Chapter 15:

Vol. 1, Ch. 15: Make Your Maximum Your New Minimum!

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

Rover was up late, playing Glove Alien Fight, when he heard his door creak open.Bookmark here

“What do you want?” he muttered, not looking.Bookmark here

Adele walked in, seeing her brother sitting at his desk with his back turned to her and looking at his phone.Bookmark here

“I went to the bathroom and saw your light on,” she said, sounding slightly groggy. “What are you doing?”Bookmark here

Rover didn’t budge. “Leveling up.”Bookmark here

“Ah.” She watched Rover for a few seconds as he remained hunched over his phone, the game’s sound effects filling the quiet room. “Say…how do you feel about Quinn? I mean, you’re dating her, so…”Bookmark here

The game sounds stopped. Rover gazed at his wall, then swiveled in his chair to face his sister.Bookmark here

“Worried,” he said, “and…confused, I guess.”Bookmark here

“You realize if she’s telling the truth about that exile stuff, then that makes her a felon.”Bookmark here

Rover gave some small nods in quick succession, looking at the floor. “A felon…facing a death sentence.”Bookmark here

“It could all be crap, though.”Bookmark here

“I know, and it probably is,” he replied, leaning back in his chair. “Really, part of me thinks it’s true, but the rest of me thinks she’s lying. I hope she’s lying.”Bookmark here

Closing the bedroom door, Adele asked, “What if you find out she really is lying?”Bookmark here

“Then I’ll confront her,” Rover answered right away. “I’ll ask her why she lied. Depending on what she says, I might break up with her or drop out of the Super Club. It would suck, but it’d be hard to trust her.”Bookmark here

“That’d be the easy route. But, theoretically…what if she isn’t lying?”Bookmark here

Rover swiveled back around. “I don’t wanna think about it.”Bookmark here

As the sounds of the game resumed, Adele glanced around the room, eventually landing her eyes on the bookshelf.Bookmark here

“Anyway,” she said, “can I borrow a manga? I want my friend Gale to read I Was an Attorney, but I Woke Up as a Jug of Coolant in My Defendant’s Garage, and I Am Now My Own Evidence against My Case.”Bookmark here

“No way! The last time Gale borrowed my manga, she lost it.”Bookmark here

“It wasn’t her fault,” Adele said, walking to Rover’s bookshelf. “That was during the lunch lady strike. We all lost something that day.”Bookmark here

Rover grabbed a shot put ball replica off his desk and hurled it at Adele, hitting her in the stomach.Bookmark here

Poouuhhh!!!” The wind was knocked out of her, and she doubled over, holding her belly. “Ugghh… Y-You got me right in the gut…”Bookmark here

“Don’t just come into my room and go through my stuff.”Bookmark here

“You can’t give me that crap.” Adele straightened up and shot Rover a contemptuous glower. “Dad said you were in my room sniffing my perfume.”Bookmark here

“Uhhh…”Bookmark here

“Pretty weird, man.”Bookmark here

Smirking, Rover said, “At least I waited until you weren’t home. You just came in here without knocking, knowing I was here.”Bookmark here

Adele crossed her arms. “Waiting until I wasn’t home to go into my bedroom makes it less creepy how?”Bookmark here

“You’re lucky I’m just playing a game now,” he said. “Considering what time it is, it’s very possible you could have caught me yanking my yeti.”Bookmark here

Ew!” Adele cringed and covered her ears. “Okay, okay, I’ll leave!”Bookmark here

She promptly skedaddled and slammed the door shut, leaving Rover in peace.Bookmark here

Continuing the game, he snickered. “I knew that’d get her out.”Bookmark here

15!15@15#15$15%15^15&15*15(15)15_15+15Bookmark here

Rover spent his entire weekend playing Glove Alien Fight to level up, going straight through Sundun-day and Nundinum-day without doing much else.Bookmark here

“Where’s Quinn?” Dad asked Rover at dinner Nundinum-day evening. “I haven’t see her around lately. Does she still like cooking?”Bookmark here

Mom gave Dad a sad look. “Do you dislike my chicken fried rice, dear? All the best market deals are on Nundinum-days, and it was mostly chicken and rice this week.”Bookmark here

“Um…y-your fried rice is exquisite, dear.”Bookmark here

“You’d rather have Rover’s girlfriend cook?”Bookmark here

Dad cleared his throat, but took too long to answer, earning him an icy stare from Mom.Bookmark here

“I’m mostly curious about Rover’s first love,” he said, smirking. “A young boy has his needs!”Bookmark here

Adele already had her hands over her ears, but Rover spoke before Dad could add to the fire.Bookmark here

“She’s just doing her own thing,” Rover answered, not looking up from his bowl. “I guess I need to figure out if I want to be a part of it. Until then, we’ll give each other some space.”Bookmark here

Mom and Dad both dropped their forks at once, their eyes tearing up as they smiled at their son.Bookmark here

“You sound so grown up!” they said in unison.Bookmark here

Rover grimaced. It’s annoying when they sync up like that.Bookmark here

15!15@15#15$15%15^15&15*15(15)15_15+15Bookmark here

Throughout school on Mondee-day, Rover struggled not to nod off at any random moment. His head bobbed and eyes flickered while sitting in class. He would snore himself awake while riding the escalators between floors. During lunch, he would have face-planted into his own food if Lumpy hadn’t caught him.Bookmark here

Gotta level up, Rover kept telling himself, playing Glove Alien Fight at all times between classes.Bookmark here

The four Super Club members trekked across the Courtmeadows to the Clubhaus, keeping to the paved pathway so Rover wouldn’t fall over on the springy lawn. Keeping his eyes open was easier as the sun wasn’t out, reducing the glare from the lilygrass.Bookmark here

Quintegrity massaged Rover’s shoulders as they walked, an entertained grin plastered on her face.Bookmark here

“You’re feeling a little slumpish there, Rover,” she chortled. “Those all-nighters chipping away at you? I don’t hear from you for two days, and look at what’s become of you! Ha-ha-ha-ha!”Bookmark here

“I’m chipper as a chipper!” Rover slurred as he walked, playing Glove Alien Fight on his phone.Bookmark here

“Dude, that made no sense,” Lumpy said, raising his eyebrows, “and you haven’t slept the last few nights…or days, for that matter. You should really get some sleep.”Bookmark here

Rover shook his head, not to disagree with Lumpy, but to shake the sleepiness out of him—it wasn’t very effective.Bookmark here

“I gotta keep playing Glove Alien Fight,” he replied, straightening his back as his vision vibrated from the lack of shuteye. “At thish rate…I’ll reach the maxshimum level by some night…or night…”Bookmark here

“Onward and upward!” Quintegrity cheered, high-stepping while exaggerating her arm swings with each stride. “Use your passion as a rocket-powered battery pack to achieve your maximum, Rover! Achieve beyond maximum!! Make your maximum your new minimum!!!”Bookmark here

Rover pumped his fist into the air like it was a rock tied to a rubber band, and his arm flopped back to his side where it dangled like an untied shoelace.Bookmark here

“For real, Big Bro,” Adele said with a sigh, “be careful. They say brain damage starts after about three straight days of being awake. Because your brain was already defective right out of the package, you’d best wrangle in your remaining neurons before they get taken out to pasture.”Bookmark here

“Is that because it’s pasture bedtime, Rover?” Daremont called as he ran past, laughing into the overcast skies.Bookmark here

“Sleep deprivation is sooo good for your grades!” Olaf added monotonously, running alongside Daremont.Bookmark here

Lumpy groaned, dragging his hand down his face. “Somebody should put those kids away.”Bookmark here

“I think they’re targeting me…” Rover grunted, dragging his feet on the paved path. He commanded his onscreen character to throw a Bomb into a nest of Mutant Ants, killing dozens of them and earning him magnetic coins as he leveled up.Bookmark here

15!15@15#15$15%15^15&15*15(15)15_15+15Bookmark here

They entered the Super Club penthouse, stepping over the kicked-down door. Dragging his feet to the living room, Rover paused his game, dropped his phone on the couch, then plopped down onto the cushions. By the time Quintegrity repaired the door (“Good job, Ryuumba-chan!”), Rover was curled up on the couch with his eyes closed.Bookmark here

“Hey!” Adele barked at her brother. Seeing he didn’t respond, she groaned. “Well, better to sleep now than never, I guess.”Bookmark here

“I’ll go prepare the sparkling tea,” Quintegrity told them, dancing across the living room. “It’s my new flavor, and you get to be my guinea rats! Chrysanthemum with lemon grass and extra serendipity. Trust me, that last one makes all the difference!”Bookmark here

She skipped to the kitchen. Lumpy and Adele leaned in close to whisper to each other.Bookmark here

Adele asked, “What if those weird appliances are stolen government machines?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know.” Lumpy shrugged. “I was gonna ask what ‘serendipity’ tastes like…”Bookmark here

A citrusy, floral aroma wafted around the room as Quintegrity brought the tray of human skull-shaped teacups and unicorn skull-shaped teapot. The clinking sound of her placing the tray on the sea-marble coffee table jarred Rover awake.Bookmark here

“H-Huh?!” He glanced around with bloodshot eyes and a panicked expression. “How long was I out???”Bookmark here

“You still are,” Adele told him straightforwardly.Bookmark here

“Oh no!” Rover jumped up. “I-I’m wasting time sleeping! I gotta level up!”Bookmark here

Adele snickered. “Punch yourself in the face. That’ll wake you up.”Bookmark here

Rover threw a punch at his own face, but Quintegrity caught his fist just before the hit. Confused, he looked at his girlfriend who smiled and shook her head.Bookmark here

“Adele!” Rover snapped. “Nice try.”Bookmark here

“Mwa-ha-haaa! Almost got you.”Bookmark here

“Now that we’re all present and conscious,” Quintegrity said, clapping her hands together, “I want to show you all something! Wait right here.”Bookmark here

In five seconds, she retrieved a cardboard box from the next room, placed it on the floor by the coffee table, and removed some of its contents for the others to see.Bookmark here

Lumpy scratched his head at what Quintegrity was holding.Bookmark here

“Uh…fake mustaches?” he asked. “And wigs. And communication earpieces…”Bookmark here

“This is how I’ll be better at helping Rover,” Quintegrity said with a big smile. “During his video game matches, I’ll disguise myself and communicate with these little gadgets that fit right over our ears.”Bookmark here

“That’s pretty smart,” Rover said, taking one of the earpieces and examining it.Bookmark here

“It wasn’t my idea,” Quintegrity said, sticking a fake mustache under her nose. “I learned this tactic after interrogating Graphite.”Bookmark here

Adele peered at her. “When you say ‘interrogate,’ what did you do…?”Bookmark here

“O-h0-ho-ho-ho!” Quintegrity twirled her mustache with a villainous laugh. “I knew something was suspicious during that match with Belt Girl. Come to find out, her friends were wearing these kinds of disguises and communicating with similar earpieces. They watched where the Ring Hiders stashed their goods and relayed that info to Belt Girl!”Bookmark here

“Tch.” Rover clicked his tongue, holding the earpiece in his fist. “Those bastards. Tallyhawk wouldn’t have won.”Bookmark here

“But we have the greatest secret weapon.” Quintegrity placed a wig on her head, which was dreadlocks with a top hat, and she put her hands on her hips. “Me!”Bookmark here

Rover sneered, putting the earpiece on. “All right! Whoever challenges me next won’t know what him ’em!”Bookmark here

Quintegrity ran around the living room with her arms straight out at her sides, making airplane noises. Lumpy and Adele tried on some of the different wigs for themselves, seeing how goofy they could look and taking pictures with their phones. Rover resumed playing Glove Alien Fight.Bookmark here

Somehow, amid the shenanigans, they got a lot done for planning the Operation Maid Invasion café fundraiser. At the end of the meeting, after Lumpy and Adele packed up their notes, they noticed Quintegrity was still sitting and writing in her notebook.Bookmark here

“Aren’t you done, Quinn?” Lumpy asked her. “We’re heading out.”Bookmark here

Adele looked at Rover who was busy playing his game as he shuffled toward the door; she knew he was paying attention, only pretending to ignore the conversation as everyone awaited Quintegrity’s answer.Bookmark here

Quintegrity smiled at the other members.Bookmark here

“Very well,” she said, her voice soft and sweet like the sparkling tea she’d been sipping. “I still have some things to do. You all go on ahead.”Bookmark here

“Okay…” Adele said, grabbing the doorknob. “Good day, Quinn.”Bookmark here

“And good day to you all, as well.”Bookmark here

However, Rover stayed in the room. He looked up from his phone, Lumpy and Adele watching him.Bookmark here

“Quinn,” he said.Bookmark here

She giggled. “I thought I asked you to call me ‘Quintegrity.’”Bookmark here

“Quintegrity…” Lost for words, Rover wondered why he’d chosen to say anything at all. He gazed at the gorgeous girl sitting in her cushy chair with her notebook. “…Have a good night.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity’s smile widened. “You too, Rover!”Bookmark here

Rover was the last one out, closing the door behind him. The three of them headed down the fifth floor’s sole hallway and entered the elevator—he kept playing the game.Bookmark here

“Do you think,” Lumpy asked on their way down, “Quinn got those disguises to, ya know…hide?”Bookmark here

“I think so.” Adele nodded. “Probably to hide from the government people looking for her, assuming she really is back from exile and on the run.”Bookmark here

Rover defeated an in-game enemy, not saying anything.Bookmark here

“But,” Lumpy said, “it doesn’t make sense for her to come back. Right, Rover?”Bookmark here

“I guess.”Bookmark here

Lumpy studied his best friend, seeing his face was already worn down from sleepiness.Bookmark here

“However,” Rover added, pausing his game, “you know what’s really bothering me the most about it?” He slid the phone into his pants pocket as the elevator reached the ground floor. “I wonder what she did to get exiled in the first place.”Bookmark here

“Assuming she’s telling the truth,” Adele said, stepping out of the elevator in the Clubhaus lobby.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Rover muttered, “assuming that.”Bookmark here

“Honestly,” Adele said, “she’s dumb for telling us all that. How does she know we won’t turn her in?” When Rover glared at her, she held up her hands. “Not saying I will! Jeez, if looks could kill…”Bookmark here

“She trusts us,” Rover told them as they walked through the lobby. “And until I learn more about whether or not she’s lying, then I’m gonna trust her, too.”Bookmark here

Lumpy laughed. “I know you, dude. You really mean that, and not just because she helps you for Glove Alien Fight. You really like her.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah.” Rover blushed. “I do really like her. It’s weird, but I feel I can really understand her…like we’re communicating without communicating.”Bookmark here

“Are you talking about those weird, funky, danceable vibes that she gives off?” Adele asked. “I swear I get music stuck in my head—or in my entire body—when she starts groovin’ and feelin’ the moment.”Bookmark here

“She does have that effect,” Rover said with a faint smile.Bookmark here

They exited the Clubhaus building, feeling the late afternoon air approach the perfect temperature.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 790Bookmark here

All Money… {T}35,700Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}34,700Bookmark here

Fundraiser… {T}0Bookmark here

Food Slip… {T}1,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

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

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

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Gloves… BeelzebubBookmark here

Armor… Jinnin TunicBookmark here

Acc. 1… Bug RepellantBookmark here

Acc. 2… Yakuza ToolsBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

<None>Bookmark here

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