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Mack

[PP-F4] Family Reunion

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The peel of a smithing hammer striking metal rang out through the crisp winter air of the fourth floor as Mack hammered ore into shape on the forge located just on the boundaries of Snowfrost Town which made it accessible to all players. The massive red-headed man slammed the hammer down time and time again on the glowing ore while his grizzly companion lounged on a straw mat next to forge, gnawing away happily on a bison bone. Beyond the borders of the tent that housed the simple blacksmith's forge a fierce snow storm had blown up, but within the tent the temperature was plenty comfortable enough. On a day like today on the fourth floor, Mack was fairly disinclined to leave the confines of his shop unless it became absolutely necessary to do so. That meant more time at the forge, longer shop hours, and that the heavy wooden tables around the shop were steadily filling with newly crafted weapons, shields, and armor.

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The first thing she noticed after the teleportation successfully transitioned her to the fourth floor was the frigid air that pressed in on her like an unwanted plague. Magda wrapped her arms over her chest as she rubbed her hands along her arms in an attempt to get warm. The blue light that surrounded her faded swiftly as she stepped out into the teleportation plaza of what could only be described as a quaint little snow covered village. Magda let out a low groan as she hopped on her feet as she often did when she sparred with someone back in the real world. Mostly out of habit but also to get her blood flowing to try and fight off some of the chill.

 

Her crimson hair billowed up with each step and her eyes held a certain intensity in them as her gaze fell across her immediate surroundings. A light layer of snow covered the street as well as the roof of every small cottage in the area. Her gaze lifted as small flakes of snow landed against her lightly tanned skin only to meld quickly. It always amazed her how this digital body could relay such sensations as heat or in this case the lack thereof. She briefly disentangled one of her arms so she could get a better look at the crumpled up flier. She carefully smoothed the paper out so she could read it. In big print along the top of the flier these words were written: “The Wanderer’s Forge”

There was a brief list of directions to the place so it wouldn’t be overly difficult to find it at least. Magda cast a meaningful look towards Michiko before she trudged off along the snow covered streets. A slight tremble passed through her body as she muttered, “Brrr… I really hate snow.” Her brow furrowed in frustration as she pondered why he had to choose such a location for a forge. Suddenly she stopped as something finally dawned on her. Madga’s shoulders dropped slightly as her body went still for the first time since her arrival upon the fourth floor… this Wintery wonderland. Where there was a forge there was fire… and where there was fire there was warmth!

 

The snow around her feet scattered everywhere as she pushed off into a dead sprint directly towards where she thought Mack’s forge would be. She had no doubt that Michiko would keep up and the town was a safe zone so she didn't see any reason to be the "over protective older sister." While she might have gotten lost once or twice along the way but when she finally found the brown tent her pace only quickened. That's when she burst through the entrance of the tent and into the area. Upon entering she narrowly missed the three tables laden with weapons, shields, and armor as she spun around on her heel. Only to push off and dash for the forge. Granted she had to skid to as top once things got a little too hot and backtrack to a comfortable distance. Her hands were held out as her eyelids drooped while the glorious heat flowed over her like a mid-summer’s breeze. “ Ahhhh ." That was the sound of pure satisfaction.

A moment later she seemed to recall where she was and ever so slowly her head tilted and her gaze sought out the familiar form of Mack. “Well hello dear brother,” her voice belied just how heated she was but her distraught nature was quickly outweighed by the fact she was just happy to see him with his eyes opened again. Even if it wasn’t his true body. The disgruntled expression she bore slowly softened as a smile played at the edges of her lips.

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[OOC: Writin' in a different tense, this may be bad :)]

The young woman's entire body felt as though a ghost had passed through her when her in-game body was teleported to the Fourth Floor of Aincrad. The warmth from the previous Town of Delilah Village was now long gone and replaced by the freezing snow that blanketed the ground, the flowers were no more. Michiko instantly regretting refusing to purchase a coat before coming here, as her equilibrium was now messed up. She didn't think it would be necessary for just a small visit to the floor, but boy was she wrong. She definitely needed something other than armor to keep her warm. In her inventory she had the game's starter coat but that flimsy excuse of a fabric did nothing to warm her body. Even so, she reluctantly threw the jacket on and crossed her arms over her chest. 

Michiko stood behind the teleporter, waiting for her older sister Magda to come. Michiko offered to go ahead to get a head start on their trip but in (virtual) reality she just didn't want to her sister to wait on her on the other side. Magda was quite the impatient character, so it was important to be on time and especially not to make her wait on you. So, Michiko's solution was to wait on her. This way neither of them could be angry really since the younger red haired player was way more lenient on time and less impatient. Like always, she attempted to be a peacemaker between the duo because that's what's worked for them these past months in Aincrad whilst on the hunt for their dumb brother that bought the game too. 

Suddenly, yet another redhead appeared from the teleporter. The sibling smiled and walked forwards with a small smile. "Mag," she began, but before she could finish the older twin sprinted off with shivers. Michiko's countenance contorted to an unpleasant one in record time as she saw her sister forget all about her and run off to fulfill her own selfish desire for warmth. She didn't linger however, she knew her sister was faster than her and if she didn't start running she wouldn't be able to follow her. 

The young girl's ponytail whipped back and forth. Her heeled boots clicked and pressed down hard in the snow while she made an attempt to catch the older sister of her's. Like she thought, the coat did absolutely nothing to insulate, or conduct, the warmth she required. When Magda turned a corner, so did she, when Her sibling sped up, so did she. This kept going until she finally ran into a building. Michiko stopped in front of the building, breathing in the cold and and reading the sign above the door. "The Wanderer's Forge?" With the flick of a finger, she put away the jacket. Then she proceeded to press her hand onto the door an push. Of course she saw Magda, she was quite tall after all. She quietly shut the door behind her and walked forward to scold her sister when she stopped abruptly. In front of her was the person whom she'd been looking for: her brother. 

"Mack!" Her eyes grew wide and her face lit up at the sight of her older brother. 

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When the leather tent flap opening that denoted the entrance to the Wandering Forge was thrown open, Chewie's ears perked up. Whoever it was that was entering the tent certainly knew her way around. She came tearing around to where the forge itself was. She was also clearly a she, which meant that opportunities to beg for food based handouts would be abundant. Scrambling to his feet, the grizzly bear cub bawled a greeting to the new person warming herself by the glowing forge, and he came tearing all the way around the forge to slam into the woman's legs at top speed. Why was she standing there? It didn't matter. Tilting his head back, he opened his mouth and directed one clawed toe down his throat, clearly demanding a food based tribute.

But then the tent flap opened again. Another female voice. Unleashing a woofling battle cry, and not waiting for Magda to feed him anything, Chewie scrambled back to his feet and went tearing across the shop again. When he saw Michiko he tried to throw on the brakes, and was partially successful. As a result, he rolled head over heels until he came to rest standing nearly on his head at Michiko's feet with his back against her legs and his head on the ground. Opening his mouth again, he repeated the one claw down the throat demand for food.

If the bear was happy to see the new people, his master was anything but.

Looking up from his work at the forge, Mack scowled at Magda. His jaw clenched and the left corner of his lip began to twitch as his bulging biceps flexed involuntarily. If he was angry to see his twin, that anger was increased ten-fold when she was followed seconds later by their little sister. And they were both level one players, which most likely meant that Michiko had gotten it into her head to come after her big brother and that she had roped her older sister, who knew next to nothing about these games, into coming along. Even though they both knew it was a death wish, something Mack had not known when he had initially logged in while on deployment.

"What are you two doing here," the blacksmith demanded through clenched, gritted teeth as Chewie continued to try and beg for handouts.

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The starter coat. That might have been wise on Magda’s part to equip rather than running through the snow like a mad woman. Then again if she knew how to interact with the menu she would have. It was a miracle that she even made it through the teleporter and if it wasn’t for the sudden chill that took to her she probably would have been pretty excited about shifting from one location to the next. All that was in the past though and here she was before that fabulous forge and just as she greeted Mack something she never would have expected happened. A grizzly bear cub came barreling towards her and before she could react she went down towards the floor. If it wasn’t for her keen reflexes she might have busted her rump on that one. She was able to break her fall and save that rump but she wasn’t able to stave off the wounded pride.


What?!” She didn’t know what else to say. What was she supposed to do? By the gesture it made she figured it wanted food but if she had any she had no way of handing it over. Before that became an issue Michiko came in and the cub ran towards her but didn’t treat her the same as it rolled to a stop at her feet. What the heck was that? Her brow furrowed as she sat up and stared at the ball of fur. Was it Mack’s pet? For some reason it just suited him so all Madga could do was shake her head. With that distraction she didn’t notice the look that settled upon Mack’s face but she totally heard it in his tone. Her shoulders tensed slightly as she slowly turned to face him. A rebellious look crossed her face while she crossed her legs and sat upon the floor. As Mack spoke the sound came out different when it flowed through clenched teeth.


She leaned forward and rested one hand on her knees. The other was thrust towards Mack as she pointed a finger at him. “Is that the first thing you want to say to us? Not oh it's so nice to see you! You came to rescue me? Just ‘What are you two doing here’.” Her gaze shifted slightly as the skin between her crimson eyebrows visibly relaxed. The agitation she possessed towards their current situation settled as she scratched the back of her neck. She wore the same plain clothes that she’d started with. A white tunic which was cinched at the waist with a brown leather belt and a pair of loose fitting black slacks. Her dark brown leather boots rose up to just below her knees.


She opened her mouth to say something else and her hand turned slightly as she angled her finger back at him. A short breath flowed into her lungs as she prepared to say the words but nothing escaped her lips. She as always the brash one and perhaps it wasn’t best that she be the one talking here. Her lips parted as she started to say it again but eventually she just let it go unsaid. Her hand lowered to rest on her other knee so that she simply sat upon the floor as a slight frown lingered within her expression. They’d taken a big risk logging in here to find him. Granted she wasn’t entirely certain that she’d thought things through before she threw on that Nerve Gear as others called it and she pondered on if she should have read the manual first.

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As usual, he was a giant to her. Michiko wasn't short or her age, but she wasn't as tall as the rest of their family- she barely looked like her siblings as well. Not only that but Mag and Mack were both just so impulsive and spur-of-the-moment, type of people while Michiko liked to think things through first. Like in this situation, she knew instantly that her brother was angry. Mack didn't want his precious sisters to die in the game, he didn't have faith that they would last very long because of the very fact that they were his family. Or at least that's what young Michiko thought. And truly she knew that as Magda spoke to him, and if Michiko tried reasoning with him, he would end up fuming and probably break something to release his anger. Nothing felt worse to her than to make any of her family upset at her; she always tried to keep things peaceful; so she would think before she acted up on the task at hand: calm Mack the frick down before he explodes. 

However, before the red haired girl could step forward and intervene in her sister's instigation, a sudden animal rolled to a halt in front of her. Actually, it was more of a failed crash landing, but it didn't cause any harm. Her eyes widened and she crouched down and fawned over the young grizzly cub- it was just so cute! Michiko's hand rubbed over the head, smoothing down and pressing lightly on it's back. It looked happy, but it was whining. She frowned, but quickly knew the solution. The cub was hungry and she could tell because one of her best friends in real life at college was studying to be an animal specialist for National Parks. "Hold on," her voice cautioned the bear to stop what it was doing. It followed her instructions as she pulled a piece of bread from her inventory. After one last pat on the head, Michiko stood up and stepped over the bear, placing her hands on Magda's shoulders.

"Mack," She began, clenching her sister's shoulders for support, "We're here because we heard you were trapped in this game. We've been looking for you this entire time- as a result our gear is not up to par. We haven't joined any guild. We've only been looking for you so I guess what Mag is trying to say is that you should be happy that we're here. You aren't alone in this dumb game, you have us." Michiko explained the best she could, making sure her voice was level.

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"Yes, that's exactly what I want to say, Magda," Mack growled through clenched teeth, his hands clenching around the edge of one of the many display tables that littered the tent covered shop space of the Wanderer's Forge while Chewie wasted no time at all in getting himself a loaf of bread from Michiko. As soon as the bread was offered Chewie clamped his teeth into it and scampered off around the forge, just in case the red-headed girl thought he was supposed to share the bread with her. Sharing? With food? Never. "Since you two are here now, you came willingly into this prison," Mack rumbled and with a violent jerk he upended a table that had been heavily laden with various shields, sending the shields flying in all directions. He was well on his way to repeating the process with a table of weapons when Michiko spoke up.

"Yes, I am trapped here, sister and if you were going to come into a death game the least you could have done is leave my newb twin out of it," Mack rumbled, rounding on the considerably shorter, and more tactful, Michiko. He quieted for a few moments as Michiko filled him in on what they had been doing in the game so far. Meanwhile, the sound of a one bear army disemboweling a loaf of bread could, quite clearly be heard from around the forge as bread crumbs were sprayed in every direction by the exuberant grizzly. "You should have left me here on my own, now I have to take care of you two. Why on earth would I be happy to have you two trapped in here with me, that makes no sense at all," Mack's dark eyes narrowed for a moment as he worked through everything that would need to be done. The girls would need a guild, they would need armor and weapons, they would need babysitting, and they would absolutely not need boyfriends. Ever.

"Well," he said at last, rolling his head around on his neck to pop it. "At least you two were smart enough to come find me first." Swiping the air in front of him, Mack quickly scrolled through menus and sent a party request to both Michiko and Magda. "We will remain permanently partied up, even when not working together. I will know where you are at all times, this is not optional." He sent the party request to both of the women. "Tap the blue button, Magda," he continued. "I will also completely equip you both. Weapons, armor, shields. Heavy armor is much better, and more forgiving, than light armor is. Magda's opted for a one handed weapon, so she gets a shield too. What weapon are you focusing on, Michiko," Mack asked, then he plowed right on without stopping. "You will also both be joining the Knights of the Blood Oath, my guild. When we're done here we will be going to speak with the Vice Commander straight away to get that all settled. It's not optional, either for you or for the Vice Commander," Mack growled dangerously, his dark eyes still flashing.

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Oh now he'd done it. He growled at her through his teeth and declared that he'd said exactly what he meant to. Her gaze lowered to his hands that were clenched around the edge of the table before she locked her eyes with his. He went on about them entering SAO as he upended the table and sent all of its contents clattering across the floor. In obvious frustration Magda's brow furrowed and her shoulders tensed as she prepared to tear into Mack for his little outburst. Which obviously meant she'd have an outburst of her own. That is until she felt her sister's hands close over her shoulders and offer them a squeeze to show her support. Michiko discussed what they'd been through. She went through the various details as to why they were in their current state. That's when Mack had to go and mess everything up. He went so far as to say that Michiko should have never brought Magda here in the first place. Did that mean he was ok with their little sister being here but not her? That thought sent a spike of despair through her like an arrow poised to strike her heart.

The expression her face bore up to that point had been the feisty one she was always known for. Slowly though it transitioned into one that was a little difficult to read before sorrow started to seep through and mar her expression. She stood there silently as she listened to everything Mack had to say. She had to fight just to keep her bright eyes clear and prevent the tears that lurked just on a few seconds away from streaming down her face. She didn't like to let people see her when she felt like crying. It wasn't often but Mack's words had a  bitter bite to them that stung her deeper than any chill could have possible accomplished. Slowly her hand lifted up to rest upon her sister's and she offered her a slight squeeze to show her appreciation for the gesture she'd given. While Magda was big and strong even giants had their tender moments and Mack had seen fit to tear into her so soundly it had left a weeping wound within the pit of her stomach.

He continued on his little tangent about how they'd have to be watched over constantly and how they'd have to join a guild and get better equipment so that they'd survive. Slowly her chin dipped as her gaze lowered to the floor. What was she doing? A torrent of emotions warred within her body as each one fought for the right to be expressed. Once Mack had finished talking she turned away from him and looked down at Michiko. There was a forced smile there and hints of the sorrow she felt marred her expression. However, beneath it all was that same heated emotion that seemed to be ever so present in their brother. Madga suddenly wheeled around on their brother and reached out to place one hand on the edge of the table closest to them. "Is that so?!" She explained hysterically when he demanded that she hit the blue button. At first she was going to ask what he was talking about but the small window appeared before her and she pressed it without thinking. She smirked at him as her bright eyes narrowed. "Oh so that means we will know where you are at all times to? Good that means we can keep you out of trouble as well!" With that she just flipped the table for good measure and she had to admit it felt rather refreshing to vent that pent up aggression that flared up within her now that she took a moment to really think on the situation.

She was sad about her brother's condition but the fact that he seemed to so easily dismiss her just infuriated the heck out of her. One demand after another. It was enough to push her just to the brink of the precipice that would result in a scuffle here. Though it was clearly a scuffle she wouldn't win. "Oh? So you think you can just force us to do this things?" She leered at him as she took a step closer despite the hold Michiko had on her shoulders. "And just how do you plan to do that?"

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