The Virtual Scoobies
The Virtual Scoobies
Spoilers: Takes place after "Hell's Bells" and moves the release date of the "Blackhawk Down"
game back from March 2003 to March 2002. This story has major spoilers for season six and seven
of Buffy. It also has spoilers for the online version of "Blackhawk Down," although that version of
the game doesn't really have a storyline. You make your own personal story as you play the game.
We never did learn exactly how we had been put into our virtual prison. What we knew was that we
were all taken while we slept on the same March night. Judging from the troubles we'd had with
them and the nature of our prison, we guessed correctly that the nerd trio had captured and digitized
us somehow. The best reason we could think of why they didn't just keep us unconscious or kill us
is because they wanted their very own version of the Matrix. After all, Jonathon had stared in the
movie in his "Superstar" universe.
For the first three weeks, all we did was try to figure out some way to escape. Willow and Tara tried
every witchy thing they could think of, but nothing would work. Willow knew she could rewrite the
code of the game, but she couldn't find any kind of interface to let her do it, not even using the
game's command prompt. Dawn and I tried desperately to communicate with the other players, but
to no avail. Obviously our minds were being read somehow and every time we tried to type a plea
for help in the game chat box, gibberish would show up on the screen. We couldn't even type coded
messages or things in different languages-even demon languages. Buffy and Spike spent countless
hours exploring our virtual world, but they just found that the same desert or riverine landscape was
repeated endlessly on giant squares on the game maps. Only the square where you respawned at
usually had different buildings and objects, everything else was the same and you could never reach
the end, especially since the maps cycled at least every thirty minutes or an hour. Clem and Anya
gave up the earliest and mostly just found a nice hiding spot away from the action and listened to the
rest of us bitch.
We couldn't see our real bodies, but we could talk to each other no matter where our virtual bodies
were. We could talk just to one other person in the group or to the whole group or to any
combination of other people. We learned that many of the other players used some kind of voice
communication tool, but we couldn't connect to them. In the game we could see virtual
representations of each of us that looked pretty close to how we looked in real life. We all wore one
of the standard sets of Delta Force commando fatigues and gear. Spike raged endlessly about losing
his leather duster. Yet we learned that the other players saw us as standard game characters.
Willow was pissed because there were no female avatars in the game.
The other players saw us making the standard set of limited character motions that the game had,
but we could see each other doing everything we could do in real life. We could touch ourselves and
each other and feel it. Willow suspected there was some kind of virtual feedback system in place.
We could also feel it when we got shot, blown up, or knifed although it wasn't nearly as painful as
in real life. After an awkward making up period, Anya and I discovered we could also have sex,
although sadly that wasn't as pleasurable as in real life. Willow and Tara also made up and I walked
in on them "doing a spell" several times and then later I would go do a spell of my own. I had a
pretty good idea what Buffy and Spike did on those long exploring trips together.
So after a few weeks of fruitless trying, we gave up. Then we got bored. Our brains seemed to only
need a few hours of sleep every day and that left a lot of time to fill. So we started playing the game.
"Blackhawk Down" by Novalogic. Two teams of Delta Force commandos battle each other in
Somalian-themed maps in game types such as team deathmatch, capture the flag, team king of the
hill, and attack and defend. Spike was the first one to really get into it. His chip didn't prevent him
from causing all kinds of mayhem against virtual humans, so he would chose an m60 machine gun
and run around like Rambo or get a Car15 rifle with an m203 grenade launcher and blow as many
people up as possible. At first he cursed up a storm because he usually got killed before he could
make his own kill, but after a few weeks he was so good that he would often kill people with just his
The next to get into it were me and Clem. I liked the Car15/m203 because those grenades could
make things go boom real good, although it took forever to reload. So if you missed on the first
shot, you were often toast. I loved getting on top of a hill or building and dropping a nade on
somebody's head or shooting one off around 20 meters away at someone's feet and killing them. If
you were real close, you could often shot the grenade right into their body and the projectile itself
would kill the other player without exploding and killing you also. But sometimes I would shoot it
off too close and kill myself as well as the other guy. I started getting called "nade noob" by the
other players, but I loved it. Clem used the m16 and he liked shooting people with the virtual
bullets. We didn't have much lag, so if he got a bead on someone, a couple of three round bursts
would usually do the trick. People with slow connection speeds often needed the whole 30 round
clip to kill someone with an m16 or Car15.
Willow became our premier sniper. She was deadly with the barrett .50 cal rifle at middle and
extreme ranges and she could also tear it up with the quieter m21 rifle at shorter ranges. She was a
master at finding the best sniper spots, capping her victims, and then moving before they could
figure out where she was at most of the time. She had one spot on the meatgrinder king of the hill
map where she could kill people with impunity who were trying to climb up the ladder to the two
story house in the middle of the zone. Only one sniper ever found her hide spot on the ledge of
another building several hundred meters away. And she spotted and killed that sniper a couple of
minutes after she respawned.
Tara was our medic. She refused to kill anyone, but when we got killed, she would try her best to
reach us before the medic timer ran out and heal us with her medical satchel. Nothing could be done
for headshots or knifings though. You stayed dead. If we couldn't be revived, then we could either
instantly respawn at our default spawn points near our base (and usually away from the action) or
use one of the PSPs or Progressive Spawn Points. You had to wait 8 or 20 or 30 seconds to use the
PSPs depending on how many people you had killed since the last time you got killed, but the PSPs
were usually closer to where the action was. On most maps, both the red and blue teams would fight
to control the vital PSPs. You controlled one by just touching it. 15 seconds after you did, it would
turn your team's color and they could start respawning there.
It took Anya a long time to get into the game, but she came to love the claymore antipersonnel
mines. You could plant up to eight of these mines at one any one time on the map. The best places
were hard to see spots like around corners and doorways, especially near flags, flagpoles, tunnel
exits, or king of the hill zones. Anya got a perverse thrill from seeing "Anya<scoob> killed
Whoever&dork&" come up on the game screen, knowing that her mine had caught another player
unawares. The claymores exploded if the opposing player got within about two meters of it. It
wasn't realistic because claymores in real life usually had to be set off by a person using a remote
control clacker. Also the real claymores couldn't distinguish between friend and foe. But after a
few months, Novalogic changed the game so you could only have two claymores on the board at one
time and also the server could be set so you could blow up your own teammates with your
claymores. This upset Anya, but she got over it because she still got a lot of kills and she was
getting tired of spending so much time placing clays all over the map. It was a lot of work to keep 8
on the map all the time because either your own players or the other team's players would usually
blow them up by shooting them or throwing grenades. And you got killed a good bit in the few
defenseless seconds you had to switch from your main weapon to your claymore to set it. Friendly
claymores placed by your own teammates were supposed to be distinguishable by a tan glow, but
that was never reliable. It was one of the game glitches.
Buffy pretty much always stuck with the m60 machine gun. She loved to get into the middle of the
fray and hose people down with a stream of bullets the way she used to cut demons down with an
axe. She preferred to go to the busy choke points on the map and kill as many people as she could.
She usually had the most kills and the most deaths on any map. She wasn't strategy girl in this
That was Dawn. She took to the virtual realm with surprising ease and became an expert with all
the weapons. She learned all the default game maps like the back of her hand and devised tactics to
win on each of those levels no matter which side of the map we started on. She endured a lot of
grumbling and built us up into a formidable fighting unit. At first we would often scatter into
different severs, but she made us start playing in the same sever and then on the same sides all the
After a couple of months, we even set up our own sever. When we left a map, we would go to the
game set up screen. There we could find another sever to play in or set up our own server. We
usually had our server up ten or twelve hours a day and called it "Scooby Central." Each of us wore
the <scoob> tags after our game names, except of course for Spike. I was "Xand-Man", Buffy was
the "Buffinator," Willow was "RedWitch," and Spike was just Spike. Everyone else stuck with
their real names. If there were only a few other people in the server we would play on both red and
blue to even the teams out. But if we had seven, eight, or more other people in the server, we set up
a password and we all played on the same side. It was usually pretty full because we had good ping
times, especially for people on the West Coast. And we usually kicked butt. We got accused of
cheating many times. Spike did his best to figure out someway to actually use a trainer or hack or
whatever, but never could get anything to work.
Our server usually went up around 3 pm Pacific time and we would start catching people getting off
work or out of school on the east coast as well as some Europeans. As the night wore on, people
from the middle and western part of the US and Canada would join in as the people from the East
went to sleep. Around midnight Pacific time the server would usually clear out and then we would
go find an Australian server to play in. I loved the Aussies-they played the game with gusto and
have a great sense of humor-especially the oZi squad. After the Aussies started clearing out we
would either find an Euro server or just find an empty server to go in and sleep for awhile or just
Early on we decided that the nerds must be giving our bodies nourishment of some kind. Probably
intravenous drips. With us out of the way, they were free to carry out their nerd plans. We were
afraid that they would be either too successful or would get into trouble. If they were able to steal a
lot of money or control women or whatever, they would eventually move on to bigger cities or just
retire and head to Mexico or a remote island somewhere. Or they could make one of the demonic
forces in Sunnydale mad and get themselves killed. Either way spelled trouble for our bodies.
Spike would last for a few months before he started to turn into a brainless animal, but the rest of us
couldn't go long without attention from the nerds. And I think the girls were kinda creeped out by
the thought of what the nerds might be doing to their bodies. To tell the truth, I was kinda creeped
out too. That Andrew looked like he could swing both ways.
Anyway, we learned to stop worrying about it and try to have as much fun as we could. We all
regretted now that Willow and Buffy didn't keep in closer contact with Angel. Buffy's insistence
that we not consult Giles in England too often made us sick to our stomachs. We were even sorry
that we had broken our ties with the Watchers. We assumed that the nerds had replaced us with
identical robots or done some kind of memory spell on everyone. We hoped it was robots because
eventually Giles or Angel would figure it out, that is unless Warren had made great advances in the
bots' AI program.
After four months we were starting to feel a little ragged though. The music that played while the
new maps were loading got very old after awhile, although it was a haunting little North African
tune. And there were only so many times you could get an adrenaline rush by being blown five
meters in the air by a grenade. We didn't get physically tired and our hands didn't cramp up like
normal gamers, but we got bored with running around everywhere and shooting at people. And
hearing the same gunfire and explosion and vehicle sounds over and over again. Even riding in the
blackhawk helicopters and shooting off the mini-gun got old. I can't tell you how many times I took
a swan dive out the side door of a blackhawk just because I was bored and wanted to get some kind
Everyone had just about exhausted their aggressive tendencies, even Spike. Tara became more and
more withdrawn. We started putting up our sever and playing together less and less. We all became
snippy at each other, except for Clem who kept his good humor throughout it all. We all came to
hate him for it, almost as much as we hated each other. We started taking our frustration out on
other players. We would type anything to get their goat. Playing with mostly young males, it
wasn't too hard. Several of us would get on the same side and just go hide and watch the other
players complain about it. We began to get throbbing headaches and our attention spans became
almost nonexistent. We were beginning to lose it.
Until it finally ended one day in early July. Giles and Angel started talking to us on our mental
voice coms. They explained that they had finally gotten enough clues to figure out something was
wrong. It had taken about a week for Giles, Angel, and the rest to take down the nerds and find us.
Warren, Andrew, and Jonathon had gotten careless after taking care of us. But they still had an
army of robots and minions that needed to be taken care of. Much later I learned that Angel had
taken special glee in blowing up my robot doppleganglander with a rocket launcher.
We were removed from the game environment and placed in sensory depravation tanks for a day to
help ease the transition back to the real world. All of us except Deadboy Jr.and Buffy needed a
couple of weeks to get our bodies back in shape to walk around. We turned Andrew and Jonathon
over to the FBI, by anonymous proxy of course. Warren had been killed by Angel in the final battle,
which involved mystical orbs and rocket packs. I don't think anyone was really sorry to hear that,
especially after we learned that Warren had killed his ex-girlfriend after his sex slave gadget-spell on
her wore off and she tried to get away.
Life started to get back to normal. Anya and I tried to pretend we were still separated, but we got
back together after a few weeks in the real world. Tara and Willow stayed together and Willow
stayed off the magic. The video game had kept her mind off the real world cold-turkey magic-quitting method long enough for it to really sink in. Spike and Buffy were an official couple and no
one made a big deal about it except Angel, although she showed signs of getting tired of Spike as she
began to feel better about herself. Dawn and Clem still hung out a lot. Eventually we all came to
mentally gloss over our time trapped in video hell. Apocalypse time had come and gone for once
without a true end of the world scenario.
But next May and the death and sorrow that came with the effort to finally defeat the First made us
forget our quiet year. Now all the others are either dead or scattered like the traitor Spike. When
my back pain eases up and my phantom eye doesn't bother me so much, I can sleep and dream, and
I often remember our timeless spell in the virtual world and wish we could go back to it. I would
give anything to have us together again.
Author's Notes: This story had its genesis in a drabble about Spike getting trapped inside the
"Grand Theft Auto III" video game. Then I began to wonder what it would like if he was trapped in
the "Blackhawk Down" game and finally I began to wonder what it would be like for the whole
gang to be trapped in the game. They say to write what you know, and I knew "Blackhawk Down."
I played it at least 40 hours a week for almost a year and was a command officer in one of the best
squads and also helped run the best tournament league for the game in addition to remotely setting
up and finding new custom maps for our 24/7 squad server. I didn't remember until after I finished
the first draft, but the full version of the game wasn't actually out in March of 2002, although the
demo version was available to play online a few months after that. Also it took Novalogic about six
months to limit the amount of claymores from 8 to 2, not three or four like in the story. They never
did fix most of the real problems with the game.
If you are having trouble following my chain of reasoning for this story's consequences on season
seven, then know that I think if Buffy and Spike stayed together in a shaky relationship until
sometime in the fall of 2002, then I believe the First would have been able to corrupt and control
Spike after he and Buffy broke it off. He wouldn't get his soul back, so Angel would be the one to
wear the "scrubbing bubbles" amulet. And if Angel killed Warren and Tara lived, then Willow
wouldn't have a reason to use the dark magicks again and become an awesomely powerful witch.
Therefore she wouldn't be able to activate the potentials and the Scoobies would suffer almost 100
percent casualties in the final battle as a result.