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Sitting at his desk, a college-age male furiously jabs at keys, alternating between clicking frantically and letting his fingers dance across the keyboard like a concert pianist’s. Taking in the situation displayed on screen, he lets out a frustrated growl, grinding his teeth and redoubling his efforts.

Really, that asshole is trying another canon rush? He managed to wipe half my base last time but now I have extra units and more resources, that’s not going to work again.

Realizing the inexperience of his opponent, our player is able to counterattack, and has his opponent’s base decimated within a few minutes.

silentecho: gg man
ichbinderjaeger: GG

Sitting back with a smile, the brown haired student closes out the window for Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm and cracks his knuckles, satisfied with his progress for the day. Papers strewn across the desk are headed with the name Eren Jaeger, everything from class notes to finished essays adding to the ridiculous amount of clutter.

Opening Skype, Eren clicks on a contact and types out a message.

ichbinderjaeger: armin you up for some minecraft or are you still studying?
armined-and-dangerous: I’m still studying, Eren. Finals aren’t that far off, you should be studying too.
ichbinderjaeger: fine fine whatever
ichbinderjaeger: ill just hit up the day-z server and see if I can get a car working then
armined-and-dangerous: When you’re begging me for notes later I’m going to send you those quotes.
ichbinderjaeger: youre a cruel and fickle creature armin I thought you were my friend
armined-and-dangerous: I am your friend, just not in favor of continuing your internet addiction. This is an intervention, Eren.
ichbinderjaeger: I hate you
armined-and-dangerous’s status is now Do Not Disturb

Grinning despite his friend’s unwillingness to play with him, Eren walked over to his dorm’s mini-fridge, grabbing a bottle of Mountain Dew and making a mental note to pick up more next time he made a food run. After deciding against microwaving some leftover pizza, Eren returned to his trusty desktop and booted up his current favourite game, Day-Z.

Day-Z is a zombie survival mod for Arma II, a military FPS, and it’s one of the greatest things that ever happened to survival games, as far as Eren is concerned. His character has managed to survive for about thirty full hours in this high-difficulty roguelike, and given the fact that players and zombies alike have been trying to kill him from the instant he spawned, that’s one hell of an achievement. As the world loads around him, he realizes two things.

One: Someone else is currently using the camp that he’d set up before logging off last night.

And two: They have a jeep parked next to the tent.

Cars and trucks are common enough on the streets of the abandoned towns scattered across the map, but working vehicles are nearly reduced to fantasy, given that by the time you get even most of the parts that the broken down transports need, you’re going to be killed by players or zombies or the environment. If this guy has a truck, well, he’s been alive quite some time.

Sliding his microphone into place, Eren holds the voice communication key.

“Friendly, friendly, don’t shoot!” He calls, almost frantically. Good thing, too, because the other player who’d decided that Eren’s camp was a wonderful place to call their new home had just returned, probably from the nearby well or a hunting trip.

“This shit yours, kid?” A smooth but somehow accusatory voice replied over the comm., surprising Eren. It was obviously a man’s voice, probably someone in their late twenties. It was almost two in the morning, what was an adult doing playing online games at this hour?

“Yeah, why?” He was starting to get annoyed. Though confronting the well-armed other player was probably a poor choice, if he tried to claim Eren’s campsite as his own, he was going to end up with a grenade in his face.

“Don’t get snippy with me, brat, I was almost going to say it was impressive. How long’ve you been alive?”

The simmering annoyance slowly edged closer to a boil. Why’s this dickhead calling me a brat? Who does he think he is?

“Just about thirty hours at this point. What about you?” It was spat as an accusation, wanting desperately to just shoot the other player, mouse finger twitching towards doing just that. Eren never did have the best control over his temper, and while usually he kept it in check playing the games where rude behavior could get you banned, he had problems with brawling in real life and starting fights in more lenient games.

“Oi, I said calm down. I’ve been alive for a little more than nine days, hell if I’m going to let you kill me. I’m pretty well set up here, so either you can deal with me or get going.” The man replied, tone level but somehow managing to sound smug and commanding at the same time.

Eren was very nearly shocked out of his anger at the announcement. Nine days was 216 hours. Considering that it could have been in intervals as small as an hour a day, that’s more than half a year worth of effort, into a character that’ll be permanently gone when it dies.

“I… yeah, alright. Any chance I can get your Steam ID? That’s impressive, to say the least.” If this guy is as good at other games as he is at Day-Z, he might’ve ended up on some high-score leaderboard somewhere.

The man on the comm. scoffed. “Humanity’s strongest, if you really have to know. What, you heard of me?” The cold superiority never left his tone, but there was a hint of amusement now, as if he knew that giving his ID would have some effect, and that he was just waiting for the reaction.

Eren, on the other hand, was stunned into silence. Humanitys_Strongest is the username of an unbelievably famous gamer. Surely this isn’t the same person who won Starcraft II competitions across the world? It was impossible that Eren was gaming with the person who set speedrun records across the gaming spectrum, and found a place on high-score tables and PVP ladders alike, wasn’t it?

“Did you leave to take a dump or something?” The man in question commented after a few moments of prolonged quiet.

“No, uh, sir.” Shit, that was lame. Eren nearly blushed at how awkward his response was. But really, how do you talk to the person who you consider a hero? The person who got you into gaming, to begin with, winning impossible victories on livestreams across the internet?

There was a sound that vaguely resembled a very quiet amused snort. “'Sir', that’s cute. If we’re going to be sharing this camp, though, names would be easier. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours first.”

“I’m Eren. My ID’s ichbinderjaeger, by the way.”

“Yeah, no, I didn’t ask for that. I’m Levi.” The man, now Levi, said. There was a quiet hum of consideration before he continued, “Eh, I guess I could add you anyway.”

Tilting the mic away from his mouth so he could quietly hyperventilate in private, Eren began grinning like a maniac. He never imagined that he’d meet one of the greatest gamers in recent times, and even giving his ID he never would’ve guessed that this man, Levi, would add him. It was put forward as more of a courtesy, being as that he knew Levi’s ID, but this…

“You keep going quiet, is your ping high or some shit? Because I was going to run into town to see if there were any blood packs, and I don’t really care if you tag along, but if you’re going to lag us both to death that’s out.”

“No-“ Eren started before realizing that the mic was still away from his mouth, “No, I’m just multitasking a little.” Freaking out and playing a game at the same time is multitasking, right?

The eyeroll could be heard in Levi’s voice. “Put your dick back in your pants and get in the damn car, brat.”

Eren maneuvered into the passenger side of the jeep, somewhere between offended and embarrassed at Levi’s accusation. If that was what it was, anyway, the man seemed to have a rather crude way of speaking.

Driving into town, the clock quickly approaching three in the morning, Eren’s only thought was that he was glad Armin was studying, otherwise he would’ve missed this opportunity.