Chapter 11:

Vol. 1, Ch. 11: Survival of the Most Badass

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

Gwoid Park was one of the many forgettable parks throughout Thugwood, complete with all of the obligatory features that parks come with: a children’s playground, a laser tennis court, a cricket palace, a concession booth, a grassy field, and a riverside dock (along the Megms River in this case).Bookmark here

Rover, Quintegrity, Lumpy, and Adele took the bus to the Gwoid Park stop. Through the bus window, Lumpy saw the congregation of people ready with their phones and tablets.Bookmark here

“There’s a crowd,” Lumpy told the others. “Looks like…um, about forty or fifty people. I know parks get crowded on weekends, but it’s only Feefee-day.”Bookmark here

“Should’ve known this would happen,” Adele said, looking at the eager bystanders.Bookmark here

“Hmph.” Rover shrugged, only glancing out the window.Bookmark here

Something soft and warm grabbed his hand. He looked at Quintegrity sitting next to him as she gave his fingers a gentle squeeze. When she brushed aside her rose petal lemonade hair, the boy made a connection with her soft mulberry eyes.Bookmark here

Sensing the spark from this connection, she said, “Don’t be scared, Rover!” There wasn’t a hint of worry in her consoling smile.Bookmark here

“I-I’m not scared.”Bookmark here

“You look nervous, though.” The girl pulled him closer, pressing her soft body against his arm.Bookmark here

That’s because you’re rubbing all up on me!!! Rover thought as his face got hot.Bookmark here

“I’m fine, really,” he told her, looking away.Bookmark here

She gripped his biceps. “Ooh…have you always been in this good of shape?”Bookmark here

“Uhh…”Bookmark here

Then she squeezed very, very hard.Bookmark here

Ow!”Bookmark here

“Mwa-ha-ha-haa! You’re still a softy, though.”Bookmark here

As soon as Rover, Quintegrity, Lumpy, and Adele got off the bus, they were approached by two teenagers they had never met before.Bookmark here

“Hey, it’s Rover Chork!” the tubby teen boy said. “We heard about your match against that belt-suited ninja chick, Tallyhawk, so we came all the way from Northish to check it out.”Bookmark here

Rover raised his eyebrows, somewhat surprised. “All the way from the Northish Prefecture to Southbound? That’s pretty far.”Bookmark here

The stick-necked teen patted his tubby buddy on the shoulder, saying, “We wanted to see you in action, Rover. Anything to get a glimpse of those crazy Glove Aliens you had.”Bookmark here

A group of all ages flocked up. Among them, minus the starstruck expression, was Tallyhawk Kusumegido. She walked up to Rover, her smartphone in her hand.Bookmark here

“You’re late,” she said, traces of a scowl on her face.Bookmark here

Rover glanced at the nearby street clock. “Meh, by less than ten minutes.” He started up Glove Alien Fight on his phone. “All the more reason to get this underway quickly, I guess.”Bookmark here

The bystanders activated their augmented reality functions on their devices, allowing them to see Rover’s and Tallyhawk’s game avatars projected in the environment. Rover held his breath as he watched the onscreen roulette toggle through “Deathmatch,” “Ring Finder,” and “Strongest Hero.”Bookmark here

“‘Ring Finder’ has been selected,” Tallyhawk said when the roulette stopped.Bookmark here

“Again, huh?” Rover mumbled. He heard the whispering chatter from the crowd. “There are a lot more people here for this match. I wonder how many Ring Hiders will participate this time.”Bookmark here

“We’ll see,” Lumpy said, tapping the “Yes” button on his phone screen to opt in as a Ring Hider. The bagel-like gold ring appeared in his avatar’s hands. “Anyway, I’ll just drop mine right here next to you.”Bookmark here

“We can’t,” Adele told him as she read the game instructions on her phone. “We can’t drop them within twenty metres of the players’ starting position.”Bookmark here

Lumpy sighed. “Sorry, man, I tried to make it easier for you.”Bookmark here

“It’s a good rule,” Rover replied, “otherwise it’d be too easy.”Bookmark here

Looking at his girlfriend, however, Rover thought of their trump card: Quintegrity could somehow see the AR elements without the proper technology.Bookmark here

The game developers didn’t want it to be too easy…but here I am with Quintegrity…and…Bookmark here

Oblivious to the unease in Rover’s mind, Quintegrity smiled at him, alleviating some of his doubt. While the onscreen number of Ring Hiders ticked up (over forty at this point), the girl moved closer to him.Bookmark here

She held his attention with her calming expression.Bookmark here

“You know,” she said in a delicate, soothing voice so only Rover could hear, “if people find out my secret, they’ll think you’re cheating.”Bookmark here

Rover’s lips pursed into a thin line. “Way to ease my worries.”Bookmark here

“You said on the bus you weren’t scared.”Bookmark here

“…That was on the bus…”Bookmark here

“You’ll do fine, babe.”Bookmark here

Cheating, huh? Rover opened his character’s equipment setup, seeing his Beelzebub Glove Aliens. People are gonna have their suspicions, no doubt.Bookmark here

Fifty-six Ring Hiders altogether joined in. Rover scanned the bystanders, trying to memorize as many of them as he could as the first countdown started. The crowd scattered as the fifty-six Ring Hiders chased after their avatars, Lumpy and Adele included. Both Rover and Tallyhawk kept their eyes on as many of them as possible, watching where they were going.Bookmark here

“Good luck, bud!” Lumpy called as he took off.Bookmark here

“Kick her butt, Big Bro!” Adele chimed in before dashing off in her own direction.Bookmark here

It seems pretty easy to rig these Ring Finder matches beforehand, Rover thought, taking a mental note of the Ring Hiders’ directions. If I got a group of supporters, we could determine the ring locations ahead of time, giving me an idea of what route to take when the match starts.Bookmark here

He looked at Tallyhawk, whose blank expression surveyed the area.Bookmark here

I don’t know anything about Tallyhawk’s character… She’s not a blabbermouth like Graphite, so I don’t know how her Clairvoyant Radar compares to mine. Since that last match, I only leveled mine up once, putting it at seven out of ten without the Hound Doggo Shnozz equipped, and level eight with it.Bookmark here

Quintegrity watched over Rover’s shoulder as he equipped his game character with equipment to boost his speed, dexterity, and clairvoyance. The carefree look on the girl’s face annoyed the boy more than it relaxed him.Bookmark here

“Just so you know,” he said to his girlfriend, “I don’t plan to show my Beelzebub Glove Aliens this time. We need to make sure to get as many rings as possible and avoid a tie, like last time. I don’t want another sudden death round again.”Bookmark here

“You can count on me!” she replied, standing tall and proud, thumping her chest once with her fist. She ran to a tall ashafras tree and climbed it with remarkable elegance and nimbleness, perching on the highest branch to get a look around.Bookmark here

Rover sighed.Bookmark here

Maybe her carefree outlook is something I could stand to learn…Bookmark here

“What is she doing?” Tallyhawk asked, looking at Quintegrity with suspicion.Bookmark here

Sneering, Rover replied, “Being my girlfriend.”Bookmark here

The belt-clad girl stared at Rover. “I think there’s more to it than that.”Bookmark here

“Our relationship is our own,” Rover told her with an upturned nose. “What it means for her being my girlfriend isn’t your business.”Bookmark here

Tallyhawk chuckled, running her hand through her crow-feathered hair and toying with her ear.Bookmark here

“It’s obvious that she’s checking things out for you,” she said, keeping her eyes on Rover. “Probably watching the Ring Hiders to tell you where they went.”Bookmark here

Rover didn’t say anything, only smiling and shrugging. He watched Quintegrity leap from the ashafras top branch, land on one foot, and point toward the children’s playground.Bookmark here

As the two-minute ring-hiding period came near the end, Rover and Tallyhawk readied themselves, watching the steady countdown to zero.Bookmark here

5…4…3…2…1…Bookmark here

START!Bookmark here

The remaining spectators cheered, and the match began.Bookmark here

As expected, Tallyhawk’s avatar headed in the direction where Quintegrity had pointed. Her avatar was fast, but not quite as fast as Rover’s. Immediately, Rover scrolled through his list of consumable items.Bookmark here

I only have one of these, he thought, selecting the item, so I gotta make it count!Bookmark here

Through her phone screen, Tallyhawk watched Rover’s character don a winged jetpack and a goose head helmet before it blasted off into the sky.Bookmark here

“Tch!” Tallyhawk clutched her phone with irritation. “He has a Goosepack!”Bookmark here

Rover sprinted after his soaring character, doing his best to control it from his disadvantageous position on the ground. His Clairvoyant Radar pulsed, indicating the vague whereabouts of many bagels, yet keeping track of that information was difficult while flying his goose-powered avatar.Bookmark here

Through his phone, he saw the first gold bagel on top of a slide and clumsily swooped his character down to nab it, making the character smash facedown into the ground. Although it quickly got back to its feet after a comical face-smash animation, Rover noticed some of his HP had been depleted due to the rough landing.Bookmark here

“Damn, that hurt me,” he grunted as he ran to catch up with the avatar. He controlled it to scamper up the slide where it munched on the bagel. “I still got it, though.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, Rover!” Adele cheered, having made it back from hiding her ring. The crowd of bystanders cheered as well.Bookmark here

Seeing Tallyhawk’s avatar lagging behind, Rover had his own avatar blast off again before he could catch up to it. Another radar pulse gave him a glimpse of a ring resting on top of the playground’s jungle gym, and he steered his flying character toward it.Bookmark here

It’s hard to steer the Goosepack from my perspective…but I think I got the hang of this now!Bookmark here

People watched the goose-powered character fly in a stable trajectory overhead, its honking heard through the dozens of phones and tablets tuned in to the event. Rover closed in on the next ring atop the jungle gym. His lungs warmed up as he sprinted, but his body didn’t feel tired, instead embracing the workout.Bookmark here

All that aggressive training in the pool is paying off…Bookmark here

Tallyhawk lagged behind her slower character, but her jogging pace prevented her from getting physically worn out. As she watched Rover’s avatar descend and cling to the side of the jungle gym, a rush of adrenaline pushed a grin onto her face.Bookmark here

She held her phone up with her finger ready to tap an onscreen button.Bookmark here

“Wait for it…” she said to herself.Bookmark here

With a closer view of his actions, Rover had his character climb up the jungle gym toward the ring. He wiped the sweat from his forehead as he kept running.Bookmark here

“Got you!” Tallyhawk shouted.Bookmark here

She tapped her phone screen. Her character stopped running, its hands sparking with electricity (indicating the Zappy Glove Aliens were equipped) before shooting a ball of glowing light straight into the sky.Bookmark here

In a second, a virtual lightning bolt struck the jungle gym. Although the real-life metal bars and poles didn’t conduct the AR lightning, Rover’s character was close enough to be blasted to the ground.Bookmark here

“Crap!” Rover saw the damage his character took to its HP. However, the true damage was the Paralysis status effect inflicted by the electrical attack. “My character’s paralyzed from that! It can’t move!”Bookmark here

Up close, Rover saw the tiny in-game object sticking up from the ground in the middle of the jungle gym—a Frightening Rod. After its one use, it disappeared.Bookmark here

He clenched his teeth, seeing Tallyhawk’s avatar leap onto the jungle gym and climb toward the gold ring. He glared at the crow-haired girl who wore a small smirk.Bookmark here

“You set this up ahead of time, didn’t you?” he snapped at Tallyhawk. “Whoever put that ring up there told you they were going to, and you knew to put your Frightening Rod there!”Bookmark here

Tallyhawk didn’t say anything, only shrugging and smiling, mimicking Rover’s smug response for her earlier accusation that Quintegrity was helping him locate rings.Bookmark here

11!11@11#11$11%11^11&11*11(11)11_11+11Bookmark here

Across Gwoid Park, a mustachioed man watched Rover’s avatar take the lightning hit. He had a novelty telescope held up to his phone’s camera, watching the augmented reality action from afar.Bookmark here

Laughing, he pulled his fake mustache off to readjust it, then toyed with the small communication device in his ear.Bookmark here

“Good call, Tallyhawk,” he said, adjusting the wig on his head. “Setting up those Frightening Rods and having us place the rings by them was a good idea.”Bookmark here

Tallyhawk’s voice came through the disguised guy’s earpiece. “It was as you suspected, Graphite. Rover’s girlfriend plays dirty…so we’re gonna do the same.”Bookmark here

“It ain’t dirty because it’s not against the rules,” Graphite replied, watching Tallyhawk’s avatar devour the gold bagel on the jungle gym. “It’s strategy and survival of the most badass. We’re just giving them a taste of their own piss.”Bookmark here

“Right you are.”Bookmark here

Graphite directed his telescope to another corner of Gwoid Park. The meathead boy, Isho Eep, was wearing a similar fake mustache and wig, and he indicated to Graphite with a thumbs-up. From the top of the large Gwoid Park Welcome Centre, another similarly disguised person—the cross-eyed boy Hodge Dipcringle—also gave Graphite a thumbs-up.Bookmark here

“I saw some people drop their rings southeast of you, Tallyhawk,” Hodge said through the communication earpieces, holding his tablet camera up to his own novelty telescope. “You’ll be able to get a few in a short timeframe.”Bookmark here

“I’m on it,” Tallyhawk replied, her avatar hopping down from the jungle gym. “With my Clairvoyant Radar only at level 3, you guys need to lead me to victory.”Bookmark here

“We’ve got eyes and ears all over this park,” Graphite said, sending his message to his three pals. “Quinn Integrity isn’t gonna give Rover the upper hand this time.”Bookmark here

He knelt and grabbed his cup of sparkling tea, purchased from a tea and bacon vending machine, then took a sip, frowning.Bookmark here

“Although…her sparkling tea is way better than this sludge.”Bookmark here

11!11@11#11$11%11^11&11*11(11)11_11+11Bookmark here

“Aww, your little game dude is all twitchy, Rover.”Bookmark here

“It’s the Paralysis status effect,” Rover growled, not looking at his girlfriend. His hands trembled from anger. “I can’t do anything until it wears off after a minute, and my Goosepack will be out of time before that happens. Until then, I need a favor from you.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity’s face lit up. “Sure! Anything at all!”Bookmark here

“Before that lightning attack hit me,” Rover told her, “there was an in-game object under the jungle gym called a Frightening Rod. Do you remember seeing it?”Bookmark here

“Yep!”Bookmark here

“I need you to find as many as you can. They’re probably close to other rings, just like this one was.” He glanced around, irritated. “I bet Graphite’s crew rigged this. If that’s the case, then there’re probably more Frightening Rods.”Bookmark here

“Aye! I’ll keep my eye out for them!”Bookmark here

“Ha-ha! That’s why I can count on you, Quintegrity.”Bookmark here

To Rover’s surprise, the girl became bashful, kicking at the dirt under her feet as she clasped her hands behind her back.Bookmark here

“Oh gawrsh!” she replied, giving Rover big doe eyes that made him temporarily forget the match he was in. “You flatter me, Rover!”Bookmark here

She hugged him, making him slump in her embrace as his joints failed to keep him upright.Bookmark here

“Pathetic,” Adele snickered from behind.Bookmark here

Lumpy said to Rover, “So, Tallyhawk must’ve had things arranged before the match. That was a nasty trick.”Bookmark here

“Not ‘nasty,’” Rover told him, smirking, “but ‘clever.’ If I wanna stand a chance to keep winning these matches, then we’ll need to up our cleverness, too.”Bookmark here

Lumpy smiled at Rover’s devious expression. “I knew you’d say something like that.”Bookmark here

A small sound effect came from Rover’s phone, alerting him that the Paralysis effect on his character had worn off.Bookmark here

“Time to go!” he said as his character hopped to its feet.Bookmark here

“This way!” Quintegrity said, leading the way. “I’ll tell you when you get to a booby-trapped ring, so just go after them as usual!”Bookmark here

“Got it!” Rover replied.Bookmark here

They chased after Rover’s character, which was still very fast on foot.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 703Bookmark 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… Grand Shyster’s ShoesBookmark here

Acc. 2… Hound Doggo ShnozzBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

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