’t know how to raise my skills here. I started at level 20 in the base.”

“You just have to think about it,” Morgan said. “What I’m going to do is call out the skill.” From where I was standing, I couldn’t tell anything had changed. But Morgan called out an ability nodded as though it had worked.

“So if we call out the moves, it makes it easier to level them?” Melody said.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Morgan said. “I did the tutorial with Chase before you guys came on.”

Ross groaned. “I’ll remember that for next time.”

“I mean,” Chase said, “I guess that explains why when we played before, the gods would call out something along those lines.”

I nodded. “It does make sense. I guess they still wanna make it feel like the old game.”

“Let’s just go,” Ross said, rolling his eyes. We all ran – jogged, glided or whatever – to our respective camps. Ross, Melody and I jumped around the camp in anticipation.

“Minions have spawned….” the announcer declared. A few seconds later, the camp minions appeared and Ross and I kited the minions around the camp with Melody taking the aggro. Ross took his buff and headed to mid lane.

“This isn’t so bad,” I said jogging up next to Melody. I fired at the minions at the Attack Speed camp.

“It’s great,” said, beaming. “I’ve gotta play Smite more often now.” She placed a ward as we headed into the lane on the left.

I hit the line of minions in front of us with Spirit Arrow and I suddenly glowed blue. “I guess I leveled up.” I remembered what Morgan had told me before about calling out the abilities. “Back Flip!”

“It’s not too hard to control,” Melody mused, swinging her staff. “Here come the other duo laners.”

I looked down the lane and saw Rama and Athena. “The Athena might be a problem but Rama is pretty easy to deal with.”

“Mhmm.”

We continued firing basic attacks at the minions until the line was clear. Our minion wave approached the tower and Rama came out, firing at them. I realized their first mistake pretty quickly: they didn’t have a buff on Rama.

Athena lunged forward through the minion wave but not killing them. She ended up right in my line of fire. I shot a Spirit Arrow at her and followed it up with some basic attacks. She turned to run away, but then I used Back Flip and gold shot at me as she rode into the air. “FIRST BLOOD!”

“Woohoo!” I called out.

“Guess the Athena won’t be a problem then.”

“Guys,” I heard Ross’ voice in my ear, “what the hell was that Athena thinking?”

“No idea,” I said. “But Rama is wide open now.” He was standing under tower, firing at the minions he could reach. Athena would spawn again in a few seconds. “Spirit Arrow!” I called out, leveling up again. Melody had leveled too. We ran closer to the tower, and Melody kissed Rama when he was in front of the tower. I shot him with a few basic attacks and the Spirit Arrow again, Melody following it up with Love Birds. With his back turned, I got the last shot off of him, and he was dead. Gold shot at us again as I used Unravel to regain some health.

“Girl! Look at you!” Melody said, laughing. “I’m gonna go back a grab some stuff.”

“Alrighty, I’ll do what I can with this tower.”

A few seconds later, “AN ENEMY HAS BEEN SLAIN” rang out around us. Overhead, we could see the username of the Janus player crossed out in red and Scylla circled in blue.

“What the hell was he doing?” I heard Ross laughing. “He just ran into the wave of my minions, used his portal, and I Crushed him as I landed!”

“I dunno,” Morgan said now. “Like what the fuck is with this Nu Wa in solo? I mean like….”

“AN ENEMY HAS BEEN SLAIN!”

“She’s just dumb….” he finished after the kill. We all burst out laughing.

“I mean, really though. How did she expect to get a kill off of you?” A few seconds later and the announcer rang out again with the death of Thor. Chase had killed him this time.

“Oh look, we’re playing a bot match,” Morgan said, jokingly. “They must’ve thought we could get some more practice before the real matches start up.”

“No, they’re actually people,” Ross explained. “They’re just really bad!”

I laughed. “We know. He’s just being an asshole.” Chase laughed at him.

We know….” Ross mimicked me.

“Not nice!” I called to him. I Back Flipped as Athena came back into lane with a quarter of the tower down. She taunted me toward her but had underestimated my strength, yet again. I was level five by the time she grabbed me, so I shot her a few times, used Spirit Arrow, and her health was down to a quarter. I out-leveled her by two now. “Fire away!” I called out. I released the World Weaver at full charge, killing her yet again. Now I was 3 to 0.

“Nick!” Melody called out from behind me. She used her Kiss and latched on again.

“Thanks girl,” I said back. We followed the minions into the tower again, taking it down.

“AN ENEMY HAS BEEN SLAIN!” Morgan’s name appeared above us.

“That was mine!” Ross yelled at him.

“No, no…. You can have this one,” and two seconds later, another death became visible overhead.

“Alright….” Ross said.

“How much time is on the clock?” Chase asked.

“We’re about eight and a half minutes in,” Melody said. I blinked hard and saw the timer above the scoreboard.

“Think they’ll surrender their first match at ten?” Ross asked.

The first enemy tower went down. “YOUR TEAM HAS DETROYED A MIDDLE ENEMY TOWER!”

I continued looking at the scoreboard when I noticed something. “Guys, they’re not in a clan… any of them.”

“They’re probably new then,” Chase suggested.

“Aww man, they’re never gonna want to play again after this stomping,” Morgan said.

“There’s probably a lot of new players without clans since the virtual reality release,” I said.

“You’re probably right.” Ross added.

“I’m gonna fall back,” I told Melody. I backed up and thought about going back. The timer appeared at my ankles and the yellow circle at my feet. In a few seconds, I was dropped back at the base.

“YOUR TEAM HAS DESTROYED A RIGHT ENEMY TOWER!” I swiped at my menu and picked up the items I was looking for. I brought up a few wards before checking the scoreboard again. There weren’t even twenty seconds left.

I crouched down and looked around the map through the World Weaver. I locked onto a target and fired.

“AN ENEMY HAS BEEN SLAIN!”

“A warning would have been nice,” Morgan said.

“Sorry, I’m getting a little too excited for my own good.”

“We know,” Ross said, sighing.

I laughed. Oh relax, you’ll get your chance to maul people next match.

Then, a translucent screen appeared in front of me, showing me their Titan falling with the victory music ringing out.

“Not surprised,” Ross said.

A few seconds later, we were transported back the lobby where we all stood on a black platform as our gods with the other team.

“Well this is awkward,” Morgan said. Chase laughed.

“Whelp, I guess we need some practice, huh?” said the Athena.

“Yeah….” Chase said.

“You’ll get better,” Ross said. “It just takes time. We’ve been playing for a long time.”

“Oh, okay!” the Rama said. “This is our first day. How’s the switch from the original version to the virtual one?”

“It hasn’t been bad at all,” I said. “There’s some quirky things to get used to, but it’s pretty awesome.”

Nu Wa nodded. “Thanks for not going easy on us though. Now we know how hard it can be.”

“We’re just scrubs,” Morgan said. “We’re not even in the league.”

“That just makes us want to do better.” said the Janus. “Thanks for a good match.” He smiled at us.

“No problem,” I said, smiling.

They all started swiping at their menus and clicking to go back to the main login screen.

At first, nothing happened.

Then Rama spoke up. “Guys, I can’t get back to the main screen.”

“Neither can I.” said the Athena. “I was the first one to hit the button I think.”

“That’s weird….” Morgan said.

“Let me try,” Melody said. She swiped at the menu and disappeared into the sky after she pressed the button.

“Our team can, apparently,” I said. I swiped at my menu and was about to click the button.

“Wha- what’s happening?!” the Athena shouted. I looked up from my menu and my eyes widened. Starting from her feet, Athena slowly was bursting into particles. She wasn’t being thrown into the sky like Melody had. The particles were different from the god transformation; these ones were bright greens and blues, swirling around her, picking up pace and traveling up her body.

“Carter!” the Rama yelled. He started to run over to her but then stopped. He froze, no longer able to move his feet. He was turning to particles too.

I threw Ross a panicked look. All he could do was scare in horror.

Within a few seconds, the rest of the team was burning up in particles. Finally, the Athena disappeared followed by Rama and then the others. There was silence for a few seconds.

“What the fuck was that?!” Chase was the first to react.

Morgan blinked and rubbed his eyes. “Did they just explode? Is that what happens when you lose?”

“That was brutal….” Ross said trailing off.

“Guys….” I said slowly. “Why would they have a death animation… after the match?” Everyone just looked at each other and shrugged. “And another thing…. How do we play other types of matches if they’re all preset?” More shrugging from everyone.

“We better go,” Morgan said. “Melody’s waiting for us at the main screen.” He swiped on his menu and took off. The rest of us did the same.

When we landed on the platform, we realized we weren’t at the main screen. We were back in the jungle practice in human form again.

“Finally you guys are here.” Melody ran up to us. “It won’t let me go to the main screen. And I checked the logout menu… there is no button to return to lobby… or even exit the game.”

“That can’t be right.” Ross pulled up his menu and – to his bewilderment – there was no exit game button.

“That’s not the weirdest part, though.” Chase added. “The people we just fought just disappeared. Like, there was a kind of death animation for them.”

Melody furrowed her eyebrows. “Why would they do that after the match?”

My breath caught. I sank to my knees.

“Nick?” Ross turned to me and walked over. “What’s wrong?”

“I…. Before…. Before they were gone…. I friended the Athena. She was really nice…. I thought we could teach them some stuff….”

“Okay….” Ross said slowly.

“She’s offline.”

“Well then she must have found the logout button and we’re just scrubs,” Morgan said, laughing with Chase.

“I…. I don’t know….” I said, trailing off. I looked up at Ross.

“I know what you’re thinking. That’s impossible.”

“What’s impossible?” Chase asked.

Then Melody clasped her hands over her mouth, finally realizing what I was saying.

Morgan put a hand on her shoulder. “Guys, what’s going on?” He finally held a serious tone.

“They haven’t seen the anime.” Melody said, shaking her head. “The only time we’ve ever seen anything like this….”

“Just tell us,” Morgan said.

“Welcome to Smite!” said the British woman’s voice once again. It was the tutorial voice, and the Smite theme music played.

“Why is it playing this again?” said Chase.

“Congratulations to the winners of your first match! You will all be moving on to round two!”

Ross and I looked at each other.

The voice continued. “Those that have failed have been permanently logged out. They will no longer be a problem.” She voice paused for a few seconds. No one said anything. “They have proven they are not fit for this world: the world of the gods! Each of you have been selected by purchasing the new virtual headset designed for Smite. You have survived and proven your dedication.”

“The fuck does that mean?!” Morgan yelled.

“Yeah, seriously,” Chase added.

The voice continued again. “The rules are simple. If your team loses, the party is defeated and leaves this world and the real world alike. If you team manages to defeat the other, your team moves on. You are free to live out your lives in your team’s base, the Jungle Practice. You will fight again tomorrow, but you have off on the weekends! Practice hard and you may prove to be gods yourselves! Good luck!” The music stopped.

“We’re… stuck here?” Chase asked slowly.

“That isn’t the worst part.” I said, standing up now. I looked around to everyone. “We just killed people. We killed five people. And we’re going to have to kill five people a day to survive.”

“We’re gonna fucking die.” Morgan said. “We’re not good! We’re not even near pros!”

“It’s either staying alive by killing or quitting now and surrendering the next match,” Ross said. “We can’t just give up.”

“But do you really want to play this game knowing you’re killing people?” Melody said.

Silence.

I sighed. I put my hands together in a small prayer. “I just hope they’re alright.” We weren’t a religious group in the slightest, but everyone either nodded, bowed their heads or put their hands together.

Finally, we all looked up at each, not knowing what to do.

“I can’t do this,” Melody said.

“I don’t want to kill people either,” Ross said, shaking his head.

I shut my eyes tight to not let the tears fall. I sucked in a breath. “We don’t have a choice.”