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Willow dove to the side as she threw another bolt at Daryl, trying to at least get him to move back.

[You hit Daryl for 226 damage]

Her attacks were hitting him, but they didn’t do much damage at all, at least not to his HP. This guy had inflated his HP to far above normal, there was no way that he’d have this much HP when he was just level 45. There was no way, especially not since he was a squishy mage, like her.

[Violet hit Daryl for 312 damage]

[Sage hit Topaz for 174 damage]

[Juniper hit Topaz for 304 damage]

They kept moving, never standing still, always making sure that they got out of the way of whatever could harm them.

This was no way to play this game. This was no fun. Diving away or death really wasn’t a fun game type. They were just four DPS classes, no real healer, no melee character who could tank for them. Just four DPS classes of which two were actually pet classes too, so their damage output was already low…

[You hit Daryl for 221 damage]

“You’re not going to win this.” Daryl shot another range of attacks their way, some %Elementalbolts, quickly followed by a fiery blaze, and they all got out of range of them as quickly as they could. Luckily, they had a good amount of experience fighting raid monsters in DoE, so they were pretty quick on their feet if needed. “There is no rule against having a system in place about who can and cannot play my game, they can just play another game.”

“It is a problem when it destroys people’s whole BASE account. When it corrupts all their data.” Violet shot a volley of arrows at Daryl as she shouted at him.

[Violet hit Daryl for 342 damage]

“You’re exaggerating. The system simply makes sure that people who play this game are at least contributing to society, it just locks the rest out. That’s all.” As he was verbally fighting Violet, Sage and Juniper could get some good attacks in and Daryl stumbled back from the attacks. “See? This is what you get when you cater to snowflakes. Everything is the end of the world for you.”

Did he really not know what his game was doing? What the system was doing to accounts? He really seemed to have no clue, the way he was self-righteously arguing them. He may have stupid ideas about who was supposed to play his game, but he didn’t seem to be wanting to actually ruin people. Sadly enough, that was exactly what his game was doing, though.

“And if a few more games would put this in place, even better. Gaming is a privilege, not a right. If you can’t work, maybe you shouldn’t be playing games all the time either, but do something else useful with your time instead.” He shot a new round of attacks at them, and Violet was able to hold her bow up in front of her so it wouldn’t hit her, but the bow disappeared into nothing and Violet quickly pulled her hand back.

Uh, oh.

She glanced up.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:22:43]

No. They couldn’t argue with his man, not anymore. Maybe if they were in the outside world they still could. But in here… In here they were running out of time and he could ruin their lives with a single reckless attack. On top of that, he seemed to have no idea about the real damage that his game was doing.

Willow had to start taking chances, because they were quickly running out of options.

Meadow: Get him away from the platforms, get him as far away as possible.

From the corner of her eyes, she saw another attack coming her way, it was too close to dive away so she pulled the big shield up. Which, after absorbing the bolt, also disappeared from her attacks in the bar. She was now out of shielding options. Not good.

Meadow: We need to buy time so we can get to the monitors and fix the code.

They had to make sure he didn’t destroy more of the station, because they couldn’t do anything without it, even though Daryl could probably fairly easily replace it after they were gone… But after it was gone, they’d be out of options…

That was not a good thought.

She moved her hand up, engulfing Daryl in her lava AOE, which seemed to make casting harder for him, the constant stream of low damage interrupting his actions. Good.

As she watched his HP, it was finally starting to move down a tad, even ever so slowly starting to not be totally full anymore. This wasn’t going to be easy, they already knew that, but at least it may actually be possible.

Violet kept throwing knives at Daryl, since she knew that getting close to him would be a bad idea.

How were they going to defeat him without getting wiped themselves?

They didn’t have much time left, the clock above them kept reminding them of that fact, slowly ticking down, as time tended to do, but way faster than Willow was comfortable with.

They had to do something serious, something radical. They had to find a way to get away from Daryl long enough to come up with a plan.

Willow tugged on Violet’s arm, pulling her along to the back of the spire, as Daryl’s attacks kept flying around them. At least they had one advantage, Daryl didn’t seem like the best shot… Most of his attacks were sloppy.

“What’s the plan?” Violet took a couple of deep breaths, looking back over her shoulder, at the attacks that were still coming.

“We need to get to a computer. We have to.” Willow looked the other way, hoping that Sage and Juniper could also make their way over to them. Hoping to find some safety for even a little while.

Then Sage came into view, Juniper close behind, but closely behind her was Daryl’s dragon.

It opened its mouth and was about to use a flamethrower on Juniper when Violet sprinted away from behind Willow, her blade out and she cut open the dragon’s throat. One slice, right over the jugular, and the next moment it fell down at Violet’s feet.

[Critical hit!]

[Violet hit Topaz for 1500 damage]

That was one down. Willow had expected that the dragon would also have inflated HP, but maybe it couldn’t do much against an attack like this?

But as Violet stood up, ready to get back to them, Willow watched as four bolts came right at her.

She watched as Violet realised what was going on, trying to get out of the way of them, but it was too late. She was able to avoid two of the bolts, but the final two hit her both.

Violet’s body started to go putty, the colour draining, her character being reduced to a blob. A black blob while Topaz’ body fell apart in light sparkles, a normal death of a fylgja.

They’d lost Violet.

They’d lost Violet because she protected Juniper.

Now they were down to the last three players. And any attack from Daryl that hit them could get them down even further. They may be outnumbering him in pure numbers, but the man was like a god here while they were mere ants.

Willow looked at Sage, met their eyes, and then they both looked at Juniper. How were they going to do this?

“You have to get to the monitors.” Sage’s voice was rushed.

“You’re the one who knows what the code looks like. I can’t do this myself.” Willow shook her head.

“You can. That’s why Soleil believed that you could do this.” Sage looked at her seriously. “You have to.”

“Incoming.” Juniper pushed them to move and they started running to the other side, out of the range of Daryl’s attacks again. “Keep moving.” Juniper kept pushing them.

Willow looked behind her and Daryl definitely didn’t look so happy anymore, not now they’d taken out his pet.

“Willow, hide there. We will distract him!” Sage pointed at some computer parts that were at the side of the spire. “Hide.”

“How?” Daryl would see her move there immediately.

Sage flung something behind them and then a lot of smoke billowed up. Sage apparently had an interesting AOE attack, they hadn’t shown it before, but it also wouldn’t have been that useful in normal fights, not when they had a whole group of people who were attacking the same creature. Now was a great time for it though.

Willow could barely see enough herself, but that didn’t matter, she knew the general direction she had to go and walked as fast as she dared. She just had to find the computers.

When she ducked down, the smoke had started to come down and she saw that Sage and Juniper had kept running ahead, now much further away. Daryl stopped for a moment, looking around, probably trying to find her, but Sage and Juniper were able to distract him by attacking him. He may have a lot of HP but getting hit was still annoying for him and he probably didn’t want to accidentally lose to them either.

Willow looked on for a few moments, hoping that Daryl wouldn’t notice that Willow was somewhere totally different, but he seemed distracted enough.

Then she slowly crawled to the computers, trying to find one with a monitor that hadn’t been damaged. It took a few tries, but then she found one that responded when she hit a few keys.

She quickly looked behind her, but Daryl was still distracted.

Willow types a few keywords, trying to figure out where she was supposed to be looking for the files, but nothing seemed immediately obvious.

She glanced up to at the timer, the red light a constant reminder of its existence.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:10:36]

They were running out of time.

She tried to remember what Sage had shown her before, what part of the code that it had been in, but it didn’t come to her easily. Damn.

“Willow!” That was Sage’s voice and, as she quickly ducked down, the screen above her shattered into a million pieces.

It seemed that Daryl had also noticed what she was doing… There went that plan.

“You’re going to keep trying?” Daryl’s voice sounded amused for some reason. Like this really didn’t influence him at all, like he really was in the right.

“Of course.” Willow looked past the small wall of computer parts that she was hiding behind, and then threw an attack at Daryl. It didn’t hit him, but it at least made him move and that gave Sage and Juniper more time to attack him.

Now they were split up, Sage and Juniper on one side and Willow on the other side of Daryl. Which they could use to their advantage, but it also meant that Willow wasn’t so safe behind her wall now.

They should really have come up with a plan before they came in here. But since they had no idea what they could expect or what was going to happen, they just went in… No plan, nothing. That may be biting their ass now.

Violet was the one who had the better plans, not her. Violet and Sage were the real strategic planners, Willow just did the numbers, she just worked out the best way to optimise the plans that the others came up with.

Smoke started flowing around her and while Willow couldn’t see anything, which was good. She ran along the row of computers, staying as low as possible. Above her head, more monitors blew up, Daryl obviously realising their plan… But he couldn’t see her, so he just threw the attacks since destroying the computers was of no consequence to him.

When the smoke cleared, Sage and Juniper had moved back too, and Willow was now standing near where they’d come onto the platform.

Daryl was now closest to the computers and she could see the way he looked at them. If he could destroy the computers, they wouldn’t be able to do anything anymore…

She could see the moment Daryl realised that too, that if he destroyed all the computers, this would be over anyway.

A surprised yell leaving her. No way!

No way!

All three of them reacted at the same time as they rushed to Daryl, trying to throw as many attacks at him as they could.

Daryl split his four bolts up, one to the computers and three at them.

They were able to avoid the bolts, but just barely, and Sage lost their staff, which they quickly dropped.

Another set of computers blew up. If this took much longer, they wouldn’t be able to fix anything, nothing. Everything would be over.

The red numbers taunted them.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:04:44]

Then, as Willow used another AoE on Daryl, Juniper jumped forward, one of her knives in her hand, and she pushed him over, jabbing the blade into his chest, pushing on as he hit the floor.

[Critical hit!]

[Juniper hit Daryl for 1648 damage]

It wasn’t much damage in comparison to his HP, but with the blade still inside him, it didn’t stop there, the bar now steadily draining.

Daryl froze for a moment, stunned. Then he struggled, letting out another bolt into Juniper’s chest, her form starting to dissolve.

She knew it would cost her her life, but she’d still done it. She’d still gotten close.

But that was all he could do to Juniper, as his HP was starting to get critically low, between the blade and the fire AOE, they were starting to go good damage.

He must have realised it too because in a last attempt, Daryl shot out more bolts towards the computers, trying to destroy them, trying to stop them one last time.

Sage jumped in front of the bolts, protecting the computers.

No! No way!

But as Daryl’s form fizzled away, like a regular character death, not getting blitzed like the rest of them, the attacks on Sage also dissolved. And while Sage’s code started glitching, weird visual artifacts sprouting from them, they were still here.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:02:09]

“Go!” Sage pointed to the computers and Willow ran for them, trying each keyboard she found, trying to get one of the screens to light up.

Then, as the final computer finally lit up, she let out a sigh of relief.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:01:33]

She looked at Sage, but they held out their hands, the forms of it constantly glitching. No help there.

She needed the code that compared the BASE IDs against the official system. After a few tries, she found the entry under ‘Account viability’.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:00:54]

Willow checked the piece of code she needed, trying to decide how to disable just a small piece of it, how to get the one bad bit out. But as the time kept ticking away, she did the one thing she could think to do.

She selected the whole piece of code and deleted it. All gone.

If the game errored because of it, that would be fine, but she had no time to put a good piece of code in place. The whole formula that compared the systems and would throw the ‘tag this person’ error up for blitzing was now gone.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:00:15]

She had no idea what would happen next.

She looked at Sage, who was staring at her, their eyes filled with relief and fear. Then she wrapped her arms around them.

[Time until Helheim Fallen Online goes live 00:00:00]

And the game went dark.

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