Chapter 10:


Red-Black Course

As the pair opened their eyes once more and took off their helmets, Rex and Zain were greeted by, surprisingly, a friendly smile from their opponents – or rather, only one of their opponents, as Bruce had already stormed off the scene as soon as he woke up, not even paying attention to his own superior.

“Congratulations on your win, boys,” Jack raised his hand forward to offer a shake.

“What’re you planning?” Zain was the one to react first, cautiously blocking Rex with his arm, with the latter seemingly wanting to return the offer.

“Nothing, really,” Jack let out a smile once more – a genuine one to an inmate for the first time. “I was just impressed with your performance, no strings pulled.”

If he had only stopped there, the atmosphere might have actually turned peaceful. However, in the end, Jack was still unable to contain himself and threw in one final tease:

“In the end, forming a team really does make a difference, isn’t that right Zain?”

“Tch,” taking the brunt of the claim, Zain only responded with a click of the tongue. “If you have nothing else to say, then get out.”

“Still can’t get rid of that attitude of yours, huh?” Jack snickered at the reaction, but his smile didn’t last for long before a pair of female voices sounded in the elevator:

“Stop chiding the inmates, Jack.”

“Superintendents!” The warden immediately left his bed and quickly form a perfect ninety-degree bow. As Rex and Zain turned in the direction of the voices, two female officers – certainly a rare sight in the Infinite Prison – appeared.

The pair was eerily matching with each other at almost everything, from their exact same height to the same bob-cut style of their hair, and even the eye-covering masks they wore. The only difference was their overall colors, which were made to complement each other perfectly: the one with snow-white hair wore all black, while the one with jet-black hair wore all white.

“Who are you?” Rex cautiously asked. From Jack’s words, he knew that the two were high-ranked officers, but the rest of their identities were still a mystery to him.

Zain, meanwhile, showed signs of worry as his eyebrows frowned in distress. “The Brain Waves…”

“You knew them, Zain?” Rex turned to his partner.

“I’ve heard of them before, but I’ve never actually played against them in the games. What gives? Now even the superintendents are here to kill our fun?”

“When the colonel had already shown himself in the first game, what else did you expect, little man?” The black-haired officer licked her lips as if just waiting to devour the prey before her.

“Don’t tease him too much, Love,” the white-haired woman shook her head in concern. “We’re only here to provide the information with the next game, remember?”

“Alright, alright, I know,” the one called Love playfully stuck out her tongue. “Well, shall we get started, Rose?”

“Indeed, we should,” turning to the two boys, the one called Rose started to explain. “The next game shall happen in one week’s time. It is Go Fish, and we’ll be your opponents.”

“Go Fish?” The claim stirred confusion in both Rex and Zain, leading to both of them asking at the same time. “You mean the children’s card game where you guess your opponents’ card?” Zain continued.

“That’s the one,” nodded Rose. “However, it’s not just any regular Go Fish, but a modified version where we’re playing in teams. Each player plays with their own teammate, and the goal now becomes getting the greatest number of books – four of a kind, in case you don’t know – without telling your partner what you have. And in this version, suits matter. If you can’t guess the exact cards, you can’t take it for yourself.”

“I see,” replied Rex, “and in the end, the team who has more books wins in the end, right?”

“Pairs work too,” added Love, “but only half the value. A fair trade, right?”

“… I guess so,” Rex nodded. The rules of this game were simple. Too simple, so it would naturally raise some doubt within the boy. However, he couldn’t exactly figure out the reason, and as a result, Rex was still wearing a worried face even as they all left the elevator and returned to the cafeteria.

The last thing Rex and Zain would expect was the thundering applause coming from all sides from almost every inmate around. Inmates flooded the cafeteria, all cheering and clapping in all directions, making a riot over the place as if there was an all-night party, which greatly annoyed the two wardens who came along with them.

“Out of the way!” A stern order from Rose along with a crack of her whip – an item that Rex only noticed was always in her hand at the point – shut up every voice in the room, turning the cafeteria from a stadium into a library.

“Gratz, boys!” As the warden left the premise, a huffy, echo-y voice sounded amidst the crowd, and from within the sea of people emerged none other than Mitch, who was letting out a big smile behind that iron mask of his. “Ya did it! I can’t believe it!”

“… Meathead, clear a path for us,” Zain, cringing at the annoying crowd, waved his hand toward Mitch and ordered, a fact which brought confusion to the masked giant.

“Wat? Yer stronger than me,” Mitch complained. Be it the high from watching his friend win or being already used to their behavior, Zain’s presence had finally stopped being scary to the towering inmate.

“Just do it,” Zain clicked his tongue in annoyance. Mitch tried to ask another question, but his eyes quickly caught the sight of slight twitches in Zain’s biceps and calves. And it was at that moment that he realized both contestants must not have been in their best form right now.

“Alright ya dawgs! Get outta da way!” Using his burly arms as a pair of sweepers, Mitch quickly chased away the crowd and made way for the two contestants to return to their quarters – the prison’s infirmary.

“Oh, thank God!” As soon as the sight of the white room appeared in their eyes, Rex threw himself on the soft, cool bed as fast as he humanly could. “I thought my limbs were gonna fall off!”

Zain didn’t say anything, but the fact that even he was lying down rather than sitting was more than enough proof of how taxing the first game actually was. Meanwhile, the monitor on the wall popped itself out yet again, and along with it came a sore voice of a certain familiar face:

“Tell me about it,” AIDE complained, “I’ve always hated that module. Now my voice function isn’t even working properly.”

“How does that work anyway? Aren’t you an AI?” Rex retorted.

“I blame the one who designed me.”

“Well, anyway…” Rex quickly changed topics with a sigh of relief. “Go Fish, huh? Never thought we’d just play a kid’s game. But things should be a lot simpler than motorcycle football.”

“That’s the worst kind of news,” Zain, on the other hand, still showed concern over the matter.

“How so? It’s just a children’s game, right?”

“The game doesn’t really matter. It’s our opponents.”

“Oh, yeah, those superintendents,” Rex nodded in agreement. “They must be tough, huh?”

“More than just tough. Do you know why I’ve heard of them?”

“No. Why?”

“Love and Rose… Those two are known in this place as the Brain Waves. The name originally came from the fact that they were the ones responsible for monitoring the prison’s information system, but a few years back, it came with another meaning…”

“Which is…”

“I don’t know how. I don’t even know if it’s real or not. But they were rumored among the inmates to be ESPs. Mind reading, telekinesis, all of that stuff.”

“ESPs?” Rex raised his voice in surprise and doubt. “You’re joking, right? People can’t have superpowers.”

“I told you, who knows if it’s real or not,” Zain shook his head to disagree. “But the fact that they could tell what each other was thinking in just a split second is no joke. I’ve seen them do that before.”


“I can confirm,” Mitch raised his hand to jump into the conversation. “They chased me when I attempted an escape before. I coulda sworn I’d cut off da white one, but as soon as da black one caught up, da white one was already in front of me!”

“Maybe she just knew her ways around and cut you off? I can’t see that being mind reading.” Rex shrugged at the claim. It was a perfectly valid take, hence Mitch answered with a nod:

“Dat coulda been an option. But not with dat road: it’s the underground sewage system of this prison. Dat place is like a giant maze; you could get lost even with a tracker in hand.”

“So, you’re saying that…”

“Somehow, they could feed information to one another without the need of a communication device,” Zain continued. “And thus, the ESP rumor was born. Now you see how bad our situation really is?”

“I see,” Rex scratched his chin, piecing together the information he had learned so far. “A seemingly simple game, but requires coordination and understanding between the teammates. Our opponents are a pair of ESPs capable of reading minds. And since this is a team game where we’re required at least two people, Bitleo isn’t an option anymore…”

“This is harder than I thought,” Rex let out a sigh at the end. “The only cheat I could think of is to make some kind of hidden communication line for us to use, but I’m sure after the first game, they’d be wary of our tampering.”

“Then it’s only through the old-fashioned way,” Zain concluded. “Within the next week, we’ll have to learn everything about the other: the way we move and talk, the slightest habitual gestures that we have…”

“How about specific signals?” Mitch interrupted the two contestants’ ideas. “Just use hand gestures or somethin’, guys. It’s not too complicated.”

“That… might actually work,” Rex and Zain both sounded at the same time. “Alright, we’ll go with that.”

The one-week deadline flew by like a flash. As Rex and Zain made their way to the cafeteria, the two went by the rules they’d established themselves within the prep time once more.

“Tapping on our forearm signals the suit of the card. One tap means heart, two means diamond, three means club, and four means spades.” Rex started.

“While tapping on the bicep signals the number on the card. Ace is one, Jack to King is eleven to thirteen.” Zain continued.

“And each time we want to state a new card, we tap once on the table.”

“Good, it seems like we both remember. Now…”

“Discussing your strategy, boys?” A mesmerizing, but no way less chilling voice sounded from behind the two. As Rex and Zain turned around, cold sweat poured on their foreheads as they saw Rose already smiling in front of them.

“Don’t be so tense,” before the two could calm themselves, another voice once again sounded from behind them. Turning around again only to see Love letting out a deviously charming smile, both Rex and Zain’s hearts were already on the verge of jumping out of their chests.

“I’ll tell you some advice right now: whatever strategy you’re thinking of is not gonna work,” still with a smile on her face, Love continued.

“What do you mean?” Rex asked, but answering him was just a simple chuckle from Rose:

“You’ll see when you’re in the game.”

Steward McOy
T.K. 月狐
Kya Hon
Robin Paharya
MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon