((No relation to similarly-named anime! I thought it would be fun to mess around with a virtual reality gamer/hacker setting. "Log in" and kick someone's ass. Eat their heart drive to gain their power!!)) Edward stared at his glowing screen, tapping his foot impatiently as he finished his cup ramen with a satisfying slurp. "Come on, come on." Finally, the pixelated castle displayed on his laptop lowered it's drawbridge with a tinny MIDI fanfare, and the screen began to flood with lines of numbers. Edward tapped in a shorthand command and watched as his programs went to work solving the barrage of mathematical puzzles that ensured only the finest hackers could dare to play this game. Cracking his knuckles, he tossed his noodle cup onto a small snowdrift of similar trash and began digging around for his electrodes. He found the small copper discs and held them in his hand, hesitating for a moment. This game was nothing to play lightly. These electrodes, once attached to his head, bound him in a grim contract. Should he die in the other world, they would route the full force of his household A/C outlets through his brain, leaving his body to decay and his humming hard drives of carefully scripted programs to be picked over and looted by his killer. He licked each copper disc and stuck them carefully to his temples. Inhaling slowly, he let his consciousness slip away, and by the time he exhaled, the cracking walls of his apartment had transformed into a craggy landscape of melted rock, rendered in garish oversaturated hues. Quickly he dashed for the cover of one jagged shard of rock, looking around him for signs of other players. His fingers punched at an invisible set of keys as he summoned his basic inventory. shortsword.exe...scalemail.exe... With a hint of a prideful grin he selected his newly-created pride and joy: crossbow.corrosive.exe. As the smooth ironwood stock iterated into existence, he double checked the mechanism, then thumbed a switch to ready a bolt. The projectile slotted into place, tipped with what looked like a large green marble. He rounded on another spire of rock and squeezed the trigger, launching the short bolt into the stone. Upon impact, the green head smashed open and left a tennis-ball sized gouge of melting rock hissing and spitting with digital acid. Edward grinned and jogged off toward the horizon, where flares of magic power and arcing arrows of light showed that the world has begun to fill up and the first fights of the night had ensued. He made a mental note to keep his eyes open for a solid melee weapon and loot the owner as soon as he could.