Chapter 17:

The Pup's Fangs

Red-Black Course

“Gack!” Rex shouted in pain as his nerves went haywire. A stray electric bullet had flown from his blind spot and landed accurately on the back of his neck, sending a shockwave throughout his system. Angered and physically hurt, the young boy shouted:

“What gives? I’m still in the Interlude zone!”

“Check the rules again, brat,” next to him stood Bruce, cracking his knuckles with a wry smile on his face. “The ‘no attacking’ rule only applies to the Starting zone. You just can’t move out of here, and there’s no rule against us beating the shit out of you before your precious partner arrives.”

Five to my left, three to my right; three behind me, and another four from afar in front, Rex thought to himself as he glanced over his surroundings. Precision-type WARDENs flooded the area, each carrying a shock rifle locked and loaded to the only target in sight – Rex himself.

His body might be numb from the electrocution, but the boy’s mind remained sharp. Rex was confident that with the relatively low speed the precision models had, he would be able to dodge their snipes as long as he knew where they were coming from. The only obstacle left would be the mad bull of a warden standing in front of him right now.

“Now, let’s put you in your place, shall we?” Bruce let out a sinister grin as he approached the helpless prey. After years of humiliation from Zain, as well as absurd oppression from his superiors, Bruce was ready to snap at any moment. And finally, he had the perfect punching bag for the day.

The warden screamed a deafening battle cry, throwing a punch at the helpless Rex. Or at least, that was what he had in mind.

His reaction was slow, and his movements were wobbly, but Rex managed to dodge the punch in the nick of time by rolling down on the platform. A jolt of electricity flew towards the lying boy, but, as if having predicted the case, Rex managed to escape the attack once again.

“You little runt!” Bruce, fuming at the talented youth, decided to take matters into his own hands once more and charged forward. But this time, Rex had more plans than just to aimlessly dodge.

With a wry smile on his face, Rex leaned to the right, revealing behind him an already charged shot from a stray mech soldier. By the time Bruce noticed, it was already too late. No normal person would be able to dodge lightning, and so the result was obvious. The same electric shock that hit Rex ran rampant through the warden’s body, bringing him down in mere seconds.

“H…how did you…”

“You know, there’s a slight delay between these things’ attacks,” playfully flicking Bruce’s nose, Rex let out a cheeky grin. “As long as I can predict the general direction of their rifles, dodging isn’t such a hard task.”

“Delay? Impossible… We never…”

Bruce’s eyes widened in shock and anger, for he realized the meaning behind the boy’s words. Gritting his teeth and clenching his fist, the warden burst out fuming:

“You cheating shit!”

“Now, now,” with a wave of his finger, Rex replied. “You can’t blame me for your programming mistakes, my respected warden.”

“Keep pulling that stunt, kid, and I swear…”

“Oh, my, Bruce boy,” another voice sounded behind the two, sending a chill down Rex’s spine in the process. “I never thought you’d be in this much trouble! Need a hand from your trusty superiors, then?”

Had Rex not turned around, he might have been relatively fine. But since he had to confirm his doubts, his heart was nearly scared to stop beating altogether.

In front of him were not one, but two wardens. Jack from the first game and Love from the second, the latter holding her signature knives. But the fact alone wasn’t what Rex was worried about the most, it’s the implication that these two were here brought.

“What happened to Zain?” Rex instinctively took a step back, positioning himself closer to the edge for his eventual escape.

“A one-on-one would be a fair fight, isn’t it?” Replied Love with a devious grin.

“Rich coming from a bunch of you surrounding me.”

“Always strike the weak point, my dear. If you have to blame someone, blame yourself for being one.”

As the last words came out of Love’s mouth, the warden dashed in with her powered suit, knife in hand ready for a quick and easy slash. However, her opponent was already prepared for the situation. With a grin of his own, Rex leaned towards the side and signaled a goodbye to his oppositions:

“Funny… I was about to say the same thing.”

Revealed behind him once more were the loaded guns of the mechanical soldiers, only this time, there were a lot more than just one. A synchronized attack meant to aim at a single target, coming from dozens of rifles, but their target was not in their line of sight.

The joint electric blast flew straight to the chasing wardens.

Love, however, saw the strike with a smile.

A giant flash beamed over the horizon, lighting up almost half of the dark arena. Not only would the person eating the hit certainly be unable to move afterwards, but even the fellow recipients would turn blind if their eyes were exposed in just a second. Rex knew of it, so he quickly closed his eyes and further blocked his sight with his elbow. Little did he know, it was this action that sealed his fate.

A straight punch to the chest. Not as strong as Zain’s, but nowhere less deadly. If his partner’s force was the might of a freight train crashing onto a person, then Jack’s fist was like puncturing a needle to the eye. Short and weak, but excruciatingly painful.

“ARGHH!” The shock forced Rex to open his eyes, only to be blinded by the last of the subsiding light he desperately tried to avoid. A scorching burn ravaged his nerves as his sockets overheated, causing the boy to fall to his knees.

Meanwhile, his adversaries were quickly approaching.

“Not so tough now, isn’t it?” The sound of a knife playfully swinging against the air and Love’s malicious tone sent a chill down Rex’s spine.

“H…how did you…”

“Survive the blast? It’s simple, really,” Jack answered from behind, followed by a sigh. “Unlike Bruce here, who was too arrogant for his own good, we obviously carried prevention against the kinds of tricks you’ll pull; namely, our own army and attacks.”

“Don’t forget, dear, my partner is an expert in using electricity,” Love, having stepped close enough to her target, continued with a slash right at Rex’s arm. “Insulated gear is the one thing I’d always prepare.”

“And the flashbangs that might occur can be easily taken care of by a pair of sunglasses,” Jack added with a jab to his victim’s shoulder. “Well, we still have to be careful, but it mitigates the damage just enough… unlike what you’re feeling right now.”

Rex didn’t have the strength to answer anymore. His burning eyes were already bad enough, and now his arm was severely bleeding while his joints were on the verge of dislocation. And not to mention, this stupidly real-like program was now even more of a detriment, as the scent of blood robbed him of his sense of smell as well.

Hearing was the only thing Rex had left with a lick of sense left. And he knew that he would have to rely on it to the very end.

Focus. Deep breaths, the boy thought. You’ve been through worse. Think of how bad it was when Zain beat you up that day. This much is nothing.

The sound of shredding wind echoed in his eardrums.


With barely enough strength to dodge to the opposite direction, Rex narrowly escaped the knife that would certainly end his life.

Another whirling sound in front of him.


Lying on the platform, Rex rolled out of the way of Jack’s fist.

The charging sound of electric rifles surrounding him.

Lag of three seconds. Aimed at my vitals, so the course should be…


Pulling his upper body up with everything he had, the boy once again toyed with death as the railguns fired onto the platforms. And as he finally regained his vision once more, the smile that had disappeared due to the pain and tension bloomed once again, for an all too familiar figure rushing towards him at full speed.

The two had seen each other. And in an instant, they knew what the other was thinking, as well as the course of action they should take.

“WE WILL…” Zain shouted from the distance, reaching his hand out as far as he could.

As soon as his hand managed to cross the border of the Interlude zone, the barrier erecting it was nulled. Rex, taking the signal, jumped off the platform and quickly grabbed the remote hidden in his pocket, shouting in unison.


Steward McOy
Robin Paharya
Kya Hon
F.C Fondness
Ei Ruan
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