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214 Never without my permission!

 "Caitlin! What are you doing here?" Jenny asked nervously.

"Nunya business. Did you have a reason for accusing Dave, or were you just running your gobhole again?"

"Why do you care, who is he to you?"

"He's a family associate, insulting him is an insult to us," said Caitlin.

Dave shot a glance at Caitlin.

'Say what! An associate? Since when?'

Jenny forced a smile, "I- it was just a joke, Caitlin. We met at a club through Zoe a while ago, he didn't say he was with the Giovannis."

"You'll comp his tab for the night to make up for your trash behavior."

Caitlin turned to Douche-Guy "What about you. You accused him of being a thief too. Apologize."

The man snorted, "Fuck you! Who do you think you are?"

"Yeah, mind your own business, this is a private conversation between friends," Anna said icily.

Jenny backed away from the couple and shook her head slightly but vigorously, mouthing 'no' in warning to Anna.

"David," said Caitlin.


"They your friends?" she asked


Caitlin nodded, "Good. You, bigmouth. Tell me who you are."

"Jonathan Webb, I'm the newly appointed leader of the Ogma Clan, a Devastators sub-guild.," he replied with a smug look on his face. Anna smirked.

Ralph leaned in to Dave and said, "I remember this guy now, he's a real dumbshit. Led a bunch of parties that got wiped too many times, never took responsibility. So they 'promoted' him sideways to a desk job."

Dave shrugged. He was grateful to Ralph for trying to get him into the Devastators, but he didn't want to be the cause of any trouble between Ralph and his guildmates.

A voice interrupted the confrontation.

"Davey, Ralph- Cait, you're here too! You guys look like you're"

Dave looked past Douche-guy and saw Zoe there, holding three shot glasses.

Zoe pushed past Douche-Guy and handed Dave and Ralph their glasses then draped herself on Dave's arm like an overly attached girlfriend. Anna grimaced when she saw the girl hanging on Dave like a fangirl on a rockstar.

"I'm sorry Caity, I didn't know you were here or I would have brought you a shot too."

Zoe spotted her frenemy, "Ohh Jenny, you're here too...and alone again?"

"Hi Zoe, I was just leaving. I only came over to say 'hi' to your nice friend."

"Well run along then. Maybe you can find a someone who will hang out with you." Zoe smiled sweetly at the blonde.

"Uh, yes, thanks, Zoe," said Jenny then left hurriedly.

"Caitlin, how is your family?" Zoe asked.

"They're great," said Caitlin, her gaze not moving away from Douche-Guy.

"What's wrong?"

"This guy...what's your name again?" Caitlin turned back to Douche-Guy.

"Jonathan WEBB," he said, emphasizing his last name.

"John-boy here, told everyone Dave stole the suit he is wearing."

Zoe frowned and said, "I was with him when he bought it at Giorgio Armani's."

Dave was pissed, Anna and her Douche-Guy fiance kept pushing his buttons and insulting his friends.

Zoe tightened her grip on his arm, "Ignore them, Dave, 'Don't wrestle with pigs, all you'll get is filthy and the pigs will enjoy it,' let's just leave."

Dave and his friends turned and walked away, leaving the nasty couple seething at being called pigs then ignored and dismissed as nonentities. Anna turned to her fiance and started talking to him intensely, he didn't look like he was enjoying it.

"So, who is this ultra-babe with the danger vibe?" Ralph asked, looking at Caitlin.

Zoe started to answer, "This is Caitlin Giovanni-"

"Nice to meetcha, Caitlin," Ralph said as he went in for a hug. But Caitlin stopped his advance with a hand to his chest and a short choppy punch to his diaphragm. Ralph gasped, wheezed, and hunched over.

"Never without my permission!" Caitlin said, her eyes flashing.

Zoe snickered at Ralph.

"Let's grab a seat."

Dave and Caitlin followed her as Ralph staggered to the bar and leaned against it, hunched over and rubbing his stomach.

"I think I'm in love," Ralph wheezed.

Still sitting on her stool, Vanessa giggled at his antics.

"Ugh, I'm okay now, let's go join them," Ralph said to her, his breath mostly recovered.

"I think I'll just stay here," she answered with a sad smile.

Ralph patted her shoulder sympathetically, "You know, I had to do a lot of talking to get Dave to come here tonight. Don't let him get away like you did in high-school."

Vanessa looked at him quickly, a flush rising to her cheeks, "You knew?"

"Everyone knew, except Dave. He's really dense about some things."

"He has a girlfriend," Vanessa said.

"Zoe isn't his girlfriend," Ralph said. "He told me that himself. I think she is just a good friend. You still have a chance."

"It's an awkward situation," said Vanessa.

"Let's just see how things go, who knows?" Ralph said.

They followed after Dave and the other two women who'd gone into one of the private alcoves. The room was secluded and less noisy then the bar area, with a table and comfortable cushioned-chairs to lounge in.

"Ladies, this is Vanessa, a friend of ours from high school," Ralph said to Zoe and Caitlin.

Ralph dropped into the seat next to Dave which left Vaness the chair next to the girls. Ralph fiddled with the table menu and ordered drinks for everyone.

Dave leaned in toward Ralph and said, "What are you doing, man?"

Ralph smirked back, "Sit back bro, get ready to enjoy the show."

Zoe snickered, "And here I thought this was going to be another boring class reunion. What was that all about and who was the yucky couple?"

"It's a high school reunion, a lot of people don't grow-up, they just become pretentious twats," Ralph said.

"I'll tell you about them later," Dave added.

Ralph looked at Zoe, "So how do you and Dave know each other?"

"We met in Conquest," Dave interrupted.

Zoe added "And Caitlin is-"

"Mercy, the top assassin in Conquest, right?" Ralph interrupted.

Caitlin looked at Ralph in surprise.

"How did you know that?"

Sprawled in his seat like a sleepy lion, Ralph shrugged carelessly, "I have an eye for the babes and your avatar looks just like you."

"So the four of us play Conquest, What about you Vanessa?""

"I play too," Vanessa replied.

"Hm, so all five of us are players," Ralph said meaningfully. Five was the ideal party size in Conquest.

"What's your level?" Ralph asked Caitlin.

Caitlin looked at him consideringly before answering.


"Nice. Obviously you have the highest level of this group," Ralph said.

Caitlin shrugged.

"What about you Vanessa?"

"I'm a priestess, level 210, I don't get to play a lot with work and all, but I love it."

Ralph nodded, "What about you Zoe?"


"Not bad, I'm level 411. I guess you're low-man on the totem pole, Dave."

"You guess wrong."

"What level are you?"


"No way!"

"Seriously. I was lucky, got a chain quest and leveled quickly."

"I'll say. Really lucky!" Zoe piped up.

Ralph laughed, "Damn, and here I was going to ask this group of ladies to help level you up to 200 to meet the Devastators minimum. You're way past that."

"Dave has done great on his own," Zoe said, smiling. "But since you are being so nice I could really use some help!"

"Sure! I have some time, at least until the Eastern region Conquest starts. What about you Caitlin, want to help level up these noobs? I'm sure you're busy with contracts and kill orders to prepare for the invasion, but you could still tag along," Ralph said with a grin.

"I don't do dungeons or EXP parties. Hits and contracts, that's it."

"C'mon, Caitlin, it'll be fun," Zoe pouted.

"I'll think about it," Caitlin said.

"Okay, what's everyone's player name?" Ralph pulled out his phone.

Vanessa spoke first, "I'm Dementi."

"Okay." He sent Vanessa a friend request on the Conquest app.

"Dave...Dave! What's your player name?"

"Death Stroke," he finally answered reluctantly.

Dave looked at Caitlin and shook his head slightly, she shrugged understanding his wishes. He didn't want his Death Stroke character to be linked with his Mr. Skeletal identity.

"Ha! I should have known, you always use that."

The door to the alcove opened, and a man came in carrying a tray of drinks.

Ralph smiled, "I added Mercy, what about you Zoe?"

Zoe smiled, "Lone Arrow."

Overhearing Zoe's Conquest name, the waiter snapped around to look at her, almost dropping the tray of drinks on everyone.

"You're Lone Arrow, THE Lone Arrow?!" Ralph was equally shocked.

"Yeah," Zoe smiled.