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Shannen Crane Camp


  By Shannen Crane Camp

  Copyright © 2013 Shannen Crane Camp

  All rights reserved.

  Published by Sugar Coated Press

  ISBN: 1482570793

  ISBN-13: 9781482570793

  Cover design by Jackie Hicken

  Cover photo by Sara Vaz

  Cover model Megan Van Oostendorp

  Edited and typeset by Jackie Hicken

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author.

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and is not intended by the author.

  This one is for my brother and my dad, who both insisted on giving me a video game controller the second I was born. Thanks for turning me into a nerd, guys!


  Jared Crane, my epic brother. Thank you so much for the years of gaming we’ve shared (even when you built your own level with secret hiding places to kill me from . . . not cool) and for answering my endless questions about raiding, since I’m pretty much terrible at it. Thank you for always supporting my work and getting me excited about the possibilities of what we can do.

  Dad, thanks for the hours we’ve spent bonding over video games. Thanks for “getting me,” discovering all sorts of puzzle games for me to obsess over, and ensuring that I’m adequately nerdy. I love you!

  Danni, you are so sweet, and even if you don’t game as much as we try to force you to, you’re still an epic sister-in-law. Thanks for dancing and making the other avatars question our sanity.

  Husband, even though you aren’t a gamer, (which I’ll forgive you for one day), thank you for loving that I am. Thanks for thinking it’s awesome and not annoying that your wife asks you to watch sporting events so that I can play games.

  Mom, I know you aren’t a gamer, but you’re a loving, supportive, good influence on me . . . and I guess that’s pretty important too.

  Husband’s family/my new family, you guys embrace my weird obsessions and make me want to be just as odd as I possibly can be. And it’s epic.

  Jackie, I’ll never write a book where I don’t thank you, because every little thing about this book (right down to the little megaphone on the cover) came about because of the endless work you put into it, the support you give me, and the awkward video chats we endure to ensure that every little detail works out. Thank you for not giving up on me and for putting up with my 3 a.m. Facebook messages about indents and book blurbs.

  Cindy Bennett, thank you for constantly helping me with marketing, networking, formatting, and every other business-end detail I have no idea how to finagle. And thanks for being a Geek Girl.

  Felicia Day, Lights, and every other girl who made it cool and okay to be a nerd—thanks! We are en elite group.

  Readers, you guys are awesome. I read every review, tweet, Facebook post, and love it! You have no idea how much a nice word about a story means to an author, so thank you for taking the time to spread the word.

  And lastly, all my fellow geeks, nerds, and gamers, the best prank we ever pulled was making the cool kids want to be like us. Long live the age of the geek!

  Table of Contents

  The Last Hunter in a Raid Full of Healers

  More Intricate Than A Steampunk Dream

  The Raid Boss Versus Spiderman

  Target Acquired

  Initiating Stealth Mode

  Epic Fail

  Like Casting a Stunning Spell

  More Backstabbing Than a Guild Full of Rogues

  Dungeons and Drama

  Intentional Fizzle

  Flying Solo and Leveling Up

  Meeting the L33t

  A Leaf Out of Captain Hammer’s Book


  Sibling Aggro



  Quest Accepted

  A Heart Frozen in Carbonite


  A Night Full of Win

  /G Quit

  1. The Last Hunter in a Raid Full of Healers

  Hairspray permeated the air and pom-pom strings littered the girls’ locker room like the aftermath of a particularly bad hurricane —if that hurricane happened to hit the Miss USA pageant, that is. The mood was dismal, considering that it was halftime of our school’s homecoming game. Normally at this time, Tawny and I would be pumping up the rest of The Squad and prepping them to run back onto the field.

  But not today.

  Today, our team was epically failing and needed more than just a few screaming girls in short skirts. They needed a miracle. A full-blown $40.00-expansion-pack-where-they-introduce-flying-mounts type of miracle.

  “Well, I’m not going to lie to you and say we’ll win for sure, but I will tell you that if we do all we can, we might actually stand a chance,” I said to the group of sullen cheerleaders lining the benches. The sea of drooping blonde heads showed a less than an enthusiastic reaction to my rallying attempt. They had even stopped applying their lip gloss.

  Things were serious.

  “Reagan, our yelling some bogus cheer isn’t going to make our team suck any less. It’s just going to make us look like idiots for cheering for a sinking ship,” Ashleigh whined from the back of the group. She wasn't helping my little pep talk at all.

  “Shut it Ashleigh. You’re just mad because you gained too much weight to be a flyer this year, fatty” Tawny threw back at her icily.

  I was definitely losing them. The chilly November air wasn’t brightening our spirits in a big way, but I was co-captain and I needed to fix this, since Tawny was obviously not taking her responsibility seriously.

  I was like the last DPS Ranger in a raid full of Healers. They were cute, but they were also squishy, and right now they needed someone to bring the power back to the guild. Or squad. Whatever you wanted to call it.

  Right, I needed to focus.

  I could be a butt-kicking level 85 Hunter on my own time, when I was in the privacy of my own room. There was absolutely no way I wanted to let that little secret slip out accidentally while I was trying to rally the troops. Friends or not, The Squad would eat me alive if they knew I played nerdy online games, and that would be the end of me. I would have committed social suicide.

  Luckily, I was kind of a pro at hiding my nerdy little secret.

  You see, there was the normal, pretty, popular cheerleader “me,” who got manicures and spent two hours doing her hair in the morning, and then there was the other “me,” who could kick your sorry noob butt in two seconds flat using only a keyboard and mouse.

  At times, I wished I wasn’t so obsessed with something as completely dorky as a video game. I mean, what self-respecting member of The Squad could call herself a true Pirate when she spent her weekends farming for gold and raiding with people she had never met?

  But in all fairness, it wasn’t my fault. The game—Voyager’s Quest—was so incredibly addicting, and it was slightly possible that I was a nerd at heart. I had just been fortunate enough (unlike most nerds) to learn at an early age that life isn’t like a movie. When you embrace what you love, you end up getting stuffed into a locker; you don’t suddenly become popular because your peers realize that they’ve been wrong about nerds all along.

  This wasn’t some after school special.

  I had an excellent sense of self-preservation and that meant being a mean girl by association. I was what I liked to call a “passive plastic.” I wasn’t a mean person myself, but because I stood by and let Tawny get away with whatever she wanted, I was just as guilty as she was.

  It was kind of a cop-out on
my part, and it did suck a little, but you know what sucked more? Being shoved in a locker with gum in your hair.

  It could be pretty difficult balancing two lives, but I actually managed fine unless I was under a lot of stress—like being the co-captain of a cheerleading squad rooting for a losing team.

  I shook my head until my tight blonde ponytail swung back and forth, trying to clear my thoughts.

  “All right, we need to focus, not sit here and insult each other or our team. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to cheer like we mean it, because even if we lose, we’re going to a party at Tawny’s house after the game, so stop being a bunch of whining babies and cheer!” I yelled at them.

  The mention of an unsupervised party seemed to get them pumped, or at least made the situation seem less dire. With that, they all grabbed their pom-poms and ran out the double doors onto the field, screaming like they thought we’d win.


  We didn’t, of course.

  We got completely murdered.

  The final score of our oh-so-memorable homecoming game was 45-10, and from what I saw, the quarterback got sacked at least six times. That didn’t bother me too much though, since I had never really cared about our football team and its legendary losing streak. The Squad was awesome, and that was all that mattered. The fact that our team sucked so much only meant that more people watched us instead of the massacre happening on the field.

  So, in a way, I guess I was glad they were awful. More airtime for us, right?

  As my boyfriend Zane and I drove up to Tawny’s house in his new black truck, I gave him a play-by-play of the game. He claimed he couldn’t make it because he had homework to do, but we both knew that was a lie. Zane couldn’t stand football. He had a chip on his shoulder about football because it stole the name of his game—soccer. He felt that soccer was a real man’s sport and that they were the one who deserved to have The Squad cheering at their games, not the heavily padded babies on our football team.

  His words, not mine.

  Even though he was pretty childish about it most of the time, I had to admit that I did sort of agree with him. It would be nice to cheer for a winning team for once, although that didn’t excuse him from refusing to come to the games to watch me cheer. He was definitely always going to be in the doghouse for that one.

  Some supportive boyfriend.

  The thick beams of Zane’s headlights cut through the fog of the chilly Oregon night, but the thought of dipping into Tawny’s parent’s hot tub made the chill so worth it. It was one of the only ways to stay warm in Oregon, plus showing off my cute bikini always made me happy.

  “Rae, which swimsuit did you bring? The red one or the blue one?” Zane asked, acting more interested in that topic than he had in my whole speech about the football team.

  “It’s not blue, Zane, it’s teal,” I corrected, slightly irritated that he obviously hadn’t listened to a word I’d said. “And yes, I brought the teal one.”

  “Awesome,” he replied with a grin. I shook my head at him in annoyance. He could be such a boy sometimes.

  We ended up having to park pretty far away from Tawny’s house, thanks to the tons of uninvited guests who had suddenly decided to make an appearance. I could see kids from school running up the lawn in their flip-flops and bikinis even though it could only be forty degrees outside, at the most.

  Tawny’s parents lived in a huge house surrounded by even bigger pine trees. I always joked that her parents pretty much owned the whole forest, which was kind of true. Her dad was some sort of contractor and her mom was what we called a “professional writer,” although the only writing she did was writing her name on the back of a check.

  The good thing about her parents’ ridiculous amounts of money was that they were gone most of the time to different exotic places. They would just leave Tawny the credit card and say, “Be reasonable” which meant, “don’t spend more than $1,000 on a shirt.” I would be jealous if I didn’t benefit so much from it.

  I slammed the truck door, wanting to get into the hot tub before I turned into a human icicle, but my actions apparently upset my overly sensitive boyfriend.

  “Rae!” Zane whined. “How many times do I have to tell you not to slam the doors? This truck is brand new!”

  “Oh my gosh, Zane, it’s a truck. It doesn’t have feelings. Now hurry up before we freeze,” I threw back at him.

  Zane and I had kind of a love-hate relationship. We’d bicker all the time like an old married couple. but deep down we were really happy together. He’d get mad at me for spending too much time doing my makeup and correcting what he calls colors, and I’d get mad at him for talking about his truck like it had feelings . . . which it didn’t.

  Honestly, though, his dad bought him the truck as an early graduation present, and it had been love at first sight. I had to remind him which of us was his girlfriend sometimes.

  Once Zane and I made our way through the throngs of high school students and into Tawny’s backyard, we set our stuff down and I quickly stripped down to my teal bikini. I spotted Tawny almost at once, without even seeing her face. She was standing with one hand on her waist, her hip jutting out to the side like a supermodel.

  Tawny always stood like she was posing. In fact, it was the only way I could tell she was having a good day, most of the time. She was pretty awful to the majority of people around her, except for Zane and me, of course, so it could be hard to tell if she was in a sour mood or just being herself. The model pose gave it away most days. If she was really upset about something, she’d stop posing and start thinking, although that rarely happened.

  As soon as Tawny caught sight of me, her dark brown eyes lit up and her generous lips parted in a wicked smile. She tossed her black hair over her very tan shoulder and bounded over.

  “Ohmigosh Reagan, it’s about time you got here!” Tawny squealed. “Oh, cute bathing suit! Teal is definitely your color.”

  I shot Zane a look to say, “I told you so” before turning my attention back to the party.

  “Mom sent over a bunch of this spicy Mexican candy from wherever they are. Something about getting in touch with my heritage,” Tawny said with a roll of her eyes, as if this attempt were as pathetic as the time her mom tried to teach her Spanish. “So I’m throwing it in the cups of all the losers who shouldn’t be at my party,” she finished with a triumphant smile, indicating that I should be proud of her for this petty bit of cruelty. “I’ll do it when they aren’t looking, of course. Maybe you can distract them?”

  “Sounds like fun,” I said with a semi-fake smile.

  I loved Tawny—I really did—and most days I was happy to pick on the underlings with her, but standing out there in the freezing night air, all I wanted to do was jump into the hot tub.

  But of course, since I couldn’t find a good excuse to forgo the de-geeking, my relaxing night looked like it would turn into me aiding Tawny on her personal vendetta against the nerds. This only solidified my resolve to keep my popular life and gaming life separate. The last thing I needed was Tawny as an enemy.

  She could be a complete Troll.

  2. More Intricate Than a Steampunk Dream

  Saturday was a welcome relief from the long week at school. I had told Zane that I would be busy most of the day, which suited him just fine. He wasn’t a hovering kind of boyfriend. He was more than happy spending a day with the guys doing whatever guys did.

  Well . . . . doing whatever popular guys did, anyway. I knew exactly how nerdy guys spent their Saturdays, since I was with them most of the time.

  Tawny was a bit harder to convince. She had apparently tried to plan out a whole day of fun for us, but I informed her in the morning that I had some chores to do. Technically this wasn’t a lie, since my mom had asked me to put the dishes away only minutes before Tawny called.

  “Your life is a bummer,” she said very seriously on the other end of the line. It sounded as though she’d come to this conclusion after many ho
urs of pondering and was now revealing it to me like a doctor telling a patient they had some awful disease.

  “I know. My mom’s a real slave driver, huh?” I responded sarcastically.

  “I’m just saying, haven’t they ever heard of a maid?”

  “I don’t know. Have your parents ever heard of a vacuum? Supposedly they’re not that difficult to use.” I heard Tawny snort a suppressed laugh over the phone.

  “Touché,” she responded. “Well, call me when you’re done being the family servant, all right?”

  “Kay, I will,” I said as I slid my phone shut.

  I did feel a little bad telling Tawny I had loads of chores to do when I really just had to put the already-clean dishes into the cupboard, but I couldn’t abandon my guild in their time of need. And besides, I had this raid set up way before Tawny called to do “fun things” all day.

  “Who was that, Reagan?” my mom asked from the other room as I put the last plate in the cupboard.

  “Tawny,” I replied, popping a strawberry into my mouth.

  Normally I’d sit at my desk with a bag of chips and a soda when raid time came around, but since it was cheering season, I had to make sure I actually looked like I was in shape. Picking up my bowl of strawberries and a huge glass of ice water, I headed to my room.

  “Are you going out with her today?”

  “Nope,” I replied quickly, my mouth full.

  “Oh,” my mom answered, sounding confused. “Are you going out with Zane later?”

  “No, I’ve got some stuff I need to do on the computer,” I said elusively before retreating into the safety of my room.

  Once inside, I set up my official raid station. I had everything I needed—food, drinks, my headphones (complete with microphone), and my computer. It looked like paradise. To top the experience off, I had my proper raid wardrobe on: sweat pants, a tank top, hair in a ponytail, and not one speck of makeup on. It made the whole raiding experience so much more enjoyable when you were comfortable.

  “All right, let’s get this started,” I said to myself, booting up the game and smiling as I typed in my username and password.