Hello!

If you followed this story a while ago and thought it was dead, well, you're about to be disappointed!

Uhm... so, I've kinda moved over to Spacebattles for most of my stuff recently. My pen-name there is Sager Hijinks, and I participate in the Creative Writing forums. You can find all this (and more!) over on my Idea Dump thread.

So, I've had chapters 2.1 - 2.4 for a while, just on that site. 2.5 is new though. So, if you just saw that this story is updated, you'll probably want to at least head back to chapter ILBB 2.1, or Chapter 14 if you can't see the titles.

With that being said, hope you enjoy!

I Like Big Booms
Floor 2.5: Getting to Know The Crew

I called everyone together the next day, and we gathered in the cave-ish shadow of the mountain; my normal stomping grounds.

"So, nice to see you all! Some of you may already know each other, and some of you might have talked yesterday, but we'll be doing a formal introduction now."

"As you should know by now, my name is «Gated». I am currently level 23," Argo let out a wolf whistle. I shot her a look. "I'm aiming to be craft a lot of things in the future. However, I also plan to be doing things... off the script, shall we say, of what Kayaba intende. I'll begin with a suitably dramatic example."

And with that, I pulled out a molotov cocktail from my belt. I rapped my knuckles against the glass, lightly, and let everyone take a glimpse. Then, I lit it and threw the rag and threw it over my shoulder, right into the field of monsters at my back.

With a shatter of glass that I had long since grown accustomed too, and the accompanying heat, the molotov exploded behind me, as I tried my best to not smirk in satisfaction.

"Obviously, I didn't make this guild to recruit chumps to carry me 'till the end. I can handle myself." I idly swiped some reward windows away from my HUD, before continuing. "Now, let's all introduce ourselves and try our hardest to wow each other, eh? Who wants to be second?"

Kirito was still looking at the burnt field with a mix of befuddlement and awe.

Higure had closed his eyes and was sitting there, patiently. Like a ninja.

Shroomish was flipping through his skill windows, probably to figure out the most impressive thing he could do.

Argo looked at everyone else, before sighing and bouncing up next to me.

"I guess I'll go next. Man, Gated, you sure set a high bar. I'm «Argo the Rat», information dealer extraordinaire!" She gave what would be a saucy wink, had she looked 10 years older. "I'm only level 15 right now. I participated in the Beta, just like Mr. «Beater» over there, except I'm not hated by the general public." She stuck out her tongue at Kirito's embarrassed face. "I also publish the Help guides."

She looked out over the mooing cows and oxen, before pulling out some Throwing Picks. They grey needles, sparkling in the morning sun, and she had them in the gaps between her fingers.

Argo turned around towards the rest of us, gave a wave, and dashed off. She designated an ox as her target, and started throwing. And throwing. And throwing.

With competent jukes and plenty of circling around, she remained unhit while peppering the ox with dozens upon dozens of needles. Obviously, she didn't do much damage, but I had the feeling that damage wasn't really the point here. When she finished, she salvaged whatever needles she could, and ran back to us.

"As you can see, I don't do much damage yet. I'm planning to max out my «Intelligence» and «Agility» before getting into any «Strength», so I probs won't be doing much damage on my own. But I will be giving us exclusive info on mobs and bosses, so be ready for that!"

Kirito raised his hand. "Eh... what's «Intelligence»? Aren't the only two stats «Strength» and «Agility»?"

Everyone looked at him, and we all let out a collective sigh. Argo took pity on him. "I'll tell you after this, when we have more time."

"Who's next?"

"This one shall volunteer next. His name is «Still Wind», although that is merely a reference to a ninja by the name of Higure. His level is 21, and he intends to commit himself towards becoming a true ninja - that is, he is aiming for a fast build focusing on movement and subterfuge." Higure gave a bow, and adjusted the strap on the sword hanging over his back. Then, he took off.

He was faster than Argo, although that might have been a function of a Skill. Maybe «Sprint» increased run speed? I would have to ask him if it was a passive or an active buff.

Then he reached the mobs.

Now, he told me yesterday that he parkoured off of the giant ovines, but I had imagined, you know, running up it's leg and slicing it's neck or something.

I was dead wrong, and it felt so good.

Higure took a running leap before he reached the first ox, and unsheathed his sword as his feet left the ground. His feet touched on the side of one ox, and he put his sword under its neck. With a flash of light that must have been a «Linear», he pounced off his starting ox and hit another with the slash, doing damage to both.

He never stopped moving, and as he land on the next ox he was already swinging around, striking twice, three times, four times, before jumping off and landing back on the first ox, which he used as a springboard while dragging his blade through simulated flesh. He catapulted himself off of the dying ox just before it dissolved into pixels, and did a sort of rotating-drill-piercing move back through the second ox, killing it.

He re-sheathed his blade on his back holster, and then ran back towards us. Just to prove his point, he did a high jump onto a tree branch from the ground, which he smoothly used as a foothold to launch himself back to the rest of us.

I started clapping, and Argo let out an impressed whistle. Shroomish was nodding approvingly, while Kirito was looking more and more lost. His mouth was moving, but his mumbles were pretty incomprehensible.

"But... swords... no magic... no classes... just basic skills... but..."

I gave Higure a thumbs up, and he gave another quick bow.

Shroomish spoke up. "I'll be going now. I'm «Shroomish», and I'm level 19. I'm currently having some troubles with farming quickly, so I'm not gonna be as high as you three," he gave me, Higure, and Kirito a nod, "but I'm not doing too bad. I'm going for a maximum CC build, with a side of tanking. I currently use a mace and a heater-type shield, but that may change." And with that, he went off. I could hear the anticipation in his tone.

He took his time approaching the mobs, and was resting his mace on his shoulder.

He reached an ox, and his mace started turning yellow.

«Oversmash»

His mace came down with a sickening *crack* on the boar's head, and I could see that it had been inflicted with the 『Stun』 and 『Bleed』 status effects.

He hit it once, twice, and the stun was wearing off, when-

«Shield Bash»

And he smashed it head on with his shield, immobilizing it with the 『Daze』 effect. The bleed had started to wear out.

He hit it again, this time he got three hits in before the daze started to wear off, and then he

«Ankle Break»

With a crunch, his mace swept low and took out one of the ox's legs. The boar fell, and was hobbling up again angrier together, when Shroomish came back in with an «Oversmash». After that, he just repeated the process, chain-CC-ing the ox until it was dead. It never got the chance to do a thing.

He strolled back to us.

I gave him a strong nod, as did Higure. Argo whistled again. "Man Gated, you really didn't settle on the interesting people. I like it!"

Kirito sighed. "Yo, I'm Kirito. I, uh... don't have any cool build things like you guys do, to be honest I'm just a regular swordsman. I'm, uh, level 28 though, and I hear that's pretty high?"

I wish I had a camera. Higure and Shroomish both seemed like pretty stoic people, so their expressions as Kirito casually told them how he was such a higher level... priceless.

"I guess I'll be going now...?"

He meandered over to one of the «Trembling Cows» (remember, those are the bigger ones), and pulled out his sword. While it was a nice sword, it was still pretty much a toothpick compared to the mob.

It started glowing purple.

«Linear»

Kirito then moved, near instantaneously via System Assist, and was on the other side of his target. He resheathed his sword and started walking back towards us.

I was about to protest, that he hadn't killed it or something, but then I was shut up when the cow dissolved into motes of light.

Yeeee-up.

Kirito just one-shot a mini-field-boss with one of the most basic skills in the game.

Argo smirk had only grown wider, while I was still watching my two new acquaintances and snickering.

Kirito put on a dopey smile and scratched the back of his head. "So... I know I'm a little boring, but I hope I'll be able to keep up with you!" He said it so innocently I truly believed that he wasn't trying to mock us.

Which depressed me even more.

I mean sure, I was glad to have snatched such a major asset up for my little guild. But at the same time, realizing that this guy was - in fact - a major asset was highly troubling.

It was still early morning, and here we were standing around.

"All right!" I clapped my hands. "Let's party up, and we're gonna start farming! Do any of you have extra skill slots open?"

Argo, Higure, and Shroomish shook their heads. Kirito was left raising his hand by himself.

"All right, what skills do you have right now?"

Kirito began. "I currently use «One-Handed Sword», «Searching - Tracking», «Light Armor Wearing», and «Battle Healing». My level 20 skill slot is still open."

"Good. So, you were wondering about «Intelligence» before, right? It's simple. Go to the list of skills, and skip all the way down to the bottom."

As Kirito began scrolling through the window, I began explaining. "This game has 4 hidden-ish stats that you can unlock by forfeiting a skill slot. «Constitution», «Intelligence», «Charisma», and «Luck». They're all pretty useful, but they all have the drawback that you lose a skill slot, but still only have 3 points per level to improve your stats, which have now increased in number."

He kept scrolling, and pitched in. "But you obviously feel that they're worth it, right?"

I nodded. "I personally don't use 3 of them, but I can attest to how useful «Luck» is. It occasionally unlocks quests, it increases drop rate, and you can use it to bias RNG in various ways. Basically..."

He interrupted me again. "Yeah, I get it. You can probably also influence spawn rate and trap triggering, right?"

I gave an approving hum. Kirito obviously had quite a bit of experience with videogames.

He reached the bottom, and squinted at the skill descriptions.

"You're right, «Lucky» would be pretty useful. Man, I kinda wish I had known about this earlier, now."

He put it into his skill list, and then closed out of the menu.

"Alright guys, listen up!" I called everyone's attention to me.

"I hereby instate the formation of the guild «Meta»! You're all a part of this guild because I decided that you would be interesting, so don't disappoint me!

"Now, this is where things get interesting!" I continued. "I have a very unique plan for this guild!"

"As Kirito can attest to, floor bosses are hard but often drop unique items for whoever kills them. Kirito got the first floor's boss drop - a cool cloak that is definitely worth more than he is." I paused, and snickered, before re-channeling my inner anime club leader.

"I've always been very focused on resources in games - I rarely will ever use anything that I can't get an unlimited supply of. I secure all possible limited resources, and when I have to use some I make sure it doesn't go to waste!

"By my reckoning, all Floor Boss drops are limited resources. And that means that we'll be doing something a just a little daring..."

I looked up, face full of anticipation. "We're not going to be a frontline guild. We're not going to be a part of the Raid Group any more. Instead, we're going to become the raid group.

"We're gonna solo every boss, by ourselves."