Chapter 9:

Vol. 1, Ch. 9: The Highest Stakes for Maximum Epicness

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

*WHAM!*Bookmark here

The Super Club members entered the club penthouse after school on Thurdur-day, stepping past the kicked-in door lying flat on the carpet. Quintegrity promptly repaired the replaceable deadbolt, having the automatic vacuum cleaner suck up the extra dust and debris.Bookmark here

“Good job, Ryuumba-chan!” she said, petting the little vacuum before it scurried back to the doghouse in the living room. “All right, team. The first order of business is to brainstorm the Super Club’s next fundraiser. The chocolate fundraiser Operation Chocolatier Action Punch is nearly over, so we need to start planning.”Bookmark here

Rover, Lumpy, and Adele made themselves comfortable on the couches around the sea-marble coffee table. Although they were in a luxurious setting, the school required the club to perform constructive tasks, so the members each held their own notebooks and writing utensils—this was still work, after all.Bookmark here

Quintegrity stood by the coffee table as she addressed her members.Bookmark here

“I’ll let you three decide what kind of fundraiser it’ll be,” she continued with zest. “Also, we need to decide where the proceedings will go.”Bookmark here

Lumpy raised his hand. “The money we raise goes to the school, right?”Bookmark here

“It can,” Quintegrity replied, “but, as the Super Club, we have full control over our income. We can pocket every thuggoon for ourselves if we desire!”Bookmark here

The prospect of money made Adele fuzzy inside. “No way… We can keep it all???” She rubbed her greedy palms together, snickering.Bookmark here

“Easy there, killer,” Rover told his sister, worried about the evil gleam in her eyes. He put his pen to his notebook. “Okay, let’s list off our options.”Bookmark here

A few minutes into the session, the doorbell rang. Quintegrity hopped up from her cushy chair.Bookmark here

“A visitor! I wonder if a student has a request or a bone to pick.”Bookmark here

“Let’s hope it’s the former,” Rover said.Bookmark here

Quintegrity strode to the door, unlocked the deadbolt, and met the guest with a robust greeting.Bookmark here

“Hi there, Graphite!”Bookmark here

Rover scowled. “Damn, it’s the latter.”Bookmark here

Graphite Condor entered the penthouse, wearing a serious face that amplified his pencil lead-colored eyes. He looked at the three Super Club members sitting in the open living room, giving Rover an especially curt and crass glance.Bookmark here

Rover scoffed, twirling the pen in his hand. “You come to lose more items in Glove Alien Fight?”Bookmark here

Furrowing his brow, Graphite said, “Actually, I’m here to request the services of the Super Club.”Bookmark here

“Certainly!” Quintegrity hopped onto her chair, crouching on the cushion with her knees pulled to her body. “Have a seat. Would you like some sparkling tea?”Bookmark here

“No thank you.” Graphite sat in the other chair identical to Quintegrity’s and faced the four members. “Actually, it is about Glove Alien Fight.”Bookmark here

Rover placed his notebook and pen on the sea-marble coffee table. He was intrigued by the solidity in Graphite’s tone—peculiar, serious behavior for a request involving something as menial as a video game…although it was the mandatory one.Bookmark here

The guest looked at Rover. “Have you played any more of the game’s player-versus-player mode?”Bookmark here

“No.” Rover shook his head. “It’s a lot of fun, but I haven’t bothered with it much.”Bookmark here

“Then I suggest you start making time for it,” Graphite said. “The competition between us the other day was significant for Thugwood, and I thought you should know.”Bookmark here

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

“It went viral. A lot of people posted a lot of videos online of that match. Because of it, a lot of people have been getting serious about Glove Alien Fight, but that’s not all.” He paused, looking at everyone. “Yesterday, I was contacted by a man named Benedict Torrent.”Bookmark here

“Benedict Torrent!” Rover’s eyes got wide. “He’s one of the most famous livestream hosts for video games.”Bookmark here

Graphite nodded. “He applauded me for my bravery of challenging you, which is neither here nor there, I suppose. Anyway, he wanted to help me because I’d lost.”Bookmark here

“What’d he do to help?” Lumpy asked, leaning into the conversation.Bookmark here

“He gave me a piece of info,” Graphite said. “Benedict Torrent, first of all, has logged more playtime in Glove Alien Fight than most people. Because of that, his character reached the highest level: nine hundred ninety-nine.”Bookmark here

Rover leaned back in his chair while thinking. “Then…nine hundred ninety-nine is the level cap.”Bookmark here

“That’s super impressive,” Adele told Graphite. “To think that someone is already maxed out…”Bookmark here

“Yes,” Graphite said with a nod, “but that’s not the important thing. He told me he acquired an item called ‘Special Number 1’ when he reached that level.”Bookmark here

Now Rover was all ears. “What’s it do?”Bookmark here

A smile crept onto Graphite’s lips.Bookmark here

“That’s where it gets interesting,” he said. “Although the Special Number 1 item couldn’t be used or equipped, it’s listed under the consumable items.”Bookmark here

“Meaning it’s key for something,” Rover said, crossing one leg over the other as he sat on the couch. “Maybe there’s some way to use it after certain conditions have been met—those kinds of things have happened in the game before. And, if it’s a consumable item, then it can be taken by someone who wins a player-versus-player match.”Bookmark here

“I think that’s exactly the point,” Graphite said. “The in-game description is ‘Collect all ten for a real cash prize, and Glove Alien Fight will proceed to the Next Phase.’” He dropped his voice, adding, “Ten people will need to reach level nine hundred ninety-nine, and then battle it out to acquire all ten Special Number items.”Bookmark here

“Whoa…” Adele’s money-grubbing smirk returned. “A real cash prize… I wonder how much it’ll be.”Bookmark here

“What I don’t understand,” Lumpy said, “is the part about Glove Alien Fight proceeding to the ‘Next Phase.’” He looked around at the others. “What’s that about?”Bookmark here

“No idea,” Graphite grumbled. “Benedict didn’t know what the Next Phase is.”Bookmark here

Rover stood up, pacing with his arms crossed. “I really wonder…if this has something to do with CEO Claudius’ broadcast the other day. Remember? When he announced the player-versus-player feature, he also said that if someone defeats him in the game, then the daily quota mandate will be lifted.”Bookmark here

“That’s right,” Lumpy pointed at Rover. “He did say that, and he said he’ll only accept challenges from people who have met the prerequisites, or something. That really might have something to do with the game moving to the Next Phase.”Bookmark here

“Yeah…” Rubbing his chin, Rover continued to pace. “From what this sounds like, CEO Claudius is providing incentives for people to get badass in the game, hoping someone will step up to challenge him and lift the mandate.” He bit his thumbnail with a firm expression on his face. “And I plan to be on the frontlines of that effort. To hell with the stupid daily quota.”Bookmark here

Adele shook her head. “But, that doesn’t make sense. Why would he egg us on to lift the mandate? Doesn’t he want everyone playing his favorite game every day? And why go through all this trouble just for him to play with other people? I bet thousands of people would want to challenge him right now, even just for fun.”Bookmark here

“Hmm, good point.” Rover stopped pacing, then looked at Quintegrity. “What do you think, Quintegrity?”Bookmark here

The boy saw his girlfriend staring at the floor while she remained crouched in her chair. She let go of her pants, which is when Rover realized she had been gripping them rather tightly.Bookmark here

Yet, her face lit up as she replied to Rover’s question.Bookmark here

“It’s a mystery, indeed!” she sang.Bookmark here

“Anyway,” Graphite continued, “this brings me to why I came here. I want to ask to team up with you guys.” He smirked, looking at the club members. “With the Super Club, we can take the ten Special Numbers for ourselves, and split the cash prize. We’ll be unstoppable!”Bookmark here

“Request denied!” Quintegrity declared, grinning. She stood up tall on the cushy chair, her hands on her hips, raining her gorgeously happy expression down on the crushed Graphite below.Bookmark here

“Wh-Why?!” Graphite stood and clenched his fists. “Denied?!”Bookmark here

“Because Rover will win that cash prize!!! And he ain’t splittin’ it with anyone! Unless he desires…”Bookmark here

Graphite grit his teeth as Rover chuckled.Bookmark here

“Thanks for the tip, Graphite,” he said with a smug smile. “You heard the girl, though.”Bookmark here

“Then…then…” Graphite shook with anger, trying to contain himself. “Just team up with me, anyway! It doesn’t have to be a Super Club request! I’m actually swallowing my pride and willing to put aside my jealousy! You’re the best Glove Alien Fight player I know, Rover! I need you…”Bookmark here

Rover thought about it for a moment, or at least pretended to.Bookmark here

“Nah.”Bookmark here

“WHAT?!? You petty little—”Bookmark here

“It’s settled, then!” Quintegrity leapt from her chair and landed on the floor, sending funky-vibe quakes through the carpet, up the walls, and around the ceiling. “Your request has been denied.” She tilted her head to the side with a giggle, holding her hands behind herself as if she was asking Graphite for an extra lollipop. “Now, is there anything else you need?”Bookmark here

Graphite hung his head and basically wept. “No…that was it…”Bookmark here

“In that case,” Quintegrity told him, “we’ll be resuming our Super Club duties. Sorry, but it’s a private session.”Bookmark here

The defeated boy dragged his feet toward the door. “Then I’ll be on my way…”Bookmark here

Before reaching the exit, Quintegrity approached him. She offered a paper cup with a plastic lid, gentle wisps of steam rising from the sip hole.Bookmark here

“Here.” Her voice was like soft silk against Graphite’s eardrums, her smile warmer than the cup she presented. “Take some sparkling tea. It’s my very own blend, and I want you to have some.”Bookmark here

The boy stared for a second, confused, but unable to turn down such a generous, sincere offer. He took the paper cup in both hands, feeling his soul heating up from his fingers until it reached his heart…and he hadn’t even tasted the tea yet.Bookmark here

“Uh, thank you,” he told her with a small smile.Bookmark here

“Feel free to ask if you have any other request for the Super Club.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I will.”Bookmark here

Graphite closed the door behind him, and Quintegrity locked the deadbolt. The penthouse sank into a less-than-peaceful quietness.Bookmark here

“Soooo…” Adele attempted to break the awkward silence. She put her pen to her notebook. “Fundraiser?”Bookmark here

However, as soon as Rover sat back down on the couch, he got on his phone to do some internet searches.Bookmark here

“Benedict Torrent, eh?” he muttered, looking at his phone. A few searches showed Rover the results he’d been looking for. “Aha! Check this out.” He held up his phone for the others to see the screen. “He does livestream video game stuff online, and has other videos and blogs all centered on games.”Bookmark here

“Your point?” Adele asked, impatient.Bookmark here

“Two points,” Rover replied. “For one, he’s a very skilled gamer, so beating him in a Glove Alien Fight match for that Special Number item will be tough. Secondly, he’s doing a Q&A session right now for fans to call in and talk, so it should be easy to contact him and see if Graphite is full of taco turds about these Special Numbers.”Bookmark here

Lumpy searched for the livestream session on his phone. “I’m checking out his Q&A session now.”Bookmark here

Sure enough, there was a live video of Benedict Torrent taking calls and answering fans. He was a skinny guy in his early thirties wearing a baggy, bright polo shirt with big glasses and even bigger headphones over his neat, beach-colored hair.Bookmark here

A phone number was provided in the video’s description, and Rover immediately called it, watching Benedict on Lumpy’s phone.Bookmark here

Within a few rings, there was an answer.Bookmark here

“Thank you for calling Torrential Talk! You are live!!!”Bookmark here

“Holy crap, I got through!” Rover was surprised, letting his excitement slip for the hundreds of livestream viewers to hear.Bookmark here

“I would say crap isn’t anything less than utterly holy,” Benedict chuckled.Bookmark here

“Huh? O-Oh, I get it! Ha! Ha-ha-ha!” Rover began to sweat. “I’ve never been on a show before… This is crazy!”Bookmark here

“All righty then,” Benedict said, “I’m answering each callers’ three questions. What secrets do you want me to spill?”Bookmark here

Raising an eyebrow at the live video, Adele said, “This guy has balls to be doing this in front of a live audience. Or just dumb.”Bookmark here

Rover took a deep breath. “I heard a rumor just now, and I wanna confirm it with you. Is it true that you obtained a special item when you reached level nine hundred ninety-nine in Glove Alien Fight?”Bookmark here

Benedict froze for a second, as if in thought, then smiled with an airy chuckle.Bookmark here

“Indeed, it’s true,” he answered confidently. “Not only did I learn that that is the game’s level cap, but I was rewarded with something unexpected. Just a moment, I’ll show you.”Bookmark here

Rover, as well as the other few hundred viewers, focused on the livestream video, watching Benedict Torrent bring up Glove Alien Fight on his tablet. After a moment, he held the tablet up to the camera.Bookmark here

There, at the bottom of the consumable item list, was the Special Number 1 item. Its in-game description was just as Graphite had said.Bookmark here

“Apparently,” Benedict said, still holding the tablet to the camera, “when a person reaches the maximum level in Glove Alien Fight, they get one of these Special Numbers, but only the first ten people. As a consumable item, they can change hands among players through winning the AR matches.”Bookmark here

“Yeah…that’s what I was told.”Bookmark here

The number of viewers watching the video was indicated at the bottom of the screen, and that number had nearly doubled before Benedict pulled the tablet away from the camera.Bookmark here

Rover sure had a knack for creating viral content.Bookmark here

Benedict smiled. “I think it’ll make things super interesting in Glove Alien Fight! Don’t ya think?” He reached off camera, seemingly tinkering with something that nobody could see before resuming the session. “All right, two more questions!”Bookmark here

“Well…” Rover took another deep breath and boldly clenched his fist. “Will you challenge me to a match in Glove Alien Fight?!”Bookmark here

Lumpy and Adele were stunned. They looked at each other.Bookmark here

“But, Rover,” Lumpy hissed, “your character’s level isn’t close to maximum!”Bookmark here

With a quiet laugh, Benedict turned his gaze off-camera toward where he’d reached just seconds ago. He nodded, a firm smile on his face as he sighed.Bookmark here

“Well, well, well,” he finally said. “It seems your voiceprint matches the voiceprint of one of the competitors in those popular videos of an AR match. I’d spoken with Graphite yesterday, so I suspected it was you, Rover Chork.”Bookmark here

Rover’s breath seized, and he stared at Lumpy’s phone, at the sly smirk on Benedict’s face.Bookmark here

“What kind of call-screening tech does this dude have?” Adele asked, her hands on her hips.Bookmark here

Quintegrity looked at Rover, and she could see how being called out only spurred him on as he replied with his own smug grin.Bookmark here

“Yup,” Rover said, “seems like the polecat is out of the bag.”Bookmark here

“Then the answer is no,” Benedict replied.Bookmark here

Hey!”Bookmark here

“After analyzing the troves of footage between your match with Graphite Condor,” Benedict continued, leaning back in his gaming chair and adjusting the massive headphones on his beachy head, “I’ve concluded that you’re a hell of a Glove Alien Fight player. Your wits are quick and your control over your in-game avatar is amazing. Because of that, if I were to face you in an AR Glove Alien Fight match…we’d need the highest stakes for maximum epicness. That way, my viewers will get some major entertainment!”Bookmark here

Rover clicked his tongue in frustration, watching the number of viewers for this livestream video continually skyrocket. For sure, Benedict Torrent was riling up his fanbase.Bookmark here

I should’ve known something like this would happen, Rover thought. This is a show I’m on, after all.Bookmark here

“Therefore,” Benedict added, “I’ll only accept your challenge under certain circumstances.”Bookmark here

“Then,” Rover said, hesitant, knowing he was backed into a corner, “what are those circumstances?”Bookmark here

“There are three,” Benedict answered. “First, you must be at level nine hundred ninety-nine in Glove Alien Fight so it’ll be equal. Second, you must also possess at least one of the Special Numbers to make things more high-risk. Third, because this basically acts as my livestreaming business doing you a service of exposure within the gaming community”—he paused, nonchalantly picking his fingernails as if he wasn’t on camera— “I’ll need one hundred thousand thuggoons.”Bookmark here

“Say what?!” Rover shouted into the phone. “I gotta pay you to do this?”Bookmark here

“Ooh, sorry.” Benedict obviously feigned the apology. “But you already had your three questions answered. Thank you for calling, Rover. I’ll leave this deal open exclusively for you, but only for a limited time before I accept the challenge from somebody else. I hope to hear from you again.”Bookmark here

The phone call ended as Benedict answered the next call. Lumpy stopped the video, watching Rover squeeze his phone and stare at the carpet.Bookmark here

“Quintegrity,” Rover said, not looking up.Bookmark here

“Rover!” she replied with an innocent smile that suggested she didn’t know what the hell was happening.Bookmark here

“I have an idea for the Super Club’s next fundraiser.” Rover leaned back on the couch, a huge sneer stretching across his face. “Let’s raise enough money for me to whoop Benedict Torrent’s ass at Glove Alien Fightin front of his entire fanbase!”Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 689Bookmark here

All Money… {T}35,000Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}35,000Bookmark here

Fundraiser… {T}0Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

Benedict’s Payment… {T}100,000Bookmark here

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

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Gloves… ButlerBookmark here

Armor… Ape Laser ArmorBookmark here

Acc. 1… Yeet-Line ChucksBookmark here

Acc. 2… Farm EquipmentBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.