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BHM We will geek together

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Jun 13, 2019
rural GA
Long time lurker. I have finished this story as a rough draft and will post each chapter as I edit it. BHM, FFA, slow burn. I know I tend to overdo it on the exposition. There will be some explicit content, but it will take awhile to get there.

“For my bonus action, I cast spiritual weapon!” I exclaimed. Usually, such an utterance was met with groans and complaints of, “Geez, don’t you have any other defensive spells!” I realized that my Discord chat was muted.

“I cast spiritual weapon, walk thirty feet, and heal the barbarian,” I said, making sure that this time I was unmuted.

College hadn’t gone nearly the way I expected. I thought that I would finally come out of my geeky shell. I would stop spending all my time reading and playing videogames. Instead, I would join a sorority, finally make some friends, maybe have a hot fling or two, and eventually find a husband. Instead, my roommate my freshman year had introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons, where I was able to both fully geek out and make friends at the same time. Instead of the “geek to barbie” transformation I had been hoping for, I instead had thoroughly embraced my geeky side. I was still a nerd, 5’4 and 185 pounds, but going to science fiction conventions with my roommate, dressed in corsets and short skirts, had even made me actually able to talk to boys without feeling intimidated and judged.

Instead of “getting my MRS” like I had planned, I had discovered that I really enjoyed being a source of information and providing that information to anyone who needed it. I ended up getting my Bachelor’s in Library Science. I had hoped that graduate school would lead to further socialization opportunities, but my first year of grad school, I had been far too busy being a TA and shepherding hapless undergrad students to really network. My second year of grad school, the infamous COVID-19 had hit halfway through. I had spent most of this, my third and final year of getting my Master’s degree, playing tech support to online classes and wishing that I got to see other humans in person- ever.

Thankfully, I still had my group of friends from my undergraduate days. We had met through the college’s Dungeons and Dragons club. After we all graduated, we had continued playing through a “play by post” system, where instead of acting out things in person, we posted what our characters would do and say in an online forum. The one thing I was thankful about regarding the whole “quarantine” fiasco was that we were able to use online gaming systems and video chats to play in a way that was closer to what we were used to. Our original Game Master wasn’t able to continue with us, but Frederick’s friend Marcus had been willing to run a new game for us.

Instead of the usual groans of, “Why do you always have to cast Spiritual Weapon,” that I had been expecting, I instead heard exclamations of, “Oh my god!” and “Dude, seriously?!” from my fellow players.

“What’s going on?” I asked with a hint of irritation tinging my tone. “What did I miss?”

“Dude, Helen, check the group chat,” said Frederick laughingly. “I seriously can’t believe you didn’t know this yet.”

Pulling up the group chat, I saw what all the hubbub was about. Most of my D&D group had been either Library Science majors or Computer Science majors- fields with more overlap in classes than you might first think. One of our former classmates, a complete dick named Brian, whom everyone hated, had been busted for “inappropriate conduct with a minor” by the FBI. I had always sensed something skeezy about the man, but I had no inkling that he was up to that sort of thing!

“Didn’t he get that awesome job down in Atlanta?” asked Harriet, my former roommate.

“Yeah, he definitely did,” said Marcus grimly. “He was the archivist and historical research consultant for the CDC. Y’all remember that I’m the head of the CDC’s in-house IT, right?” he continued after a pause. “Legally, I can’t go into any details, but, yeah. What the press is saying is only the tip of the iceberg. I’m glad he’s gone.”

“Does that mean his job is up for grabs?” asked Alex eagerly. Alex was super fun to play D&D with, but his ability to interact with people outside of the game left a lot to be desired.

“Well, yeah,” said Marcus, his irritation clear in his tone. “I’m more concerned with the harm he caused, but yeah, that’s what he did down here. He even mentioned that he knew Frederick, Harriet, and Helen, probably trying to keep me from doing the annual audit of his computer.”

My mouth gaped open, and I was suddenly glad that we never had our cameras on for our Discord discussions, just the microphones. I knew Brian was dumb, but surely he had had been smart enough to keep any incriminating evidence off of computers provided by the CDC! Apparently not, though.

“As disturbing as his actions are, I’m still concerned about what the lack of his admittedly impressive research skills are going to mean to the project he was helping with,” Marcus continued. “He is a total dumpster fire of a human being, but his knowledge of genetics and the ways that the ancients dealt with infections had finally started to actually help the epidemiologists get a good handle on how to treat certain diseases,” Marcus continued. “He definitely deserves to be in prison for the rest of his life, but there was so much he knew that could’ve been invaluable to a lot of the research still going on.”

“Hell, if it’s genetics and history you need help with, just hire Helen,” Harriet said dismissively. “She dual majored in library science and genetics in undergrad and had a minor in history. Plus, she concentrated on the history of medicine, which seems stupid. Why not concentrate on the history of libraries? It would make more sense for what she said she wanted her career to be.”

While I boggled at Harriet’s cavalier dismissal of my undergraduate career- I only majored and minored in that stuff because I found in interesting- she did have a point. I thought about speaking up, but Marcus started talking again before I could.

“Reeeeeeeealy,” he said, drawing out the word with intensity. “Helen, aren’t you graduating with your master’s degree next month?”

“Yes,” I stammered out.

“Well then,” Marcus said decisively. “So, what can you tell me about the ways in which…” what followed was a thorough interrogation about everything I had ever learned about the medieval ways of medicine, with particular emphasis on the ways the Ottoman Empire had treated diseases. The rest of our D&D group stayed silent, even though I knew that Frederick would have usually loved to argue a few points with me out of pure contrarianism.

After Marcus had wrung every bit of historical and genetic knowledge out of me, he seemed to come to a decision.

“Ok, sorry for the huge diversion, guys,” he said, his voice holding a definite undertone of glee. “I think that’s enough about my job and that dick Brian for now. Helen, you said you cast spiritual weapon and then moved to heal the barbarian?”

I thought that was then end of the conversation, but I was thoroughly, delightfully wrong.

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