Uey had never wanted to be a mascot.
It wasn't something he admitted often. It would shock the hundreds of gamers who looked up to Uey. Those nerds who endured endless nights of debauchery all in the name of Unrepentant; basement-dwelling social rejects who had blossomed into productive (but drunk) members of gaming society; trolls who had learned it was perfectly acceptable to haze a newb and still be friends after the fact. Uey loved them all, don't be fooled, he loved their bright-eyed enthusiasm with each new game trailer they posted, he admired their fanboyism and fervent debates – and the tits, dear sweet internet, he loved the tits!, but he had never expected the simple precept of, "Be good to each other," and "Play what you want," to be as revolutionary as it was. He had never expected to be a role model.
Sometimes, an idea becomes more powerful than the person who created it. He feared the dangerous line he walked, with the idea of Unrepentant being bigger than Uey himself. Most of all, he feared not living up to the expectations of the lives he touched. He feared not being good enough.
Uey burned away these fears in a bottle. With each harsh swallow, the doubts and worries became a little quieter, a little more muffled. With each cry of, "Shot! Shot! Shot!", each lick of lime and salt, he could taste less of doom and impending failure. With each pool of fruity liquor he sucked out of some girl's belly button or back dimple, he'd forget all the criticism, the arguments, the internet-drama.
But no matter how much Uey drank, he still dreamed of mediocrity.
The light spilled in, peeking between heavy curtains with an unforgiving, harsh brightness. Uey could feel the headache between his eyes (which was quite the feat, considering there was nothing but space between his eyes) pounding and his mouth felt glued closed. With a heavy groan, he blinked awake. As his eyes slowly adjusted, he became aware of the soft, feminine curve of hip, shoulder and breast, outlined in the sheets beside him.
The girl stirred, too, softly yawning. Uey remembered nothing of the night before, after drunkenly declaring, "I'm not Safe For Work, Mother-fucker!" and ripping his pants off. But the girl's tangled hair, her sleepy, knowing grin, and the pile of clothing in the corner was enough to clue him in as to the rest of the night's activities.
"Morning cutie-pie!" her voice hit a pitch that made Uey's headache throb. Uey merely grunted in reply as he stumbled out of bed, on the search for pants, aspirin, or at least another beer.
Unfazed by his lack of reply, the girl propped herself up on one arm, watching Uey fumble around the room, "Soooooo," she said on one long breath out, "…Can I get into Unrepentant now?"
"What?" Uey paused in his rummage through the mini-fridge, peering up at her with a squint.
"You said I could get into Unrepentant if I slept with you!" she said with a giggle.
Dao and Foul were going to kill him, Uey thought with a grimace. Slowly, he ambled back to the bed, "Well, do you at least have a zombie plan?"
"A zombie plan?" The girl echoed back, her eyes distant, "Hm, well. I'd go to a resort! It'd be awesome. All my family and bffs could hang out and get manicures and massages all day!"
"Oh Christ…" Uey muttered, a hand in the space between his eyes where his forehead would have been, "Do you even game? Or read forums?"
"Ohhh, well…" the girl paused, her forehead wrinkled as she thought, "Um… I don't really do forums, they're so confusing! But I really like the Sims – oh! And Farmville!"
"Why do you even want in Unrepentant?" Uey asked, "Do you even have an embarrassing story? Did you even read the charter?"
The girl scrambled to the edge of the bed, dragging sheets with her. The edge of the sheet dipped low, almost exposing a nipple and making this fanfic NSFW. "Don't you wanna be my facebook friend, Uey?" her voice dropped to a low, seductive tone, "Don't you wanna be my farm neighbor?"
Uey's mouth watered and his brain emptied. Realistically, he knew he couldn't let this girl into the U – she couldn't even formulate a decent zombie plan! What would happen during a real zombie apocalypse? He end up rescuing her time and time again, she would be distracting, and she would eventually be bitten and he'd have to shoot her. But man, she had a decent rack, and maybe she wouldn't be so bad. . .
Before his little head could lead him further down that train of thought, the bedroom door exploded inward with a crash of splinters, smoke, and pure badassery. The girl screamed, shrinking back into the bed, and Uey jumped back.
As the smoke died away, a figure stepped through, a short, dark-haired woman, with a flame-war gun almost bigger than herself pointed directly at the girl on the bed. Her mouth fixed in a snarl, she yelled, "Uey! Back away from the tits!" Uey recognized that voice! (Although many thought all the U-chicks sounded alike in Vent, he knew they all sounded distinct)
"But Gwyn! I was just…." He started in protest.
"I swear to God, Uey!" her flame-war gun sputtered a small flame in warning, "I will not allow you to let drama into this community! I will take you down with her!"
"Now wait just a second!" the girl on the bed squealed, "My second cousin's daughter's BFF is in Unrepentant so you should let me in too!"
"I don't think so, Cutey!" Gwyn roared, "All applicants are required to stand on their own merit. No riding coat-tails for you. Now, answer this or I'll flame you back to the depths of the internet where you belong – which rules translation did you like best?"
"Well, I… uh…" Cutey stammered, "I really liked the rule about respecting your fellow guild mates…."
"Wrong answer, noob!" Before Uey could stop her, Gwyn unleashed the flame-war gun in a spurting shot. "Learn to read accepted and rejected applications before applying!" Gwyn cackled, shrieking in delight as Cutey was flamed down. Between the roar of the fire and Gwyn's mad glee, Uey thought he heard Cutey say something like, "You're just jealous!" and "I do what I want!" but he wasn't sure.
As the smoke cleared, Cutey was gone. Coughing, Uey staggered toward Gwyn, "You know you're going to get into a lot of trouble for flaming that applicant, but it needed to be done. Thank you for rescuing me."
Gwyn smiled down at Uey, "I don't mind taking one for the team. I know it's hard to see past the boobage when it comes to bad applications, but we have to do what's right for the community." She swung the flame-war to her hip, putting it in its holster, "I already flamed the cousin's sister's mom's baby mama, Sun, out of the community. But we have bigger problems at hand than bad applicants."
"Like what?" Uey was back to the mini-fridge, emptying out the little liquor bottles. He knew if Gwyn had a serious problem, he'd need to stock up.
"The World of Warcraft branch has grown too big, too fast. Too many people have forgotten about the community at large. All they talk about is raids, gearscore, and slapping the Lich King in the face. Why do you think we've had so many applicants who are awesome in their app thread, and then disappear from the forums?" Gwyn paused, and Uey saw her blinking tears from her eyes, " I haven't seen Dao in over a week. People are fighting all over the forums And Fext…. Fext won't even play Left for Dead 2 with me anymore. All he can talk about is the beta. You need to remind people what the U is all about."
"But Gwyn. . ." Uey frowned, clutching the bottles to the bottom of his u-curve, "I'm not even sure *I* know what the U is about anymore."
"Are you kidding me?" The outrage was in her voice, in her wide-eyed look. Uey couldn't reply, and he felt small and shamed under her glare. Seeing him like that, Gwyn's face softened from anger into pity, and she sighed, "You're not kidding me, are you? You need more help than I can offer, Uey. I know I can be a hardass bitch sometimes, but I'm not mean enough to slap you until you stop acting like a vagina." She whipped out her cell phone and dialed. "Hey? Yeah, it's G. I need a favor."
Gwyn didn't come with him. She said something about empowering the female player base without using female-gamer stereotypes, and disappeared. She'd left him with an address, a blown kiss, and a promise to let him grab her ass if he acted a little more manly next time she saw him.
The address was an internet café. Uey had been to a number of internet cafés before, and his impression had always been quiet, isolated places, where the only sound was fast typing and the occasion muffled chuckle. He found it amazing that so many people could be in the same place, socializing with people across the world, but not speaking to the person next to them.
Not today. It was a roar of chatter, laughter, and actual conversation. There was a blur of bodies, people packed in around computers, pointing out something on a screen to the crowd gathered around.
Uey pushed his way in through the door, and before he could discern individual people, someone shouted, "UEY!" and he found a mug of beer pushed into his hand.
"What..?" Uey stammered.
"Uey!" A familiar voice called out, and Uey saw Foulsoul push to the front of the crowd, "Uey, why didn't you tell us you needed help? Why didn't you say you had lost the faith?"
In that moment, Uey felt the shame he had been hiding. Embarrassment flooded his face, and he turned a little less blue and more purple. How could he tell Foul that he wasn't sure what Unrepentant stood for anymore? How could he say that the new applicants weren't really U material? How could he explain that he couldn't pull people from their self-centered games when he wasn't even sure of himself? "I… didn't know how you could help."
Foul put a hand on one of Uey's U peaks. "Uey, you have to understand something. Unrepentant gives us something. It gives us a creed, a home, and a community. But that's a lot to expect from one place without doing something for it. We can't all take out from the U without putting something in it. When the U needs something, we all need to step up and help the U out."
Another man stepped forward from the crowd; a large bear of a man who looked like he drove an unmarked van. In fact – there was an unmarked van outside, with a sign saying, "Free Candy!" Uey realized it was Huntgod.
"Before Unrepentant, I was a huge forum troll. I didn't realize I could flame the shit out of somebody and still game with them and be cool. You taught me that, Uey." Huntgod said. He smiled his pedophile smile, "Now, excuse me Uey. There's someone wrong on the internet and I need to yell at them."
Suddenly, a puff of rice and beans exploded out of thin air, and Uey recognized the brown magic as Fext. Fext grinned his dumb grin, "You know what, Uey? Unrepentant taught me that it's OK to game and be hardcore, and it's OK to take breaks when I need to. Thanks to you, Uey, I'm not going to worry about World of Warcraft today, and I'm going to make dirty, sweet hot love to my wonderful fiancé! And then maybe we'll play some LFD2!" And he disappeared, Gwyn in tow, already ripping each others' clothes off (hint hint Fext maybe you should take a WoW break after I'm done this fanfic?)
Foul smiled, "Uey, you taught me that sometimes I need to be assertive and not put up with other people's bullshit. And that it's OK to let other people lead if I'm not having fun. You taught me that I have my strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and that Dao is a perfect compliment with his strengths and weakness." He paused, looking around, "Speaking of which, has anyone seen Dao?"
It was at that moment that a bevy of half-dressed, beautiful women in corsets and bondage gear burst in, carrying Dao on their shoulders. Everyone gawked at the women, not so secretly envious of what a badass career Dao has had, and wondering why the hell he would have given that up for consulting! I mean, come on! In one clenched fist, Dao proudly displayed his authenticator.
"Sorry I've been gone for so long, folks. I had to storm Blizzard's headquarters with my army of hotties to get my authenticator!"
And so, all of Unrepentant partied hard with Dao's lady friends, and drank themselves stupid. The next day, Foul, Dao, and Uey all attacked the current applications in their post-drunk stupor, and only really cool people were let in.
And they were all excellent to each other, and played the games they wanted to play.
Epilogue: Gwyn got a beta invite. She was thrilled.