Chapter 32:


Fantasy Life

Waking up the next morning was probably one of the hardest things Kei and Yun had ever done. Their bodies were sore all over and Yun's chest ached. Kaida approached them at breakfast carrying a bowl filled with crushed herbs. "Jackel said I could use his plants to make you guys this ointment. It should help the soreness." 

Kei took the bowl. "Thank you Kaida, we'll go apply it right away." She and Yun left the table.

Yui yawned before speaking. "You seem to be in a good mood this morning."

"I got some good sleep last night. I even woke up a bit early to brush Yami down and prep him for the event today."

"Yeah, she spent most of the morning with him and Chiyo," Rei said reaching for another piece of egg. "But you don't seem stressed about the game. Wish I could say the same."

"Well, let's say I had a very enlightening experience last night."

Yun and Kei came back with the bowl which was now empty. Yun handed Kaida the bowl. "Thank you, Kaida. It's helping already."

"Yeah, where did you learn how to make that ointment?" Kei asked.

"My dad knows some remedies using some of the plants he grows. This is one of the first ones he taught me."

Tsuda stood up from the table. "I'm glad you two are feeling better because we need to roll." He grabbed the keys and everyone loaded into the van. Once they arrived, they entered the stadium like they had the previous day. This time, the arena was decorated to look like a forest. There were trees and bushes everywhere, and also a small cave. The forest decor took up the whole arena. Some of the tree branches even reached out into the stands where the audience sat.

Shoji was up on the stage with his microphone. "Good morning ladies and gentlemen! It's me Shoji Shuji here with the announcement of the third game. Are you ready to hear it?" The crowd erupted with excitement before Shoji had finished saying his sentence. "Well alright then. The game that our contestants will be playing today is paintball!"

"At least this game sounds fun," Jun commented.

Yun nodded in acknowledgment. "We'll have to see what rules they added."

Shoji continued with his speech. "In this game, all five members will be provided with all the equipment including the gun, helmet, and padded vest. The goal is very simple, don't get shot. Whichever team has one person left in the game wins. Mythical creatures can be used to help track opponents and carry you throughout the stadium. Flying on a mythical creature is not allowed due to the limited reach of the guns provided. Also, if anyone shoots a creature, even on accident, that player and the whole team are disqualified. So make sure you know what you're shooting at! The game will not be over until one player is remaining on the field. We also have cameras set up throughout so we can monitor everything that happens in the thicket. Players will receive twenty minutes to suit up and strategize. Your time begins now!"

Tsuda led the team over to the sidelines where the teens were handed all the equipment need to participate and were quickly briefed on how to use the guns. Each gun had three hundred rounds and could shoot five per second. The paint would blast a bright neon color which would show easily on the black padding. After the briefing, Tsuda had everyone gather around for the remaining time to come up with a plan of attack.

"First off, is everyone clear on the rules of the game?" He waited for everyone to nod before continuing. "Good. I do want to let you all know that the cameras were a result of my confrontation with the panel the other night. One of the judges suggested we postpone the game but we all knew that wasn't an option. So this is what we came up with to ensure that we know what's happening on the field at all times."

"Did they ever figure out who was sabotaging the game?" Kei asked.

"Not yet. Tani and I are going to join the team in piecing that together while Yui stays here and monitors your progress."

"I'll keep a close watch over them sensei!" Yui shouted.

"I know you will." Tsuda turned back to the others. "Before I depart, I would advise that you all come up with a team leader for this game. Keep in mind that paintball is a highly tactical game and physically demanding, especially on those on the front lines. I will leave the decision up to you. Good luck everyone!" He waved goodbye as he and Tani left the sidelines and exited the arena.

Yui turned to the others and asked, "Are there any nominations for a team leader?"

Kaida raised her hand. "It has to be Yun."

A surprised look emerged on Yun's face. "Why me?"

"You heard sensei. This is a very tactical game. You're the best when it comes to stuff like this. Sure Jun and I can shoot well but we won't know where to go or what to do next. If you command us I have faith that we stand a good chance."

Rei stepped forward. "I'm with Kaida on this. You also have good instincts to go with that brain of yours."

"I want Yun as well," Kei exclaimed. "You helped me a ton during our last game.

Jun chuckled. "Seems like it's unanimous then. Better accept it, Yun."

"Excellent," Yui said. "Ok, now that we have a team captain, let's talk strategy. Yun, if you please."

Yun led the discussion for the remainder of the time. They were all happy to be going into this event with a plan in mind. For Kaida, it wasn't the game she was worried about, but more so the number of contestants. With fifty schools competing and each school having five members on the team, that's a lot of people to target. Yami nudged her with his nose, and she patted him.

"Thanks, Yami. I'll be alright."

Yun stood in front of the team and turned to face them. "Alright everyone, are we ready to enter?" Hearing no objections Yun led the way into the forest. "Remember, follow the plan."