Chapter 4:

Vol. 1, Ch. 4: Limits Are for Babies!

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

The Icarus Centre in Southbound Thugwood was a bustling shopping district with an overactive nightlife and hyper highway system. Frequent motorcar accidents and traffic congestion resulted in hundreds of auxiliary roads and bypasses being constructed, turning the district into a chaotic paradise for shoppers who were bored of safe, practical trips to the market.Bookmark here

It was here where Adele had arranged for the meetup with Quinn Integrity. She exited the bus with Rover and Lumpy, and they stood on the sidewalk by the busy street.Bookmark here

“She’s waiting in front of the Nu Clear R-Cade,” Adele said while in the middle of a text message frenzy with Rover’s girlfriend. Her texting skills had gotten her far in last year’s AthletaCom—now she could probably defeat the champion of text messages (a thirteen-year-old girl named Fleetalynn Bergcrag from Thugwood’s Westnook Prefecture).Bookmark here

Rover cleared his throat. “Ahem. Adele…shouldn’t I be the one communicating with my girlfriend to set up this arrangement?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’re right.” Adele pocketed her phone. “That way you could not set up an arrangement with her, and sit on your butt at home while drooling and staring at your TV that was off.”Bookmark here

“That’s not—” Rover hesitated. “Yeah…good point.”Bookmark here

“Also,” Lumpy added with a smirk, “you seem comfortable calling Quinn your ‘girlfriend’ now. Didn’t take long.”Bookmark here

Steam shot from Rover’s ears. “I’m perfectly c-comfortable with it.”Bookmark here

When they approached the Nu Clear R-Cade, Quinn was nowhere to be seen. They stopped by the entrance and looked around.Bookmark here

“Didn’t you say she was already here?” Lumpy asked, failing to find the girl amid the flocks of pedestrians.Bookmark here

“That’s what her texts said,” Adele replied, scrolling through her phone’s message history.Bookmark here

Found you!” Quinn landed behind Rover and hugged him from behind. She spun him around and beamed at his sweaty face. “I couldn’t resist hiding and ambushing you. Hee-hee!”Bookmark here

Seeing Rover stiff as a board, Lumpy spoke for him. “Do you always ambush your dates?”Bookmark here

“This is actually my first date,” Quinn replied, hugging Rover again before releasing him, “but I can always do this from now on if you want, Rover.”Bookmark here

Utter fear gripped Rover from inside, rendering his bones frozen.Bookmark here

Say something! His mind screamed at himself. The hard part’s over! Just talk to her!!!Bookmark here

“Hi.” It was a start.Bookmark here

“Hi!” Quinn replied with a bright smile.Bookmark here

Lumpy faked a cough.Bookmark here

“Ah, yeah!” Rover swallowed his nervousness, but his jelly legs still jiggled. “Uh…I r-really don’t w-wanna be ambushed like that.”Bookmark here

Quinn giggled. “I figured.” She repeatedly snapped her fingers in time, doing a slight bob from side to side, as if ready to break into a song. “Soooo…whatcha wanna do, Rover? It’s our first date!”Bookmark here

Lumpy painfully watched his friend struggle with conversation. Adele snickered, thinking it was awesome.Bookmark here

“Well…” Rover looked at the arcade entrance. “Let’s go in here. Umm…they have a pretty cool snack bar that has slushies and ice cream, and we can hang out there if you don’t wanna play any games.”Bookmark here

“That sounds delicious!” Quinn replied. “And it’d be a good idea if I don’t play the games. I’ll snap the joysticks right off! Heh-heh!”Bookmark here

She mimed the snapping of a joystick with her hand. The expression she wore was a little menacing.Bookmark here

Adele whispered to Lumpy, “Is she a bonehead?”Bookmark here

Lumpy shrugged.Bookmark here

Still bobbing rhythmically left and right, Quinn held her hands behind her back.Bookmark here

“Before we go in, I have one thing I want to ask you,” she said to Rover. In fact, she seemed somewhat timid. “…It’s weird, though.”Bookmark here

“What is it?” Rover asked.Bookmark here

“Because we’re dating now…I want you to call me ‘Quintegrity.’”Bookmark here

Staring at her, Rover said, “‘Quintegrity’?”Bookmark here

“Mm-hmm.”Bookmark here

“Uh, okay. But why?”Bookmark here

“It’s a portmanteau of my first and last names,” the girl said.Bookmark here

“I get that,” Rover replied, scratching his head, “but why?”Bookmark here

“Pleeeease? It’s something I’ve always imagined my ‘special somebody’ would do.”Bookmark here

“Your s-special s-somebody…” Rover’s jelly legs jiggled again. However, when he looked into his girlfriend’s eyes, he saw she was serious and hopeful.Bookmark here

The lion in the boy’s heart awoke. His legs stopped shaking as he poised his next sentence.Bookmark here

“Very well, Quintegrity!”Bookmark here

Yay!”Bookmark here

Rover had expected the joyous response, but was not ready for the hug. He was not ready for the warm softness pressing into him as his heavy breathing kicked in.Bookmark here

“Ahh…gaahh…haaa…”Bookmark here

Rover’s loss for words was short-lived as he noticed a group of four teenagers walking toward him. He recognized them from school, collecting his composure in a heartbeat as he instantly understood what was coming:Bookmark here

A fight.Bookmark here

Quintegrity released her hug, sensing the tension of opposition in her boyfriend, and she looked at the group of other teenagers.Bookmark here

One of the approaching boys stepped up to Rover, wearing a grimace of disgust. He had hayfield hair and graphite-toned eyes…eyes that he was named after.Bookmark here

“Rover Chork,” the boy said, his hands in his jeans pockets.Bookmark here

“Graphite Condor,” Rover replied.Bookmark here

Lumpy clenched his fists and bared his teeth at Graphite and his lackeys.Bookmark here

“Um, Lumpy…?” Adele was worried by Lumpy’s reaction—the boy never showed such animosity. “Who are they?”Bookmark here

“The competition,” Lumpy replied in a low voice.Bookmark here

Graphite Condor spit out his bubblegum at Rover’s feet and stared at him. “What are you doing here?”Bookmark here

A smirk cracked on Rover’s lips. “I’m here with my girlfriend.” You can bet he was proud of dropping that statement.Bookmark here

Looking at Quintegrity, Graphite was taken by surprise. “Qu-Quinn Integrity?! You scored the legendary babe?!” The other three in his group gawked, as well.Bookmark here

“Watch what you say about her!” Rover growled.Bookmark here

However, Quintegrity’s face lit up.Bookmark here

“Aww…I’m a legend?” she cooed. With her hands on her hips, she laughed out loud. “I always try my bestest! It seems my hard work is actually appreciated!” She looked at Rover and blushed, making him blush with thrice the embarrassment. “I’m so happy my effort isn’t going to waste, and is contributing to people’s happiness…”Bookmark here

Her little dance moves became more emphasized, swaying her hips while snapping her fingers louder.Bookmark here

“Huh?” Graphite didn’t understand Quintegrity’s response, so he focused back on Rover. “Whatever. Seeing we’re here, let’s get down to business!”Bookmark here

“State your bullshit, Graphite,” Rover grunted.Bookmark here

Glove Alien Fight has that new player-versus-player feature.” Graphite brandished his smartphone. “I challenge you to a duel!”Bookmark here

Rover made eye contact with Quintegrity. She’d stopped dancing, curious as to what Rover’s reaction would be.Bookmark here

This is my chance to prove to Quintegrity what I can do…and to put Graphite in his place.Bookmark here

Smirking, Rover turned to his challenger. “You know what happens to the loser, right?”Bookmark here

“Other than public humiliation?” Graphite raised his voice, deliberately drawing the attention of the crowd—they’d yet to see such a blatant public standoff with Glove Alien Fight’s new feature.Bookmark here

Lumpy and Adele glanced around, seeing people congregating. Excited whispers flittered among the spectators.Bookmark here

“I see you haven’t read the rules.” Rover yanked his smartphone from his pocket and twirled it in his hand. “The winner receives some hefty experience points and coins. Not surprising. However, that’s not all.” His cocky grin widened at his opponent. “The winner also takes all the consumable items in the loser’s inventory.”Bookmark here

Graphite raised an eyebrow, staring at Rover. “I don’t believe you.”Bookmark here

“Take a look in the manual,” Rover told him, loading Glove Alien Fight. “It’s all in there. I think the manual was updated when the game was updated.”Bookmark here

Taking a moment to read the rules of the player-versus-player feature on their phones, Graphite and his cronies confirmed Rover’s words.Bookmark here

The crow-haired, dark-skinned, ninja-looking girl in Graphite’s group wore a worried expression…as well as an ensemble of belts comprising over seventy percent of her clothes. Her name was Tallyhawk Kusumegido.Bookmark here

“Hey, Graphite,” she said, lowering her phone, “are you sure this is what you wanna do? It’s one thing to lose a battle and not get anything…but to lose all of your consumable items…”Bookmark here

Graphite grunted at her. “I understand the risk, Tallyhawk.”Bookmark here

“Just remember,” Rover added, messing with his character’s weapon, armor, and accessories on his phone, “you won’t lose your equipment or accessories, but all of your in-game potions, ammunition, tax fraud vouchers, baits, lock picks, desserts, monster feces, and such are collateral.” He gazed over the top of his smartphone, satisfied with his character’s battle configurations. “Are you willing to put all that on the line?”Bookmark here

Graphite gritted his teeth. “I-I said I challenge you, Rover.” He looked around, seeing the growing crowd that he’d purposely attracted was recording the encounter on dozens of phones—public humiliation would indeed still be a result of failure. “I’m not backing down.”Bookmark here

“I ain’t so sure,” said the cross-eyed boy in Graphite’s group, Hodge Dipcringle. “It took you weeks to find those Bone-Lip Lures in the Bloodbean Forest…”Bookmark here

“And the Unicorn Dung Sushi in Curmudgeon’s Dungeon,” Tallyhawk chimed in.Bookmark here

“Shut up!” Graphite yelled. “I won’t lose! Even if it’s Rover Chork.” He scowled at his opponent. “No…especially because it’s him.”Bookmark here

With some taps on his phone screen, Graphite commenced the setup for the player-versus-player battle. Watching their phone screens, Rover and Graphite were surprised to see their in-game character avatars projected into the real-world environment.Bookmark here

“Whoa, augmented reality!” Rover moved his phone around, seeing some of the game’s elements displayed around him.Bookmark here

“Ha-ha!” Lumpy looked at Rover’s and Graphite’s avatars through his phone, both standing one metre tall. “I didn’t know the new feature included AR!”Bookmark here

A three-option roulette appeared on their screens, quickly toggling through “Deathmatch,” “Ring Finder,” and “Strongest Hero.”Bookmark here

“Seems like the match type is random,” Rover said as the roulette slowed down.Bookmark here

“That’s lame,” Graphite muttered as the “Ring Finder” option was selected and the instructions were presented. “So…we gotta find the gold rings, and the player with the most rings in the 40-minute time limit wins? That’s super lame!”Bookmark here

Lumpy and Adele received a notification on their phones from Glove Alien Fight. In fact, every bystander received it.Bookmark here

“It’s asking us to participate?” Adele selected “Yes” on her phone with a smirk. “Sure, I’ll see what’s up.”Bookmark here

“Me too,” Lumpy said, opting in as well.Bookmark here

Rover and Graphite saw the “Ring Hiders” number on their phone screens increase as more bystanders chose to participate. As each person did so, their in-game avatars were also displayed in the AR environment.Bookmark here

“The Ringer Hiders each get one ring.” Rover read the onscreen instructions aloud, assuming Graphite was too dumb to do so. “They have two minutes to choose the locations. When placed, the rings will be invisible to us, and we’ll need to use our characters’ Clairvoyant Radar to guide us to them.”Bookmark here

Graphite chuckled. “Excellent. My Clairvoyant Radar is maxed out. This’ll be easy!”Bookmark here

Not saying anything, Rover sneered in response.Bookmark here

My Clairvoyant Radar is only level six out of ten. This is gonna be tough…Bookmark here

Lumpy watched as his avatar had a gold ring appear in its hands—a fat, dull, somewhat irregular gold ring.Bookmark here

“Huh?” He looked closer at the virtual object. “It looks…like a bagel.”Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Adele added, looking at the one her avatar held. “I was expecting something shiny and pretty, like the ones from Chronic the Sledgehog.”Bookmark here

In total, thirty-one spectators opted in as Ring Hiders. After a quick countdown, each Ring Hider ran off in different directions, chasing their own avatars through the real world to deposit their gold rings in various places.Bookmark here

“This is annoying,” Lumpy grumbled, following behind his avatar and watching it through his phone. “You can’t actually see where you’re going unless you go with your character and watch it through an AR-capable device.”Bookmark here

A car honked its horn as another Ring Hider dove out of the way of traffic, having followed his avatar into the street.Bookmark here

Lumpy’s eyebrow twitched. “And, uh…it’s dangerous, too…”Bookmark here

He had his character drop its ring in an alley, hiding it behind a salad dressing vending machine where it vanished from the phone screen. Seconds later, when his character’s Clairvoyant Radar pulsed, he caught a fleeting glimpse of the ring.Bookmark here

“I hope Rover doesn’t get beat,” he said to himself, looking down the alley toward the street. “Graphite said his Clairvoyant Radar was maxed out, meaning his character has the farthest possible detection range for hidden treasures.”Bookmark here

“You should have more faith in your friend!”Bookmark here

Lumpy jumped from fright as Quintegrity was suddenly directly next to him, being even sneakier than Adele.Bookmark here

Damn, she moved fast!Bookmark here

“It’s not like I don’t have faith in him,” Lumpy said, catching his breath from the shock. “Rover’s the best Glove Alien Fight player I’ve ever met. He’s completed tons of in-game missions recommended for players at higher levels who have more developed skills.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity smiled, her cheeks brightening. “Of course. I could tell he was far above average compared to other boys.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” Lumpy asked.Bookmark here

The radiant girl thought for a brief moment. “Well…I noticed it when he asked me out. He’s a cut above the rest! I just didn’t look into the details at first.”Bookmark here

Lumpy scratched his head. “I don’t follow… What are you, like a psychic, or something?”Bookmark here

She snorted with laughter. “No, you sillyhead! I’m just me!”Bookmark here

That statement hit Lumpy with a wave of delightful confidence, rendering him speechless. He stared as Quintegrity tapped her toes on the ground and snapped her fingers in a funky rhythm, doing a subtle dance.Bookmark here

“When he asked me out,” Quintegrity said dreamily, still grooving and swaying her hips, “I could already feel him inside me.”Bookmark here

“Uhhh…don’t word it like that in front of him,” Lumpy chuckled. “He’d…like, die. Come on, let’s go watch the match.”Bookmark here

“Yeah!”Bookmark here

Before following Lumpy out of the alley, Quintegrity looked at the spot where Lumpy’s character hid the ring, and she smiled.Bookmark here

4!4@4#4$4%4^4&4*4(4)4_4+4Bookmark here

Looks like I’ll need to adjust my settings. Rover went through his character’s equipment and configured his setup. This isn’t a normal battle, so I’ll trade the kick-butt stuff for speed and agility.Bookmark here

He equipped the Grand Shyster’s Shoes, which increased his character’s movement speed and jumping distance, but at the cost of lowering its defense—not being a battle, the defense stat was meaningless.Bookmark here

And to make up for my inferior Clairvoyant Radar, I’ll need something to boost my detection abilities.Bookmark here

With that, he equipped the Hound Doggo Shnozz, which boosted his Clairvoyant Radar by one point.Bookmark here

Graphite’s goofy guffawing made Rover’s skin crawl. “I bet you’re equipping the Hound Doggo Shnozz, Rover. For your information, so am I!” He tapped on his phone screen. “That puts my Clairvoyant Radar at level eleven out of ten. That’s practically omniscient treasure detection! I bet you didn’t think about going over the level cap.”Bookmark here

Level caps have actually been on my mind these past few days.Bookmark here

Rover bit his lip in contempt, but two arms wrapped around him as a heavenly softness pushed into his back. His every body hair stood on end to better detect the lush sensation.Bookmark here

“I know where a ring is,” Quintegrity whispered into Rover’s ear, overheating his brain with primal urges.Bookmark here

“Ahh…haahh….y-yeahh?” he stammered.Bookmark here

His girlfriend let go, giving him control of his body again. He turned to look at her.Bookmark here

“You’ll win this, no problem!” she told him, grinning big while pumping her fists into the air and holding a muscleman pose.Bookmark here

“Of course I’ll win this,” Rover replied, giving Graphite a dirty look.Bookmark here

The two-minute ring-hiding session ended, and a countdown started on Rover’s and Graphite’s screens. They clutched their phones, gearing up for the competition. Every spectator watched the AR through their phones and tablets—there were now far more people in the crowd than just the thirty-one Ring Hiders.Bookmark here

5…4…3…2…1…Bookmark here

START!Bookmark here

The crowd erupted into cheers and shouts.Bookmark here

“That alleyway down yonder!” Quintegrity pointed to where Lumpy had dropped his ring.Bookmark here

“Got it!”Bookmark here

As Graphite took off after his avatar in a different direction, Rover headed to the alley. He watched the digital character dart off.Bookmark here

“Dude!” Rover shouted, breaking into a sprint to follow the character through his phone’s AR. “This guy is fast! Faster than me!” He laughed. “I knew I got the right configuration.”Bookmark here

The Clairvoyant Radar pulsed, creating a vague compass-like indicator on Rover’s screen, pointing in the direction of each ring within range—the closer the ring, the clearer and brighter the indicator.Bookmark here

“It works just like in the original game,” Rover said, chasing after his avatar into the alley. The Clairvoyant Radar pulsed again and the ring flickered on the screen. “Here it is!”Bookmark here

His character ducked behind the salad dressing vending machine. When the character was close enough, the gold ring fully presented itself onscreen. Rover watched the avatar grab the bulky, irregular ring, split it in half, smear a creamy substance on both halves, and devour it with comically animated bites. Bookmark here

“It…really is a bagel,” Rover muttered.Bookmark here

The “Rings” counter on his screen changed to show he had one ring. He wheeled around and darted from the alley, meeting Quintegrity, Lumpy, and Adele.Bookmark here

“Thanks for the tip!” Rover said to his girlfriend. He stopped on the sidewalk, assessing the other rings’ locations as the Clairvoyant Radar pulsed again.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Lumpy said with a grin, “she must’ve seen me drop that ring there.” He gave a thumbs-up to Quintegrity. “Good lookin’ out!”Bookmark here

Quintegrity beamed with her hands on her hips. “I’m happy to help!”Bookmark here

“There’re a few over here.” Rover hurried down the sidewalk. “I gotta get ’em!”Bookmark here

Quintegrity watched her boyfriend take off. Seeing Graphite in the other direction, she skipped over to him through the crowd of spectators.Bookmark here

“Got another one!” Graphite said as his avatar devoured a gold bagel.Bookmark here

The cross-eyed boy chuckled. “With your level eleven Clairvoyant Radar, you can partially see the paths taken by the Ring Hiders. Your victory is guaranteed!”Bookmark here

That’s how it works, huh?” Quintegrity pushed her dazzling face in between Graphite and Hodge.Bookmark here

“Ack!” Graphite sputtered. “Where’d you come from?!”Bookmark here

Quintegrity looked at Graphite’s screen for a split second before the boy yanked it away from her gaze.Bookmark here

“Interesting,” she said, full of curiosity.Bookmark here

“Hey!” Graphite stuck his finger in Quintegrity’s face. “No screen peeking!”Bookmark here

The third lackey, Isho Eep, a bald meathead teen boy with a pierced lip, moved in front of Quintegrity.Bookmark here

“You can’t be relaying info back to the other player,” he grunted, crossing his arms.Bookmark here

However, Quintegrity giggled. “There’s nothing in the rules against that, though.”Bookmark here

“Th-That’s beside the point,” the meathead muttered. “It’s about sportsmanship. Know your limits, girlie.”Bookmark here

That was when Quintegrity laughed, and despite her snorts (which were actually adorable), the glow on her face and gorgeous smile dumbfounded the three boys. (Tallyhawk was also affected, making her question her own sexual orientation for more seconds than she had bargained for.)Bookmark here

“And that is our advantage!” Quintegrity declared, drawing the attention of every bystander as they recorded her through their phones’ or tablets’ AR-layered video recorders.Bookmark here

What’s your advantage?” Graphite demanded.Bookmark here

“The meathead telling me to know my limits,” she chortled.Bookmark here

Isho scowled. “M-Meathead…?”Bookmark here

The radiant girl laughed again and leapt at Graphite. Landing directly in front of him, she hunched over and pointed up at the boy, giving him a very distracting view down her shirt.Bookmark here

Her grin was a tad devious as she said, “Because…limits are for babies!!!”Bookmark here

Then she pranced off.Bookmark here

Graphite gaped for a moment, forgetting he was competing in a game.Bookmark here

“Dammit…” he growled, squeezing his smartphone. “How? How did Rover hook up with such a hot babe like her?!”Bookmark here

He turned toward his avatar and ran across the street, dodging a speeding Florist Delivery dozer.Bookmark here

4!4@4#4$4%4^4&4*4(4)4_4+4Bookmark here

“Five bagels down!” Adele cheered as Rover’s avatar scarfed down another gold ring. “I bet you’re doing this faster than that mongrel!”Bookmark here

“I’m sure I am.” Rover watched his onscreen ring-count indicator tick up another point. “It’d be nice if the game told me how many rings the opponent had,”—he clenched his fist with a cocky smirk— “but this makes it more thrilling! Mwa-ha-haaa!”Bookmark here

“I love how diabolical you get, dude,” Lumpy snickered, looking around through his phone’s AR. That was when he saw Quintegrity barreling toward them with a big smile on her cute face.Bookmark here

“Ahoy, Rover!” She wrapped her arms around Rover, making the boy shiver in ecstasy before she saluted him. “I bring recon!”Bookmark here

“Recon?” Rover asked.Bookmark here

“Down Jarepli Boulevard, there are four rings to the east and two to the west. And if you take Zooloo Street north, there are six more you can get to. All twelve of them are in or around the Icarus Centre’s open-air shopping mall.”Bookmark here

“That mall is practically a whole village by itself,” Lumpy chuckled. “It’s huge.”Bookmark here

Rover was skeptical. “How do you know, Quinn?”Bookmark here

“I have my ways.” She pointed to a horizontal flagpole jutting out of the building above the Nu Clear R-Cade entrance, displaying the flag for the arcade’s logo. “That flagpole is where I was hiding to ambush you. I’ll scurry back up and scout things out!”Bookmark here

“But…wait!” Rover called, but Quintegrity already took off.Bookmark here

“She’s a lunatic,” Adele muttered, watching the girl scale the side of the building like a lizard and perch atop the horizontal flagpole.Bookmark here

“Let her be,” Lumpy said. “She seems to be having fun.”Bookmark here

Lumpy and Adele followed Rover as they hurried to the corner of Jarepli Boulevard.Bookmark here

“If I get all those rings she mentioned,” Rover mused, looking up and down the street, “then I’ll have seventeen, more than half of the thirty-one total.” He nodded. “I think I know the fastest route.”Bookmark here

“How’d Quinn figure out where those rings are?” Lumpy asked.Bookmark here

“Screen peeking,” Adele replied. “I saw her seduce that mongrel to get a look at his phone. His Clairvoyant Radar is at level eleven, and Quinn must’ve seen the rings’ locations.”Bookmark here

“That’s kinda cheating, though,” Lumpy said, “but…the rules don’t say you can’t do it.”Bookmark here

“This could make interesting competitions,” Adele added. “I wonder if CEO Claudius intended for it to be like this…?”Bookmark here

Rover gazed up at his girlfriend still on the flagpole. She waved at him, and he waved back with a smirk.Bookmark here

“She’s a devious one, though,” Rover said, snickering. “Heh-heh…I like it.”Bookmark here

They hurried down Jarepli Boulevard as Quintegrity looked on.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 675Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}38,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

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

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Gloves… ButlerBookmark here

Armor… Brick JacketBookmark here

Acc. 1… Grand Shyster’s ShoesBookmark here

Acc. 2… Hound Doggo Shnozz
Jio Kurenai
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