Chapter 2: Boom...

The convention center was alive with gamers and geeks alike, all enjoying the festivities to the fullest.

Despite it being a tournament, the entire thing resembled a regular gaming convention quite well. Except for the lack of overweight nerds escaping the harsh reality of their lives by playing dress up, much to Aeris' pleasure.

Booths were set up all around, with crowds surrounding them all. Some held glimpses to upcoming games that had already been announced, others sold merchandise from retro games to everyday items with fan favorite mascots plastered on them.

"Whoring out at its finest," Aeris muttered as she spotted a shampoo bottle with Mario's mustached face grinning at her.

"Hello little lady," the owner of the booth greeted, a rather large cowboy hat sitting on top of his head, "I sell games and game accessories, can I help ya?"

"A 360 controller if you have one." She needed a new one, her last spare had been broken a week ago. Being 'accidentally' smashed against a wall after a series of merciless deaths at the hands of the new Dark Souls game.

After paying for her controller, she tucked it away in her jacket and went off in search of Leo.

Aeris didn't have to go far however. Remembering that it was Leo, she just had to find the most moronic, degenerative, and mind-numbing excuse for a game they had.

"Smasher Man Extreme," Leo said, staring blankly at the banner hanging above him, awestruck. The title covered most of the banner with a small slogan just below it. 'After you've smashed everything, go and smash it some more!' Screens were set up to show some of it's game play. Controls looked as simple as any kind of beat-em-up, with an overly muscular male with a personality as thick as dirty water. Aeris was sure staring at it for too long would cause her brain damage.

She pulled Leo away before he would start drooling on himself, trying to find where they needed to go for the tournament.

They eventually found the registration area. Giving their names, they were congratulated for making it into the tournament, both of them having won smaller contests to gain their entry. After they were processed, they were given a badge to wear around their neck to show their player names and then pointed to a set of doors that would lead them to a place they could rest before everything started.

It wasn't such a bad place. Essentially just a large room, it was filled with different computers for the other contestants to practice on before the tournament began. Even a large table was set up to the side with small foods and beverages for them to enjoy.

The other contestants were all either conversing with one another or watching each other use one of the computers. Aeris lost track of Leo as soon as they entered, but she didn't mind, a few moments away from him would help steel her nerves enough to concentrate.

With the computers taken, Aeris just wandered about the room. Meeting the fellow gamers she would have to go up against in the tournament. From what she could see, it would be a stiff competition.

It didn't take long for boredom to settle in however. Aeris was brought to the point of actually wanting to find Leo, at least talking with him would allow them to discuss their strategy for the tournament. But she couldn't find him, not with any of the groups watching the computers, or talking with the other competitors, she was beginning to think he had run off or gotten into trouble.

Just as she was about to expect the worst, she caught a glimpse of a gray feline off at the very end of the room. Being struck by curiosity, Aeris decided to see what was so important.

"Hi," a voice greeted from behind. Aeris turned to see who it was, jumping back in surprise as she saw a young cat wearing a pair of glasses with the biggest lenses she had ever seen. "You here for the tournament?" He sounded overly excited.

"Uh... yeah, that's why I'm back here," Aeris responded, trying her best not to roll her eyes as the answer seemed obvious.

"Oh sorry," he was quick to apologize, "I just didn't know, considering your a girl and..." the cat paused for a moment as Aeris' eyes started to twist into a fierce glare, "uh... never mind." Wise decision.

"Yeah... well I was just looking for my friend so..." Her eyes turned back to where she noticed Leo. He was still there, she then figured out what he was doing. It seemed that he was talking with someone, or talking to someone. As Leo seemed to do all the talking, while the fox in his path was forced to only listen. "I wonder who that is," Aeris said, mostly to herself.

"The fox?" the four-eyed cat broke in. "That's Iron Cross." Aeris just gave the cat a questioning look, never hearing the name before. "Huh, surprised you've never heard of him. He's actually one of the favored for winning this tournament. Though this is his first time taking part in a competition, his name is known well enough in the PSN lobbies."

"Ah, so that's why." Aeris knew many of the better players in the Xbox community, even being considered one of them in terms of skill, but she knew little of the PSN and their ilk. She looked back to the cat when she noticed his hand outstretched to her.

"I'm TrekMan06 by the way," he said, showing his badge. TrekMan's gaze shifted down to Aeris' own and he smiled. "Pink_Furry, an odd name if I ever saw one." He gave a nasally laugh at it, ending with an involuntary snort.

"It's fury," Aeris said through gritted teeth, holding her badge closer to the cat's face to see it better.

"Oh heh, my mistake." His voice was starting to become nervous as a light shade of red appeared beneath his cheek fur. "Hey, uh... Pink... you uh... you wana cyber?" TrekMan held up a laptop he kept in his bag and looked at her expectantly. Aeris' eyes widened at the question and she slowly backed away.

"Uh... yeah... uh no no no. I have to go... find my friend... that's right... find him... really fast." The pink cat then spun a full 180 and walked off as fast as her legs would allow.

"Hey wait," TrekMan called after her, "you don't have to go... you ever been to Goldshire?" But she was gone. Depression sank in as TrekMan's ears and tail flopped down lifelessly and he walked away, dragging his feet with each step.

Aeris made her way toward Leo and the fox. The gray cat was still talking while the fox looked uninterested, it appeared like he was hardly giving the feline any attention at all. With his back leaning against the wall, the fox faced out toward the rest of the room. His eyes didn't appear to fix on any one thing at a time, shifting about the room and gazing at everything in it. They locked onto Aeris as she approached them both, beginning to hear what Leo was saying.

"...and then I said, 'Real easy, like your mom!'" A fit of laughter from Leo followed, forcing the cat to bend over and clutch at his sides. The fox however merely gave a weak chuckle, mostly out sympathy.

But Leo's laughter was short lived as a sharp jab from Aeris' into his ribs put a stop to it.

"Ow, oh uh... hey Aeris..." Leo flinched as he fully noticed her, preparing for a good beating.

"Leo, I'm thirsty, go get me a drink," she demanded, pointing toward the snack table. Without a moment of hesitation, Leo nodded and ran off toward the table, hoping it would prevent a beating latter on. "Sorry about him," Aeris said, turning her attention to the fox, "he's an idiot, but if you hit him enough times he turns tolerable."

"I'll try to remember that," the fox said with a chuckle, through the laugh Aeris caught a glimpse at a set of canine fangs poking out from underneath his lip.

With their distance to one another, Aeris was able to make out the fox's appearance much better then when she first saw him.

Rather then the traditional orange, his fur and hair was a darkened red, resembling the color of a new brick. Like with all foxes, his cheeks and the bottom half of his muzzle was white, with the fur over his cheeks spiked. The white followed down the front of his neck and from what she could assume continued to his chest.

His attire was rather mundane compared to that of the other contestants she had seen, the trench coat he wore being the first thing the eye catches. Its age was somewhat of a mystery, small parts of it being slightly faded, making Aeris think he had it quite for some time. The fox also wore it open, allowing a clear sight at the t-shirt he had on underneath.

The only really strange thing about the fox were his eyes. A bright shade of yellow making up the iris.

"Odd color for a fox," Aeris thought. Then again, she was a cat with bright pink fur, so there wasn't much room for her to talk.

"You're wet," the fox said, his eyes looking at her from head to toe, "you were splashed?"

"Huh," Aeris was shocked for the moment, how he could of known was beyond her guess.

"I just noticed your damp clothing. Seems like a lot for a simple rain shower, especially with your... friend only being wet around the pant legs. I'd take the guess that a little puddle antics occurred?"

"Yeah... but how did you..." The fox just chuckled to himself, finding something funny about Aeris' confusion.

"Sorry, I get a little overly observant when I'm bored." Leo then made it back with the drink Aeris asked for, still on edge as he tried avoiding any punishment from pink feline. "Anyway, pleased to meet you both. I'm A... uh, Iron Cross." The fox gave his hand and Leo was quick to shake it.

"TheDukeX," Leo said, giving his own player name. The fox showed a smirk as he looked down at Aeris' badge. It gave another look of his teeth, they seemed rather large for him, the fox hardly able to smirk without them showing themselves, even if it was just the tip.

"The Pink... Furry? Strange name, I take it your into humans then?" Aeris' face twisted into a look of anger as the irritation of being misread was getting to her.

"It's Fury. F-U-R-Y!" she stressed, her cheeks gaining a red flare from her anger.

"Oh, heh sorry," he apologized, raising his hands up defensivly. "Weird how those two words hold nothing alike, yet they can be so easily misconstrued." Just then, someone entered the room and announced that the tournament would be starting, everyone stopped what they were doing and all headed for the exit. "Well that's our cue, good luck, you may need it." The fox walked off toward the door, leaving the two cats alone.

"Well Leo, lets show these guys who the real gamers are."

Each participant in the tournament was led a small closed off cube sitting near the main stage. Resembling a closed off cubicle, it was made completely sound proof to discard distractions from the loud sounds of the viewers outside. Each cube was outfitted with a monitor and the equipment they would use to play the game. A controller for both PS3 and 360 players were set up for personal preference, even a keyboard and mouse sat nearby to allow PC gamers to use what they like.

Atop the large stage overlooking the crowds of spectators, a man held up a microphone to address them.

"Greetings ladies and gentlemen," the announcer called out. "It is time for the tournament to get underway. Here we will have some of Canada's finest gamers ready to battle one another in the new FPS sensation, Wasteland." A large banner was dropped down, showing the game's title. "So, without further delay, let the tournament begin!"

The monitor in Aeris' cube powered on, allowing her to select a character color. Obviously she went with pink.

Wasteland appeared like a decent enough game to her. It was reminiscent to Fallout in terms of looks, taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, using a combination of futuristic weapons and ones that were more makeshift. The graphics were superb as well, even a noteworthy blood indicator that allowed a splash of red on the screen depending on how badly you kill someone and how close they are to you.

The left side of her screen showed the names and colors of the players as they set themselves up, as well as their current life counter. Each contestant being given a total of 6. Aeris noticed Leo's game tag appear with the others, his color being blue of course. She noted it as she would have to watch out for the blue player running around, most likely running his head into walls, but she had to be optimistic. Their plan being to work together to take down the competition more effectively, then with only themselves remaining, fight each other for first place.

But the tournament was much more hectic then she first realized. With only a 6 life counter, she assumed it would go over quickly, but the skills the other players showed surprised her. Even as she was sure to have pinned down someone, only needing a few more shots to take them out, through a clever trick or distraction they managed to escape her.

The corner of her eye was locked onto the counter, watching as the lesser skilled players were taken out, then the lives start to slowly dwindle on the others.

Aeris' kept her reflexes going as she used an old favorite tactic of hers. Waiting in cover in spots that are easily missed by passing eyes, just as a player would get close enough, she would unleash a barrage of gunfire. Just as they were caught off guard, it was all too easy for her to slip in close enough for a finishing melee attack.

The spectators outside got all the action they needed. With a gigantic screen sitting atop the stage that switched between the views of the different players as they preformed impressive maneuvers. Many smaller monitors were set up around the cubes as well, giving shots of specific players to allow everyone to see what's going on.

They were soon on the final stretch of the tournament. Only a few players remained, each with only one or two lives left.

Aeris finished off two others, an unlucky two who were too busy going against each other to notice the grenade she placed between them. She watched with satisfaction as their names were struck off the list. There the cat noticed who was left. Besides herself and Leo, only three others were still running about in the world. One of the names popped out at her as she saw it, IronCross. A devilish smirk crossed her as he pictured herself being the one to put and end to him.

She searched through the now seemingly empty game, hunting down her prey like a cat would a mouse. Then the sound of a gunshot broke through the silence of the world. It was close, too close for Aeris' comfort. Crouching in a small rock clearing, she looked about in an attempt to find the source of the gunfire.

A glimpse of movement gave away their location. Up atop a small tower, she noticed a player clad in red armor. Aeris' immediately recognized it as IronCross, his outfit matching the red in his name.

Perched on the tower, he was ducked near some boxes with a sniper rifle in his hands. She watched as he fired it twice, one after the other. To her surprise she saw the names of the other two competitors disappear from the list. The more she thought about it, the more it made sense, seeing how observational he was, it seemed obvious he would play a sniper role. Patiently watching from the shadows as they made sure anything moving would soon stop.

Aeris kept her eyes on him as he scanned the area in front of him, looking for the remaining players, Leo and herself. But he hadn't noticed her yet, thinking he had all possible angles of attack in his field of vision, he couldn't see her just out of his gaze.

Being as careful as possible, Aeris search the area around her, needing weapon with longer range. She had lucked out, finding a scoped rifle hiding away close to the rocks she was at. Not quite as powerful as the sniper, but it would work for a descent head shot.

Positioned correctly, she aimed directly into her opponent's head. Aeris' heart started to beat harder and harder as he realized that she was going to win the tournament. With just her and Leo left, she could easily take care of him for an easy victory. With the pounding in her chest the only thing she could hear, her hand began to shake as she pressed the trigger button, releasing the powerful sound of gunfire.

Aeris felt the thrill of victory surge through her as she fired. But her eyes cracked wide open as she witness what happened next. A player dressed in blue, Leo, ran right by at that exact moment. Just as she pressed the shoot command, his player's head came right past her crossairs. The gunshot sounded and the bullet was sent into Leo's head instead. With the proximity of them both, Aeris' screen was soaked in blood from Leo's head exploding into bits, disorientating her and ruining her position. Her intentional target noticed her then, turning to face her, taking only a moment to align the shot and fire. Then, it was all over.

The crowd erupted into a roar of cheering as the tournament ended. Aeris was too dumbstruck to do anything. The pink cat only stared at her screen, not moving a muscle except for her continuously descending jaw and a twitch in her eyes.

Then the people surrounding her cube were filled with a spine freezing terror as they heard muffled screams coming from the supposedly sound proof cube of the pink cat gamer. It took only a moment for the crowd to create a wide gap between them and it.

"Now wasn't that a spectacular performance," the announcer shouted out to the crowd. Aeris had been led up to the stage, alongside the fox she met earlier and the other contestants. "Congratulations to the winner, IronCross, truly a gamer not to be trifled with!" The announcer handed him his prize, a trophy along with a modest cash prize.

Aeris kept her boiling rage buried deep inside, trying her best not to make a scene as it felt like she could snap at any moment. Her gaze locked onto Leo, the gray cat nervously giving her glances as he realized the torture he would be in for once they get home.

A/N: Headshot... So chapter 2 is done. A good length of chapter in my opinion, though I think I may have overdid it in some areas.

But oh god, probably shouldn't have made that Goldshire crack...(shudder violently) Though I could honestly see that being a pick-up line for nerds. They'd be off in their local comic shop, see a fine lady there and move his way up, "Hey baby, ever been to Goldshire?" … I dunno maybe it isn't as well known of a joke as it used to be. Then again you'd have to be a WoW player to know it anyway.

Anyone ever been there before? I have... Scarred me for life. Friend of mine took me there as a joke... just... ugh... Such a horrible place of sin, where even the most purest of souls will leave corrupted... and sticky...

Anyway, I kind of liked the idea I made up for this chapter. I actually based the ending off of a few personal experiences I've had with playing the sniper role. Mostly from playing Resistance 2 multiplayer (30v30 for the win!) Usually some idiot sniper trying to take my spot and forcing me to shoot him in the ass... by accident of course...