There was already a fight in progress in the Alchemy Labs and so I decided to take up the defense, seeing they could use another fighter. Upon entering, I saw mobs of monsters everywhere, fire littering the floor from the scattered inferno traps. Spike blockades had been positioned just behind the fire traps to keep the monsters at bay and monk auras protected them from destruction, both by lowering their strength, ensnaring them, and electrifying them. It was a good set-up, but the two huntresses and ranger looked as though they could use an additional hand. All of them were precariously perched atop the alchemical equipment; they were safe from the hordes, but the defenses still needed care and maintenance.

With my own disk launcher, I was perfect at clearing lanes of enemies, but my spectacular armor also provided me with an 87% damage resistance against all elements, making me a wonderful defense repairer. My skills did not provide for me to build my own traps – they had that covered anyway – but I could certainly manage to repair builds of any make and fashion, which I intended to do as the only other male was a ranger like myself, and the females were less likely to be able to take a hit than me, a male with higher hit point scaling and good armor.

Once a lull in the fighting had been reached, I joined the battle, introducing myself, "Hello. I'm Reithan." I stated, brushing my long forest green hair back behind one pointy blue-green ear.

"Welcome," greeted the other hunter, a man with a smug look on his face, which was as green as mine. His hair, however, was the snowiest white. "My name is Piccolo." He said. "This is Armysitice and Tyjero." He motioned to the two huntresses, who both nodded and waved hello. I waved back. The female elves were pretty cute, both dressed up in angel outfits.

"Piccolo," I murmured, recognizing the famous name from Dragon Ball Z. I took note of his weapon, a crystal tracker type. Other than the disk launcher I currently held, I considered crystal tracker type weapons to be the most respectable. His shining armor (though still allowing for his much sculpted chest to be shown) indicated that he also had full 87% resistances. Impressive. Curious to see if he was a better hunter than me, I crept close to him, checking his stats while he was distracted. His weapon only had 1500 damage, paltry compared to my 5k damage disk launcher. His hero attack was higher, however. I didn't think that made much of a difference, but I wasn't sure. He was clearly the group leader; having been the only person to leave the safety of the room's alchemical equipment to repair any defenses during the previous wave. I was curious to learn more.

Unhooking my weapon from my belt, I attempted to jump up on top of the equipment, only to fail. Huffing, embarrassed, I tried again, only to fail once more. I was slower than he and the huntresses and making the leap to the lab equipment was a stretch for me. To be honest, I'd never tried it before, but this strategy was lovely – as a ranged fighter, getting hit was really a non-option for me. With my spectacular armor I could take a hit or two (at least more than the huntresses could), but I still wasn't robust like a squire or countess. Brushing the dust off of my black jacket and bare, flat chest, I ran up the side stairs and took the leap at the fastest run I could muster. I managed to make it – barely. But still, I was up there.

"Heh, I fail the jump sometimes, too," Piccolo said, smirking at me. I just looked sheepish and decided not to respond. Soon, the wave started and mobs began flooding in through the doors. The group hadn't been fighting long yet and, for the most part, the enemies were still fairly weak and the defenses could hold their own against them. I ran around making minimal repairs and keeping an eye on Piccolo. The crystal tracker, while it did less one-target attack than my disk launcher, had a wide area-of-effect that took a toll on multiple enemies. In addition, he used his piercing spreadshot ability quite frequently, sending out three golden birds to cut through his enemies.

The next few waves felt like wading through shallow water, the enemies were so easy. The four of us elves managed to hold off all of the would-be Eternia crystal murderers, including the dark elf warriors, our much-hated anti-brethren. Perhaps if dark elves knew what fun was, this whole situation could have been avoided. It pained me to have to murder hundreds upon hundreds of my once-upon-a-moon brothers and sisters. However, time had fully separated them from us elves and they were annoying sons-of-bitches. I felt remorse for what could have been, but not for what was, as slaying them by the thousands was the only way to rid the world of the unrelenting plague that they were. "Where do they all come from?" I absentmindedly wondered one wave as I was repairing a spike blockade.

With each progressing surge of enemies, they were getting stronger and stronger and it soon became a struggle to keep up. We all stayed on the alchemical equipment as much as possible – they were too stupid to reach us up there – but we began needed to stay near the back to heal the blockades and traps. Feeling heroic and perhaps a little stupid, I was the one who volunteered to stay down as a defense repair jockey. Plus, to be honest, it was too hard for me to keep trying to make the jump back up to the top of the lab equipment. I failed 4 times out of 5 and it was embarrassing enough without having dark elves trying to jump me at every stage of the attempted jump.

For the most part, I spend my time standing on one of the raised walls overlooking a side entrance and shooting into the crowd of mobs that were surging through. Occasionally I would have to dodge to the side and piercing spreadshot a dark elf to death, but usually it wasn't too bad.

It was near the 20th wave that things began to get extremely hectic. One of the huntresses had to abandon the defense because she was tired and had a final the next day and the other one wasn't the most helpful – she shot and shot all day, but wouldn't repair a damn thing, even though she could reach many things from where she was standing.

"Shit," I stammered as I tried to heal defenses with dark elves jumping me left, right, and center. Even though they weren't usually doing enough damage to hurt me seriously (at least until a lot of them showed up), their attacks would interrupt the healing of the defense, which was critical when there was already an orc beating on the blockade. I managed to keep all of the blockades alive, but up front a trap went down. Cursing to myself, I ran in circles, healing everything I could manage while attempting to dodge the parade of dark elves that followed me like lemmings.

"Get the… gerrof!" I struggled to heal a blockade as another clump of warriors jumped me. It was just then that a multitude of golden birds began to fly past me harmlessly warming my skin, but cutting deep into the impure, demonic flesh of the dark elves. Gasping, I whipped my head around to see Piccolo, standing atop the equipment, shooting the dark elves away from me. I was touched by his team effort, and began to trust that he'd look out for me and we'd have each other's backs. Or that he'd mostly protect my scrawny behind while I worked to keep the defenses up.

We were nearing the end of the wave, finally. The number of enemies began to thin, but the sheer amount of dark elves had increased full spectrum. He was standing with me overlooking one of the side entrances, where the majority of enemies were still entering, while we were being swarmed with the bastard ninjas. I was trying to clear the enemies off of him, but, shockingly, he died. I gasped in disbelief. "Piccolo!" I said, incredulously.

"What?" he replied, since no one really dies in Dungeon Defenders.

"You died." I answered. "You just don't do that." Despite his lower-than-mine DPS, he was just as resilient as I, if not more so.

He chuckled in amusement, but I resolved myself to protecting him better – working as much as I could to make sure we would both keep each other alive. For everyone's benefit.

The next wave was an absolute shit-storm of ninjas, running around everywhere and massacring everyone on the ground. If there was no one on the ground, they would continue the massacring, except against the spike barricades. "Fuck me," I proclaimed in a moment of weakness as the dark elves figuratively raped me upon respawn, after each and every time I died. Where were these bastards when we were easily killing off their little brother and sister dark elves in wave one? Piccolo stayed safe from his perch on the lab equipment, healing everything around him that he could reach from his perch, and backing me up as I tried to keep the back defenses up. One time, an orc was blasted past the blockade by a trap that didn't fully kill it. It almost made its way to the crystal, but with joint effort, we managed to kill it off before it did any damage. We'd have to be especially careful from now on… we were entering dangerous territory.

There were only a few waves left; we could make it if we kept our eyes on the prize. It was an uphill battle, however, and I wasn't sure if I, even with my top-tier armor could make it. I was growing tired, battered, and beaten. "I don't know if…"

Piccolo, as attentive as an outstanding leader should be, shushed me. "We can make it. We have to make it."

Swallowing thickly, I nodded. I'd do what I could. For him. After how much he'd done for me, I could take it, or die trying (as I was bound to do at least 50 more times). "Geh. Ok, ok, we have this." I stated, reviving my confidence as I envisioned our success. Only about 21,000 enemies remaining…

The next wave was even more torturous, but amazing loot was dropping left and right. My armor was easily outclassed by things I saw simply laying around on the ground. I picked up as much as I could manage, but with the dark elves flying around on zip lines, it was difficult to do much of anything other than run, run, and run some more. Piccolo was backing me up the best he could, but his lack of a high-class weapon was really beginning to show, now that the enemies had 80k health and up. I could kill one in a second or two as required, but when there was an endless stream of them, there was nothing I could do to help the defenses. More traps went down, but we managed to hold the barricades, somehow.

Panting and trampled, we barely pulled through the 7000 monsters, to arrive at a respite tired and in physical pain. "Piccolo," I muttered, wanted to say I couldn't do it, but knowing that wouldn't be acceptable. "Let's do this. We'll kill anything that comes out of those doors." He nodded. Despite his agreement, however, he looked stressed and on-edge. Perhaps the high-stress of being a group leader was the reason his hair was white for his young appearance.

The huntress was silent from her position up top, but she too looked determined. I nodded to her in respect for her abilities – she hadn't done as much as I or Piccolo, but she was still aiding the cause. The next two waves flew by in a flurry of swords, disks, golden birds, and blood. Also probably heads, but since enemies disappear upon death, it was impossible to know.

As a prize for completing the final level, a little giraffe on a treadmill was presented to me by the powers that be. I acknowledged it for its cuteness before collapsing to the floor in a puddle of perspiration and exhaustion. Over seven hours had I fought to defend my home and I had emerged victorious along with my fellow hunter and huntress. Both of them were exhausted and the huntress quickly excused herself, needing rest. I was beyond tired myself, and could barely lift myself to leave the lab. "Just leave me here," I muttered, almost incoherently, letting my eyes close a moment, before I became aware of a moment by me. My finger flew to the trigger of my disk gun, but I realized that it was Piccolo.

"Let's at least return to my tavern," he suggested, offering his hand to me. I stared at it a moment before slowly raising my fatigued arm and grasping his hand.