Chapter 2:

Vol 1, Ch. 2: Level Cap: BUSTED!!!

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

“This is my room.”Bookmark here

Rover led Quinn into his bedroom. His legs wobbled from his effort to keep from sweating, which made him wobble more…which made him sweat more.Bookmark here

Quinn’s smile conveyed excessive happiness for merely having looked at somebody’s average bedroom. The generic tapestries and burly Chork coat of arms placards interested the girl, and she surrendered control to her eyes as they moved along the marvelous miniature models, somberly silent air purifiers, and humdrum furniture fitted with titanium-xenon lights.Bookmark here

“It’s a very lovely room,” she said.Bookmark here

The blood ran to Rover’s face as he gripped the chocolates in his hands. His room had been painted with the vibrancy of Quinn’s compliment, and his nervousness threatened to melt the sweet contents inside the box.Bookmark here

He laughed. “Not too shabby for a bedroom, r-right?!”Bookmark here

“Yes,” Quinn said, still smiling and her eyes glittering as she stepped in farther. “A person’s bedroom is like a reflection of themselves. I see that you’re a very clean, organized, up-to-date person.”Bookmark here

“Awww…ya think so???” Rover cooed, scratching his head while the chocolates in the box really did begin to soften from his body heat. “It’s important to, um, stay up on things. I’m a good stay-upper, you could call it!”Bookmark here

She gave a thumbs-up. “A fine stay-upper, I do call it!”Bookmark here

Lumpy raised his eyebrows. He watched his friend take the long plunge from a levelheaded person to a love-struck chump. It was to be expected, though, and Lumpy was used to this side coming out when Rover was exposed to feminine cuteness.Bookmark here

But…Bookmark here

Something is different this time, Lumpy thought. Rover’s reaction is exaggerated compared to usual.Bookmark here

“Hey, Rover,” Lumpy said, throwing his pal a lifeline. “Let’s see that new feature in Glove Alien Fight.”Bookmark here

Rover snapped back to reality. “Oh yeah, that’s right.”Bookmark here

“Wait until you see Rover in action,” Lumpy told Quinn. “He’s awesome at the game! If video game skills could be measured, Rover’s level cap is busted!”Bookmark here

Quinn smiled. “I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like you’re very talented, Rover.”Bookmark here

When Rover’s speech failed, Lumpy said, “The phrase ‘breaking the level cap’ means growing a character beyond the maximum level in a game, letting you achieve the ‘true’ maximum level. So yeah, Rover is quite talented. Ain’t that right, bud?”Bookmark here

Lumpy elbowed Rover’s ribs, dislodging the nervous boy’s words.Bookmark here

“Ha-ha! Y-Yeah, you could say so! All right…let’s do this.” The two boys started up Glove Alien Fight on their phones. “It’s supposed to be a player-versus-player feature, but how do you access it?”Bookmark here

“Hmm, I dunno,” Lumpy said, moving through the game’s menus. “There’s no notification. Maybe we have to find it somewhere in the game?”Bookmark here

After about twenty seconds of clueless gameplay, Rover looked at Quinn. She wasn’t playing and instead was browsing the PlayBastion IV games on Rover’s shelf by his TV, curiosity on her face. The game Per Sauna 5 was especially interesting to her for some reason. She could sense the funky anime vibe within its programming, and it stole her heart.Bookmark here

“Uh, h-hey,” Rover said to the girl. “Aren’t you gonna check out the new feature? Me and Lumpy are kinda stumped. We don’t know what the player-versus-player thing is about.”Bookmark here

“Well,” she said with a slight, embarrassed smile as she scratched her cheek with her index finger, “I don’t have a phone, tablet, or video game system to play it on. My phone isn’t a smartphone.”Bookmark here

Rover and Lumpy gawked at Quinn.Bookmark here

“What?” Rover asked in disbelief. “Then…how do you play it?”Bookmark here

“I don’t,” Quinn replied, shaking her head.Bookmark here

That statement made no sense.Bookmark here

Therefore, the two boys didn’t know what she had said. Her words, in that context, couldn’t be used together.Bookmark here

Rover began sweating again, this time more from confusion than hapless hormones.Bookmark here

“Then…how do you play it…?” he asked, desperate that the same question would spur a different answer.Bookmark here

“I don’t,” Quinn repeated with a smile so innocent that it overrode her impossible statement.Bookmark here

Perplexity socked Rover out of his cupid stupidity, turning him angry.Bookmark here

“There’s no way!” he shot back. “Playing an hour of Glove Alien Fight each day is mandatory by law!”Bookmark here

“I know,” Quinn said, hanging her head.Bookmark here

Rover glanced at Lumpy, but his friend’s concerned expression was zero help.Bookmark here

“If you can’t play it,” Rover said, looking right at Quinn, “then you’ll be…be…de-rationalized!”Bookmark here

Quinn grinned. “It’s no problem!”Bookmark here

“It’s a huge problem!!! Right, Lumpy?”Bookmark here

Lumpy nodded, seriously and indubitably in agreement. “A huuuge problem.”Bookmark here

“Listen,” Rover told Lumpy, “we need to buy Quinn a phone or tablet so she can log her one hour of gameplay today!”Bookmark here

“But I’m broke!” Lumpy protested. “I mean, she could just sign in on one of our phones. We already logged our hour today.”Bookmark here

“Oh. Good point.” Rover patted Lumpy’s shoulder, grinning. “You’re so smart, Lumpy!”Bookmark here

“Actually…” Quinn dropped her voice, tapping the tips of her index fingers together. “I’ve never played that game before.”Bookmark here

The boys did not digest what Quinn had said. They stared at her, their minds shutting down and rebooting to cope with the fact that Quinn had admitted to something that couldn’t be something at all.Bookmark here

Rover handed his phone to Quinn.Bookmark here

“Here, use my phone,” Rover said, his chest tight, watching the gorgeous girl take his phone from him. Her fingerprints were already contaminating his possessions, which was appealing for reasons he didn’t understand.Bookmark here

Quinn looked at Rover’s smartphone in her hands, the newest Yonkrin fonePod, unsure of what to say.Bookmark here

“But,” she said slowly, “…I don’t have an account for the game.”Bookmark here

Rover’s mind, already freshly rebooted from one inconceivable statement, was unable to discount this new piece of ludicrousness Quinn had tossed his way.Bookmark here

“You…don’t have…an account…?”Bookmark here

“No.” Quinn frowned. “Sorry for the misunderstanding.”Bookmark here

Rover and Lumpy could only stare—they weren’t prepared for this particular load of codswallop and malarkey.Bookmark here

“Lies!” Adele declared, pointing at Quinn.Bookmark here

“Ack!” Rover jumped from his sister’s appearance. “Where’d you come from, Adele?!”Bookmark here

“Zip yer trap, Big Bro.” Adele marched into the room, went right up to Quinn, and stood toe-t0-toe with her. “You’re lying about not playing Glove Alien Fight.”Bookmark here

Unfazed, Quinn said, “No, it’s the truth. I’ve never played it.”Bookmark here

Lies!” Adele declared again, stomping her feet like an orangutan doing a rain dance on sunbaked asphalt.Bookmark here

“Look…Quinn,” Rover said, “if it’s true that you’ve never logged the mandatory playtime, then…you probably wouldn’t be here right now…”Bookmark here

“But I am here,” Quinn replied, not sharing the confusion, her tone and mannerisms straightforward.Bookmark here

Rover, Lumpy, and Adele exchanged grimace-coated glances.Bookmark here

“So,” Lumpy said to Quinn, his eyes widening with curiosity, “does that mean you’ve been…de-rationalized?”Bookmark here

Everyone stared at her, fascinated and awestruck.Bookmark here

But Quinn smiled. “I’m familiar with that term, but I don’t know what that means.”Bookmark here

“How can we be sure if you haven’t?” Adele pressed with half-lidded eyes. “How do we recognize a de-rationalized person?” She glared at Quinn with a frown so big it hurt her mouth and cheeks. “Big Bro, you let this intruder into our home, and now you’re accepting her lies at face value!” She grit her teeth, looking at Rover. “You really did fall outta the Idiot Tree and hit every branch on the way down!”Bookmark here

Rover shied away. “I…missed a few branches, thank you very much…”Bookmark here

(Fun fact: the Idiot Tree is a real tree in Thugwood, notorious for zapping the IQ out of anyone who fails to climb it without injury…according to rumors on the Craddit forum website.)Bookmark here

“But Quinn,” Lumpy argued, “the Thugforce Militia would be all over you! There’s no way you can get away with not logging the daily gameplay, because CEO Claudius has access to our save data in the Claudius Cloud! I don’t know what de-rationalization means, but I know the Thugforce Militia is authorized to arrest anyone who doesn’t meet the gameplay quota.”Bookmark here

“Lumpy and Adele are both right,” Rover told Quinn. “It’s really hard to believe you for those reasons.”Bookmark here

However, Quinn grinned with her hands on her hips. Her courageousness blinded out the bleakness of doubt bombarding her.Bookmark here

“Have no fear!” she told them with such confidence that the room’s soul shook. “I haven’t been arrested because…I’M FAR TOO SUPER AWESOME TO BE CAUGHT!!!”Bookmark here

Such radiance! Such heartiness! Quinn dominated the atmosphere without needing proof supporting her intrepid statement. She embedded her truth into the hearts, minds, and even the spleens of Rover, Lumpy, and Adele, leaving them in a stupor.Bookmark here

After the echo and aura of Quinn’s announcement subsided, Rover was the first to regain his ability to talk, loosening his clenched fists.Bookmark here

“You’re being serious,” he said, looking at the grinning, valiant Quinn. “But you should’ve asked someone to help you get a phone or something to play the game. There are a lot of services to help with that because of CEO Claudius’ law, and it’s gotta be easier to just play the game…instead of running from the law.”Bookmark here

“C-C-Criminal!” Adele sputtered, horrified that a lawbreaking person was in her home.Bookmark here

Quinn sighed and shook her head. “It’s okay if you think ill of me. It’s true that I’m breaking the law, and I’m doing so of my own volition.” She looked at Rover with total resolve. “I choose not to play the game.”Bookmark here

“Why would you choose that?” Rover asked Quinn, studying her. “Especially because you know it’s illegal if you don’t.”Bookmark here

Quinn nodded, somewhat meek, but not quite embarrassed. “I have my reasons.”Bookmark here

“Such as?” Rover asked.Bookmark here

She shrugged. “I’m too good for CEO Claudius and his law.”Bookmark here

More stares.Bookmark here

“Uh…” Adele shivered and turned to Rover. “…Is outspoken defiance against the leader a crime?”Bookmark here

After some thought, Rover answered, “I believe it is treason.”Bookmark here

Criminal!” Adele shouted.Bookmark here

*KABOOM!!!*Bookmark here

An explosion outside rattled the house.Bookmark here

“Wahh!” Rover cried. “I recognized that kaboom! The damn paint immobilizer blew up again!”Bookmark here

Adele grabbed her head. “Not again! We told Dad that duct tape won’t work forever!”Bookmark here

“The paint immobilizer?” Quinn put her finger on her chin, then smiled when she realized something. “Oh! Is that what was smoldering on the side of the house when I got here?”Bookmark here

“And you didn’t tell us?!” Rover barked.Bookmark here

“Hee-hee! Silly me.”Bookmark here

Flinging his bedroom door open, Rover shouted, “Adele! Get the fire extinguisher!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah!”Bookmark here

“Leave it to me!” Quinn told them, raising her hand with a big grin. “I’ll take care of this no problem!”Bookmark here

Without hesitation, Quinn opened Rover’s second-floor window and, with peculiar springiness in her knees and ankles, hopped out onto the roof.Bookmark here

“Hey!” Rover ran to the window to see the girl jump off the roof down to the front yard. “C’mon! Let’s get out there!”Bookmark here

He, Adele, and Lumpy dashed down the stairs and out the front door. Around the corner, they saw the damaged side of the house, the burning grass, and the charred tree, all the result of the exploded appliance.Bookmark here

More importantly, they saw Quinn elbow-deep in the paint immobilizer unit (which resembled a central air conditioning unit) as it shot flames and sparks in every direction.Bookmark here

Quinn!!!” Screaming was all Rover could do as Adele and Lumpy were too horrified to act.Bookmark here

The girl pulled the defunct unit away from the house, cutting the electrical supply by tearing it from the cement foundation it was bolted into, and she ripped it apart with a single motion, scattering the fiery components to break up the flames.Bookmark here

“No way!” Lumpy gasped, watching Quinn. “That’s impossible!”Bookmark here

*Kerrr-rAAAKKKkkkk!*Bookmark here

Heavy splintering sounds cut through the air. The tall tree that had been damaged by the explosion began to lean and fall toward the Chork’s house. As if anticipating it, Quinn leapt up close to the top of the tree (which was taller than the two-story house), and she smacked it aside as easily as spiking a volleyball. The tree trunk snapped along the damaged part near the bottom and crashed into the front yard, harming nothing but the dirt and grass.Bookmark here

Rover’s, Adele’s, and Lumpy’s jaws were already on the ground before Quinn’s feet were.Bookmark here

Quinn brushed the soot off herself with a relieved smile. Under different circumstances, Rover would have welcomed the burnt holes in the girl’s shirt providing a sneak peek of her bra underneath…but his cowering libido was indisposed at the moment. He huddled with his friend and his sister, stepping backward as Quinn approached them with a bubbly expression.Bookmark here

“Looks like everyone and everything is shipshape!” she chortled. “But you’re gonna need a new paint immobilizer before all the paint melts off your house.”Bookmark here

“HOW?!?” Rover’s outburst made Lumpy and Adele jump away from him. “You…just…BLARRGGHH!!! What’d you do?!”Bookmark here

“She’s like a god!” Lumpy fell into a shaky, kneeling position before Quinn. “You’re a goddess!”Bookmark here

Adele followed Lumpy’s lead, falling to her knees as well. “Please forgive me, almighty criminal goddess! Find it within your treasonous righteousness to forgive my mean and true words against you!”Bookmark here

Quinn blushed.Bookmark here

“No, I’m not a goddess!” she said bashfully. “I’m just a Quinn.”Bookmark here

Rover gaped at the unbelievable girl…the unremarkable Quinn Integrity, stumbling toward her.Bookmark here

“You really don’t think anything special of what you just did??? You didn’t get burned or shocked from the paint immobilizer! You ripped it out of the cement it was bolted into!” He waved his frenetic finger at the fallen tree. “You slapped a tree aside like a volleyball!!!”Bookmark here

Quinn’s soft mulberry eyes sparkled.Bookmark here

“Thank you for your praise,” she replied with a humble bow. “I always try hard. It makes for epic results, if I say so! Hee-hee-hee!”Bookmark here

“Duuuude…” Lumpy’s eyes were bugged out and mouth hung open. “Wouldn’t you say—?”Bookmark here

“I know what you’re thinking, Lumpy…” Rover cut him off, making eye contact with his friend, sharing the same bewildered facial expression.Bookmark here

As if on cue, Rover and Lumpy looked back at Quinn and said in unison, “Level cap: BUSTED!!!”Bookmark here

Feeling touched, Quinn blushed and smiled.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 666Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}38,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

Anti-Grav Skateboard… {T}499,999Bookmark here

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Gloves… KnittedBookmark here

Armor… Brick JacketBookmark here

Acc. 1… Yeet-Line SkatesBookmark here

Acc. 2… Farm Equipment
Jio Kurenai
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