We’re back again to share the next installation of a StarCraft inspired short story by resident TApro Captain and writing enthusiast Jay “Raze” Whipple.

Michael stepped off the boarding ramp, and found himself in Katowice International Airport. He yawned loudly, looking for Tommy’s shock of brown hair amongst the crowd. Marissa stepped up next to him and arced an eyebrow.

out site “Fourteen hours of sleep wasn’t enough for you?”

Michael frowned. “What? Oh. I couldn’t fall asleep.” The flight hadn’t been bad at all. The tournament organizers paid for him and Tommy to fly first class, so he had watched movies the whole time. Marissa’s parents made her pay for her own ticket, so she had flown coach. She slid a hand onto his arm, and he became acutely aware of her touch.

“Don’t tell me you’re scared of flying!” she exclaimed as she pushed him lightly.

buy it “No—well, I don’t think so—it was only my second time on a plane. I’m just not used to it or something.”

Tommy came into view, carting two large paper bags. He waved from across the terminal, grinning from behind a wall of freckles. He tossed them each a silver-wrapped bundle, and opened one himself. Marissa laughed, and then shook her head at her twin brother.

“…Cheeseburgers? We go to Poland, and you get cheeseburgers?

“Well, I mean” Tommy said, in between fervent bites, “this isn’t exactly the exotic food capital of the world. And its mom’s money, not yours, so stop complaining.”

Marissa rolled her soft brown eyes. “You could have at least gotten pierogis or something.”

Tommy scoffed. “Yes, because I’m sure airport food is a great way for us to indulge in local cuisine.” He sometimes got self-righteous about his meals, more so than perhaps a high schooler should.

On the walk to the hotel, Michael half-listened to an argument between Tommy and Marissa about if Katowice was as “authentic” as other European cities. In the four months since he’d transferred to Tobias Franklin Preparatory school, the twins had never had a civil conversation.

For the whole walk, Michael was fixated on the contents of his backpack. A used mechanical keyboard with the Windows key removed, a gaming laptop, and a new mouse. Without them he wasn’t himself, just some charade that pretended to care about his real life.

Half an hour later, the Central Katowice Hotel came into view. It rose into the sky like some slate-gray modern monolith, conspicuously out-of-place among the quaint brick houses.

Tommy misinterpreted his expression and grinned. “If you think this is impressive, wait until we go to Spodek tomorrow.”

Michael opened the door to a surprisingly crowded lobby. Marissa walked over to the receptionist, and Michael and Tommy looked around. A large group of maybe thirty twenty-year-olds sat around the theater-size TV screen with baited breath. Virtual counter-terrorists rushed in to defuse the bomb, and succeeded moments before detonation. Several people in the audience jumped up in elation, while most groaned.

Michael wandered over; it had been awhile since he’d watched a Counterstrike tournament. He sat in an empty folding chair at the fringe of the crowd and tried to figure out who was playing. The slightly overweight, bearded man to his right looked over with a drunken grin.

“You enjoying the finals, dude?”

“Actually, I just got here.” Michael replied sheepishly. “I’m playing in the Starcraft tournament tomorrow.”

“That’s great man, that’s really cool. I just love all those card games.” Michael cringed. Starcraft was far from the largest e-sport, but it had enough of a legacy for most gamers to at least know its correct genre.

Someone touched Michael’s shoulder, and he looked back to see Marissa’s tired smile. The soft light made her slender body and wavy black hair all the more beautiful.

“Hey, let’s go get some sleep. The next two days are gonna be long.” Michael tried to protest, but ended up yawning instead.

Tommy was across the room talking to a huge guy in a jersey who looked maybe thirty.

readme “Yo, Michael, this is ThalareN, the Protoss player that’s been on NyM forever.” The Ukranian gave them an earnest smile.

“Please, just call me Nico.” He spoke with a light accent. “And who would you be?”

Tommy rushed to answer. “This is my friend Michael—he calls himself Shade ‘cuz he playing him drains all the life out of you—” Michael snorted and Nico laughed in a way that shook his whole body. “—and this is my twin, Marissa.”

Nico bowed and kissed Marissa’s hand. She giggled, doing her best to curtsy in jeans. He turned back to Michael and frowned, oblivious to the momentary pang of jealousy the blonde-haired boy had felt.

“I thought Shade was another one of Cain’s accounts, no? Your builds and playstyle are all the same.”

Tommy grinned. “He paid Cain $100 for a bunch of replays last year, and now there are two people in the world who play forty minute games whenever they can.”

Michael shook his head in exasperation. “I play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. It’s not my fault you don’t know what to do if you haven’t won by the five minute mark.”

Nico nodded sagely. “This is true. Underhanded does not begin to describe you, young Thomas.” He held up both hands to ward off Tommy’s protests. “I would love to talk more, but it has been a long day, and it would be a shame if I could not tour the clubs of this beautiful country. We will meet tomorrow at Spodek.” With that, he made his exit.

“…almost eighteen” Tommy muttered sullenly. Marissa glared at him.

“Not for eight months you aren’t, so don’t even try. Come on, let’s go.”

When the elevator doors opened on the twelfth floor, Tommy ran out brandishing his room key. Marissa walked into the room across the hall with a yawn. Michael lingered outside her door for a moment, and then collapsed on his bed in Tommy’s room and fell asleep without undressing. He awoke the next morning to blaring k-pop, and groaned through his disorientation. Some things never changed.

“Turn that shit down.” He mumbled. “It won’t make you Korean, but it might get us kicked out.”

“What?” Tommy called, peering out from the bathroom. From the looks of it, he was trying to style his unruly mop of hair again. It wasn’t working.

“Nothing.” Michael replied, burrowing his head in his pillow. Anger turned out to be a great alarm clock, and so he reluctantly got up and dressed.

They took a bus from the hotel to Spodek. Tommy wanted to take a cab, but Marissa insisted that this was part of the cultural experience. It felt pretty much like any other bus ride to Michael.

They walked off the bus, and ahead loomed a giant flying saucer. Michael stared at the massive off-white structure incredulously. “That thing is an E-sports arena?”


Let us know if you enjoyed Part 1! Part 2 will be posted this Sunday.

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