Title: Game Playing
Author: Kacey aka Aphreal
Summary: Langly has a problem and someone has a secret...
Disclaimer: "The Lone Gunmen" and it's characters are owned/created
by Chris Carter, 1013 Studios, and Fox, they have been used without
permission. If Cyberwars is a real game my apologies it was just the
first thing I thought of for the purpose of this fanfic. I'm not
referring to any real game.
* * * *
"Oh no! I don't believe it!" Langly cried out almost painfully at the
sound of explosions and corresponding flashes on his screen. "I don't
get it, I can't beat this guy."
"Feeling inadequate hippie?" Frohike teased. "Can't your ego handle
the fact that even a geek like you can get his punk ass kicked by a
nine year old from Kentucky."
"He's not a nine year old from Kentucky," Langly replied spinning
around on his chair. "I did some research, whoever this guy is he's
"What makes you think it's a guy? How do you know it isn't a chick
who's kicking your but?"
"I traced him, called the place, it's got to be a guy."
"You traced him and you called the place? You're not just paranoid
you're a flaming stalker."
"I just wanted to know what I was up against okay. I haven't seen the
guy, but the most probable suspect is a white male in his thirties,
tall, thin, dark hair."
"It's really eating you isn't it?"
"That you can't win. That you just keep trying and getting your ass
"No, I've lost before. I've played hundreds of computer games over
the net, I'm good but I've been beaten before."
"But you designed this lame game. Even the stupid name-"
"It's not stupid-"
"That's what eats you. Someone else is better at playing your game.
Your game. You're such a loser."
"Am not," Langly replied lamely. "Okay so I suck at my own game. But
I don't get how he's so good. If he's so good with computers how come
he's using net cafes? How many super nerds do you know that don't
have their own net connection? I mean it's one thing to live life
without an ISDN but no ISP? You've got to be kidding."
"And another thing, this guy, he's been to net cafes all over the
city. How come he doesn't go anywhere regular? He doesn't use any
sort of contact details, I've never seen any sort of ID - email,
messenger, anything. All of our matches are arranged via a forum.
It's like he doesn't want to be found."
"Does this protégé have a screen name?"
"Yeah get this, it's Joe B. Syrhn. What sort of name is that?"
"So I tried to see if there was anyone else anywhere called Joe B
Syrhn. Not one."
"So it's an alias."
"One he doesn't use anywhere else."
"Doesn't it.. get to you? Doesn't it make you wonder why? What if
it's all just a set up. Maybe he's trying to distract me?"
Langly sighed, tapping the desk. "I'm telling you man there's
something weird about this."
"Yeah, sure. But why don't you do some actual work for a change? We
still have an edition to put out and believe it or not the world
doesn't want to read about you and your stupid little game. Where's
Byers?" Frohike looked around in frustration.
Langly shrugged. "He said he had to get something."
* * * *
John Byers checked his watch. Time to go home. He was still surprised
that Langly hadn't picked up on the fact that he was never around
when his "matches" too place. It was silly really, John had never
been one for computer games, not like Langly. But.. it was just too
much fun watching Langly's growing frustration as a mysterious
competitor beat him at his own game, literally.
* * * *
Byers returned without a word as to why he'd gone out.
"Where were you?" Frohike asked as he arrived.
"I wanted to talk to someone about some hardware they were
advertising. I thought it might be worth taking a look."
"Why didn't you say anything? I could have gone with you."
"It was an old friend, I thought I'd handle it on my own, and besides
it was more a chance to pick the corporate grapevine for news." He
tried not to give anything away. He was painfully aware of the fact
that he was a bad liar. That was one of the reasons he was so
surprised he'd managed to keep his secret for so long.
"Anything juicy?" Langly asked joining them.
Byers shook his head. "Nothing they're talking about anyway." He
paused, and then without a hint of guilt or humor he casually
asked, "So how'd the match go? You were playing.. what was it?"
"He got his ass kicked," Frohike supplied. "It's driving him mad.
He's practically stalking the guy."
"You are?" Byers asked in surprise.
"I just did a little background checking."
"And?" he asked in interest.
Langly related his findings as he'd told Frohike earlier.
"Well it appears that it will remain a mystery," Byers remarked. "But
don't let it get to you."
Langly rolled his eyes. "It's easy for you to say that."
Langly walked off in a huff, glaring at his computer and hitting
typing someone harder than usual as we went back to work.
Frohike grinned a smug grin as he watched his friend's
frustration. "It's driving him crazy," he remarked sadistically.
Byers smiled but didn't say anything.
* * * *
"I've decided I'm going to do it. I'm going to find the guy. It's the
only way I'll ever now for sure that this isn't really something
sinister," Langly announced at breakfast the next morning.
Byers nearly choked on his cherrios. "You are?" he asked.
"It'll be easy enough, all I have to do is set up a match for
tomorrow, you and Frohike can trace him and track him down while I'm
keeping him occupied."
"Uh, are you sure that's going to work?" Byers asked. "What if we
can't get there in time?"
"The shortest matches are half an hour, it's usually closer to an
hour, and if I should be able to spin it out to two if you really
need the time."
"And who says we'll be a party to this invasion of privacy?" Frohike
"Common Fro' since when haven't you been a party to an invasion of
privacy? You'll be in on it won't you? Just so I can forget about it
and get back to doing some real work?"
"That'd make a change," Frohike remarked dryly. "Okay if it'll shut
you up I'll do it. But if this guy turns out to be some sort of
government agent and bags the keys to the secret government testing
lab," he joked.. or at least he sounded like he might be joking,
sometimes it was hard to tell.
"Sure man. How about you Byers? You gonna do a favor for your old
friend Ringo?" he gave Byers his best pleading look.
Byers shifted uncomfortably. "Uh sure."
"Cool. I knew you guys be down for this."
* * * *
"I don't get it. He must have sprung us, but how? I don't get it!"
"What's do you get?" Frohike replied.
"He's quit," Langly explained. "It says it right here. 'Sorry I have
decided to retire from the game. I remain undefeated and there
challenge is no longer satisfactory to warrant my continued
involvement. Thank you for your competition and for designing the
game. Regards, Joe B. Syrhn' I'm never even going to know who he is?"
"And you're never going to beat him," Frohike remarked with a some
"As far as I know he could be a serial killer or a psychopath and he
beat me at my own game."
"He's have to be a psychopath to waste his time playing that stupid
game," Frohike replied.
"It's not-" Langly began. "Just because you can't play it doesn't
mean it sucks."
"No, but you play it and you still suck. And I never said I couldn't
play it, I just never tried. "
"Because you don't want to get your wrinkly old ass beaten," Langly
"Like you did huh hippie?"
"What worries me is that this guy's a computer gamer and you still
can't track him down. Sure you've got locations, a description even,
but you never even found out his real name. You really must be losing
"I'm not losing noting," Langly replied. "I'm going to work it out.
I'm going to find his name just to prove you wrong."
"And how are you going to do that boy?"
Langly shrugged, "I'll find away."
"Give me five minutes and I bet I can find it," Frohike dared him.
"Five minutes? You've got to be joking, what do you know that I don't
"I know that most whiz kids like yourself are smart assess. The
name's probably an anagram."
"Then what is it?" Langly stared at the letters. "Herb something
"Don't ask me," Frohike replied. "Type it into that acronym site, see
what it comes up with?"
"Oh yeah," Langly replied. "I've got the URL around here somewhere,"
a fury a typing and clicking followed. "Here we go."
Langly blinked. He couldn't believe it. No way. "Byers!" he yelled.
John cringed slightly. "What?" he asked innocently.
"This is so weird," Langly explained. "Whoever he is he must now your
"Maybe he tracked me here and though you were the gamer he was
playing? But why would he do that?"
"I don't get it," Langly exclaimed again and sighed in
frustration. "What is this guy's dangerous? What if he's playing with
our heads for a reason? What if it's all part of his master plan?"
"I really don't think-" Byers began.
"What is this is really a warning. What if he's trying to tell me
that you're in danger?"
"I don't think-"
"Langly it was me," Byers admitted at last.
"What if-" Langly began but then he stopped short, replaying Byer's
last words over in his mind. No that wasn't possible.
"It was me," Byers admitted again. Langly looked shocked, betrayed
even. "I'm sorry, it was stupid, I just.. I thought it would be fun,
and then when you got so worked up about it.. I'm really sorry."
"You?" Langly asked. "You did all of this?"
Byers nodded sadly. "I understand if you're mad-"
Langly sighed and shrugged. "It's okay man. I'm impressed." He
suddenly broke out into a grin, "I guess this means you liked my game
Byers smiled. "Yeah it's good," he said more to please his friend
than anything else.
"Frankly I'm stunned," Frohike remarked. "I wouldn't have thought you
had it in your John." He paused. "I though Langly was the only one in
this house stupid enough to spend so much time playing that stupid
Byers smiled despite the insult. He'd had his fun and now that the
secret was out he had to admit he was relieved to have the weight
lifted of his shoulders. It might be fun to have a laugh - albeit
quietly and to himself - at his friends at times, but in the long run
he respected them too much to want to hurt them, and he wasn't any
good at keeping secrets or lying - expect perhaps this one time. He's
expected Langly or Frohike to work it out much sooner than they had
and then he'd just kept putting off confessing, figuring it wouldn't
hurt to keep them guessing.
"So do you want a rematch?" Langly asked.
Byers sighed to himself. 'I've created a monster,' he thought. That
was on consequence that he hadn't foreseen. "But I posted-" he began
"But that was only because you knew you'd get caught. Now that I know
who you are we can play whenever we want."
Suddenly Byers felt like Karma was biting him on the ass. Oh well, he
thought, the sooner he gave in and lost a game the sooner he'd be
able to retire from Cyberwars once and for all. Game playing wasn't
really his thing, they could never hold his attention.
* * * *