-1The CSI Wars

It was yet another slow night in Las Vegas. The town had been quiet all week, and the CSIs had moved from being thankful for the break to being utterly bored. Warrick was laying upside down on the break room couch tossing a stress ball when Nick walked in carrying a duffel bag. "Hey man, what's up?"

"Just feeling my brain rot out the back of my head." Warrick replied. "You?"

"I've got the solution to all our problems!" Nick announced. He set the bag down, grinning broadly.

Warrick righted himself on the couch. "A case!?"

"No, something more ADD than that." He unzipped the bag and pulled out his Xbox. "You do games?"

"Aw, sweet, man, what'd you bring?"

Nick started plugging the machine in the back of a nearby television. "I got a new fighting game, I thought we could test it out. It's got this really in-depth create-a-fighter mode. Everyone's raving about it."

"Start it going." Warrick said, grabbing a controller. "Which player is this?"

"It flashes on the top." Nick said, sitting next to him. "Lets get going."

The game booted up and Nick navigated to the creation menu. "I'm making me. What job class should I be?"

"What's the difference?"

"Just the fighting style, I guess." He thumbed through the choices. "How about a pirate?"

"Dude, you are so not a pirate." Warrick said. "Is there a cowboy in there?"

"Too bad there's not a linebacker option... Hey! Gladiator, how bout that?"

"Close enough." Warrick agreed.

Nick chose his skin color and gave himself a crew cut, then went through and picked out armor he thought was particularly fetching. "Okay, what color?"

"You're a CSI." Warrick said. "Black or navy from top to bottom."

"Heh... " He turned himself completely blue. "Okay your turn."

"Is there a gambler option?"

"Well... Actually."

Warrick found it in the menu. "Aw man, I'm cruel to myself."

"What are you guys doing?" Sara asked, walking in.

"Kicking each other's asses." Nick replied. He elbowed his fellow player. "You ready to go man?"

"Hold on, I want the arm bands with the spikes on them." Warrick took his afro'd character and turned his clothes black. "Okay lets get it on."

"You're gonna die man." Nick bated. They entered a match and began to punch each other.

Sara laughed and sank down into the couch next to Warrick. "That's awesome, you guys, they look just like you."

"All the way down to my foot in your face!" Warrick smacked Nick into the ground. "Eat it!"

"Oh yeah? Tough guy?" Nick uppercutted Warrick out of the ring. "That's one for me!"

"How many rounds? Two?"

"Hold on, its starting."

Sara watched the avatars dance circles around each other. "Can I try?"

"Sure, hold on." Warrick said, biting his lip and mashing his thumb into the buttons. "Lemme kill him first."

Nick blocked Warrick's next move. "I'm one up on you, dude, you're mine." Nick ringed him out again and ended the battle. "Hah! Booya!"

"Beginner's luck." Warrick dismissed. He gave his controller to Sara. "Avenge me."

"Great." She studied the screen. "Can I make a 'me'?"

"Yeah, go down to the one at the bottom." Nick instructed. "There's a ton of slots."

"We should make the whole team." Warrick suggested. "Have a CSI tournament."

"That would so rock." Nick agreed. "Seeing Grissom kick the crap out of Ecklie would make my day."

Warrick cracked a wide smile. "Oh man, we're doing it now."

"Okay, I'm ready." Sara said, naming her character. "Who am I up against? Nick?"

"I'll go easy on you." Nick confirmed.

She slid him a half grin. "Don't you dare."

"Woah!" The round started with Sara slamming her foot into his gut and sending him flying out of the stage. When the second round started, Nick reeled and put up a block. "Going below the belt straight off huh?"

"What? You afraid of a girl?" Sara chided. "Drop that guard boy, lets see what you're made of."

They boxed about, chipping away at each other's health bars. Sara's character was too fast for Nick to ring out. She cut under all of his heavy punches and grappled him from the side. Warrick cheered. "Alright! Take him down!"

"Thanks for the loyalty." Nick said, struggling to get back up through her flurry of kicks.

"You killed me!" Warrick said. "What loyalty does that earn? Go Sara!"

Greg came dashing up from down the hall as if magnetically drawn by the game system. "You guys brought an Xbox!?!" A second's study answered his question. "I play winner."

Sara kicked Nick's character in the back of the head and he went down. Nick threw his hands up in frustration. "How'd you do that!?"

"Qucikly." She responded with a smirk.

He lofted the controller to the man at the door. "There you are, Greggo."

Greg went into Create a Fighter and immediately chose a ninja. Warrick groaned. "That figures."

Greg seemed a touch offended. "Ninjas are cool!"

Nick shook his head. "Ninjas are done."

"Yeah well, I'll defend my title." He chose an untidy hairdo and turned himself navy. "Okay I'm ready."

"Careful, man." Warrick warned. "Sara's got a vicious opening attack."

"I thought you were on my side." She snorted.

The round began with a frenzied wave of guard breaks. Greg's character was faster than Sara's and he weaved around slashing her with a pair of kunai. Sara went down easy, leaving Greg victorious. Nick clapped. "You're good at this."

"Well, I've had some practice." He said, wafting the praise toward himself. "It's a gift."

"Hey Greg, go make Catherine." Sara said.

"Okay, what job class?" Greg asked. He paged through. "A Saint? An Assasin?"

"Make her a monk." Nick instructed. "Monks use nunchucks."

Greg grinned and advanced through the menu. "Okay, she needs long blonde hair... Lets put her in a slinky dress."

"Not really good for fighting." Sara said. "But I guess it doesn't matter in this game."

"Yeah and those high heels are vicious." Nick laughed.

Sara shook her head. "At least give her pants under it."

"Okay okay." Greg said. "Because she'd probably get me in trouble otherwise. There... Slacks." He named her. "Who else?"

The others exchanged devious glances. There was only one left. "Grissom."

Greg snickered. "No pressure."

"Make him a samurai." Warrick said. Nick barked a laugh.

Greg did so. He built their supervisor as close to the mold as possible complete with beard, glasses, vest and utility belt. When he was done everyone narrowed their eyes to have a look.

Warrick wrinkled his nose. "It looks nothing like him."

"There wasn't a lot to go on." Greg apologized. "I can dress him like a Viking if you want."

Sara shook her head. "Please no."

"I guess that's as good as its going to get." Nick shrugged. "Do we wanna make Brass?"

"I want to fight someone." Warrick said. "I barely got a punch in before you murdered me."

"I'm the reigning champ." Greg said. Sara passed Warrick her controller. Greg got into the versus mode. "Take me on."

Grissom and Catherine came up the hall in time for the match to start. Grissom cocked an eyebrow and inspected his team. "What's going on?"

"Greg is about to kill Warrick." Sara answered.

"Hey!" Warrick protested.

She smacked his arm. "What goes around comes around."

Catherine leaned in. "Aw, you guys are so cute." She shook Greg by the shoulders. "You're no that buff though."

"We made a you character." Nick told her, over the combatant's heads. "You're wearing pumps. Very imposing."

"I wouldn't have it any other way." She said.

Sara smiled up at her. "You wanna play?"

"No." Catherine said quickly. "Video games aren't really my thing."

"Its not mine either, but I still beat Nick." Sara replied.

Grissom was fascinated. "Are there one of these characters for all of you?"

"Yeah, we built the whole lab." Nick replied. "Even you, Boss."

He was surprised. "You made me?"

"Yeah, we were gonna make Brass but Warrick had an itch." Greg said, stomping his fellow CSI Sprite in the ankle.

"This is brutal." Grissom said. "How many times have I died so far?"

"You actually haven't fought anyone yet." Greg said. "We've only played with ourselves."

Warrick took a hit in the face. "You wanna break yourself in?"

Greg kicked Warrick over the side and let out a cheer. Grissom thumbed his beard. "Okay."

Everyone took a double take. "What?"

He was amused by their surprise. "I'll give it a shot. What do I do?"

"Uh..." Warrick pressed start and surrendered the match. "Come... Come over here, Boss." Grissom sat in the middle of the couch and took Warrick's controller. "You move with the stick. This button is vertical attacks, this is horizontal, this is kick and this is block."

"That's it?" He asked.

"I just mash buttons." Sarah offered.

Grissom carefully moved down the character selection list to find his name. His avatar popped up on the screen and growled, causing the real Grissom's eyebrows to shoot up. "I'm old and mean." He glanced suspiciously to his team. "Is that how you all see me?"

"No no no..." They all shook their heads quickly. Warrick pointed. "Greg's fault."

"My fault!?" Greg cried. "We built him together! Its the game's fault!"

"Okay, okay, who am I fighting?" Grissom asked.

"Oh you're ... You're fighting the computer right now." Greg said, discretely turning his controller off.

Warrick smirked at him and reached over Grissom's hand to press start. "Go for it."

The match started. Grissom glanced between his controller and the screen, watching the results of his different commands play out. The computer player landed a couple hits while he was testing. Nick flinched. "Ooh, put up a block, Gris."

"Block is this..." He pressed the appropriate button and deflected a kick. "Okay I got it."

Greg encouraged him. "Tear into him."

Grissom began the game, watching the other character close and making single horizontal or vertical attacks at key points. The other character was beaten back by Grissom's timely blocks until the two of them were near the edge. Everyone started getting excited, Nick pounding his fist on the armrest. "Kick him off! Kick him off!"

"Kick? Okay." Grissom dodged a slash and slammed his foot into the other man's chest. The opponent flew off and ringed out.

Sara grabbed his arm. "Hey, you won. You sure this is your first time?"

"Watch out, its going to get harder now." Greg warned. The two characters reloaded in the middle of the stage. Grissom was a little more comfortable with the system and began pounding the man with various blows. In seconds the computer dropped dead. Greg whistled. "Woah."

Grissom nodded in approval. "Okay, I'm done."

"But you won, you can keep going." Nick appealed. "We were going to make an Ecklie character..."

"Hah!" Grissom quickly composed himself. "No, I've got real work to do." He gave Warrick back his controller and got up off the couch. "I don't really play games."

He and Catherine turned to go, but Greg flagged their attention. "Is there nothing you're not good at?"

He grinned. "It's just observation and timing. Vertical is countered by horizontal and visa versa. Block when he kicks, kick when he blocks." He nodded to them and left. "If only our job was so predictable."